Chapter 1: here
Chapter 2: here
Chapter 3: here
Chapter 4: here
Chapter 5: here
Chapter 6: here
Beth looked across the Bronze at Xander playing pool by himself. She knew she had to play this just right. Beth wasn't supposed to know that Spike had been hurt or maybe dead. Beth had supposed to have been home in bed on her day off. She had played the part earlier with Jack and Clem, and she felt bad that she had deceived her friends. However, Beth wasn't comfortable telling anyone her big secrets yet. She carefully arranged her features to look worried, and she crossed the club to talk to Xander.
"Hi, Xander," Beth said quietly, "Spike was supposed to come by after the ritual last night, and he didn't. I'm getting worried. Have you heard anything or seen him?"
Xander whirled when he heard the soft voice behind him. He felt shame that he had forgotten about Spike's little girlfriend. "Beth. Oh my God, nobody told you, did they?"
"Told me what?" Beth asked, "Did something bad happen?"
Xander tossed the pool cue down on the table, and he reached for Beth's hand. The night before while Spike had shown the teenager some pool tricks they had talked about the girl. Xander had already seen how precious the master vampire treated the girl, and he had heard the affection in Spike's voice when he spoke to and of the girl. Xander was slightly sickened that the Scoobies had forgotten all about the girl so quickly. They hadn't even thought of tracking the girl down to let her know of Spike's fate. Xander led Beth to the table she usually occupied with Spike.
"The ritual went fine," Xander informed Beth, "But then the assassin showed up. During the fight, the church caught on fire. Spike and Dru were trapped. We never saw them come out."
Beth finally let the emotions she had been holding in since the night before come to the surface. It was safe now to release them. Beth the girl could be hysterical. She could need her friend Jack to call her friend Clem to come take her home, give her some hot chocolate laced with pig's blood, and tuck her into bed as she still laid there sobbing. The Specter had to be strong, her emotions always in check and controlled.
"I'm so sorry, Beth." Xander wrapped his arm around the sobbing girl. "I hope to God we're wrong, but I'm afraid he might really be gone."
Beth nodded her head in understanding. She continued to sob on Xander's shoulder, and she clung to her pseudo friend awkwardly.
Xander motioned for Jack to come closer. He briefly relayed what he could to the bartender that he knew was Beth and Spike's friend. Jack understood what needed to be done, and she called Clem to take Beth home and watch her.
Several days passed before Beth approached Xander, again. This time her mission was of a different sort. She wanted to check on Spike. While she would have no problems sneaking as the Specter, Beth had seen how the apparent loss of the vampire had affected the teenage boy, too. Beth knew he had bonded with Spike over a mutual hatred of Angel and the mutual enjoyment of pool. She told Xander that one of the minions delivered a message to her the night before that said that Spike was alive, but gravely injured. Xander expressed instant worry, and he quickly agreed to accompany her to the vampire's lair.
The unlikely duo met after Beth's shift at the Bronze, much like she had been doing with Spike. They had a different destination in mind though than Beth's apartment. The pair silently slipped through the darkness towards the factory that Beth knew Spike had taken over from the Anointed One.
As Beth and Xander peeked inside the factory door, Xander whispered, "Do you think you can stake a vampire?"
"Yes, Spike showed me how," Beth whispered back. She held back a comment about how well she could stake vampires. She slipped inside the factory, and she extended her senses. She located Spike quickly, but she followed Xander's lead so not raise his suspicions.
The pair quickly located the master vampire. Beth rushed to Spike's side only to find him still seemingly unconscious. She couldn't feel the connection with him like she had the night before until it dawned on her she had been in Slayer mode when that had happened. The realizaton that it probably it would only happen while she was the Slayer was a disconcerting one. Beth gasped when she saw the burn marks that marred the entire right side of Spike's face.
"Oh Spike," Beth whispered, "Your beautiful face."
"M'not beautiful, m'handsome," Spike's gravelly voice broke the silence of the night.
Beth was startled by the vampire's slurred voice. She clutched Spike's hand in one of hers as she put the other one, knuckles first, against the uninjured side of his face. "I got so worried when you didn't meet me after the ritual was over." she murmured softly.
"Just a little hurt here, pet. I'll be as right as rain in no time," Spike's voice slurred as he spoke, and Beth realized it was from some sort of drugs, "Vamp healing. Up and walking again soon."
"You can't walk?" Xander asked quietly, "Oh man, that's not good." Xander was now deeply concerned for his new found friend. If you had asked the teenager just a few short days ago if he would ever consider having a vampire for a friend, the answer would have been a resounding 'no' at the top of his lungs, but now things had change.
"Harris, 's that you?" Spike turned to look at the boy. "You ask the Slayer that question, yet?"
"Yeah, I did, pal," Xander reassured his friend, "You were right. Forgiveness all around."
All three of them stopped talking when they heard a loud banging noise from outside the factory. Spike directed Beth and Xander on how to reach the backdoor, and the pair was out and gone before any of the minions were even inside. Seeing his friends helped boost Spike's morale, even as it appeared Dru behavior became stranger and stranger.
Beth's mind was on Spike when she arrived at her mom's to meet the new man in her mom's life. She let herself in the backdoor of the house on Revello Drive, and she found a strange man cooking dinner at the stove.
"Hi, there," he said, "You must be Beth. I'm Ted." Ted held his hand out for Beth to shake.
Beth politely took Ted's hand. She tilted her head, and she looked at him curiously. Something about him was off! She extended her vamp senses. She heard no heartbeat and no blood pumping. Beth smelled motor oil and nothing else on the man. She could see no heat coming off of him in the way she had become accustomed to noticing with both humans and demons. Even vamps had their own special heat signature to the turned Slayer.
"Beth, you're here early," Joyce's voice broke through Beth's assessment of Ted, "I wasn't expecting you for at least another thirty minutes."
"Hey, mom. Jack let me off early so I could meet your new guy," Beth replied. She removed her hand from Ted's. She moved around the kitchen gathering placemats and silverware to set the table.
"You've only set two places, Beth. Is there a problem?" Ted asked. He turned his back on the two Summers' females, and he went to the oven where he pulled out several cooked mini pizzas. He failed to see the look that passed between the two women.
"I'm sorry, Ted. I forgot to tell Beth that you were cooking. So, she probably ate dinner at work," Joyce rushed to apologize.
"Oh, where do you work, Beth?" Ted asked. He slipped the mini pizzas on two plates, and then he gestured for Joyce and Buffy to take their seats. Ted placed one plate in front of Joyce. He took his own seat, but instead of eating he stared curiously at Beth.
"I work at the Bronze as a bus person," Beth answered. She folded her hands in her lap when she noticed that Ted wasn't eating either.
"Aren't you a little young to be working in a nightclub? Joyce, how can you let her work in such a terrible place?" Ted questioned the two women. He noticed Joyce wasn't eating, and he pushed the plate a little closer. A quick flash of ire went through his face when he saw she still didn't begin to eat.
"Not getting any older," Beth muttered. She had noticed the flash of anger on Ted's face.
At the same time, Joyce said, "Beth has a mind of her own, Ted."
"Still, that just doesn't seem right."
"Well, it doesn't seem right to me that you'd date my mother and forget to tell her you're not human," Beth growled. She narrowed her eyes as she stared at the 'man'.
"What do you mean, Beth? Is he a demon?" Joyce asked. She was up and standing behind Beth before Ted had time to react to Beth's statement.
"I have no idea why would say something like that to me, young lady. I'm just as human as you are," Ted announced.
"Really?" Beth snarked. She slipped into game face. "Then explain to me why you have no blood, no heartbeat and no scent."
"What the hell are you?" Ted leaped from his chair in shock. "Joyce, did you know about this?"
"I'm a vampire, Ted," Beth snarked, "I have better than normal hearing, and of course, my mother knew about this. We don't have any secrets from each other."
"Joycie, come over here away from that deviant." Ted darted around the table to grab at Joyce, only to find his way blocked by the petite vampiress. Every move he tried to make towards the older woman was instantly blocked by the insolent little girl. Finally, Ted raised his fist and hit Beth as hard as he could across the face.
"Deviant?" Joyce yelled indignantly, "I'll show you who's a deviant." She grabbed the kitchen fire extinguisher.
Beth's head turned to the side from the force of the blow. She turned her face back towards him and growled, "Ouch. Was that supposed to hurt?"
"Get the hell away from my daughter," Joyce screamed. She smashed the fire extinguisher into the side of Ted's head as hard as she could. Joyce jumped back in surprise when his head popped off and flew across the kitchen. Joyce looked at Beth, and she asked, "Was that supposed to do that?"
"Go mompower." Beth pushed the headless body into one of the kitchen chairs. Then she turned to her mother, and she noticed the wild look in her mom's eyes. "Are you okay, Mom?"
"Nobody lays a hand on my little girl." Joyce dropped the extinguisher, and she hugged Beth. "Um, dear, we have a headless," Joyce peered that the body. "Robot in the kitchen."
"I see that, mom. Where did you meet this guy, again?" Beth walked over to pick up the head from the spot it had landed.
"He sold computer software. He redid the entire system at the gallery." Joyce grimaced at the sightless eyes staring at her. "He said it would free up my time."
"Well, this will certainly free up his!" Beth laughed. She suddenly realized she was still in game face, and she shook it off. Beth suddenly had a thought. "Mom, did you find him or did he find you?"
"He approached me in the gallery one day a few weeks ago. Why do you ask?" Joyce's voice was filled with concern and curiosity.
"Maybe he was setting you up for a robbery," Beth informed her mother, "Or worse yet, what if it was because the identity of the Specter has been discovered."
"We can't leave it here, Beth. It gives me the, how do you say it, the wiggins."
"I know that, Mom," Beth sighed as she tried to come up with a plan, "The bad thing is that the Slayer and her friends don't know I'm a vampire. They certainly don't know I'm the Specter." She tapped her cheek with her fingertips as she thought. "If I ask them for help, they'll think I was attacked because of Spike or something he did."
"We could take it to your apartment where we could stage the fight and beheading," Joyce thought out loud, "Take the extinguisher with us. You can say you came home and surprised this guy going through your apartment. You thought he was a regular burglar until you hit him over the head with extinguisher and it popped off."
"Sounds like a plan, Mom," Beth replied, "I'll get those dark drapes Aunt Darlene pawned off on you. While I'm wrapping him up, you pull the jeep around to the alley."
"Head, check." Beth pointed to where she had tossed the robot's head. "Body, check. Extinguisher, check. Jumble of possessions, check. You better scoot, Mom. I gotta call Xander. He can tell the Slayer and Willow about my visitor." Beth gave her mother a hug, and she ushered the older woman out of the apartment. She took a deep breath before she picked up the phone to dial Xander's number.
The phone rang several times before the teenage boy answered, "Grand Central Station, Xander Harris speaking."
Beth giggled in spite of herself. "Hey, Xander. It's Beth." She turned to look at the headless robot that laid on the floor. "I gotta problem here. I came home to find what I thought was a burglar..."
"Beth, are you okay?" Xander interrupted, "If you get hurt, Spike will have my hide." Even though he knew there was nothing he could do to stop a burglar at Beth's apartment, he did feel responsible for looking out for her.
Beth rushed to assure the boy, "I'm fine, Xander. I hit him over the head."
"Is he dead?" Xander rambled off the questions quickly. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Xander, let me finish," Beth laughed, "It's kinda hard for something to die that wasn't living in the first place.." She exhaled loudly. "His head popped off, and imagine my surprise when it turned out he was a robot."
"A robot? Okay, that's not of the good," Xander exclaimed, "Why the hell would a robot be in your apartment?"
Beth could tell Xander was thinking out loud. For all the living in Egypt the boy did, he was really very sharp. He had a lot brighter mind than he let on to the others he hung out with. Beth smiled, glad that he gave her the opening that she needed. "I think he might be an assassin. I've never seen him before tonight, and I usually see a lot of people at the Bronze."
"Shit," Xander sighed, "I'll get the others. We'll be there in a few minutes."
"Thanks, Xander. Talk to you in a few." Beth hung up the phone. She spent the next few minutes wandering around her apartment making sure that all the clues to her vampirism were hidden. Beth was very glad that she kept her pantry stocked with foods for Clem and Jack. So, she would be able to at least offer her visitors something to drink besides water.
Beth paced the apartment. Time stretched out and felt like an eternity, but in reality it had only been 20 minutes when she heard a knock on the warehouse apartment's door. Beth rushed to the door, and she whispered, "Is that you, Xander?"
"Yeah. Let us in." Xander answered. His voice was muffled by the heavy door.
Beth hurriedly opened the door for Xander, and she found he was accompanied by Cassie, Willow, Giles, and a girl she assumed was Cordelia. She welcomed them into her home. As they stood around staring at Ted, Beth felt the silent urge of her absent mother to offer her guests refreshments. She got her guests sodas while Cassie and Giles took Willow's suggestion to search the body for any clues of identification.
In the robot's pockets they found the keys to his house and his wallet that contained a driver's license in the name Ted Buchanan. The address on the ID was for a nicer section of town; not too wealthy, but not too low-rent either. While they sipped their drinks, the group decided to pack the body up in the trunk of Giles's car for transportation to the high school library. It was also decided that the group should check out the address on the ID to see if any connection could be made between the robot and the Order of Taraka.
Beth brought out the drapes that she and her mother had used to transport the body from Joyce's to Beth's. She gave them to Cassie, who with the help of Giles, wrapped the body. The pair promptly stowed it away in the trunk of Giles's car. Then, Giles, Cassie and Willow piled into Giles's old gray Citroen , while Cordelia, Xander and Beth went in Cordelia's flashy convertible.
The group stood outside the innocuous looking house. There were no lights on, but luckily Giles had a flashlight in the glove box of his car. Giles held the flashlight while Cassie sorted through the keys until she found the right one. Cassie turned the key in the lock, and the door swung open.
Beth trailed the others into the house. She hoped that because Ted was a robot she would be able to get inside. Beth had learned accidentally that if she was in Slayer mode she didn't need an invite into a home. She breathed a sigh of relief when she entered the house without incident.
Cassie flipped on the living room light, and she directed Xander to search the hutch. Willow and Beth went into the dining room where they found a desk to search. Giles and Cordelia searched the kitchen.
"Look what I found," Willow yelled. She waved some papers in the air. "So far I've counted four marriage certificates."
"Any divorce papers?" Xander asked. He entered the room behind the .
"I haven't found any." Willow shuffled through the papers. "Whoa, 1957? Ted musta married young. Like preschool young. Here's marriage certificate for '67, another for '77, and the last is for '87. That's majorly weird that they are all 10 years apart."
Giles and Cordelia entered the dining room from the kitchen. Giles was holding a bottle, and he was studying it carefully. He looked up to see the others looking at him expectantly. "This is a prescription for Dematorin. It's really powerful, and only prescribed for the most violent of schizophrenics. It keeps you mellow and compliant, and it shares a few components with Ecstasy."
"It's neat as a pin, everything in its place. Guys, look at that rug!" Cordelia exclaimed loudly. She looked down at the floor under her feet. "It doesn't go with the rest of the decor."
Willow and Xander looked down at the rug, and then at each other. "You thinking what I'm thinking," they both said at the same time. Then they both nodded. Xander waved the others off the rug, and then he lifted it off the floor. Unsurprisingly there was a trapdoor beneath the rug.
Cassie pushed down the ladder, and it unfolded down into the basement. She climbed down first. In a few minutes, they had all descended the ladder. Cassie searched around for a light switch. When she flipped it to the on position, lights came on and nearby a record player started to play music. The group noticed that the basement had been turned into an apartment-like setting.
"Feels like home." Cordelia said, sarcasm dripped from her voice. "If it's the fifties and you're a psycho."
The group continued to look around. Cordelia flipped through some magazines while Willow opened curtains to find a fake window behind them. Giles and Cassie searched through a desk. Xander found a closet.
"Whatcha got in the closet, Ted?" Xander asked rhetorically. He opened the door, and he shined the flashlight inside. Xander's eyes opened wide. He slammed the door hard, and he backed up.
"Xander?" Beth asked, "What's wrong?"
"What's in there?" Willow questioned.
"The four dead wives," Xander answered in shock.
Cassie crossed to Xander, and she took the flashlight from him. Then, she opened the door herself. Cassie shined the light into the closet until she found the string to the light bulb. She pulled the string, and the closet was flooded with light.
"Those women could all be sisters. Just look at the preservation techniques the robot used on them. They look like they are sleeping," Willow observed. She failed to notice the strange looks she was getting. "Oh my god, it's a serial killer robot!"
Everyone was so intent on the bodies, that they didn't see that Beth had paled at the sight of the bodies. She knew why Ted had wanted her mom. She was the spitting image of the dead women. Ted wasn't an assassin or an art thief. He was just a criminally insane piece of artificial intelligence.