Chapter 9

(Summers Residence)

Buffy stormed into her house in an increasingly bad mood, she had been attacked by no less than four vampires on the way back which had delayed her attempts to locate Spike. She had no idea where the four had come from, or why they all seemed to want to take her on at that particular time. She had made sure they had all paid for the delay they had caused her. She quickly began calling for Spike as she rushed through the house, but no one replied. Her anger increased as she decided it was time to pay Xander and the others a visit and see what they knew about Spike. Before leaving she went to her weapons chest and pulled one of her favorite swords out, she also grabbed the dagger she had used on Faith as she went evil and placed it in her belt. Then she turned and stormed back out the house. The others better have the answers she wanted or things were going to turn ugly.

Xander and Faith watched from behind a hedge as Buffy first went into the house only to tear right back out of it moments later, only this time she was armed. It didn't take a rocket scientist to guess where she was heading. He glanced at Faith and noted the dark gaze she wore as she watched Buffy vanish down the road.

"You okay Faith?" he asked as he pulled his mobile and called Tara to warn her about Buffy being on her way.

"That dagger in her belt was the same one she used to almost kill me the first time I was in town," Faith answered as she turned to look at him. "She fucking kept it, and now she has taken it for what I am sure in her mind is a threat to me," she added her tone becoming darker. "If she wants a rematch Xan, I'll give it to her," she stated.

"Easy Faith, remember this is just a shell of who Buffy used to be," Xander cautioned her as he finished his call to Tara. "She may have kept it because it was just a nice knife," he told her although she could tell by the sound of his voice he didn't really believe it.

"We better get back and prepare to meet Buffy head on," Faith said, deciding to change the subject.

"Let's go," Xander said as he allowed her to change the touchy subject they had been discussing. They both got up and began to run as hard as they could so they could beat Buffy back to the shop.


(Magic Box)

Tara closed her phone in concern. They didn't have much time left to complete the sacrifice before Buffy showed up and all hell broke loose. She moved forward to where Willow was awaiting her part in the ritual. The red head glanced at her and noted her concerned look.

"Buffy is on her way," Tara admitted.

"We knew she would come here in time and we should be done before she does so," Willow replied confidently. "Have faith honey," she added with a small pun at the end.

"I will when she gets back," Tara shot back, unable to stop herself replying as she really wanted to have Faith, so far they had only felt one another up and kissed heatedly. "And once we are done sending Buffy where she belongs," she added.

"I am sure Faith will love eating you up," Willow assured her with a sexy smile that made Tara want to melt, but she forced herself to focus as they had no time for that now.

They both turned back to the ritual as Janna began her part in the ritual sacrifice as Ethan and Ripper had already completed theirs. Waves of magic hovered over Spike who was now staring silently at his doom. Although shock had something to do with his silence and the other major fact for it was that Dawn had slapped a lot of tape over his mouth to stop him shouting and disrupting the whole thing. She now stood of to the side with the tranquilizer gun at the ready. She would be their first defense if Buffy got here before they finished sacrificing Spike. Tara would be the next in line as she had no part in the ritual as it only needed four people to do it. She had already prepared a freezing spell should it be needed.

"This is going to be close isn't it?" Tara inquired a little nervous about the coming to a confrontation with Buffy.

"Yes it is," Willow agreed with a nod of her head. "But don't worry Xander and Faith will be back before Buffy turns up," she assured her. "We'll have the advantage," she stated before Janna gave her a look and she stepped forward to begin her part of the ritual.

Tara watched her go somewhat reassured about how all this would turn out, but she would only feel better when Xander and Faith got back. They were stronger together than they were apart. That was the one vital thing she had learned from being involved in this group. Their combined strengths made them a much stronger unit which so far had been able to hold the Hellmouth against some very great threats. The most dangerous had of course been the hell goddess Glorificus, the fight against her had of course led to Buffy's death and thus led to the events that were now transpiring.

Had it not been for Buffy's death as she closed the portal Glory's minion had opened, then Spike would never have been able to take advantage of her in her current state. They should have never tried to bring her back. It had been their ultimate mistake. But with their belief that Buffy was in a hell dimension then, how couldn't they act? In the end it had led to Buffy's downfall in a sense, even if the Buffy they were fighting was not the Buffy they had once known. She couldn't help but wonder what the real Buffy would think if she could see what they had brought about. 'How would she react to this mess?' she wondered.

Spike tried to scream through the tape over his mouth as he felt the magic begin to take effect, whatever they were doing made him feel as if he was pulled apart. The pain was agonizing as the magic continued to play over him, his only hope was that Buffy found him in time to stop the ritual from being completed. One thing that kept repeating in his mind was the craziness factor, of the white hats actually sacrificing him. He would never have believed in a thousand years that they could have the balls to do this to anyone, but especially to him. He supposed he should be grateful that Angel wasn't here to see this, as that would have been all the more degrading to him. He heard all four of the spell casters begin to speak now and as the magic increased, he realized the end for him was coming.

The door to the shop opened and Dawn quickly brought up the tranquilizer gun even as Tara moved to her side just in case it was Buffy. They were both relieved to see it was only Xander and Faith. Xander looked slightly out of breath while Faith looked as she usually did. It was clear they had run here to beat Buffy and it had clearly taken its toll on Xander, while Faith as the Slayer could run almost nonstop of course.

"You okay Xander?" Dawn asked somewhat confused as Xander collapsed into a chair beside her, he was red in the face and breathing hard.

"He'll be fine," Faith assured her. "He just needs a few moments to catch his breath, we had to really high tail it over here to beat B," she told her. "How is it going here?" she inquired as she began to load up the crossbow Giles kept behind the counter in case of trouble.

"I think the ritual is reaching its apex Faith," Tara informed her, she was just glad Willow had been right and they had gotten back here before Buffy arrived for what would be a big showdown.

"Good, B will be here soon," Faith shot back as she placed a few spare arrows on top of the counter for easy reach. "She didn't look to be in a good mood when she left her house," she warned them. "So expect her to come barging in ready for a fight," she added.

"I think we are ready for her," Dawn shot back as confidently as she could. Although she was certain the others knew she was scared of actually confronting what was left of her sister. She just hoped she would not let them all down by freezing.

Before anyone else could say anything the ritual reached its end and the magic washed over the room before it seemed to focus on Spike. The vampire's body jerked and spasmed, they could all hear his muffled cries and screams, but they ignored them. This vampire had earned the most painful end they could give him; they all agreed on that point. Not one of them would feel any mercy for his suffering; his many victims would hopefully gain some small measure of peace from this moment. Tara noticed Willow's eyes had turned black as the power washed over her. Her red hair was now also tinged with black giving her a more exotic look if she did say so herself. Janna also seemed to be affected the same way although the streams in her hair seemed to turn her hair even blacker. Ethan and Ripper however seemed immune to the currents of magic they had unleashed around them.

"Holy shit," Faith whispered as she felt the magic swirl around her, the fact she was the Slayer seemed to make her acutely aware of the power this ritual had called upon.

Spike's eyes turned white as the power continued to bear down on him, he lost the feeling in his limbs and he knew it was over. He had been so close to having it all with Buffy in his control. He would have been able to finally gain control of the Hellmouth. He would then have killed her former friends to ensure they would never again threaten him, but now it would never be. He had underestimated them and once again paid the price. He could only curse them one last time before he let another wail as his body was vaporised as the magic seemed to explode outward and then vanish.

"That sounded really painful," Dawn stated with wide eyes.

Ethan and Ripper collapsed to the floor, almost completely drained as they had borne the brunt of the ritual. Janna and Willow moved to sit down, they had not been as badly affected, as their parts had been smaller than the other two's.

"Good, if anyone deserved such a painful death he did," Ripper groaned as he raised a hand to his face and rubbed his eyes.

"Did we do it right?" Janna inquired as she looked around, wondering if something else was supposed to happen. This ritual sacrifice was supposed to balance out her return to life, if they messed it up then it was possible she might just fade away.

"I believe so," Ethan assured her with a short smile as he pushed himself to his feet and leaned against the wall. "Everything was done as was directed on the scroll the guardians gave us," he reminded her.

Ripper finally pushed himself back to his feet and moved to her side and pulled her into a sideways hug. He knew she was worried they may have slipped up, but he was certain they had gotten everything right. Janna was going nowhere. She was where she belonged, by his side.



Buffy growled as she slammed the vampire into the wall, she was beyond pissed now. It seemed for some reason the vampires were coming out in numbers this night to attempt to kill her. The delays this had cost her in getting to the Magic Box were making her anger spike beyond all previous levels. She broke the arm of the vampire she was fighting uncaring of his cries of pain as she flipped him to the ground before she pulled her stake and staked him. She picked her sword back off the ground and rushed forward, she was intent on reaching the shop before anymore vampires turned up. As she turned the corner she witnessed a flash of light from the Magic Box. She paused as she watched the light play through the windows and wondered what the source was. Was Willow messing around with magic again or was it something else, something worse? She rushed onwards towards the shop that lay at the end of the street, hoping that whatever the group was up to had nothing to do with Spike's disappearance.


(Magic Box)

Xander finally felt a lot better now after running for so long to get here before Buffy did. It had completely drained him and left him breathless. Now it had passed and seeing Spike finally destroyed made him feel even better. They were now one step closer to ensuring the safety of the Slayer line and the Hellmouth itself. Just as he was about to get up and join the others the door to the shop was broken inwards. They all turned to watch Buffy storm into the Magic Box, armed with a sword and a stake. The look on her face told them all that she was pissed off. She raised the sword and pointed it at them.

"Where is Spike?" she demanded in a tone that promised pain if they did not give her the answer she wanted.

"How the hell should we know B?" Faith shot back as she put the crossbow back down on the counter. If this broke into a fight she wanted to engage Buffy hand to hand, and prove once and for all who the better Slayer was.

"We haven't see your damn pet since our last little talk Buffy," Xander growled out, unable to stop himself from feeling the hatred and anger that last meeting had caused in him.

Even though he knew the truth that this was not the real Buffy Summers, he could not stop himself from wanting to attack her for the things she had said and done since they had brought her back. Glancing at Willow, he noted her eyes had darkened greatly and it was clear he was not the only one fighting that particular urge right now.

"Don't lie to me Xander," Buffy spat in response, pointing her sword at him. "You were never any good at it, now tell me what the hell you have done with my boyfriend?" she ordered.

"Get it into your head Buffy. We didn't do anything to Spike," Willow shot back as she stepped in front of Xander. "Why the hell would we want anything to do with that piece of slime?" she inquired.

"You think you are so smart don't you Willow?" Buffy replied with a sarcastic smile as she stepped forward. "I saw the light show that was going on in here before I entered, you were up to something and I bet my life it had to do with Spike," she told them. "Now where is he?" she demanded once more. "This is the last time I will ask," she warned them.

"Is that a threat?" Ripper inquired almost eager for a fight to start, even as Janna raised a hand to his chest to keep him calm.

"Are you deaf Giles, of course it is a threat," Buffy shot back, not liking the older man's tone before she actually took note that Giles now looked a lot younger than he had the last time she had seen him. "What the hell happened to you and why do you have that worm with you?" she demanded to know as she pointed to Ethan who just smirked at her, enjoying the fact his presence irritated her.

"That is for me to know and you to never find out," Ripper said, taunting her unable to resist. "As for Ethan being here," he told her. "Well, let us just say we are catching up on old times," he lied blatantly.

Buffy growled at the sarcastic response from her former watcher. The smirk Ethan was directing at her made her anger grow even beyond what she was already feeling. Faith tensed, already seeing the changes in Buffy's body that she intended to attack. She was ready and almost desperate for her blond counterpart to throw the first punch.

"Leave Buffy," Tara spoke up. "We have nothing more to say to you. You've spat on all our friendships so you can be a whore to Spike," she continued, ignoring the enraged look Buffy shot her as the word whore was spoken. "We couldn't care less where Spike is, but if you want him then go find him because we want nothing to do with him ever again and you should know that," she stated.

"Liars," Buffy spat before she finally gave in to the urge to attack her former friends. She was halfway across the room heading straight for the bitch who had dared to call her a whore as Faith intercepted her. She was sent flying backwards with a thrust kick to her stomach. Buffy dropped her sword as she hit the ground and Faith settled herself into a ready action stance.

"Let's go B," Faith challenged Buffy as the blond slayer jumped back to her feet. "I've wanted a rematch since the moment you stabbed me," she admitted.

"I'll tear you to pieces and make sure I kill you this time," Buffy promised before she charged again.

"Bring it on Blondie," Faith snarled back as all her repressed hatred for Buffy came back fully.

Willow moved to attack before the blond could reach Faith, but Xander stopped her with his hand on her shoulder, she glanced at him and he shook his head at her. She nodded in understanding. This was Faith's battle and only she could subdue Buffy properly. Plus by letting Faith do this she may finally put her past behind her, it was clear having been stabbed by Buffy still affected her deeply. Faith ducked the wild swing from Buffy and quickly realized the blond was so pissed off she was now prone to mistakes. She wondered if it was just down to her being angry or was it a side effect of what had been done to her. Buffy quickly came back with a thrust kick which she dodged again and the she hit back with a kick of her own. This sent Buffy backwards and allowed Faith to advance in close and nail her with a right hand. This split Buffy's lip and caused her to start bleeding much to Faith's enjoyment, Buffy let out a growl and quickly hit back.

Faith stumbled backwards from the elbow Buffy managed to land on her. Buffy followed it up with a back kick which again made Faith stumble and which allowed Buffy to knock her to the ground with a nasty elbow hit. Faith quickly reacted and thrust her feet out catching Buffy in the chest as she came in to try and finish her. It didn't escape Faith that Buffy had pulled the knife from her belt. It was clear Buffy intended to kill her this time, the kick sent Buffy flying backwards and drop the knife as Faith jumped back to her feet. As Buffy came back at her she stopped as something hit her, looking down she noted a little dart sticking out of her chest. Looking up quickly she glared at her sister who held the tranq gun. Dawn shivered as she saw the look in her sister's eyes.

"You bitch," Buffy said as Dawn reloaded the gun. "I should have let that hell bitch take you," she growled, completely consumed with hatred towards them all.

She charged again, but her speed was already beginning to slow from the tranquilizer. Faith blocked the multiple shots she tried to land before stunning her with her right hand. She then twisted around and knocked Buffy back to the ground with a spin kick and before Buffy could get back to her feet Dawn scored another hit with the tranq gun. The second dose began to affect Buffy's bearings and she stumbled a little as she got back to her feet. This allowed Faith to get in close and land multiple hits to her chest and face. She then head-butted the blond and smirked as she heard a slight crack, this indicated she may have broken the blonds nose. Buffy let out a grunt of pain before she collapsed to the ground as Dawn put another dart into her. Her vision swam and she desperately tried to stay conscious, but the darkness took her and she fell still.

"Nice shots Dawn," Faith said with a grin as she turned to the younger girl. "I didn't want to drag that out too much, but still beating her made my day," she added cockily.

"You are not mad I interfered?" Dawn inquired, having been unsure if she should interfere or not, before deciding that she wanted this all sorted out quickly so her sister could finally have peace.

"No Dawn I'm not," Faith said as she moved over to the girl's side and pulled her into a deep probing kiss Dawn eagerly returned. When Faith pulled away Dawn swayed a little from the feelings the kiss evoked in her. "If it had gone on too long probably one of us would have killed the other and then we'd be in trouble," she added with a smirk before she left Dawn and moved over to where Buffy had dropped her knife. She quickly reclaimed it and vowed to put it to better use.

"We need time to recover before we can send her to the guardians," Ripper stated as he moved to pick up Buffy while Ethan moved to close and seal the door the Slayer had busted open coming in.

"We can't keep hitting her with tranqs," Dawn pointed out worried by what kind of effects they would have on Buffy's system.

"Don't worry Dawn," Willow said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Tara and I will put her under a sleep spell until we are ready to send her to the guardians," she explained to which Tara nodded.

"How long before we can do the ritual?" Xander asked as he sat back down as Willow and Tara began to put Buffy under a sleep spell after removing the darts in her chest.

"Give us an hour or two," Ethan responded as Ripper moved to make them all a drink. "That first one took a lot out of us all," he pointed out.

"At least without Spike on our case and Buffy under wraps things are mostly going to plan," Janna assured them. "Hopefully once we have sent Buffy to the guardians, we can then implement our plan to safeguard Sunnydale," she added hopefully.

"Yeah let's hope so," Willow responded with a look Janna couldn't identify. Maybe the red head was worried something might go wrong. Granted this being Sunnydale she was probably right in being worried, things of a bad nature always tended to happen around here.