Living For Love - (12) Accusations and Growth
Previous Chapter Summary: Dalton met up with Constance and Dawn. Spike and Buffy were both impressed with the two new vampires. Roger Wyndham-Pryce is now the head of the Council following Travers' suspicious death.
Current Chapter Summary: The Sunnydale group gets some disturbing news from England. We flashback to after Dalton enacted justice on Quentin Travers before. Plus we see why Buffy and Dalton share a more telepathic connection now (for those that were wondering). We also find out more about those who tried to kill Wesley and Spike.
Disclaimer and Distribution notes are listed on the Index page of this story.'Single' quote marks surround thoughts in this story. "Regular" quotes are around spoken words.
"He said that?" Rupert Giles spoke with disbelief in his voice. "None of us have left Sunnydale for quite some time."
Buffy, Spike, Joyce, Faith and Wesley listened intently to Giles' side of the phone conversation. Each of them glanced around the room at the other allies sitting with them. Whoever was on the phone, it wasn't good news.
"We aren't trying to hide anything. I told you right away about Quentin and Dalton. We wanted to make sure no accusations of impropriety occurred any more than they were."
Spike growled loudly enough that it startled Wesley. Buffy rested her hand over Spike's and rubbed his knuckles. She was concerned, but she knew they only had one half of the conversation. She was certain that Giles would stand by Dalton.
"Please keep me informed Hugh, and I do appreciate the call and heads up." Giles hung up the phone, turned around, and sat on the couch next to Joyce.
Wesley and Faith were chomping at the bit to know what the phone call was about. Faith gazed in shock at the seemingly calm mated couple and Joyce. Why weren't they bombarding Giles with questions? "So? What's the what?"
Although Spike and Buffy wanted to know the answer to that question, they had experience with Giles and major revelations. Sometimes it took the Watcher a little bit to digest the news before he could share it. So, they attempted to wait as patiently as possible for a few minutes.
"Quentin Travers is dead," Giles said solemnly. He looked up at Wesley as he spoke.
"Why do I have the distinct impression that I'm not going to like what you have to say next?" Wesley questioned.
"That depends on if you believe your father will be a better Head Watcher than Quentin was or not."
Everyone else in the room stared in shock at Wesley and waited for his answer.
Buffy, Joyce and Spike knew that this would be a true test of Wesley's loyalty and how far he'd come since arriving in Sunnydale. Would Wesley abandon their cause now for a chance to reconnect with his father?
Faith worried something similar to the "Scoobies", but she also worried how this news would affect the relationship she shared with her watcher and the man behind him. They had been growing closer over the last couple weeks. They were learning each other's strengths and weaknesses both on patrol, during research, and personally. She'd seen him growing beyond the stuffy attitude that she first met. She knew if Wesley headed back to England, she'd be staying here. She didn't want to lose him.
Without knowing it, Wesley eased everyone's minds with his next words. He never even paused to contemplate his words, and that went a long way towards assuring the Scoobies that they were genuine. "Considering the fact that Mister Travers wouldn't have dared to kill me without my father's consent, this is not good news." He sighed. "Father already pulled a lot of strings within the Council. I don't believe it is a good idea for him to have all of the power and access now."
"What was all that about Dalton, Giles?" Buffy asked. If everything Wesley had already told them about his father were true, she knew they were in for trouble. She was worried about her family. Dalton was a part of that family now.
"It is being implied that foul play was involved in Quentin's death. Some have even questioned whether or not we were responsible for it."
"Wankers." Spike sat back on the couch, but inside he was anything but calm.
'They haven't taken us down yet, and we won't let them destroy our family now.' Buffy sent soothing thoughts to her Sire and Mate.
Joyce tried to be the voice of peace. She knew it probably wouldn't do any good, but maybe Roger Wyndham-Pryce would surprise them. "Perhaps we should ask Athena to speak to Roger. Once she explains everything from her perspective, maybe he will support us."
"As much as I would love that to work Dove, I don't think it will."
"It can't hurt to try. Everything worked out with Wesley and Faith so far. We have to take the high road to at least try. We have to give him the same chance Quentin, Faith and Wesley were given."
"I agree with Rupert, Joyce." It still felt strange to call the former Watcher Rupert, but they'd insisted on the informality. "My father is very firm in his beliefs on the superiority of humanity even though he himself is far from humane with actions. I doubt he will change his mind."
"Athena can warn him then, if he won't listen to her. We will have done all we could to prevent more violence and hatred."
"Mom's right about that. You know how I felt about someone being allowed into the circle, but this isn't as bad. We don't have to trust him. We are just informing him of the way things are. Either he listens or he doesn't."
"You go B, sounding all mature and grown up." Faith teased.
Over the last week Faith and Buffy patrolled a lot together. Wesley came with them most nights, and sometimes Spike joined them too. Faith continued to grow closer to her sister Slayer, and Buffy learned to trust Faith and her instincts more.
Wesley watched the camaraderie of the two women with a smile. He noticed that Spike was grinning as well. Spike caught Wesley by surprise many times since he met him. One minute he was all bluster and swagger. The next moment he would clearly see the love in Spike's eyes when he looked at his Mate and Childe, Buffy.
"Scooby meeting tonight?" Wesley both cringed at the frivolity of the name and smiled in amusement.
"Anything you say there, Scrappy," Spike teased. The new Watcher was growing on him.
"Sounds like this matter needs to go up for a vote." Joyce proclaimed.
Wesley knew when he was being baited by the vampire. So, instead of commenting, he rolled his eyes. The Council records had to be wrong about William the Bloody's human history. He hadn't asked Giles about it yet. Maybe it was time that he did.
Although Spike had more than 100 years of extra experience over Wesley, the two of them were closer in human years than Spike and Rupert.
"Dalton knows to come by tonight. I told him 8pm. It should be shadowy enough by then for him to make the mad dash down the hallway."
"That vampire is pretty crazy. Then again he's following in "daddy's" footsteps." Faith smirked.
Meanwhile the vampire in question was following up at Willy's on the murder attempt. The Sheliak demon oozed all over the booth he "sat" in across from Dalton. A black tar-like substance flowed down the creature from head to toe.
"How did you come across this information?" Dalton knew that rival demon clans would be happy to feed misleading gossip to hurt another clan. He would need to double check everything he heard today, but the Sheliak demon was brought to his attention by another demon he trusted. So, he hoped the information was accurate.
"Our lack of solid bone structure allows my clan to remain undetected in many locales. The sewers are a great hiding place because who notices a bit more liquid down there. I overheard some humans and demons discussing a hit later in the week." The Sheliak gurgled his response.
"Why didn't you contact us sooner or warn us? As far as I know, your clan hasn't broken any of the Mistress' and Master's rules. So, you should have had no reason to fear retribution or punishment."
"It wasn't clear who the exact targets were until after the attack."
"How can you be sure the two events are linked?" Dalton needed to have all of the facts straight. It sounded like the last murder attempt would not be the only one. Something else was now being planned.
"Two of the same beings were talking in my tunnel yesterday. The human discussed his disappointment with the mission's failure. The vampire informed the human that the mistake was rectified."
Dalton nodded as he listened. He jotted down several notes in his small leather-bound notebook. It was a habit left over from his human days, but it came in handy.
"The human argued that as long as the Slayers and their Watchers were alive, nothing was rectified. He said his boss had a few more things to rectify at HQ before he could come here, but heads would roll if that became necessary."
"I'd say that was a direct threat since at least once of the conspirators was a vampire from what you observed."
"The vampire got angry at that. He said that his boss was promised non-interference in Sunnydale until after the end of the school year. The human said his boss would burn the town to ash instead of letting the Slayer maintain control of it. The vampire promised to take care of the problem by month's end. After the human left, the vampire muttered something about "Wilkins" not liking any deviations in his plans."
'Wilkins? Wasn't the mayor named Wilkins?' Dalton looked around Willy's back room again. He let all of his senses guide him to reassure himself again that no one, human or demon, was nearby. "Thank you for your help. You know I have to try to verify this, but at least we now have a solid direction to look in. I will let Master and Mistress know of your assistance."
"The Greenglave Sheliak clan has been happy with how our lives have been safer and more secure since the Slayer and her Mate became Masters of the Hellmouth. We do not wish for life to change."
"We appreciate everyone who shares our goals."
"We do not agree with everything, but we can abide by the no killing rules. We will give the Slayer no reason to eradicate us as long as she stays out of our political and social structures. Those areas will not clash with her rules about the killing of humans or other peaceful demons."
Dalton nodded. "Understood." He appreciated the honesty. No one would agree to everything, but as long as they followed the unbendable rules, they would be left in peace. He watched the Sheliak leave Willy's. He had a lot to do before the Scooby meeting that night. He wanted to have some better answers for Buffy and Spike by then.
(Flashback to Several Months Ago, England)
Dalton growled as he snuck away from the Council headquarters. His anger was still in the forefront of his mind when he returned to the Coven that would transport him home.
Several of the women and men from the Coven skittered out of Dalton's way. Although they logically knew he fought for the light, he was scary in his current temperament. No one there, aside from Athena, had ever seen the vampire so lethal looking. They'd shared many hours together during the exchange of knowledge, and they'd found Dalton to be an avid academic. To see him completely feral was an eye opener.
Dried remnants of blood lingered on Dalton's lips. One of the Wiccas stepped into his path in an attempt to keep him from reaching Athena. Dalton snarled, ready to fight.
"It's all right, Westin. No harm will come to me from him." Athena's voice helped to soothe Dalton's frayed nerves more. Dalton's face finally relaxed into his human visage. "It is done?"
"Yes," Dalton growled. "Hopefully Travers will think twice before trying something like that again." He used the white cloth offered to him by the Head of the Coven to wipe his lips clean. "Is there nothing you can do to help this from happening again?"
"We have been pondering that quandary, Dalton. We believe a better protection solution is possible, but we must be in Sunnydale to enact it."
"I'm ready when you are. Although I enjoyed my time among the Coven, I hated being here when I knew they were in danger and I was powerless to help them."
"Patience, child. Your loyalty serves you well, but we need a larger contingent for the new spell. I'm waiting for two particular twin sisters to arrive. The strength of their natural blood bond will help to strengthen the protection we wish to use. All will be well soon."
When everyone returned to Sunnydale, Athena suggested a blood ward to be used as a more secure means of keeping them all safe. She warned that they had to be careful who was brought into protection because blood wards were not reversible.
"We have to what?" Xander gasped in shock. He was all for finding a way to keep the Council out of their homes, but he was worried about any spell that included the sharing of blood. "Won't that turn us into vampires since Buffy is a vampire? No offense guys, but I still like my trips to the beach."
"To be fully changed, you need to be near death and consume more than a mouthful or two of vampiric blood." Giles tried to eace the young man's concerns. He was a bit taken back by Athena's suggestion, but he was able to see the merits in the plan.
"I'm assuming an injection of Buffy's blood wouldn't work because of the intent involved by both parties?" Willow had already learned a lot from the Coven members in Sunnydale. Magic involved a lot more than herbs and chanted words. The same spell, spoken by 2 people with different reasons, could have drastic variations in the end result.
"Yes, my little red Wicca. The agreement and acceptance between both parties is a key to making this work. The spell tries to seek out the intent of the individual being brought in, but it is not 100% accurate."
"Would a barrier or cloaking spell around the area work to keep prying eyes away?" Giles' mind went over various ones that could be used.
"Yes, and we don't need to repeat it at each place. The spell is to create the ward itself. Any human or demon that is accepted will be linked to the personalized ward that can be used on more than one residence. Buffy will only need to remember an attachment phrase for a new building that needs to be protected."
"That will come in handy when we get a place of our own, love."
"Buffy and magical chanting aren't completely mixy, but I'm all for anything that will prevent that disaster from happening again." Buffy hugged Spike tightly. A week later and she was still petrified that this was all a dream and the Council had killed Spike.
"There are sometimes side effects from the blood sharing that the ward requires." Athena didn't want the Sunnydale group to change their minds, but it was her duty to inform them of every possibility she knew of.
"Like what?" Xander was the first one to ask the question on all of their minds.
"They vary depending on how close your connection is with the source, in this case Buffy. Some have experienced an emotional intuitiveness with the source. Others have formed a varying degree of telepathy with the source."
There were several looks of concern on the members around Athena. Some of them worried that nothing would happen after the sharing, reaffirming their insecurities that they weren't as special to Buffy as she was to them.
"It does not mean you are closer or farther away from the source if you don't have something happen during the sharing." Athena could sense the doubts in those around you. "Every human and demon is different. Some have natural blocks to magical interference. Others already have some sort of bond that you might not have even realized you have. For some others it is just that the small amount of blood shared is not enough to activate their traits."
Dalton stepped forward first. "I'll do anything to protect Master Spike and Mistress Buffy or keep them from being more vulnerable. I'm willing to join any bond or ward you feel we need."
Buffy and Spike smiled on one side of Dalton while Joyce and Giles smiled proudly on the other. Willow and Xander inhaled and exhaled deeply before they too nodded to Athena. "Count us in."
(On Another Plane of Existence in the Present)
"They aren't going to like this, Antoinette."
"It's not our decision to make, Charmand."
"Hell, I don't like it either. Hasn't he caused enough problems? Why would they send him back?"
"He's needed for what is to come."
"No one needs his sorry arse for anything."
"Some things never change my love."
"I'm not going to be the one to tell them."
"I don't think either of us are. Sometimes the Powers That Be have a twisted sense of humor."
Charmand chuckled. "That is an understatement. I'm surprised you freely admit it though."
"Well you have to be right about something at least once a century." Antoinette winked at her Mate.
(To Be Continued)