Disclaimer: Joss is the boss.
Timeline: Season 6. "Once More With Feeling" has ended differently.
Summary: Role-playing games are more effective than a shrink's couch - at least, in Buffy and Spike's case.
A/N: Many thanks to deird1, my wonderful beta who helped me with grammar, style and characters voices. All mistakes are mine. And many thanks to abelina angearia gillo ladyofthelog rebcake and snickfic for organizing this round and running this community.
"Whedon told the writers to write about the most humiliating thing they could remember, the most embarrassing moment, the worst thing they did to someone and put that in a script - then put fangs on it".
Of course, it was all Spike's fault. It was because of him that she has gotten stuck in this stupid suite of this stupid hotel in this stupid dimension.
In all fairness, Xander had contributed too - it was him who summoned that Broadway reject of a demon, Sweet. And, naturally, Dawn definitely provided her usual quota of nuisance by stealing the freaking summoning bauble. Served them right for their stupidity, getting abducted and sent to a demon dimension to be Sweet's wives.
And, of course, it was totally Buffy luck that Sweet didn't care about age or gender of his brides. Or their species. After a week of wedding preparations the bastard would marry both her best friend and her little sister, and they'd end up in his enormous harem with other humans, demons, vampires, elves, trolls and even robots.
Unless someone stopped him first.
(Although Dawn definitely needed a bit of harem experience to stop whining about her life in Casa Summers. She didn't like being a little sister? Maybe she'd enjoy being one of a hundred wives. If only she could just stay there for a while without providing sexual favors to that creep, Buffy would gladly keep her there for, say, a couple of years.)
But, in the end, it was all Spike's fault. It was him who'd stopped Buffy when she was about to get devoured by the fire of Sweet's magic. "You must go on living, so one of us is living." Moron. If he hadn't stopped her, she'd have been warm and happy in a heaven dimension now, not bending over backwards trying to save two idiots from the shit they'd gotten themselves into. So - yes, ultimately her landing in this freaky dimension was all Spike's fault.
Buffy rubbed her knuckles absent-mindedly. The sight of Spike sunbathing on the balcony, notepad and pencil in his hands, was majorly disturbing.
Buffy hated Sweet's dimension. When she had arrived here with Spike in tow, she'd expected the routine scenario. Kill evil things, liberate Xan and Dawn, retreat to the portal created by Willow, get back to the Magic Box, survive the usual portion of Xander and Anya's bickering and ground Dawn for life.
Except the things hadn't gone that way.
They did a quick recon. Luckily, Spike didn't have a sun allergy in this dimension - but that was the only good news. The captives were kept in Sweet's palace surrounded by a strong magic field; an escape was out of question. After several attempts to appeal to Sweet, Buffy turned to the local authorities. Sweet's world was ruled by demonocratic yet humanity-friendly government. Nobody objected Buffy and Spike's stay here - locals were even flattered by the Slayer's visit. Spike spent a night in a casino and provided them with enough money to rent a suite in a posh hotel. But all Buffy's attempts to get Dawn and Xan out of trouble the legal way were unsuccessful. Local laws considered magical obligations sacred; Dawn and Xander had summoned Sweet, so, according to the law, they became his brides.
Buffy's only chance was tomorrow's contest.
For some unfathomable reason the most prized substance in this freaky universe was pure, genuine emotions. Buffy suspected that Sweet had intentionally placed his talismans in the human dimension to get summoned: he recharged his emotional batteries by preying on unsuspecting humans. The bastard was a famous TV producer and TV personality; every Tuesday he charmed the audience with his wit and artistry in his game show "Million Feelings", where contestants competed in displaying and evoking the most authentic and genuine emotions in the audience.
And, according to the rules, contestants had the right to invite the choir to give insight into their story - any person or persons they want. Even Sweet's new brides. They could take them to the studio.
The studio where magic barriers aren't allowed.
And they could invite their friends to watch their gig. Together, Willow, Anya and Giles could create a portal in three seconds while Buffy and Spike would hamper Sweet's bodyguards...
Buffy's hands itched. She hadn't had a chance to hit anybody for five days straight.
"Lo and behold! Fair maiden cries in fear
Blah-blah-blah-blah, the death is near..."
Spike bit the end of his pencil reflexively and swore softly as it cracked under his teeth.
Of course, it was all the Slayer's fault.
Sure, Harris was a clueless idiot, and the Nibblet had proved to be a lousy thief - all Spike's lessons were for nothing. But, in all fairness, Harris wouldn't have summoned Sweet if the Slayer wasn't all gloom and doom; and Dawn wouldn't steal stuff if big sis paid her more attention. So - yes, it was all the Slayer's fault that he, Spike, was stuck here, in this bloody glittering dimension where vampires and demons were disgustingly domesticated, where he could smoke only in the smoking areas, and where everybody was so politically correct that instead of "Slayer" they said "mercy-impaired female".
Buffy's title would hardly work in her favor in the upcoming contest. Bugger them! Spike sighed as he started rereading the rules in a vain attempt to gain inspiration. "1.12.23. Couples perform the scenes either from their own life or from the lives of real or fictional persons they feel connection with... 1.12.24. If judges deem the characters or the topic inappropriate, they may veto them and appoint the topic themselves... 1.12.25. The members of the choir can give insights into the scene as well as play supporting parts. 1.12.26. The contestants can't use life-endangering props..."
Spike yawned. The Slayer's idea to perform the scene of them rescuing Dawn from Glory wasn't as easy as it seemed at first. Maybe they really should impersonate somebody else. Like Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Or Katarina and Petruccio. Or Harry and Hermione, whoever they were. But they'd needed an excuse to get Bit and Harris out of Sweet's lair, so they'd argued that these two were essential for their performance because they knew the story and would be a perfect choir and fitting supporting players. Nibblet would play herself and Harris will impersonate a heinous bitch in high heels. Spike grinned. Harris deserves a lesson for his stupid spell.
Thank God, their acting skills didn't matter because they only had to distract the buggers for a while, make them drop their guard.
Actually his initial plan was better: to kidnap that polygamist sleazebag Sweet, bring him back to Sunnydale, lock him up in a magic cage, courtesy of a certain Willow Rosenberg, and demand a ransom - his two wives-to-be. Pity the Slayer vetoed his plan as soon as it became clear that it could unleash an interdimensional war.
Deprived of a decent spot of violence, Spike sighed and looked at the Slayer who had fallen asleep on the luxurious king-size bed.
Apparently, she wasn't lulled by his poetry. She tossed and turned under the comforter, murmuring his name. Of course, the stupid bint wanted to fight him even in her sleep. If only she'd stop resisting and let him closer. If only she'd finally decide that Spike had earned enough points to have her trust. What else could he do? He followed her like a dog. He behaved. He'd obeyed when she forbade him to kill or kidnap that poncy sleaze Sweet. He agreed to be a white knight for a day. He'd written a script - a poem in script form! - to provide a successful distraction tactics.
With a considerable effort Spike tore his eyes from the sleeping Slayer and stared at his text, utterly disgusted.
"Blah-blah-blah-blah, the death is near..." He has to find the right words. The perfectly perfect words that would melt the judges' hearts. "Don't waste your time, oh pulchritudinous Slayer, the death is near..." No. "You hurry up, effulgent Slayer, the death is near..." Yes. Definitely better.
The judges had better appreciate his poetic efforts. Unless they wanted to end up with railroad spikes in their skulls.
Didn't want to be a husband? Be a wife.
Xander Harris couldn't get rid of this idiotic joke the whole week they spent in Sweet's palace waiting for the wedding ceremony. Sometimes he wondered if Anya would appreciate it. If only she knew how much he was terrified of their upcoming nuptials. Idiot. If he was married, he wouldn't be eligible. But he didn't want to be a husband, so he would be a wife. Every time he murmured it, Dawn glared at him and rolled her eyes and he couldn't suppress nervous giggles.
"They say laughter saved humanity at its darkest hours," he said to Dawn.
"And you think it'll save us too".
She didn't know how close to the truth she was.
Of course, they knew about the contest - there was a TV set in every room in Sweet's palace. The participants were announced in advance - and he remembered a sinking feeling in his stomach when the names of Buffy Summers and William the Bloody were announced. If Buffy and her undead evil puppy had resorted to participation in a game show to get them out, the situation had to be really bad.
Of course they rushed to watch previously taped episodes of the "Million Feelings" contest. They found out that the winners could challenge Sweet for the Super Game and bet Sweet whatever they want.
But it was a lame plan. Win the contest? Buffy was good at hiding emotions, but portraying them? Not her shtick. Especially in Spike's presence. Not to mention that Spike's writing abilities sucked big time.
The next day he and Dawn were ushered by bodyguards into the guest suite. Buffy and Spike were already waiting there to settle the details of their participation as the choir. He'd never thought he'd be happy to see Spike. Weirder even, Spike looked happy to see him - he even briefly hugged Xander, to his utter embarrassment.
Thankfully, there was a reason for his freaky behavior: later, when they retreated back to their rooms, Xander found a note in his pocket.
"Be ready. Willow, Giles and Anya will be in the audience - they'll create a portal for us. We'll cover your retreat."
That night he finally slept without nightmares.
The nightmare started the next morning, when the senior witch-in-residence put magic collars on their necks. "Don't worry sweetie," she cooed. "It's just a precaution. In case you decide to escape. But you won't, will you? You don't want your heads to blow up?"
He would never forget Buffy's face when they arrived to the studio and announced the news. All their attempts to remove the collars were fruitless. Spike said many weird British words that either meant that he wanted to kill something or that he thoroughly enjoyed the situation. Or, maybe, both. Dawn sniffled softly in the corner. But Buffy's face was all fierce determination.
"We'll get you out, I swear," she said. "I don't know how, but we will. I - we - we will play their stupid game, and we'll win. We'll win the regular game, and we'll bet Sweet in a Super Game, and then we'll win again and we'll take you home. Spike, do you know your lines?"
"Luv, it was me who wrote them!"
"Dawn, stop crying, and prepare to play a victim. Or, on a second thought, just keep in character. Xander, are you ready for high heels?"
He was. By that time he was game for anything. They did a run-through, and their little play sounded heartfelt if a bit grotesque. He didn't even complain about his high heels as he was too busy spouting Spike's ridiculous epithets. And when Buffy jumped from a step-ladder and fell on the floor in a dramatic pose and Spike lamented the passing of the bravest warrior on Earth, a group of studio technicians, who watched their rehearsal, burst into applause. It looked like they had a real chance to win.
And then everything went to hell again.
Back on Earth, playing a victim was Dawn's favorite pastime, especially in Buffy's presence. But when she'd ended up in Sweet's palace she'd quickly learned that in order to survive in harem you have to be a bitch - so she started practicing at every opportunity. Switching back to the victim mode felt a bit unnatural so, when Sweet announced that the story about Buffy saving her little sister is ineligible because of nepotism, for a moment she even felt relieved.
But only for a moment. Then she looked at Buffy's face and her heart sank.
"Nepotism?" Buffy repeated disbelievingly. "You've got to be kidding me."
Sweet smiled maliciously. "It's inappropriate to involve a relative-to-be of the jury's chairman as a character of your entry. It corrupts the artistic integrity of the jury."
"But it's not fair! We don't have time to write and rehearse another scene!"
"Oh, I'm aware of it. Thankfully, our rules are very benevolent to the newbies. They get a chance to play a scene selected by the jury. And, since the mercy-impaired female is a famous person, public interest in her life is tremendous, so we've chosen the story of her love for a souled vampire."
"What?" Buffy screeched. "It's impossible! And... and -- Angel isn't here, so..."
"Since the original vampire is unavailable, his role will be played by his grand-childe, William the Bloody."
"What?" Spike growled.
"Dawn Summers and Alexander Harris can provide insights into your story but they can't play any parts. Your entry will be the last one, so you have half an hour to coordinate your actions." Sweet glanced around them and smirked. "Or you may give up without trying. Competition is tough in this round. We have a story of Tom and Nicole's heartbreaking divorce, a story of Neo and Trinity's heroic love..."
"We'll do it," Buffy murmured through clenched teeth. "We'll show you heartbreaking and heroic."
Spike was fuming silently, his eyes sparkling with yellow glints. As soon as Sweet left, he exploded. "The wanker is mocking us! I'll break his bloody neck the moment he leaves this bleeding studio! I'll rip his throat out! I'll crush his balls under my boots..."
"Not helping, Spike," Buffy said, gloomy.
"Stake me now, Slayer! I bloody can't play the Mighty Poof! 'Oh, my shagtastic slayer, I don't know what went through my undead pea brain when I saw your nubile charms, but I became so frightfully happy that I lost my shiny soul, turned into a psychotic stalker and killed your teacher and a bunch of other innocent people'. I'm gonna heave."
Dawn couldn't help but giggle through her tears. "You know, Spike - it could be a great comedy, about a mercy-impaired female and her souled Mighty Poof."
"Wait-wait-wait," Xander murmured. "Somebody said that life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. It may be our chance." He gave them a pale smile. "Our last chance. We can do it. Although I sympathize with Captain Peroxide. Playing Angel is something I'd rather avoid."
Buffy stared at him, incredulous. "You're serious."
Spike perked up.
"As much as it pains me to admit it, Harris may be right here. I know you, Slayer. You won't be able to play it straight and relive everything you went through. And if we make it funny you'll be able to - what's the word? - to distance yourself from the material. To see the past in a lighter mood."
"And you'll get a perfect chance to mock Angel."
Spike smirked. "I'll deliver Oscar-worthy stuff."
Buffy glanced at him with scepticism. "But we can't win the contest with a comedic entry!"
"Why not? We have to evoke genuine emotions in those buggers. We go against the tide, we stir them up, we make them laugh, we make them like us, we get a chance to win."
"Comedies never win anything."
"Beg pardon!" Xander interjected. "What about 'Annie Hall'? 'The Sting'? 'The Apartment'? 'It Happened One Night?'"
"These movies are ancient!"
"'There's Something About Mary' won an MTV movie award for the best film only two years ago," Dawn offered helpfully.
Buffy sighed. "Ohhh... kay. But," she perked up. "Anybody - I mostly mean Spike - mentions this to Angel, I personally stake that anybody dead. So, how do we stage this?.."
Time to be a bitch. Dawn took a lungful of air and started: "My big sister has always been a drama queen, but after meeting Angel she overdid herself..."
When Buffy was twelve Joyce had enrolled her in a drama class. Buffy didn't like it - the teacher constantly criticized her diction, her manners, her bearing; the other girls were arrogant and nasty; and no matter what play they produced she only got male bit-parts, mostly due to a shortage of boys in the class.
But once a boy who played Robin Hood fell ill and she'd volunteered to substitute for him at the rehearsals. She still remembered the rush of blood in her ears, the butterflies in her stomach and that wonderful, incredible sensation of being somebody who fights bad guys and saves the day. Of being somebody else.
Waiting in the wings, she was recalling that experience and trying to block her growing panic. She realised, of course, that she was the weakest link in their plan. She'd never doubted Spike's ability to mock his grand-sire even in his sleep. She suspected that Xander had been collecting his unused Angel-centric barbs since high school. She still remembered Dawn's derisive remarks about Angel - even if technically they were just false memories imprinted in her mind.
She knew they'd give their best performances. She wasn't sure about herself.
"Tap into your inner blonde, Slayer," Spike whispered. "I know you can do it."
"Spike, tell me honestly how I act."
He sighed. "Excruciatingly bad. Harmony played you better."
"Very inspirational. Wait, what do you mean - Harmony? Harmony played me? When? How?"
He looked away.
"I so don't want to know about it," Buffy murmured. And then it hit her. Yes! She would play Harmony the Vampire Slayer.
"You're an asshole, Spike. Just don't stop being an asshole till the end of our gig, okay?"
Spike smirked. "Happy to oblige, Slayer."
And he really was, evil bastard.
"This new Slayer looks like she's a virgin," he declared as soon as he sauntered onstage. "Good. She'd hardly notice that I was out of practice for the last hundred years..."
The half-forgotten term "motivation" surfaced in her mind as she strolled by, pretending she didn't see him. "I hate vampires," she moaned. "Stupid night patrols! Being a Slayer sucks! I absolutely don't have a life".
She stroked and pumped her stake teasingly. The audience rewarded her with a short burst of laughter. Inspired, she continued. "The only way to lose my virginity is to find a boyfriend at my workplace. It's a great opportunity to combine business with pleasure! After all, I have to explore the complexities of a relationship between the Slayer and her Slayees."
Another burst of laughter. Spike's lewd smirk. Buffy smirked back and demonstrated her best roundhouse kick, sending Spike sprawling on the floor.
"I hope this wretched creature had a chance to appreciate my new pink panties!" she declared, adjusting her short skirt.
They were on a roll. The audience laughed and applauded. Spike revelled in the role of pompous idiot who tries to impress a silly girl with superhero antics. Buffy didn't get half of his stupid jokes (Angel-mobile? huh?), but the audience understood them very well. Buffy was afraid that their fight with plastic swords would look unimpressive, but the audience clapped and cheered. As they'd decided in advance, Dawn and Xander brought onstage their hastily-made contraption that was supposed to represent the portal, and Dawn announced, pointing a beam of a flashlight at Spike's chest: "And then poor Angel got his shiny soul back".
"Beep-beep-beep!" Spike exclaimed, clutching at his chest. "I beep have beep my beep-beep-beeppety soul again! What a beep vermin! Stake me now, Slayer!"
"I can't stake you!" Buffy retorted. "I don't have a stake! I have a better idea - I'll cork up the hole into hell with your body!"
With a masterful kick she sent Spike right through the contraption that looked like a gigantic toilet seat (Xander's contribution, no doubt).
"Have I already told how much I hate vampires?" she lamented as she shook figurative dust off her hands and left the stage.
"And so, my sister's name will stay forever in the history of slaying as the Chosen One who discovered an advanced way of slaying vampires - by shagging them to death." (Bitch. So grounded for life.)
...They got a standing ovation. Even Sweet clapped - without much enthusiasm, but still. Buffy stood on stage, smiled, peered at all those people and demons in the auditorium and felt giddy. And - weirdly happy. It felt like she had finally paid an enormous Angel-shaped debt and was free of the past guilt and angst.
"And the Grand Prize goes to mercy-impaired female Buffy Summers and vampire William the Bloody!" Sweet declared after counting the ballots. "They've chosen a risque path, but they demonstrated amazing artistic courage and great comedic timing - and the last talent is especially rare today... Buffy, William - do you choose to accept your prize or do you challenge me for a Super Game?"
"Super Game!" Buffy said quickly. "We challenge you for a Super Game and we bet me and Spike against your brides Dawn Summers and Xander Harris!"
"Are you sure? If you lose, you and your vampire become mine."
"We are sure!"
The audience cheered. "Show us how you shag your vampire," shouted somebody. Spike was grinning with wicked satisfaction.
Sweet's face turned hard and cold. "Challenge accepted."
He turned away. With growing fear Buffy watched Sweet listen to a small demon who whispered in his ear and slipped something in his hand. At first Sweet was frowning, but then a shit-eating grin appeared on his face. He glanced at her with triumph, and Buffy's heart sank.
"Super Game is on!" Sweet announced. "Mercy-impaired female Buffy Summers and vampire William the Bloody will perform the last chapter of Buffy and Angel's story."
He made a dramatic pause and smiled gleefully.
"The most heartbreaking and the most erotic chapter. The story of enormous sacrifice - or maybe an enormous cowardice? The story of Angel becoming human and rejecting his humanity."
"What?" Buffy whispered. "It's impossible".
For many, many years Spike's favorite hobby was collecting Angel's gaffes and blunders. So far, the best one was the Great Poof's decision to go to the gypsies' camp, despite Dru's wailings about a filthy sorceress who'd put hellfire in his chest.
But this one was definitely bigger and juicier. To become a human, to shag the Slayer six ways from Sunday and then delete the day and pretend that nothing happened? Typical for Angel. But that idiot forgot that in LA everything is for sale. Even deleted stuff.
It took Spike enormous willpower not to smirk as Sweet was explaining to Buffy that his sources had access to the Powers That Be's super-secret transreality files and they'd provided him with a detailed report in pictures. It took Spike enormous willpower to squash his jealousy and not to smash Sweet's magic crystal projecting photos of the lovers kissing in broad daylight on the big screen. After all, this was something Spike'd be mocking Angel in years to come.
Then he glanced at Buffy's face and his heart clenched. There were tears in her eyes. She looked like somebody who was standing at the edge of precipice.
"It's a mistake," she repeated. "Your sources are wrong. Angel would never do that."
Her lower lip wobbled. Spike hated it when Buffy's lip wobbled.
"Spike!" Dawn hissed. "Don't stand there like a lamp-post! Do something! "
"Do sodding what?"
"You're Angel, remember?" Xander said.
Spike shook his head and approached Buffy slowly.
"It's not a mistake, pet," he said softly. "I, the Great Poof, couldn't deal with your love. With the enormousness of it. With your youth, your beauty, your optimism. One can't stay an optimist after dealing with people for two hundred years. You know it won't work."
"How can you defend him?"
Spike's mind was racing. She was one step from breaking down completely. It was touch-and-go.
"Right now I am him. Don't hold it, put it on him. Put it all on me!"
He staggered as she сlocked him in the jaw. "I hate you!" she sobbed. "How can I live, knowing what I had and lost? How could you do that to me?"
Spike slowly wiped the trickle of blood from his lip. "You always hurt the one you love, pet."
"Life is unfair, love." He rubbed his jaw. It hurt like hell. "It sucks to live. But it sucks even more to be dead. If he -- I -- allowed myself the luxury to be human, I'd put another burden on your shoulders, in addition to these worthless tossers..."
"Hey!" Dawn and Xander exclaimed in unison.
"You are strong, love. Not strong enough to take care of a former vamp who broods 24/7, but strong enough to put that mess behind you. You're an amazing woman, Buffy. I don't deserve you. I belong to the dark. You, my effulgent Slayer, belong to the light."
Damn, he was turning into the bloody Poof. He felt unworthy. He was brooding. He was one step away from enjoying Barry Manilow.
"I only want you to be happy. Because I'll never stop loving you, pet."
Spike's eyes stung as he hugged Buffy and stroked her hair. He felt utterly helpless in the face of her enormous grief. Damn those Power That Bitch who made their paths cross; he could give her nothing but heartbreak and pain...
"Your heart is full of love, Buffy. One day you'll find a man worthy of that love. And you'll be happy. You'll forget about me..."
"I'll never forget..." She was crying openly. "I will never forget..."
All females in the audience was sniffling and wiping tears. Males looked melancholic and pensive.
"You really love me so much?" Spike whispered.
"Then I know what I have to do. I'm worthless as a human, but I can turn back into a vampire and help you to fight the good fight. Watch your back. Satisfy your needs. And - don't worry about that pesky soul thing. I know a way to glue a soul to my body permanently. I'll go to Lloyd - that's a demon in Africa, nasty sod, but if I go through his trials, he'll grant me a permanent soul. And I'll be next to you as long as you need me."
Spike nodded. He didn't know if he was playing Angel's role or speaking from his heart. "I'll do anything for you. Just don't cry, love."
Her lips were salty, hot and desperate, and Spike drowned in her grief, her rage, her desire to love and be loved...
And -- in the thunder of applause.
"...You re-wrote history, but I've always been a proponent of artistic licence," Sweet declared. "Besides, you provided our show with the highest ratings in the last decade, so..."
Spike glanced at his grinning mug and realised that they had won.
He also realised something else. After spending several interminable minutes in Angel's shoes he'd never be able to mock Angel about his love to Buffy.
Xander glanced at his watch and started drumming his fingers on the wheel of his SUV, parked in front of Casa Summers. Spike had to hurry up or he'd miss his ship to Africa.
Yesterday Buffy had asked Xander to drive Spike to the Los Angeles harbor where he'd board a ship to Cape Town. Xander reluctantly agreed, because, you know, decent people have to encourage evil bloodsuckers' "sodding soul-quests", as they put it.
But when the above-mentioned evil bloodsucker, knapsack on his shoulder, appeared at Casa Summers, Buffy grabbed him possessively and asked him to help her "with that thing in the basement". She promised Xander that it'd take a couple of minutes. It was half an hour ago.
Where the hell are they? And what did "wanton bint" mean?
Xander sighed. All he wanted was to have a normal life - but after their return from Sweet's dimension his life had taken a turn for more craziness.
The first thing he did upon his return to Sunnydale was marrying Anya. Immediately. As in - heading to Las Vegas right now, no explanations given, no objections accepted. At first Anya was furious; when he promised her a Caribbean cruise, she relented a bit and finally she grudgingly agreed.
He couldn't abstain from murmuring "I told you" when they got back from Las Vegas and were confronted by a demon who planned to destroy their wedding to avenge Anya's old curse. Furious to be late, he tried to kill them both, but Buffy, Spike and Angel quickly sorted things out.
Yes, Angel raced to Sunnydale as soon as the video from Sweet's latest show made the Internet. He arrived at night, found Buffy patrolling at the cemetery and started to apologize for deleting the day of their wild monkey sex. Buffster clocked her ex-true love so hard he bounced off the mausoleum. He, in turn, clocked Spike who was contemplating the scene from the shadows. Spike, strangely subdued, was content with calling him a bloody ponce.
When the scene of their fight hit the Internet two hours later, it became painfully obvious that something was wrong in Sunnydale. Buffy and her undead companions buried their hatchets and started investigating. Vampire noses lead them to the basement where three geeks downloaded videos with hot stuff and uploaded their own clips in exchange, using a black magic mojo called "torrent-tracker". These jerks were neck-deep in magic - they did nasty spells and summoned demons regularly. They also had their surveillance cameras all over Sunnydale.
Spike offered to eat them. Angel offered to take them to LA for their journey of redemption. Buffy decided to call the police. Police searched the nerds' lair, found a diamond stolen from the Sunnydale museum and got them arrested.
The next day was marked with Amy's Accidental Transformation From a Rat into a Human during their small party to celebrate the victory and to reconcile Willow and Tara. Willow confessed to Tara that she did delete some of her memories - but the Cautionary Tale of a Souled Vampire Who Deleted a Day in the Life of a Vampire Slayer had taught her a good lesson.
"I realised that all our secrets will be revealed sooner or later," she said. "I'd better reveal them myself. After all, it's not as hard as it seems."
She was right, of course. As Sweet told them at parting: "Secrets and lies provide excellent stuff for showbiz gigs, but are very unpleasant in real life." Then the bastard offered them a TV show development deal and was very surprised when they refused his offer. "Typically human ungratefulness," he grumbled. "You should be thanking me for helping you to deal with your issues."
Buffy glared. "Arrogant much?"
"Look into your soul, Buffy Summers. It was cathartic, wasn't it? Revisiting the past worked as an act of exorcism. Unearthing the hidden provided the much-needed closure. You're free of your past. You're ready to start a new chapter of your life. You may look into the future with hope. Everybody needs hope - humans, demons, vampires and even vampire slayers."
...Xander glanced at his watch again. Speaking of vampires and slayers, where were they? These last days Buffy had spent so much time with Captain Peroxide that it becomes suspicious. They patrolled together every night, they exchanged funny looks, they'd go to the Bronze with the gang and then disappear upstairs...
The door banged. Buffy and Spike - flushed, disheveled, a little embarrassed - rushed out of the house and quickly jumped into his SUV. "We're sooo late!" Buffy chirped. "Xan, you're the only man in the world who can save the day - or, rather, the night!''
Xander grinned and started the engine. After all, it was none of his business. Buffy could deal with her shit. Her compact and well-muscled shit...
He winced. He so didn't have that last thought!