A Bumpy Christmas by Slaymesoftly
Two by Slaymesoftly
Chapter Two

It had probably been too much to hope that Wolfram and Hart would remain ignorant of Spike’s return forever. Even though, in the interest of keeping the secret, he no longer used the last name of Pratt, instead, taking on Buffy’s last name. He was introduced to the townspeople as Buffy’s husband who had been feared lost in the Amazon jungle, but who had stumbled out into civilization after several months of being out of touch.

The fact that he had the speed and strength of a slayer was something that they had decided should be kept as quiet as possible. They hadn’t even shared it with the other slayers, although some of them seemed suspicious when the instructors sparred with him and had just as much difficulty as they’d had when he was a ghost. Buffy passed it off as being the result of Spike’s hundred plus years of experience and told them to think of it as an incentive to practice hard until they, too, were that fast and inventive.

However, there had been no hiding from those who’d met him, the fact that the man now living with Buffy was the reincarnation of her former vampire/ghost boyfriend, and they finally gave up trying. Everyone was cautioned to be careful where and when they mentioned Spike, but it was inevitable that someone would slip up at some point, or that someone in town would recognize the former ghost.

Suspicion fell first, of course, upon the solicitor who had come looking for the ghost, and Giles and Spike wasted no time in terrifying the man and his family by dragging him out of bed and threatening to rip his arms off. It only took Spike demonstrating a bit of his true strength when pinning the man’s arms back, for him to admit that he had contacted Wolfram and Hart after seeing Spike walking through town with Buffy. Tears in his eyes, he insisted that he had only told them that the man now living in the house looked somewhat like the ghost. Except for an envelope containing his reward for the information, he had heard nothing else from them.

When Spike worried aloud whether or not they should kill the man to prevent his calling the police, Giles did his best Ripper imitation and said, “That’s not going to happen, is it Mr. Smith? Because the consequences would be so much more…disturbing… for you and your family than any satisfaction you might gain from such a foolish act.”

Gibbering incoherently, the man assured them that he had no intention of involving any authorities in whatever little misunderstanding they may have had. Nodding his approval, Giles tugged a still-glaring Spike away from Smith, smiling to himself when the man slid down the wall and began sobbing with relief.

Spike walked in silence for a few minutes, but couldn’t prevent the approving smile on his face. Eventually Giles noticed it and said, “What?”

“Nothing. Jus’… you’d have made one hell of a vampire. Bet you could have given old Angelus a run for his money.” He spoke almost wistfully, causing Giles to halt.

“You sound almost like you miss it,” he said slowly. “You wouldn’t go back, would you?”

“Bloody hell, no! Of course not. Wouldn’t do that to Buffy even if it was something I wanted. But I don’t. I’m more than happy to spend the rest of my life watching my children grow and gettin’ old with their mother...”

His face darkened as he remembered the reason for their late-night visit, and he subsided into colorful muttered swearing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By ten o’clock the following morning, both men were bleary-eyed, but satisfied with the little progress that had been made so far. The Council’s low-level spy at Wolfram & Hart seemed fairly certain that Buffy was not being held anywhere in the main office areas. As the mail delivery “girl”, she had opportunity to visit every area of the facility and she’d seen nothing suspicious. She did say that she had only ever been allowed into the front office area of the magic department’s labs; not uncommon for the more secret areas of the firm, and not someplace she actually wanted to go anyway. It was impossible for her to investigate there any further without arousing suspicion.

“By no means should you compromise your job or your own safety,” Giles assured her. “Knowing where Buffy isn’t, is almost as helpful as knowing where she is.”

He hung up and leaned back in his chair, eyes shut briefly.

“Brave woman,” Spike said after a while. “Working in the belly of the beast like that.”

Giles shrugged. “An organization of that size takes a lot of manpower to run. They are no smarter than most people when it comes to paying attention to their underlings. If the job is menial enough, the employee is almost invisible.”

“Still – if she knows what they’re capable of…”

“Lilly is a potential slayer who had aged out of the window before Willow activated all the younger potentials. She was already aware of Wolfram and Hart because of her watcher’s teachings, and she took the job several years ago on her own. Her watcher contacted us and suggested we ask if she would be willing to be our eyes and ears inside. She agreed immediately and has been quite helpful upon occasion.”

He opened his eyes and spoke quickly to forestall Spike’s next question.

“Had Buffy not gone running off to London without telling me, it’s possible we could have learned some of your circumstances without her having to risk the visit – although, no doubt the magic department’s urge to gloat allowed her to learn much more than Lilly would have been able to.”

“So now what?” Spike’s quiet question was belied by the impatient pacing he had begun, striding from one side of the room to the other while his hands rhythmically clenched into frustrated fists.

“Willow and Emma will be here shortly. They’ll do their best to pinpoint Buffy’s location – whether it’s inside the Wolfram and Hart facility, or somewhere else.” He looked up, his face tired and worried. “I think we have to assume, that wherever they’re keeping her will be heavily warded. It is entirely possible that we will not be able to locate her magically.”

“Then we take that place apart, brick by brick,” Spike said with as close to a real snarl as a human voice was capable.

“And we will, if necessary,” the older man soothed. “However, they do have Buffy as a hostage. We cannot simply show up demanding her return. We will need to locate her and form a plan.”

“Kill every wanker in the place. That’s my plan.”

“And a fine one it is, I’m sure,” Giles said with a wry smile. “But---“

With a heavy sigh, Spike fell into the chair opposite Giles and dropped his head against the back.

“I know, Rupert. I’m just blowing off steam. Never have been good at waitin’, and with Buffy’s life at stake…”

“I doubt they will kill her if they don’t need to. Imagine how much worse for you it will be knowing that your…Buffy and child are in their hands.” He ignored Spike’s sardonic eyebrow at the Watcher’s unwillingness to refer to Buffy as his wife – something everyone else had easily fallen into. “They have to know that killing her would only bring instant retribution which could result in your death. Keeping her and the child from you would provide more long-term punishment. If they can keep them hidden well enough, they could drag it out for years. Keeping Buffy too drugged and helpless to be dangerous, or holding the child’s safety over her head to obtain her cooperation.”

Spike raised his head and stared hard at the head of the new Watchers’ Council.

“Should I be appalled that you seem to think like them?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The locater spell that Willow and Emma had tried several times during the course of the day produced the expected lack of results.

“I’m sorry, Spike,” Willow said softly, resting her hand on the head he was holding with both hands. “We’ll keep trying. The wards only have to be down for a minute or two for us to find her. We just have to hope that we can catch them at the right time.”

“’s alright, Red. Know you’re giving it your best. Jus’ keep trying, yeah?”

Willow nodded and followed Emma out of the room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The video-tape came almost two weeks later. Two weeks of the witches trying every spell they knew to help them find Buffy, weeks in which Lilly risked her life more than once attempting to get information about parts of the building in which she normally expressed no interest. The tape showed up shortly before Xander and Faith made a surprise appearance at the complex. They walked into the library just in time to watch the first viewing, waiting inconspicuously in the back.

Spike’s hands were clenched around the back of a heavy oak chair. The tape opened with a shot of Buffy throwing off a woman in medical scrubs, only to freeze with her hands protectively around her belly when a man stepped up and placed a taser against the stretched out cloth covering it. The chair back made a loud cracking sound as it snapped in half.

The video was short and the area visible was limited to Buffy, a hospital type bed, and a very plain white room. There was no way to tell where it was, or even what time of day it had been taken. There was only Buffy’s frustrated and frightened face as she submitted to various tests of her blood, heart, and an sonogram of her large abdomen. When the medical staff was finished, the man grinned maliciously as he pretended to taser Buffy’s belly. She cringed away, whimpering and doing her best to cover her unborn baby with her hands.

“Season’s Greetings, Mr. Summers” came a disembodied voice from behind the camera. Several cartoon reindeer danced across the screen as Buffy retreated to her bed, her best slayer glare compromised by the way she was visibly trying to protect her stomach.

The chair surprised no one when it flew the length of the room and slammed into the equally heavy oak wall. For minutes, the only sound was Spike’s loud breathing as he struggled to control the rage flowing through his body. A quick glance around the room would have shown similar, if less intense expressions on the faces of almost everyone present. Emma’s showed only the deepest sympathy, but it took her calming hand on Willow’s arm to push back the threatening darkness in the other woman’s eyes.

Faith’s voice broke into the silence.

“So, who do we have to kill and where do we find them?”

Giles glanced up sharply, his surprise clear.

“I thought you two were busy putting down a demon insurrection?”

“Turns out it was meant as a distraction. The baby slayers are handling it just fine. If the law firm from hell didn’t want me here, then I figure this is where I – we – need to be.”

She walked up to Spike, whom she hadn’t seen since she shouted at Buffy to get out of the crumbling hellmouth.

“You just don’t know how to stay dead, do you, blondie?”

“Tried it,” he replied shortly. “Didn’t fancy it.”

She nodded and stepped aside while Xander moved closer and held out his hand.

“Welcome back, Spike,” he said. “We’re going to find her.”

His sincerity seemed real, and Spike took the offered hand with a grateful nod. “Thank you,” he said, gripping the other man’s powerful, calloused hand. After a moment of petty indulging in the age-old test of male supremacy, Xander flinched first, giving Spike a suspicious glare as he acknowledged defeat.

“Not too many men who can outshake me,” Xander said quietly. “I’ve got a feeling I wouldn’t want to be working for Wolfram and Hart right about now.”

Spike gave him a tight grin that was uncomfortably reminiscent of his earlier evil days and nodded. “That you wouldn’t, Harris.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I can’t bloody stand this any longer! I’ve got a baby due in less than a week and I still don’t know where my wife is, or even if she’s still alive. I’m leavin’ for London, and I’m leavin’ now.”

Spike stood up and strode out of the room, ignoring Giles’ thundered, “Do you think we’re happy about it? You’re playing into their hands.”

Showing his hearing was still close to vampire-sharp, Spike whirled and came back into the room.

“Sitting here on my bloody hands while they laugh about it is playing into their hands. I’m not waiting around to see what the next video shows. That’s what they want, isn’t it? For me to suffer? Well, it’s working. I’ve bloody well suffered long enough. I’m going to go get my family. Who’s with me?”

Faith was beside him before he finished speaking.

“It’s about damn time,” she said, bouncing on her toes. “I didn’t come all the way here to have meetings.”

Xander joined them at the door, followed quickly by Willow, who gave Emma an apologetic smile as she got up. With a resigned sigh, Giles nodded and stood up also.

“All right,” he agreed. “We’ll take the school’s bus, and however many slayers want to volunteer.”

He looked at Emma.

“You’ll keep trying?” he asked urgently. “And call us if you get anything? Anything at all. Telling us you know where she isn’t could be as valuable as telling us where she is.”

“I will,” Emma responded immediately “I’ll get some of the more advanced students to help me and we’ll keep it going around the clock until we come up with something.”

While Spike, Xander and Faith went to assess the weapons and load up the bus’s baggage area, Willow went down to the slayer school and interrupted the demonology class that most of the girls were dozing through.

“Who’s looking for a little action?” she asked, looking at the instructors rather than the students. She was taken back when every hand in the room went up.

“Are we going to rescue Buffy?” asked Julie. She had long since passed her exams and graduated, but had remained on as an instructor and cheerleader for the girls who lacked confidence. She still felt warm when she remembered Spike’s “you’ll do, Slayer” at her graduation ceremony.

“Yes,” Willow said simply. “We’re going to find Buffy. But you can’t all go. Somebody has to stay here in case we need reinforcements or more equipment. I’ll let the instructors decide who goes and who stays.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The bus was loaded and almost full when Emma came running out of the building, waving a map and shouting frantically for them to wait. Willow ran up to her, Spike and Giles right behind.

“I’m so glad I caught you,” Emma gasped. “I can’t tell you exactly – the wards didn’t stay down long enough – but I can tell you the general area.” She pointed to a red circle drawn around the area of London in which Wolfram and Hart had their main United Kingdom headquarters.

“That’s it,” Spike said grimly. “They’ve got her there somewhere.”

Giles frowned. “Lilly has been all over that building – she hasn’t…just a minute.” He went off to a quiet space near the bus and hit a button on his phone. He listened carefully, nodded, asked a short question and then slammed the phone shut and walked back to the curious group watching him.

“I think we’ve got it. Lilly says there is an outlying building – she thinks it’s reached by an underground tunnel for the comfort of their clients -- which is supposed to be empty as it undergoes renovations to make it more modern. However, it seems to be more heavily warded against intruders than is the main office complex.” He turned to Willow. “I’m assuming you can ascertain Buffy’s whereabouts once we get there?”

Willow put on her “resolve face”. “If we can get close enough, I should be able to find her with or without knowing more about where she is. The cloaking spell can’t be that strong.”

They were all reminded that the slender redhead facing them had come very close to ending the world at one time, and had completely changed a very ancient spell tying the Slayer essence to one girl into something entirely different. With a nod of agreement, Giles suggested they get one the bus and begin the journey.

With a renewed sense of purpose, they finished boarding the bus and set off, determination clear on every face. Willow glanced over her shoulder at Spike and Faith, and the slayers behind them; all wearing identical flinty expressions.

“If I wasn’t so mad at them, I might almost feel sorry for Wolfram and Hart,” she whispered to Xander. “That’s a scary bunch of people back there…”

“Yeah, it is,” he agreed quietly. “What’s even scarier is that I live with one of them!”

“I heard that,” Faith said, throwing a paper cup at the back of his head. He grinned and blew her a kiss, then settled in for the ride.


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