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Adjustment Phase

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Scoobies & Stargates". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When Willow joins the SGC, you might think they'd ease her in a little. But no, she's pushed into the deep end with an Atanik bracelet. And it's not until after that that things start getting really strange.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Willow-CenteredEnergyBeingFR133964,81428444,4742 Sep 123 Feb 13Yes

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Spike awoke from a dream. Oddly enough, he didn't remember it - vampires rarely dream, but when they do the dreams generally have some meaning behind them, and so they remembered them - but Spike was rather more surprised that he was awake at all. He was pretty sure he hadn't managed to turn off the Tesla coil before he passed out. Which meant he should've been electrocuted until he combusted.

But that obviously hadn't happened. And Spike wasn't going to be able to work out what had happened lying... wherever he was with his eyes shut. He needed to talk to someone and find out what happened.

Spike opened his eyes and tried to get up, and nearly passed out from the pain. He suddenly wasn't all that sure that he hadn't combusted. It would probably be better if he didn't move. Ever again.

When the world stopped spinning, and Spike's ears stopped ringing, and he stopped feeling as though he might vomit - which, given his vampire physiology, was impossible anyway - he managed to open his eyes. He could manage that much, if only by a great effort of will. Spike really didn't want to pass out again without finding out what had happened, although it would probably be better for him if he has time to recuperate.

Still, Spike was exceptionally surprised to find people crowded around... wherever he was. Everyone was there - Sam, the Scoobies, Sam, that alien, Sam, Willow's beau, Sam and that infernal colonel. And Sam. Especially Sam.

At that point, Spike realised that they were trying to talk to him. It took him a while to figure that out, and that was really only because he could see their lips moving (Hmmm, Sam's lips). Spike had a brief moment of panic when he wondered if he had gone deaf (No more Sex Pistols!), but he quickly realised that the ringing in his ears made it impossible to hear them. He hoped it would stop soon. It was really annoying.

Eventually, the group gathered that Spike couldn't understand what they were saying - his lack of response coupled by him staring at their lips with a frown gave it away - Willow dashed off to get him some blood, and some paper to write on so that he could understand what it was that they were saying. Although Willow couldn't help but think that maybe Spike was better off not listening to the babbling on his bedside.

As it was, Willow nearly had a heart attack when she saw Drusilla sitting sprawled in a chair, looking up at the ceiling with a somewhat nostalgic expression on her face. Three things crossed Willow's mind: firstly How did she get in here? I never invited her in! Oh Goddess, she's going to kill me! followed by Wait, no she won't. I gave her a soul. Which still doesn't explain what she's doing here, or how she got here, but means that she won't kill me. Probably. Finally, Willow thought I bet if I followed the line of her sight through the ceiling, it would lead right to where Spike is.

"Hello, Red." said Drusilla absently, without looking at Willow. "It's nice to see you being you. I wasn't sure you would be."

Willow remembered that Drusilla was a psychic. She probably knew all about her recent possession and habitation of Daniel's body. She had probably known about her not being herself before Willow ever had.

Willow said warily "Yes, that's nice. But how did you get in here? This is my house, and I've never invited you in." Willow carefully avoided asking Drusilla what she wanted. Even though the vampire had a soul, she was still crazy and Willow didn't want to antagonize her.

"You still there, love?" Drusilla called.

Suddenly, a handsome, dark haired man in a suit appeared in the doorway. Willow had never seen him before, and he seemed wrong to her, in a way she couldn't quite explain. It was as though he wasn't quite there. "Always, Dru. Where did you think I'd be?" he answered.

"Red, this is Red-and-Black. Or Cole, if you prefer. Occasionally he's Belthazor too. Cole, this is Willow. She's just Red, although the Black might come along later." Drusilla introduced them.

Cole extended a hand, and Willow took in on instinct. She was pretty sure by now that neither of them intended her any harm. However, she regretted it almost as soon as she took it. Willow could feel the hand - it was everything that a hand should be - but at the same time, it wasn't there. She realised that, to her magical senses, Cole was invisible - no, more than that. He simply wasn't there.

Willow prodded her with a finger. "Are you really there?" she asked.

Cole smiled, but didn't answer her. Instead, he said to Drusilla "What are we here for, Dru? You poke me often enough as it is, and I'm reluctant to get prodded by people I don't know."

Drusilla sighed. "Well, Red does have a point. You aren't really there."

Cole crossed his arms, and Willow suddenly felt like it was her, not Cole, that wasn't there, just an invisible spectator to a domestic dispute. "That wasn't the point, and you know it." Willow wondered what they were talking about.

"Fine. Now go away. You know I can't do it with you here." Drusilla snapped. Cole's expression softened, then he wavered like a heat mirage and vanished. Willow suddenly realised that that had been what had happened to Adam and Riley - before that point, she thought that she had unconsciously moved them magically. Now she realised that Cole had.

Willow was about to ask why, when Drusilla, for the first time, looked directly at her and started speaking. "There will be three. If they die by your hand-" then Drusilla's eyes flicked up a good foot or so above Willow's head "- or by yours, then your cause will fail."

Then Drusilla turned and walked out the door. Willow hesitated a moment, to digest what the vampire had told her - when was she going to kill three people? Who had she been talking to when she had looked over her head? - and then went after Drusilla to ask those very questions. Only to find that, in the few seconds that she had been out of Willow's sight, the vampire had managed to vanish.

Willow looked down the hallway for a few moments longer, before shrugging - there were already enough cryptic and complicated things in her life, she didn't have to waste time pondering on this one. So the went upstairs, blood and paper in tow.

~*~

By the time Willow made it upstairs, Spike's hearing had healed enough that he could understand what people were saying so long as they said it slowly and loudly enough, and didn't speak all at once. Something which they hadn't quite managed yet.

Willow decided not to mention the little encounter with Drusilla downstairs - she didn't particularly want to explain that she had ensouled the vampire, or that somehow she had managed to pick up some kind of teleporting person (or demon) that seemingly didn't exist and could pass through defences like they weren't even there. Everyone had a lot on their mind as it was.

Like Spike and Sam, Willow thought as she passed the blood to the vampire in question, who took it gratefully. It was obvious that Spike wanted everyone to leave so that he could talk to her, and Sam didn't exactly seem to be adverse to the idea.

It was just as obvious that Jack could see that too, and he was none too happy about it. Willow remembered overhearing them declare their love to each other on Apophis' flagship. She wondered what they'd said to each other after that.

Still, given that it didn't look like Spike would have a chance to talk to Sam alone any time soon, he drank the blood, wincing because it was animal and because it hurt to swallow, and then fell asleep. After all, even though he had spent the last few hours unconscious, Spike was still injured and extremely tired.

At least, that's what Sam told the group as she ushered them out. Willow was fairly sure that Spike was faking his sleep for exactly that reason - to be alone with Sam - and she was pretty sure that Jack thought so too. Not that either of them did anything about it. Jack had pretty much thrown away any right to protest by agreeing to regulations that he and Sam couldn't be together, and Willow wasn't going to interfere in someone else's love life. Or love unlife, as the case may be. Not when hers was in such a mess.

So they left.

~*~

"Are they gone?" Spike murmured in a cracked voice. Normally he'd be able to tell, but with his faulty hearing he couldn't hear people's heartbeats, and given that it hurt him to breathe, he'd stopped doing that.

"They're gone." Sam confirmed. "How're you doing?" she asked gently.

"Me? I'm alone, in a bedroom, with beautiful woman, and I can't even move without passing out. How do you think I'm doing?" Spike growled.

Sam blushed, but nevertheless found herself saying "Doesn't the first half of that make up for the rest?"

Spike looked at her, expressionless. Eventually, he said "Given that the last time we were alone together I nearly broke your wrist and then almost bit you, no, it doesn't really."

Sam sighed. "You're really hung up on that, aren't you?"

"Aren't you? I nearly killed you, Sam. That not the kind of thing that one gets over." Spike said.

"You know I had a Goa'uld symbiote for a while? A Tok'ra?" Sam asked. Spike nodded, then grimaced at the pain. He wondered where she was going with this.

"She took over my body, subjugated my will. Even though she was a Tok'ra, that was her instinct. But she gave her life to save mine. Which wasn't her instinct. You see, your instinct was to kill me and drink my blood. But you resisted." Sam said, watching Spike intently.

Spike blinked. "I'm not there yet."

Sam leaned across, kissed him on the lips, as softly as a feather. "Let me know when you are." she said in a whisper, before she left.

Oh, how Spike wished he could move!

~*~

Meanwhile, downstairs, Riley and Buffy had split off from the others. Now that Adam was dead, and Riley wasn't crazy, it seemed like now was a good time to have that talk that they'd been putting off. So far, they'd only managed to talk, with Walsh, about Buffy being the Slayer.

"Buffy, Adam was controlling me! I tried to tell you, but I couldn't." Riley blurted out was soon as he could.

Buffy struggled not to look amused. She didn't think it would do Riley any good if he thought she was laughing at him. The truth was, it wasn't his fault, and she'd figured it out when he'd kept walking, like a robot, even when she was stopping him from moving forward. "I guessed that."

"And I'm sorry for nearly shooting Willow, and shooting..." Riley trailed off. Evidently he'd just realized that Spike was the same vampire that he and his group had captured and chipped. Hostile-17. "Why is Hostile-17 helping you? He's a vampire!"

Buffy thought for a moment. Other than the obvious reason - Sam - Buffy didn't know why Spike was still around, or why they'd started trusting him - or as much as they could trust a vampire without a soul who probably wouldn't mind if every one of them but Sam were killed. So Buffy settled for shrugging in response, and saying "It's complicated."

Riley sighed noisily. "Everything is complicated."

Buffy smiled sadly. "Welcome to my world." she said, so softly that Riley barely heard her.

"Does it get any less complicated?" Riley asked.

"Not even a little bit." Buffy answered.

"Not even if I joined it?"

Buffy looked up sharply. "What?" she said.

"If I quit the Initiative - it’s finished anyway, Adam locked all their files so they don't have a clue what they've done or not done - and joined you." Riley said, smiling shyly.

Buffy didn't stop to think. "I doubt it would make anything less complicated, but I would certainly prefer it."

~*~

Meanwhile, Daniel and Willow were spending the first time alone together since, together, they'd kissed Willow's dead body and then ended up kissing each other. It would probably be for the best if they talked to each other about it, so things wouldn't be awkward between them.

Of course, just the talk itself was awkward.

Willow went first. "So, about that kiss..." she said, but trailed off. She really had no idea what she wanted to say.

Daniel, blushing, said "Yes, it just the heat of the moment, it was-"

"Magical?" Willow interrupted, laughing. She couldn't help herself. Daniel smiled too.

"But it didn't mean anything." said Daniel.

Willow just said "Oh." and felt as though the air had been driven out of her lungs - an experience which she was unfortunately all too familiar with. She hadn't known what to expect, but it certainly hadn't been that.

"Unless you want it to?" said Daniel, tentatively.

Willow took a moment to get her breath back. And a moment more to think about it. And then several more moments, to think about it some more. Eventually, all she managed to come up with was "I don't know, really. I mean, things with Oz didn't work out, and I don't really want to jump into anything, and you're older than me, and I'm babbling." she said, pausing for breath - because, contrary to popular opinion, Willow the Babbler didn't have gills.

"So that's a maybe." said Daniel, blandly. Willow couldn't tell what he thought about things - although the fact that he had suggested that the kiss might mean something seemed to imply that he wouldn't be averse to a relationship. "So, are you going to stay here, or..." he trailed off, not wanting to say "come with me"

Willow heard the words he didn't say anyway. "No, I'm coming with you."

~*~

Jack was sitting outside by himself. Anya and Xander had vanished back to Xander's basement, and Giles had returned to his house. He had no idea where Teal'c had gone. Not that Jack minded. It suited his current mood to be by himself.

So Jack was incredibly surprised when he suddenly found himself no longer sitting in the warm Californian sun, but standing on a mountain. A very odd looking mountain. It looked almost as though it was made of glass, when he didn't look at it directly. When he did, it looked like mist. Except when it looked like thick, black smoke, or white steam.

Jack realised he must've dropped off, and that this was a dream. A very strange dream, but a dream nevertheless.

So he wasn't unduly surprised when he heard a familiar female, English voice from behind him. He turned, and saw the vampire who had nearly killed Janet, the one that Caelus had disguised himself as in order to lure them into his trap. What was her name? Drusilla?

Jack didn't know the suited man standing beside her, but this was a dream. Who cared who it was?

"I have a warning for you, Colonel." Drusilla said. Not for the first time, Jack realised.

Jack waved a hand. "Please, this is a dream, call me Jack." he said magnanimously.

The suited man turned to Drusilla and murmured "Are you sure it was wise to bring him here?"

Drusilla answered. "I told you, Cole, this is what I saw, so this is what must happen." Then she said to Jack "This is no dream, Colonel, though you may believe it to be so. I must tell you: when he comes, trust him. He knows what he is talking about."

Jack blinked. He knew it was a dream, but that sounded so meaningless. It wasn't even cryptic, it just didn't mean anything!

"Oh, and don't let the Red One use the Library. Use it yourself." Drusilla added.

Jack found himself back in his chair outside Willow's house. He shook himself. That had certainly been a strange dream.

~*~

Away in the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart, Lilah Morgan tentatively knocked on the door of her boss, Holland Manners. Several days ago, he had asked her to find everything she could about anyone who had the magical capacity and the inclination to give Drusilla a soul and then teleport her to LA.

Holland looked up. "Ah, Morgan! Have you found anything yet?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. During Drusilla's life, she tended to avoid magic users - I can't find any record of her dealing with one when she was with the Whirlwind, or when she and Spike split off from Angel and Darla.

Until Prague, when Drusilla was critically injured. Then Spike took her to the most powerful magic users in Europe, all of which couldn't do anything to help her.

Then, in Italy, he met with a warlock who told him about a nearby temple with healing properties. Apparently, it didn't work because Spike came back and left parts of the warlock all over the town.

After that, Spike took her to the Hellmouth, hoping that that might cure her. During his stay there, he met with three people with any magical talent - the first, one Rupert Giles, Watcher, didn't have the power to perform the spell. The second, Ethan Rayne, is a chaos Mage and so wouldn't have wanted to. The third was a teenager, Willow Rosenberg, who not only has the power but already performed an ensouling spell, on Angelus." Lilah finished.

Holland digested it for a moment then said "Thank you, Morgan. That will be all. Lilah briefly looked disappointed that that was it - she'd hoped to be included in bringing the witch in, and getting an edge over Lindsey - but she left anyway.

The truth was, Holland had more information on Willow than Lilah did, thanks to his spy in the SGC. He knew that he didn't have to spend any effort bringing her in.

She'd come to them.

The End

You have reached the end of "Adjustment Phase". This story is complete.

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