After Sam managed to pick Giles' lock, Daniel and Willow broke into a concerted shambling run, which was more like a sustained falling forward than the sprint that they had hoped for. Still, it was faster than walking would've been, and such was the shock of the assembled Scoobies that none of them tried to stop what they saw as drunk Daniel staggering towards them.
Unfortunately, their plan to tackle not-Willow before she escaped wasn't entirely successful. Sure, they went speedily blundering in the right direction, and should've collided with their target, but somehow not-Willow, with a singularly grateful movement, spun out of the way, and Daniel and Willow collapsed to the floor.
Of course, the Scoobies who witnessed what they still thought was Willow's unusually athletic dodge, immediately suspected that Ethan, as untrustworthy as he might be, had told them the truth. Willow wasn't spectacularly clumsy, but she had been known to have difficulty walking across flat surfaces before, and they very much doubted she could do what they had just seen her do.
So, not-Willow, correctly guessing that her cover was blown, saw no reason not to enact her earlier plan. She opened several wormholes at once - less than she would've liked, thanks to Ethan's interference - and dove through one. Ethan stared, blinking, at the spot where she had been standing for several seconds, an inscrutable expression on his face, before shaking his head and looking away.
At that point, Xander voiced the opinions of the Scoobies. "Okay, what the hell is going on?"
It didn't take Jack long to fill everyone in on the rudiments of what had happened - he didn't try to explain everything just yet, not while not-Willow was still on the loose - and was mildly surprised at the utter lack of questions and interruptions, although that could've had something to do with the glowering Teal'c at his shoulder.
However, Xander was still confused - which, as Cordelia would no doubt have pointed out, wasn't unusual for him - so he asked "So, if Willow isn't Willow, where is Willow? And no, I'm not trying to see how many times I can fit Willow into one sentence." he finished, catching Buffy's amused glance.
Jack hadn't covered that, if only because it still mildly creeped him out, so the man that the Scoobies still thought was Daniel alone waved his left hand, saying in a voice exactly like Willow's "I'm in here, Xander."
Of course, this created many outcries of shock from everyone (besides Ethan, whose magical senses had already led him to suspect it, and Spike, who, during the few seconds he hadn't been covertly watching Sam, had noticed the green eye and that half of Daniel stood in way remarkably similar to how Willow normally did) before Willow quieted them with another gesture, saying "Okay guys, yes it's miraculous and all that, but can we go an get my body back? And no, Xander, I'm not going to answer any of your questions about what it's like sharing a man's body." Xander sighed theatrically.
"She went that way." said Ethan helpfully, vaguely waving a hand. "Not very far, either."
"How do you know?" asked Daniel, the ever-curious. Willow quickly told him mentally who Ethan was, and so Daniel continued saying "Okay, I don't really want to know. Although Willow would like to know why you're here." Willow poked his arm, annoyed that he'd asked something she'd only speculated about. Daniel retailiated, and everyone burst out laughing at the sight of Daniel having a poke fight with himself.
After recovering, Giles said "Long story." before turning to Ethan and asking him "Is there any way you can find a more precise location?"
"Of course. With several hours, my equipment and a really complicated spell." Ethan answered witheringly.
"My house is that way. It should be empty at the moment, my parents are away." Willow said thoughtfully.
A spasm of surprise flitted across Ethan's face before he said "Really? Well, I can do a spell that'll get us there quickly, hopefully before she moves on."
"Just what does this spell entail?" Giles asked him suspiciously.
Ethan gave him an innocent look. "Oh, not much. Something made of gold - not alloyed or plated - and about three minutes or so. And a drop of blood, from each of you."
Willow forestalled the cries of "No way!" by saying "Guys, we don't have a choice." Everyone agreed, rather reluctantly. Like a conjuror (which he in fact was) Ethan produced a slim knife, which he passed to Buffy (thanks to his earlier protection charm, he was unable to cut her himself) while Giles hunted for something gold, which he promptly found.
Giles passed a little gold statue of cat to Ethan, somewhat sheepishly. Ethan looked at it in amusement before passing it back and asking everyone to smear their blood on it before giving it to him, which they did.
Ethan stared intently at the blood-smeared cat statue, which had now taken on a decidedly macabre appearance. Slowly, the cat became an amorphous blob of red-streaked gold, which gradually coalesced into a magnificently ornate boat with a falcon head prow. Abruptly, the boat expanded, filling the room with an insubstantial boat - insubstantial, that is, except to the physical touch. It was slightly translucent, and had absolutely no trouble passing through several chairs and a table, but not through anyone living (or, in Spike's case, dead).
His voice audibly straining, as though lifting an incredible weight, Ethan snapped commandingly "Get in the boat!". Everyone looked at it dubiously, before Spike shrugged and leapt in, to his mild surprise not passing straight through the bottom. Loath to be shown up by a vampire, Xander followed suit, and then everyone poured in.
Ethan grinned wolfishly "Alright then, your journey will take twelve minutes. Or twelve seconds. Something along those lines, anyway. Don't try to leave the boat - you won't be able to. Be seeing you!" he said cheerily, all sign of strain vanishing from his voice. Buffy tried to lunge at him, but crashed into an invisible barrier around the edge of the ship. Then, with an almighty lurch, the ship took off - right through the ceiling. The screams were deafening - or would've been, had anyone outside the ship been able to hear them.
Congratulating himself on a lovely bit of spell work, Ethan turned to the spot where not-Willow had been standing before she escaped. "They're gone now, you can show yourself." he said, addressing the empty spot.
The air wavered, and not-Willow was revealed.
From the bushes outside Giles' house, Maybourne watched the translucent golden boat rise into the sky. Technically, he shouldn't have been able to see it (only the caster and the people inside the ship should be able to see it), but he wouldn't be much good as an inside man for Wolfram & Hart if he couldn't see everything going on, could he? Or, for that matter, if he fell prey to every misdirection spell he came across.
He wondered what Ethan's endgame was - not that it mattered, unduly. If Ethan didn't accomplish what he'd been sent here to do, Vail could most certainly destroy him. Not that that was any of Maybourne's concern, he was just here to capture the creature inhabiting Willow's body, dead or alive. Kinsey didn't much care which.
But if the creature just happened to wind up at a Wolfram & Hart office first...
On that note, Maybourne headed into the house.
As Oz finally made it into Sunnydale itself, he slowed down and sniffed the air, feeling somewhat ashamed as he did so. His sense of smell had drastically decreased once he'd found a way to cage his inner Werewolf, so it didn't escape every month, but he was looking for Willow. Surely his nose was up to that job.
He smelt faint hints of Willow, much fainter than he would've smelt before he had left, but he put that down to his weaker senses. Oz also seemed to be smelling Willow in two different places, but that was impossible, wasn't it? Even for Sunnydale. Unless her vampiric doppelgänger was back. God, Oz hoped not.
One source, the fainter of the two, seemed to be located in the general vicinity of Willow's parents' house, which Oz suspected was due to her having lived there for so long. The second came from Giles' house. Oz would head there, it seemed as good a place to start as any.
Ethan's mystical boat ride was far from enjoyable, leaving even the veteran pilots feeling queasy, and everyone else fighting hard to keep the contents of their stomachs in their stomachs. Whilst they did so, Sam, Jack and Teal'c combed the house for any sign of not-Willow - not, after Ethan's duplicity, that they expected to find any. Which they didn't.
Meanwhile, having partially recovered, Giles now felt sick for an entirely different reason. He had trusted
Ethan, at least partially, and now who knew what was going on? He had honestly believed that Ethan might be on their side, for once.
Daniel asked Willow, verbally for the benefit of the others, "Can you teleport us back there?"
Giles swung around. "You can teleport?" he asked, incredulously.
"No, to both questions. I only managed to teleport under the influence of alien technology, which gave me an enormous power boost." Willow answered sadly.
Anya, who was as surprised as anyone else that she was there - she normally wasn't keen on the whole putting herself in danger thing - said "But there's three magic users here - well, two and a half, seeing as how you're sharing with what's-his-face."
"Daniel." said Giles tiredly, unfortunately well used to Anya's callousness. "She has a point, though. Together, we might be able to do it."
"Do you mind if we don't? I'm having enough trouble not vomiting as it is, and Willow doing magic in my body just makes me worse." Daniel asked plaintively.
"Of course." said Willow, patting Daniel's shoulder comfortingly - which looked decidedly odd - before reaching out and stealing the magic from Anya and Giles, much in the same way she pulled colossal amounts of energy when she'd jumped back in time a few seconds, or fed off of the energy from the explosion. Of course, she wasn't having her magic boosted by some kind of alien virus this time round, so she'd probably be ridiculously ill and unable to use magic for days, but what choice did she have?
Willow hurled the group magically across the intervening distance in a manner not much more pleasant than traveling by Ethan's boat. They arrived just in time to see Maybourne with a gun pointed at Ethan, who had a nebulous mist of impossible colours slowly drifting towards him. And Willow's body sprawled on the floor.