"May I ask how a student of mine ended up being involved with you?" asked Walsh, politely, although she'd definitely be having words with Riley about his unprofessional conduct. She wondered what had gotten into him - he'd been off all day.
"That would be classified." Jack replied smugly, glad to get to use an answer he so rarely had the chance to. Then he processed the fact that Walsh had just called Willow a student of hers, but decided to save it for later. He had no doubt that Willow had no clue that Walsh was part of the Initiative - and one surreptitious look at Willow's half of Daniel's face was enough to prove that.
"Can we get back to business now?" whined Maybourne in a pained voice. Willow, despite having never met him, gritted her teeth - despite being a normally peaceable person, the man just got on her nerves.
"Of course." Walsh responded, deferring to the military on the matter. "Where do you think she might've gone?" Willow almost wanted to thank her for calling her "she", rather than an "it", although of course she knew that her body wasn't a "she", and was in fact a "them" - and promptly gave herself and Daniel a shared headache by getting herself so confused.
However, that didn't stop her from sending across to Daniel, in the curious mode of communication they had, where she
would've gone if she were, well, herself. And not-Willow certainly did seem to be thinking like her. And she also told Daniel not
to tell them that, because she didn't want commandos shooting at her body. Surprisingly.
Daniel decided to risk Maybourne calling him out on his eye and half functioning mouth. "We think that she will have gone to ground, staying away from everyone she knows. As I'm sure you're aware, Sunnydale has an insane amount of hideaways, and Willow, as a native, would know a fair amount of them." he said, just as Willow had told him. Maybourne glanced at him once as he spoke, but then quickly looked back, examining his eye curiously, but fortunately not saying anything.
Walsh turned to Riley, quickly ordering him to send out search teams to all the deserted areas they knew of, and to send others out of uniform everywhere else. Maybourne, though, still examining Daniel's face intently, just said "I'll join Jack - Colonel O'Neill's team, if that's alright by you, Professor, Colonel?". Both nodded, Jack with extreme reluctance. He could hardly say no, could he? And even if he did, Maybourne could just take another team and follow him anyway.
"Alright, team, let's head that way." Jack said grandly, pointing in a direction he'd chosen arbitrarily. Daniel's left hand rose to his mouth as he coughed gently, the hand just happening to be pointing in an entirely different direction. "I meant that way, of course." he amended, prompting an amused snort from Maybourne.
The team set off, and the fact that Teal'c closely shadowed Maybourne , keeping an eye on him far more than on where they were going, was purely coincidental. It couldn't have been because Teal'c didn't trust him, surely not.
Seemingly oblivious, Maybourne sidled up to Daniel - and Willow was glad he came from the right, so he was slightly farther away. Something about him made her skin crawl. - and asked "Have some kind of mishap, Jackson?"
Daniel was about to rattle off the fairly standard excuse of "alien technology" when Willow sent across a more detailed fabrication. Well, the details maketh the lie. "We were on a planet recently that had a machine that was supposed to fix eyesight - the demonstration on a native was quite compelling - so I thought I'd give it a go. Unfortunately, either it doesn't work on humans, or because of something I've been exposed to, but it didn't quite work out the way it was supposed to. Janet - Dr. Frasier says it'll only be temporary though."
As soon as he caught the wry glance Maybourne gave him after finishing, Daniel knew he should've gone with his original lie - Maybourne knew him well enough to know that he wouldn't normally give up so much information, and now he was suspicious. Well, given that this was Maybourne, more suspicious.
Fortunately, Willow had been formulating an idea to get rid of him before they got to Giles' house (where else would someone thinking like Willow go to feel safe?). It involved a spell she'd been researching back when they had trusted Spike even less, and they hadn't wanted to leave him tied up all the time - there was always the chance of an escape. It essentially created a labyrinth that existed only for the object of the spell, making it impossible for, in that case, Spike to get anywhere.
Unfortunately, she hadn't managed to get it to work successfully yet - the last few times Willow had tried it, she had gotten hopelessly lost herself, which was no mean feat when you do it in a kitchen. It had taken Giles about half an hour to unravel it last time.
However, thanks to her recent experiences of possession and whatnot, Willow thought she realised what the missing part of the spell that shifted it from the caster to the object. So she began muttering the spell under her breath - to Daniel's growing alarm and nausea - before trying to turn so as to come into physical contact with Maybourne. With the unfortunate side effect of making Daniel's body nearly fall over, she succeeded, slamming into Maybourne's shoulder the instant she realised the spell.
After spending several seconds with arms windmilling, Willow/Daniel found that the spell had worked (well, Willow did. Daniel had no idea what was going on) when Maybourne suddenly veered off into a side street. Teal'c contemplated going after him, but after seeing Willow's triumphant grin and correctly surmising what had just happened, decided against it.
Willow quickly filled in the other bemused members of the team as they walked the final few minutes to Giles' (once again thanking the fact that in Sunnydale, everything was next to everything else, even secret military airstrips.)
They reached the door of Giles' house soon after the sun went down, and were glad they hadn't been set upon by vamps. Whilst Sam picked the lock (and Jack, after getting over his amazement that she knew how to do that, gently teased her about it) Willow and Daniel prepared for a synchronised sprint so they could tackle not-Willow before she escaped by wormhole.
Perhaps it was because none of them were looking for it, but no one, not even the wary Teal'c, noticed Maybourne stealthily creep his way through the bushes.
Oz was in his trusty truck, which he had driven many, many miles across several continents, when he saw the signpost telling him that Sunnydale was ten miles ahead. He looked up, through his windscreen, at the setting sun, glad that he no longer needed to lock himself up in the cage in the back of his truck. Not even though it was a full moon tonight.
He wondered for the umpteenth time what Willow was doing right now.I've now got over my cold, more or less, and I have to thank the viewers who wished me well on that front. This chapter is for you.