Spike in the City of Angels, Episode Two:
Welcome to Sunnyhell
"Good evening gentlemen." Sullivan's accent was straight from the old country, and obviously faked. A ruse to fool the locals which didn't fool either vampire, no one could live in America that long and still sound fresh from the peat bogs and whatever else they had in Ireland. "Can you spare me a moment of your time?"
The shotguns pointed across the street by two of the police Captain's bodyguards suggested this might be a good idea. Spike and Browne therefore crossed the street hands well away from their concealed weapons.
"Thank you lads, so nice of you to take the trouble." Sullivan's smile spoke of gratitude his eyes told a different story. He looked at the vampires as if they were vermin, vermin to be destroyed.
Dublin born, LA raised, Jesuit college trained, he had volunteered for the army at eighteen and was a veteran of two tours with the Air Cavalry, proud recipient of a Silver Star and two purple hearts as a result of that service he had come back from Vietnam and gone straight into LAPD. As he liked to put it "Straight from one war, to another."
That had been thirty years ago and since then he'd killed four men in the line of duty and risen as far as he thought he could go when he made lieutenant, he'd been ready for retirement when his world changed.
Then the Chief of Police had personally told him about vampires and offered him a captain's bars.
The reason for the assignment was simple, Sullivan was old school, the kind of cop who hates camcorders. It was his sheer unreconstructability that had got him his new job, kicked upstairs and given this special role, with a squad of similar minded individuals beneath him. Their task to infringe the civil liberties of the one minority group nobody gave a damn about. They enjoyed their work, and none of them would ever face prosecution for doing it, and doing it the old way.
"Ow Can we 'elp you officer?" Browne gave Sullivan his usual superior smirk. He never saw the lead sap that whistled through the night air and connected with the back of his head. He dropped like a stone. The cop who had wielded the weapon stashed it away as quickly as he had produced it and stepped clear.
"That's just to get your attention," Sullivan said good humoredly to Spike. "As I understand it, you're the brains and your man there is the annoying big mouthed bastard brawn who does the killing, but what he got was easy compared to what you get if you piss me off sonny."
"I understand mate." Spike regarded the fallen vamp without any great concern. He was rather glad the vetala was out of it. The bloke was always talking them into unnecessary fights. "What can we do for you?"
"Stop fucking making my life difficult. Leave town and don't come back." The cop took in the lack of fear on Spike's face and didn't care one bit. He could break the vampire, he had done it so many times before. "Or work for me instead of the demon, the girl, and the Kike."
"The demon isn't my boss, the girl is, and Mr. Gelfman is a good man tryin' his best to keep order." Spike was waiting for the or else but until it emerged he intended to take no shit. "I bet he's done more to keep the vampires of this city......"
Then Spike stopped speaking as Sullivan pulled a Colt .45 from a holster under his left arm.
"Your man there must think he's clever, dreaming up his nasty little trick with the garlic, but I started doing that twenty years ago." The cop pulled back the hammer and pointed the pistol into Spike's groin. "Just for the rep as a hard case you understand, it wasn't till much later that I found out what that kinda bullet will do to a vampires guts."
"Yeah, burn em out." Spike shrugged nonchalantly. "Look mate, I'm gettin' bored here, just tell me what you want and we can all go home?"
The growls that came from Sullivan's squad members wouldn't have disgraced a vampire, and for a second Spike thought he had gone too far, as the police Captain's finger whitened around the trigger, but then the man laughed, deep and hard. "Why boyo arn't you the brave one? I think we may be able to do business you and I, so here's what I want."
Sullivan eased the hammer back down as he spoke. "You don't hit any clan leaders without prior consultation, half the vamp leaders you've killed kicked back to me. You don't kill vamps who've broken the code. Jackson was gonna hand those guys over to me but you let them escape. Now I have to chase the ungodly heathen bastards down before I can record their dying screams as I lower them slowly into my garden pool."
He took out a packet of cigarettes, offered the vampire one. Spike shook his head so Sullivan lit up and continued. "You should have seen Father O'Leary's face when I asked him to bless it. Still if you won't go along with what I propose, it won't be wasted. The boys and I spent hours setting up the rope and pulley, and the meat hooks."
"Where was I? Oh yes, vamps who go over the line are mine." Sullivan blew smoke in Spike's face, the vampire didn't even flinch. "You'd be a bugger to interrogate by the way.....ten percent of all you take kicks back to me." Spike's eyes narrowed. "Now that got ya. I've been suffering financially. It's up to you to recompense me."
"And if we go along with what you say, will you leave us alone?" The blond knew his chance would come, but this wasn't it, but he was good at waiting. "We have a job to do after all."
"Of course, and I applaud the diligent way you do it." Sullivan extended his hand. "Shake on it son, and I'll even throw in a list of places you can hit."
The hand contact was brief. Sullivan knew that the vampire wasn't cowed, that didn't matter, he was more than able to keep track of the Briton. "Goodnight to you then, Spike. I'll be in touch."
"I'm curious about something." Spike said to Sullivan's back. "Do you expect these rules to apply to the Slayer?"
"The Slayer is a force of nature, like a hurricane, she blows through the vampires world, scatters them, culls the weak, but always behind her they reform." Sullivan got into his car and one of the officers moved to close it. "The girl has a sacred mission, Spike. I'm to good a catholic to stand in her way, but you, your demon scum, please note the difference, it's why you pay. Goodnight, I won't say god bless."
Laughing the cops unblocked the De Soto and drove away. Spike waited till they were out of sight and looked down. "You alright down there?"
"Course," Browne opened his eyes and looked up. "You don't think that little tap on the noggin did me any 'arm do ya? I bin 'it a damned sight 'arder than that in me day." He struggled upright. "Thought I'd best let you do the talkin' though, knifein' rankin' coppers can get you noticed. Do we pay the ponce?"
"Do we fuck!" Spike unlocked his car door. "I bet Sol will be really happy to hear about this, an I bet he knows a bigger fish than Captain bloody Sullivan."
Spike looked at the envelope again. He was alone now, sat on a mattress in his room in the vamps current hideout, one of so many that they had accumulated over the time they had been in LA. There was little furniture in this one and the mattress lay flat on the ground. Spike was sat with his legs stretched out in front of him, fully clothed, just staring at the envelope.
The handwriting was still the same, copperplate, he had always been amazed she had retained the ability to write so neatly, but then she had always amazed him in so many ways.
Why had Angel sent it on to him? Why hadn't he just burned it?
*Cause the Wanker wants me gone, and he hopes this will do it. I oughta burn the wretched thing meself, right here and now, soddin' bit........Oh fuck it.*
The hand that was about to pull the lighter from his pocket paused, and tore the envelope open instead. There was a single sheet of pink writing paper inside.
"My Dearest Spike
I hope this letter finds you in good health, I wish that you are happier than I.
The Chaos Demon an I had a big fight, we split up an' I am all alone an sad. I miss you my love, why did we fight so? Just because you helped the nasty Slayer try to kill our Daddy, who after all had treated you so badly, an me so nice, grrrrrrrhh."
*Still as insane as ever.* Spike thought shaking his head. *Who mentions their own bloody adultery in a letter like this?*
"I know now that what I did was naughty, that I should be punished for being horrible to you, please come back and do bad things to me, please Spikey, I promise I won't laugh like I did in Brazil.
Knowing our Daddy is back from hell where the Slayer sent him, and being good again I have sent this letter to our lovely old house, in the hope he will be able to send it to you.
I will be in San Francisco all December, please come join me there, I'll leave my address at the 'Castravalla' a vampire friendly 'Bistro' on 14th Street.
Please come, I have such nice games planned, we'll feed like a Princess and her Prince, and make love all day.
Your Ever Loving
Spike's hand tightened around the paper, and it crumpled into a ball. "Why now? Why fuckin' now? You bitch! I was free, but now you reach out an' you try to pull me back in, why?"
Then slowly he smoothed the paper out again, and started to read it afresh,
even as a single tear ran slowly down his face.
Buffy got home very late or very early, dependant on whether you're a night or a day person. As she crawled in through her window, she was glad to see no Mom reception committee. That was a major wiggins she could do without, she needed to sleep not be shouted at.
Hastily she stripped, and pulled on her night things, she had showered at Angel's......with Angel. She was aching nicely in some interesting places. The vampire might be jealous in a way that should make her cross with him but it was difficult to be angry with a guy who loved you that ardently and with such.....skill.
Make up removed, she slipped into bed, wishing that she could have stayed over at her lover's house. Tomorrow Spike would be there, and for several nights, which meant no smoochies with Angel unless her unsouled vamps were out. She didn't want Spike to have to listen to her screwing their Sire. She didn't want to have to know he could be listening either.
Vampiric hearing was a boon to Slayage but a curse at other times.
Snuggling up inside her bed, more from habit than from any need for warmth, Buffy thought about her two lovers, what a contrast.
One so dark and brooding, yet so attentive to her so loving in his regard for her, so guilty still over what he had done, and so possessive. She didn't want to be owned, but Angel seemed to want to own her.
Then there was the other vampire, he had no guilt, he did what he did because it was fun, and she liked that. Her demon loved the hunt, the kill, killing vampires had become a pleasure for it. It still lay in wait for any slip that might let its hunger for blood rule her, but for now it seemed to be contenting itself with the violent deaths of other demons.
And she couldn't help but conclude that it was the demoness who loved Spike, even though he was light in so many places that Angel was dark. His love for her was a consuming passion, and yet she knew the hurt over Dru still lingered in the remenants of his soul.
*So is Angel my soul mate and Spike my demon mate?" Buffy mused sleepily. *I'm so the split personality girl.*
With that she drifted off to sleep.
Thunder flashed in the night air, the booming noise mixed with that of the artillery shells exploding in the distance. Wind and rain tore through the trees as the troops advanced towards their hidden enemies.
Her hand tightened on the pistol grip of the M-16, Buffy's lips parted into a feral grin as she high stepped forward, Flesch at her side. Her eyes flicked between the ground and the trees ahead looking for mines, and the enemy.
She was beginning to enjoy herself.
"Rise and shine," Joyce shouted just as Buffy's alarm went off. "You came in real quiet last night, I didn't hear a thing."
"Yeah," Buffy said sleepily, but all the same refreshed, Slayer's recharge their batteries quickly, they have to. "I'm gettin' real good at creeping in through windows. Maybe I should consider housebreakage if my grades at college don't turn out good."
"I think as you're a vampiress I should be worried by that statement," Joyce drew back the curtains, as her daughter sat up in bed. She was pale, her skin could stand the sun but was too delicate for tanning. The bronzed girl she had been before her death was gone, Joyce still wished she could get her back.
But Wesley had still found nothing.
"Your grades are good anyway, keep this up and you'll graduate, you won't need to take up a life of crime." Joyce laughed as she added. "And won't that be a disappointment to the year book staff."
"That poll was so rigged." Buffy had been so pissed when she'd first read the yearbook Superlatives. Then remembered how much she'd wanted to be in it. "But still I got to dust Harmony and since she was behind it......" Buffy pouted at her Mom's stern expression. "What? I was just saying...."
"That was a girl you knew Buffy, I don't think you should talk about dusting her like that." But all the same Joyce couldn't stay angry. Harmony had been trying to kill her own parents at the time. "You get ready and I'll get breakfast, you doing what you usually do Thursdays?"
"Yep, free period, Faith visiting." Slipping her feet out of the bed Buffy stood up smoothing down the long tee she was wearing. "And for all the good it does I'll give her your love."
Sipping her blood through a straw, Buffy wondered on the strangeness of it all. Here she was game faced, drinking blood at her Mom's kitchen table, and her Mom wasn't even wigged anymore.
She should of course be at UC Sunnydale, rooming with Willow, but that would have meant keeping the glamour up all day, and eventually after a good deal of complaining on her part she had been forced to accept Giles assertion that that would be to much for her. So here she was still at home, while Willow and her friends spread their wings and left the nest.
"Why do my grades matter?" She suddenly asked. "I mean I'm either gonna work with Giles at the store or you at the gallery. I can't get any job that would take me from my duty or that would involve a medical. I'm stuck here......not that working with you wouldn't be swell, it would, honest, but you know travel....the sights.....as opposed to same old same old."
"Yeah honey I know." Joyce gently squeezed her hand. "And if you don't try hard and Wesley finds a cure you'll still be in Sunnydale, but working in the Peach Pit with Xander."
"Which he doesn't need to do anyway." Buffy muttered, business on the loot front was even better since they'd started selling the abandoned vamp vehicles off the Alibi's lot. Willy had known a guy, their individual cuts weren't great but it was enough for Xander to quit if he wanted to. "Cover story, huh, Mr Secret Identity."
"Isn't that what you'll need Buffy?" Joyce noted that Buffy didn't say a word in response to her question about a cure, she never did anymore. "Or are you just going to be a millionaire vampire's girlfriend?"
"Sounds good." Buffy didn't mean it though, reliance on Angel was a bad idea. Enough heavy thinking, she got up. "Gotta dash if I'm gonna have quality time with Faith and make classes, see you later Mom. Love you."
"Love you too, honey." Joyce let her daughter leave the room before adding. "Always, whatever you become, but please Wesley hurry."
The hospital had grown familiar, she had been here so often, though now there was a cupboard door just across from Faith's room. She couldn't look at without a feeling of regret at what See's had had to do. If she had been here with her reactions...the man might not have had to die.
Thank god they were in Sunnydale home of the unexplained death, and the lazy police department. See's wasn't a wanted fugitive, just a guy who wished he hadn't had to kill a man to save a girl's life. But nobody in the Scooby gang blamed him for it.
What the Watcher's Council made of Carmichael's disappearance was an unknown, Wesley wasn't trusted with much information these days. Buffy guessed the bosses figured they had a leak, and the source wouldn't be too difficult to guess. Doubtless they would try again, and next time she prayed she'd be here.
As she opened the door she heard singing as well as the sound of the monitors. "Hey Nurse May Belle how are you?" The Nurse was busy arranging a big vase of flowers, she looked around with a smile.
"Oh I'm just fine sugar, I's just rearranging these, the girls on the night shift don't no squat about how to arrange flowers properly so here I is." She carried on till satisfied. "There....isn't that nice. Faith is stable, but don't you be afraid to talk to her now, it does her good to here voices, she's lucky to have so many friends come visit her."
Buffy looked at the flowers again, and a fearful thought gripped her. "Did you say the flowers got delivered at night, do you know who by?"
"By a fine lookin' colored gentleman from what Cassie was sayin', wish I'd bin here to see him." With a smile May Belle headed towards the door. "I'll see you later in the week sugar, you take your time here."
Walking to the display Buffy picked up the card. "Oh shit no, not another one!"
'With Infernal gratitude.' T
All day the words swum round in Buffy's head, 'With infernal gratitude,T,' Trick, Trick had found the tear in the fabric of the space time compendium and gotten through.
Or had he?
It occurred to her around lunch time, she was sat with Willow eating the very light salad that constituted her human food intake, she had to be seen to eat something, people had started to talk. "I got a problem Will, mind if I borrow your brain?"
"Sure," Willow had watched her friend stare into space for the last ten minutes. "Shoot, we talking personal here or business? Personal my consultation fee is higher."
"Business." Buffy lost the thread for a second as she considered what her friend might mean, personal problem? "Ok, Faith had a bunch of flowers delivered with this card." She passed the carefully written piece of card over the table to Willow. "Kinda wiggy huh!?"
"KINDA!" Willow looked at everyone staring at her and felt the urge to 'Yikes.' She leaned forward and hissed. "Trick? Trick got through the hole in the space time continuum?"
"Continuum, that was what it was called, hah." Buffy, catching the resolve face, realized it was time to focus on the important stuff, not the pronunciation. "Yes and no, I mean, it would be the obvious explanation, but is it too obvious, there's stuff here that makes no sense."
"If it was Trick from another dimension, then why would he be grateful to Faith? He wouldn't have the least idea who Faith was, let alone have a reason to thank her." Willow turned the card over and over as she spoke. "In fact if someone told him, wouldn't he be rather more likely to drain her than want to take her flowers?"
"Unless the other dimension sucked for him, pardon the pun, and he looked upon this one as pastures new. Let's not forget he was Kakis..toes, Kakiskisses whatever, the Greek guy's servant. If he slipped through, hey, he's home free here, no boss." Buffy took on a worried look. "But then if Kakistos comes looking for him?"
"More big scary bad guys." Willow was running through a mental list of who might suddenly come back, if it was a rip. "You know we still got that whole revocation ritual thing. This could be more evidence of that."
"The Three, Trick, ok if the guy doing it likes names that begin with T." Buffy concentrated hard, then went on. "Somebody knows who Faith is, has a reason for gratitude takes flowers. Somebody knows who Faith is, knows I visit, wants to wig me out, leaves a message I'll freak over. Somebody wants to meet me there tonight, this message was left to ensure I'd go." Buffy sat back proud of herself. "I like when I borrow your brain. It's so productive."
"Thanks." Willow was frowning in a way guaranteed to dissolve a friends happy. "Wouldn't it have been easier for them to leave a message saying meet me here tonight? Does the word trap not spring to mind? I mention that cause you know what happens usually?"
"I know," Buffy said in a small voice. "I get drawn off on some wild goose chase and you guys get captured or hurt or both, which is why you're gonna get everyone together at the mansion, barricade yourselves in with weapons, and kill any vamp who isn't on our side who comes calling."
"While you go walk into the trap.......alone." Willow had the resolve face again. "I'm going with you......ok I'm at the mansion."
"Good," the Slayer smiled, the look receded. "Walking into traps is what Slayers do. Its our job, not yours."
"So tell me," Buffy asked lowering her voice, and rapidly changing subject. "Did you manage that free time at Oz's last night after the meeting? Cause Angel reacted so very, very nicely to Spike coming back....."
Willow blushed. "Yeah, his parents were out actually so.....yeah."
"Let's go somewhere quieter, I wanna hear all about it........"
As soon as college finished, Buffy went home, fed, and went back to the hospital. All her friends had been paged and responded, they were at the Mansion, the vampire backup had got on the road at sunset. Things were looking up nicely. Three vamps were going to die.
But not yet.
She stalked the corridors tonight, three stakes in her jacket pockets, and brass knuckles in case flower guy was human. She hoped he wasn't.
She felt the tingling sensation ten feet from the door and strode straight into the room .
He was black, he was fine looking,*Denzel meets Wesley!*, he was wearing a stylish grey suit, he wasn't Trick.
But he was a vampire, and a powerful one. The force rippled out from him, he had a century of like behind him at least.
He smiled, showing a set of perfect white teeth, his hair was cut real close, a goatee seemed to suit him perfectly. His eyes were hooded, though, his gaze intense, as he took in the combination of black leather jacket, black tee and red leather pants with boots. Then he spoke with a slight southern drawl, his voice deep and strong with no trace of fear.
"Well hullo sweetness, I'm so pleased to meet you at last," the vampire bowed faintly as he added. "I pay homage to you my Queen!"
"Huh!" Buffy had her hand already going for a stake. "What was that......"
"Why Missy, when I heard about the unfortunate demise of my Sire, I was of course obliged to come lookin' for the Slayer that killed him." He glanced at the unharmed but still comatose Faith. "But hell I never liked the guy, and this little lady did me two favours, not only dustin' him, but putting me in a position to hear about you."
"Your Trick's Childe." Buffy did start to draw the stake now. "Don't tell me, you're here for revenge. Sorry Mr..... Hey are you Mr Treat?" She saw the vampire's superior smile disappear. "You are arn't you? That must be so embarrassing."
"Hell girl, you ain't exactly been smiled upon in the namin' matter either, but you see why I didn't like my Sire, his idea of a joke." Treat didn't seem in the least perturbed by the stake that was slowly emerging. "Revenge, hell no, loyalty and service. I'm here to add a little colour to your team. I hear your recruitin' girl, I wanna join."
"HUH!?" Buffy's jaw dropped.
"Oh come on girl, don't tell me you got colour prejudice?" Treat was enjoying himself, with a subtle lick of his lips he added. "I'd love a sweet lookin' girl like you for a boss. If you like, we can get to the my showing my subservience part right now. I got something to kneel on, so just back up against the door and drop your pants and I'll just........"
"You.....cannot......be.....serious?" Buffy didn't back up. She pulled the stake clear, and morphed. "This is a very unfunny joke vampire! You may die laughing!"
"Where's the joke, honey?" The gun Treat suddenly drew was small, no more
than a .22, but it was pointed straight at Buffy's right knee. "You see there's
the nice, mind-blowing, orgasmic way.......or the hard way. Choice is yours."
Treat smiled as his fangs appeared and ridgelines marred his face. "Best make it
The gun was held rock steady, but then so was Buffy's stake.
"So, you shoot me, so what? I have super healing so a couple of weeks and hey I'm back." Buffy smiled, her fangs gleamed, and brought the stake up for a one handed throw. "But you stay gone."
"True, sugar." Treat was the height of cool. "And you got a bullet in you, a gun but no assailant, but that pales compared to your other problem. Hey! Your bleedin' in a hospital, so they hook you up to machinery and find guess what?" His smile broadened, two could play the fang game. "You're dead."
"An annoyance, granted." Buffy didn't need a complete change of identity at this time in her life, or having to knock out witnesses to escape her old one. "But not as permanent as stakeage. I take it from this approach of yours that you don't get many dates, drop your pants or get shot, nice line but no!"
"Don't worry for me, girl, I get plenty, and minions are so uninhibited. You should try making some." At the look of disgust and anger that crossed the Slayer's face, Treat decided he'd taken things far enough. "Ok, forget the act of submission. Shit girl, you're acting like I asked you to go down on me not the other way around, but hell if you don't wanna get off, what do you want?"
"Your answer to a question, why?" Buffy held the stake firmly, ready for an opening. "Why do you wanna join me?"
"Immortality, it's something a brother can get used to, and they way you and yours are killin' vamps, seems like I'm on the wrong side for stayin' undead an' kickin'. So...." Treat shrugged. "I figure, hell with her being so cute and all, go volunteer."
"Problem I have a honey, I have a soul," Buffy noted the look of what? *Disappointment?*, that crossed the vampire's face. "Though if I didn't, that gun would have ruined your chances Mr. Girls don't dig on that kinda thing, flowers yes, candy yes, firearm no!"
"Ok," Treat looked at the stake. "My libido overcame my brain, lose the stake, I lose the gun and we talk turkey."
Slowly both vampires let their guard down, but they stayed just as far apart, weapons within easy reach.
"To join, you have to slay." Buffy tried to read her potential recruit's face, and decided never to play poker with him, particulary the strip variety. "Give up feeding on humans, stop being an asshole, got any problem so far?"
"I've farmed before, you're prettier than my last overseer, I ain't never bein an asshole and I've dusted, I'll dust again, but I take it you mean large scale?" Treat read the curious look on the Slayer's face. *Almost there, come on honey here's the hook.*
"Yeah, one vamp won't convince me, got anything in mind?" A mask, not a trace of emotion in sight.
"I keep my ear to the ground, guy who used to run Compton's vamps met with an accident. Now the brothers are fighting over who takes his place." Treat's smile returned. "Guess who I'd like to nominate for that gig?"
"You." Buffy knew enough about LA's vamps to know that was a very risky proposition. They used guns, automatic ones. "And so?"
"The survivors of that process will be lead into your arms, we slay, I stay." Treat spread his hands out all friendly. "We got us a deal girl?"
"Yeah, why not? Not like I trust you an inch, but you may prove me wrong. Two vamps already have." Her vampire face disappeared to be replaced by a half smile. "Just forget about the submission thing ok?"
*Gotcha!* Treat gloated inwardly, but on the outside was all friendship, as he extended a hand for the briefest of shakes. "You won't regret this sweetness. I promise."
"For your sake, I hope not. Now leave me to sit with my friend." Buffy nodded towards the door. "Ring me at the Mansion when you get the job done. It's in the book under O'Rourke."
But Treat didn't leave, he looked down at Faith and whispered. "If you turned her, she'd be up an' walkin' within a day, unless that is you don't want her cured...?"
He impacted with the wall hard, and the sharp wooden pointed object that jammed into his chest made protest at the treatment the last thing on his mind. "Never suggest that to me again, never come to this room again, and don't fucking piss me off again. Do any of those things and I'll kill you, are we clear?"
"Yeah....I guess so......I'm sorry." Sometimes hazel can be even more frightening than yellow, Treat decided that he needed to remember that. It was a relieved vampire who fled the room, but for all that, a happy one -- he was in, one way or another.
"You know something Faith? He's probably right." Buffy took her fellow Slayers still hand in her own as she sat beside her. "And it isn't as if I haven't thought about it, too."
"But then I remember what you were like with a soul, and I realize that wouldn't be such a good idea." She regretted having to say it, but it was true. "Add a demon to that mix, Faith, and you'd probably just try and destroy the world and I'd have to kill you again, and I don't want to have to do that....thinking I'd done it once was enough."
*But then,* she thought, as silent tears started to flow. *Maybe I did kill you. Perhaps you simply haven't got around to dying yet.*
"Do you suppose maybe this time it isn't a trap?"
Willow was sat on a table in the mansion's living room, swinging her red sneaker-clad feet, as she looked around at the decor, which was positively medieval since Buffy had insisted on hanging a dozen huge hand-and-a-half swords on her wall. As a reminder, and also in case any more zombies came calling. Nice to have a means of decapitation within easy reach.
"Oh come on, Will." Willow might have her crossbow on the ground, but Xander didn't. His was shouldered with his finger on the trigger guard. "Whenever Buffy goes off on her own, we get hit, like that time I got my arm broke and you nearly died? They're coming. They're just not coming fast."
"Maybe, it has happened a lot." Willow gave an un-Willow-like, evil grin. "Like that time you don't remember when you got turned into a hyena and they left me alone with you in the library."
"Yeah, exactly like that time." Xander kept a perfectly straight deadpan face. No way was he walking into that trap again. "Which I don't remember."
"Xander is, for once, undoubtedly right." Giles stood in the hallway, keeping watch down the drive. "On a case-by-case basis, I have to conclude this is a diversion intended to allow us all to be kidnapped while Buffy's back is turned. We must not drop our guard."
"Or maybe it's not, and we should." Karen added from the sofa, where she was sat by Anya, Angel and Oz, trying to watch TV. Their three unloaded crossbows and Oz's longbow were on the floor in front of them. "Call it third time lucky, or should that be fifth?"
"Sixth," Oz contributed. "If we count when Giles got whacked by the Gorches."
"Maybe the library was cursed." Angel had a lot of musing time tonight, and he was bored, the girls had won control of the remote. "It was built on the mouth of Hell, can't have been all that lucky."
Giles lowered his crossbow a look of perplexity on his face. "You know, that had never even occurred to me. Of course, it would be accursed ground, and to think of all the things that happened there."
"Aha!" Willow exclaimed, jumping up and narrowly avoiding setting off her crossbow, thus triggering a series of unlikely richochets that would have plunged the bolt into Angel's heart. (Had they been in the library.) "I knew that place had a jinx."
"Hell, now that you mention it....it can't be anything else. We haven't had anywhere near the hardship since it got burned down, nothing as bad's ever happened here." It suddenly occurred to Xander that everyone was looking at him, and why. "I did it again, didn't I?"
"Yeah but it wasn't like you did it deliberately...." Anya began, quick to rally to her boyfriend's defense.
"Xander Harris if you've spread the jinx......I'll..." Willow's impending threat of rathood got interrupted by a shout from the hall.
"Car, coming up the drive!"
"Oh shit." Xander looked up at the ceiling. "God, why did you curse me with such a big unthinking mouth?"
"I think it's alright," a smiling Giles stuck his head round the door to interrupt three people frantically loading, Oz bracing his weapon to fit the string, and Willow, well Willow seemed to be getting ready to slug Xander. "It's a black De Soto."
"Oh!" Willow relaxed, and stepped away from the potential slugee. "That's okay then." The room relaxed, except for one of its occupants, who fitted a bolt in his crossbow. "Angel, didn't you hear what Giles said? It's just Spike."
"I heard." Angel growled. "You guys wait in here, I'll handle this." And with that he brushed past Giles and headed for the door.
Spike and Browne were already unpacking the trunk when Angel stormed out of the building crossbow in hand. Browne saw him first.
"Looks like precious 'as 'is knickers in a twist as usual.," Browne reached for his pistol. "An no sign of 'er Ladyship, either."
"Leave it, mate." Spike's voice was deadly. Browne shot him a startled glance and then picked up his and Spike's bags and headed for the house. There was gonna be blood up the walls if the Slayer didn't show soon.
Calmly Spike picked up his sub-machine gun, it was locked and loaded, the letter burned a hole in his pocket, he had a question for his Sire to answer.
"Spike, come out were I can see you." Angel's voice was filled with the authority of Sire to Childe.
As he stepped out from behind, the car gun leveled, Spike realized he didn't give a damn. The crossbow pointed straight at him didn't phase him either.
A harsh growl rose in Angel's throat even as the vampire morphed.
Spike felt the tug, the grip on his loyalty, and ignored it. "Yeah mate, like that's really gonna work, why did you send me the fuckin' letter?"
"Cause you fucked Buffy." Angel snarled through his fangs. "Why the fuck are you still here? Isn't Dru who you always loved?"
"Till you took her from me." Spike almost felt his heart beat with the tension, and the pain, you don't point a weapon at your Sire, but he had to. "And unfortunately, Angelus, you miscalculated. It's well over a month till Dru gets to where I'm to meet her. Leaves me plenty of time to decide."
The gun came up, aimed at Angel' heart, the garlic-laced bullets would burn it out. "Why? I thought you got all snively over the people your Childer kill. Don't tell me you've stopped being a pathetic wanker this late in yer un-life."
"Because I don't believe that 'screwed her to save the world' crap for a second." Angel spat, unable to comprehend a Childe of his defying him so. "You were just waiting for an opportunity to get even with me for what happened with Dru. I'd rather you and her were off killing than have to look at you again, ever."
"So pull the trigger." Spike smiled as he spoke, maybe his unlife had lasted long enough. "Let's do it."
Angel had a hell of a lot more to lose, like Buffy, so he didn't shoot, and a loud coughing from behind him came as an intense relief.
"Gentlemen please." Giles was nervous to say the least, it wasn't like anyone would shoot him deliberately, would they? "The Three, tear in the space time continuum, potential invasion by hordes of vampires from another plane. Hardly the time or place for you two chaps to kill each other is it?" Then he threw in the question he knew would do it. "What on earth would Buffy say?"
Gun and crossbow came down, neither vampire looked shame-faced, but as Angel morphed he stepped off the path, letting Spike walk into the house.
As Angel went to follow Giles stepped into his way, there was an edge in his voice, a Ripper edge. "What letter Angel? What have you been doing?"
"Well, you see Giles....."
People were looking at him fearfully. Not like they didn't usually seem wary, the Slayerettes might have slain with him but he was still an unsouled vampire. Currently with a gun.
Browne held out a reassuring hand. "There, there mate, it's all over now."
Browne understood, Spike realized. Browne had killed his Sire, putting him beyond the pale, as far as vampires were concerned, if of course they knew. (Cultural differences, intense paternal abuse and a bloody awful curry, Browne still suffered from indigestion as a result.) So Spike handed him the gun, to an intense sigh of collective relief.
"Come on son, let's go get you a drink." His arm around the suddenly shaking vampire's shoulders, Browne lead his friend off towards the kitchen.
"Hidden depths!" Willow exclaimed, her conversations with the vetala had been brief, and innuendo ridden. "Well I guess the bad luck wasn't all in the library, maybe one of us is the jinx...oh, now that was a pretty dumb thing to say...and why are you guys all looking at me like that?"