Part 11: Maneuvers

“Rupert Giles.” Giles stared blearily at the stranger standing on his doorstep. The man was a bit older than himself; he had short grey hair and a well groomed silver mustache. There was an angry expression on his long pale face, and his suit had been bespoke in its long-ago youth. He reeked of tobacco, old books, and self-righteousness. There was really no need for a secret handshake.

“Yes? May I help you?” Giles asked politely.

“I’m Darius Merrick, Miss Summers’ Watcher. Apparently you didn’t receive my phone message,” he snapped.

“No,” Giles said mildly. “I’m afraid it’s an old and somewhat unreliable machine.”

“I was forced to spend the night at the Sunnydale Airport Hilton, due to your failure to stay in contact.”

“Tea?” Giles stepped aside to let him in.

Merrick dumped his bags at the foot of the stairs and settled himself at the breakfast bar while Giles made tea. He looked over his surroundings, obviously unimpressed. It was, admittedly more than usually messy. When the last of the White Hats had finally left Giles had decided to leave the cleanup for the morning.

“You seem to have had a celebration of some kind here recently.”

“Yes. Do you take milk?”

“What exactly were you celebrating? Someone’s birthday?”

“No. As it happens we were celebrating the successful destruction of the horrendous machine the Master had created, the rescue of 50-odd prisoners, and the elimination of most of his minions. Sugar?”


Her eyes look sad, even when she’s smiling; but her legs wrap around his waist with easy competence.

“Done this before haven’t you?” He teases, and she laughs the shadow gone from her eyes. He pushes inside her and is almost undone by the way her slick cunny stretches and grapples with his cock as she takes him all the way in with a satisfied moan. He pulls back until only the tip of him is in her, he trembles on the brink, then eased back inside again. Oh Fuck, it felt good. Being inside her, soaked and sunk in the scent and taste and feel of her. If he had a soul he’d gladly sell it for this.

Something moves in the corner of his eye. Startled, he looks and sees a woman, pretty if a bit thin; standing in the corner of the room watching them with an expression that’s critical and a tiny bit smug. She doesn’t say anything, just smiles as he lowers his mouth to Joyce’s delectably soft breasts, his hips in and out at a steady pace fingers working her clit, until he felt her trembling heard his name whispered like a prayer just before she clenched hard around him arching her neck eyes shut tight. The stranger nodded, as though he’d passed a test. Bugger off, he thinks, still working towards his own release; he’s not got far to go, excitement sending flashes across his vision, can’t remember anything as sweet as being surrounded by the wet warmth of her, feeling her blood pounding all around him, just the other side of her skin, making him feel like, yeah just like that and oh God!!.

Spikes eyes flew open as his orgasm spurted into the air and spattered his belly. His hand fell back onto the mattress and he stared up at the ceiling feeling the backwash of ecstasy roll through his body. Fuck him. He found himself searching the air for traces of her but there was only the lonely smell of his own spunk and the faded stinks of the apartment’s late owner.

He sat up and used the already crusty sheets to clean himself off. What was it about her? Not like she was drop-dead gorgeous, she was more of a classical beauty like; he’d always preferred them a bit younger. There was something about her though. He felt comfortable when she was around. Not really surprised she turned him down, not likely she’d say yes, under the circumstances. Too much of a lady. She’d wanted him though. He hadn’t imagined the flare of heat he’d felt between them as he’d forced her back against the sink last night, the smell of dish soap mingling with the desire rising from her skin.

And there he was, half-hard again just from thinking about her. The hell with worrying about why when all that really mattered was: he wanted her. And he would bloody have her, no matter how long it took.

He went into the kitchen and pulled out the last of the blood he’d filched from the hospital. He drank it cold, alternating mouthfuls of crap blood with mouthfuls of slightly less crap beer. He hungered for fresh and warm but he’d be damned if he gave Angelus the chance to nark on him. Not while he had two reasons to keep in good with the White Hats.

He could just take her of course. Wouldn’t even take violence, she’s so bloody naïve he’d have no trouble talking her into going off alone with him, all it would take would be a bit of playacting ‘Joyce! The Slayer wants you to meet her. C’mon, I’ll take you there!’ and that would be that. But he didn’t want her that way. He didn’t want her screams and struggles, he wanted her willing. He wanted her with yes on her lips as she looked into his eyes, desiring him, Spike and no-one else.

He tossed the empty bags and the beer can into the overflowing garbage can. He cast a critical eye around the place. It had been a tip when he’d moved in after relieving its previous tenant of both his life and his keys and Spike had done nothing to improve the situation. It might do for him to tidy up a bit. Human birds liked things neat. And candles. And flowers. Chocolate?


“If I may summarize: you have made an alliance with not one but two vampires, only one of whom even makes a pretence of being good. You have encouraged my Slayer in her disobedience. Revealed her identity to civilians. Committed serious crimes, i.e. arson and car theft. Not to mention allowing contact with someone masquerading as her dead mother…”

Giles sighed; Merrick had been going on at him for the past half hour. Luckily Buffy seemed to have slept through it. “Joyce Summers is her mother,” he corrected.

“So you insist. It’s a matter of no importance anyway. The Slayer belongs on the Hellmouth, in Cleveland. There are prophecies, an Armageddon due…”

“There are prophecies about this Hellmouth as well – though the Council has chosen to ignore them. The Master’s entire purpose in coming here was to open the Hellmouth. He’s free now, it’s very irresponsible of the Council to ignore the danger that he may want to complete his project…”

“Miss Summers’ duty is in Cleveland. Where she will be returning, this very day.” He looked at his watch. “It’s almost 9:30, shouldn’t she be up by now?”

“As I told you, we were all up rather late last night.”

“The last flight to Cleveland is at 3 p.m., I’m afraid I can’t waste any more time…”

“Hiya Merrick.” Both men looked up to see Buffy standing on the stairs. She yawned. She looked almost childish, dwarfed in the dress shirt he’d loaned her to sleep in, but Giles wasn’t fooled. He’d seen the look in her eye and if he’d been a vampire he’d have run out the front door and taken his chances with the sunlight.

“Buffy,” Merrick said. “I hope you got enough sleep.”

“Sure. Hey, Giles, any coffee?”


He had his own sources, his own eyes and ears in the community, so even though he’d made his excuses for last night’s fiasco he knew all about what went down. He’d guessed the timing of his summons down to the half-hour. Didn’t make him any happier about having to answer it, but, hey, gotta pay the piper.

The Master had taken over a massive crypt in the oldest section of Restfield. The limo, with its sunlight-proofed windows and his human chauffeur was one of the many perks of being Acting Mayor. Colin opened his door and held an oversized umbrella over his head to shield his employer from the sun as he walked the short distance from the car to the safety of the crypt’s entrance.

“Thanks brother,” Trick said. “Wait in the car. I’ll phone you when I’m coming out.” Trick stood watching Colin until he was back in the car, until he no longer had an excuse for lingering. With a sigh he pulled open the rusty gate, brushed away the cobwebs and stepped down into the dusty darkness.

Fucking tombs. He just didn’t get why anyone as powerful as the Master insisted on hiding underground like some new-risen minion. Tried to talk the dude into upgrading, giving the above-ground life a try, but the old demon was set in his ways, bound and determined that demons didn’t need electricity, running water, or floors not made of dirt so he let it go. Not really his business, least as long as he didn’t try and make him live like that.

The guards posted at the bottom let him in with only a cursory search. They looked pretty beat up and there was a lingering stench of burnt flesh hanging in the air. Didn’t seem like there were as many minions hanging around as the last time he visited subterranean city.

The Master sat in his throne. No sign that he’d taken any damage himself.

“Master,” he knelt, determinedly not thinking about the dirt being ground into the knees of his Armani trousers.

The Master looked down at him. “Mr. Trick. You don’t write, you don’t call; I was beginning to think you didn’t care for me anymore.”

Fuck, the old monster was seriously pissed off. He needed to be very, very careful here. “Busy times down at City Hall, what with the holidays coming and all. Some fools are mumbling about calling a special election if the Mayor doesn’t coming back soon. I could kill them, but that might attract attention, figured that was the last thing we needed.”

“And you had no warning about the Slayer?”

“Not a whisper. It ain’t exactly something I’d keep to myself. The Slayer being here means trouble for all of us. Got some more bad news – according to my contact at the airport her Watcher got into town last night.”

“That means she’ll have the backing of the Council.” The Master sighed. “They won’t be able to overlook this situation. I’m afraid my plan will have to be put into action a trifle prematurely.”


“Yes. The Factory was simply a diversion, a way to pass the time while my true ____ came to fruition. I truly hate to rush things, but it seems I have no choice.”

“Er, plan?”

“Opening the Hellmouth of course. That’s why I came to this benighted spot all those years ago, and I believe in finishing what I start.”

“You’re going to open the Hellmouth. Won’t that kind of mess things up around here?”

“When the Hellmouth opens a myriad of true, unsullied demons will be unleashed on this piddling dimension. It will be glorious. It would be even more glorious if I had the time to prepare – but never mind. It will have to do. Sufficient unto the day is the slaughter thereof I always say. Every human in this town will die horribly.”

“If all the humans die, what’ll we eat?” Trick asked carefully, hiding his reaction.

The Master’s laugh sounded like choking. “Don’t worry. They’ll probably only kill fifty or at most a few hundred million before the Hellmouth seals up; there’ll still be plenty left for us.”

“That’s cool then.”

“Just imagine it: all the death and destruction. Humans pouring out of their burning cities like ants from an anthill, confused and helpless. If only I had a little more time, I’d hoped to have us positioned to take over.” He looked wistful. “Ah well, another time perhaps.”

“That’s a helluva plan.”

“Yes, yes it is. I don’t suppose you could arrange to kill the Slayer? As a personal favor?”

“I can try. Maybe an outside contractor?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’d appreciate it if you handled it yourself, personally.”

Shit. “Sure, sure thing. I’ll get right on it.”

Posted 04 October 2003

Part 12 (continued)

It was worse than Merrick had feared: his Slayer was completely out of control.

“I’m not going back,” Buffy repeated in the extremely insulting tone she’d been using towards him since she’d come downstairs. She picked up the last triangle of toast, studied it, and then ate it in three unladylike bites.

Merrick leaned forward across the table. “Don’t be ridiculous, you are the Slayer, you have duties that you cannot simply abandon on a whim!”

“Yup, that’s me, the Vampire Slayer, ‘one girl in all the world’ born to fight the monsters, yadda, yadda. Well the Master’s the biggest meanest monster I’ve ever seen and I’m not leaving Sunnydale until I’ve done my duty.”

“I will not stand for this kind of insubordination! Sunnydale is not your concern!”

“Why not? Why is this Hellmouth less important than the one in Cleveland? Looks to me like there’s been plenty of activity here. Why hasn’t the Council done anything?”

“There is only one Slayer. Mr. Giles was put here specifically to monitor the situation…”

Buffy snorted. “Riiiight. Listen Merrick, you can talk all you want to but I’m not going back with you until this is finished.” Ignoring Merrick’s sputtering Buffy stood up and went upstairs. The sound of her slamming a door shook the silence a moment later.

Merrick glared at Rupert Giles. He turned his head, but not before Merrick saw the ghost of a smile flicker across the other man’s face. He had no doubt that this so-called Watcher was partially responsible for Buffy’s rebellion. This, of course, was why the Council discouraged the Slayer from having contact with anyone except her Watcher. Her new ‘friends’ and this person who claimed to be her mother had certainly not helped the situation.

Well, it would not stand. As Watcher to the Chosen One it was his duty to nip this rebellion in the bud.


It was a little after 1 p.m. when he got back from Restfield. Gotta love underground parking. “Hey sweet Amelia, anybody miss me while I was gone?” Trick said as he walked into his office.

“Good afternoon Mr. Trick,” his young, human secretary blushed and giggled as she offered him his messages. He’d eaten four others before he found Amelie, she was just the right combination of efficiency and naiveté. Besides, he got a kick out of flirting with the girl, it helped break up the long day. This business of pretending to be human played hell with his sleeping patterns: up all day and most of the night. It wasn’t natural and it was a damned good thing it was almost over.

“I’ve got some work to catch up on. So no calls O.K.?”

“Yes Mr. Trick.”

He gave her another of his killer smiles as he opened the door to his office. She really was a good secretary, he planned to turn her when the gig ended; she deserves it.

The office was dark except for the lamp which cast a neat circle of light onto the desk. Trick hung up his coat and took a seat in front of the desk. The ‘Deputy Mayor’ nameplate was exactly at the midpoint of the desk and lined up perfectly with the edge of the blotter. The Mayor must have been waiting for him for awhile.

“So how did it go?” The voice that came from the shadows behind the desk was still a little raspy but you kinda had to expect that.

“Went O.K.,” Trick told him. “The dude’s still koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs. Wants to open the Hellmouth and release Hell on earth, destroy the whole damn town.”

“No, that’s out of the question,” Mayor Wilkins said, he leaned forward into the light. He looked good, considering, if you overlooked the peeling skin and the faint whiff of decay. All things considered he looked fan-fucking-tastic. It was going to be a long time before he forgot about what the Mayor had looked like when Trick found him after the Master’s minions had paid a visit. been human. When the pile of mutilated flesh had quivered and begun pulling itself together even a bad motherfucker like himself had been creeped out.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. There’s another thing: he wants me to take out the Slayer – personally.”

Wilkins frowned. “Absolutely not. As it is the population is lower than I’d like, much lower and my Ascension might be compromised. Having a Slayer around could be quite useful.” Trick suppressed a winced even though he agreed that the Hellmouth had gotten a little overpopulated. “And I’d truly hate to lose you Mr. Trick, you’re an exceptional employee.”

Trick smiled. “Soooo?”

“I think the Master has definitely worn out his welcome.”


The woman sits on his couch, obligatory cup of tea cradled in her hand. She has the advantage of him – she knew that other Giles and therefore something of him. He knows very little about her.

“So who is Merrick?” She asked. “And why do we need to talk about him?”

“Merrick is Buffy’s Watcher. He’s been with her since, er, her parents’ death.”

“In Cleveland.”


She shook her head. “I don’t understand that. Hank and I had wills of course, and my sister Arlene was named executor and guardian. What happened?”

Giles had a strong suspicion of what had happened, but it wasn’t his part to spill Council secrets. “I’ll look into it, but it appears that he has legal custody of Buffy, which means I’m afraid that he’ll be bargaining from strength.”

“Because I can’t prove I’m her mother.” Joyce said, voice steady.

“Well, as to that, resurrecting your identity may not be as difficult as you think. I’m afraid, however, that you will need Buffy’s cooperation.”

“Will she even talk to me?”

“I think she will. If she truly means to defy Merrick and the Council, she’ll have no choice. She needs our help as much as we need hers.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“’United we stand,’ right Rupes?” Giles turned, not very surprised to find Buffy standing on the stairs, a coolly calm expression on her face. Mother and daughter’s gazes collided. “All for one and one for all, right Mom.”


The patio door was open. When Cordelia went to shut it, she saw the broad shouldered figure of Angel standing at the edge of the pool doing his statue impression. “Hey,” she said.

“Uh, hi.” He turned, face pale above the black bulk of his body.

“Thinking about going for a swim?”

“Huh? Oh. No. Just – enjoying being outside. I keep expecting to wake up back in the cell.”

“Hey, cheer up: you’re free, we kicked the Master’s ass, and Willow ’s dust.”

“Yeah, Oz told me.” He sounded a little sad.

“You wanted to do it yourself,” she realized.

“It kept me going, thinking about it; I had plans…” He said wistfully.

“Which I really, really don’t want to hear about. Did you eat?”

He shrugged.

“Yeah, didn’t think so. Come on, I’ll heat something up for you.”

He followed her into the house and took a seat at the breakfast bar. Cordelia took the remaining container of blood out poured it into a soup mug with a grimace and put it in the microwave. While it heated she rummaged in the refrigerator for something for herself, finally settling on a cold chicken leg and a handful of cherry tomatoes. The microwave dinged and she handed the mug over to him.

“Yuck – I mean, bon appetit.” Angel hesitated a moment, then drank. Cordelia sat munching her chicken, apparently undisturbed. He found her presence a little bit disturbing, the smell of fresh human blood mingled with the pig’s blood.

“So where are you going to go? Back to the mansion?”

“What mansion?”

“You – other you I guess – used to live over on Crawford Street, in this mansion.”

“Oh. No. I had an apartment when I first got here, but that was two years ago. I’ll find someplace. Don’t worry.”

“I’m not. But you know, you could probably use the pool house. No-one ever goes out there.” She didn’t want to admit how relieved she was when he shook his head.

“Better not, your parents will be back soon, and Luz tried to get into my room today. Luckily I’d blocked the door from the inside.”

“Why? You think she wanted to stake you?”

“No, but if she’d woken me…” A distinctly sinister smile crossed his face, and for a moment he looked entirely too much like Angelus. “It wouldn’t have been a good situation.”

“Oh. Sooo. You’re feeling better then.”


“Tell me again why either of us would agree to this?” Giles snapped.

“We need to find out where the Master’s holed up, need to put my ear to the ground.” Spike said holding onto his temper. “None of your lot can go – every vamp in town knows you and your happy crew. And they’d sniff out the Slayer in a minute. So that leaves yours truly to do the reccy.”

“Fine, why do you need Mrs. Summers to come along with you?”

“’Cause it’d look suspicious if I sat alone in Willy’s for a couple of hours without getting drunk or in a fight.”

“Whereas you being with a human wouldn’t look suspicious at all.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time. C’mon Rupes, not gonna hurt her.”

“What’s going on?” Joyce asked as she came down the stairs. “Hello Spike.”

“’lo Joyce.”

“Well, ask her then.” Giles said a little waspishly.


Posted 22 October 2003

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