harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote in spanderverse,
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Preludes, final chapter of 8

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

POV: Shifts Perspective

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.

Notes: Sixth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Confusion of Three”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

Thanks to the authors of Fanfiction, wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read.

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Preludes:

Ch 8- Escapes

 

“Ah, Buffy. Your mother?” Giles greeted the Slayer, Willow and Tara as they headed into the Magic Box. Buffy glanced around to notice that Anya and Xander were also there and were currently giving her the same concerned looks as was her Watcher.

 

“No news, guys. But they are releasing her this afternoon, so you know; I’m trying not to be Ms. Worry-Wart.”

 

“I’m sure things are fine,” Tara said, “I’m sure they wouldn’t release her so soon if they’d found anything.”

 

Buffy gave Tara a small smile. The Wiccan may have a shy streak a mile wide, and Buffy didn’t always really get what her and Willow were finding in each other. But if there was one thing she could give the witch, it was that she was one of the most sympathetic people Buffy knew. She’d been trying her darndest over the last thirty minutes to raise her friend’s spirits, and Buffy really was grateful to her. Nothing could take the worry away however, except the doctor’s eventual prognosis.

 

“The place looks amazing, Giles!” Willow immediately began running her eyes along the powder’s shelf and Buffy could clearly see her mentally making a shopping list. Tara soon joined her girlfriend with a small pad of paper and a pen.

 

“And I think you’ll find my prices are very competitive, while giving us a healthy profit,” Anya directed to the two women.

 

Buffy had left behind her friends to their merchandise hunting and joined Giles when he returned to Xander’s side. The two of them were looking at her with undisguised anticipation on their faces. She was both curious and a little afraid. Obviously, they’d been up to something.

 

“Okay, you two. I recognize plotting when I see it.”

 

“T-there’s no plotting, I assure you. Xander and I have just been very busy preparing a small surprise for you, that’s all.” Giles wrapped an arm around her shoulder and herded her toward the back storage room. Xander joined them on her other side, smiling widely.

 

As Buffy entered the formerly dark and dank room, she was caught by surprise. The room looked entirely different. Gone were the moldy cardboard boxes and the five inches of dust. Gone were the cobwebs and the half a dozen old paint cans against the walls. The room had been transformed.

 

She looked wide-eyed at the pommel horses, the suspended punching bag and the padded mats stacked against one wall. The hard wood floor gleamed in the light. Set in the rear of the room were two different balance beams of differing widths. The center of the room held a kickboxing dummy and her boyfriend, perspiring lightly as he smiled at her from before the exercise figure.

 

“Isn’t this amazing, Buffy? Xander, you’ve really outdone yourself in here.”

 

“Riley? What are you doing here?” Buffy said, before adding, “Not that I’m not always thrilled to see you when you’re wearing sexy boxing shorts.”

 

“Just trying out some of the new equipment. I cannot believe how this room looks. When in the heck did you guys do all this? And why didn’t you ask for some help?”

 

He walked over and put an arm around Buffy, kissing her atop her head. She was still looking around at the walls, one of which contained a variety of weapons hung with care. As she pulled out of his hold, she grabbed Xander in a bear hug.

 

“Thanks, Xan. This is so great.”

 

“So, you’re trying to squeeze the life outta me?” Xander laughed.

 

Giles answered Riley’s question. “W-we, err, rather Xander has been working quite hard almost since I knew for certain the loan would come through. With Buffy wanting to practice her Slayer skills more intently lately, I thought she should have some space to, uh, work in.”

 

“This is fantastic,” Buffy gushed. “I wish I could use everything right now, but I promised Dawn I’d pick her up at school during her lunch period. She threatened to irritate me even more than she already does if I go get mom without her.” Buffy rolled her eyes; as if Dawn could get any more annoying.

 

“Give me ten and I can come with you,” Riley offered.

 

“Oh, thanks honey. Really. But, this is sorta a sister’s deal. I figured I’d treat them to lunch, then spend a few hours with mom doing girl-stuff. We could have dinner tonight, though?”

 

“Oh, yeah, sure. I understand. You should spend a little time with just the Summers gals. I’ll call you later. If Joyce is well then I’ll take you up on that dinner thing.”

 

As he leaned down and kissed Buffy quickly, Xander was the only one to catch the look of disappointment on his face. He wondered if Buffy would get a clue before it was too late. Much as he didn’t want to, he could see a break up for the two on the horizon if she kept pushing Riley away. He just wished he knew if he should mention it to her or not. After all, it wasn’t like she didn’t have more pressing worries on her mind right now.

 

As Buffy made her way out of the shop, Willow and Tara were apparently still making lists of items they wanted. She snickered as Tara shared a beleaguered look with her; shaking her hand as if it were cramping. The three girls shared good-byes with each other and Buffy waved to Anya, now playing with the register. She apparently was ringing up pretend sales, re-closing the register and then doing another ‘transaction’. She had a goofy smile on her face the whole time and Buffy wondered briefly just how many Vicodin she’d popped that morning.

 

“Y’know Willow,” Tara said in a low voice after Buffy had gone, “I was thinking, um, just an idea. Well, I was wondering if maybe Giles would allow me to do some palm readings or maybe a Tarot deck sometimes in the store. We could always use a little extra money for supplies or classes, and I’ve just about spent all of my grant money for the semester already.”

 

“Yeah, we have been overdoing the ordering pizza in thing lately. I think it’s a great idea. I know Giles will say yes. You want me to ask him about it?”

 

“No! I mean, he’s so busy and uh, with Joyce and everything. He just has a lot on his plate between the store and Buffy. But maybe when things slow down a little….”

 

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Convent of St. Lucia, Verona, Italy

 

Brothers Benes and Krejci were ushered into the nunnery, though clearly it was with great reluctance by the young Sister Adelina. Without a word, she led the two men into a small dining room, whose only light came from a fireplace now lit to fight the chill in the air. If the men didn’t know better, they would have thought they’d been transported in time to the middle ages. The Sisters of St. Lucia practiced a rather… minimalist… lifestyle. The convent building itself used to be a fortress during the Crusades and little had been done to make it more hospitable since the nunnery had opened in 1700.

 

The two exhausted men sat on the rough-hewn wood benches they were directed to. In short order another young woman, this one a novitiate judging from her uniform, placed two bowls of hot soup on the small table before the men. To this was added a kettle of hot tea and two dainty porcelain cups. Not a word was spoken by the young woman; in fact, she even refused to meet the men’s eyes. It did not escape their attention that the dishes rattled as she set them in place, however. It was obvious that the Sisters had somehow been informed of the assault on their ally’s stronghold and no doubt feared that the two monks would lead the Beast right to them.

 

Brother Krejci coughed harshly and tried to sip his soup. He was sick with fever and flu. The Brothers had traveled far through Austria and Northern Italy, mostly on foot for they had no money between them. It hadn’t helped that in their panicked flight from the monastery, they’d left behind any documents that identified them. They’d had to sneak over the borders to reach Verona.

 

The heavy door opened and a middle aged woman entered wearing a dark blue habit. Her hair was covered by a black head scarf and she worried at the rosary she wore at her hip.

 

“Brothers,” she bowed her head before joining them at the table. “I am Reverend Sister Loretta. I’m sorry, I do not speak Czech. I hope you can understand my English.”

 

Brother Krejci could only continue to sip tea in between his bouts of coughing, but Benes answered for them both. “I am Benes, my companion Krejci. We are most grateful for your hospitality,” he said formally.

 

“Please, there is no time for formalities. We know the Beast roams and that the monastery at Brno has fallen. I am saddened for your losses. The Mother sensed Abbot Samuele’s….”

 

“Many have fallen to the Beast,” Benes said sadly, “I believe we may be all that exists of our Order now. We must talk to your Mother.”

 

“Not possible right now. Please eat, you are exhausted. The Mother has been chanting from sundown until sunup every day since she felt what had happened. She is blinding the Beast’s soothsayer’s sight, hoping to keep our location secret. If that fails, we may be able to drive her off with the Dagon Sphere, though that is uncertain.”

 

You have the sphere?! Why was it not given to us to help guard the Key?” At Benes’ outburst, even Krejci stopped drinking his tea. His eyes were wide with surprise at the anger in the older monk’s voice. One of the first things they’d been taught was control of the emotions, especially fear and anger.

 

“I apologize for my outburst,” Brother Benes said. “The Abbott would be disappointed in my rudeness.”

 

“There was no rudeness. It is a fair question and you are too exhausted for me to take offense at your tone. The truth is that we only received the Sphere from a young novitiate about thirty years ago. The poor thing was a delicate woman, a member of the English Council I believe. By the time she’d decided to leave the world behind and take shelter here, she was a broken woman. We asked her over and over where the sphere came from and who it belonged to, but she never said. We only put two and two together a few months ago. It began glowing for no apparent reason. Then the Mother felt your Abbot’s demise, and we knew. By then it was far too late. The Mother has said that the Beast did not get the Key. What has been done with it?”

 

“There was no choice. We had to mold it from its energy form to something easier to defend. We sent it to the Slayer.”

 

This time it was the Sister’s turn to be shocked and angered. “The Slayer? What is she to do against one such as Glorificus? What were you thinking?!”

 

“We had no choice!” Brother Krejci yelled, his nerves strained beyond his control. “While you were sitting here safe with your candles and weaving and soup, we were being slaughtered!”

 

The Reverend Sister gathered her thoughts and took a deep breath to clear her mind. “I apologize. Of course, you were in imminent danger of losing the Key to It. Your act was desperate, but justified. The question now is how we retrieve the Key from the Slayer and where can we hide it.”

 

“It is not that easy,” Benes shared. For his part, Krejci only grunted in distaste. He hadn’t wanted to manipulate the Slayer in the first place. Knowing that sooner or later the Beast would track the Key to her filled him with a simmering anger at himself and his whole order.

 

Benes continued, “The Elder’s spell will ensure that the Slayer will not give up the Key lightly. In fact, I’m not entirely certain it still IS a Key. That point was a little unclear.”

 

“I do not understand what you are trying to say.”

 

“And I cannot reveal any more to you. I am sorry, but I’ve said as much as I dare.”

 

Reverend Sister Loretta looked from one to the other of the monks. Her gaze settled upon Brother Krejci for several seconds of silence, waiting. Either the younger monk did not know to what Benes was referring, or he wasn’t outraged enough to reveal the Order’s secrets. She sighed in defeat.

 

“Very well. Then we must inform the Mother. The Sphere will need to be teleported to the Slayer as soon as possible. And someone will need to accompany it to explain its purpose and warn her of what is coming.”

 

“Can a human survive teleportation? Especially to California from here?” Benes paled at the thought of what such a transit might do to a body.

 

“We have no choice. The Sphere cannot simply be shipped via Federal Express. And despite our best efforts, sooner rather than later, the Beast will trace you here.” She sighed again, this time also chewing at her bottom lip. Everyone in the tiny room was feeling anxious, despite their exhaustion. “I must take my leave. I need to sleep before I relieve the Mother to keep the blinding spell in place. She will probably come to you for answers at dawn before she turns in. You should eat as much as you can. I’ll have one of the Sisters show you to rooms when you’ve finished. Try to get as much rest as you can. I’m afraid the days ahead will be trying for all of us.”

 

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In a non-descript room on the fourth floor of Sunnydale’s hospital Joyce lay listening to the doctor telling her to try not to worry. It would be funny if it wasn’t so scary.

 

“We’d like you to stay with us until I can arrange the CAT scan. It won’t be more than two or three days.”

 

“No. My girls are on their way here to pick me up. I won’t have them upset by telling them I have to stay now. You said yourself that it’s only a possibility that you’ll find something there to worry about.”

 

“I know. But you’ve already had a fainting spell once. It’s just fortunate one of your daughters were there to call an ambulance.”

 

“I told you, I skipped lunch. That’s all it was.”

 

“Mrs. Summers, I’m concerned.”

 

“I was Mrs. before the divorce. Its Ms. now. I’m signing myself out, Doctor. Call me when you want me to come in for the test. I’ll give you my gallery number, try there first. I don’t want Dawn or Buffy to answer the phone and hear it’s the hospital calling. They have enough to worry about.”

 

“You really should tell them Mrs. …Ms. Summers; prepare them.”

 

“I will. When we find out that there is something to tell. Until then, you are not to discuss your suspicions with them. Is that clear, Dr. Wains?”

 

“Perfectly,” the Doctor agreed. His body language and the look on his face made it clear to Joyce that he wasn’t happy with the injunction or her refusal to stay at the hospital.

 

She didn’t care. Until she knew otherwise, her faint was an isolated incident. As for the headaches…, Dawn was a teenager, Buffy was a Slayer and she was a busy business woman. What wasn’t there to have headaches about? As the doctor left to prepare her discharge papers, Joyce suppressed worried tears. There was no way she was going to add to her daughter’s pressures by falling apart over something that, right now, was just a vague suspicion.

 

Suck it up, Joyce, she thought. Your daughters deserve that much from you, at least.

 

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End Ch 8

Tags: btvs, buffy, fanfiction, harsens-rob, preludes, spander, spanderverse
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