Chapter 4: Second Predictions
''Huh?'' Was the only response Buffy could make to Giles' request. It was either that or a resounding hell no. ''Why?''
''I've told you why,'' Giles said, running a hand over his face. ''She can't stay here forever. I don't like her around the inventory.''
''She's chained up.''
''She broke the chains. And then she drew faces all over the ingredient jars.'' Giles seemed particular peeved about this. ''Anya's throwing fits about having to replace them.''
Buffy desperately tried to think of a way out. ''Giles, where else can she go? We can't exactly trust her on her own, she'd probably leave town. Or wander off. Or get arrested…''
''Can't she stay with you?''
''I don't want to bring her home! Dawn's there!''
''Dawn is always here.''
''We're here too!''
''You're there as well!''
Buffy could see she was losing. ''Giles, I can't-''
Giles took his glasses off. ''I understand your predicament,'' he said, ''but I thought we agreed as long as Drusilla is needed for this situation, we would take precautions? What better way than keeping an eye on her in your own house?''
''Keeping an eye on her here?'' Buffy said hopefully.
''Where there are plenty of magical things she could get into? Where she could cause some mayhem to us on purpose? Or worse, by accident? Being human hasn't exactly made her more sane.''
Buffy kicked her feet. ''Well, with five or six good points like that…''
Giles looked both pleased and slightly guilty that he had won. ''If you really don't want Dawn around her, she could always come stay with me and Jenny.''
''Thanks. Hey, you know who you can definitely take in?''
''A crazy woman is not coming into my house around my pregnant wife.''
''I know, I know. It was a joke…'' Buffy sighed.
Getting Drusilla to agree to leave the dark basement and walk across town in the daylight to Buffy's house was an adventure in it of itself. She kept insisting she did not go out in the daytime, and not for the first time did Buffy wonder if she was aware of her human status. Drusilla eventually gave in after being assured she would not have to get in a car, Buffy's house did not have skylights, and Xander relinquished his new sunglasses. This was under great protest from Xander, and it wasn't until Anya started swearing at him in demon tongues that he handed over the glasses. Buffy supposed Anya was more eager to get Drusilla away from the merchandise than Giles was.
The walk was slow because Drusilla was slow. Buffy tried to be patient about this considering the woman did have some injuries, but she was pretty certain Drusilla's slow pace wasn't so much due to pain as it was a mixture of absentmindedness and wonderment. For one thing, she was seeing things in the daylight, and another, readjusting to things without her heightened vampire senses had to be a struggle. Buffy imagined it must've been similar to having stuffed up ears; sure you could still hear, but not as well as you should.
As she was faster, Buffy made a habit of walking ahead a few paces and then waiting at the corners for Drusilla to catch up. She watched her as she waited. She was outfitted in some pre-pregnancy clothes of Jenny's, but as she was slightly taller and much thinner, the clothes hung off her frame like old castoffs. It was just a plain t-shirt and jeans, along with an oversized cardigan that Drusilla had refused to take off the moment she put it on. Even now in the warm afternoon, she had it wrapped around her, the thick collar hiding her neck and her hands buried in the sleeves. She was a far cry from the Victorian Vampire the world knew her as. Buffy looked around nervously. She hoped no one saw them. A passerby would just have to glance at Drusilla and come to the conclusion she was some insane homeless person. And they wouldn't be far off.
Buffy was relieved when her house came into view. She hurried up the front steps and threw the door open. She waited for Drusilla to make her painstakingly slow way up the walk. ''Well, this is it,'' Buffy muttered, leading the way inside. Drusilla hesitated. ''Come on. You don't have to be invited anymore.''
With her eyes hidden, it was hard to tell if Drusilla had forgotten, or if she was just lost in thought. She crossed the threshold, and Buffy closed the door. Drusilla pointed past the dining room toward the kitchen. ''I broke that door once.''
''Yeah…'' Buffy vaguely remembered Xander saying something to that affect. ''Well, it's fixed now. Let's keep it that way.'' She walked into the dining room, relived at her friend's friendly faces. ''Hey. How's it going?''
She took back the description of friendly faces. Willow and Tara were sitting at the table, books and papers and laptops open. Buffy frowned. ''Not going good?''
''Not going.'' Willow slammed her laptop shut. ''There is virtually nothing on the Green Knight. Nothing on why he exists, why he picks challengers, what he looks like. At this rate if he ever shows up, just hope he's wearing a name tag.''
''What about past Challengers? Did they give any information?''
''Well…'' Tara looked uneasy. ''The last Challenger to win was back in the 1700's, and as the Oracle has been gone for centuries…''
''-Every Challenger since hasn't lived to tell the tale.'' Buffy sat in a chair with a sigh. She realized Drusilla was still standing in the doorway. ''You gonna come in?'' Drusilla did not move. ''…Okay…''
''We tried looking into the original King Arthur story,'' Willow continued, ''but there's no correlation between the tiny bit of information we do have on the Green Knight.''
''So the fact he's called Green Knight is a coincidence?''
Both women spread their hands. If possible, Buffy felt more deflated. She was the fighter in the group, but she knew the importance of having the book knowledge behind her in a fight. To potentially face this Big Bad with nothing was as appealing as another night fighting the heralds to his arrival.
The next hour passed with them discussing more possible plans, other books to check, other ground to cover. Buffy tried not to let the fact Drusilla was still standing unmoving in the entrance to the dinning room bother her. Honestly, there were plenty of chairs, and yet she stood still, watching them all silently, palming Xander's glasses in her hands.
The back door could be heard opening. ''I come bearing literature!'' Xander announced, walking through the kitchen and into the dinning room. He laid the books amidst the others on the table with purpose. ''Though it seems you have plenty already.''
''I think I'm crossed eyed from reading tiny print,'' Willow mumbled.
Willow had asked Xander to bring these book from the Magic Box, but Buffy suspected he also came for another reason. He spotted Drusilla. ''Done with those?'' Drusilla stopped moving her hands. ''Can I have them back?''
Considering what they went through to get Drusilla to agree to leave the basement, Buffy really didn't want to risk upsetting her again. But Drusilla had no expression and offered no complaint to Xander's request, and simply held the glasses out in front of her. She did not take so much as one step towards him.
Xander sniffed and reached as far as he could to swipe the glasses from her grasp. ''Be nice,'' Tara scolded him. Buffy could see Xander hadn't wanted to get any closer to Drusilla than he had to.
''What's her problem?'' He asked them all, turning his back on Drusilla and cleaning the sunglass lenses with his shirt. ''She not allowed on the nice carpet or something?''
''She won't come in,'' Buffy shrugged.
''She's been standing there a while,'' Willow whispered, glancing uneasily at Drusilla.
Tara looked angry. ''Stop talking about her like she isn't there.''
''She doesn't seem there,'' Xander commented. Buffy had to agree. Drusilla was now twirling a thread on her sleeve cuff around and around on her finger. Buffy hoped it wasn't one of her broken fingers.
Tara opened her mouth to speak, but then closed it again. She went angrily to the kitchen.
''…Something I said?'' Xander asked.
''She's just tired,'' Willow explained. ''These books are giving us headaches.''
''So glad I brought you more, then.'' The door could be heard opening again, and Buffy was afraid it was Tara leaving, worried about what they had said to make her so angry. But it was the front door, and Spike let himself in, an air of smoke with him.
''I thought you were going to stop doing that?'' Buffy snapped.
''Sun's setting, tunnels are close by. Hardly any direct exposure,'' Spike replied.
''You get soot all over my floors.''
''Oh, I am sorry if my burning corpse is an inconvenience.'' He approached them, nodded hello to Drusilla, who made no reply, and walked past her into the dinning room. He frowned as it registered she was just standing there. ''What, she just a second class citizen to you?'' He said accusatorially.
Buffy glared at him. ''She won't move,'' Xander defended her. ''Apparently your ex has something against this side of the room. Doesn't like our Feng Shui.''
Spike rolled his eyes. He looked around the room and an annoyed and exasperated expression came over his face. He marched to the side table on the wall behind Buffy, and plucked the mirror off of it. ''Hey!'' Buffy protested.
Spike leaned the mirror face down on the side table top. The second he did so, Drusilla wordlessly entered the dinning room and pulled out a chair for herself. Buffy felt embarrassed as she understood. ''Oh.''
''You try not looking at your reflection for 200 years and see how eager you are to renew the habit,'' Spike hissed lowly at her.
Buffy wasn't sure what to say. Before she could think of anything, Drusilla interjected. ''That one.''
Willow straightened up. ''What, this?'' She questioned, pointing to the book Drusilla had indicated. Drusilla nodded. ''Why?''
''The words are boring. You have to look at the pictures.''
''What pictures?'' Buffy asked. Willow uncertainly began flipping through the pages. Drusilla gave a laugh.
''Seven is a lucky number. Two sevens are even better!''
''Really? Willow's gone cross eyed and you're just going to pick a book and number at random?'' Xander said disbelievingly. Willow shushed him, her desperation getting the better of her.
''Page 77,'' she announced. She frowned at the page. ''It's a picture of a castle.''
''What's the page about?'' Buffy asked.
''Nothing. It's one of our monster books. I only have it out as a reference. Why-''
''No, no.'' Drusilla rocked in her chair. ''It's in the pictures. Pictures tell a better story.''
Buffy and Willow frowned at each other. ''What story then, Dru?'' Spike prompted.
Drusilla took the book from Willow. She handed it to Buffy. ''Every knight needs a castle,'' she said mischievously.
''Yeah, we're not too big on castles here in Sunny-'' Buffy stopped, looking at the picture. ''-Hang on.''
''What?'' Xander and Willow asked.
''The only castle around here would be that one they built a few years ago, for Halloween, remember? It was supposed to be a Haunted House attraction.'' Buffy raised an eyebrow at Drusilla. ''Does that castle work?''
Drusilla nodded. ''Every knight needs a castle, and every knight needs something to protect.'' She pointed to the page. ''It's in the castle.''
''Don't suppose you know what 'it' is?''
''He protects it well.''
''Great.'' Buffy tossed the book on the table. ''Well, works for me. Who wants to go to the castle?''
''Seriously? You're just going to go?'' Xander snapped his fingers. ''Like that? Cause of a picture in a book?''
''She's the Oracle. Beats trekking through the graveyard all night.''
''Which brings me to why I'm here,'' Spike said. ''You're gonna want to stop at the graveyard.''
Buffy didn't like the sound of that. ''Why?''
''Oh, you'll see.''
''Wonderful.'' Buffy got to her feet. ''We'll wait for Dawn to get home before setting out. Graveyard, then castle.''
''Mind the ducks,'' Drusilla said vaguely. She had pulled enough threads on her cuff to make a hole in her sweater. She watched her fingers as she wiggled them in the hole. ''Don't anger them.''
Buffy wasn't sure how to answer that. ''Will do, Dru,'' Spike replied, as if it were the most casual warning in the world.
Dawn entered her house. ''I'm home!'' She shouted, sliding her backpack off and kicking the door closed. ''Buff, are you-''
She stopped, taken aback at the sight of Drusilla in their living room. Though Buffy had called her to tell her about the new arrangement, Dawn was still unnerved to see the mad woman sitting on the couch, staring off into space.
''In here, Dawn,'' Buffy called from the kitchen. Dawn slowly turned from Drusilla and went through the dinning room, saying hello to Xander and Willow as she passed.
A small cloud of smoke outside let Dawn know Spike was here, smoking outside under the awning cover. She hopped for his sake he didn't leave his cigarette buds laying around again for Buffy to see. ''Hey,'' she said to Buffy and Tara, momentarily please to see them in the midst of preparing food, when she realized the time, and understood why. ''You're going on another hunt?''
''We may have a lead,'' Buffy explained. ''We're just waiting for the sun to go down.''
Dawn sat on a chair, trying not to sulk. She wanted just one night of normal dinner with her family. Though with the crazy lady in the house, that probably wasn't going to happen anyway. ''Giles and Anya happy to have their shop back?'' She asked, not quite succeeding in not sounding bitter.
''It's temporary Dawn, I promise,'' Buffy said. She poured the rice she was stirring into a bowl. ''There's a space in the basement for her. You won't even know she's here.''
Tara took out plates and cups. ''I'm just going to make sure there's space to eat on the table,'' she excused herself.
''We can just eat in here, not disrupt Will's piles,'' Buffy said.
''We can clear at least half.'' Tara exited. Rather quickly, Dawn thought.
Buffy frowned after her. She then sighed and turned to Dawn. ''You know, Giles and Jenny offered for you to be with them while Drusilla's here.''
''You're the one who says she's dangerous,'' Dawn reminded her. ''You're the one she threatened to kill.''
''Dawnie, once we get a leg up on this Green Knight stuff, we'll have a better idea of her role and what to do. I just need-''
''-For me to be patient.'' Dawn had heard the speech before. She was tired of being patient, tired of watching her sister having to risk her life on flimsy leads. But voicing that wasn't going to be helpful. She got off her stool. ''I'm going to wash up.''
''Hey.'' Dawn turned. ''We okay?''
Her first instinct was to be snarky. Reminding herself of the efforts both she and Buffy had promised to make, she nodded. ''Yeah, we're fine,'' she replied.
Buffy watched Dawn disappear. She went back to the dining room. ''You going to eat with us, Xander?'' She asked.
''Sure,'' he answered quickly, as Buffy suspected. ''You want me to stay with Dawn while you're out?''
''Please.'' Buffy grabbed the last pile of books on the table and placed them on the floor with Willow's other piles. ''Will? Tara? Anything you have to do tonight?''
''Ummm…'' Tara looked at her watch. ''I have one class later.''
''And I'll just be here-'' Willow patted the tall pile on the floor, ''-reading.''
''Should we make you an eye appointment?''
''One day, perhaps.''
Buffy nodded. ''Is Drusilla going to eat?'' Tara asked.
''One way to find out…'' Buffy saw the woman wasn't in the dinning room anymore and went to the living room. ''Drusilla, are you-'' she blinked at the empty space. ''Where'd she go?''
Xander followed her. ''She was right here-'' He faltered at the unoccupied living room. ''Um…''
''Guys,'' Buffy whined at Xander and Willow. ''I leave you alone for five minutes!''
''She was here five minutes ago!''
''Check around the house,'' Buffy suggested. Great, we lost the crazy person.
Dawn threw open her door to her room and tossed her bag on her bed. It took her a moment to realize something was off. The curtains were closed, making it darker than she was used to. She turned around to open them, only to stumble back in surprise. ''God!''
Drusilla was sitting cross legged on the window seat, watching her. ''Uh, sorry,'' Dawn fumbled. Her skin crawled with discomfort. ''I- uh, I didn't know you were in here…in my room…'' the closed curtains made her understand. ''- Because it's the darkest.'' She nodded. ''That- that would be the purple paint. Liked purple a lot as a kid.''
Drusilla didn't respond. Dawn swung her arms back and forth uncomfortably. She really didn't like being in the same room as her. ''Um, I'll just…'' she turned back to her bed. ''I have to get my books, and then…''
She let herself trail off, wanting to hurry. Buffy didn't want her to be around her. She made to go to the desk, when Drusilla held her arm out. Dawn flinched in fear until she saw what she was holding. ''Is that my doll?''
A shelf over her desk had some of her old toys from when she was younger, and Drusilla was holding one of them. A rag doll with brown yarn for hair and a polka dotted dress. She must've picked it up off the shelf to look at. ''Um, that's okay. You can look at it. I, uh, don't play with dolls much anymore. It's high school; kills the child in you.''
Drusilla lowered her arm. She looked at the doll and touched it with a reverence that puzzled Dawn.
''She has to have a name.''
Her voice was so quiet, Dawn wasn't sure she heard right. ''What?''
''What's her name?''
''Oh.'' Dawn walked slowly over, looking closer at the doll. She had to rack her brain to remember. ''Um, 'Dolly','' she said with slight embarrassment. ''I wasn't the most creative four year old and well, she is a doll.''
Drusilla stroked a stray hair out of the doll's face. ''Short for 'Dahlia'.''
Dawn had to nod in appreciation. ''That's much better than just Dolly.'' After a moment's contemplation, Dawn went over to her shelf and plucked another doll off. Hesitantly, she held it out for Drusilla to see. ''This is Cynthia. I got her when I was eight, and therefore better at picking names. I was also really obsessed with Rugrats and thought Angelica's doll was hideous. I was never into Barbies, that was Buffy's thing. She'd get really pretty ones and then not let me touch them. I hated them out of spite. Until I got tall enough to reach her shelf, that is.''
Drusilla took Cynthia with the same reverence she took the rag doll. Cynthia was not a rag doll, but a mixture of plastic and fabric, complete with a beautiful outfit and curly hair. Her eyes even opened and closed. Dawn could remember how happy she was when she got her. Cynthia had taken a beating over the years, with little Dawn dragging her everywhere, and then chucking her into toy boxes before finding her a home in the SunnyDale house. But the way Drusilla looked at her, she might've been new out of the box.
Dawn couldn't really determine Drusilla's age, kind of like how she couldn't judge Angel's and Spike's ages. What was it with vampires that they just looked…timeless? The same was of Drusilla, even though she wasn't a vampire anymore. She could've been as young as twenty or as old as thirty. No matter her age, there was something infinitely sad in the way she looked at these dolls that did not belong to her. It gave Dawn a feeling she could not describe.
Drusilla straightened Cynthia's clothes. ''…I used to have dolls,'' she said quietly.
''What happened to them?''
Her face darkened. ''I left them behind.''
Regret for her question washed over Dawn. ''Oh. Right. When you… had to run…'' Dawn shifted uncomfortably. ''Well, you can borrow these ones,'' she offered. ''Like I said, I don't use them much anymore. So you can keep them.''
She must've not expected this. Drusilla snapped her head to look at her. For the first time Dawn was looking her straight in the eye. Her eyes were wide, and in the dim light they looked alight. ''Keep?''
Dawn nodded. ''Yeah. Keep.''
Drusilla opened her mouth to speak, and then closed it again. She lowered her eyes to the two dolls in her lap, looking them over like they were precious treasures. And then Dawn understood.
They are precious treasures. Alive over 200 years, and she has nothing to her name.
Dawn made her way over to the door. She hesitated, looking back over at the woman, but she made no movement to indicate she even knew Dawn had left. Dawn finally exited the bedroom.
There was a mixture of emotions fighting in Dawn's chest, and she had no idea on how to sort through them. She was startled out of her thoughts when she heard the shouting downstairs:
''Not in the basement?''
''Did you check the porch?''
Dawn went quickly down the stairs. ''Are you looking for Drusilla?'' She asked as Buffy raced past.
Buffy stopped. ''She's upstairs?''
''Yeah, in my room.'' Dawn gestured up the stairs. ''It's the darkest, so she must've just…wandered in there.''
''I'm sorry, I'll get her out.''
''No, it's fine,'' Dawn assured her. ''I don't need my room anyway. What's in there? Just some algebra homework.''
''…That you plan on doing tomorrow night cause it's due next week?''
''If you're sure.'' Relief she knew where the woman was washed over Buffy's face. ''Thanks.''
Dawn went down another step. ''Buffy?''
Dawn tried to think of something to say, but stopped herself. ''Nothing. It's not important,'' she lied.
''Dinner's ready,'' Buffy said. She went toward the dining room.
Dawn paused a moment on the stairs. Now that they knew where Drusilla was, the voices of Xander and Willow had become lighthearted again, and the conversation turned from her completely. Dawn felt terrible aware of herself, of the fact she was standing in a lighted house, the only now setting sun streaming in through the west facing windows, and upstairs, hiding behind closed curtains, was an old woman clutching two toys who was supposedly a murderer. Dawn felt between two worlds, two distinct points of views. She felt grateful as she went toward the lively sounds of the dinning room, and could only wonder at what Drusilla felt upstairs, no doubt hearing the same noises, not apart of it at all.
Upon coming to the graveyard, Buffy thought Spike had been exaggerating about there being something wrong. It took him pointing out where they were for her to understand. ''Remember this patch of grass? Grew back a bit fast, didn't it?''
Buffy glanced around. This was where their fight with the Hartailed Dragon took place. ''It looks like nothing happened,'' Buffy replied. ''And what's that?''
Instinctively, she knew what it was, though she couldn't have described and named its purpose like Giles and Willow might be able to. It was the set up for a magical procedure, a spell of some kind, with a circle of rocks with strange carvings on them, and a compass etched into the dirt of the ground.
Buffy studied the surroundings for a moment. ''Any chance the city's just…trying out a new decoration style?''
''Sure.'' Spike ran his finger along one of the rock's markings. ''Pagan styles. Very popular nowadays.''
Buffy sighed. She scratched her head. ''I'll tell Will about this tomorrow,'' she said. ''One thing at a time. Ready to head for the castle?''
''Lead the way.''
They set off. The castle had been built two, maybe three years ago as a Halloween attraction. Given her Halloween events since moving to Sunnydale, Buffy hadn't had a chance to see it. She was pretty sure it had not been a hit, and had been sitting unused at the edge of the field it had been constructed in, waiting to be torn down. She wasn't sure what to expect upon checking it out. It would be a little tacky for the Green Knight to be keeping anything in a playhouse castle, simply because it was called a castle. Thought if it gave them any headway in this whole ordeal, she wasn't about to complain.
They met Angel at the field, a few yards from the castle entrance. He was staring up at the building, disgust on his face. ''Okay, how many creatures have had parties in this thing since it was built?'' He asked of Spike as soon as they approached.
Spike blinked innocently. ''What makes you think I know?''
''Vamps have been having parties in there?'' Buffy asked. ''Is that why it never got any real business?''
''Vamps, demons, probably a few werewolves too.'' Angel narrowed his eyes at Spike. ''Be honest. Have you been here before?''
''I've never exactly been on other creatures VIP list,'' Spike reminded him. ''Especially with my new lifestyle.''
Angel didn't look like he believed him, but turned back to the castle entrance. ''We should probably go in the back,'' he said to Buffy. ''There's been some damage to the front hall, debris in the way. If anyone been's going in or out, they'd have to do it from the back.''
''Unless this Green Knight guy isn't humanoid,'' Buffy suggested. ''If he's ghost like, it won't make a difference to him. But for us…'' She led the way to the back of the structure.
Anya peered over Willow's shoulder. ''That's a nice notebook you got there,'' she complemented.
Willow raised her eyes from her computer screen. ''Um…thanks?''
''Take it from me: hide it.''
''Anya,'' Xander said warningly, ''let it go, please.''
''I'm just saying.''
''You got her away from the merchandise, so why are you trying to stir up trouble?'' Willow asked.
''I'm not,'' Anya protested. ''I'm just warning you to be careful of your belongings around the crazy person.''
''I have to leave now,'' Tara announced, coming down the stairs into the living room. ''You guys all going to get along while I'm gone?''
''We will certainly endeavor to,'' Willow replied sweetly.
''Good.'' Tara went to the door. ''See you later.''
''Bye.'' Tara exited, and they all continued their activities of research and cartoon watching.
''Speaking of the crazy person,'' Anya said, glancing up the stairs, ''is she still up there?''
''Yeah,'' Dawn replied. ''She's just…sitting there.''
''Anyone as apprehensive about this situation as me?'' Xander asked cheerily. ''I mean, aren't we just waiting for the other shoe to drop at this point?''
''She's the Oracle,'' Willow reminded him, scrolling on her computer. ''As the Challenger, Buffy needs her.''
''What were those other Challengers like? I mean, they weren't Slayers, right? So I think our Buff already has a better chance than them.''
''And she has an even better chance with the Oracle.''
''You don't really think working with her is a good idea, do you?''
Willow sighed. She guilty raised her head. ''…No.''
''Good.'' Xander leaned back against the couch. ''Then we haven't all lost out minds.''
''What would be really crazy is if Angel actually turns her back into a vampire,'' Anya interjected. ''That would be the most stupid move we could make.''
''If he goes back on his word, then Drusilla kills Buffy,'' Dawn reminded her. ''You want her to come after my sister?''
''Buffy can take care of herself.''
''You want us to lie to her. That's not fair. Or very hero-y.''
''You don't understand, Dawn,'' Xander said. ''Drusilla is insane. Back in the day, she raised a big monster just for fun. There's no telling what she'll do.''
''Spike and Angel did it with her,'' Dawn reminded him.
''Yes, which believe me, doesn't give them any brownie points. But Angel has a soul, and Spike's on a leash. Crazy person up there doesn't have anything. Though a leash wouldn't be completely out of the question.''
''Umm….'' Dawn looked worried. She peered past Xander, Anya, and Willow, who all had their back to the stairs. ''Guys…''
''-The point is, Dawn, trust us when we say, Drusilla can't be trusted. Not only because of her great desire to go back to being undead, but because she is a nut job.''
''Guys!'' Dawn shouted, demanding their attention. ''The non-leashed nut job just walked out the door.''
They all turned sharply. The front door was open, swinging on it's hinges. ''Oh, great,'' Xander moaned.
Getting into the castle was easy. As Angel suspected, clearly creatures of some kind had made this place a party gathering of sorts. There were beer cans, vials of blood, and bones Buffy was choosing to believe were animal bones. Not exactly stuff you would expect to see left behind by ordinary rebellious teenagers.
Other changes were made to the inside of the castle as well. The carpets were torn up, the cheesy pop-up attractions were ripped from their cases, and judging by the black stuffed animals scattered around and the occasional flapping of wings and screeches, the toy bats had been replaced with actual real live bats. No wonder the place had been closed. ''So, we're looking for something out of the ordinary,'' Buffy mused. ''Real life ordinary, creature ordinary, or somewhere in-between?''
''In-between I would think,'' Angel replied. He brushed a cobweb out of his way. ''What did Drusilla say? He was hiding something here?''
'' 'He keeps it well','' Buffy remembered. ''A knight has to protect something… other nonsense like that.''
''Nonsense is it? Then why are we here?'' Spike muttered. He paused at a door. ''This one's locked.''
''Something they didn't break into?'' Buffy came over and tried the door. It was wooden with decorative metal plates imbedded into it. ''Hmm, pretty and put together in a decrepit building…yep, we should try here. Probably a dragon or something in the basement.''
''Aren't you the one always going on about jinxes?'' Angel asked.
Buffy shoved on the door. ''I've embraced it now.''
After a few more shoves and kicks, the door splintered and finally fit into its surroundings. As she suspected, the steps behind the door led down. Next to her, Spike gave a mock growl. ''Oh, shut up.''
They descended slowly, the light coming from the bottom just enough to illuminate their way. The steps were shallow, made of stone, and lead them in a circular pattern down to the basement. Buffy knew they got to the bottom when her foot stepped into an inch of water. ''Great. These were new!''
She walked further into the room as the boys behind her caught up. They seemed to be in a dungeon like area, a hallway ahead of them leading into what looked like rows of cells. Buffy wondered what the original contractors were thinking, constructing this for kids. ''No dragon so far.''
''Well, the night's still young.'' Angel narrowed his eyes down the hall. ''Why is the light… blue?''
''Sekli,'' Spike said, bending down to the water. He cupped a handful of water, and Buffy could see the sparkles of blue in his hands. ''Water demons. Harmless, unless you got some nickels in your pocket.''
''I don't have the mental bandwidth to even try to understand why.'' Buffy glanced at the water around them, and could now see the specks of the Sekli, floating amongst them. ''So why are they here? Do they contract themselves out to the Green Knight, too?''
''No, this is just their habitat.'' Spike poured the water back onto the floor. He flicked his hands dry. ''They like the dark, the damp, and…''
Buffy waited. ''What?''
''Well, chaos.'' Spike followed Angel's gaze up the hall. ''Which means you may just get your dragon.''
With great care, they began walking down the hallway, in-between the rows of cells that lined this dungeon. Their feet sloshed in the water, the Sekli around them grew denser, shining their blue light brighter. Whatever chaos was attracting them to this place was close by.
They were just turning the corner, about to walk down another hallway, when Angel stepped on it. It was all Buffy could describe it as in the moment, because the blue Sekli light wasn't enough to illuminate the dark feathered fiend.
''Caw! Caw!'' The creature squeaked, rising out of the water and tripping Angel. Spike and Buffy lunged to get out of its way, and something hot brushed past Buffy's face. Great, it breathed fire? Why did all these monsters lately love to breathe fire?
Angel rushed to his feet, spitting out water. ''What the hell is that?'' He shouted. The creature's loud call was echoing in the chamber.
''I don't know, but you've pissed it off!'' Spike yelled back. Buffy drew her knife.
''Just stab it-''
She ducked just in time as another creature swooped over her head. It was identical to the other one from the little she could see; large, dark feathers, and breathing spurts of fire in their general direction. From down the corridor, echos of more creatures heading their way could be heard. ''-Or run,'' Buffy amended. ''Running's also good.''
They tore back they way they came, trying to fight the creatures in the dim light. The Sekli- chaos loving though they were- did not like the fact they were trampling on them in the water, or the fire that kept sizzling out in their water, and were suddenly nowhere to be seen, making the tunnel very, very dark.
Buffy almost fell on her face when she reached the first shallow step. She hurried up, the boys behind her, and nearly fell again when she turned the corner and barreled into someone. ''Ow!''
Drusilla grabbed her arms to keep her from falling back. ''You've angered the ducks,'' she informed her. ''I said not to anger the ducks.''
''Yeah, well, they started it.''
''Duck!'' Angel yelled behind them.
Everyone complied as two of the birds came sweeping over them, flying above them on the stairs. Drusilla and Buffy ran up, heads down, trying to get past them.
Drusilla reached up and grabbed one bird's leg. ''Spike!'' She threw it down, and Spike held his knife in a way that the bird impaled itself on it. It disintegrated into a pile of feathers and ashes.
They made it back to the top of the stairs, shoving the broken door closed as best they could, and piling any loose debris on top of it. ''Okay, so that didn't work,'' Buffy finished lamely.
Drusilla was shaking her head at them. ''A knight wouldn't keep treasure in the dungeons,'' she chided. ''He keeps it in a tower, up high, where people can't get it.''
''Not protected by anymore ducks, is it?'' Spike asked.
''How did you get here?'' Angel asked. ''And why?''
Spike sniffed. ''To tell you lot where to look?''
Drusilla glanced at Angel. Buffy couldn't decipher her expression. ''You angered the ducks,'' she reminded him. ''What if they killed you?'' She gestured to Buffy. ''I can't kill her if ducks kill her.''
Angel didn't seem to like that answer. ''It's sound logic,'' Buffy interjected before he could. They were wasting time. ''Do you know which tower, Drusilla?''
She didn't answer for a moment. Buffy thought maybe she'd gotten distracted by something when she shook her head, and turned to the hall on their left. ''This way,'' she said.
The rest of the castle was as decrepit as the small portion they had already seen. They trudged on in silence, Buffy painfully aware of the uncomfortable combination of her and the three…what should she call them? Ex Best-Murder-Buddies? Broken Family? The situation was too weird to even put a name to. She understood a bit better why Angel had left town earlier.
Drusilla led them to the foremost tower. As they walked up the spiral staircase, Buffy could peer out the window and see the spot she and Spike had caught up to Angel at. How Drusilla knew exactly where to go, Buffy didn't know. She tired to convince herself it was because of her Oracle-y ness, and not let her mind wander to what-if situations where the insane former vamp turned on them. It wasn't likely, though her strained nerves believed otherwise.
''That's not nice,'' Buffy heard Drusilla mutter in front of her. ''Try to get along and yet no one wants to.''
Buffy blinked. ''Huh?''
''Can't help someone if they don't trust you.'' Drusilla looked thoughtful. ''You said that before, didn't you?''
''What are you talking about?''
''People used to trust me. Now they're dead. Hmmm, maybe you're right. No trust for me.''
''Not exactly boosting my confidence here, Drusilla.''
The woman shrugged, as if this was something she could not help. They reached the top of the tower. ''Still hoping for that dragon?'' Spike asked, hand on the door.
Buffy glared wearily at him. ''Open the damn door, Spike.''
He complied, and they all walked out into the open top of the tower.
The night air was refreshing. Buffy hadn't realized just how stale the air of both the castle and basement had been. The night sky sparkled above them, and the stone floor of the top of the tower stretched before them, bare except for one elevated step, probably meant to be a look out spot with a telescope for kids.
''Now where would I hide?'' Buffy muttered in a sing-song way. That look out spot was the only thing to search in sight. ''Careful where you walk. Who knows in what shape this place is in…''
She approached the structure, the boys behind her a few steps, fanning out to look around. Drusilla meandered over to the wall. ''Hey, watch the edge,'' Buffy snapped at her.
Drusilla peered down. '' 'Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall…' ''
Buffy rolled her eyes. She reached the step, and stepped inside. Nothing remarkable caught her eye. It was basically the outline of another room, atop the tower they were already on. The stone was the same, perhaps just a bit darker. Maybe there was a loose brick or something?
She started half-heartedly running her hands along the stones. ''I don't see anything so far,'' she informed the others.
''Something must be there,'' Spike commented.
''Why? Because your ex said so?''
''No, because they don't seem to want you to find it.'' He pointed over the wall.
Buffy sprang up and could see monsters similar to the ones she and Angel had fought the other day climbing over the wall. Spike was already throwing them back over, much to Drusilla's delight. ''Can't put Humpty back together again!'' She cheered, clapping her hands.
Buffy remembered the door. It was still open, and more monsters were swarming through. ''Angel!''
He was already there, and she hurried to join him. These monsters were different. Their bodies were human like, though Buffy had the sneaking suspicion their navy-blue jumpsuits that were zipped over their faces weren't really jumpsuits, but skin. She clashed with one as Angel kicked the door closed to keep more from coming through. There were about a dozen or so they still had to deal with.
The height of the tower was perfect for killing monsters on the ground upon impact, which was really the only thing going for them at this point. These creatures had the same strange strength and energy to them as the ones they had been fighting in town, but Buffy sensed another aspect to these ones, a certain urgency.
A shout to her left made Buffy remember of the four of them, one of them was at a greater disadvantage. She turned. ''Drusilla!''
Considering she was human and had no weapons, Drusilla was doing well. One of the jumpsuit things had charged at her, causing her to smack her head into the stone. She retaliated by kicking it and grabbing it by the arms, tossing it over the wall. ''Go die,'' she ordered.
Buffy's attention was taken back to her own fight. She stabbed another of the creatures before making a decision. ''You good here?'' She asked Angel.
Angel's vampire face look strained. ''Will it pay off if I am?''
''Then sure, I'm good.''
''Be right back.'' Buffy turned on her heel and ran back to the structure.
She slid to the floor, focusing on the bricks. Okay, if something were really hidden here, then these creatures probably wanted it too. He protects it well. So, if they found it, then maybe these things would give up? At the very least we can make a dignified retreat.
''Not there.'' Buffy looked up. Drusilla was leaning over the short wall, looking down at her. Blood was dripping from her temple, but she didn't seem to be bothered by this. ''It's not there.''
''Well, Oh Mighty Oracle, mind telling me where it is?''
''You.'' Drusilla pointed to the floor. ''Underneath. Like buried treasure.''
Buffy frowned. She skirted to her knees and peered at the brick. It didn't look any different, but in the faint light she could see the tiniest outline of a figure, a marking of some kind. ''Okay, I'll admit it didn't occur to me to look down.''
''Well, now you did,'' Drusilla said encouragingly.
''Yeah…'' The shouts from Angel and Spike still fighting reached her ears. Buffy pried at the brick with the marking, ignoring the nagging feeling she had seen a smilier outline not too long ago. The brick came loose and she pulled it out. ''Well?''
Drusilla reached down and pulled the object out. It was golden, a small pendant of some kind. ''Pretty,'' Drusilla commented.
''Thank god for that.'' Buffy hurried to her feet. They could study it later. ''Let's get out of here.''
Drusilla snapped her head up and looked past Buffy. ''Left!''
''Wait, my left or your left?''
''Does it matter?''
''Does it-'' Buffy thrust both arms out, hitting in both directions to be safe. The monster to her right fell back in pain. She jumped out of the structure. ''C'mon!''
They ran to the door where Spike had joined Angel in fighting. ''Is this the payoff?'' Angel questioned.
''Yeah, now we leave.''
''How do you propose we do that?''
''The door's right there,'' Drusilla reminded him.
''The hallway's a bit full, Dru,'' Spike informed her.
Drusilla shook her head. ''You go first, you go left, and you go right,'' she explained, pointing to Buffy, Angel, and Spike respectively. ''They'll claw up, but won't expect you to hit down.''
''And how do you know that?'' Angel snapped.
Drusilla pouted. ''What's the point of being the Oracle if no one listens to you?''
''Fine, we'll try it your way,'' Buffy agreed.
Spike chuckled. ''Drusilla two, Angelus zero,'' he hissed in Angel's ear.
Buffy ignored the bickering. She took the pendant from Drusilla and tucked it in her pocket. ''Okay, ready?'' She asked, hand on the door. ''One, two-''
She opened it and they ran down. Surprisingly, Drusilla's strategy worked. The monster's seemed more interested in getting to the top than them, hopefully blissfully unaware they had already stolen the magical object. They fought their way down, soon out of the castle and back to the field, running through it and away from the place. ''Does sunrise end them?'' Spike asked once they slowed their pace.
Buffy nodded. ''So far.''
''Did you find anything?'' Angel asked her.
Buffy placed her hand on her pocket. She could feel the cold metal through the fabric. ''Not here,'' she said.
It was late when they finally made it home. Only Anya and Dawn were there, and upon their return Anya took on the chore of finding Willow and Xander, who had gone to look for Drusilla. ''You could've said where you were going,'' she snapped at Drusilla.
Drusilla blinked at her. ''If Xander wore a leash, you could find him easier,'' she suggested. Buffy didn't understand the comment, but Anya bristled at it before leaving.
After assuring her sister she was okay and sending her to bed, Buffy let out a weary sigh, allowing herself to feel her injuries. God, she was tired. ''Okay,'' she said as she as she took the ice tray out of the freezer and laid it on the counter in front of Drusilla, who was sat on a stool. ''As much as we appreciate the help, you do remember you're human now, right? You don't heal like we do. You get things like- well, like that.''
Drusilla followed Buffy's gaze to her hands. Her fingers were a twisted mess. Before Buffy could say anything more, Drusilla calmly held her hand in front of her, and with the pincher fingers on her opposite hand, snapped one of her finger bones back into place. Buffy could hear the click. ''Oh, yuck… I can't believe you just did that…''
Drusilla prepared to do another one. ''Okay, moving away from you now…'' She handed her an ice cube. ''That'll numb it. Goodbye.'' She walked around the counter, but not before she heard another sicking click.
''You said these markings were in the graveyard?'' Angel asked, studying the object they had found. It was a gold compass, small and on a chain like a necklace, with markings on the back.
''Just appeared there,'' Spike said, glancing over. ''Must be markings for some sort of spell.''
''I'll show both Willow and Giles tomorrow,'' Buffy said, taking the compass back. The arrow spun as she turned it over in her hands. ''Hopefully it's finally a new lead.''
''Something to look forward to, then.'' Spike hopped off the counter top. ''I'm off. Goodnight.''
''Don't suppose you'd help Anya find Willow and Xander?''
''I liked Dru's leash idea.''
''Goodnight.'' Buffy glared as Spike waved sarcastically and exited through the back door.
Buffy placed the compass down on the counter before looking to Angel, who was staring at Drusilla. She followed his gaze and realized Drusilla was tracing her fingers in the water from the melting ice cube. ''You leaving, too?''
Angel looked lost in thought. He shook himself. ''Uh, yeah. Should go before sunrise.''
He didn't move. Buffy poked his arm. ''C'mon. Walk you out.''
They went to the front door. No need for him to met Spike in the road. She followed him out to the porch and closed the door behind her, arms crossed. Angel hesitated on the step, and Buffy had the distinct feeling something was laying between them that needed to be said, but she had no idea what it was, and could only conclude it was him who had to say something, not her. She waited to hear it.
Angel dug his heel in the step. ''I know you think I'm not being honest with you,'' he said, ''but the truth is, this whole situation is just…it's weird.''
''I know that.''
''No, you don't.'' He met her gaze, eyes pained. ''Being on the same side as Spike and Drusilla…that's not a good thing, because in the past us being on the same side meant bad things were happening, bad things we were doing.''
''You think we're doing something bad here? Stopping this Green Knight?''
''I think this whole situation is going to go wrong.''
''Because of Spike and Drusilla?''
''Because we are not a good team. We can't trust each other.''
''Do you think I'm stupid? I know trust isn't exactly thriving around here. Ironically enough, the person I can trust the most is Spike, and boy does that pain me to say.'' Buffy threw her hands in the air. ''Angel, like it or not, this is happening. The Green Knight is coming, bringing some weird ass monsters with him, making life sucky, and I'm the Challenger and Drusilla's the Oracle. This is where we're at, so if you don't want to help, then just go back to LA.''
''I want to help.''
''Then stop…moping. I get things are weird for you, but if you aren't going to talk about it then I can't help you, and honestly, kinda have enough to deal with at the moment. So if you want to help, stop…this.'' She gestured to him. ''And embrace the suckiness with the rest of us.''
She had the sneaking suspicion she wasn't being completely fair, but she hoped he would point this out, argue his point, and finally say whatever it is he wanted to say. But instead he said nothing, nodded goodnight, and went on his way. Buffy watched him disappear with anger.
She marched back in the house, only just remembering not to slam the door least she wake Dawn. Drusilla watched her as she entered the kitchen. ''Lover's quarrel,'' She hummed, resuming her water drawing activity. ''It's always because one person doesn't know what they are quarreling about.''
''Oh, you got insight into this instance too, seer?'' Buffy spat.
Drusilla didn't seem to hear the mocking tone. ''It took three months for him to admit he had a soul,'' she said. ''He's very slow.''
''Yeah, well, I don't have that kind of time.'' Buffy snatched up the compass from where she left it, palming it in her hand. She had to put it somewhere she'd remember to take it to the Magic Shop tomorrow. ''At one time, I would've cared, but not anymore. I've lost my patience.''
''You're not who you were,'' Drusilla summed up. She plucked another ice cube out of the tray and watched the water pool in her hand. ''I know the feeling.''
Buffy ran the compass chain over her hand, focusing on the cool metal rather than Drusilla's statement. She finally placed the compass back in her pocket before returning the ice cube tray to the freezer, before anymore water ended up on her counter tops.
Story Page Count: 66
Me: Again, most of this was written (as well as most of the next chapter), but a few scenes just wouldn't come. I'm happy with it now. If you enjoyed, please leave a review!