Joyce volunteered to stay at the library and relay messages between the groups as they split up to search the sewers for the peroxide-blond vampire. Xander went with Giles, Angel went with Willow and the two Slayers went together, each pair going in a different direction through the many offshoots that ran under Sunnydale.
"Alright, I'm here," Cordelia said, entering the library. She frowned when she didn't see anyone. "Hello?"
"Cordelia, hi," Joyce said quietly as she came out of the office.
"Where's Giles?" she asked. "And the rest of the MOD Squad?"
"They're looking for Spike," Joyce replied.
"Eew, why would they want to find that bleached bloodsucker?" Cordelia said.
"He's Buffy's boyfriend," she answered.
"But I thought Angel was...you know what? I don't want to know," the former cheerleader said. "I came for this meeting, interrupting my summer rerun schedule, and no one is here."
"I don't think they will be holding it tonight," Joyce said. "I'll tell Ru-Mr. Giles to call you tomorrow, is that alright?"
"Yeah, fine," she said. "But if this happens again, I am not helping Buffy even if it is the end of the world...again." With that, the brunette left the library.
Under the town, three groups of searchers were having no luck. As the hours passed, and the night came closer to dawn, spirits were low. Each of the teams ran into several vampires and other sewer creatures that they easily dispatched because of the element of surprise. But the one vampire they wanted to find was still AWOL.
"Angel, what if we don't find him?" Willow voiced her concerns for the first time since they split off from the others. "Buffy loves him as much as she loved you, maybe more. Oh, I shouldn't have said that."
"It's ok, Willow," Angel said, sloshing through the water at her side. "Buffy and I just weren't meant to be. Our relationship was too filled with secrets and tension. And you know we didn't talk much."
"Yeah. You were Mr. Cryptic-Brooding-Guy," she replied with a smile for him. "Now you're Mr. Not-So-Cryptic-Brooding-Guy."
"Funny," he scoffed.
"I know," she said. "I should give up my aspirations of becoming a teacher or computer wunderkind and become a comedian."
"As Doug would say: ‘Don't quit your day job.'"
"You've seen The Cutting Edge?" Willow said, dumbfounded. "Since when do you have a VCR?"
"Since some redhead mocked me for not having seen The Princess Bride," Angel replied. "I haven't been mocked in centuries."
"Well, there's a first for everything," she told him. Angel gave her a seldom-seen smile and they continued on for a few minutes in comfortable silence. The hacker was the first to hear something, which she brought to her companion's attention.
"I hear it," Angel said quietly. He gave her the flashlight and pulled out a stake. The two sloshed as quietly as possible towards the noise. As they got closer, they began to hear a repetitious sound with muffled words in between.
"You...< scrape > ...Stupid...< scrape > ...Bloody... < scrape > ...Bitch... < scrape > ...I... < scrape > ...Hate... < scrape > ...You... < scrape > ...Stupid...< scrape > ...Bloody... < scrape > ...Bitch... < scrape > ...I... < scrape > ...Hate... < scrape > ...You... < scrape > ...Stupid...< scrape > ...Bloody... < scrape > ...Bitch... < scrape > ...I... < scrape > ...Hate... < scrape > ...You... < scrape >...Stupid...< scrape > ...Bloody... < scrape > ...Bitch...."
Angel was first to round the corner and he froze, causing Willow to bump into him. But she didn't make a noise as she stared at the blond vampire. He didn't seem to notice the flashlight shining directly on him, he just continued to punch at a hole in the brick wall, repeating the same sentence over and over.
" ...Hate... < scrape > ...You... < scrape > ...Stupid...< scrape > ...Bloody... < scrape > ...Bitch... < scrape > ...I... < scrape > ...Hate... < scrape > ...You... < scrape > ...Stupid...< scrape > ...Bloody... < scrape > ...Bitch... < scrape > ...I... < scrape > ...Hate... < scrape > ...You... < scrape >...Stupid...."
Willow must have made a noise, because Angel moved into action. He quickly got behind Spike and wrapped both arms around him, pulling him away from the wall. The hacker hurried over with the light as the blond vampire snarled and struggled against his sire. "Willow, grab his left arm," Angel told her through clenched teeth.
She rounded the two vampires and stuck the flashlight in her front overall pocket and latched onto Spike's arm with both hands. The light shined up into her face, casting a scary glow over her features as her green eyes widened. "Oh goddess, Angel, his hand."
Angel moved so rapidly, it was if he hadn't moved at all. He let go of Spike with one arm and plucked the heavy Mag light out of Willow's pocket, then bashed the blond in the back of the skull, rendering him unconscious. Spike slumped down into the water, almost pulling Willow with him. "I got him," the dark-haired vampire told her as he stuck the light back in her pocket.
Willow let go only to retrieve the light and shine it down on Spike's hand. Clenched into a fist that resembled a piece of hamburger was a fragment of brick. It was worn on the sides from repeated scraping as he had withdrawn his hand each time he punched the sewer wall.
"What time is it?" Angel asked as he hoisted the unconscious vampire over his shoulder.
"Almost five," she answered.
"We need to get above ground and to the mansion," he told her as they rapidly backtracked to the access hatch they recently passed. "Call Joyce and tell her to get driving. Run ahead and as soon as you hit the surface, tell her where we are."
"Right," she replied, running through the water with loud splashes. She pulled out the cell phone and hit the redial button, the phone already being on and twice used. "Mrs. Summers? It's Willow. Call me back on your cell phone. We found Spike and need to get him and Angel to the mansion before dawn."
The others in the mansion's main room looked exhausted and disheveled from trekking through the sewers for hours. Yet, each of them held a look of concern for the comatose, blond vampire in the other room.
"Go ahead, Buffy," Angel told her. "But don't try to wake him up." He said the last part to thin air because the Slayer had already dashed into the room.
"How is he?" Willow repeated the question with quiet consternation. She was the only one besides Angel to see how Spike had been acting, and to see his hand as well. Angel had wrapped his hand while they waited for Joyce in a storefront doorway.
"Not good," Angel replied, giving each of his guests a serious look. "When Willow and I found him, he was repeatedly hitting the sewer wall and by the look of his hand and the size of the hole, I'd say he'd been doing it for eight to ten hours." He moved over to the couch next to the hacker and sat down heavily, rubbing a weary and worried hand over his features. "He was also saying one looped sentence: ‘You stupid bloody bitch, I hate you.'"
"Do you know who he was referring to?" Giles asked.
Angel shook his head. "No. But he came to briefly while I was getting him into bed and I had to knock him over the head again because of his violent actions."
"Spike?" Buffy said, sitting next to the bed and brushing his cheek with her hand. Tears were falling slowly down her face. "What happened, Spike? Why did you scare me like that? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?"
She studied his peaceful features, her heart pounding a steady, worried staccato in her chest. Her hand moved down to clasp his right, unbandaged one lying on his stomach. "Did I do something? Is that it? I can fix it. You just have to tell me what it is," she said. Her other hand came up to muffle her choked sob. "Oh, Spike, I love you so much. Please tell me what's wrong."
She began to cry heavily, her head now on the bed over the hand she held. She didn't understand what was happening to the vampire she loved. She didn't understand his strange behavior over the past month and a half; his violence and short-temperedness; the way he'd just leave her company suddenly; his restlessness, as if something was under his skin making him more hyper than normal.
"Buffy," Angel said quietly, putting his hand on her shoulder. "You need to go now."
"No," Buffy replied, sitting up and scrubbing the tears from her face. "I'm not going anywhere."
"You have to," Angel said. "I don't know how he's going to act when he wakes up again and I think the less distractions, the better. Plus, you have to rest up for the game tonight."
"I'm not going anywhere, Angel," she stated. Angel nodded and she thought she'd won, only to suddenly feel something sharp in her arm. She turned her head and saw Willow standing there looking guiltily, then down to see a feathered dart sticking her. "No...," Buffy trailed off as she slumped in the chair, the tranquilizer knocking her out. Angel picked her up and carried her into the other room, passing her to Faith. "What time again tonight?"
"We'll pick you a-a-and Spike up at seven thirty," Giles informed him. "That should give you both enough time to, er, eat."
Angel nodded. "Hopefully, Spike will be ok by then. If not..." He let the sentence trail off.
"Call if you need anything," Joyce said as Faith, Xander and Giles headed for the door. "I won't be leaving until four."
"Thank you, Joyce," he replied. She gave him a slight smile, then went out the door, as well.
"Angel, tell me the truth," Willow started from her place near the doorway. "Do you think he'll be ok?"
"I don't know," Angel told her. "I really don't know." She nodded and silently left.
With a sigh, he went into the bedroom and studied Spike for a moment, then he took the chair that Buffy had abandoned and settled down for a long day.
Spike opened his eyes, not quite sure of where he was; he only knew that he couldn't feel his left hand and the bottom of his feet hurt. He looked left, then right, trying to ascertain where he was and why things seemed familiar. **I'm in Sao Paolo,** he thought as he recognized the bedroom that had been his in the house he had taken over with his minions. **What the bloody hell am I doing back here?**
He hadn't even thought about Brazil since he'd returned to Sunnydale to be with the Slayer. He remembered the night he'd just up and left, surprising his minions. He bet that they were relieved, however, with his departure, considering he terrorized them so badly they'd hide until he'd go out for the night. And while he was out, he'd frighten the locals with his restlessness and hyper behavior. He'd been kicked out of many clubs during the month he'd been away from the Slayer.
The Slayer. How he loved that little powerhouse. She made him feel calmer just by holding his hand, like she was his grounding wire. He didn't know why that was, but he really didn't care. All he cared about was her, the hunt and blood. If he ever got the chance, he'd love to mix the three together. It would make for a very interesting night, and a pleasurable one at that. He felt himself growing hard and his mind wandered back to the fact that he was in Brazil, not Sunnydale where his Slayer was located. **Time to focus, mate,** he scolded himself.
He took a step forward and paused when small, stabbing pains shot through his foot. He looked down and saw that he was barefoot, but that wasn't the odd part. What looked like thin, silver wires were attached to the tops of his feet. He saw two more attached to the tops of his hands and a third that hung in front of his body. When he lifted his left hand to tug on the wire in front of him, the skin and muscle melted together until his hand resembled ground beef with the whites of his bones popping through.
Curious, he tried to move his fingers and found that he couldn't, although he could move his wrist. He couldn't feel any pain radiating from it, in fact he couldn't feel his hand at all. It was as if it simply wasn't there. He frowned and let the appendage drop, using his right hand to tug at the wire in front of him instead. When he did this, his head jerked with the movement, making him realize that the fifth wire was coming from the top of his skull. **Is this somebody's idea of a sick joke?** he thought with a growl.
Looking at the floor, he saw that the wires all ran out of the bedroom. He followed them from the bedroom and down the hallway. He expected the slack to be dragging behind him as he went forward, but instead the wires stayed in front of him, as if someone were pulling on the other end as he moved. With that thought, he stopped suddenly to see what would happen.
Spike was almost jerked off his feet as the wires became taut. He tried to not go forward, but his heels skid on the floor as whomever was at the other end pulled him. His chin was on his chest, his arms out in front of him as the wires were pulled. Deciding he'd rather not fall flat on his face, he began walking again towards the source and was relieved to note that the tension slackened. However, the tension in his body caused by anger thrummed under his skin.
He heard her devilish laughter before he saw her. That sound was still music to his ears after all this time and he felt himself drawn to it. As he came into the main living area of the house, the room fluxed and changed, turning into an open, stone throne room with his Princess sitting on an ornate, gold throne.
Her dress was made of deep red velvet, molding to her body and setting a beautiful contrast against her pale, creamy skin. Her dark hair hung in tendrils around her face, her large eyes watching him with a naughty gleam. Her lips held a hint of the evil smile that he loved to see, because that meant her mind was conjuring up delightfully wicked things.
He kept walking towards her until he stood at the bottom of the two red, carpeted steps that led up to her. She tilted her head slightly, giving him a coy look. It was then he noticed that in her hand she held what looked to him like a cross with the silver wires that were attached to him leading right to it. She glanced down at what he was looking at, then returned her gaze to his, her lips curling up even more.
With one quick movement of her hand, he was yanked forward by the silver wires onto his hands and knees on the steps, his head bowed because of the tautness of the wire. Her delighted, wicked laughter filled the room, echoing off the stone walls. When it faded, he felt a cool finger under his chin, a sharp nail tracing lightly along his skin.
"Spike," Drusilla said, her voice hauntingly beautiful to him. Her hand moved away and he felt the wires relax. "Look at me, luv."
He raised his head to see her laying before him in a black corset and stockings, the throne room and steps having faded into a bedroom. She crooked her finger in a beckoning gesture, her tongue darting out to run over her lower lip. He felt himself crawling forward over her, as if he had no control over his actions. Her eyes held a malicious gleam as she pulled him flush against her body, her mouth capturing his.
Spike closed his eyes as her cool lips and tongue danced with his, and memories washed over him like a tidal wave. He grew hard in response to her expert teasing and he felt himself drowning in the sensations. She hadn't been this amorous in so very long, not since before she was injured in Prague. And when she had gotten well, his sire had returned and taken her from him and, no matter what he did, he couldn't get her back. Not even teaming up with the Slayer or later torturing her had....
He broke away from Drusilla, his eyes going wild as he realized what was going on. She began to laugh again; this time the sound was full of evil as she pulled him closer again, her fangs grazing his neck.
"No!" Spike yelled, trying to shove himself away from her. He fell off the bed and onto the stone floor, the vampiress watching him with mad eyes. He scrambled to his feet and tried to leave the room, but he was prevented by the silver wires that ran to the controller in her hand. She waved her fingers tauntingly at him.
"Leave me alone!" he spat at her, grabbing the wire attached to his head with his right hand and pulling with all his strength. The only thing that did was cause excruciating pain to tear at his skull. He felt rage bubble under his skin at being held like a hapless puppet under her control. But he wasn't going to let her get to him. He'd die before he would give in to her.
Angel was startled as Spike sat bolt upright and growled, his face changing to that of his demon. He went to restrain the younger vampire, but was unprepared for him to scramble out of the bed and head out the door of the bedroom with his hands holding his head.
"Leave me alone!" Spike yelled as images flitted through his mind. Memories of his times with Drusilla came to the foreground in rapid succession, like a movie on high speed. Then she was there again, laughing at him, pulling him, calling to him. "LEAVE ME ALONE!"
Angel was halfway out of the bedroom when he saw Spike charging headlong for the semi-boarded entry that led outside. With a burst of speed, he tackled his childe. Both of them skidded across the hard floor, stopping barely a centimeter before the wide patch of sunlight. He flipped Spike over and pinned the vampire to the floor, covering him with his body. "Spike, snap out of it!"
Spike struggled against him, growling until Angel slipped into game face and growled back in a sire's warning tone. The peroxide blonde's yellow eyes flashed in defiance, a snarl issuing from him. A low rumble echoed across the mansion from Angel in response, deep and full of the power that was kept in careful check around humans.
Spike stopped as suddenly as he started, his face taking on its handsome features once more. His ice blue eyes stared up into Angel's still gold ones with recognition, fear and submission. His sire nodded and let his own human mask drop into place as he became more aware of his surroundings. He was on the floor, in the mansion, in Sunnydale. Not in Brazil. Not with Drusilla.
Angel got to his feet and helped Spike up, then led him back towards the bedroom. Once there, he put his childe back into bed and stripped down to his boxers, then climbed in next to him. Forcing him on his side, Angel wrapped his arm around the younger vampire's body and held him close in the dominant position, his body spooning Spike's. "Tell me," he instructed, his tone offering no argument.
"She's in my head," Spike said, his voice barely above a whisper. "I can't get her out of my bloody head. She keeps calling to me, wanting me to go back to her, wanting me to love her again." Unknowingly, he clasped Angel's hand, holding his sire tighter to him in a protection-seeking manner. "It keeps getting worse. I feel like I'm a fucking marionette. Cor, Angelus, I was happy. Why can't she just let me be happy? She's the one who didn't want me, threw me away like yesterday's rubbish."
He felt exhaustion creep over him as he continued, the past month and a half of little sleep and high anxiety mixed in with his normal hyperactivity catching up to him. "I love the Slayer. What Dru and I had is over. Why does she want me now? Why can't she let me alone?"
Angel closed his eyes as Spike fell silent, forcing away his pain at the thought of Buffy being hurt, which would probably happen because Spike would either go insane from Drusilla's manipulations or kill himself. He could go down to Brazil and try to destroy Drusilla, but with the coming game it was impossible, and afterwards, it might be too late. The only thing he could do was try to protect his childe as best he could and pray to a God who didn't listen to creatures like him that everything would work out.
He felt Spike slip into sleep and he allowed himself one final thought before following, "I hope you're strong, Buffy, because it's going to be one horrible ride."
Buffy was still debating whether or not to kill Willow or thank her for knocking her out as she entered the mansion. On one hand, there was Spike. On the other, there was the game that night that she needed to be ready for. Maybe she would thank her best friend by not killing her.
She had said goodbye to her mother a short while ago and promised to be careful and stay alive; then, after dressing in easy-to-slay clothes and packing several weapons, she called Giles and told him to pick her up at the mansion with the guys. She had wanted to spend as much time with Spike as possible before her attention ended up being divided between the next game and her friends, as well as him.
Dropping the weapons bag on the couch, she made her way to Angel's bedroom. And came to a dead stop in the doorway.
For there, lying together in bed, were both Angel and Spike.
Buffy knew from the memories Spike had shared that he'd had a physical relationship with Angelus. She also knew that what she saw in front of her came nowhere close to the mental pictures she'd painted of that dominant/submissive relationship. If they weren't both male and very much adults, the scene before her would have reminded her of a mother comforting her child.
Then she realized that was exactly what Angel was doing; his soul gave him the ability to use his role as sire to comfort and protect Spike, rather than to be cruel, or to dominate and punish him. She felt a wellspring of tenderness for Angel bubble inside her and a small smile crossed her lips. For him to be doing something like that meant he truly cared for the blond vampire.
Silently, she entered and sat in the chair still next to the bed. The late afternoon sun that filtered into the main room of the mansion barely penetrated the bedroom, but enough light was cast so she could see her love's face clearly. Tears started to roll down her cheeks as she reached a hand out to brush against his brow.
Someone take these dreams away
That pull me to another day
A duel personality
No stranger to reality
They keep calling me
They keep calling me
Keep on calling me
They keep calling me
Spike slowly opened his eyes, afraid of what he might find. He was becoming confused as to what was real and what were Drusilla's warped mind games. The dreams over the past month and a half kept getting more and more vivid, leading him to lash out with his fists and his words and his hard mating with the Slayer. And as time progressed, Drusilla invaded his waking thoughts, twisting them, using them to bring him to the brink of insanity.
He didn't even know why she was doing it, either. He still loved her, had a special place in his heart for her, but she was the one who had wanted it to end. She was the one who had laughed at his attempts to win her back. She was the one who had left him first. And so he had let himself fall in love with the Slayer and now Drusilla wanted him back. But he didn't want to go back to his dark, wicked queen. He wanted to stay with the woman who brought sunshine into his unlife just by being there. His Slayer. Buffy. Who was sitting in front of him with a face full of love and worry as she stroked his brow. When he focused on her, her mouth curled up in the corners as her lower lip trembled. "Hi," she said quietly. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I went a round with you while you were PMSing," Spike replied, his voice hoarse. He became aware of the fact that he was curled up against someone and it took a moment to register that it was his sire. And that he was holding Angel's hand tightly against his bare stomach in a protective manner. Drusilla must have really gotten to him if he had allowed himself to be in this position.
Buffy watched as confusion, then understanding, crossed his features. She looked past him and saw that Angel had propped his head up on his other hand and was watching both her and Spike. She hadn't realized that he had woken up, as well.
"Buffy," Spike said in a low voice. She returned her gaze to his and saw a palpable need reflected in them. Without a word, she kicked her shoes off and climbed under the sheets. Facing him, she wrapped her left arm around his bare waist between the two men and placed the other under his head as she held him to her chest.
Spike released Angel's hand only to pull down on the v-collar of her tank top until one of her breasts
was free; then, he re-linked his fingers over his sire's and brought their hands behind her back to hold
her to him. His left arm lay uselessly between them as he quickly
sliced the tender skin around her nipple so her blood flowed like a mother's milk and began to suckle her tit like a babe.
Spike's actions brought both arousing and nurturing feelings to Buffy. She met Angel's eyes over the blond's head and saw that he understood what was happening right then as well as what was wrong with Spike.
He brought his hand around her again to entwine with Angel's and pulled the vampire behind him
even closer to him. With this action, he was sandwiched between them, protected by them from
both the outside world and inside his mind.
The three of them stayed like that, unmoving, until the sun sank over the horizon, signaling the end of day.