See Chapter 1.Summary:
See Chapter 1Spoilers:
See Chapter 1AN:
This part used to end in a cliff hanger.--- --- ---
"What door!" Leaning forward, Willow gave her a puzzled look, her nose slightly flared, her face scrunched up. Buffy quickly covered her mouth in an attempt to hide her snort of amusement at the sight. Willow raised an eyebrow at her reaction. "Don't you see it?" she asked, waving towards the wall.
"All I see is a wall," Buffy said, walking over to the place Willow had been pointing at. "Where is it?" Buffy watched her friend cautiously get up from her seat on the bottom step and walk over to her side. "What do you see, exactly?" She turned back to the wall and stared at it, trying to see whatever Willow thought she saw.
"There's a doorway with a door panel thing in it. Made out of wood." Willow told her. She walked forward and slowly ran a hand along the surface of the wall. As Buffy watched Willow's hand would occasionally blur, making it appear as if the wall weren't quite as solid as it looked. She could see that something strange was going on but she still couldn't see a doorway. Willow frowned, looking back at Buffy. "You still don't see it?"
"No... there's nothing there," Buffy murmured. "Not that I doubt you." she added quickly, berating herself silently for the almost slip-up. She'd almost forgotten how fragile Willow's confidence was.
"It's a concealment spell of some sort. I think." Willow said, hesitantly. "Give me your hand."
"Okay," Buffy said, trying to project confidence towards Willow as she reached over with her right hand. Following the gentle pressure of Willow's fingers as they guided her hand along the surface, she carefully touched the wall. Her eyes were still telling her it was a wall, but her fingers felt something that didn't match. "Can you get rid of it so we can both see what it's hiding?" she asked, reluctantly pulling her hand from Willow's grasp.
"I guess I could." Willow said, frowning in thought. Reaching out again, she stared at the wall for several minutes. "I'd have to use magic to do it." She gave Buffy a pleading look.
"And?" Buffy raised an eyebrow. Willow hadn't been as reluctant earlier when she'd checked the guest house for magical influences. "You were doing magic this morning."
"It's not the same thing," Willow said, shifted nervously. "That was just listening to the background magic. I usually have to work hard to not feel and hear that. You want me to do magic magic." Her voice wavered.
Buffy wondered if she were asking too much after just narrowly avoiding stomping on Willow's confidence, but only for a second. She suspected she would need a lot more magic from Willow when they got to Cleveland. "I need you to do this for me, Willow," she said, lightly gripping Willow's shoulder, hoping to encourage her.
"You might want to step back." Willow murmured, taking a deep breath.
Stepping back several paces, but not so far that she couldn't protect her friend if something attacked from the door, Buffy watched as she took several more deep breaths. Holding her hands over the wall, her fingers splayed out like the points of a lopsided star, Willow began whispering something that sounded like Spanish to Buffy's untrained ear. A small spot on the wall in front of them began to glow, emitting a purple light that grew until it resembled the shape of a door.
Lowering her hands, Willow stared at the door shaped glow for a minute before raising her right hand, palm side up, horizontal to the floor. Aiming the fingers of her hand towards the wall, Willow blew across her palm. A faint blue light that Buffy just barely saw sprang up and flew like dust towards the wall. When the blue light met the purple wall there was a faint popping sound and to Buffy's eyes the wall seemed to dissolve, leaving behind a solid wooden door.
"It's a door." Buffy blurted out in relief.
"Told ya." Willow said.
"Yes. Sorry." Buffy grinned, not embarrassed in the least. She was just relieved that Willow had been able to uncover it. Stepping closer to Willow, Buffy put her hands on her friend's shoulders and guided her back to the stairs. "Wait here while I check it out," she told her.
Buffy looked at the door for a moment. It was hingeless. Door panel more accurately described it. There didn't seem to be a knob or handle of any sort but one side of it had a worn spot where one might be. Putting a hand against it, Buffy applied a little pressure. The door moved but not in the manner she expected. If she hadn't been a slayer, when the door suddenly slid into the wall to its left she would have fallen forward into the metal gate that was revealed.
"Do you know anything about elevators?" Buffy asked as she stared through the metal gate. She'd only ever seen something like it on TV but it was definitely an elevator.
"Nope." Willow told her. "Is that what it is?"
"Yup." Reaching forward, Buffy pulled back the gate and looked into the dim interior. "I wonder if it still works. We don't have time to get someone in to fix it."
"How hard could it be?" Willow asked. Joining Buffy, she stared curiously at their find.
"I think you pull this." Buffy pointed at a lever inside the door.
Bending down, Willow blew away dust, revealing numbers next to notches at the bottom end of the lever. "That looks like a dead-man's switch," she croaked, coughing.
"Dead-man's switch. Trains have them," she said. "I didn't know they put them in elevators. If you let go of it the elevator stops."
"So we can't just set it to a floor and see if it makes it. One of us has to ride it the whole way."
"I'll do it. You can meet me upstairs." Buffy said, staring at the controls, halfway expecting Willow to object, given her just completed demonstration of her superior knowledge of all things mechanical.
"No." Willow said. "We do it together. There must be a reason it was hidden away like that."
"I can handle anything that might happen."
"Not if it's something magical." Willow said, a very faint echo of her resolve face appearing.
"Willow..." Buffy objected, though not too strenuously. It was nice to see some assertiveness from her friend again, even if now wasn't the best time for it.
"Something is going to happen." Willow told her, her voice squeaking.
"Like what?" Buffy asked.
"I don't know," she admitted, blushing. "It's just a feeling. But that isn't an ordinary elevator. You'll need me." She stepped closer, putting her hand on Buffy's arm. "Both of us go or neither."
Buffy sighed, after another quick glance in Willow's eyes she didn't have the heart to force the issue.
"Okay then. But let's do this right," Buffy said, suddenly feeling compelled to arm herself before entering the elevator. Taking Willow's hand she pulled her up the stairs, directing her into the manager's office and stopping next to the desk. "Wait right here." she told her, before continuing into the living quarters. Opening one of her suitcases, Buffy pulled out a smaller case and took it into the office. Laying it out on the desk, she carefully opened it.
"New?" Willow asked, staring at the contents curiously.
"Spent some time with the Council armorer when I was in London." Buffy said, giving her a small grin. "She had all sorts of toys for me to play with."
"The Council has a 'Q'?" Willow asked, reaching out and gingerly touching a stake.
Buffy frowned. "Q? Oh! The Bond guy. I guess." She shrugged as she took out a boot knife and a hidden stake sheath holding one of the slim stakes the armorer was so proud of. They weren't as good as a sword or crossbow but they were just going up an elevator in an empty hotel.
"Why don't you see if there's anything there you like." Buffy said, going back into the sitting room to change into her boots, the boot knife sliding into its' sheath in her left boot making her feel less naked.
"I don't need anything." Willow protested.
"Are you going to be able to use magic to defend yourself?" Buffy asked.
"Umm..." Willow looked down, her hair covering her face. She shrugged. "Maybe?"
"Pick something you can put in a pocket." Buffy told her while she strapped on the hidden stake, glad it was cool enough for long sleeves.
Grimacing, Willow selected a knife small enough to fit in a pocket. "All set."
Buffy nodded, knowing this was something else she would have to work with Willow on. The knife wouldn't be much help against a determined assailant but was better than nothing. They weren't in Sunnydale where people seemed to ignore anything odd like the gang carrying real weapons but she felt the need to be armed in some way.
"This has the potential to be very embarrassing." Buffy told her, taking the lead as they headed back down to the basement and the elevator.
"What do you mean?" Willow asked, as they stopped in front of it.
"We didn't check to see if the doors are covered over on the other floors." Buffy said.
"Oh. Do you want to go do that first?" Willow asked.
"Nah. We can check while we're on this ride."
"Ride?" Willow shook her head.
"Excursion?" Buffy tried again.
"You're taking that British passport seriously, aren't you." Willow giggled.
"Certainly not!" Buffy protested, winking at her. "Shall we proceed with our journey?" She held out her hand.
"Let's" Willow answered, giving Buffy a small smile as she allowed herself to be guided into the elevator. Buffy reached around her to pull the gate shut behind them, suppressing an involuntary shudder as her hand brushed along Willow's back.
"How do we want to do this?" she asked, hoping Willow hadn't seen her blush at their contact. "All the way to the top first? Or stop at each floor on the way up?"
"Stop at each floor." Willow said.
Buffy nodded. She didn't think it really mattered. Looking at Willow for a moment, she gently pushed the lever forward to the first notch. They both started in surprise as the sliding door automatically closed behind them. The elevator shook for a second before lurching upward. She could hear the faint sounds of some sort of machinery above them as it moved.
The elevator came to a stop on the ground floor and the door slide into the wall. Opening the gate, Buffy stuck her head out and looked around for a moment before concluding that it looked normal.
"So, the door isn't hidden on the other floors?" Buffy asked, looking back at Willow "I didn't see it when we were upstairs."
"Maybe the shielding charm is only one way? If you're in the elevator you can see out? I can check it when we're done." Willow said. Buffy nodded and closed the inner gate.
They repeated the action on the other floors. Next notch on the lever, stay in the elevator and take a quick look around.
"Looks good." Buffy said when they reached the last floor. She looked at Willow, raising an eyebrow in question. "Do we need to go all the way back to the basement?"
"The ground floor is fine." Willow shrugged. "Could have been wrong about the feeling."
Nodding, Buffy pushed the lever forward to the ground floor notch. They rode silently for several minutes until it came to a stop. Letting go of the lever, she pulled open the gate. Holding out her free hand, she guided Willow back out into the lobby. They'd gone several feet before they both realized that something was very different about it.
"Buffy?" Willow asked nervously. "When did someone come in and remodel the lobby?"
"Umm..." she looked around, stunned. "I don't think this is our lobby."
"Okay... I think we know why the elevator was hidden." Willow said.
"Ya think?" Buffy muttered. "Time travel or different dimension?" she asked, only half seriously. Turning around the corner towards the dining room, she noticed that this Guest House was obviously well cared for.
"Don't know." Willow said, her eyes moving quickly as she looked around. "Not enough info to know yet."
Buffy nodded, cautiously walking just a step ahead of her. Until they had proof otherwise she was going to assume this was some sort of alternate dimension. Those she knew how to deal with. Time travel was just too wiggy and twilight Zone-ish. Especially that whole 'kill your own grandfather butterfly' thing.
She slowed down, holding up a hand to stop Willow. She could sense a very strong mystical presence of some sort nearby. It seemed to be leaking enough power to attract her attention but not enough to pinpoint its exact location. "Can you feel that?"
"We aren't alone." Willow nodded, whispering.
"Any ideas?" Buffy asked, keeping her voice very low.
"It isn't anything evil, but I don't think we want to get them mad."
"Them?" Buffy asked.
"There's two of them." Willow said, looking around. "Maybe we should just leave?"
"It's too dangerous to leave it like that. Do you know how to turn off the elevator once we get back?"
"No." Willow admitted. "This is the first one like it that I've ever heard about."
"So we ask." Buffy said firmly.
Willow looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "And if they aren't happy to see us in their house?"
"We run?" Buffy said, reaching over and grabbing Willow's hand.
"Running I can do." Willow agreed.--- --- ---
Diana sat in the kitchen, watching Dean clean up after feeding them. She almost envied her sister at times like this. Claire had gotten very lucky, she thought, trying not to think about her own faltering relationship. Being around Dean made her feel safe. His presence was very soothing, even to her.
The sound of the elevator stopping interrupted her thoughts. "I didn't know you had guests," she said.
"We don't." Dean put down his towel and walked to the kitchen door, looking curiously out into the other room.
Suddenly, the faint background feeling that had been at the back of her mind for the last few hours, indicating that a summons was about to begin, grew exponentially. She gasped at the suddenness as it slammed into her head, grabbing the counter just in time to stop herself from falling down.
"Yes?" He turned to look at her.
"I think I should go first." She nodded at the door. "This one's for me."
"Your summons?" He asked, just barely avoiding tripping over Samuel as he rushed out of the kitchen.
Nodding, she walked out of the kitchen, stepping in front of him. Or attempting to anyway, her progress halted at the sight of the two women, a blonde and a red head, standing just inside the dining room. For a moment she wondered if she were hallucinating. What were a fictional character and her best friend doing wandering around?
Her second thought was of total confusion, not helped by Samuel's sudden appearance in front of the blonde. Her third thought? The elevator. Her fourth thought she suspected would be detrimental to her health if these women were who she thought they were. --- --- ---
Standing inside the entrance to the dining room, Buffy looked around in amazement. "I wonder if they would remodel the dining room in the Council's Guest House." She shook her head at Willow's frown. "Just kidding." Both she and Willow turned to the small kitchen. Whatever they were sensing was in there.
A tall man stepped out of the kitchen, followed by a girl around Dawn's age.
"Yum." Buffy murmured under her breath.
"Can I help you?" The man asked in a warm tone that sent a bolt of warmth through her chest. Buffy wasn't sure what his accent was but she definitely liked it.
"Double yum." she said in a very low voice, unable to prevent a smile from breaking out.
"Buffy!" Willow hissed at her. "Now isn't the time for that."
"Spoil-sport." she grumbled good-naturedly, before continuing. "He's not where it's coming from, is he?"
"Nope." Willow stared at him for a long moment before explaining quietly. "There's something unusual about him but as far as power goes... he's the eye candy."
"Only if they knew you were coming." Willow muttered, almost too low for Buffy to hear.
"Hey!" Buffy tried to give her friend her best innocent look.
The girl, slightly taller than both of them, started to step in front of the man, halting as she stared at them in apparent shock. Buffy, clearly hearing her quick intake of air looked down at herself and over at Willow but couldn't see anything obviously wrong with their appearance to cause such a reaction.
"That would be one of them." Willow told her quietly, subtly gesturing at the girl.
"And the other?" Feeling something brush against her legs, Buffy looked down to see an orange cat rubbing itself against her legs. Unable to resist, she reached down and began petting it.
"Umm... Buffy?" Willow said, her voice strained.
"Yeah?" She looked up at Willow.
"You're petting it."
"Petting what?" Buffy asked, not really paying any attention to anything except the cat.
"The other source of power in the hotel."
"What?" Buffy looked at the cat, looked back at Willow and then back at the cat again. It just sat there, looking up at her as if waiting for her to continue. "It's just a cat." She continued petting it. "See?"
Nervously following Buffy's example, Willow reached over and attempted to pet the cat. She jumped back when it hissed at her and waved a paw at her, all claws exposed. "Hey!"
"No being mean to my Willow." Buffy scolded, looking down at it.
"He has issues," the girl said, her voice slightly tinged with the same Canadian accent Buffy had been hearing since they'd landed in Ottawa. Looking closer, she decided the girl was actually older than she'd originally thought.
"Issues?" Buffy asked in surprise. "He's a cat." Straightening up, she placed a calming hand on Willow's shoulder, surprised at how strongly she could feel her heart beating.
"Perhaps," the girl murmured before taking several steps closer. Nodding to herself, she circled them several times, mumbling under her breath, too low even for Buffy's enhanced hearing to understand. "Okay, it's fixable." the girl said, reaching down and picking up the cat. "Let me get my bag."--- --- ---TBC