I put a spell on you – 'cause you're mine
Teal'c watched Jon comfort Dawn as they waited for Buffy to come out of the intensive care room at Wolfram and Hart’s infirmary and he tried not to grieve. He remembered how Buffy had dreamed about Spike and the conversation they had had. She had thought it might be a prophetic dream at the time, but neither had known what it meant and her conversation with Giles had not yielded any conclusions. Now, though Teal'c’s demeanor was stoic as usual, his thoughts and emotions were anything but. Even a few hours ago, everything in his life had been coming together. The government had finally agreed to grant him full and unrestricted citizenship and the slow wheels of bureaucratic process had begun to turn. Once he was fully free of restraints, he had planned to ask Buffy to be joined to him in marriage – both earth marriage and Jaffa marriage.
Now, however, Teal’c was uncertain of the best course of action. Buffy had pledged her love and he had known her pledge to be an honest one. Still, despite her protestations, he knew she could not possibly have foreseen this eventuality. He tried to imagine being faced with a choice between Shau'nac and Buffy and although he was certain he would choose Buffy, he knew he would be deeply torn even after all these years since their relationship had ended. The circumstances were not the same, however. He had gotten over her while she yet lived. It would have been quite a different matter had she been taken from him during their time together and abruptly returned within the year.
He had a decision to make. Should he continue to court her, to do his best to woo her, in hopes of winning her hand, in spite of Spike’s return? Or would it be more honorable to simply step back and allow her to return to the one with whom she had shared so many battles and who he believed to be both honorable and worthy of her from everything that Buffy had shared and from the things that her friends had let slip. Of particular note was the fact Spike had been willing to forsake evil and even to fight for his human soul simply for his love for Buffy. Then he had been willing to sacrifice himself – for the world – and for Buffy.
Teal'c understood Spike’s motivation. Buffy was peerless. A true warrior and hero. An honorable woman. A woman who had never given up, in spite of all odds, in spite of loss and discouragement. A woman with a true and giving heart who had been willing to give her all for those she loved. A woman whose beauty shone from her, inside to out. A woman who brought him joy and laughter and who had freed his spirit like no other. To be with her was more than he had dared hope for at first, even for one night. A lifetime was something for which he had been afraid to hope even as he recognized that he loved her. These months, he knew he would remember as some of the best of his life even if their partnership were to end here. Teal’c had been unsure that one such as he would hold her attention for the long term, not because she was capricious, but because they came from such different worlds and because, in spite of the new circumstances, she would never walk away from her calling.
She had known that this was an awkward situation and offered to meet him back at the hotel after her visit to Wolfram and Hart, but he had known that she was upset and afraid and he had always intended to support her in her encounters with Angel, something he had known she dreaded. As things had turned out, however, she had been so furious at Angel’s deception about Spike that she had not remembered to be anxious about meeting Angel. Teal'c suspected that even her friendship with Angel was now no longer viable. Any anxiety that Teal'c had had about Buffy and Angel, he now saw was unwarranted. Angel was, at best, irrelevant to Buffy.
Teal'c had never told Buffy how little respect he’d developed for Angel from the stories he’d heard, mostly from Xander. Though it was clear envy played more than a small part in the young man’s antipathy toward the vampire, he had noticed that Xander was also quite perceptive, particularly about character and relationships. Even though Teal'c did not get the impression that Xander held any great affection for Spike, it was clear there was more than a modicum of respect. Today, Teal'c had seen horror and concern on Xander’s face when he’d seen how badly injured Spike was. By contrast, the looks Xander had given Angel when he’d realized that Angel had withheld information had been potently venomous. Angel would do well to tread carefully where Xander was concerned.
The glass doors slid open and Buffy emerged from the curtained critical care suite. Her eyes were reddened from crying, but she was composed and almost too calm. Teal'c put his arms around her and she laid her head against his chest, sighing softly as she allowed herself the comfort of his embrace. Teal’c knew no answers were going to be forthcoming right away. He allowed himself to savor the experience of holding her.
Buffy called a meeting immediately after dinner.
“I think Angel’s hiding something,” said Buffy when the six of them were seated in their room.
“Hiding something?” asked Dawn. “Like what?”
“I so have no idea,” said Buffy. “Just— there’s something going on and I think it has something to do with why they’re even at Wolfram and Hart.”
“Why do you say that? I mean, it’s Angel, Buffy. I know he was your one true love and everything, but that’s a lot of power he’s got.”
“Don’t be so sure, Xander,” said Willow. “I’m not sure how much control they really have— I mean, Wolfram and Hart is worldwide. I don’t get why they would put Angel in charge at all, but if he’s not working for them it has to be some kind of trap, right?”
“Yeah, ‘cause I don’t think even Angelus would work for Wolfram and Hart. I don’t think it’s anywhere in Angel to accept that kind of control,” said Dawn.
“Exactly!” said Buffy. “Angel’s a lot of things, but he’s not an idiot.”
Buffy rolled her eyes.
“The last time I talked to him about Wolfram and Hart before he took over, he hated them. Yet, when we came to L.A. after everything, he had nothing to say but how they were going to change things from the inside, and use Wolfram and Hart to do good. It didn’t make any sense then, but I was way too exhausted to think about it all that much… but today… He started to say something – I don’t know what. But it’s something big. Either they’re blackmailing him or they did something for him, because as pissed as I am at him about what happened with Spike, I know one thing...”
Buffy paused, her expression pensive.
“What’s that?” asked Willow.
“He hates it there,” said Buffy.
“You mean he joined evil inc. and he’s finally figured out that they’re… evil?” asked Xander. “No! Impossible!”
As serious as Buffy was, she couldn’t help grinning at Xander.
“Why then do you believe he would remain within such a corrupt organization?” asked Teal'c.
“There’s the million dollar question, T,” said Xander.
“Maybe he did it to save somebody,” said Willow slowly… “You know Angel…”
“That would make sense – I mean, he even tried to save Darla when she came back!” said Buffy. “But who?”
“How about you, Buff?” said Xander.
“I don’t think so. We haven’t been close in years. I don’t think…”
“You know he’s still obsessed with you, Buffy,” said Dawn.
“I don’t think it’s me. If it was me, I think he would have wanted to tell me,” said Buffy. “I mean, what’s the point of doing something so big for me without benefiting. We’re not together, so it’s not that…”
“Cordy,” said Xander. “Didn’t he tell us she was in a coma?”
“If that was why, then he didn’t get much for his big deal with the devil,” said Dawn drolly.
“Dawn’s right,” said Buffy. “I can’t believe they’d give up their autonomy on the off chance they might fix her…”
“We should visit her,” said Xander.
Willow and Buffy stared at him.
“You’re right. We should,” said Buffy.
“So, what else would be so important?” asked Dawn.
“There’s only two things important enough to put yourself into an obvious trap,” said Jon. “Family or the woman you love.”
“O’Neill is correct. If he is there against his will, he must have done it to save someone for whom he would sacrifice all,” said Teal'c.
“I would have done it for Charlie. I would have done anything to bring him back,” the words tumbled from Jon in a rush. Then he stopped, profoundly uncomfortable at what he’d revealed. “I—I mean Jack would have – Jack would have done it for Charlie.”
Both Teal'c and Dawn gave him sympathetic looks. Dawn took his hand.
“You did it for me, Buffy. You gave up everything,” said Dawn.
“But Angel doesn’t have any one else,” said Willow.
“What if he did a memory spell?” asked Dawn. “What if— someone he loved was in so much danger… he had to hide them.”
“I don’t know, Dawnie,” said Buffy. “Who could be in so much danger?”
“Maybe someone he didn’t want us to know about?” asked Xander.
“You don’t think he’d prefer to tell us than evil incorporated?” asked Buffy.
“You have a point,” said Xander, grimacing and shrugging at the same time.
“Maybe you should ask him,” said Teal'c. “He is obviously willing to practice deception…”
“What? Oh, Spike,” said Buffy.
“Indeed,” said Teal'c. “Perhaps it is another lie of omission…”
“I think I’m gonna find out,” said Buffy.
“Let me come with,” said Willow. “I can…”
Willow hesitated, looking profoundly uncomfortable.
“I can do a spell that will tell us if he’s hiding something,” said Willow.
“Can you do a spell to determine whether magic has been performed upon your memories?” asked Teal'c.
“Of course!” said Willow. “Teal'c, you’re a genius!”
“I do not believe that to be the case,” said Teal'c.
“I mean – it’s brilliant idea!” said Willow.
“Do you have… everything you need?” asked Buffy.
“I think so – it’s just—”
“What?” asked Buffy.
“We need to do this outside… somewhere I can lay out all the ingredients properly. There isn’t enough space in our rooms – and anyway, I don’t really want to explain to Holiday Inn why there are burn marks in their carpet.”
“Probably not,” said Buffy, looking disappointed.
“Could we do it on the roof?” asked Jon.
“That would work – if we could get up there,” said Willow.
“I’m sure there’s a maintenance door,” said Jon. “Give me ten minutes.”
“Are you sure?” asked Dawn.
“Come with me,” said Jon. “It’s not that hard.”
“What are you getting my sister into?” asked Buffy.
“A spot of breaking and exiting,” Jon said.
He grinned winningly at Buffy. Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Ladies and gentlemen, our tax dollars at work,” said Xander, gesturing at Jon.
“Just don’t get arrested,” said Buffy. “I really don’t want to have to get Angel’s lawyer buddies to get you two out of jail.”
“I think I’d rather stay in jail,” said Dawn.
“Being locked up is overrated,” said Jon.
“Just don’t, OK?” said Buffy.
“It’ll be fine. Worst case, we convince someone we were going up there to make out and they’ll turn us over to the adults,” said Jon, grinning.
It was a clear night and the lights of Los Angeles glittered around them as far as the eye could see. Buffy stood near the edge with Teal'c as they waited for Willow to lay out her ingredients. They had actually ended up visiting a bodega for a proper complement of candles and for a few more herbs, which the bodega fortunately had.
“I’m gonna do a general reversal spell first,” said Willow. “This is one that will undo most spells cast on us, but it has a really big advantage over the one I was originally going to do…”
“What’s that?” asked Buffy, more out of politeness than real interest. She was tired and magical explanations weren’t actually that high on her list at the best of times.
“It will show if there are any spells on us that haven’t been released.”
“That sounds good,” said Buffy, genuinely impressed.
“Yeah, ‘cause Buffy, I’m thinking… if this is something Wolfram and Hart did… It’s gotta be something pretty big,” said Willow.
“Good thinking,” said Xander. “Big hairy evil. Big hairy spell.”
“What he said,” said Willow as she began to draw a huge circle in chalk and to inscribe various symbols at specific points around it.
Jon and Teal'c exchanged glances as Willow prepared her spell. Neither knew what to expect. This was nothing like the first night they’d met. Both had a feeling this was going to be a very big deal.
Once Willow had completed the circle and placed all the items in the circle, she said a few words in Latin; then she gave Xander a large container of salt and picked one up herself. Starting from the same spot, they began to lay a line of salt around the entire walkable perimeter of the roof. Willow and Xander walked in opposite directions, meeting at the opposite side of the roof and closing the salt line. The entire group was now within the contiguous salt barrier.
“Whatever you do, and whatever happens; do not cross or break the salt barrier until we’re done. This is to protect us from anything that might try to stop us from ending the spell. Anyone or any thing that is powerful enough to alter all our memories, especially anyone who has anything to do with Wolfram and Hart? It’s gonna be pretty dangerous!” said Willow. “Everyone except for Teal'c and Jon, stand inside the circle.”
Buffy, Xander and Dawn stepped into the circle, taking care not to step on anything on the ground. This left them standing near the middle.
“What about you?” asked Buffy.
“Gimmie a sec,” said Willow.
Willow sprinkled holy water on the chalk line, then carefully stepped over it and as she did, it glowed slightly. She took the piece of chalk and overwrote that spot; then she wrote a symbol right at the point where she had stepped over the line. After that, she joined the others in the middle of the circle.
“Here,” she said, giving each of them a small bundle wrapped in a piece of cloth, she tucked a similar bundle into her bra, since her dress didn’t have pockets. “You’re going to need these.”
“These look like those protection bundles you used to make, Wil,” said Buffy, puzzled.
“Why do we need them? Didn’t you do those anti-hex protection spells on us after what Amy did to you?” asked Xander.
“She’s gonna remove them,” said Dawn, “This spell takes everything away, right?”
“Dawn’s right,” said Willow. “It’s the only way to be sure that there’s no magic attached to us. The bags aren’t as strong and you have to carry them, but once we’re done here, I can redo the protection spells – I can actually strengthen them now.”
“OK,” said Buffy. “Wait, won’t it affect the magic that made Dawn?”
“It will probably make us remember what it was like before she came more clearly, but it won’t affect Dawn… or the resurrection spell. It won’t kill either of you, Buffy – that’s different magic. The reason I have to take the protection spells off is so I can perform any magic on you.”
“Oh, OK,” said Buffy. “Good. Just wanted to make sure Dawn would be OK.”
“She’ll be fine,” said Willow. “Damn, if I had done them right after Amy, we would probably remember whatever it is we’re not supposed to remember.”
Willow was apologetic.
“We were kind of occupied, with the end of the world, Wil, don’t worry!” said Buffy. “As long as it won’t hurt Dawn, we’re good.”
Willow noticed that Buffy didn’t mention the spell that affected her own existence at all. She hoped that didn’t mean Buffy was still indifferent about being alive. After all, it seemed to Willow that Buffy had everything to live for. Of course, now Spike was back, who knew what was going to happen with Buffy and Teal'c? Willow hoped it wouldn’t mean the end to the happiness she’d begun to see in Buffy. Willow still felt guilty about the suffering she had caused even though she couldn’t bring herself to regret the fact that Buffy was alive. Xander’s voice brought her back to the present.
“Cool,” said Xander. “What now?”
“We hold hands,” said Willow. “I chant. Then, when I tell you, you repeat after me, OK?”
Willow began to chant in what sounded to Jon suspiciously like Latin. Thanks to Daniel and the Stargate program, he’d been exposed to more Latin than any normal man needed to know.
Jon and Teal'c watched as the circle began to glow. Then they noticed that the salt line, which should have been invisible in the dark, seemed to sparkle, brilliant white, like a line of tiny diamonds lit from within. The candles around the circle each ignited, one after the other, moving clockwise starting with the most northerly candle and slowly describing a circle of light around the four inside. Then the four red candles at their feet began to glow – not just the wicks, which had ignited once the outer circle was complete but the candles too, a rich red glow. Now the symbols that Willow had drawn were all glowing as well. The roof was bathed in warm light.
“Wow! Wild!” said Jon softly.
Teal'c caught his eye and nodded.
As Willow continued her chant, each symbol glowed brighter.
“Now repeat after me,” she said. “In the name of all that is true...”
“In the name of all that is true,” said the others.
“Let the yokes of all magics be broken,” she said
“Let the yokes of all magics be broken,” they echoed.
“Let us be freed absolutely.”
“Let us be freed absolutely.”
“Let all spells be ended.”
“Let all spells be ended.”
“Let all that is hidden be revealed.”
“Let all that is hidden be revealed.”
By this time, Jon and Teal'c noticed that as the four held hands, their hands and forearms had begun to glow yellow-gold. Willow, however had become a light source herself. Her hair radiated a brilliant luminous gold and slowly her whole body became suffused in golden light.
“So mote it be,” said Willow, her voice sounding almost musical.
“So mote it be,” said the others.
Suddenly, it seemed as if the wind around the top of the building had picked up. From the tops of each of the four’s heads were greenish light trails that stretched up into the sky and fanned out almost like a fountain of light… to the edge of the building, within the salt line. As the trails ‘touched’ the perimeter, it was as if they had run into a wall and Teal'c and Jon realized the whole ‘wall’ was glowing as the green light ‘slid’ down the invisible barrier, completing the fountain effect with the light passing over their heads and surrounding them.
“That’s one hell of a light show,” said Jon.
Then there was a loud bang, like a thunderclap, and both men’s eyes were immediately focused on the four at the center of a whirlwind of light. They could hear Willow chanting, and now even her eyes glowed with unearthly power. For Jon and Teal'c, seeing Willow’s eyes glow that way was deeply unsettling. Unsettling became frankly disturbing, as something dark and shadowlike seemed to fall from them almost like a rain of ash, pooling in an inky black cloud that swirled serpentine around their feet. There were flecks of red within the black and the effect put Jon in mind of what he imagined hellfire might look like.
Willow continued to chant, louder now, as if she was fighting something. The dark cloud roiled and swirled, as if alive. Jon found himself holding his breath. If he still prayed, he probably would have been praying. Teal'c’s fists were tightly clenched and his mouth was set in a grim line. He had the strong impulse to run into the circle and rescue Buffy and the others.
“Release us, we beseech you, release us, release us,” Willow repeated this over and over again, with greater vehemence, her voice full of authority and power, speaking in Latin and English, but the words were the same. “RELEASE US, RELEASE US, RELEASE US!”
There was a crackling, popping sound as each of the bottles containing the candle wax simply exploded and the candles went out. Then the glow of the circle began to fade, though it didn’t completely extinguish. The four in the circle began to sway. Then they collapsed in an untidy heap.
Jon made to move forward, but Teal'c stopped him.
“Wait,” said Teal'c. “We do not know if it is complete.”
“They could be hurt,” said Jon.
“I believe it would be unwise to interrupt them,” said Teal'c gesturing at the black cloud that swirled around the four but didn’t seem to touch them or leave the circle.
“What should we do?” asked Jon.
“We wait,” said Teal'c. “If they continue as they are for more than a few minutes, we can consider a different course of action.”
For almost a minute, nothing happened. The circle continued to glow faintly and the four lay in the center of it, motionless. Then Willow clambered to her feet and raised her hands.
“Goddess protect us, we beseech you! May darkness be broken with light,” said Willow, turning and making a cutting motion with her two clasped hands at twelve o’clock, at three o’clock, then six o’clock and nine o’clock on the circle. Then she faced twelve o’clock again and raised her hands. “May darkness be exiled, may the unclean be gone.”
Then she clapped her hands together hard and flame seemed to erupt around the four friends, briefly engulfing them. Then as quickly as it had appeared, before either Teal'c or Jon could react, it was gone and with it, the dark cloud. The glow of the circle and the symbols slowly faded to nothing. The only sign of the magic that had been performed was the circle of broken candle bottles and scorch marks beneath where they had stood. Of the wax that had once been contained within them was no sign.
Then Willow was kneeling between her friends.
“Buffy, Xander, Dawn!” she shook each slightly.
The three began to stir.
“Did you get the license plate?” said Xander, rubbing the side of his head.
“Damn!” said Dawn. “That hurt!”
“That was fun! Not!” said Buffy. “Whoa…”
“Is it just me…” said Xander.
“It’s not just you,” said Buffy, squeezing her eyes tightly shut.
“A son?” said Willow. “Angel has a son.”
“I can’t believe he slept with that skank…”
“That’s what you said the last time,” said Dawn, chuckling.
“I can understand why he’d want to hide the part about Darla, but why hide the fact that he had a son?”
“Wait…” said Dawn. “I know… the hostage situation…”
“What hostage situation?” asked Xander and Willow simultaneously.
“At the sporting goods store,” said Buffy.
“He was going to kill her,” said Dawn.
“What the hell are you guys talking about?” asked Xander.
“It was on television… they had the TV on at school,” said Dawn.
“You must have been at work,” said Dawn to Xander.
“And you must have been in class,” said Buffy to Willow.
“How come you never told us?” asked Xander.
“I think – Oh my god! I think that must have been when they did the spell!” said Buffy.
“That makes sense,” said Dawn. “The last thing I remember…”
“...was Angel with a knife,” said Buffy.
“Oh god,” said Dawn. “Did he kill him?”
“I don’t know,” said Buffy.
“I guess that would be something he’d want to hide,” said Dawn. “I mean… if he killed his own kid on TV.”
“I don’t think any court would prosecute him for saving all those people, Dawn,” said Buffy. “Connor had explosives… and he had Cordy and a whole lot of hostages. If anything, Angel would be a hero for stopping him.”
“Then why would he need to hide it?” asked Dawn.
“No idea,” said Buffy. “But I think we need to find out. But, I think we've figured one thing. We know who's so important that Angel would do anything to save him.”