When You Need a Job Done Right… 3

This entry is part 3 of 5 of the story When You Need a Job Done Right, Send a Slayer

Chapters Five and Six of When You Need a Job Done Right…

Chapter Five

As Faith had suggested, they parked some distance away and let the girls make their slow way to the compound. Giving each other boosts to the top of the wall, the slayers quickly and quietly dusted the vampire guards, giving the victory sign when they were sure the walls were clear. As the slayers converged on the gate and dropped down on the guards there, Angel and Spike brought the vehicles up and through the opening.

There was no alarm raised as the demon lord depended on his vampire employees to keep watch during the night hours. Even though night was a relative term in the always-dim light of LA, old habits died hard and nighttime belonged to the vampires who were still assimilating.

Spike pulled the bus up to the entrance to the factory/dormitory and opened the door.

“After you, love,” he said, gesturing for Buffy to precede him down the steps.

“What’s that?” She peered over her shoulder at the box he was carrying.

“Bit of insurance that the factory won’t be open for business tomorrow,” he said as he set the box down outside the door of the building. “Let’s get those people out of here.”

They ran to the dormitory and began waking people up. Spike let Buffy go first, fearing that the sight of him might frighten them into screaming. She whispered to each group that they were there to rescue them, and that Spike was on their side. He led the dubious people to the door and pointed at the bus, holding a finger to his lips for silence.

“What about the guards?” one man asked, casting a worried eye at the wall.

“Not a problem.” Spike pointed to one of the slayers who waved back as she used her crossbow to pick off a vampire walking toward them. Reassured, they all got on the bus, where they were quickly joined by the next group of rescuees.

“Is that everybody?” Buffy ran through the dorm area, checking beds and shower and toilet areas. She crept to the door of the factory, but could hear or see no one in the pitch-dark building and the door appeared to be locked.

“They shut it down at night,” one girl explained. “We’re locked in here, so we can’t go in and sabotage anything.”

“Okay, lets go then.” They ran out to where Spike already had the bus engine running.

“Time to go, Slayer. The natives are getting restless.” As he spoke, some minor demons and a few more vampires came out of the main building, shouting for the guards.

“You go. Take these people to the Hyperion. I’m going to stay here.”

His growl had everyone in the bus cringing, but he ignored them. “I’m not leaving you here to fight alone.”

“Spike. I have Faith and six other slayers with me. Plus Angel. Just get them to safety and come back.”

“We’re gonna be discussing this later,” he growled. “It could get loud….”

Buffy just waved and went to intercept the vampires heading for the bus. Faith was already at the gate, making sure it remained open while Spike squeezed the bus through it and gunned the engine. He drove several blocks in the direction of the hotel, then stopped and stood up.

“Anybody here know how to drive a bus?” One man raised his hand. “I was a bus driver until the… event.”

“Good. Take over here and go to the alley behind the Hyperion hotel. There’s an entrance to our garage. It’s hidden, but you should be able to find it. Just sit tight there till we get back. Demons can’t get in, but vamps can if they stumble across it, so stay alert.” He showed them where the extra weapons were stored.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m not about to miss a fight playing bus driver – no offense. I’m going back to help out and then I’m going to blow the place up. Should be fun.” He gave a toothy grin and jumped down the steps. “Off you go.”

He waited until the bus was speeding toward the Hyperion’s neighborhood, then turned and ran toward the compound, from which he could hear sounds of battle. He arrived just in time to decapitate a demon trying to escape through the still –open gate.

“Bout damn time,” Faith said, grunting as she ran her sword through another fleeing demon. “These guys would rather run than fight.”

“Thought most of them probably would. Not all demons are all about ruling the world and what not. Most of ‘em would just as soon be left alone.”

With both Spike and Faith guarding the gate, the lessor demons began milling around in the middle of the compound, not sure where to go or how to get there.

“What d’ya, think? Let ‘em go and join the fun, or stay here playing clean up?”

“You can do whatever you want, pet. I’m gonna join the party.”

Spike whacked his way through the milling demons, not really caring if he hit anyone or not. They quickly got out of his way; dodging Faith as well as she followed him toward the sounds of battle. As soon as they realized the gate was undefended, they began to trample each other trying to get out.

Spike and Faith quickly moved into the open courtyard of the main house, where the slayers were decimating the remaining vampire and demon guards. Buffy was working her way toward Angel, standing by a locked door, behind which they assumed the demon lord was hiding. Skipping the remaining guards, which the slayers were having no trouble eliminating, Spike joined Angel at the door and sized it up.

“Pretty big.”

“Brilliant observation, Spike.”

“Thick, too.”

Angel rolled his eyes, then swore as Spike pulled out a slender piece of metal and began working on the lock, which responded in a satisfyingly short period of time. The door still didn’t open, indicating there was a barrier of some sort on the other side. “Bloody hell. Okay, we do it the fun way, then.”

“Fun?” Buffy joined them.

“Yeah. I’ll be right back.” Spike took off at top speed and was back almost before Buffy and Angel could ask each other what he was doing. “Okay, get out of the way.” He knelt down and packed something between the doors at the top and bottom, using a tool to push it in as far as he could. He stood up and gave Angel a shove, pulling Buffy with him.

“Wasn’t kidding about getting out of the way,” he said. “Mind your ears.” As he spoke, he was covering his own ears with his hands, just in time to protect them from the small explosions that knocked the doors open.

“Shall we?”

“Show off,” Angel muttered as he followed Spike and Buffy through the doors. Faith and most of the slayers crowded behind them as they all moved into a big room where a huge, mostly fat, green creature was sitting, surrounded by smaller versions of himself, all armed.

“Look,” Faith said. “It’s Jabba the Hutt and all the little Hutts.”

“You’ve been hanging out with Xander, haven’t you?” Buffy said as she began slashing through the crowd toward the quivering mound of green skin.

“Hey, even poor kids got to see Star Wars,” Faith said indignantly. “I saw all of them. Who doesn’t know who Jabba the Hut is?”

“I’m guessing this guy doesn’t, or he’d know that Jabba got his ass kicked by a little girl with a chain.” Spike stopped in admiration to watch Buffy start chopping away pieces of the demon’s anatomy until she could reach his head and cut it off. Which proved difficult until Angel joined her and started sawing on it from the other side. Eventually, with a loud sigh and the expulsion of disgusting smelling slime, the head came off and rolled down the big body to the floor.

The remaining members of his offspring set up a collective moan and began falling on their own swords. In very little time, the room was empty of anyone but the small group of rescuers.

“Our work is done here,” Angel said. Let’s go home.”

“Almost done,” Spike said. “I’ll catch up.”

Remembering the box Spike had brought in, Buffy smiled. “I’ll wait with Spike. We’ll walk back.”

“Be careful,” was all Angel said as he led Faith and the slayer squad back to the van which had somehow remained mostly unharmed throughout the battles.

Buffy and Spike stood at the still-open gate and watched them drive away.

“You’re going to blow it up, aren’t you?”

“You know me too well, love.”

“Xander will be sorry he missed this.”

“I’ll blow up something with him some other time. He’s the one what taught me how to use explosives, you know. But we didn’t have any of this fancy stuff back in Sunnydale.”

“Why do you have it here?” Buffy asked as she trailed him to the box he’d left near the dormitory.

“Nicked it from Wolfram and Hart before it all went down. Took whatever we could move easily and stashed it in the hotel.”

He began taking packets of the same stuff he’d used to blow the doors and handing them to Buffy.

“Here, let’s get these put out.”

“Where?”

“Anywhere you want, love. We just need enough of them to bring the factory down. If we have leftovers, we’ll throw some into the house.”

Buffy eyed the packets with suspicion. “They aren’t going to blow up in my hands are they?”

“Nope. I’ll set them off when we’re ready to get out of here.”

They separated and Buffy put a packet anywhere it looked like an explosion would have a destructive effect on the building. She met Spike back in front of the gate.

“Okay, this is the tricky part. I have to be far enough away not to get blown up, but close enough to set them off.”

Buffy looked up. “How about from the top of the wall? We can jump down and run away before it falls down.”

“I knew there was a reason I loved you,” he said, planting a kiss on her cheek. “Let’s do it.”

They scampered up the narrow stairway to the wall’s walkway. “Ready, love?”

Buffy nodded and Spike did something with the device in his hand, set it down, and nodded to the ground. Buffy jumped out into space, landing easily in a crouch. Spike landed beside her, even more lightly. “Damn vampire flying crap” she snorted as she stood up and took the hand he was holding out. Behind them a dull rumble was building and the ground began to shake.

“Time to go, Slayer.” He kept hold of her hand as they sped away from the compound that was now crumbling with a louder and louder noise of things breaking and falling, as well as occasionally bursting into the air, only to fall back.

They ran with speed that no one but another vampire or slayer could have hoped to match, not stopping until they were within a few blocks of the hotel. Buffy slowed to a walk, still holding on to Spike’s hand as they continued their return. Rather than going in the door, Spike led her down to the garage where Angel was just explaining to the bewildered former slaves that they were soon going to be out of the city,

“You mean the whole world isn’t like this? It didn’t end?”

“Nah,” Faith spoke up. “Most of it’s still there. And when we get through here, maybe LA will be dragged back into it. Don’t know though, so you need to get through the portal when it opens and find yourself some relatives or something to stay with until you can come home.”

“Hell, I was at work when it happened. I live outside the city.”

“Good for you. Looks like you might have house guests…” Laughing at the look on the man’s face, Faith walked up to Buffy and Spike. “So. Did it all go boom?”

“Um, more like rumble, rumble, crash, but yeah. No more factory.”

A cheer went up from the humans and Spike took a bow, causing Buffy to push him hard enough to make him stumble. “Jackass,” she muttered, but she was smiling.

XXXXXXXXXX

After Jeannie had been messaged, a time fixed for the portal to open, and the rescued humans shoved through it, everyone adjourned to the kitchen, where Faith once again complained about the lack of food.

“Who’s up for stealing from demons?” she asked, looking around the room and focusing on Spike. Buffy shook her head, poking Spike when he seemed about to volunteer. He pouted, but shook his head and settled back on his stool.

*cough*whipped*cough* Faith stage-whispered as she turned back to the girls, all of whom were holding up their hands. “All right! Let’s go.” She turned to Angel. “Where’s the nearest demon-owned store?”

“They’re all demon-owned. Take your pick. The closest one is probably about two blocks from here.” He looked at Spike and growled. “Spike wouldn’t have done you any good there… he’s not allowed in that store anymore. They caught him stealing too many times.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Faith said while Buffy rolled her eyes. “I doubt they’re gonna want any slayers in there after this either, but it won’t matter if we can shut this place down. Angel, you need to follow us with the van. I don’t plan to leave much behind.”

Grumbling about slayers coming into his city and acting like they owned it, Angel went down to the garage to get the van. Faith and her slayers left by the loading dock door, which Spike locked behind them.

“How are they going to get back in?” Buffy frowned as he put the bar in place.

“Angel has a key to the door in the garage.” He seemed unconcerned, so Buffy reluctantly followed him back to the kitchen. She gave a yawn, which reminded her that she’d been awake for almost twenty-four hours.

“Sorry,” she said. “It seems like we’ve been here forever, but I know it’s only been a day.”

“Time feels like that here sometimes,” he said. “But we’ve all been up for a long time. I could do with a nap myself. Care to join me?” He wriggled his eyebrows at her.

“Seriously? We haven’t seen each other in over a year, and we haven’t even….. We’re in the middle of a demon city, and I’m still deciding if I want to kill you, for cripes sake!”

He looked abashed but nodded. “I’m sorry, love. You’re right, of course. Time and place.” He touched her cheek. “I’m just so glad to see you… it went right to my—”

“I know exactly where it went. Get over it! We have work to do.” In spite of her words, she blushed and leaned into his hand just a little. “That body part has no conscience and no sense of duty.”

“Not when you’re around it doesn’t. Never has. Even when I hated you… or thought I did.” He caressed her cheek, rubbing his thumb over her lower lip. “But you may as well take advantage of having some down time to take a nap. This is a hotel, you know. Lots of rooms and beds in it that aren’t mine. Let’s find you one, yeah?”

Buffy rested her hand on his for a moment, then shook her head. “Let’s figure out where everybody else is going to sleep, so when they get back with the food, they can eat and get some rest. I’m no more tired than anybody else.”

“And there’s my sweet girl, always putting others first. Alright, love, come with me.”

“They probably won’t all sleep at the same time, anyway,” Buffy said as they looked for reasonably clean rooms with made beds. “We still need to keep an eye on the portal, in case they have messages for us.”

XXXXXXX

By the time Angel and Faith got back with a van full of food, Buffy and Spike had identified several first-floor rooms that would work fine for the squad to use to get some rest. And he’d shown her where he slept and offered her the room with no strings attached.

With all of them helping, the day’s haul of groceries were soon in the hotel refrigerators and freezers, or the huge pantry off the kitchen. After a quick meal, the yawns indicated the hours spent in LA were catching up to everyone, and Buffy showed them to the rooms – allowing the girls to work out who would be sharing with whom.

“So,” Faith said, cocking an eyebrow at Buffy. “Are we roomies, or do you have somewhere else in mind?”

Buffy glared at her, then sighed. “Okay, yes, I’m sleeping it Spike’s room. But he’s going to be watching for the portal, so….”

“Whatever you need to tell yourself, B,” Faith said with a laugh. “I’ll be here if you need me.” She entered the last room and closed the door, still laughing.

She went back into the kitchen in time to see Angel and Spike glaring at each other.

“Did I miss something?”

“Why aren’t you sleeping like everyone else?” Angel demanded.

Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “You mean, why am I not sharing with Faith?”

“You need to rest.”

“We know that, you git,” Spike said. “She’s gonna use my bed and I’m gonna be outside watching the portal. Not that it’s any of your business,” he added with a snarl.

“I’ve got this,” Buffy said, patting him on the arm. “Go watch for any messages from the other side. Jeannie said they were working on undoing the spell or glamor or whatever the hell it is keeping everything in here. Wake me up if you get anything.”

“Yes sir, ma’am,” he muttered, shooting another glare at Angel before leaving the room.

Buffy sighed and shook her head, gazing at Angel with a mixture of anger and affection.

“Look, we have a job to do here. And we need your help. Yours and Spike’s. You’re the experts on what’s going on. But if I have to waste a lot of energy keeping you two from fighting….”

Angel rolled his eyes and shrugged. “I doubt the Powers themselves could keep us from arguing. We’ve been doing it for over a century – any time we’re in the same place together. It doesn’t affect our ability to battle real enemies, and it doesn’t mean we don’t have each other’s backs.” He met her dubious expression with sad eyes. “Having you here makes a difference. I can’t pretend it doesn’t. But you’ve made it pretty clear who you’re here for, and I accept that. I do, really. I just don’t want to have to hear…. I don’t want to be in the same position Angelus put Spike in years ago. And I know he’s got every right to do that to me if he wants to.”

Buffy’s expression softened. “I love you, Angel. I do. I always will. But it’s the remains of a sixteen-year-old’s crush that has mellowed into friendship. What Spike and I have – twisted as it has been from time to time – is different. And more.” She sighed when he flinched. “Neither one of us is out to hurt you, no matter what Spike says or does when you’re listening. And we’ve got some issues to thrash out before we start ripping off each other’s clothes, so even if we end up sharing that bedroom sometimes, it’s going to be because we love each other and because that’s where we were the last time we were together. It’s where we’re at peace.”

She got off the stool she’d been occupying during the uncomfortable conversation. “And just so you know?” she added as she walked towards the room Spike had shown her, “I’m here to save my city. You and Spike are just… what’s the word for collateral save-age?”

“Beneficiaries,” Angel muttered.

“Beneficiaries,” she repeated. “That works.” She went down the hall to Spike’s room and shut the door behind her. She briefly considered taking a shower, then shrugged and just fell face down on the bed.

 

CHAPTER SIX

She was dreaming. Dreaming that she and Spike were back in her basement, stretched out together on his cot, arms around each other. In spite of the looming battle against the First, she felt secure and safe in his arms – odd, considering that she was expecting to take the brunt of the fighting herself.

“But he’ll have my back,” she mumbled, snuggling back against him. She blinked her eyes against a light much too bright to be her basement in Sunnydale. And yet, she would swear Spike was— “What are you doing?”

“Watching your back, according to you. Did you know you talk in your sleep?”

She turned over and looked up at his amused expression. “I do not.”

“Do too,” he said, rubbing his nose against hers before standing up. She noted that he was completely dressed, including his boots, whereas she had lost her boots and was now under a light blanket.

“How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to see how tired you were and to keep everybody out until you woke up on your own. But if you mean, how long was I cuddled up to your back – I don’t know. Wasn’t planning to fall asleep with you, just rest for a bit, but I guess I did. We should probably see what’s going on now. One of the girls took over watching the portal for me when she caught me dozing off.”

Buffy nodded and sat up, happy to see that her boots were the only things missing from her wardrobe. She stretched, smiling when she caught him watching her. “See anything you like?” she teased, using one of his favorite questions when he’d catch her watching him get dressed.

“You know I do, you minx. Now get yourself out of that bed before I lock the door and say ‘to hell with saving the city’.”

“Okay, okay. I’m up.”

“Not the only thing that’s up,” he muttered, adjusting himself. “Not fair, Slayer. Here I am trying to be all responsible and patient, and—”

“Sorry” she surprised them both. “Will it help if I tell you that you interrupted a dream I was having about sleeping – I mean actual sleeping, with snoring – with you before we took on the First and his army?”

“Maybe. Which one of us was snoring?”

“I’m not telling,” she said as she walked to the door. “We—” She broke off as she almost ran into Faith raising her hand to knock.

“Damn! I was hoping I’d be interrupting something,” she said, grinning at Spike. “Anyway, here’s the deal – Jeannie has called in some more magical help and they think they can bust this thing open. Seems like the original spell was a whooper, but it’s gone and all that’s left is the barrier and a glamor that makes everybody think they’re in a hell dimension.”

The three of them walked into the kitchen where there was clearly a council of war going on. In addition to the slayer squad, Jeannie was sitting on a stool, sipping tea and chatting with Angel.

“Nice of you to join us,” he growled, wincing when Faith flicked the back of his head.

“Play nice. Or I’ll tell everybody you weren’t awake either until just a few minutes ago.”

“Hi,” Buffy said, ignoring the by-play to greet Jeannie. “So, what’s going on?”

“Well, I finally got the help I wanted from some other witches, and found out that there probably are still some right here in LA. I would guess they’ve got their own glamors going so they blend in. I’d like to try to find them before we do anything, partly to see if they can help, and partly to keep you guys from killing them accidentally if they’re disguised as demons.”

“That makes sense. But how are you going to do it? It’s a big city.”

She put a small bag on the counter and poured some colored stones from it. “These will glow in the presence of magic. I was kind of hoping you could spread out around the city and use your stone to identify anyone who’s not what they seem to be.”

Buffy frowned. “I’m not sure I want to send my girls out there alone. They’ll stand out like sore thumbs.”

“Oh, no, I have these for them.” She brought up a larger bag full of colorful scarves. “These carry their own glamors, so as long as she keeps her scarf around her head or neck, each girl should look like some sort of minor demon. It won’t be much of a change – maybe pointy ears and a crest? Or a tail? Or wings? Something will change her appearance. And it won’t trigger the stones because they’ve come from the same source.”

“How cool! I want wings!” The slayers crowded around, looking at the scarves and wondering which one would give them the features they wanted.

“Okay. But I still want them to go in pairs. Just to be safe. And nobody isn’t back here by what passes for nighttime in this place. Got it?”

Jeannie passed out the scarves and stones to the girls, who stood around admiring each other’s new look. Sam got the wings, but was disappointed when they wouldn’t lift her off the ground. She gnashed the pointed teeth that were part of the disguise and growled. “Whoa! Was that me?”

“Yes it was.” Angel looked them over and nodded. “I think it’ll work. If they don’t get too close to anybody except the ones they’re looking for.”

“How many witches are we supposed to find?”

“The local coven – what’s left of it – says there should be at least four still in here, and they assume they’ll be sticking together, so if you find one, you find them all. I have addresses for three of them, so you can spread out and check there first. We might get lucky and catch them all home.”

“Okay, slayers. You check out the houses, we’ll spread out and look in public places – like parks and magic stores.” Faith walked the girls to the loading dock and closed the door behind them.

Buffy picked up one of the stones and a scarf. “I guess I need something too,” she said, wrapping the lavender scarf around her head. “What? Spike?”

He shook himself. “Wish you could see yourself, love. Prettiest demon I’ve ever seen.”

She blushed, but preened a little. “As long as I don’t look like Jabba – or Clem – I’m good.”

Faith had picked a bright orange scarf and transformed before their eyes into something with an exaggeratedly curvy body, big eyes, and orange horns growing from her head.

“Wow.”

“Am I awesome?” Faith tried to see herself in the stainless steel refrigerator door, but failed.

“You won’t be able to see yourself in the demon guise,” Jeannie said, laughing at Faith and Buffy as they went around the kitchen trying to find something that would give them a reflection. “You know who you really are, so that’s what you’ll see.”

“We should go with you,” Angel said abruptly. “You’ll get lost.”

The two senior slayers stared at him. “I was born here,” Buffy reminded him. “And I used to come back all the time when my dad still lived here.”

“And I lived here off and on. Right here, in this hotel,” Faith reminded him.

“You and Spike stay here and keep Jeannie company. If we luck out, we’ll be back soon with four more witches.”

XXXXXXXXX

“This is wicked cool,” Faith said, tossing her head experimentally. “I’ll bet I could do some damage with these horns.”

Buffy reached up to touch them, but her hand went right through. “Oops. Nope. Not solid.” She glanced at her own graceful tail that curled around her waist and tugged on it. Her hand went right through that too. “Hmmmm. We’ll have to be careful not to touch anybody, or let anybody touch us.”

“Guess so. That sucks. Good thing the weapons aren’t visible.”

“Good thing. Let’s try that park up the street. Maybe they’ll be sitting around pretending to be evil.”

They walked through the park, taking special pains to get close to any small groups of demons or single demons, but the stones never changed color. When they began to get curious looks from the other demons, they hurried away. As they walked past an alley, a large, humanoid demon stepped in front of them and looked them up and down.

“What do we have here? You’re too pretty to be wandering around alone, I think you need me to escort you.”

“I’m pretty sure we don’t,” Buffy said, trying to edge around him. When he grabbed her arm, she twisted so he ended up with his arm behind his back and his face against the wall. “Like I said…” Buffy waited for Faith to take off his head, but she was frowning at her stone.

“Slow down, B. The stone says he’s not what he seems either.”

“He feels pretty solid to me.” The demon had become very still.

“You are not…”

“Nope. We’re not. Just not your lucky day, I guess. What are you?”

“I’m Anteres. I used to be a well-respected sorcerer. Until Angelus and his little band of do-gooders pissed off the wrong people and I got stuck here along with everyone else. I had to do something to keep from being eaten or enslaved, so I became a demon.”

“That’s a pretty strong glamor,” Buffy said, poking him. She’d released his arm and he was now facing them.”

“Better than yours,” he said with a sniff. “I can see now that you are only human girls.” When both Buffy and Faith made as if to tackle him again, he backed up and held up his hands. “Okay, obviously not only human girls. What are you?”

“Slayers,” they said in unison.

“That’s impossible. There were no slayers in LA when it went down.”

“What’s your point?” Faith smirked at him as realization set in.

“The barrier is still up, I can feel it. How did you…?”

“The less you know, the better,” Buffy said. She glanced at Faith. “What the hell are we going to do with him?” Faith caressed her sword and raised her eyebrows.

“We just have his word for it he’s human….”

“I am! I can prove it if we get somewhere safe.”

He shuffled his feet anxiously as Buffy and Faith exchanged whispered opinions. There was nowhere for him to go without passing between the two slayers, so he gave up thinking he could make a break for it and leaned against the wall. To anyone passing by the alley entrance, it looked like three demons having a confrontation. Not something that anyone would want to be mixed up in.

“Do you know who and where the witches are?” Faith demanded, startling him into standing up straight.

“Of course I do. They came to me for help with their disguises.”

“Okay, let’s go. Take us to them, and then we’ll talk about what to do about you.”

Just then, Buffy’s communication device vibrated and she held up her hand for silence. She listened, then smiled.

“They found them already. They were at the first address. Everybody’s heading back to the Hy—headquarters.”

“Hy— Hyperion? You’re staying at the Hyperion?”

Faith rolled her eyes. “Fuck. Guess he’s coming with us. We’ll see what Angel has to say about him.”

“Um… we’re… not exactly friends…” Anteres managed to have as close to a worried expression as was possible for something with a horn growing from his forehead.

“All the better,” Faith said cheerfully. “Move it, big boy.”

XXXXXXX

As they approached the Hyperion, they joined the other slayers who were accompanying four small demons who chattered together. When they spotted Buffy and Faith’s companion, they fell silent.

“Anteres?” A pretty redheaded demon said. “Why are you here?”

“I’m just accompanying my new friends… Buffy and Faith. Just helping them get home safely.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and the younger slayers burst into laughter. He frowned and drew himself up to his full height.

“They caught you, huh?” the small demon snorted as she followed her friends and the still-glamored slayers around the building to the loading dock.

Faith put a hand against his chest and waved the others on.

“Hold on, hotshot. I don’t think you need to know how to get in here. Maybe we should blindfold you…”

“As long as I’m in demon form, I can’t get in,” he muttered.

“Ah, and you know that… how?”

“Because he tried to get in twice. Now what, Anteres?” Angel had appeared around the side of the building. “Are you trying to sneak in with the witches?”

“Angel! Angelus. Good to see you, buddy. How’ve you been?”

“Helping humans,” Angel responded. “Unlike yourself…”

Faith interrupted the conversation. “As much as I like my new head decorations, I’d really like to get inside sometime this week. The question is, do we bring this guy in or not?”

“What’s the alternative?”

Buffy rolled her eyes, but Faith said, “We assume he’s just what he looks like and take his head off.”

Angel sighed. “He’s human. A scumbag of a sorcerer, most of the time, but human. Bring him in. We can always tie him up if we need to.”

XXXXXXXX

After everyone was inside, they dropped their glamors and the witches collapsed in relief.

“You have no idea how hard it is to hold on to those forms,” the redhaired witch, who reminded Buffy of a much younger Willow, sighed as she sank onto a stool.

“Why don’t we all go into the lobby,” Angel suggested. “The kitchen’s big enough, but there are more places to sit in there.” They all trooped after him, with Faith following the now-human looking sorcerer.

He glanced over his shoulder at her. “I’m not going to do anything, you know. I want out of here as much as anyone else does.”

“Maybe,” was her only response as she fingered the knife at her hip.

Jeannie took the witches to a corner with comfy chairs and a table and began exchanging information with them, beginning with their names and how they’d managed to survive and remain hidden. She was beaming when she walked back to Buffy and Faith.

“I think we can do it. With their help….” She turned a suddenly hard eye on Anteres… “And maybe with some assistance from this guy.” He nodded eagerly.

“Yes, yes, of course. Anything I can do to end this nightmare…”

“For all we know, you helped set it up,” Angel growled. “It would be just like you to hook up with the Senior Partners and screw all the humans you depend on for a living.”

“I’d have to be an idiot to do that!”

“I rest my case.” Angel turned back to Jeannie. “If you really need him, you can use him. But don’t trust him. He doesn’t care about anything but his own scrawny neck.” To make his point, Angel let his fangs drop as he stared at Anteres’s throat. The sorcerer blanched and hid behind Jeannie.

The pretty redhead, whose name was Selene, tugged timidly on Angel’s arm. “Uh, he did help us with our glamors. We didn’t have to pay him anything. We wouldn’t have been able to do them as well ourselves. I think we can trust him.”

Spike, who’d been watching with Buffy, muttered, “I’ll wager she can at least.”

“What?”

“Watch how he looks at her. He’s smitten. He’s not going to let anything happen to the pretty little witch or anybody she cares about. No matter how evil he is.”

Buffy gave him a nudge. “Remind you of anybody you know?”

He shrugged. “Takes one to know one, doesn’t it? I’m just saying, he’s in love and he’ll do whatever he needs to keep her safe.”

XXXXXXXX

After everyone had eaten and had a chance to rest and think, Jeannie called them all together again.

“Okay. We think we have everything we need, except one thing.”

She waited for the chatter to die down, then said, “We need to find the focus of the spell and destroy it. It has to be somewhere in here in LA proper. The barrier is something we can take down from the outside – Molly’s working on that with some witches she sent for from Portland.” Jeannie glanced at the witches they’d rescued. “I’m going to need these four to help me with the counter spell as soon as the focus is destroyed. We just need to learn where it is and get to it.”

“It’s probably pretty heavily defended,” Buffy said. “We might want to bring some more girls through.”

“When we knock the barrier down, the slayers can come through immediately, all together instead of one at a time. But we won’t have much time before they try to put it back up, so you really need to be ready to go before we do it.”

Buffy looked at Spike and Angel. “Do you guys have any idea where it might be?”

The two vampires looked at each other and shrugged. “It’s probably in the Wolfram and Hart building… or what’s left of it.”

“Basement, maybe,” Spike growled. “That’s where the nasty stuff is.”

Angel nodded his agreement. “That’d be my guess. But it’ll have protection – demonic and magical.”

Anteres cleared his throat, cringing when Angel glared at him, but continuing never the less. “I might have some small idea where they keep it. And who’s monitoring the spell….”

“And you were planning to share this… when?” Spike went into game face as he shoved the man against a wall. Buffy’s quiet, “Spike” kept him from following through on his obvious threat, but he remained where he was, fangs only inches from Anteres’s face.

“When Selene… and her friends,” Antares said quickly, “are all safe.”

Smiling timidly at Spike, Selene put her hand on Anteres’s arm as Spike reluctantly backed away. “Anteres, you know we need to stay here until the counter spell takes effect. I can’t leave until the city is safe again. But you could help by showing them where to find what they need.” She smiled up at him and everyone in the room watched his expression soften.

“But you—” He tried to protest. “You could leave now.”

She shook her head. “I can’t do that. And you couldn’t come with me if I did. But if we stay here and help, then we won’t need to leave. We can have our city back.”

“Fine,” he sighed. “I’ll show them where it is and who’s watching it.” He glanced up at the four in charge people staring at him. “It’s not going to be as hard as you think. I can get you close enough to take out the demon guarding it. Then it’s just a question of smashing the focus and doing the counter spell.”

He looked at Buffy and Faith and smiled slightly. “But breaking the spell is only going to mean people can leave if they want to. The demons will all still be here, and they’ll be pretty pissed off at having their little piece of the world taken away.”

“That’s where the slayers come in,” Buffy said. Faith nodded.

“Soon’s that barrier’s down, we’ve got another thirty-five girls waiting on the other side. They’ll take care of the demons that don’t have enough sense to get out of town.”

Jeannie spoke up. “I’m going to pop back out and make sure Molly’s ready to go.

“I’ll come with you,” Faith said. “To make sure the slayers know what they’ll be facing and are armed for it.”

“You want me to come with you?” Buffy asked quietly as the other slayers and witches scattered to eat and rest.

“Nah. You stay here with your honey. Where do you want the girls?”

Buffy frowned. “I’m thinking just along the perimeter of the city as far around it as they can get. Tell them to stay away from the ocean side. Maybe we can just drive these things into the sea. I don’t want anybody out of sight of anyone else, so we probably won’t be able to do the whole perimeter. But if we can sweep our way across….”

“We should be able to make it safe for people to return to their homes. Clean up is going to take a while, but with the barrier down, it will be easier to get supplies in and out of the city. The grocery stores can stock real food – people food.”

“Sounds like a plan. Lets make sure everybody has a communicator in good working order. I don’t want to lose anybody because they couldn’t call for help.”

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/532809.html

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