By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 24 - With Plans Like These...
Quietly, Tara began arranging the pancake fixings. "I'll just make some breakfast for the gang and then we can go to bed," she whispered.
Willow pouted. "Why not let them sleep and we can make breakfast later. Or maybe lunch," she grinned.
"How bout brunch?" Tara suggested.
"Whatever. As long as it means we get to sleep now."
"Okay," Tara agreed quietly. She took Willow's hand and they headed for dreamland.
Anya glanced into Dawn's room as she passed and found the teen sound asleep in her bed, with her overprotective blonde babysitter sleeping on the floor beside her. She wandered down toward Buffy's room where she found Maeve, in the Slayer's bed, staring at the ceiling. "You're awake?" she asked from the doorway.
"Yes, Anya. Please, come in." She smiled. "I am glad to see you are back from the hospital."
Anya wandered into Buffy's room and sat down on the side of her bed.
"How do you feel?" Maeve asked.
"Awful," she answered. "I can't stop worrying about Xander. I know what those asylums were like. You wouldn't believe how many women got locked up in madhouses for no good reason. I often wreaked vengeance in their name. And now Xander is in one of those horrible places and I don't know if I'll ever see him again." She would have cried, but there was nothing left in her. "I'm scared, Maeve!"
"I know," Maeve cooed, as she sat up and pulled Anya's head into a gentle hug. The ex-demon allowed the nurturing and curled herself up into the Slayer's embrace where, in moments, she fell asleep.
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" Spike chirped into the Watcher's ear. Giles woke with a start.
"What time is it?" he mumbled as he reached spastically around the table in search of his glasses.
"Almost eleven, Rupert," Spike answered. "Chop chop," he said as he produced the Watcher's glasses with a practiced smirk.
"Yes, yes. Thank you, Spike," Giles murmured, irritation evident, as he donned his eyewear. "Is everyone else already awake?"
"I am," Dawn answered from somewhere behind the refrigerator door. "Angel and Cordelia are, too." She pulled out the orange juice and took a glass from the cupboard. "Maeve and Anya are still asleep and I saw Tara and Willow in mom's bed before we came down." She poured herself a cup and set it down on the table across from Giles. "They must've gotten back sometime this morning."
"Yea? I didn't hear them come in," Cordelia said as she walked into the kitchen, looking immaculate after a quick detour to the bathroom. Angel was two steps behind her.
"Was hoping you were still asleep, William," Angel muttered.
"Shame the witches didn't yank the curtains open when they came in," Spike snickered. "Such a beautiful day and all."
Dawn was still in front of the fridge when she asked, "Anybody else want anything?" She glanced around the kitchen. "Spike, do you want a mug?"
"Sure Niblet, thanks."
"Why do I think you're not talking about coffee? ," Angel muttered.
"Cause I'm not." Dawn smiled slyly as she tore open the packet of blood. "Come on, Angel," she said, grinning happily, "I know that you're vampires. I KNOW you drink blood. Like any of this is news." She rolled her eyes as she poured the 0 Negative into a mug and put it in the microwave. "Pulllease."
Cordelia chuckled. "Well, at least she's a good hostess."
"First things first," Giles said as he paced the length of the dining room table.
It was near noon and everyone was finally awake, showered and ready to dive into whatever plan the Watcher had concocted. Tara had made brunch. Everyone was snacking on pancakes in the dining room...well, everyone except Angel. Willow and Tara sat close together. The red head still looked extremely haggard. Her eyes were red and her lids looked extra-heavy. Even her movements seemed slower than usual. Dawn and Cordelia were playing `hostess'...refilling coffee mugs and clearing emptied dishes. Spike was wiping up what was left of the syrup on his plate with his last heart-shaped pancake.
"Angel and I found what we think is the right spell to use in order to re-open the portal. In essence, we should be able to use that same link in order for the Slayers to return to their corresponding bodies. It will be tricky."
"You don't say," Spike muttered sarcastically.
"We have to get the timing just right. Essentially, when the portal opens, there should be just enough power for Spike to go through, just as Xander did."
"Will he end up naked too?" Dawn asked, giggling.
All eyes turned to Spike with varying degree of interest. Maeve found herself blushing.
"It looks like the reason Xander lost his clothes and stuff is because the time period won't allow for things that have yet to be invented. Something to do with a temporal signature on a molecular level," Angel clarified. "It's not like the portal automatically strips you naked, Dawn." He smiled at Buffy's sister.
"So if I could get a hold of some 19th century digs," Spike asked.
"Then you should be okay, yes," Angel finished.
"And I have a pocket watch for you," Giles mentioned. "It's at the shop, we'll be sure to get it for you before we perform the ritual."
"Goody," Spike chuckled. "I get to hold a real Watcher's watch."
"It's a family heirloom," Giles continued. "But it works and keeps time properly, so you should be able to keep track of how long you've been there."
Angel shook his head. *How can they possibly trust him with something so important?* he wondered. *Lives are at stake.*
"What if he forgets to keep track and isn't ready when we reopen the portal," Angel asked, his skepticism obvious.
"Then we have a problem," Giles answered simply.
Spike didn't look the least bit perturbed by his answer.
"Perhaps we can set up an alternative time to perform the spell in the event that Spike cannot make it to the first portal," Maeve suggested.
"Yes, brilliant," Giles answered. He scribbled something onto his notepad.
"Where are you going to get Spike's new...old clothes?" Dawn asked. "Not like you can just stop off at the mall."
"You could try the wax museum," Cordelia offered.
"Sunnydale has a wax museum?" Dawn asked.
"Sure, Dawnie," Willow answered. "Sunnydale has everything...an airport, a mall, a magic shop, a river, a couple of high schools...we even have our very own hellmouth."
"I certainly can't go shopping myself," Spike said. "Not in this lovely weather. Maybe you could go swipe something from the museum for me, ey, Li'l Bit?"
"Sure," Dawn smiled, giddy.
"No way," Tara said. "You will not be stealing for Spike. O-or anyone else for that matter. Stealing is bad."
"Oh, come on," Dawn snickered. "It's for a good cause."
"M-maybe we can ask to borrow some clothes," Tara suggested.
"Not bloody likely," Spike said.
"Well, someone's got to go," Angel said.
"I will go," Maeve offered, even though the thought of breaking the law caused a knot in her stomach.
"I'll go, too," Anya said. "I want my Xander back." She looked much better this morning.
"Me too," Willow said. "I can magic the locks open." She smiled.
"No," Tara said. "You need to rest. I'll go."
"No buts, I'll go."
"How come it's okay for you to steal, but not okay for me? I want to go."
"Dawn, it is not okay to steal," Giles told her. "And you will not go because we do not want to put you in danger."
"Yeah. Poor little Dawn. She's too young to help out. She can't take care of herself." The teenager rolled her eyes. "Look, if it'll make you feel any better, we can leave money for whatever we take." She folded her arms across her chest defiantly.
"You are not going and that is final," Giles state authoritatively.
Dawn mumbled something incoherent under her breath and then stormed up the stairs to her room. A moment later, there was the sound of a slamming door.
"Okay, that's settled then. Anya, Tara and Maeve will go to the wax museum," Giles began.
"None of that high collar nonsense. God, those were uncomfortable. Don't want a cravat either. They're too hard to tie. Get me some good stuff. Ya know, dark waistcoat, dark jacket...like Jack the Ripper," Spike interrupted.
"That's an upbeat and pleasant thought," Cordelia murmured.
"Oooh, and a cool hat," Spike added.
"You'll never change," Angel said, shaking his head.
"While you're out, Angel, Cordelia, Spike and I will plan the timing of the ritual and set up all of the details."
"What about me?" Willow asked. "I want to help." She caught Tara's warning glance and added hastily: "Not in an exhausting spell-cast-y way, obviously, but, hey, even without the magic I have a brain you can pick, not literally of course, and I'm still good with the books and stuff."
"There will be plenty of work for everyone," Giles stated.
"I can't believe they're gonna steal from a museum," Angel said with a shake of his head.
"Yeah, I'm utterly shocked," Spike grinned. "Disgraceful, innit?"
"Please note that I do not condone theft," Giles said, slightly amused. "We will return the clothing to the museum when Spike returns."
"If he returns," Cordelia amended.
Everyone just turned to look at her.
"Excuse me! Trust issues aside, you do remember Spike's less than impressive success rate of late, don't you?" she griped. "Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but he seems kinda jinxed since he came to Sunnydale. Hello? How often did he fail to kill Buffy? Not that I'm complaining. But what makes you think he'll succeed at anything else he tries?"
"Hey!" Spike exclaimed indignantly.
Cordelia ignored his interruption. "For all we know he could end up god knows where and god knows when."
"That's just a risk we have to take," Giles said decisively. If he shared Cordelia's misgivings he was good at hiding it.
"Besides, I'm not that easy to get rid of," Spike added with a scowl.
"Now, that I readily believe," Cordelia said.
"Shall we go now?" Maeve asked, trying to change the subject.
Tara nodded. She kissed Willow's cheek before the three girls headed for the door.
"Be careful," Giles told them.
The girls walked out into the sunshine as Spike called after them, "And I don't like tweed!"
"So ladies, shall we go shopping?" Anya asked her escorts as they arrived in front of the old and peeling building. She was suddenly feeling giddy with the thought of doing something illegal.
"I-I've never stolen anything before," Tara murmured.
"Don't worry," Anya encouraged her. "It's not really stealing if we're going to return it. And besides, we're doing this for Xander."
"Yeah, I guess," Tara answered, unconvinced.
She was concerned about Anya's attitude toward something as serious as breaking the law. *I guess when you deal with demons and hellbeasts on a regular basis, the threat of jail time just doesn't invoke much fear. Besides, I'm sure Anyanka's done way worse that lift a new outfit or two.*
"Is there a plan?" Maeve asked.
"Let's just pick out what we want first," Anya said. "Then we can plan."
"I just don't know," Tara said as they wandered in through the front door.
"Oh stop being so negative," Anya chastised. "It'll be fun! We'll bond over petty theft."
There was a plain brown welcome desk sitting in the center of the small lobby of the museum. On the phone, behind the desk, sat a twenty-something woman with glasses and a bad perm. She was chewing on the back of a pen as she chatted up the person on the other end of the line.
Tara, Anya and Maeve stood quietly waiting for the "receptionist" to greet them. Anya wondered silently why it seemed so many companies chose the most rude and obnoxious employees they could find to be greeters. *I'm always pleasant to Magic Box customers.*
"And so Billy told her she was getting to fat," the woman droned. "And that's when I said..." She finally looked up at her visitors and said into the phone, "You know what? Hold on just a second." She cocked her head at her visitors as if this was the first time anyone had ever stepped foot into the museum during her term as receptionist . Perhaps it was. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"Yes, hi," Anya said. "We're just here to look around at your merchandise. We won't be taking anything, just looking."
"Uh yea," Tara interrupted. "I have a history thesis I'm writing. I-I'm here to do some research."
The lady with the bad hair didn't seem to care in the least. "Five bucks each." She was still holding the receiver a few inches from her head.
Tara reached into her backpack to get the fifteen dollars. She handed over the cash.
"Enjoy," the woman said and nodded her head toward the double doors behind her before she returned her full attention to the Billy-issue.
They wandered through the swinging doors into a world that was cold, dark and eerie. Shiny, sweating wax statues glared at them through glass eyes. Anya was dizzy with excitement. "This is going to be so easy," she said as she skittered past the velvet ropes onto the nearest display - an odd arrangement of the Three Stooges in jailhouse uniforms. "There's no one even here." She pulled on the waistband of Curly's pants and peeked in. "Not anatomically correct," she grinned. "If you were curious."
Maeve blushed. She affected a shocked expression but the corners of her mouth were twitching.
"Stop it, Anya," Tara whispered. The red velvet ropes made her uncomfortable. "Let's just find what we need and get out of here."
"Look, I'm the victim here," Anya said with a pout. "It's my Xander who's got himself trapped so if my cheering up takes the form of groping wax figurines, well then so be it." She stepped back over the rope and onto the main path of the museum.
Maeve looked around with a combination of awe and amusement. "I have only ever been to one museum like this before, in London. But these sculptures look so...so real!" She leaned over a rope to get a closer look. "I want to...I want to touch one."
"Go ahead, Maeve," Anya suggested. "Who's gonna stop you?"
Continued in Part 25 - ...Who Needs Enemies?