Just Like Old Times
Spike opened the door of the downtown Cleveland hotel room that he and Xander would be calling home during their stay in the Midwest Hellmouth. It was a typical middle-class hotel room with two beds, a desk, a chair that he assumed was supposed to be comfortable, although it probably was not, and of course, it had those bloody awful flowered comforters on the beds.
This type of room was becoming very familiar to Spike, and he often wondered if this was the life he was destined to have from now on --- traveling from city to city, never having a place to call home. Sure, he had traveled around the world when he was with Drusilla, but this was different. He was different. The idea of constantly moving from place to place did not intrigue him as it used to.
"I'm calling the bed by the window," Xander said as he plopped his bags down on the bed.
"Fine by me, just don't be opening those drapes in the morning. I really don't fancy being burnt to a crisp," Spike said as he placed his bags down on the other bed. "Again," he added as an afterthought.
Xander rolled his eyes at the vampire. "I don't think we really have that problem here, Spike. From the looks of it, this Hellmouth is less with the sun and more with the dark and dreary."
Spike nodded. It did seem that the sun was not all that prevalent in this part of Ohio. At least it was not on this particular day. It would be a grand day for an afternoon stroll.
Hell, I just might have to take one of those, Spike thought to himself.
"Well, I'm going to call Faith and find out what's going down. Maybe we'll get lucky, and the package from Giles will already be here, so we can get out of this not-so-cheery Hellmouth ASAP," Xander said as he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Faith's number.
"Not bloody likely," Spike replied with a laugh. "Besides, we've still got to help Faith with whatever this big problem is that she told Buffy and Giles about. Buffy said that Faith was really worried because things in Cleveland had gotten right dodgy for the last week or so."
"You're sticking to that story, huh? I thought you were just using that as an excuse to drive like an insane Mario Andretti all the way here. We'll just see what Faith has to say about it."
Spike shrugged as he laid down on the bed, listening as Xander recounted to Faith the latest adventures of the traveling trio. Spike couldn't help but smile a little as Xander told her of their experience in Gilroy, especially of his new friend, Tori, who was one of the good vampires residing in the peaceful community. And Spike chuckled out loud at Xander's, "I kid you not! I said good vampires." Soon Xander was talking about the haunted Colorado B&B and then moved on to the tale of Oz and the werewolves-on-command.
Spike must have been more tired than he thought because he was almost asleep when a knock came at the door. Knowing that Xander was not going to respond to it, Spike got up to open the door.
"Have you guys looked at the view from your windows yet? It's hidaya!" Mena said as she glided through the doorway, past Spike and straight to the window, pulling back the curtains.
"I take it by your enthusiastic tone that hidaya does not mean dark and dreary, as Xander described the city?" Spike said as he walked cautiously towards the Slayer, just in case sunshine had somehow taken over the skies.
Mena smiled, her eyes still fixed out the window. "No, not at all. It means beautiful. Clouds don't necessarily have to be considered dreary. Sometimes, Xander is just too much of a California boy, you know what I mean?"
"I agree with you, pet. I wager all that sunshine for over 20 years may be responsible for burning out some of his brain cells." They both looked at Xander, who was oblivious to the jibe due to his conversation with Faith.
Mena turned back to Spike. "I would think you would love this weather. Doesn't it remind you a bit of England? You could even walk outside in the middle of the day here without worrying about bursting into flames."
Spike smiled at the girl. "Didn't say I wasn't crazy about this weather, love. Just surprised you are is all."
Mena nodded as she returned her gaze back to the Cleveland skyline. "My nyanya always says that real beauty is sometimes hidden underneath the surface."
"Your nyanya should write a book," Spike said, ruffling her hair. "However, Thumblemena, I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing but evil under the surface of this city. It's why they call it a Hellmouth."
Mena nodded. "I know you're right, but I'm sure the city still looks gorgeous at night, once it is all illuminated."
Spike nodded as he took a seat on Xander's bed. "Vampires' paradise, I reckon."
At those words, Mena studied him quizzically. "That sort of makes you wonder why there were so many vampires in Sunnydale, when you had a much more viable Hellmouth here in Cleveland. You would think this would be the vampire capital of the world."
"Well, it's not like there weren't any vampires here. I mean the last I heard, Cleveland had a huge underground system, and up until recently, no Slayer. I bet the vampires here were getting plenty of happy meals on legs before Faith arrived," Spike said with a partially nostalgic sigh.
Mena nodded. "Well, hopefully she has helped cut down on the evil population around town."
"Actually, not so much," Xander said as he joined the conversation. "I just got off the phone with Faith, and there is a major Big Bad vamp in town who thinks he owns the place. To hear Faith talk, he very well might. She's going to need our help taking him out. But she and Wood were out patrolling all night, so they need to get some sleep right now. We're meeting them tonight," he said with a sigh.
"So I take it the 'care' package from the Council has yet to arrive?" Spike asked even though he already knew the answer.
Xander shook his head. "That would be a no. Faith said that it should be here in another day or two. Now, you need to get up because I want to sit down."
Spike rolled his eyes but did not argue. He needed to get up and move, anyway. He looked outside and knew that it was too fine of a day to spend sitting around the hotel room.
"So what are we going to do today? We have some time to kill, and I certainly don't want to waste a bloody awful day like today when I can walk freely in the afternoon."
Xander and Mena laughed at Spike's comment before engaging in a debate about what was the best way in which to spend the afternoon. Mena wanted to visit the zoo. Xander, however, was adamantly against this idea but certainly did not wish to recount his experience with the hyenas in the Sunnydale Zoo by way of explanation. After further debate, the group finally decided on going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Spike loved the fact that he was walking outside in the middle of the afternoon. It was such a rare and glorious occasion for him that he felt as though he could just bask in it forever.
The walk to the Hall of Fame was a bit longer than they had anticipated, and Xander complained that perhaps he should have driven them to the Museum. Spike figured Xander's mood probably had more to do with the idea of being back in a Hellmouth than the actual distance he had to walk.
After what seemed to be forever, they finally reached their destination. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sat on the edge of Lake Erie, and although the building was oddly shaped, Spike thought it was quite brilliant.
"Have you ever wondered why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland? One would think it would be in a larger city, like New York," Mena said as the group stared at the building.
"What are you implying? You think maybe it's owned by demons? Well, this is a Hellmouth; nothing would surprise me," Xander replied.
"Demons or not, I'm going in. This will be the greatest music experience for me since Woodstock," Spike said as he started towards the entrance.
"You were at Woodstock?" asked Xander. "Can't really picture you hanging out with a lot of peace-loving flower children. I'll bet everyone who was around back then pretends that they were there!"
"Don't care whether you believe me or not," said Spike dismissively. "Had a lot of fun there. Lot of great bands played. I've always loved music, and it was a really free and easy lifestyle back then. All that free love and trusting of strangers made it easy for vampires to feed. Dru and I had us a great weekend."
Xander and Mena exchanged a glance at Spike's nostalgic view on easy-feeding but decided to let it pass, at least for the moment, without comment. It would just be easier for their current partnership to ignore certain aspects of Spike's past, especially when they were out in public.
The group made their way through the various displays around the museum. Xander spent a great deal of time looking at the Madonna section, which included many of her bustiers. Mena had to remind him not to drool, that it really did not look all that attractive.
Spike loved all the exhibits equally. He loved looking at the pictures of rock and roll legends such as Elvis Presley, The Eagles, The Ramones, etc. There were even some pictures of his buddy Billy Idol on display. However, Spike was completely mesmerized by the section of the museum that was dedicated to Woodstock '69. He walked along the walls, carefully looking at each picture.
"See someone you know?" Xander joked as they looked at pictures of the massive crowds.
Spike nodded, "Those blokes made quite a nice snack for Dru and me," he said pointing to a picture of blissful hippies. Upon seeing Xander's immediate, shocked reaction, he added, "I'm joking. How could I remember any random hippies that I ate at Woodstock?"
Sometimes it amazed Spike how dense the Watcher could be. They continued to look at the pictures, most of them of various hippies that had been camped out for the festival. Suddenly, Spike did a double take. One of the pictures included Drusilla and him.
"Well, will you look at that?" Spike said, grinning broadly.
Xander looked to see which picture the vampire was looking at and saw that it was a picture of Spike and Dru outside a van.
"Wow, you were telling the truth! That's gotta bring back some memories," Xander said looking at the picture in awe.
"That it does," Spike said as his mind flew back to his trip to Woodstock.
Flashback - 1969 - New York
"Spike!" Drusilla whined. "Miss Edith is tired of riding. Can we stop and find some little children to play with?"
"Patience, princess. I'm following your vision. We're going to where the ground will be covered with lovely people to play with and music will fill the air."
Dru settled back into the seat of the van with a huffed breath, but she subsided. Spike moved the van from the paved road onto a dirt track, using his usual supernatural knack at driving to pull them onto the field where their promised banquet would unfold.
"We're here, princess. Come on, let's settle down for a long kip and wait for nightfall."
Spike bundled a sleepy and irritable Drusilla into the back of the van, pulling and securing the thick drapes that served as a back-up to the blackened windows to block out the sun. He pulled out the piece of paper and read it again.
Bethel, New York, August 15, 16, and 17, 1969. Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
Music. Spike loved music. It was like a heartbeat through him. One of the many things humans were good for, aside from serving as tasty meals. And the idea of three days of sweet music and thousands of sweet, rootless hippies all in one place sounded like his idea of heaven.
He pulled Drusilla close to him on the bed in the van they had stolen from some hippies a few weeks ago. Stolen, of course, after they had eaten the hippies. The counterculture movement was better than war. A whole nation of freedom-loving, sex-loving, somewhat nomadic, nameless young people who would not be missed because no one knew where they were roaming.
The two vampires cuddled closely together. Spike stroking and soothing Drusilla into sleep, before drifting off, himself, to dreams of a music-filled, sex-filled weekend, complete with tasty, young blood-drinking.
The sound of a sweet guitar throbbing from the giant speakers woke him later. The words drifted to him. Richie Havens.
When night fell, Drusilla and Spike rose, moving out into the crowd. Thousands and thousands. A sea of people. Drusilla clapped her hands, swaying to the music, then twirling around in delight.
"A garden, just like I saw. A garden of music and blood!"
They moved out into the crowd. Music and blood. Person after person, falling for sweet flattery from Spike or in thrall to Drusilla. Close to dawn, Spike reached out of the van, pulling an unsuspecting young man inside and closing the doors behind him. He bit down into him, drinking some of the sweet nectar and then dropping him as the rush of chemicals in the young man's blood hit his brain.
"Bloody hell, Dru," he croaked. Everything began to swim, and he started watching as his hand moved in brilliant showers of light.
"The world is coming apart, drowning in showers of fire and lightning," the young man groaned, his blood trickling down his throat from where Spike had bitten him.
Drusilla smiled. "Ah, you see the fairies, too, don't you, dearie? Let Drusilla take care of you. Be your mummy."
Spike heard all of this from far away. His hand grew larger and larger and filled the whole world.
Hours later, he awoke in the van. The young man was there as well, still as death, pulled close to Drusilla. Spike sniffed. He narrowed his eyes at Drusilla.
"What did you do, princess?"
"Made me a dolly, Spike. He's ever so pretty, and his blood tasted like candy. And he sees the fairies, like me."
Spike snorted. "He was tripping, Dru. On drugs. When he wakes up, he won't see the fairies any more than I do."
Dru pouted. "I wanted a new dolly."
Spike pulled her close, stroking her hair. "And you'll have one, my princess. He'll wake up soon."
Later that night, after they had taken the new fledge, Kevin, hunting, he and Spike were standing together, listening to the music. Dru danced and swayed around them, with flowers in her hair and a garland around her neck.
Creedance Clearwater Revival was on the stage, one more great band among the many at the festival, who would forever signify the hippie movement's love for and connection to music.
His eyes glittered far too brightly, the acid in his system when he was turned, apparently, part of him forever now. Spike raised an eyebrow and questioned his judgment.
"Now, why would you want to do something stupid like that? This world is a paradise, mate. A huge apple, ripe for the biting. Look around you. Music, sex, drugs, food, lovely young people to eat and to take for your own pleasure. Better to enjoy and own the world than destroy it, by far," Spike snorted contemptuously at Kevin.
Kevin stood quietly and considered. "I'll think about it. Maybe you're right, man."
"Dance with me, my Spike. And young Kevvy, too." Drusilla moved between them, grabbed each of them by the hand and raised their arms high. "The music is ever so lovely. How can you not dance? Look around you; everyone is dancing."
The two male vampires grinned at each other and joined Drusilla in the bacchanalian enjoyment of the night.
When the festival ended two days later, Spike and Drusilla went on their way, leaving Kevin to his own devices.
"Earth to Spike, you still with us?" Mena asked laughing.
Spike smiled as his mind came back to the present day. "Yeah, I was just thinking about Woodstock. It's funny; Drusilla had a vision that one day we would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I thought she was off her rocker, but she was right," he said smiling. "At least, we're here in a photograph as part of a dislpay."
"A vision?" Mena asked, her curiosity provoked.
"Yeah, Drusilla gets visions. Not really sure how. Guess she's a psychic of sorts. Anyway, she knew that one day we would be in here."
"Wow, a psychic vampire. That's quite interesting!" Mena replied, very intrigued indeed.
"Not nearly as interesting as the news that Faith probably has for us. I say, we head on over there. It's getting late," Xander said, realizing that they had spent most of the afternoon touring the museum.
"Sounds good. Let's go, then," Spike replied.
"I think this is it," Mena said looking up from the directions she'd been reading aloud to Xander.
Xander pulled the Land Cruiser into a driveway in front of a modern, high-rise apartment complex.
"Nice place. Guess Faith and Robin are doing pretty good for themselves. What do you think, Spike?"
"Looks cheery enough."
Spike sat low in the back seat. He was dreading this reunion. Sure, he and Faith had an odd chemistry, and he'd like to see her, but her honey was another story.
"Wonder if Wood still wants to kill me?"
Mena looked back at Spike, eyes wide with shock. "What do you mean?"
"Long story, love." Spike sighed, not wanting Mena to know the truth about his past with Wood.
"What do you mean 'long story'?" Xander piped up. "His Mom was a Slayer, you killed her and stole her coat. Of course, he wanted to kill you."
Mena turned her attention back to Spike. She looked at him with puppy dog eyes that made Spike wish the Bit was around.
"But that was before the soul, right?"
"Of course it was, pet," Spike said reassuringly. He was really starting to like playing the big brother role to Mena. "Look, let's just go in there and find out what's got Faith's panties in a twist."
The three of them climbed out of the car and started towards the building. They took the elevator to the 7th floor and walked to apartment 30F. Xander knocked on the door while Spike and Mena waited anxiously. Mena was eager to meet the other 'original' Slayer. Spike just wanted to get this over with. It didn't take long for Faith to answer the door.
"Xander, long time no see. I have to say, you're the best looking Watcher I've ever seen." Faith leaned against the doorframe. "Well, well, well. Look what the Hellmouth coughed up!" Faith gave Spike an appraising look. "You're looking good for someone who should be buried under a pile of rubble."
"Come on, pet. You know they can't keep a good man down."
"Or a good vamp. You are still a good vamp, right, Spike?" Wood asked as he stepped up behind Faith, stern look in place.
"As long as you play nice, so will I," Spike replied, smirking.
"Now boys, behave yourselves. I'd hate to have to get rough with the two of you." Faith shared a wicked grin. She opened the door further, allowing Xander and Mena to enter the apartment.
Spike watched them cross the threshold and raised an eyebrow at Faith.
"Come on in, Big Bad," Faith invited.
After entering the apartment and introducing Mena to Faith and Wood, the group gathered in the living room to discuss their new mission.
"Right. Let's just cut to the chase. What big bad wolf is blowing hot air around here?" Spike decided to get this meeting over with as quickly as possible. He was ready to make with the violence.
Faith looked very uneasy. This did not go unnoticed by Spike and Xander, who were accustomed to seeing the cocky, self-assured Faith. If something was worrying her about this monster of the week, they could be sure that it wasn't going to be an easy battle.
"Vamp. Owns a lot of real estate. Nasty character." Faith summed up the situation in short, succinct sentences.
"Am I the only one who feels like we're still hanging with Oz?" Xander quipped.
"Well, the thing is," Robin began as if trying to get approval from Faith to elaborate, "this isn't the first encounter Faith's had with this guy."
The traveling trio looked at Faith with concern. This was not what the Slayer wanted at all.
"Guys, I'm cool. I'm five by five. I'm not worried about meeting up with an old enemy. I'm more worried about what he's been up to since our last little encounter." Faith took a deep breath as she began telling their guests what they were about to face.
Mena gasped. She'd heard Spike and Xander talk about creatures wanting to destroy the world. Apparently it was very common, but to see it firsthand? This was a little more than she could comprehend.
"See, he's been vamping the hell out of Cleveland," Faith continued. "He's got minions crawling all over the city, but he's also dusting them almost as fast as he's siring them. He likes to be in charge and doesn't want anyone taking credit for his handiwork."
"That's what it looks like," Wood commented. "It works for his whole 'destroying the world' plan, too. He's rapidly getting rid of the human population, but that has also been the one thing that led us to him."
"Talk about your Catch 22's," Xander muttered.
"Where do we come in?" Spike had to ask. "If this guy is already offing his toadies, it shouldn't be hard to stop him. Good stake through the heart should do it. What makes this guy so special?"
"Yeah, this should be a piece of cake for you. Why drag us in on the action?" Xander chimed in.
Faith stood up; a frustrated look on her face. "You don't get it. For every crony Kevin kills, he makes ten more to replace him. We're talking hundreds upon hundreds of vamps here. Look, if I could do this by myself, I would. I've got a score to settle with the bastard."
Spike raised his eyebrows. He wanted to hear more about this score she wanted to settle. Thankfully, Faith was pissed and needed to vent.
"He got the best of me once, about six years ago, back when I was first called. Put me in the hospital for a week. He won't be so lucky this time. And to think we assumed he was just some political hot-shot." Faith shook her head in disbelief.
Xander looked around at Spike and Mena. It appeared they were just as confused, so he asked, "Did we miss something? You guys thought he was a politician?"
Faith sat back down, and Wood joined her on the couch.
"Sure." It was Wood's turn to shake his head and share some information. "'Real estate tycoon turned philanthropist' is what the media calls him. He's building nursing homes, daycares, recreation centers. People are begging him to run for office, and it looks like that's his next move."
Mena glanced at Wood questioningly. "Why is he doing charitable work if he's evil?"
Spike snorted. "Because it keeps the good guys off of his back and---"
"It gives him access to fresh supplies of yummy people to keep him in the vamp-making business," Xander concluded.
"Good," said Robin. "Sounds like we're all on the same page, with a shared desire to put an end to his career. It just took us a while to figure out this so-called community leader was also the Master Vampire we were looking for." Wood checked his watch. "We really need to get a move on and head to the club that we finally discovered Kevin is using as his headquarters."
Faith looked at Mena. "This is going to be fun! Come on, chica, let's sex you up," Faith said as she grabbed the younger Slayer by the hand and pulled her into her bedroom.
"I don't think I need sex just now, thanks," Mena said, her eyes widening as she noticed the revealing clothes in Faith's closet.
Faith laughed at the other girl. "Well, sweetie, we need to make you look older and more wicked cool in order to get you inside that club tonight. Right now, the only club you could get into is the Baby Sitters' Club."
Mena laughed at Faith's words. As much as she wanted to protest, she knew Faith was right, and that this was the best way to get her inside the club. It might even be kind of fun -- an adventure where she dressed up in a costume, like playing a part in a play.
Mena watched as Faith climbed into her closet and started to go through her clothing, pulling out various shirts from it. Mena was intrigued by Faith's forwardness and in-your-face sexuality; although, it did tend to make her uneasy. Mena hadn't spent much time with any of the Slayers who had fought in that battle in the Sunnydale Hellmouth. Vi and Rona were the only two who were in London when she went through her training there. Mena now wondered if most of the Hellmouth-closing Slayers were like Faith.
"So Mena, how're you enjoying the whole Slayer gig?" Faith asked as she pulled out a black tank top with the words "Diva" written on it in yellow. "Too young," Faith said as she tossed it aside.
Mena sighed, not really knowing how to answer that particular question. "Sometimes, I really enjoy being a Slayer. I feel like I have found the definite purpose in my life. I have always excelled at many things, but I never felt like they were a calling for me. I never felt that I had a purpose until I found out I was a Slayer and started fighting evil."
Faith smiled as she pulled out a blue halter top. "I dig that. I know I never felt like I was worth a damn thing until I was called," she said with a slight smile. "I really hate this shirt on me, but I think it would suit you."
"I can't wear this. It's far too revealing! Besides, I'm not even sure my breasts are large enough to hold it up."
Faith laughed at the teenager. "That's why were trying it on, Mena. I'm gonna go and get myself ready. Meet me in the bathroom when you're ready for phase two.
Mena stared at the revealing shirt, hesitant to put it on. Her parents would kill her if she wore this out in pubic, that is, if Xander didn't beat them to it.
While the girls readied themselves for the club, the three men retreated to the living room. Spike plopped down on the couch, stretching his legs out, allowing himself to sink into a lounging pose. Wood took a seat opposite him in an overstuffed chair and eyed the vampire suspiciously. Xander couldn't sit still, so he paced nervously around the room.
"Harris, you look like an expectant father. What's your deal?" asked Spike.
"My deal is that Faith just took Mena upstairs to 'Ho' her up! And believe me, Faith knows how to---" Xander stopped short as he looked at Wood. "Sorry, man."
"Not a problem. I like the way my lady dresses." Wood shrugged.
Xander breathed a sigh of relief, argument averted. Then he realized that there was a tense scene playing out in front of him. Spike didn't seem to notice - or if he did, it wasn't bothering him - that Wood was boring holes through him. If looks could stake.
Then it dawned on Xander. Wood didn't seem to be sizing up Spike for a fight, but rather, was trying to decide what to say to the vampire who'd killed his mother, and then nearly killed him years later, only to save him by closing the Hellmouth.
"You know I don't like you," Wood stated, breaking the silence.
Xander started looking around for the nearest exit. This could get ugly.
Spike looked up at the former principal and met his steely gaze with one of his own. He straightened up into a sitting position and leaned forward, never blinking.
"Good, the feeling's mutual."
"But, you did sacrifice yourself to save the world."
"That I did," Spike replied casually.
"And by extension, you saved me," Wood said grudgingly.
"Right hero, that's what I am."
"Let's not get carried away."
"No, it's true; I'm a hero. I'm a bloody champion." Spike smirked, knowing he was getting to Wood.
Xander felt like he was watching a tennis match, the way the two sworn enemies were volleying comments back and forth.
"Look, Spike, I'm trying to be civil here. You don't have to be an ass."
Spike feigned shock. "Why, Wood. Are we having a 'moment'?"
"No, I'm just letting you know that I'm not going to be on your case the way I was in Sunnydale, even though I still don't like you and will never completely trust you."
"Spike!" Xander interjected. He knew how hard this had to be for Wood. He wasn't about to let Spike make it even more difficult. Wood looked at the Watcher, seeming to sense his concern, and smiled. He turned his attention back to Spike.
"I'm willing to put the past behind us and move on. We're on the same team, whether I like it or not, and you've proven to be loyal when it comes to your friends."
Spike opened his mouth, a smartass remark ready and waiting to fly out. But he stopped himself. He stood up and offered his hand to Wood.
"Right, then. We'll make with the nice and fight the good fight."
Wood took Spike's hand, and they shook on it.
"But I still don't have to like you, right?" Wood asked mockingly.
"I don't see why you should," agreed Xander. "I don't like him, and we've been working with each other just fine." Xander smiled at Wood who laughed.
Spike scowled but then chuckled when he realized it was the same kind of remark that he would have made if Xander and Wood hadn't spoken first. If you enjoy being a smart ass, yourself, you also need to accept, and perhaps admire, the same attitude from others.
"Well, now that that's settled," Xander began, rubbing his hands together in anticipation, "where can I go to put on my boogie shoes?"
"Bathroom's third door on the right. Or, if the girls are in there, you can use the bedroom across the hall from it. Spike, did you bring your---"
"I've never worn boogie shoes," Spike replied sternly.
Meanwhile, Mena had finally put on the bright blue shirt. She was quite surprised by how good it looked on her. The neckline accentuated her breasts, making them appear to be quite a bit larger than they actually were. It was a good thing she was barely a "B" cup, because there was no way she could wear a bra with this shirt.
Mena made her way to the bathroom to show Faith, who greeted her fellow Slayer with a high five.
"Damn, Mena, you look great!" Faith said with a smile. "Xander is so going to kick my ass when he sees you," she said with a laugh.
"Well, if he doesn't, I'm sure Spike will."
Faith nodded in agreement. "Come here and let me get you all glamoured up," she said, pulling out some eye liner.
Mena closed her eyes in compliance, but Faith could tell that she was nervous about how she would end up looking. Faith could not help but like spending time with the younger Slayer. She never got to have much quality "girl time" with Buffy when they were Mena's age. Well, just a little older than Mena, actually.
However, Faith had gotten to know some of the Potentials leading up to that final battle in Sunnydale and had enjoyed the time she had spent with them. Thinking about those girls now made her rather sad, knowing that some of them were dead, their lives taken before they had really lived.
"Do you ever get lonely? I mean, you have Robin, but do you ever feel alone?" Mena asked in a voice so soft that Faith wondered if she was actually meant to hear it.
"Sure, I get lonely. I think everyone does. I also think it's really hard being a Slayer sometimes. You have to be prepared to lose people you care about. It's a dangerous job, but somebody's got to do it, right?"
"Right," agreed Mena. "It's an important job and our duty to protect others who can't protect themselves. I sincerely believe that."
"Just make sure you keep your training up. Be smart and careful, and always try to have back-up. Those are the major things I learned while I was in Sunnydale, though I sure as hell resisted them when I was starting out. It really sucks to lose someone due to your own carelessness or stubbornness."
Mena nodded as she listened to Faith's words. Although she did not answer verbally, Faith's words struck a chord with the girl. She had considered herself fortunate to have not lost any loved ones yet, at least not permanently. She sometimes felt that she had lost her family because they were apart so much of the time, and she longed for her past, when she had spent her days reading and listening to her nyanya.
"Well, I think I'm done with you. Of course, it's not exactly hard putting makeup on a girl as pretty as you."
Mena blushed at Faith's words. "I'm not pretty," she said, avoiding eye contact with the mirror.
Faith rolled her eyes as Mena spoke. "Like hell, you aren't pretty! Didn't they tell you that hotness was a requirement for getting chosen? I could've sworn Giles was going to put that in the new version of the Slayer Handbook," she laughed as she walked out the bathroom door.
Mena glanced at herself in the mirror and was thankful that she did not look like a prostitute as she had feared. Then she followed Faith out of the bathroom.
"Well, I really think we need to have a discussion with Mr. Giles about that requirement because I have read the Slayers' Handbook several times, and there is no mention--"
A low whistle from Spike cut her off as the two girls arrived in the living room.
"Well now, don't you look beautiful tonight," Spike said, grinning at the girl.
"Why, thank you, Spike, but you really shouldn't whistle at girls. It's quite improper," Mena said.
"Especially girls as young as Mena, unless you want to go to jail, which might not be such a bad idea for you, Spike. Jail worked wonders for Faith here."
"You're such a funny guy, Xander, but Angel was the one who liked his girls young," Spike replied, smirking.
Faith rolled her eyes, clearly more irritated than amused at the banter. She stepped up into Slayer pre-battle mode.
"As great fun as it is, listening to you guys tease each other about sex, we really need to get going. I need all of you at the top of your game. Our main objective tonight is to release the prisoners and take out the big head honcho. Stay safe and try not get killed. Any questions?" Faith asked as she opened the apartment door.
Xander raised his hand but did not wait for Faith to acknowledge him before he asked his question. "Is she really going to wear that?" he inquired, pointing to Mena.
"Yes," Mena answered sharply.
Xander dropped the complaint, knowing that as much as he hated her wearing the outfit, it was no use fighting with a Slayer who had made up her mind.
"Let's get this show on the road. Want this bloke dusted before sunrise," Spike said anxious to get to the club.
"I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with Spike," Robin said with a slight smile.
Spike nodded at him just as Faith swung the door open, and the very determined group headed for the club.
The group arrived at the large club that was situated in the Waterfront hot spot for Cleveland night life and vampire activity known as The Flats.
Spike could smell all of the young people around him. He could almost taste the delicious, warm blood inside of them. It was tempting for him, yet he would never dare drink human blood again. It was much safer to stick to his animal blood diet.
The club, Metropolis, was located on the west side of the strip and was apparently quite popular. Spike observed the club-goers who were in line at the door; all appeared to be human. He reckoned most of the vampires must already be inside.
"I can't believe how easy this club was to get into; you would think he would have at least looked at me when I said I forgot my license at home. I am sure this place is positively loaded with underage drinkers. We really should report this establishment to the state and have their liquor license revoked," Mena said in obvious irritation as the group walked down a long hallway that lead to the entrance of the dance floor.
"Personally, I'm kind of hoping that we shut this place down for good. There are plenty of hot bars in this town where the patrons don't get eaten," Robin said.
Faith nodded in agreement, "Although, I do have to give this place props. It's cool and happening and really rocks -- except for the vamps. So here is the plan. Robin and I are going to take the dance floor and get our groove on because most of the vamps in this town already know us, and, well, let's just say we're not going to get an invite downstairs anytime soon, not by a vampire anyway."
"Not bloody likely," Spike agreed.
"Spike, you and Xander should probably head to the bar and chat up the ladies. There are always vamp-ho'es hanging about. Some of them may have passes to get downstairs, so play along and try to get invited to come with. Hopefully, that will get us in there. If that doesn't work, we'll just break down the door. That's the door that I want you to stand by, Mena. Watch who is going in and out, but don't make it too obvious that you're spying."
"Yes, ma'am," Xander said in mock sarcasm as Faith finished outlining her plan to the group.
It was strange seeing Faith in such a commanding role; it made Spike think of Buffy. He wondered how she would handle the situation. She probably would just burst in and break down the door to Kevin's VIP area to begin with. Buffy always loved making an entrance. He would have imagined Faith to be that kind of Slayer as well. This bloke must really be something, if he's got Faith taking such precautions.
The group followed Faith through the door to the dance floor. Spike was amazed at how nice a club it was, definitely not the sleazy kind of bar that one might expect vampires to run. It was very crowded, the clientele consisting mostly of college-aged people, dancing provocatively on the floor that was illuminated by colorful lights hanging from the ceiling. The music was so loud that you could feel the vibrations of the sound system throughout your body.
"See you guys later," Faith yelled loudly to the group, so that they could hear her over the techno music being spun by the DJ. She and Wood headed toward the overcrowded dance floor.
"I guess Spike and I should go and buy a few of those nice ladies some drinks," Xander said as he pointed to some of the girls at the bar who were dressed in what was probably meant to be vampire attire.
"Chumu, guys," Mena said as she left to locate the VIP door of the club.
Spike looked over at Xander with a questioning expression on his face.
"She said good luck," Xander told him. "My guess is we are going to need all the luck we can get. Those girls don't really look all that approachable," Xander said as he stared at the girls dressed in the vamp clothing at the bar.
"Those girls remind me of that vampire-loving cult in Sunnydale. You know, the ones I was supposed to turn but was really only going to eat; that is, until Buffy stopped me," Spike mused. "Stupid bints. Someone really should teach those wannabe losers how real vampires dress," he added as he and Xander started to walk over to the bar.
"Maybe that can be your next career move. You could publish a book called How to Dress like a Vampire," Xander replied with a laugh.
"Hey, that is a bloody good idea. I should impart my knowledge to the world as a public service," Spike said.
"So, exactly how do you think we should go about making moves on these girls?" Xander asked Spike, figuring the vampire was far better at flirting than he'd ever be.
Spike smirked, "Don't worry, mate, just watch me," Spike said as he walked over to girls dressed in their idea of "vamp-wear", which consisted of long, black dresses with bell-shaped sleeves.
The girls had dark hair and pale skin that was obviously achieved by makeup. They were probably what some people would consider "Goth", a look that always kind of repelled Spike. He knew that many might consider Dru a gothic type of vampire, but it was merely her hair color that made her appear that way. She didn't always dress in old-fashioned clothes. Sometimes Dru wore extremely modern, fashionable attire, although it's true that her color scheme was often black, white or red.
"Hello, ladies. My friend and I were just wondering if you would care for a drink."
Spike looked at Xander for back-up, but he just gave a goofy smile and a nod in the girls' direction. However, one of them, a plump girl, seemed to be very taken by the Watcher.
"I would love to have a drink," she said with an enthusiastic smile aimed at Xander.
The other girl was not as taken by Spike; she seemed to be suspicious of him. Or maybe she was just a moody girl. Whatever it was, she was not that impressed with the vampire. Spike tried to get the girl talking, who after ten minutes, finally revealed her name was Eve.
"Knew a girl named Eve when I was in L.A. Interesting bird, she was," Spike said with a laugh. "Always kept you guessing."
Eve did not find his conversation very intriguing at all and just stared blankly at the Sex on the Beach he had ordered for her.
"Gabby, I'm bored. Maybe we can use that pass to get downstairs now," Eve said, turning to her friend who had engaged in a lively conversation with Xander.
"Oh," Gabby said, looking sadly at her friend. "But I'm really having fun talking to Xander. Hey, maybe you guys could join us downstairs."
"That sounds like a wonderful idea. You game?" Xander asked Spike with a smile.
Spike was thankful that Xander had achieved much more luck with Gabby than he had with Eve, or else they would be back to Faith's plan of kicking down the door. Of course, that did not seem like such a bad idea at the present time.
"Oh, yeah. I would love to go downstairs, but we should make sure the others join us as well," Spike said reminding Xander of the Slayers and Wood.
"Others?" Gabby asked hesitantly.
"Yeah," Xander added with caution, "we came with three other friends of ours. Two girls and a guy. If we go anywhere, we ought to include them in the fun," Xander said trying to sound as natural as possible, so that the girls did not get suspicious.
"Oh, I don't think that should be a problem at all," Gabby replied, smiling. "The more, the merrier."
Eve glared at the other girl, obviously disagreeing about whether or not this was a good idea, but Spike had expected as much. In the end, it did not matter if Eve wanted them there or not. Gabby was their "ticket" downstairs.
Xander asked Gabby and Eve to wait for a moment while he and Spike went to look for Faith and Wood. The dance floor was packed with people, and finding the two of them was proving to be nearly impossible.
"Don't you have vampire senses that can just zero in on them no matter where they are?" Xander asked in frustration.
Spike rolled his eyes, "It's not exactly easy to pick up a scent with all of these people around. It makes it bloody hard to trace anyone."
"I always thought you had some kind of vamp radar that could triangulate on a Slayer in a crowd. You always seemed to be able to find Buffy."
"Doing my best, mate."
Spike was just about to give up his search when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Faith and Wood standing there smiling.
"Looking for us?" Wood asked.
Xander and Spike were tempted to punch both Faith and Wood right then and there, but knew it was probably not the best thing to do. They told the couple that Xander had made a friend with a pass to get through the door.
"Way to go, Xan," Faith said giving him a high five.
"Thanks. I really didn't do anything; the girl did most of the talking," Xander said blushing.
"We had better get back to those girls quickly. Eve might convince your admirer to leave us out here," Spike said.
The group made their way back to the bar. Luckily, the girls were still where the guys had left them, although they were visibly upset. Perhaps they had been arguing. The group made their basic introductions before starting over to the VIP door.
When they got to the VIP door to the basement, Spike laughed at how silly it seemed. It was a purple door with a yellow star on it. The letters VIP were written on the star. Mena smiled as she saw her group approach from her position along the back wall.
"There you are," she said, smiling at her friends as they prepared to go into the basement.
Spike watched as Gabby slid a VIP card into a strip in order to get the door to open. Spike was both nervous and excited about what awaited them behind those doors. He only hoped there were not too many of them down there right now, and that his team would come out the victors in the fight.
Like a scene pulled from a cheesy television show of the eighties, the door slid slowly open to reveal the darkened mouth of a long stone stairwell, dimly lit by a few torches. Spike shook his head in disappointment at the rather cheap attempt at theatrics, catching Faith's unimpressed stare as she walked up to him. They all shared a glance before beginning their descent, following Gabby and Eve while they chattered excitedly ahead of them.
"This is supposed to be hot, you guys," Gabby was gushing, stealing a glance back at Xander with obvious intent. "Very few people get the pass. Eve and I got it at the entrance! Can you believe it? The bouncer said we had the right style to fit in."
"Oh, you've never been down here before, then?" Mena asked from where she walked next to Xander, stealing a nervous glance around their surroundings. "Is it a private party of sorts?"
Whatever reply the Goth girls were going to give was forgotten as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Spike hurried forward to take in the scene. A huge room stood before them in a sort of parody to the club upstairs. The dimmed lighting did little to hide the vampires that crowded the room, sensuous bodies dancing to a low beat while fangs gleamed clearly from their grinning faces. Most of them were unconcerned by the new arrivals, busy as they were, terrorizing the humans in their grasp. Spike was the first to notice the piece de resistance within the surreal ambiance, a large jail cell befitting a dungeon, near the back of the room with thick steel bars that separated the victims from their predators.
The tang of fear coming from the group of humans locked in the cage hit Spike like a punch, and he took an involuntary step forward even as he felt Faith's hand land heavily on his shoulder.
"There must be at least thirty vampires in here," she hissed at him, and Spike turned worried eyes to her and the rest of the group.
Unsurprising were the shocked faces that greeted him, as Xander and Mena took in the large nest in front of them. Wood's expression hadn't altered, though Spike read the sudden coldness in his eyes and didn't blame him for it. He didn't want to expose the lot of them to these odds, but even as he stood there, he felt his fists balling up in anger.
From the cage, the thunderous beat of frightened heartbeats hummed in Spike's ears, and he calculated there were about twenty humans in this room, not counting those who came with him.
Grim determination marring his features, Spike grabbed Gabby and Eve from where they stood in front of him, observing the scene in confusion. He yanked them back while ignoring their cries of outrage at the rough treatment.
"Listen to me," he yelled to them over the music, making sure the annoyed women were aware of the seriousness of the situation. "You need to get out of here, now. This isn't safe."
"What are you talking about?" Eve asked irritably. "This is obviously some sort of role-play here, fun and games. Did you check out the costumes? They even have the whole setting. We're not wasting our passes by leaving before---"
Just then a woman screamed, and Spike decided he couldn't afford to waste more time. "Xander, get them out of here!" he ordered and shoved Gabby and Eve toward him.
Spike turned to face the room, only to find a burly vampire holding a middle-aged woman by the scruff of her neck against the wall, laughing as she clawed uselessly against his grip. He started forward, comforted as he saw Faith moving to do the same, while Wood stood close to Mena in the rear.
Walking straight to the vampire, Spike tapped him on the shoulder, waiting until he turned to strike a hit right into the brute's nose. Crying out, the vampire immediately released his grip on the woman, choosing instead to roar at Spike while attempting to tackle him. Faith used the distraction and led the weeping woman towards the stairs. Spike easily sidestepped the attack, noticing that the fight was drawing the attention of the vampires around them, and that a face-off was becoming inevitable.
Aware he couldn't dally now, Spike aimed a kick straight for the other vampire's knees before the undead brute could regain his balance, effectively toppling him over. In one quick motion, Spike pulled a stake from his pant leg and slammed it straight into his opponent's back, piercing the heart. As the doomed vamp exploded into ashes, Spike stood assuredly in the sudden silence that fell over the room, smirking at the many gazes that rested on him.
"Hello, mates," he called cheerily, quickly scanning the room to make sure his team was standing ready for the upcoming fight. Wood nodded at him curtly, while Faith pulled her stake from her jacket. Spike grinned madly, sweeping his eyes over the rest of the room to seek the vampires that would represent the biggest threat. "Anyone else want a quick tumble then?"
And that's when all hell broke loose.
From out of nowhere, Spike found his arms being grabbed from behind with an unyielding grip that threatened to grind muscle and bone into a permanent puddle if he didn't move quickly. Honed reflexes, however, and years of having Angelus trap him in similar grips were enough to make him react almost with no thought; as his attacker drew Spike closer to take a bite, Spike threw his head back in a sudden violent move, assuredly stunning the other vampire enough that he loosened his grip on Spike's trapped arms. Using the advantage, Spike swirled around and smacked the vampire in the chin with two strikes that dazed him enough to make him oblivious to the stake that sealed his fate.
"One down, a bloody lot to go," he muttered gamely, taking a second to look around by hopping onto an overturned chair, dismayed to find the room in utter chaos. His team thankfully, was managing to stay together, and Faith was easily dispatching the fledglings stupid enough to attack her first. Robin was working to keep the exit clear; Mena was a blur of motion close by.
Toward the back of the room, closer to the bar, Xander was fighting a female vamp whose moves indicated more experience than Spike would have expected from a vampire found in this den. Before he could move to offer assistance, though, a flying barstool hit her squarely in the back, dropping her forward and directly onto Xander's raised stake.
With a shake of his head, Spike jumped down onto the back of a male vampire heading for Mena, who was holding her own, much to Spike's relief. He used his own momentum to drop them both onto the floor, wrestling savagely for control until he managed a firm grip on the stake. As he raised it, though, a kick to the head sent him flying onto the bar, smashing the shot glasses lined there in a crashing cacophony of breaking glass.
Struggling to regain his footing and ignoring the minor cuts he suffered, Spike came face to face with a grinning woman whose red lips came from something other than lipstick.
"There now," She laughed, "You said you wanted a tumble."
With a snarl, she rushed forward, her surprisingly strong grip closing on each side of his face, ready to snap his neck in two. She'd forgotten his hands, though, and wasn't fast enough to stop the stake he'd kept a firm hold on from imbedding itself in her chest.
Soon enough, as Spike tried to make his way back to the group, a fledgling hurled himself at him, swinging hits that were almost laughable in their lack of technique. Spike grabbed him by the lapels of his expensive jacket, swinging him to the side and straight into the vamp that Wood was fighting with. Grinning faintly at the other man's slightly affronted expression, Spike barely ducked in time to avoid a broken bottle flying at his face.
Already there was an obvious decrease in the horde of vampires they were facing. With a frown, Spike glanced around, noticing some of their adversaries were moving away from the fight, rushing toward a side door of this bizarre imitation of a human club. With a cry, Spike ran after them, intent on stopping them, but most had already escaped by the time he got there.
Looking to make sure his team had the fight well controlled, and satisfied to notice less than six vampires left, he decided to take the time to block this exit instead and threw two overturned tables into it, stopping further escape. Turning his attention towards the cage, he went to the cell door, frustrated at the trap the steel presented and trying to ignore the humans' pleas for freedom, clamoring in his ears as he tried to think of what to do.
Just then, a friendly hand landed lightly on his shoulder, dangling a set of keys. Spike turned to thank his friend, and froze instead, finding himself face to face with a vampire.
A frighteningly familiar vampire.
Spike turned around in the gentle grip, the dying fight around them becoming background noise as he stared straight into the vampire's laughing eyes. Kevin. The same Kevin Dru had sired in 1969.
The other vampire seemed awfully calm for someone whose club was being smashed to pieces, but that was the faintest of worries in Spike's mind at the moment. The captive humans were shouting for help from the cage behind him, making it hard for him to concentrate.
"It's been a long time, Spike," Kevin said lightly, his smile never faltering on smooth features.
He looked every inch the businessman, standing there in what was more than likely a designer suit. Except that when you really looked at him, at his eyes and his slightly off expression, he so obviously wasn't a typical businessman at all.
"Somehow I hadn't been expecting you to arrive quite like this," Kevin continued. "I had always imagined a more congenial visit between old friends."
Spike blinked, grinning cockily even while he was trying to pull himself together. He hadn't been expecting a standoff with Kevin so early on. And he certainly hadn't expected Faith's Kevin to be the vampire he knew from Woodstock.
"Well, I never did get an invite, mate. That's terribly rude of you. Pretty playground you've made here and all."
"Oh, but we were expecting you, Spike," Kevin informed him simply, suddenly extending his hand with the dangling keys in it. "I assume you want the tasty snacks to walk away and give us a moment alone to catch up, don't you? You're all soul-having now, or so I hear. Must be quite the story."
"Not much to it," Spike said easily, not once taking his eyes off Kevin. Inwardly, he winced, trying to understand how the vamp had found out about the soul so quickly. This encounter would have been easier without that tidbit of shared knowledge.
"What's the price for those?" Spike asked, nodding towards the keys.
"No price for you, old friend," Kevin smiled innocently, the expression somehow twisting his features into something darker.
His eyes were blank and brighter than normal for anyone who hadn't died full of LSD. Kevin looked towards the last vestiges of the fight going on behind them, watching without a reaction as the last of the vampires was dusted.
"Let's just get your minions out of the way, shall we?" asked Kevin. "I think I'd rather keep this in the family."
Spike was unsurprised when the keys were yanked from Kevin's hand before he could respond by the steady hand of the woman that came to stand beside him. Faith's wary gaze betrayed the offensive move. Staying next to Spike, she seemed to take her time measuring Kevin with cold regard, finally face-to-face with the mind behind most of her city's problems. The stake was gripped firmly in her hand.
"Kevin, isn't it?" she said flippantly, while tossing the keys to Robin's waiting hand. The man quickly unlocked the cell, and the freed humans wasted no time in running to the exit in a thunderous clamor that left the others behind, standing in tense silence.
Kevin, still unnaturally calm while surrounded by his enemies, smiled at Spike. That's when Spike realized the side door was once again unblocked and there were vamps entering from it, beginning to block the access to the upper level by closing the heavy doors in front of them.
Spike's shout alerted Xander and Mena of the danger behind them, though, and they were quickly followed by Robin in the fight against the newly arrived vampires. Faith remained at Spike's side, seemingly ready to stake Kevin at the slightest opportunity. Spike knew the chance of success was slim. Spike had already seen the curved dagger gripped in Kevin's left hand, and he was pretty sure the Slayer had seen it also. Kevin, if memory served, had always had a knack with knives.
"You must be the Slayer," Kevin drawled, moving to lean against the bars of the cage. There was a hint of a familiar madness in his eyes, and Spike felt his unease reach new levels. "I'd say it's a pleasure but -- you understand."
"You don't remember me, Kevvy, I'm crushed!" Faith said in a mocking tone.
"We've met before? Must not have been a very difficult fight."
"Well, maybe this time you'll remember me," Faith replied as she kicked the vampire in the face.
"Spike, watch out!" Xander called out, and Spike stepped aside in time to make the fledgling coming at him stumble.
He pounced on him, staking him immediately. Noticing with a tinge of worry that there were still more vampires coming through the side door, Spike looked towards Faith to see the same expression on her face.
Kevin watched them both with a calculating glint, his smile utterly amused. "Spike, I'd much rather if this were between us. There's so much to tell each other, isn't there? And I've so much to show you! I'd bet I could even shock you with some of it."
"Doubt it, mate," Spike called back at him, circling around a female vamp that held a broken chair leg as a weapon. Fortunately, the tensing of her whole body was warning enough, and Spike was able to disarm her, kicking her in the side and toppling her over in time to be staked without much fuss. "You know, I've seen plenty in my day."
"Spike, let's get out here!"
He heard Faith call to him, but didn't turn around to acknowledge her. Kevin seemed to be waiting for him to run. It infuriated him.
"There's too many! Spike!"
And she was right. Spike looked around to notice the vamps were easily herding them away from the exits, trying to circle them and block all escape. They had no major plan to deal with this, and no hope to bring Kevin down while they were so surrounded. The earlier victory was quickly becoming meaningless.
Spike met Kevin's eyes squarely, a stand-off of wills and an acknowledgment of a shared past that lasted only until he felt Xander's violent grip on his arm.
"Let's go. Right now," Xander urged, wary eyes trained on Kevin.
After grinding his teeth for a seemingly endless moment, Spike finally turned away from Kevin's gaze and let Xander herd him towards the rest of the group, where he noticed for the first time how weary all of them looked. Spike growled, unleashing his helpless rage against anything that tried to block their retreat towards the stairwell, not once turning around to acknowledge Kevin. Faith was the one who pushed him to the stairs and kept him going when they reached them, her firm grip guiding him upward.
Just before reaching the top of the steps, Spike heard a hauntingly familiar laugh echoing around them. Freezing for a second, he began to turn around to make certain of the voice, but Faith's grip on his arm only got firmer, pushing him onwards. Robin opened the door that led back to the human level of the club, while Kevin's mocking voice reached them from beneath.
"We'll be waiting, Spike!"
The group headed over to a downtown eatery, called The Sanctuary, that was near Kevin's club. It was a large, dimly-lit restaurant, with factory style ceilings and a huge bar. If Spike wasn't convinced that he'd need his full mental capacities that night, he would've headed over to the bar to get himself completely wasted; but he knew that the group needed him to help come up with a plan on how to deal with Kevin and his minions.
Spike watched as the rest of the group ordered huge plates of Buffalo wings and hamburgers that were loaded with all the goods, yet he had no desire to eat. This place even had a blooming onion, but he still could not bring himself to order it.
It just did not seem quite real; it was almost like the whole thing had been a dream. He never would have imagined that the raving, hippie bloke who Drusilla sired at Woodstock would have escaped being dusted for over 35 years, let alone become a successful bar owner, with a large coterie of minions. And not just minions, but Aurelian minions, if Kevin and his offspring had sired all of them.
Spike also replayed the laugh that he had heard echoing in the lair as they left. He would know that laugh anywhere. It was definitely her laugh.
Spike looked around at the rest of the group, who were sitting around the circular table, staring at him but not saying a word. He was pretty sure they didn't know what to say. They had all seen that conversation in the club basement that doubled as a dungeon and had noticed that he really did not want to leave. Some part of each of them was probably wondering if they should even trust him. The other part was just waiting for him to speak.
"Kevin was sired by Drusilla when we were at Woodstock," he finally told them.
"Boy, she really knows how to pick them, doesn't she?" Xander said with a mocking tone.
"Hey now, I turned out all right in the end," Spike replied.
"Who is Drusilla?" Robin asked quietly. He intended for the question to be heard only by Faith, but Spike heard it, of course, and decided to respond.
Spike took a deep breath and began to speak softly, "Drusilla is my sire. She and I were together for over a hundred years. We broke up only a few years ago, actually, soon after I made my first alliance with Buffy. Dru was never happy about that, so she sent me packing, and that's what led me back to Sunnydale. Guess you could say that, in a way, she's why I'm here today."
Xander laughed. "You make it sound like a fairy tale. The truth is, you first helped Buffy only because Dru was busy making eyes at Angelus, and you couldn't handle that."
Mena rolled her eyes in frustration. "Can we just focus on the task at hand instead of digging up your entire life history? Spike, you said that Drusilla sired Kevin. That makes him like a brother to you?" she asked, trying to see if she understood the situation at all.
Spike nodded. "Well, guess you could say that. It makes us from the same line of vampires. The line of Aurelius. Really didn't know the guy very well. Talked a fair bit at Woodstock and gave him some advice before we parted ways. Haven't seen him since."
Robin raised his eyebrows at this, "What kind of advice?"
"Just, you know, taught him how to feed, where to find blokes to feed off of, how to lure them into your trap and then dispose of the bodies. It's typical for any fledgling to be taught the ropes when they are first turned," Spike said, purposefully not mentioning anything that might suggest that he'd encouraged Kevin take over the world.
"So, you were like his mentor, and now here he is thirty some years later wanting to take over the world. Bet you feel real proud of that, huh?" Xander said with a smirk.
"Xander!" Mena snapped.
"No, pet, he's right. Seeing Kevin today riled me up good. That's why I think it would be best if you lot stay home tomorrow and let me deal with my little brother. He's my responsibility."
Faith laughed bitterly. "Didn't you get your brain back when you returned from dust? Because that's got to be the lamest excuse to keep us out of the situation that I have ever heard! And, trust me, I've heard some lame ones. Hell, I've even given some weak excuses myself, but none of them were that lame."
Spike stared at her and sighed. He knew that it was not going to be easy to convince them to stay out of the lair, but he really felt it was something that he had to do by himself. Besides, with Drusilla being in town, there was no way he was going to risk anyone getting stake-happy with her. She was far too important to him. If anyone was going to have to kill or be killed by Dru, it was going to be him.
"It's not just because of Kevin that I feel I should do this on my own. As we were leaving, I heard Drusilla laughing," Spike told the group.
"Can I say whoa? I mean, are you sure? There were plenty of other vampires there; how do you know it was her laugh?" Xander asked in a high-pitched, shocked voice.
"I was with the lady for over a century, Harris. I believe I know what her laugh sounds like," Spike said, quite irritated at the continued questions.
"Really shouldn't be surprised, now that I think about it. Family has always been really important to Drusilla. If she can't have me, and with both Angel and Darla gone, it makes sense that she'd look for other family members," Spike said somewhat sadly.
"Well, that doesn't change anything. We still need to go in there with a full attack. I have tracked this vampire leader far too long," Faith said quickly, "to just sit back and do nothing."
"You're wrong. It changes everything," Spike snapped. "Listen, I told you guys already, this is my fight. My responsibility. You can think whatever you want about Drusilla, but really, underneath it all, she is not completely responsible for her actions. She did not ask for any of this to happen to her. She is like a child---"
"A psycho-killer child," Xander interrupted.
"If she ends up dust tomorrow, it'll be because I staked her," Spike said sternly.
"Maybe Spike is right," Mena said.
Spike could not help but smile at the Slayer for her support in this matter. However, the other people at the table did not seem to have the same reaction and were glaring at the girl.
Mena continued on, tentatively, as she looked around the table. The events of the night's attack had weighed heavily on the girl's mind. She was sure that had they acted in a more cautious manner, the whole situation would have turned out to their advantage.
"I mean, since Spike is the most familiar with Kevin and Drusilla, then it makes sense that he'd be the best person to go in there and talk them down. It's not going to do any good to try another full-on ambush like we did today. We'll just get ourselves killed, even if takes more precautions tomorrow."
Xander laughed. "Mena, they aren't going to just give up and surrender on their own. They are vampires, and they know they've got the numbers on their side."
"No, but they bloody well might get to a point where they trust me again. I'm a smooth talker, Harris, you should know that," Spike responded with a smirk.
After several more minutes of debating, the group finally decided to allow Spike to go to Kevin's on his own. If he could lull the vampires into a sense of security, then they would not be expecting a surprise attack from the others. They decided that the best time for the attack would be the very next afternoon.
Spike would go ahead of the rest of the group, through the underground sewer system. Mena, using her expert hacking skills, would acquire the layout for him. That way, his arrival might manage to surprise Kevin and Drusilla, and he could pretend to have come in peace, without having alerted the Slayers and Watchers to his plans.
Of course, the rest of the group was planning to follow shortly behind Spike, coming through the main club entrance. They were to wait for the signal, a shout from Spike, before breaking down the door. The whole idea of this plan made Spike very nervous. He didn't much care what happened to Wood, but he certainly didn't want any of the others to die. And truth be told, he couldn't honestly bring himself to hope for Drusilla to meet her dusty death either. He could hardly wait for the next day to be over, and he hoped that the end result would be the best possible scenario.
The group arrived back at the hotel completely exhausted from the night's battle. However, Mena was still determined to hack into the city's computer records that night so that the group would be highly prepared in the morning when they returned to Kevin's lair. To Mena's surprise, Cleveland's sewer layout was very easy to hack into.
"I was expecting it to be a bit harder than that. Most cities don't like to divulge their underground sewer system information so readily --- you know, what with the possibility of terrorist activities, let alone demons. However, anyone with even the most minor hacking abilities would be able to pull these up," Mena mused, staring into the laptop.
"Well, it makes sense if you try to see it from the perspective of Spike's vampire buddy Kevin and his psycho ex-girlfriend Drusilla," Xander said.
"Hey!" Spike retorted.
Xander rolled his eyes at Spike's interjection but continued, "Seriously, though, if you think about it, Kevin has lots of connections. He probably also has plenty of friends on the City Council, which means he can get access to pretty much anything on the city's website that he and his sewer dwelling friends want. Also, for an added bonus, it's really easy to hack into, so he doesn't even need to make sure his minions are smart."
Mena nodded, "I suppose so," she said with a yawn. "It's been a really long day. I'm going to get some sleep. Spike, make sure you study that. From what I can see, there doesn't seem to be a direct route from here to Kevin's club, so you are going to have to create a plan---"
Mena looked away from her laptop to see the vampire staring off into the Cleveland skyline in the hotel window. "Spike?" she asked tentatively.
The city lights had immediately drawn Spike's attention, not because of any affinity for city lights, but because he figured he could stare at them and think without anyone knowing what he was doing. As he looked down on Cleveland's buildings and parks and homes, he thought about Drusilla and Kevin. Two vampires tied to his past. Tied to his sins.
In many ways, Spike felt personally responsible for both of them. If only I hadn't given Kevin advice on taking over the world; if only I had never fallen in love with Buffy; if only I had never gotten a soul. If only... His thoughts raced through his mind.
Spike could continue all night, reminding himself of his past sins in hopes that somehow that would take away the pent up guilt that had been lingering inside of him for so long. Guilt was not a new theme for Spike, especially these past two years, when he had spent countless hours wishing he could change certain past events.
Fred's apparition in the Colorado caves had recently told him that he harbored too much guilt over his past. She said that if he continued to hang on to this much pain it would only harm him and everyone else. She was right. What good was all this guilt really doing for him or anyone else in the long run? He had to let it go. He certainly didn't want to turn into Mr. Broody Pants, Junior.
On the other hand, he wasn't completely positive that was actually Fred
in the caves. Her soul was supposed to have been destroyed during the
resurrection of Illyria. At least, that's what they had been told. So
how could she have visited him in the caves? Of course, it wouldn't have
been the first time he had been mislead or outright lied to by someone.
At any rate, the advice that the vision quest Fred had given him had been spot on. He had to try harder to let the feelings of guilt go.
"William the Bloody, scourge of Europe!" Xander yelled loudly, interrupting Spike from his thoughts.
"What?" Spike said, barely conscious of what was being said around him.
"Are you okay?" Mena asked, concerned.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired. So did you find everything all right, love?" he asked Mena, trying to draw attention away from himself.
Mena nodded, "It was very easy to access, in fact. The sewer system seems a bit complex, but I'm sure that you can read these things much better than I can," she said with a laugh. "Are you sure you're okay? I mean, you zoned out for quite a while there."
"I'm all right. Don't go worrying about me. Need our girl at the top of her game tomorrow, don't we?"
Mena nodded, smiling. "I know, but you know me -- I like to worry sometimes. Makes me feel useful," she said with a slight laugh. "Well, I am going to head to my room and try and get some sleep. Twesha!"
"Twesha," the two men responded in unison as they wished the Slayer a goodnight.
"That Mena sure is something, isn't she? Hacking into the city records and all," Spike said as he stared at the laptop once Mena had left the room.
"That she is. Watching her hack reminds me so much of Willow. Just like old times in some ways," Xander mused.
Spike raised his eyebrows at Xander's words. "Do the world a favor, Harris. Keep that Slayer of yours away from magic. We already have one super smart witch; really don't think we need another one. Can't even imagine how much power a bloody Slayer/witch would have."
Xander laughed. "I'll try my best, but you know Mena -- she will have to consult her Slayers' Handbook before telling me whether or not I'm right."
"Come off of it! Mena is fifteen, Harris. She doesn't want to listen to you because that's just the way teenagers are. It's in the bloody Teens' Handbook. Eventually, she'll come around. And we both know that Mena already listens a hell of a lot better than Buffy ever did."
Xander sighed. He hated when comparisons of his best friends and Mena were made, but it was something that he couldn't seem to resist doing. Sometimes he worried that Mena was not nearly as strong as Buffy was at her age.
"I worry about Mena sometimes. Especially before a battle, and I know there is a part of you that's probably worried, too, about what might happen if Drusilla gets her hands on Mena tomorrow."
"Yeah, I know," agreed Spike.
"It could just be that I was very naive back then, and we were so young, but sometimes I think Buffy was much stronger than Mena. Maybe it was just the people around her. I don't know. But I look at Mena and fear for her. I fear everyday that I'm going to lose her. I have lost so many people in my life, and I don't think I can handle losing another."
Tears had started to form in Xander's eyes as he finished talking, and he visibly shook himself to try to break out of that mood. His mind scrambled for something else to focus on.
Spike stared at the man. He had spent a great deal of time with Xander, but this was the first time he could remember that he had ever seen the man cry in front of him. Spike did not know what to do or what to say to make him feel better.
"Listen, I love the girl, too. You know that, right? I would never let anything happen to her. You know how I am with people I love. She is going to be fine. Mena is strong, much stronger than you give her credit for. And I bet you anything that she'll take it to heart if you make it clear that you're telling her something that you consider to be of dire importance. Talk to her very seriously tomorrow. Tell her everything you know about Drusilla and tell it to her straight. Do your job as a Watcher. That's all you can do. She knows we love her and care about her well-being."
Xander laughed bitterly. "Yeah, I know how you are with people you love. I know, because I found my best friend on the bathroom floor, in pain and crying because of what you had done to her! So, yeah, if that is how you treat people you love, maybe I shouldn't trust you with Mena or anyone else."
Spike stared at the other man. He could not believe what he had just heard. They had always riled each other up, but that was low, even for Harris. He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. It was the only way he could keep from attacking the other man, right then and there. He had figured that sooner or later, Harris would make a comment about his past with Buffy, but this seemed to come right out of the blue. And for Harris to say that he might, in fact, harm Mena was more out of line than he would ever have expected.
"I am not going to apologize for things that happened between Buffy and me. They are a private matter for the two of us to deal with and don't concern you at all. As for that time in my life -- can't change what I did without my soul. Can't change the past at all, actually. But if I could, there are any number of things that I'd change."
Spike was trying to stay calm, but he could feel his temper rising. Xander appeared to have completely lost his.
"Your soul, right. Angel had a soul and then he lost it. How can I be sure you're not going to go and do the same? You and Buffy ever test that out?"
"You're off your rocker if you really think I'm going to tell you about our sex life. And my soul is anchored, you git. I wasn't cursed like Angel; you know that. But I wonder, with the way you have acted sometimes, about the state of your own soul!" Spike said, giving Xander a cold glare.
"What do you mean by that?" said Xander as he rose from his bed.
"Not the one who left my gorgeous fiancee at the altar, am I? Didn't even have the balls to stick around and help her deal with the announcement to all the guests! And then you returned, claiming to still be in love," Spike sneered.
"Don't you dare bring Anya into this!" Xander shouted as he approached the vampire and stood very close to his face.
"Why not? Hate to be called on your own mistakes? Afraid to admit that it hasn't always been hugs and puppies in your past? You know, Harris, the day you decide to grow up and be a man, let me know. I'll throw a party."
Spike turned to walk out the door. He couldn't handle being in this room a moment longer. He had more important things to think about than fighting with Alexander Harris. He put his hand on the door and then it hit him. Even if he was pissed off at Harris, Mena still needed him, and he still needed Mena. Spike turned to Xander as he spoke.
"Listen, I'm only telling you this because there is a young girl next door who we both love very much. I think somewhere in that thick skull of yours, you know that. I know that Dru killed a Slayer, but as long as Mena doesn't fall under her spell, I don't think Dru can hurt her. Drusilla is strong, but she's not nearly as strong as a Slayer. She just has thrall. Make sure Mena understands that and never focuses on Dru's eyes. I would tell her, but it's your job and all," Spike said as he turned to leave.
"Where do you think you're going?" Xander asked.
"Think we both know that it's better if I don't stay here right now. Just make sure Mena and Faith come to the club tomorrow. Really need their back-up. And make sure everyone comes fully armed this time."
With that, Spike left the room and entered the cold, dark city of the Hellmouth.
Xander stared at the closed door for long minutes, his body rigid with anger and frustration, before the fight went out of his body in a rush. With a sigh, he sank down on his bed, head cradled in shaking hands.
"Stupid!" he muttered angrily to himself, briefly looking up at the door to Mena's room, then back to the spot where Spike had just been standing. "Stupid," he mumbled again, quietly now, before lapsing into silence.
Staring sightlessly out of his hotel window, Mike looked over the Cleveland buildings around the area with absolute disinterest. Things had once again gotten complicated. Since his last assignment, the drive to follow his orders and take care of his job as quickly as possible had diminished in spades, apparently dying along with his last partner. Damn it! He'd liked Tom. He had been a nice guy. Both of them were in this line of work only because of their families; it was the best job opportunity they could possibly have. Working for Wolfram and Hart, no matter the position, had merits everywhere.
Sighing, Mike closed his eyes briefly, thinking over the last few days. Traveling endlessly, making the arrangement to deliver Tom's body to his superiors, dealing with the fact that the vampire he was supposed to keep an eye on, the one that may or may not be terminated on short notice, had saved his life.
The werewolves incident in Chicago had shaken him up beyond measure, and since then, he'd been pondering the wisdom of his current job. But it really wasn't a matter of choice any longer. He was up to his neck in this, and there was no way to back down with his life and the lives of his family intact.
The ringing of his cell phone startled him out of his musings, the shrill sound adding a painful stab to his already throbbing temples. Glaring uselessly at it for a few seconds, Mike finally moved to answer it, allowing his tired body to sink into the inviting softness of his bed.
"Mike here," he said unnecessarily, focusing his eyes onto a small stain in the room's ceiling.
"I presume you are already on location," Sirk's perpetually irked tone droned over the line.
"Yes, sir," Mike drawled slowly, aware he was doing himself no favors, but unable to conjure up anything in the way of 'respectful' into his tone of voice. "What does the assignment involve this time around? I haven't been informed of the current mission."
"The mission has taken a slight turn," Sirk answered curtly, but the smug satisfaction in his voice put Mike on edge immediately. "After your latest...disaster, measures have been taken to assure you are an asset to the team, rather than a hindrance."
"Sir?" Mike answered hesitantly, sitting up on the bed. "What happened in Chicago was hardly controllable. Tom and I did what we--"
"Yes, Tom, of course," Sirk interrupted swiftly, bored words still tinged with a dark amusement that Mike was beginning to loathe. "Your last partner. Tell me, Mike, exactly how many of them are you planning on outliving?"
"No need for excuses," Sirk snapped suddenly, his harsh anger barely contained. "Our firm has no place for them. It has been determined that Spike is, apparently, far beyond your abilities; therefore, there has been a change of plans. Expect your new partner to meet you there tonight. We will tolerate no more mistakes."
"Sir, I am perfectly capable--" Mike stumbled over the words, gritting his teeth in bafflement.
"We have yet to see that," Sirk said simply. "Be sure to measure up to your partner's credentials. You'll find you are being sent the best the Senior Partners have to offer. Directly from our Beijing offices, she holds a flawless career in demon slaying, against your remarkably stained one. If I were you, I'd do my best to put a clean slate on my record."
And the line went dead. Mike stared at the phone for a good minute, before he was interrupted by a swift knock on his door.
Dread making a knot in his stomach, Mike stood up slowly, leaden steps carrying him slowly towards the room's door. A new partner? Or the end of his life? He wouldn't put it past the firm to terminate him like this; cleanly and silently. He had failed in their eyes, three times already, and would that merit a new partner in anyone's eyes?
Another knock came when he stood right in front of the door. Taking a deep breath, Mike put his hand on the doorknob, sweat making the grip slack as he yanked the door open, only to come face-to-face with a stunningly beautiful woman.
Asian features regarded him coldly, as glinting dark eyes seemed to evaluate him in one glance and find him terrible lacking. Her features twisted briefly in slight distaste before her face regained its calm once more, and she met his eyes squarely.
"Mike Rosales?" She asked calmly, lilting voice interrupting Mike's shocked trance. A perfectly manicured hand reached out with professional detachment, and he numbly reached out to shake the offered limb, thrown off balance by the unusually strong grip that engulfed his.
"Lia Hsu. We've been assigned as partners. I think you'll find that I am not so easily killed as my predecessors."
The next morning, Xander knew the time had come when he would have to face Mena. He hated having to exert authority over her; he hated the idea that he had authority at all. But this was too important to avoid a 'Watcher's talk'.
Xander walked towards Mena's door, knocking on it twice as he thought over what he had to say to her. His mind was a mess of jumbled thoughts, the memories and worries stumbling over each other in a seemingly endless battle to give him a headache.
One would think that given the planning and thought that they'd put into today's battle, nothing on Earth could go wrong. But if there was one thing that Xander Harris had learned from living on the Hellmouth, it's that everything can go wrong quite quickly. And it usually does.
"Yes?" Mena called, emerging from her room a second later. Now rid of last night's 'clubbing attire', she wore comfortable clothes fit for slaying, the kind of clothes Buffy rarely indulged in. Sneakers replaced the high heeled boots Xander remembered so well from countless patrols back in Sunnydale. Shaking his head free of the past, Xander smiled wanly at Mena, taking a seat on the bed.
"Mena, we need to have a talk," he started slowly, grinning ruefully when a Giles-like voice echoed the words in his head.
"Sure," Mena smiled back, sitting down next to him. "Isn't Faith waiting for us, though?"
"Yeah, she just called. She and Robin will be waiting in the lobby
in fifteen minutes," he clarified, glancing at the cell phone he
still clutched. As he stuffed it into his jacket, his fingers briefly
grazed the stake he'd stored there, effectively placing his mind back
"Mena, I need you to know some very important things about the vamps we're fighting today." Immediately, Mena's face took on the serious expression he'd come to know as 'Listening to Watcher's Wisdom -- Pay Attention and Correct When Needed'. The thought nearly made him smile. Instead, he bit his lower lip, forcing himself to meet Mena's curious stare.
"Exactly how much do you know about Drusilla?"
Mena frowned as she thought of what to answer, subconsciously tucking a stray curl of her hair behind her ear in yet another move that managed to remind him of Buffy.
It seemed, the more Xander exposed this girl to dangerous situations, the more parallels he drew to his friend. And every time he did so, he couldn't help but think that he couldn't trust Mena to have the same expertise he'd come to rely on with Buffy. The thought scared him to death.
"Basically, what Spike told us," Mena told him frankly, waving a hand in a vague gesture towards her room. "The history lessons in the Slayers' Handbook need some serious work if they expect us to face legendary vampires." Pausing, she gave Xander a look that screamed disapproval. Xander nodded at her, urging her to continue.
"Well, I know that Angelus is her Sire, and that he drove her insane before deciding to turn her. I know she speaks seemingly nonsensical words, yet she has 'the Sight', which constantly haunts her with visions of the future. I'm also aware that she was Spike's Sire, and that she was his lover for a century and more. That's about it."
Xander nodded, taking a breath in preparation before diving into the past, dredging up the kind of memories he often wished he didn't hold. Never aloud, though. Anya had taught him that much.
"I'm afraid Drusilla is more dangerous than the books say, Mena." He told his Slayer bluntly, meeting her eyes. "I read some about her, back in Sunnydale. She was described as totally insane in most books; they claimed that her whims were the drive behind many of Spike's and even Angelus' most famous atrocities. But she's more than that. She can fight almost as well as Spike, and through her visions, she always holds an advantage. Whatever you do, Mena, don't listen to her. Don't let her games distract you. She has killed a Slayer before. She's going to want your death, too."
Mena's startled eyes gave Xander pause. She studied him intently for a few minutes, before her features hardened in real understanding. Xander let her assimilate that information as he struggled to continue his tale.
"Drusilla came to Sunnydale, once, did I ever tell you that?" he asked softly, and apparently something in his tone gave away how these memories still haunted him. Mena blinked twice, before reaching over and placing her smaller hand over his in a comforting gesture.
"You mentioned it once very briefly, but without any details," she said briefly, looking at him warmly. "I take it it's a difficult memory?"
He nodded for her benefit, unwilling to tell her just how much. It was one of many memories that haunted him since the first time he saw Mena's sweet face and realized he was responsible for her. From that first moment, he understood that he had a human life in his hands. And now, his memory of Kendra's death, it seemed, was determined to make him do today's job right.
"Yes, back when Spike first showed up," Xander summarized quickly, trying to get to the point. "He didn't have the soul yet, and Drusilla was his big love. They had some dumb schemes to take on The Slayer, or something of the sort, and then Angel reverted to Angelus and joined them. I don't need to tell you how bad that was."
Mena shook her head once, curiosity obviously peaked. "Reuniting the Scourge of Europe doesn't exactly seem good."
Xander smiled bitterly. "Exactly. Well, this was all levels of bad. Angelus was obsessed with killing Buffy and the rest of us who had befriended him when he had his soul, in as torturous a way as possible. He was beyond malicious. Buffy tried to explain the whole issue to me once, but I can't say I could focus on anything other than 'kill the bastard'."
He stopped, giving Mena an embarrassed look. She just shook her head, obviously not set on reprimanding him for his language at the moment.
"And around that same time, we had another shock. At the point when Buffy was THE Vampire Slayer, the only one, we'd thought, we suddenly had another Slayer showing up, ready for business."
Mena frowned, leaning back against the headboard while she waited for Xander to continue. "How was that even possible?"
"Well, it had to do with Buffy," he told her, stealing a glance at the clock as he spoke. They still had some time before meeting Faith downstairs. "Let's just say that once, Buffy almost drowned; in the minutes that it took to bring her back, another Slayer was called."
He waited for Mena's nod before continuing. "Her name was Kendra. She was something else. Suddenly, this tough girl with admirable determination showed up and threw us all for a loop." With a smile, he winked at Mena, "You kind of remind me of her."
"How come I haven't heard of her so far?" Mena inquired.
"Simple," Xander told her sadly. "Drusilla killed her."
A bout of silence followed, in which Mena digested this information, her expressive face faintly disturbed. Xander hurried on, determined not to allow his Slayer to feel diminished so close to a battle.
"This is the most important thing you need to know about Drusilla, Mena." Xander told the girl gently, lifting her face to meet her eyes. "Never, and I mean never, look her in the eyes."
Mena nodded to show she understood, even as a questioning frown marred her features. "Why are Drusilla's eyes so important? How did Kendra die?"
"Drusilla knows how to use thrall," Xander explained, standing from the bed and walking towards the window. It was still daylight, and Spike must already be inside the club, facing whatever Kevin had in store for them. "She can control anyone's mind, the minute she wants to. All she needs is eye-contact. A wave of her fingers, and bang! She has you. And you won't be able to look away."
A pause. Then Mena's voice sounded next to his shoulder. "Did you see Kendra die?"
He shook his head, blinking away the past. "No. No, I was unconscious at the time. But I saw her body. And I need you to promise me, Mena, that if it's at all possible, you'll stay away from Drusilla. She might be insane, but it only makes her more dangerous. If she's there, I need to know you won't be her next target. Promise me you won't go after her on your own."
"I don't know if I should promise that, Xander," Mena sighed, frown still lingering. "I understand your worries. I know you can't help still seeing me as a child. But I'm a Slayer now. I can promise you I'll be careful. I will promise you that I won't let myself look in Drusilla's eyes, and that I won't let her distract me. But that's the best I can do."
Xander leaned his forehead against the glass, worry making his chest constrict. He couldn't let Mena get hurt. But he couldn't keep her from her calling. Her destiny. He closed his eyes for a second, idly sympathetic to how Giles must have felt a million times, before turning to face Mena with a half-smile.
"Then, I guess that will have to be enough," he said softly, hand on her shoulder.
Mena returned his smile easily enough, before nodding towards the door. "Shall we? We have vampires to dust. Faith and Robin are probably waiting."
Xander smiled. "Sure. Did you remember the garlic darts and the sprays? We want to be well equipped against the bloodsuckers this time."
Mena laughed. "I have them in my bag, I'm going to make sure that you and Robin have plenty. If there's enough, Faith and I can use some as well, but I really don't think we'll need them. Faith seems to believe that Slayers should fight 'old school' and isn't too keen on using the new weaponry unless absolutely necessary. Besides, we have our special Gilroy stakes that Elias made for us."
Xander laughed as he walked toward the door. "Have you thought about naming that stake of yours? Buffy always called her favorite stake Mr. Pointy." He paused, smiling at Mena. "She actually got it from Kendra."
"Mr. Pointy?" Mena asked quizzically. "I like it. I think I'll come up with my own name for it though. We shall see."
Xander nodded, grabbing the Land Cruiser's keys and opening the door for Mena. "Slayers first," he quipped, happy to notice as they walked to the lobby that she wasn't nervous about the odds they were about to face. He was nervous enough for the both of them.
The sewer tunnel opened into the back of Kevin's lair. The doorway gate was open, which Spike thought was a bit odd but figured that it was the easiest way for the minions to get in without any problems. Spike stood against the wall, trying to keep hidden, so that the vampires inside did not have any indication that he was there. He was determined to make this a surprise visit, or as much of a surprise as it could be considering the raid that had just taken place at the club the night before. And, of course, despite Dru's special powers of 'Sight'.
From where he was standing, Spike could see the activity that was going on inside the lair. There were a handful of random vampires standing about listening to Kevin as he gave them orders, and then he saw her.
Drusilla danced around the minions, weaving in and out between them, pretending to be in her own world. Of course, Spike knew better. He knew that was part of her act, pretending to be crazier than she was. Of course, part of it was that she just liked to dance.
Spike turned so that his back was facing away from Kevin's lair. He had to work up the courage before he could go in to face them. He could really use some whiskey about now.
"My Spike has come to play," Drusilla said in a sweet, hypnotic voice.
Bloody hell, he thought to himself. He took a deep breath before turning around to face her.
"No, princess, I don't want to play today. Just want to talk, is all," Spike said as he slowly emerged from the sewer doorway and entered the lair.
"Did you hear that, Kevvy? Spike wants to talk," Drusilla said as she slowly walked over to her former lover.
Once she was right in front of Spike, she started to laugh maniacally and hit him with a force so powerful that it knocked him across the room, towards the cell that had held the humans the night before.
The rest of the room laughed at the display, taunting him with various insults. Spike did not care enough to listen to what they were saying. Drusilla knocking him across the room had frazzled him to the core.
Spike struggled to get up, but it was a bit difficult, simply due to the shock the attack had been. He should have known to expect it. He should have been more prepared. He leaned on the cage to help himself up.
"Let me give you a hand up, Spike," Kevin said, grabbing him as he signaled for a minion to open the cage door.
Kick him, dust him, don't get caught in that cage, Spike tried to tell himself, but it was already too late. Drusilla kicked him at the precise moment Kevin threw a punch. The combined impact sent him flying into the cage, and the door was instantly slammed shut and locked behind him.
Spike sat on the floor of the cage, watching the other vampires as they mocked him. He took deep breaths as he stood and approached the front of the cage. He would act calm and natural. He'd talk to Drusilla and Kevin like what they were -- family.
"What I want to know is, did you honestly think that we weren't going to be expecting you this time? I mean after your failed attempt at the ambush yesterday? By the way, I thought Slayers were supposed to be stronger than that. I wasn't too impressed by her at all," Kevin said with a laugh.
"Not all Slayers are created equal. Dru and I have both killed them," Spike replied with a smile. "Actually, I've killed two. How many have you killed, Kevin?"
Drusilla gave a mirthless little laugh as she stared at Spike with her deep, dark eyes. The thrall never worked on vampires. It was just her aura that had always mesmerized him.
"It's been a long time, pet," Spike told her as he looked straight into her eyes.
Drusilla walked to the cage and reached inside to touch his face, "You always did have such a pretty face."
Drusilla was looking at him with a sweet innocence that reminded him of a child. However, that look did not last, and her admiration quickly turned into rage as she stared at Spike with disgust.
"You are filthy. Your soul disgusts me and makes me ill," she said as she snapped at the air before turning her back to him.
"Now, now, Drusilla, my brother got the soul for admirable reasons. I mean, to know the love of a Slayer. That must have been worth it all. Was it not?"
Spike stared at Kevin as he spoke. He was not sure how he was going to play this; should he lie to them? Should he tell them the truth? Spike decided that the truth was always the best idea, especially considering he was a terrible liar.
"I don't regret my decision to get it, if that is what you want to know," he told them simply.
"You don't seem to be the type who regrets much, do you, Spike? I never have either. I certainly don't regret going to Woodstock," Kevin said with a big smile.
Kevin walked over to Drusilla and touched her face softly. "And I definitely don't regret meeting Miss Drusilla here," he said, causing the other vampire to laugh. "Hell, I even enjoyed the conversation we had, Spike. Changed my life. Do you remember what that conversation was about?"
Spike stared at him in realization. He had told Kevin that he should try to take over the world, not destroy it. "I remember talking you out of killing the lot of us by destroying the bloody world," Spike said, trying to remain calm.
"Right. You told me I should try to take over the world. Turns out domination is one of my strong suits." Kevin gave Spike a smirk.
"Is it now? Let me guess, you think of yourself as some sort of King, and Drusilla here, she is the Queen? Yeah, Dru told me about that vision a long time ago. There is just one problem. I'm no fool."
Kevin laughed at Spike's words as he picked up a large, pointy-ended stick.
"No fool? Are you sure about that?" he asked as he jammed the stick between the bars straight at Spike.
Mena twisted her hands nervously as Faith knelt in front of them, carefully picking the lock of the club's front door with a tool the younger Slayer did not want to know where she'd gotten. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the door gave away with a small metallic sound. Faith pushed it open, holding it for her, Xander and Robin before carefully shutting it behind them.
They walked slowly, the eerie silence a contrast to the loud, booming music of the previous night. Stake held ready, Mena went on ahead, eyes tracking every shadow for a possible attacker, very conscious of Xander's presence at her back. The chairs all around the club were neatly placed in a corner of the room, and the bar was spotless.
Faith walked in the other direction with Robin, scouting the area, until they decided that all the vampires were apparently located below. Approaching the colorful VIP door, both Slayers looked at each other, and Mena smiled faintly at Faith, trying to ease the distinct feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach. She felt Robin's hand land on her shoulder and gave him a grateful nod before once more facing the door that led below.
Spike was in there. Alone. In a lair of vampires with a grudge against him. They could only hope he was all right.
"Are you ready for this, chica?" Faith asked suddenly, her whisper startling the younger Slayer enough to gasp a breath. Berating herself, Mena looked back at Faith, nodding her head faintly.
"Far more nervous than is proper, now that we're here," She admitted quietly, gripping her stake tighter in her fist. "But I'm determined that we all come out of this alive. So yes, I am ready."
"That's all we need, girl," Faith said lightly, before focusing all her senses on any sound from the lower level. Xander started to say something, but a look from all of them made him change his mind. They all leaned forward, ready to burst in there at the sound of the agreed signal.
No signal came.
Uneasiness increasing, Mena held her breath, trying to listen more closely. Spike was supposed to shout so they'd know when it was time to burst in there and help him. Then they could finally put an end to Kevin's reign in this city.
Only silence reached them.
Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty. Thirty.
With a curse, Faith moved forward, pressing her hand against the door harshly, noting with no surprise that it wouldn't budge.
"What are you doing?" Mena whispered, looking around. "We're supposed to wait--"
"Wait's over!" Faith announced, all pretense for stealth gone as she aimed a precise kick to the locked door, sending it open with a smashing crash that surely alerted everyone in the neighborhood that they were there.
Shaking her head in frustration, Mena hurried after the older Slayer, running down the darkened stairwell with ease, and jumping into the chaos that had exploded downstairs. Thankfully, they had shocked the vampires. The group of vampires moved to attack them after three of them had already been dusted, and their attack was wildly uncoordinated, aiming from all sides, giving the Slayers an easy reach for their targets.
Mena did her best to focus, all her training coming to the surface as she whirled, kicking and punching the vampires around them. Mostly, she aimed for their legs, making them fall and efficiently staking each one as they went down. One fledge threw himself at her throat, his vicious grip holding the Slayer's stake away.
Mena panicked, feeling cold fingers close around her upper arms, turning to face the ridged features of her opponent, yet before she could even think, the red-haired vampire in front of her recoiled as the cross Faith had given her in the hotel lobby came into view. In that split second, Mena attacked, jamming her elbow into the creature's ribs and stunning it enough to run it through with her stake.
Robin and Xander mostly stood back, the Garlic darts from Gilroy making short work of incapacitating any immediate threats to themselves or their friends. Dart after dart. Four vampires fell around them, and Xander quickly moved to dispatch them, staking one after the other in quick succession. Looking up, he aimed just in time to hit the vampire about to jump Faith from behind, striking him directly in the chest with a dart and making him drop heavily on the ground at the Slayer's feet. The vamp laid there, paralyzed until Xander dusted him.
Faith had already seen Spike. Moving determinedly towards the cage in the back where he stood trapped, she spared a moment to look around and was pleased to note that the number of vampires around them was dwindling fast, crumbling to dust around Mena and falling in helpless agony at the men's feet. Sending a thumbs up in their general direction, Faith stalked forward, fighting and slaying any vampires who came to stand in her way as fast as she was able.
Finally, she reached the cage. Rushing ahead, she suddenly found herself face-to-face with Kevin's gleefully smiling face. The vampire stood mocking her, a wooden stick held noncommittally, aimed in Spike's general direction.
"Slayer!" Kevin called delightedly, his tone making Faith hold her stake more firmly, while keeping a trained eye on the weapon he brandished. "We didn't have the chance to dance last night. Care to share this piece with me?"
"Oh, I'll give you a piece, all right," Faith muttered under her breath, dodging his attack and aiming a precise punch to his stomach.
Kevin didn't seem impressed, and he simply pushed her away, making her body slam against the cage's barriers. Immediately, she sensed Spike behind her, and she remembered her priority was to find the way to get him free. Jumping back into the fight, she aimed her stake to Kevin's chest, but he blocked it three times, laughing.
Frustrated, Faith quickly changed her tactics and kicked his chin hard enough to stun him, sending him flying backwards to hit the wall. His stick flew up and Faith caught it, easily throwing it to the other end of the room, just in time for Robin to pick it up and stake one of the fledges fighting him.
Faith smiled, turning to face Spike again, trying to judge the best place to kick the cage's door. It was only then that she heard the jingling of keys near her ear. Faith saw Drusilla standing there, her beatific smile doing nothing to conceal the danger in her stance. The keys moved gently in her delicate hand, as if swaying with a breeze that didn't reach this place.
"Faith, get me out of here! Their reinforcements have arrived," Spike shouted suddenly, making Faith realize that some ten other vampires had entered through the sewers and were attacking the others.
Mena stood in the heart of it, staking all the vampires that dropped from the garlic darts Robin and Xander were discharging. Quickly, Faith kicked Drusilla's hand, sending the keys flying to land directly in Spike's cell. Moving to face the dark female vampire, Faith was surprised to see her retreating slowly, still staring at her, laughing at some inner joke only her insane mind could understand.
"I will see you, my Spike," Dru called melodically, sending them a wave before fading back, running to the sewer's entrance. Faith sighed, with no choice but to let Dru run as she turned back, stance ready to face Kevin again. The suit-clad vampire had already regained his feet, licking his bloody lips with no trace of emotion on his features, other than the feral grin he still wore.
Spike came to stand next to her, having opened the door that restrained him, and Faith ran her eyes over him in one quick move, making sure he was uninjured and ready for a fight. Spike smiled at her, the anger in his eyes twisting the expression into something dangerous.
"Let's just end this, shall we?" he told her calmly, and she wordlessly handed him the stake she had stored in the sleeve of her jacket.
Already, the fight behind them had faded. Silence surrounded the assembly for a second before Kevin laughed, moving forward with deliberate steps.
"Who wants the challenge then?" he called, moving to the center of the room and looking around at all of them with no trace of worry. "Come on, now. Let's fight fair. One on one, it is, since you've dusted all my other players. Who fights?"
Spike stepped forward, hate looming in his features.
"I will," called a voice from the other side of the room.
Everyone turned around, staring at Mena in shock as the girl moved quickly, stake at the ready as she passed Spike and came face to face with Kevin's now amused expression. "I will fight you."
"What?!" was the collective response to her challenge, but she paid them no heed and stood firmly in place.
"Mena, this isn't the time to--" Xander started as he moved closer to her, angry and scared, but one look from her quieted him.
Mena was going to do this. Willow's 'resolve face' had nothing on this girl. Xander sighed, worry eating his insides as he struggled with himself not to step forward and take her away from this madness. He saw Spike and Faith, muscles tensed in dismay, obviously conflicted and wanting to override Mena's decision. Xander couldn't help but sympathize. But they all understood that as a Slayer, Mena deserved the right she was demanding.
"You it is, then!" Kevin said simply, immediately backhanding Mena's face and sending her flying to the side, directly into Robin.
He steadied her, concerned eyes roaming her features, but he saw in her only fierce determination as she straightened and walked back towards Kevin.
"You bastard!" Spike had roared, ready to charge, but Xander had already acted.
He was out of garlic darts, but he still had a spray receptacle. With a shout, he ran to Kevin, spraying him directly in the face. The vampire's eyes widened comically, but he quickly turned his face away as he snatched the offending object from Xander's grip, hurling it away even as his strength faded, causing him to fall to his knees in front of them.
Mena reached him then and kicked him, sending him flying this time. Turnabout was fair play, after all. She glared at Xander and Spike, stake still clutched in her hand.
"This is my fight," She told them, stalking towards Kevin and waiting, stance ready as the vampire slowly regained the ability to move.
Minutes ticked by, and they were endless. Everyone in the room waited for the weaker power of the garlic spray to wear off. Kevin had received only a small dose, so slowly, determinedly, he finally stood again, seething anger calling his demon to the fore. Golden eyes focused solely on Mena as he charged on the offensive, clearly startled as this little girl managed to block most of his moves, unperturbed when a punch managed to catch her unaware.
Kevin hadn't fought a Slayer since he'd so badly damaged Faith several years before. He had been angered that sunlight had provided her with the opportunity to escape him and had been eager for another match with a Slayer. He had not expected the power and skills that Mena now displayed. Growling in building frustration, Kevin charged again, kicking Mena's legs from under her and making her fall on her back. He pounced, teeth yearning for the bite.
Too late, he realized Mena still clutched her stake.
Shocked eyes widened as Kevin impaled himself, and the group watched avidly as he crumbled to ashes a second later. Silence engulfed them as they stood, almost in a trance, everyone staring at the spot where the infamous vampire had been just a moment before.
"Well," Xander's voice finally broke the silence as he stepped up to Mena and helped her up, shaking hands clutching her a long moment before he could manage to let her go. "That was a bit anti-climatic."
Faith snorted, shaking her head and looking around the wrecked VIP room. "Do you think we're done, then?"
"I'd say so," Robin answered, slipping an arm around Faith's shoulders and steering her towards the stairs. "No more club nights combined with slaying. It's almost a pity."
"Right," Faith said over her shoulder, stealing a kiss in the corner of the man's lips. "That it...isn't."
Spike sighed, shaking his head as he stored away the stake he'd been holding into a pocket of his jacket. Quickly, he moved forward to check that Mena was fine, hugging her briefly while noting that she was also shaking. Adrenaline wore off fast in humans, it seemed.
"Don't you ever scare us like that again, Mena, you hear me? You shouldn't take on challenges like that just to prove a point--"
"Point's proved, though, is it not?" Mena asked him calmly, looking between Spike and Xander. "I can protect myself. Mimi Bora. He's dust. End of story. Now, come on, I'm tired! Let's get out of here."
Without waiting for a response, she turned, following quickly after Faith and Robin. That left the vampire and her Watcher, staring after her before reluctantly facing each other.
Frowning, both lapsed into silence, until Xander nodded that Spike should go first.
Clearing his throat, the vampire looked away from Xander, his eyes searching the wrecked club as if it held the words he could say to express what was on his mind.
"Look. We messed up, okay? Had a bloody stupid fight because we both have sodding issues we can't seem to get past, right?" At Xander's nod, Spike shrugged, looking back into the Watcher's eyes.
"You did a good job tonight. Still don't like what we said to each other. Still don't like that we have so many things in the way of our working well together as a team. But we are on the same side. And we have Mena to think about and to teach. Great fighter, but she has a few things left to learn. So, let's just...bask in Kevin's ashes, all right?"
There was a moment of silence, then Xander smiled, slapping Spike on the back. "Fine by me. Let's just...not do this often."
"What -- fight with each other or beat the sodding hell out of the bad guys?"
"Ha! You Brits have such a bloody funny sense of humor. Seriously, Spike. It's bad enough that we have to fight the bad guys. Look, I don't really like having to apologize, but I know I said some things I shouldn't. Let's see to it that we never have to talk with each other like this again."
"Agreed," Spike said easily. "Never was much for apologies." He nodded, then turned towards the stairwell, the human close behind him.
"So," said Xander, "You really think I did a good job tonight?"
"Was never much for handing out praise, either. Better remember that forever 'cause it's not bloody likely that you'll ever hear such from me again."
"Hakuna matata," said Xander. "It just so happens that I've a great memory."
Exhaustion made the trip back to Faith's place a more subdued one than they were used to. Well, all of them except, of course, for Xander who couldn't stay quiet to save his life and kept berating Mena for her actions in the club throughout the long ride back. Finally, the girl grabbed his shoulders, shaking him. She leaned her face close to his, pronouncing each word with deliberate exaggeration.
"Repeat after me: Mena is a Slayer. S-L-A-Y-E-R. She will occasionally fight the bad guys. On her own. Part of the job!"
Xander sulked after that, and Faith wouldn't stop teasing him over his 'Giles complex'. Spike watched their antics amusedly, for once not joining in the madness. Still shaken over the fight he'd had to witness from a distance as he'd been locked in that cage, he stared out the Land Cruiser's windows while seeing nothing, indulging in the moment number 6800th of regret.
"Earth to Spike!" Mena called, shaking a hand in front of his eyes and making Spike turn to glare at her half-heartedly. "Come on, Spike, we won! No causalities this time. We should be happy."
Spike blinked, smiling for her benefit for a moment and placing his arm around her shoulders. She smiled back at him, not shaking the arm off, and they continued like this for the next few minutes, while the people around them shared some easy banter.
"I think we have some fine wine we can celebrate over," Robin told no one in particular from his spot in the driving seat, glaring at Mena as she immediately looked over at him, "those of us who can legally drink, that is."
The girl laughed, telling Robin she had no desire to do anything other than get somewhere where she could fall asleep quickly. Faith smiled back at her from the front seat, then jumped from the car as soon as it was parked and stretched her cramped muscles.
"I have to agree with our bite-size Slayer, here. You guys should just crash at our place. We have an extra bed for Mena, and very comfortable carpeted floors for you guys."
They laughed, walking into the building while discussing the merits of sleep versus a much deserved celebration over Kevin's demise.
"I'll take Wood here up on that glass of wine," Spike told them, pressing the button for the elevator.
"You would," Xander told him, while nodding. "Actually, I would, too."
"No, actually, I Wood. You Harris and you Spike."
Everyone groaned and Wood said, "Sorry. Maybe I'm too tired for humor."
"Let's make that four for the wine, then," Faith told them, stepping into the elevator as the doors slid open and then leaning back against Robin's chest.
"Mena, you sure you want to sleep right away? I can get you a nice glass of something, and we can discuss those lovely moves you pulled back at the club."
Mena beamed, opening her mouth to answer just as the doors slid open on Faith's floor.
Everyone grew suddenly quiet as they slowly stepped out of the elevator, one by one, taking in the surprising scene in front of them in shocked silence. Standing in the hallway were five people, staring back at them.
Five very familiar people.
People Spike hadn't seen in over a year. Vi stood there, smiling a huge smile next to Dawn's bright gaze. Even Andrew seemed at a loss for words. Giles stood there, too, staring unblinkingly at Spike, and next to him stood...
End of Just like Old Times.
Why did Giles, Buffy, Andrew, Dawn and Vi come to Cleveland?
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