This story takes place before the events of my "Four Friends" stories.
In this episode Robin and his crew finally return to Chicago, sans Spike ... but if Robin thinks his problems are over, he's sadly mistaken.
Chapter 6: EGG ON HIS FACE
The garage door closed behind the ambulance, shielding it from the public area of the basement parking garage. Not for the first time, Robin wondered how the Watcher’s Council had come up with the money: not only to have a secret backup headquarters, but to give it enough extras to rival the Batcave. A private parking garage beneath a downtown Chicago high-rise, not to mention an express elevator from the garage to the fourteenth floor ... and Giles hadn’t blinked when he got the chance to purchase the fifteenth floor, to house all those new slayers.
He climbed out of the ambulance’s passenger seat and stretched, while a yawning Andrew shut off the truck’s engine. “I’ll wake up Kara,” Robin told him, and walked back to open the side door to the patient compartment.
But Kara wasn’t sleeping. Instead she was kneeling by the cot, where she had spent the trip back reassembling the Buffybot -- or at least, placing the parts where they would be if the robot hadn’t been torn apart by a gang of demons, years before. She’s laid the shredded clothes to one side, so Robin found himself staring at what appeared to be a naked Buffy Summers, the jagged ends of her limbs placed against the battered torso.
“Um ... Kara ...”
Kara turned, her face tense and expression deadly serious. “It was ... just something to do at first, to pass the time. I couldn’t sleep.”
“Yeah, well you’re a little old to be playing with dolls, but I don’t see the harm. You do know the thing’s broken beyond repair, right?”
“That’s what I’d always heard.” She gestured toward the Buffybot’s head. Its eyes were open. And looking at Robin. For a second he thought it was chance that the head just happened to be pointed his way, but then its gaze swung to Kara, before turning back to him again.
“Holy --” Robin stumbled back, colliding with an approaching Andrew. Seeing the younger man reminded him of the stories he’d heard about the robot’s creation, so he grabbed Andrew’s arm and hauled him to the door. “Explain this.”
Andrew’s eyes bugged out. “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
The Buffybot opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She looked puzzled.
“How, Andrew? Your buddy Warren created it -- how could it still be working after being torn apart?”
“Well, it had a self-repair function, but that wouldn’t be enough to fix this much damage.” Without thinking Andrew reached out toward the machine’s all too human -- and naked -- torso, but Kara slapped his hand away. “Ouch! Um, Willow gave it an upgrade.”
“Willow?” She couldn’t have ... did she even know enough back then? She had brought the real Buffy back to life around then, a major bit of mojo. “Could she have given it a magical upgrade?”
“A magical --?” Andrew tore his gaze away from the torso. “I I don’t know.”
“The parts are connected again,” Kara said quietly. “You can still see the damage, but I couldn’t pull the arm away from the shoulder.”
Every time he thought his life couldn’t get any weirder ... Robin rubbed his hairless scalp, considering. Willow wasn’t here to investigate this turn of events, and the original creator was dead. He couldn’t imagine what harm would come if the robot suddenly leaped up and started happily slaying vampires again, except to annoy the real Buffy, and she was in Italy. “We need to get those eggs upstairs. Let’s just leave it down here for now, and we can have somebody check on it later.”
Kara shook her head. “But she looks scared. I think I should stay here with her; you don’t need me for the spell, anyway.”
Again Robin hesitated. Kara was right that she wouldn’t be needed -- in fact, he’d been planning to send her to bed -- but that wasn’t his worry. “Kara, it’s a mechanism. Like a toaster, or a microwave open.”
“But much sexier,” Andrew put in.
Grabbing up the bag of eggs, Robin shoved them into Andrew’s hands. “Take these up to Giles. Don’t drop them, because if they hatch they’ll crawl inside you in a way you don’t even want to imagine.”
Gingerly holding the bag, Andrew rushed toward the elevator.
When he turned back, Robin discovered the Buffybot was holding Kara’s hand. It was trying to talk, and looked terrified. “It’s okay,” Kara soothed. “You’ll be better soon.” The young slayer turned back to Robin and lowered her voice. “She doesn’t know she’s just a mechanism. Go ahead, I’ll stay with her.”
With a sigh, Robin turned and made his way toward the elevator. So, what had he accomplished this week? He’d finished his mission only with the help of the vampire who’d killed his mother; he’d discovered the military knew all about their so-called top secret headquarters; he’d damaged a teenage girl’s self confidence; he’d left a company car stripped in a Cleveland parking lot; and now he’d brought back a forgotten relic of Sunnydale that was Frankensteining itself back together in the back of an ambulance.
He pushed the button for the fourteenth floor and leaned against the elevator wall. This one was not going on his resume.
The doors slid open onto a small lobby area, which held a reception desk that Robin had never seen used. Until now: Faith was draped across it on her side, her robe half undone to reveal cleavage and a pale, smooth, very bare length of leg. “Well, hello, sailor. Ready to get back into port?”
Robin froze, then had to grab the elevator doors to keep them from closing in front of them.
“Look.” She patted the wood desk’s surface. “Isn’t it just the right size?”
“You jeopardized the mission.” Huh? What was he saying? But his exhaustion, and the events of the last two days, were catching up to him, and he felt his temper rise.
“What?” Faith gave him a confused look.
“You got those girls drunk, when you knew I might need them soon.”
Faith’s expression hardened. She sat up, then reached to close the robe. “Kennedy and Willow were supposed to be backing you up. Don’t blame me if they snuck off somewhere for a little mutual muff diving.”
Robin stalked into the lobby, letting the doors slide shut behind him. “You’re missing the point. You know how important this mission was, how it might save a life. You took all the experienced slayers off partying while I was out there getting my ass handed to me.”
“What’s the matter with you?” Hopping off the desk, Faith poked a finger at her lover’s chest. “What are you getting on me for? It all worked out, didn’t it?”
“It ” He shook his head, picturing Spike’s mocking smile. “It almost didn’t.”
“Yeah? Well, that’s part of the business, isn’t it? But it did work out, and you’re back, but I’m not feeling quite as hot and ready as I was a minute ago. Your loss. Chew on that, and you might also want to consider that I had a reason for what I did and I would have told you, if you’d just asked.” She turned and swept out, heading down a hallway toward the small room they shared. Just before she disappeared, she turned to hurl back, “By the way, you stink.”
Well. That had gone well. Robin headed toward Giles’ office to make his report, mentally kicking himself every step of the way.