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Almost Home by slaymesoftly
Chapter Eleven
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“How… what…?”
“Which part of ‘we’ll be watching you’ are you gits finding so confusin’?” Spike growled.
“But we’ve been so careful…”
“What was careful about sending one to my mom’s gallery?” Buffy demanded. “And almost getting her shot, by the way.”
“Your mom’s­­—Oh god… The art gallery. J. Summers is your mother?”
Jonathan gave a soft moan.
“Why did you send one there?” Buffy asked again. “Are you stupid?”
Jonathan shook his head. “Andrew didn’t know your mother owned an art gallery. He thought it was a good choice. How did you know?” 
Spike snorted.
“The blithering idiots he hired to find the statue couldn’t figure out how to do it. They were still there when we came by to help with the big crates. The wanker that was pointing a gun at Buffy’s mum is currently in critical care. The other one’ll be spilling his guts to the cops as soon as he can talk again.”
“We wondered why it wasn’t here yet.”
“Oh, it’s here, but you’ll never see it. And we have the one Rack was holding for you too.”  Buffy glared at him, hands on hips. “Any time you want to start spilling your guts, we’re listening. ‘Cause, right now? I don’t much care if that guy digging his way out behind you has you for his first meal or not.”
Jonathan whirled around so fast he lost his balance and fell face down right in front of the hand clawing its way out of the dirt. He gave a small scream and scrambled backwards like a crab. Spike grabbed him by his collar and lifted him to his feet, shaking him until his eyes rolled back in his head.
“Enough fun and games,” he snarled, his yellow eyes making it clear how serious he was. “What are you planning to do with those ugly little paperweights, how many do you need to do whatever it is, and how many do you have now?” He paused to watch Buffy stake the new vampire that was just emerging from the grave, then turned his attention back to Jonathan. “And where can we find them?”
“We—Andrew thinks he can use them to summon Acathla back to this realm.”
“What gave him that idea?” Buffy demanded. “And why the hell would he want to?”
“He said if he can bring the big one back, he’ll be able to control a portal to…. somewhere.”
“Hell,” Buffy said flatly. “The portal goes to demon Hell.  And he won’t be able to control it, trust me. He can ask Angel about that if he’s curious.”
“An…Angel? Isn’t that the guy you were dating when we were in high school?” Jonathan cast a worried look at Spike who was growling under his breath.
“He lost his soul for a while and reverted to Angelus. A big part of The Scourge of Europe. He thought it would be a cool idea to open Acathla’s portal and let him pull the whole world into hell. The only way to stop it once it was opening, was with his blood.”
Jonathan looked around in bewilderment. “Then why aren’t we all…dead or something?”
“Because the Slayer put a sword through his evil heart and shoved him into the portal,” Spike said with a growl. “Broke her little teen-aged heart, but saved the bloody world and all the useless gits in it… like you,” he added in case Jonathan missed his message.
“You killed your boyfriend?” Jonathan looked at Buffy with wide eyes that narrowed as he remembered their senior year. “But I saw him again. At Prom. You were dancing with him.”
“The Powers That Be sent him back after he’d been in hell for a long time. I had nothing to do with it.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “None of which is any of your business,” she said, with a quick glare at Spike. “The point is, Acathla is well and truly gone to his hell dimension, and he’s not coming back. And if he does, I’ll send him to hell again,” she muttered under her breath.
“He can’t come back?”
“Were you paying attention, you ignorant wanker? The portal closed when she shoved Angelus into it. And her watcher made sure the statue was pounded into dust and gravel.”
“So we can’t bring him back?”
“Why the bleedin’ fuck would you want to?” Spike turned away in disgust. “Let’s just kill him and be done with, Slayer.”
“No! No, no,” Jonathan said quickly. “No, I get it. It would be very bad. We didn’t know it could end the world. Andrew said it would allow him to bring a demon through any time we needed one for something.”
“What would you need a demon for?” Buffy asked. “Sending it to rob a bank for you?”
Jonathan paled again. “How did you…?”
“You’d be surprised what we know,” Buffy said. “Now answer our questions. How many of these little ones do you have? How many more are on their way here?”
Jonathan sighed and slumped to the ground. “We only have one. The first one we got from Rack. Andrew hasn’t had time to pick up the other two yet.” He hesitated. “I guess if you have them….”
“You’ll never see them,” Buffy assured him. “How many more are coming?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I know Andrew thinks he’s found a couple more, but we can’t afford to order them until we get some more money.”
“I want those sites—where Andrew thinks he can get more of them.”
“I don’t know them… Really!” he added when then both glared at him.  “But I’ll get them for you. I promise.”
“Even better, why don’t we just walk you home and we’ll all wait for Andrew to show up.”
Jonathan opened his mouth as if to object, then took a deep breath and stood up. “All right,” he agreed. “I told him we weren’t going to get away with it anyway.”
“Good call,” Spike growled. “Not goin’ to get away with much else either,” he said.
Buffy whirled on Jonathan. “Yeah, that invisibility thing? Don’t even think about it!”
“That’s more Warren’s­—wait! How do you even know….” He stared at Buffy with wide eyes. “You’re scary,” he said. “And I mean that in a good way.”
“Just hold that thought,” she muttered, realizing she was going to have to be careful.
I forgot how smart these guys are in some ways. We’re going to have to be careful what we say we know.
Got it, love. If Wes could guess it so easily, I reckon nerds that play around with robots and ray guns could also consider the possibility.
If nothing else, they’ll do like Angel did and think we can see the future somehow. We’re just going to have to be really careful.
When Andrew walked in the door of the small house he was sharing with Jonathan, he was talking so fast he was all the way into the living room before he spotted his guests.
“You’re not going to believe this, Jon-boy! I went to pick up our— Eeeek!”
“Hi, Andrew. Come in and sit down so we can talk to you.”
Buffy’s smile was so obviously fake, Andrew whirled around to leave, only to run into Spike’s chest. From which was coming a deep snarl….
“Don’t even think about it, wanker,” Spike said, shoving him away and into the room. “Slayer told you to sit down, so sit down!”
“Y… you can’t hurt me. Warren said so. He said you have a chip in your head and if you try to hurt me—”
Spike snatched Andrew off the floor by the front of his shirt and pulled him close enough to run one fang down the side of his face. “You really need to stop believing everything that corpse-waiting-to-happen says,” he growled, licking his bloody lips as he dropped the now-crying man. “We told you he lies to you and he’s using you—both of you stupid gits.”
The sight of the small Acathla on the floor at Buffy’s feet, made Andrew’s eyes get even wider and more frightened. He stared at Jonathan.
“What have you done?” he said.  “They can’t know about those!”
“’They’ already do know about them,” Buffy said. “In fact, we have two more just like it that we got from Rack and from….’ She stood up and loomed over Andrew who’d slid the floor when Spike released him. “….my mother’s store!”
Andrew cringed against the wall. “Your… your what?”
Rather than repeat what he’d already told Jonathan about what happened, Spike just snarled, “One of your incompetent employees is in ICU and the other is in jail. When he can talk again, he’ll be spilling his guts about who hired them.”
“Why… why can’t he talk now? And why is one in the hospital?”
“Because the Slayer and I walked in and caught them tryin’ to rob the store. Slayer didn’t take well to seeing some low-life wanker threatening her mother with a gun. Since she took it upon herself to see how much of a beating he could take before croaking, I had to settle for throttling the other one.”
Andrew blanched. “They weren’t supposed to rob anybody. Just break in, find the statue and bring it to me.” He peered up at Buffy. “I thought you didn’t hurt humans?”
Buffy exchanged exasperated looks with Spike. “What is wrong with these people? Don’t they get that I fight evil? All kinds of evil?” She glared back at Andrew. “I don’t kill people. Not on purpose, anyway,” she added, remembering the Knight of Byzantium that she’d fought in their time. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t do whatever it takes to stop them from being evil.” 
She turned her icy stare on Jonathan. “And you two are well on your way to being just as evil as your buddy Warren. Anything he does, with help from you, makes you just as guilty as he is.”
Casting a frightened look at Spike, Andrew then asked Buffy, “So, what you’re saying is…. we aren’t safe from you just because we’re… you know…. human beings?  What about Spike’s chip?”
“Chip might have reached its expiration date,” Spike growled. “And so will you if you don’t listen to the Slayer.”  He snorted. “And if you think being human makes you safe when you do something stupid or evil….” He shrugged. “You obviously haven’t been paying attention. You might want to check in with your hired help… if he’s off the critical list yet….”
“Just so you know, we knew it was you because the guy in jail told us. He might not know your name, but that doesn’t mean the police aren’t going to figure it out too.”  Buffy smirked at him. “Just in case you want to get a lawyer now.”
“This is all Warren’s fault!” Jonathan blurted out. “He’s the one who said we could do whatever we want because the cops are stupid and you’re only interested in vampires and demons.”
Buffy rolled her eyes again. “When you started using demons to commit crimes, who did you think would be the one to investigate it?”  She shook her head and stood up. “This is pretty much your last warning,” she said, handing the Acathla statue to Spike. “You can blame Warren all you want—and trust me, he’s going to get a visit too—but the bottom line is, you guys are responsible for whatever you do. He’s not forcing you to do this stuff with him. Either smarten up and stop trying to be evil, or suffer the consequences. He will,” she added almost under her breath.
“Before we leave, let’s have a little chat about what you want with mini-Acathlas, and how many more of the bloody things are on the way here?”
Andrew and Jonathan exchanged resigned looks then sighed.
“You tell them.”
“No, you tell them.”
“You should tell them.”
“You’re the one who wants them. I told you it was a bad idea.”
“You’re always saying things are a bad idea!”
“Because they always are!”
Spike slammed the small statue down onto a table, cracking the wooden top and leaving bits of stone dust on it, and bringing their bickering to a halt.
“Argue about who’s the biggest git later. Just answer the question.”
Andrew’s expression settled into a frightened pout. “I have one more on the way—but it’s supposed to go to… to a friend’s….”
“Not happening,” Buffy said. “Your friend Rack is out of business, and his place is closed… permanently.”
Spike laughed at the dismayed look on Andrew’s face.
“Assuming you actually had all these ugly little things, what did you think you could do with them? And just so you know? Bringing the big guy back isn’t possible.”
“I… I don’t know, exactly. But if I had enough of them, I think I could figure out how to open a portal and bring through demons from somewhere else.” He glanced at Buffy apologetically. “I thought maybe they’d be harder for you to fight, and they’d keep you busy while we—” He stopped himself by putting a hand over his mouth.
“While. You. What?” Buffy said, slowly and carefully. “What are you planning that you needed me out of the way for?”
Andrew just stared at her, clearly appalled at himself and with no idea what to say next. When he just continued to stare, Jonathan jumped to his feet.
“For God’s sake, just tell them!” he said, turning to look at Spike. “Warren wants her out of the way so he can get the materials he needs for something he’s trying to make that he needs to practice using.”
“Which is….?”
Jonathan shook his head. “I don’t really know. He has lots of idea and inventions in the works. He doesn’t tell us everything, he just tells us what he needs for whatever he’s working on.”
What do you think, love?
I’d like to tell them we know what he’s planning to do, but­—
But, they might figure us out. Let me try something….
Spike rolled his eyes up to the ceiling and pretended to be thinking.
“Let’s see, we’ve got one mad scientist/inventor-type bloke who’s a slime ball. We know he makes robots… Could be more of those, I reckon. Another robot girlfriend? A definite possibility. But what else might he try for, hmmm? Maybe, I dunno, a time machine?” He shook his head. “Nah, that’s probably not possible. A ray gun?” He stroked his chin as if he was still thinking. “Cameras to spy on people? A cloak of invisibility? Something to enslave women?”
He snorted. “It’s not as if any of you losers are going to have actual girlfriends unless they’re mechanical or bespelled somehow. That’d be my guess. You’re all hoping he’ll invent something to get you laid.” 
Buffy glared at Jonathan. “You know all about using spells to rape women, don’t you?”
“What?  No! I never—” He seemed genuinely shocked.
“Really? So when you tried to make yourself all wonder boy a couple of years ago, those twin girls were already dating you? You didn’t need a spell to get them to move in?”
His face drained of color. “But I didn’t… I mean I guess I would have… but you stopped me. I didn’t do anything to them!”
“Only because Spike told you to break the spell or he’d break you,” Buffy said. “I’m so disappointed in you, Jonathan. I’m starting to think I should have let you shoot yourself way back when.”
“Shoot yourself?” Andrew looked at Jonathan with curiosity. “And what twins? Where was I?”
“Shut up, Andrew,” Jonathan said. “You were probably in diapers for all I know.”
“The point is, whatever Warren’s planning, I’m going to be watching for it. And if you’re smart, you’ll let me know what it is as soon as you know. Unless you want to go down with him. That could be arranged….” Buffy walked toward the door.
Tossing the little stone statue up and down as if it weighed no more than a tennis ball, Spike flashed his fangs at them one more time for emphasis as he joined Buffy at the door. “And don’t even think about trying to set fire to our apartment. You’ve got no idea what a bad idea that would be.”
With that final warning, they walked out, pausing for Spike to smash the camera on the porch.
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know. They’re scared of us right now, but who knows if they’ll stay that way after Warren gets hold of them again?”
There was silence as they walked through town, until Buffy finally said with a sigh, “I know what you’re thinking.”
“The bugger died in our time anyway, didn’t he? Would you rather Willow did it and had to live with that?”
“I’d rather nobody had to live with it.”
“You may not get that choice, love. We’ve seen enough to know that by now.”
“If he’s not dead, the First Evil won’t be able to use him to make Andrew kill Jonathan and let out the first Turokan next year.”
“If the First Evil wants to manipulate Andrew, I suspect he’s got more than one way to do it. The boy’s a complete fool.”
“He really is, isn’t he? I’d almost forgotten what he was like before he decided to be not-evil.”
“Andrew goes whichever way the wind blows,” Spike growled. “Wouldn’t trust him any farther than Dawn could throw him.”
“Let’s get home with our new artwork,” Buffy said. “Maybe we can sit him in the windowsill like a flowerpot.”
“Halloween’s over, pet,” Spike laughed. “He’d scare people away.”
“Maybe I can put a Santa hat on him,” she mused.
“Or maybe Wes will have given Giles more information and we’ll know if we should just have a statue smashing party, or if we need to hang on to them for some reason.”
“Or that. Either way, I guess it can wait ‘til tomorrow.”
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