Chapter 40: A New Plan
Chapter 40: A New Plan
A/N: Slight AtS canon change… ‘The Girl in Question’
happened before ‘A Hole in the World’
Warning: Language in this chapter; might seem OOC, but it’s a tense situation.
Challenge: #4472 ‘Bunny is my what?’
Thanks to my beta: Chrislover. Sorry if I missed anything.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. NCIS characters belong to Donald Bellisario, Don McGill and CBS Paramount Television. Jack Ryan and his friends belong to Tom Clancy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.Posted in Honor of – spk giving me my 7000th review and requesting an update for this story - on TtH!
The portal took Tara, Oz and Buffy to a Council safehouse in LA. They found a note from Faith – who had been transported by the coven directly to LA – and took the short walk to Wolfram & Hart to catch up with her.
Faith met them just outside the gleaming new building. “Thought I’d take a sneak peek while I waited for you guys to show up. There’s nothing going on that screams ‘end of the world’ – other than the normal shit that comes from this place. So how do you want to play this, B?” she asked, gesturing to Evil Inc.
Barely pausing to think about it, Buffy answered, “I’m thinking hardball. We don’t have time to fuck around with trying to be diplomatic.”
“Look at you, girl…dropping an f-bomb,” Faith said with a smirk as she opened the front door with one hand; with the other, she grabbed a hidden weapon from her jacket. She gave a fake sniffle and exclaimed, “I’m so proud!”
“Bite me,” Buffy shot back as she grabbed the Scythe from her bag.
Bumping her sister-Slayer with her shoulder as the blonde passed, Faith teased, “Nah, not into the vamp scene.”
As soon as they stepped over the threshold, security rushed forward to intercept the quartet. Of course, it might have had something to do with the weapons Faith and Buffy were blatantly holding in their hands, or maybe the spell ingredients that Oz and Tara were carrying in their bags.
Whatever the reason, Buffy stepped forward and glared at the guards, using her harshest, pissed off look. “I’m Buffy Summers and these are my friends and co-workers,” she introduced her group in a vague sort of way. “We are
going to see Angel or Wes right away. Any human who gets in our way has a hospital stay in their immediate future; any demon who does the same might not be that lucky. Do we understand each other?” she demanded coldly.
The two new hires didn’t know who she was, so they stepped forward with sneers on their faces. Before the Slayers could move, the pair turned to dust, staked from behind by their human colleagues.
The taller human explained, “They were too stupid to let them exist. Even before the change in management, all
members of Wolfram & Hart’s security staff were supposed to know who the current Slayer was and to try and avoid a direct confrontation if possible.”
One of the demon security guards added, “Demon Resources were definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel with the latest batch of new hires. May we escort you to the executive level? If only to keep more of our employees from dying?” he added with a smirk.
“As long as you don’t try to stall or capture us,” Buffy replied as they were led to the elevators, weapons still out and ready to use.
The demon replied, “A match up against a Slayer might be tempting under different circumstances, but I promise it won’t happen today.”~~~~~~Executive floor
When they stepped off the elevators, Harmony looked over and squeaked in alarm. “I’ve been off human blood since I started here – except for that one time when this bitch from the steno pool was trying to set me up and spiked my animal blood with human and speaking of spikes, are you here to win my Blondie Bear back…because you can’t have him!” she rambled in an almost Willowesque fashion.
Faith shook her head at the high-pitched shriek at the end and pleaded, “Even if she isn’t evil, why can’t we kill her?”
“Partly because the new Council’s motto is to only kill evil
demons, not annoying ones, but mostly because she’s Angel’s problem, not ours. He’s the one who has to deal with her all the time,” Buffy reminded, smiling at the thought.
“Talk about a rough road to redemption,” Faith quipped, letting out a low whistle. She wasn’t sure she could do it…although she had Andrew to deal with, so maybe they were even.
Harmony pouted at the soft comments between the Slayers. “You don’t have to be so mean about it; I have feelings too,” she said, letting them know she heard them.
Ignoring that issue for a more pressing one, Buffy asked, “Where’s Angel or Wes, Harmony?”
Rather than try to demand an apology from them, Harmony answered right away, “They’re visiting Fred down in the infirmary. She got blasted by something in her lab.” After all, these were Slayers who were carrying weapons; Harmony knew it was best not to piss them off any more than they already looked.
With a sinking feeling in her stomach, Tara inquired, “Was it a sarcophagus?”
Harmony looked at Tara in surprise. “Yes! How did you know?”
“Nevermind,” Buffy interrupted, anxious to get started now that they knew it was a ‘save’ mission and not a ‘retrieve’ one. “We need you to take us there right away.”~~~~~~Infirmary
When they came into the room, Angel glanced at his ex angrily. The suspicion in his voice practically dripped when he asked, “What are you doing here?”
“When we couldn’t reach you on the phone, we came to warn you about the sarcophagus, but apparently we’re too late for that. Now we’re here to do what we can to save Fred’s life…if we’re able to,” Buffy added, not entirely confident in their plan, but willing to trust the people who came up with it.
Still glaring, Angel snapped, “And just why
should we let you try? I thought your group didn’t trust us anymore. And last I heard, you were ‘busy’ with the Immortal.” Everyone in the room could feel the quote marks around the word busy. Didn’t take a genius to figure out what he thought she was doing with the Immortal; even Harmony got it.
By that point, Buffy was rolling her eyes at his mini-tantrum. This was the CEO of a company? “First of all, I would never
trust Wolfram & Hart with any of my girls – even if I
were the one in charge of the LA branch, so deal.” She took a moment to pause and gather her thoughts, then, knowing she couldn’t tell him about any Council secrets that didn’t involve him directly, said pointedly, “Second, is my personal life really more important than saving your friend?” The Council’s alliance with the Immortal hadn’t reached its conclusion just yet, so her lookalikes were still ‘dating’ him.
Thankfully, Spike interjected before Angel could say anything else, “Shut it, Peaches! Good to see you, Slayer. Do you know what’s happening to our girl?”
Quirking an eyebrow at the possessive tone in his voice, Buffy explained, sounding nothing like the blonde ditz any of them remembered from Sunnydale, “She’s been infected by an Old One. The sarcophagus that was delivered here came from the Deeper Well where all the Old Ones were imprisoned. This one is eating away her body to get it ready for the new owner.”
Stunned by the blunt way she said it, Wes pleaded, “Isn’t there anything we can do to stop it?”‘Huh, guess he loves her. That could help during the spell.’
Buffy nodded at Tara to finish the explanation.
“We have an idea, but we aren’t sure if it will work. It actually could end up making the situation worse,” Tara warned.
“Fred’s dying and an Old One is coming back…how could it get worse?” Angel demanded, still stung at Buffy’s dismissal of his earlier concerns and worried about his friend.
Tara answered just as bluntly as Buffy did before, “There could be another dozen people dying and a small army of demi-Old Ones. That is why we need your promise that if it does blow up in our faces, you won’t hesitate to kill us all…or at the very least, won’t stop Oz from killing us.”
Although she was becoming weak, Fred spoke up from her bed, “You can’t risk yourselves for me. If I’m really that much of a danger, just kill me before it happens.”
Unwilling to let her die without a fight, Wes asked, “What is your plan, and how can I help?”
“First, we need to move Fred and the sarcophagus to a place that’s clear of evil energy, preferably a field or a meadow. Then we’ll create a circle of protection to keep the Old One’s essence from escaping into the general population. Our hope is that by focusing the spell through the Slayer’s Scythe and funneling the essence into more people, it will be diluted to the point where it can’t destroy any single individual. The people getting the essence will have a little something extra in them so they have some
resistance to fight it,” Tara assured the group.
Narrowing his eyes at the blonde who used to be his enemy, then captor, then friend, then object of his obsession, then back to friend, Spike commented as if he knew the answer, “You’re one of those people, aren’t you, Slayer?”
Buffy nodded, “And half a dozen other Slayers, plus half a dozen more wiccans from the coven. It was decided that seven on each side was mathematically special or something. The other groups are waiting on clean spots for our signal.”
“So I might be respon--?” Fred started to ask, stricken at the idea of killing the forces of good.
“Stop that right now!” Buffy cut her off before she could finish the sentence. “Unless you knew
what you were releasing, you aren’t to blame. I suggest that the rest of you find out who got the sarcophagus here and blame them
Tara pulled Wes aside and asked, “Would you be willing to be our third point inside the circle? It puts you in harm’s way as well, but it would be better to have somebody there to anchor Fred…somebody she trusts.”
“Whatever you need, I’ll do it,” Wes vowed, struggling to maintain his composure. “I can’t lose her.”~~~~~~An open field
A couple hours later…
Since she was the last of the Chosen
Slayers, Faith was the one who had to perform the spell. Wes, Tara and Buffy created a triangle with their hands over Fred’s body, which was on top of the sarcophagus, while they stood next to her. Everyone within the circle and watching from outside it were wearing all-natural fibers; something Tara explained was helpful unless they wanted to be naked.
Oz called the other teams to let them know the spell was beginning, then Faith started the chant Tara taught her.
When Faith laid the Scythe on top of Fred’s body, Wes put his left hand on the stake end; Tara put hers on the staff; Buffy put hers on the axe end. The trio stacked their right hands over Fred’s heart. It wasn’t comfortable, but they managed without crossing their arms; another thing that apparently was important somehow. Had to do with blocking energy flow or something.
As the spell drew the trio and Fred into a dreamscape, Buffy was reminded of the desert when she talked to the First Slayer during her vision quest.
A sandstorm came up and surrounded them, choking them with the thick air.
Then a curious thing happened… A figure came out of the blowing sand and asked, “Which one of you is my Qwa'ha Xahn?”
A/N: Next…Yup, I’m evil for leaving it there. You know me and my cliffies, though. When I post the next update, this story will turn into a series because there’s a companion story which is important to this, but doesn’t match the flow of B,B,WtD?