Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Based on an AU S7...


Buffy:series-Nemesis; model-BN1


Alternate William/ "Soames"...

[Suggested main theme..."The Look of Love..."(Dusty Springfield version...)]
(Happy to refer you to a source if you can't track it down...)
***

The Hunter Buffies...(You'll find out)...

***

Prologue...

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

A series of quick season seven flashbacks appears...



Running swiftly to a scene of Principal Wood burying Jonathan...Starting to toss dirt on his prone form in the shallow grave as the camera runs over our beloved nerd's body up to his...Suddenly fluttering?...Eyelids...



Four hours later...



"Oh...No... "Jonathan looks around...Dark...Very dark...



And rather...Yeah, that's dirt...Though rather loosely packed...



He sits up...Fortunately possessed Wood hadn't been much shakes as a gravedigger...



Am I a vampire?...he calls...



Hmmn...Wonder why that's the first thing to occur?...



Only other problem, besides extreme weariness...Who am I?...



Six months and a hefty medical bill later...



Jonathan with the gang, explaining his miraculous escape...Again...From death...While glaring at a sheepishly waving... Hi, Jon...Andrew...Sheepishly...



Fortunately that last bit of lost memory not yet recovered...



"Vasoconstrictive reaction..." Willow nods...



Yeah...I remember how you always used to faint at the annual blood drive...



Yeah...Jonathan sighs...Only this time my heart even stopped for a few secs...I think I was dead...



"You were..." Willow nods... Yeah...Andrew chimes in, brightly...The First even impersonated you...



Really?...Jonathan beams...



Giles frowning...



Not merely because Mr. Levinson, pater, has filed a suit against the Council as well as Sunnydale High for recovery of son Jonathan's medical expenses...Priceless as his son's miraculous return and slow recovery of memory is, he doesn't happen to have a million on hand and Jonathan's woes preceded health care reform...Buffy's already been in mourning too long...No need to have her finding another utterly dead type back from the grave...And still human, no less...



"So fill me in?...I miss much over the year...?"



Geesh...Andrew thinks...Surely my training enhanced manliness suggests...



"How's Buffy doing with that new vamp boyfriend?...



Well...



But, as Giles feared...The review of old memories is too much...



Though he'd hoped Willow would've been made of sterner stuff...After all, she'd promised to say nothing after Andrew had, on his return from retrieving poor Dana in LA, eagerly revealed the secret of Spike's restoration to the land of the Unliving...



Though perhaps it had been a mistake to mention to her the new Council's prediction of Angel and co's chances against the Partners precluding any attempt to offer assist...Even if the plot to destroy the Black Thorn had been as much his idea as Angel's...



Sacrifices had to be...



And Buffy could've at least waited...Let him finish the line after Willow's slip of the tongue before she'd dragged Andrew, Willow, and all those memory-bearing Slayers ready and willing to stand with her in saving William and Angel to LA...



On the other hand, she'd not killed him and taken bloody vengeance on the Council...One must count blessings...



LA battle scene...



Buffy, dragging a somewhat perturbed Will...Hey, Champion here...No Slayer nanny required...Hurrying to escape before the panicked forces of the Partners trampled them in their flight to the escape portal as the Slayer Corps bore down upon the routed enemy army...



The exit portal now disintergrating ...The gang and Slayers clustered...Surviving sentient demons surrendering in droves...



"We are One, Buffy!...You are part of me!..." Morphy Buffy/The First, taking Buffy form visible to all, cries...



Whoa...Willow, Xander...



The Bitch is back...Unless...Quick glance...Nope, ours' still with us...



Though right now, Xander notes...Ours is kinda a lot scarier...



"Mr. Giles thinks it's probably a psychic link between them..." Andrew notes to a startled Jonathan... "By the way if you say that to the Slayer, I've strict orders from the Chairman to kill us both..."



Mr. G, always thinking...He proudly notes...



"Slayer!!..." the First, ranting mode as the latest of her armies dissolves...Literally as they jump for the portal... "You want this to happen...You want the end...At last..."



"It's all hopeless, you know that...All you've ever done is kill...Never help...Look at our William...You'll have to kill him too, in the end...Love is denied you as much as Angel...Only Death...!"



Hey...Angel frowning...My existence's been expanding in a lot of directions recently...



"Admit it to yourself...! Death is the only Gift you have...Like me!!...We are One!!...You are my extension in the physical world!!!...I am your darkest side!!..."



"Bullshit...!" Buffy screams at Morphy...



Like I said...Xander eyes Willow...Scarier...



"Love is the Gift...Not Death..."



"I save people...I don't destroy them...I reject all you say, you miserable, empty nothing...!"



Oh, right....Go for the disability...Morphy glares...And she calls herself the "good one"...





"And I will be the Slayer...I want to go on being the Slayer...Helping the tormented...With all the love I can gather around me..." she takes the battered William's hand...



"You're no part of me!..."



"And I have a girlfriend..." Angel proudly chimes in...



Uh...Not meaning anything by that, Buffy...Just countering the attempt to induce despair best way I know...



"No prob...." wave of hand... "I like Nina...We should the foursome thing sometime..."



Xander eyeing Willow...She does mean as in "dinner date foursome"?...Not...

.

GRRR...Furious, and not gonna be ignored and cheated of the grand exit, Morphy throws out a wave of energy, dragging William towards the buckling portal...



"He's mine!...My own..." she glares...



Buffy fights to pull him back...Being dragged herself, William screaming for her to let him go...



Dawn...Joyce's image hisses to her...



You have to stop her...She's going to let herself be pulled in with him...



"Kill him, Dawn!...Before he takes her away from you!..." the image rages at William...



Dawn glares at Joyce...Not you again...



"My mom would never tell me to kill anyone..." she replies grimly...And helps Buffy and the

others pull William back...The Joyce image vanishes in rage...



Morphy, desperately drawing the energy of the disintegrating portal, corporealizes in a last gamble, glaring furiously at the others...



"I'll show you what your Buffy is capable of!!!..."



Andrew whips up the freeze ray at his side and blasts her...Good thing we portablized this thing...Knew it might come in handy, he notes to Jonathan...



The frozen, corporealized Morphy-Buffy falls into the open Hell portal as a last few demons jump through...Screaming as she thaws just at the end...



"You can't ever destroy me, Slayer!...It never ends...I'll always be within you!...All of you!!!..."



"Soon you'll wish you'd let me kill you!!...You'll see how much of me is in you!!...What a monster you can be!!...All of you will see!!!..." the First cries as the Hell portal seals above her...



"Well..." Angel stares about...The others looking as well...



"Really thought we were gonna lose this place for good this time..." he notes..."Is Charlie alive still?..." Looks about... "I need him to start making some calls if we're gonna salvage anything outta this...Fred, er Illyria?..." he turns to the blue demon staggering his way, a wounded Charlie Gunn in her grip... Sighs..."Hey, Charlie, we need to have a meeting soon as you're up for it...Illyria, can you find Harmony?...If Willow can curse her soul back to get her on our team, I really need her list of phone numbers and addresses..."



"You're lucky I didn't let her take you for a week or two..." Buffy frowns at William... "What's the idea of not droppin' me a line...'Buffy, just got back from the beyond and wondered if what you said back at the cavern'... 'Buffy, your maniac Slayer cut my hands off and I could use some nurin'... 'Hey, Angel and I had to drop by Rome to save LA from a demon war and thought we'd butt in on your lovelife'...You gotta anything to say for yourself?..."



"I love you..."



"Shut up, you asshole!!..." she glares...Dragging him off...



"Buffy?...The ambulances are over...Hmmn..." Willow blinks as Buffy gives a C'mon? stare...



Oh...



"Guess they've lots to catch up on..." she notes to Xander who sighs...



"Willow? Can I borrow you a sec?..." Angel calls...Shrieking Harmony now in Illyria's grip beside him...



"Of course..." Jonathan notes to Andrew, engaging in texting victory message to his Chairman... "I could be just about to die back in the hole and this could all be my Owl Creek Bridge moment..."



"God, I'd hope you could do better for yourself in your own fantasy..." Andrew shakes head...Continuing victory report...



England...The newly restored Antiquarian Hall of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...



"Lord..." Giles sighs, giving up after fourth attempt...Raising cell phone... "Can anyone translate this gibberish for me?..."



(Like I said, alternate universe...But not so alternate as...)
***
Part I...

In an alternate existence...On Alternate Earth...

[Play theme]

A smoke-filled, noisy watering hole...In a blighted world barely beginning to recover from constant,
devastating demon raids...Ready to eagerly accept anything...And any group...Offering salvation...

A salvation which had been granted...At a price...

"Once had love and it was a gas...Soon turned out...Had a heart of glass..." The Blondie song warbled
over the sounds of the crowded room...Sung by a small young dark-haired woman on the tiny postage stamp
of a stage in back as she danced in rather scanty costume...Dozens of patrons clutching drinks paying
scant attention to her but for the few close males eyeing her short, but attractive form with commendable
attention...A form that to a few non-human patrons scattered round seemed disturbingly familiar...

In the back of the bar...The owner, a short, nervous though rather prosperous-looking, little man, his
eyes dashing over the crowd like a ferrit's...Looking for any potential...Oh, Christ...No...

Now in the center of the room, eye'd briefly by a number of females...Not all human...A brown-haired,
bespectacled, bemused-looking young man...In a long black coat rather at odds with his shy, slightly
embarrassed expression...Rather out of sorts in this crowd and place, obviously...Searched the room until
he saw...

The singer paused, staring back at him...Then at Willie, her boss...A look of terror flashing on her face
for just a moment...Then back to him...

William...she breathed across the room to him...

Her eyes pleaded...

He stared back at her...As she nervously returned to her song and her bump-and-grind dance...

"Seemed like the real thing...Only to find..." she continued...

"William Walthrop...Bloody Awful Will...Our own human-souled vampire vampire Slayer..."
the bar owner called cheerily, as he hastened over...One hand extended for a friendly shake, the other
waving to call a waitress and drinks...

"Willie..." William nodded at the little man...Clearly aware that he'd spotted his target...Desperate to
keep potential trouble to a minimum...

Though having a Nemesis series...the One of the series...Working in his bar was hardly a way to avoid
potential trouble...

The singer had returned to her performance, picking up the pace perhaps...Eyeing him with the same pleading
look from time to time as he accepted Willie the Snitch's hospitality...

Willie waved him to a booth...One allowing a good view of the stage he noted with a smile...

"Quite a girl we just got in...You hear about her?" he smiled...

A knock-off of course...But one of the best...

C'mon, William...he leaned in with a confidential air...

"Wouldn't you rather see one Hunter out free in the world?...Than slaving for the Council?...She's an
altered early test model, can still think a little for herself..."

"I don't keep her with me..." he tried...

"She's a Nemesis series, Willie..." William sighed at him as he cradled his ale...

The One...he added...

Willie stared at him...No point in trying to cover...

"She's all that's left of your Buffy, William..."

The one who really is Buffy...

"It's a crime what the Mears Corporation and that Council did to her...To the others..." Willie shook his
head...

They couldn't let Buffy rest in peace...

"They use her to keep Humanity safe..." William noted...

My Buffy would've wanted that...

"Buffy Summers would want a hundred of her brain-dead clones wandering around, doing whatever the Watchers'
Council tells em to do...?" Willie glared...

And would you like to hear what some of those oh-so-high-and-mightily respectables have their Buffies do?...

"No..." William shook his head...

I would not...And I already have heard...

"They're slaves, Spike...Except for the One...And she's..."

William rose suddenly...

"Never call me that!...I am not Spike...He is in Hell!!...Again...Forever..."

"That's for sure..." Willie sneered up at him...

Spike would've killed Mears and the whole Council for what they did to her...

"William?..." a voice tensely whispered next to them...Both men jumping slightly...

The singer had finished and come over...With such haste and so quietly neither had had a hint of her
approach...

"It's ok Willie...I can deal..." she glanced at her boss hastily...

Jesus, girl...I been trying to buy you run time...What are you trying to do?...Willie stared at her...As
she nervously, eagerly stared at Walthrop...

"I've missed you, William..." she shyly told him...Sitting next to Willie on his side of the booth...

Willie rolling his eyes...

"Look...William..." he began, in a tense whisper...

"I...can...handle this..." she interrupted him in an annoyed tone, putting a hand on his shoulder...And
snapping his neck with the subtlest of quick moves...Her hand now keeping his dead body propped up..

Jesus...William stared...

"I told him I could deal..." she noted in a harsh whisper, a little sullenly...
***

"Buffy..." William stared at her as her free hand moved swiftly over dead Willie, going through his
pockets...While the other held him in place...

Not that anyone here was likely to notice...Or care...

"He hid you...Saved your life...At no small risk..."

He loved you...

"Yeah, so...?" she shrugged...

"He wanted an invite into me, so he protected me...Why should I let it bother me?..."

After all, she smiled at him...All the more bizarre for being a thoroughly sincere little Buffy smile,
he knew...

"There's only one guy for me...William..."

Unless you turn on me like my friends did...she glared at him...

"They didn't turn on you...They don't even know you, darling..." he sighed...

"They want me dead..."

"They know what the Mears Corporation created in you..."

"Why only me?..." she pouted "There's dozens of my sisters around now..."

"They're mindless servants of the Council...You can think for yourself...And Warren took a lot of pleasure
in making sure the best of his clones...The Nemesis series...Got Buffy's...
he paused...

"Worst side...?" she eyed him...Triumphantly pulling out a stuffed wallet...And a slip of paper...Ah, the
mother lode...

"Cash...And the address..." she waved the paper...

"I'll say a prayer for him...My sweet boss, Willie..." she got up hastily...Pushing Willie to a relatively
stable position...

Lets go...she eyed Walthrop...
"Willow and the others will be coming...Sooner or later they'll trace you even if they can't track me..."

And we can't have them finding their Hellmouth Watcher so initim...she struggled...

Intimate with you?...William offered helpfully...

Yeah...Thank you...she nodded...A rather surprising gently grateful smile...

"Besides...I know you don't want me to meet up with my Dawny again..." she beamed beatifically...Touching
his coat... "Or the others..." she eyed him with an innocently soulful Buffy stare...

"And we have a man to see...Honey..." she started off for the entrance...

Would she say a prayer for him one day?...William wondered...Following her into the smoke-filled room...
None of the patrons...Of any species...Paying attention as Willie's corpse fell over in the booth...

***

They stood by a rear door exit in the cool evening...She shivered slightly and he took his coat off and
handed it to her without a word as he dialed on his cell phone...Time he'd checked in...She gave him another
grateful smile that, for a moment, nearly brought him to tears as he waited...

Bastard Mears...Bastard...he thought harshly...Closing his eyes...

And me...

"Hello...Will?..." a young voice on the other end...He struggled a moment to get the huskiness out of his
voice...And the shame...

He was still new to the betrayal of friends...Even family all things considered...At least in Dawn's case...

Buffy eyed him carefully...

"Dawn..." he spoke into the phone...

"You've been a while...How's it going...?"

"I may have a lead on Mears..." he noted...True enough at least, he thought...

"Are you alone?...Xander said you didn't take any of the Hunters with you?..."

"Mears'll never let me get close to him with Hunters at my side..." he replied...

Buffy watched tensely...Dawn...

Her little sister...And someone she had a serious desire to meet...Alone...For just a few minutes...

To discuss a few minor points between them...Mom's death, her own, and what she tended to view as her
little sister's betrayal since her...Resurrection...

But, other issues right now...Primarily survival...

"Can't I call Willow...Have her help you?...Or Xander, at least?..."

"Mears is sure to be protected at his latest hideout, dear heart...He'd sense Willow's magic...And run
again...But as for Xander..." he paused...

Xander?...Buffy stared...A faint smile starting, then lost...He was after her too...Even sweet Xander...My
Big Brother...

But natural enough, after Anya and all...

Though it wasn't fair of him to be angry about that...She'd only been defending herself...She hadn't wanted to...

"Maybe later...Let me get the lay of the land, then I'll call back...I'm sure it's safe...He's got to be
keeping a low profile to have hidden from us and the Council so long and still keep in touch with the
Corporation..."

"Take care, Will..." Dawn's anxious voice...

"Of course, Nibs..."

"Don't...Let her fool you, Will...She's not Buffy, not really...You know that..."

"And...It's not your fault...Buffy...Would understand...Does understand..."

I do...she finished...

He paused...Buffy hesitant...The pleading look back on her face...And a careful watchfulness...

"I'll be fine, girl...Call you asap...Take care and give my best to Rupert when he calls..." he
hung up...Not looking at his companion for a minute...

"Xander?..." Nemesis Buffy frowned at him...

"You're gonna have him come to Mears' place...?" her eyes narrowed slightly...

"I didn't tell her where...I had to agree to some support...Even Dawn would get suspicious and that
would get the others after us, Willow in particular..."

Ok...she nodded, relaxing a bit...Guess you're right...

"At that the others will come...Soon enough if I don't get back..." he noted...He stepped out to the
street to hail a cab...

She froze a bit...Having followed him out to the street...

"You're going back...? After...?" she looked at him...The cab pulling over...

"Only if things aren't settled tonight, pet...If we need more time, I'll have to go back...To keep the
others from guessing..."

"You won't leave me...William...?" half-question, half-demand he realized...

And very likely his existence hanging in the balance...he also suspected...

"You won't leave me..." she repeated, a confident assertion...Sealed with a gentle kiss...

"You know I can't Buffy..." he replied...Opening the cab door for her...

"Say...?" she grinned, stepping in...My English gentleman, she smiled at the cabbie, indicating William...

"You didn't say how you liked my show?...Or my costume...?" she now pulled her dark wig off to reveal
Buffy in all her blondness...

The wig was a nice touch...he smiled...

"That bad...?" she pouted...

"7717 Orchard Drive, Crestwood..." he told the cabbie...

Bad neighborhood...And kinda far...The cabbie frowned back...

"You won't have to wait...And we'll make it worth your while..." William handed over $100...

"Please...?" she smiled at the cabbie... "We're going to tell my dad about us tonight..." she hugged
Will a moment...

"William will pay more...And I'll give you a kiss..." she grinned...

For being such a sweet guy...

The cabbie grinned back and nodded, unknowingly saving his life...Ok...They sped off...

Willie said I was great...A natural...she noted to William in a slightly hurt tone...
***
"You sure this is the place...?" William looked at the gloomy old house...Huge but sadly rundown...
At least on the outside...

She nodded...But looked uncertain herself...

Not exactly the sort of lair one of Earth's great corporate leaders would be expected to take...

Yet rather fitting for one in hiding from the world's secret elite of protectors...Especially one like
the nerdish, rather morbid Dr. Warren Mears...

And the name he'd given as owner...JL Sebastian...

Please...No wonder a reader of men like Willie had found him so quickly...Just search all real estate
holdings using every famous sci-fi name reference...And given his replicant Buffies...The choice of sci-fi
reference was easily narrowed to one film...

At least he'd had enough sense not to use "Tyrell"...

"Careful, William..." she kissed him quickly...He stood in front of the door, waiting to press the bell...

Nemesis Buffy moved to wait in bushes near the door...They'd agreed Mears might be a tad less reluctant to
see the representative of the Watchers' Council than his own dear "daughter"...
***

Yes...?

Both recognized the young maid who appeared at the door...Natural enough, Mears had had a dozen copies of
the Katrina who'd left him years ago working as devoted secretaries and middle-management types throughout
the Mears Corporation...Sentimental type that he was...

This one however seemed one of the less bright models...Though strong enough, William carefully noted...He
flashed an id...

"William Walthrop...Of the Royal Council of Librarians and Library Scientists...I'm here to see Mr. Sebastian...
On urgent business..."

"Mr. Sebastian is not at home...And sees no one..." she started to close the door...He held it open with one hand...
Concealing as best he could the rather heavy strain...She was a strong one, for a mere enhanced normal human...
But he tried to seem unbothered...

After all, his own true was watching...At least...All that was left of her...

"I said it was Council business, Miss...And urgent..." he smiled at her...As she struggled to close the
door...And reached for something...A button, he saw through the crack between the half-open front door and frame...
Alarm, no doubt...She managed to press it...

"Mr....Sebastian...Is...Not...At...Home..." the Katrina clone still struggled grimly to close the door...
He shoved it open in a burst...The maid fell back...

"He'll want to see me...In fact, this involves his own safety..." William kindly told her...As she tensed
and took a fighting crouch...A door opened down the hall...

"Who are...? William?..." A dark brown-haired Buffy stared at him from the open door...

An unregistered Hunter, he realized immediately...

Not surprising Mears would have found some way to elude the Council's surveillance and keep one or two for
his own protection...

Just lucky he hadn't...Hopefully...Managed to do the same with the Nemesis series...

Though even for the power-mad Mears, one Nemesis should have been enough...At least after she'd so effectively
proven his success in restoring so much of Buffy's independent mind and memory, nearly leveling his corporate lab
in the process...

"William?..." the Hunter eyed him...The Katrina clone remaining in defensive posture...

"Yes, Buffy...It's me..." he nodded...

"I'm here to see Mr. Sebastian...For the Watchers Council..."

"Mr. Sebastian is not available...Why did you force your way in, William?" the Hunter had assumed a defensive posture...

"I must see him, Buffy...This is a Council directive..." he eyed her carefully...

She remained in defensive mode...Hmmn...Best to feign surprise at her lack of cooperation...

"Don't you follow Council directives, Buffy...?"

Certainly...William...

She hesitated...Mears had clearly given her orders to disguise her renegade status...

She must be one of the prototypes...Before the Council took over as silent partner in his company...Surely Mears would've
enhanced her well beyond a standard Hunter's mental capacity if he'd taken the risk of altering a recent Hunter's
neurogenetic profile with the Council observers on his back night and day ...

He'd barely gotten away with the creation of Nemesis at that...No, he wouldn't have risked it for a mere Hunter...

Nemesis...she must be getting antsy with a Hunter so near...The rage building...He could almost feel it...

Perhaps the most truly Buffy thing about her...The furious rage and sense of violation and betrayal she felt in the
presence of her "sisters"...

Still, she was a practical lass and survival-oriented...He had to trust she'd stick to the script and hold herself in
check a bit longer...

The Hunter had thought the matter over...Or at least as much as she could still "think"...

"I will pass on your message to Mr. Sebastian...If he wishes to speak to you and the Council...He will contact you..."

She gave him a bright-eyed Buffy smile...But remained waiting...

He eyed her a bit more sternly...

"That's how you answer a Council directive, Buffy?...As your Watcher, I am ordering you to take me to Mr. Sebastian..."

She stared...Evaluating the possible combat scenarios, he guessed...

And...As your William...I'm hoping you'll comply...he finished, more kindly...

"It's all right, Buffy..." a voice called from down the hall...A tall, rather handsome middle-aged Dr. Warren Mears now
emerged from the far end door...And strode down to them...

The Hunter relaxed a hair...But maintained position...Watching William carefully...As did also the Katrina maid,
now standing in defensive mode as well...

"Mr. Walthrop..." Warren grinned...

"Mears...Or should I say, Mr. Sebastian...?" William took him in coolly...

Same ole Warren...With yet a few more improvements...

"You've been experimenting with enhancing yourself again, haven't you Mears...? You know the Council will be displeased..."

But not Nemesis, he thought...If you have managed to improve yourself...Mentally...Her prayers...And mine...Might still
be answered...

"Improving oneself's is what life's all about, Spike..." Warren waved him to an open doorway... A comfortable,
even luxurious living room beyond...The clones followed...

"The name is Walthrop, Mears..." William paused in the doorway...Fixing Mears with a hard look...

"Sorry...No offense, intended...William...Have a seat..." Mears indicated a loveseat across from the sofa where
he sat with the Hunter by his side...The Katrina clone moving to stand beside the sofa...

So...he grinned...

"You and the Council...Or was it ole Willow, perhaps?...Finally tracked me down..."

He cocked his head at the Hunter now shyly smiling at William as she sat beside Warren...Doubtless ready to die
for the boss at a moment's notice, William thought...

"You've guessed she's outside the loop of your little harem, I'm sure..." Mears grinned...

"A prototype...? From the first attempts...?" William looked at her...

Bingo...Give the Unman a kiss, Buffy...he smiled at the Hunter...

She rose, smiling...

William...

He put a hand to ward her off instinctively...But got hold of himself and explained kindly to her that
he'd like to wait on the kiss, thanks...

Mears watched, beaming...She turned to him...A rather crestfallen look...

"Later is fine, Buffy...Sit down..." he told her...

"The Council won't be pleased to hear you've kept this one...And, frankly...If you don't hand her over to us...
I'll be very happy to see her destroyed..." William grimly told Mears...

"Spike..." Mears grinned... "You'll hurt her feelings..."

Bad enough turning down a kiss from your girl...

"Enough, Mears..." William raised a hand...

The two clones eyed him carefully...Ready to spring...He paused and carefully lowered his hands...

My girls are overly cautious...Warren noted...

"Even with an ole buddy like you...Sp...William...But...That's love..."

"Well...What can I do for you...Now that you've found me?"

William smiled...

"Before I go any further...I want to speak to the real Warren...Not a clone like you..."
***
Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis... Part II...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators
of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universes Warren Mears...

Part II...


***
Sunnydale, normal (more or less) Buffyverse...

The patrolling Buffy glared down on a fallen enemy...Struggling to maintain her normal intimidation level,
despite exhaustion and injury...

Hafta maintain the full Slayer profile, she knew...Unless she wanted the whole underworld population to
know the Slayer was a bit off her stride...

"Mercy on me, Slayer!...I've killed no..." the vamp looked up at her, feeling where she'd hit him.

Say...?

"You hit like a girl, Slayer." he grinned at Buffy. She glared back, raising her stake...

He hopped at her and kicked her back.

Ohhhh...she moaned, going down....But managed a spring back and hearty kick which threw him back...
Slightly...

He chuckled, shaking himself a little...The mighty Slayer?...Ha!...

"What the hell happened to you, Slayer? You sick or something?"

A cold...Buffy informed his, solemnly.

"If you like we could do this another night...So as not to besmirch your reputation. I'm sure
you wouldn't want other vamps to think you caught me on a bad night.

"Slayer..." the vamp frowned, brushing his hair back and shaking some dirt off his clothes...

"I may have just crawled out of my grave...But I wasn't born yest..." he dusted...William appearing
out of the dust cloud with a stern frown...

"Summers..." he sighed...

"Hey, Will..." she beamed...

***
They strode the graveyard, William in intense lecture mode...

She wasn't supposed to be out alone...She knew better...Why hadn't she called him in to help ahead of
their usual meeting time...?

"You're not up to snuff, Buffy...And won't be for some time yet, if Giles is right...And there's no reason
for you to be out alone...For once, you've got plenty of help..."

"Just like you to defeat the First, then let yourself get killed fighting some nobody when you're off your
feed...he groused...

Inconsiderate of her...When the world needed her more than ever...The Council reforming, the SITs lacking
trainers...Giles utterly swamped trying to put things back together...

Poor Dawn needing her...Though when next he saw the little Miss, he'd give her what for...Verbally...For
letting Sis run off in weakened condition alone like an idiot and never calling him...

And of course her William...But, naturally she'd never worry her head or heart about him...The one who
needed her most...

"I love you too..." she grinned...

He blinked...

Not that it hadn't been out there, unspoken, for weeks...Months...

Years, he was sure...And perhaps even...Well, at least at times it seemed as if he'd always loved her...
And she'd...

But...

What?...She frowned at him...

"Typical...I make the commitment...And the guy just goes merrily on his way, world-saving Slayer
loves me, no big deal..."

"Stop!..." he shouted at her...

"Damn you!...This wasn't how I wanted it to go..." he glared...

No...? she eyed him...

No...he wagged his head at her...

"I had the whole campaign mapped out...A nice, gradual build up, at least for the sake of Dawn and
the others...A few pleasant dinners out...A few nice evenings at home with the family...Some tender
moments on Patrol...Then, when time served..."

"You really were a poet in 1880, weren't you?...And a preety sappy one, I'd say..."

"Romance is lost on modern women..." he sighed...

I never said I didn't want the whole she-bang...she grinned...Though Dawny and the guys will just have
to deal...

And dinner out sounds nice...Especially now that you'll be earning an honest living...

"But if I waited around for you to get moving..."

***
Crash!...Slam...William impaled the giant slug demon on the extended rifle of one of Sunnydale's
immortalized Civil War heroes...

Uggh...Buffy shook her head at the remnants...

"It's...Sometimes it's like we've always known each other..." he reflected to her, moving back
and resuming an interrupted conversation...

Far more important things to consider than the usual nonsense tonight...After her little pronouncement...

"Even from the first day Spike met you..."

"Excuse me...?" she paused, whirling...

"You mean all the time while he was ferrying Dru to the Hellmouth...In what seemed like quite a love quest...,
and seeking the gem, and doing his damnedest to clobber me...?"

"His...Our...Whole existence changed after we met..."

She turned serious...

"You keep talking about "us"...As if you were there when Spike was..."

"I don't feel as if I wasn't...I remember it...All of it..." he looked at her sadly a moment...

"And I remember trying...To reach out..."

She was rubbing her hands together a little nervously...That couldn't be...His soul...There...Aware...?

"Anything wrong, Buffy?"

"Cold...Just a little..." she rubbed her hands again...

He came over and began rubbing them...She smiled at him...Not a bad side result...But...

How could it be?...And yet...She knew he was telling the truth...Not only because she "believed" in
William...But because...

Especially all that horrible year...When he'd struggled so to fight his nature and help her...

He was there...She'd sensed it...All the time...Fighting to reach her...

The reason she'd instinctively turned to him...At least she hoped so...It was a much better-sounding
explanation than sexually craving Spike the mad killer...

And the reason why...She'd been so hurt, felt so...When he...Even though it seemed ridiculous to
have expected a demon to succeed in restraining himself...

No wonder that demon god had been so obliging...All he'd had to do was let the soul hovering round in...

Poor Spike could probably got have gotten the job done for half the cost in suffering...

But why...? Why would a soul, even one as noble as Will's...Have stayed round...?

They walked on...William, eyeing her but sensing she needed a moment, struggled to compose his own thoughts...

What to say?...She'd put it in words at last...There was no going back now...But, damn it, girl...A moment
like this...So casual...Off-hand...

No...He stared at her...Not casual...Not off-hand...Anything but...

Forced out...After blood, sweat, and no doubt, countless tears...

How many nights had she torn herself up over this?...Even after the soul restoration and their struggle with the First...

Fighting with her heart and head...Weighing Spike's evil and crimes against William's love and virtues...

Judging the depth of her own feelings...Gratitude?...Compassion for a condemned one?...Or the real thing...?
...Against her, of necessity, hard and practical Slayer nature...

And all the weight of the dead, evil past still pressing on them...The cries of the victims, the manifold curses of
his vampiral nature...Immortality, daylight...

And...

What the guys would say?...

But she'd taken it all...And pushed it aside...For love of him...

The horrible thought crossed her mind as they walked, she glancing at him...(He was awfully quiet, suddenly, she noticed...)
...What if Giles, the Council had been wrong, all these years?...If the souls always remained around...Watching...?

Salvageable...

Nah...She'd've known...Sensed it...

William was unique...

Naturally...She beamed at him...Catching his own beam at her...

Wow...They stared at each other...And whirled to confront the two vamps closing in on the rapt couple...
Dispatching them instantly...

Guess Mom was right about him...she thought...Mum must have been pulling for me from Heaven to help me
meet her...he thought...

Thank God I didn't finish him...her that time...When he had the gem...When I had the shotgun...Each
thought happily...

***

Alternate Earth...Mears lair...

Warren beamed at William...So...

"You think I'm a clone?..." he smiled...

The two protecting clones, the Katrina and the Hunter Buffy, staring...But remaining focused on William...

"I've no doubt about it...I've met you before...At the Corporation, posing as the real Mears there too..."

"Your original should never have tried to improve his body odor...I never forget a scent..." William smiled
back at Mears... "His...or yours..."

And I expected it...Mears would never risk confronting me directly...

He looked around as Mears frowned at him...

"So...Where is ole Warren?...Or do I have to summon a half-dozen Hunters to tear the place apart just to
help him out...?"
***

"He might have been telling the truth..." a sad-eyed Dawn looked carefully at Xander...A Xander hardened
by tragedy and suffering...But still with something in his face of the love that could and, in another
existence would, save a world...

He made no reply, considering her sad face...Our poor Dawn...So much lost by her these past two short years...
So certain that all of it...Not just their personal tragedy, but the whole world's suffering...Was her own
fault...

If she had never been brought into existence...Or if she had leaped before Buffy...

So many lives might have been spared...So much destruction...Anya...And Tara...

And above all, Buffy...And the hideous offspring of Warren Mears' diabolical genius,
the Council's twisted ambitions, the world's desperate need...and poor William's longing...

All their longings...he corrected...

They'd all wanted it, prayed for it...He knew for a fact Willow had been seeking some way to bring her back...
Hell, he'd have brought the material to Mears himself if he'd known it was possible...

Before they'd seen what spawned from poor Buffy's violated remains...

And they'd all accepted the result...The Hunters...Desecration of their poor friend as they were, they'd
saved Humanity when all seemed lost...

So...They'd all made their compromises...Convinced themselves that Buffy would've have agreed for the
world's sake...And accepted the situation...William taking the blame on himself, and bearing most of the
burden, as Council-appointed Hellmouth Watcher, guardian/trainer of the Hunters...

Until Nemesis had appeared...And shown them the horror of what they'd done...To her...

And begun to take a vengeance that they all knew...Buffy would have desired, even if she might not have
allowed herself...

But then...Nemesis was Buffy...Unrestrained...

He eyed Dawny carefully...

No, she wasn't to blame...Buffy could have died at any time, from any one of a thousand different threats...
It was their response to her death, not the death itself that was the crime...

And poor Will...But how could he have resisted? Knowing as he did, who and what he'd lost when Buffy was killed...

He'd hoped for the miracle that they all had prayed for...Tried to achieve it in his usual, practical way...
And the Powers That Be had answered in their usual twisted fashion...

Even now, even with the results of Will's attempt staring him in the face, Xander himself couldn't help
contemplating the possibilities...for Anya...

If the bugs could just be...Worked out...The procedure carried out by another, humane supergenius...Maybe...

The dream he knew still haunting William...And all of them, really...

The nightmare that had taken form in Nemesis...

He stared at the three Hunters on guard duty in the LA apartment that was now the Summers home...One smiled
gently at him...Hey, Xander...she waved, before returning to intently scanning for any potential danger...
Utterly content in her life's work...

My Buffy...My sister...The woman who saved my and my Anya's lives time after countless time...And this is
the reward we gave her...To be reborn over and over in a mindless body...Immortal enslavement...

Even poor Will, obsessed as he understandably was, saw what was happening...Tried to stop it...While I...

"Maybe..." he finally replied...

But I'm afraid we'll have to operate on the assumption that we can't completely trust him anymore, Dawny..."

He pulled out a cell phone...

"He...Might be trying to get Mears to help her...Cure her..." Dawn pleaded...

Xander...

"I know you hate her...You have the right..."

He shook his head...

"The odd thing is, Dawn...I don't hate her...I can't...I blame myself for this...I should've helped Will
stop the Council when they sanctioned the Hunters' creation...But I went along...I wanted Buffy back...
Even if only in a form to protect me and mine..."

Even as a slave of Humanity...he bowed his head...

"We all betrayed her...I can't hate her for wanting revenge..."

"But if Will can help her...Even now..."

"Willow and Giles have checked on everything we could do for her, Dawn...Will knows that, and though
he may still hope Mears has something...If he's helping her now, it's not to cure her...It's to help her
escape..." his voice shook a moment, then was firm...

"And we have to stop her...Whatever it takes...Whoever tries to get in the way..."

Before any one else dies...He punched a redial button...

"Hello...This is Xander Harris in LA...I need to speak to Miss Rosenberg or Mr. Giles immediately..."
***

Hunter Buffy had sensed danger in William's threatening words...And was on her feet in a second...The
Katrina moving up in support...

"William...Please stop...Or I will have to restrain you..."

"Right...Sorry..."He raised a hand...

"I never want to hurt you, girl...Believe me..."

"I can't let you hurt Dr. Mears, William..."

"This..." he pointed at a glaring Mears on the couch... "Is not Dr. Mears...It's a clone...Like you..."

"Do you have any idea what they...Mears and the Council..." he paused...

"What...We've...Done to you, Buffy...?"

Hunter Buffy eyed William...

"I'm sorry William...I am not capable of the kind of emotional responses I think you're seeking...
My function is to honor my original's memory by defeating evil and keeping Humanity safe...And protecting
the father-creator, Dr. Mears...That leaves me content..."

But I am sorry if I'm causing you pain...

"I know, dear heart... he sighed... But I'm trying to help your Dr. Mears, not hurt him..."

"Then...Please don't use such threatening terms, William..." she replied, still watching carefully...

"Impasse...Mr. Walthrop..." Mears grinned...

"But...I concede...Excellent observational skills...I am a clone of Dr. Mears...One of his best..."

So...Now that some of my cards are on the table...How about some of yours?...

"For example...Where is my Nemesis...? Did she come with you?..." he smiled at Walthrop...

"And just how do you want to "help" my original?"

***

Sunnydale...Normal Buffyverse...

Romance had taken a sudden side turn...

"Whatdya mean... Someone's got to help Dru...?" Buffy glared at William...Stopping in the middle of the
last graveyard of their night's Patrol...

"She's Angel's responsibility..."

"Buffy...She called out to me that night...Her soul was seeking salvation..." William looked at her...

"She was seeking blood...Sex...And the first good-looking male moron to stumble into her path to provide both..."

"We both know Angel will never get round to helping her...And I can't leave her as she is...Buffy...Could
you...?" he paused, giving her a sly, sour look...

"Ah, right...You did leave me as I was..."

She blinked...Ummn...How to respond?...

"I didn't know there was a way to help you, besides immediate staking and how could I?..."

Hmmn...Accurate but lacking...Besides, what if he brought up that damned curse...And the Wolfram-Hart
thing they'd used on Darla?...

"I couldn't stake you, William...Especially after the chip...And that year..." Hmmn...More feeling but
didn't quite jibe with the cold using of their first year together...And same problem with the available
alternatives...

"I didn't know what to do that year, I was so overwhelmed by my resurrection..." Good plea for sympathy,
but didn't explain that time in the crypt when we were almost real lovers...And I still didn't even ask
him his name...

"You love her still, huh?..." Yeah...Turn the tables and throw him off balance...

"Buffy..." he eyed her...

"Well..." she glared... "If you still love her that much..."

"I care what happens to her...Someone has to..." he paused...

"By the by...Why didn't you try to help me?..."

Lover...he eyed her...

Damn...she thought...Deflection failed...

Well...Mom always said honesty was the best way to go...

In small, easily handled doses...she also said...

"I was afraid Will...If I'd let you know how much I'd come to care...And you...er Spike...were just
trying a trick to get my guard down...Or even if Spike did love me, he might still take advantage of my
feeling to turn me..."

I can't just say..."Welcome, let me help you..." and drop my stake every time a humanish vamp claims he
or she just wants to regain their humanity...I'd be dead in a minute...As several of the more compassionate
Slayers were...

Think of what happened to poor Dru...Trusted in Angelus' pleas for her prayers and...

"You could've staked me...Released my soul from the torment of knowing Spike was out and about..." he frowned

"And, no...I don't love her that way..."

She listened to him go on...Part of his atonement, Dru's innocent soul, Angel would never help...never
see or deliberately refuse to see Dru's importance to his redemption, think of all the potential victims
of the only vampire never defeated by the Slayer in battle...Yadda, yadda, yadda...

He doesn't love her...That way...All she'd really heard...

"Well..." she nodded dutifully, realizing he'd reached the end of his arguments...

"I suppose we should help her...It should have been done before..."

"We...?" he blinked at her...

"Say, maybe we could get Harmony at the same time, poor kid...The same arguments apply..." Buffy noted...
"And she was my classmate..."

Can you spell...Vacation...? LA vacation...? With my Will...

"You're absolutely right, William..." she nodded firmly... "We should go asap..."

"While our Slayers-In-Training are still here, it shouldn't be a problem for me to leave the Hellmouth...
If Evil even tries anything new for at least another year or two..."

We...?

***
Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis... Part III...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators
of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universes Warren Mears...

Part III..


Alternate Earth...Mears lair...

"Well...?" clone Warren sat, arms folded on his sofa, watching William on the opposite loveseat carefully...

"How can you... Help...My original?...And where is my Nemesis?..."

"How would I know where she is?...But let me ask...You're that anxious to have her rip your head off?..."
William smiled... "You must know after what happened back at Mears, Inc how she feels about Daddy Warren..."

Hunter Buffy tensed a bit...

"The Nemesis isn't here, Buffy.." William quickly looked at her...

So far as I am aware...

"She didn't kill me...She could have..." clone Warren noted...

"She had to leave in a hurry...Besides she was still hoping to get something out of your original...Why
do you think she was so patient that last week of testing after she finished her education cycle...
Playing Daddy's grateful little girl?..." Will paused...

"She still is seeking something from him, you know...Which is why her attempts to re-enter the Corporation
this past month were so stealthy...She could've just smashed in and killed you, even with the Hunter guards..."
he smiled...

"Your "dad" outdid himself with this one..."

"What does she want?..."

"Ask her, I don't know...Probably info on how to remove any lingering traces of your original's handiwork..."


"Then she'll kill you...Him, I mean..." William smiled...

"But maybe she'll give you both kisses for being so nice and remember you fondly everafterwards..."

"I think...As does my original...That you know where she is, William..."

"After all..." clone Mears smiled...

"She's your wife...Your lost love of a century...Even as my Nemy you can't help loving her...Wanting to
save her..."

"And she remembers it all...Thanks to me...My original..."

"She is Cicely again...All due to our work..."

"Yes...I have to remember to..." William eyed the Hunter... "Thank...Your original properly for bringing
my Cicely back as well in her..."

"I...We're...Not to blame for the games of the Powers That Be, Walthrop...They let her be reincarnated...
And die before she fully realized who you and she were..."

He leaned back against the cushions...A very good job, William had to admit...All of Mears' arrogant smirk,
everything...Only the utter cowardice removed...The real smoking gun as to the clone's true nature...

He requested the Katrina clone fetch drinks..."Scotch still yours...?" he eyed William who nodded...

"And maybe...A little something special?...You're looking a trifle pale...?"

"I have my own, thanks...Fresh from the butcher..." Will patted a side pocket...

The clone nodded and settled back...Relaxing a bit...

"Where is she, William?...Maybe I...Or he...Can give her what she wants...Still..."

"After all...You know I don't really give a damn what the Council wants..." he smiled...

"Can't help you there, Mearsy..." William folded his arms... "But...Maybe it isn't improvement...Or repair
she's after..."

Oh...?

"Maybe...It's Gateway..."

"Gateway...?" the clone couldn't help a blink...He is a great job, Will noted...

Maybe even a little too good...Mears let a little unwanted knowledge slip in...

"What's Gateway...?"

"The Council observers aren't all fools, Mears...You think your other projects went unnoticed?..."

"Never heard of it...But then, maybe my original didn't need me to know...What is it?..."

William smiled...The clone knew something...It wasn't a mistake to have come...

"An escape for our boy Warren...Who's been getting antsy under the Council's benevolent thumb all this time..."

"Oh...? It's true my original wasnt impressed with your efforts to protect him and the Corporation from
Nemesis...But why should he want to escape being head of the most important company on Earth?...All the
riches and power a man could want?...Not to mention..." he smiled benevolently at the Hunter...

"Our Warren doesn't like playing second fiddle...And he knows the Council will only allow him so much
freedom...They took his Hunters away and micro-managed his work...Even your girls here...And you...Are violations
of their agreement with him..." Will paused to take his drink from the Katrina...

"And how could he have created more like Nemesis with the new regime the Council was going to impose on him
after she popped up...? No...No...Our Warren likes to play on his own...He wants out...Which is probably
a wise move as the Council must inevitably choose to terminate him in time after what happened with Nemesis..."

"And just where would my original escape to?...The Council with your friends at their side...And the
Hunters...Have the run of the world...He's lucky to keep in the shadows from them...And Nemesis...now..."

"Another Earth...Which must appeal to a sci-fi nerd like Warren...To arrive somewhere where no one is
prepared for him...Where he can rule unchecked...And yet, all his old enemies are around, just clueless..."

The clone regarded him...Impassive...

"What good would running to some other world do?...Where things might be even worse than here?..."

William chuckled a little... "Mears?...Take a chance like that?...Hardly...No, he's been at this for a
couple of years now...Ever since the Council muscled in on his little operation...He's been looking for
just the right world...A nice little Earth where things have been going well and there are no Hunters or
Nemys looking for him...And no other power-mad opponents, including alternate Warrens, living to challenge
him..."

"Sad that he had to abandon the project and flee the Corporation just when he'd almost succeeded..."

"But then, he pushed Nemesis along to completion just because he hoped to take her with him...Pity he
underestimated my Buffy's spirit...Even reawakened in a thing like Nemesis she was too much for him..."

The clone remained impassive to the end...Then laughed a little...

"Pretty far-fetched, William...Is there any more?..."

"Just that the Council is studying the Gateway components they found...Theyre still intact at the main
lab...If someone with clearance could get your original back into the Corporation...The system could be
up and running in a few hours..."

He sighed...

"Sure would beat hiding out here for what little time Mearsy can hope to elude us...And even if the
Council and Willow could reconstruct the system...Unlikely if it were destroyed in the escape...It would
likely take centuries to find the right alternate Earth without Mears' coordinates..."

"And..." the clone smiled... "If my original wanted to use this "system"...You really think he couldn't
evade your Council security...?"

Not with six Hunters patrolling Mears Corp. he couldn't...William replied...

"But their Watcher could get him in..."

Hmmn...clone Warren nodded, thoughtful...

"Buffy..." he gave a sharp look at the Hunter...Who with a rush, leaped at William and knocked him
unconscious...

"Sorry...William..." she hesitated, looking at his prone form...

"I didn't want to hurt you..."

"He'll be all right?..." she looked at clone Warren who nodded...

"He'll be fine, Buffy...I promised you he wouldn't be hurt seriously...And he won't..."

"I can stay with him...? Make sure... I mustn't let Evil be done... And he is William..."

Yes...You can...This is just for my protection...he waved to the Katrina...

"Take him...Buffy has to remain on alert..." she picked Walthrop up and waited...

This way...The clone activated a hidden door in the side wall...And went through...Katrina with William
and an anxious-looking Hunter Buffy following...
***
"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part IV...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca



Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...



Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...



Part IV..

Alternate Earth, outside the Mears lair...

Nemesis Buffy waited in the bushes near the front door of the ruined-looking old house in which, she hoped...Dear ole "Dad" was hiding...

Though her instincts were to waste no time and charge whatever he had waiting for her...She was aware that subtler methods were called for in this instance...And therefore had agreed to her William's plan...But...Waiting was such a drag...

And she was nervous for William...Warren always a trick or three up his sleeve...He'd even eluded the Council at times...And if she was to survive...William must survive as well...

But he wouldn't, couldn't fail her...Not her William...He'd die first, she knew...

She counted on it...

But, God...Wish he'd get on with it and summon her...She was not made for waiting...

And was rather anxious to see Warren's face when she came waltzin' back in his door...

***

Vice-Chairman of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists, Rupert Giles had as he liked to note to friends, a large office, a grand title, and absolutely no authority at all...The Council had raised him to a sinecure after the creation of the Hunters, primarily to keep the Hunter guardians...Buffy Summers' ole gang of friends and coworkers...Happy...

However...He did have connections...And he had been retained by the Council in part for just the sort of emergency the appearance of Nemesis had created...

So it was to him they'd turned to coordinate operations against her...After their initial efforts had failed...

Who better than her old Watcher?, as Chairman Travers had so smoothly put it...

Who better...To organize the hunting down and killing of the poor twisted aberration of Buffy Summers they'd allowed to come into existence...

His desk phone blinked...A call was coming through...Xander Harris, LA...

He thought a moment...No, best not to bring Willow in just yet...Not until he'd heard Xander out...

In her current state...With their suspicions of poor William...And he wanted to try and save the boy if it could still be done...The one thing he could yet do to make some amends to dear Buffy...

Whatever trust might have been betrayed, he could hardly blame the poor lost fool for falling in love with all that was left of her...His beloved of the past and present...

It would be hard for any man not to fall in love with Nemesis...

***

Nemesis Buffy pondered...Surely something must be going wrong...It was taking too long for Will's summons by concealed beeper...



Still, if she smashed the door down and rushed in...Dear ole "Dad" might slip through their fingers...If he hadn't already...No, William had been right...Subtle...Subtil...

Bastard Warren...He deliber...Deliberally...Damn...He did this to me on purpose...His little everlasting joke on Buffy Summers...

As if her brain-dead "sisters" weren't enough...But then he'd never got over her exposing his little side traffic in sex clones to his girl Katrina, especially his own little April, back in the before time...

Kat's image of noble young Dr. Mears, benefactor of Humanity via his cloning research, had taken quite a fall that day...A pleasant memory still, his humiliated face...

Not perhaps as good as his terrified face...Or at least his clone's terrified face, if Will had been right about the Mears who'd been running the main lab's daily operations then...When she'd trashed the place and killed every Hunter she could get her hands on...The developing ones as well as the fully adult...

That was quite a face he'd worn that day...

Well, anyway...Being cautious...Was called for here...For William's sake as well as her own...

But she had considered this...And she had a fall-back plan...

She wasn't stupid after all...Just trouble with big words...Sometimes...Mearsy's little "dumb blonde" joke...

All she had to do was make a little of the right kind of noise...And see who came to investigate...

And with luck...

"Hey!!!!!....Warren Mears!!!!!..." she screamed...

Ok, maybe it wasn't all that cautious a plan...

Rushing steps...Crap...Sounds wrong...

Ah...The door opened slowly...Come to Mama...

Another Katrina, in maid's outfit...Not quite what she'd hoped for...But...

"Hi..." she sprang up...And jerking the clone into the bushes, snapped her neck in a second...

Hmmn...Well...No surveillance camera that she could see...Or hear...And her hearing was pretty good at catching security systems like that, thanks to Warren's genetic manipulations...Plus with her speed, a camera would have to work hard to catch her...

Though Warren might have allowed for that...

Well, a risk had to be taken...And she wanted more company...One of her sisters in fact...If she could just get to see her alone a moment...After all, her wig had been chosen by dear ole Willie to match her sisters' darker hair color...

And she'd impersonated Hunters before...

Just had to look dumb and docile and do everything the guy in charge said...Until the right moment...

Hmmn...Someone else coming to the door...I hear the footsteps...

I know those footsteps...Beautiful...And just one...



Thank...you...sister...She rose up stealthily...Just as the Hunter reached the door...

Warren should work on his security...Nemesis shook her head...But, guess he hadn't really had much time to prepare the place...

Hope Will isn't dead...Or whatever...Yet...I need him...she thought as she undressed her dead "sister"...

It was good it had worked out this way, actually...She'd have to deal with any Hunters Warren had kept round for his own use, sooner or later...Now one less for poor Will to see her with...He hated to see her deal with her "sisters"...Especially the ones entrusted to his care...Like those waiting at Mears Corporation...Sweet, really...

But then, he always was a sweet man...Even sweeter than poor Willie...

So nice to have him back with me...she beamed...Dragging the dead Hunter over to where the dead Katrina lay in the bushes...

A vague fear crossed her mind...What if?...Nah, Warren wouldn't dare...William is fine...He'll be fine...

After all, except for the problem with the rest of the guys, things had been working out kinda nice since her rebirth...At least since she'd escaped the Corporation...

She pulled the wig on...And slipping through the open doorway, checked herself in a hall mirror...Pasting a benign and placid look on her face...Content to be spending her life in the guardianship of Humanity...and, for this particular brace of prototype Hunters...protection of dear ole Warren...

And God knew what else...Though she could imagine what dear ole "dad" did with his Hunters...

She looked at the cell phone the Hunter had carried, punched the redial, and waited...

"Buffy H-5?..." a voice asked...A Katrina, she recognized...

"Hi...I'm at the front door...No problems...Coming back in..." she brightly spoke into the phone...

"Password?..."

Ummn...She looked down the hall to the door sealing off the rest of the place...Probably a stout one, despite its ordinary look...And she could now hear the sounds of a number of people, including one of her "sisters" behind it...

"Password...?" the Katrina repeated...

"Obi-wan...?" she tried...Well, that was the old password...

Fast moving steps behind the door...Shit, must be a silent alarm...Great...All this acting effort and I still hafta do the charge thing...She tensed...

Hey...I smell something...Crap...

So Warren did have something up his sleeve...Gas...Well...No use standing around to see if it works...

She raced down the hall, feeling a little wobbly at the end...Must to be pretty strong stuff to affect her...Sarin nerve gas at the very least...And smashed into the door...Stumbling through...

Hmmn...I was sure there were more back here...They must've run...she thought as a Katrina and a Hunter opened gunfire on her...

Ow!...A couple of bullets struck home in her legs...But her enhanced Slayer physiology allowed for instant tissue regeneration...And the clones had clearly been instructed not to aim for vital areas...

Not that she'd allow them a vital target...

"Hi..." she shook the Hunter...Who struggled in her grip...The Katrina was already down...

"Where's Warren...?" she asked, a friendly tone...

The Hunters were, after all, a bit on the dim side...Sometimes a direct question...Oops...Something dropped from the Hunter's belt...Hmmn...A grenade, pin still in...

Dear ole Dad...He obviously still wanted her alive, if possible...But best not to take chances on kamikaze orders...And this one didn't seem willing...Or perhaps, capable...of answering her question...

Hmmn...She turned the now dead clones over...Nothing on them so far as security badges or instructions...

Poor sister...she stared at the Hunter Buffy a second...

Better off dead of course but still...

"Sorry I won't have time to help you all...Sister...Maybe someday I'll be back..." she whispered to the dead clone, scooping the grenade, and beginning to search the rooms beyond hurriedly...

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...

"We should go out and find her..." a fuming Dawn noted to Willow and two puzzled-looking Slayers-in Training...

We should go find the Slayer?...She needs our? "Help"?...the two SITs eyed each other...

"Dawn..." Willow sighed...

Buffy is a big girl...And can handle...Things...

Even if the First did weaken her a bit...Temporarily...

But she knew demons and vamps in general were not Dawn's major concern...

Just one specific vamp...

Poor Will...Willow sighed to herself...He battled his own demon nature to love Buffy, protected Dawn all that time Buf was gone...He's won his soul back for love of Buffy, stood with her fighting the First, risked his existence a thousand times...He's taken over Giles' old Watcher's spot...He's trying to work things out for both him and Buffy college-wise via new Chairman Giles and the Council's "connections"...He even took an extra job at Doublemeat...What the hell's a guy gotta do to win over the family?...

Course Buf did hint the other night at the Bronze that maybe it wasn't so much fear for older Sis...

Maybe not even all fear of losing fill-in Mom Buf's total attention and devotion...

There's no doubt she'd had a little girl thing for Spike...Hell, Xander remembers the specific day she dumped him as "crush" object for Mr. Blonde...

And she was made from Buf...

Unfortunately we can't just burn a jacket this time...For either of the Summers girls...

Unless...I do a reverse love spell...Burning William's jacket...Or burning William in his jacket...



Nah...Even Xander wouldn't go for that now...

"Somebody...Human...Should be watching out for her..." Dawn noted darkly, turning on her heel and heading for the kitchen...

"Hey, short, red, and Wiccan..." Kennedy, the smaller and dark-haired of the two SITs moved over to Willow as Dawn left...nudged her...

"What's up with the Annoying One...?"

Neither Dawn nor Kennedy had "grown" on each other...

William...Willow mouthed...

Kennedy shook her head...

"He's got a soul, he's brave, dependable, he's holding a job, and he'd be round all day to watch the kiddies...Hers as well as Buf's...What's not to like...?"

I'd even say he was...A knockout...

"Amen..." Brenda, the other SIT present, grinned...

"What is it with you guys and vampires?..." Willow shook her head as Brenda left...

"A knockout...Were I of that persuasion..." Kennedy grinned at Willow...

Oh...she paused...Wait...

That's it...

"Our little Dawny has a crush on Sis' boyfriend..."

Aww...

"Don't get her started..." Willow frowned...

"She'd end up staking him just to spite us..."

Kennedy put up a hand...O...K..

"Well..." she resumed...Putting an arm about Willow...

"What we need is a deflection guy...How's 'bout Xander?..."

Time we got him a new girl...

"Xander...?" Willow pulled out of the embrace...

"No way...He's my fall-back guy..."

'Case you bomb out...she smiled sweetly...

"Leastways until I find him the perfect mate...A straight me..."

Only someone worthy of him...I will keep my promise, Anya...she thought...

"Jonathan is more your speed..." Kennedy noted solemnly...



"I could do worse..." Willow grinned back...Hugging her...

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part V...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part V..

Alternate Earth, deep within the Mears lair...

"Are the doors all sealed?..." an anxious Mears...Clone?...was asking the Hunter who'd accompanied the Katrina carrying William...William now laid on a low bench with the Katrina sitting next to him...

She passed on his question into her cell phone to the clones further back...Yeah, she nodded to him...

"But the Nemesis is through the first door...The gas did not stop her..."

"Didn't think it would..." he noted...A trifle proudly...His little Nemesis...

William stirred and sat up, blinking...

"Hey, Will..." the Hunter beamed, pleased...

Sorry...she bit her lip at him...Then resumed watching the door to the long tunnel chamber they'd entered...

"Hardly the way to engender trust, Mearsy..." Will looked up at Warren...? Yeah, same scent, clone...As he came over...

"You lied to me about Nemesis, Walthrop..." the clone Mears replied...

But, hey...I and my original figured you would...he smiled...

"You'll be pleased to hear your girl is on her way...Already through the front door, dispatched several of my guards..."

He grinned...

"You're a lucky bastard, Walthrop...My Nemy doesn't give her heart to many..."

Her body...Well, different story...

"She needs me..." William replied... "I don't have any illusions about that..."

"Oh..." clone Mears shook his head... "I don't believe that...But then I'm a romantic...And a sucker for a story of true love..."

He looked over at the Hunter...Still carefully watching the door, evaluating best defense positions...

"And this one is such a romantic tale...Right, Buffy?..." he called over to the Hunter, who looked back...

"I'm sorry Warren..." the Hunter stared at him...

"I'm not able to make the kind of emotional response I think you want..."

Pity...clone Warren shrugged...The Hunter quickly eyed William...

"Are you feeling better, Will?..." she asked...

"Yes, Buffy...Thanks..." she smiled and returned to her observation...

He looked at clone Mears...

"So...Shall we dispense with the little games and get down to business?...Before Nemesis reaches us...And your throat..."

***

"And you say..." Giles paused... "He told you he thought he could get to Mears if he went alone...Before she found him..."

"Yeah..." Xander's voice came over the speakerphone...Some faint clattering in the background suggesting the continuing presence of a hovering, anxious Dawn...

"I know it was crazy to let him go, even under observation, Giles...But it made a kind of sense...And I wanted him to have his chance to clear himself..."

"It does make sense...She's definitely focused on our dear Dr. Mears...And not simply for revenge..."

"Giles...?" Dawn interrupted... "Will could be trying to do just what he said...And give us a chance to take her alive..."

He sighed...Even with all that's happened...Taken alive?...We'd be lucky to kill her without destroying a major city to do it...

"Perhaps, Dawn...But please...I must speak to Xander alone..."

"Giles...You promise...You'll hear William out...? For Buffy's sake?..."

He can't help himself...He loves her...her voice was tense...

"Dawn...More than anything I want to help him...Bring him back to us...Intact...And I swear I will, if it can still be done..."

"Ok...Here's Xander...Say hi to Willow..."

"Giles?..." the caution in Xander's voice suggested Dawn was still hanging...

"Xander...We think we may know what Nemesis is seeking from our Dr. Mears...It appears he left something interesting behind at the Corporation labs...A little side project of sorts..."

"Then...She'll wind up at the Corporation...Sooner or later...?"

"We think so..."

"What about the Hunters?...Should I pull them out?...Or are you and Willow coming?..."

"Xander..." he began carefully...

"She's gone, Giles...What do you want me to do...?"

Giles hesitated...

"I don't want to involve Willow unless it's absolutely necessary...She's got no conception of the danger in handling the kind of power she'd need to face Nemesis...As for William...If there's any chance to help him before it's too late, take it...But only after you're sure she's neutralized..."

Meaning...Dead...Or about to die...Xander realized...

As there was only one possible way to stop the magics-resistant Nemesis short of super-Willow clobbering her to a stupor...A way that was unlikely to allow a chance to help William...

"She must be stopped, Xander...At all costs...Especially if she and William are planning what I think they may be planning..."

"I'll pull the Hunters out...Except for a couple to keep her from getting suspicious..." Xander paused...

"The charges are set...There's enough explosive material in the labs to equal a small atom bomb...When I get the word she's in..."

An end to the horror, Giles sighed...

Including the Hunters as well, except for the survivors...No other facility on Earth could match Warren's skill...And with him and his shop of horrors gone thank God, even the Council couldn't hope to continue the clone line...And when the last Hunter died...Someday...The original Slayer line might at last resume its normal course...

Though he no longer cared really whether Humanity survived or not...Perhaps it didn't deserve to survive...

Odd that Nemesis would have accomplished two of her goals in the end, he thought...Ending the Hunter horror...And fleeing this nightmare world with her William...

Poor Xander, waiting...For absolution, he realized...

"Yes...I think that's all we can do, Xander...Proceed..." Giles quietly told him... "It's the only way...And what she would want...My boy..."

He looked over at the wall in front of his desk...A picture of them all, in happier days...The "before time" Nemesis had called it, the one time he'd met her at the Corporation...It must have been taken just after Buffy had learned of his soul recovery from William...Will beaming at a shyly smiling Buffy as the rest tried to look reasonably comfortable at the thought of their Slayer and her vampiral, if human-souled lover...Glory must have been on her way to them even then...Just as she and Will were beginning to try and learn the truth about their joint past...

What bastard ruled the Universe to let them find each other after a century, rip them apart again...Then follow-up with this hideous... "practical joke"...?

"We'll try to get Will out in time...If we can..." Xander, still hoping to save something from the wreckage...His brother, "in-law", if not his poor sister...

Get him to abandon her...Again?...No, Giles thought...We lost them both the day we let the Council know about Mears' project...When Will begged us to let him destroy what he'd given Mears...And all we could think of was getting Buffy back to save our miserable hides...

If we could save him now, he'd slip off somehow and join her in death...It's why they found each other really...His soul, clinging around Spike, waiting for her, sure his Cicely would one day come for him...She returning again and again to search for the husband she'd tried to save and lost...

Forcing him to stay without her would be the real crime...Still, for Xander and Dawn's...And Buffy's sakes the effort had to be made...

"If you can...But remember, Xander...Stopping her is your top priority...And he knew what the consequences of helping her were likely to be..."

Forgive me, Buffy...Only child I will or could ever have...Forgive my cowardice in ever letting them torment you, my beloved daughter in spirit...May you find peace at last in Heaven with your Will, dear Joyce, and even that miserable fool of a father, if you wish him...Whatever happens to us here without you...

"Those are my orders, Xander..."

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...

A familiar knock at the Summers' door pulled three SITs in the living room away from their "Scooby-Doo" TV marathon to eager welcoming spots by the door...Dawn racing in with a rapid change of mood...Determined to assert her privileged status as both Slayer sis...and half-owner of the place...

The others yielded the greeting to her reluctantly...Willow and Kennedy coming down the stairs just as Dawn put a cheery smile on her face and opened the door...

"Xander?!...Hey!..." she beamed at him...

He giving her a gentle, slightly lost smile back...Hey...

"Hey, Xander!..." the three SITs chorused...

He waved...

Willow raced over...Xander...Kennedy following...But kindly leaving just enough space...

"How's my yellow crayon lover?..." Willow whispered in his ear...Kissing him...

"Getting through..." he nodded...

"Dinner's almost ready..." Dawn noted...

"Buffy?..." he looked around...Ah...Well, better an early Patrol...At least she'll get a night's sleep...

"Will did go with her, right?..." he eyed Dawn...

Ummn...? Well...He left to meet up with her when Willow brought him over from the Box...

"Urggh...Did she slip out again?..." he sighed...

"Doesn't she realize she'll never get her strength back if she gets herself killed by some nobody...Why can't she just let William and me..." The SITs eyed him... "And the rest of us...Handle things..."

Dawn was frowning a bit again at the thought of William out on the town with her sis...Good as it might be that Buf had some help with her...

Willow gave Xander a look, seeing he'd caught Dawn's glare...

Oh...

But Dawn pulled herself out of it....More important things to consider than Buffy's fool romance...Xander seemed a bit more down than yesterday...

And she'd promised Anya not to let him get too down...A promise she meant to keep...

And a task the SITs at hand were more than happy to assist in...

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part VI...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part VI...

Alternate Earth, Council Vice-Chairman Giles' office, London...

"Don't ever go...I love you...so..."

Those were the first words she'd ever said to Will, Giles reflected, sitting at his desk after finishing his phone call to Xander...When a smirking Mears had invited them to the Corporation to see his latest in the Hunter series...Modified only within the Council's firm parameters of course...

Not that either he or William had wanted to see Mears' latest...Another poor near-mindless creature with Buffy's face smiling at them...Eager to give her all for Humanity and the Council...Perhaps tweaked towards a little more intelligence and all the more heartbreaking for it...

But it was their duty to go...And their penance, each knew the other instinctively felt...

The "husband" and the "father" of the one they'd failed...

And there had been some concern on the part of the Observers placed at the Corporation that Mears might have been slipping round their attempts to restrain his playing with poor Buffy's neurogenetic material...Not to mention his own...

Mears of course hadn't been able to restrain himself...Despite the danger of the Council learning what he'd done...An utter violation of his agreement with them...He'd been desperate to see poor Will's reaction to Nemesis...

Though he'd had sense enough to warn her to copy the Hunters' overall placid and submissive behavior...And for her own reasons, she'd done her best to comply...

They'd met just outside the Mears Corporation's main lab building that day, three months ago...In the early evening, just as the sun had faded enough for Will to stroll about freely...He could've used Willow's daylight protective spell, of course, but as it had a limited time and could not be used too frequently, he preferred to be conservative in its use...

Besides...To meet yet another Hunter, especially one a bit more aware...Was hardly an event calling for sunlight...

"Giles..." William had nodded to him, shaking hands...Two Hunters attentively by his side, in training mode, the Vice-Chairman had realized...His Hellmouth Watcher not one to waste time under any circumstances and especially for an event like this...

"Will, my boy..." Rupert had paused...Staring at Walthrop's exhausted, but impassive face...

"You've been pushing things too hard, William..." he'd eyed him...One of the Hunters nodding attentively...

"Will works too hard...He's very tired, Giles..." she'd noted...He staring at her...Surprising to see even that little bit of real Buffy in her...Surprising...And quietly horrifying...

The other, clearly a little less developed, wanly nodded in faint agreement...Too hard...

"I'm quite well, Giles, ladies...Thanks..." he'd told them...

Fortunately both had quickly focused their limited abilities on the tasks at hand...Securing of the perimeter, scouting of any possible threats to the Vice-Chairman, their Watcher, or Humanity in general...Tasks they took obvious pleasure in fulfilling...

The only joy allowed them in their limited lives...And William, their trainer and guardian, whatever pain it caused him, was careful to reassure and thank them individually for their efforts at every possible opportunity...

He'd wanly smiled at Giles...Well taken care of, as you can see...Not even factoring Dawn in...

"Well..." Giles had nodded, frowning involuntarily at the lab doors... "Shall we see what our Dr. Mears has to show us?..."

"Lets get it over with..." Will had looked away...Avoiding the eyes of the more advanced Hunter who'd returned with a brief report...All secure, she'd beamed...

William?...

"Yes, pet...Alls secure...Thank you...And please thank your sister..."

They'd entered, the Hunters carefully following...Passing the huge portrait of Dr. Warren Mears, Earth's greatest scientific genius (at least, self-proclaimed)...Acclaimed savior of millions through his cloned organs...And secretly, savior of Humanity with his Buffy-Hunters...In equally secret partnership with the Council of Watchers...

"Gentlemen..." a beaming late-thirtiesish Mears had come through a huge hall door...An attentive Katrina secretary by his side...Two more Hunters...Earth's savior requiring round-the-clock protection (and surveillance)...following...

"William...Giles..." both smiled at the two visitors...

"Alls well..." one noted to William...Who'd nodded...

"Warren behaving himself?..." he unable to resist the chance to rub it in Mears' face that he was for all purposes, a prisoner...Of his own success, really...

But Mears remained all congeniality...After all, the joke was on his side...It was Will...And all those who'd loved Buffy who suffered...

For him, it was simply his great practical joke on Buffy Summers, the woman who'd humiliated him three years ago...Just as he'd reached the beginning of his incredible climb to fame...

Her strength and ability turned against her...Used to force all those who cared for her to accept his twisted "resurrection" as the only possible way to save a suffering world...

And he'd had an even better joke to spring that day...

***

She was singing...To a rather nice recorded back-up...When Mears led them into the training room where the developing Hunters received what passed for a brief education...

She stopped abruptly...And gave them a careful glance as they entered...A look of recognition in her eyes that Giles knew would haunt him until the day he died...Hopefully soon, he thought...Looking out the window of his London office...

A slight, but definite glare at the four Hunters who'd entered with them...

Warren hastily had urged her to continue her song...Watching their reactions...

And with a look at William...She'd sung the words...To him...

Then paused... "Giles?...William?...That's "The Look of Love"...I've been learning it..."

Any good?...she'd smiled at them...

"I think I'm singing better these days..."

William trembling as he stared back at her...

"Let me sing it from the beginning for you...You can't really judge til you hear it through..." she'd grinned...



(The Look of Love...Burt Bacharach)

[Suggested main theme...(get the Dusty Springfield version, even sounds like SMG singing (well) as a mp3 file)]

"The look of love is in your eyes

A look your smile can't disguise

The look of lo-ove is saying so much more than just words could ever say

And what my heart has heard, well it takes my breath away

I can hardly wait to hold you, feel my arms around you

How long I have waited

Waited just to love you, now that I have found you

Don't ever go You've got the

Look of love, it's on your face

A look that time can't erase

Be mine toni-ight, let this be just the start of so many nights like this

Let's take a lover's vow and then seal it with a kiss

I can hardly wait to hold you, feel my arms around you

How long I have waited

Waited just to love you, now that I have found you

Don't ever go

Don't ever go...

I love you so..."

"William?..." she'd stared after him as he fled the room...Mears smiling faintly to the side...

"Spike...?" she called...He'd halted just a second, stared back at her...And ran...

"Giles?...Is William all right?..." she'd turned to him...And in his turn, he'd trembled...This was no Hunter...

But he'd had the satisfaction of seeing Warren look a bit...As she'd stared over at him as well...Her father-creator...With clear hatred in her eyes...

Whatever Mears had hoped for in creating her, this Buffy was not the creator-worshiping type...Though she'd quickly pasted a devoted Hunter look on her face...

"Is William all right?...I didn't mean to..." she'd looked at Giles again...

"He's fine, Buffy...Just surprised to see you again...It's been so long..."

Only two years...she'd smiled back...

And a century...she'd added...Looking carefully at her old Watcher's face...For signs of reaction, he'd realized...

"I must speak to Dr. Mears a moment, my dear...Then may I come and see you again?..." he'd smiled at her as best he could...

"Please..." she'd beamed...Buffy back for a moment...But then... "I want to...See you, Giles..." she'd eyed him...A look on her face...Part innocent Buffy the loving "daughter"-student, part a seductive look he'd never seen...At least for him...But one he sensed bore calculation...And part...A brief flash of anger and hatred...A rage so deep, he'd thought...It might even equal what he deserved...

"Mears..." he'd eyed the somewhat nervous Warren...Signaling two of the Hunters to escort the good doctor to a conference room...The others to locate the departed William...

"Bye..." she'd called to him...

The one and only time he'd seen her...He'd known, even then, that he must never see her again...

Else, like poor Will, he'd never be able to destroy her...Only die at her hands...

***

P>***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part VII...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part VII...

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...

"If you're that anxious to see the Brooding One again..."

"Spike..." Buffy glared... Swinging back to stake a charging female vamp...

OW!!!...the female howled...She'd missed her mark yet again...Damn...

Dusting them quick was one thing...She hated to hurt them and it seemed to upset William a little...

She could tell from the way he flinched...All five times tonight when she'd been off.

The female reared up, humiliated as well as bloodthirsty...The Slayer hadn't even thought enough of her to take her out with a proper stake to the heart...Geesch...

A second blow found its mark...Phew...This time at least she'd recovered before he could do it for her...God, she thought...Gotta get Giles to do something to speed up my recovery...This weakened state was the pits.

Not that she'd completely minded Will stepping in like that for her...Kinda sweet, you know...



What a guy William must have been back in...Ah, right 1880...That's the year he'd told her he'd died in...Back at the bar that time...Clearly a noble, gentlemanly soul...

Not that she'd ever bought that "always been bad, baby" crap.

And now he wanted to go rescue or at least free the soul of the fiend who'd murdered him...Wow...

Especially considering he "didn't love her that way..." she quoted to herself contentedly.

Mom was right about him...she beamed at him as he looked up and down the central row of tombstones they stood in.

"What?..." he caught her staring at him...

Oh...Right...he thought, breaking into his gentlest boy's smile...

She loves me too...

***

Alternate Earth, London, Council Vice-Chairman Giles' office...

The "before time" Nemesis'd called it...All the memories of Buffy's life reawakened in her...

Mears' greatest triumph...The worthless little bastard...Whom Giles'd had taken to a conference room after his sole interview with Nemesis...Where the Vice Chairman had demanded all videotapes and records on this latest Buffy clone's birth and development.

William had come in, gently pulled along by the Hunters sent to find him...

"Sorry, Giles...I..." Giles had waved a hand and shook his head...

"I wanted to run myself, Will..." he'd indicated a chair which his Hellmouth Watcher took and returned to viewing the tapes Warren had hastily provided.

Mears happily watching them from his seat at the other end of the conference table...He'd recovered from his little burst of nervousness when Nemesis had dropped her guard for a moment to show him a little of the true feeling for her "father-creator" that burned within her heart...Bit disturbing, considering the lengths he'd gone to to try and ensure that she and he would have a harmonious, perhaps one day even...close...relationship.

"What can you tell me about your earlier life, Miss Summers?..." the technician interviewing the new Buffy in the tape Giles was viewing asked her...Obviously early in her education and training cycle, not long after she'd reached maturity...A technician he and Will recognized...As had she...

She'd stared at him in wonder...

"I knew you...In the before time...Jonathan?...It's you, isn't it?...Nice to see you again..." she'd smiled.

Ummn...Jonathan stared back...And then at the camera...Cutting the tape briefly...

Giles had glared at Mears...Now clearly stifling his trademark giggle...

"What have you done, Mears...?!" the Vice Chairman's voice had been icy...His overall power in the Council hierarchy might be limited, but in Sunnydale and on the subject of Warren Mears, particularly with William and the Hunters to back him up, his word was absolute...

"What do you mean?..." Mears had given the miffed look of a cruelly wronged savior of Humanity... "Look at her...She's perfect, a much improved Hun..."



"She's no Hunter!..." William had stood up in a rage...

"Damn you, Mears!...The Council's ordered you not to make any more experiments with her tissue!!...You've been mucking around with yourself, that's obvious...But you had no right to..."

"Finish bringing Buffy back for you?..." Mears had beamed...

That's what I've done, you know...You two saw it yourself.

"I don't know what you've created here Mears, but that was not Buffy Summers in that room..." Giles had resumed coldly.

"And Will is right...You and the Council had a strict agreement...You have violated that agreement..."

"You don't want her back...As she was...?...Good ole Buffy...With her brain intact, more or less...Now that I finally have te skill...And experience from the others..."

Or did you prefer her in Hunter form?...He'd stifled a nervous giggle.

"That was not Buffy Summers..." Giles repeated.

"No?...Who, then?...Her demon twin?..."

"You've abused her for the last time, Mears..." Will had said coldly.

Hey...? I resent that, Walthrop...Mears had glared...

"I never touched her..."

"Probably she'd of killed you inside of a minute if you had...But any fool can see you've altered her..."

Will had tensed...Balancing chip firing and the reaction of the two Hunters present against the chance of twisting Mears' head off his neck at last...But...

Too brave...Or stupid...He'd suddenly realized, as he'd noted to Giles later...Staring at the glaring Mears...

Warren Mears would never have challenged him like that...And there was something else different about him...But the sudden reduction in Mears' instinct for self-preservation had been the main giveaway...Even Giles had caught it right away.

The vampire had relaxed...No point in strangling a clone of Mears as they both had realized this must be...Not to mention throwing away the best chance to get a lock on the bastard's true whereabouts as somehow the original had managed to elude the Council's intense and constant scrutiny.

A few minor improvements...clone Warren had waved a hand, bursting with leering pride...She's much stronger than even the Hunters...Better reflexes...Eyesight...Eye and hand coordination...

"But...I was able to finally recover most of the old brain structure...Including the old memory engrams and neuronal patterns...And improve things...In some ways...There as well..."

Nature had made Buffy Summers, the supernatural might have made her the Slayer, but Warren Mears had made her...Nemesis...he'd eyed them...

Seeing his guests' furious faces, the savior of Humanity...Or at least, his clone...Had come down to earth a little...

"I've brought her back...You guys could show a little appreciation..."

Pity he was only a clone...Giles had thought, like William earlier...No point in killing the bastard...Yet...Not the time to reveal that they knew...See just how much information the original had provided the copy.



And, there was the benefit that the clone Warren would be available to stand in for Mears after the Council had pronounced punishment for the original...Probably a quick and painless execution...

He and Will could then provide more appropriate punishment for the original...

But first things first...He had had to know...She'd seemed so...Buffy...Yet...He, like Will, could see something else in her...Something terrible...

Or, perhaps, better to say...Some terrible lack...

"For the moment, Dr. Mears...No action will be taken against her...You are confined to this room until the Council completes its investigation..." he'd turned to the Hunters, who nodded, then back to Will...Sitting tensely on the edge of his seat...

"We'll need expert help in determining what we're dealing with here, Will...I'll call London and get our best...Including Willow and Tara..."

William had nodded...But stared at the Mears clone...

"What's wrong with her?...How did you screw her up this time...?"

"Don't be silly, Walthrop...She's perfect...Enhanced to the max...Thinking for herself again..."

She's back and thanks to ole Warren, better than ever...he'd leered.

"It's what you wanted when you brought me her neurogenetic material, right...?" he'd benignly smiled...Leaning back in his chair...

William had risen, shaking...Clone or no clone...But...He rubbed his temples...Giles then rising to calm him...

It was not to have you mucking about with her...Will had glared at Mears...He stared at Giles, tears starting to run...

"I wanted her back...God...I...Giles..." he'd pleaded... "I had to have her back...I had to try...After what we'd learned..."

"She remembers that too..." clone Mears had smiled.

Will had just stared at him...And, Giles even then had sensed...Had made his decision in that moment...

How could he possibly blame the poor fool...? He'd regained his life and his love, at least to some degree, after losing them a century ago, only to have her ripped away and that life made a living nightmare...If the roles had been reversed...

But now...Three months later...With Tara and Anya dead...Half the Hunters killed and a number of Watchers with them and nearly a hundred innocents as well...Willow still recovering from her wounds, but grimly determined to use any means and as much power, however dangerous, as necessary to destroy the magics-protected Nemesis...And all of them, the old gang and family who Nemesis clearly viewed as having betrayed her, the object of her wrath...He couldn't allow his compassion for the tormented Walthrop to cloud his judgement...Or interfere with his obligation to Buffy to destroy the thing resurrected in her form.

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...

"LA...?" Dawn stared at Buffy who was trying to avoid a direct glance at anyone...

"You're going to LA?...With him?..." she eyed a sheepish William...

The SITs with Xander on the sofa and several others lying on the living room rug and sitting in various chairs watched with rather intense amusement their trainer and role model's discomfort.



Willow glanced at Kennedy beside her...

"It's an errand of mercy, Dawn...Will wants to help Dru out..." Buffy began...

"Crap!..." Dawn choked... "Let Angel deal with her...He was her sire, right?" she eyed Will.

"Nibs..." he tried...

"We can't afford it..." Dawn noted solemnly...

LA is too...

Buffy's turn to rage a bit...After all the cash...Earned by me, I might note...I've blown on you these past two years, you selfish little...

"It's my money...We're splitting any costs the Council won't cover..."

"They may pay for the whole shebang..." William noted... "Giles is anxious to see Dru dealt with at last...And is well aware ole Broodo will never get down to it..."

Buffy smiled a bit at the Broodo...Damn, Dawn thought...So much for Angel stirring up a little interference here...

"This is important to me, Nibs..." Will eyed her...

"And to me..." Buffy eyed her...

"And actually is not for you to decide one way or the other..." she finished.

"Great..." Dawn glared, throwing her hands up...Xander sighed over to Willow...Who gave a slight shrug... "Good...Go...Have a great time...Marry him, why don't you?...Long as you're at it..."

Ok...Buffy smiled...

"If you'd really like me to...And if I can get him to ask me..."

William blinked...Ummn...?

Xander looked desperately at Willow...Do something...Quick!...his look said...

What?...Her look returned...

You started this...He tried telepathy...You and your will spell.

Xander, you can't stop Fate...And he's a good man, with a few minor problems...You know that.

The SITs were silent in shock...Even Kennedy had no quick comeback...

"Well..." Buffy looked round the room...

"I won't send the invitations out just yet...We'll need a little time for some courting...Will is a Victorian and they like long engagements...To get it right...Right, honey...?" she grinned at her shaken beau.

Ummn...he stared, but nodded...Yeah...Long engagements are nice...

"So...Does LA sound better now...? Or should I move up the wedding...?" she gave Dawn a smile, but with steel underneath.

"Do...Whatever you want...You always do..." Dawn furiously ran out of the living room and upstairs...



"Should I...?" Will looked at Buffy...

"Later...She'd stake you in her mood right now..." Buffy shook her head...Now looking at the others a little less sternly and more...C'mon guys...

"Isn't anyone happy for us...?" she looked round...

"Yes, of course, Buffy...Absolutely..." several SITs came over...

Willow came over...Putting out a hand at Will...

"Congratulations..." she grinned...And nodded at Buffy...Thanks, Wil...The Slayer's look beamed back.

"What the hell is your name, anyway...?" Willow eyed him...And Buffy...

Oh, God...Buffy thought...Damn it, damn it, damn it...She had to think of it first...

But Victorian gent to the rescue...He whispered in her ear...She beamed...

"Meet William Soames Walthrop, everybody...My feller..." she kissed him...

"You do realize she's serious...?" Willow eyed him as the SITs surrounded Buffy...Now an enthusiastic gaggle of wedding planners...

Serious...?

"Your Victorian sensibilities are off, Mr. Walthrop..." Willow grinned.

"You just got engaged to Ms. Buffy Anne Summers of Sunnydale, California..."

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part VIII...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part VIII...

Alternate Earth, deep within Mears' lair...

A terrible thing...Not to be welcome in your own "father-creator"'s home...Nemesis Buffy thought as she cautiously searched through rooms on in the multi-chambered lower levels far below the rather decrepit old house Warren Mears had taken as a front for his refuge...From her as much as from the Watchers and their Hunter Buffies...

No one in sight or hearing since the group she'd killed just off the hallway...And both her sight and hearing were rather extraordinary, even given her Slayer nature.

She was a bit nervous now...What if Warren had already found a way back into the Mears Corporation labs and fled Earth for his alternate world?...Killed Will and left her to face Willow and the Council all alone...

Would be just like the schmuck to pull something like that...She picked up the pace, smashing quickly through several secured doors into a series of rooms.

Nothing...

She paused and tried to calm herself...Concentrating on extending her enhanced senses as Giles had used to instruct her in the before time...Before he and the others had let her down so badly...

Giles...she sighed...It would have been so nice to see him again...All she'd had was that brief moment in the lab three months ago...Then he'd vamoosed without so much as a good-bye for his "daughter" and protege...Not even coming when she'd called him in London after her escape...Ready to forgive and forget, maybe...If he'd help her destroy those awful things he and the others had let Warren create.

Well, ok...Maybe it woulda been hard to let him off scot-free...But if he'd helped her, she'd've remembered only the good times when he was gone...And she'd've sent him off with a beautiful memory...But he'd sided with the rest...Against her...

All of them had let her down...Betrayed her...And now wanted her dead...All but William...

But hey, natch...She'd known William would stand by her, even if her acts might horrify his hard-rewon soul, poor sweet thing...Their existences were intertwined...Her past self had loved and tried to save him back in 1880, her soul'd searched for him for a century and won rebirth for his sake, as Buffy she'd spared him when he was in Spike's grip, murderously evil and unable to control himself.

So now...It was simply his turn...Even if she did feel her actions to date since her rebirth in Mears' lab were justifiable and perfectly understandable...

It's what good spouses do...Stand by each other in times of trouble.

But, if he were gone...?

She shook her head to drive the fear away...There were other Earths and other Williams if Warren was right...She'd find another, if she had to...And another place, a better place...Where she could be the Buffy she had once been...Loved by her friends...Safeguarding the world...

She just had to get to Mears and make him take her there...Before the raging Willow caught up with her with all the strength magic could give her...

And with luck, after forcing her bastard of a creator to reverse whatever he'd done to her that had caused her friends here to reject her...That had caused her to take such a different attitude towards what she once considered evil in general and the sanctity of human life in particular than she remembered she'd once held...

Not that she'd come to enjoy inflicting suffering...She hated to see her friends in pain...She simply found it easier now to accept that view of existence centered around one's self and one's needs that those creatures she'd fought in the past had embraced...And since that seemed to place her in the camp of Evil now with the gang, so be it...

But maybe she'd simply become more practical...Following what she now saw as her senseless leap into Death to stop Glory's portal from destroying the world...And the suffering she'd been put through...Jerked out of a Heaven or Limbo she now but vaguely remembered...Coming to a kind of horrifying fractured consciousness (or at least an awareness, one could hardly call the poor half-brained sisters...Conscious...) in the enslaved Hunters, then ripped out yet again to come to rest at last in her new home...

And that wasn't even getting into what she'd come to remember of her existence as Cicely Addams in 1880 both before and after her death two years ago...Loving and losing William, learning of the betrayal and scheming that had caused her to send him to his horrible Undeath...Dying in childbirth only months later after fruitless attempts to find and save him or destroy the thing he had become.



Go though all that and your attitude is bound to focus a bit more on looking out for number one...and perhaps, number one's significant other.

Though of course...There were things about her new self that did vaguely disturb her...In addition to Mears' little practical jokes with her occasional inability to vocally handle big words and other little "California blonde" quirks...In part, regarding killing...Humans...Especially males...Somehow her enhanced sexuality seemed bound up with it...In a way she didn't think had been quite true of her old self...Though one had to confess, even then she'd always gotten a strange charge, rather more like Faith's than she'd then cared to admit, out of her kills, that was probably part sexual in nature.

And then the other thing...The thing that had led to the rage that made her destroy the lab and what Hunters she could and flee before she'd planned to...If it hadn't been for that...Lack...She might have been able to control herself a little longer and stick to plan, maybe even have avoided the confrontation that ended in Tara's and Anya's deaths...Really an imbecile mistake on Mears' part.

Everyone needs to be able to cry...

Without it, all she had was rage...At least until William had let her know he was still hers...Would stand by her...Loved her still...

Stupid, stupid "father-creator"... Humanity saving "Biogenius"...What the hell had he been thinking...? Not to let her cry...

No doubt the moron had screwed a few things up in her neurogenetics...Maybe deliberately...

Well, minor things...Didn't really affect her essential Buffiness...And she'd have Warren do something about it, if he could, once she'd forced him to take her and Will to the other place...If he couldn't...She'd simply work round it once she was good ole Buffy again, back on the side of Light and with her friends...Maybe alternate Willow could help her once they got to know each other well enough...

Speaking of Willow...She checked the charms on her necklace and bracelets...All still cool to the touch...Willow wasn't in the vicinity yet...Probably still in London, maybe planning with Giles if he'd managed to calm her down...Poor kid...She could understand her rage of course...

If roles had been reversed and Will had been killed by Willow instead of Tara by herself...Well, maybe she'd have a little less rage and a leetle more deliberation in her revenge, but she'd still seek an even more terrible vengeance than she was already bent on...Unlike poor sweet Xander, she warmed at thinking of him...Xander...Who couldn't bring himself to hate her, whom she knew wanted to take her alive, help her if he could even now...She rather hoped she wouldn't meet up with him.

Hey...There's a good ole selfless Buffy attitude...she noted...See, she told herself...

Nice as it might have been to finally show him that she'd had sexual feelings for him, even in the before time...And She'd've sent him to his Anya with her complete forgiveness...Well...

Several of the charms faintly jingled as she felt them.

Thank God for the anti-magics charms Warren had carefully been amassing, several of which he'd given to her just before her escape...Believing that she was serious about her offer to assist him in his own little flight to freedom...The rest of which she'd taken as she'd smashed through the Mears Corp, leaving dear ole 'dad' to choke on her dust in his corporate prison and killing every "sister" she'd encountered at whatever stage of development she'd found them.

Without 'em, with all her tremendous, enhanced strength and speed, she'd have no chance against her wiccan friend or the more magically-gifted members of the Council.

A sound from deep within behind the far door...She raced over, throwing it open...And listened...Yeah...Someone back down that way...

It had to be Warren, still on this Earth...And Will had to be with him, alive and waiting for her to join him...It had to be...



There had to be some limits to God's savage cruelty.

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...The Summers' living room...

A just-returned-from-specialized-training-of-the-newest-SIT-arrivals, Chairman Giles drummed the fingers of his left hand ceaselessly on the coffee table as a sheepish Buffy tried desperately to look everywhere but at him...

William however met his frown head-on...For a moment or two...

All but Willow and Xander having left...To allow the "inner circle" to discuss the new situation which tonight's events had triggered...Even they taking a spot as safely out of the new Chairman's direct glare as possible.

Had Giles always been this intimidating or was it just since he'd assumed the Chairmanship (on the retirement of the severely wounded Quentin Travers)...? Willow hissed to Xander...

Always seemed preety intimidating to me...Xander noted in a whisper back.

"Buffy..." Giles finally sighed...

You do realize the enormity of what you are proposing to do...?

"Well...Sure...Giles..." she quickly smiled at him...

"I mean I know I've been a little weakened since we beat the First...And Dru is a very pow..."

"You know damned well what I'm talking about, girl!!..." he shouted at her...She jumped back a little...But held Will's hand firmly...

Giles...she stared at him, pleading...Then at William who squeezed her hand...

Giles closed his eyes a moment and opened them...

"My apologies...But Buffy...And you, too, Will...You both must be aware that what you are considering is not something that you can decide on the whim of a moment...And that it may put both your immortal souls at peril..."

Buffy looked back at him steadily now...As did Will...

"This isn't a romantic whim, Giles...And I did not decide it on the spur of the moment...God..." she turned from him and looked at the wall...

"If you had any idea...How I...How long I..." she struggled to continue...

"I love him, Giles...He loves me...He would die for me in a moment, you know that as much as I do..."

"We need each other...And I would die for him...In a moment..." she eyed him.

Giles looked at her coolly...

"Dying for each other is all very romantic...But that is not the issue here...You are considering throwing away any remaining chance of retaining some fragments of a normal life and taking on a burden...Which is not your obligation to assume..." he glanced at Will.

"This is not pity...And William is not a burden..." Buffy now stared firmly at her new Chairman...

"And when you age...and he loses you...If no enemy ever causes his soul to be lost again..."



"I could lose my soul in a moment, Giles..." she interrupted... "Any one of us could...I won't let you use that argument..."

"As for aging..." she turned back to Will...And grinned a little...

"He'll look good in gray...And I oughta hold up a fair while..."

"Rupert..." Will looked at him... "When the time comes, I will go with her...Wherever that is..."

"I think allowing me to stake myself...Or having her do it, if she can...Or one of you lot...Is not a great deal to ask of the Powers That Be after what happened to me in 1880..."

Maybe we'll just take a last long stroll in the morning dawn...he smiled at her.

"But...I swear to you...I will not let her down, as long as I have a soul...And if I should lose that soul...And you lot can't help me...She'll deal with Spike..."

"Just as he will...If I ever lose mine..." Buffy finished.

She came over to the Watcher...Who now looked fixedly at the wall across from him...And then turned to her...

"What about children, Buffy...? Do you intend to deny yourself any chance...?"

"Angel had a son...We'll find a way, when we're ready...We're not the first couple with an infertility problem, Giles..." she put a hand on his arm...

"Giles...Please...Look, I don't give a damn what my dad would say...He forfeited any rights with me and Dawn years ago when he disappeared from our lives...But I care what you say...And Will cares...Please..." she pleaded...

"I've so little joy in my life these past years...And my poor Will has had so much stolen from him...Oh, please...Don't take this away from us...please..."

"Father..." she stared at him...Holding Will's hand tight in her own...

He looked up at her...Tears in his eyes, spilling over...

"Buffy...Buffy...I wanted so much more for you, dear..." he shook his head...

Well...He frowned at William...

"You'll be a Watcher...And I expect you'll try to do something useful with your existence...?"

"I'd like to try and finally finish my degree...Never had the chance in 1880..." Will smiled.

"Maybe do a bit of writing again..." he began... "Along with the demon-slaying and Doublemeat..."

"He's written the most wonderful poem, Giles!..." Buffy hastily interrupted... "You gotta read it..."

The Watcher glared...

Ummn...Maybe later...she looked round the room...Finally lighting on Willow who gave her a slight grin...Hang in there, kiddo, you're almost home...

Hmmn...Giles eyed Will...

"Did you ask her properly at least...?"

Actually...William smiled...She didn't give me a chance.



"But...If you'd allow me..." Kneeling besides Buffy...

Unnnh...Xander stared at Willow...

"Miss Summers..." Will began...

She dropped to her knees...Buffy?...he stared...

"This is a partnership, Mr. Walthrop..." she smiled at him.

Unnnnh...Xander put his head in his hands as Willow patted him...

***

Alternate Earth, Mears' lair...

"Hey, Warren..." Nemesis Buffy nodded at the Mears clone with William in the room where she'd cornered them...Two Hunters and several Katrinas around him, all heavily armed, tensed and awaited orders.

He put up a brief hand...

"Will..." she beamed at the sitting William, a Katrina and a Hunter on either side, who smiled at her but gave her a careful...Watch it, girl...look.

"I was getting so worried...You didn't check in..." she turned to Mears' clone with a glare...

"You better not have hurt him, Warren...Especially if you not the Warren I need..."

The other clones moved to battle posture...Nemesis tensed as well...The Mears clone gave them a quick command to stand down a bit...

"Lets not make this reunion a fight, Nemesis..." he smiled at her... "Will and I have just been doing a little business..."

"Buffy...Call me Buffy..." she insisted... "I am Buffy..."

"Buffy then..." he nodded, spreading his hands...

"You two and I...Or my original, if you prefer...Have a common problem and a common goal...And each of us holds a piece of the solution..."

He sat down and waved her to a seat...Across from where William and his guards sat...

So...? she looked at Mears from her seat....

"My original has the transfer coordinates and can set up and run the system in a couple of hours...William controls the Hunters at my corporation...You can deal with anything else the Council and your friends throw at us..."

"Ok..." she nodded...And smiled a gentle smile at the clone...

"Where is your original...?"

"Safe until our negotiations are settled, Summers..." he smiled back at her... "He doesn't especially like torture, you know..."

"And just in case you're thinking of it...I don't know where he is right now...Just that he's monitoring us and will let me know what he decides..."

"Let me sit by Will..." she insisted...



Hmmn...Not right now...the clone shook his head...

"Safer if William remains in our hands for the moment...And my prototype Hunters I should mention, don't have the Council's imbedded directives...So they could hurt him...Even before you could kill them..."

She eyed the two Hunters...Dumb clucks...Prototypes is right...Musta been practically from the first batch...At least the dopey-looking one on the right.

And yet...They could cry...All of 'em...She'd seen them cry...That day in the lab when she'd realized she couldn't...Not even for Mom...She'd made them cry...

"You could hurt our Will, girls...?" she asked...

"Only to protect Dr. Mears, Buffy N-1..." one replied... "Preservation of the creator is necessary to protect Humanity..."

"Hafta..." the one on the other side, nodded in agreement...She looked a bit wanly at Will... "Don't want to hurt Will...Unless hafta..."

Thanks, dear heart...Will patted the Hunter's hand...

"One of your first tries, Warren...?" Nemesis Buffy looked at him briefly...And then coldly at the smarter of the two...

"Call me Buffy, sis...No designation...I am Buffy..." the Hunter glanced at Warren who nodded.

"Sorry, Buffy..." the Hunter replied...

"But..." the other interrupted...A curiously puzzled look on her face...

"You're bad...You're dangerous...You hurt people and us...You are Buffy, too?..."

Out of the mouths of babes...William thought...But then, some of the early Hunters had shown surprising bursts of independent thinking before Mears and the dear Council had gotten the "bugs" worked out...

Much to his surprise...And the Mears clone's...Nemesis not only took the question in stride...She seemed, after a little initial shock at a Hunter's direct question, to be pleased at her "sister's" initiative.

"I'm not bad, sis...I just gotta protect myself...And William...People just gotta learn to let me be..."

Sometimes you hafta do bad things to be free...And to punish the people who hurt you...she kindly explained.

The Hunter stared...The other shook her head...

"Bad is bad...You caused harm, Buffy...You hurt people...You must not be allowed to hurt anyone else..."

Nemesis glared at her...Warren eyed them both...Ladies...he began...

"Save the philosophical debate for later...We have business to settle..."

"Tell her to turn off the self-righ...self-righty...(self-righteous, Buffy...William helped out...Thanks, she hastily beamed)...spiel, Warren...I've heard it..." Nemesis frowned... "I won't hear it played back from one of your personal sluts..."

And you might remember that I don't really need you, clone...she eyed him coldly...The left Hunter tensed, as did the right...But the right showed some agitation...

"Please stop using such harsh tones, Buffy..." the left Hunter sternly told her... "We will have to assume you mean to do harm...And you're upsetting Buffy H-2..."



"Please..." Buffy H-2 nodded...Looking anxiously at Will and her Hunter sister, then Mears...

"Sorry..." Nemesis smiled at her... "Don't be scared...We're just talking...Will and I are going to help Warren and his original...I won't hurt him, I promise..."

The Hunter visibly calmed...

"She reminds me of Dawn..." Nemesis grinned at Will... "Remember when she was little...The time Spike came to fight me and she found us outside...And started crying cause you...he...threatened to rip my throat out...?...And then you...Sorry..." she looked at his pensive face... "He...But it was you doing it, trying to reach us, I'm sure...Stopped and told her you were just kidding...It was a game we played..."

And then she smiled and asked if you were my new boyfriend...?

"And I...Spike...Whatever I was then...Said no, just a friend...But I would be very lucky to have Buffy as my girl..." Will eyed her gently.

And then he left...Buffy H-2 suddenly spoke up...They stared at her...

Yeah...Nemesis nodded at her...Then he left...Very good remembering, Buffy...

"I guess that musta been a phony memory..." Nemesis sighed to Will... "For both of us...And Dawn...Still, it was nice...You seemed so kind, so human...I almost liked you for a moment then..."

"What else do you remember, Buffy...?" she turned back to the Hunter...Who looked at her...

"We shouldn't try remembering...It's distracting...Wrong..." the other Hunter interrupted...

"I'm not talking to you, sis..." Nemesis glared again at her...Then smiled a little coolly at Will...

"Funny, huh...They all seem a little different...Kinda nice, really...Gives them a little something of their own...For example, this one's really getting on my nerves..."

"She can't help it, Buffy..." Will replied... "You know that..."

Guys...? the Warren clone shook his head... We got things to settle and do...Now...

Nemesis put a hand up...Sorry...

"I'm not mad at her...Really...It's just..." she smiled at clone Warren...

"I listen to her and I wish your real self were here right now..."

Tell me...she settled back in her seat...

"What's in this for you, clone...? I know it's silly to care what you think about all this, but I'm curious...You've got Warren's nature, as many brains, and you're certainly braver than he ever was...You must know we may kill you before we're done, especially if your original tries to cross us...As he probably will, if he goes true to form...Why go to so much risk for your original, that jackass...?"

Will smiled at her reprovingly...Buffy...Almost forgetting for a moment...Then a tear formed...Which he quickly wiped...

"Best not to upset our fair ladies, Buffy..." he nodded at the left Hunter who had tensed again...As the right Hunter now did, a bit more slowly...The Katrinas watching as well...

The Mears clone seemed unfazed by her question, however, and again signaled the Hunters and the other guards to stand down a bit...



"I do what's necessary to protect the Mears line, Buffy...My original is the essential irreplaceable element in our line...Protecting him is protecting me..."

And as to that...Can I tell him that we have a deal?...Or do we fight it out, now...?

"Will...?" she eyed William... "Can we trust him?..."

Certainly not...Will smiled back...But...Not much alternative...

"I agree..." she grinned.

"Ok, clone...Tell your daddy we have a deal...We'll arrange for him to get to the lab, he takes us to new Earth with him...He might need our protection, anyhow..."

"And you agree not to act against him on new Earth?..." the clone eyed her... "On your mother's soul?..."

You...Bastard...she stood up...Then stopped as the Hunters rose and the Katrinas came over...

"Sorry girls, no problem..." she smiled a bit and sat back down...

"Know me pretty well...Don't you Warren...?" she coldly glared at him...

"Ok...On my mother's soul...I won't hurt your original...Hell, I might need the sob for medical help or science advice when we get there...Besides...I'll be Buffy again there..."

And Buffy Summers doesn't kill defenseless human beings...Even evil ones...she smiled at William...

I will...I will be Buffy again...And loved...she thought.

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part IX...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part IX...

***

Alternate Earth, London, Vice-Chairman Giles' office...

A quiet but firm knock at his office door brought the Vice-Chairman out of his reverie...Willow, he recognized and buzzed her in...

"Giles..." she eyed him...Calm and composed, but clearly having built up her energy reserves...A powerful aura about her, her eyes occasionally darkening...

"There's news...?" she asked politely.

No point and some risk...Most importantly to herself...In trying to deceive her...He nodded...



"William has definitely made contact with her again...We're convinced they're seeking Warren...And hoping to use his Gateway project..."

"Xander is setting things up at the Corporation...As we planned..."

I see...she nodded...

"I should go...By plane, if there's time..." she smiled, waving a hand at his quick attempt to dissuade her from an immediate teleport.

"Willow..." he paused... "I don't think it's wise of you to go..."

"I want to see this over, Rupert..." she frowned at him...Eyes blackening...Then she calmed a bit...

"Xander may need my help..."

"Nemesis is protected against you, Willow...Magics will not stop her..."

"I don't intend to use magics, Giles...At least, not on her...You're right I can't stop her that way..."she smiled faintly... "But nothing says I can't use magics on myself...And smash her pretty little super-bitch face in when I get my hands on her..."

"Willow...You've promised to refrain from this kind of revenge..." he looked firmly in her face.

"You promised you'd get her...You and good ole William..." she glared back...And looked away...

"And now...He's gone over to her...And you...?" she turned to face him... "Where do you stand, Rupert...?"

"Nemesis must be destroyed...I have no reservations about that..." he replied... "But I do not want to lose you too..."

"For good ole Buf's sake...?" she eyed him coldly...

"For my dear Willow's sake..." he returned the stare... "My other...Daughter..."

She calmed, Willow in her eyes for a moment...But the hardness and the black returned immediately...

"Then get her, Giles...Get her...Or I will...Whatever I have to do...Whoever I have to bargain with..."

"Please..." she was Willow again... "End this, Giles...For Buffy's sake...and mine..."

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...next morning in the Summers' kitchen...

Buffy eyed the kitchen clock...6:25 am...Dawn wouldn't be stirring for another hour...Willow and the SITs not already housed elsewhere by Giles and the reorganized Council not likely to rise for an hour after that...

But this wasn't a morning she could sleep in...If she had slept at all...Little hard to remember...She stifled a giggle...God...Sitting up till a reluctant William made his goodbyes and even Willow called it quits...Then slipping out to fetch William back as he strolled to Xander's at 2 am...Over his increasingly feeble protests...

Hell...I just got engaged...Did they all think I was gonna shake his hand, peck his cheek, and send him off to dreamland...?

Well, maybe the off to Dreamland part...she grinned, biting a lip.

And I thought he was good without soul...



"I should go, love...Get over to Xander's while I can..." William unfolded his arms and straightened a bit from where he'd been trying to nonchalantly lean against the kitchen wall, awaiting the wrath of sis-in-law, soon to be...

Before anyone comes down and realizes I never really left...he did not say.

"No..." Buffy replied...Smoothing her suit... "Dawn has to face up to this, Will...Whether she likes it or not..."

"May be...But not in a morning's half an hour, mostly taken up with your trying to make her eat breakfast..."

"Who said it would be half an hour?...You're coming with us...I'm not leaving you locked up in Xander's apartment or our basement...Not today of all days..."

Time the world met my fiancee...she beamed.

Buffy...? He stared...

Yeah?...she stared back...

"Daylight still gives William a rather intense tan, girl..."

Mmmn...She nodded slowly, thinking...But with a slight something in her eye...Which he caught...

Hmmn..

"Well..." she looked in a chrome hinge on the refrigerator, licking down a few stray hairs, giving her makeup a quick once-over...Not bad, considering only an hour's sleep at best, she thought, beaming again at her intended... "I guess we could either...Wrap you up in some sheets and coats and run you to the car..."

Or...You could read this...she pulled a sheet from her suit pocket...He took it and stared at the lettering...

"Greek to me..." he eyed her...

And as a former Cambridge scholarship student...he grinned.

"I would say this is a spell...Something to do with...My God..." he suddenly gasped...

"It's only temporary...Willow says it should last about two hours at a time under full sunlight..." Buffy hastily noted...

But it should let you travel outside a bit...she looked at him.

"Engagement present, Honey...With Willow's compliments..." she smiled...Then looked a hair nervous...He was still just staring at it...

"Will...? Is it ok...?" she asked anxiously...

He twisted round to stare at the clock...6:30...

"Get your coat...Come on..." he hissed...Smoothing the sheet out on the kitchen counter and beginning to read...

"Hurry!..." he looked up at her...

What?...she stared...Oh!...

Geesh...How could I not...

"I don't need a coat...Hurry..." she urged him as he read...Glancing outside at the sky...



Ok...He nodded...Folding the sheet...Moving to the kitchen porch door...

Wait!...she hissed...Coming over...

"Slowly, honey...lets not take any..." she began... "Will!?..."As he dragged her out the door...

To greet his first sunrise in 122 years...

Standing side-by-side on the porch, they stared out at the pink and gold clouds...The sliver of white rising up...He put a hand out which she grabbed...Squeezing...

He shook his head...

"It's...I..." he watched the white move up, becoming a white and gold ball...

Not too long right at it...she noted...UV and all...And you're still kinda sensitive...

"Right..." he nodded...Still staring...

Will...Please...she finally breathed...

"It's...Like you..." he suddenly turned to her... "All gold...Light...Warm...A little piece of heaven..."

No wonder I ran to you...he grinned suddenly...The ole song had it right...

"You are my sunshine..."

***

Alternate Earth, a secret underground chamber not far from the grounds of the Mears Corporation laboratory complex...

Dr. Warren Mears, acclaimed benefactor of Humanity...Secret savior of the same, at least by his own estimation...Sat in a chair, pondering his next move...Weary lines of young, but stress-filled middle-age on his face, a slight paunch, and a harassed, nervous look pronounced him to be the one and only original...At least on this Earth.

So near his goal...Literally as well as figuratively, considering his current location...Yet...What to do...?

He couldn't risk charging into the labs with his few Hunters and Katrinas, even if he could risk summoning them all to him here...The Council's Hunters would take him in a few minutes.

But to risk a deal with Nemesis...Perhaps the one creature on Earth who wanted him dead more than his Council-assigned "protectors" Walthrop and Giles...

And not just dead by any means...Dead by her own unique means...Courtesy his skill and genius...

Still, she wanted out of this world as desperately as he did...And, in the course of the negotiations with his clone which he'd been carefully monitoring, had sworn to leave him unharmed on new Earth...Sworn on her Mom's soul...A pledge he knew her well enough to believe she would keep...

As long as she felt she could...

Being, like her "father-creator"...And to some extent, thanks to him...Of a "practical" bent of mind and character.

And he'd already tried a deal with her...When she'd made good her escape from the lab "nursery" after offering his clone stand-in her assistance in getting him out...Away from the place that had become a prison to him, hobbling his genius...In exchange for his advice and skilled help both in effecting their joint break-out and in restoring all that was lacking in her new self that had caused her friends to turn from her.



He paused in his deliberations long enough for a quick sneer...God...All he'd given her and here she was, demanding to be her old self...To be regressed back to dear ole Buffy the world's hand-holder...

Is that gratitude?...Well, someday perhaps she'd learn to appreciate his improvements to her nature...Though sadly, it seemed she was never likely to properly appreciate him as he'd hoped his manipulations would lead her to do...But, there'd been no way to more or less fully restore her mind without restoring the memories within it...Memories that had included those regarding a certain resouled vampire and former poet.

Though it seemed rather unfair of her to hold such a harsh opinion of her dear ole Warren...

Well, "how sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful child..."

But, back to the practical...And the decision at hand...Only Walthrop could get him past the Hunters...And only Nemesis could fight them and whatever else the Council might throw at him...

And it was always possible that with dear Willow gunning for her lover's killer as well, that he might be able to slip out on his own in the confusion...If he chose to take the risk of proceeding to new Earth alone...

Indeed, if someone were to let it get out to Miss Rosenberg that the fiendishly twisted version of her ole pal who murdered her poor Tara was about to skip Earth, that someone might even have time to get one or more of his own Hunters or Katrinas into the lab and to new Earth with him...Providing the protection he might well require...Protection his new "allies" might not be as enthusiastic in dispensing.

He sent a coded message out via scrambled microwave...Direct to a receiver implanted in his clone's auditory system...

Terms accepted...Tentatively...

Poor Nemy...he involuntarily thought...Chasing a life she could never hope to regain...Even if there were no living Buffy in the world they'd be headed for...

At least, according to the last successful probe he'd made...Over a year and a half ago...

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part X...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...



Part X...

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...That evening...The Bronze...

"i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
not fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)..." [ee cummings]



Buffy looked up at William...

Ummn...

"Buffy...It's...Beautiful..." he stared at her...

"You wrote that...?"

For me...? he beamed...

Willow sitting over by the wall of the Bronze, Kennedy standing next to her, looked noncommitally at Buffy...Poking Kennedy silent when the potential Slayer seemed about to speak...

Xander likewise looking over, as he sat beside Willow with several SITs in careful attendance...Their sweet Alexander...Not that Willow wouldn't look after him...But after all...Just part of their duty as Slayers-in-Training...Duty...And pleasure...

Dawn, somewhat grimly nursing her Shirley Temple in a dark booth like Ernest Hemingway on a bender, under Clem's and Giles' watchful supervision...Graciously having agreed to surrender and attend what amounted to...sigh...The Walthrops' engagement...Re-engagement, Buffy had noted, grinning at a sheepish...Ok, ok I get it...Willow...Party...



"It...Ummn...It's just how I feel..." Buffy began...

Giles now looking over at Buffy as well...Hmmn...Rather familiar that poem...

The new fiancee looked at her intended...Not a whit of poet's jealousy in his face...Just joy...Two poets in the family...No doubt about it...We are soulmates...he beamed at her...

Ummn...Yeah...

"It's...Wonderful..." he shook his head at the sheet in his face...Reading it carefully aloud again...

And you wrote it...For me...?

"No one's ever thought of writing a poem...For me..." he stared at it...

She looked to Willow...Who rolled her eyes...Look at that face, Buf...her expression saying...

She looked back at Will's proudly happy face...

"Yes, William..." Buffy solemnly nodded... "I did..."

Thank you, Spike...For keeping him mostly out of the poet's loop for the past century...I owe you...she thought...

"She wrote that...?" Xander hissed to Willow...

"With a leetle help from a guy named ee cummings..." Willow hissed back...

Hell, I'm impressed Buf read him...she thought...

"You do need to capitalize these i's and add some periods, dear..." Will gently noted...

***

Alternate Earth, original Mears' secret underground chamber near Mears Corp...

Do or die time approaching...the famed Dr. Mears thought...Emphasis likely to be on the "die", with Nemy on her way...

Still...She hadn't killed him when she'd had the chance...At least not the hims he'd had running Mears Corp for the past nine months ever since he'd managed to slip the Council's tight security while good ole William and Giles were presenting Hunters to the Council in England...

Not even the day she'd revealed the depth of her hatred for him and her "sisters" and fled the security of the corporation labs...

And she did need him...If she was to escape the forces gathering against her...However much she might desire to flay the flesh from his original bones...

Ungrateful little...After all he'd done for her...And her "sisters"...Why the little bitch'd still be six feet under if he hadn't agreed to make the try when Walthrop had brought her neurogenetic material to him in desperation a few weeks after her death...Not to mention the peril the world had been saved from, thanks to his Hunters...



And it hadn't been like he'd owed her a favor, oh no...After what she'd put him through with Kat over the April clones when she was still just plain ole Slayer Buffy...Exposing his little sex clone side business just when he was ready to dispose of the lot and go respectable as Dr. Warren Mears, Benefactor of Humanity, courtesy his cloned organs...



Geesh...To show so little feeling, such ingratitude...Well, ok...It had been his intention to improve Miss Summers somewhat along those lines...Junk to what extent he could, that troublesome conscience of hers while retaining most of her higher brain functions...The Hunters after all had been amusing enough, a real joke on her, but even he'd found them rather tiresome as companions...And the damned Council'd seen to it that he couldn't even monkey around with their brains a bit once the basic pattern had been established...

Dumb and noble...Geesh...What a combination...Even if it was possible to bypass their inhibitions on sex with a little skillful manipulation... "Why no, this isn't restricted physical contact, Buffy...You're just providing physical therapy..." "Oh...Ok..." Even certain members of the not-always-so-high-and-proper Council had, he knew, taken advantage of such loopholes with their Hunters when Walthrop and Giles were not on hand to watch over them...

But Humanity's greatest genius deserved a more worthy mate...

Yeah, after making good his escape thanks to his clone impersonators, he'd tried to create the perfect Buffy, at least to his notion of perfection...But he hadn't counted on her resisting his attempts to build in enhanced regard for him, her "father-creator"...

He hadn't been expecting...Cicely...

***

Alternate Earth...Clone Mears' lair...

"So...Buffy..." clone Warren eyed Nemesis as they prepared to head out of the room where they'd reached a successful conclusion to their negotiations...William carefully tucked in among several Katrinas and the prototype Hunters, now three in number...The clone with two Katrinas protecting him...Nemesis watched by her own pair of Kats...

"You understand that William will be destroyed if you so much as take one step out of line?...And that killing me, if you should choose to try, will get you nothing?..."

"You don't interest me, clone..." she cocked her head at him, sneering a bit...

"But...If Will is so much as scratched...You'll wish you'd never been pulled out of your hatching tank..." she smiled gently at him...

And as for your original...

"Buffy..." the clone noted his guards...Now tensing...

Ok...she smiled...

"No problem, girls...I'll be good...You just see that my Will is ok..."

The two Hunters nodded slightly...The Katrinas concerned only for Mears, of course...

"Lets get moving..." clone Mears looked at the Katrina in front who opened a concealed tunnel door in the rear of the room...

"Almost home free, Will...Hang in there..." Nemesis called over to him, almost gaily...he noted...

God...Let this be the right thing to do...he sighed to himself, nodding back at her and following the lead of his guards into the tunnel...

Let this new Earth need her...Give her a place where she can be my Buffy again...

***

Alternate Earth, the outer offices of the Mears Corporation, aboveground from the main labs...



A strained-looking Xander stood by a large table with phones, looking across the main foyer to several vans parked outside...Council members and staff, with Hunters and a few Katrinas scurrying about, trying to remove what could be taken...Two Hunters at his side, both with rather concerned expressions as they watched him and scanned the area, awaiting instructions...

"Xander..." the more advanced of the two eyed him... "You look awfully tired..."

Yeah...the other nodded...Both quickly scanning the large hallway and foyer for any potential threats...

"I'm fine, thanks Buffy..." Xander nodded to them...

"Anya should make you..." the less advanced one began and halted in mid-sentence...

Oh...Anya is gone...she paused...

"Isn't she...?"

Xander stared at her...God...he closed his eyes a moment...

This is the worst of it...These times...When one of them slips outside the box just a little...And almost...For a second...

"Buffy H-7..." the more advanced one broke in...Almost as tactfully as Buffy might've...At times... Xander thought... "This talk hurts Xander..."

Oh...Buffy H-7 looked at him...Sorry...she bit her lip...

"No..." he hastily shook his head... "It's ok..."

I know you don't mean any harm, Buffy...

"I don't like to see you sad, Xander..." she replied....

I know...Thanks...he smiled at her...And the other, now giving him a half-smile...My sis, whatya gonna do?...look that nearly shattered him...

He had to shoo them away...Just for a moment...Else, he'd never hold up...

And he had to hold up...Just a little longer...Until it was over and he'd helped to destroy the worst of what they'd allowed Mears to create...And made it difficult, if not impossible for anyone to try to do it again...

"Buffy...?" they looked at him...Yes, Xander...Beloved brother, their looks saying "Both of you, I mean...Could you check out the lab corridors, quickly...Together?"

They nodded eagerly and left...Utterly content...

He watched them leave...A junior Council member, Observer status, came over...Demanding more time...Valuable data to be retrieved yet...The computer links to London have been shut down...A slightly accusing tone in his voice at the end...

"The links are shut down on Vice-Chairman Giles' order...We're pulling out in thirty minutes...And the materials collected here are under my supervision and Vice-Chairman Giles..." Xander eyed the Observer grimly...

And will be destroyed at the first opportunity...Before the Council gets its hands on anything they could use...he thought...

"Unless you'd care to argue with the Slayers..." he finished...Staring the man down...

The Observer looked out the main glass doors to the three vans outside...All guarded by Hunters...Who were politely removing all materials carried outside from any remaining Council members and corporate staff...Politely, but insistently...



"What is going on here...? The Council ordered all materials possible transferred to London..." he tried...

"All materials...Possible...Will be transferred..." Xander noted quietly... "Under the Vice-Chairman's and my supervision...Only..."

The Observer glared but was silent...Xander eyed him thoughtfully as he turned on his heel and headed for the doors...

So...he thought...The Council suspected we'd try this...Good thing Giles centralized all the computer links under his authority...Mears rather eagerly assisting, anxious as he'd been to keep the Council from getting anything that would terminate his value to them...

He whipped out a cell phone and one of the Hunters outside answered...She came away from the vans and reached the doors just in time to grab the Observer...

Several staff and Council personnel eyed them...Looking at each other...

The Hunter gently patted the Observer down and removed a concealed phone...Leading him back to Xander...

"Here, Xander ..." she handed the phone, holding the hapless Observer...

"I'm a member of the Council..." the man began, trying to inject some sternness into his voice as the Hunter held him firmly in her grip...

"No communications unless authorized by me or the Vice-Chairman..." Xander glared... "We're under martial law here for the duration...And you...Are under arrest...Take him to the third van, Buffy and keep him there..."

She nodded and dragged him along, gently...

"Anyone else with complaints?..." he called in a loud voice, looking round the office and foyer...

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part XI...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part XI...

***

Alternate Earth...Underground lair of original Warren near the Mears Corporation labs...

His guests were on their way, now in the main tunnel, a Katrina clone informed the weary and rather wary-looking man seated viewing notes from his desk computer...He nodded and requested she have the outer chamber guards pull back to the immediate area around his office...

Not that they'd stand much chance against his Nemesis...Still they might slow her down if she decided not to go through with the deal as arranged...And she might, even if it meant screwing her hopes of making a permanent escape...Just for the chance to get a crack at him...The one and only original...She hated him enough, he knew...

Of course she'd even fooled him at first, Dr. Mears reflected, with a papa's pride at his wayward but clever daughter's skill...Made him...Via the info provided by his clone impersonator...Believe his efforts at remaking Buffy Summers into his ideal mate were succeeding...Just as she'd fooled the Council staff at the Corporation, with a little guidance from his clone of course, into believing for a good while that she was just another Hunter...

But then, she'd needed time to get a handle on the situation...Figure out who she was and just what the hell had happened to her...Cope with the resurfacing memories...And if his attempts to induce Warren-focused admiration and love had failed, she had had a healthy fear of dear ole "Dad's" abilities...At least until she fully understood her own...

So she'd wisely...Especially considering she'd matured at three months...Played her cards close to her blouse...Docilely following "father-creator's" instructions for concealing her differences from her sisters...Displaying appropriate regard for dear "Dad" in spite of her mounting rage at him...Learning all she could about her surroundings and the changed world outside...And waiting with laudable patience for her moment...Until she'd seen William again...And had a very bad day...

Which understandably had been a leetle too much even for her...Sadly for that Tara and that Anya as well...

***

Naturally she'd caught on to the clone Warren's true nature fairly quickly during her final maturation and education cycles Mears thought proudly...Though she'd wisely kept her awareness to herself...Until her escape...

But hell, even that fool Walthrop had eventually fingered him...It was only that Buffy's pet resouled vampire hated to visit the Corporation for more than the briefest of minimal visits that he hadn't detected him sooner...

Though, irritating as it might be not to have the original Mears within choking range, that had not been what had set her off...Nor even seeing Walthrop...And Giles...For the first time since rebirth...

No, her premature little outburst had been due solely to the generous heart of Dr. Warren Mears...Who'd kindly enabled the Hunter clones to remember enough of their past to remember dear Mrs. Summers as part of their basic profile...

And that day, the day Walthrop and Giles had visited the Corporation had become rather hectic after the two Council supervisors had held his clone under confinement for several hours while they dug though the files on Nemy's creation, maturation, and education/training...So that against normal routine, she'd still been on hand in the training room when the latest batch of developing Hunters went through what passed for a brief review of their happy days with Mommie...Just a little memory jogging to keep them emotionally stable and better able to brush off the occasional troublesome memory bit floating up in the future...

Ending with a mildly troubling glance at Joyce's demise...Cushioned and quick...But still enough to bring a few tears to the Buffies' eyes...A perfectly normal result of a healthy and gentle exposure to mild emotional memory stress...But a bit of the educational cycle that had been deliberately omitted...At some cost in scheming and schedule manipulation... from Nemy's maturation, as he'd felt it not only unnecessary, but likely to stir up emotions he'd gone to some effort to repress...

He had the video tape of the scene...That fool Jonathan, his chief technician, had at least had the sense to keep monitoring the training room and the maturing clones and he'd had a secret, direct feed running to both his office here and the lair he'd abandoned to his other clone a short time ago when he'd realized Nemesis and Walthrop were not fooled by the first imposter...

Dear ole "Dad" might be absent...But he'd kept a close eye on his girl...

Not that he needed to see that tape to remember...When Nemesis had seen the shots of Joyce, the hospital, the funeral...All telescoped into a few brief scenes on large-screen TV...

And seen her sisters...The Hunters...Dim as they were...Crying...For their Mom...And what they briefly, vaguely sensed was the life they'd lost...While a soothing voice-over provided bland comfort... "Your Mom is safe in Heaven with the angels, now..." that sort of crap...

And suddenly, horrifyingly realized...She couldn't...Not a tear...No matter how much she tried, how much she desperately needed to...

All the others could...She had been able to...In the before time, she knew that...But not now...They'd taken it away from her...Warren...And the "friends" who'd let him do this to her...

Along with God knew what else...

All her careful calculation had vanished in a moment of hideous rage...Her angry howl overcoming even the piteous cries of the slaughtered Hunters...Childlike and innocent, most of them still looking enough like children to drive even the watching Mears to tears...

They were all dead, fourteen of them, before Jonathan in his control room could even hit the alarm at his fingertips...And before Giles and Will could get out of the office where they'd been reviewing the Nemesis data with clone Warren, still passing for the real thing, though they'd now ferreted him out...Standing in mute horror in the doorway, staring at the carnage in dumb shock...The Vice-Chairman coming to himself just enough to call for the complex to be sealed off as Will desperately staggered through the room, looking for any who'd survived...Begging them...and Nemesis...for forgiveness...

And Nemy gone, fled into the main labs destroying everything she could get her little hands on...Killing or smashing anyone or thing that got in her way...She hadn't known her own strength til then...

But she knew it now...

Though she'd had enough presence of mind to grab all the magics-protection she could, racing through the rooms...And already had what clone Warren had passed to her after she'd expressed willingness to assist him in escaping the Corporation and the Council's thumb...

Help dear ole "Dad" slip out of his unjust confinement...? Why certainly...Just so long as he'd promise they'd be together...So she could take proper care of him...She'd quietly told the clone in a hasty private conference, snatched in an unsupervised moment in the main lab a few days earlier, with a sincere and innocent beam...

But all that was out the window... As had been the Warren clone of that day when she'd smashed into the conference room where he sat, under reasonable but insufficient protection...Giving him just a second's hasty offer to let him reveal the whereabouts of the real Mears...Which she'd expected him to decline in any case...

He had that on video as well...Though, despite the poor fellow's miraculous survival, it was one video he preferred not to repeat view...Useful info as it had provided...

He now knew just how deep his "daughter's" feelings for him were...

***

It wasn't likely that they could have held her in the corporation complex that day for long, anyhow, with the security they'd had on hand..But after she'd calmed a bit, hiding in the vast lower lab tunnel network Nemy had made use of her other talents to make a surprisingly quiet getaway...

She'd slipped through the air vent system to reach the control center...Hiding just inside the vent duct until the staff on hand had been conscripted away to assist in the hunt for her...Leaving only one behind to continue monitoring the hallways...

A dear old friend from the "before time..."

Opening the vent grating and slipping up behind him so silently that she'd grabbed and pinned him before he'd had the slightest idea she was there...

Sh...she'd gently told him...I don't want to hurt you, Jonathan...You're a friend of mine...I remember...

"I'm sorry I got upset...I didn't mean to..." she'd eyed him, turning him around to face her...

"Buffy...Please..." he'd gasped...

(Damned moron, Mears thought, watching the security video later...You deserved this...If you'd been on your toes...)

"Jonathan..." Nemesis had beamed...Quickly and quietly ripping out much of the alarm controls...And shorting out what she could of the master electrical system...The main lab lights faded out and emergency lights came on...Shouts throughout the complex could be heard...

"You're a good man...You know what Warren did to me...What they're going to do to me...You don't want to see me hurt?..."

"No..." he gasped...She released him gently...And to his surprise, gave him a gentle hug...

"It's so good to talk to you again...My umbrella man..." she grinned, pulling back...

See...she eyed him...I remember...I am Buffy...she noted...Biting her lips as she stared at him...

"I knew you wouldn't want to hurt me...Any more..." she eyed him...

"You'll help me...My sweet Jonathan...?" she beamed again...Kissing him gently...and dragging him to the control room door...

"Guess we better get going, huh?..." she turned away to look down the lab corridor...

Ummn...Jonathan struggled to catch his breath...And sanity...

Yeah...He weakly nodded...

She looked at him, waiting...Well?...

"That way..." he pointed feebly... "It's not monitored past the main doors..."

Cool...she grinned...

"I knew you'd come though for me, Jonathan..." she'd led him carefully down the hall...

***

Mears hadn't had the pleasure of seeing Jonathan's fate on camera...Nemy had smashed what units were running on emergency power in the hallways and the final act had occurred off the complex grounds...But he could make a preety fair guess...As had Giles and Will when they'd found his corpse...

He'd guided her, clamped firmly in her gentle vise grip to a poorly secured emergency exit...And despite his feeble protests had been persuaded to continue on with her until they'd reached the safety of some woods overlooking a major interstate...

Where she'd stopped to thank her benefactor...Properly...Before parting from him...In a small clearing...

"Oh..." she moaned...Squeezing him tight now...Her face crimsoning...A look of divine ecstasy...

His own ecstatic state rapidly approaching hers...Accompanied by a kind of almost religious awe...At her and at the incredible luck that he should be the one available...

Buffy Summers' first...In her new form...

But...Suddenly he realized...A little too tight...

"Buf..fy..." he gasped...

Can't breat..

No?...she whispered...Stroking his hair with one hand, but tightening her hold with the other...

Bu..Buf...he choked...

"I'm sorry..." she sighed... "Jonathan...I really liked you...You were sweet...I remember you tried to be good..."

And you're a fine lover...Don't ever let them tell you different...

"Wherever your soul winds up..."

He dropped to the ground...Dead...

"You helped them..." she stared at him a moment... "Jonathan...You shouldn't have done that..."

But I forgive you...My sweet Jonathan...she blew him a last kiss and headed for the interstate...Where she'd found a very nice man who'd kindly given her a ride into LA...

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part XII...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part XII...

***

Alternate Earth, Mears' underground chamber near the Mears Corporation labs...

It was about as close to committing suicide as he'd ever come...Mears realized as he sat at his desk, calling up the last of the files he'd need to activate the Gateway transit link...Cutting a deal with Nemesis...Without a clone intermediary as a buffer from her wrath, that is...

But there was no alternative...Unless he wanted to continue trying to dodge the Council and its remaining devoted Hunters...And if Walthrop and Nemesis could find one of his lairs so easily...The others were sure to bring him to heel fairly soon...

And Nemesis sincerely wanted his help, he knew...As sincerely as she wanted to be Buffy again...Somewhere...

And Buffy did not kill humans...Generally...Even those she hated...Nemesis knew that, remembered it...Would try, at least, to live up to it...

At least...Would try on new Earth...

So long as new Earth was what he'd...Or rather his clone, in their earlier talks, before she'd escaped...Promised it to be...A Buffy-less yet reasonably safe world, much like their own, minus the demon raids at least up to the last year and a half ago when he'd been able to make his last probe...How'd they ever manage to avoid that?...Where a new Buffy, dropped by some chance from another world, was likely to be made very welcome by her alternate friends...If she could convince them she was Buffy enough...

Course she might choose to "accidently" eliminate him once he'd got them through...But, in the final negotiations with his clone, before she and Walthrop had set out with the phony Mears to meet him, she'd again expressed a desire to be "repaired"...At least, have him restore what he'd taken from her...

Hmmn...Well, as long as he could keep stringing her along with the prospect of fully regaining her old self...He'd have a chance...And once he got his footing on new Earth...Formed his own alliances with whatever, whoever was on hand...

Just must keep her convinced he could work the miracle she wanted...

Geesh...The little fool...Wanting to regress like that...Back to good ole Buffy...The one she remembered as the one everyone had loved...After all the effort he'd made to improve her...

Well, she didn't want to give up the enhanced strength and agility of course...At least she'd had that much sense...And even she couldn't deny that that gift from "Dad" had been the reason for her survival to date...After her little get-together with the ole gang had gone so badly...



***



She'd called them that very night from LA...Giles in London, Xander, Willow, and Dawn in Sunnydale...Uncertain...Maybe sincerely hoping some of them hadn't acquiesced to Mears' schemes...Asking for some or all of them to meet with her before dawn that morning at a place she felt was safe...Apologetic, though insistent that her actions had been understandable...Telling them she still loved them all, however perturbed the Hunters and the whole cloning thing had made her...She'd even politely asked about the Mears clone's injuries, pointing out that she could have easily finished the job with "Warren" then and there...

Sincere, perhaps, in her expressed wish there might yet be a way, honestly hoping there was a chance for her to still be Buffy...For the ones who hadn't betrayed her at least...

And, seeking to find a way to take her without more pain and violence, the gang had agreed to try and meet with her...Giles strongly urging against it, Will supporting him...And yet, clearly hoping something could still be done...While the others, especially poor Xander and Tara, desperate to make amends, seeking to find some way to excuse her actions and to hope that Buffy, at least something of the real Buffy, was alive in her...And that there was at last a chance to truly bring her back...

It was then, watching Will's tormented face, even as he argued for Nemesis' destruction, that Willow, and Xander, had first begun to wonder...Likewise Giles, in London, already having his own concerns about him, having come to know and love his "son-in-law" of sorts almost as well as he'd known and loved his Slayer "daughter"...But events had quickly left little time for such things...

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...The morning after the "engagement" party...The Magic Box...

"If one is to undertake the task of Watching, particularly at the Hellmouth Gate itself, William..." Giles solemnly noted... "One must be prepared to make the service of the Slayer the focus of one's existence..."

William nodded dutifully at his Chairman...Giving strict attention, not the slightest sign of sarcasm or boredom...Very suitably attired in his Randy suit, pressed with care by his loving fiancee the night previous...

Willow, new half-partner in the Box, watching as she tended to the morning traffic, did her womanful best to repress giggles...

While Giles did his best to maintain a calm, professional attitude with the thing from beyond the grave that was likely condemning his daughter-in-spirit, to a life of horror and miserable suffering...

After all, William had been, he had to admit to himself, in many ways, an excellent candidate for the post of Hellmouth Watcher...And seemed even more determined than ever to prove himself a worthy...Soul...

Soul...Yes, one must grant him that...And he has been ready to die for her...Even to take on a position in that earthly equivalent of Hell, Doublemeat Palace, to assist her...

And one couldn't help but feel a little pride...Only a worthy son of England could've held on to his Humanity so well...Even soulless Spike had shown an amazing capacity for something like human feeling...And the silly chip had been enough to bring him back far enough to feel a love for Buffy, that against all that was known of demonic existence, had proven true and sincere...Even as he'd made excellent use of his Drusilla-given skills in his efforts to assist her...Only an Englishman would've shown that kind of stout-hearted fortitude and sensibly practical behavior...

And his remorse at Spike's acts, though properly tempered by an awareness that he, himself, had been an innocent victim as well, was likewise true and deep...As his desire to assist poor Drusilla, even at the risk of his new-won existence...And Buffy's annoyance...Bore out...

Rather interesting if one considered that it had taken Angel a full century of souled existence to develop to the point of reaching out to Humanity, doing more than displaying vague and occasional sighs of remorse for his demon's acts...And taking real steps towards making amends...



But not fair to make such comparisons...Different circumstances...

No, far better to compare souled Angel's total irresponsibility in the past two years towards poor Dawn and resurrected Buffy against demon...Demon...Spike's desperate efforts to protect Dawn and help Buffy...Ending in his successful quest to regain his soul...

Under a certain light, one...Might... Be inclined to find such behavior somewhat ...Noble...Worthy of a certain degree of...

Though surely no more than his Buffy deserved...

And when one considered that she might well have wound up with the repulsive Mr. Parker...Or even...God help us...Warren Mears, had the nasty little thing had the brains to use his genius for honest profit...And shown up on her doorstep at the right moment during her post-resurrection woes...

Well, no, never that, no matter how desperately strapped she might have been...Thank God, she'd've starved to death, or spent her life at Doublemeat first...

Walthrop?...Yes, that was his name...Hmmn, must look his human records up...Had fought courageously for her both by her side and alone, hell, for her even against her if Buffy's tale of the time Spike had saved her from Warren's little murder framing scheme was true and not a hallucination...

And he still hoped to complete his rather long-delayed academic career and assist Buffy in completing hers...Still held literary aspirations...And seemed a good intellectual influence on her, considering her poetry reading of the night before...

Yes, there could be worse candidates for her hand...he thought...Eyeing William's earnest face, almost the face of a boy...A boy who after all, had earned his second chance at life...The hardest way imaginable...

Well...Best to forge ahead...And leave it all in the hands of the Powers That Be...And the Greatest Slayer of All Time...

"Your upcoming trip to Los Angeles should offer an excellent chance to take some distanced readings of the Hellmouth's reduced energy output since the First was defeated...As well as to better coordinate the new Council's activities with Angel's group... " he continued...Perhaps a tad more warmth now in the new Chairman's voice...Which Willow, still watching them as she could, caught...Why, Giles...You ole softy...she grinned to herself...

Dear ole "Father"...Well, Buf actually had called him that the previous evening...Cutting the future "son-in-law" a break...And I am there...she thought...

William and then Giles looked at her as she stood staring a moment...Oops...

"Just wanted to make sure that daylight spell hadn't shown any side effects...You were ok coming over this morning?..." she asked Will hastily... "Don't ever forget, its time is limited..."

Just fine...And thanks again, Red...he smiled at her...

"For my best friend's intended?...Anything..." she grinned...

"Yes...Well, as I was saying William..." Giles resumed...Will again all attention on his Chairman...Willow heading back to the main counter...Silently chuckling all the way...God, if anyone had told me this a year or two ago...

If it had to be anyone, thank God it would be an Englishman...Giles thought...

And...A Victorian to boot...

***

Alternate Earth...



That fateful pre-dawn morning, now three months ago, Nemesis had met most of the old gang...Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, and William...Accompanied by several Hunters detached from the Mears Corp guard force...In an LA parking lot...For Will's sake, an hour before dawn...Though he had prepped himself for the possibility of sunrise during negotiations (or battle), courtesy Willow's daylight protection spell...

They'd driven in in a couple of Council vans...No sign of Nemesis as they got out and looked cautiously around until Anya pointed, startled by her sudden appearance in front of them...She was that fast?...

"Hey, guys..." she'd beamed...Looking about...

Will...she smiled gently at William...

"Where's Dawn...?" she frowned...With a Geesh expression that made Willow grin...And tugged at her heart...

Maybe, she thought, in spite of herself...And Giles' careful warnings...Maybe our Buf is back...She gave Nemesis a reasonably warm smile...Forgetting for a moment, the carnage William and Giles had described...

William remained noncommital...Eyeing Nemesis carefully, ordering the Hunters to take up mobile defensive positions...

"Dawn stayed home..." Tara kindly told the anxious-looking Nemesis... "We thought it was best...Until we've talked..."

Buffy...she finished...With a smile...

"I understand Tara..." Nemesis smiled wanly back...Waving hands in a peaceful gesture...

Maybe I'll catch up with her later on...

"Hey Xander, An...Willow..." she took them all in...

"Wish Giles could've come...But I understand...Busy in London with the Council and all..."

Is...Warren better...? she asked pleasantly...

"Better than the others...And Jonathan..." William replied coldly...

"And it wasn't Mears in any case...Which I'd guess you knew..."

She frowned at him...Some way to greet your resurrected wife...she noted to Willow...

"You remember...?" Willow looked at her...

Nemesis nodded, a faint grin at William...

"I remember...It was when he tried to kill me, then told me he loved me...After the chip...And ran off to Africa...Gone for weeks...And when he came back...And I went to kill him, thinking he must've gone to lose the chip..."

And I couldn't...Right away I could see it...Shining in his eyes...she smiled at him...That beautiful soul...

"Most God-damned beautiful soul in the world..."

And...Then...I had the vision...Saw us together in 1880...In love...Married...

"Course..." she grinned... "It was weeks before I accepted that it wasn't a trick...A spell..."

Willow looked at William...Who still remained intently focused on Nemesis, while having the Hunters move about to keep her off balance...



"Then...Giles helped me access more visions...I saw Will driven away...By me...Or not me...And my death...As Cicely..."

And then you, Willow...And Anya...she smiled now at her...Anya unable to resist a smile back...Helped me piece Halfreck's role in it all together...

Yeah...she nodded...I remember all of it...

"We were all so happy then...For just a little while..."

William did not look at her...

"Then...Dawn came...And Glory...And Mom...Left..."

And I died...she paused...

"Glad to see Giles finally got to accepting it all...He really took to my poor Will like a father to a son...in-law, huh...?"

Yeah...Willow noted...

That's my sweet Giles...I'm glad...she turned back to William...

"But I even remember more than all that now...Cicely is here, Will...Alive in me, more than ever before...All her memories, floating up...Part of me..."

All thanks to good ole Warren...

"He isn't here...?" she eyed the group...

The new self-proclaimed God of Biomechanics slipped away from us a while ago, Buffy...Willow sighed...

"It's been his clone running the corporation...For months, we think..."

Ah...Nemesis nodded...

"Thought there was something strange about him back at the lab...I didn't remember Warren as quite so good-looking...Or brave..."

So...she smiled...Here we all are...Together again, thanks to Warren...A slight coolness creeping into her voice as she eyed the moving Hunters...

And William...she smiled at him...Though he seems to have had...Second thoughts...About the success of my resurrection...

The smile now rather harsh as she eyed the rest...

"Buffy...?" Willow began...All they all sensed this family reunion was taking a somewhat negative turn...

"Why did you guys do this to me?..." she looked at them... "How could you let Warren get his hands on me...In me...Oh, God..." she sighed...

Look at them...she pointed at the Hunters...Did I deserve that?...Was that my reward, your Gift to me for all I did for you...For all of you...?

"You guys...I died for all of you...And you let them be...Let Warren change me into them...And into...This..." she touched her cheek and shook her head...Not a drop...she told them, sadly...

Xander stared at her, then William...



"Not a tear...For Mom...Or me..."

Or you...she eyed them...

"You let him do this to me..." she told them quietly...

Xander put his hand to his head...Tara stared...Willow looked at William...Still fixedly watching Nemesis' moves...Ready to call the Hunters to make a strike, if necessary...

Anya took advantage of the opening...

"Why...?" Nemesis began...

"We just wanted you back, Buffy..." Anya tried...

"Oh...?"

So...Saving your precious hides was more important to you than what you were doing to me...she smiled faintly...

My friends...she beamed...My lil' sis...Who I would've...Heck, did...Die for...

"Well...I'm afraid to say...For the present at least...I've come round to your way of thinking..." she eyed them...

My precious hide is more important to me now than what I'll be doing to you...

"Sad isn't it...?" she smiled... "You guys are a bad influence on me...I used to be so noble and selfless..."

Guess I'll just have to find me a new set of friends...A new family...Who truly care about me...And try to be Buffy for them...

All but...she looked at William...

"Will...?" there was real pleading, even sorrow in her eyes...

"How could you let them do this to me...?...Tell me you didn't help them..."

"Buffy..." Willow began...

"I'm not talking to you, Miss Rosenberg..." she eyed her coolly...

"I'm talking to my husband..."

"I'm to blame, Buffy..." he replied...

I gave your tissue to Mears...Asked him to try and bring you back...

She stared at him...Trembling slightly...

"He tried to stop it, Buffy..." Tara interjected... "He tried to..."

"I know..." Nemesis nodded... "I did a little poking around back in the Corporation before my little upset today...Saw Warren's lab logs...He found it all very amusing...Will's pleas that he stop the work, the Council getting involved when Will tried to take stronger measures to destroy my stuff...Had quite a chuckle over it all, my dear ole 'dad' did..."

Thank you though, Tara...It was nice of you to tell me that...she smiled...

"It's too bad though...That all the rest of you kept him from stopping Warren...And bet...bett...Damn it!...That jackass Warren!...(betrayed?...William helpfully asked...Yeah, thanks...she nodded) me to Mears and the Council..." she glared...



I saw those notes too...

She looked at them...

"Even Dawn, my own sister...She called Giles and told him that Will had gone to get my stuff back from Mears..."

And even Giles let it happen...Even Giles...she sighed...

Is Dawny around, in LA?...At Angel's, maybe?...Or home, by the way?...she looked round...

"Didn't she even want to see me...?"

Willow was slipping around to the side, trying to get out of her view...

"We wanted to save you..." Tara began...

"Stop!!..." Nemesis shouted...Waving a hand in front of her... "You wanted to save yourselves!!!...And Willow, you stop right there!!...Or I will kill the others right now!!...Before you can chant a word!.. You know I can do it!!...."

I loved you all...she stared at them...And you did this to me...she looked at the Hunters...

"And now...I can't even cry for you..." she sighed...

"Buffy...If there's still anything left of you..." Xander began...

"What is it, Xander?...Are you asking me to spare you...Brother?...Or is there some new bad thingy giving the world some trouble that you want lil' ole me to save you from...Again?"

"Buffy...Please...I'm to blame..." Will pleaded...

"But you tried to stop it, Will...And in any case...I owed you...I killed you...No, worse than killed, my poor baby, back then in 1880...My stupid mistake, listening to my Watcher and Halfreck...Letting them make me think you'd be safe if I let her take my place and drive you away..."

Even if you hadn't tried to stop Mears...I'd owe you, William...My poor baby...Oh...

Our poor baby...she trembled... "Oh, Will...She was so beautiful...I wish you could have seen her, poor thing..."

"I remember every line of her face...Our Amelia...I named her Amelia...After your sister..."

He hung his head...Tara putting a hand out to his back...

A terrible coldness came over Nemesis...I owe my Will...she repeated...

And I love my...husband...

"But things have changed with me, thanks to your buddy Warren...And I don't owe the rest of you...Anything..."

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part XIII...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...



Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part XIII...

Alternate Earth...

Whether she had intended to that very morning or not, Nemesis had lived up to her name that day...

Perhaps at that first meeting she still merely had intended to feel things out, see if any of the old gang had supported Will in his efforts to stop Mears...And withhold her full wrath until later...

But...As with the gang when the Council had pushed forward Mears' Hunter project and they'd found themselves trapped by their own fears...Events quickly outstripped any plans laid by any of those present...

Tara's well-meant effort to put the best possible light on the gang's actions had simply inflamed Nemesis' anger...While her poorly concealed rage had caused the Hunters on guard to take up defense stances...

All was at a hair-trigger edge...When Willow had chosen...Poorly...To take pre-emptive action to secure the situation...

Again well-meant...She'd even hoped to restrain Nemesis without injury...And later, maybe...Under proper restraint...Reason with her and work on her problems with anger and pent-up rage...

Unfortunately she'd underestimated both her current opponent...And Dr. Warren Mears...Whose magics protections proved to be quite effective...

***

Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...the Magic Box...Later in the afternoon...

A beaming Buffy arrived after her counseling hours...Ostensibly to meet with Giles, for both the usual review of the Sunnydale and world situations and to monitor her slow recovery from her strength-draining battle with the First...Primarily, and naturally, to see her intended...Still earnestly plugging away at his Watcher training...Make plans for their LA trip...And, maybe...If time allowed, discuss their future...

But...As she hurriedly insisted...There was no rush...His Doublemeat duty not being for several hours...Their joint Doublemeat duty, she inwardly beamed, having at no little cost in miserable future shifts, and some severe glares from an annoyed Robin Wood at school, secretly managed to schedule several nights together as well as arrange time off...William and Giles should continue their work...She'd just observe a bit, maybe give Willow a helping...Willow gulping and rolling her eyes back at the main counter...Hand...

Kinda neat to see Will hard at it, all intense and dedicated in his Watcher's uniform...(The old Randy suit)...she noted...

But not meaning to make fun...Or interfere in any way...she solemnly added...Smiling at him...

Just...Doesn't he look great...So English...she noted to Willow from the research table...

"Yes...I should hope so..." Giles somewhat sternly agreed...

But as to becoming a properly trained Watcher...A degree of...Concentration...Is required...He eyed Buffy...

Hmmn...Right...she nodded...Got it...Go help Willow...No problem...she got up...Giving a pleased William a quick but devoted kiss...

"Ready for Retail..." she saluted Willow at the counter...

Gr...eat...Willow beamed...Nervously...



Ummn...Well...Lets see...She began mentally reviewing the less-potent merchandise for something the Slayer could handle...

"So...Wil...Does William strike you as a chicken kinda guy?..." Buffy asked her in a whisper...

Huh?...

"I'm trying to come up with something for our first home dinner..." she explained...Still in a whisper...A glance over to William...

Willow stared at her, blinking...

Ok, the "engagement party" should have gotten me prepped...But this...Dinner at...Home?...Has the hard edge of reality to it...

"Say..." Buffy looked at her, guiding her friend to a hidden corner... "I wanna take Will to lunch later...Do some shopping for him...You think the spell will hold if he does it just before we go?..."

Shopping?...Willow blinked...

"He needs clothes...I blew most of his old ones up, remember?..."

"Oh...yeah..." Willow nodded...Hmmn...A leetle too much reality coming down, I'd say...she thought...A frozen, brittle smile on her face...

She's really going through with this...She's gonna take him on...The whole shebang...God, I sat there all last night and the night before watching poor Xander and Giles and Dawn choke on it and it never sunk in until just now...Dinner at home, shopping...

Buffy and William...The Walthrops...Oh, God...It's real...

"Course, you're welcome to come with us..." Buffy said brightly in a way that suggested anything but...

Much against his inclination, Giles had to admit, watching Buffy...He hadn't seen her so happy and content since Joyce's death...

If you can do this for her...he eyed William, now hard at his reading, silently...Forever...Then...

O...K...

The Hellmouth Watcher candidate stared back up at his Chairman...Vaguely realizing as they looked at each other that "Father" had just given his reluctant blessing...

"Hey...!" she suddenly called over...

"Giles, did you tell Will about Council salary and benefits yet?..."

Ummn...She looked at the new Chairman's slightly frowning face...Sorry...Just have some questions about the medical insurance...

"I guess it can wait till later...Carry on..." she turned back to Willow...While thumbing through a book she found...On vampiresses and such...she noted to her friend...We'll need more background for our Dru hunt...

Ok...What are we pushin' today?...No more mummy hands, I hope?...

No...Willow shook her head...Those are a seasonal kinda thing...

God protect her...God protect them...But if she believes in him so much...He must be worthy, righteous and strong in soul, as my forebears would say...she thought...Well...



"The real movers are these glass..."

"Whoa, look at this..." Buffy halted, spying a picture of ...Dru?...

"Will!...Did ya see this book on Drusilla?!" Buffy waved her book...

"Well...Buf...That's not really a book on..." Willow began...Eyeing the book..."Vampiresses and Other Female Creatures of the Silver Screen..."

"And that's an actress from that Ed Wood movie with Johnny Depp...Juliet Landau's the name I think..."

Can't be...Buffy frowned at the picture...That's Drusilla for sure...

"Will?!...Dru ever go into acting?..."

Crash!...Buffy jumped back from where she'd bumped the display table...

Orbs...Willow finished, surveying the broken glass...

"The real movers were those glass orbs..." she sighed...

Oh...Really sorry...Buffy noted...

"My timing's a little off these days..." she explained... "The strength-draining thing..."

The door chimed...

Ah, ha...A customer ready for my pounce...She raced to the door... "Oh, hi Brenda..." she smiled at the entering SIT, clearly startled to find the Slayer "pouncing"...

"Anything wrong?..." a visibly nervous Brenda stared at the Slayer...Greatest...and Most Lethal of All Time...

Just helping Willow and Giles out with the store...Buffy explained...

While William does his Watcher training...she beamed over at him...

She's just a little excited...Lots of things happening at once...William noted quietly to his Chairman...

Yes...Giles frowned, looking over at her...She waved back sheepishly from where she was standing with Brenda...

The door chimed again as a second SIT entered, looking training-ready...

Ah..Thank God....Just in time...The Chairman beamed...Slayers-In-Training looking for a worthy opponent...Even if she's a little off her feed these days...

"Oh, Buffy...?" he called to her... "Would you have a moment to help me with these ladies?...In the training room?"...

Oh?...Yeah, sure...she beamed, turning quickly to Willow, now sweeping up the orb remains...

"Sorry, Willow...I'll be back to help in just a bit..."

Phew...Willow sighed...A grateful beam at her new partner...

Which became a mutual exchange...And prayer...

God protect our Buffy and Will...They been through an awful lot these past years...



***

Buffy had had a change of heart by lunchtime, deciding that a second opinion on clothes, etc might not be such a bad idea...Her renewed invite to Willow therefore being quite sincere...Even a bit anxious...

However it was somewhat diluted by her extension of the offer to Giles as well...After all, who better to approve Will's Watcher work clothes than his Chairman...Though Giles had to beg off...Council business to attend to...World-wide organization to rebuild during the lunch break...

Thank God the transatlantic calls are charged off to the Council, Willow noted to Buffy as she, the Slayer, and a rather startled William left...A daylight trip to the Mall, with his fiancee planning a shopping spree for his benefit being a new experience...And that Travers and co had been far more savvy in managing the Council's real-estate and other financial holdings than in building security...

Especially the finances thing, Buffy noted back quickly...Her mind still dwelling on her earlier question...Hoping to find a good, isolated moment to go over details with the future hubby...Not that she'd allow that sort of thing to intrude on the romance...Just...

Hey, after the last couple of years, she'd become rather practical regarding the financial aspects of daily life...

And she thought it likely he'd made a very good arrangement with the Council for her and Dawn's sake...It not hurting of course that Giles was a boss certain to be sympathetic to their situation...And after all, William had always displayed a bent for the practical even when submerged in mad killer Spike...

Wonder if he made any money with that demonic eggs transaction...? He hadn't seemed to be hard up for cash the past few months...

***

A somewhat less chilly expression from the newly-arrived Dawn greeted William and his fiancee as they returned to the Box...An expression which quickly moved on to mild shock as sis/sis-in-law took in the vast stock of Buffy purchases...

My God, she's gone insane...Look at all that stuff...

"Just a few things for Will..." a rather embarrassed Buffy sheepishly noted...William looking rather staggered...

"I got the receipts..." Willow hissed to the shocked Dawn... "We can take it back when she recovers her senses..."

Hmmn...Giles eyed the boxes...

"Well, give me the receipts...We'll call it...Hmmn..." he blinked... "Half your first week's salary, William..." he stared at the total...

Half?...Willow blinked...Dawn's expression changed...To something approaching contentment...While Buffy beamed proudly...My guy...

Say, how come the Council didn't come through like this for me...? she thought...Well, thank God for nepotism...she beamed again...At her dear "Father"...

Whoa...Council work pays...Willow thought...

Wonder if there are any openings for an experienced super-Wiccan...?

***

As Buffy had secretly hoped, it was the joint shift she'd arranged for that evening that pleased him most...



Though she was glad he liked the new watch...It sure cost enough...

While things stayed busy up to closing...And the new Assistant Manager required extensive training...They'd managed to get in a few moments to discuss LA...And the future...

He being a bit startled to find she was not utterly committed to living in Sunnydale...Though she reluctantly accepted that the Slayer must stay near the Hellmouth...

All-in-all, if he'd like to move...She could deal...Commuting would suit her just fine...After Dawny graduated of course...

For now, the occasional trip to merrie ole England on Watcher business would be a welcome change, beginning with his initial six weeks in June...Eight weeks, including a two-week, no duties...Honeymoon...she happily thought...

No need to wait on the wedding once Dru was settled...Hell, she was all for doing it before...But the guys would want a little while to plan...And they could bring the Angel Investigations folks back with them...

Though if Dru slipped past them...The end of May at the latest...

No way were they missing out on a mostly-free English honeymoon...

He let her go on, only occasionally stopping herself to confirm that it was all ok with him...Just taking it all in...The wonder of it all...

It was on the way home, though...As they walked back to the house together...That her one disappointment cropped up...

Kids...Nah, they'd work that out, somehow...Willow and Giles'd find a way...Hell, look at Connor...

No...It was just...

She kinda wished...

Couldn't he be a little more...?

It's only natural, she told herself as they walked...He beginning to talk a bit about his hopes for resuming his writing career...Perhaps completing college, at last...With her...She nodding...Yeah, wonderful, darling...Very nice...

She nodded as he suggested they look over admission requirements to UCal/Sunnydale tomorrow...Speak to Giles about some kind of phony credentials for him...

Aww...C'mon Walthrop, she sighed within...Incredibly sexy woman of your dreams...And nightmares here...Your own true...And hers...By her own heartfelt declaration...

How's about a little...Action...? she thought, eyeing him...Hell, what's a fiancee for...?

This is worse than being with Angel...At least he can't take the risk...

Oh, well...Gotta show a little sensitivity...Especially after our first post-resurrection year...When I used him without a thought...And he's being so responsible...Practical...The college thing and all...

A true Victorian...Geesh...

Still...

He's embarrassed about the Incident...After all, William is a Victorian and one must...Sigh...Take it slow with Victorians...

"Anything wrong, Summers...?" he stared at her...



Nah...she shook her head...

Buffy...? he frowned at her...

"Are we engaged...For real...?"

Yeah...Course...she nodded...Hell, I just spent nearly $600 on you...If that's not committed love...

"Forever love, real?..." he eyed her...

"Pal, the Slayer never does anything by half-measures..." she frowned at him...

What are you trying to ask me?...

"If this is real...And forever...Then why the hell are you keeping things from me?...What's wrong?..."

Oh...

"Nothing..."

He glared at her...Well...she shook her head...

Nothing serious, it's just...

Well...I...

"WHAT!!?" he thundered, startling her...

"For God's sakes, girl...What?..." he asked her more gently now...

I can't make it right if you don't tell me...

"Well...It's silly..." she began...He frowned darkly... "It's just that..."

You haven't made a pass at me all day...I mean a real, "lets-get-it-on"...Pass...

Even last night you were a little...Well, cautious...Even after my "I love you..."

Too...he added...A sardonic grin...

The girl did that, in this case, I note...he smiled...

"Oh...Is that why?..."

No...Buffy...he shook his head...

"It's just...I didn't want to spoil things...I wanted to be sure you were really ready..."

Ah...she noted...I thought so...

The Victorian thing, right?...she smugly smiled...I figured...

"Oh, did you...?" he eyed her...

I'll take it slow...Don't worry...she nodded at him...

"I understand..." she went on...He staring at her...Buffy...?



"Hell, girl...I was just trying to do things right...And you don't know diddly-squat about Victorians if you think we were all frigid repressives..."

Obviously Buffy Summers has not read much Victorian literature between the lines...he gently chided her...Putting a hand out...Which she took...Tentatively...

See...he noted carefully...

You are still a leetle skittish with me...I sensed it last night, too...And that's why I wanted to go slow...

"Maybe it is the Victorian in me...But it's called...Consideration...A very useful thing for a couple who want to last...And why a lot of our couples did last..."

"I couldn't bear to have you afraid of me, Buffy...Even unconsciously..." he looked deep into her eyes...

And I know what you went through...That day...

What you overcame to reach out to me again...

So...Only when you're really ready...he told her firmly...

She stared at him...And took his hand...

"My mom was right about you, William...She knew...Somehow...What a good man you were, buried in there...And capable of being again..."

"I'm not afraid of you, Will..." she shook her head...Smiling gently and kissing him...

You know...he said...After staring at her a long time...

"Amazing how sexy a greasy uniform can be..." he grinned at her, gently tracing his fingers on her blouse...She smiling back...

Not to mention...That hat...he tenderly stroked her arm...Pulling her hand to his lips...

Oh...Yeah...No problemo here...she thought as she embraced him...

***

Alternate Earth...The Mears Corporation...

"Xander...?" the Hunter addressing him paused, smiling at him...

Hmmn...He pulled out of his reverie to stare at her...Buffy smiling at him...

The same smile Nemesis had given him that day he'd seen her with the others...Just before she'd accused him and the rest of betraying her...And events had taken their tragic course...

"We've got everything loaded...Should we have the vans go?..." she asked...

Some of the Council people are very upset...she added, biting her lip...

"You and your sisters didn't let them have any materials...?" he stared at her...

No...You said not to...But they were very upset...she repeated...

"I'll take care of it...Tell the drivers they can go...Thanks, Buffy..." he smiled at her...She nodded, beaming...And headed for the main doors, he watching her...



All to save our miserable hides...she'd said...And she'd been right...Though our Buffy would never have said that...She'd've hated us for it, but never said so...The love would've overbalanced the hate...

But, with that extra little bit of Warren Mears in her...Or perhaps with what he'd taken from her...The balance for Nemesis had not worked out so favorably...

***

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part XIV...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...

Part XIV...

Alternate Earth...The Mears Corporation...

In the weeks that followed that awful dawn in the LA parking lot, Xander had, in absent moments, reflected idly on who it might have been who'd made the first aggressive move that day...He was inclined to think it had been Willow, trying desperately to gain some slight advantage of surprise via magics which might have enabled her to bring Nemesis down without serious damage...But, like all such questions after a battle, it didn't really matter...Who really cares if it was a Minuteman who let off the first round at Lexington Green, unless perhaps some overly-concerned Brit descendant of the redcoats of that battle...Someone did and the inevitable battle began, with the usual tragic consequences for both sides...

So it was that day...A furious Nemesis bridling at what she at least took for an abortive magics pass by Willow, moved on Will's circling Hunters, angrily tossing a Tara who'd moved in hoping to calm her aside...

Breaking her neck with barely a shove...Perhaps not even intending to...

She was on the first Hunter and killed her even before Willow could whirl round to see Tara limp on the ground, Anya rushing to her...

The other Hunters tried a united assault...Three to one...William desperately trying to recall them and speak to Nemesis...Two were dead, literally torn apart as he watched in horror, while the third was thrown at his feet, badly injured...

"Nemesis!!!..." he screamed at her...She halting, an enraged look none of them had ever seen on Buffy's face before...

"I...AM...BUFFY SUMMERS!!!..." she screamed back... "I AM BUFFY SUMMERS...!!!..."

"William!!..." she screamed...But to him, Xander noted...Not at him...

Pleading buried under that rage...

Willow stood, it dawning on her now that Tara was dead...She paused...A pause, that given her cause for anger, convinced Xander that she'd already tried a shot...And failed...

Will hastily carrying the Hunter at his feet back to the van as Nemesis stood watching him...

Then she turned to see Willow, eyes black...

A searing blast fired at her...Which passed over her harmlessly...

"Who do you think you're dealing with, Rosenberg...!?" she cried...And ripping a large light post out of the ground, tossed it at her...Willow blasting it away...

The wiccan tried another blast, a disruptive type...It was blocked, somehow...Something protecting her...

Will running back, Willow turning to him... "Red!..." he called to her... "Come on b..." he began...

"Go...Back!!!..." she tossed him back with a wave which flattened him...Turned back to Nemesis, who raced toward him...

"You killed her!!!..." Willow screamed at her from where she stood as Nemesis reached William...Xander coming over to them...

Nemesis looking him full in the face...Anger black as Willow's eyes...

"Get him out!..." she raged, pointing at the unconscious William...

"NO!!!!!..." Willow roared...Another blast at Nemesis failing...

"He's not going anywhere!...Leave him, Xander...!..." she cried...A wave tossing Xander back...Anya running up...

Nemesis reared up and raced at Willow, who gave up trying to blast energy uselessly at her opponent and concentrated on strengthening herself...

Just in time as Nemesis charged on her and the force of impact threw her across the lot and into one of the parked vans...The closed side door of a parked van...

She staggered up...Waving to heal her injuries...But she could feel her power draining...And it was beyond all doubt now that Nemesis had magics protection as well as strength on her side...

"Can't take it, Rosenberg?" Nemesis called, cheerily mocking...As she smashed at the hoods of the parked vans, wrecking the engines of each with a single blow...

"You won't hold out much longer at this rate...As for me...Your new super-Slayer can do this all day..."

You owe Warren a nice fat commission...she grinned at her...And praise for a job well-done...

"Why just look at me...All so new and improved...Aren't you all proud of yourselves?..." But a wrenching despair mixed in with the mocking...She looked over at Xander...Anya...Hands twisting...Almost as if she were...Pleading...

A stone-faced Willow eyed William on the ground, Nemesis following her gaze...

"You killed her..." Willow said to her quietly...Building up...

"William!..." Nemesis called, racing again for him...Xander on his feet, coming over as well...

Anya dashing over to him...No!...

Willow let loose a bolt at William...To paralyze him and anchor him there, possibly making Nemesis hesitate by him, pining her down, she told Xander later...He choosing to accept that...Despite his certainty at that moment that she had fully intended to kill the lover of her lover's murderess...

Nemesis grabbing and whirling round the first thing at hand to block Will from Willow's burst..

Anya...The blast seared her instantly as Willow watched in horror...

Even Nemesis dropped back, shaken...

Xander!...she called to him...Turning away...

A cry for forgiveness...? Fleeting sympathy...? he would forever wonder...Or vicious gloating...

He was too dazed at the instant to tell...Dragging An's charred, steaming body back...

"XANDER!!!..." Willow shrieked...Hands to her face...

William moaning, looked up to see...Buffy, nervously staring at him...

"Will?...I'm here..." she called to him, standing over him...

"Buffy and Cicely are here for you, Will...We've come back to you...At last..." she told him... "Lets go now..." she reached a hand to him...

"The others..." he groaned... "I won't..."

Please.. He stared up at her...Willow now staggering over to where Xander knelt by Anya...

"I'm...Sorry...Sorry..." she sobbed to him, eyes fading back...He absently patting her...

"Let them go..." William gasped to Nemesis as she looked at him...

Please...

All right, Will...she nodded...All right...

"We'll talk later...When you want to..."

She was gone in an instant...Vanished...

"Willow!..." Will called to her...She stared at him from where she knelt now, beside Xander...And Anya...

"You've got to get us...Out of...here...Now!..."

She stared, dazed...

"William...Is right, Wil...Get us out..." Xander turned to her...

Xander...she looked at him...

Xander...she looked at Anya, then to poor limp Tara a short distance away...

"Not now, Wil...Later..." he told her simply...

Later...

"For now, we have to get out..."

"I can't teleport far...And not with all of us..."

Can you get us to Angel Investigations...? he stared at her, avoiding the heap on the ground in front of them...

Not all of us...she was calming a bit now...

Leave them...Xander eyed the bodies...She won't bother em...Angel's people can get them later...

Willow stared at him...

Please...William called...Buffy...

They turned to him on the ground...Willow frowning coldly...

"The Hunter in my van...." he explained...

"Get her, Xander..." Willow looked at him...He complied, heading over and carrying her back...

"Will...Too..." Xander eyed her as he set the piteously moaning Hunter Buffy down gently beside Anya ...

He comes too...

Sure...she nodded...But gave William only the briefest of looks as Xander pulled him over to them..

They materialized at the offices of Angel Investigations, LA several minutes later to find a scene of tragic pandemonium...

Nemesis had had a busy night...

And while waiting for the old Sunnydale gang had seen no reason not to settle a few other scores...Including one with the old lover who'd left her to fight Glory alone...At least, unaware as he'd been that she...Original Buffy...And newly souled William had rediscovered their joint past...Alone within the limits of what he'd known of her situation...

The counterpart of the fiend who'd created Drusilla...That monster who'd worse than murdered her husband...

And the fool lame "vamp with a soul" who gotten in Original Buffy's way...Blocking poor William from her view, putting him at dangerous risk of staking by her while still lost in Spike...Bloody stupid fool, who should've known human soul Darla was the blonde for him all these years...

An injured Wesley told them what he could...Angel had tried to calm her, managing to slip Connor out to safety...On learning which...Compounded by her rage at his lack of knowledge of Drusilla's current location and movements...What happened to bringing peace to your "most regretted victim" for cryin' out loud?...She'd wasted no more time on their little reunion...

Despite support of several well-armed operatives, friendly (courtesy steady paycheck) demons no less, Angel had gone down in a few seconds...

She pausing near the end only to politely tell him she truly regretted their meeting again under these circumstances...But, despite her anger at his failing to help her...Or even to help care for poor Dawn afterwards...she forgave him...And, admit it...He'd be much happier in Heaven, with his poor Darla...

Well, maybe a few years in Purgatory awaiting them...But with his recent efforts and her actions on Connor's behalf...They were both sure to make the cut one day and spend Eternity as a happy couple...

Besides...She was sorry to tell him...She already had a mate...Long married, she was embarrassed to admit...Only a regrettable error after her reincarnation as Buffy Summers had caused her to confuse him with her own true from the past...A minor mix-up about the soul thing...Kinda like him with her and Darla...

So...Really sorry...But it wouldn't have worked out...

She was quick...Wesley sighed...Mercifully quick, one had to give her that...

And had left after demanding and receiving all the slight data available on Drusilla...And smashing all communications systems, including all cell phones in detectable reach...Before leaving to meet with her old friends...

She'd heard the faint buzzing of the electronics in the cell phones...Even the hidden ones in rooms across the building...he shook his head in wonder...Remarkable...

***

And then it had begun...A ceaseless, one-woman, guerilla campaign...Nemesis versus the combined forces of the Council of Watchers, their Hunters, Buffy's old gang and the remnants of the AI team, and those supernatural creatures who'd quickly learned that Nemesis' attitude towards old friends and family not withstanding, she was still quite willing to eliminate any demon or vamp who happened to cross her radar...

But her wrath...And incredible abilities...Were reserved for those who she felt had betrayed and abused her...

Within one week, half the world's Hunters, their Watchers, and a number of guards and various fighters thrown in...Plus to her insisted regret, according to various calls, emails, notes she'd left in her wake, a sizable number of innocent bystanders...Had been killed...

It quickly became clear to the Council that only by keeping their Hunter forces massed at the Hellmouth...Thus pining Nemesis to the area...And their London headquarters heavily protected by both the world's best magics practioners and troops of the world's governments which via the Hunters they now secretly controlled... Could they hope to hang on and in time prevail...

Unfortunately the best current source of information on her nature and her protections, along with his more detailed records and notes, the clone of Warren Mears who'd been running Mears Corp, had vamoosed in the initial panicky confusion of Nemesis' attacks...Just as his original had before him...

And Nemesis had done a fine job of destroying what little data he'd not pulled in her rampage the day of her escape...

So it was, to take the offensive against the menace, that the Council had turned to Vice-Chairman Giles and he, with some trepidation, to William Soames Walthrop, soul-restored vampire, Hellmouth Watcher, and Hunter trainer/guardian...

Husband...In at least in Nemesis' own mind...And, remarkably, beloved husband still, it seemed...Of Buffy Anne (Cicely Addams Walthrop) Summers...

Backed up by the bulk of the remaining Hunters and the old Sunnydale and AI teams...Most of the humans, particularly the most valuable like Willow, Wesley, Winifred, and Cordelia evacuated to London but in close contact...

Dawn likewise...For her own safety, of course...Nemesis having made no bones about her rage at lil' sis...Who'd prevented Will from destroying the tissue he'd given Mears...And started the whole awful chain of events by appearing...Just when Buffy'd rediscovered her Will and her past life as Cicely....And happiness had been within Original Buffy's grasp...

Yes...Her own safety...And potential value as hostage and even, as Willow had secretly... Coldly...Noted at a closed Council meeting with Giles and Travers...An energy source...If required...

The basic plan focusing on studying Nemesis and her behavior...And determining what she was seeking besides the destruction of the Hunters and the Council...

There was definitely something on her mind besides rampaging revenge...After the surviving Hunters had been called together in Sunnydale and the Council in London well secured, she'd remained far too quiet...Only surfacing briefly to make a stab at the now very heavily fortified Mears Corporation...

Which she could have penetrated, had she merely wanted to destroy it...William had pointed out in discussion with the others...

There was something there she wanted...Maybe more than one something...

And very likely...The key was a brilliant, despicable, rather nerdy, late thirtiesish scientific genius...

The "Savior of Humanity" himself, Dr. Warren Mears...Currently incommunicado and unaccounted for...Clones and original...

A large part of the past weeks' efforts by Walthrop and his team had therefore been directed at finding the good Dr. and/or his offspring...

But two members of the team had their own, quite differing agendas...Though of the two, Willow's was most in sync with the Council's...

***

Perhaps, in time, Willow's anger might have cooled a bit...She might have remembered a little of what had been done to Buffy to make her feel such hate as she obviously did...And, if given time...

But four days after Tara's death, a card had arrived at her London office in the Council building...

A simple condolence card...

Deepest Sympathy...The front of the card read...

Inside...

"I loved her...I loved you all...Why?" a hasty scrawl...

No faint attempts by Xander or William or even Giles to suggest that Nemesis might have been trying to express sincere regret could overcome her anger at what she viewed as a viciously mocking taunt...

It was Nemesis now...Or herself...Whatever she had to do...Whoever she had to hurt in the process...This was going to end...

After that, there was no going back for Willow...

***

As for the other team member with a separate agenda...He was already the target of suspicion, as he was all too well aware...Had been from the start...

Sympathetically from the view of Giles and Xander, hoping he might be spared the opportunity and temptation of adding her...With a cold eye to his potential use as a lure for Nemesis by Willow and Chairman Travers...

"Buffy: Nemeses...er Nemesis..." Part XV...



Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

Summary: Season Eight tale...Buffy faces her worst enemy, courtesy an alternate universe's Warren Mears...



Part XV...



Alternate Earth...Willie's...Rather a larger place than his counterpart's in the normal Buffyverse, the Snitch of this Earth having become a favored client of the (nearly) all-powerful Council of Watchers...In return for occasionalservices rendered...Both in his ole Snitch capacity and as a discrete host...

Two months after Nemesis' escape and battle with the old gang...Three weeks before her and Will's attempt to negotiate with dear ole Warren and reach new Earth ..

***

Despite his quite prosperous looking exterior, alternate Willie still had born traces of the ole Snitch...Especially in his nervous, ferret-like glances, which neither good times nor even an expensive course of psychotherapy had been able to completely remove from his nature...

Glances which were especially pronounced that day...As he'd interviewed a client for the newly vacant post of bar...Well, actually he preferred...

"Club"...In keeping with the ever-upscaling nature of his place...singer...

An applicant who, despite her efforts to disguise herself, he knew all too well...And would've recognized on sight even if he hadn't seen a steady stream of Buffy Hunters accompanying their Council Masters...er Watchers...to his place...Favored by them for his famed discretion...Night after night...

Moreover, he'd been aware of Nemesis' existence and her escape...A story which had haunted the underworld for the past couple months...The brief cheering at the destruction of many of the Hunters having quickly faded as Nemesis amply displayed her Slayer talents in the off-hours when she was not occupied with her sisters and the Council...

On seeing her smiling, somewhat anxious face...Really needed this job, she'd pleadingly noted to the fool of an assistant who'd let her in and urged him to see this one...Quite a looker, boss...What I get for hiring clueless humans, Willie'd sighed to himself...He'd naturally considered an ass-saving, immediate call to the Council, possibly to Giles or to ole Spike...er Walthrop, who perhaps might be inclined to a hair more kindness towards the poor kid...

But somehow, seeing her gently smiling face beaming at him...Rather innocently pleased with the "success" of her disguise...He couldn't quite bring himself to take the sane and sensible course experience had taught him to generally prefer...

To his credit, in part it was the thought of handing this Buffy Summers...More Buffy than any of the others he seen in the last two years since the Hunters had first appeared, over to the pigs of the Council to join her sisters in slavery that held him back...

But he would have been a lost man in any case, the moment she sang for him...Even if his practical nature prevented him from having any illusions about her feelings towards him...



He'd been about to send her on her way...Position filled, sorry...Allowing her a few moments' grace to make her escape before he placed his call...When she'd gently begged him to let her do just one song...

Ummn...

"Maybe You'll Be There..." she shyly noted to his little quartet of "club" musicians...This Willie having truly gone upscale with prosperity...

A direct, searching look at her would-be new employer...And again, that gentle Buffy smile...

[Suggested theme...(Maybe You'll Be There)]



Nemy at Alternate Willie's in "disguise"...

"Each time I see a crowd of people...
Just like a fool I stop and stare...
It's really not the proper thing to do
But maybe you'll be there...

I go out walking after midnight
Along the lonely thoroughfare...
It's not the time or place...To look for you
But maybe you'll be there...

You said your arms would always hold me...
You said you lips were mine alone to kiss...
Now after all those things you told me
How could it end like this....?

Someday if all my prayers are answered
I'll hear a footstep on the stair...
With anxious heart...I'll hurry to the door...
And maybe you'll be there..."

Willie blinked slowly...His beaming moron of an assistant eyeing him...The kid is good, no Boss...?

Yeah...He'd eyed her...He might just possibly be able to use her...Staring at her...

Never knew Summers could sing...

A hour later, over dinner in one of his booths...She having confessed to not eating in a rather a long while...He'd warned her of the failure of her "disguise"...Her disappointment at its failure more than mitigated by her pleasure at his willingness to assist her in concealing her whereabouts...Good old Willie, she'd inst...insin...(instinctively?...he'd asked kindly...Yeah, thanks...she'd beamed) known she could turn to him for help...she'd told him...Patting him...

Thanks to him, lamb that he was...She could stay within easy monitoring range of the Corporation...Its Council staff...And William...

Such a sweet guy...she'd beamed at him...Not meaning to lead him on by any means...But if he chose to help her escape her pursuers out of the goodness of his heart...The new Buffy Summers was perhaps a bit more open-minded as to what constituted true romantic commitment...And in her choice of casual sexual partners...

A practical bent bequeathed to her by her dear ole "Dad's" manipulations...

Though, sadly for alternate Willie in the end, causing her a considerable deal of buried conflict...And resentment as her various natures warred amongst themselves within her...



But, perhaps in the end...He'd gladly have accepted the sporadic blessings of those three weeks with her even had he known the eventual cost...Though, able reader of human hearts that the Snitch was...He likely had already guessed...

***

And it was through her dear new boss...And thanks to his remarkable perceptiveness towards the more flawed of his fellow men...That she finally got her line on Warren...Or at least the clone of him who'd fled the Council's and her own wrath...The mysterious "JL Sebastian..."

Luckily for her, compelled by motives similar to her own to stay in the Sunnydale area...

As for re-establishing contact with her own true...She'd taken the direct approach, its recklessness mitigated for her by her certainty...With every fiber of what remained of Buffy and Cicely in her...That he would come to her...Take his proper place by her side...Even if he had to betray his trust...And the only family outside of Dru and co, he'd known in a century...

To her credit...And to what would've been Warren's distaste, had he somehow learned of it...That was the principle thing that did cause her a twang or two...

Condemning poor Will's soul...His soul this time and possibly for all time...It was bad enough to have played a major role in his initial condemnation back in 1880...But that had only amounted to death and the trapping of his desperate soul on Earth, hovering about Spike, somehow sure his Cicely would return to him and put things gone so badly for them...right...

This was likely to have Eternal consequences...If his soul fell into Evil for her sake...

She herself was likely safe, she felt...It was, after all, dear ole "Dad" Mears' fault that she was behaving perhaps a tad less nobly than her original self...Any reasonably merciful God would overlook it, especially once she'd forced Warren to restore her completely...No, Buffy's and Cicely's united soul...Two careers of noble self-sacrifice for crying out loud...was in no danger...God couldn't be so cruel...

But regarding William...It bothered her...Even to the extent of making her hesitate before she'd dialed direct and suggested they meet...

But heck...It wasn't as if he'd killed Tara or An...Not to mention her "sisters"...And she'd never dream of asking him to do something he'd consider wrong...Over helping her escape the others and perhaps, looking the other way while she did what had to be done to make that escape possible...

Hell, it was only for his sake...Well, his sake and their joint chance at a happy conclusion to their tormented love story, star-crossed if there ever was one...That she'd abandoned her efforts to finish off her "sisters" and deal with the surviving members of the gang...And if they'd have the good sense to keep out of her way, she'd be willing to leave this dreadful world...Hell if Hell existed anywhere...Quietly...For the new one Warren's Gateway project had offered...That haven...A Heaven of sorts...Where a Buffy was needed, would be appreciated and loved by her alternate friends and family...Where all would be right again...

And she had to have him beside her...Whatever the consequences...As she'd told him during her second, longer call, after leaving a time in her first, hasty message...There was no point to it all if she'd lost him...The silent pause on his end...And its failure to be followed by an immediate ambush convincing her that she'd won her boy back...However uncomfortable he might have been made by the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their reunion...

Just a little "foul dust floating in the wake of his dreams..." as F. Scott Fitzgerald would have said...Dust she would do her damnedest to clear away...She'd promised him happily, sure now things between them were breaking her way...

Well, Warren's little practical joke regarding her occasional problems with certain large words didn't mean she was a illiterate Hunter imbecile...she'd explained, sensing his startled surprise at her quote...

See ya soon...darling...she'd breathed...Shutting off her phone as he'd stared at his...



It was all gonna be all right...she'd hugged herself...William was still hers...Mears had failed and thanks to her Cicely nature, defeating all his attempts to turn her from her true...Buffy had triumphed at last...

And the rest would be all right again too...Just like the before time...

Maybe even Mom would be alive on new Earth...Mourning her Buffy, not aware a Buffy was about to come back to her...Well, mustn't wish for too much...And it would be an Earth, not a Heaven...

Still, she had Will back...She was sure of it...He'd come...And she'd be able to set things right for them at last...

Though as always she had hard practical reasons for requiring his presence as well...She literally couldn't hope to hook up with Warren and use him to reach new Earth via Gateway without the assistance of the Hellmouth's Watcher and Hunter supervisor...

A fact William had been fully aware of when he went to meet her that night at Willie's...And knowing which could not prevent him from seeking her out...Any more than could his guilt and shame at the betrayal his meeting her implied...Whatever he'd vaguely told himself as well as poor Dawn, now back with him and Xander in LA at the former, heavily guarded Angel Investigations offices (at the insistence of a Vice-Chairman Giles, rightly suspicious of Travers' and Willow's plans for her use), beforehand regarding the need to lure her out before he'd left ostensibly to locate and trap her...In fact to join her...

He'd known he wouldn't be able to fight the bond between them...

It was his fate to be by her side...Whatever form she took...Whatever the consequences...Always...

And dying for her was no big deal...Been there, done that...

***

Alternate Earth...The underground lair of Original Warren near The Mears Corporation...The present, four weeks after Nemesis' escape...

Nothing more charming than when a father and daughter meet after a long parting, William sardonically noted...As Nemesis eyed Original Warren coolly, standing in his office doorway...A phalanx of Mears' remaining Katrinas and his few prototype Hunters protecting him...

Dear ole dad...In the nonclonal flesh...Oh, the joy...

"How've you been, Warren?...Nice clone you have there..." she smiled brittlely at him...And at the clone, now taking his own position within and among Warren's defense force...

"You are aware he ran your company better than you ever did?..."

"I should hope so..." Warren wearily smiled at her...Surprising both her and Will...Hard times have improved him, William thought...

"He was made to...As you were made to be the best Buffy I could create... "

After all...

"Not only are you genetically enhanced...There's a little of me in you..." He gave an icy smirk from behind his desk...As she glared...

I just had sex with...A little bit of Warren Mears?...William gagged a bit...They having insisted on a few moments alone from the Mears clone and his guards to "discuss the situation" back at the entrance to Original Mearsy's underground lair...

Ummn...To coordinate their strategy before they finally met with the one and only...

Well, they'd honestly intended to discuss the situation...But...The lady having been as anxious as the gentleman...And even in a crisis situation true love finds time...

Receiving the reports from a somewhat flustered Hunter watching them surreptitiously, Clone Warren had been as amused as his original would have been...Pity he'd had no direct video feed to pass a few images along...Give a proud "Dad" a chance to see his handiwork engaged in a more creative activity than her destructive efforts of the past months...

***



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