Author’s Notes: Set roughly during Becoming Part 1, with some tweaks to the timeline as it ventures into AU territory. The most crucial is that Buffy has not yet found the disk with the curse as these events unfold. So Buffy doesn’t know there’s a way to re-curse Angel back yet. Now that the Bangel mood theme and longing looks at Claddagh rings have been dispensed with, the tale begins.
“This is brilliant.”
Spike sighed and turned the next page of the paper in a vain attempt to tune out Angel’s voice.
“Absolutely brilliant. Acathla. You’re sure this is the one, Dru?”
Drusilla clasped her hands together and twirled around the room, her eyes closed, but her face exultant as she basked in Angel’s attention.
“It is.” She stopped beside Angel and pointed to the page in the tome before him as she looked up at him through half-lidded eyes. Drusilla gave a short bark and laughed with the pleasure of a deranged child. “The one that will open wide and swallow us whole.”
“Mmmm, sounds like my kind of party. Come sundown, I think we might have to go see about this beastie.” Angelus leaned back and pulled Dru into his lap. “We’ll need to round up a few minions, save us the heavy lifting. Course we can depend on you to guard the home front, can’t we, Roller Boy? Since you’re not really up to the heavy lifting these days.”
Dru’s squeal of delight caused him to grit his jaw as he flipped the newsprint again. Not that there were loads of items of interest in the Sunnyhell Press, but anything was better than listening to Drusilla indulging her daddy. After the second moan from the general vicinity of the table, he gave it up. He turned the cursed wheelchair for the door without a backwards glance.
Time to look up this demon himself and see just exactly what Angelus was about to unleash.
“Buffy. Would you step into my office a moment?”
Buffy followed Giles into the small office. “What’s up?”
“I need for you to run by the museum before you patrol tonight. I just spoke with Dr. Perren, the curator there, and he’s agreed to give me an additional sample of the artifact that they recently uncovered on the outskirts of Sunnydale.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Big evil a’brewing?”
“I couldn’t say for sure. The artifact was covered in an ancient writing that I’ve been trying to narrow down all day. I’d go pick it up myself, but I find myself obligated to . . .”
“Mr. Giles.” Snyder’s strident voice rang out from the door of the library. Giles shuddered.
Buffy picked up the paper with the curator’s information on it. “I’m on it, Giles.” She brushed past Snyder, ignoring his scowl.
Drusilla could see the little museum man was puzzled. He didn’t understand what the tomb was trying to tell him. She smiled around her fangs as she grasped his neck with one slim hand. Silly man.
She swallowed the blood greedily, savoring the delicacy of fear as his body jerked in final resistance in her arms.
“I’ll have one of these to go.” Angel walked into the room, flanked by minions. “Dru?”
She pulled away from the vein she was feasting on and met his eyes.
“Save me some,” Angel instructed her.
She growled and nodded as the minions worked to hoist the heavy obelisk and drag it from the building. She’d arrange the little man so prettily, and then she and Angel would share him, just like old times.
Good old Sunnydale Museum. Home of the Inca mummy girl and other fun and educational exhibits. Buffy headed for the steps. Patrol had seemed unusually dead tonight. Dead. Hee. She snorted a little laugh. At least her puns were sorta on tonight.
The museum had been closed for hours, but this curator guy was supposed to be working late in his lab, according to Giles. Buffy headed for the back, looking for an entrance. A single bare bulb weakly lit a loading dock, revealing a door to the side propped open. Bingo. She slipped inside.
The hallway leading to the double doors labeled Museum Laboratory was bathed in the red glow of security lights, lending an unnatural aura to the institutional tile. She moved forward slowly. Not that things going bump in the night made her antsy, because, hello, Slayer, but something felt off here.
She reached the half-opened doorway and stepped through. A solitary lamp knocked askew on a desk in the corner was the only source of illumination, drawing her attention to the dim glow it cast on a stone block standing at the room’s center. She stopped dead, as though all her blood had frozen in her veins at the sight before her.
A man’s body lay sprawled with the abandon of death across a table positioned in front of the stone like an alter. Long dark hair partially obscured him as he was held in a parody of a lover’s embrace by the vampiress latched onto his throat.
But the thing that was most obscene, the image that would be forever burned into her brain, was the third figure in the tableau. Another vampire. Sculpted muscles flexing as he pounded her body to a soundtrack of whimpers and moans. His pale back marred only by the stylized image of an Angel. Her Angel.
She didn’t even hear the soft fall of footsteps behind her or resist the quick yank of arms that pulled her through a door to the side.
Buffy stumbled and regained her equilibrium only as the door closed, leaving her in total darkness. She stiffened as a hand covered her mouth and a voice she recognized whispered in her ear.
Buffy stiffened and reacted immediately with an elbow to the ribs. She could hear the whoosh of breath as she connected, but he held on to her and hissed against her hair.
“Slayer. Listen. Angelus just sent for a cadre of vamps to help him haul off his sodding toy and they’ll be here any minute. You think you can take ten or eleven vamps by yourself?”
She shook her head and jerked away from him, reaching for the door. “No, but I might could take on the two of them.” She reached for the handle, but the clatter of multiple footsteps sounded from the hallway, and Angel’s muffled voice could be heard directing the operations. The reinforcements had arrived. More than she could handle.
She turned and slumped to the floor in defeat, Spike momentarily forgotten.
Minutes ticked by, punctuated by the sounds of muffled curses interspersed with the thuds of the stone tomb sliding towards the door. Buffy closed her eyes against the darkness, but the same image replayed over and over in full technicolor.
It wasn’t as though it was a surprise that he‘d be with her. She knew what Drusilla had been in Angel’s past. What had he called her? His obsession.
Logic didn’t make it hurt less.
“Slayer? I think they’re gone.”
She started out of her reverie as his voice cut through the darkness. “What? Right, how could I forget? Spike.”
She fumbled for the back of her skirt where she’d stashed her stake, only to come up empty-handed. Damn it, she must have dropped it. That wasn’t good.
“They’ve left,” he repeated.
Well, staking him could wait until later. She just wanted to get out of here. She stood, reached for the doorknob and turned.
She jiggled the knob and applied more pressure.
A click behind her bathed the room in a pool of light as Spike turned on a sadly battered gooseneck lamp.
“What’s the matter, Slayer?”
She ignored him and searched for a lock release before twisting harder to no avail. Buffy stared at the door in disbelief and whirled around. “I know you did not just get us locked in here, Spike.”
“Please, Slayer.” Spike brushed past her as he strode to the door and tried to turn the knob. “Bugger.”
Buffy pushed him aside impatiently. “Here, let me try it again.” She rattled the knob with no success.
“So much for Slayer strength.” Spike slouched against the wall next to her.
“Oh, yeah? It wasn’t like you got it open either, mister. Aren’t you supposed to have preternatural strength, or something?”
“Ohh, big words, Slayer. Picking up the Watcher lingo?”
Buffy ignored Spike, who went back to wrestling with the unyielding knob, and surveyed the tiny windowless room they were locked in. Some really low-level office maybe? It was pretty crappy.
There was a metal desk at the rear with a lonely and disheveled office chair sadly tucked behind it, scattered piles of paper decorating the scarred top. A row of filing cabinets lining the walls were the room’s only remaining items.
Buffy began to pace the three lengths of space remaining, ignoring the cursing vampire behind her. She sighed. Zero stakes. One locked door. Vamp who’d killed two Slayers. This was not adding up to be her night. She had to get out of here.
The reverberations of Spike’s fist landing against the door shattered her thoughts.
“I have to get out of here,” he growled.
“Well at least there’s one thing we agree on. What the hell was that, Spike, dragging me in here?”
He turned and leaned against the door, regarding her appraisingly. “Well, pardon me, Slayer, for keeping you from getting killed.”
“I could have taken them.”
He chuckled slightly, searching through his duster’s pockets for a cigarette without success. “Right. You were so shell-shocked one of the minions could have knocked you off.”
She bit her tongue and retreated to the rear of the office. He was right, though she hated to admit it. She’d told herself a hundred times she was ready, she could kill him. But every time she backed down. Even after Ms. Calendar, she still saw Angel every time they fought. Until she looked into his soulless eyes.
But tonight, that had been a whole new level of pain. She probably would have been dead before the shock had worn off. She turned back to him.
“So what do you care, Spike? I’d think you’d be rah-rah for knocking me off.”
His smile left her a little cold. “You have a point there, pet. Not a fan of your kind. But there’s bigger fish to fry than you tonight.”
Buffy settled into the rickety chair. “So, you got something to say, guess this would be the time. I do believe a few hours have opened up in my schedule.”
He nodded and settled back against the wall. “You see the big hunk of stone out there?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah. So?”
“Not a big rock, at all. It’s a tomb, contains a beastie named Acathla.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “A what a?”
“Acathla. Buried long ago, until some ninnies unearthed him a few days past. Dru,” his voice wavered for a moment, then he continued. “She gets the visions, you know. Knew it was something special. Told the great wanker and he came over all enthralled like with the prospect of raising hell on earth.”
Buffy groaned. “An apocalypse?”
“Something like that.”
She pondered for a minute. “So why are you telling me? Thought you demons liked that sort of thing, being, you know, evil.”
He laughed. “Yeah. Depends on the evil. I’m looking for a pact, pet. I think we have a mutual interest.”
“And what could I possibly have in common with you, Spike?”
His grin was almost feral. “We both want to see Angelus dead.”
Spike had been pacing for what seemed like hours now and it was about to drive her insane.
They’d made an uneasy truce, and she knew Giles would be able to use the information, and that she’d be better equipped to stop Angel . . . no, Angelus, with an inside source.
But she had to get out of this room before she totally lost it. Stake or no stake, she’d rip his head off if he didn’t stop with the back and forth, back and forth, like some kind of big, black cat. He turned and headed back towards the door for the millionth time and she screamed.
“Would you please stop pacing like that?”
“You have any other suggestions, pet?” There was something about the way he said it that sounded just a little dirty, but his eyes were wide and as innocent as a vamp’s could be as he regarded her.
“Yeah, you could sit still.” Buffy paused. “Come to think of it, why aren’t you sitting still? Weren’t you in a wheelchair?”
“Yes, I was, no thanks to you. Finally healed up.” He leaned over the desk. “And don’t think I wouldn’t be biting you right now for that, if I didn’t hate him more.”
She sneered. “Like you could.”
He launched himself over the desk at her full tilt with a roar, and the force of gravity carried the rickety chair over with both their combined weights as she sought to roll him off of her. The cramped room hardly allowed for much of a fight, but she managed to shift his balance and regain the upper hand briefly as she scrambled to her feet, ready to take him down.
He jumped up as well, bouncing with anticipation. “Now that’s a suggestion. Come on, Slayer, give it to me good.”
She launched a kick that he deflected and he feinted to her left. She groaned. Always her weak spot, dropping that shoulder. How’d he know that?
His next punch brought her into the fight and they engaged in earnest, a flurry of blows with neither gaining a real advantage. One of the filing cabinets swayed dangerously as they crashed against it, and a deluge of papers from the desktop lay underfoot as they circled each other.
She finally managed to catch him off guard, and with a sweep sent him crashing to the ground where she quickly pinned him and reached for her stake. Crap. No stake. Of all times to not have wood.
Or then again. She suddenly became aware of their position, him stretched beneath her, pinned by her thighs while she straddled him, her skirt riding up her thighs and . . . Agh. Wood. Of the unpiney kind.
Buffy emitted a small eep and leapt to her feet.
“Um, there’s got to be a pencil here somewhere. Hold on a minute.”
She scampered behind the relative safety of the desk like a frightened bunny as Spike raised up onto his elbows and regarded her curiously.
“Wait right there, I know there must be a pencil here.”
He rolled his eyes as she began jerking open drawers. “Mechanical pencils, pens, highlighters . . . wait!”
Spike just stared at her from the floor. Possibly questioning her sanity.
“Ha! I’ve found the mother lode!” She delved into the lowest drawer. “Looks like whoever uses this office is a chocoholic.”
She came up with several Hershey bars and piled them on the desk before glancing back down. “Oh. Hmm, and also an alcoholic.” She pulled out two bottles of Jack Daniels, both nearly full.
Spike was on his feet in an instant. “Now you’re talking, Slayer. Pony up.”
Buffy cradled the chocolate bars to her chest. “Find your own.”
He brushed past her and picked up the Jack. “Keep the chocolate, pet, not what I was after.”
Buffy broke open the seal and savored the first bar as it hit her tongue. Heaven in a silver wrapper. She opened her eyes to find Spike regarding her speculatively as he took a swig from the bottle. She ignored him and broke off another piece.
“For that? Ugh. I don’t think so.” Buffy made a face, wrinkling her nose at the thought of the bitter taste.
“Oh, I see. Can’t handle your drink?” He nodded. “Yeah, I figured you were a bit of a lightweight.”
“I can handle my drink just fine, Spike.” Buffy grabbed the other bottle. No way was she going to use his bottle. No telling what kind of things you could get from drinking after the undead.
She gingerly put the bottle to her mouth and took a tentative sip, followed by a long shudder. “Blegghhh.” She grabbed another piece of chocolate and popped it in her mouth to smooth out the aftertaste of the liquor. With the chocolate chaser, it was almost bearable.
“Where’d the chocolate go?” Buffy peered blearily at the wrappers before her, a frown marring her face.
“All gone, Slayer. Same place as the whiskey. Take it back, what I said. Not a lightweight at all.”
She smiled and peered at him, hoping he‘d come into focus if she could just get him to stop moving back and forth. “Why thank you, Spike. Why are you moving?”
“Not going anywhere. Staying right here.”
“’kay.” She regarded the bottle in front of her, quiet for the moment. Every time she closed her eyes, it was back in instant replay.
“I know why you want him dead.” She pointed the bottle at him accusingly.
“’Cause of her.”
“Among other reasons, but yeah, that’s about it.” He took the final drink from his bottle.
He frowned. “What’d you mean, why?”
She stood up, swaying unevenly. “Just that. I mean why? What’s so special about her? How can you love her so much, when she’s, she’s, you know . . .”
“Fucking him? Those the words that can’t seem to make it out your delicate lips, pet?” He snorted. “It’s complicated. Drusilla, she’s the sun and the moon to me, you know? She made me. And he made her. She always wants her daddy.”
Whoa. Daddy. That was just . . . way too twisty for her fuzzy brain to wrap itself around. Buffy dismissed the thought as she made her way over and eased her way down the wall to sit beside him. Besides, she didn’t really want to know about Drusilla.
“Am I pretty, Spike?”
He nodded his head. “You know you are, Slayer.”
His words were a small balm. “Really?”
He nodded. “’s what I thought when I first saw you. Bleeding gorgeous. Best looking Slayer I’ve seen in years, and I’ve seen more than a few.”
She warmed for a moment, then her face fell again.
“Then why . . .” She stopped. “It’s just every time I close my eyes I see them. And it hurts so much.” She turned to Spike, and locked onto his eyes. “Doesn’t it hurt?”
“Can you make it stop?”
He brushed away the tear trickling down her cheek. “For a while. If you’ll let me, I can make you forget all about him.”
She didn’t think twice about accepting his offer.
It wasn’t pretty. Teeth nipping at her throat, just enough to make her remember this was a vampire who had her sprawled across a gunmetal gray metal desk, its smooth surface cold on her bare legs as he pushed her skirt up and ripped her panties away.
She pulled him down to her, fumbling for his zipper and yanking it down, loosening the jeans from his narrow hips.
“Tell me what you want, Slayer,” he hissed as his hips slid against hers, tantalizing her with the hard length.
Her eyes locked with his. “To not still love him so much.” She arched her back, searching for what he was holding just out of reach. “What do you want?”
“To not be love’s bitch.”
She tried to suppress the moan she could feel building in her throat as his tongue traced the veins in her neck.
“So we’re agreed,” she managed to gasp out.
“Absolutely.” He forced her head up to look at him. “That all you want?”
He smiled with just a hint of fang, and she felt a frisson bordering on fear run through her veins. “Me neither. I’m gonna fuck him out of your memory tonight, Slayer.”
She felt the rush of wetness between her legs at the promise. “I’m not her, Spike.”
“Don’t want you to be. Want you to be the Slayer.”
He slid home and her whole body clenched at the intrusion. For that moment, that instant, she refused to think about the coming apocalypse, about the image that would forever haunt her of Angel driving into Drusilla, about another night she could never forget.
His tongue tangled with hers and she was left with the impression of rich, dark chocolate, far better than the bars she’d tasted earlier. His skin wasn’t quite cool, but wasn’t warm, either. For a moment, memories of Angel threatened to surface, despite her best intentions, and she felt the tears start to rise. But then he twisted his fingers into her hair, and the slight tug as he angled her to him brought her back to him.
Because at that moment, with the liquor still racing through her veins leaving her warm and relaxed, and Spike’s hands and lips doing amazing things to her nerve endings, she found she just didn’t care that it was her mortal enemy, the thing she was born to destroy, that was the source of her pleasure. Tomorrow, she’d go back to trying to kill him and he’d go back to trying to kill her. Or maybe the uneasy truce would hold between them.
But for tonight, it didn‘t matter. Because with him buried deep within her, there was no room for the memory of anyone else.
And that was exactly where she needed him to be.
The sound of keys in the door made Spike jerk up and promptly meet the top of the desk with a resounding bang. He shook his head as the night came rushing back, and muffled an oath at the sight of a sleeping Buffy curled under his duster.
“Slayer, wake up.”
The door opened, but an exclamation from the hallway halted the footsteps.
“Slayer, wake up, we have to get out of here.”
“Whaaa, huh . . .” Buffy emerged from beneath the worn leather, her hair askew and mascara blurred. “Spike. Oh . . . Spike.” Her brain refused to process the fact that she was waking up next to a vampire with a massive hangover. She stuck out her tongue and rubbed a hand to her splitting head. “Ugh. I think a cat died in my mouth, and maybe on my head.”
“Slayer, we don’t have time for you to groom. They’re finding the bloodbath out there now, we have to get out of here. Just remember what we talked about, yeah? You work it out with the Watcher.”
It all started coming back to her then. Last night. Angel. Acathla. Spike.
“Spike.” But he was already gone and she could hear the voices in the hallway. She jumped to her feet, straightened her skirt, and ran through the open door, ignoring the demands for her to stop and the voices in her head.