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Author's Note: A completely original story this time, but in keeping with the main arch of the series, as I focus on one of my neglected characters. I thought it only right that I should pay some attention to them, otherwise what would be the point of keeping them in the series? It does borrow a few lines from the original fourth episode,- as well as some from Ats; I Will Remember You -but ignores the plot completely. Enjoy.


Visions.

It wouldn't come. No matter how hard he tried, nothing happened. Silently he glanced at the clock, noted the lateness of the hour, and sighed, giving up the attempt for what little was left of the night. As his eyes took the journey from the timepiece back to their more immediate surroundings, the pupils encountered their owner's usual follow through for before falling asleep. Hands moved habitually towards the desired the object, until the mind caught up with what they were doing, and halted the motion altogether.

Doyle brought the wayward hands up to his eyes and with another sigh sank into the confines of his sofa. He considered the facts. One- another week gone and they had found nothing out about Elita. Two- Despite Elita's certainty that the slayer was meant to help her, every authority on the slayer offered nothing which referred to such an event. And three- he had not had a vision since the summer.

From the moment Elita had come to them; or rather, was rescued from Harmony and her minions by Buffy, Doyle had been expecting to receive a vision about her. He had been sent to Sunnydale to help the slayer, so his ability to see the future should have given him the reason why Elita had been sent to them. Or why she was trying to trick them. But he had received nothing. Not even a hint.

He had received a vision about Tara when she was in trouble. He had received visions about the Initiative. He hadn't received visions about the first slayer invading dreams, but then that was Buffy's field of expertise, not his. Why hadn't had a vision about Elita?

Sighing in exasperation, Doyle risked removing his hands from his eyes to glance at the clock on the wall. Five minutes had passed since his last check, but due to his frustration time seemed to be as slow as his visions.

Determinedly, he picked up the bottle of whiskey and rose from the sofa, putting the temptation away in a locked cupboard. Getting drunk right now would hardly help matters. He only resorted to that when he was alone. Since arriving in Sunnydale, he could no longer claim that excuse.

Turning away from the cupboard, Doyle resumed his previous seat. He took his mobile out of his trouser pocket and turned the device on. Pressing the speed-dial he put it to his ear and waited for the other line to pick up.

"You're lucky I don't need beauty sleep," was the greeting he received after the end of the dial tone. Descrying the underlying affection in the tone, Doyle smiled as he spoke into the receiver.

"Hey 'delia."

"Right back at ya," the former cheerleader replied, all sarcasm gone. "Is this call the same reason as the night before? And the night before that?"

"'fraid so."

"You miss the sound of my voice that much?" She questioned, making him laugh.

"That too," he replied.

"Listen, you've gotta stop fretting over non-vision thing," Cordelia told him seriously. "It's probably half the reason you haven't received any message from the PTB about her."

"And the other half?"

"That she's tricking us due to some nefarious plan to kill the slayer or the end of the world as we know it," she answered.

"Way to make me feel happier, darling," Doyle attempted to joke back.

She saw through it. "It's the way it is. She's either good, or evil. And considering the lack of stuff we've found about her, most of us Scoobies are leaning towards the evil category at the moment. Including Buffy."

"Even though she's staying at the Mansion?" Doyle queried.

"Well, she doesn't say it, but you know Buffy. If someone is potentially dangerous, she'd rather have them under her roof than anyone else's. I think the only reason that she hasn't come straight out with it, is because it would let Elita know we're on to her. If we should be that is."

"Maybe you're right," Doyle conceded. "All Elita problems aside though, when was the last time I received a vision?"

There was silence from the other end of the line while his girlfriend thought about this. "During the summer," she replied at last. "that army of Nazi demons we had to deal with. The Scourge."

"Right," Doyle agreed. "Now, why didn't I receive anything about Toth? Or Dracula for that matter?"

"Okay, you've got me there," Cordelia reluctantly agreed. "What do you want to do about it?"

"I'm not sure. Usually I'm pleased not to have the mind-numbing visions, but since I joined you lot....." Doyle sighed. "I can only think of two things; Inducing them with a spell or drugs."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"I don't know," Doyle replied.

"Okay. So, first thing tomorrow morning, we'll consult Jenny about a vision inducing spell," Cordelia decided. "And if that doesn't work, we'll take it from there. Agreed?"

"Agreed," Doyle affirmed.

"Good. Now, go and get some sleep."

"Yes ma'am," Doyle acknowledged, making her laugh. "Goodnight, 'delia."

"Goodnight. See you tomorrow morning."

 


"You can't possibly be arguing that Marat didn't betray the French Revolutionaries. This was the guy who declared the rights of man, and then the next thing you know he's ... killing Girondins like it's going out of style."

Buffy shook her head. "Will, you're totally missing my point. Now, I agree that Marat wasn't a real martyr, but the death in the tub ... the neck wound, all that blood, just a little more fang-y than knife-y. I mean, Charlotte Corday wasn't a real martyr either, but..."

"Buffy!" Willow cried as she suddenly came to a halt in the middle of the campus corridor that next morning.

"What?" Her best friend asked her, as she and Tara stopped walking too.

Willow ginned. "Listen to us! We-we're arguing! We're having a debate about a college lecture! I have dreamt of this day since ... forever! You are turning into quite the student. Should I be watching my occipital lobe?"

The slayer's smile changed into a frown. "Your what?"

"Occipital. The lobe in the back of your brain. You know, like, 'should I be watching my back?' But, you know, the ... back of your brain."

"Apparently not," Buffy replied. "Don't worry, Will, you still wear the smarty-pants in the family."

"I don't know," Willow remarked. "You've been studying ... really a lot."

"I'm trying," Buffy confessed. "But they're really piling on the reading, and Giles fills any free time I have with extra training ... I'm starting to think this working hard is hard work."

"Isn't it crazy like that?" Willow sympathised.

"I thought it was gonna be like in the movies. You know, inspirational music ... a montage, me sharpening my pencils, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked, 'cause in my montage I have glasses. But real life is slow, and it's starting to hurt my occipital lobe."

"Aw. Poor Buffy's brain," Willow said, patting her on the head.

"Thanks, I think," the chosen one returned. "Actually, I'm heading to training now. Do you two wanna come with?"

Tara nodded, while Willow replied, "I'm in. Don't we need to swing by the Professors' rooms first?"

"No, Angel has class, Giles already left, and Doyle and Jenny have this morning off. What about Oz? Isn't he free?"

Willow shook her head. "No, extra Dingoes practise session. Just us three then. But Maybe we can argue some more about the French Revolution. Hey! Wasn't that Robespierre the coolest?"

"Robespierre?" Buffy looked at her. "You're kidding me, right?"

"I'm just getting it going," Willow replied as they started walking again.

 


"Oh! Who put the monkey heads near the Styx water? Do we want to pick exploded monkey out of our hair?"

"Anya, will you stop messing with the layout already?" Spike returned as she glared at him.

"I wouldn't be messing around with it if you laid out things properly in the first place!" Anya returned as she moved the monkeys heads to another shelf.

"I knew I shouldn't have brought this bloody place. It's become another Scooby headquarters," Spike muttered as he went to answer the door.

"Trick or treat!" Buffy joked at him.

"Hello you three, come on in," Spike replied, standing aside to let them pass.

"Thank you, kind proprietor," Willow added as they stepped over the threshold. Her eyes cast an awed gaze around the shop. "Wow, this place looks great. Oh, I feel like a witch in a magic shop." She paused to pick up a jar from a nearby table. "Ooh. Are these real newt eyes?"

"Nah, too ... rich for my blood," Spike said. "Giles got them from a contact he knew."

The watcher nodded in agreement before explaining. "No, those are salamander eyes, it's the cataracts which give them their newt-like appearance. They're really equally effective, though, it's just a matter of overcoming snobberies."

"I'm telling you, Giles," Xander began, "you gotta set up a blind taste test and prove once and for all that generic amphibian eyeballs are just as good."

"I don't know," Willow remarked. "If you ask me, the newt name still means something."

"You ready to train?" Giles asked Buffy.

"You betcha," she replied, setting down her books. Together they headed off into the back of the building.

Spike watched them go then went to join Tara at the larger table situated on the other of the shop floor from the cash register. "Penny for ya thoughts?"

"I just keep thinking how cool it would be, if we got a real psychic to sit up here and read fortunes and stuff."

"You should do it, luv," Spike decided.

Tara shook her head. "Not me. But, but I'd love to, to watch and learn. From someone who's really good, you know?"

"You're really good," Spike persisted. "I've seen you with that set of yours during the summer. You handle them like any pro-poker player handles cards. I'll prove it," he paused holding out his hands. "Here, do mine."

Tara obliged, taking hold of them with her own. "Hmm," she said after a moment.

"What do you see?" Spike asked her.

"Spike hands," Tara replied, smiling.

He smiled too, and the realms of the world faded away from their occipital lobes, until the bell above the door rang again, causing them to glance at the new arrivals.

"I agree with you that it is something to be concerned about," Jenny Calendar-Giles was saying as she came in, Cordelia ahead of her to keep the door open for the pushchair carrying Ellis, Doyle behind them. "But I don't think you should be looking to induce them either. Spells for that are very dangerous, not to mention drugs."

"I wasn't thinking dope or anything like that," Doyle replied as the door closed behind him. "Those don't affect Brackens anyway. I was thinking more of the mandrake or nightshade variety."

"Well, you've come to the right place for those," Wesley remarked as he put down the book he was studying. "Having trouble with your visions?"

"How did you know?" Doyle asked him.

Wesley shrugged. "Simple deduction via observation of the eyes. You have a red rims around them, suggesting........"

"Okay, Sherlock, do you know where these are?" Cordelia interrupted, her sarcasm making him drop his previously assured tone.

"He should do," Spike said decidedly as he came towards them. "Spends more time here than he does at the firm, don't ya?"

"It's been a quiet month," Wesley protested. "And what with Elita on the scene, I thought I'd best serve the group by assisting Giles with the search through the books."

"Fourth bookshelf, second shelf from the top," Spike directed, before walking over to the location in question, wrenching a potion bottle from Anya's hand's on the way.

"Hey!" The former vengeance demon replied. "Do you know how much they cost?"

"Yes I do!" Spike returned. "And if you move anything else, you're paying for a years supply of them."

"Not too much," Jenny advised as Cordelia carefully took the required jars down from the shelf. "An overdose can cause madness."

"Speaking of madness, has anyone seen today's paper?" Wesley asked, before brandishing his copy from his pocket. "There's been quite a few people admitted to the hospital for such symptoms during this month."

"I saw it," Tara replied, laying down the tarot cards. "The poor people. I didn't realise it was still so common."

"It isn't," Wesley informed them, "not at this rate, anyway."

"Something to inform Buffy about?" Willow asked, as she studied the article in the former watcher's hand.

"It could be supernatural," Wesley agreed. "But I was going to do some more research before asking her. She's got enough on her plate anyway."

"She has," Willow agreed. "It was nice of you to offer that room in the back as a training room, Spike."

"Common sense," the chipped vampire returned as he adjusted a item nearby. "The Mansion hasn't got any space, nor have Giles and Jenny. Beside, the minute I signed the lease, you guys started hanging out here."

"You like us really, Spike." Willow remarked.

"Some of you, maybe," Spike conceded, looking at Tara. She met his gaze with her own, and involuntarily smiled.

Wesley observed the two with internal concern, then covered himself by picking up and opening another book.

 


"Oh my god," Buffy cried out. "Look at this place!"

The training room Spike had tried to dismiss as nothing meanwhile, was causing comments of praise from the slayer. A punching bag suspended from the ceiling, and a vaulting horse was nestled amongst some mats. Against the far wall stood a set of weights, and some thought had even been given to interior flourishes, with ancient symbols painted on the floor and walls.

Buffy turned to Giles and Xander, who had followed them into the room. "Thank you. Thank you ... so much."

Giles removed his glasses and began cleaning them. "It's just a start, you need a proper space to train, so....."

"I love it," Buffy assured him. "It must have been so much work."

"I'm the dummy man," Xander replied. "I mean, I ... made the dummy. The thing that you hit that doesn't hit back. That, I made."

"It's great," Buffy affirmed. "It's all great."

"Well, you've earned it," Giles said, putting his glasses back on. "Truly."

"Thank you guys so much. You're like my ... fairy godmother and Santa Claus and Q all wrapped up into one. And I mean Q from Bond, not Star Trek. I'm gonna go change."

 


"Anything?"

Doyle opened his eyes. "No," he replied, making her sigh. "It's not working." He reached forward, towards the jars.

Cordelia grabbed his wrist, making him wince. "Hey, it's not whiskey," he pointed out to her.

"No, these are more dangerous than alcohol." Cordelia took his hand in both of hers. "Remember what Jenny said, an overdose could cause madness."

"'Delia, I'm half Bracken," Doyle reminded her. "I think I my body can take a bit more than your average human."

"Fine, on your head be it," his girlfriend remarked, releasing his captive hand.

Doyle smiled reassuringly at her, then picked up the jar. Silently he lifted the cap and inserted a spoon. Once he covered the latter completely in the deadly plant, he carefully lifted it out and put it in his mouth. Wincing at the bitter taste, he swallowed and closed his eyes.

Black nothingness descended on his pupils. Doyle relaxed his posture, waiting.

Suddenly, he felt the ringing sound in his ears. A stream of images rushed into his brain, too rapidly for him to focus at first. Then gradually the speed slackened, enabling him to define surroundings, time, people.

He saw a swirling light. A ball of energy, surrounded by the barrier of a darkened room. Brown monastic robes. Whispering voices, the sound of prayers, or chants. His head began to pound. He put a hand up to his temple, only to realise the noise was in his vision. A door was being forced open.
Panic took hold of the some of the chanting voices. The door resisted a few seconds longer, then surrendered, falling to the floor. Something walked inside.........

The last thing Doyle remembered seeing was the terror on the monk's faces before he lost consciousness.

 


"How is he?"

Cordelia turned round and relaxed a fraction as she saw the rest of the Scoobies come to a halt behind the slayer. "I don't know, they're still examining him."

"What happened?" Jenny asked as Buffy moved her friend to a row of side chairs and persuaded her to sit down with the gentle pressured of her strength.

"He decided to take an extra dose," Cordelia explained. "He closed his eyes. I saw him put a hand to his temple, then he just fainted." She clutched at Buffy's hand. "I was so scared....."

"It's alright," Buffy assured her. "He'll be okay."

"Hello?" A voice said, making them look up. "Your friend's doing just fine, Miss Chase."

"He is?" Cordelia sought to confirm.

The young man in white coat and stethoscope nodded. "Aside from a major headache, Mr Doyle should be fine in a few days. You can go and see him, the doctor's just checking him over before he discharges."

"Thank you," Cordelia replied before rising from her chair and going to the room. Buffy rose also and turned to face the man.

"I'm Ben," he introduced himself, "I'm an intern here. I was working with the doctor when your friends came in."

"Buffy Summers," the slayer returned, shaking his hand. "I'm glad he's okay, Cordy sounded so worried on the phone."

"I'm not surprised, it is disconcerting to see someone fainting without cause."

"Without cause?" Buffy repeated, trying to sound genuinely puzzled.

"Nothing to induce it I mean. Mr Doyle's tests came back all normal. I think it's just a case of overwork and stress. I gather he's a professor at the university?"

"Yes," Buffy replied, inwardly breathing a sigh of relief that Doyle's heritage and potions takings had not come up in the tests. "He was teacher at the High School, until it..... burned down, then he came to the university, that's how we all know him."

"I see," Ben said with a nod. "Such traumatic situations can bring large groups of people together."

Buffy inclined her head in agreement. Ben held up the file he was carrying. "I better get this to the reception desk," he remarked. "Goodbye, Miss Summers."

"Bye," Buffy replied, and briefly watched him go. Angel looked at her steadily as he came up to join her, causing her to wonder aloud. "What?"

"Something there?" He asked her.

"No," she assured him. "At least I don't think so." She paused, looking at his dark eyes, which had now transferred to the disappearing intern. "Why?"

"He was looking at you a lot," Angel replied, making her chuckle.

"Jealous?" She asked him.

"No," He replied, "just concerned."

Buffy turned her gaze from her beloved to the now out of sight medical student, and reflected back on the conversation. Barely had she begun to think back however when Cordelia and Doyle emerged from the room behind them.

"Let's get out here," the latter decided, before leading the way, causing all to follow after the couple's wake.

 


"You can't be serious!"

The evening darkness had just begun to settle on the dale of the sun, and the Scoobies had gathered themselves back at the magic shop- much to Spike's annoyance, though most suspected by now that the words of irritation were just a cover for how he really felt; pleased to belong to a group of people who made a difference in the world.

Doyle now turned his gaze on his girlfriend, and attempted to calm her down. "I am serious, 'delia. I need to have visions."

"By taking things that make you faint!" Cordelia reminded him incredulously.

The half-bracken shrugged. "If it helps them."

"No," Cordelia almost yelled. "I won't let you. What happens if it makes you worse the next time?"

"I can't ignore my gift, Cordy."

"It's not gift if you have to induce it!"

"If I may interrupt," Giles began, "I have to agree with Cordelia here."

"I don't care what you think......" Cordelia began to shout at them, then trailed off as his words reached her brain. "Oh, you think I'm right?"

"Novel, I know," Giles returned wryly. "But you are. Doyle, something is very wrong with your gift if you are resorting to inducing it via intravenous methods. You need to consult the Powers That Be."

"I want to speak to the Powers-That-Be!" Cordelia cried, rising from the seat she had taken when Giles expressed his support.

Doyle rapidly grabbed her wrist. "Woah, woah, woah! That's easier said then done, darlin'. The Powers-That-Be don't live in our reality. You have to approach them through channels. Dangerous channels."

"Yeah, you know what? Start approaching!" Cordelia returned with a glare.

"All right. All right. Maybe we can try the Oracles."

"The What a 'cles?" Cordelia asked him.

"Oracles," Giles replied, rising from his chair to fetch a volume from the Magic Shop Bookshelves. "They are intermediaries for the Powers. It is written that they can see into a human's soul."

He laid open the volume before them, where a description of the beings was written. The Scoobies studied the passage for a few minutes.

"'Located at the Gateway for Lost Souls,'" Buffy read aloud. "Okay, I think I see one slight flaw in this plan."

"It's not," Doyle replied. "I know where that is. I'm still not sure I should do this however."

"Do you want your visions back?" Cordelia asked him.

"If you'd asked me that a couple of years ago, no," Doyle answered her. "I used to hate them. I ignored them for as long as I could. But eventually I had to come here." He looked to the slayer. "And help you. Since then....... I guess if I'm ready to fall unconscious for them, then I'm ready to go to the Oracles. But hey, if they turn me into a toad - don't say I didn't warn you."

He rose up from his chair and headed to the coat rack by the door. Cordelia rushed ahead of him, grabbed his jacket, and fished out his car keys.

"Hey," Doyle objected as she handed him the former but kept the latter.

"If you think I'm letting you go alone, you've got another think coming," Cordelia replied before opening the door. "Now, come on."

 


"So 'The Gateway for Lost Souls' is under the post office?" Cordelia sought to confirm as she turned to her boyfriend a few minutes later.

"It makes sense if you think about it," Doyle replied. "Now listen, the Oracles are finicky and unpredictable. When we get in, don't dilly-dally. Ask our questions, get out." He paused. "I'm sure I'm forgetting something."

"What's the urn and the herb's for?"

"Little incantation before entry is granted." Doyle put the herb's into the urn, which he placed on a table in the stone walled cavern. "'We beseech access to the knowing ones.'" He took out a lighter and set the herb's a flame. A bright white fire was the result. "We're in."

He walked through the archway, Cordelia following. Soon they found themselves before two blue flesh beings, adorned with sliver paint and Roman style robes.

"Come before us, lower beings," the man said, his voice echoing around the chamber.

"What have you brought us?" The woman asked.

Cordelia turned to Doyle. "Were we supposed to.."

"You call us forth and bring us no offering?" The man queried.

"Knew I forgot something," Doyle muttered, before searching his pockets. Cordelia sighed and slipped off her wristwatch. "We brought you this," she said, showing it to the woman.

She held out a hand and the watch flew towards her. "I like time," the female Oracle mused as she gazed at the piece. "There is so little and so much of it."

"Why have you come to us?" The male Oracle asked.

"I'm having trouble with my gift," Doyle began.

"Ah, yes, your second sight," the female Oracle remarked. She held the watch out to the man, who with a flick of his hand commanded it towards him, then came to stand before Doyle. Slowly she cast her hands over his eyes. "Yes, it has been Spartan in its' rewards."

"Rewards my foot," Cordelia said, causing the Oracles to turn to her. "What about the headaches he gets afterwards?"

"It requires great strength to see the future," the male Oracle revealed in an tone of admonishment. "To see the pain of others. Such gifts do not come with out a price. It is the way of our world as much as your own."

"You were right to come to us," the female Oracle continued to Doyle. "You gift is conflicted, and not by the drugs you took to induce the last vision you had."

"Why is it conflicted?" Cordelia asked.

"Something has been placed before them," the woman answered, her hands now upon Doyle's temples. "A barrier of supernatural origin."

"Who could have done this?" Cordelia queried.

"That is unforeseeable," the female Oracle replied. "Someone of great power, it must have been." She pressed a strange shape over Doyle's forehead, too fast for his girlfriend to identify it. "There. I have lifted the barrier. When you leave this place your visions will come to as they did before."

"Thank you," Doyle said, his tone deeply respectful.

The Oracles raised their hands, a bright light blinded the couple, and then they were back in the basement of the post office.



"Then there is a swirling light. A ball of energy, surrounded by the barrier of a darkened room. People in brown monastic robes. I could hear whispering voices, the sound of prayers, or chants. The noise of something pounding. The door was being forced open.

"Panic takes hold of the some of the chanting voices. The door resists for a few seconds longer, then surrenders, falling to the floor. Something walked inside.......... The last thing I see is the terror on the monk's faces and the vision ends."

Buffy was silent a long time after Doyle had finished telling her, Cordelia, Jenny, Angel, Spike, Giles and Wesley the details of his vision, which he had seen again after he and Cordelia were returned to the basement of the post office. After the couple returned to the magic shop, Doyle had persuaded the others to go home, uncertain that the full details of his vision should be told to the entire group, particularly with the revelation of the existence of a barrier within his mind.

"And you don't see anything of who enters the room?" The chosen one eventually asked him.

Doyle shook his head. "Nothing. Just the terror. Buffy, the look on those monk's faces...... I doubt if any of them survived whatever it was they feared."

"And what about this barrier," Giles began, "did the Oracles reveal who made it?"

"No," Cordelia informed them. "All mysterious and cryptic they were. But its obviously Elita."

"I don't think so," Buffy said.

Angel nodded in accordance. "I can't feel any power of that kind from her," he said.

"Though I hate to agree with you, mate," Spike added, "you're right in this case. What ever she is, Elita's not the prime suspect for this."

"But she is involved," Cordelia persisted. "She has to be."

"That's why I didn't think we should let everybody know this," Doyle remarked. "We're already all distrusting her, and if you throw the barrier thing into the mix.........." he trailed off, letting the end of his sentence speak for itself.

"No, you were right," Wesley assured him. "We can't afford to reveal our hand just yet. Even if we don't hold all the cards."

"I just wish I had a suspicion," Buffy mused as she rose, signalling the meeting to come to an end. "I hate being in the dark."

"We just need to be patient," Jenny reasoned. "Whatever it is will reveal itself in good time, I'm sure."

"I still don't like it," Buffy continued. "I thought the Initiative and Adam were bad last year. If a vision, a magical barrier and a damsel in distress are gonna be our only clues for a while, then I dread to think what's gunning for us this year."

The End.
To Be Continued In.

No Place Like Home.