Now that this indulgence is complete I’ll get back to the WIPs.
The Good, The Bad, and Cordelia
Spike was just about managing to restrain himself from bursting into laughter as he entered the factory. He and Angel both now wore Stetsons; courtesy of Lyle and Tector Gorch, who were now dust blowing across the waste ground outside the building. Spike consciously narrowed his eyes as he drew on his cigarette, wishing that it was a cigarillo, and muttered “You see my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughing at him.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “He’s crazy!” she hissed to Angel.
“I won’t argue with you over that,” the souled vampire replied. He followed behind Spike, with his own Stetson tilted down to obscure his face, and mingled with the throng of vampires gathered within the factory.
Buffy kept close to Angel. She half expected to be sniffed out, and recognized as a human, but no-one reacted to her at all. She saw that one side of the factory floor had been turned into a temporary cage area with a wooden fence. Behind the fence were a score of human prisoners; their scent was presumably screening her from vampire senses. A large machine, incorporated a section of conveyor belt and a lot of pumps and piping, stood in front of both the cage and the vampire crowd. Beyond the machinery was a raised platform that was serving as a stage. The Master stood there, flanked by a bald African-American vampire and a tall vampire with a beard that was barely more than stubble, and he was delivering a speech.
“Well, I don't say anything to them because I kill them,” the Master said. “Undeniably we are the world's superior race. Yet we have always been too parochial, too bound by the mindless routine of the predator. Hunt and kill, hunt and kill. Titillating? Yes. Practical? Hardly. Meanwhile, the humans, with their plebeian minds, have brought us a truly demonic concept; mass production!” He spread his arms and smiled as the crowd applauded.
“Pretentious wanker,” Spike muttered. “Too much sodding ritual and not enough fun when he’s around.”
“Bring out the first!” the Master ordered. Several vampires rushed to the cage, pushed back the captive humans, lifted the crossbar that secured the door and opened it. Two of them went into the cage and seized an attractive girl with Oriental features, one of Cordelia’s classmates. They ignored her screams and struggles and dragged her out. One of them shocked her with a cattle prod and she jerked convulsively. Her struggles stopped and she slumped limp and twitching in their grasp.
Angel and Buffy had their eyes fixed on the Master. Spike realized that the open cage door could be useful and acted without consulting the others. He pulled out his crossbow from beneath the poncho and fired. A vampire who was about to slam the door shut disintegrated in a cloud of dust as the bolt struck him. “Now!” Spike yelled.
Giles, Cordelia, Larry, and Oz rushed into the room. They all had crossbows loaded and cocked and they fired a volley at the vampires between the door and the cage. The human captives found their way clear and began to spill out into the main room.
Buffy whipped up her pistol crossbow and fired at the Master. The ancient vampire reacted with lightning speed. He pulled his stubble-faced henchman into the path of the bolt. “My apologies, Frank,” the Master said, as his henchman cried out and clutched his shoulder. “Follow me, Absalom, we have work to do.” He leaped down from the stage. The ebony-skinned vampire picked up a massive sledgehammer and followed him.
Buffy raised her crossbow for another shot but it was knocked from her hand. She lashed out at the vampire responsible and sent him flying across the room. Angel punched one vampire and kneed another in the groin. Spike swung his crossbow like a club and struck a vampire across the face. Cordelia and Oz threw handfuls of stakes towards the escaping humans. Giles managed to reload his crossbow and fired once more. Larry staked a bewildered vampire through the heart.
Chaos reigned. Some vampires tried to recapture the humans. Some charged at Spike, Angel, and Buffy. Others ran towards the White Hats. A few fled. One small vampire in an old-fashioned suit and half-moon spectacles scuttled into a corner and hunched down, trying to stay out of the way of the conflict. Some of the humans picked up stakes from the floor and the fight turned into a general brawl.
Frank pulled out the crossbow bolt from his shoulder and surveyed the battle. He saw that he had a clear line of sight to Spike and threw the bolt like a dart directly at the traitor. It struck the middle of Spike’s chest.
And bounced off. There was a metallic ‘clank’ and it dropped harmlessly to the ground.
Frank stared open-mouthed. He was still staring in disbelief when Giles fired his crossbow for a third time and hit him right in the heart.
The Master closed with Buffy. Their first exchange of blows was inconclusive but then the Master landed a solid backhand to Buffy’s jaw and stunned her. He seized her by the shoulders and pulled her to him. His hands moved to her head; but before he could break her neck Angel kicked him solidly behind the knee and sent him staggering sideways. Buffy fell to her hands and knees. A vampire pounced on her; Angel rabbit-punched her assailant and then drove home a stake. He helped Buffy to her feet. “Thanks,” she muttered grudgingly, and pulled a fresh stake from her pocket. She was about to follow the Master when Absalom arrived, swinging his hammer, and forced her to retreat.
The Master found himself facing Spike, who had just driven the butt of his crossbow deep into the chest of a hapless fledgling vampire. “Foolish child,” the Master snarled. “Seeking revenge for the death of your paramour? All you will achieve is to join her in the dust.” He snatched up a loose stake from the ground and struck out. Spike’s attempt to block failed and the stake hit him in the middle of the chest.
The impact jarred the stake from the Master’s hand. Spike winced but remained obstinately undusted. He took the cigarette from his mouth, grinned, and plunged it into the Master’s eye.
The Master howled. He lashed out a backhand blow like the one that had felled Buffy; but his aim was off, and Spike slipped under the blow with ease. He snatched up the Master’s fallen stake and drove it home.
“You – you…” the Master croaked, groping ineffectually at the stub of wood that protruded from his ribcage. Spike’s teeth flashed in a triumphant grin. He flipped the poncho aside to reveal an ornate and rather ugly Victorian brass tray, its surface marred by a couple of recent dents, hanging from thongs around his neck. The Master gave one last feeble snarl and burst into dust. A misshapen skeleton toppled to the ground.
Absalom wailed in fury and despair. He swung his hammer with berserk fury. Buffy was knocked aside and crashed into the wooden cage. Angel lashed out a high kick but ran straight into the swinging hammer and collapsed clutching his leg. The raging vampire charged towards Spike and struck again and again. Spike dodged the first blow; but a second strike sent him sprawling on his back, temporarily helpless. Absalom raised the hammer high.
“Traitor! Abomination!” he cried, spittle flying from his mouth. He took aim at Spike’s head. Suddenly the little vampire who had been hiding in a corner leaped on his back and seized the hammer. Absalom roared, flailed wildly, and managed to shake off the other vampire. He raised the hammer again; but by that time Buffy had recovered and she stabbed him in the back with a section of wood from the cage. She drove the plank all the way through until the jagged end burst out of his chest. Another explosion of dust and the sledgehammer dropped harmlessly to the floor.
The morale of the remaining vampires was completely shattered. Those with a clear route to the doors fled in blind panic. The humans slew most of them before they could get out. A few were trapped, and fought like cornered rats, but all were slain within a couple of minutes. Before long the only vampires remaining in the factory were Spike, Angel, and the vampire who had intervened to protect Spike from Absalom. Giles pointed his crossbow at the vampire but refrained from pulling the trigger.
“Wait up, Watcher,” Spike called. “He’s one of mine. I’d appreciate it if you’d let him go. Saved me, didn’t he? Ta, Dalton, mate.”
“You know I’m your man, Spike,” the vampire said. “I’ve hated them since they killed the Princess. I’m not a fighter, you know that, but I had to help you.”
“Bloody grateful, pal,” Spike said. “Look, Watcher, Dalton here is only interested in books and languages. Not much of a hunter. Let him go. Please.”
“Very well, Spike, I suppose we owe him that much. You may go.”
Dalton made no move to leave. “I can’t survive on my own. Master Spike is right, I’m not much of a hunter, and anybody who got away will be out to kill me after what I did. You might as well just stake me now.”
Giles lowered his crossbow. Killing this vampire in cold blood didn’t seem right. “We’ll discuss this later,” he said. “Stay there and don’t move. Is everybody all right? Anybody hurt?”
Spike rushed to Cordelia. “You okay, love?”
“They didn’t lay a glove on me,” she said triumphantly. “I got two of them. Go me!”
“I think my arm is broken,” Larry informed them. He was supporting his left arm with his right, his face grey with pain. Three of the human captives had died in the fight, and two more were injured.
“Angel’s lame,” Buffy announced.
“I know,” Spike replied. “His hair goes straight up, and he’s bloody stupid. Total pillock sometimes. But he’s family.”
“No, he’s lame,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “The crazy black vampire hit him on the leg with that hammer. It’s broken.”
“I gotta admit that was a tough one,” Buffy conceded. She sipped cautiously at the glass of Bushmills. “I couldn’t have handled it on my own.”
“Me neither,” Spike agreed. “Course, I knew that all along, and that’s why I came looking for allies.” He grinned. “We made a bloody brilliant team, didn’t we?”
There was a general chorus of agreement from the assembled White Hats.
“What now, Spike?” Giles asked. “The Master is dust, and his bones are smashed to powder. Your revenge is complete. Will you go back to drinking the blood of the innocent?”
Spike chewed on his lower lip for a moment and then shook his head slowly. “Nah. All the fun’s gone out of it now. Not the same without Dru. It’d be all flat and dull. Rather stick around with you lot, if you’ll have me. Bloody brilliant fight, that was. We made a sodding great team. Wouldn’t seem right, fighting against you.”
“You’re willing to join the side of Good?” Giles said, slightly skeptically.
“Good, evil, who gives a toss?” Spike knocked back the rest of his glass of Irish whiskey. “I’m willing to join your side. You, and Angel, and Little and Large there, and the Slayer, and of course the lovely Cordelia.” Cordelia tipped her head to acknowledge the compliment.
“Don’t include me in this long term,” Buffy said. “I’ll be heading back to Cleveland tomorrow. We have a Hellmouth there.”
“We’ve got one here too,” Giles protested.
“Whatever. I think you can manage fine without me.” She looked at the vampires and smiled. It seemed forced and false at first, but gradually became a genuine beaming smile that lit up her face. “We were a real good team, yeah.”
Angel shifted position to ease his injured leg. “I suppose I’ll be going to Cleveland as well,” he said.
“No way!” Cordelia exclaimed. “You have to stay away from Buffy, for the good of your soul.” Everyone stared at her. She gulped down her drink, to give herself some Dutch courage, and continued. “I think I’d better explain about the curse.”
“What about your minion Dalton?” Giles asked.
“Oh, he’ll do what I tell him,” Spike assured him. “Not much of a one for the carnage, Dalton. As long as he gets plenty of books to read he’ll be happy.”
“I think that’s something I’m more than capable of providing,” Giles said. “I could certainly use an assistant to help me with research. This past year has been far too hectic, and I’m sure I have neglected a number of matters of occult significance.”
“Hey!” Cordelia put in. “We have three vampires now. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” She giggled, and swayed slightly. The whiskey was beginning to go to her head. “Only, Spike’s in the Clint Eastwood costume, so he’s the Good.”
“Nah, Angel’s the Good. I’m the Big Bad, baby, and don’t you forget it.” Spike put his arm around her and drew her close. “Gonna be good to you, though, love.”
“Are you going to, you know, boink me now?” Cordelia asked. She giggled again. Her eyes were slightly glazed.
“Tempting, love, but not tonight,” Spike told her. “You’re sloshed as a newt, pet. Want it to be a night to remember. Best get to bed and sleep it off. Wait until Saturday.”
“What happens Saturday?”
“I shag the arse off you.”
Cordelia went into school on Monday morning limping slightly, her eyes heavy and her hair not as immaculately coiffed as usual, and with an air of blissful contentment that was unmistakable to the Cordettes. They gathered around her eagerly at break time.
“Did you do, you know, it?” Harmony asked.
“Lots of times,” Cordelia replied smugly. “In lots of different positions.”
“Was it good?” asked Nicolette, who had been scheduled to be the first victim of the Master’s automated blood extraction machine.
“Wonderful!” Cordelia sighed. “I’m going to have to work harder in math class. I came more times than I could count.”
“Wow!” Amber said enviously. “That good?”
“Yeah. We did things I can’t even spell!”
“Like?” Nicolette prompted.
Cordelia gathered them close and whispered.
“But isn’t that, like, the national airline of Ireland?” Harmony frowned, puzzled.
Cordelia whispered again.
“Oh,” said Harmony. “I knew that. I knew that.” She blushed, turned away, and then gathered her courage and turned back to Cordelia. “Does he have a friend?”
Cordelia opened her mouth to say ‘no’ and then rethought. It was important that Angel never achieve perfect happiness, but it seemed a bit harsh expecting him never to have sex at all; and no-one could be perfectly happy with Harmony, could they? “He might have. Want an introduction?”
Some weeks later…
The door of Mayor Wilkins’ office shattered under a forceful impact and Mr. Trick burst through it and crashed into the Mayor’s desk. Angel strode in, seized the dazed vampire, and plunged a stake into his heart. Spike and Giles followed close behind. Dalton scuttled in their wake.
“What is the meaning of this intrusion?” Wilkins demanded. “Bursting in here without an appointment is unmannerly and strikes at the very root of our great American system of local government.”
Giles adjusted his glasses. “I rather think that doing a series of deals with demons to enable you to remain Mayor for a century is rather against the spirit of anything the Founding Fathers had in mind,” he said sternly. “On top of that, what I and my colleague Dalton have discovered about your future intentions places you into the category of a clear and present danger.”
Wilkins stood up. “I know what you are, librarian. A Watcher. You won’t kill a human; and neither will the renowned Souled Vampire.”
“Correct,” Giles admitted. “I won’t. Spike, it is rather a long time since you had the draught stuff, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Spike said, eyes gleaming. “Come on, Dalton, the drinks are on the Mayor. Or rather in the Mayor.”
“Months behind schedule. A forty per cent casualty rate among the construction crews. Way over budget. And now I hear that demonic activity in Sunnydale has almost completely ceased.” The administrator in charge of the Demon Research Initiative steepled his fingers and leaned back in his chair. “I’ve been forced into a complete rethink. Professor Walsh, you’re not going to be assigned to California after all. The Initiative facility will be located in Cleveland.”
“This place is sewn up pretty tight now, Spike,” Angel said over a drink. “I’m thinking of leaving it to you and Giles and the White Hats. I have this idea for a detective agency in Los Angeles.”
“What, ‘down these mean streets a vampire must go’, sort of thing? Sounds like fun.” Spike raised his glass and then lowered it again without drinking. “Darla’s there, you know.”
“It’s a big city, maybe our paths won’t cross. If they do – well, I’ll do what I have to do.”
“Yeah. You taking Harm?”
“For my sins, yes. Still, at least she’s a pretty good typist.” Angel looked over his shoulder, caught the eye of his pretty blonde girlfriend, and smiled at her. He turned back to Spike. “She’s actually had a good idea about the agency. She pointed out that we should make sure we come first in the private detectives section of the phone book, and we should choose our name accordingly.”
“So you’ll be, what, Angel Investigations?” Spike raised his beer glass to his lips.
“No, somebody might beat that. Aardvark Investigations.”
Spike choked on his beer.
Some months later…
“The Gem of Amara,” Spike grinned, holding up his hand to display the ring to Cordelia. “Official sponsor of me taking you out for a picnic lunch.”
Some months later still…
The monastery in Prague was peaceful, at least for the moment, but the monks knew that it would be only a matter of time before the Beast discovered their location. “We must send the Key to the Slayer,” the Abbot decreed. “In the form of something that she will love and protect.”
The monks’ brows furrowed as they visualized the Slayer and tried to think of something suitable. “A crossbow?” one suggested hesitantly. “A set of Kevlar fatigues?”
The Abbot shook his head. “It must be something alive. Something with blood that will contain the Key’s living energy.”
“I know!” one piped up. “A walrus.”
The Abbot raised his eyes to the heavens. “Sometimes I despair of you, Brother Jaroslav,” he said, shaking his head. “Can I have some serious suggestions? Anyone?”
“Perhaps,” Brother Miroslav said slowly, “we should think outside the box. If the Slayer is unsuitable we should seek out some other hero.”
Cordelia walked into her bedroom and stopped short in surprise. “What are you doing?” she snapped.
The tall brown-haired girl pushed the drawer shut hastily. “Nothing,” she said.
“Don’t you lie to me, Dawn Chase. You were stealing my make-up.”
“As if I’d wear that skanky stuff,” Dawn sniffed. “You going out with Spike tonight, I guess? Lots of icky kissing and stuff?”
“Stuff which I am never ever going to discuss with you, young lady,” Cordelia said firmly.
“As if I’d want to know anyway. It’s all yucky. How anyone could get a hickey there I don’t understand.”
Cordelia blushed. She opened her mouth to deliver a suitable riposte but was interrupted.
“Oh, Cordelia,” Mrs. Chase called from the hallway. “I have some people coming over and I’d appreciate some space. If you’re going out would you take your sister with you?”
The two girls turned in unison and called out in mutual protest. “Mom!”
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.