Part 21 - Love During Wartime


Cordelia stared into her dressing table mirror, the lights set to their brightest and least forgiving and looked for visible signs of insanity. Because she’d clearly lost her mind.

She’d kissed Angel.

Not just kissed. She’d let Angel put his hands, his great big, skilful hands, all over her body. His hands, his mouth, his tongue...

Hell, she’d had her hands all over his big, solid, broad shouldered -- focus dammit!-- his so-not-worth-dying-for corpse.

She shook her head at the crazy person in the mirror. She knows better than this! O.K., her life had taken a definite turn for the weird: she’d been dragged out of her rightful dimension into bizarro-land, been abandoned by her parents and even had to blackmail her own father into putting the money he’d swiped back into her trust fund but Cordelia Chase did not date the undead. No matter how hot they were. Nope. Nu-uh.

Especially not vampires named Angel, who even if he did neck like a god, was prone to snapping like an overstretched rubber band and going all super-villain. She’d already seen the Angelus show thanks, she’d skip the rerun.

Dammit, her whole future was already planned: she’s already been admitted to UCLA, and while she studies for her degree in Business or maybe Communications (because she’s so not going to be like her mother, with nothing to do all day but think of new ways to spend money and annoy her husband: pathetic much) she will meet her wealthy and good looking suitable husband. Then, after graduation she’ll set up her own business – personal management -- visit Europe at least once a year. In due time she’ll produce two suitably adorable children and they’ll all live happily and weirdness-free ever after.

Broody, unstable, vampire boyfriends are definitely not in the plan. Angel is a hunk, and very sweet, and has two centuries of experience with the whole kissing and touching thing and god did it show… but it just wasn’t going to work out between the two of them. It won’t. It can’t.

So that’s it. She’ll tell him tonight.

After they don’t die.


Trick was halfway to the Master’s crypt before he noticed he didn’t have the cemetery to himself. Humans were moving purposefully through the dusk and the scents of gun-oil, sanctity, and wood set his instincts jangling. He spotted Spike headed in his direction and stepped quickly into the deep shadow of a gnarly old live oak.

Well, wasn’t that a kick in the pants: looked like the White Hats were making their move a little early. Trick stood very still as he thought things over, tightening his grip on the girl’s throat, silently warning her not to do anything stupid. She trembled, she was a pretty little thing and her fear smelled absolutely delicious, but she was a gift for the Master, a special present from the Mayor, the kind that said ‘drop dead mother-fucker’.

Came as news to Trick that vamps could be poisoned, not in the bad-hangover fuck him if he’ll ever do strychnine slammers again way, but in the pass away to dust sense. This “Killer of the Dead” shit was apparently the one thing that would get the job done, and they’d shot this little cutie’s blood full of the stuff. No smell, no taste, and death to any vamp that drank it. Worse news was the shit was harmless to humans, so it was a damned good thing almost no-one had heard about it. Hunting was liable to become goddamn hazardous if word got round.

He was busy thinking that he forgot about the girl; he was caught completely off guard when she suddenly slammed her handcuffed wrists into his chin and broke free. His claws tore through jeans and skin as he grabbed after her, but she kept going. He half-started to go after her then stopped cause, what the hell. She wasn’t any damned use to him now and if she could survive the Sunnydale night gagged, handcuffed, and bleeding, well shit, she deserved to get away.

He waited another couple of minutes to be sure the coast was clear and then headed back to his car. “Change of plans,” he told Charlie. “Take me back to City Hall, I’ve got good news for the boss.



Larry stared as the blade flashed and another vamp scattered into the already dusty air of the Master’s new hideout. He knew Giles could fight; he’d seen him take off his suit and his mild mannered identity to kick major vamp-butt lots of times but seeing Merrick, still all tweeded-up, swinging a sword like Conan the Librarian was a shock.
He lunged forward and staked an attacking vamp, bringing the stake under the rib cage and up into the heart (worked better for non-superpowered humans) and stepped back so he wouldn’t get a mouthful of ash.

They were winning. He could feel it. This wasn’t like the factory, where the vamps had been pissed off and angry and just a little too cocky even while their buds were being staked and fried in front of them. They’d been sure they were going to win, right up until the van blew.

This time it was different. This time they had friends, people from the factory, people who weren’t willing to keep their heads in the sand anymore. And this time the vamps knew they’d been beaten once and they knew they could be beaten again. They fought but not enthusiastically: mercenaries not true believers. Larry spotted vamps slipping away, trying to make a break for it. Not that they had much luck with that since Angel and Spike were guarding the exits. The two old vamps were fucking awesome; incredibly fast and really vicious. Angel seemed to like pulling their heads off. Spike was more flexible: whatever caused the most pain. Larry was really, really, glad they’re on the same side. He really didn’t want to think about what could happen if they switched.

“Nancy!” Larry’s head whipped round at Oz’s shout and gaped in horror. She was hanging in the grip of a vampire, choking as the monster slowly strangled her. Oz couldn’t get past the vamps he was fighting and Larry was on the other side of the cavern, he knew he was too far away even as he started to fight his way toward her. He watched helplessly as her eyes rolled back white in her red face and she went limp and the vamp chuckled and pulled her in for the bite.

Giles got there as its fangs sank into her throat. One quick thrust and the vamp was dust; Nancy landed in a heap and didn’t move. Oz ran up and knelt down next to her. She wasn’t breathing.

“Oz, I’m so sorry…”

Oz turned her onto her back, tilted back her head, and breathed into her mouth. One-two-three, rest, one-two-three, rest. Nothing.

Larry stood there feeling useless. Giles took two long steps and staked a fleeing vamp in the back while Oz hauled his girlfriend up into his arms, whispered something into her ear. He shook her, angrily, then laid her back on the ground and started CPR again.

One-two-three, rest, one-two-three…

Giles eyes met Larry’s in shared despair.

And then she coughed, and gasped, and Oz was holding her in his arms. Alive.

And Larry thinks maybe there might be a God after all.


It was down to the two of them. The surviving minions were still fighting the White Hats and their allies but the screams and growls are nothing but background music, ignored by the two of them all alone in their own brutal universe.

There was no grace, no art to their battle. They threw themselves at each other, hard and fast, his size and inhuman strength against her speed and ingenuity. He clawed her arm, she broke six of his ribs; he hammered her with his fists, she drove a knife into his knee. Twisting away from a lethal kick she slipped on a smear of blood, off balance for an instant and he lunged knocked her defending arms aside and lifted her by the neck. He shook her hard, glaring triumphantly into her eyes, puzzled by the lack of fear in them.

Then his own eyes went wide as she rammed the stake home.

At the Master’s howl the minions froze panic rising in their eyes as they turned towards the sound. They saw the Slayer kneeling on the ground, gasping for breath eyes fixed on the Master as he scrabbled uselessly at the stake in his chest. He sighed, and his hands fell away and he collapsed. Slowly his flesh sifted away into dust until there was nothing left but ancient bones in a heap on the stone floor.

The vampires broke. All strategy forgotten, every vamp reverting to type, only interested in escape. The White Hats took full advantage, staking unprotected backs as the undead stampeded for the only exit. Angel and Spike chased them only as far as the foot of the stairs. Spike sat down heavily on a sarcophagus sagging with exhaustion. Angel let his ax drop, and joined him. They listened to the screaming as the fleeing vamps ran into the Holy Water squirt-cannons. When the screams stopped human voices raised a subdued cheer.

“That’s it then,” Spike said.


“Bloody good fight.”

“Didn’t suck,” Angel admitted.

Spike pulled out a pack of cigarettes and held them out. “Smoke?”


Angel had just taken his first puff when the sound of breaking bone shattered the quiet. Both vampires looked over to find that Buffy had returned and was trampling the Master’s remains; methodically grinding them down to splinters and dust till the only the sharp-toothed skull was left.

They watched Buffy picked up her trophy and wrap it up in her jacket. Angel frowned, he just couldn’t manage to reconcile her with the golden child he’d seen bouncing down the high school steps a little over two years ago. And as far as him dating this killer…he hid a shudder as she aimed an obscure look at both of them before running up the stairs.

“Nice girl,” Spike muttered.



The White Hats went back to the Chase mansion for what wasn’t quite a celebration. They were all too tired for that. That none of them had died, or even been badly injured was close to a miracle.


They’d invited him in. The White Hats had clearly forgotten that his deal with them expired with the Master or they’d never have invited him into the Cheerleader’s mansion. Angelus hasn’t forgotten of course, but he’d been too busy sidling up to the cheerleader to pay him much attention. Not that he’d be able to stop him if he did take the opportunity to take out a few White Hats.

He’d do that cow Nancy first since she’d made no secret of hating his guts. Of course that meant genius boy Oz would need to go next, the boy was too bloody clever with his high-tech weapons. He’d be sure to take out one of the Watchers, that prig Giles for preference. He’d slipped into the kitchen after Joyce and he didn’t need psychic powers to work out that he was giving her a bit of a talking to or about what. Bastard.


Joyce realized as soon as Giles walked into the kitchen that it was an ambush. She smiled at him and turned her attention to the plate of sandwiches Luz had made up for them.

“Ah. Mrs. Summers.”

Joyce frowned. “Joyce.”

“Yes. Joyce. May I be frank? I don’t know you very well, and this would be an uncomfortable discussion even if I did, but I’m concerned about your safety.”

“This is about Spike, isn’t it,” she said, unsurprised. She knew this conversation would have to happen sooner or later. Knew it as soon as she woke up this morning.

Joyce groaned. This was not a good morning.

Her head ached, her eyes felt like the Sandman had dumped half the Sahara into them, and her bladder was about to explode. She opened her eyes and realized that she wasn’t in her own bed and someone was spooning her from the back, clinging to her like a kid with his woobie. She looked down at the smooth cool arm clamped around her waist. She knew that arm; that was Spike’s arm. Which meant that this was Spike’s bed and Spike’s apartment and oh dear…

She really, really, needed to pee.

He grumbled sleepily as she disentangled herself but didn’t wake up. She heard him mumble something sleepily as she ran for the bathroom.

She swallowed three of the Tylenol she’d found in the medicine cabinet dry and lifted her head to glare at the woman in the mirror. She was wearing one of Spike’s black t-shirts. Despite the bad hair and baggy eyes there was a distinctly smug look on her face.

Turning her back on the shameless hussy in the mirror she cracked open the door and peeked. Spike was where she’d left him, curled in the rumpled sheets. He mumbled, and turned onto his side, graceful even in sleep and she felt a traitorous throb between her legs as she remembered him, eyes staring into hers, totally focused on her his cool hard body balanced above her on one arm, his cock deeper inside her than anyone had ever been before.

He’d made her scream till her throat was sore. It had been the most exciting and terrifying night of her life and she didn’t regret it. What the hell she was going to do about it now though…

Joyce sighed and stepped out of the bathroom.

The refrigerator was empty except for two unopened cartons of orange juice and milk and a Styrofoam container from Ben’s Meat Palace. The milk sounded lumpy so she went with the OJ. She tossed the empty carton in the garbage and faced the bed.

Her nice new suit was lying on the floor beside the bed, crumpled and stained and she knew the smart thing was to pick it up get dressed and sneak away into the daylight. Spike didn’t move. Instead she got back into bed. As she tentatively spooned his back he sighed and rolled over to face her. He had such beautiful eyes, clear of conscience as a newborn’s.

“Morning luv.” His hands traced her body with familiarity.


“Haven’t got anywhere you need to be, yeah?” he murmured, pulling her closer.

“No,” her mouth answered before her brain could interfere.

“Good.” He mouthed her collarbone gently. The feel of his lips on her skin and the solid weight of him easing into the curve of her body killed her scruples dead. She smiled into his chest as she opened up to him. Because she deserved this, if only for a little while. She could always go back to being responsible Joyce Summers later.

She forced herself to focus on Giles’ words.

“Spike – whatever he may pretend to be, is a monster, a vampire. Even granted his intentions are good …”

Joyce raised her hand and cut him off. “I know what Spike is. I’m not naive. We used to drink and talk for hours. He told me more about himself than I think he realized. I know what he is, what he’s done.”

Giles’ face. “Then how can you even consider…Why?”

Joyce sighed. “Rupert: I died. I’ve been brought to this world where my daughter is a stranger, I have no job, no friends, no money—.”

“You can’t trust him.”

“I can. I know he isn’t exactly the same as the other Spike. He’s—,“ she tried to think of the best way to describe the difference. “—un-humbled. But he’s still Spike. I believe him when he says he loves me.” She picked up her plate of sandwiches and smiled. “For one thing he’s a terrible liar.”

And before he could build up another head of steam, she left.


Joyce came out of the kitchen carrying a plate of sandwiches. She didn’t look angry, or upset, so maybe he wouldn’t need to skin the Watcher right away. A moment later the Watcher emerged, blinking and polishing his glasses. He didn’t look pleased.

“Hey. Want some?” She offered sitting down next to him on the couch. The soft cloud of her presence wrapped around him. He’d woken with it, didn’t think he’d ever get tired of it, blood and heat and the unique sweetness that was her.

“No. What was the Watcher bending your ear about?”

“You. Me.” She seemed unconcerned. The sandwich disappeared in three bites.

“Doesn’t approve,” he said grimly.

She put the plate down. “No. But we agreed to disagree.” She wriggled closer to him and leaned her head against his shoulder. He felt the useless air leave his lungs as he carefully put his arm around her, vaguely aware that every eye in the room was suddenly focused on the two of them. Then she turned and kissed him lightly on the cheek and the rest of the world disappeared.


“O.K.,” Oz said looking away from the Very Odd Couple. Nancy had her back to them, she looked at him oddly as she handed him back the empty cup.

“What’s up?” she said.

“Joyce-- and Spike.”

Nancy grimaced. “That’s disgusting. She’s too old and he’s dead. God. Ick. What’s Buffy doing?”

“Freaking. Quietly so far.”

“Think she’ll stake him?”

Oz shrugged. He could see the fingermarks on Nancy’s throat starting to color. The worst moment of his life had been seeing her lying there on the ground, limp and still. He’d almost lost her. He didn’t think he could take losing her. She was all he had left. The vampires had gotten his family and most of his friends.

They’d talked about leaving Sunnydale. Especially after what happened to Jesse. They’d talked about going someplace where the things lurking in the night stayed there instead of trying to take over, but it was only talk, it would’ve been too much like desertion under fire.

But now the Slayer was here, and Angel, and the Master was gone… maybe it was time to go. Time to get lives of their own.

“What’re you thinking about?” Nancy asked.

“I want to talk to you later.” Nancy nodded, reading the seriousness in his eyes.

“O.K. Later.”


“Angel, oh God! Angel!” Cordelia’s body arched, her toned thighs locking behind his neck and pulling him in so his whole world was bounded by the taste and smell of her wide open under his mouth.

As the last convulsions faded she slumped, let her legs slip from his shoulders. “Oh god that was…” she trailed off, with nothing to say for once.

“You’re welcome,” Angel said leaning back and licking his lips. This was the other things he was really good at. His smugness was diluted slightly by his neglected erection. It was fucking unbelievable that Cordelia Chase was a virgin, if he’d ever seen a body made for carnal pleasures, it was hers. And he was going to be her first, when she was ready. Which he hoped to hell would be soon, it was getting harder and harder to hold back, a soul and a couple of centuries of guilt would only go so far. Angel slid onto the double-wide sunchaise beside her; thinking maybe, if he asked nicely she’d help him out a little with his problem…

“God! You are evil!” Cordelia said as she stood up. “Where the hell are my sandals?”


“Distracting me with your, uh, skills. Making me forget about breaking up with you.”

“You—huh?” Angel was startled by the white hot rage that sparked at the idea of her leaving him. “Cordelia. What the hell are you talking about?”

“Us. Breaking up. Because.” Her eyes flicking around the dark pool area finally located her shoes.

“Because what? Did I do something?”

“No. It’s just: you vampire. Me – prom queen. Going to UCLA. Beaches, dating, sorority, everything…and last but not least the whole you going evil if we ever get past third base. It’s not gonna work. You know it, I know it, so we need to, y’know, stop. End it. Over.” She stopped, probably aware that even for her that had been incoherent and focused on slipping on her shoes.

Angel was standing over her when she looked up again. “What do you want Cordelia?”

“I just told you: a normal life.”

“Yeah? Not me then? This was all just casual? Just fun? Are we <i>just friends</i> Cordelia?”

She looked very young as his touch forced her to face him, and look him in the eye. “No. But…”

He held her gaze. “Cordelia. I’m not some high school kid; I’m not going to lie to you and say that Love will conquer all. I know it’s going to be hard, but the only way this won’t work is if you don’t want it to work.”

“What about the curse?”

“Mr. Giles and Miss Calender are hard at work on it. And I can wait. I’m a patient kind of guy.”

Cordelia sighed, and let herself be pulled into his embrace. He couldn’t help a tiny groan as she contacted his erection. Cordelia giggled. “Not a saint though,” she said.

No, he thought, holding on to her, never that.

“Spike!” Buffy hissed. “I saw him! Kissing Mom! They’re out there holding hands right now! I’m going to stake the nasty bleached leech!”

“No! Buffy, you can’t!”

She gave him a look of utter disbelief. “Huh? He’s a vampire, just another soulless killer! What makes him special?!”

Giles sighed. “It wouldn’t be honorable.”

“Huh again?”

“We accepted the bargain Spike offered: that he’d fight on our side and not kill humans and, so far, he’s kept his word. Therefore, we must keep ours. You can’t kill him simple for dating your mother.”

“Sure I can.”


“Hey, I’m not going to do it in front of her, give me some credit. She’d never know what happened.”

“Buffy: no. As much as I disapprove of her decision, your mother is a mature adult.”

Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “You already talked to her about it.”

“Yes. I expressed my-- reservations. But you must realize Buffy, your mother is an adult. She’s certain in her own mind that she knows what she’s doing.”

Buffy snorted derisively. “She’s wrong. He’s a monster. She doesn’t have a clue! Just because he’s pretty she thinks he’s human.”

Giles sighed. “Your mother isn’t the same woman you remember. She lived on the Hellmouth for more than five years in that other world. I absolutely disagree with her decision, but I think it would be an awful mistake in terms of your relationship with her for you to interfere.”

“So I’m supposed to just grin and call him Uncle Spike?”

Giles coughed at the image that conjured in his head. “Of course not I simply feel that…”

“He’s advising patience, and I concur.” Merrick’s smoothly interrupted. He stood with his back against the now-closed kitchen door. Giles was disturbed by the fact that he hadn’t noticed him until he spoke; he suspected that Buffy hadn’t either. “Patience…which is a virtue William the Bloody does not have a reputation for possessing in any great measure.”

Buffy’s glare faded as she realized what he meant. “You’re saying he won’t be able to keep it up. He’ll fuck up.”

“Precisely. Even if he is sincere in his…declaration, he is only a demon, soulless and irredeemable. The best thing we can do is watch and be ready for his failure so that we can keep the damage to the absolute minimum.”

“I still think it would be easier to dust him now,” she said sulkily.

“All good things my dear.”

Giles told himself resolutely that he did not in any way feel left out as the Slayer and her old Watcher shared a conspiratorial smile.


It didn’t take much doing to persuade her to come back to his place. In for a penny in for a pound was how Joyce did things. No longer shy, she leaned against him in the car her fragile heat warming his side like a hearth and kissed him outside his door till he thought he felt his heart beat.

He had her on the bed face down, laughing, before the door was well shut. She didn’t fight as he used a scarf to tie her wrists behind her before she could do much more than gasp. He pulled her up onto her knees. “Mine,” he growled wrapping his arms around her from behind, sliding dull teeth along the curve of her neck. She went very still when he let her feel the pinprick of his fangs on the paper thin skin behind her ear. “All mine.”

She took a deep breath the taste of fear and sudden doubt raised the demon. Then she relaxed, arousal shooting up like a fountain as her body flowed warm and soft as wax into his iron form and he melted with her.


Anyanka paused in her work to frown as the familiar sensation of one of her spells being completed shivered along her skin. That was odd, she was quite certain that she didn’t have any pending magics. She’d felt a similar inexplicable twinge a few weeks back, but she’d been quite busy at the time and hadn’t had the time to investigate.

She was still busy. Once she’d finished off her current assignment here in Turkistan she had a pressing appointment in Russia with a no-longer prima ballerina. This minor mystery would have to wait. As soon as she got the chance she promised herself she would find out what was going on, and take the necessary steps to deal with it. She certainly didn’t want d’Hoffryn to find out that her magic had somehow been hijacked or misused. It was probably wise to not even mention the matter to Hallie.

So resolved, she returned her attention to her work. The tongueless Nazeer Akbar could do nothing but twitch and stare in agonized horror as she picked up her very sharp knife and considered the next cut. The bit around the scrotum was always difficult to get off in one piece…


Posted 21 August 2004



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