Chapter 19: Failure.
“Get behind me, NOW.” Spike ordered as he stepped in front of Dawn.
Jake laughed. “Well isn’t that sweet. Protecting the slayers sister. Think that will win you any points?” he mocked with a raised brow.
Spike growled in response, backing away slowly, his arms outstretched to keep Dawn behind him. “Bit!” He called over his shoulder. “Back door. NOW.”
Dawn didn’t need to be told twice, she bolted down the side of the house in the direction of the back door, her heart racing as she ran up the few steps and swung the door open and stepped inside to safety.
“SPIKE!” she shouted through the open door, her alarm reaching everyone in the living room.
Buffy was on her feet in a second and moving through the house in the direction of her sisters voice. The others quickly followed behind her. They found Dawn in the kitchen, staring out into the backyard through the open door, her expression panicked.
“Dawn why is the door open!” Buffy chastised. She reached for the door to pull it closed when she heard the sounds of a fight coming from outside. “What’s going on?” she demanded.
“Spike’s outside, there are vampires.” Dawn cried in alarm.
Saving the rest of the interrogation for later Buffy pulled Dawn further into the kitchen before she stepped outside and onto the small deck. Angel followed. “Stay here Buffy, you’re hurt. I’ll get him.”
Buffy’s annoyance that Spike had gotten himself into another fight dissipated when she remembered the little speech from the night in the Magic Box when she was attacked. Baldy as she had nicknamed him, had cryptically spoken about Dawn, and had referred to Spike as her ally. His words echoed through her mind.
“The ally of the leader of the light will be struck down and she will come to dance on his grave.”
“The reborn will strike vengeance upon the leader of the light and the blood of the key will flow freely to destroy the prodigal.”
“Spike!” Buffy shouted in alarm. If Spike got himself killed then that could set a chain reaction in motion that would ultimately lead to Dawn’s death. Buffy needed Spike to be safe. She needed to keep Dawn safe. What surprised her was that she didn’t want Spike to get hurt, and not just because of her sister’s safety.
Angel moved around the corner of the house, spotting Spike in the midst of a fight with several vampires. Swinging a punch at one nearest to him, he snapped a stick from the tree nearby and used the makeshift stake to dust the first attacker. Half of the vampires now turned their attention to him.
Spike saw Angel join the fight, glad to have some help but annoyed at who had come to his aid. Ponce is probably just fighting for the glory and the praise…
Leaping into the air, Spike grabbed hold of the branch that Dawn had clutched onto when she had climbed down from her window and swung himself backwards and then pushed himself forwards. The pendulum action and the speed of his push threw a lot of extra power behind his attack so when he glided through the air his legs connected with a sickening crack to the vampires head in front of him.
“STOP!” a voice commanded from the back of the group.
Spike recognised Jake as the speaker but before he could question what was going on, the group of four remaining vampire took off, fleeing into the night. Spike let go of the branch and dropped to the ground, landing on his feet as he watched with curiosity as the vampires scurried away.
Turning to Angel who looked just as bemused, a smirk curled at the edges of Spike’s lips. “Must have gotten a look of your ugly mug and run off scared.”
Angel glowered at Spike before he turned and walked back around to the back door, Spike following in his footsteps.
“Spike!” Dawn called with relief, wrapping her arms around the vampire’s neck when he walked into the house behind Angel.
Spike held her for a moment before extracting himself from the teens embrace.
“You okay?” Buffy asked quietly.
“I’m fine.” Spike said with a nod, surprised that she even asked. Surprised that she cared. Cared… maybe that’s too strong a word. Worried.
“Nothing I couldn’t handle on my own.” He said with a pointed look in Angel’s direction.
“Did you dust them?” Willow asked noting the lack of evidence, which should be covering his clothes.
Spike shook his head. “They took one look at peaches and ran away howling.”
Angel glared again, clenching his jaw tightly and balling his fists by his side. “Spike.” He said threateningly.
“What?” Spike said with mock innocence before his tone became more serious. “As soon as they saw him they disappeared.”
“Maybe they were afraid of him.” Dawn suggested. “I mean he has the large brow and the broody stare.”
Angel raised a hand to touch his brow, muttering under his breath that it wasn’t that big whilst Spike grumbled that he was just as scary as the poof was.
A hint of a grin curled the edges of Buffy’s lips at the childish competition between the two male vampires before her expression became serious once more. Closing the back door, she led the group back into the living room, Dawn following at the rear.
“Please let me stay.” Dawn begged when she saw that Buffy was about to send her away. “I won’t say anything, I’ll be quiet. I just want to know what’s going on, especially if it concerns me.”
Buffy frowned. “How do you know that it involves you?”
Dawn blinked in realization and tried to cover up her tracks. “I just mean… I suspect that it is about me and if it is then maybe I should know about it.”
Buffy looked from person to person trying to find the culprit with the big mouth. Spike was standing off to the side paying way too much attention to his fingernails.
“Spike…” Buffy started.
“I made him tell me!” Dawn blurted out wanting to defend Spike, who shot her a grateful look even though he knew it would not save him from Buffy’s wrath.
“What? You made him tell you? Tell you what? When?” Buffy demanded.
“Ah, Oh.” Dawn fumbled, looking decidedly uncomfortable under Buffy’s scrutiny. “Please don’t be mad… If you promise you won’t be mad I’ll tell you.”
“Dawn.” Buffy threatened.
“Buffy perhaps we should --“ Giles tried to intervene but Buffy would have none of it.
“DAWN.” She said a little more loudly.
“So I might have been sneaking out of my bedroom window.” Dawn said nervously. When she saw the look of anger on Buffy’s face she continued, trying to explain before her sister exploded at her. “I was just going to go for a walk but I didn’t get very far. Spike saw me on his way inside and was forcing me back into the house when those vampires attacked.”
Buffy folded her arms over her chest, glaring from Dawn to Spike and back again. “Is this true?”
“That’s about right.” Spike said with a nod.
“Dawn do you have any idea how stupid that was!?” Buffy asked incredulously. “You could have been hurt, they could have taken you or --”
The rest of the group had moved away from the sisters and had settled themselves back in their seats and were talking quietly amongst themselves to give the sisters a modicum of privacy.
“I’m sorry.” Dawn apologised, stepping forward and hugging Buffy. “I’m so sorry. I know you worry and that you’re just trying to look after me.” She said, remembering what it was that Spike had told her.
Buffy was stunned speechless. She had been expecting more of an argument than that. She returned the hug, holding Dawn tightly. “You could have been hurt.” She said quietly.
“It won’t happen again, I promise.” Dawn said with a nod of her head. “Please, just let me help?”
Buffy considered it for a moment before agreeing, listing off her terms. “You won’t touch anything unless it is handed to you. You won’t ask any questions, and if the conversation looks like its going somewhere that you really shouldn’t be listening in on you will go up to your room with no complaints.”
“Agreed?” she asked with a raised brow.
“Agreed.” Dawn said with a nod.
Together, the sisters took a seat, joining the rest of the group for the debriefing session.
Jake paced the tunnel as he worked up the courage to enter the inner sanctum. Tonight had definitely not gone to plan. She was certainly going to mad. He just hoped he would be able to convince her that leaving like they did was the right thing to do. She had instructed, implicitly in fact, that the other vampire was not to be harmed. She cared none for Spike; he was a stepping-stone in achieving her goals. Something to be dealt with. The other one though, Angel… he was important.
Pangs of jealousy swept through him at the thought of being replaced. It was inevitable; he knew that. Once everything fell into place he would find himself substituted. Although not entirely. But the thought of having to share her after what they’d had since he’d been turned made his blood boil. Perhaps she would reward his efforts in preserving the life of the other one, the one that would soon return to the fold if Darla had anything to say about it.
His hand rose slowly, balling a fist with which he knocked lightly on the door.
Her sharp call of permission caused him to wince. Nope… not happy at all…
With Dawn now being present, Buffy didn’t think it wise to start the soul sucking dagger line of conversation she had planned for tonight’s debrief. It was definitely something that would be dealt with, tonight, just not while Dawn was with them. So for now, they kept to the lighter points of discussion. Something all of her friends seemed to pick up on.
“So Will, we’re going to need you to mojo up that vamp alarm spell for us. So we know when anyone of the undead variety steps foot on my lawn.” Buffy requested.
“Sure.” Willow replied. She tried to subtly tilt her head upstairs and look pointedly at Dawn, trying to suggest that she could go upstairs now and take Dawn with her but to Buffy it looked like she was squinting.
Huh? She mouthed.
Willow sighed, standing up from her seat and announcing loudly. “So. I’ll be going upstairs now. To do that vamp alarm spell. Dawn. Would you like to give me a hand?”
“Oh….” Buffy drew out slowly in realization, shutting her mouth before Dawn suspected something. Thankfully, she did not. She was too excited about the prospect of being allowed to help perform a spell.
“REALLY!?” she squeaked, looking from Willow, to Buffy, and to Willow again.
“Sure.” Buffy said with a light smile. “So long as you stay away from the matches and let Willow do all the flamey parts.”
“Yay!” She shrieked, jumping up and down on the spot excitedly a few times before she managed to regain control of herself. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Buffy found herself wrapped in a tight embrace, before she was released and Willow received the same treatment.
Tara stood up and pointed at Willow as she walked from the room with Dawn. “I-I’ll just go watch them, make sure that they do the spell correctly.”
Dawn’s excited chatter echoed down the stairwell and into the living room as she babbled non-stop before a few moments later the door was closed.
“Not one for subtleties are we pet?” Spike said with a raised brow.
“Shut up!” Buffy said with a small chuckle, shaking her head in resignation.
Angel kept quiet, watching Spike intently. He was barely taking his eyes away from Buffy. He was using pet names when he addressed her. And she was relaxed around him. He didn’t like this, not one bit.
Xander mimicked the smile Buffy wore. “Willow can sometimes be a little too expressive with her…”
“Expressions?” Anya offered.
“Hey!” Xander objected playfully. “I thought it was my job to make the obvious comments around her.”
“Looks like you’ve been replaced Xan.” Buffy said, shaking her head as she tsked him.
“Shall we return this conversation to the reason why we’re assembled here tonight?” Giles suggested after he cleared his throat. “We have no guarantee how long Willow’s spell will distract Dawn.”
“Right.” Buffy agreed with a firm nod. “On topic. That’s where we are. We’re topic bound. Giles, you have the floor.”
Giles cleared his throat again, making sure he had the attention of everyone in the room before he began. Riffling through his papers, he handed the sketched picture he had found in one of his texts regarding the missing dagger. “It’s called the Dagger of Cortanzine. And last night it was stolen from the magic box.”
“Cortanzine?” Angel repeated with a frown, not sure he had heard Giles correctly. He had thought the weapon was a myth.
“Yes, Cortanzine.” Giles said with a stiff nod. “We believe that whomever broke into the store --“
“Presumably Darla’s minions.” Buffy interrupted, not looking at Angel as she spoke.
“Presumably.” Giles agreed. “We believe that this is what they were searching for. Nothing else appears to have been taken.”
“Taken.” Anya said with frowning as her bottom lip jut out in a pout. “Destroyed on the other hand, well that would be my income for the next six months.”
Spike let out a low whistle. “Sounds like they did a number on the place.”
“Quite.” Giles admitted.
“Weapons?” Spike continued.
“Not touched.” Buffy said with a disbelieving shake of her head. “Not one of them is missing. It doesn’t make sense. Either they’re incredibly stupid or --”
“Incredibly confident.” Spike finished.
“Exactly.” She agreed.
Spike figured it was the later. Darla might be a right bitch and as pigheaded as they came, but she was also one of the most sadistic and conniving creatures he had ever met. When she formed a plan, she executed it without scruples. Even if meant the sacrifice of her own minions.
“What’s so special about this sharp and pointy? What does this Dagger of Cortanzine do?” Spike asked.
“It’s the devourer of souls.” Angel informed.
“Reportedly.” Giles said.
Angel shook his head. “I didn’t believe it existed. I’d heard stories…” he trailed off. “If it’s real, then so is its power.”
“Devourer of souls?” Xander repeated, only just managing to comprehend fully what he had a moment ago been informed. “It EATS souls?”
Giles nodded. “I’m afraid so.”
Xander shook his head in disbelief. “First the Judge who wanted to burn the humanity out of us, then the stone demon Achilla that --“
“Acathla.” Spike offered, looking at Angel as he said it. That had been his grandsires plan after all.
“Acathla…” Xander continued without missing a beat. “The Mayor who wanted to snack on us. And now a dagger?!? What next? NO!” he said with an enthusiastic waggle of his finger. “More importantly, Giles why was it in the Magic Box.”
Anya nodded her head vigorously at that. “You could have sold it to Glory like you did the bloodstone and --“
She trailed off when she caught the very un-subtle side ways shake of Xander’s head. Figuring it must be one of those employee-employer no-no’s he had been explaining to her recently, she changed track. “I’ve just begun adjusting to this whole mortal thing. Now my soul is at risk? I’d be safer as a vengeance demon.”
“Getting back on track.” Giles said with a grimace. “Anya I do not believe that you are in any immediate danger of losing your soul.”
“Oh.” She said with obvious relief. “Well that’s good then.”
“We believe it will be used to remove the soul of --“
“Me.” Angel supplied.
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