Part One

"I'm telling you this is the real thing," the weasely little demon whined twisting ineffectually in the
larger demon's grasp.

"The boss said kittens, he didn't say nuthin about no ring," the Fyarl snarled.

"But, but, it's the Gem of Amara," the little demon stressed. "It grants the wearer power, invulnerability, ability to walk in the sunlight, the works." He decided to leave out the vampire part, no need to complicate the issue.

The Fyarl looked unconvinced although it was hard to tell on a face not fashioned to show any emotion other than ferocity. "Where did you get it?"

"I was down in L.A., you know looking for prospects when I see Angelus, the Angelus. Well I figure, hey where he is, mayhem follows right? So anyways, I follow him and he's trying to destroy this ring, does a pretty good job of it too but there's a little bit left so I sweep it up and take it to a friend of mine who does spells and she manages to get it back." The
little demon babbled as if his life depended on it, which in fact it did.

The Fyarl peered at the ring in his large palm, aside from the circular shape he couldn't make out much, being extremely near sighted but too embarrassed to pull out his glasses in front of the smaller demon. He knew there were other questions he should be asking but thinking wasn't his strong suit and he was having trouble keeping on topic as it was, preferring to teach the little critter a painful lesson and still be in time to meet his friends at the local demon pub and catch the end of the playoffs.

"So, you take this ring in payment right, in lieu of kittens and we're square right?" The diminutive creature asked hopefully.

Unfortunately for him, the Fyarl hadn't understood the phrase 'in lieu of' and assumed he'd been insulted. His response was a furious roar before tossing the hapless demon through the air in an impressive display of supernatural strength. The little demon had just enough time to let out a squeak before closing his eyes and commending his soul (such as it was) to his Maker. Luckily or unluckily as the case may be, he landed in a large open tallow bin used by a local restaurant chain. He emerged relatively unhurt although he was unable to rid himself of the smell of cheesy fries for weeks afterwards and was persona non grata with his girlfriend during that time.

The Fyarl meanwhile pocketed the ring and lumbered off to join his friends in a well earned after work drink. Five pitchers of beer later he'd all ready forgotten about the incident and we would never have heard of it again except for the fact that his employer a local lone shark, (literally) wanted to know where his kittens were, which of course jogged the Fyarl's memory sufficiently to remember the ring. His boss looked at the battered piece of jewelry, listened to his employee's tale, lamented the lack of good help these days and promptly fired said employee on the spot.

The boss stared morosely at the ring before deciding that he might as well try to get something out of this mess and put out the word that the Gem of Amara was up for sale on the fifteenth of the month to the highest bidder, cash only, no checks or credit cards, please.

And thus our story begins.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"And you're quite sure about this information?" Giles asked for the second time.

"Yes!" Buffy, Willow, Xander, Anya, Spike and even Tara yelled in exasperation.

"Well there's no need to be testy," the Watcher said rather testily.

"I'm telling you that's what the vamp said right before I dusted him," Buffy sighed.

"But after she'd beaten the stuffing out of him," Xander added helpfully.

"And before Anya kicked him the cajones for ruining her new shirt," Spike smirked.

"Silk blouse," Anya corrected automatically.

"But weren't we assured that Angel . . ."


"Spike please!" Giles snapped, "That he destroyed the Gem?"

"That's what Angel. . . "


"Spike give it a rest," Buffy sighed, "That's what he said and I double checked it with him."

"Still, I do think we should look into this." Giles removed his glasses and began Slow Cleaning Maneuver Number Three, as Xander, Buffy and Willow had dubbed it one night in a fit of sleep-deprived humor.

"Xander and Spike shall go." Giles mentally counted to twenty as the complaints started.

"I don't see why I have to go G-man (Giles winced at the hated nickname) besides you know how I feel about Deadboy and Fangless." Xander slumped into his seat and kicked at the floor in a fit of pique.

"Making me go is cruel and unusual punishment it is. I've all ready lost the Gem once; I shouldn't have to do this, unless of course you'd like me to buy it back. I could use it to fight against evil." Spike tried to smile ingratiatingly.

Buffy stared at the smiling vampire and turned to Giles with a look of concern. "Are you sure that this is a good idea, maybe I should go along."

"No Xander and Spike can meet up with Angel . . ."


"Spike!" Willow warned.

Giles shook his head and silently commended himself on his plan, Xander and Spike would be gone, affording him some much needed peace and with any luck Xander would lose the vampire before having to return home.

"As I was saying, you can meet up with the L.A. team and see if there is any merit to this rumor and report back. I'm sure that A," Giles shot a quick look at Spike before amending, "the L.A. team can handle the matter."

Xander glared at the blonde who sneered back. "We can leave now, Spike can fit in the trunk." Xander said helpfully noting the beautiful sunny day.

"I am the Anti-Christ, I am the ...." Spike started singing at the top of his lungs.

"See what you've done? Don't tease him, he just gets cranky," Willow admonished her friend.

"All right, you win!" Xander yelled. Spike immediately stopped singing and beamed innocently.

"I hate you," Xander sighed. Spike only smiled.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"They're sending Spike and Xander," Cordy informed the group.

"Why?" Angel's left eye twitched slightly.

"Because they were driving Giles crazy?" Cordy hazarded a guess. "And he's probably still a little ticked at you about the entire trying to suck the world into Hell affair."

Angel muttered something unintelligible and continued going over the bills.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Well that's the third vampire we've tried it on boss. I don't think this thing works." The demon added as he began sweeping the ash remains off the patio.

Meanwhile, another lackey finished checking off sunlight on his list. The boss was absolutely livid. "Didn't anyone think to check this ring out before we sent out the invitations?"

"Well you know; it's the playoffs."

The boss snarled and contemplated eating the lackey for dinner but he was the only one of his employees who could program the VCR properly.

"What are we gonna do? In ten days time we're gonna have at least a hundred demons here from Earth and various other dimensions, bidding on a working Gem of Amara which we don't have! Do you know what they're gonna do to us when they find out, do you?!"

"I have an idea," began one of the newer employees hesitantly. He glanced around nervously as he noticed the others in the room moving away from him to a safe distance.

"What would that be?" The boss leaned forward with a sneer that showed a goodly portion of his triple row of teeth.

The employee swallowed heavily, "We could lose it. There's bound to be some do gooders out there just waiting to stop our nefarious plans, so let 'em."

Dead silence greeted his pronouncement, aside from the sound of those nearest to him moving farther away. He closed his eyes and awaited his fate, when nothing happened he opened one eye to see the boss tapping his chin thoughtfully.

"I like it! Put the word out that we're moving the Gem to a real secure location tonight, worried about it being stolen and all that, make sure everybody knows." The boss grinned and leaned back in his tank before flipping the TV channel to Passions.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"I spy with my little eye," Xander was up to "F". Spike was at the end of his patience and was busy trying to convince himself that the blinding pain of the chip would be worth poking Xander in his 'little eye'.

"C'mon Spike, try to get in the mood here." Xander bounced happily in his seat. Being trapped in a car with Spike was bad but being able to torment the vampire was good and so Xander felt he had achieved a Zen type balance on this trip.

Spike glared at the annoying human bouncing next to him. He didn't know which was worse; sugar rush Xander listening to some nameless and hopefully damned boy band or morose Xander singing along to a sad country tune. Spike had been putting up with both since Anya and the boy had agreed to go their separate ways. Actually it hadn't been so much an agreement as a meltdown complete with screaming, smashing dishes and curses. Spike had made popcorn and settled in for some serious bloodshed but Anya, former vengeance demon that she was, had wimped out and the two ended up sobbing on each others shoulders and bonding over double fudge and peanut butter ice cream - disgusting.

Xander glanced over at the pouting vampire and felt his good mood soar higher.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They arrived at the hotel in good time. Spike was looking forward to some serious Angel baiting to make up for the past two hours of Xander induced hell.

"Oi Peaches, we're here!" Spike sauntered into the lobby and was immediately faced with a crossbow bearing Cordelia, an axe bearing Gunn, and a sword bearing Wesley. "Hey!"

"Cordy, love the hair, Wesley, nice sword and you, I don't know you but if you're menacing Spike you're a friend of mine." Xander threw his kit on the couch and hopped over the back and bounced into place.

Cordy lowered her crossbow and gave Spike a look of pity. "He's been in to the sugar again hasn't he?"

"Sixteen candy bars and three soda's since Sunnydale." Spike sighed.

"And a mocha," Xander sing songed.

"And a mocha," Spike grimaced plopping down on one of the chairs, putting his feet up on the coffee table. "Where's his royal poufiness."

"Right here and get your feet off the table." Angel stalked into the room, carrying his favorite broadsword. "They're moving the Gem tonight, let's go."

"But Deadboy," Xander whined.

"We just got here," Spike finished for him.

Angel's eye twitched slightly but his voice remained flat, "The sooner we get this done, the sooner you can go home. Don't you want to go home?" Angel's voice took on a slightly pleading tone.

Xander and Spike shared a look before turning to Angel with big eyed looks of seemingly total innocence, "No."

Angel's eye twitched even more, "Let's go."

Wesley, Cordy and Gunn lowered their weapons, "We'll take Gunn's truck shall we?" Wesley asked and quickly herded the other two towards the door without waiting for an answer.

That left the three men staring at each other. "Is this gonna be fun or what?" Xander piped up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Okay, now that seemed way too easy didn't it?" Xander asked the gang. They were standing around looking at Angel who was holding the Gem of Amara. Both he and Spike were staring at the ring with varying degrees of longing. The others couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about, especially Cordy who thought the thing was really tacky.

"I suppose you're gonna destroy it - again?" Spike grumbled.

"It's too powerful Spike, you know that." Angel sighed morosely, destroy the ring, get rid of the boys and than go home and settle in for a good long brood; being a creature of habit he hated having his schedule messed with.

"Excuse me, yet again may I point out how incredibly easy it was to get the ring away from the bad guys." Xander waved his hand trying to get the group's attention.

"Well, let's get it over with, the night's still young, we may actually be able to catch the new Jackie Chan at the Roxy." Gunn urged the vampire.

"We?" Cordy caught the shy looks passed between Gunn and Wes and rolled her eyes. "Repressed much?" She snorted to herself.

Xander threw up his hands in despair. "Fine, don't listen to me."

"Okay we won't," Spike piped up, being the only person who actually was listening to Xander.

Xander shot him a dirty look. "I hate you."

Spike preened, "I know."

"Well, here it goes," Angel said having completely ignored the conversation out of long practice.

This time however there was a blinding flash of light and a popping sound. Xander blinked rapidly trying to
clear his eyes surprised to find himself on the ground. In fact, they were all on the ground.

"What happened here? Was that supposed to happen because I think that required some sort of warning you know?" Xander rubbed his eyes, his visions slowly clearing. "Everybody okay?"

"I'm fine and hello, warning would have been nice." Cordy's eyes widened in horror. "Oh dear God, please tell me I'm not sitting in some form of motor oil."

Wesley pulled Gunn up, steadying the younger man.

"Thanks," Gunn said quietly.

"You're welcome," Wes smiled shyly.

Cordy sighed deeply and gave Xander a look that said 'see what I have to put up with?'

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what the Hell happened here and who are you people?" Angel swore profusely, clutching at his head.

"Sir, your language, there is a lady present." Spike gave the older vampire a look of shocked horror before donning a pair of wire rimmed spectacles pulled from his duster pocket.

The humans stared at the two vampires in shock.

Xander was the first to break the silence, "Well heck, this can't be good."


Part Two

William blinked, giving the humans a bemused look before noticing Cordelia's predicament; being the gentleman he was, he quickly leapt to his feet, tripped, righted himself and offered the wary young woman a hand.

"Miss if I may be of assistance?" He asked politely. "William Broadmore at your service."

Cordy carefully reached out and clasped the offered hand; she was gently tugged to her feet and found herself face to face with a bashful, shyly smiling vampire. Cordelia Chase was nobody's fool; she knew what to do when faced with the bizarre.

She smiled placatingly, backing away slowly, no sudden moves, edging her way carefully over to Xander, as he was closest and that's when William got his first clear look of Alexander L. Harris. Good Lord, Adonis in the flesh!

William felt his heart skip a beat- wait a moment, his heart seemed to be skipping quite a few beats! He suddenly clutched his chest and let out a cry of horror. "Help, I believe I'm having a heart attack!" He flailed about madly before upending himself by stumbling over a still groaning Angel.

"Mind where you're stepping ya daft man!" Liam winced as the Englishman's booted foot caught him in the midsection. God Almighty, what had he been drinkin' last night to get himself in such a state? 

Wesley and Gunn hadn't moved although Wesley had adjusted his glasses for a better look at the vampires. He had to agree with Xander, this was not a good development, something had obviously gone wrong with the destruction of the ring, but what? "Hmm, let's backtrack, shall we?" He thought to himself, effectively avoiding what appeared to be an emotionally wrought situation and leaving the others to deal with it.

Cordy stamped her foot in frustration as she watched Wes go into investigation mode which in this case was being used as an avoidance maneuver and don't think she didn't realize it.

The stamp of Cordelia's foot got Liam's attention or it could have been the large expanse of leg she was showing or the merely the fact the she was female, good looking and breathing, although the last trait was actually unnecessary (i.e. Darla)  but as of right now, she was the best looking lass he'd seen in awhile. He grinned confidently and ignoring the still babbling Englishman, slipping to his feet with innate grace and started circling his prey.

Meanwhile Xander after having made his succinct and insightful pronouncement was busy trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Spike, the bane of his existence was thumping on his chest obviously trying to get his heart started; good thing he hadn't noticed yet that he wasn't breathing. Xander watched the vampire for a few seconds before taking pity on him.

"Hey there, you, Spike, Spike, hey William!" Xander yelled finally grabbing at the vampire's hands. William stared up at him in wide-eyed horror and Xander sighed and tapped the blonde on the chest gently.

"You're not going to die there's a good reason for you not having a heart beat, him too." Xander motioned to the other man who was leaning up against the alley wall next to a trying too hard to look blasť Cordy, complimenting her on her sense of style.

"Liam," he offered with nary a glance in Xander and William's direction.

Xander gritted his teeth, "Fine, Liam, you did notice you didn't have a heart beat or that you weren't breathing right?"

Liam smiled at Cordy's sassy retort to his compliment, "Nay, can't say as I have with such a vision of loveliness in front of my eyes."

"Oh please," Cordy huffed but she brushed her hair back as she said it.

Xander mentally made gagging noises before turning back to William, still patiently waiting for an answer and much calmer now that he realized he wasn't dead or if he was, it could have be worse he might not have been in the presence of an angel.

Xander met the besotted stare of the vampire and closed one eye, squinting in confusion. Nope, that didn't change the look on William's face, like Xander was the last chocolate in the box. He realized he should probably be freaked. He checked, nope not freaked, a little flattered maybe but not freaked. Note to self, file away reaction for future consideration.

He re-focused on William's dreamy smile. "Okay, William, pay attention."

"My attention is completely focused, I assure you." William straightened.

"The reason you're not breathing is, well, because," Xander frowned, "It's because you're the victim of an accident. Yeah, there's been an accident." Xander warmed to his topic, "Big science accident, a lab explosion, yeah, that's it, that's why it only seems like you're not breathing or anything.

Gunn who'd been suspiciously quiet during this entire exchange snorted loudly before breaking into guffaws and one or two snerks, ending up needing to borrow Wesley's handkerchief because he was laughing so hard, tears were running down his face.

"Oh yeah, that's a believable explanation," Gunn gasped.

"Hey!" Xander groused before turning to William who was staring at him in complete trust. Xander blinked, entirely unused to being stared at that way by anyone, especially a formerly snarky vampire. He awkwardly patted Spike, no, William's shoulder. "Don't worry, everything will be fine, believe it or not I've actually got experience in these matters."

"I have complete faith in you sir," William answered, trying not to sigh like a schoolgirl.

"Xander, I'm Xander, that's Wes, that's Gunn, that's Cordelia and Mr. Octopus there is Liam." Xander tapped Liam on the shoulder, "Hey you, want to give the lady some breathing room?" Liam raised an eyebrow but moved off obligingly enough. Xander glared at him before turning to a slightly flustered Cordy.

"What, what?" She shrugged before turning on Wesley. "Well Mister, what's the answer?"

\Wesley met her gaze, a look of deep concern on his face before taking a deep breath and stating, "I don't know."

"That's it? You don't know?" Cordy said very calmly.

Xander having learned his lesson the hard way grasped William's arm and tugged him back a few paces, putting a finger to his lips and shaking his head when the blonde tried to question him.

Wesley swallowed hard thinking fast on his feet, an excellent survival trait, "But I think I could easily find out. Why don't we go back to the hotel? We can't be on the street come sunrise anyway and I'm sure I have a book that can help with this situation."

"You're sure?" Cordy asked very gently. Xander and William stepped back two more paces.

"Absolutely," Wes stated emphatically, Gunn nodded vigorously in agreement.

"Fine than," She glanced at the unmoving males behind her, "Well come on boys, let's move it!"

"What a woman," Liam waggled his eyebrows suggestively before trotting along obediently.

William watched the object of his desire whip out a small pad of paper and jot down a few quick notes.

"What are those for?"

Xander watched Liam for second before turning to William with an evil smile, "Blackmail," he answered laughing maniacally.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


"So than I was on the varsity swim team," Xander continued, William having asked Xander for his entire life's story. Xander couldn't help but be flattered to have someone hanging on his every word and taking down quotes where appropriate.

"We actually had a chance at the State Championships that year if the coach hadn't tried to turn us all into man eating fish creatures." Xander sighed, "Managed to letter anyway though."

"I knew you were an athlete, it's obvious from your grace and quick reflexes." William offered shyly watching as Xander tossed another cracker into the air before catching it in his mouth.

"It is?" Xander sat up a little straighter, "Yeah, I guess it is." He puffed out his chest a little before breaking into laughter, "You're the only one besides Willow who's ever noticed though." William beamed.

Xander smiled back before a frown overtook his features, "Except, you're not really you and so you, the real you, hasn't ever noticed." For some reason that thought bummed the young man out. He was getting to like this version of Spike, maybe Wesley could come up with some way of doing a mix and match when they went to put the two vampires back together, speaking of which, where was Liam?


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


"I mean it Liam or whatever you're calling yourself, I'll do it; I'll clout you so hard your ears will be ringing for days." Cordy warned, lamp in hand, desk between herself and a very frisky vampire.

"I love a lass with a good right hook, comes in handy in a fight." Liam made a dodge to the right, Cordy countered with a quick move to the left. Neither Liam nor William seemed to be able to access their vampiric abilities on demand, which was a good thing, right now, a very good thing.

"I'll scream," Cordy snapped.

"Promise?" Liam gave her a winning smile.

"God you are such a jerk!" Cordy yelled in frustration.

Liam endeavored to look contrite, "I know, I've few saving graces, but the love of a good woman could be the making of me. Won't you take a chance lass?" He dropped his head, watching her through lowered lashes.

Cordy lowered the lamp fractionally, "Use that line often?" She asked dryly.

Liam raised his head, giving her his best sincere look, "Only when it really matters."

"You are so full of blarney," Cordy retorted, trying to hide a smile. She was good but she was only nineteen and this was Liam's life's work. He caught the smile and eased around the desk, a little closer to his prey.

"Is that a yes?" Liam was now on the same side of the desk as Cordy, but she still had the lamp.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Wesley burst into the lobby followed by Gunn. "I believe I've figured it out." Wes exclaimed. "The spell that was used to reassemble the ring stated that the item be returned to it's original state." Wesley frowned, "Absolutely shoddy workmanship though, shocking really but than the charlatans that pass themselves off as magic users these days well, let me tell you," Wes complained.

"Wes!" Xander interrupted.

"Yes, well, when Angel destroyed the ring the second time the spell simply expanded outward affecting the vampires because of course the ring was originally made to be of use to the undead so." Wes shrugged, "There you have it."

"You just made that up didn't you?" Xander said dryly.

Wesley blinked, "No," he hedged. "Why? Oh all right, yes I did, I don't know why the bloody thing worked the way it did but I do know how to reverse it. Happy!" He snapped at Xander.

"Yes," Xander smiled with childish victory. "Now when do we do this?"

Wes opened his mouth to answer when a shriek was heard from the office followed by a loud smack and Cordelia Chase exited in a fine state, furiously buttoning her blouse and shooting daggers at the males in the lobby.

"Men!" She snarled before stomping into the kitchen.

After a moment Liam emerged holding one eye but still grinning, "I can't understand why that woman's not married." He shook his head in disbelief.

Cordelia returned carrying a steak and slapping it into the vampire's hand. "If we don't get you back in your right mind soon I am so going to make you pay for this and you," She said turning and pointing to each man in turn, "All of you." The men felt a shiver of fear.

Xander turned to Wesley in desperation, "I never thought I'd say this and I'll deny it if anyone asks me but for God's sake man, get Angel back now before she comes for us one by one!" A wild-eyed Xander pleaded grabbing the ex-Watcher by his lapels.

Gunn kept a wary eye on Liam as the man did his best to engage Cordy's sympathies over the damage she'd caused while still keeping the steak over his black eye and damned if he didn't appear to be doing it. She slapped his hand away but not very hard. Gunn didn't like the looks of that; he patted Wesley's back trying to get his attention.

"Xander's right man, you better do something soon, those two are beginning to worry me."

"Yes well, if you'll let go of my clothing," Wesley unclenched the young man's death grip on his jacket. "We'll have Angel and Spike back in no time."

"Oh, well couldn't we just get Angel back right away and sort of leave William here alone, you know, do him later?" Xander asked.

William didn't pretend to understand half of what had passed except for Cordelia that he got, but he did understand that he was about to be sent away from Xander and he didn't like that one bit.

"Yes, couldn't I stay with Xander?" William turned hopeful eyes to Wesley.

"I'm sorry no, they must be returned together." Wesley stated politely.

"Why?" William asked.

"Yeah, why?" Xander backed him up, much more upset than he thought he'd be by the thought of losing William although he did kind of miss the vampire's sharp sense of humor.

"Because," Wesley snapped, "And before your ask, yes it's a rule all right?"

The men nodded sullenly the silence broken by the ominous sound of Cordy's half stifled giggle.

"Wes, hurry up, it's not looking good here." Gunn slapped the other man's arm while keeping his eyes on the couple.

"If everyone would kindly refrain from manhandling my person I believe I might be able to complete this spell," Wes snarled.

"I, well, I shall miss you Xander," William stuttered miserably.

"Hey, it's not like you're really going anywhere, you'll still be here and you. You'll just be you with a really bad attitude and terrible taste in music." Xander scrunched his nose, "And a diet that would make a shark happy." Xander sighed.

"There wasn't any laboratory accident was there?" William ventured.

"No, saw that plot on a late night creature feature." Xander sighed again. "Actually you're a vampire."

"A vampire?" William hesitated, "An undead creature of the night that strikes terror in to the hearts of the living?"

"Yup." Xander held his breath while he waited for information to filter into William's brain.

William pondered this for a moment, "Am I any good at it?"

Xander gave a short laugh, "Yeah, you're a real bastard."

Will nodded his head and toed the floor before catching the brunette's eyes and returning his smile. "Well, all right than." He held out a hand, "I won't forget you Xander Harris."

Xander stared at the offered hand, glanced over to where Liam had Cordy bent over one arm and was giving here one heck of a good bye and thought, "What the Hell."

He took the hand, pulling Will close enough to claim his lips in a sweetly gentle kiss. He broke away after a moment and looked into dazed yet happy blue eyes. "I won't forget you either, William."

Wesley indicated that he was ready to begin the spell. Liam caught Xander's eye and winked. William smiled bravely. Wes chanted and there was another blinding flash of light.

"And once again, I am on the ground and no warning." Xander grumbled, sitting up.

"Bloody Hell, you great git, get off me, if I had to breath I be suffocating." Spike jabbed at Angel who snarled before sitting up and bringing a confused hand to his eye.

"How did we get to the hotel? Why do I have a black eye?" Angel stumbled to his feet.

Spike sniffed delicately and fingered the lipstick stain on Angel's collar. "Why do you smell like the Cheerleader and by the way that shade is all wrong for you." Spike smirked before turning to the staring humans.

"Oi whelp what are you staring at?" Spike taunted before hazarding a quick glance out the door. "Oops, sunrise, guess we'll have to stay here for the day." Spike grinned.

Angel's eye twitch was back. "Spike shut up and will somebody please tell me what's happened?"

Cordy moved forward and grabbed Angel by the sweater, heading him toward the kitchen, "Come on Mr. Few Saving Graces."

Angel blanched and gulped. Cordy smiled evilly, "I'll fill you in and by the way, you owe me a new blouse."

Xander couldn't be sure but he was fairly certain he caught the faintest whimper from the dark vampire as he was led away.

Wesley and Gunn shared a sigh of relief.

"Thought for sure we were gonna have a situation on our hands." Gunn shuddered.

"A disaster narrowly averted, I agree," Wes answered before turning to Spike and Xander. "There are rooms on the second floor that you can use for the day." He gave Xander a soft pat on the back in commiseration before turning to Gunn.

"Ride home?"

"Sure, we can grab some breakfast on the way."

"C'mon Spike, let's go find our rooms for the day and get some sleep." Xander sighed deeply to himself; he supposed it was too much to expect that any part of William would be left to remember him.

"Hey Harris, you gotta stop watching those late night creature features."

Xander froze and turned to face a grinning Spike but with a hint of William in the eyes.

Xander felt his face just about split with his grin, "Yeah, I'll have to find another way to keep myself busy."


The End


Part One


"What?" The vampire looked aggrieved.


"Stop fiddling with the radio, you know I hate that hard rock stuff." Xander glowered ineffectually at the blonde who ignored him for a few moments on principle before flopping back in his seat, scowling and pulling out a cigarette.

"No, no smoking in the car," Xander said flatly. Well this certainly wasn't the way he envisioned the trip home. After saying good-bye to William and the kiss, Xander had thought they would talk, chat; make plans for a date, heck something. But all they were doing was driving each other insane, in other words, the usual.

Spike bounced in his seat, muttering to himself. "I'm hungry," he whined.

"Well, there's blood in the cooler," Xander gritted his teeth.

"It's cold," Spike snapped childishly.

"You don't say?" Xander gripped the steering wheel a little harder and mentally counted to ten, then twenty then all the way up to one hundred.

Blessed silence reigned for all of ten minutes then -

"I'm bored."



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 


"And that's when you undid my blouse. I never even saw your hands move." Cordelia continued regaling Angel with tales of Liam. The vampire was doing his best to disappear into the kitchen wall.

"I mean you weren't kidding when you told us you were a womanizing lout were you?" Cordy handed him a bag of ice to replace the meat patty he was using on his black eye. She hid a small smile at the amount of damage she'd caused; let's hear it for Sunnydale born and bred.

"I'm sorry. I can't imagine what got into me or why I would have done that." Angel moaned, glancing quickly at the woman standing next to him, actually yes he could.

"Hey!" Cordy sat up a little straighter, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I meant I can't understand why I would have done that to such a nice girl," Angel stammered.

"Woman," Cordy corrected automatically.

"Woman," Angel amended, "Beautiful woman," he added for good measure. She gave him the hint of a smile and he leaned back with a relieved sigh. Thank God, disaster narrowly averted.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


"Thank God we're finally home." Xander fell to the ground and kissed it in gratitude. He didn't think he could have spent one more minute in the car with the sulky vampire. He'd spent the last half hour constructing elaborate torture scenarios involving the demon and not the good kind Spike would have enjoyed either, oh no.

He couldn't remember why the Hell he'd kissed the annoying blonde to begin with but he knew one thing, he wouldn't be doing it again anytime in the near future.

"I knew it was a pity kiss!" Spike hissed, catching Xander completely off guard. Oh Lord, he hadn't just said that out loud?

"It was not a pity kiss!" Xander threw over his shoulder, refusing to get into this in the street, he stomped towards his apartment, uncaring whether Spike followed him or not.

"You've never kissed me before," Spike pointed out logically. "Never even came close; besides, wasn't me you were kissing was it?"

"Oh no you don't." Xander turned abruptly and shook his head and his finger at the blonde. "You're not playing this game with me." He tapped his chest, "I am a graduate of the Anya School of Relationships and this whole 'human/demon I don't remember what the other one did' crap is not gonna fly with me mister."

Xander backed the vampire up against the building wall, "William might not have remembered you but you remembered William and even though I didn't know that would happen I might have known that would happen so I knew that you might remember that I kissed you even if you didn't know who you were." Xander nodded decisively before turning and unlocking the apartment door.

Spike left to lean against the wall was attempting to deconstruct the explanation he was given. He wasn't doing too well even though he had years of Dru-speak behind him, Xander-babble was a whole new territory. 

"So if that's why you're acting like such a big baby, knock it off." Xander continued talking as he walked to the kitchen, assuming that Spike was right behind him until the noticeable lack of a reply caught his attention.

He backtracked to the front door where Spike was still leaning against the wall with a very perplexed look on his face, apparently talking to himself.

"Are you coming in or what?" Xander waved a hand in front of the vampire's face. Spike blinked.

"So you did mean to kiss me and you might want to do it again?" Spike ventured hesitantly. He still wasn't sure if he worked out Xander's explanation of events properly.

"Well not right now, you've been a jerk all night." Xander looked at him like 'duh'.

"I hate you," Spike snarled in frustration earning him one of Xander's rare heartfelt smiles.

"I know. Come on let's get some sleep. You can have the couch. Tomorrow we'll report our findings to the gang."

Spike who was dizzyingly trying to assimilate Xander's swift mood changes and remember where the extra blankets were looked up in alarm at the last part of the sentence.

"Don't worry, I won't say anything about what happened." Xander reassured him before grinning evilly, "Well, maybe a little bit about Liam." Cackling maniacally Xander made his way to the bedroom and some much needed sleep, leaving Spike to wonder why he always fell for the crazy ones.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Xander didn't wake up until afternoon the next day. He stretched, yawned, cracked joints and then rolled over and caught another twenty minutes worth of sleep before deciding that he must get to the bathroom and kitchen, in that order.

Scratching his chest, bleary eyed and tousled he made his way to the bathroom, used the toilet, noticed it really needed cleaning and wondered if he could pay Spike to do it. That led to thoughts of Spike in a French maid's outfit which led to even more outrageous speculation which led to a return trip to the bedroom for some quick relief and than back to the bathroom and than finally the kitchen.

A vampire shaped lump still occupied his couch as he wandered by; he was a little surprised Spike wasn't up and grumbling for food by now but may be he'd worn himself out last night with all his bitching and moaning. Sheesh! Neurotic much, as Cordy would say.

Xander decided on an omelet with the works. He was busy grating cheese when he heard a faint groan from the living room. He frowned, odd.

"Hey Spike, you awake?"


"Is that a yes 'mrmmmph' or a no 'mrmmmph'?


Huh, that sounded like a very tentative 'Xander'. He quit grating and walked over to the couch. Spike was still covered by the blankets, but there was faint movement.

"You better not be doing something disgusting under there Blondie." Xander tugged on the blankets, but not too hard just in case stuff was going on that would strike him blind or something.

Spike popped out, or at least his head, looking very disheveled and confused and kinda cute but that was neither here nor there.

The vampire blinked, looking up at Xander, squinting slightly. "Oh dear."

Xander blanched, "William?"


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Wesley and Gunn had shared a nice breakfast and the morning paper. They hadn't actually slept together, made out, kissed or held hands and would have been mortified to find out that everyone in Wes' building thought they were the sweetest couple and wasn't it nice how that nice young man came over every weekend to have breakfast with Mr. Wyndham-Pryce. There was also a rather larger betting pool on when Mr. Gunn would be moving in; Mrs. Odesky in 3B was holding out for sometime in the next month and dropped rather broad hints about roommates every time she saw Wes in the hallway. Wes had yet to catch on.

"We should stop by the office before we go to the concert," Wes stated. He and Charles often went to free shows or exhibits on Saturdays.

"Sounds good; should check and see if there's anything left of Angel after Cordy ripped him a new one." Gunn grinned. "Man, you weren't kidding, Angel really would go after anything in a skirt."

"Actually from what I've read in the Watcher's Diaries, it didn't necessarily have to be a skirt. Liam was very, democratic." Wes said carefully before catching Gunn's raised eyebrow and bursting into laughter.

"Yes, well, he was quite the rogue. I confess, I'd always wondered how accurate these old accounts were in the journals but from what we saw last night," he trailed off meaningfully.

"Yeah, a real smooth operator," Gunn agreed. "And what about Spike, man, talk about mousy. I can't believe he turned out to be such a bad ass vampire."

"Yes, William did seem quite repressed but there must have been some spark about him or Angelus would not have allowed him to survive." Wesley looked very thoughtful for a moment. "I do wish we'd had more time to talk to them both; it would have been a fascinating psychological study." Wes sighed regretfully.

"Are you kidding, William may be but Liam?" Gunn shook his head. "Can you imagine trying to run Angel Investigations with him in charge?"

"You may have a", Wes broke off as the phone rang.

"Wyndham-Pryce here. Cordelia how, what, excuse me, say that again?"

"I said you better get yourself over to the hotel right now Mister." Cordy snapped before batting at the hand playing with a lock of her hair.

"Move it or loose it buddy!"

"There's no need to be rude," Wesley huffed.

"Not you Wes, him!" Cordy hissed in exasperation.

"Who?" Wesley heard the sound of a slap and an appreciative male laugh. He closed his eyes and groaned.

"Liam!" Cordy yelled.


Part Two

"You are William, right?" Xander held his breath, hoping this was one of Spike's little jokes, the kind that made the Scoobies want to smack him.

"I'm afraid so," William cast about looking for his duster. Xander found it and pulled out the glasses' case, handing it to the nearsighted demon.

William slipped on the wire rims and smiled apologetically.

Xander dropped into a chair, rubbing his temples before taking a deep breath, "What do you remember?"

"We were at the hotel, you told me I was a vampire," William hesitated briefly and dropped his eyes, "You kissed me and then I went to sleep." William bit at his lip. "I dreamed we argued and something about Anya and relationships." He frowned deeply, "It's all very disjointed."

"That's what happened with Spike!" Xander exclaimed. "So this time you can remember some of Spike's life but the question is, why are you back?"

"I don't know, although it doesn't really feel as if I've been gone, if you see what I mean." William offered wiggling into a sitting position on the couch. He was still cocooned and was having some trouble unwrapping himself from the blankets.

Xander smiled at the vampire fondly and together they managed to free up William's hands. He met Xander's amused gaze with a roll of his eyes and a bashful grin.

"I'm sometimes rather uncoordinated," William, murmured so quietly that Xander almost didn't hear him.

"I didn't notice," Xander shrugged. William raised one eyebrow looking for a split second exactly like Spike and snorted, albeit politely.

"So, I better get Wesley on the phone and see if he knows what happened here." Xander reached over and grabbed the phone, hitting speed dial. "I wonder if this means that Liam's back?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

'Slap!' "What did I say about the hands? The hands don't wander or the hands will be hurt along with the face and the rest of the body." (You jerk was left off the end of the sentence but implicitly understood by both parties.)

"Ah lass, you were definitely much more fun the last time," Liam pouted briefly before returning to his habitual grin, "But I forgive ya."

"Be still my beating heart," Cordy returned flatly. "Where is Wesley!"

"Oh I'm sure he and his paramour will be along soon enough," Liam stretched like big old Tomcat in the sun. Not literally of course, Cordy had to show him what would happen if he wandered into the daylight. Although, she had noted, the effects were not as immediate nor as pronounced, more like a mild sunburn and a reported feeling of ants crawling all over his body. Cordy felt a bit of a rise in body temperature herself with the thought of crawling all over Liam's body running about in her head. She mentally slapped her face and tried to keep on topic.

"Paramour? What's that supposed to mean?" Cordy snapped.

Liam merely smiled. Cordy glared at him wishing she could take him down a peg or two the smug jerk but as she was working up to a really scathing reply she was interrupted.

"Excuse me you, young woman, I would like to speak to the Owner immediately," a short, round apparition in a Donna Karan suit and Hermes scarf announced irritably.

Cordelia Chase took one look, calculated the total cost of the wardrobe with Coach purse and matching shoes at something approaching $1000 and put on her most professional smile meanwhile cursing whoever oversaw such things that they would send Angel Investigations such an obviously rich client at a time like this. Before she came up with a suitably impressive evasion Liam slipped to his feet and stepped forward.

"I am the Owner of Angel Investigations Madam (he pronounced 'Madam' with a decidedly Continental flourish, Cordelia could almost see the woman beginning to thaw). " Liam Ni Chonchuir at your service and you would be?" He leaned forward in the slightest bow, taking the woman's hand with a devilish smile. The woman melted a little more and a tiny smile
appeared just at the corner of her mouth.

"Mrs. Douglas Simpson Hancock, Mr. Ni?" She hesitated over the pronunciation.

Cordy gasped silently, oh my God, this woman sat on the board of virtually every charity in the basin, her first husband had left her as rich as Croseus; her second left her even richer. If they screwed this up they'd never get another decent client in this town again. Cordy cast an accusing look skyward, "What did I ever do to you?'

"Please call me Liam, Mrs. Hancock." She simpered, damn if she didn't, Cordy fumed and tried to regain control of the situation.

"What brings you to Angel Investigations Mrs. Hancock?" Cordy asked politely while trying to maneuver Liam out of the way. This was made almost impossible by the fact that he had yet to let go of Mrs. Hancock's hand and she didn't look like she'd be asking for it back anytime soon either.

"Now Cordelia, let's not pester the poor woman right away with questions. Please come this way to my office and have a seat while Cordelia fixes us a nice of cup of tea. Cordy?" Liam smiled expectantly.

"Milk, no sugar please," Mrs. Hancock murmured without removing her eyes from Liam.

"I'll have a lump or two in mine if you please. I've a bit of a sweet tooth," He confessed with a purr. Mrs. Hancock giggled.

Cordy glared at the retreating pair's back, "Oh I'll give you a lump or two Mister, just you wait!" She stomped into the kitchen in high dudgeon.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


"I should probably tell the rest of the gang as well," Xander tapped his fingers impatiently waiting for Wes to pickup but all he got was the answering machine.

"No, you can't do that," William exclaimed, shaking his head. Xander blinked, huh?

"Why not, Giles knows loads of stuff about spells and Tara and Willow together are like amazing witches plus there's Anya, a nine hundred year old vengeance demon is bound to have picked up some info on reversal spells."

William stared at Xander in complete gob smacked amazement, and the teen belatedly realized what he'd said. Xander winced, "Little too much info too fast, right? So, why don't you want me to tell the gang?"

William nodded slowly before taking a deep breath and reorganizing his thoughts. "Well you told me that I'm, well that is to say Spike, is a dangerous badass was, I believe, the term you used."

Xander agreed, "Yeah, so?"

"Well can you imagine what they would think if they found out that Spike had been me? I mean, Xander, look at me, I hardly strike terror into the hearts of mortals." William laughed self deprecatingly.

Xander stared at the blonde, still semi wrapped in his blankets and tousled and had to agree that terror was not the first emotion he felt looking at him. William caught his gaze and they shared a smile.

"Well okay, you have a point and you're right, Spike would be mortified if the gang laughed at him. He hates it if we don't take him seriously." Xander gave the blonde an uncomfortable look. "We do kinda insult him a lot."

"Well, if he didn't have the chip he would have tried to eat you, socially unacceptable I assure you, so you can be accorded some leeway." William soothed.

"Yeah, I guess we, hey wait a minute, how did you know about the chip?" Xander sat up a little straighter.

William looked confused, "I don't know, I simply did, how odd."

"And come to think of it, are you hungry at all?" Xander watched the blonde closely.

William looked thoughtful and than shook his head, "No, not really. I certainly don't want any blood." He looked distinctly queasy at the thought. 

"How about some eggs instead?" Xander laughed. "And maybe a little blood in your coffee? Don't want you getting sick." William wrinkled his nose but than shrugged his shoulders in agreement.

Xander watched the blonde awkwardly hop into the bathroom in his blanket. He stifled a giggle, William looked like he was involved in a potato sack race. Spike wouldn't be caught dead or un-alive or whatever in such a position. Xander frowned deep in thought before a sunny smile lit his face at the idea of an early morning Spike. The vampire might look more sexily rumpled than cutely tousled but the effect, Xander acknowledged ruefully would be the same; walking sex. Hoo boy, eggs, Xanman, eggs and bacon and hash browns and don't think about it.

William reappeared dressed in the clothes he was wearing the day before, hair neatly combed, face shiny and clean, glasses in place. He didn't look a thing like Spike.

"Look about this not wanting to tell the rest of the gang about you being you, we've got a problem." William unfolded his napkin and placed it neatly in his lap.

"What's that? You think they'll notice?" William asked while carefully cutting his eggs into neat little squares.

"That's a big ten four boss," Xander watched the blonde daintily bite into a strip of bacon.

"Well, what should we do?" William tasted the blood-spiked coffee, raised an eyebrow at the taste before neatly measuring out a precise spoonful of sugar and adding it to the cup.

"First thing after breakfast, I'm gonna try and get a hold of Wes again and then my friend, we're gonna try and teach you how to channel your inner vampire." Xander nodded decisively.

William looked a bit doubtful but Xander thumped him on the arm in friendly camaraderie, "Hey, could be worse, we could be the ones dealing with the return of Liam the Gigolo." The two men burst out laughing. "Ah man, I'd hate to be in their shoes right now, God knows what Hell he's putting them through," Xander finished worriedly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wes and Gunn made their way to the hotel at their best speed. The arrived prepared for the trouble, what they found confirmed their worst fears.

"Don't you worry about a thing Dodi. My team will take care of that nasty old bogie in your wine cellar first thing." Liam was leading an older well-dressed woman to the lobby door as they arrived as Cordy stood by in mute worry. Good Lord, it was worse than they thought.

"Oh Liam, you don't know how much you've set my mind at ease. No one understood how distressing this was until I was able to talk to you. I can't thank you enough." She simpered.

"Ah and we can't have that can we Dodi? A woman such as yourself has far too many responsibilities and not enough help, I'm sure. You just let me and mine take care of this little problem for ya, hmmm?" He brought her hand to his lips, ghosting a kiss along her knuckles.

The men watched in amazement as the obvious society matron giggled like a schoolgirl and swatted the big vampire.

"Oh Liam you're a tease! Now don't forget, I'll be expecting you at five o'clock sharp?" She gave him an airy wave goodbye.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," Liam blew her a kiss as she left before turning to the staring men. "Best be closing those mouths, wouldn't want to let the flies in and I know you've plenty to say my sweet but first." He tutted at Cordelia as he laughed, making his way to the office returning shortly with a bottle of whiskey and four glasses.

"A toast to celebrate."

Cordy could contain herself no longer. "What the Hell was that? Do you know who that was? You could have ruined us in this town Mister! You're not Angel, you aren't our boss, you can't make decisions and as for ordering me around well let me tell you...." Cordy broke off. "What's that?"

Liam had calmly continued pouring the drinks and handing them out to the two still silent men while Cordy shouted. He had now rendered her effectively silent by waving a small piece of paper in the air.

"I believe it's a check, a retainer." Liam sipped at his whiskey and gave a sigh of contentment.

Cordy grabbed the check out of his hand, stared at it dumbly for a moment before dropping into a chair and absently taking the proffered drink and knocking back the entire shot.

She wordlessly handed the check to Wesley and sat shaking her head.

Wes and Gunn stared at the amount on the check, looked at each other and than they too knocked back their shots. Liam looked on in disapproval. "This is sipping whiskey, really gentlemen."

"He got a retainer, he got a retainer," Cordy stared up at Wes and Gunn with an almost teary eyed look in her eyes. "I can't believe it."

"Are you sure we have to fix this?" Cordy asked dabbing at her eyes.

"Cordelia!" Wesley exclaimed.

"I know, I didn't mean it. I don't know what came over me, of course we have to get Angel back." Cordy reached for the check again staring at it with reverence. She stood, "If you'll excuse me, I'll just go and put this somewhere safe." She stopped briefly and gave Liam a look almost of respect, "You're still a schmuck, but I want you to know, I'll never forget

Liam watched her leave, a relaxed grin on his face before turning to Wes and Gunn and asking, "I think I've got a real chance with her now." He propped his feet up on the coffee table and continued sipping his whiskey.

Wes sighed.


Part Three

"First thing ya gotta do is lose the glasses," Xander carefully pulled the wire rims off William who now stood squinting at the youth in front of him.

"I can't see very well," William said worriedly. He was dressed in a pair of Xander's sweat pants and an old t-shirt; the training uniform of a soon to be badass.

"Don't worry about a it, Clint Eastwood made a fortune using that exact same squint, it screams 'don't mess with me or I will kick your butt.' And don't forget you don't need to be perfect, you just need enough of the old razzle dazzle to impress, keep the gang from figuring out Spike has left the building."

Xander too was dressed in sweats and a tee in preparation for William's training. Now, Xander wasn't very good at fighting but he was good at misdirection and had a natural aptitude for acting. He also was a keen observer, a good survival trait for someone Hellmouth born and bred, so he figured he was the perfect choice to teach William how to move like Spike. Actually when he'd sat down and thought about it, he spent a lot of time observing Spike, far more than he was comfortable with, bordering on stalking really. Oh well, on with the show.

"Okay first thing, the walk." Xander waved him forward. William hesitated briefly before striding purposefully across the room a jaunty bounce to his step before turning to peer nearsightedly at the Scoobie.

Xander winced before stepping forward, "No bouncing, Spike doesn't bounce unless he's in the midst of a fight, then he's Tigger on speed but usually, no bouncing." William nodded.

"Spike does the whole alley cat saunter." Xander slunk across the room, William felt his breath hitch; Xander stopped at his recliner, dropping into the chair, draping one arm artistically over the back, one leg propped on the arm, narrowed his eyes and sneered. William felt his heart flutter at the sexy look.

Xander returned hopping to his feet and grinned. "See what I mean, you gotta get in zone. Spike isn't just a person, he's a mindset."

William nodded seriously, "A mindset, yes." Xander clapped him on the shoulder.

"All right soldier, show me what you got!" Xander barked.

William sauntered across the room, did pretty well too until he stumbled over the rug edge and landing face down on the couch.

Xander sighed, "We have our work cut out for us." 

Two hours later Xander held up a hand to call a halt to the proceedings. "We've done incredibly  - okay but I think that our best bet is to stay out of everybody's way."

"I'm sorry Xander," William slumped in a dejected heap on the edge of the couch. "I'm hopeless aren't I?"

Xander plopped down next to the blonde and threw an arm across his shoulder in commiseration. "Naw, really you did okay. I mean, come on, Spike's had a hundred years to get this all down and from a distance," Xander trailed off.

"From a distance I look like a silly twit," William finished for him.

"No you don't and what's that in Spike speak?" Xander admonished.

"A right bloody tosser," William growled in a passable imitation of Spike's accent.

Xander gave him the thumbs up sign. "Just call me Henry Higgins."  William laughed and Xander stared entranced at the crinkled eyes and wide grin.

"I'm going to try Wes and Cordy again then we'll get some pizza and with any luck," the phone rang, interrupting him.


"Xander, where have you been? I've been trying to get hold of Angel or someone in Los Angeles all day. I keep getting that awful answering machine. Finally I decided to try you and imagine my surprise to find you home. Why haven't you and Spike reported in?" Giles stirred his tea furiously.

"Ah well, about that. Why didn't I report in right away?" Xander tapped his chin thoughtfully while throwing a desperate look at William. The vampire blinked like a deer in the headlights.

"Yes?" Giles prompted dryly.

William dashed off a quick note, shoving it in front the stammering youth.

"It's complicated?" Xander questioned reading the note. Giles frowned forbiddingly at the receiver in his hand.

"I see, well why don't you come to the shop and explain it to me, bring Spike. You can also explain why I can't get in touch with anyone from the hotel." Giles said with false bonhomie.

"You want us to come down there and explain?" William's shoulders slumped.

"Is there a problem?" Giles asked ominously.

"No, no problem. We'll be down there real soon, real soon." Xander sighed in defeat.

"Excellent." Giles hung up.

William looked miserable, "Wonderful, now I get to make a complete fool of myself in front of someone Spike admires."

"Spike admires Giles?" Xander stared at the blonde. "How do you know that?"

William frowned in confusion before shrugging. "Actually, I think he, er, really rather likes all of you."

"In the 'tasty snack category' or the 'harass them until they want to stake me' category?" Xander asked with eyebrows raised to his hairline.

"The latter," William smiled.

"Sounds like Spike's coming back bit by bit," Xander ventured hopefully.

"I believe you may be right." William stood with sudden determination, reaching for his duster. "Once more into the breach eh?"

"Hey that's from that movie," Xander grabbed his jacket.

"Er, yes among other things," William gave the Scoobie an odd look.

Xander didn't notice being too busy loading up on stakes, Holy Water and crosses.

"Right, ready?"  Xander headed for the door. William hesitated and Xander came over and gave the vampire a soft peck on the cheek. The blonde's eyes lit up.

"Remember, you are a bad ass vampire, the terror of Sunnydale; demons weep and grown men faint at the mere mention of your name." William couldn't help it he burst out laughing.

"I'll keep it in mind," William snorted, pocketing his glasses. William gave the young man a gentle smile and Xander sighed, now why couldn't Spike act more like William, at least some of the time? And what was going on in L.A., where were Angel and his crew?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"What are we gonna do man?" Gunn asked morosely. He, Wes and Cordy were in a quandary. They had a paying client, the first one in weeks; half up front and a commitment to be at the lady's mansion that evening and they still weren't sure what they'd be up against because Liam hadn't really been paying all that much attention. All he could tell them was that it was some sort of bogie and not to worry.

"Perhaps we should go alone, leave Liam here while we check it out." Wes ventured, Cordy turned and glared.

"We can't do that Wes. 'Dodie'", she said making the quotation marks, "would be very disappointed if we didn't show up with Mr. Lounge Lizard over there." She jerked her thumb towards the blissfully uncaring vampire stretched out on the lobby couch with a drink balanced on his chest.

He and Cordy had all ready wrestled over the bottle with the feisty young woman having apparently easily won hands down. Liam had only laughed and tried to steal a kiss.

"I don't see what the problem is. It's just a little Pelgar demon or two having a bit of fun with the lady of the house. We'll shoo them out the door, pick up the rest of our fee and then go out and celebrate." Liam yawned.

"Wait a moment, how do you know it's a Pelgar demon? How do you know that now? Good Lord," Wes rushed forward grabbing Liam by the shoulders, "Angel, Angel are you in there, can you hear me?" Wesley shouted.

"Are ye daft man, let go and mind the whiskey," Liam brushed irritably at Wes's hands while trying to balance his drink.

Gunn tried to draw his excited friend away. "C'mon Wes, just calm down."

"No don't you see, Angel must be coming back," Wes gave his friend a wild-eyed stare.

"Wes, you're scaring me," Gunn carefully pulled the ex-Watcher away.

"Look you guys need to focus," Cordy slammed her hand on the table to get the mens' attention. "We have a paying client that expects to see us in less than two hours. I'm happy Angel's coming back. I'm happy we know what were up against and hopefully it's not too icky but please, let's get our priorities straight."

"And those would be?" Wesley asked dryly with a raised eyebrow.

"Getting Angel back and getting the cash," Cordy snapped back, "Not necessarily in that order."

"Here, here sounds like a fine plan, who'll drink to it with me?" Liam cheered.

Cordelia rolled her eyes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"And how was Angel Spike?" Xander asked.

"Bloody pouf?" William answered.

"Good, good answer. Another one would have been 'Peaches, broody as usual'" Xander explained. They'd been using the walk to go over Spikism's. Xander was hoping that they could simply get in and out of the shop; also that they would only have Giles and possibly Anya to deal with.

"Shoot!" Xander exclaimed stopping abruptly.

"What is it?" William glanced around worriedly.

"Cigarettes," Xander slapped his forehead. "We forgot to practice smoking."

"Man I can't believe it; smoking and Spike is like ham and cheese, chaos and theory, you can't have one without the other." Xander shook his head is disgust. "Pull one out and we'll give it a try."

William patted through the pockets of the duster before pulling out a pack and the lighter. He lit a cigarette, took a deep drag and bent over hacking. Xander stared at the vampire in confusion while carefully pounding him on the back.

"Why are you coughing, you don't breathe," Xander asked, bent over and still pounding the wildly coughing vampire on the back.

"Oh, right, William gasped, "Sorry."

"It's okay, maybe we can get away with no smoking," Xander said consolingly.

"That's the only thing you're gonna get away with kid," a nasty sounding voice snarled far too close for comfort.

Xander and William slowly lifted their heads to see themselves surrounded by four vamps on the prowl.

"Oh oh," Xander whispered.


Part Four

"Liam, would you hurry up, we're going to be late!" Cordy yelled up the stairs for the third time. Wes, who'd felt a headache developing all day, winced and gave Gunn a pitifully thankful smile when handed aspirin and a glass of water.

"Cordelia, please," Wes admonished, flipping through yet another book on reversal spells. He'd all ready looked up Pelgar demons and confirmed that Liam was correct; they were mischievous demons, relatively harmless unless provoked and they could be induced to leave with a simple dispersal spell, however, the trick was catching them all together since as long as one Pelgar remained the others would simply return. They were very social demons.

"Charles, would you please get up there and find out what's taking him so long?" Cordy asked ignoring Wes.

"Why do I have to go?" Gunn whined.

"Because Wes is busy and I don't think it's a good idea for me to go upstairs and try to get him out of the bedroom do you?" Cordelia's voice had steadily risen during her explanation and ended on a disturbingly high note.

Wes and Gunn winced, both sparing a quick glance for the water glass in case it decided to shatter under the strain.

"She does have a point Charles," Wes tried to smooth the waters. Gunn's head flopped back and he pouted before getting to his feet and stomping up the stairs, grumbling all the way.

Cordy gave a heavy theatrical sigh before beginning to pace interspersed with pointed looks at her watch. Wesley tried to ignore her.

It couldn't have been more than five minutes although Cordy was this close to saying 'to Hell with it' and braving the lion's den herself, when they heard a "Hey man, watch your hands," and a flustered Gunn came down the stairs post haste, a lazily smiling Liam dressed in black slacks and a white silk shirt, ambling along behind.

Wes had jumped to his feet at the cry, "What happened?" Cordy however, had only raised her eyebrows and thrown up her hands. They would never get there at this rate.

"He, he, I, he," Gunn stammered unintelligibly, pointing to the innocently blinking vampire who was making a beeline for the whiskey bottle. He was neatly intercepted by Cordy who swiped the bottle out of harms way, just in time. Liam pouted before throwing her a kiss. Cordy gritted her teeth.

"Charles?" Wes was now alarmed, never having seen his friend this flustered. In fact the mere thought of a flustered Gunn was unnerving in and of itself.

"He put his hand on my ass and not in a 'hey good game' kind of way. I am not that kind of man." Gunn declared righteously.

Wes' mouth dropped open in shock before snapping closed in outrage. He stepped forward smartly, drawing his handkerchief from his pocket before using it to slap Liam across the face.

"You sir, are no gentleman," Wes declared prepared to engage in fisticuffs oh behalf of his friend.

Liam only burst out laughing, "And what would have been your first clue boyo?"

"Boys!" Cordy interrupted pointing to her watch, "Save it for later, time is money, let's go."

She turned a narrow eyed glare at the vampire, "I will be watching you Mister, behave!" She shook her finger at him for emphasis.

He reached out, snagging the digit before drawing it to his mouth and nipping the end, "For you lass, anything." Cordy's eyes glazed briefly before she shook it off and snarled.

"Gunn, you're driving." The gang stalked out no one noticing the red light on the answering machine blinking frantically.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

William glanced at the demonic aspects of the four vampires surrounding them and swallowed hard. He risked a quick glance at a worried Xander and resolved not to let him down. After all from what he'd been told, four vampires were hardly a warm up for Spike.

Xander felt his stomach flip; four vamps, oh man, help?

William straightened, remembering at the last minute to slouch a little. He took a much smaller puff of the cigarette still in his hand, stifling a cough, before sneering, "Wot do you lot want?"

Xander stood tall next to William, stake in hand. "Yeah SPIKE," he emphasized the name loudly, "what to you think these morons want? They'd be idiots to take on SPIKE, WILLIAM THE BLOODY, all on their own. Why SPIKE, would make mincemeat out of them."

The vampires looked unimpressed.

"Right than, who's first?" William put his fists up. Xander stifled a groan and got ready to meet the attack. William apparently had other ideas; he launched himself forward with a wild cry spinning, kicking and punching like a cocker spaniel on speed. Xander stood back and stared along with one of the other vampires. It looked damned impressive the problem was a lot of the punches and kicks weren't connecting but that fact wasn't slowing William down any.

Xander and the vampire standing next to him shared a look. Xander gave a pained smile and shrugged. The vampire lunged, Xander defended and they both hit the dirt rolling and punching. The vampire let out a pained yowl and looked mortally offended when Xander bit him on the arm.

"Hey!" The vampire snarled.

"Pshaw, phthpt, ick!" Xander spit.

"That's it," the vampire lunged for Xander's neck but before he could make and hor d'ouevre out of the plucky Scoobie he went 'phftt' in a shower of dust and Xander found himself never so happy to see the Slayer in all his life.

"Buffy!" Xander crowed as the slender young woman reached downed and pulled him upright with ease.

"Hey Xander, how's it going?" Buffy asked amicably. "Didn't know you guys were back yet. How's the LA gang?" Buffy chatted before stopping with a frown. Xander noted she was watching Spike fight the other three vampires. Xander was ecstatic to see the blonde still in the land of the unliving. He'd managed to completely bewilder the other vamps with his fighting style.

Buffy cocked her head to the side. "What's Spike doing?" She smiled suddenly, "Hey is that the drunken master style of fighting? I saw it on a Jackie Chan movie once." She observed the foursome for a few seconds more, "It doesn't seem very lethal huh?"

"Ah, well, he's toying with them," Xander improvised. William hit the ground, unable to dodge a swift kick to the mid section. "Ah, and the laying on the ground gasping for breath is a clever ploy than?" Buffy looked unconvinced.

"He's just getting his second wind," Xander winced, willing the vampire to get up. The three vamps he'd been fighting started to move forward warily, apparently unsure whether this was a trick or not.

"That would make sense if he needed to breath." Buffy answered observing the blonde sit up and carefully brush off his clothes before attempting to stand. "That's not Spike."

"What do you mean, sure it is." Xander nodded vigorously.

Buffy cocked an eyebrow at the agitated youth and Xander's shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Okay, let me take care of these guys and then you can explain what happened," Buffy sighed moving forward only to be stopped by Xander's hand on her arm.

"You can't Buffy, the guy would be so embarrassed." Xander begged the clearly reluctant Slayer.

Meanwhile William had made it to his feet and managed to stake one of his opponents. Actually the vamp had tripped into a tree limb but nonetheless he was down to two. They did not take the loss of their friend gracefully and William was treated to a succession of nasty rabbit punches to the kidneys. Even Buffy winced and Xander just wanted to tear into them but the
thought of William's face if he were found out to be a fake in the eyes of the Slayer stopped him.

"Oh Xander, please, this is just painful, let me," Buffy gestured at the threesome.

"No Buff, it's a guy thing," Xander interrupted. She rolled her eyes heavenward in supplication.

"Hey Buff, Xander why are we letting Spike get pummeled?" Willow and Tara arrived and Xander groaned, "Great."

"Apparently it's a 'guy thing'," Buffy answered dryly while all three women shared a look.

"Um, that's not actually Spike, at least not completely." Tara ventured.

"Hey sweetie you're right, his aura's all wrong." Willow agreed giving her honey a squeeze.

"Oh hey look see, he managed to set one on fire," Xander said proudly as they jumped out of the way of the flaming vampire stumbling towards them before it went 'poof'.

"I'll give you that, creative lighter usage," Buffy shrugged.

They watched William deliver a rapid flurry of punches to the remaining vampire before it decided that retreat was the better part of valor. Unfortunately it turned and ran right into the stake Xander was still holding in his hand.

"Oh fu...," it managed before disappearing in a cloud of dust.

William weaved drunkenly over to the gang of Scoobies. "Hello," he managed politely before falling over. Xander grabbed him before he hit the ground and with Buffy on one side and Xander on the other they dragged the beaten vamp over to a gravestone, propping him upright.

William smiled wanly before catching Xander's eye and turning it into a scowl. "Right, what are you lot doing 'ere?" He snapped.

Buffy opened her mouth but Xander gave her a pleading look and managed to incorporate Willow and Tara into the look. "Please," he mouthed over the vampire's head.

"Patrol Fangless," Buffy snapped.

"Yeah and we're on the way to the magic shop Spike." Willow said very slowly and clearly as if speaking to a five year old. Xander rubbed at his temples, he felt a headache coming on.

"That was really vicious Spike," Tara added softly.

"Oh do you think so?" William brightened considerably before remembering who he was supposed to be and sneering. "Well, they don't call me William the Bloody for nothing."

Buffy gave them all a 'why me' look before stating, "Riiight. We'll meet you over at the magic shop Xander, Spike."  Tara and Willow waved good-bye and William stood politely as the women left.

"Well, I think that went rather well. I don't believe they suspected a thing?" William held still as Xander carefully cleaned some of the cuts and bruises with his handkerchief and bottled water from the bag.

"You the man," Xander agreed smiling fondly at the happy vampire. William was a sweetie but boy oh boy they definitely needed old Spike back soon.

"I think I see what you mean about being in the 'zone'. I don't think those blighters knew what they were getting into when they attacked us." William bounced. "And you were absolutely brilliant, very calm and collected, simply standing, waiting for that hooligan to impale himself, brilliant."

"Well, when you've been fighting evil as long as I have, you learn a trick of two," Xander answered modestly.

"Yeah right Harris," William answered with a growl and a laugh and a sudden flash of fang.

Xander blinked, "Spike?" Xander searched the other man's eyes.

"Pardon?" William blinked back in confusion.

"Never mind," Xander sighed turning to head towards the shop, missing the smile that flitted across the vampire's face.


Part Five

The gang from Angel Investigations arrived at the mansion with only a minute to spare. They would have been there sooner but there was an argument about who was going to sit next to Liam in the back seat. Gunn was driving and after the incident at the hotel neither Cordy nor Wesley felt particularly safe in the backseat with the vampire. Thus Liam arrived, sprawled
out in the back of the convertible, looking for the entire world like some movie star arriving for the Oscars.

Cordy fumed in mostly silence, as Liam hoped gracefully out of the back, leather duster swinging artistically and strolled up the walk towards the front door as if he owned the place.  It opened on the first knock.

"Liam, thank goodness you've arrived," an obviously distraught Dodie exclaimed answering the door herself.

"There, there Dodie, not to worry, here we are right on time as promised." Liam soothed the older woman, patting her hand consolingly.

"Oh yes, your workers, how nice," Dodie murmured in distraction. She led them into the sitting room, waving Cordy, Wes and Gunn to seats but pulling Liam down next to her on settee.

A pretty young maid appeared, bearing a coffee tray and Cordelia and Wesley exchanged a look of alarm as both saw Liam's eyes light up. Luckily Dodie was otherwise engaged.

"So Dodie, first things first, who might be at home this evening?" Liam slid his eyes away from the young maid's legs.

"Well my husband is out of town but there is Bonnie here, the downstairs maid and Lupe, the upstairs maid. I asked the girls to stay with me tonight until you arrived. My housekeeper quit yesterday after the latest incident and I simply couldn't be left here all alone." She sniffed delicately.

"A fragile little thing like you, I should think not," Liam murmured.

Cordy rolled her eyes. Wesley decided it was time to break in before Cordy completely lost it.

"Mrs. Hancock, perhaps if  you could show us where the latest incident occurred we could get to work." Wesley smiled engagingly.

"Bonnie could show you while Liam stays here with me," Dodie suggested.

"Oh no ma'am I'm afraid we need Liam, he's our boss, we'd be lost without him." And people said Cordy didn't have any acting ability. Wes and Gunn stared at her with newfound respect.

Dodie did not look pleased and Liam bit his lip to keep from laughing. His eyes caught Cordy's and he inclined his head in admiration before turning to Dodie. "She's right I am the boss."

"Well than, I will show you where this happened." She stood regally and Liam gallantly offered his arm.

She led them upstairs to the third floor and a door leading to the attic. "Up there," she whispered.

"Were all the incidents on the upper floor?" Wesley matched her whisper.

"No, there were one or two in the basement and one in the kitchen." She clutched Liam's arm harder.

Wes, Cordy and Gunn all shared a look before turning to Liam communicating strongly that Dodie needed to go. Liam smirked and turned to the frightened woman. "Dodie, I want you to go downstairs and have Bonnie sit with you while we have a look around. Wesley and Gunn can check out the basement, Cordelia the kitchen and I'll take a look up here."

"Alone?" Wesley said in alarm definitely not wanting to let Liam out on his own and thinking that there was still an upstairs maid wandering about.

"Now Boss, you're forgetting our rule about checking out supernatural occurrences alone, safety in numbers." Cordy admonished with a gritted tooth smile. She moved forward smoothly, grasping him by his other arm. She tugged, he stood firm, and she tugged harder. She was about to give him a good swift kick in the shins when there was a loud shriek and a terrified young girl appeared running down the hall.

"In the master bathroom, the bathtub," she babbled hysterically. Liam moved forward to comfort her but Wesley slipped neatly in ahead of him.

"There, there why don't you show us," Wesley soothed.

They all trooped down the hall to the master bedroom, in pink and white frills, through it to the master bath where the sunken tub was filled to the brim with bubbles.

"It's in there," the girl pointed a finger to the tub. "I heard water running and found the tub like this."

The Angel Investigations team, minus Liam who was busy calming a distraught Dodie and Lupe, moved forward cautiously towards the tub.\

Gunn grabbed a large bath towel ready to grab the critter. Cordy had a truncheon in hand. Wes rolled up his sleeves and plunged his arms in searching for anything small, furry and troublesome.

All eyes were focused on Wes and the tub and therefore it came as quite a shock when three more of the creatures rushed Wesley from behind using their combined force and an amazingly sophisticated judo move to shove the ex-Watcher into the water before yelling, "Banzai!" and scattering out the door.

All Hell broke loose. Wes went under, Gunn reached for him and slipped himself sending forth a wall of water and suds that broke over Cordelia leaving her a dripping mess and ruining a half off pair of suede pumps not to mention a fifty dollar haircut.

Liam meanwhile had neatly stepped out of the way protecting both his clothing and his charges from harm. Dodie shrieked in horror while Lupe clung to him like a barnacle. He carefully disengaged the young maid and gently shepherded the two ladies to the door.

"Why don't you take your Mistress downstairs and fix her a nice cup of tea."

"But Liam, what if those creatures are about?" Dodie wailed.

"Not to worry," he pulled a small charm made of silver from his duster pocket and handed it to her. "This will protect you and Lupe there. They won't come anywhere near you." He took the older woman's hands in his, chafing them gently. "Trust me?"

She nodded tremulously looking nothing like the haughty society matron of that afternoon, now she was only a frightened old woman. He coaxed a small smile out of her, wiped a tear from the scared young maid's face and saw them to the door before turning around and watching with raised eyebrows as Wes and Gunn attempted to help each other out of the tub while Cordy dried her hair, all the while cursing creatively under her breath.

He whirled and stalked from the room, evading the water puddle on the floor and walked purposefully down the hallway stopping in front of the door that led to the attack. He cocked his head from side to side listening carefully before a slight smile graced his face and he quietly opened the door and went up the stairs.

The scene that confronted him was one of controlled chaos. There were at least fifteen of the little imps all laughing while the three that attacked Wes were replaying their heroic act to repel the invaders. They froze upon noticing Liam before baring tiny sharp teeth, waving their arms about and growling ferociously. Liam's countenance flickered briefly into his gameface and the little creatures gave a piteous shriek before attempting to scatter.

Liam held his hand up whispering an incantation and the Pelgars found themselves unable to leave the room. They clutched each other wailing pitifully as the vampire stalked closer.

Liam reached into his duster pocket, the Pelgars held their collective breath; he pulled out a very old silver flask opening it carefully. The enticing aroma of aged Scotch wafted into the room, the Pelgars took an appreciative sniff, with one or two peeling away from the group to cautiously approached the towering demon.

Liam poured a shot into the cap/cup of the flask, offering it to the first imp.

"Gentlemen, let's have a talk."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


William and Xander arrived at the shop shortly after the girls. Tara and Willow were whispering in the corner and Buffy was busy testing the balances of several new throwing knives that had arrived.

Anya looked up with a smile until she saw who it was, "Spike and Xander, you're not paying customers. Well don't stand in the doorway, move to the side so that people who wish to make cash transactions can come in." She waved to the back where Willow and Tara were.

William let Xander lead him to the table in back and did his best to stalk across the room. Buffy watched him, her eyebrows inching towards her hairline before shaking her head and going back to flipping knives and trying to decide which one matched more of her outfits.

William did his best to lean back nonchalantly in his chair, pulling out a cigarette. Before he could light it Anya saw him.

"No," she shook her finger at him coming forward and grabbing the cigarette out of his hand. "Bad vampire, no smoking around the expensive and extremely flammable merchandise."

"Oh, I say, I'm..." Xander caught his eye and subtly shook his head although at this point. . .

"Look demon girl, I'll smoke if I like. I'm evil." William declared righteously.

"Giles!" Anya's raised voice cut through the air like a hot knife through butter. Everyone winced, especially William.

Giles' head popped out from the training room, "Do stop that caterwauling please."

"Yeah, use your indoor voice," Xander wisecracked, shrinking back in his seat as she turned and glared at him.

"Spike is attempting to smoke, make him stop," she declared pointing at the vampire who seemed unduly subdued to the Watcher's eyes.

"Spike for perhaps the hundredth time, please refrain from smoking in this establishment." Giles rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"Buffy's tossing knives too," Anya added smugly.

Buffy gasped in outrage, "Hey!"

"Buffy please don't toss sharp objects in the store it frightens the customers; come and sit down." Buffy pouted but set the knives down, passing Anya and sticking her tongue out briefly. Anya opened her mouth but Giles forestalled her with a weary look.

Willow and Tara joined the others at the table and finally Giles turned his attention to the men. "What happened in Los Angeles? Was it the Gem of Amara?"

"Um, well, there was a ring but it wasn't the Ring of Amara because Angel all ready got rid of that so anyway we destroyed it and came home." Xander said in a rush. "That's it, can we go now?" He and William stood quickly but Giles frowned at them severely and pointed to their chairs.

"What ring was it?"

"I don't know."

"What properties did it contain?"

"I don't know."

"Why can't I get in touch with Angel and the rest of the LA team?"

"I don't know."

"Xander you are being less than helpful." Giles turned to William. "Spike?"

William swallowed and pointed to Xander, "What he said."

"Wait a minute, you can't get in touch with anyone in LA?" Buffy turned to Xander and William, hands on hips and said sternly. "Okay guys, out with it."

"Buff!" Xander exclaimed. William sighed.

"I'm sorry Xander but what if something awful has happened? They could be in serious trouble." Xander nodded and gave William a sorrowful look.

"Sorry Spike but you understand right?" Buffy asked uncomfortably.

Tara reached forward and patted the blonde's arm.

"Would someone please explain?" Giles asked in agitation.

"Well see Giles, it's like this." And Xander went on to explain the past almost two days, trying his best to spare William or actually Spike's feelings and/or reputation as much as possible.

Giles listened, asked one or two pertinent questions, wiped his glasses once but let Xander finish his tale more or less uninterrupted.

"Oh dear," was his only comment as the young man finished his story.

"Wow," the girls said together even Anya.

"Angel's hitting on anything that moves," Buffy said for the second time.

"Oh, oh!" Willow suddenly exclaimed, "The curse, what about the curse?"

"Oh no Willow's right what if he manages to sleep with someone. I mean it sounds like that's his main goal in life right now." Buffy said dryly.

"I don't believe the curse will be a problem because of the spell." Giles stated. "As Xander has told us, Spike here is much less of a vampire and more of a man. I believe the same is true of Angel. His soul is still intact."

"So he could be out there sleeping his way through greater Los Angeles even as we speak? Wonderful." Buffy said.

"Yes well, it's possible that Wesley and Cordelia have that aspect of his personality under control." Giles said uncomfortably.

"Yes, as Giles said, the reason you may have been unable to contact them is that they are keeping him occupied by having wild sex and numerous orgasms. I'm sure there's nothing to worry about." Anya added.

"I most certainly did not say that, did I?" Giles looked to the witches for confirmation. Tara and Willow shrugged .

Buffy turned to the ex-demon, "Thanks Anya, I feel so much better now."

Anya smiled, "You're welcome."

"Um did anyone think to try his cell phone?" Tara ventured shyly.

"I'm sure Giles did, right Giles?" Willow asked.

Giles started to clean his glasses.

Buffy held up her hand and Willow tossed her cell phone to the Slayer. Buffy hit speed dial and waited. She heard a click.

"Hello? Angel?"


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Liam had locked the door to the attic and was busy ignoring Cordy, Wes and Gunn calling for him. He and the Pelgars were toasting each other over a fine business arrangement when the cell phone in his pocket beeped at him.

He glanced at the screen id and smiled. "Excuse me for a moment gentlemen."

"I was wondering when Sunnydale would call."


Part Six

"Is that you Angel?" Buffy asked hesitantly.

"More or less, lass. And how's my favorite blond beauty eh?" Liam pulled another flask from his pocket and took a sip.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Xander and William and the rest of the gang eavesdropped shamelessly. Xander turned to William with a smirk. "You just watch this, Buffy'll have him in line in no time." William raised an eyebrow in polite disbelief; Xander frowned suspiciously, giving the vampire a hard look, which William returned innocently enough. Meanwhile, Buffy phone in hand had jumped to the top of the counter and was snapping off questions in her best Slayer tone of voice. At least that's how it started but as the conversation lengthened Buffy's voice dropped lower and her hand started twisting and playing with her hair.

Xander watched with growing horror as one of the most feared Slayer's of all time began to swing her feet unconsciously before - giggling. Xander saw Giles wince and heard a soft snicker from William. Willow moved closer to Tara, grasping her hand tightly, eyes wide with fear; even Anya felt a chill ghost across her skin.

"No. I don't know. Like I would." Buffy sing-songed in an almost instinctive reversal to her teenage years: it was when she uttered the dreaded 'oh my gawd' that Giles took mercy on them all and stepped in to remove the phone from her hand.

"To whom am I speaking?" Giles rapped out.

"Rupert lad, and how are you this fine evening?" Angel drawled, keeping one eye on his drinking companions who were busy chitterling and laughing at each other's antics as the whiskey took effect.

"Liam I presume," Giles answered in his frostiest tones. "Where is Wesley or Cordelia? What have you done to them?"

Angel cocked his head to the side; Cordelia, Wes and Gunn had found him at last. They were pounding on the attic door and he winced, as Cordelia demanded, rather stridently, that he 'open this door immediately, dammit!'

He laughed softly; she was a handful all right. He refocused his attention on Giles.

"I've not done a thing to them. As we speak the lovely Miss Chase is down stairs cursing my lineage and trying to convince the boys to break poor Dodie's door down."

"Why? What have you done?" Giles asked in alarm. "Not a thing man, I've simply solved the case is all, right boys?" Liam lifted his flask in a toast to the only two Pelgar demons that remained standing in the room, the rest have fallen prey to the demon drink. Ah well, Pelgars never could hold their liquor, thought Liam with a smile.

"Don't worry Giles, it's all under control." There was a crack as the attic door was forced.

"Oh my God! Gunn you busted it!"

"Excuse me but who said to break the door down because Lord only knows what kind of trouble he's getting into up there?"

"We could have simply removed the hinges."

"What's going on up there?"

"Nothing Ma'am, nothing to worry about."

"The demons are simply being somewhat recalcitrant but we have the situation well in hand." Liam was laughing so hard he nearly fell off his seat. The last Pelgar left standing managed to stagger to the deeply amused vampire's side. Liam reached over and steadied the little demon before offering him a last sip from his flask.

"They're a grand group of friends aren't they?" Liam smiled fondly ignoring Giles demands for information. The Pelgar gave a hiccup in the affirmative before passing out peacefully on the floor.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Giles fumed helplessly at the phone in his hand; infuriating creature. Something was obviously going on and, good Lord, now Liam was laughing. This couldn't possibly be a good sign. Xander paced restlessly back and forth behind William.

Buffy pouted. Willow and Tara tried to appear busy, flipping through spell books and Anya kept a wary eye on everyone while surreptitiously trying to guard the cash register.

William watched it all with a gleam in his eye. He'd overheard a great deal of Giles and Liam's conversation and while he was somewhat worried for Miss Chase's virtue, there was also a small part of him that envied the lout. He was obviously having a
much better time than William. Although, William glanced back at the agitated brunette behind him, he did have Xander.

Why hadn't he made a move on the gorgeous young man?

Well, whatever his reasons, they couldn't have been too important or he would have remembered them, yes? "Giles, what the heck is going on? Look, do we need to go down there and kick some Liam ass because I'm right there and all for it." Xander slammed a fist into his palm.

William smiled his approval. "Indeed, let us sally forth and give the lout a thorough drubbing."

"Sally forth?" Buffy appealed to the room in general. "What does that mean? Does anyone know what that means?" She threw up her hands in irritation before hoping off the counter and stalking towards the blonde.

"Now Buff," Xander said pleadingly stepping in front of the vampire.

"There will be no sallying of any kind by anybody and no kicking of behinds." She nodded decisively. "That's my job; there are rules, right Giles?"

Giles gave a distracted nod, "Yes of course, rules." He was still trying to get Liam's attention on the phone. He could hear faint arguing and Liam stating that 'no he would not go down stairs and try to clear the splintered wooden door out of the way because he was a vampire, remember?'

William peered around the Xander shaped shield standing in front of him, "I meant no offense but you've never met Liam. He's quite, quite." William floundered under the scowling glare of the Slayer. "Free spirited?" Tara provided hesitantly. Xander pointed at the shy young witch. "What she said, in spades."

Buffy growled and backed off. "Well I thought he was kind of sweet." She muttered to no one in particular. William, Xander and Giles all shared a look.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cordy, Gunn and Wes finally cleared the wreckage of the split door and managed to get inside. Wes' loafers were ruined and insisted on making squishy noises as he stalked up the stairs, completely destroying his image of a man in charge, at least in his opinion. Gunn was picking bits of wood out of various places on his person, not the least bit happy about it and making sure everyone knew it. Cordelia's haircut was ruined, her silk top was ruined, her shoes were ruined and somebody was going
to pay. It was therefore, a very irate group of people that stalked upstairs to confront their 'friend' and found themselves facing instead a roomful of snoring Pelgar demons and a vampire who silenced them with a finger to his lips and a motion to follow him back down the stairs.

"How did you manage?" Wes began.

"What the heck?" Gunn started.

Cordy merely stared.

Liam gave them all a gentle smile. "They'll be asleep for hours. I told them that we'd move them to someplace more suitable and they've agreed." "They've agreed?" Wes and Gunn asked in unison. "Aye. Here Wes," Liam tossed him the phone. "I think you'd best calm Giles down. He seems a bit tense." Liam winked at Cordy and sauntered gracefully down the stairs.

Cordy watched the vampire's retreating back with narrowed eyes. She took one last look at the Pelgar and followed Liam from the room, leaving Wes and Gunn to straighten things out.

"Hey Liam!" She called.

He turned politely, "Yes Cordelia, my love?"

"He's coming back, isn't he?" Cordy tipped her head back to look into his eyes.

"Will you miss me love?" Liam answered instead.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * *

Xander dropped into one of the chairs next to William, while Wesley, who apparently had resurfaced, was filling in Giles. "Man, that Liam. I never thought I'd say this but I want Angel back." Xander grimaced.  "You're not fond of Angel either?" William asked quietly.

"You mean Mr. Big Good Looking Hunk who can pull out the charm whenever he needs to? No, I'm not." Xander grumbled. "Although, I always thought the charm came from the vampire but I guess not."

"Some men are simply charming and the ladies flock to them." William tried very hard not to sound bitter.

"Oh yeah, even when they're clueless, they still manage to look good." Xander agreed glumly. "I'll bet no one ever calls them Donut Boy."

"Or makes fun of their writing."

"Or pushes them around."

"Or thinks they're beneath them."

Xander heard the hitch in the blonde's voice and glanced at his down turned head. He reached out and threw a companionable arm around his shoulder. "Hey, remember what I told you. You're the Big Bad and nobody thinks you're beneath them. Hell, we're all terrified that one of these days you're going to get that chip out and murder us all in our beds, right ladies?"

The girls all nodded enthusiastically, even Buffy looked up from her magazine and gave the blonde a thumb's up sign. Giles just looked disturbed and tried to ignore the entire conversation while he and Wesley discussed the best place to relocate the Pelgar clan.

William looked slightly queasy but gave the Scoobies a grateful smile. "Ah well, thank you, I suppose."

"Don't mention it." Xander patted him consolingly.

"Xander?" William began. "Will you miss me when I'm gone?"

"Yeah, I will." Xander said simply. "We all will."

William bowed his head and Xander reached out and tipped the vampire's face up. "But you know what? I think there's way more of you in Spike than he wants us to know about just like there's a lot of Liam in Angel."

William smiled wryly.

"Maybe both of you will realize after all this is over that you don't have to be afraid of letting us see that part of you, every once and a while, anyway."

"How did he get so lucky as to find all of you?" William asked looking deeply into Xander's eyes.

"Is it evil to hope that he remembers every part of this conversation?" Xander waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

William burst out laughing. "Yes and I do believe he'd be proud of you for it." Without thinking the blonde bent over and placed a gentle kiss on Xander's lips.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In answer to Liam's question, Cordy drew the dark haired vampire's head down and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.
Angel blinked and found his arms full of a slightly damp Cordelia Chase. He wondered briefly why he had an armful of Cordy but then decided it was a daft question and could be saved for later, thus proving he was nowhere near as dense as his wayward grandchilde thought he was.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Spike blinked and found himself kissing Xander Harris in front of God and everybody. He briefly compared it to his last memory of kissing Xander and decided that his was much better than last time and if the girls wanted to watch, well, he'd show them how it should be done.

Xander, caught in the throes of one of the best kisses of his life, couldn't have cared less about the motivations involved.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wes hung up the phone, satisfied that they had located the perfect home for the Pelgars.

"Well, a quick transportation spell and we can still make it home in time for the last half of the Doctor Who Marathon."

"I'll order the pizza, you get the beer." Gunn swung his axe up to his shoulder. "You need to get a sofa bed, man."

"There's a sale on this weekend."

"Maybe a matching chair too, you know, to sort of draw the room together."

"A nice coat of paint," Wesley added.

"A plant...."

"Perhaps a few throw pillows as well....."

The End