"Are you ready?"
"I didn't get dressed like this for the fashion show," Cordelia said, gesturing down at her camouflage.
"I think you look cute as Camo-Cordy," Angel teased, handing her a crossbow.
"This coming from a man who thinks black was a color designed by God," she replied, following him into the sewers beneath the streets of Los Angeles. "Which is why I never take you anywhere."
"And here I though you loved me for my sense of style," he said.
"Who said I loved you at all?"
"Ouch! Perfect shot to the heart," Angel said, clutching his crossbow to his chest. He and Cordelia had been together for over three years now. She had shown up one day at his home, red convertible piled high with luggage, and asked in her forthright way to move in with him. From day one, she rearranged not only his furniture, but his life. Instead of throttling her like he wanted, he turned her restless energy into training with him.
She was an excellent fighter. After a year of intense workouts with him learning various martial arts moves, kickboxing, and dirty fighting, she was ready to try her hand at becoming a vampire hunter like him. She whined, argued and was scared to death, but she dusted their opponents with the skill and finesse of a warrior. They had been partners ever since.
It took much longer for them to fall in love. Both had been burned when it came to love. When Cordelia had left Sunnydale, she was running from past demons straight into the arms of another. The incident between Xander and Willow had hurt her deeply. She had given up everything she had known to be with him, and he broke her heart.
Angel and Buffy had also decided to go their separate ways. Too much had happened when he lost his soul, and though they still loved each other, they couldn't have a relationship again. The pain and guilt from both of them blocked that choice, which didn't change when his soul was permanently anchored to him by a member of the same clan who cursed him originally. Cordelia had saved her life from vampires, and in return, was asked what she wanted in repayment. The former May Queen asked for Angel's soul.
They became closer after that day, and inevitably fell in love, but neither would reveal their feelings for fear of being hurt again. It took a close brush with death for them to admit it to each other. They learned that life was too short not to grab hold of love when it was given.
"Dead guys, dead ahead," Cordelia said quietly to him as they approached the opening above a junction in the sewers. They were on the trail of a master vampire by the name of Marcius. The information they were able to glean pointed them to this ‘meeting' of his best minions to discuss the takeover of a neighboring vampire faction.
"We only get one shot, so make it count," Angel instructed, getting into position on one side of the opening.
"Yes, master," she replied, taking a position across from him.
He rolled his eyes, then turned his attention to the crowd of vampires below. Their target came into view, walking with a tall, blond vampiress rumored to be his lover and second in command. "Get ready," he whispered, taking aim. The vampire turned his back in their direction to talk to the female. "Now."
Cordelia had already hit the trigger on her crossbow. The two bolts whizzed through the air before embedding in Marcius' back, sending him to hell in a cloud of dust. The female vampire's eyes were wide and her mouth hung open as she stared at where the master had been. Her head raised and her gaze pinpointed on Angel.
"Hmm," Angel said, looking over at Cordelia with a grin as a loud shriek echoed in the room below. "I think she's mad."
"It's a possibility," Cordelia said, striking a thoughtful pose.
Angel chuckled, and grabbed her hand. They ran down the sewer from whence they came laughing like children, then burst out into the street. The ensouled vampire tossed his crossbow in the back of Cordelia's convertible, hopped on his motorcycle and, with a jaunty salute, took off with a squeal of tires.
Cordelia jumped over the door into the driver's seat, revved the engine, and peeled out in a different direction as she did each time they hunted. They had learned after the first fire that by separating, they had less of a chance of being followed. Hair flying behind her, the former cheerleader pushed a CD into the player and cranked up the volume, the hard, pulsating music breaking silence of the night.
Four Months Later
"Angel, get your undead cute butt out here," Cordelia called out from the freight elevator.
The warehouse where they made their home for the past year was located in an abandoned area of the city. Three floors and an underground garage made up the building. The first floor was left empty, used sometimes when Angel wanted to work on his bike or for storage.
The second and third floor windows which lined the building, were covered from the inside by heavy, black, velvet drapes, protecting the occupants from the sun. A freight elevator and a set of stairs were the only access to the upper floors of the warehouse.
The second level was used as a state of the art gym and housed their tools of the trade. The floor was polished wood, a few mats scattered around, waiting to be used. Exercise equipment of every type was spread over the large, open space and in one corner was a steel cabinet and workbench for their weapons.
The third level was where the couple made their home. Two large bedrooms with baths took up half of the floor, each decorated similarly with king size beds, dressers and matching night stands. The rest of the level was used as an open living room/office/kitchen. Twin couches sat at right angles, with a square coffee table in front of them. An entertainment center lined the far wall. Next to the elevator was the small kitchen area. A table separated the two areas.
"You bellowed?" Angel said, exiting the master bedroom.
"This came for you," Cordelia said, kicking a large box by her feet. "And it's pretty damn heavy. I had to have a guy at the post office take it out to the car. A pimply faced geek who drooled on my new shoes."
"Poor baby," he replied, picking up the box and setting it on the table. Taped to the top was a letter addressed to him via the post office. After the last time they were burned out of their home, they decided it was safer to have a PO box. Opening the letter, he quickly read the single line on the page before looking at the box and the envelope for a return address.
"Who's it from?" Cordelia asked.
"It doesn't say," Angel answered.
"Well, what does it say?"
"Family and Friends will be no more. Family down to one and Friends down to four."
"Cryptic much?" Cordelia said. "What do you think it means?"
"Maybe there'll be a clue in the box," Angel shrugged. He slit open the lid and lifted the flaps. He frowned when he looked at the contents, then carefully reached inside. He picked up a handful of ashes and let it fall through his fingers. "Ashes?"
Cordelia peered over the lip of the box. "Looks that way. Is there anything buried under them?"
Angel pushed up his sleeve and reached back into the box, this time digging under the ashes. He found an object and pulled it out. "Oh god," he said, sinking into a chair.
"A doll?" Cordelia said, confused.
"Miss Edith," Angel clarified, holding the dusty, familiar doll in his hand.
"Drusilla's doll? But why would you get...oh," she trailed off, her mind stumbling over an idea. "Angel, you haven't seen any of your children lately, have you?"
He looked up from the doll at his girlfriend. "Now that you mention it, no. Usually I run into them all the time because of my enthusiasm when my soul was gone. You don't think..."
"‘Family down to one,'" she quoted.
"And a vampire's family is his children," Angel said. He gently set the doll on the table and looked at the box. "I think we're looking at what's left of them."
"Except for one," Cordelia corrected. "I wonder who the one is?"
"I'm more worried about the four," he replied. "We haven't gotten any messages saying anyone was hurt in Sunnydale, have we?"
"No," she answered. "Maybe you should call."
"While I'm doing that, see if you can brainstorm as to who would do this," he instructed, picking up the receiver and dialing a familiar number. "Hello, Rupert?"
Buffy sighed and rocked back on her heels, staring up at the night sky. She was playing bouncer for a party hosted by Xander's fraternity, as was Faith, and she was bored. "I could use a nice man right about now," she muttered to herself as her eyes scanned the darkness for uninvited guests. "Mom has Giles, Willow has Oz, Angel has Cordelia, Faith has Xander if they ever admit their feelings for one another, but me? I haven't even had a date in two years."
Buffy, Willow, Oz and Xander all decided to attend Sunnydale community college, where they were now seniors. Xander had been the biggest surprise of the small group of friends by not only getting into the school, but by becoming an academic wunderkind. He had also, in a fit of revenge, taken over the old Delta Zeta Kappa house with the help of Oz, turning it into a fraternity for misfits like them.
Giles had retired from his position as librarian at the high school and bought a bookstore. The basement became the new headquarters, or Slayer Central as it was affectionately named, where both Buffy and Faith trained extensively and the others helped divert that week's apocalypse. Since Faith never received a new Watcher, Giles volunteered to have two Slayers, and in result, both girls became close friends.
Faith, after much prompting, earned her GED and currently worked for Giles at the bookstore full time, living in a small apartment on the second floor of the building. She was also hopelessly in love with Xander. But no matter how much prodding Buffy did, she refused to tell him, not even to go on a single date. She had seen the problems and heartbreak Buffy had gone through, and decided being the Slayer was not conductive to having a relationship. Which was true, considering Buffy's current lack of suitor.
"Hey, Buffster," Xander greeted, coming out of the house. "How goes the bouncing?"
"Dull, boring, about the same as my love life," Buffy replied. "How's the party?"
"Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves," he said.
"But not you?"
"I'm the key master," Xander said, jingling the small jar he carried. "I don't get to have fun."
"Like you would have let yourself enjoy the party, anyway, Mr. President," Buffy teased. "You'd be to worried about everyone else."
"So true," he replied. They both looked up as a frat brother stumbled towards them from the side of the house. "Looks like someone's a little tipsy."
Buffy went over to the student and put her arm under his shoulder. "Come on, big guy. Let's get you insi-" She stopped abruptly when she saw the blood running down the side of his neck from two twin puncture wounds. "Shit. Xander, take him and tell Faith code one."
Xander did not hesitate as he grabbed the student away from Buffy and headed into the house. Buffy spun and ran towards the side of the house, stake in her hand, looking for the perpetrator. She didn't need to run far.
Standing near the border of the woods next to the house that separated the cemetery from the fraternity, a semi circle of ten, large vampires flanked a tall, blond vampiress. "Ah, Angelus' former lover," she said in a cold voice. "How nice of you to join us."
"If I knew it was going to be a party, I would have brought the dip," Buffy said.
"Silence!" she snapped. "I have a message for Angelus."
"What do I look like, an answering service?"
"You look dead," she replied, snapping her fingers. The ten vampires converged on Buffy simultaneously.
"Oh, this is going to be fun," Buffy said under her breath, leaping to her left with a double side kick, taking down two of the vampires. Not stopping, she spun and kicked a third in the face, following up with a series of punches before staking him.
She raised her fist quickly, catching the vamp that had come up behind her in the nose, then shot her elbow back into his chest before falling to the ground in a roll. She raised to her knees in front of another attacker, sending a palm strike at his crotch. He bent and grabbed himself in pain, allowing her to stake him before being surrounded.
"Looks like you can use a leg up, B," Faith said, flipping into the center of the circle of vampires that had surrounded the blond Slayer.
"Or a fist," Buffy replied, jumping to her feet. "I'm not picky."
They grinned at each other, then lost themselves in the fight. Faith lashed out with her foot, catching one across the jaw. She ducked under his clumsy kick, sweeping her leg out to trip him. He fell to the hard ground with a thud as she turned her attention on his neighbor. With a well placed blow, he fell on top of his comrade, and she shoved the stake into his chest with her weight on it. As he exploded into dust, she let her weight carry her down onto the other vampire, the wood penetrating his heart.
Buffy grabbed one of her attackers by the hair and practically flung him across the yard to where Willow, Oz and Xander stood with crosses and holy water, protecting the house. They pounced on him as she turned her attention back to the shrinking circle. She crouched then leapt backwards, flipping over the heads of two vamps trying to sneak up on her. She landed behind them lightly on her feet, not hesitating as she plunged a stake into the one on her left's back.
The one on her right grabbed her by the lapels of her jacket, bringing her close as he opened his mouth. "Oh, man. Someone needs a Mentos," she quipped, kicking him sharply in the shin, breaking the bone. He dropped her, and she sent a punch to his face, continuing the move to spin into a back fist. His head flew back with the blows and she used the opportunity to stake him, as well.
Faith boxed another vampire's ears, then grabbed his head and slammed his face into her knee. With a savage twist, she broke his neck, and he fell to the ground, uselessly. She smiled evilly at the last two remaining vamps, Buffy walking up beside her. "Hey, boys. Got milk?"
The two Slayer's jumped at the two vampires with mirrored kicks that only those who trained and worked together for years could accomplish. With expert blows, the vamps were soon bloodied and staked, and the girls high fived one another. "The death squad strikes again," Faith said, turning back towards the house.
"Was it me, or did they seem kind of wimpy?" Buffy asked, looking around for Xander, Willow and Oz. "Hey, where'd they go?"
The girls turned at the sound of Xander's yell and saw him come crashing out of the woods next to the house, his shirt torn and his face bloody. "They got Oz and Willow," he gasped. "Cemetery."
The two Slayers took off running immediately. When they got to the cemetery, they split up, searching for their friends.
"Buffy!" Faith yelled, dropping to her knees. Willow and Oz both lay face down on the ground, shirtless, with deep gouges in their backs. She checked their pulses and was relieved to find them strong.
Buffy ran over and practically fell to the ground when she saw them. "Are they alive?"
"Yes," Faith answered, pulling off her jacket to cover them.
"Wait," Buffy said. Faith shot her a confused look. "There are words."
"What?" Faith got to her feet and looked to where Buffy was pointing.
Carved into the backs of Willow and Oz were the words ‘Four To Go.'
"Willow and Oz are ok, but will be in the hospital for a week or so," Buffy said into the phone.
"I'm glad they're not more seriously hurt," Angel replied from the other end of the line. He sighed. "I'm sorry, Buffy."
"It's not your fault, it's that blond chick's," Buffy corrected. "Besides, you called to warn us. We just didn't get the message in time."
"The vampiress that attacked you is named Virginia and she was the master vampire's we dusted a few months ago second in command."
"And lover," Cordelia called from the background.
"So, this is revenge," Buffy surmised.
"If you call killing all my children and injuring two of my close friends revenge, then yes," Angel replied.
"She pulled the plug on a soap opera?"
Angel chuckled, even though the situation was bleak. "No, she killed all the vampires I've ever made except for one. I received their ashes in a box yesterday afternoon."
"Who's the one?" Buffy asked.
"I don't know," he answered. "It's not Drusilla. Her doll was included in the package."
"And that means it's not Spike, either," Buffy said, frowning as a sadness suddenly filled her heart. "He would have fought tooth and nail to save her."
"I know," he sighed.
"What are we going to do?"
"I think you, Faith and Xander should come down here and we'll hunt her instead of her coming after you guys."
"What about my mom and Giles?"
"I think they'll be fine," Angel said. "Neither can really be qualified as my friends, I'm sad to say, whereas you three are. Plus, this way Rupert can keep watch over Willow and Oz."
"Sounds like a plan," Buffy said. "Expect us tomorrow late afternoon. We'll leave after Xander's and my last classes."
Xander looked over the seat of the Blazer at Faith. She was sitting with her feet propped up on the seat, eyes closed, head bobbing to the music coming over her walkman. "Buffy, what do you think about love?"
"Love bites," Buffy answered flippantly. "Just like Def Leppard said."
"I'm serious," Xander told her.
"Xander, I haven't scored too high in that area," Buffy said. "The one guy I loved turned psycho, tried to kill all of us, then I sent him to hell."
"And now he's living with Cordelia," Xander finished. "Which is a hell all of its own."
"No." Xander faced front and looked out the window at the passing scenery. "I'm happy she's happy. I would have been happier if it wasn't Deadboy making her happy, but I'm still happy for her."
"I guess you're happy,' Buffy joked, looking over a him. "They why do you look so sad?"
"Love bites," he replied, giving her a wane smile.
They arrived at the warehouse and honked the horn before pulling into the underground garage, the large metal door closing behind them.
"Angel, they're here," Cordelia called to her boyfriend. She let go of the heavy drape and smoothed her shirt, then patted her hair.
"Relax," Angel said, walking over to her as he slid on a black T-shirt. "It's only Buffy, Faith and Xander."
"I know," Cordelia replied, looking him over with a critical eye. "We just haven't seen them since we got together."
"You mean since I started worshiping your body with my tongue," he teased.
She glared at him. "Keep it up, blood breath, and you'll find yourself missing a tongue."
Angel grinned at her, then dropped a kiss on her forehead as he heard the freight elevator approach the third floor. "I love you, ‘Delia."
She growled at him over the hated shortening of her name, then plastered a smile on her face as Buffy raised the grate. "Hi, guys. Welcome to our new home."
"Hi Cordelia, Angel," Buffy greeted, echoed by Faith and Xander. "Wow, this place is much nicer than the last one."
"That's because I decorated it," Cordelia said, motioning to the large, open floor. "I got sick of all the gloom Mr. Broody insisted on."
"You do know I'm standing right here?" Angel asked sarcastically, taking Buffy's bag.
"And here I thought you were a talking shadow," she replied in reference to his all black clothing.
Angel rolled his eyes. "Ladies and Xander, if you follow me, I'll give you the nickel and dime tour." He led them to the guest bedroom, tossing the bag on the bed. "Buffy and Faith will be sleeping in here. Xander, you got the couch, but you'll be sharing the bathroom."
He led them back out into the short hall and pointed at the door opposite them. "That's our room. Open the door at your own risk. I almost didn't make it out of there alive one day."
"Attack of the killer hair care products?" Buffy asked with a laugh
"Hair sprayed to the wall," Angel replied, grinning. He stepped back into the main room and spread his arms. "And this is the living room. Feel free to use anything. Down the stairs on the second floor is a fully equipped work out room in case you get bored. Cordy and I are on vampire hours, so if you go out during the day, be sure to get the key code off the fridge."
"That's the most I've ever heard Deadboy say," Xander whispered to Faith. She snorted.
"So, what are we going to do tonight?" Buffy asked, itching to get her hands on Virginia for hurting her friends.
"Tonight, we plan on where we're going to hit," Cordelia said, slipping into hunter mode. She pulled out a map of the city and laid it on the table. On it were highlighted marks in various colors, indicating locations of the different vampire territories, undead hangouts and various clubs that attracted them.
"This area here was Marcius' territory before we dusted him," she said, pointing to the map. "There are close to fifty clubs know to us that the vamps frequent...."
The group rose with the setting sun, cleaning up and preparing for the night ahead of them. Xander, the least experienced of the group, had been elected to stay at the warehouse and scan the newspapers for localized vampire victims or other information he could glean from Angel's Internet contacts.
"We're going trolling," Cordelia explained to Faith and Buffy. "Basically, we wear these skimpy clothes, act loud and bubble-headed, and try to pick up vampires. Once you get them outside, get to an alley, and do your stuff. Angel is our backup."
"Do you do this often?" Buffy asked.
"A couple times per week at various clubs throughout the city," Cordelia answered. "Tonight we're going to a club that was well renown by Marcius and his minions. At 3:30 am, stop whatever you're doing and head back here separately." Angel came down the stairs, dressed in his usual black, and kissed Cordelia.
"Ready to rock and roll?" he asked the girls.
"Ready, willing and able," Buffy answered.
"Then, let's fly."
The girls split up when the reached the club, taking various vamps to the alley to ‘persuade' them into giving up information on Virginia. As the night wore on, the pickings became slim, so they separated and went back to the warehouse to compare notes. Buffy didn't see the white blond vampire who followed her.
"Ugh," Faith said, throwing herself on the couch. "If one more guy touched my ass, there was going to be some serious violence."
"Goes with the territory of being young and beautiful," Xander said, sitting down next to her. "It happens to me all the time."
She laughed, smacking his knee with her hand. "Dickens me, Xander. Did something like that ever happen to you?"
"It most certainly did not," he replied. "Except for the time in the locker room when I confronted Larry, he was jock at Sunnydale High, about being a werewolf. Turns out he was not the hairy beast we were looking for, and I was subject to a close encounter of the male persuasion."
Faith laughed with him until tears were streaming down her face. "At least he had good taste."
"Thank you...I think."
Buffy looked at the couple on the couch, then at her companions in the small kitchen. "Go Faith," she said, motioning with her head. "She's got a thing for Xander."
"Big thing or little thing?" Cordelia asked, watching the two.
"Very big," Buffy replied.
"He's got a yen for her, too," the brunette said.
"How can you tell?" Angel asked, putting the finishing touches on dinner. Cordelia gave him a look that said 'duh.' "Oh, never mind."
A loud bell sounded, and the LA couple gave each other puzzled looks. "Who could be at the door at this hour?" Cordelia said, moving to the large windows and parting the heavy curtains. "No one's out front."
"I'll check the back door," Angel said, wiping his hands quickly on a towel, then jogging down the stairs near the elevator. He circled through the empty first floor to the loading docks. Picking up a loaded crossbow that was always at the ready, he carefully opened the large, metal door.
"A gift? For me?"
Angel couldn't believe his eyes, the weapon lowering on its own. "We thought you were dust."
"Yeah, well, you can't keep a good vamp down. Are you going to invite me in or what?"
"Sure," Angel said, stepping back. "Come in...Spike."
"Look who I found," Angel said, returning to the third floor, peroxide blond vampire in tow. The four friends looked up from the couches simultaneously.
"Spike!" Buffy said, jumping to her feet and practically leaping over the back of the couch. She wasn't thinking about why she was feeling happy to see him. "We thought you were dust."
"So said your snookums," Spike said as the Slayer approached. "What? Disappointed?"
"Actually, I'm not," Buffy said. "Life would get way too boring if you weren't around to muck it up."
"Why thank you, Slayer," he replied. "So, what do you kids do for fun around here?"
"Oh, the usual, beat up vamps, stake vamps. Sometimes we even drop organs on them," Buffy teased.
"Before this so-called conversation deteriorates any further," Angel interrupted. "What are you doing here, Spike?"
"I came to see the Slayer, mate," Spike told him. Buffy arched an eyebrow. "Got a place we can chat?"
"Sure," Buffy answered, confused. "We'll go downstairs."
After they left, the four remaining looked at one another. "I can't believe you let him in, Angel," Cordelia said, smacking her boyfriend on the arm. "Now we'll have to sleep with some weapons."
"We do that anyway," Angel replied.
"I have to go with Cordelia on this one," Xander said. "Spike is news of the worst kind."
"He don't look so tough," Faith piped in. The three others gave her a look. "I could take him, no problem."
"Not Spike," Xander told her. "He's, what's the polite word? A sociopath. Even Buffy hasn't been able to slay him."
"I have a feeling that's because they had a truce," Angel said, rubbing the back of his head in memory. "And before that, she did put him in a wheelchair, which delighted my worse half to no end. The present half, too."
"I could still dust him," Faith insisted. "Watch me."
"Why don't we hold off on the slaying, Miss Stake Happy," Cordelia said. "Find out what he wants first." She turned to Angel. "Do you think he's the 'one' who's left?"
Angel sighed. "Probably. I hate to say this, but I'm glad he's not gone."
Xander threw up his hands. "First Buffy, now you. Hello, this is Spike we're talking about. Does the Judge ring any bells? Or bug guy?"
Cordelia shuddered. "Thank you for the reminder, Xander. Now I'm going to have to take a shower," she said, heading to the master bedroom. She paused at the door and looked at Angel. "Can I speak to you privately?"
Angel nodded, trying to smother his smile. "Dinner will be ready in five, guys," he said, moving to join his girlfriend. "Help yourselves."
The bedroom door closed and the two remaining friends looked at each other. "Why do I get the feeling they won't be out for awhile?" Xander said.
"Because your mind is like mine," Faith said. "Dirty to the core."
"So, what's up?" Buffy asked, taking a seat on the end of the bench press.
Spike didn't answer immediately, instead he paced back and forth in front of her, his long coat swirling out behind him with each turn. "I need your help. Again." He stopped directly in front of her, his blue eyes full of pain and anger. "I want your help to kill the bitch who got Dru."
"Ok," she answered simply. The vampire looked surprised and she chuckled. "We're going after her anyway, so one more on our team won't hurt."
"What did she do to you?" Spike asked. Buffy filled him in on what had happened in the cemetery, the 'gift' Angel had received, and the current plan to find Virginia.
"And that as we say is that," Buffy finished. "You in?"
"You bet your bloody sweet arse," he answered, giving her a small grin.
"Good," she said, standing. "Let's get your car parked in the garage and out of sight." She walked up to him and put her hand on his arm, squeezing gently. "I'm sorry about Drusilla."
His face flickered in pain, and he gazed down at the petite Slayer. "Thanks."
Buffy nodded and moved to the stairs. "Come on, let's break it to the others that you're staying. And to Xander that you'll be sharing the couch with him."
Cordelia sat on Angel's backside, rubbing his shoulders. "Are you ok?"
"Not really, Cordy," he answered truthfully. "It finally hit me when I saw Spike that all of my children are gone, except for him. I know I shouldn't feel anything about it, seeing as my un-life is spent destroying other vampires, but I do."
"They were your friends," Cordelia comforted. They had many conversations about his past, and she understood what it was like for him. "Even if they were evil. You spent time caring for them, teaching them, even running with a few, like Spike and Drusilla. It's ok to mourn their passing."
Angel sighed. He still marveled at the differences between Buffy and Cordelia. Whereas the Slayer would have avoided the subject of his past, Cordelia embraced it as a part of him, accepting he was one with the demon, not letting him wallow in guilt. "Thank you. For understanding."
She bent and kissed him between his shoulder blades. "I told you I had more going for me than just my beauty."
Spike lay on the couch staring at the ceiling as the sun rose in the sky. He couldn't sleep, his mind whirling from the events of the past several months. After he had left Sunnydale for the second time, he'd done as planned going to Brazil, tying Dru up and torturing her until she loved him again. Surprisingly, it worked. They were happy together, traveling from country to country, feasting on the natives, just the two of them.
They had made a stopover in the states on their way to Canada when it happened. Virginia and her minions had descended upon the happy couple without warning. Spike had barely managed to escape after Drusilla had been killed, the only thing keeping him alive was revenge. He'd gone to Sunnydale first, finding the Slayer gone after a quick talk with Joyce, then had come to LA. He asked around the community, learning that Angel and his consort were the big to-do in the city. He assumed it was Buffy and was saddened by the fact that she was still with the lout. He thought her smarter than that.
Sighing, he turned on his side to look at the young man sleeping on the couch opposite him. If he wanted to, he could drain the life from Xander before he even woke. But he didn't want to do anything other than kill the bitch who killed Dru. The bedroom door opened and Buffy stepped out wearing only a white T-shirt, closing the door behind her.
"What are you doing awake?" she asked, moving silently to him.
"I could ask the same of you, pet," he answered.
"Couldn't sleep," she said, crouching down next to him so as not to wake Xander.
"Fate of the world, depressing thoughts, Faith's snoring," she replied with a smile.
"Want to work off some of that excess energy?"
Her eyes lit up. "Sure. Let me throw some shorts on. There's blood in the fridge if you're hungry."
Spike stood as she returned to the bedroom. He went over to the refrigerator before he could tell himself off and drained one of Angel's packs of blood. He was still wearing his jeans, but was shirtless and barefoot. Buffy emerged again and the two went quietly to the second floor.
"Want to use some 'manly' weapons?" Buffy asked with a smile. "Or just go hand to hand?"
"I think we can skip the weapons and go right for the fists to cuffs," he replied. They began to circle each other, both predators at their full powers. She hadn't gotten into a real fight with him for years, and the adrenaline was pumping. He'd always been her best adversary, the most deadly, the one who kept her on her toes. She had almost lost her life to him on several occasions. It wasn't until the night Drusilla was restored to health that she'd been able to take him down.
They began to spar in earnest, throwing each other about the large, open second floor, carefully avoiding the heavy blackout curtains covering the windows that circled the building. Each hit was powerful, staggering, each kick sending the other flying back. But smiles plastered both their faces as they fought, the verbal banter flying between the two.
When they called it quits, Buffy flopped down on the hard floor, hands behind her head, breathing heavily. Spike sat lazily beside her inert form, a large grin on his face. "That was fun," she told him, smiling in return.
"Nothing like a bit a violence to get your mind cleared," he replied. "Especially with a worthy opponent."
"Thanks," she said. "You're not too bad yourself."
"Well, you know. I eat right, get plenty of sleep, avoid the harsh UV rays," he teased. Buffy laughed and he felt the oppressive weight that had been on his undead heart lighten. "I hate to say this, but it's bloody damn good to see you, Slayer."
"Mutual," she replied. "The vamps I usually deal with have no good comebacks, and they are really pathetic in the violence department."
"What about your pumpkin upstairs?" he asked, curious as to why she was sleeping in a room with Faith instead of Angel.
"Who, Angel?" she said. "I don't fight with him. You'd have to ask Cordelia."
"But I thought you two..."
Buffy chuckled. "Nope. He left right after I graduated high school. You were wrong, by the way. We can only be friends, it just took awhile."
He tilted his head thoughtfully as he looked at her. "I don't know whether to be happy or sad for you, pet."
She shrugged, which caused him to grin from the comical gesture when she was prone on the floor. "Be happy that Angel's happy. Be sad 'cuz I don't have a man of my own yet."
"What, a beauty like you?" he asked, skeptically. "I figured guys would be crawling over themselves like you were a bitch in heat."
"Thanks, I think," Buffy said. She closed her eyes and sighed relaxedly. "Well, I'm sufficiently tuckered. Mind if I go to sleep right here?"
"Not at all, ducks," Spike said. "I'll try to control my urge to gobble you up."
She opened one eye to peer threateningly at him. "Do it and you'll fit in a sandwich bag."
"Wouldn't want that, pet, now would we?" he smirked at her. "Who would be left to put you in your place?"
He chuckled softly. "'Night, Slayer."