: Due to yesterday's lack of post, I made this one twice as long. I've been having some bad days, recently, so I'm sorry if the writing's not up to the usual standard.
Hope this chapter's at least okay.--000--
Faith slammed the vampire across the bench, as Buffy dive bombed a second one sneaking up behind. The vampire kicked out at Faith, who grabbed it by the leg and spun it through the air. Buffy grabbed her own by the arm and swung him onto the ground, where he just missed the tip of her stake.
Faith kicked out, driving her vampire forwards, as Buffy drove her own vampire towards Faith's, and in an instant, both Slayers drew out their stakes, and turned the vampires to dust in the air.
Giles, sitting on a nearby tombstone, watched while sipping his tea.
"New Olympic category," said Faith, high-fiving Buffy. "Synchronized Slaying." She went towards Giles. "Impressive, huh?"
"Hardly," said a female, English accented voice, as a thin woman in a business-suit emerged in the graveyard. She stopped in front of them, her short-cropped blond hair staying perfectly still in the night wind. "You telegraph punches, leave blind-sides open, and — first rule of Slaying — don't take entirely too much time. Which one of you is Faith?"
Giles blinked, in his unnerved British manner.
"That depends," said Faith. "Who the hell are you?"
"Gwendolyn—" the woman started.
"—Post," Buffy cut in. "Sent here from the Watcher's Council. Faith's new Watcher. Am I right?"
Gwendolyn Post hesitated for a moment. "Yes, actually," she conceded. She turned to Giles. "I suppose that explains why she's stayed alive so long, despite your incompetent training. She's quite clever."
Giles nearly dropped his tea.
"There is, of course, another reason I'm here," Post continued. "No doubt you've heard of the recent murders."
"Five Watchers dead, their trainees missing," Faith said. "And there's no telling when it's gonna stop."
"The Council has sent me here to ensure that the both of you are well-trained," Post said. "And to report on the entire situation. Including Mr. Giles, over here."
Giles choked on his tea.
"But there's more to it than that," Buffy guessed, with a sigh.
"Due to the many times that the First's acolyte, the Doctor, has arrived in Sunnydale," said Post, "the Council believes it likely that he is searching for something, here. An artifact called—"
"The Glove of Mynhegon," Buffy interrupted. "Which is a super-dangerous artifact whose powers are unrecorded in any written record, and you want Faith and I to search for it in the cemeteries in Sunnydale."
Post said nothing for a moment, examining Buffy carefully. "Quite," she said, at last.
Buffy stalked towards her. "Except that's a lie," she continued. "Because the First does
want a weapon hidden in Sunnydale — but it's not the Glove of Mynhegon. And it's not located in a cemetery."
"Buffy," Giles cut in. "If the Council believes—"
"You're too late," said Buffy, in a dark, dangerous voice, as she approached Post. "The Glove's already been found. And destroyed. Living Flame. You'll never get your hands on it."
Post fidgeted with her hands, a small, nervous smile creeping up her face. "Destroyed?"
"Buffy!" Giles shouted, imposing himself between Buffy and Post. His face was stern, indignant, and still severely flustered. "What's gotten into you?"
"Giles," said Buffy, calmly, "trust me. She's not what she seems. She isn't here to get rid of the Glove. She's here to use it for herself." She turned to Faith. "You believe me, right?"
Faith looked between Buffy and Post. "No," she admitted.
Buffy's jaw fell open. "But… you… don't like authority figures!" she insisted. "You…"
"I don't," Faith agreed. She shrugged. "But seems like you're the authority figure giving all the orders, here, B. Not Mrs. Post."
Buffy stared at her.
"Just look at yourself!" Faith demanded. "Look at what you've become! Hiding away Angel! Summoning vengeance demons! Letting the Big Bads run free!"
"Who are you to tell me what to do?" Faith shouted, getting into Buffy's face. "Who are you to be leading anybody? We're all going to be ground into mincemeat by some alien servant of the First Evil, and you won't kill him? What the hell is wrong with you?"
Buffy couldn't think of what to say.
Faith threw her stake at Buffy's feet. "I'm done with you, B," she said, and turned around, to walk off with Gwendolyn Post.
"Faith, wait!" Buffy called, chasing after her, but Faith pushed Buffy back with a force hard enough to topple her to the ground.
Faith gave Buffy a long, hard stare, then left with Post.
Giles helped Buffy to her feet, and put his hands on her shoulders. "Let her go."
Buffy felt her heart sink in her chest, as she recognized the look in Giles' eyes. It was his disappointed look. The one he used when he was furious at her, but trying not to show it.
"You agree with her," Buffy realized. She shook her head. "But... you believed me! When I told you I was from the future!"
"Buffy," said Giles, in a soft voice, "look at yourself. Look at what you're doing. First with Angel, and now with the Doctor. You're helping and protecting people who've murdered more souls than you can imagine. You're risking the lives of everyone you know and love, as if this were simply… a game!" He pointed in the direction of Gwendolyn Post. "And when the Watchers Council does send us aid, you antagonize her! Threaten her!"
"She's evil!" Buffy insisted.
the one putting the world at risk!" Giles retorted. He breathed, heavily, anger steaming from his face. "I can understand your protecting Angel's life. I don't like it, I don't approve of it, but I understand it. But… the Doctor!" He shook her. "What is he to you, Buffy? What makes it so impossible to kill him?"
"Because… because… it's just…" Buffy hesitated. "…he's not completely evil! I mean, he can't be, right? It's impossible! He'd never give in like that! He's… he's… he's still saving people!"
"He has slaughtered thousands," said Giles. "He is unstoppable, undefeatable. He knows every weakness of the Slayer, and he's fully prepared to use that knowledge against us."
"That still doesn't mean we should kill him!" Buffy shouted.
Giles gave a small sigh. "Buffy," he said. "It's time for you to choose what side you're on. Either you fight the First with us, or you continue to protect the Doctor."
Buffy stared at Giles a moment longer. "You really think that's it."
"No!" Buffy insisted. "You really think there are only two sides! Good and evil! Right and wrong! If I'm not on Gwendolyn Post's side, then I have to be on the First's side. If I'm not trying to kill the Doctor, I have to be evil! And you have no idea… no idea at all… that things are bigger than that."
"I am perfectly well aware of the magnitude of this catastrophe," Giles replied. "You're the one who believes it's—"
"You should listen to her," said the Northern English accent, as the leather-jacketed figure stepped out of the shadows. He pointed at Buffy. "Fantastic, that one is."
Giles stepped away from Buffy, utter betrayal in his eyes as he looked between the Ninth Doctor, and Buffy. As he seemed to put the pieces together — the First sticking up for Buffy — in exactly the wrong way.
"I'm not going to surrender to you," Buffy snapped at the Ninth Doctor. "Whatever Giles may think, I'm not on your side, and I never will be. So you can forget it."
"Bigger picture," the Ninth Doctor repeated, ignoring her. "Larger scope. One insignificant little decision, and the entire future changes. Your family moves to Cleveland instead of Sunnydale. You reveal Angel's still around sooner than you should. You arrive back at the TARDIS one second too late. Little changes. Massive consequences."
isn't a little change," Buffy said, pointing at the ground. "You brought me back in time. You made the Doctor evil. You destroyed every other alternate reality, and left only this one."
The Ninth Doctor shrugged. "Should have been more careful what you asked for."
"I never asked for this!" Buffy shouted. She stepped forwards, seething, her hands bunched into fists. "I should have expected you to show up! You did this kind of thing in my old reality, too! Separating me from my friends! Making them throw me out of the house, at the very moment you were worried I'd get the Scythe. And here, you just… appear… and then pretend that you're my bestest buddy, so Giles thinks I'm working for you!" She gave the First a look of utter hatred. "Well, get this. I'm your enemy. And I'm going to stop at nothing to make sure you're defeated!"
She spun around, and marched off, determination on her face.
The Ninth Doctor watched her as she left the graveyard. "Haven't worked it out, yet, then," he mused.--000--
"So you got my call," said the Mayor, with a friendly smile. He offered the man across the desk from him a plate of cookies. "Chocolate chip! Hand-made!"
The thin, pinstripe-suited man just quirked an eyebrow at him, not taking a cookie.
"Suit yourself," said the Mayor. "Not a fan of the culinary arts. Fine, fine!" He took a cookie himself, and began to munch on it. "You know, these really are good. Delicious!" He turned to one of his numerous vampire and demonic bodyguards. "My compliments to the cooks."
The Doctor looked at all the bodyguards, as well. "Using mindless banter to call my attention to the fact that you're well defended," he commented. "Well done. Any more disarmingly unhinged chatter, or are you done distracting me, and ready to get on with it?"
The Mayor leaned back in his chair, and pointed a cookie at Mr. Trick. "Mr. Trick, here, has told me about you," he said. "Once a fighter for good and justice, and now, working the other side. And," leaning across the table, "can I just say — great work! Wiping out Torchwood. Killing all those Watchers. Trying to destroy the Slayer." He gave a laugh. "You youngsters really approach this job with energy, don't you?"
The Doctor didn't answer, just raised an eyebrow at the word 'youngster'.
"Thing is," said the Mayor, "I started noticing that you've been spending a lot of your time in Sunnydale. And every single time, you ignore everyone else, and focus all your attention on one person in particular. The Slayer. Buffy Summers." He grinned. "So I thought, why not give the young man what he wants?" He stretched out a hand towards the Doctor. "What do you say?"
The Doctor sighed. "Are you done, yet?"
The Mayor gave a friendly laugh. "I like that!" he said. "Down to business, right away! Good to see you're not one of those young slackers you always see running around town!"
The Doctor examined him, carefully. "Oh, Richard Wilkins," he said. "You're even thicker now than the last time we met."
The Mayor hesitated.
"Sixteen body guards," the Doctor continued. "Reinforced glass in the windows. Triple security around the building. And you thought I wouldn't notice that you're afraid of me?" He threw up his hands into the air. "Unarmed! Surrounded on all sides! Completely defenseless!" He leaned in. "So why are all your bodyguards trembling?"
Mr. Trick stepped forwards, his face transforming into a vampiric snarl, but the Mayor held up his hand, and Mr. Trick backed off.
"My time is approaching," said the Mayor. "Soon, I'm going to devour this town. I am going to Ascend. And when that time comes, you'll have to accept the fact that…"
"…I'm your servant, I'm nothing, I'm a little tiny dot in the vast ocean of your pure evilness," the Doctor said, with the brush of his hand. "Heard it all before, thanks. Wasn't interested, then, either."
The Mayor flicked his eyes over at Mr. Trick. Then back to the Doctor.
"Course," the Doctor continued, "first time I heard it, I was a different man. Green frock coat. Dashingly handsome in a sort of Byronic way. And, at that time, I actually cared about the fate of the innocents you were trying to slaughter." He shrugged. "Funny how things change."
"You going to accept the deal or not?" Mr. Trick demanded of the Doctor.
The Doctor looked at him as if he were insane. "Not, of course," he said. "Should have thought that was obvious."
The vampire bodyguards all growled and hissed.
"All right, all right!" said the Mayor. "You're a hard bargainer, Doctor, but I like that. Enthusiasm and an emphasis on the bottom line. Tell you what. I'll give you both Slayers — drugged, bound, any way you want them — and their Watchers, kill off their friends for you, and, just because I'm feeling generous, I'll throw in that Angel guy, too. Anything you want to do with them — up to you!"
The Doctor leaned back in his chair. "Mr. Wilkins," he said. "Do you know where I am, right now?" The Doctor glanced down at — what appeared to be — a chunky black wrist watch. "November 11, 1998. Half past two in the morning." He looked up, thinking. "Right around Utah, I'd think. Remember that. Just killed a rather dumpy bloke — Watcher. Henry, that was his name."
The Mayor looked blankly at the Doctor.
"You got the wrong one, Richard Wilkins," said the Doctor. "The wrong version of me. I'm the me from the future — the me that time travels into the past. And — know what? When I come from, you're already dead." He smiled. "Because I've already killed you."
The Mayor scooted his chair back, a little, as his bodyguards all grabbed for the Doctor. The Doctor dodged them, expertly.
"But I know what you're going to ask," said the Doctor. "'Why come back in time just to talk to someone you've already killed in the future?' After all, not really a gloater, see. Never saw the point." He gave a small shrug. "Just thought you should know why. Why I killed you."
More quickly than anyone could make out, the Doctor was over by the Mayor, holding him by his suit jacket, glaring into his eyes.
"You," said the Doctor, "tried to harm Buffy Summers. You tried to torture her. You were going to try to eat her. And then…" His eyes narrowed. "You killed Jack. Ten times."
The Doctor threw the Mayor into his office chair.
"I don't do chances, anymore," the Doctor said. "In the future, you harmed my friends. So I went back in time. And killed you before you could."
The vampires all lunged for the Doctor, but he just gave a wink, pressed a button on his wrist gadget, and vanished.
The Mayor caught his breath. He turned to Mr. Trick.
"Change of plan," said the Mayor. "The Dedication ceremony takes place tomorrow." He took in a shaky breath. "I need to be invulnerable."--000--
"Look, nobody's here to blame you, Buffy," Willow assured her. "But this is serious. You need help."
Buffy wanted to hit her head on something. She'd forgotten that her friends had given her an intervention-talk when they'd first learned about Angel. The whole "you have a problem with harboring dangerous reformed/partially-reformed murderers who've tried to end the world" talk. Looks like it was happening again.
And at exactly the wrong time.
"Will, trust me, I know what I'm doing," Buffy assured her. "This is just way more complicated than you think."
"Really?" Xander demanded. "How? Explain to the rest of us how harboring vicious murderers is supposed to be a good thing!"
"This isn't about attacking Buffy!" Willow reprimanded Xander. "Remember, 'I-Statements' only. I
feel angry, I
"Here's one," said Cordelia. She turned to Buffy. "I feel worried. About me
. Every time you fall for some psycho-guy, you wind up being completely fine, and everyone around you gets threatened or killed."
Buffy felt a pang of guilt inside of her, at those words. As she remembered… all those Potential Slayers she'd buried. All the First's victims, back in 2003, that had died just because she'd come back to life.
"I know this is confusing," said Buffy. "But I'm on your side. Really, I am. Everything I'm doing now makes perfect sense if you understood all the crazy… time… stuff that's going on in the background."
"The 'time stuff' that means we're not real?" Oz clarified.
"Buffy," said Giles. "I'm afraid your actions are beginning to cross a line. A rogue Slayer at any time is a dangerous matter — and when we are facing an enemy as perilous as this, it is approaching disaster."
"Exactly!" Buffy exclaimed. "That's what I'm saying! I've got to stop Faith, before she—"
"I wasn't talking about Faith," Giles muttered, wiping his glasses on his shirt.
Buffy stared at him. Then all the others. "No," she said. She shook her head. "No! You think… I mean, you believe that I'm
"We're just trying to help you, Buffy," Willow insisted. "But you've got to accept that you have a problem."
Buffy held her head in her hands. "I don't believe this. You're having a we-think-Buffy's-gone-all-evil-Slayer intervention?"
"It's not an intervention," Giles admitted, with a sigh. "It's a final warning." He put his glasses back on his face. "Last night, you threatened a representative of the Watcher's Council. Post and I have discussed the matter, and she's willing to let it drop, so long as you offer her an apology and ensure your actions take a more positive turn."
"She's letting this whole thing go?" Buffy asked. Oh, that was bad. Because Gwendolyn Post was perfectly happy killing her, back in Buffy's old world — her main interest was in the Glove. So what did Post want, now? What was she trying to do?
Xander crossed his arms. "We also heard about the weapon."
"Weapon?" Buffy asked. "What weapon? What are you guys—?"
"That… Gwendolyn Post person… kind of showed up, while you were gone," Willow admitted. "And told us about what you'd said. That the First was after some super-weapon hidden in Sunnydale, that only you
Buffy's eyes widened. Oh, no. Post wanted the Scythe? Okay, that was way worse than her getting her hands on the Glove of Mynhegon.
One word, in the wrong place, at the wrong time…
"You going to entrust that
super-weapon to Angel, too?" Xander asked. "Or are you just going to hand it over to your best friend, the First?"
"The First is not my friend!" Buffy shouted.
"Really?" asked Xander. "Because we've all been seeing the First, too, and the only time it stops being malicious and threatening and super-evil, and starts being helpful and supportive, is when it turns all big-eared leather-jacket and starts hanging out around you."
Buffy got up from the chair. "This isn't helping!" she said. "I've got to find Gwendolyn Post and stop her. Trust me, she's not just some… Watcher from the Council! She wants the Scythe, and if she ever finds it, then we're going to be in serious trouble!"
The others around her seemed wary.
Buffy turned to Giles. "I've warned you about stuff like this before," she insisted. "I knew about the babies, remember? And the Doctor going after the Slayer line! How could I know that stuff if I wasn't from the future?"
"You got the information about the Band Candy out of Ethan Rayne," said Oz. "When you tried to collaborate with him."
"And it was obvious what course of action the Doctor would take against the Watchers Council," said Giles. "There've been warnings in the Slayer Annals dating back centuries."
"Can we get back to what's important?" Cordelia complained. "Buffy's horrible taste in boyfriends?"
Buffy shifted from foot-to-foot. "The Doctor's not my…" She caught herself. "I mean… I don't know what you're talking about."
"Buffy," said Xander, "you can give up the act. It's pretty obvious that whoever this Doctor-guy is, you're head over heels in love with him."
"For once, could you sleep with a guy who doesn't
want to kill us all?" Cordelia demanded.
"He doesn't…" Buffy trailed off, then buried her face in her hands. "He can get better. Spike got better."
"Spike?!" exclaimed every person in the room.
Oh, great, Buffy. Make them even more suspicious of you. No wonder the Doctor always had such a hard time convincing her friends to like him, back in Buffy's normal reality. When you knew the future, it was really hard not to say things that sounded super incriminating in the past.
Giles gave a long sigh. "Buffy," he said, "I'm your Watcher, and I care very deeply about you. But if you give us any more reason to believe that you've abandoned your sacred duty to protect the world… I will have to report you to the Council."
Buffy stared at them.
"This is your final warning," said Giles. "After this… you're in their hands. They'll decide your fate."