The Tie That Binds...Part XIX

Leto, on the phone to Max, was pleased to hear that Theodore was following orders and happy to stay put...for now...

With the dear friends of the Slayers searching for Teddy, tonight might be the night his dreams came true...

Still, he would prefer it to happen when fewer than three Slayers were in the vicinity...

Timing, he thought...It's all in the timing...A minute could mean the difference between a secure peace, with Willow at his side, their union tolerated if not blessed by the Slayers themselves...Or a return to the hunted life of an obscure vamp...And possibly much worse...

Not unlike the time when as a human pol he'd gotten the siting of UC-Sunnydale on his brother-in-law's farmland through the state legislature...

All a matter of timing...

***
To their credit, Anya and Warren resisted the implacable Slayer's efforts to learn the truth with some degree of success...

Which Buffy quickly circumvented by calling her Watcher...Who folded on hearing Buffy insist that Warren and Anya had told all...And hearing her starting to tear up...

She was furious...Not to be told her best friend was in grave peril...That her sis had taken on the full job of dealing with the unknown enemy...With the "help" of Spike and Angel, well ok...help in Angel's case...

Who did they think they were dealing with?...Would a little thing like her recent death and the loss of both parents stop the Slayer?...

Well, ok...She understood the caution...But how could they think she could bear the thought of Willow lost and her not being allowed to lift a finger to save her?...

Warren pointed out that she could not risk storming out after Willow and Tara...If Willow caught on and they were unprepared for her attack...Or if she chose to disappear and joined her new "friend"...She was after all under the careful surveillance of Ms. Granger and Xander...Who at
least had some anti-spell protection...

Buffy reluctantly agreed that the situation called for caution...After all, Willow's abilities were becoming quite awesome...

However...Warren suggested...Maybe a little discreet extra observation...From a distance...Wouldn't hurt...He grinned...

She couldn't help smiling back...Warren was definitely showing "potential"...

Besides, her flare-up brought back guilty memories of when she'd tortured him to find BR's whereabouts...

***

Anya was charged with the grim task of holding back the awesome force of Dawn and Leroy who seemed to have learned everything via some kind of osmosis...

"I told you the red lady was sick..." Leroy proudly told Dawn...

"I should go, Buffy...Willow likes me..." Dawn pleaded... "And I'm the Key...Maybe I can help..."

The Slayer turned down the Key's gracious offer...Slayers outrank Keys...In the Summers' household...

Looking at Dawn's and Leroy's angry faces, Warren was quite relieved to be assigned to Slayer backup...

***

Angel watched his "grandson" the "cybergenius" from his post outside one exit of the Raven's Lair sympathetically...

He was as nervous as a young bride...groom...

And with good reason...BR's "fifteen" had come, gone, and come again several times...

Although they each had peeked inside through a small window once or twice to confirm she was still at the bar...And looked unharmed as yet...

Angel himself was getting worried...Although he trusted in Buffy's...er...Buffy Rebecca's abilities...

Clearly something important was up inside to hold her there...

***

In fact, a show was up...

A play rather...now that the club's rather exclusive clientele had gathered...And one or two non-thralled human "slummers" been politely urged to head home...

No one bothered the young lady obviously in thrall at the bar...A courtesy kind of thing among vamps...And even with the peace...old habits die hard...

A saga was unfolding on the Raven's Hair stage...A tale of an innocent young fellow, recently granted the gift of immortality by a kindly older gentleman...Strolling through a certain small California town by night, feeling the lure of his new and amazing abilities...Peaceably
munching...on a small creature thrown his way...

When suddenly, without warning...A blonde fiend appears in female form...Hysterical, yelling, vowing death to the undead...Offering bizarre and sadistic "deals"...Backed up by a squad of strange, leering goons...Two males and three females, more or less human...Cracking sadistic jokes... And even supported by, horrifying to say...A fellow vampire...

Enslaved by their fiendish magic, no doubt...

The poor confused young innocent never has a chance...A sad end...

A cautionary tale...A little peace propaganda...

Watching the play as well as Theodore, BR did her best to maintain her thrall look...

So this is how they see me? she thinks...And what is with that girl's hair?...I've never worn my hair like that...And that lipstick?...My lipstick is never that...Well...ok, maybe sometimes...

But that shade looks so good on that girl on TV...

Well, at least mine looks better than that pseudo-Spike...And as for their Giles...Are those binoculars he's using for glasses?...
***
Willow was enjoying the walk home...If Tara didn't mind taking the longer route?...

Tara was tired but complied...Willow paid no attention to her obvious exhaustion...

Basey and Xander followed at a safe distance...And noted the route the two were taking would carry them past several secluded areas...

Buffy and Warren were also on the job...At an even safer distance, although Buffy was cautiously moving up...With her "stop-gap" guy in tow...

***
Leto sensed Willow's anxiety for another meeting...Although he was uncertain as to the timing, his bond to her was now working both ways, affecting his judgment as well as hers...And he was more lonely than ever, knowing she was so close...

Perhaps tonight was the night...But in any case, a brief meeting was necessary...Two hearts as ardent as Leto's and Willow's could no longer be separated...

He contacted Max at the Raven's Hair and informed him that Theodore should be persuaded to take a stroll... He, Leto himself, would meet them near the Greenwood cemetery to discuss ways of approaching the Slayers with an appropriate apology for his rash act in attacking her friends...

Why, if all went well, he might be able to arrange a meeting with one or more of the Slayers that night...Put the matter at rest...If Ted could show proper sincerity in his apology...

After all, the Slayers had shown themselves to be in a rather forgiving and tolerant mood these past weeks...

***
Theodore was underwhelmed with enthusiasm at the thought of leaving his secure haven...But if the Godfather of Sunnydale vampires wants to meet with you...

The barkeep was relieved to see that the lady thrall victim had recovered enough to want to go...She politely refused his offer of a cab and left quietly, just after Theodore and Max...

"Remember Miss..." the semi-demon called after her... "Leto's place treats you people right..."
***

Spike caught sight of her leaving by the front door...He and Angel followed carefully...With extreme relief...

BR continued on...keeping Max and Theodore in sight...

***
Drusilla got rather a charge out of using the Montir pendant which Sir Harold had indulgently lent her before the Walthrops' arrival on her strolls about downtown London in the twilight...

Nothing more droll than passing for human with some hungry vampire who was in the market for a shy young Englishwoman...The look on their faces when she revealed her "working" face was nearly as good as that when she killed them...

She had Spike to thank for teaching her the pleasure of killing her own kind...Though she now realized there had usually been some tiresome point to it with him...Motivated either by his ridiculous search for the release of death or some buried desire to do some good, make some
amends...

For her the look on their faces when they learned what they were not the hunter but the hunted...was quite enough...
***
On this particular night, however, her practice with the pendant was interrupted by contact with one of Sir Harold's tame vamps...Who informed her that Sir Harold urgently wished a meeting, if she could tear herself away from her sightseeing...

For her dear partner?...practically an elderly uncle to her...Anything...Even sparing his messenger...

He had news for her...And a gift she'd requested...

Gifts always came first with Dru...And this one was important...

She had, sadly, not kept anything of Spike's when she left him...Sir Harold after a diligent search had found something...

A single, first-edition copy of the works of a young Cambridge poet, one William Walthrop...Published after his mysterious and tragic disappearance by friends and family...

Sir Harold had glanced through it...Turgid stuff at best...Although a certain gloomy Romanticism that reminded him of the worst German stuff of that genre...

But it was something personal of her boy's... Just what she had been hoping for...And what she needed...To enable her to remind Spike of the tie that still linked them...In spite of his new associations...

Dru was pleased with her partner's success...and intrigued...Published by friends and family?...Her boy had had surviving family?...

That was Sir Harold's news...He had located Walthrop descendants...Living in England...Apparently descended from his sister and brother...

Dru was a bit hurt...Spike had had a sister and brother...And never mentioned them to her...

She however wouldn't imagine being so rude as to ignore them...Or at least their descendants...

***

The Tie That Binds...Part XX

Leto, Sunnydale's combination vampire Gandhi and Godfather, waited at the entrance of the Greenwood cemetery...With a few well-hidden "friends", some human, some vampire...

Waiting...For his beloved Willow...And for his "fall-guy" the hapless Theodore...

***
Who was being carefully shadowed by a disguised Buffy Rebecca, robotic Greatest Slayer of All Time, new Missus of "Dr." Walthrop, "cybergenius"...aka Spike...

Who, along with Angel, was likewise carefully trailing his dear Missus...Backed by Wesley and Cordy who had been waiting nearby as emergency transport during their check of vamp hangouts...
***

As for Willow, a woman deeply in thrall, she was rather eagerly hastening to what she instinctively sensed would be a life-altering rendevous with her new beloved...With a spell-sedated Tara in tow...

Followed cautiously by the two assigned by Giles to watch over her, Xander and Basey Granger, the new Slayer, chosen as a result of Buffy's recent and thankfully temporary second demise...

And at a greater but rapidly narrowing distance by Buffy, newly informed of Willow's peril, and Warren, Spike's friend and fellow "cybergenius", creator of Buffy Rebecca's artificial human brain...

Leto was very much aware of the danger he faced in risking a confrontation with no less than three Slayers...But the tie binding him and Willow was rapidly overwhelming his usual shrewd and cautious nature... So much so that even if his scheme to use Theodore as his "cover" failed,
he was now determined to stay his course...And win his Willow no matter what the odds...

A fellow in love does foolish things...

***

Giles had not been idle during this time and after caving over the phone to Buffy's mix of demand for information and insistence that she knew all, had decided now was as good a time as any to join the fight...And throw his own newly sharpened skills onto their side of the balance...

He realized after cell phone calls to Wesley and Xander that the two major divisions of the gang were converging on the Greenwood cemetery, once home to Spike and BR... Joyce Summers' final resting place...

A natural place of choice for Willow's would-be sire to meet her...

As with Buffy, the resumption of action was beginning to actually raise his spirits a bit...

And the thought rather pleased him that for once, he might reach the battle lines first...

He was ready, he hoped, to deal with Willow...

***
Giles had informed Xander that the other half of the gang was closing on the Greenwood cemetery in pursuit of BR who doubtless had found the missing Theodore...And that the plan to keep Buffy out of tonight's action had, as always, failed miserably...

Telling Basey of the reinforcements on the way, Xander was not entirely displeased to hear that for once they would have overwhelming firepower...Three Slayers, one with three times normal Slayer strength, Angel, even Spike...Plus the experienced counsel of Watchers Giles and
Wesley...Well, Giles' experienced counsel...Wesley's...enthusiastic support...

And of course, Basey generously put in...the famed Xander Harris...Whose abilities as a human Slayer were "legendary" to those associated with the Watchers' Council...

Really?...Human Slayer?...thought Xander...Nah, not "legendary"?... Well...We have seen a few unique things...

"Just doing my bit for the Slayer..." he modestly replied...As befits a legendary hero...

And of course Warren and Cordelia would do all they could...Tara as well, if they could get her free of whatever Willow seemed to be using on her...

Yeah, for once odds on our side...He felt pity for the poor fool vamp who'd gotten him...or herself in this one...

Basey just hoped she'd be up to his mark she told him...He understood, natch...Nervous on her first major encounter as a Slayer...

He'd look out for her...Likewise befitting to a legendary human Slayer...

Neither of them yet realized that strength and speed would not be what was required for this battle...

***
For once, Giles' car had not failed him and he reached the Greenwood cemetery ahead of Willow and the two groups in pursuit...

He saw someone at the entrance, hiding in the shadows, and took care to hide himself...

Others occasionally appeared...Obviously this was not a single vampire making a desperate attack on the Slayers' friend...

But Willow, followed slowly by Tara, arrived before he could get a glimpse of the leader...
He had to act quickly...The others would be here and he might not get another crack at Willow before she realized her sire's danger...

Giles had not extended his full abilities to their utmost in quite a while, knowing all too well the lures and dangers of such power...Warnings which he had been gradually trying to pass on to Willow...But just as he had had to encourage her use of new abilities to save Buffy, now he had
to tap his deepest skills to help her...

He could not match her in a fair and open fight any more but...If he caught her with her guard down...He might be able to block her ability to tap the dark powers...

***
Xander and Basey had decided to halt for a moment at the edge of the cemetery grounds to scope out the situation...And make sure Buffy didn't rush in without any protection...They at least had Giles' amulets...

Through binoculars, Xander saw Willow reaching the entrance, Tara falling behind...

Willow was definitely headed inside...And someone was crouching in some bushes near the gate...Too difficult to see...

They'd have to hurry...

Buffy and a bedraggled Warren came up just as they were heading out...

Xander tossed her an extra amulet without words and they all rushed for the gate...

***
Theodore and Max had entered the cemetery by a side entrance, with BR in close but stealthy pursuit...

Spike and Angel in distant and rather frantically obvious pursuit...Until Cordy and Wes pulled over and suggested they be sensible and not try to keep up with a robot on foot...

Arriving at the side entrance, all four entered as well...
***
Tara was exhausted and confused...What was Willow up to?...

Suddenly she caught sight of Giles near the gate...And called to him...

Just as suddenly...Members of the gang rushed past her towards the gate...Too fast for her to make out who...

Clearly something dangerous was a foot...Her Willow was trying to take the lead...She cried out to Willow that she should wait for the others...They were here now...
***

Willow had just reached Leto when she heard Tara calling out to Giles...Giles?...Here?...And begging her to wait for the others who were here to help as well...

She told her beloved to wait...Willow would deal with this...

Leto agreed to keep to his shadows but ordered one of his "friends" to pass the word to support her...

Giles first, thought Willow...He was the most dangerous, really...Not that she wanted to hurt any of them but...They had no right to interfere... With her latest lifestyle choice...

***
But events forced her to face a different foe...

Theodore had reached the appointed area with Max...He saw Willow but no Leto...

Then he saw two of the Slayers and some of their friends coming through the front entrance...Definitely not in diplomatic mode...

Set-up, he quickly realized...I have been set-up...

Max had vanished even as he looked toward the approaching doom...

Ted fortunately never even saw the threat closing in behind him...Much faster than that to his front...

But Willow did...

She turned to pit the full force of her fury on the rapidly closing BR...

Which gave Giles the moment longer he needed...

"Oh, Hecate...Hear my plea..." she began...

And found her ability to tap into her powers blocked by Giles' spell...

BR was on her in a second...took no chances, and determining the best pressure points via her supplemental memory, put Willow out as gently as possible...

And as quickly grabbed the hapless Theodore...

***
Tara who had entered the gate cried out, confused...

Xander swung back to explain and comfort her...Before she got upset and decided to try her hand at Willow defense...

BR dragged a feebly protesting Ted over to the rest of them...

But before he could tell them anything, a volley of arrows struck him and silenced him forever...

***
They all plunged through the cemetery, BR catching up with her part of the team and bringing them up to speed...

Only one human "friend" was found...Who would say nothing...

But his being human was all they needed to have a fair idea of who was responsible...

The best "connected" vamp in Sunnydale...

Leto...

Who had made a quick getaway...

***
Discouraging, they all thought...

All this extra firepower and we come up empty...

Still, for the moment Willow was safe and restrained by Giles' spell...And now that they knew for sure what the cause of her behavior was...They could face her with it and take measures to restrict its effects on her...

But Leto could be anywhere...And Willow's death and transformation was just a question of time unless they could destroy him...
***
A sweep of Sunnydale haunts turned up nothing...

Fortunately most vamps still seemed anxious to maintain the peace and agreed that they would abide by the Slayers' warnings not to break it...Less believable was their willingness to pass on any information as to Leto's movements and to turn him over if found...Still...

The resumption of open warfare was best avoided for now if possible...

***
They kept Willow sleeping through the night...

Back at the store the next day Giles treated Willow with what he had available...It might help some but...

At least he could help her remove the sedative spell from Tara...

Willow was now vaguely aware of what she'd been doing and was ashamed...Especially of what she'd done to Tara...

And terrified...She confessed to Xander in private that she remembered enough of the past night to know she had been ready to kill them if necessary...

He comforted her and reminded her that Buffy had been in a similar mood not that long ago herself...

Warren suggested an approach similar to that done with Dawn using the blood synthesizers to replace Willow's tainted blood...

Giles agreed that it might help to replace her blood...But Willow was not the Key, with an indestructible life-force...She was weakened already and to push her to the edge with a major series of transfusions...

Besides Ben was gone and there weren't too many doctors around who would "understand" the situation...

"Transfusions?..." Angel asked... "Heck, I can do transfusions...If Warren's stuff works for her blood type...It's simple..."

A necessary skill for a soulful vampire...
***

They replaced several pints but did not want to overdo...Willow seemed better between Giles' efforts and Angel's...

But no word on Leto...

And it was nearly time for BR and Spike to be on their way...The following afternoon in fact...

Which led to a brilliant and generous suggestion on their part...

Europe might not be far enough away to save Willow from Leto's work...But it would be far enough to prevent him from continuing the job...

While Buffy, Basey, and the team tracked him down...With the restored Tara's help...

***

Willow appreciated the Walthrops' offer but...To intrude on their honeymoon...And to leave the gang when they might need her?...
Still, she was frightened...If she stayed where Leto could mostly easily influence her...

BR and Buffy pointed out that the fight against Drusilla might require extra help in any case...

No one should underestimate Dru's abilities...Willow could perform a vital role there and would be less vulnerable in that fight...

And BR assured her that she and William would have plenty of time together on the trip...She'd want some female companionship anyway...Young bride adjusting and all that...

Spike nobly supported his wife's pleas...Besides to have Red along really would relieve his mind about BR's facing Dru considerably...

While Giles put in his bit...He'd put the squeeze on the Council, reminding them that Glory was still alive, that Dru was a major menace...To have a Slayer in Europe to check on the retired goddess and deal with the feared Dru would be worth...well...The costs of the Walthrops' honeymoon...

Thus no burden for Warren's and Spike's company...And a long overdue reward for the Slayers' efforts...

Mr. Giles certainly stands up for us, doesn't he...Basey noted to Buffy...
Hmmn...Buffy could not help thinking...Not that BR didn't deserve it...But...

And of course there'd be something to help Buffy and Basey with their college educations, Giles added...Again. long overdue rewards...

He'd been careful not to give the Council all the details of Glory's defeat...No need for them to think she was completely removed as a possible menace...And he'd emphasized the Slayers' financial problems which might reluctantly force them to retire early from their duties...

It was high time the Council did something besides issue mindless instructions and orders he felt...

Willow hesitantly agreed...If she wouldn't be in the way...And if they thought she could help...

She wouldn't mind seeing England and Europe at that...

They managed to make the changes without too much difficulty as to accommodations...As for the air flight...Amazingly enough a seat had opened on their flight...

A little gift requested by BR and courtesy of Tara and Giles...But after all, after saving the world countless times, Slayers and their dear friends rated one break, surely...

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXI

Once Willow had accepted the Walthrops' invitation and learned the Council would be covering expenses...

She began to get rather excited about the trip...And with Tara's enthusiastic help, began to prepare feverishly...

The hurdle of informing her family was cleared with the cover story that, following the tragic passing of Hank Summers in Spain, Buffy's hitherto unheard from twin sister had arrived (from their Dad's place in Spain), and needing help in bringing Hank's effects home to Sunnydale, while Buffy remained with Dawn, wished her new friend Willow to accompany her back to Europe...At her expense...

As for Tara, recovered from Willow's sedative spell, she was rather excited at the thought of being "the Witch" for the gang while Willow was in Europe...And hopeful that she might help end the curse tormenting her dear one...

At the store, early next morning, the combined Sunnydale-LA gang reviewed the situation...

Minus...Willow and Tara out shopping frantically...

Plane leaving at four...

And minus one new member...Warren having had to leave after checking in to head for the office...

Someone had to keep the business going...

Keeping his end up...Throughout such a crazy couple of nights...on top of a very crazed couple of weeks...So dependably responsible...Buffy couldn't help thinking...Unlike some fellows...

She couldn't help noticing Ms. Granger was obviously thinking the same as she also watched Warren leave...

I thought she liked Giles...Buffy thought... I see Ms. Granger keeps her options open...

Giles was summing up...

Willow was better since the transfusions of Warren's artificial blood cocktail...But that was only a stop-gap...

As was the trip to Europe...

Willow would remained "corked" under Giles' spell so there would be no danger of her using her abilities against them...At least for the present...But...

They had to find and destroy Leto...Quickly...

"Could Leto follow Willow to Europe?..." Wesley states the thought on all their minds...

"Yes, but we will be watching the airport here, thanks to our extra help..." Giles nods at the LA members... "And monitoring all records of flights out of the United States to Europe...I doubt we will need to worry too much about shipping but we'll watch those reports as well...And that
information will be passed on to the Council..."

"And you're sure they can keep all flights into England under surveillance?..." Buffy asks doubtfully...

The Council's "help" has always been rather limited up to now...With the exception of its providing dear Giles of course...

"They'll keep a close watch...They're rather sensitive about new vampires entering their home ground as it is..." grins Giles...

"Of course if Dru decides to leave England?..." Angel puts in questioningly...

Spike shakes his head...

"Dru will want to fight on home ground...Until she's forced to leave...And this Leto will probably try to stay in the US until the last possible moment...Even stay in the area if he can..."

"Let's assume for now our fight with Leto will be in this country..." Giles brings them back...

"What's the best way to track him?...Gentlemen?..." he turns to the vamp boys...Who better to ask?...

"He's been keeping to Sunnydale since his transformation..." Angel notes... "Spike is probably right...He prefers the old haunts...Not much of a traveling type...Which is why he chose Willow...A familiar face..."

"Not much of a hunter..." Spike adds... "He works through others...So he'll continue to need contacts...Which could work to our benefit as well as his..."

"So it's time to put a little pressure on our more peace-loving vamps..." Basey concludes... "If they really want to continue the easy life..."

A first-rate Slayer...Spike notes with pleasure...Good to know Sis will have competent help...

And thank God my redemption came through just in time...Three of them?...What a nightmare that would have been a month ago...

"Pressure, eh..." Xander looks at Angel and Wesley...and Cordelia who grins back... "How about a little LA-style pressure?..."
"Just what I was thinking..." Angel grins at him... And back at his staff... Time to show Sunnydale's suburban vamps what life is like in the big city...

"He must have a lot of personal things here in town, items left with his family, that sort of thing..." Buffy notes... "You and Tara could make use of that, Giles..."

"So...we shall go visiting?..." Basey grins at her... "Two college students seeking the background on a legendary Sunnydale politician for their report on local political history?.."

"Well...My heart was set on documenting the Mayor's career..." Buffy smiles at her... "But..."

Now as to Dru...

Buffy was worried about BR...She tended to forget she could be and had been hurt...

Spike seconded her opinion...

Although he knew he had to end Dru's suffering...Bring the cycle to a close, once and for all...

This was Drusilla he and the Missus were going up against, not some run-of-the-mill demon face...And caution of the highest magnitude was advised...

Which was confirmed almost immediately to their horror when he suddenly collapsed...And arose with his "working" face on...

***
"What?..." he asks them as Xander and Anya pull back in fright... After trying to help him up...

"William?...Is something wrong?..." BR asks him gently, moving over to him slowly and carefully... No need to set him off if the chip has failed...

"What the hell are you all looking at?..." he asks them nervously as they all stare at him...Is his hair mussed or something?...

BR strokes him very gently and tells him...

Oh...Well, of course...Rather nice to know he can still generate that kind of effect on people...

But it was strange...He'd made no effort to assume his "work" face...

And he assured them, felt no sudden especial urge to kill...

Good...thought Xander...Now if he'd just retract that face...

He can't...Very strange...And damned bad timing if they're to fly out this afternoon...

"You ever have this problem?..." Buffy Rebecca hopefully asks Angel...

"Not without a reason..." Angel replies looking at Spike...The same thought occurring to both...Dru loves to have her fun...

"Are you allergic to anything?..." Anya asks helpfully...

"Dru...I'm allergic to Dru..." Spike sighs... "This is her little game, I'm sure of it..."

He looks at BR sadly...Dru's little reminder of the space still between them...

She kisses the demon face...

Angel watches and looks at Buffy...The things this woman is capable of...

***

Tara and Willow arrived a hour or so later to find them still trying to help Spike...

It was a fairly simple cursing Dru had used...Basic Voodoo 101...She never had had the patience for learning real spell-casting magic, just her share of basic tricks that when combined with her natural ability and the right equipment could be devastating...

With a little guidance from Giles and the still-corked Willow, Tara lifted the curse...

Willow agreed that she'd better pack some of Giles' amulets and anti-spell remedies...And felt better now about her role in going along...As did the rest of the gang...

She might be restrained as to use of her powers but an experienced Wiccan adviser/researcher was definitely going to be an asset to the Walthrops...
***

At the strong urging of all the gang, the Europe-bound members headed to their respective homes for some badly needed rest before their flight...

BR was relieved to see that Spike had no ill after-effects from Dru's little trick...And managed to get him to sleep...

[Suggested theme...Addicted to Love...]
Robert Palmer nodded to Spike...And waved him into position in front of the line of Buffies...

Who were anything but docile...

Not all that unlike the dream Spike had told Buffy Rebecca about...The one he'd had the night before her "birth"...But that had taken place in a poetry class...

"...Gonna have to face it...You're Addicted to Love..." the song blared from speakers as Palmer continued...

The Buffies gave a united glare at Spike...And began shoving him along their line...Each one singing a different line and wacking him to the next as they did so...Palmer smiling back at the battered Spike as he staggered along the line...And suddenly pulling his head off to reveal...

Angel, grinning and nodding at him...And continuing to do an excellent Robert Palmer...

Spike was reaching the end of the line...

"Your hands shake...Your teeth grind..." A Buffy slapped Spike along...

"Another kiss...And you are mine..." The next sang to him...

"Might well face it...You're Addicted to Love..." they all sing as he reaches the last...And all pull their heads off to reveal...

Drusilla...

As quickly as they are revealed, all but one disappears...And that one faces Spike...

"Silly boy..." she morphs back into Buffy and stakes him...Angel waving his hands slightly and shrugging...

"Tough luck, kid...That's redemption for you..."

Buffy Rebecca awoke in horror...

And reached over to Spike to find...Dru again...

"Our tie is unbreakable..." she smiled at BR...

Who finally awoke...screaming...To find Spike watching her nervously...

He'd never heard of robots crying out in their nightmares...But then his sleeping experience with robots, especially human-souled ones, was limited...

***
The Walthrops agreed it was best to discuss BR's dream with Willow on board and Giles later...

The gang was nervous enough about the trip...Especially Angel who still felt guilty about failing previously with Dru...

They all had quite enough on their hands with Leto and his crew...

With great relief they boarded the plane and left on schedule...

***
Almost immediately a minor disaster struck "Dr." Walthrop...

He'd never flown before...Always by ship...

Always?...BR asked...

Well, he'd gone up once in 1917...As a lark during the Great War...It hadn't bothered him then...

And he'd tanked up before the flight, thinking he might not get a chance for sometime...

Airsick?...He was airsick?...

She could just imagine the effect that Spike tossing a stomach full of blood, even her artificial cocktail, would have on the flight attendants...

Can you spell emergency landing?...

"Sweetie, can you make it to the bathroom?..." she urged...And half-dragged the staggering vampire along...Willow glanced sympathetically at him as they passed her...

"Airsick..." BR sheepishly explained to the attendant as she and Spike swayed down the aisle...

She noted that one passenger was watching them rather too...Vampire?... No...human... But...

One couldn't be too careful...Wolfram-Hart, Leto, some relative of the deranged and defunct Dr. Severn all might have human agents in their service keeping an eye on them...

Even Dru herself might have stooped to using humans...

She concentrated to keep the woman's face in mind...

Not all that difficult with a supplemental back-up memory...

Unfortunately the nearest restroom was occupied...Fortunately for them the occupants were a vampire and his victim...

Unfortunate for him...

Spike watched his Missus conduct the dazed victim back to the nearest attendant...A serious shaving accident?...Well, at least with her innocent Buffy-stare the attendant would buy that she believed the fellow's excuse...

Poor honey, he thought...No rest for Slayers...

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXII

With the Walthrops and their expert on witchcraft and magic safely away...

The hunt for Leto began in earnest...

With a repeat visit round the Sunnydale haunts that night by Angel, Wesley, Xander, Cordy, and Warren...

Emphasizing the Slayers' displeasure with the recent turn of events...But their continuing willingness to allow the peace process to follow its mutually beneficial course...If a certain treacherous fellow could be located...

At the shop, Giles and Tara worked on possible methods of finding Leto...

While Buffy and Basey stepped up their patrolling...

Just to let the Sunnydale vamp population know that the Slayers' forgiving mood had its limits...

***
Willow had joined Spike, Buffy Rebecca having gone to conk out in Willow's seat...

She snored...And was well aware of it...Dawn having taped Buffy for proof long ago...

But she preferred to believe her hubs was not yet aware of her lack of perfection in this regard...

So since Willow wasn't sleepy...Would she mind?...

The eminent "cybergenius" had recovered from his attack...

"A little town called Brusset...quite a ways from London..." he told Willow, who had asked him where he and his family came from..If he remembered...

A picturesque, quaint little English country town?...Willow had inquired hopefully...

"Only if you find slag heaps picturesque..." Spike replied... "A hell-hole of ignorance if I remember it rightly...The men, in general...dim-witted, brutal louts all about, the women...battered, consumptive or eternally pregnant, shattered husks...Almost no educational opportunities...A few twitty, class-bound snots running what little social or cultural life was
available...The wealthy landowner lording over us all...A real 19th century English town..."

Of course it might be nicer now...

And his family?...

Obviously Spike had some good memories of his mum...He'd thought enough of her to remember her favorite tune through the years and give it to BR...

"She gave me everything I ever had...And a chance to escape that hell-hole..." he told Willow...

"Sent me to Cambridge on the proceeds of a life of factory work, scrubbing, mending..."

He smiled at her sadly...

"And of course you've seen the results of her efforts...But, thank God, she died before my first year was up...And never knew..."

Was there anyone else?...

"My little sister, Amelia...and my brother Philip..." he clearly did not want to discuss his family further and Willow refrained from pressing...

She looked over at the snoring BR...Who was attracting some attention by now...

"So...how's married life?..." she grinned at Spike...

"I'm afraid to sleep at night...I might wake up and it will all be a dream..." he looked at her seriously...Willow patted his hand...

"Besides...who could sleep in the middle of that?..." he rolled his eyes at the snoring BR, grinning...

***
In addition to information on "Dr." Walthrop's family connections, Sir Harold informed Dru that he had learned more about the Slayer and the reasons behind Darla's failure...

Dru was quite correct in what she had told Sir Harold about the battle...His agents confirmed that there were additional Slayers in Sunnydale now...One, a new face, understandably to replace the briefly deceased Buffy Summers, but Dru was right...apparently...another Buffy Summers
existed...Enormously powerful by all accounts...

Dru remembered the powerful, empty-souled Buffy who had confronted her and Grandmother even as they tried to "rescue" the vampiral Buffy all too well...Unknown to her, Warren's temporary Buffy-April hybrid...

Sir Harold's informants could provide no explanations for a second Buffy's appearance...Perhaps it had been part of the method used to save Summers...Perhaps something else...

But in any case Dru's activities against the Slayer and her vampire had become of even greater importance to the slowly regenerating Wolfram-Hart combine...

And Sir Harold's information was likewise important enough to cause Dru to reconsider her battle plan...If Buffy was somehow no longer fully human...err...fully superhuman...Methods other than thrall might be called for...

Fortunately, she had been considering some new options in any case...New vistas opened up by the discovery that her boy had relatives living...

She therefore had one other favor to ask of her dear partner...She needed a little medical advice...

***
Leto's world was crumbling...

A day ago, he had been the king/pope of Sunnydale's vamp population, honored by his fellows, even befriended by the Slayers....

Now, a single headstrong act had plunged him from his seat...Driven him to hide among the reeking low-life of Sunnydale's underside...

Friends were falling away from him by the minute, anxious to maintain a little credit with the mighty Slayers...Soon his very head would be sought by his own kind, he knew....

Yet, even as he sensed Willow slipping away from him, both in terms of distance and emotion, he could not give up the idea and hope of her...So he stayed, hoping to find someway to locate her and to win her back...Though if he stayed his destruction was only a matter of time...

And oddest and saddest thing of all...There was a small part of him that was somehow glad that she had, at least for now, escaped the fate he planned for her...

Love's a bitch...

***

Dr. Henry Jones...elderly English countryside medical practitioner, residing in semi-retirement near Spike's home town of Brusset, England... aka Hans Grezner, former SS colonel and dear comrade-in-arms of Sir Harold Milliken, aka Ernest Gruber-Schemm...had a late visitor...

Sent with the recommendation of his dear friend, the head of the powerful Wolfram-Hart, Europe law firm...

Grezner regarded her...As former medical advisor to the Nazi SS Death-Head Legion, Vampiral, he had no difficulty determining what he was dealing with...

A vampiress, no doubt...A powerful one, to have such connections...

Well, Sir Harold had been generous over the years to his old comrades...With Wolfram-Hart's life-extending secrets as well as other things...

And Dr. Jones was not without his own protections...

"Well, my dear miss...What can I do for you?..."

"My friend...Sir Harold...referred me to you..." Dru began shyly...

She explained that she needed the services of a truly great neurosurgeon...Who had performed experiments on all types of brains...Even vampiral ones...

Her little boy had this problem...

***
The check of haunts by Angel and most of the gang having turned up little but vague promises to "look out" for Leto, Buffy and Basey had decided to begin their study of George Letos' political career and personal life in the morning...

Angel, Wes, and Cordy would make a hunt of major and minor resting places in the daylight...A prospect which Angel was looking forward to...

While Giles and Tara would continue their research...

Buffy reminded Cordy to keep a constant watch on Angel's ring finger while they were out...

***
Xander and Warren would join in as soon as work allowed and Dawn was reluctantly promised the chance to "help" Giles and Tara after school...Which offer had immediately to be expanded to include young Leroy, now enrolled in Sunnydale Elementary...

Before calling it a night, Xander, pledged by Willow to maintain "Operation Distraction", as causally as possible with Anya nudging him, quietly suggested to Warren that he ask Buffy to dinner the next evening...

Nothing special, just as a friend...She could use a moment away from the gang at home as well as here in the store...

Seeing Warren somewhat nervous at the prospect, Xander desperately grabbed at the first idea and suggested he ask Giles to take Basey along...

Anya looked at him...Giles and the new Slayer?...The year younger than Buffy new Slayer?...Aren't there laws about such things?...Or at least there should be...

Warren thought it a great idea...Dinner with Ms. Summers alone would have been a little overwhelming for him...

Xander wisely amended it by suggesting that Warren ask Ms. Granger to come as well as Buffy and only then ask Giles along...To a friendly dinner with the Slayers...De-emphasizing the "double date" aspects...

Wish we were going Anya thought...This will be interesting...

***
Spike was rather pleased to note that Willow seemed exhausted...He'd be worried, given
the circumstances if she were bright-eyed and chipper at this time of night...

Angel's transfusions had done her considerable good...But "Dr." Walthrop was sure it was the knowing her reason for her condition which had most braced her...

Red, he knew from experience, was a tough fighter when challenged...

But he also knew she was afraid...Quite a healthy and understandable fear actually...

And he sensed that she had been waiting to make a request of him...Which he expected...But not quite in the form it took...

Willow knew she might yet die and transform...She knew also that Giles would if possible try to repeat their success with resurrection...But...

She was well aware of how narrowly they'd squeaked by with Buffy...Who had had a sister's soul helping to hold her demon down and her human soul in this world...

Willow would not have that help...And it was very likely that, just as she had warned Angel, the demon within would throw her soul into limbo and win the fight to control the resurrected human body...

If that happened...Her friends might well be in worse danger than if vampire Willow were born...The demon would know everything she did and would attempt to deceive them as the human Willow until able to access her abilities...

It was after all a part of Willow...Just as Buffy's had been...

They would be reluctant to act against a vampire Willow...Against a human one, no matter how many times she warned them, no matter how evil it revealed itself to be...They'd never act in time even to save themselves...

And Buffy Rebecca, unable to kill humans, would be even more helpless...

If a demon ruled in the human body, only one person could sense its presence quickly enough to destroy it...

Spike...With his demon-sensitive chip...

"You expect me to kill you...as a human?..." Even for Spike this was a little shocking...Staking vamp Willow he could consider at the outside, if all else failed...but to kill human Willow...

"You might be the only hope they'd have... " Willow looked at him...

"My chip?..." he reminded her...

"You've crashed through it before...And I wouldn't be human, not really..."

She put her hand on his...

"I know you'd be risking everything you've won...The gang would never be able to forgive you...Even if they accepted what had to be done...And I know even Buffy Rebecca would have a hard time with it..."

She grinned...

"But Walthrop...you owe me...Big time..."

True, he knew...He owed Willow everything...She'd saved BR for him...Not to mention restraining Buffy on the countless occasions when she would have gladly staked him but for Red's sympathy for him...

"If I'm convinced...that you're not the real Willow...I'll do whatever is necessary to stop the thing using your body...in whatever form..." he told her quietly... "But the others will find Leto in time...And if not, Giles will succeed..."

She nodded...But they couldn't expect to win every battle...

"Why not?..." Spike snorted... "You sound like me a month ago..."

But he promised her again that he would do what was necessary...

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXIII

Despite his recent lamentable lapse in decorum, Leto took it as a point of honor to uphold the spirit of the peace...And refrained from attacks on humans...

As Spike had noted to the gang he was not a hunter by nature in any case...
And after all, the peace was still his doing...the single proud achievement of his undead existence...The one truly worthy gift he could offer Willow...Even if he had done much to tear it apart...

He knew the drop-off sites for Warren's blood cocktail better than anyone else...And was still able to slip in and take what he needed...But...

Sooner or later he would be turned in...

And face the inevitable judgment of the Slayers...

However there was still another avenue to pursue...

The Slayers and their friends were not the only ones in Sunnydale seeking information from the vampire community...

***

Most of the plane's passengers were out by the time Willow traded seats again with BR...

How was Will holding up?...Spike told BR of their conversation...She frowned...Maybe common sense but not the most positive attitude...

Will came back before she could say anything...

"That guy is staring at us...Gives me the creeps..." she indicated a middle-aged jowly man down the aisle who was scowling at them... "You know, I've seen him somewhere..."

"That's that TV preacher..." Buffy Rebecca told her... "Preacher Pat...with the show on Channel 4..."

"The one who managed to insult all Scotland last year?..." Spike regarded her...

He had never asked her about religious beliefs...He'd assumed the Summers were...mainstream, more or less...She didn't by any chance?...

"He's fun to watch ranting..." BR smiled...

Phew...One never knew with Slayers...They did tend toward fanaticism at times...

"Think he senses witches?..." Willow asked, a little nervous...

"I think that one only senses cash..." Spike smiled at her...

"He's coming over, I think..." BR sighed... "Be nice..." she hissed at the hubs...Who looked innocently back at her...

Spike grinned reassuringly at Will...Really just what the doctor ordered to get Willow out of her current funk...Nothing to take one's mind off one's troubles like dealing with a crazed TV evangelist...

"Nice Anglican-raised boy here...Of course if you need his ministrations, ladies, I'll do my best to get him to stay..."

"Nice Jewish girl, here...Well Jewish-Wiccan girl..." Willow grinned back...

"I am going to be very angry with you in a moment, Spike..." BR hissed again...
"Shouldn't like that, love..." he grinned... "Best behavior, vamp's honor..." And raised his hand...

***

Preacher Pat, famed TV evangelist, businessman, and political force, was flying to Europe to save souls and his business interests in Scotland from the dark forces which had expelled him previously...By accusations of fraud and corruption...

He had noted the Walthrops and their friend down the aisle from him...The only people still awake currently...And decided it was time to strike up a conversation...

"Have you found your personal savior in our Lord?..." Preacher Pat intruded...

"I'm sure he's a fine fellow...But my personal savior is Buffy Rebecca Summer-Walthrop..." Spike nods at his blushing bride...

Preacher Pat was not happy...When He makes a personal effort to save you...

BR tried to be nice...And glared Spike into tolerably good behavior until the TV
preacher distributed free copies of his latest book to them and returned to his seat...

***

Willow returned to her seat...

And dreamed that Preacher Pat had condemned her as a heretic and witch to burn...However Sean Connery, his arch-nemesis, happened to be on board the plane..Determined to avenge Scotland's good name...Just as the fires were lit...Connery in his best Bond style, tossed PP through a tiny cabin window to his death ala Goldfinger...

A happy ending...Will slept peacefully...

***
BR looked for the woman she had noted earlier as "watching" them...Asleep...

Pat continued to watch them from his seat...As did several of his staff...

After all, as a member of Wolfram-Hart's executive board he had an strong interest in their destruction...And so, being on the same flight anyway, had agreed to assist in keeping them under observation...

***
BR suggested they stroll the plane and check things out...See if they sensed any potential problems...Spike was happy to stretch...

After they covered a good part of the plane, she slipped them unobserved into the cargo hold by gently manipulating the door lock...

"And we are looking for?..." the eminent "cybergenius" was puzzled...

"A few minutes...alone..." she looked at him...the blushing bride genuinely blushing...And smiling...

"Why Buffy Rebecca Summers-Walthrop..." he started to say...As she shut and locked the door...

***
Phil, aka "the Voice" clucked sympathetically at his "boy"...Bad karma definitely on that last girl, son...

He sighed...things had been going so well...But he understood, of course...

Just a little too impetuous there...Well, it happens...

But some real consequences on this one...

He would really like to help him...But...Two, maybe even three...count them, three...Slayers were on his trail...

But Leto only wanted information...About the Wolfram-Hart operatives who'd been skulking about town, seeking for Slayer info...Whom Leto had held off during his glory days, thinking they might provide him an ace in the hole with the Slayers...Who would doubtless have been pleased to be given details as to a powerful enemy's activities in their backyard...

Sadly, that was no longer an option for him now...But the same folks might be interested in information he had to offer...

His "dad" agreed to do what he could to arrange a meeting...
***

Buffy Rebecca's and hubs' idyll came to an abrupt end when the young woman who been "watching" them carefully forced the cargo hold door open...Opened with the skill of a master craftsman...

She cleared her throat rather loudly...And called...

"Dr. Walthrop?...Ms. Summers...er Ms.Walthrop?..."

BR and Spike emerged sheepishly but on guard from behind cartons...

"I thought I should introduce myself when I noticed you were heading here...I am Amelia Walthrop-Hunt...Dr. Walthrop's grandniece, if you include several greats..."

They were speechless...Now that you mention it, BR noted, there was a slight resemblance...

"I am also a standing member of the Watchers' Council...It was felt that I should be the one to escort you into England..."

***
Ms. Walthrop-Hunt provided several documents testifying to her association with the Council...She was pleased to see Ms. Summers, er...Summers-Walthrop...so sharp...

My grandniece?...Well, great-great, etc...Spike was floored and continued so for quite some time...Not to mention guilt-riddled, shamed, desperately curious, and rather pleased...He had family...

Well, his sister, Amelia, had done the work...

"Naturally, considering my ancestor's...past career...I thought it best to avoid contacts in the past, so I never requested duty in Sunnydale..." Ms. Walthrop-Hunt told them...And regarded her distinguished relative coolly...

"But as Mr. Giles informed us and we learned from our own sources, there has been quite a change in the situation..."

Pretty girl...Spike thought...Amelia's eyes definitely...if he was remembering them correctly...And absolutely right to be reserved towards him...Surprised she didn't stake him immediately...Family honor and all that...

Must have been a terrible embarrassment to them all...he thought guiltily...

"You're quite right..." BR replied... "There has been quite a change...Your ancestor has won his redemption...all by his own efforts..."

Supportive spouse there...He couldn't help beaming a little...

"And you two really are married?...That wasn't a deception for Drusilla?..." Ms. Walthrop-Hunt regarded them carefully...

Well, as legally married as Spike's and Buffy Rebecca's phony papers would permit...But if you excepted that...

"Married, for real, and extremely happy of it..." Spike replied... "But my wife is the source of any redemption I may have been granted..."

"Mr. Giles gave us only the sketchiest details about you, Ms. Summers-Walthrop?...If I understand correctly, you are a robotic copy of the original Ms. Summers?..."

Well, at least she was in contact with Giles for sure...BR realized...

She nodded to Ms. Walthrop-Hunt...

"But I have the equivalent of a human brain...And, my sister and I have more or less agreed, the soul of a Buffy Summers..."

"Remarkable...And you are the defeater of the Goddess of Glory and Victory...Who would have ended the world just a few weeks ago...Amazing..." she looked at BR thoughtfully...

"William played a big role in that battle and likewise in my sis' resurrection...and mine.." BR told her firmly, noting that she was avoiding speaking directly to Spike...

"The Council has for the moment accepted Mr. Giles' testimony as to William the Bloody's current status...Else he would not be allowed to re-enter England..." she looked at BR...

Like I believe the Council could keep Spike out if he wanted to come...BR thought...They sure didn't do much to stop Dru...

"Yet I have noted that both you and your friend, Ms. Rosenberg, are concealing bite scars..." Ms. Walthrop-Hunt pointed out...

Sharp-eyed, that girl...Spike thought, rather pleased...

Wish I could have gone back in the biotank for one more regeneration before we left, BR thought...Would have healed that thing right up...Too bad...Especially when it's right here...in some of these cartons...in pieces...

She sighed...How to explain...And tried...

"My friend was attacked by another vampire...She's recovering now...As for me, well, I needed to give the appearance of thrall for us to locate that vampire before we left Sunnydale..."

"Mr. Giles alerted us to Ms. Rosenberg's condition..." Ms. Walthrop-Hunt replied... "But not yours, Ms. Walthrop..."

Oops, forgot to mention that to Giles...BR thought nervously...He might have let us know we'd be under Council surveillance so soon through...I mean we knew it would start once we reached England...But...

"My wife prefers Summers-Walthrop..." Spike noted... "As for her being in thrall...I think you ought to be able to confirm or disprove that...As a Council member..."

"I could...If Ms. Summers-Walthrop will allow me a few moments alone..."

"But I'd also like to know how you're so well-informed..." Spike added... "We've only learned about Willow in the past couple of days...And Giles has barely had time to speak to the Council about it..."

She smiled, in spite of herself...Her infamous ancestor was living up to his reputation in some ways at least...And he was clearly determined to protect his new bride against any possible danger...

"I maintain constant contact with the Council via satellite link...If you like I can set it up here...We can even arrange a call to your Mr. Giles..." She indicated her metal briefcase which she had brought in with her...

The Council has entered the modern world, I see...thought BR...It might have been nice if they'd ever passed along a few extra aids like this to Giles once in while...

"Please..." said Spike, pleasantly...He was taking no chances...

And he knew how Dru's mind worked...Any relatives of his would be high on her list of priorities in England...

***

Dr. Jones...aka SS Colonel Dr. Hans Grezner, formerly known as the Butcher of Belsen-Belsen, was intrigued by Dru's description of Spike's chip...

He was familiar with the secret work of Dr. Margaret Walsh and her team, having been utilized as a consultant on several occasions...When no questions were asked about an English neurosurgeon's "expertise" with Nazi neurological experiments...

Yes, he had told Dru, he was familiar with that type of chip...Used in antiseizure studies as well as in demon research...Yes, he thought he could disable it, given a proper amount of time and place to work...

Dru had emphasized the interest of their mutual friend, Sir Harold in such "research"...And that she, with his help and blessing would provide both time and place...

Dr. Jones was only too happy to put his services at their disposal...

Dru had two other requests...She was paying some calls in Brusset...Was it possible that Dr. Jones might suggest a quiet place for her to stay during the day?...

He was pleased to offer her the use of his home...Large, with only a few servants...

And any friend of his old war comrade...

And, finally, she asked...Did he by any chance know any members of the Walthrop family living in Brusset or the surrounding area?...Sir Harold's information had been sketchy...

Sir Harold had made a similar request of him earlier...And as a matter of fact, there was a rather prominent Walthrop family living just outside Brusset...

They'd done quite well in industry after the First World War...And acquired a couple of large homes in the lower valley...

Related to a certain tragically vanished young poet...and infamous vampire...
***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXIV

Mutual satisfaction...

Ms.Walthrop-Hunt had, via her computer and satellite link, connected with the Watchers' Council and allowed BR to speak with and see several members whom she recognized
...And to call Giles who confirmed that he had indeed updated the Council immediately
after the Walthrops' and Willow's departure...

Spike agreed it was reasonable to accept Ms. Walthrop-Hunt's story...While resolving to remain cautious...

For her part, BR had allowed Ms. Walthrop-Hunt to examine her bite scar throughly, test her reflexes, and perform a slight spell test to sense thrall effects which Willow had pronounced, after Spike had gone to call her in, a safe one...

Of course a robot might respond differently to thrall, but all in all the Watcher was satisfied...

Willow was as startled as they to find that Spike had living relatives...One on the Council no less...

But why then?...she couldn't help asking the Watcher...To leave her great-great...great?...granduncle?...running around as William the Bloody?...

"I'm not a Slayer..." Ms. Walthrop-Hunt replied to her question... "When I learned about my ancestor's...activities...The only way to help stop him seemed to be to devote myself to the Council's work...And they frown on personal crusades against vampiral or demon relatives..."

"But..." she looked at Spike... "If the opportunity had come up, I would have done what I could within my limited powers to help him find peace..."

"And it seemed to have worked out for the best..." she smiled at BR... "If all continues to go well..."

"It will..." BR told her, firmly... "Does the Council fully realize that ?...And that I and my husband will be the ones to decide if he ever needs... ‘assistance'?..."

Willow was a little startled to hear her say it...Spike seemed unfazed...Had they discussed this?...Settled it between them?...That BR would 'assist' Spike if Walthrop ever lost control again?...
The Slayer's Gift...Ready and waiting whenever Walthrop needed it...

***

Buffy and Basey had determined that the Sunnydale Historical Society had kept some effects of George Letos, beloved Sunnydale citizen and political leader, at their offices at the library...

No relatives remained in town...

On their way over to the library, they discussed their upcoming "date" with Warren and Giles...

Not a "date" really, of course...Buffy noted...Just a friendly, quiet dinner in a local restaurant, away from the hustle and bustle of the past few days...Angel would likewise be taking his staff, Xander, and Anya out before their next night tour of the town haunts...Breaking the group up for
a little more relaxed atmosphere...

"I'd like to dress up a little..." Basey noted... "Except for Buffy Rebecca's wedding, I haven't really decked out in over a year..."

Besides, she grinned...She'd like to think of it as a date even if Buffy wouldn't...

And she had a serious question for her colleague...She'd noted Buffy's affection for Giles, and her interest in Warren...

Now of course with their joint return to college, made possible in Basey's case by Giles' insistence that the Council get off its tail and do something for the Slayers, even if it involved manipulations of her California residency status,... there would be new...opportunities...

But, she hardly found it likely they'd meet any one there to match these two gallant fellows...Each charming, intelligent, gentle...with unique qualities...Both...proven heroes...willing at a moment's notice to lay down their lives for them...

Of course she'd say three or even four...But Xander was, well...attached... And Wesley seemed involved with Cordy...

And of course, poor Angel...A shame...Anyway...

You don't find guys like these falling out of trees...

She'd spent a long time alone, except for her brother, dodging Sentinus' surviving minions...Not to mention those surviving family members of her own who'd wanted to lock her away due to her period of strange behavior during her thrall state after her parents' murder...

And in the Midwest you learn to grab a good man on those occasions when one passes through your little town...

So far as she could see you couldn't do better than Giles or Warren and she was more than ready for a little companionship...So she wanted to know...

Which one?...thought Buffy...

A little courtesy extended to the Greatest Slayer of All Time, human, by her admiring new colleague...

***

Angel and his LA team were scouring Sunnydale's resting places by day for Leto or a clue as to his whereabouts... A nervous Cordelia taking Buffy's warnings to watch Angel's ring to heart...

Despite the serious situation, Angel couldn't help enjoying his daylight stroll...There was really so much to be content about...

He'd never fully realized what a pretty little place Sunnydale was...And the knowledge that Spike had won redemption and his own Buffy not only reduced a little of his guilt but had actually given him a certain degree of new hope...Especially after Buffy's conversation with him the other
night...

And she still loved him, in spite of the BR memories of Spike she'd received during their merging...

Even if she was going to take up with that soldier boy Riley again or with Warren the "cybergenius"...(Angel having learned and approved of "Operation Distraction")...There was yet a potential Buffy Summers out there for him...Spike, of all people, had assured him of it in their
talks in his apartment and he believed it...

After all the current Buffy Summers was not immortal...He'd always known that he might have to seek her soul again, in a later reincarnation...

If she found 40, 60, 80 years of happiness with some nice fellow in this lifetime...He could be big about it...
Buffy and Dawn had been saved...When both might have been lost forever...

And Wolfram-Hart was still reeling from the blow of Lilah's revelations of the firm's criminal activities, courtesy of Willow...

He had confidence in his "grandson" and BR...If anyone could help Dru they
could...human Drusilla might well be at peace soon...One more source of guilt partially
lifted...

And he had yet a few more days to spend with Buffy and Dawn and his old friends,...He had not fully realized how much he'd missed them...And time spent in daylight, no less...

True, Willow's situation was distressing but they had already gone a long way toward preventing her destruction...

It might be a long, long time to complete his work, his path to redemption, and win his own Buffy, but he had more hope than he'd had in quite a long time...

All in all, a lot to be content about...and a very nice homecoming to Sunnydale...

***

One of Preacher Pat's staff returned with the news that he could not locate the missing Walthrops or their friend...Pat was not unduly alarmed...After all, even vampires could not leave an aircraft at 30,000 feet...

A few minutes later Willow and BR returned, Willow resuming her nap in her own seat...

Spike paused to speak with his relative...He needed to know what to expect from the Council...

"I don't expect they've completely accepted me as a reformed character?..." he asks Ms. Walthrop-Hunt as she packs up her equipment...

"The fact that I'm willing to spend a moment alone with you in this hold, even with the door open and a Slayer with three times normal speed down the hall, does indicate we do give some credence to the testimony your friends have given..." she smiles...


"And there have been rare cases of recovery of humanity before you...Though
never in one so old...We have a set procedure which allows for you to be treated as
a guiltless new individual...Though of course you must be watched carefully...probably
forever..."

Spike nods...Wise and sensible precaution...

"But why the intensive surveillance?...They didn't panic like this just because Dru entered England...There are plenty of vamps in England to deal with already...What is it that they want?..."

"Obviously, we want to better our relations with our Buffy Summers Slayers...They have been strained over the years...And we actually do view Miss Drusilla as a serious threat...But had no way to track her outside of you..." she looks at him thoughtfully... A strange mix this William
the Bloody...To achieve redemption through love of a woman, even a Slayer, even a robotic Slayer...Remarkable, if it's true...

"And?..." Spike waits...

"Ms. Summers-Walthrop defeated the Goddess of Glory and Victory...We're aware of the extent of Glory's defeat despite Mr. Giles' hesitance in giving us the details...Obviously we have a powerful new and potentially immortal weapon in the fight against evil...The Council is
determined to learn all it can about the new Buffy and to keep her with us in the fight..."

She grins, a little of Walthrop's wry look in her face...

"Which is why we're willing to handle your situation so delicately...In spite of your crimes...For now..."

Plausible, Spike thinks...And suggests they return before anyone finds them...

He watches her heading back...

But I will be watching you, great-great grandniece and anyone else the Council sends...

Just as Giles suggested when the Council seemed a little too willing to accept his demands...

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXV

Angel and his crew had come up empty in their daylight search...

Leto, wherever he'd got to, was well-hidden...If he really was still in town at all...

Meeting at the shop with the rest, they agreed that more "pressure" would have to be applied...

Giles informed the group that BR had reached him from the plane rather early that morning...She'd been contacted by a Council member...Who happened to be a relative of Spike's...

Wesley was especially surprised...One of Spike's people on the Council all this time?...And they'd never told them?...

Well, understandable from a certain point of view...

"She used her married name of Hunt on the Council..." Giles explained... "Although they were aware of her family connections...And kept them in reserve in case they might be of use against William the Bloody in an emergency..."

"Use?..." asked Xander... "Would the old Spike have stopped if his relatives asked him to?..."

"Oh...You mean for blood curses, voodoo, bait...that sort of thing..." Anya noted...

"Bait?..." Tara asked...

"Some vamps really love to nibble on the family...Draws them in like honey...Kind of creepy but you know vamps..." Anya replied...

"Yes, well, Anya has got it right...For voodoo, magic, that sort of thing...Relatives can be quite useful...Even if vampires have no real attachment to them in an emotional sense..." Giles

"Except Will...Now, anyway..." Dawn corrected, supportive sis-in-law, research assistant to Tara...

"And Angel..." she added, winning a smile from him...

"Absolutely..." Buffy agreed...

The Summers defend their in-laws and boyfriends, no exceptions...
***
The rest of their flight was uneventful and the Walthrops and Willow arrived at Heathrow Airport in London on schedule...

Ms. Walthrop-Hunt promised to keep in touch...For now she would be their primary contact with the Council...

They were now, at last, on Dru's turf...But for the moment, the Walthrops and their beloved guest were tourists...

On the Council of Watchers' nickel...

And they intended to make full use of it...With William Walthrop as enthusiastic, if somewhat time-befuddled, guide...

A long, long overdue reward for all Slayers, particularly the world-saving Greatest Slayer of All Time...And her devoted assistants...

***
Although Preacher Pat's business interests in Scotland were pressing, he found time to report into Sir Harold's office regarding the Walthrops and their friend...

Sir Harold was appreciative...As he knew Drusilla would be...

And he was intrigued to learn that the Slayer's red-haired friend, Ms. Rosenberg was with the Walthrops...Especially as he had seen the security tape taken from the Wolfram-Hart, LA building cameras...Showing William the Bloody, accompanied by a certain red-haired young woman...Who had thrown the 25th annual meeting of the worldwide board of WH into considerable confusion...

And whom Dru had told him had played some role in Buffy Summers' resurrection...

Most useful...He thanked his dear friend...And arranged to keep the Walthrops under constant surveillance...

***
Giles had not fully realized the implications of Warren's invitation to join him and the Slayers at dinner...At least not until he saw Buffy and Basey decked out in their finery and looking...

Really looking...

Of course it was all in the line of duty...Giving the Slayers a chance to relax and enjoy themselves without the bustle of the past week's events...

Nothing to be nervous about... Of course, young Warren seems a little...tense...

And this particular place does seem a bit on the romantic, intimate side...

Complete with dancing...Which Buffy took advantage of rather quickly, pulling Warren along...

Basey preferred to talk a bit...She was so fascinated by Giles' past exploits...And England...

His activities must leave him little social time... she noted...

Giles admitted that he was at times unable to get out much...But he managed quite well...He admired the Slayers for their ability to deal with the restrictions on their free time...

A Watcher's life must be...very lonely at times...she went on...

Well...

Warren found Buffy politely keeping him in the lead...Barely...

Spike's lessons were a big help, although he had trouble beyond the basic waltz step...

With all his work keeping up the business...A wonderful business, helping people with artificial organs and so forth...And all the help he'd been giving to her...He must be so pressed for time...Buffy noted...

Not much social time at all...

Well, of course, she herself must have troubles in that regard...Warren noted to her...

A cybernetist who assists in Slaying activities must be...very lonely at times...she went on...

Well...

Warren and Giles...Game in the crosshairs of two Slayers...

***
Leto was introduced to the agent of Wolfram-Hart directing surveillance in Sunnydale...

He explained his situation and offered to divulge what he had on Ms. Summers and her twin...

In exchange for information and assistance regarding Ms. Summers friend, Ms. Rosenberg...Whom Leto had learned had gone to England with the Walthrops...

The agent was curious, but skeptical...They already knew the Slayer had a mysterious twin, even more powerful than her sister...Trained abroad it was rumored...

Did they know who specifically had resurrected Ms. Summers?...Leto asked...And the unique nature of her twin?...

The agent thought some information on Ms. Rosenberg might be obtainable...And if Leto's info was useful...

***

Buffy could see Giles getting somewhat nervous under Ms. Granger's increasingly focused attention...

She guided Warren back to the table...And suggested he take Basey around the floor once...

She wanted a chat with her dear Watcher...

Giles was grateful...But Buffy noticed he did follow Ms. Granger as she danced with Warren...

Why Rupert Giles...

***

Angel and the rest of the gang, excepting Tara and Dawn, were back to the Raven's Hair, peacemaker Leto's old place, now supposedly under new management...The former owner having had to leave rather quickly...

The semi-demon barkeep was all smiles...But sadly couldn't tell them much...The former boss hadn't let him in on a lot...Vamps tend toward keeping their privates private, you know...
Angel nodded and put on his working face while grabbing the barkeep's head...And pulling him under the bar to the rear...Perhaps he needed a little massage to help him think...Surely he remembered a little more about his boss' favorite haunts...resting places...friends... The boss must keep in contact with some old pals...

Wes, Xander, and Cordy causally blocked Angel's conversation from view...While Anya happily took drink orders...The barkeep being occupied...

The barkeep's memory having improved under Angel's manipulations, he suggested they might wish to see Leto's dear sire, the famous "Voice" aka Phil...

Address?...Why, sure...He remembered the address...

Angel thanked him for his excellent service...And left a generous tip...

"Thanks..." the barkeep told Anya as she passed him the receipts from her temporary barmaid's stint... She'd actually done a pretty brisk business...

***
Dru was disappointed to learn on her tour of Brusset by night that one of the two major Walthrop families in the area had left on holiday...For at least a month...

However, upon reflection she realized it was not a bad thing that their house, a rather beautiful country estate was empty and "available"...

And one family of Walthrops was in town...

She arranged for several more of her human minions from her building in London to come out to join her...

The house would need some preparation for Spike's and Buffy's visit...

And she wanted to be able to properly entertain her "children"...

Sir Harold was only too happy to provide additional staff...

***
Leto's information, given to him by his beloved Willow while she was in a "cooperative" mood, was judged quite valuable...

The new Buffy Summers was a robotic copy of the original...with a human soul...

And Ms. Rosenberg, gentle, little Willow was the powerful instrument of Buffy Summers' resurrection...Not to mention the near destruction of Wolfram-Hart, America...

And she was still under Leto's shadow...Could, with a little assistance, be enlisted in their cause...

While the new amazingly powerful Mrs. Walthrop had a slight flaw, an amusing one really...

She could not kill human beings...Even the most evil agents of WH...

Not only was Leto's information valuable...His continued good health was now of some importance to WH...

Sir Harold, on review of the agent's urgent report, concurred with his conclusions...Besides...

He felt two star-crossed lovers like Leto and Willow deserved some help to achieve their union...

A mild-mannered English barrister was a sucker for a story of true love...

***

The Tie That Binds...Part XXVI

The expedition to Sunnydale Historical Society at Sunnydale Library the previous day by Buffy and Basey had provided Tara with more background on Leto, but nothing useful in terms of spell-casting...Which had rather disappointed her assistant, Dawn...Who had hoped to see Tara
strut her stuff...

However there was still his old home...And while Dawn would have to miss out due to school, Tara felt she should join the Slayers on their visit...

But she had promised Dawn she would go over the results when she arrived next afternoon...
***
Buffy's and Basey's "friendly" dinner with Giles and Warren had gone off rather well, despite the mighty sorcerer's and the brilliant cybernetist's extreme nervousness on the realization that they were on a "date"...

The dear gentlemen had had the gallantry to insist on accompanying the Slayers on their late night patrol...

Which remained quiet...The peace still holding for the moment...Although the Slayers were carefully to give out stern warnings to those few "peace-loving" vamps they encountered...

The patrol was extensive, due to the hunt for old Leto, and the Slayers' desire for conversation with their respective "fellers"...

Fortunately, aside from their appointment with Tara, they had only one college class each to attend the next day...Professor Constantine Drages' afternoon seminar on Byzantine history as matter of fact...

Which, Buffy having informed Basey as to Professor Drages' being the Emperor Constantine XXX, hereditary Emperor of Rome and Byzantium, Commander of the Knights of Byzantium, Basey was as anxious as Buffy to attend...

History from the horse's mouth, so to speak...

And it had occurred to Buffy that Professor Drages' loyal Knights...Some of whom were doubtless still in the Sunnydale environs...Might be helpful in their quest for Leto...

***
That was intense...Warren sheepishly told Giles after they had dropped off the Slayers at the Summers home...

Slayers leave little doubt of their intentions once they lock on to a target...

Giles agreed...But of course the Slayers desperately needed some relaxation...Both had been under terrible strain in the past year...

Buffy losing both parents, dying and experiencing the horror of vampire transformation...With her soul trapped in the vamp body no less...

Even her resurrection had left its mark on her...To have to deal with the knowledge that she had killed an innocent and that her demon was, after all, uniquely hers...A part of her...

And poor Ms. Granger...Parents murdered, herself under the control of the murderer for a year, her friend and Observer murdered after helping to save her...She running from place to place with her brother in tow for years afterward until the Council finally assisted her...And now facing the
responsibility of being a Slayer...

Both had to treated with consideration, he noted to Warren... Who agreed, but who, like Buffy, had noticed Giles' showing some interest in Ms. Granger...

Giles for his part being not displeased with Buffy's choice of the young "cybergenius"...Who had shown considerable potential for development over the past month...

And who, for once, was neither a vampire nor a member of a secret and sinister government organization...

***
Ms. Walthrop-Hunt had made her formal report to the Council of Watchers regarding her infamous ancestor and his new bride...And their friend, Ms. Rosenberg...

The Council was indeed interested in the new Ms. Summers-Walthrop... Whom Giles had reluctantly described to them over the course of the past few days, if only to prevent unfortunate "incidents" when she and Spike arrived in England...Especially when they realized one Buffy
was still in Sunnydale...

Spike and Giles in their last preflight conversation had pretty much correctly sensed the outlines of what the Council's thinking would be...A robot Slayer would arouse their interest...As would the idea of building additional ones...perhaps without the troublesome human aspects of a Buffy Rebecca...

It didn't take a great deal of imagination knowing the Council's mix of duty, fanatic self-righteousness and ambition...

Giles had therefore been careful not to mention Spike's partner in BR's creation...And warned "Dr." Walthrop to be cautious in discussions with the Council's representatives...No need for Warren to find himself kidnaped and dragged off to England to build new and programmably
compliant Slayer-bots...

Even if in the cause of good...
***
Before their class, the Slayers took Tara on a visit to George Letos' family home...Now a somewhat run-down boarding house...

The manager was happy to let the college girls rummage through the basement stuff...Hell, no family...nobody cared...Unless of course they found something valuable...

They found a box of old love letters...George Letos to his wife, Clarice...Plus some old mementos of happier days, photos of the powerful Sunnydale pol and cronies...Including...

A Willow, of five or six...With her grandfather...

"Well?..." Buffy asked Tara...

"I might be able to use these..." she noted...

Buffy decided to continue looking, Basey helping Tara sort through the letters...

Rather nice letters...Basey noted to Tara...Leto had had a little romantic streak in life...

The light in the basement went out, suddenly...And someone...something ran out into the room from where it had been hiding behind an oil tank and boxes...

Lunging for the box of letters...

Willow in her "cooperative" state during their encounters had warned Leto to secure his personal effects from the gang...

Which he had tardily been attending to...With the help of some few remaining "friends"...

***
The vampire grabbed for the box...knocking it to the ground...Basey reared up on him...And pulled her stake...

He begged for mercy...He meant no harm...Only to hide overnight in the house, then take the things...Leto, Leto had promised him anything if he kept the Slayers from getting his things...

He was a peace-loving fellow, really...

***

Basey stood before the vampire who looked at her...rather frightened, terrified, really...Looking into his eyes...
And slowly offered her neck...

Buffy cried out to her...

Fortunately the vamp was too frightened to take immediate action...Buffy was on him in a second, shoving the dazed Basey out of his way...

Shaking her out of her trance, Buffy quickly realized that Basey had no idea of what had happened...

Thrall?...Some kind of residual thrall?...She looked at Tara...Who shook her head...Only Giles could tell them what was up here...

Buffy cautiously explained to Basey that they had to get to Giles'...Still confused but willing, she agreed...

"Did we get him?..." she asked...

"Got him..." Buffy nodded grimly...

***

They told Basey as little as possible and got her to rest in Giles' den...

Giles was saddened to hear that Ms. Granger was still under some kind of influence...

Buffy was puzzled...The vamp hadn't seemed to recognize Basey...He couldn't have been one of her former nemesis, Sentinus' minions...With an old claim...

And the Council had checked her out, supposedly...

Giles pondered...

"It could have been some kind of posthypnotic suggestion by Sentinus...Buried and undetectable but to be triggered when she had a seriously close encounter with a vampire...Possibly to test the
Council's detection powers..."

"A little remembrance card..." Buffy shuddered...And thought...Dracula, Darla, Dru...What have they left in me?...

Tara looked at them...

"Can we do anything, Giles?...We can't leave her like this...Even if we keep her from Slaying..."

Giles looked past her and Buffy...Trying to gently wave them silent...But...

"Yes, Rupert...What can you do for me?..." Basey was standing in the doorway...Arms folded...

***
Just before Buffy, Basey, and Tara had left on their expedition to the former home
of a certain once prominent Sunnydale pol...

Angel and his crew had gone to meet Phil, aka the "Voice"...Leto's dear sire...

In daylight...

Phil being notoriously hard to pin down, they thought a meeting in his lair at this time of day would help to focus his mind...
***

Angel knew of Phil, an older vamp, once, briefly, a companion of Spike...
Famed for his restraint and reasonableness in dealing with the human world...

And therefore never the type Angelis would have hung out with...

***

Phil was not caught completely by surprise by their visit...He'd expected one ever since Leto's little scheme had collapsed...

The sins of the sons are often visited upon the fathers...At least when both are vampires...

However he had not expected to be confronted by the famed Angel... Especially not during daylight hours...

Well, at least the three Slayers are not leading the lynch mob...

***

Leto himself was en route to LA...Concealed from sunlight under the protection of what remained of Wolfram-Hart, America's agents...Now directed by Sir Harold of Wolfram-Hart, Europe...Most of the senior US staff facing 10-20 in federal prison...

He was reflecting on his actions...With uncertainty...

Had he done the right thing in alerting the Wolfram-Hart people to Willow's abilities?...

Obviously he was useful to them in that regard with his tie to Willow... And for the moment had saved his neck from the wrath of the Slayers...

Possibly there was even now a chance...With his new friends' help...Of completing his union with his beloved...

But...

These Wolfram-Hart types had their own agenda for Willow...That much was certain...

And if nearly everything else human had died in George Letos, something sincere still remained of his ability to love...

All focused on one gentle redhead...The first person to voluntarily show concern for him in so many, many years...

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXVII

Phil, being a vampire famed for his reason and common sense, was only too quick to provide Angel, Wes, and Cordy with what he knew of Leto's whereabouts...And actions...

And...with only a little more persuasion from the famed Angel...the current address of Wolfram-Hart's agent in town...

Phil asked them to give his regards to the three Slayers and good old Spike, his dear old pal...And hoped they would not hold Leto's follies against him...

He'd be pleased to do business again with them...anytime...

And...If the famed Angel didn't mind telling?...Where'd he get that ring?...

***

A young female jogger, a waitress by profession, living in Brusset, was only to happy to tell Dru about the Walthrop family still currently in town...After joining the ranks of her human pets...

A well to do bunch...With one member of especial interest to Dru...Whom she already had a little knowledge of via Sir Harold and Dr. Jones... William Walthrop, young heir... artist...bit snotty the waitress, still retaining a little of her anger and bitterness, noted...

Bitterness...Anger...Tendencies Dru, a Victorian, disliked seeing in women...And suppressed in hers...

William?...Hmmn...

Single?...

Single...And not gay...the girl noted, anxious to be helpful...

Seeing anyone?...Dru was genuinely curious...What kind of girl did the modern William like?...

Seeing...lots...Steady with none...God knows as to his preferences...

Ma'am...the girl added...After Dru's gentle reproval...

These modern girls...she sighed...No delicacy...

Well, if she knew her Walthrops...He'd go for the old-fashioned type...With a little grace...delicacy...

And she had just the girl for him...

As for her new "friend" she had a place for a trained waitress and devoted servant on her staff...If young Abby could learn to cultivate a less harsh, more gentile manner...

Abby was certain she could...

Ma'am...With a reasonable attempt at a curtsy...

***

Giles, under pressure from both human Slayers, agreed to do a probe of their minds using advanced hypnotic techniques...Aided by a mild probing spell to give a more visual picture of what might be hidden...In both their minds...
Basey was anxious and determined...She was not going to have this hanging over her head...She was not going to be forced to retire as a Slayer before she even started...

And Buffy had no intention of finding out Darla or Dru or Dracula had left a little "calling card" in her mind...At just the wrong time...

Giles agreed it might after all be good to have them working together for this...Guiding each other jointly...With Tara in support as well...

It would be similar in some ways to Buffy's vision quest if less dangerous but lacking the First Slayer as guide, the more support each had, the better...

But of course it meant...Sharing each others deepest thoughts and emotions...

Well, Buffy noted....She had already shared her deepest thoughts with her twin... While Basey figured...If you can't share your deepest thoughts and feelings with your fellow Slayer?...

"We'll be sisters, too..."she smiled at Buffy... "All three of us now..."

"Which we already are..." Buffy noted...

***

Through he had not shared any of his brother William's romantic nature, Philip Walthrop, the founder of the branch of theWalthrop family currently residing at home in Brusset, had been sentimental enough to start a family custom of naming the first son of each generation after his tragically lost older brother...

A custom which had been continued to the present William IV...

Who while not bearing a great resemblance to his ancestor, did possess a little of his romantic nature...

Not that Dru planned to take him for herself...No, that would be too easy to detect...And she was not planning to recruit among the modern Walthrops just right now...

That would only stimulate her little boy's efforts at her destruction...No, she had no need of extra servants right now...She needed them unvamped and unthralled...To help bring the American Walthrops in without arousing their suspicions unduly ...And so that if things did miscarry, the
American Walthrops coming to her doorstep would see the good sense of diplomacy and negotiation... for live human hostages...

She especially wanted young William, the heir and hope of Spike's family, under surveillance...And who better suited for the job than one of her dear girls, trained in Victorian-era grace and manners by Dru herself?...

***
Tara was on...

And with the success of the trip to Leto's old home in acquiring some personal items as well as the new problem posed by the discovery of Basey's subconscious thrall state, she had a full plate...

Though dear Giles was on hand in full support...This was her chance to demonstrate her skills...

Leto first...

She carefully followed the steps of the tracing spell she and Giles had determined to use...And using a few of Leto's old letters...To direct and focus the spell...She concentrated...With Giles, Buffy, and Basey...

Until an image appeared in their minds...Of a large nearby city...A hidden, secure room in a large tower building...

A building which they recognized...Not far from the now closed-pending-federal-investigation Wolfram-Hart tower...

LA...They realized...Leto had fled to LA...And now they knew approximately where he was...At least where he would most likely be during daylight hours...And at least for now...

Giles congratulated Tara...Willow would be so pleased with her progress...

And now the more complex process...Where the Slayers would play the major role but Tara and Giles provide key support...
***

The agent who had sent Leto on his way to LA was still at his motel when Angel and his group arrived...

Being a loyal member of the Wolfram-Hart family he was pledged to give up his life for the greater glory of the company and its long-term goals...
Being a member of the Wolfram-Hart family his primary interest was his own miserable hide and under Angel's gentle persuasion he was quick to give up the information that Leto had been sent to LA under WH protection...And to let them know what information Leto had passed on to
WH...

They headed back to Giles'...It was clear that it was time for Angel Investigations to return to home base...As unfortunate as it might be to have to cut short their homecoming to Sunnydale...

***
Spike was fascinated by the changes in London, even since the Second World War...

Not to mention seeing the city in daylight for the first time in over 100 years...

Still, as befuddled as he was, he managed to make a fine tour guide to his two charges...Who for their part happily papered over his many mistakes and confused pauses...And a lot of the old city was still familiar to him...

Willow felt a leetle guilty...Buffy Rebecca was so radiant she could have lighted up Piccadilly Circus...Spike practically had to be held down to keep from floating off...

They really should have had their honeymoon to themselves she thought...They'll be back to the old grind soon enough...

But they refused to let her keep aloof of their happiness...And included her in everything...Taking care not to forget that a human recovering from blood-draining might tire well before a robot and vampire...
***
Buffy, followed by Giles, with Basey beside her, strolled slowly through the images of Basey's subconscious...

While Tara attentively monitored their bodies in trance state...

Basey with her parents...Happy...Playing with her little brother...Friends...

Ms. Post, dark and threatening...

And Sentinus...Rather more handsome than Buffy expected...Even charming...

And the change in Basey as he put her under thrall...Concealing her state from her family...Watching her parents die, blankly...Trying to feign emotion to family and friends at the funeral...

And Max...Giles' old friend and a worthy one...

Who pushed and prodded his way into her life until he learned her secret...And saved her...

It wasn't surprising that she should have fallen for my Giles, Buffy thought...

And Sentinus' buried command...To offer herself to any vampire who she was ready to Slay...

An effective means of protecting himself surely...
***
Giles guided Basey to Sentinus' end...When somehow in reaction to Max's death, she'd found the strength to drive the stake into him...And made her see the buried last command...

With it out in the open, she could overcome it...he assured her...

She was a Slayer...

Buffy pressed her hand and Basey nodded...And kissed Giles, somewhat to his and Buffy's embarrassment...Even if it was all in their minds...

But not entirely to Giles' displeasure, Buffy noted...

Now as to Buffy...
***
There hadn't been much time for Darla or Dru to work on Buffy directly the night of Buffy's transformation, Giles had felt, but she had, as she had finally conceded with reluctance, been in Dracula's thrall for a week...

But there was nothing left there...Just Buffy's faint embarrassment at succumbing to Dracula's charms even for an instant...

They proceeded on to the night of the transformation...Basey saw and experienced with Giles Buffy's horror and sorrow at Hank Summer's unmasking as a new vampire...The coming of her sister to her aid... Their joint and suicidal despair when they both, for a instant, saw his soul in
his eyes for the last time as he tried to warn his daughter...Her death...And transformation...

The week of horror...Killing an innocent...The demon tearing at her, demanding...Her desire to surrender, to flee to her parents...The love of her sister and friends turning the scales back in her favor, keeping her in this world...Darla through Dru's skills trying to strengthen the demon to
overcome Willow's restraints...

Her offering of her body to Buffy Rebecca...And Spike... Their refusal, at the cost of being separated, perhaps forever...And her decision to have Willow risk the success of the resurrection process to merge her sister's memories with hers, so that BR and her beloved could be reunited...

And something, more...In the dim distance...

Joyce, coming gently to her...Pleading?...For what?...

For survival?...For her daughter to spare her?...

"Mother loves you, Buffy..." the dim image of Joyce said to her...But...

Buffy, standing with Basey, called out to her...But Giles knew...And pulled her back...

And moved to the image of Joyce...

Buffy pulled from Basey, now a stake in hand...Giles was going to hurt Mom, kill her...She mustn't let him...

Giles pulled Joyce's head on the image back...And it dissolved...Into Drusilla...Who continued to plead gently for her life...

Before Giles could reveal the true face to her, Buffy staked him in the chest...Basey jumping at her and pulling her back...To see Drusilla smiling faintly at them...

***
"Tara!..." Basey screamed...Breaking the trance for all three...

Giles collapsed in agony...Basey and Buffy ran to him...Buffy horrified, almost incoherent...

They summoned an ambulance and raced for the hospital...Giles' symptoms those of a heart attack...
***
Angel and co found Tara's message and met them at the hospital...

Giles had suffered a minor heart attack...

Buffy was prostrate...She'd nearly killed him, no matter that the stake was imaginary...

And all for Drusilla...
***
He was able to speak to them in a little while...And help Buffy understand...

Obviously Dru had been using her clairvoyant abilities to encourage the demon within during Buffy's struggle...Probably at Darla's insistence...

But, as Spike had told them, Dru's main concern was survival, first, last, and always...

So she'd added a little something for her own protection...A hypnotic memory to link her image to Joyce's...After all in her own mind, Dru was Buffy's third mother after Joyce and Darla...And to compel Buffy to at the very least to refuse to kill her "mother"...Even, perhaps, defend her...

But now...she was aware...Like Basey...And could deal with its...

Buffy came out of her grief in shock and interrupted Giles...

"Giles...Buffy Rebecca is me...She has my memories...Including the ones after my transformation..." Buffy looked at Giles...

They had to contact the Walthrops...As soon as possible...

Dru might well be better protected against the Greatest Slayer of All Time than they've ever thought...
***
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