Angel slipped up to the offices on the top floor, waiting for someone to notice him in a violent, stake to the heart kind of way. He'd left SID in the basement, realising that walking around with a big axe was one of the biggest ways of announcing his arrival. That was if they didn't already know and were just waiting for him to slip up, in order to do the, 'So, Mr Bond' speech he was sure they were capable of. Mr Bond speech? Spike was so much a part of him that he even thought his damn thoughts! A couple of suits walked past him and up the hall, and he stepped backwards into the shadow. Before Spike, this was where he'd belonged - half lights teasing a soul which shouldn't exist. And part of the time he wanted to stay there, hiding from the world, working out his problems and helping those who need help. But people needed more than he could offer - sometimes they needed more than just their asses saving. Sometimes they needed someone to talk to, and Angel wasn't all that good at that. Okay, Angel was crap at that, but he could do the ass saving and pass the rest on to someone else. God, and he was babbling now. He had to get Spike back. 'Hmm, it seems that photographs don't do you justice.' He whirled, ready to attack whomever was behind him. He wasn't prepared to find the sleek lawyer in front of him, diamonds clearly on show and practised smile at the ready. 'Hi, I'm Lilah Morgan and you're obviously a little out of place.' She held her hand out, and Angel straightened up, wondering just where she fit in the scheme of things, and what she knew of Spike. He ignored her hand and looked around - all the office doors were closed, leaving them alone. She seemed to have been expecting him and her confidence, in the face of what he'd done the last time he was here, was a little disconcerting. And she seemed to know. 'Where's Spike?' She smiled and gestured towards her office. 'William is.........unavailable at present. Perhaps you want to come and discuss.........' She broke off as he pushed her up against the wall, letting out a little moan which didn't escape Angel's hearing. Nothing seemed to intimidate her - she was self-assured, in control and enjoying the Hell out of this. Which wasn't his intention at all. 'Where's Spike?' She grinned at him, delicately tasting her lips, smelling his closeness. 'This isn't exactly civilised.' 'I'm not a civilised guy. Now tell me where he is.' She sighed, then strained against his grip, attempting to break free. 'He's doing a little.........job for us. After that, he's all yours.........in whatever shape.' Angel stamped down on the urge to flatten her, to bite her. Actually, she wasn't even worth that - he should just break her neck and have done with it. But his soul, his coveted soul wouldn't let him; no matter how much he wanted to. That didn't mean he couldn't enjoy what he could do. 'Lilah, wasn't it?' She nodded. 'Okay, Lilah, I'm not much for words, I'm more of an action person. And if you don't tell me now what I need to know, I'm gonna break your neck and find someone else.' She raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow and curled her lips. 'And thought we couldn't get you in any way. The little vampire means a lot to you.' He met her grin and raised his hand to her neck. With a sigh, she raised her hands. 'Oh, okay, since you asked me nicely.' 'Where?' 'He's gone looking for the Slayer - to dispose of her.' Angel pulled back a little. 'Faith. You sent him after Faith.' 'Perceptive, aren't you?' He slammed her back against the wall and she cried out, not entirely in pain. 'She can kill him.' 'Can and will are rather ambiguous words. He's a demon in a human body.' 'So am I.' And again, that grin. 'Well of course, but he's in a living body. You might say he's her equal at the moment.' Angel almost closed his eyes, imagining the battle. But he couldn't think of that right now - he still had to get out of here, had to get to Spike before he took on the Slayer. Had to stop him before one of them died. Before he had reason to doubt again. He glared at Lilah. 'How do I change them back?' 'Not good enough for you as a girl? But Angel, I thought you didn't have a preference. I guess I was wrong' 'Guess you were. Now how do I change them back?' She shrugged as well as she could, struggling slightly under Angel's grip. 'I wouldn't worry about that.' He squeezed her jaw and she yelped. 'How do I do it?' 'You're so stubborn.........I kind of like that in you. And this aggressive streak.........' He moved to hurt her again and she held up her hand. 'It's going to wear off in a couple of hours anyway. You don't need to do anything.' Angel's eyes narrowed as he followed the statement through. 'Does Spike know that?' 'He knows it's going to wear off - he doesn't know when.' The vampire snarled and flung her away from him, picking up her papers and shredding them. 'Oh that was mature.' Angel stalked down the corridors, making his way back to the basement and the tunnels. 'I've seen more years than you could ever dream. I've done mature.' 'So what are you doing now?' He turned the corner, ignoring her question. Spike was out there somewhere, maybe near the crime scenes they'd pinned down as being Faith. He had to focus, find his lover amongst the hazy city before something happened to him. He had to stop all this from happening, or be there to pick up the pieces. He had to take it all back. Angel ignored the question, but he knew the answer. This wasn't about maturity, this was something else. This was passion. * Doyle watched Wesley walk unsteadily back into the room, unconsciously trying to remember how much vodka it took to get the Englishman drunk. They'd only been out of the room half an hour, and he cursed himself for even having a jealous streak. I mean, he thought, it isn't even as if he's ever done anything to make me worry. Just cause he's spending a bit of time in a room with a woman he once slept with.........once cared for. Now how did that jealousy thing go again? Wesley looked up at him and he smiled gently, biting down on any worries. Megan followed the Englishman out, staggering with a more exaggerated gait. She'd been drinking steadily from the time she'd.........changed, and wasn't showing any signs of slowing down. He knew the trick - had done it so many times himself that he wasn't gonna call judgement. Still, he couldn't help wondering if it was gonna slow them down. 'You two had your little splitting up speech?' Cordelia handed Wesley a piece of paper cheerfully, raising an eyebrow at the dishevelled person behind him. 'Guess what I found?' 'Buried treasure?' asked Xander. 'Dr Pepper's secret recipe? A store that deals in Ho wear?' She glared at him and Doyle smiled. Cordelia needed someone to bounce off, and Xander did it better than anyone. Better than he had. Course he'd been interested in getting in her pants back then, and Xander.........well, Xander had once been her boyfriend. Maybe he did still harbour feelings for the girl. Whatever it was, Cordelia came to work bright and perky, ready to deal the dirt on whomever needed it. She was a bitch, but she was their bitch, and things like that counted.........especially against problem clients. 'No,' said Cordelia, 'Although from your experiences as a burger boy, I'm sure you'll know all their nearest secrets.' Xander held his hands up and moved over to the keyboard. 'What did you find?' asked Wesley. Doyle caught the tiredness in his lover's voice. This had taken it out of him, and he was fairly sure it wasn't just that they'd been up for the last thirty eight hours with only an hour's rest. It was more than that. Megan had meant a lot to him and their parting hadn't been mutual. He'd spoken about it briefly, and the resignation in his voice had touched Doyle. Here was a man who expected to be dumped upon. The idea that he was worthy rarely occurred to him - he was so busy waiting for the axe to fall. It won't be like that with me. Between you and me, we defy logic, or reasoning. I can't explain everything, or why I'm with you. I don't know why I look at the way you make my bed.........*our* bed so fastidiously in the mornings.........the way you always squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom.........and I've no idea what makes me smile when you arrange bacon in lines on the grill. I can't explain it, I just know it feels right. And that's good enough for me. 'Well, genius. All your books haven't come up with squat, right?' 'Sadly, yes.' 'So I thought I'd try and hack into Wolfram and Hart - see if they'd kept anything on file.' 'You? Hack?' Cordelia whirled round on Xander and saw him tapping away at the computer. 'And why wouldn't I be able to hack?' Xander shrugged and leaned back in the chair. 'No reason.' 'Good.' 'Cause you wouldn't be the same bright girl who thought DEL stood for deliver.' As the others broke up into varying states of drunken giggles, Cordelia cast her haughtiest glare on her one time boyfriend. 'Some people can be replaced in this office. Last in, first out.' 'Oh yeah,' said Xander, 'Cause with the coffee skills I've learnt here I'm scared I won't see out my training.' 'The only training you'll be doing is over at Fort Dix.' The giggles grew louder. 'Ooh, now I'm worried - army training. And all this from the mighty geek, Cordelia.' She slapped the paper down on the desk. 'I. Am. Not. A. Geek.' Xander wasn't fazed. 'No? So how come you're hacking now?' She leaned back. 'Okay, so I had a little help. Willow.........' 'I knew it!' 'Willow,' she said pointedly, 'offered to help me get into the system. Seems they keep electronic updates on everything.' 'Including giving me Spike's body?' 'You got it. I've printed out what I could, but they kind of detected me in the system and closed off my connection before I could get anything juicy.' 'But you got the details about the transference?' She passed Wesley the sheet. 'There's no spell or anything. The only things I could see were the two different times. See, there at 2 am and look, there at 7pm.' Wesley scanned over the paper, taking in all the information. At least he got something from his time as a Watcher, thought Doyle. Poor sod didn't get much else. He watched Megan lurch forward and lean on Wesley's shoulder, trying to focus on Cordelia's information. 'Hey, does that mean I'll get my body back in.........twenty minutes?' Wesley checked his watch. 'Seventeen, if this is right.' He smiled at Cordelia. 'Well done.' She grinned. 'Thank you.' 'Oh sure, be all self congratulating, just cause you guys are important and stuff. Just because me and Doyle can't contribute anything.' 'He has visions,' reminded Cordelia. Xander looked at Doyle and the half-demon shrugged. 'Not that I've had any at the moment.' Wesley winced. 'Don't tempt fate like that.' 'I don't think fate needs an invitation for that, man.' Xander shook his hands and sunk down to desk level. 'Okay, so I don't have a purpose.........I'm okay with that.' Cordelia grinned and ruffled his hair. 'You do have a purpose, mope boy.' 'I do?' 'Yeah. You remind me that however low my life has sunk, there's always another level below mine.' * Spike pushed open the door, stepping back against the wall as he waited for her to throw something out. He listened, trying with his human ears to sense her, his demon trying hard to manipulate this body for its purposes. It had been growing used to its new frame, stretching out and experimenting with what it was capable of. So far, it had been fairly impressed, although the lack of height was an annoyance - short vampires couldn't reach necks so easily. After a minute or so of silence, he turned, holding the piping he'd snaffled against his chest. He'd never actually fought this Slayer, but from what Angel had said, and what Cordelia had blabbed about, Spike knew that she was at least as formidable as Betty. Probably more so, because this one fought as though winning were the most important thing - surviving the battle was secondary. She fought like Angel. He growled to himself and walked inside, noting the sparse decoration, wishing he still had his acute sense of smell. Still, someone was definitely living here and, he noted, living off popcorn. He walked round the whole flat, his body tingling as though someone were watching, unable to pinpoint where. He could have done this over again, following vague hunches each time, until he found the Slayer. Trouble was, this was a game he grew bored of quickly, and the risky route seemed more fun. 'Faith, get your ass out here.' The fire escape creaked and Spike turned, watching as the Slayer slinked inside. She stood at the far end of the room, belly on show, apparently pleased with her concealing skills. 'So let me see, you know who I am,' she started, strolling leisurely towards him, 'And I know who I am, but we don't know jack about you.' She stopped within three feet of him. 'Care to let me in on the secret?' Spike looked her over, remembering the last time he'd been this close to her - the feel of the poison consuming him; of Angel promising anything if he'd just get well; of Buffy in tears when she'd discovered her true love was no longer so true. He could remember all that, but what stuck out was the fear she inspired - a cold chill in his cold body, icing out everything else. But he was human now, and the feeling was stronger. Feeling all too mortal, he pulled his newly acquired smokes out of his pocket and started to light one up. 'We've met before, Love.' She leaned back on her heels and glared sullenly at him. 'So? I don't remember the occasion, which means either I kicked your ass blindfold, or I didn't even notice you.' 'I've changed since then.' She chuckled. 'What? You cut your hair or something?' Spike shook out the match and tossed it on the floor. 'Something like that, Pet.' She waited for him to explain, but Spike puffed away, wondering how he'd built her up into such a terror. She was a girl, like they all were, but this one was closer to a child in outlook, desperate and alone. Betty had it easy compared with this one, and if she kept taunting the way she did, the Watcher's bloody council would be searching for the next Chosen one. 'Okay, I'm getting real sick of guessing games, so just haul your ass out of here, or I'll break it into little pieces and feed them to your dog.' Spike grinned. 'I don't have a dog.' Faith shifted slightly into fighting stance and Spike shook his head. 'Tempestuous little thing, aren't you?' She raised an eyebrow and kicked at him, surprised when he leaned back, knocking her feet out of the way. Human he might be, but the demon was stronger, and he trusted every reaction it made. As she swirled round on the floor and back to her feet, he dropped the cigarette and swung at her, connecting with a deafening slap to the side of her head. 'Ow!' 'That hurt, Love? Try this one.' He kicked out, dropping and rolling past her before she could recover from the blow. Faith was quick and strong, but she didn't know what she was fighting, and it gave him the advantage. As she punched, he ducked, moving just out of her reach, landing blows on her strong frame each time she turned. 'What are you?' 'Beating the crap out of you?' She swung again, trying to reach for his ankles, trying to knock him down and gain the initiative, but Spike was too quick and he stepped out of the way, landing on her with an elbow to her neck. As she choked and struggled to get back to her feet, Spike looked around for something to hit her with, before remembering the piping. He grasped the end, swung it round, and landed it powerfully in her belly. 'This is.........fun.' She grunted and he swung again, enjoying the violence more than actually getting his revenge. She'd hurt him, she'd hurt Angel, but the power, the sheer power in being both human and vampire was exhilarating. He was going to give it back, he was going to turn them down, but hey, maybe Weasly could figure out what the spell was, or maybe they could get ahold of the scroll Lyndsey had used and play about with this every once in a while. Maybe Megan would be up for the dead thing sometimes. And Angel would......... She managed to hit him hard as the distracting thought crossed his mind. Angel would hate it. He loved him, he belonged to Spike, but he wasn't going to be happy about Faith getting killed, whatever she'd done. He was all soully like that. He wasn't going to be too keen on shagging the wrong body either. As she brought her hand down, he rolled and got back to his feet. Best enjoy it while I can then! * Megan sat down on the sofa, after announcing to the world that she'd drunk far too much and she didn't know where that stupid grand.........whatever of hers would have taken her body. Wesley brought her a glass of water and forced the girl to drink it, hoping she'd sober up enough to cope with the change. When Doyle had followed him into the bathroom, expressing a concern over the tap water, Wesley had turned quickly and kissed him hard. After his initial surprise, Doyle had kissed Wesley back, pressing against his body, hips squeezing up against Wesley's own. His hands slipped to Doyle's waistband, and the Englishman knew that it would be so easy to forget everything and lose himself inside the warmth Doyle could provide. They'd explored each other, albeit timidly, passion wiping away almost all of their fears, sweeping aside every reason why they shouldn't be like this. He knew that Doyle was finding it easier than him, but still, it was a big thing, ha ha, seemed to be a *very* big thing, and it would be so easy to......... 'Hey, you guys better not be doing anything in there, I've only just cleaned those basins.' Wesley grinned and pulled back, resting his head against Doyle's. 'Xander,' he murmured, 'One of these days.........' 'Yeah, one of these days.' Wesley felt, rather than heard the meaning in the Irishman's words. Soon.........it couldn't be soon enough for either of them. He wanted, Doyle wanted.........but to take that step.........He didn't know if it was bravery or cowardice that had kept them from making love fully, but he was determined to find out. 'Soon,' he whispered. Doyle winked at him and walked out. Wesley watched him go before turning back to the tap and rinsing out a flannel under the hot tap. He walked through to where everyone sat, waiting for Spike to return to his body. Cordelia was intrigued, watching for any sign that the vampire was here again. 'What time is it now?' 'Thirty seconds since you last asked,' said Xander. 'Is anyone else getting bored with the waiting thing?' 'Thanks Xander,' said Megan, her eyes closed. 'You know I'll be sure to remember this when I've got my own body back.' 'Sorry, I was just.........it's like Christmas, you know?' 'And vampires turned up in your stocking? No wonder you always slept on the lawn.' Xander looked round, briefly embarrassed. 'You know, if there was a "worst possible thing to say ever" award, you'd be the reigning champion.' 'No thanks,' said Cordelia, looking at Doyle's watch. 'I'll leave the foot in mouth prizes to you and your lesser being friends.' 'Two minutes to go,' said Doyle to Wesley, passing him a cup of coffee. 'Then we'll see if we get our boy back.' 'A girl could really feel unwanted here.' Xander leaned over and passed Megan the wet flannel. 'It's not that we don't want you. Hey, you're a girl, and I'm generally.........there, with the girl thing. But I'd like to see girl-you, not Spike-you.' 'Oh.' Wesley sat down, trying not to let his worries show. If anything went wrong, they could lose them both, and he didn't know how to stop it happening. This was beyond him, something over which he had no control, and it bothered him more than he wanted to admit. Doyle squeezed his hand gently and he smiled, pleased that he wasn't alone, that some things were constant. 'Hey, Wes.' He turned to Megan. 'Yes?' She grinned at him and leaned back. 'I was going to give them to you earlier, a sort of, "hey I'm here, let's party", kind of present. But I really don't think it's appropriate for us.' 'What?' She shrugged and gestured to Doyle. 'Remind me, left pocket, they're all yours.' 'Okay,' said Wesley, slightly confused, 'I'll remind you.' 'Cheers.' With a look at the clock, she shoved her hands behind her head. 'Well guys, it's been a blast. Later.' And she closed her eyes. * Angel dodged the rays of sunlight that snuck through cracks in the corridor. It had been a long time since he'd tried to sense where one of his childer were and it had given him a headache. It hadn't helped that he was looking for one who wasn't actually in his own body, but with concentration, and good hearing, he'd come down here, following the crashing and smashing noises above. As he approached the door, wary of the fading light, he could hear the them fighting - low breathy voices grunting as blows were exchanged, one a Slayer, the other an almost infallible vampire. Did he really want to break this up? Hadn't Faith proved beyond measure that she wasn't worth the attempt; that nothing could bring her back to the good fight? Didn't Spike deserve his shot at the woman who'd tried to kill him? He closed his eyes a moment, listening again, hearing Faith scream as something smashed, the air growing heavy with the scent of blood. They'd been fighting a while, and although they both were more than human, he knew one of them would start to weaken, and fall. He didn't want that one to be Spike. Angel hurried into the room, ready to step in and separate them both if he could. But the room was wrecked, everything from floor to roof smashed or broken in some way, everything tinged with blood and sweat. Faith was kicking at her opponent, trying to deflect every blow that came back at her. As Megan's body fought back, Angel tried to pick out the style, trying to see the vampire beneath its fleshy exterior. He could see traces of Spike in the fighting, could see moves that only the vampire would use. That Megan had never acted like this, that she was more in Wesley's vein than their own never occurred to him. Angel wasn't looking for traces of her - he was trying to find the man he loved. They were both bruised and cut, and although he'd bet that Faith was wearing more injuries, he wasn't sure. He watched them fight, transfixed before the almost balletic grace of their movements. He was so caught up, that when Spike turned, noticing him for the first time, his first thought was that the vampire was still there, still existed for him. And he smiled, ready to open his arms, show him how relieved and thankful he was that Spike was okay. And he could tell him that it wasn't going to be like this for long, that the Lawyers were all assholes and they'd deal with them later. That he loved him. Spike paused, as though he were stunned that Angel was there. Before he could get his balance back, before he could get back in the game, Faith was behind him, seizing his neck in one hand, his head in the other. And in less time than it took Angel to scream 'No', she twisted, watching dreamily as the body slipped from her grasp. As it fell to the ground, Angel charged forward, slamming the Slayer against the window, pulling back as she fell through. And before the last of her screams had ended, he had turned, reaching for the still form on the floor. The sun had set. The battle lost. All else is silence. *
It was a little like swimming under water.
Within reach of home, Spike struggled to break the surface, the fight still in his mind. He'd been winning, even though she'd managed to get a few good blows in. Slayers adapt quickly, and this one was no exception. Within minutes of battle, she'd paid attention to his style and managed to get the elbow in. He'd been caught between being impressed and annoyed, coming down on the side that kept him alive. Depending if being 'alive' was important to him. There was a moment when he'd sworn he saw Angel, but before he could rationalise it, everything was gone and Spike was falling, disappearing in a slipstream back to his own body. He could sense the other, could feel Megan in a heartbeat; moving past him back to her human existence. For one insane moment he felt the urge to touch her, to feel a connection between his past and present. There was blood between them, and nothing was stronger than that. Angel knew it, Weasly and Doyle knew it. For God's sake, even Xander knew about the bond between what was and what will be. Love and blood, life and passion, all inter-linked and present in whatever passed for his existence. He stretched his hand out, unsure of the distance, (unsure if he had fingers here, wherever here was) and touched the tips of her fingers. She turned and looked at him, the lazy smile wiped from its usual place. As he tried to ask why, the pressure on his skin lessened and she faded from view, a greasy static shuddering in the last moments before he woke. With a deep breath, the last he took before he opened his eyes, Spike was back. And home felt very cold. * Tears were hard for vampires. It wasn't because they couldn't cry, or were restricted to blood tears, although everything held a trace of that. The blood smell was everywhere, always. In life, in death.........now. He'd seen people die before, many at his own hands. But since he'd begun his resouled existence, the few people he'd cared for were always in mortal danger. He'd thought, or rather he'd hoped, that he and Spike would last out the ages, alone against the terrors that walked the Earth. But they would be together - a force that could drive out Armageddon. Something unique. The lifeless form in his arms was now damp, the blood no longer flowing through any of its systems. In the endless moments after Faith had broken its neck, Angel had considered turning Megan's body, trying to find the demon within. But something had stopped him, the blood chilling and congealing within the now ineffectual veins. There had never been a situation like this, and he couldn't be sure what he would get back. He'd buried his head against her neck and let the few tears fall, unable to cry his sorrow aloud. Spike was dead, and it was his fault. Angel knew that if he returned to the office, the others would be lay blame elsewhere. Wolfram and Hart were responsible - they had cast the spell, had lied to Spike, had duped him into fighting the Slayer. They were smeared with Spike's blood. But they hadn't been there to watch him die, and Angel could hear the crack of bone, echoing round his head every second. They hadn't seen Spike turn, recognising his lover - distracted and vulnerable. They hadn't been there, they didn't know. When the faint hints of perfume infiltrated Angel's senses, he got to his feet and picked up the body, ready to head back to the sewers. But he faltered on the first step, realisation sinking in as to what awaited him at home. Their home. Spike's body was still intact.........it just didn't host Spike. How could he cope, seeing Megan walking round in his lover's body? And as he leant against the doorframe, he knew he couldn't. Angel was strong in so many ways. He'd grown accustomed to tortures that would defeat most of his peers. He'd overcome prophesy, accepted what he was, and created something new - something that would compensate for his former years. All that meant nothing without the one thing he'd accepted as his reward. The wayward childe who reminded him that 'black might bloody be black, but there are shades, Angel. And you don't have to stick with just the one. You can change.' Become more human, the Oracles had told him. Listen to Spike - he's more human than he knows. And they'd spoken truly, something Angel had always known - William the Bloody could just as easily have been mortal for his outlook. He'd shown the older vampire that the world outside was just as bloody interesting, and didn't require Morrissey to get through it. Live a little. Fuck it, live a lot. Oh but it hurt to think that now. Angel growled, and it echoed round the tunnel walls, chilling even the vampire himself. Without Spike, there was no reason to fight the nature of evil - if even a vampire could change, there was a chance for all of them. Without that hope, without Spike's aggressive optimism, Angel didn't want to try. Which left him with one option. Angel set off in the direction of the post office. * 'Spike?' The vampire sat up and looked quickly from left to right. He flexed his muscles, the demon quickly settling back into its usual home and growling at the chip lodged in its head. Everything was normal again and, aside from seriously wanting a good session, (one with Angel and one with beer - actually, couldn't he combine those two activities? It had been way too long since he'd seen the older vampire pissed) Spike felt as sound as he ever did. He rubbed his eyes briefly and ran his tongue over his lips, glad to be rid of the girly gloss. God, but it felt good to be a vampire again. One hand shot down toward his groin and he felt the firm outline against his pants, grinning in slight relief. Felt bloody good to be a man again, too. 'Spike?' With a grunt, Spike turned to look at Wesley, sensing the very real concern from the man. Slightly touched by the compassion, Spike shot him his best dirty grin, enjoying the children-will-play look he got in return. 'All right, Weasly, I'm back.' 'Thank God for that,' said Cordelia, 'I was actually beginning to miss you and you have no idea how worrying that is.' Xanderr shrugged and patted her shoulder. 'You think that was bad - I was starting to think he was a decent guy.' He stopped suddenly and shot a furtive look at the vampire. 'Forget all that up to where I said "you think".' He paused and looked Cordelia up and down. 'No.........forget I said that, too.' As the girl scowled, Doyle leaned over and passed Spike a half bottle of whiskey. 'You might want a drink - that grand whatever of yours has been packing away the vodka like nobody's business. Thought you might want to finish the job.' Spike unscrewed the lid and knocked it back, coating his throat with the fierce liquid. He looked at the bottle, impressed with the brand. 'You've been spending a bit.' He grinned. 'Missed me, did you, Pet?' Doyle rolled his eyes and sat back on the sofa. 'Oh sure, I mean, a whole twelve hours without you trying to find out if I've taken Wesley to bed and I was desperate to get you back.' Wesley coughed and picked up a map whilst Spike chuckled. 'Well you haven't - I'd smell it a mile away.' 'Maybe we've had a shower since.' 'Nah,' said Spike, taking a deep draught, 'I'd have noticed.' 'Why?' The vampire grinned and stretched. 'Cause you stink, mate. And if you're not washing with eau de smelly arse, you haven't been near water in a couple of days.' Xander held his arms out. 'See, I knew vampires might have a use. He could be BO detector guy, or something.' He smiled at Cordelia. 'We could make flyers, you know, add it to Angel's services?' Spike shook his head and gestured to Wesley's map. 'What's this then? You waited till I got back to look for buried treasure?' The watcher glared at him and Spike noted the bags under the Englishman's eyes. However annoyed he might act, one thing was clear - Wesley had put the time in on Spike's problem. Or maybe, he'd tried to act on Angel's problem. Hmm, that was something worth watching out for - since the ex-watcher had skipped tracks, there was nothing to stop him thinking about the tall brooding one. Actually, there'd never been anything stopping him doing that, but now.........Spike shook his head and ignored the looks the others gave him. It was being out of his body that had done it - he was starting to think like a bloody girl. Ick. All that hyper insecurity and gossip.........although he always liked the gossip. But Wesley was all bent over this map and pointing out little bits that looked indistinguishable from other little boxes on the paper. Spike leant on his shoulder and tried to figure out what he was looking at. Wesley tapped in one corner. 'Angel went looking for you. I believe he was trying to find out what Wolfram and Hart had to do with all this. Could you tell me where you ended up?' The ferocity of Faith's punch came back to him and Spike flinched. They were fighting, he was winning and then.........Angel. God, if only he could be sure he'd seen him. Not knowing was bugging the Hell out of the vampire. 'You okay there, man?' Spike looked up at Doyle, who was proffering the bottle again. 'Fine, Irish. Just a bit umpty about swapping bodies.' 'Oooh,' said Xander, suddenly excited, 'you felt bumps and curves from a first person thing, and that's kind of.........wow.' He stared off into the middle distance for a moment before he turned back. 'Shame about you being gay and all.' Spike ignored him and prodded the map. 'Faith - asshole Slayer.' 'What?' Spike pointed again. 'I went to her, and she was down.........there, somewhere.' 'You fought Faith?' Spike glared at Xander. 'Beating her ass. What's it to you?' Xander held his hands up. 'Nothing. Just.........weren't you lying there dying in an undead way when Angel saved you from her last time? You remember? When I was all shot up and dying?' 'You were never dying,' pointed out Cordelia, reasonably, 'the paramedics said you were really lucky that it hadn't really damaged you.' 'Could have been dying,' insisted Xander, 'it's not my fault she didn't shoot to kill.' He sagged and sat back. 'It was your ass I was trying to save, remember?' She smiled and ruffled his hair. 'Yeah, but its my ass - and that's always worth saving.' With a quick appreciative look at said appendage, Xander grinned and gestured to Spike. 'Point is, undead guy, you were flat on your back whilst Angel did all the work.' Spike turned to Doyle. 'How much would it cost me for you to beat the crap out of him?' The half-demon laughed and walked off into the kitchen, whilst Cordelia nodded to the vampire. 'How much money are we talking?' Wesley folded up the map to the location Spike had pointed out. 'You transferred back whilst you were fighting Faith?' Spike shrugged. 'Yeah, so?' Wesley coughed and Spike frowned a second. 'She's gonna get her ass kicked, isn't she?' Wesley's worried look was back and he moved toward the phone. 'If she's lucky.' 'You trying to get Angel on his mobile?' asked Cordelia. 'He doesn't know how to turn it on.' 'Damn,' said Wesley, 'well we're going to have to go there and hope Angel got to her in time.' 'In time for what?' He pulled on his coat and passed Spike's to him. 'In time to stop Megan winding up dead.' 'Oh,' said Spike, 'I always forget that you like them mortal.' He grinned toward the kitchen. 'Even if they're not human.'