Chapter 31: Units Unite.
The regard Dawn had shown when descending the stairs to the basement to speak with Spike several days ago; was practically non-existent as she bounded down to wake Angel.
“Angel?” she yelled from half way down. “Wesley’s here.”
Lifting himself up from the cot, Angel acknowledged Dawn with a nod of his head before standing and following the teen up the stairs.
Dawn re-entered the living room where everyone was now sitting. She flashed a grin in Spike’s direction.
“Could you have shouted any louder bit?” he asked with a smirk.
“Probably.” She replied with a giggle. “Want me to try next time?”
“Try what next time?” Came Angel’s gruff reply as he joined the group.
Dawn pasted a look of pure innocence on her face as she shrugged her shoulders, giggling when Angel sighed and turned his attention away from her and Spike and towards the new arrivals.
Anya, Xander, Willow and Tara were squished together on the one sofa, eyeing the intruders with interest. Willow and Xander avoided looking at Cordelia, who was currently receiving death stares from Anya, with Tara feeling a little awkward being the only one with no prior history with the brunette. She had heard the stories from Willow, and knew why the brunette would be hostile towards them; she just hadn’t expected everyone to be so… uncomfortable.
“I’m Gunn.” He said as he extended a hand towards Giles, who accepted and introduced himself in return.
“Ah!” Gunn uttered in response. “And everyone else is…?”
Pointing at each individual Giles gave the introduction. “Anya Jenkins, Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Tara McClay.”
“And I’m guessing the squirt is the slayer’s sister?”
“Hey!” Dawn cried indignantly. “I’m no squirt. Tell him Spike.” Dawn insisted, looking for back up.
“’Course not lil’ bit.” Spike said playfully, grinning at Dawn’s annoyed look. Before turning his attention back to the group. “Cordelia.” He greeted with a nod. “It’s been a while.”
“Not long enough.” Cordelia retorted.
Angel stood silently beside the LA crew, figuring that they were waiting for Buffy to join them before they begun the meeting. “Dawn, did you want to get Buffy?” he suggested lightly.
“I’m not going outside.” She retorted petulantly.
Panic swept through Angel and it didn’t go unnoticed how all of the Sunnydale-ers stiffened at Dawn’s comment.
“Outside?” Wesley inquired.
“Yes.” Giles said slowly. “Buffy went out on patrol and…”
“WHAT?” Angel shouted. “Have you lost your mind?”
“Angel!” Willow gasped.
Giles pursed his lips before continuing his explanation. “She was just doing a patrol of the street, she should have been back a little while ago but I’m sure that she’s just been held up.”
“Angel that…” Giles began.
“Is probably likely.” Wesley finished.
“Did you bring it with you?” Angel asked.
“Bring what?” Dawn asked.
“It’s in the trunk.” Wes replied.
Wesley removed them from his pocket and handed them over. Angel snatched them away and immediately left the house.
Spike’s gaze narrowed as watched him leave. He knew that he had been hiding something earlier, and his actions just now proved it.
“BRING what?” Dawn demanded. “Stop ignoring me and please give me some answers.”
Giles frowned at Angel’s abrupt exit. “Yes Wesley, I would appreciate it if you could clear up what is going on.”
“You might want to take a seat.” Wesley suggested.
Angel removed the tranquilizer gun from the trunk he closed the lid. His concern was divided, and he hated the lack of clarity and purpose he was now filled with. When he reached the curb he stopped and inhaled a deep breath, trying to catch a whiff of Buffy’s scent. But it had been a while since she had left and there was nothing clinging in the air.
Figuring that a cemetery would be as good a place to start as any, Angel broke into a run, heading down Revello towards Shady Hill. He knew that Buffy could take care of herself, she had proven countless times just how capable she was. But Buffy didn’t know Darla, or what she was capable of.
He had to find them soon, before anything happened. If something did… he would never forgive himself.
“SODDING hell.” Spike cursed as he lifted himself to his feet and began to pace the room, ignoring the pain the movement caused him. “She’s going to kill her.”
“Well… duh!” Cordelia snorted. “She is a vampire. A demon. Evil. Like you.”
“Spike’s not evil!” Willow started, jumping to Spike’s defense.
“Yeah, right. And Xander has great fashion sense.” Cordelia replied rolling her eyes.
“Hey!” Xander began, having trouble thinking of an immediate come-back.
“He’s not even scary anymore.” Dawn said placing her hands on her hips.
“Hey!” Spike interrupted. “Just hang on a second now bit.”
“See?!” Cordelia said, gesticulating towards Spike as her gaze darted between Giles and Wes. “He’s getting all grr about people not thinking he’s evil. Doesn’t that tell you something?”
“That he’s got an ego?” Xander supplied which earned him a glare from the vampire in question.
“Cordelia.” Giles began, trying to reason with her. “Spike has been of great assistance over the last few weeks. If it weren’t for him, Buffy could have been killed by Darla’s minions.”
“She’s the slayer, she’s going to die eventually.” Cordelia said with a shrug, even realizing herself after she’s spoken it that it was a little harsh. Especially because Dawn was standing right there.
The smaller girl folded her arms over her chest and took a step towards the older brunette, only backing down when Spike placed a hand to her shoulder gently. “I’m not going to let that happen niblet.” He promised, glaring at Cordelia for her insensitivity.
Gunn blinked, surprised by the personality transplant in his friend. This was not the Cordelia he knew, and he was almost certain that he had seen her at her spit-fire worst.
“We’re not going to let that happen.” Corrected Willow, who was now on her feet, followed quickly by Tara, and then Xander and Anya.
“Cordelia why don’t you bite that tongue of yours hey?” Xander suggested. Even he was surprised by her hostility.
“Shut up Xander.”
“No YOU shut up Cordelia.” Anya interjected. “If I were still a vengeance demon you would be in all sorts of trouble.”
“Dating demons now Xander? Colour me not shocked.” Cordelia retorted.
“E-ex-demon.” Tara offered, feeling more than a little intimidated by the brunette, but not liking how she was speaking to her friends.
“Ok ENOUGH.” Giles said loudly. “Can’t you all be civil for ONE night?”
When no one argued with the fierce look he shot at the group, he continued. “Willow. Did you think perhaps you could perform a locator spell? See if we can track down Buffy’s whereabouts?”
Willow shot Cordelia one last glare before nodding in response to Giles’ request. “Sure. Tara, Dawn, some help please.”
The trio of girls left the room and ascended the staircase.
“I didn’t mean…” Cordelia began to apologise.
“Yes you did.” Spike interrupted. “You just didn’t think first.”
Cordelia pursed her lips but didn’t argue. Since when did Spike become all insightful guy?
Buffy took another hit to the head, sending her reeling backwards as she lost her balance. She whipped around to face Darla, a snarl curling at her lips as she began to circle the vampire.
“Why now? Why come back to Sunnydale now?” Buffy inquired, her expression grim as she searched for an opening for attack.
Things didn’t make sense. If she was after Angel, if her goal was to remove his soul, then why didn’t she try and do it weeks ago back in LA? The Dagger… she reminded herself.
But even without it, there were other ways a soul could be removed. Or Darla could have sent one of her lackeys to town to retrieve it and return to LA. Why was it necessary for her to come to Sunnydale?
“Why do you want my sister?” Buffy demanded.
“Your sister…” Darla mocked. “She’s not your real sister. At least not by birth.”
Buffy couldn’t contain her shock at Darla’s statement. Obviously the vampire knew something about Dawn’s origin… but that couldn’t be possible. The monks re-created a history of memories. It wouldn’t make sense for Darla to know otherwise unless she had been investigating her sister. Or…
“Are you working with Glory?” Buffy assumed.
“Glorificus? I’d forgotten that she was in this world.” Darla said with a quirk of her lips. “I know of her but we’ve yet to make acquaintance.”
“Then why?” Buffy roared, swinging wildly with her fists, feeling momentary satisfaction when Darla’s face copped the brunt of her blow.
The vampiress lifted a hand to her nose, pulling it away to examine the blood on her fingers. “Fury looks good on you.” She praised, laughing as she licked the blood from her fingers.
She wondered for a moment about how vicious a creature the slayer would be if she were to be turned. She definitely had the potential, and it would break ‘Angel’. But Darla shrugged off the idea. Once Angelus returned to the fold she wouldn’t want anyone else to vie for her boy’s attention.
Darla looked up at the moon, then over her shoulder, her grin stretching.
Buffy noticed the looks; it wasn’t the first time that she had noticed the divided attention. “What do you keep looking at?” she snapped.
“It’s a surprise…” Darla purred.
Buffy didn’t like the expression on her face, nor the way she continued to circle her without making a move. Why isn’t she attacking me?
Buffy gasped. “You’re stalling me!”
Darla threw back her head and laughed. “I was wondering how long it would take for you to figure that one out. Angel spoke so highly of you in LA, but I’ve got to say… I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t realize sooner.”
Darla stepped to the left when Buffy tried to walk around her. “Nah ah.” She said with a waggle of her finger. “You’ll spoil the fun if you interrupt.”
Buffy swung out with a fist and slammed it into Darla’s jaw, sending the vampire reeling backwards. Using that as a diversion, she began to run towards the park exit but she only made it a few feet before vampires began to appear from the shadows.
“Great.” She muttered.
Clenching her fist tightly around her stake she lunged.
“Your plans?” Giles inquired.
The two Englishmen had left the living room when it appeared that no blood would be drawn amongst the remaining teens, and had moved into the kitchen to discuss the matter more in depth, away from prying ears.
“This is a capture mission.” Wesley responded.
“Do you really think that is wise considering the subject?”
“You want to try and persuade Angel otherwise?”
The Watchers shared a glance before a thumping noise sounded out in the hallway. Both men left the kitchen and walked through the dining room to the foyer where they discovered the source of the noise.
Dawn bounded down the stairs two at a time, shouting as she descended. “Giles! Spike!”
“Yes Dawn.” The Watcher responded when he reached the bottom of the stairs.
“Niblet?” Spike answered when he made his way from the sofa as quickly and painlessly as possible.
“We’ve found her!” She exclaimed excitedly.
“Buffy?” Both asked.
“Yes! She’s at Weatherly Park.”
Willow and Tara descended the stairs slowly; a nod from both Wiccan’s confirming Dawn’s excited exclamation.
“Well what are we waitin’ for?” Spike demanded as he returned to the living room and made his way towards the weapons.
“Oh no fang boy, stay away from the weapons. You’ve got enough sharp and pointies for my liking.” Gunn said as he stepped in front of the bleached vampire.
From Gunn’s short experience this last hour, he hadn’t seen the vampire make one threatening move towards any of the humans in the room. But that didn’t mean that he trusted him. There was only one vampire that he trusted and even then he still kept his guard up slightly.
Spike frowned and tried to step around the taller man but he just moved in the same direction. “I’m going after her and you’re not going to stop me.”
“He can’t be trusted.” Cordelia snapped in the vampire’s direction.
“Yes he can.” Dawn said as she moved beside Spike and folded her arms over her chest in a show of defiance.
“I trust him as well.” Willow said as she joined Spike on his other side. Though Tara didn’t voice it she joined Willow.
Begrudgingly Xander also joined Willow.
“Xander?” Cordelia said in surprise.
“What?” He said with a shrug of his shoulders. “You haven’t been around Cordy. You don’t know how things have been around here.”
A smirk began to creep its way across Spike’s face, which Xander caught immediately. Lifting a hand he pointed at the vampire. “Don’t read into it. You’re still a pain in everyone’s ass. A little vamp muscle just comes in handy every now and then.”
Giles and Wesley watched on in intrigue from the doorway as the Sunnydaler’s slowly joined Spike’s side.
“A lot happened recently?” Wes asked quietly.
“You have no idea.”
Anya stood and made her way to Xander’s side. “I don’t trust him.” She said bluntly. “But I trust Xander and I don’t like you.” She said with a pointed glare in Cordelia’s direction.
“You send him out there he’s only going to end up with more holes in him.” Gunn pointed out.
“Spike will be staying here with Dawn and the girls.” Giles announced, finally making his presence known.
“Rupes I --“ Spike began.
“Don’t argue.” Giles admonished. “Buffy would want you here.”
Spike held the Watcher’s stare for a moment before nodding once and taking a step back. Dawn moved with him, grabbing his hand and giving it a squeeze.
“Let’s load up.” Xander suggested. The sooner they brought Buffy back here, the better.
The group divided as some began retrieving weapons, whilst others moved out of the way.
“Alright, we all clear on what is going to happen here?” Giles asked. At the nodded response he began leading towards the front door.
“Ah… we m-may have a slight problem.” Tara called.
Everyone turned towards her and then took in her position at the window, the soft curtains bunched to the side in her hand.
Xander pushed his way towards a window and mimicked Tara’s action. “Oh crap.” He muttered. “Giles, we’ve got company.”
A/N: The long awaited reuinion! I hope it didn't disappoint. Hope you like the chapter, please review!
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