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The Vampire Princess and the Pea Soup

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“See?” Wesley murmured quietly with a nod at Harmony, who happily gulped down a mug of pig's blood at the table on the other side of the room as Gunn poured it out for her. “Your real vampire princess could detect the drop of pea soup under the blood. As if her diction wasn't proof enough,” he added with a long-suffering sigh.

“But Wes,” argued Angel with a frown, “none of them have noticed yet. At least, not if you don't count Drusilla's rant about fireflies playing the violin as noticing something off, and frankly, I don't think that had anything to do with the blood. Are you sure this test is for real?”

Wesley drew himself to his full height stiffly. “This test has been handed down through the ages. Herodotus records seven separate instances of its use in his Histories. Pliny the Elder writes of adapting the test for use with pig's blood rather than human. In the Sumerian hymn to Inanna, the recipe is described as–”

“I'll just take that as a yes,” Angel cut him off hurriedly. “But if they're all false vampire princesses, where else am I supposed to look for the real deal?”

“Oi!” Spike yelled, glaring down at a mug he held in his hands. He stood next to Harmony's chair and still leaned over the table a little where he'd stretched to snag the pitcher of blood from Gunn. “Who's been messing about with the blood? This tastes like eating a bloody vegan. I'll be havin' flashbacks to Berkeley in the 60's all day now,” he grumbled.

Harmony looked into the depths of her mug in confusion. “What? It tastes fine to me,” she insisted. “I mean, fine for pig, anyway.”

Wesley and Angel turned to stare at Spike. They both blinked for a moment in silence.

Spike is my princess?!” Angel finally spluttered. “Spike?!”

“Well,” Wesley said philosophically, “I confess I did not anticipate that development. I suppose the term 'princess' is a looser translation than I originally thought...”

Angel turned to gape at him incredulously. “Looser translation? That's all you've got?”

“Hey!” Spike objected right over him. “Who're you callin' a princess? Let's not forget which one of us does all the royal flouncing here, because no doubt it's you.” He pointed an accusing finger at Angel.

Angel whirled on him. “I do not flounce,” he snapped. “I prowl. And maybe sometimes saunter, but definitely no flouncing! And I'm not the one who once spent a whole night in a ballgown and tiara!”

Spike jerked back as if struck, glaring daggers at Angel. “Right! Gloves off it is,” he fumed. “You wanna talk about which one of us–”

“Did I say 'vampire princess'?” Wesley interrupted him loudly. “I'm terribly sorry. What I intended to say was 'vampire eternal soulmate'. Many congratulations to you both.”

What?!” Angel and Spike demanded in unison.

“The prophecy is very clear,” Wesley informed them gravely. “The test reveals the true royal couple.” He turned toward the door, ushering Harmony and Gunn before him with small shooing motions. “I'm sure it shall be a love for the ages,” he assured them with a bland smile as he shut the door firmly on their stunned faces.

“You know, you can be really evil when you wanna be, English,” Gunn snickered as soon as the door was closed.

Wesley finally allowed a smirk to curl up one side of his lips. “As if you never wanted to do something about that powder keg of sexual tension.”

“True that,” Gunn laughed. “But I'd'a just gotten 'em drunk and suggested strip poker. This?” he nodded back at the closed door. “Actually more fun.”

“I don't know,” Wesley grinned at him. “With a change in players, I think you might be onto something with that idea.”

“You're on,” Gunn said immediately. “I got the cards if you got the booze.” They turned together toward Wesley's office, leaving a frowning Harmony in the hall alone, forgotten. Wesley's door shut behind them.

“Guys?” Harmony called plaintively. “Hey, guys? Whose princess do I get to be? Guys?” The doors both stayed shut, and no one answered her. “This sucks,” Harmony huffed. “I am so getting a curse put on this castle.”