'I don't believe this!' Spike growled and picked up the file from Cordelia's desk. 'Believe what, Pet? That they went out and didn't tell us about it?' Wesley sat on the edge of the desk and flicked through the remaining magazines that Cordelia had left. Their reluctant receptionist was missing, but, since it was in the four hour span that Cordelia used as her lunch break, that wasn't entirely out of the ordinary. There was no sign of Doyle or of Angel and that was unusual. Angel rarely left on a case without Spike, but on the few occasions he did, he left a detailed note, usually with a promise to make it up to him in oblique terms. And if it was a case where major demon ass kicking was involved, a very graphic account of what would happen later. But there was nothing here today, and Spike wasn't going to admit to Wesley that he was worried. Or annoyed. That could all come later, when he'd found him. 'Hmmm,' said Wesley, 'I could use a good cup of coffee.' 'Screw the coffee, Pet, I need a drink.' 'Good job I brought vodka, then.' They looked up to see Megan at the door, huge duffel bag at her feet, bottle in hand. Spike grinned. 'Cheers, Pet. That all for me?' She raised an eyebrow. 'You bloody wish.' She stepped inside and slid into Wesley's arms briefly for a kiss before sensing the atmosphere. 'What's the matter boys? Someone taken away the Scalextric?' 'It's Angel and Doyle,' said Wesley. 'They're not here and haven't left a message.' 'Oh,' said Megan, then grinned. 'You think they've been kidnapped and forced to have sex with big bad demons!' They stared at her and she looked surprised. 'Whoah, so it is something like that. Are we going to go rescue them, cause I brought my camera?' 'You brought everything,' said Wesley looking at her bag, 'Run out of time at the hotel?' She nodded. 'Thought I could bunk with one of you guys until I leave.' 'You can stay with me,' said Wesley, trying to keep the enthusiasm to a minimum. Megan grinned. 'Thanks, I'll make it worth your while.' Spike groaned and they stared at him. 'What?' asked Wesley. 'Will you just get on and shag him already?' Megan grinned as Wesley blushed. 'And who says that I haven't done that?' Spike ran his tongue over his teeth and grinned wolfishly. 'You haven't.' 'Oh?' 'Nope,' said Spike, picking up Cordelia's disorganised out tray. 'And how would you know?' Spike stepped toward her, meeting her gaze easily. She didn't flinch, even when he vamped out and leaned in toward her neck. As his nose grazed her throat, he could hear her pulse beating a little faster, sensed her emotions. He wouldn't bite her, he couldn't bite her, but Oh God, what if he did? He pulled backwards and turned human again. 'If you and Weasly had been doing the wild thing, I'd be able to smell it.' He grinned at her, feeling her pulse slow a little. 'And the only thing that's touched your skin lately is raspberry soap.' She breathed out slowly and turned away. 'So do we go looking for the others or what?' Wesley shrugged his shoulders. 'Until Cordelia gets back, we haven't a clue where they went.' Spike passed Wesley a sheet of paper with a name across the top. 'You know who this is?' Wesley thought for a moment, pressing his tongue into his cheek. 'I think I've heard of him. Ernie Nellins. He works at a Sports Bar in Silverlake called Shots. Got a reputation for taking his cut anyway he can.' Spike got up and headed to the stairs. 'Where are you going?' asked Megan. 'It's got Angel's scent all over it,' said Spike without looking back. 'This is where they went.' 'I'll come with you,' said Wesley, as Megan slung her bag under Cordelia's desk and followed her ancestor. 'Megan, you don't have to get involved.' She looked back at him and smiled gently. 'You guys risked your lives for me, Wes. Least I can do is come make sure your friends are okay.' Spike rolled his eyes as he picked up the axe from the wall. He couldn't remember ever being so sentimental. 'Plus,' said Megan with a grin, 'If I stay here I have to listen to Cordelia talk about shoes. I'd rather get my head kicked in than do that again.' Spike heard Wesley gasp and grinned. Having a descendant was a lot more interesting than he'd imagined. * Doyle looked at the bracelet on his wrist. It really wasn't his colour, or style - a touch too girly for him, but unfortunately it was his size and he couldn't get the damned thing off. As he looked around and saw the other cages, he wondered just how this game was going to pan out. It didn't look as though they'd been brought here for a surprise party, and after that lovely welcome they'd been given, he wasn't looking forward to the main event. When the Howler demons had attacked, he'd shifted to his Brachen face, being stronger and less vulnerable in that form. He was still uncomfortable about being seen like that, especially by Cordelia, knowing that it wasn't a face that would win any beauty pageants. But it gave him extra strength and against the creatures they sometimes faced, it was definite advantage. Didn't do so well against Tazars though. Angel groaned from the other side of the cage and Doyle bent down to help him upright. They'd seriously zapped the vampire, knocking him out when he'd tried to protect Doyle. The half demon had followed them into the cell as they dragged Angel in, aware that he was toast if he tried to get away. He'd been sitting in their new home for over half an hour now, listening to the grumblings of the other occupants. 'Where are we?' asked the dazed vampire. 'Them bastards' version of a holiday camp.' Angel looked around quickly and saw their neighbours. 'Looks like everyone got season tickets.' 'Yeah, and we got the room with a view.' Angel felt the band round his wrist. 'I know this,' he murmured. Doyle nodded. 'I heard the rumours. It's not looking good for that dinner I promised Cordelia.' 'No,' admitted Angel. 'Spike's gonna kill me.........If someone else doesn't first.' Jack, the bait that had drawn them here walked down into the room, standing behind the red line and grinning like Spike after a particularly brutal kill. He hit a switch and began to speak, pleased with his captive, ha ha, audience. They exited the cages as the door slid open, and Doyle shivered at the hatred in the room. Something told him that this wasn't where Jack let them all out. 'Listen up, slaves. There is only one rule here,' he paused to make sure they were paying attention. They were, with barely disguised loathing. 'And it's real simple, so you demons can remember it. ' Angel walked purposefully towards him and Jack tsked and grinned wider. 'Stay inside the red. That wristband will make sure you do. I know what you're thinking. You want to tear my throat out......... But you won't. Because there is only one way out of here - When that band comes off. And the only way that band comes off, is after your 21st kill.' Angel stared at him. 'I'm not killing anybody.' 'Then you'll be killed. Either way, fans will get their money's worth.' He grinned cheerfully at them all, taking in their hatred and feeding on it. 'So why don't you slaves go eat your food and get ready to kill each other.' He left the room with a flamboyant little spin. Doyle stepped in closer to Angel. 'We're going to beat the crap out of him, right?' Angel nodded. 'You can have first shot, I'll make sure of it.' 'Good, cause I was worrying about that.' * Ice is one method of keeping the swelling down in swollen fingers, cold water is more effective, but it warms up too quickly and has to be replaced. Ernie was making do with the ice as he repeatedly, methodically, broke the face of someone who didn't pay his owesies. What was more terrifying than being beaten up was that Ernie seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, as if the actual paying of the debt would be a disappointment to him. Spike took a moment to appreciate his cold brutality and Wesley walked past him. 'Stop that.' Ernie turned with a laugh. 'Who's this?' Wesley didn't flinch. 'I'm Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. And I'm looking for my employer. He came here to question you about Jack Macnamara.' Megan looked at Spike. 'He's of the double-barrelled?' Spike nodded. 'Silver spoon variety I'd say, Pet.' Ernie heard the voices and attempted to look past Wesley, discounting him as suit. When Wesley's expression didn't change, Ernie smiled and gestured to his victim. 'Maybe you didn't notice, I'm kind of busy here.' 'Where is he?' asked Wesley in the same tone. Ernie laughed. 'Your boss.........gave me two hundred dollars to answer his questions.' He sat down in a chair on the far side of the room. 'I'm a businessman, make me an offer.' Spike gestured to Megan that the guy was a wanker and she grinned. 'Should we go help him?' she asked. Spike lit a cig and shook his head. 'Nah, sounds like he's having fun in there.' They heard Wesley's clear tones again. 'You should understand, the man I work for means a great deal to me. And I will not give you a single red cent. What I will do, Sir, is beat it out of you if I have to.' Spike puffed hard on the cig, sending billows of smoke at Megan. Wesley playing the hard man? He had to see this? Everyone on the room laughed, with the exception of Mr Punching bag. Ernie grinned at Wesley. 'You're from another country, right?' Spike watched as Wesley withdrew a crossbow. When had he picked that up? 'Who are you? Robin Hood?' And then the unbelievable happened. Ernie pulled out a gun, but before he could aim, a dart from the crossbow had pinned his hand to the wall. The gun clattered to the floor and Wesley snatched it up and aimed it at the cronies as Ernie struggled against the wall. 'Please drop those,' said Wesley as they reached for their guns. The dropped them. 'You can go now,' he said to the victim and the bruised guy hurried past Spike. Wesley put the crossbow down carefully on the floor and get the gun aimed carefully at Ernie's head. He walked over and started to twiddle the dart. His eyes were cold and as the bookie moaned in pain, he shut down all his normal compassion. 'Now, where is my employer?' Ernie groaned, but didn't say anything. Wesley flicked it again and although the bookie wailed, he couldn't get anything coherent out of him. The demon hunter looked up and saw Spike watching him admiringly. 'Never would have guessed you had a talent for torture, Ducks.' The other men moved to walk past him, but Spike vamped out and growled at them, causing all three to stand back against the wall. The vampire grinned - it felt good to be feared. Megan stepped forward and picked up the crossbow, aiming it at the floor. Spike shook his head. 'No good like that, Pet.' She looked at him. 'I don't know how to use it.' The henchmen moved to leave again and Spike grinned. 'Here you go then, Love. Target practise.' He stood behind her and lifted the barrel into her hands, lowering his head until he could see three frightened faces in the sight. 'Now look down the barrel, Pet.' She did. Spike moved the crossbow slightly. 'Got it?' 'Yeah,' she breathed excitedly. 'What do I do now?' Spike chuckled. 'Eenie,' he said, pointing the dart at the first one, 'Meenie, miney.........' they turned to face Ernie. 'Mo.' Wesley watched them and then looked back at Ernie. 'Do you really want him to pull that trigger?' Ernie moaned but managed to shake his head. 'Then I'll ask one more time. Where,' he asked, bending the dart deep to one side, 'Is my employer?' * Doyle plopped his spoon in the middle of the gruel. 'Well it's hardly haute cuisine, but it's better than anything my mother used to make.' Angel sat down next to him. 'At least you get something to eat,' he said. Doyle looked at him. 'You mean they didn't bring you a little something to tide you over?' Angel looked away. They said if I win tonight, they'll order in. One of the local kids.' Doyle scrunched his face up in disgust. 'That's bad, man.' 'I know,' said Angel. 'We just have to get out of here before that.' The reptilian-featured demon laughed at them both. 'Didn't either of you two idiots listen? No one gets out of here until your twenty first kill.' Angel looked down at his empty hands. 'I'm not killing anyone.' The demon laughed. 'Then I hope I get you, vampire. I could use an easy kill.' Doyle held his hands up. 'Look, no one's killing anyone.' There was a puny creature sitting next to him, shaking his head. 'It's not like you have a choice. You kill them, or they kill you. It's as easy as that.' Angel heard Spike's speech echoed, wondering what would happen if it had been his lover trapped down here instead. Spike wouldn't have any problem offing any one of these demons. He'd probably enjoy the chance for violence in that capacity alone. None of these would matter at all to the vampire. He'd just kick ass, until he found the one who could kill him. Would they even guess where he and Doyle were? He'd been in such a hurry when they'd left that he hadn't penned a note to explain where he'd gone and Cordelia had scoped out a shopping trip when she knew they'd be away for the afternoon. There was that one scrap of paper with the bookies name on it, but with Cordelia's filing system, he doubted they'd be able to find that. God, he was hungry. He should have grabbed something to eat before they'd left earlier, but he'd been rushing to get all the legwork finished on the case. He'd planned to surprise Spike with oils he'd picked up in a quaint little shop by new Butchers. He'd picked up lemon grass and this really musky wild herbs concoction that he was planning to smother the other vampire in..........and then smother himself in the other vampire, all of which had distracted him and made him forget to leave a note. And now he and Doyle were trapped in this place, barely anything to eat, waiting it out until they had to fight one of these demons and someone got killed. I fucked up, thought Angel, I fucked up in a big way. This could get us both killed and I have no idea how to get these bracelets off.........or how to hold off someone else getting dead by my hands. If I kill them, it's another death to grieve over. Someone else to feel guilty about. If they kill me, Doyle's on his own and.........I promised. I promised I wouldn't leave him. Spike I wish I was with you now. Angel growled softly and Doyle looked at him. 'You okay, man?' Angel nodded. 'We're gonna get out of here.' Doyle looked about them at the competition. 'I like your optimism.' 'Good.' 'Cause I was going for out and out panicking, myself.' Angel grimaced at the demon. 'Pretty close to that too.' * Spike wasn't panicking. He had Angel's wardrobes open and was searching for clothes that would pass muster at this fancy gig they were going to tonight. Ones that stood any chance of fitting him. Trouble was, he was struggling to concentrate for long enough to pick out anything because he was not panicking. 'Fuck,' he murmured. Since his reappearance several months ago, the vampires hadn't spent a night apart. It wasn't something they'd spoken about, exactly, but it was a silent agreement between them that they slept in the same bed. Or once the sofa. And there was that time in the bath.........okay, not always the bed, but they stayed together, sharing the night and the solitude of day. It didn't feel right, being apart from him and Spike was refusing to panic. They'd go to this bloody fight club, take back the boys, smash some heads and come home. And maybe they'd fuck. Spike sighed. For once, the prospect of his lover's body wasn't driving him wild with desire. He just needed to know that said body was still alive, so to speak. 'Can't find anything?' asked Cordelia, dressed to kill in a fake fur coat. Spike huffed and shook his head. 'Bloody vampire's too tall. Hasn't got a pair of pants that don't drag on the floor.' She looked at him and appraised his physique briefly. 'What happened to those clothes you wore to the exorcism?' Spike shrugged. 'They got.........messed up.' 'Messed up?' Spike grinned. 'Yeah. See, Angel had this tub of double cream.........' 'Not wanting to know,' said Cordelia, holding her arms up. She walked over to the wardrobe. 'I don't know, what do you wear to watch your lover get killed?' Spike growled and grabbed at her coat. 'You should know, Princess.' She paused, about to utter some new sarcasm and then slumped, turning slowly to him. 'I know, Spike. I miss Doyle too.' Spike laughed, glad someone else had bigger problems. 'Thought he wasn't your type, being that he's not loaded and all?' She shrugged. 'And don't forget the demon thing.' 'It's his best feature,' smirked Spike. She shot him a look. 'Better than being the sole member of the defanged vampire support group.' Spike snorted and picked up a pair of pants that looked shorter. 'These'll have to do,' he said. 'Not bad,' admitted Cordelia. 'At least he won't be alive to see you wear those ugly clothes.' Spike growled again and looked at her. But she was distracted, not even meaning the insult. Cordelia was worried about Doyle and with that, he could identify. He wanted Angel back and he didn't care who he had to kill to get him. Even if it did trigger the pain in his head. Still, she was looking so bloody pathetic. He rolled his eyes and tried the comfort thing. 'Don't worry Love,' he said flatly, without emotion, 'We'll get them back.' She looked at him. 'Are you trying to hug me here?' Spike removed his hand from her shoulder. 'No.........' He reached in the wardrobe for a shirt. 'Just couldn't stand your broody face. Get enough of that from the Poof.' He pulled the clothes on and looked at her. 'Well?' 'Well what?' He gritted his teeth. 'Will this get me past the door at that bloody club?' She looked him up and down carefully. 'I suppose we can always pretend you're the help.' He raised an eyebrow at her. 'Wow, Spike, you brush up pretty well.' They looked to the staircase and saw Wesley and Megan descending it. Cordelia preened as she realised she was not only wearing the better dress, coat and shoes, but that even though she'd done her hair under pressure, it looked better than the messy updo Megan was wearing. 'Well I see I'm the only one who took dressed up to mean actually "dressing up".' Megan shrugged and walked past her to Spike. She smiled at him. 'We'll get them back.' Spike nodded. 'I know, Pet. I'm not leaving without him.' 'Them,' corrected Cordelia. 'Whatever,' shrugged Spike. 'Demon asses are gonna be kicked.' Wesley revealed the short axe under his jacket. 'And hacked in two if need be,' he added. Spike grinned. 'Beginning to like this side of you, Pet. Should get you hyped up more often.' Wesley rolled his eyes and walked past them to the door. Spike stopped him and sniffed. 'What is it, Spike?' said Wesley impatiently. 'Nothing, Ducks,' said Spike. Then he grinned. 'Just wondered when you started wearing raspberry soap.' *
Spike hated the rich. There hadn't been a time in his life when their opulent lifestyle failed to disgust him. And this lot..........LA's finest turned out to watch demons knock seven kinds of crap out of each other. Oh yeah, the rich definitely were different. They were all ass holes. 'This stinks,' he growled. Megan took his arm and moved towards the far door. 'If it makes you feel any better, imagine them all dead.' Spike glared at a skinny woman with rubies that looked too heavy for her neck. 'Way ahead of you there, Pet.' 'It doesn't feel right, does it?' asked Wesley. 'I haven't felt so out of place since the last gentleman's excuse me at Uni.' They turned to look at him and, finding no explanation, to Spike. He shrugged. 'Load of wankers pretend to have style for a night.' 'Huh?' said Cordelia. 'I think it's a dance,' said Megan. 'I don't really want to think what else he might mean.' 'We're not out of place,' said Cordelia, stretching her neck out and preening. 'We were born to be here.' 'What? In a basement watching demons get their asses handed to them?' 'With the cream of society,' sniffed Cordelia. 'They're the fucking cheese,' snorted Spike. 'Wankers, the lot of them. A couple standing next to them turned at Spike's words and Wesley ushered them all away. 'We're supposed to be covert here, Spike. Not announcing our presence to everyone.' 'Fuck it,' muttered Spike grimly. 'We find Angel and the half-breed and get out. No pissing about with this lot.' Cordelia rolled her eyes at him and moved toward the room at the back. 'I'm going to go find out what's going on, you coming?' Spike shook his head, seeing the other, less obvious door near the kitchens. 'I'm gonna go find them,' he said simply. 'I'll come with you,' said Megan. Wesley caught her arm. 'I'd rather you stayed here with me.' 'Why?' Spike ignored the pair of them and headed towards the door. 'Because,' said Wesley simply, 'going with Spike could be dangerous.' 'I'll be fine, don't worry about me.' 'But you might get hur.........' She grinned at him briefly and kissed the tip of his nose. 'Don't even think it.' She rushed off then, unkempt and slightly dishevelled, looking completely out of place amongst all this glamour. Wesley watched until she was completely out of sight and even then waited a moment. Don't worry, she'd said, don't think about me. I don't think about anything else. He walked to where Cordelia stood and followed her gaze into the pit. 'Oh,' he said flatly. The victor snapped the neck of the other demon without relish or passion. It was simply a means to an end, a barbarous path towards its own freedom. As the crowd cheered, Trepkos didn't even look up. This wasn't a moment to celebrate, just one more death amongst a thousand. The doors opened and he slunk back in, knowing that soon he'd return and either he would walk out of the ring a free demon, or someone else would hear the crowd's roar. This was liberty paid in blood and the only thing he could do to make it better was to finish it quickly. It wasn't enough.