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Chapter Eight

Night has fallen and the Angel team stood on the doorstep of Revello Drive, waiting for their leader to ring the bell, announcing their arrival. By now, everyone knew Angel and Spike’s history with the slayer and her band of merry warriors. They understood that this wasn’t easy for either of them. Old rivalries and resentment were bound to resurface, but Their situation demanded that they ignore the past and work together in order to defeat this evil that has risen once again.

“Maybe I should ring the bell,” Wesley cleared his throat, stepping up behind Angel, his eyes grim, yet determined. “It wouldn’t do for any of the new slayers to spot you and Spike first and stake you, before introductions are made.”

“English has a point there,” Gunn nodded, remembering the earlier days of his involvement with Angel, especially when they had first met. He was all too eager to stake first and ask questions later. He had no doubt that a group of girls, destined to dust vampires like Angel and Spike, would have no problem in doing their jobs.

“Go ahead,” Angel nodded, taking a step back. Normally, he wouldn’t have been too worried about a room full of slayers, but this wasn’t normal. Everyone was on edge and accidental staking was a definite possibility.

Clearing his throat, Wesley nodded and took Angel’s place at the door. Smiling reassuringly at his employer, Wesley pressed the button, that activated the bell. It took only a few minutes when a young girl opened the door and looked at them in suspicion.

“Yes?” the girl asked, her frown deepening as she spotted both Angel and Spike. Both vampires tensed as they noticed how her grip tightened on an object out of their line of sight.

“Uh, yes. My party and I were invited by Buffy Summers to come by for a meeting of sorts. Is she here?” Wesley went into watcher mode. He may not work for the council any longer, but he knew how to act like he did.

“Giles!” The girl called, disappearing back into the house, not bothering to invite any of them inside. To her, this was a very strange group. Three humans, a demon and two vampires. This wasn’t normal. Since Buffy was busy on her cell phone with her sister, it was best to call the eldest member of Slayer central.

“Oh dear,” Wesley sighed, a sinking sensation filling his stomach. Rupert Giles hated him for many reasons, one being that Wesley had once been his replacement as Buffy’s watcher. There was no love lost between them.

“Trish Anne, what is this about…Wesley Wyndom-Pryce. What in heavens name are you doing here and with,” Giles’s frown deepen as he saw the two ensouled vampires standing behind his former colleague. “Angel and Spike. What a…surprise…especially Spike. I thought he had perished …does Buffy know?”

Spike felt his heart fall into his stomach as he realized that Buffy had neglected to tell her friends of his return. Of course, there was probably a good explanation, but still…he had to wonder if she wished to keep their relationship a secret . Honestly, he didn’t think he could go through that again. If Buffy wanted him in her life…it was going to have to be all or nothing. Either she let everyone know that they were together, or else everything was off. He didn’t care how much walking away from her would hurt. It would hurt more to let things escalate the way they did before he had gotten his soul.

“Of course she knows Rupert,” Wesley crossed his arms impatiently, thinking that Giles was trying to be difficult. Honestly, there was no time for such pettiness. From what Angel had shared with him about the First Evil, the situation in Sunnydale was deadly serious. “Can we enter, please? It is quite cold out here and I don’t want to think about what other creatures may be roaming the streets at this hour.”

“Giles, he has vampires with him,” Trish Anne bit her lip nervously, her grip tightening on the stake in her hand. “And that thing…he has to be a demon. Look at those horns and skin…”

“They’re good vampires,” Fred tried to reassure the young slayer. “Angel’s saved me hundreds of times and Spike here gave just about died helping Buffy save the world. They’re champions.”

“My man Lorne is harmless,” Gunn added. “Both Wes and I are more dangerous then these three.”

“Giles who’s at the door?” Willow came in. Her eyes widened with unsuppressed joy she saw the LA team at the door. She immediately dashed into Wesley’s arms and gave him a quick squeeze. “Wes! Gunn, Fred, Angel! Lorne! Buffy said that you guys would be by tonight!” She gave everyone outside a hug. When she came to Spike, her smile widened before pulling him into a warm hug. “And you! Don’t you dare do anymore dying on us again, Mister! Buffy won’t be the only one kicking your ass if you do!”

“Hi Red,” Spike smiled, hugging the red head back, genuinely happy to see a friendly face. He was a bit surprised by the positive greeting from Willow, but then again he shouldn’t be. Obviously, Willow and Buffy still told each other everything and the news of his return and the rekindling of their relationship would have been told to the witch first.

“Giles!” Willow turned on the watcher, releasing Spike. Her green eyes were aflame with indignant sternness. “What are you doing just standing there and not inviting them in? Hello! Sunnydale here! Evil central! We invite our friends and allies inside, we don’t leave them outside, vulnerable to whatever may be out there,” She took Spike’s hand and pulled him into the house, beckoning for the others to follow.

“Giles? Is this wise?” Trish Anne whispered, keeping an eye on the three demons as she followed them into the living room. Ever since she had called, the one thing that Faith and everyone had drilled into her head were that demons were evil beasts that needed to be slain and quickly before they could harm a human. But now, here her mentors were, welcoming three demons into their midst. To say that she was confused was an understatement.

“Guys look who’s here!” Willow announced to the rest of the gang as they entered the living room.

Silence fell over the room as all eyes fell on the new arrivals. The slayers in the room stood, alert and ready as they saw the demon and two vampires in the room. Shocked disbelief stole Xander’s voice, and hot anger and jealousy coursed through Pike as he recognized the blond vampire that he believed was controlling Buffy somehow.

“Willow…what did you do? I thought you had learned your lesson from bringing Buffy back,” Xander finally found his voice as he got to his feet.

“What? Xander no, I did no such thing. Spike’s return has nothing to do with me. I swear,” Willow’s eyes widened. She was a bit surprised by the accusation. She had thought that Xander knew her better then that. Obviously not.

“Wait! That’s the vampire that had Buffy in his thrall! You shouldn’t be inviting him in here!” Pike got to his feet, searching for something to use as a weapon. He wasn’t about to let this…thing near Buffy again, not if he had anything about it.

“They’re both vampires,” Jada stepped forward. Her brown eyes examined Angel curiously. She had heard about Buffy’s affair with the two souled vampires and had been intrigued by Angel. She could see why Buffy had loved him. He was gorgeous. But he was also a monster, meaning that he couldn’t be trusted.

“We’re friends,” Angel cleared his throat. “We’re here because Buffy asked us to come. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.”

“Hey, I know you!” Jessica stepped up to Angel, her eyes wide with excitement. Jessica had been obsessed with the story of Buffy and Angel. She had found their story sad and heart wrenching, loving one another, but not able to be together. Now, here Angel was, right in front of her and he was everything she had ever imagined him to be. “You’re Angel. Buffy’s first vampire lover.”

“What?” Pike looked up at this with shock and disbelief. Vampire lover? What was this girl playing at. His Buffy would never willingly take a vampire lover. She knew better. The only reason she had been cozy with that Spike was because he has her under some kind of thrall. The thought of her with another vampire out of her own free will…it was appalling.

“And you’re Spike. You died saving the world,” Teresa smiled at Spike, also entranced. She had read all about William the Bloody and how he had went off and gotten his soul for the love of a slayer. She didn’t think that there was anything more romantic then that. “I’ve read all about you in our studies in Cleveland. We thought Faith was just pulling our legs when she told us that she had known both Angelus and William the Bloody.”

“Let me guess, one of Buffy’s prodigies,” Spike smiled flirtatiously, he took her hand and kissed it in the manner that he had once been so used to in his William days. The girl just blushed and giggled, obviously charmed by the chivalry of a time long past.

“Get your hands off her!” Pike was on his feet, stake in hand as he pushed Teresa away from Spike and stood face to face with the monster that was trying to steal his girl. “You may have Buffy under your thrall, but you’re not getting your claws on anymore of these girls.”

“Thrall? Who do you think I am? Dracula? Sorry whelp Jr. but thrall is not one of my specialties,” Spike laughed, effortlessly plunking the weapon out of the boy’s hand. “And be careful with these things. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself, now.”

Pike opened his mouth in protest, just as the click of footsteps come from the stairs. He frowned as he watched both Spike and Angel’s faces light up with adoration and unconditional respect as they glanced over at Buffy, who stood on the stairs staring at all of them.

“What’s going on here?” Buffy asked, walking the rest of the way down to slip a hand into Spike’s grasp. “You’re not annoying my friends again are you?”

Spike snorted and pulled Buffy closer to him, ignoring the shocked stares they were receiving. “Not a bit, luv. Just telling your friend here to watch who he points his stakes at. Wouldn’t want him to accidentally dust the Poof would you?”

“I’ll dust you both right now if I have to,” Pike growled, balling his fists.

“Pike! Cut it out. Spike and Angel are our allies. I suggest that you either cool down now or go take a walk,” Buffy suggested, her voice stern. She had no time for Pike’s theatrics right now. Something was behind Sunnydale’s return and she had to find out what it was before it got any bigger. She needed them all to stick together. No matter what. If Pike couldn’t agree to that…well then he was just going to have to go home.

“But Buffy…”

“The girl said to shut up, man,” Gunn cut off anymore protest. “I suggest you listen. We have bigger fish then Spike and Angel to fry. Just let it go.”

Giles cleared his throat, his mind reeling with the realization that Buffy knew that Spike was back and had told no one. It was Angel redux, it seemed. He had thought that they were over what had happened the year before with Robin Wood. But obviously not. “You knew about this Buffy? You knew that Spike had returned and told no one?”

Buffy looked away from Giles as she saw the hurt in his eyes. She knew that keeping the news of Spike’s return from her friends would hurt him, but it couldn’t be helped. She was still reeling herself and it wasn’t like it had been with Angel. She had only just found out about Spike herself. She had known about Angel for weeks before her friends found out.

“Giles, it wasn’t like that. I’ve just found out myself. There really was no time to tell you about Spike. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just…I just needed time to get my head on straight. That’s all,” She left Spike’s side and wrapped her arms around Giles, hoping that he’d forgive her for her silence. She couldn’t lose him again…not the way she had last year. She needed her watcher by her side. Especially now.

Giles sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as he felt his hurt feelings fade. He was never able to remain upset with his slayer for very long. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t understand her delay in telling him about Spike. She was most likely just as surprised as he and wanted to keep Spike to herself before sharing the news with everyone else.

“I can forgive you this time. But Buffy, next time come to me immediately. If not as your watcher…well then as your friend.”

“Thanks Giles,” Buffy wrapped her arms around him, careful not to hug him too tightly. There’s been a number of times she had hugged him too tight and he had spent days recovering.

“Hey, shouldn’t we get started with this meeting, sweet cheeks?” Lorne turned to Angel, rubbing his hands together in anticipation. His plan was to have all the scoobies sing. From Buffy down to the new slayers. It was best to know that they were all on the right side. “Now, who’d like to sing first?”

“Did he say sing?” Xander went ten shades of pale as he got to his feet. There was no way he was going through that again! Not in front of people he didn’t even know. “Listen pal, we’ve dealt with you dancing demons before and let me say, not going there again.”

Willow smiled in amusement as she placed a calm hand on her nervous friend’s shoulder. “No Xand, you don’t get it. Lorne here is a empath demon. He can read people’s souls and emotions when they sing.”

“You should have been around when Sweet was here. You would have had a field day with all the singing and dancing that was going around,” Buffy grinned, remembering her own songs and the grand finale of her first kiss with Spike.

“Oh, I heard about that little episode. Sweet had paid me a visit a few years back. Said something about a slayer returning from heaven…”

“That would be me,” Buffy nodded.

“It’s all well and good that you both know the same guy, but we have some serious stuff to talk about here,” Faith got to her feet. She was ready to get down to business. Find the evil and kick it’s ass. “This is Buff. The first of the chosen two. Her watcher Giles. Friends Xander, Willow, and Pike. And these lovely ladies are slayers that are now under Will’s care. Gang, this is Lorne, Gunn, Fred, and Wes. Now that introductions have been made, let’s discuss our situation here,” Faith returned to her seat, her features full of determination and nothing else.

“Faith’s right. We need to get to work,” Angel frowned as he watched Spike plop down into a nearby chair and pull Buffy down onto his lap. Buffy just smiled and leaned back against his chest, her relaxed features telling how happy she was.

Angel felt his jealousy surge to life once again. That should be him holding Buffy like that, not Spike. If only he hadn’t left for LA. If only she remembered the one day he had been turned human and they were at last happy and together. If only he hadn’t given his mortality up.

“Angel!” Gunn’s voice interrupted the dark vampire’s thoughts. “Hey, tell them about the First Evil, man. I think that’s what you and Spike had called it.”

“What?” Buffy sat up, her muscles tightening up. He couldn’t have said what she thought he did. The First? But she had defeated the First. “Did you say the First Evil? Because that’s not possible. Spike’s amulet…”

“Killed the Ubervamps, pet. We brought it’s plans down on it’s head, but by no means did we kill it. That bloody wanker is still up and about and wearing your pretty face.”

Buffy frowned, remembering her last words to the entity. So it was still wearing her face. She was definitely going to have something to say about that. “I am so ready to kick it’s ass.”

“What did it say?” Willow asked.

“That it was going to kill Buffy if she came back,” Angel explained, his eyes not leaving his ex-lover and grandchilde for a minute. He was determined to keep that from happening. Weather she was with Spike or not. His love for Buffy was still intact and that would be his driving force for this upcoming fight.

“That’s it. No more fun and games. The First is going down, one way or another. Giles, Wes…hit the books. Find out all you can about The First from Wes’s collection. Everyone else, we patrol and keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. The main thing is to stick together,” Buffy stood up from Spike’s lap, slipping easily back into the role of general. This was a role she had taken taken no joy in, a role she had no choice but to take again.

“How predictable,” a voice, soft and lilting spoke from a dark corner of the room. Buffy’s eyes widened as Darla stepped into the light, blue eyes dancing with malicious glee.

“Darla,” Angel growled, his mask taking over his handsome features.

“Not Darla, mate. It’s the First again. Here to have a little poke, probably,” Spike stepped up to stand next to Buffy.

“Ah, my dear sweet boy. You were always so gullible. Almost had you all nice and dusty until she got in the way,” Darla approached Angel, her eyes gliding over him seductively. “Lost everything haven’t you? Our son, both your lovers…why don’t you just come with me? We can take a nice little walk in the sun and all your pain and guilt will just melt away…”

“Leave him alone,” Buffy growled, wanting to rip the hair out of the bitch’s head. If it wasn’t for Spike’s restraining hand on her shoulder…

Darla laughed as she turned and approached Buffy, her blue eyes now cold and deadly. “I’m going to rip your heart out and eat it for dinner, little girl. But not before making you watch me gobble up your little sisters there. You’re all going to die, slow and painful…and it’ll be all your fault.”

“Sod off you silly bint,” Spike pushed Buffy behind him, forgetting for the moment that the entity couldn’t really hurt anyone. “Go back to the hell you came from.”

The First laughed gleefully. The foolish vampire knew noting of it’s true origin, but of course the entity didn’t mind telling. In fact, it took pleasure in the torture it dealt out, mentally and physically. “Oh, you mean the place that you were about to be hurled down into before golden boy and his merry band of good-doers intervened? The place where you truly belong?” The First smiled at the expression on Spike’s face, so full of fear and helplessness. “Don’t worry. You’ll be there soon enough, side by side with your little bitch there.”

“Vacate!” Willow yelled as she raised her outstretched hands and sent white bolts of lighting at the First.

“ARRRGH!” The spirit screamed as the white magic surrounded it. Gasps came from mostly everyone when the First morphed from Darla into it’s true form: Giant horns, claws, and evil glowing eyes. “You are all going to die!” It roared before fading away, leaving everyone alone and shaken by the encounter.

Silence filled the room like a heavy cloak. The people who had fought the First before, weren’t as shaken, yet a tiny spark of fear was lit. For the new slayers, fear was all they could feel. It ran through them like wildfire. For the first time since their calling, they wanted to go home and forget about being slayers and the continuing war against the monsters hiding in the dark.

Reese got to her feet, pale and trembling. Her green eyes were wide and frightened. “W-was that what we’re going to be fighting?”

“ ‘Afraid so,” Faith nodded, wishing that the First could have waited before making an appearance. These girls were green when it came to creatures beyond vampires. To see the First in it’s true was sure to send them running for the hills and she couldn’t say that she blamed them.

“You have got to be kidding! That thing…did you see it?” Jessica asked. “There’s no way we can fight this thing and win.”

“We don’t need to beat it. We just need to confine it somewhere it can’t get out,” Spike rubbed Buffy’s shoulders, wanting to release the tension that had set in to her muscles.

“Listen, I know that you all are upset, but we can’t just go home and back to our normal lives. If we do that…The First will break free of Sunnydale and overrun the earth. We can’t let that happen. No matter how upset we are. Just remember to stick together and that the First can’t hurt you. It’s incorporeal and it’s minions are dust thanks to our friend Spike, here,” Buffy squeezed the hand on her shoulder. “We will beat this. We can’t afford not to.”

“B’s right. We have to stick together on this,” Faith voiced her agreement.

“May I suggest that we all stick together by bunking here for now on?” Spike replied. “Safety in numbers, I always say.”

Giles nodded, again rubbing his glasses with a white handkerchief. “I can not believe that I’m saying this, but I agree with Spike. It’s all for the best if we all reside in the same place.”

Pike frowned at the idea. He didn’t like it at all. How did anyone know that the two vampires wouldn’t have a change of heart and drain them all in their sleep? This was ridiculous! Vampires didn’t sleep in houses! But before his opinion could be voiced, Buffy spoke up and invited both vamps and their friends to stay. To Pike’s horror, the offer was accepted.

Choking on his anger, Pike headed up to his room. He fell back on his bed and stared up at the ceiling, his mind full of angry thoughts about slayers and vampires and how twisted Buffy was for being with two of them. It was her job to kill vampires, not boink them. And now she had invited them into her house to not only kill her, but her friends as well, all in their sleep. He would try to talk sense into her, but something told him that all pleas would fall on deaf ears.

“You want her, don’t you Pike?” Benny leaned over, smirking down at the young man. “You want her, but that creature is the one that has her…both of them had. Obviously the ungrateful dead are more worth of the slayer’s affection then you. Maybe you should do something about that, eh?”

Pike glared up at the thing that wore his friend’s face. “You’re not Benny. Go away.”

The entity laughed. “Just giving out some friendly advice. As long as Angel and Spike live, you’ll never have Buffy. They’ll own her heart as long as they walk this earth. Kill them, and she’s yours for the taking.”

“And she won’t break my neck for it? Yeah, so not gonna happen. If I kill them, she’ll kill me.”

“Who said she had to know about it?” Benny smiled, before fading away, leaving Pike to mull over it’s suggestion.

Kill Spike and Angel, Buffy none the wiser…could it work? Would Buffy turn to him if both her lovers were gone forever? Was it even worth the risk? If he failed…Buffy would never trust him again, yet if he succeeded…she would indeed turn to good ole reliable Pike for comfort.

Maybe Benny did have a point, but he had to think about it some more. He had to be sure that they weren’t going to need the vampires in the future battle. No way did he want to jeopardize the group, because of his own desires. Sighing, Pike began to relax and drift off to sleep where dreams of blood and darkness awaited him.

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