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Chapter 7

Wesley was already there, drinking the first of many strong cups of tea that day. He looked up as Angel came down. 'Bad night?'

Angel frowned at Wesley's increasingly uncanny knack to pick up on his emotions, when outwardly, he knew, there were no signs of the stress and confusion he felt. He nodded. 'Spike broke through some sort of barrier and spoke to me through Billy.'

Wesley put his cup down very carefully. 'Ah. Well. That alters things. That takes away one of your options, I should think.'

Angel went into the kitchen to fetch coffee, but made it clear with a small gesture that he expected the man to follow him.

Wesley retrieved his cup and then sat at the table. 'Last night, I was clear in my own mind that we… you… had two options. You can destroy the amulet when we find it, and then Billy will carry on leading his perfectly normal, human span of life. Of course, that life has been inexorably altered by your inter… presence, but that's not totally irredeemable. He can still make something good of all this. However, that option destroys what is left of Spike- so, an option that was entirely possible until last night, no?' He looked at Angel's lowered brow as the vampire sat and raised one eyebrow. 'Oh, I see. Option still open, then.'

'What would we return Spike to? Would he enter Billy's body? Take over the human body. Jeez, Wes, I can't see Spike….'

'Isn't that exactly what Shanshu is all about- what yours should have been? You, but in a human body?'

'But not Spike. You can't understand unless you'd known him, Wesley. He wants to be a vampire- he always did.'

'Well, that brings us to the second option then. You attempt to free Spike, and as you say, he merges with Billy. But that's by no means entirely certain. As far as I can see from my reading last night, there's no recorded instance of a life force being released from such containment into an entirely different body. They have been released incorporeal; they've been released back into their own, empty bodies… but into another man's? It's entirely possible that the merger would destroy Billy as we know him now.'

There was a sound from the door, and they both looked up to see the man they were discussing. Astounded that he had been so engrossed in thoughts of Spike that he'd not sensed the man's presence, Angel gave Wesley a pointed look and said gently, 'We're only discussing possibilities; nothing's been decided.'

'Spike would kill me?'

Wesley shook his head. 'Not at all. But Spike's life force is incredibly powerful- it would have to be to survive what he's been through in his many lifetimes. He is a powerful demon, Billy, and we have no way of knowing how your body would survive that contact. But we haven't even found the damn thing yet, so a bit premature, no? How are you coming on with your reading?'

Knowing he was being distracted, Billy went toward the coffee and said in a bitter tone, 'I was up to Vlad the Impaler. But somehow I can't seem to find the book this morning….'

Angel began to study some slight flaw in one nail and Wesley, watching this, said carefully, 'Sorry. I found a bit of a mess when I came in this morning. They're in Angel's office.'

Billy poured himself a drink and went out.

'How much do you think he heard?'

Angel pouted. 'I don't think it matters. He won't have a say in this.'

'That's not right, Angel. He's a man. He should decide his own fate.'

Angel snorted. 'Yeah.' He left Wesley sitting at the table and went into his office.

Billy was sitting on the couch, rummaging to find his book. Angel sat down next to him, and before the man could protest and leave, he said, 'Spike spoke to me last night- through you. He's trapped, and he knows it.'

'Oh. Did he say where?'

Angel smiled, and the look was so unexpected, Billy felt something run sharp and exciting down his spine. 'He was too pissed with me to get that far. I want to try again tonight.'

Billy frowned. 'How did he manage it? I mean… why now?'

Angel indicated the books. 'I think all of this is working somehow to make the connection you've had through the dreams become stronger. I think you are being jogged, Billy.'

Billy flushed deeply. Angel glanced at him through lowered lids then snagged his fingers and entwined them. 'He's responding to me. Us.'

'Does he know about us?'

Angel smiled again, and Billy felt a surge of bitterness that the smile was not for him. 'No, fortunately not.'

Billy extricated his fingers. 'What are you going to do, Angel? Are you going to kill me?'

Angel leant back on the couch. 'No. I won't do that, Billy. If it comes down to a choice, you are a human, and that simple fact will almost probably make the decision for me.'

Billy leant back, too, and let out a small, weary breath. He rolled his head to stare at Angel. 'Wanna go upstairs and try and summon the demon in me?'

Angel hissed in his breath and nodded. They stood up at the same time and went quietly into the outer office. Angel glanced at the kitchen as they passed, and the small look made Billy chuckle.

The small laugh was still between them when they got into Angel's bedroom, and this time, when Angel pushed Billy down onto the bed, he blinked slowly and lowered his mouth to the man's.

Billy made a small sound of pleasure and let Angel's tongue explore him. When they parted, he said huskily, 'You know I'm doing this to make you want me more than him.'

Angel nodded. 'And you know I'm doing it to make him come to me again, so I can make that decision.' With another small hesitation, he put his forehead to Billy's. 'And we're doing it because we want to and because we can. Because we're enjoying it.'

Billy opened his eyes; less than an inch separated them. 'Yeah. We are. Fuck me, Angel.'

Angel groaned, fumbled blindly with the button and zipper, and then discovered skin- warm skin. He ground his hand around on hair, and hardness that twitched to his touch. Desperate, he tore the man's jeans as he heaved them off. Unable to resist the need for his body - the passion he felt pouring off the vampire - Billy arched his back in response, clawing at Angel, encouraging him for the first time.

Angel focused his brain just enough to hiss, 'Back? Front?'

Billy twisted away violently, rising onto his hands and knees, thrusting his backside toward Angel.

Angel tipped his head back in delight, and a strange sound, which sent shivers down the human's spine, accompanied the entry. Angel cupped his hands under the man and pulled him on, heaving up his light form, easing him apart. He stood, braced on slightly bent legs and began to jerk into the tight channel, its dryness only making the fucking better for him at the start.

In concession to their new closeness, he took the man's penis in one fist and worked him as he pleasured himself behind. Almost conceding the change, Billy let him, wanting to come with Angel, wanting the feel of that strong fist on him. He hung his head and watched as his penis emerged from the hold, weeping, open and raw-looking, only to disappear into the pale hand once more. Through his legs he could see Angel's thighs, still clad in their soft, grey pants. With a leap of faith, with something flaring inside him, Billy suddenly lunged forward, separating them. He skittered to the other side of the bed and murmured provocatively, 'You strip, too, this time.'

Angel, who had lost his balance, thrusting into thin air, straightened. He stared at the man, and they both felt the moment could go either way: Angel's expression teetering on the brink of real fury. Billy cast his eyes down and pouted, lifting them expressively. 'I wanna see you naked.' He shrugged.

Angel's breath let out slowly. Billy felt a stab of anticipation as the expression changed. Angel began to unbutton his shirt slowly. 'You want to see me?'

Billy licked his lips and nodded.

Angel lifted his chin slightly toward the man. 'I want to watch you. Use your fist. Show me how you do it.'

Billy swallowed and took his stiff shaft as he'd been requested. He blushed slightly, as if this was more embarrassing, more revealing, than being on his hands and knees to Angel's penetration. As he watched Angel's flesh being slowly uncovered, his fist sped up, until Angel was forced to murmur, 'Don't come.'

Billy nodded once more, but seemed unable to stop. He rose onto his hands and knees as Angel's shorts fell to the ground. 'Oh, bloody hell.'

Angel crawled onto the bed and pushed him onto his back, forcing away his fist. Billy winced. 'Please. I need to….'

'Shhh. You will. With me inside you.' Angel entered once more, gently, drawing out the pleasure for both of them, and with each inch that he gained, he knew that he was inexorably entering a place where he would no longer be able to make the rational decisions that needed to be made.

When he was fully in, he took each of Billy's legs in turn and lifted them onto his shoulders. Satisfied, he put a hand on the sheet either side of him and ground against the tight hole. 'Like that?'

Billy blinked slowly in reply, an emotion far stronger than like on his face, but he also frowned slightly and murmured, 'You can't bring me off, now.'

Angel let a slow, lazy grin spread over his face and took a strange satisfaction from the fact that as much unease as amusement slid over Billy's face when he saw this smile. 'Can't I?' Before the man realised what he was about to do, Angel bent supply and caught the bobbing head of Billy's erection on his tongue, sucking it into his mouth.

Angel thrust his hips forward as he lowered his mouth on the hard shaft.

Billy cried out, half an apology, half a blissful moan of orgasm, and filled Angel's mouth with warm, shooting fluid. Angel moaned in appreciation and swallowed the offering. Then, as if pleased he was free to concentrate on his own orgasm, he straightened, leant hard on Billy's thighs, and began to pound into him.

He wanted the man throbbing and used, carrying this pleasure-pain into sleep with him. The man's body was slick and hot, clamping onto his stiffness, stimulating the tip of his cock with its internal friction, but best of all, Billy's eyes were fixed on his face and dilated with pleasure.

Angel kept the man's gaze and humped him hard. He rode him as he had always ridden William: with little regard for the fact that he was human. William had wanted to be taken, and he saw that same need in Billy's eyes: some affirmation that he was wanted and needed by someone. Angel gave him that avowal with the intense pleasure he let show on his face.

When he was done, when the final, unconsciously drawn-out groan of a body wracked with exquisite pleasure was over, Angel hung over the supine figure.

With some difficulty, Billy lowered his legs to the bed.

Angel still hesitated, but then the human cupped him around the back of the neck and with a small, pleased smile, pulled him down onto his sweating chest.

Angel chuckled, and as warm, sinewy arms clamped around him, he murmured, 'I'm not entirely sure who just fucked with who.'

Billy wriggled in pleasure under the solid weight and corrected him softly, 'Whom.'

Angel craned his neck back, staring at the man, a shiver running through his body. 'William used to do that, too.'

Billy let the tenseness in his body drain out under the weight of Angel's body. 'Are you still in me?'

'Hmm. Can't you tell?'

'Throbbing too much.'


''S nice.'

Angel smiled into the warm chest. 'Am I too heavy?'

Billy's arms tightened around him protectively.

They were quiet for some time, both too awed by the newness of what had happened to find the sense for speech, until Billy broke the silence with an amused, 'I wonder what Wesley thinks we're doing up here?'

'I'm thinking the fucked-on desk kinda clued him in already?'

Angel knew when Billy dozed off by the lessening in the hold of the strong arms. He waited a little more time and then ventured quietly, 'Spike?'

The blond head shifted on the pillow, so he repeated softly, 'Spike?' and then added, 'Will?'

'I'm inside you, aren't I?'

Angel's eyes widened, and he eased his cock out of the supine body.

'Cus, I've been thinkin'- you gave me the soddin' jewel thingy, and now you're the only person I can make contact with; so, ergo, I'm inside you.'

Angel let out a small sigh of relief and murmured, 'Spike, I can categorically reassure you that you are not inside me.'

'So, where the bloody hell am I?'

'You are inside the amulet somehow.'

'Oh, bugger…! That's just peachy, isn't it? But you have me, right? You have the thing back?'

'No. We're looking for it- you.'


'That's why I need you to help- to focus and stop pissing around….'

'So, how are you hearing me?'

'You were split somehow: human and… the rest. The human you is in L.A, and I'm… watching out for him.'

The sleeping figure on the bed began to laugh, something that disturbed Angel enough to make him ease himself off the shaking chest. 'What?'

'You're yanking my chain, right?'

'No. He has no memory whatsoever of being you, but your memories were becoming his dreams.'

'Huh. All that bloody shouting and ranting paid off. Go me. So, what's the plan?'


'Oh, come on, Angelus! How are you going to get me back?'

'We have to find you first.'

'Well, I suggest you do less bloody lounging around in bed and more soddin' looking!'

'I'm trying to establish everyone's movements in the first few minutes of the hellmouth collapsing.'

'Oh, yeah; so, how did all that go then? How's the bleedin' world?'


'Damn right it was. How's everyone- Buffy?'

'Moving on.'

'And most of all, how's that bastard Rupert Giles?'


'He tried to bloody kill me! Angel? Angelus! You still there?'

'Yeah, I'm here, Spike.'

'What ya doin'?'

'Doing? I'm thinking.'

'Oh. That's me shagged then. Look, have you actually got anyone with any brains on this, cus, like, I'm getting pretty bloody sick of floating around like some poncy turd in 'ere. Shit! I'm greying out here…. Angel? Hel….'

Angel rolled off Billy onto his back and ran his fingers through his hair.

'He was here, wasn't he?'

Angel nodded.

'Any closer to finding him?'

Angel turned his head lazily to the man who lay only inches from him. 'Yeah. I know exactly where he is.'

Angel jogged down the stairs and put a piece of paper onto the counter in front of Wesley. Wesley looked up from a book and said in an amused voice, 'Research going well?'

Angel looked shifty and pushed the paper at him. 'I need an address from this number.'

Wesley frowned. 'That's not going to be easy…. Do you have a name as well?'

'Well, yeah, it's Giles's new number.'

'Rupert Giles?'


'Ah. Good. Task just got rather easy then. I know where Giles is, of course.'

'You know?'

'Of course. Why shouldn't I?'

'Buffy said he didn't want anyone to know where he was.'

'Well, I'd like to think I'm hardly just anyone. He's in a place called Modesty. And I think only another Englishman could truly appreciate the irony in that.'

'Isn't that…?'

'Yes, about twenty minutes from Sunnydale.'

Billy joined Angel at the counter, and if Wesley noticed a distinct thawing in the atmosphere between them, he didn't comment on it. The man frowned and said uncertainly, 'Sunnydale? Isn't that the town destroyed by the earthquake a few months ago?'

Angel nodded absentmindedly, looking toward the door. 'Few hours, it'll be dark. We'll be there in two hours.'

'What makes you think Giles has the amulet?'

Angel looked at Wesley and then at Billy. 'Blood.' He shrugged and went into his office.

Wesley nodded his head toward the kitchen. 'Hungry? I always find researching gives me a real appetite.'

Not knowing Wesley well enough to get his sense of humour, Billy nodded enthusiastically. 'Yeah, I'm starving.'

Wesley smiled, amused by his own joke, and went ahead of the other man to the kitchen. He started to make them both a sandwich, but he watched the man out of the corner of his eye. He could sense many emotions, so was not surprised when the man said tensely, 'How well did you know Spike?'

'Not very well at all. By reputation only, really.'

'But you didn't like him?'

'Well, I'd hardly go that far. As I said, I didn't know him- neither when he had his chip, nor his soul, and I don't think it's fair to judge him on his deeds before that, any more than I judge Angel on what Angelus did.'


'Angel's preferred name before he had a soul.'

'What did you mean about Spike's chip?'

'He was given a kind of implant that prevented him harming living things.'

'Oh. Bummer.'

'Well, at first I should imagine it was, but I think he rose above it really- it freed him from the blood lust that drove him. He actually wanted his soul and, so I hear, had to endure a great deal of pain to win it back. He would never have come to that incredible decision without being reigned in by his chip first.'

'You liked him!'

Wesley smiled. 'I admit I have a certain fondness for the idea of the noble vampire winning his soul, yes.'

'I can't compete, can I?'

Wesley eyebrows rose, and he said faintly, 'Well, I should imagine he likes being in a human…. But really, this is hardly my….'

'Bloody hell, Mate! I meant for the right to exist…. Not…. Bloody hell!'

'Oh, thank God. And it's nothing to do with competition. When the time comes, Angel will do what is right-- however much that decision hurts him. Even if it kills him, he will do what is right.'

'It'll hurt him?'

Wesley sat down at the table and pushed over one plate of food. 'Angel is tormented, Billy. Haunted, tortured by his past, and possibly now his future, given that he'll never be human. I don't envy him his existence, however much I'd like to have his whole invincibility thing going for me.'

Billy stared at the door, thoughtfully. 'Whichever way he chooses, he'll be hurt.'


Billy lifted a sandwich to his mouth then let it drop to the plate once more. 'I need to go home- get a few things before we leave.'

Wesley nodded absentmindedly and stretched over to get his newspaper.

Angel came into the kitchen half an hour later and stopped when he saw the solitary figure. 'Where's Billy?'

'Gone back to his apartment, he said.'

'Wesley!' Angel spun on his heel, grabbed an axe from the cabinet, and headed for the sewers.

By the time he got there, it was almost dark. He came up through the basement of the apartment block and hammered on Billy's door. When he got no answer, he leant his hand on the wall, thinking. He closed his eyes and tried to sense him, frowned and then glanced toward the stairwell.

In an imitation of only a few days ago, Angel jogged up the stairs to the access door to the roof.

Billy was sitting on the ledge, his shoulders hunched.

Seed, sapling… he knew it was time. One tiny tip forward, and everyone's lives would be simple again.


Billy rolled his eyes and turned. 'Go away, Angel.'

Angel tested the light with one hand and risked the slight pricking on his skin to walk slowly over to the man. Very carefully, he sat down on the edge too, some distance away, enough to reassure him he wasn't going to intervene.

'This is kinda sudden. A few hours ago, you were trying to fuck me into letting you live.'

Billy made a small, amused sound that trailed off into a far less humorous one. 'I was trying to fuck you into wanting me.'

'Same thing.'

'Not according to Wesley.'

'So… why this, Billy. What's this going to achieve?'

'It's going to make the decision easy for you.'

Angel frowned, staring at the man. 'You're going to let him win? Just like that.'

'No. I'm going to let you have what you've always wanted.'

'I think the link is working two ways, Billy.'


'I think that as he is getting stronger in you, you're getting… more confused.'

'You were going to say weaker.'

'Yes, okay, weaker. This is not the act of a rational man.'

'But, Angel, I'm not a man. I can't be rational, because I don't exist. Not really. I have no life, no memories that are mine. I have nothing.'

'You have me.'

'You want him.'

'You keep saying that, and it's really starting to piss me off. You don't know him. You never met him. Wait 'til you meet him and see how… wantable he is! Believe me, Billy, two minutes in his company, and I'll be begging them to take me back to hell. I can't stand being in the same room as….'

'Yeah. You are so full of shit, Angel. You think about him all the time. You think about him when you're in me.'

'I'm thinking seriously about pushing you now.'

Billy suddenly smiled. 'I'll struggle.'

Angel smiled too and rose, holding out his hand. 'I'll find a way, Billy; I promise.'

Billy took his hand and stood up. 'Did you promise him, too?'

'He was too busy pissing me off to ask.' Angel's brow lowered slightly as he remembered a final, desperate syllable, but he covered well by putting his arm over Billy's shoulder and leading him down the stairs.

Wesley was waiting for them with the car when they returned. When he saw them, he slid into the back, and Billy climbed into the passenger seat. After fetching a few things, Angel joined them and sat for a moment, gripping the wheel. 'Ready?'

The other two nodded, and he pulled out into the light traffic and took the well-known road to Sunnydale.

Billy was clearly in low spirits, and Angel kept glancing at him as he drove. After a while, he said softly, 'Put some music on.'

The man shrugged and rummaged in the box, then leant back resignedly. 'It's all shit.'

Angel laughed and tossed him a disc from his pocket. Billy caught it and then stared at him. He glanced down once more at the familiar handwriting. Angel shrugged. 'It was in your bag. I thought whoever's in this car tonight can enjoy it.'

Billy caught Angel's teasing tone and nodded. 'Sorry. I've kinda been a prat.' He pushed the Iggy disc in and leant back, crossing one ankle over his knee.

Wesley muttered something dark, but the other two ignored him, giving each other a shy smile.

After an hour, Angel glanced over to see that Billy had fallen asleep. He turned off the music, then glanced over his shoulder at Wesley. When he got a small nod of encouragement, he said softly, 'Spike?'

There was no response, and Angel glanced again at Wesley.

'Spike? Will?'

'Bugger off.'

'Bloody hell!'

'Who's that?'

'My name is Wesley Wyndham-Price. I'm a friend of Angel's.'

'Huh. Angel really has a thing about the English, don't he? You in his bed as well?'

'Err, no. We're all in a car, driving to find you.'

'Oh. Well, don't bother. Just bugger off and leave me be, yeah?'

Angel made a throat cutting motion at Wesley and said softly, 'What's wrong?'

'Wrong. Wrong? Yeah, good question. I'm not talking to you anymore, Angel; so, just piss off.'

'You want to spend the rest of your eternity… floating?'

'I want to be left in peace. You have what you want; leave me be.'

'I'm fucking driving through the night to find you!' He gave Wesley a small apologetic smile, and added, 'Stop being such a Prima Dona, Spike.'

'Bugger off.'

'Okay. I'll turn back. We'll leave you there.'

'Good. Or no. Find me and just smash this bloody thing, will you? End it all for good.'

'Why is everyone trying to kill themselves on me tonight? What the fuck have I done to piss everyone off?'

There was a long silence then Wesley murmured, 'Shall we give him a list, Spike?'

Spike chuckled and sighed deeply. 'Yeah, we could that. Angel…?'

Sending a silent prayer to whichever Gods were on duty that night that Spike would not ask too personal a question, Angel replied deceptively casually, 'Hmm?'

'What's he like?'

He tipped his head back for a moment, clenching his jaw then said,'He's you, before you got so angry.'

'Uh huh. Before I met you then. So, what's he look like?'

'He dyed his hair same dumb colour you do.'

'Good bloke.'

'He's fading.'


Wesley leant forward and said helpfully, 'You're blending together again, more like. I did wonder.'

'You sayin' I'm fading, too?'

'Well, here you're getting stronger. He's asleep now, but this is not waking him. Incredible really.'

'But that means he's coming over… here?'

Angel interjected slyly, 'You were the one all depress-y demon tonight….'

'Do you know Angel, the one thing keeping me going in all this bloody floating is the thought that one day, just one day, I'll get to kick your bloody arse from here to hell and NOT back again.'

'Yeah, Spike. You focus on that, cus I'm thinking I'd really like….'

'Can we please talk about something more constructive than the relative length of your dicks?'

'Yeah, tell me again how you're all rushing to save me.'

'Why are you so freaking pissy, Spike?'

'Where's my bloody body, Angel? What am I gonna be if you do save me?'

'Yeah, I know.'

'So, there ya go. You get time to think in here, ya know? Bin thinking all day 'bout it, and that's my decision. I still do get to decide things, do I? Or are you gonna pull that Sire crap on me and try….'

'Jeez, the temptation nearly undoes me. I could pull sire crap, and there'd be nothing you could do about it! Whack, hit that jewel, and send you right back to the hell you came from.'

'I came from you, Angel, fruit of your bloody loins.'

'I'm gonna heave.'

'Yeah, Poofter.'

Wesley sat in the backseat watching this bizarre exchange with complete bemusement, especially the smile on Angel's face, and his slight flush, discernable even on his preternatural skin.

Suddenly, he leant forward and tapped Angel's arm. 'We need to turn off here.'

Immediately, Spike said with a tone of total disdain for the reply, 'So, where am I then?'

Angel, negotiating the traffic, said softly, 'I think Rupert Giles has you.'

After a long silence, he looked at Wesley and said, 'Spike?' in a puzzled voice.

Wesley coughed and added, 'Spike?'

Suddenly, they heard a mutter. 'You'd better come get me then.'

Angel frowned. 'Why the change of heart?'

'I want it to end, Angel. I don't wanna be spooked or fucked around by some dark magic. I told you: he tried to kill me, and it wasn't an accident, or a let's-kill-Spike-cus-the-day's-got-a-y-in-it kinda kill me. It was: set me up, distract Buffy, conspire with the bloody First, and do me in! So, you get here, and you end it for me. Please.'

Angel's tongue flicked out over his lower lip. 'Okay, Spike. I'm coming.' He reached over and poked the sleeping man.

Billy woke, disoriented and murmured, 'I'm cold.'

Angel glanced at Wesley but turned the heat up.

'How much further?'

Wesley consulted his map. 'Ten minutes, then we need to find the address.'

Angel was clearly not in the mood for talking, and the other two left him to his thoughts. Billy watched the way his knuckles turned bone white as he gripped the wheel. Wesley could sense his tension and wished there was something he could do to alleviate it.

At last, they drew up in front of a non-descript, one-storey house in an ordinary street. They all climbed out, and Angel waved at them to stay back as he went around the yard to see if he could see anything. After a few moments, he came running back and pounded up onto the porch, kicking in the front door. He couldn't enter, but Wesley did, exclaiming at the mess as he did so. Billy hovered anxiously at Angel's side. 'He must have known we were coming!'

Wesley rose from a crouch. 'No, I don't think so. Why would he smash the place?'

Angel gritted his teeth. 'Someone else knew we were coming here.' He whirled on Billy and grabbed his lapels. 'Have you talked to anyone?'

'N- No!'

'Let him go, Angel. I wonder- Damn!'


'Let's get back.'

Angel grabbed his arm as the human passed. 'Do you think they got him? Have they got Spike?'

'I don't know. We need to get back. Let's go.'

They were all silent in the car. It kept running through Angel's mind that as he'd been talking to Spike, Spike was being taken away from him again. He wanted the man to sleep, so he could try and contact him again, but he could see from the anxious, tense look from the figure in the passenger seat that this was unlikely.

It seemed a much longer trip back, and they were all tired of being in a car when they finally climbed out. Wesley immediately ran into the hotel and up to the lobby. By the time Angel and Billy caught him up, he was standing on the counter, poking at something with a broom handle. 'I'm so sorry, Angel. I've been very, very stupid.'

Angel hopped up onto the counter with him, peering at the thing on the ceiling.

'The sprinkler?'

'Cordy booked them, just before she left. I didn't think- other than water good, fire bad. Damn, what an opportunity to get the jump on us all the time.'

Angel got impatient, took the broom and hurled it like a javelin. The box fell off, and he jumped down and retrieved it. 'Fuck.'

Wesley nodded. 'Microphone and miniature camera.'

As one, Angel and Billy turned to stare at one of the desks. Angel pursed his lips. Billy toed the ground then went into the kitchen. Wesley ran his fingers through his hair. 'Yes, well, what's done is done.'

'Is this the only one?'

The man nodded.

Angel suddenly flung it into one corner in a rare fit of pure fury. 'So, we've lost….'


Angel nodded his head morosely.

Wesley repeated, 'Giles?' and went toward the man coming down the steps.

'Hello, you two. What a ghastly place to drive in! How are you both?'

Suddenly, hearing the new voice, Billy came out of the kitchen, holding a mug.

Giles paled and dropped his bag. 'Spike! Spike? I've done it? It's worked? But how here? I mean….'

'I'm not Spike.'

Giles dismissed this and believed the evidence of his eyes. He came toward Billy and took his arm. 'Spike. Thank God.'

Angel suddenly came forward and said raggedly, 'We've just been to Modesty to see you.'

Giles started. 'Oh, yes. I had visitors.'

'You… escaped?'

'Oh, I didn't live there; I'm not that stupid; I lived next door. I just used that for mail. Spike?'

'He's not Spike. Spike's been split into a human and….'

'What's still in the amulet?'

'Giles!' Angel lowered his voice. 'Giles. Do you know where the amulet is?'

Giles looked surprised, then fished in his pocket and casually tossed something to Angel. 'Of course.'

Angel caught it with as much fear and shock as if someone actually had just thrown him the fruit of his loins. He cradled the jewel, looking helplessly to Wesley. Wesley put out a hand for it, but Angel snatched it away from him.

Giles chuckled. 'Well, before you start calling it my precious shall we have some tea? I think we have a lot of catching up to do.'

Wesley glanced anxiously at Angel. 'I think we should move to a safer location.'

Angel nodded and murmured, 'Denis's place?'

Wesley murmured his agreement, and grabbing some weapons, the two of them ushered the others out to the car once more.

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