Promises and Lies


The Serpent's Tooth


His teeth slice into the meat of her shoulder, leaving a ragged semicircle when she jerks and pulls herself free. She flees with desperate speed. He follows her, his muscles driving him easily after her, his mouth open wide to take in the thin ribbon of blood she leaves in her wake, savoring each sweet corpuscle.

At the far end of the pool, she stops and turns at bay, suspended almost motionless a few inches under the water, eyes narrowed, her own teeth gleaming with promise. She waits till the last moment, when he's already begun his rush, slipping under him, taking hold of his cock to pull him close. She locks her legs around his waist and sinks her own teeth into his broad chest once, teasingly, shoves him away and flees again. He drifts towards the bottom, tumbling out of control, then he recovers and goes after her again. From above, they look like sharks, pale and deadly as they streak through the dark water.

She's made it to the shallows, has her foot on the top step, nearly safe, when he snatches hold of her ankles and pulls her down with a splash. He pins her with the full weight of his body, crushing her against the steps. "Gotcha," he rumbles, grabbing her throat and holding her still. For a long moment, they're still, his hair dripping water into her face as their eyes meet, dark and light. Then he takes hold of her hips and with a peremptory thrust sinks his erection into the cool slickness of her, claiming her. She smiles, and reaches up to pull his mouth down to meet hers.

The smack of skin and splash of water is the only sound as he drives into her, as she arches and opens herself wider for him, as greedy for his flesh as he is for hers. Suddenly he stills, pulls away from her she looks up to see his face shiver like a windswept pool to reveal the demon staring down at her, nostrils flared at the smell of her blood still oozing lazily into the water. He growls and lowers his head to lap at the slow trickle, his hips never missing a beat as he continues to pound into her. The feel of his tongue, slightly rough and cool on her skin stokes the fire building inside her. Her clit throbs, a red coal heating the thin layer of water being pushed in and out between cock and cunt, and she sinks her nails into his broad back, pulling him closer, as he latches on to her in earnest, his thrusts growing faster, harder, grinding her painfully into the steps, abrading her hips and back, freeing more blood into the water, till the water around them grows pinkish and the air fills with the smell of her blood.

She's almost there, when he takes his mouth away, slowing again. She moans in protest, looking up into his face. Seeing her own blood smeared on his lips and teeth as his eyes grow dark again, searching her eyes for something... Then he turns his head, offers her his throat. She sinks her fangs into that white column, and this is what she's for, the exquisite sensation of her teeth sliding through the silken skin, the brief resistance of the vein, and then the blood flowing into her, sweet and cool down her throat but when it hits her white-hot core it's like gasoline on an open flame, and the explosion blinds and overwhelms her as she screams his name into his skin. And he follows her, spending himself with a growl that echoes in the cavernous space.

They lie spent, entangled in each other as the ripples slowly die out.

Bloody Hell, Spike thinks as he retreats from the sight of the lovers sprawled in post-coital bliss. He eases his way back down the roof, jumping across to the broad oak that he'd used to get to his observation post. He could use a strategically placed knothole about now, he thinks leaning against the rough trunk. He grins up at the starry night.

It's not just the fucking that's got him rock hard, the thought of how dear Buffy will react to the news that her ex-boyfriend, her long-lost true love, is not only *fucking* her own dear mum, but has *turned* her is more than enough to do the job. It's fucking priceless. It's going to tear Little Miss Perfect’s world apart. Pity he can't be there to see the look on her face when she gets the news. Ah well, at least he can be the bearer of bad tidings. He jumped down to the ground and walked off into the night, humming cheerfully.


The boys have gotten so big, Joyce thinks as she looks at the latest batch of photos from Buffy. Tommy at 6 looks a lot like his father, blunt and blond with the personality to match. He's nearly as stubborn as his mother. David, the baby, on the other hand is an elfin 4 year old, dangerously cute. His hair is the same shade as his mother's natural shade and his eyes are her eyes. It's been more than a year since she's seen them. She wishes she'd known then that it was the last time she'd see them. She wishes...

She looks up as Angel comes out of the bathroom, drying his hair. Speaks before she thinks, "Do you have to go?" He sits down on the bed next to her, puts his hand on her shoulder, and kisses the nape of her neck.

"Yeah, I need to make the final arrangements for…the move," Angel said. The slight break in his voice reminded her he wasn't just going to L.A. to arrange for their relocation, but also to arrange for her ‘demise’. Halloween is only a few days away, and Buffy is planning to come for Thanksgiving. They’ve run out of time. So long Sunnydale! Hello brand new life!

"Why don't you come with me?" he asked, not for the first time. He's worried about leaving her alone again. Until a moment ago she'd thought she was looking forward to a little solitude. Still, Joyce shakes her head.

"I hate LA. With my luck we'd run into Hank." And there's a thought to elaborate on later: her, Hank, a dark alley, and a little bit of payback…

Angel sighs, disappointed.

"I'll be fine," she reassures him, then looks at him sidelong, wickedly "But don’t leave me alone too long. You don’t want me getting lonely…" Only teasing, but she doesn't miss the little spark in his eye, his uncontrolled reaction to the idea of infidelity.

"Never happen, mo chuisle," he says. She laughs as he places his huge hands on her waist and effortlessly lifts her up and holds her suspended in the air. He thinks she looks like an angel, smiling down at him, her dark gold hair backlit. Did she love him yet? He wondered.

Twenty minutes later he left her standing there at the front door waving goodbye.


Buffy, balancing her coffee in one hand carefully opens the door one-handed and steps out onto the porch. Lets the door slam shut behind her, wanting to keep the heat in. The utilities had been awful last month. Bills, bills and more bills…Nope, not gonna think about bills, this is her time; the boys are asleep. Riley is watching TV.

She sits down in the big old Andirondack chair she'd bought at a garage sale their first summer here, with a deep sigh, and takes her first sip of coffee, looking out into the serene dark. Long day at work, but she's pretty sure she's got the Grayson place sold. Chalk one up for Buffy Finn: superseller! It's nice sitting out here even though there's a definite nip in the air. Looks like they might get snow for Christmas again this year. The boys will love that. Personally, she could do without it, she's still not used to snow. Thinks it's fine in movies and on top of the mountains, but not really something she wants as a part of daily life.

This house is new, like the town itself, and there are still woods in back of the house, she can see the dark outline of pines silhouetted against the night. They look sinister and mysterious, and when the wind blows they make a sound like people whispering on the other side of a wall, but it's all a front; Buffy has been into the woods and she knows there's nothing in there. It's just trees and bushes, some small animals, a few coyotes. No ghosts, no demons, no vampires, no monsters. The boys are safe playing in the backyard, even after dark.

Still, once a week she tells Riley she's going out jogging and she goes on patrol, Slayer sense and instincts alert as she moves quietly through the deep shadows under the trees and makes sure that nothing's changed. But there's never anything there.

Sometimes, she just has to run, to burn off all the excess energy her not-quite-human metabolism produces and that she doesn't get much chance to burn off sitting in an office or showing houses. An hour or two of running does wonders to settle her nerves, and stop the itching in her palms, the restless urge to Slay.

She likes her life, she really does. She loves her children and things between her and Riley are, finally, good. Tonight she'll finish her coffee, and then go inside and join her husband on the couch and they'll watch TV together for an hour or so. Then they'll go to bed, maybe have sex if he's not too tired. Her life is safe, secure, predictable, normal, just the way she'd wanted. She was finally free of the burden of dealing with death, pain, and terror night after night after night. She's just fine with not being the one-girl-in-all-the-world anymore. There's a Slayer Corps now, hundreds of Chosen Ones keeping what malevolent demonkind survived the Final Battle on the run.

She would never have believed it if you'd told her 10 years, in the midst of all her teenaged anger at being doomed to an early and guaranteed violent death, that she'd be here, pushing 30, and still alive. And this is much better, to be able to look ahead to a nice long stretch of years opening up in front of her. To know that she'll be here to watch her boys grow up, leave home, go to college, make lives of their own, and that eventually she'll get her chance to spoil *her* grandchildren like Mom does.

She hears the phone ring inside. A moment later Riley opens the door, hands her the portable. Mouths 'your mom'. She smiles at him and he goes back inside.

"I hope I didn't wake you," Joyce says.

"No, I was just sitting here, getting a little rest." Something in her mother's voice doesn't sound quite right, a strain. "Is everything is O.K.?"

"Oh, of course honey, everything's fine, I was just feeling a little like I needed to talk to my daughter. How are the boys?"


The restaurant's name had been Turandot, but it has obviously been out of business for a while. The interior is dusty, the air stale when he opens the door, chairs and table stacked along the walls. The only sign that it hasn't been entirely abandoned is the faint hum of a motor somewhere in the darkened interior.

Light blinds him as he enters; reflexively he reaches under his coat for a weapon then relaxes when the shape behind the beam speaks.

"Oops, sorry man," Turlock apologizes lowering the flashlight.

"Turlock," Angel said, shaking hands with his contact. Angel has never been absolutely sure whether he's human or not, his scent is oddly ambiguous. His looks are almost unbelievably average. He's one of the best fixer's in LA; and though they're not friends, they've done a lot of business over the years.

"It's in the back," he says. Angel follows him through the swinging double doors into the kitchen. The stainless steel counters and the sinks are still in place, but everything else has been stripped. Turlock unlocks the door to the walk-in freezer, and switches on the light and motions Angel inside.

The faint, unmistakable odor of death emanates from the gurney that fills most of the space in the freezer. Angel stares at the long shrouded shape, but doesn't move. Finally, Turlock steps forward and pulls back the sheet with a flourish.

"One Caucasian female, 40 - 50 years old, 120-140 lbs., brown/blond hair in good condition," he says with satisfaction of a job well done in his voice.

Angel nods. "Where'd did you...?" he asks, no detectable emotion in his voice. Turlock looks at the vampire, a little surprised, it's not like him to ask questions, strictly a cash and carry kind of guy, but hey, Angel's an old customer.

"Got a buddy down in Ocean Beach coroner's office. She's a Jane Doe, they found her two days ago at the bottom of a stairwell, in a skid row, with a broken neck and a broken bottle of Night Train clutched in her hand. From the look of her, she'd been homeless for awhile." he trailed off, realizing that Angel wasn't really listening. He was staring at the corpse, the usual non-expression on his face, but Turlock somehow doesn't feel like interrupting his thoughts.

The dead woman looks tired, eyes sunken, beaten by life long before her death. The grayish flesh sags on her bones and there are ribs showing above the flattened breasts. Angel touches her face gently, and her head falls to one side. There's a blackish bruise at the base of her neck. It makes him wonder if her death was really an accident. She doesn't look anything like Joyce, not really; she doesn't have to: fire will cover a multitude of sins. Nothing like Joyce, except that her hair, under the dirt and blood, was almost the same color.

*The absurdity and the horror of locking the manacles around thin bones and slipping skin under his hands. She looks so sad, hanging there, dark bruises marking her arms where he'd held her down. The coolness of her skin as he guiltily traced the ragged wound his teeth had torn in her neck with his fingers.

And his demon is screaming inside him, in triumph at what he's done, and outrage at what he's about to do.

And all the time he was aware of the taste of her fading in his mouth, could feel her living blood cooling slowly in his veins, and his only regret was that there would never be any more...*

"I'll pick her up tomorrow night." He opened his wallet and handed the payment over to Turlock. Who grins and makes the money disappear.

"Nice doing business with you," he says cheerfully.


In the gym, Joyce turns on all the lights so her shadow can keep her company as she works out. One two, one, her fist contacting the leather with satisfying force. And again, and do it over and hit and hit. She'd never been a big fan of exercise, and left to herself she wouldn't be doing this, does it mostly because Angel insisted that she learn how to fight, how to defend herself. He really doesn't understand how much she hates this, that for her this nightly workout is *work* and she'd figured death would at least get her out of work. For him it's pleasure and it shows.

She loves to watch him workout. He's beautiful, pale skin rippling over massive muscles as he flows through the motions, like a tiger, deadly and perfect. His 200+ years practice at learning to operate the gorgeous machine of his body showing in every move he makes. 200+ years of killing for evil and good.

Kick and kick and kick with her foot at the red dot that marked the dummy's solar plexus. Hit the target and most demons and all mortals would abruptly lose interest in the fight. Some would die. She wonders, as she goes through the motions of maiming and killing, what it feels like to kill.

She tries to visualize a hated face in place of the dummy's two-dots and a line to give her punches some force. Let's see, Snyder? Long dead. Anita Summers? No, being married to Hank was punishment enough. Giles, looking at her with so much loathing... and the leather splits under her blow, her fist sinks into the stuffing. Ooops.

She stops, her muscles are burning and she has the unnecessary urge to pant with exertion. Beginning to sweat now, and that's the sign that practice is done. And now that she's stopping, she feels pretty good. Still not her idea of fun.

As she picks up a towel to mop her face, she thinks about how Buffy would react if she could see her mom, strong, able to take care of herself. One of the many things she'd hated about having her only daughter be the Slayer, was the reversal of roles. She despised the fact that she'd become the one who had to be protected.

After showering, she puts on clean sweats and walks down to the kitchen hearing her own footsteps echo in the empty halls. When he was here she felt smothered, but now...She can't believe she's missing Angel already, he's only been gone one day. Hates feeling so lost, so lonely. He'd be back tomorrow. There's a bottle of wine in the fridge, red of course. She studies it, then puts it back. She pulls out a container of blood instead and takes it to the table; fetches the bottle of vodka from underneath the sink. She's been quietly experimenting with mixing alcohol and blood. It's not bad, the blood keeps her from getting sick and helps her process the alcohol. Angel taught her the trick, using wine, she suspects he's sorry he ever did, but she certainly isn't.

The phone rang as she was finishing the first glass. It's Angel of course. He sounds a little stressed though he insists everything went well. He'll be home tomorrow. The knowledge that this is the endgame pretty much stifles conversation. They exchange endearments and say goodnight.

After hanging up, Joyce sits and drinks some more. He'll be home tomorrow, and she'll be officially dead by the weekend at the latest. The thought disturbs her, though she's certainly had enough time to become used to it. Even if it's the only way, the best of a set of bad choices she can't help imagining Buffy's pain when she hears about the accident. The devastation when she comes out to bury the minimal remains. She hopes that Hank comes through for their daughter, she's going to need all the support she can get. At least she can count on Giles to be there for Buffy.

She pours herself another glass without thinking of it; the alcohol smoothes things out a bit, makes it all a little bit distant, and she needs distance. She thinks about just how dependent her official "death" will make her on Angel. As long as she's officially among the living she still has money of her own, a bank account, an identity. She could, if she had the nerve, call up her few friends, visit relatives, go downtown and shop without worrying about anyone seeing her. But once she's officially dead, all that goes away. At least until she creates a new identity.

Not that she thinks that Angel has thought it through, she doesn't suspect him of that level of treachery, but neither has he suggested setting up separate finances for her. It would be easier, in fact if she knew he was trying to control her, manipulate her. Then she could tell him to fuck off, then she would find the courage to run away, to hand him his head on a plate. But he means it, he does love her. She's come to realize that two centuries and change do not necessarily lead to self-knowledge. He's still sincerely ignorant of why he does the things he does, which is scary. He's still essentially that 18th century Irish boy. He may have heard of the ego, superego, subconscious, but they're only words to him. Angel always thinks he knows what he's doing.

Everything he did to her, everything that happened was because he loved her, and couldn't bear the thought of letting her go. The way he'd loved Buffy. And the one thing she felt grateful to whatever powers were running this world for was she’d gotten clear in time. The thought of what he could have done to her; what he would have done to her daughter, makes her own predicament seem minor.

Now if only she could relax, take what he offered her, and forget the niggling resentment; banish the formless longing for *more*. For some kind of purpose, for some kind of grand passion, for fuck's sake, and shouldn't she by now know the danger of answered prayers?

She's finished one bag, has to get another out to mix a new drink. Vodka's getting kind of low too. A parade of familiar faces that she won't ever see again, marches through her brain. her daughter, her grandsons, her friends, Xander, Willow, even Riley. She'll even miss Hank...well, no she won't. And of course Rupert.

She could go see Rupert. In fact she should go see him, just to tell him goodbye. To warn him, so he'll be ready when the call comes. Yes. She finishes her drink and stands up. Angel took the car, but it's not that far, less than a mile, she'll walk. She hopes her hair is OK, wishes she could check, but oh well. She drifts out the door into the night...

Her skin is porous, an insignificant barrier to the night which surrounds her, fills her, she's a Joyce-shaped bubble drifting through the quiet night streets. Past the houses decorated for Halloween with cartoon witches and skeletons in the windows, plastic gravestones planted in the yard, and jack-o-lantern lights strung around the gutters. She needs to remind Angel that she doesn't want to die on Halloween; she doesn't want to spoil some poor paramedic's holiday.

The stars are bright eyes staring down at her, uncaring. She loves them for their indifference. She's tired of being looked at. Tired of being watched, taught, and untrusted.

She smiles at a couple as they pass her on the sidewalk. The girl especially is very pretty; Joyce likes her dress. They are young, and careless; to be walking unprotected in the Sunnydale night. Still not a safe thing to do even with the Hellmouth shut. She can hear their heartbeats, each unique as they smile at her, and go on. The seductive hiss of their blood moving through their bodies tugs at her, and she takes a step after them, then she remembers why she's out here and where she's going, and turns back to the path.

A large orange tabby is sitting on a wall near Giles' house. She reaches out to pet it, and is surprised when it casually accepts her touch, no cliched hiss and growl, just the normal arrogant press, and blank animal gaze. It's warm and soft under her hand, the purr reverberating through her hand into her body. She wonders idly what it would taste like, and it turns suddenly under her hand, and slips away into the night.

And here she is, someplace she recognizes, the place she was headed all along. Courtyard, fountain. The other apartments are dark. It must be late. Looking at the lighted windows of Giles apartment she runs her hand over the slightly rusted metal of the little cafe table where they'd had coffee so many mornings. She no longer feels light, with the memories of her former life weighing her down. Realizes that this was probably a bad idea, coming here, but she still can't resist moving toward his door.

The door is ajar. And she can smell something sweet and beguiling wafting through the door...



He needs to get up, he thinks wearily. Just do it. Scoot the chair over to the phone, dial 911, it's not far, only a few feet. But when he tries, pain shoots through his side, pure agony and he has to stop while the black edges recede from his vision. It feels like he has several broken ribs.

Deja Vu all over again isn't it? Tied to a chair and tortured for information, left to wait for rescue. But he can't wait this time. Time is of the essence. Though it's probably already too late. Still he tries again, stubborn, manages to move the chair 6 whole inches, when it overbalances and goes crashing down. Pain greys his vision, throwing him back to his ordeal.

Spike caught him just outside his own door, stepping out of the shadows with a smile on his face, utterly unchanged from the last time he'd seen him, of course. Sneaky vampire trick, he'd gotten confused, thought it was the past when Spike had been a sort of ally, almost a friend; before he got the chip out and tried to kill them all. That moment of bewilderment was all Spike needed.

"Make it easy on yourself," Spike said later, pulling the cigarette away from Giles' skin. He'd cocked his head, admiring his work, took a long drag. Giles watches apprehensively as the ember brightens. "I'll get it out of you, sooner or later."

It's hollow satisfaction that he hadn't. He'd had held out, through the beating, the cutting, the burns. Didn't tell him, not even when Spike lost patience, wrenched his head back and sank his teeth into his throat. He still didn't speak, gritted his teeth as he felt himself being shredded and drained bit by bit into darkness, and hoped it would be over soon... But Spike had stopped before he lost consciousness. He stood there, wiping his blood off his mouth as he glared down at him in disgust.

"Should've know better than to try and beat it out of a public school boy," he complained. "Ought to charge you for the service."

All his obstinacy, his bravery, rendered useless in the end when it occurred to Spike to search his desk. He perched on the desk in front of Giles, grinning.

"Buffy Finn, 1823 Dulane Drive, East Brendon, North Carolina 555-216-8684. Let's see, they're 3 hours ahead of here, think she'll mind me calling this late?"

Giles refused to look at him.

"Here, Giles, what's the matter? I'm sure she'll be just thrilled to get the news. Or maybe you figure she might be a bit annoyed with you? Cause you knew, about Angel fucking her mum didn't you?" Giles said nothing, but Spike read his confirmation in his expression. Laughed.

"Knew it! How long have you known? Not going to tell me, are you? Well, got to go. I was going to kill you...but I think I'll let Buffy do it for me." He ground out the cigarette on the arm of the chair and was gone.

Leaving Giles here, still tied and slowly bleeding.

"Rupert?" Now, who is that? He wondered vaguely. The voice is familiar, but he can't quite place it; a neighbor, finally responding to his yells? Then the penny drops.

Oh. No. And it's on the edge of being funny, some kind of infernal serendipity that she would come here now. Why is she here now? Doesn't matter. Silently he wishes her away.

"Rupert!" she calls louder. "Are you OK?"

Go. Away. He thinks. He fully intends to keep silent, but he must have made some inadvertent sound because she gasps, and there's greater urgency in her voice.

"Rupert! You're hurt. You have to invite me in," she begs. Joyce sounds genuinely worried about him, but he knows better, it's just a trick, he thinks, another damned illusion. There is no more Joyce. Joyce is gone. He has to remember that.

"Rupert, please!" He makes a choked sound, something like a laugh that brings on a fit of coughing. What's the bloody point, after all. What's she likely to do to him that Spike hasn't. Maybe she'll drain him, and put him out of all their misery.

"Come in then, be welcome," he says formally.

She's by his side in an eyeblink. Lifts him and the chair, unties him, and carries him to the couch. Cradled in her arms, she smells faintly of wine and Joyce's favorite perfume, Asprit. He can't help gasping in pain when she lays him down, and she winces. He looks up into her face as her eyes take in the neat round burn marks on his chest and cheek, the bruises, the bite; again he's overwhelmed by the disturbing perfection of the illusion. So beautiful, even in worn sweats. She looks down at him, her expression authentically appalled.

"You need a doctor," she says. She finds the phone and dials 911, tells them there’s a badly injured man at this address, lies about her name. Then comes back to Giles. She kneels beside the couch. He shivers as she touches his hand uncertainly. Her hand is like ice and he's suddenly intensely aware of how much he's bleeding. Of how he must smell.

"Who did this?" she asks.

"Spike," he says. "He knows about you, and Angel. He’s going to tell Buffy – probably already has."

"Oh, God." and he can't quite convince himself that she's only simulating the devastation he sees in her eyes. Suddenly it's important to establish that he hadn't betrayed her.

"He wanted her phone number, and when I wouldn’t give it to him, I didn't tell him…but it eventually occurred to the tosser to look in my address book." Giles tries to shrug, stiff upper lip and all that and has to bite back a moan as broken bones grate against each other.

"Oh Rupert. I'm so sorry."

He hears the sirens coming closer with an odd sense of regret.

"Yes, well. You’d better go, quickly," he said, and held her gaze. "Lucky you were passing."

"I came to tell you goodbye," she says answering his unspoken question. "To tell you we're leaving... we were going to leave, next week. To ask you to make sure Buffy…" her voice trailed off. They sat silently for a long moment, until the sirens are very close, the flashing lights bouncing around the courtyard.

"Goodbye," he says. Her fingers clutch his almost painfully for a moment, and then she pulls free and is gone a few seconds before the first paramedics come through the door.


She runs the whole way home, very, very, sober, her mind churning. Please let Rupert be OK. She hated to leave him, probably shouldn’t have moved him, but she couldn't just leave him there. Bleeding…it had been so hard not to give in to the urge to lick the warm red smears off her fingers, off his face, his throat…

She puts her finger in her mouth, and the taste of him is still there.

Spike, she’d rip his head off and put it on a stake to meet the dawn.

Oh God, Buffy. What if she calls? Maybe she can convince her that it's just a bad joke. Probably not. Her demon is in full panic mode at the thought of the Slayer coming here. She’d much rather die than face her daughter.

As soon as she got back to the mansion, she dialed the number of Angel's hotel. The phone rang enough times to make her a little nervous before he picked up.

"Hello," his voice is like a sturdy shoulder, something she can support herself with.

"Angel," she said.

"What's wrong?" She took a deep breath, and explained as tersely as she could manage. Angel didn't waste time moaning about bad luck. Didn't ask how she happened to be visiting Rupert Giles.

"I'm coming straight back. Stay inside. Don't answer the phone, or the door."


"And if Spike calls, or comes around…be careful. He's dangerous."


Angel hangs up the phone and took a minute to try and calm himself. Alternating surges of panic, and rage. Spike, the little bastard. He's put up with too much shit over the years from him. This is the last straw. If he ever sees Sweet William again, he'll cut his balls off and feed them to him.

Doesn't want to think about Buffy. He has no doubt she's on her way, speeding across the continent like an avenging Valkyrie.

He throws his things into a bag. Then, on his way out, takes a moment to call Turlock and leave a message on his machine. Telling him he won't be needing the merchandise after all and can he arrange a proper burial? He'll pay for it.

Then downstairs to hail a cab for another desperate run to the airport. Like the last time. Next time, he swears to himself, she comes with him.


Buffy twists and turns in her seat, trying to find a comfortable position, trying to get some sleep. The plane is half empty, and most of the other passengers on the red-eye are down for the count. Normally the dull roar of the air rushing past the plane, does it for her, but every time she closes her eyes it just seems to kick her brain into high gear. Remembering the argument she had with Riley, when she told him where she was going.

"Mom's in trouble," she said. "I have to go."

"What kind of trouble?" he said. "Can I help?" He can hardly fail to notice the weapons she's packed.

"No," she said.

His face darkens with anger. "And you're not going to tell me what kind of trouble? I thought we were past this."

"No," she said. "I guess not. "I'll call as soon as I get in. And as soon as I know, I'll let you know.

"Buffy, please, you can't just run off like this,"

"It's my mother!" She hissed.

Riley backed off, didn't say anything else as she finished packing, kissed the sleeping boys goodbye, and left.

She slid the windowshade up, looking for any sign of light in the darkness. Please God, let it be a hoax. Spike's idea of a joke. She'd rather fly cross-country for no reason, than have it be true.

Her mom and Angel.

She'd tried calling Giles, but his phone was out of order, and besides, if that sneering, badly disguised voice were telling the truth, anything he said to her would be a lie. Even considered calling Cordelia, in LA, but even if she knew anything, she'd lie about it. Cordelia was Angel's friend, not hers.

It couldn't be true. She wouldn't. He wouldn't...

Fuck her mother. Turn her...

If he had, she'd drive a stake through his treacherous heart.

Mom, oh God, she'd just talked to her just last night. She'd sounded fine, like Mom. They'd discussed Thanksgiving. Mom had talked about making a pumpkin pie from scratch. Buffy had begged her not too.

It couldn't be true. Had to be Spike's idea of a bad joke. Either way, she's going to find the evil bleached bastard and kill him, once and for all.


Joyce decided to pack. She'd already started. Not much left to do. She hopes they have time to go by the house and pick up the boxes there. They were mostly pictures, of her family, Mom and Dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Pictures of her, baby, child, bride, mother, doting grandma. Pictures of Buffy.

She’s zipping up the last suitcase when the back of her neck prickled. She isn't alone. Someone’s in the house.

Dammit, she thinks, she really isn't in the mood. She followed the scent into the kitchen, and of course, it's him, the one person she feels least like dealing with is sitting at the table, sipping a mug of blood, like he was supposed to be there.

"Spike, what are you doing here?" Her voice is remarkably even, she thinks.

"I just thought I'd come by and see how my old mate was getting along. Didn't expect to find you here, Joyce."

"Spike, you need to get out."

"Hmmm, you've changed. Can't say it's a bad change either," he grinned and licks a smear of blood off the corner of his mouth. "You're looking quite lovely."

Joyce gritted her teeth. It pisses her off that, once upon a time, she'd been fooled by that beautiful boy face and the raw neediness he dangled like bait. She'd felt sorry for him, more fool her. But that was then, and this was now.

He stood up, he moved closer. Much too close.

"So, Joyce, how do you like being one of the bloodsucking undead?"

"Get out Spike," she says evenly.

"I bet he gave you a soul, didn't he? The damned poof. Never even let you have a taste of freedom. Quite the control freak our boy," Spike sneered.

"Get out of here Spike. I found Giles." Brief flash of surprise, then he flashes an unrepentant grin. Raised eyebrow.

"What were you doing there anyway? Little hanky-panky going on with the Watcher?" and he's circling her, little predator ritual, thin grin pasted on his face.

"Last warning," she said feeling cold and certain.

"So soul-boy's left you all alone, hmmm? Must say, Joyce, bein' undead suits you. You look smashing," he moves behind her, and puts his hands on her shoulders, they're iron-hard and no cooler than her own skin. There's a dull ache in the back of her skull. Something about his scent…it takes her a minute. She realizes with a shock that he's aroused. He doesn't really think… but he does.

She turns to face him, and he just looks down at her, expectantly. She puts her hands on his shoulders, and he's just starting to grin in triumph as she jumps up, and smashes her forehead into his nose. He staggers back, and she steps behind him, gets one arm tight around his throat, grabs a handful of hair, and twists. !SNAP! He drops to the floor, boneless, his head bouncing off the slate floor with a nasty thunk and lies there, sprawled like a broken doll. Joyce kicks his foot experimentally - not a twitch.

His expression is priceless, she thinks as she squats down next to him, peers into his big blue eyes. He's terrified. Good.

"This probably brings back bad memories for you," she tells him, and smiles.

Spike remembers that smile, it belongs to Angelus and he wonders if he knows it's gone missing. It makes the blood in his veins feel like it has turned to powder. "I told you to go." He tries to speak, but can't make a sound, the connection broken.

She drags him downstairs to Angelus' old torture chamber. Uses the table, manacles him, hand and foot. His hand twitches as she snaps the last restraint shut. His spine already healing. By tomorrow night he could be fully recovered.

She stands there, in the place of her rebirth. Trying to think. Angelus’ extensive collection of torture implements still hangs on the walls, sharp edges gleaming softly in the dim light. It's an appropriate nursery for a demon. She has no memory of that first soulless waking. Her first memory is of white light, and waking to find herself chained to the wall. Angel, a few inches away staring at her with a combination of hope and guilt. And the shock of hunger, pouring through her, pure as snowmelt, welcoming her to her new life.

She's hungry now. The smell of Rupert's blood is all over Spike. In Spike. That bothers her. His eyes widen in fear as she leans in close to his neck and inhales deeply. Rupert is hers. Spike doesn't deserve to have Rupert's blood in him. She can do something about that, she thinks. He doesn't move, can't move, as she presses closer, starts to let her teeth slide through the pale cool skin...

Then pulls away in distaste, and turns to the wall to select the proper tools for the job.

END part 7


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