Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Torchwood belong to their perspective owners; I am not one of them. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment purposes and no money shall be made from this entertainment.

Blue Coats and Guarding the Rifts

By Colleen

Chapter 10

To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

~Farmer's Almanac, 1978

Willow took over Ms Calendar's classes for a few days, until the teacher got over being thrown around by Angelus and more or less dropped on her head when she was rescued. The teacher was bruised, strained, terrified and concussed and Giles had stayed with her at the hospital the entire time. Once she'd been released, he'd taken her back to his, putting her up in the guest room.

During this time, she told him everything of what she'd been working on, what had been destroyed and what, with work, might be recovered. She'd found a way to translate the curse, she could do it again. Of course, Angelus knew that, and would do his level best to keep her from recreating the spell and this time they might not get any warning.

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Spike made it back before Angelus, though not by much and only because the other vampire had to go to ground (or in this case, sewer) to give himself a little time to heal.

Wheeling himself back into the warehouse, Drusilla gave him a confused look, as if she'd lost track of him. Since she didn't immediately mention being annoyed at him for visiting the undying Mr. Harris he figured that Angel's problems were taking up most of her mind.

When Angelus staggered in 30 minutes later, Spike was impressed with the damage. "What, did you hire yourself out as a paper target or something?"

Angel snarled at him, and then went and plucked the puppy Dru had been carting around lately out of her lap. He drained the thing dry and tossed the body into the trash.

"Oh, poor Miss Sunshine, and she was ever so smart."

Angel looked at her, shaking his head before collapsing on the nearest piece of furniture.

"Did Daddy take care of the nasty teacher?"

"No, Daddy did not. Because someone I already killed was there to help her."

Drusilla narrowed her eyes and looked him over. "I said he did it wrong, didn't I Spike?"

"Sorry luv, did what wrong?"

"The Slayer's pressie, on Valentine's Day."

Angel sat up. "I did not do that wrong, he was dead."

Spike chuckled. "It must not have taken."

Angel appeared to want to snarl something back at Spike, but was just too damn tired to bother.

"So, does this mean you're going to become Buffy-whipped Angel again shortly?"

This time he did snarl. "No, I did manage to destroy the spell and the computer she was translating it on. It will probably take time for her to recreate it."

"So, you'll get her next time, that it?"

"Yes." Angelus said with a hiss before standing and stalking off, stripping his tattered shirt from his body as he went.

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Miss Calendar did not go out after dark. For the next little while in fact, other than Buffy, none of them went out after dark if they could help it and even Buffy's patrolling was curtailed for a time when she passed out on the steps to the upper stacks in the library. Panicked, they rushed her to the hospital for injuries taken in the fall, the result of what would turn out to be a very severe case of the flu.

Of course Buffy wouldn't be Buffy if a trip to the hospital were actually normal and she ended up taking care of an invisible demon that was killing kids by draining their life-force.

During her illness, they kept watch over Buffy, in case Angelus found out and made an attempt on her life, but nothing happened. For once, the master vampire appeared to be out of the loop. It was at least one less thing for them to worry about that week.

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Close to a month after Buffy and most of their classmates had recovered from the flu, the entire Scooby group, including Miss Calendar, met in the library. Briefly, they discussed an event from the night before. Buffy, who'd been checking out the school as part of her normal patrol, stopped a boy from killing his girlfriend. Problem was, once she'd stopped them, they couldn't remember why they'd started fighting in the first place and the gun she thought she'd seen was now nowhere to be found. Not sure what to make of it, they tabled the problem and moved on to Miss Calendar to discuss the soul curse.

"I'm sorry; I was hoping that since a lot of the ground work on the translations didn't have to be done again that it would go fairly quickly. But without being able to use the school's system at night... It's just going to take longer."

Xander sighed. Everyone was depressed now, but Buffy managed to take hers to a higher or perhaps lower plateau with that piece of news. Not that anyone blamed her.

"You know," Xander said. "I might know someone, who knows someone, who would have a computer system that makes whatever it is the school uses look like an abacus." Torchwood Three's mainframe could probably chew through the problem in a day or two, hell, maybe even an hour or two, but Xander was thinking that if Jack could get them some help from UNIT it would probably be safer.

Miss Calendar looked uncomfortable about the idea though. "I don't know. I'm not sure I like the idea of someone I don't know having access to that material. There's a lot of damage that could be done with it, especially if the caster doesn't know what they're doing."

Xander grimaced and nodded. He could easily see that happening with UNIT. Curiosity was an overriding habit with most of their people, or they wouldn't be working for them in the first place.

Oz, who was soaking up the conversation, actually spoke up with an idle thought. "It's too bad that you didn't follow the golden rule."

"Do onto other's as you would have done on to you?" Buffy asked, slightly confused.

Oz blinked out of whatever thoughts he had gone onto since saying that. "Ah, no. The golden rule of computers."

Miss Calendar's eyes widened. "Always make a backup."

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Two minutes later, they were all standing in the computer lab.

"I don't know how I could have forgotten."

"You were concussed Jenny and in a very stressful situation."

"I know, but..." She shook her head. "It may have been destroyed when Angel trashed the place, but I did make a disc. I popped it before... before and I put it down... ah, damn it, somewhere, I don't remember where."

Giles came up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "But that somewhere was in this room?"

She nodded.

He looked around the room. "Okay everyone, computer disc, here, somewhere. Miss Calendar and Willow, you should probably check through the discs on the desk, in case it ended back in there. The rest of us, we need to tear this place apart. Not one inch of this place goes un-searched."

During the search, they saved the area of the desk and filing cabinet for last since Willow and Miss Calendar were going through the other discs there, so of course that was where they found it once they'd pulled the desk away from the cabinet.

Jenny took the disc and carefully slotted it into the computer. Almost immediately, text in a language none of them could read started to scroll down in a left-hand window. "Yes, this is it, please still be okay, please." A translation program window appeared and it's progress bar begin its march across the screen, once it reached its end, an English translation started to scroll down in a right-hand window.

"Yes!"

"We have it." Buffy said, her voice dazed. "We can get Angel back?"

"Yes we can." Miss Calendar said, triumph in her voice.

Xander leaned up against a desk and sighed. He'd avoided voicing this question until now, because why rock the boat when you don't have to, but the boat was at the dockā€¦ and that was enough of that metaphor.

"The question is, should we?"

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'Ask one little question', Xander thought, cringing.

Fifteen minutes later and back in the library with a print out, a laptop and the disc, everyone was either ignoring Xander, angry with Xander or both.

Slumped in a seat at the table, he looked everyone over as they discussed what they would need, and who might actually be capable of doing the spell.

"You didn't answer my question."

Buffy slammed her fist down the table, making it creak alarmingly. "Damn it Xander, I know you hate Angel, but..."

"I don't."

"Oh, come on Xander. You out and out told me you'd kill him if you had the chance."

"No, I said I'd kill Angelus."

"That's the same thing."

"No it's not and you know it. Angelus is a demon; Angel was the man fighting that demon. I'm not saying maybe we shouldn't do it because I hate Angel, I'm saying it because I don't want to hurt Angel that much."

"What?"

"This is a curse Buffy, not a cure. Do you really want to take him, take Angel and meld him to a demon again? Do you really want to make him remember everything the demon has done since he's been gone? I know you want him back, but is it the right thing to do?"

Buffy sat, hitting the chair only by luck and started to hyperventilate, her eyes wide with horror.

Giles cleared his throat. "While what Xander says is true, I have to be a bit more pragmatic."

Xander tilted his head upward, curious. "By all means."

"Angelus is a master vampire, one that to date, we haven't been able to stop and who is more unpredictable than any vampire we've come up against before. We are not having any luck against him face to face. This curse may be our best way of stopping him from doing further damage. From causing more death. By that alone, I would say we need to do this. However, I also believe that given how Angel feels about the deeds done by the demon previously, that he would be willing to do anything to stop him, even if it means having to become him again."

Xander looked at the Watcher with a good deal of respect. "You do pragmatic really well."

Giles snorted. "Yes, well, that being said, are we in agreement about doing this spell?"

"I have no more objections." Xander said. Everyone else nodded, Buffy looking almost as if she were praying as she did.

"Good, Jenny?"

"I'm not sure I have the power to pull this off by myself, but I think with Willow's help we could do it, soon."

An old memory thumped at Xander's mind. "Giles, did Amy ever come to see you, about the witchcraft thing?"

"Ah, yes. I gave her some starting material and an introduction to a coven I know of in England. I think she's been getting advice from them by," he waved a hand towards Willow's laptop, "computer mail."

"E-mail."

"What?"

"Never mind. Do you think she could help us as well, with the spell?"

"I think I can do this," Willow said, "But I'll check with her. Besides, three is a powerful number; we might have a better chance if we did it that way."

Jenny agreed. "If she is willing." She hesitated, glancing at Buffy. "It's going to take a few days. There are supplies I have to re-buy and we have to see who is best suited to doing what as far as the casting goes."

Everyone nodded, willing to do their part. Even Buffy, who appeared as if she were ready to crawl out of her skin. But she knew that a few days wait was better than messing the spell up. They might only have one chance at this.

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That night, the school janitor shot and killed a female teacher and Giles, who was in his office trying to find his Orb of Thesulah from wherever it had rolled off to, jumped the maintenance man after he attempted to leave the scene. Once again, the gun had disappeared and the janitor couldn't for the life of him figure out why he'd started to fight with the teacher in the first place.

Preparations for the soul spell got a little lost after that, as the school was invaded first by snakes, and then later by wasps. Eventually it got sorted out, but not before Buffy and Angelus were both possessed by the spirits that were replaying the scene with the gun over and over again. But this time, Buffy ended up the shooter and Angel was the person being shot. Since he could survive the bullet, the female spirit possessing him was able to stop male ghost possessed Buffy from taking her/his own life and forgave him/her for what had happened. This broke the haunting and the school returned to normal, or as normal as it could get.

It also solidified Buffy's decision about the soul curse. For a moment she seemed to see Angel once again where Angelus was now.

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Angelus gnashed his teeth as he attempted to scrub away the feeling of pure love he'd been possessed by. It was bad enough that he wasn't able to get near the computer teacher since his first attempt at her, but Dru had been spouting off about 'what once was lost was found again,' which obviously meant the spell. He figured he'd just cut his losses and finally take care of the Slayer and this happens.

"They say when you've drawn blood, you've exfoliated."

Angel snarled at Spike, who just smirked back at him from his wheelchair.

"Poor, poor Angel. All the pieces will be together soon." Drusilla blinked back tears. "They're going to change everything."

Angel stopped washing and grabbed a towel to dry off. "No, the only thing that is going to change is how much time they have to live."

"Sure it will." Spike said, with as much sarcasm as he could muster, which was a lot.

Angel grabbed a shirt and slipped into it, looking at Spike like he wanted his spleen on a plate.

"Oh, yes, oh yes, yes, yes. Something's coming, something soon, sooner than all of the pieces can find each other." Drusilla weaved back and forward in place for a moment, then snapped out of it, looking like she hadn't realized she'd been saying anything.

Angel stared at her appraisingly, but seemed to realize that he wouldn't get anything further out of her at the moment.

"Let's get outta here. I need a really vile kill before sun up to wipe this crap out of my system."

Drusilla growled happily. "Of course. We'll find you a nice toddler." She looked over to Spike. "Want to come, pet?"

"Leave him Dru. I 'm sure he'd be hell on wheels, but we don't have much time." He walked over to Spike and put his hands on his shoulders. "Gotta travel light. Sorry. Try to have fun without me." He and Dru left, leaving an angry Spike behind. As soon as they were gone, Spike smiled. "Oh, I will." The blond vampire stood. It had taken time since that stunt he'd pulled a month ago, but he was back. He kicked the wheelchair away. "Oh, I definitely will, and sooner than you think."

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"Anyway, I talked to Amy on the phone and she'll be back in a few days. Her dad insisted she visit the grandparents before they go off on some kind of world tour, but it was lousy timing. We'd finally worked out the kinks between the three of us and we were ready, and now we'll have to wait until she's back before doing the spell." Willow gazed into the bonfire as she said this.

Xander pulled his great coat around him; his backside a little chilled even this close to the fire. "That's good, although it doesn't make me feel much better about being ordered by our loving principal to attend the swim team's victory party. Especially a party at night and outside."

Oz, who had been on depressed Buffy watch came back and Xander gave his seat up to him and headed over to see if he couldn't get Buffy to come back to the fire. He was part way down to where she was sitting on the beach when he noticed one of the swim team members attempting to use the 'sensitive guy technique to pick up chicks' on her. He was going to break that up, when he heard Jonathan calling for help.

Heading towards the cry for help, he found another member of the swim team dunking Jonathan's head in the drink's tub that was filled with ice and water while the other macho idiot on the team stood around and cheered him on.

As Xander approached, he riffled Jack's memories for something he usually avoided. The Captain had at one time been a very good torturer. If you absolutely needed them to spill their guts, you went to him. This also meant that he was very knowledgeable about how to create pain, with the least amount of physical damage.

Two fingers into the right nerve had the swim jock down in the sand, writhing, allowing Jonathan to pullhis head back out of the drink tub.

"Wow, you might want to watch those muscle spasms, if that happened during a race you'd be screwed." Xander gave the swimmer his best evil smile.

Jonathan, dripping and freezing, looked a little surprised at the guy on the ground. Buffy and the guy who'd been hitting on her showed up and Xander let them pick swim team guy up while he manoeuvred Jonathan away from the collected idiots. Jonathan pulled away from him and started to walk angrily down the beach. Xander followed and pulled off his great coat and wrapped the other teen in it once the young man had run out of steam and collapsed, sitting down in the sand abruptly.

"Those, those, those, those..."

"You can call them bad names Jonathan, I don't mind."

"Those assholes!"

"About sums them up."

Jonathan pulled the great coat around him a little tighter and looked over at Xander as he sat down in the sand beside him. "Thanks." He said, a little sheepishly.

"De nada."

"Well, isn't this cozy."

Xander turned to see Spike behind him. "Well, shit."

"Nice to see you too Harris. Who's the friend?"

Jonathan turned to look at Spike and swallowed in sudden fear. "Ah, I'm, ah..."

Xander had the feeling that Jonathan knew exactly what Spike was, or at least recognized the danger. "He's going back to the party." Jonathan's eyes bugged out and Xander continued in a quiet whisper to the frightened teen. "And he's going to get Buffy."

Jonathan nodded and got up, backing away from Spike. "Right, I'll just head back to the party, ah, nice to meet you." He cringed as he said that, then turned, and bolted, coat dragging behind him as he ran.

Spike sighed. "You didn't have to do that."

Xander gave him a look and then stood, brushing sand off his pants as he did.

"Honest, I'm just here to tell you that you need to get a step on with that spell. Dru knows you have it and she says that something else is brewing, although even she doesn't know what it is."

Xander was about to reply when he heard a muffled scream down the beach. He narrowed his eyes at Spike, who just shrugged.

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Jonathan ended up shucking Xander's coat and hoped the other teen wouldn't kill him for it, but he couldn't run in it. He passed the swim team heading down to the water for a midnight dip, but was too worried to be afraid of them. The team themselves were actually more interested in the water than another chance to bully the young man and they passed without incident.

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Xander headed down the beach towards the scream, with Spike tagging along out of curiosity. Along the way, he found the great coat and picked it up, shaking the sand from it as he continued to walk. He wasn't surprised that Jonathan had to dump it; running in it had probably been killing him.

A little further along and slightly higher up the beach, Xander stopped when his foot hit something that squished. He stepped back, wrinkling his nose at the smell in the air and fumbled for the flashlight he kept in one of the coats pockets. Spike stepped up beside him, equally disgusted by the smell and able to see what Xander couldn't.

"You might not want to look, it isn't pretty."

Xander threw him a glare in the dark and then pulled out the flashlight, turning it on. He took another step back, annoyed to find that the vampire was right. A pile of clothes, torn skin and blood were all that was left of whoever it was. Spike peered a little closer at the mess. "You're friend, the runner; he didn't strike me as the tattoo type."

"He isn't." Xander said swallowing, because yes, that this could be all that was left of Jonathan was what first occurred to him.

Spike pointed at a tattoo of a shark on the shredded skin.

"I think." Xander said, "That this is one of the swim team members."

"I think that this was one of the swim team members."

Xander figured kicking Spike wouldn't help matters, but he was sorely tempted. The blond vampire wrinkled his nose again and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it in an attempt to kill some of the smell. He looked over at Xander. "Want one?" He said, indicating the smoke. Xander glanced at him briefly and shook his head. "No, only after sex." He stopped and groaned lightly. "I have got to stop saying things like that."

Xander took a closer look at the vampire. "I'm surprised this is bothering you smell wise, it's just flesh and blood after all. I'd have thought you'd be use to it."

Spike shook his head. "There's something else there, I can't place it, but it's really rank." He took another drag on the cigarette. "So, what are you going to do about this?"

Xander pulled out his phone. "Call the police with an anonymous tip, not much else I can do at the moment." He called it in, moving along the beach towards the party as he did. They met up with Jonathan, who was on his way back. "Hey, oh, you found your coat, good." He said, fidgeting and attempting to avoid looking at Spike.

"And Buffy?" Spike asked with humour in his voice.

"We're going to die now, aren't we?"

Spike raised an eyebrow at that.

"Jonathan?"

He looked miserable. "Willow said she caught a ride home with some guy."

Xander sighed and face planted into one of his hands. "Great." He looked back down the beach, towards the sort of body. "Go back to the party and stick with Willow and Oz and Cordelia. I'll be back shortly."

"Or he could stay here, and we'll have a smaller party."

Jonathan looked as if he was about to pass out at the suggestion. Spike finally took pity on the kid and made a waving motion towards the party. "Go."

He looked at Xander who nodded and Jonathan went. Heading back to the party at his best speed, he hoped that even if Buffy was gone, Xander's other friends might be able to help with whatever it was about Spike that scared the hell out of him.

Hoped, but didn't quite believe.