Spike in the City of Angels, Episode One: A Soul


by John Cope







Part Four

Buffy was curled up on the chaise-lounge that at her insistence had been installed under the tree in the garden of the Mansion. It being a Friday the day before she had stayed over, her Mom had after all agreed to her living with Angel at weekends. Now an hour before sunrise on Saturday she was reading the previous days LA Times, she hadn't had time to read it the night before, early sunset's equal early slayage and subsequent to that she had been 'tending' to Angel. She had a smile of satisfaction on her face and ached in some very interesting places.

She lay there in just a black silk shirt, Angel's, it might be getting colder but she didn't feel it, she was sleepy but still she didn't feel like joining her beloved in bed, she wanted to see if there where any Spike/Browne stories in the paper.

Of course they wouldn't be named, vampires weren't mentioned, but if a journalistic shrug could be detected in some story of an act of random violence then Buffy would know what to interrogate Spike over the next time he called.

Mortal fatalities had dropped, the high casualties suffered by Bakull's men followed by a violent vampire turf war had already discouraged recruitment. Then the boys had gone back to town.

Working for vampires was supposed to be a life prolonging and enriching career, in the first two weeks Spike and Browne had spent in the city they had, 'Done over,' three of the most powerful clans, casualties had been heavy, mortals died so much easier than vampires.

So when Buffy had spent her week there, visiting with Hank, slaying with Browne and screwing Spike to the floor, it had been mostly scared leaderless vampires she had to fight, she still hadn't killed a human, a fact of which she was glad.

Today there wasn't much, a gang war in Compton raised an eyebrow, it had raged since a leading light in the crack cocaine trade was found with his throat cut. Spike had already denied any knowledge, the vetala hadn't been available for comment. Buffy had her suspicions, Browne would be due a grilling next time she saw him.

She remembered the carpeing with Spike, and a smile crossed her face. Sometimes she felt guilty, the real Buffy anyway, her demoness just laughed. She was trying to break the Slayer down gradually, scarcely a trip to the mall occurred without suggestion, put that in your pocket, don't pay. Though she had shop lifted as a kid wanting parental attention Buffy wasn't about to start again now, her demoness spent a lot of time pouting, of that Buffy was sure.

But if Angel ever found out......Buffy tried hard not to think about that awful eventuality.

She tucked her bare feet a little higher underneath her, out of comfort more than anything else, no gooseflesh showed, it could be twenty below and still make no difference to a vampiress.

"Come to bed Buffy," Angel was standing in the living room door. "What are you doing out here? Other than catching up on what those murdering bastard boys of yours are doing."

"Their not murderers!" Buffy folded the paper quickly, a pout crossed her face, but not a big one, Angel was wearing just boxers and thigh strapping, he looked edible. "Their just misunderstood kids, they're cutting the vamp population down to size quite nicely I'll have you know."

Eyeing him up and down Buffy growled seductively and added. "Would want it that I'd have to commute? Go slay there and leave you here alone. Miss out on all my good loving?"

"They're evil, Buffy." Angel had to listen to the Slayer babble away all week about what a fun time she and 'The boys' had in LA. He was jealous she hadn't let him tag along. "They don't have souls like us!"

Sighing Buffy got up and stretched, the shirt rose up almost to the tops of her thighs and tightened over her breasts. "They do what I tell them, I'm their Queen, as my Prince Consort couldn't you stop with the broodyness and just support me?"

"What!" Angel couldn't believe it and spluttered. "Buffy I don't get you at......."

Then he stopped and watched as Buffy undid the top three buttons of the shirt, the shirt opened a little revealing the sides of her breasts and the valley between.

"Here I stand, wearing nothing but this, supposedly a sexy look where guys are concerned, my underwear's in the bedroom wherever it was you threw it last night. A night in which if you recall I let you put it were you liked to make up for that nasty vampire hurting you, but instead of being nice to me now you're still Mr Broody. Do you think that's fair Mister? Because I don't!"

"Look I just said that....." Another button came open, then she patted the material of the chaise-lounge.

"I'm gonna have to give you another treatment," Buffy pointed to where she expected Angel to put his butt. "You're going to become a happy vampire, face up to it, take it like a man, if you don't I'll just keep this up till one day you combust in my arms." As he walked past her she ran her cold palms up his smooth torso. "And that wouldn't be nice now would it."

"There could be worse ways to go." The half smile was there again, Angel placed a hand to the back of her neck and bending a little kissed her lightly on the mouth, then sat as per the royal command.

Buffy undid the remaining buttons and positioned herself on the vampires lap, facing him. She could feel his erection pressing up into her groin, she was damp already, this only made things better.

Vampires, Buffy could see why mortal girls were so hot for them once they got in on the secret, if some vampire was after sex that was, not just playing with their food. Spike had taken her to a club which seemed surprisingly full of girls wearing scarves, plus a few boys with hickeys all with rather pale companions. Why? Because vampires could go on for hours, which in her own vampiric state was bliss.

His hands found her breasts making her gasp, leaning forward she brought her lips to his and her tongue began to dance in his mouth whilst her eager fingers freed him from the boxers silk material. Seconds later he was plunged back into silken folds of a different, slicker, colder kind. Hers.

"Now whose a happy vampire?" Buffy whispered as her inner muscles tightened around him.

"M.....Me!"

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Giles was sat towards the back of his new store, Anya was manning the sales desk with what looked like practiced ease despite this being only the stores second day in business and her first weekend day on the job.

Willow would be in later, Giles had agreed she could have half her first day off, he was suddenly sensitive to the needs of young love, and the reason was sat beside him.

Karen Kochanski was a vision in his eyes, she was close enough for him to smell her perfume, close enough for him not to concentrate on the figures for yesterday, his first days sales.

Karen's short hair was swept back into a brief pony tail, she had her teacher lady spectacles on, he knew the glass was plain but they had their desired effect, he wanted to buy her an apple.

She was wearing tan combats a white tee and a thin jacket, sneakers on her feet completed the outfit. She looked more like a College student than California's youngest High School Principal. What left Giles even more speechless was the fact that she gave every indication of being in love, with him.

"Ok, well on the whole not bad." Karen put her calculator to one side. "A big Bronx cheer for Willow, the computer books and software sold, that's why your firmly in the black. Books! The problems there, two much history, not enough novels, sorry Giles but three shelve's just arn't enough......" She realized that whilst Giles was certainly looking at her, and smiling in a way that made her want to grab him, he wasn't actually listening. "Rupert......why don't you and I go into the back room and make out!"

"What?....eh......did you...are..." Giles attention snapped back to her, a mischievous smile from full lips and beautiful brown eyes framed by designer glasses, high cheek bones, he almost lost track again. "You think the figures are good? Lithe......errr I mean profitable."

*Lithe!* Suddenly Karen was giving serious consideration to making out, ok it wasn't anything she didn't know from looking in a mirror, but still reassurance! "Yes, you did very well but the serious stuff is too much, you need more trashy paperback stuff, and you need it soon."

"Oh," Giles had been trying to recreate the library, everyone else had been trying to make sure he didn't. Actually he was amazed at how quickly things had taken off, but the fact was that the vampire supplied windfalls had provided enough cash to not only secure a property but get it set up in such a short time that he almost felt a kind of 'Jet lag?,' a rear guard action was called for. "Some history sold."

"Yeah!" Karen glanced down the sales list. "The Civil War's still a popular subject but Rupert....Latin? Physics, Sumarian! No, those arn't gonna sell well in a town like this."

She held up a number of order forms filled in Giles' neat handwritting. "Novel, novel, novel, why did you write 'Complete rubbish', on this one, oh...'Interview with a.....' right I see."

Putting the forms back down she patted his hand gently. "Rupert this isn't the library, which I know for a fact you tried to keep people out of, with good reason, this place you want kids in. How many people came in looking for a light read, looked round and walked back out?"

Feeling a little put upon Giles could none the less only agree, a lot of people had wandered round looking lost unable to believe the hardback area was so large and the paperback so small. And though the business in the dread machine area of the store had been brisk, all Willow's friends within traveling distance had attended, the book trade had been disappointingly slow.

"Alright Karen, I agree, will you please help me draw up a list of titles." He had to smile then because Karen produced several sheets of paper from her pocket, one in her handwritting, then one in Buffy's and one's in, Willow's, Xander's and Oz's. He leaned in closer to her. "Conspiring against me eh? I wonder if therefore you might kiss me too."

"That I can do, and all by myself." Their lips met lightly at first, just brushing against each other and then withdrawing, but it deepened until their tongues were dancing together the rest of the world forgotten, until someone "Ah hummed."

Startled two people looked round sharply, and adjusted their glasses, Buffy was standing looking round the corner of a nearby book shelf, blushing very faintly. "Sorry, I shouldn't have done that, but seriously I think you guys should get a room."

Seats eased apart, and people. "Ah, hullo Buffy.....didn't see you there." Giles blushed a lot more brightly than his ward. "How was your er.....evening?"

"Hi!" Karen was suddenly very glad Buffy had graduated, she wouldn't have to face her in school. "Congratulations on the slaying, Giles says it went real well, and as usual he paid for dinner with really dusty money."

"Thanks, Giles slew too, so no comment on the money." Buffy didn't consider Giles to be cheap, after all he had slain the vampires carrying it. "And my evening may almost have been as good as yours by the way you were kissing."

Blushes deepened, glasses got adjusted again, Buffy realized her demoness was loose and asking personal questions and would have got real embarrassed if the phone hadn't rung and saved her.

Anya picked it up, and shouted back to them. "Mr Giles, it's for you, it's Spike."

"I'll take it upstairs, in the......other room." Noticing the excited look that as always crossed Buffy's face at the mention of her former mortal enemy, Giles could only wonder what had happened in LA. "Buffy, Karen would you like to join me?"

"I'll stay here and help Anya." It hadn't taken long for Karen to get the full story of the Ascension, there were witnesses still on the faculty, then she had found Snyder's files, and already liking the librarian a lot she'd had an interesting conversation with him as they shredded them. "There's stuff I don't need to know, unless you want to tell me later."

Rupert Giles had discovered he was ticklish very late in life, Karen would crack him in minutes, but torture could be fun. Buffy was now virtually bouncing with pent up energy, slightly exasperated that he wouldn't have a chance to define 'Making out,' he said. "Come on then, but I'm talking to him first."

Downstairs was the store, upstairs was the library.

Part Five



Buffy stood on the second floor of the store, the library, here was the true heart of the new Slayer central, were the books and the weapons lived. But that didn't matter now, she was going to talk to Spike. Unfortunately though wanting to jump up and down with excitement, or grab the phone from her Watcher's hand, currently she could only listen to one side of the conversation.

Spike was babbling away nine to the dozen, Giles could only get in small sentences, but they didn't sound good.

"That much blood?...........it is a lot........Human flesh!?!........yes, I agree...........I would have to........HEARTS!"

"They were stored separately?.......HOW MUCH!........no, I think our funding's been more than.....well alright, but just small ones...........I don't know, charity springs to mind........Yes, that's when you give money away....I'd have to research..........Can't you think of any............getting Angel one of those wouldn't qualify........no not even if you wrap it"

Giles adjusted his glasses and listened to Spike ramble on before speaking again. "The blood is for vampires that much is obvious.........yes I know you know that...........Zombies, they eat the flesh of the dead, there are other possibilities but that is the most likely............The hearts, I agree it could be the Zombies too but it seems to specific........................All right it is bloody creepy but I think a demon would be more likely than what you've just suggested............No some can eat hearts from the dead, they don't have to be fresh, there are demons out there who will eat just about anything."

"Find you one that will eat what............how could they smell, surely he doesn't sweat?.........he cleans what with them?"

Giles held the phone away from his ear as a violent altercation broke out at the other end of the line, then the conversation resumed. "Vampires you know, zombies, try beheading........burning might work but it will need to be an intense fire..........The demon, well it will depend what type it is." Giles saw Buffy signaling to him and said. "Hold on a second Spike, Buffy you want to contribute something?"

Buffy wanted to speak to Spike, but could wait. "Tell him to try violence."

Giles had been about to suggest intensive research to find a solution, Buffy had of course hit the nail straight on the head in a sentence. "Buffy says try violence.............yes, she does doesn't she, but it works........that sounds violent enough but perhaps substantial property damage isn't a good idea.............half the charge, well perhaps a third of that, but it's bound to hear you coming and turn round before you can stick it up its.....hullo, oh you're still there.........look Buffy looks ready to burst, you speak to her whilst I go and look for a demon who has a following of zombies."

Leaping for the phone, Buffy nearly tore it from Giles hand, he couldn't help the look of concern that crossed his face. Spike might have saved her from kidnappers, but he didn't think that justified the beaming smile as she greeted the vampire. Shrugging he turned and headed off into his new stacks, he just wished Willow was here he still wasn't entirely sure where everything lived.

"I really miss you Spike, or my demoness does, which is the same thing almost." Buffy was in a far corner, hopefully out of Giles earshot.

"Just your demoness? Don't you miss me kitten, not even a little bit?"

She was breaking his heart, she knew it from the hurt he couldn't hide in his voice. "You know I love you, if it weren't for Angel then," he tried to break in but she wouldn't let him. "But it would kill him, and I still love him too, I know it's not fair to you but I don't know what else there is to do."

Trying very hard to control the urge to call Angel all the very nasty names he knew Spike answered slowly. "You know I'll always be here for you luv, I know you can't just leave the wank....him, but please stop with the demoness stuff."

"It's a bad excuse I know, I'm sorry." But Buffy knew it was the only one she had, she changed the subject. "So how are you and my soldier boy doing? Seen much action?"

"Bags of it, war mad sod's always looking for vampires to kill," shouting in the background was answered by. "Yes you, you and that bloody knife of yours......is that any way to talk when I'm on the phone to Buffy....."

A commanding voice interrupted him. "Are you boys fighting?"

"Who, us?" Spike suddenly sounded all innocent, "No we're getting on perfectly well........I was just tellin' the Slayer how well we're gettin' on."

A shout from the background was plainly audible. "Like a fuckin' house on fire Buffy bahadur!"

"You better be!"

"Count on it pet, anyway I luv you, I hope 'll see you soon." Spike wanted to hit a sniggering vampire who was pretending to vomit in a corner.

"When I can get away again, I'll be with you." Buffy looked around, no sign of Giles. "I love you, if you have too much trouble with the zombies just call, we'll haul."

"Knowing your luck pet they're probably heading for Sunnydale anyway. I'll follow if they are. Goodbye pet, I'll talk to you next week. I'll not stop thinking about you till then."

With a heavy heart Buffy ended the call, it was getting harder each time. Last night she had thrown herself heart and soul into loving Angel, tonight? Tonight she would again, but she would wish he were Spike.



Part Six



Wandering into the stacks, Buffy searched around for Giles, if anything the area was worse organized that the library, the corridors where narrower and Giles had been on a buying spree with vampire supplied money, unfortunately the resultant new books where in piles, knee high piles.

She found him by the small reading table at the back, his nose buried in a volume on the Lords of Hell, complete, Buffy thought smiling to herself, with an entirely redundant chapter on Balthazar. "You think it's someone that big?"

"Errrm!" Giles looked up, his mind still elsewhere for a few seconds. "No probably not, but I was just checking through their major servants, commanding Zombies and vampires would take some strength, A demon Lord might have such creatures under the command of a lieutenant. They might be an advanced party, sent to make an opening here and let it out"

Lifting a pile of books from a seat, Buffy sat down, her right ankle came up to rest just above her left knee., her left hand on her ankle she put her chin on her right hand, and watched her Watcher.

Giles read on, there where indeed demons who would eat virtually anything, though not to Spike's no doubt intense future disappointment a vampires smelly socks. The smile that crossed his face at this point caused Buffy to interrupt the silence. "You find a good demon joke?"

"No, you've met Whistler haven't you, so you should know demons don't know any good jokes," Giles looked round, he had forgotten that Buffy was there, and that Karen was waiting for him downstairs. "I can do this another time, if you want to talk something over with me?"

"Well," Buffy wanted to talk over Angel versus Spike, but couldn't. Giles might go all wiggy round Angel if he knew. "I was wondering how Wes got on, am I a vampire forever do you think? I would like to know if there is a chance of a cure."

"You realize that it would change a great deal." Giles blushed. "The...the Angel situation....you know he was going to leave before.....it happened."

"And if I get my mortality back." Buffy left the rest unspoken. *It's ok, I know I have my soul permanently but Buffy you need a normal life, with a normal guy, so I'm leaving town.*

Looking at her Giles could only wonder, what was going through her mind. "Would you want it Buffy, surely the immortality, the added strength....." He paused as her expression hardened.

"The constant casting of a glamour, the worry over touching, the looks I get from my friends when I go game, the not being able to have children." Buffy looked for an instant like she might cry. "Why would I want to give that up Giles, tell me!"

Taking his spectacles off Giles began to absent mindedly clean them with his handkerchief. "Wesley went to Madrid to check through the records of the Watchers Council there. Before the end of the nineteenth century Spain ran its own anti-vampire activities, refusing to allow English Watchers access.

"Wesley was looking for a journal, you see he knows there is another turned Slayer, a special girl, one who is mentioned again a year after her turning as still killing vampires." Giles grimaced as he realized his handkerchief wasn't clean. "Now his problem is this goes back to 987, and the records are very thin. So in those circumstances what you do is look for a later source that might have had access to evidence now lost."

"And Wes may have found one." Buffy though about her useless former Watcher in a whole new light. "Gee at this rate I might have to start sending him Christmas cards." Then she took in Giles expression. "Or not."

"Wesley, after heavy research found a likely candidate, Don Diego Luis de Argotta." Giles sighed as the expected bemusement confronted him. "A Spanish nobleman."

"And what did Donald do?"

"Don Diego!" Giles found a cleaner cloth and went at his glasses again. "He was a Watcher from 1584 to 1589, he fought alongside one of the most successful Slayers in history before you came along, the Lady Rowena Darrell, the Vampyr's Bane."

"Catchie," Buffy had been struggling to fit her vampiric status into Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it hadn't worked. "And Donald was research guy? Aside from the fighting. Hold on he fought, don't tell me he was a studlie?"

"He was thirty four when he became a Watcher," Giles might have been offended, but wasn't, he suspected Karen considered him a 'Studlie,' Buffy's look of interest dropped away. "He had been a soldier, but also a scholar, times were hard, religious war had torn the old order apart, the undead where rising in number by the year. So when a new chosen one appeared in England a deal was struck, free run in both Protestant and Catholic Europe for the Slayer, but only as part of a joint team."

"When the Inquisition gave Don Diego the post he accepted only on the grounds of full access to the council records." Giles held up a number of small books. "The notes he made are still used as references now, but volumes were lost, some where never printed and distributed to Watchers. One in particular has vanished without trace."

"Covering 987," Buffy didn't need Giles nod, it figured.

"And Wesley found no copy of it, but clues." Giles didn't want to instill false hopes in the girl. "Wesley thinks there may be something in the Vatican's records, they were running the whole show and it's in Italy where their story ended."

"They died?" Buffy had kinda known it wouldn't end well, for Slayer's it never did. "Dona......" She got the look. "Don Diego and Rowena."

"They were overwhelmed by force of numbers on a mountainside above Milan, they were found together sword and stake in hand, surrounded by a circle of dust." Giles looked his Slayer in the eye. "You know don't you that I'd die the same way, if it came to it."

"Yes, and I love you for the fact." Buffy didn't let Giles reply out adding. "But I've lost enough people, and you Mister are to grow old with that Principal downstairs."

"Speaking of which, she's going to start wondering where we are." Giles knew he would be up late tonight researching, but that was tonight. "I'll try not to die Buffy, at least not anytime soon."

"Just don't try using the way round it I did." Buffy smiled. "Turned Watchers? Do they get any special powers?"

"Yes, they can annoy you forever........"

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Willow and Oz were in the store when Buffy walked down the stairs, Willow didn't look happy, Oz had his arms round her as she pressed her face to his shoulder.

"Will what's the matter?" Buffy ran over to her friend.

"Oh, nothing," the words came out muffled. "I'm just such a failure."

"No you're not!" Buffy looked at Oz, he shook his head. "You're the least failing person ever, what have you failed at?"

"Amy!"

Oz gently stroked his finger's through Willow's hair as he filled in the details. "Mr Madison was out leafleting again. Has anyone seen this girl, which technically-"

"Is me," Willow stopped with the pressing, her eyes looked just a little red as she looked at Buffy. "She's in a rat run at my house, and I can't ever tell that poor man, he's gonna wind up thinking someone took her and killed her, he probably thinks that now!"

"I'm sorry Willow," Giles had seen Mr Madison too. The poor fellow had been in school several times before the ascension to talk to faculty members. "But you can hardly produce a rat and say, 'Mr Madison here is your daughter.' We'll just have to research harder."

"I guess," Willow had a mental picture of how that might go across, not good. "And today started with such a happy."

"Oh really," Buffy blushed, and mentally damned her demoness.

Oz raised an eyebrow, but Willow to Buffy's intense relief didn't seem to notice the double entendre.

"Yeah we got a mail back, from See's the Fox," the red head turned to Giles and with the beginnings of a smile added. "Sixty-eight and he can use the dread machine ok."

"He always was a free thinker!" Giles hadn't been aware that the old Lakota had even heard of the invention of the PC. "How is the old chap?"

"Happy." Oz though back to his and Willow's first holiday together, a working trip to Cima, to see one of Giles old friends and buy a weapon. "His bow fired straight and true........."



Part Seven



Their first vacation together, ok the Mojave desert wasn't exactly their choice but Giles had needed stuff collected that couldn't be mailed, which meant he fronted the gas money, and vampire funding covered the costs. In those circumstances what could Willow and Oz say but yes.

"An it's not like we'll have to slay, right?" Willow had asked Giles, her eyes however barely leaving Oz, he had his hair dyed a real cool blue. "It being a desert."

"Well take a stake just in case." Giles had found vampires in the oddest of places during his travels. "If there are mountains with caves....and there are other creatures." Two faces were falling. "Not that I'm trying to put you off, have a marvelous time."

It was a symbol of how railroaded the local vamps were. Buffy had gone to LA, Angel was still not fully fit, but still Giles and Xander were considered sufficient strength to keep the Hellmouth closed. "Let the ordinary Joe's take the strain!" Xander had been stared at, hard, but still added. "We'll we are all that's left."

Separate rooms, the Rosenberg's had insisted. Separate rooms with connecting doors was the reality, Willow wouldn't technically be lying to her parents.

San Bernardino, Barstow some stops along the way and then the third night they had arrived at their destination, Cima.

"What do you think it is that we're collecting?" Willow was snuggled up against Oz's chest, the sweat of love making was cooling on them, but neither was sleepy. "I think it's something important, I mean why not post it, less it's something breakable, or something you wouldn't want people to see if it's packaging came open."

"Sign on the store said, authentic Native American Crafts." Oz was feeling the rhythm of Willow's heart beat as she pressed against him, it was better than any drum he had ever heard. "So maybe it's......"

"Native American.....duh, I knew that," Willow kissed him, and then since neither of them were tired, they got all sweaty again.

**************************************************************************************************************************

"Hullo, anyone home?" Willow looked around her, there where headresses, leather wear, blankets with decorative patterns, a whole cabinet of jewelery and bracelets, and weapons all along one wall. Lances, tomahawks, war clubs and bows all befeathered and painted. Suddenly Willow realized what they were here for. "Oz." she pointed.

"Yeah," Oz was taking in the weapons, too. "We're the weapons detail."

"Hullo," a young native American walked through braided curtains leading into a back room. "Sorry to keep you guys waiting out here, how can I help you?"

"Hi," Willow was here with Oz and therefore not paying the slightest attention to long black hair, skin like bronze, or a really well muscled torso, honest!. "Are you See's the Fox?"

"No," the answer was cautious, both of the teen's were regarded suspiciously. "I'm Dave Fox, his great nephew, the old one doesn't see people, he likes to be alone. What do you want with him?"

"We're here to collect something." Oz took a card from the breast pocket of his shirt. "Rupert Giles sent us."

The card was taken and studied. "Wait here. I'll go see if my Uncle will speak to you."

"Well I was expecting someone a little friendlier." The witch had been surprised by the suspicion, who was this guy. "Do you suppose he's out here in the desert for a reason?"

"I'd say so." Oz looked around the store. "I mean Cima must get tourists but you wouldn't think enough to keep this place running."

"Hollywood and mail order, son. Plus my web site." The voice was strong, both teens turned, they hadn't heard any footsteps.

He was old, that much could be said, his hair was nearly white, only a few strands of black remained to show its original color, he wore it long braids which ran down either side of his face. The face bore heavy lines, but his dark eyes were bright and a smile showed that he had kept his teeth. "I take it that you would be Willow, and you Oz? Welcome, I am pleased to finally meet you both."

Willow and Oz, exchanged glances, 'Don't discuss the Hellmouth with anyone!' Then Oz walked over hand extended. "Hi, yeah, nice to meet you to.......Mr Fox?"

"Call me See's son," the handshake was firm. "These days the fox thing is only if I'm wearing the right spectacles." He saw confusion and smiled more broadly. "Injun joke son, or should I say Native American."

"Your a friend......of Giles?" Willow extended her hand. "Not like there's any reason you shouldn't be. It's just he's........"

"Kinda British," Oz finished the sentence for her.

"Come on out back," See's the Fox cast a glance towards his great nephew who was stood by the door and whispered. "Dave doesn't like to hear about this stuff."

"Ok," Willow and Oz said it together, then smiled, they seemed to be thinking in harmony here, which was good. Quickly they followed the old man, past a frowning Dave who seemed unwilling to look at them.

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"Forgive the boy, vampires turned his parents, he doesn't say it but he knows they where looking to get even with me." They were walking across an area of open sand towards a large outbuilding. "Of course I had to stake them, my own nephew and his wife, then go find the bastards responsible and fasten them over an ant hill, it was night but with enough honey the ants still came out to feed."

"I'm sorry." Willow had part of her Giles friendship question answered. "For you that is, not for the vampires. did they dust?.......Wait I don't need to know."

Then they were in the building, on both side's were work benches, one for the building of weapons, the other for the manufacture of intricate jewelery, Willow stooped to look at the Silver ear rings that were being soldered together. "I think maybe you still can see Foxes, this is so intricate, and real beautiful."

"Thank you," See's opened a trunk in one corner of the room. "Here's what you kids came for."

He lifted out two crossbows, but two damned big ones, the arms of the bow where backed with iron. "Giles tells me your Slayer got strong, I made these for her, they may come in useful if she wants to slay vampires a county away."

"Or cross-state," Oz took hold of the weapon and tried to draw it back. "Good job she's strong, you'd need major.....grip."

"Tell her to be careful of her backgrounds if she's firing at a vampire close up." See's shook his head. "From what Giles tells me she's happier with a length of four by two anyway, still he wanted to get her a surprise."

Willow knew it was rude to stare, but she was staring, at the craftsman's left fore arm, it bore talon marks, old white scars. "Did you used to fight vampires?"

"See's the Fox is my given name, my real one's different." He gave them a conspiratorial wink. "Anyone here guess it, and why I don't use it."

"See's the Vampire." Willow answered with a wink of her own.

"People would stare." Oz added.

But Oz's attention was now drawn to something else the old man was doing, he was taking a long leather case down from two hooks on the wall. "I was a Watcher for nearly thirty six years, till I found myself having to raise the boy. No not all watchers are English, there are Watchers all over the world, were there is no Slayer they are the one's who fight vampires, or at least try to pick off the fledglings."

He opened the case and pulled out an unstrung bow. "The scars you've been trying not to stare at, I tell people it was a mountain lion, but really it was a vampire, he thought he had my life, my blood. But whilst he clawed my left arm, I staked him with my right. That was five years ago, in the Dakota's, that's why I moved my business here."

"This is for you." He held the bow out toward's Oz. "I heard about your actions at the graduation day fight, I thought you should have this."

Oz took it from him, and held it out at arms length. At first sight it seemed like it might be to long for him, but when he held it up with his left hand on the grip it was perfect. The wood was dark and beautifully planed, so the surface, as he passed his fingers over it, felt as smooth and hard as a piece of burnished steel. The back was flat, but the belly of the bow had a gracefully cut arch, each limb thick and straight. The tips were covered with metal, with notches to take the string.

"I can't take this," Oz was awed that someone he didn't know should have gone to such trouble. "It's like some kinda art, it's not something I should be running round Sunnydale with, thanks but......"

"Vampires are carrying guns more and more now son." See's pulled a cloth wrapped arrow from a quiver. "I don't think you'd want to have to carry one, but that bow will give you reach."

"I think you should to." Willow hadn't ever though a weapon could beautiful before, but this was something into which lined old hands had put hours of patient work. "It's meant for vampire slayage after all and sometimes we need extra firepower, crossbows are slow, the bow will fire quicker."

"Ok," Oz gave in, really he had to admit he thought it strangely beautiful. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it," Clapping Oz the back the Lakota nearly broke his shoulder. "If I had not spent so long chasing vampires, if I had married and had a son, he would have had such a bow. You are a warrior, beneath all this cool, you will count coup many times with that bow, of this I am sure."

Then he turned to Willow, "I will make you a present too, if I may."

He came and stood beside her, "Pick a piece of jewelery, I know from what Giles has told me that you have stake and crossbow, please take one of these instead."

"Oh, can I really?" She looked at the silver, then away, she couldn't take one of those pieces, not for free. "I'll take one of the wrist bands please, if its ok."

It was of black and white beading, with a diamond pattern running round it. Picking it up Willow tried to fasten it round her right wrist, Oz came over and helped her. "It's so nice of you, we've never even met before, thank you."

"It is nothing," See's the Fox felt old as he watched the two lovers. "You fight the vampires and the demons, why, you have no special strength, no calling, yet you fight because you know that it is the right thing to do. I fought to, but now I hide away......no don't disagree with me, I hide here in a sunlight place the vampires cannot come to with ease."

"Giles was young when I met him, I went to England to teach for a time, he had just returned to the fold from his days of rebellion. I knew then he would be different and as it turns out he was, I wish I had the strength to consider recruiting such brave people as you to help me fight."

"He kinda had no choice." Which was true, Willow and Xander hadn't exactly been asked for help by Giles or Buffy, they'd just helped. "So you taught him, and you kept in touch."

"For a while, but since he came to America he has written me from time to time, sometimes he will ring me for advice, I still have my library out back."

They went and sat outside beneath the shade of a verander, a soda each help keep away the heat though at this time of year it was not so bad, they talked about vampires, that they had met and slain, and in this place they were like ghost stories, nothing more. As the night drew in though the old man stood and looked out towards the sunset.

"The boy is grown to a man now, I am ready to give up this life. No do not protest I don't intend to go to the spirits unless they want me." He had faced death before, he no longer had any great fear of it. "Tell Giles that if he has need of another warrior in his battles I am here, I should like to meet his Slayer too, I hear she is the bravest there has ever been."

Willow and Oz exchanged looks, both could tell what the other was thinking, *We like this man, we don't want to see him die!" This conversation wouldn't be in there report, they just hoped they'd be forgiven.

Continued

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