The Body in the Crypt


Spike wandered back to his crypt feeling pleasantly drunk and with that odd sense of dislocation that comes from a night, or in his case a day, on the tiles. A poker game at Willie's had stretched on past dawn and he had taken advantage of a rather smelly but guaranteed sun free room to sleep an hour or two before continuing the high stakes gambling. Now sunset had arrived and he was going home with money in his pockets and a glow of satisfaction from the fact that skill, not cheating had got him the pot. Skill at rigging a deck to be precise... not cheating but an art form, he thought complacently.

The crypt loomed up invitingly and he pushed open the heavy stone door and stepped inside, giving the place an automatic scan for unwelcome visitors or Buffy. If they were two different categories; he wasn't sure about that. He loved her, he yearned for her but damn, she was a pain at times.

It took him only a second to notice the corpse on the floor. Not because of his vampire senses particularly but because it was right where he walked and he tripped over it and staggered for a few feet before grabbing onto a table to steady himself. Turning round he stared in disbelief at the body of an older man in a neat black suit. In the gothic surroundings of Spike's crypt a corpse might seem to be the perfect accessory but there was something incongruous about this one.

Spike knelt down by the body, which lay on its face and rolled it over. Sightless eyes of a muddy grey glared up at the arched ceiling. Spike thought that the face looked pinched and self-righteous even taking into account the look of shock that death had left frozen into his features. Spike looked closely at the victim for a moment then, with a puzzled frown on his face, lifted the body up and peered at its neck.

"Spike! Stop that!" howled a voice. Spike turned to the door and felt his head snap back as Buffy's foot connected with his jaw. Dropping the corpse unceremoniously, he rolled back out of range and sprang to his feet with the ease of decades of practice.

He faced an enraged Slayer now, not his more or less friendly sparring partner and he mentally rehearsed the best way of telling her that she'd made a mistake without risking a further blow.

"Say sorry!" probably wasn't the wisest response but it just came out somehow. It did have the benefit of surprising her.

"Sorry?" she repeated in that sarcastic voice he hated. "Sorry for saving someone from a vampire? It's what I do, you plonker."

"Got that word from me," Spike thought with some satisfaction.

"Look at bit closer, pet," he suggested. "Not only are you several hours too late to save him but he didn't die from a bite. And in case you've forgotten, I've got this -"

"Sodding chip in your head." Buffy said absently, paying attention now to the details and ignoring Spike's theatrical rubbing of his aching jaw. "So what did kill him then? Did you see the demon?"

"Brace yourself, Slayer. As far as I can see, this is down to that good old stand by, the blunt instrument."

"Wielded by a demon?"

Spike sighed. Did no one in Sunnydale have any imagination? Demons weren't the only bad guys in town. "Buffy," he said patiently. "Did it ever occur to you that this guy might well have been murdered? A plain, simple, done foully to death by a fellow human sort of thing?"

"Oh, no, uh huh." Buffy backed away fast. "That means police and I can't get involved with them, not after all those other times, Spike."

"I'm not exactly hopping up and down dancing at the thought of the boys in blue dusting for prints and making a mess of the place myself, love but if this guy's been murdered, seems to me the Slayer would want to find out why."

"I'm not involved with that side of it, Spike, you know that!" she pointed out. "Supernatural crimes, yes but if this is run of the mill murder, well, it's a job for the professionals."

"No," said Spike flatly. "I don't know who this guy is or why he got dumped in my living room but I'm not having the police around. I'll dump the body and that's it. All sorted."

"You can't do that, Spike!" Buffy protested. "Look, I believe you didn't have anything to do with this - you didn't did you?"

"Oh, bloody charming! Now I'm a murderer!"

"Spike! You've killed God knows how many people!"

"They don't count! That was different. Anyway, I swear I never laid eyes on this guy until two minutes before you walked in."

Buffy did the searching glance routine but for once Spike seemed genuinely puzzled and innocent. An odd combination but she softened towards him slightly.

"Fair enough but there's all the forensic evidence stuff, you know, like they do on the movies. You move that body and they'll never stand a chance of getting the killer."

Spike gently pushed her away from the door and bent down to look at the floor. Turning his head, he glanced up. "Got some good news, then," he drawled. "From these marks, looks like Mr. Uninvited Guest was dragged here, presumably already dead. So this isn't the crime scene and I can dump the body, no problems."

"Stop calling him that. Search him and see if he's got I.D or something."

"Getting squeamish, Slayer? Or is it different when they're not oozing goo with four arms and tentacles?"

"It is somehow," Buffy admitted, shivering a little.

Taken aback at her frankness, Spike made no comment for once but swiftly went through the suit pockets, dumping the contents on the floor. He and Buffy examined their haul; a wallet, some change, a worn Bible, a handkerchief of dazzling whiteness and a comb.

"Doesn't look like much," said Buffy doubtfully. "What's in the wallet?"

"Got a name for Sonny Jim. You're robbing the corpse -"


"Identifying the mortal remains of one Saul Thompson, age, umm, 49, who lived, hey, he lived in the same apartment block as Harris and his bit. Well, well, the plot thickens."

"It does what? What plot? Have you been watching those British crime shows on your TV or something?"

Spike looked embarrassed. "Sometimes," he admitted. "Part of my heritage and all that. Back to my roots you might say."

"Don't make me comment on your roots, Peroxide Boy. Saul Thompson, hmm, vaguely familiar. No, can't place it. Don't recognise his face though."

Silence fell as they both avoided stating the obvious; they didn't know what to do with this inconvenient body. It didn't fit into the usual pattern and they both felt uneasy.

"OK," said Buffy finally. "How about this. We put this stuff back in his pockets and wipe off our fingerprints. Then we take the body and leave it at the entrance to the cemetery and call the police anonymously."

"Make that some place away from the cemetery and I'm with you all the way."

"This is probably illegal."

"No probably about it but I'm not exactly thinking it's going to stain my character. You take the feet end."

After their excursion, Buffy went home and Spike, with some trepidation, returned to the crypt, which didn't seem quite as welcoming. Knowing that a murderer had been in his home left him with a vague feeling of being violated somehow. Silly, really, when you thought about it, he mused. Pacing around and avoiding looking at the area where the body had lain, Spike slowly became angry. He could have cared less about some old geezer getting whacked on the head but someone had made it his problem by their choice of final resting place.

"I'm going to find out who did this," he muttered. "And when I do, I'm going to make them wish they'd toddled on a few more yards before they dumped the body."


"You're going to do what?" Buffy said in an agitated whisper, her voice squeaking as she tried to keep the volume down and the intensity up. "Spike, you can't investigate the murder; we dumped the body just so we wouldn't get involved. It was only last night; how fried were you?"

Giles gave her a puzzled look as he served the last customer of the day. Spike had come in and started to spout off some nonsense about beginning a quest for justice and Buffy had grabbed his arm and hustled him off to a secluded corner of the shop. Usually she would have rolled her eyes and suggested Spike left before she staked him. Agitated whispers were unusual. For once Buffy looked guilty and Spike looked strangely resolved. Edging a little close, Giles began to eavesdrop and lip read, two useful Watcher skills. After a minute or two he cleared his throat and called, "Buffy? Is there something you want to share with us? Before you're arrested that is?"

Silence fell. At the large round table in the corner, Willow and Tara glanced up from the books they were studying. Dawn gasped and dropped the statuette she was dusting. Anya, moving faster than seemed possible, leapt forward to catch it and after glaring at the teenager, replaced it on a shelf.

Xander was the only one to actually say anything. "Hey, Giles, if you know some juicy gossip, share, share, share. That's what friends do, right?"

"Perhaps," Giles replied, still looking rather sternly at Buffy. "Or perhaps they conspire with people not known for their probity and end up incarcerated."

"Less of that!" said Spike indignantly. "We've done nothing wrong. Quite the contrary."
"'We'?" said Xander. "Since when are you and Buffy a 'we'?"

"Since we found a dead body last night, carpenter boy. Creates a bond that does. Partners in adversity we were."

Xander sank into a chair and stared at Buffy who was looking oddly shamefaced. "Finding a body is all part of life's rich pattern when you patrol, Buff. What's got you all in a tizzy about this one? And why is chip boy involved?"

Buffy sighed and stalked over to her friends. In a few terse sentences she gave them a summary of the previous night's events and waited for their reaction.

"Buffy, you acted recklessly and endangered yourself unnecessarily!" exploded Giles. "This was nothing to do with you and by helping Spike you placed yourself at considerable risk."

Buffy stared at the floor for a moment and then faced Giles down. "Spike didn't do anything wrong, Giles and he's helped us all when we needed it. If the police had found his crypt, all sorts of questions would have been asked. Not to mention, Spike would be homeless again." She let that sentence trail off as the two men in the room who had suffered Spike as a houseguest realised the implications of her words.

”V-very well, we'll say no more about it, then. No doubt you did what you thought best at the time," Giles backtracked hastily.

Willow had been paging through the daily newspaper as they talked. She spoke up, "Says here that a body was found outside the morgue. You left him at the morgue? How time saving and thoughtful."

Tara giggled then stopped, looking guilty.

Willow read from the paper. "'The man, who has been identified as Saul Thompson, seemed to have fallen and sustained damage to the skull. Police have ruled it accidental death and commented on the slipperiness of the sidewalk in that area with a recommendation that a guide rail be installed.'" Unbelievable!"

Giles nodded, adjusting his glasses as he did so. "The Sunnydale police are so used to overlooking deaths that they seem to have forgotten how to deal with one that falls under the heading of suspicious rather than supernatural. Convenient for us, not so for the late Mr Thompson perhaps. Spike, you say you wish to take this further? Might one ask why? It seems strangely out of character."

Spike seemed to hesitate for a second or two, as though debating whether or not to answer with one of his customary quips. Looking Giles squarely in the eye, he finally said, "Bloke was put in my home. That makes it my business. Maybe it was a warning to me or something. I want to know what it was all about. Not saying I'm going to hand the murderer over necessarily but I want to ask him a few questions. Teach him some manners maybe."

Giles nodded thoughtfully and gave Spike a look of rare approval. "Just make sure you don't involve Buffy any further. She has her own duties to attend to, starting with some training. Come, Buffy."

Giles and Buffy disappeared into the training room at the back of the shop, Spike watching them leave with a faint look of surprise on his face.

Xander stood and turned to Anya. "Well, if you're all done here, let's head on home. Hopefully, a corpse free home."

"I'll come with you," said Spike.

"Umm, no you won't. And why do you want to?" asked Xander.

"Oh, yeah, Buffy left that part out didn't she. Seems the dead guy lived in your apartment building. First rule of detecting; check out the corpse's home and interview the neighbours. I'll save you two till last, expect I'll be parched by then after all that talking. You can put the kettle on and we can get all cosy."

Spike left with a swagger in his step and a smirk on his face.

Xander and Anya exchanged glances and then turned to Willow.

"Willow, read out more about this man," asked Anya. "Is there a photograph of him?"

"Yes; not a very good one but you can see his face."

Anya bent over the table and studied the grainy photograph intently. She straightened up and turned to Xander. "It's him! The one you threatened last week! He's dead and you said you'd dance on his grave. Doesn't that make you a suspect?"

As Xander began to bluster, Buffy and Giles stepped out of the shadows. "Guys," said Buffy. "Now that Spike's gone, there's something I want to tell you all. I know that man. Never actually met him but I recognised the name last night. He's the social worker assigned last month to Dawn. He wrote me a really horrible letter threatening to take Dawn away if I couldn't prove myself a capable guardian. I was going to tell you, Dawnie."

"I read the letter," interrupted Dawn. "I could see how worried you were when you opened it so I snuck after you and saw where you put it. Does that mean that we're like, suspects too? Cool!"

"Well if you are, so am I," said Giles ruefully. "The chap was one of those extremely religious types. He's around here a few times, wanted me to shut down. Said I was peddling the Devil's wares and he had friends on the Town Council who could close the shop on moral grounds."

Willow and Tara shifted uncomfortably on their seats, then Tara blurted out, "We hated him. He came to the university and gave out leaflets telling students that being gay was a mortal sin and promiscuity led straight to hell."

Willow gulped and avoided Giles' eye as she confessed, "I used a teeny spell on him and made his trousers fall down. I don't think he saw it was me, though."
Giles flung up his hands in disbelief. "So, Spike's investigating a murder and the prime suspects are all of us? That's wonderful!"

Buffy began to laugh but stopped when Giles glared at her. Looking over at Xander, she asked, "So, what exactly did he do that made you so mad?"

Xander shrugged his shoulders. "He lived directly underneath us and kept complaining about the noise. Guess we were breathing too hard or something. He grabbed Anya in the corridor and started to give her a really hard time and -"


"And her young man came round the corner, grabbed poor Mr Thompson and gave him such a scolding." The elderly woman peered up at Spike over the ball of white fluff masquerading as a dog that she held clutched to her plump chest. "I half thought about calling the police but young Mr Harris, well he did very kindly catch Lord Fluffkins when he ran away once and I'm sure it's sweet to see someone defending their, well, they're not married you know but nowadays that's just so common, isn't it?"

Spike tuned out her drivel, nodding politely at intervals and backed away slowly. When the door finally closed he rolled his eyes heavenward (a pointless action if ever there was one) and slouched off to write up his notes in comfort at a bar.

Breaking into Thompson's apartment had been easy. Once the owner was dead, Spike could enter with no problems and the lock had been child's play to force. He had uncovered an interesting haul. In one corner of the living room, stacked neatly, were some leaflets about the joys of celibacy and, as a grudging alternative, heterosexual marriage. A table held some petition sheets to shut down the Magic Box on the grounds that it contaminated the youth of Sunnydale and promoted Satanism. Spike pocketed one of the leaflets and the petition sheets.
"Shut down the place I get my weed from, will you?" he muttered. "Jerk."

Moving into an office set up in the spare bedroom, Spike found out a little more about a man he was on the way to heartily detesting. He had been married to a woman called Eliza, some twenty years older than him, who had died last month from cancer. Spike, feeling very thorough, noted down her details and paused as he recorded her maiden name. Hartley; why did that sound familiar?

He also noted down where Thompson worked; a letter from his employers advising him rather too eagerly to take longer compassionate leave had been answered tersely and negatively. The letter and its reply were stapled together in a folder marked, naturally, 'work'.

Spike wasn't sure that he could be bothered to break into Social Services and he didn't see how it was relevant. Then he flashed back to Buffy's reaction when she found out who the body was. Social Services. Dawn. Spike changed his mind and decided to check it out. A phone call the next day would do it; no need to exert himself too much.

Sitting in the bar, reading over his cryptic notes he began to see a pattern and to suspect a hoax of gigantic proportions. Downing his drink he went home. If the phone call confirmed it, he was heading round to the Magic Box to do some damage.


Spike stormed through the streets of Sunnydale, fury on his face and a righteous anger in his heart. Annoyed, definitely annoyed.
Pushing open the door to the shop he stalked in and found, as he expected, that the usual crowd was there and that each had a look of expectancy on their faces. Flipping the door sign over to 'closed', Spike slammed it behind him and confronted his suspects.

"Whose idea was it to play silly buggers with the gullible vampire then?" he demanded harshly. It came out with an undercurrent of hurt in it that gave his listeners, the female ones anyway, a twinge of sympathy.

"Spike, it's not like that -" Buffy began but he cut her off, raising his hand to halt her as she came over to him.

"I've looked into this man - and by the way, if anyone ever looked better dead than alive, he did. Does. Whatever. Anyway, what do I see? Which familiar faces do I keep bumping up against as suspects?" He paused, raking them with a scorching glance. "All of you lot, that's who! So, is this some version of Murder on the Orient Express? Or did you pay this actor to dress up dead and. - "

His voice trailed off as Willow walked towards him, the previous day's paper folded to the article about the discovery of the body. He took it from her, read it quickly and threw it back at her. "So what the hell is going on here then?" he said flatly.

Buffy walked over to him and, almost without knowing it, touched his arm gently. "There's no plot, Spike. The man was dead; you know that. We all found out last night that one way or another we had reason to be glad he was gone but none of us would have done it; you know that. The reasons were too trivial."

Spike's eyes warmed from glacial blue to summer sky blue as he absorbed her words, their sincerity and the concern on her face. "OK," he said gruffly. "But you’ve got to admit it looked funny."

"Indeed," said Giles thoughtfully. "But if he annoyed all of us so much and we barely knew him, it stands to reason that he had other enemies. Spike, in your search of his home did you see anything that would point to that?"

Spike thought for a moment but apart from passing on the news that Thompson didn't seem to have been too popular at work, he could add little.

"It seems to me," ventured Tara, “that we're starting at the wrong end."

"What do you mean?" asked Willow, glad to see Tara contributing.

"We need to find out why he was in the cemetery at all and where he was killed. Spike, can you track back from your crypt - " her voice trailed off and she flushed as a chorus of approval greeted her words.
"Well, I'm no bloodhound - " "Sounds pretty accurate to me," muttered Xander. Spike gave Xander an automatic glare but there was no heat in it and then continued," - but that should be easy enough. Should've done that sooner. In fact, I'll do it now."

"Let's all go," suggested Dawn. "We might spot something and we should get this cleared up fast."

Buffy gave her a suspicious look at this unusual cooperative spirit but had to agree that a party of eight, though conspicuous, was in little danger, even in a Sunnydale cemetery.

Once at Spike's crypt, they stood back and let him track alone. He left the crypt after scanning the area where the corpse had been, looking eager. While they waited, Dawn began to read the sheaf of notes that Spike had left on a table. After a while she stood up, a puzzled look on her face and walked towards the door.

"Dawn! Where are you going?" said Buffy sharply. "You are so not going out there alone."

"I'm not going anywhere Miss Over Protective. I just want to look at the door from the other side."

Buffy sighed, wondering if she had given her mother moments like this. Sometimes talking to Dawn made her feel as if she needed an interpreter. "It's a door, sweetie," she said patiently. "It's pretty much the same on both sides."

"But over the door on the outside is written a word. Don't have that on the inside!" said Dawn triumphantly.

Buffy rolled her eyes and huffed. "What word?"

"Hardly what?”

"Hartley, dummy. And that's important because Mr. Thompson's wife was called Hartley. It says so in Spike's notes, if any of you can be bothered to read them."

Dawn stepped back inside and waited for the applause. Instead she got ignored as an excited babbling broke out. Xander's voice rose over all the rest as he said, “And that makes Spike a suspect too! I knew it."

"Knew what? And get your feet off that table."

Xander walked over to Spike who stood framed in the doorway. "Look upwards, Spike," he said gloatingly." We've- " "Hey!" said Dawn indignantly. "OK, Dawn'sjust discovered why that man was here. His wife just dies, this is her family crypt, he came to check it out, you found him, knew your cosy little dump was at risk and bang. Killed him."

Spike shook his head in disbelief and pushed Xander out of his way, only to cry out in pain as his chip triggered. "And that, you wanker, is why I'm the only one of all you lot who couldn't have done it," he said through gritted teeth.

"I forgot that," admitted Xander. "Oh, well, back to the drawing board."

"Stupid git," muttered Spike, flinging himself into a chair and eying his guests moodily.

"So, what did you find out there?" said Buffy in an attempt to keep things focused.

Spike brightened up and launched into an involved explanation of how he'd found the spot where the man must have died. It got a bit too long for Dawn, who wandered off, exploring the shadowy corners of the crypt.

"So, looks like he fell and banged his head on a gravestone about two minutes walk away," Spike summed up. "Could have been an accident, could have been pushed. But it wasn't something bashing him on the head, the way we thought at first."

"That's interesting," said Willow. "It's technically possible to walk quite far after you've hit your head. You're dying but you don't know it. He might well have not been murdered after all. Even if that does mean the Sunnydale police were right."

"Good," said Anya, who was completely bored. "We can all go home now and Xander and I can enjoy sex without having to worry about the noise we make. Though the gag was fun."

Just as the investigation seemed to be fizzling out, Dawn made her second discovery of the night. "Is this yours, Spike? Cos if you don't want it, I don't mind taking it off your hands." Dawn stood up and turned towards the group, an ornate necklace dangling from her fingers.

Spike's eyebrows lifted. "Not mine, Niblet. Take it and welcome."

"Let me see that!" said Giles sharply. Hurrying over to Dawn he examined the necklace carefully but did not touch it. A sick look crossed his face. "Dawn, " he said quietly. "Put the necklace down. Now!"

For a moment it looked as if Dawn would obey. She walked over to a slab topped tomb and reached out her hand as though to lay down the necklace. Just as it was about to drop from her fingers, she grabbed it tightly then yanked it over her head and swirled round. The necklace began to glow with an eerie greenish light and Dawn's face twisted demonically.

"The sacrifice was made and I am here to reward the faithful," she intoned.

"What? Giles, what's going on?" Buffy whispered, looking at her possessed sister in horror.
Giles pushed her behind him and replied. "No time! Stay back."

Facing Dawn he said sternly. "He who summoned you has passed from this plane. You are commanded to leave in the name of Sagion, your master."

"I cannot leave without rewarding. The sacrifice was made. Who will take my gift?"

"No one here wants your gift, mate," said Spike, proving that age can bring wisdom. "So why don't you just push off. I'm getting sick and tired of all these goings on in my place."

The demon within Dawn howled in fury then quieted suddenly. "He who sacrificed is not gone," it said. "He is trapped within his earthly clay and will not be free until all bargains are complete. I will go and wake him that he might choose his gift."
The glow faded and Dawn collapsed in a heap on the dusty floor, sobbing hysterically. She tugged frantically at the necklace, pulled it off and threw it from her. Buffy and Tara ran towards her and the others turned to Giles.

"Talk to us, Giles," snapped Willow. "I could feel the energy that thing had and it was pure evil."

"Could you, indeed," murmured Giles, giving her a searching glance. Taking off his glasses and giving them the ritual polishing that preceded an announcement he began to talk.

"That demon was held within the necklace. As you may have gathered, our friend Mr Thompson sacrificed something, someone to it. I can only suppose it was his wife. It seems strange in view of his lifestyle that he should know of such dark magicks but no doubt many people accepted the Mayor's public facade too. In return he would have received the gift of immortality, in exchange for his soul of course."

There was a small silence and then Anya piped up, "Does this mean we have to go and kill this immortal, soulless, wife murdering fiend then? Because, maybe we can just forget it and hope he goes away? No, Giles is shaking his head so I guess not."

"It will give the gift then kill," said Giles. "The necklace should have been placed within a pentacle, not left loose. The demon is now here, in our world and nothing is controlling it. I would not be surprised if its first victim is not Thompson. Bestowing immortality is not the same as invulnerability, as Spike knows all too well. The demon would find it deliciously ironic to give the gift then kill the recipient."

Buffy rose from the floor where she had been comforting Dawn. "Then we have to get over to the morgue and stop it," she said. "Spike, Giles, Willow, you come with me. Xander, Anya and Tara, go back to the Magic Box with Dawn and see if you can come up with anything to help us. If you do, Xander, you come tell us."

There were mutters of protest but Buffy was in full Slayer mode now. With a final hug for Dawn, she raided Spike's weapons chest, grabbed a hefty axe and strode out of the crypt. Giles gingerly placed the necklace within a bag, using a pen to pick it up and headed towards the door.

"Poirot never had to deal with demons," muttered Spike sulkily as he followed them, his exciting murder now a boringly normal Sunnydale, demon related death. Giles snorted with laughter as an image of a bald Spike with a luxuriant moustache flashed through his mind.

"No, but he had far less competent help than you do, Spike."

"He had a silly ass Englishman, called Hastings, I've got an American prat called Harris. I think we have more in common than you imagine," retorted Spike.

The morgue was familiar ground to Buffy and she had no problem in getting in and heading for the place where Mr Thompson's body was most likely to be found. Of course, it was too much to expect that the demon wouldn't have got there first.

She pushed open a swing door and peeked around it. "Thought as much," she whispered. "One glowy green blob and one re-animated corpse getting all friendly."

The four dropped back away from the door to consider the best plan. “Can we put the necklace in a pentacle now?" asked Willow.
"Not unless one of us is wearing it and then that person would get sucked back to whatever hell dimension the demon comes from," replied Giles.

"Ah," said Willow. "That would not be fun. Hey, I had a thought!"


The doors swung open and Buffy and Willow walked in. "Hello again, green blob," said Buffy cheerfully. "Don't let us interrupt your twisted version of Christmas. No, second thought, let's do exactly that."

Swinging the axe, she charged at the two figures, only to be halted by an invisible barrier. The body of Saul Thompson turned and glared at her. "What business is this of yours, girl?" he demanded.

"Strictly speaking none when you were just dead but don't worry, walking corpses are my specialty. Vampires mostly but I'm broad minded and I don't work to rule."

Thompson gave an impatient hiss. "If you know what's good for you, Miss, you'll high tail it out of here. I haven't gone to all this trouble to have it spoiled by the likes of you. It was bad enough falling and hitting my head but that was just a minor setback. I will be immortal, I will finally have some fun and I will - "

"Die about two minutes from now," interrupted Willow. 'The demon is unrestrained and once the geas of the gift is broken, he'll go wild. Starting with you."

Frustration and rage struggled for supremacy. "I died before setting up the pentacle, didn't I? I was so surprised to find the crypt was being used. I called out for help but there was no one there."

"Why did you fall?" asked Willow curiously. "Did someone push you?"

"No, I was getting used to this body and I tripped up," Thompson replied calmly.

Buffy and Willow exchanged glances. "When you say, 'getting used to’ you mean -?" Buffy asked tentatively.
The figure laughed. "So you didn't work that out then?"

"You're Eliza, not Saul?" asked Willow.
"You got it witch girl. Oh, yes, I can tell. I'm one myself so I know. It's why I could swap bodies and then do the sacrifice. I wasn't spending eternity as a woman, not after being treated as second class and bullied all my life."

Buffy sneaked a look at the green demon. It hung patiently, waiting to bestow its gift, happy to have finally found the right person. "I wouldn't have thought Saul would approve of a wife who was a witch," she said.

"Ha!" replied Eliza. "No more he did. Why do you think he was so dead against that Magic Box place where I got all my supplies? But I only became a witch last year. I was all set to have some revenge when I found out about the cancer. I changed my plans, pretended to give it all up, then hit him with the transfer spell and killed him. Come the next full moon, I was all set to take my gift."

"Why did you go to your family crypt to do it?" asked Willow, still trying to buy time for Spike and Giles.

"Sentimental reasons, mostly. It was quiet, at least I assumed it would be and I planned to put my old body in it. The ashes anyway. I got sick of them being on the mantlepiece. And that's enough talking. I don't know what your friends are doing out there but I want my Gift."

With the last words she whirled round and plunged within the green glow. Buffy ran for the door and yanked it open. Spike threw her the bag with the necklace in and she tipped the necklace out onto the floor. Picking it up with the bag she ran to the merged figures and dropped it over Eliza's head. The glow began to intensify and then vanished.
"I am immortal" grated the body, staring with blank, green eyes at the girls. "I am hungry."

It reached out to them and they swiftly moved back into the corridor, luring the demon into their trap. The demon followed, blindly clawing out at them and walked into an incomplete pentacle, halting as they did. Spike came out of the shadows and completed the pentacle as Giles distracted the demon by a rather wild arm waving.

As soon as the pentacle closed, he and Willow moved forwards and linked hands. "A simple banishing spell should suffice," said Giles."Do you know the one that starts, 'Begone, foul spirit, I thee abjure'?"

"Like the back of my hand. On the count of three..."


"So, Saul, Eliza whoever got possessed just like Dawn did?" asked Anya.
"Yes and once the demon was where he should have been, within the pentacle, it was simple to banish the pair of them."

"So where did the necklace come from in the first place?" asked Dawn.
"I imagine that the demon's master, Sagion, who gains the power of each sacrifice, places the necklace where the unwary can pick it up or the knowledgeable use it."

Dawn shivered. “So, is it quite common then? Magic jewelry?”

"Oh, yes. Very traditional. It appeals to greedy mortals, you see. Why?"

"No reason," said Dawn, vowing to spring clean when she got home.


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