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Summary: A season 4 fic, written entirely in unattributed dialogue. A series of mysterious thefts around Sunnydale leave Buffy and Giles each convinced that something different is behind it. So which one of them is right?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralMediancatFR1316,3980287130 Jul 1030 Jul 10Yes
Author's Note: Another one of my older stories, and this one more experimental than most. It's a dialogue fic, with every line of dialogue unattributed. I hope it's easy enough to figure out who's saying what, except for the opening scene, which is intended to be obscure.

It was written during and is set in season 4, when the Scoobies didn't really know Tara all that well.

Disclaimer: Joss owns all. Ave Joss.

X X X X X


Okay, here I am . . .

I can see that.

I thought it might be you.

What gave it away?

Location, location, location.

I thought that might clue you in.

It really wasn't that hard. Who else would want to meet me here?

Still -

Compliment accepted. Now, what are you doing here?

Well, this is really the only place I can fully manifest, and I needed to ask you a favor . . .

I'd really prefer not to do THAT favor for you

Please?

No.

Very well, then -

X X X X X

Morning, sleepyWill.

Good morning, Buffy.

Where'd you go last night?

Wanted to check a location for a possible spell, that's all.

If you'd told me, I would've come with - never can be too careful in this town -

No - I needed to go there alone.

Why?

Specifics of the spell - the caster has to approach alone.

If you say so. Magical mechanics have never been my strong suit.

Maybe if you learned more -

Please! That's like studying, and I already do enough of that in school.

Your loss.

Let me put it this way, Will: Your last major spell almost made me marry Spike.

Um, everyone makes mistakes?

Yup - and you're the expert here. Just think what I could mess up. I'll get that - oh, hi, Tara.

Hello, Buffy. Hey, Willow, the - are you okay?

What do you mean?

I don't know - something seems off. Probably no big deal.

Probably.

Hey, Will, lay off the early, excuse me, late-morning venom.

Sorry about that, Buffy, Tara. What's up?

Oh, that's no problem. Anyway, I was just hoping you didn't have any spells that might need any special

Components - someone tore apart the magic store last night.

Tore it apart, how?

Threw stuff off the shelves, dumped powder on the floor, broke potion bottles, it's total chaos…. No money taken, though.

Hmmm. Any hint who did it?

No, Buffy - looks totally random.

Well, I didn't need any of them right now, but -

Oh, I talked to the owner - she said it should be up and running again in a few days. So, we still on for tonight? More cooperative spellwork?

Huh? Oh, yeah, sure. Um, seven, right?

Midnight, silly! Always midnight. You sure you're okay?

Fine as rain. See you tonight. Buffy, where are you going?

I thought I'd tell Giles about the magic shop and then swing by and check it out. Up to coming?

No - and the shop probably isn't a big deal.

Probably not, but can't hurt to check. Catch you later, Will.

X X X X X

Giles?

Buffy? What is it?

Willow's friend Tara told us the magic shop had been ransacked and I thought I'd swing by and take a look.

Probably just the work of some hoodlums or anti-magic groups.

Maybe, but it's been slow recently. Wanna come with?

Why do I suspect this is not simply an ardent desire for my company?

Because you're smart?

Buffy -

Alright, look, I'm not as up on what powders do what, or what potion gets used in what spell, and I need an expert on the icky stuff, like squid eyes.

So in case anything's been stolen, you'll have me there to know their potential?

Told you you were smart.

Well, I can't say I'm as expert as I'd like, but I'm willing to give it a go.

Cool.

And, by the way, Buffy -

Yes?

Nice thinking ahead.

Well, you know me - I'd probably confuse blasting powder with facial powder.

A suggestion, if I may: Don't put the blasting powder on your face. It'd likely be deeper cleansing than you'd like.

Thanks for the tip.

X X X X X

Hello -

Yeah - oh, hello, Mr. Giles. I hope you weren't needing anything - as you can see, I'm not exactly ready to help . . .

We can see that.

Is - is there anything missing?

Who can tell? I mean, I have powders over here, holy water smashed on the floor, gems in a big pile over there - for all I know they might have stolen half a dozen different things.

So who do you think did it?

I have no idea.

The register wasn't touched - they weren't trying just to pick up some quick cash.

I don't keep my money in there at night, miss -

Buffy. Friend of Giles, friend of Willow, and the point is that a money-hungry crook either would have been smart enough not to hit your store in the first place or too dumb not to bust open the register.

And people on a vendetta tend to make a rather big show of it - no point in starting a riot if no one knows why.

Question: Isn't some of this stuff, you know, volatile? Fire and gasoline volatile?

Yes it is, but, thank the goddess nothing seems to have gone wrong. Imagine if my tyrana powder and the holy water had made contact.

Holy water and tyrana powder have quite a negative reaction. We would all currently be breathing toxic fumes.

Oh. Quite a coincidence, don't you think?

After you're done with the cleanup, could you let us know if anything was stolen? If someone went through lengths this great to cover it up -

I'll do that.

Thanks. I just wish I had someone - well, at least partially in the know - to help me clean this up . . .

X X X X X

Hi - I'm Xander Harris, Buffy told you about me?

You know about magic?

I've had some run-ins with it.

Really? Such as?

Yeah -

So you've learned to be careful?

Oh, yes. Don't want any more axe murderers chasing me around this town than absolutely necessary. I mean, if you'd had a gaggle of love crazed women ever charging you . . .

I don't need to hear any more details.

Trust me, that lesson has definitely been learned.

Okay, go over there to that rack of potion bottles and see which ones aren't broken . . .

X X X X X

Hey, Will.

What happened at the magic shop?

Well, we're pretty much convinced that it wasn't random violence or robbery; we think someone wanted to steal something.

Any idea what?

Not a clue so far. Whoever did this did a good job at covering themselves. You hear anything else odd that happened last night?

No. But hey! You know where would be a good place to check? The net! The Sunnydale Press -

I must have missed that section of the paper - you know, comics, horoscope, tv listings . . . witches who need spell components and the warlocks who love them . . .

On the next Geraldo! No, seriously, they do a pretty good job of keeping their online presence up-to-date - I can look for any weird happenings that might indicate a major spell is going down. Of course, it could be something innocent -

For which they needed to bust up the magic store? I don't think so.

You're probably right, Buff. I'll do it after class.

Class?

You know, that college thing we're living in? It does have classes to go to.

I guess so. Come, Will, off to low self-esteem land . . . .

Catch up with you in a second, Buffy. Hey, Tara.

Willow! Tonight - if you don't mind - could we try something new? I've got a ritual in mind I've been wanting to try. I don't think I can do it myself.

Sure - but, I have some studying to do tonight for Professor Walsh's class, so can we make it an earlier night?

Whatever you want, Willow. You're the expert here.

And don't you forget it, missy!

X X X X X

Buffy?

Hey, Giles. Whatcha got?

Some grave desecration, a jewelry-store burglary where the cameras mysteriously shut off and nothing was stolen except two rings of white gold and a thirty-carat diamond, three missing water moccasins from the zoo, an irritable vampire, and a massive headache. What do you hear from Willow?

Nada. Nothing she saw in the paper gave her any ideas - her secret netgirl powers must be getting rusty, I'd've thought some of that would make the local paper. Is Spike behaving himself?

In very broad terms, yes. He's getting a bit tired of being cooped up here and I can't say it's doing my disposition any good either. I'd like you to investigate the graves -

Why? Common enough in this town.

There were five in a row, all with their heads cut off.

Then sure, I'll do it. It's about time for my patrol anyway.

And I'd like you to take Spike with you and keep him away for, say, a few hours?

Spike?

Please, Buffy? I will owe you a favor -

Damn right you will, but okay. Which graveyard?

The church of St. Januarius.

I'll be right over.

X X X X X

Oh, hello, Mr. Giles. Thanks for recommending Xander.

He's worked out well, then?

Very well - I'd say another day or so of work and we should be almost done.

Anything missing?

Three things so far - a vial of leech extract, a pouch of diamond dust, and most of my marnox root.

Leech extract?

Yes.

How well do you know your rituals?

Well enough.

Good. Leech extract, a diamond, and white gold rings - what does that suggest to you?

A magical leeching ritual?

Exactly.

But there aren't that many powerful innately talented magical talents IN Sunnydale!

I can think of at least two. One rat, one human. Call me if you discover anything else.

I'll do that. Thanks, Mr. Giles.

No, you deserve the thanks . . . hello, Willow? This is Giles. I have reason to believe there may be a kind of ritual in the works designed to, to drain you and Amy of your innate witch abilities. Please phone me as soon as you can. Hello again. Is Xander there?

Right here, G-Man - what's up?

I need you to go find Willow, if you would. I have some research to do on a ritual.

On my way.

X X X X X

Oh, Willow, you're here! Good! Ready when you are!

You said there was a specific ritual you wanted to do?

Yup - got the, the material right here on my bookcase.

What does your roommate think about this little collection of yours?

I don't have one - she, she up and left early in the semester. Nothing but a note!

Guess some people just can't cut it in college.

Guess not.

So, this ritual you wanted to try?

Oh, we, we can do that later if you want - it's really cool but it's not that important. Let's practice some telekinesis instead - that is, if you don't mind?

Nope, don't mind at all.

We can save the ritual for later.

What kind of ritual is it?

I can, can honestly say I think it'll knock your socks off.

X X X X X

I don't see why I had to bloody come along on your little factfinding tour.

It's because I so enjoy hearing you complain.

You're a damn babysitter, that's what you are. I've half a mind to just walk off and let you find the soldierboys on your own.

Go ahead. I'm sure you can survive perfectly well on your own, after all, you were doing so spectacular BEFORE you came begging to us on Giles' doorstep.

Well love, I'm not the one who wanted Wind beneath my Wings played at our wedding.

And your point is? Seeing that that's, oh, maybe the fiftieth time you've used that insult in the past week? Kinda lost its effectiveness around repeat number twenty-two. You know what your problem is right now, Spike? You're all talk. You can't follow through.

Bitch.

What was that, impotence lad?

Okay, you've made your bloody point. Can we just get on with this?

Commencing the getting on process now. You know, I'm surprised they haven't filled these holes back in by now.

This is Sunnyhell, love - likely grave repair's a full-time job for some poor sod.

Good point.

I'm not stupid, you know.

No, you're not. Hey - do you know any head-eating demons or monsters?

They tend to prefer their heads fresher, usually ripped from the living bodies of their victims. After a few months underground they get a bit stale.

And anything that feeds on corpses probably wouldn't be satisfied with just the heads.

I know once I've started sucking on one I can't stop 'til it's dry.

So why was someone interested in these five heads? Hmmm. Agatha Zobotin, Janos and Mary Theocrates, Arna Elezovic, and En -

Broke up in midname there, love. No, still don't get it. Who the bleeding hell is this Enyos Calderash anyway?

X X X X X

Will! Will, if you're in there, open up! Will? Damn. One, two, and why don't I just try the knob so I don't get my Xander-shaped butt thrown off the campus for breaking down a door? Okay, no Willow here . . . no signs of foul play, and will you listen to the refugee from Agatha Christie? Hello there, Amy. How's it goin', ya little rat? Oh, come on, I know inside that tiny furry body you're still a real girl, quit chittering at me.

Tell me, she hasn't actually answered you yet, has she?

Giles! Um, not in the way of words, no.

Good. I had begun to fear for your sanity

Only begun? I must be doing something wrong. And, gotta say, that was some fast researchin', my man.

Yes, and little of it good, I'm afraid.

That's alright, you'll do some better researching later.

I meant the news is bad. Some of the items stolen from around town form the components for a leeching ritual.

And that would be?

A spell designed to suck the magical ability from one person - or other creature - and give it to another And Willow and Amy are the two most powerful talents in the area.

Whoa. And I'll bet anyone who's evil enough to do that isn't going to be a mighty champion of all that's good and pure.

Not hardly.

We'd better find Willow, then, and fast.

Agreed.

You got any idea where she is? 'cause I'm fresh out of ideas.

You've checked her room. ONLY her room.

Yeah - your point is -?

Never mind. Let's start looking around campus.

X X X X X

Oh, this is pointless. She could be anywhere.

Good. I'll start in Hawaii.

Giles! Xander!

And suddenly the problem becomes easier. Willow -

What's wrong?

It's Tara! She just tried to, to, to -

To drain your powers?

Yes! How did you -?

Who, whoa, hold it. Tara did this? As in, barely capable of speaking in a crowd Tara?

You think I'm making this up?

No - it's just I wouldn't have expected it from her.

Well, neither did I, obviously, and look what happened!

What did happen, Willow?

Well, for a while we just did the routine stuff - you know, telekinesis and so forth. Then she started in on this ritual she wanted to try - two white gold rings, a small bottle of essence of leech - and I didn't realize what was going on until I heard her start to say the words. I should have known! I should have -

Easy there, Will. You haven't been at this witch thing a whole lot of years.

Yes - you're not expected to recognize a spell on sight. I daresay even Ethan Rayne would have difficulty with that, and he's been a spellcaster a lot longer than you. For some things, there is no substitute for brute experience.

Hey, if she started the ritual, Will, how'dja actually get away?

Brute force. Once I figured it out I decked her.

Willow the action hero! Way to go, there!

Thanks.

Where - is she right now?

Still lying unconscious in her room, probably. Giles! You have to do something about this! I, I don't know if -

I'll go secure her.

Secure her? No offense there, G-Man, but securing her would probably qualify as kidnapping.

Are you suggesting we do nothing?

No - maybe you could come up with a spell -

Maybe later. Right now I'm just too distraught to even think about doing a ritual.

Then for the moment I suppose we'll have to handle this the old-fashioned way.

Thanks. I'm going up to my room - I think I need to be alone for a while.

Where's Tara's room?

That building over there - room 217.

Thanks. Just opening doors randomly might've gotten us in trouble. Not that I'd mind seeing some of these women in their panties, now, but still . . .

Xander -

Coming right away, Mr. Giles, sir. And Will, anything I can do, you know -

I do. I'll be fine. I just need some alone time.

Then you have it.

X X X X X

Well, Giles isn't home right now. Guess we just wait for him.

No bloody kidding. You're just the next Sherlock Holmes, aren't you?

Spike, it's not my fault that you can't bite people. Not that I'm not grateful for it, but it's not my fault. So would you PLEASE lay off the goddamned attitude?

You'd like that, wouldn't you? I can't hunt, I can't feed, I have to drink my blood out of a damn orange juice glass, and if I so much as think about kicking a puppy I get a headache the size of Liverpool. I'm dependent for my survival on a group of people who I should be locked in combat with, and right now the fact that I can still give you people a hard time with my mouth is the only thing keeping me from attempting to slice off my head with a butter knife. So, no, I will not lay off the goddamned attitude. You want to keep me around to get a better shot at the Initiative, then you can bloody well DEAL with the attitude.

Spike, your personal problems are way down my list of priorities, right around, oh, say, my next dental exam. But in the interest of harmony - and possibly shutting you up for five minutes - I'll quit bitching about your bitching.

You're all heart.

And you're all mouth. Anyway, damn. I needed to ask Giles a question.

So, you still haven't learned how to read, eh, Slayer?

Still haven't learned WHAT to read.

I still don't know why Enyos Calderash's name got you all upset. So what if he was the uncle of your precious Miss Calendar? Could've been one of the other four wankers the graverobber dug up. There is such a thing as coincidence, you know

In this town? What've you been smoking?

Nothing, pity.

Let's see, what else was there? Water moccasins, diamond dust and a whole diamond, white gold rings, and marnox root, plus the heads. Damn. I wish there was something that let me look up spells by ingredient.

Could well be, but I've never seen it.

Well, if I can't ask Giles, I know someone else I can ask. Now shut up, I need to make a call. Go . . . chain yourself in the bathtub or something. Hello?

Hello . . . .

This is Buffy - you know -

That's right - you came down here with Mr. Giles. You're lucky you caught me, I was just about to leave the store.

Setting up some extra security?

Something like that. How can I help you?

I have a question - magic-related, of course. Could you make any kind of spell or ritual using diamond dust, a diamond, white gold rings, water moccasins, marnox root, leech extract and a severed head?

The head of a corpse is a new one - hmmm. Mr. Giles seems to think it's a leeching ritual - sucks magic from one person, gives it to another - but the head, hold on a second . . . oh my.

What?

The book I have here - it's not specific - but snake venom and the brains can be used as basic ingredients for certain kinds of family curses.

Family curses?

Where you curse an entire family - could be hereditary insanity, ugliness, I don't know and I can't pick one out on a moment's notice; I'm hardly the expert your friend Mr. Giles is.

No, no, that's fine. Would you know anything that might be able to tell me?

Dunno about you love, I'd just start looking at the titles. Honsenberg's Libram of Familial Cursing. But you probably want me to shut up now.

No, I don't want you to shut up.

Excuse me?

Oh - not you, sorry I think I have the problem of where to look solved. Thanks for your help.

You're welcome. Talk to you later and goodbye.

Goodbye.

That was unexpectedly helpful, Spike.

Helpful, hell, I just wanted to embarrass you.

I figured as much. Well, whatever your motives, make yourself quiet for a while. I've got some researching to do.

X X X X X

Buffy. Good, you're here.

Giles. Xander. Tara?

Yup. Shygirl here had some little mojo workin' to drain Willow of her spellcasting abilities, but she took care of her.

Yes - and it explains the burglaries and the wanton destruction of the magic shop. The spell needs diamond dust, two white gold rings, and leech extract.

But Willow decked her! And all is happy again in Sunnydale.

Oh. Well, that's terrific, then.

You sound less than enthused about our victory.

Yeah, well, I was hoping this time I'd get to do some research.

I had been wondering what you were doing with that Honsenberg in your hand. What gave you the idea a curse was involved?

One of the heads taken was the head of Enyos Calderash.

You're joking.

And then I found out that brains plus snake venom plus various other ingredients equals family curse. But you've already discovered our bad guy and taken care of things, so I guess I've been doing this for the exercise.

Yes. Would you mind letting me take a look at that?

Sure, here. So what's the plan for Tara?

I thought we'd wait for her to wake up and then scare the living hell out of her.

Works for me. Hey, Spike!

What do you want?

How'd you like to scare the living hell out of someone?

Sure, why not. The bitch lying on the couch, I assume?

Yup.

Hold on, gotta get in the mood. Lemme get myself some blood. Ahhh. Much better. Right then, wake her up, what are you waiting for?

C'mon, up and at 'em. Rise and shine, little leechgirl. Hey! Wake up!

If she's not breathing, I'll be happy to take her off your hands.

Sorry to disappoint you, Spike, but she's still breathing.

Xander! Go get me some water.

Right away, boss lady.

I suppose this means I don't get to scare her OR drink her blood.

Damn, the water's not working either.

Xander!

What? You were going to throw it on her, right?

But not while she was still lying on the couch!

I'll be, uh, right back -

Giles -

I heard you. She's not waking up.

No, she's not.

Look at the wound on the head - Willow may have hit her harder than she thought.

Xander, get away from her head with those towels! Giles, what wound?

You don't see a wound? Let me take a look.

Well?

I don't see one either. Of course, I'm not a doctor, but still, there'd be some cut, raised flesh, skin discoloration -

Plus a nasty bruise on her face.

Precisely. But why would Willow claim to have hit her if she hadn't?

X X X X X

By the power of the venom, Hestia, I abjure thee: Flee this family. By the tainting of the marnox root, Ishtar, I abjure thee: leave this family. On the head of Enyos of the Calderash I abjure you both! Take away their gift of life! There, that should do for a dry run. Oh, shut up, rat: Willow will get her body back as soon as I'm done . . .

X X X X X

Xander -

Yeah?

Put down the paper towels and go over to that bookshelf. No, the other one. Bring over the third book on the second shelf.

Sexual Magicks for the Novice.

Third from the right.

Oh - Honsenberg's Narcotica. I should've guessed.

That's right, you've paged through that book before.

Could I . . . page through the other one?

I don't think Anya would like that, Xander.

What she doesn't know -

She'll know.

Let me see . . . ah. This should probably work. Hear me, Hypnos, God of Sleep: There is one here who has been cast into your realms. Release her from your folds, we beseech thee!

Willow - aaah! Get away!

Buffy, if you would . . . Spike! Game face off unless you want to go back to being chained in the bathtub!

Damn it, am I to be allowed nothing to do around here?

No, you're not. Go suck on a blood orange or something.

Easy, there, Tara. No one wants to hurt you.

Yet.

Knock off the threats, Xander. What do you remember?

Willow and I were practicing - telekinesis, a few elementary invocations, nothing serious. Then, then she started taking some odd things out of a bag she had with her.

Odd things? Such as what?

A small vial, a couple of rings . . . I asked her what, what they were for, and she said they were for a ritual of framing. Then she, she looked at me and said, 'Sorry about this, sister. I'll try not to let them hurt you too much.' Then she blew some, some dust in my face, and then, well, I woke up with all of you watching me.

Willow told us you tried to use this vial - leech extract - and these two white gold rings to perform a ritual of magical leeching on her earlier tonight.

I, I was going to do a ritual of what?

Leeching. It involves the transfer of one person's abilities or characteristics into another - with this spell, the ability to do magic.

Tara, I did hear you tell Willow - twice - that you were really excited about some ritual you wanted to perform tonight.

Yeah - I wanted to try to summon a nature spirit on my own - something kind of harmless, like a dust devil. I, I just wanted her there to hold my hand and to help me if I lost my nerve or blew one of the lines.

That's it?

That's it, I swear.

But why would Will lie like that? Cruel streak just isn't her style.

I think because it's not Willow at all, Xander. Marnox root is used in fertility spells. Mixed with a snake's poison it becomes the opposite - an elixir to make one barren or impotent. And when used in a family curse -

The entire family tree goes limp?

Exactly.

Again, I have to ask: Why would Willow do that? And specifically, why would she do it against Jenny Calendar's family? She loved Miss Calendar!

The why is unimportant right now, as is the who. Are you convinced, Buffy?

Yeah, but I don't want to be.

Xander?

Well, something's going on, but that's not the Willow I know doing it.

Then you escort Tara back to her room. Buffy?

Ready, willing, and puzzled.

Would, would one of you explain this to me?

Tara, one thing I've learned hanging out with this group: If you stick around for the explanations you'll never get anything done. C'mon, let's get going.

Xander -

Yeah, G-man?

One more thing, if you would. Go into that trunk - yes, that one - and bring what's inside. I hope we don't need it.

Whoa. Me either.

X X X X X

Are you okay, now, Tara?

Confused! More confused than anything else. Why, why would Willow, with her power, do this to me?

Short answer? That's not Willow.

How can you be sure?

I can't.

That's why you, you have that thing?

Mmmm-hmmm. So will you be alright until later?

Yeah -

Good. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some eavesdropping to do.

X X X X X

. . . this family. By the tainting of the marnox root, Ishtar, I abjure thee: Flee this family. On the head of Enyos of the Calderash . . . hi Buffy! Hi Giles!

I see you've recovered from your travails, Willow.

Well, you know me - I bounce back quickly.

So, whatcha doin' with the candles and the magicky stuff?

Is, is this marnox root? I thought you didn't know what to do with marnox root.

Giles, that was over a year ago. I've learned since then.

Hey, Will, what's underneath this towel here?

Nothing! Nothing.

Then why're you acting so defensive, hmmm? I think I'll just pull it up and -

I said NO!

Yeah, and I - don't - care - give me that towel!

No!

Ewwwwww.

Willow, answer me and answer me now. What are you doing with a severed head?

And the marnox root?

And, unless I miss my guess, snake venom?

Spill, Will.

It's nothing!

They're the ingredients for a goddamned familial curse. Further, they're the ingredients for a curse on the family of Jenny Calendar. What on earth could have possessed you?

Possessed? As always, you know the exact right word to use, don't you? But then, you always did.

Who are you?

Who am I? I'm so disappointed in you. Who else would want to curse the Calderash?

Whoa, hold it. You don't mean . . .

Yes I do.

This is a lie.

I've been a spirit for damn near two years now. How do you know what I'd never do, England?

X X X X X

I know you'd never do this because -

Because why, Rupert? Because I have a strong sense of morals? Because they're my people and I'd never do this to them?

Because it's not very nice.

Buffy, like I said, I've been floating around for two years. Kinda changes your perspective, you know? These people are responsible for me being dead right now. If they hadn't sent me here -

You and I never would have met either.

I know that Rupert, but let's face it: Ours was not destined to be the romance of the millennium. I loved you and you loved me. It was nice, it was exciting, and all of that. But to get my life back don't you think I'd sacrifice our having met?

I would have.

I know. And I know it has to hurt to hear me talking like this.

It does. More than you know.

Ms. Calendar, we're not letting you curse the Calderash.

Oh, come on now, Buffy - what reason do you have to love my people? If it hadn't been for the conditions on their curse, Angel wouldn't have become Angelus, I wouldn't be dead, and he wouldn't be beating people up in LA, he'd be here, with you.

If it wasn't for the curse at all, he wouldn't have ever been the Angel I loved.

Fair trade to me. And you, Rupert - you certainly have no reason to give a good goddamn about the Calderash.

You're right, Jenny.

I am?

She is?

She is, and if I heard a story about a natural disaster overtaking them, or a member of the clan dying, I wouldn't grieve very long. I don't like Rupert Murdoch much either, but you can be assured that if I heard of his imminent assassination I would move heaven and earth to stop it. Just because I'm not going to weep at their deaths doesn't mean it's something I'm going to stand back and watch and cheer. You of all people should know that about me.

I do - but it just doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

Neither does screwing around with Willow's and Tara's lives, apparently.

I messed around with your life, Buffy. And Angel's too.

Yeah, but you felt really bad about it afterwards. It wasn't something you liked having to do. But this? You've framed Tara and taken over Willow and it's like it doesn't bother you at all.

I'm not hurting Willow - and you figured out Tara's framing. So where's the harm?

The harm is that you had no idea we WOULD discover Tara had been wronged. The harm is in Willow coming to and realizing she was manipulated into harming her friend and an entire race of people. The revelation could damage them both emotionally.

Omelets and eggs, England. Now, if you'll excuse me, you interrupted me in the middle of my curse.

You know we're not going to let you do that.

How do you plan on stopping me? By tying me down?

If necessary.

I doubt you'd do it, Rupert.

Maybe he can't, but I can.

I doubt you will either, Buffy. What are you going to do? Beat the crap out of Willow?

Omelets and eggs, Ms. Calendar.

You're bluffing. You can't stop me without hurting me.

Yeah, but I can.

Xander! Wait! It's . . . it's . . . . zzzzzzz . . .

Nicely done, Xander.

I didn't think you'd be able to shoot Willow.

Like I told you guys, like I told Tara. That's not Willow.

X X X X X

You know, if you people keep lugging bodies through the streets one of these someone's gonna tumble to it.

Blind faith in the stupidity of the Sunnydale police. These are people who'd have trouble getting a job in Mayberry.

Xander - I need the chalk from that cabinet over there. We don't have much time. Buffy, start moving all the furniture except the couch to the side of the room. Remove the rug. Quickly! Spike, If you're not going to help, at least get out of the way.

You're going to do an exorcism?

Yes.

Don't look so bloody surprised. One time a priest strapped me down inside a pentacle and chanted for hours. He got laryngitis, I got a headache, and by the time it was all over I killed him anyway. I'd love to see it happen to someone else. Here you go, Slayer, take the rug.

Rug goes?

Anywhere! Anywhere. I want this done before she wakes up. Okay, back away. If there are any mistakes in the outline she might get out.

Isn't this an overreaction, people? I mean, this is Willow you're binding here, not, well ,me.

Spike, right now Willow's more dangerous than you are.

Quiet! I have to get this . . . exactly . . .right. There. Now, Xander! Gingerly get the second book at the top of that shelf. Good. Bring it here. Hug the wall! We don't want to smudge the chalk. Now, all of you, keep quiet! I have to do this perfectly! I call upon the deity worshipped by the Calderash. Wherever you are, there is one of your children who has not yet come home . . .

X X X X X

I've seen more entertaining cockroach fights.

Shut up, Spike. Are you okay, Giles?

I . . . don't understand . . . this. Exorcisms . . . are on of . . . the most powerful . . . spells of soul . .. removal there are.

Sorry to disappoint you, England, but I told you I wasn't going anywhere.

But it . . . should have had . . . some effect.

Nope, sorry. I could tap-dance if you like.

But . . .

Giles, your voice. Don't talk for a while.

But . . . Xander . . .

Voice! Shh! Xander's right.

Bugger this. I'm going to bed. Call me if the world comes to an end. On second thought, don't bother. I want to be surprised.

So, now that you've figured out I'm here for the long haul, why don't you just let me go? The sooner I complete my curse, the sooner I leave.

Not gonna happen, Jen. Why dontcha get out of my bud Willow? Hmmm?

Can the threats, Xander. You're not going to beat me up either.

Giles! Nod your head, don't talk. Exorcisms get rid of souls, right? Thought so. Jenny Calendar was a moral and decent person, basically, despite what she did in spying on Angel, right? Now, we're all convinced this is Jenny Calendar . . .

Are you saying I'm not?

No, that I believe you on. But the Ms. Calendar I knew was a fundamentally moral person. She had a good soul.

The soul . . . is where one's morality lies.

So it's not her body, and it's not her soul, what's left?

I . . . think -

Quiet, Giles! I think I have it. A vampire's demon kicks out the soul of the body it takes over - but not the memories. This is her mind!

I could have told you that.

Yeah, but you didn't. Giles, how is this possible?

Am I permitted to speak?

Smartass.

Before death, a spell is cast - if the recipient of the spell has unfinished business on their death, some part of them will remain to complete the task. It's called a revenant.

It's called a Jenny Calendar, England.

No, it isn't. You are the merest shade, the faintest echo, of the Jenny Calendar I loved. Xander! Get me Honsenberg's Narcotica again.

Here you go.

Page 139. Hypnos! Janus! I invoke the both of you. There are two minds in one here, one mind, sleeps, one wakes. Two-faced Janus, this woman does not worship you. Hypnos! One sleeps who should not be asleep! I beseech you both, set things right!

England, don't. Please! In the memory of what we once meant to each other, let me complete my task. Don't make me leave, please! You know what I am! You - No!

Willow?

Buffy. What the heck happened? I was talking with the ghost of Jenny Calendar . . .

NO!

Giles?

Not her ghost. Just - just her memory. Just her memory.

X X X X X

. . . and then he cast a spell - invoked Janus and Hypnos - and that's when I had to leave off controlling Willow. So when do I get to try again? We had a deal!

And I held my end of it, Ms. Calendar. You got the chance to take revenge on your family.

I failed. I have to get to make that attempt. The Calderash -

No, you don't. You signed a contract - they forced you back here. I love how Ripper had to invoke Janus. That must have killed him.

Why did I ever let you cast that revenant spell on me?

Because I was the only person you knew who would. Now, come on, don't be sad, I still have some use for you. After all, you know what they say . . . a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

The End

You have reached the end of "All Talk". This story is complete.

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