|"One Girl in all the World"
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters from Roswell, BTVS or Angel. I'm
just borrowing them. No profit is earned and I'll dust them off before I
Summary: Liz and Spike are off to Sunnydale to stop the Skins from raising an ancient war god. Cooperation is called for, but how much will they get?
"Go away. It's not safe."
"Michael, don't do this, not again." He looked back briefly but kept walking.
"We need you."
"Nobody needs a live grenade Liz." He kept walking. Liz was quiet for a while, not knowing how to respond to that. AS analogies went it wasn't that far off. A grenade. A grenade without a pin. She honestly didn't know what to tell him, how to reassure him. They walked in silence for a moment before Liz had an idea. She was, after all, one of the few people who could understand his problem.
"We'll work on it together. Don't you remember how I was when I first became the Slayer? I was afraid. I was afraid all the time that I would lose control and hurt someone. I got over it. I learned to control it. So can you." Finally, he stopped and faced her. She raised a hand to stop the objection she saw coming. "Don't say it's different, because it's not. When I killed Nasedo I freaked. Not just because I'd never killed anyone before, but because I hadn't intended to kill him. I didn't even think about it. It was… it was automatic, a reflex I couldn't control."
"So you understand. Great. Doesn't really help does it? Did it help when I offered you that support?" Liz remembered and couldn't meet Michael's eyes. The days after she became the Slayer had been busy ones, but not so busy she didn't have time to brood over what her life had become. She had distanced herself from everyone, everyone except Spike whom she couldn't kill accidentally. She had concentrated on solving problems with her mind, not her fists, but the impulse was always there barely suppressed. Michael had seen the signs.
He had come to her the day after the slavers had left town. Liz was obsessed with training, gaining control over her reflexes. She tried hard to hide it, but Max knew she was struggling, and so did Michael. He offered to talk about what had happened, reminding her of his own experience with Pierce. Liz hadn't talked about it. She had shut him out and gone back to training. The next words came hard, but she got them out.
"No. It didn't help me gain control, and I know I was kind of rough with you about that, but it helped to know you were there, that you were willing to help." She stopped, uncertain but continued after a moment, "even if you couldn't make it better." A deep breath. "I just want you to know that I'm here, the way you were there for me, and I understand if you don't feel you can accept that." Michael didn't answer for so long that Liz had almost decided he wouldn't. Finally he nodded.
"Thanks Liz. It helps." < Well, > Liz reflected, < it was more than I said. > "I need a little time alone right now. Could I meet you back at the magic shop? Tomorrow morning?" Liz nodded.
"Okay. I'll see you there." She stopped and let him walk on alone. "Michael?" He looked back. "I will won't I? See you I mean." He nodded.
"I'll be there. I promise."
Buffy looked up as Liz entered the basement. She looked at the other Slayer curiously. "Where's Michael?"
"He needs some time alone to think, but he promised to meet at the shop tomorrow. It'll take time, but he'll be okay." Buffy nodded, and started casting about for a neutral subject.
"Um, well, we're just about done here. We're got them wrapped up and we're gonna send them off around the world." Liz nodded absently.
"I'll take a few pieces back with me, dump 'em along the way. Anything magical you need to do to the pieces?" Buffy shrugged and looked at her Watcher.
"Well," Liz said hesitantly, "not all of the stone in the… whatever, was original. It looked like the original pieces were… corrupting the new stone."
"Yeah," Buffy said, remembering the same thing. "The black was spreading from the original stone."
"Ah, no, I believe that it was the Hellmouth's proximity that allowed that to happen. It was part of the reason for performing the raising here. Removed from Sunnydale, the power will fade and it will become ordinary stone, even the, ah, head which seems to have some permanent connection to the demon."
"Well the head is in pieces so that's not a problem. By next week all six pieces will be in six separate time zones. No problem."
"Good enough," Liz agreed, somewhat distractedly moving away. Buffy and Giles exchanged worried looks. Buffy followed hesitantly.
"Liz? Can we talk? In private?" Liz looked puzzled, but nodded. They made their way outside. Liz watched the other Slayer patiently, until Buffy spoke again. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I haven't been very nice to you since you've been here. I don't really know why." Liz shrugged.
"Spike said you might have trouble. I mean about having another Slayer around." Buffy shot her an unreadable look.
"Oh, he did huh?"
"On the count of what happened. There wouldn't be any other Slayers if you hadn't… well." Buffy's face cleared. "If it means anything I sort of understand that. I um, kind of died a while back myself. Shot. If Max hadn't been there… Well I don't like to think about it."
"Oh. Yeah, that's a part of it. Not all though." Liz had known that, but had decided not to say anything. "You've got Faith's memories, and…"
"I know some things about you that the others, your friends don't?" Buffy nodded.
"Faith. Faith did something that no one else has ever done before. I've lost fights. I can deal with that, but Faith made me feel like a victim. Thing is… for a long time I blamed myself for what went wrong between Faith and me. I wasn't exactly welcoming. I didn't exactly welcome Kendra when she came around either."
"You don't like sharing the spot light," Liz stated baldly. She was tired and worried and not in the mood to be delicate. < Well I tried. If she wants it out in the open, we might as well get it there. > To her surprise, Buffy didn't get angry. She stiffened slightly at Liz' words, but then her shoulders slumped, and she nodded.
"One girl in all the world…" she murmured.
"You don't have that distinction anymore. Get over it." Buffy bristled at this, but didn't argue. "I like to think the world is a little better off for it, Faith not withstanding. Even she's done her share." Buffy nodded reluctantly.
"You're right, and you did really good tonight. I guess… I guess Spike's been… a pretty good teacher." Liz laughed softly. Time to lighten the mood.
"Wow, was that really as painful as it looked?" That won a weak smile from her Sunnydale counterpart. "He's come through for me more than once, and he has taught me a lot." She thought a moment. "You know, it wouldn't hurt though if I spent some time training with someone who could hit back. Normally the only ones who do that are trying to kill me. As a learning experience it's… lacking." This time Buffy laughed out loud.
"We'll have to do something about that."
Michael hesitated outside the store. He really wasn't looking forward to this. "Should've told her I'd meet her outside," he muttered. He took a deep breath and shoved open the door. "Liz? You ready to go?"
"She's not here yet." Michael looked around to see Anya behind the counter. She was busily rearranging bottles and jars on the shelves behind the counter. "I gather you had a late night. Spike is the only one here." She turned from the shelves and caught her first glimpse of him for the day. "Oh. An all nighter huh?"
"Not really. When'll they get in?" Anya shrugged.
"I'm not sure. Xander was still sleeping when I came to open the shop. I'm not even sure when he got in. Normally I wait up for him when he's out fighting evil. I like to make sure there's no damage…" Michael tuned her out as she started to relate some personal details he really didn't want to know about. < Geez! She babbles more than Maria. > Fortunately he was spared the need to comment on anything by the arrival of Liz, Giles, and Buffy. They nodded to Michael and Anya.
"Are you all right Michael?" Liz looked at him with concern; a concern that he saw the others shared. What surprised him was that it was concern for him, for his well being. They weren't afraid for themselves. < I suppose I should be touched, > he thought morosely. Unfortunately, their attempts to commiserate and be understanding only put them at risk. Nevertheless, he tried to reassure them. Liz was the only one who wouldn't be reassured, and remembering what she had said the previous night, he could understand that.
Spike joined them at some point, but he wisely stayed out of the conversation. They retired to the back room and talked about the details of disposing of Devarri's remains, and for a time no one spoke or thought about what had happened. Spike quickly grew bored and wandered off to browse in the shop.
Things seemed back to normal. < Normal being a relative term, > Michael brooded, thinking back on the days with the FBI around every corner and a bug in every room almost nostalgically. At some point the phone rang, but it was picked up by Anya who had stayed at the counter.
"'Scuse me, Liz?" Liz looked up. "There's a call from Roswell. Spike's got it. I think there's a problem." Liz hurriedly rose and headed for the phone. She arrived in time to see Spike hang up.
"Was that Max?" Spike didn't answer or turn around. "Is something wrong?" Spike turned toward her with an expression on his face quite unlike anything she'd seen before. She glanced at Buffy and Giles who had joined her, but they looked equally puzzled.
Spike's facial muscles seemed to be in conflict, attempting to express several contradictory emotions at once, but having to settle for shifting rapidly from one to another. First astonishment, then anger, then a grin would begin to spread across his face before being replaced by something else.
"What happened Spike?" Liz demanded. The grin finally won out and Spike almost doubled over with suppressed laughter. "What's going on?" Now she was getting irritated. Spike finally gained enough control to answer her.
"You think they could manage a couple of days without supervision." He shook his head in mock resignation. "We've been here bustin' our tails, keepin' the world safe for picnics and puppies…" He paused a moment to give an oddly disbelieving laugh. "Meanwhile, back at the ranch…"
NOT THE END
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