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



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...



[Suggested main theme..."The Look of Love..."]



Part XVI...



***



New Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...



It was a dark Dawn who greeted Buffy on her return from Doublemeat and Patrol...



One quick look on older sis' entry had confirmed it...They'd...Had...Sex...No doubt about it...



Geesh...Buffy thought, eyeing her annoyed-looking sis a tad nervously...What the hell?...We're engaged...



The four SITs on hand however were quite supportive...Though equally aware...And curious...



That glow...Unmistakable...



"How's William?..." Lorna, a tall Swedish girl, asked... "Did he perform well?..."



"At the palace of hamburgers, I mean..." she hastily added...



"Assistant Manager Walthrop showed promise..." Buffy grinned...



"Yeah...I'll bet..." Dawn narrowly eyed her sis...



"Didn't you want him to stay the night...?" she glared, more than a slight sneer...



Time enough for that...Buffy glared back...And looked a moment at the wall...The SITs quietly finding reasons to be elsewhere...



"Jesus...Dawn?...What does he hafta do?..." she murmured, finally looking at her as they stood alone... "What more can he do?..." A tear running down her cheek as Dawn stared back...



In any case...You'll have to deal... 'Cause this is happening, whether you like it or not...she gave a cold glance...



"But...Maybe you're right, sis..." she smiled sweetly at Dawn...



"I should have him move into the basement here for now...Until we leave...Get us some living together practice and start a routine regarding his "special needs" and all..."



Funny...Dawn nodded grimly...Hilarious...



"Maybe when you hit LA you two should invite Dru to your wedding instead of destroying her...She's your mother-in-law, right?..."



"We haven't said we'll be destroying her..." Buffy paused... "He wants to try and save her, maybe restore her soul too...And then see what human Dru wants..."



Lovely...Dawn looked away...What a guy...she looked at the picture of Joyce on the coffee table...



"Wouldn't Mom be proud...?"



"Yes..." Buffy nodded... "She'd be very proud to have a man like William for a son..."



She grabbed Dawn and turned her around... "Damn you!..." she hissed... "He's a man again!...Who saved your life!...And mine..."



"Don't you have any understanding of what he's been through?...The life he's lost...Dawn?...You saw...You saw him...Fighting to break through...Trying to beat Spike back the moment the chip gave him the chance..."



Dawn shrugged her off...Standing away from her, silent...Finally...



"You don't owe him this much, Buffy..." she looked down... "Not your whole life thrown away on him..."



Dawn...



"Not your whole life, Buffy...This isn't compassion...This is just crazy..."



"It's not...Compassion...You're righter there than you know..." she replied, sighing...



"He saw the dawn for the first time in a century today..." Buffy eyed her... "With me at his side...And I thought...Oh, God...To see him alive again...Like this...A man again..."



"I've saved him...I have saved him at last...That's what I thought..."



"It's not your job to take care of him..." Dawn began...



No...You're right about that...Buffy nodded...That's where I went wrong...Somehow...Once...



I can't take care of him...Protect him...By myself...



"It's our job...His and mine...To take care of each other..." she looked at her sis...



"That's why he stayed here...And why I came back...I know that now..."



And I won't let anyone...Not even you, Dawn...Keep us apart...



"Why?..." Dawn stared at her... "How can he be the one you want?...After Angel...Riley...? How can you say Spike...Is the..."



Not Spike...Buffy replied, shaking her head...William...William...Soames Walthrop is the man I love...And am going to keep with me...And marry...And why?...she paused...



"Because...Somehow...I know he is...That he's always been...And..."



Because I live to see him smile...she smiled wanly at Dawn...



***



Alternate Earth, alternate Mears' underground lair near the Mears Corporation...The present...



Nemesis and alternate William confronted the leering Dr. Warren Mears, protectively surrounded as he sat at his large desk by his devoted Katrinas, his few prototype Buffy Hunters, glancing rather apologetically at their William, and his own clone Warren, smirking in true Mears style...



"Well..." Mears eyed them... "We have a deal or no?..."



"A deal?..." Nemesis smiled at him... "You and I?...Why, Papa?..Your lil' girl is hurt...Our relationship goes so deep...According to you, at least..."



He sighed at her...A bit nervous, in the back of his eyes, Will noticed, but all-in-all rather cool and calm for dear ole Mearsy...His time on the run had improved him...Unless...



Nope, same ole Warren smell...The real thing...



"Doesn't anyone appreciate the gift of life anymore?..." Mears shook his head, leaning back...



"Not when it comes with the package deal you offered...Papa..." Nemesis replied coldly...



"Pretty nice package if you ask me..." he leered at her...



"Warren...Lets not mar this little family reunion with your losing your head...Lit... Let... (Literally?...William suggested...Thanks, she nodded...)" she gently smiled...



"I think we should get down to business...There's not much time..." William noted...



"That's my practical poet..." she beamed at him...And turned back to Warren with a sudden cold glare...Well...?



"Alright..." Warren nodded carefully... "You want access to my Gateway portal...And the new Earth I've located..."



"And you get the you in me out!...Fix whatever you did to me!..." Nemesis insisted harshly...



Oh?...He stared at her...His guards eyeing her carefully, the Katrinas and Hunters tensing for an attack...He waved them down...Just a mo, girls...And guy...He eyed his personal clone rather paternally...At least one of his more independent offspring appreciated dear ole 'Dad'...



"That's about the size of it, Warren..." Will nodded... "Now can you deliver the goods?...Or shall I step outside while you and your little girl have a heart-to-heart...?"



Nemesis beamed...



"We haven't discussed my share of the benefits in this arrangement, Walthrop..." Warren noted...



Please...Will politely waved at him...Nemesis likewise giving him an attentively sweet look...Which took a little of the calm poise out of Dr. Mears as he stared back at her...Lots more terrifying somehow...



"Well then..." he struggled a bit for a second...



"Safe passage for me as well to new Earth...A guarantee that I'll be left alone there...Alive..." he hastily added...Nemesis being of a precise bent of mind... "And unbothered by either of you..."



"After you take care of me..." Nemesis looked at him...



"If we do it there...I'll have to bring equipment..." Warren noted cautiously... "I don't believe new Earth has our level of genetic technology as yet...Or it didn't when I probed it before..."



"Is that a problem?..." William stared...



"Only if you don't mind dragging a couple of crates of stuff around...And finding a lab to work in..."



"We'll find a place...And we can handle your junk..." Nemesis looked at Will...



"Wouldn't it be better to do it here...?" he looked back...



"Mmmn...I don't think so, Will..." she shook her head... "It's not that I don't trust my 'dad' here..." she smiled at Warren... "But if I'm Buffy again...Completely...I might have trouble dealing with him...Properly...If he crosses us..."



And there's the gang...Willow especially...To think about...They'll try to stop us...Probably are on it now...At the very least, Xander's ready for us at the Corporation...



"I just don't think we could convince them...At least her anyway...That I'm back to my ole self in time...And I don't intend for us to die now...Not now...Not even if I believed we owed them for what I've done..."



William stared at her...Suffer a sea change...Into something rich and strange...The quote drifted across his mind...



God...What have I done to her...?



She shrugged... "For the moment, this Buffy needs her hard edge..."



Her "Warren" edge, Mears...And his clone, naturally...Both thought smugly...



"I can repent at leisure on new Earth when Warren straightens me out..." she grinned at him... "It'll work out, Will..." she patted him...Reassurance, but a hardness in her voice...



"Have you thought about that, Buffy...?" he stared at her... "About how you'll feel about all that's happened when...If..." he glared at Warren, watching them carefully... "Ole Mearsy can "fix" things for you...?"



"I'll be sorry..." she nodded... "Hey, I am sorry now about Tara and Anya...But..." she turned cold...



I'll deal...



"Just like they did when they let him..." she glanced at Mears... "Have me to play with..."



And didn't try to stop him...Like you did, love... she hastily added, seeing Will's stricken face...



" 'Sides...You've managed to deal...Since we've been back together..." she noted...



He looked away a moment...Oh...She nervously bit a lip...



"I didn't mean anything by that, William..."



He shook an upraised hand at her gently...



"I know..."



"You're a good man, Will...You haven't changed...You're just trying to help me...Get back..." she twisted her hands nervously...



Right, Warren?...she bizarrely turned to the only other person who could be appealed to...Her slightly pleading look quite sincere...



"Yeah...sure..." he stared at them... Geesh...All this grousing over her just doin' what comes naturally...



Some people just can't appreciate the blessings bestowed on them...



"Don't be hurt, William...I didn't mean to hurt you..." she pleaded...Putting a hand on his shoulder...



He looked her squarely in the face...Buffy smiling at him...My poor lost Buffy...he thought...



And something else...Horrible...With her there...



But who better than he to know that such a thing could be overcome...The monster driven back...Surely if he could be saved after a century with Spike...?



But...



"And...What if Warren can't help you...Make you Buffy again...Completely...?"



"His life depends on it..." she told him, not looking at Mears...



"Sorry, no threat intended...For now, girls..." she eyed the guardian clones about him...Who'd tensed again...



And boy...she smiled at the Warren clone...



Anyway...She turned back to Will...



"If he can't do it...I'll make do...It'll be another Earth... A chance to start all over with the guys and all...I'll be Buffy there, even if he can't 'fix' me...I promise, Will..."



Just so long as you promise...You'll stay with me...she looked him full in the eyes...



Warren eyed his clone...Who rolled his eyes...



"You got something to say...Pops...?" Nemesis glared at him...



"Me?...Nah...I'm a sucker for a story of true love, Buffy..." Mears smiled thinly..."But our Mr. Walthrop is right...Time's awasting...Your friends are probably on their way...What do you want to do?..."



"I want...To tear your head off, Warren..." she beamed at him...The clones now moving to defend...



"But...I want William...And my old life back...More..." she backed off...Hands upraised...



The clones settled down...The Hunters looking at her a tad reproachfully...



Will?...she turned to him...



"Will you come?...I'll do my best, I swear..."



"I have to come, Buffy..." he shook his head... "There's no place else for me but with you..."



She nodded slowly...Then turned to the waiting Mears...



"We have a deal, Warren..."



"In that case...Practicalities..." he smiled at the lovebirds...A proud papa giving his blessing...



"Your department, Walthrop...How do we get into my lab?..." he rubbed his chin, staring at William... "And keep your Hunters and friends off our backs...?"



Not to mention...The whole place has been wired to blow to kingdom come...A simple microwave transmission could set it all off...



"Giles' idea, I'd bet..." Nemesis smiled wanly...



Rel...Real...(Relatively?...Warren asked politely...Yeah...she narrowly glared) painless...At least compared to what Willow would do to me...



"But Will and I expected that...And we have some ideas..." she looked at Warren...



Leave it to us...Pops...she smiled...



"We just need a little few details about the main lab's layout...And there's one thing we need to borrow from you..."



***



Alternate Earth, the Mears Corporation, main foyer security area...



Xander waited by the master security desk, watching several of the bank of cameras and internal building sensors...With two of the five Hunters remaining in the complex back from their patrol of the building, standing next to him...All but them...And a handful of Council/Corporation security personnel pulled out...



"Xander?..." one Hunter politely asked, waiting...He turned to her...



"The temperature sensors in level five, corridor A just triggered..."



He looked...A flash of red lights...Then black...One camera showed a blurry flash then dead...Along with several others in the corridor...



Nemesis...



"Xander...?!...William?..." the Hunter pointed to another camera...From far up corridor C of level five...Just turned to try and catch a glimpse where A corridor merged...



A distant, faint view of...Will?...At the far opposite end...He turned away and disappeared from the camera, hurrying...



Following her, Xander sighed...



Sensors and cameras went dead over a large section of level 4...She must've smashed the emergency power line as well as the main...On Warren's advice, most likely...



They were now both in the building...Probably Mears as well...



It was time...



"Buffy...Call your sisters and tell them we're evacuating...Now..." Xander turned to the first Hunter...



"I don't think so, Xan..." William called from the hall...Between the security desk and the front exit...Nemesis beside him with two human Council guards in her grip...



Xander whirled round...The Hunters at his side in defense mode...



Came by the air ducts...After she patched in a phony feed to the cameras and sensors...Will explained...Courtesy of ole Warren's schematic files...And my knowledge of the place...



"Hey, Xander..." Nemesis smiled to him...



***



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



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 XVII...



Alternate Earth...The Mears Corporation...Main foyer security area...



Xander and his Hunters and several human security personnel faced the newly arrived Nemesis and William...She holding two human prisoners...



"Will?..." he eyed Walthrop... "You're helping her now?...After all she's done...?"



"What I have done...?" she stared at him...But stopped as William interrupted...



"You knew what I was about when I left you and Dawn, Xan...Don't lets play games...You know I'm sorry to let you lot down but she's all I have left of Buffy...And there it is..."



Lets keep this sociable, my friend...he continued...



"You and your ladies and the rest head out...Now...And we'll be on our way...There'll be no more trouble..."



Minus your remote for the bombs round here, of course...he noted...Nemesis nodding with a smile...Yeah...



"Please...Xander..." he finished...A honest plea in his eyes... "We don't want to hurt you or anyone else..."



Well...he eyed Nemesis... "I don't want to hurt you...And she's promised me, if it can be avoided..."



"I don't want to hurt you, Xander..." she chimed in...



"Pledge of good faith, Xan..." William motioned to Nemesis who released one of her humans...Who ran for the front door behind them...



Xander was quiet...Thoughtfully watching...One hand to his face...



"Will..." he sighed... "What do you expect me to do...?...You know I can't just let you two go..."



As he managed to lower his other arm and reach his hand down to his emergency beeper, signaling the other Hunters on patrol in the building...And triggering an alert to the Council offices in London...



He rubbed his chin and looked at them...Nemesis smiling gently, never more Buffy...Holding the remaining guard firmly...



"You must know I can blow this place before even you two could reach me..." he noted to Will...Who nodded...



"The reason you're not already being escorted out the door by her...In one piece..." William replied...



"Is it so much to ask, Harris?...Just give us a chance...We'll be gone..."



"And she'll be off to tear somebody else's world apart?..." he eyed Nemesis who frowned a little...



Xander?...her irritated glare said...



"She's promised to try and control herself...In the new place...Mears has agreed to try and help..." Will told him...She nodding slightly...Yeah...



"And you believe her...And Warren Mears...?" Xander stared...Playing for time...



"I believe she wants to try...And I want to give her the chance...She has a soul, Xander...Buffy's soul is there...Fighting..."



"I can't take that chance, Will...Not after what's happened here...And we've been over this before as to helping her...Willow and Giles were sure no changes could be made..."



"Mears has been able to make alterations in his own..." Will began...



Two Hunters emerged from a rear stairwell, a third from down the hall...



"Hold it, ladies!..." William called to them...They halted...Eyeing Xander for orders...



"Xander, call them off...They can't fight her in any case...And they're pre-trained to follow my orders...You can't have gotten all that out of them so quickly...It won't be pretty if you try to use them..."



"Wait...All of you..." Xander told them...



William pulled a cell phone...Punching it...



"Warren?...How goes it...?"



He listened and hung up...Turning to Nemesis who waited expectantly...



"We'd best go down...He's in and ready to start setting things up...Wouldn't want him to leave without us..."



She nodded...



"Will...?" Xander called to him... "I will blow the place if you go back down..."



"Not from here, Xan..." Will smiled at him...



"Ole Warren's found your frequency, thanks to that signal to England you just put out...He's jamming your transmitter...You want to blow the place, you'll have to set the individual timers...Which oughta take you about an hour on the upper levels...If you're wise enough to avoid the ones where we are..."



"Lets go, pet..." he smiled at Nemesis who nodded...



"Bye, Xander..." she waved... "Give my best to Willow, Dawn, and Giles..."



They moved to the side of the hall, a stairwell down...She dragging her remaining prisoner...



"Don't do this, Will...For Dawn's sake..." Xander called to him...



"I can't help it, Xan...Tell the Nibs..." he began...Pushing the door open and holding it for Nemesis who passed him...Still dragging the guard... "Tell her someday...Maybe she'll understand..."



"She does..." Xander eyed him...



Will paused, a grateful look back...Thanks, his faint smile said...



"Send this hell-hole to kingdom come, Harris..." William called back to him... "Even if we don't make it...Don't let anyone try to do this to her again..." he hurried through the door...



Xander stared at his transmitter...Probably true but...He pressed the emergency transmit test...Nothing...



"Try reaching Vice-Chairman Giles...Tell him what's up and patch him though to me asap..." he turned to another human guard...



"Come on ladies, we have some work to do..." he turned to the Hunters...Who gathered round him...



***









"Oh...Warren...It's wonderful..." A Katrina beamed at alternate Earth's "savior" in response to his rather loaded... "Isn't it something...Girls...?" as he fired up the first test of the Gateway main ring...In appearance a series of large flat metallic hoops stacked in sequence parallel to the ground...Around which a rather eerie internal lightening display was now playing...



Of course it was unfortunate that one had to fall through the main ring to the destination point...Particularly when a slight deviation in coordinates could put one say, 10,000 feet above the surface of the destination world...But gravity was an essential component in the interdimensional portal...



Hmmn...He frowned at the group of duly awed Katrinas and two Hunter prototypes...Only his dear clone offspring displaying an ability to independently appreciate his handiwork...



Nice...Clone Warren sniffed...You've improved the harmonic oscillation of the individual EM fields...But you're a long way from the finish, ole pal...



"At this rate you better hope our partners come through...Or we'll all be making an exit shortly...In one big massed ball..." he noted...



Our Nemy will deal...Warren eyed his counterpart...Have a lil' faith...



"And how's about getting off your ass and helping me here...For the sake of our Mearsian line..."



"Lucky for you, you're the Original, schmuck..." clone Warren sneered at him, the Katrinas duly horrified...But set to work...



The Mears line must be preserved, after all...



And it was always possible dear ole 'Dad' wouldn't survive to make it to the great leave-taking...Forcing dear ole descendant Warren-4 to shoulder the responsibility of carrying the Mears name and genes on...



***



"Xander?..." The face of Vice-Chairman Giles on secure portable videophone...



"Hi, Giles..." he sighed... "Things aren't going so well here...We did get Warren's stuff out and most of the Hunters are taking it to LA for destruction..."



But...he frowned...



"Will and Nemesis..." Giles finished...



"Yeah...They're here...With Warren...And they've blocked my signal...I can't detonate remotely..."



"Do you need help?...Should I call Willow in and have her do a teleport?..."



No...Xander shook his head at the screen...Not Willow...Not yet, anyway...



"She'd kill herself as well as them in her present state, Giles...No...We're resetting the charge timers manually...When half the level 2 timers are running, that should be enough to set off the rest...Then the whole place will go..."



"That'll take an hour at least...To reach all of them..." Giles noted..."They'll be off-world by then..."



Xander paused...



"Xander...They mustn't leave our world...Nemesis can't be allowed to wreak havoc on another Earth in Buffy's form, using her name...We can't take that chance, for Buffy's sake at least..."



Yeah...I know...he replied...



"There's one other option...We'll have to get down to level 4 and set the timers or disrupt Warren's jammer..."



"I always wanted to try a teleport spell, Giles..." he smiled at the viewscreen... "Even if you and Willow never had much faith in my magics ability..."



"Xander..." Giles stared at him... "I'll come...I'll do it..."



No...Xander shook his head...Not all the way from England to a lab four levels underground...



"I love ya like a dad, Rupert...But you don't have that much power and even if ya could get access to it in time..." he paused, grinning... "You couldn't hit a dart board from ten feet away..."



"You'd wind up half-embedded in the basement floor...And I won't let Willow destroy herself...Not unless we fail and there's no other way..."



He paused...Giles hastily grabbed the chance...



"Dawn needs you, Xander...You're all she has left, really..."



"I'll try to get out, Giles...Maybe even get Will somehow...But if I don't make it...Willow will get over things in time...You'll be there...Dawny will be fine..."



I can't let this go on, Giles...I failed Buffy once...he sighed...



"I have to try this time...For her sake...And An's..."



"All right..." Giles nodded... "But I will come as soon as I can..."



"Thanks...Rupert..." Xander smiled... "Better let me get a recorder...You know me and spells..." he grinned...



***



New Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...Xander Harris' apartment...



Xander sat, clutching a mug of the vile stuff he chose to call coffee, at his kitchen table...William having finished preparing his own favorite tea, came over and took a chair...



"I guess...It would be fair to say..." William paused, eyeing his roomie... "You have a few issues with what's been going on with Summers and me..."



Issues?...Xander blinked at him...You thing from Hell...You mass murderer...



You lucky bastard...he sighed inwardly...



You one bright spot in my poor Buffy's miserable life these past two years...Damn...



God...I had to have been there that time she was invisible...Seen her so happy with you, she didn't even try to conceal it...



Beyond the being invisible and all...



Even if I did block the whole thing out then...And for weeks afterward...



Much as I wanna stake you here and now...Soul or no...I've seen you make her happy...Damn...



"Nah..." he looked up at the Slayer's intended...



"If Buffy's happy that's all I care about..."



Of course...The second she's no longer happy...



"I dust..." Will finished, grinning...



"Absolutely..." Xander nodded...



He put down his cup...Looking at a picture of Anya on the refrigerator...



"I know what you've been though, William...I'm trying to understand...I want to...But you hafta understand...It ain't easy...Even with all you've done for her and us...Soul or no soul..."



"I'm sitting with the blood of more than 40,000 people on my hands, Harris...I can see where there might be some reservations on your part..."



You being the good brother and all...he smiled...



"On the other hand...You're a good choice from a practical pov...You can fight with her...You know as much or more than Giles at least about some of the supernatural mumbo-jumbo...You'll be in good health and able to protect her when she's ill or getting up there..." Xander eyed him carefully...



"And she hasn't been this happy since Joyce died...For that alone, I've held my stake...Even when I thought you might be acting for the First..."



"Glad to know you've grown a brain, Harris...Try and keep it up..." Will grinned...



"She needs you...Always will...Whatever I come to mean to her...She'll always need her brother..." he gave him a wry smile...



"So will I, at that..."



Xander blinked a bit...



"In fact...Xander..." Will began carefully...



"Oh...No..." Xander waved a hand...



"What?..." William looked at him...



"I'm not donating any sperm...Not even for Buffy..." he showed a set and resolute face as he sat...



Sperm?...



"Hell, lad...I wanted to ask you to be my bloody Best Man...Where the hell did you get that damned fool idea in your head...?"



Freudian slip, big-time, eh...Big Brother...? he grinned at the crimsoning Xander...



"Course, Xan...Whereas Buf and I aren't legal yet...I could speak to her...I'm an open-minded sort...And I'm sure she'd be happy to help you get over this little problem...Release all that tension, so to speak..."



Jesus!...Xander jumped...Spike!...What the hell!?...



"You're marrying her!...For Christ...." he paused, staring...As Will grinned...



"Kinda settling in there, at last...Isn't it...?"



Now as to the bachelor party...Ole pal...



The Brooding One's a definite must invite...he grinned...



Angel...? Hmmn...Now there's an interesting picture...



"Absolutely...Wouldn't have it any other way..." Xander grinned back...



***





Alternate Earth...Underground lab level of the Mears Corporation...



William and Nemesis paused after opening the stairwell door to the level four lab complex...Now minus the other guard, safely released...Not far from where Warren and his clone, surrounded by a group of Katrinas and prototype Hunters, were hard at work...



"We'd best cover the corridor separately..." Will noted... "I'll look in on ole War and co...You cover the other half...Then lets try the third level..."



You're ready for Xander?...You can handle it?...he eyed her...She nodded...Yeah...No problem...She hesitated...



"Ok...William...?" Nemesis looked at him...



"It will be ok, right?..." she paused...



Yeah...he nodded...Taking and squeezing her hand...



"It will turn out right in the end, Buffy...That I can swear...At least in Eternity, it will all turn out right...Love..."



She nodded and hurried down the hall...



***



Well...? Xander struggled to his feet...The four Hunters likewise a bit dazed...



In one piece, on level three...Not too shabby for one's first teleport spell, he thought...



"You ok, ladies...?...Check your gear?...Ready to use it?..."



Yeah, Xander...In chorus, beaming...All four as well as himself well-armed, including reasonably powerful hand grenades...



"All right, then..."



They made their way cautiously to the main stairwell...And began descending...The Hunters watching every conceivable attack point...And him...



A door opened at the level four exit...William...He looked up to them...Shook his head and closed the door, locking it...



"Buffy?...The door, please open it..." Xander eyed the Hunter nearest the door...Who hurried down and smashed at it...It popped open and they raced through...



"Stop!..." Will called to them...Four Katrinas at his side...Armed...



From the lab ahead, Xander could see flashes of playing light...Warren and his Gateway, no doubt...



And a stand-alone console just outside that lab...With readouts, well lit...The remote transit control...Just as Giles had described it to him...



The clone Mears and three more Katrinas emerged from the lab...Taking in the situation quickly, he moved to the protection of the Katrinas...









"Walthrop!...The console!..." he shouted, pointing...



"Buffy..." Xander turned to the nearest Hunter, pointing at the control console... "Destroy that..."



The Hunter dutifully pulled a grenade...And threw...A Katrina smashed it back down the lab corridor...It exploded, shaking the corridor...Knocking most of the clones and Xander to the ground...William gripping to the wall next to him...



A loud shout from within the lab...Damn!...Walthrop!?...What the hell!!!?...Warren's voice, Xander recognized as he was helped up...The Hunters keeping him their top priority, ignored the console for a moment...



"Go back, Harris!..." William shouted to him... "For the last time...And before she catches you..." More Katrinas and a Hunter emerged from the lab doorway...



Xander's Hunters moved to defend him...But eyed William with some confusion...



"Ladies...Take Mr. Harris to surface...He's in danger..." Will told them sternly...



They eyed Xander...



"That console..." he tried again, pointing...



The Katrinas round William and now the console as well, pulled sub-machine guns... "Wait..." he called to them...



"Harris...?"



"We hafta go to surface, Xander..." one of his Hunters noted...



William says to...



"William is in violation of Council directives, Buffy..." Xander told her...



A trigger-happy Katrina fired...



"Damn you!!..." Will screamed... "Stop that...!!"



One of Xander's Hunters staggered and collapsed...



"Go back!!!...Now!!..." Will yelled to Xander...



"Xander!?..." one of the Hunters stared at him...The others still looking at their dying sister...



"Back...Go back..." he waved to them...And closed the door...



Will waved the others to hold their positions and rushed over to the fallen Hunter...Still shaking in her death throes...



"Buffy..." he knelt beside her...



"I'm here, dear heart..." he took the Hunter's hand as she whimpered in pain...William...? she whispered...



"It's all right, Buffy...William is here...Always..." he stroked her hair as she died...Breathing his name...



***



"What should we do, Xander...?" one of the Hunters stared at him in the stairwell where he'd paused to write down the numbers he'd seen on the console...The new Earth coordinates, very likely...



"Back to level three...Hurry..." he told the two...



They hastened up the stairs and emerged...He stopped and tore off the strip of paper he'd written the coordinates down on...



"One of you has to get this..." he began...



"Xander!?..." one of the Hunters pointed...



"Hi, Big Brother..." Nemesis grinned at him...Moving carefully down from an office door...



Nemesis...He nodded...



"Buffy..." she frowned at him... "Don't ever call me anything but..."



And here I was...Glad to see ya again...



He stared at her...Grenade in hand...



"But...You're still upset about Anya, I suppose..." she sighed...



I didn't want to hurt her, you know...



"Can't you guys see how I feel about all this?..."



Yeah...he nodded...And threw the grenade...



She dodged nimbly and swatted it back at him...Before it could detonate...



But the Hunters now raced to his aid...One throwing him down and covering him...One taking a defensive position in front of him...The other grabbing and slam-dunking the grenade back at Nemesis...



She stared and reared back...But just this once, not quite fast enough...



The detonation caught her full in the face, blowing her body back across the lab...Instantly killing the other Hunter who'd caught and thrown the bomb as well...



***



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



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 XVIII...



Nemesis lay still...The remaining Hunters standing by her, lifting her arms and turning her over...Both having insisted Xander stay back and call for more assistance...



No good, he noted, after trying his phone...Jammed...



"I've got to stay til this is done, Buffy..." he noted... "But one of you should go...Tell the others to leave as soon as their timers are set..."



"Xander...?" they eyed him...



"I'll leave as soon as I can...Thanks..."



"Buffy H-34 is smarter..." Buffy H-14 noted... "She should go..."



"Right..." he nodded...



"I'll be back...ASAP..." Buffy H-34 agreed... "Take care of Xander, Buffy..." she headed for the stairs...



He came towards the heap by Buffy H-14...



"I think she's dead, Xander..." she called to him...He turned to the third Hunter, sprawled on the floor...No chance, he saw immediately...



Poor Buffy...the surviving Hunter sighed, turning Nemesis over...Oh...She backed away as she saw the blasted face...She turned and vomited suddenly...



He moved carefully over to them...



"I'm sorry Buffy...Are you alright?..." he turned to the Hunter who nodded wanly...



Sorry...she shook her head...



She's all gone...the Hunter stared at him...Oh...She looked back at her Hunter "sister"...Gone as well...



"It's all right, Buffy..." he patted her...



"Do you need to go to the bathroom?..." he asked her gently... "Or call one of your sisters...?"



No...I'm ok...she shook her head...I wanna stay and watch out for you, Xander...



A buzz from his phone...Interference must be lifting, he noted...Buffy H-14 nodding in agreement, though cluelessly...



Ok...he smiled at her...And pulled out his cell phone...



"Xander?..." a Hunter's voice... "This is Buffy H-17 at the main desk..."



"Are you alright?..."



Yeah...he told her...



"But how did you reach me?..."



"Giles is on the other line...He can tell you..." the Hunter paused, Giles came on...



"Xander...? We've found a frequency Mears isn't blocking yet...Are you in range of her...And the others...?"



Yeah, Giles...he sighed...Looking sadly at Nemesis' shattered body for a second...



"I'm... "In range..."..."



We got her...he explained...A grenade in the face...How're they doing with the charges...?



A pause on the phone...



"Giles...?"



"Twenty minutes, Dobson claims..." the Vice-Chairman's voice was steady...



"She didn't suffer...Giles..."



"I only wish that were true, Xander..." a quiet reply...



"All right...We can finish up here...I can set the remaining charges with my transmitter after I set the new frequency...Tell the others to get moving...Don't wait for us..."



"Set them for fifteen minutes, no less...And you get moving too, Mr. Harris..." Giles ordered...



"In a mo..."



"Will won't come, Xander...He'll stay with her...Dead or alive..."



"Gotta give it one try, Rupert..." he switched back to an anxious Buffy H17...



"Buffy...Tell your sister Buffy H-34 when she reaches you not to come back down, just go with you...Then both of you leave..."



"But...?" Buffy H-17 asked...Rather anxiously...



"I'll be along in a moment..." he replied... "I'm alright...And Buffy H-14 is with me..."



Just one last thing to do...For all of you, Buffy...he thought...Staring at the Hunter...



"Come on, Buffy..." he patted her as she looked again at Nemesis...



Poor Buffy...she sighed, turning to him...



"Was she very bad?..."



No...he shook his head...



"Just lost...And confused...We were the ones who were bad..."



She stared at him...



"I don't understand, Xander...I'm sorry..."



I know...he nodded...



"And I'm sorry for that...My Buffy..."



He pulled out his microwave transmitter...Time to put an end to this...Or at least start to...He set Giles' frequency and began entering the timer codes...Moving along the hall back towards the stairwell with Buffy H-14 in tow...



"Isn't William coming with us...?" the Hunter asked suddenly as they reached the entrance to part of the upper lab complex...



"I'll try to call him as soon as I finish this..." he replied kindly...



"I hope he'll come..."



All the level's charge timers were now open on his transmitter...Just a matter of entering the time desired and starting countdown...He paused...And reached for his cell phone...



"Press redial on this number, Buffy...Please...?" he handed it to her...



Give it to me if Will answers...She pressed redial as he continued entering timer settings...



"William...? This is Buffy...Xander wants to talk to you..."



Here...She offered the phone...



And grabbed the transmitter from his other hand in a rush...He stared at her...



Nemesis...he realized...



That other, no doubt one of Mears' better prototypes...



He was down before he could reach for his stun gun...Which Nemesis threw across the room as she tossed him back against the near hallway wall...She hastily rekeyed the timer instructions she'd watched him enter...



Big words might be an occasional problem, courtesy Warren's charming sense of humor...But there was nothing wrong with her ability to memorize at a glance...



"William?...Xander's charges are set to go in thirty minutes starting...Now...Be ready for me..." she hung up and turned to face him...



He lay on the floor, struggling oddly...As if he couldn't quite get his legs to work, she noted to herself...A brief wave of remorse swept over her...My poor Xander...Just doin' his duty, as always...



Like when he agreed to...Her features hardening...



Up...she moved on him... "Get up..."



He raised himself on his arms to look at her...But the pain of the effort overwhelmed him and his head fell back as he groaned...



"Xander?..." she gasped... "Are you alright?..."



It wasn't so much the pain that made the tears run a bit...As the genuineness of the concern in her voice as he stared up at her...



"I can't move..." he sighed...



"My back must be broken..."



"I'll help you..." she gently cradled and lifted him, as he made the briefest of efforts to resist, then fainted...



She carried him as carefully as she could down to an open room...And brought him in...Still unconscious...



Moving back away...She looked him over silently...Then looked at a scrap of paper in her hands...From his pocket...Taken out by her along with everything else he'd had there...



The new Earth coordinate settings...she realized...Sighing...



***



She dragged him over to the wall, resting him carefully against it, propping his useless legs to support him in a sitting position...Moving back swiftly, she took a quick look out the door as he opened his eyes and tried to fumble through his pockets for anything...Cell phone, dart gun, microwave transmitter, pistol...Stake...All removed by her as she'd carried him over...She came back in and shook her head at him...



Xander...she sighed...



"You won't find anything and you'll hurt yourself trying to move around like that...Lie still..."



"They'll find you pretty quickly after we leave..." she smiled... "And they can do wonderful things with neurogenetic repair these days..."



I oughta know...she grinned...



"You didn't use to be a liar, Buffy..." he sighed at her...As she came over close to him and knelt beside him...



Really...? Nemesis stared at him...Her eyes looking into his, but hooded somehow...Her expression unfathomable...Then, she smiled, an old, warm Buffy smile...The kind that used to make it all worthwhile for him...



"Actually, Xander...Just between us, Big Brother...I did do my share of lying in my day, back in the before time...But it's neat that you think of me that way...A girl likes to be put on a pedestal every now and then...And you always did..." she patted him...



"I do want you to know...I would've let you go...If you hadn't seen the coordinates for the new Earth...But I can't let you tell Giles or Willow, you know that...And I know you'd feel you had to tell them..." she gave a stare somehow harsh and gentle at the same time...



I know that, he nodded...Looking her full in the face...



"And I think...You'd be happier with Anya...Right?"



"If she'd still have me...Yes..."



Nemesis beamed...Xander...She took his hand in hers...



"She's waiting for you in Heaven...I'm sure of it...'Less she decided she'd better come back to keep an eye on you, like I did for Will...But it's too soon for that I think..."



"I'm sorry Xander..." she paused..."But I'll be good to your counterpart and his Anya on new Earth...I'll fight off what Warren did to me...And I'll be their Buffy again, keeping them safe...I promise you...On my mom's soul..."



"I hope..." he paused, staring at her... "I hope you find what you're looking for, Buffy...God knows we gave you little enough...And the blame is ours..."



She patted him again...Gotta get moving...she smiled at him...



I forgive you, Xander...she told him quietly...Giving him a brief kiss, she killed him with a quick snap of his neck and his body slipped back onto the floor...



She pulled his head into her lap, stroking his hair...



"Tell Anya...I'm sorry...And I do love you...Always...Brother..." she gave him a last kiss on the lips, laid his head gently back down, and rising, left quickly through the hallway door...



Stopping for one last moment...She turned back to him...



"I promise..." she breathed to him...Turned and hurried back down the corridor...



***



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



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 XIX...



***



New Sunnydale, normal Buffyverse...The Magic Box next day...



"somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond



any experience,your eyes have their silence:



in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,



or which i cannot touch because they are too near



your slightest look easily will unclose me



though i have closed myself as fingers,



you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens



(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose



or if your wish be to close me,i and



my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,



as when the heart of this flower imagines



the snow carefully everywhere descending;



nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals



the power of your intense fragility: whose texture



compels me with the color of its countries,



rendering death and forever with each breathing



(i do not know what it is about you that closes



and opens; only something in me understands



the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)



nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands" [ee cummings]









Buffy gave a sheepish look as William grinned at her...Glasses perched on the edge of his nose as he stood by the counter of the Magic Box, decked out in the new suit she'd bought him during her shopping spree the other day...



He closed the book... "Not as good as yours the other night..." he began...



"But I couldn't begin to come close to it myself..."



"Knock it off, honey..." she frowned... "So...You knew ee cummings...?" she eyed him...



Yeah...he nodded...



"Spike had lots of time on his hands days in his crypts...And we occasionally managed to calm the ole murder lust enough to get in a little quiet reading..."



"And you knew I didn't write that poem...?" she sighed...



Yeah...But...



"I know it's the poem you would've written if you could've..." he beamed at her... "Your guilty secret's safe with me...Though I'm afraid Red and Giles knew..."



She looked away...



"I never looked up poems for any other guy..." she offered...



"Will you read the other one?...In front of Angel when we visit them while we're in LA?..." he grinned...



Absolutely...she grinned back...



"Then I am content...Dearest..." he beamed...



"Though it'll probably be lost on him..." she noted... "For an Irishman, he's not really the poetic type..."



***



Kennedy entered the shop...Willow on arm...



"How'd the buying expedition go...?" Buffy called...



They looked at each other...Oh, yeah...There was a practical reason we were out together for four hours...



"Eh..." Willow shrugged... "Those guys just had kids' trinkets...A coupla of idols conferring a little temporary shape-shifting ability, a love potion that makes you smell like garbage for days when it wears off...I coulda had Jonathan check them out..."



But...She eyed her companion...Wouldn't've been as much fun for him...Goin' and comin'...she grinned...



"Ummn...I mean..." she eyed Buffy and William as they smiled at her... "We're together...A couple...You understand, right?..."



Kennedy looked a bit... C'mon Rosenberg



"Yeah..." Buffy nodded... "We've been getting that...But...Congrats..." she smiled at Kennedy...



Ya couldn't get a nicer girl...



Absolutely...William chimed in...



Giles looked out from his office...Ah, Willow...



"All right, Buffy...William...If you and Willow would step in a moment..." he waved to them...



Hmmn?...Willow looked at them...



"Just some business to settle, Wil..." Buffy explained... "If you're ok with it...As Giles' new partner and all..."



Oh...?



"Kennedy...?" Buffy turned to her...



"You mind watching the counter ten minutes or so...?...We won't be long..."



Ummn...?...Kennedy eyed Willow who shrugged...



"No...No problem..." she went over...Willow following...Be right there...she waved to Buffy as the Slayer and her intended went into Giles' office...



Willow...Kennedy was hissing...How the hell does this register work?...I never had a job in my life...



"My sheltered lamby..." Willow teased, clucking as she gave a quick lesson...And reminded her girl to serve customers, not order them around...



"What's up in there...?...Some new Drusilla battle plan?...Or somebody new in town?..." Kennedy looked at Giles' door...



"I dunno know...God, I hope it's just Dru...I was counting on a break with Firsty gone...We sure earned it..."



She headed over...And entered...



Giles at his desk...Looking rather...Chairmanlike?...Ummn...No...Actually rather...



Businesslike...



"Willow...? Any objections to the future Walthrops signing on as permanent employees...?...Will needs to be here as Buffy's Watcher in any case..."



I'd only be part-time of course myself...Buffy noted...



"I'm hoping to keep on with the counseling and all...Even if they don't need me to kill anything at the school for a while..."



Well...Willow grinned a bit...



"Mr. Walthrop's supernatural credentials and former college training I've heard about... Just what are your qualifications for retail work...Ms. Summers...?" she folded her arms...



"I can lift very heavy things..." Buffy noted solemnly...Even in my current slightly off state...



"And Mr. Walthrop will vouch for me as a good lil' worker in my day with him yesterday..."



He nodded...An excellent candidate...Ms. Rosenberg...



"You're biased..." Willow waved a hand at her new head clerk...



Gonna make me work for this, eh...Buffy grinned...Ok...



"As for work experience...I do counseling at Sunnydale High...And I've worked with customers at Doublemeat Palace...Can bang out a bill on their registers like nobody's business...60% correct, most of the time..."



I did work an afternoon here before...But maybe that's best forgotten...she looked away...



"We'll overlook that episode...Extenuating circumstances..." Giles noted...



"And I'm good at ridding places of unwanted pests..."









No fighting in the shop...Willow and Giles both hastily replied...Quite serious on that one...



"Very well..." Willow grinned... "Mr. Giles, if you are in agreement...And since I don't dare leave Kennedy alone out there a minute longer..."



Hold it...Buffy shook her head...



"Lets talk salary...Benefits...Time off..."



You can go help Kennedy, honey...I'll handle this end for both of us...she turned to William...



"Things could get ugly...You'd probably prefer not to see..." she smiled...Giving a brief kiss...



Absolutely...he nodded...To his poor Bosses, slaughtered lambs that they were, he noted...And left...



Buffy gave them a careful, Slayer stare...All kidding aside...And much as I luv ya, guys...



Business is Business...And she'd learned to appreciate the hard practicalities...Not that she'd go too rough...Just...Hey, quality staff here...Even if the Council will be giving Will a hefty paycheck... College to pay for...House repairs...Maybe infertility clinic later on...That in vitro fertilization costs, I hear...



Willow and Giles looked at each other...Hmmn...She kinda looks like she's...In Slayer mode...



"Well...?" Buffy eyed them...Coolly...



***



Alternate Earth...The main lab at Mears Corp...



Warren stood near the stack of rings of the Gateway portal...Now with waves of electromagnetic energy moving along each metallic hoop and mingling with the one below...



"I think we'd best move to the remote console now..." he noted to the remaining Katrina by his side...Who nodded...



"That is...If all's clear now out there...?" he looked anxiously out the lab door...She hurried over to check...



William remaining by the dead Hunter, had placed the other guards at the stairway doors and at various points along the hall...He was speaking on the phone as the Katrina came over...Warren's clone by the console, but still keeping two Katrinas at his side...



Braver than the original, perhaps...But a relative thing...



"Yeah..." William nodded in response to the Katrina's question... "Tell our genius he can come out now...His daughters are gone...Nemesis is..."



A knock on the stairwell door... "William?..." she smashed it open...Knocking a watchful Kat back...



Oh...Sorry...she eyed the fallen Katrina...The other guards clustered defensively...



"It's ok, ladies..." Will called to them... "Stand down...It's Buffy Nemesis..."



She frowned a bit...



"I hate that name, Will...Promise me you won't use it on new Earth...?" she smiled plaintively...



"If you're Buffy there..." he eyed her... "There'll be no need..."



She nodded...



"Xander?..." he stared at her...She looked down...



"I didn't want to hurt him..." she began...



He rubbed his head...



"He saw the coordinates, Will...He'd've told Giles and Willow..."



He was too hurt to get out before the bombs would've killed him...It's better this way...she tried as he looked at her...



"He didn't suffer...And he's with Anya now..." she finished...



"Will...?" she eyed him... "William, please...?" she pleaded...As he looked down the hall where the rest of the clones were watching the opposite stairway...



"I never said I wouldn't do whatever it took...I only said I'd try not to hurt him..."



"Is that how it'll be on new Earth, Buffy...?...You'll try not to hurt them...?"



"I swore on Mom's soul, William..."she paused... "To you and to Xander..."



I won't let ya down...she eyed him...But if I break my word...You can...Do whatever you...



"Don't...Please, Buffy..." he looked at her...



"Just...Understand...If Warren can't help you...If you can't handle things...I may have to choose sides on new Earth..."



"You won't hafta Will...I won't fail you..." she patted him...



You'll see...Baby...It'll be like before...Even better...Cause we'll be together...



"Yeah..." he nodded...



"Whatever happens...That's one thing that never changes...In the end, we're always together...That I can promise you, Buffy..."



"Then...What else matters, huh...?" she hugged him a bit as Warren, informed by his returned Kat as to security, emerged cautiously from the lab...



"Well...Poppa...?" she released Will and looked over at him as he moved to the console where his clone was checking readouts... "We're on a tight sche...she...(schedule?...William kindly asked...Yeah...she sighed...)..."



"Almost ready..." Warren nodded, reviewing the clone's data...



***



Aboveground, outside the Mears Corporation, a group of Council and Corporation security personnel waited with the small group of remaining Hunters...Buffy H-17 on the videophone to Vice-Chairman Giles...



"Xander's not back yet with Buffy H-14...Giles?..."



"You and the others must pull back, Buffy..." he insisted gently to her... "Put Mr. Dobson on the line and have everyone else go to the cars...Head for the safe locations I've specified..."



"Xander...? William...?" she paused...



"If they can come...They'll come...Get Mr. Dobson, please..."



He sat back in his chair...Eyeing the photo on his desk...The old gang...The only real family he'd had since Mother and Father passed on...His children, all...The only ones he'd ever have...



All gone now but for Xander, Willow, and Dawn...He knew William would never leave the complex, whether Nemesis truly was dead or not...And Willow perhaps lost as the rest...



Music played in the background...Willie's bar...er Club...Musicians...And Nemesis singing...A tape she'd sent him just the other day...Rather proudly, it seemed, judging by her accompanying note...Eager to tell her other "father" all about her new "career"...And to leave a farewell, if as she'd claimed she hoped, they'd not meet again...



He eyed the glowing orb beside his desk...Taken by him, just a few minutes ago, from the Council vaults, at some considerable risk of detection...Unstable, but the only immediate source of enough power to get him to the Corporation...



Fifteen minutes...If Xander had finished setting the charges and started the timers immediately...



Dobson came on line...



"Sir...?...No word yet from Mr. Harris..."



"Yes..." Giles replied... "I think we should assume a possible disaster...But leave the area and head for the safe zone...I'll try to reach Mr. Harris myself..."



"Sir...? I don't think..."



He cut Dobson off with a curt order...Evacuate the last personnel...Now...And put the phone down...



Reading through the spell, he heard his secretary arguing with someone outside...Willow no doubt...



He concentrated...Almost set...



The song continued...



Play



"Falling in love again...Never wanted to...What am I to do?...I can't...Help it..." Nemesis' song on tape finished...



"Giles?...Was it good?...I did my best on that one...Oh, gotta go...I love you, Giles..." the tape stopped...



"Giles...?" Willow opened the door...His secretary following her, insistent...The Vice-Chairman was not avail...she began...Hmmn...They both looked round...No one...Willow eyed the orb beside the desk, now black and inert...



***



The Mears Corporation...Lab complex on level 4...



"We're ready..." Warren looked at his partners...



And just ten minutes to kaboom...he noted...



"After...You...Poppa..." Nemesis smiled sweetly at him...



He gulped slightly...Hastily rechecking the parachute on his back...A just in case item...



Turning to his clone and the Katrinas by the console...



"Bye fellas...Defend the console no matter what..."



Yeah...Sure...The clone Warren nodded...



"Try to keep our genes intact, moron..." he groused...



Schmuck...Warren gave a slight grin...



"You were the best of the lot, kid..." he smiled at him...



"Yeah, yeah...Try not to land on your head..." the clone frowned...



"Good luck, Warren..." the Kats chorused...



"C'mon Will..." Nemesis pulled at him...



He nodded and they followed Warren back into the lab...Grabbing the crates of equipment he'd specified as vital...



The other Katrinas and the one remaining prototype Hunter fell back...Under secret orders for at least one to try and make it through the portal...



Warren didn't expect much from their efforts...But hey, if one made it through...On the delayed wavefront the clone had set...



He just didn't think Nemy would be all that inclined to protect her dear ole pop...And after all the effort, surely he was entitled to try and secure a leetle protection...



"Warren!..." Giles appeared at the end of the corridor outside the lab...Glaring at clone Mears by the console as he rose to his feet...



"Giles?...Nice teleport..." the clone grinned back...



"Leetle late though...My original just went through...Nemy and Will too..."



A call from the lab... "What's up!?..." Warren...



"Ok..." the clone sighed, a glance back... "I lied...But you are too late, Mr. Giles...Best to head back the way you came...Now..."



"A one-way trip, Warren..." Giles shook his head... "William!...Buffy!..." he called sternly...



Giles...Nemesis turned to Will within the main lab...Warren standing on the platform above the glowing stack of rings...A large portal open now...Trying to nerve himself up for the jump...



"Go, Warren!..." she cried...Pushing William along, she hurried up the ramp to the jump-off...



Giles outside the lab pulled a grenade...The Kats raised their guns, clustering round the console...



"Don't Giles..." the Mears clone called to him...



"Go!..." Nemesis hollered at Warren...He squeezed eyes shut and jumped...



Will looked at her...



"It's too late to help him get out..." she shook her head...Pausing as he stared at her...



All right...she nodded...



"I'll try...I'll ask him to come...Go!..." she pushed him...And he fell into the portal after Mears...She tossed the boxes after them...And went down, listening to firing outside...She raced out...



Just in time to catch Giles' grenade and toss it all the way down the hall, past him...



"Giles!..." she cried...The blast knocking him down...



She hurried to him...Dead...



"Giles...Giles..." she whispered... "Oh...I tried...Give me that much, Giles...I tried..."



Get ready...The Mears clone hissed to two Kats...Soon as she goes through...Find Warren when you get there, but don't let Nemesis see you...



"What was that...Mears...?" Nemesis was on him before he could look up...



My hearing...Enhanced, remember...? she grabbed the two Kats and killed them instantly...



"Never said anything about not killing you, clone..." she grinned...Tossing him down the hall...No miraculous escape for him this time...The others moved against her...She bit her lip...No time...She raced for the lab door...Throwing two more Kats back...



She ran up the portal, eyeing the vortex nervously...Gee...Just like...The other one...



Oh, well...I've been dead twice...And Will's there no matter what...



"Remember...Warren is dead if you touch that console, girls..." she called to the remaining clones rushing in now...They backed off a moment...Looking at each other...



One minute...Well...Now or never...



She jumped...



One Kat raced up after...Making a leap as the lab exploded...



***



LA, normal Buffyverse...Evening...



(Wonderful! Wonderful! -



-Words by Ben Raleigh and Music by Sherman Edwards)



[Play theme..."Wonderful, Wonderful..."]



"Sometimes we walk hand in hand by the sea...



And we breathe in the cool salty air.



You turn to me with a kiss in your eyes...



And my heart feels a thrill beyond compare...



Then your lips cling to mine...



It's wonderful, wonderful.... Oh, so wonderful, my love.









Sometimes we stand on the top of a hill...



And we gaze at the earth and the sky...



I turn to you and you melt in my arms...



There we are, darling, only you and I.



What a moment to share....



It's wonderful, wonderful... Oh, so wonderful, my love.



The world is full of wond'rous things it's true...



But they wouldn't have much meaning without you...









Some quiet ev'ning I sit by your side...



And we're lost in a world of our own.



I feel the glow of your unspoken love...



I'm aware of the treasure that I own...



And I say to myself "It's wonderful, wonderful..."



"Oh, so wonderful, my love."









And I say to myself "It's wonderful, wonderful..."



"Oh, so wonderful, my love..."









Warren staggered to his feet...That first step he thought, groaning...



Walthrop on the ground beside him...Bit worse for wear...Hmmn...



"Spike...?" he cautiously called to him...The vampire opened his eyes, looking round groggily...



"Mears...? Where's...Buffy?..."



Hmmn...Rather like to know that myself, Mears thought...A bit nervously...He shrugged...



"Guys!!..." Nemesis was racing up to them...They seemed to be on a hill...Above what looked like the lights of a city...



"Come and see!...Will, we made it!!...We made it!!..." she babbled ecstatically...Even a smile for Mears...Literally dancing for joy...



"We're in LA!...Will?..." she eyed him...As he sat up, looking rather dazed...



Nice to see her so happy...The thought suddenly crossed Warren's mind, startling him...



"Warren?..." she turned to him, her look accusing...He put up his hands slightly...Not my fault, lady...



"I think he took the trip a leetle harder..."



She knelt by Walthrop...Taking his hands...Looking in his eyes nervously...



"William?...You're all right?...I didn't mean to go off like that...I just wanted to check this while you and Warren came to..." she kissed him... "Oh, Will...We made it!..." she beamed again...



"Yes, pet..." he nodded...



"You're all right?..." she asked again... "Can you stand up?..."



Just a mo...He pulled himself to his feet...Wobbling as she gave him an arm and steadied him...Warren watching carefully...



"Don't go anywhere just yet...Pops..." she gave him a quick glance... "Our business isn't settled yet, remember?..."



Besides...she noted...Don't know how safe it is just yet...That might be Demon Town down there for all we know...



"I'm not planning to head out just yet..." he replied... "Just want to check my stuff...Ok?..."



She nodded...He went to the first crate...Good thing we packed it well...he noted...



Walthrop looked round a bit...Smilingly declining more support from her...



"Better now, Will?..." she asked, a bit anxious...



"Fine, love...Just fine...You?..." he looked her over...



"100% Buffy..." she grinned... "Ready to restart my Slaying career..."



"And my life...Both of them..." she came over to him..."Come and see,



Will...It's beautiful...Wonderful..." she put an arm round...



"I think we're near a garbage dump..." Warren sniffed... "Maybe on one..."



"Just stay where you are...Pops..." Nemesis glared at him... "Will and I are just gonna take a look-see..."



Wouldn't want you to get hurt... 'Dad'...she frowned... Or hafta hurt you...



"Not before I'm done with you anyway..."



"We have a deal..." Warren eyed her...



"So long as you keep it...And your new Earth is what you promised me..." Nemesis replied coldly...Dismissing him with a frown, she turned back to her feller...Still a bit wobbily...



"Ready, Will?...You're up for a walk?..." she looked at him...



Absolutely, love...he nodded wanly...



"Lets have a gander at this wonderful new world of ours..." he grinned...



They started down the hill, she supporting him...Warren watching...



Her voice came back up to him...Singing...



Is she singing what I think she's singing?...he thought...Rolling his eyes...



"It's wonderful, wonderful..." her voice floated back...



Poor kid...The involuntary thought crossed his mind...



My poor Nemy...Hope she finds...He pushed the thought aside and turned back to the crates...Considering...



Looks like Walthrop isn't doing so well after his little drop through the dimensions...Might be something useful in that...If I play my cards carefully...



Though no way am I trying anything til we know about this place...She might be right about the "Demon Town" thing...



***





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



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 XX...



(A Nightingale Sang in Beckley Square...



Written by Manning Sherwin and Holt Marvell)



Play



"That certain night, the night we met



There was magic abroad in the air



There were angels dining at the Ritz



And a nightingale sang in Beckley Square



I may be right, I may be wrong



But I'm perfectly willing to swear



That when you turned and smiled at me



A nightingale sang in Beckley Square



The moon that lingered over London town



Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown



How could he know we two were so in love?



The whole darn world seemed upside down



The streets of town were paved with stars



It was such a romantic affair



And, as we kissed and said goodnight,



A nightingale sang in Beckley Square



The streets of town were paved with stars



It was such a romantic affair



And, as we kissed and said goodnight,



A nightingale sang in Beckley Square



I know 'cause I was there



That night in Beckley Square..."



(Beckley is pronounced as "Barkley.")



"That's an English song, Will...I...Think...About England, anyway..." Nemesis noted shyly, leaning against him as they sat watching the lights of overwhelmingly human-populated...No doubt about it, following their quick hike down to the freeway below the hill...LA... "English...Like us..." she grinned...



"Indeed, pet..." he smiled gently... "And beautifully sung..."



Thank you...she beamed at him...



"William...?...Will you take me to London someday?...I wanta see if I remember our old hangouts...Cicely's and yours I mean..."



"Sure..." he nodded... "But different Earth, girl...Things might not be as it was in our London...And in any case, things had changed quite a bit from 1880 last time I was there...Your family's old townhouse was long gone..."



Oh...



"Say...?" she eyed him suddenly...



"What if you weren't vamped on this Earth?..."



He blinked at her...



"I couldn't've been stupid in every dimension..." she noted...



Maybe here Cicely had the brains to keep you safe...By her side...



It was possible...he thought...There might be no Spike, no soul-restored William on this Earth...



His counterpart and hers might well have lived and died happily...A century ago...



"But there was a Buffy here..." she finished his thought for him... "At least Warren says there was...And she died jumping into Glory's portal like I did...Unless he was lying..."



"Tough to do considering he wasn't there when you died..." Will noted... "But how did he get the dope on this world?...Send out some of his clones to take a peek or what?..."



She shook her head...Not sure...She looked a little sheepish...



"I was kinda anxious to make this work...I didn't ask too many questions once he told me about this place...Back when he and his clone thought I'd be oh so happy to be his girl..."



Will eyed her...She avoided looking at him...What a lovely night, even the smog's not so bad...she hastily noted...Less there's not much smog on this Earth...



I never did ask her...he thought...But a practical lass like Nemesis...Who was ready to do anything to get what she needed to get her life back...Well...



Probably a subject best left buried...And forgotten...With poor ole Dru...



Hmmn...Wonder if Dru's Dru here?...Or long and peacefully dead...Hope so, poor thing...



Specially if my Nemy decides to seek her out...With an eye to settling old scores...



Devoted girl, my Buffy-Cicely-Nemy...



"How's Warren doin'...?" she looked up the hill to where Mears was carefully opening and inspecting his crates of equipment...Clearly pleased to move to a different subject than her past relations with dear ole 'dad'...



"Mears!..." Will called up...



Yeah?...Warren looked down to them...



"Buffy wants to know how 'dad' likes new Earth!..." Walthrop yelled up to him, grinning...



"Lovely...Tell her just...Lovely...And I still think we're on a garbage dump..." Mears called back...



"We are, you know..." William eyed Nemesis...



Yeah...She shrugged...



"But who cares...William, we've made it...We're here..." she got up, exultant...He remained sitting...Smiling at her...



She looked down at him...He still looked...



"Will?...You don't look good...You need some blood or something?..."



"That's probably it, pet...A shot of O negative and I'll be rarin' to go..." he nodded...



"Well..." she scanned the area round them...Sniffing...



"I'll be back..." she headed off...



"Buffy!?..." he tried to rise after her...She halted and turned back to him...



"Wait..." he struggled to his feet...



"No, Will...Just wait there...I'm faster alone...I'll find some vamp nest around here...Or a blood bank..."



"Buffy...You will be Buffy here, love?...You promise?..." he stared at her...



"I promised already...On Mom's soul..." she glared a bit at him...



"Buffy...I know you wouldn't mean to...But you have a way of not knowing your own strength, girl..." he looked at her carefully...



Please...



She relented a bit...



"Only vamps and demons...I won't even go near humans for now..." she nodded...Making a cross on her coat over her left breast...



"And hope to die..." she grinned... "Doesn't count with Mearsy of course..." she noted, glancing up the hill... "But then he ain't human...In my book, anyhow..."



Like us...she smiled at William...Blew him a kiss and raced off...



Dr. Mears watching from above...Like God on high...He noted to himself...Watching over his rebellious creatures...



Course in this case, Warren the God had forced the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge right down Eve's throat...



William sitting back down, hopelessly trying to keep a eye on her as she zipped down the hill...



"...Cause when [you] turned and smiled at me...



A nightingale sang in Beckley Square..." her words drifted up to him...



Odd...He thought...She never has trouble with words like "nightingale" when she's singing...



Must ask ole Mearsy about that...



***



Alternate Earth...By the ruins of the Mears Corporation...



Willow stood, dry-eyed, surveying the blasted remains...Several of the surviving Hunters now combing the rubble with Council staff...



A Council member of Observer status came up to her... "No signs of Walthrop or the Nemesis..."



"Here!..." a figure beside two Hunters waved...Dobson, Willow recognized...She walked over coolly, looking carefully to see what he was examining...A bundle...Or...Something...Brought up by the two Hunters...



"Nemesis!..." he called...Waving her and the others over...A group quickly clustering...



"They've found her body!..."



In what was left of the parking lot, a car pulled up...A young woman emerging from the right rear door...



Dawn, Willow quietly noted...Barely turning to register her...Ignoring her anxious, desperate wave...



Nemesis' sister's wave...Part of Nemesis...A darker black briefly came into the Wiccan's eyes...And faded...



A still recovering Wesley emerged from the left rear and hurried after Dawn...



"Willow!?..." Dawn called...



Giles?...Xander?...



William?...



Willow ignored the calls, staring at the body...Reaching out...



No...she hissed...Eyes blackening...



Not this one...



"It's a Hunter...Must be one of Mears' girls..." she glanced at Dobson...Who stared at her dark face...



She calmed a bit...



"Nemesis and Walthrop have gotten away...To the other Earth...Thanks to Dr. Mears, I'm sure..." she noted...Thinking...



Dawn came over...Staring at the body...



"Is that...?"



No...Willow frowned, shaking her head...



"She got away from them...Probably killed them...Xander and Giles..."



Willow...Dawn stared at her...



"And took William with her...That bastard...Traitor..." Willow glared at the body...



Wesley came up...



"Dawn...Willow...Is that?..."



No...Willow frowned...And looked at Dobson...



"There must be something left...Some pieces of the Gateway system...Find them....Now..." she commanded...



"Willow...?...What are you gonna do...?" Dawn stared at her...



She gave a grim and terrible look...



"I'm gonna find my ole pal...Wherever she is...And rip the flesh off her bones..." she smiled coldly...



"She's got magics protection Willow..." Dawn noted...



"That won't stop me...Just make it a lot more painful for her..."



"Mr. Dobson!..." A Hunter called...Coming over...



"We found Warren...Holding on to this..." she held up part of the remote console... "Is this important...?"



"Bring that here!!!..." Willow called in a deep, stern, rage-filled voice...Eyes completely black now...



"Willow..." Wesley began...



Don't Wes...she waved him off and took the console piece from the Hunter...Lugging it away to a relatively clear spot...Wesley sighing at her, looking at Dawn...Talk to her...he hissed...



"Willow..?" Dawn headed over to where Willow was examining the control console...Nothing...No data left...



"Willow...I know how..." Dawn began...



"Be quiet, Dawn..." Willow cut her off...Dawn found herself quite content to be still...Eyeing her...



"There must still be some trace here...Something...I'll have to break it down and check for residual EM signatures...Try to reconstruct whatever's left of the console's memory system..." she looked at the quietly staring Dawn...



"But even if I find anything here...It might take years to find them...And more power than I'm likely to scrape up from the Council archives..."



But...She stared at Dawn intently...Dawn trying to move off but unable to...



Willow took her hand...Dear lil' Dawny...Buffy's sweet lil' sis...The lil' ball of energy made human...Made from good...Ole...Buffy...



From good ole Buffy...she smiled at her...



Nemesis...



Wesley was watching from where he stood with Dobson and two Hunters...Willow seemed calmer...



"Smile for our Wes, Dawny...Give him a nice, Dawny wave...All's well..." Willow smiled, whispering to her...



Dawn turned and gave a brief wave...A slight smile...Wesley waved back...Willow nodding to him...



"Please..."Dawn struggled to get the word out...



Please...? Please what...? Willow whispered back...



"Please...Buffy...Don't kill the only person who ever truly understood and loved Willow?...And the only people she still loved and cared for in this world?...Is that what you wanted to say?...Dawny...?"



Too late...Willow grinned...



"I think...You and I should go find that sister of yours...And give her a good talking-to...Don't you...?"



Willow?!...Wesley called to her...Sensing things were not quite going...



Willow!!?...Dawn!!!!...He watched in horror...The Hunters, sensing danger to Dawn, racing over...



Too late...As Willow plunged her hands, Glory-style into Dawn...Dawn glowing and dissolving into pure energy...Diffusing through Willow...Who glowed darkly and vanished...The console piece with her...



Willow!!!!...Wesley screamed...The Hunters halting where she and Dawn had stood...Staring...



"Dawn?!..." they called in helpless chorus...







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







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 XXI...



New Sunnydale, the evening of Nemesis' and alternate William's arrival in LA...



Doublemeat Palace #10114...Celebrating its grand reopening and the rebirth of New Sunnydale, CA with a two-fer special...That's two DP specials and fries, with soda...And remember...Offspring (of any species) eat free...



So long as it's not staff or patrons...





A grim-looking Robin Wood glared across the counter at new Assistant Manager Walthrop...Who, decked out in funny hat and red stripped shirt...Sighed at his self-appointed nemesis...



Jonathan Levinson, who'd left the booth where he'd been dining with SIT Brenda to come over and to once again offer his profuse thanks to the principal who'd more or less been the agent of his resurrection...Eyed both...Uncertain...



As was an anxious Buffy Summers...Who'd raced over from her post at the grill to ensure that there would be no disruption to the evening's shift...And her wedding plans...



"Robin...?" she gave a weak smile... "Nice to see you back...Long time no battle evil together...How was your vacation?...We've managed to keep things together at the school..."



Despite your axing me...Effective tomorrow...she thought...And, thanks for confirming it by email this am...



Buffy...he nodded coldly...Not taking his eyes off Walthrop...



"Nice to see you've both found work...And that you're keeping a close eye on our human-souled maniac here..."



"Well...?" William looked at him...Wood still staring with narrowed eyes at the object of his wrath...



"Jonathan?..." Buffy cheerily noted him... "Can I get you guys anything else...?"



Ummn...Jonathan looked at her...She clearly reaching for anything to break the tension...



"Principal Wood?..." he turned quickly to him...



Mr. Levinson...Wood nodded coolly...



Geesh...I'm long out of high school...Jonathan sighed to himself...Why do I have this urge to call him sir...?



"Just wanta says thanks again...For accidently getting my heart to restart back in that hole..." he smiled cautiously...William now looking at Wood with rather narrow eyes himself...



Hmmn...Maybe I should be...Jonathan thought...









"So...? Jonathan...?" Buffy hastily began a conversation...Trying to tamp things down... "You have any after-Death complications yet?..." she asked brightly... "Hi, Brenda..." she waved to Brenda at their booth...Who was watching the counter scene with interest... "Did Giles get your equipment all set...?...Sorry about the accident in the training room...I'm still a little under the weather..." Brenda nodded back...Fine, fine...Hmmn...



Wasn't that tall guy the Sunnydale High principal and demon fighter Buffy nearly beat the crap out of when he tried to kill William...?...Before he switched back to our side...?



Cute...Very...But look how Jonathan is standing up to him...Brenda thought loyally...



"See ya never can be sure after a resurrection...Even a quick heart restart like Jonathan's..." Buffy noted to Wood...Who gave her a slight, cold glance...



"And Lord knows I oughta..." she hesitated...Ummn...



"Well...Can we get you anything?..." William eyed the principal...Coolly...



"I'm...Thinking..." Wood replied...Looking up at the board...



"Take...Your...Time..." William gave a thin smile...



"Thanks..." Wood looked him in the eyes...



Am I hearing Clint Eastwood spaghetti western music?...Jonathan stared at the two confronting each other across the Doublemeat counter...



Buffy slightly annoyed now with both her soon-to-be-husband's and soon-to-be-former employer's attitude...Muy macho, guys, she glared...But the Slayer has done better on her lonesome...As you both oughta know...And will do so again in another minute if you two don't knock it off...



Of course...William didn't start this...I mean post-soul and all...And, hey...Who fired me as of tomorrow?...No money in the school budget, yeah sure...And nearly betrayed us to the First...?...she thought...Even if he did come through at almost the very end...And I mean the very end...



Her eyes narrowed now...



Wood blinked a bit at the double glare...Eyeing the grim-looking standard bearers of the Doublemeat Corporation...God, they really are a couple...But drew on his own inner reserves...Calling up the full force of an experienced high school educator...At Principal intensity...



Whoa, not bad...Buffy thought...But continuing her glare in support...William maintaining his in carefully measured fashion...Just that right level of cold stare-down...She noted rather proudly to herself... Not too harsh and flamey...Based on his century's experience in intimidation with Spike, no doubt...



Oh, crap...She noted several entering customers blithely headed for the counter...



Jonathan looked for a way out...But sighed to himself when Buffy gave him a quick, desperate glance...



Help...Her eyes pleaded as she looked at him, then Wood, finally Walthrop...



My God...he looked back sympathetically as Wood and Walthrop continued their glare contest...Peeking at William as well...



She really is with Spike now...I suppose seeing her all over him when we finished the First I should have known, but...Gee...



Still the pleading look...Well...



I do owe her...Still...he thought...



And how often does Buffy Summers need my help?...He held his ground by the counter, trying to smile at Wood...And not entirely unaware of Brenda's admiring eye on him from their booth...



And how often do I get to impress a Slayer-in-Training?...he thought happily...



"Make any new girlfriends recently...?...Spike...?" the principal finally broke the silence, grimly smiling at him...



"Just one...And the name is Walthrop, Wood..." William smiled coldly back...Nodding at Buffy who took his arm firmly...Glaring slightly again herself now...



"Ah..." Wood grinned sarcastically...His eyes anything but amused... "So you two are officially a couple...Very nice..."



"We're engaged..." Buffy eyed him...A rather grim challenge in her announcement of such a happy event...



Jonathan blinked...Eng...? He looked hastily over to Brenda who nodded...Engaged...



"I...See...Congratulations..." Wood's expression anything but...



"So..." he began, after a brief pause... "What's good tonight...Anything a little less lethal than your usual?..." Wood looked again at the board above the counter...



"What about the fish sandwich?...It's on special tonight..." William replied... "And relatively harmless..." a slight smile...



"Oh...?"



"Yeah...Just thirty pieces of silver..." he smiled beatifically...



Wood reddened a bit...Glaring rather openly now...



Ummn...Noting the now staring, puzzled, and somewhat intimidated customers...Buffy was slightly...Will?...Honey?...Mr. Assistant Manager?...



After all one can never be too sure about a career with the Watchers' Council...



Well...Jonathan thought loyally...While I can see both sides here...And have walked on the Dark Side myself...He did nearly cost us the whole thing...



"Will..." Buffy hissed... "C'mon...We settled this...Robin..." she put a hand up...



"Lets leave the past with the past...Will saved your life back there...You came through for us in the end...Lets not rake things up again..."



The new Assistant Manager caught his intended's anxiety...Duty calls, honey...He took the glare down a few notches...



Thanks...Her grateful look back as she beamed a bright Doublemeat smile at the now hesitantly approaching customers...Jonathan meanwhile doing his best in the supporting role of happy-go-lucky regular shooting the breeze with the staff, likewise beaming...All's well, folks...Brenda admiring his devil-may-care poise from her seat...



Wood, having backed off a bit as well, stood aside for the new customers...Still thinking my options...he smiled pleasantly at one who paused...



Buffy sighed...She and the Assistant Manager moving with their usual swiftness to deal with the menace of cholesterol-famished heavy feeders, human variety...



Not that she was entirely unhappy to see that William could still do that ole Spikean air of menace when called upon...



"I'm not here to make trouble for you, Buffy..." Wood noted, quietly, stepping forward again as the other customers took their purchases and left under William's pleasant smile...Shaking his head...



In fact...I have good news for you...



"The Board has given me a few extra bucks, after all...I can keep you on...If you want to stay..."



Unless...Your...Fiancee...he looked at William noncommitally...



"Objects..."



"Not at all...Sounds very fine...If Buffy wants that..." he eyed her...Shaking his head and the hat at her in an emphatic way...



"Nice hat..." Wood noted...



"Thanks..." Will replied...



"I'd like to keep on with it...If you're ok with it, Will?..." Buffy began...



Oh...But...? she paused...



"We're going to LA...Then England for six weeks..."



"It's almost summer, Buffy...I won't need you til the fall..." Wood pointed out...



"But...You're a good counselor...And Lord knows, after the destruction of Sunnydale last year, we need good counselors...So...The job's yours in September...If you want to come back..." he finished...



She looked at William...Who nodded encouragingly...



Yeah...she smiled wanly at Wood...I'd like to...



"I was kinda thinking of getting back to college for it, too...Maybe try and major in Education..."



"It's a good field..." Wood nodded...



"Pay stinks of course..." he smiled...A bit warmer...



"But you're used to that..."



He turned to Walthrop...



"I think I'll try the fish..."



William nodded...



"Thanks..." he eyed him...



"This has nothing to do with you, my friend...Buffy is an excellent counselor and my kids need excellent counselors..." Wood replied...



"I meant for trying the fish, mate...It's been a slow mover tonight, even with the special..."



Guys...Buffy glared at both now...While Jonathan, sensing a slight easing of tension, decided to consider his duty done...And slip off into the sunset...With the eagerly-waiting-for-the-scoop, Brenda...



"Jonathan?..." Wood now looked at him directly for the first time...



"Don't make any more involuntary blood donations..." he smiled... "Can't always count on that vasoconstriction thing...Or on meeting up with someone who'll try to bury you properly..."



Yeah...Jonathan wanly nodded...And went back to his booth...An admiring Brenda making room on her side...



"Meeting at the Box tomorrow, Jonathan..." Buffy called to him... "You and Andrew are included, you know..."



On the team at last...Jonathan beamed back at her happily, nodding...



Wow...Brenda thought, eyeing her dinner companion shyly...From Nobody to Evil Geek to Dead Hero to Revived Noble Supporter of the Slayer...



A career even Buffy's William might find hard to match...Let alone that good vamp guy from LA with the bad hair...



Hmmn...Buffy eyed Wood...Well, he seems to be gradually dealing...Very gradually...



Wonder if I could get William to ask him to be an usher...?



After all...We're kinda limited in candidates, me and Will not having all that many male...Or...Luckily for him...She gave William a quick smile as he served Wood...Female friends...Even if we let in the vampiral/demonic...



Which we will not, excepting Clem and Angel, of course...



***





LA...A bad street in a very bad neighborhood...



"I'm sorry about how things worked out, Angel..." Charlie eyed the tall vampire as they strode along...



Yeah...Angel looked down an alley...



"But...Perhaps it was for the best..."



Sure...The vampire looked up the street carefully...Still no sign of the new pride...A rough bunch by rep...



"These things..." Gunn began...



"Yeah, Charlie...I get it...Stuff happens..." Angel cut him off...



And Buffy and I were pretty much over after I left Sunnydale...So no need to go on about things...



"Sorry..."



"Lets focus on the mission, shall we?...We have a city to protect..."



"His" city...Charlie thought...Ah, well...It is nice to have things more or less back to normal...And with the Partners contained and back to Hell...We've been able to concentrate on the minor evildoers, like tonight's set...



Yes...The mission...The newly instated partner of Angel, Burkle-Wyndham-Price, Gunn, and Walthrop...Sighed to himself...And being the new Watcher-designate for Los Angeles to replace good ole Wes, courtesy Chairman Giles, the mission was of course top priority...



Even if the idea of the absent Walthrop holding a partnership equal to his own share as well as the New Sunnydale Watchership was a bit irking...



Still, he couldn't help feeling it was all a bit hard on his friend...Now that they were friends again...Buffy had been rather cold all during that last battle...And clearly had formed a relationship with...he shook his head in wonder...William...



In some ways that being the hardest thing...The infamous Spike, soul-restored...Minus even the hint of a curse or restraint on happiness...And Buffy, ready to die with him when the First had threatened to take him...



Him ready to die for her as well...Charlie had to admit, remembering...When the First had moved to try to possess her...Just before Jonathan and Willow had made their move...



Well, at least Angel seems to have found contentment...Via dear Nina...Or perhaps the Boss' rather large ego had found part of that contentment in being allowed to continue unbothered on his own turf as LA savior...



Well...We all make our adjustments...Like dear Lyri and me...He thought, rather contented himself...



Crash!...A running vamp, new to Gunn...Looking anything but aggressive and intimidating...



Rather terrified...And hunted...In fact...



"Help!..." the vamp screamed to them, focusing on Angel...



Rather incongruously, Charlie noted...



"Don't let her get me!!!!..." he cried, face even more distorted by fear than demonic ridges...



Help me, brother...! he halted by Angel...Who stared at him...



What the...?



Geesh, has my reputation faded that much already?...Angel eyed the pleading vamp...



Another loud crash...The fence down at the end of the alley the vamp had emerged from fell over...A solitary figure in the distance...Gunn raised his glasses to look at...



Buffy?...he thought...



But she was gone before he got a second look or Angel could look as well...



"She's...A...Monster..." the vamp gasped... "I never saw anything like her..."



"I think...It was your friend Buffy..." Gunn eyed Angel...



"What?..." Angel stared... "Buffy...?"



In "my" city?...Unannounced...?



"Can't be sure..." Charlie noted...Turning to the vamp who was now beginning to remember he'd been part of a group out to destroy these two...When he set out...



However a fresh memory of Nemesis ripping his sire apart with barely an effort...The strongest vamp seen in these parts in a while...Dulled his enthusiasm for a new conflict...At least while that creature, that hideous...Had she been seven or eight...Ten, yes, ten definitely...Feet tall?...



Urgg...Angel grabbed the fellow by the throat, cutting off his ruminations...



"Was it the Slayer?..." Gunn stared at the vamp...



Talk...Angel shook him...



"Never saw the Slayer...Don't know...But this wasn't like any Slayer I ever heard of...A monster...You guys saw her right?...Ten feet tall with claws...?"



"She was barely five feet tall...No claws..." Charlie eyed him...The Baron Munchenhausen of vamps obviously...But then, these newcomers from the MidWest...



If it was Buffy...She'd be rather pleased to hear the effect the Slayer still had on those who hadn't encountered her before...



"We'd better check on this...Call Giles in Sunnydale and see what's up..." Angel noted...



Can't believe Buffy would come into "my" city without so much as a by-your-leave...he groused inwardly...



"Lets go, pal..." he pulled the vamp along...



Phew...His new guest sighed to himself...



"You guys accept POWs right?..." the vamp smiled nervously at them...



***



Damn...I had to get ambitious my first time as new Earth Slayer...Nemesis sighed as she headed back to the landfill hill where Warren and her William awaited her...A full large-sized cooler of blood balanced on her shoulder...Should've let the little fellow go when I sensed Angel and his friend near...



Well...Maybe Angel and that black guy didn't see me too well to notice...They didn't seem stuck dumb by Buffy's miraculous return...



Yeah...It'll be fine...At worst they're trying to convince themselves they didn't see a thing...And it'll be just that much more of a miracle when I do show myself...Emerging from the Darkness to give Light back to a trocul...triev...Damn you Mears!...Ah...Troubled....World...



Hmmn...Maybe a little too like Angel in Christ mode but what the hell...And William will be rolling on the floor afterwards...Buffy descending back to Earth from Heaven on high...He'll love it...



Hmmn...William...I wonder...Well, I'll do the very proper and demure...Sadly, already spoken for...Buffy when I meet his counterpart here...If I...Buffy didn't kill him already years ago...I nearly did...Constantly, back on my world, after all, in the before time...



Anyway...That's for later...When Warren's set me to rights and we know this Earth and my friends are ready to meet me...



Important thing now is to get this stuff back to my William...And see if dear ole "dad's" been up to anything...



Can this little woman bloodwin or no?...she thought happily...Eyeing the cooler on her shoulder...



***



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



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 XXII...





New Sunnydale...The sidewalk by the Summers' home...



A somewhat battered-looking but quite sporty car pulled over...Its windshield painted over but for a few visor-like spots...



From the Summers' living room, a rather perturbed Dawn glared out the large window...To see Buffy emerging from Spike's...Right, she groused..."William's" , now...Ole Spikemobile...



Looking quite content with the world...Especially for someone who'd just ridden in the Spikemobile...



Indeed, looking rather more than content...Again eagerly thanking Clem, come to help lug, for having gotten the car safely out of old Sunnydale...It being of such sentimental value...



"What a neat car..." Sophia, a raven-haired, fairly new SIT arrival from Greece, looked out as well... "A classic..."



William had gotten out as well...Having made a valiant effort to reach his intended's door before she could get out...



Gr...eat...Dawn frowned...Watching Buffy beam at a sheepish-looking Will...Now clearly insisting on carrying some of her stuff...As she eagerly chattered to Clem about their day at work...



Maybe we should all offer to leave for the night so they can have the place to themselves...



"Your sister and that William make a very nice couple..." Sophia innocently noted...



***



"Well...?" Angel eyed Charlie, back in the offices of Angel Investigations...Their vamp POW safely and rather contentedly on his way to a new Initiative/Watchers' Council holding facility in the Caribbean...



Gunn put down his phone, shaking his head...



"Mr. Giles says Buffy is coming...With William...But not for a few days yet..."



Guess I must've been mistaken...Unless...



"The First?..." Angel shook his head in turn...



She's been neutralized...It'll be thousands of years if ever that she recovers enough power to punch her way back here...



"And this one was clearly physical...Unless my "brother" was leading us on..."



"Other shape-shifters...Corporeal ones...Do exist..." Gunn noted...



And something destroyed Phonicus the Mighty tonight...With minimal effort, if our friend's story was the truth...



"Kinda phony regards the "Mighty" bit..." Angel grinned... "To go out so easily..."



Angel...? Charlie eyed him...



"Just because Light has won a great victory over the Darkness isn't reason for us to become overly confident...Phonicus was supposed to be one of the most powerful vampires ever created...The strength of an Uber-vamp, with considerably more brain-power..." he noted sternly...



"Spoken like a true newly instated Watcher, Charlie..." Angel smiled... "And you're right...But at least let me enjoy a moment's gloat over a big win...And a reasonably quiet night..."



Bad enough we let the competition take the big one practically without us...he joked...



"And that I gotta play host to the happy couple in a few..."



Hmmn-hmm...Gunn eyed him solemnly... "Of course, you might be able to get directions to that African cavern from William when he shows..."









"Oh, yeah...That was the place you told me was just a legend, if I remember correctly..." Angel gave a wry look...



No...I said those who go in search of it become legends...Unless the god within takes a shine to them...They never even find the place...Usually encounter destruction long before...Charlie shook his head...



"Our friend Walthrop's romantic nature must have appealed to him..."



Or maybe...Angel hesitated...Some real pain creeping in, Charlie noted sadly...



"Maybe he did for the Slayer...Knowing how much she really wanted William to win his soul back..." A wan smile...



A smart minor deity to get on the Slayer's good side...Gunn nodded...He must've heard about Glory...



"I am happy for her...And him..." Angel nodded...



"After all...There's Connor now...And, someday...Maybe...I may get a chance to talk things over with Darla again...Her soul, I mean..."



Sure...Charlie smiled kindly...



"Mr...Walthrop..." Angel shook his head... "The soulless vampire who regained his ability to love a mortal...And then won his soul back...For love of Buffy Summers..."



Well...he paused...Now we know who the Prophecy was referring to, eh Charlie?...Another smile...



"Doesn't have to be limited to one, Angel..." Gunn eyed him..."We make our own Prophecy, you told us that..."



"Yeah...Anyway...Nice to know my "grandson" of sorts is a worthy fellow..."



"I have my doubts about these "poetic" types..." he grinned...



***



"Hey, Warren..." Nemesis was upon him before he heard a sound...



"William...?" she eyed him...Looking round...Somewhat anxiously...



"He...Wanted to...Take a little...Look around...Feeling better..." Dr. Mears explained...With some minor difficulty as she held him off the ground, choking... "Left...This..." he struggled to pass over a note...



"Great..." she nodded...Setting him down...



"Then I don't have to make my first human kill in our new Earth...Yet..." she smiled pleasantly...



See...I'm really making an effort here... "Pops"...she grinned...Scanning Will's note...



"Back home, you'd probably be dead now...Even if I wasn't intending to kill you right off...You know how I get sometimes when I get agitated...I..."



She paused a moment...Blinking...



"Sorry...I shouldn't talk like that...Buffy...Doesn't..." she looked at her hands...



"I...Don't talk like that...I'm sorry..."



He stared at her...



"So...He wanted to "scout around"...?" she frowned...Well, she brightened... "He must be feeling a little better..."



Hmmn...She smiled at the note...Signed "Soames..."...His middle name...With a line strongly urging her to use that name to identify him...



"He wants us to call him "Soames" from now on?..."



"I...Think..." Mears caught his breath... "He thought it would avoid confusion...If we meet up with the William here...If there is one..."



Soames...she grinned... "I always...Well, Cicely always...Liked that name..."



"Which way'd he go?..." she asked...



That way...he pointed...



"Can't believe he left you on your lonesome, Mears..." she groused...



"He wasn't going far...And he knew I wouldn't be going anywhere til we know more about this place..." Mears told her...



Ok...Stay, poppa...she eyed him...



"Cause you and me still have business..."



She turned away...



"Buffy..." Warren suddenly called to her...



Yeah?...



"In the old days...The "before time"..." he paused...



"You wouldn't've hesitated to threaten to beat the crap out of me...You just wouldn't've have done it without a half-decent reason...Which I guess you have...From your pov..."



She stared back at him...He looked at her steadily...



Thanks...she nodded...And headed off...



"Don't wander off, Warren...I mean it..." she called back without looking...Disappearing from view...



My little girl...The bizarre thought crossed his mind...



***



"Yes...I'll hold..." "Soames" politely informed the operator he'd reached from the battered, but functional phone booth he'd found...



Fortunately money...Change, anyway...Seemed to match between the alternate Earths well enough...



However, it seemed Angel Investigations, Inc lacked the prominent profile here it had held on their Earth...If it did, in fact, exist here...Possibly lacking the Council of Watchers' patronage (The operator having shown no recognition and having no listing for LA COW offices...) Angel and co kept a lower profile...



"Still checking, sir...Wait...I have a listing..." the operator told him...



He took the number down, pressing for the connection to go through...



"Angel Investigations...How may we help you?" A female voice...



Cordelia...? he thought...Still alive here?...



"Hello?..." Illyria asked...





No...Not Cordelia...Ah, must be the physicist Willow met...What was the name...



"Er...Sorry, miss..." Soames made a valiant, reasonably successful effort to disguise his voice...



"This is Angel Investigations?..."



Yes...? Can we help you?...she replied...Somewhat impatiently...



If only one had one's former power to immediately transport these telephone malefactors into one's sacred and violent presence...



"Well...I have some important information for Mr. Angel...Ancient manuscripts...Regarding a coming Apocalypse..."



"Yeah...?" ...Why do I get all the crank calls?...Illyria sighed to herself...Allowing her Fredian side to deal...



Still, one never knows...However, no reason not to do a little screening...



"We don't buy occult manuscripts, sir...But I'm sure "Mr. Angel" would be happy to look over your material..."



Hmmn...This one's voice sounds a little familiar, I've heard it before...Who?...she thought...Eh, probably some lapsed Watcher trying to hit Angel up for some quick cash, blood, slaves, or other commodity...He sounds Brit...



"Where are your offices located, please?...I'd like to bring my documents over...Tomorrow afternoon, if possible..."



He copied the address...Thanks...Oh...? Ummn...Name?...he paused at her question...



"Foxcroft..." he hastily replied...Grabbing at the first name he could think of...



"Henry Foxcroft..."



Hmmn...He hung up the phone...



God, good ole Henry...My Cicely's dear, great-hearted cousin...My best friend back in 1880...A regular Xander Harris...The one who brought us together all those years ago...



Hmmn...Might not have been the best name to give out...If they know anything about Cicely here...Well...If Mears is right and Buffy is long dead here...It'd be a while before anyone else makes the connection...



And we have to get some info before we start stumbling around this place...Especially if Mears is utterly off in his assessment of this world...Or deliberately holding back from us...



So...he grinned, shaking his hand...Angel's still intact...And he chose the same spot here as on our Earth for his agency...



Twit...The Hellmouth is in Sunnydale, not here...I never could understand why he didn't just take an apartment near town and commute...He'd of been on hand when Glory came after Dawn and Buffy...Even if he couldn't sleep with her, he could've helped her...



Was nice for me though, of course...he smiled...A little long-overdue assist from the Powers That Be I'd guess...



Buffy long dead...The thought came to him...



Poor William, my counterpart...God, I hope he died with her, it could make everything so...Well...We'll find out soon enough...



He stared at the phone...A quick call to Sunnydale?...Well, no...Not with fifteen cents left...And Dawn, if she's there...Or the others...Might recognize my voice if I try collect...



Well...If all goes well, they're about to receive some joyous news...I hope...he sighed...



"Joyce...Please..." he prayed... "If your spirit can hear me, help your poor "daughter"...Let her find peace and contentment here..."



And forgive me my sin in helping to drag her back...



"Will...er...Soames?..." Nemesis tapped on the plastic shield around the phone...



Who you calling?...Did you reach anybody?...Is Dawn home?...



"Found Angel's place...Still at LA as on our Earth...And he's still Undead..."



Really?...Did you speak to him?...I think I saw him making Patrol tonight...she eagerly told him...



"Didn't see me, I'm sure...Someone was with him, a black guy..."



"That would be his friend, Gunn...I spoke to his assistant, the one Willow met..." he looked at her... "I managed to disguise my voice, I think...I don't know if Cordelia's alive..."



"Neat..." Nemesis beamed... "Lets hope so...That'd be so great for Angel?...Maybe we could find out?..."



Buffy...I didn't want to ask a lot of questions...We should keep a low profile yet...



"I just wanted to confirm the place was here...And at the same address..."



"Ya wanna pay them a visit...?" she grinned...



"Just a little reconnaissance...Drop in, paw through a few records, slip out...We need to know what's what here...And I prefer to have a source of info beyond our dear ole Warren..."



Sounds good...she nodded...I'm up for a little breakin' and enterin'...



"Buffy..." he hesitated...



"I'll take it easy...Soames..." she beamed at getting it the first time...



I was alone with Warren and he's still in one piece...she noted, rather pleased with herself...



He nodded...



"Speaking of dear Mearsy..." he eyed her...



Yeah, best we got back...I was just nervous...You shouldn't have left like that, Soames...I was scared...she looked at him...



"I can't be alone, William..." she looked down nervously...Then shrugged and grinned up at him... "You promised me you'd stay with me...Eternally..."



He stared at her...



"In 1880...Our wedding vows...Inscribed on our rings, remember?..." she smiled at him...



"Eternity is ours...That was the inscription...And you said it was a good one..."



"Eternity is ours..." he nodded... "I remember..."



I do remember, Cicely...he smiled at her...She smiled back...Then...It's all gonna be all right...



"Anyway...I got your blood...Killed a few vamps, one preety strong one..." she noted... "Lets get back and figure out how we'll do things at Angel's later..." she took his hand and led him back towards the landfill hill...



"See, William...Ummn...Soames..." she hastily corrected... "The guys...They're here...They're all right...It's all starting to work out..."



***



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



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 XXIII...



LA, about two miles from the landfill hill where alternate Mears, Soames, and Nemesis prepared for their trip to Angel Investigations...A devoted Nemy having insisted on not leaving dear ole "Pops" out of their little excursion plan...Wouldn't want Dr. Mears to get himself into trouble on new Earth the first night and all...



Kat-32 appeared about two feet in the air over the ground and fell...Rather solidly...



She staggered to her feet...As planned she'd materialized about two hours and some distance from where the father-creator, Nemesis, and Walthrop had arrived...



The lights of the city gleamed before her...LA if the father-creator's calculations had been correct, both he and Nemesis preferring to avoid a materialization in Sunnydale, perhaps in front of some of alternate Ms. Summers' friends and family...



She felt the pouch on her side...Hmmn...Transmitter/receiver seems unbroken...Ah, test light functional...



Now, if the homing device Warren had placed among his equipment is functional...Yes...The father-creator will be pleased, she beamed to herself...And she would have the joy of providing him with her devoted protection and service...The only clone servant to have made it to new Earth, it seemed likely...



Not that she could hope to deal with Nemesis on an equal confrontation...But, any service she could provide that might help to protect the beloved one, reason for her existence...Would make her life and sacrifice worthwhile...



And no doubt, father-creator would have a brilliant plan in mind for dealing with Nemesis...If she could just reach him without exposing her presence...



Indeed, she thought contentedly, remembering as her mind cleared a bit...He had already provided the first part of a brilliant scheme to conceal herself...She was, within her abilities and until contact was established, to conduct herself as Katrina original...Kat Silber of new Earth...Warren having cleverly reasoned that even if her original counterpart here was very different or not currently living, it was unlikely Walthrop or Nemesis would concern themselves with checking her out...



Doing her best to avoid that Katrina herself, if she should still be living in the area...Warren having expressly stressed avoiding harm or danger to the true original Kat of new Earth...



He might still have a chance with her, after all...Even if the younger, alternate Warren here had blown it, according to the info Dr. Mears had exchanged with his counterpart in their brief, fragmentary contacts by a form of microwave telepathy...



Fragmented contacts that unbeknownst to older alternate Dr. Mears had led the Mears of new Earth to a rather unfortunate, grandiose view of his own abilities and future...



***



Sunnydale...The Summers' home...



Dawn on low simmer, eyed William as he sat watching Buffy on the phone with Giles...



Sophia, Lorna, and several other SITs dividing their time watching HBO and the even more interesting playlet unfolding in the living room...



"Well...Giles...I don't know what Angel saw...But it sure wasn't me..." Buffy told him...



Nice to hear Angel and Gunn had no trouble with Phonicus...But if this new one's a prob, William and I will lend a hand when we get there...



Dawn's look at William rose in temperature a notch...



"Maybe it was Dru having a little fun..." Buffy suggested...



William turned to look at the Nibs...My...The future sis-in-law's developing quite a nice glare, even minus potential Slayer status...



"Buffy tell you about the great deal she worked out for us with Willow and Giles...?" he smiled at her...



Temp dropped a notch...



Yeah?...she stared at him...The (urgh, but unavoidable) bro-in-law already standing to do rather nicely with his Watcher position...



"I'll leave it to her to give you the details...But lets just say...Our Slayer slayed em..." he grinned...



Hmmn...No, now wait a mo...I am not about to be bought off with the possibility of abandoning the bargain basement...she resumed glare...



"We should talk, Nibs...When we have a mo..." he noted the rise in temp...



Yeah...she darkly nodded...We...Should...



"We expect to be leavin' in a day or two...Unless you and Angel think we should go sooner?..." Buffy continued...Briefly glancing at Dawn...Oh, God...



"After all..." Will noted... "You being the maid of honor and all..."



Dawn blinked...Her glare suddenly dropping several notches...Maid of...?



Buffy looked at William, nearly dropping the phone...What?...He gave a reassuring glance back...



Well, if it means peace...And I hadn't spoken to Willow yet...she thought...



The SITs now abandoning their show...Glued to the real drama...



"Ummn...Ok, Giles...Well, let us know what Angel wants us to do...See ya at the meeting tomorrow...Bye..." Buffy hung up...And quickly recovering from her moment of surprise, exploited the tactical opening her intended had provided like the champion warrior she was...



"Yeah, Dawn..." she smiled at her...



"Course I did hope Will would wait until I'd had a chance to ask you..." a slight frown at her boy...Just enough to convince...Perfect...



"I'm sorry, dear..." William shook his head...A quick glance and nod...Perfect...



Amazing...Lorna eyed Sophia...It's like telepathy...



I should have waited...he sighed...



"But I'm sure Nibs knows we wouldn't feel right about it unless she accepted..."



Ummn...Dawn looked at them...Buffy having moved to stand by William...Both giving her a pathetically eager, appealing stare...



"You will do it, won't you, Dawny...?" Buffy let a slight plea creep in...



Mom...Would be so happy...



Ummn...



***



LA...The landfill hill...



"And...If we're caught...?" Soames eyed Nemesis...A bit sternly...A slightly disgruntled Warren watching...



We surrender...Peacefully...And tell Angel the truth...she sighed...



"Well, part of the truth..." Soames noted...



I don't think telling him you recently destroyed his alternate world self would set us up very well with him...



"I could always say it was Angelus I killed..." Nemesis grinned...Warren suppressing a smile...



Sorry, sorry...she put a regretful look on her face...



"Buffy..." Soames eyed her... "Or am I talking to Nemesis...?"



She bit a lip...Wincing a little...Mears rather fascinated now...My God...Anyone else would be long dead by now...



"I'll be good, Soames...I promise..." she nodded, a sincere look...



And sooner or later we gotta introduce ourselves anyway...she noted...



***



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



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 XXIV...



LA, the freeway near the landfill hill where the alternates had first materialized...Near midnight...



Hmmn...Dr. Mears frowned to himself as he reluctantly followed Nemesis and Soames towards their destination...The offices of Angel Investigations, best available source of info on the new Earth they'd reached...



Anxious to begin fulfilling her role as a new Buffy for this new Earth as she was, Nemy had been unable to resist letting him know that there was no Mears Corporation on this world...



Guess the Warren of this world hadn't been quite so capable as you, "Pops"...she'd cheerfully noted...



Not really all that a surprise to him, having telepathically encountered his young punk of a counterpart in his earlier probes of the place...Little wuss hadn't seemed to have much to him, at least not until he'd let him know of his great potential...In exchange for what data he could supply on his world...And specifically, his world's Buffy Summers...



Curious that this world's Warren had been nearly ten years younger while the others were apparently about the same ages...But hey, alternate Earth, alternate individual destinies...



Though sadly, Buffy's had apparently been about the same...Death in resealing the mighty hell-goddess Glorificus' little interdimensional portal...But it stood to reason that a hell-goddess would act across the dimensions of the multi-verse.



Pity she hadn't turned to one Mears for help...At least on their own home world...He could've helped her seal the damn thing, he was sure...For the right price, natch...



Like maybe turning a blind eye to the darker side of his little cloning operation...Instead of letting Kat know about his trade in sex clones like dear ole April...



But...He'd had the laugh on her in the end...First with the Hunters, then with Nemesis...Thanks to good ole desperate-to-recover-the-lost-love-of-his-existence Walthrop...And the Watchers' Council, terrified of the demon raids which had begun after Summers' death and Faith's disappearance...



Well...No, whatever laughs the Hunters' creation had provided, Nemesis had never been a joke...She had been the alpha and omega of his work...His greatest achievement and the whole reason for his little career, he realized now...



His dream of perfection and...The only child he was now ever likely to have, excluding his little brace of Warren, Katrina, and Hunter clones, none of whom could match her in ability to function independently...Like a true child...A true...Daughter...



Unless of course things worked out with the Katrina Silber of this Earth...



But even knowing the Mears of this Earth was unlikely to have climbed the heights he had, it still annoyed him that he was no longer the lionized savior of Humanity he'd been back home...



Dumb lazy punk of a Mears...What had the kid been doing with his life?...Why at his age, back home, he'd already finished his doctorate and made his first major discoveries...



This one...Hell, the operator hadn't even been able to find a current address for him in Sunnydale when Nemesis had pressed Soames to try with the change she'd had on her back at the phone...



Just like her...She'd guessed the other was nobody...And set out to rub dear ole dad's face in it...



Perceptive, my little girl...The thought popped up, with an accompanying touch of pride, bizarrely enough...



"Pick it up, Warren..." she looked back at him... "We've only got til sunrise, ya know..."



***



LA, downtown...The empty offices of Angel Investigations...One am...Even Angel having left for his rounds...



"I can do it, Soames..." Nemesis insisted as Soames surveyed the security system with Warren .. "I'll be very careful...I did a fine job back at Mears Corp...No alarm ever caught me..."



That's cause you can outrun every security device, pet...he smiled at her...



"But ole War and I can't...So let us do it the old-fashioned way and disable the system completely before we go in..."



Ok, ok...she nervously fidgeted...



"Guess I'm just not made for waiting..." she gave them both a wan smile...



Never was...Remember William?...she grinned...1880?...he nodded, smiling back...



"I asked him to marry me, Warren..." she explained... "I just couldn't wait...Even if it was a terrible breech of dec...di...(decorum?...Soames suggested...Yeah...she sighed...You gotta get to work on me, Pops...she frowned at Mears)..."



No guarantees...Warren hastily noted...She eyed him coolly...



"I can only work with what's available, Nem..." She glared... "...er Buffy..."



But I'll do what I can...When you get me a place to work...



"Soon enough, Pops..." she turned away him...Clearly thinking some uncomfortable thoughts, Soames realized...



"Buffy...?" As she shared at the wall of Angel's building...Not responding for a long moment...



No guarantees...Never to be Buffy again...Like this forever...Never loved again...Why, God?...Why?...Did I ask for this?...



But there is Soames...William with me again...Always...Immortally...He will stay with me, whatever happens...So long as I at least try...



Until I finally age and die...If Warren left me even that much...And I help him come with me to peace at last...Cicely's quest over at last...



If I have my Will...I can try, no matter what Warren can or can't do for me...



She brushed the thoughts back...



I can be Buffy...They need me here and I can be her again for them...No matter what...At worst, just a little matter of self-control...And I am still the Slayer...Self-control our professional middle name...



"Buffy..." Soames tried again...



"Fine, fine..." she waved a hand...



"Lets do this..."



***



Sunnydale, about midnight...



"Well...Nibs..." William smiled at Dawn...As she and he followed rather anxiously behind the somewhat, and temporarily, weakened (battle with the First having been a strength-draining experience) Buffy...Buffy for her part equally anxious regards both Dawn's having been allowed by her reluctant older sis to come along on Patrol...And how her dealing with vamp-in-law thing is finally gonna work out...



"It was sweet of you to agree about the Maid of Honor thing...It means a lot to Buffy...And me...I hope you know that..."



Yeah, yeah...Dawn waved an annoyed hand... "But I'm not a little moron, I hope you know that..." she frowned...



I know...he grinned...A sudden loud grunt, followed by a crashing sound up ahead, now diverted them...









"Should we...?" Dawn indicated where Buffy had just become engaged in a fight with a rather young female vamp...Little gross, Dawn thought, watching as they move up to the fighters...Buffy a bit winded, falling back from a series of hard, but poorly aimed kicks by the female...She's not much...Hmmn...She watches the dust cloud settle...Er wasn't much older than me...



"Guess not..." Will grinned... "Don't worry about your sis...She's doing fine...And we'll have her back to champion form in no time..."



Buffy dropping back to them, somewhat apologetic looking...Sorry you had to see that one, kiddo...the look she gave to Dawn saying...



"Poor kid's at peace now..." Will nodded...



"Yeah...Maybe that's the best thing that can happen to a vamp..." Dawn pasted an innocent look on her face... "Peace and all, I mean..."



As Buffy gave her a rather icy stare and William a rather sympathetic one...Bit's about to lose more of her sis' already somewhat divided attention after all...Not an easy thing, as he, devoted mother's son that he'd been, could attest...



"Not always..." Buffy said curtly... "C'mon Will...We better scout out in front here a sec...Keep back behind us, Dawn..." Taking his hand firmly...



Buf...William eyed her as they moved along, Dawn clearly in grouse mode behind them...



"She just said you'd be better off staked, William...Howdaya expect me to react?..." she hissed back...



"She didn't mean it...She's just po'd at losing her big sis and fill-in mom...At least she thinks that..." he cut off her hasty attempt to protest... "And the case could be argued...Very persuasively by Giles, no doubt...That a vamp with a soul is better off staked and sent to where he or she can forget the bad old days..."



She halted...A quick look back to see Dawn keeping up...And back to him...A stricken expression...



"Is that what you want, Will?...To be at peace?..." she clearly having considered this one a while...



"Peace is nice..." he nodded... "But I prefer a little now action just right now...A chance to prove William the human soul was worth the effort you and others invested in caring about him..."



And I'm rather looking forward to being Mr. Buffy Summers...he grinned...



"Summers-Walthrop..." she smiled back...Turning to stake a large male vamp, probably the mate of the female she'd just killed, making a rather gallant suicide run...



Another romantic...William stared at the ashes...



For viciously evil killers, vamp demons are sometimes remarkable fools for love...he sighed...



Yeah...Buffy stared as well...Then back at him...



"Tell Spike...You know..." she looked at him... "I'm grateful...And I care..."



"He knows..." William nodded...



"Poor guy...Hope they're together..." Dawn noted, coming up to them as they stood...Apparently discussing some deep matter...From which she was excluded no doubt...



"She was a little young for that one..." Buffy replied...



So are you...Dawn did not say...Just giving a remarkably eloquent stare back...





***



LA, Offices of Angel Investigations...Later, about 1 am...



"You sure your friends' counterparts would have anything on you here?...Your counterpart I mean..." Warren looked at Nemesis and Soames as they cautiously opened files and he stood waiting for a laptop on one of the desks to start up...



"Angel would, if there's anything to keep..." Nemesis pawed carefully through a file drawer...Hmmn...Wolfram-Hart resurrection ceremony...Used for Darla's revival...



Might be useful to copy this one, she noted to Soames...Even if it's not quite what we're lookin' for...



"And Wesley, if he's anything like our Wes was, keeps meta...merti...(meticulous?...Soames suggested...Yeah...Thanks...) Lots of files...On every thing occult...He'd keep Angel..."



Whoa...Soames was pulled up short by a red-flagged...Well, red-tag taped to its top...File...



"The Watchers' Council has been destroyed on this Earth...By minions of the First Evil..." he looked through the file...



Hmmn...Good and bad...Nemesis thought...They won't be on Warren's doorstep as soon as word of his abilities gets out, demanding a line of Buffy clones...But must've been hard for the gang and the new Slayer...Or Faith if she's around...OH!...



"Giles!?..." she looked at Soames... "Any word, there?..."



Whoops...Warren stared at the laptop screen while his companions were occupied...A search for Buffy files had pulled up quite a few, including a full description of Buffy's resurrection by Willow nearly two years ago...



Damn...He hastily closed the open files and with an innocent expression continued searching the databases...Mainly looking for...Uh-oh...



No wonder Soames couldn't find the little schmuck counterpart's home phone earlier...This young Warren was dead...Courtesy Willow and in a rather unique manner...



But a reference to Buffy being shot and gravely wounded...Hope?...Nope...Survived and fighting the First Evil, whoever the hell that was...



"I'm afraid Wes is dead, Buffy..." Soames sighed... "Angel engaged the Black Thorn Circle and he didn't make it...But...Giles is alive...Reorganizing the remnants of the Council as Chairman..." Soames smiled up at her...Oh-oh...



She caught his look immediately...



"That's a shame about Wesley...And Buffy's alive, isn't she?..." she stared at him...



And I am just...she thought...A copy...A bad copy...



He handed her the latest file he'd been reading...Which she took...As Warren continued his own searches, now desperately seeking general knowledge about the world...



"Well..." Nemesis smiled back at Soames... "She beat the First Evil...Nice goin' huh...?" He stared at her as she turned away...



My poor girl...My poor, poor girl...he thought...



"Warren...Whatcha got there?..." she called to him...Rather surprisingly gently, Soames noted to himself...I'd've thought she'd've torn his head off immediately...



"It'll be fine Soames..." she smiled back... "I'm disappointed, sure...But I half-expected it...Like to know how she beat Glory and came back though...If Warren got that much of it right back on our world..."



"I gave you everything I had..." Warren looked up at her as she moved beside him...A quick, pleading look to Soames...Clearly aware his life hung by a thread... "All the data I'd managed to get on this world...She was dead when I probed here and made contact with my counterpart..."



"Just want a gander at what you've found here, Pops..." she patted him... "Don't fret...Just yet..."



"We'll find a place here for us..." she looked over at Soames, he nodding...Somewhere, someway...



"And hey, maybe this Buffy's a selfish bitch, hated by the gang...Who only tolerate her to keep the world safe..." she grinned...



"They might still be glad to see me...Someday...If I can be the Buffy you knew, Soames..."



And...Having a twin sis might not be so bad at that...So long as she's the only one...And not a product of advanced genetic technology...she noted..



Soames eyeing her innocently smiling face...His own clouded...



"I meant what I said, Soames..." she said, simply... "I won't go back on it...Long as you stay with me..."



***





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



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 XXV...



***



Angel Investigations, LA, just after 2 am...



Fortunately, at least from Dr. Mears' point of view...In addition to her insistence that she was not especially upset over learning that she was not the first Buffy to resurrect on this Earth and her desire to make use of his skills to remove some of his "enhancements"to her mind and personality, Nemesis now had other concerns to keep her mind off setting things finally with dear ole "pops"...



Soames had been rather pale and wobbily since their arrival on new Earth and the blood she'd obtained for him apparently had only temporarily improved his condition...Now, as they continued to hurriedly paw through the AI files available for anything potentially useful about the groups in LA and Sunnydale and the state of this Earth in general, he suddenly sat down, looking rather dazed...



"Will...er Soames...?" she looked at him briefly... "You ok?..."



"Tired, that's all pet...Just give me a mo..." he rubbed his head... "I'm fine..." he smiled up at her worried face, patting her hand...



Mears continuing his file and net searches for any useful information...Hmmn, so my punk counterpart made his bid for world domination with that idiot Jonathan and Tucker's brother?...No wonder he wound up flambee a`la Willow...



"So...Whatdaya think we should do next?..." she hastily initiated a discussion of the future with Soames...Not looking at him as he sat, exhausted...



"I mean, we have to find a place where dear "dad" here can work on me..." A nervous glare over to ole "dad"...Eyeing him carefully...What lil' scheme's running in the rat cage of your mind now, pops?... "And some place to live at least until we decide when and how to contact the guys..."



I guess we want to handle that delic..delac...(Delicately?...Soames suggested...Yeah...she nodded)...



"Buffy being around and all the other girls fired up...I guess the demand for a Slayer won't be quite so over..." she paused... "Whelming..." she finished with a grin at both men...



"But hey, an extra Slayer's always a useful thing to have around your world, right?..."



Absolutely...Soames grinned back...Standing a bit stiffly...



"See...Right as rain..." he smiled...



Yeah...she beamed...Yeah...Abso...Abe...



Yeah...she nodded...Moving over to and behind Warren...Who nervously continued his keyboard tapping and mouse manipulation while careful to concentrate now solely on basic information and potentially suitable properties for his new workplace...God, can't believe they still use these things here?...he groused to himself, sighing at the keyboard...Technology must be fifteen to twenty years behind us...



On the other hand, a potential fortune when his completely voice-activated PC line hit the market...



Hmmn...Wonder if they still use real actors on television instead of simbots...?



"So...Pops...What you come up with in all that searching...?" she looked carefully at the screen...



"Mostly just looking for a place to set up my workshop..." he told her, not looking back... "And at the news a bit...There doesn't seem to be any general acknowledgment of...Or much concern about demons' existence here..."



Oh...?...She glanced over at Soames who came to them...



"Hear that, Soames?...No big demon raids here...Guess Buffy and the guys have things pretty much under control..." she frowned a little...Still, an extra Buffy-class plus Slayer must always be handy...And if things were handled right and no suspicions were raised about her life on their old Earth...Maybe, just maybe...She caught Soames' nervous look at her and smiled...No problem, babe...



It will work out, it must...I will make them love me again...Just as I made Soames love me again...



Soames...I gotta speak to Warren...Alone...And then find somebody, Giles or Willow or a doctor who knows about demons...Just in case...Just in case...Cause he's gotta be, he's going to be...Fine...



God couldn't be so cruel...Not after the past two years...The past century...



"You sure you're feeling better, now?..." she took his hand as he stood, looking at the news pages Warren had pulled up...My God, George W. Bush, Jr. President?...How the hell did that...? He shook his head...Well, if you can't run your oil company or your baseball team, why not try politics?...



"Much, lamb..." he nodded... "Just had a little more trouble with the trip than you lot, I guess...But I'm doing better and I'll be fine..."



Yeah, she smiled at him hastily...Ignoring the slight tremors and a coloring that even for Spike was dangerously pale...Well, anyway...



"Our Warren seems to have come up with a preety sizable list of properties, pet..." Soames eyed the computer screen... "I'm sure we'll find something abandoned and useful..."



Yeah...Trust it to good ole pops...she grinned back...



"Within limits, Warren...We do the final approval on any place you find, got it?..."



He gave her a narrow look back, but nodded...Got it...



"Wouldn't have it any other way, Buffy...Couldn't, I suppose..."



She nodded...You got that right, pops...



"Ok then...For now...Well, we'll find a place to sleep in just a bit...I may hafta break into an ATM though...I don't know if the paper money we've got is any good here..."



"I wouldn't try it...Wrong Secretary of the Treasury for most of my bills according to the site here..." Warren tapped the screen... "You might get away with it once, but you'd be tracked down preety quick..."



But...I think I can solve our cash flow problem temporarily...If you'll grant me five more minutes...he grinned...



"And there's now a reservation for three at the Hyatt...With a notice regarding our delayed arrival due to late plane flight..." He tapped a bit more... "There...My old credit card is now activated once more...You and Mr. Walthrop there now have 'replacement' cards enroute to the Hyatt as well..."



Hmmn...She looked where he was pointing in...Well, nice job, Mearsy...she nodded at him...



Though the Buf here already might not take my saddling her with a $10,000 credit line too kindly...



"Deluxe suite... 'Dad's' doing us proud..." she grinned at Soames...



"Guess we'd best go and take advantage of our Warren's skills...Before Angel or one of his people decides to check in here..." she paused...



"Soames...? You wanna go see if you can scoop up some more blood?...Angel must keep some packets around and you've the best nose here for trackin' it down..." a quick smile at him...



I'll "help" dear poppa here finish up his researches...she beamed at Warren...



"Angel probably keeps close tabs on his personal stock, Buffy..." Soames eyed her...



"Eh..." she waved a hand... "He'll put down to a demon makin' a quick smash-and-grab...We can even leave a note... "In your face, Broodo" or somethin' like that...Another demon thumbs his nose at the bloody stupid one for a thrill...He'd never think in a million years it was Buffy and William..."



He rolled his eyes with a chuckle... "Well...Best to leave it a mystery, I'd say..." she gave him a slight mock pout... "All right, back in a mo..." He paused at the door...Eyeing Mears quickly as he looked at her...She nodded...I'll watch him, her look noting...



After all I've done for her...Mears groused internally...But was suddenly startled by her moving to him...A stricken, pleading look on her face that in spite of himself, almost moved him to tears...





"What's wrong with him, Warren?"...she hissed, practically in his ear...Clearly trying to dodge those old super vampire senses of her beau's... "He looks awful..."



So help me, if you did anything...she whispered quietly but harshly...



"It's not my fault...I'm no expert on vampire physiology...It may be some effect of his crossing the dimensional barrier, I don't know...Maybe he'll be fine in a bit...Like jet lag, ya know?..."



"You think so...?" she eyed him... I don't know...she murmured, rubbing her face...



"But you think it's just temporary?..." she turned back to him...



"How should I...?" he stared at her...Her pleading look back tearing at him somehow...Like that first day, when...



"I don't know..." he said simply... "But when you can get me set up, I'll look him over...And maybe one of your friends here...The witch, maybe?...If she is a witch here..."



Yeah...she nodded...



"As long as we can convince them we're not...Dangerous...or evil...They'll help, I'm sure...We just gotta take it slow with them..."



And once you've helped me...It shouldn't be hard for them to see I'm just Buffy...Almost identical to theirs...Only maybe a leetle faster and stronger...she grinned...



"Well, guess you best finish up, Mearsy...Ummn..."...He stared up at her...



"Thanks..." she eyed him... "It's nice of you to offer to look him over...I appreciate it..." she looked away...



Course, I'll kill you if you turn out to have had anything to do with his condition...she smiled faintly...



***





A brief, brilliant glow in the...Very...Early morning air, and a loud crash as something fairly sizable fell into a pile of trash in an abandoned lot in the rundown town of Crestwood, part of Sunnydale really but allowed to have its own independent administration as of fifty years ago...Allowed with considerable enthusiasm on Sunnydalers' part, Crestwood even then having been rather the worst section of old Sunnydale...Now, perched just on the western edge of new Sunnydale and nearer to the blasted Crater sealing the old Hellmouth, it had become something of a haven for vampires and other underdwellers seeking a little relative peace from the Slayer's constant pursuit...Though Buffy did occasionally and with increasing frequency as central Sunnydale became ever more pacified, extend her patrols to the area...



Oh...A battered-looking, moaning Willow...Battered, but dark-haired and -eyed...Emerged from the debris...She paused, exhausted, on the edge of the lot, trying to take the area in...



The third Earth she'd tried, based on what remained of the coordinates locked into the Gateway system console...But perhaps a little more promising than the others...What little data she'd extracted from alternate Warren's console had suggested a second party had made a crossing a few seconds after the initial party...And her current instrumentation, her own modification of the electromagnetic field scanner in Warren's Gateway system suggested a multiple wave pattern had crossed the magnetic field of this world...



She staggered a bit...Still too drained from her recent travels...And battles...To easily heal herself...



Two Earths...Two flat failures...



Still, she'd made the Buffies of those Earths pay for their sister's crimes...One dead, one, severely injured, forced to watch the Dawn and William of her world die in agony...



And she was prepared to continued her campaign through every Earth she could manage to reach until she caught up with Nemesis...



After all, Nemesis hadn't hesitated to murder her clone sisters...Why should she, avenging the deaths of her Tara, Anya, Xander, Giles, and even Dawn...Nemesis was to blame for that too, clearly...Hesitate at killing Nemesis' interdimensional sisters?...Whatever feeble protests the foolishly soft-hearted and -headed Willows and the others...Even the weak-kneed Taras...of these Earths might make...



No...Nemesis was Buffy...Raised beyond any restraint...And so, Buffy...All the Buffies...Must pay for her crimes...They were, after all, all equally capable of becoming her...



If the Powers That Be objected to that...Let them intervene and save the other poor alternate Bufs...In fact she was still willing to call it quits if they'd simply let her catch up with that bitch and destroy her...



Maybe...



Then again, maybe not...



She stumbled into the street and made for what looked like a heavily barricaded convenience store...



God, this can only be Crestwood, she sighed...



***



Downtown LA, 3am...



"Reservation for Mears and party..." Warren smiled at the Hyatt Regency desk clerk...Who stared at the battered-looking group in front of his long reception counter...



A rather frumpy, pudgy, harassed-looking early middle-aged man trying to exclude a brisk and confident air...Rather admirable at 3 am...A pale, wan-looking, rather handsome, slender, brown-blond-haired man in a light black jacket and pants who looked rather like some of those odd types who occasionally haunted the lounge and foyer after dark...Perhaps a bit more exhausted-looking than most, even a little unsteady on his feet...Drunk, perhaps?...And the girl...



Now she more than made up for the deficiencies of her companions...Even at 3 am and worn-looking as she was...Especially in that coat and...Rather unusual, what he could see of Nemesis' silvery Hunter outfit, purloined from the clone sister she'd killed outside clone Warren's lair back on her Earth and worn over her even skimpier singing costume, so carefully chosen by her deceased boss, poor alternate Willie...Dress...



"I'll need to see a..."



"Credit card, certainly..." Warren smiled, handing his card over...



"Sorry if we look a bit out of sorts...Our plane in was delayed, we had to run...My...Sister..." he smiled over at Nemy...Who gave a bright, warm, sisterly smile back... "Even had to go in her costume..."



"Sorry..." she echoed... "We really did have to run to make it here..." And how...she thought...Giving the clerk her sweetest beam...



"Hope we don't look too out of place...I'm terribly emba...em...(embarrassed...Warren filled in...Yeah, thanks...she gave dear brother another sweet smile...)



"Oh, not at all..." the clerk nodded... "Confidentially..." he smiled broadly...Noting the card's approval... "We get people here at all hours in all states...You're way head of the pack..."



And you're all set...Rooms 518, 520...He waved a bellhop...



"Thanks...So much...I really appre...appre...Cia...Appreciate...(she gave an open-hearted, pleased smile to Soames...See, gettin' better all the time...)...it..." a rather seductive smile now...



"Hope everyone in this city's as nice as you..." she waved, taking Soames' arm in hers and turning elevatorward as the bellhop stared at the stack of several medium-sized wood crates this strange party had brought in with them...



The girl'd carried it in like it was nothing...But he couldn't budge it... He signed for extra help...



"I'll give you a hand, mate..." Soames wanly smiled, lifting a crate rather easily to the bellhop's cart...



"Wait, Soames...Lemme..." Nemesis reached for the others, rather effortlessly placing them on the cart with the others....The wheels sinking a bit under the load...



Hmmn...I've really gotta start workin' out in the gym...the bellhop thought, staring at the attractive little blonde...



"I think we'll be taking room service for breakfast, yes..." Warren noted to the clerk...



"Room service?...Oh, yeah...!" Nemesis called back to them... "Hey, Soames...Breakfast in bed..." she nudged him...



Life on new Earth ain't startin' out so bad at all...



"My sis and her husband are kinda still on honeymoon..." Warren explained...



"Course...?" The clerk and Warren jumped at Nemy's sudden, incredibly swift return to the desk... "Sorry...But, 'course...You do have my brother's room right next to ours, right?..." she smiled at the clerk...



"Of course..." he nodded, smiling back... "Right next door..."



"Great..." she happily patted Warren...Glancing at him... "Cause we're a very close family circle, us three..."



***



New Sunnydale...The Summers'...3am...



"I really do have to go, Buffy...You've got to get some sleep..." William smiled at her gently, pulling her arms away carefully as she clung to him...



And even I need my beauty rest...



"Don't go..." she whispered... "There's no need for you to go...God knows, Dawn has to get used to this..."



Stay with me...Don't leave me...Ever again...she murmured...



"Harris will stake me if he finds me showing up at six or so to get my clothes..." he noted...



"It's already too late, he'd stake you now..." she grinned...



True enough, he realized...



"I'll take you later...C'mon...Be a good fiancee, William...Stay..."



We can see another sunrise together...she smiled...



"No, we will not...Not today anyway...If I stay..." he paused...She beamed... "You've got to promise to sleep in...Get some rest before we head out..."



"Can't have you looking worn out when we arrive in LA tomorrow night...Me being your new Watcher...Not to mention...Almost...Husband...Honor of the Council and the family name at stake and all..."



"I'll do the Walthrop name proud..." she nodded... "If you'll stay..."



"Oh, for God's sake, William...Tell her you'll stay...And then clam up so we can get some sleep...!" Dawn called down to the basement from the living room where she'd been trying to keep awake, ostensibly planning to "camp out" with three of the five SITs still living with the Summers...



"See...Even Dawn's ok with it..." Buffy grinned...



Well, if future sis-in-law's seal of approval is on it...



***



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



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 XXVI...



Room 520, the Hyatt hotel, LA...Next morning...



A startled Warren awoke to find a cheery Nemesis standing at the foot of his bed, tray in hand...Breakfast, pops...she happily announced...



"What time is it?..." he blinked at her, groaning...



"7:30..." she smiled, bright-eyed and chipper...Eyeing him carefully...



"Oh..." he moaned...Jesus, after last night you might have let me sleep in a little...



"Sorry..." she smiled... "Just wanted to make sure my dear papa was still with us..."



And I didn't want your breakfast to get cold...Room service here costs enough...she grinned...



"Ok...You know I'm still here...Can you give me a few moments privacy to eat in peace and get myself together?..."



"Aw, pops..." she smiled at him... "You're gonna hurt my feelings...You know how responsive I am to your moods...Thanks to you..." she eyed him...



"But ok, fifteen minutes...Then start getting dressed, cause we're going hunting for a new place for you to work..." but, underneath the briskness, he caught a slight...



Well, after the bad news about Buffy being alive here and all...And Walthrop's condition...



"Soames...?" he looked up at her...



Fine...she beamed... "A little pooped yet...But I took it slow with him last night...And this morning..." she looked away, a sly grin...



"I think he'll be just fine...In a bit..." she nodded... "And he's preetty happy this morning..." she beamed...



"We'll have to test Willow's old daylight protective spell a little...It might not work as well here..." she noted... "But you and I could always go out alone together if we had to..."



Hmmn...he stared at her...Out for a stroll in alternate LA alone with my little Nemesis...



Don't think I'd bet money on my survival...



"Maybe we can get a line on the Willow and Giles here while we're out...Especially if Soames stays behind...And later on, I can try and make contact..."



Soames gets a leetle nervous when I talk about meetin' up with the guys...she noted, a slight frown...



Why do I have this sudden urge to tell her it'll be ok?...And that I'll talk to him...Warren thought...









"Anyway..." she waved her annoyance at her own true's lack of faith off... "We might even find some other demon experts on our travels..."



So it'll be fine...She stared at him...Looking to him, of all people, he thought, for reassurance...



"The William of this world's alive you know..." he eyed her a moment, sitting up...She stared back... "Trust you to think of something like that, pops..." she said coldly, turning dark, grim...So quickly that he couldn't prevent a terrified look from coming on his face...Fortunately, for the moment, that was enough to satisfy her...



"But then, I know you...And maybe the Giles and Willow here...Will help me take care of my Will..." she smiled coolly... "And so, he'll be fine..."



Or else...her smile turned sweet...



"Enjoy your breakfast, "Dad"...Or should I say...Brother?...I'll be back..." she called as she reached the door and went out...



***



Crestwood, 7:30 am...



Overreached myself pushing on to this Earth, alternate Willow thought as she made her way into an abandoned house...I'm practically running on empty...Ow!...she caught a splinter as she pulled back a nailed board...



She looked around...Hmmn...I dunno...This place looks like a...



But I can't go a step further without some sleep...A board creaked and she turned...Whoa!...Guess my senses are down...She eyed her newly-entered companion...Double whoa!...Great...



"Well...Whatda we got here?..." a large, dark-haired female vamp...Thirtish in appeared...Eyed the wiccan...Sniffing...



"Breakfast, I'd say..." she grinned...Hey, Cheryl...she called...A tall, blonde female...Likewise vamp...Emerging from a darkened back room...



Hmmn...alternate Willow stared at the first, heavy-set vamp...Isn't that the big meter maid who used to ticket everybody to get her score up...? Guess here, at least, she finally pissed the wrong driver off...



***



Sunnydale...8 am...



Well...Dawn stared at the door to the Summers' basement...



There's no fighting fate...



Will is, the soul at least, a good and decent man...And on the way to being a rather damn good provider...



Buf is happy...Hell, she's radiant...



And they could adopt if all else fails...



Crap...What the hell am I doin'?...There's gotta be a way to stop this insanity...



And yet...It's so god-damned romantic...And there have been so many times in the past, before I really understood what a Spike was capable of...



My bro-in-law...Hell...



Well...Not Spike, as Buf would insist...Holding me down and forcing me to agree...



William...



William who's suffered so much...But how could such a good man...Deep in his subconscious even...



Be a Spike?...



Then again...How could a Spike have been what he became these past two years?...And give up everything to make Buf happy?...



Maybe Xander's right and I should rent "Forbidden Planet"...That "monsters from the id" sounds more right now than I wanted to admit then...And if the Hellmouth really is shut down...



But it's all so...As if a piece is missing...Something that drew them together...Some explanation...Some...



Demonic spell, her eyes narrowed...She felt the basement door with her hand...



Well, maybe not...And I'd hardly look the part of confrontational sis, saving her older sis from Evil in these teddy-bear pjs...



SIT Brenda strolled in, yawning in her favorite worn blue Dr. Denton's...Hey...yawn...Dawn...she brushed her long blonde hair back... "Guess we made the cut for early breakfast...For once..." she began with a grin...



Whoops...she eyed the junior Summers, standing by the basement door...Looking solemn...Impressively so, considering her pjs...



Poor kid...she thought...Geesch, 'bout time I called home again and checked on Mom and my lil' sis...



Maybe Jonathan would take me back sometime this summer for a visit...Mr. Giles would surely give me a little time off from my "internship"...And Mom and Claire are anxious to see me...And meet him...



If I can ever convince him that we're a couple...My sweet, modest to a glaring fault, John...



"Things ok?..." she asked kindly...Dawn blinking back at her...Ok?...My sis is running off to LA in a few hours with the vampire lover who nearly raped her...Hell, she's marrying that vampire, you clod...



"Fine..." Dawn nodded, sighing...



The basement door opened...A wan-looking Buffy...Dawn looked at Brenda...Does she look...? Casting a surreptitious glance at her sis' neck...



Well, no new marks...That I can see...



Buffy stared at the two... "What time is it?..." she asked...Looking around...



Eight...Brenda replied...



"You don't look good, Buffy..." Dawn frowned... As in, what the hell did that monster do to you?...she thought...Tensing a bit...



"I didn't sleep much last night..." Buffy sighed...Ummn...I mean...she hastily looked at her sis and the SIT...



"Bad dreams...Strange ones..." she explained...Uh-huh...Dawn glared...Gee, trouble in Paradise with the blonde bad-boy?...she sulked to herself...



All about William and me...Buffy went on...Strange...I saw...she stared at the wall...



"I saw him die..." she shook her head sadly...



"And I knew...Somehow...I caused it..." she stared at her hands as the others stared at her...



***



Crestwood...8 am...



"So...You two understand what I need and are gonna help me?..." alternate Willow eyed the two vamps...



Yes, Mistress...they nodded...



"The spell I've given you will let you out in daylight for about two hours...And let you pass for human if you encounter anyone sensitive to vamps...Make you sure you renew it when you feel it beginning to fade...But it can only be renewed once in a day so plan your moves accordingly..." she told them...



Yes, Mistress...they nodded...



"All right...There's no point in your leaving before places are open in Sunnydale, so just sit tight and keep a watch out until nine-thirty or so while I sleep...Then you'll head for Sunnydale and check things out as I've told you...Got it, girls?..."



Yes, Ma'am...



"And remember...While you're out today...You're human...No killing, no feeding...You're simply two nice, polite, friendly graduate students who want to collect material on the history of Sunnydale, on the occult, and the other subjects I've mentioned...Do we got that clear?..." she looked them over...Hmmn...



"You two better stop at a clothing store first and get something a little less like it's been worn for days in graves...Plus some notebooks and pens...You got money?..." Oh, yeah...Mistress...Cheryl replied eagerly...We got plenty off a couple of guys last night... "Well...Ok, then...So you'll do it the perfectly legit way...And get something nice and normal...For two nice graduate students, ok...?"



Yes, Ma'am...they nodded...



Thank God I had just enough Dawny power from the other Earths' Dawns left to put them under...she sighed to herself...I really could use a little help scouting things out here...I wanna take it slow until I know what's up...



Cause in addition to the little bit of real data I got, I've a feeling about this Earth...



***



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



Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html...or direct to story at www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/BN1.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... (Obviously this one follows a different course of events in the s7 battles with the First, not to mention in LA...But then, you're in another corner of the Cicelyverse, after all...And this one was started well before "Chosen", etc...)



Part XXVII...



New Sunnydale, morning...The Summers' living room...



"Well...This is very nice...Haven't done this sort of thing in...God knows how long..."



Uh-huh...And dead silence...



"In fact, now that I think about it...Has to have been...Thirty years since I last got up early for breakfast..." Hmmn...Maybe best to leave out the details as to what he and Dru'd had for breakfast that morning...



Nice...A frown...



"Buffy will be back...When?..."



"I don't know...Whenever she finishes with Giles..." A curt answer, followed by glare...Not bad, he thought eyeing her...Especially in those teddy bear pjs...



"Ah...Well...Maybe I should fire up Willow's spell and..."



She said for you to stay here...Grimly...



"Right...Well, guess she wants me to conserve our daylight time today..."



Uh-huh...



"Dawn..." William sighed... "You and I have to talk...About all of this..."



She looked at him as he sat, breakfast plate in hand...



"Oh, yeah?..." and looked away...



As Andrew, SITs Brenda and Sophia following, entered...A look of slight disapproval forming on Andrew's face as he scanned their plates...



"What's the matter?...Why aren't you eating?...Dawn...?" he frowned...Waving spatula...



"Buffy said for you to eat...Tell her to eat, Will..."



She gave a withering glare...Tell me to eat...Will?...



"He's not telling me to do anything!...Who the hell is he to tell me to do anything?!!...What's wrong with you clods?!!...You want a vampire to be my...!!!" she paused...



Ummn...Andrew stared at her, then William...The SITs quietly retreating back to the kitchen...



"Buffy said..." he looked at Will again... "It's just what she said..."



"It's fine Andrew..." Will nodded... "Nibs doesn't mean anything by..."



"Goddamn you!..." Dawn shrieked, hopping up... "Who the hell told you could...?...Where the hell do you get off...?" she choked up in fury...



He stared at her...A rather cold Spike aspect to his look...She quieted a bit...



"Sorry...I meant... 'I don't believe you mean anything by yelling at your guests'..." he turned back to Andy...



"Dawn and I have a little talking to do, Andrew...But as I said...I don't believe she meant anything, please don't take it as such...And thanks, this is the best breakfast I've had in quite a while..."



***





LA...Angel Investigations...Morning...









"You're sure about this, Charlie...Fred...?" Angel held a hand over the phone, calling to his operatives...Charlie nodding as he sighed over his precious files...Definitely been manhandled...Definitely recently...Illyria scanning the security files...Oh, yeah...she nodded to him...A grateful smile at the unconscious 'Fred'...



Charlie surreptiously giving her the thumbs up...Knowing how much it meant to her...



"They've been examined, Angel..." Gunn told him... "Quite recently...The computer files as well...Though whoever used the computer was quite skillful in covering his or her tracks..."



Wish whoever might have been as careful with my files...Not only a few stuffed in backwards, but...Is that blood?...He examined the drops on the "Sunnydale, more recent activity..." file...Good, blood I can remove, thanks to past experience...Jam would have been a problem...



"Security says the cameras and alarm must have been deactivated for at least a few seconds...Probably much longer, but a very good job in covering the gap..." Illyria noted...



"And this one shot...?" Angel tapped the computer printout of a digital image... "There's no doubt it's real?...Not a phony?..."



"They must've missed our exterior camera...Probably didn't think we'd bother with one..." Illyria nodded...Ok, Angel sighed...Turning back to the phone...



"There's no doubt about, Giles...Someone did break in here last night...Or early this morning, rather...And one of them...Was either Buffy or her identical twin..."



Charlie eyed Illyria...



"Would the "First" photograph, Charles?..." she hissed...He shrugged as Angel held up a hand...Guys...Just a min...



"Could the First be out and about...So soon, Giles?..."



Illyria shaking her head...Impossible...Unless she's contravened every law of Meta- as well as Standard Physics...According to my Winifred, she noted to Gunn...



"Alright...I'll have the place scanned for mystic energy traces, just in case...But we'll work on the assumption that it's someone or thing else...Maybe some kind of morpher who needed data on Buffy...Or us..."



Hopefully us...Gunn, sitting at computer, thought...Hate for the Sunnydalers to leave us completely in the dust...



"But you are sure, Giles?...She and William didn't leave early...?"



The happy couple jumping the gun?...But why hit us?...Gunn looked at Illyria...Who pondered...



"Always wise to gather information on one's allies...They may turn against you tomorrow...As mine did..." she noted...



Or I on them...Sheepishly look... "It's a little hard to remember now..." Charlie giving sympathetic pat...



Know what it's like to lose a bit of your brain, girl...



"Oh...Hello, Buffy..." Angel raised a hand at the guys...Scratch that one, they looked at each other...A staffer entering the room...A quick negative shake of his head...Nothing missing anywhere, nothing else disturbed...



So whoever was only after information, Gunn...And Illyria...thought...



"Yeah...Looks like you've got another fan who likes to play you, kiddo..." Angel smiled at the phone... "Better be on guard today...You're coming here might be triggering some new fellow's plan...Possibly even Dru is involved..." he paused...



"So..." Gunn and Illyria looking over as they caught the slight tone in his voice...



"How's the happy groom?...He ready to be congratulated...?...And warned...?"



Illyria giving a slight, sad smile at Charlie...Our Angel...Quite a guy...One can quite easily find it in one's...Human section, at least...Heart to pass on the customary accusation of cowardice for not challenging the opposing suitor to a deathmatch...Gunn watching his face, trying not to look overly anxious to see his ridiculous Buffy fixation finally put to rest...



Nothing against the skinny little...But Nina's a peach...



"Well, make sure you two come here after you check in...Lets not take any chances...Ok...? ...Right...And Buffy, give him my best...I mean that...Ok, Giles...Wes will report in any developments or info we get on our intruder today...Lets keep in close touch in case our Buffy copy resurfaces here or your way...Bye..." he hung up...



"Alls well in sunny Sunnydale?..." Gunn asked kindly...



"It wasn't her...And Giles says the First is too drained to manifest here for centuries at least...We're dealing with someone who likes to imitate Buffy Summers and needed all the data they could get from us..." he hurriedly replied...



Angel...Illyria eyed him...



"I'm fine, Winifred...Honestly...And I am glad for her...God knows she deserves some happiness if he can manage it...Him, too if it's all true..." A smile to Charlie as well...



You bet he's fine...Finally got all this silliness out of his head, Illyria thought contentedly...Two unconsciously casual uses of her human name having delighted her...Not that I would ever run the noble Slayer Queen down...First-beater and all, worthy foe even of me in my prime...Just...



Blondes...They're well, shallow...It's no wonder she didn't stick by him...And maybe for the best if she mates with her own kind...



Just as, perhaps...Those of the Brunette race should...She gave him a kindly beam, glancing at Gunn...



Charlie not yet having had time to review in detail some of Humanity's more ridiculous prejudices...And Winifred having been raised by a family determined to ignore them...



"A gramps should be glad to hear his grandson's made good..." Angel grinned wanly...



***



The Hyatt...Morning...



A slight groan from under the bedcovers as Nemesis crawled up from where she'd just climbed back into her bed with Soames...



"Hiya, there..." Nemesis...Tapping the sheet Soames had drawn over his head...



"We got some time...Warren's got his breakfast together...He'll be a little while..."



She tugged at the sheet...Soames?...A low moan...



"You ok?..." a slightly anxious note creeping in...



"Fine..." a sigh...



"You don't wanta...?" she paused...A slight flush on her beautiful face...Ummn...



Course we been at it a while...And he was still kinda tired...



"We could just cuddle if you're tired, honey..." she hastily noted...



Cuddlin's fine...she grinned...



Thanks...he sighed...Pulling the covers back...Hi...he wanly grinned...



Hey...she smiled...Oh...!...She turned to the curtains...Phew, not moved, thank goodness...



"I did my spell anyway..." he smiled at her nervous face... "I think it's working...I tried a little arm exposure while you were away..."



"You shouldn't have done that, Will..." she frowned...Lemme see...she grabbed the arm he offered...Ok...



"Next time, wait for me before you try anything like that..." she stared at him... "We can't be sure about anything here..."



And I can't...I won't...Lose you...she did not say...But he had no need to hear the words, looking at her anxious expression...



And this...This...Is the murderess who killed nearly all her poor sisters and dozens of others who got in her way besides...And most of my "family" of sorts...He stared deeply into her...She staring back, realizing...



"I did...What I did, Soames...But that was then...There...And this is now...Here..."



"Believe in me, Soames...Please..." she continued her return stare... "Please...I won't let you down..."



***



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



Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html...or direct to story at www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/BN1.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... (Obviously this one follows a different course of events in the s7 battles with the First, not to mention in LA...But then, you're in another corner of the Cicelyverse, after all...And this one was started well before "Chosen", etc...)







Part XXVIII...







"Explain it to me, Nibs...When I was a mad demonic killer, you used to ask Buffy why I wasn't her boyfriend whenever you found us together, even after you learned we were trying to kill each other...When I was barely restrained by the chip you and me were best buddies and you thought Buffy was being "too hard" on me...After she died, I was the only member of the team you'd let Botty use as a sitter...And even when she and I...Spike anyway...Were together that year after she came back...You didn't... "



I was just keepin' an eye on you!...she frowned... "And I didn't need a sitter back then with Botty..." she looked over at the kitchen...No one in eyesight at least...But probably all listening and making mental CDs...



Dawn...he shook his head...



"Now my soul's free and in control again...Buffy's not afraid to love me and I think, if you'll pardon me...I've done a little..." she glared at him... "I said 'a little', Nibs, as in, nowhere's near enough but something...To earn that trust...And you seem suddenly determined to label me dust-worthy..."



"You tried to rape her, Spike...!...And..."



"Exactly...Spike tried to rape her..." he paused...Staring at her set face, he sighed...All right, leave that for now...



"As to the rest...And...?... 'And' she showed me she cared...?...That she could...Does...Love me...At least the William in me...?"



"Is that what's really eatin' at you, Nibs...?...That she's dropped her guard and let me in?..."



Sorry...he eyed her furious face... Poor choice of phrase...



"I haven't quite got back into my ole human/poetic stride...I meant in the emotional sense..."



"It didn't matter...All that much...Then..." Dawn spoke coldly, looking away from him, at the far living room wall... "It wasn't her heart that was involved then...She needed you while she healed..."



He tensed a bit...



"I beg to differ, Ms. Summers..." it was his turn to turn on the ice glare...And here, his century's experience came in handy...



"My girl never involves herself with anyone without involving her whole heart...Even if, thank God, she has the brains to keep it under wraps...She knew what was at stake and had every reason not to take the risk...And good reason to believe that even with the best intentions, her blonde vamp boyfriend would one day try to turn her, even out of some twisted kind of love..."



"And you won't?..." Dawn sneered...



Ah...he smiled...This one... "Old topic, Niblett...And one you once took my side on, I might point out..."



"What?!..."



" 'Buffy...It's wrong to kill him for when he couldn't help himself '..." he quoted... A remark I'm not at all sorry Spike overheard, hiding in your basement one night...he grinned...



I was a kid then...she glared back...I didn't really know what you were capable of...



"You never asked her to spare Angelus, did you?..." he eyed her...



***



The Hyatt, LA...8 am...



After, as Nemesis noted cheerily, a generous thirty minutes...Fifteen to eat, fifteen to shower and dress...As she knocked at Mears' hotel room door...



"Time to get moving and enjoy this beautiful day, Poppa..." she opened it with a rush...Fortunately not locked...Shame to have broken a locked door off its hinges after the staff here'd been so nice...she smiled at him...On the floor doing set-up exercises...



"Gettin' in shape for the chall...churn...(Challenges?...he suggested...Yeah...she darkly glared...) Of our new Earth, Mearsy?...Well, glad to you're all dressed and so rarin' to go..."



Got our list of potential workplaces...Hot off our room computer...



"Soames?..." he looked up at her...



"Our new credit cards were delivered a few minutes ago...You don't mind if I keep yours, Pops?...I wanna stick to using yours while we're out...I don't want poor new Earth Buffy to find her and Dawn saddled with another huge bill...And trying to track it down..." she hurriedly replied...



"Soames is still kinda pooped...And I'm not sure of that daylight spell of our Willow's workin' here for any length of time...He'll do what research he can for us here while we're out..."



So it'll be you and me, Pops...Like the ole days...she grinned...



"The old days..." he sighed suddenly...



"I still dream about them...I dreamt about them last night..." Warren looked at her...



The fourteen...I see their poor, kids, faces...And the older ones...



A hard, cold look on her face forming as she stared back...



He waved a hand...For once, not even the imminent menace of her angry presence was quite enough to stop him...



"It's me they're looking to..." he explained simply... "This isn't about you..."



Something in his voice...Some note of unMearsian sorrow, even...Shame?...Made her back down a little from her anger...



"What...Do they say to you...?" she stared at him...He blinked at her, startled a bit...



"They...Call me 'Father'...That's all..."



Father...he stared at the wall...A single tear suddenly running down his cheek...She came close to him and touched it...



"Even you..." she sighed...



***





New Sunnydale...The Magic Box...



Giles stared at Buffy...Who shook her head...



"Here we go again..." she sighed...



"It's just possible it's Drusilla..." he noted...



If she's caught on psychically to your plans to find her...She may have resorted to something a bit more elaborate in her efforts...



"It would be just like Dru to try and take my form...To punish Will..." Buffy nodded...



But somehow...I don't think it's her...



"All my readings of the Hellmouth...And those Willow and I took of the First's energy output indicate that she can't be involved..."



"So...We gotta new baddie...Who's a fan..."



Well...Ya know what they say about imitation...she grinned wanly...Hmmn...she thought a moment...



"It might be a bot...Something Warren left behind, the way he abandoned poor April-bot to fend for herself..." she eyed the new Chairman...And twice-over, Boss of bosses...Hope I wasn't too rough on him and Willow in the business negotiations the other day...



Be just like Mears, the little schmuck...To have kept a spare Buffy bot around after Spike gave him my specifications...she frowned...



"Right now...It might be anything..." Giles pointed out...



"All the more reason for Will and me to get headed out for LA..."



Yes...he paused, nodding... "I'm afraid I have to concur...Though you may want to find a way to distinguish yourself from this one..." he gave a wan smile...



"I'll have my honey in tow..."she grinned... "And I'll wear a "Buffy the Human-accept no substitutes" tag...



If it is a leftover bot...she sighed...Hope I can get to it quick before Will sees it...Poor guy'll be all guilty...



"I can remember a time when you were ready to kill him for having Warren make that other..."



"No..." she shook her head... "Never...If I'd wanted to kill him...Spike would've dusted long ago...And he knew it, which is why...Until he came to love me...He hated me so much..."



He knew I was holding back...And maybe...she paused...Maybe...Somewhere in him...He knew why...



"A single dream..." Giles came over to her as she stared intently at the opposite wall... "Doesn't necessarily mean..."



"This has been coming on for a while, Giles..." she shook her head... "I've had other dreams...Dreams I didn't tell any of you about...Even before I died again...I didn't dare...Thought you'd think I was either crazy or sluttily obsessed with Blonde-boy..."



And there was always the chance he was using something on me...But it was enough to push Riley and me apart...she looked up at him...



"He knew I was feeling for William...And that it couldn't just be residual from Willow's spell...Learned it the hard way..." she smiled gently as Giles sat next to her, a questioning look...



"I woke up screaming his name on several occasions when Mr. Finn happened to be present..."



And, not in the context of ... "Spike, you maniac I'm gonna kill you for killing my friends!..."...I might add...



"And that night, when he told me...In the bar...About how he'd killed his Slayers...And a tiny, tiny bit about his past...I..."



I filled in the blanks...Saw him back then...Not Spike...William...I saw him...And I knew...I felt...Ya know, the deja-vu thing...And all that year, after I came back...And now, last night...



"I knew him before, Giles...I knew him and somehow...I caused his death..." she said quietly, looking at her hands...As he reached to gently pat her...



"Help me, Giles...There must be a way..."



"I hafta know..." she stared at him...



***



LA, The Hyatt, Nemesis' and Soames' room...



Hmmn...Soames eyed the computer screen as he typed...



Just how does one describe my symptoms without giving the game away...Even to a practitioner at least claiming to be an expert on the supernatural...



Still, I don't think I can approach ye ole family practioner with this one...



He rubbed his weary face...Well, all one can do is give it one's all...And even demon doc must have complete information to make an accurate diagnosis...He typed away, noting his growing weakness, lack of appetite, even for his primary nutrient source...And included a brief description of their dimensional crossing...



Well...At least if this one's a fake...He'll just laugh me off and offer me a cure for several grand...And I have to find someone...Even if I have to risk making contact with this world's Willow or Rupert or even ole Angel...Before this gets any worse...



I can't leave her alone here...



***





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





Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html...or direct to story at www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/BN1.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... (Obviously this one follows a different course of events in the s7 battles with the First, not to mention in LA...But then, you're in another corner of the Cicelyverse, after all...And this one was started well before "Chosen", etc...)



Part XXIX...



New Sunnydale, the Magic Box...



Giles paused in reviewing the procedures available for probing lost memories...Both mystical and psychiatric...With Buffy as several customers entered the store, followed by Willow and Kennedy...



Hey...Willow waved, coming over, Kennedy in tow...She stared at her friends' solemn faces...



"Any problems?...Is everything ok?...William?..." she looked at Buffy...



"Will's fine...Just a little puzzle Angel called us with...And a few last-minute trip things..." Buffy eyed Giles...



Seems there's another me out and about in the Big City...she smiled...



Two of the customers who'd preceded Willow and Kennedy into the store were now staring over...Mainly at Willow as Kennedy noted, catching their stare...She nudging her honey... "Friends...Or something...of yours?..." she hissed... Willow returning a sour frown...What 'something'?...



Fortunately, alternate Willow had alerted her servants to the possibility of their encountering her counterpart...They both quickly gave bright, eager graduate student smiles at the gang by the research area...



"Wonderful place you folks have here..." the taller of the two, blonde Cheryl, called...



"We're students doing a report on the history of the occult movement and we were wondering if we could ask a few questions about how you got your stuff together and the shop's history?...When any of you are free...?" the shorter, Gretchen chimed in...



"We'd be very glad to speak with you...In just a bit..." Giles nodded at them pleasantly...Thanks, they beamed at him...



Willow?...he looked at her... "Would you be willing to help the ladies?...Buffy and I will be occupied for a little while..."



"Yeah..." Kennedy grinned at her... "Strut your 'history of the occult' stuff, Rosenberg..."



"Sure, Giles..." she nodded... "Gimme a sec, guys?...Have a seat...?" she eyed the two eager...Hmmn, the short one looks a little familiar somehow?... 'students'...And waved them to the research table...



"No problem..." Gretchen smiled, ... "Appreciate your helping us out like this..." "Ri...ght..." Willow smiled back...Dragging Kennedy over to a bookrack, just out of...human...earshot...



"What the hell 'or something'?..." she hissed to Kennedy... Well...the Slayer smiled... "You are a cutie, Rosie...I don't 'pect to be the only girl on your dance card..."





"What?...Geesh...Maybe that's the way you do it in that den of iniquity, 'Looonnng Island'...But here in good ole sensible California..."



"That's my straight and narrow Rosie..." Kennedy beamed...



"Shudup..."



***



LA, about 9 am...



"Well...?" Nemesis eyed her dear ole...As Warren looked carefully round the battered warehouse...Landlord, a bored-looking mid-30s balding type, more interested in returning to his interrupted breakfast than business just now...



Hard to believe anybody would want a dump like this...In this neighborhood...Especially a, as his girl? had called him... "scientist"...?



"It might do..." Warren curtly replied...Looking up at the yawning owner... "Is there a 220 line in here?..." The man pondered...And shrugged... "Think so..."



"There..." Nemesis pointed, her extraordinary eyes having found the socket in the darkness...



Right, thanks...Warren beamed...My little Nemy...A sharp eye and no slouch in technical matters, whatever her problems with big words...



"Just whadaya want the place for anyhow?...You're planning to set up a lab here, Frankenstein...?" the owner eyed Warren, chuckling...



Amusing, asswipe...Dr. Mears glared...And if I had one of my more obliging clones here with me right now...



Nemy took the man in hand with a measured smile...Just seductive enough... "My brother's hoping to start a little biotech company...If things in his research pan out...It could really lead to some useful stuff..."



Oh...? the man smiled at her, a trifle less bored now..Hard not to smile at Nemesis...



"Yeah...Warren's just aching to benefit Humanity...And maybe the local neighborhood..." she came beside the landlord...Oh, crap...Please don't kill him...Yet...Warren thought, watching...



"And you, too...Naturally..." she grinned up at him...A gently sweet chuckle...And a deep, innocent stare...



"Though I hope you'll go easy on us the first few months...We'll need time to make a profit..." she now patted his hand...



"Sure, sure...Glad to get someone in here...'Specially if it'll help pick things up around here..."



"Oh, things'll pick up with me around..." she laughed... "At least if I get to see more of you when we come in..."



Uh...A blink...



"I mean you being so close by and all...I'm sure you'll be wanting to check in and see how we're doing...Me and Warren and his partner..."



Christ, Buffy?...Do we want this clown sticking his nose in our business everyday?...And he's sure to after your little invite...Warren thought, glaring at them...



"And if things do work out...You'd be in position to know which new biotech firm you want to invest in, right...? Being so close..." she looked away a second... "To the members of the firm and all..."



Uh...Yeah...



Great...she beamed...Turning to her dear bro... "Warren?...Do we have a deal?..."



"We'd give the first two months in advance, 'course..." she turned back to her rather flustered companion...Oh yeah...Guess money would be nice too...he thought...



"It'll do..." Mears nodded...Frowning at the balding goon who was making puppy eyes at his...Well, whatever she was to him...



"Now all we need is to pick up some equipment and our stuff...And heck..." she beamed at her admirer... "We could get running by tonight...If only..." she paused...He stared, anxiously attending her words now...



"I don't sup...pose..." she looked up at him... "I mean, if you're not using that truck of yours you had parked in your driveway...?"



I mean renting it for the day, of course...she smiled...



"Absolutely...Hey...Maybe I could give you a hand, if you're that anxious to get set up quick..."



Hmmn...Warren looked round again...Then again, if it were me...Even without a Nemy Buffy hanging on me, long as I got a valid card payment I wouldn't bother with a credit check to get this craphole rented...



***



The Magic Box...Morning...



"So..." Cheryl smiled warmly at Willow who sat with Kennedy beside her, across the table from the two "graduate students"... "All this talk about Hellmouths and Slayers and monsters must be good for your business?..."



"Doesn't hurt..." Willow nodded...Giving a quick, slightly anxious glance to Giles' office door...Awfully quiet in there...



"I've heard..." Gretchen now smiled with equal warmth... "That your friend in the office there...The blonde girl...Is the Slayer herself?...I mean, in the wild stories you heard round town before the Big One..."



Oh?...Willow eyed her carefully...Trying lightly to sense...Hmmn...Seems fully human...



"They say that about a lot of girls in this town these days..." she smiled back... "Even my honey here..." she patted Kennedy...Who frowned at her...Cheryl and Gretchen staring...



"I think they're talking about the toughness of the native Sunnydale girl..." Willow lamely concluded, with a grin... "We're all... 'Slayers' round here, you know...Kind of a nickname, especially since the Big One..."



Mmmn...Cheryl nodded, eyeing Gretchen... A lot of Slayers, eh...



"Are any others named Buffy?..." she asked lightly... Willow blinking...



Ummn...Not that I know of ...she eyed Kennedy...Ah...Gretchen nodded...



"Now as to this 'Hellmouth'?..."



A faint cry from within the office...And a loud crash...Willow and Kennedy hopped up...



"Watcher!...Murderer!!..." a shriek... "I'll kill you all!!..."



Buffy with a British accent..? Willow looked at Kennedy as they reached the door...Locked...



"After you..." Willow nodded to her SIT girl...



"Buffy!..." Giles' voice, gasping...Kennedy threw the door open...



A furious, raging Buffy held Giles by the throat...Lifting him... "Buffy!..." Willow screamed...









"Wi...llow..." Giles gasped as Kennedy tried to intervene and Buffy tossed her back..."Crys...tal..."



Willow grabbed at the glowing crystal on his desk...White hot, burning her hand...



"Bastards!!!...Murderers!!!!..." Buffy cried...In a distinctly British accent...



***



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



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



...or direct to story at www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/BN1.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... (Obviously this one follows a different course of events in the s7 battles with the First, not to mention in LA...But then, you're in another corner of the Cicelyverse, after all...And this one was started well before "Chosen", etc...)





Part XXX...



The Magic Box, midmorning...



Kennedy grabbed at the raging Buffy as she held Giles off his feet now, visibly choking... "Murderer...Watcher..." she grimly muttered through clenched teeth...As Willow grabbed in turn for the glowing crystal on his desk...Kennedy knocking Buffy off-balance, causing her to release her grip on Giles who fell to the floor...



"You...!" Buffy whirled...Eyeing the dark-haired, powerful female who'd robbed her of her revenge...Momentarily...Yes, it could only be...



"Drusilla..." she trembled with rage...Moving on a Kennedy desperately taking a defensive stand as Willow smashed the white-hot crystal to the floor...Yeow!...she grabbed at her burned hand...Briefly looking down at the fragments...Geesh, what was he using?...Then quickly up at Buffy...



Buffy halted, staring...Blinking at Kennedy in her defensive crouch...Then at Willow, now kneeling by the fallen Giles...



"Willow?..." she looked at Giles now... "Giles?!...What happened?!..." Hmmn, she's lost the Brit accent I see...Willow thought, staring up at her, as the wiccan tended a very lucky Giles...



"I think Giles' crystal uncovered a few buried memories too many..." Willow noted...As Buffy came over...Giles...She knelt down...As he groggily rose to a sitting position... "Nothing broken, I think..." Willow assured her...



Kennedy carefully rising from her crouch...



"Not so fast..." Buffy briefly glanced at her... "Always make sure the situation's fully in hand...Don't assume because everyone's acting like alls well that it is..."



"You should listen to this Slayer..." Willow grinned at Kennedy, nodding... "Especially when she's just gone temporarily insane..."



Temporarily, I said...she patted the kneeling Buffy now paused to stare at her...



"Everything ok?..." Gretchen looked at them from the office door...



"Didn't mean to intrude..." she hesitated...



"Fine, fine..." Willow beamed at her, a cheery wave... "Thanks...Just a little office mishap with some slippery tea and a slidey chair...Just let us see to Mr. Giles here and I'll be out with you guys in a mo..."



She glanced at Kennedy, then the office door as Gretchen went back to rejoin Cheryl at the research table...Kennedy rose and shut the door...



"Mind telling us what happened?..." she eyed Buffy then Giles... "I'm not sure...Let me get him some water..." Buffy rose...



"I think..." Giles gasped a little... "Your initial guess was correct, Willow...A few buried memories too many..."



Buffy came back over, handing him some water which he took a bit gingerly, she wincing as she caught his slight hesitation... "Sorry, Giles..."



"Not at all, my dear...Not your fault...I should have taken more precautions beforehand..."



"Well..." Willow smiled... "Who'd of thought our heart-on-her-sleeve Slayer would have such a black box within..."



Hey...Buffy shrugged... "William always said I had hidden depth..." Giles rose to his feet carefully...Still a bit wobbily...Uhhh...Oh...she bit a lip...No, no...he patted her, smiling...



Outside the office, Gretchen eyed Cheryl, a slight beam...Anything?...Cheryl hissed...Gretchen shrugging...Not sure...



But I gave a fine performance as a concerned, friendly, human graduate student...Mistress is gonna be so pleased...she noted quietly...



"Are we sure that's not her in there?...Testin' us...?" Cheryl asked in a whisper...



"She told us her counterpart would be here, Cherl...Now just look over what Ms. Rosenberg gave us and be polite and friendly..."



"Any more so and I'll bust a gut..." slight frown... "Doin' my best...And not bad for a high-school dropout, if I say so myself..."



Back in the office...Buffy had brought over a chair with Slayer speed...And a very sheepish expression...



"It's fine...I'm quite all right...And thanks to our little session we have gained some useful information...At a fairly painless..." Giles felt his throat a sec...Buffy wincing again... "Price..."



"Great..." Willow beamed... "So?..." Watching him as he looked down at the shattered crystal on the floor...Ooops...



"Sorry about that, Giles...You did say to...Well, you did say 'crystal'.."



"It's fine Willow...You did well..." he smiled at her...



"As to what we have learned...Well...?" he eyed Buffy...



Ummn...She sheepishly stared at him...



"Don't really remember much, Giles...Just a few really mixed-up fragments...And then finding my hand wrapped round your throat..."



"Yes...That's understandable, Buffy...But we can recover those fragments by hypnosis...Under somewhat more controllable conditions...If you're willing..."



"And we have learned that whoever you once were...You were a Slayer then too...Who must have encountered Drusilla...And had severe differences with the Council in your time...And, most importantly..." he paused...



"You were British..." he smiled at her...



Neat...she grinned back..."My intended's gonna be so pleased..."



"Not that he doesn't like American girls..." she hastily noted to Willow and Kennedy...



***



LA...Midmorning...One of the Hyatt hotel rooms of the Mears party...



"So..." Nemesis smiled at Soames gently... "We're on our way...Just gotta get the crates over to the new place...And Warren can set to workin'...And before you know it..." she beamed... "With a lil' luck...You'll have me back...As I was..."



"Buffy..." he eyed her... "Even if Mears isn't lying to us...It may not work...And even if it does...There's a Buffy here..."



"I'll deal with that..." she frowned... "...in a non-violenty kinda way...I promise...Long as you stick..." she eyed him carefully...a pleading...



"Well..." he nodded... "If you can handle it...No matter how ole Mearsy does...I will stick by you, Buffy...Believe that...Believe me..."



For me, you are Buffy...he eyed her...Without question...



"Buffy..." she shook her head... "Doesn't kill innocent people, even her own brain-dead enslaved clones...Not to mention all the people she loved..." she stared at him carefully...



"Circumstances, pet...And you might be surprised what you're capable of when provoked enough..."



"Thanks..." she kissed him... "But we both know...A Buffy who could do what I did...Is not your Buffy...Or your Cicely...Not completely anyway..."



And one way...Or another...she told him...Smiling gently as she pulled him close...



"I am gonna be that Buffy...That Cicely...The woman you loved...Again..."



***





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