The Downside of Elemental Dieseling

Author: Nickeltaffy

Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah…These characters are Joss's. I don't own them, never did and never will. Thanks for the loan, Joss.

Spike has just recovered from being a four year old the previous day. While trying to get back to life as usual, what if the stone wasn't done messing with the blonde vampire? Sequel to: Turning the Helical Gear.

Chapter 1

"There must be some kind of bleedin mass delusion OR the entire team has gone bug shaggin crazy! I really can't think which one is more likely."

Spike thought as he was standing near the doorway, waiting since Angel requested that he stick around after the meeting. It was bad enough not to have any memory of what had happened the previous day, but did they really expect him to swallow that crazy story? Spike was slowly shaking his head as he reviewed the incredibly balmy story that had been extolled to him at the meeting. They actually wanted him to believe that he had turned into a four year old yesterday. Who were they bleedin kiddin? As Gunn and Wes marched past him, he found that he was being confronted with affectionate gesture by each of them, whether it was a manly pat on the shoulder or friendly paternal grin. Looking at the earnest expressions , Spike felt he had suffered about as much goodwill with as he could stand at this hour in the morning.

"Uh huh. Angel, Please tell me you're not continue this farce? I can take a joke, but don't you think this is going a bit far?" Spike asked, peering at the dark haired vampire who had just finished conversing with Fred.

"What we're saying is true, Spike." Angel stated, flipping his eyes momentarily away from Fred to the blond vampire, whose stance was unknowingly echoing the small child from yesterday.

"I don't know what has been putting in the coffee or blood for that matter around here…but I think someone should take a look into it." Spike argued as his face wrinkled with annoyance. "Look, can we just move this along? I have things to kill and places to go."

"Spike, since you brought that up, I don't want you to leave the premises before Fred checks you out. Your cases can wait." Angel said with a direct paternal manner.

"Bleedin Hell! " Taken aback by the serious tone of Angel, Spike pulled back and said. "Look, it's not that I don't enjoy Fred's company, but I don't see why I have to be inconvenienced by your misdirected concern. I am perfectly well."

"Come on, Spike. It won't be so bad. I will enjoy having you down in the lab with me this morning." Fred said as she turned toward the blonde, then with an ingratiating grin added. "What if sweeten the deal with some cookies?"

At the sound of barely suppressed amusement, Spike lifted a puzzled eyebrow at the pretty young scientist. After taking a moment to speak with some control, Spike opened his mouth again to argue, but was cut off by Angel before any words came out of his mouth.,

"That's an order, Spike." Angel announced dictatorially. "I have informed the firm that you will need written approval from Fred to leave the building or issue any cars out of motor vehicles to you".

"Oh come on. Really? How do you expect me to work? I don't see what the fuss is about?" Spike declared. As he looked at Angel, he saw his argument was not making any headway in persuading the determined vampire. "Buggar! Fine. I'll bleedin get Fred's written approval before I leave. I can't believe I have to put up with this. I'll be traipsing around here like a schoolboy with a note for the teacher!" Spike grumbled as he left the conference room.

Upon hearing the last sentence, Fred placed a warning finger across her lips as she winked at Angel.

After the meeting, Spike accompanied Fred down to her lab. As they walked through the lab's double doors, Fred was met by a distressed Knox regarding some emergency in the lab. Something or other was breaking out of its' cage was all Spike could follow from the discussion between the two scientists. After holding up a hand to stem the distress pouring out Knox, Fred pointed Spike toward her office, and told him that she would be up in a few minutes. She didn't expect the situation to last very long.

After a few hours, a very bored Spike had his feet up on Fred's desk and was slinging sharpened pencils upward to end up being stuck in the ceiling. Finally having enough of that little entertainment, Spike got up and stood at the window of Fred's office looking down at the lab. He thought whatever Fred and Knox were doing, it was taking quite a bit longer than they estimated. Sighing, Spike turned around and looked at Fred's office and shrugged. Wandering around, casually looking at the items on the desk, Spike idly picked up a document to peruse. He notice that the document had Fred's signature on the bottom. An idea flashed in Spike's mind which brought an evil smile to his face as his eyes went back to the window to the lab. After conducting a little adroit forgery work using a blank release form and Fred's signature, Spike gleefully faxed the dubiously fabricated form over to the Transportation department. Knowing that Fred could return at any time, Spike hurriedly left a note informing her that he is going to check out another department and he'll swing back by later. Stuffing his counterfeit original into his duster's pocket, Spike quietly snuck out Fred's office. Just as the door closed, the fax machine jumped to life once again. Spike did not realize that Fred had set the fax machine to create a copy of any outgoing faxes. The fax machine hummed as it generated the copy and dumped it into the tray below.

Spike easily slid out of the Science lab unnoticed by the engrossed scientists dealing with the emergency situation in the lab. He made his way over to the elevators, his eyes canvassing the lobby to see if anyone noticed his break for freedom. Once at the elevators, Spike was fidgeting and looking over his shoulder back at the lab doors several times as he waited. When the elevator doors opened, Gunn stepped forward and looking up with surprise to see Spike passing him through doors.

"Spike. I see you're leaving." Gunn said as he turned around and looked at Spike in the elevator as the vampire reached forward to repeatedly push the buttons on the panel. "Everything check out with Fred?"

"I can't imagine it going any better, mate." Spike says with a grin as the elevator doors close. Gunn turns back to go to the lobby, but if he had been looking at the elevator, he would have seen Spike look up at the ceiling and blow a big puff of air as he impatiently waited for the doors to close.

When the elevator finally arrived at the garage level, Spike went over to the manned desk of the transportation department. There was an affable looking older man sitting behind the desk, arranging different stacks of papers. He was wearing a standard mechanic shirt with the name Howard embroidered on the the front.

"Hello Howie. How ya doin today? I need a car." Spike greeted the man as he casually leaned against the counter. Making an effort to look relaxed, Spike's eyes roamed the office, checking to see if he is about to be caught.

"Hello, Mr. Spike." The man with graying fuzzy sideburns responded as he pulled up his clipboard to rest against his barrell chest. He frowned as he stared at the small script and cleared his voice to add. "Um, it says here that you're not supposed to be issued any cars, until you've been cleared by Miss Fred."

"I believe if you check your fax machine, you'll see the clearance was faxed over." Spike confidentily informed the man, indicating the office machine on the far side of the room with his head,

The man pushed his rolling chair over to the wall behind the counter, so he didn't have to get up. Pulling a document off the top of the fax machine, Howie scanned the document in his hand as he rolled back to the desk.

"Yep, here it is. Sorry for the delay." Howie apologized as he laid it on the desk and began to to shuffle through the paperwork sitting there.

""Ta, think nothin of it, mate. So, what have ya got for me?" Spike responded with a wide grin, happy that his little deception had worked.

"Let's see what we got available on the cars with the solar retardant tinted glass. The Corvette is reserved by Mr. Angel. The Aston is in the shop." Howie muttered. Then looking up to Spike, he asked. "That only leaves the Viper. Is that okay?"

"Sounds perfect!"

It wasn't until a few hours later that Fred made her way back to her office. When she opened the door, she wasn't surprised not to see the vampire there. Sure enough, he had left a note that he was still on the Wolfram and Hart premises. She checked her watch. It was almost after four o'clock. Spike would have to hurry, if she was going to perform a cellular exam before quitting time. Hoping to catch up with Spike, she began to call around. She picked up the phone to call Harmony to ask if she had seen Spike. Harmony stated she had not seen Spike since this morning. Fred then called Wes who also stated that he had not seen Spike. Fred then called Gunn who said he had run into Spike at the elevators about an hour before lunchtime. She asked if he knew where Spike was going. No, he couldn't all he knew was that Spike took a down elevator.

That was odd. Where could Spike have headed? Fred then noticed the paper in the out tray of the fax machine. She had the machine to automatically make a copy of whatever was faxed out for security sake. She picked up the fax copy. She was stunned to see the faked release that Spike had conjured up with her signature. She looked at the fax history at the top of the page. It was faxed to the transportation division. She immediately picked up the phone and quickly punched in the extension number. The phone ran down on the garage level, after a few rings it was picked up.

"Wolfram and Hart Transportation Division. Howie speaking."

"Hi Howie. This is Fred in the Science lab. Could you tell me if Spike picked up a car today?" She asked calmly belying the fact that she was balling her other hand with tension.

"Yeah, he drove off with the Viper just around lunch time." Howie said matter of factly.

"Thanks Howie." Fred hung up the phone. "Damn!" Fred said to herself as her hand still rested on her phone. She should not have let that emergency in the lab sidetracked from examining Spike. There was still a question if there was any remaining effect of his transformation from yesterday. She should have known that Spike would not wait all day. Biting her lower lip in worry, she marched out of the science lab.

"Angel, we have a problem." Fred said as she walked into Angel's office, clearly upset. "Spike was able to slip out without me examining him. He managed to fake a release, so he was issued a car. He's been gone since lunchtime. Anything could happen to him."

"Okay, Fred. We don't know if there's anything wrong." Angel said, trying to calm the pretty scientist. "We'll just call him up. In worst case, we'll use the tracking system on the car to find him."

Angel punched in the number for Spike's cell into his desk phone. He left it on speakerphone. It rang about four times, before it was picked up.

"Angel! What a surprise!" Spike chirped happily

"Spike, get back here! You were not to leave the premises without Fred examining you." Angel commanded.

"You sound a trifle upset. Angry that I slipped the leash?" Spike responded, clearly enjoying the conversation.

"Spike, this is Fred. It is very important that you return as soon as possible." Fred said with the concern evident in her tone.

"Sorry, kitten. I just wanted to follow up on a case of mine." Spike answered in a contrite manner. "I'll be back in a couple of hours."

"Spike, return to the office NOW!" Angel angrily demanded.

"Sorry, mate. You're breaking up. I couldn't hear that last part." Spike said with a grin and pulling the phone away from his ear.

"SPIKE!" Angel yelled at the phone.

The line went dead. Grumbling, Angel pushed another button on the console.

"Harmony, please enable the tracer on the Viper. I want to pin down Spike's location" Angel directed the ditzy assistant.

"Okay, Boss. Give me a second here…" Harmony responded. "He's just outside Santa Barbara."

Angel disconnected the line and turned to Fred, who was displaying her unease in twisting Spike's forged document in her hands.

"See, Fred. We're probably just jumping to the worst possible conclusions." Angel said as he patted her shoulder. "That sounded like the old Spike. Probably, nothing out of the ordinary going on."

"Probably….I just don't like it that he left before I got a chance to examine him. AND he's all alone out there, he doesn't have any back up." Fred said, sounding like a mother who left her child at daycare for the first time.

"Okay, Fred. I'll send a team after him. Just to check everything out. Okay?" Angel said as he turned toward his console.

"Okay. I don't feel good about this." Fred gave a little smile, but the worry did not disappear from her face as she said. "He was so little and vulnerable yesterday. I can't stop worrying about him. Promise you'll let me know if anything happens."

….

Over at Caritas, Lorne was standing behind the bar when Angel came in.

"Hello, Crumbcake. Where's the luscious little Blondie tonight?" Lorne said greeting Angel while wiping down the bar.

"He's out on a case." Angel responded, holding up two fingers for his regular.

"Oh, that's too bad. I really wanted to check out his aura tonight. It was so bright last night, I thought I would have to break out that eighties song, 'Sunglasses at Night' out of my repertoire. Remember that one? One of the old standards." Lorne said, reminiscing as he placed the drink in front of Angel.

"Yeah, I remember." Angel said, rolling his eyes as he brought his drink up to his lips.

"It was too bad he didn't stay longer. He was sparkling like a jewel last night at the bar. I was surprised he called it quits so early. He usually drinks at least ten beers just to feel anything, but he quit after three. Something going on with him?" Lorne said as he leaned across the bar, to hear the dirt.

"We had a little trouble with a stone yesterday at the firm. It turned Spike into a four year old for most of the day. He was quite the little hooligan." Angel recounted, smiling. "I really can't remember the name of the stone, I think it started with a Q."

"A Stone that start with a Q, huh? A stone that makes you younger….It wasn't a Quavolchan stone, was it?" Lorne stammers as he pulls back from Angel.

"Yeah, that's it" Angel responds, not noticing Lorne's reaction.

"Bu …But Spike wasn't a four year old when he came in here last night. Tell me more?" Lorne leans forward again

"Yeah, that because we got the stone working again, and he was turned back into an adult." Angel says with a shrug.

"So, he was exposed to a Qualvolchan stone spiral twice in one day? I hope you're keeping an eye on him" Lorne says as a worried look creeps across his face.

"Well, Spike managed to sneak out, but everything seems to be okay. We're sending some staff to keep an eye on him. He's out on a case right now." Angel states, nonchalantly

"What? He's working right now on a case?" Lorne exclaims. "You got problems…BIG problems, Angelcakes."

"What do you mean?" Angel looked up into the musical demon's face.

"The use of a Quavolchan stone so close together usually means that there is a residual energy build up in the being. And that's in a living being…In a vampire, it is all just probably sitting there ready to go off." Lorne explained.

"What do you mean energy?" Angel asked, beginning to look more and more concerned.

"That particular kind of stone create an energy spiral. That's what probably changed him yesterday, That spiral has been internalized in Spike. That is why his aura was blazing away last night. You usually don't see anything that bright except on the really young. It was that energy was just sitting beneath the surface." Lorne said, shaking his head.

"What sets it off? What can we do?" Angel stood up and urgently asked the demon.

"Any kind of excitement, upset or physical activity could cause it to go off. If you can get a hold of Spike as an adult, I would tranquilize him for the week until the energy dissipates. If you get him after the energy has reignited, I hope you know some good kindergartens. You better get hold of him fast, who knows what could happen." Lorne warned the brunette vampire.

"Which means?" Angel asked, dreading to hear the answer.

"That Spike could be in the middle of a battle and suddenly turn into child again without warning." Lorne explained with deadly seriousness.

Angel immediately pushed away from the bar and walked quickly to the door as he picked up his cell phone.

"Wes! Grab the team and meet me at the garage level. We got a problem with Spike. Get Harmony to report the Viper's last location. Also, contact the team we sent after him, tell them this is a Priority Code One Red rescue." Angel said urgently into the phone as he charged out the door.

…..

Spike had parked the Viper at the edge of the San Luis dockyards. He watched the dockworkers leave as the sun went down. Once darkness had firmly settled, he left the vehicle to check out the container that his contacts had informed. Spike moved stealthily down the dock, winding his way between the rusty, banged up containers. He finally got to the area that held the containers offloaded today from the large freighters were located. He compared the numbers on the containers to the one written on his notes. He located the large container he was looking for. As he walked to the end, he noticed that the doors were open and gently bouncing back against the container.

"Damn!" Spike swore as he thought he was too late to corner the Asgexhr creature in the container. "Oh well, I could use the work out anyway."

Just then, a huge mottled arm swung against his face. Spike was thrown back against the ground. He looked up into the seven foot heavily muscled creature standing over him. Looking up into the face that resembled a cross between a tree frog and a boar, Spike brought up his hand and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth on the back of his hand.

"Well, this evening was going to turn out to be entertaining, after all.' Spike thought as he slightly chuckled and kipped back to a standing position.

As the huge ugly creature began circle him, Spike followed him with his eyes measuring his opponent. He bounced back and forth on his heels, measuring the threat of the Asgexhr before him, Spike suddenly leapt forward with a few round house blows to the creature's head. Beside its head slightly flinching, the creature did not seem to feel any pain from Spike's blows. The Asgexhr caught Spike's arm in the last blow in its vice like grip and stood there for a moment. Spike looked up into the creature's face as he realized that his blows had little effect on the creature. His eyes widened on his face as he felt himself being picked up and thrown thirty yards away at the end of the pier. Spike crashed at the end of the dock a few feet from the edge, laying dazed for an instant. Spike shook his head as he felt something unordinary than just the results of a fight on his person. Something odd was going on, there was more going on than just the physical pain, there was a buzzing around him. Deciding to ignore the persistent vibration, Spike pulled himself to his feet. For an instant, he felt…what..an energy bouncing around inside him.

Shaking it off, Spike pulled his fists in front of him readying for another bout with the creature. He noticed that the duster seemed to be in his way. It seemed to be hindering him from moving. Funny, it was almost like it didn't fit anymore. Without thinking, he quickly pulled it off and tossed it over to the side on some crates. The Asgexhr stormed toward Spike who was now cornered at the end of the pier.

"All Right, bloke! Let's do this proper, shall we?" Spike taunted, addressing the advancing creature.

'Did my voice sound higher?' Spike thought.

Just as the lumbering Asgexhr closed the last twenty feet, the air was suddenly filled with the sounds of guns being cocked and little red lasers appeared on the body of the monster. Recognizing that sound, Spike briefly looked up to the sky with disappointment. He was hoping that he could work off the extra energy. Now, the Wolfram and Hart squad had crashed the party, that was the end to his good time. The monster halted and seeing the red lasers, spun around. As it did so, it flung out an arm which crashed into Spike. Spike was knocked off his feet, hitting his head on the edge of the pier as he tumbled into the dark water below.

…..

A little over an hour later, Angel's Corvette rumbled to a stop beside the parked Viper. He was followed by a black Mercedes SUV carrying Wes, Fred and Gunn. The Wolfram and Hart advance team had already subdued the creature and were busy finishing up securing it in the containment wagon. Angel and the team rushed out to look for Spike. The lead of the advance team approached Angel.

"Sir, you'll be glad to know that we're able to contain the creature." The lead man reported to Angel

"That's good. Where's Spike?" Angel said, looking over at the area beyond the man.

"I believe the last time Spike was spotted was on the pier." The man said as he pointed down the aisle between the containers. Angel and the team rushed through the myriad of containers down to the pier. Their heads whipping about, and calling Spike's name. Angel was the first to arrive at the end of the pier. Sniffing the night air, Angel turned around to the team.

"He was here, but his trail ends here." Angel exclaimed as he began scouring the area around the dock with his eyes.

Fred slowly moved over to a stack of crates where she picked up Spike's duster from where he had thown it.

"He wouldn't have left this behind, would he?" Fred said with some nervous trepidation.

"No, he wouldn't." Wes answered, looking at Fred's worried face.

…..

In the middle of the night, several miles off shore, a small commercial fishing boat pulled in the body of a small child from the icy current. It was a small boy with curly blond hair who was clad only in an adult black tee shirt. The crew gathered around the small body that was so still and cold. No one could make a sound due to the sadness of the occasion. The first mate turned around and retrieved a fire blanket from the hold. He bent down and wrapped it around the small form. Once the child was completely wrapped up, he picked up the body in his arms. Looking at the face for a few moments before he flipped the blanket over the face. Putting his fingers under the child's chin, he turned the face toward him.

Just as he did that, the child's eyes opened up. Spike flung himself forward as he spewed two lungfuls of water over the deck.