Buffy was in the courtyard. The sun was shining and she felt warm and safe. 'Courtyard' was a bit of a grand name for it, it was just a small walled portion of the garden, that could only be reached from the house. At mid-day, it was a total suntrap and Buffy liked to lie on a sun-lounger and soak up the rays. Her only regret, was that Spike couldn't join her. Still, he really appreciated her all-over tan and he liked to see her, from the safety of the window, her nude body glowing in the sunlight and glistening with oil.
She could feel him watching her and she slowly and teasingly rolled over on to her back.
'Come back to me,' His voice reverberated in her head. 'Where are you, my love? BUFFY!'
She opened her eyes, with a gasp.
"Back with us, Miss Summers?" RatBastardWatcher said, with a sarcastic smile.
Buffy's memories flooded back. RatBastardWatcher shooting her with a tranquillizer dart, everything fading away and then…
'Buffy, thank God, you're alive. Where are you?'
Their telepathic connection was back.
'I don't know,' Buffy 'replied'. 'I'm in a cellar. It's the RatBastardWatcher that cast the forgetting spell. He wants to kill us. He says that when he kills me, you'll die too.'
'Probably would but, hopefully, I'll find you first. Keep him talking, Dalton's doing a locator spell.'
'Dalton's here? He's meant to be watching over my mom…'
'He's not here but… I'll explain, once this is sorted.'
"Yes, Miss Summers," RatBastardWatcher said, watching Buffy's faraway expression, as she silently communicated with Spike. "I've lifted the barrier spell that was keeping you and your 'mate' apart." He said the word 'mate' with distaste, as though the concept was the vilest thing in existence.
Buffy tried to sit up but it was too much. The chains felt heavy, too heavy for her to lift.
"You're drugged, of course." RatBastardWatcher said, smugly. "Lifting the spell, has the side effect of rendering the chains breakable. I had to 'give you a shot' I believe is the American vernacular. I'm sure that you remember the effects of the substance, from your cruciamentum. Of course, I've had to use a stronger dose."
"Did I lift the spell? So that your vampire would know what was happening. So he could see the face of his killer and know, in his last moments, that the council of watchers has won."
"I don't understand why you hate us, so much." Buffy said, trying to keep him talking, the way Spike had asked. "We're not harming anyone, Spike's even saved the world. Why do you want us dead?"
"I've told you before, Miss Summers, slayers can't be permitted to bond with vampires. The vampire gains too much power and the slayer stops aging. Without the death of the slayer, a new one can't be called."
"But, a new one has been called. Kendra. What's the matter, she's not compliant enough for you?"
RatBastardWatcher muttered something.
"Huh?" Buffy asked.
"I said, Kendra failed her cruciamentum. We don't understand why. We gave her every advantage, plenty of weapons lying around, a docile opponent…"
"Oh, I see, the cruciamentum really isn't fair. You all wanted me dead very badly, didn't you."
"As I said, we didn't control you, when you were a potential; we knew that once you came of age, you would be even harder to control."
"What's the new girl like?" Buffy asked, feeling sad for Kendra but feeling hatred for the watchers council even more.
"Another loose canon. I don't know what's gone wrong with the slayer line. We locate potentials, prepare them, train them and then, some unlocated piece of garbage gets chosen."
"Maybe the powers are trying to tell you something." Buffy said, marvelling at this man's obvious hatred of anyone he couldn't control.
"She'll have to be put down. Force another to be chosen, someone more suitable." He said, matter of factly, as though discussing the weather.
"Is that what you're doing to me? Putting me down, like a sick animal." Buffy was outraged. Bad enough to be murdered but this?
"Yes," He said, thoughtfully, "It's exactly like that. It won't be me, though. You'll have the pleasure of knowing that your death will be doing some good. You're going to be a training exercise." He raised his voice, "Wesley, come in here, please."
A younger man entered the room. He was dressed in a suit, wore glasses and looked extremely uncomfortable.
"What would you like me to do, Father?" He asked, nervously.
"This is the final part of your watcher training. You are very fortunate, we don't usually have the opportunity to offer this. Before you, you see a rogue slayer. She has pair bonded with a vampire - William the Bloody - and she is to be killed. Now, obviously, this sort of thing doesn't happen very often but watchers do have to make difficult decisions, sometimes having to execute their charges." He handed Wesley a gun.
The young would-be watcher, looked at the gun, at Buffy and then, at his father.
"You expect me to…?" He looked like he would be sick.
"Yes. What on Earth's the matter, boy? You killed that vampire, without too much trouble. Although, they did have to hold it down for you. And then, there was that embarrassing asthma attack you had, when you breathed the dust but that won't happen, this time. Just try not to get covered in blood."
"Father, I can't just kill a helpless girl."
"She is not a 'helpless girl'. She's an out of control, slayer whore, who's giving it up to a vampire, night after night. She needs to die."
"How can she be The Slayer? She looks nothing like Faith."
"Honestly boy, how could I have been cursed with such a fool for a son? She's Kendra's predecessor."
"So how is she still alive? She can't be a vampire, bullets don't harm them." Wesley asked, trying to put off this terrible task his father had asked of him.
"She drowned and someone resuscitated her. There are two slayers, now."
"Isn't that a good thing?"
"Weren't you listening?" He turned to his son and started to speak to him as though he was a moron. "She is bonded with a vampire. When she dies, he dies, now, be a man for a change and kill her."
Wesley nervously fingered the gun, hoping that this was a different kind of test and his father would let it go only so far, before he relented. He couldn't shoot this poor, chained, girl.
"Oh for heaven's sake, boy, do I have to hold your finger on the trigger? Be a man."
"Very well, Father." Wesley said, quietly and with a weary resignation in his voice.
Holding his breath, he carefully took aim at Buffy. RatBastardWatcher, satisfied that his order was going to be carried out, looked down at Buffy, a smug smile on his face. Buffy looked up, helplessly, at the barrel, waiting for the bullet that would end her life.
'Spike,' She said, in her head, surprisingly calmly. 'I love you.'
She closed her eyes and Wesley fired.
The noise was deafening, in the enclosed space of the cellar and the room was showered with blood, brain matter and splinters of bone. Wesley dropped the gun and stared, in shock, at the hideous mess that had been a human being's head. He turned away and was violently sick.
Buffy, laying on the floor, too weakened by drugs to move, opened her eyes and found herself face to… well, not 'face' because RatBastardWatcher, no longer had one. What he had instead, was an exit wound. The middle of his face was now, a gaping, dripping, red hole. One of his eyes hung sideways, still attached to the optic nerve, the other was missing. If Buffy could turn to look, she would have seen it, sliding, gloopily down the wall. This, more than any of it, had made Wesley sick.
"I've done it, now." Wesley muttered, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his suit.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed, quietly.
Wesley ignored her and walked to his father's corpse. He stared down at it for a few seconds and then started to kick.
"FUCK YOU!" He shouted, punctuating each kick. "FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU! YOU OVERBEARING, UNFEELING, FUCKING CUNT!"
Screaming this last word, at the top of his lungs, seemed to take the last of his anger and he stopped.
"Are you alright?" He asked Buffy, calmly.
"Oh, yes! I've waited my whole life, to do that."
He went to Buffy and started to unfasten her chains.
"Is there an antidote for the stuff he's shot me up with?" Buffy asked. "I don't know what it's called, it's the stuff they use for the cruciamentum."
"Yes. Upstairs, I'll phone the police while I'm up there."
"So they can arrest me." He replied, as if it was obvious.
"Is that what you want?"
"Tell me the address of this place and when Spike turns up, invite him in. He'll sort it."
"Sort it?" Wesley repeated, blankly.
"Yeah. He knows people… er… demon people… scavengers. Once they've finished, no will ever know. Not forensics, not anyone."
"He won't kill me?"
"You've just saved my life, Wesley, the worst thing Spike will do to you, is thank you."
Wesley smiled and told Buffy the location of the house.
"Any chance of a shower and fresh clothes?" She looked down at herself, "Coz….eww."
Wesley looked at her, covered in blood and… He started to feel sick again, he was sure she had one of his father's teeth in her hair.
"Can you stand?"
Buffy sat up, experimentally. Now the chains weren't weighing her down, she felt slightly better. Wesley helped her to her feet.
Buffy sighed with pleasure as the hot water streamed down over her soapy body. All was right with the world. Spike was on his way, RatBastardWatcher was dead, she'd had the antidote, was feeling stronger and, best of all, was getting clean.
She shuddered, as, while washing her hair, something bony detached from her hair and clinked its way to the plug hole. Would she ever feel clean again?
Drying herself off, she found that Wesley had left her a large cable knit sweater and a pair of extremely clean boxers. She put them on. The sweater was long enough, on her, to pass as a dress and, looking at her reflection, the colour even suited. A kind of mossy green that brought out her eyes.
She smelled food cooking.
By the time Spike arrived, Buffy was feeling much better. Wesley had bagged their clothes in a bin liner, showered, changed and had made her some hot soup.
Once inside the house, Spike shook Wesley's hand.
"I can't thank you enough, mate." He said.
"I didn't really do it…for Buffy… although, that was part of it, it was more… I just couldn't take it, anymore." Wesley said, embarrassed by Spike's effusive thanks.
"The yanks call that 'having issues'," Spike said, managing to make Wesley feel as if there was a kind of English camaraderie between them.
"Thank God I'm English," He said, when he'd caught his breath, "Or I'd have to be in therapy for years."
"I would say," Spike said, smiling, "That you worked out any issues you had with your father. Now, let's see if we can fix it so you don't get punished."
"I told him you could help… with the disposal." Buffy said, squeezing Spike's hand.
"Clean up crew are down there, now." Spike said. "Great guys, only found in England, feed on any kind of organic waste. Ever see the movie 'Critters'?"
"I must have missed that one." Wesley said.
"There'll be nothing left, believe me. I'm more worried about you."
"I feel great."
"Yeah, that'll wear off. The first time, particularly if it's someone you hated, there's a rush - a high, if you like - it doesn't last. When it crashes, there'll be guilt - he was your father, after all - right or wrong, you're gonna feel remorse."
"What do you suggest?"
"You should get out of this house, for a few days. Is there anywhere you can go?"
"Not really…" Wesley looked away, managing to convey, with that downcast look, that he had no friends.
"Oh, sod it; come home with us, for a few days. We'll take care of you." Spike said.
"Least we can do, mate."
"It's done." Dalton said, happily, turning from his computer screen and speaking to Spike on his phone.
Spike flicked a switch and put the conversation on speakerphone.
"According to flight records, Roger Wyndham-Pryce, boarded an aeroplane bound for southern Spain, in the early hours of this morning. When he turns up missing, it will be presumed that he's walked out on his family of his own free will." Dalton continued.
"I think Mother will be relieved, more than anything." Wesley said, looking up from the complicated sweater he was knitting. "Father packed her off to a health spa for a month, presumably so he wouldn't be interrupted; now, Mother will think he wanted her out of the way for a very different reason."
"So," Buffy said, "What are we doing about my mom?"
"You're booked on a flight to Sunnydale, leaving 10am tomorrow, your time." Dalton told her.
"And Spike?" She asked, already knowing the answer.
"I can't fly, pet - the whole sunlight thing - and you need to get there now…"
"I know. It's just…flying all that way, on my own…"
"I'd be honoured to accompany you, Buffy." Wesley said, unexpectedly. "After all, it was my father that caused the problem."
While Buffy had been held captive, Dalton had phoned to say that Buffy's mom was being treated for a brain tumour. It seemed that she was in hospital, asking for a daughter that no one else believed she had.
Wesley had hypothesized that the forgetting spell, in making a mother forget something so important, had caused her brain to rebel. The tumour was a physical reaction and was causing moments of lucidity, during which, Joyce remembered her daughter.
Buffy looked at Spike, he nodded.
"Dalton, book Wesley on with me. He's coming too."
Author's note:- The 'Dreaming' stories will continue with: 'I Must Be Dreaming' coming soon...