Offers You Can't Refuse

By Sweetprincipale

Late S. 3 AU. Buffy's only way to stay alive and expose a plot by the corrupt Quentin Travers involves staying out of Sunnydale and staying one step ahead while Giles finds a way to save her life and get the evidence to stop the corrupt Head of the Council. But who watches the Slayer's back when she's the prey? If the motivation is right, Spike will do anything to help the woman he loves.

Author's Note: IF YOU LIKED THE WAY THINGS WRAPPED UP in the last chapter, just STOP HERE.

Okay, listen, I wanted to do an epilogue that would show what happens a little bit down the line. This is equally about some of the supporting cast as well as Spuffy . Things tie up, there is happy ending- however, IF YOU LIKED THE WAY THINGS WRAPPED UP in the last chapter, just STOP HERE. I really debated about doing an epilogue, but I thought some people might like to know how things played out with Drusilla, etc. In fact, out of a reviewers' poll, the results were very much in favor of including an epilogue, so here we go.

Author's Second Note: All time frame references have the starting point of the end of Part XXXII. Sweetprincipale, over and out

Dedicated to: Skeezixx, Ginar369, Alexiarrose, Sirius120, Jewel74, The Three March Hares, micmoc, Embers and Flames, Omslagspapper, Rosalea12, ValidescopeWest, Rachel, Alottalove, Cavementftw, Maire Ailbhe, Illusera, hbmckidd, mike13z50, Loverswalk89, Touch the Dark, hbmckidd, LunaML, Suzanne, KittenofDoomage, PeaceHeather, CailinRua, Neinka, cosmiclove, N172Shay, ShyL, LOVEisRealand4eva, Kathryn Merlin, Kerry2202, marty powell, Slayergirl, Beige Flicka, Seapea, Treadingthedark, SushiBar, Kika, Spike's Heart, Spit, nrs, and Tawny.

I have no words that will adequately express how much your reviews mean to me, and since I'm a wordy sort of person, that should let you know just how much they matter. Thank you all.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Epilogue: In Case You Wondered What Happened Next...

(And if you didn't, stop reading!)

A day later...

"Do you mean he's in a coma? What do you mean by 'non-responsive'?" Giles demanded from Fallows, in a voice that made his hungover brain twinge alarmingly.

"Heartbeat, pulse, breathing, blood pressure- normal. But unable to speak or respond to any stimuli. Hrm. He also seems to be missing both eyes."

"Good Lord!"

"There was ash in the car. A vampire must be involved."

"Vampires can't get through the wards there, surely."

"Not ordinarily, no. But perhaps a vampire with some special powers, powerful in magic?"

"One with a grudge." Giles murmured.

"Do you have any ideas?"

"I have a few." Giles considered finding his glasses, but decided against it, lying down once more instead. Travers had made enemies on both sides of the table. Idiot. Thinking he's some all powerful being... you'll soon find someone to challenge that notion. "Sounds as though someone went to an awful lot of trouble to manage this, to be undetected until after the fact. Someone who had nothing to lose." Someone heartbroken. Someone who'd lost everything. A home, a mate, a whole world... "They can love quite powerfully, you know." He had his suspicions, but he didn't bother to name names.

"Vampires? Love? Rupert, are you inebriated?"

"Not at the moment. We did celebrate her return rather a lot."

"As is warranted." Fallows cleared his throat. "I've been made Head of Council. Provisionally, of course."

"Congratulations."

"Thank you. As such- I have the authority to offer you your old position. Watcher to Buffy Summers."

His heart leapt. But recent mistrust caused him to bring it down quickly, speak sharply. "I never resigned my post, Sir."

Fallows conceded that with a smile. "Which makes us all the more hopeful you'll accept. With our full apologies, and full reinstatement. And a pay rise."

"You must be eager." Giles laughed in mild disbelief.

"Travers fired you. Not us. We know what you have, and we've seen how you protected it. If you won't do it for us, do it for her."

"Heavens, Fallows, that's quite a speech. What's gotten into you?"

"Quite a lot of disappointment and the need for a liberal dose of hope. And sherry."

"I'll take the job."

"Your reinstatement papers should be there in a few hours."

"How- why you crafty bastard."

"Mr. Giles, really. A man who's never left his post should have no qualms about being paid for it." Fallows prepared to hang up the phone. "Oh, and if you'd let Mr. Wyndham- Pryce know I'd like to speak to him about accepting a new post, I'd appreciate it. We've been ringing all day, but can't get hold of him."

Giles' lips thinned. Trust was all well and good, but caution was better at this time. "I think he's out of town."


"It's a nice little town."

"I don't like 'nice little towns'." Faith huffed.

Wesley reached into the passenger seat and hauled her to a standing position. Faith clutched him and the car for support on her atrophied legs. "Then we won't stay for long. But you need to eat and we need gas. Furthermore, you need clothes. Those are covered in blood."

"I'm used to it."

"Well, I'm not." They glared, inches apart. He quirked one eyebrow. "Does it mean something horrific if a person wants you to have food and clothing? Do I get beaten up?"

She shoved him back as best she could and attempted to stand on her own two feet. She fell.

Only halfway to the ground, he snagged her up with a startled cry, and a look of such frustrated pain in his eyes. "Fine, if you want to wear that, so be it. If you want to be hungry, fine. I'm not here to force you. I'm here to help you." He let her sink back into the seat with his assistance and turned away muttering, "Some grand, helpful chap I am..."

"Wes, wait."

They both were startled. He spun too quickly, almost comically. She asked me to wait!

I called him Wes. She sighed. "I look kinda gross, huh?"

"A bit. Better than yesterday." He encouraged.

"Are you always going to do that really annoying thing where you act like Mary Poppins and try to see the best in me?" Faith spat crossly.

"No. I'm going to always tell you the truth, and try to see you how you are. You look greatly improved from yesterday, and, if we're embracing honesty, you smell. You need a bath, and a shampoo."

She smiled lopsidedly. "That's better."

"Thank you." He gave her a half-grin himself.

He got in beside her and started the car. "I'll find a bigger city, if that makes you feel more at ease."

What would make her feel more at ease was if he suddenly turned on her and she could hit him. Or if she was strong enough to knock him out and steal the car. To find out if he was going to hurt her, or if she was going to hurt him. "Don't waste your time trying to make things nice." Faith moodily advised, closing her eyes.

"I don't think anything I do with you wastes my time." Wesley stared straight ahead and drove with a grim set to his stubbled jaw.

They'd only gone two blocks when her inborn rebelliousness found a new path. Dammit, Faith- you smell nasty, you're starving, your wardrobe is full of dried blood and stab holes, and you're probably on everyone's hit list, bad guys and good guys. So what if he wants something from you someday? He saved your life and he wants to help you- for now, for whatever reason.

You have to try. If you ever want to be anything, you have to try one more time.

"Could we stop at that hotel?" Faith asked in a flat voice, acting as if she didn't care one way or the other.

"If you like." Wesley replied in the same emotionless tone, and headed for it.


A week later...

"Do you like it?" Spike flung open the door of a second floor walk up apartment on the iffy side of the Hellmouth.

"It looks like that disgusting hotel we stopped at." Buffy wrinkled her nose at the peeling paint and the drab, sparsely furnished room. "Throw on some bad neon and we could be right back there."

They shared a look. Bad hotel. Shabby room. Shivering, anxious people, rough kisses, smooth hands, intense pleasure...

Oh major wow-

Bloody hell-

-I love this place.

"Dead cheap. Comes with the bed an' the telly. Close to everything you'd need. Your mum's, your school, cemeteries..." He persuaded, though he could tell he'd won the battle already.

"It's not close to all those." Buffy tried to think rationally as he shut the door behind her.

"Close for us. Way we move." His pelvis moved to emphasize his words. It rolled. It insinuated and invited. "Wanna make it home, Baby?"

"Needs heavy curtains." Buffy ran her hands longingly over his chest and stopped at the belt.

"Needs a woman's touch." He hinted, his own hands lingering on her hips.

"You know... now that I- think about it." Buffy stumbled over words, lost in a hormone, pheromone high, "I don't think it looks like that place at all. Not in the yucky, scary, depressing way."

"No, 'course not, Pet, it's just run down. Not so bad." He felt warm fingers rubbing over his cool, taut skin, untucking his shirt, prying the belt apart. "We make any place we're together worth bein' in."

She made a high, soft sound of agreement in the back of her throat.

"Maybe we can finish what we started that night?" Spike bit down softly on her neck and hinted.

"Well... we said some until someday."

"Yeah, we did."

"Spike..." She wriggled him back against the bed and his knees collapsed, leaving him sitting heavily on the side as she moved in to straddle him. "It's someday."


A month later...

"I'll only be gone three days. Robson and Ginny assured me you're welcome." Giles shuffled his passport, diplomatic papers, and airplane ticket as Buffy drove Wesley's car (now used by her and Spike) up to the British Airways gate.

"I have to go textbook shopping with Willow and Oz. And I have no idea what to wear to an upscale, swanky British wedding. Plus, my date? Not comfy in a room full of Watchers." Buffy parked and popped the trunk.

"An excellent point. Well, be good. Xander's checking for my mail and messages-"

"And avoiding his parents at all costs again."

"That as well. Be safe, practice your mediation and focusing exercises three times a day and-"

"Listen to my mommy and don't forget to brush? I'm a big girl, Giles. Starting college next week kinda girl. Living off campus, out of the house kinda girl."

"Ah. Yes. Tell Spike I said goodbye."

"I'm sure he would have liked to come, but he and morning car rides just don't mix."

"That's right. See you soon, dear." Giles pecked her cheek as he eased out of the car.

"Giles." Buffy held onto his hand.

"Yes?"

"You're sure you'll have time? You're sure it'll be safe on the plane?" Buffy asked with wide, worried eyes.

Giles patted the small, tightly wrapped box in his breast pocket. "I'm heading there first."

"You shouldn't have any trouble. H-he said the local people think the place is haunted. Kinda is. Someone dead hangs out there every couple years, throws things and sobs for days. And breaks right through the locks like nothing."

"Vampiric strength will do that." Giles said apprehensively.

"Spike says there's a little opening though, right by the cross on the left hand-"

"He told me, Buffy, I know. It's only a few hours to the north, it's hardly out of my way. I'll let you know when it's done."


"Are you done blocking the pay phone? Other people have equally, if not more important, phone calls to make." Cordelia tapped her foot impatiently and waited for the big moose hunched in the phone booth to move. As she tapped, she reconsidered the wisdom of using her phone bill payment money to buy the new "guaranteed to get you cast" heels- which had not lived up to Margo's recommendation. Not yet, anyway. She had to call back the guy who'd noticed her at the party last night. Mr. Rich, Fifty-ish, and Connected. Maybe the shoes would work for her after all.

The "big moose" turned slowly, an incredulous look on his face. "Cordelia?"

"Oh my God! Angel! What are you doing in LA?"

"I uh- live here." He admitted.

"Me, too!"

That made him blink. "You do?"

"Yeah, I-" she began to gesture back a few blocks to a crummy block, and then realized she didn't really want him to know that she'd sunk so low, "live in LA now."

"Great. Uh. Yeah. Here's the phone." He moved carefully out of the setting sun and into the shadows.

"Is your phone broken, too?" Cordelia told a backhanded fib.

"What? Oh, no, I never bothered putting one in. I don't call anyone. I have a friend who brings me any information I need."

"So you were calling him?"

Angel shrugged. "I was worried about him. He hasn't come around in a couple days. He wants me to get out more, but I -"

"You don't want to, so you 'grr' ed at him, and now you're worried you scared off your only friend."

Angel squinted. "Are you psychic?"

"No..." I just do the same thing with people. Real people, not acting people, not people who could get me famous. "I have to make a phone call, sorry. Apparently you have to call this guy right when it gets dark, or he makes other plans for the night, and he's too busy being a big business tycoon during the day."

"Wow. Sounds... busy."

"He is!" Cordelia beamed. "And he noticed me! Well, duh, why wouldn't he?" She preened and did something with her feet, which Angel just responded to with a blank stare. She continued. "He knows all the big directors, he could get me in the door of any agency in the city."

"Great. Good for you." Angel smiled as though it pained him. "It's getting dark." He looked up at the sky, and then eased into the open, no longer fearing the light. "You better call him before it's too late." He waved jerkily and turned with a nod.

Cordelia looked up anxiously at the sky and dialed as fast as she could.

"Russell Winter's residence. How may I direct your call?"

"This is Cordelia Chase. I was at Margo's party last night, and Mr. Winters- I mean, Russell, asked her to ask me to -"

"The new girl. The fresh face." The voice interrupted knowingly. "I know he wanted to see you tonight. Discuss your future."

"My future?" She almost squealed.

"Hold on a moment, I'll see what arrangements he wants to make."

Cordelia listened to some light classical hold music and stared out the glass window of the phone booth. This stretch of street was empty, except for one ambling, dark figure, bundled up in a swishing black trench coat like he was trying to hide, but he was too big to pull it off.

He looked back suddenly. From half a block away, she knew he was staring right at her, into her eyes, and she seemed to be staring right at him. He turned away, but his steps seemed heavier and slower.

Only has one friend in this city. Not me. I have lots of friends. Margo. Well, Margo just wanted pretty girls at her mixer. But- other people in Sunnydale.

I'm not in Sunnydale. Maybe I should have stayed. Buffy came back from the dead, I could come back from an acting career. But only if I have one first...

So I'll get one! Russell. Russell Winters. Russell is going to open up doors to a fabulous life and-

"Mr. Winters asks that you come to his house tonight. By seven. He'd love to have you for dinner."

"He would? Oh my gosh, that's so- hm." Soon. And I have to change. I have to have to be able to get there. I have to- never mind how, I'll make it. "Of course. Seven."

"At seven. Tonight. This is not a standing offer, if you're not here at seven, he'll find another girl. There are dozens of pretty faces in this town, and Margo finds him a new girl every week or so."

A strange prickle ran over her spine. So much for standing out. So much for famous. So much for friend. And hey- who were all these famous girls? If he was making someone famous every week, shouldn't there be some Entertainment Tonight Special, "The Girls of Russell Winters?" The strange prickle was turning to a bad vibe. "Sorry... I think I have a better offer." Cordelia dropped the phone into the cradle and trotted out of the phone box- and smack into his chest.

"Hey!"

"Sorry!" Angel mumbled and backed up guiltily. "I- I thought maybe you needed a ride. To this guy's house." Angel said lamely.

"I thought maybe you might need a ride to go find your friend." Cordelia didn't do anything lamely, she said it in the manner of doing him a huge favor. She held it for all of three seconds, too. "Actually- I don't think I have too much gas in my car. And I don't think I have money for a cab. And these shoes- ha- you don't walk too far in these shoes. You just admire them."

Angel cracked a smile. "My place is two blocks that way." He pointed. "I don't have a lot, but I have- I have coffee?"

"Oooh. If you'd said 'sandwiches', I'd be all over that."

"I think I got a take out menu in the mail?" He offered.

"Start walking." Cordelia linked her arm through his. "You don't bite, right?"

"Um. Not lately."


A year later...

"Transcripts! Second semester grades are out!" Willow charged up the stairs with three envelopes outstretched.

"Better late than never, lemme- ow, Red, give me Buffy's." Spike fended her off as she barreled into the small flat.

"Shouldn't we wait for her?"

"She and Xander won't be done shifts until five, an' I can't wait that long." He stubbed out one of the long line of chain smoked cigarettes and ripped open the envelope. "I told her I'd call her at- three point four! A three point four! What is that, a B? Solid B, init?"

"Yes! The English paper you wrote for her must've-"

"I didn't write that paper! I thought you did."

"I didn't either."

"She did it on her own! Bless her little birdbrain!" Spike roughly hugged the witch in front of him and picked up the phone. "Open yours."

"I did. Four point o. Again."

"Good on ya, Brains." He winked and dialed. "What about Tara's?"

"I'm waiting until she's done at the library. I'll go back to our dorm as soon as Buffy and Xander get off."

"Sunnydale Fitness Center."

Spike turned his attention back to the phone."Put me through to Summers."

"Ms. Summers is just finishing her self-defense class."

"Oh... fine then, put me through to Harris."

"Mr. Harris is on duty at the lifeguard station at the pool."

"I know that, lady, it's one of the few things the blighter does well, holds his beer, backs up a frontal assault, and swims like a ruddy fish."

"And give orgasms. Anya wouldn't want you to leave that off this list." Willow muttered distractedly, scanning Buffy's letter.

"I can't say I know that he does that well." Spike glared and held up a warning finger, the gesture that meant "I don't bite. But I can."

"Sir?"

"Oh bloody hell, never mind. Can you tell her to call home soon's she can?"

"I'll put a note on her staff locker."

"Ta." Spike hung up and turned to the girl bouncing excitedly on the second hand sofa, scanning every line and grade like reading the secrets of the universe. "Three. Point. Effin' four." He crowed.

"That means Joyce has to admit living here instead of on campus doesn't screw up her grades."

"She hasn't failed a single course."

"That's better than high school." Willow nodded. "We should celebrate."

"Yes, we soddin' should. I thought tacklin' the soldier gimps and Mr. Frankenpants the same week as finals would've dropped her right down. Bloody hell. That's a relief. Think this calls for the real red stuff."

"And on that note, I'm leaving." Willow rose hastily.

"Oh, siddown." He went to the kitchenette and made do with warmed up beef blood for the moment. "Only human blood I get these days is from one very willin' donor. An' I mean very."

"Hey! Rules!" Willow covered her ears and glared balefully. "We don't talk about the- the weird stuff you guys do. Abnormal stuff freaks me out."

Spike sipped his drink slowly and said nothing. "An' what you and Tara do after you study?"

Willow turned bright red.

"Thought so." He went off to perch by the phone, chuckling cockily.

I still wish she'd stake him sometimes. Just a little bit. Willow shook her head. But it's only been a year. Maybe by next year I'll just hope he gets paper cuts. Sure. Things take time.


"Time doesn't have wings. It doesn't fly. It rots and drags and grinds you under its wheels. Maybe time is a carriage. Or maybe time is a hearse." Drusilla whispered in a melodious, musing voice, clutching her dolly, rocking and shaking.

"M-Miss, I don't know what you want, but- but if I could just get Father Duncan for you, I'm sure-" The young woman who came to clean the church once a week was shaking as well, stalling for time, trying to figure out a way to break free from this lunatic.

"Why, Miss Edith. Your voice has changed. And how big you've grown! Have you been eating all the other little children? Naughty, naughty." Drusilla's face changed, and the woman screamed. "You didn't share... Oh, let me have seconds. Just like Daddy and Grandmum used to play at." Drusilla asked in a drifting, playful voice, acting as if she couldn't hear the screams, eyes a glinting gold as they changed from soft and confused to suddenly hard and predatory. "Do. Do give me seconds..."

The scream died abruptly.


Drusilla looked down when she was full, face changing, demon sleeping.

A beautiful, dark haired girl, late teens or early twenties, lay pale and unmoving on the stone flagged floor of the church.

"Sophie?" Drusilla quavered, dropping to her knees. "Sophie!" Her sister. Her sweet, innocent sister. Dead. This church- oh he came and he tortured and he murdered and she saw... she saw such horrors. All done here.

And Sophie. Sophie and Annie and Mummy. Done elsewhere. So she'd come here. The Sisters of Mercy. Saints had suffered, and with her pure heart, and her visions, the hand of God upon her, she would be a saint...

She turned the body gently. Dead, glassy eyes, deep red gouges in her neck.

He turned me into a devil.

Oh God... Oh Father in heaven, have mercy upon me a sinner... Drusilla made the sign of the cross, as her eyes overflowed, and the demon snarled and silenced her. Her fingertips burned and she heard her Daddy's voice. Not her Father. Not her Heavenly Father. Her Dear Daddy, with a rasping, malicious Irish brogue.

"Heaven won't take you now. You'll roast in hell when we're done with you. But we won't be done for a long time yet."

And that was when they'd started on her. Defiling her. Making sure she knew just how impure and unholy she was and now would always be- once they turned her.

Drusilla ran blindly out of the church. One hundred and forty years to the day had passed, and yet it seemed like no time at all.

"Mummy! Father! Sophie, Annie, please. Please wake up. I'm all alone now and I don't like the dark anymore." She stumbled through graves and uneven ground, running to a small stone crypt, until she could press her cheek to the cold doors.

"You're not dead. You can't be. I'm- I'm not dead, see?" She ran her hands over the doors longingly. "I touch. I sing. I cry. Not really dead. Not really gone. Not really alone."

No answer.

She wept in the dark night, and tore the doors of the mausoleum open, clawing her way inside, entreating the pretty statues who stood over eight graves. Eight graves all filled within a few days of each other, almost a century and half ago.

Still their smiles and their screams were fresh in her mind, going in turns. Long, tormenting turns, like a master torturer applying the rack. Angelus would have been thrilled. He'd never thought his handiwork would be preserved for this long.

"I'm not dead. I'm dead, but I'm alive, you can be too. Please wake up. Please... please..." Dru wrapped herself around the statue of the angel standing silent above her mother's grave. "Don't leave me all alone. You don't know what they'll do to me."

She looked into gray, marble eyes- then gray marble wings. "Angel. Angel!" Her hand streaked out and toppled the statue with a shriek, the head shattering.

Drusilla seemed to come down to earth with a thud. She was by no means rational, but suddenly she saw one thing clearly. Her mother's angel. Destroyed. Shattered. "What've I done? What am I doing?" Tears reemerged. "Doing. Doing again and again and again!" She'd relived this pain so often.

Drusilla raked her long sharp nails across her face, making bloody streaks that followed her tear trails, that burned when the salt water hit them. It didn't hurt enough. She must be punished for bringing so much pain on them, for ending their lives. She knew it was her fault. Angelus had wanted her. Wanted her to suffer. So he used them to break her and then didn't let her die. She deserved to die, but she could not, and so she must hurt. She grabbed the cross affixed to the inside of the door and yanked and pulled until it came free in her hands, burning her palms, and she felt all the better for it.

A package skittered out and fell at her feet, momentarily making her check her sobs. She could glimpse the moonlight outside. This had come from out there. "What little fairy knows my hiding place?" She whispered, dropping the cross and taking the package up with blistering fingers.

She undid the wrapping with trembling hands and laughing, sobbing hiccups, the sounds and shapes of madness.

Hello Princess,

I've found a little present for you, Sweetheart. Don't know if you'll want it, don't know if you'll need it, but take it as a gift from your William. It belongs to you now.

Dru stopped reading as she heard an unfamiliar voice, unfamiliar words whispering on the wind. Not one of her normal "voices". This one had a message. This one had knowledge. She pushed the note aside and lifted out the shining gem set in gold.

"Such a pretty gift for Princess... I wonder what it does?" She mused aloud, then went back to reading.


Two years later...

"This is hardly a night's light readin', Rupes." Spike took a stack of four thick volumes from Giles' hands.

"Pale has it. One huge, hernia inducing book at a time. Who's with me?" Xander raised his hand.

"Me!" Buffy's hand shot up.

"Me, too!" Anya said eagerly. "Not that I really object to the amount of reading, I just want to agree with Xander as much as possible."

"Thanks, Baby." Xander kissed his girlfriend warmly.

"I'm sorry to cut into your weekends, but this is urgent. We know that we narrowly escaped the foretold coming of a hell god, and the subsequent rise to power-"

"Let's hear it for insanity." Buffy gave herself and Spike a mock cheer.

"Not insane. Pushed to it." Spike shrugged. Slaughtered a few dozen demons who were bringing some ancient power, got a few tip offs from monks through the kind people at Watchers Inc., as he liked to call them. Only a fully charged up Slayer- and a vampire mate high on her blood and desperate not to lose his true love, would have been able to face down the small army that was going to bring forth the being. Well, those two backed by a solid team of equally insane people. "Not like we did it ourselves. Seem to remember one powerful triad keeping bunches of baddies locked in place while we fought off the rest." Willow, Tara, and Anya blushed.

"Not to mention the munitions experts- who are going to get caught!- who set the explosion to block their escape."

"Two buildings in two years. No one'll ever connect it. Right, G- Man?" Xander laughed carelessly, and he and Spike clinked beers.

"Right. No! Wrong. Honestly, if we could please focus on the important fact that there are rituals capable of bringing malevolent gods to this realm! The- the cosmic and spiritual interference! The- the-" Giles was almost puce and sputtering.

"Oh my gosh. Giles. We'll read two books each. Calm down, okay?" Willow soothed.

"I'll make tea." Tara took several books and laid them down as she rushed to the kitchen.

"He's always like this when Mom is out of town on a buying trip." Buffy laid her head against Spike's shoulder.

"I think he suffers from engagement ring envy." Anya glittered hers in the light.

"Totally." Buffy held hers up as well.

"Tara, I'm going to make the tea. Go sit back down and listen to mindless pseudo-psychology."

"Oh, no, Giles, I've got it."

"Well... erm hrm. I thought I might just give Joyce a call at her hotel before we become entangled in research."

A chorus of knowing "ahhhhs" followed his words. "Stop it, or I'll make all of you work on Latin again." He hustled out of earshot.

"That's only a threat to you and me." Xander muttered to the blonde across from him.

"Totally ties into the engagement envy." Buffy high fived him.

"Did you decide where yet? Is it going to be a tropical beach at sunset?" Willow recalled some of Buffy's old fantasies regarding another light-sensitive sweetheart.

"Or a pretty little chapel during a full moon?" Anya had become one of Spike's confidants.

"That was an old idea." Buffy gazed into her partner's eyes and he smiled back, at ease, at home. Still pretty bad ass, and never entirely good- but it grew on you.

"Don't think it'll happen for awhile anyway." Spike sprawled back like time didn't matter. It didn't, too much, as long as they were still together.

"We can't do a double wedding. That's my day. I'm the bride, you're the bridesmaid." Anya said flatly. Everyone laughed and Xander rolled his eyes.

"I was thinking about this lake in the Oregon mountains. Night time obviously. I think we might possibly be wanted for destruction of property but..."

"Oregon?" Xander cried. Fifteen hours in the car with Spike...

"Mountains?" Willow asked hesitantly. Mountains and lake as in that hideout they had? As in outdoorsy? We're not outdoorsy!

"Wanted?" As in criminals? Oh dear. Tara looked nervously at Willow.

"Slayer, don't tease them. Their eyes'll pop out. Even though eyeballs are nummy treats, sort of like jellied sweets- it hurts like a bitch."

An explosive cry of "EWWW!" followed his words.

"What's going on in there?" Giles demanded.

"Wedding planning!"

"Heavens." He turned back to the phone. "I'm sorry, Joyce. The children are acting up. I miss having another sane, rational adult about the place. Couldn't you come home tomorrow?"

Back in the living room, once the screaming had died down and the pillows had stopped being thrown, Buffy held up her hands. "What about a moon light ceremony on this beach? Right in town?" She turned to Spike. Not because of anything we used to do with anyone else, not because we haven't let go of old dreams. Just because it'd be beautiful, and it'd be with you.

He could tell all that. Easily these days, after so much time together. "Think that sounds just right, Pet. Perfect."


Two and half years later...

"I think he was right after all. Darling William. Much wiser than any of us. They should have killed you. I should have cheered when she stuck a sword right through your heart and sent you to hell. you certainly sent enough others there, including me. An endless hell on earth."

Angel spun. The trail had led to this abandoned warehouse, but how had whatever he'd been trailing suddenly started trailing him? Even with his eyesight, he couldn't make out the figure. The voice wasn't right either. But the scent... the words... "Dru?"

"Drusilla indeed." A figure in sweeping black velvet emerged and greeted him.

The singsong quality was gone. Something- something he couldn't visibly identify- was gone, missing. Not the same girl.

"Drusilla, yes. But not the girl you made." She didn't smile.

Angel approached her slowly. "I'm not following."

"Oh, I still have visions. I can see myself eating your heart with a shrimp fork, but I don't think that makes me mad. I'm not mad anymore, Angel. Now I'm simply angry."

"Dru, you've been leaving bodies all over this town. This is my town, and I protect it. I usually let you leave, and just hope you'll go, but I can't do that anymore, even if I- even if I made you what you are." He admitted. "People I love are in this town and I can't let you do anything to them."

"No? I can't do what you did to me? Making the little rats nibble inside my head for years and years? While you watched me, laughing at me?" Tears overflowed down a cold profile, so painfully set that she might have been carved of pure alabaster. "I don't do that, Angelus. I kill if I'm hungry. Or if there's something that needs to be exterminated."

A long, very thin stake appeared from the folds of her raven velvet gown, and Angel suddenly stopped worrying about anyone but himself for a minute. Dru hurt him sometimes, but had never used the word "exterminate". That sounded cold and calculated. Not at all a game.

She wouldn't kill him. The only times she'd ever truly tried had been with Spike's urging, but she knew her place. He'd sired her. No, he'd sired her and made her, painted her with colors of pain and fear until she was a masterpiece that reflected his abilities.

Pride and confidence gave way to penitence. She was the worst thing I've ever done, and all I can say is ...

"I'm sorry." He placated. "Dru you need to get out of here, and you need to know that I'm sorry."

"You killed my father- and made me give you the name." Her voice shook. The starry eyes he was used to were hard and burning. She advanced.

"I'm sorry, Dru, I'm not the same person I was back then." He backed away, but there was really no where to go unless he could reach the glass windowed roof. "I hate what he did. I think about it every day, and I know what he did to you was the worst. I hate Angelus as much as you do, and I hate what I was when I was evil."

"Oh, you're still Angelus, Angel. You're who you were, you'll never escape it- and I'm still evil. Now I'm just not my usual sunny little self with it." Drusilla smiled, every inch the wicked black goddess Spike had always claimed her to be. She closed the distance between them. "But I'm still very, very evil..."


"You'd better make your move fast. Try not to hit her in the heart if you can help it, not until we know what's going on."

"I'm good at that." Faith perched on one of heavy iron mullions and took aim. "Did this same thing-" she leveled the crossbow on her knee, "just aiming at the other vampire last time..." She pulled the string tight and one eye closed as she zeroed in. "Okay, push it open for me, Babe."

"Of course, Dear." Wesley pushed the heavy window catch open and it dropped down with a creak that made both Drusilla and Angel start.

"Dammit!" Faith moved the bow lower with Slayer speed and the arrow whizzed down sharply.

Drusilla made a panther-like hiss as the arrow punched cleanly through her lower abdomen. With a screech she broke it off, leaving half the shaft inside her, letting blood stream down, darkening her already dark dress.

"Dru!" He should've killed her anyway, but he wouldn't have done it like this. Not now. It would have been quick and clean, not painful and prolonged. He'd prolonged her pain enough already.

"Don't touch me, Daddy Dear." She spat. "I've had enough of your hands all over me."

Angel stepped back, stung, conscience and soul smarting, more raw than any external wound.

"Yo, Angel! You gonna take things from here, or do you want us to drop in?" Faith shouted into the cavernous building.

This night is just getting weirder by the second. "Faith? Is that you? Who's with you?" Angel stopped leaning towards his fallen creation, and peered up at the ceiling.

"Wesley."

"Wesley? What the hell are you two doing here?" Or together. Here, together. Did the world turn inside out and I missed it? Dru's sane and serious, and Mr. By the Book and the Black Sheep are working together?

"It's Friday night. Date night. Track a demon serial killer and then Baskin Robbins."

"No way, you and Wesley are- argh!" Angel felt a sharp push high up his thigh as Drusilla ran him through with the jagged end of the broken arrow.

"I suppose you'd better go down." Wesley sighed and hooked a cable to her belt. "Be careful."

"Aww. Do I hafta?" She didn't wait for an answer, just smiled saucily and dove.

Wesley stifled a curse. "I'm not going to buy you a second scoop if you die!"

"That's fair!"

Dru looked at the Slayer running towards her and the angry wounded vampire over her.

"Enjoy your memories, Angelus. They're more painful than death." She scooted away and with a final reserve of strength, ran from the building, leaving a trail of crimson behind her.


"You okay?" Faith helped Angel to lean against the wall as his wounded leg suddenly gave.

"I wouldn't have been if she'd aimed just an inch or two over." Angel clutched his zipper area with a wince.

Faith raised an eyebrow. "Damn, she almost neutered you."

"Cordy would've been pissed."

"Where'd she go? Faith? Oh no..." Wesley unhooked his own belt as is feet touched down and looked at the puddles of blood and the trail spreading from it. "You stay with him, I'll go after her."

"Wes, I'll get her, you take him." Faith lost all interest in Angel, turning to face Wesley.

"He's harmless, she's not."

"I'm the Slayer, you're the Watcher."

"Not that again. You stay with him!"

"Nice to feel wanted guys." Angel interjected between the feuding pair. "Long time no see. In town long?"

"A week or so. We were heading up the coast, but we heard about the trouble. Since we were only a few hours away..." He shrugged.

"We move around." Faith looped her arm casually around the sinewy, leather clad form behind her.

"Free lance." Wesley laid his hand on hers and as soon as she relaxed marginally against him- disengaged the crossbow neatly from her fingers. "Ha. Now you stay with him and let me get her." He darted off. "You can pick the movie!"

"I'm not buying the popcorn if you die!"

"That's fair!"

Faith cursed and stared after him as he ran, worry apparent in her eyes.

Angel filled the silence. "So... you two are dating?"

"Sorta." Faith shrugged casually. "I heard you say 'Cordy'. You don't mean prom queen bitch girl do you?"

"Yeah, that's the one." Angel smiled momentarily.

"And she likes your zipper stock to be intact?" Faith raised her eyebrows and pursed her dark, full lips.

"Sorta. Not really. Kinda." Angel looked uncomfortable. "It's a long story."

Faith nodded with the same sort of discomfort. "So's ours."

"I'm not really good at talking to people."

"Me either."

"Hm. Could you cut this out of me?"

"Okay, but then I gotta bail, find my guy. He's pretty tough, but she's a psycho."

"He handles you okay." Angel winced as she plunged a knife into his thigh with unnecessary force.

"Don't insult the crazies. Especially ones who are saving your pale, sorry ass."

He grunted. "Sorry."

"I'll let it slide this time." She pulled the gore covered wood from him easily and wiped her hands on his shirt. "Nice seeing you."

"Yeah." He wincingly stood up and limped a few steps to test the leg. "Maybe I'll see you in another couple years."

"Sounds good."


Drusilla knew she couldn't die of blood loss. But the world did seem to shine and shimmer in a way that she remembered came with madness. "But I'm better."

"But you still have your visions." A soft voice reminded her. "You were never mad because of them. You were blessed with them, whatever anyone says, I know that's true."

Drusilla blinked up dreamily from the spot where she was resting. "Sophie?"

"Hello, 'Silla."

All the years and all the visions, and her sister had never spoken to her directly, and nothing had shone with such clarity.

"We couldn't," Sophie seemed able to read her sister's mind, "too much noise, too much darkness and pain and fear... We tried so often. I think we may have made you worse." The angelic voice quivered mournfully. "But you can hear me now, sweet 'Silla?"

"I can, but I don't want to go mad again." Drusilla informed her quietly.

"You aren't. Well, not yet. Perhaps you will. You've been so strong. But borne so much."

"And the pain of your memories is worse than death." Drusilla murmured hazily, echoing her words to Angel. With a slick twist of her razor like nail she dug her finger in deep enough to touch the remainder of the arrow in her side, and pulled it free with a banshee's scream.

She rested again, and opened her eyes to see if the ethereal form had vanished. She had not, and in addition a second glowing form had joined her, one she assumed was her other sister. "I can't be with you, Darlings. Even if I die again." Her voice wobbled and tears flowed. "He made me... he made me unclean. He's got me set to go to hell, to be tortured again, and again, and I shall go mad. I dread that so, now that I'm finally able to hear myself think. After a hundred years or so, you have no idea what a relief that is." A miserable peace it was, a hard, vengeful peace, but oh sometimes it was so sweet, to see the world through sane eyes for the first time in over a century.

Sophie and Annie exchanged a glance. "But your soul is in store." The second figure said.

"You're not responsible for the crimes performed on you, or the heinous acts you witnessed."

"Oh, my dears." She murmured mournfully. "You don't know what I've been doing while you were with the angels. And you must never know, because I still love you. Whatever I am."

Another lingering glance. "If part of you loves us... if we know where your soul is... there may be a way to bring them both together, and bring you home to us. There are limbos and emptinesses. Vastnesses. We could find a place."

"I am going mad. My dear sisters should know nothing of such things." Drusilla licked the blood from her fingers, and reckoned she saw the misty shapes wincing. "I'm not pure of heart."

"We love you. We still love you, whatever you are." Sophie bent and Drusilla felt something cool caress her cheek, like a kiss of rain. "There is something that can take your essence, and bring it to us. We hear it comes to those lost souls who have no other passage. It moves in the underworld, and it reunites those lost with their true loves. It may not work. But we do truly love you, 'Silla."

"I love you, too, my beautiful ones." Drusilla reached out her hand, which slid sleekly through nothing. They were gone. "Alone again."

"Not quite." Wesley slid from the shadows, crossbow reloaded and aimed heart-high this time. "Angel and Spike have always provided protection for you, Drusilla, by which I mean in the last few years we've left you alone because you mean so much to them. Well, to Spike." That and you've never crossed our paths.

"My sweet William. He made me better. Only I feel horrible in whole new ways." She chuckled, a sound like tinkling crystal that thoroughly unnerved anyone who heard it.

"He loved you very much, and he has only ever wanted you well." Wesley struggled to keep his composure. "But I love someone too, and so does he, and you keep murdering people. One day you'll strike too close to home. We can't look the other way anymore." We never should have looked the other way in the first place, only- only love seems to have some redemption, even over the most demonic.

Another chuckle, weaker this time, "Then kill Angelus, he made me what I am."

"If I see Angelus again, I will gladly kill him." Wesley said calmly.

"You can't change what you are, damned you will be, when you're one of us." She ridged her graceful brow and crooked her finger. "He condemned me, and I condemned my William, and you cannot change it."

"A few years ago, I'd have agreed with you. Then I watched Spike change and be whatever the hell he wanted. I've seen others so it as well." He looked at her, but seemed to be seeing something else entirely. "Not to sound trite, but love conquers all."

She paused, the blood wet stake shifting from her dress to her palm almost unbeknownst to her. "Even if I'm so very evil? Even without a soul?"

"Apparently." Wesley leveled the bow. "But I'm afraid I haven't got time to find out if you decide to rehabilitate. I'm sorry, Drusilla."

She held up her hand, red tipped wood in it. "There are worse things than death."

She lunged. Wesley shouted hoarsely, and the wooden bullet went wide, high up into her right shoulder. "I should know. I've already lived through them." Teeth snapped and clicked inches from his throat.

"Back off, bitch!" The thudding of boots which were speeding so fast that they sounded like the beating of bird wings heralded Faith's arrival.

"Oooh, love conquers all does it?" Drusilla whispered, poised over him and looked into his eyes.

"I know death does not conquer love." He whispered back, cold and pale, waiting for the plunge, and wishing Faith was just a little faster or a little slower, either way, so she wouldn't see another Watcher die. I can't let her see that... He would fight, he would pick just the right moment, and he would follow Faith's lead. They'd followed each other down many a dark path, and always found light at the end.

Death does not conquer love. There are worse things than death. This time she would choose the better option, even as frightening as that final unknown option seemed. "You're a smart little man. Be good to your blackbird with her broken wings."

Wesley gasped as she moved like lightening, sitting up. He heard a harsh scream and the whistle of wood in the air.

Faith's scream emptied her lungs as she emptied her arrow. She watched Drusilla's hands plunge- in, not down, and dust descended. The stake she'd shot through the air made a hole in the falling ashes.

"What the fuck just happened?" Faith demanded, sinking to her knees as Wesley sat up, brushing himself off.

"I think she wanted to go more than she wanted anything else- and she just realized it." He rubbed the back of the head. "She looks so small, but she's very forceful."

"You have a thing for forceful brunettes." Faith tried to joke and helped him up, shaking slightly, not looking at him.

"Only one forceful brunette." He assured her, and squeezed her hands to make them steady. "Well. Sorted. Perhaps we ought to stop for the night? We can have ice cream anytime." He suggested, feeling her damp fingers clasping his to the point of pain.

"I- uh- I just want to go home." Faith stammered under the guise of clearing her throat.

Which was an odd thing to say, at least to the casual observer, because they never stayed in one place for too long, and technically, home was an as yet unspecified hotel, or at the most a month to month lease.

He understood however. "Of course. A good night's sleep after so much excitement."

Black leather and jeans fell into matched stride, a cross between a swagger and being weary. "Sleep? Who said anything about sleep?"


"Wakey, wakey..."

Spike snorted in his sleep and squinted. Bright, bright light. "Slayer, close the bloody curtains before you leave in the mornings..."

"Sweet William. It's still dark. Where you are."

Spike's eyes shot open. "Dru!" Where's Buffy. Bloody hell, where is she? "Dru!" This time the tone was angrier, holding a note of panic.

"She's asleep beside you."

"I'm not asleep, you woke me up! How'd you get in our flat?" He was rising, scanning for her.

"Shh. I'm only passing through your dreams." She smiled and stroked his face with soft, white fingertips that glowed.

"Dru, you're warm."

"It's cozy here. It's not heaven. But it's home."

Spike tried to peer around her, but all he could see was rippling light and bending rays. "Where are you, Pet?"

"I'm happy. And at peace."

"Honest?" His heart did a little tap dance, sure signs of this being only a dream.

Until she bent down and kissed his forehead, and he would swear it was real. "Honest. Thank you for the gift. I know you have the same. With your Sunshine."

"Happy and at peace, Dru. With all my heart." His senses tried to leave the haven he was in, searching for the cause of his new found joy and contentment. He could feel things shifting, feel the light fading, darkness returning. He was no longer touched by warm fingers or warm lips, but wrapped entirely in soft heat. Slayer against me. Slayer's safe. All's right with the world. Really right, now.

A final whisper sent him back into the waking world. "Thank you."

"Always."

"Spike... you okay?" Buffy sat up and pushed the hair out of her eyes.

"Buffy." He smiled and blinked, feeling her slender form rubbing against his, hand on his chest.

"You were mumbling and twitching." Buffy giggled and snuggled deeper up against him. "It's Saturday, we don't have to get up yet."

"No. No, we don't. It's a glorious day to have a lie in, right here with you." He let out a deep sigh and a deeper laugh as he suddenly rolled on top of her.

"Ooh, morning delight." Buffy giggled and embraced him. "You look happy."

He'd tell her later. Right now he was going to be thankful for what he had, and bask in that "Sunshine". "What's not to be happy about? Happy, and at peace."