Elaisias


by Saber ShadowKitten
PG-13 Version



Part Fifteen



"What did you do to him!?" Buffy yelled, as she and Willow ran over to join Angel beside the prone blond vampire on the floor.

"I didn't do anything!" Angel yelled back.

"Angel, you're naked!" Willow exclaimed, pointing at him.

Angel glanced down and frowned at his state of nudity. He grabbed the breeches from the pile of clothing he'd set down when he'd crouched to check out Spike, then stood and stepped into him.

"You hit him with a rock?!" Buffy said, pointing to a large, broken piece of obsidian resting near Spike's head.

"I didn't hit him!" Angel exclaimed. "It fell from the ceiling!"

"I don't believe you!"

"It's the truth!"

"Stop yelling!" Willow yelled. She looked back and forth between her two friends. "We shouldn't be yelling! Just a few minutes ago we were naked and...and..."

The redhead's eyes grew huge as exactly what they'd been doing a few minutes ago hit her. Her face flamed as her gaze shot to meet Angel's equally stunned one. "Oh my goddess, we had...we did...you...tongue...parts...skin...eep!" Willow squeaked, burying her face in her hands.

"We did," Angel said, his voice soft and full of shock. "Why did we do that?"

"I don't know," Willow said, not raising her eyes. "I just wanted you really, really, really lots. The flowers smelled so good..." Her head shot up, her eyes filled with horror. "Oh goddess! If you didn't have your tattoo bespelled...I would have...you might have..."

"Ow!" Buffy exclaimed, as she was hit in the head by a small piece of obsidian. She picked up the small piece resting on Spike's chest and looked at it with a frown, then looked up.

"We'll talk about this latter," Angel told Willow, who nodded. The dark-haired vampire looked at Buffy. "What happened?"

"I got hit by this," she said, holding the piece of rock up. "It came from up there."

Willow and Angel both looked up, but they couldn't see very much. "Willow, can you cast a lightball up there?" Angel asked.

"Sure," Willow said. A magickal ball of light formed in her hand, then she gave it a slight toss upwards. It floated up towards the dark ceiling.

And it illuminated a crumbling obsidian crossbeam lined with frogs.

"Frogs!" Willow exclaimed, rising to her feet from beside Spike. "Those are frogs!"

"Frogs dropping rocks on us?" Buffy said, frowning. "That's weird."

"No, I think frogs dropping on us!" Angel said, bending to grab Spike's legs. "Move!"

Angel dragged Spike roughly across the ground, and Buffy and Willow sprang apart as frogs of all sizes rained down from above. Willow screamed as several hit her, their soft, stickyish skin brushing against her face. She turned and ran towards the darkness of the center of the sixth level, the lightball bouncing wildly as it chased after her, magick linking the two until Willow ended the spell.

"Willow!" Angel shouted after her, but she didn't stop. Fear encompassed the redhead, fueling her headlong flight away from the others. The lightball caught up to her, and she let out another blood-curdling scream when it cast light upon a large green and black spotted frog, its black eyes even with Willow's knees.

Willow altered her course, her breaths coming in harsh gasps. She dared a glance behind her, causing her to crash into a solid figure and fall backwards onto the ground. She looked up, her heart pounding in her chest.

The lightball illuminated a figure dressed in robes, what looked to be a pink octopus where a normal human head would be. The creature looked as startled to see Willow as she was to see it.

It threw up its arms, long pink fingers exposed by the robe's sleeves riding up, and exclaimed something in gibberish. Suddenly, Willow found herself surrounded by frogs, and she screamed, "HELP!!"

Angel appeared out of the darkness and attacked the octopus-like creature. He'd seen it cast whatever spell to make the frogs appear and knew that it, not the amphibians, was the threat.

The creature let out a bubbling screech when Angel kicked it in the face. The dark-haired vampire grabbed its arms when the creature raised them to cast another spell, and Angel head-butted it. Its forehead squished in, then reformed immediately after the attack.

Cursing, Angel dropped the creature's wrists, reached up and grabbed the octopus-like head. With a violent twist, the head came right off the body, black blood splattering the vampire.

The frogs disappeared.

Angel dropped the head and went over to Willow, crouching down beside her. "Are you okay?"

"Ask me again after I finish having a heart attack," Willow replied, pressing a hand to her chest.

He reached out and ran a finger along the side of her cheek. She looked at him with questioning eyes, and he quickly dropped his hand. "Sorry," he apologized, looking away.

"Don't be," Willow said. "Unless you regret doing it. But if you do, I don't think I want to know-"

Angel shushed her by placing the same finger over her lips. Then he replaced his finger with his own lips, giving Willow a soft, gentle kiss. "I'm not sorry then," he told her when he ended the kiss, the double meaning evident. "Because, in control or not, I don't regret doing something I've wanted to do with you for close to a year now."

"Well, that's okay then," Willow said, blushing. "I've had...thoughts like that about you, too."

"What did you tell Buffy? Naked and chocolate-covered?" Angel asked mischievously.

Willow's face turned even redder. "Angel!"

Angel chuckled and rose, then helped Willow to her feet. He kicked the head of the creature out of their path back to Buffy and Spike. "For a spell, those frogs were certainly realistic. Buffy was squashing them beneath her boot left and right, trying to keep them off Spike."

"Oh!" Willow said, dropping the hand Angel still held and rushing over to the octopus-like head. She motioned to the lightball and it came closer to her. "Ah-ha! A mind flayer!"

"A what?" Angel asked.

"A mind flayer," Willow repeated. "I recognize it from the creature index from the instructions. You know, I still don't understand why people don't take the time to read them. It makes the games that much more fun to know the names of the creatures they're meeting."

"What does it do?" Angel said, pulling her back to the creature at hand.

"Oh, a mind flayer pulls a fear out of its victim's mind, then creates that fear in the physical realm. Like frogs."

"Or maybe me without my soul?" Angel said thoughtfully.

"Yes!" Willow exclaimed. "Which means Spike really did stake you, but it wasn't really you, it was a you that was physically created by the mind flayer. And because the mind flayer can read minds, the you that wasn't you acted just like you without your soul!"

Angel couldn't help the smile that tugged up his mouth at her explanation. "I don't know if that will relieve Buffy and Spike, or make them mad."

*****

"So the Angelus Spike staked wasn't real?" Buffy said, exchanging a look with the peroxide-blond vampire sitting beside her, his hand pressed to his head where the rock hit.

"He was real," Willow said. "As in you could touch him, hear him, see him, and he knew whatever you two knew about how he would act and what he would say, but he wasn't the real Angel."

Spike looked at Willow blankly. "Say that again?"

"It wasn't really me," Angel said. "That's all that's important."

"Tell that to my blood pressure," Spike muttered to Buffy. The Slayer giggled.

"Now all we have left to figure out is why Angelus almost did become a reality," Willow said. She darted a glance at the dark-haired vampire seated beside her on the obsidian floor near the stone steps Buffy and Spike had found, then looked away, her face rosy.

"The flowers," Spike said. He wound his finger in a circle near his temple. "Made you gits all looney. And horny."

"They did not," Buffy said.

"Slayer, you were in between Willow's legs, about to indulge in every male's fantasy to watch," Spike said.

Buffy blushed scarlet and covered her face with her hands. "Um...oh god."

"I think it's time to move on," Angel said firmly, rising to his feet. "The bands are on the next level, and the sooner we start, the sooner we can get the hell out of this Tower."

Spike glanced at Buffy, and the blond Slayer nodded. She grabbed her things and stood, quickly linking arms with Willow. "Come on, Wills. Girl talk," she said, leading the redhead away from the two vampires, while staying close to the torch-lit wall of the sixth level.

Spike rose to his feet and put his hand on Angel's arm briefly, preventing the dark-haired vampire from following immediately. Angel looked at the younger man in question.

"I want to talk to you a second," Spike said. Angel nodded, and the blond dropped his eyes.

When he didn't continue, Angel prompted quietly, "I'm listening."

"I'm not okay with this, Angel," Spike said truthfully, not raising his eyes. He ran a hand over the top of his blond hair, pulling loose several long strands, which fell down over his face. "I went against the very last true thing that separates me from being a soddin' human. Cor, you might as well give me a bloody soul, I'm more saintly than you are, pillock."

"What do you want me to say, Spike?" Angel asked. "Do you want me to apologize for my doppleganger calling on the blood bond? Do you want me to thank you for being able to kill the soulless me despite that call? Or do you want me to be angry because of that?"

"I don't...I just..." Spike growled and raised his head, his gold eyes filled with confusion and anger. "I don't bloody know! All I do know is that I want to beat the crap out of you for doing this to me!"

Angel took a step back from Spike and held his hands out slightly to his sides, palms flat. "Go ahead."

Spike looked at his Sire as if he'd lost his mind. "Do what?"

"If it will make you feel better, go ahead," Angel repeated.

"You're joking."

Angel sighed, dropping his hands. "Then what do you-"

Spike's fist connecting with his jaw cut him off. A back fist hit him in the same spot less than a half-second later. Angel blocked the third punch, but the fourth struck its mark in his stomach.

Spike took out his anger, grief and confusion on Angel with punches and kicks. The dark-haired vampire only blocked, he didn't strike back. When the younger man swept Angel's feet out from under him, Spike dropped down to his knees to continue to strike blows on his Sire.

Eventually his hits slowed, became less powerful, until Spike stopped altogether and sat on his knees beside Angel, head bowed, his eyes squeezed shut against the burning sensation of tears that pricked them. He heard his Sire shift on the floor in front of him, then felt strong fingers brush against the ridges on his brow.

"Spike," Angel said softly. "You did nothing wrong. The demon inside of me didn't renew the blood bond with you earlier."

Spike opened his eyes to meet Angel's, his human mask sliding back over his features. "Yes, you did. I was there."

"No, Spike. Not the demon," Angel said. He moved up on his knees directly in front of Spike, so their knees were touching, and cupped both sides of Spike's face. "It was me -- with my soul."

What Angel was telling him sunk into Spike's brain, and a profound sense of relief that he hadn't broken the bond filled him. Then he realized that Angel was still holding either side of his face, staring intently into his eyes. "You're not going to kiss me, are you, mate?"

Angel's lips quirked up into a smile. "I sure am."

"What about the Witch?" Spike said quickly, his eyes growing wider as his Sire leaned forward.

"I'll kiss her later," Angel murmured, then pressed his lips to his Childe's.

Slowly, Angel coaxed Spike into returning the kiss by moving his lips lightly back and forth across the younger man's, then dipping his tongue inside the blond's mouth when he opened it. Angel felt Spike relax, then the other vampire's tongue brushing against his own. Gently, their tongues twined together, the kiss deepening, but unhurriedly.

Neither one of them realized they had an audience.

"They're kissing," Willow whispered with awe from where she and Buffy were standing, a good distance away from the vampires, but still able to see the two clearly.

"Uh-huh," Buffy said, nodding her head. She had thought she'd given Spike enough time to talk privately to Angel, but she guessed wrong. "Shouldn't we be icking?"

"We should," Willow agreed. Yet neither of them moved or made a disgusted sound.

"I think I'm jealous," Buffy whispered a few minutes later, her eyes glued to the scene unfolding before them. Spike was lying back on the floor, both men's shirts underneath his bare back. Angel was partially over the blond vampire, kissing him deeply, one of his hands caressing down Spike's skin.

"I think it's beautiful," Willow whispered back.

"But just a short while ago, me and Spike, and you and Angel were doing..." Buffy's eyes widened. "Well, not that."

"Vampires don't talk, they act. At least, that's what Angel once told me about vampires and highly emotional...look what he's doing!" Willow hissed.

"I'm looking," Buffy whispered.

They saw Angel kiss down Spike's chest, pulling down the blond's hose as he moved down his Childe's body.

"I think we should go now," Buffy said, her voice little more than a squeak. "And give them some privacy."

"Oh, yeah," Willow agreed. They still didn't move.

Spike pushed Angel away and sat up, capturing the older vampire's mouth in a passionate kiss as Angel moved up on his knees beside him. The blond's fingers worked the ties on Angel's breeches, then pushed the black material down.

"Spike was really, really upset about staking the fake Angel," Buffy said out of the blue.

"I think Angel's making up for that," Willow replied wryly.

Buffy smacked her friend lightly on the arm. The redhead looked at the Slayer. "Okay, sorry, but Angel and Spike are just about to-ow," she hissed, when Buffy squeezed her arm too tight. "Watch it."

"Exactly," Buffy hissed back, gesturing with her chin, her eyes not having left the two vampires.

Willow turned and flushed when she saw Angel and Spike.

"Oh my god," Buffy breathed. She brought her hand up to cover her eyes, only to peek through her fingers at the men. "Spike and Angel are having sex."

"Yes," Willow said. "The coupling of two males usually comes with a stigmata attached to the act, known as machismo. Thus the 'bottom' is always viewed as the lesser of the roles, complete with negative connotations-"

"Willow, shh," Buffy admonished. "I don't want to watch Scientific America, I want to watch porn."

Falling silent, the two girls watched until they saw Spike sit back on his heels, then Angel turn around to face his Childe. With soft gasps, Buffy and Willow saw Angel guide Spike's face to his neck, and caught a glimpse of Angel's own fangs.

Willow and Buffy glanced at each other, then turned and walked away, leaving the two men sharing each other's blood through a vampire's kiss.

*****

Spike pulled back from Angel, his fangs leaving his Sire's neck the same time Angel withdrew his own fangs from Spike. The blond vampire's golden eyes met Angel's golden ones, their mouths slightly smeared with the other's blood. Angel leaned his head forward and touched his ridged brow to Spike's ridged one.

"This doesn't mean that I like you," Spike said quietly through his fangs.

"I know," Angel said, equally as quiet. "I'm not sure if I like you or not, either."

"But..." Spike prompted, moving back from the dark-haired vampire, his face returning to its smooth, human planes.

"But I'll be there for you, Childe," Angel said, his own human mask sliding into place. His brown eyes met Spike's blue one's squarely. "My blood is your blood. Always."

Spike nodded once, then broke eye contact. He rose to his feet and began redressing as Angel did the same. He was buckling his sword belt back on when he abruptly said, "I'm in love with the Slayer, you know."

"I already knew that," Angel said, smiling.

"Right," Spike said. He frowned. "Wait, how did you know that? Last time you asked me about her, you asked why we fight all the time."

"You staked the doppleganger despite the blood bond," Angel gave Spike a pointed look, "because of her."

"Oh, right," Spike said. He slid the bag over his shoulder, then smirked at his Sire. "Bet you didn't know I've been in love with the chit for three years now."

Angel arched a dark brow as he adjusted the strap of his own bag. "Then why aren't you two together?" he asked.

"I don't fancy living in your shadow, peaches," Spike replied. "Did it once before, and I bloody well hated it. I'd rather be her best friend than second best love."

"Even though she's your lover?" Angel said. Spike frowned and Angel tapped his nose. "I know her scent intimately, remember?"

"Right, well, we'll just be mates who shag like bunnies," Spike answered with a shrug.

"And if she wants more?" Angel asked.

"Then I'll be the happiest soddin' vampire on the Hellmouth," Spike said. "But I won't be holding my breath."

"Spike, you don't breathe."

"Makes it easier then, don't it?"



Part Sixteen



"What are we going to say to them?" Willow asked Buffy, as the two girls waited for the vampires quite a distance from where the men had been. "I don't think 'hi guys, thanks for the show' is appropriate."

"Don't know," Buffy replied. "Maybe we just should pretend we didn't see them."

"I don't know if I'm going to be able to look at Angel without seeing what we saw," Willow said. "And secrets. Angel and I don't keep secrets from each other. Bad things happen when you keep secrets."

"If I say something to Spike, I'll probably get mad at him," Buffy told Willow truthfully.

"Why?" Willow asked.

"Because how could he have great, wonderful, lots of other adjectives sex with me, then turn around and have sex with Angel a few hours later?" Buffy replied.

"Haven't you ever talked to him about vampire things?" Willow said.

Buffy shrugged. "What's there to know? They drink blood, they can't sunbathe, they really hate it when they can't kill anymore, and they have bad taste in clothes."

"I think you need a lesson in Vampires 101," Willow said. She held up one finger. "Fact number one, blood is everything."

"Well, duh. They can't live without the stuff," Buffy said.

"Hey, don't talk with the teacher is lecturing," Willow scolded.

Buffy gave her a sheepish grin. "Sorry, go on."

Willow cleared her throat dramatically. "Like I said, blood is everything. It's like...boy, there's not even a comparison that I can't think of. It's just really, really important. It's everything to them."

"Even though Angel has his soul?" Buffy asked, curious.

"Yes," Willow replied. "In fact, that probably makes it a bigger deal, because he isn't part of the vampire community anymore. Well, not really. He doesn't participate in the whole mini-structure of families and stuff like that. So anything to do with exchanging blood or blood bonds or whatever would be big."

"So that thingy that he did with Spike up on the fourth floor is the hugeness?" Buffy said.

"I think so," Willow said. "I don't know all the vampire rituals and customs, just what Angel's told me about during my Anne Rice-channeling months."

Buffy giggled. "And I bet Angel was such the talkative one."

"Like prying a Twinkie from Xander," Willow joked. "Okay, lesson number two," she held up two fingers, "vampires don't do that talking thing when they get all emotional. Instead, they either beat each other up or have sex, depending on if they're angry or-"

"Horny?"

"No," Willow said, scowling at Buffy. "I'm talking about what we just saw, not hormones. And don't interrupt."

Buffy pretended to zip her lip.

"The sort of sex we saw is a vampire way of reassurance and sort-of caring, but not really caring," Willow said. She frowned as she tried to think of an appropriate analogy. The vampire world had more differences than similarities to the human one. She'd been surprised how numerous they were when she'd grilled Angel, and she'd learned how hard it really was for her vampire friend to have a soul and have to suppress his differentness.

"I guess the closest it's like is your Mom or Dad giving you a hug. It's comforting, you feel better, and you know that they still want to have you around, even if you just lit the bed on fire when you used magick to change and ice cube to a flame." Willow grinned wryly.

"Them having sex is like Mom hugging me?" Buffy said. "Now why does that sound really disgusting if I think about it too much?"

"Because you're a sick pervert who's been hanging around Spike too long," Willow replied. She heard footsteps approaching and held up her hand before Buffy could speak again. "Here they come."

Buffy nodded and rose to her feet as the redhead did the same. The torchlight above their heads on the wall cast enough illumination for them to easily see the two vampires when they joined the girls. The Slayer's eyes immediately sought out Spike's, and she felt a flutter in her stomach at the private smile he gave her. It shouldn't have effected her so, because he'd given her the exact same smile many times before and she knew it meant that everything was right in his world, but for some reason...

"Earth to Slayer. Come in, wench."

Spike broke into Buffy's thoughts with his words, and she shook her head slightly before narrowing her eyes at him. "Wench?" she inquired in a deadly tone.

"Hey," Willow said to Angel, ignoring the two blond's as they started to insult one another. She felt her face flaming when she looked up at him and pictured what she and Buffy had seen earlier. "Um, is-is everything, uh, okay now?"

"Everything's fine," Angel replied. On impulse, he put his finger under her chin and bent his head to brush a quick kiss across her lips.

If anything, Willow's blush became darker. "Wh-what was that for?" she asked in a breathy voice.

Angel bent his head to whisper in her ear, "Just because," and to place another soft kiss right below it.

"Oh." Willow was wide-eyed as he stepped back from her. She pressed her hand to her abdomen to calm the jumping beans inside. "I think we should, um, go now. Only one more level left. The sooner we start, the sooner we are done and can leave. Leaving is good. We've been here long enough. So we should go. Now."

The dark-haired vampire chuckled at her slight babbling. "Okay, we'll go."

"Good," Willow said quickly. She turned, picked up her bag and put it over her shoulder, then started walking.

Angel blatantly watched her hips sashay from side-to-side as she walked, and a sly smile curved up his lips. She was right. The sooner they started, the sooner they got out of there.

And the sooner he could get her to a bed to pick up where they were interrupted.

Angel blinked in surprise at his thoughts, his head jerking slightly. Buffy and Spike, still insulting one another, had already started after Willow, and he had to take quick steps to catch up.

He couldn't believe that he'd just thought about getting Willow naked and ravishing her again. Taste her again. Feel her heat surround him again. Her tightness. Her wetness. Hear her cry out his name-

He groaned softly as he once again became rock hard underneath the breeches. He'd had more sex in the past however many hours than he'd had in six years. Several times with Willow and once with his Childe. And although with Spike it had been about letting his boy know that everything would be fine; with Willow it had been more than just being under the influence of the scent of the flowers.

He'd wanted her for close to a year, just like he'd told her, ever since the night they had been sitting in front of her computer, testing a game, and the robe she'd been wearing slid down to expose her leg all the way up to the light pink panties she'd had on. That night had been the first time he'd really noticed her in a sexual way. He'd always been attracted to her intelligence, humor and good heart, but he had compartmentalized her into his 'friend' category and he suppressed any physical attraction he could have had for her.

The light pink panties had little white flowers on them.

Angel brought his fingers up and pinched the bridge of his nose as his mind flashed back to that night and her undergarments, then rapidly started replaying what happened in the field of flowers. It was getting painful for him to walk because of the tightness of his breeches. He knew that he really needed to talk to Willow about what happened, but it was becoming a distinct possibility that the moment he got her alone she'd be on her back-

He silently groaned again. It was a good thing he'd taken the suggestion and his tattoo bespelled by Drakn Inkpeddler. He had spoken with the artist at great length once Drakn learned he was a vampire and still had his soul. As he told Spike, Elaisias had vampires, too.

At the time he'd gotten it, he had thought that the ensorcellment was worth the try, even if it didn't work. Once they found a way home, he had thought he could convince Willow to 'experiment' with him, considering he had wanted to see her in her light pink panties again and, even more so, what was under them. If the spell didn't work, Willow would be able to recurse him with ease while he remained locked up, and prior to that, he'd get his current fantasy to become a reality.

But, the spell had worked. He was in permanent possession of his soul, as was proven by the several times he'd found himself to be ridiculously happy. He'd also found himself surrounded by Willow's sweet body, listening to her soft mewls of pleasure-

Angel swore quietly to himself. Distraction. He needed a distraction...

*****

"Well, who first?" Buffy asked when they came to the steps leading down to the last level.

"I'll go," Spike volunteered. He gave Buffy a lewd grin. "As long as you cover me."

Buffy blushed. "Do I look like a blanket to you?"

"No," Spike replied. He eyed her up and down. "You're much more...lush."

"Shut up and go down," Buffy growled at him.

He stuck his tongue between his teeth and waggled his brows. "Sounds delicious, but I didn't know you were an exhibitionist."

The Slayer turned to a brighter shade of red and shoved Spike towards the steps. The blond vampire chuckled and started down them, with Buffy right behind him. Willow glanced back at Angel, blushed, and quickly followed without saying anything. Angel followed her, continuing to do math equations in Gaelic and translating the answers into Greek in his head to distract him from the petite hacker and what he really wanted to being doing.

Which was why, when the dark-haired vampire reached the bottom of the steps, he almost walked right into Willow, who had stopped abruptly. He quickly put his hands on her shoulders to steady both her and himself, and was about to ask what was up when his eyes caught hold of the sight spread before the four misplaced friends.

A veritable treasure filled the vast level. Gold, silver, copper, jewels, armor, weapons, books, silks, furs, everything that could be considered valuable made mountainous piles in the room. The flames from the torches caught the gold, silver and copper, causing it to glow. The jewels sparkled, the weapons and armor gleamed in the torchlight, all causing soft gasps of amazement and awe.

But scattered within, the small group began to notice things that did not belong with the treasure. Bones and skulls, both human and non, littered the piles. Some were broken pieces and fragments, others formed complete figures with empty eye-sockets and jaws gaping in terror. Skinned horns and tusks, wings and tails lay interwoven with the furs and jewelry.

"Why am I very worried?" Willow said quietly. Angel squeezed her shoulders.

"I see your worried and raise you a ho-boy," Buffy said. She raised her hand and pointed. "Look."

One of the copper piles was moving on its own.

Spike took a step to his left, away from Buffy, the obsidian wall at his back. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her take a step in the opposite direction, notching an arrow as she did so. He instinctively knew that she was going to shift her stance in order to easily let an arrow fly if need be. His own hands were lose and at his sides as his muscles tensed in the anticipation of an upcoming attack.

The copper pile slowly unfurled into an enormous Copper Dragon. Twice the size of an elephant, the dragon's scales gleamed in the torchlight. The wickedly hooked claws eerily making no sound as the great beast came towards the foursome. Black, reptilian eyes set back from a long snout with sharp, pointed teeth watched them with a coldness that chilled the two humans, and reminded the two demons of their evil nature.

The Copper Dragon stopped approximately fifteen feet away from the four standing near the stairs and slowly looked at each of them. "Who daresss to enter my lair?" the dragon asked in a deep, steely voice.

"I do," Spike stated, taking a step forward, surprising the other three.

"Spike, what are you doing?" Buffy hissed at him. Spike held up his hand slightly at her, indicating for her to let him proceed.

"I come for the Bands of Kimara," Spike told the great, copper beast.

The dragon's eyes narrowed into deadly slits. "Indeed?"

Spike nodded once.

"And what makesss you asssssume I shhhall give them to you?"

"I challenge you for them."

"You? A puny vammmpire." The Copper Dragon's deep laugh echoed against the stone walls. "How could you possssibly bessst me?"

"A riddle. You can't answer it, I get the Bands," Spike said.

The dragon tilted its majestic head slightly in interest. "A riddle, hmmmm? And if I know the ansssswer?"

Spike lifted one shoulder in a half-shrug. "You can eat me for all I bloody care."

"Spike," Buffy hissed at the blond vampire again.

"And the otherssss?"

"They each get a chance at a riddle, too," Spike replied. "Same deal."

The Copper Dragon met Spike's steady blue eyes. "Prossseeed."

"'Name me and you destroy me,'" Spike said, then folded his arms and casually leaned back against the obsidian wall behind him.



Continued