The Foot That Wouldn't Die...

 


Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...



Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part I...

"I dunno about this..." the First Evil, in her favorite Morphy Buffy form, sighed to her minions...Looking at the object they'd brought to her...It'd called to them, said she'd want to see it, the two who had found it explained.

Still, Smollett deserves his chance don't you guys think?...she eyed a group of her Harbringers...Who nodded, several heads in the wrong direction...

"He does have power...Potentially the Greatest Warlock of All Time after his long period with me in Hell...And if he can reassemble himself...Even Buffy and Willow couldn't stand against him..."

But...It's a little...Embarrassing...she sighed...The only piece of him within easy reach...Not imprisoned by Drake's charms...

Is a Foot...Hacked off by one of Drake's men here in good ole California in 1579...

Still, a foot harboring Gideon Smollett's spirit...Imbued with some of his now remarkable power...Especially of the telepathic hypnosis variety.

Drusilla's couldn't begin to compare...

"Of course it doesn't work on me..." she carefully noted to the boys.

Oh...Gideon...she thought...

"Or demons..." she continued... "At least until he can use his full power from me..."

Which I give...Gladly...Darling...she thought...

"Yeah...This is a great idea..." she beamed vaguely at the guys.

But he'll need someone rather innocent to control at first...Til he can get them to provide blood to the Seal, have them do the proper ritual, and drain telepathic strength from the Hellmouth...And then take someone with magics ability to find the rest of him, buried under sanctified conditions by Drake here in the Sunnydale area in 1579.

Hmmn...she pondered...Eyeing her hapless-looking, rather battered priests...

Nah, Buffy and the others have their eyes out for them...(Eyes out for them, she giggled, looking at the Harbringers...I kill me...) What's left of 'em...And they couldn't communicate well with Smollett...Too demony.

She now rather lovingly eyed...The Foot...



Of one Gideon Smollett, English buccaneer and explorer, lieutenant under Sir Francis Drake during his historic round-the-world cruise...Also, mighty warlock in his time...Arrested by Drake when he tried to take control of the expedition, using his fiendish powers and suggesting they build an empire of magic-controlled slaves in the New World.

Englishmen enslaving natives...The idea...Sir Francis was justly horrified...

At least by the suggestion they use the Devil to do it.

Fortunately the charms given Drake to use against the foul Papists of Spain and Portugal had been strong enough to restrain the treacherous warlock and allow his execution after a desperate battle.

But he'd vowed to return...With all the powers of Hell at his disposal...Someday...

The First liked that can-do, even in defeat, attitude...And rather fancied him...

Though perhaps his abilities were currently influencing her judgement...While she held Buffy form.

It being an age that took curses by the Devil seriously, Drake had taken Smollett at his word...And tried to prevent any possible return...By having him hacked to pieces and the pieces buried with sanctifying charms, scattered round a glen which was then blessed as well...

However...The Foot, hacked off during the final battle...Had survived...Unbound by Drake's charms...Preserved by Smollett's power...

And Gideon's foul spirit had found a rather cramped home there...

When not enjoying the comforts of Hell with the First.

"Hey, Fred..." one eyeless priest nudged his companion...

Maybe we shouldn't have brought that thing to her while she's in human form..

Ah...Fred waved a hand...In the wrong direction...She's the First.

"Take him to Sunnydale High tonight...Put him where some young innocent will be first to find him...Preferably female..." the First told two of the priests...Handing them The Foot...

In fact...I have just the right place...she beamed, giving them detailed directions...Very detailed...After all...

"Just leave it there..."

Gideon will do the rest...she grinned evilly...They bowed and left..

She stood a moment...Lost in thought...

I think she's left...Can we go now...? Fred hissed.

"Hey...?" she started...Looking round...

"Did I just entrust my destiny to a magic foot...?!" she blinked.

That little bastard of a warlock...

Oh...Well...

Hell, it's an enemy Buffy'll never think to look for...



Until she becomes his slave...

***

If there was anything she hated...Dawn thought, trudging down the hallway in Sunnydale High...

It was gym class.

Constant proof that her brief moment of glory as a potential Potential was a childish dream.

Oh well...

She entered the girls locker room...Still not too crowded yet, thank God...

"Hey, Dawn...!" Janice waved from the back of the room, pulling on her gym shoes...She nodded, waving back, and went to her gym locker...

Wilma Ruckett, from her homeroom, passed by...Giving an evil smirk...

Hey, Dawny...she cooed...

Hey...Dawn glared...

"That sis of yours still with the weird blonde guy?..." Wilma grinned...

Couldn't say...Dawn replied coolly...Why not ask her, she's in today.

She opened her locker...Pulled out her gym clothes...Janice was coming over...

Hmmn...Something all wrapped up in her spare towel...She pulled at it...

Something with a rather strange scent...She stared at the big toe now protruding from the half-unwrapped Foot...Hearing a call...

"Dawny...?" Janice knocked on the door of the locker...She hastily recovered the exposed foot, and closed the door.

What?...she coldly eyed Janice...

"You ok?...What were you doing?..." Janice looked at her.

Getting my clothes...Dawn raised the little pile of gym stuff...

I have to use the bathroom and get dressed for gym now...Then I have to see Ms. Cree...If you'd excuse me...Dawn eyed her friend...

O.........K......Janice frowned...And stalked off...Dawn watching her.

Cat fight, Wilma nudged a friend...

Dawn quietly reopened the locker and pulled out the bunched-up towel...And its contents...And headed out of the room letting the door swing closed behind her...Passing the bathroom, she headed for the gym teacher's office...Knocked and entered...

"Ms. Cree...?" she eyed the thirtyish gym teacher...Still quite attractive, she noted.

Master was pleased with her choice...she realized contentedly...Feeling the telepathic call...

"Dawn?..." Ms. Cree smiled at her...Summers was a leetle on the odd side, like that older sis of hers...But a nice kid all the same...And what with the mom's death and all...She was inclined to cut her a little slack.



"I have to leave, Ms. Cree...I don't feel well..." Dawn looked coolly at the teacher...

But, before I go...I have something to show you...she smiled...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part II...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part II...

In the gym, Janice looked round and then headed over to Ms. Cree...Who eyed her charges carefully...

"Where's Dawn...? Didn't she go to see you...?"

Dawn wasn't feeling well...She went to see her sister...Ms. Cree replied coolly...

"She's probably going home...Get over with the others please, Janice."

She addressed the class...

"Just practice on the bars a bit...I have to get some new equipment from the sub-basement."

"I'll give you a hand, Ms. Cree..." Wilma called...As did a couple others...

Brown-nosing little suck-ups...Ms. Cree thought...A pleasure to deliver them to Master to feed the Seal...But...

Too much risk of exposure as yet...Can't have one of our dear students unaccountably disappearing...Besides, He can only take one new servant at a time as yet.

"No..." she shook her head... "It's just a few small things...I'll be back in just a bit...

Dawn and her sister will find someone suitable...she thought...

Just have to find someone nobody'll miss...

If worst comes to worse, either one of the Summers girls would do...Maybe both...she noted happily to herself...

Leaving her as sole servant...she beamed...As she left the girls.

"I think Creepy's finally found a feller..." Wilma smirked to her companion...

Probably the janitor...she giggled.

***

"I understand, Master..." Dawn sighed in the depths of the sub-basement...Looking through the tools in the storage closet...Ah, shovel...She paused...Laying it aside.

I never meant to question your judgement...It's just that Buffy is potentially your most dangerous foe...

"But if you're not certain you can control her as yet...We should concentrate on reopening the Seal to strengthen you..." she nodded at the severed, dried-blood-caked Foot in her hand...Stroking it with her other hand gently.

"Buffy can wait for now...I can handle her until you're ready...Then once we've dealt with her..."

Hopefully, via something fatal...she thought...I do not need that kind of competition...

"We can seek Willow to join us."

She grabbed the shovel with her free hand and headed down towards the buried Seal...

***

Well...Buffy eyed the boy sitting across her desk...

"I know there are a lot of weird stories circulating around about this town..." she began with a smile...

"But I'm sure there are no aliens in Sunnydale."

But...The boy shook his head...

I saw 'em the other night...Yellow eyes...Bony face ridges...One minute looking like us, then...The next...Aliens...

She sighed...

Then again...she noted to herself...We've had everything else but...

"Evelyn..." Buffy waved at Ms. Cree as the gym teacher entered her office.

"Anything wrong..." she looked at the teacher...Who eyed her carefully...

"Dawn been here?..." Ms. Cree smiled coolly.

Dawn?...

"She complained of not feeling too well...I sent her to the nurse...I thought she might have stopped by..."

"No...Was it anything serious?..."

"I don't suppose so...Probably just wanted to get out of class..." Ms. Cree eyed her...

"Dawn wouldn't do that..." Buffy glared slightly...

For her sake...I hope not...she thought.

"Well...I'd check on her asap if I were you...See you later..." the gym teacher turned and left...

Geesch...What's with her?...Buffy stared after her...Is it cause I called her by her first name?...I thought I was part of the team now...



Hmmn...the boy looked after Ms. Cree...

"You know..." he whispered confidentially to Buffy...Leaning forward...

Aliens can take the form of any body they want to...

I think my mom's one...I know my sister's one.

"Really..." Buffy nodded...

Psych evaluation...she noted on her pad...

***

Ok...Dawn noted to The Foot...Panting, near collapse...Having given it her all...

I'm not much shakes as an earth mover.

The Seal remained buried under several feet of earth and concrete...

Ms. Cree stepped into the room...

"You failed..." she said accusingly...

"Your sister is still not one of us."

She turned to The Foot...

Oh...

"Sorry..." she sheepishly smiled...

Didn't know...

Fine...the exhausted Dawn waved a hand...

"But we have a problem...The Seal is too well-buried to uncover...We'd have to blow up the concrete or use something else equally noisy."

At night...? Evelyn suggested...

"Maybe..." Dawn nodded... "But we'll need expert help to uncover it...And time is a problem...We have to conceal Master's hold on us while Buffy remains free...And he can't risk trying to take her and failing just yet."

"Why is your sister so important?..." Ms. Cree stared...

The Foot wiggled a bit...Sending out info and instructions...

Oh...Evelyn nodded...

Slayer?...Vampire Slayer?...

"There are vampires in Sunnydale...?" she asked Dawn...Who looked at The Foot and shrugged...

Some people just refuse to see the things around them...she noted to it telepathically...But quite content...As befitting Number One Servant...By virtue of her specialized knowledge...



Never thought her training with the Scoobies would stand her in such good stead.

"Maybe we should leave Buffy for now...And consider moving on to the next stage a little ahead of schedule..." Dawn suggested...

Willow is only human, after all...So long as we catch her with her magics down...

"And she's the essential piece in rescuing our Master..." she noted.

Willow?...Ms. Cree eyed Dawn.

The Foot wiggled again...A little impatiently...

Oh...

"There are witches in Sunnydale?..."

***

An anxious Buffy found Dawn quietly talking to the school nurse...Who turned to smile coolly at Buffy as she entered...

"Hi..." Dawn waved from an exam bench, a bit wanly...

"Dawn?..."

"She'll be fine..." the nurse smiled again...

Just a little nausea and vomiting...A little fever...A bug of some kind...

"Just take her home, have her take these pills, and see she gets a little rest."

"I'm feeling better..." Dawn smiled a little...Somewhat woodenly...

"Well...I'll take you home..."

No...Dawn began...I'll be...

"Yes...Do that..." the nurse urged...Just a bit of enthusiasm in her voice...

Natural as The Foot would now be in her care.

"Ok...?" Buffy eyed her sis...Offering a hand...

Dawn nodded, took the hand, and hopped off the exam bench...Turning to the nurse...

"Thanks..." she said flatly...A slight glare in her eyes...Buffy not able to see.

"Give me a call and let me know how you're doing later, honey..." the nurse waved to them.

"You sure you feel better?..." Buffy felt Dawn's forehead as they stood in the hall...

"Yeah...But I guess I should go home for now..." Dawn replied...Staring back at the clinic door...

"Dawn!..." the nurse emerged...A rather defeated look on her face...Bearing a bag...

You forgot this...she handed her the gym bag.



"Thank you..." Dawn beamed...Taking the bag carefully...

In your face, bitch...she inwardly gloated...Restored to First Servanthood.

She and Buffy headed to the office where Buffy explained the situation to the principal...

"You could come back after you drop me..." Dawn noted as her sis came back out to the hallway...

I'll be fine...

"No problem...I only had one definite appointment and they can reschedule..." Buffy replied.

What's in the bag?...she eyed the bag...Dawn seemed very fond of gym clothes suddenly...

"Just my gym stuff...I was feeling a little woozy and thought I might need...A container..." Dawn stood up, a little wobbly.

"Guess you better get me home, sis..." she smiled...Taking Buffy's hand...

Home...Where all those Slayers-in-Training are waiting...

To meet you, Master...she thought...

Damn...she groused inwardly...But...Must keep one's eye on the goal, Summers...she told herself...

And I am the First Servant...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part III...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part III...

"So..." Dawn noted to Buffy as they drove, she holding her bag carefully... "Giles took them all...?"

All but Kennedy...Buffy noted...We agreed one should stay behind, just in case...

"Visionquest...Sounds like a good idea..." Dawn noted, contentedly...But, as The Foot telepathically expressed its displeasure from within the bag...She inwardly begged forgiveness...She'd put jealously aside, focus on the common goal, she sheepishly vowed...And make her best effort with Willow...And Kennedy...And, when time served, Buffy...

Though if any of them had to be disposed of...And she could get the drop on them...First Servant was ready and willing.

"When will they be back...?" she asked...Her shame serving her well by dampening her spirits a bit.

Can't say...Buffy shook her head...



You feeling any better?...

"I'll be ok..." Dawn nodded.

"We should have asked your homeroom teacher to have Janice bring your homework..." Buffy sighed... "But I can call Principal Wood when we get home."

"Ms. Cree is gonna bring it by...She already promised to..." Dawn looked out the window...Your New World, Master...See how it's blossomed for you...she thought.

"Really?...She seemed a little pissed at you...Thought you were faking it..." Buffy noted...Still a bit miffed...

Well...I think she was getting a little sick herself...Or, maybe she just wants to check up on me...Dawn smiled at her sis...

"But...If Janice wants to come over...She'd be welcome to join us..."

Buffy glanced at her a second...Then back to the road...

Dawn...

"With a teacher around, it's hardly a slumber party, sis..." Dawn patted her hand, smiling.

"Willow and Kennedy coming over tonight?...Or staying at the Rosenbergs?..."

Rosenbergs...Willow needs to reconnect with the parental units for a while...Buffy replied.

"How're they taking to Kennedy?..." Dawn asked.

"Willow's taking it slow...Though she thinks her mom knows..."

Just as well...I can slip out when Buffy's on Patrol...It will be easier to handle them without Buffy around...Dawn noted internally...The Foot giving a mild approval...Cautiously limiting its contact now in the Slayer's presence...

Though there is someone who can help assure success...And who could be useful in uncovering the Seal...she thought.

"Xander coming by tonight...?" she asked hopefully...

"I think he's taking Anya to dinner..." Buffy sighed...

When was the last time...If any...A guy of mine took me out to dinner?...she thought glumly...

Hmmn...Wonder if Will actually took that job with Doublemeat?...

We can wait by Xander's place...It still might be worthwhile unless the bitch sleeps with him...Dawn noted to The Foot...

It kindly wriggled a bit in approval...Bringing joy to its First Servant's heart...

Another hasty glance by Buffy caught a glimpse of Dawn seeming to shake a bit...

"Dawn?..."

"Sorry...Tummy's upset again..." Dawn apologized...Requesting a brief pause and heaving a bit before Buffy could turn into the nearest stop...Just a little realism...she noted inwardly.

And quite successful...As Buffy nervously fussed to clean up and rush poor sis home to her sick bed...

After all, Master had no sense of smell just right now...



***

"Well..." Ms. Cree beamed at Buffy...Warned by the First Servant in her room that her slightly frosty earlier attitude had raised some questions...

"Dawn seems to be getting over it...I was feeling a little under the weather myself this morning."

I think she'll be ok by tomorrow...Buffy nodded...

"Thanks for bringing her homework..."

Janice waiting quietly...Rather unusually quietly...Following a brief chat with Dawn alone...Riding home with Ms. Cree...

No problem, glad to do it...the teacher smiled...Hope to see her tomorrow...

"Guess we better get going, Janice?"

Yes...Janice nodded...

Bye, Buffy...she smiled coolly...

***

"I can't stay too long..." Janice noted in the car as she and Ms. Cree awaited Dawn about two blocks away... "My parents have been keeping a stricter eye on me these days...It might cause problems."

Dawn thinks it best she goes to Miss Rosenberg's place alone or with her friend...Evelyn noted...I'll be there only to prove a car if she needs to leave quickly...

"Your main task will be to provide an excuse for Dawn slipping out if she is caught too soon..."

"I understand..." Janice nodded.

Though Master may have other uses for you tomorrow at school...And later...

"I don't think it's wise for Master to stay at the Summers'..." Janice shook her head...

He'd be safer with me...

"At that, dear..." Evelyn smiled coldly... "He'd be best off with me...I live alone...But the decision is his...And we must accept it..."

Remember, sweetheart...There will be many other followers joining us...Male and female, even superhuman like the Slayer...We must simply do our best to serve him.

Yes...Janice nodded...

***

"I could have William come over..." Buffy noted...Picking up the juice glass Dawn had set down after taking her pills...

"I thought he was starting with Doublemeat..." Dawn eyed her... "And trying to go through all those demonology books Giles gave him to study..."

I mean, sis...she smiled...If your boyfriend is gonna be a member of the new Council...

"He starts tomorrow night...He'd be happy to bring his books over and study here..." Buffy grinned...



"Left out... 'And he's not my boyfriend'..." Dawn grinned a bit at her.

So I did...Buffy grinned back.

"I don't need a babysitter...I'm just gonna poop out from my drugs and sleep this off..." Dawn frowned...

"Could skip Patrol one night..."

"And deprive Will of his nightly rendezvous with his girl...?" Dawn shook her head...

Dawn...

A vampire in the family...she sighed...

Souled, perhaps...But still...

Dawn...Buffy glared...

"Well...At least he'd be home to watch the kids..." Dawn grinned...

Don't know if we could have kids...Buffy said solemnly, looking down...

Very funny...Dawn nodded.

"Now...Go Slay one for the Dawnster..."

And say hi to William...Tell him I said to take you out somewhere decent as soon as he gets a paycheck...

"We can speak to Giles about rushing the Council forms..."she smiled at Buffy...Who stopped at the door...

Thanks...she smiled...

For being...Regards Will.

"He's a good, brave, souled man..." Dawn nodded...

Night, sis...Buffy headed out, closing the door softly...

"Night..." You stupid romantic fool...she thought...Wasting yourself on that nothing...But, if all goes well you'll be trading up shortly, sis...And William will be dust at your hands...

She heard the front door close and carefully pulled her bag from the table drawer by her bedside...Opened it and pulled out The Foot...Now to her joy, moving a bit more freely...Tasting its coming triumph she happily thought.

The Slayer...If all goes well...My Gift to you, Master...she whispered to it, kissing it gently...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part IV...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...



Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part IV...

The tedium of the four hours Janice and Ms. Cree had spent awaiting Dawn, broken only by their occasionally checking for any sign of Buffy having made a change in Patrol route was immediately forgotten on their catching sight of a fast-moving Dawn, dressed in black sweater and pants, approaching them, her gym bag on her shoulder...A bag they knew from experience held the sole object of their devotion...

Both instinctively reached out to pat the bag as Dawn got in...She frowned at them...No time for this...The Foot however...

She apologized...Profusely...Master was right...There was always time for proper worship and expression of devotion...It was sheer selfishness on her part.

Still...It was getting late...They had to try Xander's and then reach Willow's parents' place before too ungodly an hour...Unless they planned to break in or wait outside until next morning...Each of these courses holding rather unacceptable risks.

The Foot reluctantly expressed agreement...But as she had to leave them, allowed Janice a last pat.

"Be ready to slip out of your house if I need you to cover for me..." Dawn noted.

Janice nodded...Dawn taking her place beside Ms. Cree.

"See ya at school tom..." Janice froze as The Foot expressed displeasure...A native Englishman...Of reasonably gentle birth...Whose spirit on visits to the First in Hell had kept up on developments in the English language...But felt certain standards were immutable.

"See you at school tomorrow, Dawn...Ms. Cree..." she corrected...And left...

Go...Dawn eyed Ms. Cree...

"We must secure a better car tomorrow..." Ms. Cree noted...As they moved along...

Master is taking considerable pleasure in my sensations as I drive...

"I think he'd love a convertible..."

***

"Well...What were her symptoms...?" William eyed Buffy as they strolled along the center of the Greenwood cemetery...The prettiest in Sunnydale and former location of Spike's posh old place.

Our place...Buffy struggled to repress the thought...

"Fever, nausea, vomiting..."

"Hmmn...Sounds like cholera..." he frowned.

"What?...Spike?!..." she glared.

"What?...It does...And a nineteenth century Englishman knows cholera I can tell you..."

It is not...Cholera...Just a bug...

"We cured cholera years ago..." she noted.



A hand burst through the ground, grabbing her ankle...William matter-of-factly slammed a stake through it...

Arghh!!!!...A howl from below...The hand disappeared...

"You really should wait until they get up..." Buffy noted... "That one's probably gonna wait now and come up later."

So...Lets give it a mo...he smiled...Dusting off a flat headstone with a hanky...Waving her to it...

She frowned a moment...Then grinned and sat...God...

"As for cholera...We didn't cure it...We brought it under control...Temporarily..." he noted.

Ever heard of multi-drug resistance, girl...? And schools are nearly as bad as hospitals for incubating new germs...

"Shut up..." she frowned... "That's not what I need to hear..."

Ok...It's probably a minor bug...he smiled.

"Sent by the First..."

She whacked him one...Geesch...Will...

"Now I'll stop..." he grinned...

For calling me Will...he beamed at her.

"Did you sign on at 'Hell on Earth' tonight...?" she asked...

Yeah, he nodded...Courtesy Giles' and my old faked documents...I am now...

"Assistant Manager William Soames Walthrop...Of Doublemeat Palace..."

William Soames Walthrop...she beamed...Oh...

"Will...I am sorry I never asked...Before..."

"Before...It wasn't me...Much as Spike was, is...Part of me..."

She was lost in thought...He eyed her...So much strength and courage in such a little body...

So much heart...Enough to win even his demon's love.

God...You know...And I know...You owe WSW big time regarding that little incident in 1880...Whatever Spike's crimes...

But...If you let me help her...Not just with the First and the usual Apocalyptic nonsense...But every day...In every way I can...

I'm willing to call it square between us...Even with the continuing occasional bloodlust, the daylight problem, the likely infertility, and the little matter of how to deal with my Immortal state when she's getting on...And not even mentioning the guilt and remorse...

Now I call that a damned fine deal...How's about it...?

"I think Dawn is getting ok...With it..." she paused...

With us...she eyed him...

"And you...?" he looked at her...



Kinda...she looked away...

"Good...That's good..." he smiled at her...

Thanks...he nodded...

"I love you too..." she nodded...

Phew...she gasped...As he stared...

"Beginning to think I'd never manage it..."

He blinked at her...

"You ok?..." she grinned...

Ummn...Yeah...he nodded...

"So...?" she eyed him...

"And if you do a 'me, too...' I swear I'll put you through that tombstone..."

He pulled out a sheet of paper...Her turn to be shocked.

Het hem...he cleared his throat...

"Buffy Anne...

I love you more than I could ever hope to explain..."

She blinked...

But...he continued...

"My heart expands...Tis grown a bulge in it...

Inspired by...Your beauty effulgent."

William Soames Walthrop, 1880...he sheepishly grinned...With a bit of editing...

She burst into tears...William...

He stared...Buffy...I ...

"That was so beautiful..." she sobbed...hugging him...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part V...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...



Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part V...

"Well..." Ms. Cree eyed Dawn as they waited in her car outside Xander's building...

"It's getting late...Your friend must be staying with his girlfriend...We should..." Dawn interrupted...

There he is..she pointed.

"Wait here..." she got out with her bag and hurried to an interception point...In the shadows of one of the doorways...

"Xander..!" she called, waving...

Dawny?...he stared, hastening over to her...

"What's wrong...I heard you were sick...?"

And why are you dressing basic black tonight...?

"I have to talk to you, Xander...Please, can we go inside?...I don't think it's safe out here..."

"Sure..." he eyed her... "But where's Buf?...And what's the problem?"

After we're inside...Please...she pleaded...

He led her in...Ms. Cree watching carefully from her car...

Ten minutes later they emerged...Dawn coolly nodding to her as they approached...They both got in quietly.

"We should hurry..." Xander noted in a flat voice... "William may return here soon from Patrol and it will be too late to take Willow or Kennedy without attracting too much attention."

Go...Dawn turned to the teacher who started out...

"Master thinks you and I would make an attractive couple..." Ms. Cree quietly noted to Xander.

Yes...he nodded...

"When all's done I will be his reward to you for your service."

"Master is very kind to us..." Dawn noted...A tad jealous...

The Foot wriggled, sending her a comforting message...He hadn't realized...But if she really wanted...

"I suppose I'll have my pick..." Ms. Cree sighed...Damn, she thought, eyeing Xander in the rearview mirror.

"Thanks, Dawny..." Xander nodded... "Flattered..."

Only one of many, Xander...the First Servant smugly noted...

***

"Well...Guess this is one Patrol we're going to remember..." Buffy grinned at William as they neared Xander's building...About twenty minutes after Ms. Cree and the others had pulled out.



"Yeah..." he smiled... "No doubt about it..."

She squeezed his hand in hers...

They reached the door...She rocked a bit on her heels as he fumbled for the spare key...

Ummn...How to go about this...?

"You gonna ask me up for coffee or no?..." she looked at him as he pulled the key out.

There's a Starbucks across the street...he pointed...Much better than Harris' vile glop...

Gr...eat...Buffy grumbled...

Very Victorian gent...

Ok...I put him through Hell last year...Now it seems he's gonna make me work for this...she thought grimly...

Well, the Slayer is up to the challenge.

"We could bring it up, I mean..." he smiled.

***

The car began rattling violently...Flat tire, Xander noted...Ms. Cree pulling them to the side...Damn...Dawn frowned.

"Spare in back...?" Xander asked...

No...Ms. Cree sighed...I blew it two months ago when my right front went...Never had a chance to replace it.

Three miles walk back to Xander's car...Much too late...Little chance of catching a taxi, take at least an hour to get one at this time of night...

All three servants feeling deep shame...Failure...

Yet The Foot was not too displeased...Rome wasn't built in a day...It urged them to consider the day's triumphs and think the matter through...Tomorrow was another day...

After 424 years, The Foot had learned the virtue of patience...

Dawn, however, came up with a fine idea...Befitting her status as First Servant...

"Xander, we're not too far from the Rosenberg's...Just two miles...We can make it...Might look less suspicious anyway than pulling up in this car. "

Call your auto service...Stay by your car...Drive by the Rosenbergs when you can...Dawn curtly commanded Ms. Cree who nodded, in deeply apologetic mode.

***

They were hurrying along the edge of downtown Sunnydale...But The Foot, while pleased at the enthusiasm of its servants, felt it unlikely they'd arrive in time...So late already...

Not in this time, Master...Dawn noted internally, pausing to catch an exhausted breath...Xander, rushing ahead, stopped, hearing the Foot's call...

People often stay up well past sundown now...We have artificial lighting and all...



"Master's afraid you'll hurt yourself, Dawn..." Xander noted.

"Master's so kind..." Dawn nodded.

"Besides...There's a good number of people in the streets just ahead...We won't be able to keep running like this without attracting attention..." he continued...Expressing The Foot's thoughts...

"I still think we should try..." Dawn looked at Xander, then her bag...

Yes...Xander nodded...I could even stay and wait til morning...But right now...

Master would like a little...Relaxation...

"It's been so long..." he noted woodenly...

The Foot wriggled intensely...Sending out its commands...

Yes...Dawn nodded...Master is right...

"There's more to life than just world conquest..."

They pulled back to a quiet alleyway...Confirmed no one was around...

Xander held The Foot near his right ear...Its big toe delicately wriggling into his ear...

Oh...Mistress...he moaned...Dawn watching in worshipful appreciation...

Wait...she thought, blinking...

"Mistress?...I thought The Foot was male?..." she asked Xander, now trembling with ecstasy as The Foot's big toe gently stroked round his ear.

Oh...he moaned again...

"The Foot can be any sex it chooses until The Body is rejoined, Dawn..." Xander explained.

Mistress for me, Master for you...

Besides...It was bi in life...

"Oh..." she nodded...

A telepathic message from The Foot made her tremble in anticipation...

She was next...

She edged near Xander...He reluctantly handed The Foot over and she gently stroked it.

"Master..."she cooed...And held it up to her left ear...Balancing it on her shoulder...

Oh.....

"Hey, guys...!" a hearty booming voice...A tall figure approached at a brisk clip...Waving...

Clem...Dawn hissed...Dropping back to some shadows...Xander turned to face their friendly neighborhood demon...Moving forward to block him...



She hastily, if unhappily, moved The Foot from her shoulder...Damn dog-faced sob...A pleasure to kill him right now.

But The Foot was calming in its telepathic call...And quite right...Clem being a demon and not susceptible to its influence, it must be hidden...Damn where's my bag?...Shit...No time to find the bag and open it.

But where?...Dawn wondered silently, mentally calling to her Master for guidance...

"Clem..." Xander woodenly smiled at the demon...Offering a hand...

"How's it going, old pal...?" he asked...Woodenly...

Ah...Down my sweater...Yes, yes...Dawn beamed...

No...The Foot would stick out like...

Well, just set Master down here and get rid of loose skin boy...she thought, encouraged by the Foot.

"Hi...Clem..." she stepped out...

"Dawny...? Out late, aren't you?..." her former babysitter eyed her carefully...

Does Slayer know?...he looked her over...Hmmn...

She eyed Xander...Taking his hand...

"Clem...Xander and I have become lovers...We're seeking a safe place to have sex..." she said in a rather flat voice.

"Please...You mustn't tell Buffy...She would be...Furious..."

And we love each other...Oh, so much...she finished, still in a flat voice...Stroking Xander's arm.

"Yes...Please cover for us, old pal..." Xander nodded, likewise in flat tones...

Ummn...Clem eyed them...

"You and Dawny...?" he stared at Xander...A faint look of...Anger?...

"We love each other..." Dawn put an arm around Xander...Giving a wooden smile...

"Please, Clem..." she put her other arm out to him and patted his arm.

"Ummn...Sure..." Clem nodded...Staring carefully at the "lovers"...

"Well..." he gave a happy grin... "Gotta get going...Have a nice time, guys..." he backed away...

Bye...Dawn nodded...

He started off, still walking backwards for about ten feet, then started to turn...And turned back to them...

"Take good care of Miss Dawn, Xander!..." he called in a rather stern voice...But waving...

"Absolutely..." Xander waved woodenly back.

Kiss me...Until he goes...Dawn hissed...He embraced her...Clem continued heading off, not looking back...

"I think he knows..." Xander pulled back and stared at Dawn...Who continued to keep her head against his chest.



"Doesn't matter..." she hissed... "We'll just have to take a little more of a risk tonight."

"We'll have Master at Willow's before he can tell anyone...You can hide somewhere there with it, then make some noise until Willow or someone else comes to let you into the house safely...It will take a while for that fool to convince anyone."

Once Master has Willow...No one can stop Him...

Her...Xander corrected...

She returned to The Foot and lifted it gently...Alas, no time for pleasure...Must push on to Willow's...

***

Good night...Dearest...William gave Buffy a gentle kiss at the door...She having insisted on walking home alone...Lots to think about...

"Good night...William...See ya tomorrow...Say hi to Xander..." she began...

So lame...she sighed to herself...After tonight...

Even if my Victorian boyfriend didn't feel we should hop into bed on the first real date...

She stared at him...Grabbed him close for a hug, startling him.

"I meant what I said, Will..." she breathed in his ear...

He pulled back, a joyous, boyish grin on his face...

Yes...she thought...That's what I want...To see that joy in his face again and again...No more of the darkness and rage and sorrow and pain.

"I know...Dearest...I know..." he patted her hand and kissed her again.

She nodded...Beaming...And turned away...Pausing to wave back as she reached the corner...Feeling him watching her every step of the way.

"Good night...Dar...Darling...!" she called, waving...

Yeah...she thought as she turned...For First (real) Date...This'll do...

***

Having managed his escape from what he fully grasped was possible death at the hands of his possessed friends, Clem pondered his next move...Poor Dawny and Xander...Obviously in the grip of a fearful Dark One...The Slayer must be told at once...But...

It seemed very likely humans were susceptible...Perhaps even Slayers...

What to do...?

Of course!...He looked round for the nearest payphone...Ah, a drugstore...

Waiting for the girl on the single phone to finish, he drummed his fingers...The store owner, an elderly gent, eyeing him harshly...He beamed at him...Hi, he waved.

I should get one of those cell phones he thought.

"So Ricky said..." the girl went on...



The owner glaring at him from behind the pharmacy counter...

"I'll take this..." Clem pulled a Diet Coke out of the cooler by the counter and removed his wallet.

The owner made change and continued to glare as the demon awaited the phone...

Hmmn...Taking a very long time, Miss...he eyed the girl.

"So...Pam said..." she continued...

He politely tapped her arm, she glared and brushed at him...

He popped fiery red eyes out at her and bared fangs...She screamed and ran...

The owner nodded benignly to him from behind his counter...Been trying to glare her off that damned phone for an hour...

He punched the number...

"William?...This is Clem..." he began...

Clem?...William eyed his phone...

"What's up, ole fellow...?"

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part VI...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part VI...

Nothing but delays and problems...Dawn sighed as she and Xander stood outside the Rosenberg home...

All dark, including Willow's bedroom and the one next to it, most likely to be Kennedy's.

Still, they'd expected it...And Xander was ready to start on Plan B...The biggest problem right now was either getting her home and back in her sick bed before Buffy returned or having Janice slip out to provide a corroboration for her "bored, slipped-out with Jan" story.

Naturally no sign of the cab Xander had called twenty minutes ago from his cell phone...Well, if she had to risk a fatal coronary sprinting all the way...The devoted First Servant would show even the Slayer what real speed was.

The Foot, in her bag, now on Xander's shoulder, was reassuring...All was actually going quite well, considering the odds...

You are too kind, Master...Dawn noted internally...But saw some good news in the form of Ms. Cree's car pulling up...

"Drive me home when I give the word...Quickly as possible without attracting attention...But be ready to drop me if I have to go meet Janice...Give me your cell phone..." she hastily ordered...Ms. Cree handing her the phone...She turned back to the waiting Xander.

"Do what you can, Xander...Try to get someone to come out...Take them and get into the house...But don't attract too much attention..."

Whatever you do, don't screw it up...And die before Master comes to harm.

"Yes, die..." Ms. Cree looked over at him...

Xander nodded...Of course...

"Evelyn will return to help you as soon as she can..." Dawn noted.

Go...she turned to Evelyn...Who pulled out in haste...

"Janice...?" Dawn hissed into the cell phone...

Dawn?...What do you want me to do?...Janice replied...

"Get out of your house as soon as you can...Head for my house but don't let Buffy see you...Wait for my call until you hear from me..." she hung up.

"Can you go faster?..." she looked at Ms. Cree who shook her head...Not without attracting attention or having an accident.

Very well...Dawn frowned, watching the streets for Buffy...

***

Will frowned at the phone...Ridiculous was hardly the word...Clem must be watching too many late night horror movies again...

Still, no answer at the Summers...If Dawn had been with Xander...And that part of it were true...

Harris?...Please...The possession story was far more believable...

And not outside the bounds of possibility with the First on the loose, he realized.

Naturally Buffy had left her damned cell phone in the car...Or so she'd thought when she hadn't been able to find it earlier to call Dawn from Patrol...She must be well on her way home.

Well, nothing wrong with a little look-see...Out of concern for my beloved's nearest and dearest...And a chance to say good night one more time...On this night of all nights...

When I became one of those nearest and dearest...he beamed at the thought...

But, duty calls, Walthrop...he noted.

Just hope I've finally gotten all the Manchurian Candidate mumbo-jumbo out of my brain at last.

Besides...If I hurry I might even get to take her part way home...

He set out for the Summers...The fast way...Via Spikemobile...Well, formerly Spike-mobile...

Eh, maybe he'd keep the old name for his other beloved girl...Williammobile just didn't have that "pizzaz"...

Buffymobile was rather neat though, he thought.



And she loved riding in it...

Someday he might...Possibly...Even teach her how to drive it.

After all, as he'd noted a few days earlier when she'd asked...Very coyly...He'd gotten his soul back, the First had emerged from Hell, she'd resurrected...

Hell freezing over didn't seem quite so impossible these days...

***

Well, Buffy sighed...I did it...

Die is cast...

And considering my past luck in romance...

But somehow...I think William Soames Walthrop is different.

A keeper...

Still...God, so many rocks yet in this relationship...Even if Spike is gone for good.

But...If even his demon could fall in love with me...Try to do good for my sake...

"He's got to be a wonderful man...A good and true man...Mom saw it in him..." she whispered to the trees as she walked by a small park.

And his poor soul has been so lost...If what he's told me is true...If William was aware, trapped in Spike, helpless...Oh...

"Guess my job does have meaning if I end that kind of suffering..." she noted to the stars.

But...He's Immortal, if rather fragile in some ways...What's he gonna do when I grow old?...

What any spouses do when one starts to falter...We'll deal...

And my soul's as Immortal as his...We won't be separated long...If we don't want to be...

And I don't think the suicide ban applies when it's a human-souled vampire staking himself to join his lover...Though, after all the misery God's let be dumped on us...If He tries to keep Will out of heaven later...I'll go to Hell...

They'd take me in a hot second, I'm sure...

***

Dawn and Ms. Cree sped by the Summers' home...No lights...Phew...

"Drop me at the corner...Go back to the Rosenbergs..." Dawn commanded.

She hurried down towards the house as Ms. Cree roared off...A car pulled up...She dodged behind the neighbor's fence...Damn...

Spike...What the hell was he here for?...

Well, find out soon enough...She carefully slipped down the fence and climbing it, raced across the small stretch of yard...William still looking over the house from the street...



She slipped in through the back kitchen door and made her way carefully through the house...The door bell rang...She hurried up the stairs and dashed into her room...Quickly throwing on her night gown, the sweater and pants still underneath, she scurried into bed...Bell rang again, longer...She kicked off the pants, pushing them down the sheet and pulled off the sweater, readjusting her nightgown...Bell rang yet again...Held for a good minute this time...She turned on the room light, pasting a "poor sick Dawn" look...

Not too difficult considering her sprints tonight...She'd only managed to refrain from heaving again for the sake of Duty while with the others...Now it could only lend credence to her performance...

She got out of bed and wobbled downstairs...Her control over her body quite enhanced by The Foot's hold on her, she was able to induce a mild fever rather easily...

"Hey..." she blinked at William standing at the door.

"What's up, Will...?" she pasted a new look, concern on her flushed face...

Buffy ok?...

***

Ms. Cree arrived to find a rather disturbing scene at the Rosenbergs...A police car outside the house, Xander quietly explaining he'd meant no harm breaking his friend's parents' bedroom window with a rock...Willow and Kennedy trying to keep the Rosenbergs' wrath at bay...

The teacher pulled over down the street and slipped into the small crowd of the curious...Eyeing Xander carefully...What had gone wrong?...And far more important...Was Master safe?...

She saw with relief that he still had Dawn's bag on his shoulder.

"Really officer, my friend was just trying to reach me...He thought it was my room..." Willow tried a coy smile at the cops.

He and I...Well...Willow grinned shyly...

Sorry, dad...she turned to her father...Who glared at Xander...

Sheila Rosenberg perked up at that...What?...

She eyed Xander...Hmmn...Well, if that's the case...

Especially considering her concerns regarding this strange new friend of her daughter...She eyed Kennedy...

"Yes..." Xander nodded... "I had to see Willow...Tonight..."

Willow stared a little at the flatness in Xander's voice...

The Foot sensed some danger...And the likely loss of his magics person...Vital to the recovery of The Body...Yet without her being exposed to it, it could not take her...Hmmn, time for a diversion...It wriggled in the bag...Suggesting Xander find some sure way to either get Willow alone or leave her presence.

Not likely to get her alone for some little time, Xander realized...He caught sight of Ms. Cree in the crowd...Hmmn...A chance for a reasonably quick getaway...Just have to get Willow off balance so she doesn't try to probe deeper.

"I had to see Willow...Stop her from making this terrible mistake..." he noted solemnly.

Xander?...Willow eyed him...

"Mrs. Rosenberg...Willow and Kennedy are planning to become lovers...Tonight..." he turned to Sheila...



Bout time...Kennedy thought, smiling a moment...But what the hell is he...?

"She confided in me..." Xander shook his head... "All day I've thought about it...I felt I had to do something..."

Xander...? Willow stared...Fuming a bit...

I'm sorry I was so foolish about it...But Wil is my best friend...I love her...I had to try and stop her.

"Wil..." he turned back to her... "I accepted things with Tara...But...I knew I should've spoken up even then..."

Tara?...Ms. Rosenberg stared...

"Xander, you bigoted little..." Willow fumed...

I'm sorry, Wil...he eyed her...But that's how I feel...How I've felt...

She turned on her heel and stalked for the house...Kennedy following, after giving the solemn-looking Xander a stare.

"I'm sorry about the window..." Xander nodded to Ms. Rosenberg... "I'll replace it myself tomorrow."

"Well...We'll leave it up to you..." one of the cops eyed Mr. Rosenberg, who deferred to his wife...

Hmmn...Come back tomorrow, eh...Loves my Willow enough to do this, eh...

"I think it'll be ok..." Sheila nodded...And turned to hurry back to the house...

At the Rosenbergs' door, Kennedy took Willow's hand...

"Something's wrong with him..." she hissed...

You bet...Willow was grim...Damn him...

"I mean..."

Oh...

"You think?..."

"I'll go after him...See if I can find out what's going on...Just give Buffy a ring when you can."

Willow!...Sheila called as she approached...

"I dunno..." Willow hissed...Eyeing her grim-faced mother...

"I'll be careful...Just tell your mom, I decided to go stay with Buffy..."

I probably better do that in any case...she whispered, grinning to her friend...As Sheila came up to them...

Ms. Cree quietly slipped out of the receding crowd...Xander heading down the street...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part VII...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...



Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's hea in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part VII...

"More cocoa?..." Dawn stood up...Looking at her guest...Who waved a hand...

I should go...William eyed her...Didn't mean to get you up, Nibs...

"No...Stay...Buffy'll be here soon..Besides, I couldn't sleep anyway the way I felt..." Dawn shook her head...And grinned...

And I was dying to hear all about tonight anyway...she beamed...A buzzer sounded from her robe...

Dawn opened her buzzing phone with an apologetic look at Will.

"Yes...? Hi, Jan..."

Sorry...I can't come out tonight Janice...And you should get home before your parents catch you...she spoke into the phone.

Yes...she answered a question...See you at school...And hung up...

"Can you believe it?..." she smiled wryly at William...

"Janice wanted me to come out tonight...After all the trouble she's been in with her parents...Sometimes I think that kid has no brains..."

***

Kennedy slipped carefully down the street...Fortunately, Mrs. Rosenberg had been in such a state as not to notice she'd taken nothing with her on leaving...

Xander was walking slowly along...Almost as if he were looking for something, someone...Oh...

He paused by a car in which a woman sat...A woman unknown to Kennedy...And climbed in...

Well, wasn't like she was up on all the friends and relations...Still...Odd that the lady hadn't come to the house, said hi to Willow...Apparently she'd just waited for him.

If it had been that Anya she might have accepted it at face value but with anyone else...Odd...

The car pulled away...She tried to note the license plate...

Hmmn...Now what...

Guess best to head for the Summers...And keep a watch out for eyeless priests...

Though the First had seemed to be scrapping the bottom of her barrel with the few befuddled fellows they'd been encountering recently.

Kinda disappointing in a way...I mean...This was The First, supposedly...And she seemed to be something of a windy gas bag of a menace, at least recently...



Still, she reminded herself...Dozens of SITs dead...The Council in ruins...

No sense in underestimating the enemy...She watched the street carefully as she proceeded.

***

"Pull over and let me drive..." Xander told Ms. Cree.

We'll have to revert to the original plan for now...And will need some things from my construction site...

She was quietly joyful as they traded seats...The Foot in her hands at last, she beamed...Stroking the bag...

***

Buffy blinked at William in the living room as she entered...Dawn smiling...

"Had a late night visit from the old babysitter..." she grinned.

He's been nursing me through my flu...

Buffy frowning, felt her sister's forehead...Mildly hot...

"You oughta be in bed, Dawn..."

Tried...Couldn't sleep...she shook her head.

"I should be going..." Will eyed them...

Just came to check on the Nibs...

"Could I speak to you a mo, before I go, Buffy...?" he gave her a careful look...

Oooh...Dawn grinned...Lovers' secrets...

"Well, sis will tell all when she gets back..." she smiled at them as they stepped out...Her look turning cold as the door closed behind them...

***

"This should do it..." Xander nodded to Ms. Cree...Heaving a last load of equipment up onto the bed of a truck.

This should allow us to uncover the Seal again tonight without too much trouble...Though we may have to do a little play-acting if the noise attracts anyone.

"And as long as Master is with us...We may as well secure a little police protection...Someone to wave snoopers away..."

"I saw a motorcycle cop parked down behind the billboard just before the ramp to Highway 5..." Evelyn noted.

That should do fine...Xander nodded...Go back there...If he or she is alone...Introduce Master...he handed her Dawn's bag...

"I'll get this stuff to the high school...And we can try and check in with Dawn then..."

Janice said Dawn had reached home without problems when she called her...Though someone was there...Evelyn looked at him...

"Dawn will get in touch with us when she can...School tomorrow if necessary..."



For now...Our tasks are to uncover the Seal and find a suitable subject.

Though...he paused...I have someone in mind...

"Someone no one will miss...Much...At least for a while..."

My ex...A former vengeance demon...With no family but the Slayer's little group...

Excellent...Evelyn beamed...Eyeing him...

Always possible our First Servant would be inclined to share...And she did say she'd be getting lots of Gifts like this one from Master...

***

Buffy gave Will a Well?...glare as they stood on the Summers' front steps...

He gave a glance toward the side of the house...Several times...

What?...she frowned...

"Just come along, Slayer..." he sighed...And led her to the side of the house where Dawn was not likely to hear or see them.

Behind the door, Dawn stood, a bit frustrated...And concerned.

Why the hell had Spike come?...He clearly had had some concern on his feeble mind...

She considered simply going out after them...No, just a little too...Hmmn, she peered out the living room window...No sign of them...She edged to the door...Nothing she could hear...She pulled a chair over and looked out the high door windows...Ready to take on the part of snoopy sister Dawn, consumed with rather natural curiosity...Nope, they weren't on the steps...Damn...

Pity she'd couldn't have had Janice stay around and snoop...Though William or Buffy might have sensed her presence...It would have just been Dawny's goofy, snooping friend looking for good gossip.

Well, she'd get it out of Buffy...

Or, eventually...Master would...

Well, long as sis and dead boy are having their little tryst in secret, the First Servant might as well check in with the rest...she pulled out her cell phone and dialed Xander...Who that reported the failure at Willow's had been partially compensated for by the beginning of operations at the Seal.

"Buffy's back...But William came just before her...He seemed a little odder than usual..."

"Do you think he suspects you?..." Xander asked.

Hard to tell...Clem could have contacted him, I suppose...she noted...And what about Willow?...

"She seemed to buy my reason for being there...I exposed her and Kennedy to her mother...She was distracted at least for a while..."

Hmmn...Still a serious second failure...she noted...

"Well, we should have the Seal uncovered fairly quickly with all our equipment..." Xander replied...

Evelyn came down to him...Our traffic cop is in position, she reported...He'll divert any cars and pedestrians coming by.



Good...he nodded, passing on the info to the First Servant...Who reminded her assistants of the need for speed...Especially if the Slayer's boyfriend and their crucial magics person suspected something wrong...

"We'll get moving immediately..." Xander noted...

But as to a magics person...Have you considered other options?...

"Anya?..." Dawn asked...

"No...She's lost most of her ability...I was thinking of Amy...If we can get to her..."

Amy...? Hmmn...

"She's living back at her home...All alone...So far as we know...And she's less able to draw power than Willow if we fail to surprise her..." Xander pointed out...

Master feels she ought to be powerful enough for our task.

"I'm going out to get Anya later...I could try her at the same time..." he suggested...

Anya?...Oh...The blood sacrifice...Good...

"Master must be pleased with your diligence, Xander..." she offered a bone.

"Let me know when you uncover the Seal...I'll keep an eye on Buffy and William..."she hung up.

Let me show you how to work that...Xander went over to a rather frustrated Ms. Cree who'd been trying to figure out a jackhammer's operation...

Still...he noted to her...Dawn made an excellent choice in you...You're quite strong enough to handle this machinery with a little training...

***

"Clem said this...?" Buffy eyed Will...Who waved his hands...

Dawn...Out with Xander?...Acting...Possessed...?...Saying they were...

Lovers?

"I'm only telling you what he told me..."

"Did she seem strange to you?..."

"No demon inside her, if that's what you mean..." he shook his head...

"Well...? Isn't that what possession usually implies?..." she noted...

"Of course..." she pondered... "It could have been the First...Taking Dawn's form using some new magics...Maybe a minion in Xander's or vice-versa...Or somebody else It sent..."

Or Clem may just be watching too many horror movies...she finished...

"I think...You should keep an eye on her...Don't let her get out of your sight until school when she's around others..."

Ok...she nodded...And you do likewise with your roomie.



"She seemed ok..." Buffy nervously eyed him.

"Just being cautious, Slayer...Normal thing in the presence of the First..." he noted.

Ok...she sighed...And looked at him...Thanks, Will...she kissed him gently...He blinked, startled...

So...she smiled wanly...You didn't come back just to see me again...

"No...Not just to see you again...But...Mainly..." he grinned...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part VIII...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part VIII...

Nice work...Xander noted to Evelyn as she cracked through the cement layer over the Seal...

"At this rate, we should be ready for the sacrifice in a couple of hours...All it needed was the right equipment."

She beamed...Feeling The Foot's pleasure with them...

Pity there was no time for relaxation just now...

"I think we can go seek Anya and Amy now..." he noted.

At two am...? Evelyn looked at him...

They should both be alone and sleeping, he noted...Any later and we might run into morning deliveries, that sort of thing...And William might go over to her place when he finds me still out.

"And some extra help here couldn't hurt..."

Yes...? he paused suddenly...Evelyn returned to her work...Momentarily noting the wriggling bag...Master dispensing instructions, no doubt...

Oh...Sure...he pulled out his wallet, a picture of Anya within...

"Yes...she is as beautiful as I pictured her to you...A former vengeance demon..."

She might still have some access to power...But she's human now.

"As you wish, Mistress..." he turned to Evelyn...

Change in plan...he noted...Anya's to join us...Master likes her looks...And her demon contacts may be of interest to him later.



But?...Evelyn stared...Looking at the Seal...

The Foot wriggled in Dawn's bag...

Oh...she nodded...The cop...

Not much family...Great...

***

Sorry, sis...Dawn wearily lifted her head up from the toilet...A worried Buffy anxiously hovering...

"Just can't seem to stop the heaves..."

But I think I got up everything...she stood up, wobbling...

"No school tomorrow, you know..." Buffy eyed her.

Lucky me...Dawn gave a wan grin...

Such a good sister I have...she thought...All it takes is a little phony nausea and fever and any doubts about me fly completely out of her little mind.

Of course, the school thing is a minor problem...But Master and my assistants can deal with her tomorrow...In fact, if all goes well...I think Buffy will be changing her mind about letting me come to school fairly soon after she goes in.

"I'll try to sleep a little now..." she smiled at her sis...And wobbled off to her room.

Pity she and Will will never have children...she thought...She'd've made a great mom...But even adoption will be out of the question for them now.

Still, perhaps Master will honor her...She is superhuman after all...And her children likely to make worthy descendants of his line...

***

Kennedy, now just a block from Buffy's, tensed as a car pulled up to her...

Oh...she blinked as William opened his door and stood up...

Well?...he stared at her...

"Anything up?"

She hesitated...Buffy's pet vampire...Souled, she claimed...But still...

But...If Willow said he was ok...And she did, within limits...

"I was coming over to Buffy's...There was a little trouble at the Rosenbergs'..." she described Xander's bizarre outburst...And his leaving with the woman.

Hmmn...What's Red up to while you're out here?

"Mainly keepin' her mom quiet...But she was gonna call Buffy and then see what I came up with..."

Brilliant plan...he frowned at her...And if the First were behind Xander's behavior...You'd might be dead or under the influence yourself right now.



"I did all right..." she glared at him...

Not bad...Were I of the persuasion she thought...I can see Buffy's interest...Soul or no soul.

"Get in...We'll go over to my place...See if Harris has returned...And if he's the First or some kind of zombie."

A definite improvement, either way...he grinned...

Ummn...Kennedy eyed him...

In there?...With you?...

"Unless you prefer riding on top of the car..." he stared at her.

C'mon girl, you must have a stake and cross or something...he smiled...Just keep them out and be ready to let me have it.

"Slayers have to take risks sometimes, you know..." he eyed her...

I read about William the Bloody...she eyed him...

"He was a preety bad character..." William nodded...

I'm glad he's back under the restraint of William Soames Walthrop...

Me...he explained to her blink.

"I was a man once, you know, girl...And at least Buffy thinks my soul was not too shabby."

I need your help, girl...he told her...

"The Slayer needs your help..."

And...he frowned solemnly...

"You might do well to remember that the new Chairman of the Watchers' Council, Rupert Giles is planning to appoint me a member of the new Council shortly...I will be a Watcher, perhaps even yours."

O...K...she nodded...And climbed in...he following...

"First mistake..." he glared at her...

"Vamp makes charming speech, you fall for it...Damn it, girl, where's your brains...? And your cross and stake...?"

Ummn...Kennedy pulled up her cross, stake by her side...

Too late, you'd be dead by now...he frowned...Then smiled at her sheepish face...

"Well...Confidentially...Buffy was doing moronic stuff like that all the time when she started out...It was only because some of us were the sporting type she survived her early days."

Some of them...Kennedy eyed him..Grinning back...

"Thank you..." he nodded...A boy's smile on his face...As they headed out...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part IX...



Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part IX...

"So you understand the situation now, right An...?" Xander asked the hastily dressed Anya as they stood at the doorway of her apartment...Bag on his shoulder, The Foot newly returned to it.

Yes...she nodded...I understand...We must act quickly...

She hesitated at the door however...

What...? he eyed her...

"Just thought...Maybe Master would like us to...Perform a few of our best moves...? For him?..." she suggested.

Maybe later...Xander nodded...And for me, it's Mistress...

Oh?..It's bi...? she asked...

Hmmn-hmm...he nodded...But I think The Body will be male in the end.

And it thinks highly of you...On several levels...

"Thanks..." she beamed...

"I already heard it from Master...But it's nice to hear it confirmed..." she smiled happily.

Of course...he nodded...

Guess we should be getting off to Amy's...she sighed.

***

William eyed Kennedy as they pulled up to Xander's building...She stifling a yawn...

"You ok...?"

A little pooped...she shrugged...

"I'll be ok..."

Best to get used to night hours, girl...he looked up to the window of his and Xander's place...Light he'd left on on leaving to see Buffy burning yet.

Hmmn...Not in bed at 2:30 am on a workday?...My roomie is learning bad habits from me...

"Not here?..." Kennedy looked up as well...



Don't think so...Let me run up and check.

"Less you'd feel safer in the contractor's and vampire's lair...?" he smiled at her.

If you got coffee...she let a yawn out...Yeah...

"Harris always has coffee...Though it's awful stuff, boiled practically down to tar...I think it's his secret love elixir."

Sounds great...she nodded...

***

Well?...Dawn hissed, pillow over her head as she lay in bed, speaking into her cell phone...

"Secured Anya..." Xander replied... "Heading to Amy's...One of us will call you back later."

Nah...Let me call you...she hissed...Buffy's sure to hear a ring and Janice might screw it if she calls her back to tell her to stop calling.

Right...Xander noted...

"Master wants to know if Buffy's shown any suspicion...?" he paused...

She's a fool...Dawn replied coldly...William probably had some doubts from that moron Clem but as soon as I did my little sick act she dropped any guard she had up.

Well...Xander paused...

"It's nice that she cares Dawn..." he noted.

Oh...she hesitated...Is my attitude unpleasing to Master?...I thought he liked us cold and evil...

"His mother was always attentive to him when he was ill as a boy...He's got fond memories..." Xander explained.

Oh...Sorry...

"I'll try to be a little more gracious towards her...Good luck with Amy..."

***

"We should do this carefully..." Anya noted as they pulled up in front of Amy's home.

She's a pretty powerful witch, even if she's not up to Willow's level...

"I doubt there's any "careful" way we can do this with Amy beyond keeping her asleep til she meets Master...If we wake her and she protects herself, she's not likely to buy any explanation we come up with..." Xander replied.

Witches...Demons...Ms. Cree thought...Vampires...Slayers...The things about your hometown you never learn...

But it's why Master is here...she thought contentedly.

"I think I can disable her alarm system...And any magics screen is probably aimed at demons and/or fellow witches..." Xander eyed the place... "Then we feel our way in carefully."

Or...Anya suggested...We could throw caution to the winds and just bang on the door, yelling "Fire!!!.." The next house is far enough away and she'd probably just run out to us...



"Not many folks think to stop and run spells at 2:30 am in the middle of a house fire."

Xander looked at Ms. Cree who looked back...Hmmn...

Thank you, Master...Anya nodded at the wriggling bag...

***

"You're sure she's ok?..." Willow anxiously spoke into her cell phone...

"She's been heaving like crazy...Some fever...But possessed?...I haven't seen it..." Buffy replied.

And Xander hasn't been hanging round the house, singing her a serenade...

"Well...He was acting pretty weird here...He wasn't at Anya's when I called her...And Kennedy and Will still haven't seen him..." Willow hesitated.

"The First could have a Xander clone out there...Maybe a Dawn too...Or a shapeshifter not limited to imitating the dead..." she suggested...

Or Clem could be watching too many horror movies at night...she admitted.

"I think I'll do a locator spell on him...Hold it..." she paused...Taking an incoming call...

Yeah...An?...

"Really...? Great...Can I speak to him...? Thanks..."

Xander?...

"Hi, Wil...An says you were looking for me?...That I was at your house tonight?...Acting weird?..."

"It wasn't you, then?..." Willow asked...

"Not me...I had to go check out a break-in at my site...Some stuff was taken tonight...Nothing important, just some quick grab theft."

"So...It must have been one of the First's...Or somebody of similar persuasion..."

"Sounds like it...You talk to Buffy yet?..."

"Yeah...Got her on hold, actually...There was some strange stuff going on with Clem...He saw you...And Dawn...Together..."

"Bizarre...Guess we'd better meet tomorrow about it..." Xander noted...Eyeing Anya...

"I'll tell Buffy...The Box, about 6?..."

Sounds fine...Be careful, Wil...Don't let any mes catch you off your guard.

"You and Anya too...Good night..." she punched Buffy back on...

That should hold Willow for now...Good idea, Evelyn...Xander nodded to the teacher...Anya glaring slightly as they continued on up to Amy's door...

"Got Xander..." Willow sighed to Buffy with relief... "He's at Anya's now...Went back after a break-in at his site...He says it wasn't him tonight...At either place..."



"I didn't think so..." Buffy nodded at her phone.

Said we'd meet tomorrow at 6pm...That ok?...

"Well...Guess so..." she hesitated... "For a little while, anyway...See..."

"Will and I are doing a shift together at Doublemeat at 7...His first...If Dawn's better and I don't have to call in..."

"Oh...?" Willow's voice was non-committal...Desperately so...

Together, that is...Buffy thought...If Dawn's better...And I can get somebody to give me their shift...

"But we could do a quick meeting first, for sure...And follow-up after 10, at the Palace if we need to...It's usually quiet by then..."

Yeah...Willow's voice was hesitant...Great...See ya tomorrow...Call me if Kennedy comes in with anything new...She hung up.

They're working together now...?

I mean, in the normal everyday sense...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part X...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part X...

"Well, I guess there's no point in waiting round here..." William eyed Kennedy, now in Xander's kitchen, sipping the vile glop Harris liked to refer to as "coffee"... "Harris'll be staying with Anya after all, it seems."



Willow's call having suggested there was no immediate cause for panic...Just some little bizarre scheme of the First's, her minion, or some other enemy, possibly involving Dawn and Xander lookalikes...Calling for yellow alert, perhaps, and strict attention to any unusual goings-on, but not requiring an immediate mobilization at this hour.

"Unless you prefer to sack out here tonight, we'd best get you to Buffy's so she can get some sleep as well."

Here...? Kennedy stared...

Intriguing...she thought...

And it would catch Willow's attention...Maybe persuade her to move things along...Imitation(?) Xander's "lovers tonight" statement having been rather premature...

"Of course, it might be good to have you check on things at Buffy's...Just confirming Nibs and the Slayer are ok..." William suggested.

She caught a faint note of pleading?...in his voice.

"Buffy tends to be a little blind concerning any flaws with Dawn's behavior..." he smiled.

He's so concerned...Gee, Buffy's so lucky...the bizarre thought passed through her mind...

Well..She was interested in a witch who'd just nearly destroyed the world...Who on her non-insane days was the sweetest thing imaginable...

"Sure..." she nodded.

***

Willow finished setting up her implements...Things might not be as critical as she'd thought after Xander...or whatever he'd been...Left her yard...But it couldn't hurt to try and confirm that some new dark force had emerged...And if it were linked to the First, it was sure to leave a strong new footprint on her demon map...

Whoa...Bingo...She eyed the strong dark spot...Hard to pinpoint exactly...Currently centered somewhere around Fuller St...Hmmn...Strange...Lines of dark energy running from it...Like a spider's web, she noted...To different spots in Sunnydale...Up by the high school...She gulped...Over by Xander's...

To Buffy's...Double-gulp.

***

There had been a slight set-back at Amy's which had led The Foot at Xander's suggestion to send Ms. Cree back to his place to keep a watch on William in case he should head out again.

Amy seemed not at home...Which they'd confirmed after employing Anya's "Fire!"call strategy...By carefully breaking in...



However a car was parked outside...Either she was on a date, out with friends, or nearby...Possibly some late-night spell casting, Anya noted..

Since her closets seemed full...And there were no obvious signs of travel...She was likely to return sooner or later tonight...And as long as someone checked on William...And the Seal was within a couple of hours of uncovering...It was probably worth them waiting in the house to take her by surprise...Certainly safer than to risk trying Willow again.

And all The Foot would need was to catch Amy with her magics down for a few seconds...

Best of all, as Xander noted to Anya as they took concealed positions in a dark corner of the house...There'd be time for Master to enjoy a little more...Relaxation...

Yes...Oh...Yes...Anya moaned in reply as The Foot, having selected her to be its current bearer...Relaxed with more ear play...

***

"Yes...?" Dawn quietly but eagerly answered her phone...Pulling the pillow back over her head...

Oh...Hi, Jan...

"You shouldn't call me now...It's very late and I'm waiting for word."

Just wanted to check in...Janice replied, in a slightly miffed tone...Geesch, aren't I part of the team?...she thought.

If Dawny isn't gonna keep me in the loop, why bother to take me at all...?

"I'll let you know as soon as you're needed Jan..." Dawn told her firmly...

"She also serves who only stays at home and awaits orders, you know."

Yeah...Janice sighed...

"Everything ok with the parental units...?"

"Yeah..." Jan's voice brightened a bit... "I was in without a sound...They didn't have a clue."

Nice job...The First Servant threw a bone...

"Thanks..."

"Well, get some sleep...You know you'll be needed at school tomorrow...Big things doin'."

Ok...A definitely happier voice...Night.

"Night, Jan..."

Keepin' the troops happy...All part of being the First Servant, Dawn reflected.



***

What a rush...Amy stretched as she stood on her front steps, fumbling for the keys...

A horn honked...She turned to wave at the guys...Bye...

Neat bunch of demons those...And she their new lady...

With their skills...And lil' practice...She'd soon be up for taking on good ole Willow...And her bastard bunch of friends...

The people who'd turned on her...Abandoned her...Just when she needed them...Bunch of miserable losers...

Especially Willow...Damn her...Could've brought her back any time...Just enjoyed playing with Amy the rat too much...

Well...she'd get her own back soon enough.

And Buffy...That murderess...Killed my mom...

Well, maybe Mom did deserve it...she noted to herself woozily.

But now...Here I am...All alone...

Poor lil' ole Amy...she teared up a bit...

Even Dad gone...Had her declared dead, took all available cash...And poof...

Well...she found the right key at last...She'd show them...All of them...

Just a lil' more practice and sweet lil' Amy'd show them...She stumbled in...

"Hi, honey, I'm home!..." she boomed...Straightening up.

In their corner, Anya looked at Xander...The Foot expressing similar concern to both...

Xander shrugged...Didn't see anyone before...

"Amy's home!...Mom..." she called...

"Dad...?" she sighed...

Good ole Amy is home...Alone...she called forlornly.

Poor kid...Anya whispered...She's really falling apart...

"Master will help her..." Xander whispered back reassuringly.

***

Buffy was waiting by the door as William pulled up with Kennedy...



"Back again...Sorry, Slayer..." he smiled at her as she opened the door...Looking rather pooped...Natural enough at nearly 3am, even for the Slayer...he reminded himself.

"Hi, Kennedy...Come on in..." she waved the SIT in...But her eyes were on William...

Will?...she held the door...He shook his head.

Kennedy watching with as noncommittal an expression as she could manage...A slight grin...

"Best I made a quick sweep of good ole Sunnydale...Checked by Willow's...And you lot need your sleep...Now..." he wagged a finger.

"You should get to bed too..." she chided him...

Work tomorrow, you know...Mr. Assistant Manager...she grinned...He beamed a boy's smile back...Yeah...

With me...If all goes well...she thought...My lil' surprise for William Soames...My feller...

Call it...A "Welcome, home...To Humanity..." gift.

"He'll be up all day tomorrow with Giles' stuff, I know..." she smiled at Kennedy...Who nodded politely, struggling to maintain her unfazed look.

Buffy, for all her exhaustion, clearly very reluctant to let him go...

Jesus...Did Willow know they were this bad...? the SIT thought...

Well...Mr. Giles is appointing him a Watcher...And Wil and I can dance together at the wedding...she smiled at them.

"Call me..." Buffy eyed him as he started off...

"Tomorrow..." he turned back, frowning at her... "Councilor Summers...Unless something comes up..." Eyeing her sternly...Then resuming his boy's beam as he waved.

"He's a good man..." Kennedy smiled at her as they turned back at the door.

"Thank you..." Buffy nodded, smiling back...And looking once more over her shoulder to watch him as he walked back to his car.

"Night, Will!..." she called...A last wave...

***

From her bedroom, curtains barely parted...Dawn watched him leave...Shame that Kennedy should finally have shown and no Master to greet her.

Well, as Master had kindly noted earlier...Tomorrow was another day...

***



The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XI...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XI...

Twenty minutes past three am...

Another buzz of the cell phone...A somewhat exhausted Dawn, just settled in the covers, sighed slightly...

The First Servant's work is never done.

But, she perked up...Perhaps Amy's set and the Seal is ready...

"Yes...?"

Ms. Cree explained she'd just seen William pulling into Xander's building's garage...Hadn't gotten over in time to see that he'd left earlier.

"It's ok...He dropped Kennedy off...No problems..."

Kennedy?...

"The Slayer-in-Training at Willow's...Remember?..." Dawn explained patiently.

Oh...

"He should be settling in...Go on back to Sunnydale High and continue with the Seal..." she commanded.

"I expect to hear from Xander and Anya regarding Amy any minute...I or they will contact you...But don't call them...Amy might hear while they're waiting for her..." she hung up.

Exhausting work running such an operation, perhaps, but she was buoyed by her firm sense of Duty in the cause of Evil...And Master...

Besides...No doubt it'd be soon enough that she'd lose her current commander's status to Buffy or Willow or even one of the SITs...A status she felt even her weak and foolish former self would have appreciated...Enjoy it while you can, Dawn...she told herself with a little sigh...

Oh, well...She also serves.



Besides, she reminded herself happily...Even if they secured the Slayer...She'd always be First Servant...No one could take that away from her...As The Foot had assured her.

After all, Master understood her situation...He'd been the youngest son in his family...The reason for his having to seek his fortune in the New World all those years ago...

Hmmn...Perhaps...All things considered and success so near...It was best she stay up, keep a close eye on dear sis in her room and Kennedy downstairs...Just in case Clem or Will got things stirred up again...Easy enough to stay by the door and claim poor sick Dawn'd needed to run to the bathroom down the hall if Buf poked her head out...She got up quietly, opened her door without a sound, and padded over to Buffy's closed door, standing still and listening to the silence with complete attention.

It's what you do when you're First Servant...

***

Inside the outer hallway of the ground floor of his new home, William was startled by a hissed call from a corner...Spike?

"Er...Sorry..." Clem shrugged..."William?..."

Is Miss Dawny ok...? he asked, an almost human look of concern overwhelming his features.

"She seemed fine, Clem...No demon in her that I could tell..." Will eyed him.

"Just how did you slip in here...?"

Nice lady let me in a little while ago...I said I lost my key...he explained.

Hmmn...William eyed the dog-eared demon...Today Clem, tomorrow a Harbringer...Or, God forbid...Angel...Think Harris ought to give the security people a call tomorrow...Time a memo was sent around, I'd say.

"I'll have Xander get you a spare key sometime...But you really should just call ole fellow. "

Couldn't find another phone...Don't have a cell phone...Besides...Clem eyed his friend...(Even if human-souled...He had no prejudices...).

"The First might tap phones...Cellular ones can be monitored..." the demon noted solemnly.

Fair enough, Will nodded...And you were right about Xander and Dawn acting strangely...We don't think it was really them.

"The First...?" Clem shook his head...Very bad...Poor Slayer to have her so angry at her.

Well...Will smiled at him...With good friends like you looking out for her and Dawn...



Clem blushed slightly...Slayer and Miss Dawny are always so nice to me...he noted shyly.

"Well...Is there anything else you can remember about the two you saw tonight...?" Will asked him.

Ummn...Well...the demon paused, clearly embarrassed...

"I didn't tell you earlier...But when I found them, they were doing...Something...In an alley...Miss Dawny said she and Xander..." Clem hesitated.

Oh...Right...The ummn... "Lovers" story...Will nodded.

Lucky for Harris it wasn't him...If Buffy...Or I...Had caught up with them...he thought.

"Well, the First...Or some new lad...Is probably just trying to mess with our minds again. "

"I could ask around some more..." Clem suggested... "See if anyone knows anything..."

That's kind of you...But the Slayer would never want you to take any risks...Will smiled at him briefly, then pondered...

"But...Perhaps it's worth a try...For both of us to see what we can dig up, at least round the usual holes before dawn..." he noted...Clem shaking a loose-skinned head in vigorous agreement.

"But...The Slayer is on guard and all seems reasonably well."

***

Willow pondered her map...Hmmn...The small strand to Xander's seemed to be rejoining the one at Sunnydale High...Moving fast, probably by car...

But the one to Buffy's remained stable...As did the largest one at Fuller St., and the others at Sunnydale High and another street...Browder...Hmmn...

Dawny's friend Janice lived on Browder...Wonder if she might know anything...Seen something...

Whoops...She looked at her watch...3:40 am...Don't think I better try reaching her tonight.

And Buffy's reported no problems...Hate to bother her again at this hour.

Fuller St...? What would be so important about...? Whoa...

Amy...

Lovely...Just the person who'd be amenable to a deal with our First...Oh, well...she punched a redial.

Hello?...A rather groggy Buffy...



"Buffy...? I'm really sorry to do this to you..."

***

A light snapped on, startling Amy...She jumped back a bit...

"Xander?!...Anya?!..." she frowned at them.

What the hell are you two doing in my house?!..she tensed, fumbling for a quick protective spell...

"We brought you a house-warming gift, Amy..." Anya smiled, raising The Foot in view...Amy staring in horrified shock at the severed Foot...Spell forgotten.

"Now that you're back here and all..." Anya beamed...Holding out their gift...Which a dazed Amy took quietly, continuing to stare at it...Hearing...

Thank you, guys...she coolly smiled up at them a moment later...

I love it...she beamed, more warmly...Stroking it.

"Knew you'd like it..." Anya nodded.

***

Dawn?...Buffy hissed...Seeing her sis in the hallway as she emerged, dressed, a few minutes later...

"Bathroom again..." Dawn wanly shrugged...Whispering as well.

"What's up...?"

"Willow's got a lead on what's been happening tonight..." she explained quietly.

Oh...?

"Amy may be involved..." Buffy shook her head.

"Buffy...It's nearly 4am...You've been up all night..."

"This can't wait..." she shrugged.

"You are gonna take Kennedy?...Call William?..." Dawn gave her a long look.

"Kennedy's exhausted...I'll call Will if I need him."

Buffy...Dawn frowned...Her phone buzzed...

Sorry...She pulled it out.

"Jan again, I'm sure..."

Buffy rolled her eyes...Tell her to go to sleep...she hissed...And stop calling.

Yeah...Dawn nodded.



"Hey...Jan?...Yeah?...Great...Well, Buffy says to stop calling and go to sleep...I gotta hang up...G'Night..." she closed the phone, shrugging...

Sorry...She's nuts...Dawn shook her head.

"Can't I go?...I can't sleep anyway..."

Dawn...

Ok, ok...

Buffy headed downstairs...

The First Servant weighed her options...Nope, not worth it to try a push down the stairs...

And with Amy now secured it hardly mattered if Buffy wasted her time over at her place.

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XII...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XII...

Normally, the sadly depleted minions of the First would never have dreamed of taking time out for anything as ridiculous as a beer at a demon bar like Willie's...However with the First back on the other side of the Hellmouth portal, desperately trying to replenish her drained strength in time to cope with the demands her pledge to Smollett had bound her to, it had seemed to Fred and Mike, the two Harbringers who'd brought Gideon's Foot to her, as a good a time as there was ever likely to be.

For purposes of discussing strategy against the Slayer and other minions of the Light, of course...

Not that their boss would ever consider any suggestions they might offer...Especially after gambling everything on the success of that damned Smollett when The Foot had managed to briefly put her human form in its thrall, Fred noted, carefully hoisting a cold one to his lips...Er...After she'd made her statesmanlike...and completely voluntary...decision to put her full strength behind her most powerful minion...Mike quickly corrected...Willie deftly catching the stein the Harbringer'd tried to set down on the booth table as it fell through empty space towards the floor.

Right...Fred nodded hastily...Completely voluntary...

God, these guys were almost as bad as the Gentlemen...Willie thought....Still as opposed to a half-hour of pointing at a dozen different drinks to serve them one...At least these...Monks?...Could give an order.

Still annoyed him that those so-called "Gentlemen" couldn't even be bothered to write out what they wanted...What was he, a mind-reading demon?

Well...Smollett would pull it off...Mike noted...The First'd never offered to entrust so much power to a single minion...The Slayer would be taken and the First would finally achieve her goal...

Right...Fred beamed...In the wrong direction...

Her ultimate goal...

An attentive Willie, wiping glasses at the bar, edged a bit closer...Hmmn...Sounds vaguely profitable...

Oh, Christ...He looked over at the opening bar door...

William and Clem stepped inside, looking carefully around...

No...Not at 4 am...Willie sighed to himself...Not a bar fight at 4 am...



Oh ...Well...He signed to his barmaid to attend to the new customers and sought the safety of his favorite cubby hole/reinforced shelter under the bar...

Damn...My insurance is gone for good...And I woulda sold anything they blabbed to the Slayer for half-price...I don't like the First...he thought.

Clem nudged Will as he looked round...And pointed...

Harbringers...

William nodded...Raising a hand...Play it cool, ole fellow...

"They can't see us...And unless the First is around to help...They may not sense who we are..." he hissed.

Hey, guys...The barmaid came up...Mostly human, Will sensed.

Place is just about dead right now...Any seat ya want...she waved.

"Willie round?..." William asked pleasantly if rather quietly.

Usual place...she grinned, pointing to the bar...

***

A rather thrilled Janice met Anya and Amy near her house at 4:30 am...First Servant Dawn from the Summers home having commanded a division of forces to speed operations...Xander and Evelyn to the Seal uncovering...Anya, Amy, and the eager Janice to begin the search for the glen in which Sir Francis Drake and company had buried the rest of Gideon Smollett under sanctified conditions.

Dawn herself would continue to monitor events from the house for now, as befitting a commander...Accepted as such even by Amy under the gentle persuasion of The Foot...And to maintain contact with Buffy as much as possible while avoiding suspicion.

Later she'd join whichever group she or Master deemed best...Or meet up with the united force at school in the morning.

"Hey..." Janice climbed into Amy's car...Amy headed out...

"You didn't attract any attention?..." Anya eyed her.

Not a peep from the parental units...she shook her head...The Foot wriggled in its bag...A little respect, child...

"I avoided waking my mother and father..." Janice corrected.

Sorry...she thought apologetically...I'll try harder with English, I promise...

"We'll head for McGarvey Cemetery first..." Amy noted.

Master senses a powerful pull there via my locator spell...And there were a lot of old English things found there when the early graves were dug in the nineteenth century.

"I remember..." Anya nodded... "Mr. Cormier in History used to mention it...He'd show a few things he'd dug up there on his weekends."

***

Well...Evelyn eyed Xander...Looking at the uncovered Seal at 5 am...



"That's that..."

A job well done...he nodded...She beamed.

Better call our cop in...he eyed her...It's getting toward dawn and it's time he made the ultimate sacrifice.

***

"So..." Will looked over the back of the booth where he and Clem sat...Toward the two Harbringer priests...

"I understand you fellas work for the First herself."

Fred would've eyed Mike...If he could've...Ummn...

"I'm looking to hook up with her...As is my friend back here..."

Hi...Clem called over...

The Harbringers remained silent...For the sake of their miserable existences...

"Anything wrong, mates?...She didn't take the tongues as well as the eyes, did she?" Will asked them.

I know you fellas can talk...My friend has enhanced hearing...Heard you whispering across the room.

"We have a vow of silence to outsiders..." Fred noted solemnly.

"Which you just broke, mate..." Will grinned at him...

"C'mon now, I know the First is looking for good help...And Soames the Vampire is the best in town."

Clem eyed William...

"Never heard of him..." Mike replied curtly.

"And the First takes no one without a through examination...By her."

"Especially snot-nosed newborns..." Fred chimed in...Rather enjoying the chance to speak his peace to an outsider for the first time in...Well, ever...

"Willie...?" Will called...Not a peep from below the bar...

Willie...He hopped over and pulled the barkeep up...

"The boys here would like a reference...On the infamous Soames the Vampire."

Willie looked at him...He frowned back, Clem joining in a stern look at the barkeep...Oh...

"Look..." Fred looked in the wrong direction... "We don't do the hiring..."

"Yeah...Soames the Vampire..." Willie nodded... "A real monster...Gotta be 40, 000..." Will eyed him... "Er...400, 000 kills to his credit."

"Sorry..." Mike shook his head...Can't help you...

"Try a summons...Maybe she'll take your resume..." he suggested.

We gotta be heading back...he patted Fred's arm...They rose...And leaving a tip...Carefully made their way out...Clem and Will stealthily following...

Shit...The barmaid eyed Willie...Look at this tip...One lousy dollar...

Well...Willie noted...Happily watching the door close on his four departing clients...And surveying his intact bar...

May they thought it was a ten.

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XIII...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XIII...

"Any sign of Amy?..." Buffy eyed Willow as she came up to her friend standing at Amy's front door.

"Not a peep...And her car's gone..." Willow shook her head... "But the really disturbing thing is...My map's gone dead and I can't do a locator on her."

At least not with her mail...she waved a letter snatched from Amy's mailbox...

"She's blocking the spell...Or somebody is..."

"Better return that..." Buffy stifled a yawn...4:45 am...Not more than an hour's sleep tonight...Sigh...

"Federal offense to tamper with the mails ya know..." she smiled...And eyed the door.

Well, direct approach...She fiddled with the door knob...Readied herself to rush the door...

Willow turned the knob and pushed the door open...

"No need to break it on her."

Thanks...Buffy nodded...Nice work...

"Key was under the mat...I remembered from when she stopped by with me once before we fought...But she had a minor barrier up, so I was taking it down...I think it's ok now."

Fine...

They walked in...Willow threw a light switch...Hmmn...

"She was in a hurry..." Buffy noted...Seeing the tossed books and papers on the living room floor...

Willow looked carefully round...Buffy bent over one open book...



"Don't pick that up...!" Willow called hastily...Coming over...

Sorry...I think it's where she left it open...she explained...Sticking a pencil in between the leaves and lifting the book.

"Not old or anything..." Buffy noted.

"Actually...No...But it deals with some very old stuff..." Willow examined the title...

"Legends of old California"...Hmmn...

"Not very magics-y..." Buffy noted.

"This chapter is..." Willow replied.

"The Legend of Gideon Smollett...California's first warlock..."

"Nice-looking..." Buffy stared at a wood-cut print of a rather dashing-looking bearded Englishman.

"Anything important about him...?"

Ummn...Denounced as a Child of the Devil...Believed by his followers to command the forces of darkness...Yadda, yadda, yadda...Willow thumbed through...Nothing unusual...Whoa...

"Hacked to pieces after death by command of Sir Francis Drake to prevent his avowed return from Hell with all its power at his command...The pieces sanctified with holy water and sacred rites then buried, scattered in a glen, the glen then sanctified...An unknown spot just west of present-day Los Angeles."

Sunnydale...Both looked at each other...

"But...Would the First bother with some minor warlock?..." Buffy eyed her friend.

And if he's in pieces...Sanctified pieces...In sanctified ground...?

Willow shrugged...

"Some warlocks and witches have a pretty close bound to the First...And there is a lot of power out there to tap...The Hellmouth, you know..." she eyed Buffy.

"And you've seen first hand how much power could be drawn by a witch..." she sighed a bit.

Buffy patted her...Wil...

"Just the guilts creeping up on me..." Willow nodded.

Well...Lets see what else Amy's got out here...she looked round...

***

William and Clem followed the two Harbingers as they moved slowly down the street from Willie's bar door...They seemed less well directed than those he'd encountered in the past, Will noted quietly...The First must be out of touch for the moment...Clem nodded.

They paused as the two Harbringers halted to review their tasks for the coming dawn...And their directions...

"What'll we do?..." Clem eyed William as they waited in a doorway.

"I think our friends are a little too dependent on the First regards their disability..." William pondered...



Clem...You still as good at voices as ever?...he looked at his friend.

"Sp...ike..." Clem gave an exact imitation of Buffy's glare voice...Terrific, Will beamed.

Don't ever do that in front of the Slayer, though...

Mmmn...Clem nodded.

"Could you do one of our boys over there?...Talk to the other if I detain one for a short spell?..."

"Send her your resume..." Clem imitated...Perfectly...

But, William?...he resumed normal voice...

"What good's that...?"

I don't know if my kind of persuasion can work with them...William noted...You might be able to talk something out of the other while I try the one on the left my way.

"Just be ready to follow the other when I take his friend...Keep talking to him...Be careful, but get anything you can."

The Harbringers had resumed their stroll...Will patted Clem and they slipped along quietly after them...

***

Hmmn...Willow scanned a more detailed book on warlocks...

Smollett, Gideon...1545-1579...

"Powerful guy, had a talent for hypnotic thrall..." she noted...

But nobody all that...Hmmn...

"What?..." Buffy looked back at her...Pausing in a yawn-filled room search...

The same story as the other book...He went to California with Drake...Was executed here...

"Died calling on the First Lady of Evil to avenge him..." she looked up at Buffy.

Not Satan?...Lucifer...? Buffy eyed her friend.

"Either this guy had inside knowledge of the First...Or he made a shrewd if sexist guess..." Willow put the book down...And thought a bit...

Hypnotic thrall...A male Dru...

"You sure Dawn seemed ok?..."

"Sick as a dog, poor kid...But Dawn otherwise..." Buffy shook her head.

Come to mention it though...she paused...

"Janice seemed a little odd this evening when she came over...On the quiet side for her..."

But...Janice, you know...Buffy shrugged.

"Anything else?..." she looked at the book.



"Drake had some trouble defeating him at the end...Smollett's power nearly overcame his protections..." Willow went over to another book...

"But it's not clear how he..." she thumbed through "The Decisive Mystic Battles of the Western World..." Ah...

Hmmn...Smollett had a special weakness...He loved his mother...Willow began...

"Mother's boy, eh..." Buffy nodded.

"She was very religious...Feared for his soul when he started up with the Dark Powers...Gave him a special crucifix...The Crucifix of St Lorentz...To guard him."

Apparently the Smolletts were closet English Catholics...Willow noted.

"When he broke with God, the crucifix haunted him...Cursed him... "Dogging his days and nights.." the book here says..."

"His Achilles' heel...His black little soul still fears its power...Believes in it and so it has the power to destroy him...If used by one pure of heart...Like his Mom..." Willow tapped the page.

"Great..." Buffy nodded... "So if this guy is the First's new boy...We just gotta get his mom's cross and let him have it..."

Maybe...Willow sighed...

But the book says Drake buried the crucifix... On the lips of Smollett's severed head...To hold his soul trapped there...

Eggh...Both looked at each other...

"And if the whole body was hacked and blessed...How could he come back except as a spirit or ghost?...Kinda like the First only mucho weaker..." Willow shook her head.

Could his ghost possess people?... Buffy suggested.

"Maybe...But a simple possession wouldn't do much to advance the First's cause...He'd be limited to that person's abilities...Unless he could access power from the First somehow or his body were salvageable, he's not gonna have much oomph..."

Willow shook her head...Gotta be more at work here...Or Amy was trying to throw us off the trail.

"Well..." Buffy yawned... "Finding Amy's probably our best bet...She must know what's going on."

And I can't locate her...Willow sighed...

***

Ok...Anya looked round the McGarvey cemetery...

"Where to now?..." she eyed Amy who clutched the bag with The Foot in her hand...Feeling it direct her...

This way...Amy pointed...First piece is over by that tree.

"Bring the shovels..."

Right...Janice and Anya grabbed shovels...Anya pausing...Say...?

"Just how many pieces of Master are scattered round here...?"

Amy shrugged...Master was already dead at Drake's hands when they cut his body up.



Hmmn...This could take a while...Anya noted...

***

A chance passer-by offered Will his chance...Harbringer Fred on the left having to pause as he was briefly blocked while Mike continued...The priest politely excused himself and called to his companion to wait.

"Not a word, mate..." William whispered to Fred, holding the struggling minion by the throat, hand over his mouth...

He dragged him back into a side alley, giving Clem a quick glance...

Clem stepped quickly into his role...

"Fred..." Mike hissed... "You ok...?"

"Fine...Just behind you..." Clem replied in perfect imitation... "Lets get moving..."

***

"You know Master appreciates your sacrifice, Rich..." Xander noted to the cop who'd come down to the sub-basement at Evelyn's cell phone call.

"Just goes with the job..." Rich nodded...Standing in the center of the uncovered Seal...

Say...he paused...Pulling out his wallet...He thumbed to a picture of a very lovely young woman about five or years younger than himself...Twenty-five or so...

"My wife..." he noted flatly... "My own family."

"Lovely..." Evelyn nodded...Yeah, Xander agreed.

"I think Master would find her acceptable...Please see that she's taken as my Gift to him..." Rich told them.

She'll be lonely without me anyway.

"You could afford a wife like that...? On a cop's salary...?" Evelyn leered.

Xander stared at her...She shrugged...

Cold and sarcastic Evil's our natural state now...she noted...You'll get used to it as you stay with Master.

"Dawn's even better than me at it...When she doesn't still have to play sweet little sister..." she noted.

"Well...Maybe so..." Xander nodded... "But Mistress still appreciates sacrifice by minions."

And it's a fine Gift...he told Rich kindly.

"Diane's a nice girl...Oughta be able to lure in dozens of guys to join us...But she'll probably be much higher maintenance when serving Master..." Rich noted.

Dozens...? Damn...With her and the others taking all the guys we get, who's gonna be left for me?...Evelyn thought grumpily.

Well...Service is its own reward...she reminded herself.

Rich raised the sword passed to him...Honored to do it himself, he noted.

***

"So..." Clem continued in the voice of the Harbringer who's place he'd taken...As he walked beside

Mike, the fellow minion.

"One vital task we got tonight, eh?..."

Yep...Mike nodded...Carefully sensing his way...

"Got get it before Smollett's people do...Just in case he gives the First any trouble later..." the priest noted.

"Yeah...We gotta get it..." Clem agreed.

The big prize...he continued...

"Good thing the Slayer doesn't know about it, eh...?" he hissed to Mike.

"Demon God yes..." Mike nodded...

If she knew what we were gonna have in a little while...And got it from us...

Heaven to pay...he sighed.

"Right you are..." Clem nodded...Mike stopped...

"Ok...Which way now...?" he turned to Clem...Who blinked...

Ummn...

"Fred...? Which way...? You're the one who took the First's directions..."

"I...Ummn..." Clem fidgeted...

Say...Mike frowned...And sniffed...Hand on his side dagger...

"Who the First are you?..." Whipping out the dagger with surprising speed...And grabbing Clem by the arm...He quickly felt his way up to Clem's throat and had the point of the dagger there before the poor fellow could move.

"You're not Fred...Not human...Who are you?...Talk..." the priest demanded.

"William!..." Clem howled...Mike suddenly feeling himself grabbed from behind...

"Thought you boys had a vow of silence with strangers, lad..." Will noted as he threw the Harbringer down...Dispatching him with a couple of quick blows and a twist, then thrust of the hapless priest's dagger hand.

Thanks...Clem staggered up...

"You ok, ole fellow?..." Will eyed him...

Yeah...But...Clem looked down at the dead Harbringer...

"Already got Fred back there to spill...We're headed for McGarvey cemetery, looking for a specific antique crucifix, hidden in a buried box."

With a severed head...he added as an afterthought...

***



The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XIV...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XIV...

Not a bad performance for her first time out as chief minion to the Big Baddy...First Servant Dawn noted contentedly as she closed her cell phone and began changing...Still only 5:30 am but she could just claim inability to sleep with the flu and all if Buffy showed up before normal school hours.

Yes indeed, she sighed happily...Amy, Anya, and Janice digging diligently away at the cemetery had recently called to report the recovery of several pieces of Master and the locating of many more...

Buffy and Willow clueless...At worst, wandering about Amy's place or the Box trying to put their feeble minds together...Incapable of suspecting their best friends, even flesh and blood, had turned against them, accepting service in the cause of Evil...Neat...

Well, maybe not voluntarily...At first, Dawn noted to herself...Though now that she'd awakened to the possibilities of the Dark Side, this Summers at least, had grown a brain and was ready to get on the fast track to career advancement.

Not that she'd ignore Master's kind lessons on the importance of...Relaxation...In life...First Servant expected to be doing a lot of that...With a lot of rather beautiful future minions of all types...If only for the need to maintain the proper image befitting the First (currently living) Servant of Gideon Smollett.

But, anyway....And best of all...Xander's call just now received...The Seal had been fed...Not requiring all that much blood at that...Guess there'd been more of a jolt in Jonathan's and Spike's blood than they'd guessed...It was now open and ready...Needing only the presence of The Foot and the First's release of Hellmouth energy.

Almost set...Practically in the bag...And all under her Foot-inspired leadership...Damn...

"I should gone for the Evil side years ago..." Dawn shook her head.

Still, a leetle more time was required for the gang at McGarvey to wrap things up...Hmmn...Be just like my bitch sister or Glenda the dim witch or that crappy souled poet to suddenly put things together now, at the last minute, and come charging in to screw things...And that fool Clem must've told Will something earlier...

Maybe time dear little Dawny went out to help, stumbling into big sis' way as usual...Keeping an eye on her.

Or...Better yet...Getting her alone...Separating her from her sole source of protection, Willow...

Just until Master was ready for her.

Well...They were looking for Amy...And as the group at the cemetery had most of the pieces located...Why not let them find her?...And let her lead Willow on a merry chase for a bit...While lil' Dawny helped big sis uncover the Big Mystery...

And meet the latest minion of the First.

Yeah...After all, sis promised to get me more involved...Even if she forgot all about me the minute the SITs arrived...Bitch.



Hmmn...She looked at the door...Kennedy...

Our house guest...Over in Willow's old room, dead to the world...

Could make that a permanent state...Well, no...Too dangerous if Buffy or someone else were to find her too soon...Besides Master wants the SITs...As many of them as he can get at least.

Well, a short note explaining that I had to go and check on dear brave sis...And to meet us later at Sunnydale High...Say, noonish...Perfect...A logical course of action even if I wasn't Master's...

Buffy would be...Will be...Pleased with my good sense in keeping an important team member informed.

***

"So...Awwwh..." Buffy cracked a strong yawn...Sorry...

"You think Amy might be helping the First?...Digging up this warlock, Smollett?..." she eyed Willow.

I dunno...Maybe...Willow shrugged...

"Maybe the First is using her like she did Andrew...In a more sophisticated way, perhaps...Maybe this is all Amy's little revenge scheme...But that still doesn't explain how Xander and Dawn lookalikes fit in here."

"Gee..." A grinning Amy suddenly appeared before them, some blood running from her nose...

"Maybe I could answer those questions...If you ever catch up with me..." she vanished in a flash of light.

Buffy blinked at Willow...

"Amy?...Or the First...?"

"I dunno..." Willow shook her startled head... "She was gone too fast."

It seemed like a standard teleportation spell...But I didn't think Amy had that much power...

She eyed Buffy...You don't think...?

"I don't know, Wil..." Buffy shook her head... "Is there any way you can check?..."

Poor Amy...I mean...I was upset with her behavior last year...But...After all the kid's been through, Willow thought...To die at the hands of the First?...

Well...

Hmmn...She put out her hands as Buffy watched...

Yep...Aura's there...A definite teleportation spell.

Phew...Probably not dead...Just insane with rage or in the grip of Evil...she noted to Buffy.

"Can you find out where she went?..."

She nodded...There's a trace...Fading, but there for a few minutes yet...

"I could go after her, Buf..." Willow eyed her...

"You mean...Follow her to the "trap"?..." Buffy grinned... "I don't think so..."



I'll be ok...I got my ways...Willow smiled...

"Not alone..." Buffy eyed her.

Can't take passengers, kiddo...Willow shook her head...

"Not without jacking myself way up beyond anywhere I'd ever want to go again."

"Telepathic hypnotist warlock, Wil...?" Buffy looked at her...

Just a guy who went to pieces over his relationship with the First years ago...Willow grinned.

"Sides...I got my own...Magnetism...And these..." she grabbed several bracelets off Amy's bookshelf...

They're protective amulets...And I can boost 'em a bit...she frowned at them...Eyes darkening...

Buffy eyed the bracelets...

"You sure they're not booby-trapped?"

"No!...Don't question me again!..."...A dark-eyed Willow sternly hollered...Then faded back...

"Sorry...Dark vibes...But they're ok...And they should ward off a warlock ok...Provided he's not a good mate for super-Willow...Here..." she tossed Buffy two.

"Keep one for yourself...Put one on Dawn...If she is under a thrall, this should break it."

"I'll keep a couple in case I can get close enough to Amy..."

"I don't like this, Wil...Don't take any chances..." Buffy warned.

"As long as Amy and Master Smollett can't tap the Hellmouth directly they're no match for me...Long as I don't let em catch me doing something Xander would do on a bad day...But I'll be careful..."

Better check in with your blondie...she grinned...and vanished.

Buffy shook her head...Well...So much for one-Slayer rule...

Andrew at least will be pleased...

We're a Jedi Council after all...

Hmmn...Check in on my blondie?...Geesch...

Neat idea...she grinned, pulling out her phone.

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XV...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...



Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XV...

"Look..." a battered Fred wearily shook his head in the vague direction of Clem and William... "You guys are crazy...The First will make us all pray for termination."

"Whatever did happen to that vow of silence, mate?..." William pushed him along as Clem followed closely, watching for signs of other priests or the Big Bad First.

'Sides, you said she wanted this cross herself...A little extra bargaining power against her rambunctious minion, right?...So we'll help you get it and turn it over to her...For the right price...

"I can't make demands of Our Lady..." Fred drew himself up indignantly...

Vampires...Out for themselves and nothing else...No higher purpose...No wonder the Slayer had so little trouble with the little dustbags...

"Ok...Well, if you don't wish to cooperate...We have a vague idea of how to proceed..." Will noted.

Uhhh...Fred felt his own dagger held against his throat...

Maybe discretion is the better part...And if he could secure the crucifix later from these clowns...

"Ok, ok..." he shrugged... "I can tell you what to look for once we get there..."

But it's sanctified ground you know...And it's a crucifix, not a cross.

"Anglican or Catholic ritual?..." William asked.

"Anglican...I think..." Fred replied.

Hmmn...Little more difficult for me...Will noted to Clem quietly...I was raised Anglican.

"Does explain why the local vamps always avoided parts of McGarvey...Spike used to think it was the rundown state of the place."

"I think I could manage it if you can't..." Clem replied.

"I never have trouble with religious stuff...Crosses, Stars of David, holy water...It never bothers me..."

"How'd he ever become a demon?..." Fred hissed.

"Well..." Clem began... "I was a magician and clown, I loved entertaining kids...But one day at a party a century ago... I scared this poor little boy who choked on his own birthday cake..."

Didn't mean to...He was afraid of my clown costume...Clem looked down...

He sighed...William stared...Fred would've but...You know...

"I felt awful...But his Mom wanted vengeance...So..."

I think I get the picture...Fred noted.

Will's phone buzzed...Yeah?...he spoke into it...



"Buffy..." a beam on his face... "Yeah?..." he listened...Waving Clem to take the dagger and hold Fred...He backed off a few feet...

"Amy, eh?...You did tell Red to watch herself?...Right..."

Fred listened attentively, Clem keeping a close eye...

Hmmn...So...I'm dealing with William the Bloody himself...Fred realized.

Guess it's true what First said about him and his Slayer...And after all that torture...No wonder Our Lady's a tad jealous.

Though that'll be dealt with soon enough...

"Well...As to that..." William replied into the phone... "Clem here and I have one of the First's boys leading us to that crucifix now."

A rather sheepish and gentle grin spread over his face...Clearly Slayer was pleased with his efforts for her, Clem noted, glancing at him, unable to help smiling himself...What a nice lady...And what a sweet thing love is, he turned to the waiting Fred...

Demons like you give the Underworld a good name...Fred grumbled back...I promise you...You'll be one of the first on the First's lists...When she achieves her ultimate goal...

"What is her 'ultimate goal'...?" Clem asked innocently.

Wouldn't ya like to know...Fred sneered back.

"You're sure, though...Willow was sure...Amy's info wasn't a plant?..." Will asked into the phone.

"Well..." Clem eyed Fred coolly... "If you don't know, there's no need to get all mysterious about it...I suppose the First only tells competent minions she trusts..."

"Hey...I'm not one of Glory's feeble-brained Brethren...Of course I know...See she's gonna..." he stopped, glaring...

Hey...Even a eyeless priest could see through that one...he frowned.

"I'll say nothing more..." he began...Clem pressed the dagger to his throat...

Ok, ok...I'll tell you about the crucifix like I promised...But no more about the First's plan...Clem pressed harder...

"Look, I won't talk...She gets extra pissed when her surprises get spoiled..." Fred noted.

It's ok Clem...Will called...I think the lad means it...And we can settle for the crucifix for now.

Clem backed down as Will finished...

"When Red gets back, check on Niblett...I'll bring the crucifix to your place or Clem will if I have to seek shelter...Yes...Dearest, I know it's getting near dawn, I'll be careful..."

Got too much to live for now...he smiled into the phone...

Aww...Fred sneered...

"Shut up..." Clem pulled him back a few more feet, dagger to his throat...

"Not too far, Clem..." Will called, looking up...

Be right with you...



"Buffy..." he turned back to the phone... "Hafta go...Yes...Darling...You take care too...Don't take any chances you don't have to...And...Please, call in to work after this is all over, tell 'em you gotta stay with Dawn, get some sleep...Love you...Bye..."

He returned to Fred and Clem...

"Lets get on..."

"So...William the Bloody..." Fred addressed him as they resumed...

"In the resouled, Undead flesh, mate."

"First has tried to win you over, pal...Gotta tell you, she's been going easy on you to date."

Mate...William sighed, taking the dagger back from Clem and holding it to Fred's throat...

"I think I'll help you renew that vow of yours for now...Least til we get to McGarvey."

***

"I don't see why I should have to clean up...I'm needed to help guard the Seal... " Evelyn sulked to Xander as they half-dragged, half-carried the staggering Rich across the ground floor of Sunnydale High.

"Mistress wants me by the Seal in case Buffy shows before the others get here...I might have a chance of taking her by surprise being her friend and all...She doesn't know you that well."

Mistress feels Rich here has earned a chance to serve with us longer...Xander nodded down towards Rich...

"And someone has to wipe up the blood trail..." he eyed the long trail of blood leading back to the basement door.

"Just drop me anywhere..." Rich mumbled to them... "I can crawl to the street and call for help there..."

See...Evelyn began...But was quiet on receiving stern instructions from the absent Foot...Still in telepathic touch...

"Yes...Sorry..." she nodded... "I just thought it was best Xander and I both stay...I'll be as quick as I can..." She turned and headed for the janitor's closet.

"Hang in there, Rich..." Xander told the cop as he pulled him along... "We need more dedicated minions like you..."

I live to protect and to serve...Rich feebly nodded.

***

"Nice work, Janice..." Anya noted as Jan proudly displayed a large sack, pulled from the hole she'd been digging...Long enough to be a leg...

"Any sign of the Head?..." she asked anxiously...The Foot in Dawn's bag on her shoulder displaying an equal concern...

"No box that looks like it would fit a head so far..." Jan shook her own.

"Well...Just be careful with it...Remember the crucifix of St Lorenz is in there with it...So whatever you do, don't open it...We'll just take all the pieces back and let the First's people deal."

Right...Janice nodded.

A tall figure rushed in on them...A vampire, I'd say...Anya noted to The Foot...No fresh dirt, not a newbie.

"Well..." the dark-haired male, in demon face, leered...



"Two little ladies...Out for some kind of school prank?...Hey...?" he looked over at the holes they'd dug...

"Ladies..." he was indignant... "This happens to be a cemetery...What the hell did you think you were doing...?"

God, is nothing sacred anymore...?

"Just stand in the sanctified patch, Janice...He can't come there..." Anya told her.

"Oh, no...?" the vamp smiled...

"Lady, it just so happens...I was an atheist..." he stepped onto the doubly hallowed ground...No effect.

Jan eyed Anya...

"No belief by the former soul, no power over the demon..." he leered at them.

"Hey, pal..." Buffy appeared... "You believe in Slayers, don't you...?"

Slayer...? the vamp gulped, spinning round...

Where did she come from...? Anya asked herself...The Foot seemed equally surprised.

"Wait a minute..." the vamp eyed Buffy...And put a hand out towards her...

She glared, drawing back...

Oops...The vampire backed off...Then knelt...

"I crave forgiveness, I didn't know it was you, Ma'am."

"Is that the way you treat the First..?." Morphy Buffy glared at him.

Hey, guys...she smiled at Jan and Anya...

Hey...Jan waved...Anya nodding carefully, watching the First.

"That isn't Buffy?..." Jan hissed to Anya...Who shook her head...

"The First Evil...From Hell...Friend of Master's...She likes to take Buffy's form...Ironic humor, I think."

"Friend of your Master's?..." the First glared...

Gideon...she frowned at the bag where The Foot was being...Rather quiet...

"I'm willing to let that little thrall episode slide by as things seem to be working out here...But I expect to be treated with my proper due by minions of my minions...And as you can sense...I've protected myself against any more games by you this time."

The Foot sent out appropriate instructions...

"Sorry, Ma'am..." Anya bowed... "Didn't realize you were Master's Queen."

Yeah...Jan agreed, trying to clumsily bow as well...

"That's ok...You girls seem to be getting on pretty well here...Hey you..." she turned to the vamp...

These girls are working in my service...And could use a little help...Long as the sanctification doesn't bother you...Grab that shovel and go dig where and what they tell ya...Or else.



"Thanks..." Anya nodded.

Just checking to see if things are moving along...Morphy Buffy nodded...Gotta get back and finish preparing for the big energy transfer...Keep it up, ladies.

"Say..?" she paused...Looking round...

"Any sign of a couple of my Harbringers?...I was gonna have a couple come over to help you out."

Sorry...Anya shrugged...Not a one...

"Can't you tell?..."

"I'm still in recharge mode...Can't afford to dissipate any more of my power..." Morphy Buffy sighed.

Lazy bastards...the First grimly noted to herself...I slip off to Hell for recharging and they take off...Without even making sure they got the crucifix...

A little extra leverage to remind Gideon who's running this show...

Well...Gotta finish up with the recharge or it's all for nothing, anyway...

"I'll get more help over to you...Tell Dawn she's doing one bang-up job..." she smiled at Anya...Then vanished.

"You heard her..." Anya eyed the vamp...Who grumbled but followed her to the next digging spot.

I still think it's not right...Even if I was an atheist...This is desecration...the vamp noted to himself, starting to dig.

"So..." Jan eyed Anya, picking up her shovel... "Master works for her?..."

We don't ask questions like that, Janice...Anya eyed her sternly.

"It's not our concern to pry into Master's business dealings...Just to serve..."

Yeah...Jan nodded sheepishly.

Sorry...She headed over to the next digging spot...Anya heading over to another...

The vamp continued to dig, grumbling mildly as the two humans disappeared from view.

"Howdy..." Clem came up to him...Quite silently...

Jesus!...the vamp jumped...

"Who the hell are you?...One of the First's?..." he eyed Clem...

Yep...Clem nodded...

You?...

"Just shanghaied into it..." the vamp shook his head...

But I guess it's all for the common evil...

"So it is, mate..." Will slid round a monument...

But a smart man knows when to offer unquestioning devotion and when to keep a good eye out for number one...he noted.



"Like right now..." he grabbed the vamp as Clem moved to watch for anyone coming.

"What are you and the others doing here, mate?...Talk quick and you win bonus points."

"Hey...I just told your friend, remember?...I just joined the firm...Not privy to the goings-on..."

What are you digging up?...Will eyed him...

"God, or more likely the First, knows."

"Smart-assed answer...One demerit..." William twisted his prisoner's head round...All the way round...Curbing the natural tendency of things to cry out for help.

"Ok, ok...Boxes...Wooden boxes...Or any old body parts scattered round, unboxed..." the vamp leaned over to them...Dropping to a confidential whisper...

"I'm thinking they got something screwy in mind...." he sighed... "But...Humans and the First...Whatyacha gonna do?..."

"Sounds like ole Fred steered us to the right place..." Will grinned at Clem.

Fred...?...the dark vamp sighed...

"So how many are getting in cut on this deal..?...I wanna get that set before the human ladies or the First get back..." he looked at William...Who shook his head...

The vamp reared back... "What the hell are you doing with that stake?...

"No deal, Mate...We lot are here for Duty..." Clem, listening, stiffened to a properly Dutiful pose... "And Love..." Will paused and suddenly smiled...

"Or, rather...Here's the deal...As a probationary member of the Royal Council of Librarians and Library Scientists...May God grant peace to your tormented soul..."

"I don't believe in God..." the vamp noted firmly.

"Well...Peace then..." Will staked him.

***

"Hey...How's it going...?"

"Fine..." Xander replied into his phone... "Just got things cleaned up and Evelyn and I are waiting for the rest of you...Rich, our blood sacrifice, looks likely to make it...A squad car just picked him up a couple of blocks from here."

"Great..." Dawn beamed at the phone...Standing in downtown Sunnydale, beside the Summers' car...Two blocks from Amy's place...

Buffy would skin her alive of course for driving Mom's car...But a First Servant in a hurry couldn't be worried by such mundane details...And sis really shouldn't have left the keys if she didn't want it used...

"Any sign of William or Buffy?...I think Amy's still keeping Willow busy..." she continued.

Not a peep yet...How's the digging going...?

"Just great...I'm heading over to keep watch on Buffy and then get her over to the school...Be ready for her in case Master doesn't get there before I do."



Will do...Xander promised and hung up.

***

"Hi, there..."

A groggy Kennedy rose up in bed and jumped as a grinning, but rather wobbly Amy, with still more blood running from nose and now ears...Stood before her at the end of the bed...

"Who the hell...?"

Willow popped in, likewise a bit dazed but not bleeding...Yet...

Hey...Sorry 'bout this...she waved at Kennedy...And turned to the leering Amy...

"Your new girl...? You've traded up, Willow...A potential Slayer, no less..." Amy smirked.

"Amy...You've gotta to stop this...I think you're under someone's control...You're hurting yourself with all these jumps..." Willow pleaded.

Let me help you...

"'Let me help you?'..." Amy quoted, sneering... "Now, you wanta 'help' me?...Where were you when I was in that cage all those years..." Kennedy eyed her, then Willow...Huh?... "And when you got bored and turned me back, easy as pie...Did you and Buffy try to get me through the transition...? Give me a little support, cut me a little slack?...Like Buffy did when you tried to blast the world to oblivion...? Ho, no..."

"But now...I'm powerful at last...And a threat to your little world-saving...And now...You wanna 'help' poor ole Amy."

Well...she eyed Willow coldly...

"Someone else is 'helping' me now...Loves me..."

And soon...He and the First are gonna have you...Crawling...she grinned.

"Like you are now?..." Willow glared.

"Careful, Rosenberg..." Amy looked over at Kennedy... "Wouldn't want to get me mad at your girl, here..."

"Capture..." Willow called out...

Amy hurled a ball of energy at Kennedy which Willow countered, then disappeared...

And in a flash materialized again...Damn...she looked at Willow, fiercely black-eyed now...

"What the...?" she suddenly tensed...Rigid, with head up to the ceiling...And closed her eyes, unconscious...

"When I capture somebody...They stay captured..." Willow beamed to Kennedy as her eyes returned to normal.

"What did you do to her?..." Kennedy stared at the rigid Amy...

Stasis field...A little trick of Giles...It even worked on me once...Combined with a little tweaking of my own to boomerang her back here...Willow smiled.

But...she sighed...It's a big drain on me...And judging by the power she was burning, I dunno if I can break Smollett's hold on her...Especially if the First is backing him up.



"Smollett?..." Kennedy eyed her...

"Our Big Bad's minion of the moment, we think..." Willow explained... "See, Buffy and I found some info at Amy's place."

***

"Dawn...?" Buffy stared at a sheepish Dawn carefully looking round as she came up the steps to Amy's front door, just as Buffy was stepping out...

Sorry...Dawn hung her head...

"I got nervous...And I couldn't stay in bed any longer..."

"I told you to stay home..."

"Well..." Dawn noted... "At least, if I'm well enough to be here, I'm well enough to go to school..."

So I pay a grim penalty...she grinned wanly.

Is everything ok...? she tried to peer into the house past Buffy...

"Where's Willow...I thought you were gonna meet her."

"She's busy..." Buffy felt Dawn's head...

"You're still hot, Dawn...I'm taking you home..."

Ok...Dawn sighed...Buffy eyed her carefully...

"I don't remember ever telling you where Amy lived..."

"You said Fuller St. when you headed out...I was checking each place on the street...Why?...Is something wrong?..." Dawn gave an innocent stare...

"Here...Put this on..." Buffy handed her an amulet...

"What the hell's that?...I'm not gonna wear that piece of crap..." Dawn backed away...

What is it?...Some filthy old charm Willow found?...she gave a nervous smile...

"Put it on, Dawn..." Buffy glared.

"That thing's probably covered in germs...And my resistance is low with the flu and all..." Dawn noted, feebly grinning...Buffy grabbed her arm...

No!...Dawn struggled...Buffy forced the amulet over her hand and up her arm until it was tight on her skin...

Dawn shook a bit as her sister released her...Then looked at her...

"Buffy?...What's happened...?"

What am I doing here?...she looked round...

"Long story...Don't know all the pieces..." Buffy shook her head.

"Buffy!..." Dawn gasped... "There's something terrible happening at the high school...I think I..." she trembled.



"I think I was helping...Somebody...To open the Seal again..."

"A friend of the First's..." Buffy nodded...We know.

"Amy's controlled by him...Or working for him...Willow's after her..."

"Buffy...I did something awful...To Ms. Cree...And Xander, I think..." Dawn shook her head...

We gotta help them...Before they get hurt.

"We will...But it wasn't you, Dawny..." Buffy nodded...Patting her...

***

"She's protected against the amulet..." Willow sighed as she and a now dressed Kennedy eyed Amy...Still rigid in Willow's field...The amulet now on her arm... "Between her power and Smollett's...It's not strong enough..."

Won't be able to get much out of her that way...

"You...Won't...Get...Anything..." Amy muttered, forcing her eyes open to stare at them, though still rigid and trapped in Willow's field.

"Nice..." Willow eyed her coolly... "But we already have most of it...We know about your friend Smollett...And we're about to..." her phone buzzed...

"Buffy?...Yeah, got Amy...But she's preety resistant..."

"Will's got a line on the crucifix...He's after it now..." Buffy couldn't keep a small note of pride out...Her guy and new Watcher...So on the ball...

"Neat..." Willow replied...Pausing to inform Kennedy...Amy mildly struggling but still held firmly...

"Dawn's here...She's ok..." Buffy continued, smiling at her guilty-looking sis... "She was under Smollett's control somehow, but the amulet's released her...She told me Xander and Anya are working for him now too...They're at the Hellmouth with a few others...Trying to reopen the Seal."

I'm gonna have Will meet us there...With the crucifix when he gets it...Then we'll wrap this up...

"Well...Don't take any chances...If they do open the Seal, Smollett will be a lot more powerful."

"It's ok...Dawn says they couldn't risk trying me...And demons are impervious as well..."

Well...Willow sighed back...I still say...Don't take any chances...We'll get over to Sunnydale High as quick as we can...

"Make it the cemetery, Wil, if you can get there the quick way...The crucifix is the main thing...Dawn and I'll will take care of things at the Hellmouth til you bring it...Gotta call Will...See ya..." Buffy hung up.

"Well..." Willow looked at Kennedy... "We'd better go...But first, I wanna get something a little stronger than these amulets from my room..."

"Can we leave her like this?..." Kennedy eyed Amy...

"She's safer like this than any other way...Even a drug probably wouldn't hold her under now..." Willow noted.

***

"Will?...How's it goin'?..." Buffy hissed into the phone as she and Dawn headed for the car...



"We're working on it, Slayer...But Anya and Nibs' little friend are close by and hard at it too..." Will began...

"William!..." Clem hissed, having struck something hard with his shovel...

"Wait a bit, dear...Yes, Clem?..." he came over to the demon, now lifting a box out of the ground...

"Think we've got something here, girl...Hold on...Go ahead, ole fellow, open it..."

Clem broke an old lock, pried the box...Eggh...

"Gideon Smollett, I presume..." Will smiled at the rotted head, still some skin scraps clinging...Crucifix firmly embedded in what must have been his mouth...He pulled at it...Yeow!...And looked at his burned hand...

Guess this is a job for you, ole fellow...he nodded to Clem...Who pulled it out carefully...And placed it in his pocket.

"We've got it, girl...Thanks to ole Clem here..." he beamed at a blushing Clem.

"We'll see you at Sunnydale High for the finale, love."

"Great job...Both of you...See ya there...Love you, Will..." Buffy hung up...

They stood by the car...She looked at Dawn...Who sheepishly handed over the keys...

Sorry...Mind control...

"You know you're lucky you were in thrall, kiddo..." Buffy frowned at her...As they climbed in...

***

"Hold it!!..." A cry...Anya...

"Get out of here, ole fellow..." Will hissed to Clem... "I'll hold them off...Head for Sunnydale High."

Go on...he commanded...Clem nodded and headed off...

Anya, followed by Janice clambered up the small hill to him, Clem already lost among the crypts...

"William...What are you doing here?..."

"A little stroll..." he eyed them...

"Anya...?" he glanced over to a monument...

Anya hesitated then followed, telling Janice to wait...

"Are you here for Buffy?...Why is Dawn's little friend here?..." he asked, trying to seem clueless as possible...

"Yeah...For Buffy..." Anya nodded... "Janice was out and recognized me...I couldn't get rid of her..."

Anya!...Janice called...Rushing over to something on the ground where Will had been...

"He had it!..." she cried, turning to them.

"So..." Anya frowned at him, raising a stake...

"You knew all along."



"It's the Head!..." Janice called happily, bringing the box over...

But...she opened it to display the beautiful, rotted Head in all its glory...Anya giving a slight nod of respect...

"The crucifix is gone..." Jan noted mournfully...And looked at Will, eyes narrowing...

Anya pressed the stake to his chest, he banged it away and backed off...

"Give us the crucifix, Will..." Anya cried, threateningly...Rushing to pick up the stake...

"Or what, girl?...You're not a demon anymore...And you'll have to be pretty lucky with that stake..." he grinned.

Four Harbringers came up from behind, grabbing him...

Anya and Janice came up to him...

"Where is it, Will?..." Anya asked...Again holding the stake to him...

Search him, she hissed to Janice...Who began...

"You might at least properly introduce yourself, little one..." he told the teen as she went through his pockets and jacket...Pausing to coldly glare at him from time to time...Two of the Harbringers holding him firmly.

Nothing...she told Anya, standing up...

"Will..." Anya sighed... "You're such a fool...Your only chance is join us while you still can..."

"Thanks, girl..." he smiled... "But I've made my choice of sides."

"Suppose I told you...Buffy will soon be joining us...And you could still have her...If you help us out..." Anya eyed him...

"I'd say...Tall order...And...Sod off...Mr. Smollett, I mean..."

She slapped him...Janice glaring furiously beside her...

"Still mad about Xander catching us, love?..." Will sighed at her... "I remind you that was my demon essence, not yours truly..."

"You were his lover...?" Janice stared at Anya...Who shrugged...One wild night, drunk and angry...Fellow demon...

"But he's right...He's not Spike..." Anya glared at him...

Spike would never be such a fool...

"Well...Either he's hidden it here somewhere...And it won't matter since he'll get no chance to tell anyone...Or he gave it to someone and they've slipped off...Lets get over to the Seal and see if the First...Or maybe Buffy...Can persuade him...We've got all the pieces now."

Take him...she told the priests...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XVI...



Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...



Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XVI...

At the Summers' home...

"Ok...Lets go..." Willow picked up a bag...Glancing back at the still suspended, rigid form of Amy...

"So...How do we do this?..." Kennedy eyed her...

Willow grinned back...

"Just give me the tightest hug you can and hold on..."

Uhhn...she groaned...Forgot, potential Slayer...

"A..Leetle...Less tight..." she gasped...Kennedy relaxed her grip a tad...

"To Emerald City, fast as lightening..." Willow cackled...

Just kidding...she smiled at Kennedy as they vanished.

***

And reappeared near a large crypt in McGarvey Cemetery...No sign of Will or the others...

Hmmn...Willow looked around... "I thought sure we'd locked on to somebody we knew...I was aiming for just one isolated person to avoid running into Smollett's and the First's merry band..." she explained to Kennedy.

"Miss..." a voice hissed from the trees next to the crypt...

"Clem?..." she called quietly over to the tall demon as he emerged.

"Hi..." he waved...

"Where's William and the other guys...?" Willow looked round...

"Miss Anya and the others took him...She and Miss Dawny's friend are being run by the dead warlock guy...The First is helping him too...William took me to run 'cause we got...This..." he pulled out the crucifix and handed it to Willow.

"Nice job..." Kennedy nodded to him...Yeah...Willow smiled at him...Looking it over...

Thanks...Clem beamed...

"We'd better get to Sunnydale High...They're taking William there...Miss?..."

"Clem?..." Willow stared back...

"Miss Anya said...They'd have the Slayer soon...And the First was nearly ready to join them."



Hmmn...Sounds like tough odds...Willow noted to Kennedy...

"Buffy said she'd wait...Seemed to think she'd be ok...?" Kennedy reminded her.

"I hope so...Cause if they get First's-level Hellpower running to Smollett through the Seal...I doubt even Buffy could resist it..." Willow pondered...

"We'd best not teleport, I think...The First might be expecting that and use the power against us...Clem, is Will's car here?..."

No...he shook his head...

"Ok, I'll call Buffy over...Best if we go in together..." she punched her phone...

"Hey..." Dawn picked up...

"It's Willow..." she eyed Buffy... "Yeah..." she listened...

"Gotcha..." she nodded...And hung up...

"Dawn?..." Willow called into the phone...

What...? Kennedy eyed her...

"She hung up on me after I told her we needed a pick-up here...Didn't give the phone over..." she punched the phone redial several times...Nothing...

"She's still under Smollett's control..." Willow stared at Kennedy... "The amulet had no effect at all..."

"We've gotta get to Sunnydale High...Now...We'll have to risk it, I can't teleport to a moving car...Clem, I can't take us all, you'll hafta hoof it..." he nodded.

"Hold tight..." she turned to Kennedy... "I'm gonna try for a couple of blocks nearby...We'll walk it the rest..."

They vanished...Clem watching...

***

"That's all Willow said...She got the crucifix and she and William'd meet us over there?..." Buffy stared at Dawn from her side as they drove...

Yep...Dawn nodded...She and Will were dodging the others I think...She was about to teleport...We'd better wait for them to call.

Hmmn...Ok...Buffy nodded...

"But we should wait outside for them, Buffy..." Dawn continued... "It's probably not safe to go right on in."

"Yeah...We'll wait..."

I am worried about Xander though...Dawn sighed...And poor Ms. Cree...I wish we could get them out of there first...They could get hurt...

"Maybe we can..." Buffy glanced at her...

***



"Hey, Will..." Xander nodded to him as Anya, Janice and several Harbringers all carrying bags and boxes, followed the two dragging him into the sub-basement...Dawn's bag with The Foot hanging on Anya's shoulder...

"Everything ready...?" Anya eyed Xander and Ms. Cree...They nodded...Ms. Cree staring at the bag...A bit jealously...Anya paused, eyeing her coolly.

"Here..." Anya handed her the bag...A slight glare...

"He wants you to place him...We'll place the pieces..."

Evelyn beamed joyfully...Taking the bag...Anya, Janice, and the Harbringers with pieces began setting them round the room...William in the grip of the two priests with a third now backing them, atched...As Xander watched the door to the sub-basement hallway.

An alarm suddenly blared...The Harbringers paused in confusion...Anya looking at Xander and Ms. Cree...Janice freezing as she set her last piece...William looking round, struggled in the priests' grip...

"It's all right..." Evelyn called to them... "Master says Dawn's brought Buffy to us...Just listen..."

The Foot sent out instructions...They nodded silently as William watched helplessly...Dawn?...

Xander and two Harbringers headed upstairs...Ms. Cree and Anya waited by the Foot...Now out of its bag and resting on a blanket in the middle of a pentagon...Various pieces of Smollett now exposed round it...

The First appeared, in Morphy Buffy form, in front of William...

"Well...William, we're back together again...At last..." she moved to kiss him...He pulled back...

Can't feel you anyway, pet...Why bother...? he eyed her.

"That'll change soon enough..." she leered at him...And turned to The Foot and its waiting minions...

"We're ready now..." she grinned.

***

"Ok!..." Dawn waved to Buffy, racing back down the hall to her as the alarm blared...

Guess they'll have to come up...If only to get rid of the fire department...she grinned.

"Lets hope so...And that I can knock 'em out or Willow can get 'em under...I'm fresh out of amulets..." Buffy sighed.

The alarm went dead...Dawn looked at Buffy...

"Xander, I'd guess..." Buffy nodded.

Well...Dawn shrugged...They'll come looking for us...And the trucks'll be coming...

A door opened somewhere on the floor...Probably from the basement, Buffy noted.

"Buffy!..." Xander called from behind the hallway doors... "I know you and Dawn are up here somewhere...Come on out..."

Right...Dawn grinned at Buffy...

See if you can get him to come here...Buffy hissed...Just open the door and close it, then fall back...



Dawn edged to the door, pushed the bar down, and opened it...Xander and two Harbringers stood in the hallway...And receiving instructions via the Foot, backed off to concealed corners...

"Nobody here yet..." Dawn hissed back to Buffy and opened the door wide...

"Ok...Carefully..." Buffy came up after her...

They moved down slowly, Buffy eyeing the office doorways...

"Xander..." Buffy called...Nodding at Dawn who looked back...

"Xander?..." Dawn joined in...Nothing...Midway, she stopped...

"I guess he's gone to another section or back downstairs..."

She looked behind Buffy, eyes widening... "Buffy!..." she screamed...Buffy whirled...

A Harbringer emerged from a corner...Another scream from Dawn...

Buffy turned to see Dawn held by two, Xander standing by her...

"Give it up Buf..." Xander called... "Or Dawn gets hurt..."

She whirled on the first Harbringer and kicked him back into a door...

Xander and the two holding Dawn fell back down the hall.

"Xander!...Stop this!...I don't wanta hurt you!..." Buffy called...Hurrying after them...

They stopped at the end of the hall, ducking into a classroom...No exit...Buffy went to the door...

"Close enough, Buffy..." Xander eyed her...Dawn still in the priests' grip...She stepped inside...

"Xander...Don't try to fight me..." Buffy shook her head at him...And leapt for the priests...Dawn backing away as they released her...

Buffy hurled one priest into a glass cabinet which shattered...And whirled back...Dawn eyed her coolly as she stood by Xander and the remaining priest.

"Geesh...Way to go, sis...I coulda been hurt, you know..." Dawn frowned...

Dawn...? Buffy gasped...

"Thanks so much for coming to our little coming out party, sis..." Dawn leered...

It wouldn't have been the same without you...

Buffy grabbed her...And dragged her for the door...Anya waiting just outside in the hallway...

"Hi, Buffy..." she smiled at her.

You're right on time...A friend of ours is very anxious to meet you...

"Got all charged up and everything...Just for you..." Dawn grinned, looking up at her sis...As Anya raised The Foot to view...

"Give it to her..." Dawn nodded...Anya stepping forward as Buffy tried to back away, then stopped...Staring at The Foot...



"Don't you like it, sis?...I took a lot of trouble to get it to you..." Dawn smiled at her...As Buffy took The Foot in her hands...Staring at it...

"Yes, Dawn..." Buffy raised her head to look back at her...Smiling coolly...

"I like it very much..."

"I'm so happy for you, sis..." Dawn smiled at her...

***

The Foot That Wouldn't Die...Part XVII...

Rated R..A little bizarre suggestive sex...

Summary: I was watching my favorite crappy horror flick, the "Head That Wouldn't Die" (no, not the one about the lady's head in the lab, this is the one about the English sailor/warlock with hypnotic powers who'd been executed by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 California for playing with dark magic whose head and body await reunion...They've done a lot of similar ones, even on "Dark Shadows") and this one just came to me...Right in the middle of writing six others at once...sigh...

Set after "Potential" so spoilers possible...

***

Part XVII...

Willow and Kennedy stood about a block from Sunnydale High...Fire trucks now scattered around the building...Willow engaged in some chanting, black-eyed...Putting out a distortion field that hopefully would keep the First from pin-pointing them too quickly, she'd briefly explained to her friend.

"What should we do?..." Kennedy stared at the trucks...Willow frowned at her, then sighed...

"Nothing we can do until they go or the guys come out with them...Hafta hope for the best, I guess...If Buf and the others come out with 'em, making some kinda half-assed explanations, we've probably won...If not...It's not too likely Smollett'll let his gang try anything much until the firecrews finish checking things out."

In any case, we'd best be prepared...she pulled out some charms from her bag...

"I don't know if the amulets were too weak or if Amy protected her and Dawn against them, but these should give us some defense...For a bit..."

Depending on how much juice Smollett's getting from the First now, of course...she finished, a bit lamely...

"Of course..." Kennedy gave a dry look...

Best I got, sweetie...Willow sighed...Kennedy suddenly beaming...

"Sweetie, eh...?" she gave the wiccan a sidelong glance, head tilted...

For that, I'll follow you blindly...If even you don't have the slightest idea what you're doing...she grinned.

"I have a slight idea..." Willow replied in mock hurt mode...Handing her the charms...

"Willow...?" Kennedy paused... "What about Buffy?...Do you think...?"

"Buffy trusts Dawn...And thought the amulets would work...Thanks to yours truly..." Willow looked down...



Not your fault...Kennedy rubbed her shoulder...

"I think we'd best assume we may find Buffy in trouble...Maybe working for Smollett's team..." she chanted a bit, turning dark-eyed for a moment as Kennedy watched.

Well...Willow sighed...This should give us some protection...For a while...

But...What can we do...? Kennedy eyed her...

"If Buffy is with them...I can't fight the Slayer...I wouldn't last a minute...Can you, you know...?"

Hex 'em?...she looked at Willow...

"I can try, but the First is involved and she's been able to louse up my power flow before...Guess cause it comes from her side of the Mouth..."

"What about William?...Can we try him?..."

"If Clem's right...And they've got him...Calling him might just give us away..." Willow pondered...

"Look the First didn't catch on to us the first time...With the distortion I've raised, and her pumping up juice to Smollett, maybe she won't catch us a second...Are you game for one more teleport?..." she eyed Kennedy.

"Just as long as it won't hurt you more, Willow..." Kennedy eyed the blood now running from the wiccan's nose.

"Better a lil' nosebleed than lifelong slavery to Smollett and the First..." Willow shook her head and waved...

***

In the sub-basement, around the Seal, having easily deceived the firecrews to avoid the area as they completed their school inspection and began to head out...The First savored her triumph...But was generous in victory...

"Don't worry Dawn..." Morphy Buffy smiled at her as the beaming First Servant stood next to The Foot, set back down in the pentagram by Buffy on arriving... "Your position with Gideon is secure...See, your sister is about to fulfill her destiny and bring me into the world, physical at last...Forever...In her..."

"Buffy is no ordinary Slayer...She is the One I've awaited...Worthy of me...And so..." The First beamed at her fondly... "She will be my physical presence in this world...At last..."

"And Queen of the universe...Your Master as our consort..." she eyed Dawn and the others...

So you'll still be needed as our chief servant...she smiled at Dawn who nodded.

Cool...Janice hissed to her...Standing beside...Best Friend of the First Servant...

The First turned back to Buffy, who at The Foot's command, knelt...She came over and put a hand on her head...Lifted her chin to view her face, grinning...

"Now you see, Buffy...Why I didn't let you be destroyed earlier..."

She motioned for her to rise...

"We're going to be much closer than sisters, you and I, Buffy...When Gideon is fully restored and all my power can be run through him here and transferred to a host...I will take real form in this world in you...We'll be One, as we should always have been...Since Darkness is the source of your strength...And you'll have power little Willow could never have imagined."



And Gideon, once I've taken a physical host here and can fully exploit my power, will learn that he is, after all, just a minion...Though my favored one and Consort...And should remember his place...she thought to herself...

One step behind me...

"Neat, huh...?" she grinned viciously at her twin.

Yeah...Buffy nodded...Returning the same cruel grin.

"That's my girl..." The First patted her shoulder...

"But someone is waiting for us...After fighting so hard to be with us...Shall we go and say hi...?" she motioned Buffy up and led her over to where William watched, feeling for any relaxation on the part of his guards...

Buffy leered at William...Licked a finger and traced it across his lips...Dawn watching with a cruel sneer on her face...

"You can still have me, William...If you agree to serve Master and Mistress...Heck, you can have both Summers girls..." she grinned over at Dawn who smiled...Eyes narrowed, nodding...

"And when Mistress and I are one..." she smiled at her grinning twin... "You might be allowed continued existence as our favorite pet."

But...If you don't...There'll be no one to come and cut your bonds this time...she smiled coldly.

"Or cry over your ashes..."

The First came over, patting her twin...Who gave her a loving glance...

"See, Will...You can't beat me...You can't fight me...In the end...I hafta win..." she grinned evilly...Grinning at Buffy who returned the look...Both turning to face him with the same expression...

"You know..." William smiled at the First...

"You are so dead when she snaps out of this..."

She motioned to Buffy, who slapped him hard...He reeled...

"I know..." Buffy sighed at him... "It's not my fault, love..." she sneered..."But best to get used to it, pet..." she grinned... " 'Cause it's me from now on."

A Harbringer was summoned over...Handed her a dagger...William eyeing her...

"I think..." Buffy gently ran the dagger's edge on his chest... "You and I should have one more time together...Before the First and I join...So you can compare the before and after me properly."

"No need, love..." William stared at her... "I'm sure zombie Buffy won't compare to my girl...Though perhaps she'll outdo the First...Lady is so inexperienced after all...A real can't do, so teaches type if you ask me."

Buffy smiled coldly and shoved the dagger in between a couple of ribs...He gasped... "Was it good for you?..." she cooed...Drawing it out...

"I'll always love you...Dearest..." he shook his head... "And your soul will be free...If I have to kill you with my bare hands later."

"Always...?" Buffy eyed him mockingly... "Like poor Drusilla...Or that other girl...That...What was her name?..."

Your one human love...Before...She looked vague...Me...



"Buffy..." The First stared at her...

"William...?" Buffy whispered...Staring at him...

He stared back at her...Not Buffy's voice...A voice...He hadn't heard in 122 years...

"Cicely...?" he gasped...

Dawn and Anya stared, The Foot equally startled...Wiggled on the floor...

Damn!...The First came over to Buffy...Summoning a couple of Harbringers...

"Gideon...!...A little more effort here, please..." she glared to the Foot which attempted to hop over, eager to comply...

A mildly embarrassed Dawn...Master, please...A little dignity...she thought...Picked up The Foot and held it up, carrying it over near Buffy...Now with Harbringers holding her...

Buffy started wildly then calmed almost instantly as she stared at The Foot...

She nodded and Dawn carried it back to its resting place...

The First eyed Will...

"Well...So now you know..."

He stared back at her...Know?...

"She tried so hard to save you, Walthrop...Even that night in 1880, Cicely was trying to save you...Your poor wife...So terrified by the danger she'd put her poor poet in by marrying him...A fool for love, that was her...Like you..."

"Cicely...Cicely..." he called at Buffy who was still now...Looking blank...

Married?...Dawn, Anya, Janice, and Xander all looked at each other...The Foot, equally curious, probing them all for info...

"Story's simple enough, Gideon..." the First waved...

"Cicely Addams married this fool of a poet in 1880...But being the Slayer..." she smiled at Buffy, still blank... "She decided she couldn't keep him...And called on our Anya's dear friend, Halfreck, to drive him away, taking her form..."

Pity you never knew your own Watcher betrayed you, sweetie...she viciously grinned at Buffy...

"He cut a deal with D'Hoffryn and Halfreck behind your...Cicely's...Back and arranged for our favorite poet to meet up with his insane vampire mum..."

But score one for love...William the soul refused to let go...Hung on like grim death to Spike, for 122 years...Hoping his Cicely would come for him...

"And lucky man..." Morphy Buffy grinned at Will... "She finally found a way back to you...Even managed to avoid destroying Spike until you won back control...First the chip to let you in a little, then all the way...Quite a love story, eh guys...Gideon?..."

Over now, though...she sneered...Even the two of them can't block me out...she eyed Buffy, now grinning at her again...A mirror image...

"Though we will keep you as a pet...And maybe...I'll use my Cicely voice once in a while..." Buffy finished...Coming back over to William...

"Eh, lamb?..." she cooed.



Enough for now...The First glared at Will...

"We'll finish with him later...As One..." Buffy nodded and stepped back.

My dear Master...Dawn shook her head...As did Anya...Who'd of thought...

"Didn't Halfreck ever mention it?..." Dawn hissed...Not a word...Anya replied...Though she did recognize William that one time...

"Gideon...Feel your lost selves...Your time has come...By my grant..." the First intoned...

"Dawn...Take him until the rest of the Body is ready..." she looked over...Dawn hastily moved into the pentagram and carried the Foot out...

"Anya, Janice, What's your name?..." the First eyed Xander... "Go and remove the remaining charms around the pieces..." They bowed heads and begin taking off the sacks and any charms around the pieces...Anya pulling the Head out of its box...

The pieces by the Foot now flew together, some breaking through the boxes they'd been buried in, as soon as the charms had been removed...

Disgusting...Kennedy noted quietly to Willow...From the long pipe above the Seal area she and Willow had materialized on...As the bits massed together...A blue glow round them...

The First leered in triumph...And looked up...

Oh-oh...Kennedy shoved Willow back and hopped down...

"Ta-da..." she landed on her feet, and gave a slight bow.

All stared at her...Then back where the pieces were now all joined...

A body took shape...A distinguished-looking Englishman, with a fair touch of Errol Flynn...

"Grab her!!!..." Morphy Buffy furiously shrieked...Buffy, Dawn, and the others joining all the Harbringers but the three around William to surround Kennedy who stumbled back into Anya's arms...And was held fast, two Harbringers taking over...

"Where's Willow...?" Dawn glared at Kennedy, turning back to the First and Buffy now beside her...

"Make her talk...!" she looked at Buffy...

"Yeah..." the First looked at Buffy, then Dawn...Ummn...

"Way to go, future sis...But...I give the orders round here..." she gave a rather kindly smile...

Not wishing to damp that youthful enthusiasm...Sure to prove amusing in later days...Dawn nodded...Sorry, she noted...Just concerned everything goes to plan...

Buffy came up to Kennedy who tried to fall back...Ready to begin the interrogation...

"Oh, shoot..." the First stared back at the now-fully formed Body...

"Never mind, Buffy...Let Gideon take her..."

The Body sat up...Buffy, Dawn, Ms. Cree, Xander, Janice all turning to eye him with fervent looks of devotion.

It waved at Dawn, giving her a smile...The First grinning viciously at William...Buffy, sensing a command, now giving him the same grin...William looked away, then at Dawn...Then Kennedy who simply stared back...



Dawn reverently brought The Foot over...And bent down to place it against the stump of The Body's ankle...

"At last...!" the man stood up...

"My dear..." he gallantly bowed to the First... "My deepest thanks...And of course, my eternal devotion..."

And you, my dearest servant...he put a hand out to take Dawn's chin...Stroking her hair...

The other servants watching with clear jealously, Buffy's as raging as the rest...

He turned to William...

"After more than 400 years, Evil still lives!!...And Gideon Smollett has kept his word...I live again!!..."

Sadly, boy...he smiled at the vampire...

"You do not..."

Such a fool as you...he shook his head...To abandon Immortality and all that Hell can offer...When you at last have a free will to choose it...

"Not to mention..." he smiled over at Buffy...Who beamed under his gaze...

"But...Before I have you destroyed by the woman who brought you to this low condition...I myself desire to taste blood again..."

If I may...he bowed again to Morphy Buffy who inclined her head...That's the respect I expect, Gideon...she nodded...He picked up one of the Harbringers' daggers...

"So...Who shall it be...?" he eyed his servants...

Certainly not my devoted First Servant...he smiled at Dawn who bowed...

Nor my Slayer...he eyed Buffy...Who gave him a seductive smile...

"Our...Slayer..." The First hissed... "And my future home..."

Sorry...He nodded deferentially...

He eyed Xander...

"You are my Gift to my other servants...I must keep you..." Xander bowed...

And you, my dear...He patted Evelyn...

"You will help me to secure those who expand my empire into this vast New World..."

Oh, yeah...Evelyn eagerly nodded...

"Our...Empire...Smollett..." the First glared...

"Sorry..."

"Leaving...Only you, my poor girl..." he eyed Kennedy...

"My...Why you are quite well defended against me, aren't you?..." he smiled...Looking over to the First...



"I must say...I can't wait to meet your wiccan friend, Miss Rosenberg...A powerful witch indeed."

Sadly...Your feeble protections will keep your mind free a little longer...So that I will not be able to allow you to enjoy your sacrifice as they would...he waved at his servants gathered round...Anya, Janice, an adoring Dawn, Xander, Ms. Cree...Buffy off slightly to one side with the First...

"Screw you, Foot-face..." she glared...

He tensed with rage, the servants, including Buffy, hissing at her...

She has spirit, the First noted...Would've made quite a Slayer...

"And now...Will make quite a corpse..." Smollett beamed, raising his dagger...

Cut her loose...he told the priest near them...

She tensed...But...Stiffened...

The First grinned...

"I said your mind was still free, dear...Not your body..." Smollett smiled.

Kennedy nodded, a smile forced on her face...And put her hands down...Awaiting the blow patiently...

"Will!..." Willow cried from above...Tossing the crucifix to him as his bonds dissolved...

The First looked in shock and rage...Rosenberg...! Damn it, I knew she'd be trouble!...

The crucifix burned in his hands but he forced it up to face Smollett who whirled on him...

Arghh...!...Smollett clapped his hands to burning eyes in horror...And fell back onto the floor...Will tossing the crucifix onto his body...Which dissolved in a burst of steam and smoke...The human servants crying out...

Shit!...Morphy Buffy leaped to her feet in rage...Collapsing from the enormous loss of power...

"Kill them all!..." she screamed from the floor to her few remaining Harbringers.

"Corpus mundi, give her form...!" Willow cried...The severely weakened First helpless to fight off the spell...

Oh...No...Morphy Buffy felt herself...Corporeal...Human...

Vincible...

Buffy left the Harbringers to the others...Easily dealt with by the furious Xander, William, Kennedy, Dawn, with rather enthusiastic help from a raging Evelyn...Locking onto the target.

The battered First backed away from her...Terrified for the first time since...Ever...

"You can't kill me...I'm The First...I've always been...Always will be..."

I'm a part of you...All of you...You'll never be rid of me...!

"We know..." Buffy eyed her twin coolly...

But the balance will be restored...And you'll be back to operating solely from Hell...Through those you can win over here...No more wandering the Earth...



"I'm human now..." Morphy noted... "You can't kill me..."

Oh...? Buffy eyed her...

"Aren't you forgetting that 'your strength comes from Darkness' bit"?...she moved on her...

"I agree...Lets see just how Dark I can be...Without your boyfriend's persuasion..."

"Buffy..." Willow called...

Don't...

She grabbed her twin by the throat...

"Cicely..." William called...

Please don't...Darling...

A ghastly look on Buffy's face...Somehow even worse than the grin she'd worn under Smollett's gentle guidance...

"She...Hurt...You...Made...Me...Hurt...You...!" Buffy ground out...As she choked the battered First, lifting her off the ground...

"If you kill her, love...She's free..." William noted...

Back to Hell and begin regrouping...

"Will's right, Buffy..." Willow called...

I have a better way...

Both Buffies turned to look at her...The First desperately squirming in Buffy's grip...

***

A gaggle of excitedly babbling SITs, followed by a very weary Chairman Giles, entered the Summers home...

Andrew beside Giles...Griping...

"I don't know why I had to sit in back with them the whole time..."

"So that they could kill you easily if you became an Evil nuisance again, Andrew..." Giles patiently explained.

Oh...Right...he nodded.

And stared at two Buffies standing in the middle of the Summers' living room...One dark-haired, looking a bit dazed...

Giles stared, equally startled...The SITs stared, shocked into silence...

"Giles..." blonde Buffy nodded...

"Meet my 'cousin' Anne...Just moved here from Chicago..."

Hi...brunette Buffy waved wanly...

"Anne and her family were in a terrible accident recently...And she's just starting to piece her old memories back together..."

My mom and dad were killed...Anne noted...Blinking...



"So after I got out of the hospital...Buffy invited me to stay with her here...In..." she looked at Buffy wanly...

"Sunnydale..." Buffy patiently told her...

Yeah...Anne nodded.

Giles stared at a silent but slightly sly-looking Willow...And Kennedy...

"I see...So has there been any more...Trouble?...Since we left..."

"Just a little puzzle we had to...Piece together..." Buffy grinned at Dawn as she came out of the kitchen...Clearly still a little skittish around "Anne"...

"I loved my mom and dad..." Anne told Andrew quietly as he and the SITs came over to say hi...

I have bad dreams cause of what happened...she paused...Looking over to Willow...Who nodded...

"But she's coming along just fine..." Willow beamed.

"Buffy..." Giles stood by her as the SITs and Andrew engaged "Anne" in conversation, Willow and Kennedy keeping a close watch...

"Is that who I think it is...?"

Hmm-hmmn...Buffy nodded...

"My cousin... "Anne"...From Chicago...In the corporeal flesh...Courtesy Willow..."

I see...Giles nodded...

***

"Anne" seeming to be rather taken with Andrew's nerdspeak...Was content to sit with him in the living room under Kennedy's and a few SITs' surveillance...Not that there was any reason to worry about "Anne", just that she occasionally got dizzy or spaced out a little...

"I sense the blooming of a great romance..." Willow smiled...Eyeing the babbling Andrew and shy "Anne" from the Summers' kitchen entrance...

And they both need a little stability in their lives.

"Is it safe to leave her running around free...Maybe to hook up with him...?" Xander eyed the couple before them...

She was using him before...She might again.

"So?...He'll just be one more weak-kneed husband pushed around by his wife..." Willow noted.

"I think it's a match made...On Earth..."

And she'll supply that drive and ambition our Andrew's been lacking to keep him from success...In non-magics fields...I'll see to that...she eyed the others...William, Anya, Xander, and a somewhat nervous-looking Amy...(Hi, Mr. Giles...she nodded)...In the kitchen now joined by herself, Buffy, Giles, and Dawn...Buffy moving hurriedly over to hug William...Giles frowning slightly at that...

"But..." The new Chairman paused from his glare at his new Hellmouth Watcher and Slayer team...The soon-to-be Walthrops...

"She's the First Evil...In corporeal, human form, I grant you...But surely her immortal essence..."



"Is trapped here...When she lost her gamble on Smollett, she dissipated her strength..." Willow grinned... "I just twisted her own corporealization ritual back on her...And a memory spell did the rest."

"She'll return to Hell one day, if she really wants to...When she dies a normal, ordinary death...After living a normal, ordinary life...Though I doubt she'll have the chance to try and mess with Humanity and the Slayers again...At least not for eons...She took quite a power drain...The Mouth itself is practically dead..."

And...Heck...Willow smiled at Dawn...Who looked anywhere else she could... "We gave her what she wanted...Physical existence in this world."

She may even find it...Pleasant...Just a leetle more "hum-drum" than she was expecting...

"Hardly call "cousin of the Slayer" hum-drum, Red..." Will remarked...Kissing Buffy gently...

"How's about husband of the Slayer...?" Buffy pulled back, eyeing him...Willow and Dawn eyeing each other...Well, whatyagonna do...?

"A heavy burden...But after all, Cicely..." he grinned...

We are married...

Indeed, William...Buffy replied in British accent...

"Cicely?..." Giles stared at Willow and Dawn...

Married...?

"Let me explain it to you, Giles..." Dawn began...

***

Go Back