The months after Halloween were certainly eventful if nothing else for Rachel and the rest of the gang. The Halloween possession seemed to quickly become a dim and distant memory for the others but for her the effects were pronounced and long-lasted even when you looked beyond the obvious issues of penis removal and addition of breasts and a vagina, which was still taking some getting used to for her to say the least. God only knows what would have happened if she hadn't had Ms. Calender to go to for help on that issue because Giles sure as Hell wasn't any use and Mrs. Summers would require explaining the whole Hellmouth and Slayer thing which would have likely induced a colossal amount of freaking out and recriminations for all involved.
And Willow had an alarming tendency to go bright red and bolt whenever she tried to ask her any questions. Definite shyness issues there and possible issues with having a non Xander-shaped Xander asking those things. Asking Buffy was definitely out. Talking to your former crush about feminine hygiene issues was just a bridge too far as far as Rachel was concerned. And Cordelia got way too much pleasure from embarrassing her to be any use.
The personality changes were the thing troubled her the most. Before she'd been a goof-off, more interested in having fun with her friends than anything else. Now she was like Willow or something, always itching to be learning something new that would help her in the fight. And the way she talked had changed completely. She sounded English! Now that was actually kind-of helpful with her posing as a Giles but it was still way creepy when she thought about it.
At least the combat skills were useful even if they did come and go seemingly as they pleased. Giles' training was certainly helping but it seemed to be much less effective at drawing out the instinctive skills than it should be. Perhaps something to do with the forms Giles knew being so very different to the ones practiced by Revan?
Looking back in the future she'd have it down as a toss-up as to which was more disturbing and wrong: the fact that Giles had once summoned demons and took part on orgies or the fact that Buffy slept with a freaking corpse. So Deadboy was animated and had a soul. Big deal. He was still a bloody corpse and still had a body temperature equal to the room temperature. There was a name for people who did things like that and that name was necrophiliac. Not that he'd ever say such a thing to Buffy. She was already distressed enough from the whole Angelus thing.
Oh and wasn't it fun to have Angelus roaming around killing things and tormenting the gang? Between the invulnerable apocalypse causing demons and stalking of Buffy and her friends, the fun just never stopped in the land of the Hellmouth. The Judge had been a right bastard to deal with but the Revan memories came in dead handy and the demon had proved to be less than a match for a home-made thermal detonator. Okay, a big chunk of the mall hadn't been a match for that either but the demon was nice and dead, so all was good right? You can't make an omelette without smashing a few eggs after all.
Not that the others had agreed. Oh well. Can't have everything. They came around eventually, just like they had for Ms. Calendar. The now very dead Ms. Calender. She still wasn't sure exactly why everyone had gone off on Ms. Calendar - it wasn't her fault that the curse had been broken, she hadn't even known it was possible - but it had happened and by the time the group had reconciled it had almost been too late. Good thing the group had reconciled or Giles really would be inconsolable over her death. Bad enough that she had been murdered but for her to have been murdered when they were on the outs . . . that would have been awful.
She really did miss Ms. Calendar. Having reliable, trustworthy adults to go to for advice and support was one Hell of a novelty for Rachel and losing one that she'd come to really trust and care for like that was a big blow. The rage that she'd felt when she'd came home to find it full of police dealing with the murder . . . it wasn't something she was going to forget anytime soon. It had been so all consuming that for a minute she'd seriously been ready to pull on her robes and mask and go killing. And the grief that had followed when the anger had dissipated had not been of the good either.
But that was past now and she had to put that grief and anger aside so that she could get on with the fight. Ms. Calendar was not the first or last person she would lose to the vampires and other demons in the world and wallowing in grief would do her no good at all. If she could get past Jesse then she could get past Ms. Calendar.
Of course, Ms. Calendar's murder and the battle with The Judge weren't the only things that had happened on the Hellmouth since she'd been given an involuntary sex-change and Fordham had came around to call. The afore-mentioned summoning of demons by Giles had came back to bite them all on the arse not long after Halloween and the demon - Eyghon - had stirred up some real trouble for a little while before Willow had hit on the rather brilliant idea of having it try and take over Angel and putting Angelus to good use for a change. As Buffy had said, winner and still champion. Might have been better if Angelus had lost and they'd dusted him considering what happened later, though.
After that came the assassins and the ever-popular and utterly disgusting bug man that dissolved into a swarm of maggots when you tried to kill him. That truly had been fun for all the family. The best part had to be getting locked into a basement with Cordelia. Words cannot express just how much fun there was to be had being locked into a closed space with Cordelia. By the time they'd lost patience and made a break for it, it seemed like they were either going to throttle each other or start having sex on the floor, and judging by the lack of necessary equipment on her part nowadays . . . Well, they'd eventually killed that particular creature with the help of a tube of glue of all things. And as a bonus they'd put Spike out of commission for a while - they'd thought he was dead at the time but he'd came back eventually - and Deadboy got his arse thoroughly kicked which was always good for a laugh.
Then came creepy robot guy, or Ted as he called himself. She'd felt in her gut that there was something off with that guy the moment she'd met him, but she'd been a trusting fool and eaten his drugged food which subdued her nicely. Bastard. If he had been able to feel pain, she'd have made him suffer untold agonies for that stunt. At least Buffy'd had the presence of mind to avoid his cooking even if it was more because she didn't like the idea of her mom dating than anything else. It was certainly the last she would make the mistake of eating food cooked by someone she didn't trust.
The whole thing with the creepy mind-controlling eggs was an episode she'd rather forget. She'd almost gotten into that herself but she'd woken up in time to stop the creature from taking control of her and been able to help Buffy deal with that thrice damned bezoar thing. That was an episode best forgotten as far as she was concerned. Too damn disturbing all around.
After the eggs came The Judge and with The Judge came Angel's transformation from creepy stalker guy to psycho stalker guy and the outing of Ms. Calender as Janna Kalderash, a Romany from the clan that cursed Angelus. Thinking about it, Rachel didn't really understand the curse. Not only was it punishing the human for the actions of the demon that killed him, but it was so easily broken as to be almost worthless if used on someone less likely to go off sulking for the rest of time like Angel. Anyway, that had almost broken the group. Buffy was devastated, Ms. Calendar ostracised, and the rest caught in the middle.
In the end, the gang had came out on top but it had been close. God only knows what would have happened if she hadn't had Revan's technical expertise to build an explosive that would annihilate The Judge before he zapped humanity. The bloody thing certainly wasn't going down to normal Slayer type attacks. Anyway, they'd won out that day, but Angelus had escaped a Buffy that was unwilling to kill the thing that was wearing the face of the one she loved. A shame, definitely, but not surprising. Buffy had always let her heart rule her head and this was just an other example of that.
Another item of note from that time was the addition of Oz to the gang. Something that became rather important a little after when he was turned into a werewolf. That hadn't exactly been fun but it was more of a normal scooby gang issue than invulnerable super-demons that can wipe out massive groups from a distance or souled vampires that suddenly don't have a soul. There'd been definite entertainment to be had when Buffy twisted that idiot hunter's gun into a U-shape though.
The events that followed from there were definitely not of the good. They were in fact depressing and large on the scary side. The fact that Angelus had been able to enter Willow's house at will was something that sent a real chill down Rachel's spine. Buffy could defend herself and hers if Angelus came calling but Willow would be toast. The little bits of magic she'd started to learn wouldn't help one bit against a normal vampire never mind one like Angelus.
And then Ms. Calender had been killed and left for Giles to find in his bed. That had been a dark time.
After that came the wonderful little episode where Buffy's stubborn nature landed her in hospital when she tried to take on Angelus while being dead on her feet thanks to illness and the pants-wettingly terrifying moment of facing down Angelus alone and unarmed in the middle of a hospital corridor. That was a moment that Rachel had paused to savour many times since. As terrifying as it had been, she been eyeball to eyeball with one of the most feared vampires in the world and he had been the one to back off.
She'd been sat in a chair outside Buffy's room, half asleep, when she'd heard the whistling. Looking up, she'd seen Angelus strolling towards her, not a care in the world, cocksure as ever, with a bunch of flowers. Blinking the sleep out of her eyes she'd been out of her chair in a flash and standing in Angelus's path.
"Visiting hours are over," she'd said.
"Well, I'm pretty much family," replied Angelus as he loomed over.
"Since when have stalkers been considered family?" snapped Rachel in reply. "I must have missed that memo."
Angelus leaned into Rachel as he spoke, "If I decide to walk into Buffy's room, do you think for one microsecond that you could stop me?"
"Maybe not. Maybe the security guard over there couldn't. Or those cops. Or the orderlies. Or the other people here who would step in if they saw you attacking a woman. I'm kinda curious to find out. You game?" said Rachel maintaining a perfect poker face and speaking in an icy, disdainful tone of voice.
That gave the demon pause. "Buffy's white knight. You still love her even though you've been turned into a freak of nature. She didn't give you a second glance even before, do you really think she'll even consider you now, freak?"
That got Rachel's temper up and, though she didn't realise it, her eyes seemed to flash yellow for a moment and she exuded a sense of absolute malice that even the worst demon would struggle to match before she forced the rage down and replied in an absolutely arctic tone of voice. "You're going to die, maggot, and I'm going to enjoy watching it. I'm going to enjoy every last second of watching you dissolve into dust."
Angelus almost visibly flinched at that. If she hadn't been so damn angry at the time, she'd have questioned just why a master vampire as feared as Angelus was even among his own kind would be intimidated by a teenage girl. In the end he slapped the bunch of flowers against her chest and snarled a perfunctory response before stalking off.
Yeah, that had been real fun for all the family. It had been eminently satisfying to face the bastard down though. Anyway, after that she'd helped Buffy deal with a particularly vile demon that preyed on ill children and was invisible to others and hence almost impossible to fight. It had been an absolutely insane scheme on Buffy's part to essentially poison herself so she could see and fight the demon but it had worked. A shame that Buffy didn't have particularly well developed mystical senses or she might not have needed to poison herself but she seemed to get by well enough using nothing more than quick thinking and ingenuity.
The episode with the ghosts and the group's attempt to vanquish them through magic was something best forgotten as far as she was concerned. Being chased by a monstrous swarm of bees was something that would feature in her nightmares for a long time to come.
And the fish-men. Those were truly unpleasant and even being around the infected swim-team members had made her stomach churn. A shame that they'd been unable to save many of them but you can't save everyone all of the time.
Anyway, that all paled in importance compared to the situation Rachel found herself in now. She'd been happily sat in the library reading a magic text when Buffy and Willow came charging in and Buffy loudly announced that they could give Angel his soul back all the while clutching at a piece of paper.
"What are you saying?" asked a befuddled looking Giles immediately.
"The curse," said Buffy while handing the piece of paper over to Giles. "This is it."
"Looks like Ms. Calendar was trying to replicate the original curse to restore Angel's soul," chipped in Willow.
Giles was just staring at the printout looking utterly gob-smacked. "She said it couldn't be done . . . "
"Well she tried anyway and it looks like it might have worked," replied Buffy looking like the weight of the world had been lifted off of her shoulders.
"And he killed her before she could tell us," said Rachel absently. "That demon has some serious luck on his side."
"Um, well, this, um . . . certainly points the way,but . . . the ritual itself requires a greater knowledge of the black arts than I, I, I can claim," said Giles, looking as if he was still having difficulty with processing everything.
"Well, I've been going through her files and, and researching the black arts, for fun, or educational fun, and I may be able to work this," said Willow grabbing Rachel's attention immediately.
"Are you insane?" she snapped. "The black arts? Before you've even got a basic mastery of normal magic? You're just asking for trouble!"
Willow looked hurt and slightly angry but Giles spoke up before she could reply. "Rachel has a point, even if she could have been more tactful about making it. You could open a door that you could not easily close using these magics."
"I don't want you putting yourself in any danger, Will," said Buffy, "not even for this."
"And I don't want danger. Big 'no' to danger, but I may be the best person to do this," said Willow.
"Don't we know any other witches who could do it? Or, even better, a way to restore Angel's soul that isn't a black arts curse?" asked Rachel. "Because I'm really not liking the idea of your first big spell being something like this. We're bordering on necromancy here."
"I'm afraid that I don't have any contacts that could perform this spell, not ones that are close enough to get here in time to perform it before Acathla is opened," said Giles. "And I have to say that I share your concerns about the nature of this curse but magics of this kind are incredibly rare and I know of no other ways to restore Angel's soul."
"I can do this, guys. I know I can," said Willow looking very determined.
"I'm not even sure that you should," said Rachel. "Way I see it, this curse punishes the man for the actions of the demon and as much as I really don't like Deadboy he doesn't deserve that."
"He'll be fine," said Buffy. "He was okay with being what he was before he lost his soul again."
Yeah, right. But it wasn't like she'd ever had a real conversation with Deadboy so she couldn't really argue. "And what about the way the curse can be broken so easily? All it takes is one moment where he loses his self-control and bam psycho stalker is back in action."
"Now he knows about it he'll be careful and avoid triggering the clause," said Buffy. "He lasted a hundred years and he didn't even know the curse could be broken, so he'll be good."
Rachel sighed. She'd known she had very little chance of winning this argument from the start and it was pretty obviously hopeless now. "Fine. I'd just like to note that I really, really don't like this before you go off and get curse happy."
"Noted," said a much more cheerful looking Buffy before she bustled off once more with Willow. Rachel just shook her head and went back to her book.
At the end of the school day the gang congregated in the school library. The main topics of discussion being Angelus's oh so charming methods of getting in touch - and don't vampires have any instincts for self-preservation? Sure Angelus would have killed the minion if she'd told him to get lost but it wasn't like she couldn't have just made a run for it! - and the soul curse that was going to be performed soon. Also, Kendra was back. Her watcher had detected a dark power rising and sent her trundling off to fight it. What the man was doing himself was anyone's guess as far as Rachel could tell. Kendra had definitely been last in line when they were handing out watchers.
"She said more would die. I have to go," said Buffy to Giles up on the mezzanine.
And Buffy was about to walk into a blatant trap for about the hundredth time since Rachel had met her. Some things never change.
"Den I should go wit you," replied Kendra immediately.
Buffy turned her head to look at Kendra. "No. I need you here just in case." She walked down the stairs. It seemed that she remember the debacle with The Anointed One and The Master's bones, so she did learn eventually. "I can take care of myself. And look, as long as Angel's fighting me, then he can't do this end-of-the-world ritual thingy, and that's a good." She'd reached the table at the centre of the library now. "Will, what do you think?"
Willow quickly glanced over her research. "I just wanna cross-check . . ."
"We don't have time. If this is gonna work, it has to work now."
"Okay then. I need maybe half an hour once this is all set up."
"Which means you only have to hold Angel off. Don't let him close on you," said Giles as he pulled a book from the shelves. "If the curse succeeds, you'll . . . you'll know."
Giles then tossed the book down to Rachel who quickly checked the title before handing it to Willow.
"Why don't you just wait here to find out if it worked, see if he phones you?" said Cordelia. An eminently sensible and practical suggestion to Rachel's mind.
"I can't risk him killing any more people," said Buffy. "I'd better go."
"Be careful," said Rachel as Buffy walked towards the library doors. "This has trap written all over it."
Buffy stopped and looked back. "I will," she said. Kendra walked over to her and started to have a quiet conversation with Buffy as Rachel turned away and back to Willow and the research.
Rachel was watching as Cordelia swirled incense around when a chill ran up and down her spine causing her to shudder violently. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. Her eyes darted around the library as she tried to find the source of her feeling of wrongness when she saw it. A vampire. He was coming out of the stacks and Rachel had a very bad feeling that there was more to come.
"VAMPIRES!" she bellowed as she instinctively dropped into a defensive position ready for the battle. Before anyone could do anything the front doors burst open and two more vampires came barrelling in only to be intercepted by Kendra. As Rachel dodged a clumsy blow from the first vampire she saw another entering through the stacks out of the corner of her eye. Shit, this wasn't looking good at all.
"Get out! Go!" yelled Giles before the newcomer leapt over the mezzanine rail and attacked him. At that point Rachel stopped having time to see what others were doing and was forced to fully engage in the fight to defend herself from her attacker.
The vampire was attacking like a man possessed, coming at her so fast that she barely had time to defend herself from the attacks never-mind retaliate. Left, right, left, right - her arms felt like they were going to drop off from the pain of the impacts as she took the blows on her forearms. This guy didn't have any particular skill in combat but he was damn fast and strong and she just wasn't. She swayed backwards to evade an uppercut that would have took her out of the fight in one go and threw a weak punch with her left hand that the vampire ignored completely before kneeing her in the gut and throwing her back into the stack which promptly fell over and crashed to the ground with a loud thud.
She looked up from her slightly hunched over position at the vampire and saw him coming at her with a cocky, shit-eating grin on his face. She could almost hear the thoughts of an easy meal running through his head and a black rage welled up from deep inside her. Suddenly her strength was back and she just knew what she had to do. The vampire threw a hard but wild right hook at her head but she was already moving, faster than she had any right to be, and unleashed a series of punches that knocked the vampire back against the mezzanine rail.
She needed a weapon. She really needed a weapon. Suddenly there was a short sword in her hand and a moment later the vampire was dust in the air. The rage dissipated and she looked around to see a panicked looking Cordelia and managed to bark out a quickly followed order to run before a crushing weight slammed into the back of her head and the world went dark.
"Kitten was all full of yummy darkness, she was," Rachel heard Drusilla sing as she came to. "The stars talk to her, they do, and she knows how to talk back to them."
Rachel quickly blinked the disorientation away. This did not sound or look good. She looked up from the chair she was tied to and saw all three of the vampires that had caused so much trouble this year: Drusilla, Spike, and Angelus. With them were several exceedingly dull looking minion vampires.
"And that's why you brought her back here?" questioned the highly-annoyed looking Angelus with his fists clenched. "She's no use to us! Kill her!"
"Hey, hey, hey," said Spike from his wheelchair as Drusilla made a low keening noise in the back of her throat. "She could be useful if the librarian keeps being stubborn. Might as well keep her around till then."
Angelus visibly calmed at that. "You might be right. I suppose you have your uses after all, rollerboy."
"More than I can say for you, Deadboy," snapped Rachel. "You always were a useless bloody coward and nothing's changed now you've stopped -"
A vicious slap from Angelus that rocked Rachel back and nearly toppled the chair silenced her. "Be quiet, woman," he said as Spike quietly sniggered beside him.
Rachel licked the blood from her split lip before she said anything. "I'm going to make it hurt for that, Deadboy. I'm going to make it hurt a lot, just you wait."
Angelus smirked. "You're in no position to be making threats, lass," he said before he turned around and swept out of the room. Poser.
"Might want to be quiet if you want to get out of here in one piece," said Spike before he swang around and rolled away. Something strange was going on there.
"Like that's going to happen," mumbled Rachel under her breath.
"We'll have so much fun we will," said Drusilla, swaying slightly. "I'll teach you all I know of the stars, my dark kitten, and together we'll have so much fun." Then she left too leaving behind a couple of minions to guard the exit and make sure she didn't try anything. As if. She was trussed up like a Christmas turkey and while she'd picked up some really useful skills recently, doing a Houdini was not one of them.
As her head cleared and she began to think clearly, a slowly but ever increasing rage began to simmer within her. These things had attacked her, attacked her friends, they'd taken her prisoner, they were obviously torturing Giles for information, and it seemed that she was next on the to-torture list if Giles didn't give up whatever they were after. Bloody bastards. She'd show them. No-one messed with her or hers if they wanted to live. No-one!
After what seemed like an eternity of utter boredom to her but probably wasn't all that long Spike rolled in accompanied by the minions. "You're up, luv," he said as the minions cut her free and hauled her to her feet. "Seems that the old man isn't planning on giving up whatever it is he knows."
The rage just kept growing as they dragged her out of the room. These things were going to suffer for a long, long time before they died if she had any say in it. The existence of such unnatural creatures was intolerable enough but for them to actually lay hands on her? To torture her? Their suffering would be legendary.
When they reached their destination, Rachel was dumped onto another wooden chair and again tied in place. As that happened she saw the state of Giles, who was on the other side of the room, and she audibly growled.
"Is the little freak-girl angry?" taunted Angelus bending over and leaning into her face so they were eye to eye. "What are you going to do about it?"
Rachel didn't even blink and maintained eye contact. "You might not be scared of me, demon, but the Slayer will be coming for you and she isn't going to hold back anymore when she sees this. You're all dust, you just don't know it yet, vermin."
She was about to elaborate on just how pathetic and weak Angelus really was when she was shut up by another slap to the face that twisted her head around.
"I'm going to enjoy this," said Angelus with a look of demonic glee on his face as he cracked his knuckles.
Rachel drew in a pained breath around what felt like a cracked rib or two and continued to stare Angelus in the eye. She absently noted in a corner of her mind that her body felt like one giant bruise but in the grip of an absolutely towering rage she felt absolutely none of it. In fact, the many ways she was going to make this creature suffer when she got loose were dominating her mind more than anything.
Angelus's body language just radiated frustration but it didn't seem that he was going to stop anytime soon either. Right now he'd gone back to working on Giles on the other side of the room and Rachel was using the time to take a breather and evaluate the situation in a bit more depth than she'd been able to before. It did indeed look grim. Not only was she tied to the chair and stuck in a room with Angelus but Spike was hanging around looking rather bored and there was several minions hanging around outside the door just waiting for someone to try and make a break for it.
In short, she didn't see a way out of here. And then someone shoved a filthy rag in her mouth so she couldn't speak. He was going to be nailed to a holy-water soaked cross and left to face the sunrise.
"You know, I can stop the pain. You've been very brave . . . " said Angelus as he put his hand on Giles's shoulder, "but it's over. You've given enough. Now let me make it stop," said Angelus as he walked around Giles.
"Please!" begged Giles.
Angelus kneeled in front of him. "Just tell me what I need to know."
"In order . . . to be worthy . . . "
"Yeah?" asked Angelus in a whisper.
"You must perform the ritual . . . in a tutu."
Rachel couldn't help but burst out into a cackling, almost Hyena-like laugh at that, muffled as it was. The last thing she saw before the world went dark again was Angelus's infuriated expression and his first hurtling towards her head.
Rachel came around to the sounds of fighting in the main hall of the mansion. She blinked and looked around. The three main threats were gone and Giles was still in once piece . . . barely.
Then she realised that she was on the floor and no longer tied to the chair. Angelus must have broken the bindings in his rage. She couldn't help but sneer. Such incompetence! She nimbly made her way to her feet and stretched to work out the kinks in her muscles that she'd acquired from being trapped in that chair and beaten. Her body was sore as all Hell but she would survive. She looked over at Giles and her rage spiked through the ceiling. He was a bloody mess. They'd pay for this. Oh yes, they would pay.
As her anger grew and grew two vampires came barrelling into the room. The expression on their faces spoke of confidence bordering on arrogance in their ability to deal with the two mere humans in this room. She sneered again. They'd learn. The first one, one she recognised as being the vampire who'd gagged her with that filthy, disgusting rag, moved towards her languidly, no urgency at all in his step even though it sounded like Buffy was on a real rampage outside. Rachel acted on instincts that she didn't even know she had and raised her hands, spreading her fingers wide. Then she harnessed the power of the rage and hatred she was feeling and massive, jagged bolts of lightning arced out of her fingers into the vampire blasting him back out of the room screaming in agony as his dead flesh was burnt to a crisp.
The other vampire charged at her but with a wave of her hand she sent him hurtling across the room and bounced him off the wall with a wet thudding sound. Before the vampire could attack again she made a twisting motion with her hands and tore the bloodsucker's head clean off with a particularly brutal application of her telekinetic powers.
She smiled a bitter, twisted smile. The raw, unadulterated power running through her veins quickly wiped away the pain of her injuries leaving behind only a lust for vengeance and destruction. These pathetic creatures would know their place now. These vermin would soon learn the price of attacking a Sith Lord. And then her train of thought quickly derailed. A Sith!? She quickly shook her head - what the Hell? What was she thinking? She was no Sith!
She shook her head. These was no time for this. She walked over to Giles and shook him awake. "Come on, Giles. We really need to get out of here before more bloodsuckers come calling."
No, Rachel. Come on, Giles. We need to move now. Can you walk?"
"You're not real . . . It's a trick. They get into my head and make me see things, things that I want."
"Why would they make you see me, Giles?"
"I . . . Good point. Let's go."
Rachel grunted as she helped lever Giles out of the chair and started to drag him out of the building. Bloody Hell but he was heavy! As they left she noticed one Hell of a lot of dust laying around. Buffy was definitely giving these bastards what they deserved. Thank God. It was about time she got over the whole Angel/Angelus thing and started giving these . . . things what they deserved.
As they left the mansion Rachel began to feel an overwhelming sense of impending doom and abruptly stopped.
"What . . . what's wrong?" asked Giles weakly.
"I'm not sure. Something's not right but I'm not sure what," replied Rachel with a frown on her face.
And then she felt the most awful thing she'd felt in her whole life. It felt like reality itself was being torn to shreds and replaced with something new and foul . . . and it hurt. Her head felt it was going to explode and she managed to gasp out one word before she collapsed. "Acathla."
When she woke up she was in a hospital bed and she felt pretty damn grotty. "Ouch," she muttered as she looked around the room.
"You're awake," said Giles from the chair next to her bed.
"I take it from the fact that I'm not suffering eternal torment that Acathla was closed?"
"Acathla was dormant when I checked on it," said Giles. "But I haven't seen Buffy yet and as such I have no idea what happened."
Rachel nodded and then said, "shouldn't you be in a bed too? Even Sunnydale doctors wouldn't just let you go the state you were in."
The grin Giles flashed in reply to that was more than a little vicious. "I had more important things to worry about than what some bloody doctors wanted."
"I suppose you're right. How long till I get out of here?"
"If you're up to it, you can leave whenever you want."
"Let's get out of here then. I want to see how the others are."
To say that Rachel was less than pleased when she found out that Willow had performed the soul curse after just coming out of a coma would be the understatement of the millennium.
The next day dawned bright and altogether too early for Rachel's tastes. The adrenaline she'd been running on before had long since ran out and now she just hurt everywhere. Bloody Deadboy was living on borrowed time if he wasn't already dust as far as she was concerned. She felt a little better after a long, hot shower but it was still a supreme effort on her part to work up the will to go to school. Giles wasn't any better either. Actually she was kinda surprised that he was as mobile as he was. Angelus put much more time into working him over than her. Tough old bugger that he was, he seemed to be moving around well enough.
They met up with Oz and Willow, who was in a wheelchair, along with Cordelia outside the school. Giles was a little unsteady on his feet - not that she was any different - and Willow looked a little pale and worn out, but apart from that they seemed to have came out of the whole thing fairly well.
"Willow, are you sure you should be out of bed?" asked Giles.
"Look who's talking," retorted a smiling Willow.
"Yes," smiled Giles.
"Any word?" asked Cordelia. That was something Rachel was still getting used to. A human Cordelia who actually seemed to care. Amazing!
"You guys haven't seen her either?" asked Rachel, frowning.
"No," said Willow.
"But we know the world didn't end, 'cause" said Oz looking around, "check it out."
Giles took off his glasses and squinted. "Well, I, uh . . . I went back to the mansion. I-it was empty, um . . . and Acathla was, was . . . dormant."
"I think the spell worked," said Willow looking thoughtful. "I felt something go through me."
"Plus the Orb did that cool glow thing," said Cordelia.
"I don't think it worked in time, Willow. Acathla opened and the only way to close it . . . " said Rachel, not one bit sorry that Deadboy was, well, dead. Well, maybe a bit sorry that she didn't get to do it herself.
"Would be to sacrifice Angel," said Giles looking pensive. "Oh dear."
"Well, then, she'd want to be alone, I guess," said Oz.
"Or maybe Angel was saved, and they want to be alone together," said Willow, ever the romantic and optimistic.
"Perhaps," said Giles, but they all knew it was very, very unlikely.
"Well, she's gotta show up sooner or later. We still have school," said Cordelia.
"Yeah," said Willow, looking around as if expecting Buffy to show up any minute now. "She'll be here in a while."
Quite frankly, Buffy turning up or not was the last thing on Rachel's mind right now. Buffy could take care of herself well enough. The thing that kept running through her mind was the image of lightning spewing out of her hands and the feeling of power that had ran through her as she destroyed those vampires as easily as swatting a couple of annoying little insects. She definitely needed to talk to Giles about this, but later. Right now he had enough to worry about with Buffy and dealing with the now dormant Acathla.