By the time Spike arrived well after dark, pizza had been consumed, books consulted, and theories discussed until no one could be sure who had suggested what. Wesley’s attempt to keep a list on a piece of paper wasn’t going well as it was being passed around the table, suggestions were scratched out, and new ideas added to the point it was becoming illegible.
Spike snatched it out of Xander’s hands. “What’s this then? Somebody’s grocery list?”
Wesley tried to snatch it back, recoiling when Spike snarled at him.
“Mr. Giles! Why do you permit this creature to attend your meetings with your—our—my slayers?”
Giles walked over and took the list from Spike. “Behave yourself, William. It’s a list of ideas for how to use what we know about the Mayor and Balthazar’s history to help us.” He handed the list to Wesley and gestured for Spike to sit down.
“Spoil sport,” Spike muttered, but obediently went to sit near Buffy. “So, what do we know?”
Without waiting for Wesley to speak up, in spite of his being the one now holding the list, Giles quickly recapped. “We know that the amulet is necessary in some way for an Ascension. Possibly because, used in the proper rite, it will bestow immortality or invulnerability upon the demon planning to ascend.”
Wesley broke in, glaring at Giles as he did so. “Very few demons are strong enough in their own right to survive an Ascension without the invulnerability that comes with immortality. Which is why Balthazar was so eager to get it back, and why the Mayor is so eager to have it.”
“So, I crush it under my boot, and we’re done with it. What’s the holdup?”
Wesley turned his glare on Spike, who bared his fangs back at him until Buffy punched him on the arm.
“It cannot be destroyed that easily. We must perform a ritual at precisely the right time of the night, and in the right place. Once we have done that, we will be able to destroy it.”
“I’m guessing the right time and place isn’t the high school library when it’s just gone nine,” Spike sighed. “So how long do we have to keep this thing away from Hiz Honor?”
“Actually, Spike,” Giles said, taking over the conversation again, “This is a useful spot, although anywhere in Sunnydale would probably work. Being over the hellmouth is an asset for a change. However, we need to keep the amulet safely out of the Mayor’s hands until midnight. Then we can perform the ritual and you may stomp on it to your heart’s content.”
“Seems easy enough. Slayers and yours truly can do some quick sweeps outside while you two watcherly types set up your ritual. Just to keep an eye on the perimeter so to speak.”
“I can go with you,” Oz said in his quiet way. He and Spike exchanged looks while Buffy and Willow frowned at them.
Spike nodded. “Extra ears and noses are always welcome,” he said.
“I don’t understand.” Wesley stared at Oz and then glanced at Willow. “How can an ordinary human be of any use at all?”
“Oz isn’t ordinary! He’s a genius,” Willow said loyally before turning to Oz. “Are you sure? You can’t fight if something happens. I mean, you can, but—”
“Maybe not like those three, but I can—” He stopped, glancing at Wesley, then shrugged. “I’ll just stay by the door and listen and watch for anything suspicious. I can duck back inside if I need to. It’ll be okay.” He smiled at Willow and touched her cheek. “They might need you in here to help with planning the ritual.”
Buffy and Spike were already near the door, waiting impatiently, while Faith rose and stretched. Buffy rolled her eyes when Xander stared at Faith’s blatant showing off. Cordelia sniffed, turned her back, and asked Wesley, “What can I do?”
Wesley stammered and blushed. “You… that is I… I would be most gratified if you would continue looking through here for anything that might add to what we know about this amulet.” He handed her the book Oz had been reading. “If you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind,” Cordelia said with a smile. “I can read.” She sat down, crossed her legs, and began reading.
Willow and Xander exchanged incredulous looks while Spike, Buffy, and Faith added snorts of laughter. Their laughter became even more audible when they saw Giles trying to hide his own smirk. Oz gave a laconic shrug and followed Faith to the door.
Without answering Wesley’s plaintive, “I don’t understand why Willow’s young man is going outside with the supernaturally enhanced,” they all left the library by the exterior door, stopping on the small porch outside.
Spike looked at Oz and grinned. “So, are you out here with the supernaturally enhanced because you think you might hear or smell something, or just because you couldn’t stand to be there anymore?”
Oz shrugged. “Little bit of this, a little bit of that. My nose is pretty good even when I’m not a wolf, and so are my ears. Not as good as yours maybe, but better than the average bear.”
Buffy and Faith laughed at his cartoon reference, but Spike just frowned. “I thought you were a wolf? What’s a bear got to do with anything?”
“Yogi Bear? Boo Boo? Ringing any bells?” When Spike shook his head, Buffy sighed. “And here I thought you watched a lot of television. Never mind, I’ll explain it later.”
Spike shrugged his lack of interest, saying, “We should probably split up and take different parts of the building. Maybe one slayer and one with good hearing and smelling abilities?” Spike glanced at Oz. “Unless you were serious about just staying here on the steps and listening for anything evil.”
Oz shook his head. “No, I’ll go with Faith.” He pulled a stake from his jacket pocket. “I’ll be all right.”
Buffy frowned but nodded. “Just be careful, Oz. I don’t want to have to explain to a witch that we got her boyfriend killed.”
“He’ll be fine,” Faith said. “I’ve got his back.”
“Okay. Let’s go then. We’ll go right and you go left. We’ll turn around on the far side of the gym. Oz, you and Faith can check out the art wing, okay? Meet you back here in a little while.” Buffy paused. “If anybody hasn’t shown up by the time they probably should have, whoever’s still here should probably go back inside. It is a public building, anyone could get in if they had keys.”
Both couples waved and started off to cover their sections of the campus.
“What’s got you so jumpy?” Spike asked as he followed Buffy along the side of the building. He noticed she was keeping to the shadows as much as possible, and frowned. “What haven’t you told me?”
She sighed. “Nothing really. It’s just that while we were talking about having the amulet and what we needed to do to destroy it, Oz thought he heard someone listening at the doors, and when we looked, there were too many kids still at their lockers and hanging out for us to see who it might have been. Probably, it’s fine, but we already know that Snyder is working with the Mayor, and who knows how many other human minions he has. If he finds out we’ve got his amulet and that we’re going to destroy it….”
“We can expect him to try to take it back. Got it.” Having said that, he moved slightly away from her and went into game face. “Too bad wolfboy can’t control when he’s furry,” he muttered. “He’d be able to skulk places we can’t.”
“Well, he can’t. Which is probably a good thing. He wouldn’t hurt Willow, but I’m not so sure about the rest of us. He’s pretty scary when he’s a wolf.”
They continued to make their way around their half of the building, meeting Oz and Faith back on the porch.
Oz shook his head and Faith added, “No vamp vibes. You?”
“Nada,” Buffy said. “We’ll give it a couple of minutes, then take another pass. We’ll circle the whole thing this time. You guys can watch across the front. Maybe Oz will smell or hear something.”
Spike nudged Buffy. “Any time you’re ready, Slayer.”
“’K, let’s go. Same deal as before – if we don’t show up—”
“We’ll know you stopped to have a quickie,” Faith said with a smirk.
Spike laughed at Buffy’s blush. “I like the way you think, Slayer Two.”
“I don’t!” Buffy snapped, embarrassed that Oz had heard them. “Let’s go.”
She started off in the opposite direction from the first time, almost forgetting to keep to the shadows in her anger.
“Easy, love. Thought we were being all sneaky-like?” Spike’s voice in her ear reminded her of their mission, and she slowed down and moved closer to the wall.
“We are.” She glanced up at him. “Guess I wasn’t being all that subtle, huh?”
“No worries, pet. It’s not like we were invisible all standing out there on that porch together. If anybody’s watching, they already know what we’re doing and that we aren’t inside.”
“Great. So much for sneaky.”
They continued their patrol, Spike using his eyes and ears, and Buffy extending her senses and hoping Spike’s signature wouldn’t block any other vamp vibes. They paused at the far end of the building when they saw what should have been a locked door to the gym standing open. Spike put a hand out to stop Buffy and sniffed the air, listening and staring around with amber eyes. They crept up to the door, and he listened for a few seconds. Without speaking, he touched her arm and signaled with his head to retreat around the corner.
Still without conversation, they ran as fast as they could back to the door to the library, to find Faith and Oz waiting for them and holding the door open. The speed with which Spike and Buffy returned, as well as Spike’s vampire mien, made conversation unnecessary.
“Inside. Now.” Spike held the door while Buffy, Faith, and Oz slipped inside and waited for him to shut and lock it. As soon as the others saw what he was doing, they were on their feet and grabbing weapons from Giles’s office, while Buffy and Faith began piling furniture in front of the swinging doors leading into the main part of the high school.
Giles immediately took his place in front of his office where the amulet and the items needed for the ritual were set out on his desk. He glanced at his watch, frowning when he saw that it was only ten o’clock and much too early to do the destruction spell.
Wesley stared around in both amazement and confusion as the teenagers, including Cordelia, all armed themselves with crossbows and joined Giles in front of his office door. It wasn’t until they were all in place that Buffy quickly filled them in on what they’d found.
“There’s no way that door opened itself,” she said with a sigh. “I guess that means there was somebody listening earlier today.” She gestured to the swinging doors in front of which they’d piled furniture. “That should slow them down. With luck, you’ll be able to pick them off as they come through.”
Spike whirled toward the front door at the same time Oz stared intently at the doors into the school.
“Incoming, Slayers. Can hear them down the hall and outside, so they’ll be coming from both directions.”
“I suggest you arm yourself, Wesley,” Giles said when the young watcher just stood by the table full of books looking bewildered.
“But… but we have two slayers here.” When Wesley noticed that Spike was wearing his fangs and taking his place with Buffy and Faith as they spaced themselves out facing the doors into the high school as well as the exterior door, he somewhat grudgingly added, “And a vampire.”
“And we don’t know how many vamps and demons are waiting to come through those doors. Buffy and Faith… and Spike… may be quite busy. It will be up to the rest of us to prevent the loss of the amulet and any loss of life.”
Wesley grew a little pale, but resolutely pulled a stake from his pocket. He frowned when he saw that Oz, Xander and Cordelia were armed with cross bows and had placed themselves where they could shoot in any direction while not leaving Giles alone to guard his office. With an embarrassed flush, he put the stake away and took up one of the swords stacked behind Giles. He glanced around, then joined Cordelia close to the door, leaving Oz and Xander to form a first line of defense behind Faith, now facing the swinging doors.
The doors began to shake as the attackers realized they weren’t going to be able to use surprise against those inside. They snarled and shouted as they tried to push the doors open. As soon as there was a big enough opening, a vampire shoved his way through, only to be met with Faith’s sword. He dusted before his head had even fallen to the ground, but there was another one right behind him.
Meanwhile, the exterior door swung open, a set of school keys dangling from the hand of the first vamp through it. Buffy swung her sword and cut off his hand before removing his head. Spike was already facing the windows, ready when a blue-scaled demon burst through in a shower of glass. He ran his own sword through its chest, then dropped the sword behind him to meet the next one through with fists and fangs.
With the minions trying to get in the swinging doors from the hallway forced to come through one or two at a time, Faith left them for the Scoobies to pick off with their crossbows while she joined Buffy and Spike in taking on the ones pouring in the doors and windows. Even without the benefit of surprise, the sheer numbers appeared daunting at first. But the two slayers and Spike worked smoothly together, slowing down the rush as those outside began to understand that what awaited them in the building was sudden death.
As the Scoobies began running out of bolts to shoot from the crossbows, they picked up the swords left for them near the office door and formed a sharply pointed wall in front of Giles’s office. All except Cordelia, who threw her now-useless crossbow at an approaching vampire’s head before ducking behind Giles and into the office. Wesley began swinging his sword, somewhat inexpertly, hoping to remove, if not a head, at least an important body part. Alas for him, the vamp he slashed at was holding a chair as a shield and the sword went into the wood and got stuck there.
Seeing the dwindling numbers of attackers coming in the door and windows, Spike moved in front of the human defenders and removed the prematurely celebrating vamp’s head. Waving off the dust, he handed that sword to Wesley, instructing, “Hang on to the bloody thing this time, won’t you?”
“But you have no weapon now,” Wesley said, clinging to the new sword never the less.
“Don’t need one for these wankers. Got all I need right here.” He gave Wesley a fangy grin before he turned and punched an incoming vampire in the face without even seeming to look at him. He grabbed the dazed vamp and threw him toward Xander. “Here you go, Harris. Don’t say I never gave you anything.”
“Nightmares? Ruined nights? Stop me when I get to something I might actually want from you, Spike.” In spite of his words, Xander easily beheaded the thrown vampire while he was still in midair.
Wesley watched in awe and horror as Spike single-handedly prevented most of the vampires coming through the not-quite-fully-opened doors from getting within sword range of the humans behind him. Those that did were quickly handled by Giles or Xander or Oz. Willow had found a super soaker and was shooting holy water at them. A snarl from Spike when she got too close to him, splashing the side of his face, brought an “Eep!” and “Sorry!” from her.
Wesley had let his own sword’s point drop toward the floor as he watched Spike fighting with what could only be called joy. That joyful expression faded quickly when Buffy came sliding into him, temporarily knocked off her feet by a demon’s powerful blow. Ignoring the vampires in front of him, Spike leaped on the back of the demon that had struck her, snarling his rage.
“Slayers, switch!” he shouted as he began pulling the demon’s horns back to expose the unprotected throat.
“Like hell!” Buffy said, leaping to her feet. “He’s mine!”
“Not if I kill him first,” Spike answered as he sank his fangs into the throat in front of him. The demon reached up with both huge paws and grabbed Spike, lifting him in the air and ignoring the way Spike’s fangs were embedded in his throat, tossing him into the wall. He was still bleeding from Spike’s bite when he turned toward Faith, but Buffy brought her sword across the back of the demon’s knees, then whacked it across his bloody neck when he fell. It took two tries to get the head off, but it eventually rolled away.
A dazed Spike looked up from the floor to see Faith extending her hand.
“Ta, pet,” he said, letting her pull him to his feet and shaking his head to clear it. “Did I win?”
“You wish,” she said with a laugh. “Buffy killed him. But you can have that one,” she added, pointing behind him to where another, smaller but armored, demon was just entering the library.
With the attack winding down, and fewer and fewer vamps and demons trying to get in, Spike took his time working out his embarrassment over being thrown across the room on his new opponent. He quickly identified the demon’s underarm area as the only unprotected spot on his body, but avoided hitting him there until he’d relieved his frustrations and Buffy reminded him that they were still in a battle.
“Come on, Spike. Quit playing. We’re not done here.” She tossed him a sword, which he snatched out of the air and plunged into the demon’s armpit.
“Sorry, love.” His apology was barely out when Faith went to the door and peered outside.
“I think we’re about done here,” she said. “I don’t see anything but a couple of vamps slinking off.”
“Well, looks like these guys didn’t get the memo. Let’s take it to them and be done with it.” Buffy pointed toward the now mostly-open doors to the main building. She glanced at Giles and took a quick look to make sure no one was injured badly. “Will you be okay here if we do some clean-up in the halls?”
Giles looked around at the sword-wielding teenagers and Wesley. “I think we’ll be fine, Buffy. But don’t allow yourselves to get pulled into a trap. It appears we’ve decimated their numbers, but that doesn’t mean there are no more of them.”
“Way ahead of you, Watcher,” Spike said. “We’ll do a quick hall-clearing, door locking, and be back in time for supper.”
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