Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters… it's all so sad. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own it all.

The Amazing Puppet-Man

Angel sat on the examination table and tried to keep from fidgeting.

Fred carefully pulled the thread taut and clipped it off.

"OWW! Come on! How many more do you need?"

Suppressing a grin, Fred placed the thread on a slide and patted Angel's felt covered shoulder. "Just this one …. Maybe one more… Now, you're telling me that pulling off your nose doesn't hurt. But clipping a thread does?"

"That would be the 'oww' thing." He said.

"That doesn't make any sense." She told him.

He gestured at himself. "And any of this does! Fred, I'm a freaking puppet!"

"Ok, ok." Fred held up her hands. "Calm down, I know. It's just that trying to figure out this puppet thing takes some time and it's not like you have blood I can analyze."

"If you pull too many more threads, I'm going to unravel!" Angel grumbled under his breath.

Fred smiled. "I hardly think that's going to happen. All the rips from when Nina got you are healed, so it looks like you still have super duper vamp healing."

"Yeh, so why am I still a puppet?" the scowl was over emphasized by the fact that it was on a puppet's face and it was hard for Fred not to grin even with the seriousness of the situation.

"Wesley is going to find the cure. I'm seeing some changes in my tests so something is happening." She told him. "And if Wesley doesn't find out how to fix this, I will." She reached out and fluffed his hair. "Don't worry."

"Stop that!" Angel growled, waving his tiny hands wildly. "I can't stand that!"

"Your puppet giving you a hard time, little lady?" Spike drawled from the doorway. "I know a couple of teddy bears that can rough him up for you."

"Spike, why don't you bite my puppet hole!"

"Tisk tisk! What would the Muppet Association say about such language." Spike moved over to the table and peered critically at Angel. "You know what your problem is mate? You need some company. I'm sure Harmony has some Barbies lying around…"

"That's it! You're about to get your ass handed to you by a puppet- again!" Angel shouted, lunging for the vampire.

Fred stepped between them. "Spike, stop it! And Angel calm down before you… uh… tear something."

Spike laughed. "Yeh, don't get your stuffing in a bunch Pinocchio! Or do you prefer Lambchop?"

"Hey! The only one who gets away with calling me cute names is Lorne and that's only because…uh. well, I don't know why exactly but he does!"

Spike simply smiled.

Gripping the edge of the table, Angel glared at him. He shouldn't allow Spike to get to him this much but he knew his change had made his emotional control more than a little lax. Wesley called it his "stress response mechanism". Angel simply felt as if he were on edge all the time.

"Here's an idea," he said through gritted teeth. "Go be redundant somewhere else."

Spike frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Redundant," Fred said quietly, "means…"

"I know what it means!" Spike nearly shouted. "I mean, what does he mean by it!"

Angel crossed his arms in front of him. "Do you really think this town needs two souled vampires? Face it, you're a back up and I don't need a back up."

Spike crossed his arms in unconscious imitation. "That so? Looks to me like you could use one, unless you're going to bill yourself as The Amazing Puppet-Man and get Kermit the Frog as your sidekick!"

"This isn't going to last forever." Angel told him with more conviction than he felt. "And when I'm back to normal, you can just go play hero someplace else."

"Yeh? Sounds good. I'm thinking Rome would be a good place to start."

"You do that." Angel laughed nastily. "But you know as well as I do that she knows you're alive…undead… whatever… but funny thing, I don't see her here anywhere."

"She just doesn't want to have to deal with you!" Spike snarled.

"BOYS!" Fred shouted. "Enough!"

Angel and Spike stared at her for a moment.

"Sorry." They mumbled in unison.

Wesley stepped into the room. He looked at them in turn, seemed ready to say something but then thought better of it.

"I've figured it out." He announced instead.

"Really?" Angel and Fred nearly yelled together.

"Oh? You got the bloody Blue Fairy stashed away somewhere?" Spike asked.

Wes hesitated. "Uh, well I don't believe… although this is Wolfram and Hart… Anyway, the effects are temporary. I was right in thinking that destroying the egg would reverse your condition as well as the children's. I was worried that destroying the object might have made the effects permanent. But as it turns out, it was the only way to reverse it. It should wear off in the next 2-3 days."

"You thought that this might be… permanent?" Angel looked at Fred accusingly.

"We have to look at things from every possible angle, Angel." She said sheepishly. "If it makes you feel better, we knew for a fact that it would reverse the children's conditions. But hey, good news huh?"

"Aw see there mate, you get to be a real boy again." Spike said. "Too bad, I was sort of getting use to the new you."

"You know Spike," Angel said jumping down from the table. "It's a shame I've only got four fingers just now. I don't seem to have the one I'd really love to give you."

"Where are you going?" Fred called after him as he got to the doorway.

"Well, if this isn't permanent and there's nothing to do but wait…" He called back over his shoulder. "I thought I'd go see if maybe Nina wanted to have breakfast with me."

Spike shook his head slightly. "He's a bloody puppet and he still manages to get a date? How is that possible?"

Fred laughed. "Well… he's really cute!" she said.

"I heard that!" Angel shouted before the elevator doors closed.