Magic Box, Sunnydale

Buffy finished explaining the nerd takedown to the group assembled at the Magic Box. "So the security guard said there may actually be a reward for stopping them from getting away with the diamond. He has to check with the 'home office' first. If there is, that would be majorly of the good, because money is quickly becoming an issue at Casa Summers."

"Well," said Anya, "you're just really lucky Wesley was able to catch up with the both of you. Otherwise we never would have gotten the message to you and Spike in time. I think you both need to have cell phones. That way, when I have a vision I can get in touch with you."

"Did you miss the part where I said I'm out of money, Anya? I can't afford a cell phone right now." Buffy pouted.

"It's not a problem Slayer, I can get money. More than enough for cell phones and to pay any outstanding bills you girls may have," Spike said confidently.

"So much for being a champion," Xander sneered. "I'm pretty sure theft is against the PTB's rules."

"Oi! No theft involved. You remember my pretty ring that let me fight you in the middle of the day?" He asked Buffy, ignoring Xander's provocation.

"You mean the Gem of Amara?"

"That's the one. It wasn't alone in that cavern. Before my visit to Peaches to try and get the ring back, I made sure to clear out all the rest of the treasure. It was auctioned off, all legal like, and the proceeds deposited into a savings account. I put Dawn's name on the account last summer to make sure she was taken care of. Had your name added a week or two after you came back. Neither of you needs to worry about money for a long time. There's plenty there to pay off the mortgage and other bills, with enough left over for mobile phones for you me and the Bit."

"Wow, me too?" Dawn cried. "Can I get one with one of those pink crystal cases?"

"Just wait a second, Dawn." Buffy tried to calm her sister down but had a feeling it was too late for that. "You're sure all the money is legitimate? It didn't get mixed in with an account that held old blood money of some kind?" She directed her questioning to Spike.

"Cross my unbeating heart," Spike said. "I kept all the paperwork showing I had legal right to the treasure under California scavenging law, and all the receipts from the auction house matched up with the bank deposit. The money is completely clean, and all yours whenever you need it."

"Well, then…thank you Spike. I think for now, I'll take you up on the cell phone offer because that's really something we both need so Anya'll be able to contact us when she gets a vision. As for the rest, that's something I'm going to have to think on for a bit," she said with a touch of apology in her eyes. "Only because I don't like the idea of having to rely on someone else to support me and Dawn."

"I can't believe you're even considering this Buffy," Xander interjected, loudly. "You know you can't trust him! Are you really going to take his blood money? Even if it did come from where he said it did—which I don't really believe—he only got the money because he was after a ring that could KILL YOU! Am I the only one who has a problem with that?"

"As far as I'm concerned you are," Buffy told him hotly. "Spike and I used to try and kill each other on a regular basis. I don't hold that against him any more than he holds it against me. We're in a different place right now. You need to learn how to accept Spike, Xander, because he's going to be around a lot more often now with the champion stuff and all."

Because all eyes were on the argument between Buffy and Spike, once again Wesley was the one to notice Anya having a vision. "Quiet all!" He spoke loudly enough to be heard over the angry voices. "Something is happening with Anya!"

Once the vision cleared and Wesley helped her to a chair, Tara brought Anya a cup of tea.

Wesley asked, "Was it another vision?"

"Yes. If I'd known they were going to happen this frequently, I would've asked Joyce about compensation! Twice in one night is more than I expected," Anya said crankily.

"Cordelia rarely had more than one a day, but when she did, it was always important. Can you tell us about this one?" Wesley asked.

"The other vampire, the broody one—Angel? He's on his way to Sunnydale, and he's not happy. Though, I suppose that's a good thing, right? If he was too happy, he'd be much more dangerous. As it is, I think he's coming after Spike. I saw the two of them fighting in one of the cemeteries in town, but I couldn't tell which one."

"Great, that's just what we need right now. Mr. Big and Broody coming to mess everything up. I thought Mom said he wasn't the PTB champion anymore. What could he want here, and why Spike?" Dawn asked.

Willow cleared her throat. "He called the house last night looking for Giles. He wanted help researching the PTB and how to regain his champion status. I might have mentioned that your mom had appeared to all of us and told us Spike is the new champion. I think he thinks it's all a fake now, and that Spike set it all up."

"He thinks what? Is he nuts? Does he think I wouldn't know my own mother? How the heck could Spike have set all this up?" Buffy's patience was running thin.

"It made sense last night," Willow pleaded. "I mean, come on! Spike doesn't have a soul, just you and a chip. And as soon as that chip is gone, or he realizes you're never gonna love him, he's going to give up the whole champion thing and go back to trying to kill us all!"

"You're wrong, Will. Spike is nothing like Angel OR Angelus and thank god for that! Your fish are safe from him, if nothing else. And after everything we heard from mom, I trust Spike without a soul more than Angel with a soul."

"Buffy, listen to yourself! This is Spike we're talking about. You can't possibly trust him more than Angel! Angel was the love of your life!" Willow unsuccessfully tried another tactic to make her friend come around.

"That was before, Willow. Before I heard all that from mom. I was a kid when I fell in love with him and I don't think I ever really knew him. How could I have really loved someone I never really knew? In any case, I'm totally over him now, and if he thinks he's coming into my town and causing trouble, he's in for a rude awakening.

General Buffy took control and started giving orders. "Spike, I want you staying at our house for the time being. There's a cot in the basement you can use and it'll keep you out of the sun."

"Oi! I don't need your protection from my bastard of a grandsire. Not a child here, Slayer," Spike barked.

"I never said you were. But, I don't want you having to fight him if we can get him to listen to reason." Then she sidled up close to him and spoke softly enough that only he could hear. "Besides, how do you think he's going to react when he figures out you're living in my house?"

Spike grinned. "Right, then. First things first, I'm going to run out and pick up those mobile phones we talked about. I'll meet you at your house as soon as I'm done and we can start setting them up and giving out the numbers to the necessary people. That work for you?"

"Perfect! I'll see you at home in a bit. Dawn and I will get the cot ready in the basement." As Spike left the shop, Buffy turned to Willow.

"I know you're not happy about this but I want you to understand I decide who lives in my house and who doesn't. Keep that in mind when deciding what you want to say to me right now."

"Your house, your decision. I think I got it," Willow grouched.

Tara voiced her own opinion, "H-having Spike on hand should be a good thing, don't you think? Safer for him and safer for us to have another super strong being close by?"

"Good. Dawn, let's get going and don't forget your homework."

Crawford Street, Sunnydale

It was dangerously close to dawn by the time Angel got into Sunnydale. He'd spent the entire drive brooding and trying to work out how Spike had arranged to pull the wool over the eyes of so many people. He hadn't yet come up with an answer, but decided he'd be able to figure that part out once he got his hands on Spike. A little judicious torture from his grandsire and he'd be telling Angel all he knew, including how to fix it.

Buffy was going to be a separate problem. Whatever else Spike had done, using her dead mother's likeness to trick her was going to leave her emotionally vulnerable for some time after Angel broke Spike's spell over her. Angel was going to need to plan to stay in town for several extra days to console the poor girl. But, he could only stay in Sunnydale so long; he had important work in LA he needed to get back to as soon as possible.

Once again, he growled at all the trouble Spike had caused him. Family or not, Angel didn't expect Spike to get out of this situation undusty. He'd gone too far this time.