the bunny warren v. Faith

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The Summer of Our Discontent

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: The Buffybot patrols Sunnydale during the summer following the Slayer's death, and comes to the rescue of an unlikely victim...Parker. Set during the summer between Seasons 5 and 6.
Rating: PG-13.
Feedback: Please.
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like.

Prologue


"You son of a...."

Parker braced for what he knew would come next. His face reflexively winced as Cindy's open hand struck his face.

There were basically three types: the Scowlers, the Howlers and the Smackers. The Scowlers basically put on a good front, covering their bruised egos with an "I-really-didn't-like-you-anyway" defiance. Those weren't so bad. The Howlers made a scene, getting all weepy, begging, crying, etc. They were embarrassing, to themselves more than anyone else. Then there were the Smackers. This one was a Smacker.

Parker shook off the slap, and said:

"Look, I understand your feelings. But understand my feelings. I connected with you, in a very real way. It was a beautiful moment. That's why I don't want to ruin that one, perfect time we had together by trying to...."

Smack!

"Prick," Cindy said, half exclaiming, half observing. She stormed off.

Parker sighed. Oh, well, he thought. At least the Smackers tended to storm off, and stay off. Nothing too clingy.

Besides, Parker thought as a smile crossed his face, mission accomplished. She was cute, too.

Parker threw a five dollar bill on the table, got up, and left the outdoor café. He'd used this particular coffee shop a few times to...extract...himself from a dalliance. He knew that two cappuccinos came to four dollars and eighty six cents. Twenty cents was enough for a tip, right?

Parker walked down the street on his way to the frat house. Summer parties were cool. Lots of local high school girls came out, providing good prospects until the school year started and new freshman girls could provide opportunities. Parker checked his watch. Cindy had taken longer than he'd expected. He'd need to hurry if he wanted to get to the party before everyone had hooked up. He decided to take a short cut down an alley to try to make up some time.

On his way down the alley, he heard a sound come from behind him. He turned around. Nothing. Probably just a cat.

He turned to continue, and saw a figure walking toward him. He recognized the face, and said under his breath:

"Crap."

It was that girl...what's her name...Bunny? No, Buffy. She was a Scowler-Howler-Smacker combo. He'd actually thought about trying to get another piece of her, after she'd helped him. That's when she'd turned into a Smacker. Quite a hard Smacker, actually. She'd used a stick. His jaw still made clicking sounds. Now, here she was again. Parker wondered why he would be running into her in a dark alley. Karma never occurred to him.

"Uh, hey," he said. "How ya doin'?"

Buffy, with a blank look, stated, rather matter-of-factly:

"You know Buffy."

Weird, he thought. She refers to herself in the third person, like that guy on that episode of Seinfeld. The one with the big shoes.

"Uh, yeah," Parker finally said. "Funny meeting you here."

"I know you," Buffy replied. "But I don't remember you. If you tell me your name, I will ask Willow who you are, and she will tell me. Willow explains things to me when I don't understand."

"Um, O.K. You sure you don't remember me?"

"But first," Buffy said, ignoring Parker's question, "I must slay the demon who is sneaking up on you. I will rescue you, which will save your life."

"What the...?"

"She's talking about me, punk," a voice behind Parker said.

Parker turned around. Standing behind him was a guy. A big guy. REALLY big. About seven foot tall. And wearing blue makeup. Blue makeup?

The demon lifted Parker off the ground by his shirt, and growled:

"Parker, right? The girl wants you to know what a jerk you are."

He tossed Parker against the alley wall.

Parker tried to stand. His whole body ached. He closed his eyes and shook his head to clear his vision. He opened his eyes, and couldn't believe them.

Buffy was fighting the blue giant. And...winning?

God, Parker thought, I knew this chick was weird after the last time, but Jeez.

Buffy had the demon up against the wall, pinning him with multiple blows to the face. She then threw the demon to the ground and said:

"Now I will kill you."

The demon, dazed as much by Buffy's statement of the obvious as by the head trauma, said:

"Huh?"

To accentuate the point, Buffy buried a stake into the demon's chest. Not being a vampire, he did not disintegrate. Being a creature with a necessary heart, he went limp and died.

Buffy exclaimed:

"Program completed. Awaiting next task."

Parker stood up. He said:

"That...thing...it tried to kill me! It was after me!"

"Yes, it was," Buffy said. "But I slayed it."

"Yeah," Parker said. "That's twice you saved me."

"I only know about this time," Buffy said.

"He...he said my name. He was after ME!"

"Yes," Buffy said. "Demons kill people. Some are just bad. Some are bad because they want something. Some, like Spike, are bad because they can't help themselves, and their dark, oozing badness makes them irresistible and...."

"What?!?"

"You must come with me," Buffy said. "Giles will know what to do. He has books."

"Uh, O.K."

Buffy strode down the alley. Parker followed wordlessly.


Part I.


"And you never saw this demon before?"

"Of course not," Parker replied to Giles' question. Giles, Willow, Tara and Spike sat around the table at the Magic Shop. Parker stood before them, hardly believing the story he'd told them, even after he'd told it.

"Well," Tara said. "It's good that you're O.K."

"Sort of," Willow muttered.

"Look," Parker said. "I have no idea what's going on. I just don't get it. Some blue guy comes up and tries to kill me. He said some girl sent him. Buffy fights it off, like some kind of ninja-girl. And she talks like she's narrating a documentary."

"Well, uh," Giles said, "Buffy's been through quite a lot, what with her mother passing away, having to suspend her studies...."

"...dealing with lecherous upper-classmen who seduce unsuspecting freshman girls and then dump them," Willow interjected.

"I think what Willow means to say," Giles said, "is that we really don't know much, but we are used to dealing with such things. Perhaps it would be best the...I mean, if Buffy and Spike took you someplace to stay. For safety."

"No problem," Parker said. "I don't want to be out on the streets by myself."

"And Lord knows you shouldn't be on the streets," Willow said, and then added, "by yourself."

"Spike," Giles said. "Buffy is in the training room. If the two of you would give Parker an escort, Willow, Tara and I can get to our research. Take him to Xander's apartment. Since he isn't even a student, there is no reason for anyone, or anything, to look for Parker there."

"Right," Spike said. "C'mon, mate, we'll go out the back."

Parker followed Spike into the back room.

"Willow, really," Giles said, "that wasn't productive."

"Yeah, but it felt good," Willow said. "Parker's a slime. He broke Buffy's heart. And a lot of other girls', too. Rah, rah, demon, I say."

"Willow," Giles said, "I understand your anger. But you must admit that murder is a rather extreme penalty for Parker's behavior."

"He's right," Tara agreed. "I mean, one of these girls is messing with dark forces. It could be dangerous."

"I know," Willow said. "I'm not saying we don't help him. I just don't see any harm in giving him a piece of my mind. So what do we do?"

"First, we make sure Parker is safely tucked away," Giles said. "Then the two of you should start looking for a girl who may have a reason to want to harm Parker."

"Alright," Willow said. "So what do we do next decade?"

"Honey," Tara admonished.

"Kidding," Willow said. "Well, exaggerating."

"Meanwhile," Giles continued, "we will have to work on refining the programming of the BuffyBot. Her ability to fight seems to be up to par, but her verbal reactions are obviously...well, obvious."

"I'll see what I can do," Willow said. "It's been rough, though. Trying to write a program to make her language spontaneous."

"It's imperative we overcome that obstacle," Giles stated. "If even a casual acquaintance like Parker can tell that there's something amiss, a demon will certainly notice."

"Not to mention Mr. Summers," Tara added. "The other night, the BuffyBot picked up the phone, and it was him. She started out the conversation saying, 'Hello, you're my estranged father. Your neglect of my development has caused me to seek out relationships with wankers and losers.' Thank god I grabbed the phone away from her. It was starting to sound like an afterschool special. Well, except for the slightly better dialogue."

"Well, Dawn has made it very clear that she wants to stay in Sunnydale," Giles replied. "And I really cannot blame her. In any event, it wouldn't do to have her leave our supervision. She's been exposed to some rather dark elements at an early age. An unknowing parent wouldn't be able to protect her from some of the seductive elements of that world."

"Spoken like a true reformed ex-teen rebel warlock," Willow said. "I'll start out with our yearbooks. If I scan the pictures, and put blurbs on the people Buffy knew into the robot's programming, it'll at least have a passable initial reaction to anyone she might meet. And I'll try to put in some of the wisecracks that Buffy uses. I mean, that she used to...."

The three paused for a moment at a reference to the real Buffy. It was still painful.

"Also, Willow," Giles said, trying to change the subject. "Spike has mentioned something. Normally I wouldn't give too much thought to the sensitivity of a vampire who's tried to kill most of us at one time or another, but his request seems reasonable. Besides, if we're going to keep the dark forces of Sunnydale at bay, we need all the assistance we can get." "Shoot," Willow said. "It concerns the robot's reactions to him," Giles explained. "It seems that it is still somewhat...amorous." "Well, I'll try to remove that," Willow said. "But it's pretty deeply ingrained in the programming. Of course, I can understand why Spike would be upset. I mean, it looks and sounds just like her. If I were Spike, I don't know how I'd react." "Spike knows how he'll react," Giles said. "He says that if the BuffyBot keeps making sexual comments, he'll tear it apart, quote, 'like a bloody Christmas present.' Since we need the robot even more than we need Spike...." "I'm on it," Willow said. "Very well," Giles said. "Let's get to it."


Part II.


"So, you're Parker?"

"Yep," he replied. "And you are...?"

"My name is Anya. I'm Xander's girlfriend. We live here. You'll be staying with us. I should point out that you'll be safe here."

"Thanks," Parker replied. "That's very nice of the two of you."

"I've reformed," Anya explained. "A few years ago I would have covered your body with throbbing sores. However, I've put that behind me. Also, I can't."

"Um, honey," Xander interjected. "Why don't you go get some sheets for the couch?"

Anya walked to the linen closet in the hall.

"Parker," Xander said, "I just need a minute to talk to Spike. I'll walk him and Buffy outside."

"Fine," Parker replied.

Xander, Spike and the BuffyBot exited the apartment and walked down to the street.

"Giles says keep the kid indoors," Spike said. "Once we've got this mess cleared up, we'll let you know."

"We help people," the BuffyBot interjected. "That way, they live longer."

"Well said," Xander replied. "Look, Spike, maybe the Bot should stay with us. If any more giant smurfs come by, Anya and I aren't going to be much good."

"Not a bad plan, that," Spike said. "Alright, the tin can stays here. We'll be in touch if we need her. I mean, it."

"Gotcha," Xander said.

Spike turned and walked back toward the Magic Box.

"He's walking away," the BuffyBot gleefully observed. "Do you see his firm bum?"

"Okay," Xander said. "First, a thousand times, no. Second, you can't see his...bum. He's wearing a trenchcoat."

"Well, you don't have to see it," the BuffyBot exclaimed. "You just know it's there. Sometimes I just close my eyes, and...."

"Um, Buffy," Xander interrupted. "You know what makes his...bum...even better?"

The BuffyBot's eyes widened.

"If you never mention it," Xander explained. "I bet that, if you go a full year without mentioning it again, Spike's posterior will be ten times better. But only if you never bring it up. Ever. Especially, and I cannot overemphasize this, especially when I'm around."

"Really," the Buffybot exclaimed. "But, how does that work? How does mentioning his tight buttocks make...?"

"Ah, there you go," Xander said. "You mentioned it. Now you have to start the year over."

The BuffyBot's microprocessors did a quick cost-benefit analysis, and determined that the possibility of an improvement to Spike's already perfect rear end was worth accepting the lack of data regarding its origin. Xander and the Bot walked back to his apartment in silence.


Part III.


"Yeah, we dated for awhile."

Willow and Tara listened to Jessica as best they could over the noise of the frat party.

Willow asked:

"So, how long ago?"

"Last semester," the Jessica replied. "My friends warned me about him. But he fed me a load of crap about how we had an incredible connection. He'd made mistakes with other girls, he had trouble opening up, I was different, he never felt so comfortable, blah, blah, blah."

Tara asked:

"So, what happened?"

"He dumped me," Jessica said. "He gave me some line about how we were too perfect to ruin it with a structured relationship. But it was obvious what happened."

Willow and Tara glanced at each other, not knowing what to say.

"My roommate went home for the weekend," Jessica explained. "I had the room to myself for the night. My roommate came back. Parker didn't."

"I'm sorry," Tara said.

"Yeah, me too," Jessica said. "So, which of you lucky girls is Parker after?"

"Um, me," Willow said. "But you've really opened my eyes. Thanks."

"No prob," she said. "Look, not that this isn't tremendous fun, but...."

"It's O.K.," Tara said. "Thanks for your help."

The girl walked off.

"Well, that was depressing," Tara said. "Do you think it was her?"

"Hard to say," Willow replied. "I was only half kidding when I told Giles that we'd have trouble just asking about people who would have a grudge against Parker. This will take forever."

"Well, we could try narrowing it down to people who have been around Parker recently. I mean, the last girl he was with would be the most likely suspect."

"That would be hit and miss," Willow said. "Who would we ask, and how would we be sure they were right? We could ask Parker himself, but I don't think he's very trustworthy."

"Yeah," Tara agreed. "Normally I'd say he'd do anything to help us, but I think the shock of what happened has probably worn off. By now, if he follows the typical pattern, he's probably rationalized the whole thing."

"A spell," Willow exclaimed.

"What?"

"There's a spell I found in a book Giles got in last week," Willow explained. "Basically, any person who's summoned a demon within the last phase of the moon will momentarily transform into the demon they summoned. If we cast it here, we just look for the girl who turns periwinkle."

"Willow," Tara said, "that sounds a little dangerous. I mean, if this girl get's demon powers, she'll be hard to deal with. She could hurt people. Plus, transformations are tricky. You remember what happened with Amy. This girl could get stuck in demon form. We're trying to stop her, not hurt her."

"Oh, that won't happen," Willow said. "Amy must have just gotten the biochemistry out of balance. I can do that easy. Besides, it will give me a chance to get some experience with corporeal invocation spells, so I'll be ready when we get the urn."

"Oh, I know you can do it," Tara said. "It's just, maybe we're moving a little too fast. I mean, we're talking about deep magic."

Willow recoiled.

"You mean with the demon, or with Buffy?"

"Both," Tara replied. "I mean...look, I don't like keeping this a secret from everyone. Especially Giles. If anyone knows how to deal with this sort of thing...."

"Giles isn't a warlock," Willow said. "And he'd only tell us not to try. Tara, we're blowing it. The vamp activity in town is down since we got rid of Glory. You kill a god, the lower beasts are going to lay low for awhile. But that won't last. We can get the BuffyBot as close as possible to the real Buffy, but it's not going to fool them forever. We need Buffy. The real Buffy. And I know that, wherever she is, she needs us. I can feel it. I know that this is why I was meant to become a witch. I have this power, and I know I can use it to make everything right again."

Tara dropped her eyes.

"Tara, we've got to do this," Willow said. "If we can't get the urn, we'll bring in Xander and Anya. They'll be able to use the Magic Box suppliers. But we can't bring on anyone who isn't going to be with us one-hundred percent. Not Dawn. Not Spike. And especially not Giles."

"And what do we say to Xander and Anya when they ask why Giles isn't helping?"

"Whatever we have to," Willow said. "It's Buffy. We do whatever it takes."

Tara sighed. "Look, I'll wait here while you're getting the spell from the Magic Box. I'll see if I can find this girl. If I can't, we'll do the spell."

"That's my girl," Willow said, kissing Tara on the cheek, and walking toward the door. Tara smiled weakly. She couldn't tell if she was trying to smile, or trying not to.

Tara walked toward the refreshment table, looking for a nonalcoholic beverage. Predictably, there was none. Jessica walked up beside her, grabbed a beer, and said:

"I hope I didn't disappoint your friend too much."

"No," Tara said. "It was probably good for her to hear."

"Yeah," Jessica replied. "I wish I had listened to the people who warned me about Parker. But I was stupid. You know, sometimes, you just want so much to feel wanted that you can't see the obvious."

"Yes," Tara said. "Or sometimes you see it, but you just can't...well, you just can't."

Jessica sighed, then walked back over to a group of her friends.

"Um, excuse me?"

Tara turned to face the voice behind her. A petite brunette was standing there.

"Um, hi," she said. "My name's Sandra. I heard you talking with Jessica. You weren't talking about Parker, were you?"

"Yes, I was," Tara replied. "Parker asked a friend of mine on a date, and...."

"They're not out now together, are they? I mean, she's not around Parker a lot?"

"Listen, Sandra," Tara said. "We're looking for a girl that Parker used to go out with. It's important that we find her."

"Oh, God," Sandra exclaimed. "He didn't have...something, did he? I mean, we were safe, and everything, but...."

"It's nothing like that," Tara said. "Parker's in trouble. Someone's trying to hurt him. We're looking for her."

"Well...um...look. Just tell your friend to stay away from Parker. It's...not a good idea to be around him right now."

Sandra turned to walk away.

"Sandra," Tara called out. "The blue guy's history. If anything else comes after Parker, we're going to have to do something about it. No one's gotten hurt yet. If someone does, everything changes."

Sandra stopped. She hung her head, then looked up, and said:

"I'm sorry. I just...I wanted...I don't know...oh, God, what do I do?"


Part IV.


"So how did you do it?"

"It was an accident, really, Mr. Giles," Sandra explained. "My aunt died about a year ago. She used to babysit me. Our family used to talk about how she was...strange...but every time I'd ask why, they'd avoid the issue. When she passed away, she left me some of her things. There were some books, and a few pieces of jewelry. I never really looked at them. Well, at first."

"But later you did," Willow interjected.

"I was sitting in my room," Sandra continued. "Parker had just...well, you know. I was feeling pretty down. I didn't want to go out, so I started going through Aunt Melba's things. The books were really creepy. One of them had a couple of paragraphs in some weird language. Some notes in my aunt's handwriting said that it was a revenge spell. I read some of the words out loud, and the next night they appeared."

Tara asked:

"You mean the blue guy...and who?"

"There were two of them," Sandra said. "One of them was blue, the other was red. I'd thought the spell hadn't worked. But the night after I read the spell, they showed up. They said they needed a couple of things to complete their 'mission.' They took a sweatshirt that Parker had left behind, and a pocket calculator. I was too stunned to ask what they needed them for. I never expected the spell to work. It was just...I don't know...a fantasy, I guess."

"A sweatshirt and a calculator," Willow repeated. "Maybe the demons were going to warm Parker up, and then...balance his checkbook?"

"I'm sure there's a more metaphysical significance than that," Giles said. "But in order to determine what, and to dispel the second demon, it would help if we had the spell book."

At that moment, Spike entered the magic shop.

"Mission accomplished," Spike said. "The kid's tucked away. I left the Bot over there to keep an eye on him."

"Good," Giles said. "Now, if you and Willow would go with this girl to her dormitory, she has a book that we require to complete our research. Tara and I will try to find what we can with the books here."

"Oh, bloody Hell," Spike said. "I didn't sign on with your little Scooby gang to play errand boy. If I don't get in a few good ass kickings soon, I'm turning free agent."

"If we are to give you your 'ass kickings,' as it were, we're going to need that book," Giles replied. "This girl summoned the demon. Once we have her spell book, we'll know where to find it."

"Fine," Spike said. "But if this all ends, and I haven't gotten in a few digs...."

"Don't worry, Spike," Willow said. "If history is any lesson, we'll all be in desperate, life-threatening danger by the end of the night."

"Promises, promises," Spike said.


Part V.


Sandra rifled through her closet. "I'm sure it's here somewhere."

"Well, be quick about it," Spike said.

"This is an impressive collection," Willow said, looking at the books on the shelf on the wall. "Your aunt must have been a powerful witch."

"I wouldn't really know," Sandra said from the closet. "I had no idea what she was doing."

A voice called from the hallway:

"Sandra?"

Sandra, Spike and Willow turned toward the voice. A young man stood in the hallway, peeking in through the open door.

"Oh, Andy," Sandra said. "Everyone, this is my friend, Andy. His room's on the floor downstairs."

"Hey, everybody," Andy said, giving a small waive. "What's up?"

"Andy," Sandra said. "Do you remember that book I showed you? The one I said I got from my aunt? With that spell I told you about?"

"The one you tried when that creep...um, yeah, I remember."

"Do you remember what I did with the book?"

"Well, you showed me that spell you tried to do. I told you not to be silly. You told me you weren't being silly. I told you to forget the jerk. You told me...."

"Andy, please," Sandra said. "This is important. Have you seen the book?"

"Yeah," Andy said. "I'm looking at it right now. You put it up on your bookshelf. The one with the red cover."

Willow pulled a book down from the shelf and asked:

"This one?"

"Yeah, that's the one," Andy confirmed. "So, what are you guys gonna do? Try to turn the RA into a toad?"

"The spell worked," Sandra replied. "There's something after Parker."

"Oh, come on," Andy said. "Look, Sandra, if you needed to let off a little steam about Parker, fine. Say 'abracadabra,' and let it go. But this really isn't healthy. Get a grip."

"Andy, it's real," Sandra said. "A blue demon and a red demon came to my room. One of them went after Parker, but these people have a friend who killed it. The red one is still out there. If anything happens to Parker, it's my fault."

Andy took a moment to absorb this.

"Look, Andy," Willow said. "These things are dangerous. But right now it doesn't look like anyone but Parker is threatened, and we've got him protected. You've got to keep this a secret. If anyone found out...."

At that moment, a red arm reached into the doorway, grabbed Andy by the back of the shirt, and threw him into the room. He went flying, but landed safely on the bed.

The red demon strutted into the room. Spike flashed his vamp face and stepped forward.

"Stop it," Willow said. "This is enough. Your mission is over. The girl no longer desires revenge."

"Too late," the red demon replied. "The piper has played. Now he's got to get paid. Those are the rules."

The red demon took a step forward. Spike lunged toward him, wrestling him to the ground. The demon threw Spike to the side. As he stood, Willow said:

"Combust!"

A small burst of flame shot from Willow's forehead, and struck the demon in his chest, stunning him for a moment. Spike took this opportunity to rise and shove the demon toward the window. The demon crashed through the glass and fell out of the building.

Stunned, Sandra asked:

"Will that kill it?"

"Not likely," Spike said. "I wasn't thinking. Now I'll have to run downstairs to finish him off."

"Not now, Spike," Willow said. "We've got to regroup. There are too many people here that can get hurt. We'll sneak back to the Magic Box."

"You've got to be kidding me," Spike said. "I've been lurking around ever since these guys showed up. I'm not in this for the reading. Besides, that Parker git's the only one this red bloke wants to hurt."

"It wasn't after Parker," Willow said. She turned to Sandra. "It was after you. It talked about a 'price.' Do you know what it was talking about?"

"I have no idea," Sandra said. "I really couldn't read much of the spell. There were some notes in English that said it was a vengeance spell, but I think the rest was in Greek or something."

"Latin," Andy corrected. "I remembered some of the words from midnight mass."

"Great," Willow said. "So we still don't know what we're dealing with. C'mon. We'll head back to the Magic Box. We'll translate the spell book. But we've got to get going. It won't take that demon long to get back."

"You can go out the side entrance," Andy suggested. "It leads out toward the woods. You should be able to get out unnoticed."

"You should come," Willow said. "We can't protect you otherwise."

"You said it yourself," Andy replied. "This thing is after Sandra. Being with you is a sure way to put myself into danger, not stay out of it."

"Kid's right," Spike said.

"Alright," Willow said. "Let's get going. And we've got to be quick about it."

Sandra, Willow and Spike started to leave. Andy called out:

"Sandra!"

Sandra turned. Andy continued:

"Um, be careful. Call me when you're sure you're OK."

Sandra nodded. The three of them scurried toward the stairwell.


Part VI.


"Try not to get too scared," Willow told Sandra as they stood at the counter of the magic box. "We deal with this sort of thing all the time."

"I just feel so stupid," Sandra said. "First I get duped by Parker. Then I do that spell. I never really wanted to hurt him. I mean, I did, but I wouldn't have actually gone through with it. Does that make any sense?"

"Of course it does," Willow said, remembering the spell she'd planned for Oz and Veruca. "I've been through this sort of thing myself. It helps if you have someone to talk to. Like your friend Andy, for example. He seemed nice."

"Yeah, he is," Sandra agreed. "He's real easy to talk to. A real friend. He's not like most guys. You know, where you're always worried that they're going to hit on you? Andy's not like that. He was really there for me, especially after what happened with Parker."

"I think we've found it," Giles said, looking up from the table where he, Spike and Tara were sitting. Willow and Sandra walked toward the table.

"According to this," Giles explained, "the spell calls forth two demons, called Tylorots. The blue Tylorot does the bidding of the witch."

"The second one is kind of a balancing demon," Tara continued. "It keeps the forces evened out. Basically, whatever the witch orders the blue demon to do to her enemy, the red demon does to the witch. It's kind of like a safety net. The spell keeps the witch from doing too much harm, because whatever she does, she has done back to her."

"What I don't understand is how you managed to cast this spell in the first place," Giles said. "This isn't a minor illusion or simple force spell. The incantation would need to be pronounced perfectly. Not to mention the fact that the actual instructions to the demon must be given in Latin, and a rather obscure Latin dialect, at that. Plus, without any experience in spell casting, I'd be surprised if you could have the proper mental balance to execute the enchantment."

Willow asked:

"Is there anything in there about the sweatshirt and the calculator."

"Not specifically," Giles said. "But it does say that the Tylorots need objects owned by both the target of the spell and the witch. It gives the demons an aura to read, so they can locate their victims."

"So the blue Tylorot took the sweatshirt so he could find Parker," Tara surmised. "And red guy took the calculator so he could find Sandra."

"Exactly," Giles said. "Which means we should prepare for this demon's arrival. He'll be able to find Sandra wherever she goes, so it's probably best to make a stand here."

"Perfect," Spike said. "Finally, enough of the bookworming."

"It wasn't mine," Sandra said.

The Scoobies turned to look at Sandra.

"The calculator," Sandra explained. "It wasn't mine. It's Andy's. He loaned it to me for my calculus class."

"Well, that's odd," Giles said. "It's hard to imagine that the demon wouldn't have sensed that the object wasn't in fact...."

"Giles," Willow said, "Andy recognized the writing in the spell book as Latin."

Giles removed his glasses and considered this.

"Yeah," Spike added. "And the little bugger made sure that we wouldn't take him with us back here."

"Tara," Giles said. "Call Xander. Tell him we need the BuffyBot."

"I don't understand," Sandra said. "What are you all talking about?"

"There isn't time to explain," Giles said. "We have to act quickly. Sandra, where would Andy go if he wanted to hide?"


Part VII.


Andy slowly climbed down into the cave on the hillside. He couldn't help but smirk at the irony. He'd taken Sandra here once after they'd first met to look at the stars. He'd hoped that, with the right setting, he'd be able to work up the nerve to...well, here he was again.

He opened up the knapsack he'd hastily packed on his way out of the dorm. He had a couple of cans of ravioli, his reading for English Lit class, a change of socks....

"Did you really think I wouldn't find you?"

Andy looked up. The red Tylorot was standing at the mouth of the cave. The demon jumped down and stood before Andy.

"Time to pay," the Tylorot sneered.

"Listen," Andy said. "Deal's off. Your partner blew it. He got killed before he could hold up his end of the bargain. The way I see it, I don't owe you anything."

"That's not how it works," the demon replied. "The payment is for the summoning. For calling forth the power. You owe."

Andy swallowed hard. What could he do? Sue?

"Alright," Andy sighed. "Get it over with."

The Tylorot took a step forward.

"Hey, red! Up here!"

The demon looked up, and saw Spike perched above.

Spike looked over his shoulder, and asked Giles:

"Now? Ass kicking?"

"Oh, yes," Giles said. "Let the kicking begin."

Spike sprang down onto the demon, forcing him into the cave wall, and delivered a sharp blow to the demon's face with his elbow.

"My turn," the BuffyBot interjected, jumping down to the floor of the cave. The demon forced Spike away, only to receive a roundhouse kick to the face from the BuffyBot. Giles, Willow, Tara and Sandra began climbing down toward Andy.

The Tylorot punched the BuffyBot in the face. Sparks flew as wires sprang from the robots forehead. The demon grabbed the robot by the throat and lifted it off the ground.

"Spike," Giles called, tossing a short sword toward the vampire. Spike caught the sword in midair and drove it through the demon's back. The Tylorot let out a gasp, and then collapsed to the ground.

The Scoobies gathered around the demon's corpse, and then turned to look at Andy.

"Um, I guess you want an explanation," Andy said.

"Yes," Giles said. "I believe that would be in order."

Andy bit his bottom lip, then said:

"My mother was a witch. She wasn't into it heavy, but when I was younger, she taught me a few things. Simple magic, like how to make my toys put on their own puppet show. Then one day I levitated the cat into the ceiling fan. My dad put a stop to the magic lessons."

"An understandable reaction," Giles replied. "However, I suppose you remembered some of what your mother taught you?"

"A few little things," Andy admitted. "Not much. It helped that I took a couple of years of Latin in high school. It kind of refreshed my memory."

"That explains the spell," Willow said. "You could read the text."

"Yeah," Andy said. "After Sandra showed it to me, I snuck the book out of her room. It was a little more complicated than anything I'd seen before. But I could read it. I was kind of glad that Sandra couldn't do it. She would never have known about the red demon."

"So you decided to do the spell yourself," Tara said. "That wasn't very bright. Those demons could have killed both of you."

"I didn't order the demon to kill Parker," Andy retorted. "I just told it to rough him up. Teach him a lesson."

"You knew about the red demon," Sandra said. "What were you thinking? You knew it would come after you. Why would you bring that on yourself? I don't get it."

"You don't get it," Andy said. "Yeah, I guess you wouldn't."

Andy walked past the Scoobies and climbed up to the mouth of the cave. He turned, and called down:

"You know, Sandra, sometimes you're so dense, I'm surprised you don't have your own gravity."

Andy walked away into the night.

Sandra blinked. She got it. The Scoobies exchanged glances. They got it. Spike looked at the BuffyBot, then looked away. He really got it.

"Willow," the BuffyBot said. "My circuits have sustained minor damage. Should I return to the house for repairs, do my usual patrol, or give Spike a neck rub?"

Spike shot Willow an angry glance, pushed his way past the Scoobies, and then climbed out of the cave.

"Um, Buffy," Willow said. "We'll go back to the house. I've got to do some repairs. And there's some other...changes...I have to make."


Epilogue


"You see," Parker said, "I don't really get anything out of these parties. Normally it's just a bunch of stupid conversation that doesn't mean anything. But you're different. I feel like I can really connect with you."

"Wow," the girl said. "You know, I was just thinking the same thing. You're not like the guys I knew in high school. You're...deep."

Score, Parker thought.

"Listen," Parker said. "I've got this great book on the philosophy of social dynamics back at my dorm room. You should read it sometime. Normally I wouldn't recommend it to a freshman, but I can tell you're way beyond most girls."

"Um, OK," the girl replied. "Um, maybe I could come by and we could...read it together?"

"That would be great," Parker said. "Hey, what did you say your name was?"

"Blue."

"What?!?"

"Baleu," the girl repeated. "Jennifer Baleu. Hey, is there something wrong?"

"Um, no," Parker said, trying to keep his jaw from trembling. "Uh...listen...maybe I should just call you."

THE END


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