"You can take a break," Angel told Joanna, sitting down beside her lab bench. "You must be exhausted."
Joanna steadied her hands, as she tilted the blood she'd acquired into the beaker. Trying to keep her eyes focused, so she wouldn't spill anything. "I'm fine," she insisted.
"Joanna," said Angel.
Joanna glared at him. "It's Razor
," she said. "Whatever the hell he's doing, you can bet he's not stopping."
"He'll have to," Angel insisted. "We shut down the distributor. He won't be able to distribute the blood the way he's been doing."
"Yeah," said Joanna, not stopping with her work, "because it's obvious, even in the normal, human world. Get rid of one single drug dealer, and poof! Miracle! No more drugs!"
The beaker slipped from Joanna's hands, and crashed onto the floor. She stared at it, as if everything inside of her had just crashed there, as well.
"We're going to find the Doctor," Angel promised. "But you can't do it when you're like this."
Joanna's eyes were still fixed on that broken beaker. On the shards of glass scattered across the ground, the orangey blood dripping past their feet.
"Do you remember," Joanna whispered, "what it felt like?"
Angel hesitated. "Yes," he admitted.
"When every feeling fades away, except… that excitement," Joanna said. "That excitement and happiness and exhilaration you get, when you feed."
Joanna's eyes snapped over to Angel. "Especially when you're young," she said. "Before you reach 400-ish. You want to harm, because it makes you feel alive. You want to destroy, because it proves you're real. You want to torture, because…" she took in a sharp breath, "it makes you feel strong."
Angel said nothing.
"I grew out of the more sadistic stuff," said Joanna. "But I still expected it. From the younger ones. It didn't disturb me. It didn't worry me. I didn't think any of it was wrong." She looked down at her hands. "The Doctor got so angry at me about that."
"And you didn't understand why he was angry," Angel guessed.
"I thought he was an idiot
!" Joanna agreed. "Not understanding the appeal of going off on a murder spree just to alleviate boredom. Flipping out, when he discovered I sired humans by convincing them to kill themselves, instead of using brute force. And the way he just kept believing, that whole time, that he could show me… it was wrong. Make me feel empathy and compassion towards the human victims."
"But you never did," said Angel. "None of us ever did."
"I knew that, logically, killing humans wasn't in our best interest," said Joanna. "Murder led to humans getting angry, chasing after you with stakes, and… I'd seen way too many fellow vampires die that way. No thank you." Her hands shook, even more violently. "But I never thought any of it was wrong." She looked up at Angel. "They
won't think any of it is wrong."
Angel didn't answer.
"You know what Razor's team does," Joanna said. "What they're going to do to the Doctor, eventually. You wouldn't tell your Little Miss Slayer, but that doesn't mean you don't know."
Angel, once more, was silent.
"They can't bite him," said Joanna. "One bite, and he'll be able to regenerate. Kill them all."
"They've been extracting the blood another way," Angel agreed. "We've already determined that."
"But they've still got that instinct!" Joanna insisted. "That desire. They want to bite him, they want to drain his blood, feel the warmth of his life force inside their own bodies, as they kill him. They want that. And they can't get it. Frustration. And we both know how that frustration's going to translate."
Angel said nothing for a long moment. "You don't know for sure…"
Joanna gave him a pointed look, and he stopped.
She reached for another beaker, and started the process again. "I've got Carolyn's notes, now," she said. "And… before I was human… I used to know how to do this. How to make this… Vamp-Away stuff." She shook her head. "There's got to be… something in my head! Some memory the Doctor left intact, or some… procedure I'll recognize, or… anything!" She felt her shoulders slump. "Any way that we can kill them."
Angel took her by the shoulders. "Joanna," he said. "Go to sleep. Now."
It was starting to be a problem.
Buffy guessed that this was just what Jack did, when he wasn't the man in charge, couldn't do anything to help save the day, but was seriously worried and trying to hide it. He became flirty, charming, insatiable, telling bawdy stories with a hearty laugh and drawing people in. And he was… actually really good at it. Even Buffy had caught herself listening, once or twice. Giggling at the opportune places.
No! That wasn't… she shouldn't… who the hell was she to be smiling?! Buffy could still remember that horrible guilt that had eaten her up, from the inside, back when she'd discovered that the Doctor had been locked up in the Initiative. When she realized that she'd been happy, while he'd been in pain.
Buffy wasn't about to make the same mistake, twice.
If the Doctor was out there, suffering, in pain, hurting and screaming and being unable to stop it — then Buffy damn well wasn't going to feel one single ounce of happiness. And she definitely wasn't going to flirt with Jack.
The other Slayers, however, didn't share Buffy's mindset. Didn't mind taking Jack up on his flirtations. Sometimes… very much so.
with him?" Buffy cried.
Amanda fidgeted. "Well, he's… kind of… really hot."
Buffy just stared at her, open-mouthed.
"It's not like we're under-age, or anything," Vi put in. "We can sleep with whoever we want!"
Buffy turned on Vi. "You, too?"
"Not at the same time," Vi said, her cheeks turning bright red. She glanced over at Amanda. "But… well… like she said. He's… really hot."
"But… but…" Buffy shook her head. "Can't you feel
what he's like? Jack's just… there, and forever, and… wrong
"Well, yeah!" Amanda snapped back. "Of course we can feel he's wrong! That's what makes it fun!"
Vi giggled, her eyes locked on the ground.
Buffy couldn't believe this. She couldn't believe any of this. The world was ending, they had no idea how to fight back or save people or even find the Doctor, and her Slayer Institution was turning into… the Jack Harkness Brothel!
And as if that wasn't bad enough…
"I know one place you could thrust that stake," Faith said, with a wink, as the two were wrestling in one of the workout rooms.
the Slayer, here," said Jack. "I think a demonstration is in order."
"Love to," said Faith, tackling him to the ground, her own body on top of his. "But I've got a boyfriend."
Jack grinned. "Nothing wrong with sharing."
Oh, great. Thanks, Jack. Great big spy, in the middle of them, and Jack wants to sleep with the guy! Geeze.
Buffy cleared her throat.
Jack immediately stepped away from Faith. "What?" he protested, before Buffy could voice her objections. "I was just getting some vampire-staking pointers."
"Jack," Buffy warned.
"We're just having some fun, B," Faith said. "Chill."
"Chill," Buffy repeated. She could feel herself shaking with anger and worry and… okay, maybe the sheer, repressed terror of the whole situation. "Chill! Thanks so much, Faith. I'll just… chill, while every single human being gets murdered, and the world ends. Is that okay? Or is that not enough 'chill' for you?"
Faith hesitated. Then put up her hands, in surrender. "Fine. Don't chill. Whatever you want, B."
Buffy gave them both a dark stare. Then, to Jack, "Final warning." Then she turned, and left the room.
"Wow," said Faith. "B is seriously…" She stopped, as she noticed that Jack's attention was lingering towards the door through which Buffy had just disappeared. The expression on his face, as if he were trying to see through the walls themselves, and watch Buffy just a few seconds longer.
Faith sighed. "Yeah," she said, turning. "Typical."