"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html



Prologue...

That same evening in 1891...Darkness...We find ourselves again outside a large English manor house appearing out of the mists...Well isolated from intruding eyes...

A heavy rainstorm, accompanied by severe gusts of wind, punctuated by blasts of thunder and lightning continues to tear the fabric of night...

But the glow of a warm and cheery fire is spied through a large side window...We hear strains of music playing as we move up to that window...And see, scattered in chairs about the large fireplace...Angelus, Spike, and again diligently working at needlepoint...Drusilla...

All in rather elegant clothes of the era...

Drusilla has just completed the horrifying tale of the mad Willow Rosenberg, her even crazier fellow mad scientist, Andrew Praetorius, and their joint project in resurrection...

Which oddly enough had managed a rather pleasant ending...Which to present company probably constituted the most horrifying ending possible...

Though the loss of the truly evil Mr. Mears was indeed a tragedy, Angelus noted...

And Spike was finding himself oddly intrigued and contented to hear of his...possible...future with a dead and hideously resurrected Slayer...

Though, as Dru pointedly reminded him...It was only a potential future...One of the infinite possible in an infinite universe...

The arrival of a rather dark and stormy Darla, rather matching the night she'd endured outside, back from a somewhat less than completely successful hunt...One lousy gatekeeper and I drank him myself, go and find your own damn dinner, she groused...Brought a sudden end to further discussion...

"What the devil were you all gabbing about?..." she demanded...Grabbing a glass of Angelus' "special" vintage "wine" from the bottle on the table...

"I was telling my new story, Grandmother..." Dru eagerly began... "Lovely..." Darla cut her off...

"A grand tale, dearest..." Angelus noted... "Dead but horribly resurrected, embittered Slayer turning on and threatening all Mankind, brutal raging mobs, mad scientists, fair amount of violence and bloodshed...I gave a big thumbs up..."

Uh-huh...Great... "Somebody get these damned boots off me..." Darla growled...

Damn well time I reminded these idiots who the goddamn Queen of this pride is...

"And our William burned to death..." Angelus grinned...

"Hey, I was the hero...And then some, I'd say..." Spike frowned... "Say, Dru...Just how and when the hell did I...?"

"...Become such a dim-witted wuss...?" Angelus finished brightly...Spike snarling at him as Dru pulled the boots of a frowning Darla...



"No doubt you get your pathetic soul back sometime between now and then..." Angelus continued...As Darla stared a bit at the boys...Then Dru...

Soul?...Noble?...What the hell have you been telling them?...

Though Spike burning to death does sound entertaining...

"Oh, no Angelus..." Dru interrupted politely... "It's the effect of a device restraining Spike's nature and allowing William's partial resurfacing...Placed in his brain by a future government organization in the United States...Operating covertly in one of those states or whatever there..."

In my...? Spike blinked...

"The hell you say?...Really?...Damned American barbarians..." Angelus shook his head... "Though it couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow..." he sneered...

"You seemed pretty chummy with that Slayer's gang...'Angel'...Before you got a look at the dead Slayer creature and ran off..." Spike noted...

"Oh, yes...Father will have his soul back by then...I have seen it..." Dru nodded eagerly...

Brrh...Ha...Spike chortled...Darla blinking...

Say wha...? Angelus stared...

"Well, I think we've had enough horror for one..." he began...

"Wait a minute..." Darla put up a hand...

This is beginning to get interesting...

"Dru, what happened to Angelus...How'd he get a...Eehew...soul?..."

Dru pondered, closing eyes, brow furrowing...

"Hmmn...Sorry, Grandmother...I can't see much on that...Something to do with him murdering some powerful person's relative...It will happen within the next decade, though..."

Note to self, Angelus thought...Avoid capitals, large cities, country estates for next ten years...

Try sticking to the open road, the countryside where the sometimes sturdy, if fearful and ignorant, but generally nourishing peasant, bold highwayman, and gypsy wanderers roam...

Ah, gypsies...Delightfully entertaining people and such a spice to their blood...

"But of course, it's only a possible future, not definite..." Dru noted...

"And the Slayer could come in in the next five minutes and kill us all..." Darla frowned sourly...

"So even without a soul, I'm a noble and romantic hero...?" Spike asked, rather obviously pleased at the notion...

"Sounds like he's the one with the soul...And I smell the stink of it and Humanity on him..." Angelus said, lip curled disdainfully...Spike donning face for combat...

"Boys...Hey!!..." Darla hissed, then bellowed...Likewise taking face... "Morons?!...We have an excellent human staff asleep upstairs, whom if we want to retain their services and this fine home we must not allow to become suspicious of us..."

Beyond thinking we're the usual sort of English countryside degenerate aristocrats with the typical perversions...

Hell, we're generally quieter and better behaved than most...



The boys, rather accustomed now to the finer things and equally eager to retain them for as long as possible, relented...

"So was this more of your monster story from the other night?...The dead Slayer resurrected as a demented, bitter fiend by her flaky lesbian friend and her..." Darla paused...In 1891 a bit much even for her...

"Companion...?"

I asked you if I should drop the unholy love story...Dru hissed to Spike...

"Do she and Spike go off to lay waste and kill?..." a happy ending to a tale with a Slayer for once...

"Oh no, Grandmother...You see, Spike gets killed and she has him resurrected...Sort of immortality and relatively indestructibly human (indestructibly?...Spike beams) with soul...There's a blast at the mad wiccan's laboratory and they slip off when no one's watching..."

Oh...Darla shrugged a little...

Charming...

"People do get killed, though?..."

"An innocent woman by her evil husband, the evil husband, Spike, and several vampires..." Dru noted...

Hmmn...Well...

"But I am the hero, right?...And got the girl?" Spike eyed her...

Ye...ah...Dru, curtly... "A deformed, seven foot, brain-damaged ex-Slayer with green skin..."

"All yours, boy..." Angelus beamed...

Heh...Even with a soul, I've still got a brain...

"Well, she seemed very loving...And she was getting better by the end...Say I was tall as well by then, right?..."

"Yeah..." Dru, even more curtly...Darla rather amused now...

"Say what was that about her being...What was that name?..." Angelus, eyeing Spike who'd missed one vital section, went for the kill...

"Ah, Cicely reincarnated...Right..." he beamed...Dru looking a bit concerned as Spike stared...

Cicely?...

"Oh, right...You knew a girl of that name, didn't you...William...?" a wider beam...

"This...'Buffy?'...Was Cicely?...My...er...The Cicely I..." Spike looked at Dru...

Ummn...

Darla ever more amused...This was sounding better all the time...

"It's only a potential future..." Dru feebly noted...

"You're saying Cicely...Didn't hate me?...Comes back for me?..."

"No doubt your soul's pathetic whining forced her to try and shut you up..." Angelus smiled...



"Was she a Slayer then, too?...Is that why...?"

Dru looking so pathetic herself now, even Darla was a little torn between sympathy and savage amusement...

Naturally, savage amusement easily winning out...

"Is there any more...?" she asked... "I could use some laughs..."

"Yeah, is there, Dru?..." Spike, eager...

"And does Spike get brutally killed again?..." Angelus, hopeful...

"I don't think I've any more for tonight..." Dru frowned at the general group...Looking away...

"Now, girl..." Spike came over...Patting hand... "As you say, it's only a potential future...Like Angelus turning gay and getting a soul..."

"She never said I turned gay..." Angelus stared...

Would explain some things...Darla thought...

"You gave up a beautiful Slayer even before her resurrection...I'd sure wonder about you...And like Dru says, an infinitely possible universe..." Spike grinned...

"Dru?...I did not turn gay...Right?..."

Well...Father...Dru began, diplomatically...

"Might as well have, soul boy..." Spike noted...

"Tell us more, Dru...Sit down, morons and be quiet!..." Darla hissed... "C'mon, dear...We're all attention...Tell us what disasters followed..."

"I must be true to my visions, grandmother..." Unfortunately...Dru thought, sighing...And glaring a bit at Spike who was far too eagerly attentive now...

"Oh, very well..." All took seats...

"It was a night, much like this...A fierce rainstorm and its howling winds raging through the little town of Sunnydale, California, USA, one year after the monster and her mate had been presumed lost in the terrible explosion at the Rosenberg laboratory...Only two aware that her fate had not been as tragic as the others presumed...When an old friend from that tragic past decided to pay a call on Ms. Willow Rosenberg..."

"Ms.?..." Angelus, Spike, Darla looked at each other...

"I'll explain later..."

***

Part I...

2003...The Castle Rosenberg...Imported from Europe...Sunnydale, California...

A dark and naturally, stormy night...

A solitary figure wending its way up the long driveway...Rather content despite the weather...

Singing...Yes, in the rain...In fact...

"I'm the Missus...the pregnant...Missus..." newly married...And contentedly pregnant Anya Harris happily sang, hopping puddles...



Of course something cautious future father Xander would never allow...But what Daddy...Ha, hah she hugged herself...Didn't know, wouldn't hurt him...

Hmmn...She paused...A sudden feeling gripping her...Residue perhaps of her old power...Maybe result of constant exposure of her human senses to the occult world in her work with the former and current Slayers...Possibly her enhanced maternal protective instinct...

But definitely a tingling of what her Mister liked to call her "spider sense"...

Though of course currently future Dad was busily attempting to purge all such unfatherly tendencies as comic book references from his future Daddly character...Going for a good combination of Alan Thicke, Andy Taylor, and just a touch of Jim Anderson...Father not necessarily always knowing best, but certainly making the effort...

She looked around, pulling her coat tight around her...Certainly dark and lonely enough to attract some Thing...With capital T...

Geesh, with all their cash the Rosenbergs could install a few driveway lights...It's dangerous this curving long road up to the castle...Though she was wishing now she'd chosen not to have Dawn drop her off at the lower end on her way to her study group at UCal-Sunnydale...

"Is anyone there?!..." she tried a bold front... "I'm a friend of the Slayer's you know...And she don't take kindly to having friends stalked!..."

Or rendered limb from limb...Eaten...Turned into a love puppy servant...Vamped...

Thank God Faith's reformation had been quite sincere...Even if her tendency to ape her deceased role model was a little unnerving at times...

They'd just barely managed to restrain her from dyeing her hair blonde...So far...And Anya rather suspected Dawn hadn't actually been kidding when she'd mentioned, as a supposed joke, that Faith had asked permission to legally change her name to Buffy Faith...

Nothing...Not a sound...And yet...Somewhere, out there in the dark...

A branch or something snapped...

Ok...Time for mommie genes to kick in...Yep, feel that adrenalin rush...She ran for it...Not quite realizing just how loud a decibel level her screaming had reached...

Flashlight moving toward her, a voice...Phew...She slowed, gasping now...

"Anya?!..." Jonathan Levinson, Willow's trusted assistant and the Rosenberg estate manager hurried down to her...A bit ridiculous in large raincoat...But one Dawn Summers who had been taking an increasing interest in his general well-being since her sister had emphatically declared him "nice" shortly before her supposed tragic demise in last year's laboratory mishap...Had made him promise to keep properly covered in such weather...

"Jonathan!...I think some thing or one's following me!..." Anya ran to him, panting wearily...

After all, luggin' an extra thirty or so...

He looked back down the road...Shining his special flashlight with the additional useful feature of a UV setting calibrated to the solar frequency capable of roasting certain unsavory members of the underworld...A little idea of his own now used by both the Slayer and her inherited supporters in their work to good effect...

Hmmn, no screams of searing agony...And no sounds or signs of pursuit by anything...He scanned the edge of the driveway on either side...Nothing...

"I know something was there!..." Anya gasped...

"I'm sure there was...But it's gone for the moment...C'mon, you've got get into the house, catch your breath, and get dry..."

She continued to peer into the dark...Damn, I know what I know...

And I was right about Buffy surviving the mill fire last year...



Hmmn...She glanced at Jonathan, who was now firmly guiding her toward the house...

I still wonder about that last night...We never did find a trace of Buffy or William...And he and Dawn sure seemed to be sharing a little secret that night...

Though it's true I did suggest to Xander it could've been that they'd had sex...And then after that, things got a little busy what with him wanting to go bludgeon the truth out of Jonathan and all...

"I did feel something, Jonathan..." she insisted as they reached the grand entrance of the Castle Rosenberg...Jonathan nodding to the security guards at the station Willow'd had set up after that night...She obviously having felt a little uncertain as to the surety of her somewhat emotionally capricious creation's demise herself...

Still after a year with no further upsetting reunions...She'd been relaxing a bit...And enjoying her marital status with her spouse, the beauteous Tara...

(What?...Darla stared... "Dru told us earlier...Everybody can marry anyone by 2003..." Angelus noted... "How about animals, Dru?..." he asked...The others looking at him...

Geesh, I just wanted a good gory family tale...Hope this isn't gonna be some kind of bizarrely perverse thing, Darla thought, eyeing Dru...The kid is getting a little more beyond the fringe every night...)

"I believe you..." Jonathan patted the rain-soaked, slightly shivering Anya... "But you've gotta get in now...We'll tell Willow and get some help for a quick search..."

They went in...While from a distance down the driveway, just in the shadows of the forest, a solitary tall figure looked after them...

Blinking a bit and waving arms slightly while trying to stay hidden...That UV flash had been a bit disconcerting...Though fortunately not long enough to cause serious eye damage...

Gee...Buffy thought staring up the driveway...A lightning flash...God, me hate lightning...However life-giving it might be...Revealing her wan, greenish-hued face...And her immense, seven-foot frame in the longest coat William had managed to find for her on one of his cautious shopping/snatching forays into town...

Anya looked awful happy...Just before my terrifying presence got her going...



***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html



Part II...



Despite the storm blowing round, Artemis McNab, hale and fit, fifty-something, leading Sunnydale business entrepreneur, beamed proudly at the door of his newest masterstroke...The culmination of a brilliant career in the hotel and travel industry...



I mean what could a quiet little town like this use more to draw in the crowds...The Artemis Mc Nab Sunnydale House of Horror Museum...Dedicated to bringing the best and most legendary figures of horror to vivid display...

Well, marketing had suggested the folks round here would take better to that sorta thing over his initial Star Trek idea...Guess they need a few chills and thrills round these parts...

And he was set to deliver up the best...The finest wax and molded works, the best animatronics available...No expense...Within reason...Spared...

Except perhaps for the corners cut on the idiot staff...He glared at his two workers currently struggling with large crates just in from England...

One, a short and heavy-set, nervous-looking, dark-haired man, even as McNab watched, managing to get the other's foot under his dolly...Hey!...

"Lou! Get this thing offa me!..." the other, a tall and thin, sharp-edged, likewise dark-haired man cried out...

"Careful you dolts!" McNab hollered, hurrying over... "These wax figures are specially made. Don't..." A banging sound as the first worker pulled his dolly back and let the crate slip down on the ground...

"...let them drop...Moron!...What are you tryin' to do?!"

"It was on Bud's foot..." Lou noted... "I was just tryin' ta get it off..."

"Sorry, Artie..." Bud frowned at Lou, rubbing his foot...

What I get for hiring relatives...McNab sighed... "Whatever...Just get it open and lets see if it's broken..."

"You heard cousin Art, Lou...Get the crate open..." Bud nudged Lou...

In a few minutes with the aid of a crowbar left just inside the doorway, they'd pried the crate lid off...All three peering down at what looked like a long, black coffin...

"Hmmn...Looks ok...You better open her up..." McNab noted...Lou trembling a little at the sight...Bud whacking him...

"C'mon, open'er up...It's just a wax statue..."

"But it's in a cof...fin..." Lou eyed the box...

"Ah, that's just for show...Part of the act..." McNab shook his head....Reaching in to pull up a long placard which he handed to Lou... "See..." Lou took the placard, reading...

Bud opened the coffin, he jumping back himself a bit on seeing what appeared to be a man in long black cape within...Lying in apparent deathly repose...

"Ok..." McNab nodded... "For once you idiots were lucky...He's ok...Close'im up..."

Bud let the lid drop with a clang...

"Moron!...This exhibit's priceless!...I bought it on my last trip with Ira Rosenberg to Europe...It's the only known authentic likeness of the original Count Dracula...He's even wearing personal property of the Count..."

Hmmn...Bud eyed the box, impressed... "Say, what's in the other?...Frankenstein's monster?..."

"Don't be a putz, Bud..." McNab frowned... "That's an old wives' tale...Nobody can sew a bunch of corpses together to make a living man or woman...Now Dracula there, hey...There was a medieval conqueror who drank the blood of his impaled enemies, even if the Undead stuff's so much hokum..."

Cousin Art hasn't lived in Sunnydale long...Lou thought, still reading...

"No, in this one we got the carcass of an authentic werewolf...Caught by a hunter in England a short time ago..."



"A werewolf?..." Bud snorted... "That's baloney..."

And cousin Bud just moved here...Lou thought...

"Course..." McNab chuckled... "Some wolf with an odd look to it...But who cares...I got the doc's...Some drunk up there in the wilds of England, no doubt...Letter certifying that the thing had human organs...The hunter's sworn affidavit that he saw the guy transform just before it attacked him..."

Sweet...Bud nodded...

"Now if you two idiots can just get 'em safely inside..." McNab frowned at the pair... "I'll have my complete exhibit...This place will clean up and you'll do all right by me...Get to work and leave them by their exhibit spots...I've gotta get over to the Chamber of Commerce meeting...Some nut's claiming my museum's gonna piss off the Undead..."

"Thanks, Artie..." Bud waved at the retiring McNab's back... "We'll get right on it...Don't worry...Lou..." he turned to his colleague... "Lets get 'em inside..."

"You see this...?" Lou held up the placard...

"Nah...What's it say..."

"The Legend of Count Dracula... 'Each night Dracula rises from his coffin to drink the blood of the living...'..."

"Sounds like my ex-wife..." Bud chortled...

"...'King of the Undead for over 500 years, the original Vlad Dracula...Not to be confused with his worthless grandnephew, Vladimir, who assumed the mantle for a time during the late nineteenth century until recently...(Hey, good one, Dru...Angelus chortled...Spike beaming...Bout time that cheap little Eurotrash poseur got exposed...)...Was the most powerful vampire ever raised...Who took his curse on voluntarily to avenge the death of his beloved wife...' That's nice..." Lou noted...

Bud staring at him...A whack...

"... 'Dracula had the strength of twenty and could take the form of bats and other animals, appear as smoke, and had quite a way with the ladies...Though not the caddish womanizer his grandnephew was...'..."

"Aw, c'mon...It doesn't say..." Bud took the placard...

Hmmn...Well, ok...

"...'His only restraints...His enduring love for his wife which led him to seek her lost soul through the centuries and on finding her, will lead him to complete his redemption...And the crucifix of his mother, placed within his mouth during his day's rest by the said worthless grandnephew to deny him his quest's goal...But one day...'..."

"Well, go on..."

"That's all...It's gotten torn here..." Lou lifted the placard up...

"Wonder where Artie came up with this...?" Bud chuckled... "Well, lets get 'em in..."

"Bud?...You don't suppose there might be a crucifix in his mouth?..." Lou eyed the coffin...

"What?...It's a wax statue...Unless Artie really went for the detail..."

"Bud...You don't know this town...The things I've seen..."

"Aw, c'mon..." Bud frowned... "I've told you...All the things you've seen are explainable...Easily..."

"A vampire bit the typist in my office...I saw him do it one night when we were doing the telemarketing late...Then, she was at my house a week later..."



"The only odd thing was she liked you enough to come lookin' for a date...The girl got pregnant by some jerk and was hopin' you'd help her out...You're just lucky she got cold feet..."

She had pretty cold hands, too...Lou sighed... "She only ran off cause I wouldn't let her in or go with her and the sun was coming up..."

"Ah..." Bud waved a hand... "You've got a screw loose...No wonder you lost that job and you should be grateful cousin Artemis got you this one..."

"I'm tellin' ya Bud..."

"Look..." Bud opened the lid...Poking the body...

"Hard...Not decomposing...And look, it's after dark...How come Drac doesn't rise up and kill me?...And, piece de la resistance..." He opened the mouth...Hey, excellent work...And reaching suddenly, pulled out a small crucifix..."Well, what the hell...Artie really did go all out..."

Lou staring at the crucifix in his cousin's hand...Then at the body...

Nothing...

"See...Still just wax..." Bud tapped the body, then closed the lid...

"I think ya oughta put it back..." Lou noted...

"Here, you do it..." Bud handed the crucifix over... "Show me you're over this nonsense..."

"That's ok..." Lou pushed the crucifix back at him... "You can do it..."

"Ah...Lets get these in...I'll put it back in later..."

***

The Castle Rosenberg...

Where a cheery fire...And the lack of a raging maniac or suave killer knocking at the door...Had done something to take the edge off Anya's nerves...

Further by the hurried arrival of her husband following her anxious call to his office...Though Jonathan had assured him all was well for the present...

However they'd found the situation within not much less tense in one of the castle drawing rooms...Giles, recently returned from England in conference with Willow, Tara, and Faith...

Phew...Xander, returning from a quick scout round outside with Jonathan and the security team, was relieved to see Faith had once again not decided to go yet with the blonde look on top of wearing another outfit that matched one of Buffy's...Anya entering with him and Jonathan...

"So you see...There was nothing else to be done...He'd been severely injured and there was no time..." Giles was saying...

"But he is ok...In stasis...?" Willow asked anxiously...As Xander coughed to indicate their arrival...Faith smiling at the newcomers...

"As ok as he can be...But the doctor was uncertain as to the extent of his injuries..." Giles replied...

"But why didn't he revert?..." Tara asked...

"I don't know...Perhaps the severity of the injury, perhaps the location...Or some other factor..." the Watcher shook his head...

"My poor Ozzy..." Willow shook her head...

"Oz?..." Xander asked... "Is something wrong?...By the way, nothing's crawling round the place right now...Whatever it was outside, it's gone under..."



"He got sick while he was checking in with our people in England on some new restrictive spells..." Tara explained... "Got out from his room one night and some moron took a shot at him..."

"And he was hurt?...How bad?..."

"It nearly killed him..." Giles sighed... "But equally bad, he remained in his werewolf state and was taken by the fool who'd shot him and others...It took a great deal of effort for our people to smuggle him away and to keep him alive they had to put him in a stasis state...Let him appear dead..."

"So he's what now...Some clod's living room rug?..."

"Xander?!..." Willow glared...

"I just mean...What do we hafta do to get him back...Is he in England...?"

"I'll get him Wil..." Faith patted her hand... "He'll be 5 by 5..."

See how nobly unselfishly I'm handling this?...And after that thing with that crazy-like-a-fox, two-timin' Andrew Praetorius all last year...Tara eyed her spouse...Who gave a slight 'Thanks' nod...

"No, he's not in England...The people on hand though it safest to get him out of the country entirely, what with the publicity and all...But they couldn't just put him on a plane or a ship..."

"So...?"

"He's in Sunnydale...Or should be shortly...After they'd put him in stasis where he was being held my people thought fast and arranged to buy what the fool who shot him thought was a dead werewolf...They in turn found an American businessman operating in Sunnydale...A new museum of oddities or something and sold him to that man, supposedly as a exhibit in order..."

Wonder what he fetched?...Anya eyed Giles...

"...to get him safely here..."

Hmmn...Museum?...Oh, that place...Anya and Xander eyed each other...Told you it sounded for real...Anya hissed...A natural for Sunnydale, we shoulda invested... Jonathan blinking...

"But..." Anya pondered... "Don't they gut, stuff, and mount things like him in museums...?"

Willow staring...Oh...My...God...

Tara trying to pat her with a sigh...And slight glare at Anya...

"That, Anya..." Giles sighed, trying to help Faith restrain the anxious Willow... "Is precisely why we must act quickly..."

***

Racing out by car, Xander at the wheel, the urgency of the situation prevented any of them from taking any note of the man sitting in non-descript overcoat and hat pulled low by the bus stop near the castle's driveway exit...William rising carefully after their disappearance to his full height, concealed in sitting by desperate slouching...

Looks like something's up, he noted...

If I can find her, we'd best see if we can follow...A more little cautiously this time...As last time we shadowed them and quietly did our bit for the old team they nearly caught us at it...

Now where is she?...He looked around...



I mean I sympathize with her feelings...I do...But this is just senselessly endangering herself and others...

Still, poor thing...She is lonely sometimes, even with me...Would it be so risky to just chance a few more visits per month to Dawn?...

Though what she's really stirred up about...Please...We've had quite enough of that...

Ah...He caught sight of a tree rustling...At a height well above that of a normal human...And hurried up the road...

"Buffy!...Girl, what's possessed you?..." he called as a rather sheepish-looking, somewhat rain-bedraggled figure emerged from the trees...An extremely tall, faintly green-skinned, now mildly scarred...They're getting a little better every day, he fondly noted...Figure...

"Will...iam...Sorry..." she sighed...

"Darling..."

"Bad...I know...Just wanted see guys..." she tried to put on a pathetic air...

"Just wanted see Willow you mean..." he eyed her...

"Weeelll...She my bes' friend..." she tried again...

"Buffy...Your best friend would probably tranquillize you and lock you in her dungeon again if she found you poking round...Especially after things with you kidnaping Tara last year..."

"For you..." she noted...Batting eyes at him...

"And it work..." she beamed...Patting his arm...

"Could work...again..." she eyed him, a rather sly, sidelong glance...

Buffy...he frowned...

***



Back at the museum...

"Now be careful with this, Lou..." Bud told his partner and cousin...As they struggled to lower the crate with the Dracula exhibit to a spot outside its stage...Oops...The box crashed down...Splintering a bit...

"Well..." Bud looked over the crate, reopening the loosened top...Casket seemed intact and unscratched, thank God... "At least it's still in one piece...C'mon and lets bring the other one over..."

Lou padded after him...Both men out of the exhibit hall when a soft moan went out from the crate...Followed by the low groan of an opening ancient casket lid...

They returned a moment later with the second crate...Managing to lower it a little more easily into its place...

"I'll go get that crowbar and we'll see if this one's ok...Then we can lock up for tonight...Just watch things here a minute...And don't break anything..." Bud headed off...Lou looking round nervously...

At a room filled with figures of evil from the past...Both human monsters like Hitler and not so human like one tall fellow of horned appearance bearing the legend on its metal bar... "D'Hoffryn, legendary demonic lord of vengeance..."

Hmmn...Where'd I hear that name?...Lou looked more closely...Not seeing the top of the Dracula exhibit crate rise...



But he did hear the crash of the falling lid...And whirled to see a tall, fierce-looking man in the same cape as the body in the casket, standing by the crate, eyeing him coldly...Face half-covered by the cape...

Ca...Ca...Ca...Lou stared...

"Pardon me..." the man? said politely and turning, ran off toward a rear exit...Vanishing even as he stood a moment at the open rear door...

"Bud...Oh...Bud?!..." Lou tried to gasp out...Bud entering now with crowbar...

"What?...Come on, lets get this over with..."

"Bu...Bu..."

"What?...Ya see me here, what is it?..."

"Dracula..." Lou tried... "He's..."

"What?..." Bud stared...And then noticed the lid off...

"Were you pokin' around in there again?..."

"Nnnno...He...Oh...Bud...I think we shoulda left that crucifix in there..."

"Well, I got it right here...I'll put it back..." Bud went over...

Hey...He looked back at Lou...

"The casket's open...And where's..."

"Oh..." Lou turned green... "He's up..."

"What?...Whatdaya mean, up?...Did you take that wax statue out?...Did you break it?..."

"Oh..No...It's fine..." Lou noted... "I never saw a waxwork lookin' so good..."

"Well..." Bud spread his hands, frowning... "Where is it?..."

"I think he had a pressin' engagement..."

A crash from the front...Both men looking...

"Come on..." Bud pulled his cousin along...Lou staring back at the open crate...

As they did, Willow and Tara slipped in the same back door the fierce-looking man had just left by...

"We don't have much time...Giles and Faith won't be able to keep them busy long...Where do you suppose?..." Tara eyed the crates...

"Let me terminate the stasis spell...Then he'll come out and find us..." Willow waved her arms...

Hmmn...

"Maybe he's not in here...Is there a basement?..." Tara suggested...

Both anxious not to let the thought that had run through their minds have vent...

What if they'd already carried out Anya's taxidermy suggestion?...



Stern calls from the front of the museum..."What are your folks doing here?..." In Bud's voice...

"We'd better try downstairs while we can..." Willow hissed...They ran for the door that looked like a possible cellar entrance...Which it was...

They just barely making it through the door, onto the stairs, and closing as Bud and Lou returned...

"We'd better call the police, then McNab..." Bud noted... "These are probably the ones who took your Dracula!...One through the back, then got us out front to make the getaway..."

"I don't think he needed help, Bud...Though he probably woulda appreciated a lift..."

A new crash, from the second crate...A loud groan...

"Ah, ha!...One of them's in there..." Bud insisted... "Hey you, come on outta there!..."

"Ummn...Bud...We didn't take the lid off that one..."

"Hey!..." a cry from within, rather thin and weak... "Who's there?...Get me outta here!..."

"Uh-boy...Another one..." Lou sighed...

"Hey, I'm..Hurt...Help!..." the voice again from the crate...Weaker now...

"Nobody move...I'm calling the cops!..." Bud called...

What's going on up there?...Did somebody say something about Dracula?...Willow hissed to Tara on the stairs...Who shrugged...

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Part III...



While stealthily attempting to provide unseen, unheard, back-up for the old gang and their Slayer on whatever strange affair had brought them to downtown Sunnydale, William and Buffy had gotten themselves back into an old argument...

"Sweetheart...It's not that I don't love children...And with the soul I can even tolerate them unboiled..."

"You think Buffy no good Mommie cause she so brain-dead..." she gave a sad expression...The greenish hue of her skin lending to her pathetic appearance...

"Girl...That is not true...Haven't I said we could adopt...?" Will peered cautiously at the new McNab Museum of Oddities into which the gang had disappeared just as they arrived...Hmmn...

Looks just the place for us...



"How we gonna 'dopt...?" she frowned at him... "Social services lady freak she see me..."

"We put the screws to ole Liam Angel...He's a hot-shot corporate CEO now that he's taken over Wolfram-Hart and whipped the Senior Partners...And his firm could easily deal with little things like your being legally dead and my having no documentation since 1880...."

Hmmn?...Buffy stared...Though genuinely curious... "How we...?"

"If he won't help we threaten to have to be guest stars on the new "This Is Your Life" show when they profile him..."

"Hmmn...Me go on as ole girlfriend?..." she grinned wickedly... "That'd get him..."

"He'd be lucky to have the brains to acknowledge you as an old girlfriend, darling...But you get the picture...I think he'd cave and help us out pretty quick..."

"Not bad idea..." she nodded, considering... "But Will, me want special babe...My own..."

"Love, how would a stitched-together, reaminated corpse baby...With no soul, I might add...Be any less your own than an adopted kid?..."

Not that I don't love my stitched-together, reaminated corpse bride...he hastily noted...

Aw, Will...

"Oh, oh!..." She was eagerly agitated... "But we got souly for baby...She wait in Heaven..."

"What?..."

"When me die...Cicely...I have babe, 'member?...I tell you story..." she looked down sadly...

He instinctively taking her hand...My poor Cics...

"She wait...Heaven..." Buffy noted firmly... "We just gotta get her body...Make... Er...Ask... Wil..low to bring her here..."

No problem...she beamed now...

Hmmn...

Wait...He shook his head... "Buffy, we'd be taking a terrible risk with our daughter's soul...What if we failed and her demon got the body...What if...As is likely...The new body got...Well, I mean..." he paused... "If Willow..."

"Screw it like me?..." she eyed him..."No problem...We get crazy Andrew help...He nuts but real good surgeon...Do great job with you..." she smiled at him fondly...

Do great job with our 'Melia...she insisted...

"Or else..." a slight frown...

"Amelia..." he beamed a moment, remembering...

So sweet she named our little girl after my sister...Oh...Wait a mo...

Damn her, she's doing it again... "Buffy...We can't tempt the dark forces like this...We got away with it twice but three times is asking for trouble..."

"But Will..iam..." she sighed...As pathetically as possible...

"No...I will not risk it...For our child's sake...We'll see her in Heaven someday, Buffy..."

Grrr...she glared...Then sighed again...Eyeing him as he resumed careful surveillance of the building...So far all quiet...



"When bough break...

Babe woon't fall...

Cause Mommie catch baby...

Cause Mommie so tall..."



"Oh, for the love of..."

***

"Mere alcohol...Though it is my only weakness...Doesn't thrill me at all..."

"Sir..." a distinguished butler tapped gently at the enormous bedroom door...

"But I get a kick..." Beaming grin to photo taped to hand carved, massive wood frame of bedroom mirror...

"....Out of you..."

"Dr. Praetorius?..."

"Yes?..." a somewhat high-pitched voice from within...

"The car is here to take you for the opera, sir..."

Ah...Dr. Andrew Praetorius beamed at his reflected tall, gaunt, wild-haired...But tuxedoed and black-tied to a T...Figure...

"Charming...I shall be there presently, Gibbons..."

He gave a final, quick glance at the photo...A rather wild-eyed, eager Willow in lab gown, bent over a form wrapped in bandages on a large slab...Massive equipment, mostly electrical about her...

Nothing like a good security camera to capture a cherished moment...Oh, that wonderful evening back in that grand ole tower laboratory...

The evening that had changed the despised, bitter, long-suffering life of one of the world's greatest scientific thinkers forever...

Leading to him becoming one of the world's leading scientific entrepreneurs...Founder and CEO of Praetorius Cellular Technologies, Inc...The world's sole supplier of artificially cloned human...And the occasional animal...For that special pet something...organs...

Though of course it had not been a perfect ending...Pity about poor Ms. Summers and her husband...What was his...Ah, right...Walthrop...

But as he'd told Dawn Summers that night...Before the restraining order forbade him to approach within twenty feet her or any of the others...Their souls were certainly united in Heaven...

Then too...He sighed a long moment at the photo...The hero...Naturally himself...Had failed to get the girl...

Losing her to the other woman...Er, to a woman...

If I weren't firmly on the road to redemption...And avoiding eternal punishment for my really relatively minor transgressions...(What's a little grave-robbing for Science?...And it's not like Willow pressed charges over Ms. Maclauy's kidnaping...) I might occasionally regret that that fool Mears hadn't chosen that witch...Hey, no insult...Tara for our heart donor...Hmmn, lets see...Gloves...Yes...Lower right drawer...Ah...

Bit of a pity about that Mrs. Mears as well...Not exactly a happy ending for her either...



Though it wasn't like I absolutely knew where Mears would get us that replacement heart...As Willow herself said that night..."There are always accidental deaths occurring..."

All right, maybe I didn't want to know...But heck, it was all for Science...He pulled on the gloves...

Another knock...

"Coming, Gibbons..."

"Sir...I'm sorry...I'm afraid you have a visitor..."

Hmmn?...He opened the door...

"He claims it's urgent, sir..." Gibbons sighed... "Quite insistent...Says it's a secret matter of grave importance...He said to emphasize 'grave', sir..."

Hmmn...Either Willow and her little friends are amusing themselves at my expense...Or someone has been raking up my minor transgressions...

"Who is this...Gentleman...Gibbons?..."

"His card, sir..." Gibbons presented a rather old-fashioned calling card...

Hmmn...Count Vlad Alucard...London, Bucharest...

Uh-huh...

"Gibbons...?"

"Yes, sir...Definitely vampire, sir...Though a very distinguished type, sir, despite this 'Alucard' nonsense...He's waiting at the front door...Shall I employ the usual defensive measures, sir?..."

"No, just have the staff maintain their own protections and be on alert...Tell Forbes to hold the car...I'll welcome Count 'Alucard'..."

"Certainly, Professor..."

He emerged from the room, Gibbons leading him toward the front entrance...

"Ummn...Sir?...Forgive my asking?..."

"Hmmn...?"

"Thought Dracula was destroyed by the last Slayer some time ago, sir?..."

"That was my understanding, Gibbons...Well...Perhaps the fellow really uses 'Alucard'...Some kind of tribute..."

"Should we contact the Slayer, sir?...Via Ms. Rosenberg, I mean?..."

"Now, Gibbons...I've certainly been able to deal with one or two vampires in my time...No need troubling Ms. Faith and her friends..."

He paused as Gibbons opened the door to reveal a distinguished, if somewhat fierce-looking, gray-haired man in rather elegant evening clothes, including a rather dashing cape, waiting...

"Gibbons, inform Forbes..." The butler bowed and went out the door, passing the gentleman with a polite nod...

"Ah, Count Alucard?...My apologies for keeping you waiting...Do come in..." Praetorius opened the door...

"My apologies for disturbing your evening, Professor...I don't wish to detain you for more than a moment..." the gentleman stepped inside...



"And I apologize for my ridiculous deception...I had no new cards available and in the past used that name to ward off the foolishly curious...I am...Dracula..." he bowed...

"And have come, seeking the aid of the one man on Earth who may be able to help me..."

"Indeed...?"

"But I have no desire to spoil your evening, Professor...Perhaps we could arrange a better time to discuss my matter..."

"Quite all right...I was merely on my way to the opera...'Tosca'...Perhaps...If you're not engaged elsewhere this evening...You'd care to attend as my guest..."

"That is most kind, Professor...If it wouldn't inconvenience you...I've not seen a good opera in a century..."

"Well, Count...This being California...I cannot assure it will be a 'good' opera...But might I ask?...Did you not encounter...?"

"Please...Professor..." Dracula raised a hand... "My idiot grandnephew...An embarrassment to the clan and an aggravation to my heart I assure you...Not to mention no slight part of the reason I must seek your aid now...I'm quite grateful to hear that that Ms. Summers destroyed him...I only wish I'd simply killed him rather than taking him..."

"I see...Well, shall we be off?...Wouldn't wish to miss the curtain..."

"Of course..." Dracula nodded...

"Naturally, I carry my own protections against occult attack about me at all times..." Praetorius noted quietly as they neared the car...

"I would've expected nothing less by your reputation, Professor..."

***



"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

***

Part IV...

The Artemis Mc Nab Sunnydale House of Horror Museum...Where as guard Bud was noting in the account he was mentally preparing for the summoned police, a major caper by a daring band of skilled and dangerous criminals had just been nipped in the bud...

Providing of course the Dracula statue could be recovered intact...

Meanwhile his cousin and fellow guard Lou was glumly regarding the crate on which he had been posted...Literally, Bud having ordered him to sit on the lid to foil any escape attempt by the man or men calling from inside...Glancing down from time to time at renewed pleas for help, followed by increasing feeble bangs at the lid...

"Bud...?" he tried yet again...

"Don't bother me...I'm tryin' to get the facts collected in my mind for the cops..."

"Yeah, but Bud...I don't think the guy in here is doing so well..."

"Eh, he and the others in there are just faking...Probably waitin' their chance, then they'll shoot it out..."

"Well, then....Should I get off before they start shootin'...?"

"Just stay right there...They won't try anything till they can get the lid off and see what's up..."

"Hey...!" another faint cry... "I need help!!..."

"Bud...?"

"Just stay there...The cops'll be here sooner or later and they'll know how to handle it..."

"Willow?..." Tara hissed to her spouse as they stood on the cellar stairs, trying to hear what was going on above, she by the door... "I think the guys upstairs have called the police..."

Uh-boy...

"Anything about Oz?..." Willow hissed back...

I am not jealous...I am not jealous...But she might damn well ask me how I'm doing...Tara thought... "Not that I can hear yet..." she whispered...

"Maybe I could try and teleport up there..." Willow suggested...



"What?!..."

"You know, hover up by the ceiling...They'd never see me..."

"You'd be better off trying Amy's old rat trick...Forget it..."

"Well, we gotta get to Oz...If the police find him and he hasn't reverted..."

"I think I've got an idea...You got a match?..."

"You know I don't smoke, honey..."

"Well, anything you use for lighting candles..."

"I can cook up a flame...But what spell...?"

"No spell..." Tara pointed up where a sprinkler head could be seen...

Oh...Nice...Willow nodded...

That's my lil' honey...

***

Balcony of the Rosenberg Opera House of Sunnydale...A civic gift of Willow's dad dating several years back...

"Professor?..." Dracula had been a bit taken aback by Pretorius' request as they strolled the balcony lobby awaiting the summons to their seats...

"Oh, please Count...Indulge me...I've always been a fan of the original Lugosi film...And it's not as if I'm asking you to draw blood..."

"I am seeking redemption, Professor..."

"Just a little demonstration of your prowess, Count...Please...That young lady over there would do very well..." he indicated a bored-looking, gum-chewing blonde girl of about nineteen in usher's outfit...

Hmmn...They did tell me the Professor was on the kinkily eccentric side...And I am asking a rather large favor...

"Just nothing that would hurt the poor creature..." he hissed...

"Absolutely...Frankly I think a little thrall would be a considerable improvement in her..."

They went over...Dracula, a charming smile on his face...The girl frowning at Praetorius' request that she guide them to their seats...

"You're in row P, seat eight...That way...I don't go in till ten minutes before curtain..."

"Of course, miss...We did not mean to cause you any inconvenience..." Dracula beamed at her...Staring into her pretty if somewhat vacant face...Which became more vacant in seconds...

"Please show us to our seats, miss..." he patted her arm gently...She nodded and led them off...They entered the hall and reached a convenient corner...There, Praetorius pointed...

Hmmn...Dracula frowned a little...

Just hope I'm not being foolish here...Last thing I need is to be identified as some sort of perverted rapist...

"Over here, my dear...Professor?...Lets keep this simple and out of the gutter..."



"Naturally...Just tell her to locate Dr. Seward and tell him he is wanted on the telephone..."

"But why?..."

"It's the scene...And ask her to repeat your command...Just call me nostalgic, Count...Please?..."

"Yes, very well...Miss...You will search for a Dr. Seward and tell him he is wanted on the telephone...Please repeat my command..."

"You want me to find Dr. Seward and tell him he's wanted on the phone..." the girl said blankly...

"No, dear..." Praetorius cut in... "Say...I am to find Dr. Seward and tell him he is wanted on the telephone...A little more precise diction, please..."

"I am to find Dr. Seward and tell him he is wanted on the telephone..." the girl repeated...

"Yes, excellent...Now go...Obey the Count's command..."

The girl turned and marched woodenly off...

"Ah...That was truly delightful...Thank you, Count..."

"Uh...Yes...You say that was a scene from one of the first films about me...?"

"A classic...Of course the actress playing the part was a bit more intelligent..."

"I don't quite believe I understood the significance..."

"A demonstration of Dracula's power...And mysterious allure...Of course in the film there was proper lighting, a touch of gloomy atmosphere..."

"Indeed...I have seen one or two films with Mr. Lee and that fellow Oldman...Hated that strange hairdo he wore early in the film...You say this is from the Lugosi film...?...I've heard Lugosi praised but never had the chance to catch it..."

"Oh, you must see it...Perhaps after the opera, at my home...Ah, there's the call..." Praetorius noted the blinking light summoning the patrons...

"Dr. Seward?...There is a call for you on the telephone..." the girl came wandering by them as they made for their seats, blank-faced...

"You know, come to think of it...She rather reminds of Ms. Summers, our departed Slayer..." Praetorius noted... "Same general facial features...Though sadly lacking that poor child's sparkle..."

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

***

Part V...



Downtown Sunnydale near the McNab House of Horrors Museum...

Having collected Giles and Faith in a side alley after their attempt to provide distraction at the museum's front for Willow and Tara...Xander, Anya on passenger side, the others in rear, was engaged in driving to within a block of the rear as nonchalantly as possible in a life-or-death situation...Expectation being high that the police had been summoned...

"Maybe I'd better just go right in and get him before the cops show..." Faith suggested... "It's what Buffy would do..." she noted solemnly...

Sorry...she eyed the group... "I'm trying not to bring up her name so much...It's just...She's my inspiration...My role model..."

Yeah, to the point of freaking us out...Xander thought, looking at the Slayer in her typically Buffy outfit...

An's right...Thank God we kept her from dyeing the hair...Though the lost weight does become her...

"That's fine, Faith..." Giles told her gently... "But I think we'd better wait...If Willow's lifted the stasis spell and she and Tara can retrieve Oz or just get the guards inside to summon help for him, I can deal with the police to get them all released later a little more easily than if you and the rest of us get caught breaking and entering..."

"It is what Buffy would do..." he smiled kindly at her... "However much she too might've chaffed at the inactivity..."

***

"That guys...?" Buffy from her and Will's hiding place half a block from the museum hissed to Will, standing on the corner in his overcoat, hat low on his face, watching the museum's entrance, as Xander's car passed...

"Yeah...Faith's with them...I still can't figure what they're up to, banging the door and driving off like that unless some of them are at the back trying to get in that way...But why would Faith be running off?..."

"Wil-low there?..." a somewhat set look as Buffy pronounced the name a bit coldly...

"Didn't see her...Maybe that's it...She and Tara are at the back...If that's so, it must be something with spell protection or at least spell-involving...Buffy...?" he eyed her face carefully... "We're here to help, not rehash the past with Red...What's done is done...And we are together, thanks to her..."

"Is ok...I over it..." she replied, patting him...

"'Specially if she help..." she noted slyly...

"Buffy..."

"Well...She 'posed to be best friend..."

***

Inside the museum, Lou the guard had finally persuaded his fellow guard and cousin to let them check on who- or what- (Lou not unused to the occasional what, having lived in Sunnydale all his life...)...Was pleading weakly for help inside the crate...

"I dunno..." Bud frowned as Lou began prying the lid off with crowbar... "It could be a set-up...We get the lid off and four goons let us have it...You know what happens to the curious security guard in the movies..."

"I thought we were assistant curators...That's what Cousin Artie put down...Geesh..." Lou frowned a bit as he pressed hard and the lid gave on one side...

"Hey..." a feeble cry...

"Hey, you!...Get outta of there!...And no funny business!!...Jesus, what the...!" Bud cried out at what appeared to be a slight young man in his early twenties on the floor of the crate, stark naked...Writhing feebly in pain...



"Help...I've been shot...I think..." the young man gasped... "I can't get out...Please..."

"Shot?..." Bud looked at Lou... "You hear any shots just now?..."

"There's nobody else in there...How could he get shot in the box?..." Lou stared down...

"Eh, a crazy kid, probably on drugs..." Bud frowned... "Hey, watch him...He's probably strung out, shot himself...Hey, kid!..." he called sternly...

"Please..." a gasp...

"Look, he is bleedin' Bud...We better get an ambulance..."

"What are they saying up there?..." Willow, fumbling with a lighter, (A wiccan's must-have for those spells requiring instant flame), while trying to reach from her spot on the stairs to one of the basement sprinkler heads...... Hissed to Tara who stood listening at the basement stair door...

"I think they've found him...One of them wants to get an ambulance..." Tara whispered back... "Maybe you outta..." she began...As Willow got the flame to the sensor...

"You in there...Kid..." Bud leaned into the open crate..."Drop your gun or knife or whatever and we'll get you out...I've got the cops coming...I..."

The sprinkler system suddenly kicked on...Water spraying out from all over the ceiling...Alarms blaring...

Ummn...Willow's near-fall into the cellar blocked by a rushing Tara's save, her gasp muffled by a quick hand over mouth move...Water pouring down on them...Whoa...Whoa...They went over the stairs and down, in tight embrace...Fortunately the alarms and sprinklers making too much noise for their fall to be heard above...

"Oh, great!...Just great..." Bud sighed...

"I don't smell smoke...What's going on?..." Lou looked round...Say...

"Maybe it's that Dracula guy...Maybe he's for real and this one's the crazy human helper..." he suggested...

"Some idiot college kid's prank, that's what this is..." Bud frowned...

"Dracula?...Buffy killed him ages ago..." the young man called, weakly... "I don't have a gun...And I'm not crazy...Just bleedin' to death...Look...Will you call a friend of mine?...Her...Name's... Rosenberg... Willow...Rosenberg... " his voice trailed off...

"Rosenberg?..." Bud perked up at the name... "The Rosenbergs who own Castle Rosenberg, Rosenberg?..." The loaded Rosenbergs, Sunnydale's third largest employer?...He did not say...

No reply...

"Bud, I don't think he can wait for the cops..." Lou pulled out a cell phone... "I'm gonna call him an ambulance...And you better call Artie and ask him about turning the sprinklers off and what ta do about the exhibits..."

"Yeah...Lou?...You think he might know the Rosenbergs for real?..." Bud stared down...The young man lay on the crate floor, silent and unmoving now...

"I think we better get him out now..." Lou noted... "He don't look too good...And he could drown in that box..."

"Yeah...Say?...Who's 'Buffy'?..."

***

Back at home, following what they agreed had been a reasonably fair performance, Dr. Praetorius and his guest, were discussing said guest Count "Alucard"'s request in the study...Over an excellent brandy, which Praetorius was pleased to see the Count quite capable of relishing...



It being naturally the Professor's only weakness...

"A fascinating story, Count..." Andrew nodded... "You and your poor wife have my profoundest sympathies...It rather reminds of what poor Ms. Summers told me of her doomed romance with her William last year..."

"Thank you, Professor...But..." Dracula hesitated... "Do you think you can assist us?..."

"Haven't you tried reaching her soul, Count?...There is the Angelus curse...That might well be a more suitable solution..."

"While this mad fiend possesses her poor reincarnated body, her soul remains trapped in Limbo, without any control, Doctor...I have only been able to determine that she does survive, somewhere between Heaven and Hell...And to confirm that her body remains in vampiral form here on Earth..."

"Yes...That is sad, very sad...That she should have reincarnated only to be lost to the same curse as you were voluntarily trapped by, seeking to save her...And by Angelus...You are aware of his relationship with Ms. Summers and her husband...?"

(Ah...So I am in this one, eh?...Angelus beamed... "When do I show and kill everyone living, Dru?...")

"Yes..." Dracula said coldly... "Had I but known...I would have saved poor Ms. Summers and Mr. Walthrop their tragedy...By ripping the head of that animal from his body..."

(Whoa...Uh, Dru?...Angelus looked at her... "This being set in the future...Ummn...I mean there's no real chance that...?" "Old Dracula is helpless till they pull the crucifix out, Angelus..." Dru noted... "He'll be in stasis till then..."

Hmmn...Helpless, eh?...I wonder if I could get that fool Vladimir to tell me where he stuffed his ole grandunk's Undead corpse...Always wanted to try the staking thing...

"What's the matter, Angelus?..." Spike grinned... "You always tole me you longed for the night when you'd face off with the original Prince of Darkness himself...Say, maybe we could get young Vladimir to show us the ole boy in his box, thrall some silly twit to pull the cross or whatever it is out and you could have your wish...A fair match of course...Why, we could sell tickets..."

"Sounds jolly to me...:" Darla grinned in turn...

Angelus looking a bit...Grave...But...

"How could I be involved with Mrs. Dracula?...I died nearly three hundred years after she and he did?..."

Dru giving a Mona Lisa smile... "You have to wait and hear the story, Father..."

"Yeah, lets hear more about my incredible courage and romantic nature, Dru..." Spike beamed... "Say?..." he cocked an ear... "Anyone hear something?...I could swear I hear an angry super-vamp banging on the front door..."

"Shut up...Soul-seeking wimp..." Angelus glared...)

"Well..." Praetorius leaned back in his chair... "It would be a most interesting experiment...Even more difficult than with poor Mr. Walthrop...Though I have, of course, pledged never again to delve into such sacred mysteries of life and death..."

"Professor, you are my only hope..." Dracula eyed him anxiously... "I fear for her sweet soul should I wait longer...Her heart is strong but the monster possessing her is the most fiendish I have ever encountered in my existence...There is the danger she will blame herself and give in to despair forever as I nearly did..."

"Count, while it is true I can create a receptacle for her soul, it is my colleague, Ms. Rosenberg who would be the only one capable of summoning that soul..."

"Yes, I know...I was hoping, perhaps..."

"She too has pledged never to take such a risk of offending the Almighty again..." Andrew gravely noted...

Dracula sighing...

"Still..." Praetorius smiled... "It would be a most interesting experiment...The demon would put up a terrible resistance as it must return to Hell on the soul's return to Earth...A far more difficult situation than with Mr. Walthrop or Ms. Summers, indeed...And Ms. Rosenberg is, like me, somewhat addicted to the darker corners of Science..."

Like I'll pass on one more chance to have a crack at my red-haired goddess...

"Yes..." he nodded... "Your goal being so worthy...The lives to be saved from a foul creature of the night..." he paused at Dracula's stern look... "Uh, sorry...I assure you I did not mean insult to your dear wife..."

A slight nod...

"And your redemption being at stak...Risk..." he hastily corrected the faux pas..."Yes...I believe I will speak to Willow...Of course it would have to be done under the strictest secrecy...Her colleagues must never learn of what we are attempting..."

"Dr. Praetorius...How can I thank you?..."

Andrew put up a hand...

"I can give no promise as to either Ms. Rosenberg's willingness to participate or the success of our endeavors, Count...But I will speak to her...In the meantime, I invite you to stay as my guest here..."

"I would appreciate that, Professor...I fear I may have caused a bit of disturbance in the manner of my transport to Sunnydale...Though I assure you, no human has been harmed by me in any way...It was merely that my method of necessity was limited to what my agents could do for me while I was trapped in stasis by that fool Vladimir...And my sudden rising came as a bit of a surprise to some museum guards...Though I'm hopeful any stories they tell will be dismissed as foolish tales..."

"Hmmn...Very likely...But tell me, Count...Just how did your great-grandnephew get the drop on you, anyway?..."

"Oh..." Dracula waved a hand... "It was my own fault...You know how grandparents and the like are... I never should have told him the story... I couldn't refuse when he claimed to want to assist ole grand uncle Vlad in his redemption...And before I knew it, the little bastard had me in the path of my poor Elisabete's crucifix..."

"Indeed...Well, let me have Gibbons set up a special room for you and see about getting you properly supplied with your nutrient needs...Tomorrow, as soon as possible, I will see Ms. Rosenberg and discuss the matter...."

As soon as possible, providing I can get past that watchdog of a wiccan spouse of hers...

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html



Part VI...

Not without considerable grumbling on Bud's part, the two security guards/assistant curators had managed to help Oz out of his crate and to an ornate couch destined to bear the wax figure of a dying Cleopatra...Fortunately protected by a plastic liner given the amount of blood still trickling from Oz's wounds...

Nor had Bud been much reassured by Oz's feebly-voiced insistence that he was innocent of ill intent...Sounded like a story he'd read about a master international art thief...Able to assume disguises of all kinds...

Though he had to concede the wounds did look real enough...As did the oozing blood as well...

"You don't look much like a master thief..." Lou noted...

"If you're innocent, what were you doin' hiding in that crate?" Bud growled... "Not to mention how ya managed to get shot..."

"I wasn't hiding..." Oz sighed... "Look, I can explain...But I'm hurt and I got stop this bleeding...Please, ya gotta help me..."

"I've called an ambulance...They're on the way..." Lou said...Oz trying to rise...No...

"Careful..." Bud displayed an iron poker, seized from another display...

"Take it easy, kid...They'll be here soon...Bud, he's in no shape to hurt anyone..." Lou waved his partner back...

"No...No, please...I don't need an ambulance...And it could be dangerous...I mean, expensive..."

Hmmn?...Bud dropped his frown at his soft?hearted and -headed colleague to eye Oz who'd sunk back to the couch...

"I don't have insurance...I wouldn't want you guys or the place here...Say?..." he made a vague wave... "...What is this place, anyway?..."

"McNab Museum..." Bud, curtly... "Which you know darned well..."

"The hospital's gotta take ya, kid..." Lou noted...

"If you know the Rosenbergs for real..." Bud cut in, sternly... "You won't have any problems payin' a hospital bill..."

"Rosenbergs...Sure..." Oz nodded... "But look...If you could just call Willow Rosenberg...She'd take care of everything...Please..."

"Absolutely..." Willow's voice, behind them...A startled Bud and Lou whirling to see a water-sodden, bedraggled Willow, Tara beside her, both dripping steadily on the newly-lain carpet...

Hey...Tara made a feebly pleasant wave...



***

"Here come the cops..." Xander nodded slightly at the car windshield in the direction of the just-halted Sunnydale PD car, light quietly flashing... "Should I...?"

"Just keep going..." Giles, quickly... "We'll have to trust that Willow and Tara can take care of Oz until we can reach them...It will do no good for us all to be arrested..."

Amen to that, Anya thought...Blinking a moment as she caught the faint view of a shadow from the corner of her eye, fading back to the rear...

A rather tall shadow...A chill crossing her heart...

"Fellas..." she hissed, looking away before spying a second, slighter shadow...Turning back again and pointing, even as the car moved past the museum and entered a stream of traffic, now somewhat slowed by the curious pausing to view the parked police car and its disgorged officers busily checking the scene before moving up to the museum's front door...

"What?..." Xander, keeping eyes on the road...Giles and Faith turning to look...

"Something...Near the back of the museum..." Anya, unable to resist a slight tremble...

Why am I getting this feeling?...Just like back at Willow's...

"I don't...Is it the others?..." Giles asked, staring...

"No, it was headed for the back, not coming out...And it sure wasn't Willow or Oz..."

"I'm on it..." Faith sat up...Stake in hand...

"No...Wait, Faith..." Giles insisted..."Lets not make a bad situation worse by rushing in the back way..."

"But..." Faith, readying her new mantra..."It's what Buffy..."

"...Lets go in the front door asking what all the excitement's about...Like any overly curious, somewhat voyeuristic bystander..." he concluded...

"Sounds good to me…" Xander nodded… "Just call me Charles Voyer…"

The others, excepting Anya, looked at him…

"What?...We watch Boyer movies…After all, I was the one who cursed him…" Anya noted… "If you can call it that…"

"Cursed?..." Giles stared…

"He was six foot one when I met him and headed for an easy ride in the movies…But after I was done with him, he got determined to make it as a great movie lover, whether or not he was shorter than his female leads…One of the few times I actually inspired a guy…" she smiled at the thought…

"With a curse I mean…" she patted Xander's shoulder…

"Damnit, girl..." Will hissed at the tall figure next to him...Motionless now as they stood just inside the back entrance of the McNabb House of Horrors... "This is insane, coming right in like this..."

"Sh-shh...Gotta know what's up..." Buffy hissed back, waving for quiet, straining to hear what was being said through the closed door to the museum lobby before them...

***

"You see guys, my cousin Danny didn't mean any harm...You know how those idiot frat boys at UCal-Sunnydale are...He was totally not to blame for this, he didn't know what they were up to..." Willow hastily continued as she knelt by Oz on his couch, eyeing the front door for the approach of the Sunnydale men in blue... "And it would look terrible for him if he got mixed up in this kind of trouble...Please, guys...Tara and I did our best to get here and stop them, soon as we heard..." 'Cousin Danny' groaning...Perhaps as much at his new title...As Tara on his other side gently as possible helped him to his feet...

"I don't think he oughta be moving around..." Lou shook his head...

"Your ambulance still isn't here..." Willow pointed out... "We'll get him to the hospital a lot faster than the cops could..."

Tara offering her warmest, most convincing smile as she supported Oz ...Arranging the blanket Lou had provided for him around his trembling form...

"Prank, huh?...Since when is shooting a guy a prank?..." Bud frowned...

Ummn...Willow blinked...Well...

"Oh, my God!!..." Tara clapped hand to mouth... "You mean they actually shot him?!!...I thought he'd fallen or something...Oh, no!!..."

"That 'element' creeping in..." Willow sighed, nodding solemnly... "You guys know what I mean...I will have my dad speak to the Dean tomorrow...That animals' house has gotta be closed down..."

A bang at the locked front door...

Oh-oh...

"Fellas, please...Just let us take Danny out the back way...I promise you, I will call Mr. McNabb in the morning myself and arrange to cover any damages..."

"A little hard to explain blood all over the place..." Bud frowned...

"Hmmn?..." Willow, brightly... "Oh, that..." she indicated the now clean couch and carpet around it...

Huh?...Bud and Lou...And Oz, a bit feebly...Staring where the blood had been...Now clean as new...

"We got that covered..." she smiled... "Tara's such a whiz at cleaning...A little salt and a rag and bingo..."

"When did she...?" Bud began...

Another bang...

"Guys...Please?..." Willow tried... "You know where I live...And Mr. McNabb doesn't want any scandal before his place opens...Just tell 'em the new alarm system went screwy and you thought

there might be a burglar till the sprinklers came on..."

"Bud, the kid has gotta get to a doctor...We can sort this out later..." Lou insisted to Bud's glare...

"Yeah?...But what about the Dracula exhibit...?" Bud frowned... "Did those punks take it?..."

"Dracula?..." Willow looked at Tara...Who staggered a bit as Oz now passed out in her grip...

"Oz!..." Willow grabbed at him as the third and loudest series of bangs was heard at the front...

"Ah...Take him...But tell those punks if the exhibit's not back in an hour...!" Bud waved them off... "And you better square things with our cousin Art or you'll be getting a visit from me...And the cops!..."

"Yeah...Sure...Thanks..." Willow hastily nodded, carefully dragging Oz back, Tara helping on the other side...Lou turning to Bud...

"You better let those cops in before they break the door down...I'll see they get out back..."



"All right, all right...But I mean what I say..." Bud strode off, grumbling...

"Lets go, ladies..." Lou urged the two on...

"Really, thanks..." Willow whispering huskily as they pulled Oz to the rear exit, Lou moving to clear the way and at last hold the door...

"Just get him to a doc...And tell the Slayer about Dracula...She's your pal, right?..." he eyed Willow who stared back...The two ladies carefully supporting the unconscious Oz between them, his blanket beginning to stain with blood...

Hmmn...That blood removal spell sure has a limited time range...Willow thought...

"You know...?" Tara asked...

"I've lived in Sunnydale since I was a kid...Tell her I saw it...Him...Moving around after we pulled his crucifix out of his mouth..."

"But Dracula..." she began...

"We'll tell her...Thanks..." Willow cut in...

"Right...See ya tomorrow...And I mean that..." Lou gave a hard look...

"Ok..." Willow sighed, nodding…

Oughta be a ball explaining yet another huge insurance bill to Dad…I better use the 'sorry, an experiment went wrong' excuse…He'll have me in rehab if I try the 'little accident with the car' again…

They dragged Oz off, Lou closing the rear door after them...

"Phew..." Willow gasped... "Hang on Oz, I'll teleport you in..."

"Dracula?..." Tara looked at her... "He couldn't be back…?"

She shrugged, trying to concentrate for the spell...How should I know?...Some poseur like those phony Lestats Buffy always used to run into…?

"Probably the other guy's right and it was just a wax statue...Some guys here get an over-active imagination..."

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

Part VII...

"And just how did the sprinkler system get turned on?..." the frustrated tone of an extremely annoyed Artemis McNab, proprietor of Sunnydale's grandest collection of ghouls, freaks, and various demonic and human denizens of the netherworld since the Master had passed on to his just reward...A bored-looking police officer writing on his pad beside him...An officer at the door, speaking to someone...Two other officers searching around...One pausing to stare up at the large mummy in open sarcophagus in an exhibit...

Didn't I see that guy lumbering down Phelps St. a year or so ago?...With that looney Summers kid chasing him?...



"Who knows, Art?..." security guard Bud shrugged at his fuming cousin... "The thing went off just after the alarms sounded...Right, Lou?..."

"Yeah...Just started up while we were..." Lou paused at McNab's fierce stare...

"... 'while-we-were...' What?...What the hell did you two idiots do?!..."

"Us?...We didn't do anything..." Bud shook his head... "Just what you told us about getting the last exhibits over to their spots...Then..." he waved a hand...

"Yeah..." Lou nodded... "We didn't do anything...It was just after we opened up Dracula and..."

"I was supposed to open in two days!...What the hell, look at this place..."

"It's not too bad, Art..." Bud tried... "The rugs are dryin' fast and we just gotta clean up a little and throw the exhibits' costumes in the dryer..."

"Moron!...Those 'costumes' are either expensive or authentic and priceless...Tell me you didn't try drying them...?!"

"Uh...No, not yet..." Bud hastily nudged Lou who quickly made a mumbled excuse regarding the bathroom and hurried off to the back where several exhibits' outfits had just begun tumbling in the dryer...

"Joey, you remember this guy?..." the officer still staring at the mummy nudged his passing partner...Who paused to take a look...

"Another one?..." Joey sighed up at the exhibit...

"You know if we hadn't been here to turn things off..." Bud carefully noted...

McNab put up a hand... "All right, all right...I'll have the alarm company come in and check it out tomorrow...And the staff will take care of the costumes...Just clean up the worst of the mess and keep an eye out...Remember the system will be off, so don't goof off and take a walk or a snooze..."

"Not a chance...Thanks, Artie...We'll get right to it..."

"I guess we're done here, then...Officer?..." McNab turned to the third policeman just finishing his writing...

"Just let us finish checking in here...Then we should take a look outside, round back...Just in case the alarm didn't sound off on its own..." the officer replied...

"Fine...Then if you don't need me..." McNab began...

"Excuse me, young man..." a voice at the front door...Addressing the officer who'd just informed a bespectacled tall British gentleman and the group of voyeurish bystanders accompanying him that everything was fine, false alarm, and the museum was closed....

Oh, Christ...McNab sighed at the sound...

"McNab..." the Mayor entered, looking round, the Sunnydale police chief in his wake...The officer at door and others in sight, instantly acquiring intensely-devoted-to-duty looks...

"I just heard...Was there a break-in?..."

"No, no...Your..." (idiot, with hand out 24/7) "..Honor...." McNab shook head...

"That we know of..." the officer by his side insisted...

"Ahhh...." the Mayor looked about... "What's happened...To our latest cultural addition...?"

For which the payoffs to you and your Council to get permits probably cost more than the whole construction and outfitting...McNab thought...Bud taking the opportunity to join Lou in back...

"Just a faulty alarm, Francis..." McNab explained....



"We think..." the reporting officer noted, firmly...Eyeing the police chief...Who nodded but bore a glum look, having been dragged from dinner by the Mayor's insistent call...

"In any case, no real harm done that we've found...Your boys...Er..." McNab eyed the Mayor's nervous look...Then the frowning female officer just entering to report the front of the building showing no signs of forced entry... "...People...Were just about to go in back..."

"Good, good...Everyone on their toes?...Very good...I want you to know, Artemis, that this town appreciates your efforts to give us a new cultural institution..."

The female officer, reporting to her superior, the reporting officer, eyed the fake blood of an exhibit depicting Jack the Ripper in mid-career...

"And bring in more economic activity..."

Yeah, why not cash-in on the supernatural and the Undead?...The only resources we got...The chief thought...But didn't we just spend two million last year on another lawsuit claiming the town owed for not protecting property from some Thing...The girl Monster or whatever this time...Running amok?...

Now we're billing ourselves the capitol of this sort of thing?...

"...And that this administration will do everything in its power to help make it a success..." the Mayor caught sight of a wax figure of a comely young woman in Victorian attire being eviscerated by a ghoulish, (hopefully, likewise wax) figure...

Well, nothing you can't see on television...Or every now and then on Main Street, after midnight...

("Now that sounds like a museum..." Angelus noted...

"Dru?...What the devil is 'television'...?"

"A monstrous evil to be inflicted on the world..." she noted solemnly... "But it will be quite nice for the vampire insomniac shut-in by daylight...")

"Is that Chief Brody in there?..." Giles' voice at the door addressing the officer there... "Would you tell him Rupert Giles would like a word?..."

Oh, God...The Chief sighed, hearing...

***

"Think that was Oz..." Buffy noted... "Say, Willow do spell good, huh?..." happily... "She gettin' better all time..."

Unless she blow it and they all dead...she did not say...Giving William an earnest look...

"No..." he whispered back, firmly... "And we'd best vanish as well before..." he grabbed at Buffy as a flashlight shone their way...They backed away from the rear door of the museum, edging carefully toward the wall leading to the rear gate...

"Who's out there?!...Halt!!...Police!!!..." a stern cry...

"Run!..." Will pulled Buffy...Both racing for the rear gate...Though he held back, keeping pace with her somewhat lumbering (Thanks for that great gross motor neural work, Red...) step...

"Go, honey!!!..." Buffy urged him, trying to shove him along...As a shot rang out...And cries to halt swelled behind them...

"Me be...Oh..." she looked back, caught in a flashlight's glare, then gave a startled cry as William picked her from the ground...A shot tearing through her coat...

"Hey?...My new coat!!..." And do you know how hard it was to find a decent-looking coat in my size?... she fumed... "Honey, me too heavy....Put down..." As he raced clumsily with her in his arms...

Though perhaps not all that urgently...She rather enjoying the feeling of being swept away...In her lover's arms...



Not really a common experience when one has reached seven feet in height...And it wasn't likely a bullet would do either of them much damage...

Anyway, turnabout's fair play...The last couple of times, including the fire at his crypt that had made Willow's return to extreme reconstructive surgery necessary, had involved her carrying him...

"Bud?..." within the museum Lou looked anxiously at his partner at the sound of gunfire...

"Just get to work and clam it..." Bud insisted...Refraining from making any look toward the scene of action...

"But if that's Miss Rosenberg and her friend they're shooting at...Shouldn't we go tell them?..."

"She said leave it to her...We leave it to her..."

"But...She said it was just a college prank with the kid and all..."

"Prank my eye...Just zip it and be glad Art didn't notice the Dracula and werewolf exhibits were missing...Yet..." Bud hissed...

Another shot...Stern calls to "Halt!!"...

Uh, boy...Bud sighed at Lou's anxious look...

***

"So who?..." Officer Joey asked the female officer, both glancing briefly back at the group of 'bystanders' just reluctantly allowed entry by the summoned police chief...She shrugged...God knows..."I've seen the English guy with the chief before...Some pal..."

"Isn't that girl the one we arrested for murder a few years back?..." he stared at an alert-looking-while-trying-to-seem-nonchalantly-bystanderly Faith...

"Acquitted...And when we pulled her in two months ago fooling around Greenwood Cemetery the Chief said she was another Summers case...Hands off..."

"Another one?...Are they all with that government thing...?"

"I'd guess so...But 'Summers case'...So no questions..."

"Must be FBI at least...She dresses just like the Summers kid, probably standard field agent...You know they say that 'kid' was probably really thirty-something and maybe CIA to boot..."

"Joe..." warning look...

A puzzled and tad annoyed...This ain't no free street performance...And the box office is closed... McNab by the Mayor likewise eyeing the group...

"Who's the Sherlock type and the others with Brody?..."

"Rupert Giles, friend of Chief Brody who works at our high school...Librarian, I believe..." the Mayor, seeming interested in moving the conversation along...

"Just let us look around a moment or two when your people are done..."Giles asked Chief Brody quietly... "So far as I know it's nothing serious but..."

"Librarian...?" McNab frowned...Particularly at an intent-looking Anya who seemed to be making careful note of all the exhibits in sight...

Definite crowd appeal, she noted to Xander, nodding at the Ripper exhibit...

Shouts and sounds...Including gunshots...From the rear now distracting all...

***

The Willow and Tara Cottage...C...ute, as Anya indeed had said with repressed sardonic air when the happy couple'd moved in...On the Rosenberg...Either we give 'em their own place on the place for a wedding present or we're lucky to see Willow at Passover, Sheila Rosenberg had reluctantly sighed...Estate...



(Passover?...Angelus stared...Oh, I get it... "So...The mad human ghoul woman doctor's Jewish..." he nodded wisely...That explains a lot...

"You just got that?...In the middle of the third tale?..." Spike eyed him...

"It's my vision from the possible future...She just happens to be...That..." Dru, looking a bit...Wouldn't wish to offend anyone...Must be true to my visions...

After all...Some of the nicest vampires I know were...)



"Are you sure you can do this?..." Tara, anxiously...

"Of course...Just let me concentrate...I can almost see the bullet..." Willow frowned, carefully positioned over the side of the unconscious Oz on their kitchen...I think we'll getting a new one, Tara thought...Table...Towels and ice packs stanching the flow of blood which had resumed as Willow's spell had faded out...

"Yeah, but maybe a doctor...?"

"It's only one bullet and not near a vital organ...I'm perfectly capable...Ennnugh..." she twisted around... "Of..." Errrr... "Dealing with..." Arrrrr...Oz gave an unconscious moan...

Uh...

"I thinking the bleeding's worse...Willow, this isn't a dead corpse or collection of corpses you're cutting up...And you're just not that good a surgeon..."

"Well, we can't take him to a hospital...Even if I thought he'd live long enough...Oops..." she pulled back at the flow of blood... "Clamp..."

"Clamp..." Tara placed the surgical clamp in Willow's gloved, open hand... "Willow...We really don't know what we doing...He's gonna die..."

"Don't worry...'Sides, I can deal...Never lost a patient...Permanently, anyway..." she removed her gloved hand, now blood-covered, from Oz... "That's got it for the moment..."

"I don't think Oz would appreciate the reanimated corpse route...Willow..." worried glance at monitors... "Oh, blood pressure's dropping fast..."

"All right, fine...I'll try magics..." she looked at Tara's uncertain face... "There's no time now for anything else...Unless..." she hesitated...

"Andrew might be available..."

Not quite that desperate a situation...Tara frowned...

Still...She sighed again, her native compassion overwhelming the jealous twinge for the moment...

"He is the best..." Willow noted... "But probably too late to get him here now...Just let me focus...And try repeating my blood flow spell..."

I see the desired object in my head...I touch it with my mind...I feel it...I...Holy crap...

"What are you doing?...Willow, he's dying!..." Tara, urgently...

It's ok...The thing last year with Andrew just got me all discombobulated in my thinking...And Oz and I did have quite a nice thing going for a while...Natural that I might find myself thinking of his...Ok, focus...Gay now...Happily married to the woman I love...Uh, right...

Focus...Guy I used to love...Bullet...



Out she comes...Up, up...Focus...

"Tara, I think I need some help here!...Tara...?!" she turned to see Tara rather lost in thought...

"Good heavens!..." Andrew exclaimed, staring at the two women...

Clearly a mixture of fantasy and nightmare...He eyed the shocked Willow...People still wear nightcaps?..., then the now-coming -to-awareness, Tara...Who glared a bit at him...

"Andrew, we got a patient for you..." she indicated Oz...He took a brief look...Hmmn...

Praetorius the physician kicking in, he raised hands and demanded sterile gloves...And some decent lighting...

"Nice..." Willow grinned at Tara, briefly...Putting as much admiration as possible into the look...

"Ladies...A little attention...Scalpel..." Praetorius frowned...Tara slapped one...A tad less force required, he glared...Precious instruments here...Into his hand...

"By the way, very nice teleport, Ms. Rosenberg..."

"Wrong wiccan, Andy..." she nodded at Tara...Who was looking a bit troubled now...

"Ga....Uze..." a hard stare... "Any time you'd like, Ms. Maclauy..."

"Oh...Sorry..." Tara handed the gauze...

"So...Who is the young man?...Whose life I just saved...In the first house call I've made in ten years..." Andrew asked pleasantly...

Wait...He frowned, looking at Oz's face...

Oh, no...

Osborne...

I've just pushed myself down to number three on the pole?...

"Tara?..." Willow patted her... "You might wanna sit down...That was a lotta power you channeled..."

"Vlad?..." Tara whispered, staring...

Hmmn...? Andrew perking ears a bit...Willow staring...

"What?..." Tara looked at the two...

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."



Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html



Part VIII...



The McNabb Museum of Horrors...

"I'm telling you…It was her…" the tall young police officer facing a group consisting of his partner, equally nervous in such company..., the Chief himself…On a routine break-in call?, the Mayor…What the hell, isn't this just some dinky…If rather creepy…Museum? (Quick glance to the obviously well-connected, fuming owner)…, some guy in glasses who looked like a librarian…, and that pretty brunette girl he'd been told not to pursue the other night when he'd reported her running through the Crestwood cemetery at one am…

"…Just like I saw her last year, when we brought her into the station and she broke out…All nine…"

"…Seven…" Giles corrected… "Are you sure about this?..."

"…Fine, seven…It was her…I saw her face as clear as you…uh, sir…" the young officer gulped at the troubled-looking, frowning Chief…

"The Monster…"

The group collectively eyeing him…Then sighing a bit…

Great…

Anya giving Xander a smug glance as they stood to one side, listening...

What'd I tell ya...

"She did look a little better than the last time I saw her…Those scars weren't so bad…" the officer noted…

***

Tara-Willow Cottage, Rosenberg estate...

"I don't think we can keep him here…If one of those guards at the museum…Probably the tall, skinny one with all the sharp remarks…Talks…The police'll be over here…" Tara noted…

"Yes…" Andrew hastily cut in… "It would be a mistake to keep Mr. Osborne here…Anabsolute mistake…" he nodded wisely…Eyeing Tara…

Hey lady…We both have a stake in this one…

"Well, we can't just drop him at a motel…" Willow frowned, looking over at the now peacefully sleeping Oz… "He'll need expert care for days…And someone who knows about his 'special condition' to see he doesn't hurt himself or anyone else…"



"Yeah…" Tara nodded…Both eyeing Andrew…Who blinked…

Whoops…Made my point a little too well…

"Andrew…?" Willow, hard stare…

"I, uh…?"

"Praetorius, you know you owe us big time…" Tara, harder stare…

"It would just be for a few days, Andrew…And after all, you're his doctor…" Willow, winning smile at the end…

Uh…Well…

Don't think I should mention I already have a houseguest…

***

The McNabb Museum...

"So you're saying..." Chief Brody desperately grabbing at the possibility of no new crisis... "...that was Ms. Willow Rosenberg who was running from my men out there...?"

"She was here..." Security guard...er Assistant Curator Lou sighed... "She and her friend...They took the guy who was hurt in the crate..." Cousin Bud having resolutely remained at his post by the laundry...

No way I'm getting mixed up in this mess...

"What...Crate...?" the listening McNabb...

"That one..." Lou pointed at the crate Oz had emerged from...

"My werewolf?..." McNabb, staring...

Giles and the team exchanging wary glances...

"Lets get back to the man in the crate..." Chief Brody insisted... "You say he was wounded?..."

"Shot..."

"Shot?..." McNabb echoed... "What the hell do you mean, shot?!!"

"Shot, Art...And he was just a kid...Barely twenty if that..."

"And Ms. Rosenberg took him with her?..." Brody tried to move on...

"Shot?...From my werewolf crate?!..." McNabb fumed... "Are you drunk or crazy?!!..."

"Mr. McNabb, please..." Brody put a hand... "Go on...Did he go with Ms. Rosenberg?..."

"They took him..." Lou sighed... "But how they got away so quick from your guys..." he shrugged...

"I do not believe this..." McNabb, raging... "You let some girl and her friends steal my werewolf exhibit?!...What kind of idiots are you two?!!..."

"McNabb..." the Mayor hissed... "I'm sure Ms. Rosenberg...Daughter of our third largest employer...Will have a reasonable explanation..."



Hmmn?...McNabb eyed the Mayor...

Rosenberg, eh?...The Rosenbergs?...

Perhaps not so bad as all that...Sunnydale's version of Paris Hilton wants to play a little prank, eh?...An expensive little prank once I have a sitdown with Daddy...

"What did she do with my exhibit?...Was it damaged?..."

My priceless genuine werewolf...Imported from England at cut-rate...Er incredible expense...

"There wasn't an exhibit in the crate...Just that guy..."

"What?!!..."

"Sir, please..." Giles tried... "I'm sure there's a logical..."

"Who the hell are you?!..." McNabb raged... "I've been robbed of a priceless exhibit and some guy wandering in off the street is telling me not to be upset?!!!..."

"Say...?" he suddenly paused, remembering the officer's statement...

"What's all that crap about a Monster?..."

The Mayor rubbing his face...Oh, Lord...

To think I mortgaged my home to win election as mayor of this place...

***

"Sorry..." Buffy tried, hesitantly...

William remaining silent as they hurried along, she back on her own feet...

"Will?..." she tried... "I didn't mean make trouble..."

"Right..." he said, curtly... "You're sure not hurt?..."

"Fine...William...?"

"All I ask is for you not to bring attention to us..." he said, precisely...Urging her along... "To let us have a little peace in our reanimated existences..."

"But no..."

"William..." plaintively... "Wasn't fault..."

"Hold up..." he halted, pulling her to a spot where some trees and lack of streetlighting allowed some protection by night's blackness...

"I don't see any cars, yet...I think we out-ran the ones on foot..." he put a hand on her shoulder...

"I don't mean to get angry with you, love..." he said, gently... "It's just..."

"Me so dumb..." she sighed...

"Buffy..."

"You right...Me too dumb for Mommie...Babe probably dumb too...Sorry..." she sighed, a tad too pathetically...



"Knock it off..." he frowned, then grinned... "At least your acting skills keep improving...A little...Trying playing the 'pathetic seven-foot disability case' with a bit less bathos and you might get me next time..."

"Sorry..." she grinned back, a bit impishly... "Remember next time...Less...Pathe..tic...Pathetic...Hey?..." she beamed...

"Better every day..." he smiled...

She turned serious...Again sincerely downcast...

"You think they know?...Lots of other...Seven foot freaks..." she gave a little smile to his mock frown... "In town..."

"I think one of them at least got a damned good look...Maybe they'll assume it's some other seven foot freak...But if Giles or the others hear..."

Hmmn...Right...She sighed...

"We'll have to keep out of town for a few days..." he noted...

"You mean I will..." she replied... "No one run from my cute six-eleven guy...Girls run after..." she eyed him, narrow look...

"One girl in the coat store chatted me up...And thanks for reminding me of how you nearly broke our cover last time...After I went to all that trouble to bring you in to try things on...You nearly frightened her to death when you got out of the wheelchair and the veil came off..."

"Sorry...She believe 'bad case, scurvy' story, though..."

"Right...And one more tale of 'the Monster woman' to circulate in town...Well..." he looked down the street carefully... "Nobody seems to be coming...I think we can get on home..."

"What about things...?" she began... He looking round...Who?...

"At museum, mean..."

"This time we'll need to leave it to Faith and the gang, I'd say...At least for now...It didn't seem too serious..."

"Willow involved...Giles and Slayer there...Serious..." Buffy shook her head...

"They'll manage for one night...Lets shove for home...Tomorrow we can try and find out if anyone's looking for us..."

"For 'the Monster'..." Buffy put on a grim look...

Grrr...she growled, chucking at his worried face... "I ok...Tole you, over it..."

"Now I got my honey back..." she beamed, hugging him...Unnh...He groaned at the mighty squeeze... "Sorry..."

"Course..." she noted hesitantly... "Would help with adjustment if could fulfill natural mat...Mommie desires..."

"Buffy..."

"Just rememberin' from psych class..See?...Memory gettin' better every day..."

"Girl...Knock it off...And lets go..."

***

The elegant townhouse of the famed 'wizard of cloning'...And you can bet U Cal-Sunnydale is now begging for me to return to my old post as Chairman of Biology...Booted for knowing too much, indeed...Hah!...Dr. Andrew Praetorius...



"Ok..." Willow, looking round, a mite peaked from her bout of teleportation...She and Tara having agreed it was best not to try and transport Oz by car...

"This should do fine..."

Yes...It being my own well-appointed bedroom, Andrew glared at the sleeping Oz in his bed...

"And you've already got bars on the windows..." Tara waved toward a window...

"Yes...Magically enhanced...This being Sunnydale after all..." Andrew noted...

"And there plenty of folks who must want a piece of you..." Tara smiled sweetly...

"Tara..." Willow hissed... "Andy, we are grateful for the help...It'll just be a few days till Oz can get up and about...Can you square things with your staff?...I mean regards the night-time howling and rabid screaming..."

Not to mention claw marks in the walls, Tara added, again sweetly, regarding the fine wall hangings and carved woodwork...

Hmmn?...

"Honey..." Willow waved a hand... "I'm sure Oz will be too weak to be much bother..."

"Yes...Well...My staff is used to the occasional unusual visitor...Though perhaps not to patients residing at my home..."

"I'll..." "We'll..." Tara cut in... "...Be in every day to change his dressings and check on him...They won't have to bother about a thing..." Willow insisted...

Every day, eh...? Even with Oberfuhrer Maclauy on guard, not a bad deal...Wait...

Dracula...

"All right then, all set...I'll..." "We'll...!" Tara corrected... "...see you tomorrow..." Willow raised hands...

"Ummn...I should mention I do have a guest..." Andrew, hurriedly..."A colleague of mine from Romania...Dr. Alucard...We're hoping to form a collaboration to set up a facility in Eastern Europe...Cheaper labor, you know..."

"Alucard...?" Tara grinned... "Are you trying to be funny, Andrew?..."

"What?..." Willow stared... Alucard?...I...

Oh..."Very funny Andrew..." she frowned...

"So the name is popular over there...Sue me..." Praetorius shrugged...

Oh, shit...The worse words that can issue from a modern physician's...Especially an immensely wealthy (formerly) eccentric modern physician-with-a-bent-for-cutting-edge-research's lips...But as long as we've mentioned it...

"Uh...Before you go...!" he called...

Willow pausing...Huh?...

He hurried to his bedside cabinet and opening a drawer pulled out a sheet...Writing hastily...

"If you two wouldn't mind signing here?...You may print Mr. Osborne's name and sign for him...There..."

"'The patient understands that owing to emergency conditions of the surgery all rights of litigation are hereby waved'..." Tara read...

Wish I'd had Dawn sign something like this...Willow thought...



"Just a formality..." Andrew noted...Offering pen...

"Fine..".Willow shrugged, signing...

"Alucard?...Really?..." Tara asked... "You don't suppose he's a relative...?"

"Possibly...They were a large and prominent family in their day...But I hadn't wished to give offense by asking..." Andrew, solemnly...

"Just keep Oz locked in and we'll take care of him..." Willow handed the paper back...

"Yeah..." Tara nodded... "You don't even need to come in unless he starts tearing the place down..."

"Lovely...Good evening, ladies..." he sighed as Willow raised and waved hands and with Tara clinging firmly to her right arm, the two vanished in a spreading blue glow...

Was Maclauy sticking her tongue out at me just as they dematerialized?...Praetorius glared...

"Tara...?" Willow eyed her mate as they reappeared in their living room...

"Yeah?..."

"'Vlad'?..."

"Huh?..."

***

"Monsters, ghosts, bah!...All I know is...I've been robbed and I want action...!" McNabb fumed to the Mayor and Chief...Pointedly ignoring Giles standing beside the Chief...

Lord knows I've paid enough in bribes to the whole damned city government...

Faith, Xander, Anya, Lou, and a reluctantly-pulled-from-the-laundry...A see what you got us into? glare to Lou, Bud...Looking on with those officers still in the museum...Faith doing her best...It being what Buffy would do, she assumed...To follow Giles' lead to keep quiet and look innocent while keeping as close to the action as possible...

Anya however unable to resist the occasional I-tole-you look at Xander...As Xander pondered the possibilities...

On the one hand, would be nice to have Buffy back in any form...Dawn might even be somewhat pleased when she got the news...

On the other hand...All seven greenish feet of her was ready to kill us all last time we met...

"Artemis, my friend...I assure you, we will do everything to resolve this matter...Right, Brody?..." the Mayor addressed the Chief...

"We'll do everything possible..."

"Sounds like all you need to do is go and get my exhibit back from this Rosenberg girl...She and her friends must have it...So why don't we go over and get it?...Tonight..."

The Mayor eyed the Chief who eyed Giles...Who gave a non-committal look back...

"Perhaps...It being so very late..." the Mayor began...

"What?...Give her time to dispose of the goods?...Whose side are you people on, anyway?!..." McNabb raged... "Either you get my exhibit back undamaged...Tonight...Or I go to see my friend Governor Schickelgruber..."



Hmmn...

"Perhaps it's not that late..." the Mayor noted...

"That's more like it!...All right, you two..." McNabb turned to Bud and Lou... "...Dolts, finish straightening up and get the crates outta here..." he moved toward the crate holding the Dracula coffin...Now on its end, crate lid facing him...

Uh-oh...Lou tried looking at anything, innocently...Bud likewise...

"And get Dracula here..." he opened the crate lid...Eyed the standing-up black coffin in the open crate...Holding the crate lid, ready to close...

Hmmn...Well...Can't hurt to just have a look...

Phew...Bud, ready to mop brow...Danger averted...

Nice one, Xander, Faith, Anya, noted to selves with experienced eye...Real craftsmanship there, wherever it came from...

"Out of..." McNabb blinked at the now open, empty coffin...

"Anything wrong, Artemis?..." the Mayor asked...

***

"We're here..." a deep voice pronounced...As two figures in black faced the many times repaired "Welcome to Sunnydale"..."Penalty for defacement of this sign $2,500 fine and two years imprisonment..."

"Sunnydale..." the figure next to the speaker shook its head... "Never changes, does it?..."

"I wouldn't say that..." the first speaker replied, firmly...Pounding a fist into a hand...A rather oddly stiff hand...

Ow...The first speaker noted... "Help me, here, willya?..." holding a strangely jack-knifed left arm to his companion who gave a tug snapping it back out to its original straight, stiff length...

"When do we make contact...With The Slayer...?" the second speaker asked...

"In good time...First we scout the place out...And see what we can dig up ...Get the lay of the land..."

"All right...But..." the second, hesitant..."We are here for the mission, right?...Not..."

"If the stories are true and the Monster is dead, it's over...But...If not..." resolute pause...

"I have a debt to pay...And a score to settle..."

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html



Part IX...



"What do we do, Giles...?" Faith asked as the team stood outside the McNabb Museum of Horrors...The said Artemis McNabb following the Mayor and Chief Brody to a waiting patrol car...Police officers still scouting the grounds, pausing to cast appraising looks at the "bystanders", "Chief's old friend and his family", "Slayer's Watcher and her old team"...One veteran of the force noted to a partner...still hovering round the crime scene...

"Should I race over to Willow's with every ounce of Slayer speed?...Buffy would, right?..."

"I think it would be easier to use my cell..." Giles pulled out the named small electrical communication device from his trouser pocket...

("Is that like the one in the other story?..." Angelus, eagerly... "Cells, the Watcher called them?..."

Dru nodded..."Don't really understand the name, myself...Wireless telephone seems more appropriate..."

"Cells..." Shrug at the name... "Anyway, I love those things...Telephones without wires...You could telephone your victim and be standing right behind her, fangs out..."

"Perhaps it's that they're all linking Humanity together..." Spike noted... "Like the cells of a beehive..."

All eyeing him...

Well, forgive a poet for having a little sensibility even in demonic form...he frowned...

"Charming..." Darla shook her head... "But when do we get to the murders...?"

"I must follow the vision as it leads me, grandmother..." Dru noted...

"Well, try and get it to lead to someone's throat...Soon...")

"Though Buffy probably would have run off without thinking of the phone..." Anya noted...

"Hello, Willow?..." Giles asked the phone... "Yes...You did?...Excellent..." he looked at the others... "They've secured Oz...Yes, but Willow...I'm afraid the police are on their way...With a very irate Mr. McNabb, the museum proprietor...Looking for his werewolf exhibit..."

"And Dracula..." Xander noted... "And a Dracula statute...No, wax...It seems to have disappeared as well..." Giles told the phone... "Yes, wax..." he repeated... "Possibly that was a shipping error...In any case, they're coming to your house...One of the guards here mentioned you running off with Oz..."

"Why would anyone steal a wax statute of Dracula?..." Anya asked as Giles continued on phone...

"The guy said it was priceless..." Xander replied... "And like Giles said it could be the shipment got mixed up..."

"Besides...This is Sunnydale...Maybe Drac has fans who wanted to build a shrine since Buffy blew him away...Needed a statute to finish it..."

"He called everything there priceless...But I wonder which..." Anya pondered...

"I'd actually go with the fan explanation..." Faith, nod to a pleased Xander...

"No...I mean which Dracula..."

Xander and Faith looking at each other...

"Vladimir, the scuzz-bag grandnephew Buffy nailed or Vlad the legendary Impaler, founder of the line...His granduncle..." Anya explained... "Probably Vladimir...I doubt there's a really good likeness of Vlad around to copy from..."



"I was minion to Dracula's dirt-bag grandnephew...?" Xander, staring...

God...To Dracula the Big Guy bad enough...But a certain acceptability...I mean "Dracula"...But...

"See...This is why I never mentioned it before..."Anya sighed at his crestfallen face... "But honey, Vladimir had nearly as good powers of thrall as his granduncle...Remember even Buffy was under the influence for a bit...And more than she cared to admit to us, I'd bet..."

And speaking of Buffy...She frowned...

***

"So this young man is a friend of Miss...er Ms...?" Trying to get that modern form of address right... "Rosenberg, doctor?..." Dracula, comfortably seated in a leather armchair in Praetorius' rather magnificent library, gratefully accepting a glass of fine brandy from Gibbons, the butler...

"Indeed, Count..." Andrew, from his chair, nodding a dismissal to Gibbons while carefully fingering glass and savoring treasured sip...My only weakness... "Which is why it is critical that he not become aware of your presence in the house until we have managed to speak with her regarding your 'project proposal'..And I should mention he happens to be a werewolf..."

"Ah...That explains it..." Dracula nodded... "I did sense an oddly familiar presence in the house...Werewolf, eh?...Poor lad...How long...?"

"I'm actually not sure...The boy is quite young and so far as I know not arrested in aging...Not long, I'd say..."

"And you say, shot?..."

"Yes, quite gravely wounded...But I believe he will survive..."

"This violent country..." Dracula sighed... "No offense, Doctor...I realize I am hardly one to cast the first stone...But I was reading this afternoon that the Georgian...er Georgia...State Legislature has voted to allow citizens to carry loaded weapons into public places like restaurants...Horrible..."

"Indeed...A barbarian wilderness yet...Still I believe the boy was shot in England, according to Ms. Rosenberg and Ms. Maclauy....While in his transformed state..."

"Poor lad, poor lad...Well, lucky for him to be in your capable hands, Doctor...Naturally I'll abide by your wishes and do my best to avoid letting him learn my identity or sense my nature..."

"Thank you, Count...As I mentioned I have told Ms. Rosenberg that I have a fellow doctor, from Romania, as guest...Using your current identity..." Thin smile... "We even speculated you might be a descendant..."

"Hmmn...It seems that was an unfortunate choice...But as I said I was pressed for time...A descendant, you say?...Well, I will try to do my best to seem acceptably human should there be a meeting...I've done fairly well in the past, especially since my reclamation, even with Slayers on occasion...Not wishing to have to confront some poor girl simply doing her duty..."

"Yes..." Andrew pondered... "Of course with Ms. Rosenberg coming often to check on Mr. Osborne, the right opportunity to broach your proposal to her might well come up sooner than we'd hoped..."

"I see...Yes...How fortunate...Do you think the lady would consider it favorably, Doctor?..."

"We can but ask, Count...Still, given her scientific curiosity and dedication to the field...Not to mention her boundless compassion and generous, open heart..."

"Why, Dr. Praetorius..." Dracula smiled kindly at his host... "You speak like a man in love...And I know the disease only too well..."

Shrug..."A man may dream a dream that must forever elude him, Count...And sometimes one must accept Fate...But it is good to know that I can again possibly be of service to another pair of star-crossed lovers...As with poor Mr. and Mrs. Walthrop..Though I will hope that we can provide you and your poor Elisabete with a happier ending..."



"To be reunited even for an instant and have a final chance to beg my love's soul's forgiveness is more than sufficient happiness for me, Doctor...And I truly appreciate your efforts for us...But I must bow to your fortitude in accepting what Fate has dealt you...I shall dare to hope, my friend, that you will find your own Elisabete...Or Ms. Rosenberg, at least in another..."

"We shall see...But speaking of Fate, my dear Count, or from now on, 'Dr. Alucard'...Since a tragic accident of Fate's making has provided us with an opportunity, I think we should be off about our labors..."

"Ah...Yes..." 'Dr. Alucard', a bit hesitant...

"Is there something wrong?..."

"Oh, no..." 'Alucard' waved a hand... "It's just...Though I appreciate that we are fortunate your staff was so alert as to inform us of the opportunity...The notion of desecrating a grave...Several graves...I realize it must be done...Still..."

"Indeed?..."

"I've never committed such blasphemy, doctor...My apologies...I know with my record that must seem a trifle ludicrous to you...But even in my worst days of evil I treated the dead with respect...Seems a bit sad to have to abuse their poor bodies now to achieve the last stage of my redemption..."

"Yes...Well...That is sad...Very sad...Indeed I wish we could simply clone a new body for your beloved, my friend...However, I have found for the recapture of souls as well as for the complete process of reanimation, a framework of previously living tissue is a necessity...I assure you we will perform our tasks with the utmost gravity and respect..."

"Of course, Doctor..."

"And fortunately it will not be necessary to use a deceased brain as was done in the case of poor Mrs. Walthrop..."

A mess of a project I had no part in...He rather smugly noted to himself...

Though, to be fair...Willow was breaking new ground there...And she'd never tried resummoning a soul before...Needed the support of the original brain the first time out...

He paused after calling to Gibbons to fetch the car...To be driven himself this night...

"I am sure even the dead we deal with tonight...All of whom my people established as being voluntary organ donors before their tragic demise..."

Well, this time anyway...Though perhaps not precisely of the organs and skeletal bits we plan to borrow...

"...Would be happy to do what they could to aid you in restoring your wife and finding permanent peace..."

"I hope so, Doctor..." Dracula sighed...

"Well, our assistants will meet us at the site...I believe, actually, you may be of great help with them, 'Dr. Alucard'...I being unable to make use of my previous trained human staff for such work this time out..."

Mears being a fried mass, hastily buried in an unmarked grave, and Levinson being permanently out of the business...

"...Am forced to rely on somewhat less tractable assistance..."

"Whatever help I may be of, Doctor...May I say again how grateful I am that you are so willing to commence the work at once..."

"One must seize the day...Or night, my friend...And what Providence has provided..." Praetorius, smiling...

"With all due respect and reverence for the departed, naturally..." he noted solemnly to Dracula's slightly distressed look...

***

"And we're really very sorry about your exhibit..." Willow, apologetically to the fuming McNabb...

Really sorry...Tara echoed...

"Like we told your guards we'd no idea those frat jerks had done something so crazy...And then when we found out poor Oz had been shot..."

"And my exhibit just vanished?!...Well, where the hell is that kid now?!!..." McNabb, angrily...

"I'm sure Chief Brody and his people'd like a word with him..."

Chief Brody sighing a bit...

"A friend of ours, Dr. Andrew Praetorius, took him in...Saved his life even...He's there now, recovering..."

"The Andrew Praetorius?..." the Mayor asked...

Our second-largest employer...And the world-famous cloning wizard of Sunnydale's Technical Park?...

The famous and loaded Praetorius....? McNabb thought...Smiling just a bit in spite of his rage...

"And what about my Dracula?!...They couldn't've just walked him out the door!..."

Uh...The Mayor and the Chief...And several veteran cops...Eyeing each other...

In Sunnydale?...

"Dracula...?" Tara stared...

"We couldn't say, sir..." Willow sighed... "But you know how that 'element' operates nowadays...Though I'm sure we...And my father...Would be happy to cover your losses if the exhibits were damaged..."

There goes our honeymoon in Europe...Tara, bleak look...

London, Paris, Rome...My first chance to go...Our first as a couple...

Odd that I was so looking forward to seeing Bucharest, though...

Must be all the work with poor Buffy and Faith...

***

"We've no real proof Buffy is alive...er well, existing..." Giles noted reassuringly to the team as he drove back through downtown Sunnydale toward Faith's apartment complex...

"How many seven foot tall green women resembling the Monster...?" Anya paused at the looks... "...Buffy...Do you think there are in Sunnydale, Giles?..."

More looks...

"Ok, right..." she shrugged... "But the officer recognized her...And I felt something at the Rosenbergs' earlier..."

"And we will take all due precautions, Anya..." Giles said... "But if it were Buffy...Somehow having survived last year's blast...She certainly has made no attempt to threaten us or anyone else in the course of the year..."

"That we know..." Anya insisted...

"Maybe I should make a few sweeps..." Faith suggested...



"It's late, Faith..." Giles shook his head..."And we've all had a busy night..."

"And Buffy's not likely to remember you too kindly..." Anya pointed out...

"I think we should let this matter rest for tonight...Review events in the morning...After all, we've rescued Oz and Willow says Praetorius is confident he'll survive his wounds...If the...Buffy...Is the creature seen tonight, she's been of no recent threat and we should proceed with the utmost care in dealing with her...For her sake as well as ours..." Giles involuntarily fingering the throat Buffy had neared choked the life out of last year...

"Just like last year with the mill fire and the fire at Spike's crypt..." Anya shook her head... "I knew she wasn't dead...And she'll be coming for us...Maybe like Angelus would...One by one, after getting us all riled..."

("I have a fan?...Who is this dear creature?..." Angelus beamed...)

"She didn't hunt us down...We hunted her..." Xander sighed... "With several lynch mobs' help...Maybe she just wants to be left alone..."

"And is stalking us just for ole times' sake?..." Anya, sarcastically...

"All she wanted was William...Willow told us..."

"And if William's gone...And she blames us?...On top of everything Willow did to her?..."

"She hasn't hurt anybody since last year..."

Guys...Faith eyed the couple...

"Are you willing to risk our baby?...Me?..." Anya fumed...

"All I'm saying is..." Xander put up a hand... "Giles is right...We need to proceed carefully..."

"That should work when the Monster comes smashing through our front door..."

An...Xander sighed...

"She didn't seem too willing to let bygones be bygones when she kidnaped Tara and threatened to kill us all..."

"She only said that to get Willow to resurrect William..."

Ah...Anya waved an angry hand...

"You still think it's Buffy in that thing...I'm telling you she's evil...Why would Buffy have wanted Spike unless she'd turned evil?...Willow probably blew it getting her soul...It's probably a demon in there...Using her memories...Whatever's left of them in that brain Mears dropped...To get us..."

"We can't be sure of her nature or her motives, Xander..." Giles cut in... "Nor whether she is an instrument of evil or simply a bit vexed with us, Anya...If she is even still with us..."

"So...For the moment..." And the sake of your marriage, he did not say, looking briefly back at the angry, hmmn, yes, definitely...a tad jealous, Anya and frustrated Xander... "Lets accept we can do nothing further tonight..."

He pulled into a spot in Faith's apartment garage... "Faith, try and get some rest...You may well be called on for rather strenuous efforts in the next few days..."

***

Willie Bar...Favored hangout of Sunnydale's darker element...Both living and not...

To which an anxious Mayor with aides in tow had dragged an uncomfortable...And equally anxious...Chief Brody after a somewhat mollified McNabb had finally agreed to await developments as to his missing property...



More important things than an irate campaign contributor with political muscle worrying both...

And apart from that which the Slayer and her team might offer...In their own good time, after the city had yet again seen economic devastation and potential disaster, the Mayor had nervously insisted...The Chief all too well aware the Mayor's real fears being somewhat more personal...He too having been involved in the Monster's brief capture last year...Willie's being the best place to see 'help' capable of deal with such concerns...

"Brody...Do you think it could be?...Is that man of yours reliable?..."

"He's reliable...It could be..."

"The Monster...Back?..." the Mayor sighed...

"Back and probably not too happy with the people of Sunnydale..." Brody nodded, a wan look... "Still, probably best to leave it to the Slayer..."

The Mayor shook his head... "Whatever your faith in that young woman, Brody...I fail to see how she can protect this city from a creature like that..."

"I really don't think another lynch mob's the answer, sir..."

"Indeed...And that's why we're here, Brody...I want a little more in our corner than a slight twenty year old girl..."

"I wouldn't underestimate the Slayer, your Honor..." a deep voice, smiling tone... "Though I agree, it can't hurt to have a little extra in your corner in dealing with the Monster...Having met her myself..."

"Oh…You've… 'Met her'?..." the rather annoyed Mayor eyed the source of the comment, a tall, well-built figure dressed all in black, seated at a table just across from the booth where the Mayor, aides, and Brody sat, with a slighter, though equally tall, bespectacled youngish man beside him…

"I have…You might even say I have intimate knowledge of her…Not to mention…" cold grin, pat of his right arm… "A keepsake she left me with…"

"Indeed?...And you have a suggestion for us, sir…?"

"I might…" the figure rose from its seat, crossed over to the large dartboard where several men and 'others' nervously cleared a space for him, raised an arm, and to the shocked surprise of the two civic leaders, rammed four of the darts from the board into the arm stretched level before its chest…

"There's only one way to deal with such a creature, Mr. Mayor…" the mysterious figure in black leaned forward…

"My way…" he moved his arm in a sudden, rapid jerk, causing all four darts to fly…

Directly into the chest of a large, hulking figure that had just risen from a booth on recognizing an old menace and taken an assault posture…

The Mayor, the Chief, and various assorted aides stared…At the large dust cloud where the creature had been…

The bespectacled young man beside the figure in black nodding… "So much for Gorgos the Magnificent…" He pulled out a cell phone and excusing himself from the group, rose to make a call…

"Good thing Willie still uses darts with a little real wood…Sorry for the interruption, fellas..." the figure in black smiled at the still startled group…

"Yes…" the bespectacled young man noted to his phone… "The last of the Gordians is destroyed…

"Angel..." Angel offered the limber hand of his remaining upper limb...Shoving back the artificial one to a position at his side with some slight difficulty... To the staring Mayor...

"Liam Angel..."

("Well, at last. I'm finally here to wreak havoc and spatter gore. When do I start killing and feasting, Dru?...Preferably after staking our feeble souled Spike?..." eager anticipatory look…



Snarl from fuming Spike across the table…

Ummn… "Well, Father…Actually…" Ummn… Brightly… "Will is immortally human now, in the story…You can't stake him…In fact he's nearly indestructible…"

Hmmn?...William blinked…Really?...Well…

"Stake-proof?…Indestructible?…And Immortal, too, Dru?..." he beamed…

"Oh, yes…Nearly…"

"With whining, putrid soul…And clinging brain-dead Slayer wife, family man…" sneer… "Unlike some of us who remain true and pure…"

"Uh, Father…You do remember in the last story I mentioned you getting a soul…?"

Ha!...Spike chortled at the stricken expression…Say wha…?

"But your new persona, Angel is very heroic…And he is still a vampire, though souled…" she gave an encouraging smile…

Bwha…Darla choked…A souled vampire?...

Heroic?...

"Still in vamp with soul, eh?...Not even able to taste the pleasures of daylight…Like some of our future Immortal selves…Well…Cheer up, 'Angel'…" William grinned… "At least from the sound of it you'll have a charming new boyfriend…")

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

 

 

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy

the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special

favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces

the more or less Big Bad...

 

 

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think

not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss

Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the

Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

 

 

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

 

 

Part X...

 

 

McCloskey Street, east Sunnydale…

 

“Hey, fellas…You guys out for a good time?...” the tall brunette in

low-cut top and slacks cooed from under a streetlight…

 

Hmmn…Attractive yet not quite late-night hooker get-up…Andrew eyed the…

Ah…Right...As Dracula politely motioned for him to wait…

 

Begone and do not trouble us again…” a hard stare at the vampiress

who frowned then blinking in realization, backed off…

 

“Pardon, Lord…” she begged, quaking in fear… “Just seeking my feeding…

Mercy, Great One...”

 

“Stop...Look at me…” he told her…She unable to break away from his

stare…Praetorius watching with not a little pleasure to see his guest

displaying his talents…Now that’s the Dracula I’ve read...

 

“When?...” he asked…

 

“A month ago…” she whispered…

 

“Your family?...They know of your death?...”

 

“I killed them…”

 

“No…” a kindly note… “Your demon killed them…Were any of them raised?...

 

“No…” she shook her head… “I was too young…”

 

“Very well…Go then and seek the Slayer…Beg her to release you to peace…

And to let your soul seek those who I assure you will still love you now they know all…”

 

“Yes, Lord…” she nodded, immediately running off…

 

“Poor child…” Dracula sighed to Andrew… “But with her family gone,

there is no point in trying to recover her soul here…Only needless pain for her...”

 

“That was very kind of you, Count…”

 

“I must do what little I can, Doctor…Of course, I am not as young and

appealing as I once was…” wry smile… “Her demon’s survival instinct may overcome my command…

Though I would guess her soul will fight to release her body…”

 

“I’m sure Ms. Faith will attend to her… Shall we proceed?...

 

“Yes…Do you think it’s quite late enough, Doctor?...

 

“There will be security about, but few other personnel at this hour… And in a small hospital like this one, in

Sunnydale…The staff will be rather used to the occasional disappearance of a corpse or organ or two…”

 

Dracula eyed him...

 

“Quite a traffic in such things these days, I’m afraid…” Andrew explained...

 

“Horrible…Though I applaud the medical advances…” Dracula shook his head… “One wonders if even

the extension of life is worth such a horror…It was bad enough in earlier times but at least that was

confined to the occasional doctor desperately needing the chance for study…Or the demonic fiend

wishing to make sacrifice...Now…To see the poor and nameless abused in such ways…Even killed in some

cases…Traded for money…”

 

“But of course…” he sighed to Andrew’s stare… “We are, after all, about the same purpose…To restore a life

at the cost of lives…And if we are not seeking gain…” he looked back at the three hulking figures following

behind them in large overcoats and pulled-down hats… “Our friends here certainly are…” a harsh scowl at one

daring to raise his… Its…Ghoulish face to his…

 

“Conceal yourself…”

 

The ghoul resumed downward stare, hat pulled back down…

 

“I know there is no other choice…” Dracula nodded to Andrew… “But forgive me if I must regret the means…

I can only hope poor Elisabete can forgive me for sake of the ends…”

 

“All of these people wanted to help others after death, Count…Now, not only will they help the living, but they will

help to save two immortal souls from destruction…” Andrew noted… “There, the entrance…” he pointed…

 

“Halt…” Dracula waved the trio of hired ghouls to a stop… “Stay close by us…And remember, if any living human is

harmed, your lives are forfeited…”

 

Guarded sulking looks but compliance...

 

Hey, we’re givin’ up “Ugly Betty” for this?...One thought, annoyed...

 

“Evening, doc...” the guard lounging by the physicians’ entrance nodded to Andrew... “Called in?...

 

Pipps...Yes...My colleague, Dr. Alucard...Just observing with me...”

 

“Doctor...” the guard, pleasantly returning “Dr. Alucard”’s friendly nod...

 

“...And some of my students...Likewise observing tonight...” Nods from the hulking figures, one rather a bit less so...

 

After all, portraying a med student...Mom would be so proud...

 

“Busy one, doc...” Pipps shook his head... “Bad accident on I-87...”

 

“So I’d heard...Sad...Very sad...Well, fortunately our business is with the living tonight...” Andrew smiled, waving his “students”

in through the entrance after Dracula...

 

In a manner of speaking...he thought...

 

***

 

An...” Xander sighed...Anya grimly paying no heed to his placative efforts as she continued to nail a board stretched across

the inside of the living room windows of their cottage on the Rosenberg estate grounds...Boards hallway up the window length now...

 

“The next one...” she pointed to a pile she’d insisted on fetching with his reluctant help...

 

An...” he glumly held the board up in place... “If Buffy were coming, all this wouldn’t even slow her down...”

 

“Enough to give me time to blast her green head off...” Anya hammered steadily...

 

“Anya, I am not having a loaded gun in my house...” Xander said firmly...

 

“I am gonna defend my child even if her father won’t...Besides...It’s a laser...” she noted... “A gun wouldn’t stop her...Jonathan had

a couple from Warren’s old place...”

 

“I’m not gonna have a laser in my house either...And Buffy would never...”

 

“Too late...And the Monster nearly killed you...And killed Warren Mears...”

 

“A bunch of crazy people nearly killed me running away from Buffy...And Jonathan told us Warren pulled a gun on her...”

 

“Fine...You don’t care about me or our child...You wanna sacrifice us to the Monster as a love gift?...

 

He eyed her...Reddening... “An, that was really low...”

 

“Sorry...Hey!...” she nearly fell back as he briefly let go of his side of the unsecured board...He grabbed and caught it...

 

“Sorry...”

 

“You don’t care...I know you don’t care...” she shook her head...Dropping hammer and running for the bathroom...

 

An...OW!...” he fell back from the slammed, then locked bathroom door...

 

“Anya!...You know I can take this door off in thirty seconds...”

 

“You want Buffy back!!...No matter how evil she is!...” a cry from within... “You still love her!...So go redeem her!...Get her her

soul back or whatever!...The way she is now, you’ll probably look good to her...”

 

“No way...I already have a reformed evil girl...” he called back... “An, you’re being ridiculous and hormonal...”

 

“Am not!!...”

 

“Am!...And you know it...Look, I’ll put up anything you want...Boards, bars...Whatever makes you feel safer...But you know it

wouldn’t hold Buffy back...And I don’t wanna live my life worrying something is gonna come for us...Especially in Sunnydale

where it’s quite likely something is gonna come for us...But this crap about Buffy and me is just that...I love you...”

 

“You sure don’t show it!...

 

“I’m doing that right now...” he paused, waiting...

 

Xander...” a slight yielding he knew well...

 

“Yeah?...

 

Xander...” a familiar note of real panic he knew well...As well as the choking whisper...

 

“Anya!...

 

Xander!!!...” rattling at the door...Sounds of...Something...Besides his wife...Squealing

 

The door flew open...Anya looking petrified...

 

“An!...” he hurried in...To see a terrified-looking...Oh, yeah...Rat...Hanging onto the inside edge of the toilet...Two others,

looking equally terrified, huddling over at a corner near the bathtub...

 

“My God...”

 

“There were...More...” she said, staring... “Lots more...They came up, looked at me and all went right back in...Like this was

the wrong exit or something...”

 

As if to confirm, the hanging rat now let go and disappeared...

 

Hmmn...Xander eyed the remaining two and did the only thing there was to do...Flushing firmly as three pairs of eyes watched...

 

Sorry...He noted to the two fear-crazed survivors...One of whom suddenly collapsed...

 

Rather like a man who’d had a heart attack from sheer fear, he thought...

 

An...Lots more?...How many?...”

 

She spread her hands to indicate an area to cover the floor...

 

Whoa...

 

“I think we better call town pest control...And Giles...” he noted...

 

“And lock this door...”

 

Yeah...she nodded, taking his proffered hand...

 

“And then we head to the hospital to have you and lilAn checked out...” he said firmly, closing and locking the bathroom door as

she stepped out carefully, holding his hand... “And book a motel room till we know what’s up...”

 

Oh, yeah...she nodded...

 

“But no lasers...”

 

Yeah...she nodded...Smiling wanly at him...

 

***

 

“Sing once again with me...Our strange duet...”

 

Michael Crawford’s voice issuing from a CD player...Backed by a rather harsh, somewhat struggling one...

 

“...My power over you...Grows stronger yet...”

 

As a small rowboat bearing CD player, singer, and rowing companion made its way down the stream in Feeder Tunnel #3 of the

Sunnydale Water Reclamation System, leading to a dropoff into Lake Sunnydale...

 

Nothing like having a scenic route home...Buffy thought happily...

 

“...And though...Though...Though...” Hey!...Buffy banged on the CD player slightly...

 

“...you turn from me...”

 

“[...Which my Will didn’t do...] ...to glance behind...The Ph...antom of the Op..era is here...” Buffy, croaking a bit as she sang...

 

“Turn it down just a hair, eh love?...” William asked... “You never know if kids might be hanging around in here, looking for a thrill or

a good make-out place...”

 

She adjusted the volume control...

 

“...Inside your mind...”

 

He[She’s...Buffy sang]’s here...The Phantom of the Opera...’...Whoa...Oh, oh...Woo...Oh...Oooo...”

 

Buf...”

 

Sor’...Oh, oh, ooooo...Oh...” she sang in softer voice, close to a whisper... “Oh...Ooooo...Oooo!!” she screamed suddenly at a

passing rat strolling leisurely by on the lip of the tunnel wall...Who likewise seemed a bit shocked at the encounter...Staring in paralyzed

fright a moment before skedaddling off...

 

“Sorry...Rat ...Grrr...” she noted apologetically, grimacing a bit...

 

Me know...” grin... “More scared of me...”

 

“Buffy...” Will gave her a mock frown...”And I thought you used to fish for compliments when you were Cicely...”

 

T’was me due as Queenie of London so...ciety, sir...” she answered regally, some real pride on getting ‘society’... “And you bein’ last

knight-err...guy...”

 

Tis ever my duty...To speak praise of your beauty...”

 

“Hey!...” delightedly... “Poem...Good...”

 

“On a scale of one to ten...?”

 

“Zillion...Who fishin’ now?...

 

Touche`...” a gallant head bow...

 

The boat rattled against the cement wall of the tunnel on the right side...

 

“Watch it there...” William cautioned... “We’re nearly at the lake outlet...Help me spin ‘er round a bit...”

 

She grabbed a extra oar in the boat and began shoving off from the tunnel wall to move the boat to the outlet opening now just a few feet

from them...The sound of water spilling over into the lake from the opening...

 

Oooo...” she sang again with the tape... “Hang on there...Here we go...” Will called...

 

Their rowboat slipping down a reasonably gentle slope from the outlet to the lake in the gathering darkness...

 

Wee...Buffy, carefully muting to a stifled giggle...

 

Not exactly white water, but a neat trip home...

 

“Well...” she grinned at Will’s smile... “Singing...Bad...But good for talk...ing...Talking...” she emphasized the -ing... “...better...Heck,

not much worse than when I little human...”

 

“It was lovely, girl...”

 

She gave a narrow grin... “Soul, maybe...But you not so bad liar...”

 

“This from the girl who pretends to like my poetry...” he grinned back...Rowing smoothly as they glided away from shore...

 

Awh...!” she gave a mock-shocked look...“You sayin me not ef...efful...”

 

“You can say it...” he eyed her sternly...

 

Efful...gent...Effulgent...Hey?!” ...Radiantly triumphant...

 

“Ever effulgent, Cics...Ever...” he beamed, patting her arm...

 

“Careful...” she eyed him, putting on grim look... “You get seven foot monster Slayer horny...No tellin’ what may...stuff she do...”

 

“After we eat and watch me role model on video...It Thursday...” she beamed...

 

“Indeed it is...Say, is that lad Henry ever going to wise up and propose to Betty?...Living a lie without your true love is no way to

raise a kid whatever Charley does...”

 

Me got faith in him...He do right thing...Gotta...He look like you...” she leaned forward to kiss him...

 

And Betty make great mommie...Even if no supermodel...she noted innocently...

 

He gave her a sour look, rowing firmly...But...

 

“Well, now...If you’re coming round to my idea about adoption...” sly grin...

 

“Rats...” she said...

 

“Well don’t be like that about it...” he began... “An adopted kid...”

 

“No!...Look!!...” she pointed back to the mouth of the outlet tunnel which her position in the rowboat allowed her still a view of...

 

And from which now, hundreds, thousands of squealing rats were emerging in panic...

 

Whoa...Will stared...

 

“We got trouble...” Buffy noted...

 

No need for Giles’ interpretation on this one...

 

***

 

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

 

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy

the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special

favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the

more or less Big Bad...

 

 

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think

not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss

Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the

Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

 

 

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

 

 

Part XI...

 

Willie’s…

 

“So you say the Monster took your arm?...But you can deal with her?...” the Mayor eyed the mysterious Mr. Angel…Mr. Angel’s bespectacled companion frowning a bit…

 

As much at the clear likelihood of them taking on a task delaying their return home he’d been specifically promised they would not as at the clear lack of faith in his boss…

 

“I wasn’t prepared for her then…I will be this time…” Angel gave a cold, slight nod…A rueful, involuntary rub of the artificial arm at his left side…Which became a frowning tug as the mechanical elbow locked in position again…

 

Damned stupid thing…He struggled a moment, his companion rising out of his seat to assist…

 

The Mayor gave Chief Brody a sidelong glance…Uh-huh…

 

“Angel…” his companion began…A direct stare…

 

“This has to be settled, Wes…I owe Buffy that much…” Angel, hard return stare…

 

(Nice…At least I keep my machismo even with soul, Angelus thought contentedly…

 

“So when do Angelus the soul boy and his boon companion get clobbered again by me and my girl, Dru?...” Spike asked…

 

Dru, cool stare…

 

“Well, I mean…Dru, it’s not my fault…Your vision here, love…”

 

“I think perhaps we’ve had enough for one evening…” she replied…Coldly…

 

“Dru…Girl, you know I love you…Can I help what romantic nonsense my silly soul gets into?...In the distant future…” he tried, winningly…Taking her hand…

 

“Not so distant…” she glared… “And your soul is already in love with that Slayer…”

 

“Now, Dru…”

 

“Anyway I kill everyone and bag my soul, right Dru?...” Angelus cut in… “So go on with the story…”

 

“Yeah, let’s see Angelus get his other arm ripped off…” Spike nodded…

 

“Ummn…Dru?...” Darla, hesitantly… “You know, you still haven’t mentioned what’s happened to me…”

 

Uh…Dru’s expression changed abruptly to a somewhat embarrassed look…

 

Hmmn…Say…Angelus and Spike noting the look, eyed each other…

 

Definitely gotta hear more now…

 

Uh…Well…Grandmother…Dru began, diplomatically…

 

You know they do say Heaven is very nice…For released souls…And as for the demonic…)

 

 

“Well, I do believe we’ve got just about all that’s worth salvaging here…” Praetorius closed a small sterile container, the last of about ten of various sizes…Several requiring two of the “assistants” to carry…

 

“Dr. Alucard”’s distressed look causing him to tone down the enthusiasm in his voice…Nothing like an enthralling new attempt at the creation of life to get the juices flowing…

 

Especially when my red-haired goddess of Science and Magic is potentially involved…

 

“Gentlemen…” Correct on neither “gentle” nor “men” Andrew inwardly reflected…He waved for the “medical students” to carry out the containers…Dracula frowning at one who sheepishly put down a choice bit he’d been hoping to carry off for a snack later…

 

“Count, I think we’d best not employ discipline just now, given the staff and that we’re ready to leave…A minor transgression which I’m sure Derk regrets…” Andrew, noting the situation, hastily moved to defuse a possible incident…

 

Derk earnestly nodding to confirm…Oh, yeah…

 

“As you say, Doctor…” Dracula agreed…Still fixing Derk with stare… “I hope he understands the extent of the good fortune he’s been granted…”

 

Derk, shifting his horny-browed gaze to Praetorius for support…Continuing to nod with earnestly regretful look…Definitely understand…

 

His companions eyeing their fellow coolly as they continued moving boxes out to a small van Praetorius had secured for the night’s work…Not a good reflection on their doing their best to maintain a professional image with the great Vlad…And the famed Praetorius…Not only for his cloning success but as one of the few considerate, as well as gainful, employers of those among the living dead willing to work for an existence…

 

“We should be off, then…”

 

“Yes…” Dracula was hesitant… “But, perhaps, Doctor…If you wouldn’t mind…For the sake of these poor women…” He carefully pulled out a book, wrapped in plastic, from his overcoat pocket and handed it to Praetorius…

 

“Count?...”

 

“I know there’s no time for a proper service…Especially in the Greek Orthodox…But if you would just read the short version of the burial service…I feel we owe them that much…”

***

 

“So you’re willing to track down and destr…Arrest…” The Mayor hastily corrected… “…this strange woman, they call the Monster…For…?”

 

“If she’ll surrender peaceably…” Angel waved a…Damned jamming arm!... “Wes!...”

 

Wesley pulled the mechanical arm back into position at Angel’s left side…Really should’ve gone with Japanese prosthetics, Angel…he thought…

 

“…which I seriously doubt, given her obvious evil nature…”

 

Hmmn?...Wesley blinked…I mean I know she pulled your arm off when you visited her in Willow’s lab but Fred and I did tell you we’d concluded it was possible she…

 

“As for reward, I seek none…Other than what you and your good City Council might possibly choose to offer…And of course, a free hand…”

 

Glare at the repressed looks of his table companions…Wes!...

 

“…to deal with her as I find necessary in your fair city…”

 

“...With no harm to come to any inhabitants of course…And no serious infringements of the law…” the Mayor quickly noted…Chief Brody sighing…

 

Angel loose on the streets again?...God, do I smell another lawsuit…

 

“None that are…Humanly…Avoidable…” Angel smiled…

 

Code words…I hate code words…Brody shook his head…

 

“So you mean she being inhuman, you’ll bring her down anyway you can…” he eyed Angel…

 

“Brody…” the Mayor looked around nervously…

 

“If she is still…Human…Surely she’ll see the good sense of surrendering to me…If she is not…It’s hardly an infringement of civil liberties to put down a violent animal…”

 

Just how bad was their break-up when he last saw her before Glory?...Wesley stared…

 

“And I have a personal stake here, gentlemen…Besides…” Angel glanced to his left side… “This creature was created from the woman I loved…An abuse of her remains that cries out to me for redress…”

 

But…As I heard the story from Willow…Wes thought…You turned and ran the moment you caught sight of her in her cell…Even when she grabbed at your arm as though she recognized you for a moment, you wouldn’t stop…

 

“The woman you…You knew her?...” the Mayor stared…

 

Lets not go down this path, Francis…Brody thought…

 

“She was an angel from Heaven…My soulmate, taken from me by a cruel Fate…Brought back in this hideous form by Evil forces, no doubt to torment me…And so, gentlemen, you see, I must avenge her spirit…”

 

(Dru?...Spike stared… “Are you saying my Cicely…In this ‘Buffy’ Slayer form…Was…

 

“What can I say, ole pal…” Angelus beamed… “Except that makes two scores on you, you lil wuss!!…”)

 

“But perhaps, Mr. Mayor…You doubt my abilities…” Angel smiled… “Though I think Chief Brody is aware from past encounters when the Slayer and I worked together here in Sunnydale that I can make my promises good…Let me show you a brief account of some of my activities in this line since I left Sunnydale…”

 

Wes…The video portfolio…

 

Oh, Lord…Not this again…Three hours of Angel brooding and killing...?

 

“Brody?...” the Mayor asked…

 

“He’s ‘worked’ here in town with the Slayer…” the Chief nodded…

 

“Well…Lets see your ‘portfolio’…” Wesley and Brody sighing… “…And just how much would you expect a ‘grateful’ City Council to offer?…In a tight fiscal year…”

 

***

 

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

 

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy

the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special

favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the

more or less Big Bad...

 

 

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think

not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss

Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the

Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

 

 

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html

 

 

Part XII...

 

Next day…Mid-morning…Home of Andrew Praetorius…Elegant, well-appointed bedroom in fact…

 

Where a still fairly groggy and weak Oz was being tended by what he’d initially mistaken for a dying vision of Heaven…

 

Until he’d clearly seen Tara standing besides her…With a sympathetic expression…Both as to his wounds…And he’d guessed, his bleeding heart…

 

“Oz?...You ok?...I didn’t wrap the bandage too tight?...” Willow, staring anxiously…

 

He thought desperately, if wearily, for something brilliantly, tragically romantic…Or at least brilliant…To say…

 

“Huh?...Uh, no…”

 

“Ok…Well, the bleeding’s completely stopped…Guess Andrew really knows his business…” she grinned…

 

Tara frowning a bit from where she stood…

 

Lil’ perverse jerk gets off much too easy…Why in the ole days, with Buffy…A guy like that would be left for vamp-fodder at best…

 

“Andrew?...” Oz stared at her…

 

God, not competition from both sides, now?...

 

“Dr. Praetorius, my biology teacher from UCal/Sunnydale…He’s a surgeon as well and did the work on you last night…”

 

Booted from UCal/Sunnydale, Tara did not say…And God knows, I’d keep from any hospital giving him privileges…

 

“…This is his place, actually…” Willow continued, carefully eyeing her handiwork on the bandages again…Ok…She stood up…

 

“Does he know…About me?...

 

“He’s a fri…” “Acquaintance…” Tara cut in swiftly… “He knows the score in Sunnydale…We told him about you…”

 

“Great…Tell him, thanks…I guess I owe him my life, right?...

 

“Yeah…” Tara, sourly… “He did a fine job…” Willow, enthusiastically…

 

Hmmn…He stared at the two…

 

Well, get that info later…He lay back a bit…

 

“So what happened?...How’d I end up here in Sunnydale?...”

 

“You remember getting shot?...Willow asked…

 

“Shot?...Yeah, vaguely…You usually remember pain, even with the transformation…That was up in England, right?...”

 

“Some dork with a gun took a shot at you and got lucky…Thank God you’d come to see the Council and they had guys in town…They arranged to get you out…”

 

“Yeah?...Nice…Say…” he tried to rise a bit…

 

Careful…Willow moved to him, holding him back and helping him lay back…

 

“Watch it, kiddo…” Tara, gently… “Little too soon for exercise, Ozzy…” Willow patted him…

 

“Yeah…” he sighed, nodding… “But I remember waking up in a box or crate or something…Two guys yelling at me…It was some kind of museum or something…?”

 

“The McNabb House of Horrors…New place here in town…” Willow nodded…

 

“House of…? That sounds about right…” faint grin… “The Watchers sent me there?...As an exhibit…”

 

“Sold you...” Willow returned the grin…

 

“Hope they cleared some decent cash…”

“They made out ok, Giles said…Didn’t give me the details, though…You best check with him and demand your fifty percent…”

 

“Probably just enough to pay the bill…” he smiled… “Seriously, is this Praetorius around?...I oughta thank him, I guess…”

 

“Later…” “Plenty of time…”

 

“Ok…” he nodded… “But tell him I did say thanks…”

 

“Sure…” Willow came to his side…Taking his hand… “Now how’s about something to eat…?”

 

“Actually…” he smiled… “I could eat a horse…And I think I did the other night…”

 

“So, what think…?”

 

“Well…” William sighed at his wife’s somewhat anxious, slightly green-hued…But considerably less so…face…Time and sun having done considerable good in that department, he noted…Though nothing particularly wrong with green per se in his book…

 

“According to what we’ve got here…” he nodded at the small pile of mostly filched, some purchased legitimately, books and articles on the occult… “The Net…And what I remember…Rats do tend to be harbingers of doom in occult actions…”

 

Lotta rats...Lotta doom…” Buffy concluded…

 

“Likely so…But nothing specific regarding causes…The date’s not particularly auspicious…Not even the tabloids claim the apocalypse is near…”

 

“That when it hit…” Buffy noted…

 

“Would be the way to do it…” Will nodded… “But I don’t yet see any patterns…”

 

“This so nice…You Watcher you…” she grinned at his look… “Sorry, just had to say…You look so neat in glasses…”

 

“The one thing my resurrection didn’t improve…” he removed said spectacles and rubbed at his eyes…

 

“Something do with museum…” she frowned… “I got feeling about place…”

 

“Could be…But, apart from the ole gang dropping by…Apparently to get something…I don’t see anything especially sinister about the place as compared to the rest of town…Still…” he eyed her expectant face…

 

“…it would be the sort of place the usual run-of-the-mill other worldly world conqueror would make use of…Though if he or she is that kind of mediocrity, I doubt we’ll be needed…Faith and Giles will wrap it up by tonight…”

 

“Maybe…But might be worse…” still expectant…

 

“You want to go back…Buffy, we were likely spotted there last night…The fellows, including Willow, might be keeping the place under surveillance…And looking for us as well as whatever…”

 

“At night…” she grinned…

 

“What?...

 

Lotta people going by to see place after news last night…” she pointed out…

 

“Tall guy pushin’ wheelchair lady in bandages…Not so sus…Suspicious…” she beamed, proudly…

 

“Very good, girl…And the answer’s no…”

 

“Come on…We gonna go anyway…Sooner or later…” shrewd look…

 

“Girl, we’ll be spotted in thirty seconds…And you’ll find yourself either facing Faith’s stake…”

 

Oooh…Scared…She gave a look of mock horror…

 

“Funny…Or an all-expenses-paid vacation at Castle Rosenberg…”

 

“Nice place…Outside dungeon…” she noted…With rather arch grin…

 

***

 

“So I really wanna thank you…” Oz said, carefully raising an arm from where he’d been propped up on pillows by a solicitous Willow and Tara

 

“Indeed…” Praetorius, a bit sourly…As much from having to perform the act as from being forced to leave his late breakfast…Taking proffered hand at the ladies’ stare… “Well, you were fortunate, young man to have such a strong constitution…”

 

“Comes with the territory, I guess…” Oz grinned faintly…

 

“I wouldn’t try to sit up too long this first day…Something light to eat…I’ll have Gibbons bring you some broth…” he eyed the young man…

 

Not exactly what I would consider…Competition…This slight fellow…

 

Still…Perhaps something to shake up the happy Rosenberg home…Or would it be the Maclauy home?…He glanced over at Tara, smiling at Oz…

 

She doesn’t seem too worried…

 

She returned his glance…A bit hard…

 

No…He thought, rather contentedly…I’m still her big worry…

 

Willow fussing with Oz’s pillows… “Wil, I’m fine…” Oz told her, gently…

 

Ah…Andrew noted…There’s still at least a touch of guilt there…

 

Were one still an unscrupulous person…One might find something of use in that…

 

But, of course…I have rejoined the Light side…

 

Unfortunately…

 

“How’s your other house guest from Transylvania…” Tara asked suddenly…Startling him…

 

Romania…” he hastily corrected… “Dr. Alucard is from Bucharest…”

 

“Right…”

 

“ ‘Dr. Alucard?’...” Oz looked at them… “Are you kidding?...

 

“No…Alucard…And my colleague is a bit sensitive about it…” Praetorius, solemnly… “It’s probably some old family secret into which he prefers not to delve…”

 

“He can come out in daylight?...Willow joined in now…

 

“Of course...He and I just had brunch on my terrace…Or were having brunch…”

 

“Hope we didn’t interrupt…” Oz said…

 

“Not at all…I was anxious to see how you were doing…” Andrew, as graciously as possible… “The operation was after all, not under the best conditions, of necessity…”

 

And I would ever miss an opportunity to shine with my divine Ms. R…?

 

“Well, we’ll let you get back to your guest…Thanks for checking on Oz…” Tara, clearly eager to have him gone…

 

“I really am grateful, doc…And I promise to be out of your hair as soon as I can be…” Oz nodded to Andrew…

 

“No trouble at all…” Andrew, benevolent air…Hesitating at the door…

 

“Thanks, Andrew…” Willow smiled…

 

“Yeah…” Tara frowned…

 

“I’ll look in on you later, Mr. Osborne…” he went out…Basking a bit in Willow’s brief smile…

 

“Nice guy…Bit strange with the hair and all…” Oz noted…

 

“A fine surgeon…Kinda mad scientist past…But he’s over that…” Willow explained… “Like me…”

 

“For his sake…And yours, we hope…” Tara

 

“Honey…” Willow sighed…

 

“I think we oughta get a gander at ‘Dr. Alucard’…” Tara went on… “I don’t trust Andrew…”

 

Tara…Now if the guy’s name were Frankenstein…” Willow grinned…

 

“Frankenstein?...” Oz stared… “Was he involved in the thing with Buffy last year?...

“We had a little mishap with resurrection…Andrew came in a bit later…” Willow…Sheepishly…

 

“So I heard from the Council guys…”

 

Does everybody know about my little experiment?...Willow sighed…

 

“Poor Buffy…Wil…” he eyed her crestfallen face… “I know you meant well, but…”

 

“She’s at peace now…” Tara cut in, a bit defensively…

 

We hope…Willow, Tara

 

***

 

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

 

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy

the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special

favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the

more or less Big Bad...

 

 

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think

not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss

Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the

Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

 

 

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html...

 

 

Part XIII…

 

Having heard the gang’s tales of the previous evening, Jonathan had decided to meet with Dawn to discuss the situation…

 

They being the only ones holding the privileged knowledge of the continued existences of Buffy and Will…At least, until now…

 

“We’d better warn them to lie low a while…” he noted, after waiting for their lunchroom waitress to move off…

 

“Why did they go and stick their noses in this one?...” Dawn fumed a bit… “Don’t they know we’d let them know if something big were up…?”

 

“Dawn…It is Buffy Summers, after all…However…different… She may be now…” Jonathan smiled faintly… “Not a girl to sit at home waiting to hear what’s going on…And the same for Will…”

 

“A couple of idiots, both of them…” she sighed… “I know Buffy just wants to feel like she’s still the Slayer, at least part of the gang…She oughta know I’d do anything to make things right so she could come home, if I could…”

 

“It’s not your fault, Dawn…” Jonathan patted her arm…

 

“You’d think she’d killed somebody besides Warren Mears last year from the way they talk about her…”

 

“They don’t understand…Yet…Give ‘em a little time…Besides, Buffy and Will were on their honeymoon, more or less…They wanted a little space to themselves…God knows your sis deserved a break from protecting Humanity and saving the world…” he smiled at her sad face…

 

“It will be all right…In time…”

 

“They want to forget her…” she shook her head… “Long as they have a Slayer to protect them, who cares about ole-what’s-her-name…”

 

“You know that’s not true…They’re still mourning her…And they all blame themselves for what happened…”

 

“Yeah, I can see how Willow tears herself up over it…” Dawn glared… “She wouldn’t hesitate a sec to start dissecting her if she could get her hands on her…Anything to keep people from finding out about her little ‘experiment gone wrong’…”

 

“It did bring your sis back…Eventually…You’re glad about that, right?...

 

“Yeah…It just sucks, though…” she kicked a little at the empty chair leg across from her… “What a thank-you for saving the world…Mucho times…”

 

“She’s happy, Dawn…Mostly…She’s got Will back and she gets to see you…”

 

“She wants a baby…” Dawn said, suddenly…A rather uncertain look at Jonathan…

 

“What?...” he blinked…

 

“A baby…Hers and Will’s…”

 

“A baby?...

 

“A baby…She told me last time she managed to come to the house for the evening…”

 

“Is that…Possible…?” He struggled to repress the nerd gene…Whoa, coolll

 

“God…Or maybe Willow…Knows…”

 

“Well…” he continued blinking… “Only natural, I guess…”

 

“She had one in 1880…”

 

Hmmn?...

 

Buffy Summers?...1880?...Slayers live…And stay that hot…That…?

 

Oh, right…He remembered the tale Dawn had told him that past summer…The tragic prequel of a Slayer and her doomed lover…

 

“You mean Cicely…”

 

“Yeah…It died with her…” she looked down… “And she feels she owes Will…Though she wants one for herself as much as him…Maybe two…Though she would draw the line after three…”

 

Three?...

 

“Well…” he tried to think of something to say… “Have they tried…?”

 

“What, I’m not enough for them…?” Dawn, harsh glare…

 

Huh…?

 

“I’m their daughter, after all…” she looked down…

 

He, staring at her lowered face…God, she is so…When she’s sad…Or when she’s happy…

 

Or when she’s completely irrational…

 

“I’m the soul of the baby they lost…” she explained to his staring face…“At least…” she hesitated… “I’m pretty sure…We both are…”

 

“Ever since she told me the story…It’s been so clear to me…And her…Who else would the monks have summoned to be the soul of their key’s body?…

 

So this is the face of Cicely’s daughter?...Jonathan thought…

 

Yeah…Now that you mention it…Having seen Cicely’s portrait on the Web…

 

Nice going, Mr. WalthropHmmn…He broke into Dawn’s sad ruminations…

 

“What did Will say?...

 

She looked up…A pained expression… “He doesn’t know…Mother…Buffy…Thought we should wait to tell him…”

 

Lots going on these past few, she explained… “We agreed we should give him some time to adjust to things…”

 

“But now…” she kicked again at the chair leg… “Buffy wants another child…A baby to replace me…My dad doesn’t even know I exist…And before I even get some quality time…”

 

She frowned at his grin… “What the hell are you grinning about…?”

 

“You’re jealous…”

 

She eyed him a moment…

 

“Damn straight…” she nodded… “I want to know my father…I don’t want him mooning over some new kid before he even knows he has a teenaged daughter…It’s not fair…For either of us…I gotta right to have my daddy to myself for a little while…”

 

Especially after wanting him worse than Undead these past few…She did not say…

 

“Haven’t you told Buffy how you feel?...

 

“I don’t wanna hurt her feelings…” she sighed… “God knows they’ve been trampled on enough these last couple…Sides, she’s not sure if Will wants one…And she doesn’t know if it can be done or how…I don’t want to make her feel worse…”

 

“You’ve gotta tell her how you feel…And tell him…Dawn, she’ll understand…She was a teenaged girl not so long ago…Who lost her father, more or less…And I know she misses him just like she did when we were back in Sunnydale High…”

 

Saw her once when he picked her up at school one afternoon…He explained…

 

“The look on her face…I felt so sorry for her…And even not knowing she was the Slayer then, I’d never thought I’d ever have reason to feel sorry for Buffy Summers…”

 

She stared at him, a bit narrowly… “Did you like her?...

 

The shift of gears catching him unawares, he wasn’t quite sure whether to feel like a moron or to be a little pleased…But he shrugged…

 

“Every guy who wasn’t gay at Sunnydale High ‘liked’ her…She was just the girl on the pedestal for me…Untouchable, perfect…”

 

“Uh-huh…You should have lived with her for a week…”

 

“And spoil my fantasy…?” he smiled sheepishly…

 

“She would have been smart to step off the pedestal and say hi…” she noted…

 

“Thanks…But obviously she was taken…”

 

“And by somebody nice like you…” she eyed him… “William the poet wasn’t exactly a jock superstar, you know…”

 

“This is where you say something nice to me…” She noted…A hard stare…

 

“Maybe I was just waiting for my own destiny to click in…” he replied…

 

***

 

“So…” Giles opened the afternoon gathering of the gang at the Magic Box… “Willow and Tara have confirmed that Oz is doing well and should make a complete recovery…Lets consider the more disturbing events of last night…”

 

“What do we have so far?...

 

Anya raised a hand…

 

“That’s a rhetorical opening, Anya….” the Watcher explained…

 

“Ok…But I got one…Monster ex-Slayer on the loose…Again…”

 

Willow moved a bit uncomfortably in her chair…

 

“That’s not confirmed…” Giles noted… “Lets start with what we do have…”

 

“Rats…” Anya replied…

 

“I mean literally…Not just my disgruntlement at my warnings being ignored…” she explained…

 

“Rats?...Tara winced…

 

“Lots of rats…” Anya nodded… “But not the demonic, vicious kind…” Xander cut in… “These poor guys seemed pretty darned scared themselves…”

 

One had a heart attack in our bathroom…Anya agreed…

 

Oh…Willow stared…

 

“Xander managed to resuscitate him…” Anya put a hand up…

 

“Above and beyond, Xander…” Tara smiled at him…He shrugged…

 

“Just don’t ask for the details…And I’ll be taking antibiotics for bubonic plague for the next month, by the way…”

 

Just a precaution…I witnessed the Black Death…Anya noted… “In fact, I visited it upon a few guys…”

 

“People…” Giles cut in… “Guys…” Faith echoed…As she expected Buffy would’ve…

 

Willow doing her best to look attentive and dutiful regarding the current menace…Which need not include raking up the unhappy past…

 

“Getting to the matters at hand…We have, as Anya and Xander have pointed out…Rats…Apparently quite fearful ones…Emerging from various locales…I’ve heard reports of sudden pest infestations around Sunnydale, including from a number of sewers…”

 

Not at Castle Rosenberg, I’d bet…Anya frowned a bit…

 

“Haven’t seen anything at our place…” Willow spoke up…

 

Naturally…Anya shook head…

 

“But we do have a pretty elaborate plumbing and septic system…”

 

Flushing those unneeded spare body parts and failed to animate corpses must take a good one…Anya thought, eyeing her…

 

“In any case, such an event has either a natural…Say, a sudden pollution problem…Which would be unlikely to affect only one species…Or disease outbreak, which there is no sign of as yet among local rodents captured by city health authorities…” Giles began…

 

“I know…” Anya waved a hand… “Or, a vengeance-seeking seven foot Buffy on the loose in the sewers…Looking for the chance to come out at night and murder us all in our beds…”

 

HmmnWillow looked at Tara

 

Thought was kinda occurring to me, too…

 

“Anya…” Giles frowned… “Lets please stick to what we know…Or, a supernatural cause…Some presence either new in town or altered in some way producing some effect generating fear in animals known to be sensitive to occult manifestations…”

 

“Always wondered about that…” Xander looked at the others… “I mean, why rats?...

 

“Close to the source…” Anya noted…Eyeing the surprised Giles with a little pride… “All the underworld creatures tend to live or unlive in their neck of the woods…They pick it up first…Then the other animals, including cats and dogs…”

 

“Quite right…” Giles nodded…

 

“Hey, date a Dracula or two…You see it all the time…”

 

“Oh?...” Xander eyed her…

 

“Demonic past…Buried…Just trying to help here…” Hastily… “And they were terrible dates…”

 

“This must be someone or thing big to get this much of a ruckus going…” Faith pondered…

 

“A seven-foot mad ex-Slayer is pretty big…” Anya noted…

 

Just saying…she told the eyes fixed on her…

 

“Do you have any predictions or warnings of this, Giles?...” Faith asked…

 

“Nothing at present…” he shook his head… “This could be a random event…Which can be the most cause for concern if it involves someone powerful…For the moment, we’ll have to await more signs and maintain strict vigilance…”

 

“Or we could go hunting a green-skinned, seven-foot…”Anya began, then halted at the frowns facing her…

 

“Very well…” Giles sighed… “Lets discuss what we saw last night…Anya is right, it is not impossible that Buffy is still alive, after a fashion, in Sunnydale…”

 

Ummn…Anya stared…

 

Right?...

 

“Is this place locked…?” she hissed to Xander…

 

“Giles, she and William…Resurrected William, anyway…Were caught in the explosion last year…” Willow, nervously… “The whole castle came down on them and we couldn’t find a trace after the fire died down…”

 

“Didn’t stop her at the mill last year…” Anya shook her head… “And all of you guys came through ok…”

 

“Why now…” Tara cut in… “If she did survive somehow, why wait a year to show up?...

 

“Maybe William just died…After barely surviving the past year…” Anya suggested… “And after intense suffering, thanks to Willow, he died and now Buffy will be satisfied with nothing less than our internal organs in exchange…Or maybe she was out for most the year, too…In agony, thanks to Willow…”

 

“Thanks…” Willow glared…

 

Just sayin’…Anya shrugged…

 

“She hasn’t…If she is alive, that is…” Tara said… “She hasn’t tried to harm anyone…Or even contact us…Not even Dawn…Right, Dawn?...

 

The here-to-fore silent Dawn gave hasty affirmation…Nope…Not a peep…Quick glance to the equally silent Jonathan…

 

“I’m sure she’s dead…” Dawn insisted… “And she wouldn’t hurt anyone even if she were alive…”

 

“Just kidnap them and force their lovers to do unholy experiments in raising the dead…Plus killing lab assistants…” Anya noted…

 

“Even if murderously evil ones…”

 

Why do we always have to bring Religion into Science?...Willow frowned…

 

And could we please move on from the past?…Particularly away from any trips down Rue de Warren Mears, organ procurer par excellence…Lets leave the dead…And their murder victims and stolen hearts…In their graves…

 

“She did try to strangle Giles last year…” Faith, a bit downcast…

 

Hate to think of my role model’s little dark time…Still, poor B did have some cause…

 

“She woke up on the table and found Giles trying to dissect her!…And she was only a couple of days revived…” Dawn was angry… “And if she wanted him dead, he’d’ve been dead…”

 

No offense, Giles…She hastily apologized…

 

He waved a hand… “Whoever we did see last night, it was connected to the new museum in some way…”

 

“And the missing Dracula…” Willow cut in, eager for a change in subject…

 

“A wax statue…” Xander pointed out… “Not exactly a menace from the beyond…”

 

“If he…It…Was wax…” Tara mused… “That security guard, the chubby one, was going on about him when we were downstairs in the basement…I didn’t hear all of it, but he knows something about that statue…”

 

“The Monster and Dracula…?” Anya stared…

 

“We all know Dracula bit dust years ago…At Buffy’s hands…” Willow shook her head… “Of course it could be someone new, masquerading as Drac…And nothing to do with Buffy…”

 

An…” Xander turned to her…Ummn…She fidgeted a little in her seat…Not feeling so well…

 

Especially at the thought…Tag team Drac and Buffy the mad ex-Slayer?...

 

“I gotta go to the bathroom…Pregnant lady here…”

 

“You better tell them…”

 

The others stared…

 

“Buffy didn’t kill Dracula…” she explained… “Not the Dracula…Now I really gotta go, Xander can explain…”

 

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.buffyrebecca.com/Cicelypg.html

...

Part XIV...

"So I spoke to my dad..." Willow, wide-eyed, appealing look... "And he agreed to cover any damages the little incident the other night may have caused..."

Tara, standing next to security guard Lou, nodding in support, glancing about the McNabb House of Horrors…A few staff members now busy checking on various exhibits…

"Damn right he will...Or you will..." Bud the security guard...er "assistant curator"…Noted sternly... Though softening just a touch at the end under Willow's steady, innocent deer-trapped-in-the-headlights gaze.. "But just so long as somebody does...Your little game caused a lot of damage round here, young lady..."

"I'm really sorry...But Tara and I were only trying to stop those crazy frat guys...Right, honey?..." she looked over to where Tara was standing with Lou...They having decided Bud would require a bit more of Willow's ability in buttering...

Tara nodded more vigorously...

"Ok...But Mr. McNabb will be expecting restitution immediately...You best get your dad moving..." Bud paused... "And what about that Dracula statue?..."

"I'm afraid we've no idea what happened to it..." Willow sighed...

"But if we should hear anything about it..."

"Now, Miss..." Bud, tone hardening... "Nobody else was in the museum but us, you, your friend there, and that kid in the crate...We've searched round and so have the cops..."

"You really think those guys did it?..." Willow, managing even wider-eyed stare...Shaking head... "I can't believe it...I mean, after poor Oz...Daniel...Shooting him like that, even if it wasn't intentional...To steal something like that...Though..." she paused...

"It would make sense, frat boys, cult movies, wax statues of Dracula...You know..."

Lou eyed Tara as Willow sighed again...

"We really are sorry..." Tara noted to Lou...

"Have you looked all through the back...?" Willow asked... "There were a lot of crates back there in your storage rooms..."

"Every inch...Twice..." Bud, firmly...

"Well, maybe we could give it one more once-over together...Just in case you guys missed something that another pair of eyes might catch..." demure smile…

"Well…" Bud couldn't resist a smile back…

Good grief...Is she flirting with him?...Tara frowned over...

My spouse sure seems to find these oddball male types appealing...

"Lou, you keep an eye out…We'll be back…" Bud called…

"Right back, honey…" Willow nodded, waving…

Hmmmn…Tara frowned at her girl's back…

"You did tell the Slayer?..." Lou asked quietly as the door to the back area closed…

Huh?...Tara looked… "Uh, yeah…She's looking into it…" she looked back at the closed door…

"Bud's all talk…No action, don't worry…" he smiled…

Not who I'm worried about, she thought…Frowning a little…

Well…She shook it off and glanced over at the Cleopatra exhibit…

"Place looks great…" she noted…

"I think cousin Art's headed for trouble…" Lou sighed… "The other guys aren't gonna like this…You know…" he eyed her… "They don't like being made fun of…"

"Eh, a lot of them like the attention…A lot live off fear anyway…" Tara shrugged… "And it's good for business…Heck, the ones who don't live off fear live off the stuff they sell about the occult anyway…At worst, a few'll hit McNabb up for some protection money…"

"Maybe…" Lou shook his head… "But that Dracula guy…I read up on him and he's got a rep for not liking this sort of thing…Maybe that's why he's come…To destroy this place…"

"A Prince of the Dracule has better to do than bother with such things…" Tara blurted out, suddenly…A glazed look in her eye…

Uh-oh…Lou looked at her…

"Bud…Oh, Bud!..." he called, nervously… "You wanna get out here?...Ms. Rosenberg?..."

"What's wrong?..." Tara stared at him…

"I think you better look at your neck…Before Bud gets out here…" Lou replied…

Huh?...She stared…But nervously pulled at her blouse collar, trying to discretely look…

Heck, it's been that kind of a week…

***

"I don't see why Xander had to go with Faith this morning…" Anya grumbled to Giles as she sat at computer in the Magic Box, reviewing the latest local news for word for any Dracula sightings or unusual animal pest activity…With an occasional surreptitious check for any reports on seven-foot female monsters…

"It's just a routine daylight sweep of possible locations where Dracula might have found refuge, assuming we are dealing with Dracula…" Giles noted… "Faith will keep Xander safe, don't worry…I've reminded her Buffy would never let Xander take a risk like confronting the Dracule…"

"Oh, really…" Anya frowned…Closing a web site claiming to the latest reports on the Vlad himself… Some nonsense about him and Drusilla…

"Buffy didn't do too good a job of protecting him from Dracula the grandnephew before…And Vladimir was an idiot…"

"Anya…It's highly unlikely they'll find the Count in some local crypt waiting to be staked…And there may be nothing at all to this matter…It may simply be a missing wax statue…This is simply precaution…"

"We should be checking out that guest of Praetorius Willow mentioned…'Dr. Alucard' from Romania?..."

"Willow and Tara will try to visit again later when Andrew and his guest are at home…Though again I find it a little too unlikely the great Vlad would be so clumsy…And Andrew's corporate files indicate a 'Dr. Constantine Alucard' visiting from Bucharest to inquire about his cloning procedures…Such coincidences do happen, Anya…"

"And you knew all along it wasn't Vlad Buffy destroyed…" she turned to stare at him, heedless… "Why didn't you tell Buffy and the others then?...I was just trying to spare Xander's feelings…"

"There was no need since it was assumed by the Council that Vladimir had destroyed his sire/granduncle…And it was good for the Slayer's reputation and Buffy's confidence…"

"Well, if we are dealing with Vlad himself, the Impaler Excellente, he'll be a lot more of a handful than Vladimir was…And if…Giles, what if Buffy joins him in a league of Evil…?"

Anya… Giles sighed…

"Perhaps I'd better take over the computer searches for a while…"

"The Monster and Dracula, a tag team…I bet she's guarding his resting place…We should call Xander right now…" Anya reached for her cell phone…

"Fine…Call him…" Giles nodded…

Oh?...She beamed…Then frowned… "No, he'll be annoyed with me… 'An, stop making me look foolish' he'll say…Oh, and what if I interrupt them while they're…" she put down the phone rather violently on the table…

Giles, staring…

"…Oh, I gotta go find them right now…" she started to rise…

"Anya…Calm down…" Giles put firm hands on her shoulders…

"You'll let it happen…You know she likes him…They had sex…Once…" Anya getting teary now… "I'm all fat and he'll have sex with the Slayer again and then Buffy will hand him over to Dracula to be their houseboy…Oh…" she sobbed…Head on the table…

"Sorry…" brightly, a minute later to Giles' bemused stare… "Hormones…I'll be ok…But I am worried about them…"

***

"Delightful breakfast, Dr. Praetorius…I quite enjoyed the tour of your facilities…" Dracula smiled…

"I'm pleased you enjoyed it, Count…It's such a shame Ms. Rosenberg's laboratory was destroyed last year…It would have been perfect for our work…And was such a charming place…" Andrew sighed to "Dr. Alucard" as they sat in his study reviewing progress… "However I have a lab on the complex's grounds which I believe will do the job…Isolated from the main research area…In fact I reserve it for my own special projects…"

Hopefully not including more hypnotized young women…Dracula thought, nodding politely…

"We have a good deal of what we'll need…Just that right femur, some additional muscle tissue, a decent pair of kidneys…"

"I still cannot believe someone had already gotten to the kidneys of all those accident victims before we did..." Dracula shook his head…

"Probably a gang with connections to the local emergency medical services…We were lucky the hearts and livers are a tougher job to remove and store properly so they go in for the easy organs…"

Praetorius, nodding thoughtfully…

"All for money…Horrible…" Dracula sighed…

"Yes, very sad…However my cloned organs will shortly put those fellows out of business for the most part…It's unfortunate that for our reanimation project we must use at least 80% previously animated tissue…But as you know, Count, a previously Earth-dwelling soul will not latch properly into a fully cloned body…"

"It is a pity…"

"However I am pleased that the brain can be cloned… I must admit to being rather eager to have another chance to clone a brain…Which leads me to an important consideration…"

"Yes…" Dracula nodded… "We must obtain tissue from my poor Elisabete's Undead form…"

"Indeed…Meaning of course we must take it from her…Assuming we can locate her in Los Angeles…"

"Lost among the City of Angels…My own angel's abused body…Sadly poetic, Doctor…" Dracula sighed, but with firm nod… "But we will find her…And she will submit…"

"With her psychic power, she may well sense it means her doom…"

"You may leave her to me, Doctor…I assure you I will obtain whatever you need from her…" the fierce, penetrating look of a determined…Creature…Accustomed to success…

"Excellent…Though there is no need to harm the creature…A small sample will suffice…Walthrop's mere ashes were quite sufficient…"

"I will be mild with her…I've no desire to cause it pain…Merely its total destruction in my beloved's return…"

("Sounds bad for Mrs. D…" Angelus noted… "But when do I vamp the reincarnated princess?...Surely it wasn't that streetwalker with the Romanian accent last Thursday?…" "No, Father…" Dru sighed…

"You are an idiot, Angelus…" Darla glared…Narrow look at Drusilla…

Come on…A Transylvanian princess?...

"So I've been doing royalty?..." Spike beamed…)

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

...

Part XV...

Los Angeles…Underground branch tunnel of the municipal sewer system…

Early evening...

I don't like to complain…Thought the blonde vampiress in blouse, vest, and…Frown…Somewhat soiled by her journey…Not again…Slacks…

I try to be a good person…Within the limits imposed by a fiendish evil nature…

But it's been a pretty miserable Unlife these last few months…Hell, this last year or two…

And I thought moving to the Big City would change everything…No more risk of running into the Slayer every night, plenty of companionship, easy kills…Including no shortage of folks who might even wish to be killed…Fast-paced nightlife…A choice crypt and a cushy job at Wolfram-Hart, slaughtering the defenseless…Maybe even a chance to break into acting…

But what happens…The damned city turns out to be less so…With its own hero who of course happens to be Buffy Summers' ole ex-…Meanwhile, I miss getting to see Buffy killed by a goddess, no less…And I get stuck with the job of playing nursemaid to a psycho…A demanding psycho, whom Wolfram-Hart is determined to see protected 24/7…

And I live in a sewer…

Well, at least the pay doesn't suck…And that Angel is kinda cute when he gets all solemn and broody…Standing where the moon gleams on his hair…Trying to look like he isn't deliberately posing like that, when I've watched him killing our kind, from the safest corner I can…Though ever since he came back from Sunnydale…After those crazy stories about the Slayer being resurrected in some weird way…He hasn't been the same…

Literally, they say at W-H…I mean…She dodged a rat crawling along the floor of the tunnel… Eehew!...Kicks a bit to ward it off…Get outta of here, you stinkin' child of the night!...He still kills our own without mercy…But now…There's a bitterness to him that wasn't there before…No more bantering with the condemned to lighten their final moments…Just grim slaughter…

Plus that weird way he has now of playing with his arm

Something happened in Sunnydale, there's no doubt about it…Maybe the new Slayer broke his Undead heart as well…

Slayers have a way of doing that with these wimpy souled types, they say…She paused to pull a lollipop from the bag of candy she'd taken from the little girl she'd taken…

Too bad about that kid, she thought…I've really was hoping to sire her…I gotta get the turning thingy down better…So yucky when it goes wrong and you hafta clean up the mess…

Demon God, it woulda been such a nice thing to have someone to keep Dru's attention fixed…And to do tea with Miss Edith…

Cause one more looney tea party with that doll and I'll…

Ah, she sighed, looking at the grating covering her own branch tunnel…

Home, stink, home…

"Dru?..." she called… "It's Harmony…I got blood and candy!...Dru?..."

She opened the grating cover…Peering down the tunnel…

Oh, please…Oh, please…

On the other hand…I can just see the shit hitting the fan when I have to face that bitchy human, the Morgan girl, and tell her Drusilla wandered off…Or even, bit dust…

The sneering look overshadowing the normal fear…Thinks she's so smart just cause she managed a law degree and to remain alive as well as evil, as she claws up the W-H corporate ladder…

Talk about glass ceilings...When has a vampire ever been promoted to a senior management position?...

Well, one day…When I don't need a steady source of income…And I'm certain I won't be tracked down and tortured by W-H's professional demonic killers…I'll settle the score with her…

"Drusilla!..." she called…

Ah…Phew…

I recognize that faint shriek…

Hmmn…Unusually panicky edge to it…I wonder if Angel might possibly have…

Well, no need to rush in like an idiot…Drusilla's a big girl…

In fact, given there's no exit…It might be a good idea to sit tight by the entrance here and see if there's anything going on…

After all, nothing in my contract says I hafta die defending her…Dressing up like a Victorian housemaid for that last tea party was quite above and beyond the call, I'd say…

Hmmn…Seems like that cry is moving this way…She tried to reach out her senses…

Nothing edible, in any case…No whiff of soul…Can't be Angel…

"Ahhhhhh…" desperate cry, more audible now…

Maybe she just lost the damned doll again…

Well, this time I am not dressing up like that thing and letting her call me Miss Edith…There are limits…

***

Hours later...

"Ahhh…." Gurgling sound…

Hem…Wesley coughed, discreetly...Glancing round the room…

Fortunately it being the private office of the proprietor of the establishment, only he, Angel, and the said proprietor, one Willie the Snitch, currently somewhat indisposed what with his head being held underwater in his office fish tank by Angel…No one about to see a somewhat embarrassing use of force against a local small businessman…

Admittedly a corrupt local small businessman, with dealings with the extreme underworld…Still, not the sort of thing a proper Watcher likes to see get in the papers or the Council annals…

"Angel?..." Wesley, tapping on the ramrod-straight artificial arm now locked in place holding Willie's gurgling head in position…The other holding the rest of Willie…

"All right…" Angel pulled Willie out…Artificial arm acting as a lever to prop Willie upright in spite of his state of utter collapse…Motioning to Wes to assist in releasing the locked arm in order to free his prisoner…The released Willie falling to the floor with a groan…

"Well?..." Angel addressed the said Willie, now attempting to cough up the water and assorted items swallowed…Wes carefully stepping back…

"Angel…" gasp… "…tole ya…I don't know about any…Monster…Girl or guy…"

"Oh?..." Angel eyed him…

"I mean…Not demon or vamp…Right?..." Willie looked up, struggling to get the words out…

Smile… "Willie, I never mentioned that…Wes, the lid…"

Wesley sighed but moved to the aquarium…

"Hey, you're killin' all my fish…" Willie protested… "I'm telling ya the truth…I did hear somethin' about somethin' last year…But it's dead…Blew up and burned in Rosenberg's lab…"

(Now this is more like it…Angelus, contentedly…Thank God even with soul, I still have no lack of violently boorish behavioral tendencies…)

"So you do know about a monster?..." Angel, tsking… "Willie…"

"Not now…I thought ya meant now…Everybody knows the story from last year…"

Everybody?...Angel stared…

Disturbing…

Cut to shot of his fleeing Willow's original lab/dungeon at warp speed…Buffy in her cell…Clutching his arm…Geesh…She'd only meant to feel the familiar-looking pointy-haired guy's arm a little, no need for him to get all panicky like that…She eyed the torn arm…

Know guy from some…Where…She patted the arm a bit…Frowning at the group watching…

Definitely something not right with my world…

Willow and the others rather freaked themselves…Somehow they'd not expected Angel to be quite so shocked by Buffy's slight change in appearance since resurrection…

After all, given his own history, he oughta be able to deal…

And wasn't like they'd suggested he take her home to LA or something…A nervous Warren suggested they get the tranquillizer gun…The green bitch from Hell was clearly getting out of hand…

Hmmn…Buffy reached out to touch the limits of her newborn's universe…Blocking her from the other familiar faces…

"Back…" Warren snarled at her…Instinctively reaching for the whip he kept round…Damn…Unfortunately not when guests were around, Willow feeling it suggested a lack of proper regard for guidelines on human research…

And no torch either, damn...The reborn, newborn Slayer freak respected a little fire waved in her face...

Worth a little risk to life and limb though to have seen that clod vamp running from her like he'd run from Jenny McMurphy in fourth grade when she'd threatened to pound his face in...

Well, just so long as the seven foot blonde freak remained at a new mental low for her kind and on the other side of those bars...

Angel frowned...Definitely not good for the rep if this tale's gotten out...

Besides, it was all how one looked at it...He'd not run in fear of being harmed...Just...That his noble soul had quite naturally quailed...At the sight of his beloved's hideous transformation into something obviously Evil...

But all the more reason to see to it his dearest one was brought to permanent peace...Quickly...In case the damned freak...I mean, poor damned freak, in the best sense...Should learn to speak...

"Angel..." Wesley brought him out of his brooding reverie...

(Brooding?...Me?...Angelus eyed Dru...Mr. Irish congeniality?...

Still, if one must be cursed with a soul...I suppose that would be a proper look...He mentally pictured himself in brooding mode...A tormented hero...With crowds of desperate little mortals looking to him...A new Christ for the little masses...

The annoying, pesky little things...Being fated to spend one's existence saving them being enough to give anyone cause to brood...Still, I must admit...It would definitely be a good look for me...

"Angelus, what the hell are you doing?" Darla frowned at Angelus trying out a brooding pose...)

"Yes...Well, Willie everyone may know the Monster is deader, but I've heard tell she might not be gone...And if anyone could have heard such rumors...Or would know them to be a fact...And be, maybe...For the right price...Helping that Monster out...It couldn't be anyone but good ole Willie the Snitch...Am I wrong?..."

"Angel, I'm tellin' ya...I don't know anythin'...I wouldn't deal with her, she's supposed to be a worse killin' machine than when she was the Slayer..."

"Supposed?..." Wesley asked...

"Supposed...?" Angel nodded thoughtfully... "Meaning as my partner implies, you have heard rumors?..."

Willie squirmed a bit in Angel's vise grip... "Rumors?...Who listens to rumors?..."

"In Sunnydale, a guy like you is out of business if he doesn't..."

"I keep my ears open...But I don't know anythin' about her...Just..."

"Yeah...?" Angel, friendly smile...

"Just a guy said the other night, he's seen her...Lumberin' around town..."

"Sounds a bit more solid than a rumor, Willie..." Angel frowned... "Name?..."

"I didn't get it...I wasn't interest..." he choked as Angel raised him off the floor...Legs dangling...

"O...K...Guy...Named...Jonesy...Most...ly...Human..."

"And we find this 'Jonesy' where?..." Angel, patiently...

"Bates...Bates..." Willie gasping, turning blue...Angel set him down...

"Bates?..." Wesley asked...

"Motel..." Willie gulped air, desperately...

"Bates Motel?..." Wesley blinked... "Are you joking?..."

Hmmn...Angel frowned...

"Whydaya think I wouldn't mention it?...Everyone says that..." Willie sighed... "But it's in the Yellow Pages and online...Bates Motel...Up Sequine St, across the railroad tracks..."

"And Norman lives there with his mother...?" Wes, thin smile...

("Dru?..." Spike looked at her...

"Some future cultural reference I think..." she sighed... "Don't ask me..."

"This 'Norman' sounds like he'd make a good friend for you, William..." Angelus grinned...

"How fast will you be running from that dead Slayer, my girl...?" Spike replied...)

"I said his name was Jonesy... Jonesy Bates..." Willie, a bit exasperated...

***

LA...

"Aaaaaahhhhhhhhh...!"

"Dru, for the fifthteenth time, there's nobody here..." Harmony sighed... "I checked all the way down the tunnel, through the branches...Not a man or beast or anything else in sight...Here, have a lollipop..." offers blood-stained orange lollipop...

Which Dru takes with a degree of eagerness but continuing her howl of fear...

"He's ...!"

"Dru..." Harmony, exasperated... "At least tell me who or what I'm lookin' for..."

"Dracula..." the vampiress caught her by surprise with a sudden reversion to something approaching calm, eyeing her blonde roommate... "Good lolly, Miss Edith wants one..." she held up doll, twisting the lollipop in mouth with her free hand...

"Here..." Harmony handed another over...Thank God for a little calm at last...

"What do you mean, Dracula?...Didn't Buffy Summers kill him a while ago?..."

"Vladimir, the Dim ...Not Prince Vlad..." Dru, solemnly... "He's here...Here for me!...Bringing the Bad One with him, in his train, oh!... ...!"

Well, at least now I know to look for a guy in a black cape...Harmony thought...

***

Nine am, the Magic Box, Sunnydale...

"So, you say..." Giles eyed Faith as she completed her rather puzzling report of the quiet night's activities... Willow, Tara, Anya, Xander, and Jonathan in equally puzzled attendance as well...

"Three vampires, one male, two female...Simply came up to you and waited to be slayed?..." he stared...

"They even asked me to help them..." Faith noted...

"Maybe souls are becoming the in accessory for vamps this year..." Anya suggested...

"No sign of a soul...At least not the way Angel's and that girl I met years ago sticks out..." Faith shook her head... "They were pure demonic vamps...But they wanted to die...It wasn't an ambush or trick...But one of the females, that was really odd..."

Giles eyed her...

"She got down on her knees...Said "By your command, dread lord..." and waited for me to kill her..."

"Sounds like something the Master might have pulled...Cull the deadwood with extreme prejudice by handing them over to the Slayer..." Xander offered... "Even if the Dracula stuff's a load, maybe there's some new big bad vamp lord in town fighting a war with the others...Sending the losers to Faith..."

Giles nodded thoughtfully... "Very possibly, Xander..."

Anya beaming as the others eyed him... That's my boy...

"Oh..." the natural thought occurred to her... "Maybe it's Buffy...Or Buffy and William, since he might have made it too...He could be the one zonking the disobedient and sending them to be Slayed while he and Buffy create an army of Monsters and loyal vamps...Sort of nostalgia to please Buffy..."

Hmmn...The group collectively paused...Mulling...Dawn being absent as occupied with her college homework, no strong voice to defend Buffy as "my sis is not evil"...Even Xander considering the possibility...

Eh, Buffy copy my work?...Willow, inwardly...C'mon on...

"I think it's unlikely Buffy, even with Spike at her side, would take that route...Especially so many months after we last heard of them..." Giles shook his head...

"However, we can't discount the possibility that the latest signs, coupled with this, signal the arrival of a new, dark force in town..."

Anya, balancing between frown at her suggestion's dismissal and Xander's winning some acceptance, opted for the positive...After all, the guys had been rejecting her "evil Buffy will be back" concept for months...Now, there was some evidence...And in time...

Hmmn...Maybe I'd rather be wrong on this one...Image of furious Buffy the Monster singling out the one among the foolish pack of former friends who'd divined her Evil schemes...

"Ok, maybe...But we do have a Buffy sighting...Confirmed..." she insisted... "You do accept that..."

"A possible sighting, yes..." Giles nodded...

"And this Dracula thing could be real..."

"We have to consider the possibility..." he sighed...

Slight grin to Xander...The Harris' are having a damned good night...He giving a supportive grin back to her...

"Willow?..." Giles turned to her...

Hmmn?... "Giles, I'm not making any..." Willow, caught on the defensive...Why does everything have to come back to my one...Ok, two...Little...Mistakes...?

I mean...She glanced at the faces eyeing her...

"...What?..." she asked, pleasantly innocent...

"Have you sensed any fluctuations in energy in town?...I did ask you to monitor the situation..."

"Oh, yeah...I mean, no...Nothing serious...A few minor pulses...Nothing the Hellmouth doesn't put out from time to time...Except..." she reached into her slacks pocket, pulling out a sheet of folded graph paper...

"Except?..."

"Tara should do this one...She spotted it..." Willow turned to her honey with smile...

"Ummn..." Tara, hesitant... “No big deal, I just did a little graphing of some readings from our instruments to measure cosmic ray and other energetic output..."

"Which you follow...Why?...In case you need to make more Monsters...?" Anya asked, frowning...

An...Xander, cautioning...

"Anya..." Giles put up a hand... "I asked Willow and Tara to keep monitoring this sort of energy in town, you know that...We're fortunate to have such a system in place...Go ahead, Tara..."

"Well, it was just a minor fluctuation...The night we went to get Oz at the museum...It could just have been his reversion to human..." she began...Pointing to a spike in the graphed data...

"Since then a few smaller spikes but nothing to suggest the Mouth is firing up for something..."

"But the rat parade only started after that night..." Anya pointed out...

And Vlad was always known for being good with animals...In terms of inspiring terror, I mean...

They actually just mean to warn us...she went on...Rats like people, even if the feeling's never been mutual...And they still feel bad about that bubonic plague thing...They didn't know their fleas were carrying disease...

"Dracula would come to Sunnydale disguised as a waxworks dummy?..." Willow cut in... "I thought he had more class..."

"In either case, it's wise to assume we're looking for a new force..." Giles noted... "Possibly in some way associated with the museum or its artifacts, possibly not...Possibly the ancient Dracula, possibly not..."

"As for it being involved in some way with Buffy..." he sighed...

"Possibly, yeah..." Anya noted firmly...

"Giles..." Tara cut in, sheepishly... "There is just one more thing...I don't know if it really matters..."

"Yes?..."

"I've had...Vision blackouts...At the museum..." she explained... "And at least once at home..."

"Of what nature?..." Giles asked, the others, including Willow...You had more?...Staring at her...

"Just that...Blackouts...Vague impressions...But each time..." she sighed...

"I made a reference to Dracula..."

"Tara, you didn't tell me there were other times...?" Willow frowned at her... "Why didn't you say anything?..."

"I didn't really know if they were real...But Lou, the guy at the museum...The nice one, a little pudgy?...Said I said something about a prince of the Dracule when I blanked out with him there..."

Silence...

"I wasn't bit..." she added, hastily... "We checked...I'm clean..."

"Willow?..." Giles looked to her... "Have you had any visions, blackouts?...Faith?..."

"No..." both shook their heads...Willow a troubled look at Tara...Who gave a pleading...Sorry...Glance back...

"Curious...Then it's clearly not a generalized vision affecting those with links to occult power..." Giles nodded... "Tara, if you wouldn't mind, perhaps we can look into this further after the meeting..." She nodded...

"Could be Buffy...Sending out messages of doom via Dracula..." Anya tried..."She went for Tara last time, you know..." arch look...

"And Sunnydale is the place he'd come...If he come how got away from Vladimir's little prison...Good place to recharge after all those years and plot his next evil move..." Anya noted... "And meet up with his new pals..."

"He could be here to fight Buffy, not work with her..." Jonathan suggested suddenly... "Maybe, if he is the big Drac, he wants revenge for her besmirching the family name...Even if he had a falling-out with his nephew..."

Really, really sorry, babe...Tara hissed to a staring Willow...You were gonna tell me when?...During your zombie walk to good ole Drac's foul embrace?...

"Grandnephew..." Anya corrected...

Gotta admit...Willow thought, reluctantly...An's idea about Evil tag team Buffy/Drac is startin' to sound...

"Right...And if he knows Buffy's still...Up and about..." Jonathan continued...

"What?..." a shocked voice in the doorway of the Box... "Jon, you didn't...?"

Dawn...Dropping her books...

***

Ten am...

"I'm so out of my mind agreeing to this again..." William frowned... "I ought to have this cloned brain of Praetorius' scanned..."

"Will be fine..." Buffy patted him..."Guys never think I come right in daylight..." she carefully adjusted the heavy veil round her face...Hat, long-sleeved dress, and gloves keeping her lightly green-hued skin concealed...As William in overcoat and hat pushed her wheelchair down the street on which the McNabb House of Horrors loudly proclaimed by banners and resplendently large posters, its grand opening...In two days...

A crowd of the curious, their interest piqued by the reports of some unusual activity about their fair city's latest cultural attraction, hanging round, peering at the grounds...By no means all human, William sensed...

But even the daylight capable Undead can take a healthy interest in culture...Especially when it concerns their own kind...

Staff continuing to scurry in and out...The crowd taking an interest in attempting to id the latest arrivals in wax statuary...Rumor having it that victims of several famous horrre to be delivered today...

Sitting in the foyer by the main door, the proprietor, Artemus McNabb, not at all disturbed by the mob's morbid curiosity...Hey, it's what we're all about...

Happily giving the crowd a wave from time to time and feeding the occasional tidbit as to the next, ever more hideously butchered, subject to come...While giving a somewhat jaded...An occult feature?...Boss?...Reporter a personal interview...

Were there any details as the culprits in the mysterious break-in the other night?...Best to speak to the police on that one...

Was it true a couple of exhibits had disappeared, presumably taken?...One, in fact, a statue of the famed Count Dracula?...

Dracula...Jesus Christ...The reporter sighed...

Well, yes...A couple of exhibits had vanished...Mysteriously...McNabb noted... Including the Count's figure...The most authentic likeness known, so of immense historical value...

Right...Eye roll...Bela Lugosi in wax...

And the only known werewolf carcase ever taken intact...

Werewolf?...Right...

And, while he couldn’t say one way or the other...McNabb, solemn voice... There had been claims that at least one of the figures might have left under its own power...

"Motorized?...The werewolf...?" the reporter asked...

"No..." McNabb frowned...Get into the spirit of things, kid...I paid off your boss enough for this blurb...

"I mean on its own two feet...Meaning the Count's..."

"A wax figure of Dracula...Walked out of your museum?..."

"Only a rumor, sir...I don't say it's true...But...With creatures like these, who knows..." solemn tone...

Right...Sigh...

"Well, thanks..." the reporter closed his book... "I'll get anything else from Chief Brody...Good luck with your opening and getting your stuff back..."

"Anytime...Make sure you get your free passes at the box office on opening night..." McNabb beamed...Rising to shake hands...

"Bud, show the gentleman out..." he waved to Bud...Frowning as he noticed Bud chatting up a female exhibit decorator... "Bud!...The gentleman's leaving..."

"Oh, right Art..." Bud, hurrying over...

Lou, busy helping the exhibit staff with some crates, sighed...

Gotta a bad feeling about all this...

"Bud's one of our curators who was there the night of the disappearances..." McNabb noted, careful eye on his idiot cousin...Don't louse this up, moron... "He can answer any more questions if you've got ‘em on your way out."

"Sure..." Bud nodded, eagerly... "Quite a night...But Mr. McNabb pulled us though..."

Great...The reporter sighed...

"We'll endure...But it's an unresolved mystery that oughta keep people here talking for years, eh Buf?..."

"Absolutely..." Bud nodded... "The strangest thing I was ever involved in...Lemme tell ya the story..." he led the frowning reporter off...

Buffy pulling at William's coat sleeve...Get in closer...

"This is as close as we go, love..." he hissed...

"Sorry, Mum gets a wee bit too excited at any new cultural event..." he noted to a fellow Buffy had nudged aside...

"Oughta sock one..." she hissed at his grin...

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

...

Part XVI...

"Well, Dawn?..." Giles asked, for the third time…

Her quick attempt to cover with "Jon, you didn't…Tell them we were engaged?" having failed to produce the desired evasion…Even Xander, though a bit nonplussed, hadn't bought it…

She herself having been slightly distracted by Jonathan's shocked stare at her words…

What?...A resurrected daughter of a souled vampire and a souled monster, now residing in an artificial human body formed of an energy matrix, isn't good enough for you?...

I mean I'm kinda pretty… And sweet, most of the time, and I'm gonna have a college degree…You could a lot worse, bucko…

And whatever else my parents are, they're heroes…

"Dawn?..." Giles, realizing her distraction was genuine…

Xander, catching her glare at Jonathan, now perhaps a mite worried, glancing at Willow…

You know…They do spend a lot of time together these days…

For her part, Willow still trying to digest that Dawn had kept the secret of her creation's continued existence for a year...The same creation who'd at their last meeting had planned to blow her to kingdom come...Or wherever her scattered body parts might have ended up...

"Huh?...Oh, right…Anyway, I just thought Johnny had sprung the big news…"

"Dawn…You know we were discussing Buffy's possible reappearance in town…" Giles sighed… "Now if you have any information…You or…" he eyed Jonathan coolly…

"…your fiancée here, you've got to tell us…For Buffy's sake as well as ours…"

"If I knew she was alive and where she was, I wouldn't tell you…" Dawn shook her head… "You'd lock her up again…Or dissect her…She doesn't deserve that…"

"I mean…She didn't…" she added, hastily…

"Where is she, Dawn?..." Giles asked, sternly…Then turned to Jonathan… "Mr. Levinson?..."

"Sorry, Mr. Giles…I can't help there…" Jonathan shook his head at Giles' hard stare…

Dawn, shyly beaming glance his way…That's my guy…

"You two have been and are being incredibly foolish…"

"Guys…" Willow tried…

"Isn't anybody happy for us?..." Dawn put on a frown…

"About as happy as Jonathan looks right now…" Willow noted…

"He's just hurt I thought he'd spilled…" Dawn eyed him… "Right, honey?..."

"You know, they could be telling the truth…" Anya, thoughtfully… "Buffy would kill Jonathan if she found out…"

"Exactly…" Dawn nodded…Wave of arms…Matter settled…

Great…Jonathan thought…Sighing inwardly…

Well…I suppose I am due to take a bullet on the cosmic moral scale…

"It's true guys, though of course we won't make it official till Dawnie and I both graduate…"

HmmnXander's poise starting to slip…

Dawnie?...That does sound…

Dawnie…God, amazing how something so cloying can sound so nice…Dawn thought, contentedly…

"Do they look engaged?..." Willow hissed to Tara…Who shrugged…Bit hard to say for sure, definitely something else on their minds besides their future bliss…

On the other hand…Dawn definitely looks like a girl who's…

"Have you told Buffy and William yet?..." Anya asked pleasantly…

Shrewd look to XanderHeh, ha…

"Anya…" Dawn frowned…

"Dawn…If this really is true…" Faith began… Pausing…

What would Buffy do?...

"You are a little young yet…" diplomatic tone…

Very young…Xander thought, frowning at the cradle-robber Levinson…

A man lacking a secure career and college degree…

Ok…But An hadn't had a fill-in "older brother" to look out for her when she'd foolishly married that jerk Harris…

Looking at it objectively, I mean…As an "older brother" fill-in must…

"Like Jon says, we'll wait till we finish our degrees…" Dawn insisted…Slight gleam to Jonathan…

It's workin' Cap't…We're pullin' away…

"Congratulations, then…Where are Buffy and William?..." Giles cut in…

***

At this moment they were in fact just down the street…Skulking in the crowd…

Hey, at last I get to "skulk" Buffy noting happily to Will…I always wanted to try skulkin'…

…Outside the McNabb House of Horrors…

"I hear the Monster was spotted round here the same night Dracula got up out of his coffin and walked off with the Werewolf…" a member of the crowd noted to his companion…Repeating the statement as a question to McNabb who was standing on the steps of the museum's front entrance now, fielding a few, most planted, questions from the crowd…

"Now, now…" McNabb beamed… "I'm sure we've all heard such rumors…"

Or will, when I see it gets plastered on the front page and leads the local TV news…

"…But while anything can and will happen in the world of the supernatural…"

Friendly cheer from certain, slightly odd-looking members of the crowd…Now that's the kind of respect that we've been lacking…That McNabb is all right…William cautiously taking note of them…

No one dangerous I know of…He told Buffy…

"…We wouldn't want to cause panic without proof…Proof being the hallmark of each and every exhibit in our collection…As you'll all get a chance to see later this week…" McNabb concluded, beaming…

Loud cheers…

"Bout time we got a little respect...That's one class act, eh, pal?..." one of the odder figures noted to William...

A gasp...Hand to head, knocking the bowler on said head back...For an instant revealing a furry ear which was tucked back with record speed...

"Spike?..." Clem stared... For the first time ever at eye level...

"Is it really you up here...?"

Christ...Will sighed...

"Uh, sorry, friend...Never carry cigs on me...Bad for the Missus, secondhand you know..." he moved off...Buffy looking up in her chair...What?...

Ixnay aswe amscray...he hissed...

***

A somewhat seedy motel on the wrong side of the tracks…Favored rendezvous of prostitutes and their clients, both latter and former of all types…

Daybreak having been too imminent to proceed further after their discussion with Willie, the job of interviewing Jonas "Jonesy" Bates had been left to the daylight capable Wesley…

The said Mr. Bates' rather talkative and friendly nature belying his last name, which he himself made a point of…Noting with smile that "Mother" was currently living it up in Acapulco...Retirement condo…

"Then business is doing well?..." Wes asked…Eyeing the rather complacent-looking Bates, a large fellow in T-shirt and worn jeans…Though a bit well-manicured and with rather too careful a hair cut to quite fit the grubby clerk type he seemed anxious to portray…Not to mention rather expensive-looking shoes…

"Can't complain…We've got a couple of places…" Bates leaned back from the counter… "Folks always looking for an affordable place when they first hit town…And while I don't tolerate any trouble, being half-demon myself, I guess some of my clientele feel more comfortable here than in other places…"

"Certainly beats a crypt…" Wes smiled…

"So long as it's clear as to my no violence on the premises policy, I got no trouble with anyone or thing…So, you work with Angel of LA?...And he'd like to know if I know anything about the Monster?..." Jonesy, appraising, shrewd look…

"That's about the size of it…And we would be willing to show our appreciation for any help in substantial terms…"

"Eh…" wave of hand… "Glad to help if I can…" relaxed smile… "I tole ole Willie I'd seen her…Lumberin' round town last year…At least I think it was her…"

"After she was supposed to have perished…?"

"That was when?...Last spring?...Could be, could be…" he drummed fingers… "I kinda think it was in the fall or something…"

"And was anyone with her?...Possibly a short, slight blonde fellow…"

"William the Bloody…" Bates smiled… "Everyone knows the Summers Slayer and Spike were hangin' round a bit during Glorificus' time here…So, they've become a couple?..."

"Possibly…Did you see him with her?..."

"Not that I remember…Just caught a view of her…"

Wes nodded… "Of course, Willie seemed to think you might have had dealings with her…" innocent smile…

"Dealings?...Me?...With a seven-foot girl monster who folks say tore guys limb from limb…?"

"Perhaps you dealt with William instead?...Acting for her?..."

"Me?...I'm just a guy who runs a couple of flea-bag motels…" pleasant smile…But a slightly intense stare…

"Mr. Bates…" Wes, equally pleasant smile… "I'm well aware of your reputation among Sunnydale's underworld…I assure you we did some thorough background checking before I came…You're one of the best known underworld fixers and fences in this town…Which explains 'Mother's' retirement condo, as well as those lovely Italian shoes…"

Jonas blinked…

"Why not just tell me the truth?...Surely you don't owe the Monster and William anything?...And if they've threatened you, Angel can offer you protection…"

Frown… "Jesus…Why do you want to hound her like this?...Didn't she save everybody lots?..."

Wes eyed him coolly…

"Look…I don't say I have 'dealings' with her or Spike…But maybe…Maybe…They did stay here once or twice…"

"Here?..." Wes blinked at him…

"Christ, they were on their honeymoon and had nowhere else…And they were both seven feet tall, what was I supposed to do?..."

Honeymoon?...Wes coughed…

"You ok?...Need a glass of water?..."

"No, fine…Thanks…When was this…Honeymoon?...After the laboratory explosion?..."

"He wasn't seven feet tall till then that I know of…Yeah…"

"And?..."

"They stayed a couple of nights, they left…They paid their bill and didn't cause any trouble…I didn't ask any questions…Hey I don't discriminate so long as the no violence policy gets stuck to…"

"All right…But where did they go afterwards?…And they must need someone to help them get things…We've had definite reports they've remained in Sunnydale or the general area…Are you sure you've not seen them since their…" gulp…

"Honeymoon…?"

Mutual stares…

"If that's a gun you're thinking of reaching for under the counter…" Wes, calmly… "I would recommend you consider your next action carefully…You seem to have a good business here and a considerable lot to lose…"

"It's just my register…" Jonesy frowned… "I don't tolerate violence, I tole ya…I grew up with a demon dad, I saw enough as a kid…Not that Dad ever treated me or Mom badly…"

He pulled out the register and lifted it to the counter…Opening…

Here, he pointed… "Cicely and William Walthrop, April 19th last year…Two nights…Room 14…And that's all I can tell ya…"

Cicely?...

Walthrop?...

"Well, that's a help…But Angel might have a few more questions…And he tends to put them in a firmer matter than I…" Wesley, sternly…

"I said…That's all I can tell ya…"

"It's obvious you sympathize with them, Mr. Bates…Did you help them in other ways?..."

Frown…

"I thought Angel loved her…Why's he gotta go and make trouble for her?...She just wants to be left alone…"

"So you've spoken with her…?"

"Look…" Jonesy sighed… "They bought a few things they needed from me…Some clothes, a few things for their place…"

"Their…Place?..."

"Geesh, don't the Slayer who saved us all deserve a little comfort?...I did a little shopping for them, they paid in cash, and that was that…I haven't seen them since…You can bring Angel in to beat me up if you like…I can't tell you more…"

"You don't know where they're Unliving now…?"

"I wouldn't want to know…They picked up what they bought from me here…"

"Which was…And when?..."

"Exactly like I said…Some clothes, some lamps, a couple of chairs and a table…A few books…Some china and silverware…"

China?...

"And when…?" Wes repeated…

"The last time I saw Walthrop…William the Bloody…Was six months ago…He was picking up a book of poems and a guide to helping stroke and brain damage victims recover their speech…"

Wes stared…

"Don't sound like a mad killer couple to me..." Bates noted… "This Monster crap is just so much discrimination…She was disoriented the first couple of days and then they lynched her, she was a little upset for a while, what do you expect…?"

"Well…Angel just wants to help her…" Wes, a tad lamely…

"I'll bet…" Bates glared… "Well, tell him I hope he never gets that chance…If you want to help her, leave her alone…She's not hurtin' a fly and she's earned a quiet retirement…"

"So you've seen her recently…"

"Not in six months…I tole you and that's the truth…" firmly…

"All right…Thanks for your help…If we need to ask more questions, we'll be in touch or if you hear from them, call this number…" Wes offered a card…

"I'm no stoolie…And my name's not Jonesy the Snitch…" Bates handed back the card…

"Your choice, Mr. Bates…" Wesley shrugged…He made to turn but paused…

"How did she seem?...When you last spoke to her?..."

"Happy…" Jonas said quietly…

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

...

Part XVII...

LA…Just outside the sewer tunnel lair of Harmony and Drusilla…Eleven am…

Where, despite a somewhat fussy concern for his shoes in the dankness of the tunnel system, Dr. Andrew Praetorius, wizard of modern cloning, was feeling a bit exhilarated

Always something about a new project nearing its climax that brings out the adventurous side of my nature…

And while one might feel a certain caution in dealing with the current test subject…Between my own protections and the able support of the famed Dracula, I see limited cause for fear…Or at least outright panic…

And things do seem to be proceeding well…He eyed the now blank-eyed Harmony standing beside the Count who'd rather easily warded off her attack on their approaching the lair entrance…

"You are certain there is no other way out of the tunnel, Miss?..." Dracula asked Harmony politely…

"No way…No other way, Master…" she replied…In a flat tone…

"All right then, please go in and try to calm your friend…Assure her that all is well and no harm will come to her if she cooperates…Seize her if she seems likely to do herself harm…"

"Yes, Master…" Harmony nodded…Turning…

"And do try to seem a little more natural, Miss Kendall…" Andrew called… "We don't wish to unduly alarm the other poor creature…"

"Yes, Doctor…" she replied…Entering the tunnel lair… "Dru!..." she called…A slightly less flat tone…

"Her powers are formidable…But she can't escape us with daylight above and no other way out here…" Dracula noted… "But do take care Dr. Praetorius, she will sense you are essential to our project and the more vulnerable of us…I should hate for you to suffer injury in this…"

"I'm fully protected but will do so, Count…" Andrew nodded…

Faint screams continuing from down the tunnel lair…

Poor tormented child…Dracula shook his head… "But she will be at peace once my Elisabete is restored…"

***

Angel's hotel room, downtown Sunnydale…

Where a somewhat reluctant Wesley had just finished a report on his morning's interview with Mr. Bates…

"So, she is still kicking…And Spike is with her…I might have known…" Angel nodded, grimly…

"He did say he last saw her six months ago…And she hasn't made any trouble that we know of in nearly a year, Angel…" Wes noted… "Perhaps she…"

"Spike's clever enough to bide his time and settle for mere survival for now while he mentors her in Evil…Who knows how many they've killed in secret over this past year?..."

(Well I should hope so…Spike noted to himself, listening…)

"Willow told us he's not a vampire…He's basically human, if immortal and rather durable, like her…"

"Human?...That?..." Angel frowned… "You didn't see that thing Willow created, Wes…I did…" he raised his artificial arm unconsciously… "I did…I won't leave the woman I cared for trapped in that…And with a foul beast like Spike for her companion…"

"Willow also said, it was William, the soul, in there…Not Spike…"

"Willow Rosenberg is hardly an objective witness here…If it were up to me and she weren't human, I'd see she paid for her crimes…But…" he waved a hand… "I'm not a judge and jury…Let Heaven take care of her punishment…But I have a duty to help my poor Buffy…"

Hmmn…Didn't seem so much of a duty when she was battling Glorificus alone…Wes thought…

"The only question now is, how to find her…There must be something that would bring her out…Or Spike…'Cause I'm guessin' if we have one, we have the other…"

Sounds like love to me…Wes did not say…

"Lets see…They were spotted outside that new museum of supernatural oddities, right?..."

"The House of Horrors…So-called…Sounds more like a freak show…"

"The same night some artifacts mysteriously disappeared…"

"Well, a Dracula waxwork…Willow's already told me the other was simply poor Daniel Osborne, her werewolf friend, taken by them to a safe house…"

"Then the Dracula figure must be what they were after…Or something associated with it…If it was a waxwork…"

"Are you suggesting?…Buffy did kill Dracula just before Glorificus arrived in Sunnydale…"

"I've heard word to the contrary…" Angel replied…A bit smugly… "At least regarding the great Vlad…"

***

At the gang's conference, Dawn and Jonathan had been granted a sudden reprieve from Giles' inquisition…Tara having suddenly, without warning, groaned and fainted…

A terrified Willow at her side, with Faith, Anya, and Xander in helpless attendance while Dawn and Jonathan stood nearer Giles…Ambulance summoned by Giles…

Tara writhing as if in agony or terror but remaining unconscious…

"Giles, is she convulsing?…" Willow looked up in fright…

"Keep her covered…Don't panic, Willow…" he told her, reassuringly… "The ambulance is on its way…"

"Did she ever have this kind of fit before?..." Xander asked… "Could it be epilepsy?..."

"No, never…That I know of…And she never mentioned anything…" Willow sighed…But calmer, seeing Tara was no longer shaking…Breathing more comfortably…

"Should I try a spell trace?..." she suggested to Giles…He nodded…

"Not bitten but visions regarding Dracula…Right after the statue vanished…" Anya noted to Xander

"Could she have been exposed to something, in the museum?..." Xander suggested… "An artifact that was involved with that missing statue…?"

"Possibly…" Giles agreed… "But right now unless Willow senses something, the best thing is to get her to a hospital…"

The ambulance arrived…Just as Willow relaxed from her concentration…Glancing at Giles, slight shake of head as the EMTs entered with stretcher and equipment…

***

"Amazing the properties of vampiral matter, on a quantum level…" Praetorius noted to Dracula patting his specimen box as they made their way through the sewer network to where a covered exit led to their waiting car… "By all analysis this brain tissue sample will be nearly two hundred years old but a few moments ago it was in so energetic a state where it would have crumbled to dust if the poor creature had been staked…"

"Indeed, Professor…But you are sure you have all you need to clone the brain?..."

"Quite…I managed Walthrop's brain from a few ashes…Believe me this will be quite a piece of cake…"

"Excellent…" Dracula hesitated… "I wonder if we should have left her as she was…It was difficult to contemplate destroying her…She is so much Elisabete's counterpart physically…But, I also feared severing Elisabete's link to this world…And I do owe the creature my thanks in a sense…She has preserved my Elisabete's memories, even if in buried form…"

"Yes, I quite understand your feelings, Count…But, her continued existence should not affect our work, and once our project is complete, perhaps, if the Slayer hasn't already dealt with her, Ms. Kendall could assist Drusilla in finding peace…Eh, Ms. Kendall?..."

"Yes, Doctor Praetorius…" Harmony nodded...Wan smile…

Dracula having felt it his duty to bring Ms. Kendall home to where the Slayer could finally provide her peace…Or at least a restored soul…

Besides, another assistant with certain physical abilities at this stage might be very useful…Especially in dealing with Ms. Rosenberg and company, Praetorius had noted…

Stressing the guilt the Slayer's team naturally felt over failing a former classmate rather than her potential for intimidation…

"She…Will be able to care for herself after she awakens?..." Dracula asked…

"Until our procedure is complete, she should make a quick recovery…Although afterwards, the effects are anyone's guess, frankly…" Andrew shrugged… "In Walthrop's case the vampiral body had been destroyed previously and the soul, while keeping unusually close, continued to drift free until Ms. Rosenberg's summoning…What the effect will be on an intact vampiral form…" he shrugged… "I suppose it depends on the degree of the soul's remaining association with the host body…"

"I sensed no sign of Elisabete's soul there…" Dracula pondered…

"Well, in any case, the soul transfer should not be hindered…" Andrew noted… "And that is our chiefmost concern…"

"Indeed…" Dracula nodded…

"Indeed…" Harmony repeated, wanly striving to join her new employers' club…

***

"Anything else, sir?..." Gibbons, Andrew's butler politely requested of the latest house guest of his employer…

"Uh, no…" Oz shook his head… "This is just great…" he nodded at the large hamburger and glass of milk on bedtray Gibbons had just brought…"

"Medium rare, as you requested…"

"Looks perfect…" Oz took a bite… "Terrific…"

"Very good, sir…Just ring if you require anything else…The doctor and his guest, Dr. Alucard should be back this evening from Los Angeles…"

"Thanks, you guys and your boss have been great…Uh, ok if I walk round a bit?...I need to stretch the legs a little, I think…And the doctor said I could get up if I felt like it…"

"Certainly, sir…The doctor had mentioned it would be good for you to take some exercise today…You may find the library, down the hall outside, to the left, interesting…In addition to a fine collection of books and music, Professor Praetorius keeps an excellent video library…"

"Sounds good, thanks…I guess the cloning business pays, eh?..."

"Indeed, sir…" Gibbons nodded…Bowing and heading out…Quiet closing of bedroom door…

Nice…Oz looked around the room again…Taking burger in hand, he set the tray to the side of the bed, and carefully swung legs out…A gulp of milk and he cautiously got on his feet…Hmmn…He looked down where, by the side of the bed, rather elegant slippers lay…

Definitely beats Sunnydale General…He thought, munching on burger, as he slipped his feet into the soft embrace of slippers probably costing more than he made in a month with gigs…Glass in other hand, he moved slowly across the room to the door…

Easy does it…

Wonder if Willow and Tara may show today…Be kinda neat to have the run of this place with them while Andrew's out…

He opened the door and carefully strolled down the hall…

May as well check out the DVD collection…

Hmmn… "Dr. Alucard…" I still get a kick outta that…But, it is silly enough to be real…And if I were a human Dracula family member, I guess I'd wanna change the name a little…

Wonder if he's got "Dracula" in here…He opened the library door…

Whoa, nice…He gazed round…

Very nice…He eyed the huge flatscreen

Yikes…He stared at the full-length portrait on the wall before him…Willow in regal ball dress…Hair piled in elegant style...Lovely smile on her face…Leaning on Greek or Roman pillar in handsome, book-lined...Ah, right...He noted the Greek or Roman pillar to his left...

Scalpel in her hand…

Holy…That little, wild-haired son-of-a...Glare at framed portrait of his host on opposite wall..

Though to be fair...I've photoshopped a few Willows myself...But there's a difference between one's personal computer fantasies and putting up a floor-to-ceiling mural...

Sigh...Is a damned nice likeness though...I see I got a fellow sufferer…

But how'd he ever get her to pose in that dress…?

***

"Daughter of Rosenberg..."

Summary: One year after the events of "Groom of Rosenberg" Buffy the Rosenberg Monster and her honey have returned to ask a special favor of their creators Rosenberg and Praetorius...While Tara faces the more or less Big Bad...

Disclaimer: Would Joss want his name associated with this? I think not...But anyway all BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...Though his brother Mort gets nothing...

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse,

...

Part XVIII...

Drusilla's involuntary tissue donation safely deposited in Andrew's personal freezer, secure in tissue storage media, Praetorius and Dracula had returned to prepare for the next phase of their effort...

Though the brain cloning would have to be a home-based, night-time operation to keep it secret from a rather busy day staff at the corporate lab, in itself, Andrew again assured his partner, it was…A piece of cake...

Twenty-first century cake, that is...He quickly added...Considering the project cake would have been right up to the twentieth...

It was, therefore, time to consider their approach to the unfortunately vital third wheel in their scientific chariot spiriting Elisabete from Hades...Dracula frowning a bit at Andrew's flight into classical allusion, considering the ill-fated choice of Orpheus... Miss Willow Rosenberg...

Well, perhaps Mrs. Willow Rosenberg might be more accurate nowadays…Andrew reluctantly conceded…

"Do you think she could be persuaded?...If we were to put it to her openly?..." Dracula asked as the two sat in Andrew's well-appointed study...

Hmmn...Andrew was frowning at what looked suspiciously like a grease spot on his favorite red leather armchair...

I would say either my houseguest or his attendants have been making rather free with my hospitality...

"Doctor?..." Dracula, politely...

"Hmmn?...Oh, yes...Willow..." Andrew nodded...

"We can try...Putting it to her as a project which, potentially, could fully restore two lost souls, end their suffering, and protect millions, at no cost to anyone, excepting the organ donations...Which were after all post facto obtained from those who'd voluntarily planned to donate...Something a bit less intrusive on the grave-robbing end than either of our last two experiments...Still...Ms. Rosenberg has been burned, so to speak...And perhaps literally, at least last time..." He flashed reluctantly back to the moment of the explosion in her former, delightfully atmospheric laboratory...Ah, that lovely old laboratory...Where he'd had one magic moment of communion...In scientific and regrettably, strictly platonic, terms...With his beloved... "Twice...And her faith in me has, sadly, never been completely restored since I arranged the kidnapping of her domestic partner..."

Not that it ever was all that great...She was even a little nervous around me back in my biology classes at U Cal Sunnydale...

Possibly with reason, but still...

"Meaning we may find it necessary to use other means of persuasion..." Dracula noted quietly...

Hmmn...Yes...Now there's an...

Well, no...She'd be bound to come out of it, sooner or later...No doubt my rather surprisingly moral partner sure to prefer sooner...And minus any new romantic entanglements impressed upon her will...

Sigh...

"I would hesitate to use your own 'talents' here, Count...While I am sure you would do nothing consciously that would harm her, we will need Willow's skill in soul restoration completely intact if we are to succeed..." Andrew noted... "And your abilities could affect her mental acuity..."

As in... "Oh, Andrew...My dearest, only weakness, Andrew..." stroke of wild hair…

No, no...That the way to Perdition...And I been down that road...

Not to mention likely ending with an angry wiccan spouse blasting my skin off...No, another approach is definitely called for...

Hmmn...Speaking of angry females capable of extreme mayhem...

"I suppose that is a sensible considerable, doctor...But if we choose not to rely on my powers of persuasion...?" Dracula paused, raising a hand for silence...

"I believe your other houseguest may be approaching..." he eyed Praetorius... "I sense a slightly off-human aura in the hallway outside..."

"Still in human form, I trust..." Andrew, quickly...Thinking of his hand-carved wooden door frames and several valuable paintings hanging in said hallway...

"Oh, yes...But I would imagine his senses are rather heightened, particularly smell...And hearing..." hard stare...

"Indeed...Well, Dr. Alucard...Referring to our research project, I do believe we can hope to persuade our colleague to join us if we can provide something for her...In return...Quid pro quo, so to speak..."

"Really...?" Dracula eyed his host...

"Yes, you see...She...In a manner of speaking...May have misplaced some rather dangerous 'materials' following her last experiment...And you and I might just possibly be able to assist her in…Recovering them..." Andrew, shrewd look... "In exchange for her assist in our own project…"

Knock at the door...

"Do come in..." Andrew called...

Oz entered, pushing the door open slowly...Bearing dvds and an apologetic look...

"Sorry to interrupt...Just wanted to return these to the library..." Oz held up the dvds...

"Mr. Osborne..." Andrew nodded... "Not at all...I'm very glad to see you up and about...Come in and meet my other houseguest, Dr. Alucard..."

Very glad...If it means you'll be out of here and any place near my Willow...

Dracula had risen...Looking relatively normal if a bit overwhelming in presence in his modern suit, furnished courtesy his host...Smiling at Oz...

"Young man, I'm very pleased to meet you...Dr. Praetorius has told me of your rather harrowing incident the other day..."

"I owe him my life..." Oz nodded... "And thanks for putting me up these past..."

"Not at all..." Praetorius, brightly... "How are you getting on?...Any pain in moving about?..."

Only when I spy ten foot portraits of the girl I loved on your library wall, you wild-haired little freak...Oz thought...

"Nah...I'm doing good..." he replied...Looking over across the room...

"Oh..." Andrew followed the stare...And caught the subsequent glare... "I see you've noticed my little guilty pleasure..."

"Yeah..." Oz nodded...Eyeing Willow's rather adoring beam...Targeting the chair in which his host currently perched, he noted...

"Nice job..."

"A very fine artist...I felt dear Willow deserved no less..." Andrew sighed...

"She is still alive, last I checked..." Oz frowned... "Though she might be a bit peeved at this..."

Dracula looking a bit uncomfortable in his chair...

Hadn't wanted to say anything...After all, he'd had a mammoth portrait of Elisabete gracing the great hall of his castle for at least 500 years...And would do so again...Soon as he got the deed back from the new Romanian government which had at last recovered a sense of justice regarding private property...At least that little bastard of a grandnephew hadn't destroyed it, finding it...According to the faithful Roma retainers who'd reported to him since his resurrection...Too useful a seductive tool to part with...

"There she hangs, my lost love of past centuries...Only you, my dear, after all these lost years, could have awakened such...Feelings...In me, again..."

Gregor, son and grandson of Gregor, pausing in his tale to shake head at the little punk's farcical attempt to imitate his ancestor...An outrage, Lord Dracule

("Now that sounds like Vladimir..." Angelus noted...)

Anyway, Elisabete had posed for it...Embarrassing as she'd found such a public display of her beauty...Whereas poor Ms. Rosenberg...

Though of course...We all have our obsessions...And no form of love is to be despised...

So long as it involves neither gruesome murder nor enslavement...

"I suppose so..." Andrew sighed...Regarding the portrait... "But as one who loved Ms. Rosenberg in your own time...Daniel..." Ingratiating smile... "I hope you can forgive an old fool for love his only weakness..."

"Sure..." Oz sighed in turn...Sheepish smile at a fellow sufferer... "But I'd turn it to the wall next time she comes in to see me..."

"Point taken..." nod...

"So you know Willow pretty well...?" he asked...

"I taught her...A little of what she knows..." Praetorius smiled... "The finest student I ever...Encountered..."

Yeah, thanks for avoiding... "had"...Oz thought...

"She's something...A little too much, sometimes..." he frowned at the portrait...

"She has given this resurrection kick up, right?..." he looked at Andrew... "I mean, after Buffy...And William...She's through with it...?"

"I assure you, I've heard nothing to indicate to the contrary..."

"Good...So, Doc..." Oz turned to his fellow house guest...

Quite a figure he cuts in that suit...I guess the "Mad Men" look really is a winner...

"...You fellas are working on getting Andy's cloned organs to your neck of the woods, eh?.."

'We certainly hope so, Mr. Osbourne...We stand in great need of Dr. Praetorius' services...Many lives depend on our success..." Dracula eyed Andrew...

"I can imagine...I've seen documentaries on Romania since the Wall fell...That's great of you to help out, Andrew..."

"Just doing what comes naturally...To a physician..." Andrew nodded pleasantly...

Slight muffed crash...

Ox jumped a bit...

"Are you all right?..." Dracula, concerned...

"Yeah...Sorry...Kinda on edge...What was that?..."

"I'll see..." Andrew rose...Pulling on a bell cord...

Can't believe anyone still has one of those...Oz thought...

Gibbons, the butler, tapped at the library door, visible through the stained glass in the door frame...

"Professor?..."

"Gibson?...What was that noise just now?..."

"I believe your new assistant had a minor mishap, Professor..." Gibson, benignly... "A dropped crate but no damage to equipment or the lady...Nothing to worry about..."

"I see...Well, tell the young lady to take care...Dr. Alucard and I will be with her shortly..."

"Sir..." Gibson nodded...Leaving as quietly as he'd come...

Careful to keep the cross in his pocket well hidden...

"One of my staff from my lab bringing some equipment over for the doctor..." Praetorius explained to Oz...Who was frowning slightly at the 'young lady" reference... "Well, Dr. Alucard and I should be getting down to her...Are you quite all right?..."

"Fine, fine..."

"Good…Ms. Rosenberg and Ms. Maclauy should be in later to brighten your day...If you need anything, just call Gibson over the telephone in your room or pull the bell cord..." he rose, moving to where Dracula was standing by the door...

"A great pleasure to meet you, young man..." Dracula bowed, clicking heels...

"Yes..." he grinned to Oz's smile... "Some of us really do do that..."

"Cool..." Oz nodded... "Thanks again, doc..." he waved to Praetorius...

Young lady assistant...he frowned as the door closed...

Maybe I best check this one out...Not wanting to be ungrateful to the guy who saved my life...

But he...And Willow...Do have a history...

And they say this sort of thing is like candy...Always possible they wanted to put on one more show for the foreign visitor...

***

Outside the McNabb House of Horrors, William was finding it difficult to end an embarrassing social encounter with an old friend...

Clem agreeably accepting his desire to remain incognito...But refusing to take increasingly bald hints that his presence was neither enthralling nor welcome...

"So, what have you been up to, Bill?..." making an effort to comply with Will's hissed request not to be fingered in daylight even among such a crowd...

For Buffy, however, the suggestion of a possible friendly face, after the terrible forced severing of nearly all ties with the world last year was irresistible...Though she could not place the voice...Which agitated her still more...

Kidding as she might have been about the "brain-damaged mommy" thing...Rather disturbing if she wasn't able to remember some old friend or acquaintance...Even an old enemy acquaintance, give the demonic nature…

Will had pulled them back from the crowd, currently engaged in giving their new hero...Courtesy his charming support of things underworldly...Not to mention the free passes and rather nice appetizers offered so generously...Artemis McNabb, hearty support...

For his part, McNabb never having felt so close to his fellow Humanity...Ironically...

"Say...Is this...?" Clem looked over the figure in the wheelchair...

"Not a word, Clem...I mean it..." Will, stern whisper...

"Hi..." Buffy smiled at the demon trying to conceal his long ears in a bowler perched atop a large, round...fur carefully cut back...Head... Clem a bit startled by her emergence from veil to reveal a lightly green-skinned...Somewhat, all around, but in particular, lengthwise, heftier Buffy Summers...With a few visible scars, well-faded now...

"Sorry..." she pulled the veil back hastily... "Me...I...Forget..."

"No, not at all..." Clem smiled... "I'm sorry...Just caught me by surprise, Ms. Summers...It's a pleasure to meet ya...I've seen you and your work many times...Roundabouts..."

She smiled back, shyly...Thanks…

"Buffy..." Will hissed...

"We no meet?...Before...?" she asked, a bit anxious...

"Not in person, no, ma'am..." Clem shook his head, holding his bowler on...

"Clem's an old friend of Spike's, but a decent sort...Who's leaving...Now..." Will cut in...

"Real nice to see ya…" Buffy offered a gloved hand…Careful not to shake…

It still being rather easy to forget one's own resurrected strength, as with Angel…

"And you, Ms. Summers…" Clem, remembering his nineteenth century human manners, kissed the gloved hand…Patting gently…

"Mrs. Summers-Walthrop…" she corrected…

Clem beamed…Even Will unable to resist his friend's innocent pleasure… "That's wonderful…Hey, congrats, Sp…Bill…" he patted Will's arm…

"Thanks, old fellow…"

"Oh, come and see us sometime…" Buffy, hurriedly as Clem turned… "Just up by lake…"

"Enough, sweet…" Will cut in…Lets not start inviting all the underworld…

"Sure…" Clem nodded..Waving…

"He's nice…" Buffy smiled…Waving back…

"And very talkative…" Will cautioned…Sighing at her slightly downcast look…

"Maybe if he can keep his trap shut…And wears a blindfold after we pick him up…"

"Yeah…" she nodded, content… "He like chicken?..."

"He likes anything vaguely edible…Now, we should be off…" he eyed her sternly… "Enough folks living and dead have had a gander at us…Especially after Clem started spouting…"

"No lynch mob…" she looked round…Noting the crowd still eagerly listening to McNabb extol the wonders within his new establishment… "Nobody…"

Will looking round as well…Well, true enough…

"We're lucky…For the moment…But lets not press it, shall we?…Anyway, nothing sinister seems to be going on or hanging around just now…"

"Bud…" Lou, standing on the porch of the museum near where McNabb continued to pontificate, was staring out at the crowd, pausing as he caught sight of a rather tall figure standing by a wheelchair…

"What?..." Bud grunted sourly, watching McNabb…Cousin Artie the showoff…Throwing good money away on the local morons…

"I think I've seen that guy before…" Lou, hesitant… "The other night at the museum…"

"Whattt…" Bud frowned, waving him off… "That guy?..." he looked over at William, pushing wheelchair away from the crowd…And the odd fellow in bowler, rejoining the crowd…

"I think so…"

"Whadya mean, you saw him at the museum?..."

"He was one of the ones the police shot at I think…"

"What?..." Bud perked a bit at that…

"You sure?..." he peered at the very tall man now moving the wheelchair he was pushing with rather surprising speed…

"Pretty sure…Should we tell Artie?..."

"Lemme handle this…" Bud shook head… "Come on…"

Come…On…He pulled at the reluctant Lou…Who hastily suggested that perhaps a call to the cops?...

Or a friend he knew who might be better suited to handling near seven foot types who seemed unusually resistant or, at least unafraid of, bullets…

"I can handle this…" Bud insisted, pulling Lou along… "Just leave it to me…"

Gladly…Lou thought…If you only would…

***

A somewhat forlorn Harmony eyed the dropped crate before her in Praetorius' basement and home lab…

The Master and his human friend were not going to be pleased with her…Though at least the priceless specimen from Dru wasn't in there…

Though that nice Mr. Gibson had been very kind about it…Assuring her it was nothing important and he would explain to the Professor and his guest…

Still, given her task had been to move the equipment carefully and quietly, she could be said to have failed on both counts…Though she'd done her best in her enthralled state…A state prone to attacks of sudden dizziness…

Oh, well…Best to get on with picking up what could be salvaged…The Master seemed like the type who appreciated good housekeeping skills…

***

Will had pulled over to what he hoped was a corner storefront well out of range of most of those in the crowd gathered about the McNabb House of Horrors who might be occult sensitive or simply sharp-eyed enough to note his and Buffy's presence, yet still close enough to get some handle on what was going on…And who was showing interest in Sunnydale's latest attraction…

Buffy, careful to keep seated and veiled, likewise observing for anything…Any thing or person…Who might be worthy of investigation…

But, so far, the otherworldy contingent of the mob seemed pretty much the daylight capable bit players of the underworld…More interested in the potential for new occult-related business generated by the museum or simply eager to get some free food and passes…

Uh-oh…Will had caught sight of the two men approaching…Or rather one approaching, the other pretty much being dragged along…The dragger looking their way with an intent expression…

He looked up at the storefront sign…

Don't think the fellow is all that interested in plumbing fixtures…

"Time to go, pet…" he hissed to Buffy, turning her chair around swiftly but carefully… "I think we may have been spotted…"

"Those guys?..." she asked as he began pushing…

"They look like museum security or something…They may have seen us before…Anyway, lets not find out the hard way…"

"Not too fast, William…They tell…" she hissed… "I play old mummie…"

"Right…" he agreed, slowing… "Looks like they're human, anyway…"

"Hey, you!..." Bud called, still dragging Lou along…He paused at the corner across from where Will was now pushing Buffy at a reasonable, though rather speedy rate… "Stop!..I wanna talk to you, pal!...Lou, stop draggin' yer feet!..."

"Maybe we oughta get some help, Bud…" Lou tried… "We're only security guards…You know what happens to security guards when they meet up with the bad guys…"

Especially in Sunnydale…He did not say…

"Eh, that's in movies…Don't be soft…Hey, pal…" Bud pulled his partner across the street…

"Let 'em come…Just play, Will…" Buffy whispered… "I do good…" squeeze of hand…

Will sighed, but halted…

"Yeah…?" he eyed the approaching pair…From his rather lofty position…

Even Bud a bit more circumspect on seeing the fellow close up…

Big m-fer, for sure…And the one in the chair not exactly petite…

"We're from the McNabb museum…" Bud frowned, swallowing a bit as Will stared down at him…

"Yeah?..." Will, laconically…

"Oooooohhh…" Buffy groaned under her veil… "Sonny…"

"Mum's not feeling her best, gents…What did you boys want?..."

"Just a few questions…" Bud, trying to fix his opponent with a hard stare

Oh, Lord…Lou stared up at the face before him…

The same face he'd once seen on a much smaller frame as it was hurled across a bar floor by a lovely young brunette insisting that he was not her boyfriend Warren…

William the Bloody…As his acquaintance of that evening, a small, rather weasily fellow, named Willie by coincidence, and well up on Sunnydale's underworld, had informed him…

But what was he doing out here?...Not to mention…Up there…?

Oh, Lord…Will sighed, acknowledging the look of recognition…

"Soooonnnyy…" Buffy moaned…Bit growlingly…

"Mum needs to get home…You've got quite a nice place there, we'll definitely patronize, see ya…" Will turned

"Just a minute…" Bud tapped his arm…Falling back a bit as Will faced him, frowning…

"Don't touch the goods, mate…"

"Sorry…Where you at the museum a couple of nights ago?..."

"No…"

"OOOOOOOHHHH…" Buffy groaned…All three of the others staring at her…

"Right away, Mum…Sorry I can't help you, boys…Bye…" Will pushed off…

"The little one knew me…" he hissed to Buffy, picking up speed…

"Hey!..." Bud called…Looking round… "I'm not done yet!...Hey!..."

"Think we'd better let 'em go, Bud…" Lou suggested…A bit desperate…

"They're runnin'…What's up here?...Hey, police!..." Bud shouted to the mostly empty immediate area…Making no real effort, Lou gratefully noted…To pursue…

"What's that racket?..." Angel looked over to Wesley as they sat in his hotel room…He on phone to LA for his daily report from Cordelia

"Good God…" Wesley, looking out the window…The overhead view making for a good view of the couple below moving hastily past their hotel…Will's hat off and in hand, owing to his inability to make speed and keep it on his head while Buffy's veil disturbed just enough, revealing the two as extraordinarily tall blondes…She, moved by a vague sensation, looking up just as they passed under Wesley's window…Veil falling away…

"What?..." Angel stared at Wesley's astonished face…Coming over…

***

 

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