Showing that he had already received some powers from the First, Caleb leapt at Buffy, knocking the scythe from her hand. His confusion when the scythe flew off the floor and back to Buffy’s waiting hand was genuine, and she could see the first hint of fear on his face. She grinned at him, mentally thanking Winston for that little bit of theatrics.
She swung the scythe at his head, not really surprised that he was able to duck away from it, but disappointed.
“Suck it up, Buffy,” she grumbled to herself as she and Caleb circled each other. “If it was going to be easy, anybody could have done it.”
“Afraid to face me without that weapon?” His attempt to goad her into putting it down made her roll her eyes.
“That is such a guy thing to say. Does that usually work for you? ‘Cause I gotta tell you, girls are smarter than that.” She moved toward him, holding the scythe with the stake end out and poking it at him. He jumped back, tripping over the body of his latest victim. Buffy was on him before he hit the floor, running the stake into his chest and pinning him there. She watched his eyes blacken, and pulled the stake out to switch ends, but he was already regaining his feet and he knocked her to the side with more force than he’d shown yet. With black coals for eyes, and blood dripping from the hole in his chest, he suddenly looked much more like what he was, the human extension of the First Evil. He glared out at the carnage in the room, where his army of Bringers were down to the last two facing off against Wesley and Spike.
“All yours,” Spike said when he saw Buffy struggling to her feet as Caleb turned his gaze back on her. He flew across the room and was on her left before Caleb had completed his turn.
“A vampire. I might have known a dirty girl like you would be spreading her legs to get help from a demon.” He sneered at Spike. “Not that you’ll be able to help her.”
Moving with unexpected speed, he leapt toward them, slapping Spike out of the way and using his other hand to knock the scythe loose again. Buffy’s gasp made him laugh, although he stopped laughing when she punched him into the middle of the room. Without even looking behind him, he knocked an advancing Angel off his feet and into a wall. Before Spike could rejoin Buffy, or Winston could get the scythe back to her, she was punching Caleb again, dodging around him, avoiding his blows and hitting him as often as she could.
“I don’t need help from anybody to kick your disgusting ass,” she grunted as she continued raining blows upon his head and body. When she’d punched him back to the area where she’d dropped the scythe, she paused just long enough. In one smooth motion, she bent, grabbed, and came up with it between his legs, just as she had in her own time. She watched in satisfaction as he split into two halves, both of which fell to the floor.
There was silence in the room as everyone gazed at the now bisected body bleeding out onto the floor. Buffy walked up and kicked one of the body halves far enough away to be sure they two parts couldn’t go back together. Just to be sure, she whacked the remaining head parts off both bodies and kicked them to separate corners of the large room.
“I think you got him, love,” Spike said into the stunned silence.
“Well then, I guess we can go home now, huh?” She looked at the other men in the room, all of whom were trying very hard not to look at the body she’d split in two, from the groin to the top of his head. “What?” she asked, arms akimbo.
“Nothing. Nothing at all. Just… good job, Buf-Slayer.” Wesley gazed at her with a mixture of admiration and awe. The others hurried to add their congratulations as she frowned at them.
“What do you think will happen now?” Wesley asked innocently. “We’ve taken him out of the equation for good, it seems. Will that be it?”
“Don’t know, do we?” Spike said. “We can hope so, but the First is a stubborn bastard. And he’s still got a hellmouth to play with.”
“There is that,” Winston said. “We don’t know what awaits us.”
The reminder that Angel had no idea why they might have been thinking about what to expect next, brought some embarrassed throat-clearing from Spike and Wes, and a glare from Buffy. Angel looked at Spike and growled.
“I suppose this is one of those things that Spike ‘the seer’, told you about,” he said to Buffy with a sneer. “I don’t know why you believe him. For all you know he’s been making it up as he goes along, just to keep you interested.”
“Well, it’s working. I’m interested enough to be married to him,” Buffy snapped back. She sighed and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Angel. And if I wasn’t still pissed off at you for claiming me… and for keeping it going without telling me anything about it…” She paused to glare at him. “If I wasn’t still mad about that, I might be willing to tell you why I believe everything Spike says. But I am, so I won’t. Just trust us that we know something about what we’re dealing with. I appreciate the help you gave us tonight, and I hope you can explain all this to the LAPD, but we’re going back to Sunnydale now. We might even get there in time to get some sleep tonight… if Winston lets Spike drive….” She giggled at Winston’s expression and rapid head shake.
“Will you be alright?” Spike’s question was directed at Wesley. Although Buffy’s anger at Angel was an excellent excuse for the ex-watcher becoming the contact person between Sunnydale and LA, they still weren’t sure if Angel trusted Wes or not. Only Spike had much of an idea about what was going on at Angel Investigations while they were all busy in Sunnydale trying not to end the world. And he only knew bits and pieces gathered from ghostly chats with Fred and Harmony, as well as gossip around the offices of WR&H.
“I believe I’ll be fine,” Wes said. “But thank you.”
“Of course he’ll be fine,” Angel said. “What kind of a stupid question is that?”
Spike just stared at Angel with no expression until the older vampire narrowed his eyes.
“What do you think you know? Why don’t you mind your own business?”
“Takin’ care of my friends is my business,” Spike said mildly. He transferred his attention to Wesley. “Good to know. Thanks for the information and help.”
“Yes, thanks, Wes,” Buffy said as she joined Spike. “We really appreciate all the help. This is going to make things a lot easier…. I think.”
“We can certainly hope that is the case. And you’re more than welcome, Buffy. You know you can call upon me at anytime.”
Angel’s face was a study in confusion and anger, but he didn’t ask any more questions, just growled, “Let’s go, Wes. We have our own criminals to worry about here in our own city.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at him, but didn’t argue. She just followed Winston up the stairs. She could feel Spike right behind her and worried briefly about the wisdom of turning his back on Angel. Some of her concern bled through, and Spike gave her a reassuring pat on her back.
It's alright, love. We got a lot of our need for violence out working through those Bringers. It was like the old days. Family is family. Even when one of them is a wanker. He isn’t going to stake me in the back.
You’ve got more trust in him than I do. Buffy didn’t even try to hide her grumble.
Known him a bit longer than you have, love. It’ll be fine.
Apparently Spike was right, as they all emerged onto the main floor without incident. He cocked his head at Winston, asking quietly, “Do you feel alright?”
Winston took a deep breath, exhaled, and smiled at Buffy, who was frowning as she realized why Spike was asking.
“I’m fine. I’ll admit I was hoping for a bit more of a workout, but you and Wes… and the other vampire,” he flicked his hand dismissively in Angel’s direction, “were handling things just fine. And the priest was Buffy’s to slay. I’m all right.”
Buffy could see Angel and Wes exchanging puzzled looks, as Spike and Winston walked out the door. She watched Wes’s eyes widen as he obviously remembered how Winston had handled the Bringers that interrupted the wedding. He turned to her.
Buffy shook her head. “He was here in case we needed him. We didn’t… well, except for that nifty trick with the scythe. That was pretty cool. Anyway, like he said, you guys were handling the Bringers, Caleb was mine, and there weren’t any Turok-hans to make toast, so he didn’t have to do much.”
“And that’s a problem?” Wes asked, indicating he might have more knowledge about destructive magic than she’d expected.
“He says it wasn’t. I trust him.” She gave Wes and Angel a tight smile. “And if it was, I’m not sure any of us could do anything about it. Just let it go and pretend you never heard Spike ask.”
Neither Wes nor Angel had been able to look at Winston while they were busy fighting, so they had no idea about the expression on his face while he was watching them. And only Wes seemed to understand why Spike might have been worried. Angel just blustered and glared around.
“I don’t see why you brought a mage with you, anyway. We didn’t need him for anything except to open the lock on the door. Either Spike or I could have broken that lock easily.” He snorted. “Spike probably could’ve picked it open. I don’t get what you expected him to do.”
“And you should probably hope you never find out,” Buffy said as she left the building and followed Spike and Winston. “Thanks for the help, guys. We’re going to head home now.”
“But, Buffy, we haven’t had a chance to talk about—” To Angel’s surprise, Wesley stepped on his foot. “Ow! What the hell—” He glared at Wes.
“Do you really want to remind her that she’s still angry at you for that attempt to claim her?” Wes hissed. “Get over yourself, Angel. The man/vampire in her life is Spike. Accept it.”
Angel narrowed his eyes at Wesley. “You know more about them than I do, don’t you? Like, how they could go from sworn enemies to… what they are now. And how they seem to know what’s coming. I still don’t believe Spike is a seer.”
“In a way, he is,” Wes said. “That’s all you need to know. Maybe if you can get over your tantrum about their relationship, and apologize to Buffy for what you did to her when she was so young, they’ll take you into their confidence.”
Angel and Wes watched as Buffy joined Spike and Winston at the end of the alley. Spike having heard everything they’d said, had been telling Buffy about their short conversation. She sighed deeply and turned to face them.
“It is what it is, Angel. Wes is right. Accept it.” She turned to walk away, then spun back around. “And that apology would be a damn good idea, if you can do it sincerely. Think about it.”
Without another look or word, she took Spike’s hand and they disappeared around the corner, following Winston toward his car. He didn’t seem to need any help from Spike to find it, going directly to the street it was on.. As Spike had expected, the car was untouched, although the small group of men watching from a near-by porch seemed unnecessarily interested in them.
As Winston unlocked the doors and got into the driver’s seat, the men came off the porch and surrounded Buffy and Spike. However, one glimpse of Spike’s true face sent them running back to the safety of the house, and Buffy snickered at his, “Cowardly wankers”.
“You know you were hoping you’d get to do that,” she said as they went around to the passenger side. “You can ride shotgun on the way home. I’m going to take a nap.”