Spike walked through the empty streets, smiling for the first time in months. He had returned to Brasil, ready to get Drusilla back to him, and then forget all about Sunnydale and the suffering he had gone through in the damn town.
So why he was now in the same place? Just because Dru had told him to? Just because the Chaos Demon who shared her bed wanted to see the bloody Hellmouth? Or because once again he was confident that he could manipulate the trusting Slayer into helping him with his revenge?
That brought many happy memories to the vampire, as he paused to consider his new plan. It had been easy to get Buffy to make a deal with him. His life and Dru's in exchange for a hidden ace in her battle against Angelus. Of course, Dru would not be as trustful this time... she was insane but she wasn't a fool. Spike was not going to be present when her new pet tried to open the Hellmouth again, because 'Miss Edith wanted them to be alone... you understand, don't you Spike?'
Sure he understood. She wanted the sky painted blood red so her beloved Angelus returned, and Spike's presence would be just a nuisance.
The vampire reassumed his pace, heading towards the library. It was the perfect place to find the Slayer or her friends without making an unnecessary scene, like last time he had been there. He would get them as allies, because he liked the world as it was. He liked to be in charge... and it would be the perfect cover to kill the damn Chaos demon who hang around his Drusilla.
* * *
"I'll go and get something to drink." Xander left his place among the books, and rubbed his eyes. The Scooby Gang had been looking for information about the ascension for three days in a row, just to end up with nothing. Whatever the Mayor was planning, they were still in the shadows and thus, unable to prevent it. The only plus points were that now that they had two vampires helping them, Faith and the Mayor's goons had more troubles than usual getting what they needed.
Xander was still amazed at the enthusiasm Angel, _his_ Angel, not Buffy's Deadboy, had taken in helping them. He didn't want to think that it was Angel's way of trying to prove that he was Xander's... but deep down, he felt thrilled by the idea.
His life had become too complicated since Angel/Puppy had arrived. Ever since he learned that the vampire was completely surmise towards him, almost addicted to his company, it was hard for Xander not to feel some pleasure on that. The only thing that kept that pleasure away was the knowledge of what the vampire had suffered at his hands.
A sound in the aisle outside the cafeteria got him out from his thoughts, and he cautiously looked at the door. He knew it wasn't Angel, as the vampire had been keeping his distance when they were researching... But who else could it be in the darkened building?
"Buff? You're back from patrol?" He asked, realizing that it was probably not the best question to make just as the words left his mouth. "Willow? Giles?" He started walking towards the exit, slowly. His relationship with the rest of the gang was strained ever since Angel returned from Hell. It had gotten worse from there... it was so bad now that even if he would still be risking his life for them, he was not at all sure if they would do the same for him. A scary thought if he let himself dwell on it. "C'mon guys, you're scaring me..."
"That's the idea!" Before the young man could react, he was caught in a strong neck grip. The vampire was smiling, his game face shown in all his glory.
"S... Spike?!" Xander managed to stutter, wondering why he was not dead. "What... are you doing here? Drusilla got saner and dump you again?"
Xander knew that taunting the Vampire was close to suicide, but he couldn't stop himself, not even when the grip tightened, making it harder to breathe. Perhaps it was because of the time he had shared his room with Angel, or that after being almost killed by Faith he had finally had enough. He didn't fear Spike... or any other ever again. If that got him killed, well, too bad. There had been enough running away like a girl for his taste.
"You're lucky that I've come to talk, boy, or you would be dead by now." The vampire grunted, and pushed him forward, in the direction of the library. It was pretty close to what he had done just months ago and Xander guessed that his taunt had hit a true spot. Even if Spike was not drunk, it was almost dejav˙.
"Spike." The low voice made the vampire stop just in front of the library doors and Xander smiled. Deadboy was a few feet down the aisle, looking at his childe with worry. Because he knew that for once, Deadboy was not worried about him... but about Spike. "I wouldn't do that if I were you..."
"Why not, 'Angel'?" The blonde vampire asked, amused, as he opened the door to the library with a kick. "Unless you can split in two, it is me the one who has the advantage..."
"Let him go!!" Spike barely had time to recognize the voice before he was thrown against the farthest wall, to be held there by the furious figure of another Angel. An enraged Angel who seemed close to kill him, no matter how much he struggled, and tried to get away. Belatedly, Spike wondered when had been the last time that he had seen his sire so angry... so willing to kill.
"Angel, no!! Don't kill him!" Obeying Xander's order, Puppy let go of Spike. He hadn't seen his friend in a long time, and when he had caught a glimpse of the blond hair through the windows of the main door, he had left his place in the oak table to greet him. But upon seeing that Spike was hurting Xander, the rage had eclipsed everything else. No one was allowed to touch Xander, much less to hurt him. He was not going to let anyone send Xander to the hospital ever again.
But Xander had told him to stop, and as much as he wanted to see blood under his hands, hear someone begging for their lives... Puppy could not disobey his master. Not when he was trying to prove that Xander was the owner of his body and his soul.
Spike blinked, watching amazed as how the Angel that had attacked him shifted his face and turned to see the mortal teenager with a confused stare. That made little sense to Spike, even less than the fact that he was seeing two Angels. Especially because he was sober. "He tried to kill you."
"I know, but he also said he wanted to talk... So let's give him a chance." Xander's voice was almost commanding, something that Spike would have never associated with the boy, not when he was always seeing him as the lap dog of the Slayer. Still confused, Spike got to his feet, noting with some inside joy that the Witch and her wolf seemed as shocked as himself hearing that.
"Since when you are the one who calls the shots? I thought it was the Slayer's work..." Spike quipped, his eyes dancing from the two Angels to Xander. Things had changed too much since his last visit to Sunnydale and he was still wondering if he could use it to his advantage.
"Buffy's not here." Angel said, walking closer. "What do you want, Spike?"
"I came to cut a new deal, " Spike smiled, sitting in the nearest chair, not taking his eyes from the two Angels. The one near Xander still was looking at him with a hate-filled stare, while the other was waiting patiently. They were dressed in pretty much the same style, the only difference being that one was wearing the Claddagh ring that Spike knew Angel had given Buffy for her 17 birthday. There was something else in the ring-less Angel... but Spike couldn't pinpoint it. Yet. "I thought you would like to know that Dru's in town again... and she'll try to re-open the Hellmouth."
Now even Xander was confused. That was good, Spike mused, and got himself comfortable, by putting his feet up the table. As long as he could keep his enemies disoriented, he had the upper hand.
"And you want us to believe that you will betray her?" Ring-Angel asked, nearing the door as if to block the entrance. Spike smiled. He really wanted to know what was going on in his sire's mind. The blonde vampire opened his mouth to speak when Buffy finally entered the library, a smile in her face.
"No. He wants us to promise we won't kill her or him and he'll help us to stop her. Just so he can leave us with the Hellmouth open and hope we will die." The Slayer said, pointing her crossbow towards Spike. "Did I miss something?"
"Don't you believe that people change, Slayer?" Spike pointed towards the Angel twins with his head. "I noticed there were some differences around here." As the girl didn't made any movement to lower her weapon, the blonde killer lifted his hands, surrendering. "I won't run away this time, girl. I want to kill the bastard that's using Dru for his plans. Sure, I'd like to buy her free ticket out of here too, but for now I'll settle with my well being, and the promise that you will try not to slay her if I help you."
He heard Xander snicker, and could swear that he heard the boy mutter something about 'dealing with the devil' but didn't pay much attention. It was bad enough to know that for some strange reason, the boy didn't fear him as he used to. He had to focus in the matter at hand.
"O.K. We'll bite." Buffy finally let go of her crossbow and sat in front of Spike. "What's going on?"
* * *
Angelus waited outside the library, just a few steps behind Xander. Before he could go with his master, he wanted to have a few words with his childe. Once the rage had subdued, he had been listening to Spike, quickly putting all the puzzle pieces in place. In this reality, Spike and Drusilla had visited Sunnydale, instead of staying away from the Master's hunting grounds, and apparently during their stay they had helped Angelus to try and destroy Earth. The idea had some merit to it, the demon mused, but it was very stupid if he could not ensure his master's safety... Or his own.
During Spike's pitiful tale of how Drusilla found a new toy, no one told the blonde vampire why there were two Angels in the group, none had called him Puppy during that time, and Angelus planned to use that to his advantage. He was sure that he still could overpower the younger vampire, and he needed to teach him not to hurt Xander.
Even when in his mind he wondered if his master would punish Spike as cruelly as he punished him.
"It's been a long time since we saw each other, Spike." He whispered, as the other walked out through the wooden door.
"Has it?" Spike caught the barb, and answered in kind. Angelus' grin widened. "You're still the Slayer's pet, my friend. Even if now there are two of you."
Shifting face, just for effect, Angelus caught Spike's neck once again, pressing him against the wall. He only had one second before his childe reacted, and he knew that he had to use it wisely. "I'm not 'the Slayer's pet' Spike. You must remember that."
Spike struggled, but Angelus pulled out a stake from his leather jacket and pushed it against his skin, barely higher than the heart. He knew how it felt for a vampire to feel the deadly weapon so near. It was one of his vampiric master's favorite tortures. His childe stopped struggling immediately, looking at him with suspicious eyes. "What's wrong Angel? Can't take a little joke?"
"My sense of humor has changed, Spike" Even when Spike couldn't know it, Angelus was unconsciously imitating Xander's angry tone. The one that made his own heart shake with fear. "This is just a warning... Never try to hurt Xander again."
Hitting Spike with the back of the stake, just hard enough to leave his former friend shaken, Angelus walked away, smiling. His master would be so proud of him.
* * *
Spike watched as Angel walked away, still trying to understand what had happened. He was used to Angel's weird changes of mood when he was Angelus, but what he had witnessed was very different from those. Besides, it couldn't be Angelus. Not if they were letting him help, not if he was trying to protect a human.
"I told you it was a bad plan, Spike." The other Angel was walking towards him, a smile in his face. Groaning, the blonde vampire rose to his feet. He wasn't up for a double session of sparring and embarrassment at his sire's hands. "He has a very short temper."
"'He'? You mean that he is not some weird reflection of you? Or one of the dumb witch's spells gone wrong?" Spike was curious.
"He comes from another dimension..." Angel began, hesitating slightly as he didn't want Spike to know that his mirror image was called 'Puppy' in his home universe. "A Sunnydale where Buffy never came to town. He is very different from me, as you just saw. Usually he is very quiet, but he is very sensitive about Xander."
"What? The other you is that kid's lapdog now?" Spike laughed, but his joyful mood evaporated when he noticed that Angel was not angry at him. He seemed even more worried.
"I wouldn't say that when he's around Spike. Even if Buffy agreed to your peace offering, I wouldn't answer if you cross him."
* * *
Xander looked at Angel's sleeping figure, with a half smile in his face. He really loved to see Angel sleep, mostly because it was when almost all of the suffering that the vampire had was erased in his face.
It was not always like that, so peaceful and silent.
Sometimes, especially since Xander had made clear that Angel's company was not welcome in his bed, the vampire had nightmares. Most of them were about the time he spend as vampire Xander's 'Puppy', the tortures and humiliation he had been subject to. They rarely talked about it, and if Xander wanted more light about those years, he had to order his way around, stand more horror stories of what _he_ could do if he let his impulses get the best of him.
But lately, Angel's nightmares were about his days in this universe, about what Xander had or had not done.
Those hurt Xander a lot, even when he had learned not to show it. He knew that Angel was afraid that he would be sent away, forgotten and ignored. Angel didn't gave him much details, but the mortal knew that the dreams were a long detailed depiction of _mortal_ Xander, of himself, leaving Angel alone. Or making him beg for his life.
He wanted to tell him that it was not like that, that he would never make him go if he could help it, that there would be no more tortures or suffering.
But he couldn't trust himself to stay with words.
He didn't want to go past words.
Not until he could trust Angel to help him remember to stay in control. Lightly caressing Angel's cheek to make sure the vampire was really asleep, he kissed his forehead gently before going out to school.
* * *
Drusilla was spinning on her toes, watching the ceiling of the abandoned hotel that was serving to house her and the Chaos Demon. She was smiling, even when the voices in her head were warning her about the possible doom that Angel could bring upon her. She hated to believe that her beloved Angelus would do something to harm her... but sometimes... sometimes she dreamed of the times when Angel had been at the Slayer's side. When Spike had helped that human girl to destroy her beautiful fires.
That made her sad.
Now the voices were telling her that her Angelus was back, but that Angel was still around. She had to kill one to keep the other. She had to kill the Slayer's friends. And she had to get rid of Spike. She didn't want to get rid of Spike. She liked Spike and sometimes, when the sky was set on fire and the moon was dark, she loved him. But Spike had tried to kill Angel, and that was never going to be forgiven. She couldn't love someone who had betrayed her.
Maybe she could really get rid of Spike after all. She was able to do so many things.
The Chaos Demon was very much like Spike had been before leaving Prague and he also made Drusilla's dreams come true. He planned to finish what Angelus had started, and open the Hellmouth again. The party that Angelus had promised was finally coming true.
But the Chaos Demon didn't listen to Miss. Edith or the other dolls, and thus, he didn't know that he only had to kill the Slayer's friends, that it was only needed to kill one Angel. The insane vampire giggled. She was going to enjoy killing the blonde bitch's friends... and if there were two Angel's, she would kill one of them.
Even if she was not completely sure of which one she had to kill.
* * *
Spike had been truthful with the Scooby Gang for what was probably the first time in his life. He knew that the slayerettes wouldn't trust him, no matter how much he helped them with the planning so he had stayed as close as he could to his word. All he wanted was to destroy the damn demon who had stolen his beloved Dru.
Against all his principles, he had given them a full description of the ritual, hidden stakes at convenient places, all in an attempt to get them to trust him a little more. Of course, it hadn't work, but at least he was sure that no one would accidentally stake him during the fight. Besides, he still was very intrigued by the Angel twins.
During the week that preceded the ritual's night, Drusilla had been rambling on and off about her two Angels, her twin stars and the glorious darkness in one of them. The Chaos Demon had barely paid any attention, as he was obsessed with the absolute destruction of all the mortals around, but Spike had been listening very carefully.
It was true that one of the Angels, the one that was always close to Xander and that the others sometimes called 'Puppy' when they thought Spike couldn't hear them, seemed more merciless than the other. Not enough to be confused with the psychopath that was Angelus, but still very noticeable. Enough to make Spike wonder why they had nicknamed him 'Puppy'.
Whose puppy was the mirror image of his sire? Xander's? That wasn't likely even if the vampire seemed obsessed with keeping the mortal's safe. To make a vampire that submissive someone needed to be stronger than the vampire, and there was no way that the mortal kid could have done it. Maybe the Slayer had ordered her lapdog to keep an eye on their weak link.
If that was the case, Spike only wanted to know one thing. How much should one strain the leash to make the dog bite his guard?
* * *
"O.K. This is the plan," Buffy held her bag of stakes with an all knowing smile, while the rest of the Scooby Gang waited in Oz's van. Since the mysterious ritual was held in a new moon night, they had their full group ready. "We go, get the stakes, and kill all the vampires we can. You just clear my path to the demon. Xander, maybe it would be better if..."
"I'll go with you, Buff. I can take care of myself." Xander shoot his friend a smile, while he doused his batch of stakes with holy water. He knew that Angel's eyes were growing wider with surprise, even if the rest of the group didn't notice. It was one of vampire Xander's torture habits, ensuring that even if the stake didn't hit the heart, the vampire would be immobile, and almost die just out of pain. And he had one advantage over his vampiric self, the stakes wouldn't burn his skin, allowing him to keep a stronger grip. "I don't want anyone leaving the fight just to save me."
The blonde slayer open her mouth to object, even to recall him of what had happened in the last few times when he had helped her. Xander had never been the one who end up hurt before, but lately, he was taking more risks, even if Puppy was not there to get him out. But she changed her mind in the last minute. "Fine, Xander. I was just checking." If he wanted to die, it was not her trouble. She was still furious for his insistence that she _scared_ Puppy, and hated to see the vampire stay close to him. Maybe if Xander had a heroic death, she would forgive him.
And grieve and be comforted by two Angels.
* * *
Drusilla began laughing when Buffy entered the main room of the ancient church they were using for the darkness ritual. It was a circular temple, and the Chaos demon's minions had painted with ashes an ancient pentagram filled with runes in the center, where she was standing over the discarded body of a young girl that had served as the first sacrifice, still holding the ceremonial knife. She wanted to see the flames of hell before anyone else. And the circle was surrounded by vampires, and her Demon was at her side. It was impossible that anyone stopped them now.
She kept laughing even when all of Buffy friends came bursting through the door, interrupting the chants of her Demon lover. Her laughter didn't die even when she saw two Angels, even when her vampires began dying all around her. Even when the other sacrifice they needed ran away after the meddling mortals saved him.
Because she had seen the darkness in her Angel. Her Angelus. She had seen his weakness, the only thing that kept him acting like the Slayer's Angel. Even if the fires didn't came to light her skies that night, she would have her Angelus again. She was happy.
She only stepped out of the rune circle when one of the vampires threw Xander near her, his hands burning thanks to the stakes that the boy was using. There was something bad in those stakes that made them die even if they didn't hit the heart. Drusilla remembered Xander very well, as images of one night came to her mind.
The night when she had offered him eternal life and he had refused.
It was all right.
Now she would not give him a choice.
She was still laughing as she forced him to stand, holding his neck with one hand, tracing soft lines over his chest with the same knife that had been used with the first victim of the sacrifice, making a small cut barely higher than his heart. Not enough to kill, but enough to draw blood. Dru carried him to the center of the circle, smiling and giggling. No one, not even her Demon, noticed.
"Miss Edith told me that it was you the one who kept my Angelus away from me..."The red line in the mortal's chest grew. Then, the battle seemed to freeze over, but she paid no attention to the others. Not even to her Angelus. Her eyes were fixed on Xander's, she would love to see him shiver with fear. "If you die, the stars will smile again." Fear was Drusilla's favorite emotion.
But there was none in Xander's eyes. He was looking at her with darkened eyes, daring her to push the knife farther. "I don't think they're very happy..." The mortal gasped, even as she tightened her hold.
"Drusilla, let him go!" The Slayer screamed, as she broke the Chaos demon's neck. Her friends were paralyzed. Even both Angels were still in their place. Even Spike, who now appeared to be scared, didn't move towards her.
They were finally scared of her.
All of them except Xander. The one she was threatening.
That couldn't be good.
"I am going to have my party now... All of you will die..." Drusilla began, her gaze flickering from her Angelus... her Angelus with rage dark eyes, to her Spike. "All my enemies will die, all my friends will laugh..."
"Pet... It's all over now... Let him go and we will return to Prague..." Spike's voice sounded weak to her. Pleading. Her Spike did not plead. Now it would be easier to get rid of him.
"I almost died on Prague." She still didn't let go of Xander, surprised that he was not struggling... Like the first time she held him like that. When she had saved him from her Angelus. When it seemed that he knew what to do to fight. "You have abandoned me, Spike... you broke our family..."
"Let him go!" Her Angelus growled, making Drusilla blink. She had never heard her Angelus use that tone of voice with her... not even when he had killed her family. But she didn't obey, she just pushed the knife deeper inside the wound, making her way to the mortal's beating heart. "You will be better off without him..." She said, mesmerized by the crimson hue of the mortal's blood in the blade. It was the sacrifice. One drop in the center of the circle and all would be over.
But she wanted it to last until her Angelus returned to her, so she kept the knife inside the wound. "I know you love me... you said it, so long ago..."
"He will kill you for me..." Xander mumbled, his smile never faltering. Of course, she didn't believe him. Why would her Angelus kill her just because a mortal boy said so?
"You are stupid, little boy" she said, her smile turning to a pout. "He is my angel. He would never kill me. Not even for his Slayer."
If she had been paying attention to Angelus, she might have had a chance. She could have dropped Xander and escape before Angelus rushed to kill her. She could have killed Xander and at least known that after Angelus killed her, he would have been broken.
But she was too focused on the boy, and the voices in her head were not sure of what to tell her to do.
Drusilla never saw how Angelus picked up one of Xander's stakes, oblivious to the burning pain on his skin. She never heard the other mortal's screams and yelling, or Spike's last warning. She was lost in the mocking grin that Xander was giving her. When the stake pushed in her skin, not touching her heart, but her stomach, she hissed with pain, only to be stopped by Angelus' strong arms. The vampire that had sired her was smiling despise the pain. "I am not _yours_ Dru."
"A...Angelus?" Drusilla stared at his sire, shock painted all over her face just as her flesh turned to smoke, the pain cursed through her body, reaching her heart.
"I am _his_, I will always be his." With that last parting, Angelus drove the stake to her heart, watching emotionless as she turned to dust, finally letting go of the piece of wood that had burned his hand almost to the bone.
The difference was that he was still alive, and Drusilla was no more. "Angelus?" Xander stepped towards him, taking the knife off from his chest, just making sure that his blood didn't touch the center of the circle. He was watching the vampire very closely, not sure if he wanted an answer.
* * *
"Oh, great!" Buffy snide remark was silenced by Angel's stern look, but that didn't stop the slayer from getting her crossbow ready. So far she didn't had any proof that Puppy was Angelus, except from Drusilla's last words, but if she noticed at least one minimum sign of the psychopath demon that had been her boyfriend, she was going to strike him so fast that he wouldn't' be able to apologize.
It would be a great therapy, after the months she had suffered because she had to send Angel to hell.
However, before she could do anything, Angel stood behind her, taking the crossbow away.
"No, Buffy... wait..."
* * *
"Angelus?" Xander asked again, stepping a little closer. Angelus looked at him with broken eyes. Now that Drusilla had revealed to everyone that he had lost his soul, his beloved master would never trust him again, never let him touch him again... Because he had played with his trust.
"Xander... get away from him! He will kill you!!" Willow shrieked, and Angelus hated her more than before. She should know that he would never hurt Xander. He would die first.
"He's hurt." Angelus blinked, not sure if he had heard Xander right. "He will need blood to heal." As he spoke, the mortal teenager touched the red spot on his shirt, before tearing it off, revealing his wounded chest.
"Xander, no... That's crazy!" Buffy's voice was very close to an order. But Angelus barely heard her... his full attention was focused in Xander's eyes. He couldn't believe that the offering was true.
"I trust him." Xander said, and his smile became tender, almost loving. "I trust you... Angelus."
Those words filled Angelus with happiness, in the same manner that the soft declaration of love had done weeks ago. Without taking his eyes away from the brown chocolate pools that had him mesmerized, Angelus got to his feet, and traced the red line of the wound with his tongue, tasting for the first time the life essence of his master.
The copper, sweet intoxicating taste that had been in his dreams for so long, that was all that he had dreamed and more. He licked the thick liquid to clean the wound that Drusilla had inflicted, knowing that his master wouldn't stop him if he tried to drink more.
Knowing that his master trusted him to stop, without the threat of a punishment.
He had given him the final proof of his love, even if he couldn't understand what had made this time different from the others. Hugging Xander, he kneeled to the floor, so his face was facing the mortal's groin, and he smiled. Angelus knew that now he could touch Xander and show him how much he loved him, all the things he would do for him. Closing his eyes, he began rubbing his head to his beloved's body reveling on the warm hardness under his cheek.