Hanging up the phone, Willow hid the shaking of her hands within the folds of her long, pastel green skirt and plastered a fake, plastic smile on her face.
"Is something wrong?" Giles asked, moving to stand next to her. Xander looked up from the open book on the table in front of him and watched with a small frown on his face.
Willow sighed and dropped the smile, it obviously wasn't fooling anyone. She was relieved Buffy was still out patrolling with Spike and some of the potentials. She wasn't sure how the slayer would react to the news from LA and Buffy had enough problems to deal with right now. "It was Wesley. You remember Wesley?"
"Yes, thank you, Willow. I was aware of that since I was the one who answered the phone," Giles reminded her gently.
Xander's chair scraped back with a small squeal and he quickly crossed the room to sling a supportive arm around her shoulder. "C'mon, Wills, what gives?"
"I don't have all the details and I only know what Wesley told me."
"Which is?" Xander encouraged.
"For some reason they needed Angelus to defeat a demon so they-"
"Oh, no way!" Xander interrupted. "Don't tell me they set that psycho loose again?"
"Oh dear," Giles predictably offered.
Willow winced and shrugged. "I could keep it to myself and not tell you but it still wouldn't change anything and Angel would still be Angelus."
Giles leaned tiredly on the kitchen counter and rubbed at his forehead. Willow wondered if he was getting a headache. "And I suppose Wesley was phoning to ask you to come to LA to re-soul him?"
"Sorta," Willow responded and cringed when there was more rubbing.
"What do you mean 'sorta'? Xander asked.
"They do need me to do the spell but, uh...they don't know where he is...exactly."
"Oh, good lord," Giles said, tiredly.
"That's just great," Xander said, flinging his hands up in the air in disgust and pacing back and forth in front of the counter. "First they decide it would be a good idea to set loose the psycho nut job and then they lose him."
Willow looked between them, chewing on her lower lip. "Xander, that isn't nice," she scolded, "besides, they have a plan."
Xander stopped mid-step. "A plan? Well, that makes everything all better then."
Giles scowled at Xander and held up a hand when the boy opened his mouth. "Xander, please, I think that is quite enough. Yes, it is a serious situation but why don't we let Willow explain before we go..."
"Running around willy nilly and calling people names?" Willow offered.
Giles gave her a grateful, understanding smile. "That will do. Now this plan?"
"Well, all we need to do is find him really and then I can do the spell."
Xander nodded. "So you go there, wave your magic wand and voilà, no more Angelus."
"More or less," Willow agreed.
"And how do you propose to do the spell if you don't know where he is?" Giles queried. "I understand it can be done at some distance but there are limits."
"Wesley thinks Spike will be able to help with that."
"Spike will be able to help with what?" the vampire asked, strolling casually through the back door.
Willow jumped and turned. "Help track down Angelus?"
Spike stopped in his tracks and raised his eyebrows. "Who let that nut job out again? Was it the cheerleader? Bet it was the cheerleader."
Xander pointed at the vampire. "See?! Nut job."
Willow smacked him on the arm and hissed, "Xander."
"Fine," Xander mumbled, rubbing his arm.
"It would probably be a good idea to send some protection along," Giles muttered, ignoring the others. He seemed to make a decision and looked up to meet Willow's eyes."Willow, why don't you gather together the necessary supplies."
"I'll help," Xander volunteered.
Giles waited until they had left the room before turning his attention to Spike. "Can you do it?"
"What? Track Angelus?" Spike paused then nodded decisively. "Yeah. I can do it. You thinking he might go after the witch?
Giles looked surprised but quickly composed himself. "It makes sense. He knows she's capable of the re-souling spell."
"Probably right. Guess I better get ready for a trip to Hell-A then."
Spike made a cursory effort to clean out the DeSoto when he picked it up out of storage. It was a wonder it had still been there, a prize beauty like that. A right gorgeous work of art she was and Spike smiled as he slid behind the wheel, glad Willow had refused to ride on the back of his motorcycle all the way to LA. The witch was waiting for him with a small backpack slung over her shoulder. She opened the door without any hesitation, which he still found somewhat irritating soul or not, and hopped inside.
"Hi," she chirped happily.
Spike raised an eyebrow, turned up the radio and hit the gas. He wondered how fast he could make the trip.
Following the directions Wesley had forwarded to Willow, they arrived at the Hyperion without incident. Spike grabbed Willow's arm when she went to open the door.
"Not yet," he warned. "Let me check it out first."
"But can't you...I dunno, feel if he's around or not?"
"No. Well, yes, but only if he's very close."
"Then how were you expecting to find him?"
"Don't worry. He'll find me."
"Then we could've just stayed in Sunnydale."
"Do you really think that would've been a good idea what with everything that's going on back there? No. It's better this way. Now wait here." Spike stepped out of the car and peered into the darkness. Not seeing anything, he quickly moved around to the other side of the car and opened the door. "Lets go Red."
Spike followed along closely behind the witch, keeping a watch on the darkness around them. They entered the hotel without incident and were greeted by Wesley who had obviously been pacing the floor waiting for them. Introductions were made to Gunn and Fred and they sat down to discuss where Angelus could be hiding.
"The sewers?" Fred suggested, "we always seem to be running into all sorts of demons down there."
Spike shook his head. "Not his style. Angelus likes his creature comforts."
"I agree," Wesley added.
"Excuse me?" They all turned to see a delivery man hovering near the front door. He gestured behind himself. "The door was open."
"It's fine," Wesley said, standing to greet the man. "How can we help you?"
The man started as if surprised. "Oh! I have a delivery for a William."
"That would be me," Spike said rising to join the two at the door and taking the letter from the man's outstretched hand. Spike opened the envelope and pulled out the single sheet of expensive paper. He distantly heard Wesley thanking the man and closing the door.
"Is it from Angelus?" Wesley asked.
Spike nodded and held out the letter.
Gunn smiled. "Seems like this is going to be a lot easier than we thought."
"Don't underestimate him," Spike warned. "You underestimate Angelus and you're dead before you even have a chance to realise your mistake."
Wesley stepped up next to the vampire. "I'm afraid he's right. Angelus is extremely clever and he has years of experience. We need to use every precaution."
Fred leaned forward, her arms outstretched before her on the table. "What does the letter say?"
"He wants to meet me...alone."
Willow placed a hand on Spike's arm. "Is that safe?"
Spike shrugged. "Not sure anything is safe where 'Gelus is concerned but it's probably the best chance we're gonna get."
"He'll probably be well prepared," Wesley warned.
"Yeah, I expect he will. I'll just need to distract him then, won't I? Red, can I have a word?"
Spike strolled casually through the lobby of the London West Hollywood Hotel, ignoring the curious stares of the guests around him. One booted foot tapped nervously and his left hand fingered the glass vial hidden deep in the pocket of his leather duster as the lift took him up to the suite where Angelus was waiting. Spike took a deep, unneeded breath before rapping on the door. He studied the carpet just beyond the toes of his boots while he waited and wondered if he was making a horrible mistake. When the door suddenly swung open, he didn't have to wonder any longer.
Spike looked up with a standard smirk firmly in place. It slid off his face when his eyes met the warm brown ones staring back at him with affection rather than the hostile glare he'd been expecting.
"William," Angelus grinned, standing aside and holding open the door.
"'Gelus," Spike replied cautiously as he stepped into the room. He wanted to believe what he saw in those eyes but he knew the depths of deceit to which Angelus was capable. On the other hand, Spike had always known which incarnation of his sire he was facing. Angelus was able to fool the others but Spike had always, always been able to tell. It was all in the eyes. He could fake Angel's sombre expression but his eyes gave him away every time. What Spike saw in those eyes now...
Angelus reclined comfortably on the couch indicating the empty space beside him. "Come childe. Sit."
Spike automatically took a step before pausing and studying those eyes once more. "Sire?" Angelus smiled gently, showing a patience Spike hadn't seen in almost one hundred years.
"I don't understand."
"I'm not sure what happened either," Angelus confessed. "But I'm here now and I would like to spend some time with my chide. Now come here."
Spike ignored the small part of his brain which was screaming at him to be careful and joined his sire.
"I've missed you childe." Spike closed his eyes as gentle fingers caressed the skin of his face. "Look at me. Let me see you." Spike obeyed and waited, wondering if Angelus would see the truth. "You have a soul."
"Yeah," Spike admitted, shaking his head at the irony and turning away.
"No," Angelus scolded, "don't turn away. From the day you first rose, you had always felt things so strongly. More than any other vampire I had ever met. In fact, I had wondered if you'd kept your soul when you were turned."
Spike laughed softly. "Bit ironic ain't it."
"A bit," Angelus agreed readily. "Come," he said, rising and holding out a hand and leading them to the bedroom.
Spike stared sightlessly up at the gauzy white fabric which draped elegantly over the wooden rods of the bed's canopy. His skin still felt warm from his sire's hands and he wondered if he could do this. He still couldn't believe it was Angelus, sane and here. Now. After all this time, he had his sire back. He sighed, flipped back the covers and rose from the bed. He twirled the empty vial in his fingers while staring at his sire's empty glass and waited for someone at the Hyperion to pick up the phone.
Spike sat on the bottom step and watched while Angel's crew welcomed him back into the fold. Angel had tentatively tried to approach him earlier but it had been awkward and they'd both turned away with a frown. Now Spike was just waiting for Willow to finish saying her goodbyes so they could get back on the road to Sunnydale.
Spike looked up when Willow touched his shoulder. "You ready then?" he asked.
"Yep. I already called Giles and they'll be expecting us."
"'K then," Spike said, rising and following her to the door. He stopped when Angel suddenly appeared in front of him. "Angel," he said neutrally.
"You did the right thing. He...I was killing again. You couldn't let me-"
"I know what I did," Spike interrupted, before clenching his jaw and turning his face away.
Spike's eyes widened as gentle fingers caressed his face once more and a feather light kiss was pressed to his lips.
"I know you don't think so," Angel whispered, "but please believe me when I tell you, I am here childe and I'll always love you."
~ Mòran taing ~