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[personal profile] last01standing
Title- The Fallen
Rating- pg-13 (violence)
(other story info on chapter one)

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Twelve- The Problem with Magic

Buffy drew herself up tall, secretly wishing as she always did, that she could grab a stool to stand on. Something so that she wouldn’t have to looked up at all of her friends. Angel’s friends being there didn’t help either. They seemed like they were all giants.

“We should go as soon as possible,” Buffy said, warily eyeing the group. “The sooner we get Jesse out the better.” Her eyes flickered towards Spike. “I say we go at noon. It’s when they’ll least prepared.”

“If we go in the day,” Spike said softly, “I’m out of the game.”

And she knew he was one of the best fighters here, regardless of how good Angel’s crew was. Was she willing to take him out of the fight just to have the element of surprise?

Yes, she realized with a slight twinge of guilt, she was.

Turning to Angel’s gang, she surveyed them each in turn. Gunn could clearly handle himself and she strongly suspected his sister could as well. She knew from Willow that Wesley was capable. She knew that before he was killed, Doyle and Cordelia had been Angel’s backup and although she didn’t look it, she assumed Fred could hold her own. Kate seemed to be everyone’s unknown quantity, but Oz trusted her and that was enough.

“I’m going to need everyone. It’s going to be dangerous and we just might run into Angel when we’re there so you have to be prepared for whatever may….”

The doors to the hotel opened suddenly and light flooded the lobby sending Spike scrambling back into the shadows. The rest of the group squinted into the harsh light as the outlines of two figures began to take shape, the former almost dragging the later behind him. As the two shapes came into focus, Buffy saw that the one standing on his own power was blue eyes and dark haired with a intricate pattern of tattoos snaking up his arm, but the second was the one who was in trouble.

His face was a mess of bruises and blood, his eyes almost swollen shut, feet dragging with each assisted step. He would have been completely unrecognizable if it hadn’t been for Xander who was staring in opened mouth shock. “Jesse!”

He was at his side in a flash, hooking Jesse’s free hand over his neck so he could help support his friend’s limp body. The man on his other shoulder gave him a brief grunt of thanks.

Cordelia stood up suddenly. “Lindsey?”

Together with Xander, he helped put Jesse on the couch before turning to address the group. “I need your help.”

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It ended with Kate interrogating Lindsey. Cordelia could see a few raised eyebrows over that, but to her it seemed completely natural. Kate was a professional. She was good at this sort of stuff and Lindsey was more than willing to talk. Giles and Wesley were in the room as well. She guessed it was so the supernatural experts could get an angle on it.

Gunn was muttering something about ‘born again lawyer boy’ and saying that they’d done this before. Cordelia was inclined to agree with him. Especially since Spike seemed to know Lindsey as Doyle.

Everything seemed like it was at a standstill and Cordelia could almost call it the calm.

It was suspended animation. There were seven people in this room who were supposed to be dead. But they weren’t. They were relics, well-preserved, but out of time. It was funny really. Seven years ago, Cordelia Chase was the stuck up ice queen of Sunnydale High.

Now she was sitting next to her dead half-demon best friend who her other best friend had tried to kill a few hours ago. And in about a day and a half, she was going to help save the world.

Funny how things changed.

Even stranger was the fact that this somehow seemed more natural.

Jesse’s ragged breathing broke her from her thoughts and she glared at Xander and Willow. “Shouldn’t we get him to a hospital or something? He’ll bleed all over the couch.”

“It looks like most of the bleeding stopped a while ago,” Willow babbled cluelessly, “and I think I can speed up most of the healing.”

“Yeah, but a hospital might help,” Cordelia pressed. “I though magic wasn’t supposed to mix with medical.”

“We can’t take him to the hospital,” Xander explained hopelessly. “How would we explain it? He’s dead.”

The finality of the words tore at Cordelia as if all of a sudden the whole thing was real to her. The kid lying on the couch was the same one who’d asked her out every day starting in fifth grade managing to always be shaking with nervousness on every single instance and now they couldn’t even take him to a hospital because he’d been dead since tenth grade. They wouldn’t be able to take her in either... or Doyle or Alonna or any of the others as far as the world was concerned, they were dead and they always would be. And somehow, that was how it was supposed to be.

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“It’s called the Rite of Blood,” Lindsey told Kate quietly. “I’m not sure what it does, but I know it’s bad. Apocalypse bad.”

Kate leaned back in her chair half wishing that she was in the old police station and Lindsey was at one of those small tables preferably in handcuffs.

But this was supposed to be a friendly meeting. So that meant no physical violence no screaming, no mention of how Wolfram and Hart had always butted in of her investigations. No…

Control. She swallowed she needed control of this situation.

Lindsey wore the smirk of bad guys who’d just realized they were getting off easy. “That it?”

“Do you have any idea of what the ritual involves.”

“Blood,” Lindsey replied immediately, “sacrifice, and from what she said, it’s already started.”

From somewhere behind her, Giles asked, “Do you know anything about a group called the fallen?”

“The fallen?” Lindsey repeated. “They’re supposed to be dead but they’re not anymore are they? Seven of your dead friends alive and kicking.”

“Do you know who they are?” Kate pressed though she didn’t need the answers. Even if Giles hadn’t mentioned the fallen to her, their identities were easy enough to guess.

“The boy who was being tortured, for one,” Lindsey said and after a moment’s hesitation he admitted, “she wouldn’t give me any names.”

“Anything else?” Wesley asked, pencil tapping on his notepad.

“The Fallen aren’t what we have to worry about,” Lindsey said tersely and Kate noticed that he seemed to think that this was his problem as well. “It’s the others. Her side. She said there were four of them, but I don’t know who. They’re going to do it if we don’t stop them.”

“When?” Kate felt a frantic energy rising in her at the mention of the end of the world.

“Tomorrow.”

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“I’ve got it,” Tara said as she entered the Hyperion.

Willow immediately stood up. “Let’s do this soon.”

Ms. Calendar took her cue and said, “I’ve got everything set up in room 222. But I don’t have the translation.”

Willow glanced at Xander. “I’ve got it here.” She held up a familiar yellow disk. “Giles gave it to me before he went to talk to Lindsey.”

“He still has it? I thought he’d of made a hard copy and ditched it. Technophobe that he is.”

“It was yours.” Willow told her softly.

Ms. Calendar smiled a little sadly before taking a breath and saying, “Let’s do this, the sooner we get Angel back the better.”

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“I feel like a mummy,” Jesse said thickly as he attempted to open his swollen eyes.

There was snoring from the seat next to him and he could make out Xander fast asleep on the chair next to him. “Xan!” His voice was dry and scratchy. “Xander!”

“What?” Xander jerked and nearly fell off the chair. “Jesse!”

Jesse choked out a laugh. “Where am I?”

“Hyperion. One of the many spare rooms. Got to hand it to Angel, he’s got a good HQ. way better than the library.”

“Angel…” Jesse mumbled trying to force himself into a sitting position. “You can’t trust him! He’s…”

“I know, he went all Mr. Hyde on us again. I’m guessing you got the worst of it this time.”

“This time?”

Xander swallowed. “Ms. Calendar didn’t tell you how she died did she.”

Jesse’s battered face managed to rearrange itself into a deep scowl. “Bastard.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Xander said with a wry grin. “But they’re still trying to put him right. Get his soul back. Giles and Wes are interrogating that guy who brought you in and spazzing about some prophecy that involves lots and lots of living dead people.”

“The Master,” Jesse mumbled distantly, “did you guys kill him?”

Xander’s face darkened. “Buffy did. But that was years ago.” When she saw the look on his friend’s face realization dawned on him. “I’m going to get Giles.”

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“We’re all set.” Willow asked softly looking from Tara to Ms. Calendar.

“Are you sure you can do this?” Tara asked nervously. “I mean there’s something wrong with the magic here. I couldn’t do a thing.”

“I’ve done this before.” Willow’s face was set. “Ms. Calendar, light the candles.”

With one last look at the others, Willow took a deep breath and started the spell.

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Giles had just walked into the hallway when Xander nearly plowed him over. “Do watch where you’re going Xander.”

“Sorry G-man but we’ve got majorly bad problems,” Xander panted, “Jesse just woke up. He needs to talk with you.”

Slightly taken aback, Giles said, “I’ve been meaning to talk to him.”

Xander grabbed his arm. “So talk. Trust me. Way more important than anything Mr. Tattoo Guy can tell you.”

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The spell was going smoothly. No sudden changes in Willow. No unexpected chanting in fluid Romanian. Just a normal spell. Power from the three women filled the room and an orange mist crept into the orb of Thessula.

And that was the precise moment that things went very very wrong.

The orb of Thessula exploded, shards of glass flying in every direction. Willow cried out in shock as a piece of glass sliced her cheek. The room was filling quickly with a thick smoke and Ms. Calendar was shouting, “Is there a fire? Willow? Is something on fire?”

“I don’t know,” Willow moaned, “I can’t… there’s too much smoke. I can’t see.”

She reached out blindly, one hand catching on Ms. Calendar’s sleeve and the other hand groping for Tara, but finding only air.

Sickly realization washed over her as she continued to reach blindly for someone who wasn’t there.

Tara wasn’t there.

And Willow started to scream.

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Giles had trouble looking Jesse in the eyes. Over the years, Willow, Xander, Buffy and the rest of the scoobies had almost become surrogate children to him and it still pained him to see what the fighting had done to them. Faced with Jesse, he couldn’t help but have the same feelings wash over him. If things had gone just a little differently, Jesse would have been part of that surrogate family instead of the memory that lingered unspoken in the air for years.

“Mr. Giles,” Jesse said as a greeting and Giles was taken aback at the formality. He hadn’t been anything but just Giles in years. “Angel was there. At the place. Some girl brought him.”

“This girl, I presumed she was involved.”

“I thought she was running the show at first, but later I got the impression that she answered to someone. The things you hear when people assume you’re unconscious.”

“Do you know whom she answers to?”

“The never used names,” Jesse said before taking a loud shaking breath. “Mr. Giles. Is there any chance vampires could.” He swallowed. “Come back. Undustify of something.”

“Of course there’s a way. Look at Angel.” The look on Jesse’s face told him that the mention of Angel was not a smart move and he tried to recover. “Or Spike for that fact. Both died and were returned.” But Jesse still looked faintly ill. “But that’s not what you mean is it?”

“No.” Genuine fear crept into the boy’s voice. “I’m talking about the Master.”

Giles’s mind flashed to Lindsey talking about evil’s champions as the last piece of the puzzle slid slowly into place.

And then he heard the scream.

He looked at Jesse who blinked and said, “Willow!”

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When Giles arrived at the room, there was still a smoky haze in the room. Jenny Calendar stood up and pulled him to the side, whispering in his ear, “Something went wrong.”

Willow was sitting in the center of the room, sobbing into the arms of a bewildered Oz who was attempting to comfort her. A steak of blood ran down her tearstained cheek and the shattered orb of Thessula lie in the center of the room.

Jesse who was standing shakily behind him, clutch the doorframe for support let out a low whistle and Xander was surveying the room with open shock.

Willow rocked in Oz’s arms, hysterical sobbing forming into a single coherent phrase: “Tara’s gone.”

The doorway behind them was starting to fill with people drawn by the commotion, but Jesse and Xander still hadn’t moved from the doorway. Jesse was pointing at something on the other side of the room. “That’s not natural.”

On the opposite wall, blood red letter slowly appeared. ‘We have the witch. We hold the power. You will wait for instructions.’

Xander recovered the quickest. “I’m going to take a stab at it and say things just got a hell of a lot worse.”

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