Forever, That's The Whole Point

Chapter 23

Chapter 23

Giles paced in front of Buffy, Faith and Willow sitting at the library table. "This creature is especially brutal." He was saying. "I believe the phrase coined by the coroner when describing Mr. Platt was 'pureed'. But he did confirm that Platt was killed shortly before Aurelia found him."

"Which means that he was killed during the day." Faith said.

"Yes!" Willow cried, raising her fist. They all gave her looks. "Sorry. I got…. I've just been…. it's horrible, horrible."

"It's ok, Willow. We're all glad Oz is off the hook."

"Indeed." Giles said, checking his watch. "Shouldn't he be here by now? The sun sets at 5:30."

"He'll be here."

"Yes. Our task now is to determine what sort of killer we are dealing with. Clearly, we're looking for a depraved, sadistic animal."

"Present." Oz said, walking in. Willow smiled, jumped up, and went over to him, pushing Giles aside in her eagerness to reach him. "Hey, I may be a cold-blooded jelly doughnut, but my timing is impeccable."

"But you aren't!" Willow said. "I-i-it's-it's a kill-in-the-day monster! A hundred percent for sure."

"Ok."

"Uh, I wish we had time to celebrate properly." Giles said. "However, we have two victims: Jeff Orkin and, uh, now Platt. Uh, maybe there's something they had in common."

"Missing internal organs." Faith said.

"Besides that."

"Debbie." Oz said. "Well, victim number one, Jeff. He was in jazz band with us. They used to horse around."

"They were screwing?" Faith asked.

"I don't think so, but he hid her music comp book once."

"What about Mr. Platt?"

"Debbie was seeing Platt as well. She was vocal about not having love for the guy. And add this and stir. I just saw Debbie a minute ago sporting a nasty black eye."

"Ok, so pretend Debbie wanted Platt dead. Maybe he fought back." Willow said.

"No." Aurelia said. "Platt was dead in an instant. He didn't even drop his cigarette. Isn't she seeing someone? What if he's the one doling out the punishment?"

"We should find them both immediately." Giles said.

"Well, Debbie was in the quad a minute ago." Oz said.

"All right. We'll split up. Um, Faith, you and I team. Willow, stick with Aurelia."

"And I'll…. go lock myself in the cage." Oz said.

Aurelia and Willow walked into the girls' locker room and found Debbie there. She was trying to hide her black eye with makeup. She glanced up at them and then just kept on applying makeup.

"It's tricky, covering a fresh shiner like that." Aurelia said. "You know what works?"

"What?" Debbie asked, putting away her makeup.

"Don't get hit. What's going on, Debbie? I'll bet anything that you know."

"You're wrong. I don't know anything."

"I don't have time for this game. People are dying."

Debbie looked between Aurelia and Willow. "It… it's not his fault. I mean, he's not himself when he gets like this."

"You mean Pete."

"It's me. I make him crazy. He-he just does what he does because he loves me too much."

"But weren't Mr. Platt and Jeff murdered by an animal?" Willow asked.

"Pete's not like other boys, is he, Debbie?" Aurelia asked.

Debbie realized they knew more than they were letting on. "I-I've gotta go." She grabbed her purse and started to leave.

Aurelia took her by the arm and stopped her. "You have to talk to us. We can't help you until you do."

"I didn't ask for your help!"

"Well, when are you going to?" Willow asked. "I mean, if Pete kills you, it'll pretty much be too late."

"Debbie, we're running out of time." Aurelia said. "Where can we find him?"

"I-I don't know."

"You're lying."

"What if I am? What are you gonna do about it?"

"Wrong question." Willow said.

Aurelia took Debbie by the arm again and pushed her up against the sink in front of the mirror. "Look at yourself. Why are you protecting him? Anybody who really loved you couldn't do this to you."

Debbie turned around to face them. "Would they take him someplace?"

"Probably."

"I could never do that to him. I'm his everything."

"You're not in a fairy tale! Two people are dead. Who's going to be next? Your family? More friends? You?"

"He does love me."

"No, Debbie, he doesn't."

"He does love me."

"This is useless. We have to go. I have to find Pete."

Willow tried to get Debbie to stand up and go with her. "Come on." Debbie kept repeating her little mantra and resisted. "I think we broke her."

"I think she was broken before this." Aurelia said, walking out. She had to find Pete before he could kill again. She heard Willow call her name and turned to find the red head practically dragging Debbie behind her. As they made it into the hallways, they heard a piercing scream and began running to the library. Giles and Faith came running from another hall.

"What was that?" Giles asked just before they barged in to the library. Giles looked at the cage and saw it open. Werewolf Oz and Pete were fighting on the stairs. Oz had his jaw clamped hard on Pete's arm and Pete repeatedly punched him in the gut. "Get the dart gun!"

Aurelia reached behind the counter and grabbed the dart rifle. "Got it!" She cocked it and took aim past Giles.

Debbie shoved Aurelia aside to protect her boyfriend. "Pete, watch out!" The gun went off and the dart hit Giles in the hip just as Pete finally managed to flip Oz over onto the floor and get free of his jaws.

Aurelia couldn't believe she shot Giles. "Oh! Sorry!"

"Oh, right. Bloody priceless." The drug took effect quickly and Giles staggered and fell to the floor, pushing a table into Oz as he tried to get away. Oz ran through the door to behind the counter, leapt over it, and ran out of the library.

Aurelia tried to take aim but couldn't get a clear shot. She tossed the rifle to Faith. "You get the wolf!"

"Got it!" Faith ran out of the library with Willow close behind.

Debbie turned and ran up the left-hand set of stairs to escape out through the stacks. Aurelia ran toward Pete on the right-hand set of stairs. She stopped halfway up to deliver a roundhouse kick to his head. He stumbled up the stairs and onto the upper level floor. Aurelia pursued him as he got to his feet. She punched him with a right followed by a left. He staggered over to the side of a bookcase, grabbed it, and shoved it over onto her. It landed on top of her with a loud thud, dumping its contents all around her. Pete roared and ran from the library.

Aurelia groaned and shoved the bookcase off of her. She ran out after Pete and saw him run around a corner. She reached a hall intersection and didn't see him in any direction. Looking all around, she finally looked up and saw blood streaks around a high window. She jumped up and crawled out through the window onto a roof. With a sigh, she stepped to the edge, looked down, and jumped. She looked around and behind her, through another window, noticed a lamp swinging from the ceiling. She rushed over to the door and forced it open.

Inside it seemed quiet. She looked around and found Debbie lying dead on the floor behind a rack. "Oh, God." Aurelia bent down to check her pulse. Pete grunted and grabbed her from behind. He threw her against some crates and she hit the floor, dazed.

Pete grabbed Aurelia by the arm and backhanded her. "All the same! You're all the same!" He backhanded her again and she fell from his grip. As he advanced on her, she kicked him off and away from her into a stack of crates. Behind her the door opened and she looked back to see Cassius standing there with his vamp face. He roared deeply and attacked Pete. Pete came to meet him. Cassius swung his chains at him and got him in the face. He swung the chains the other way and got Pete in the face again.

Pete lunged at Cassius and bent him backward over a crate with his hands around Cassius's throat. Aurelia stood up and went to help, but Pete pulled Cassius up from the crate and threw him to the floor. Aurelia screamed Cassius's name and then realized Pete's attention was back on her.

Behind him, Cassius got up and came at Pete, wrapping the chains around his neck. He lifted Pete over his back and slammed him down on the floor. Cassius pulled at the chain, choking Pete. Aurelia winced when Cassius gave Pete's neck a twist and broke it. He let go and Pete fell dead to the floor. Cassius looked down at his kill and began to calm down. Pete changed back to his normal state, but Aurelia couldn't care less about him.

She looked up at Cassius as he breathed heavily. Finally, he looked up and over at Aurelia. They just stared at each other for a moment while Cassius caught his breath. He slowly started to go to her and changed to his human face. He stopped in front of her and she looked up at him, not knowing what to expect.

After a long and intense look he finally said, "Aurelia?" He fell to his knees and held her tightly. Aurelia let out a sob and dropped to her knees in front of him. They held each other tightly, both of them crying. "Aurelia…."

"Cassius, you came back to me!" Aurelia held him tighter to him and breathed in his scent. "Cassius, my Cassius, my love…."

Cassius could only hold her to him, crying along with her.

Aurelia followed her friends through the quad the next day. Willow and Oz held hands as did Xander and Cordelia. "It's all over school, what happened with Debbie and Pete." Willow said. "Except for the Pete-was-a-monster part."

"Yeah." Oz said. "A freshman told me that Pete had eight iced cafe' mochas and just lost it."

"That's better than the estrogen theory." Aurelia said. "I heard he took all of his mother's birth control pills."

"He didn't?" Cordelia asked. "Pete was a monster? Where have I been?"

"In your special place, Cor, which is why I adore you." Xander said.

"So, what's the true story? What happened?"

"Well, we got a hold of, uh, Pete's lab books and stuff, and Mr. Science was doing a Jekyll/Hyde deal." Willow said. "He was afraid Debbie was gonna leave him, so he mixed this potion to become super mas macho."

"The only thing was, after a while, he didn't need the potion to turn into a bad guy." Aurelia said. "He did it just fine on his own."

"So it was like a real killing. He wasn't under the influence of anything?" Cordelia asked.

"Just himself."

"Uh…. I'll see you guys later. I need to speak with Giles." Aurelia walked off to find Giles. He was in the library sitting in his office going through his books. "Hey."

"Aurelia…. Is everything all right?" Giles asked, setting his books aside.

"He's back."

"What?"

"Cassius…. He's back. His mind, I mean. He's not…. He saved me last night."

"Good lord…."

"I don't know how he did it, but…. What does this mean for us, Giles?"

Giles gestured to his books. "I've been…. Researching more about this prophecy, translating the different languages and…. I'm not actually sure. There's nothing about an Eternal Circle anywhere in my texts."

Aurelia nodded. "But now that he's back…."

"I believe this End of Days will come about and without the Eternal Circle, I don't know how to stop it."

"I'm sorry."

"For what? You didn't bring him back, did you?"

"Unless the symbolism of putting on our ring in the spot that I sent him to hell and declaring that I would never look at anyone else again caused it, I don't know."

"Oh…. Is that what happened before he came back?"

"Yes."

"You don't believe in coincidences."

"No, I don't. That's why I apologized."

"You couldn't have known what would happen. You were just trying to get some kind of closure in your life."

Aurelia shrugged. "I should go check on him. I didn't want to leave him, but school beckoned. Now that I'm on the attendance record, I'm leaving. That counts, yes?"

"Yes." Giles cleared his throat. "Do you want me to help you….?"

"No. I'll be fine. We'll be fine. You just keep looking for a way to stop what's coming."

"Will you tell him?"

"When I feel the time is right, yes. I can't hide it from him. But he's been through so much…. I can't put anymore burdens on him just yet."

"Are you going to tell the others he's back?"

"Not yet. Especially not Xander. I'm…. scared of what he'll do with Cassius in a weakened state."

Giles nodded. "Good luck."

"Thank you." Aurelia walked out through the back door of the library, heading for the mansion.

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