The Adventure of the Freckled Man...

 
 


Rated PG

Suggested theme- the Adventure of the Freckled Man (Pink Panther) theme

Buffy Rebecca and "Dr." Walthrop make use of their sleuthing skills as well
as their other "unique" abilities while continuing their honeymoon/sales trip
in Europe...

Part I

"...we are not shy...The Moon and I..." Buffy Rebecca sang...From
"The Mikado"...

The Sun Whose Rays...(go to the midi link, minimize this page once music starts)

After all, as long as Warren and Spike had given her musical ability...

And she was in a singing mood...

And "The Mikado" was a favorite of her hubs...Who had been a great
Gilbert and Sullivan fan in his day...the1850-80s...Even after his transformation...

And, of course Yum-yum's song was the one only she knew of that actually contained
the word "effulgent"...which naturally rather pleased William, it having
once been his favorite poetic adjective...

***
Surely there was reason to sing...

Sis...original Buffy...restored and back in form...Triumphantly...

A new human Slayer, Basey Granger, to assist her as well...A fourth sister counting
Willow...One who it seemed might well provide their dear Watcher with the
companionship he so eminently deserved...

And speaking of dear Willow...Saved from death and vampire transformation...Not to
mention employment by Wolfram-Hart...

Her hubs' quest a success...Human Drusilla at last released...Demon Dru returned to Hell...

Both Walthrops saved from the destruction Dru had planned for them...

Darla restrained and left to Angel...Much as she and Sis might want to deal with their
father Hank's other murderer themselves...

Every day Walthrop moving back towards humanity...Why, if they worked up the nerve
and things all checked out, they could even look forward to having children in due time
thanks to dear old bionetics...dear old Warren...And dear Sis...

And she had learned some valuable lessons...

Three times stronger than the original Buffy she might be but she was not invincible...
And it was time to nip any developing "Greatest Slayer of All Time" arrogance
in the bud...

If she wanted to stay with William...For as long as possible...

Eternity was not forgiving to the foolish and the arrogant...Dru had taught her that at least...

But she... And her beloved...had survived the lesson...

Best of all, the honeymoon was still in full swing, despite the necessary interruptions...

All very much reason to sing...
***

As for the eminent "cybergenius", "Dr." William Walthrop...

Well...singing would hardly cover it...

A soul, brutally cursed for no sane or just reason...granted salvation...At last, after a
century of torment...

Allowed to give peace to one who had suffered even more than he...

And granted salvation in the form of a loving Buffy Rebecca...

No, there was nothing to cover or express what he felt...

But listening to his wife sing was a start...
***

They had moved on to the town of Little Wopping on the Tweed on the Scots/English
border after Spike had recovered from his bout of neurosurgery to restore the function
of his electronic conscience, the chip placed in his head by the Initiative, disabled
temporarily by the agents of Wolfram-Hart as part of their alliance with Dru...

The device which had allowed William Walthrop his chance to break loose from his
limbo prison and, with the love of Buffy Rebecca supporting him...and restraining his
equally love-lorn demon, gradually regain the upper hand in the strange mix of demon
and soul that was William the Bloody...

Scotland...Land of moors, kilts, Sean Connery...And a burgeoning tech and biotech
powerhouse...Just the place for the junior partner of W/S Bionetics to begin demonstrating
his sales abilities...

With the Missus to provide the necessary nuts and bolts via her faithful supplemental
memory...Not to mention a unique demonstration of the capabilities of their products...

A sales presentation had been scheduled in Glasgow...Two days from today...

She was nervous but looking forward to it...And pleased that "Dr." Walthrop
had not hesitated to describe her as his partner...

She'd been a little afraid he might have asked her to play hostess...Pouring coffee...
The little woman lending a hand...And sneaking info to him at discrete intervals...

Which would have raised some issues...On the one hand, newly reclaimed Victorian gent
struggling to make good...One must make allowances, let him get acclimated to living as a
human...well, near-human in the modern world...And Warren...dear 'dad' would be counting
on them...

On the other hand...She would then have to smack the smug little pig into next year as
soon as they were safely away...And drag him to a number of consciousness-raising
groups...

In the interest of saving their marriage of course...

But...As she had expected, she told herself...Walthrop had come through...Without
prompting...Or threats...

Drew up the presentation with her...With her to give half...Arranged a caterer to handle
the mundane details...

Good man...A stout fellow as they would have said in his time...

Hmmn...

He didn't have any doubts about her as a hostess did he?...

***

Suggested themes...Scots Reel; Bonnie Doon

A beautiful place they were staying at...A converted castle an hour and a half from
Glasgow...Dark with mystery and romance...With wind blowing along the battlements at
night...Raising a mournful howl calling out towards the moors and heath...

Beautiful...

But maybe a cheery, crowded little inn for the next stop...She felt she'd had enough dark
and mystery, no offense...
***

All-in-all married life was treating them very well, considering the obstacles...

Of course there were little problems...A few punk Eurovamps, looking to win points
against the famed Slayer had showed up along the way since the word got out about
Dru's destruction and the latest blow to Wolfram-Hart...

Not much to worry about there...She'd let Walthrop have a few...Just to keep his edge up...

And of course...some little things cropping up...As they settled down and got a taste of what
everyday life would be like...

Spike the demon occasionally grousing from his chip-enclosed prison, wanting to have a
little fun...more violence, please...Popping in at inappropriate moments to offer his
comments on everything including their sex life...

Walthrop's fits of remorse-induced depression...Could he ever be sure that his soul was
truly free?...And he had saddled her, his dear wife, with immortality...No problem, honey, she
insisted... But would his...Spike's, BR gently insisted...crimes haunt, even curse them?...

Her own concerns about her future career...hopefully in Child Psychology, likely to be pre-
empted by her Slaying duties plus her new self-imposed status as Slayer protector...She
knew Giles and the gang would be counting on her to give Buffy and Basey the chance
to reach healthy old age...And if she added "Mom" to the list...

And about him...Was she selfishly endangering his soul by keeping him here, risking
Spike's return to full control one day?...Or was it truly necessary that he stay?...Help
her in the fight against evil and to protect human Slayers...Should she release Walthrop
from Spike and hope to find him again later?...Even though he assured her he loved
being with her and would willingly take the risk to go on doing so...

And the personal adjustments...She snored something awful...He had hideous nightmares
...She had to occasionally sleep in her skin and tissue regeneration biotank...He drank
blood, though now strictly from her own artificial supply and discretely...She had the
sex drive of three Slayers...He was used to sleeping during the day...She left the
bathroom looking like a pigsty...He left the toilet seat up...She loved cooking for them,
but did it badly...Decades of experience left him annoyingly good at doing housework...
Without complaint and better than she could...He was easygoing about finances...
She was no longer...She claimed to hate procrastination...It was his middle name
and he was not above twiting her about all the times she...She liked "Ally
McBeal"...He thought Ms. McBeal a whining twit...He loved "Passions"
...She thought it the most ridiculous thing she ever seen...He loved poetry...She, well...
She liked some of his...Her career goal was Child Psychology...He, as a man of hard
Science, raised in the Rationalist nineteenth century thought Psychology a crock...

At least their interest in music and cybernetics was mutual...

Nothing they couldn't handle...

***
She checked them both out...Clothes professionally stylish...Hair good...BO minimal...
Teeth brushed...(She double-checked Spike's for blood traces...ok)

Yeah...Not too shabby...she noted, swinging him round in his suit...

Really?...he grinned...

Het-hum...HET-HUM...She glared...

Oh..."You look smashing, dearest..." he grinned at her...

Uh-uh...

Watchers' Council-supplied phony credentials in order...

Ok...Out to the rental...

She grinned at him...He winked at her...In some ways the greatest adventure of
the Slayer and William the Bloody to date...

Trying to Succeed in Business...Without Really Knowing Anything...

They headed into Glasgow for their presentation...Before one of the European Union's
largest conglomerates...

Warren's reputation had preceded them...As had his junior partner's...Even if there had
been nothing done by said partner to merit such a reputation...

"Dr." Walthrop radiated confidence...Which BR hoped was justified...

Could he even spell "cybernetics"?

He had an ace in the hole, he assured her...

She nervously checked to see that her "cybergenius" had remembered to
tightly secure his daylight ring on his finger...A gift from Willow and Wesley allowing
him...And Angel with one made from the same crystal...To go out in daylight...

It wouldn't do for it to fly off when he flailed his arms around trying to give his speech
emphasis...

God, she hated that thing...Much as she enjoyed traveling in daytime with him...

And pleasant as it was to see him happily strolling...

Sooner or later, out the door he'd go...Into the sunlight...Ring still on their bedside table...

What had Willow been thinking of letting him have it?...

***

Attendance was excellent...The audience interested...And very professional...

The good doctor opened well, she had to admit...

But of course the intro was mostly bold pronouncements of the glorious future of
bionetics with few details...

She took over after his introduction...
And managed fairly well to give some basics of the systems...Thank God for her
good old supplemental memory...

Back to the good doctor...Who was now to give a demonstration of what they had
to offer...
***
Spike now sprang his little surprise...

"Ladies and gentlemen, my wife is using our limbs right now...She is equipped
with four bionetic limbs..."

She stared at him...Blinking...

The audience members for their part were properly startled...The lovely Mrs. Walthrop
...A quadraplegic?...

And so mobile...You'd never guess...

Ummn...The lovely...the gallant...Mrs. Walthrop was as startled as their guests...

She wasn't a hostess that's for sure...BR realized...

She was the demo...

Partner, eh...

The little...

***
As the clients came up to inspect her...Like a prized bull, she groaned inwardly...

She was ready to swat her "cybergenius" into next year...

And their praise of her courage and amazing attitude didn't help...

Treating her like this year's poster child for some disease...

And him counting on it...

***
However...She felt she owed it to dear 'Dad' Warren to make the meeting a success...

And it wasn't a lie per se...She was using bionetic limbs...In fact...

She was 100% bionetic...

***
After seeing the magnetically sealed access ports on her legs...Provided by Warren
for inspection and repair...opened and some of her limb systems exposed...The
group was properly impressed and offered a generous contract for the European
market...

She smiled sweetly at her beaming husband...Who knew he was dead, but after all
...Was already in that condition...

She'd be ok with it when they had a chance to talk things over, he was sure of it...

After all...They had eternity...

And it wasn't as bad as say...One of his or Angelis' massacres...
***

One of the last to leave presented himself

Dr. Salcome Vitachi...Count Dr. Salcome Vitachi...

Tall, distinguished, with iron-gray, thick hair...Rather like Burt Lancaster...

So impressed by the gallant young Ms. Summers-Walthrop...

A credit to American courage...An inspiration to the disabled around the world...

She smiled...With the image of Spike suspended from chains in Dru's torture cell
to sustain her...

She was sure she could reconstruct the chamber from her supplemental memory
when they got back to the US...

As honeymooners they would no doubt be travelling to glorious Italy, the count noted...

They must come to Florence...And pay him a call during their stay...

He hung around until long after the last of the others had left...BR managing to be
polite though his stream of compliments...

After all, it wasn't like he was playing up to some movie star or millionairess...

From his pov, she was a brave disabled little nobody...

"Maybe he's into women missing limbs..." Spike helpfully noted to her
after her admirer had left...

***
She was quiet on the drive back to their castle inn...

Very quiet...
"Dr. " Walthrop did his valiant best to maintain conversation...Despite
his nervousness...

Natural as she was driving...Grimly...At what was approaching 100 miles per hour...

After all...He clearly liked to live dangerously...she noted... ***

But fortunately for the good doctor, events took a sudden turn when they got to the
town near their inn...As evening was falling...

A man lay in the main street of the small town...Had just been found there moments
ago by a couple of good townspeople...Or dimwitted louts, as Spike preferred to call them...

His face and body were badly cut up...But he was not bleeding...There was no blood
left to bleed...

All the blood seemed to have been drained from him somehow...yet his face remained a
fairly healthy shade...With distinctive freckles on the cheeks...

BR examined him...No visible bite scars...

Ummn...Darling...Spike thought...Ummn...Vampire husband...Isolated hamlet, peopled by
superstitious, ignorant idiots...Calling attention to ourselves after a local victim has been
blood-drained...

"Your missus a doctor, sir?..." a largish lout quizzed him...

"Psychologist...But she has lots of medical aid training..." Dr. Walthrop told
him brightly...

"Don't think 'e'll be needin' a shrink..." another youthful moron noted...
"Nor no first-aid neither..."

"I don't suppose there's a hospital nearby?...A doctor?..." Walthrop asked
...As BR continued her exam, much to the louts' amusement...

"Nearest hospital's in Glasgow...Don't think 'e'll be making it...Heh, heh..." the
younger fool chuckled... "The doc here's out to Mrs. Patty's with the sick cow...Won't
be back till night..."

Ah, good old rural Great Britain...I've missed it so...thought Walthrop...

***
A tall, severely-dressed woman with grayish hair, a little over 40 came forward through the
group...With an air of authority...And the faint glimmerings of an intellect, Spike noted...

"We should get in touch with the local constabulary..." Spike told the woman...

No need, she informed him...

She was the local constabulary...

Rigg...Inspector Anna Rigg...

***
BR looked up at them from the corpse...

Walthrop was getting more nervous by the minute...Dear, much as I admire your lack of
squeamishness...Rural types here...Could you possibly feign a little "helpless little
woman"...Keep them from deciding to start waving garlic in our faces...

"Did anyone see what happened?..." BR asked them...

***
Eddie the young lout claimed to have seen all...

The man had sauntered into town, stopped at the Winsel factory gate, continued on...Then
suddenly collapsed...

Stopped at the gate?...

Yes, miss...

She looked at the inspector who seemed a bit miffed at her interrogative work...And asked
her to take charge of the body...

"Come on Spike..." she pulled him along...

"The inn is that way..." he pointed helplessly...

She glared at him...The louts catching her look...

Pretty little wife but I'd bet she makes him dance a tune...

"I want to see that factory...and the gate..."

They reached the gate of the Winset factory...Iron products, tools, nails...

A guard's booth was occupied...About four or five feet from the gate...

BR spoke briefly to the guard, then examined the ground by the gate...

The grass there was mashed down...Over a considered area...
A body-sized area...

She frowned...

Walthrop looked at her...What was she doing?...

"Dinner, sweetheart?..."

That usually got her...No matter how angry she might be with him...

BR loved to eat...

She nodded but...continued to observe the factory grounds as they walked back towards
their inn...

And the group of louts who had followed them over from the dead man's current resting
place...

***
Something strange was up she told him at dinner...

Nobody's blood just "disappears"...And that man had done more than stop at
the factory...He must have collapsed...possibly for a while...in that grassy field by the
gate...To get it so mashed down...

"And then there was the curious affair of the watchguard..." BR looked at Spike
rather archly...

"The guard? But he didn't see anything..."

BR grinned at him...

Oh...He got it...

If she starts saying "Elementary..." I'm going to smack her little robotic bottom,
whether she lays me up for a week or not...he thought...

***
The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part II

***
In spite of his annoyance at BR's newfound determination to play detective...No doubt
once again interrupting their honeymooning...Walthrop was intrigued...A mystery...An
British (Scot/English border) country village mystery...Complete with castle, dim-witted
louts of villagers, insufferable, insular police...Where he, for once, was not the hideous
object of the hunt...But more important...

Something to get her mind off his little game at the sales meeting that morning...
***
However she had not forgotten or forgiven that little stunt...

Making her the bionetics poster girl...

Letting those people think she was some poor disabled type...Suffering until the
"cybergeniuses" of W/S Bionetics had shown up on her doorstep...Or
worse yet, the tragically maimed wife, saved by the dedication of her loving
husband...All those long weary hours of work nobly spent in order to ....

Build himself a sexbot...

But he'd never said she'd been disabled...For any length of time...The good folks had
merely jumped to the conclusion...

And where would she be without bionetics, after all?...

"What would Warren say?..."

Probably that he was amazed things had gone so well...Spike noted happily...Warren, his
good buddy and partner who'd designed BR and her amazing artificial human brain for
him, had a fairly easygoing attitude on such things...

She frowned...Well...

"What would Giles say?..."

She had him there...But, when Giles saw the size of the contract...And realized what it would
mean for Buffy's and Dawn's future security...

And soon to wed Xander's and Anya's...Willow's and Tara's...Giles' and Basey's...Even a
certain little hard-pressed investigative firm in LA would benefit...

Hmmn...

Well...She was using bionetics...

But he might have told her what he had had in mind...Asked her about it...Given her a
chance to prepare...Asked her...Allowed her a chance to tone down the pathos...Asked her...

True it hardly compared to his past "escapades"...But still...

He was retreating back into the same territory as when he had selfishly copied Sis' mind
without her knowledge to create her, BR noted...

She was...Disappointed...

Not enough to cancel the contract of course...But...

Walthrop grabbed at the brief pause...

So...About these mysterious goings-on...What had she come up with?...

He had just had a brilliant insight himself...How about this?...

The strange dead man was not a man at all...

In fact...He paused...

"He was a robot, of course..." Buffy Rebecca noted, looking at him...

He'd taken this long to reach that conclusion?...

***
Oh...

"Well, you examined him of course..." Spike noted...

"Nothing about him except the missing blood to suggest him not being
human..." she told him...

He'd of had to be dissected in order to tell on exam...A good job, whoever had
made him...

Oh...Then...How'd she?...

"Just the logical conclusion...A demon, even a vamp demon, or any underworld
creature...would bleed...something..." she grinned...It was on the tip of her tongue
to say it, he knew...

Well, not a mummy...he told her smugly...That wouldn't bleed...Had she considered that?...

She folded her arms, looking at him...

"Spike...Did he look like a mummy?..."

Inspector Rigg interrupted them rather abruptly...The examination of the corpse had
turned up something rather...She required their attendance at police headquarters
in town...There were questions to be answered...

"We simply stopped to look at him..." Spike insisted... "I don't think
we could help you..."

"We'd be happy to come by..." BR noted sweetly...With a smile for her hubs...
The inspector noted grimly that Ms. Summers-Walthrop misunderstood...She was not
requesting their assistance...She wanted their presence at the station to answer
questions...Immediately...

"Did you disassemble that robot yet?..." Spike asked brightly...

The inspector looked at him rather suspiciously...How did he?...

"Elementary..." he smiled at BR...

***

BR was now rather annoyed at the inspector's attitude...And at being interrupted in
the middle of her dinner...

Walthrop however was rather pleased to have her annoyance diverted to someone
else...

The inspector transported them over in her car...

***

Typical, Spike thought...Strange events in a small isolated community...new, unfamiliar
people...Solution...

Arrest or lynch the said new, unfamiliar people...

Nothing ever changes that much...He and Dru had had the same trouble in Prague
years ago...

Of course they actually had been the cause of the strange events then...

***

The freckled man lay locked in a cell...His chest had been opened...

Rather, smashed open...Spike noted...

To expose a number of electro-mechanical components...None of which Spike...
and secretly his Missus...proudly noted, compared with Warren's handiwork...

Not a bad little exterior job BR thought, reasonably convincing...But not even a poor
copy of an April, really, where it mattered...

And now that she looked at him again...The face was good...passable in the evening
...but the freckles...Looked fake...A strange touch...

***
Inspector Rigg led them to a table and chairs...A couple of fellow officers stood nearby...

The inspector was curious...Why had Ms. Summers-Walthrop been examining the
body?...And why they did feel compelled to run over to the factory and question the guard?...

BR smiled a bright American blonde smile...She just saw the crowd, the body, and
naturally wanted to help...And then, well...She just loved a mystery...

And, how had they known the man was not a man?...

Spike pointed out that it not being a man...This was hardly a serious matter...No man, no
murder...Why was it necessary to detain them?...

As a naturalized American citizen...Phony papers courtesy Giles and the Council... The
distinguished "Dr." Walthrop was a stickler for the legal niceties...

Inspector Rigg regarded him severely...The device was someone's property...Furthermore,
leaving it in that way had caused a serious disturbance to the town's people...Finally...

"A murder has been committed..."

***
Eddie...The younger lout who'd "seen everything"...Found stabbed in an
alleyway just half an hour after talking to the Walthrops...

Hmmn...one less slack-jawed idiot waiting to father more like himself, beat the wife
and kiddies into stupor, then croak from drink...Spike thought...Still, the Missus would
have wanted to question him again...

"Poor fellow..." he nodded sympathetically to the inspector...

Obviously the young moron had been concealing something or simply lying to impress
his fellows and them...As he'd been prevented from letting anyone know which...It
argued the former...

"Did anyone see what happened to him?..." BR asked..."Or where he
went after he left us?..."

Sadly no...Just that he'd hung around quietly for a bit, then...Headed straight out
towards the alley where he'd had his fatal encounter...

But the inspector had questions to be answered...for them...
***
She'd done a little checking before fetching them...She was aware there was a good
reason why the Walthrops had been able to identify a robot so quickly...

"I understand you are a cybernetist yourself, Dr. Walthrop?...A partner in a very
advanced American firm..."

"Well...Our specialty is bionetic replacement organs and limbs...We don't do
much in robot work per se..."

"But...You would be capable of building such a device..."

"Oh...Certainly..." Spike said, brightly...BR rolling her eyes...Idiot...
Conceited, show-offing moron...

Like he could build a can opener without Warren...

"And I have learned you've had some equipment brought here...Rather large
crates of equipment..."

Uh-oh, BR thought...My biotank...

Knew lugging that thing around was going to cause us grief...

"That's actually for me..." she said brightly...

Spike's turn to look at her...

"You see, I use several bionetic limbs...Which have to be soaked in a special
solution periodically to maintain the artificial skin and surface musculature..."

The inspector and the cops looked at her...Oh...

"I'd be happy to show you..."

No, no...Really not necessary...

She agreed it was a strange coincidence that someone's robot had conked out just
in the town where her brilliant...eye bat at Spike... husband and she were staying...
Perhaps someone had learned of their coming and wanted to demonstrate their own
cybernetics skills...Like those young computer hackers who liked to challenge each
other and their elders on the net...

Of course, that poor young fellow Eddie...But...

Not much help they could offer there...

However, she was sure her husband would be willing to examine the robot and offer his
experienced opinion as to its construction and possible manufacturer...

Right, honey?...

***

While the inspector was a tad less uncivil on learning of gallant Ms. Walthrop's disabilities
...She was clearly still not ready to give them up as potential suspects...But it couldn't hurt
to have the eminent cybernetist's opinion...

Especially when you are so utterly clueless, Spike thought...Well, he could just take a look-
see...And with a little help from BR...In any areas where he might be a little uncertain...

"Go on honey..." BR smiled sweetly...The gallant lady kept her seat...A little
exhausted...You understand...But so proud to watch her "brilliant" hubs in action...

Inspector Rigg grudgingly admitted her people could use some assistance...If Dr.
Walthrop could provide a hint as to the possible manufacturer...

Hmmn...Well, Buf's much too interested to leave me alone with it too long...Spike
thought...

He assumed his best "scholarly cybergenius" attitude and moved to the cell...

However, watching Inspector Rigg look at Buffy Rebecca, Spike noted a slight look in her
face...Not sympathy, exactly, though that was there...Hmmn...Regret?...

Rather a similar, carefully concealed, look on the male cops' faces...Similar to that some
of the men had worn at the Glasgow meeting this morning after he'd sprung his surprise...

Well...Looks like the Missus has some other admirers...
***

Fortunately the smashing job the inspector's staff had done on the robot had made quite
a mess to sort out...And thanks to Warren and his own earnest attempts to learn a few
bits and pieces, Spike managed to give an air of knowing what he was doing...

"Can you identify the maker, Doctor?..." Inspector Rigg asked...

Ah...Well...Clearly...And unquestionably...An advanced design...Note the pattern of the
circuitry, the wires...Remarkable...

The Powers That Be smiled on Walthrop...For the second time this year...

He found a part...gear works?...motor?...who knew...With a German company's imprint...

Riesler...A well known machine manufacturer...

Ah...He grinned at the Missus...Who reluctantly grinned back...

Ok...Nicely done...

He suggested the inspector contact the firm...No doubt they could find out who might have
purchased such equipment...And from there...

Inspector Rigg nodded...

BR came over...She felt better, thanks, she told the officer who hastened to assist the
gallant lady...

Geesch...They saw her walk in...No need to act like...

"Did you check for access routes to the main computer, dear?..." she asked
sweetly on reaching him and the inspector who had come into the cell to watch...

Ah...Just getting to that...

"Memory...the memory...ah...yes...Thanks for reminding me dear..." he
smiled at her...

Hah...Thought I didn't know what she meant, didn't she...Spike beamed...

Good old Warren...One thing he always emphasized...And Walthrop had paid strict
attention to...The memory system...

After all, BR's little brush with death had started with memory system failure...

Now, just need to find...

"Spike!..." she shrieked as he grabbed a cable...And an electrical discharge
crackled through the room...

Fortunately the one receiving the shock was at the least risk of death of any in the room
...Even his wife...

***

Unfortunate, but a hazard of dealing with such jury-rigged equipment, BR noted to the
inspector after Spike had accidently erased the robot's memory systems...

Fortunately he was not hurt beyond a slight stunning...And the inspector bought BR's
explanation...

Though they'd all been amazed at the speed with which she'd reached Walthrop and
carried him out...

Amazing...Just like that American TV series about the rebuilt cyborg dog and his rebuilt
female owner...
***

After a few more questions and a promise to remain in the vicinity, the Walthrops were
allowed to return to their castle inn...

After a brief stop at the grocery in town...The inn kitchen having certainly closed by now,
BR did not intend to return without something to eat...

Their host welcomed them at the door...Angus Ichiro McGregor...Scot-Japanese by birth
...He'd heard they'd been called away...And hoped they'd not been given too rough a
time by the "damned Englishwoman"...Always fussing about...Bothering
honest people...Silly English bureaucrats...

Castle in Scotland, town in England...

BR was amused...Still the old feuds...Europeans...

Yes...Spike noted...Rather like visiting the California-Arizona border during a dry season...

***
Up in their room, they briefly discussed their little mystery while BR finally finished her
meal and "Dr." Walthrop satisfied his "special nutritional needs
" courtesy of his wife's blood synthesizer...

Not that he hadn't enjoyed his dinner earlier...After removing the kidney from the steak
and kidney pie that he'd ordered in a fit of nostalgia...

It was just...It had left him feeling unsatisfied...

***
Why a robot?...Here of all places...

Maybe he was on honeymoon too...Spike noted...

She was not amused...Was he by any chance comparing her to that pile of gears?...

Even April and her hybrid descendant, Buffy-April, had been light-years ahead of that thing...

And as for her...

***
But why had the boy been murdered?...What could have been so important?...

"Well, dear...There's no reason to assume he was killed over our freckled friend,
necessarily"...

Spike...In a small town like that...Barely half an hour after we left... five or ten minutes after
he left his friends...

A robbery, a bad drug-deal, another one of our friendly Eurovamp greeters, preferring not
to use teeth...

"No, it was connected..." she insisted...She had a sense about this...

Hardly Holmesian...he thought...A "sense"?...

***
Pending any further need to run over to Glasgow to settle matters they were free for the
next four days before heading to the continent...

She wanted to scout around town, speak to the friends of the murdered boy...

While he could assist Inspector Rigg with identifying the robot's maker...And keep her
off BR's back...

"Actually, Buffy...I think the good inspector would much prefer it the other way
round..." he grinned...

Glare...

Ah...So she noticed it too...An amusing story for Red when they get home, for sure...

"Maybe you're right...Perhaps you'd better just try to stick my tank together
tomorrow...We don't need to have Spike mucking things up..."

Now just a minute...Spike's been behaving himself...And we're perfectly capable of handling
those lumpen dolts...he thought...

"Buffy Rebecca, I can certainly deal with some little town police inspector and her
puppies..."

Her chin on hand, she grinned at him...

I've been had...He realized...A day at Inspector Detector's with her and her feeble-minded
crew...

"Well...Maybe I'll just..."
***
A shot rang out...And the window overlooking the yard shattered...

Spike was knocked to the floor, feeling a sharp pain along his side...As though someone
had shot him with a high-powered weapon at medium range...

A long-lived vampire of infamous reputation...With plenty of victims' relations about...Gets
a lot of experience in such things...

***

Buffy Rebecca was by his side as he came to...She would have faked a little more blase
attitude given her previous anger and her knowledge of vampires' insensitivity to bullets...

Except that the floor was fairly well soaked with her husband's blood...Which did not fit into
what Giles and her past experience with vampires had taught her regarding vampiral lead
tolerance...

Spike noted Mr. McGregor and a hastily summoned Inspector Rigg were beside them as
well...The only thing keeping his wife from starting an instant transfusion...From her on-board
synthesizer...

The inspector urged an ambulance be called...BR seemed a bit paralyzed...An ambulance?...

Spike informed her that he would be fine...Just needed some bandaging...McGregor hurried to
get what he could for them...

He regarded his wife who took her cue from him...Though she was thinking the ambulance
might not be such a bad idea...Even if it entailed some risk...

The inspector noted that "Dr." Walthrop had suffered considerable blood loss...
She felt an ambulance...

BR smiled nervously and setting to work at once, assured her that she could stop the
bleeding...Angus Ichiro returned with bandaging materials and noted that an ambulance
would take too long in any case...Coming from the English side as it would...Dawdling
bureaucrats...

Fortunately it would have...Given the nearest one was over an hour away...And as she
saw the bleeding soon had stopped the inspector let the matter rest and settled for
calling the town doctor...

Who congratulated Mrs. Walthrop on her skill...And "Dr." Walthrop on his
remarkable stamina...

***
They managed to avoid a hospital transport...Again a long trip which the doctor felt was
best avoided...The town infirmary would do nicely, given the young man's surprisingly
good condition...

If I were human, I think we'd have a nice little malpractice suit in the making...Spike
thought...
***

After they'd been left alone in the infirmary, and she'd had a chance to slip him some of her
blood stock, BR showed him what she'd found in their room during the confusion of his being
examined and relocated...

A small, bullet-sized, wood spear...He'd been shot with a wood spear...

Scorched enough to confirm that it had been fired from a gun...

Someone was aware of the good doctor's "high lead tolerance"...And taken
appropriate measures...

***
Her shock and remorse were not poses however...She was terrified...He'd almost died...
All due to her not listening to him...Wanting to play detective and drawing attention to
themselves...

And then, being angry at him...

What if he'd died while she was still mad at him?...Maybe it would have loused up his
redemption?...In the vampire movies someone had to be mourning and praying for the
victim's soul when they died or else...

Of course...That would have been his fault...He had to be sarcastic about everything...
Everyone...Always baiting her...

She loved him but sometimes...
***

The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part III

BR was on patrol...All night if need be...

The distinguished "cybergenius"' remarkable recuperative powers had allowed
her to get him out of the infirmary and back to their castle inn within a couple of hours...

With the aid of painkillers he was sleeping more or less peacefully...For a vampire still
adjusting to night sleeping...

She was determined to prevent another assault...Obviously someone...Someone with a
surprising amount of information about them...Was involved in the earlier attack...

Another agent of Wolfram-Hart's perhaps?...

But what did, if anything, a freckled-faced damaged robot and a young murdered local fellow
have to do with the attack? Was there any connection?

Well, yeah...Us...she thought...

She needed to speak with someone...To discuss the situation...And fortunately had the
means to do so...

***
Spike's great times four grandniece, Amelia Walthrop-Hunt, Council of Watchers member
...And soon to be Watcher of new human Slayer, Basey Granger...had presented them with
a gift before they left southern England...

A match for one she arranged to be sent to Giles and the gang, from the Council...A portable
computer with satellite link-up for rapid communication...

Long overdue tech upgrade for the Sunnydale team...

Amelia's had certainly come in handy during the battle with Dru and her allies...

***

BR naturally called the person best able to understand her and her fears...Her sis, Buffy...

Who was very pleased to get the call...Courtesy a telecom satellite link to US phone lines
...Being a wee bit down in the dumps...

Warren, BR's "dad", and Buffy's "stop-gap" potential guy, having
decided to go on a trip and try patching things up with his former fiancee...Though she'd
been careful to keep the door open in case dear Katrina slammed hers in his face...

Leaving her 0 for 5...Angel, Parker, Riley, Spike (if you counted her BR memory-merged
period of infatuation...Which in her slightly depressed mood, she did), and Warren...

But...hey, she'd get by...After death and vamp transformation, losing both parents, nearly
losing Willow...It'll take a lot more than a break-up to knock her down...

Besides...their friend Professor Drages...aka Byzantine Emperor Constantine XXX,
Commander of the Knights of Byzantium...was still on the lookout for a consort for his
young appointed successor, Basil...

If all else failed...Empress Buffy Theodora...Not so bad...

Still, it was great to here sis' voice...How'd the big meeting go?...

The good doc hold his end up?...Or, as Buffy expected, had she had to cover?...

Fine, fine...William had been wonderful...The contract was going through...She'd helped a
bit...

But there was some trouble...

As always... Buffy sighed...
***

She was saddened to hear their honeymoon had been interrupted yet again...

But glad to hear her brother-in-law had not yet been granted the Slayer's Gift...

The robot mystery sounded intriguing...And given the setting BR described...Very
Holmesian...

But if someone knew Spike was a vamp, they were in serious danger...Again...

She'd get things moving with Giles and Willow at once...See if any remnants of
Wolfram-Hart were still kicking enough to try a stunt like that...Or if any other evil force
might be noted as active in their area...

She knew however that BR would get Spike back in one piece...Still...

"I know it won't do any good to say this, sis...But you be careful too..."

A steady background sound of muffled groans and fidgets indicated that Dawn was in the
vicinity and eager to say hi...

New enemies every time they turn around...How are they ever going to manage having
children?...Buffy thought as she handed the phone to a very happy Dawn...

***

Walthrop awoke the next morning to find an exhausted-looking Buffy Rebecca hovering
anxiously over him...

"Were you up all night?..." he asked her... She nodded...

Thank goodness Warren had beefed up her power systems with an additional atomic cell
before they left for Europe...Nervous about the electrical systems differences and their
effects on her batteries...

But she still needed to sleep...And her skin and surface musculature would soon be
needing that biotank...

He'd get right to it...Walthrop announced...Swinging his legs to the side...

And collapsing on the floor...

Perhaps another day's rest...

She insisted there was no need to rush...If necessary...And safe for him...She'd work on the
tank later in the day when he was a little better...

However, she noted...There was no reason she couldn't get some sleep now...If the good doctor
would make a little room...

Well...Spike noted to her...We've one up on Holmes and Watson...

Except in that one movie version...

She grinned at him...Kissed his nose...And started a hug...

Oops...The joy that kills...Painwise...

Sorry...

Talk about star-crossed lovers he noted...We're becoming a regular Buffy and Angel...

***
Angus' wife Margaret came by to check on them around noon...Tapping discreetly...

Buffy Rebecca met her at the door...Patient's doing fine, thanks...

In fact, she felt she could leave him for a few minutes...To get their lunch...And perhaps to check
their boxes of equipment...

"Ok, honey?..." she turned to him... "Back in just a bit..."

He nodded...Rats...he was just getting to tolerate the pain of her arm around him...

She left, looking at him worriedly...She'd be right back...Promise...

He smiled at her...If anyone had told him just three months ago...

She left, hesitating to close the door...

God, what a beautiful scent she had...It inspired him...

Now, what rhymes with "Buffy's scent"?...Hmmn...Ah...

What else...effulgent...Well it could be made to rhyme...

"Oh, let me but drown in Buffy's scent...
Its power is so...effulgent..."

Yeah...

Or maybe change Buffy to BR...

Even better...

***
Angus was happy to escort Mrs.Walthrop to her and her husband's equipment...In a dank
basement...

Which had, naturally, once been a dungeon...

He was even happier to hear Dr. Walthrop had not died in the night...

She thanked him...She'd be back up in a mo...Just needed to check over the inventory...

***
One of the crates had been broken open...A board pulled out, then shoved back more or less
in place...

Nothing taken or damaged...

Hmmn...Possibly just a thief...Or someone who was looking to see what the Walthrops had
brought along...

Perhaps a fellow cybernetist?...

She heard a sound...In the back of the room...And was there in a second...To grab...

A short, freckled man...Definitely human...And quite startled to find himself firmly in the
astonishingly powerful grip of a slight young blonde...Though he refrained from crying out...

The image of the robot lying in Inspector Rigg's station cell...

She'd found her robotmaker...Or at least the robot's model...

***
"I don't want to hurt you..." she told him... "And you obviously don't want
anyone else to find you here..."

He nodded, understanding the situation...And looked at her with a professional interest...

"Sure you're too good for an android...You some kind of gymnast?..." he asked
her in a low voice...

Vampire-Slayer she explained...

No need to give all the details just yet...And she did not think of herself as an android...

Human with a robot body, perhaps...

Through Warren would have been pleased that a competitor had called her "too
good for an android"...

***

Fields, Timothy Fields was his name...

And yes...He was...Well he was one of the creators of the robot they'd encountered...

Well...Why was he here...And why had he or someone taken a potshot at her husband?...

A shot?...At Dr. Walthrop?...

From the rather awed pronunciation of "Dr. Walthrop" she realized was in
the presence of a fan...Her hubs had an admirer...At least in the scientific sense...

He'd meant no harm...Just wanted to see what the famous Dr. Walthrop was up to these
days...And, if possible...To meet him...

Meet Spike?...The "famous Dr. Walthrop"?...

But his company had only been in existence a little over two months...
***

A little over two months was a lifetime in their field, Tim explained...

Everyone...In cybernetics...Was talking about W/S...They were the new kings of the field,
the world's cutting edge...

Really?...My Warren and my Spike...The "kings of the field"...Well...

But what was he up to with that robot?...And what about that poor kid who'd been killed?...

And again, what about that shot?...

***
The robot...Well he'd heard Dr. Walthrop would be in town...A once in a lifetime opportunity
to meet the leader in the field...When he was literally in the field...And make an impression
with his own little achievement...Tim, Jr...

And perhaps...If he made enough of an impression...The good doctor might consider...
Reviewing his resume...

A job...This was about a job?...But the mashed field, the guard who saw nothing...The
dead kid...And again...that shot

Well, see miss...Mrs. Walthrop...he didn't actually own Tim Jr...exactly...Tim was the
property of the Winset company...Though he had been the primary creator...And modeled
him after himself...

He'd borrowed him...Just for a bit...To show Dr. Walthrop what he was capable of...

Only...Well...Nothing had quite gone right...

So...The Winset company made more than tools and nails...she noted...

Oh, that was the old days, miss...No profit in that anymore...Koreans and such have that
market long beat...No, Winset was trying to catch up to the modern world...At least in its
special development section...

Well...Why was the robot so badly cut up?...

Umm...Well...He hadn't exactly had permission to take it...It was in fact locked up and
stored away...He'd had to have it break out of a few barriers...Some storage chains...
A grill barred door...Some barbed wiring...

Well, that explained that...But...Why didn't the guard see him?...

Came up by the rear freight elevator...the mashed area in the grass covered the elevator
exit cover...The research section was underground in that area...Out of the gatehouse
view...

Oh...But why hadn't he brought it...the robot...to them...And what about Eddie?...And the
shot?...

Miss, I don't know about the shot...The robot...Well, Tim Jr was knocked a little wonky
by the breakout...Conked out on the way into town...As for Eddie...

Eddie was his pal...Helping to cover Tim Jr's breakout...If anyone in town had seen Tim
and Tim Jr together...The Winset folks might have learned what had happened...Before
he could've smuggled the robot back inside the main lab...

He'd just been covering for him, poor fellow...But after Tim Jr collapsed he was just trying
to divert attention so he...Tim could have a chance to haul off...
But as to why anyone would have killed him...He had no idea...Couldn't imagine even the
Winset folks'd be that angry...If they'd even known of him...

Naturally after he'd heard old Ed was killed...He'd freaked and kept out of sight...Until he
decided to try and see the good doctor...Who might possibly be able to help him...As a fellow
cybernetist...He just wanted a proper chance to explain things to the police...Before
someone...whoever killed his pal...caught up with him...

Hmmn...she thought it over...

Perhaps the good doctor might be willing to meet with him...
***

The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part IV

Young Mr. Fields was awe-struck to be in the presence of that renowned genius, that
towering icon of cybernetics, Dr. William Walthrop...

Who despite his recent injuries gave his new disciple a fine performance as learned sage...

And partner of Dr. Warren Mears of like reputation...Who fortunately had managed to
impart just enough basic terminology to his colleague to let him slide by in a situation
where vague bold statements and no details were required...

Such as now...In part thanks to BR's insistence that Tim not weary her recovering
husband too much with detailed questions...

But she had wanted Spike to see their mysterious fellow robotmaker...And help
determine if the young man was telling the truth about simply wishing to meet his
new hero of Science...

With her speed, she had figured she could easily knock the boy unconscious if he
tried anything once in the room...Even if she couldn't kill a human...
***

Spike, though still aching from his wound, was clearly in his element...

He really did have a talent for presentation, BR noted...Must be his poet's nature...

And he had definitely picked some up of his and Warren's former employer's, the crazed Dr.
Severn, bombastic nature...

Which served him rather well in impressing his current audience...
***

She couldn't help smiling at Walthrop...As he ranted on to the hero-worshiping Tim
about the "glorious possibilities of bionetics..."

Hell, I admit...BR thought...I'm proud of the little twerp...

She looked at the two...Spike clearly saw something of his old human self in young Tim...

While she saw...

A determined young man with no friends or help but his devoted mother struggling from
poverty into Cambridge University...

Dreaming of creating great beauty...

Another budding H.G. Wells?...A Joyce?...Yeats?...Well...Maybe not...

But, who knows what might have happened if he'd been allowed his chance...she thought
loyally...

Cheated out of the fruits of his hard work and effort by an unjust fate...

Locked in a hideous prison of violence and helplessness for a century...Yet somehow,
gradually breaking through his limbo walls to reach out...

And cry out his humanity in a desperate plea...

To her...

The love song of William Soames Walthrop...
***

When she had recovered from her reverie...and could see straight again...

She realized they were finally discussing the events of the past evening...

And Spike was getting a tad out of his depth...

Tim was describing the robot's control systems...He was pretty far from an April, let alone
a Buffy Rebecca...Basically just an advanced automaton, guided by either remote control
or able to home in on a special signaling transmitter following a few basic movement
programs...

But still a nice accomplishment for a young engineer...With no access to bionetic
technology...

But wait...The robot had to be guided or follow a signal...So...Did Tim have the controller on
him...Could she see it?

Spike nodded wisely...Ah, the controller...Must have a look at that...

No, miss...It was still locked up at Winset...He'd used his homing unit...Which he'd used
in the lab for field tests...

"Then surely you have the homing control with you..."

"No, miss...Ms. Walthrop..." Tim told her... "Ed had the homing control on
him..."

He explained that Ed was to lead Tim Jr. through the town...Down to the inn where
he...Tim...would meet up with them...Avoiding any chance of both Tims being seen close
to the factory...And spring his little demo on the distinguished Dr. Walthrop...

"And you're sure Eddie had the control?..."

Yes, miss...The robot was going to him like a puppy after a treat when it conked...

Hmmn...The inspector never mentioned that...Finding anything connected with the robot
on the dead boy...

Perhaps turning Tim over to her just yet wasn't such a good idea...

She asked for a moment with William and explained the situation to him...

Well?...she looked at Spike...

He was thoughtful...Something not quite right here...But not anything the chip could detect
per se...Definitely not a demon or vamp...

But the story didn't explain young Ed's murder...Though Tim seemed sincere...

She pondered...Looking at Walthrop in his bed...She couldn't sit and wait around for the
assassin to try again...

She needed to find out if the boy had still had the control on his body when found...

Ummn...Couldn't it wait?...

Not that he didn't think she could handle those idiots...

She'd be alright...She promised...

And promised to be careful...Honest...

She meant to complete this honeymoon...
***

She called Tim back in...Walthrop smiling at his 'protege' reassuringly...

"Tim...Before I bring you over to the police, I have to check on some things in town
...I want you to stay with my husband...See no one comes near him he doesn't know...
" she looked seriously at the young man...Who nodded...

She kissed Walthrop nervously who gave her a hand squeeze and thumbs up...Tim,
blushing a bit tried his best to look away...

She paused at the door and turned back to them...
"And Tim...You've seen how strong I am...If I'm wrong about you...And
anything...Anything...Happens to William while I'm gone..." she looked at him grimly...

"God have mercy on you for I won't..."

The love song of Buffy Rebecca Summers-Walthrop...
***

Tim watched her go down the stairs, open-mouthed... Spike grinned at him...

"Devoted girl, my missus..."

Tim nodded...

Aye, sir...Eh, sir?...

Yes, lad...

"This Vampire-Slayer thing...Is that some kind of sports thing?...Martial-arts...wrestling,
maybe...back in the States...? A team?..."

"Women's sports...She's been at it for years...Semi-professional..."

Ah...He thought so...Must be very strenuous sport...He'd never met a woman so strong...
And yet so little...

Appearances, Tim...Deceiving, you know...Spike looked at Tim carefully...

Yes, sir...

***

Buffy Rebecca reached the police station office and, deciding to take the direct approach,
asked to see Inspector Rigg...

The inspector greeted her and inquired as to the condition of her poor husband...She'd been
planning to come up in a bit...Though sadly had nothing new to report as to who might have
been responsible for the attack...

BR nodded...She had a question, posed by her husband who noted some particulars about
the robot...

Had anything been found on the dead boy?...Something say like a small transmitter or
remote control device?...

The inspector was a bit startled...No...Nothing...The doctor had reason to believe there
should be?...

Well...As an expert in cybernetics...He'd noted the robot was of a design that required
some kind of external guidance...control...

And if the boy's death was connected to the robot's appearance...

Remarkable...A brilliant man, Dr. Walthrop...

Umm-ummn...BR agreed...Brilliant...

But sadly, nothing had been found except the boy's personal effects...And nothing like a
control device had been found among them...

Could she possibly look them over?...While she took one more look at the robot?...

Ah...To carry her impressions back to the doctor?...

Yes, of course...To carry her impressions back to the doctor, she smiled...

Certainly...No one had yet come to collect them...

***
"Doctor's taught you a bit about that, eh miss?..." the cop assigned to bring
BR the boy Eddie's personnel effects asked her... As she poked though the components
in the robot's open chest and checked through the pile the cop had brought...

Hmm-Hmmn...She nodded, smiling at him...

"I'd mind the electrics, miss...You ladies don't know how dangerous such things
can be..."

She smiled...She'd try not to break anything...Her husband had given her very detailed
instructions on how to proceed...

The cop smiled...Well, if the doctor had advised her...

Oh, yes...Thank goodness for his genius...She leaned on it for so much...

Couldn't blame the fellow too much if his female boss has so low an opinion of her fellow
women, BR thought...

***

The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part V
BR continued her examination under the watchful eye of the returned Inspector Rigg...

Whose watchful eye she couldn't help noticing seemed to drift from the subject of the
examination to fix on her from time to time...

With more than a professional regard...

Apparently learning of her "disabled" condition had not killed all interest...

***
"Any luck, Mrs. Walthrop?..." the inspector asked...For the third time in ten
minutes...

Any interest in her did not seem to translate into confidence in her abilities, Buffy Rebecca
noted...

No doubt she wished the "great"" Dr". Walthrop were on hand...
To properly handle matters...BR thought...

Well...There was something...

She called the inspector over...And pointed it out to her...

"Ah...So the doctor was correct in his assumption..." Inspector Rigg noted
... "Brilliant man..."

Mrs. Walthrop was so fortunate...They were so fortunate...To have him on hand...

Her assistant cops nodded...Amazing fellow, that Dr. Walthrop...

"Please let us know what the doctor comes up with, Mrs. Walthrop..." the
inspector asked her as she prepared to head out...

Yeah...

A dumb California blonde like me is so lucky to have his guidance...

***

Much to Spike's relief, BR returned intact in under two hours...

No sign of a control device among Eddie's personal effects...But...

She had found a bit of support for Tim's story...The robot indeed had a microwave receiver...

Tim asked if Tim Jr. was in good shape...He was already likely to be in hot water with the
Winset people...But if he could get the cops to allow him to return the robot...Before
Monday...

Yes, she told him...Nothing that couldn't be fixed easily..

As the poor kid seemed to be telling them the truth there was no need to let him know
about the cops' handiwork just yet, she thought...

Maybe the distinguished Dr. Walthrop could square things with his company for him
later on...

***

"Could my husband and I have a moment, Tim?..." BR asked the boy...Who
was happy to wait in the hallway...

She told Spike quietly she felt Tim might be in danger...Someone had that control
unit and had killed for it...

"Should we bring him to the police?..." she asked hesitantly...

God...Those idiots?...He'd be dead by morning...If someone was after him...Best off letting
him stay hidden a little longer...

Ummn...Well, maybe that was...

Of course...It was fine with him...He could stay here...

"Here?...With us?..." she asked...

On our honeymoon?...she did not say...

He understood...He knew she'd be concerned about the poor fellow...Anxious to use him to
unravel this thing...And he had no objection...

Oh...No objection...

No, it was fine with him...He rather enjoyed talking to young Tim...A likely lad, despite any
...minor strangenesses...really...Reminded him of young William IV, the Walthrop heir and
his namesake whom he and BR had recently met...Might make a fine addition to W/S if old
Warren agreed later on...

Oh...

He was happy to do it for her, knowing it was what she'd want...

Really...Well...

Greeat...

Ok...ok...Three days...she thought...In three days we leave for Germany and this will be
just a little forgotten inconvenience...

And he really believes he's pleasing me...Being unselfish...It's really quite an admirable...

&#%&!...This is the guy who ordered a sex robot to have me?...

She smiled frozenly at Walthrop and Tim...Now discussing her biotank...A little project to
keep them busy, if Tim felt up to it...You see, lad, Mrs. Summers-Walthrop, in spite of her
apparent perfect health...

Tim's eyes widened...Bionetic limbs?...Sure, no wonder the miss was so...And gave the
gallant lady a deeply sympathetic gaze...Such a courageous...

Somewhere in there, I know...Spike is laughing his head off at me right now...BR thought...

***

Fortunately Tim was sensitive to matters of romance and after BR checked the basement
area, was happy to leave the Walthrops to themselves and begin assembly of the biotank
following the eminent "cybergenius"' detailed instructions...Courtesy of his
eminent partner Warren's notes.

Tim was a bit puzzled about the size of the tank...Rather larger than one might have thought
one would need to soak a limb or two...

But if one of the "kings of cybernetics" says it should be so...

She locked the door...Angus had promised to keep an eye on young Tim, a young local friend
doing a bit of work for them while the doctor was incapacitated, she had explained...

"You feeling better, honey?..." she asked Walthrop...Slipping him a blood packet

Actually he felt much better...Lucky that spear had only grazed his side...After all...

He wanted his Gift to be delivered with love when the time came...

***
As requested Tim checked in on them about two hours later...

He knocked discreetly...A rather pleased-looking Mrs. Walthrop coming to the door...

In a nightgown...And looking...Tim couldn't help noticing...rather...well...Pleased...

Although...oddly...she seemed to have been crying a bit as well...

Well...young bride on her honeymoon...And such a terrible thing to have had happen to the
great doctor...

He'd nearly finished the tank unit, he told her...Mr. McGregor had set him up very nicely in
a small room near them...

She nodded...Yes the doctor was quite well...Much improved...And appreciated his efforts
with the tank...If he was up to it, perhaps they could all discuss the next move at breakfast
next morning...

William was quite impressed with him, she told the young disciple with a twinkle...

Don't stay up too late working on that thing, Tim..she told him as he happily left her...

***
The good doctor was still a bit sheepish...Stupid thing to say, that...About the Gift...Poor girl, she
thinks of that constantly...

But after all...They'd settled it between them long ago...Without words...And they knew...
Better than almost anyone that it would not mean the end...

Still she'd cried to hear him say it...Though it was true...When the time came and Spike
could no longer be contained in his prison...She'd help them...Both...With love...

Just as love had finally saved poor Drusilla...

And there was really nothing to be sorrowful for in that...

But he had some concerns about the immediate business...Something about young Tim
and his appearance on the scene...Bothered him...In view of events...

***

For her part, she'd felt a little silly crying about it...And was grateful for his being well
enough to comfort her...

Even if that'd been the worst possible thing he could have said to her just then, Spike
..A little thought once in while, please...

And she'd laughed at his remark that after 10 or 20 thousand years she might well slip
him the Gift out of sheer boredom with him...

But she didn't think even 20,000 years would be enough...To make it easy...

Still, odds were they'd have many times a normal lifespan together...And later, all eternity...

Even if a brief separation became necessary...

And if of course they managed to get along ok...She, now recovering, pointing out to him
in her turn that she could as Warren had told her, pick up that biotank and walk out the
door...Anytime...

Or, through the nearest wall...He teased her...

No problem..she agreed....

But for now, if he was really feeling better...They could discuss the events of the day...
Later...

So that she was feeling somewhat...pleased...when Tim stopped by...

***
Tim noted at breakfast that the castle had lived up to its reputation as a place haunted
by many spirits of the dead...

Their moans had woken him up several times...Eerie things...Had the doctor and missus
heard it?...

Afraid not, lad... "Dr." Walthrop noted...

Hmmn...BR thought...I would have thought stone walls would have been enough sound-
proofing...

But then, three times the sex drive of a normal Slayer...

***
With the tank now functional, BR reluctantly agreed that it was best if Walthrop took over
the investigation for the day...After all, daytime was a hair less dangerous time and she
was reaching the point of seriously needing at least a brief regenerative cycle...

He'd keep it simple...Stage a little "examining the robot" performance...Pump
the inspector and her idiots a bit...Look around town...Back in four hours...

As for Tim...Walthrop looked carefully at his wife...Best if he stayed around for the
moment...But if he could give Walthrop a brief list of Eddie's daytime activities...If that lo
...BR glared...poor fellow had any daytime activities...In the evening together they could
check his nighttime haunts...

Well, old Ed had only been working part-time just then, Tim noted...He had been hoping
to get his friend into Winset eventually...He was afraid old Ed hadn't been...well...focused
...But a grand and dear pal all the same...

BR nodded sympathetically...

Spent a lot of time at the local pub...

Shock there...Spike thought...

And ran errands for a couple of the locals in town...All over town most of the day he was...

Regular Leo Bloom...Spike noted...

"Well, give me the pub's location and the names and addresses of Ed's employers
...Oh, and his home digs?..." Walthrop asked the boy...

Well...sir...Ed and I...We...Shared our digs...We...Ummn...

He was getting a little misty...

Oh...

Oh...thought BR sympathetically...I thought so...She reached out and patted Tim's hand...

"You poor thing..." she told him...Looking over at Walthrop...Questioningly...

He nodded...

***
They checked out the tank...Walthrop might have great confidence in his new protege but...
All was well...

"She gets in the tank?..." Tim asked, startled...He thought she'd just...Well
...Remove 'em...

"Works out easier this way Tim...Less embarrassment for her, you understand
...And the tank's biogel is actually a damn good skin treatment all over..."

He...Walthrop...Had actually tried it once himself...Very pleasant once you got used to it...
***

"Well...I'd better be going..." he smiled at her...

"William?..." she looked at him...She liked this idea less every second...

He took her hand...And gently stroked and kissed it...

"After all, dear..." he thought and smiled... "You know, there is special
providence in the fall of a sparrow...If it's to be now, tis not yet to come, if it be not now,
it will come...The readiness is all..."

He looked at her...Grinning...

"William...That was beautiful..." she beamed...And frowned... "Tis it
better not be now..."

He nodded...He'd be careful...

He went to grab his coat...

"But...that's from..." Tim started...

Shut up, Tim, she hissed to him as Walthrop came back to them...

He kissed her and left...

Naturally she followed...With Tim in tow...five minutes later...

To make assurance...Just that he reached town safely...Double sure...

***
The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part VI

BR, with young Tim in tow, surreptiously followed her distinguished "cybergenius
" until he reached the police station...Safely...

No sign of anyone following him...And she needed a few hours in that damned tank...

Else she'd soon be having major skin problems....Progressing rapidly from a few sores
to full-blown "night of the living dead" rot...

Besides, she felt a little nervous, not to mention guilty, about exposing Tim...Assuming
he was not involved...But he was after all much safer with her...And if someone did make an
attempt...They might finally have some clue as to who or what...

***

"Ah, Doctor Walthrop..." Inspector Rigg greeted Spike...With, for her,
considerable warmth...

She was pleased to see he had recovered almost fully so quickly...And appreciated his
desire to be of service in their little matter...

"Mrs. Walthrop stayed at home?..."

Rather exhausted, after last night, poor lamb...You understand...Even with bionetic limbs...
Of course...

A bright young lass, his wife...Notwithstanding her gallant courage...Had her examination
been of use to him?...

Indeed...

He'd just wanted to check in...See if there were any new developments...Perhaps worth
a final look at the robot in case the Missus had left a few things...

The inspector had a bit of gleam...Something to tell him, he realized...

Indeed she did...They'd identified where the robot had come from...

A check on the motor unit he'd found in the robot, the one of German manufacture...

Only one place in the area ordered equipment from that company...

The Winset company?...He asked...

Oh...The inspector's face fell a bit...Yes...How did he?...

Ah, well...One must keep up with the competition...Doing some interesting work in their
research section, the Winset people...

Amazing man...One of the other cops noted to his partners...Always on top of things...

"Have they reported a missing robot?" Spike asked the inspector...

Not as yet...However it was the weekend...No senior staff was available, although she
called and the staff on duty was checking...No doubt their senior people would have
more to say on Monday...

Did he possibly suspect that someone at Winset had been involved in the attack on
him?...In the murder of the young man?...

Well...Difficult to say...Hardly likely the company would take such extreme measures to
eliminate competitors...If they even knew of his presence in the area...Still...A strange
coincidence...

"Anything new on the poor boy?..." he asked...

Sadly, no...No family in the area...No close friends known...

Hmmn...By the way, was she or any of her people acquainted with a Mr. Fields, Timothy
Fields, a young scientist at Winset?...

They were not...The Winset staff kept rather to themselves...Only a handful lived in town
or the surroundings...Was it important?...

No, just that the fellow was rather up-and-coming in the field...Might be able to help them in
gathering information...

Ah...The inspector eyed her men who noted the name...

Spike noted that the robot was not alone in its cell...Two young men were carefully
disassembling it...

Yes...The inspector informed him...A couple of the weekend staff from Winset had kindly
come down to assist in the identification after her call...

"You wished to examine the robot further, Dr. Walthrop?...I'm sure the Winset
people would appreciate your assistance..."

Ah...Yes...Well...Not at present...He had just wanted to check in really...

No doubt the Missus' exam had been quite detailed enough, he'd just...

One of the young engineers came out to them...

"This is the distinguished Dr. Walthrop..." Inspector Rigg introduced Spike...

The engineer was properly impressed...Reputations travel fast in the modern world of
cybernetic "kings"...

The junior "king" of cybernetics assumed his best "cybergenius
" pose and hoped for a chance for a quick getaway...

Ah...Well...Just passing through...Hoped to be of service...Must be going...Now...

But given the lad's respectful air... it certainly couldn't hurt just to ask...

"Anything interesting in your efforts, lad?..."

The young engineer rattled off a stream of details...Which Spike listened to with a
profound air...

Fortunately, the inspector had remained...The eminent "cybergenius"
therefore kindly suggested the young man put it in layman's terms...

"Well, it is definitely a prototype of our lab...Apparently stolen...Though when or
by whom is difficult to say without the research area's supervisor on hand..." the
engineer noted...

Hmmn...Spike looked profoundly at them...

"But why would the young man have been involved?..." the inspector asked...

"Probably something to do with the control device..." Spike noted...

The young engineer was impressed...Dr. Walthrop had already clearly devined that the
robot was externally guided...Would he care to examine the primary...?

"No, no..." Spike interrupted... "I must be off...Looking around town a
bit before I return to the missus...I'm sure you lads have things very well in
hand..." He smiled and shook the young fellow's hand...

The young engineer beamed...If one of the "kings" of cybernetics smiles on you...

Fine and capable fellows he noted to the inspector...

The inspector watched him leave and sent two of her men to follow him...

Much as she appreciated the doctor's genius and assistance, she was a bit leery of the
Walthrops' detecting games and suspected he was out to do some checking around town...

And perhaps was holding something back...
***

BR had asked Tim to stay by the tank, which he was happy to do after she supplied him with
several of the leading cybernetics journals to read, courtesy of Amelia Walthrop-Hunt's gift
computer...

He'd whang the tank at the slightest sign of trouble, he promised...

The green light went on as she closed the lid...

Spooky, Tim noted...Rather like one of those coffins in vampire flicks...

She seems to take it in stride though...
***
Walthrop had stopped by Eddie's favorite pub...

Despite the relatively early hour the louts were in full force he noted...

"Ah...The young doctor..." one Spike recognized from the other night greeted
him...

"Terrible things going on, eh, sir?...Any luck with that machine, sir?..." the
fellow, a largish type, asked...

Afraid not as yet...

Hmmn...Machine...?

News travels fast by word of lout...Spike thought...

Had anyone known the poor lad?...he asked them...

All of them knew poor Eddie, several told him...Grand little lad, that...

Always ready to stand a friend a pint when he had scratch...several noted looking at
Walthrop...Intently...

Catching the hint, Spike stood them all several pints...

Had anyone known Eddie's friend...A young Mr. Fields?...he asked...

Was that the young fellow from Winset company who looked like the machine?...Largish lout
asked...

A regular couple those two...Inseparable...He told Spike...A few others nodded...

"Might have been a bit of a lovers' quarrel there, eh, doctor?..."

One never knows...Spike told him...

Interesting that they hadn't felt it worthwhile to mention Mr. Fields to the police...he thought...

Could be lout solidarity of course...
***
Armed with the key Tim had given him, Spike next planned to check the apartment the two
had shared...If the inspector had not placed a guard...And if the building owner was
available...

Despite his redemption and his daylight ring, Spike still had his little limitations...

Fortunately there was only a notice that the apartment had been sealed by police...

Not a thing to hold off William the Bloody...Though of course "Dr." Walthrop
had to take some care...

Respectible scientist and businessman here...

He found the landlady, and with an explanation that he was an old family friend, and a
sizable bribe, overcame her slight reluctance to go with him to the apartment...

"After you..." he waved her in politely...

Well...She'd feel better if the police had spoken to her...

He simply wanted to see if old Ed had left anything the family would want...That he should
request back from the police...

She paused on the doorway...

If she'd be pleased to invite him in, he'd have a look round quickly and be gone...

The old charm, Spikey...he thought...A little persuasive charm...Think Angelis...Just before
he'd rip an unsuspecting victim's throat out...

Charm...And another 20 pounds...

"Well, come in then, doctor..." she invited...She in fact was rather charmed by
the young "cybergenius"...

Though she couldn't help thinking the doctor was a bit on the short side for her...

Many thanks...He smiled and came in...

Hmmn...Not much...About what one would expect...Except...

There seemed to be a good deal of books on robotics and cybernetics...

But no personal evidence of Mr. Fields...

Well...Perhaps he'd had a chance to grab his personnals...

He turned to the landlady...Had a Mr. Fields stayed with young Edward?...

"Mr. Fields?..." she'd never heard the name...So far as she knew young Ed lived
alone...However...

Young Ed did have a friend, a freckled-faced young man who occasionally dropped by...

Tim...She thought the name was...
***
He dropped by one of the stores that Tim had given him as a place Ed had run errands for...

The owner was happy to tell him, being a family friend as he was, about young Ed...Fine lad,
bright future...Especially since he had started work at Winset...

He worked at Winset?...Spike asked...

Yes, indeed sir...Had started there a month or so ago...Bright fellow that Ed...

That slack-jawed lout?...Spike did not say...

Hmmn...Perhaps it was time to check on the Missus and their houseguest...

He had a few questions for his young protege...

The two officers following him reported his movements back to the inspector...The eminent
scientist appeared headed back to his inn...

She ordered them to continue to shadow him at a distance...

The good doctor appeared to enjoy playing detective...Well...If he wished to attract
attention to himself there was no reason she should not take advantage of it...As well as
keeping him safe for that poor, brave little sweetie of his...

***
.As he came into the basement room and waved at Tim...

Tim was contently pouring through the journals BR had provided courtesy the computer's
built-in printer...

Buffy Rebecca was snoring in her glop tank...Apparently all well, Spike noted...

He whanged the tank to get her attention...

Her scream would have waked the dead...And he should know...

Angus and his wife came down the stairs...Prepared for anything judging by the size of the
sticks they were hefting...

Just a little martial arts practice...Heard Mrs. Walthrop scream and thought they'd better
check...

By the way...Was that a coffin she was sitting in?...

A bioregenerative incubation unit...Tim informed them...Good for the skin, you know...

Quick thinking there lad, Spike thought...The Missus would appreciate not having everyone
know about her "tragic condition"...

Ah...Well...Mrs. McGregor remembered reading about those in Vogue...

Lifestyles of the rich and Californian, she thought...

[Suggested theme-Scotland the Brave March]

"Nice kilts, Mr. McGregor..." Spike told Angus...

"Much easier for the practice, doctor..." Angus told him... "Allows
maximum freedom of movement..."

Ah, a happy merging of two cultures...Spike thought...

BR was still shaky after her abrupt awakening...She'd been dreaming of being a vampire
in her coffin...Not an unusual dream for the biotank...But after using real beds for nearly
two weeks....

She managed a smile and assured the McGregors that all was well...It was just a little
unnerving to wake up in a sealed box...

Lifestyles of the robotic and vampiral...

***
After BR had had a chance to express her slight annoyance...

Spike informed them of the general outline of his excursion through town...

He preferred to hold back some details for relation to his wife in private...
**
But he felt it was probably good for them to plan on spending the evening checking out
the local haunts...With Tim in tow for safe-keeping...

Tim was happy to accompany his hero and the gallant missus...

There was one place everyone frequented...A favorite of old Ed's...
***
Rather back in form...Spike thought...He was out of tweeds for one evening and back to
his more active fashion style...Though he wore the new jacket BR had bought for him...

The old Slayer's coat was in Giles' hands for shipment to the Council...Who kept a small
memorial museum of past Slayers' items where any had survived...

Just wasn't quite in keeping with his new lifestyle, Spike had decided...Rather to first his
sister-in-law's and later his resurrected wife's relief...

As for Buffy Rebecca...As always...She looked...

With the benefit of four hours regeneration...
And especially in that black top...

They were truly dressed to kill...Spike noted...If absolutely required by circumstances...
***

"Heart of Glass" by Blondie was blaring through the speakers as they entered...

Tim following under their watchful care...Spike had informed BR of what he'd learned
although they'd agreed it didn't necessarily follow that he was lying to them...

He had said he was trying to get old Ed in at the company...And he and Ed might have
wished to keep their relationship under wraps in a little staid town like this...Even if...

They'd question him more closely later...

Hmmn...BR thought...Noting the attention she was getting from the women...And her
"cybergenius" from the men...This place looks like a ...

Well, it had been Ed's and Tim's favorite hangout...

The staid little town had a wilder side apparently...

"Mrs. Walthrop?...Helloo..." Inspector Rigg called out to her...

Definitely off-duty in that outfit...

She waved her over...

"Nice to see you my dear...Is the doctor about?..."

BR pointed him out to her...Spike was strolling slowly about the floor...Tim keeping near...

She seemed a hair disappointed...Then turning to a slight, frail-looking late forties-ish
man on the stool next to her introduced Mrs. Walthrop to...

Her husband...Lluwelyan...

"Mrs. Walthrop..." he took her hand, smiling... "So nice to meet you
...Anna has told me so much about you..."

Husband?...BR was a bit startled...Still, England...An army of films and books about
marriages just like this...

He seemed very sweet, though probably in poor health...

Very much the John Hurt type she noted...

"Are you doing a little sleuthing again, Ms. Walthrop?..." the inspector
asked, smiling at her..."Seems a pity for you to be wasting your honeymoon on
such things..."

She smiled noncommitally...
***
They watched her as she headed after Spike...

"Lovely girl..." Lluwelyan noted...Looking at his wife who nodded...

"Not quite your type, my dear, I'm afraid..." he smiled sympathetically at her...

She smiled back and patted his hand...

***
"We should try the Winset company..." BR noted to Spike...

Tim remaining beside them as they sat at a table...

Try?...As in go in?...At night?...As in breaking and entering?...

"We need to know what's going on there...How the dead boy was involved..."

Hmmn...You know...Inspector Rigg seems quite competent...Perhaps, for once, they should
consider allowing the nonsuper-humans their chance to take a crack at things...

"Someone around here knows what you are, honey...I'm not going to take chances
...We need to know who's behind this..."

Tim agreed...This was the best time to get a look at things in the lab...Though why anyone
there would wish to harm Dr. Walthrop or old Ed...

Hmmn...Walthrop thought...Could just be they ran out of lead bullets...He noted to her...Guns
and ammo were not after all as readily available here as in good old Sunnydale...

The Riggs were coming over...Rather an odd couple, she towering more than a foot over
the frail little Lluweyan...BR noted...

Still...certainly no odder than a human-souled robot and a redeemed human-vampire...

"Deep in discussion of the mystery, Ms. Walthrop?..." Lluweyan asked her
with a faint smile...

"Anna and I were thinking that you might care to tour the Winset facility with us...
"

Oh...Well...If you're going over tomorrow...

"We were thinking perhaps right now..." the inspector smiled at her...

"As long as you were going yourselves..." Lluweyan added...

BR and Spike looked at each other...

***
The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part VII

While BR and Spike recovered from their surprise...It became Inspector Riggs' turn to be
surprised...

At the sight of young Tim...

However she recovered quite well, noted BR...Extending her hand...

"Mr...Fields?...I presume?..." she smiled at him and looked carefully at the
Walthrops...

"I believe we have something of yours..."

***
Lluwelyan seemed quite amused at the sudden turn of events...

Anna may have anticipated the Walthrops' desire to explore the Winset facility...

But they continued to have their little surprises...

***
Walthrop explained Tim's coming to them but advanced the date to the present evening...

They were of course planning to bring young Mr. Fields by in the morning...

"Of course..." Inspector Rigg noted sardonically...

Tim was rather too downcast by the news of Tim Jr's disassembled condition...Not to
mention the entry of Winset staff into the affair...To contradict "Dr." Walthrop...

They were not likely to be pleased with him come Monday...

"How did you know we were thinking of stopping by Winset?..." BR helpfully
changed the subject...

"Elementary..." Inspector Rigg smiled at her...
***
It was of course the logical next step, she noted...And her own desire...

To learn what was so important about the robot and its control unit that someone would
kill for it...

Perhaps, if the Walthrops would allow for a little professional help...They might pool their
skills...

Well...Spike reflected...So long as our interest in wooden bullets goes unmentioned...I
suppose it would be nice to have the police on our team...For once, a nice search
warrant, everything legit...

"We'd better wait one more hour..." the inspector noted... "The weekend
staff knocks off at eleven I understand..."

Hmmn...Spike thought...Wait for the staff to leave?...He eyed BR...

"Ummn...You do have a search warrant?..." BR asked her...

"Such a waste of time, my dear..." the inspector chuckled at her, head
shaking...Americans and their telly shows...

"Besides my dear Llu is magistrate hereabouts...He can clear things...If we
should happen to be apprehended..."

Dear Llu grinned...

Interesting couple thought Spike...

Certainly an improvement over Inspector Lestrade...
***
Lluwelyan agreed to keep the guard occupied...While the others slipped down the
special freight elevator Tim had used to bring up Tim Jr...

Fortunately Tim still had his key to the mechanism...

***

While the charming Mr. Rigg engaged the night guard at the gate in conversation
...BR, Walthrop, Inspector Rigg, and young Tim reached the concealed entrance to
the research sector elevator...

BR with a little help from Walthrop hoisted the heavy elevator cover quite deftly...
Bionetic limbs on the Mrs. Walthrop, Tim noted to the inspector...

Remarkable, she agreed...Just like that American TV show about the cyborg dog...
They descended...Lluwelyan continuing to point out some fascinating facts about the
night sky to the guard who though conscientiously scanning the main road was all too
anxious for a little company...

***

[Suggested theme-Unauthorized Access (A Shot in the Dark)]

The lab area was shrouded in darkness...Not a good thing for four people to be
stumbling around in, Spike realized as he crashed into a heavy table...

Tim groped to a light switch...

Lab equipment, some exam tables...The head of a freckled-face man on one...

BR yelped...

The inspector frowned at her...Obviously it was part of the robot which the Winset types had
taken back earlier that evening...

Buffy Rebecca nodded sheepishly...

Spike and Tim were examining the workbenches...No notes around, except for a brief
report by one of the engineers on the Tim robot they'd brought back...

Unsalvageable...It noted...To be scrapped for spare parts...

Tim sighed...They were really not going to be happy with him on Monday...Really not...

***
BR and Inspector Rigg exited the lab door to a larger room area...

Tim noting they had left them, warned Spike that they must not leave the section...
Alarmed past the larger lab...

He sent Tim after them...While he continued his examination of the workroom...

Fortunately they'd only begun to search the larger room...And the main exit door was clearly
marked as alarmed...

However they had a question for him...Had he ever seen that large box near the oxygen
tanks before?...

Probably a shipment of equipment he noted...Strange container though, all metal...

BR had found a laboratory log...And showed it to the inspector...

Who was regarding the large box...

"It is anything useful, miss?..." Tim asked hopefully...

"Is this the standard lab notebook, Tim?..." BR looked at him...Questioningly...

Yes, miss he told her...All daily results are noted in ones like that...Generally locked up at
the end of shift...

Some folks leave in a hurry, he guessed...

"You know, Mrs. Walthrop?...I don't believe this box contains equipment...
" the inspector noted to them... "Something inside it seems to be working right
now..."

BR put her ear to the metal box...Definite humming sound...

No way to open it...Hmmn...Right next to highly flammable and explosive tanks of
oxygen and gas...

"You don't suppose?..." she asked the inspector...

"I think, perhaps, we should consider leaving..." Inspector Rigg told her...

Tim was curious...Was there something wrong?...

No need to be nervous, Tim...BR told him, patting him on the shoulder...Lets just go
back to the doctor...And back up above ground...

Before this thing goes off...she did not say...

They collected "Dr." Walthrop and BR quietly explained why a return to the
surface might be a wise precaution...

Besides they had some useful information in the log book...Probably all they could get
without going into the other areas...Triggering the alarmed doors...

They took the elevator back up...Tim noted the others seemed a bit...Nervous...

Had she found anything useful in that log book?...he asked Buffy Rebecca...

"Possibly, Tim..." she smiled at him, and looked nervously at Spike...

"How long is this thing going to take to reach the surface?..."

It'll be fine, dear...

She's a little nervous about our getting caught...He told Tim smiling...As he took her
hand and nervously crushed it in his...Putting his arm around her...She felt it trembling...

God, not now...Not so soon...In the middle of their honeymoon...

She put her head on his shoulder...

Affectionate couple...Tim noted pleasantly to the inspector...Who smiled at them and
nodded...They reached the surface...BR grabbed Tim and they all broke into a run for
the guard's booth...

Where Lluwelyan and the guard were engaged in thoughtful musing on the nature of the
universe...

"Just a minute..." the guard called to the group running from the plant area
as they passed his booth, the inspector grabbing her little husband and calling to the
guard to follow them...

"See here now...Where's the ...."

A tremendous explosion from behind answered his question...
***

The blast rocked the area to its foundations...

The whole factory had gone up...But BR had no doubt where the epicenter of the
explosion had been...

The underground research center lab and offices...

***

Spike was rather relieved that they had not continued deeper into the underground
research center as they'd planned...Another ten minutes delay and they'd have been
part of the landscape...

Tim was perhaps a hair relieved as he recovered from the shock...

Surely his little escapade with Tim Jr would vanish into insignificance by comparison...

Spike was none the worst for wear...BR thankfully noted...

Lluwelyan had been nicked in the legs by a little shrapnel blown from the plant...But
was more shaken up by his wife's frantic manhandling...As she carried him off to safety...

Whatever little sexual problems their relationship might have they were truly a loving
couple BR noted...

Equally evidenced by the inspector's grim determination to return immediately to the
blast area and find out whatever she could once Lluwelyan and the shaken Tim were
settled...

BR had persuaded her not to take any immediate action regarding Tim...After all
someone else must be involved in the explosion...However much her suspicions
might be focusing on him...

She agreed...Once secured in hospital, Tim was safe and could be dealt with later...

But she wanted to know who had tried to kill them...Whether with intent or no...

"I don't take well to personal attacks on mine...Like you, Mrs Walthrop...
" she noted...As they waited for the cars coming up from town...

She's got the same expression you wore the night you found me at Xortox...Buffy
Rebecca told Spike quietly, smiling at him...

"I thought you were out of it then?..." he asked her... "You remember
that night?..."

"I was out of it...But I remember every minute..." she patted his hand...

Might have given us a little more help at the time then, dear...Spike did not say...

Still...old Sis might have been lost if your soul weren't around...I guess it did work out
for the best...

***

The Adventure of the Freckled Man ...Part VIII

Several of Inspector Rigg's men arrived with the cars from town...

None seemed very surprised to find her there...BR noted...

Guess they're used to the boss getting into the thick of things, she observed to Spike...

***
The inspector arranged for her husband and young Tim to be taken to the town infirmary...

And gave special instructions to two of her men regarding the care of Mr. Fields...

He felt fine, Tim told BR...Couldn't he stay with them?...She pointed out to him that
he'd been rather bounced around by the blast and should take it easy...

Further the inspector was obviously anxious to keep him safe...He'd do best to follow her
men's instructions...She and the doctor would be by shortly...

In the meantime, anything he could think of...That he'd seen at the plant either tonight or
previously...To throw light on why someone had just blown the place sky high...Would
be very useful...

"I'll do my best, miss..." he told her...

Inspector Rigg watched carefully as he and her husband were taken back...Along with one
very shaken and incoherent guard...

Fortunately no one would be bringing up the Riggs' and Walthrops' little sojourn to the
factory until morning at least...

***

"Are you two up for one more look round?..." she asked Spike and Buffy
Rebecca with a smile...

Weell...Actually...But since I know I can't stop her...him...from going they each thought...

***
Above ground the damage was not that bad...Fortunately a good deal of bedrock and
earth had contained the explosion to some extent...

Which explained their survival...

Underground, however...Ruins...Burning rather well wherever some air reached the flames...

Not a chance of getting back down before the fires were put out...

And given the fire equipment on hand...Plus the long delay equipment from the nearest city
would have...

BR considered...She didn't need to breathe per se...However she could catch fire, suffer heat
damage...Melt...And burning most of her skin off as a side effect was not an experience she
relished, having done it once before...

Besides she was afraid of fire...Childhood memories of a fire at home...

Spike was relieved to learn she had decided to hold off on another underground expedition...

Fire bad...Summed up his opinions on the subject...Very bad...

Vampiral memories of a fire that nearly killed him and Drusilla in Prague...
***

They were down to two days...

Well, less than that actually...They were bound for Germany the next afternoon...

The inspector had agreed reluctantly after a bit more of a search above ground that nothing
more could be done at the Winset plant for the moment...They'd agreed to check in with her
the next morning...

There seemed to be an unspoken agreement as to saying nothing to other authorities about
their presence at the plant just before the explosion...

But what more could they do?...Spike asked BR...Who hated the thought of closing the book
prematurely...Leaving Tim with the inspector and calling it quits...

And was still certain that her William was in danger...From someone who knew what he or
she...Or it...Was dealing with...

Wait...She called up the log book in her supplemental memory where she had carefully
stored every page she'd had time to look over before surrendering it to the inspector...

She looked at Spike...What was his name?...she asked...

Ummn...Darling?...He wondered if Buffy Anne back home might have Warren's fiancee's phone
number available...

He was sensitive regarding and constantly worrying about Buffy Rebecca's memory...Having
witnessed it crumble apart once...

"His name, Spike?...You know...Count Likes-Limbless Women?...At your little demo
session...Ididn't store it in my sm..."

Oh...Him...Vitachi...Count Salome...er Salcome Vitachi...The Missus' respectful admirer...

"There was a Dr. S. V. referred to in the log...He came by to check on status of their
latest project the day before we had our meeting in Glasgow..." she grinned
triumphantly at him...

Count Vitachi...Gracious and charming...A fellow cybernetics expert...

Who had kept them at the demo site a good extra hour and an half...Being graciously
charming to the Missus...

Plenty of time for an operative to get into position in town and wait for the eminent
"cybergenius'" return...

***
BR contacted Buffy by computer and satellite link...She having arranged to keep Giles'
system with her a few days to allow video...The sisters being anxious to see each other
...And Buffy being anxious to see that her brother-in-law was indeed recovering well...

She was relieved to hear and see that the good doctor had fully recovered and laconically
told BR that Warren had returned...Rather more quickly than expected...

Pity, wasn't it?...Guess Katrina had decided things just wouldn't work out...

A pity...BR sighed, grinning at Spike...Dear 'dad' must be in grave need of comfort...

I wouldn't say that, Buffy told her...As a matter of fact...He was right here...

Why, sis...She looked at "Dr." Walthrop who gave a thumbs-up...

Talking with an old friend...Buffy told her...

Oh?...Was Angel getting to complete his visit at last?...

No...A Mr. Riley Finn...Who'd just come up from a fascinating time in Belize...

And who was rather floored by the incredible stories of the past two months...

Not that his tales weren't of interest, of course...

And speaking of Angel...He was coming up tomorrow for the weekend...

Why, sis...BR grinned at Spike wickedly...Welcome to Shangri-La...

Not wanting to interrupt Buf's idyll...And definitely wanting to hear more...But could she
speak to 'Dad' for a bit?...A request and some technical questions...
***

Warren greeted them warmly...

Though from his slight disconcert he was vaguely uneasy about something...

Someone, BR hoped...

As a loving daughter she naturally pulled for dear old "dad"...And was a bit
miffed yet at Riley...Who had certainly taken his time...

She clucked sympathetically to Warren regarding Katrina...

For the best, she hoped...Though she understood how he felt...

But...Consequences of the sexbot business, she teased him...Spike looked at her...
Bit rough, dear?...Good old Warren...Wasn't really his fault...Well...I mean, post-April
anyway...

'Dad' can take it...Ummn right, 'dad'?...She assured Warren she really was just kidding...

No problem...Deserved, he admitted...

Not all women were as tolerant and understanding of such things as she and her sis...
BR went on...

Hmmn...Tolerance...Understanding...Like the time Buffy nearly tolerated me to death
...Warren noted...Smiling at the human Buffy in view of the camera who grinned
sheepishly...

Anyway, to business...

They knew it was a strain but could the meetings in Germany possibly be put off?
...Given the fact that the Scotland meeting had gone so well...

They needed to go directly to Italy...And spend a few days in Florence before attending
the conference of cybernetics manufacturers in Milan...

A visit to pay...Having to do with the other family business...

***
Considering the fact that their success had given the company enough work for the next
two years, Warren thought they could possibly put the Germany meetings back a week
or two...

"Dr." Walthrop had earned his title and then some...As had "Dr."
Summers-Walthrop...

Well...Just doing their bit...The junior "king" and "queen" of
cybernetics grinned at the camera...

But...BR moved on to her questions...

" 'Dad'...Do you know of a Dr....Salcome Vitachi?...A count no less...Italian,
middle-aged?..."

He did...A cybernetist of some reputation...He was on the board of the European Union
combine they signed with the other day...

"Any reason he might be working in England...Here as a matter of fact..."

In the modern Europe, with such a large integrated economy...And it was a Union combine...

Hmmn...How's about a company called Winset?...Any reputation among cybernetists?...

New in the field, some talk of major efforts to break into the field...Their place was near
where they were staying, actually...

"Was...Is the key word...The plant blew up last night..." BR told him...

Hmmn...A long sigh...Warren supposed they were in the middle of it...As always...

Elementary...
***

She asked a few questions about microwave transmitters and programming parameters...

How small could a microwave transmitter...Say capable of sending very basic commands
to a robot...Be?...

Ever see those little toy remote control cars kids play with?...Warren asked her...

Programming?...Well...She might remember he wasn't really all that good with computer
programming...Perhaps Willow...

Well, in the case of a robot...She'd...Well...Buffy, in April's case...seen Warren's two
programmed robots...April and Buffy-April in action, not to mention old Ted...

Quite a feat that Ted, Warren noted...Buffy had described it to him once, asking about BR's
artificial brain...Would have loved to see it in action...Able to act on its own...

Yeah, a triumph...Well...

Of course...Warren added nervously...She understood...She wasn't programmed...

Any way she'd learned beyond all doubt...She had a human soul...A human, if artificial,
brain...

Don't sweat it, 'dad'...she told him...This isn't about me...

"Dr." Walthrop was as relieved as his partner to hear that...The conversation
had been taking a distinctly uncomfortable turn...Raising strong guilt feelings...Though all
had worked out for the best...

Could an emotional response be programmed into a robot?...She asked...Say an angry
response...Or an affectionate one...That functioned without warning...Like a normal human
response...Fear to danger...Affection to kind treatment...Anger to abuse...

Well...Warren pondered...Depending on the complexity of the program...A response loop
was easy to create...But to give it a genuine touch, believability...Would take a lot of
computer capacity to allow for the proper nuances...

And a first-rate programmer?...

Definitely...If the response was to be convincing...If not, a twelve year old could program a
computer to make seemingly emotional responses to certain questions and situations...

Hmmn...

She let Spike speak to Warren and co for a bit then settled in for a long chat with her sis...

As to the merits of her three suitors...

***
The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part IX

Things finally having settled down for the moment, Buffy Rebecca decides to grab some time
in the biotank...

However, it being a fairly large structure...She noted to Spike...There's no reason...The
honeymoon couldn't continue...

Besides...Warren'd told him once it would help with his hair...

The eminent "cybergenius" did not need to be invited twice...He'd fantasized
about joining BR in the tank since the first night she'd clambered out of it...

"What is it about my hair?..." he asked as he helped her in...And followed...

"Ow!...Watch it there, honey..." BR yelped...

"Sorry...Yeech!..." Spike felt the biogel goop... "You might have warned
me the glop was on the cool side now, dear..."

"It'll warm in a bit, honey...Especially...With two of us..." she grinned at him...

She pulled him by her side...Then looked up...

"Spike!...Close the lid!...I don't want to be on display, thank you..."

"Sorry, sorry..." He pulled the lid down on them...Fortunately Warren had
provided a light since the first days...

Surprisingly not all that hard to undress...But then she'd become quite adept at working
in the tank...

"You know...We don't have to tell Sis about this...She might find it a little..." And
being Buffy, Buffy Rebecca should know...

"Certainly dear..."...Hmmn?...

What was she telling Buffy about their honeymoon?...And married life?...He wondered...

A slightly tight fit but quite pleasant once one got used to the slimy goop biogel...

Yes, all in all quite...

Pleasant...

***
Mrs. McGregor interrupted the Walthrops' all too brief idyll...

Knocking discretely on the tank lid...She'd noticed they weren't in their room...Noted the
tank lights were blinking and assumed...They were doing what probably came naturally to
Californians...

The inspector was calling for them...It seemed there was a slight problem...

During the early morning hours after her men had left...Young Mr. Fields had decided to
leave the infirmary and head across the fields on foot...

Don't say it...Spike thought, looking at Buffy Rebecca...He's not...

Heading out onto the moors...Ms. McGregor finished...

It still being dark, the inspector was commencing a search...And hoped the Walthrops would
help...

Obviously the poor lad was frightened out of his wits...

"If you could just give us a second..." BR called to her through the tank lid
..."We'll be up in a few minutes..."

She couldn't help grinning at Spike...

Moors...So romantic...So....

Holmesian...

What a great honeymoon...

Now if only they could manage to get lost out there for a little while...Once they were sure
Tim was safely back in hand of course...

***
They had joined Inspector Rigg and her team...At the edge of the dank moors...Into which
poor frightened Tim had apparently disappeared...

"Why would he have run off, Ms. Walthrop?..." the inspector asked her...
"Do you think?..."

"I think all that's going on left him frightened...And he must have realized he was the
prime suspect right now...Not to mention very likely in the sights of whoever blew up the
plant...We shouldn't have left him...I should have guessed he'd react like this..."

"Poor fellow..." Spike reflected... "Must be terrified..."

BR patted him on the shoulder... "We'll find your disciple, William..."

The dogs just brought in were reacting rather strangely to the eminent
"cybergenius'" presence, BR noted...

She suggested that she and the good doctor head out in front...See if perhaps Tim would
listen to reason from them...

"It's rather dangerous out there, miss...'Specially if you don't know the
area..." One of the cops holding the dogs told her...

"Can't understand what's with the old girls..." he noted to his assistant as the
dogs jumped around in panic, barely responding to their commands...

Spike followed the Missus' advice and backed off a distance...The dogs calmed a bit...

Buffy Rebecca assured the inspector that she and "Dr." Walthrop would be
careful...After all, bionetic limbs on the Missus...

The inspector agreed to have her team follow at a respectable distance...

***

She's loving this...Spike noted...As they hiked deeper and deeper into the moors...

Full moon, dark forbidding moors, mysterious menace...So romantic...

He on the other hand was nervously looking...feeling rather, in this darkness...for quicksand
and bottomless pits of bog...Not to mention the occasional hell hound, werewolf, vampire
...And of course, unknown assassin...

Here he was, at four o'clock in the morning...Staggering through muck and briers...

Just when he and she were finally getting caught up on the truly important business of
their honeymoon...

When he caught up to that little freckle-faced idiot of theirs...
***

"Tim!...Timothy Fields!..." Buffy Rebecca hollered...Pressing on ahead of the
hubs...Though even she could only move so fast in this muck-riddled landscape...

An hour of searching through the romantic moors had begun to cure her of her enthusiasm
...Her clothes were ruined, her hair was a wreck, and the clouds obscuring the full moon
were clearly ready to start pouring down on them at any minute...

Still...Her main complaint was that she and the Mister couldn't have the place to themselves
...Inspector Rigg, her men, and the howling dogs were clearly not going to leave them
until Tim was found...

Hmmn...Say...She could barely hear the dogs now...She'd pulled pretty well ahead of
Spike...And realized suddenly that she was losing her way...

Pity Warren couldn't have included an onboard navigation system...At least a compass...

No, all he gave her was the old sm and freaking musical ability...If he had to give Buffy
Summers a robot body why couldn't...Wait...The good old supplemental memory...A
perfect recollection of the way back available on demand...

Except of course one way back looked just as good as another...

Whop...Down she went into a sinkhole...She clambered out...More lost than ever...

"Spike!?..." She hollered, nervous now...Where was that idiot husband of
hers, anyway?...What ever happened to those super senses vampires were supposed
to have?...

It started to rain...

"Spike!..." Well it was, after all, not his fault...

"Timothy!..."

When she caught up to that little freckle-faced moron...

Some honeymoon...Well...All she could say was...There better damned well be a real
threat to William...

Sorry as she might be for poor murdered Edward...If this was all just some nonsensical
ruthlessness on the part of some idiot business competitor...

What was that howling in the distance that didn't sound like the dogs?...

Nope...Not the howl of an anxious vampire husband...

But nothing the Greatest Slayer of All Time couldn't handle...Surely not...

The next howl was closer...

"Spike!..." she hollered...Goddamn you Walthrop, where's your Victorian
chivalry?...Why did you let me run off like this?...

"Anybody?!..."

Another howl...Yet closer...

She turned and began moving in what she sincerely hoped was the opposite direction
...Slipping and falling as she did so...

"Spike!!!..."

Lousy stinking rotten British countryside...Our next vacation is going to be a hotel room
in Los Angeles...

***

Walthrop gratefully accepted the proffered cups of coffee from the officers who had caught
up to him...And young Tim...

"Tim, lad...It was damned foolish of you to run off like that...What did you expect the
inspector here would think?..." Spike was addressing his sheepish protege...Who
had given himself up to him a few moments before...While slogging back towards the
town, having realized he admitted, it was rather a foolish thing to do...Clearing out like that...

Spike suggested the inspector have the upset dogs pulled back a bit...Rather too near
the object of their hunt...

Inspector Rigg instructed her men while continuing to frown at Tim...Not the night for
this sort of foolishness my boy...

"Sorry, miss...er Inspector..." Tim said, apologetically...While pulling the blanket
an officer had provided him around his shoulders...

"Well..." Spike sighed, looking at the inspector... "Alls well that ends well
..." He drank his coffee contentedly...

The Missus would be pleased to hear things had worked out so well when she returned...

The inspector nodded...Best to head back and settle things in the morning...If young
Timothy could be trusted to stay put...

He nodded...Just a touch of nerves...He'd follow her instructions from now on...

Indeed he would the inspector told him...However, to be fair...She hadn't ordered him to
stay in the infirmary...

Perhaps, if the doctor and Mrs. Walthrop wouldn't mind...He could go back to his room with
them for what remained of the night...

No doubt they were all likely to be sleeping in a bit today...

"By the way, Dr. Walthrop...Where is Mrs.Walthrop?..."

Coming right along he assured her...She had probably just made a longer sweep before
turning back...

She was sure to be back with them before they'd finished their coffee and packed up...

Well...Was he sure?...It was dangerous out there...In this rain...

Nothing the Missus couldn't handle...After all it wasn't like the "Hound of the
Baskervilles " was lurking out there...

[Suggested theme-"It's not like the Hound of the Baskervilles is out there..." (Bad Moon Rising)]

***
The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part X

Perhaps...Walthrop told the inspector after her men had packed up and another half-hour
had passed...Staring out at the rain-swept moors from the canopy the cops had erected
near the cars...

They should check after the Missus a bit...Just in case she'd gotten herself lost...

***

Mrs. Summers-Walthrop was indeed lost...However that was not her primary concern just
at this time...

The howling whatever-it-was...Closing in slowly on her...Wherever she was...That was
her primary concern...

Maybe...Maybe it's good old Oz...She thought irrationally...Maybe Willow asked him to
fly out to England and check up on us and...

Yeah...Right...

Besides...She had nothing to worry about...What could it do, at the very most?...Rip off
her skin and surface musculature...She'd had that done to her before...By Glory...A little
incredible agony and...

"Spike!!!!..." she screamed...

Dammit Walthrop, you're always trying to play the hero...Where the hell are you?...

She tried to calm down and sought to sense what it was...If she could...

***

Spike, Tim, Inspector Rigg, and a few of her remaining men were now combing through the
moors once again...Spike getting increasingly nervous...

Tim was first to hear the faint howls...

"Dr. Walthrop, sir...Did you hear that?..."

Spike indeed had...And moved in that direction as quickly as he could...

***
It leaped out at her...Large, dark...but somehow...Familiar...

Oh my God...

She whacked poor Oz unconscious just as he reached her...

Unless of course she missed her guess...But she seriously doubted there were two
werewolves who looked so much alike...

Oz...What the hell was Oz doing here?...

She picked him up and carried him carefully in what she hoped was the right direction back
towards town...

After walking about a mile she began hearing the yells of Spike and the others...And
placed Oz in a small recess in some rocks...

Much as she hated leaving him out in the rain...She thought it was better that he not meet
the inspector and her men in his present state...

***
"Spike!..." she ran into his arms...

"Where the hell where you?..." she'd of whacked him one, but noted the
presence of the inspector...And the object of their search, young Tim...

"Tim...I am so annoyed with you..." she told him...

Tim nervously looked at the ground...

"Darling you look like hell..." Spike told her, graciously... "But what was
that we heard out here?..."

"Heard?..." she asked him, brightly as she could...Mud-caked, soaked, and
trembling with cold as she was...

Fortunately the inspector suggested they continue their questions after getting poor Mrs.
Walthrop somewhere warm and dry...

***
The inspector took the Walthrops and Tim back to their inn...Spike getting the Missus to
a hot bath as quickly as possible...

After this past night's activities...Buffy would very likely be on the way to a case of double
pneumonia...So Buffy Rebecca would...

After requesting Tim's presence next afternoon at the station, the inspector bade them a
very weary good night...

***
After Spike secured Tim for the night in his room...And secured his promise of good
behavior...BR told him from her tub about Oz...

Could he possibly be a lamb and bring the poor guy in?...Before he caught his death out
there...Or tore somebody to pieces...

"You're sure it's Oz?..." Spike asked her...

Well...They could try the computer/satellite link to check...But if whoever it was woke up
and started roaming again...

Spike agreed to fetch whoever it was in...After all, as a former condemned soul he naturally
sympathized with a comrade...And it was a terrible night to be out...

Besides...He couldn't very well refuse poor Buffy Rebecca after her rough night...

***

It was indeed Oz...Who kindly had remained unconscious until the moon went down and he
reverted...

He'd come to England to seek guidance from the Watchers' Council...Oz told BR...Well,
actually his band was touring there anyway...But he'd taken advantage of the opportunity...

Thinking that way he could not only strengthen his control but also keep abreast of events
back home with the gang...And Willow...

Learning at the Council about the new Buffy, Spike's redemption, and the battle with Dru
...He naturally called back home and asked if he could help in any way...So long as he
was available...

And as BR had somehow guessed...Willow had asked him...So long as he was heading
up to Scotland with his band...To check in on the honeymooners...Given the attempt that
had been made on the eminent "Dr." Walthrop...

***
He had caught the flu, Oz told her...Always causing some degree of loss of the control
he'd so carefully developed...

He tried to lock himself in that night but...Unfortunately...

Fortunately he'd managed to direct himself away from town and into the nearby moors...A
natural haunt for a werewolf anyway...

Luckily for him...And any potential victim...He'd met up with her...

He grinned...She really was everything Willow had said...A perfect copy of Buffy...

Miracle of modern science, she grinned back...And had he ever expected?...Spike and
her?...

Actually, he told them...That and news of Spike's redemption didn't throw him nearly so
much as hearing that Xander had been Spike's best man...And that Angel had...Quite
gladly...Attended their wedding...Now that had thrown him...

"I'm so glad you're here, Oz...And thank God you weren't hurt..." BR told him...

Sniffling a bit...

An anxious Walthrop went to get her tea...

Oz watched him, and grinned, leaning over to BR..."Ok...Who's that
and what have you done with our Spike?..."

She laughed, coughing a bit...

Buffy would be ill, so....She explained...

***
The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part XI

Back when he was a deadly nemesis and killer vampire "Dr." Walthrop aka
Spike reflected...He never would have hesitated...To accept Buffy Rebecca's invitation
to continue their honeymooning in her biotank...Their latest guest, dear Oz, needing a
place to sleep after his...And their...Exhausting night...And young Tim's room being too
small...

However...Concerned and loving husband "Dr." Walthrop somehow couldn't
...She was, sweet lamb, developing such a terrible "cold" after her night on
the moors...And needed a decent sleep...And he doubted she'd get it with him in there
as well...

Disappointed...Frustrated...Annoyed..He couldn't resist happily noting...as she seemed
to be...

Still...In fairness to old Spike...Grumbling within...He had to admit that he'd have done the
same for poor Drusilla...

Besides when you added coughing and sneezing to BR's Buffy-inherited natural snoring...
***

For her part, though she actually was bitterly disappointed...Quite frustrated...Extremely
annoyed...By yet another honeymoon interruption...BR remembered Warren's warning that
her blood supply had no immune system...It could get infected...And any bug growing in her
synthetic blood might well be passed on to the hubs...Until her system had had a few hours
to break down the components and regenerate them...

Great...Him in bed...A vampire with the flu...Probably pneumonia...Or worse...For the duration
of their honeymoon...Maybe the two of them off to the hospital...No, thank you...

So...Reluctantly...Very reluctantly...She consented to Spike staying in their room...With their
latest guest...While she hit the glop...Well, at least with a hubs-provided hot cup of tea...

Stinking lousy rotten English/Scottish moors...Idiot &#%!! freckled faced hero worshiping
moron...&%#!!!...She exclaimed to Walthrop through the tank...Much as she appreciated the
tea...

The ummn...Sweet angel of my desire...Thought "Dr." Walthrop...

Well, poor kid has had a rough time...Hate to see her losing her romantic enthusiasms...
I'll have to come up with something special...

Maybe that mysterious assassin could be persuaded to try another shot...She could save
me again and...

Well...maybe just some roses...

All she knew was...She continued through the tank lid...The Greatest Slayer of All Time had
better damned well get to properly...(Hack, cough)...Enjoy some of her honeymoon...Or
there'll be hell to be pay...Hell...To...Pay...Ka-choo!!...

Warren and his drive for authenticity...

God bless...Good night, dear...Go to sleep...

Hey?!...No hug?...No kiss?...Geesch...Whatever happened to waiting for me for all
eternity?...

Some honeymoon...

Spike pointed out that he was waiting...Patiently...Besides...

"You have to unlock the tank lid, dear..."

Oh...Right...

She unlocked the lid...

She didn't mean to suggest she was mad at him...It was just...Ka-choo!!!...A truly robotic
Slayer's sneeze...Oops...Sorry...Didn't mean to whang the lid at him...

God bless, dear heart...Give us a kiss...

Not that she wasn't glad to meet up with dear Oz...Sniffle...Make sure he's had a hot bath
and dried off...

Ok...Go to sleep...

And please tell Tim...She wasn't really mad...Just...You know...

You're going to make a wonderful mom, Rebecca...Spike told her...As he closed the lid
gently...

He could feel her beaming through the lid...

"William...That was the nicest thing to say..." she called happily...Sneezing
and hacking...

So sweet when he calls me Rebecca...Not that I want to give up my Buffy...

Just...sweet...Especially here in dear old England...er Scotland...er Britain... A fitting place
to be called Rebecca...she thought...

"Oh...William?...You'll come down if you have any more remorse-mares?..." she
called...

Psychologist-in-training Buffy Rebecca has a unique case study in progress...And a
healthy fear of suicidal remorse on the part of her husband...

"Spike will leave me be tonight I think...But any teeth-chattering and anguished
howls just outside the tank you hear will be me..." he told her...

"Good night, my Bride of Warrenstein..."

" 'Night, Throp...And you too, Spike...You demon from hell, you..."

Poor Will...Tough on him, too...She thought as she fell asleep...Well, we'll catch up in Italy...

Or else...

***

Due to the change in travel plans the Walthrops had one extra day in Great Britain...

And so were able to head over to the police station later that afternoon to see the inspector
...And her little husband who'd recovered from his minor injuries in the Winset blast...

With Oz...Who was intrigued by BR's tales of the Riggs...As well as the whole mystery...

But somehow...Buffy Rebecca sensed... More by her description of the apparently happy
and loving relationship the Riggs had managed to fashion for themselves...In spite of
some minor problems...

After all...If things didn't work out for Willow and Tara on a permanent basis...

***

In the office, Tim seemed to be actively searching for the book that he nervously expected
was to be thrown at him...

And was extremely glad that they'd come...He having followed the inspector's orders and
presented himself promptly at noon...

***
The inspector and her little husband were pleased to see that Buffy Rebecca looked well
after her little night excursion...Californian health regimens Inspector Rigg supposed...

"Dr." Walthrop inquired as to Lluwelyan's condition...Quite well, thank you...

The Walthrops with Oz...Old friend from America visiting in England who'd come to check on
them after hearing of the doctor's little incident, BR told the Riggs...had come to speak
about and for Tim...

BR pointed out to the inspector that even if Tim could possibly be involved in young Ed's
death, there was still the matter of the attempt on her husband...And described what they'd
learned about Dr. and Count Vitachi and his possible role...

The inspector explained that she hadn't charged Tim...And given the circumstances...

"And if we agree to be responsible for him?...Until the investigation is completed at
least?"

The inspector considered...

"Normally I would prefer that a potential suspect not leave the area, let alone the
country...But this is an unusual situation..." She glanced at the nervous Timothy
... "I believe the local magistrate could be persuaded to accept such an arrangement
...Provided..." she smiled at Lluwelyan...

"Our friend remain under a degree of police supervision..."

Oh...BR looked at Tim...Who looked rather crestfallen...

"We were hoping to bring him with us..." Walthrop began...

"Oh you may doctor...However...I think our friend should have some police
supervision and protection...And I hardly think that you and Mrs. Walthrop should
be attempting to confront whoever made an attempt on your life by yourselves..."

Ummn?...

"You were heading to Florence, I believe..."

They nodded...

"Lluwelyan and I have a house there...Just outside the city...We vacation there
every summer..." she smiled as did Lluwelyan...

They were happy to offer its use to them and were quite free to join them, Inspector
Rigg noted...

Strictly in an unofficial capacity, of course...With the exception of maintaining a watch
on young Tim...

She was rather interested in meeting Dr. Vitachi herself, the inspector noted...Grimly...

Hmmn...She did say she resented attacks on her family, BR thought...

Tuscan villa?...Hmmn...Thought Oz...Who, having four days off-tour was accompanying
his friends to Florence...Never hurts to have a little back-up...And as long as the Council of
Watchers, desperately anxious to get in BR's and Buffy's good graces, was paying their
way...

Besides Buffy Rebecca couldn't leave poor Oz alone in Britain with the flu...

Yeah...A villa in Tuscany...Sounds good to me...Oz thought...

More company...How jolly, thought BR...In despair...Looking at Spike...

Geesh...He looks a little pale, she thought...After all that blood loss the other night...
Almost no sleep last night...No wonder...

He looked back sympathetically...We do have eternity, dear...

"You need to go to the men's room..." she hissed to him, after slidling over
...And surreptiously slipping a blood packet into his hand...Hugging him...Tightly...To
cover...

Well, partly to cover...Honeymooners here after all...

"My pale cheeks are just a reflection of my longing for you, sweet..." he
whispered back...And headed off...

Every now and then...Buffy Rebecca thought happily...He really manages to get it right...It's
gotta be the poet in him...

"Honeymooners..." Oz nodded at the Riggs...All of them noting the rather
elaborate send-off for a trip to the bathroom...

"A beautiful thing...Love..." Tim noted...

***
The Walthrops agreed, with thanks, to accept the Riggs' gracious invitation...

And the pleasure of their company...

"Well..." Lluwelyan said... "As we have settled on a joint holiday...Why
don't we start tomorrow night...With a meal and some farewell dance at Jack's Pub..."
He smiled at the Walthrops...

"We might find we appreciated the chance to relax a little beforehand..."

They agreed to meet at the pub tomorrow night...Allowing for one night's decent rest...

Hmmn...BR thought, a little more happily...As the Riggs went into the other room to fetch
some materials on their home's location, Florence, etc...And some paperwork regarding
the past few days' events...A free night...She glanced at the hubs...Oz and Tim now had
their rooms all set...At last, a decent night's honeymo...KACHOO!!!...She exploded in
sneeze...Startling herself and them all...A truly robotic Slayer's sneeze...

A full night's decent rest...Walthrop told her...In your tank...

She sniffled a bit...Looking at him...The tank?...(Cough)...Again?...

They'd have time to disassemble it tomorrow...he told her...

Rats...In fact...#$%&!!...

And of course dinner tonight would include Oz and Tim as table companions...Great...

Not that she didn't love Oz...Or was still mad at Tim...But...Gee whiz...

Some honeymoon...She complained quietly...Just to him...While Oz and Tim were filling out
some forms the Inspector had brought out for them...

He'd be around...he assured her...Sleep right by the tank...And if by any chance, she felt
...Better...

Good man...She told him...But, she sighed...He'd better just check in on her...The
basement was too dank to sleep in...

Worse than any of his past crypts...

After all she didn't want him sick too...

Rats...#$%&ing...Rats...

***

"Am I...Cleared?..." Tim asked BR as they prepared to head back to their inn...

"Not exactly, Tim...But the inspector will allow you to come with us...And she'll see
to it that you're protected..." she told him...

"But...Not more running off.."

No Miss...He assured her...

"I just hope no one thinks...Badly of me..." Tim reflected...

"I never did get to ask you, Tim...Did you kill Edward?..." BR regarded him
...Pleasantly...

"Miss?..." he looked at her, startled...

Oz looked at her and Tim...Walthrop had gone off with the inspector...Who required a little
paperwork from the near victim of an assassin...

"Sorry, Tim...Had to ask, you know..." BR looked at Tim...And smiled...

***

The Adventure of the Freckled Man...Part XII

Walthrop, with Oz, slipped out around ten the next am...Leaving Tim on solemn oath to
guard the Missus' tank...And requesting the McGregors to keep an eye on Tim...To take a
quick look-see at the remains of the Winset plant, scout the town quickly, and take care
of some important honeymoon business...

Oz, for his part, was rather fascinated by the new Spike, and curious...About Walthrop's
friend Warren and his theories of "infinite potential people in an infinite
universe"...After all, if there could be a potential Buffy for Spike...And Angel
...Somewhere out there...Maybe...

Maybe...Agreed Spike over breakfast at a small restaurant in town...But...He grinned at
Oz...You're young yet, lad...

Not that he of all people denied the existence of true love...Or that dear Red was not
someone eminently worth waiting all eternity for...

At least in one of her infinite potential forms...

***
Spike asked to stop by a little shop he'd noted the other day...Wanted to hunt up
something he'd seen...For the Missus...

It was amazing, Oz amusedly noted...How quickly "Dr." Walthrop had
gotten used to his new situation...Strolling happily about town in daylight, as if
he'd never spent a day in a crypt...A contented husband out shopping for his
sweet Missus...

Well on his way to becoming a little smug...The eminent "cybergenius"
exchanging greetings with the rather respectful local citizenry...

Playing Sherlock with his Missus...

Decked out in tweeds no less...

Was that a pipe in his jacket pocket?...

Well...One minute he himself had been a geek trying to scrape together a band, with
a shy red-headed computer nerd girlfriend...The next he'd found himself a werewolf
...with a damned great band at least, he noted...Struggling against the forces of darkness
with the Slayer and co...In hopeless love with a lesbian...well, bisexual...Hey, where
there's life there's hope...Wiccan of incredible power...

Things change...

Willow is right, though...

That Walthrop is one lucky bastard...

***
They found the Winset plant area roped off...Scotland Yard teams combing the area...

Inspector Rigg among them...Greeting them briefly...

They poked about a bit but realized it was hopeless to do much with so many police...

Spike suggested they not get involved...No need to attract the attention of the big boys...
Oz concurred...

These guys might actually expect Spike to know something specific about cybernetics...

They slipped back into town...

To Jack's...Favorite daytime hangout of the town lout crew, Walthrop noted...

***
"Doctor..." The bartender greeted Spike happily...

Wealthy naturalized Americans who buy for the house are usually greeted happily by
bartenders...

"Ay...Doc..." "Cheers there Doc..." "How goes the little
Missus?, doctor..." from assorted louts at hand...

Likewise by pub patrons...It goes without saying...

Well, Willow warned me I'd find things with the Walthrops quite surreal...Oz thought...

As he and Walthrop hoisted a few with the lads...And probed for any possible leads...

And by God, he is one happy man...Er...half-man?... Oz noted...

As is his lovely, loving lady...

Freaking...

And she sings too, Willow said...Like an angel...

If anyone had ever told me I'd one day envy Spike....

***

"So, doctor...Anything new on poor Ed?..." Largish lout, obviously now
considering himself Walthrop's bosom friend, asked...

"Afraid not...But as you can see...Scotland Yard is now on the case..."

"Freaking turds is what they are..." Largish noted... Several of the others
banged glass in approval...

"Truer words never spoken, Davy...Sure and we could do a better job of it
ourselves...Freaking turds...Damned Londoners..." Rumbles from the bench...

"Well, gentlemen...Supposing we were to seek young Edward's killer ourselves
...What would be your opinions as to where to start?..." Spike asked...

[Suggested theme-Scotland the Brave March]

"I don't know about the rest of you, mates...But as for me...I'd break a few heads
at the Winset place...Those fellows know what's what here, if you ask me..." One
greasy capped fellow told them...

More glass banging...

"Aye, Damn the bastards!...Blast them, damned murderers is what they is!...Good
old Ed is dead and these fellows put us off with their folderol...Bust heads is what they
need...."

Hmmn...Interesting as the thought of a horde of crazed, violent louts swarming over
the town is...

Walthrop pushed an eager demon down a bit...The Missus, Spike...The Missus would not
approve...Even if we did get something out of the Winset staff before their gruesome
deaths...

"Doctor...What's your opinion, sir?... Should we head over to Winset and shake
the truth out of those fellows?..." Largish turned to Walthrop...Who eyed Oz...
Who was getting quite a kick out of the scene...

William the Bloody, voice of reason...

Hmmn...Thought Spike...Never thought I might be leading the peasants' lynch mob...

"Now, lads..."

The pub patrons agreeing to abide by their friend the eminent scientist's feeling that a
cautious approach was best at present, he and Oz redirected the conversation back
towards a calmer discussion of the events to date...

***

The eminent "cybergenius" and his guest returned to the McGregors to find
Buffy Rebecca up and feeling infinitely better after her "beauty rest"...

To report no new news...Except that the Winset blast had attracted some high level
attention...

She was sharing a cuppa with Margaret McGregor...Who likewise had noted BR's rapid
recovery...

I must get Angus to put in one of those Californian bioregenerative tanks...she thought...

Tim?...Spike asked, a trifle anxious...

Disassembling the biotank with Mr. McGregor's fascinated assistance...BR told him...
After all they'd be taking it to Florence along with them tomorrow...

He decided to head down and lend his protege and host a hand...Leaving Oz to relate
the day's details...

Such an impressive and capable man, Dr. Walthrop...Ms. McGregor noted, listening to
Oz's story of Spike taming the wannabe mob of pub patrons...

More impressive than you could guess, BR thought, grinning at Oz...How William ever
managed to keep his demon from leading that mob to burn down the town...

Poor Spike...He really must have been foaming at the mouth...To have to
pass up all that lovely violence...

For me?...Buffy Rebecca thought...Well, 'course he enjoys his new status
Even if Will has most of the fun...Spike wouldn't want anything to
jeopardize it...Still...

Gee...For me?...She thought happily...

God, that is one Slayer in love thought Oz...Looking at her...

And I thought she had it bad with Angel...

***
That evening Oz and Tim accompanied the Walthrops back to the little town's favorite
hangout, Jack's...Now in family mode for dance night...

Where the Riggs awaited them at table...

"Any trouble with Scotland Yard, Inspector?..." Spike asked her, grinning...

She smiled back...Nothing she couldn't handle...Unfortunately nothing useful from their
efforts as yet either...

***

Dance...Old country dance... night at the pub...And BR, though still a little sniffy, was more
than ready to waltz on down...

[Suggested theme-Lochnagar]
Dragging a shy Tim along to the floor...Where one of the numerous young ladies quickly
claimed him as a partner...

An old English waltz...Walthrop swung her around the floor...

And at the first break presented the Missus with an antique bracelet he'd spotted in town
and bought while out with Oz that morning...To match the antique necklace, Dru's wedding
present, which BR now wore proudly as a gift from her dear friend, human Drusilla...

Now this is proper honeymooning, Buffy Rebecca noted to herself happily...

From the way she reacted you've of thought he had just returned home from Hell after
saving her family and the entire world...Oz noted to himself, sitting with
Mr. Rigg...

This Walthrop could handle...

Buffy Is Me Darlin'
***

"A most loving couple..." Lluwelyan smiled at Oz who watched the Walthrops
as they glided about the floor...

Oz nodded at the frail English gent...Very Giles...Including that dry sense of humor...
And only excepting that wife of his, the Inspector...Who was currently occupied at the bar
...Placing a drink order...And speaking to a rather comely young lady...

But then again, you could be sure anyone Giles hooked up with would likewise be sure to
be...Interesting...

"It's an amazing thing, love..." Lluwelyan went on...

You don't know the half of it, friend...Oz thought, nodding...Then again, on second thought,
looking at Anna at the bar...Well, maybe you do...

"I mean...To be capable of redeeming even William the Bloody..." he smiled at
Oz...

Ummn...

"William the Who?..." Oz asked brightly, grateful for the noise in the pub and the
fact their booth was in an isolated corner...

***

Lluwelyan explained his remarkable perceptive ability to Oz...

A Watcher...Retired due to poor health...But a Watcher still...And alerted by the Council
to watch over the Walthrops while they were in north Britain...

The Council had arranged for the Walthrops' stay at the McGregor castle inn...Across the
border from Little Wopping, the Riggs' home...

Though they had intended that Llu simply Observe...Circumstances had changed with
the attempt on Walthrop...

Actually he was rather pleased to be recalled to active duty...

Well, thought Oz, I thought he was very Giles...If Giles looked like John Hurt...

He and Anna...Well aware of his "side occupation"...Had decided it was best to
conceal his status until they either found a clue as to the nature of the assassin or the
right time came...

As they'd have a chance to work with the Walthrops in private in Florence, the right time had
come...And as they finally had a clue as to who might possibly be behind the attempt...

And of course, Rigg smiled, Giles having petitioned the Council to grant Spike a kind of
Watcher status...Spike?...BR's Watcher?...Oz thought...It was part of the process to have
an evaluation of his skills...By someone preferably not a family member, as Ms.
Walthrop-Hunt...Soon to be en route to Sunnydale as Watcher for Ms. Granger...Had been...

Well...Freaking...

Hmmn...Oz was curious...

"How's he doing?..."

"Oh, quite well...Amazingly well, really...Unorthodox methods, but...I myself have
always preferred the unorthodox..." Lluwelyan smiled...

Spike...William the Watcher...Well, he's already in uniform in those tweeds he wears...

"Are they really in danger?...Do you know anything else we don't?...About this fellow
Vitachi, for instance?..."

Lluwelyan shook his head...

"Nothing that they don't know...But I'm afraid we can assume they're in great
danger..."

He smiled... "But as their friend, you know, that's nothing new for either of
them..."

Anna returned to the table...Having waited for her husband to complete his revelations
to the Walthrop's friend...

"Well...Have you two had a good talk?..." she smiled at them...Arm about
little Llu...

"Uh-uh...When are you telling Spike and Buffy?..." Oz asked...He hadn't
quite gotten used to thinking of her as Buffy's sister yet...

"Oh, let them be a bit longer...Plenty of time..." Lluwelyan noted, watching
the Walthrops sliding happily about the floor...Not at all badly...

But one would hardly have judged them to be superhuman...

***

Read More
Go Back