Welcome to Sunnydale.
It was that sodding sign, again. Spike wished he was driving the DeSoto instead of this motorcycle, so that he didn't have to break the tradition of running over the sign upon entering Sunnyhell. Then again, he'd pretty much broken all the vampire rules ever since he'd first stepped foot in this town. He didn't really need to keep tradition, especially something that he'd done merely for the hell of it during his soulless and chipless days.
Those days were long gone, of course. He had that chip in his noggin and on top of that, he now had a shiny new soul.
First stop, 1630 Revello Drive.
Spike hadn't been sure what to expect when he came back, but what his eyes were currently witnessing hadn't even been on the list.
The Slayer... Buffy was kissing the poof... Angel. On the front porch.
Tears stung Spike's eyes, but he blinked them back. He had a soul, yeah, but he wasn't going to turn into a ponce about this.
And then he noticed something odd. From his hidden position, he clearly heard the sound of two heartbeats. Two heartbeats! Angelus was a bloody human!
The blond vampire took a deep unneeded breath and steeled himself to calm down before he tried anything stupid. Then he ducked back into the shadows and made his way around the side of the house. He slipped inside Casa Summers easily (he was quite grateful that he hadn't been uninvited), and went upstairs, pausing at Dawn's bedroom door. He pulled a folded piece of paper from the back pocket of his jeans and slid it under the door. He went back downstairs, and noticed that the door to the hall closet was slightly ajar. Something told him to look inside, and there he found his leather duster.
It's mine, Spike told himself. Refusing to think about anything else, he slipped the duster on and shut the hall closet. Then he was out of the house in a swish of black leather.
Spike was on his motorcycle roaring out of Sunnydale less than two hours after he'd returned.
"Did you hear something?" Buffy asked Angel, pulling away slightly from his embrace.
"No, why? What is it?"
The petite blonde shrugged. "Nothing, really. I just felt as though someone was watching us. Must be paranoid Slayer senses."
Angel smiled and kissed the top of her head. "Must be. Or you're probably just tired."
"Yeah, maybe," Buffy said.
"I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Of course. Tomorrow."
Angel gave her another quick kiss on the lips before gently nudging her to get in the house. Then he went home.
What the...? Before Cordelia could say anything more, she was back in Los Angeles. So much for being a Higher Being. Well, that sounded lame. She had barely been on the job, and now they'd sent her back. Apparently she had a much more important mission by being a guide to the vampire with a soul. So she went back to the Hyperion Hotel.
Half an hour later, she was getting a serious headache. The Powers that Be hadn't told her that Angel had turned human! How was she supposed to guide the vampire with a soul, if there was no vampire with a soul?
Two hours later, Cordelia found herself sitting at the bar at Caritas. She was eyeing the current singer, a certain platinum blond vampire who, she was awed to discover, actually possessed a good singing voice. But as she listened to the comments made by Lorne who was standing beside her, Cordelia realized that the vampire possessed more than just the ability to carry a tune.
Spike had a soul.
Three years later...
"Thanks for driving me, Angel. You know how Buffy and cars are un-mixy things," Buffy said with a slight smile.
She turned to look at the package on the backseat. It was a rather large box, containing scrolls and artifacts from the Magic Box, and each item was painstakingly wrapped for safety. She had been a little hesitant when Giles requested that she bring these to Los Angeles, but he'd told her that Wesley needed them right away. Also, Giles couldn't take them himself, since Anya was pregnant and he couldn't leave her even just for a short trip.
"No problem, Buffy. Besides, I haven't dropped by LA for a visit for some time," Angel replied, keeping his eyes on the road.
The statement made Buffy remember what had actually happened the last time she and Angel were both in LA. That had been a year ago, and they hadn't been to LA since.
When Angel had become human, he had immediately moved back to Sunnydale. He and Buffy had thought they could maybe get back together. And they had tried. Then there was Connor, who had come to ask for Angel's forgiveness, which of course the ex-vampire freely gave. To say Buffy was shocked to find out that Connor was Angel's son, with Darla of all people, was an understatement. Then again, Angel was equally shocked to find out about Buffy's affair with Spike, so they were square.
Eventually, they realized that they didn't really know each other anymore. The strange thing was, when they decided to be friends, they were fine.
For two years, Angel occasionally went to LA to visit his friends, sometimes with Buffy. He knew they had left the Hyperion and set up office elsewhere. He and Wesley might not ever go back to the friends they once were, but he did owe the ex-Watcher for rescuing him from the bottom of the ocean, so they were at least civil. He was alright with Fred and Gunn, who treated him the same as before. He'd asked if any of them had seen Cordelia, and they told him that she wasn't in Los Angeles, but traveling somewhere in the East Coast. None of them could give him a straight answer as to what she was doing, but it was obvious that they didn't really know.
Buffy was there when Angel found out. They had decided on a short surprise visit, only, they were the ones who got the surprise.
Cordelia was there. And so was Spike.
With Spike and Angel in the same room, especially with Angel's knowledge of what Spike had done the last time he'd been in Sunnydale, Buffy had expected all hell to break loose.
Angel had immediately lunged for Spike, momentarily forgetting that he was human and Spike was a master vampire. Spike had not moved, nor tried to defend himself. Angel had only gotten a few hits in before Cordelia stepped between them, pushing Angel away from Spike.
Then Gunn walked in, looked around, and then smirked at Spike, "Whoa, soul-boy, you certainly have an effect on people." Then he left the room.
There were exclamations, explanations, and a whole lot of that talking thing that Buffy was never really fond of. She and Spike had gotten the chance to settle things, though. She'd wondered why he didn't seem too brassed off about Angel, or didn't say anything about proving that he was good now so that they could get back together. He'd said he accepted that she could never love him, and she didn't contradict him. He'd also said that he was glad they would have closure on their complicated affair. Buffy found she didn't like the word "closure."
She'd been a jumbled mess of thoughts and emotions after that. She and Angel both were. But neither of them let on.
After that, they both always found a reason to decline from any trips to Los Angeles. Buffy wondered why her friends never delved into her reasons, while Dawn and Connor simply took the opportunity to go to LA themselves.
But now both Dawn and Connor were off at college; none of the others were available either. So Buffy and Angel had to go. Buffy felt that this time there certainly couldn't be a bigger surprise than discovering that the soulless demon who was Spike had gone to get his soul back, and had Cordelia Chase as his Seer.
An hour later, Angel parked the car in front of the building that housed the new Angel Investigations. It was no longer called that, of course, but to Angel it would always be that. The place looked pretty much the same on the outside. They wondered what changes they would find inside.
Angel strolled right in, with Buffy at his side, carrying the package. From behind the front desk came a squeal, and a moment later Angel found himself being given a swift hug by Fred. He was glad that Fred didn't seem to hold a grudge for the lack of communication in the past year.
Then Wesley walked out of the office. He greeted both Buffy and Angel politely.
"I was just talking to Rupert on the phone. He mentioned you were coming," Wesley said.
Buffy held out the package from the Magic Box. "Yup, we've got the goods, too."
"Excellent. I'll just go and arrange the paperwork for those," Wesley said. He took the package from Buffy, and then he went back into the office.
Fred led them to the spacious recreation area which had three couches, a home entertainment center, a pool table, and weapons decorating the walls. They had just settled on one couch when Gunn arrived, with a large axe in his hands.
"Hey Angel, man, been a long time," Gunn said, patting Angel on the shoulder. Then he turned to Buffy. "Hey, Buffy."
"Hi, Gunn," Buffy said with a smile.
Then he held up his axe. "Got to get this baby clean, before I get complaints from English."
"English?" Buffy asked, confused.
"He means Wesley. You know, because Wes is English, as in British," Fred clarified for Gunn, who had headed over to a corner with a rag and began to wipe off the grime decorating the axe.
Then Fred sat on the couch opposite from where Buffy and Angel sat side by side. Fred and Buffy awkwardly tried to do small talk, with Angel adding a few comments here and there.
Cordelia Chase, dressed in top fashion as usual, came in through the front doors just a few minutes later. She paused for dramatic effect as she scanned the area for a specific someone, and was disappointed when she didn't see who she was looking for. Only after that did she notice the presence of Buffy, and also Angel, who stood up and was now approaching her.
"It's nice to see you again, Cordy. You look good," Angel said.
Cordelia smiled. "Same here, Angel. You look good, too; if not a bit older?" She smirked and gave him a quick hug, then turned to the blonde Slayer.
"Hi, Buffy. It's been ages," Cordelia said, before giving the smaller woman a hug as well.
Buffy was surprised but pleased by the hug. "It's nice to see you, too, Cordelia."
"Oh, pffft. Call me Cordy. Everyone does, nowadays."
The brunette Seer then sat down beside Fred on the other couch, while Buffy and Angel returned to their seats on the opposite couch. Cordelia easily kept the conversation going while they all waited for Wesley to finish whatever he was doing.
Suddenly, the front doors again burst open, punctuated by a loud curse when one of the hinges came loose. "Dammit!"
Everyone stared at the newcomer.
Faith the Vampire Slayer grinned sheepishly. "Sorry guys, I didn't mean to break the door again." She nearly gave a start when she saw the pair from Sunnydale. "Hey, B. Hi ya, Angel."
"Hello, Faith." This came from Angel. Buffy parroted the greeting. Both were rather surprised at the presence of the brunette Slayer. They hadn't heard that she had gotten out of prison.
But if they were surprised by Faith's entrance, shock was an understatement when it came to describe their reaction to the man who walked in behind her. His platinum blond hair gleamed in the afternoon sunlight as he stood behind the former rogue Slayer. Faith turned to face him.
"That thing ruined my leather pants!" Faith pouted. She playfully punched him in the shoulder. "You never told me that those tentacles were sharp!"
The blond smiled slightly. "Oh come on, pet. I didn't know about those things." His smile turned wicked. "I'll make it up to you."
Faith couldn't help but grin in return. "That a promise, Blondie?"
He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "That it is, pet."
Buffy and Angel stared at them, not knowing what to make of the affectionate display, especially considering the source. Heck, even considering the recipient. The fact that they were both standing in broad daylight made it even more mind-boggling. Buffy was watching them with an emotion she had yet to identify. Angel was simply confused.
Then Faith pulled away from the embrace, and walked with a definite sway of her hips towards Gunn's corner. Gunn set aside the axe he was cleaning, and welcomed the younger Slayer into an embrace.
This only served to confuse Angel even more. Buffy was secretly relieved, though she couldn't explain why.
The blond man's scarred eyebrow rose when he spotted the Sunnydale duo.
"'Lo, all. Didn't know we were havin' a party."
"Spike." Buffy and Angel said simultaneously.
"Oh look, they're in sync. Hello, Slayer. Hello, gramps. How's tricks?" Spike sauntered straight to the couch opposite them and squeezed himself into the space between Cordelia and Fred, then placed an arm around each girl.
Cordelia poked him in the side. "Going to make it up to Faith, are you, bleach boy?"
Spike ran his tongue behind his teeth, and smirked. "Why, Princess, wanna join us?"
"In your dreams," Cordelia replied easily.
"Only in my worst nightmares, love," Spike countered, leaning his head back on the couch. "Only in my worst nightmares."
Cordelia and Fred giggled. Faith and Gunn suppressed their laughter.
Buffy and Angel were puzzled.
Spike saw their expressions and chuckled. "We were talking about shopping for Faith's new leather pants."
Everyone started to make small talk but they weren't entirely comfortable, so Cordelia decided to do something about it.
"Since Wesley seems to be taking forever with those scrolls and whatever, I'm going to fix us some drinks."
"I'll give you a hand, love," Spike said.
"Anyone want anything in particular?" Cordelia asked the group.
As they gave their requests, Cordelia raised an eyebrow when Buffy requested something with alcohol in it. Buffy just shrugged, and they grinned at each other.
Cordelia and Spike left. As soon as they were in the kitchen, out of sight of the others, Spike took the opportunity to pull the Seer into his arms.
Then the couple practically melted into each other as their lips met in a passionate kiss.
"I've wanted to do that the moment I walked in," Spike murmured, resting his forehead against Cordelia's as he looked straight into her eyes.
"I know, honey," Cordelia responded in kind, trapped by her boyfriend's electric blue gaze.
Spike started to kiss her again. And they forgot why they had gone there in the first place.
As he closed the office door behind him, Wesley caught a glimpse of what was going on in the kitchen. He turned red, then tried to compose himself, before going into the rec area.
"Hey Wes, have you seen Cordy and Spike? They seem to be taking an awful lot of time in the kitchen," Fred remarked.
"They're rather busy at the moment," Wesley replied, glad that he didn't blush this time.
Gunn and Faith snickered. Fred just nodded thoughtfully. Buffy and Angel both blinked, as the statement sank in.
"You don't mean..." Buffy started to say.
"They're busy. With fixing the drinks. Right," Angel said. Then he got up and headed in the direction of the kitchen.
Buffy went after him.
Wesley, Fred, Gunn, and Faith looked at each other. "Uh oh," Faith said. Then she grinned and stood up. "I'm not going to miss a good show." The other three reluctantly followed.
In the kitchen, Angel and Buffy froze in shock at the sight. Then they both turned red and looked away.
Wesley coughed slightly to get their attention. Both eagerly focused their gazes on him. He handed them the check for the merchandise, and a note for Giles.
"Wicked," Faith suddenly remarked from behind them. "That just gets hotter every time. Just imagine if neither of them needs to breathe."
Spike and Cordelia broke apart. Faces still flushed from passion, they both turned to glower at the dark-haired Slayer. Then they looked at each other again. There were identical mischievous glints in their eyes. Neither paid attention to the fact that they had practically given their friends a free show. They hadn't gone beyond kissing, anyway.
"We have to go," Cordelia informed their friends curtly.
"We'd best be off, mates," Spike said.
The pair was out the door in the next few seconds. No one bothered for an explanation. It wasn't as though the others didn't know what they were up to.
"I think they have the right idea," Faith moved suggestively against Gunn.
"I'm not gonna complain, girl," he replied. "Let's go."
They made their exit pretty much the same way as the first couple.
Fred turned her pretty brown eyes to Wesley, and in an uncharacteristic gesture, gave him a flirtatious wink. She didn't wait for a reaction, instead sauntered away to the stairs leading to the second floor, which housed her apartment. Wesley's eyes widened. He took a step to follow her, almost in a daze.
Then Angel's voice rang out.
"So, Wes, care to explain how Spike can go out in daylight? And why he and Cordy are suddenly... like that?"
Wesley sighed. He'd completely forgotten about their visitors when Fred winked at him.
"Oh, that," he muttered. He led them back to the rec area (he wasn't about to stay in the kitchen after it fell victim to Spike and Cordy's most recent public display of affection.) Wesley gave them a short explanation involving a case three months previous, a Mohra demon and the mixing of blood. He also told them that Spike and Cordelia had been together months before Spike became mortal.
"So, this is pretty much an all-human team, huh?" Buffy commented. She said it lightly, trying not to think of Spike and Cordy's relationship, especially of what they could be doing at that very moment.
"Well, not exactly," Wesley replied. He explained further, "Cordelia is part-demon because of her Seer status. And Spike... well, I assume he is to be considered part-demon as well. His mortality had been restored when Mohra demon blood was mixed with his, but he had retained his vampire abilities, although he no longer needs to drink blood. It's fascinating, really. Apparently his demon had merged with his soul during the time he was an ensouled vampire. Thus, when his body was turned mortal, his demon simply refused to leave the premises."
"That's not fair," Angel muttered under his breath. "I had a soul first. But he gets to keep his powers."
Wesley was about to launch into further explanation, but Buffy cut him short.
"You know, Wesley, never mind. We really have to head back," she said.
Wesley sprinted up the stairs the moment they were out the door.
Outside, Angel was still mumbling as they got into the car.
Buffy tuned out the sound of his voice and let her mind drift off.
Angel started to brood.
Well... some things never change.