RATING: Series NC-17, this part PG-13
SPOILERS: I started this series after Gone and it’s AU but it could be spoilery in general for S6. Best to assume it starts somewhere after Gone and finishes before the birthday.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Don’t sue.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I give up, it’s still not finished, though I really do know how it ends... hopefully I can wrap it up in 8 parts. More mysteries are explained, and the scoobs make a plan for helping Buffy. Warning, this is strange and definitely AU. There’s nothing in canon that supports my little theory. I still like it, and hope you do too.
DISTRIBUTION: Wherever. Please ask first, though. This is posted along with the rest of the chapters at http://www.geocities.com/cxyzjacobs/btvsfic/chrisindex.html
FEEDBACK: Yes *please* Whether it makes you happy, sad, glad, or mad, I wanna hear about it. email@example.com
Part Six: Puzzles
Tara replaced the duster with the blankets she’d brought and eased a pillow under Buffy’s head. “I should probably get some smelling salts,” she said, a small frown wrinkling her forehead. “It can’t be a good thing for her to be wandering off in the astral planes alone.”
“The astral planes, is it? So are we going to play twenty bleeding questions, or are you going to explain to me what you know?” he asked.
“I only know part of it, Spike,” said Tara. “Willow talked to Giles about the, ummm, problem Buffy had tonight. And the spell we used to bring her back. But I don’t have the whole story, yet.”
“But you bloody well know something,” he pressed, voice lowering in urgency. “What is it? What’s wrong with her? We can fix it, right?”
“Maybe,” she said, fidgeting nervously with her hair. “But you may not like some of what you hear. It all started with the resurrection spell, but you’ve complicated matters for her tremendously.”
“Me? Right. I haven’t done a bloody thing to her - least not that she didn’t want. How’s this my doing, again?”
“Spike, this bond you have with her. . . You haven’t. I mean. . . you didn’t. . . Did you. . . ” Tara spluttered.
“Oh spit it out. What is it you think I’ve done to her?” demanded the vampire.
Tara drew in a deep breath. Looking him straight in the eyes, she asked, “Did you bite her, Spike?”
“Did I. . . ? You honestly believe I would... Well, I guess you’re not far off at that. I’d love to claim her. But not until she right out asks me to,” he huffed.
The tension visibly drained from Tara’s body. “Oh. . . Oh,” she said in a small voice. “Then what is it?” she mused. “It couldn’t be. . . could it?”
“Oh bloody hell! Get on with it, would you?”
“Spike, you’ve got a bond with her that’s physical -and metaphysical. I thought it might have been because you’d fed from her. . . It’s that “pain bond” that you told Dawn about. There’s an open channel of energy between the two of you. It’s clearly filled with sexual energies, and it’s full of violence, pain, and blood. If you didn’t bite her, though, I don’t know where the pain and violence are coming from,” Tara said.
“I do see more there than just the red and black from the ookie stuff,” she continued. “This channel - it’s something that I would only expect to see between two souled human beings. It’s connected to Buffy where her soul ought to be. And - I’ve never heard of anything like this before - it’s connected to you at the heart. But your heart isn’t beating. . . It doesn’t make any sense.”
Spike looked at Tara with a stunned expression on his face. “Where her soul *ought* to be?” he whispered. “Is it really gone? Is she a demon, then?”
“No,” answered Tara carefully. “We don’t think that’s it. Willow is researching it now in the sources Giles recommended. Her soul is still there - it’s just doesn’t look quite like we expect it to. And it’s kind of in pieces, instead of whole. We think it’s at least partly because of the spell having been interrupted. Maybe the blood Willow used had something to do with it, too. The karma is always bad when the blood is unwilling or coerced, and interrupting the spell might just have let loose some of this venom. . . ”
“So we gotta fix her soul?” Spike queried. “There’s a spell for that?”
“Not exactly, Spike. Willow’s working on that part. But that’s not all of the problem. If you are somehow feeding all of this pain and violence, though your demon to Buffy - we’re going to have to sever the connection.” Tara warned.
“You’re going to what?”
“We’ll have to end the bond, Spike. Otherwise, whatever we do will only be temporary. Losing the connection shouldn’t harm Buffy if we wait until after we get her soul sorted out, but I don’t know what it might do to you.”
His face took on a determined set, but his eyes -- Tara had never seen such bottomless grief as when he faced her and said quietly, “Whatever it takes to make her whole again.”
-- -- -- -- -- -- --
Willow poked her head into the training room. “Isn’t she awake yet?” she asked. “I think we’ve figured it out. . . ” Noting the serious looks on their faces, she added, “Unless there’s still more to find out. We’re *going* to get our Buffy back.”
“It’s good news/bad news,” said Tara. “The good news is that Spike hasn’t bitten Buffy. The problems aren’t coming from that. The bad news is that if we don’t figure out where it’s coming from, they’ll have to be permanently separated. And the worst news is that if it’s not coming from him, we don’t know *where* it’s coming from.”
“Oh,” Willow said heavily. “I don’t think this could be all of it, but I think I know at least part of what’s wrong.” Willow walked over to where the vampire was sitting with Buffy still on his lap and sat down, drawing her knees in to her chest and wrapping her arms around them as if they were a blanket.
“Well,” she began, propping her chin on her knees and looking at Tara. “It goes something like this. . . The spell I used was a spell to call a warrior back with the Urn of Osiris. You know about Osiris, right?”
She paused to wait for Spike’s nod. “Egyptian god of immortality or some such. . . ” he said.
“Okay, that’ll do. Here’s the thing. All those souls over there have been ‘completed’ - all of the etheric parts of the soul rejoin upon entrance to Osiris’s, ummm, dimension, where they live forever.”
Spike looked puzzled, “Etheric parts? Can the witch-talk, Red. You mean a soul is a puzzle with bits ‘n pieces? And when you die, this guy Osiris does a Humpty Dumpty with ‘em?”
“Close enough,” said Willow. “According to the Egyptians, people have several parts that make up their whole selves - kind of like we talk about people having minds, hearts, and spirits. . . Except they say all the bits aren’t tied together until you die. The heart is tied to the body, even after death. The mind is in the body until death, when it heads off into the ether to find the spirit. And then, when they find each other, they come back to get the heart and they all go off to live happily ever after in Osiris-land. That’s why they did the whole mummy thing, to preserve the body in case it took a while for mind and spirit to catch up with each other”
“Anyway, that’s not really the problem. I’m sure Buffy did just fine with all the puzzle-making, but she’s not just your ordinary kinda gal. She’s got this slayerness thing in her. And it’s possible, maybe even likely, that when I called for the warrior, what got sent back included that eternal slayerness. Which could have been okay, ‘cause she’s always been the slayer and stuff. But I had to go and mess up the spell. Between the karmic backlash from the blood magic, the demons interrupting the spell and destroying the urn, and the first slayer, I think she came back different. Not wrong, exactly, but both wounded and more. . . ”
Tara blinked in disbelief. “You mean that, that thing in Buffy’s dream? The one that tried to kill us all? It’s living inside her now? How are we going to ‘fix’ something like that? And this bond with Spike - how does it fit in with all of this?”
Willow shrugged her shoulders a bit. “I don’t know if it does, Tara. Except that the bond might not exist if she’d come back the same as she was before. Something about the way her parts have been rearranged - it must have left a vacuum that needed to be filled...”
“Doesn’t matter now, anyway,” said Spike. “It’s broken, needs fixing. Can’t have the slayer running around threatening normal folks. You got the means to fix it, witch?” he asked Willow.
“Yes,” she replied. “We do. It’s a reunification ritual. We’ll need her heart, mind and spirit represented - and Buffy herself. That means we’ll need you, Tara. And Anya and Xander.”
Tara thought for a moment, realizing that Willow hadn’t named herself. “What kind of ritual are we talking about, Willow?”
“It’s similar to something we’ve done before,” Willow said. “Well, Giles, Xander and I, anyway. When Buffy had to fight Adam, we joined with her to give her greater powers as a whole than she had on her own. This is a similar ritual, but the purpose is different. This time, it’s not to call down power, but to re-organize and heal her spirit. I know you can do it, Tara. . . ”
“You know I’ll do whatever I can to help,” said Tara. “But Willow, Spike will have to be with us, too. This connection - with all the energy flowing through it right now, it could be dangerous to try to work any rituals without having him there too. If it’s severed suddenly, before we clear the energies, I don’t know what effect it might have.”
“I’ll be there,” he stated flatly. “If she needs me, I’ll pay the price. Now wake her up already and let’s get on with this.”
Continued in Part Seven: Acceptance