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Fic update: Gently Down the Stream (chapter 2 of 6)
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Yay, it's Friday night and it's time to post the next chapter!

In this chapter, somebody goes missing, somebody comes to town, and shocking discoveries are made.

Title: Gently Down the Stream
Length: about 25,000 words total; this chapter is about 5000 words.
Pairing: Spike/Buffy along with other canonical pairings, but this isn't really a shippy story.
Warnings: Canon-typical violence; almost no sex.
Cross-posting: Dreamwidth, LiveJournal and AO3; read wherever you're most comfortable.


Chapter 2




Sleep. Dreams, nightmares. Work again. Sleep again. Dream again.




Tara called Buffy at work just as the lunch rush was getting going.

"Buffy, have you seen Willow?" she asked.

"Um, no. Should I have?"

"I mean, this morning? Before work?"

"No. Not since last night at supper. Why?"

"She went out last night and she didn't come home."

Buffy felt a chill go down her back. "You've tried her cell?"

"It's in our bedroom."

"Have you checked with Xander and Anya?"

"I'm calling them next."

Buffy glanced over at the front counter; the line of customers was growing. "I've gotta go, but keep me posted, okay?"





There was still no sign of Willow by the time Buffy got home at seven o'clock. Tara and Spike had looked for her in all of the parks and graveyards where they knew she liked to walk, and Tara had called the hospital and the police station.

"The police were really not reassuring," Tara said, looking pale. "They said something about the incredible number of people who go missing in this town and how they can't be expected to keep track of them all..."

"Oh God," Dawn said. "We have to do something."

"Maybe she'll come back on her own," Anya suggested. "It hasn't even been twenty-four hours."

Tara shook her head. "Willow would not go away without telling me. Something's happened."

Xander cleared his throat. "I really hate to say this. I mean, I really, really hate to say this. But Buffy, isn't one of your ex-boyfriends running a private detective agency in L.A. now?"

Spike literally choked a little. "Oh bloody hell, not that wanker." But then he looked over at Tara, who was curled up in an anxious huddle in a corner of the sofa. "Right," he said with a sigh. "Let's give Angel a ring."

Buffy, honestly, was not full of enthusiasm about calling Angel. Things between the two of them were always so complicated, and he didn't even know yet that she was dating Spike. But for Willow she'd walk through fire, so she went straight across the living room and picked up the phone.

Angel answered on the second ring. "Angel Investigations."

"Hey," Buffy said. "It's me. Cordy's day off?"

"She's away," Angel said. He sounded curt. Which was not unusual in the scheme of recent Angel/Buffy conversations, the last of which had been at least six months ago.

Buffy figured she'd better skip straight to the chase-cutting. "I'm calling because I need your help. Willow's missing, and we're really worried."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Angel asked. "But I haven't heard from her in at least a year."

"I was hoping you could come to Sunnydale and help us look for her. The police are useless and—wait a second. Didn't you talk to her just a few days ago?"

"No." Angel sounded puzzled. "Why would you think that?"

"She said you did. She said you called about Drusilla."

"Drusilla? I haven't seen her in over a year, either."

"Well she was here a few days ago, and she was looking for Willow..." Buffy hadn't put those thoughts together until this moment. It had been three days since Dru came by, after all. But Willow had reacted so strongly when Buffy told her ... and why would Willow have lied about talking to Angel?

"I see why you're worried," Angel said. "If Drusilla's involved—I should be there. I'll come. I can be at your house in about two hours." He hung up.






While they were waiting, Buffy called Willow's parents. They hadn't seen her, and they seemed unconcerned. "She probably just needs some space," Sheila said. "Have you tried the library?"

"Library?" Buffy asked Tara and Spike.

"Checked it this morning," Spike said. "No dice."

"Why do people say that, anyway?" Dawn wondered. "We're looking for Willow, not for dice."

Anya patted her hand. "I don't know. I have noticed that people use many strange expressions. Why do people tell me I have a bun in the oven? It's really a little disturbing. We're not planning to eat the baby."

The doorbell rang a little after nine. "Here we go," Xander muttered, barely audibly, as Buffy went to answer it.

"Hi Angel," she said as she opened the door. "Thanks for coming—"

Angel's eyes were fixed on something over her shoulder. "Spike," he growled.

So fast that Buffy barely registered what was happening, Angel shoved past her and slammed Spike up against the opposite wall. "What the fuck are you doing here?" Angel demanded.

Spike, bug-eyed and terrified, could only gurgle in reply—Angel's forearm was pressed against his neck.

"Angel!" Buffy shouted, running over to them and grabbing Angel's shoulder. "What are you doing?!"

Angel took a step back, and Spike dropped to his knees. "Something's wrong here," Angel said, sounding less certain in his anger than a moment ago.

"Yeah. You just attacked my boyfriend," Buffy said.

"Your—" Angel's expression darkened again. For a split second Buffy was almost convinced he would kick Spike—but in that instant Angel's eyes darted to her. She knew he was seeing her readiness to throw herself in between them. He kept his feet planted, looming over Spike, and growled down at him, "How did you do it?"

"He's gone mental," Spike rasped, clutching at his neck. "Harris—"

To her relief, Buffy saw that Xander was at her side now. She could not believe how badly Angel was taking Spike being here. She wondered if it would've gone better if she'd warned him ahead of time. Or just kept Spike out of sight. Dammit.

"You don't get to come in here and hurt my friends," Xander said, planting himself between Angel and Spike with a restraining hand on Angel's chest.

Angel shook his head. "You don't know what you're talking about," he said dismissively. He shoved Xander aside without apparent effort and glared down at Spike again. "Obviously you got someone to do you up a love spell," he said. "But how did you manage a heartbeat?"

Spike glared right back up at him. "What the fuck are you on about?"

Buffy caught Xander's eye, and tried to wordlessly signal I think Angel's gone actual-for-real insane and we need to get him out of here. She wasn't sure if Xander fully got the subtleties of her message, but he did move so that she and he were flanking Angel.

Angel suddenly moved—inhumanly fast, like when he'd first charged through the door. He grabbed Spike and hauled him up and shoved him against the wall again, and for one bizarre moment Buffy thought Angel was about to kiss Spike (which would've explained a thing or two actually, and she'd always wondered about the two of them and Spike had always evaded her most direct questions...) but then he bit him.

He bit Spike's neck.

There was a crunching sound, and it was at the exact same moment that Buffy heard the noise that she also realized that Angel's face had changed.

She heard screaming and it took her a second to realize that it was her own voice, only not just her own voice because Xander was screaming too. And Dawn was shrieking in the background and Buffy just glimpsed Tara pulling Dawn and Anya out of the room, which was good, get the kid and the pregnant woman away from the— the—

Buffy's mind skittered around and refused to settle on a word, but meanwhile she grabbed a lamp and smashed it as hard as she could across the back of Angel's head.

"Ow," said Angel, sounding aggrieved. Buffy hit him again with the now-broken lamp. "Ow," Angel said again, and tried to grab the lamp. Buffy held on.

Spike was hyperventilating, obviously terrified, struggling uselessly against Angel's now one-armed grip. Angel's other hand was on the lamp, stopping Buffy from swinging it again. He looked at Buffy with his demon-mask face and said, "I was only tasting him."

His face. It was horrible and alien but familiar somehow, too.

Her dreams. She'd been seeing faces like that in her dreams.

"I'm dreaming," she said out loud. "This isn't real."

"Something isn't real," Angel said, lisping slightly around his terrifying new set of teeth. He shook his head, and suddenly his face and teeth were normal again. Buffy could almost believe she'd imagined it, except for the two bleeding puncture wounds at the base of Spike's neck. "But Spike's really human. Which is impossible. What's going on here, Buffy?"

Buffy didn't let go of the lamp. "What are you?" was all she could manage to say.

"You don't know," Angel said slowly. "You really don't know." He looked over at Spike, who was shaking visibly, with tears running down his cheeks. "And you. You stink of fear. You don't know any more than the others, do you?"

"Don't hurt them," Spike begged him, his voice catching. "Do whatever you want to me, just don't hurt them."

"Fuck," Angel said. He let go of Spike and he let go of the lamp. Xander, to his credit, immediately grabbed Spike's arm and yanked him away from Angel. Buffy hefted the lamp and tried to look confident and threatening instead of more freaked out than she'd ever been before in her life.

"Touch him again and I'll kill you," she said.

"I won't touch him," Angel promised. "I'm—I'm sorry. I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion earlier."

"The wrong conclusion?" Buffy repeated incredulously. "You bit Spike's neck! And what happened to your face?"

"You're under some kind of memory spell," Angel said. "All of you. The question is, who did it? And why?" He shook his head. "Too many possibilities. Who wouldn't want to incapacitate the Slayer?"

"Start making sense," Buffy demanded. "Right now."

"I'm a vampire, Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth, you're the Slayer, you're supposed to protect the world from demons, and somebody's made you forget all this," Angel said. "Possibly the same somebody who has Willow right now. She may be in serious danger. By the way, where did Dawn and Anya and that other woman go?"

"That does not qualify as making sense," Buffy said. She hoped Tara and Anya had gotten Dawn the hell out of here.

Angel looked exasperated. "I hate memory spells," he muttered. "Listen, Buffy. You saw my face. How else would you explain it?"

"I'm not sure what I saw," Buffy said.

Angel grimaced—and then his face changed again. Buffy was staring right at him when it happened, and it made her stomach hurt a bit. The bones and cartilage of his face seemed to shift and grow right in front of her eyes. His forehead grew ridges, his eyes turned yellow and vicious, and his teeth lengthened into glistening fangs. "This is what you saw," he said in that same exasperated voice.

"Um, Buffy," Xander interjected, his voice tight. Buffy looked over and saw that Spike was on the floor, shaking uncontrollably.

"What's going on?" Angel asked. How he could sound confused and uncertain, standing there with his monster face and his bizarre assertions, Buffy really didn't get. But at least he seemed to be done attacking Spike.

"He's having a seizure." Buffy spoke sharply; she wasn’t sure of much else, but at least she was sure that she was mad at Angel. "Don't you fucking go near him." She saw that Xander had already moved the end table away from Spike, leaving the area of floor around him clear. Good going, Xander, Buffy thought gratefully. Handle one crisis at a time.

"A seizure," Angel repeated, kind of numbly. Buffy looked at him and saw his face had gone back to normal again.

"Stress is a trigger," she said.

"Um," Angel said. Buffy took some entirely inappropriate satisfaction from the fact that now he looked off balance. "Should we do something?"

"Not until the shaking stops. Except maybe you should leave," she said, making her voice as hard as she could manage.

"I can't leave," Angel said. "You need me far more than I realized. You're all in terrible danger. It might be Drusilla who has Willow, but she couldn't perform a spell like this one—if it is her, she has help. Powerful help."

"And again with the making no sense. What the fuck, Angel?" Buffy felt like she was about to start crying, from confusion and fear and—God, the thing that had happened to his face.

She was about to start crying because a part of her believed him.

Angel looked again at Spike. "This has happened before?" he said.

"Kind of none of your business," Xander said. Buffy could tell he was scared, but he was putting up a good front. She loved him intensely just at that moment.

Buffy looked at Angel. "Let's imagine for a minute I believe anything you've been saying. Do you know where Willow is?"

"No idea," Angel said. "But I'll help you look for her. And you need to go find your sister and friends and bring them back here. I heard the back door open and close more than two minutes ago. If they've gone far, they may be in danger."

"Yeah, well, I kinda think in here is not such a safe place right now," Xander said. "No offense but—it's the teeth, y'know?"

"Buffy, this is important," Angel said. "There are other vampires. Others like me. Only—not like me. I'm the only one who wouldn't hurt you. The others are like animals, they hunt humans for food."

"You bit Spike," Buffy reminded him.

"I tasted his blood. I needed to know something. The other creatures out there—they won't just taste Dawn, they'll drink her dry."

"I'll go," Xander said.

"No," Angel said quickly. "It has to be Buffy."

Buffy shook her head. "No way am I leaving Spike." She glanced over at him; the seizure was still going. Usually they only lasted for a minute or two. It looked like this was going to be a bad one.

"It has to be you," Angel repeated, more forcefully. "You're the Slayer."

"The what?" Buffy said. He'd said that before but it hadn't made any sense.

"You're strong. If there are vampires out there, you can fight them. Xander can't."

"Um," Buffy said, "Feminism yay and all, but Xander weighs like eighty pounds more than me and he's a construction worker."

Angel rolled his eyes—which struck Buffy as a completely inappropriate reaction. "Xander," he said, "Take the lamp away from Buffy."

Xander and Buffy both glanced at the broken table lamp that Buffy was still clutching. "Why?"

"Because Dawn and Anya are in danger and you two apparently aren't going to take my word for anything," Angel said. "Xander, try to take the lamp. Buffy, try to hold on to it."

Xander met Buffy's eye and Buffy shrugged—she couldn't see how this could hurt, and there was really nothing they could do for Spike until the seizure stopped.

Xander took hold of the base of the lamp and tugged gently. Buffy glared at Angel and held on. Xander pulled a little harder. Buffy tightened her grip.

"I really don't see the point of this," she said.

"Xander, really try to take the lamp," Angel said.

"I am really trying," Xander grunted, to Buffy's surprise.

"No you aren't," she said.

"Yes I am." His face was going red, and he'd braced his feet against the floor.

"Now do you believe me?" Angel asked, sounding aggrieved.

Just then, Spike stopped shaking. Buffy let go of the lamp and ran to his side. Xander fell on his butt.

"Sorry," Buffy called back over her shoulder, and took Spike's head on her lap.

He looked up at her with glazed eyes. "Buff— what happened?"

"You had a seizure."

Spike grimaced, closed his eyes. "Neck hurts. I fall on somethin'?"

Buffy realized he'd forgotten about Angel—the last few minutes before a seizure were usually lost to him, at least temporarily. "Yeah," she said, figuring it was better for now if he didn't remember. While Spike wasn't looking, she waved Angel towards the front door. Angel moved, but he beckoned her, too.

She didn't want to leave Spike like this. She really, really didn't. But she remembered Angel's face, and the lamp.

Angel thought Dawn was in danger. At this point Buffy didn't trust Angel as far as she could throw him—but she had yet to figure out exactly how far that was.

"Xander's going to help you upstairs to bed," she said. "I have to go out. I'll be back soon."

Angel was waiting for her out on the sidewalk.

"They went this way," he said, starting north at a brisk walk.

"And you can tell that ... how?" she asked, following him.

"Anya's wearing perfume," he replied. "We're lucky there's no wind. Trail's pretty faint, but I can follow it."

Reflexively, Buffy sniffed the air. Which was ridiculous. She smelled fresh-cut grass and cooling asphalt. "Right," she said.

"Vampires have enhanced senses," Angel said. Buffy guessed he'd noticed her skepticism. "I can hear your heartbeat from here."

Buffy pursed her lips, not sure if she believed him, but she kept pace with him anyway. Whether or not they were getting closer to Dawn, at least Angel was getting farther from Spike.

"So how come you're telling me all this now?" Buffy asked. "And not, oh, say, during the three years when we were dating?"

"I did," he said. "Sort of. I mean, you already knew. You found out you were the Slayer when you were fifteen years old. You knew I was a vampire before we started dating. Somebody's done a memory spell on you and made you forget, is all. Though that doesn't explain Spike..."

"Memory spell," she repeated. "You said that before. I ignored you because you sounded like a crazy person."

"Magic is real," Angel said. "Demons are real. I know this must be a lot to take in all at once, but you're going to have to if you want to survive and save your sister and friends."

Buffy decided the memory spell idea was just going to have to go into the think-about-later pile. "Just so you know," she said, "I'm still not really over the part where you burst into my house and bit Spike."

"I wasn't expecting to see him there," Angel said.

Buffy glared at him. "Right, well that explains it."

"You called him your boyfriend," Angel recalled; he sounded like he was pronouncing an obscenity.

"Okay, I know you guys have a rocky history, and probably I should've warned you that we're dating now. So that was kinda my bad. Still—"

"Since when?" Angel interrupted.

"Since when what?"

"How long do you think you've been dating Spike for?"

Buffy rolled her eyes at the you think. The jury was still out on this memory spell idea of Angel's. In fact the jury was pretty skeptical about the whole vampire thing; for the moment they were just enjoying the free pizza. "Since last winter," she said.

Angel snorted. "That seems unlikely."

"Well, we didn't tell anybody at first," Buffy said. "And also—not really any of your business. Let's return to the topic of how you fucking bit him!"

Angel stopped walking abruptly. He turned to her, snarling. "Yes, I bit him. I should've done more than that. Do you think you're in love with him? You don't even know him. He's a monster."

"Like you?" she hurled back.

"Yes!" His eyes glinted yellow. "Exactly like me."

"Well, he's really not," Buffy pointed out. "I think I would've noticed."

Angel seemed to deflate a little. "Right," he said. "That's the part I can't figure out. Memory spells are one thing, but Spike—I mean, it can't be the Shanshu. Blood of a Maura demon, maybe? Only they're so rare..."

"You're doing that thing again where you don't make any sense," Buffy said.

Angel looked at her. "He tasted like painkillers."

"What?"

"Spike. His blood was tainted with painkillers—strong ones."

Buffy wasn't sure whether she was more grossed out, appalled, or incredulous. "You tasted that."

"Enhanced senses. Have you even been listening?" Angel frowned. "The seizures—how long has he been having them?"

Buffy gave him a suspicious glare. "Why do you want to know?"

"I'm trying to figure out what's going on. Whatever happened to Spike—it might be the key."

"So it's not that you care about what's happening to him, or anything."

"I—" Angel looked angry for a moment, and then ... vaguely guilty. "Well, actually I do," he said. "I mean—you know. It's complicated."

Buffy sighed. At least that much was always the same, with Angel and Spike. "Well, the painkillers are for the headaches. Which he's been getting for years now, but they got a lot worse in May, at the same time the seizures started."

"Do you know what's causing the seizures?"

Buffy shook her head. "We don't have a lot of money. For doctors. He had a CAT scan in June, and they told us there's scarring in his brain. We don't know if that's from the seizures, or if that's what's causing the seizures. We don't know if it's going to get worse. We can't afford most of the drugs they prescribed, and he's supposed to see a doctor like every three weeks but he hasn’t been back since June, and he pretty much refuses to talk about it." Buffy realized that she was in guts-spilling territory here. Maybe not the most appropriate context.

Angel had always had this kind of effect on her.

They heard a scream.

"Dawn," they both said, eyes meeting. And then they took off running.

Buffy hadn't known she could run this fast. She was pretty sure this was an Olympic athlete kind of pace. Angel took the lead, leaping over fences like they were nothing, and she was right behind him.

Dawn screamed again, and they rounded a corner and saw her. A man had grabbed her from behind; she was kicking and punching fiercely, but clearly getting nowhere.

The man's face—he looked like Angel had.

And there was another one. He was trying to grab Anya, but she was fending him off with a tree branch. Tara was on the ground; she looked like she'd just fallen, hard.

"Oh my God," Buffy said.

"God's got nothing to do with it," Angel said, and handed her a short pointy stick. "Through the heart. Let your instincts guide you."

"What instincts?" Buffy said ... and yet, the stick felt familiar in her hand. And really, really good.

Angel was already leaping towards the guy—the vampire—who had Dawn. The vampire had barely looked up when suddenly Angel thrust with his stick and the vampire howled, then ... exploded. Into dust.

Buffy was transfixed for a moment by the sight, but she snapped out of it when Anya yelled "Help me!!!"

The other vampire had managed to bat the tree branch out of the way and grab her by the wrist. Its fangs were plummeting towards her neck—

And then it was exploding into dust too, with Buffy's pointy stick in its back.

"Nicely done," Angel said.

"Gah," said Anya, and fainted.




Anya woke up after just a few seconds. Dawn was unharmed, though considerably freaked. Tara had skinned elbows and knees and possibly a sprained wrist. The three of them eyed Angel leerily as Buffy tried to explain what had happened in the past twenty minutes.

"So anyway, Angel is a good vampire and he promises not to bite anybody else, and we all need to go back home now and figure out what to do next," Buffy finished. She shot an extra glare over at Angel at the good vampire, no bitey part.

She knew how to kill vampires now.

"You'll be safe in Buffy's house," Angel added, starting to walk. "There's a magical barrier that stops vampires from entering unless they're invited."

"What about Willow?" Tara said. She was holding Dawn's hand, and limping a little. "She's been missing since yesterday. If she met some of those things—"

"Vampires," Buffy interjected. "They're vampires."

"I don't think it was some random loser vamp that got Willow," Angel said grimly. "You said yourself that Drusilla had been around, looking for her."

"Drusilla," Buffy repeated with a shudder, remembering the way the moth had crunched when Dru ate it. "How does she fit into all this?"

"She's a vampire too," Angel said. "An incredibly dangerous one."

"I always thought she was just crazy," Dawn said.

"Also that," Angel agreed.

"Wait a second," Buffy said, stopping in her tracks. "After Dru visited us the other day, when I told Willow about it—Willow asked me if I'd invited her in. She was really specific about it. And she kind of flipped when I said yes."

"You invited Drusilla in?" Angel repeated. "Then your house isn't safe. Is there somewhere else you can stay?"

"Well, it'll be a bit crowded, but you could all come stay with me and Xander," Anya offered.

"That wasn't Buffy's point," Tara realized. "Willow—somehow, she knew. About Drusilla. About the invitation thing."

"And there's another thing," Buffy remembered. "Spike and I ran into her on the way home from a gig the other night, and she was carrying..." she held up the pointy stick Angel had given her, "one of these. And she hid it from us, she put it behind her back."

"Whatever took the rest of your memories, it sounds like it didn't affect her," Angel said. "And she ... she's been trying to protect the rest of you. Dammit. She should've called me."

"Is that why Willow's been acting so weird all summer?" Dawn asked.

"Weird how?" Angel asked.

"Tired and cranky, and jumpy," Dawn said.

"She doesn't sleep at night, and sometimes out of nowhere she just hugs me and starts crying," Tara added.

"And how does she treat Spike?" Angel asked.

"That's a weird question," Anya said. "Do you think they're having an affair?"

"He thinks Spike's a vampire," Buffy explained, shooting a dark look at Angel.

"Well, he was," Angel said.

Dawn snorted. "As if. I mean, you know he's vegan, right?"

"So Willow never seemed suspicious of him? Wary around him?"

"No," Buffy said emphatically.

"So she can't be completely immune from the memory spell," Angel mused, doing that talking-to-himself-instead-of-them thing again. "Maybe she was able to partly resist it because she's a witch..."

"A witch?" said Tara.

"Memory spell?" said Dawn.

"Angel says magic is real and he thinks we're all under a memory spell," Buffy explained—not putting a lot of effort into sounding like she believed this part. Just because Angel was right about the vampires didn’t mean he was right about everything else. "He thinks we're supposed to already know about vampires and everything."

"Buffy," Angel said, "You need to tell me everything you remember from when Drusilla came by. Willow's life may depend on it."

By this time, they'd made it back to Buffy's house. "She was right there," Buffy said, pointing to the place on the porch. "Waiting for us, at like one-thirty in the morning. She said..." Buffy thought hard. "She called Willow the red-haired witch. She said she had a message for her, from Osiris."

"Osiris?" Angel repeated. "You're sure?"

"She said Osiris was annoyed. She said Osiris wanted to talk to Willow." Buffy shrugged. "That's all I can remember."

"This is bad," Angel muttered. "Really bad."

"So is Osiris, like, some other vampire?" Dawn asked. "We're not talking about the actual Egyptian god of the dead, right?"

"Too soon to say," Angel said, but Buffy thought he looked evasive.

"Is Osiris real?" she asked him.

"All the gods are real," Angel said. "And most of them are total bastards."

"Huh," Anya said. "I feel like I should be a lot more surprised by this than I actually am."

Angel opened the door. "You should all pack whatever things you want to bring to Anya and Xander's place. And I need to make a phone call."

"To who?" Buffy asked.

"I need backup," Angel said. "Magic's not my forté."

"And whose forté is it?"

Angel grimaced. "Wesley's."

"Who?"

"Wesley Wyndam-Pryce." Angel narrowed his eyes. "You ... don't remember him?"

Buffy shrugged. "Should I?"

"Yes." Angel took the phone off its hook, then hesitated. "You should go pack."

"I can wait." She was feeling a little more trusting of Angel since he'd helped save Dawn, Anya and Tara from the vampires—but only a little.

Angel looked displeased, but he only turned his back to her a little and made the call.

"It's me," he said. "I need your help in Sunnydale. Dru's up to something. ... I know. Look, I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important. Willow's missing, and everybody else is under some kind of memory spell ... Willow Rosenberg. ... Yes from Sunnydale High. Well, will you come?" After a moment, Angel turned to Buffy. "Give me Xander and Anya's address." She gave it to him, and he passed it on to Wesley, then hung up. "He'll be here in two, three hours."

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Sounded like he wasn't too eager to come."

Angel looked uncomfortable. "Wesley and I have some outstanding issues."

"Did you try to bite him?"

"Not exactly."

Buffy wasn't especially reassured, but Angel didn't look like he was in much of a sharing mood, and she really wanted to go upstairs and check on Spike.

Spike was asleep. This wasn't a surprise; he was always exhausted after a seizure. Buffy saw that Xander had bandaged Spike's neck.

She hated to wake him, but she had to take Angel's warning about Drusilla seriously. And if anyone was going to be in danger from Drusilla, it seemed like it would be Spike—Dru had broken up with him, but she'd never gotten over him.

If any of that had even been real. How could Spike and Buffy both have dated vampires, and not known it? Things were not making a lot of sense, tonight.

"Spike." She shook his shoulder, gently, and waited for him to open his eyes.

"Buffy." He started to sit up, and then fell back with a groan. "Bloody hell, my head."

"You had a seizure, do you remember?"

"Bits'n'pieces." He gave her a sudden sharp look. "Angel. Is Angel here?"

"Yes. And I'm sorry to wake you up, but it's been an unbelievably crazy night."

Spike's hand went to his neck. "Did Angel bite me?"

Buffy tried to think of a gentle way to explain everything, and failed. "Yes," she said finally. "It turns out he's a vampire and I'm a superhero and we all have to go hide at Anya and Xander's place so that Drusilla, who is also a vampire, doesn't murder us."

"Ah." Spike squinted up at her. "You are having me on, yeah?"

Buffy shook her head. "Nope."

After a few seconds, Spike seemed to realize she was serious. "Bloody hell," he said again, with feeling.

Buffy shrugged. "You rest while I pack."

Comments at Dreamwidth: comment count unavailable

Yay! Really loving this one!

Yay part 2! I'm still really enjoying this story and love how it's all slowly unfolding.

Can't wait for part 3. :D

Yay, really glad you're enjoying it! :-)

This is so much fun! I think I saw Chapter One on an archive, and I wasn't sure how slowly the charade was going to crack, but this is so action-packed I can't want for the next bit. :D

Enjoying every word of this, and looking forward to more.

This is fabulous. Friending you so I can keep up - hope that's OK?

I love their reactions as they begin to find out the truth - especially Buffy as she begins to work out she has superpowers.

Friending is absolutely fine. I'm so glad you're enjoying the story!

> I love their reactions as they begin to find out the truth

Happy to hear it! :-)

Hand up on the friending too.

Gotta find out where Willow is. Pleeaasse tell me she's snoozing at the local Holiday Inn???

Hm, Willow, yes. I expect we'll find out where she is sooner or later....

*wanders away, whistling innocently*

Oh yay! Love the way you slipped in the hints about Angel and Spike's past, and that Buffy has her own suspicions. LOL

"You don't get to come in here and hurt my friends," Xander said, planting himself between Angel and Spike

Yup, something really weird is going on!! I'm enjoying this very much!

Yes, yes indeed. (Poor Angel.)

This is a spiffy story. I really like how Angel showed up and blew up all their expectations, but my favorite thing in this chapter is probably your Buffy voice.

"Um," Buffy said, "Feminism yay and all, but Xander weighs like eighty pounds more than me and he's a construction worker."


Hee!

Buffy tried to think of a gentle way to explain everything, and failed. "Yes," she said finally. "It turns out he's a vampire and I'm a superhero and we all have to go hide at Anya and Xander's place so that Drusilla, who is also a vampire, doesn't murder us."

"Ah." Spike squinted up at her. "You are having me on, yeah?"

Buffy shook her head. "Nope."

After a few seconds, Spike seemed to realize she was serious. "Bloody hell," he said again, with feeling.


I suspect that Spike still has his vamp strength, maybe? That would explain why Buffy wouldn't think she was particularly strong; a purely human partner would have plenty of chances to notice her super strength, right? Even if it just involved jar opening.

"Don't hurt them," Spike begged him, his voice catching. "Do whatever you want to me, just don't hurt them."


Aww, poor sweet human Spike. *pets him*

So glad you're enjoying it!

That would explain why Buffy wouldn't think she was particularly strong; a purely human partner would have plenty of chances to notice her super strength, right? Even if it just involved jar opening.

Well, as to that, remember in chapter 1 how Buffy easily unstuck the box of patties in the freezer when Percy couldn't? She rationalized it away as just a trick in the way she twisted it; she may be making a lot of rationalizations like that (and it's never occurred to her to test her strength; why would it?).

I did notice that; I just wondered if having a super-strong partner made it easier to not notice the strength. But I'd believe it either way. :)

Wondering about the scarring in Spike's brain, too; whether it's chip-related, or about his demon that isn't there, or if somehow messing with a hundred plus years of memories (almost all of which would have to be radically changed or erased) somehow left a mark where tweaking 6 years wouldn't...

Hmmm, yes, one wonders, doesn't one?

**resists urge to say anything else**

Four more chapters to go! :-)

(Thanks for making this delightfully fun for me by sharing your speculations!)

Trying to catch up - and this is of course wonderful! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Sorry for inadequate f/b.

No worries about quality of feedback; I'm just excited to know that you're reading and enjoying it!

Nummy fic! Calling in Angel did seem like a supremely unfortunate choice, but it's cool that he's the voice of Sunnydale past, as it were. At least somebody remembers things the way we do. Though I'll bet Willow knows what's going on, sure as shooting. (See what I did there?)

I'm all flustered by kitteny!Human!Spike. Vegan! Seizures! Headaches! Bad dreams! Oh, let me help you with those...

I'm all flustered by kitteny!Human!Spike. Vegan! Seizures! Headaches! Bad dreams! Oh, let me help you with those...

LOL!