Last completed chapter.
As soon as Jeannie and Faith stepped outside, the portal opened, proving that those on the other side were monitoring it closely. They waved and stepped through. Buffy watched it wink out behind them, feeling Spike just at her back.
“We’ve got this,” she said without turning to look at him.
“Never doubted you would, love. Just didn’t have any way to let you know we needed you.” He slid his arms around her waist and pulled her back against his chest, nuzzling her ear as he did so. “Have I mentioned how much I love you?”
“Not lately,” she muttered, leaning into him despite her tone, and tilting her head so he could run his lips down her neck.
“I should probably remedy that,” he murmured. “Find some way to remind you….”
Buffy enjoyed his attentions for a few minutes, then sighed and stood up straighter. “You should. But not now. We need to decided when we’re going, who’s coming with us.” She turned her head to meet his disappointed gaze. “It’s just going to have to wait till we’re out of here. Or at least in control of the city.”
He released her after giving a light squeeze and nodded his agreement.
“Do you think we can trust that sorcerer guy?”
Spike frowned. “Don’t really know him. He and Angel have a history of some sort, but it was before my time here. I think he’s genuinely worried about Selene. That may be enough to keep him on our side long enough to get the job done.”
“I hope so. I don’t want to go into this thinking I need to watch my back.”
“I’m watching your back, Slayer. Just like always.”
She smiled and him and patted his cheek. “I know that. But you might not see him coming either if you think he’s on our side.”
“Let’s get inside and make sure everything’s under control in there.”
With nothing left to do but check weapons and wait for Faith and Jeannie to come back to tell them when the outside help would be ready to go, everybody wandered around looking for something to do to counteract the nervous energy. Angel and Anteres were in deep conversation, with occasional glances at Selene and her friends. Angel finally nodded and they shook hands in reluctant fashion. Angel’s flash of fangs at the end of the handshake make the sorcerer roll his eyes and shake his head in disgust.
“Looks like Angel added an extra something to that agreement,” Buffy said as they watched from the doorway.
“I told him that git isn’t going to do anything to risk his little red-headed sweetheart. Now, what happens after she’s all safe and what-not, that’s between them. Maybe she’ll tame him, maybe Angelus will have to send him back into hiding. But I think he’s safe enough to be around for now.”
“Do you want to go somewhere and spar?” Buffy asked abruptly.
“Wouldn’t be my first choice for working off the tension, but it could be my second,” he said with a sigh.
“The first choice might be more fun, but it would be embarrassing to get caught at it,” Buffy said, elbowing him in the ribs.
“My room has a lock on the door… I think.”
“Spike! I’m the leader. I can’t go sneaking off for a quickie just before a battle!”
“Wasn’t plannin’ on a quickie,” he grumbled, “but point taken, love. There’s a sparring area in what used to be a ballroom.”
“Let’s go, then.”
Buffy wasn’t really surprised to find two of the slayers also making use of the converted ballroom to work out and do some sparring. She watched them for a while, a smile on her face.
“They’re good, aren’t they?”
“Got the best for a teacher,” he agreed.
“I’m sure you were referring to me.” Faith’s laughter preceded her into the room.
Spike snorted. “Do I look stupid to you?”
“I probably shouldn’t answer that,” she said, still laughing. She turned to watch the two young slayers and nodded. “They are good. They’re probably ready to have their own squads when we get finished here.”
“I think so,” Buffy agreed, then straightened up from where she’d been leaning against the wall. “You’re back, so does that mean we’re ready to go?”
“Pretty much.” Faith gestured to the girls who had stopped working out and were looking their way. “They need about an hour to get all the slayers in position and the spell cranked up.”
“Okay then. Let’s go find this focus thingie and turn it into an empty space.”
True to his word, Anteres accompanied them to the Wolfram and Hart building and explained where he expected to find the focus of the spell. When they asked him how he knew, he shrugged.
“It was in my best interest to know where it was. It’s not like they were going to let me in there to do anything about it, but I needed to be sure I didn’t accidentally get too close to it and make somebody suspicious.” He met Buffy’s gaze firmly. “I’m almost as dishonest as the do-gooder over there thinks I am, but this is my home. It’s where the people I care about live. I don’t have it in me to betray or even refuse to help the people who are going to make it better. If I’d been able to do it myself, I’d have broken than barrier weeks ago.”
Buffy nodded at him. “We’re trusting you. If you’re lying…. might be a race to see who gets to you first.” She waved her hand around, encompassing Angel, Spike, Faith and herself.
“I’m well aware,” he said with a sigh. “Alright, here’s what I can do. I can throw glamors over the whole group. They won’t be perfect, but they should be good enough to get you into the building and to the sub-basement—”
“If we go in through the garage, we’re already half-way there,” Spike said. Anteres looked at him in surprise.
“You know the sub-basement?”
“Much better than I care to,” Spike said without explanation.
“Okay then. That’s a help. And yes, the garage would be the best way in. I’m not sure I can make the glamor hold long enough to get all the way through the lobby and into the elevators.”
“Garage it is.”
Spike led the way around the building to the garage entrance where there were a couple of vampires lounging near the opening. They peered at the guards from behind a big truck parked on the street.
“Glamors or stakes?”
“We don’t want them to have time to raise an alarm… but I don’t want to waste the magic….”
“Got it, pet. Be right back.”
Spike swaggered up to the entrance, lighting a cigarette as he approached. The guards stood up, but didn’t seem perturbed.
“You can’t come in here,” one of them said.
“Are you sure? I used to work here. Know my way around pretty good. What can it hurt?”
“Weren’t you paying attention?” The other guard began to growl as Spike continued to stroll toward them. “Get lost.”
Spike flicked his cigarette in the vampire’s face, and while that guard was batting at the sparks, he took the other one down with a leg sweep and staked him as he fell. By the time the first guard had figured out he wasn’t on fire, Spike was already pushing him toward Buffy who took his head off with her scythe.
Taking a quick look to ensure those were the only guards, he waved everybody else in and they ran toward the door into the building. Ignoring the elevators, they took the fire stairs down until they could go no further.
“Here we are. The bottom layer of hell.”
“Hell?” Faith raised an eyebrow at him.
“Close enough,” Spike said through tightly clenched teeth. “Close as I ever want to come.”
“Sounds like there’s a story there….” To Buffy’s surprise, it was Angel who shook his head at them.
“You don’t want to hear it,” he said.
Spike ignored them while Buffy and Faith exchanged puzzled looks. Filing it away as something to ask Spike about later, Buffy waved them all through as she held the door open to a dark and dank hallway that did not look like it belonged in the very modern skyscraper above it.
When they were inside, Anteres began to chant as he raised his arms over them. One by one, they each began to resemble demons of one sort or another. Except for Spike and Angel, who went into game face without even thinking about it.
“What are we looking for?” Sam whispered.
“We’ll know it when we find it. Look for guards, locked rooms, things like that. When you think you might have it, beep everybody else. Don’t try to be a hero by yourself.”
With a nod, the slayers broke up into pairs and began exploring the corridors leading off the main hall. Buffy and Spike went their own way, leaving Angel and Faith and Anteres together.
“Do you know your way around here?” Anteres asked. Angel shook his head.
“Not like Spike does. I only know how to get to the cell area – and that from the elevators.”
It was Buffy who first spotted the vampire guard sitting on the floor in front of a door that looked just like the others. Knowing he would be able to hear them whispering, she tugged Spike’s arm and they retreated out of vampire hearing distance.
“What do you think?” Buffy whispered.
“He’s not sitting there for the fun of it. And I doubt there’s anybody left in those cells. Probably all released when the demons took over.”
Buffy touched her communicator and sent a locations signal to the others. In a very short period of time, they were all quietly gathering in a side corridor.
“Are we still all disguised?”
Buffy looked around and sighed as she saw the glamors flickering. “Sort of?” She glanced at Anteres. “Can you give them a little boost?”
“I’ll try. But you need to be quick. Get the guard to open the door and get in there before he can see what you really are.” He began chanting again, then sagged against the wall. “That’s as good as it’s going to get,” he gasped. “Go!”
Buffy and Spike started down the hall, looking at a glance like a vampire and a small pink demon. They stopped when they got to the door, where the guard had stood up and was frowning at them.
“Who are you, and what are you doing down here? You’re not on the list.”
“Are you sure? Look again. William the Bloody? And Buffy the cute little demon?”
The vampire was looking at a clipboard when Spike grabbed his head and twisted it enough to break the neck, but not to rip it off. Buffy caught the clipboard before it could clatter to the floor while Spike frisked the vamp. He held up the key with a triumphant grin and shoved the immobile guard toward one of the approaching slayers. She ran a stake into the vamp’s chest without even looking at him.
Holding up a hand for quiet, Buffy carefully inserted the key in the lock and turned it. As she began to open the door, it was yanked out of her hand by large, muscular green demon of a kind she’d never seen.
“What the hell are you—” His question ended in a snarl as he took in the group of total strangers now fading from small demons into armed humans. Angel and Spike dropped their shoulders and hit the much larger demon hard enough to shove him back from the door, allowing Buffy and the other slayers to burst into the room.
Sitting in the center of the room was a glowing orb, a little smaller than a soccer ball, resting upon a cushion and behind a small barrier. They all approached – except Spike and Angel who were busy trying to find a way to bring down something bigger and stronger than they were. Surrounding the harmless-looking fence, they stared at the object.
“Is that it? Doesn’t look like much.”
“Well, we need to be able to—hey!” The snarling, snapping, swearing trio of demons had managed to work their way across the floor and as the slayers watched with varying degrees of interest, they fell across the barrier and landed – big demon on bottom, vampires on top – on the object it was protecting. There was a loud popping noise and the guardian demon screamed. He threw the two vampires off his body and rolled to the side, bringing the still intact, but cracked focus stone with him.
One slice with Buffy’s scythe removed his head, and a simultaneous blow with Faith’s axe smashed the no-longer glowing globe into several pieces. The other slayers took turns smashing the pieces into much smaller ones while Buffy used her communicator to tell everyone listening – “It’s done. Let’s get this city free!”
After assuring themselves that the globe had been smashed into dust, which, just to be safe, Buffy scooped up some of, they all headed out the door to join the fight. Which didn’t require going very far as vampires and demons were coming down the corridor in large numbers.
“Okay, ladies. Time to earn our keep.” Faith led the charge into the unsuspecting demons, cutting a path through them to the hallway.
“Hey, Blondie. Which way do we go to get out of here?”
Spike forced his way through the melee of demons, vampires and slayers to the main hallway. “Left! Go left.”
With Buffy, Faith and the six young slayers laying about with axes and swords, and Spike leading, tearing through whatever got in his way, and Angel, surprisingly, helping Anteres who was still weakened from holding the glamors as long as he could, they made their way to the garage. Only to find it swarming with more demons.
“Wait here,” Spike growled, slipping through the door and making his way to an SUV. His snarl was enough to discourage a lesser demon who had also been heading for that vehicle, but it didn’t retreat quickly enough to prevent Spike from grabbing the key from his tentacles.
He roared up to the door, and as soon as everyone was mostly inside, he steered for the exits, mowing down whatever got in the way. As they pulled out, he let out a “yee haw!” and let the big vehicle fishtail down the street away from the building.
Rather than returning to the Hyperion, the slayers decided to get out and begin slaying the demons not smart enough to have figured out that their safe haven no longer was. Buffy and Faith elected to go with them, instructing Spike and Angel to make sure Jeannie and her witches were working to keep the barrier from being re-installed.
“I want to fight with you. Can’t watch your back from inside the hotel!”
“The spell is off, moron. There’s sun! Or didn’t you notice?”
“Oh. Right. Sun. Almost forgot what that was like.”
“You and Angel can hold down the fort. You can protect the witches, and be there if anybody comes from outside.”
“I’ll be there to protect the girls,” Anteres said, seemingly much recovered from his exhaustion.
“If you’re not back by sundown, I’m going to come looking for you,” Spike growled.
Ignoring Angel’s growl and Faith’s snicker, Buffy kissed his cheek. “You’re so sexy when you’re being bossy,” she whispered with a giggle, then somewhat louder, “I’ll be back when I’m back.”
(more to come)
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/533737.html