Part 2. In which our intrepid hero outsmarts the Master, gets a taste of Buffy and acquires a soul.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss - everybody but brothers Gorch whom he gakked from Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch".
Timeline: "The Wish", Cordelia's alternate reality.
Summary: What if Spike was there too?
"I hope you're kidding," Giles said with a wretched smile.
Cordelia's story sounded very weird from the very beginning. A demon who grants wishes, has created this whole universe? And in an alternate dimension Buffy Summers lived in Sunnydale? And he was...
"I'm absolutely serious!" Cordelia exclaimed. "In my universe you're Buffy's Watcher."
"And I'm still alive and sane and haven't ended up on a funny farm?"
Cordelia smiled magnanimously.
"You're still alive and sane, you drink considerably less and you don't wear that awful sweater. Our world is totally different. For one thing, Angel wore leather pants and eyeliner for a while."
Off Giles' look, she shrugged. "Yeah, I was also amazed that he got that liner perfectly straight. I mean, even I need a mirror."
Giles cleared his throat, a bit put off at the whole idea. "There was no reason he started dressing like Alice Cooper?"
"Well, duh. He went evil, of course. Everywhere I went, I was worried he could jump out at me. You can't believe the worry lines I developed. I had to redo my whole facial routine to make sure there was no permanent damage."
"So, Angel developed a fixation with you?" Giles was more and more confused by the second. He wondered if anyone would notice if he had a small nip - he had a secret stash even Spike couldn't smell.
"Not exactly," Cordelia allowed. "More like a general fixation with killing, torture and the entire script of Blair Witch."
"Good lord. But I thought you said he was a souled vampire in your dimension and was on the side of good."
"He was. Is. But he did the horizontal tango with Buffy and that wrenched his soul loose. Goodbye Sartre, hello Hannibal Lecter."
"You know who Sartre was?" Giles said, impressed.
She snorted. "Why does everyone say that? I did very well on my SATs."
"Tell me more about such weird interdependence..."
Giles looked away. "Angel sleeping with Buffy and losing his soul."
"It's not an interdependence, it's a Gypsy curse", Cordelia explained. "You know, you, Europeans, are so foolish and egotistical. Can you imagine such stupidity? As soon as sexy yummy guy sleeps with the girl he loves, he turns into a beast, tortures you, kills the woman you love..."
She cut herself short. Giles looked at her perplexedly. Apparently, the girl was hiding something.
"In your world Buffy had a woman she loved? She is bisexual there?"
Cordelia rolled her eyes.
"Giles, when I said "you" I meant... well... you. Personally".
Giles felt shivers running down his spine. "Angel tortured me? He killed my... Who was she?"
"Our computer teacher. Her name was Jenny Calendar. Does she exist in your universe?"
Giles shook his head.
"I don't know her. Hopefully she never arrived in Sunnydale. Or..."
"Or was killed before you met her".
"But in your world it was Angel who did it?"
"Angelus", Cordelia elaborated. "Soulless Angel calls himself Angelus. That's why I asked Angel if we could check the presence of his soul. Souled Angel is the most trustworthy guy on Earth."
"But if he sleeps with Buffy Summers?.."
"Exactly," Cordelia shuddered. "Giles, we have to warn them!"
Giles sighed. He couldn't just tell them "Don't have sex, because the consequences will be horrific!" Such warnings usually have the opposite effect.
"I know what we'll do!" Cordelia exclaimed. "We'll tell them that vampire/Slayer sex causes... for example, spontaneous combustion. Or, say, syphilis. Do vampires have syphilis?"
Giles thought it over.
"This occurrence has never been mentioned in the manuscripts I know, and I read the majority of the volumes in the Council's library..."
"That's great! If even you don't know anything about it, vampires don't have a clue either! I mean - they couldn't test it practically, could they?"
Giles averted his eyes.
"Actually... theoretically - only theoretically! - the opposites gravitate to each other..."
"But it's only theoretically."
"Well, it's a complicated matter." Giles felt he was blushing. "Some reports indicate that this theory may have been corroborated empirically..."
Cordelia looked exasperated.
"I haven't the least idea what you're talking about but, judging by your tone, you mean vampires had sex with Slayers in the past. And vampires may know that it doesn't result either in syphilis or in combustion."
Giles nodded morosely.
"What a pity! It was such a good idea. So, how do we warn them?"
"Warn about what?"
Giles turned around and saw Angel entering the library. He was smiling, although Buffy and Spike were in their usual fighting mood. "Slayer, if I can't kill you it doesn't mean I won't ask Dru to twist your neck and pour me a cup of your smoking-hot blood..." - "Oh, Spike, I'm so afraid! I'm gonna faint! I'm gonna fall into your lustful vampire arms and put my poor Slayer neck under your lecherous vampire fangs..."
Giles sighed. These two hadn't killed each other yet.
"Er... Buffy... we need to talk."
She turned to him - flushed, angry, beautiful.
"Later!" she snapped.
"It's important. More important than your bickering with this bleached wonder".
"That true, Watcher?" Spike enquired. "Because the Slayer thinks I'm the main reason for all tribulations brought down upon humanity!"
Giles gave him no answer as he took Buffy's hand and lead her into his small study in the rear of his library.
"Buffy, there are new circumstances... regarding something you shouldn't do. Not that I think you will do it but... you know, just in case..."
As he was trying to find the right words to explain the circumstances, Cordelia joined them.
"Have you already told her?" she asked.
Giles blushed and shook his head.
"Well, I'm not sure... it's an absolutely improbable concourse of circumstances... Sorry, Buffy, I shouldn't have started this conversation".
The Slayer looked intrigued.
"Forget it, I'm just an old fool who's overreacting to... to..."
As Giles was trying to figure out if her reaction was an insult, Cordelia swiftly took the initiative in her hands.
"Buffy, you and Angel can't have sex".
"Cordelia", Giles murmured. "I hoped you could formulate it more delicately..."
"Calling myself an old fool? Not my style".
Buffy snorted. "What about calling yourself a snotty possessive bitch who claims every male who has the misfortune to be within her reach?"
"If Angel sleeps with you he'll lose his soul!" Cordelia snapped.
"Lose his... You think I'm so stupid I believe you?"
Cordelia rolled her eyes. "It has already happened in my universe. He slept with you and lost his soul. It's a Gypsy curse - his soul couldn't stand infinite happiness."
"So - what? He turned into a zombie with rotten flesh?"
"No, physically he was the same, even cooler. Leather pants and all. But he murdered a lot of people and then tried to end the world, so you had to send him to hell".
Several moments of dead silence were interrupted by Spike sardonic laugh.
"Wow, Cordy, that was inspired! Even I couldn't figure out such an ingenious ploy to keep the Slayer away from Peaches. But you missed the train."
"They already did the nasty".
Buffy snorted contemptuously.
"Ever the gentleman, Spike!"
"I am!" he countered. "I could have spoiled your fun, but I was keeping away from the crypt until you both got what you wanted. You even got it twice!"
"I don't believe him!" Cordelia declared. "If he was outside, he couldn't figure out when they... er... what was happening in the crypt!"
"Do you know about vampire hearing, baby?" he asked. "Do you know about vampire's smelling sense? I breathed in and swooned. Well, I figure Peaches finally seized a chance! You know, hundred years ago when I did my first Slayer, he was terribly jealous. I promised that next time I'd give him first crack, but it hadn't panned out. He wasn't even there so I had to proceed without him. But this time everything went just fine!"
"What went just fine?" enquired Angel as he entered, smiling. He inspected Spike's leer, Buffy and Cordelia's embarrassment, Giles frown. "What happened?"
"Angel, why are you smiling?" Cordelia asked, visibly upset.
Smile disappeared from Angel's face. Cordelia quickly stepped back and firmly positioned herself behind Buffy's back. "Spike says souled Angel never smiles", she whispered.
"Little correction: souled Angel smiles only after sex with the Slayer", Spike said matter-of-factly.
"Why should we believe you?" Giles asked.
"Only a complete moron won't be smiling after sex with the Slayer".
Buffy blushed furiously and raised her fist.
"Are you serious, Spike?" Cordelia exclaimed scornfully. "Sex with a girl who's all fists and stakes - how pleasant it could be?" She snorted. "I'm sure Slayer sex is highly overrated! Giles, you're an expert on Slayers - tell us if the Slayers really are so good at sex that it sends all men onto cloud nine! "
"I... I think we digress", he murmured. "First, we need to make sure Angel still has a soul".
Angel shrugged. "You're alive. It's the best proof".
Giles shook his head.
"He's right", Spike said. "He could enter through the back door - it opens with a single kick. If he was old bad Angelus, we'd be drinking the Slayer together now. You, Cordy, would've been tied up and left for tomorrow. And the wretched fan of Arsenal would have been dead and spared the humiliation of seeing his team on the last position in the championship charts!"
"You'd drain her today and me tomorrow?" she said indignantly. "What a bizarro world I ended up in!" She thought it over. "If this is a wrong universe, maybe your Gypsy curses are wrong too!"
Spike's eyes sparkled with glee. "Nope, it's the wrong Slayer", he declared. "She couldn't make Peaches infinitely happy! She was just a quick shag and nothing else... Ouch!"
"That's it, Spike! You're so dust!" Buffy clocked him, knocked him off his feet, straddled him and raised her stake.
Spike giggled lasciviously as Angel intervened and dragged the furious Slayer from his ne'er-do-well Childe. Giles wondered idly if the bulge in Spike's jeans was what he thought it was.
"We need him, Buffy," Angel muttered through clenched teeth. "Actually, we have to thank him for saving my soul. I have to admit that I was perilously close to perfect happiness when he burst into the crypt."
Giles looked at him sharply. An idea started forming in his head.
Buffy's eyes glinted mischievously. "Thank you, darling Spikey," she sing-songed. "Cavalry always arrives in time".
"Bloody hell!" Spike looked utterly repulsed by that thought. "You mean it's my fault that Peaches still has a soul?"
"Guys, I think we should start calling him the soul-keeper," Buffy went on, smiling sweetly. "What do you say, Giles? Spike the Soul Keeper sounds very ... Giles! Have you fallen asleep?"
"No." Giles stood up and raised his finger, calling to attention. "I think I know how you can penetrate the Master's den..."
"Yes, we all know. Spike the Soul Keeper puts a stake in his pants... "
"No - I mean there is a way for the three of you to get close to the Master - a way I haven't thought of beforehand..."
"I don't like your tone of voice, Giles. Is it something nasty?"
"Well, it's a bit... unconventional."
"Time to tie you up, Pet!" Spike declared cheerfully. "Don't look at me like this, Slayer - I know you love bondage".
Buffy glared. "Shove your stake deeper in your pants, moron, it sticks up like... like... Angel, tell him..."
"Things in my pants tend to stick up." Spike smirked. "Oi, Slayer, what are you doing? You like to touch me, eh? Impressive, isn't it?"
To say that Buffy disliked Giles' plan would have been an understatement. She hated it with a fiery passion of a thousand suns. All the way to the Factory she was explaining why the plan sucked and how many innocent people would die because of Giles' reckless decision to entrust their destinies into Spike's grabby dirty hands. Spike regularly added to her frustrations with
"Yeah, Slayer, I wanna shag you too" type of comments. By the time they reached the Factory Buffy was seething with rage.
"I'd love to see all this turning into dust!" Furious, she pushed the stake deeper in Spike's pants.
Angel coughed discreetly.
"Should I remind you that vampires have very good hearing?"
"But Spike's stake..." Buffy shut up as she heard approaching steps from behind the door. Spike pushed her and Angel behind the crates, and a moment later the door opened.
"What are you doing here, Spike?" Willow asked suspiciously.
"Hey, Red, happy to see you too! But I'll be twice as happy to see you without that skanky-ho costume. Care to shed it for me?"
Willow shot him a murderous glance. ''OK, that's it". She turned around to see Xander approaching.
"You really have a death wish, Spike, don't you?" he sighed. "The Master is in a very bad mood today. Do you know that his plant got blown up?.."
"That so?" Spike sounded genuinely surprised. "Poor old bugger. Well, I'm here to cheer him up!"
Willow snickered. "How? By self-dusting?"
"Wrong answer, but you have two more attempts..."
"By sucking his dick," Xander suggested.
"Your oral fixation always fascinates me, Harris..."
Watching them through the cracks in the сrates, Buffy tried not to move while Angel was tying her hands. The desire to intervene and to explain to Spike that he was an idiot was so strong that she literally had to bite her tongue. Why did this moron love to make people hate him? Buffy clenched her fists and nodded to Angel. He nodded back and stepped out of the crates, dragging Buffy on a rope around her wrists.
"Or, here you are, Peaches." Spike smirked. "Harris, Red - meet Angelus. Real, natural Angelus. Not a sissy named Angel."
Willow and Xander looked skeptical.
"I succeeded where your precious Master failed." Spike grinned, triumphant. "Our beloved Angelus is with us again. And he - I mean we - want to make peace with the Master by presenting him the bestest gift ever - a natural, beautiful, effulgent Slayer!"
"*The* Slayer. Vampire's worst nightmare."
"Whatever. So, guys, lead us to the Master quickly before we change our minds and drain her. She's quite a treat - isn't she, Angelus?"
Angel looked utterly bored.
"I'm here to talk to the Master, not to waste my time on his lackeys".
"You heard him".
"Not so quickly, bleached pest". Willow nodded to Xander. "Search them".
Buffy tensed when Xander was searching her. She tensed even more when he started checking Spike who immediately switched on his disgusting tease mode. Buffy looked at Spike's tongue and her desire to plunge a stake into that well-built body of his became almost unbearable.
"Wow, Harris". Spike grinned, tongue action ahoy. "Do I see a stake in your pants? Come here, boy, I want to fondle your thick manly stake..."
"Shut up, Spike", Xander said with noticeable difficulty.
Xander opened his mouth but couldn't utter a word. Spike pulled him in and gave him a fruity kiss.
"Pity you're on duty, Harris." He sighed - and he sounded sincere. "Oh, by the way, Red - do you like threesomes?"
Buffy couldn't tolerate it anymore. "You're a sick pervert, Spike! Loathsome, revolting creep who thinks with his penis! I swear I'll dust you as soon as I get free!"
"Promises, promises..." Spike sing-songed.
"...But first I'll pour a bottle of holy water into your pants and rip off your abominable tongue, and shove it into your ass, and make you eat it and... ouch!"
Willow backhanded her viciously.
"This bitch is quite inventive", she hissed. "Hopefully the Master will let me have a bit of fun with her."
And, without another word, Willow turned around and went inside, making a sign to the others to follow her. Buffy, fuming, slowly wiped a small trickle of blood under her nose. In a dimly lit corridor Spike snatched a moment to give her two thumbs up. She rolled her eyes.
In the next twenty minutes it took all Buffy's willpower not to repeat her eye-rolling as she listened to Spike's shameless bragging.
"It was just a piece of incredible luck! Could you imagine - I'm sitting at Willy's place and suddenly see two demons who I once met in Calcutta during my hippie period..."
Spike started talking even before they entered the Master's lair. He went on describing the lousy quality of Willy's bourbon, his "sodding punters" who never offer a drink to their buddies and Sunnydale's lousy state of affairs.
"How dare you step into my headquarters?" The Master finally looked up at him, saw Angel, saw the tied-up Buffy and changed his tone. "OK, talk. But any trickery and you'll be regretting it for a very long time."
"I never do anything I'll regret later," Spike declared proudly. "I always plan my actions carefully and think the consequences through. So. I told those demons about Angelus' problem. And it turned out they knew the remedy."
Spike made a dramatic pause during which Buffy finally realized the magnitude of humiliation that awaited her in the next few minutes.
"Sex with the Slayer!" Spike exclaimed happily.
"Sex with the Slayer?" Xander leered.
"Sex with the Slayer?" Willow repeated incredulously.
"Sex with the Slayer?" the Master scowled suspiciously.
"The most effective stuff." Spike was full of maniacal glee. "Combines business with pleasure, works quickly and safely, at the first attempt. Pity I don't have a soul. I'd love to use this medicine to get rid of it!"
"Sex with the Slayer", said Darla, who entered the room unnoticed. "How very convenient, with the Slayer visiting our town".
Buffy frowned. It wasn't going the way they expected. Willow and Xander weren't leaving the room and they were watching Buffy and Angel closely, while Darla blocked Spike's approach to the Master.
"Methinks little Willy is a big liar", she hissed menacingly. "Why don't I know about this remedy?"
"My friend is into rare books." Spike's face was the epitome of honesty. "He has the first print of K'gribp monograph "The Soul And How To Get Rid Of That Pest". Actually, there is a lot of ways to exterminate that muck. For humans, for example, the most effective way are the professions of executioner or TV producer. Demons need special spells and rituals. But vampire souls are very special. The only way to get rid of them is sex with the Slayer!"
"You're lying, Willy!" Darla declared. "I searched in the best libraries! I went to all sorcerers! I killed dozens of humans and demons who refused to cooperate! And I couldn't find anything even remotely helpful!"
Buffy tensed. The plan was falling apart right in front of her eyes. She openly glared at Spike, who giggled, clearly inspired by the opportunity to get as many people mad as possible.
"Come on, dear great-granny, we all know how painstaking your search was."
"What do you mean?"
"Puh-lease! Don't try to act like you're evil incarnate! You've always been prone to warm and fuzzy feelings towards our old buddy Angelus. You always wanted to have him all for yourself. You were jealous of me and Dru..."
"How dare you..."
"...and, as soon as our poor Angelus got that pesky soul, me and Dru suddenly became too evil for his tastes. From then on he belonged to you completely. Of course, he smelled of dumps and rats' blood - but you didn't have to share your treasure with anybody. You didn't give a damn about family!"
"Spike, stop it" Angel said evenly.
"Why? You've left us! You have no right to order me!"
"He's your grand-sire!" Darla exclaimed. "Angelus - make your whelp shut up!"
"Spike." Angel's tone was deadly cold. "Don't forget why we came here".
Buffy looked at Angel. His face was like stone but she noticed golden sparks in his eyes. It would be a hard task, to get to Spike's nose ahead of Angel...
Spike smirked at Darla.
"Sorry, great-granny. Of course, you did try to find a remedy. I just happened to be more lucky."
"And?" the Master inquired suspiciously. "You found the remedy but forgot to tell us?"
Spike snorted. "Imagine me coming here and telling you that Peaches has to shag the Slayer to get rid of the soul. As usual, Darla calls me a liar, as usual you take her side and poor Angelus stays soul-burdened forever."
"And even if you believe me, how would you make Peaches put it into the Slayer if he doesn't want it? He's not particularly good at it even when he wants it..."
"Spike!" Angel roared.
Buffy snuck a glance at Xander and Willow. They were still watching them closely.
Spike shrugged. "OK, long story short I came up with a brilliant plan. As soon as I found out about Slayer's arrival I went to Peaches and pretended that I was ready to help him in exchange for him helping me with Dru. And you know what? He believed me! That sucker Angel was such a moron!" Spike looked at Angel and smiled broadly. "As soon as he was out of the cage he started making plans about helping the helpless. Naturally I mentioned the Slayer and, naturally, he swallowed my bait. He enlisted in her team and all I had to do was to create the appropriate mood. Cemetery, crypt, rats squeaking, whetting up Peaches' appetite..."
Buffy closed her eyes and started counting mentally. One staked Spike, two staked Spikes, three staked Spikes...
"Shut up, moron," Angel muttered ominously.
"Oh, don't get your rose polka-dotted knickers in a twist, Peaches. Darla, sweetie, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but when they did it, the crypt was shaking. And the smell... oh, that smell! Intoxicating. But yours truly kept sang-froid. Honestly, I didn't join them. Although I almost gave in when she... Ow!"
Angel kicked him in the shin.
"Shut. Up." He turned to Master. "I don't want to waste your time on the details. As soon as I was back, me and Spike tied up the Slayer and brought her here".
It's ludicrous, Buffy thought. Nobody would believe it.
"I don't believe him," Darla said to Master. "I think they're planning something. They want to distract you with the Slayer and overthrow your rule at the Factory."
The Master frowned. "Why have you brought the Slayer here?"
Angel and Spike exchanged glances. "It's our proof of loyalty..." Angel started.
"Do you have other souled vampires in your prison?" Spike interrupted. "Because I have a great idea! You should open a rehabilitation center for souled vampires. You could charge a dozen virgins for one exorcised soul..."
"You haven't fed on her," Darla said.
"Frankly, I'm full up with them!" He patted his gut proudly. "Don't like to brag... oh, who am I kidding, I love to brag! You all know I bagged two Slayers! And you have to believe me, since I'm the best Slayer expert in the world - there is nothing special about them! Rather the contrary. Wiry bony bitches with insipid rotten blood. Pshaw!"
...Twenty-five staked Spikes, Buffy thought. Twenty-six staked, holy-watered, cock-chopped Spikes...
The Master blinked. Darla narrowed her eyes.
"You've always been a disgusting liar, Willy, but today you overdid yourself."
Spike's laughter was full of contempt.
"Come on, great-granny, have you killed two Slayers recently? You're plain and simply jealous. You've always been jealous. You always hated me because Angelus loved me more than you. You've never forgiven him for that. It's only you who could get away with shagging wankers like the Immortal and the Prince of Lies!"
"Prince of Lies!?" Angel exclaimed. "Damn! Thank the devil I dusted that scoundrel!"
"Prince of Lies?" Darla gasped. "You dusted him?!"
"Prince of Lies?" the Master hissed ominously.
"But it was so long ago..." she whispered.
"You dared to date the Prince of Lies, you bitch!"
Darla looked at him blindly and rushed out of the room.
"I'm talking to you!" the Master called after her. "Harris, Rosenberg - bring her back! Angelus... okay, I'll keep your Slayer, but I'm strapped for cash. Do you want to become my business partner? My factory..."
He gulped as he saw Angel untying Buffy's hands and Spike drawing a stake out of his pants.
"I never wanted to be a factory owner," Angel said. "You, Spike?"
"Me neither. Pity it isn't a brothel."
The fight was quick and violent. With every punch and kick Buffy was getting rid of that enormous charge of energy accumulated inside her. The Master fought desperately but eventually Angel and Spike pressed him to the wall and Buffy plunged her stake into his heart.
"Angel, go after Darla, find her and slay her," she ordered, dusting her hands. "I'll free the hostages. Spike, you... Spike? Where is he?"
True happiness. Spike achieved it as soon as he opened a bottle of bourbon at Willy's.
What? Unlike some brooding wankers, he could allow himself the luxury of being happy without worrying about nasty consequences, like losing a soul. Or, devil forbid, getting one. Of course, you never know what could happen when you're hanging around that pesky Slayer, who struts about shaking her tits and looking so appetiz... disgusting in her conviction that the world turns around her sodding ass.
People had already started getting the wrong idea about him. Take Willy the Snitch who for some unfathomable reason had the idea that Spike was gonna pay for his drink.
"You're a good guy now." Willy smiled ingratiatingly. "You play for the Slayer's team."
Spike growled softly. "It's not what you think! It's just... an enemy of my enemy is my friend. For a while. Actually, the Slayer is very pissed off at me because I've stolen all her glory..."
The door banged and Buffy entered, a stake in her hand. Spike sighed. The Slayer looked unhappy. Apparently she didn't appreciate Spike's idea of throwing his cigarette into the gasoline tank. Silly girl didn't understand the concept of fun. And the worst thing? He felt unexplainably guilty seeing her unhappy.
What the hell was happening to him? He had to take measures against it. Spike smirked and curled his tongue around his teeth. "Missed me, pet?"
Her face was grim and resolute.
"I knew it was a trick," she declared. "You did it to save your threesome sex buddies."
"Harris and Rosenberg. You gave them a chance to escape as we were knocking ourselves out opening the cages."
"See, Willy - I'm still evil!" Spike grinned. "I'm not going to pay you!"
"We barely managed to save the people." Buffy shook her head. "You know, Spike, the sooner I dust you the better."
"Bloody hell, Slayer, flex those little cute brain muscles of yours. There were three of us against dozens of the Old Wanker's minions. The only way to even our chances was to spread panic in their ranks. Fire is a vampire's worst enemy. Put two and two together."
Buffy furrowed her brow. She was delectable. Spike licked his lips.
"Wanna a swig of bourbon?"
"Ew." Buffy sighed and reluctantly put her stake back into her waistband. "Okay, maybe your plan wasn't as bad as it seemed at first sight. But several of the Master's minions escaped. And you, instead of cleaning up your mess, are getting drunk!"
"For the devil' sake, Slayer, I was sober for more than 24 hours! It's inhuman - to deprive a hungover vampire of his only salvation! If it were not Willy, I'd have died of sobriety!"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I'd pay to see it."
Imperturbed, Spike took a swig. "Besides, I was gathering intelligence. Willy knows everybody and everything in Sunnydale. I came here to find out where the most dangerous vampire nests are."
"Well - where are they?"
Spike looked away. "I was about to ask him about it when you burst in and disrupted my carefully thought-out plan of interrogation". He pointed at Willie. "Now we have to torture him. Usually I'm quite altruistic, but seems like there is no choice..."
Willy blanched. "I'll tell you everything! The band of the brothers Gorch usually hangs in the Bronze!"
Buffy gave him a doubtful look. "How many?"
"Seven, maybe eight fledges. And Lyle. And Tektor".
Buffy did math in her head (she had a cute expression when she was thinking hard) and nodded. "That makes ten. Good. Spike, show the way!"
He rolled his eyes, but his legs followed her to the door. Has Angel accidentally infected him with a rare virus of vampirical pussy-whippety?
"Where is your domesticated souled vampire, Slayer? He seemed so eager to please you."
Buffy frowned. "He went after Darla," she admitted reluctantly. "Не said it was family business."
"But of course - he's such a family man... Bronze's this way, pet."
Buffy fell in step with Spike. "So, who was that Prince of Lies that he had dusted? He really was a prince? And why was Angel so angry about the Master's girlfriend's old love affair?"
Spike chuckled lighting his cigarette. Their little trip to Bronze could be quite entertaining.
"Darla is Angelus' sire, pet. Do you know what "sire" means?"
"Yes, Mr. Robson has explained it to me... So, Darla is like Angel's mom? She made him her son?"
"Not Angel's. Angelus'. And not just a son - a lover, a friend..." Spike automatically switched to his sexy and mellifluous voice. "A pupil, a confidant... Are you sure you want to know everything about your beloved Peaches, Slayer? Or you want to find another way to feed your Slayer kinks? Even by vampire standards you found yourself on top of Peaches too quickly. I bet humans don't even come close to satisfying your needs. Slayer libido is a bitch, isn't it?"
"Shut up, Spike."
"Oh, I can shut up - who will enlighten you? Your Mr. Robson whose task is to put the Council party line in your head before he sends you to your death? Or our poor alcoholic Giles who pores over old manuscripts?"
Buffy shot a sidelong glance at Spike.
"Have you really killed two Slayers?"
He smiled dreamily. "The best moments of my un-life, pet. I killed my first Slayer a century ago - but I still remember every moment of our fight. Oh, the unforgettable taste of her blood - a medicine for all the maladies, the sweetest, most intoxicating drink... Ouch!"
He could hardly avoid the second blow - the Slayer's fist narrowly missed his ear. Spike tried to hide his excitement. The girl needed a dominatrix outfit and a whip.
"Oi! What was that for?"
"That's for saying that my blood is rotten and insipid! And that I'm a bony bitch!"
"Truth hurts, Slayer? Look at yourself. You punched me, knowing that I can't punch you back. Who are you after that? And - you are bony! Have you looked in the mirror recently?"
Buffy narrowed her eyes. "A girl should be slim and fit! Well, there are perverts who like fat chicks..."
"Come on, luv. I like well-shaped dolls like Miss Alternate Universe. She's not fat, but she has nice curves..."
"What? You like that nasty bitch Cordelia? I can't understand what men see in her!"
Spike bit his lip to hide a smirk. It was almost too easy to push this girl's buttons.
"Let's see. She doesn't beat them up. She likes it when men do something nice for her."
"She likes to use them."
"Let me tell you a Very Big Secret, luv. We love being exploited. Especially when we can demonstrate our manly merits in the process. We are vain and we love other people for the good things we do for them. Because we want to be heroes. That's why our Watcher pulls in his belly in Cordelia's presence and Peaches dances attendance upon her..." Spike couldn't resist the temptation to mimic his sire.
Buffy's giggle was an unexpected balm for his ears; seeing her smiling made him giddy. Apparently, he'd drunk too much bourbon. Or maybe there was something in the air, some miasma from the Hellmouth.
"You should laugh more often, pet. Miss Alternate Universe reminds men about the other life, filled with fun, laugh, love. When did you last dance with a guy and felt your heart beating faster than usual? When did you last enjoy a silly prank with your friends?"
"I don't have friends." Buffy frowned. "I don't know why I'm telling you this."
"Let me guess. Because you don't care about me?"
"I don't "don't care" about you! I hate you."
Spike felt hurt. He knew he shouldn't feel hurt - but he was. Definitely some miasma.
"Why do you hate me, luv?"
Buffy crinkled her brow. "Hello - you're a vampire, remember? I hate vampires. They're the reason I can't have friends, family, normal life. Everybody who grows close to me typically winds up with two bloodied holes in their necks. You, vampires, have families - and us, Slayers, are always alone. It's so unfair."
She looked so forlorn that Spike felt sympathy sweeping over him. Dammit. Sunnydale was an unhealthy place for a vampire.
"You're exaggerating, luv. Surely a girl as fetching as you has a boyfriend."
Buffy shook her head.
"Are you serious? It's a true crime against your pretty face and nice ripe body. We have to find you a boyfriend who will be regularly reminding you how irresistibly sexy and insuperably yummy you are."
Buffy stifled a giggle. "I don't have time for that silly stuff. I'm busy 24/7. So many things to do, so many vamps to kill..."
"You make a grave mistake, luv. A Slayer who thinks only about killing, quickly gets a death wish."
"You want me to believe this crap?"
"Come on, Slayer, you're not stupid. You see death every day. You bath in it. It soaks into every cell of your body. Gradually it penetrates your soul. You start to wonder how you will die. You picture your death in detail. You mentally die in every battle. You wonder if it would be better to finish it once and for all. Everything will cease to exist - disgusting monsters and annoying watchers, boring people and your annoying duty to protect them. Will the release be sweet? One day you'll answer the question with a "yes". And that day one vampire will get incredibly lucky..." He faltered. It dawned on him that an idea about this girl dying a grisly death horrified him. What the hell? He forced a smirk. "Maybe that vampire will be me."
"I hate you."
"Mutually, luv. But, as long as Peaches is chasing Darla, I'm all you have."
Actually, Buffy had lied to Spike about hating vampires.
She had stopped hating them long ago. A lumber-man doesn't hate trees, a cleaner doesn't hate garbage. Killing them was her job - nothing more, nothing less. That is - until she met William the Bloody, AKA Spike the Pain in the Ass. She hated his guts. His shit-eating smirk, his stupid shiny hair, his naughty tongue that constantly curled around his pouty lips, his muscled torso, his silky skin.... she hated everything about him!
And the most annoying thing? She couldn't dust the jackass. At least, right now, as long as he was their ally. She didn't even have an excuse to punch him again. If only somebody else could do it for her - so that she could stop the attacker, save Spike and make him grateful to her till the end of his lame un-life. That would be the perfect vengeance. Not that the idiot knew how to be grateful...
When she saw a bunch of vampires emerging from the corner, she was happy to have a distraction from her confusing Spike thoughts.
Much to her annoyance they didn't pay any attention to her. It was her companion they were after.
"Kill the traitor!" they shouted. "You're a bastard, Spike! You will pay for defecting to our enemy!"
"Hey, standing right here," Buffy murmured. Why was everybody so obsessed with that stupid Spike?
"You will die, Spike! We'll kill you and the skanky bitch protecting your ass..."
Now, that was too much. The offender has turned to dust even before he had time to finish his phrase. Spike took it as a signal for a fight, and for a few minutes they were very busy. Then Buffy discovered that there was only one vampire left standing; that it was her who was fighting him; and that Spike was watching her with open admiration, doing his stupid tongue thing. Of course, she could kill the vampire in an instant, but she decided that the offender needed a lesson, so she hit and kicked him for a while, demonstrating a wide range of her Slayer abilities, and finally dusted him in a beautifully choreographed movement.
Spike clapped hands. Buffy glared at him, unsure if it was a sincere "I-admire-your-skills" applause or an ironic "I-know-you-were-showing-off-for-me" applause.
"You could have helped!" she grumbled. "After all, your skanky bitch was protecting your ass!"
Spike smiled. "Do I hear irony in your voice, pet? It's the first step towards enlightenment..."
Buffy didn’t have time for a snarky comeback – suddenly Spike tensed, snatched Buffy's stake and threw it into the dark space between two buildings. She heard a choked shriek and saw a cloud of dust emanating from the dark. The next moment Spike grabbed her, sent her toppling to the ground and fell on top of her.
"Idiot!" Buffy screeched. "I hate horny vampires!"
"Don't judge everybody by your own standards, Slayer," Spike groaned. "Looks like the wanker had a poisoned blade..."
Buffy noticed a dagger in his shoulder. Apparently she owed him an apology. Thankfully, she heard the approaching steps and saw a shadow on the ground, so apologies could wait. She moved Spike away and sprang to her feet.
"Slayer," growled a big lanky fellow in a cowboy hat. "You shouldn't come here in my town..."
"Don't worry, I'll get out of this hole as soon as I dust you," Buffy promised. "Who is this creep, Spike?"
"Meet Lyle Gorch," Spike groaned. "Lyle, what is it on your bleeding dagger? My shoulder is numb..."
Lyle Gorch smirked. "Viper berry extract. I told you, Spike - don't come to my town. Why doesn't anyone listen to me? Didn't I tell Pike Bishop to avoid Thornton's trap? Didn't I tell Tector not to lurk in this stinking alley?"
Spike laughed hoarsely.
"So I dusted your brother Tektor? I thought it was a big fat rat. It's so easy to confuse one for another..."
Lyle Gorch roared with fury and rushed at them, a crowbar in his hands. Buffy's roundhouse kick sent his sprawling on the ground. As Lyle tried to regain the footing, she pulled the dagger out of Spike's shoulder and stuck it between Lyle Gorch's eyes. Then she hurled him into a sharp wooden shard of a plank that protruded from the wall.
She looked around. Several piles of dust, check. An open door with a neon sign "The Bronze" two buildings down the street, check. So, she had slayed the Gorch gang - that is, if Spike's source had told the truth about them.
She stooped down to Spike to share her conclusion with him - but he was unconscious.
"Spike?" Buffy's slap brought him to his senses. "Are you okay?"
His lips moved but he couldn't utter a single word.
"Shit. Is that viper's berry dangerous?"
His eyes were closed again. This was bad.
Fighting a strange tightness in her chest, she dragged him to The Bronze. Maybe she could find help there?.
The place was deserted. Buffy dropped Spike on the stage dais, pulled off his duster, ripped off his t-shirt and examined his wound. The bleeding had already stopped, but the skin around the wound had nasty bluish color.
"Spike? You're not planning to die, are you? I mean, you're already dead, but..."
She found a bottle of bourbon and tried to pour it into Spike's mouth. No reaction. Damn. If Spike couldn't even drink bourbon, this must be bad with a Capital B.
"But there must be an antidote, Spike! Don't tell me there's no antidote!"
She had noticed a flash of hope in Spike's eyes. She tore her eyes off his muscled chest and tried to think hard. They were talking about something... something that was very close to this subject... Death wish - no, something else. Bony bitch - definitely not that... although Spike wouldpay for that, when he was fit again. Men love being exploited... good idea, but not in current situation... A medicine for all the maladies, the sweetest, most intoxicating drink...
A typical case of Buffy luck. Did she really have to let this parasite feed on her?
She sighed, wiped her finger on her jeans and put it into Spike's mouth. "Drink, you parasite..."
Buffy threw a glass on the floor, picked up a chard and pricked her finger. Spike's nostrils trembled when a drop of blood appeared. Buffy put her finger into his mouth again and almost moaned in relief when his tongue curled around it. But after a few moments of trepidation Spike's tongue stopped moving.
Buffy examined her finger - the little wound had already closed. Screw the Slayer metabolism.
Looked like she had to open the main tap. And face the danger of being sucked dry. Could she push him away at the right moment?
"Have I already told you that I hate bloodsuckers? And you know why? Because they suck blood!"
She could have bet that, for a moment, he smirked gleefully. Apparently, she was wrong: when she looked closer, there was only pain and desperation on his face.
"Tell you what we do, Mr. Bloodsucker. This bony bitch will feed you on her insipid blood - but you can drink only until I say "stop". At my signal you leave my neck alone. You disobey - I'll feed you your balls. You kill me - Angel feeds you your balls. Understood? Okay, here we go..."
She felt the artery on her neck, carefully punctured the skin and positioned Spike so that his lips were touching the wound. For a moment he was limp and unresponsive; then he sniffed, flinched, made smacking sounds and clung to her.
She tried to stay calm and alert. It was a strictly tactical decision, wasn't it? She was saving an ally who had already helped her and could be useful in the future. But, as sweet heat started mounting up her loins, slowly, inexorably the world started rocking and things started to blur dangerously - and suddenly, she was saving them all. Mom and Dad, and Merrick, and that nameless guy in the psychiatric ward who almost believed her when she told him that monsters did exist, and those slayers-in-training - Kendra, so annoying when alive and so sad when dead, and Faith, who distracted that demon from Buffy and fell down, impaled, and asked Buffy to kiss her before she died...
...A moan escaped Buffy's lips, and she felt Spike shuddering as he tore himself from her neck and sank into her lips. At first, his kiss was searing and painful. But the coldness of the tongue was unexpectedly soothing, and when he started exploring her mouth, his lips became unbearably gentle.
She didn't want him to be gentle. She couldn't afford the luxury of gentleness. Spike slowly licked the tear on her cheek and then gulped as she rolled him onto his back and went down on him, desperately and hungrily, like he was her last chance of finding the reason to live...
...Much, much later, when Spike spread his duster on the floor to make her comfortable, she suddenly remembered to ask him a question.
"Why did you stop feeding on me on your own?"
He looked away, unexpectedly shy.
"Um... because I'm an idiot?"
"That goes without saying - but still. Why?"
He shook his head. "I dunno."
"Come on, Spike. Are you embarrassed?"
"I'm not! And... and - I just didn't want to get dusted! You'd dust me if I sucked you dry... Okay, you couldn't dust me because you would have been dead, but your dearest Peaches would certainly kill yours truly... what?"
She smiled. After close contact with death everything seemed different. Sharper. Brighter. Her life had suddenly been filled with some unexplainable joy, and Buffy reveled in this long-forgotten sensation, nuzzling into Spike's neck and tousling his hair lazily.
"You're so sweet when you're babbling."
"Are you off your nut? I'm not babbling. Vampires can't babble."
"They totally... Don't get me distracted. I demand an explanation. Why did you stop feeding on me? Is it a part of yet another evil plan of yours?"
"I've already told you, Slayer. You weren't controlling the situation. You couldn't tell me to stop. I - I didn't want you to - I didn't want to go on drinking that rotten and insipid blood of
"I swear! Drinking the sodding Slayer's blood is sheer torture for a vampire!"
Buffy smiled. "You know, Spike, I never met a vampire like you!"
"Maybe because I'm unique?" he purred. "Because I'm irresistibly sexy?"
She giggled. Teasing him was such fun. "Nope. It's Angel who's unique. He has a soul. You don't."
"Bollocks! I wish I had a soul to prove you wrong!"
He wasn't done saying these words when a glowing portal appeared in front of them and a woman with an ugly demon face stepped out of it.
"Wish granted!" she declared.
Next: Part 3. In which our intrepid hero saves the world, dies, resuscitates and finds his destiny.