Back Door Man
“Whaddya mean, ‘what’?”
“I mean, ‘what’? What’s wrong with it?”
“You mean other than everything? Bloody hell, and I thought you were supposed to be the professional here.”
“And that’s the best you can do?” Spike arched an eyebrow and tossed a thoroughly smoked cigarette to the pavement as the two neared Caritas. From the outside, it looked to be a busy night, and he wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.
Right now, though, there were more pressing matters.
For starters, a certain demon hunter who was in way over his head.
“I don’t see what you’re griping about. It seems more than—”
“Angelus isn’t some run of the mill vamp, Zangy. He’s expecting a fast one.” Spike shook his head heavily, a low, humorless chuckle rumbling from the back of his throat. “It’s gonna take more than that to chafe his willy. The stupid git won’t have an ear for believing me as it is.”
“Fine. You handle the ‘more’ and I’ll focus on the ‘that.’ Seems reasonable.” Wright paused. “And plausible, if you ask me—”
“I did ask you. Remember? The entire reason we’re having this bloody conversation?”
“Well, from what your friends have told me about this Host guy, I think he’d go for it.” Wright regarded him. “Doesn’t seem like he’s rallying for the position as Angelus’s number one fan, either. I think as long as we make it look coincidental—”
Spike laughed again. “That’s just it, mate. Great-Daddy Angelus doesn’t believe in coincidences. Just like the Slayer in that, much as I hate to admit it. If anything, it’ll look bloody timely.”
Yet, if he pushed his pride aside, Spike knew it was likely the best idea that either one of them would come up with, even if it did risk more than he cared to risk. But there was this plan or no plan. He didn’t have time to come up with an alternative.
“Look…” Wright sighed and combed a hand through his hair. “I’m good at this. I am. And I know it can work. How about we do the plan, and to call it even, I’ll buy the first round of drinks?”
Spike paused at that, doing his damnedest to shadow a grin. The bloke better start watching his step—he was going to end up Spike’s personal version of Xander Harris. “Right mate,” he said, thumping him once on the back for good measure. “I’m convinced. You got yourself a deal.”
“I walked right into that, didn’t I?”
“What makes you say that?”
“The fact that I walked right into it.”
Spike smirked. “My, my. Can’t put anything passed you hunter types.” He held up a hand before Zack could retort, nodding at a break in the sidewalk that led to an underground establishment. “Oh, looky. We’re here.”
“Has Angelus arrived yet? Can you tell?”
“It’s not like sensing him through the bloody Force, Obi Wan. And yeah, while the wanker does have a familiar stink about him, there’s about seventy-five lurking down there alone to compete with it.”
“You mean the great William the Bloody can’t even sense when his own grandsire is near?”
“What is it with you prats and calling me that?”
Wright shrugged. “It’s just fun to say. Of all the vamps I’ve known—and by known I mean killed—there’s never been one that’s had two nicknames. If I were you, I’d stick to the first. It has character.” When all Wright earned was a frown, he gestured emphatically. “Come on! There’s ‘William the Bloody’…or…” He dropped his voice and performed a very impromptu and frighteningly accurate impersonation of Ben Stein. “‘Spike.’”
“Are you suggesting that Spike doesn’t have character?”
“It sounds like a name that belongs to an overweight biker with way too many tattoos for his own good.” Zack paused. “And as far as suggesting? No. I’m flat out telling you that it lacks in the character department.”
“The wankers I impaled seemed to have a different opinion.”
“Well, by all means, hit me with your best shot. Try and persuade me.” Wright flashed a condescending grin. “Of course, you’d get a headache, and then I’d have to kill you for trying.”
“You’re just looking for an excuse to kill me.”
“Can’t get anything past you, can we?”
“Well, keep looking. Haven’t you heard? I’m a sodding white hat now, just like the rest of you. Cordy cleansed me of all my wrongs when she invited me in, didn’t she?”
Wright snickered. “You make her sound like the Pope.”
“Well, no. I wouldn’t give her that much power right off. Besides, my family wasn’t Catholic.”
“Then you can’t be all that bad,” Wright replied with a grin as they plodded down the outer stairwell and stepped into Caritas.
It was weird, seeing the hunter’s face with a grin on it. Spike hadn’t known the bloke for long, but enough time had passed that he could tell the man was one with little or no humor in his life.
“Besides,” Wright continued, voice elevated to be heard over the noise. “I don’t think anyone could ever consider you a white hat.”
“Thank Christ for that. I’d have to stake myself.”
A pause. “Well, now that you mention it…”
“Ha bloody ha.” Spike favored him with a two-fingered salute, then turned his attention to the scene before him. Specifically, the bloke on stage.
Lorne was singing again.
He was singing Barry Manilow.
Someone needed to be shot.
“Her name was Lo-la,” the Host vocalized beautifully. “She was a showgirl. But that was thirty years ago, when they used to have a show. Now it’s a disco…but not for Lo-la. Still in that dress she used to wear, faded feathers in her hair. She sits here so re-fined. And drinks herself half blind. She lost her youth, and she lost her Tony, now she’s—” He stopped and directed the microphone to his very attentive audience, who screamed back, “Lost. Her. Mind!”
Zack was staring at the stage with a mix of wonder and fear. “What the hell is this?”
“Apparently, it’s the hottest spot north of Havana.”
A long pause.
“Why is it the hottest spot north of Havana?”
“I don’t know.”
Wright quirked his brows and shook his head. “Well,” he decided with a note of defeat. “I guess that if no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, then no one can expect that either.”
Spike barked a laugh. “Our chief weapon is surprise,” he said. “…fear and surprise.”
“Two chief weapons,” Wright continued without missing a beat. “Fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency!”
The vampire was grinning broadly now. He couldn’t help it. “Er, among our chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and near fanatical devotion to the Pope!”
“And here I thought you weren’t Catholic.”
“Oh, sod off.” Spike nodded to the stage where Lorne had spotted them, ending his highly annoying number, thanking everyone and announcing that the next routine would be performed by a Fungus demon from the Caribbean. He hopped down and immediately wormed his way through the crowd.
“This bloke,” the vampire continued, pivoting to Wright, “He’s the Host, the git that told me to find you.”
“Spikalicious!” Lorne returned in greeting. “So good to see you, too.” He turned to Wright with a cordial smile. “And you must be the demon hunter.”
Wright inclined his head. “Hi.”
“Yeah, mate…” Spike shifted forward intently. “We gotta problem.”
“More like a proposition,” Wright corrected.
“Angelus is gonna show at any minute—”
“—and we need him to believe that Spike is not, in fact, a lovesick vamp, but actually dangerous.”
The vampire glared.
Lorne blinked. “Huh? You invited Angel here?” Without awaiting a reply, he cast his gaze upward and heaved a sigh. “Leaping Lazaruses with a pogo stick. There goes another bartender.”
“We needed somewhere neutral,” Spike explained with a shrug.
“Yeah. Thanks for the nod, boys. Glad to know I’m in your thoughts.” The Host neared and lowered his voice. It was obvious he wanted to shout, but there was no point in riling the other customers. “I can’t have Angel in here harassing my customers! You have any idea how bad for business that is? It took a week to get back to the normal quota, and that was with the sanctuary spell!”
“Would you do it for a girl?”
Wright arched an eyebrow. “Does he look like you to you? He doesn’t go all gooey whenever someone mentions—”
But the Host had already rolled his eyes and nodded. “Oh, fine. Throw a slayer in the deal. Twist my arm. Want my liver while you’re at it?” He shook his head. “Yeah, fine.”
Spike beamed and smirked at Wright.
Lorne sighed. “What do you need me to do?”
The plan was simple. The Host was seated at the pub, chatting with his current barkeep while nursing a phony headache. Spike, meanwhile, had perched himself on a stool surrounded by female demons of every breed and variety, and looked to be having a ball.
Hard to believe it was a façade.
Wright was by the door, watching with awe and wondering where a dead guy got the energy. To his credit, Spike didn’t seem truly interested in any of the lame come-ons, despite the amount of cleavage being shoved in his face. There weren’t many creatures—human or not—that Wright figured would remain unaffected. Especially to a girl that did not reciprocate his feelings.
He had only known Spike for a day or so. A day. Somehow he had gone from killing first and asking questions later to nearly treating a demon as an equal. There was something seriously fucked up with the world.
Trouble was, Spike didn’t act like a conventional vampire. Maybe monsters were difficult to hate when they didn’t behave like monsters.
The past few years had kept the same routine. Get up, eat, dress, kill local nasties. That was the way it was. That was how he lived with himself every day in a universe that no longer had Amber Wright in it. And that was fine with him, thank you. After all, the world had given him everything he’d wanted only to rip it away. He was owed his vengeance.
Darla had set the bar to which all others of her kind were measured. And he had never stopped in the past. Hunting was not a matter of negotiation. Demons were bad. They ruined lives, destroyed families. They were a cancer on this earth, and he was the chemo.
That first year, Wright had killed every nasty thing that crossed his path. Anytime he wasn’t hunting, he was buried in books. Researching, memorizing, and researching more. Learning everything there was about the Order of Aurelius. Its members, their histories, and their bloody trail throughout Europe.
Flash. There were Darla and Angelus, terrorizing a demon hunter named Holtz.
Flash. Murdering a girl in a convent.
Flash. Killing Drusilla’s family right in front of her, then making her one of them.
History was scattered with Darla. Every page. Every word. Every syllable. There she was. Russia, France, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Romania…it never ended. Not for her. Wherever she went, she killed. And wherever she killed, she made sure her presence was known.
And she wasn’t even the worst of them. Oh no. The master must ultimately bow to its creation. She had molded her own Pygmalion. Without a doubt, Angelus took the cake. Hell, he sold out the bakery. There wasn’t a single mention of him that wasn’t drenched in blood. He was the leader of Hell’s armies. He was the reason there wasn’t an atheist in the foxhole. He had created the fear behind the name vampire.
The Master had made Darla. Darla had made Angelus. Angelus had made Drusilla. And Drusilla had made the vampire that was currently Wright’s partner. His cohort. His associate. And Spike was going against those to whom he was bound in blood to save the one person that shouldn’t matter.
With no thought for himself.
Wright would have liked to believe it a rouse. He would have liked that more than anything, except the chance to see Amber before him right now, safe and sound, reassuring him that the past seven years had been some awful dream. But things had changed. Wright had built his entire career on stone, on not feeling, and it had only taken a matter of hours for his barriers to crumble. To his credit, he didn’t believe that Spike realized how much Wright had softened since their meeting in the alley. That it had been so long since he’d laughed or quoted dumb movies that he’d almost forgotten how.
He was beginning to feel again, and that was never good.
If he felt, it meant he was still human. Still living, still breathing.
And she was still gone.
Wright sighed, eying Spike again. A large part of him wanted it over with. To simply kiss the last of his compassion goodbye and kill the vampire for the crimes he’d committed, no matter that he wasn’t that guy anymore. Because if Amber hadn’t been given a chance, why should he? Why should this slayer that Spike was so hung up on? Why should anyone?
Because this—this whatever it was—was real. He hated it, but it was real. The night before served as enough proof.
The look in Spike’s eyes. That raw emptiness. That utter sadness. That fleeting rage. Spike’s face. Hearing that Buffy had been killed.
Even if he knew it was likely a fluke.
A true vampire would have ended it there. A true vampire couldn’t love.
Wright had known intimately everything that Spike had felt in that moment. There had been no difference between them then.
He really loved this woman.
And Wright hated himself for seeing it. Hated himself for breaking, even if it had yet to show. Hated himself for being here, for helping a creature he should have dusted, for doing anything other than what he came here to do.
Darla. He was here to kill Darla.
And fucking yet.
There was sudden rustling behind him, and Wright knew that Angelus had entered the scene. It was nothing if not an innate and sometimes frightening sixth sense. Something developed over the years of building and keeping himself in the shadows. Had he more time, Wright might have wondered how he knew it was Angelus and not just another vampire, but he didn’t need to. The look Spike gave him confirmed it.
Now to put on a smile and act like a right loon.
It was time.
Zack pivoted sharply on the heel and would have plowed directly into Angelus had the vampire not already pushed him aside. Angelus didn’t even pay attention to him—he only had eyes for Spike, who suddenly seemed very interested in the rack of a purple-skinned demon-whore.
“What the hell is this?”
Wright cleared his throat and plastered on what had to be the dumbest smile of all time. “Isn’t it great?” he asked loudly, earning an irritated glance. “See that guy? Over there? With all the chicks? See—”
Angelus didn’t even spare him a glance. “Shut up.”
“Unbelievable. And—whew—what a set of pipes! Took one turn at the mic and all those girlies just flocked over to him.” Zack clasped his hands together. “And what’s best, he’d promise he’d turn me once he got something worked out with his schedule. Can you imagine it? A vampire! Living for-fucking-ever! Think of how much tail you’d get after a few centuries. Man, wait until I tell the guys downtown about this! They’ll shit themselves!”
At that, Angelus’s attention was snagged.
Wright let his face fall with practiced ease. “Oh, he’s a vampire. Or he says he’s a vampire. If he’s not, he has this really cool trick where his face goes all fangy. Not the prettiest picture, but hey—no reflection, so it’s not like I’d have to see myself or anything.” Then he grimaced. “’Course, there is that drinking blood thing. Yuck. But I guess small prices must be paid if I’m going to live forever. An eternity of pussy. What do you think?”
That seemed to be the extent of Angelus’s patience. The vampire snarled, the bones in his face shifting, and the next instant, he’d backed Wright into a corner, pinning him in place with a forearm to the windpipe.
Wright thought he faked fear quite well. It had been, after all, a long time since he’d played the part. He waited the appropriate number of seconds before widening his eyes and breaking into a broad grin. “Oh, dude!” he exclaimed. “You’re a vamp, too! Man, this is so my night.”
Angelus snarled again. “Better watch it, boy, or I might be persuaded to take you outside. You know what happens when we go outside, right?”
“Dude, did you not hear me? I am into chicks.”
Angelus stared at him incredulously and rolled his eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” he yelled to no one in particular, cutting a brief silence through the noise that surrounded them. “Spike was going to let you live forever? Sheesh, and I thought that boy had standards.”
“H-he s-said h-he had l-lots of time t-t-to make up for.”
Stuttering was always good. Gave it a feel of realism.
“All right, Polly. Talk. What do you know? And the truth, please. You see, I get a little…testy…when I feel I’m being had. You wouldn’t want me to get testy, would you?”
Wright could tell that Angelus was dying to do something to measure his words. Slam him against the wall, tighten his grip around his throat, rip his lungs out and lick them clean—the usual. He could also tell he wouldn’t—and not just because of the sanctuary spell.
Angelus wanted answers, and he was the man who had them.
“Look, man!” he cried, clutching Angelus’s wrist in a semblance of fear. “All I know is that that dude sang—”
“Yeah! He totally sang! And then—”
“The Host? He around here?”
Wright frowned. “Host? What host?”
There was a rumbled sigh. “I don’t know why I’m surprised. That little ignoramus always did want to sire idiots as useless as him. The Host! A tall, greenish fellow, annoying with a tendency to read your dry, meaningless, and rapidly-becoming-shorter future when you sing?”
“Oh! The green guy!” Wright wriggled free from the vampire’s grip and nodded, pointing at the bar. “Man, that dude pulled a total wig and has been over there ever since.”
Sure enough, Lorne was perched faithfully on a barstool, brilliantly crimson rag against his forehead as he sipped at a Sea Breeze. He was talking with the server, occasionally throwing irritated, half-frightened glances over his shoulder. When he glanced over to the pair, his eyes widened and he yelped something unintelligible before making a quick break for a section reserved for staff only.
Angelus frowned, confusion and surprise burning in his eyes. Zack had to refrain from the temptation to yelp his success.
Then Spike was there, standing just a few feet away, thumbs hooked through his belt loops, brows raised and the kitschiest smile on his face. “Whatsa matter, Peaches?” he drawled. “You eat another philanthropist, or aren’t you happy to see me?”
“Spike,” Angelus said in greeting, releasing Wright completely. “I must admit, this is not what I expected. Making with the singing, taking up losers more pathetic than you… What? You trying to impress me?”
“Not everything’s about you, mate. Or haven’t you learned that yet?”
“You set this up for my benefit? Really, I’m touched.”
Spike shrugged, rocking on his heels a bit. “Just thought you’d appreciate a bit of the old proof. My last showing wasn’t exactly anything I’d brag about.”
“Yeah, I heard. Moping and wailing and throwing yourself on the ground so the poor, dainty Slayer doesn’t get her feet wet.” Angelus shook his head, tsking. “I gotta say, your taste just gets funnier and funnier.”
Wright’s brows winged skyward, but Spike didn’t look at him.
“Don’t really see where you’re one to talk, mate. You’re the one who popped her cherry, after all.” He shrugged and reached for his cigarettes. “Anyway, I’m over it. Guess I wanted a little taste, see what the fuss was about, but no harm no bloody foul. Bit of the old spot of violence oughta throw me properly back in the game.” He jutted his chin toward Wright. “Even brought me a peace-offering for Dru.”
“You really think she’s gonna forgive you that easily?”
Spike frowned, blowing out a column of smoke. “Well, no. That being what the peace offerings for, you ninny.”
“You got a lot to own up for, and I’m not sure I’m buying this.” Angelus stepped forward. “Funny how the last time I saw you—really saw you—you had decided to take up a place next to the Slayer and her holy brigade of apocalypse-stopping buffoons.”
“Well, the Slayer’s gone now, isn’t she?” Spike replied coolly. “Shouldn’t be a problem unless you decide to lose your marbles over another one, as far as I’m concerned. ’Sides, my story sticks. I like this world. It’s got all sorts of bloody potential. And, truly mate, that was more ‘cause I was tired of listening to you and Dru knocking boots. Darla’s being back’ll be enough to gimme at least some quality time with my dearest, don’cha think?”
Angelus gave him a long, thoughtful look. “You see, William,” he said. “This is where I’m having my problem. I don’t think we have any use for you…at all. Other than the occasional knack for keeping Dru entertained, you brought nothing to the Order except an unbelievably annoying habit of getting in my way.”
“Well,” Spike retorted before taking another puff of his cigarette, “this is how I see it. This Wolfram and Hart gig’s bigger than you, and that’s just killing your poor precious ego, especially since I know you wanna be out in the thick of it to shake that nasty soul off you. Way I heard it, this was all fixed according to their liking. I could always take it up with that Lindsey bloke or someone with a bit more tug. Someone a little higher up on the food chain. Or I could let you pretend to have a vote and come back on your terms. Which would you prefer?”
For a moment, Wright was certain that was the end—that Angelus would decide Spike was better staked than dealt with.
But he was wrong.
“And the whelp?” he asked.
Spike shrugged. “Just a tasty morsel to smooth over my princess. I do owe her an apology.”
Angelus tossed Wright a look. “Morsel got a name?”
“Zack,” Spike said.
Wright’s eyes went wide, and Spike must have caught it, because he hurried to add, “Morris.”
Or maybe not.
Well, two could play at that game.
“There are some who call me…Tim,” Wright added.
Angelus just blinked at him. Spike, on the other hand, looked torn between wanting to rip out his throat and laugh at the joke.
“You really think Dru’s gonna forgive you if you give her this?”
“Willing to try, mate. Got any better ideas?”
Angelus inclined his head. “A few. But this is a decent start.”
“Yeah, except I still got me a problem.” Spike tapped his cranium. “Little birdie told me that your friends might be able to help me out in that department. Make it so I can chase the other puppies again.”
Wright went rigid. What the fuck?
He didn’t remember the chip’s removal being up for discussion.
“Ah, yes. The chip.” Angelus crossed his arms, chuckling. “Only you would be incompetent enough to become the lab monkey of some fraternity boys. I—”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard ’em all, you overgrown ponce. Do your bloody worst. Oh, and while you’re at it, feel free to stuff it.”
“Temper, temper. Why would I stop when it’s so much fun?” Angelus shook his head and rumbled another long chuckle. “You always did offend easily, Spike. Never took care of that. Gives others the advantage… Not to mention it makes pissing you off hilarious.”
Spike’s eyes narrowed. “You gonna help me out or not?”
“Oh, I don’t know. You didn’t say please.”
“I could rip your head off. Be just as effective and a whole lot funnier.”
“Big words. Think you could?”
“Guess we could always find out.”
A long beat settled between them before Angelus finally cracked a smile and thumped Spike on the back for good measure. “At least you haven’t lost your sense of humor. Right. I’ll have Lindsey make the arrangements.” His eyes danced. “Get you…deprogrammed.”
“I’m droppin’ in,” Spike replied. “Tomorrow at sundown. All right? Then we can get to it. Get the sodding procedure over with.”
“And here I thought you’d want to come back with me. Get to that groveling you’re so good at.”
Spike flicked a look in Wright’s direction. “You think Dru’s ready to see me? Thought she might take a night to warm to the idea. After the way we left it…”
Angelus frowned, considering. “Yeah, she wasn’t happy. And she can pitch a fit like no one else. Thankfully, she trusts Daddy to take care of her where it counts.” He turned his attention briefly to Wright and winked as though he was in on the joke. “I can smooth things over for you at home, Spike. She’ll be willing and eager when you get back.”
“Just the way I like her.”
Angelus smiled. “And then…I think I’ll take everyone out on a little field trip. It’s been too long since we went out for a good old-fashioned hunt.”
“Do I get to come?” Wright said, and even he heard the sharp accusation in his voice.
Why was he surprised? Disappointed? Spike was a soulless creature, just like the rest of them. Of course he would twist this to his favor.
But damn, he couldn’t help it. Wright felt let down.
Angelus’s gaze remained on Spike. “Sure,” he said. “We’ll bring the whole family.”
From the look in the demon hunter’s eyes, he was just itching to get Spike out of the protection of a sanctuary spell, though he hadn’t the faintest idea why. The only thing he knew was Wright was seriously brassed about something.
Perhaps he had underestimated his own acting abilities. This was the second time he had fooled Angelus. And now he could add Zack Wright to that list—the demon hunter who wasn’t too keen on believing him in the first place.
It might have been easier, safer, to clear the air inside Caritas, but something told Spike that his reluctant companion wouldn’t stake him without cause. Wright had already had his chance a time or two. He didn’t seem the type of bloke to not let a fella know what he’d done to earn a dusting—at least not now that they were relying on each other.
So when it came time to leave, Spike didn’t hesitate. Just waved at Lorne, who was busy assuring his regulars that Angelus was not on his guest-list, before heading out.
“‘Some call me Tim’?” Spike demanded as soon as they reemerged to street level. “Were you bloody trying to give us away? Fuck, it’s a good thing Angelus is such a bloody dolt. The wanker never had enough humor in his life to appreciate Monty Python.”
Wright smiled sourly, which was definitely better than a stake in the heart. “Hello! You’re the one who decided that I’m the lead of Saved by the Bell.”
Spike shrugged, unable to conceal a grin. “You’re lucky I was able to recover that quickly. It was the first thing that came to mind.”
Wright stared at him. “That was the first thing that came to mind?”
“Rather fitting, don’cha think?” Spike bit back a chuckle. “Mate, I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole sodding world that’s watched more telly in the expanse of their sad, empty lives as I have this past year. Let’s face it, he’s the most popular Zack there is in syndication.”
“If I’m Zack Morris, does that make you Screech?”
“Oi! Watch it!”
There was a chuckle as they fell into step. Comfortable. Even with the noise of the metropolis around them. Even with everything.
It was a few minutes before either spoke again.
“Are you really going to do it?”
Spike glanced up. “Do what?”
“Get your chip removed?”
Ah. Spike relaxed a little. So that was the reason Wright had been glaring stakes at him. It made sense. For a vampire who claimed to be off the good stuff, his desire to remove his handicap had to look suspicious.
But that didn’t change anything. Yes, Spike wanted the chip out. He wanted it out more now than ever. He knew that his unspoken oath to Buffy would keep from killing. There would be no hurrying to off her friends. There would be no hurrying to off anyone. There would be no offing of anyone. He was on a strict diet of pig’s blood and he intended to adhere its conditions.
At least for now.
It was more than that. Spike knew that whatever decision he made now was final, and no matter what happened with the chip, his budding humanity wouldn’t stop budding. Oh no, it kept coming. Kept with every breath he didn’t breathe. A chip didn’t make or break anyone. His had simply offered him a window. A view. And he, being the enormous dolt he was, had looked out.
He had been reminded of the world before he was killed.
But the chip was dangerous. It was dangerous for him with people like Zachary Wright out there. Those who had been wronged by vampires or demons. Those on a mission to cleanse the world. He needed means of protection. He needed something, or else the legend William the Bloody would meet an ending that was not at all fitting for his reputation.
“Yeah,” he replied at last. “I’m gonna do it.”
There was a sigh. “You hypocritical bastard, I knew—”
“I’m not gonna kill anyone, Zangy.” Spike sighed and shook his head. “I give you my sodding word on that, all right? I eat anyone and you’re free to stake me. No questions asked. I won’t even put up a bloody fight. That rest well with you?”
Another breath. The hunter’s anger dimmed almost instantly. That notion was warming. They were making progress after all. “All right.”
An understanding. Formed, spoken, and agreed upon.
Lindsey slammed the phone into its receiver.
He was so fucking sick of everything going wrong. One thing after another. Darla. Dru. Angelus. The Slayer.
And now Spike. Spike was on board. On board, and he wanted the fucking chip out.
Well, of course, he did. Couldn’t torture a slayer with a zapper in the noggin.
This had gone far enough. It was time for action.
He would be damned before William the Bloody set a foot in this office.
Lindsey chuckled, paused, then brought the phone to his ear again. Easy enough. He was damned, anyway.
“McDonald here,” he said, voice cutting through the dark silence of his office. The days had grown longer without his consent. He wondered who to talk to about that. “I need you to assemble a team. We have another ad hoc vampire to take out. Yeah. Right away.”
He might be damned, but there was no way he was adding to his sentence. If he was going down, he was going to take as many with him as possible.
Might as well use power while it was still his.
It was the least he could do.
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