Almost Heaven

Shut Up and Drink Your Tea, You're Britsh

Xander watched bitterly as Buffy left their little research party to check on William. He decided to take the opportunity to pull Dawn aside. He cornered her at the bottom of the stairs as Giles dealt with Willow on the couch.

"Dawnie, you're not going to tell Buffy about what me and Giles did, are you?"

Dawn tugged on her pajama blouse. "I'm tired; I think we should talk about this tomorrow."

He cupped her face in his hands, making her look at him. "Dawn, those demons would have killed Buffy. We did what we had to. I know you think it was wrong, but do you really want to lose your sister?"

Dawn shook her head, terrified by the idea. "But Xander-"

"Dawn, I didn't take any pleasure by sending Spike to hell," Xander lied. "None of what he said was true. I love Buffy like I love you. We're friends. Hell, we're family! You have to keep this secret. Buffy wouldn't understand."

Dawn slapped Xander.

"Ow! What was that for?"

Dawn crossed her arms, angry and confused. "For mucking everything up in my head. If Spike was here I'd slap him too."

Xander pursed his lips. "Maybe we should go get him then. I love sharing after all."

Dawn rolled her eyes. "I'm going to bed. Night." She trotted up the stairs.

Xander poked his head into the living room, listening in on Giles and Willow.

"No. I refuse. We have to tell her," Willow said.

"Then why haven't you already?" Giles asked.

She faltered, looking for the answer. "I, I wanted you to tell her yourself. But if you won't I will!"

"Willow, dear, please, we only did what was best Buffy. Spike is a threat; he brings nothing but bad situations to us. He will get Buffy killed."

Willow scrubbed her face with her hands. "You're asking me to lie to my best friend."

"No, I'm asking you to refrain from telling Buffy something she doesn't need to know. It will only hurt her."

Xander chose that moment to step into the room. "Dawn agrees with us, Wills, she won't tell Buffy. Come on, you know it wouldn't be right to tell her."

She glanced between her oldest friend and her mentor. "But it's not right. You sent him to hell!" she hissed in a whisper. "That is not good. That is the opposite of good. That is bad. I won't lie to Buffy."

Xander sat beside Willow, boxing her in between himself and Giles, making her feel like a rabbit that is being closed in on by hyenas.

"Wills, we aren't asking you to lie, just don't volunteer the info. Besides, don't you think if William wanted her to know, that she would have told her?"

Fear flickered across Giles' face. His gaze crawled towards floor where Buffy was currently conversing with William.

"Fine," Willow gave in. "Fine, I'll be quiet. But if she asks me if you and Giles got together with a demon to send William to hell, well then I'm gonna tell her the truth."

"Tell who what truth?" Buffy asked as she entered the room.

Willow opened her mouth, but being a lousy liar nothing but a strained whimper came out. She shrugged and pointed at Xander.

"Willow wants to leave our little research party in favor of sleep. She planned on telling you, but you know our Wills, she's ashamed to leave before me," Xander answered, proud of his spur of the moment lie.

"Oh, no problem, Will. Go rest your brain, I think I'm going to go for a quick patrol and, you know, something. I don't know. Giles, does tea really make you feel better or is drinking it a requirement of being British?"

Giles made a face and took off his glasses. "I find it relaxing. Are you planning on having a cup?" Giles finished cleaning his glasses and settled them back down on his nose.

She lifted her shoulders. "Don't know. Maybe. Could use a little relaxation."

"Well do tell me if you decide on having a cup. I will show you how to make a proper pot of tea."

Buffy nodded. "Okey dokey, Jeeves." She grinned cheekily.

Giles' rolled his eyes. "Yes ver- Spike, awake I see."

"William." He met Giles' gaze before dropping his eyes to the ground. "I would appreciate being called William."

Xander sneered, "But you make such a good Spike. My sore body can attest to it. I mean I have the bruises to prove it. No, wait…. You are a vampire, you hurt me. Evil. Spike not William."

Giles shook his head. "Yes, well, I find it hard to call you anything other than Spike."

William bit back a growl of frustration. Seeing them brought back memories of hell. And now his mother told him that Buffy took part in it. He didn't know what to believe.

Buffy chortled at Xander's faux pas, and missed Giles' bitter comment.

"Come on, William," she took her arm and steered him towards the door, "you're patrolling with me. I don't trust you and Scrappy Doo over there not to kill each other."

"Hey!" Xander squealed. "Not Scrappy. Shaggy. There's a difference."

Buffy threw him a smile and dragged William out of the house. The door closed and Buffy started doubting her choice of being alone with William.

"So…."

William rubbed his neck. "So…."

"Slaying." She nodded and walked across her lawn. "Come on, there's vampires that need killing."

William stared at her back, hesitant to follow. If what his mother said in his dream was true, Buffy wanted him dead. Then again, he was staying with her in a house full of people who also wanted him dead. Outside or in, she could easily kill him. With a sigh he followed after her.

"I don't see what help I will be. I don't know what I'm doing," he told her with a slight whine.

"Buck up," she teased, "I'm sure you'll do fine."

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master sighed as his childe brought a grinning human into his chambers. "Darcy, I told you to watch the Slayer, not bring me dinner."

"I don't think you want to eat me," Rufus said. "That would just be stupid."

Darcy growled and kicked him in the ass. "Show respect."

The Master was quickly losing his patience. "Why shouldn't I kill you? Keep in mind, your reasons don't matter. I'm still going to kill you."

"Okay, but it'll be your fault when you burn in hell with the rest of the world." Rufus shrugged. "I figured I'd help you out, offer my protection, but what are you going to do?"

The Master beckoned him closer. "What do you mean?"

Rufus walked up to the throne-like chair the master inhabited with regal posture. "I need to get home, but in doing so I'll unleash hell on Earth. I could offer you safety. You could rule under my protection."

"Other than magic, I smell very little power on you. How can you possibly wreak as well as you boast?"

"Rufus clucked his tongue and shook his head, as if weary of combating doubters. "I choose not to be easily detected. But if I show you the extent of my power, that's all she wrote, isn't it?"

"Speak quickly, I find you hopelessly dull."

Rufus turned and spread his expansively. "A picture is worth more than boring you further, Master."

The Master's composure did not change even a little as a smoky, phosphorous ball of light swirled suddenly before them. The air of the chamber crackled with palpable energy, and Darcy's hair rose into the air and gave her a hysterical aspect.

"W-what …" Darcy stammered, stepping back defensively.

"This is proof of my boasts," Rufus announced, and covered his ears.

The residents of Sunnydale clamped their hands over their ears as an eyeball-popping screech

vibrated against their eardrums and watered their eyes, snotted their noses and made the weaker ones among them lose control of the muscles in their lower extremities. The infernal noise attacked them for merely half a minute that seemed much longer, then relented, leaving a complete and ghostly silence.

In his chamber the Master blinked, shook his head and coughed, regaining the sangfroid he had momentarily during the apocalyptic vision Rufus had just shown.

"Darcy!" he chastised. "Get up now."

Darcy lay on the floor with a faraway look in her eyes, sucking her thumb.

Rufus shrugged insouciantly. "Ya wanna talk turkey now, Master?"

The Master shifted on his great chair. "Hmm. What have you in mind?"

Rufus shook a cigarette from his pack and snapped his finger. A flame fizzled to life on his thumb, and he lit up and took a deep drag. "Buffy Summers," he said as he exhaled smoke.

The Master waited.

"Kill her for me. Then we're as good as gold."

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

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