As Buffy, Faith, and Spike started down the hallway, Faith said, “I’d say we should split up, but I haven’t spent enough time in this building to be able to find my way back.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Buffy rolled her eyes. “It’s not like this is as big as my high school in LA. That one you could get lost in. Sunnydale High only has a couple of new wings. Everything else is gym, cafeteria, library, or a classroom off one of these main halls.”
“Slayer even knows her way around here through the ceiling,” Spike snorted.
Buffy pushed Spike against the lockers. “And whose fault was that? You shouldn’t be reminding me.”
Her glare was only half-serious and he laughed as he put his arm around her. “If I thought you’d forgotten about it, I wouldn’t be remindin’ you, but we both know you remember it perfectly well. Right up to when your mum hit me with that fire axe.”
“More Buffy-Spike history I don’t know?” Faith said with a grimace. “And how did your mom get into it?”
“Had her dead to rights until Joyce stepped in and whacked me on the head with an axe. Saved Buffy’s life and gave me a little taste of what I was taking on here in Sunnyhell.”
“He beat you? He would have killed you?” Faith gave Spike another look that was part anger and part reluctant admiration.
“He’d like to think so,” Buffy huffed. “It’s not like I was planning to lay there and let him hit me with that piece of the wall.”
“But he could have? He beat you in a fight?”
“He was winning… but it was temporary.”
By now both slayers were glaring at him, and Spike backed away. “Right you are, love. You’d have been on your feet and kicking my arse, Mum or no Mum. I’m just going to go this way, yeah? Won’t have any trouble finding my way back, I’ll just follow my ears and nose.”
Without further conversation, he hurried down a side corridor and away from the two glaring slayers. “Touchy bints,” he muttered to himself. “It’s not like they don’t dust dozens of my kind every night.”
Buffy and Faith exchanged looks, then burst into giggles as they continued toward the cafeteria. They sobered when they came upon the body of the night janitor, his throat torn open and his… green? blood spilled on the floor.
“Oh, poor Cletus. I forgot all about the night time cleaning staff.”
“Looks like ‘poor Cletus’ was a demon of some sort,” Faith said, approaching the body and studying it closely. “I’m surprised you never noticed that.”
Buffy joined her in looking at the janitor she’d barely paid any attention to. “He doesn’t look very demony… except for the green blood. I guess he’s one of the ones Spike told me about that passes for human. He said there are a lot them who do night work that humans won’t do.”
“I wonder if that’s who was listening at the door this afternoon?”
“I kinda hope he was. Then I won’t feel so bad about letting him get killed.” Buffy bit her lip, but shrugged when Faith rolled her eyes. “Fine. I’ll just assume he got what was coming to him for helping the mayor… or Snyder. That’s probably who he told.”
“Doesn’t look like he’s been dead very long. I wonder if—” Faith was interrupted by the sound of running feet. Both slayers sprinted down the hall in the direction of the footsteps, slowing down when they realized the vampires were moving too fast to be caught. They jogged to the open gym door, on alert for any stragglers, but fairly certain the remaining vampires were on their way back to report the failed mission.
Buffy closed the door and locked it from the inside, hoping they had already captured the only missing keys. They pulled one of the bleachers in front of it, just in case, giggling over the surprise the PE department was going to have in the morning.
“They’ll just think some of the football players were pranking them,” Buffy said. “Or some other explanation that doesn’t involve two girls moving something that big.”
They did a quick glance into all the classrooms on the way back to the library, but felt no trace of any vampires left in their part of the building. As they reached the library, it occurred to Buffy that she couldn’t even feel Spike. She frowned and looked around, peering down the nearest corridor.
“I can’t feel Spike. If he’s on his way back here, I should be able to feel him by now.”
“I guess this isn’t a good time to make a crack about what parts of him you want to be feeling,” Faith said, even as she frowned in sympathy and extended her own slayer senses.
“I wouldn’t,” Buffy said tersely. “Why don’t you go on in and make sure everybody’s okay. I’m just going to take another look around to see if I can find Spike.” Without waiting to see if Faith would obey, Buffy jogged off in the direction Spike had taken when he left them.
She grew more and more concerned the farther away she got from the main hallway, stopping to look into every classroom and trying to feel the strong tingles that meant Spike. Her relief when she finally felt him was short-lived as she turned a corner and found him tied to a pole, head down and apparently unconscious. Her only warning that they weren’t alone, aside from some vague tingles, came from a dark corner of the hallway.
“I want my amulet, Slayer. Bring it to me and your pet vampire won’t be returned to you in a dustpan.”
Buffy strained her eyes, but all she could see was a somewhat darker blob huddled in the corner.
“Who or what the hell are you?” She was pleased to hear that her voice didn’t tremble, but was the cold, lethal voice of an angry slayer.
“That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you prevented my minions from bringing it to me, and now you’ve almost lost it to my oldest enemy. I am not happy with you.”
“Yeah, well, making demons happy… Balthazar… isn’t really in my job description.”
“Really? I was given to understand the vampire has some value to you. Is that not true?”
“Oh, that’s true,” Buffy said, moving to be closer to Spike. “That’s why I’m thinking about killing you the slow way….” She could see that Spike was regaining consciousness and she moved behind him to release his bonds.
“Those are strong enough to hold a vampire,” Balthazar sneered. “You can’t—”
Buffy yanked the ropes against the pole, muttering an apology to Spike when his arms were pulled more tightly. On the second yank, they had stretched enough to drop to the floor, freeing Spike. Although obviously still somewhat dazed, he whirled to snarl into the corner.
“Get them!” Showing that he still had a few minions, Balthazar’s cry brought several sword-wielding vampires out of the shadows. Buffy had little time to wonder why she hadn’t felt them, before she was using her own sword to good advantage.
“Have you got this, Slayer?” Ignoring the vamps, already reduced in numbers by Buffy’s counterattack, Spike stalked toward the shadow shrinking back into the corner, snarling “...try to put a thrall on me…”.
“We’ve got this,” Faith said, throwing her stake into a vampire’s back and picking up his sword out of the dust. “You two just can’t stay out of trouble, can you?”
“Who’s minding the store?” Buffy asked. “Not that I don’t appreciate the help, but—”
While they talked, Buffy and Faith made short work of Balthazar’s remaining minions.
“Looks like this was the scrub team. Not as hard to kill as the first ones we met.” Buffy stopped moving and waited for Faith to answer her question.
Faith shrugged. “Turns out Willow’s pet wolf can get all toothy and furry if he thinks somebody’s trying to hurt her. Stupid new watcher yelled at her and tried to take a book away. She wasn’t hurt, but she lost her balance and sort of fell against the wall.”
“Uh oh.” Buffy dropped her blade to her side.
“Yeah. Wesley’s hiding in Giles’s office with everybody except Willow. She’s standing by the door and wolfboy is standing in front of her sounding like a junkyard dog.”
“He didn’t hurt anybody?”
“Nah. Willow stopped him before he could bite Mr. Stick-up-my-ass. Now he’s just blocking the door”
“We should get back there. Come on, Spike, either kill this guy or let me do it.” Buffy approached the corner, straining her eyes to see what was there.”
“Got a better idea,” Spike said. “Let’s just put him out where Hiz Honor can find him, and let them thrash it out.”
“I like how you think, Mr. Bloody.” Faith beamed her approval as Buffy ducked into a nearby room where work was being done and grabbed a painter’s tarp. Between the three of them, they managed to get it over the shapeless blob now shrieking curses in several demon languages. When he was wrapped up and they could no longer hear his threats to show them how powerful he was, they dragged him to the door and out on to the school grounds.
“Front of building,” Buffy grunted, pulling on her corner of the tarp. “Where he’ll be easy to find.”
They rounded the corner to find themselves face-to-face with Deputy Mayor Finch and several vampires that were trying very hard not to appear unwilling to be there, but failing miserably as they remained behind him.
“Just the slimy toad we wanted to see,” Buffy said.
“Have you had enough? Are you willing to give me the amulet now?”
He frowned when all three of the powerful people facing him laughed.
“Guess you missed the memo. You lost. But we’ve got something even better,” Spike said, handing his corner of the tarp to one of the minions. “A present for your boss.”
Finch peered into an open corner of the tarp. “What is this?” He shrank back at the invective that flowed from the opening.
“That’s Balthazar. He and your boss are old mates. He’ll be glad to see him. I promise.”
Finch shrugged and gestured for the minions to being hauling the tarp toward a waiting van. “I’ll need the amulet now,” he said. “Or I’ll be forced to call in another attack.”
“Knock yourself out,” Faith laughed. “You might have a few minions left that we haven’t already dusted.”
“You have no idea what resources we have,” he blustered.
“Pretty sure we do,” Buffy said. “But you’re welcome to come in and count the piles of dust, if you need….” She glanced at Spike. “What’s that word I’m looking for that means I’m telling the truth?”
“Affirmation,” he replied with a grin.
Buffy made a face. “That’s such a Giles word.”
Finch watched the exchange, his eyes going back and forth between them. He yelped and jumped with Faith came up behind him and goosed him.
“Give it up, wannabe boy. Take your prezzie back to your boss and tell him he lost this round.”
Without another word, all three walked to the Library porch and watched as the van drove away.
“What do think?”
“I don’t think that old demon’s going to give up easily,” Spike said as he held the door for the girls. “But if we can get rid of that ugly thing he needs to become immortal, he won’t be ascending any time soon, and that gives us more time to bring him down.”
When their entrance was greeted by a snarling wolf, Spike stepped in front of Buffy and Faith.
“Down boy,” he growled. “We’re here, you can go back to your usual nerdy self.”
Wolf and vampire held each other’s gaze long enough for Buffy to begin readying herself to intervene, but with a sigh and a vigorous shake, Oz began to change back to a human. Willow was right there to hand him his pants, keeping her eyes carefully averted. Buffy also turned away, but Faith just watched with interest as he quickly pulled the rest of his clothes on.
As soon as Oz was dressed and back to normal, Giles emerged from his office, rolling his eyes when Wesley sidled past him to get as far away from Oz as he could.
“What is our current situation? What was taking so long?” Giles looked at Buffy, then back and forth between Faith and Spike.
The three warriors, who had been fighting almost non-stop since the beginning of the attack by the Mayor’s minions, threw themselves into chairs and sighed. They exchanged glances, but it was obvious Spike and Faith were expecting Buffy to do the talking.
“We had another bunch of demons and vamps that wanted the amulet.”
“Balthazar,” Spike said tersely.
“Balthazar? He’s here?” Wesley seemed to suddenly forget to be nervous about Oz as he brushed past him to confront Spike.
“Not anymore, he isn’t,” Buffy said. “We sent him off to visit with his old buddy the Mayor.”
“I don’t understand…”
“And we’re all shocked by that news….” Spike muttered, not quite enough under his breath. Buffy glared at him, but Faith laughed aloud and even Giles snorted.
Choosing to converse with the only one not mocking him, Wesley asked Buffy, “Why did you let him go?”
“We didn’t ‘let him go’, so calm down,” Buffy said. “He and the Mayor are enemies, remember? Aren’t you the one who found that information?” She waved her hand when Wesley looked as if he might argue. “Doesn’t matter. The point is, we know they hate each other because they both want to use the amulet to ascend. We gave him—”
“Neatly trussed up,” Spike put in.
“— to the Deputy Mayor to take back to his boss. With a little luck, one of them will kill the other one, and even if they don’t kill each other, it should keep them busy until we’ve smashed the amulet.”
“Which it is almost time to do,” Giles said. He gestured toward his office. “We’re all set up for the ritual.” He glanced back at the three defenders sprawled in their chairs. “If we could prevail upon you one more time to see that we are not interrupted…”
“Yeah. Yeah. We’ve got this. Go do your magicky thing.” Buffy stood up and stretched, pulling Spike to his feet. When he swayed for a second, she frowned. “Are you okay? What did that slimy thing do to you before I got there?”
“I’ll be all right, love.” Spike smiled at her concern. “Just still a bit woozy and could use some blood soon’s we can find some....” While showing Buffy a previously hidden gash in his side, he let his hungry gaze wander to Wesley, who immediately retreated to the office. With a snort, Spike touched Buffy’s cheek. “I’m good to go, Slayer, but might hang back and watch you and Two in action if I’m not needed.”
Willow spoke up, giving Spike a hopeful smile. “If the stories we found about Balthazar and the Mayor are right, maybe nobody’s going to be needed. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?” She glanced up as Giles called to her from his office.
“Wilow, we need you in here now, please. It is time.”
Buffy and Faith patrolled between the exterior door, the broken windows, and the doors leading into the main building, and Spike leaned against the table, sword dangling by his side. Meanwhile, the others crowded into Giles’s office and began following instructions. Their chanting soon rose to a crescendo then died. There was silence for a few moments, then Giles emerged, followed by a complaining Xander, and held out his hand to Spike.
“I believe you were the first to offer to crush the amulet?”
“Yeah, Fangface has dibs….”
Spike glanced at Xander’s disgruntled face. “I do like to smash things. But Harris has bigger feet than I do. Let him have the honors.”
Xander’s eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed. “Why? Do you think something’s going to happen to me if I step on it?”
Cordelia’s “Xander, don’t be stupid” was followed by similar comments from the other Scoobies, but Spike just rolled his eyes.
“Bloody hell. Just give it here, Rupert.” He snatched it from Giles’s still outstretched hand and threw it to the floor, bringing one booted heel down on it as hard as he could. There was a tense silence until he lifted his foot to reveal the crushed amulet lying in pieces.
“Ladies?” Spike looked at Buffy and Faith, but they shook their heads.
“I think that’s more of a guy thing,” Buffy said. “Let Xander finish it off.”
Xander brought his own foot down on the small pieces, twisting and turning until it was obviously nothing but dust. With a satisfied smile, he nodded at Spike and Giles.
“I think that got it,” he said.
“So it seems. A good day—night’s work, everyone. I believe we can all go home for some well-deserved rest now. Although, I do suggest we leave in a group. Just in case.”
Giles glanced around and made a half-hearted attempt to straighten up the library’s furniture as he walked to the door. Then he shrugged, saying, “This is probably Principal Snyder’s fault, I’ll let him worry about clean-up.”
They all laughed in agreement as they left the building. Buffy and Spike stood quietly watching as Xander and Willow got safely into Giles’s car. Cordelia refused to join them, accepting Wesley’s offer of a ride and following him to his rental car.
“Guess I’m walking,” Faith said.
“We’re all walkin’,” Spike replied. “C’mon, ladies, let’s get you home.”
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