The Mum-In-Law From Hell

The Tie That Binds...Part XXVIII

Dru had selected her girl Bonnie for the young William Walthrop IV...

Formerly an attractive, hard-driving, independent young career woman living in her building in London...Dru had "smoothed" away the "rough" edges of her manner and considered her the best of her human minions...

Very much like Dru herself in manner now, shy, gentle, and wan, minus of course Dru's psycho killer aspect...A charmingly winsome, old-fashioned young lady, attractive enough to appeal to a young romantic artist ...

And ready to perform any service in her mistress' interest...

***

Giles had assured Buffy that he would be fine...With the army of gang members hanging around his bed, she, Angel, and Tara could easily be spared to begin trying to reach the Walthrops and the Council by phone...

She nodded...Basey was at his pillow fussing over him...

Buffy couldn't help feeling just a twinge of regret...A pretty strong twinge, actually...Basey was right...Good heroic types like Rupert Giles do not fall out of trees everyday...

Still, he'd never have been able to deal with it...And it would have been well, a little icky for her...For a little while...And for the gang...Her second father...

With Basey at his side, a Slayer watching the Watcher, Buffy knew she would feel a little easier...Some of the fear that one day some enemy, another Angelis, would be clever enough to realize just who the pillar of her strength was, would be lifted...

And he'd always be her Watcher...More of a father in fact than...Well, no...She wouldn't do that to Hank's memory...But her second father, definitely...

Still, looking at Giles, hiding his pleasure at Ms. Granger's attentions, she couldn't quite repress that twinge of regret...A feeling that maybe just maybe she'd foolishly passed up something wonderful...

After all, she'd had a guy over 100 years older...And her twin had married one...

***

They got a message to the Walthrops' hotel to call them back immediately...And one to the Council explaining the possible danger posed by Dru's autohypnotic suggestion...

Angel discussed the situation with her and Tara in the hallway...He felt his team should get back to LA without delay if Leto was to be caught...
Wesley had already put the WH building under surveillance and had just expanded that to include the tower discovered by Tara with her spell...

Buffy thought...Perhaps it was time she had a change of scenery...Things in Sunnydale were quiet and Leto was the main problem at hand...

Besides she'd always wanted to see LA with Angel...

For his part, Angel couldn't hide his pleasure at the thought of squiring Buffy around his city in daylight...

His city...? Buffy couldn't help thinking... He still does that "HIS city" thing?... But she managed to repress the "bloody stupid" comment she'd picked up from Spike via BR's memories...

Tara was only too happy to join them...As was Warren who had rushed over on reaching the shop after work and calling Dawn at home who'd told him...

Buffy was rather pleased to see that her " -gap" guy was dropping everything once again to help her out...

Definitely potential there...

***

"Heaven...I'm in Heaven..." the strains of the song played as William and Buffy Rebecca Summers...Walthrop danced among the couples...

Willow watched from their table...They did make a beautiful couple...Maybe not the most attractive or glamourous but...Definitely the most beautiful...

BR waved to her...

She felt a protective pang for them...So odd, feeling this way for two who would still be dancing when she and Giles and Tara and even Buffy were long dust...And yet, both so fragile...

The embodiment of what Xander had been talking about in his wedding day speech...The tie that binds us...The love emanating from the Slayers...Powerful enough to save even William the Bloody...

Perhaps even Drusilla...

And even me...

A wise man, my friend Xander Harris...she thought...

***
Buffy briefed Xander on Basey's little problem...She should be fine now, but the "legendary human Slayer" should patrol with her...While Buffy and the gang in LA dealt with Leto...If he ...And more importantly, Anya...who was pleased to be included in the life-threatening negotiations...wouldn't mind...

When one's beloved is the "legendary human Slayer"...And needed...

But she insisted on being part of the Patrol group...

Dawn was not happy to left out of the LA expedition but relented when Buffy pointed out that someone had to coordinate things with the Watcher incapacitated...With the gang now so extended, it was vital that their operations be properly tracked and communication maintained...It
might mean the difference between life and death for some of them...And she expected Dawn to take the assignment seriously...

Not to mention collecting her college homework assignments for the next few days...Likewise of vital importance...The Council's "scholarship", however much a reward, still depended on Buffy keeping up her grades...And their keeping the house depended on her keeping the "scholarship"...

Dawn accepted her duties...Besides going to the college would include seeing Professor Drages...Who was in contact with dear old Ben in Greece...

***
Willow had somehow not associated karoke bars with London and merrie ole England...But somehow on their tour of famous ole pubs, Spike had managed to find one...

Not really all that difficult an achievement Willow was to learn...To her disillusionment...

Buffy Rebecca shyly but with the hubs' ardent encouragement was demonstrating the one area where she most differed from her twin...

She could actually sing...Quite well...Willow had already known she could hum...But...

[Suggested theme...If I Only Had a Heart]

BR smiled at Spike and Willow from the stage...And nervously, at first, sang...To them...In a rather jazzy style...

"When a girl's an empty kettle...Her heart may...be made of metal...Still it can be...torn apart..."

Willow grinned...

"Now I may be presumin'...But I think that I am human...If I truly have a heart..."

"I am tender...I am gentle...I can be...so sentimental...And I really feel the part..." She looked at the beaming Spike...

"So I may be presumin'...But I believe we're human...If we only have a heart..."

"Picture me...On balcony...My beau comes from..below...Strange place to find...Romeo..."

Willow winked at Spike...

"I heard his...Beat...So sweet..."

"When he registered emotion...And pledged me his devotion...I gathered up my nerve..."

"And I likewise think he's human...Though you may think I'm presumin'...'Cause I know he has a heart..."

That did it for Spike...Willow pressed his hand as he lost it...The audience applauded...

She came back to the table...Shyly...She was startled...She hadn't meant to make him...

He embraced her...

One month...One little month...

If I die this week, Willow thought...It will have been worth it...Just to see this...

***

The Tie That Binds...Part XXIX

The message Buffy had phoned in to the Council was taken by one Sidney Pruit...A junior member, most of the Council being away and in bed at this time of night...

He had promised to deliver the message to the appropriate people...

Sir Harold was pleased to learn that Dru had provided herself with an additional fall-back safeguard...And that it might well be effective against the new Ms. Summers-Walthrop...

He was even more pleased to learn that his practice of keeping an agent on the Council had paid a handsome dividend...Despite the American head office's disdain for the Council, he'd always retained a certain respect for their abilities...Ever since his days running agents for the SS Occult
Researches Branch...Just before his liaison service with the vampire legion...

Still, pleased as he was that the warning had been blocked, at least for a time...He realized that an inevitable divergence of his interests and Dru's was beginning...

WH was as interested as the Council in Buffy Rebecca Summers-Walthrop ...And her red-haired Wiccan friend...And wanted them both...Intact...

Well, intact to the extent that Mrs. Walthrop and her remarkable brain could be studied...And Ms. Rosenberg's transformation properly completed...

Still, at least for now he could continue to help Dru in her campaign against William the Bloody...However, once that traitor to his kind was dealt with...Dru would have to be restrained from dealing with her "daughter-in-law"...A shame, really...Dru had become almost a daughter to
him in the brief time they'd known each other...

But then he had no wish to become her version of a father...or son...

And those who have acted against fellow WH family must eventually be dealt with...At the appropriate time...

In the interest of preserving WH's image and status among the underworld's inhabitants...

***
Buffy slept on Angel's shoulder as they drove to LA with Wes driving...And dreamed...

Of the battle with Glory...But fought in a different setting...And no Buffy Rebecca, well, a robot Buffy was there, but not a BR, definitely...And she, Buffy, acting so strangely...Threatening her friends, Giles...With death...Well, ok, if they harmed Dawn to save the world...But still...

Spike was a hero...As naturally was Xander...But what was Joel Grey doing there?...And how could she be crazy enough to blindly leap into a dimensional vortex?...And die without knowing whether it would work?...

At least she would normally have tried binding Dawn's wounds first...And what was that crazy obsession with Dawny anyway?...I mean, I love Dawn and I would die for her, but...

Must be something the monks left, those jerks...

She woke, startled...God, it was just like those dreams she'd had during Warren's neural recording session...

Maybe she'd better have a talk with Warren about this...When time permitted...Or consult a good psychiatrist...

Well, at least her suicidal depression had definitely lifted...

She snuggled back...This time onto to Warren's shoulder...Can't let him feel left out...

Wes noted them in the rear-view mirror and was just a little relieved to see Buffy moving to Warren's shoulder...He was glad to see Angel happy but maybe the boss was getting a little too much happiness this week...

***
Leto paced his secure room...He was clearly a prisoner as well as an "honored guest" of the WH family...

He had no fear for the moment of his new allies...They needed him if they were ever to "acquire" Willow's services for the cause of evil...Although naturally they would have no further use for him once her transformation was accomplished...In fact he suspected they would prefer not to have him "interfering" between them and the new Willow as her sire...

But his primary concern was for Willow...Much as he wanted her with him...He could not
bear the thought of her sweet nature being twisted in the hands of Wolfram-Hart...Even
the little humanity he had hoped to preserve in her transformation would be lost in
their service, he could now see...

Perhaps he should reconsider his alliance...After all, an experienced old pol with a sense of history like George Letos knew all about the shifting sands of fortune and the need to be "flexible" in one's alliances...

***
Professor Drages was pleased to hear that Buffy was well on the mend and that her twin had completely recovered from her "illness" and was on honeymoon...He and his remaining Knights had been terribly distressed to hear what Ben had, following Giles' instructions, been allowed to tell them of the two Slayer sisters' deaths and resurrections...

Giles had preferred that Ben not mention BR's unique nature to the Professor...Not that he distrusted the Emperor...But Constantine XXX was after all a Caesar...Whose primary concern was the protection of the world from any potential evil...And there was always the chance that he and his Knights, like the Council, might feel it their duty to learn more about a robotic Slayer...

But for Dawn...Who had been a little nervous on seeing him again...After he'd nearly ordered her assassination during the Glory fight...He had that twinkle in his eyes...Even when he reminded her that even the noble Miss Summers...Both of them...Had to fulfill their course requirements...

And he was quick to gallantly promise any assistance to them that he and his Knights could provide...In fact, he happened to have several stationed in LA right now...And would alert them to be ready to assist the Slayer at any moment...He would head out there to join them as soon as possible...

Dawn thanked him profusely...No, dear Ms. Summers...It was he who was in her and her sisters' eternal debt...
He reassured Dawn that the Slayers would prevail and dear Ms. Rosenberg would be saved...

And yes...He'd be glad to pass on Dawn's best to Benedictus...

Benedictus...He sighed as he watched Dawn leave...With Buffy's and BR's course work in hand...Ah well, his chosen successor Basil would just have to look elsewhere for a consort...

Pity...Every bit as noble and courageous as her sisters...

***
Realizing that Willow was exhausted, the Walthrops suggested that it was time to call it a night and head for the hotel...

They were rather pooped themselves, come to think of it...And they had some construction work ahead of them...BR's biotank having been shipped in parts to a storage facility...

Its assembly was a top priority for Spike who, more than ever did not want to take any chances with the health of his new bride...Though BR was not anxious to sleep in biogel goo again, thank you...

Ms. Walthrop-Hunt met them at the pub's entrance as they were leaving... With news...

Drusilla had been detected...In Spike's home town...Behaving with uncharacteristic restraint but unable to avoid leaving a slender trail of gruesome murders...

Spike could see she was worried...Had she family there?...

Fortunately her branch of the family still residing there was on holiday...But there were Walthrops currently in Brusset...

He nodded...He'd head out immediately if she could arrange a place for him to stay...

Willow and BR refused to consider staying behind...He was after all in many ways the most vulnerable of them all...And they had not come to England just to applaud his heroics from the sidelines...They'd tolerate only so much Victorianism from him...

He sighed...Welcome to the 21st century, "Dr." Walthrop...he thought...

Still, to have someone care...After all those lonely years...

His great-great-grandniece didn't have to remind him as they waited for the others to collect their coats that he was an extremely lucky fellow...Even considering the injustice of his curse...

He could only agree...Even if he died this week...

***
The Knight's commander in LA was waiting for them at Angel's offices when Buffy and the group arrived...

He saluted Buffy and reported that the Emperor was on his way...And that, having contacted Mr. Giles at Sunnydale Hospital, he and his comrades had taken the liberty of placing the building where Leto was likely to be hiding, as well as the WH tower under discrete surveillance...

They were at her service...

Wes checked on his own group who reported that no one had left either building answering Leto's description...neither by the normal exits nor by the extensive WH tunnel/sewer system...

Wes was sure his informants watching the tunnels, subdwelling more or less friendly demons would have detected any attempt to move Leto to the WH tower building...If he was still in LA, he was in that building...

Buffy suggested the assault should be made in daylight and as soon as possible...When Leto was at his most vulnerable...It wouldn't take much to destroy him, the main problem being to prevent his escape...If some of the Knights in civilian dress, with Buffy and Tara in disguise could slip into the building by the surface entrances...While Angel, Wes, Warren, and Cordy with the rest entered via the main tunnel system...

An excellent plan the commander agreed...

***

Leto informed the agent "watching over" him that he was feeling vague impressions from Willow's mind...His superiors had asked Leto to concentrate on her and keep them informed of anything he received from her...So perhaps he should bring him to them...He felt the images
would be of interest...

The agent checked and indeed his superiors were interested...He and his assistant opened the door and brought Leto out to the hall...

Leto, as Spike had noted, was not by nature a fighter...Sensing which the guards had not taken especial precautions with him...However, he was a vampire...And when aroused to action by a threat to one he cared for...

***
The Knights had had a impressive array of credentials available, including identification as federal agents...

Considering Wolfram-Hart's recent legal troubles, it was no surprise to the building entrance security guards that a few feds should demand immediate access to the Wolfram-Hart auxiliary offices in the building...

Being rather short-staffed due to the ongoing string of indictments the WH personnel in the building had considered the tunnels only as a possible escape route so that Angel and the others below were well inside the building's basement by the time special agents Buffy and Tara and
their fellows had reached the third floor area where the first WH suite was located...

Just as Leto, in the fourth floor hallway of the second WH suite, made his break...

***
Dru's "assistant", Bonnie, under her influence and instruction, had indeed caught the eye of the young Walthrop heir...Traveling out to sketch, by a remarkable coincidence, just where the young William IV had set up his own easel...

Who engaged her in conversation and soon found the gentle young woman to have a remarkable affinity for the things most of interest in life to him...Aided by Dru's clairvoyant abilities...

And while his distant ancestor and companions were taking in London's night life...He and Bonnie had spent a very pleasant evening together...And agreed to see each other the next day as well...Their romance rapidly blossoming...

Which pleased her mistress no end when Bonnie returned to her later that night...

She indeed knew her Walthrops...
***
Leto rather easily overwhelmed his two guards and made for the stairway...WH personnel having been simultaneously tied down by a warning of intruders in the basement of the tower and a sudden assault by the "special agents" pouring into their third floor suites...

True to character as always the captured WH staff members outdid each other in providing Buffy and her fellows with information on Leto's location...She, Tara, and the Knights raced for the fourth floor to find that Leto had fled...For the roof...

***
Leto had reached the last area protected from sunlight near the roof access...Except for an occasional startled office worker, he had not encountered much in the way of obstacles or pursuit...the WH staff being occupied...

But he could hear the sounds of new pursuers moving up the stairs...And recognized the Slayer's voice in their midst...In a moment they would be on him...

He steeled himself...And burst through the access door with what covering he had been able to devise...Reaching the edge of the building in smouldering condition, he turned to see the Slayer and her fellows emerging in pursuit...

He could see the opposing rooftop of the next building and made the jump, barely making it...

Buffy warned the others back, sent Tara to call Angel to meet her in the other building, and followed...

But by the time she linked up with Angel in the other building it was clear Leto had escaped them...probably via the sewer tunnels...

They coordinated with the others and with Tara and Warren and a detachment of Knights, now accompanied by the newly arrived Emperor, they entered the tunnels...
***

The Tie That Binds...Part XXX

The tunnels quickly branched out into a wide maze...Even with the support of the Knights it was soon clear they could only concentrate their searches on a few of the major ones...

While they paused to review the situation, the Emperor recommended that some of his people move out to cover as many exit areas as possible...Buffy agreed...

Fortunately the Knights came well equipped and did not lack for cell phones...Or weapons...

Fearing they might become separated quickly, Buffy suggested to Angel that he keep an eye on Tara while she kept Warren close by...

Much to her surprise the two had already followed a group of Knights down one tunnel together...

***

Leto managed to stay one step ahead of his pursuers until nightfall when he slipped out of the tunnels and caught the commuter train...for home...Sunnydale...

Buffy and the group scattered through the tunnels finally called a halt in the early am...

None of the Knights checking exits had seen Leto...But they reported it had been impossible to cover more than a few at a time...Likewise for Wesley's contacts among the tunnel dwelling demons...

Discouraging...Especially with all the extra firepower...

But she was puzzled as were Angel and the others...Why had Leto been fleeing the protection of WH?...Several of the more feckless WH staff had told her that he had fled them before she and the others arrived...

Of course it hadn't been much protection in the end...

Professor Drages listened thoughtfully and suggested to her that perhaps Leto's agenda for Willow had, in the end, differed from that of the Wolfram-Hart staff...

She agreed...She could guess what WH had in mind for gentle Willow...Perhaps, somehow, Leto had enough feeling for her to wish to avoid that fate...Or at least enough selfishness to wish to keep her to himself...

A wise man, that Byzantine Caesar...she thought...

Angel suggested they alert Giles and Basey...Leto might well be returning to the old stomping grounds...Buffy agreed...

And noted that Warren and Tara and their Knights had not yet returned...Learning that no word had been received from the group for over an hour she decided to check on the status of her "stop-gap" guy...and their remaining witch...

***

Ms. Walthrop-Hunt had arranged lodgings for the Walthrops and Ms. Rosenberg at a small inn just outside Brusset...She had a small cottage near the currently empty family estate for her own use...

Spike and BR requested she abandon that plan...To stay alone, exposed, with Dru in the area might jeopardize them all...And she was their contact with the Council, the only source of potential help and reinforcements...

She agreed to stay with them...And that it was best for all to keep constant watch over each other from now on...

***
Buffy Rebecca was not entirely displeased to be staying near Spike's home town...In a charming little inn...Even if they were now approaching the danger she'd feared ever since Spike had announced his intention of freeing Drusilla from her curse...

He was sleeping...She watched him...He'd never seemed so much like a little boy...

She knew there would have been no stopping him in any case...Just as she could not be stopped from meeting Glory...And it was essential to his redemption...He sensed that and she did too...

But...she was frightened for him...Drusilla was in her unique way the most terrifying vampire Buffy Summers had ever encountered...Who'd killed a fellow Slayer in front of her eyes...All the more dangerous in this case she felt because Dru had no great, grandiose schemes for revenge or Apocalypse... Just a desperate desire to survive at any cost...

It was not the usual defense they were mounting but an attack...Dru was the one
fighting for life...On her home ground...And she had had time to prepare...

Still BR was fighting for her husband's existence...She knew that Dru still hoped to drag the demon in him out from wherever love, the chip, and William Walthrop's soul had managed to drive it...She would never allow that to happen...Whatever she had to do to prevent it...Whatever the cost in suffering for her...

But there was one thing more...Buffy Rebecca had her own agenda in the hunt for Dru...Much as she might sympathize with the human Drusilla's agony...

Dru had murdered and condemned her William, tried to kill Dawn, nearly destroyed Buffy...

And killed Hank Summers...

***

Leto had hopped off the commuter rail just a mile before Sunnydale anticipating the efforts of the Slayers and their friends to intercept him...

Which Xander, Anya, and Basey had attempted...Even now pausing at the rail station before moving on to check the bus station and major roads into town...

He was uncertain as to his next course of action...But he knew now that so long as he was bound to Willow...She was in danger...

He hadn't entirely lied to the Wolfram-Hart people...He had faintly sensed what she was seeing...In London...though he had been uncertain where she was...Until the WH staff had informed him...

The effects of Angel's transfusions were slowly wearing off...And his tie to her was slowly gathering strength once more...If she was not freed from him, soon...She would die and transform...In a place where he could not protect her...From her friends...Or his...

But the more serious threat were his Wolfram-Hart allies...Who, now having lost him and his connection to her, would try a more drastic route to speed her transformation...And who had access to her in Europe...If their boasts were true...

His love might be hopeless now...But there was still a service he could perform for her...If he lived long enough...

All a question of timing...he thought...

***
For her part, in the inn, just outside Spike's home town, Willow had begun to sense that she was again losing ground...But this was not the time to distract the Walthrops from their mission...

She vaguely sensed that Leto was fleeing...Hunted...And thinking of her...

She brushed the feelings off...And tried to figure out how to make an international call...She desperately needed to hear Tara's voice...At least someone from home...

No one at the shop...No one at the Summers'...Their dorm?...No...Giles' place?...Nothing...

Perhaps...They were hunting Leto...

She gave up and tried to sleep...Without success...

***
Buffy and Angel found their missing friends over a mile inside the tunnel network crouching near the entrance of a smaller branch tunnel...Their phone signal had been blocked by thick rock and electrical interference...

Rubbish, bits of scattered junk, and finally, a burning light, deep inside, indicated that someone or something was living inside the tunnel...They'd held back while Tara had used a letter of Leto's, brought with her, to try her locating spell again but without success...Whoever was in there, it was not Leto...

Angel, however, recognized a scent immediately...As, to her surprise, did Buffy...A little legacy of her few vampire days...One she'd become all too familiar with...

Darla's scent...

Angel regarded Buffy...Much as he understood her anger and could admit the justice of her case against the creature who had killed her father as well as herself...He still hoped to avoid a confrontation between the two...

Buffy however...

But she allowed him to follow her in...

***
No Darla...The scent though unmistakable...Was several hours old...

Warren and Tara joined them...As did two of the Knights...

But Darla had left something behind for them...Which a Knight found out the hard way, stumbling over the rope which triggered it...A booby trap...

The roof of the small tunnel collapsed on them...Fortunately Darla had not had time or desire to get very elaborate...
***
"Everyone alright?..." Warren cried out...

They were fine...Though the tunnel was blocked by rubble...But the Knights still outside were quickly joined by comrades and had nearly broken through before the group inside had finished checking on each other...

Calming after her initial rage, Buffy agreed it was unlikely Darla had meant the trap for them specifically...Probably just part of her natural instinct to defend the home lair...It might even be something Dru had set up when she lived with her...

Buffy also couldn't help noticing that Warren seemed to be a hair more anxious about his slightly shaken "cyberassistant" Tara than herself...

But then, natural enough...Tara wasn't superhuman...
***

Angel was visibly relieved that a direct confrontation with Darla had been avoided for now...

While Buffy reluctantly agreed it was best to hold off on a pursuit of Darla for the moment and there being no sign of Leto that she and the Sunnydalers should return home, leaving Angel Investigations with the job of monitoring for Leto in LA...

***

Buffy, Warren, and Tara accepted a ride home to Sunnydale with the Emperor...In a rather small car for one who was the hereditary Emperor of Rome and Byzantium...

But then, Buffy reflected...A college history professor's salary...

At that it beats what the two human Slayers could afford...

The wife of Dr. Walthrop, the "cybergenius" on the other hand...
Angel and the LA crew promised to report any word of Leto immediately to them...And would have the continued support of the Knights stationed in the city...

She had a few moments to say good-bye...

"We never did get to tour those sites..." she teased...

"Next time, I promise..." Angel told her... "After all, daylight is now my time..."

She frowned...She didn't like the idea of his playing with that ring any more than was necessary...At least not until it was surgically attached...

Cordy had promised however to keep a constant eye on it...

He nodded over at Warren who was talking with the Emperor and Tara...

"Not a bad choice, Buffy...He seems nice...And quite skilled, if your new sister is any indication..."

She grinned at him...a little sadly...Not yet the time for us...

"So he passes muster?..."

Angel looked seriously at her...

"If he can make you happy...he passes muster...Of course it's only a loan...Until someday..."

She nodded...

"Until someday..."

She kissed him good-bye, then thanked Wes and Cordy profusedly, and the Sunnydalers left for home...
***
During which she made a point of paying attention to Warren...

Pleased as she was to be back on a better footing with Angel...she had to consider the here-and-now...

Besides, if she was right, Warren might be heading into deep waters regarding his female "cybergenius" partner...And if so,Willow's interests were also involved...Not that she doubted Tara's affection for her friend...But...she wouldn't want to see either Warren or Willow hurt...

...A Slayer keeps her options open...

***

Sir Harold was furious to learn that Leto had slipped through the fingers of the remnants of WH, America...

Pity he couldn't use old school discipline with those fools...old Nazi school, that is...

Still, it simply meant they would have to ensure that Ms. Rosenberg died while Leto still lived...Well, still existed...

And the Walthrops had, according to his surveillance, moved on to Brusset...As he and Dru had hoped, even a little ahead of schedule...

All in all, things were going quite well, Dru being well prepared to meet with her "children"...

Including having his old friend, Dr. Jones on hand...As well as Sir Harold's promised "extra help"...

Now, all just a matter of timing...And patience...

***

Willow and BR found each other pacing in the hallway both unable to sleep...BR peered at Willow nervously...

She might lack medical training but as a Slayer she could recognize Willow's condition...The transfusions' effect was fading...

Willow looked at her sheepishly...And grinned...

"I'm not heading for the dank moors...If that's why you're wandering around at this time of night...Lover boy is still in the US, I'm sure of it..."

"Just doing my nightly fret...When I don't have patrol duty I get antsy..." BR smiled at Willow...

"And my blondie is dead to the world..."

"Is this the vampire who wanted to build a sex robot to have you?" Willow grinned back...

"Well...you know Spike...Pretty typical guy, really...Promises a girl endless mayhem...rampaging violence...Backs away all shy when the moment comes..." she chuckled...But, a loving bride, she couldn't resist adding...

"But always there when you really need him...As long as you pound him one...Hard..."

Hmmn...Willow thought...And she does have three times the average Slayer energy...Does that carry over to?...
***
Ms. Walthrop-Hunt had emerged from her room and joined them...She looked a little anxious...

They apologized for waking her...She smiled and shook her head and turned to BR...

"Ms. Summers-Walthrop?...Can I speak to you?...Alone?..."

Willow watched them enter Ms. Walthrop-Hunt's room...She decided to remain in view of the door...After all they had agreed to watch each other...

And, like Spike and Giles, she did not entirely trust the motives of the Council of Watchers...
***

Willow would have been even less trusting had she entered the room with them...And seen, as BR did, that Ms. Walthrop-Hunt...Amelia... was in extreme anxiety over something...

"Ms. Summers-Walthrop, there's someone here you must meet...Who wants to help..."

BR looked a little around the room as quickly as possible...No one else in sight...

"No..." Amelia looked at her...at pointed at herself... "Here...in me..."

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXXI

Sir Harold had contacted Drusilla via her human minions at Brusset...

It was disappointing that things had not gone off in America as well as he had hoped...A poor performance by the shell-shocked dregs of the WH, America team...However...

Leto may have been lost, but Willow was still very much in their grasp...And the fascinating Mrs Walthrop likewise near, though perhaps not quite so vulnerable...Although if Ms. Rosenberg or her husband came into their hands...

Even one so powerful as Ms. Summers-Walthrop had her little weaknesses...Therefore...

Sir Harold had a favor to request of his dear partner, so like a daughter to him...

As long as Ms. Rosenberg was in the area with her dear "children"...Could she possibly consider paying a call?...Perhaps a little sooner than she had planned?...

With assistance from his staff, of course...

***
Dru had been entertaining when Sir Harold reached her...Her dear "friend" Bonnie had brought home a guest...

One William Walthrop IV, artist and descendant of Spike's brother Philip...

Who'd been rather surprised to find Bonnie's charming "aunt" so youthful...And even more surprised to find her living in the home of his absent cousins, descendants of Spike's other sibling, Amelia...

But then that side of the family tended to keep aloof about its doings...Though William couldn't help but wonder if perhaps the caretaker, Scroggs, was earning himself a little extra in rent while
the owners were away...

***
Dru was thoughtful...Much as she liked the idea of causing Buffy pain through the loss of her friend...Particularly the friend who had done so much to upset Grandmother's plans...

To take the offensive against her enemies...Expose herself...After all her pains to prepare her defense...

And in the middle of a very pleasant evening with Spike's descendant...

Not a very jolly prospect...

Still, she could not easily say no to dear Sir Harold...Whose friends and employees were essential now to her survival...

After all, thanks to her dear minion Bonnie, she now had "insurance"...In the form of young William IV...hope and heir of Spike's brother's family...

Whose "little romance" with Dru's faithful minion was now going to have to take a surprising turn...At least from his point of view...Involving a enforced stay at Dru's...

Perhaps, with so much help available...And if her little secret hold on Buffy was still intact...

But if she was to take such a risk...Then she expected her allies to fulfill their part of the bargain...

And secure her little boy for her...

***

Spike strolled into the hallway, obviously looking for the Missus...

Willow grinned at him and thumbed towards the room where she and Ms. Walthrop-Hunt were discussing matters...

"She's with your...niece..."

Spike came up to her and peered intently at her...Not good...Rather time for a trip to the nearest ER he'd say...If they had one in this god-forsaken hole...

"Red, you look like hell..."

Spike always has a compliment ready for me Willow thought...

But he was looking intently out the large hall window towards the gate at the end of the front yard...

They had visitors...
***
In the room BR regarded Amelia...
Someone inside her...Wanted to speak with her?...

Amelia explained that she had not been as callous toward her ancestor's plight as Ms. Summers-Walthrop might have thought...Since early in her career with the Council she had been experimenting with channeling... In vague hopes of one day reaching William Walthrop's trapped soul... Perhaps to help him escape...

BR nodded...

But...Amelia hesitated...She had had no success...Until a few weeks ago...When someone finally did reach out to her...Someone who knew her ancestor...slightly... and like him been trapped...Until, for an instant...Her buried soul had been brought out of its limbo prison...By Ms.
Summers-Walthrop's dear friend Ms. Rosenberg...

Drusilla...

[Suggested theme...Song for Dru (The Maids of Arrochar)]
***

Amelia left it to her to explain...Drusilla had very little time as it was...Before her demon would become aware of her reaching out ...And drag her back...

"Miss..." Dru spoke through Amelia... "How can I thank you?...You and Mr. Walthrop...To risk so much...For me..."

"I...Who have failed God so miserably..."

BR was in tears...This is so unjust...It is for God to apologize to you, poor Dru...

"You are not to blame...Dru...ummn...Miss Drusilla..."

But how was she here?...And why?...

"Your friend loosened me from my prison, Mrs. Walthrop...I had no strength to fight ‘It’ before...My faith...failed me...After he...the other...killed me...I thought God had forsaken me...For my weakness..."

"You are not to blame, Drusilla..." BR began...But Dru had little time...

"I had to speak to you...And to Mr. Walthrop...You are in danger...It knows you are here...Pursuing it...And It has friends...God forgive them, humans..."
BR nodded...But...

"You especially are in danger Mrs. Walthrop...It wants to destroy you...More than Mr. Walthrop even..."

"'It' can't hurt me, Dru...er...Miss..." How do you address an innocent Victorian nun, BR wondered...

"No, Mrs. Walthrop...You are wrong...It can destroy your soul...And it will...I have seen it..."

A vision?...BR thought...And asked her...

Amelia as Dru took her hands firmly, pleading...

"It lives to destroy souls...Mine, Mr. Walthrop's...Yours...To drag them down into Hell with it..."

"But I must tell you that you must not let it have you...Your soul...Your body. It...And its friends want both...And they will succeed...Unless you are prepared for them..."

"But what are they planning, Miss Drusilla?...How can I be ready?..." BR asked her...

A little plain-speaking, please...

"You must not agree to what they will ask of you...No matter what happens...You must not. And you must be prepared to face the consequences of that..."

Spike...BR thought...She means I must lose Spike?...

"Drusilla...Tell me...Will I lose my husband?..."

"Mr. Walthrop will never be lost to you completely, Mrs. Walthrop...Not so long as his soul lives...But I cannot say if you will lose him for a time...I can only sense that much more will be lost if you agree to their demands..."

"Drusilla...What are they...It...going to ask of me?...Can you tell me anything more?..."

"They want you Mrs. Walthrop...to surrender yourself to them...I cannot sense more...Forgive me, please...I must go..."
Amelia returned to her normal state...Shaken...

BR was pensive...So Dru wanted her as did her "allies" whoever they were...But did human Dru mean that they wanted the Slayer's... Buffy's... soul...and body?...Or did they know more about her own nature than she thought?...

But the most tormenting thought...Was she doomed to lose William as she feared?...Would his demon be released again?...Would he be destroyed by their enemies?...

Would she have to kill him to save him?...

Amelia looked at her...

"Buffy?...I don't remember all of it...Is there anything I can do?..."

"No, Amelia...But thank you...Any information helps...But..." BR looked at her sadly..."Prophecy and I have never gotten on too well..."

"Poor Drusilla..." Amelia shook her head... "It seems so unjust..."

Yes...unjust hardly begins to describe it...BR thought...

William is right...God is a merry fellow to do this to us all...And I would like my own five minutes alone with Him at the end of all this...

And forgive me...Buffy and me..., poor Dru, for ever thinking you weak, blaming you...

For Daddy...

A bang at the door...And a hasty shout from Willow...

They left the room hurriedly...To find that Spike and Willow were engaged with company...In the front yard of the inn...

Drusilla and her friends had come calling...

***
Leto had reached downtown Sunnydale in one piece, having slipped past Xander's and Basey's attempts to monitor the bus and train stations as well as major roads with some help from Knights in the area...

He had every intention of meeting with the Slayers and their friends...But not until he was ready...

He had watched and listened carefully and quietly while a "guest" of Wolfram-Hart...As befit a master politician...And only needed a chance to make a phone call to confirm his information...

Collect, to Europe...

And then to do what he could to ensure that the information would reach Willow safely...

***
Mum-in-Law from Hell theme (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly")
Spike had to give Dru credit as he watched her approach, entering through the inn front yard gate...There was something courageous in her coming to them, boldly, knowing what they had in mind for her...

Even if she had somehow managed to find a small army of human and vamp goons to back her up...

Willow left him only long enough to bang at Amelia's door and joined him in the yard...

Not realizing that she in fact was the reason for the party...

***
The Emperor dropped Buffy, Warren, and Tara off at the Magic Shop...And promising to keep both his LA and Sunnydale Knights engaged in the hunt for Leto, took his leave...

After reminding Ms. Summers that she had considerable class work to make up...

***

It had been a rather strange evening for young William Walthrop IV...Bonnie, a girl gentle, passionate, and then strangely apathetic, by turns seemed to run especially to extremes in the presence of her aunt Dru...Who had been a dear but perhaps just a little too old-fashioned...

Particularly in her ethereal manner...which aped every Dickens' eccentric he'd ever read of...

And rather more interested in him than the average aunt of his acquaintance...But then she was rather younger than the average aunt of his acquaintance...
However nothing had prepared him for what happened after "aunt" Dru took her phone call...

***

Drusilla halted just after passing through the front yard gate...And looked quietly at Spike...And Willow...

Her "back-up" team was however a bit more active and closed in on them quickly...A few vamps, Spike noted, mainly humans...Well armed with crossbows...

But not moving in for a kill...just yet...

***

Tara in the Magic Shop was again trying her locator spell using what they'd left of Leto's personal letters...

She sensed him fairly quickly...On his way to Buffy's home...

Dawn...Was he meaning to take Dawn?...As a hostage?...

But, thank God, she was with Giles at the hospital...

After reaching Basey and Xander by cell phone, Buffy and Warren left Tara at the shop to man the phones and headed out to join them...At the Summers'...

***

"Hardly your style, dearest...To bring in strangers..." Spike looked at Dru...Who faced him in the inn's front yard...Her little army of allies and followers keeping close...

"Spike...Silly, silly little boy..." Dru sighed... "You and Buffy have been making such trouble for poor Dru..." She brightened... "How was your wedding?...Did my Buffy make a pretty bride?..."

"Lovely..." Spike indulged her...Noting the others moving in slowly...Closer...To Willow?...

"We missed you...But Buffy appreciated your gift..."

He carefully motioned Red back...
Nothing doing...She was here for the full monty...

"And did Angelis remember it?..." Dru grinned... "I thought he might..."

"He remembered it..." Spike slowly backed toward the inn door... "So what do you want, dearest?...I'm afraid we didn't bring any wedding cake..."

"You're the one who wants something of me, I think...my poor silly boy...But..." She focused on Willow... "Little one, my friends want to speak with you..."

"This is strictly family, dearest..." Spike told her... "Willow is not involved..."

"Oh, but Spike...My dear old ‘uncle’ wants to speak with her...And she is involved...She hurt Grandmother...Broke her heart..." Dru crossed her heart with a finger... "Right in two..."

"Come here, little one..." she reached out to Willow...

Spike blocked Willow's view and prepared to throw her back...She was already susceptible...

But oddly enough Dru's call was having little if any effect...Willow stood her ground and grinned at the nervously watching Spike...Her mother hen...

Both Dru and Spike were a bit surprised...Not like Dru to fail with a hypnotic summons...In eye contact of her victim...

A more direct approach was required...

***

[Suggested Leto's Theme (The Godfather)]

Waiting for the Slayers near their home, Leto had felt Willow in danger...And done what he could to strengthen her resistance...

He felt mildly ridiculous...He, such a practical fellow by nature, caught in such a foolish situation...Driven by the tie he himself had forged...To destroy himself for his love...

Perhaps, if there was an afterlife for his soul, his wife Clarice would appreciate the gesture and ignore the fact that it had been directed towards someone else...She might...She was a tolerant and romantic soul...It was pleasant for him even to fancy that Willow was Clarice reborn...

She had after all died long before Willow came into the world...

Basey and Xander had arrived...And saw him waiting for them...

***
Leto looked at them...and smiled...

They staked him before he could finish pulling out what was in his pocket...

Two letters...

The letter to Buffy warned of WH's plans for Willow, including an outline of what he had learned of their operations in Europe, and profusely apologized for Leto's foolishness with the hope that the peace would somehow be continued...

Most important it included the name of the old English law firm that WH, Europe used as its cover and that of its director...the distinguished Sir Harold Milliken...

Along with a direct phone number to his office...

The other was to Willow...

***
There was a commotion off to one side of Dru's little strike force...

The Greatest Slayer of All Time had joined the fray...From a side door, seeing that the major threat was from the group of Dru's "friends" moving in on Spike and Willow...

As always she could not kill the human allies but she could do an excellent imitation thereof, tossing them right and left as she cut her way through...To Drusilla...

Who had given up hypno games and charged for Willow...With her followers in close support...

Dear uncle Harold would have been so pleased by her enthusiasm...So much improvement over her last period of employment with WH...

***
Willow had suddenly collapsed...Just as Leto had been staked...And Dru was on her in an instant...

Spike threw Dru off Willow...And Buffy Rebecca came up, scattering Dru's followers...And looked at Drusilla...Who trembled...To suddenly find herself abandoned by her fleeing allies...

She knew this Buffy, the strong one who'd thrown her and Grandmother around like dolls...But...with a soul, now...A Bad One...Buffy's...

But BR froze, seeing...Mom...It couldn't be...

But staring at her...Was Joyce...

"Help me, Buffy..." she called to her...

"Mom?...Mom?!..." Buffy Rebecca cried...

"Buffy..." Spike screamed to her... Dru fell back and ran toward the gate...He chased after her...

She couldn't let him...Hurt Mom...No...

BR was on him in a second...And threw him back...She wouldn't hurt him but...

Dru stared at her from the gate...

Willow called to her... "Buffy...Buffy!...That is not your mother!...Listen to me..."

"Don't let them hurt me...Buffy..." Dru called to her...

Spike was up and trying to slide past her...BR threw him down again toward the fence...Unconscious...She stared at him...She couldn't let him hurt Mom...

Willow came up behind her where she stared at Dru standing by the gate...

And a group of rallied figures beside her...Who advanced on Spike and them...

Willow wasn't sure what you used to bring a robot out of a trance...But assumed it took something preety hefty...So she grabbed the first thing available and whanged Buffy Rebecca on the side of her head with a rock...

She came out of her trance...And confronted the group closing on them...Who fled...Except for two she managed to grab...

Dru had slipped away...

And Spike was gone...

***

Willow was apologetic...She hadn't meant to hurt her, you understand...But crisis situation...

"It's ok, Will...We'd have lost you too..." BR looked at her...and faintly smiled... "But I do bruise, in case you didn't know..."

I've let him down...And lost him...she thought...Oh, God...What did she do to me?...

"Buffy?...What do you want to do now?..." Willow came over to her...

"I'm going to find my husband...Alive or dead...And destroy that thing and anyone helping it..."

She turned to look grimly at the two humans she'd captured...Sitting nervously on the grass...

Who claimed to know nothing...Hired by friends of friends for a little "job"...

Willow was a little nervous...BR had the same look Buffy had when she'd come in for Warren that day back in the shop...The dark side of the Slayer...

Well, at least she couldn't kill them...Intentionally...

***

Ms. Walthrop-Hunt ran out to them...

Buffy was on the line via the Council and her computer...With urgent messages...

***
Though Wolfram-Hart, Europe was known to prominent members of the European underworld both criminal and demonic...Its offices had always been carefully disguised under the name of an old, conservative English firm...For just the sort of eventuality that had resulted with the collapse
of WH, America....

Therefore, Sir Harold was rather surprised when he received a phone call from...

Mrs. Summers-Walthrop...

Who requested an immediate meeting...

***

The Tie That Binds...Part XXXII

Buffy had been saddened to hear that her earlier warning on the posthypnotic suggestion left in her...and therefore, BR's...mind by Dru had not reached BR in time to prevent the loss of Spike...

But at least she had been able to provide a clue as to who Dru's mysterious human allies were...

As well as a direct phone number to their top dog...

Courtesy of the late Leto...

***
She and Warren, with Basey had headed into the hospital to consult with Giles...Now well on the mend. While Xander and Anya provided some back-up...and the good news on Willow's release from Leto's grip...to Tara at the shop...

Giles, Dawn, and Basey's brother Leroy were engaged in an intense game of Trivial Pursuit...Focusing on what they knew of Drusilla, Spike, Darla, and Wolfram-Hart...

As always with Giles, having a practical point at bottom...And a rather brilliant way of avoiding the strictures laid down to him by his doctor, his friends, and especially his Slayers to keep from any work...

A brainstorming session, both Buffy and Basey realized immediately...

"Giles!..." Buffy shook her head...And glared at the sheepish Dawn... Who'd caught on to what Giles was up to but had been enjoying the "assistant researcher" post too much to give it up...

"Rupert?!...Did you get any rest at all?" Basey asked him...Quite protectively...

My partner is rather free with my Watcher's first name...Buffy noted...

Oh, well...She did give me a choice...And glanced over at Warren who was helping a chastened Dawn gather up her notes...

And not a bad choice at all, really...Hmmn...

I must remember to have a little talk with Tara when things settle down, though...

***
Back at the shop, Tara was grateful to hear the news on Willow's release from Xander and Anya...But a little saddened to hear that Leto had tried in the end to do something to make amends...

Not that she felt Basey had been wrong to stake him...It was just a little sad...

But Xander didn't quite agree...He had done some thinking on the whole issue of vampire redemption...

Leto had died trying to do some good...A rare thing for Sunnydale vamps, Xander could tell you...

Perhaps, if there was any guilt that could be associated with some poor soul who'd been trapped into the undead existence, something like that cleared the books...

It seemed to have worked quite well for Spike...And was in progress for Angel...

And after all, everyone Leto cared about...excepting Willow of course...was long gone...

No, Xander felt...If you had to be a vampire...And you had no chip or gypsy curse or robot human-souled Buffy to help you out...It wasn't a bad way to go...Dying while trying to do something good...

A lot better than being staked in the midst of a bloody kill...

***

Giles was concerned to hear that Dru's attack had seemed aimed at Willow rather than the Walthrop's...And that she had had considerable help...

Clearly Wolfram-Hart had guessed Willow's potential...

And she would still be weak for a while yet, even if Leto no longer existed to exert his hold on her...

"So...You don't think it's time to restore Willow's abilities?..." Buffy looked at him...Both she and Basey were hovering nervously around the Watcher...Anxious to make him rest...But Buffy had to go over this...Willow was the closest source of potential reinforcement for her sister...

If her brother-in-law was to be saved...

She was determined to do something to help them...

No...Giles did not feel it safe to restore Willow...If, while still in a weakened condition...she should fall into Dru's hands...Or some other agent of WH...

But...there was still the Council...Even if they had proven ineffective in transmitting vital information...

Buffy nodded...

But in any case she must not lose heart, Giles told her...BR had information on WH, Europe now...And knowing her...She would use it...To the greatest effect...And as soon as the idiot doctors would let him out of this room...

Basey strongly hinted it was time to leave...She wanted Giles to rest now, please...

Buffy repressed a mild spark of resentment...She didn't need to be urged to take proper care of her Giles...

But he did look a little worn...She noted guiltily...

***

On their way to the shop, Basey apologized...She hadn't meant to cut between Buffy and her Watcher on Slayer business...Particularly involving family...It was just that...

"I take too little care and too much advantage of Giles..." Buffy finished...

Well...Basey wouldn't say...

"It's true...But I'm glad he has you watching him...'Bout time that Watcher was properly watched..." Buffy grinned at her...

And noting that Warren seemed lost in thought, gave him a little pat...Worried about his "son-in-law" and good buddy...Not to mention his "daughter"...

"Spike will make it, Warren...Believe me, he's beaten worse odds..." she smiled at him...

"And I oughta know..."

He nodded...But noted that BR was now facing human enemies...And humans, thanks to him, were her Achilles heel...

And then told her his idea...Perhaps there was a way Wolfram-Hart's new interest in BR and Willow could be exploited...
***

Leto's lifetime of keeping his eyes and ears open had paid off during his time with Wolfram-Hart's LA survivors...During phone conversations with the firm's leaders, anxious to learn what he could tell them of Willow and BR, he had overheard, in the background the European branch's cover name...That of a famous and venerable old English law firm...

Headed by the distinguished jurist, Sir Harold Milliken...

It did not surprise BR to learn from Buffy that Wolfram-Hart used a different name in Europe...

The firm took care to cover its tracks...And had the connections, equipment, and talent to do so...

Buffy had begged her to be cautious...Knowing all too well how futile that was...

If the firm had answers regarding Dru's and Spike's whereabouts...BR would get them...Whatever it took...

***
She saw a tall, sixties-ish white haired man wearing spectacles at his desk, looking quite hale and hearty...

"Mrs. Walthrop..." a pleasant Sir Harold rising from his chair greeted Buffy Rebecca cordially...

***
"What do you think?" Warren asked Buffy...Who frowned...And yet, couldn't help being pleased...Was this the guy who a month ago she'd gladly have thrown into the nearest garbage disposal?...

But...To take such a risk...A more than personal one really...

To fly to England to help BR...And perhaps, if possible, to offer himself as a trading chip for Spike?...

The robotmaker for the ersatz "cybergenius" vampire?...

Giles would love that, she thought...To risk handing Wolfram-Hart a potential army of obedient robots, dedicated to pure evil...

He'd be lucky to reach England alive...If word reached the Watchers' Council...

But BR and Spike were his family...She might be helpless against the new human foes...And she had only a severely weakened Willow to help her now...

Buffy reluctantly agreed...But he could not go alone...

And as Basey had clearly overcome her little problem in Slaying as her work on Leto had demonstrated...

A Slayer was available...Who had family and best friend interests in the matter...

Warren had suspected she might insist on going...And therefore had booked two tickets when he'd called the airlines from the hospital...

Definitely potential there...Buffy thought...

Just a matter of discussing the "Tara situation" when opportunity allowed...

***
Basey reluctantly agreed to cover things up until they were well on their way...And to watch over Dawn and Giles and the gang...Whatever happened...

Well, Buffy thought...At least we get some time together alone...A chance to get to know each other...

Before we start mass killing our way through Wolfram-Hart, Europe to Spike...

***
Dr. Jones aka Hans Grezner was pleased to finally be called in for his part in Dru's little game...

He set to work with gusto...Most of his surgery in the past 56 years had been so routinely life-saving...

This was a chance to shine...And relive the good old days...
***

Sir Harold was all smiles, but volunteered nothing...

His firm had had "contacts" of course with the famed Wolfram-Hart firm of the US...But as to a partnership with them...

He couldn't possibly comment...Given the current legal situation...

"But you do know our Miss Drusilla?..." BR was getting impatient with the elderly barrister...Who clearly enjoyed stringing her along...

Well...His firm handled hundreds of individual clients...But even if the lady in question had legal dealings with them, he obviously could not discuss them without her permission...

She sighed., and after begging him to contact her if he did hear anything of the "lady" in question...took her leave...

After firmly implanting him and his entire staff in her supplemental memory...

***
Young Mr. William Walthrop IV had spent a rough couple of nights...After Bonnie and other minions of Dru had seized him, drugged him, and dragged him to Dru's little basement dungeon...

Clearly the bloom was off the rose in his latest romance...But what was all this craziness about...

A kidnaping most likely, perhaps some kind of con game?...With the youthful eccentric "aunt" as leader...

And the poor fellow in the other section...What had they been up to with him?...A "doctor" had been active with him...It looked as though they'd actually performed some kind of gruesome surgery...

Amputated a finger, perhaps...To mail as a warning to the poor bloke's family?...Pay up or else?...

He'd seen it done in American films and TV...All the time...

***
As he left his office a while after BR had left him, Sir Harold was visibly on guard as
befitted the current leading light of Wolfram-Hart...But he was quite willing to give
the remarkable Ms. Summers-Walthrop a proper chance to follow him and those
who accompanied him...And throughly expected her to do so...

He was all-in-all rather exhilarated to be taking the field again after so many years...And he was looking forward to making the acquaintance of the legendary William the Bloody...At Dru's, in Brusset...

Their last meeting at Leningrad had of necessity been too rushed for formal introductions...

***
Giles was understandably furious to learn that Warren and Buffy had headed off to England...But realized there was no point in giving the Council too much information on Warren's unique talents...He therefore merely passed on the information that Buffy was on her way with a friend...

And suggested the Council make an effort to provide a little more assistance than had been the case to date...

Basey was apologetic over her role in concealing the leave-taking but she sympathized with Buffy's and Warren's "family" concerns...And pointed out that BR and Willow were in serious danger if humans were fighting them...

However ironic that fact might be...

Besides, she could see that Giles wasn't totally unhappy to see Buffy back in the game...With a chance to shine in an area where even her powerful sister could not compete...
***
For her part, Buffy Rebecca was aware of the danger of following Sir Harold right into whatever he and Dru had waiting...And she had not entirely forgone the assistance of the Council...

In the form of Spike's...niece, plus or minus four generations...Who would be working with and protecting Willow...

While Spike's loving Missus had a rendevous with her psycho "Mum-in-law"...

***
A still groggy, chained, and well-trussed up Spike had little difficulty recognizing Dru as she approached his cell...But somehow she seemed...Different...

He couldn't sense her...As a vampire...The stuff they'd used on him perhaps...

She looked at him, almost gently...Her silly little boy...

"Are you feeling better?..." she asked, almost kindly...

He nodded...But as to that...He did feel rather...

"What have you done, Dru?..." he asked her wearily...

"Spike..." she put her fingers to her lips... And pointed toward the other cell...Where young William IV was now up and pacing...

Spike looked over...Someone else here?...The Missus?...Not likely, unless unconscious she'd have smashed through the bars in a second...Willow?...

"What's going on here?..." young William called out to them... "If this is about ransom...My parents will give you anything you want..."

Dru grinned at Spike...And shook her head...

Humans and their obsession with the material...

No wonder the modern world has so few real values left...
***

"A relative of mine, Dru?..." Spike asked her, soft enough to avoid being heard by the young Walthrop... "Thoughtful of you dearest..."

Dru nodded and smiled...

Then Spike realized he was feeling something he'd nearly forgotten in the past weeks...

A faint touch of bloodlust...Not his usual appetite for BR's blood cocktail...The real thing, complete with an urge, still weak, but definite, to make a genuine kill...

The chip had been deactivated...And his demon was banging on the gates once more...

But Dru had a guest to deal with...And curious as she was to see the effect of Dr. Jones' work, she preferred not to have Spike interfering in their conversation...

Several of her staff on loan from Sir Harold approached and one shot "Dr." Walthrop with a tranquillizer dart...Rather a dangerous dose had he been human...

She inquired pleasantly after young William's condition before returning upstairs for a moment...

To see that her dear "daughter-in-law" was properly greeted...
***

Amelia and Willow had kept as close to BR in her London trip as possible without risking detection...And followed her back to Brusset with equal caution...

Giles reached them via Amelia's computer just after they reached Brusset...This time settling in at Amelia's cottage on her family's estate...To inform them that Buffy and Warren would be joining them shortly...

They did not inform him that they now realized the Walthrop estate was currently occupied...By Drusilla and her "friends"...No need to upset poor Giles any more than necessary, Willow thought...Besides...

They had to keep in support range of Buffy Rebecca...Who had no intention of taking a slow, cautious approach...And, in pursuit of Sir Harold, had halted on the estate grounds only long enough to pause at Amelia's cottage to make sure it was unoccupied...

Before she went up to the main house and began scouting for any signs of Spike...And the entrance least likely to be heavily defended...

One of Dru's minions very kindly opened the front door for her...
***

Buffy's and Warren's plane had arrived in London just as BR, followed by Willow and Amelia, had set out for Brusset...

Contacting Giles and the gang by phone, they headed out to Spike's hometown as quickly as possible...

But they were not unobserved, thanks to the work of the traitorous Mr. Pruit...Who'd passed on news of their coming to his employers at WH after learning of it at the Council...

And to Sir Harold at Brusset...Who was pleased to hear that Dr. Walthrop's business partner was coming out to them...

After all, he had seriously doubted that the good "doctor" could have accomplished the feat of BR's creation single-handed...However much he appreciated Spike's abilities as a vampire...

Not to mention the original Buffy Summers...

He'd long wanted to meet that remarkable young woman...

Pity no sign of Ms. Rosenberg as yet...But all in due time...

***

After the young woman left her in the hall, BR found most of the ground floor empty, except for a locked room which turned out to lead to a basement door...She cautiously went down the stairs and found Dru's makeshift dungeon...

Spike was unconscious, suspended lengthwise at waist height by chains in a large metal cell...A cage, almost...
Two guards, armed with crossbows were beside him...And a third...Drusilla...

Drusilla moved to stand over Spike...BR hurried to the cell but could not force its door open for all her strength...No way to pick the lock...She battered at the door, bending the bars, tearing the skin from her hands...In a minute...

"Stop!..." Dru called sharply...


And she saw that Dru had a stake in her hands...

"Let him go Dru..." she cried...

Dru called to her...Pleasantly...

"In England, it's customary to say please when requesting something of your mother-in-law, dearest..."

She pushed the stake ever so gently into Spike, just touching the skin over his heart...

"Please...Please, Dru...Don't..." BR begged her...

"You don't want our boy to have peace?...Strange..." Dru regarded Buffy Rebecca... "I should think you of all people..." She twisted the stake...

BR cried out to her, pleading...

"You don't want this...You don't want him to go, Dru...Don't do this... Oh, please..."

"He means...that much to you?..." she cocked her head at BR...Watching the tears streaming down her face...

BR trembled and nodded, knowing it would do no good...But Dru hesitated...
***

"Why?..." Dru looked at her...

"Really, Buffy...I am so puzzled..." Dru was sincere, BR realized "...How did this happen?...You and William?..."

"I don't know...I only know..."

"That you love my boy..." Dru nodded... "A good answer..." She pulled the stake away...

She put her finger to her mouth...

"Lets let him rest...poor silly boy..."

She waved Buffy Rebecca back and quickly emerged from the cage, closing it behind her before BR could slip in at it...

***

She moved to BR...

"You know what will happen to him...If you try to harm me..." she nodded at the guards... "They don't like me in any case..." she smiled at them... "So they will not bargain with you for me..."

Buffy Rebecca nodded at her...Still alive, still a chance...

"Now...Lets go upstairs and get acquainted...As a new daughter and mum-in-law ought..."

She guided BR back up the stairs to the hallway and into a large parlor room...

***

One of Dru's human minions, a young wan-looking woman served them tea...

Sir Harold was apparently not to join them just yet...

"This is my friend, Abby..." Dru indicates the poor girl...Clearly in the heavier stages of thrall...

"Meet my new daughter-in-law, dear..." Abby absently nods at Buffy...And stands protectively nearby Dru...

"It's good to have such dear friends...I find I've missed that...these last years..." Dru tells BR pleasantly...

"Is this what you want, Dru?... Me, like that?..." Buffy Rebecca looks at her...

Dru was clearly a bit annoyed...Spoiling her pleasant tea party with such direct questions...

"You must learn a little more reserve, my dearest...To be an English wife and daughter to such old-fashioned types as my boy and me..."

She pauses...

"Besides that would hardly be possible, in your case, would it dearest?...Not being in a human body, after all..."

BR looks at her...Dru grins...Just full of surprises is Dru...

She looks questioningly at BR...

"Tell me, dearest, was this how you escaped Grandmother's plan for you?...You see, I never forget an enemy's touch..." She gently stroked Buffy Rebecca's hand...

"This is the body of the empty one, the strong one who held Grandmother and me back...The day you were returned to mortal misery...Your soul, but a machine's body?..."

She laughs...

"I never believed in your Science myself...But it has certainly worked for you, Buffy...and my little boy..."

***
Dru insisted on the amenities of a proper English high tea before she would go further...

Her human self had never had such things at home in her poor mining town, she told Buffy Rebecca...So she found them a great treat now when she had the time...and company to enjoy them...

Her "daughter-in-law" watched her carefully, hoping for an opportunity...At least she was a little more rational than in their past encounters...

***

Dru was childishly pleased to see that BR could eat...She hadn't been certain...

And happily pressed tea sandwiches and cake on her...

Finally, she regarded BR warily and began to discuss their "problem"...
***

"It's you I don't understand, Buffy..." Dru smiles at her... "You say you love him...You could have had him safe with you in America...Yet you let him come, knowing what would happen..."

"I was willing to leave you both alone...Grandmother's anger with you doesn't apply to me, he must have told you that...You were the ones who hunted me..."

Buffy Rebecca looked at her...

"He couldn't let you suffer, Drusilla..."

Dru regarded her coldly...A breach of manners there...To address a vampire demon's human counterpart...

"You could have found a way to stop him, dearest...If you love him..."

She smiled at her sweetly...

"And you think me a monster..."

"You killed my father, Dru...Do you think I could let you go?...Even if I could have persuaded Spike to..."

"Yes...I killed your father...And you and your little friend sent mine to Hell...dear Angelis..."

"But we have a practical problem to solve here...Though I don't like worrying oneself over such things..." Dru wrinkled her brow in thought... "I can't kill you, it seems...Or even make you my ‘friend’...And while you could kill me...You lose our boy if you do..."

"So what are we to do, Buffy?..."
***

The Tie That Binds...Part XXXIII

Buffy reluctantly let Warren drive after they'd been stopped twice by police...For driving on the wrong side of the road...She was rather distracted after all...
They reached Brusset in the early evening...And found Amelia's cottage without too much difficulty...

***

Dru bit her lip as she pondered "our problem"...

BR watched her cautiously...

Dru's prime interest was survival...If she grabbed her by the throat...Frightened her
into surrender...But Spike would be dead before even BR could reach him if Dru
wasn't lying about her Wolfram-Hart allies' disinterest in her survival...

And given WH behavior in the past...

***
Buffy in the cottage with Warren, Amelia, and Willow considered their next move...

Since BR had not yet come smashing through the front door of the Walthrop's home with Spike in tow...

Obviously she and Spike were in great danger...Probably a delicate situation...Very likely involving Spike's life...err...unlife...Possibly hers as well...

And they could not risk attracting WH attention...Not with Willow and Warren, two major chips, in easy reach of their forces...

Warren, however, suggested that this was not a time for too much caution...He'd come prepared to trade himself for Spike and if dealing for him could draw the WH forces out...It might give BR just enough scope for action...

"Our hero..." Buffy noted wryly...But Willow could see she was pleased...

The issue was settled for them, however...By Sir Harold...Whose people now stormed the cottage...Several of his agents having followed Buffy and Warren from London, courtesy of Mr. Pruit's information...

***
Drusilla continued her mediation, hands clasped as if in prayer...
Perhaps...there might be a solution...

BR noticed suddenly that she could not sense Dru's vampire nature...Strange...She noticed the pendant Dru wore...

The same one Darla had worn the night she came to destroy Buffy and Dawn...That had blocked Buffy's ability to sense her true nature...

Dru causally informed BR that Spike had been freed of his electronic conscience...

Was that not reason enough to send him to the eternal peace the Slayer so stridently claimed to offer?...Did she perhaps want to reconsider granting poor Walthrop the Slayer's unique "gift"?...

No, she did not...

Dru smiled...She had thought so...The gift of peace did not look so good to the Slayer when directed at someone she cared for...So, another approach was necessary...

Not that she expected Buffy to commit suicide...Even for her beloved...She would never think of asking so much...

But, had not Buffy's mind been placed within her new body?...Copied in fact, if her dear uncle's information had been correct...And while Dru had never had faith in Science...Her "daughter's" success was unmistakable...

Perhaps there might be a way for both of them to survive...Spike as well...

Buffy Rebecca remembered human Dru's warning...She must not accept what they would demand...Even if...

***
Buffy and her "cybergenius" had not come entirely unprepared...

Warren had just enough time to dispense one of his toys...a carefully disguised version of a stun gun...And shock the first WH agents who broke into the cottage...While Buffy had brought a little gift from Giles' shop, a fairly simple smoke cloud...More of a parlor gag than a magic trick
Willow couldn't help noting...Giles should really go through his inventory more throughly if he wants to keep his store's reputation up among true practitioners, she thought...

But these and the Slayer's strength were enough to hold the enemy, a mix of mostly humans with some vampires, off until they could slip Willow and Amelia out...
***
Dru had hit upon a "solution"...

"If we were to become one, Buffy?...In this body..." Dru stroked BR's hand... "I think that would be a grand solution to our problems..."

"My boy would never kill us both...And I would be safe...Forever..."

Share existence...With Dru's demon?...She is still crazy, no matter how much more reasonable she may seem BR thought...

"Dru...I would never give you this body...Even for William...My soul would never be able to hold you back..."

"I wasn't suggesting that you leave...Or even give me sway...Only that we share..." Dru looked at her...

"You don't love him enough...Even to try?..." Dru sighed... "Ah, well...I had thought you worthy of my little boy, Buffy...But I see I was mistaken..."

"Even if I consented, Dru...It couldn't be done...I don't know how..."

"Someone does...Spike perhaps...Or...whoever helped him with you..."

***
Sir Harold was disappointed to find that Ms. Rosenberg was not with Buffy and Warren...He'd so hoped to secure all the chips at one stroke...

But one must accept situations as they are...

His people held the Slayer and the "cybergenius" under the cover of heavy automatic weapons...Despite his desire to avoid bloodshed he'd warned them he was quite prepared to kill them if they made any more efforts to resist...

It was remarkable, really, having met Ms. Summers-Walthrop, to see just how perfect a copy of the original she was...

***
Willow and Amelia had reached the forest at the edge of the estate without pursuit, Sir Harold's people having assumed that Buffy and Warren were alone in the cottage...

If only Giles had had more faith in me, Willow thought mournfully...I could do something to stop this...

But she might yet be able to make use of her skills...If Amelia was up for a crash course in witchcraft...

And for her own part, Amelia had an idea of her own...

They still had a potential ally...In the heart of their enemies' lair...

If she could reach out to her...
***

Warren and Buffy were brought into the estate's main house where Sir Harold had, with considerable caution, arranged a "family reunion"...

Under the watchful guard of his heavily armed team...Vamps and humans...

A reunion which delighted Drusilla no end...

***
Sir Harold was intrigued by Dru's idea...And was interested in seeing a demonstration of Warren's talents...

Yes...To place her delightful mind within Ms. Summers-Walthrop's remarkable body...An excellent test case...

Especially with Ms. Summers-Walthrop's soul providing some slight restraint on Dru's killer nature...

***

Warren refused to offer any information until Spike was released to them...Which amused Sir Harold considerably...

However he did not wish to have the "cybergenius"' talents damaged by exposure to Dru...At least as long as he had hostages available...

BR calmly pointed out that the situation had taken a new dimension...She was perfectly able to throw the guards aside and reach Sir Harold and Dru...And their people would be able to kill Warren and Buffy before she could save them...Not to mention Spike...

However, she would not allow Dru to have her way...Even if Spike and the others must die...
With equal calmness Sir Harold noted that his people were armed with weapons capable of stopping even Ms. Summers-Walthrop...Though that must result in her destruction, a loss he would prefer to avoid...She was now...after all...replaceable...

***

Buffy eyed the group...Too many well-armed goons, even for BR, let alone her...

This branch of Wolfram-Hart took no chances...

Warren made a suggestion...If Sir Harold would consent to release Ms. Summers and Spike unharmed...He would make a neural recording of Drusilla...But not place it within BR's mind...

He would give her a new body...

Dru was interested...Still, not quite what she had in mind...

For Sir Harold it was a tantalizing prospect...The full details of the robot's construction as well as the neural transfer process...Without the need for a dreary session of torture and threats...Or even Dru's unique persuasive methods...Sadly, however, time would not allow for a new robot to be
constructed here ...And frankly he had his doubts as to how well Warren would keep his word...Even if they could transport them all to a new workplace...

No...they would have to make use of the tools at hand...And he required an immediate answer...

Warren agreed to make the neural recording...If Buffy and Spike were released...But he could not speak for BR's willingness to cooperate...

Sir Harold decided on sweet reason with Ms. Summers-Walthrop...He would release his hostages as requested, after the operation was over...But if she still refused, Drusilla would take matters into her own hands...Transforming Buffy and Warren...And she would be disabled, then
disassembled...So that, in the end, he would have all the information he required...Plus the eternal services of her sister and creator...

And of course dear "Dr." Walthrop...Whom he would release...Without his chip...Without her to help him...To doubtless begin again his career of murder and torment...

Naturally his friend Dr. Jones and several other experts would have to observe every step of the procedure...And Warren must provide detailed schematics of BR's brain and body construction...

"Please make your decision quickly my dear..." he told her... "After all the course I just outlined does have many agreeable features...And we have very little time left for negotiation..."

BR agreed...Provided Warren's release was included...

Sir Harold, a generous man in victory, accepted her terms...
***

The Tie That Binds...Part XXXIV

Dru was impatient waiting for the procedure to be set up and went down to check on her little boy...

And of course the prospect of keeping him informed was of considerable attraction as well...

***
Spike had begun to recover from the effects of his last drugging...And found himself suspended in mid-air, surrounded by guards...Armed with appropriate weapons, crossbows...

He called out to his fellow inmate...

"Still there, son?...What's the name, lad?..."

"Will Walthrop...Tell me, what the hell is going on here?..." young William called back...

The guards were profoundly uninterested...

"About what you figured, lad...I'd say we're hostages..." Spike replied...Rattling his chains a bit..

"I knew that already...Anything useful you can tell me?..."

Ah, a practical lad...Rather takes after old Phil...But then our family have always been the type to keep our heads...

"You might try an offer to some of our friends here..." Spike suggested... "But I think the others would open fire if enough wasn't offered to cover them all..."

"Sure...Anything they want..."

"More specifics, lad...These fellows deal in real figures..."

William mentioned a generous sum...Family must be doing very well these days, Spike noted...

Still no interest from the guards...A loyal crew, eh...Spike thought...

Young Will suggested that a guard or two might accompany him and the other fellow home, receive payment, and disappear to join his mates without any pursuit being possible...

Spike was please to see his namesake showed a considerable degree of common sense...

Sadly the guards seemed uninterested...
***
Drusilla entered the basement chamber...

Spike noted she still wore the pendant...Amazing thing that...You'd never sense her nature...

She headed for young Will's cell, stopped there for a moment, and then headed to Spike...

"Your Buffy is quite in love with you, William..." she noted... "Will she still love you when you've become a monster again?..."

"No..." Spike told her, frankly... "She'll stop me before I do any damage...And I will be glad of it..."

"I see..." she looked at him... Something strange there...He could see...Even in his current ridiculous position...Something almost pleading...

She stared at him a moment and went up the stairs...Staggering a bit as she neared the top...

Young Will was quiet...

"You alright there, lad?..." Spike called out to him... "She didn't hurt you?..."

"Fine..." Will called back...But there was something in his voice...

***
Dr. Jones and staff were fascinated by Warren's schematics...Not to mention his description of the transfer process...

Remarkable...And the device for the transfer was fairly simple to pull together...

They assured Sir Harold it could be done over the next few hours...

***
Dru returned...She seemed a little...

"Uncle?..." she questioned Sir Harold... "I don't feel well...dizzy...May I get something?..."

He noted that she had not in fact had a chance to eat in an while and arranged to have some blood packets brought...

Not wishing to have her off her stride...And yet not quite ready to have her eat their guests...

***

Buffy was chained up but watching Warren and his "colleagues" carefully...

Hopefully her "cybergenius" knew what he was doing in this...If Drusilla did get into BR's mind...Took control of her body...

She didn't want to think about the consequences...Much as her faith in her sister's
strength of soul was...She knew from experience...No one fights off a vampire
demon...Especially a neural copy of Dru's demon...

Not even a Buffy Rebecca...

***
Dru seemed to be feeling better after her feeding...And Sir Harold's little science team was ready...

But first he wanted to put proper restraints on Warren's "daughter"...If Dru became...well, "agitated" in BR's body...it might be a difficult thing to stop her...Even with BR's soul still in place...

BR allowed herself to be chained up...And looked at Warren, pleadingly...

He took her hand...All would be well...

And they brought Dru over...Who seemed a little nervous but was a surprisingly good patient...

For a psychotic killer...

The recording was to be simultaneously released into BR's brain... Allowing them to monitor the process in detail while performing it as quickly as possible...

Sir Harold urged his team on...But suggested vigilance in their monitoring...

***
"Well?..." Willow asked Amelia...

"I'm not sure if I can do this properly..." the Watcher sheepishly replied... "It's...rather advanced for me..."

"Believe me...You'll be fine...Just take it slow and I'll help..."

"But doesn't this require...A certain degree of talent?..."

Willow grinned...

"Well...this one is preety straight-forward...I hate to admit it, but it probably could be done by anyone..."

"A dangerous bit of knowledge..."

"Well, we try to make it as all dark and mysterious as possible..." she grinned again... "Kinda like the Watchers' Council..."

Amelia chuckled...

"Seriously...Do you think you're up to it?..." Willow asked... "You've already got the ball rolling in your department..."

Americans...Amelia sighed...Can't they just say what they mean?...

"Yes...I'm ready to try..." she told her...

***
About two hours into the procedure...

A fire broke out...Suddenly...As they so often do...In the basement dungeon...

The guards quickly lost their indifferent air, panicked and fled upstairs...

As smoke filled the basement, Spike called out to young Will and tried to struggle free...No good...

Suddenly his door was open...By his namesake...Who began unlocking what he could of the chains...

How?...Still it was more important to concentrate on...one, getting out...and two, repressing a powerful urge to kill his namesake by ripping his throat out...

***

Sir Harold was not amused to find his guards panicking over a little fire...Especially when it quickly turned out to be more smoke than fire...

He was even less amused when his guards reported that William the Bloody and his namesake were no longer in the basement...

Possibly the work of Ms. Rosenberg?...The one member of the group not yet accounted for...

"Gentlemen?...Is your work nearly complete?..." he demanded of his staff...

If so it was time to settle a few accounts...

***
"Uncle?..." Buffy Rebecca called out to him...As, almost in stereo, did Drusilla...

He went over to the two...And smiled at Warren...A true genius...And now his work would live on...

In the service of Wolfram-Hart...

But Dr. Jones was suddenly a bit puzzled...The robot's readings seemed correct but...
Dru's own EEG now was looking...Strange...

She was on them in a second...Just as Spike crashed through the outside window...

***

Sir Harold in fury ordered his staff to open fire on all of them...Including his fools of a scientific staff who blocked the way and who'd been so easily deceived...

Spike was uncertain...Dru?...Helping...

His descendant had told him that she had left the key for him...But...

She grinned at him...Didn't he know his own wife?...

She tore off Buffy's chains just as the guards opened fire...And headed for BR...

***

"Like old times..." Buffy grinned at Walthrop...As they dodged under the nearest table...

Who nodded but requested she keep her distance...Chip on the fritz, you know...

Dru had released BR who likewise joined in, tearing through the guards on the lowest level while Dru and Spike used their vampiral "lead tolerance" to disrupt the more heavily armed above...

***
Sir Harold, a fellow of vast experience and excellent judgment, knew when the jig was up and fled with his staff covering their fallback to the cars...

And made a strategic withdrawal...

Sadly, Dr. Jones and the other scientists were not so lucky...

***

Buffy looked at the grinning Drusilla...And her robotic sis who looked at her...
And then noticed she didn't see Warren...

He was hurt, caught in the crossfire...But thank goodness not badly...

Spike was doing his best to avoid looking at all the lovely blood and gore...

And to keep his distance from his friends...Including young Will who had joined them...
***

Dru managed to restrain her surviving minions from either violence or suicide...Requesting that they all take a well-deserved nap...For the next 24 hours...

Buffy watched her in shock...As did Spike...Dru?...BR?...

As Willow and Amelia entered the building, BR explained...At least what she could...

It wouldn't last long...Warren had surreptiously reversed the process... Dru's mind had been more or less anaesthetized and an impression of BR's placed there...While still letting an impression of Dru's mind to reach her to fool Sir Harold's team...But loaded into her good old supplemental
memory...Not her brain...From where it had already been deleted...Permanently...

Dru would be BR for a little while longer...Just enough to hopefully rescue as many of her "followers" as possible...

Then, it would be time to deal with the original...

But Spike wondered...What had happened before?...In the basement?...That was before the recording...

"Oh..." said Willow... "That was the real Dru...Your...niece made contact before she started my little smoke and mirrors fire spell in the basement..."

Willow patted Amelia's hand...

Her latest protege...And a very skilled channeler...

***
But Drusilla was not the infamous Drusilla for nothing...

Dru-BR called out to them...The demon was fighting her way back...

But before any of them could reach her, she attacked and knocking down Spike, grabbed him and ran for the window...

BR was still shaken...more by the recording than the fight...And wasn't able to reach her stride in time to catch them...

She headed out in pursuit but Dru reached a car left by Sir Harold's guards and shoving the unconscious Spike inside...Headed out...

They all ran out...Too late...

BR whirled back in at them and began looking for the first working car...

She was gone before they could reach her...

***

Buffy wanted to head out after her sis but did not want Warren left unattended...

She left with Willow after Amelia took charge of him...Grinning at her "stop-gap" guy...

Time for a promotion for old Warren...After she helped sis out...

And definitely time she spoke to him about Tara...And about herself...When things settled down...

***
The Tie That Binds...Part XXXV...Conclusion...

"Which way?..." Willow asked Buffy as they sped down after the fleeing Dru, Spike, and the trailing BR...

"I don't think Dru is heading anywhere but straight down the road, Will...But try the cell phone...Those numbers...One must reach BR's car..."

Willow began frantically dialing...She reached two cars containing Sir Harold's fleeing staff...The home office...Thanks, no message...Finally on the fourth try she got BR...

Still headed straight...Dru was making for the coast the fastest way possible...But with dawn on the way, she couldn't be planning to set sail...
Fly out perhaps?...Willow wondered...Or did she have something else in mind?...
***

Back at the Walthrop estate Amelia gave a truncated explanation of the bizarre kidnaping to her cousin young William...Who was intrigued to learn that his fellow cellmate had been a distant relative...long in America...

Warren was in considerable pain but recovering...And mostly concerned about the Buffies and his "son-in-law"...

Wasn't there anything they could do?...

Amelia thought she could try...

While she concentrated, a team from the Watchers' Council finally arrived...Fortunately they were prevented from shooting any of Dru's poor "followers" some of whom were still vaguely wandering the grounds...

And in their midst...Angel and Wesley...Who at Giles' request and by their own inclination had taken the first flight out...

***
Dru swung off the main road on to a side road where she halted just long enough to bind Spike up securely...She drove cautiously on back to the main road...BR had actually passed her...

She knew however escape was now impossible...Perhaps she'd always known...

But if she was to be forced back into Hell, she was not going alone...And it would be on her terms...

***

Leaving the Council team to care for the wounded and those in Dru's thrall, Angel, Wesley, and Amelia headed out to join the pursuit to the coast...Amelia still trying to reach human Dru...

Anything to slow Drusilla down...

Angel had a reasonable idea of what her intentions were...

She always liked to leave with a big splash...
***

Dru had slipped down another side road...Rather jolly this kind of chase...Like the things on the telly Spike used to watch...

BR met Buffy and Willow on the main road while Dru cut back ahead of them...Obviously she'd gone down a side road...

They got a call from Amelia en route...Who was receiving impressions from dear Dru...On the main road, rapidly approaching the coast...

BR was off before Buffy and Willow could put the phone down...

***

This was not polite, Dru told her counterpart...Never in all the years since her transformation had her "sister" deigned to speak with her...To come out and play...

Now...she wanted to interfere...And all for Buffy and her William...Well, it was her fault...She'd wanted "freedom", "release"...And now, if she'd be patient...In just a bit...She'd have her precious "freedom"...While her poor demon "sister" ...Who'd never asked for any of this...

Who'd only wanted survival...And a few jolly kills...

Spike was struggling against her bindings...Trying to speak through the gag...

She shook her head at him...They'd have all the time in the world to talk...In a few minutes...But things would never be the same...She knew the secret now...How his human soul had won out to redemption...It had always been obvious but she had had trouble accepting it...The chip had
helped, of course...But the truth was...

They both loved Buffy Summers...William Walthrop, human soul...And Spike, demon counterpart...And perhaps, Spike's love, so absolutely hopeless, was the more touching of the two...He, a demon, could never hope to have any part of her heart...But if he made no fight, let
Walthrop run the show...Gave up everything...He could stay in his chip-enclosed prison by his beloved's side...And watch...At least until Buffy released Walthrop...Or someone else did...

Even Drusilla was as moved as a vampire demon could be...She had never loved Spike or Walthrop in the normal sense of the word...She wasn't capable of it...But his desperate protectiveness, his affection...A mix of Spike and Walthrop, leavened by Walthrop's concern for the human Dru he sensed over the years...Was a part of her...

Now it was gone...Except for Walthrop's feeling for poor human Dru...

But...she couldn't bear the thought of returning to Hell...Alone...Even if Spike no longer felt for her...

Even Daddy Angelis would not fill the loneliness...If he would even be there and was not in some limbo, watching Angel, hoping for his opportunity...

And after all, she'd imprisoned Walthrop...If she now chose to release him...

To her surprise her counterpart was struggling for control...To stop or crash the car...

She focused and pushed poor Dru down a bit...

***
BR must be doing well over a hundred...Willow noted...They simply couldn't keep up...

Well, robot reflexes...

But she noticed nervously...Buffy was not exactly lagging...Doing over ninety...

Well, Slayer reflexes...

Hope they apply to driving...

***
[Suggested theme..."Dru and Spike By The Sea" (Once Upon a Time in the West)]

Dru veered onto a hill road to the cliff area overlooking the coast...Which led to a vast, grassy field...

The field Cordelia had seen...

A place Dru had taken from Spike's own memories...

BR's car appeared racing up behind...

Dru stopped, dragging Spike out...And let the car go back down the steep hill...Crashing onto BR's which was smashed back down the hill...

Then she dragged Spike along toward the cliff field...

Dawn was now very near...The first glimmers appearing in the clouds out to sea...
***

BR clambered out of the wrecked car...Fifteen minutes unconscious...God, ‘Dad’ and his need for accuracy...Of all times to be capable of being knocked out...

She raced up the hill road...She now was quite aware of what Dru had in mind...

And not yet used to immortality she had no intention of waiting through eternity for her husband's soul to return to her...Whatever she had to do to stop Dru...

If even Spike would twit her about that forever...

***

Human Dru was still struggling for control but her "sister" was too powerful and experienced...But her struggles, plus Spike's gave him a chance to break loose as they reached the field...

He ran back from her towards the cliffs' edge...He vaguely recognized the place...He'd come once with his Mum and the other chicks, one of their few, brief holidays away from dreary Brusset...A beautiful place...

Kind of Dru to seek it out for his grave...

She hurried after him...With a stake in hand...Just as she reached him, he broke his hands free and knocked the stake down...

Drusilla swung at Spike, knocking him back and down...She grabbed the stake and reared over him in triumph...The Vampire Vampire-Slayer...

It was time for her to take back her gift to William Walthrop...

An appropriate hymn was called for...She began humming her favorite...

"Blest Be The Tie That Binds..."
Play hymn

Buffy Rebecca crashed into her and holding her firmly in her grip, plunged over the cliff to the rocks below...Rocks and numerous scattered boards and other wooden trash...

The sun rose...Touching the clouds with a beautiful rosy light...
***
Walthrop ran to the cliff's edge and peered down to see BR's body on the rocks below...

There was no sign of Drusilla...

As he looked, he felt a warm mist sweeping over him...Just as he had when Buffy Rebecca's spirit had left Buffy just before her resurrection...

***
But it was not BR's spirit...
[Suggested theme...Song for Dru (The Maids of Arrochar)]
"Thank you...Mr. Walthrop...Thank you..." he heard faintly in his mind...

After all...she and Walthrop had never been properly introduced...

Good-bye, my dear Dru...Goodbye...Peace...

He stood lost...Looking at BR below...

Then he climbed slowly down to her...
Spike and Buffy Rebecca love theme

***

She did not move...He carried her back up to the field...And laid her gently down...

He considered the matter carefully...

With the chip's protection gone there was no reason to stay, he reflected...And good reason to guard against the imminent return of his demon...

He looked around...The grassy field Cordelia had seen in her vision...Well...

He'd done his bit...And had had enough...

Whatever or whoever might have been running the show...

William Walthrop would make his own decision now, thank you...

And his decision was as it always had been ever since BR had climbed out of her biotank to save him...To toddle along after the Missus...

Besides, if it should be that the Powers That Be were displeased with his performance, if they decided he'd lacked that certain pluck they'd hoped to see in him...And chose to weigh his soul down with more punishment, just as a little indicator that he'd not quite measured up...

He'd have an advocate...More than one really, he knew now...

His friends...Willow, Rupert, even Xander and Anya, even a certain LA type and his staff ...His family... mother-in-law, Joyce, his sisters-in-law Buffy and Dawn...Amelia...And the gentle Miss Drusilla...They'd all be there for him when the time came...Not even counting dear Mum, Philip,
Amelia...All of whom he now somehow knew must have been pulling for him...Even in his darkest moments...Striving to keep the spark of soul alive in him...

And...

One person who would batter down the Gates of Hell to reach him if she had to...

And so there was nothing to fear...

He looked at BR...And gently kissed her...No, there was no longer any need to wait...

He strolled into the field and looked around...It was a glorious spring dawn...Not a bad day to end...Not at all...

He held the ring in his hand for a moment...Then tossed it into the field...

***
Tomas Strathen, farmer, saw the distinguished young gentleman standing quietly in the field...And saw him collapse...

And saw a blonde streak of lightening flash by the spot...

"Dr." Walthrop had disappeared, apparently, judging by the shattered door hastily replaced, carried into the nearby cottage...
***

BR sighed as she looked at the blanket-covered badly burned "cybergenius"...Was he going to turn suicidal every time things got a little hairy?... If she hadn't regained consciousness for another moment...

"Spike...Didn't Warren manage to teach you anything about my systems?... What did you do...Feel my pulse and pronounce me dead?..."

That damned ring is going right back under my supervision...she thought...

***

Sir Harold received visitors in his London office...the Walthrops...And Ms. Summers...

With a special request...Really a demand...

For a reference to a first-rate neurologist...And the pleasure of his company in visiting the said doctor...

One look at Ms. Summers-Walthrop persuaded him to comply...
***

Dr. Sir Sidney Pegg, one of Britain's greatest neurosurgeons, was fascinated by his patient's "anti-seizure" chip...

The things they come up with in the States these days...

It was a relatively simple matter to reconnect its wiring into the brain...

Dr. Pegg was something of a romantic and cleared his schedule in order to perform the surgery as quickly as possible...

So that the Walthrops might have a chance to enjoy what part of their honeymoon time was left to them after his recovery...

And Sir Harold was only too happy to await the result of the operation with the American wife of his dear young friend, suffering from epilepsy, whose honeymoon had been disrupted by the failure of his unique anti-seizure device...
***

With a little persuasion from Ms. Summers-Walthrop, Sir Harold decided to retire from his firm and seek the solace of life in the English countryside...

There was no shortage of eager candidates to replace him...

***
Buffy had given Leto's other letter to Willow...

"My dearest Willow..." the letter began...

It warned her of the plans of Sir Harold and Wolfram-Hart and begged her to take care against it...

And as with Buffy's letter, apologized for his evil act...but not for his choice...

He hoped that he had managed to do her some service by his last effort and she would find the peace and happiness she deserved...And assumed that, with the Slayer's help he would already have found his peace by now...

Which would at last have freed them both...

Willow was shaken...

She had expected her fight for survival with Leto and Wolfram-Hart might take strange turns...

To find that he had been trying at the end to save her was not one of them...

***
Buffy, Wesley, and Angel stayed a week in London with the Walthrops and Willow...Courtesy of Ms. Walthrop-Hunt who had used information gleaned from those captured at the Walthrop estate to unmask the treacherous Mr. Pruit...And the grateful...if rather chastened Watchers'
Council...

Who dealt with Mr. Pruit themselves in their time-honored fashion...

Buffy spending most of her time looking after Warren at the hospital...Whose recovery was fairly rapid...Fueled by his deep desire to return home and see if W/S Bionetics, Inc was still in one piece...

***
Willow decided to fly home with Buffy and the gang...Give the honeymooners their chance to be alone at last...

Buffy left behind a last gift for sis and brother-in-law...
A baby shower card..
.
Now it would be up to the "cyberboys" to put their genius where their mouths were...

***
Basey and Giles reported all quiet, more or less, on the Sunnydale front...At least compared to normal Buffy times...

But some vamps were clearly getting restive...

And Basey had had a chance to confirm her cure...

***
Warren had made a nearly complete recovery and Buffy thought she might speak to him about "the future"...

Judging by the happiness with Tara had received her restored Willow there was nothing to worry about there...Unless he...

She took the direct approach...She liked him...But...Did he have feelings for Tara?...If so, did he know about?...

He could be a little clueless at times...An endearing trait, really...

Well...of course...He liked Ms. Maculay very much...And couldn't help noticing...As an outsider to the core gang himself...That she was a little isolated from the others at times...And of course they were drawn together by an interest in cybernetics...But...Well, obviously she and Willow...

Good, Buffy thought...Only natural...one lonely guy, male...Siding with lonely guy, female...

But he did have some plans of his own...

"I'll be leaving town...Just for a little while..." Warren told her...

Oh...Buffy blinked...Leaving?...

"Something with your company?..." she asked...But she had an idea of what he was trying to tell her...

"I'm just taking a little trip...to see...Katrina..."

Oh... Katrina, the fiancee...
"You and Angel...And Buffy Rebecca and Spike...have inspired me...I'd like to try...At least make the effort..." Warren looked at her...

Really...Buffy thought, blinking...Inspired, eh...

"You wouldn't settle for anything less than the love of your heart...The same feeling applies to me..." Warren smiled at her...

Dumped...Again...

"Sometimes...you have to make your happiness out of what you find available, you know..." Buffy noted...

Why did I say that?...she thought...That's not what I wanted to say...I didn't mean...

Her "stop-gap" guy had come to mean a little more than that to her, she suddenly realized...

"What I mean is...You can have some fantasy...some ideal but you find happiness with what's real...Not some illusion of what could be..."

Better...she thought...

"But you should try for the ideal...If there's any chance of it..." Warren replied, looking at Buffy...

She blinked at him again...Definitely showing potential...But...

"I wouldn't settle for anything less than someone I loved, Warren, that's true...But don't think that Angel or Riley are the beginning and end of my life..."

She knew however she had to be big about this...He was being sincere...

Besides, the Slayer doesn't concede that easily...Certainly not to some, as she remembered Katrina, fairly ordinary competitor...Besides the fiancee might have cut him out...Leaving the field to a certain Slayer...If she handled things right...

And she made her interest clear...If things didn't work out with old Katrina, when he returned...

She would like to get to know her brother-in-law's partner better...

A Slayer keeps her options open...

***
Before he left, Warren was happy to go over with her to her mother's gravesite...

She had a lot to tell Joyce...Not that she doubted Mom was aware of all that had gone on...But...It was comforting to talk to her as close by as possible...

She was going to make it...Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't work out with Warren...or Riley...or even Angel in some future existence...But she had finally learned what joy her work brought to the tormented...And how far from hate it truly was...

And she had been blessed with a whole new family...two sisters, a new brother...three sisters and two brothers if you counted Basey and Leroy...And she did...

Heck at the rate Basey and Giles were going she might even have to move Basey up to a kind of "spiritual step-Mom"...Well, nah...third sister was quite enough...

And if Warren wasn't destined for the exalted status of Slayer's boyfriend...Well, another brother wasn't so bad at that...

Not even mentioning...If all went well with BR and "Operation Motherhood"...

And the old gang...Who'd done so much more for her than she could ever hope to repay...

All ties that would bind her to and keep her safe in this world for as long as she could stay ...

***
[Suggested Leto's Theme (The godfather)]

And at one, rather neglected gravesite...

Of a well-known former politician...

Willow with Tara beside her...Planting flowers...
***

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