Part 1. In which our intrepid hero frees Angel, meets Buffy and saves Angel's soul.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss - everybody but brothers Gorch whom he gakked from Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch".
Warning: **A short Buffy/Angel scene in the first chapter.**
Timeline: "The Wish", Cordelia's alternate reality.
Summary: What if Spike was there too?
A/N: Many thanks to deird1, my wonderful beta who helped me with grammar and style. All mistakes are mine. Big thanks to a2zmom who helped me with character' voices, especially Cordelia. And many thanks to enigmaticblues for organizing this event.
Jack: I have to warn you. I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work.
Annie: OK. We'll have to base it on sex then.
Jack: Whatever you say, ma'am.
"Speed", 1994, dialogs by Joss Whedon
Annie: OK. We'll have to base it on sex then.
Jack: Whatever you say, ma'am.
"Speed", 1994, dialogs by Joss Whedon
...Actually, Spike went to Sunnyhell on business.
A psychic told him that the key to Dru's cure was located there, so he went for a recon to that little, dead-boring town. Last time he had visited it, a year ago, the place gave him creeps: local teenagers were crazy for Spice Girls, Angel had been waiting for a Slayer's arrival (apparently, he still remembered Spike's promise to give him first crack at her), and the Master had been making plans to build a factory. A factory! Spike tried to explain to the old bugger that the Industrial Revolution had been over two centuries ago, but the pillock refused to listen. Okay, maybe Spike shouldn't have called him pillock and old bugger in the presence of his minions...
He stopped, distracted by the Master's minions, Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg, who were playing with a pretty girl in a shiny blue dress. It looked like fun.
"We have to find Buffy Summers!" the girl in a shiny dress screeched. "She'll figure out a way to save us! She was supposed to be here and - as much as it kills me to say it - things were better when she was around!"
"Buffy?" Harris sounded surprised. "The Slayer?"
"No, Buffy the Dog Faced Girl!" the girl snapped. "Duh! Who do you think I'm talking about?
Spike pricked up his ears. The Slayer? Spike hasn't met one for twenty-two years. Hopefully this new one was a good dancer...
"Bored now," Rosenberg snickered. "This is the part that's less fun, when there isn't any screaming." She grinned and licked Harris' cheek.
He nuzzled her. "Not that I don't appreciate your appetite, Will... But I thought we agreed it was my turn- "
The girl in a shiny dress was aghast. "No. No way! I wished us into bizarro land and you guys are still together?"
Spike grinned. That was funny - but it wasn't fair that Harris was getting all the fun. Spike strolled up to them and winked at the girl. "I can bet, luv, that they won't stay together even for a century. Trust me, I know about relationships."
"Spike," the girl said, confused. "Did you bang Xander's head with a microscope in this dimension, too? 'Cause that could explain..."
Okay, that sounded weird. Even for Sunnydale.
But, of course, Spike couldn't miss such a great opportunity to annoy Harris. The boy was such a cute and easy target. "Not yet - but I like the idea about banging. Although I wouldn't call my tool a microscope... What's your name, pet?"
"You don't remember me? But of course, you don't. I'm Cordelia. Cordelia Chase."
Spike gave the girl an appreciative glance. "You look smashing, Luv."
She automatically flashed a megawatt smile that made the pretty pendant on her neck sparkle. Or maybe it was a hallucination. Spike blinked, trying to remember how much he had been drinking. Then he resolutely tore the pendant off Cordelia's neck and pocketed it. "Dru might love your trinket..."
Willow Rosenberg snickered. "Your nutso girlfriend is still alive? Hard to believe."
It took Spike a lot of effort not to snap her neck. "Her cure is hidden somewhere in Sunnydale and I came here to find it," he said through gritted teeth.
"You shouldn't come here, Spike," Harris said darkly.
"Like hell I shouldn't! I won't leave until I find a cure for Dru!"
"The Master has forbidden you from coming here."
"Bloody hell! Take me to him - I have to talk with the Big Boss of your little zoo."
"Don't you dare mock the Master!" Willow growled.
"Come on, Red - you call this mocking? I didn't even call him an old goat with little shriveled balls..."
Rosenberg charged at Spike, furious, and tried to claw his eyes out. Harris made a half-hearted attempt to stop her, but she pushed him away.
None of them paid attention to the screech of brakes. Only when a van stopped nearby, and a man with a crossbow ordered Cordelia to get in, the three vampires came to their senses. But it was too late. The van melted into the darkness, with the girl inside it.
"We lost her because of you, Spike!" Rosenberg hissed. "Bastard!"
Spike rolled his eyes. "Sure. It's all my fault - I'm so sexy you two always jump my bones and forget about your other toys!"
Harris looked at him darkly. "Spike - I do hope you'll meet The Slayer."
"Or, rather, the sharp end of her stake," Willow added.
Spike sighed. Why did people always blame him for everything? He had just come here to help Dru. The Master has to appreciate it - the old bugger always cared about family values. And Darla, as bitchy as she has always been, had a lot of fondness for Dru - especially when the latter had been inventing new ingenious methods of mayhem and torture...
Yet Darla was far from happy when Spike entered the Master's lair, escorted by Xander and Willow. Spike could smell anger and frustration coming from her in waves.
"Why have you brought this scoundrel here?" she asked with disgust.
"I'm glad to see you too, great-granny." Spike sneered. "After all, I'm not a stranger - I'm family!"
"You're worse than a stranger, Spike," the Master screeched, appearing from the shadows. "Go away to wherever you came from or else I'll put you in the prison cage next to Angelus!"
"You keep Pathetic Poof in a cage? Why? Because he hadn't satisfied the appetite of your mutual girlfriend? Or, on the contrary, had satisfied her too well? He's quite talented..."
Darla backhanded him furiously and he fell into the corner, roaring with laughter.
"One more word - and I sprinkle you with holy water!"
"I appreciate your love for sadomasochistic tricks, dear great-grandmum." Spike leered. "That's why Peaches is in the cage? Or what?"
"He's still possessed with a soul," she admitted reluctantly.
"I see," Spike nodded. "Feeding on rats and helping the losers is truly an incurable case. And, talking about cures and medicine - I know for sure that the cure for Drusilla's ailment is located here. So," he smiled disarmingly. "I came for your help."
The Master grabbed Spike by his throat and slammed him against the wall.
"This is my final warning, Spike," he hissed. "The last time you came here your drunken antics wrecked our celebration of the Night of Saint Vigeous. You dusted The Annointed One, your damned car ruined the factory gates..."
"It was an accident..."
"Shut up and listen! This is my city. You don't belong here. Nobody's gonna help you with your crazy ideas. I'm opening the Factory tomorrow and I don't want you to ruin everything - again!"
"But it's about family..." Spike croaked.
"Exactly. You're not dust only because you're family. To my deepest shame and regret."
The Master hurled Spike out of the room and spat in his direction.
"Harris, make sure he has left and lock the main entrance," he said.
"Bloody hell! Sun's up in a few minutes!" Spike cried indignantly. "You can't throw me out like this..." But the Master has already slammed the door in his face. "Bugger."
Thankfully, Xander Harris had owed him a couple of bucks ever since they'd celebrated the Night of Saint Vigeous with a bottle of single malt scotch, during Spike's last visit. Now, he insisted on returning the debt. The boy was too scrupulous for a vampire. Or maybe he was just in the mood to talk. He led Spike to his lair and they spent the day drinking and debating the finer philosophical points of life, such as if an insane sadistic girlfriend who talked to stars and dolls was worse than a perfectly sane sadistic girlfriend, like Willow Rosenberg, who spent days with her new puppy, poking him with cigarette butts and sharp objects. Spike vaguely remembered that after the fifth bottle of bourbon they had had a little brawl and after the sixth one they somehow cross-switched their opinions - but the rest was lost in a pleasant drunken stupor.
When he woke up, he was alone, sore and hung over. All the bottles were empty, except one, where he found a paltry half-swig of bourbon. How nice of Harris to tease him with a few drops of his only salvation... Cursing, Spike rose and staggered out of the lair in search of a new bottle of bourbon.
After some meandering, the empty bottle still in his hand, he found himself in the main area of the Factory where the Master's minions were finishing work on the blood-processing plant.
"Guys," Spike moaned. "My kingdom for a swig of bourbon!"
''Piss off, Spike," one minion snarled.
"The Master has strictly forbidden us from giving you any treats," the second minion added.
"Old wanker," Spike grumbled. "He'll regret it..."
The rest was a matter of improvisation. Spike even didn't know why his hands pulled the cork out of the bottle and drove it into some tailpipe-looking hole in the processing plant.
He looked around. The minions hadn't noticed his evil little deed.
"Hey, mate", he asked the minion. "Does this thing run on electricity?"
"Nope, gasoline. Thank Devil we managed to convince the Master that manual pumps are a bit outdated..."
Spike left the main area in an upbeat mood. If only he could come up with one more nasty trick on the Master, his night would be made completely.
Whistling the tune to 'My Way', he loitered about the factory until he found Angel. Locked in a cage, chained, beaten and bleeding, but in one piece. It was definitely Spike's day.
"Angelus!" Spike chuckled. "Your perverse threesome games with Darla and the Master have reached a new level of ingenuity!"
The Great Ponce winced. "Spike? What are you... um, yes. They've forgotten about me during their frolics... Unchain me - I'm tired of sitting here."
This could turn out even more interesting that he anticipated. Spike propped up the wall with his shoulder and put his hands into pockets. "So... you and Darla and the Master. What about your soul, Peaches? Doesn't your shiny immortal soul protest against sharing your woman with an old ugly bugger?"
Angel glared at Spike and turned away. Spike sighed. The idiot was suicidal. Again. It was no fun at all.
"What do you want, Spike? Go away".
"Maybe I want to save you," Spike said, smiling sweetly. "Maybe I decided to play for the good guys team. Maybe I want to save puppies and help damsels in distress".
"Seriously. Dru is sick and the cure is here, in Sunnyhell. I need help and all Mr. Skin-and-Skeleton cares about is his sodding factory. He doesn't give a piss about family".
Angel nodded, wincing. "The Master wants to keep up with the times - hence trail-blazing century-old technology. Listen, Spike." Angel looked him in the eye. "I won't lie that I know about the cure for Dru. But I promise to help if you let me out."
The pillock was such an easy mark. Spike made a skeptical face. "Swear that you won't try to dust me."
Angel sighed. "I swear."
"Swear to treat me with respect and to reply "yes, sir" when I talk to you."
"Screw you, Spike!"
"Don't get excited. Just kidding. Swear that you won't be listening Barry Manilow in my presence."
"Okay", Angel sighed. "And Spike... could you abstain from the Ramones for a while?"
Spike grunted something unintelligible as he kicked the door. The lock cracked with a screech. Spike swaggered into the cage and winced as he saw Angel's wounds up close.
"Darla decorated you with sinisterly attractive burns."
"Not her." Angel groaned painfully. "It's Willow... the Master's new pet... worthy of his notice..."
"Oh - that girl is quite talented." With an effort Spike broke Angel's handcuffs. "By the way, she tried to jump my bones yesterday. If I wasn't in love with Dru..."
"Oh, sure. I'd forgotten that Dru is your destiny," Angel grumbled, rubbing his wrists.
Spike bristled. "Yes, she's my destiny! There is no woman more beautiful than Dru!"
"Buffy..." Angel whispered, looking behind him. "Buffy Summers..."
Spike whirled around. A blonde girl was standing at the entrance of the cage. She looked yummy and smelt of power and curiosity. Buffy Summers? The name sounded familiar...
"You know my name?" she asked Angel suspiciously.
"I waited. I waited here for you. But you never... I was supposed to help you. I kept hoping - maybe you'd come. My destiny."
The girl frowned. "Is this a "get in my pants" thing? You Sunnydale guys all talk like I'm the second coming."
Spike giggled involuntarily. "Peaches has always been the drama queen. Don't get excited, pet - I don't give a piss about you."
Buffy Summers looked at him with open hostility. "Mutual. I'm looking for the Master."
Spike leered. "The old bugger? You're quite a perv. A little tip, pet: don't bother him today. He'll be mightily pissed off after his precious opening ceremony is ruined..." Suddenly it struck him. "Peaches, are you sure that this destiny chick wouldn't tattle on us to the old bugger? Because I'm not in the mood to snap her pretty neck."
"Tattle about what?" Buffy Summers asked impatiently. Apparently, Spike's promise to snap her neck hasn't scared her in the least. Weird chick.
"Peaches, who's this bird and what she's doing here?"
"Buffy Summers is the Slayer," Angel said gloomily. "The Powers That Be sent me to Sunnydale to help her. I waited here for her arrival..."
But of course! That girl in the shiny dress, Cordelia - she was talking about the Slayer named Buffy Summers! Spike looked at her with a renewed interest. "Has been a long time since I met a Slayer".
She rolled her eyes. "Great - another "get in my pants" thing. Could you just explain why the ceremony will be ruined?"
Spike gave her a conspiratorial wink. "Because their buggering processing plant will blow up as soon as it starts working".
"The engine works on gasoline and I corked up the exhaust".
"Oh," Buffy Summers said vaguely. Obviously engineering stuff was way beyond her grasp.
Angel slowly rose to his feet, staggering. Bastard looked worse for wear - but his sorry state didn't prevent him from criticizing Spike's actions. "Are you sure you corked up the right pipe?"
Spike leered. "Wanna check it?"
"Of course we have to check," Buffy Summers said with authority. "If your plan fails, the Master will kill all those people within the next few hours."
Spike didn't even have time to get surprised that his little prank had been promoted to the status of 'plan'.
"Show us the way." Angel said.
Bossy idiot. Spike rolled his eyes. "Are you crazy? You're hardly standing on your feet! Want to end up behind bars again?"
"Come to think of it, chains and handcuffs go with brooding so well..."
"I can call Rosenberg and ask her to bring more candles and cigarettes..."
Buffy Summers grabbed him and pinned against a wall. "Where is the plant?"
Damn, the girl was really strong. He tried to break free, but she twisted his arm in a vicious grip. He could feel her hot breath as she whispered in his ear, "If you don't do what I say, I swear I'll feed you your own testicles..."
Spike looked at her with appraisal - the girl was quite ingenious in her torture methods. Unfortunately, her next threat was drowned in the thunder of an explosion. The dust from the ceiling made Buffy Summers sneeze loudly, but she still held Spike in her iron grip. Apparently, she liked it.
He grinned triumphantly. "You still want to check the plant, Slayer?"
She slammed him against the wall one more time and let him go. She was breathing hard, and he could smell her anger and arousal. He hoped the scent was strong enough to cover the smell of his own excitement - but a look at Angel's face proved it wasn't.
It was one of the worst days in the career of Rupert Giles.
The day had started with a late night-cum-early morning patrol during which he saved Cordelia Chase from a group of vampires. Within the next hour he was forced to listen to her complaints about everything in Sunnydale, especially men, clothes and shoes. On top of it all, Cordelia announced that all the misfortunes and catastrophes in Sunnydale happened because of the absence of the Slayer Buffy Summers.
Theoretically, her absurd claim could have been a result of the shock. But the current Slayer's name really was Buffy Summers - therefore, Cordelia could be telling the truth. Theoretically.
There was only one way to check her crazy theory. Giles called the Cleveland affiliation of the Watcher's Council, listened patiently to all the bile Travers has accumulated since their last conversation and then asked to assign Buffy Summers to Sunnydale for a few days.
Surprisingly, Travers agreed.
The Slayer arrived in Sunnydale in record-breaking time, but her presence hadn't improved the situation by one iota. Instead of helping Giles in solving the mystery of the parallel universe, Buffy traded a couple of barbs with Cordelia and set off for a suicide mission at the Factory, leaving Giles with pissed off Cordelia, who switched to criticizing Giles' modus operandi.
"Why do you let that bitch boss you around? Aren't you a Watcher? What are you doing in Sunnydale if the Council and the Slayer live and work in Cleveland? Warming the bench?"
Giles glared at Cordelia, but his glare didn't impress her at all.
"The Council sent me here two years ago," he said, resigned. "A number of manuscripts indicate that an important event will take place here soon. I must witness the phenomenon."
He brightened, despite himself. "I'm not absolutely positive about the details of the translation, but the gist is that three true champions will be reunited in Sunnydale at the brink of the new millenium."
"Three champions?" Cordelia perked up. "You have championships here? What kind of championships? Baseball? Basketball? Damn, I so need a new dress and a pair of decent shoes..."
Giles coughed. "Ms. Chase, I'm afraid you didn't understand. Champions as in "fighters for a noble cause".
Cordelia looked deeply disappointed. "Oh, those types... They're usually arrogant, holier-than-thou and incredibly boring..."
The library door opened with a bang. Buffy crossed the threshold followed by two strangers.
"Come in, guys", she said, throwing her crossbow into the corner. "The bookworm is Rupert Giles, the vampire bait is Cordelia. So, Giles - have you found anything useful about the Master in your books?"
"Not yet," Giles murmured. "Buffy, may I ask you who these two... gentlemen are?"
"Angel and Spike, the two most ruthless vampires in history," Cordelia said quickly. "At least that's what they are in my universe".
Buffy Summers gave her companions an apologetic glance.
"She came from a wrong alternative universe," she explained to them. "Relax, Cordelia - in this universe they are good guys who fight against vampires".
The taller stranger, Angel, coughed discreetly. The shorter one, Spike, smirked.
"Miss Alternative Universe is totally right. At least about me. Yes, I am the most ruthless vampire in the history of mankind. Actually, Peaches used to ascribe that title to himself, but for the last hundred years he hasn't liked to boast about his earlier feats..."
"Shut up, Spike" Angel growled.
"See? He's so modest he makes me cry..."
Giles stared at them, mesmerized and horrified. He recognized them as soon as Cordelia mentioned their names. The old daguerreotypes he had seen years ago in the Academy perfectly reflected Angelus' broody scowl and William the Bloody's maniacal glee. Giles slowly stepped back, trying to shield Cordelia, snatched the unloaded crossbow from the table and blindly patted the surface for arrows.
"We came to help you," Angel murmured, looking daggers at Spike.
"No, it's you who came to help them," Spike countered. "I came to find the cure for Drusilla".
"We must help people first."
"The hell we do! You're a bloody hero, Batman 2.0 - you'd work for them for a tube of hair gel! And then they'll dust you instead of saying 'thanks'. Just look at this maniac with the crossbow - he'll be hating your guts no matter what you do."
"Mr. Giles, would you mind putting down your crossbow?" Angel said. "Apparently, it makes Spike nervous."
"Buffy - could you explain?.."
She rolled her eyes. "Relax, Giles, they're our allies. These guys also have a grudge against the Master. Together we have better chances against him."
"But it's unprecedented! Don't you realise the risk you're exposing all of us to?"
"Don't sweat," Buffy said smugly. "I can do both of them".
"I bet you'll like it, baby!" Off her glare Spike stuck out his tongue at everyone present. Then he dropped into the chair Giles had occupied a few minutes ago and put his feet on Watcher's table. "You're incredibly lucky you've met me. I'm the Master's direct descendant and his best friend. I can easily enter his lair. You know, I always dreamed about dusting the wanker but couldn't find an appropriate occasion."
"What about his minions?" Buffy asked.
"Pfft, minions! As soon as he's dust in the wind, Darla and Willow will immediately start clawing each other's eyes out. And the rest will run away".
"We don't need them to run away", Giles said. "We need them dusted".
"Whatever. The little details are up to you."
"The worst plan I ever heard," Angel said glumly. "The Master hates you. Do you really think he'll allow you to get closer than ten feet to him?"
"He'll get close himself when I start telling him about the ways his precious Darla satisfies her sexual appetites."
Angel snorted. "You think you know what you're talking about".
"But you'll enlighten me, won't you? In the interests of our mission. Don't tell me you don't want to poke the old bugger with a stake."
"You can't bring a stake into his quarters," Giles said. "They search everybody who visits the Master".
"I'll put the stake into my jeans." Spike smirked. "Both Harris and Rosenberg have already tried to slip their prying, grabby hands into my pants so they know that there is a big fat stake in there!"
Giles blinked. The situation was quickly becoming more and more surreal. "Spare me the details."
"Hey, Watcher, you asked, I answered. Now, what I need in return is some information. You've got a good library here..."
"I'm not going to help vampires," Giles said flatly. "I can't be sure you're not planning anything evil."
"Come on, Watcher! I just need to find a cure for my girlfriend!"
"It's true", Angel said. "Spike and planning are unmixy. I'll watch him to make sure he doesn't do anything nasty".
Giles cast him a doubtful glance.
"Who'll watch you, Angel?"
Cordelia raised her hand.
"Actually... in my universe Angel is a good guy. He has a soul. Do you have a soul here?"
Angel nodded without raising his eyes.
"Could we check it?" Cordelia inquired. "Make some tests? Blood samples? Anything?"
Buffy glared at her.
"Master was keeping Angel in a cage and his minions tortured him!" she said. "You need more proof?"
"There is a very good method of telling a souled Peaches from an unsouled one," Spike declared. "Our souled Peaches is always broody and morose. If you see a smile on his face, beware - he might lose his soul! But, as long as he's all gloomy and sullen, you're safe. Now, Watcher use your library to find me either a Russelheim compendium..."
Giles shook his head. "The only existing copy is kept in the Watcher's Council's Headquarters".
''Then find me Laforgue's Codex".
"As far as I know the last copy was lost about half a century ago".
"Bloody hell! Well, if you haven't really good stuff, just give me a collection of Du Lac's rituals".
Angel chose a strategic position at the door so that he could always keep Spike in his sight. While Giles was rummaging through his books, Angel watched his childe going through Giles's desk. Angel could smell his frustration and impatience and something else - curiosity? interest? pain?
"Where did you leave Dru?"
"She liked LA", Spike replied absent-mindedly. "Archduke Sebassis agreed to give her shelter for a while. Dru had predicted that his fate will be closely related to the one of the Aurelian vampires. He was touched."
Spike snorted. "Then she told me that the pixies promised her Sebassis' death from an Aurelian's hand. Thank God she was lucid enough to keep that tidbit between her and me. I swore to her I didn't plan to kill Sebassis but she only smiled and sang lullabies to Miss Edith..." Spike finished rummaging through Giles' drawers and stamped his foot in frustration. "I could swear that the Watcher had a bottle of brandy stashed here and was taking swigs pretty regularly." He frowned, thinking hard. "What if I drank from him? His blood has enough alcohol to freshen the nip..."
"Spike I believe we've got an agreement..."
"Don't get your knickers in a twist, princess! I'd just take a couple of swigs. I need him to translate Du Lac's rituals."
"Okay, okay, I just have to find that damn bottle..."
Giles delicately coughed behind his back.
"Sorry to disappoint, Spike - but I finished the last one just before your arrival and right now my alcohol resources are zero. That's Bad News Number One. Bad News Number Two is that the Du Lac rituals are coded."
Spike glanced at the page full of cryptic signs and shifted impatiently. "How much time do you need to decode them?"
"The book is said to contain rituals and spells that reap unspeakable evil. I can't do it without the key. Ancient sorcerers often coded secret messages with unusually-shaped objects with holes inside them. To decode you should read only the letters in the holes. Without the key it's gibberish".
Spike rolled his eyes.
"To sum it up, you all are absolutely useless wankers. I was ready to renounce all my principles... actually, I don't have principles, but that's another matter. And what do I get in return? Neither bourbon nor medicine for Dru."
Spike gave them a mock salute and made his way to the door. "See you in another half-a-century, Peaches."
Angel watched him go with the mix of regret and relief. Of course, Spike was the only one of them who could find a way to get to the Master - but Spike's departure would make his life much more easy and pleasant.
But, obviously, Buffy had another opinion. "Where are you going, Spike?"
"Luv, I'm sorry to leave you in such a boring company, but my Drusilla is waiting for me. When you'll be dusting the Old Goat with Shriveled Privates, send him my regards. Hopefully he'll appreciate it... What?"
Buffy blocked the entrance and looked at him challengingly.
"You won't go anywhere until the Master is dust".
Spike smirked. "Baby, don't make me hurt you, because I'm hardly in the mood..."
Buffy clocked him in the nose and before he could regain his composure, she punched him again in the stomach.
"Giles, can we lock your cage?" she asked, nodding towards bars in the corner.
Giles blinked perplexedly. "Actually, it's not a cage - it's a repository for the most important and valuable books I keep in the library. I doubt it's wise to..."
"Give me the lock!" Before Spike could react, Buffy hurled him into the cage and locked the door.
"Oh, poor Dru!" she exclaimed gleefully. "She misses her little blonde Spikey so much! How could you make your girl suffer, you naughty creature of the night! Your poor, poor princess... maybe she'll become the arch-duchess by the time you find her!"
Spike roared with frustration and charged the bars with such force that the door of the cage almost came off the hinges. Buffy raised her stake defiantly and Giles started to load the crossbow with trembling hands.
Angel sighed. Instead of becoming easier, his life was quickly becoming more and more complicated.
"Spike, stop it," he said. "Buffy could we have a couple of words in private?"
Buffy snorted but followed him into the empty corridor.
"What?" she said impatiently when they reached the corner.
"It's no use locking up Spike. I know him very well. He's my childe".
Buffy raised her eyebrows questioningly.
"I'm his sire. Actually, I'm his grand-sire, because I sired Drusilla and she sired Spike, but that's irrelevant. What I want to say is that we spent more than twenty years together. And I know Spike very well. We had our share of quarrels and brawls. Spike is as stubborn as a mule. You can bend him but you can't break the bastard".
Buffy glared. "Really? Because I have a plan. Take a kettle-ful of holy water. Unzip Spike's pants. Get the idea or do I need to spell it out to you?"
Angel sighed. Not that he couldn't relate to her frustrations - but the girl's acute interest in Spike's genitals was disturbing.
Giles' heart-wrenching screams spared them from further debates on the delicate subject.
"This scoundrel wants to burn my books!" Giles shouted. "It's the 'Codex of Cryptic Signs and Symbols'. First edition! It's priceless! It gets clues and tips to the most important mysteries of the universe".
"That's fantastic!" Spike clicked his lighter and tore off a page of the book. "Let us see which mysteries will stay unsolved till the end of the world..." Spike laughed as the flames started licking the bottom of the page. "The spirit of Krivoklat castle, the gold of Templieres, the code of Du Lac..."
"What?" Giles said, bewildered.
"What?" Spike echoed. "Bleeding bloody hell!" He dropped the page and stomped on it furiously.
Buffy giggled, watching his grotesque dance macabre. Spike glared at her and picked up the slightly charred sheet. "It says that Du Lac's rituals can be decoded with the cross of Du Lac," he said through clenched teeth. "The cross is hidden in his crypt on the Field of Rest at the entrance to the Mouth of Hell."
"Thank you, Spike," Giles said mildly. "I think The Field of Rest implies Restfield Cemetery, two blocks from here."
Spike smirked. "The book also says the rituals will be decoded by a Watcher who'll die a painful death before the end of the millennium and won't be able to find out that "Manchester United" won the Champions League."
"I appreciate your sparkling humor, Spike, but I'm a fan of Arsenal," Giles replied coldly. "Anyway, thanks for the idea".
"What idea?" Spike asked suspiciously.
"The idea for keeping us safe from you".
Giles brought several candles, a jar with some magic stuff and an old book. "The Pasificarre Spell is fine. It is relatively simple, it will prevent you from harming humans. But you'll still be able to harm demons so you can find consolation in dusting the Master."
"Don't you dare, Watcher..." Spike growled. "Angel?! You'd let this bastard steal my demon essence?"
"I think it's the best decision in the current situation," Angel murmured gloomily. "Because I don't want to dust you, Spike".
"And I want to dust him!" Buffy pouted. "Giles, promise to give him back his demon essence after we finish the Master - I want to have a big fat reason to dust this jerk".
Spike bared his fangs.
"Slayer, I have already slayed two of your kind, but your neck will be the most precious prize in my Slayer collection!"
Ignoring them, Giles lit the candles. "To be honest, I'd feel much safer if you underwent the same spell," he told Angel. "But I need somebody to control these two. Without you they'd be at each other's throats in no time at all."
Angel nodded. He desperately needed a swig of good Irish whiskey.
Angel felt almost happy. Every punch and every kick made him feel less cranky. Every dusted fledge made their bourbon expedition fiasco less frustrating.
Of course, if he'd set out to Du Lac's crypt alone, he could easily have made a small detour and slipped through the back door of Willy's bar unnoticed. But Giles insisted that he should take Spike with him and Angel could hardly blame him.
Poor Watcher. As soon as his spell took Spike's ability to cause physical pain to humans, the bastard switched to moral torture. Soon everybody in the library was aware of Arsenal's awful strategy in the current season and the team's hopeless position on European football charts. When Angel saw that Giles was close to a stroke, he reluctantly agreed to take Spike to search the crypt of Du Lac, and Buffy immediately expressed her desire to accompany them - because, you know, somebody had to keep an eye on those two vampire defectors.
Keeping an eye turned into another piss-off contest. Football rants gave place to mutual menaces full of vague sexual innuendos. Buffy was gleefully explaining to Spike that if she were Drusilla, she'd have ditched Spike many years ago, while Spike was promising to make the Slayer's neck his personal chalice which he'd drink deep as soon as Giles - that miserable fan of the most lacklustre football team in the world - caved in under Spike's football tortures and gave him back his glorious vampire essence.
They were close to Willy's bar when their noisy bickering attracted the attention of a group of vampires. Angel immediately realized the unpleasant consequences of the encounter: if the Master found out that Spike was socializing with Angel and the Slayer, he'd never let Spike approach him anymore. Obviously Buffy figured it out too.
"Ten of them - three of us", she whispered. "We get scared and run away. They follow us. We lead them away to the cemetery and dust them there."
"What?" Spike bristled. "Run away from these pillocks?"
"You want them to tattle to the Master about seeing you with us?"
Spike growled but complied. He made an attempt to retreat with dignity, facing the enemy so that it looked like he was covering Angel and Buffy's escape - but he tripped, almost fell and, cursing, ran away after them.
Buffy's plan worked - the Master's minions rushed after the Slayer and her companions. Angel knew Sunnydale well enough to lead them to the nearest cemetery where the trio got the perfect opportunity to vent off their frustrations on the vampires who had the misfortune to get in their way.
Dusting the next fledge, Angel suddenly realized that Buffy has already finished off her opponents and was listening worriedly to the sounds of punches behind the crypt where Spike was fighting two or three vampires at once.
"Maybe we should help him? Not that I care - but if they dust him, we say goodbye to our plans..."
"Don't worry, he's just playing. He could easily dust them if he wanted to. But he needs to pour out his aggression. Maybe he'll be quieter for a while after that. I really need a break from his antics."
"He can get rid of the aggression in a fight?" Buffy sighed. "Lucky bastard! When I'm fighting I'm only getting worked up."
She looked at Angel appreciatively.
He caught her glance, felt a sudden rush of blood in his loins and tried to hide his embarrassment. "You may be right", he murmured, twiddling his stake nervously. "We should help this moron..."
He hadn't ended the phrase as Buffy's hungry lips were upon his mouth. "He'll deal", she breathed between kisses. "He's okay".
Angel involuntarily moaned with pleasure as her tongue started exploring his mouth. His reaction stirred her up - she jumped on him, enveloping him in her smell. My destiny, he thought, giddy with sudden rapture. My destiny...
"The crypt", she whispered, clinging to him possessively. "Check the door..."
The crypt was comfy and empty. Well, marginally comfy and almost empty. Some critters in the corner - either rats or demons of small variety - gave frightened squeaks and rushed into the creak under the sarcophagus at the sight of a weird beast with two backs. Angel tried to disengage from Buffy's embraces, but she flung him onto the sarcophagus and jumped on him. He felt her hot hands unzipping his pants and acute desire eclipsed all rational thoughts. He closed his eyes and lost himself in the sweet intoxication of this girl who smelled of fights, desperation and insatiable lust for life...
...To protect, to worship, to help, Angel thought as he was hugging sated and utterly spent Buffy, caressing her small perky breasts. To be hers completely, without restraints, to love her with all his soul - isn't it the greatest bliss imaginable? the ultimate pure and unadulterated happ...
Loud, insistent banging on the door interrupted his train of thoughts.
"Hey, Peaches! I love the smell of a thoroughly shagged out vampire in the morning!"
The moment of pure and unadulterated happiness was irrevocably lost. A dozen of the most intricate Irish curses flashed in Angel's mind as he jumped on one foot, shoving his other leg into his pants, as Spike swaggered into the crypt with a shit-eating grin on his face.
"You're a pig, Spike!" Buffy murmured, zipping her jeans.
"If I'm a pig, you're the dirt I'd love to wallow in." Spike waggled his tongue lasciviously. "So - have you found the cross?"
Buffy glared. "Have those vampires beaten the last remains of your brain out of your thick skull? The cross is hidden in Du Lac's crypt..."
"Has Peaches screwed the last remains of your brains out of your cute ass, Slayer?" Spike sneered. "This is Du Lac's crypt. And I thought it was the usual slayer way - to combine business with pleasure..."
Angel turned away and started exploring the crypt's wall. No way was he letting Spike push his buttons. He, Angel, was sane enough to ignore those heated debates behind his back - debates about vampires' ability to think with their penises, about slayers who love to jump undead bones, and that being a bloodsucker must suck. Somebody had to keep his head clear.
Thankfully, he quickly discovered a panel in the wall, and behind it - a big silver crucifix peppered with small holes.
"If you finished with your insults, we should go back. I think that's what we need".
"Let the Watcher figure it out," Spike grumbled. "If that's not the cross we need, he can come here himself to look for the right one. And take the Slayer with him - after all, Englishmen need to shag from time to time too... ouch!"
Buffy rubbed her knuckles.
"Is he always such a pig?" she asked Angel.
"Worse", he replied tersely.
"Oh. That might be my beneficial influence".
Next: Part 2. In which our intrepid hero outsmarts the Master, gets a taste of Buffy and acquires a soul.