Somewhere there was a book with the missing details. Spike just knew it!

'Was right pissed when the Gr'davlon told me 'bout it, but I know it was supposed to be here in good old Sunnyhell! Wouldn't come back to this dump without a good reason.' He pummeled yet another of Willy's customers in an attempt to ferret out the needed information. "Master vampire here, no use holdin' out on me."

"I swear all I heard is that it was some fairy tale. Only idiots believe there's any truth to it!" The Bracken knew as soon as the words left his mouth that he had chosen poorly.

"Seein's how I believe shows how wrong you are, wanker." Spike made certain all the others watching learned to show a bit of respect as well. "I know for a fact the Chronicles of K'partha was in your shop just last month. Since you lot aren't known for your book clubs, I have to assume you sold it. I want the name of the demon who's the proud new owner."

Horace, the hapless owner of the demon bookshop, finally decided it was better to sic the determined vampire on his customer than to maintain his scruples about keeping all sales secret as well as final. A dead demon sold no books. "All right, no need to go Charles Bronson about it. The demon I sold it to is actually a really nice fella. He'll probably let you read it just by your asking. No need to get rough."

He quickly wrote down the address and sent the master vampire on his way, or he would have if the blonde bimbo the vampire had picked up earlier hadn't decided she wanted another banana daiquiri before they left the bar.

"But, blondie bear, you know it's really evil to buy alcohol for a minor," she whined, hoping to convince him for the sake of evil if nothing else.

"Number one, you're a vampire. Think the legal drinking age is as much in your past as your heartbeat. Number two, my grabbin' you for a quick shag when totally off my nut from Jack D. does not make us a couple, even if you have taken to following me everywhere and…," Spike got into Harmony's face and gave a low growl, "I am not EVER to be referred to as blondie anything, much less bear."

"Okay, blond…er, Spike." Harmony knew it was only a matter of time before she had the hunky vampire firmly in hand, or hands as she had learned would be needed. He was not one to like being alone and Harmony had enough experience in how to please any man to be sure of her allure. "I'm not taking you for granted or anything, but last night you said you needed to prove to Droodsilla that you were moving on." She didn't notice his darkening countenance as she deliberately mispronounced his dark princess' name. "Nothing says 'see ya' like another girlfriend and a hot one at that. It's not like I'm expecting a white wedding, even if you do look like Billy Idol."

"Berk stole the look from me, not the other way round," Spike muttered. "You can stay. FOR NOW. But don't go pickin' out china. In fact, don't go pickin' out anything. I've got too much to do to go looking for another port in the storm, so you'll do, I suppose. Just try to remember the golden rule."

"Do unto others?" Harmony was confused and it showed.

"Nooo, 'be seen and not heard'. Got a feelin' you heard that one plenty in your lifetime."

Harmony pouted slightly and took a sip of her drink. Better turn Spike up sweet if she wanted back on the Happy Land Express any time soon. "I'll be quiet as a mouse, quieter even. Bet I can even charm that old book you want off the demon who bought it." She tried to sneak a look at the hastily scribbled address.

"Drink up then. Got us a demon to intimidate."

~~~
"Can I help you?" The demon had a grin a mile wide and the most guileless expression Spike had ever seen.

"Horace says he sold the Chronicles of K'partha to you and I need the book for some research I'm doing." Spike got right to the point. A hundred years of trailing after Dru had made his social skills rusty enough to cause injury.

"Oh, sure! I bought it for my cousin 'cause it has this chapter about a shaman that he went to in Africa. Floyd resurrected his wife," the gray demon shivered, causing his loose skin to flap about wildly. "Never understood why he wanted her back anyway. She's a nag and even worse now that she's been resurrected. Those things never turn out right! Anyway, I thought he'd like the book as a kind of souvenir or at least a warning for the future."

"Sounds interesting," Spike said in a tone of voice that clearly said the opposite. "Really need that book though and hopin' you'll part with it."

"Like I said, I got it for Floyd, but I don't think he'll really want it. I guess if you paid me what I paid for it, I wouldn't mind selling it. I'm not much of a reader except for TV Guide." The demon walked to a small, mostly empty bookcase and selected the dusty tome. "More of a visual kind of guy, you know."

Harmony was bored out of her mind. The bar hadn't been too bad. It wasn't the Bronze, but the daiquiris were tasty. The creepy demon with floppy ears looked like he was courting Spike as his new best friend though and that could only lead to worlds of bad. "Spikey, can we wrap this up and get back to our little love nest?"

Spike rolled his eyes in frustration. Stupid bint couldn't take a hint. He hadn't killed many of his own kind-sort of a professional courtesy-but he could easily see making an exception in Harmony's case. The girl was enough to drive anyone crazy. "Too bad Gramps is back on the soul train. You'd be a perfect secret weapon for him to use to drive his victims 'round the bend good and proper." He turned back to the still stupidly grinning demon and grabbed the book from his taloned hand.

"How much do I owe you then?"

"I paid twelve fifty. It was a real steal. Okay, not a REAL real steal or I wouldn't have paid anything. I'm not that kind of demon though. I may cheat at cards from time to time, but I draw the line at anything that makes it hard for the little guys to make a decent living." His rambling was enough to make Spike hope for Harmony to open her mouth again.

"Right noble of you." He fished in his pocket to pay the demon and get back to the cave to do some serious research.

"Oh, hey, where are my manners?" The demon looked horrified at his lapse. "Please come in. I just made a fresh pitcher of Country Time and I'd be happy to get you a glass. I don't get a lot of visitors and it'd be an honor to have the famous master vampire as one of the few." He beamed in anticipation of the company.

Spike started to turn him down, but when he saw how displeased the idea made Harmony, he quickly accepted the offer of hospitality. "Might like a bit, sure." He repressed a grin of his own at the groan he heard from his blonde shadow.

The pair of vampires entered the cluttered apartment for the 'not so grand' tour.

Within a half hour, Spike was looking for a loose piece of wood to stake himself as the demon went on and on about some buggering TV program or other. He even hit on something in common with Harmony.

"I really like 'Sex and the City' too," the bubby blonde enthused. "Samantha is just like me, but I felt sorry for her last year when she finally slept with that lawyer she loved and he was too little." She cast a lascivious look at Spike. "I don't have THAT problem."

The demon nodded sagely. "Love's really important, but it can sure lead to lots of problems. I like to keep my relationships nice and light, play the field."

"Do you watch 'Charmed'?" Harmony looked ready to go off on another 'Critiquing for Dummies' bender, so Spike decided to nip the whole thing in the bud.

"Before you get going on that drivel, maybe we should let…em…?" He hadn't bothered to listen when the friendly demon had given his name.

"Clem," the demon supplied. He was used to being overlooked, so he took no offense.

"Right. Clem here likely needs to get up to a spot of no good, yeah?" Spike hoped the demon was good at taking a hint.

"Actually it's my day off. Loads of time to kill. Well, not literally. I'm not a troublemaker, no siree!" Clem grinned in anticipation of further conversation. The vampiress was a bit homely for his tastes, but at least she appreciated the art form that was television.

"Well, I've got lots of trouble callin' to me, so we'll just be going. Thanks for the lemonade and sellin' the book," Spike couldn't wait to leave. He had the answers to his quest in hand but didn't want to give anything away to this Clem fellow, no matter how innocuous he seemed to be. Harmony was another matter. All it would take was her hearing the word 'gem' and he'd never be rid of the silly bint.

Clem rose, slightly embarrassed at his needy attempt at friendship. "Of course. Important vampire like you would be far too busy to just hang out."

Something buried deep in Spike, a part of him that still smarted at having the doors of friendship closed on him while still human, just couldn't hurt the guy. Never know when a friend could come in handy, after all. "Not that, just have a project needs my attention."

Clem brightened, "Anything I can help you with?"

"Already did by sellin' me this book," Spike smiled. "Got a legend to chase down. Story's said to be in these pages."

"Let me guess," Clem ventured, "Gem of Amara?"

Spike furrowed his brow and his look darkened. "What makes you say that, mate?"

"Well, you're a vampire. Seems to me that if I were a vampire I'd want something that could make me invincible too." Clem explained. "I think it exists, even if no one's ever found it. After all, I know that shaman exists; so does Floyd!"

Spike decided this Clem might have some sort of information beyond the book and he sat back down again. "Come to think of it, don't need to be anywhere right this moment. Maybe you can help."

"All I really know is that this shaman in Africa grants wishes, your deepest desires, but only if you pass certain tests. The tests depend on who you are and what you want. In Floyd's case, it wasn't too hard. I guess the shaman thought Elvira was trial enough," Clem laughed at his own joke. "The only vampire ever to try for anything was this Amara guy a long time ago. He's the only one known to survive and he got that magic gem for it. Didn't make him completely invincible though, since rumor has it he died anyway. I hear he's buried here in Sunnydale! Like the old Master, he didn't just dust, he left a skeleton."

"Spikey! You didn't say you were looking for jewelry." Harmony was suddenly interested. As expected, she had tuned out the important parts and fixated on the gem. "We could sell it and maybe even go to Paris! I'd love that, you and me in the City of Love…"

Spike thought he'd gag. "Not for sellin'…and Paris is a bloody hole! Spent too many years there between the wars to ever want to go back." This bird just didn't understand the concept of a one-night stand. He gave her a hard stare. "And there IS no 'you and me'." Dru was his forever. He just needed to get the gem, kill the Slayer to prove Dru's stars and daisies wrong and all would go back to normal. 'Daft chit, thinkin' I'm hot for Buff-the Slayer!'

Seemed the time spent with Clem was worthwhile. Between what that demon had to say about rumors and what Spike read in his book, the cavern was fairly easy to find. The gem was harder to keep hold of, however.

Spike nursed his singed hand and rued his impatience. He's been in such a hurry to challenge the Slayer that he hadn't thought out a plan for taking her down. He reviewed the battle in his mind and wondered why he had mentioned the Great Poof when all that did was fuel the bint's fire! "Mucked that up right and proper!" At least the events of the day had finally rid him of Harmony and her incessant whining and demands.

Still, it was mortifying to be bested by a depressed Slayer. Buffy was a fine fighter when in top form, but she had been anything but that when Spike had come upon her in the bright, lovely sunshine of the campus commons. He'd had her once again. All he'd needed to do was administer the coup de grace and all his troubles would be at an end. No more taunts from Dru, no more conflicted desires, no more exile. He'd have his third notch in the belt and his wicked plum back in his arms and bed once more.

But hadn't the girl been a sight to behold with her blazing eyes, sunlight gleaming in her shampoo commercial hair! She moved like a dream and her soft curves fit him so nicely when he had held her close, taunting her a bit more before letting his fangs do their work. She'd squirmed nicely in his hold too. 'Gah! Stop! This is all Dru's fault for puttin' sick ideas like that in my head!' He pointedly ignored the fact that he was hard just remembering how Buffy had felt in his grasp.

No, time to get back with the plan. Forget his body's obvious insanity and finish what he'd started.

All that was left now was to take a little trip to LA and retrieve his property.

The hunger gnawed at his insides. How long had he been in this white cage? Bugger if he knew. The vamp in the next cell had warned him off the blood bags that had been dropped into his cage earlier. Spike knew he had to get out of this place and fast.

"Bloody Slayer, she's behind this somehow," he muttered into the void. "Always making a soddin' mess of my plans."

He hadn't spoken loudly, but the other adjoining cage must have housed something with better hearing than even the average vamp. "Spike? Is that you? Wow, how'd they ever get hold of you?"

"Do I know you, mate?" Spike tried and failed to place the disembodied voice.

"Yeah, it's me, Clem! Remember the nice visit we had a few weeks ago? Say, did you find that tomb?" The demon sounded as friendly and carefree as ever. Nothing seemed to dim his spirits.

"Yes and yes. Lost the gem though, or I wouldn't be in this mess. How'd you wind up in here? Thought you weren't a troublemaker."

"I'm not, but they don't seem to care. I'm a little worried about that, but you know it doesn't do any good to dwell on the bad stuff in life," Clem philosophized. "A sunny disposition can see you through most anything, my mom used to say."

Spike remembered those words from his own mum and bit back the snarky reply he might have made otherwise.

"Think it'll take a bit more than little Mr. Sunshine to get us out of here, mate," Spike suggested. "Need to think of a plan here."

"They'll be back for you before long. They just wait for you to feed on that drugged blood and whoosh, they come for you. I've been watching since I got here. They don't know what kind of demon I am yet, so all they've done is lock me up. I have a feeling I don't want them to try to find out the way they want to." Clem shook his head sadly at the lack of options offered. "I'd be glad to answer any questions they have, but they don't even ask!"

"These types don't want anything from you but what they can take," Spike advised. "Best keep still and watch for a way out. You say they take us vamps after we drink their partied up blood, yeah?"

"So far that's the pattern."

"Keep yourself ready, Clem, old sod," Spike grinned. "Got me a plan. You up for leavin' this dump?"

"Anytime you say, buddy."

"When things start to get interestin', be ready to move fast. Don't try stickin' with me though, the more directions they have to follow, the better all our chances will be."

Now they just needed an opening….

It hadn't been too hard to fake out the medical-looking blokes. They obviously had only dealt with fledges and other idiot vamps, not one with wit and cunning. After Spike grabbed one by the throat and proved how NOT drugged he was, the other was in a blind panic.

"Sorry, can't stay. Gotta go see a girl." He leapt from the gurney and commenced the battle for his freedom aided by the fear of the two orderlies. In a stroke of great good luck that Spike was not accustomed to receiving, one of the orderlies managed to stab himself with a syringe filled with some liquid that knocked him out quickly. That left only one of the stupid humans to subdue.

The other vampire was clamoring to be released as well, claiming to know the way out. Spike had only planned on helping Clem since the demon had been so helpful to him in the past, but, hey, the bumpy wonder in the next cell might make a great cover. Quick as a bunny, Spike discovered the card key and released both Clem and the other vamp. He motioned for Clem to head the opposite direction from the one he planned to take and the race was on.

"This way!" yelled Bumpy as they ran nearly head on into a group of soldiers just coming out of an elevator.

"New plan. We split up. You go that way," he shoved the hapless half-wit towards the soldiers and slid under a closing security door. He didn't stop to see if the soldiers were still in hot pursuit. Instead, he used every one of his enhanced senses to pilot himself out of the labyrinth and to freedom.

At a juncture of air vents, he suddenly found himself nose to nose with Clem. "Hey! Wow, I thought we were separated when we headed in opposite directions. Glad they didn't catch you. Cool escape, just like a James Bond movie!"

"Not over yet," Spike reminded him. "When we get out of here, you'll need to leave town for a bit 'til the heat's off."

"You're welcome to come with me," Clem offered. "I have a sister in Pasadena who'll be glad to put you up for a while. You did save me from these guys, after all, and I've always been Maud's favorite."

"Thanks, but I have a bit of business here," Spike fumed. Somehow the Slayer had something to do with this embarrassing situation and the girl was going to pay.

"Okay, but drop by my place later when everything goes back to normal. I owe you one, buddy." Clem clapped Spike on the shoulder. "I think this shaft heads up to the outside, if you wanna follow me."

Spike wasn't sure just where they were when they finally did emerge to daylight. Luckily there were enough trees that he was able to get out of the sunlight before combusting.

"You change your mind, just head to Pasadena and ask anyone in the demon part of town where Maud Gfoiuasj lives. Even if I'm not still there, she'll lend you a hand. Take care, Spike."

They shook hands and Clem headed in the direction of his apartment. Spike headed for the cave he had shared with Harmony. Much as he hated the thought of dealing with her again, that was where the weapons were. Time to take the Slayer down! Weapon up, do a quick search on the computer for the bitch's dorm room and all would be right again in Spike Land.

"Okay, Slayer isn't involved." Spike popped yet another half dozen aspirin and moaned at the pain in his head. "Little redhead was sure sweet. Not much confidence in her though." He had to smile at the memory of the Slayer's friend trying to reassure him of his capabilities when he found himself unable to bite her.

"Buggered me up proper, they did," he thought in disgust. "Can't bite, can't kill. Gonna have to sweet talk that idiot Harmony 'til I can get whatever this is fixed. Maybe I should have taken Clem up on his offer." Somehow running didn't sit right with the master vampire though. "Not letting a pack of GI Joes run me out of MY town."

So Spike determined to figure out what his situation really was and where to go from there. After all, a bloke didn't live as long as he had without being resourceful. "Not like I don't have options," he told himself. Like Clem said, it never did to dwell on the bad stuff in life. Spike had plenty yet to look forward to, even if he had to deal with migraines. He still had a Slayer to kill and love to be won. He'd even picked up a real friend along the way. Maybe he'd lose his positive attitude later, but for now it was good to be him.

~fin