This story takes place before the events of my "Four Friends" stories.
In this episode, Robin reports back, and we finally find out how the eggs are to be used. Did I mention Murphy's Law is still in effect?
Chapter 7: EGG-CITEMENT
It was an amazing thing, to see Rupert Giles mad.
Oh, Robin had seen Giles annoyed and upset before, plenty of times. But now he was positively livid, standing behind his desk with the phone receiver in a death grip, swinging his glasses around with the other hand. “Resting her injured leg? Blast it, Willow, Kennedy is a slayer -- she could have grown a new leg by now. Might I remind you that you’re in the employ of the Slayer’s Council, and in point of fact you’ve been charging rooms in the best inns on the east coast to my credit card?’”
Although Giles didn’t seem to notice Robin come in, Richard looked up from his seat in one corner of the room, where he’d been examining a thick, leather-bound spell book. He, also, held his glasses in one hand, but he had one leg crossed over his knee, looked relaxed in a black fleece running outfit, and completely unfazed by Giles’ temper tantrum. “You sure you want to come in here?” the new watcher asked in a low voice, arching an eyebrow at Robin.
“Demonic activity?” Giles said in an incredulous tone. “In Connecticut?”
Letting the door close behind him, Robin took a seat beside Richard. “Nice mustache.”
“No, Willow, I do not accept that! We needed you here to do this spell, but it’s too late for you to get back, now.”
Richard brushed his upper lip, where a dark mustache was just starting to get past the sparse, newly grown stage. “Some of the slayers claim they can’t tell Giles and me apart. I think they’re joking, but why take chances?”
“Then I’m sending a team. Yes, you heard me. If the demonic activity is that bad in rural Connecticut, you’ll need some assistance.”
“I’ve always wondered,” Richard mused, “why there are no vampires in New Jersey?”
“I have to go to Hartford on business anyway, so I’ll meet with you and Kennedy right afterward.”
Robin shrugged. “There are, but nobody notices. Most of them commute to New York every night.”
“And when I get to Star’s Hollow, I had bloody well better see some demons!” Giles slammed the phone down and stood staring off into space, his eyes unfocused.
“Have you ever noticed,” Richard suddenly said, his voice still calm, “that all our first names begin with an R? Maybe we should make that some kind of Watcher’s Council requirement.”
With a start, Giles turned to look at him. “Oh. Hello.”
“Xander would be upset,” Robin murmured. “Although we never really organized a Watcher’s Council, officially.”
Giles stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”
“We were talking,” Richard told him, “about who would be in charge when you go on that much needed vacation. I knew our conversation wouldn’t bother you, because you didn’t see either of us come in.”
“Oh. Yes.” Giles rubbed his face, looking for a moment exhausted, then roused himself. “Point taken. I’ve counted to ten -- shall we go on to the next crisis?”
He led the way through the library and into the hallway of the Chicago headquarters, and as they walked glanced back at the two other men. “The paperwork is almost finished on our purchase of the floor above, so our overcrowding should be lessened considerably soon. It’s been a bit stressful around here, with so many of us suddenly falling ill, but everyone seems to be recovering nicely.”
Robin glanced at Richard, and could tell by the look on the other man’s face that he knew the real story of what had happened with the older slayers. No matter what Faith said, the harm lay in who might have been hurt -- including Richard’s daughter, who was still kicking herself for not kicking Spike when she’d had the chance. Sometimes it was very hard to love Faith, and he still wasn’t sure she didn’t want it that way.
Giles brought him out of his reverie when the senior watcher stopped at the door to the gym, and turned back to them. He took a cautious sniff, wrinkled his nose, glanced at Robin, then looked away. “Did anything else of interest happen in Cleveland? I haven’t had time to talk to you yet, and Andrew seemed a bit more ... high strung, than usual.”
“We ran into an old friend of yours: Riley Finn. It seems the government knows we’re here, and what we’re doing. It caused ... problems, but we got away clean.”
Looking grave, Giles drew a deep breath. No, Robin decided, Giles didn’t need to know the rest. He had enough on his mind. “I’m glad you and Kara accomplished your mission. We’ll just have to hope the government doesn’t cause more problems for us.” He turned and pushed through the gym door.
Richard slapped Robin on the back as he passed. “And I’m glad you got Kara through it okay. I talked to her on the intercom; she’s being a bit hard on herself, but sometimes any mission you can return from is a successful mission.” He lowered his voice and added, ”She’s still sitting with her new ... friend.” At that moment Robin realized why Richard was so relaxed: because his daughter was back, and safe. Until an hour ago, he must have been just as hard to live with as Giles had been.
Almost everyone was gathered in the gym, making the open room look crowded even though most of the audience was huddled against the walls. In the middle, strapped to a bed, was a wild eyed teenage girl.
Strapped to her bed a lot: a half dozen leather straps crossed her torso, that many more bound her limbs, and there was even one to keep her head secure. Her dark hair lay in wild tangles, and she was sweating, making the white sheet transparent enough to show her nakedness underneath. “Why isn’t she wearing clothes?” Robin whispered to Richard.
“She ate them.” When he noticed Robin’s look, Richard added, “She kept trying to make her regular clothes into a noose, so we had her in paper clothing.”
A line of some kind of red dust formed a circle that surrounded the cot, and just outside it stood Andrew, Xander, and Dawn. “It’s almost ready,” Xander reported when he saw the other watchers enter the room, but then he walked over to them and lowered his voice. “Dawn and Andrew think they can do this. Andrew has some kind of magical tool that used to belong to Jonathan.”
Giles squinted toward Dawn and Andrew, who huddled together, going over a dusty volume taken from his library. “Are you sure they can handle it? Andrew and Dawn both have a tinge of innate magical ability, but not nearly the talent or power that Willow has.”
Xander shrugged. “There’s a shelf life on this eggy-magic stuff, so if we don’t do it now it won’t get done.”
“Yes, I know.” But Giles didn’t look soothed. “But we’re trying to cure a non-magical condition with magic, and that can be problematical, at best.”
“It’s worth a try. Besides, they’ve proven themselves. They’re a lot more mature than they used to be.”
At that moment Andrew looked up and asked, “Who’s holding my magic bone?”
Dawn burst out laughing, and several people in the crowd joined her.
“Wonderful,” Giles muttered, sending a hard stare around the room. “A powerful and potentially deadly spell, being handed over to Laurel and Hardy. I left Jason monitoring the situation from the control room, and he might turn out to be the sole survivor.”
Jason was Kara’s teenage friend, dragged into battle during the Rising of the Slayers last summer, who had never returned to what Richard hinted was an abusive home. Robin thought of Kara, still in the basement: that made two absent. He hadn’t mentioned the Buffybot to Giles, who seemed a bit too stressed to deal with it right now. Faith, who still hadn’t come out of their room, and Chantel, a registered nurse before becoming a slayer, seemed to be the only other people missing.
Xander stepped away from Giles and leaned close to Robin, whispering in his ear. “I know she won’t let me thank her, so I’ll tell you I really appreciate what Faith did for me.”
Robin shot him a questioning glance, making Xander’s visible eyebrow rise. “I thought you’d have heard by now. I mean, her being your girlfriend and all.”
“We haven’t had a chance to talk much.”
“Oh. Well, I was ...” Xander swallowed, and looked around to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “I was starting to drink. Everything that’s happened -- my eye, and Anya, and --” He cleared his throat. “I was becoming like my dad, and my uncle, and well, like just about everyone in my family. That stunt she pulled with the older slayers ... she knew that would shake me out of it. I think that’s the biggest reason she did it, to give me a knock on the head. I just thought someone should know I appreciate it.”
Robin nodded, his mind numb, as Xander walked back to the center of the room.
By now Andrew had retrieved from one of the slayers what appeared to be a femur bone -- from an animal, Robin hoped. Chantel came in from the medical room, carefully holding a syringe full of a swirling, multicolored liquid that seemed to be glowing. “This is as close as I can get it,” she told Dawn.
“It’ll work.” Looking confident, Dawn stepped into the ring of dust and stood at the foot of the cot. Looking less confident, Andrew came in to stand at the head, Xander took one side, and Chantel the other. The insane slayer, Dana, looked from one to the other with wild, animalistic eyes.
Dawn began chanting. Her voice was so soft Robin couldn’t make out what she was saying. A few times the other three repeated her words, while Dana strained against her bonds and made a high pitched keening noise. Everyone else was silent, entranced at what seemed very much like a human sacrifice.
Then Chantel stepped forward and, without ceremony, plunged a needle into Dana’s arm. Dana screamed, but Chantel held her place until the syringe was empty, then stepped back again. It was Andrew’s turn to begin chanting, in a language Robin didn’t recognize, while waving the bone in intricate motions.
Robin smelled something, and this time it wasn’t himself. It was similar to the ozone scent of a lightning storm, and at first he hardly noticed it; then it strengthened rapidly, until his nose started to burn. At the same time, everything within the circle began to glow with a bright orange color, like the rising Sun.
Forcing his eyes away, Robin noticed the door to the hallway, behind Giles, was standing open. Feeling an overwhelming urge to secure it, he moved back while Dana screamed and arched against her restraints, every muscle standing out from the effort. The leather restraints held.
But the bed didn’t.
Afterward, Robin realized it wasn’t just a matter of Dana tearing the hospital bed apart -- it exploded, with the force of both her super powered muscles and the spell’s energy. Pieces of hard rubber, metal, plastic and foam shot out like shrapnel, accompanied by a shock wave and what sounded like a sonic boom. Robin was partially sheltered from the blast by Giles, who crashed into him, and for a moment he lay stunned against the wall. The light grew until it became blinding, then suddenly faded.
No one remained standing. Dawn, Andrew, Xander and Chantel had been slammed across the room into their audience, which had also been pelted with the remains of the bed. Only Robin and a few of the slayers stirred, and he saw that many of them were clutching at debris impaled in their bodies. Giles and Richard lay unconscious, and only being partially shielded had saved Robin from the same fate.
Wait -- one person was standing, Robin realized. Dana stood in the middle of the room, completely nude except for torn pieces of restraints that she was ripping from her limbs. When the last one was gone, she looked around.
Her eyes glowed orange. She threw back her head and laughed, and when she did Robin saw orange light spewing from her mouth.