By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 28 - Under Scrutiny
Behind him, Andrew and Jonathan clambered into the surveillance van, arguing about the fact that Jonathan had thrown up during his fifth Space Mountain ride. Andrew was holding on to two bags full of souvenirs while Jonathan carried three paper bags containing the entire McDonalds breakfast selection. They hopped into their chairs to get a better look at the screen and dug into their food.
Warren thumbed a few switches and more monitors came to life. He flipped through the different cameras they had installed in strategic places. When the screen showed the Summers' living room he whistled. "Doing spells? Andrew, what are they doing?"
The blonde boy sipped his orange juice and studied the image in front of him, comparing the look of the circle and the way the ex-librarian, the witch and the shopkeeper were sitting, with the summoning spells he knew. "I don't think they're summoning something, but maybe trying to open some kind of portal," he paused. "I think."
"Jeez, then what are those?" Jonathan said, pointing at three hovering humanoids that suddenly appeared.
"I... I don't know," Andrew admitted. "If they're demons, I've never read about them. But I can check my books..."
"Yeah, do that. Anyone know who that guy is?" Warren asked and pointed at the screen.
"The one with the hair? That's Angel. He used to be Buffy's boyfriend," Jonathan said. "From what I've heard, he lives in L.A. now."
"Angel? What kind of name is that? Sounds like lavender soap and mint tulips. You're sure he used to be with the Slayer?" Warren asked. "And isn't that Spike? What's he doing in those stupid clothes?"
"That looks so uncool," Jonathan stated.
"Yeah. The leather coat looks a lot hotter... um... I mean a lot cooler," Andrew agreed.
Warren turned up the sound and the three of them listened to the chanting. They watched as a silvery portal appeared and Spike stepped through. Then, in a flash, the vampire was gone.
"Wow, I wonder what that was all about," Jonathan exclaimed, when the portal had disappeared again.
"Let's find out," Warren said thoughtfully. "I'll watch from here, you check the recordings. I want to know what the Slayer and her friends are up to. And take those stupid things off!"
He smacked off Jonathan's Mickey Mouse ears.
"Hey!" Jonathan exclaimed, trying to duck.
"What's wrong with you guys?" Warren mocked his henchgeeks. "Mouse ears? That's not evil. We're villains, remember?"
"I know, and it's like, cool and stuff," Andrew whined, "but we just bought them, and they're black... I mean, black equals cool and evil, right?"
Warren just shook his head. Blocking out the inane chatter of his idiot sidekicks he concentrated on the conversation that took place in the Summers' living room.
"Good Lord!" - "What are we going to do?" - "It looks so small." - "Can I see it?"
No one but Maeve took notice when the Chronoths faded away. Everybody's attention was focused on the piece of micro-circuitry in Dawn's hand.
"Quick! You have to open the portal again!" Angel's voice cut through the agitated chatter. "Send me after him!"
"We will do no such thing," Giles answered, calmer than he actually felt. He rose wearily to his feet and stepped out of the circle. "The spell was quite taxing, in fact, even more than I anticipated. I believe the very fabric of time may have resisted our attempt to send someone into the past who is already there. Even if we wanted to send another person back, we'd need to rest first. At least 24 hours."
Anya and Tara nodded even though that tiny gesture of agreement took most of their remaining energy.
"Besides," Giles cut the vampire off. "I am not convinced it is wise to complicate matters further by sending even more people back in time."
"But we have to do something! Spike's a killer. And he's unleashed. There's no telling what he'll do!" Angel shouted. Surely, Giles, of all people, had to realize that without the chip Spike would revert to being what he'd always been: A killer of Slayers!
Maeve looked as if she were about to say something, but changed her mind. Instead she tucked her stake away and sheathed the silver dagger.
"Spike's not-- I mean, ... he might not even notice that the chip's gone," Tara suggested timidly, but loud enough to be heard. "And... and even if he finds out it's gone, we know he loves Buffy. I mean, the chip stops him from harming people but it doesn't make him do or feel things, right?"
"Right," Dawn said, folding her arms in front of her chest. "He'd never hurt Buffy," she said with absolute certainty.
Giles looked at the teenager. He realized that even with the vampire's electronic "leash" in her hand she never doubted that Spike would bring her sister back. Giles decided that this wasn't the right time to argue or shatter that trust. Displaying a confidence he didn't really feel, he said: "I concur. While his past behavior has been far from exemplary, I am nevertheless prepared give Spike the benefit of the doubt. His feelings for Buffy seem genuine." The Watcher held out his hand and Dawn dropped the chip in his palm. He pocketed it without a glance.
Angel worriedly shook his head. "What makes you sure he won't forget his love for Buffy and go back to Drusilla. Compared to the century he spent at Dru's side, this chip-induced obsession with Buffy is a...It's a crush!" He caught sight of Cordelia. She was shaking her head almost imperceptibly and glanced in Dawn's direction, causing Angel to swallow the rest of his reservations.
"You know, Angel's like Mr. prophet of doom," Cordelia cut in. "All negative, always expecting the worst, yadda yadda, it really gets you down, you know." She waved her hands dismissively. "Fortunately, his gloomy predictions rarely come true."
"Speaking of gloomy things," Tara said, "Dawn, shouldn't you be getting ready for school?"
"No! Can't someone write me a note? I mean, come on, you can't expect me to, like, study, at a time like this!" the teenager whined. She looked around but met no sympathy, only resolved faces.
"If you get your things, I will drive you to school," the Watcher volunteered after glancing at his watch. "Anya, I'm going to the Magic Box to wait for the new window to be delivered. Are you coming?"
"Of course," she replied. There were bags under her eyes and she looked pale from the strain the spell had put on her, but the thought of tidying up the shop actually seemed to revive her.
"I would like to come along, if I may," Maeve said quietly. "I could help."
"Certainly. Your help is appreciated," Giles replied. He absentmindedly polished his glasses. "Angel, were you planning on driving back to L.A. tonight?"
"In that case, you should get some rest. We'll need you to patrol tonight."
*'Back in time?' They sent Spike into the past? Time travel? Now that's an interesting twist.* Warren whistled. His mind immediately pondered the practical applications. The possibilities were staggering.
"What?" Jonathan said, looking up from his monitor. He was fast forwarding through the Magic Box recordings of last Friday.
"Gentlemen," Warren spoke up, "this is the moment we've all been waiting for. The Slayer's friends have just shown us how to take over not just Sunnydale but the whole country! The world, even!"
"Really? How?" Jonathan asked.
"You mean like in `Back to the Future'? Cool!" Andrew said admiringly.
"If we can get our hands on that spell they've been using there's no limit to what we can do. We don't like something? We go into the past and fix it, change things to our liking!"
"The past? You mean we could go back, like, to before `The Return of the Jedi' and do something to the guy who played Darth Vader? Cause when he took off that helmet, he so didn't look the part!" Andrew suggested enthusiastically.
Warren and Jonathan stared at him. "What?" Andrew said defensively. "You said we could fix things."
"I was thinking more in terms of money, power..." *Microsoft shares!* Warren grinned. With the right kind of knowledge he could become stinking rich just by investing a bit of money in the past. Much easier than summoning demon bank robbers...
"We could make sure Star Trek classic never gets cancelled..." Jonathan said, warming to the subject.
"Or we could buy the first issue of Superman the day it came out. Superman #1 in mint condition for just a few cents!" Andrew interrupted excitedly, as more and more wonderful uses of time travel popped up in his head. "Or we could go back a few million years and pick up some dinosaur eggs. Except those would be real not some stupid clones with frog DNA..."
"Whatever," Warren said, absentmindedly, thinking of all those slights and insults he'd suffered in the hell called high school...
Mrs. Green. His English teacher in 6th grade, she'd humiliated him in front of class. Jody. The arrogant bitch he had based the design for April on. Jody's boyfriend. Idiot with a brain the size of a pea but all the girls fawned on him cause he happened to be Captain of the high school swim team. There was a long list of people who needed to be taught a lesson.
With time and an unlimited supply of money at his fingertips payback was finally his. He smiled. With that kind of money he could make sure that Mrs. Green lost her job. As for Jody, he could bankrupt her snotty family, make sure they lost everything. That should teach her a lesson, make her grovel. With that kind of money the chicks would line up not just to go out with him but to go down on him.
Speaking of bitches. Katrina! Now that was a situation that needed some fixing! Warren winced as he thought of the arguments they'd had. She'd called him a loser, a pervert, told him he was beneath her. She'd even threatened him with a restraining order when he hung around her place hoping to get a glimpse of her, to get an opportunity to talk to her, to explain...
He'd considered using hypnosis to make her forget that thing with April or putting a love spell on her, but maybe it was easier to just make sure that Katrina never met that stupid robot? If Trina never found out about April she had no reason to leave him, did she? All he had to do was go back to the time and turn the bot off before it could follow him and Trina to Sunnydale. Just a tiny correction.
Warren smiled. Sometimes tiny things could make a hell of a difference.
Giles looked at the little piece of plastic and wire that was lying on the round research table. It was quite remarkable that such a tiny product of scientific ingenuity should have been able to keep a vampire of Spike's caliber from acting out his nature.
Giles tossed his glasses on the table and rubbed his nose where the frames had left visible indentations. He had only himself to blame. He'd been so concerned with researching and organizing Buffy's rescue that he'd completely overlooked the fact that Spike's chip might get left behind like Xander's sneakers and car keys. *Could Spike have known this would happen?*
He would have liked to drink a whiskey or two. There was always a bottle in the shop. For emergencies. For a moment he was tempted. But he knew a drink now would easily lead to more. Drinking that cooking sherry last night had been enough of a slip. Maybe it was time to turn tea-total all together.
Giles's open vote of confidence had been less than heartfelt. The knowledge that William the Bloody was free to kill and maim again was disconcerting. But not half as unsettling as the considerable damage the unfettered vampire could cause to the timeline if he felt so inclined.
Would they ever notice it if Spike chose to change the past? Would the universe adjust the way it had when the monks had given the key human form? Would their memories change - again? Would the journals rewrite themselves? Would Buffy and her friends cease to exist because Spike decided to murder their ancestors? What about alternate universes? Was it possible that there were worlds where none of this ever happened? A world where Buffy had never been dragged into the nineteenth century? The ramifications were truly mind-boggling.
"Maeve, what can I do for you?"
"Mr. Giles. There is something you should know. About... Spike," she hesitated.
"Please, sit down. Shall I make us a cup of tea?"
"No, thank you. As you know, I had two opportunities to talk with him. We talked about that strange little contraption," she pointed at the chip.
"He told you?" Giles was surprised. "I would have thought he'd go through great lengths to keep his ... um ...handicap a secret."
"He told me."
"What else did Spike tell you?"
Giles looked at the drawing Maeve had given him. Anya was busy cleaning the new shop window while Maeve was sweeping the floor. He checked his watch and picked up the phone to dial the number of an old friend. A few minutes later he had scribbled down a number in London. He let it ring for a long time. Finally, a female voice answered.
"Miss Catrall, my name is Rupert Giles. We met last year during the Glory crisis, when you were part of the Council delegation who evaluated the Slayer."
"Mr. Giles! Yes, of course I remember you and Miss Summers. How are you? What can I do for you?"
"You mentioned, in passing, that you wrote your thesis on Spike. In fact, as I recall you even visited him in his crypt."
"William the Bloody, yes, that is correct. A remarkable case. How I envy you the opportunity to study him up close. Are you having problems with him?"
Giles hesitated, momentarily unsure where his loyalties lay. In the end it was the drawing of Spike's long dead sister that prompted his decision. "Not at all. On the contrary, he's still more than helpful," he lied smoothly. "But he seems rather reluctant to disclose any details about his identity when he was alive and the circumstances of his turning. And I feel I should know these things."
"I'm not surprised that William the Bloody is reluctant to talk about his rather mundane origins," Miss Catrall said in a smug tone. "They're certainly not very flattering - for a vampire."
"Mundane?" Giles echoed, unable to hide his surprise.
"I shouldn't really be talking about this. The information is classified," the young scholar informed him. Giles thought she sounded very eager to share her exclusive knowledge.
"Classified? I should think that the Watcher of the acting Slayer should have access to all relevant information pertaining his duties. Miss Catrall, keeping an eye on William the Bloody, the only vampire we know of who is equipped with a behavior modification chip, is part of my duties. I would therefore appreciate anything you can tell me about him."
"Of course, Mr. Giles. I'd be glad to. Besides, I can't see any harm in telling you. William the Bloody, or William Crawford, as he was called then, was a librarian. Ironically, he was in the employ of the Council when he was turned. If you're interested I can fax you a copy of my thesis and some of my notes. I even have a photograph of him and his family."
"Yes please," Giles said. He supplied her with the shop's fax number. "One more question, Miss Catrall, if I may?"
"If the Council has so much background information on him, why isn't it mentioned in the handbooks and journals?"
"Why Mr. Giles, it's a well-known fact that the personality of the human host is completely destroyed when the body is taken over and animated by the vampire demon. Knowledge of a vampire's background is irrelevant. It can only get in the way of slaying," she answered assuredly. Then, "Good day, Mr. Giles."
"Good day, Miss Catrall."
Giles sat for almost five minutes without moving, deep in thought.
He was interrupted by the sounds of the fax machine as it spewed forth a slowly growing pile of printed paper.
He debated if he should involve Willow and the others. But if William the Bloody's past was, indeed, an embarrassment to the vampire, exposing it would be an unforgivable indiscretion. At least, it would be, as long as there was a remote chance that Spike was able and willing to get Xander and Buffy back into their own time.
Giles made himself a pot of tea and settled down to research the life and death of William Crawford a.k.a. William the Bloody a.k.a. Spike, hoping that between naked facts and four years of first-hand experience he'd find enough truth about that contradictory... man, to be able to predict his behavior.
After several hours of research, tape viewing and thinking Warren was ready to involve Andrew and Jonathan in the planning. "Gentlemen, we have a new agenda." He turned the board round to reveal a new list of objectives:
1. Neutralize Chronoths
2. Stop the Slayer's friends from getting Buffy back
3. Get Spellbook
4. Take hostage
5. Get witches to do spell
6. Change time!!!
Andrew raised his hand. "Does that mean we're going to buy a DeLorean?"
Continued in Part 29 - Crossroads