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The Darkling Plain
Spike immediately made a call on his phone, keeping Nate's gaze. 'You. Meet me at Lilah's. No questions.'
He hung up.
Grimly, they set their jaws and stared at the descending numbers.
Lilah replied to the heavy knocking with her usual caution, saw who it was, and pursed her lips. 'You said in the morning.'
'I changed my mind.'
'If you try to hurt me or in any other way screw this up, the contract's void, and I take your soul. You know that.'
'Yeah. I just want to get it over with. Invite me in.'
'Whoa.' She glared at Spike who hovered in the background. 'Why's he here?'
'He's my only childe - of course he has to be here. You're freakin' joining the family.'
'Oh. Jeez. Okay.'
'I need more than that.'
'Come in. Both of you.'
Jordan immediately changed back, and with a grin, Spike stepped inside, grabbed Lilah, and propelled her to a chair. He nodded to the demon. 'Thanks, Pet. Sam now, yeah?'
Jordan nodded, narrowed his eyes at Lilah, and withdrew.
Lilah struggled and stood up, Spike letting her. There was very little she could do to stop him doing whatever he wanted, and she seemed to accept that. 'You realise that if you kill me, the contract still applies. I'm a fucking lawyer, Spike; I draw up good contracts.'
'I think you're lying. Doing it convincingly, I'll give you that, but still lying. Anyway, I'm not here to kill you. Well, I am. I'm going to give you what you want.'
Lilah jerked back. 'You? You turn me?'
Spike shrugged. 'Why not? It's what you want. You know Angel won't. You knew he wouldn't.'
'No.' She frowned and looked uncertain for the first time. 'I thought he would. I thought I'd given him no choice.'
Spike just looked at her, and slowly, she got it. She hissed between her teeth at the thought of how close she'd come to losing what she wanted.
'So. Do we deal?'
'Deal? I hold all the cards….'
'You do. But, see, you'll be dead for some considerable time. I'll have all the power then. What if I don't let you feed quite enough - how about a little watered-down demon? Would you like that? Have you seen some vampires? I'll make it so the only blood you can ever get is from sucking those you've sucked other ways first. Or, even better, just before you're quite dead, I'll disfigure you so you'll rise forever without a nose or with one eye. Does your little contract extend to all those possibilities? Did you cover every single contingency, Lilah? I don't think so. I don't think you'll risk it. We deal.'
'What do you want?'
Spike nodded at her quick acceptance of what she couldn't change. 'I want you gone from America. I don't care where you go, but Angel never sees you, hears from, or of, you.'
'Where the hell am I supposed to go? I'm an American.'
'You'll be a dead American - more acceptable in some countries. Go to sodding England and eat the natives there.'
'You don't care?'
'I care about Angel, but you know that. There is nothing I wouldn't do for him.'
She took a deep breath. 'All right.'
Spike bit his lip and caught her under the chin. 'Why, Pet? This isn't a trip to a glamorous lifestyle with fun and frolics in the moonlight. It's being forever damned, forever living with the lowlife of every city.'
She chuckled. 'Yeah. Russell Winters was very low life. I've made all the provisions I need, Spike. I've planned this with the precision I plan everything else.'
'Except for Angel killing himself . Yeah. Great planning.'
'I find Angel difficult to understand, I'll admit that.'
Spike laughed ruefully. 'Join the club, Luv. So… one more question: why?'
She pursed her lips and gave him a frank look, as if weighing him up.
'I've got lung cancer.'
'Oh! Shit. Jesus.' Suddenly, he turned away. She caught at his arm. 'It won't stop you doing it, will it? Shit, Spike, I can't….'
He turned back and held her shoulders. 'No. Of course not. Sorry. It's a fucking strange world sometimes.'
She gave him her usual bravado. 'Thought you'd come out with something about justice for the wicked.'
Spike smiled at her. 'I never seem to be able to see the full extent of that wickedness, Lilah. Now, come on, Pet. Let's do this thing, hey?'
She nodded, but Spike could suddenly see fear in her eyes. He stroked her cheek. 'It won't hurt. I promise.'
'How - How long?'
'About an hour. Then you'll feed from me for about the same; then you'll lie until tomorrow night, and then you'll rise.'
Suddenly, she grabbed his arm. 'You won't bury me!'
'Where? In the street?'
'I was kinda thinking of the bed. Always wanted to get in there with you.'
'No funny business when I'm… out.'
'Say dead, Luv; you'd better get used to it: you'll be dead for a very, very long time.'
'Yeah, but then I won't be alive to worry about it.' As if totally embarrassed by that very non-lawyer-like logic, she swung away and went into her bedroom. Suddenly, she came back. 'I'm not going to… you know. In the bed.'
She gritted her teeth. 'Bodily wastes? Flooding out?'
Spike winced. 'Please! I've just had dinner. What fucking books do you read?'
Murmuring under her breath, 'That'll teach me to read fucking Anne Rice,' she went into her room.'
Spike turned to Nate and breathed deeply. 'She fell for it.'
Nate nodded. 'You are very convincing. I'm reassessing everything you've ever told me.'
'Hey! I've never lied to you!'
'You were lying about Angel just then.'
Spike reared back. 'I love Angel more than….'
'But there's something in the way you said it… what is it, Spike?'
'Jeez! There's nothing! Angel! Love! 'S simple.'
Nate shook his head wearily. 'You don't know, do you? You've not even worked it out for yourself. Okay, sorry. Come on, Superhero; let's get this on.'
'As I'll ever be.'
'Cus… okay… here's the thing. Jesus, am I blushing? I've never done this before.'
Nate stared at him. 'Neither have I.'
Together, they went into the bedroom.
Lilah was rummaging in her closet. 'What should I wear?'
Spike grinned and said, 'Something very feminine, Pet. Red and silky.'
Surprised, she pulled something out and with a twirling motion of her finger, dressed quickly behind Spike's back. Nate gave Spike a furious look, and Spike smirked, pleased with his joke.
She lay on the bed, and he climbed on beside her. 'Think about something nice, hey Pet? I always wanted the chance to go back and enjoy my turning.'
'You didn't enjoy it?'
'Luv. You've just brought Angelus, so I hear? Kinda guy you'd like to meet in a dark alley and be bitten by?'
She glared. 'Get it on, Vampire.'
He blinked and shook himself into a more appropriate siring form. She winced but then closed her eyes and stretched her neck back. He tapped her on the shoulder. 'Contract?'
She pouted as if not understanding then smirked, and it appeared. She looked at him, and he nodded. 'I'll do it. Don't worry.' She looked into his eyes and ripped it up.
She tasted like coming home, and he drank deep and long, never once taking his eyes off the priest.
He didn't let her go. All through the long day. Only once did he free a hand and pull out his cell phone.
He punched a number and waited for it to ring.
'Where are you? What are you doing? What has she said?'
'Calm down, Angel. We're still talking it through. She's taking a crap, so I thought I'd phone to see if I still had an intact lover.'
'Oh, funny man.'
'What are you talking about all this time?'
'Life and death issues. Actually, we're going through options.'
'Oh. She never talks like that to me.'
'She doesn't get you.'
'Oh. Why not? I'm really gettable.'
'Gotta go. Don't worry, Pet. I'll deal with Lilah. It'll all work out.'
'What's wrong, Spike?'
'What? Nothing! Why does everyone keep saying that?'
He hung up and went back to cradling the dead body.
At sunset, the body began to stir.
He watched the eyes closely, wanting to see the expression when they opened.
A pair of very dilated pupils gazed at him, unfocused.
There was a nod. 'Yeah.'
'I'm… holding on, yeah.'
'You actually found it?' He chuckled.
'It was very small, very underdeveloped, but it was in here.'
'Don't let it go.'
'I have no intention of it. Sit me up.'
Spike did as he was asked, and the unfocused eyes travelled down the red silk dress. 'I'm never going to forgive you for this.'
Spike laughed. 'Come on. You wear a dress every fucking day.'
'A cassock, Spike, a cassock. It makes me feel holy. This makes me feel….'
There was a rueful shake of the head. 'Don't distract me. I'm a ghost. I'm in a dead woman's body holding onto her soul. I think I've got enough on my plate?'
'Okay, Pet. Lie down and keep on holding tight.'
'How long for?'
'Until she rises in her own right. Few more hours.'
'She's… restless now.'
'Ewww. Too much information.'
Nate smiled with carefully painted lips and closed the borrowed eyes.
Spike dozed off, his arms wrapped around the cold woman's body. He stirred when it stirred in his arms. He sat up and turned the face to his. 'You ready to go?'
The priest nodded the lovely profile. 'It's quite anchored, Spike. And I've been working on it a little… pumping it up.'
Spike chuckled. 'First pumping you've ever done, I'm thinking.'
The pale lips smiled, and then the body sighed. 'Time to say goodbye, precious Child.'
'Technically, you're my childe now.'
The lips turned down. 'I'm still not totally reconciled to what we've done here, despite being fairly sure it's what I was sent back for.'
'Not reconciled? You've saved another soul. You hung onto it and kept it safe. Pet, she had cancer. She was going to die, and she'd have gone straight to hell. We both know that. How can that benefit anyone? This way, we have another champion - oh, and free legal advice whenever we want it.'
The slim fingers came up and caressed Spike's cheek. 'It's time to go. I meant what I said, Spike. You gave me a great gift. No more tears for me, please?'
'Oh, way t'go to make me fucking cry then! Just bloody say goodbye and sod off back to your harp.'
Hearing the true emotion behind the bluster, there was one more smile, and then the eyes closed. Spike cradled the body close, stroking the soft hair absentmindedly.
'Okay. That's too close.'
Spike jerked back. 'What's wrong?'
'I think I'm stuck.'
'Stuck! Stuck! What do you mean you're freaking stuck?'
'I'm attached. I'm anchored. I'm… stuck.'
'Well, fucking unstuck yourself! You can't stay in there!'
Nate sat up. 'Oh, like THAT hadn't occurred to me. And will you look at these legs?'
'No! No looking at legs. You're a priest!'
'I'm a ghost in the dead body of a woman!'
'Exactly! Get out!'
'OH SHIT! Why do MY plans never go right? Everyone else - bloody stupid plans ALL day. But oh, I come up with one simple plan, and this fucking happens!'
'We need help.'
'Jeez. Yeah. Why didn't I think of that? Come on, let's go to that bloke I know who specialises in dead priests trapped in dead lawyers.' There was a pause in the argument, and Spike suddenly glared. 'No. I'm not going to him. NO… not one word. Uh uh! Not one! NO! Shut up.'
'Well then, I'm damned to live out my existence in a red silk dress.'
'You could change clothes.'
Suddenly Spike frowned and looked at his nails for a moment. 'Maybe there is someone.'
'But… I'm not liking that tone.'
Spike sighed. 'I have GOT to stop pissing people off. You never know when you might need a favour. Come on. We've gotta get out of here, anyway. Angel's not gonna wait much longer. Even HE isn't stupid enough to believe I'm still talking to the bitch this long.'
'Okay. Spike. I think there's something I need to tell you: she might be able to hear everything you say; so, don't insult her too much.'
'She's in here with me and kinda… restless.'
'Oh. Great. Come on. Get changed into something easier to move quickly in.'
Nate nodded and got off the bed. He stopped and looked down at the arms. 'Incredible.'
'Stop admiring yourself. You can do that later.'
'I'm corporeal for the first time in an eternity.'
'You only died….'
'Time moves differently there.'
'Oh, yeah, I knew that.'
'Corporeal and feminine. It's… different.'
Nate seemed unable to hurry. He took a long time walking to the closet, even longer selecting something to wear. When he slipped off the dress, all activity came to a complete halt. Spike shaded his eyes and moaned, 'Can my life get any weirder? Stop that. Please.'
'I'm just looking.'
'Please. I'm not that strong.'
Nate chuckled and pulled on some pants and a shirt. 'These are so nice! Feel the quality.'
'Okay. You've been in there five fucking minutes. Stop acting like a friggin' girl and get a move on.'
'Oh. I thought I was acting like the only other two vampires I know.'
It took a while to sink in, but the look on Spike's face was worth it. The blond vampire came very close. 'Move. We need to nick a car.'
'Where are we going?'
Spike glanced over at him and suddenly frowned. He hung his head. He bit his lip. 'Sunnydale.'
Spike pouted and suddenly felt cool fingers on his cheek. 'God, it's so nice to be able to feel you again. Let's go. No sad memories for either of us.'
Staring intently at the fingers, Spike nodded.
He opened his door wearily. Spike saw a glimpse of suitcases, and then the door was shut in his face.
He gritted his teeth and glanced at Nate. He knocked again.
When Giles answered, Spike stuck his foot in the door and pushed past the furious watcher. He turned and looked at Nate. 'Stay there; shout if you see ANYONE. I'll get him to invite you in, in a minute.'
'No, you bloody won't. Get out, Spike, and take your vampire slut with you.'
'I need your help.'
Giles spluttered in disbelief. 'You want my help!'
Spike clenched his jaw. 'Yes. I'm sorry. About before. I'm a stupid pillock - but then you are too - but I need your help. We do.'
Giles glanced at the woman. 'New girlfriend from hell?'
'It's not what it seems. She's not. He's not.'
'A transvestite vampire from hell?'
'Does she look like a man in drag?'
'As usual, you pervert definitions, you miss the….'
'Giles! Please! Shut up and invite him in.'
'No! Bloody hell, Spike! What are we even having this conversation for? You've effectively ruined my life enough for one lifetime, so just sod off to your…. Take your hand off my arm, Spike, or I will stake you.'
'No, you won't, and stop being melodramatic.'
Giles suddenly turned away. 'Yes, of course. You're right. I'm being very silly. It was nothing. So, what can I help you with? Given I'm not inviting that vampire in here.' He took off his glasses and wiped them furiously.
Spike gritted his teeth. 'I don't want to leave him outside alone. He's too new. Can we walk? The three of us?'
Giles put his glasses back on. All emotion had been removed from his face. 'Yes. Why not? Quite.'
Spike gave him a look, but didn't have time for any of this now. 'Come on then, Pet. We'll talk later. 'Bout other things.'
Giles ignored this and stepped out into the warm evening. 'Right. What is this all about?'
Spike put Nate carefully in front of him and walked slowly with the watcher. He glanced at the man's face. 'This is gonna sound a bit… fantastical….'
'Ah. And I'm not used to that?'
'Oh. Right. See… a while ago, I met a priest….'
'Don't tell me you're repenting, Spike; it's too droll.'
'Shut up. Don't prove yourself to be a wanker.'
'And you actually want my help?'
'Sorry. Look. I met this priest, and we became friends; only, I lost my soul….'
'Oh, good God! Get back!'
'Not now! Not now! For God's sake, what do I have to do to get you to listen to me? Bloody kiss you again?'
Giles stood still and gave him a very frank look. 'No, Spike. That, you don't have to do. Ever again.'
Spike seemed to regret his comment and pouted slightly. 'I just want you to listen to me and stop taking the piss. I know I'm a fuck up, but I really need your help.'
Something in Spike's look made Giles take his glasses off once more, but he said contritely, 'Yes. Sorry. Go on.'
'Right. We became friends, but I lost my soul and… killed him.'
'Oh. I'm sorry. This can't be easy to talk about.'
'Tell him that I don't blame you, Spike, and that I'm happy. Well, I was until these shoes started to pinch.'
Giles stopped and looked at the woman.
'Ignore him, Pet. I'm getting to that.' He directed Giles to keep walking. 'Anyway…. There was this evil bitch - and if you're in there listening, Lilah, that's evil with a huge, fucking capital E - and she had my soul. Angel bought it back by promising to turn her.'
'I was about to say that this was all the most fantastical nonsense I've ever heard, but then I had a startling flashback of my life for the last ten years. Go on.'
'Yeah. So, she came to claim her prize, and he refused.'
'You surprise me.'
'Shut up. Anyway, AS I was saying. She gives him a little peek at what's gonna to happen to his world when Angelus comes out to play…. What? Oh, fuck… sorry.'
'Just go on, Spike.'
'Angel's trapped. Can't do it: can't not do it. So, he tries to kill himself.'
'Don't be a prick, Giles.'
Giles turned to Spike and put a hand on his arm. 'You've got more reason than I to dislike Angel and want him dead!'
'Things have changed between us. Since I've been in L.A.' He kept the watcher's gaze.
Giles frowned then his eyes widened. 'OH!'
'SO! If I can continue?'
Nate tapped him on the arm. 'There it was again. Talking about Angel and out comes that little… tone….'
Spike gave him a look. 'Do you mind? Life and death issues here?' He turned pointedly back to Giles. 'So, he's gonna kill himself, and I decide to end the dilemma. I turned her.'
'You what! Her!'
'Oh, I forgot to tell you that the priest came back as a ghost and went into her body and held her soul firm as I turned her, and now he's stuck in there.'
Giles stopped again. 'Has anyone ever told you that you are a bloody awful storyteller?' He looked at Nate. 'So, you're this priest?'
'Yes. I held on a little too tight, it seems.'
'And now you're stuck.'
'Yeah. As Spike said.'
'And you want me to do what? Unstick you? Send you back to…. Where are you, by the way?'
Spike chuckled. 'Don't even go there, Mate. He'll start cryptic shit from the Bible 'bout dirty windows, and one thing you don't want is Nate starting on his Bible trip. Been there, done that.'
'I need my books.'
'At fucking last.'
'Stop swearing, Spike.' Spike turned his head from one to the other at the chorus.
'OH FUCKING HELL!' He grabbed Nate's arm and began to drag him back to the apartment. Giles invited him in and then went straight to his research.
Spike went to the fridge and helped himself to some familiar snacks. He leant on the counter and blinked slowly. He hadn't felt so safe for a very long time.
Go to Chapter 4
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