"You Only Live Thrice..." Part I...



PG13



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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html

Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...



Now c'mon you get it about the 'thrice'...And you know which of them I'm talking about...

(Hey it gives me an excuse to use my favorite JB film theme...)

***



Part I...



LA...



The tragic day after...

Stunned-looking police, fire, rescue, and military teams picking through the debris of the battered streets around the shattered Wolfram-Hart Tower building...Although most fires were out or under control now... Ruin and desolation everywhere...

Though fortunately and rather the most startling thing...Confined to an area of only ten blocks...With relatively few casualties...

Human, that is...

However there seemed to be an astonishing amount of what appeared to certainly be...Gore... about...

Poor animals...Though where so many might have come from?...No damage to the local zoos having been reported...And while it was hard to id just what sort of animals had been killed, some must have once been fairly large...

In the midst of these sad events, speaking gravely to several of the senior commanders of the said teams, reporters, and the first politicos brave, ambitious, or foolhardy enough to come, and apparently only moderately wounded during the bizarre 'natural disaster', the CEO of Wolfram-Hart, LA...Mr. Liam Angel...

Supposed (They wouldn't have made him CEO if he weren't, right?) attorney-at-law...

Near him, likewise grave, though surprisingly freshly dressed and made-up...The scientific director of Wolfram-Hart, LA, Dr. Winifred Burkle...Who as yet was following her chief's lead in refusing to speculate on the cause of the disaster...Her only volunteered information being that, yes, a senior member of the firm, Mr. Charles Gunn (Likewise supposed attorney-at-law), had indeed been rushed by her to LA General with severe injuries, though he was expected to survive...

And close by, looking equally grave, if not graver...A mysterious...At least to several reporters trying to determine her connection to the famed Mr. Angel...Blonde-haired, slight young woman in badly rumpled, though clearly once stylish, clothes...Who, occasionally intruding on the reporters' questioning of Mr. Angel with harshly whispered questions to the Wolfram-Hart chief, seemed to be seeking someone lost in the tragic...Localized earthquake?...Underground explosion?...Unconfirmed terrorist attack?...

"William..." one reporter had caught the name from her whisper as she'd again shoved past the circle around Mr. Angel... Mr. Angel nodding to her and speaking briefly, likewise in whispered tones...

Probably some nobody asking about her missing boyfriend or hubbies working' late...An older reporter shrugged to her colleague as he returned with the info...Both eyeing the young woman as she hurried off yet again with anxious look...Ignoring calls from the various rescue personnel not to proceed into the disaster area...One senior rescue commander moving to Mr. Angel with a stern look...Angel speaking to him, apparently trying to reassure him as to the safety of the young lady...

A young, twenties-ish camerawoman filming near the two reporters, though not recognized by them, broke off to move back to her waiting van...Getting more film, she noted to one policeman warning her to stay within the designated area, as she climbed into the back of her van...

And on closing the rear door, in solitude allowed her?...his?...Its?...shape to lose its human features and take a nondescript, though upright and cohesive, gelatinous form...

He?...She?...It...Moving...Flowing might be a better way to describe it...Toward a large, gray metal, rectangular box-like object on the left side of the van...The object in question, a generator of some sort which the creature now extended protrusions toward...Protrusions from its main mass which resume form identical to the hands of what had appeared to be a young camerawoman just moments before...The generator, activated, emitted a hum, and the creature resumed human form...

The 'young woman' sighing contentedly...Was getting a bit much, that wait for a recharge...

She moved to the front of the van, pausing as she reached the point where she could be seen through the windshield to wave at the policeman who warned her earlier...And reached to grab a cell phone on the passenger's seat...Which she unfolded and activated, punching out a quick number...

"Your Benevolence...We can proceed...Phase Two has gone as well as hoped...The other Partners' army has been routed and they have been driven back to Hell...And I've no doubt William the Bloody at least is no more..." the shapeshifter told her?...his?...Phone... "Even Ms. Summers can't..." it paused...Staring out the windshield...

The young blonde was walking slowly back through the ruins, ignoring the harsh cries of several rescue and military personnel demanding to know why she was not complying with the order to proceed to the designated area for evaluation of injuries and transport out of the area and clutching a battered leather jacket in her hands...Looking dazedly over at Angel as he called to her...The shapeshifting camerawoman emerging from her van's driver's side...Hastily focusing her camera on the woman...

"Buffy?!..."

Dr. Burkle looking over as well...

"William?..." Dr. Burkle looked to Angel...Who quickly pushed past the crowd about him, making his way to the young woman addressed as "Buffy"...He stood in front of her as she stared at him...

"Why...Why didn't you tell me?..." Buffy said simply...Then turned and walked off, again ignoring Angel's calls and the commands addressed to her, shoving one soldier who tried to grab her off to the side...

The two reporters and the shapeshifter now beside them watching as she disappeared behind a building...Jacket in hand...

Angel looking forlorn and shattered... "I'll go..." Dr. Burkle told him, hurrying off after Buffy, and once hidden by the turn of a corner, with a quickly developing speed that astonished those few who caught sight of her...

Though not so much as her sudden change of clothes and hair color...

"Where the hell are they going?...Maybe we oughta..." the younger reporter stared at his colleagues...The older reporter shrugging...No point in chasing after some deceased nobody's wifey or girlfriend...Nice of a senior staffer to want to console her though...



"Jesus...Forgot my damn battery..." the 'camerawoman' noted to the reporters...Hurrying off to her? van and climbing in...

"Your Benevolence...I have excellent news to report..." the shifter beamed at his?...her?...Phone...

Play

***

Same time, Europe...Evening...



A small principality on the Austrian-Italian border...Hardly ever mentioned in the media though occasionally referred to by historians as the site of a couple of long-forgotten battles only important to true buffs...Even most of the citizens of its larger neighbors unaware of its continued independent existence...

Yet a surprisingly well-defended little state...Its network of friendly if unusually conscientious border guard positions only concealing the much more elaborate and sophisticated military defenses just beyond the immediate border zone...Helped considerably both in defense and the concealment of such defense by the ruggedness of the terrain...Terrain so mountainous and rough it had never been sought after by Europe's numerous would-be conquerors, though on rare occasions, armies on their way elsewhere had tramped through...Generally without incident...

Excepting two or three occasions where a vague curiosity or desire for plunder had led them to take more interest in and, shortly, to regret ever visiting the place...

If anyone survived to regret...

Near the center of the small state, only a few square miles of territory in all, a large and ancient estate with enormous grounds and a rather grim though beautiful in its way central castle/fortress...

Where just now, on a small landing strip within the castle gates, a large helicopter was currently setting down...Its whirling blades churning clouds of dry dust for a few moments until they finally quieted and stopped...

The door of the copter on the opposite side from the pilot opening to allow a large and striking figure to emerge...

That of His Benevolence, the famed Immortal...A tall, dark-haired, and devastatingly handsome man of about thirty in appearance, bearing a striking resemblance to actor Jude Law...Dressed impeccably in Italian suit and shoes, his large white overcoat being taken from him by the figure, in appearance an elderly butler, who had stood rather dangerously close to the landing spot throughout the copter's descent...

"All well, Roberts?..." the Immortal smiled...Benevolently...At the elderly butler...Who nodded slightly...

"As always, sir...I trust things went well in Rome and elsewhere, sir..." the two moved away from the helicopter to a doorway set in a small structure...The butler opening it with a quick move and holding it open...

"Thank you, Roberts...Things went reasonably well in Rome...And elsewhere, reasonably so, Roberts..." His Benevolence paused...

"Has there by any chance been word from Ms. Summers in America?..."

"Yes, sir..." Roberts nodded... "A telephone message confirming that she had arrived safely and that she was quite well..."

"Anything else?..."

"No, sir..." The two were descending a long flight of stairs...

"Well...I fear we may have some need to offer comfort, Roberts...I've heard there has been some unfortunate news from the City of Angel...Angels..." His Benevolence smiled briefly...

"I see, sir..."



"It is a tragedy when a great love story comes to an end, Roberts..." a slightly less than benevolent grin...

"Indeed, sir..."

***

London...About ten hours later...



"Here we go...A little more..." a silky female voice...Belonging to a rather silky-haired young brunette...

"No more, please..." a pleading voice...

"Now, now...Just one more and we're done..." another woman's voice...Teasing yet with an undercurrent...Belonging to a second dark-haired young woman...

"Ladies, have mercy..."

"Oh, now...You're going to hurt Claire's feelings, William..." the first woman noted... "She cooked this specially for you...It's loaded with every nutrient a vampire could possibly make use of...She spent hours working it out..." she smiled at the figure in his hospital bed...A bandaged and somewhat battered, though very much Undead William Soames Walthrop...aka William the Bloody, presoul recovery...

"Lass...I'm full..." William sighed... "Dawn, please...Between the blood IV and this I'm really fine..." he paused as Dawn frowned at him...

"Ok..." she relented... "Gong Li, you can let him off for now..." Gong Li frowning now in her turn but reluctantly taking the plate from his bed tray and heading out the door...

"Where is she?..." he eyed Dawn who shook her head...

"Busy..." a narrow look...

"Busy?...What?..."

"You were too busy to hop a plane or call her for a year...What's your beef?..." the girl glared...

"I...Was..."

"Busy?..." Dawn said, sarcastically... "Well, so's Mother...You're lucky she found time to run over to LA and save your ass..."

"Dawn, look...I thought..."

"We know what you thought, you stupid jerk...Just thank God Giles' and Angel's plan worked...Though things are still in a pretty mess causea you..."

Mother?...The thought suddenly hit...

"Dawn, what the hell's going on?...Why did you have me brought here to London?...And where the hell is Buffy?..."

"Doesn't she want to see me?..."

"Gee..." Dawn... "How could she not after all the trouble you went to to let her know you were alive...Well, not fully dead...?"

"Dawn..."

She put up a hand... "There's someone who'll explain it all to you...Including when you may get to see Buffy...If she's not dead by then..." another frown... She picked up a phone on a small table by his bed... "He's ready..."

There was an almost instantaneous buzz at the room's door...She went over and opened it to reveal Gong Li pushing a wheelchair...



"I don't need that..." he frowned, throwing back covers and starting to...Oops...

"Till one of our people combing LA finds your right leg or we get you an artificial one, you do..." Dawn noted calmly...

But a slight flushed look on her face as she eyed the remnant of thigh...

"Come on, we'll take you..." she went to him...

And to his shocked surprise, suddenly kissed him...Then, with Gong Li on his other side, hoisted him and transferred him from bed to chair...

"There..." she hastily pulled a blanket over his lap, concealing the missing leg...Turning her face away from him...

"You ok, William?..." Gong Li asked anxiously... "We're not exactly balanced, I know..."

"Yeah...It's fine, Slayer..." he nodded absently...

Dawn?...

Crying?....For me?...

"Dawn...?"

"What?..." she said curtly, turning back...

"Lets get him in..." she waved to Gong Li and followed as the other pushed him out of the room and into a bright hallway...

Definitely a hospital of some sort, he noted as they moved along...But interesting that there are no windows...He looked into one open room to see something in bed definitely not human...

"This some sort of holding place for demons?...A Council prison hospital?..." he looked at Dawn as she walked beside him...

"Why?...You screw your redemption up so well over the last year that you'd deserve prison?...Not that you don't deserve it for Harmony alone..."

"Did that brooding louse of an Angel...?" he glared... "It was spur of the moment after I turned solid again..." he tried... "It didn't mean..."

"Quit while you're ahead..." Dawn muttered grimly as they stopped by a door no different that he could see from any in the long hallway they'd come...

Gong Li moving to open the door... "See ya...Dad..." Dawn called as she pushed him into the dark room and Gong Li shut the door behind him ...

He sat in the chair, blinking...

Dad...?

A light snapped on, his eyes immediately locked onto the large swivel chair behind the desk in front of him...The chair turning round...

He stared at the seated figure in the swivel chair...A somewhat wild-haired young man in suit...Holding a large white-furred cat in his hands which he stroked...

"So...We meet again, Mr. Blond...And once again you've interfered with the plans of the Council of Watchers..."

"Andrew?..." William stared at him...

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part II...



PG13



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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html

Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

Now c'mon you get it about the 'thrice'...And you know which of them I'm talking about...

(Hey it gives me an excuse to use my favorite JB film theme...)

***

LA...By the smoldering ruins of the Wolfram-Hart Tower...Reporters, camera crews, rescue teams, police, and military still swarming about, though the authorities clearly in more control of the situation...

Morning...



Or, mourning, one might say...Given the black clothes worn by Angel, Nina, Buffy, Illyria, Giles, Xander, Connor, and a phalanx of Slayers bearing sorrowful expressions as they stood in a hastily constructed tent shelter...

"Sorry...Private ceremony for a few of our employees..." a Slayer held back a reporter who'd made his third attempt to enter the area... "Mr. Angel will make a statement later..."

Several camera crews, including the 'young woman' shapeshifter, filming the group from beyond the security ring of guards...Including a number of surprisingly strong young women...

"I've found out who the girl is..." the young male reporter from the previous night addressed his older, female colleague...Both weary from all-night duty but determined to see the story through...

Both a bit surprised to see the young camerawoman who'd likewise been about the whole time still apparently fresh as a daisy...Clothes as well...

"Oh?..." the older reporter eyed her colleague...

"A Buffy Summers...A 'close friend' of Count Henri d'Vestigy, the writer and industrialist...The one they call 'The Immortal'...And a former 'close friend' of Liam Angel as well..."

"That one?..." the woman eyed Buffy in her black dress, complete with veil...Dr. Burkle beside her in an exactly matching outfit... "Really?...Kid moves in the big leagues..."

"So who would she be here for?...Who's this 'William' she asked Mr. Angel about?"

"Brother, cousin...Ex- or Ole boyfriend she can't quite let go of...Who knows?...Maybe it's Mr. Wyndham-Price, the VP she came for..."

"I'm gonna try to talk to her after the ceremony...Say, it's a bit rushed, isn't it?...They haven't even issued a list of the dead and wounded yet..."

"Guess they're anxious to get through it and move on...I hear there's a lot going on with Wolfram-Hart, Europe...Angel must need to get rolling on things...Theinvestigation alone'll tie them up for months..."

"Yeah...Pretty girl..." the younger reporter noted, watching Buffy wiping her eyes as Mr. Angel moved to a lectern set up in front...Coughing as he tried to begin reading a hastily-written eulogy...Dr. Burkle now weeping rather heavily...

"Say, why do they call D'Vestigy 'the Immortal'?...He's only thirty or so, right...?"

"I hear his family's been a big wheel for centuries in Europe...Aristocrats...Always an Henri D to run things for each generation...And they all look like each other...Inbred, I guess..."

"Inbreeding...Gotta watch that..." the male reporter nodded thoughtfully... "Though he seems to have dodged any problems..."

"And then some, from what I've seen of him..." the other gave a smile that belied her years...

***



London...Secret medical facility of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...

Office of the new Assistant Vice Chairman for Field Operations...Code name "W"...



"Andrew?...You're saying...Rome was all a set-up?..." William in his wheelchair glared at Andrew in swivel chair behind desk...

"'W', please Mr. Walthrop..." "W" firmly insisted, patting his white cat... "Yes, we know your name...Buffy found it in the main archives...Which fortunately were not kept in the old Antiquarian Hall building..."

"And yes, Rome was an intelligence-gathering operation...Which you and Angel very nearly compromised...Of course we hadn't been able to establish safe continual communication with Angel at that time..."

"Intelligence on the Immortal...?" Hmmn...Will smiled...So...

She really didn't...Doesn't...All this time, she...

Uh, boy...And Dawn knew about Harmony...I'm in for it...Still, focus on the good news...

"So His Benevolence is actually a hideously malignant pustule of Evil...A monster who must be destroyed without mercy...And our Buffy is on his trail..."

Only question being...Why isn't pretty-boy dead yet?...

"Not exactly Evil, Spike...That's part of the problem...If he were pure Evil we could act against him..."

"But if he was a Partner, as you just said..."

"He kept us informed as to their actions, William...It's how we were able to intervene and save you...Claimed he was merely trying to be in a position to warn us of their operations and help stop them..."

"But you don't trust him...?"

"We believe His Benevolence doesn't have any intention of destroying the world or Humanity...In fact, he wishes to save it...And rule forever with Humanity's fervid blessing..."

"Sounds a bit like your Council and Slayers..." Will noted...

"W" bristled a bit in his chair...His cat likewise hissed a bit at the offender...

"We don't rule...Openly...Democracy survives...In some countries...And at least people still get to have their own murderous, corrupt tyrants rather than have them imposed..."

"Ala Mr. Bush?..."

"Politics isn't our sphere, William..." Andrew waved a hand... "But His Benevolence seeks to rule all...Supposedly, and perhaps to his own mind, for the good of all...Playing on Humanity's fears and weaknesses to impose himself as the world's absolute, if benevolent, master..."

"Ah, another Jasmine...Angel tole me about her...Sounded like a good deal...A few hundred people a year in exchange for world peace and prosperity...Cheaper than what the Iraqis are paying right now, certainly...He should just run for President of the US, as a naturalized Undead American he'd have my vote..."

"William..."

"Ah, right the citizenship thing..."

"Spike..."

"Just pullin' your leg, Wells...er..."W"...Me being short one just now..." he patted the blanket... "I'm a soul-restored Englishman, after all...And we were fighting for democracy and representative government while most of you lot were still on our side of the pond...So, His Benevolence is full of it..." he beamed... "Well, such a clever fiend playing on Humanity's fears must be stopped..."

Painfully, if necessary...Preferably...

"And Buffy really doesn't...?"

"Mr. Walthrop?...Would Buffy Summers cheat on her own beloved husband, unlike said husband?...Knowing he was Undead, if a cowardly idiot?..."

Will blinked...

Husband?...

Ummn...Some sort of spiritual thing, maybe?...Why, Summers, that's...

Uh-oh...A thought struck him...

"Andrew...I know Buffy and I got pretty drunk that one night after she resurrected but I'm sure..."

"W" frowned...

"She thought you might try to back out of it...So Mrs. Walthrop asked me to give you this..." he reached to his desk and handed him a very old and faded certificate...

A certificate of marriage...Will saw...Dated...March 11th, 1880...His eyes drawn to the two signatures at bottom...

Mr. William Soames Walthrop...

Miss Cicely Anne Addams...

Cicely?...

He stared at "W" who smiled archly, stroking his cat...Who, tired of the stroking now hissed and ..."Ow!..." scratched a bit as it jumped from his lap...Scowling at "W" from his desk as "W" shook and sucked his scratched fingers...Stupid cat...

"Cicely...? But..."

"Lady went to some time and trouble to save you...Several times, William...Since you're still behind her on the scorecard, not to mention...Family...We're hoping you might return the favor again...And maybe save Humanity from becoming the cherished pets of a well-meaning, benevolent dictator..."

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part III...



P.G. 13

Summary:

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

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

Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html



Part III...

London...Secret medical facility of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...

One week later...

[Theme from "The Prisoner" Play]

Corridor door is thrown open with a loud crash by the steel front of a motorized wheelchair thrusting through...

William is seen zipping angrily down the corridor on said chair...(Still a bit wobbly on his new, artificial right leg)...A hard look in his eye, a scowl on his face... The cat, (actually one of the Slayers'), from "W"'s office the other day, cradled gently in his free right hand...He pauses at the door of the office of the Assistant Vice Chairman for Field Operations, throwing it open... "W" contentedly eyeing a mound of paperwork, staring up from his desk in surprise...Setting down a tea cup...

"William?...Hey, how's the new leg?..."

Holding cat gently in one hand, Will pounds the desk...

"Andrew!...."

"Hey, you broke my cup!...Spike?...What's..."

"Listen, you little...I've been here seven days and you people haven't told me diddly-squat, since you showed me that wedding certificate...You said then Buffy's learned she's my Cicely reborn, that she was undercover more or...Hopefully less and not literally... with the Immortal, maybe in or at least near, danger… Most important of all, that she loved and loves me, wants and needs my help, and you've left me stewing since...No one's telling me anything..."

"We didn't know what we'd do about your leg and the extent of your other injuries…You needed rest, William...Buffy herself ordered..."

Will holding the squirming cat, claws extending, points it at Andrew...

"Well, I've rested and I've got a lovely new plastic and metal leg…I'm fine…Now... The cat and I want some answers, "W"..." he glares...

"So, Walthrop…You expect me to talk?..." narrowly firm look suitable to an Assistant Vice Chairman...Though an unavoidable quick glance to the cat, apparently quite eager to make contact...

"Andrew?...You want a face full of angry cat?..." Will thrusts the hissing cat at his face... "Or?..."



Rrrear!!!...

"Ok, ok...Take it away!..." "W" begs, whimpering a little as he crouches in his chair...

The cat withdrawn...Clearly disappointed at missing its chance...

"Well...?"

"Well, I was gonna brief you in a little while anyway, Spike...I just had to wait for the Chairman's permission...I'm under orders here...And there are...Special concerns..." he noted solemnly...

"Where is Giles, anyway?...And Dawn?...She hasn't been to see me since she brought me to you... And what did she mean by calling me, 'Dad' before she left?..."

"The Chairman was in LA...For your 'funeral'...And coordinating things with Angel...Dawn had to return to Rome to avoid rousing suspicion..."

"And you are her father, William...Spiritually..."

"What?!..." Rrrear!!...the cat snarled again at Andrew as Will absent-mindedly moved closer..."Ahhh!..." "Oh, sorry..." he pulled it back...

"She was the child Cicely bore in 1880..." "W" explained… "Well, the soul of the child she died bearing...Buffy learned about her in the archives...As soon as she realized Cicely had borne a girl, she knew...Though we did some aural checking and so far as we can determine the monks summoned..."

"My daughter?...Cicely had a daughter?..."

"She was poisoned along with Cicely...By Cicely's Watcher, to prevent her from reaching you...As Spike..."

"Watcher?..." Will glared...Uh-oh, he's really upset...Almost looks healthily pink, Andrew blinked at him... "You mean you people poisoned my wife?!...My little girl?!..."

"The Watcher did...We think out of jealously...Though he did have the approval of the Council of the day..." "W" backed away in his chair as Will came closer, cat in hand...

"They thought it was their duty...To have a Slayer who'd be spending all her time chasing a vampire husband, maybe being transformed by the same...Not conducive to Humanity's salvation...Though the Watcher's motives were purely..."

"Who was this pervert Watcher, for God's sake?..."

"Spike, he's long dead...Cicely's cousin killed him just a couple of years later..."

"Just tell me where can I uproot his corpse, bring him back, and tear him limb from limb…Wait?...Henry?...My friend Henry killed him?...God rest his noble soul, always a good mate, Henry..." Will smiled a moment, then frowned... "But who?..."

"Simon Duncan Farris..."

"Farris...The old gent who sold her antiques?..."

"'Fraid so...He was the one who got her to use Halfreck to drive you off...She was afraid her poetic secret husband would be killed or transformed..."

"Well, thank God her brilliant scheme succeeded and I was saved, eh?..." Will frowned..."Do you lot really have any proof of all this?..."

"Ah..." "W" nodded solemnly, cat withdrawal allowing recovery of aplomb ... "Yes...It is time for you to view the archives...How's the leg doing, by the way?..."

"I'm gettin' used to it...Angel says his people are still searching just in case and Illyria has the remaining science boys working on vampiral limb regeneration...Why hasn't she called?..."



"You're supposed to be dead...As in no longer on Earth, dead...For your own protection...And she's undercover...How can she pick up a phone and call you?...And there are...Concerns, Spike..." "W" gave a hard stare...

"Can't she use her secret two-way TV wristwatch?..."

"Spike...This is England...We don't have the cash for that sort of thing...Any way, she'll be in touch as she can...She just wanted you to have a little time to absorb everything...She did send this card just today..." he reached into his desk, pulled out an envelope addressed to "Mr. Andrew Wells…"...William grabbing it...

"Hmmn... 'My sweet Will...You cowardly jackass!...Love, Cicely...Andy will explain'..."

"So...?" he eyed "W"...Who nodded solemnly and rose...

"We shall go...But first you must swear a sacred oath to our Council on whatever holy books you hold dear...For I should inform you, William, that no one outside of those who are members..."

The cat was shoved forward...

"Ok, ok...You've proven yourself, we'll go...Just lose the cat..."

"Right, then...Lets go..." Will nodded...Setting the cat down...Which ran to a bowl in a corner as he reversed his chair and backed out the office door...

"Traitor..." "W" at the door, frowned at the cat which gave a reasonable imitation of a smirk as it paused in lapping water to eye him...

***

Elevator to the secret archives of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...Occupied by three, Andrew having felt the need of a little firepower support in the form of Slayer/nurse Gong Li...Who seemed far more interested in getting better acquainted with Will than in maintaining the proper solemnity of the occasion...Or protecting her Assistant Vice Chairman, he glumly noted to himself...

"So, William..." he tried to begin his build-up...Yet again...

"Are you doing your exercises with the new leg, William?..." Gong Li cut in, eagerly...Again... "I thought you were managing a little better in physical therapy yesterday..."

"I'm trying, love...Takes a bit of gettin' used to...And it has been a busy few days..." he smiled...

"I'll bet..." she nodded...

Het-hem...The Assistant Vice Chairman of Field Operations frowned…Hey, it's not everyday one gets to tour the ancient and sacred vaults of the Watchers' archives…A little respect for ancient tradition, please…

"As I was saying...William, you are about to enter..."

"You can't imagine how excited we are that you're with us...And so glad the task force was able to reach LA in time...Buffy and Dawn were frantic, I know..." Gong Li continued…

"Really?..." Will beamed a bit...

"They nearly blew cover...Fortunately the Immortal seems to have bought Buffy's story that she had to go and repay her debt to you after the Council learned Angel was fighting the Partners, not joining them..."

"Jesus...If he's such a danger, why hasn't she offed him yet?...And come to see me?..."

"Well..."



"Gong Li..." "W", sternly...Though his attempt at trying to glare his Slayer assistant into better behavior was completely, if indulgently, ignored...

"Oops...Andy...er "W" says we're not supposed to discuss His B with you till you're briefed...Sorry, "W"..."

"Uh-huh...Lucky for "W" that briefing is about to begin..."

"Shortly, William...But first, you must be aware that no outsider has ever..."

So, ummn...The Slayer eyed Will, interrupting yet again... "You two were really married all this time?..."

"News to me, love...And I doubt it would hold up in court..."

"I don't think Buffy would contest it..." she grinned... "She wears a ring now, they say...When she's away from her assignment..."

"She what?..." he blinked...

"Slayer…" "W" fumed…

"Oh, sorry, Andy… er, "W"…" Gong Li patted him fondly…

***

The glorious dining room of the fabulous interior of the magnificent castle estate of the famed Immortal...

"So…" the Immortal sighed to the team of leading operatives of his organization seated about the vast table…Roberts, the elderly butler at his side…

"Could someone pass the coffee?..." one of the group called down the table...

"Is there any danish?..." he hissed to his adjacent companion... "We never have danish anymore at these things..."

"Hey, coffee?...Down this way?...Hey?..."

Damn...Can never be heard without shouting when we meet around this thing...

"It seems our hopes were too high…There's no doubt William the Bloody did not meet his well-deserved peace in Los Angeles…We absolutely certain of that, eh Roberts?..." His Benevolence turned to the butler…

"Confirmed by our special operative during her communication period…There's no doubt that the Council attempted to deceive us, sir…"

"Most unfortunate…This meaning Phase Two must be postponed for now..." he turned to the group round the table... "Much as I rejoice in such a noble hero's amazing survival, it does create potential problems at this critical time...Alexander?..." he looked to one, Alexander George, a short, chubby, balding, bespectacled, nervous-looking man in a white suit who tried to maintain an air of poise...While glancing again for the coffee, still at the other end of the enormous table...

"Your Benevolence, yes sir...It seems among other things, we may have underestimated Mr. Wells' abilities a little, sir…The scheme was largely left to him, sir…It was too late once Walthrop had been secured by his agents to make any intervention without revealing our hand in the matter... "

"Indeed…This is discouraging…I'd hoped no action on our part would be required thanks to the Partners…"

"Uh, yes, sir...We were counting on that...Still, we ought to be able to continue preparations for Phase Three and Four without delay..." Mr. George noted...

Hmmn... "Yes, while I hate to proceed out of order, time and logistics require we proceed..."

"And once again we've confirmed the abilities of our special operative, sir…" Phillips, a younger man, clearly more on the technical end of things, cut in, rather eager to score a point...Sipping his own mug of coffee with a slyly triumphant air at Alexander...

"Yes…" a slight brightening… "Though I wonder how well she can be relied on…She did not prevent the Council's plan from being carried out…"

"She had no directives from us, sir…And neither of our special operatives can act without them…" Phillips, a hair more subdued...

"Would we have wanted to risk their exposure, anyway?...Now, when things are so advanced..." Alexander eyed the Immortal...Frowning a bit at Phillips...Oh, look...My pet project is working soooo well... "It would have required that, sir..." And how the hell did he get the coffee before me?...

"I suppose so…" A wave of hand…

"Sir?..."Alexander was solemn... "Do you now wish to approve direct action against Mr. Walthrop?..."

His Benevolence frowned, then sighed again… "I am loathe to do so, Mr. George…He has been such a noble Champion…And Buffy will be so hurt…"

"Still…The needs of all Humanity must outweigh even such a life…But I think, ladies and gentlemen, we will need to move cautiously…And employ our best here…Has our new top field agent finished her training yet?..."

"That operative, sir?...Is she reliable, now?...There have been...Concerns..." a slender, brown-haired woman in suit asked…

"Mr. George?..." His Benevolence...

"I've seen her in training...She's coming along...But she is still...What she is...I'd recommend she be pared with one of our more experienced agents...Of the same...Nature, naturally..."

At last...Alexander beamed at good ole Roberts who'd fetched the pot...

"Could anyone...Whatever their 'nature'...Work with her?..." the woman who'd spoken before asked...

"I have someone in mind..." Alexander noted, leaping at the chance to unveil his brilliant pairing...Phillips, mug unrefilled, frowning now...

"Oh?..." the Immortal...

"I was thinking...Our oldest field agent of that nature...Creed..."

"Creed?...Paired with her?...Hmmn..." His Benevolence looked to Roberts, now again standing by him...

"What do you think, Roberts?...Creed is our best among the veterans..."

"He does control himself well, sir...And is a gentleman to the extent I've known him, sir...I'm sure he'll work well with Miss Waverly, sir..."

"Very well...Of course, Alexander..." the Immortal eyed him sternly... "They must be absolutely aware they are not to involve innocent bystanders...This is a license to kill one threat to Humanity...Not carte blanche...And I don't want a direct attack on the Council..."

"Uh, Creed is a professional, your Benevolence...And I'm sure Miss Waverly will follow orders...And his lead...Together they'll be more than a match for Walthrop once he emerges in the field again..."

"All right, but monitor things with them carefully..."

"Still, we do have to get Walthrop out of the Council's hands...What about our special operative?...Maybe we could make use of her for this?..." Alexander suggested...

"She'll have to become involved eventually..." he noted...A sidelong glance to Phillips...Well?...

"Yes and no…I don't wish her exposed as yet if possible…However you're right...We'll have to involved her eventually...And she would be of use here so long as she remains concealed…That would be possible, correct?..."



"Absolutely, sir…" Phillips nodded... "In fact, this would be a great opportunity to complete field testing..." Return glance to Alexander...Snaring the moving pot with a look of renewed triumph...

"Sir?..." another team member, a middle-aged blonde woman spoke up, frowning at Mr. George who glared back... "Creed and Waverly may be a good pairing or no...But can they handle both Walthrops if they meet?...Buffy as well as William?...Even under current circumstances..."

"Sir..." Alexander was insistent... "Walthrop's lost a leg...The man...Ok, Unman...Has only one leg...And is still recovering...I'd say with our special operative in reserve my people can deal...And with Creed running things, they'll be very discreet...Mr.Walthrop and Ms. Summers won't know what hit him..."

"Most regrettable, if necessary...Very well then, Mr. George, as European field director, you have my permission to proceed...But be cautious..."

"Absolutely, sir..." happy beam...That's me, Field Director...Ready to match wits once again with the clever "W" and his minions...Lemme have that coffee, baby...He grabbed at the pot moving past...

Hmmn...Empty...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you...Roberts informs me that the buffet is served...Enjoy yourselves, one and all...We'll meet to discuss Phase Three in two days..."

The group rose...

"Good luck with the psycho, George..." Phillips said in a low voice, grinning at him...

"You just keep your little toys working right, Phillips..."

"How is Miss Summers by the way?..." the brown-haired woman inquired of the Immortal as the group made their way for the, as always, magnificent buffet...Mr. George and Phillips engaged in a race for the head of the line...

"Well as one might expect under the regrettable circumstances..." His Benevolence noted...

***



"You Only Live Thrice..." Part IV...

P.G. 13



Summary:

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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html [Note: To better understand Mr. Creed's description of his past relationship to Buffy/Sam and William/Elisabeth, you might take a peek at "The Secret Diaries of Samuel B. Pepys..." at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/sdsp1.html ]

Part IV...

"The entrance to the legendary secret archives of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...4000 feet below the streets of London, in a reinforced bunker designed to withstand a direct surface hit by a 100 megaton thermonuclear weapon..."

"Hows about a First-powered maniac with a charming smile wearing a reverend's collar carrying an ordinary several pound bomb on him?..." Will asked from his wheelchair as Andrew frowned...



"Caleb didn't take out this place..." Gong Li, beside them, loyally pointed out...Andrew beaming at the support...And the opening...

"And he'd never have had the chance now that my new security measures have been installed..."

"Observe..." "W" went to the entrance where a blank wall panel to the side of a heavily reinforced large metal door suddenly slid back to reveal a bank of instruments...Including a double eyepiece...

"First, naturally..." he looked into the eyepiece... "What may appear to be a simple retinal scan..."

"Wells, Andrew...Assistant Vice-Chairman...Code name 'W'..." a computer voice, more or less female, intoned... "Cleared for entry..."

"Kill him, cut out the eyes...Probably not in that order..." Will noted...As Andrew pulled away...

"Just giving you the run down of what Spike and others of his ilk would do here..." he grinned at Gong Li...Who gave a mildly reproving look...

William...

"Indeed..." "W" nodded sagely... "But it would be of little avail since the computer actually did a full aural scan...The retinal bit being just to deceive...The Undead generally being a generation or two behind the latest advances..."

"Well, Spike...And others of his ilk...Would still get quite a nice kick out of the screams for mercy and eye-gouging...But wouldn't a simple good ole vamp barrier do just as well and a few million quid cheaper?..."

"Vampires..." "W" sniffed... "Are hardly our worst enemies, Mr. Walthrop..."

"Ok...Fine...Can we go in now?..." Will wheeled for the door...

"Wait, Will!..."Gong Li grabbed and pulled him back with Slayer speed...

"What's..." he stared at where a light beam, obviously a laser of high intensity, was digging a large hunk out of the rock floor...

Ah...

"Vampiral and demonically sensitive..." Andrew explained... "Though we can give you special clearance...Just a moment..." he went to the instrument panel and began typing on a keyboard...

"Thanks..." Dryly..."Still say the good ole barrier would do the same job, maybe with a kick up for demons from ole Red...Say where's Goddess Willow got to these days, by the way?..." Will turned to Gong Li... "Still out on that astral plane tour?..."

"Nah..." Gong Li shook her head...Unconsciously trying to emphasize her raven's-colored hair's silkiness...It being the William of dear passed-on memory to all Slayers after all...

"She runs the Occult Studies Division these days here in London when she's not helping collect stray Slayers round the world...But she blew her battery charging us all up...She's just a reasonably powerful Wiccan again...I think she's been off visitin' her folks....They live in Sacramento now..."

"All clear for our guest Champion..." Andrew called, moving to the door... "We may now proceed..."

The door rose...Revealing a second door which pulled to one side, revealing a third door which swung open to reveal about three feet of space and another door which dropped into the floor to reveal yet another door...

[Theme from "Get Smart" Play]

"Bit overkill, isn't it Andy?..." Will sighed as what appeared to be an endless chain of doors continued to open... "Can't you just pop 'em all at once and be done with it?..."

"Security is my middle name, Mr. Walthrop..."



"Pour some water or more likely, fresh-kill blood, into the works, short out the whole system, smash what doesn't fall open..." Will suggested...

It's what Spike would do...he shrugged at "W"'s frown...

"Come..." Andrew stepped inside, a wave to summon them on... While making a note on a small pad he'd wisely brought along for just such first-rate advice...

Reinforce insulation on all wiring...

The three paused as one as a red light flashed...

"Warning: Level two security alert...Vampiral guest is warned to remain with their designated guide and display pass at all times...Violation of security protocol will result in immediate termination..." the computer voice coldly insisted...

"Oh...Whoops..." Andrew handed Will a disc... "Your pass...Let the camera there..." he pointed... "See it...Quick...And don't lose it, 'cause the computer will fry you in thirty seconds if you don't have it to show when it asks and one of us isn't around...and fully alive...to clear you..."

"Good to know..." Will nodded, tucking the pass under his chair blanket after displaying it to the indicated hidden camera...

"Say, how the hell did you ever get Rupert Giles to sign off on something like this?...The Council didn't seem able to afford to send the Slayers their own stakes in the ole days...Let alone provide modern equipment ..." he looked down the corridor, now open for several blocks, then back to the entrance...

Gong Li eyed "W" who shrugged a bit... "The Chairman's come to appreciate the value of modern technology..."

Uh-huh...Will stared at him...

Rupert Giles?...Who finds the telephone a bit too "newfangled"...

They proceeded down the corridor to one last unopened door...Gong Li pushing William's chair...

"Afraid your cameras are too loud, 'W'..." Will noted... "I can hear the little whiz, whiz when they follow us..."

"That's the new lasers...I told the maintenance guys to oil the turrets properly last time I was here..." "W" sighed...Making another quick note...

"So is this...?" Will stared at the closed door blocking the way...

Gong Li eyed Andrew, both sensing the sudden tension in William's voice...

"Li, Gong...Human...Slayer...Aural signature confirmed...Wells, Andrew...Human...Assistant Vice-Chairman...Aural signature confirmed...Walthrop, William...Emotional coward jackass beloved Champion... ("Buffy insisted in writing your id file herself..."...Andrew noted...)...Vampire, special access permission granted...Aural signature confirmed...Please wait..."

"By now, Spike or any other demon would've smashed that door right..." Will began...

"Exactly...Hold tight!..." Andrew called...As the floor they stood on suddenly dropped with a whooshing noise...They fell with increasing speed then suddenly braked...Gong Li holding Will's chair tightly, Andrew struggling to stay on his feet...

"Christ..." Will stared round, a bit dazed, at the solid rock now surrounding them...

"Security is my middle name..." Andrew noted, proudly...

***

European Field Operations Director's Office...Within the borders of His Benevolence's tiny principality between Austria and Italy...

"So, Mr. Creed ..." the Director, chubby Alexander George, trying to maintain a stern "Field Operations Director"'s poise, eyed a tall, distinguished-looking, dark-haired man standing politely before his desk in elegant suit with bowler currently in deferrential hand...



"I'm sure you fully understand the delicacy of the situation here...His Benevolence is most anxious that you and Miss Waverly..." he nodded to the dark-haired, somewhat waifish-looking woman in equally elegant suit and skirt beside Creed, trying with somewhat less success to match her partner's effortless elegance... "Avoid involving any innocent bystanders in the course of your operations...And that you not in any way risk compromising our special operative...Even if it may mean some risk to you both..."

"Of course, Mr. George..." Creed gave a polite nod... "Miss Waverly and I understand the situation completely...And I'm sure we can deal with Mr. Walthrop with the utmost discretion..."

"The utmost discretion..." Drusilla nodded as well...Then frowned a bit... "But if our Ms. Summers should become a problem?...She does love him...And if it's true about her being..." she twisted a bit nervously...

Still a tad hard to accept that one...After all these years...To find out my boyfriend of a century was married all the time...To a Slayer, no less...

A very determined Slayer, no less...And the Greatest, by all accounts, including my own experiences with her...

Not to even mention my new partner's tale...She grinned a little at the thought, but at a cough and stare from Creed quickly resumed her professional stance...

Focus, girl...His look saying...

"Oh, it's true...But we can deal with Ms. Summers, Miss Waverly..." Mr. George shook his head... "Your target is solely Mr. Walthrop...And our special operative should provide you with an opportunity to deal with him discreetly..."

"Pity to spoil such a happy reunion..." Dru sighed... "I was touched to hear she'd gone off to save my poor Spike..."

"An unfortunate necessity...Much as we do honor his past services..." Alexander nodded... "But a necessity if our plans for Humanity's salvation are to succeed..."

"We'll carve him as a dish fit for the gods..." Creed smiled...

Uh, yeah...Whatever...Alexander nodded...

Hard to believe I'm on, more or less...In a manner of speaking...The sort of...Light side...And that this fellow is my superior...In the organizational sense...Dru stared at little George...

But with Demonity throughly whipped now, not exactly much choice between joining the unscrupulous agents acting for Humanity's best interests and willing to employ questionable methods or being on the receiving end of a stake from the more self-righteous and scrupulous team ...And at least I do still get to have a bit of fun with His Benevolence's gang...

In a throughly professional manner, never to involve the innocent bystander, of course...

"Well...It will be a pleasure to make the Walthrops' acquaintance again..." Creed smiled... "However unfortunate the circumstances..."

"I knew them both in a past life..." he explained to Alexander's puzzled...Knew?... look... "Ms. Summers and I were rather close acquaintances at the time, back when I was still mortal..."

"Oh?..." Alexander stared... "You were 'acquainted' with Ms. Summers in a past life?..."

"Yes, we were rather well acquainted then, worked together actually...Though Ms. Summers wasn't the Slayer then..."

"Really?...But I thought Cicely..."

"This was the seventeenth century...Not the nineteenth...You're aware of Ms. Summer's and her mate's past lives of course, Mr. George?..." Creed asked politely, a smile only the slightest bit bordering on the smug...

"Naturally, naturally...Just didn't catch the century on that one...So, you and she were..."



"He...She was a he then..." Creed corrected... "William in fact was the Slayer at that time...I believe it was the only time in their joint existences he was a woman..."

"Walthrop was the woman then...?" Alexander blinked... Drusilla herself still a bit perturbed by that one....

Though it does explain some things about William...she thought...

"And a very beautiful one, if I may say..." Creed smiled...

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part V...

P.G. 13



Summary:

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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html...Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html

Part V...



Deep in the secret underground archives of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists…

"What the bloody hell…" Will stared at the solid rock all about the little cylinder of space he in his wheelchair, Slayer Gong Li, and Assistant Vice Chairman for Field Operations, code name "W", Andrew Wells, currently occupied…

"As you noted, your typical instinctively impatient demon would've gone straight through the last door…" "W" smiled… "To where he or she would've met a most grisly fate…While the true entrance is down here…" he touched the rock wall…Placing his hand flat on the surface…

Nothing…Ummn…

Right, here…He moved his hand…

"Up, to the left, Andy…er "W"…" Gong Li suggested… Ah, right…

A portion of the rock face moved inward…Revealing a dark and silent entrance tunnel…

"Mr. Walthrop…" Andrew waved him in…Gong Li pushing the chair…

"Welcome to the ancient and sacred…"

"What the hell do you want now, Wells?!…" a grim voice called from the darkness…

"Ah, Chairman Axton…" Andrew called back… "I've brought our Champion, Mr. Walthrop to see…"

Will wheeled hurriedly into the darkness, Gong Li rushing after him… "Will…!"

"Christ Jesus, another vampire with soul?..." Axton's voice groused back as Andrew followed in after the others…



"And rhythm…But not answers…" Will's voice called… "So you'd best be in supply…"

"It's Cicely's husband…" Gong Li's voice…

"Cicely…?" Axton's voice had suddenly turned a bit hesitant…Lights began flickering on throughout the tunnel…

"The Cicely?...This is Walthrop?..." he continued…Will, now stopped a moment in his chair, blinking at the sudden lights, trying to make out the human form approaching him now…An older man, tall, of strong bearing...and character, he judged…

"You're Walthrop?..." the old man addressed Will directly now…Eyeing him up and down…

"The same…After a long absence from the scene…" Will nodded…

"You know I nearly killed you back in '45…" Axton smiled, rather kindly… "You'd dodged my Slayer and I had you in my crosshairs, but the damn bow jammed…So you finally managed to find her…Or she you, at least…"

"So they tell me…" Will nodded… "Though I seem to still be looking for her…"

"She's here…A good part of her, anyway…Waiting for you…" Axton smiled… "Come on…All of you..." slight frown at the eager-to-take-the-lead "W"...

***



"Did I do well?..." Dru nervously asked Creed as they waited within the Immortal's complex's front entrance for the cab back to the hotel provided for them...

"Excellently, my dear Miss Waverly..." Creed smiled... "I'm sure Mr. George was pleasantly surprised with your professional demeanor...You've made fine progress, my girl..." an encouraging beam...

"Isn't he rather a little...Human...To be our superior in the Immortal's organization?..." Dru eyed Creed...

"My dear...Ours is not to question His Benevolence's appointments...And you'll find Mr. George a man of surprising abilities despite his appearance and manner...It was he, after all, who convinced His Benevolence to let you be recruited for our organization..."

"I suppose..." she frowned... "Does seem odd, working for Humanity...Can't believe sometimes His Benevolence, an Immortal being, should take such care over the little ones..."

"Few options left us as to work, my dear...And always remember that His Benevolence is not demonic, whatever his true nature is... But on the whole, like the Immortal and your own lamented Spike, I've always rather fancied Humanity myself..." Creed waved a hand slightly...Firm grip on the umbrella in the other maintained... "As a species as well as food source...Always thought they'd win out in the end, with that foolish grit of theirs to bull on through disaster, despite the melodramatic pyrotechnics of Evil's leaders...And I've found our work challenging, profitable, and... amusing...You'll get accustomed to it..." a kind nod...

"And you, Mr. Creed...You're one of us...Yet you've done this work so long...Haven't you ever...?"

A thin smile...

"As I say, Miss Waverly...I always put my money on Humanity's triumph...In my mortal days I once backed the great Puritan revolution here under Cromwell...Only to see God's kingdom on Earth crumble into bickering and an eager call for the fickle, wicked Stuarts to return...Whatever I am now, I remain a practical, rational being and I never placed my faith in Evil's triumph...So, when the Immortal offered me a chance to work with him and survive the inevitable defeat of Demonity, I jumped aboard...:You've picked the winning side, my dear, have no doubt of it..."

"Yet His Benevolence is likely to be at odds with the Council, its Slayers, and the world's governments over his plans...And we are still in the hunt-and-terminate business..."

"Yes, but all in the noble cause of serving Humanity's best interests, my dear...And if all continues to go well, it's unlikely there'll be opposition from any of the sources you mention..."

"Providing Phase Two and Three succeed...But..." Dru gave a slight, puzzled look as Creed gallantly opened the newly arrived cab's door for her with a flourish...

"I thought Phase Two had to be delayed...Won't that cause trouble?..." she stepped inside with a wan smile...

"Only in its final stage, Miss Waverly...The essentials have been accomplished...Have no fear, our special operatives will not let us down..." Creed pulled the door closed... "Off we go, my good man..." he waved to the driver who nodded and started off...

"And with their help, Mr. Walthrop will be in our hands very shortly..."

"It will be nice to see William again..." Dru reflected... "We...The soul and I...Had so little time together before I killed him in 1880, but I sensed him a though gentleman..."

"Of that, I'm sure...His souled career speaks for itself..." Creed nodded politely...

***

"Where the hell did you get these pictures...?" William stared at the old photos spread out on ex-Chairman Axton's desk in the archival vault...A lovely, beaming Cicely and a certain awkward-looking poet with rather wild hair in ill-fitting suit, riding in a small open cart in the country...The Lake District, he recognized...

That day at Henry's cottage...When Cicely took him up to "fire his imagination" and the universe changed...Forever...For him...

And, it seemed now, for her as well...

"You were shadowed, Mr. Walthrop, you and our poor Cicely..." Axton eyed him carefully... "Cicely's Watcher, Dr. Farris, maintained very strict surveillance on her...Frequently to her benefit earlier in her career...Though not so after her encounter with you..."

Hmmn...Wonder how they got photos from inside the cottage?...Gong Li stared...

Very nice... "W" admired the technical finesse of the photographer...Will frowning and grabbing the one he held in hand away...Cicely in something less than respectable attire for a proper nineteenth century gentlewoman...

Must have been...Yes, in my rooms in London...Just before...

"Why...?" he gasped out...A tear falling on the photo of a gently smiling Cecily, clinging to his arm as they waited in some dark corner of London for a cab...

"She was our Slayer, Mr. Walthrop..." Axton sighed... "And we, the self-appointed guardians of Humanity, felt it our duty to hold her to hers...At any cost..."

"No...I know why you did it..." Will replied bitterly... "And I can guess why Farris did...But why did she?..."

"She was afraid, William...She knew she had sinned against her Duty and feared you would pay the price..." the old ex-Chairman, retired, shook his head... "And Farris took full advantage of her fear...As did Lord D'Hoffryn...Who'd waited patiently for hundreds of years for his chance to win her to his side..."

"Cicely wouldn't..."

"And she did not..." Axton nodded... "Just as her rage against us would have been...Even now she continues the fight...Agreed to her return to Earth as a new Slayer for the last great battles...On the one condition that she have her slight chance of rescuing you from Spike..."

"A chance that she had to accept under the most unfair conditions...No knowledge of her past, no resemblance to her past self...And you a monster she must instinctively hate and seek to destroy...Or you, her..."

"And all that...Wasn't enough..." Gong Li beamed at him...

"Of course if you'd just let go of Spike and gone off to Heaven...'Stead of trying to hang on and find out what the hell was going on..." she mock-frowned at him...



"Humanity would have certainly lost the services of you both and most likely been destroyed..." Axton finished...

"Great...So you folks have your happy ending...Where's ours...Where is my wife?...If this is all true and she knows it..." Will looked at the three...

"You're in danger, Will..." Andrew shook his head... "We're convinced that however nice his intentions are to Humanity as a whole, His Benevolence wants you out of the picture...And intended that you'd die fighting the Partners...She's trying to keep you safe..."

"She might remember what happened last time she tried that without keeping me informed..."

"That's why you're here, Will..." Gong Li noted...

"Uh-huh..." he looked at Andrew, then the Slayer... "But you're not telling me everything yet...What else?...What's the real reason you've been holding out on me?...Wait..."

Dawn...

"What about Dawn?...You said...."

"She's the soul of the infant Cicely died carrying...The monks knew only that soul would do for their Dawn...That Cicely would even ignore the first stirrings of her memories of you to protect her...And that you'd help her, even with Spike in control..." Andrew nodded to Axton, who pressed a button...A portion of his small office's wall sliding back...

"Quite a story, eh Dad?..." Dawn stepped in, smiling...

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part VI...

P.G. 13



Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

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

Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html

Part VI...

About two hours out of Heathrow Airport, aboard United Airlines Flight 686...

"Giles..."

"Buffy...I've told you...Andrew had him safe at our medical facility and is moving him as he can ...He was absolutely fine when last I checked with them..."

"Right, right...." she nodded...Fingers tapping on the armrest... "Do you think they've told him everything?..."

"I would imagine so...Andrew said he'd regained much of his strength and was ready..."

"I wish I could've been there...No, thanks..." she politely waved off a stewardess offering a last chance of drinks...

"Buffy...It was your decision..."



"Yeah..." she frowned... "I oughta wear a brunette wig when we meet, don't ya think?...To help him adjust?..."

"I think all he'll want to see is you, my dear..." Giles patted her arm...

"Yeah?...Did Andy say how he was doing with the leg and all?..." her face darkened... "I should have killed them all, before they crossed back to Hell... I did try..."

"Andrew said he was doing very well...And you certainly did...Angel and I thought for sure you'd go through the portal to Hell after them..."

"Good...This is nonsense, Giles..." she fumed... "I'm the Greatest Slayer, twice over, right?...Maybe even more than that if your archives got it right...Why don't we just head on over to Santa Lucia..."

"San Lucea..."

"Whatever...And kill that bastard...We know he intended for the Partners to kill Will and Angel and he's up to something...That's enough by my standards...So lets go find a new way to hack an unkillable Immortal up and then I can go and have my really-long-belated honeymoon..."

"Buffy...We've agreed..."

"Yeah, yeah..."

"We have to know his plans, dear...And he has powerful allies in the world...Not to mention his reputation as a..."

"He saved a few folks for good public relations and to get in on the winning side...Big deal..."

"He's not some melodramatic fellow breathing death to all humans, Buffy...We can't move against him without proof...Unless you want to spend that honeymoon in a European prison..."

"Yeah, yeah..." she nodded impatiently...

"And you will see William soon...As soon as we can safely travel to wherever Andrew now has him..."

She startled him by bursting into tears...Then shook her head, wiping...

"Sorry..."

"Buffy..."

"Giles...I'm scared...What if he hates me now?..."

"I seriously doubt it, my dear..."

"But look what I did to him...And even after I met up with him...Even after he got the soul back for my sake...I didn't do a thing for him...My own husband..."

"You didn't know, dear...And William will understand..."

"Yeah?..." Nervously...Then brightened... "Anyway, Dawnie's with him...God, I wish I could be there to see when she tells him he's a father..." she giggled and sniffed a little at the same time... "Giles, tell me I've done the right thing...That it was for the best..."

"It's a wise precaution, Buffy, given our suspicions..."

"No..." she sighed... "Tell me driving him away and letting him die and be condemned for a hundred years...Nearly lost forever...Not helping him even when he tried to help me even with the demon holding him...Tell me that was for the best..."

"You've been trying to protect him, Buffy, as I suspect now you always have been...But you will be with him...We just have to make sure all's secure and His Benevolence suspects nothing..."



"I never staked him...I guess, considering the grief Spike gave me, that's gotta count for something..." Buffy smiled...

"You saved him, Cicely..." Giles stared at her firmly... "All of this was the road to his safe return to you...His soul as untarnished and free as it could well have been condemned and degraded by Spike...Don't ever forget that..."

"He saved himself...And fought his way home to me..." she replied, equally firmly... "And his daughter and our other children..."

Giles blinked a moment...

"...Are gonna know that..." she finished...

The child in her arms, who'd been sleeping peacefully, awoke now and gave a slight cry...

"Hey..." she patted him... "How's Mummie's boy?...Yeah...Mummie's little Will's hungry, huh?...Giles, can you pass me the bottle from my bag, I can't reach it with Will here..."

He reached for the bag under her seat and removing a baby's bottle, handed it to her...

"So it's Will, then...?" he smiled at her as she carefully urged the bottle's nipple into the infant's mouth...

"Yep..." she nodded, focused on the child who was now sucking his bottle contentedly...Then hesitated... "I mean, if Will Sr. agrees..."

"Somehow I think he will..."

"Funny...He does look like Will, too, doncha think?...Dawn said so when we webcammed to her in Rome the other night..."

"Oddly enough, yes..." Giles nodded, eyeing the blonde baby...

"You and Angel were great to get things sorted out so quick on the adoption, Giles, thanks again...I know Will is gonna be so happy to have things official..." she beamed now... "There's one thing I managed to get right for him, thanks to you guys..."

"Given what Humanity owes you and Will, a little red tape cutting's hardy fair recompense, dear..."

"Of course I want some more...Not that I don't consider Willy mine...It's just, you know..." she grinned, carefully tipping the emptying bottle... "No so fas', Willy...You're a regular Slayer, aren't ya?...Yeah, my big beautiful boy...Yeah..."

"Well..."Giles sighed...

"I know..." she nodded... "But if Angel and Darla can manage it...We can...And Willow has some ideas..." Her face fell a little...

"But I guess I'm kinda jumpin' the gun...He might show me the door and tell me to go burn in Hell for a century...Then maybe we'll talk..."

"He won't..." Giles smiled at her...

"He's a natural...William, I mean...For the dad business...Look at how he did with Dawn, even pre-soul restoration, Spike running the show...And rescuing little Will here...Who misses his daddy just like his mummie does, doncha, Will?...Yeah..."

Giles rose...

"Sorry..." Buffy grinned... "I guess mummiehood brings out the saccharine in me..."

"I'll be back in a moment..."

"I understand...Xander wouldn't make it to the men's room...I promise to ease off when ya get back..."

With a wave and smile, Giles headed off...



"The heck mummy will, will she, Willy?...No..." she blew against the infant's cheek... " 'Cause Willy Jr.'s his daddy's boy and mummy loves her honey boys...Yeah...And no more mean demons are gonna try and sacrifice my honey boys...Again..."

Giles had reached the nearest men's room and finding it unoccupied, entered...

Trembling slightly he clutched at the sink...Then calmed, his face suddenly taking on a blank expression, then distorting...A pale, hairless face now staring back at him in the mirror...Bald on headtop as well as utterly smooth on cheek...He stared quietly at the mirror a moment...Voices murmuring to him... "No..." he gasped faintly, hands gripping the sink tightly... "I..." his voice faltered...

"Yes...We are approaching Great Britain..." he told the mirror... "No, she does not suspect as yet...No, there has been no loss of contact...Yes...I will transmit when I am informed she has left with Walthrop..."

He tensed suddenly...His face regained Giles' normal appearance, with hair...He blinked at the mirror...

"Poor girl...She is trying too hard...Pray God William can deal properly with all of this..." he sighed...

Then stared again at the mirror and at his watch...

Seemed more time had passed than he'd've thought...Well...

Back to our young adoptive mother and her rather desperate efforts to jumpstart the life she was cheated out of a century ago...

By us...He shook his head sadly...

***

"Well, I'm supposed to be in Rome..." Dawn was continuing her get-together with Dad in the Watchers' archives as Gong Li, ex-Chairman Axton, and "W" stood by... "But Buffy's on her way back here with Giles..." she grinned at Andy as Will blinked a bit...On her way?... "So that got me a cover story to slip over for a coupla days...."

"I don't like your being alone in Rome near this Immortal turd...Who's bright idea was that?..."W"'s?..." he frowned at Andrew who instinctive discreetly backed away, behind Gong Li... "Or your mother's..."

"Mine, dad..." she grinned... "Boy, you know that gets easier each time...Anyway, we didn't want His Bullshitness to get any more suspicious and my staying in London without Mom would have been..."

"Though of course I could always say I was seein' my feller..." she gave a sly grin at Andrew who to Will's annoyance and rapidly growing horror, blushed...

My God... I really am a father...He thought, glaring at the nervous "W"...

***



"You Only Live Thrice..." Part VII...



P.G. 13



Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html ...Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html

Part VII...



The underground archives of the Royal Council of Antiquarians and Library Scientists...

"So...Buffy decided to face the Council and tell them what she wanted to do...And, I'm sure..." Dawn smiled at William in his chair across the table in the living room ex-Chairman Axton's living quarters in the archival vaults, Gong Li behind him, the ex-Chairman seated to the side of the table..."W" seated opposite him... "...planning to grab the chance to look you up in detail..."

"Buffy gave up Slaying...And wanted the Council to give it up...?" Will stared...

"No, not exactly...But after you...And Angel...She couldn't just grab a stake and ram 'em anymore, Dad...Not when she realized there could be lots like both of you out there...Waiting to be helped...Rescued..."

"Ramming 'em is rescuing them..." he frowned... "Did she lose her mind or what?..."

"Mind...And her heart, Pop..." Dawn nodded, grinning... "But she didn't and doesn't plan to go up to each vamp and ask him or her if they'd like a crack at redemption...Or become their lover and see if that does the trick..."

"The curse, then...God, didn't anyone remind her there's a reason it's called a curse?..."

"She wanted to give them a chance to choose, Dad....If they could handle it and wanted to stay, fine...If they couldn't or joined Evil voluntarily, even with soul, well...The wooden solution was still there..."

"Oh, Christ..."

"She felt she had to...She'd failed you, lost you...Dad, if you'd seen her before she came to London and learned the truth about it all...It was killing her day by day, leaving you like that, to die...Not knowing, not believing..."

"My choice, Nibs...."

"Oh..." Dawn suddenly burst into tears... "I'm sorry...Sorry...I knew I'd lose it if you called me that again...Oh, Daddy...Forgive me..." she wept.. "Forgive me..."

"Dawn..." he patted her... "You had no way..."

"I knew...Somewhere...And she did too...Can't you see, even not knowing everything she knew enough...She had to do something, anything to try and make it up...So, she came to London and told the Council...With very reluctant backing from Giles...That it was time to find a new way...A majority of the new Slayers agreed, a good number of the Watchers and Councilors too..."

"But not all..."

"No..." Andrew chimed in... "And that's part...."

"Andrew..." Dawn and William eyed him...

Ummn...He quieted...

"We had the curse of course but Willow no longer had the voltage to spread it worldwide...She wasn't sure about it either, but for Buffy's sake she was willing to go along...So Buffy needed a way to transmit worldwide...Naturally the Watchers didn't have the cash or expertise to handle such a project themselves...But they did have a connection who could..."



"The Immortal..." Will...

"Yeah...Collaborator with the Council since God knows when...Big wheel in science and technology...Media mogul and more important, owner of a network of communication satellites...The perfect guy to make this work...If he was all his record suggested..."

"And that's how she got involved with him?...To set up a global curse network?..."

"Her memorial to William Soames Walthrop..." Dawn smiled..."Course she did consider hunting down Drusilla first...Assumin' the poor kid's soul couldn't handle waking up in that body with those memories...At least, like she tole me, that's what she'd tell you later on in Heaven..."

"Gonna look me up, eh?"

"Minute she had the chance, Dad...And she tried calling you...We did a seance every night...Twice some nights....She was a little afraid you were mad at her when you didn't check in...Till a few months ago..."

Then she was sure you were pissed...Dawn noted...

"But, anyway...Before she went off to meet with that dedicated friend of Humanity and lying backstabber, she came here to find out about her dimwitted lover who didn't know when to quit and run like hell from her...And ran smack into Cicely, waiting for her..."

"I was with her...I think she knew the moment she touched Cicely's photo..." Dawn sighed...

"I'm sorry I wasn't..."

"You should be..." she frowned... "I thought she was bad before...But when she held that old picture in her hand...That one, there..." she pointed at the photo, slightly damp in Will's hand...The same picture of Cicely in the cart with human Will that William had clung to since pulling it from Axton's sheaf of photos... "I thought...The look on her face...The way she screamed at poor Giles..."

Guess I did some screamin' too...she smiled wanly... "Better to blame him and the Council than admit what we'd done..."

"You and your mother did..."

"Nothing..." Dawn nodded... "Absolutely...Nothing...Hell, we'd treated the Master better...At least we'd cared enough to finish him off ourselves..."

"I meant to say...Daughter...You and your mother did just what it took to save me..." he replied quietly...

"We left you suffering...You tried to reach out, help us...And we never heard..." Dawn shook her head...

"You both kept me safe until the way came for me..." he took her hand... "Nibs, I couldn't have done it without you...You and Buffy gave me a chance when you should have destroyed me..."

"We had the curse...We saw how Spike tried...Daddy...We should have tried...We should have tried..."

"Spike might have killed you both if Mother had ever dropped her guard...And later, I still wasn't fully clear of him...The First was counting on that, probably knew everything all along..." he stroked her hair...He grinned as she looked up... "So your mother was ready to avenge the Walthrop name in Giles' heart's blood?...Don't deprive me of that scene, Nibs..."

"Well..." Dawn brushed hair back, wiping a bit and blowing into the handkerchief "W" had gallantly...No, thanks...he declined its return with kindly wave... "She was pretty mad...But at herself most of all...Anyway, she knew now...And she left here with Cicely's...Her...Ring on her finger..."

And a determination to see this project through...For her husband's sake...

"And after that...She met up with His Bullshittiness and it seemed to go well...Though I was a little afraid she might decide to throw a fight with Dru the night before, so as to catch up with you sooner...Except that the Immortal wanted to hold off until the situation with Angel and the Partners jelled...He'd joined them with the Council's secret knowledge, supposedly to gather dope on them and Angel and await the right moment to call in the Slayers..."



"And you lot believed him?..."

"He had a history of undercover work with the Council, Dad...Giles and they vouched for him...And in fact he was working against his Partners...Just we didn't know he had his own agenda for Humanity's salvation..."

"Then Andy went to retrieve a certain crazy Slayer..." she smiled at "W" whose beam back was cut short by William's cold look...

"And we knew His Immortal Asswipe was holding back things...A little thing like your continued existence for instance..." she beamed at Will... "And that Angel hadn't gone over...Though Buffy never doubted him...She was just worried he'd cut a bad deal for Connor's sake..."

Willow penetrated that one long ago...she noted... "Thanks to Andy's recommendation that we continually scan for any and all spell traces..."

"Security bein' his middle name..." Will grinned at Andrew...

"Though we were ready to stake the pointy-haired bloody stupid jerk for not telling us..." Dawn frowned...

"Why didn't she..."

"Why didn't you?..." Dawn glared... "She thought you'd...That you hated her for leaving you...That maybe now, after a little stopover in Heaven, you even knew everything and just..."

Didn't want her...Us...

"No crazier than you not coming..." she eyed him coolly...

"And then we got more intelligence on the Immortal and an idea of what he might be up to, thanks to Mr. Axton and Andy..." she beamed at Andrew again...Andrew's blush turning pale as Will's Spikean glare...

"And we knew now we had to be extra-cautious...Mainly 'cause someone we did not want to lose again was in danger...Cause he was too stupid and..." she fumed...

"Damnit, Dad...You even came to Rome!...How could you not wait?...And do you know how brave Andy was not to tell you or call Mom?...Even knowing he did the right thing she might've killed him when he told her you were gone and he hadn't called her..."

"We couldn't let the Immortal know we were on to him...He might have sent the Partners against Angel or moved against us before we were ready..." Andrew explained to Will's stare...

"Though unfortunately, it was already late, almost too so...He'd learned of our suspicions, thanks to his agents...And taken steps against all those here he and his felt threatened him and his plans...See, the problem is, William...I'm afraid the Council has been infiltrated, even to the highest levels...Both by those Watchers who take the old Council view and prefer the Immortal's view of Humanity under the benevolent care of an elite...Including of course, them...And by special agents of His Benevolence with their help..."

"Special agents...Meaning?"

"Meaning very special agents...Who are very good at impersonation...Because they're mentally, at least, largely, the same person they've replaced..."

"You're losing me, 'W'..." Will frowned...Dawn looking concerned...

"Andrew?...You really believe they've gotten so far?..." she asked...

"I'm afraid so, Miss..." Axton nodded sadly...A glance at Will...

"William, you've already met them..." Andrew said... "They paid Angel a visit once, one of them in the form of Dr. Wyndham-Price...Though luckily we were able to recover him. after Angel contacted us...If it hadn't been for..."

"The cyborgs?...His Benevolence's boys?...Why the hell hasn't Buffy killed him, then?"



"We had no evidence linking him to them until recently...When we got Dr. Wyndham-Price back from where he'd been held he couldn't tell us anything...He'd never known he'd been seized and thought he'd actually gone to Angel's just as it happened with the borg...The only thing he didn't remember of the trip was their attempt to seize Angel... and Wesley shooting him..."

Which was probably for the best, given what happened to Wesley, "W" refected...

"So they're what?..." Dawn frowned... "Plugged into the original's brain, somehow?"

"Rather like virtual reality, Miss..." Axton cut in... "The original, once seized, is neurally experiencing everything the cyborg does and are unaware that they are operating through something...When the proper time comes, the controllers take over and the agent carries out a task or tasks at their direction...With a little magics to disguise the cyborg, the perfect sleeper agent..."

"The former Chairman is also one of our top scientists..." Andrew noted...

"Are they that good with just a glam?...Hard to believe a borg could fool anyone for long..." Will frowned... "Have you figured out who the agents and the traitors are?...Or is that what you're holding me around here for?..."

"We believe we've detected the key agents...Though Mr. Axton and a few of us have had to work in secret...Lucky for us, they never thought much of me as a threat..." Andrew smiled, a tad wanly...

"Lucky for us is right and they'll be sorry for that..." Dawn patted him... "You'll show them..."

"And yes, they are very good..." Andrew nodded to Axton who pulled out a control device of some sort...

"As you can see..."

'Dawn' collapsed...Will staring in shock, tensing and rising from his chair, carefully, on the artificial leg...You...He turned to Andrew, Gong Li beside him, in low-key defensive mode...Axton watching from his spot, eyeing the body on the floor, now still after a few spasms...

"No, Will...Look..." the Slayer told him...Indicating the body on the floor...Which William, glancing, saw was now bald and while bearing considerable resemblance to Dawn, was clearly not Dawn...

"A cyborg...?" Will looked at Andrew...Who nodded...

"And a damned good one..." Dawn's voice...She now visible in the same outfit as that the cyborg had worn, stepping into Axton's room from the cavern entrance...Wearing a device of some sort strapped to her head, rather like headphones inside a boxer's training headpiece...

"Sorry for the theatrics, Dad..." she sighed, Gong Li helping her unsnap the headpiece... "But we felt it was the best way to show you...So you'd be ready..."

"For her...?" he eyed her, she nodding... "We think so..."

***



"You Only Live Thrice..." Part VIII...



P.G. 13



Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...



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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html ...Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html

Part VIII...

London...The living room of Counsel ex-Chairman and chief archivist Hans Axton...

Where one William Soames Walthrop, poet, Champion, vampire, husband, and father was currently on the verge of a slight explosion...

"You want to put the bloody chip back?!..." he growled...Eyeing the group about the ex-Chairman's table...Ex-Chairman Axton having briefly left the room...

"Not in behavioral control form, William..." "W" hastily noted...

"It's just that the chip's design makes it an excellent, and when properly shielded, virtually undetectable..."

"I can tell my own wife from a cyborg, Wells!..."

"Dad..." Dawn cut in... "You couldn't tell it wasn't me, even on our local hook-up...And even with this one..." she glanced at the inactive cyborg now dragged over against the living room wall... "... being originally the male who impersonated Dr. Wyndham-Price...And it is Mom...Buffy...She's hooked up to it neurally wherever the Immortal's got her...For all extents and purposes, the cyborg is Buffy...Until they activate her control sequence..."

"That I find hardest of all to believe...That pipsqueak piece of crap capture Buffy?...I'd much sooner believe all of you are cyborgs..." he glared at the group... "If they're so good, any one of you could be..."

"If we're right, it wasn't the Immortal who got her...Dad...It's true we're not sure about this...And we don't dare let the Immortal know we can deactivate them till we do know...If she is a borg, she's the only way to find Mom...If not, great...But she'll have to explain her behavior..."

"And the fact that we detected two microwave transmissions on the cyborgs' frequency coming from her bedroom in Rome just before she left for LA..." Andrew cut in...

"Alright..." he waved a hand... "First, I want proof that all of you are as we say, human...What behavior?...She went to LA to save me and did...Why wouldn't His Benevolent Pigface have had her kill me when she had the chance?..."

"She never did, thanks to Andy's fast thinkin'..." Dawn grinned... "He got in touch with Angel and had you brought in before she could find you...Obviously His Benevolence's people didn't want to expose her...Or Giles...So they let them be and Mom naturally agreed to Andy's lil' scheme to bring you in undercover..."

"I guess His Benevolence considered it a joke...Having his Giles appoint me Assistant Vice-Chairman for Field Operations..." Andrew smiled... "But it gave me my chance to act..."

"The one big mistake that bastard made...Underestimating one Andrew Wells..." Dawn noted proudly...

Giles...Will sighed, closing eyes...Yeah...If they'd really got him, she might've...

Once again a trusted Watcher proves my poor girl's undoing...

And of all people, Andrew Wells, the one I must rely on...

Though, on the other hand...He eyed Dawn...Considering he may be my daughter's chosen one...It is a little encouraging that the kid isn't a complete...

Can't wait to hear Cicely's take on this...Though I'll definitely put in for the ole-fashioned long engagement...A long-lost dad should be allowed some quality time, after all...

"Andy can't put her off any longer now...She'll be here soon and if she doesn't see you, His Benevolence will know we're on to his agents and who knows what he'll pull...Dad, believe me...This wasn't how I wanted you two to meet again but if you're not careful..."



And she doesn't know...Dawn said, wistfully... "For her, it's the real thing...Wherever she's locked up, all she knows is she's found you again at last...And she really believes she's only holding back with the Immortal for your sake and to learn his plans..."

"But once they get you alone with her..." Gong Li noted...

"If she'd found you herself in LA, it might have been very different, Dad..." Dawn... "But thanks to Andy..." she repeated, beaming at "W"...

"Ummn...I just thought it was safer...Till we knew for sure..." Andrew looking a bit nervous under Dawn's rather possessive beam...

What, he doesn't like my daughter?...Will thought, now a bit torn... Wells, if my little girl really wants "W", it's gonna be "straight...right now"...

If I have to speak to good ole Red or get him his own version of the chip...

"I believed I heard you ask for proof as to our humanity, Mr. Walthrop..." Axton had re-entered the room...Carrying what appeared to be a fire extinguisher in one hand and a small, glowing, electrical sphere in the other...

Which he set on the table...Pressing a button on its side...

"I hate this part..." Dawn frowned... "It feels like snakes running all over you..."

"Wait, if it's gonna hurt..." Will hastily...

"That's my Dad..." she patted his hand gently...He looking at her smiling face...

Yes...I always knew...He thought...Just as I always knew Cicely would come for me...

The unit discharged after five seconds...All about the table jumping a bit from the shock...

While the cyborg on the floor suddenly caught fire...Axton immediately spraying it...

"The circuitry can't handle the broadcast power at such a narrow range..." he smiled to William...

"Unfortunately, it can't prevent a networked creature from transmitting a deactivation warning to home base or we would have tried it on Miss Summers or the Chairman some time ago..."

"Right then...If you're sure your new chip will help, lets prep me up..." William nodded... "Though as soon as I heard Andy say Giles had signed off on all the do-dads in the tunnel back there I knew something was wrong...The one thing I knew for sure was our Rupert Giles would never approve the funds to purchase all that unless he was out of his mind..."

"I did wonder about that myself..." Andrew, a faint grin... "It's when I first got a little suspicious..."

"Then I suppose my daughter is right about you, "W"..." Will smiled back... "Shall we go?..."

"We're ready to go in the other room...Fortunately, though I am not a doctor, I am well-versed in vampire anatomy and physiology and Ms. Li is a trained surgical nurse..." Axton rose...

"I'll bring him..." Dawn looked at Will who nodded at her stare...The others left...

"Ummn...Dad...?" Dawn hesitated...

"I'll be gentle, girl...She'll never know I know until it's the right time..." he smiled... "After all, as you lot say, it really is her anyway..."

"Yeah...Thanks...But actually, Dad?..." a hard look now... "I just wanted to say...I wouldn't want you to jeopardize the soul or anything...But if you can...When you and Mom do catch that benevolent son of a God-knows-how-long dead bitch..."

"I really want you guys to make it...Painful..."



"For our girl?...Anything..."

***

You Only Live Thrice..." Part IX...



P.G. 13

Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html .Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html ..

***

Part IX...

She looked exhausted, Will thought...As well anyone might after the week she'd spent in LA, not to mention the long flight...

He looked down at the baby boy in his arms... "Here, say hi to your son...He's missed you..." she'd said, dumping the kid in his lap, after the briefest, most ridiculously chaste of cheek kisses, on entering his room at the Council's secret medical facility to which Andrew, Dawn, and Gong Li had hurriedly returned him after his rather quickie episode of home brain surgery...

An equally exhausted-looking Giles behind her bearing luggage...

He concentrated a bit...Nothing...But then Axton had warned him the chip would only detect borg activity during their controlled sessions...

"What's with your head?...I thought it was your leg..." she asked, staring suddenly at his rather fresh bandage...

"Just some bad lacerations..." Gong Li hastily explained... "It's more cosmetic...The doctors figured it would look strange if anyone outside saw them heal in just a couple of days..."

"Oh..." she nodded, blinking a little...

"You're looking awful..." he noted...

"Yeah?...Thanks...That's what I came to London to hear..." she nodded...

"Why don't you sit?...You too, Rupert..." he looked over at Giles...Who waved a hand, setting down some of the bags...

"No, I've got to get to my office and see what disasters have occurred in my absence...I just wanted to make sure Buffy got here alright and to give you my best...William..." he came over, his own bag in hand and tentatively offered a hand...

"I know we did not part on exactly friendly terms, Mr. Walthrop...But I am glad..." he paused...William simply staring at the offered hand...Giles sighed...Dawn looking at him, then Will...

"No...You're right...I can't say that...Lets at least be on honest terms with each other..." he eyed Will in his bed, lowering his hand...

"Giles..." Buffy looked at him...Anger in her voice...

"I'm sorry...But I can't say I'm happy that Buffy has had to face this...It's been almost more than even she can bear and, to an extent, I rather wish she...And Dawn...Hadn't... However, the past has a way, it seems, of refusing to be denied....We can only hope its resurfacing is for the best..." he paused, noting Dawn's set and hard stare...

"Harder for me still...I'm forced to say that I'm ashamed of what our role was in what was done to you, Will...And in myself for not offering you any help...All I can do now is offer you my apologies and those of the Council...And my sincere hope that you and...Your wife and daughter...Can one day forgive us...And me..."

"Did you know?..." William asked quietly, a direct stare...The baby in his lap, stroked gently by his hand, cooing happily...Buffy looking up from her chair at Giles...A hard look in her eyes that oddly, Giles suddenly realized, matched not only Dawn's...But William's...

"No...Though I can't tell you that I would have acted differently had I known...Perhaps I might have tried...More than likely I would have felt it best you never return...And leave your reunion to Heaven..."

A returned Andrew at the door blinking at the stony faces...Buffy's the grimmest of all as she looked at Giles...

"I see..." Will nodded... "Well, as Spike or William, I appreciate honesty, Rupert...And in that same spirit need I point out your predecessors' wise policies led to my wife's and child's death, the premature loss of several great Slayers, including those killed by their creation-namely me, the enthronement of a fiend in your Chairman's seat whose fortunate removal had nothing to do with your lot's concern with his crimes, and to your current difficulties with His Benevolence?...Whose Immortal boots your Council seems to have happily licked, from what I've been told, for the past few centuries..."

"Yes..." Giles nodded... "We were wrong...And I was wrong...And that is why I've agreed to support Buffy's plan to use the curse and change the whole direction of the Council's efforts, once His Benevolence has been dealt with..."

"Good...Though it's poor Dru and Harmony Kendall and the countless others waiting for you to keep your word whom you ought to be apologizing to...You and your Council can never hope to apologize or make amends to me or my family, Mr. Chairman...Don't even try..."

Still...he eyed the now somewhat anxious-looking Buffy, then Giles... "My Buffy loves her Giles in spite of everything...Or you'd be dead now...You've made my Cicely trust a Watcher again...Whether that's a good thing or no, time will tell, Rupert...But as long as she does trust and love you, and you deserve both, you're welcome in my home...And if you ever betray that trust, I'll kill you as I wish I could've killed Simon Farris and as you would me..."

"Just so we're both being honest here..." he concluded, nodding quietly and leaning forward to take Giles' hand ...

***

"So..." Buffy looked at Will as he gently dangled a rubber toy from her travel bag to the giggling baby still in his arms...Giles departed for his office and the others seated, Andrew off to fetch some things reasonably edible and drinkable...

"Angel says he's all ours...Well, pending formal legalization of our marriage...It not being all that easy to prove we're the Cicely and William Walthrop married here in March of 1880..."

"March 11th..." Dawn cut in... "And I don't intend to let it pass without a party and a lot of stupid and useless gifts next year..."

"I mean...I guess we could just get married again...It might save hassle, Angel says..." Buffy carefully noted...Not looking at Will...

"Screw it..." William shook his head...Buffy staring...I...

"I guess..." she started to rise...Trembling hand to hair... "I just thought...I...I shouldn't've assumed...I'm sorry..." her voice catching...Standing and ready to run for the hall...Dawn, a pleading look to him, he waving a hand to cut her off...

"Cicely..." he called to Buffy, sharply...

So he really is one of those...Victorian...husbands...Gong Li eyed him...As Buffy halted...

"I mean, screw the hassle...We were married on March 11th, 1880, as our girl says, and we'll make that official if we have to threaten to expose every tie the US and British governments ever had to Wolfram-Hart or any other malevolent force...Ole Liam'll get it squared in good time with a little help from the Council..."



"Though, since you always did want an open-air service, I'd be willing to do one of those vow renewal things, if you like some time...Just make sure Willow has something good cooked up for me, Mrs. Big Pile of Dust..."

"I had her working on daylight protection spells since I heard..." Buffy said...Coming back to his bed and sitting slowly in her chair...A faint smile at him...

"You always were a forward-thinking girl, Cicely..." he smiled...

***

The luxurious living quarters of the Director of European Field Operations for His Benevolence, Geneva, Switzerland...Same time...

Where the said Director, Mr. Alexander George...While maintaining a firm grip on operations pertaining to l'affair Walthrop, was engaged in entertaining a co-worker and close "friend"...One Andrea Goronvich, 2nd assistant director of public relations...

"So, I'm sorry we can't hit the town, Andrea...But you understand...The Director must keep to where he can direct during a critical time..."

"Oh, this is wonderful, Alexander..." she beamed at his chubby frame... "You've got the best view in Geneva...And this has gotta be the best dinner I've had in town..."

"Well...Nothin's too good for my Andy..." he patted her arm fondly... "But I wish I could take you out to a show...The Von Trapp Family Singers are touring Switzerland this week... "

"Oooh...Well...I understand..." she sighed... "You have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, Alexander George...The thing with Miss Summers and that Mr. Walthrop...Phase Three and Four...The whole freakin' fate of Humanity...Maybe..."

"Yeah...I'm a 24/7 man, sweetheart...And you never know just when His B is gonna..."

"Is that?..." Andrea stared at the desk where an oddly bleeping phone's flashing central line light indicated an incoming call...

Ummn...George stared at the phone...And raced for it...

"It could be, baby...It could be..." he nodded, lifting the receiver as Andrea gasped...

Wow...

"George here...Yes? ...Yes, sir, your Benevolence..." he eyed the beaming Andrea, a thumb's up... "Miss Summers and Mr. Giles arrived on schedule and she's with Walthrop right now at the Council's medical facility..."

"Yes, sir...Our field agents Mr. Creed and Ms. Waverly are in position and will move as soon as their target's at hand...We, uh...Having arranged things so that the Walthrops will be coming to them shortly...Away from the Council as you wished, sir..."

"Oh, I will be there, sir...Every detail tended to by me, personally, sir...Where, sir?...Well...I felt the Regale the best place, your Benevolence...It's a controlled environment for us, sir and it made logical sense as they suspect you already...Philips did the necessary programming and I'm sure they'll come...Right into our arms..."

"Well, thank you , sir..." a beam and wink to Andrea... "I hope to pass on very good news, shortly...Uh...Yes, sir..." Solemn tone... "It will be a tragedy, sir...I wish there was some other way, too, sir...But, we'll carve him as a dish fit for the gods, sir...Thank you, sir, I try to keep up with my reading, sir...Anytime, your Benevolence, I'm at your disposal 24/7/365...That's very kind of you, sir, I do try to keep fit...I will be in constant touch, sir...Good night, sir..."

"Now there is one hell of a guy, Andrea..." Mr. George nodded at the phone he'd just set down... "All his cares and responsibilities and he tells me to try and take care of myself...Humanity couldn't have a better guardian, I tell ya..."

"Yeah..." Andrea nodded... "Still..." sigh... "Seems a shame ya gotta kill the poor guy after all he's done..."

"Like I said to His B just now, a tragedy, honey...But...The needs of the many, baby...The needs of the many..."



"Like with Spock when he died..." she noted...

"Yeah..." a sincere note of sorrow in his voice... "Just like Spock..." he shook his head sadly...

"I guess we're off for tonight?..." she eyed him...

"Not at all, honey...Not at all...There's no rush...He and Buffy are getting together, a little cry and make-up and happy talk, a little noshin'...That rules out tonight...And he has trouble with daylight, remember?...Plus the intelligence and instructions we've passed on all call for tomorrow night...They won't be leaving till then...And, if you'd like..." he smiled... "How'd you like to see the most fabulous and legendary place of intrigue, romance, and gambling in Europe?..."

"Oh..." Andrea nearly choked on a bone from her excitement... "You mean...The Regale?...Casino Regale?!..." He nodded...

"The one and only, baby...His Benevolence's...Casino...Regale...Where Mr. Walthrop will meet his fate...And a certain Assistant Vice-Chairman...His match..." firm, decisive look...

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part X...

PGS 13



Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html .Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html ..

***

Part X..



At Will's bedside, the conversation had turned to talk of the Benevolent One...And plans to delete the Im- from his name...

"After our people monitoring things in LA found out about the attack on Angel's place by the borgs, we found out the Dr. Wyndham-Price in England was also a borg..." Buffy was continuing... "The Council's people kept him under surveillance and traced his signal to an abandoned site in Nottinghamshire where we found Dr. Wyndham-Price alive but totally unaware of what had happened..."

"So Andrew tole me..." Will nodded...

"Giles had everyone checked and we found no more but heard the borgs had been active fighting agents of the Partners in various locales...Looked like either a new force or a power struggle...But we couldn't trace them to a central control..." she paused, Dawn looking over from where she sat, the baby in her arms now...A glance to Will...

"Then the Immortal offered us his help..."

"Charming...And no one suspected he might have his own agenda?..." Will frowned...

"We knew Angel was trying to deceive the Partners into believing he'd fully accepted their deal...We needed some way to keep tabs on him without giving his game away to them...The Immortal offered to pretend to join the Partners, help in keeping an eye on Angel...Given his past record of working with the Council on some pretty serious missions, we agreed...Then, after I found out about us...And Andy tole us about you..."

"How long did our ace of spies, "W", hold out?..."

"Called me from the plane home..." she grinned at a sheepish Andrew...

"Will, he offered me help in keeping you safe till I could figure out what to do..." Buffy noted... "I wasn't sure how to deal...If you hated me already, when you found out about Cicely...Me..." she paused... "I was suspicious of him even then but..."

"How could you think I hated you?..."

"How could you not come straight to Rome?..." she countered... "What else was I supposed to think?...Either you hated me or...Worse...You didn't care at all any more...And worst of all...Maybe, somehow...You'd found out about the past..."

He frowned, a quick, hard look to Andrew who returned a nervous, but steady stare...Will, careful...Then shrugged... "But how did you lot get concerned about His Benevolently Bullshiting intentions if he'd taken you all in so neatly?..."



"Some of our people started coming in with data that indicated his firms had been focusing on high-grade robotics and electronics...Giles authorized a probe...Plus, like I tole ya..." she frowned...

"Just something about him didn't fit...Insincere...And I could see he was a grandstanding jerk..." she shook her head... "I just couldn't buy his self-sacrificing line...And then he kept insisting how dangerous it could be for you if I made contact...Then Andy..." she grinned at Andrew...Dawn beaming as well...

"Returned to his geek past for the Council's sake and did some checking...He found a series of microwave transmissions on the cyborgs' frequency....Well concealed but not well enough for a whiz like him and traced them all back to one place...San Lucea, the Immortal's little principality up in the north of Italy, on the border...And we knew he was behind the borgs..."

Dawn eyeing William carefully as Buffy...'Buffy'?...Wrote the latest big bad's fatal scenario...

"Anyway...Immortal...schmortal...We'll send him on his benevolent way when the time comes..." she waved a hand...

"Long as we got you out and safe, thanks to Andy...I don't have a care in the world..." quietly, not looking at him for a moment...

"Exceptin' how we're gonna feed, clothe, shelter, and college-educate two kids.." .she grinned at him now...

"Not that Giles doesn't do what the Council can by way of salary for their new "global survey" director...I think my job is officially supposed to be something about history or archeology and sending crews somewhere to dig things up or clean them or something... "

"Obviously they picked the right man for the job..." he smiled...

"Shut up...I am trying to learn a little about that end...After all my mom was into museums and art and all...And I'm a good trainer..."

"And a fine general..."

"Slayer Councilor General now...That's my real title...Say, will Rome be a good locale for you till we can unload our place there?...If you're staying in Europe, though, we might want to consider buying it...They're converting to condos and have started selling there... Giles says the Council would cover you with a history of working for them as to mortgage..."

"Nice..." he nodded...Grinning suddenly... "Are we talking finance, homebuying, and college for the kiddies like a dull old married couple?..."

"Yeah..." she nodded back... "'Cause we are...Old man..."

"Ball and chain..."

Yes, I am going to make it very painful...he thought, struggling to maintain control...If the Immortal has put the slightest crimp on this, the most wonderful day of my existence...If she so much as drops a tear cause it wasn't fully her here tonight...

And if she's hurt...God, You Yourself had best fear us...'Cause You allowed that thing existence and I...And my beloved Missus...Know where You live...

"Will?..." she was noticing his clenching hands...Knuckles white on the bedrail...

Not to mention the bending bedrail...

"Is anything wrong?...You okay?..."

Hmmn?... "Oh...Sorry...Just musing a bit on what I'll do to our friend for trying to screw up our reunion..." he smiled faintly at her...

"So what is his Benevolent beef with one Walthrop, now anyhow?...Why'd he suddenly want me out of the picture after letting me hang round the Brooding One all last year?..."

"Cause it was time to let Angel ice his Partners and he knew it would destroy me to lose you again after this last year..." she said quietly...Not looking at him and moving to Dawn, reaching for the baby which Dawn a bit reluctantly handed over...She sat down again...



"If things had worked out you and Angel would be gone as well as his Partners and I'd...I..."

"...would really be off my stride..." she grinned wanly... "Though I guess...With two kids to watch out for..."

"I would hope so, Mrs. Walthrop...At least till Dawn finished college..." he smiled back... "Though I do appreciate the sentiment, love..."

"Yeah...Anyway..." she waved a hand...Hugging the baby tightly with the other... "Thanks to Andy we reached you guys in time and got you out...And we can wipe up the floor with His Benevolence in our own good time..."

It's ok now...she beamed...A few tears glistening...

For every one of those tears...He thought...And for all those inside me...

Don't push me further, Lord...I am not some moronic Lucifer who'll waste his time fighting you on the Heavenly playing field fair and square...Give him to me and give me back my wife...Intact...

He'd calmed before she could look up...Though Dawn had caught his look...And now gave him the briefest of nods...

Yes, fear us, God...For my daughter and I know where You live...

"Well, forgetting as to my end...Angel's offered to make me head of what left of Wolfram-Hart, Europe..." he eyed Buffy, a brief hand squeeze ... "Even Christ Jr. can't be everywhere at once and there are a few die-hards who want to make off with the till if not try to revive the old firm...Not to mention the other corporate vultures circling round, closing to tear off what they can of the remains..."

She considered, nodding head...Not bad...Still, she frowned a little...

"I was hoping you were starting to write again...You're a poet, Will...I don't want you taking some job you won't be happy with just to pay the bills...We'll get by...Heck, I'll follow Anya's pay-per-Slay plan if I have to..."

"Poetry got me into this mess, girl...Well..." he grinned at her sour pout... "Not all a mess at that...And I did get back into things a bit in LA...I did one of those slam things just before we took on the Partners..."

"Hey..." she smiled... "Damn, you..." slight glare... "I coulda been there if you'd had some guts to face me...Of course I wouldn't've let you go near the Partners but..."

"So what did you read?..." she gave him a sly look... "My poem...?" Pulling out a small, worn book from her handbag on the bed which she opened to a bookmarked page...

He stared...

" 'To Cicely'...Ahem...My soul is wrapped in harsh repose, midnight descends in raven-colored clothes, but soft…behold! A sunlight beam cutting a swath of glimmering gleam...My heart expands, 'tis grown a bulge in it, inspired by..." grin... "(My) beauty…effulgent..." she read...Archly letting him see the cover... "The Collected Works of William Soames Walthrop..."

Andrew rolling eyes...Not again...

The one time I felt sympathy for His Benevolence was that night we both had to sit and listen to her read the whole book...

"Andrew..." Dawn hissed, catching his eye with a grim look...Returning to watching Buffy read with a rapt expression...As he noted was Gong Li...

Hmmn...Every sentence pure torture for me...Maybe it's just the daughter thing and the Slayer's memories?...Or have I really become way more manly?...

Uh-oh...He caught the harsh gleam in Will's eye...Her reading the poem...Cicely's poem...And therefore, Buffy's...Had clearly moved one Walthrop to his outer limits...

"Guys..." he heroically...Sometimes an Assistant Vice-Chairman's life does not matter...Cut in...Buffy's stare as hard as Will's...Dawn's not far behind..

"Sorry to interrupt but I think we should consider our next move...His Benevolence is sure to push his plans forward now..."

Dawn catching on, her own glare dimmed a bit... "Andy's right, guys..." she eyed Will... "We best figure out what we want to do before he decides for us..."

"Yeah...I guess..." Buffy sighed, frowning at Dawn...Geesh, I wait one hundred and twenty six years to let him know I loved that one and we can't put the family business on hold for ten minutes?...

"Right..." William nodded coolly... "I vote we pay a call on His Benevolence and show him how much we appreciate his help this past year..."

"You can't go chargin' in Dad..." Dawn shook her head...

"Sure we can...Now we're together..." Buffy shrugged... "I wanna wrap this up quick and go on my honeymoon...I did mention it's been a little delayed already?..."

"We need to handle this carefully..." Andrew pulled his chair closer... "If we don't have proof you two could wind up in jail...His Benevolence isn't some nobody vamp lord, you know... "

"Eh...We're all dust in the end, Andrew..." Will waved a hand... "But seeing as we are responsible parents..." he nodded to Buffy holding baby... "What did you have in mind?..."

"We need to get incriminating information...And more about the Master Plan..." Andrew nodded solemnly...

"A little strangling should do the trick nicely...All right, what then?..."

"Buffy has a standing invitation to visit his principality's greatest attraction...And if she brought you...For a sort of vacation, to meet the guy who'd helped her save you..." Andrew eyed both Buffy and Will shrewdly...

"Accept his hospitality, gather some intelligence, and then we rip him apart...Hmmn..." Will pondered...

"I like this one..." Buffy nodded... "And I gotta admit, I did like the place...Especially Casino Regale...Remember that weekend we went, Dawn?..."

"Casino Regale?...Where all Europe's most worthless come to spend the money their ancestors ripped from the flesh of the poor and nameless?...You know, Dru and I once..." Will paused...

"Who and you?...What?..." Buffy...Hard stare...

"Ummn...nothing..."

See borg Buffy or no it's the ole memory hole for all things Dru from now on...he thought...

"Not to mention...Where Europe's spies come, hoping to find out something to justify padding their expense accounts..." Andrew noted... "We're sure to get something on him there..."

"Yeah...We sure are..." Dawn chimed in...

Buffy eyed Will...Will, Buffy...

"We as in us...Not you..." Buffy grimly noted...

"Mom...Dad's leg...You've been off-stride...You need us..."

"The hell we do...."

"Off-stride?..." Will asked...



"Nothing...I've been letting things get to me...Slowed down a little...I'm fine now..." Buffy shrugged... "Anyway, your father and I want some time alone...Especially with the Immortal...You and Andrew can stay here and keep in touch...Coordinate our field work...That's Andrew's job, anyway..."

"Right..." Will nodded... "And speaking of time alone...It's late...And Mother and I would appreciate you lot clearing out...We'll have a busy day tomorrow and she needs her beauty rest..."

Dawn looked at Andrew, Andrew at Dawn...Alone?...

'Mother and I'...?

"Out..." he eyed them... "We'll keep Will Jr. with us...I would let you stay, Dawn but you are a little big to be sleepin' with the parents...We'll have breakfast with you tomorrow before we head out..."

"But..."

"Go..." Buffy pointed, a grin breaking as she looked back at Will... "Andy, tell Giles what's up and that we'll meet with him after we have breakfast with our girl...See ya, guys..."

They eyed the two unyielding stares...

"See you tomorrow then..." Andrew nodded... "Lets go, Dawn...Gong Li?..."

Andy?...Dawn stared...Gong Li likewise...

"Good...Nigh...it..." Buffy rising, pressed them towards the door...

"Sweet dreams, Nibs..." Will called...

The door closed on them...Dawn and Gong Li rounding on "W"...Who had assumed a thoughtful air...

"Andrew?...She'll kill him...It's what they've been waiting for..."

"No..." he shook his head... "Not tonight...Your father's right, Dawn...He knows they don't want to expose her if they don't have to...They'll wait till he's where they can kill him without any danger of losing their operative...Very likely they'd rather not activate her at all, just let her lead him into destruction...They won't think we know much and won't risk giving away so much...He'll be fine..."

I hope...he thought...

***

A passionate embrace broken...Uh... "Maybe we oughta watch it..."

"Should I call the nurse?..."

"I mean with Will Jr. here..." Will noted, patting the giggling baby...

"Knew I shoulda let Dawn take him..." Buffy frowned..."You really up for this?...I mean, tomorrow, no way I'd've left tonight...Your leg and all?..."

"What, miss our first trip together as a legit couple over a bum leg?...Don't be ridiculous..."

"Poor Dawn..." Buffy sighed, smiling at Will as she lay next to him in the bed, the baby cooing happily between... "I think she was hurt to have to give you up to me so soon..."

"She'll get over it...I'll arrange some quality time soon as this little matter's settled...Say what is this 'us' she was talkin' about?...Tell me she didn't mean her and..."



"Well...They were together a lot in Rome this year..." Buffy, hesitantly...

"Oh, Jesus...Cicely...Look...I'm not criticizing your parentin', girl...But, Andrew Wells?..."

"Sweetheart, she's in college...She's not a kid anymore...'Sides, if you had come to Rome when you shoulda..."

"So, it's my fault then?..."

"Andy's not a bad guy...And who knows if it's serious..."

" 'Us' sounds serious..."

"We'll talk to her..."

"And to him...Tomorrow..."

"Will..."

***

You Only Live Thrice..." Part XI...

PGS. 13

Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

Archived at the Cicelyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse, www.geocities.com/buffyrebecca/Cicelypg.html . Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html ..

***

Part XI..



Sleeping car of high speed train from Geneva to San Lucea...4 am...

"Al...I think your phone..." 2nd PR assistant Andrea nudged the Immortal's European Field Director, Alexander George, who mumbled, groaned, rolled...

"Alexander...Your phone..." she tried again, this time he turned and blinked...Huh?...

Oh..."Thanks, darling..." he took the phone she offered him...

"George here?...Yes, sir?..."

Geesh...Doesn't His Benevolence ever sleep?...Andrea wondered...

"I'm on the train for San Lucea now, sir...Well, thank you, sir...Oh, not at all, Your Benevolence...What, sir?...Really?...Well, it is a logical choice, sir...Actually it only helps if we won't be forced to employ our operatives again to get them to come, sir...But we will be on guard, sir...Yes, sir, Your Benevolence...I'll have Phillips standing by in case we require activation, sir, but of course we'll do all we can to avoid exposure...Thank you, sir...And may I wish you a good morning too, sir...Yes, Your Benevolence...Thank you..."

"Hmmn..." he looked at Andrea as she took the closed phone and set it back on the bedside stand...She taking careful care not to disturb whatever great matters were on his mind...

"Looks like Mr. Wells and I think alike...According to our latest from England, the Walthrops are coming straight into our web...Tonight..."

"Really?..."

"Yeah, it seems they called and booked a room at the Casino's Grand Hotel...There was no need to utilize our operatives..." he frowned...Hmmn...

"You figured they'd come..." Andrea noted... "You said our operatives had been instructed to get him to San Lucea before...After Mr. Wells got Walthrop out of LA..."

"Yeah...But general instructions that'd get them to suggest San Lucea, not to head straight to the target...I thought they'd make for San Lucea, take a look see from some quiet spot and we could manipulate things to get them to the Casino in our own good time...I wonder...Of course the Casino is one of the hottest places in the principality and all Europe...A famed watering hole for spies of all kinds and species...I guess it stands to reason they'd try it right off the bat...And their cover story is that they're on vacation..."

"At Casino Regale?...Watchers' Council and Angel's place must really pay..."

"Still...It is a little too good...You know, I've a gift for sensing these things..."

"You're ready for them there, right?..."

"Oh, sure...Sure..." he drummed fingers a bit...Hmmn...

"Maybe it's time we firmed up our intelligence net a little...And I'd best put in a call to Creed...Just so he and Drusilla are on their toes tonight..."

***

London...Watchers' Council secret medical facility...4:20 am...

"You awake?..." Hesitant whisper...

"Am now..."

"Sorry..."

"It's fine...But not too loud..." he indicated the sleeping baby...

"Yeah...God, Will...Isn't he wonderful?..."

"That he is..." fond glance... "A fine addition to the Walthrop line...Me mum..." he paused...

"Yeah...So would mine..."

"A boy and girl...It's..." he shook his head a little in wonder...

"Yeah..." a contented sigh... "Will?...Thanks..."

"For what?..."

"For him...And for everything..."

"You too..."

"Thanks..."

"Say, Dawn said you were wearin'..."

"Yeah...I forgot to show you...Wanna see?..." she held her hand out to him...A large gold wedding band on the fourth finger of the left hand...

"That's really it?...The same one?..." He repressed a momentary urge to yank it from the finger...No, she believes she's here...She is here...Save it, save it for that benevolent bastard...

"It is...Right out of the archives..."

"Jesus...Say, how the hell did the Watchers get it?...Pry it off your dead hand?..." Did it?...he wondered...No, she's alive...Wherever...They needed her and she is alive...

But for taking this from her finger...He stroked the ring gently...I will take several of his...And force-feed them down his Immortal throat...And various other orifices of my choice...

Pardon me, love...Our...Choice...

"I wondered myself...No use dwellin' on it though..." she held the ring hand up closer to her eyes...

"I suppose...Unless they ever screw us again, in which case we add it to the list of grievances...Agreed?..."

"Sure..."

"Looks good there..."

"Yeah...I can keep it on now, too...Even on the mission...The Soon-to-be-Mortal knows about Cicely and our marriage..."

"Ah...No wonder he wanted me deader..."

"I bet you say that to all your reincarnated wives...William...?"

"Yeah?..."

"Was it really just?...In LA, I mean..."

"Love, it was only once...I'd been disembodied essence for months...I'm sorry..."

"What?...I'm talkin' about you not coming to Europe..."

"Oh..."

Dawn, don't tell me you knew and she didn't...

"What were you talking' about?...Or, rather, who...?"

"Uh...The same thing, I think..." he looked straight up at the ceiling...

"...'only once'?...Doesn't sound like angst over a decision to meet up with your honey..." she'd turned her head to frown at him...

"It wasn't that I didn't want to come...Soon as I corporealized, I took on ole Angel in what we thought was a fight for the Prophecy..."

"Prophecy?...Which prophecy?...Oh, the human thing...Will..." eager lilt...

"Beat 'im, too..." slyly offhand tone... Then dip... "But it was all a trick...Still, if I had won..."

"I didn't need you human, you moron...I needed you..."

Yeah...And if I had been here, like I should've been...Maybe...

"I know I let you down, love..."

"Are we talking about Ms. 'only once' again?...Or..."

"I mean I should've come straight away...But I was just afraid I'd come and..."

"Sounds like I was the one who let you down..." she sighed...

"You didn't believe 'cause I didn't let you...But...I think now it was Cicely's fear holding me back..."

"I'd say we both screwed it then...Maybe, though, we both needed the time to work things through..."

"Hmmn...Will, we've both said a lot of stupid things in our lifetimes...But that's the stupidest thing ever..."

"Yeah..."

"Well...Cicely's 'protect Will by sending him away' scheme was about as dumb I suppose...I guess we should say things like that to people who ask and pretend it was profound and wise to wait...And swear between us we'll never do something so stupid again...Leave it at that?..."

"I can just see the critical essays by historians of the occult right now, sneering at the common dolt asking if it wasn't just plain stupid of us..."

"You know two Councilors already want to write a book on us...Willow's thinkin' about one...Giles is withholding permission supposedly till we settle my curse project and with the Immortal, but I think he's really just tryin' to leave Willow a chance to start first...So, who was she?..."

"Red wants to do our lives' stories?...Well...Why not?...But I wouldn't mind us takin' a crack at an autobiography..."

"Oh, God...Was it Dru?...Tell me it wasn't Drusilla...?"

"No...Certainly not...Cicely, I never even considered it..."

"Thank God...So...There was someone...?" hesitant tone...

"Though if any one else writes our story I do think Willow would be a good choice...Assuming she can write..."

"Fine...I guess I have no right to ask...I left you to die, after all...Hell, yesterday I was terrified you wouldn't even speak to me...It's probably good you have someone in the wings in case I screw it again..."

"Will you stop?..."

"...Though I did reincarnate to save you, I'm sure of it now...You know Giles warned me after I found out about Cicely in the archives...Said I ought to realize even if it were true, you might have moved on...And I remembered how you were when you got the soul back...No more hounding me at every turn, telling me you'd do anything to prove you loved me...You were all understanding and resignation...So nobly romantic...I hated it...I thought you'd remembered somebody else...The real love of your life Spike had seen somehow in me...I even thought maybe that was why you were so willing to die at the Hellmouth...You wanted to go chasing her again, that girl you tole me about...Who never loved you..." she paused...

"So I thought...For an instant, only..." he replied... "Though, maybe...In a way...But I didn't not love you...I told you enough times post- as well as presoul and you know that ...It's just...Maybe in a way..."

"Yeah...Woman's intuition...But you loved me, I knew...Only, in the end, not enough to stay...God, God I was so..." she gulped... "I hated you for dying and not believing me...I hated me for letting you go ...The first second in the archives, when I saw Cicely's photo with you, I wanted to die..."

He turned to stare at her...

"But a second later, I remembered..." she said simply... "And horrible as it was...Knowing I'd killed you twice...Condemned you...That it was all my fault...I was so happy...Between it all I think I went a little crazy...I nearly killed Giles right then and there, I was so insane with rage, but all the time my heart was singin'...I wish you'd been there..."

"I should've...I'll never forgive myself for not being there..."

"Don't ever say that..." she quickly replied, tense...

"There's been enough of that over this century...We've had enough angst and sorrow to last all Eternity...It's time to be dumbly happy and content..."

"Sounds like the American dream..."

"My gift from life as Buffy, the happy little Californian blonde..." she smiled...

"Wasn't all that..." he eyed her...

"No...But I think I've learned the hard way to appreciate the times it was...For her...And for Cicely...And cherish those moments as much as the romantically profounder ones..."

"This qualify?..."

"Middlin' between..."

He nodded...And sighed...

"Harmony...But just the one time..."

"Oh, shit!...Harmony?!...Oooh, sorry..." she gently soothed the now-crying baby who settled down after a few moments...

"Harmony?!..." she continued, in a harsh whisper...

"I thought Dawn told you...She knew..."

"Dawn knew?..." she whispered...

"I guess she didn't want you hurt...Though who told her, I don't know..."

"She made the first call to Angel...When we wanted to establish secret communication with him...Giles figured the safest way was just to have her call from a random Italian pay phone when the Immortal was with us in London...I'll bet anything Harmony told her..."

"That would be like her..."

"Maybe..." she gave him a sidelong look... "It's good, in a way...I was having something of a problem about Riley and Angel...This kinda makes us even...So..."

"I mean I don't count Drusilla..." she noted quickly... "That was Spike..."

"Right..." Phew... Wait... "'Even'?...One time with Harmony, just to check things out after recorporealization?...That's 'even'?..."

"Quit while you're ahead..."

"Right..." he sighed...

"Will?...Did you really beat Angel to that thing?...The phony prophecy?..."

"Left him soddin' in the dust...It was for you, after all...Well, the intent..."

"You're a good man, William Soames Walthrop...But I knew that in 1880..."

***

'Even'...Right...

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part XII...



P.G. 13



Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

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

Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html ..

***



Part XII...

Outside William's room at the Watchers' secret medical facility...7:30 am...

Dawn, in blouse and slacks nervously standing by the door with "W" in his usual Assistant Chairman's suit...Chairman Giles' own style, naturally...Conservative and manly ...Despite the wild hair, which Dawn frowned at, rather happy to find something to concern herself with besides what was going on behind the closed door...

"Andy, your hair..." she pulled a brush from the Italian handbag at her side and began fussing...

He glumly allowing her ministrations for a moment...Though she backed off as several male and female staffers...Young Observer candidates, just the sort of dweebs to start making and spreading dumb jokes...Appeared in the opening door of the corridor elevator...On their way to the early Undead Anatomy and Forensic Training class in the facility's teaching hall...

"That's a little better...Andy, what am I gonna with you?..." she clucked at him...But kept her voice low as the others passed, one or two nodding to "W"...At least one young woman chuckling a bit as she went by, staring at them...

Jerk...Filing a mental note of the woman's image...Hopefully she's a borg...Or one of the voluntary traitors...Dawn, glaring after the group...

"See...Andy, you gotta watch this sorta thing now..." she hissed... "These guys'll walk all over you if they think they can..." She stopped, seeing the sympathetic look on his face...

"He's ok, Dawn..." Andrew patted her... "They wouldn't try to kill him like this...Their sleeper is too valuable to expose...Besides, even they know your mom would blow out the whole system before she'd let her borg hurt him...They're playing it cautious till our people reach the Immortal's place..."

"And a few sniggers don't matter..." he shook his head, undoing much of her efforts... "I've come round to my friend Jonathan's way of thinking...It doesn't matter if folks don't think much of me, I care about them...Besides, if they think I'm an idiot, word gets back to His Benevolence that I'm an idiot...Which is why I wound up with a title here in the first place..." sheepish grin...

"Andy..." she sighed...

Still, point taken...

"Ok, you're right..." she nodded, whispering... "But when this is over I'm making damned sure everyone knows it wasn't Giles or Angel or even Mom or Dad who uncovered this one..."



The door opened suddenly, William on slightly wobbily legs, carefully supported at his right by an anxious Buffy...

"Ah, a reception committee..." he grinned... "Mr. Assistant Chairman, ole 'W' himself..."

"Dad?...You ok?..." Dawn looked at the two before her and Andrew...Fine, fine...Will waved a hand, shrugging... "Just strained things a bit..." Ummn... "Stretching...A little physical therapy..."

"Dawn?..." Buffy stared at the two before her and William... "You two weren't here all night?..."

"Or somewhere together...?" Will frowned...Ow!...@%#!...

"Will...!" Buffy hissed as he rubbed his jabbed limb-missing side... "We agreed we'd talk about it later..."

"About what?..." Dawn looked at both... "You guys were talking about us?..."

"What parents do, girl..." Will nodded... "But we'll get to that later..."

"Really there's nothing for you to talk about..." Andrew began... "Dawn and I..."

"Can decide for ourselves about us, thanks..." Dawn firmly cut in...

"Weren't we all gonna have breakfast?...And you were gonna tell your Dad how it went when you found out..." Buffy tried...

"The hell you will, Nibs...This may be 2006 but I was raised to look out for my children's futures..." William returned, a bit sternly... "And I damned well intend to put my two cents' worth in here..."

Dawn blinked at his set face...Sputtering...

"You...You think you can suddenly walk into this family and start dictating to me?!...You may be my father spiritually but there's no way I'm...!"

"Guys..." Buffy pleaded...Nervously eyeing passers-by in the hallway...Several nursing and Council types, all pausing to watch the ruckus involving the Council's famed stars...

"Dawn...William...Lets save this for later...We do have a mission to coordinate..."Andrew, placatingly...

"What?..." Dawn glared at him now...William looking a bit coolly at him as well... "Andrew?... Are you gonna let him tell us we can't see each other?...For cryin' out loud, Andy..."

"Dawn, I didn't mean that but...I...It's not like we ever had...Heck, I didn't even..."

"Andrew...." she stared at him, a bewildered look... "Are you sayin'...?"

"Yes, just what are you saying, Mr. Wells?..." Will asked coldly...

"Andrew?..." Buffy staring at him now, a bit of glare entering as well...

"It's just..." the Assistant Chairman glanced at the three Walthrops now united in glare...

"I mean, Dawn and I...We were close this past year, of course...And I really like..."

Giles' sudden appearance at the corridor's elevator door causing the conversation to come to a screeching halt...

"All of you are up early...Anything wrong?..." he glanced at the group's faces... "William?..." he stared where Buffy was supporting his arm...

"Not a thing, Rupert..." Will hastily replied... "We were just considering a few details about today's little trip...And I'm just getting a few last kinks out of the new leg..."



Yeah...Buffy nodded...A quick glance to Dawn...

"I see...Well, if I'm not intruding on a family gathering I was hoping to join you all at breakfast...I have our latest on His Benevolence's activities..."

"Sounds great Giles...Heck you're family...More than some of us..." Buffy smiled at him...A sidelong glance at the sheepish-looking Assistant Chairman...

"I gotta..." Dawn gasping a little... "I gotta go to the ladies room for a mo...Be right back..." she hurried off...

"Yeah, me too..." Buffy, following after...A slight, quick, hard glare back at Andrew...

Hmmn?...Giles stared after them...

"Was Dawn upset about something?...She seemed to be crying..."

"Probably just the joy of finding her family again..." Will noted... "I'd hardly think there could be anyone...Living...Who'd want to risk causing my daughter grief..." he smiled blandly...

"Eh, 'W'...?" he looked at Andrew...Who blushed a bit...

***

At the facility dining area, Slayer nurse Gong Li had joined the group...As, at several nearby tables, had a number of eager Observers and other young staff...As well a few older, who at least were discreet enough to keep a reasonable distance...

"I think we're in a zoo or something..." Buffy hissed to Will... "Do they all have to watch us like that?..."

"Price of fame, girl..." he noted... "Still..." he rose...Addressing the three nearest tables with their gawkers...

"Pardon me, folks...But would you lot clear out to the tables back there?...This is a high security briefing with the Chairman...Eh, Rupert?..." he turned to Giles...

"Oh, yes...Quite right...Sorry for the inconvenience, I should have reserved this room...If you would move back a few tables, please..."

The reluctant members of the fan club moved off...

"That one has a camera..." Buffy indicated one young woman looking their way from her table...Hurriedly putting something in her purse as Will and Giles glanced at her...

"You think she's...?" Dawn, carefully maintaining a cold two seats from an embarrassed-looking Andrew...A withering glance when he tried to move closer...

"Just a star-crazed Slayer...The Immortal's folks would be a little more subtle..." Will shook his head... "Though you might want to make sure she's not looking to sell photos to the tabloids, Rupert..."

"Ginny Stevens...I'll speak to her..." Giles nodded... "So..." he regarded William, then Buffy... "Are you sure you're up to this so soon, Will?..." he asked..."If you need more time to recuperate..."

"I'm fine...Nothing better than a little exercise to get everything running smoothly...Besides, this is just intelligence-gathering, right?...A quick trip to the Immortal's famed little anthill to see what we can when we kick said hill open while my Missus and me have our first proper vacation together..."

"No kicking..." Giles frowned... "I do not want to see you two spending the next ten years in prison...Remember that the Immortal is not some vampire who'll disappear without consequences when you stake him..."

"So we're in Angel's grey zone..." Will frowned... "Damn, I hate grey after this last year...Still, it will give me the chance to squire my lovely lass properly about a pretty place...Not our real honeymoon, of course..."

"That's for sure..." Buffy noted firmly... "I want a month, at least...And I want Will to have something for daylight operation..."



"We're working on it..." Giles nodded... "Willow should have something for you when she returns from her parents..."

"Great...Though I'd've liked something right now..." she frowned a little...

"It'll be better...I'd rather save that for when we're really on our own..." Will patted her hand...

"And as for the target for our little excursion?..." he eyed Giles...

"Yes..." he nodded... "Well, as you know, His Benevolence is supposed to be assisting us with Buffy's global soul restoration project...Discussing that...As well as simply wishing to enjoy a brief vacation...Is your cover story..."

"Good enough..." Will nodded... "Speaking of your little memorial to yours truly..." he eyed Buffy... "Has anyone thought to look to poor Dru?..."

"I've thought about it...Especially since Cicely resurfaced..." Buffy replied grimly...

"Angel is trying to find her...And have support ready to help her..." Giles cut in...

"Love, she couldn't help herself..." Will tried... "And for a poor innocent like her to resurface so suddenly in such a fiend's body..."

"Then she'd appreciate our helping first..." Dawn, equally grimly...

"You'd never have heard Green Day if you'd been born alive in 1880, Nibs..." Will pointed out...

"Point taken..." she nodded sagely...

***

Breakfast over, Giles and Gong Li having excused themselves under pressure of work with a promise to see them off later, and in spite of Dawn's continuing coolness towards him...Buffy and Will now feeling a bit more sympathetic...A bit... "W" was in his element as he led the Walthrop clan to his departmental labs to provide them with their equipment for the mission...

"So where's Q got to, W..." Will asked as they looked round the gleaming labs...

"I'm in Sacramento..." Willow's image appeared before them... "And it's R, Spike..."

"Sorry..." she caught Buffy and Dawn's stare... "William..."

"Spike's still a fine handle..." he shook his head, smiling... "California still intact?..."

"The usual wildfires...Talk of another quake impending...Nothing too bad..." she grinned...

"Wil?..." Buffy asked... "Spell or..."

"Hologram..." Willow replied... "My battery's a bit down for trans-continental spells..."

So she knows...Will caught the brief hardness behind the smile as she replied to Buffy...

He glanced at Andrew's non-committal expression as he watched the exchange...Well...I have misjudged ole W...An ace in the hole in California...Good lad...

Well...Perhaps...he looked quickly at Dawn now talking to Willow...

***

Chairman Giles' office...Ten minutes later...

"Mr. Chairman?...You wished to see me?..." Gong Li entered the office carefully...



"Gong Li…" he nodded… "Thanks for interrupting your work to come and see me…I'll get right to it…You've been working closely with Assistant Chairman Wells for some time now, I understand… "

She tensed a little… "I was assigned to help with William's medical care…Andy…Mr. Wells…Asked for me cause I have nursing training…"

"And you were a friend…One of the original Army of Slayers that defeated the First …" Giles smiled…

"We know each other from then, yes, sir…" she nodded, trying to seem casual, while keeping alert…

"Miss Li…" Giles frowned at her… "Let me be frank…For sometime now I've been getting the impression that Mr. Wells has been running his division and this current operation a bit too much on his own…" he raised a hand… "Now, I like young Andrew…I appointed him…But he cannot start trying to deal with problems like His Benevolence on his own, without clearance from me…Particularly when it involves possible risk to the life of our greatest Slayer, Buffy Summers and possibly to our other Slayers, including yourself…"

"All I want is to be properly informed as to what he's doing…" he continued… "I can't provide help if I'm left in the dark…"

Ummn… "I understand, Mr. Chairman…But really I don't think Andrew is keeping you in the dark deliberately…It's just that things are happening so quickly, I think he hasn't had time to go over everything…"

"Well I think it's high time he made time, my dear…" an exasperated sigh… "Still, he's done well so far…If not for him, William might be ashes now and God knows what that might have done to Buffy…All right…" he eyed her… "I'll trust to his judgment…And yours…For now…But, please, Slayer…As a friend…Try to make him see that I must be kept informed at all times…I don't want to take measures to put his operations under a committee but I will if I feel I must…"

"Yes, sir…" she nodded…Waiting…

"That's all, Ms. Li…" She turned and the moment she could not see him…Giles' face turned blank, his features changing to those of the one in the mirror on the plane…Hairless and only vaguely resembling Rupert Giles…He aimed a hand at her back and an electric pulse emanated from a wire and plastic harness on that hand…She gasped quickly and collapsed…

He rose and carefully examined the unconscious Slayer…His features remaining blank…

"The Slayer Gong Li has been secured and is ready for retrieval…" he quietly spoke into the room…Reaching into his desk's middle drawer on the left where he found and pulled out and set on his desk a mask and harness similar to what Dawn had worn to operate her cyborg…

Then moving to a coat and storage closet which he opened…Inside which a hairless female cyborg of Gong Li's height and approximate weight waited, motionless…

***

"You Only Live Thrice..." Part XIII...



P.G. 13



Summary: A certain 'benevolent' supervillain has tried to employ a little more cleverness, patience, and respect for modern science and technology than the usual Bverse evildoer...

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

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

Or direct to story at http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/yolt.html ..



***



Part XIII...

An underground control room far below the famed Casino Regale in San Lucea...11 am...

Where a fascinated Andrea, 2nd assistant PR director, watched in awe as her beau, the Immortal's European right hand, Field Director Alexander George, completed, with Science Director Phillips and assorted staff, his review of his latest success in securing a firm hold over the Council of Watchers. Another Slayer, one of the troublesome Mr. Wells' close associates in his little resistance cell in fact, taken.

Of course, naturally, she couldn't help wondering...

"Al, how come you just don't go after this Wells guy?...You got their Chairman guy workin' for us, right?..."

"We tried, darling...er Andrea..." Mr. George noted, eyeing Phillips who looked a mite tiffed...Hey, we had the hearing... "It was a disaster, state level only, but a disaster...He and his office were protected...Geesh...And this was before they knew anything about our cyborgs...The guy must be paranoid or the most extreme geek in the world or both...We lost a whole strike group of four...Just lucky they were of the 'go-poof' variety and that with a little help from our people on the Council, he couldn't persuade the Chairman to outfit the whole Council the way he was or we'd've never made any progress...As it was we couldn't even get to his little Slayer friend in her apartment, he had her place fitted out..."

"What does he carry?...Didn't she have the same stuff on her?..."

"Magics, electronics...She's a Slayer...They get overconfident with that power...Miss Summers was the same way...'Sides the stuff he wears on him must weigh thirty pounds, she probably didn't wanna spoil her look with it..."

Hmmn...Andrea frowned, shaking head...

Sounds a bit too...

"Don't worry, they didn't have a clue..." Alexander noted confidently... "We monitored her and got her when her guard was down with our Chairman..."

Lets make sure we check her out completely before she's brought in...he hissed to Phillips...

***

"Ok..." 'W' had moved onto his favorite moment in the job...Displaying the gadgetry...

"First...Your adapted leg, Mr. Walthrop..."

"Andrew I just got the hang of this one..." Will patted his artificial leg, eyeing the other on the table...

Dawn beaming a bit... "This one is the final product, Dad...And I helped design it..."

Buffy eyeing him...She helped, Dad...

Right...He nodded...Picking it up carefully... "So...Very nice...Nuclear-powered bionics?..."

"Well..." Andrew sighed... Knew we shoulda gone for the nuke in spite of the environmental review board... "Fuel cell...Less hazardous..."

"But it will still kick ass..." Dawn grinned... "And the liquid hydrogen allows for a flame-thrower..." Will halting as he started to put the new leg on, Buffy carefully and firmly gripping him on the left...She looking as well...

"Only when you hold it straight out and give the full mental command..." Andy explained...



"No rocket pack...?" Will grinned...

Spike...Buffy hissed as Andy gave a slightly embarrassed look...And Dawn a rather protective, 'I'll pretend I didn't hear that'...one...

"Sorry, Andrew...No offense intended and I'm the last of those who should be bringing up the past..." Will noted kindly... "Anyway, it's looks grand...And..." he fitted his stump in carefully...Dawn wincing just a bit...

"...fits like a glove..."

"Just be careful with the controls until you get used to the neural interface..."

"Well..." Will grinned... "I see when I say my leg can tell the weather, I'm not reviving the ole coots' tale..."

"The radar screen should appear to the left when you summon it up...I hope all the screens aren't too distracting..." Andrew apologized...

***

Helipad deck of the Council medical facility...

"Now…" Andrew handed Will a tie stick pin and Buffy a bracelet…Dawn standing by holding an umbrella over Will, taking no chances with the strong morning sun despite 'W''s noting that the area was carefully chosen for its shadow cover... "These are your monitors and communications devices…Video and audio-capable, transmitting on a frequency near enough to the cyborgs' so as the Immortal's people should not be suspicious when you transmit…If you press the center on yours, William or the third stone from the left on yours, Buffy…They switch to record without transmit for later transmission…"

"Just as long as you don't pull out the poncey tux..." Andrew quickly moving from the locker where a freshly starched tux hung, Dawn a flickering disappointed...Not the one I picked out?...expression across her face..."I thought you said you lot couldn't afford two-way wrist radios…" Will grinned, eyeing his watch…

"These are strictly one-way…And like I said the Chairman's approved some tech budget increases since I took my position…" "W" noted…

"If you find absolute proof that the Immortal is creating and running the borgs and some indication of his plans, contact us right away and we'll do the rest…" he eyed Will and Buffy in turn…

Who looked at each other…

"Andrew?..." Dawn joining them…

"This is about goin' to jail, not about whether you two can take His Benevolence…We need evidence, not his head on a platter or his ashes in a bag…" Andrew said, rather firmly… "Your mission is intelligence-gathering, not fighting-to-the-death…"

"Especially not fighting-to-the-death…" Dawn chimed in…

"The boring way, eh…Rats…" Will grinned at Buffy… "I was looking forward to figurin' out the right way to slice and dice an Immortal semi-human…"

"Now ya know what I've been goin' through these past months…" Buffy grinned back…

"Yeah…" he nodded briefly…Trying not to let her see his eyes… "Yeah, it must've been hell holdin' back…But if that's the responsible-parent-and-solid-citizen's way, then the Walthrops are up to the challenge…"

"Besides, maybe he'll panic later and try to fight it out…" she eyed him, a wicked beam…"Then we can try out some ideas I've got from fighting Caleb…"

"That's my girl…" he nodded…

"Ok…" Andrew waved at the copter… "The chopper will take you to a private airstrip the Council maintains and a jet will take you to San Lucea…Don't worry…" he quickly noted to Buffy who'd taken an anxious look out at the bright, sunny day… "All UV-resistant glass…Will'll be perfectly safe…"



Just stick the tux in our suitcase when we head out...Buffy hurriedly whispered to Dawn...I'll pretend I forgot it and come back...He'll wear it, tonight...He just needs someone to cover by arguing him into it...

"Nice…Thanks for everything, 'W'…And I mean that…" Will put out a hand…Shaking Andrew's firmly…

"However that doesn't mean anything's settled regarding our daughter…"

"Dad…" Dawn groaned…

***

The chopper aloft...Dawn having nervously asked for reassurance as to the UV-resistance of the glass several times before take off...She and 'W' stood watching the helicopter disappear behind some hills...Moving off to a corner of the helipad somewhat more secluded from possible prying eyes...

"So...?"

"So far, so good...." Andrew noted solemnly...

"What about...?"

"On her way now I believe..."

"Andy..." Dawn frowned... "Are you sure about this?...My parents' lives are on the line...Parents I just got back...And they wouldn't want anyone else to be hurt, you know..." hard stare...

Ummn...

"Well...Sure as...I can be...We didn't have a lot of options, Dawn..."

"Ok...Ok..." she sighed... "So...?"

"Chairman Axton gave it to me just this morning..." Andrew lifted a briefcase at his side, set it down on the low cement wall of the helipad roof and carefully pulled out a large, glowing orb...

"Great..." Dawn beamed...

"Yeah...Ummn, Dawn...?"

"Don't even think it about it Wells..." she frowned... "I'm going..."

'Sides, Andy...You'll have to get used to facing down my parents on things like this... "she noted... "You gotta accept they're gonna be overprotective of me..."

Face?...But...We haven't even really started dating...he thought as they vanished in a bright blue glow...

***