By the time Spike came downstairs, Buffy and Willow were staring at the remains of two more transmitters. Willow was poking through the pieces on the counter and muttering to herself.
“I wish you’d just brought them in and let me disable them,” she said, glancing up at Buffy. “That way, I might have had a shot at tracing them back to wherever they’re hiding.”
“I don’t like the idea of them listening to us,” Buffy said, her lip coming out in a stubborn pout. “It’s creepy!”
“I wonder where else they might have put them?”
“Huh! I didn’t think about that.” Buffy paused to smile at Spike as he followed his words into the room. “Makes sense though.”
“The Magic Box, for one,” Willow said. “They probably know that’s where we have all our meetings.”
Buffy glanced up at Spike. “I guess there might be one near your crypt... or even in it, if they know about your chip.”
“Whole bloody world knows about the chip,” he said with a shrug. “Don’t think there’s a human left in Sunnydale who respects me anymore.”
Willow gave Spike a speculative look. “What was it you said you were doing in Smithfield? Being a bouncer? How did you do that with the chip?”
Buffy and Willow both stared at him; Buffy’s face paled when he didn’t answer right away.
“Spike?” Her concern and horror was too much for him and he went to his knees in front of her, ignoring Willow’s equally frightened face.
“I was going to tell you, love. Just workin’ my way up to it, is all.”
“The... the chip?”
“Dunno. It’s either not there, or not working. Found out by accident one night when some idiot tried to mug me.” His intent eyes never left hers as he said, “It doesn’t matter, Buffy. It hasn’t been that chip keeping me on the straight and narrow for a long time now. All it means is I’m not a pushover for anything evil and human. Can take care of my family the way I want to.”
“You don’t have your chip...” Her voice trembled as she absorbed the information.
“Might have been the portal,” Willow said, trying to be helpful and to diffuse what looked like it might be becoming a situation. “The Spike that was in the other place had no chip, so it didn’t make the trip with you.”
“No chip... no soul....” Buffy was staring straight ahead, heedless of the Willow’s attempt to change the subject.
Spike stood up and put his hands on either side of her face. “Don’t need the chip. Don’t need a soul. I’ve got a conscience, and two bloody good reasons to listen to it. I haven’t had a functioning chip since the week we got back. Haven’t touched anything but pig in all that time, and have no plans to start. Either you trust me or you don’t, Buffy.”
“I... I...” She watched the light go out of his eyes as she fumbled for something to say, and his hands left her cheeks. He straightened up and blew out an explosive breath.
“Right, then. I’ll just get you through the next couple of months and then I’ll be out of your hair. I’ll just kip down here on the couch till then.”
“No....” Her voice was barely a whisper.
“You don’t trust me. Think I got it, Slayer.”
“No!” she repeated, more loudly. “No, you don’t get it. I don’t want you ‘out of my hair’. I don’t want you sleeping on the couch. And I don’t want to have to explain to our child that her father left us as soon as she was born.”
“His father,” he corrected automatically, his expression softening. “As soon as he was born.”
“You’ll see. The sonogram is in two days. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be happy to find out she’s a little girl.” She put her hands on her hips, giving him a serious glare.
“Uh guys, does this not so serious fighting mean that the serious fight is over?”
They turned to stare at her. “Busy being all avoidy girl here, Willow. Can I have a little cooperation?”
“Sure. I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking...” Willow gave Spike a sympathetic smile and turned to leave the room. “I’m going to look into the manufacturers of the parts in these things and see if I can find out who they were shipped to... and where.”
There was a short silence following Willow’s departure, during which neither of them looked at the other. Eventually Buffy slumped down onto a stool and put her head in her hands.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tried to. You were too busy pretending I was something you found on the bottom of your shoe to give me the time of day – never mind enough time to talk to you about not having the chip.” Spike’s voice was soft and more sad than accusatory, but Buffy flinched anyway. “B’sides, it gave me time to explore my options a bit more. To find out if I could live on pig blood while I was surrounded by the good stuff. If I could control the demon in the middle of a fight – things like that.”
“And could you?” She flinched again when he growled. “I’m sorry. You already said you haven’t had any—“ She raised her eyes to his. “I do trust you, Spike. It’s just... hard for me, you know? Here you are, no soul and now no chip, and you aren’t trying to kill anybody, and you still love me, and....” Her voice trailed off as she thought about the implications.
“And you’re wondering why your precious Angel couldn’t do that.” His voice was flat and expressionless, but there was no hiding the pain in his eyes. Buffy shocked them both by getting to her feet and putting her arms around him.
“I was. And I’m sorry. I know you’re nothing like him. You never have been, even when you were trying to kill me, you weren’t like him. It’s like Xander said the other night, if I have to have a baby with a vampire, he’s really glad it’s you and not Angel.” She tightened her arms around him, whispering into his chest, “And so am I. I wouldn’t want this baby to have anybody else for a father. Human or vampire.”
Spike gave a choked sigh and dropped his face onto her head. They stood together for a long moment, then gradually straightened and smiled at each other.
“Not gonna be easy, is it, love?”
She shook her head. “No. But we already knew that. But hey, it’s us. We know how to do things the hard way, don’t we?”
He snorted. “Don’t know about you, but think I’ve made a career of it.”
Buffy laughed softly and sat back down on the stool. “What were we talking about when we tried to implode again?”
“Jus’ trying to figure out where else those wankers may have put their little spy devices. First order of business is going to be to call demon-girl and tell her to check the magic shop. Tell her I’ll come by later and do some sniffing around. And I guess I’d better check the crypt, just in case they were stupid enough to think they could get in and out of it without me smelling or hearing ‘em.”
“Won’t that have to wait till tonight?” Buffy was already moving toward the phone.
“No. Just give me an old blanket and make sure that manhole cover is still loose. I’ll be fine. I’ll check my crypt, then use the tunnels and sewers to get into the basement of the Magic Box. I’ll meet you there.”
Anya’s reaction to the idea that the Magic Box might be under surveillance was predictably outraged.
“If I wasn’t afraid you might try to kill her, I’d call up one of my friends and curse those human jerks until their parts fell off.”
“Vengeance demons have friends? And you’re still friends with one of them? Now that you’re human?” Buffy stared at Anya, trying to reconcile what she’d been taught about the demon world with what she continued to learn from Anya and Spike.
“Of course we’re still friends. We’ve known each other for over two hundred years. Would you stop being friends with Willow and Xander if they became vampires?”
“Uh... yeah? Don’t you remember the world you created when Cordy wished I’d never come here?”
Anya shrugged. “Not really. She just wished you’d never come here, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t paying much attention to what that Sunnydale was like, or who was in it. Not until Giles broke my amulet....” She paused to mourn her lost powers, then sighed. “I think you died, didn’t you?”
“I did. And I would have staked vamp Xander and vamp Willow in a heartbeat if the Master hadn’t killed me again.” Buffy growled. “Sometimes I almost wish—” She clapped a hand over her mouth. “Never mind. I don’t wish for anything. No wishes here, nope, none, nada....”
“You were about to say you wished he was still around so you could kill him again, weren’t you?” Anya smiled at Buffy as if it was the most natural thing in the world for her to wish someone back to life so that she could kill him again. “But you probably shouldn’t do that until after you’ve had the baby.”
“Probably shouldn’t do what?” Spike’s voice preceded him into the room as he emerged from the basement. “Kill who again?”
“The Master,” Buffy mumbled. “But I didn’t wish for it. I was just thinking about how much I hate him.”
Spike put an arm around her and squeezed. “Old Batface met his match in you, love. Doubt he’d come back for more, even if he could.”
Buffy smiled and leaned against him for a second before asking, “So, what did you find?”
“Found where one of them had been prowling around the outside, but no trace of anything human inside – ‘cept for you, of course. What about here?”
“We just started looking. There’s so much stuff here... lots of nooks and crannies to hide things in.”
Spike nodded and started near the door, his nostrils flaring as he picked up the different scents. He shook his head. “This place has so many humans in and out all the time, it’s going to be hard to—hold on, I’ve got an idea.” He cast an eye to the rapidly dwindling sunlight. “Camera or what have you would probably have some sort of light on it, wouldn’t it? Or a motor that makes noise?”
He sat down at the table and put his feet up. “I’m just going to wait till it gets dark, then we’ll turn out all the lights and look and listen.”
Buffy went up the ladder to where Giles’s books were stored and began to run her eyes and hands over the shelves. When she found the transmitter, she waved her hand at Spike and Anya, making a shushing gesture to them and holding up the small device. She tossed it down to Spike, who caught it and set it on the table where Anya glared at it as if she could cause it to combust with her eyes.
Before she came down, Buffy continued her search of the shelves, not returning to the main level until she was sure there wasn’t something else hidden among the old books. Spike put his hand over the transmitter and whispered, “There were at least three of them at the house. We need to keep looking.” Anya turned the lights off and they all froze, moving only their eyes as they searched the dark for anything unusual, and listened for any unexplained sounds.
It was Spike’s heightened hearing that led to the next discovery, a small video camera working quietly away in the opening of a seashell on a cluttered shelf behind the cash register. He plucked it out and set it beside the transmitter, pointing the camera lens down at the table surface. Anya knelt on the floor and peered under the table and chairs, and under the stool near the register. With an “aha!” she pulled another transmitter from under the seat of her stool and added it to the small collection.
When nothing else could be heard or seen, they stared at the little pile of devices. Spike put his had over the transmitters and raised his eyebrows.
“Now what? Smash ‘em? Talk right at them and get creative about what we plan to do with them as soon as we find them?”
“I’m going to curse them,” Anya said firmly. “You might want to not be here for that, Buffy.”
Buffy sighed. “I’m surprisingly okay with cursing them... although I’d really rather just find them and pummel them for a while.”
Anya shrugged. “Maybe Hallie can find them for us. If she thinks she’s going to get a good curse out of it.”
“Whatever you want, Anya. Just don’t let her kill anybody.” Buffy picked up the camera and one of the transmitters. “I’ll leave one for you,” she whispered, holding her thumb over what appeared to be the microphone. “I’m giving the other two to Willow.”
With it now being dark enough for Spike to safely go out, they said goodnight to Anya and went to do some early patrolling. Spike put the small camera and the transmitter in the pockets of his coat.
“Hope they enjoy that view,” he said. “Get to see a stake, up close and personal.”
“I think it’s probably too dark in there for them to see anything. But—”
“You’re going to have to make a decision here soon, pet. I know they’re human, but sooner or later somebody’s going to get hurt or killed because of them.”
“Maybe they’ll break the law and I can get them arrested?”
Whatever Spike’s response might have been, he never got a chance to express it as several unfamiliar-looking demons burst out from behind a large mausoleum and attacked without warning. Buffy fought with her usual flair, if a bit harder than she usually had to, while Spike was having his own problems with a scaly demon that was a foot taller and outweighed him by almost 100 pounds. Only when Buffy took a blow to her mid section and involuntarily dropped her guard to protect her stomach did they realize they might be in trouble. From the corner of his eye, Spike saw her fly backwards from a hit to her suddenly unguarded chin.
“Buffy!” His cry was part fear and part anger as he shoved his opponent away and ran to her.
“Behind you!” she gasped, shaking her head to clear it. He whirled, relief that she seemed to be okay immediately replaced by his demon’s fury. Cursing their lack of foresight for not having at least one sword between them, he pulled the stake from his pocket and used it to blind two of the three demons remaining of the five that had attacked them. With his opponents unable to see him and roaring with pain from their damaged eyes, he was able to get behind them without being seen or heard. Using a nearby tombstone to give him height, he wrenched the head off first one, then another of the creatures that had threatened the mother of his child.
The remaining demon stumbled toward Buffy, now recovered and on her feet, only to be met by a full-fledged slayer tantrum.
Grunting about the unfairness of attacking a pregnant woman, and the stinky smells and ugly faces of these new demons, Buffy proceeded to kick and pummel the remaining demon until he fell at her feet in a whimpering heap. She was just about to drop a large tombstone on his head when Spike said, “Hold it, Slayer. Let’s see where these wankers came from.”
Leaning over the barely conscious demon he asked a question in several different languages, growing more and more impatient as the demon just blinked at him. “Whadda ya wanna know?” it finally croaked out in passable English.
“Where’d you come from? I’ve never seen your kind around here before. Who sent you?”
The demon’s eyes shifted to Buffy, still holding the tombstone and glaring at him.
“Some skinny little human. He summoned us. We don’t live on this... plane. Had to do what he said. He knew all the right rituals. Told us to capture her and bring her back.”
“Capture me?” Buffy threw the tombstone off to the side; her effortless toss was not lost on the demon, who nodded.
“He said to try to get you when the vampire wasn’t around and bring you back alive, but it was too hard – you’re always together – so we decided to just take him out.”
“How’s that working out for you?” Buffy couldn’t resist a short quip, even while she was mentally wringing Andrew’s neck. The demon didn’t respond, just waited to see what they were going to do. It was obvious that his chances of overpowering both of them were not even worth the attempt. Spike broke into the demon’s own painful plans for Andrew.
“Can you get back where you came from now?” The demon nodded slowly.
“I think so. We—I haven’t completed the task, but we tried. I’ve done what I was told, I just failed. He should send me back.”
“Then go.” Buffy said after exchanging silent agreement with Spike. As the demon leapt to his feet and hustled away, she yelled after him, “And tell Andrew if he summons any more demons, I’m going to feed him to them!” She slumped against a nearby wall, watching until it had disappeared. “What are we going to do about these guys?”
Spike was pacing back and forth. “They wanted to capture you,” he snarled. “My—the mother of my child! Capture! Not kill, capture.”
“Spike... they’re human. And yeah, okay, incredibly annoying and now maybe dangerous humans, but humans. I can’t let you—”
“If they hurt you or the baby....” He raised yellow eyes to hers. “All bets are off, love. If it means I’m banished from your life, I’ll deal.”
“We need to find them. That’s the bottom line.”
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