Chapter 6: The Only Light I Know
“I love the handful of the earth you are./Because of its meadows, vase as a planet,/I have no other star. You are my replica/of the multiplying universe./Your wide eyes are the only light I know/from extinguished constellations;/your skin throbs like the streak/of a meteor through rain./Your hips were that much of the moon for me;/your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;/your heart, fiery with its long red rays,/was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade./So I pass across your burning form, kissing/you—compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.” ~Pablo Neruda, “Sonnet VI”
Dawn took a deep breath, knowing that she was about ready to get reamed. She knocked, and the nervous smile on her face died when she saw Geoffrey. He looked really worried. “I thought you just got back from a retreat,” she blurted out. “Aren’t you supposed to be relaxed?”
“I did, and I was,” he responded, his proper British accent clipped. “But I’m missing two Slayers. They didn’t check in last night, and I’ve been trying to reach their parents and classmates.” He gave her a sharp look. “What are you doing here? Is something wrong with Buffy?”
Dawn spared a moment to wonder why it was always about Buffy. She was definitely going to make sure that the next guy she had a crush on never met her sister. “No. Buffy’s fine. It’s—” Her heart sank as she put two and two together. “Have you called Giles yet?”
“Of course not,” Geoffrey responded irritably. “Mr. Giles wasn’t certain I could handle two Slayers. I’m hardly going to admit that everything went wrong the first time I left for a retreat. I was planning on calling your sister next. Has either contacted you?”
Dawn shook her head. She and Buffy saw Geoffrey and the two Slayers under his care on occasion, but they didn’t stay in close contact. Because both girls still lived at home with their parents in the area, there was no reason for them to get in touch with Buffy unless there was an emergency. Buffy had called them and told them not to bother hunting until they had either captured or killed Angelus.
How Angelus would have managed to find two Slayers in a city the size of Rome was anyone’s guess, particularly if they weren’t out looking for him.
“I think I might have some idea of what happened.”
Geoffrey truly focused on her for the first time, and she noted that his shirt matched the green of his eyes. It really wasn’t fair that he was so hot. “What’s going on, Dawn?”
“Can I sit down?” He waved her to one of his mismatched, beat-up leather chairs, and Dawn sank down into the brown one, leaving the mustard yellow one for Geoffrey. “I opened a portal.”
He’d been told about her background as the Key, so there was no concern about giving him too much information, the way there had been with Lucia. “Why?”
At least he assumed she had a reason. “I wanted to find Spike.”
“From another dimension, I assume?”
“Yeah. And I did find him, and he came through no problem. The only problem is that Angelus came through, too.”
Geoffrey looked puzzled for a moment until the light dawned. “Angelus? Are you stupid?”
“I didn’t mean to!” Dawn protested. “You’ve seen Buffy over the last few months since she found out that Spike had been alive. I just wanted her to be happy.”
The Watcher took a deep, audible breath, and Dawn could tell that he was trying to calm himself. “You had no idea what you were going to bring out.”
“I did the research, Geoff.” Dawn wanted him to understand “It was a fluke that anything else came through, and yes, it was my fault. That’s why I want to fix it.”
Geoffrey fixed her with a hard stare that Dawn met fearlessly. Maybe she’d screwed up, but she faced her mistakes head-on, and she helped to clean up the mess.
And that was more than some people she knew.
“Fair enough,” he finally said, running a hand through his light brown hair. “What was it that you had in mind?”
Willow had been woken from her nap by a large thump from the direction of Buffy’s bedroom. It wasn’t hard to figure out what Buffy and Spike had been doing, not when Buffy watched him with longing anytime he wasn’t looking, and he did the same.
Still, she would have preferred not to have overheard their sexcapades.
A glance at the clock told her that Vi and Faith would be arriving shortly anyway, so she rose, straightening the brightly polka-dotted comforter on Dawn’s bed and fluffing up the pillows. It looked like things were going to get crowded in the apartment—just like old times.
She emerged from the room just as the knocking on the front door started. Dawn was nowhere to be seen, and Spike and Buffy were probably not ready to receive visitors, so Willow answered it. “Hey, guys.” She hugged Vi, and waved them both inside.
Willow hadn’t seen Vi since she’d moved to South America; even when she’d returned to London after her breakup with Kennedy, Vi had been elsewhere, dealing with various emergencies. Faith, however, regularly stopped through London, and Willow had seen her just a couple weeks before when she’d shown up to get her next assignment.
She glanced at Faith. “We don’t hug, do we?”
Faith shrugged. “Not really much of a hugger.” She looked around the apartment, dropping her black duffel bag unceremoniously on the floor. “Nice place.”
“That’s what I said,” Willow replied. “How was the flight? Did everything go okay?”
“We didn’t have any trouble,” Vi said. She had already put her own bag by the couch. “So yeah.” She lowered her voice. “How is Buffy?”
Willow could hear the unspoken questions—how was Spike? How was Buffy dealing with his return? Was a soulless Spike going to be a problem?”
“She’s okay. I think she’s dealing with the situation, and Spike is adjusting.”
“Is it true? Did he really come from a dimension where Buffy was dead?” Faith asked.
Willow nodded. “Buffy was never resurrected in his dimension. From what he said, he was about an inch away from being dust when Dawn opened the portal.”
“And Angelus?” Faith gave her a sharp look. “We’re going to try and put his soul back, right?”
Willow sighed. “I don’t know if we can, Faith. So far, there’s been no luck locating an Orb, and without one, we can’t do the spell.”
“Shit.” Faith paced over to the large, sunny window. “How the hell am I supposed to kill him?” she demanded.
“He’s not really Angel.” Willow knew that her assurance was probably not going to be enough. Faith and Angel had had a special bond, and killing the vampire in any incarnation was going to be hard.
Faith shook her head. “That’s not going to be good enough, Willow. If we had a little more time—”
“We don’t have time.” Buffy exited her bedroom, closing the door behind her. “I know this is hard, Faith, but this is Angelus.”
“I know how he is,” Faith shot back. “Remember? I had to deal with him in L.A.”
“And I had to face him in Sunnydale.” Buffy took a deep breath. “We’re still looking for an Orb, and we’re going to keep looking, but we can’t hold back forever. If we find him, and we can’t capture him or do the spell, there’s not going to be a choice.”
Faith pushed her thick, dark hair away from her face impatiently. “Fine. But first we try to bring him in alive.”
“Absolutely.” Buffy turned as soon as she heard her bedroom door open. “Hey.”
Spike’s lips quirked. “Want to introduce me to your friends, luv?”
Willow raised an eyebrow at the endearment. She didn’t think she’d heard Spike address her so intimately since she’d arrived, and the way Buffy flushed with pleasure indicated that she didn’t mind.
“Faith, Vi, you know Spike. Or a Spike, I guess. Spike, this is Vi and Faith,” she said, indicating each woman in turn.
Vi offered a friendly smile. “Nice to meet you.”
Faith raised a hand. “Hey.” She looked at Buffy. “I’m starving. Any chance we could eat before heading out?”
“Sure,” Buffy replied. “I think we’ve got something around here. Vi?”
“I could eat,” she said cheerfully.
“I’ll see what I can find.”
As Buffy rummaged in the fridge, something occurred to Willow. “Buffy, where’s Dawn?”
Buffy straightened. “That’s a really good question.”
Spike hadn’t been sure how Buffy would respond to him after they’d had sex—or as near to it as you could get. If someone had told him a week before that he’d be seeing the Slayer again, and that she would be giving him one of the best blow jobs in his life—
Well, he’d have called the men with nets, no question.
Buffy had finished him off and then encouraged him to go to sleep, resting her head trustingly on his shoulder. Sated as he was, covered in her scent and warmth, it had been easy to fall asleep.
He’d half-expected her to pretend that nothing had happened, but she had woken him with a kiss and suggested he shower before joining them in the living room.
It felt right, being with her, like a dream come true. Although Angelus had never made it into his dreams, for a very good reason.
Now he stood in the kitchen, sipping his mug of blood, listening as Buffy made phone call after phone call, trying to reach her sister. Dawn had apparently turned off her cell phone, including the GPS tracking.
“Okay, thanks, Giles. I appreciate it.” Buffy hung up. “He hasn’t heard from Dawn.”
“Would there be anyone else she would contact?” Willow asked. “Anyone in town?”
“I called Lucia first,” Buffy replied. “She said that she talked to Dawn earlier today, but that was it.” She frowned. “Hang on.”
Spike kept silent as she dialed another number. He could tell by the expression on her face that it rang through to voicemail. “Geoffrey, call me when you get this,” she said briefly. “The local Watcher isn’t responding,” she announced as soon as she had hung up. “I don’t like this. Dawn should have been back by now.”
The other girls glanced at the window; the sun had nearly set, and it was the best time to go hunting, just before vampires began emerging, in time to prevent them from catching breakfast.
Spike cleared his throat nervously, knowing that he might be speaking out of turn. “Buffy? Would Dawn go off on her own?”
“To do what?”
“She was the one who was responsible for Angelus showin’ up,” he pointed out. “I don’t know Dawn all that well, not here, but…”
“You’re right. Dammit!” Buffy cursed, then twisted her hair into a ponytail. “Okay, here’s the deal. Willow, how long is it going to take you to do a locator spell?”
“Probably half an hour, assuming that you have a map of Rome.” Willow frowned. “What were you thinking, Buffy?”
“Spike, stay with Willow and find out where Dawn is. I want her back here, and then I want you both out looking for Angelus.”
He frowned. “Buffy—”
“You know the score, Spike. You know where we’ve looked before, and you know how he operates.” Buffy looked him straight in the eyes. “I know I can trust you to protect Willow and Dawn.”
That was all she needed to say, and Spike wondered if she knew that, if Buffy realized how precious her trust was to him. “I’ll take care of it, luv.”
“I know you will.” Buffy took two quick steps towards him and pulled his head down for a brief kiss. “Be careful, sweetheart?”
Spike swallowed hard, unused to the endearment. “Yeah, sure.” He cleared his throat. “You, too?”
“Of course.” She patted his cheek, and in another moment, the three Slayers were gone, leaving him alone with Willow, who was watching him with an amused expression on her face.
“You got somethin’ to say to me?” he challenged.
“It’s nice to see Buffy happy,” Willow replied mildly. “I should go do that locator spell.”
Spike blinked, then felt a slow smile spread across his face. He thought he might finally be in the right place.
Giles’ new curriculum for Watchers required them to learn and be able to perform several spells, and one of those was a simple locator spell, which could generally be done with minimum power and plenty of concentration.
Dawn knew the routine by heart, because this was what she’d wanted—to be a Watcher, if she couldn’t be a Slayer. Buffy was kidding herself if she thought Dawn was going to leave this world behind.
She could open up a portal, but she could also perform a truth spell, a locator spell, and a spell to start fire. Not that Dawn was about to let onto that.
“This is going to be difficult,” Geoffrey said quietly. “If your suspicion is correct, then the Slayers are technically dead.”
Dawn frowned. “But something of them should remain, right? I know the demon inhabits the body, but it’s still that person’s body.”
“Something might remain, yes, which is why I’m doing a locator spell,” Geoffrey replied. “Now, I’ll need quiet.”
Dawn took the rebuke silently, knowing that this was technically her fault, and that there was no point in protesting.
The locator spell took place in silence, with only a brief, muttered incantation by Geoffrey. Dawn watched the spark form over the map, then fly towards the ruins of the Forum. “Do you think that’s where they are?” Dawn asked when it appeared as though the spell was over.
Geoffrey shrugged. “There’s only one way to find out.”
They both began gathering their things, including weapons. “Geoff, I’m sorry.”
He paused. “I know.”
Dawn felt the weight of her guilt crash down. If his Slayers had been killed by Angelus, it would be her fault, her responsibility.
“If you’re correct, I’ll likely be reassigned,” Geoffrey said quietly. “You should know that.”
“Because long distance relationships rarely work out.” He met her eyes, and she could see the truth there—he wasn’t sure that they would both survive, and he wanted to tell her how he felt before meeting Angelus.
Her eyes widened. “I thought—you and Buffy—”
“I have a great deal of admiration for your sister,” he confessed. “But she is rather intimidating. If I’m going to date someone, I’d prefer she not be a Slayer.” Shouldering his bag, Geoffrey grew serious again. “We should go.”
Dawn followed him out the door, thinking that there might be hope for her after all. Assuming, of course, that they both survived.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/331564.html