Angel watched as Buffy paced restlessly, constantly glancing from the clock to the front doors. Her friends would be arriving soon. It would be good to see them again. Or good to see Willow again, anyway. Things were still awkward and uncomfortable between him and Giles, and Xander…. He may have been out of his parents' basement now with a kinky girlfriend, but he had to still be the same old Xander. A hateful little boy who couldn't get over wanting to get into Buffy's pants.
At least he'd be a little bit useful for Angel's plan. His goofball antics would make a good distraction while Willow used her magic to get the rest of them in to rescue the baby for Buffy. They'd rescue Spike, too, while they were at it. As much as Angel hated Buffy lowering herself by settling for Spike, he wasn't going to leave the pest with Wolfram & Hart, especially not while he was carrying Buffy's child.
Maybe that wouldn't have mattered to him before, but after seeing the ultrasound of his own child…. His thoughts drifted to Darla and Lorne's message about her being safe and sound in his club. And possibly in labor. Worry gnawed at him, but he forced it back. Darla was strong and she liked pain. She'd be fine. And their son would be, too.
He was still telling himself that when Buffy's backup got to the hotel. Xander wasn't with them, not exactly something he'd be crying about, but Willow didn't seem to be either. Just Giles and a woman with streaky blonde hair that Angel vaguely remembered seeing with Willow when he'd been in Sunnydale around Valentine's Day. She was holding a small cardboard box while Giles had a plastic bag.
"Tara, Giles," Buffy called out in greeting, sounding relieved as she walked towards them.
"It's going to be okay. We're going to get Spike and Thursday safe, okay?" The woman – Tara, apparently – said, smiling warmly as she shifted the box so he could give Buffy a one-armed hug. "I, uh, I wasn't sure what we'd need, s-so I gathered up a bunch of practice charms the Wicca group has been working on." She paused for a moment, then blurted out, "Oh, a-and I have a message from Xander. He says you better hurry up and rescue Spike and get home. They have a hot, pool-at-the-Bronze man-date scheduled for Friday, and he's going to be really annoyed if he gets stood up."
Angel frowned. That didn't sound like Xander at all. The kid hated vampires with a passion, especially vampires with any interest in Buffy. Why would he be okay with Spike, to the point of hanging out with him and apparently being friendly about it? He shook the thought away. It wasn't important right now.
"Where's Willow?" he asked. Tara looked like he'd slapped her and Buffy suddenly went from worried to stiff and angry. "I need her help for my plan."
"You and your plan can both go to hell," Buffy spat, eyes blazing as she glared at him. "Actually, no, I've changed my mind. Let's go with your plan, assuming it's like the ones you always had in Sunnydale. You spout some cryptic bullshit that's only vaguely helpful at me, then run away and get a manicure or whatever while I deal with the danger."
"Buffy, that's not…." He'd been trying to walk the tightrope line of helping her without interfering with her destiny. Couldn't she understand that?
"This is what we're going to do," she said, not even paying attention to his words. He couldn't really blame her, not after he'd rubbed her face in what they couldn't have with that kiss. And then finding out some of the things he'd done to Holtz…. It was no wonder she was having trouble dealing with it all. "We'll get into the building and just destr-"
"Ah, Buffy," Giles cut in gently. "Perhaps it would be best to let cooler heads decide our course of action?"
"Giles is right," Angel said, relieved the watcher was on his side. "Now, we really do need Willow –"
"I wasn't talking about you," Giles interrupted icily.
"W-Willow isn't available," Tara mumbled, looking down into her box. "And she, she probably wouldn't have been much help here." She took a deep breath and lifted her head to look right at him. "Wolfram & Hart are going to be shielded and on guard against powerful magics. Little magics like these?" She glanced down at the box of charms. "N-no one is going to even care."
"I don't even care what the plan is!" Buffy practically wailed. "We just have to get in there. We have to get them –"
"We will get them back." Giles put his hands on Buffy's shoulders, stilling her fidgety movements. "But you must be calm and listen to me, or Wolfram & Hart will remain a threat indefinitely. I'll need most of the day to –"
"No," she moaned. "No, no, no. We can't leave them there that long!"
Giles shook her a little. "Get control of yourself! Use the ritual. Don't let it use you. You need to be calm and focused, or Spike, Thursday, and Aliena will never be safe."
She suddenly went completely still and stared at her watcher like he was only thing in the world. It was eerie and unnatural and made the hairs on the back of Angel's neck stand up. Was this the ritual, too? Forcing calm on her instead of a frenzied rage?
"Most of the day, and then they'll be safe?" she asked quietly.
"Yes. I have a plan; I just need time to set certain things in motion." He smiled. "And the plan does happen to involve a certain amount of violence."
Buffy seemed to sag then, and sniffled loudly. It took all of Angel's willpower not to try to comfort her. He didn't think she'd want it from him right now.
"Your, uh, mother sent along a care package," Giles said, taking a step back and holding out the plastic bag. "An assortment of chocolate for you and some brownies for Spike with little marshmallows baked in. And, um, a quite good selection of loose-leaf tea."
Angel stared at the bag as it was passed from Giles to Buffy. The woman who had demanded that he leave her daughter so she could have a normal life was sending treats for Spike? No. No, Joyce had just sent something for Spike because of the other baby. She wanted to make sure her second granddaughter was getting good nutrition. Except, if that was the case, she would have sent some kind of health food or something. Not marshmallow brownies.
None of Buffy's friends and loved ones seemed interested in getting her away from Spike. Even the ones who had been dead set against Angel were apparently in his corner. He wanted to think they'd all just fallen for Spike's undeniable charm. But, deep down in his mind, tucked away where he didn't have to look too hard, he couldn't help wondering if maybe Buffy hadn't settled after all. Maybe she'd actually found someone who fit her just right.
Spike huddled in the corner, coat closed around him like a child's blankey clutched tightly for comfort. They'd given back his clothes and had steadily raised the temperature until he felt only a little chilly out from under the electric blanket. That was something to be glad of, he supposed, but he'd gladly stay starkers and curled up on the bed for warmth in exchange for Thursday being in the room with him.
He kept thinking he could hear her crying, which was utter bollocks. Soundproofing was good enough that he hadn't even heard his captors at the door when they'd brought his clothing and some grub. He glanced over at the tray with its bowl of stew and mug of human blood and shuddered. He'd no idea if someone had died for that blood or not, and as for the stew, well, just thinking on his first whiff of the stuff had him all over queasy again. Something in the congealed mess of ingredients hadn't agreed with him, leaving him in misery for at least half an hour, desperately wishing vampires could vomit. Bloody any-time-of-the-sodding-day sickness.
Another phantom cry rang through his mind. God, she had to be terrified. Someplace strange without any familiar scents or sounds. He needed to get out of there. He needed to find his girl and hold her and never, ever let her go again. Staple her to him or somesuch. Or, well, her clothes at least, with her in them. Couldn't put staples through his sprog. Maybe duct tape would be better? Seemed like staples might be a bit too flimsy to properly hold. Maybe do something involving one of the slings they had for her, make it easier to change her nappies and let her feed at her mum's breast without him having to let her go.
But first, he had to get out. Get out and follow the cries echoing in his mind. Hush-a-by, don't you cry, he sang softly in his mind, trying to quiet her fears, even though he knew he couldn't really hear her, and she definitely couldn't hear him. Get ahold of yourself, mate. Have to…. Get out and find her. Slaughter his way through the whole lot of them keeping them apart. Bathe in their blood, and even his soul sang out in approval as his demon howled for blood and violence.
He surged up to his feet and ran at the door, throwing himself against it. The bloody thing was no more likely to yield than before, but he couldn't stop himself from fruitlessly beating at it, throwing his body against it over and over again. Pounding and clawing at the door between hitting it with his shoulder, hands leaving bloody trails across the metal surface. Eventually, something snapped in his arm, but he ignored it, battering himself until a drawn in breath sent him staggering back to the corner, gagging and dry heaving.
Useless, pathetic wanker. A slightly hysterical giggle escaped him. God, he really was pathetic, brought down by a sodding bowl of stew he hadn't been able to tolerate the scent of even before it'd gone off in the heat. Couldn't even escape a bloody room and rescue his own child. Worthless, naught but rubbish. No wonder Buffy had turned to snogging Angel. Anything was better than Spike, even his smarmy git of a grandsire. Couldn't do anything right. She'd asked just one thing of him. Get himself and Thursday to safety, and he'd failed. He'd failed and now Wolfram & bloody Hart had them both.
Buffy would come, though. He knew she would come. Maybe not for him (stop being a daft wanker, a little voice called out in his mind, you know she loves you), but she'd come for Thursday, and she'd rescue him, too, for Aliena if nothing else.
The cries tore through his mind again, angry and scared, and Spike squeezed his eyes shut. It's okay, love. Your mum is coming. And when she's here, we'll make them all pay.