The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre
(or Why Valentine's Day Sucks)


by Saber ShadowKitten
Holidays: Part 3
PG-13 Version







Part Five







Violence. Such an elegant word to the one who craves it, embraces it. Violence gives off

a natural high, an adrenaline rush not accomplished with any drug, any religion, any sexual

act. And it is with this natural high that a fighter can become better, more fluid, more

graceful, more powerful if they know how to use it, know how to harness it. Very few

know how, for it is a combination of emotion and skill, is both mental and physical, takes

cunning and agility. With this high, a midget could take on a giant and win. Or a Slayer

and a vampire.

Buffy rolled to her feet, twisting her body to lash out with her foot, catching the vampire

across the jaw. His head snapped back, the crack of the bone breaking echoing in the

empty alley where so many similar fights have taken place. She stepped forward with a

snap kick, nailing her opponent in the knee, snapping the tendons, causing him to fall

towards her. Quickly, she pulled a stake from nowhere and plunged it into his heart. He

exploded in a cloud of dust.

"He certainly was a waste of space," she said to herself, sliding the stake into its hiding

place. Shoving her hands in the pockets of her leather jacket, she made her way out of the

alley, continuing her patrol. She let her mind wander as she walked, her thoughts drifting

to the ghost hanging out in the library. He'd been there for over a month now, talking and

flirting with Willow. Mostly flirting. Willow hadn't noticed, though, she figured he was

only interested in someone to talk to. After all, he was dead. Corpses didn't make good

conversationalists.

They had yet to find out who the vampires or their intended victims were for the St.

Valentine's Day Massacre reenactment James had prophesized. Spike had gone whole hog

in 'persuading' those he found into giving him information, but to no avail.

Spike. When Buffy thought of him, her insides melted into a bowl of pudding bringing a

smile to her face. Her greatest opponent turned into her greatest love. And love him she

did, a bright, happy love that kept the darkness of her non-chosen life at bay. He was so

different than Angel, light where Angel was dark, lean instead of brawny, outgoing rather

than withdrawn. He wasn't afraid to touch her, to demand her touch. He challenged her,

made her think, wouldn't let her slide into the depression that sometimes threatened to

overwhelm her when she thought about all who died because of her inability to kill

Angelus, when she thought about the pain she caused her friend, her mentor, her Watcher,

Giles.

When they made love, it was like the heavens were singing, no matter that he had no soul.

And each time he said her name, the sky would burst into all the colors of the rainbow,

showering her with joy and wonder that this man could love her. And love her he did, a

tender, all encompassing love that made her quiver with its intensity, its fire engulfing her

wholly, truly, completely. The only barrier to their love was that he was a vampire. And

she was the Slayer. The last time she ignored that fact, lives were destroyed, including the

one whose heart she now held.

She knew he wouldn't turn her, wouldn't make her into that which she most feared. But

could she stand by as the innocent lives she was sworn to protect were snuffed out to

bring life to the man she loved? Should she make that same mistake by not staking him as

she did Angelus all those months ago? Or should she do her sacred duty and destroy the

most gentle yet savage creature to enter her all too short life? The choice was simple.

The choice was complicated. The choice was impossible.

One day, she'd have to talk to him about it. But not today.

*****

"You know, if we don't find out who these mugs are, there's gonna be seven stiffs wearing

wooden kimonos," James said, sitting back down next to Willow and her computer.

"What's the wire?"

"Uh no news is good news?" Willow said carefully. She shrugged. "Maybe Spike will

have found something out tonight."

"Spike. That's the blond cat who's dizzy with the hot tomato, right?" James asked.

"Yes, Buffy," she replied, typing a few keys on the computer. Suddenly, her face lit up.

"I think I found something. Giles!"

"Yes, Willow?" Giles said, exiting his office.

"I got an order from the mayor's office that is suppose to be delivered on the 14th," she

said excitedly. "It's for seven coffins. Oh, that's not good."

"Does that machine tell you where the, uh, coffins are to be brought?" Giles asked.

Willow searched the screen for a moment, her mouse rapidly clicking. "Drat. No, it

doesn't, only that it's for somewhere in Sunnydale on Valentine's Day, which is odd

considering its on a Sunday this year."

"Hmm, interesting," Giles said, removing his glasses and sticking the corner in his mouth

as he thought.

"What's interesting?" Xander said, entering the library with Faith, having met up with her

in the hall.

"Delivery of coffins on Valentine's Day," Willow supplied to her friends.

"Nothing says I love you like a pine box," Xander quipped. "Speaking of wood, anyone

see the Buffster?"

"Nope," she replied. "I haven't seen her since yesterday."

"Maybe she's doing a little undercover work," Faith suggested, a lewd smile on her face.

"Get your mind out of that gutter, young lady," Xander scolded. "I'd rather think of Buffy

as-as-as chaste, and, uh, pure and my love slave."

"Too late for that, Xand," Faith said. "Have you seen the bites on that girls neck? Damn,

they had to be goin' at it like bunnies." Giles cleared his throat, his eyes wide and a slight

pallor washed across his skin. "Oh, sorry, Giles. I guess you don't want to hear about B's

voracious love for all things Spike. My bad."

"Voracious?" Xander asked, pointedly.

Faith shrugged. "It was on my word a day calendar. Sue me."

"Yes, well, um to-to-to-to get back to St. Valentine's Day," Giles prompted, sliding his

glasses back into place. "Willow is trying to unearth more information from that dread

machine."

"Computer, Giles," Xander said. "Com-pu-ter. It's not that hard once you get the hang of

the English language."

Giles glared at him. "We need to find out where the delivery is to be made."

"Why don't we just do a stake out?" Faith asked. "There's not too many ways into this

'burb. We should be able to cover them all between the bunch of us. Then bada bing,

bada boom, we slay."

"Well, I, er guess th-that would do," Giles stammered.

"Cool," Faith said, heading for the door. "I'm gone then. Check ya laters."

James looked over at Willow who gave him a shrug and a smile before returning her

attention to the computer. "That twist sure has a yap on her."

"Hey, you're a little too dead to be looking at her yap," Xander said to the ghost. Willow

and James laughed at his misunderstanding. "Fine, laugh at me. But just you wait 'til

Faith knocks you on your ghostly hiney, then we'll see who laughs."

*****

"What do you bloody want?" Spike said, glaring at the vampire in front of him. He was

on his way to Buffy's house for a nice, quiet, hopefully naked evening with the Slayer

when he was stopped.

"I heard you had a ghost problem," Angel said, falling into step with the peroxide blond.

"The only problem we've got is you, mate," he replied. "Can't you stay gone?"

"Look, I don't know what the hell you've done to Buffy or what you're planning, but if you

hurt her, I will hunt you down like the dog you are and skin you," Angel snapped.

"I'd like to see you try, you stupid sod," Spike growled back.

The right cross that caught his jaw came as a complete surprise to the blond vampire. He

hadn't expected Angel to do anything, he usually was all talk and no action. Head

snapping back with the blow, Spike dropped into a defensive stance as the second swing

came, blocking it with his forearm before throwing his own punch. Angel ducked back

out of the way, kicking out and tripping the younger vampire.

Spike sprang back to his feet, lashing out with a kick to his sire's midsection, breaking

ribs. Grunting, Angel sent a spinning back kick to his face, knocking him on the other side

of the jaw. The fight became more involved and brutal, and they did not notice the blond

figure approaching them until she screamed.

"Spike! Angel! What the hell are you doing!" Buffy yelled, staying clear of the fight. It

would have been comical, the way they suddenly stopped, if she wasn't upset they were

fighting. Spike was the first to send her a sheepish smile.

"Sorry, pet. Just having a bit of fun with peaches here," he said, walking towards her.

She stopped him with a sharp poke in his chest.

"Don't you 'pet' me," she ground out. "I want to know why you two were fighting, and I

want to know now!"

"He started it," Spike said, pointing to Angel. Angel glared at him, wiping the blood from

his mouth on his sleeve.

"I don't care who started it! I want to know why!"

Spike faced her, his eyes wide at the Slayer's anger. Then he realized something else was

underlying her outburst as he observed the way she stood, the way her eyes flicked over to

Angel even as she glared at him. He really hated when his sire came to town. "It's a guy

thing, luv. He was only making sure I was taking care of you." Not really the truth, but

not a total lie, either.

Buffy's brow was knitted as she started at him, weighing what he said. "Fine. Just don't

do it again," she told him, then turned to Angel. "What are you doing here?"

"Giles called," Angel simply said. Buffy nodded, then started to walk again. Spike shot

Angel a murderous glare, then hustled to catch up with her.

"Ducks? Do you still want me to come over?" he asked with shy hopefulness.

The Slayer couldn't help the small quirk of her lips at his tone, reminding her of the vast

contradictions that made him unique. "Yes, you can still come over," she replied with a

dramatic sigh. When his whole face lit up she let go of her anger at him and laughed. "I

don't know why I put up with you."

He stopped her suddenly, grabbing her arm and pulling her so they were standing inches

apart. He cupped her chin with his other hand, ignoring the fact that Angel was standing a

few feet back, and tilted her face to his. "I hope it's because you love me," he said quietly,

uncertainty in his eyes. "Not because of him."

The choice was simple.







Part Six







Spike could swear his heart was pounding in his chest as he waited for her to answer. The

time seemed to stretch on for eternity as all his insecurities were laid in plain view of the

one man who once held Buffy's heart, the man who destroyed his, leaving him to pick up

the pieces and try to glue them back together.

Her answer was a kiss. The softest, sweetest, gentlest, most tender kiss he'd ever

received.

His whole body began to tremble as the feelings she invoked overwhelmed his senses.

Shaking, he pulled her into his arms, deepening the kiss with passion and ferocity, telling

her with his lips and tongue how much he loved her, worshiped her, how she filled the

missing pieces in the heart that Angel had shattered when he had stolen Dru.

Buffy broke the kiss first, gulping in breaths of air as his fingers stroked her cheek, her

neck, sending shivers down her spine. "Let's go," she said quietly, forgetting completely

that Angel was standing nearby. Spike nodded once, taking her hand in his and

intertwining their fingers, his eyes never leaving hers. They began a slow walk back the

way they'd come, heading for his home.

Angel had never witnessed a more powerful, pure love in all his two hundred forty years

of existence.

*****

His voice mingled with hers, and he felt the explosion that sent him into a place where

everything was right, everything was perfect and everything was possible. Including her

giving him his soul.





Part Seven





Peace. That's what he felt as he held Buffy in his arms. A deep, fulfilling peace that filled

his entire body. The fear that had sprung up earlier as she touched him had been his

demon fighting against him, fighting against her, fighting against love. But in a battle

between love and hate, there could only ever be one true winner. Love.

Buffy sighed against Spike's chest, her fingers tracing invisible patterns over the muscles

of his abdomen. "Did I answer your question?"

He chuckled, the low sound echoing under her ear. "Yes, luv, you did," he said, gently

squeezing her waist. He glanced over at the small clock and groaned. "I don't want you

to go."

She looked at the clock as well, noting the late, or rather early, hour. "I don't want to go

either, but if I don't, mom's gonna kill me," she replied, crawling out of his arms and

across the bed to retrieve her clothes. "Tomorrow er, today is the 13th. Giles said to

meet in the library as soon as you can get there. Kind of a last ditch effort to figure out

how to stop this thing-a-ma-bob from happening."

"I'll be there," Spike replied, watching her dress with heavy, appreciative eyes. She slid on

her shoes, then bent and kissed him softly before sliding on her coat. She paused at the

back door, turning to look at him.

"I love you," Buffy said with a small smile, then quickly opened the door and left.

"I love you, too, Buffy," he whispered into the quiet room. "More than you could ever

imagine."

*****

"You mean we gotta pull all day stake outs and then slay?" Buffy asked Giles the next

afternoon in the library. The Slayer and her friends spent more time in the school than

anywhere else, which was strange considering teens spent most of their energy trying to

get out of school.

"Yes, if it requires that long," Giles answered. "That was the-the plan."

"I guess I'll be loading up on Jolt cola," she sighed, arching her back to work the kinks out

from sleeping most of the Saturday away. "When's the rest of the Wild Bunch suppose to

get here?"

"I told them at sunset, which means they should be here soon," he replied. "Angel will be

here, as-as well."

"I know. I ran into him and Spike having a free for all last night," Buffy said. "Speaking

of old haunts, where's James?"

"I'm not sure," Giles said. "He wasn't here when I arrived."

"You think he's pulled a David Copperfield?"

"Not that I am aware of," he replied. "Per-perhaps he went to wherever ghosts go when

they're not on this plane."

"To the big Starbucks in the sky," Buffy smiled. "Gotcha."

"Hi Buffy!" Willow greeted, entering the library with James. Giles smiled at the duo, then

retreated to his office.

"Hey, Wills," Buffy responded, shooting a puzzled look at the ghost. "I didn't know you

could leave the library."

"Why not? I'm a ghost, not a stiff," James replied.

"Mr. Clark has been telling me stories about the Prohibition," Willow told Buffy excitedly.

"Hello, ladies and ghosts," Xander said, joining them. "Are we all set for another exciting

night of preventing the fang gang from taking over Sunnydale?"

"I thought we were going Richard Dreyfus/Emilio Estevez tonight," Buffy said.

"Not until closer to midnight," Willow replied. "The delivery instructions said Valentine's

Day, and at midnight it officially becomes the 14th, so we should start then. Bad guys

usually do things about that time, don't they?"

"That's been my experience," she answered. "And hello Oz." Willow's eyes widened and

she spun around to see the short guitarist standing in the library doorway.

"Hey," Oz greeted in return. "Willow, can I talk to you?"

"Sure," Willow said, looking over he shoulder at Buffy, then following him out into the

hall.

"Go get him, doll," James said quietly, a small, knowing smile on his face.

*****

"I had a visitor this morning," Oz began without preamble. "A ghost. Hadn't seen one of

them before, but I wasn't too surprised considering."

"Mr. Clark visited you?" Willow asked with a small voice.

"Yes. Interesting man. Hard to understand, though," Oz replied. "Basically, he told me

that if I passed up the chance to be with you, I was really dumb. Of course, he used more

colorful words. That got me thinking about you, which isn't much of a change because I

always am thinking about you, and decided he was right."

"He was?"

"Willow, I'm not going to lie to you and say I'm ok with what happened, but I know that

you loved Xander for like...ever and it was inevitable. But now that it has, I'm going to

take the approach that he's in the past and I hope to be your present and future."

"I'd love for you to be my present and future," Willow whispered.

Oz nodded. "Hug?"

Willow was in his arms in an instant and they both sighed in happiness, silently thanking

the ghost who brought them back together.

*****

"So, what's going on?" Oz asked when he and Willow returned to the library.

"Stake out, starting tonight," Faith answered, having arrived a few minutes before.

"Cool," Oz said. "Count me in."

"Me, too," Angel said, stepping out of the stacks, but keeping himself separate, no longer

having a place with the group gathered in what was affectionately dubbed Slayer Central.

"That's a good way to get yourself staked, Deadboy," Xander snapped, startled by his

voice.

"Sorry."

"Is Spike coming?" Willow asked Buffy after seeing Angel.

"He said he'd be here," Buffy replied.

Oz gave her a strange look, which was not that different than his normal looks. "And we

are wanting him to come? I have a feeling I'm behind on a lot."

"Spike's good," Willow told him. "Well, not really good in a has a soul and doesn't kill

anyone sort of way. But he won't hurt us. He's Buffy's main squeeze."

"Right," Oz said, taking in the information with his unflappable persona. He cocked his

head suddenly. "Warrant."

"Huh?" Buffy said, wondering what he meant. Then she heard singing coming from the

hallway. Loud singing. And the sound of someone jumping up and hitting the overhangs.

"She's my cherry pie, cool drink of woman such a sweet surprise, tastes so good makes a

poor man cry, sweet cherry pie..." The door to the library opened as the singing tapered

off, admitting a jovial Spike. "Hello, all," he greeted, coming into the room practically

bouncing on his feet. He went over to Buffy and dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

"What's up with you?"

"He probably fed off a druggie," Angel sneered under his breath, loud enough so those

with enhanced hearing understood. Buffy was about to retort when Spike did something

very un-Spike-like. He turned to the stacks, scrunched up his face and stuck his tongue

out at his sire.

Buffy started to giggle, smacking him on the shoulder. "Behave," she said without

conviction.

Spike gave her a big smile. "Only if I must, pet."

"Before you two start goin' at it like rabbits," Faith said, making Buffy blush. "We should

get this party started."

*****

It was decided to split up in teams of two with Giles staying at the library and the ghost

going with Angel. They were to cover the few entrances into Sunnydale, loaded down

with Jolt cola and instructed to call if the delivery was made.

"This sucks," Xander said, kicking his feet out in front of him on the bench.

"What does?" Faith asked. She pulled out her knife and began digging at the sole of her

boot.

"It's Valentine's Day, and I'm sitting at a bus stop surrounded by the dregs of humanity.

But, hey, at least there aren't thirty or so women trying to kill me this year."

"If you want, I can kill you," she replied.

"I'll keep that in mind if things start to get too boring," he joked.

*****

"This is not how I pictured spending Valentine's Day," Oz said, sipping a cup of coffee

and looking out the window of his van. "I was thinking more along the lines of music,

conversation, maybe a little dancing."

"Well, it doesn't have to be all bad," Willow said. She turned on the radio and played with

the dials until she was satisfied. "We have music. And-and we're talking. Although

dancing may be hard."

Oz gave her one of his happy smiles. "And I have you."

*****

"So, what did a gee like you get your skirt last Valentine's Day?" James asked Angel.

"A heart," Angel replied, guilt weighing heavily on his mind.

"What kind? Chocolate? Paper?"

"Human."

*****

"Pet?"

"Hmm?"

"We're suppose to be watching for the truck."

"You watch, I'll do this."

"Slayer!"

*****

"There she is," Oz said, starting up the van as the large delivery truck drove by them. He

pulled out onto the quiet Sunnydale street, keeping a good distance between him and the

truck. They followed it towards the docks, parking near the curb to watch as they

unloaded seven coffins into a run down building. Ducking as the truck drove off, they

waited a few minutes, then headed back to the library.





Part Eight





"What now, oh fearless tweedman?" Xander asked Giles when they all reconvened at the

library. The humans in the room were decidedly hyper from the caffeine they'd consumed

over the course of the night.

"I would suggest that we go to the um, docks and take a look," Giles answered.

"I'm game," Faith said.

"Me, too," Willow added.

"Wherest thou goes..." Oz said to Willow, who grinned happily.

"Well, I have to escort a certain blond home," Buffy said, wrapping her arms around

Spike's waist. "But then I'm free."

"After a couple of hours," Spike mumbled to her. She giggled.

Eventually, it was decided that everyone but Angel and Spike, who couldn't go out of

necessity, would head down to the docks. Buffy pouted, but went anyway.

It was impossible for five caffeine laden teens to be silent as they snuck into the

warehouse. Giles sighed heavily as they broke out into giggles over Xander kicking a

paint can, and gave the ghost a shrug. "Children," he said, the word explaining it all.

"Check it out," Faith said, approaching the coffins lined neatly in the center of the room.

"You know what I don't get," Xander said, opening one up and looking inside. "Why do

they need coffins? They could just leave the bodies and I doubt Sunnydale's finest would

find them."

"Maybe they're gonna use them as a hiding place, like in that James bond movie," Willow

suggested. "Customs doesn't like to check bodies for contraband."

"Possible," Giles said, examining a coffin.

"Or how about vamp transportation?" Buffy said. "It's dark, comfy and they look like

corpses."

"Pretty smart," Oz said to her. "Especially if they need to travel across seas."

"However, this still does not tell us who the, er, vic-victims are," Giles said.

"How 'bout if we play opossum?" Faith suggested. "Hide in these babies 'til they get here,

then wham! We hit 'em where it kills."

"I get the one with the red!" Xander called, jumping up into the casket he opened. He laid

down and closed his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. "Someone close me in."

"Xander, I-I-I do not think..."

"I get this one."

"Oz, help me up."

"Hey Faith, toss a stake over here."

"Watch your head."

Giles sighed again, removing his glasses to rub his eyes.

*****

Giles went back to the library to get more weapons and leave messages for Spike and

Angel as to the groups whereabouts while James watched over the teens. They had

quieted down after an hour, the caffeine wearing off and their bodies insisted they sleep.

In the coffins. With a ghost for a babysitter.

"Hey cats and kittens, it's showtime," James said late that afternoon. Giles had returned

with stakes, holy water and other slaying paraphernalia before hiding himself in the

warehouse with a book. Paperback for once.

The gang that had emerged to sit around and talk while waiting after they'd finally woken

up scrambled to get back in position, loaded down with weapons. The Opossum Plan, as

Xander dubbed it, called for James to give the signal to attack, and the two Slayers would

push open the lids, firing their crossbows while the rest aided from the wings.

But, the best laid plans of mice and men...

*****

"Sorry mate, it's not gonna work," Spike said to Angel as they walked quickly to the dock.

Or rather, Angel walked. Spike bounced like Tigger. "Your words have no effect on

me."

Angel scowled at him. "Just remember, she loved me first."

"Yeah, but she loves me now, you jealous loon," he replied, giving his sire a cocky grin.

"An' there's nothing you can do about it." He practically sang the second sentence, that's

how sure he was of his heart. Of his mate.

"Put a cork in it," Angel snapped as they approached the address Giles had left for them at

the library. Peering carefully around a corner, he motioned for them to creep towards the

door. Spike ignored him and sauntered on by in time to see Faith come crashing out a

window.

"Ouch, that hurt," she said, pushing to her feet. "'Bout time yous guys showed up!

We're gettin' our asses kicked." And with that, she jumped back through the window.

"I love this part," Spike confided in Angel before jumping through the window as well,

trying to hide the smile on his face. Angel shook his head before joining them.

The inside of the warehouse was a mess, coffins overturned and broken, dust and blood

covering the floor. Oz, Willow, Xander and Giles had created a barricade with old crates

and tables, firing crossbow bolts and throwing bottles of holy water at the vampires

fighting with Faith and Buffy in between fighting for their lives as the vamps came after

them. James was with them, but all he could do was stand and watch.

Buffy was bleeding heavily from a gash on her temple, her clothing ripped and bloody, as

she fought three vamps at once. Faith was no better, having just broken through a

window, as she tackled two to the ground.

Spike stood watching his mate for a moment, admiring her form and skill. He could tell

that she was high on an adrenaline rush as she expertly plunged another stake into the

heart of her opponent. Without pausing, she back flipped over two that were trying to

sneak up behind her.

Angel barreled past him, diving into the fray with little finesse but a lot of anger. Anger at

Spike for just standing there while Buffy was getting hurt. With each hit on another

vampire, he pretended to beat his peroxide blond childe to a pulp.

With an actual giggle, Spike headed casually for the fight in the center of the room,

cracking his knuckles. "Hello, cutie," he called out, his voice echoing over the fight.

"Miss me?"

It was as if Moses parted the Red Sea all over again.

The vampires turned as one, their heads whipping towards the sound of his voice.

"Spike?"

Someone was brave enough to croak out his name, and his lips rose in a slow smile. He

took a half bow, then dropped into a relaxed fighting stance. "Anyone?"

Chaos erupted. Complete and total insanity. This would go down in the Watchers Diaries

as the strangest conclusion to any battle against the forces of darkness in history. Five

vampires staked themselves, three jumped out the window Faith had crashed through to

escape, one groveled on the floor and two decided they were brave enough to take on

Spike, being the leaders of the attack.

The bigger of the two charged at him, and he ducked, clipping the vamp in the legs. He

went over Spike's back like a ton of bricks, landing heavily on the floor. Spike stomped

down on the back of his neck, breaking it instantly. Then spun and kicked the other

attacker across the jaw, followed by a left cross. After all, he was a lefty.

With a wink, he boxed the vampire's ears, then yanked his head down into Spike's knee,

smashing his nose. Holding on to his collar, Spike pitched him towards a handy metal

support column, his head hitting with a loud clang. The blond vampire took that

opportunity to kick the fallen vampire in the ribs with the steel toe of his boot, cracking

them.

"Should we stake them?" Faith asked, hands on her knees as she watched him give the

vampire he'd thrown into the metal column a wedgie.

"Nah, let him have his fun," Buffy said, amused by her lover's antics. She walked over to

where the rest of her friends were watching and looked them over. No one seemed to be

too hurt.

After a few more minutes, both vampires were little more than bloody heaps on the

ground with Spike squatting between them. "Now, who were the victims for your little

massacre that was suppose to be tonight?"

"Just the two families," the one who could still move his jaw got out. "Trick says they're

the most influential in Sunnydale not under the Mayor's control."

"Names, poopkin, give me the names," Spike demanded in a soft, deadly tone.

"Chase and Vargus," he said. "Set for ten."

Spike patted him on the back, then stood, turning to the others still watching him with

undisguised interest. He strolled over to Buffy and tilted her chin, examining the wound

on her head. "You're hurt," he said.

"I've been worse," she shrugged. "You, on the other hand, are amazing."

"I try," he replied, grinning at her. He looked at the others. "The hit's on some families

by the names of Chase and Vargus. We have until ten o'clock to prevent it."

"Chase? As in Cordelia?" Xander asked, his voice tinged with worry.

Spike shrugged. "Got me, mate."

"I-I-I wanted to ask how you did that," Giles finally managed to say coming out of his

stupor at the actions of their opponents when Spike appeared. "I've never seen anything

like it."

"That's because Angel-boy was a fairy," Spike replied. "He didn't instill fear in anyone."

"Hey," Angel said, offended.

"Ok, maybe a little fear when you lost your soul again," he said. "Just a bit."

"You mean the vampires were afraid of you?" Willow asked. He nodded. "But why

didn't they think you were on their side? You don't have a soul."

"Who says I don't?" Spike replied cryptically. Buffy shot him a confused glance.

"Spike here has managed to garner himself a pretty gruesome reputation this past month,"

Angel answered the hacker's question since it didn't look like his childe would. "Plus,

with his claim on Buffy, it makes him all the more formidable, especially those younger

than him."

"So you mean since he's doing the vertical lambada with B and hasn't been dusted by her,

the fangs are scared of him?" Faith said. Angel nodded. "Damn, I gotta get me one of

those."

"Sorry, Faith, Spike's are in short supply," Buffy said. "And mine's not for sale."

"How 'bout a rental?" Faith asked, wiggling her eyebrows.

"You know guys, as much as I'd love to stay around here and talk about Buffy's desire to

sleep with corpses, we have a couple of families to save," Xander said shortly, turning no

his heel and heading for the warehouse door.

"Boy, his short hairs are caught on his zipper," Faith said.

"It's Cordelia," Willow pointed out.

"Which will either make this really easy," Buffy said. "Or really hard."







Part Nine







"Here it is, Emily Vargus," Buffy said, pointing to a picture in last year's yearbook.

"I know Emily," Oz said, looking over the counter at the book. "She was in my music

class. One of the few I actually showed up for."

"Then you have Vargus duty," Buffy said. "Take Willow and Faith with you and

somehow convince Emily to keep her family indoors tonight. And not invite anyone in."

"Let's motor," Faith said, grabbing a few more stakes and leaving with the newly re-

matched couple. Angel and the ghost had stayed behind by the warehouse just in case

Trick or the Mayor managed to get either of the families.

"Xander, you, me and Spike are going to Cordelia's," Buffy continued. "Hopefully she'll

get it through her thick head that this is important."

"We are talking about the same Cordelia, right?" Xander said as they went out the door.

*****

"Hi, is Cordelia here?" Buffy asked.

"Si, Senorita," Lousia, the Chase's housekeeper replied.

"Senora," Spike corrected.

"Que?"

"Esta es mi espousa," he told her, putting his arm around Buffy's waist.

"Me excusa, por favor," Louisa said. "I am sorry. I will get her." She held the door open

for them to enter. Buffy whispered a quick 'come in' to Spike once she crossed the

threshold, glad to note that the housekeeper didn't automatically invite people in with

words.

Xander nervously stuck his hands in his pockets, shuffling his feet on the beautifully tiled

floor in the foyer. He was glad Louisa hadn't kept him out.

"What did you say to her?" Buffy asked Spike as she looked around.

"Oh, nothing, pet," he replied, giving her an innocent smile. Buffy scrunched her nose at

him, vowing to look up what he said later.

"What do you want?" Cordelia practically hissed as she came down the stairs. Then she

noticed Spike standing next to Buffy, arm still around her waist. "Oh, god," she said,

pulling out a body of holy water she kept on her and flinging it at the Slayer.

"Hey!" Buffy screeched as Spike jumped away from her. "What the hell was that for?"

"You-you're not a vampire?" Cordelia asked, shaken.

"No, I'm not a vampire," Buffy said. "Neither is Xander."

"But Spike "

"Oh, he's with me," the Slayer said, wiping her face on her sleeve as she turned to the

vampire in question. "Great, now you can't touch me until I change." Spike pouted,

making her laugh.

"Ok, does someone want to clue me in now, or should I have you forcefully removed?"

Cordelia said.

"You're in danger, Cordy," Xander told her, not looking up from the floor. "We need

you to keep your family inside for tonight and not invite anyone in."

"What did you guys do to me now?" Cordelia whined.

"It's not us, it's the Mayor and Trick," Buffy said. "They're not happy with your dad not

being in their back pockets."

The brunette looked at the trio for a long moment, then nodded. "I'll keep them home

somehow. But I want a little protection in return."

"We were planning on doing that anyway," Buffy said, turning for the door. "Spike and I

will be outside patrolling the grounds until dawn. You guys should be safe after then."

"What about " The door opened and closed on Cordelia's sentence. "Xander?"

"I'm suppose to stay inside with you," Xander told her, pain in his voice. "Last line of

defense sort of thing."

"You?" she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Listen, I know you hate me and could care less about how I feel, but I love you and

don't want to see you or your family get hurt," he said quickly. "I'll just hang out here by

the front door. Tell Louisa not to open the back door unless it's Buffy or Spike."

Cordelia stared at his down turned head, his statement seeping into her brain. Wordlessly,

she turned on her heel and left.

*****

"That thing you said to Willow earlier, what did you mean?" Buffy asked as they circled

the Chase's property.

"What thing was that, pet?" Spike said, walking backwards so he could see her as they

patrolled. He was still high on love, in fact he doubted he'd ever come down.

"She said you didn't have a soul and you said 'who's says I don't,'" she replied. "What

did you mean?"

"What do you think I meant?"

Buffy scowled at him. "Stop that!"

"Stop what?"

"Answering my questions with a question!"

"Am I doing that?"

"Aargh!" Buffy screamed as he laughed. He faced forward again and pinched her rear,

causing her to screech, then punch him in the shoulder, hard.

*****

Xander was sitting on the floor, back against the wall, staring at nothing, his forearms

dangling from his bent knees. He didn't notice Cordelia come into the front hall until she

sat down beside him, her normally fashionably dressed body clad in an old sweatshirt and

sweatpants.

"Ok, I've never hated someone so much as I hate you, Xander," she said. "I hate that you

have the power to hurt me, that you did hurt me, that I gave up almost everything I knew

to be with you."

"I'm sorry."

"It's going to take a lot more than words to show me you're sorry," she told him. "It's

going to take flowers, and candy, and jewelry, and you dressing better, and coming with

me whenever I want to go shopping and not complaining about it, and closet time. Lots

of closet time."

Xander wasn't sure if he heard right as he raised his head to stare at her, mouth gaping.

"You-you-you "

"The reason I hate you so much is because I love you, you dweeb," Cordelia said. "And if

you ever hurt me like that again, I'll pull out your testicles through your nose and wear

them as earrings."

*****

"And that's why birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let's do it, let's fall in

love." Spike was singing again, rather loudly, on his side of the property. Buffy insisted

they had to split up before she throttled him, so he was relegated to the front yard.

Dancing along the edge of a circular fountain, he launched into more of the song.

"The most refinenated dogs do it, when a gentleman calls. Moths in your rugs they do it,

what's the use of my balls? The chimpanzees in the zoo do it, some courageous

kangaroos do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love."

*****

Buffy shook her head. She could hear Spike singing all the way on the opposite side of

the mansion. He'd been acting strangely, so non-vampire like, pretty much since New

Year's Eve, but lately it's gotten even worse. In a good sort of way. He was just

so happy.

"I know sometimes on the sly you do it, maybe even you and I might do it. Let's do it,

let's fall in love." Buffy rolled her eyes once again at the song. Only he would know

something so wacky.

But then again, love makes you do the wacky. Or, in his case, sing it.







Part Ten







"Hiya, doll," James said, appearing in front of Buffy from nowhere.

Buffy shrieked and fell backwards off her perch on the back porch railing, landing with a

thud on the wood. "Ow."

"Sorry, baby. I just stopped by to give you the rumble. Seems you made the trip for

biscuits. You can take it on the heel and toe if you want," he told her.

"Um ok," Buffy gave him a fake smile, having no idea what he'd said. He nodded once

and disappeared just as Spike came running around the corner.

"You alright, pet?" he asked, hurrying to her side.

"I'm fine. Mr. Clark popped in to tell us something. I have no clue," she admitted,

climbing to her feet. "Something about biscuits and rumbling feet."

Spike chuckled. "We'll give your Watcher a call and find out."

*****

"It's a wash," Buffy said, hanging up the phone in the Chase's kitchen. "Trick showed up

at the warehouse, found our handiwork, including the two vamps we didn't stake and got

the hell out of Dodge."

"That means you can leave," Cordelia said. "Good."

"You're welcome for saving you from what could have been a horrifying death," Buffy

replied sarcastically. "Please be sure to call on us again."

"Sarcasm looks worse on you than that outfit," she responded, heading for the front door.

Xander gave Buffy a shrug and trailed after her.

"I just so love being at the receiving end of Cordelia's tongue," Buffy said to Spike who

was leaning casually against a counter.

"Now, that'd be something I'd like to see," he replied with a half grin, and a lewd wink.

"Not in your un-lifetime, sweetie," she said before walking out of the kitchen. He

chuckled and followed her.

*****

"I still say we shoulda let them have her," Faith said, popping another cookie in her

mouth. The group had re-gathered at the library an hour before dawn to say good-bye to

James, who said his deadline was when the sun rose. At least, that's what Willow told

them he said.

"Hey, that's my not-girlfriend you're slamming," Xander said, stealing the bag from the

brunette Slayer.

"Did you guys notice that we missed the Valentine's Day party at the Bronze?" Willow

asked, sitting closely by Oz.

"I'm glad we did," Xander replied. "If it wasn't for this massacre reenactment thingy,

Cordelia still wouldn't be talking to me."

"Oz, too," Willow said softly.

"Well, I still say Valentine's Day sucks," Faith said.

"Why is that, Faith?" Giles asked.

"'Cuz I didn't get any," she replied, sending a flush up her sort-of-Watcher's face. The

others laughed and began to compare Valentine's Day horror stories.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" Angel said, putting his hand on Spike's shoulder. He

shrugged and followed his sire out into the hall. "I'm heading back to LA tonight."

"Good."

Angel grit his teeth to hold back his sharp retort, then went on. "Just take care of her, ok?

She's more fragile than she thinks she is."

"I know," Spike replied.

"I'm still not happy about this, but I'll let it go. I only wish I knew what she means to

you," Angel said, then turned on his heel and left.

Spike watched his sire walk out of the school and into the fading night. "She means

everything to me, Angelus," he said quietly in the empty hallway. "She is my soul."

End