To Come When The Lady Calls.
Tara smiled when she ran into Bobby coming out of his garage. "Hi."
"Tara," he said, smiling at her. The boys and other hunters had described her perfectly. "How's your girl?"
"Heading for some associates in Miami. What's been going on?"
"Well, a lot really. Come on, got the last fax from the boys earlier." He led her inside, making her some tea laced with holy water. She didn't even notice, earning a smile from him. "This is what we had as of this morning. They went scouting last night to do a demon count."
She looked it over, pushing her hair behind her ears. Then she smiled at him. "The fire spells?"
"Apparently your buddy's first spell. He said it works pretty well when he runs outta ammo."
She laughed. "Xander likes fires and explosions."
"Most guys do," he agreed. She smiled and got back to the what they had. "You all right?"
"A bit tired but then again I've been on the hellmouth for over a year." She looked at him again. "It's like radiation or pollution sickness. It slowly leeches into you but it can make you sick when you don't have it around."
He nodded. "Figured that was part of his problem." He handed over another sheet. "That's what Ethan found on what happened."
She sat down to read it over, frowning some. "That's not.... Darn it, he Xander'd it." Bobby gave her a very amused look. She shrugged back. "Magic goes strange when done around Xander. We've never figured out why. Even when he's helping with spells it doesn't go right all the time. Even if he's in the same room but not helping sometimes." He laughed. "I'm guessing since it was him doing it, it got a bit worse." She went back to reading, nodding some. "We can fix this. Ethan has a plan." She smiled at him. "What else can I do to help? I...I could use the job."
"You'll have plenty out there. If you can't stay, you could help that Angel guy in LA. Wes said he's getting frustrated."
"I can do that," she agreed. She kissed him on the cheek. "Should I get a bus ticket to LA?"
"Nah. Ethan said he'd have someone pick you up tonight." He winked. "Want a bath, girl?"
He nodded, pointing at the bathroom. She smiled and gave him a short hug then went to clean herself up. He grinned. It wasn't often that pretty girls hugged him. "Hope she and her witch can make it through this. Might miss that one," he said quietly. "She's a good girl."
Ethan looked up as the demon who owed him showed up. "Thank you. Is that all, Tara?"
"Yup." She patted the demon on the arm. "Thank you." It nodded, looking at Ethan.
"That cancels it." The demon smiled and disappeared. He led her to the car, taking her back to the house. "Is there any good way to knock the boy out? It'll be easier to do if he's out."
"Bang to the head?"
"No, we'll need him able to function the next day."
"We'll see what I can do. I do know a few sedative potions." He nodded, smiling at that. She watched the town go by. "Wow. It's really cleared."
"All but some of the worst demons," he agreed gently. "Is Willow in Miami?"
"Got there about an hour before your friend picked me up. Andrew picked her up, let her call. She's a bit pouty but he said he expected that. They spent all day setting up and watching bikinis because there was a beach not even a block away." He laughed at that. "They said if they ever take over the world they were going to make bikinis mandatory for the cute girls. Willow hadn't had her pain pills so she changed his clothes into one, making him complain, but she giggled."
"I do like the burgeoning chaos witch she's becoming," he said dryly. "Some year she can take my spot as Highest to Janus." He parked and got out, walking her inside. "Boys?" he called. "She's here."
"Let me put on pants," Xander called. "You too, Spike."
She blushed. "I didn't want to hear about that," she said when Xander came out.
"Not likely," Xander said dryly. "Spike's been running around in his boxers all day to freak Sam out." He gave her a hug. "I missed you."
"I missed you too, goofball." She smiled at him. "You need a nap."
"I just got up," he teased. "Guys!" Dean came down from the attic. "Look who's back."
"Dean," she said, giving him a hug. "No Sam?"
"Sammy's napping off a vision headache." He gave her an extra squeeze. "When are we doing this stuff, Ethan?"
"Tonight," he said.
"Okay," Dean agreed. He reached over and knocked Xander out with a neck pinch. "There ya go." Ethan smirked and got Spike to help him carry his body to the car. He walked Tara out, letting Sam climb down to follow them. They'd have to guard them while they worked on Xander's magic link. There's no telling what might happen. They got to the hellmouth and found a few demons sniffing around the wreckage. Ethan burnt them to a crisp and they went inside, letting Tara flame the other one. Dean smirked at her. "You're turning into him," he teased.
She smirked back. "It's easier. He's right." He laughed. They walked into the library, making her shiver. "Here. You can feel all the spirits that died here." They stretched the boy out on the pale glow they could see coming from the partially open hellmouth. She got Xander's head, Ethan got his feet, and the spell he had copied got handed over for her. He had it memorized. She read it over a few times then got to work on the potion they'd need while the guys paced around and made sure they'd be safe. They slowly finished the spell to put a space between Xander and the hellmouth, watching as the glow brightened. She looked at it then at Ethan. "What else is open?"
"Niagra. Cleveland. The one just over the Chinese border."
She slumped. "Can't we find someone?"
"The one in Cleveland got eaten during the last battle," Sam told her. "Niagra's got turned so he's not as effective."
She nodded, doing something over Xander's forehead, making the glow fade. She smiled down at him. "That means you link in differently. It can help you. Like it does Willow." She smoothed over his forehead. "He's chilly."
"He's still living," Spike assured them at the horrified looks. "Just out." They nodded and packed up everything, taking him back to the car. The house was still in one-piece, though they saw the two demons that had attacked it were now dead on the lawn. "Good work, childe."
"Thank you," Ethan said smugly. "Let's get ourselves inside, shall we?" They got everyone inside and Tara got the book room. He smiled at her. "Now all we need is to get things from some of the victims on that plane."
She smiled. "Slayer dreams, Ethan."
He brightened, hugging her. "Oh, I do enjoy working minds." He went to look up how to dream walk. He could get into his Ripper's mind to let him know what was going on. Then perhaps they could send something back.
Sam smiled as he pulled Tara into the kitchen. "Come eat. Fill us in on what's been going on with the east coast battles." He heard the knock at the door. "Who is it?" he yelled.
"Don," he called. "And the little brother."
Spike went to open it. "You should not be here."
Charlie beamed and held up a bracelet. "Dru made it for me."
"Get in here," he grumped. They walked in. He looked at the charm better. "It'll keep you from being tainted."
"That's why she gave both of us one," Don said dryly, smirking a bit. "We saw a light show?" Tara peaked out of the kitchen then withdrew. "That's not Buffy, right? They said she was a blonde."
"Nah, that's Glinda." Spike led them back there. "The Fed and his baby brother."
"You know, some day I'll be really ancient and then his kids'll pick on me about being so old," Charlie said with a grin. "Hi, Charlie Epps."
Tara smiled. "Tara," she said quietly.
He beamed. "I've heard about you. Dru was singing about how pretty you were and how strong you glowed. Enough to light the red darkness?"
Spike coughed. "Red, the other witchy-poo," he explained. He looked at Don. "Can't keep 'em apart?"
"No, I've tried. Angel's tried," he said dryly. "We even tried shooting at her. Didn't work."
"At least she's not making me her shopping buddy. Plus she likes Dad. Thinks he's neat."
Don looked at him. "If she turns Dad I'm killing both of you."
Charlie pinched him on the arm. "Just because we'd end up turning you...."
"Fat chance, Chuck. Don't even think about it."
"Fine, I won't think about it." Sam snickered. "I'm sure your brother would think the same thing."
"Probably to keep me from killing him," he agreed.
Dean looked at him. "I'd walk in sunlight before we spend an eternity annoying each other."
Sam pouted. "You wouldn't be worried about me?"
"Sure I would but I'd never make you hunt me."
"So you wouldn't try to turn me to keep me with you?"
"Then I can't have nephews to corrupt, dumbass." Charlie snickered at that. "I couldn't." He shrugged. "Before you ask, Willow's out of the hospital and headed for Miami."
"Should I warn someone?" Don asked. "First the ones Xander calls the evil trio and now her?" He looked at Tara. "Should Miami worry?"
Spike coughed. "Depends on the evil trio and what Red gets up to in her mind," he said admitted.
"She'll be *fine*," Tara said calmly. "Even if she did put Andrew in a bikini because he was singing their praises."
Charlie burst out laughing. "That's a neat talent."
"Don't tempt her," Xander said as he wobbled in. He looked at Charlie. "I've seen your picture and you're much too young to be in Sunnydale." He held up the charm. "Wes?"
"Dru," Don said dryly. "She likes his hair. Compared him to a long-haired rabbit she ate a few months back."
Spike walked off shaking his head, moaning slightly. His dark princess was more warped than usual. He went to call Angel to help him. Angel himself picked up. "Remember what we did in Lisbon? Might wanna do it again, Peaches. Could help calm her down." Angel's 'I already did, it didn't help' didn't make him that happy. "Knocking her fully out help yet?" He smirked at the answer he got. "That's fine. We've got Tara. No, the evil geek trio have Red. Yeah, them. Miami." He snickered and hung up. "Don, the poofter said that warning Miami might be a good idea. 'Specially if she's gonna have a tantrum."
Tara squeaked, calling down there. She hadn't thought about Willow's temper. "Willow, are you all right? No, we're fine. We've managed to loosen the link for Xander." Xander gave her a look, finishing mixing his current mug of cocoa before putting it into the microwave. The microwave blew a fuse. He muttered and warmed the cup up with magic then went to flip the breaker again. Tara gave him a worried look. Spike too.
"Huh, we turned him into Red," Spike said finally.
"I'm not changing clothes with it," Xander called. "Plus I'm not hitting on Tara."
Tara smiled. "He's fine. A bit grumpy. Needs some sleep. Sure. You're being good, right?" She shook her head. "No, we're working on getting them back, Willow. It'll be okay." She hung up, looking at Don, nodding a bit. "Warn them." He nodded, going to find a number of someone he knew down there. If not, his boss probably knew someone in the local office. She looked at Charlie. "How are you enjoying unlife?"
"It's not as bad as I thought it could be when I went goth as a teenager in college. Honestly it's not so bad, even if blood does taste kind of nasty."
"Depends on the blood," Spike assured him. "Some blood's real sweet. Slayer blood, witchly blood. Hunter's blood too, usually full of heat and passionate stuff." He fixed him a mug, handing it over. "There, o-positive."
"Thanks." He sipped and nodded. "Fresher than what Angel gets."
"He has better contacts," Dean told him. "So, who turned you?"
"One of the vampires that ran from here according to what Angel knows," Don said as he came back. "What else can she do, outside of magic?"
"She's a hacker," Dean said dryly. "The three geeks apparently created a robot of the slayer, and it's so good it's hard to tell from what we've heard from Xander." Don let out a small moan.
"They'd like to take over the world and are willing to start with a single city and Hollywood so it quits showing so many chick flicks," Sam added with a grin. Charlie burst out giggling. "They trained geek style."
"D&D?" Charlie suggested. Both hunters nodded. "It'll be fine. Miami's a pretty safe city as long as you're not in a gang. If they had went to New York it might've been harder to keep them out of trouble." Xander came out to give him an odd look. "It could've been."
"Andrew opened a portal to Hogwarts last year. Warren made him close it because he decided he wasn't smart enough to compete with Snape for Hermione's affection yet." Charlie and Don both gaped. "And they did it with technology. No magic involved. Maybe they can get the plane back if Ethan can't."
"I asked, they said they'd do what they could think of," Ethan called from the garage. "Though they were not that hopeful." He came out of the garage reading something. "Were I still taking students I gladly would've taken them in as proteges to follow my glorious footsteps in the service to Janus and his chaos." He looked at Don. "Yes, worry. A lot." Don walked off to call that person back. He smiled at Charlie. "I'm about as new as you are at this stuff. Spike turned me when I got attacked."
"That's kinda cool. Larry, my best friend, thinks I should worry about getting minions and those around me to help me. He asked that if I turn him I make him a full childe instead of a minion." Spike walked off cackling. "He thinks we can find ways to set up a nice vampire commune so we don't have to worry about things."
Ethan smiled. "It's not a horrible idea. I know from Spike that there's been other movements in that direction. A gathering cult of 'eat three, bring in one to turn'. A non- violence and hunting guru a few years back." Spike gave him an odd look. "Fred told me about that one. Said someone named Harmony...." Xander burst out cackling. "Ah, I see you know that vampire?"
"One of Cordelia's former sheep," Xander said with a fond smirk. "Airhead bitch. Really, really airhead. Spike took up with her when Dru left him." Spike whimpered. "Even he couldn't put up with her airhead and Cali princess tendencies." Ethan snickered. "For some reason I'm not really surprised that she joined a cult." He walked off shaking his head again. "Since I can still do fire spells I'm going to go hunting. Anyone coming?"
"No!" Dean shouted. "You need rest."
"There's six of them staring at the house. I thought I might take them out before they burn us back," he called back. He walked out onto the front porch, finishing his cocoa and handing Sam the cup when he leaned out. "Put that in the sink for me please, Sam?"
"Sure, Xander. Need a gun?"
Xander shook his head. "No, I'm still working on some anger issues from my childhood this way." He waved a hand and they all got cut in half by the fire he sent out. Only one moved and the moving parts got an extra dose so they all died.
"That stinks," Charlie called.
Xander walked in and shut the door. "Sorry. We have an A/C unit." He flipped it on and put the air freshener cone in front of it. "There, how's that?" He grinned and went to check the freezer. "We're out of food?"
"There's stuff in the fridge," Dean told him. Xander looked and nodded, walking off warming it up with magic. He shook his head. "Backlash?" he asked Tara.
"Overload. He has to let some of the excess out," Ethan said. "Xander, go dump it like I showed you that first night," he called. Xander went that way to do that, nibbling on his fried chicken. He shook his head. "Tara, do you know how to dream walk?"
"Beyond what the First Slayer did?" He nodded. "No. Why?"
"Dru does," Charlie said, pulling out a sealed letter. "She said you needed that to help the chippy blonde thing that has a meow that draws her poor injured prince. I'm assuming that's Buffy?"
Ethan nodded, walking off reading it. "Spike, Dru wrote instructions in her special language of insanity. Can you please translate it for me?" he called finally. "I don't understand her version at all yet."
"Spend too much time with Angel, you will," Charlie said cheerfully. "I'm starting to understand Dru."
"Which is why we didn't want you two to hang out," his brother said. He looked at Dean. "Now what?"
"Cleveland. A small battle in Niagra. A demon cult in Louisiana." He shrugged. "The usual for us plus some of these battles."
"Can we tell what's going to happen? Are we going to have to evacuate Cleveland next?"
"No we have hunters there," Tara told him. "At least not the bad kind. Their kind are handling it."
Don beamed. "I love you guys for not making us do this stuff. I never wanted to know about this stuff."
Charlie patted him on the back. "Look at it this way, Don. I'll be on the cutting edge of math for *centuries*."
"Yeah, centuries of you hiding in the garage to work on formulas," he said dryly. "You forgetting to eat. You forgetting to shower. Larry giving you honorary nieces and nephews so you can train them too." His brother smiled at that. "Not like my kids will be super brains."
"Tell me about it," Dean complained. "Sammy's our super brain, at a more normal level," he said with a nod at Charlie, "but none of my kids'll ever match his smarts. He'll run rings around them mentally until they give up and cry."
"You haven't yet," Sammy said happily.
Dean smirked at him. "No but you're edging on driving me insane again." Sam walked off snickering. "See what I put up with?"
"I know that feeling," Don admitted. He gave his brother a dirty look. "I feel the same way sometimes, even if I'm not wanted by my people."
"It was a demon, not me," Dean protested.
Don looked at him. "The credit card scams?"
"Gotta make motel money," he said blandly.
Don shook his head. "We locked your file unless you do something really nasty until this is done with. Then we'll see."
"Thanks." He grinned. "I'll try."
"Try to keep it locked," Charlie told him. "You don't want to see Don when he kicks in a door. Not even the bathroom door."
Don gave him an odd look. "I haven't done that to you since I was twelve."
"Still impressive," he said with a pat on his big brother's arm, making Sam snicker louder. He walked off to talk to Sam and Spike. They were both smart and knew things he should probably learn sometime.
Don and Dean shook their heads, wearing 'big brother' looks. Only their siblings.
Ethan finally figured out how to dream walk and went to find Giles, finding him in a very precarious position. He found him sleepy but awake and the plane in the Void but whole. He found a warm spot in his mind and sat down, tapping his fingers until Ripper noticed him.
Giles felt sleepy, letting himself drift off. It felt like something magical was happening and he'd rather die asleep if they were going to die this time. He seemed to wake up but noticed they were in Ethan's old drawing room. He turned and found him on his usual settee, sipping some orange blossom tea and nibbling on a butter cookie. "Would you happen to know anything about this?" he demanded. His hands were already balling up.
Ethan smirked but shook his head. "Not a bit of personal knowledge. I know that the demons transported you to get more guardians off the plane. You're in the Void, Ripper."
"I had noticed that, yes," he said grimly. He sat down, staring at his former friend. "Why the visit, Ethan?"
"Because we can pull your plane out but we need things from three of the victims, at least, to be successful. The annoying brat you left behind gave me some of your blood the young chaos witch you're letting turn into me had stored plus some of your girl's hair." He smirked a bit. "We need more than that if you're going to end up in Cleveland helping that one stay closed."
"Sunnydale's gone?" he asked, clenching his hands together. His intestines squeezed in his stomach, creating that rock-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling.
"No, the boy took the vow to protect us all when you went down."
"Spike?" he asked.
"The other one, Ripper. The noble, human one who's presently still got magic poisoning and anger issues. Fortunately he is *very* good with flame spells since we're outnumbered on the hellmouth by about sixty to one at the moment."
Giles burst out laughing. "You're helping?"
Ethan vamped out and shrugged a bit, going back to his tea. He changed back to finish his cookie. He couldn't nibble cookies with his fangs out. "One of them attacked me when I came in because the boy offered me a chance to not die with everyone else on the planet. After all, only he was doing anything, Ripper." He put his tea cup down. He leaned forward a bit. "As of this moment, Sunnydale has been shut down. The boy has plugged the gap in the protection grid. He's a poor fit but most of the power is clogged up. He had the town evacuated when the death toll reached approximately four hundred percent your usual one. Including minions." Giles shuddered. "Since all the demons that could and weren't insane ran to LA to get away from the leaking pisshole, one of them turned the brother of an FBI agent who came up for information. We've went through him to padlock the town up as tightly as we could. It's only a few of us hunters and the highest or insane demons now."
"Who turned you?"
"One of the masters that had been in town started to eat me not long after I got there. Spike finished turning me. It's not too bad so far, even if Spike does try to claim my arse as you once did." He smirked a bit. "He's not nearly as good at it either." He poured him some tea, handing the cup over. "It's bad enough that Druscilla is helping Angel as a seer at the moment. The other circle of hunters has stepped in wonderfully to take care of Cleveland while your boy was busy trying not to die from his hubris and problems with jumping in where he doesn't really belong."
"He's always done that," Giles said. "That's only part of what makes him extraordinary."
"While that's true, he's still a medium. He'll never be able to leave the town. Even with the spacing we did earlier he won't be able to leave." Giles nodded, sipping his tea. "Now, we need things to get you free."
Giles looked at him. "Where's Willow and Tara?"
"Tara's with us as of tonight. My successor is in Miami with three young men your boy called the Evil Geek Trio?"
Giles shook his head quickly. "She's all right?"
"She's healing from the car accident that took her right after your plane was sent here." He waved a hand around. "You did flick the switches for autopilot in case the pilot doesn't wake up upon crossing back?"
"I did," he agreed. He took another drink to calm himself down so he could think. "How are we doing this?"
Ethan beamed. "Druscilla sent me instructions on how to dream walk. Spike had to translate them for me but they're apparently working very well."
Giles nodded once. "You do know that you're saying anything you say here out loud?"
"He knows. He's heard me say it before." He got up and pulled Ripper up, giving him a gentle kiss. "Banish it to me, Ripper. Sending it won't work but you can banish things from the void. I need at least three things to work and you know the rules."
"What will I owe you?"
"Ripper, love, the Watchers are in hiding," he said, looking highly amused. "They believe it's your fault for not killing the boy for jumping in."
"Someone jumping in was the time code. It's happened before."
"Travers doesn't think so and he's ordered everyone to stay in deep hiding. Including your successor, who was told he was to stay in LA and not help the boy. Fortunately he has compassion and the boy was wise enough to raid the store for books and things at first. Before the fire took it out." Giles winced. "Sorry, love. Your place was trashed."
"Most of my things were in storage because I was planning on moving," he admitted, looking at him. "What else do you get out of this?"
"Even Janus has a headache from the chaos partying without him," he said dryly. "He was not pleased that this was not by his will."
"Why did Xander call you?"
"No one else would answer. Someone had to do it. The same as someone had to take the guardian's vow and he's still a someone as he's told others."
Giles nodded, finishing his tea. "I'll gather what we need for you. I'll banish it to you. Will you work with Tara?"
"Of course. It'd be for the best anyway. We'll have to go to LA to do the spell but it's doable." He nodded. "We already worked together to add some space between your boy and his hellmouth. It was rather necessary. Was he always such a cocoa drinker? I never noticed that."
Giles gave him a sad look. "It's comfort, Ethan. The same as it is for us," he said gently. "He knows what's going to happen."
"We will prevail. I'm not dying yet," he said dryly, smirking a bit. "I'll be able to cause chaos for centuries this way." He faded out. "Banish it to me as soon as you can, Ripper. Get me a better sample from your girl as well. All I have of her is some broken hairs." He opened his eyes, finding Xander staring at him. "You're that upset?"
Xander stared for a second longer. "Think, Ethan. What would you have done if you were me?"
"Kissed my ass goodbye," he admitted, standing up. "He'll banish things to us."
"Good. How long will it take you?"
"A few days to prepare but we'll have to do it somewhere a bit less corrupted."
Xander nodded. "Wes said the magic doesn't hit CalSci. So try that side of LA or further on, Ethan. Go while we're in a lull. Spike and I can handle things." He nodded, going to gather what he needed. He went to check on the other hunters, finding Dean watching the backyard. "Hey."
"Hey." He looked at him. "You think you two can handle it by yourselves?"
"We were until Ethan got here and I was working then," he pointed out. "If I have to blow up this town to save the world, oh well anymore." That got a smirk and a nod. "Then again that might be fun." He smirked and got a laugh back. "You two should be out handling the other stuff. Before you get too tainted and start feeling sick because you're leaving the taint behind."
"We'll head tomorrow night," he promised. Xander nodded, going to lay down for a bit. Dean went back to watching the backyard. He knew Xander was slowly dying from taking the vow. It was fairly clear to him. He had lost a few pounds since they had gotten there. The magic was slowly driving him insane as well. They'd help him hold off as long as he could but the end was inevitable. He hoped he could hold on long enough to take the hellmouth with him but it might fall to someone else to take it out.
Sam walked up behind his brother, standing next to him. "He'll survive it." Dean gave him a look then shook his head. He nodded. "He will."
Sam shook his head. "I don't have to have one. He'll survive all this. We might not but he will. The power will protect him."
Dean shook his head. "It's what's killing him," he said quietly.
Sam shook his head. "He'll be fine, Dean. Now, which way are we heading?"
"LA to drop them off, check on that Wesley guy for Bobby, then back to Bobby's to get a new assignment. He's the only one keeping track of everything so he'll know where we're needed." He watched Ethan come in to get some blood. "When you get that Giles guy and the slayer back, are they coming here?"
Ethan shook his head. "Cleveland. It's still populated and they'll need her there. Xander will be able to hold this area for a while yet." He looked at Sam. "He's right."
Sam shook his head. "People have said that about him before and he has. I'm fairly certain I'm right. Dru was too by what the last paragraph Spike translated said." Ethan gaped then went to reread it. He grinned at his brother. "Tomorrow?"
"About dark, yeah. That way we can help him set up whatever he'll need tomorrow." That got a nod. "Go to bed, dickhead."
"You too," Sam ordered. He climbed up into the attic, going back to his sleeping bag. They'd be running into Xander again once they left.
Dean went back to his guarding and watching. His head was aching from all the magic floating around. His instincts were telling him this place wasn't secure anymore. They hadn't seen any demons though.
Xander came out to look over his shoulder. "They're under us in the sewer," he said quietly. "They still can't get up here. Ethan warded the ground too." He clapped him on the back. "Don't worry about it, Dean. Head off whenever you guys get up tomorrow." He got himself a sandwich and went back to bed.
Dean shook his head. "Too many mind-readers," he muttered.
Willow looked up from her reading when someone tapped on her door. "What?" she called, carefully getting up to answer it. She smiled at Warren. "Going out trolling?"
"Yeah," he said with a goofy grin. "We're all heading out. Want to come with us?"
"I'm still in a lot of pain," she reminded him.
He snorted. "Like you can't do a pain divergence," he said dryly, giving her a look. "You *could* but you're scared. Not like you'll cheat on your girl, Willow."
"I know that. She wants me to cut back."
"On what? Caffeine?"
"Magic," she said impatiently.
He snickers. "Yeah, and I *so* believe you're going to do that. I'm sorry she and reality have had a schism, but yay us. We're in Miami and we've all been benched for this battle. Now, you coming or not?"
Willow sighed, going to change clothes in the bathroom, coming out redressed and her hair put up better. "Good enough?"
"Probably not. You look cute though." He let her lock her door before walking her down to the van. Xander had made it very clear they were guarding Willow to keep her as a backup in case he needed her. They all were. "Here she is."
Andrew grinned. "Come on. We'll go out and have some fun while we wait on the next level of apocalypse. Maybe we'll find some cute girls and all drool. You can even teach us better pickup lines."
"I don't pick up people," she said, getting into the back of the van with them.
"Never?" Andrew asked. Warren walked around to drive. It was his turn.
"No. I met Tara at a campus Wiccan meeting with a bunch of 'pure energy' posers." She smirked at him. "We slowly snuck into it. Sorry."
"Shoot. Can you at least point out the skanky hos for us?" Jonathan asked. "That way we might find the easy chicks that hit on Xander?"
"You do know that he draws evil women?" she asked dryly.
He shrugged. "As long as they don't kill me tonight why would I care?"
She shook her head quickly. "Find one that dresses like Buffy when she's baiting vamps at the Bronze. They're usually easy." They smiled at her and Warren backed out, taking them to a club he had found the other night. She looked then at him, reaching up to smack him on the arm. "Not a vampire club! I don't want to be turned. Spike might hit on me."
"He's got an Ethan snuggly," Jonathan said smugly.
She gave him a horrified look. "He turned Ethan Rayne? The chaos guy?"
"Someone started it and he finished it," Warren agreed. "Plus I heard from a person in LA that the loony girl he used to be seen with, Dru, she was in LA helping your buddy Angel."
She whimpered, putting her face in her hands. "The world's going to hell," she moaned.
"No, you've still got Xander linked to the hellmouth and killing demons," Andrew said cheerfully, grinning at her. "With Spike."
She looked at him. "Don't remind me!"
"Angel's people said he's been using a lot of flame spells," Warren called back. "Salsa or regular club, guys?"
"Regular, please," Willow said. "I'm not in the mood to be hit on by Latino guys who think lesbians are strange or need sex with them to cure them." They nodded, Warren driving them to somewhere that looked okay and had a short line to get in. She looked at Jonathan and Andrew. "Please tell me you're kidding?"
"Tara told you all that, or so we were told," Andrew told her.
She nodded. "Doesn't mean it sunk in. I still have a headache from the crash."
He snickered. "We'll fix it. Thankfully Ethan told us to stay at our hotel because it's shielded so we wouldn't have to protect you as often."
She nodded once then hopped out once the van was parked, going to get into line. The guys caught up. The bouncer gave them odd looks. "We're from near LA," she said with a grin. "In town on vacation."
He looked them over then pointed at some of the other girls. "We like the slutty ones here. Not lesbians, miss."
Willow huffed then looked around before walking around the corner and coming back wearing a lot less that was a lot tighter. He nodded and let them in. "Thank you." She went to find a good spot to watch the floor and the boys. Because she felt like the babysitter. The glamour of smutty clothes was enough to unnerve her so she wasn't about to get down and funky on the floor with them and their hos of choice.
Giles woke up and blinked at his slayer, the only one he had kept awake on the plane. "I know what we need to do."
"A Holiday Inn Express nap?" she asked hopefully.
He gave her a look. "Not exactly. Dream walking is a new talent to Ethan, taught to him by his grandsire, Druscilla." Buffy gaped, then suddenly sat down, starting to giggle. "Indeed. He can pull us back if he has samples for him to use as a focusing device."
"Xander had to find him."
"Why can't Wills?" she demanded, standing up again. She put her hands on her hips, staring at him. "She's more powerful anyway, especially if she does the channeling thing for the hellmouth."
He gave her a look. "She's just out of the hospital after a car crash, Buffy. The same ones that sent us *here* got her." She went pale. "He didn't say but I'm assuming Tara's all right since she's back helping Xander. We'll be needed to help in Cleveland with another, smaller, hellmouth that's not got a guardian either."
"Hold on, *Xander* is doing stuff?" she demanded.
He gave her a long look then nodded. "If you hadn't prevented me from hearing about it sooner, perhaps Sunnydale wouldn't be evacuated and they wouldn't be dealing with only the most psychotic of demons out there. Ones that make Druscilla look sane and like she's playing with Clem's kittens." She shuddered. "Nor would he have taken a Watcher's vow and now be eternally tied to that blasted hole in the ground. Unable to leave it without it killing him."
She wilted. "I thought he was making a problem out of nothing," she said weakly. "The other Watchers thought so."
"Travers thinks that them jumping in was the reason as well," he said bluntly. "That's why they're all hiding and leaving Xander and the other hunters' network to deal with it for them. I'm quite sure the other hunters are going to have a few words with them when they find the Council. Now, grab me something so I can gather some blood and other things." She went to scavenge the first aid box and the kitchette area. She came back with a few smaller cups for mixed drinks and a few other things. "Thank you." He took the small razor blade and looked at it. "Get me a lighter as well please?"
"Isn't that dangerous?"
"It's less dangerous than giving someone something from another passenger's blood."
She nodded, patting down someone she had smelled cigarettes on until she found a pack of matches. "No lighter. New transportation rules."
"Thank you." He sterilized it with the first match and used the razor to make a shallow cut. The blood was gathered into a cup and sealed with the plastic wrap. He wrapped the small injury and they moved onto another one. This time a nun. She was pure and it would make an easier focus for Ethan. The blade was cleaned then used. When she was bandaged he got his and Buffy's drawn, then took one from the pilot. He checked the panel to make sure the 'autopilot on' switch was still flipped to 'on', all of them. Then he sat in the kitchenette area to banish the samples to Ethan's present location. He only hoped they got there in one piece.
Buffy gave him a hug. "They would've gotten us anyway, Giles. They wanted us out of the way for a reason."
"Yes, the less guardians, the worse the apocalypse and the better chance they have of winning," he agreed. He looked at her. "We will persevere and we will win yet again," he assured her, seeing she needed it. "We'll handle whatever is going on in Cleveland then check on Xander and Tara, plus Spike and Willow, who's down in Miami with the evil geek trio."
"Andrew and them? I guess they'll be able to protect her and she'll make sure they're not taking advantage of this stuff." She got up. "We should hit our seats, just in case it's soon." He nodded, making sure everything looked like it should then they went back to their seats. The Void was a pretty blue/gray color that seemed to shift around them but there wasn't anything to really watch out the windows so she put down her shade. He gave her a gentle smile and squeezed her hand. "I know. We'll get out of this. I'm Buffy and I know we will because I'm the best slayer to date," she said. He nodded, leaving her with that thought. She'd need the cheer until they got back to Earth.
Ethan lunged, catching the plate, barely, before it landed. He smiled at the small cups of blood samples. "Excellent. Tara?" She came out of the library of Angel's hotel, smiling at the blood cups. "We can do this now." She nodded. "We must make some preparations."
"Don?" she called. "Charlie?" One was around somewhere. Charlie came out of the kitchen area sipping a milkshake. "We're going to try to summon back the plane."
"Slight flaw. What do we tell the NTSA and them? They'll want an answer."
Tara frowned. Then she smirked. "You tell them that the answer lies in Captain Riley Finn. He's on special assignment with the UN and it's classified until he can provide an answer. The whole disappearance and everything was something he knows about and can answer any questions about. Then you get the people off the plane, get them checked at the ER, get Buffy and Giles to Cleveland, and walk away before more nosy people show up."
He snickered. "I'll let Don know you said to do that." He went to call him, leaning against the old check-in desk. "Hi, Don. They're ready to try. Repeat it this way: the plane's disappearance and reemergence are not to be discussed until a Captain Riley Finn, on special assignment to the UN, gives you clearance to talk about it. He knows the cause and can classify it appropriately. Until then, BS it and stall. Get the people to the ER, leave instructions that Mr. Giles and Miss Summers are to be escorted to Cleveland immediately and not questioned. If they ask, tell them it had something to do with Sunnydale and see who knows what they used to do." He took another draw from his straw. "Milkshake. Because I wanted a milkshake. Of course I can. It's good too. I can taste all sorts of flavors I didn't before. Yeah, him. Thanks, Don. They're going to try now, once you give them some warning." He hung up and nodded at Tara. "Give him thirty to warn someone it might happen today." She nodded, going to take a shower. Ethan went to do the same thing while he guarded the blood samples. He sniffed one and nearly swooned. "What is that?"
"Slayer's blood," Angel said from his office doorway. "It's one of the strongest draws we all have and it can cure nearly any illness we have." Charlie looked at him. "She'll still stake you if you mess up the summoning back and they're stuck." He nodded, just sniffing. He came over to check. "Five, that's a good average for the size of most flights."
Charlie pointed. "That one smells like holy water."
He sniffed then nodded. "Nun's blood." He put it down and let Ethan have his spot, pulling Charlie back. "Out of the way." He handed Ethan some chalk. "Do whatever you need out here, Rayne." He led Charlie back to watch over them. Gunn came out of the kitchen with his own milkshake. "Let them work." He nodded, setting himself in front of the door so they could keep watch. Just in case a demon wanted this to not go off.
Tara centered herself and did the formal circle ritual so they'd be protected. Willow appeared, giving her a look. She let her inside and they closed the circle together, settling in to work on the spell to summon back the stupid plane and its passengers.
Somewhere in DC, an air traffic controller suddenly leaned closer to his scope. "Sir, I have a plane that just appeared out of nowhere in the middle of my screen!" he shouted. He radioed, getting a sleepy response. "Unidentified aircraft, state your call numbers and identify yourself. You are within DC's city limits. Do so or we will be forced to send for military support," he ordered while his boss and a few others came over to check. The answer he got back made his boss gasp. "Repeat that please?" He listened then nodded, the console had updated to show the same call letters. "All right, for now I want you to land at Regan. We're going to route you to an outer airstrip. Follow exactly or else." He found the sheet he needed when his boss handed him the book of standard procedures. His boss went to call someone while he radioed precise instructions. They all watched as the pilot followed them once he had reported his autopilot was off. They blinked as it touched down prettily, like normal. FBI agents and a carrier for the passengers was sent out. They were offloaded and they all relaxed when the plane being pulled past a while later, after being cleared for bombs and things, was the one that had went missing nearly a month earlier.
Buffy looked at the guy questioning her. "How should I know? I was asleep," she lied. Giles had told her to. "I was just coming back from London with my mentor, Mr. Giles. He's British and my mom said it'd do me good to do some traveling. Since he had to see his native people and all that, I went to shop." She flicked a hand in the air in a classic 'what do I know, I'm a bimbo' move.
An agent stomped over. "Miss Summers?" She looked at him and nodded. "Where's Mr. Giles?" She looked then pointed. "Both of you are to come with me." He looked at the junior agent. "This whole debacle is classified until Captain Riley Finn is here. He's in charge of things like this. He'll explain it to us and the press. For now, stall." He walked her off, looking down at the tiny blonde woman. "You're a what, ma'am?"
"Not that old," she quipped, smiling at him. "What's the what?"
"Miss Summers," he said, grabbing Mr. Giles to walk them both off to a more secure location. "I'm one of the few people in this town who knows what Mr. Finn does for our country. I want to know what the hell happened," he ordered calmly.
"Demons," Buffy said. "They pulled us into the void so there wouldn't be as many guardians. That's why Sunnydale's been cleared? Or so someone dream walking said?" He nodded at that. "We're supposed to head to Cleveland to handle that area."
"Agreed. That's what I was ordered as well. We'll get your bags and send you there immediately."
"Can we.... go by train?" she asked. "I'm not sure I want to fly ever again." He nodded once, going to arrange that. She looked at Giles. "Who told them?"
He looked at her. Then he shrugged. "Who knows."
The agent came back with their bags, handing them over. "We'll get you a ride to the train station. Do you need medical attention before then?" They shook their heads. "Then let's get you on the one that leaves tonight, people."
"How did you know about Riley?"
"We put some of them away, Miss Summers."
"Oh. So who gave the story?"
"It came from an agent in the LA field office of the FBI. He got it from Mr. Harris and them." They both smirked and nodded once. "He's in deep trouble but the agent's team has been helping when they can. They're the ones who had to get the quarantine started of your former residence."
"Any idea where my mother is?"
"He might. You can call him on the train, young lady." He snuck them out, taking them to a waiting car, getting in with them. "Now, what is going on?"
Giles sighed and pulled out the notes he had been making once he had learned what had truly happened. He knew of the prophecy. He had been on the research council for years before being appointed to Buffy's backside. "We believe this prophecy has been enacted. It happens every now and then, as noted by someone jumping into her fight and making the slayer more effective," he said as the car pulled away from the curb. "That's the only time code we have. I had forgotten and I refused to harm the ones who jumped in to help Buffy in her struggle. If I'm right, they were taking out those of us who took guardian oaths for those places that hold power." He nodded at that, handing over a folder. "From?"
"The same agent's little brother, who is a math geek and whiz. He consults with the NSA and things. He got it from your kind out there to figure out dates and things."
Giles smiled. "Thank him for us. We'll be calling for a meeting by phone later." She leaned over his shoulder to look at it. "The diagram's changed. Wesley had it changed to fit in with what a woman's artform would've looked like back then." He went over what they had, handing over both sheets of the prophecy. "We're down to the pink highlighted section on the second one I believe." He went back over what was going on, finding a number on the back cover for him to call. He found Buffy's cellphone in her purse and dialed immediately. "Hello, this is Rupert Giles. I was told to call here when we finally made it out of the Void?" He listened then nodded. "We're on our way to the train station now, sir. We'll be there by tomorrow morning. From DC, correct. Please do, then we can take over the duties for you so you can handle the other matters that must be driving everyone slightly off. Thank you for that courtesy. We'll see you then." He hung up and handed her back the phone. "The other network of hunters, like Wesley joined, have been handling Cleveland and Niagra Falls." He looked at him, then pointed at the figure. "The red dots are highly concentrated power points, like in Sunnydale." He pointed to that dot. "Cleveland, Niagra Falls, just behind one of the falls. Gibralter. Just over the Chinese border with India. Sapporo, Japan." That got a nod. "The Chinese one is never guarded, their army won't allow it."
"They're paranoid. They won't even allow mystics there," Giles told him. "We've lost at least six people trying to get a guardian near there." That got a nod. "Niagra's had one. Travers was looking for him before we left. The one in Costa Rica, the other wrist, was a field watcher over another slayer. The one in Gibralter we know died last year. The one in Sapporo was supposedly still covered."
"I'm sure your people have that," he said, handing back the sheets. "Will we need to evacuate Cleveland?"
Giles smiled, shaking his head a bit. "I'm one who's taken the oath, young man. It will close once I'm there and in contact with it." He relaxed and smiled, nodding a bit. "Thank you for your help."
"Not an issue. We'd hate for the world to end on our watch, sir." They pulled into the train station and he got out, walking them down there to get them tickets and get them settled. "Have a less eventful trip this time, people." He walked off to report to the head cheese, who was not a happy camper in the least. At least Finn would be having some fun getting chewed on this time instead of a normal agent.
Giles bought Buffy some lunch and they sat down to go over what they had, including calling Wesley. Xander would've went to him for research support since Willow was in the hospital.