By Tami (tabrandt @ hotmail.com)
Disclaimer: The characters from ATS / BTVS are owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox studios. This story is not meant to infringe upon anyone's rights, only to entertain.
BETA: Myself, Morgan
Pairing – M/M, Angelus/Spike, Angel/Spike
Timeline – ATS Season 4/BTVS Season 7-AU
Summary - With both Angel and Cordelia still missing, Fred and Gunn try to keep Angel Investigations running while they search for their friends. Ironically, the man everyone believes betrayed Angel is the one who finally comes to Angel's rescue. Then, as suddenly as she had vanished, Cordelia inexplicably reappears with no recollection of her life or her friends. Unbeknownst to the team, things aren’t always what they appear. Even as Cordelia regains her memory, she harbors a secret that will change their lives forever. Finally, Spike returns from his sojourn abroad with his gift to Angel that leaves him mentally unstable. Meanwhile, in Sunnydale, Dawn starts her sophomore year at the new Sunnydale High School with a mysterious new principal that may shake things up. Oh, and there's an apocalypse a'comin' on two fronts.
Feedback – It would be appreciated. My plot bunny has been lagging lately.
Author's Note - This story came to me after watching how Buffy treated Spike in SMASHED - AS YOU WERE (BTVS, Season 6). I wondered how Angel would truly feel, if he really knew how Buffy mistreated Spike. Yes, Spike is the Big Bad, and he and Angel normally don't see eye-to-eye, but they are family nonetheless
Word Count: 10,475 overall
How to Treat Your Lover Soundtrack (Feel free to suggest a song/scene)
( Book 1 )
( Book 2 )
( Book 3 )
( Previous Chapters for Book 4 )
Chapter 60-A: Step 4 – Reconciliation (Part 10)
Los Angeles, Hyperion Hotel Stairwell
Angelus groaned when he heard the faint call of his name in his mind.
Angelus, he heard again, a little louder this time.
Spike? Angelus queried.
Yeah, ponce. I’ve been trailing you around the hotel this whole time and then you sort of went off the grid. What happened to you?
You let Lilah Morgan get the better of you? And here I was going to pitch in if you killed her, but if you’re getting rusty in your old age . . .
Go to hell, Spike, Angelus groused.
You first, mate. Oh, wait. You already did go first – when another bint kicked your arse. Are you sure this isn't some kink?
When I get hold of you, William, I’m going to . . .
You’re gonna what? Shag me to death?
Ripping the flesh off your bones a strip at a time is a more entertaining notion, Angelus groaned again as he sat up and shook his head to clear it. He pushed the room service cart off of him with such force that it flew into the wall of the stairwell, denting and cracking the plaster.
I thought you wanted to shag and drink me at the same time?
That too. Where are you anyway?
I’ll deal with you later – after I track down that evil bitch. Angelus heard Spike chuckle in his mind. What the hell are you laughing at, boy?
The most evil vampire I know, the Scourge of Europe, thinks Lilah Morgan, a soddin’ solicitor, is an evil bitch. Bloody marvelous!
You are begging for a lashing. All Angelus heard in response was Spike cackling in his mind.
“Sodding git,” Angelus grumbled aloud as he got to his feet and took the stairs two and three at a time. He followed Lilah’s scent, which was stronger now. He turned the corner, strolled down a corridor, and stopped upon reaching Lilah’s body lying on the floor. “Huh.” Rolling his eyes at the scene in front of him, he added, “Isn't this a bag of bastards. I wanted to kill her, damn it.”
Hyperion Hotel Hallway
Wesley and Gunn walked the hallways seeking Lilah. They rounded a corner and Gunn collided with Wesley, nearly knocking him down, when the former Watcher stopped dead in his tracks. “Lilah!”
Gunn looked over Wesley’s shoulder to see Angelus standing in the middle of the hallway, holding Lilah’s dead body in his arms, feeding from a gaping wound in her neck.
Angelus looked up, sensing the human eyes upon him. “Cheers, guys – this is not what it looks like. Not exactly,” Angelus poorly attempted to explained his predicament just about the time Gunn hurled a battle-axe at him. The dark vampire dodged out of the way, the axe missing him by inches and embedding in the wall adjacent to him. “A little too tart for me, anyway. You know what I mean, Wes?” Angelus dropped Lilah’s body on the floor, gave them a mock salute and said, “Kill you later!”
With that, Angelus dashed in the opposite direction and leapt headlong out of the open window at the end of the hall. Gunn tried in vain to catch up to the vampire before he plunged out the window, leaving a shocked Wesley to stare numbly at Lilah’s body and her horrific neck wound.
Hyperion Hotel Lobby
Cordelia sat on a couch while Spike perched on the armrest beside her. Lorne and Fred were gathered there, waiting to tend to her wound once Spike had the arrow out.
"Count of three," the blonde vampire told her and Cordelia nodded, prepared to steel herself. "One—," and he ripped the arrow out of her leg.
Cordelia screamed with the searing pain.
The group looked up as Gunn came down the stairs, sans Wesley, asking, “She okay?”
“She’s lost a lot of blood, but she’ll live,” Spike replied.
"What the hell happened to three?" she demanded angrily.
"Wouldn't have helped," he assured her before he rose and tossed the arrow into the trash.
“Where’s Angelus?” Cordelia demanded of Gunn, seeking to distract herself.
“Gone. He killed Lilah,” Gunn informed them.
Everyone looked at him in shock.
“Oh, God,” Cordelia gasped.
Now that he had taken out the arrow, Spike followed Gunn upstairs to help Wesley with Lilah’s body. Fred moved into Spike’s vacated spot and bandaged Cordelia’s leg.
“It’s started,” Cordelia sighed before a subtle, evil grin crossed her lips. Lorne and Fred were too busy patching her up to notice.
A while later, Spike, Gunn and Wesley came down the stairs with Lilah’s body. Gunn rushed to spread out a plastic sheet and Wesley reverently laid her body on it. He and Gunn wrapped the plastic around her body while Spike stood guard, staring out of the window.
Looking down at Lilah, Wesley spoke up, breaking the somber silence. “I was reckless in thinking we could go after him. That allowed Angelus to double back on us, giving him the chance to –” He looked up at the others. “From now on, we all stay close.”
“And do what? If Angelus is coming back for us, we can’t just waiting for him to drop by. We need to do something; board up the windows, make it safe somehow.” Fred looked around to see if anyone agreed with her. “Don’t you think?”
“This is his lair. If he wants in, nothing’s going to stop him,” Spike said without looking away from the windows.
“The birth of a notion, kids,” Lorne said excitedly. “We use the sanctuary spell. That anti-demon-violence ward I used down at Caritas. It won’t keep Angelus from making a house call, but it should keep carnage down to a minimum.”
“That takes some doing, doesn’t it?” Gunn asked skeptically.
“I could put a call into the Furies,” Lorne suggested. “Maybe they could tech-support me through a quickie version, Ward Lite.”
“Isn’t magic how this all started in the first place, green jeans? Cordelia’s spell bollocksed up, and now he’s on the loose?” Spike pointed out.
“Cordy, why didn’t it work?” Fred asked. “The spell to bring Angel’s soul back. Did we do something wrong?”
Cordelia shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Yeah,” Gunn turned on Lorne accusingly. “How did you get so fooled, Lorne? Reading Angelus wrong like that. You were so sure he was Angel.”
Lorne opened his mouth to object, but Cordelia beat him to it. “Don’t put this on him. I’m the one who let Angelus out. It’s all my fault.”
“It’s nobody’s fault,” Fred interjected.
“I’ll tell you whose fault it is – the Powers That sit on their Be-hind sending us useless, cryptic messages –” Gunn said. He looked down at Lilah’s plastic-covered body. “Don’t you think we should destroy her?”
“What?” Wesley asked, shocked.
Gunn gestured at Lilah. “The body. She could have been Sired.”
“One, there wasn’t enough time. Two, the last thing Angelus would want to do is Sire Lilah Morgan,” Spike pointed out.
Wesley stood. “True, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. We can’t take any chances.” He grabbed a battle-axe off the wall. “I’ll take care of it.”
Los Angeles, Demon Bar
Various vampires and demons were smoking and drinking in a country-western bar. Angelus sauntered in like he owned the place. He started pushing other demons around and questioning them about The Beast when two vampires who were playing pool noticed him.
The first vampire looked up from the pool table and patted his buddy’s arm to get his attention. “Hey. Hey. Isn’t that . . . ?”
The second vampire looked to see who he was pointing at and agreed, “Yeah.”
Angelus stepped into the center of the room. “That’s right, brothers and sisters. The rumors are true. Angel has left the building, and I am back.”
The crowd of demons clapped and shouts of ‘welcome back’ were heard.
Angelus gave a small bow and with a smirk, adding, “But hey, I’m no different than the next guy; I peel off my victims’ skin, one leg at a time.”
During his ‘back from the beyond’ speech, a blonde female vampire rushed up to him and plastered herself to his side. “Angelus! Remember me?”
Angelus gave her a withering glance and sighed. She looked familiar, and the vague memory he had of her was that she was as annoying back then as she was now. “Not really,” he lied.
She slapped his arm. “Oh, come on! A little town outside Tuscany, 1845, give or take.” When he still seemed clueless, she said excitedly, “Rosaria!”
Angelus remembered Tuscany in 1845, but his recollection of her was still hazy.
“Rosaria. Right,” Angelus acknowledged. He started to walk away from her, but she stopped him.
“Yeah. I flew in with some of my friends when we heard about the permanent midnight.” Angelus used her blathering as a distraction while he grabbed a pool cue from another vampire and hid it behind his back. “Hey, a bunch of us are gonna raid a pre-school later. You wanna join us?” Angelus broke the pool cue in half. “Have a little kiddie cockta—” Angelus staked Rosaria with the pool cue. She screamed and turned to dust.
Angelus sighed in relief now that the jabbering stopped and commented to himself, “Everybody wants a piece of you.” He waved away the dust from Rosaria and walked up to a demon at the bar. “I’m looking for the Beast. A guy over there told me you might know where he hangs his horns.”
An ugly, fat, fleshy demon turned around the face Angelus. His jowls sagged below his jaw line and he had numerous double chins. Furthermore, he had five conical horns of various sizes sticking out of his skull. He wore a flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off.
“Whoa!” the demon said in awe. “You’re him. Talking to me. Not usually impressed by vampires, but this is such a—such an honor. Hey, could you sign a little something for my hell-spawn? Make it out to Ashley. She’s a beautiful little –” Angelus stabbed the demon in the hand with a pen. The demon writhed in pain. “Agh!”
Angelus grabbed the demon around what would technically be his neck. “Maybe some other time. Where is the Beast?”
“I-I don’t know, I swear!” the demon stammered, panicked.
One of the two vampires playing pool leaned against the table and spoke up. “I’ve seen him, the Beast, seen him a couple of times.” Angelus turned his attention on the vampire. “Near the buildings down by the wash.”
Angelus released his captive and moved closer to the scrawny vampire as he demanded, “Show me.”
Los Angeles, Hyperion Hotel Basement
Wesley stood in front of a table on which Lilah’s plastic-wrapped body was stretched out. He unwrapped it just enough that he could see her face and grabbed his battle-axe with purpose. With his other hand, he tenderly brushed her hair out of her face. Then her eyes opened slowly as he gazed into her pale face.
“Why so glum? It is kinda what you wanted, isn’t it? I mean, deep down,” Lilah gave him a teasing smile. “Me out of the picture – utterly, finally. You can’t get outer than this. It makes your life simpler, doesn’t it? Cleaner?”
“I didn’t want this,” Wesley denied.
“Come on, what are you worried about, Wesley?” Lilah sat up on the far edge of the table, facing away from him. “You hated yourself for being with me. Or maybe you just hated yourself for loving being with me.” Lilah laughed. “Hey, semantics, right?” She stood up from the table and walked over to Wesley. “In any case, we both know, sooner or later, it would come to a messy end. For one of us, anyway.” Lilah pulled him around to face her, tenderly touching his face and arms. “So ease up on that furrowed brow. You’re free now. No longer encumbered with the secret shame of our relationship.”
“It wasn’t a relationship,” Wesley adamantly contradicted her.
Lilah smirked at him. “There’s a signed dollar bill in your wallet I think proves different. You knew how I felt.”
“You don’t feel anything,” Wesley glared at her.
“The only true thing I ever –” Lilah started to say.
Wesley turned his back on Lilah’s apparition to look at her corpse on the table. “You didn’t love me. You couldn’t.”
Lilah stepped up beside him and gazed down at her corpse. “We’ll never know now, will we?”
Suddenly her specter disappeared leaving Wesley standing alone, looking at her body laid out on the table.
Los Angeles, Underpass
The two vampires from the bar led Angelus down a dark street at a highway underpass.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is the place.” Addressing his buddy, he asked, “This is the place, right?”
“Hey man, you saw the thing. I didn’t,” the other vampire said.
“Where was the Beast headed?” Angelus asked. The two vampires annoyed him. How they got turned and didn’t end up as minions was beyond his understanding. They’d been acting like Heckle and Jeckle ever since they left the bar. It gave Angelus new incentive for staking unruly childer once they were newly risen. These two weren’t even a pale comparisons to the entertainment William afforded when first presented to him by Drusilla.
“Uh, I can’t remember,” the first vampire said, doing his best impression of one of the Three Stooges.
Angelus grabbed the vampire by the collar and yanked him closer, pulling the vampire off his feet, snarling, “Try remembering harder, Paco.”
“Okay, okay,” the vampire said hurriedly. “I was just trying to steer clear of the mammoth, all right? You know what I’m saying?”
“Listen to what I’m saying. I don’t have time to –” Angelus trailed off as something farther down the street caught his attention. He put down the vampire and walked away.
“Hey, hey man,” the vampire called after him. “You want us to come with or . . . uh, all right, we’ll just stay here and wait.” He punched his friend in the arm. “You made him nervous!”
“Me?” the second vampire squeaked in surprise.
Hyperion Hotel Lobby
Gunn and Fred raided the kitchen and hauled out all of the spices they could find. They put them on the reception desk in front of Lorne who was on the phone talking to the Furies – or trying to since the three girls finished each other’s sentences. Cordelia sat on one of the couches and Spike paced the entryway in front of the main doors.
“Mm-hmm,” Lorne was saying. “Yeah, okay. All right, well not so fast, girls. Yeah, one at a time. Yeah, okay.” Lorne grabbed a pen and hastily wrote down their instructions as fast as he could keep up with their lilting voices. “Violence restrained. Uh-huh. Go on.”
“That’s everything we could find,” Fred announced as she set the last of the spices down on the desk.
Lorne didn’t even bother to put the girls on hold. He took the phone away from his ear and covered the mouthpiece with his hand. Addressing Fred and Gunn, he relayed the Furies message, “They say we need bloodroot.”
“Bloodroot?” Gunn repeated thoughtfully. “Man, we just raided the spice rack in the kitchen. There ain’t no bloodroot in there.”
Lorne put the phone to his ear again. “Uh, you’ll have to eighty-six the bloodroot, ladies. Anything else we can – Well, yeah, I have, uh,” Lorne looked at the labels in front him. “Paprika, ginger, allspice, clove – Cloves? That’ll work? Oh, got it. Beautiful. Hey, as soon as FTD’s delivering in the city again, expect a “Thanks a Bunch” bouquet from me, girls. Ciao!” Lorne hung up with an excited, “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
“Looks like we got our home security spell,” Cordelia observed.
“Right you are, missy. As soon as we sprinkle burnt clove dust around the perimeter, light a few candles, chant a few choice phrases, we’ll be –”
Spike continued to pace the entryway. “You might want to get to it, instead of talking about it, Lorne. The sooner we get the spell in place, the sooner I can go out and find Angelus.”
“But Wesley said we shouldn’t go after him,” Fred reminded him.
“Yeah? Well, he ain’t my boss. My mate and Sire is out there doing who knows what to the populace. I’d rather be out there distracting him from slaughtering the city than staying here waiting for marching orders. I’m not Captain Cardboard. I never jumped on command. And where the bloody hell is Percy anyway?” Spike asked, ending his rant.
He knew Wesley and Lilah had a sexual relationship. They reeked of each other’s scent that could only come from prolonged sexual contact. Given that, Spike could understand mourning a loss. Maybe deep down, Wesley did love Lilah. He could give the former Watcher that too. If it were up to him, Spike would have just buried Lilah and been done with it. He’d had a glimpse at the twin puncture marks and could tell right off that Angelus had not killed her. His Sire would have just ripped her throat out. Spike reached up and caressed the scars on his neck that were left after Angel had taken a good chunk out of him while having sex on their vacation in Colorado last year. Now, there was an apocalypse going on that refused to be put on hold, but Wesley wanted to be on the safe side and decapitate Lilah. So, how long did it really take to come to terms with your lover’s death and cut off her head?
“Boss or no, he’s right when he says we stay together ’til we know what we have to do,” Gunn said.
“Angel told me what I should do if he got out and things went bad. But I’m not going to kill him either. If I’m out there keeping him busy, it means he’s not making things worse while you all find the Beast,” Spike said.
“Aren’t you forgetting something? Angel’s soul is still out there somewhere. That means there’s still a chance of bringing him back,” Fred pointed out.
“And how many people have to die before you all find the Muo-Ping it’s in?” Spike asked. “I’ve been down this road before with the Slayer; back when Angelus wanted to end the world -- and damn near pulled it off. I’m all for maiming and killing like any other vampire, but as long as I’m in here and not out there, leveling the playing field . . .” Spike just shook his head and smacked his hands against the door frame as he stormed out of the hotel.
‘Spike, don’t! Come back! You can’t –” Cordelia half-heartedly tried to stop him, but the second she stood up the world tilted and she fainted and fell to the ground.
“Cordy!” Fred cried out.
“Get her to the couch,” Gunn ordered. He, Fred and Lorne carefully picked up Cordelia and moved her to a nearby chair.
After a while, Cordelia woke up. “What happened?”
“You fainted,” Fred said.
“Oh. You mean like this?” Cordelia asked, and promptly fainted in the chair.
“All right,” Gunn said airily. “Let’s get her upstairs.”
Lorne and Gunn carried Cordelia upstairs to her room.
“Hopefully Spike finds Angelus soon,” Lorne said as he helped carry Cordelia. Sure, having Angelus and Spike teamed up together was a bad thing, but with Spike having a soul now, maybe if he caught up with Angelus there might be a chance while they figured out a way to kill the Beast.
Stockton, California, Northern California Women’s Correctional Facility
Coils of barbed wire lined the top of the high chain-link fence. Armed guards positioned at rooftop sentry locations kept careful watch over the women inside the fence who played cards, basketball or worked out. A male guard stepped up to a control panel.
“Four-three-zero-zero-one-nine – Coming out,” the guard announced.
He pressed a button on the panel, the door buzzed open, and Faith walked out into the yard.
Faith gave the guard a nod of acknowledgement before making her way to the exercise equipment in the yard. Using her Slayer strength, she jumped up to the highest bar and used it to perform pull-ups with ease as she gazed away from the yard, through the fence.
A tough-looking woman wearing a bandana walked toward Faith, simultaneously reaching inside her shirt for the knife that was smuggled into the prison for her to use specifically against Faith. Before the woman could get a swing at Faith, the Slayer used her strength to propel her body around, kicking the woman in the face, knocking her down. Faith did a forward flip dismount from the bar, landing on her feet. The woman who attacked her lay on the ground trying to reach the knife, a wicked looking blade with a jewel-encrusted hilt.
Faith looked down at her, body poised for another attack. “Okay, you got my attention. What’s your beef, Deb?” She stepped back in a defensive position as Deb stood up, holding the knife threateningly at Faith. “You really ought to think twice,” Faith warned. Deb swung the knife at Faith, but Faith pushed her away. “Or not.”
“It’s nothing personal,” Deb said as she jabbed the knife at Faith, who punched Deb in the face, knocking her down. “I need the money!”
Faith grabbed a bell bar with a huge weight at either end, jabbing one end of it in Deb’s face, breaking the woman’s nose. Faith dropped the bell bar.
“For a nose job?” Faith asked.
A guard finally made it onto the scene to break up the fight.
Faith raised her hands immediately. “Hey, hey, self defense! She attacked me, Eddie.”
“Yeah, I saw the whole thing,” the guard said and then addressed his partner, “Take her to the infirmary.” The second guard helped Deb up and escorted her out of the yard as she held her nose.
“Wait, you saw?” Faith asked surprised they didn’t come sooner.
“Hey, it caught us by surprise,” the guard said. “I mean, who’d be crazy enough to try to take you out?” He picked up the knife and turned it over in his hands.
Los Angeles, Hyperion Hotel Basement
Wesley sat staring at Lilah’s corpse as her apparition talked to him from across the room.
“I know what it is. The reason you’re having such a hard time with this. Why you’re taking so long – you know . . .” she made a cracking noise as she gestured across her throat with her hand. “The awful truth is: you couldn’t save me. And this is the exclamation point.”
“I saved you from the Beast, for all the good it did,” Wesley pointed out sadly.
Lilah gave him a soft smile. “Wesley, you know that’s not what I’m talking about. You couldn’t save me from me.”
“Is that what you thought?” Wesley asked.
“Me?” Lilah laughed. “Lover, I’m not even here. I’m just a figment in your devilishly handsome head. So, clearly, it’s what you thought. For all your supposed darkness, edge of the razor mystique,” she moved closer and whispered in his ear, “there was always a small part of you that thought you could pull me back from the brink of my evil, evil ways. Help me find redemption.”
“Redemption?” Wesley echoed.
Lilah stood behind his chair with her hands on his shoulders. “Angel’s influence, I suppose. The whole not giving up on someone, no matter how far he – or she – has fallen. Oh, well. Too late for me.” Wesley stood up. “Let’s just get it over with. That body’s not going to dismember itself, you know.”
Wesley raised the battle-axe he’d been holding the whole time. “I’m sorry, Lilah.”
“Oh, Wes, we don’t have that word in our vocabulary. Not people like you and –”
Lilah’s voice suddenly cut off as Wesley swung the axe. When he pulled it back, the edge was covered in blood. He dropped the axe and leaned heavily on the table as he broke down in mournful tears.
Los Angeles, Warehouse District
Angelus walked into an abandoned warehouse.
He chuckled evilly. “This is how you treat an old friend? Kill the chick I was chasing, then lure me here with the scent of her blood?” He eyed the blood-covered, twin-tined knife that Cordelia used to kill Lilah, sitting on a wooden crate.
The Beast walked out of the shadows, between the stacks of wooden crates. “We were never friends, Angelus.”
“Oh, I know,” Angelus said airily. “But calling you a big dumb hunk of rock seemed a little on the nose.” When the Beast failed to see the humor, Angelus shrugged. “Come on . . . I’m teasing. It’s been . . . what, a couple of hundred years? You still want to kick my ass?”
“It’s true, I long to crush your skull, but I didn’t bring you here to fight. That wasn’t my instruction,” the Beast said.
Angelus raised a brow. “Your instruction?”
“My master has requested you,” the Beast said, ignoring his question.
“Your master,” Angelus repeated as he looked at the knife. “Nice workmanship. Did you make this in shop class for Daddy?” Angelus wandered over and picked up the knife.
“Don’t touch that,” the Beast warned, though to Angelus’s ears it lacked any threat.
Angelus laughed at him instead. “Sorry. I can see you put a lot of yourself into it.” He put down the knife. “So . . . the attack on Angel Investigations, rain of fire, blotting out the sun –”
“Stealing your soul,” the Beast added, “all designed by my master to bring forth and keep Angelus.”
Angelus chuckled. “Hell of a plan. Real ‘big picture’ thinking,” he made air quotes when he said ‘big picture’. “So, when can I meet the big brain behind my liberation?”
“In time. For now, you will take your orders through me,” the Beast said.
Angelus scoffed. He was the Scourge of Europe. He barely took orders from Darla back in the day, and she was his Sire – and smoking hot. He did not take orders from anyone anymore, least of all a hulking creature made out of rock that was no better than a minion itself.
“Or, here’s a better idea: no, I won’t.” Angelus walked up to the Beast, unafraid of him, no matter that the Beast had five feet and hundreds of pounds on him. “Tell your boss that I’m grateful for the attention, it’s always nice to have a devoted fan. But, I don’t take grocery lists from the messenger boy.”
The Beast growled at him and angrily said, “I will teach you respect.”
“Look, you may have played those suckers at Angel, Inc., but I don’t like having my strings yanked, and I don’t like being kept in the dark . . .” Angelus smiled as a memory floated through his mind of Spike and a blindfold. “Figuratively, anyway,” he corrected himself. And if your boss was half as smart as he thinks he is, he knows I won’t take orders from a lackey.” The Beast glared at him. “What? You don’t like ‘lackey’? Hmm. How about, uh, toady? Or lickspittle? Lickspittle’s nice. Oh, wait, I got it. Flunky! You’re just a big, stupid, butt-ugly,” the Beast lunged at Angelus who ducked. “Slow-moving flunky,” Angelus finished as the Beast took a swing at him and missed. “Ah, come on, Rocky. If that’s all you got, you better thrown in the towel and call it a night.” Angelus jumped up into the rafters with one swift move, then turned to the Beast. “When the Beastmaster’s ready to peek out from behind your skirt, have him give me a call.” Angelus pivoted and was out of the building in a matter of seconds.
Cordelia walked out from behind a stack of crates and stepped up to the Beast. There wasn’t even a limp in her step from Angelus hitting her with an arrow in the leg. “Well, you handled that brilliantly,” she said accusingly.
“He’s not to be trusted,” the Beast said.
Cordelia hit him in the torso. “What about you? Letting him bait you into a fight like that!” She started to pace in front him. “I haven’t spent all this time and energy so you can mess it all up with your petty jealousies. You know Angelus is crucial to my plan.”
“My apologies, master,” the Beast said contritely.
“You need patience,” Cordelia said as if he were a four-year-old child. “He’ll come around . . . when he sees what I have to offer. And, if he doesn’t, you can pull off his head and tear him to bits. Now . . . give mama some sugar.”
Cordelia reached up to the Beast’s neck and pulled his head down for a mouth-to-mouth kiss.
Los Angeles, Demon Bar
Angelus nursed a glass of whiskey at the bar, when someone put down a pack of cigarettes on the bar in front of him. Angelus raised his eyebrows, turned to find Spike standing there. He nodded to the stool beside him. Spike took the stool and raised his hand to get the bartender’s attention, ordering a double. When it finally came, Spike took a swig, savoring it as the burn slid down his throat.
“So, does soulless Angelus still smoke?” Spike asked his scarred brow lifted in query.
Angelus grabbed the pack, took out a cigarette, and lit it with the Zippo lighter Angel always kept in his pocket. Damn Boy Scout was always prepared for anything, Angelus thought, scowling. He took a drag on the cigarette, letting the tar burn his lungs then blew it out in Spike’s face. “Took you long enough to catch up with me.”
“Well, it took that long to lose Angel’s pet humans,” Spike shot back.
“I can scent the soul inside you, William. You still have your hat in with them. Come to drag me back to the basement, keep locked away so the kiddies stay safe?” Angelus taunted.
“No,” Spike replied. “I know my Sire better than that. Nothing can hold you for long. I’m surprised Angel thought that cell in the basement could do the job.”
“Why are you here?” Angelus asked.
“I don’t know; permanent midnight, got a beastie on the loose we have no way of killing and a crisis that makes your Acathla days look like a Graceland tour. Bet you never thought to plunge Sunnydale into total darkness before sending the world to hell, eh Sire?”
Angelus gave Spike a sidelong glance. “Since when have you been for proper decorum, William? Calling me ‘Sire’ and none of those pansy-ass nicknames you’re so fond of calling Angel.”
“Not true,” Spike disagreed. “I’ve called you a megalomaniac and sadistic bastard lots of times.”
Angelus turned on his stool and leaned on the bar, giving Spike his full attention. “What are you up to, Spike?”
“I figured we find someplace and make good on all the promises we made to each other while you were in the cage,” Spike shrugged.