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I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.
By Marcus L. Rowland
"The Powers That Be want Drusilla to walk away unhurt?" asks Willow. I can tell that she's thinking something very rude.
"I want to stake her," says Buffy, "I need a better reason not to than 'the Powers say so'. She's killed hundreds, remember, including at least one Slayer."
"Kendra," says Willow. "I saw it happen. We've all had friends killed by her. We all just saw her kill that guy in the shop, how many others just this week? How many have to die before she gets what's coming to her?"
"What can I say?" I say, "the Powers must have big plans for her. Think about it... she's a mind reader and a seer, admittedly she's also a vampire and a total nut-job but the Powers have a way of working around little problems like that."
"And you had a chance to stake her and didn't?" asks Buffy.
"There were some sharp pieces of wood on the floor of her crypt, I guess her bed was assembled there. I was gonna try to stake her myself, but as soon as I tried to pick up the wood I could feel the Powers saying 'no', and my arms started to lock up."
"The Powers have you running on some sort of remote control?" asks Dawn.
"That's what it feels like."
"I'm just not buying it," says Xander, "the Powers already have Angel on their payroll, and Deadboy Junior's got the chip and his own widdle soul now, he'll probably be fighting for them too, what the hell do they want with another vampire?"
"I only get glimpses," I say, "but my feeling is she's some sort of backup. There are bad things coming, really bad. If you fail, or Angel or Spike, they can slot her into their plans. Meanwhile they want to keep her well away from both of them, and well away from Sunnydale and Los Angeles."
"But what about the people she kills?" says Buffy.
"That's where I'm gonna come in. The Powers want me to go with her, keep her from hurting too many people."
"How? You gonna bite her ankles when she's about to kill someone?"
"More like be her conscience. Like Jimminy Cricket."
"You have got to be kidding," says Xander.
"I wish. You've gotta understand how Drusilla thinks, I got a crash course last night. She has this whole family of dolls, in her head they all have personalities and talk to her. She cares what they think about her, that's why she's so upset about Catherine possessing Miss Edith. The way Drusilla thinks, Miss Edith was always the shy baby, the kid that doesn't answer back. Suddenly she was trying to tell her what to do, that's where Catherine went wrong."
"So how the hell are you gonna control her?"
"Guide, not control. By starting out the way I am and staying that way. Thing is, she's got no problems with having a naughty kid in the family, provided she knows where she is with him. So I'll start out as the argumentative type and play on that, tell her she's being an idiot, steer her towards animal blood and away from humans, lie and cheat if I have to, whatever it takes."
"I give you a week," says Buffy, "then the novelty wears off and she gets out the kerosene."
"If it happens it happens. I'll have done my best, and in case you haven't noticed this body isn't exactly a barrel of laughs for me. I don't feel pain, and it won't upset me to go back, although it'd be nice to go back a winner. From your perspective, the important thing is that whatever happens, we won't be in Sunnydale or anywhere nearby."
"And if you can't control her? What if she just goes on her merry way, killing people whenever she feels bored or hungry or wants a laugh? What then?"
"My guess, the Powers That Be will eventually do something about her. If not, sooner or later a Slayer will catch up with her, if not you then someone else."
"You're serious, aren't you?" says Xander.
"And if we kill her you lose out on your chance to save her."
"That's true, I guess."
"What does that do to you?" asks Dawn.
"Damned if I know. Maybe I go straight back and they give me another assignment, maybe I stay stuck in this body until it falls apart or they find something else for me to do, like helping you. It wouldn't be my first choice."
"We have to do it," says Willow.
"Save the vamp?" asks Xander. "Not kill her, anyway?"
"She didn't ask to be made a vampire, maybe this is Drusilla's only shot at redemption."
"Like she cares."
"That's just it... she isn't equipped to care, maybe we have to do it for her."
"Okay," says Buffy, "let's say we want to do this. How do we go about it?"
"She'll have to let me touch the doll," says Willow, "If we can get it into the electric pentacle again I can exorcise it properly, shouldn't be any problem, Catherine doesn't have much power left."
"Could you do it outdoors?" I ask.
"Drusilla isn't exactly the trusting type, I told her you'd probably want to do that, she suggested a place and time."
"Go on," says the Slayer.
"The football field at the school, at midnight."
"Plenty of routes in and out, and nobody can creep up on her easily."
"What about her creeping up on us?"
"If you work together that shouldn't be a problem. The way she wants to play this, I act as the go-between and carry the doll to you and back to her. She doesn't want to see more than two on your team, not counting me, or the deal's off."
"How many on her team?"
"Just her, she says."
"And whatever army of minions she has with her."
"I didn't see any army. Didn't see any sign of any other vampires with her."
"Don't you think that's kinda suspicious?" asks Xander.
"Paranoid much?" asks Dawn, "we know she's a loner, even other vampires are scared of her."
"Okay," says the Slayer, "if we're gonna do this, let's do it right. Let's think what we can do to even the odds, and what she might be up to if she isn't on the level."
So it's midnight, and I'm in the middle of the football field with the Slayer and Willow. Anya and Xander are at home with Dawn, armed to the teeth in case this is some sort of diversion. Willow has some protection set up, a spell that'll warn us if a vamp comes anywhere near, and give us an idea of distance and direction. It's a bright moonlit night, which helps I guess.
"Something now," says Willow, looking at a map that has a few glowing spots on it. "Coming from across the park towards the school. Single vamp... I'm pretty sure it's Drusilla."
"Any of those others closing in?"
"Nope, looks like the usual activity at the cemeteries around Sunnydale."
"How come we don't have one of these set up all the time?" asks the Slayer.
"Because the spell only lasts a little while and it's kinda dark magic. Last time I used this it was to find Warren. I can't do it often enough to be useful, not without going all black and veiny."
"Okay, forget that one then. Stay put until she shows herself, any sign of trickery and get your shields up, leave the rest to me."
"There she is now," says Willow. Drusilla's standing at the edge of the field, under one of the goals.
"Okay," I say, "you ready with the pentacle?"
"I'll get the doll, she won't want to come too close."
"Let's hope you're right."
I walk across the field, and it's a long walk for a guy my size. "Hi, toots, got Miss Edith ready for the witch?"
"She was naughty and wanted to argue, so I had to be firm with her." She's got the doll in her arms, and she's tied its arms behind its back and covered its mouth with sticking plaster - she's been considerate and left the nostrils uncovered, which I think is a nice touch considering a china doll doesn't actually breathe.
"Okay, they're playing this straight, but they're ready for trickery. You want to go ahead?"
"Can they cure Miss Edith?"
"Willow says she can. Says she's gonna exorcise her."
"Ooh, I like exorcisms, especially if I get to eat the priest. Can I watch?"
"You don't want to get too close. From what the witch said, she's going to use something that might burn you like sunlight."
"The witch wants to hurt me? The cunning little vixen, she shall have no tea and cakes."
"She doesn't want to hurt you, but she's using a machine to drive out the spirit, it makes light like sunlight. They don't know if it'll hurt you, but she told me to warn you not to get too close."
"Will it hurt Miss Edith?"
"Nope. She's got that pale skin, but I don't think it'll do more than maybe give her a bit of a sun-tan."
"All right then. Be careful holding her, she's only little."
Drusilla kneels and gives me the doll, like it was a baby, and I take it in my arms. It's awkward but I can manage it. I can just hear a faint muffled voice from it. "Don't worry, toots, I'll look after her like she's my own kid."
I carry the doll back to Willow, and believe me that isn't easy without dropping her, and she has me lay her into the pentacle and take the plaster off its face.
Willow puts on her apron and gloves and starts the thing up, and we get the bright blue pentagram again; it's taken a lot of organisation to get the broken tube replaced on a Sunday, and Anya has promised to rip someone's spleen out if it gets broken again. Then Willow's chanting in Latin, the full Exorcist routine, while waving incense around the pentagram and throwing in powdered herbs. Meanwhile the Slayer is watching Drusilla, and I know she's itching to take her on, but she's given me her word that she won't and manages to hold back.
Miss Edith seems to writhe, then she floats up into the air surrounded by the same glow we saw when Xander burned the trophy. I'm half expecting her to start projectile vomiting, then realise how silly that is. The glow sort of separates from the doll, which drops back to the turf without being harmed, and the ball gradually gets smaller and smaller. It's about half its original size when Willow says "Something's coming." There's a glowing blob on the map, coming from the direction of the school.
Buffy presses the button on a remote control she's carrying. The stadium lights come on, and Drusilla covers her eyes and seems to be startled.
"I don't know who's coming," shouts the Slayer, raising an axe, "but if any of your vamp friends come too close Miss Edith is gonna get it."
"Not mine, poppet," Drusilla says sadly. "Not any more..."
A dark figure walks onto the field, a guy with blonde hair and a leather coat. "Spike," says Willow, and Drusilla echoes her.
"Hello pet," says Spike. "What brings you to this neck of the woods?"
"Not your pet," says Drusilla, "not any more, nor are you mine. You're like Angel now, my golden boy, ruined."
"Maybe, but it's the ruin I've chosen."
"Yes..." She seems to look inwards for a second, then says "but golden you are, and golden you'll be. Effulgent."
"That's a word I haven't heard in a while."
"It's your destiny, my love, yours and hers. She'll be the death of you."
"Better than the alternative. I'm not going to be the death of her, not for you or anyone else. I'm not going to let you hurt anyone here." The last of the glowing ball is vanishing now, and there's just the doll inside the pentacle, lifeless and silent. Willow keeps the ritual going, in case she's playing dead.
"You've got it bad, golden boy. But I'm not staying, there's nothing here for me now. Just ashes. From beneath you it devours..."
"I know. Want to give me a kiss? For luck?"
"Luck? What's that? Angels sing thee to thy rest, my golden boy. Won't be long now."
"Okay," says Willow, "it's done. She's banished, sent to hell, Miss Edith's free now."
"Bring her to me," says Drusilla, and I pick her up and walk back towards the vampires.
"One day you'll be a real boy," says Spike.
"Been there already," I say, "now I'm gonna be the lady's toy-boy."
"Is that right?" says Spike, and for a second I think he's going to rip me apart. "Maybe I should ask you your intentions, seeing as I'm the next of bloody kin."
"We're getting out of town, and I'm gonna to try to keep the lady out of trouble."
"Sounds like a plan. Best of luck to you both."
I give Miss Edith to Drusilla, and she listens for a few moments then kisses her, unties her hands and says "Yes, it's good that the nasty witch has gone. Now I'm going to take you and your new brother away from the nasty Slayer and the other witch."
"Just a second," I say, "Gotta say goodbye to her and the witch."
"Don't be too long," says Drusilla, "We've far to go before we sleep."
I trudge back most of the way to the pentacle, and say "That's it, folks. I'll be leaving with Drusilla, don't try to stop her. It won't do any of us any good."
"Are you sure about this?" asks Willow.
"Don't worry, she'll be putty in my hands."
"I hope you're right."
"Don't worry, toots. Say goodbye to the rest of the gang for me, okay?"
"'Kay," says the Slayer, and suddenly picks me up, kisses me, and puts me down again.
"Wow. Now I'm really sorry to be going, but I gotta do it. So long, folks, it's been real."
I trudge back to Drusilla, who's talking to Spike and eventually gives him a little peck on the cheek. He glares at me again and says "You be good to her, or I'll track you down and turn you into kindling."
"Don't worry, I will." Drusilla picks me up, and gives me a quick hug, and we walk off into the night.
Dru keeps her end of the bargain, and we never do go back to Sunnydale. I won't tell you how it comes out; what happens to the Slayer and her friends, and to Drusilla and me. Maybe you know a lot of it already, and I'll guess that sooner or later you'll learn more. If you're one of the Powers That Be you're probably helping to make it happen. Let's just say that it's a long complicated road we walk before I end up back in heaven, or limbo, or whatever the hell you want to call it.
And of course I soon realise something. It's still boring.
So they offer me another assignment. This time they guarantee me a proper living body, and everything else I think to stipulate. I'm really looking forward to doing the job.
Next time I get a goddamned lawyer to look at the small print...