Thanks to Ginar 369 for being an awesome beta.
Buffy's head was spinning. Surely there had to be some other way. She was the Slayer after all and she was supposed to protect the innocents not murder them for the greater good. She wasn't stupid; she knew that there was some sense in what the others were saying but she couldn't in good conscience leave Angel kill Ben just because it was easier. As well as that, she had seen first-hand what Glory could do; Angel was taking on more than he could chew. The room was silent and she could feel Spike's eyes burning a hole in the back on her head. She looked around the living room. Willow's eyes were wide, while Tara had a hand to her mouth. She couldn't see Xander and Anya's faces as they were looking at the ground but her mother was shaking her head disapprovingly. She didn't look at Giles knowing what she would see there. Instead she turned around and met Spike's gaze.
"We have to stop Angel," she said to him and he nodded his consent.
Somehow, she knew he would have her back whether he agreed or disagreed with her. It was strange to think that she trusted someone who had been her enemy for so long. Now wasn't the time for thinking about that. She looked at her inked hand to remind herself of Ben slash Glory. That too was a good reason to take Spike along with her. She sighed and turned to her Watcher.
"I was afraid of that," Giles muttered, his lips in a thin line.
Buffy ignored his words and quickly went into Slayer mode. "The rest of you continue working on some other way of defeating Glory. Find me something I can sic on her."
"Of course," Willow said seriously before perking up immediately. "There's something you should know. We've been working on something which might help you get in and out."
"'Splainey," Buffy demanded.
Willow chewed her lip, "Well – there's a lot of guess work here. We think that Ben and Glory are both competing for control of the body." The red head turned to her girlfriend. "Right, Tara?"
Tara nodded, "We've been working on this spell that incapacitates her enough to allow Ben to reappear and take control..."
Buffy tried to wrap her mind around this new development. "That's great but it would mean one of you would have to come with."
Willow's eyebrows danced. "And the best thing is that you don't need a witch to magick it up. We have made it instantly transportable..your very own magic ball."
Tara smiled. "We just enhanced the magic in the Dagon Sphere."
Willow handed her the sphere and Buffy grabbed it from her eagerly.
"Cool!" The words were out of Buffy's mouth before she could stop them although she managed to ignore the temptation to clap her hands together in excitement. Crap.
She was so involved in her own thoughts she didn't notice Giles come up behind her.
"I don't believe it is wise to be using such old and powerful magic without extensive research. You have no idea if it will work properly."
She refrained from rolling her eyes but it was a close call. "Maybe not but it's the best idea we have so far."
She took one last look at the sphere before popping it into her pocket.
Giles put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it. "Buffy, be careful."
Buffy inclined her head. She might be annoyed at him but she knew his motivations were just about keeping them all safe.
"D'ya think the Xan man could come along, Buff?" Xander asked. "I wouldn't like to miss Angel getting whaled on."
Anya immediately grabbed Xander's arm. "You can't go! What if Glory tears you into little bitty pieces?"
Buffy nodded, "She's right, Xan. It's too dangerous."
He shrugged. "It was worth a try."
She turned to her mother, who was worrying her lip.
"I know you have to go, Buffy," Joyce said. Her eyes were wet. "I just wished you didn't. And I'm proud of you."
"I know, Mom." Buffy threw her arms around her mother and relaxed in her embrace. She pulled away after a few moments. Learning to cope with her daughter putting her life at risk night after night couldn't have been easy.
"Don't worry, Joyce," Spike said quietly. "I have her back. 'Sides two vamps and a vampire Slayer. I'm sure we can take on a Hell god." He flexed his hands.
Thankful for Spike's intervention, Buffy took a deep breath. "Do the best you can and we'll find Angel."
She grabbed her coat and Spike reached for his duster and the pair headed out the door.
"You're quiet," Buffy said. "It's not like you. Normally, I can't shut you up."
"Not like you to care, luv," Spike pointed out.
"I don't care. I'm just saying."
"Been thinking is all. Still not feeling quite like myself."
"I think I know what you mean," she said.
"Get yourself a new power?" Spike chuckled.
"Can't even have a normal civilised conversation can you?" Buffy gritted her teeth.
The night was cool but not quite cold. Buffy's was grateful for the fresh air and familiar feeling of having a stake in her hand. She brushed the wood with her fingers. Everything had been so out of control over the last couple of days. But now she was back in her adult body and she was doing what she did best – hunting down the bad guy.
"Oi, Slayer! Earth to Buffy."
Spike was waving a hand in front of her face. "Penny for your thoughts."
She glared at him. "Stop that! I was just wondering where we should start."
His knowing smile told her he knew she was lying. Seeing right through her was one of this most annoying attributes. Since when did being evil give someone the right to be all Mr. Knowing Guy?
"Go on – follow your nose and find him," Buffy ordered.
Buffy rolled her eyes at Spike's smirk. He was no doubt delighted at a chance to have a one up on Angel.
He did an exaggerated sniff of the air. "Don't know if we need all the bloodhound lark? Most likely Peaches' is either at the hospital or at Glory's pad."
"Probably," Buffy conceded. She gave him a shove. "But seeing as I have you, then I'll use you."
"Story of my life," Spike muttered, as he edged in front of her. "This way. The hospital it is."
Buffy frowned but pretended not to hear him. She rushed to catch up with him and matched him stride for stride.
"Fuckin' Peaches is an idiot – thinking he can take on that hell bitch all by his lonesome."
"He better not have gotten himself killed." Buffy balled her fists. "I want to kill him myself when I get my hands on him."
Spike chuckled. "I don't fancy being in Peaches' shoes."
"Why do you call him that?"
Seeing Spike's smile made her change her mind. "Actually, I don't want to know."
"It's a long story – not for you delicate ears."
Buffy gulped and flushed bright red. Stupid vampire could make anything sound dirty. But damn it she really wanted to know about it now.
"Do you think you can avoid the pissing contest with Angel until this is over?"
He did that weird tongue thing. "Don't know what you're talking about, Slayer."
Buffy tried not to roll her eyes. Trying to concentrate on the matter at hand instead she turned her attention to their surroundings instead of looking at the vampire. She just knew he was strutting in that suggestive way right now. Thankfully the hospital was coming in view now.
"He definitely went this way recently," Spike said.
They quickened their pace and made their way towards the entrance of the building.
Buffy crossed her fingers. "Please God let us not be too late." The visions she was getting of Angel as a pile of ash were not helping.
"Don't worry, Slayer. The great poof isn't so easy to get rid of. I should know having tried to off him and all."
Buffy got the door first and Spike ambled in on her heels. There was a curious look from the nurse at the reception and Buffy grabbed Spike's arm to get them out of there before the nurse could ask them any questions. She was never a good liar and even though he was evil Spike wasn't much better.
In a whisper she asked, "Can you smell which direction he went?"
Spike's nostrils flared and he pointed down the corridor to their left. They hurried down the corridor where they came to set of double doors.
Spike tilted his head. "I think I can hear Peaches."
He flung open the doors with such force that the swinging doors nearly knocked Buffy off her feet.
"Such a gentleman," she griped and staggered through the door.
Spike had disappeared but she heard a "Bloody hell" in the distance and ran towards the source of the sound. When she finally reached him she saw Angel going flying and landing on top of Spike.
Glory towered over the two vampires. "You tried to kill me!" she shrieked, "And you ruined my dress when you tried to stab me."
Buffy released the sphere, hoping it would do exactly what Willow promised. Sure enough Glory started to shake, her female limbs turning into more masculine ones, curly red hair shortening and turning brown.
"What's going on?" Ben ran his fingers through his hair.
Buffy grabbed him by the throat, "You have been hanging around my family and never once did you think to tell me from time to time you wear a dress and call yourself Glory."
"What am I supposed to do? I can't fight her." He looked so pathetic and she couldn't believe she had thought about going out on a date with him.
"You can get in your car and drive as far away as possible," Spike suggested.
When Ben just stood there, Spike gave him a push. "Get lost!"
Ben took off down the corridor and Buffy heaved a sigh of relief. They had a brief respite but they better not hang around. Buffy surveyed the damage to Angel. He had a fat lip and it looked like he had dislocated his shoulder.
"Are you okay?" she asked him.
"I'm fine. Just a little banged up."
"Good," she said, and landed a powerful right hook at his nose.
Angel cradled his nose and looked in shook at her. Buffy was almost as shocked herself. She could only put it down to the all the childish hormones that hadn't yet fully disappeared.
A snigger from Spike gathered Buffy's attention. "Gotta love that little fist."
"Euugh – do you have to find innuendo in everything?"
He waggled his eyebrows, "I didn't say anything. That's your dirty mind." He winked at Angel. "Don't you think she looks fetching all embarrassed like?"
"Shut up!" That vampire was so infuriating. "Let's get out of here."
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Angel asked. "I need a little help here setting my shoulder."
Spike perked up. "I'll do it."
Buffy could have sworn she saw Angel cringe a little. "Can't Buffy do it?"
"That sadistic bint just punched you in the face. You want a pissed off Slayer anywhere near you. You're almost as crazy as me."
"Point taken," Angel muttered.
Buffy frowned. "Hey – I'm not that bad."
Angel grunted as Spike put her shoulder back into place. "Thanks."
Spike shoved his hands in his duster. "Better get lost then. We're back to the drawing board again I reckon. Any ideas, Slayer?"
"No. But if anyone can figure things out it's the Scooby gang."
"I hope so," Angel muttered.
Spike was staring at her and she got the feeling he saw right through her chirpy tone. She hated how vulnerable he could make her feel when he could read her so well. Stupid vampire. She looked at Angel instead.
"And your plan was so much better?" Buffy said to Angel. "Let me remind you how we saved your undead ass."
The two vampires and the Slayer quickly made their way back to Revello Drive. The banter had continued the whole way back with Spike and Buffy joining forces to mock Angel. Buffy would never admit it out loud but Mr. Evil Dead Guy could be good company when he wasn't behaving like an asshole. Granted that didn't happen very often. Little or large Spike was one of the most annoying people she had ever met. The research party seemed to be fully underway. Xander and Anya appeared to have left but Giles, Willow and Tara were ensconced in books at the table in the living room.
There was a chorus of hellos.
Willow sighed. "Not yet."
Tara patted a seat beside her. "Want to join us?"
"Maybe later," Buffy said. "I need something to drink first."
Joyce burst into the room from the kitchen.
"You three are back!" She threw her arms about Buffy and then Spike.
Buffy shot a quick look at Spike's face. He looked embarrassed but there was a little smile on his face that could only mean he was a little pleased too.
Spike truly was an extraordinary vamp.
The woman turned to Spike, "I can't seem to find your blankie, Spike."
Buffy stifled a giggle and Spike glared at Joyce.
"I don't know where it is," he snapped.
Joyce smiled. "I'm sorry." Buffy thought she looked anything but. "Am I embarrassing you?"
Spike turned his back to her and crossed his arms. The scowl and the posture looked so like his smaller self that Buffy couldn't help herself and began to laugh.
"What's so funny, Slayer?" Spike did one of those infuriating head tilts.
"You," she managed to say.
An obscene gesture was his response.
This only made her laugh even harder and she dropped to the floor roaring with laughter, clutching her sides.
"Is she delirious?" she heard Angel ask.
Buffy took a couple of deep breath in and eventually stopped laughing. "I'm okay. I couldn't help it. He looked just like his younger self there for minute."
Spike glared at her and headed out a door. "I'm going outside for a smoke."
"Can I speak to you for a moment, Buffy?" Joyce asked.
Buffy followed her mother into the kitchen.
"You hurt his feelings," Joyce said.
Buffy scoffed. "Spike doesn't have feelings. He's not even a person. Not really." As she spoke the words that came automatically to her lips, she was struck by the realisation she didn't really believe it anymore. A couple of weeks ago, Buffy would have believed this but things had changed so much recently. She had gotten to know Spike better and even though he was an evil vampire he had behaved just as much of a child as she was. The demon was inside but so was the man.
"Maybe he does have feelings," she conceded.
"I think you owe him an apology," Joyce said.
Buffy's mouth flew open. "I can't apologise to Spike. That's like one of the signs of the apocalypse."
Joyce shrugged. "You're an adult, honey. I can't make you but I think you should."
Her mother left the kitchen and Buffy noticed the tiny marshmallows on the worktop. She could make him hot cocoa with marshmallows as a peace offering. It wasn't as if he was truly upset or anything. What sort of a vampire gets upset when someone laughs at him? Although, if he was feeling as messed up as Buffy was that could be a hangover from the spell. She decided to make herself a mug as well. Angel could heat some blood if he wanted to. Buffy walked back into the living room just as Spike walked back in from the porch.
"I s'pose I better be leaving," Spike announced.
Joyce shook her head. "No – there's no need for you to leave. Considering the fact that Glory's minions were after you, it might be better to stay here."
"I can look after myself, Joyce," Spike argued.
"I'd be happier if you stay. Just until this is over. Don't you agree, Buffy?"
Buffy was taken aback at the question. She shrugged. "No skin off my nose."
She would never admit it but she had gotten used to Spike hanging around the house. Just because she was getting used to his presence didn't make him less annoying though.
"I made you some hot cocoa," she said, holding out the mug to him.
He looked strangely at her. "What's this for then?"
"It's not poisoned is it?" He took a deep whiff. "Oh and you put in marshmallows." He looked up at her. "I'm truly touched, Slayer."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Don't get used to it."
Spike smiled. "I think I might stay after all."
Angel coughed loudly trying to get their attention. Buffy looked at him. "What?"
"Where's my mug?"
"You know where the kitchen is. I'm sure you'll find the blood."
With that she turned her back on the two vampires and went to see if there was any luck in the research.
To be continued…