"The computer age," the smartly-dressed, African American vampire commented as his eyes
skimmed down the screen in front of him. "The sweetest sounding words to my ears." Mr. Trick
glanced at the woman perched on the table beside the computer. "Next to the sounds of
screaming humans as I drain the life from them, that is."
"Naturally, sugar." The vampiress pushed her hundreds of tiny braids over her shoulder, the dim
lighting in the room making her skin look like rich chocolate. "Of course, if you don't get
moving, the sun will be up before we can hear that glorious sound."
"Patience, Chanese," Trick said, moving the mouse with expert ease. "Good things come to
those who wait. And I cannot believe those words just came out of my mouth. If I wasn't smart,
and the Mayor didn't have this town wired ever so nicely, I would have to hurt that man."
Chanese peered around the edge of the computer at the screen. "What are you looking for
"A little out-of-town assistance," Trick answered. His fingers began hitting the computer keys
rapidly. "I'm having a bit of an employee problem. It seems that the Slayers have taken out the
last of my loyal minions who weren't scared bloodless of the cute, tiny blond one's mate. All
that power in that itty-bitty package. Such a shame she's the enemy."
"A Slayer with a vampire mate," Chanese commented. "How come that makes me feel
"Because it goes against the natural order of things," Trick replied. "Spike has a pair of brass
ones for mating with her." He sighed. "Which his why I'm having such trouble. How is a
brother suppose to accomplish his plans of chaos and mayhem if all his merry-makers run
screaming the other direction when either that Buffy or Spike are seen?"
Chanese slid off the table and walked around behind his chair. She lightly rubbed his shoulders.
"So what are you going to do about it, honey?"
"What I should have done after that Valentine's Day fiasco," Trick said. He hit enter on the
computer keyboard. "Say goodbye to Mr. William the Bloody...permanently."
The screen changed and the words "Payment accepted" appeared beneath the Unholy Nation,
Mercenaries for Hire banner.
Trick stood and offered his arm to Chanese, commenting as they left the room. "I do so love the
"Here's what I don't understand," Xander said, straddling the chair and resting his forearms on
the back. "Why isn't today a vampire fun day? There are people all over the streets, free for the
Spike started to turn his head to answer Xander, but Oz's eyes told him to hold still without a
sound coming from the werewolf's mouth. "Think about it, mate. What type of people are out,
roaming the streets, shrieking like little soddin' banshies...?"
"Got it," Xander said with a nod. "Ankle-biters not a plus on the a la carte human menu."
"Everyone's blood's too syrupy anyway," Spike added. "All that sugar. We used to feed off the
"Don't want to hear it," Xander interrupted. "I have a hard enough time not not liking you
because you're of the fanged set."
Oz capped the black pencil he was using and nodded to Spike, who turned on his chair to face
Xander. The dark-haired nineteen year old shuddered. "I'm not too fond of you looking like that
either," Xander said.
Spike grinned, the black pencil marks above his upper lip causing his fangs look even longer. The
white and black makeup was painted over his true countenance, making the skull face even
scarier. He was dressed in a tight, black turtleneck and new, non-faded, black jeans, which were
tucked into his beloved boots.
His two current companions were also dressed for the Halloween party a university friend of
theirs was hosting. And it was their friends, not his. The only people Spike considered friends
were Oz, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Faith, Giles and Joyce. Everyone else was food unless his
mate told him otherwise.
Oz had invited the men of the group over to his house -- minus Giles, who refused to have
anything to do with the group that involved makeup or "adolescent rituals of intoxication and
regurgitation," which meant he stayed home a lot -- in order to get ready for the party. Since
Buffy refused to let Spike stay home like Giles, and since she also wouldn't let him just let his
true face show, he gratefully accepted Oz's suggestion of the skull makeup.
The werewolf himself, in his normal offbeat style, had borrowed a uniform from the Chicken
Hut. The bright, orange polyester shirt was tucked into brown, polyester pants, and he had a
garish yellow hairnet over his currently navy blue hair. A handmade nametag was added to the
uniform that read "Can I pluck your clucker?"
Xander was dressed as a surfer. The wetsuit he wore was black and dark blue, and he had water
shoes on his feet. He had borrowed hair gel from Oz and had slicked his dark locks back so it
looked as though he'd just emerged from the waves. A bright pink slash of Zinc Oxide ran down
"When are the ladies meeting us?" Oz asked, putting away the makeup in an old cigar box.
Spike glanced at the clock on the wall. "Around nine. The Slayer said she was going to make a
round with Faith, then head back to our place."
"Cordy said she was going to pick Wills up, but that's all I know," Xander added.
"Willow told me she was getting ready at your apartment," Oz said to Spike. "So best guess,
they're all there."
"Well then." Spike grinned as he stood, his yellow eyes glinting with evil mischievousness. "In
honor of hell-o-ween, what say we scare the knickers off of them?"
"What do you think the guys are doing?" Willow asked, brushing Faith's hair back from her face.
The redhead had finished dressing in her Halloween costume, which consisted of green tights, a
long green tunic belted at the waist over a white peasant blouse, calf high moccasins and a short
bow with a quiver of arrows that she would carry later, and was helping the brunette Slayer finish
"Probably trying to think of a way to scare us," Cordelia answered. She turned left and right in
front of the full length mirror in the bedroom, then readjusted the flowery sarong around her
waist, over the black one-piece swim suit she wore. Her feet were encased in sandals and, to
complete her costume, a pair of sunglasses were perched on her head.
"Knowing my mate, that's exactly what they're planning to do," Buffy commented with a grin.
"Ut-oh, looks like B's got a counter-attack prepared," Faith said. Willow finished pulling her hair
up into a tight bun, and she stood and slid the black rimmed fake glasses on her nose. Folding
her hands in front of her ankle length, dowdy grey skirt over black socks and gym shoes, her
ruffled white blouse buttoned all the way to the top, the prim and propper schoolmarm added,
"Which I do not condone in any manner."
The other three girls laughed. "Oh goddess, I had a second grade teacher who sounded just like
that," Willow said. "And looked like that, too."
Faith grabbed the sides of her skirt and curtseyed dramatically. "Why thank you, Red."
Buffy finished putting on her second, thin-strapped, red stiletto and stood. "Well, guys, how do I
"Like you're not going to be wearing that long," Faith replied.
"I told Spike hands off til after the party," Buffy said, taking Cordelia's place in front of the
"As if that's going to stop him, Buffy," Willow said.
Buffy smiled wickedly, in character with the red, long-sleeved bodysuit she was wearing,
complete with devil tail that curled up behind her and a headband with two, fake red horns on it
in her loose, blond hair. The always present anklet sparkled on her ankle as she turned in front of
the mirror. "I know."
"God, is sex all you ever think about?" Cordelia said.
"If I had a hottie like Spike, only the apocalypse would move me from the bed," Faith said. She
thought for a moment, then added, "And that's a big maybe on that, too."
"Cordelia, don't tell me you and Xander haven't...," Buffy trailed off with a lift of her brow.
"It's none of your business," Cordelia huffed.
"Wow," Willow said, taking a seat on the edge of Buffy's bed. "And I thought I was the last one
to go in this group."
"Hello? Xander's and my sex life is not up for discussion," Cordelia said.
"It couldn't be that the Xand-man can't get it up," Faith said, tapping her chin with her finger.
"I've seen the nice stiffy he gets when the queen here bends over to pick something up. It's
obvious he's thinking about ramming her..."
"Guys..." Cordelia warned.
"Ooh, that's a fun position," Buffy said. "A possessive one."
"Makes you feel exposed, too, with everything bouncing...," Willow trailed off with a blush. "I'll
keep my naughty stuff to myself now."
"Now I can picture Oz doing that," Faith said. "What with him being dog-boy and all."
"Faith!" Willow squealed.
"Spike, too, with very little problem," Faith continued, shooting a smile to Buffy. The blond
Slayer waggled her brows response. "But the big X? It's easier to picture Cord with a strap-on..."
"Enough!" Cordelia exclaimed. "I do not want my sex life or lack there of out on the table for
"On the table," Buffy said. "Now there's a fun place..."
Cordelia growled and threw the closest thing she could reach at Buffy.
"Ut-oh," Oz said, slowing the van down near the entrance to the parking lot outside of the
apartment complex where the Brody's lived.
"What-o?" Xander asked, leaning forward to get a better look out of the front windshield. He
spotted either two really well made-up Halloween celebrants or... "Vampires, ten o'clock."
"I got an idea," Spike spoke up from the back. "How would you two like a little hands-on
"Minus the screaming and the mind-numbing fear?" Xander asked.
"The only ones who'll be screaming is them, but not for long," Spike answered with a chuckle.
Oz parked the van and, armed with the stash of weapons of the sidekick trade, as those who
weren't the Slayers referred to themselves as, Xander and the werewolf followed Spike towards
the side of the complex where they saw the vampires.
Spike cleared his throat as the trio came within hearing range, and the two vampires shot looks in
their direction. When they didn't immediately run for their unlives, the blond vampire figured
they either were either newly risen or they didn't know it was him due to the makeup.
Whichever way it went, he wanted to be close enough to capture them to give his chums a little
practice. Buffy would appreciate the gesture, and he was looking forward to the thanks he would
receive from her.
He nodded briefly at Xander, who began to speak in a loud voice. "Those are some great
masks," the dark-haired teen said.
"Very realistic," Oz added.
"Thank you," one of the vampires said, gesturing for his companion to follow him. "Would you
like to take a closer look?"
"Sure," Xander answered. When the two got into grabbing range of Spike, Xander continued.
"Well, now, those are pretty scary faces. Almost as scary as Spike's."
The two vampires froze. "Spike?" the one on the left hissed, looking nervously between the three
Spike raised his hand and wiggled his fingers. "Allo, mate."
"Oh shit," the one on the right said, then turned to run.
Spike shot forward and grabbed the two about-to-run vampires by the backs of their collars. He
slammed them into one another, then kicked out one of the vampires' knees. Vampire number
one went down in pain, earning a second kick in the middle of his back, putting him flat on the
pavement. Before he could move, Spike had his head under the thick sole of the Doc Marten on
the blond's foot. The second vampire was just whimpering in Spike's grip.
"Now, do you mind explaining why you two are skulking about my home?" Spike asked,
shaking the vampire he had by the collar.
"We didn't know," the one under Spike's boot replied.
"We were just looking for dinner," the second one said defensively.
"And you figured I would make a good meal?" Spike asked sarcastically.
"No!" number two exclaimed.
"No?" Spike said.
"We didn't know it was you, either," number one said.
Spike pressed his weight slightly on number one's head. "Ahh! We didn't! The makeup! We
thought you were just another human!"
"I think I'm insulted," Spike said conversationally. The one under his boot cried out again as he
put more weight on the vampire's skull. Spike looked over at Xander and Oz. "One of you
Xander and Oz exchanged glances, then Xander walked over to Spike. "Turn around," the blond
"Why?" Xander asked suspiciously.
"Just do it, mate," Spike said. He tightened his hold on vampire number two's collar. Xander
turned around and Spike growled in number two's ear, "Grab him as if you were going to bite
Oz could see a terrified expression on the vampire's face as he grabbed Xander around the
shoulders and put his mouth near the dark-haired teen's neck. Xander's eyes grew round, but he
kept his cool.
"Xander," Spike said calmly. "If you are being held in this manner, you have two ways to get
out, depending on what weapon you have."
"O-okay," Xander stammered.
"Now, if you have a cross, you reach up and shove it in your attacker's face. He'll release you,
then you run like hell," Spike said.
"'Run away,'" Xander quoted in a Pythonesque voice.
"If you have a stake," Spike continued. "Turn your body towards your attacker and stake the
bloody bastard under your arm."
"Under the arm, check," Xander echoed.
Spike waited a moment, then growled, "Well, what are you waiting for?"
"I think he wants you to stake the vamp, man," Oz said to Xander.
"Ah, right," Xander said. He gripped the stake in his hand tighter.
The vampire in Spike's grip paled even further, then before he could act, he was dust.
"Very good," Spike said, transferring his gaze down to the vampire under his boot. "Oz, would
you like to give it a go?"
"That's okay," Oz said. "I got the gist."
Spike shrugged, then lifted his boot from the vampire's face, releasing him. "I guess your
services aren't needed then," he said. "You can go."
The remaining vampire scrambled to his feet and started to run away. Spike plucked the stake sill
in Xander's hand, turned and threw it at the vampire. He exploded in a cloud of dust.
"Hmm." Oz had a thoughtful look on his face. "It worked for him."
"What was that, mate?" Spike asked, scanning the area for any other problems.
"Never mind," Oz said. "We done?"
"Yes," Spike answered. The blond vampire fell into step next to the other two men and they
headed towards the apartment to go forth with their plan to scare the ladies.
"Interesting." The tall, slender human lowered the binoculars from his green eyes and watched
as the three figures entered the apartment complex. The wind kicked up slightly, ruffling his
shoulder-length blond hair. The dark camouflage clothing allowed him to blend into the
background across the parking lot from the building.
Hitting a button on the side of his watch, he noted the time, then pulled a cellular phone out of
his pocket. "This is Gage. Target acquired. Estimated time of elimination, zero-hundred hours."
Spike was trying to pay attention to the conversation, but his mind kept replaying what his
mate's mouth had been doing earlier.
The guys' attempt at scaring the girls had failed miserably, but he couldn't remember what they
had tried to do. Hell, he couldn't even remember his own name after seeing his Slayer in that
very naughty devil's costume. Then she'd gone and wrapped her lusciously blood-red lips
around his cock and he'd died all over again.
As he watched those same lips move as she spoke to those around them at the Halloween party, he couldn't help but picture them as she knelt in front of him in their bedroom, their friends waiting in the living room of their apartment....
Spike blinked and looked blankly at Buffy, as his mind was pulled back to the present. She
arched a brow at him in question. "Er, right," he agreed, even though he had no clue as to what
he was agreeing.
Buffy smiled at him, so he figured he answered correctly. However, right then he could care less.
The hard on he had because of his thoughts was pressing uncomfortably against the denim of his
As the conversation started up again, Spike leaned closer to Buffy. "I'm going outside for a
few," he whispered.
"'K," she whispered back. "If you see any baddies, chase them off for me."
He nodded, then turned and walked away without a word to the others. He didn't care if they
thought him to be rude. They weren't his friends anyway, just cattle in costume.
Outside, the air was crisp and cool, a prefect fall night. It was the sort of night vampires liked
because humans would walk from place to place rather than drive. Of course, since it was
Halloween, the night was pretty much wasted.
Spike wandered around the side of the house where the party was being held. Several revelers
were standing around, smoking and chatting. He pulled a cigarette box out of the pocket of his
jeans, looked at it, then approached one of the smokers. "Can I bum a fag?"
"What?" the hippie he'd asked said incredulously.
Spike rolled his yellow eyes. "A smoke, mate," he rephrased. "A cigarette."
"Oh, yeah, sure," the hippie said, offering Spike the pack. "For a second there, I thought you
were hitting on me."
"Thanks," Spike said upon taking the cigarette. He lit up and took a long drag, almost shivering
when the rush of nicotine hit him.
"Long time between smokes?" a guy dressed in fatigues asked.
"Too bloody long," Spike replied. He looked up at the quarter moon and took another drag. He
mentally calculated how much longer until he was free. He had eagerly volunteered to play
escort to Willow, who was going to meet with her fellow Wiccan friends for a Samhain
celebration around midnight.
"You came with that sexy devil, didn't you?" fatigue guy inquired.
Spike dropped his gaze from the night sky to him, trying to gauge his interest in Buffy. "Yeah,
what of it?" he replied without emotion in his voice.
"Ah," fatigue guy said. "Then let me compliment you on a wonderful looking catch." He held
out his hand. "Name's Gage."
Spike shook his hand, noting that it was warm. A possible late night snack candidate, he thought.
Gage nodded, released Spike's hand and took a drag off his own cigarette. "That's a nice
makeup job, by the way."
"So people say," Spike said.
"How did you get your eyes yellow like that?" Gage asked. "Special contacts?"
"Yeah, contacts," Spike agreed. Did they made contacts like that?, he wondered. "The makeup
was done by a chum of mine. Orange shirt. Salacious question on his nametag. You might have
"Blue hair and yellow hairnet?" Gage said. "He was with another sexy thing dressed as Robin
"Red, yeah," Spike said.
"They were watching some spaz in a wetsuit try to convince the leggy one in the swimsuit to do
something," Gage said. "I wanted to smack that kid on principle."
"Most do. I've been tempted many a times to snap his annoying neck. Too bad his best friend is
my wife's best friend." Spike took another drag off his cigarette and gave a casual glance around.
"Looking for someone?" Gage asked.
Spike held up his cigarette and smirked. "Not suppose to have this."
"Little woman got you wrapped around her pinkie, huh?"
"Think further south, mate," Spike replied with a leer. Beyond Gage he saw a familiar face
rounding the corner of the house. He took another quick puff, then hid the smoke behind his
back as the brunette Slayer joined them. "Faith."
"Hey, blondie," Faith greeted. "I figured I'd find ya back here." She reached around him,
plucked the cigarette from his hand and held it up. "These things'll kill ya."
"And that just gets bloody funnier every time I hear it," Spike grumbled to her, snatching the
cigarette back. "To what do I owe this torture?"
"Miss Of Locksley is gettin' ready to vamoose," Faith replied. "Ozzy said you can take his van
and B agreed."
"Let me guess, she wants me to take everyone home after." Faith grinned. Spike quickly
finished the cigarette, then crushed it under his boot. He nodded at Gage, then walked beside
Faith back to the front of the house, complaining under his non-existent breath the entire way.
Gage watched Spike until he was out of view, then crushed out his own cigarette before heading
to where his own car was hidden.
"Thanks for coming with, Spike," Willow said as she and the blond vampire walked through the
woods. "I know it's not high on your 'fun things to do with mortals' list."
"Well, the Slayer and your mate would prefer that you don't get mutilated while you're out here
with your chums."
"Plus you wanted to leave the party."
"Damn right," Spike replied with a grin. The makeup on his face had been removed when he and
Willow had stopped at her house to pick up her things for Samhain.
They came upon the clearing where a small fire was already set up in the center. Willow called
out a greeting to her fellow Wiccans, then turned to her vampire companion. "You'll need to
stay out of the circle of protection unless you want to participate in the celebration?" The redhead
ended her statement with an invitation.
"That's okay, luv," Spike said. "I can entertain myself. Just give a holler when its time to go."
She smiled at him, then joined her friends and he turned to disappear back into the woods. He
planned to scout around the clearing and scare off any threats to the celebrants on their New
Year. After that, he'd probably toss off while thinking about all the things he was going to do to
his mate when he got home.
The woods were quiet, save for the distant crackling of the fire from the center of the clearing.
Spike had been silently moving through the trees for a half hour, his footsteps making no noise
despite the heavy Doc Martens on his feet. Ahead of him, he spotted a thick, low hanging
branch, and he jumped up to grab it when he passed by. Swinging himself up, he straightened
and surveyed the area from the height he gained by the tree.
He wished he had a cigarette. Having that one at the party just made his craving for another
greater. Sulking, he dug a sucker out and stuck it in his mouth, making sure to put the wrapper
back in his pocket. Willow would have his hide if he littered in her woods.
He leaned against the tree trunk, his booted feet balancing easily on the tree limb. The quarter
moon filtered down through the bare trees, their leaves having fallen off during the weeks prior to
Halloween. He wondered if Buffy was enjoying herself at the party still. He trusted the wolf to
assist her if she had trouble with the other male twits who'd been in attendance. The whelp
would help, too, if need-
Spike heard the crack of a high-powered rifle a moment before he felt a searing pain behind his
left ear. He blinked in surprise as he started to fall forward out of the tree. The leaf-covered floor
of the woods rushed up to greet him and he managed to turn his head to the side before he hit
with a hard smack of his body, preventing the sucker from getting shoved into the back of his
His vision swam, a greyness blurring the edges and creeping inwards. White-heat radiated from
the area behind his left ear. He spit the sucker out, then he struggled to put his hands flat on the
ground to push himself upwards. He managed to rise slightly before the strength went out of his
arms and he collapsed back onto the leafy earth. He saw a pair of black combat boots
approaching him from a distance, then the greyness finished covering his vision, leaving him
He curled his left hand inwards towards his sleeve and his fingers brushed the hilt end of a thin
dagger he kept hidden on himself at all times. It had been blessed by Willow for use in aiding his
Slayer against demons who weren't easily chased off by his presence or easily beaten. The hilt
slowly emerged from his sleeve and he managed to get it entirely free before he heard the
footsteps of his foe nearby.
Listening carefully, he could hear the rapid breathing of an excited human, the slight creak of the
leather on the boots and the crinkling of the pants of his foe as the human crouched beside him.
Unconsciousness was rapidly becoming a fact, and Spike knew he had only one chance to act
before he was completely helpless.
In his mind's eye, he focused on creating a mental image of the area around him, including the
human. He heard the human shift and the brush of an object against the material of his foe's
pants as something was drawn from a pocket or holster. Gathering what little energy he had left,
Spike suddenly rolled his body to the right, away from his foe, and chucked the dagger
underhanded with a hard flick of his wrist, before he ended up on his back.
Spike's lips curled up in satisfaction when he heard the gurgling scream from his foe. Then he
slipped into unconsciousness and he heard nothing at all.
Willow and her friends had jumped when they heard the crack of a rifle, and they immediately
looked at the woods surrounding them. A few of the more powerful Wicca's in the group cast
rapid protection spells over everyone in the clearing. When they didn't hear a second shot,
everyone relaxed slightly, thinking it was only kids playing around on Halloween.
The redhead wasn't reassured at all. Spike would have showed up near the clearing to warn her
of any danger or to tell her who had fired the shot. When he didn't, she became worried. "Guys,
I don't like this," she said, stepping to the edge of the circle of protection.
"What do you want us to do, Willow?"
Willow pressed her lips together for a moment, then instructed, "Pair up. Head away from the
clearing in all different directions for about five minutes, then come back."
She unsheathed her athame from the homemade sheath she'd added to the belt around her robe.
After cutting an exit in the circle of protection, she headed west into the woods, her fellow Wicca,
Greg, following her. The further she walked from the clearing, the stronger the feeling of unease
overcame her. Samhain was the night the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest,
and she could feel death all around her, but not in the positive way she normally felt.
She saw the two bodies on the ground and she had to bite her tongue to keep from crying out.
Putting her finger to her lips, she told Greg to keep silent, then slowly crept forward. She heard
Greg chanting quietly under his breath as he stayed by her side. Pushing down her fear, she
relied on her experiences as being a Slayer's sidekick to professionally observe the bodies with
Then she saw the peroxide-blond hair that had been hidden by the night, and all forced
"Spike!" Willow exclaimed, rushing to the fallen vampire's side. She barely spared a glance at
the other body, only long enough to note the knife embedded in his throat, before turning her full
attention to her friend. She saw that Spike's eyes were open, but when she flicked on the lighter
she kept in a pouch on her belt along with other important things necessary for a ritual, she saw
that the blue orbs were blank and unseeing.
"Greg, run back and get the others. Hurry!" she said, running her fingers along Spike's clothing,
looking for holes or the telltale wetness of blood. She didn't find any on the front, and she was
trying to figure out a way to turn him over without jarring him too badly when she saw dark red
on the side of his neck above the turtleneck collar of his shirt.
A few seconds later, Willow was praying to the Gods and Goddesses as she pressed the hem of
her robe over the bullet hole behind Spike's ear.
The eight Samhain celebrants made a litter to drag Spike through the woods to Oz's borrowed
van. Willow made certain that only she or Amy Madison touched him, considering the others
wouldn't understand why they were technically dragging a dead man. They left the other body
under Willow's instructions. She said she would contact the police when they got back to town.
Willow found the keys in Spike's pocket and, as her friends lifted him into the back of the van,
she used a borrowed cellular phone to call Giles.
"Giles, it's Willow," the redhead said into the phone. "There's been an accident..."
Buffy paused in speaking when she heard a faint beeping coming from her purse. She exchanged
a glance with Faith, who was sitting across from her. The brunette Slayer unclipped her black
pager from her skirt and looked at it expectantly, then shrugged.
Reaching into her purse as the conversation continued, Buffy hit the button and looked at the
"Cordelia, I need your phone," Buffy said, her heart starting to pound in her chest. She looked at
Faith again, and the other Slayer shook her head.
"No page for me," Faith said.
Cordelia handed Buffy her cellular phone from the beach bag she was using as a purse. Then she
stood and headed over to where Xander and Oz were conversing with other friends of theirs.
"Something's up," she said, interrupting them.
Xander and Oz nodded, excused themselves and followed Cordelia over to where Faith and
Buffy had moved to. The blond was holding the cellular phone to one ear, her hand pressed over
Before the four friends' eyes, they saw all the blood leave Buffy's face. She disconnected the
phone without saying a goodbye.
"Buffy, what is it?" Oz asked nervously.
"We need to go to Giles'," Buffy said in a hollow, shocked voice. "Willow called him. Spike's
"Shot?" Cordelia said, confused as the five of them quickly left the party. "But he's a vampire.
Bullets won't kill him."
"It probably still hurts," Xander said.
"Buffy, you gonna hurl?" Faith asked as Cordelia unlocked her car doors. "You ain't looking too
"I'm fine," Buffy lied. Inside she was shaking like a leaf, but she was going to force herself not
to jump to conclusions until she saw her mate with her own eyes. But she had a very bad feeling
in the pit of her stomach.
For once, Buffy thought Cordelia's driving was too slow.
Thank the Goddess for Giles, Willow thought, noting the Watcher had converted his living room
to a makeshift hospital. She'd had to drive to his home alone, which was both a relief and a
hardship. She would have liked someone to listen to her nervous chatter, instead she had only an
unconscious vampire to talk to. Amy had promised to make sure everyone else would go home
and not bring up what had occurred.
"Willow, your assistance please," Giles requested, pulling Spike up into a sitting position from
Willow hurried over and she quickly pulled off Spike's turtleneck. The makeshift bandage she'd
tied around his head came off at the same time. The strips of robe she'd used were soaked red
"Grab his feet, if you will," Giles instructed. "On three, let's get him onto the table. Ready?"
Willow nodded. "One, two, three."
"Oof," Willow grunted as she assisted the Watcher. "Geez, Spike. Who have you been eating?"
Once on the table, Giles turned the vampire onto his stomach, his right cheek face to the table,
and Giles gently closed Spike's eyes. The Watcher pulled an arm light, which he'd attached to a
free-standing lamp, closer to the table in order to see better.
"Hmm." Giles picked up a wet washrag from a bowl, squeezed it, then carefully washed the
blood around the wound. "You say you heard a gunshot?"
"Yes," Willow said. "We went looking about ten minutes after we heard it. I found Spike and
another body about three minutes after that."
"Tell me about the other...man?" Giles prompted, picking up an instrument to probe the bullet
"Male, Caucasian, human, I think," Willow replied. "He didn't look too old. Blondish hair.
Knife in his throat. Camouflage."
"Knife in his throat, you say?"
"Yes. Probably Spike's. He carries one I blessed on him when he goes and follows Buffy
around on patrols. It's pretty funny. She doesn't even know he does it. I only know because Oz
smelled him a couple of times we were with her. It's kinda cute, in an overly over-protective
"Anything else?" Giles asked, taping Spike's ear over before reblotting the bleeding wound. He
carefully inserted a long, thin pair of tweezers into the bullet entry.
"Um, no," Willow said. "Bandaged Spike's head, dragged his body to the van, brought him
here." She moved from the unconscious vampire's feet to the other side of his head. "Can I
"Why don't you put on some tea," Giles suggested. "Buffy shall be here soon," he pulled out an
impacted bullet and dropped it in another bowl, "and I'm sure the others will be with her."
"Tea. I can do tea. It's just water that's hot," Willow spoke as she moved to the kitchen.
The door to Giles' home opened and Buffy rushed in just as the Watcher finished sewing the
wound behind Spike's ear shut. "How is he?" Buffy asked, her voice choked up when she saw
him. She brushed shaky fingers over Spike's slack features, fighting down her panic.
"I extracted the bullet, but I cannot tell you how he is," Giles replied quietly. "I suppose, because
he is a-a vampire, he will heal. But, since he was shot in the head-"
"He was shot in the head?!" Buffy said in horror.
"Hmm, yes," Giles said distractedly as he examined the bullet. "By a long range rifle, I'd
suspect. Since it did not exit the skull, I would imagine that the shooter was at a great distance.
The angle of the entry indicates that the bullet went in at about 30 degrees into the cerebellum, it
traveled for about 13 centimeters before stopping-"
"Giles!" Faith snapped, interrupting the Watcher when Buffy's face turned a sickly shade of
grey. "X-nay on the Spike got shot in the brain-nay."
"Who did this?" Buffy asked through clenched teeth, her eyes hard when she raised them to her
Watcher. "Who shot my mate?"
"I think it was the guy that was with him in the woods," Willow answered, coming out of the
kitchen. "He's still there, if you want to see."
"I want." Buffy lowered her eyes back to unconscious husband's face. "I want very much."
Buffy yanked the dagger from the dead man's throat, wiped it on his pant leg and clenched the
hilt tightly in her hand. She stared at the corpse's face with a coldness in her eyes. If he wasn't
dead already, he would be seriously hurting.
"Ooh, cell phone," Willow said, pulling the folded object out of the man's pocket.
"Found it," Oz called, jogging up to the two girls with a high powered rifle with mounted scope
in his hands. He went up to Willow and looked down at the pile of weapons surrounding her.
"Small arsenal this guy had."
Willow looked up at Buffy. "I don't think that this guy was just a hunter and shot Spike on
"My guess," Oz said, picking up a stake and a bottle of holy water from the pile. "I'd say this
guy knew exactly who he was shooting."
"Why?" Buffy asked, the hilt of the dagger biting into her palm. "Why would he be after Spike?
I know my husband is not the most well-loved demon in Sunnydale..."
"Well, we have cell phone," Willow said, holding up the object. "I can do things with this."
"No ID?" Oz asked.
"No ID," Willow replied.
"Do you need anything else?" Buffy asked. Willow shook her head and allowed Oz to help her
to her feet. "Okay, then let's get back to Giles'."
Oz shouldered the rifle and fell into step with Willow as they headed away from the body. Buffy
glanced at the corpse, then kicked him with all her might. "Bastard," she hissed. Then she
stalked after her two friends, unbelievable rage filling her soul.
Spike had been moved to Giles' bed. Buffy straddled a chair on the opposite side, her arms
laying on the back, her chin resting on her arms. Her Watcher had told her not to jostle Spike so
he would heal faster. She listened for once, although what she really wanted to do was crawl in
the bed beside Spike and hold him tightly. Actually, she really, really wanted him to wake up and
tell her he had a "bloody headache" and ask her to make him feel better. But since that probably
wasn't going to happen right then, she was trying to be content with sitting on the chair and
watching over him.
Willow and the rest of her friends had been busy trying to decipher who the dead guy was in the
woods. Buffy had instructed them not to bother her unless they had solid information she could
act on. The anger she felt was carefully boxed away, waiting to be unleashed. And when that
Buffy kicked the door open, stormed around the desk and picked Richard Wilkins, III up by his
well-pressed lapels. "Where is Trick?" she growled.
"Whatever happened to knocking?" the Mayor said. "You kids these days really need to learn
"Trick," Buffy spat. "Where. Is. He?"
Wilkins looked down at her hands then back at her face. Buffy shoved him back down into his
chair, then folded her arms across her chest. "Now then, why are you after our dear Mr. Trick?"
"This isn't The Late, Late Show. Just tell me where he is before you have to change your name
to Nancy, Dick."
"My, my, my," Wilkins said. "That's quite the attitude you have there. Does your husband let
you talk to him like that?"
Buffy's fist shot out without warning. Wilkins' head hit the back of his chair and he rubbed his
jaw when he returned his eyes to her. "Now that wasn't very nice," Wilkins said.
"You'll find I can be a lot less nice if you don't talk," Buffy said in a cold, deadly voice.
"You are in serious need of some discipline, young lady," Wilkins said. "It's the vampire
influence. No morals, like violence, bad dental hygiene. As for Mr. Trick, you should find him at
the old Sunnydale Arms."
Buffy turned without a word and left the office. Wilkins shook his head. "She didn't even wait
for a by your leave. Kids today." He sighed and hit the intercom on his desk. "Tell Mr. Finch
that Mr. Trick has left Sunnydale permanently, Gladys." He released the button and leaned back
in his chair. "I'm going to miss him. He had such a unique sense of style."
Buffy glanced up at the sun that was creeping higher in the sky. She smiled evilly. Perfect, she
thought. The only escape route would be through the basement, but after a quick call she'd
made to her friends, that way would be effectively blocked before Trick could use it.
The door opened easily under her hand, the lock breaking with a firm twist of her wrist. She
walked inside as if she owned the place, the sunlight streaming inside behind her. The light
highlighted the blond of her hair and made the red of her devil's costume more vibrant. The
vampires in the room took one look at the mocking smile on her face, and ran.
With lightning quick speed, Buffy grabbed one of the fledglings and threw him over her shoulder
to the ground. Her sharp stiletto heel came down in the center of his chest and she pinned him
with her icy stare. "Trick. Tell me where he is and I'll let you go."
The vampire looked terrified. "Upstairs. Second door on the right."
She released him, turned around and headed for the stairs. She wasn't worried about the
fledglings or minions in the old hotel. She was looking for one vampire and one vampire only.
Trick's head shot up when the door to his room banged open and he only had time to say "Oh
shit," before Buffy opened fire on him using same rifle that was used on Spike.
Both Cordelia and Xander were right in saying that bullets don't kill vampires, but they still hurt.
And the number of them that riddled Trick's body really, really hurt. Buffy unloaded the clip in
the high powered rifle, then let the weapon fall to the ground. Trick was laying on the floor on
his side, his brown suit turning red around the holes in it.
Buffy stalked over and kicked him sharply in the chest, sending him falling over onto his back.
She pulled a stake from inside of her sleeve, dropped down to her knee next to him, and growled,
"This will teach you to mess with my mate."
Then she drove the stake into his heart and Trick was nothing more than a pile of ashes on the
floor. A few minutes later, she lobbed the fifth Molotov Cocktail through a window of the
Sunnydale Arms and watched in satisfaction as the old hotel began to burn. The screams from
the vampires trapped inside just added a sweetness to the entire thing.
Buffy was like a zombie the first weeks of November. She didn't sleep, barely ate anything, and
the classes she attended were all a blur. She wouldn't even had gone to classes, but she knew
that Spike would have not wanted her to miss any of them.
Spike was still unconscious in what would be considered the vampire equivalent of a coma.
After being moved from the Watcher's home back to the Brody apartment, Giles had contacted
Angel in order to ask him how to get Spike to feed, because unless he had blood in him, he
wouldn't heal. Between the two of them, Angel helping over the Brody's telephone line, they
rigged a system that worked adequately enough.
Faith had taken over the main bulk of slaying, although because of the destruction of the
Sunnydale Arms, the vampire population was at an all-time low. She would stop by late at night,
knowing that Buffy would still be awake, and complain about the boredom. But in reality it was
because she, along with all their other friends, wanted to be there for the blond while they waited
for Spike to return to consciousness.
All Saint's Day passed, Election Day passed and Veteran's Day passed with no change. It was
nearing Thanksgiving and some people were starting to put out their Christmas lights. The stores
at the mall were starting their Holiday sales and were offering free gift wrapping. The weather got
colder, requiring winter coats to be taken out of storage.
Buffy knelt at the side of the bed, her fingertips lightly running over Spike's cheek and brow
repetitively. She carefully avoided the drip tube that ran from the bag of blood on the IV pole
into his mouth and down his throat. She wasn't thinking about anything, she was just kneeling
beside her mate, watching her tan fingers as they brushed over his pale skin.
Joyce stood in the doorway to the bedroom, watching her daughter, wishing there was something
she could do to take away her baby's pain. Someone was always in the apartment at any given
time, even while Buffy was in classes, just in case Spike would awaken. Angel had come up
from LA twice, even though he couldn't stay, and was due to return to Sunnydale the upcoming
"Buffy, honey, would you like something to eat?" Joyce asked softly, even though she knew the
"No thank you," Buffy replied, her voice tired and quiet. "I'm not hungry."
"Well, if you change your mind, there's pea soup," Joyce told her. She saw Buffy nod, then she
turned and headed back into the other room.
Buffy continued to stroke the side of Spike's face, wanting nothing more than for him to return
Spike opened his eyes into slits, looked left, looked right, then closed them again with a groan.
His head felt like someone had taken a jackhammer to it and enjoyed themselves tremendously.
He tried to swallow and immediately started gag. He could feel something long and skinny in his
mouth running along his tongue back to his throat. Whatever it was, he wanted it gone.
He heard a soft sigh near his right ear, and he forced himself to open his eyes again and looked in
that direction. All he saw was the top of a blond head and figured that it was his Buffy. She
really needed to touch up her roots, he thought absently, as he allowed his eyes to fall shut once
more because of the stabbing pain behind them.
He moved his arm towards where her head was laying and nudged her. He heard her murmur
something and nudged her again, this time harder. His aching head repaid his movements by
pounding for him, and he briefly wondered how much he drank to get into this state.
Then he remembered what had happened in the woods and was suddenly grateful to be feeling
anything at all.
Spike heard Buffy stir and felt her lift her head, and he forced himself to open his eyes again. She
let out a gasp and she came into his line of vision, tears streaming down her face. She sat on the
edge of the bed.
"Spike," she breathed, relief evident in her voice. She cupped his cheek with her hand and gave
him a huge smile. "Oh Spike, I'm so glad you're awake."
She leaned forward and pressed a kiss on his brow. As she was sitting back, a teardrop fell from
her face and landed on his nose. She laughed lightly, then brushed it away with her fingers.
Spike's heart sang with the sound. Moving slowly because his head was aching, he put his hand
on her thigh and squeezed. She blinked rapidly, the tears clinging to the ends of her long lashes.
"You probably want that tube out of your mouth," Buffy said. He barely nodded, but she
understood. "Okay, I'm going to pull it out. Ready?" She grasped the tube. "Here it goes."
She quickly pulled it out of his throat.
In what was not one of his most shining moments, Spike's eyes widened, then he turned and
threw up blood all over the side of the bed, Buffy's legs and on the floor. The pounding in his
head increased, but he found, to his abject horror, it was the pounding of running footsteps as
several people came into the room.
"Eew!" Cordelia said loudly, then turned and quickly left the bedroom again.
"Now that's something I really didn't need to see," Xander added, then followed his girlfriend.
"I think those two summed it up for me," Oz said. He, too, left, leaving Willow and Angel
standing in the bedroom.
Spike groaned and laid his head down in the mess on the side of the bed, closing his eyes. He
didn't care. His head hurt and he was just humiliated beyond reason. His unlife sucked.
"I guess he's awake," Willow said, smiling at Buffy. Buffy nodded happily. "I'll go get some
towels and stuff."
"I'd better show you where they are," Buffy said. She bent and kissed Spike's other cheek, then
stood and left the bedroom with the redhead.
Spike opened his eyes and saw his sire squatting before the mess on the floor, looking at him.
"Go away," he muttered, reclosing his eyes.
He felt a light finger run down his nose, then a tap on the end of it. "Good to have you back,
Spike. Everyone but me was worried about you," Angel said.
"Bugger off," Spike grumbled. "Leave a dead man in peace."
Angel chuckled and stood, leaving the bedroom. He met Buffy and Willow in the hallway and
smiled at them. "I think Spike will be just fine in a few more days," he told Buffy.
"Good," Buffy replied. "Because then I'm going to hurt him for making me worry."
"I'll get everyone out of your hair," Angel said. "And we'll let your mom and Giles know about
the blond idiot."
"Hey, that's my husband you're dissing," Buffy scolded. He gave her an innocent grin, then
bypassed her to go towards the living room.
The two girls entered the bedroom to see that Spike had rolled onto his back and had his arm
over his eyes. "Whoever that is, will you please shoot me and put me out of my misery?" he
asked with a plaintive whine.
Buffy and Willow exchanged looks, then burst out laughing. Spike raised his arm to look at
"Too late," the two girls chorused, and fell into laughter again.