They were being herded; at least that’s what it felt like to Spike. They’d headed off towards the exit the others had used to get in, but they couldn’t get the small, servant’s entrance door to open. Spike had touched the doorknob and shook his head; Dru had been there, and set up a mojo lock, a strong one from what he could tell. The Watcher agreed, there was strong magic on the door that was not there when they’d come through earlier, and he couldn’t break it. They decided to try the other exit before getting in touch with Glinda, and asking her to break them out.
So they’d moved on to the underground exit that emptied into the sewers. Clem had told them that it would let anyone out, but only allow members of the court in. Which suited Spike, as he had no interest in coming back once he’d gotten the hell out of this damned place. Unfortunately, that exit had been locked, too, and to make it worse, when they tried to get in touch with Glinda to ask her to blow the locks, their cell phones wouldn’t work.
Foxy Brown thought it was probably due to interference, despite Glinda having boosted their signal magically before they came down to the basement. She suggested they move around some and hope they had better reception elsewhere. They’d tested the phones earlier, from the basement of the Watcher’s flat, and they’d had no problems with reception, so Spike was leaning toward the possibility that the reception problem had more to do with Dru than it did the basement they were calling from. Personally, Spike was hoping they’d find a room with a land line, because if Drusilla could do this to their phones, she could do it to Glinda’s, too, and she’d never notice it had been done, so she wouldn’t think to try and fix it.
They consulted Clem’s sketchy map, and decided to start up front in the main room, as it would probably have the best reception. Spike hadn’t realized the basement was as large as the mansion upstairs; it would be easy to get lost in a place like this, with its dim lighting, dark corridors and shadowy corners. They were lucky Clem had such a good memory. Spike had to admit that Clem had surprised him. He’d gone straight to the Watcher’s flat, despite his fears, and he’d stayed long enough to make a map, and have a heart to heart with the Watcher.
Spike had snickered about that, but promised Xander not to mention it to either the Watcher or Foxy Brown. He’d been surprised to see Rupert there for the rescue, but it made more sense now that he knew that Clem had offered the Watcher his two cent’s worth. The demon was very intuitive, and could get to the heart of a subject after just a few minutes of listening to someone’s problems. Spike ought to know, he’d done it to Spike more than once. It could be a little unnerving to hear the unvarnished truth like that. It’s a good thing that Clem was such an easy guy to get along with; some people would get staked for saying what they thought like that. Kind of reminded Spike of some talk show host - Oprah Winfrey, or maybe that Donahue guy. Not that Spike ever watched those shows or anything, but occasionally the TV was on in the background. What else was there to do while you waited for the sun to go down?
The corridors seemed endless. Spike hoped they weren’t going round in circles, ‘cause he didn’t have the reserves for that. He was feeling all right at the moment, but he was shaky inside, and he wouldn’t be able to keep it from showing for too much longer. He’d prefer to be up there at the front with Xander, but his boy needed to focus, and not be distracted by Spike.
Buddy was taking lead right now, what with his ability to spot demons, and Xander needed to concentrate on their connection. With Kendra in second spot with the map, and the Watcher in the rear, that left Spike in the protected position, and that wasn’t going down well. He hated to be the weak link, but with this spell thing, and his general shakiness, he knew this was where he belonged right now. At least he had a sword, he wouldn’t be completely useless in a fight.
The Slayer was getting tense, even though Spike could see no reason for it, until he realized that she hadn’t checked the map once in the last several minutes. Herc was moving confidently, without slowing down or conferring with anyone, as if he knew exactly where they were headed. Spike caught up with the Slayer, who exchanged an alarmed look with him.
“He’s not consulting the map at all, but he’s making all the right turns. He knows where we’re going.” She looked worried, but not alarmed, at least not yet. “Do you think we need to stop him? If he’s this single minded, he may not react to danger.”
Foxy had a point.
“Maybe we can just remind him to be careful,” Spike suggested. “Make sure he’s aware of his surroundings.”
They caught up with him, and Spike reached for his elbow, but before he even touched Herc, he had a knife at Spike’s neck, his eyes blazing with anger.
“Xander, it’s Spike! Don’t hurt him.” Kendra whispered urgently.
She didn’t try and touch him, which was good, as Spike was in a dangerous position, and didn’t need Herc to be distracted at this point. The Watcher showed up, and tried to talk Xander down as well, but it didn’t seem to be working. Spike had a thought that it might be his gold eyes that were throwing Xander, so he took a chance, and closed them.
“That’s good, Spike. Keep them closed.” The Watcher had sussed out his thinking. “Xander, look at him. That’s Spike. You don’t want to hurt him. He’s on your side.” Rupert sighed melodramatically before he admitted it. “He’s your friend, Xander.”
A second later, Spike felt the blade leave his neck, and he slumped with relief, opening his eyes slowly.
“Are you alright, Spike?” Xander’s voice was thin and reedy.
“Yeah, mate, I’m okay. But you need to slow down, all right? You’re speeding through the halls like nobody’s business, and you’re not stopping for directions, either.”
Xander nodded. “Don’t worry, Buddy’s keeping an eye out. We’re almost there.” With that, he turned and started walking again, slightly slower than before.
They all scrambled to catch up, mumbling under their breaths. At least they didn’t have much farther to go, Spike thought. He clenched his fist tight around the hilt of his sword. He hoped this night was almost over. He wasn’t sure how much farther he could make it.
Xander was right, it took all of a minute for him to stop at an archway that led to an open room. He stepped inside before they could get there to protect him properly. Spike didn’t care if Buddy was watching out for him or not, if they got out of this in one piece, he and Xander were going to have a long talk about the proper procedure for walking around in enemy territory.
When he got to the archway, Kendra was already inside watching Xander who was in the center of the room in front of a wrought iron stand, upon which stood the most beautiful sword Spike had ever seen. It was close to a meter in length, with a fairly broad blade of burnished metal. It looked like carbon steel, but there were copper and gold highlights that made it glow along the center line of the blade, where the ‘fuller’ was engraved with delicate scroll work. It was double-edged, and broad enough to be handy as a slicing and slashing blade, but the narrowness of the point made it appropriate for thrusting as well.
Spike tore his eyes away from the sword to look at Xander, who was smiling like he’d won the lottery, a look of awe on his face. A jolt of jealousy hit Spike, he preferred that he be the only one who could make Xander look like that. But he shoved that selfish thought down, and watched as Xander caressed the copper wrapped pommel as if stroking a pet. He recognized the move from watching Xander with Buddy, but he already knew that this was Xander’s sword.
Xander looked over at the three of them. “Can you hear it? She’s singing to me. She’s so beautiful.” He took the sword down off the rack, holding it in both hands as he listened to music they could never hear.
Spike felt a sense of déjà vu. He’d been in this situation before. At least this time he knew better what was going on. He should have known from the way Xander was behaving – but he hadn’t recognized his actions until it was too late.
“Dru said that Xander needed to wake the sleeper.” Spike was angry with himself for not figuring this out ahead of time. “She’s known all along that Xander was here to find a sword.”
Giles walked up to Xander and admired the sword, without touching it, of course. Even his Watcher’s curiosity wasn’t enough to make him touch a sentient blade without a proper introduction.
“Yes.” Giles spoke distractedly. “What was it that Tara said in that message from Drusilla?”
“She said that the white knight had mislaid his weapon,” Kendra quoted from memory, “and that she could help him find it, but he’d have to bring her the black knight in exchange.”
“Good memory, there, Foxy.” Spike was impressed.
“She has a near photographic memory,” Giles said with pride.
Kendra blushed, and moved around the side, taking the leather scabbard that had been hanging below the sword off its hook. She fitted it onto Xander’s belt, and Spike approved. Well, for the most part. Part of him was overly protective of what his demon considered his property, but he soothed his anger with the knowledge that Kendra had obviously approved of their relationship, earlier tonight. He told himself that they were in enemy territory; they needed to pay attention, because it was obvious that Xander was going to be wrapped up in his own world all night. That was how it had been when he’d acquired Buddy. It had taken him hours to come down off that high.
“What makes you think the sword is female, Xander?”
Giles didn’t change, no matter the dimension. He’d done the same thing after Xander had put on Buddy, back in their world. He just couldn’t help himself. That curiosity was going to kill him one of these days.
“I know they’re sentient creatures, but do you really think they have male and female sexes?”
“Oh, yeah.” Xander nodded. “She’s definitely female. Look how beautiful she is.”
“Did she tell you she was female?”
“No, but Buddy told me she was his sister. I knew it as soon as I saw her, Giles, I could feel it.” He frowned and bit his lip. “I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.”
Spike started looking around the large open room, hoping to find a phone on a wall or table. “Well, I suggest we delay the twenty million questions the Watcher will have for Xander, and look for a phone. We need to call Glinda so we can get the hell out of this place before they find us.”
“It’s too late for that, love.” Drusilla walked down a set of stairs on the far wall of the room. A large number of minions poured into the room from all the entrances around them, and Spike sighed. Well, there went that rescue attempt. At least they’d gotten farther than Spike had in his effort to rescue Clem. He’d be sure and congratulate them at some point, he thought sarcastically.
Spike was surprised that Xander didn’t try anything, what with his new sword and all, but Xander had told him before that Buddy had cautioned him more than once to refrain from jumping in when the odds were definitely against him. He was still listening to Buddy, which was good.
Drusilla’s eyes were focused on Xander’s new friend, and she came as close as Puffy Spike would let her. He could see her hands opening and closing; she wanted to hold the sword, but fortunately, she was holding back.
Xander held the sword up against his chest, his arms wrapped around it protectively. “You can’t have her. She belongs with me and Buddy.”
Spike cringed at that, Drusilla rarely listened when people said no. As a matter of fact, it usually made her work harder to get her way. Strangely enough, his words seemed to be getting through to her, this time.
“I know, I know,” she told Xander. “She’s not for me. But she’s so lovely.” She closed her eyes, swaying softly. “Her song is so perfect. She sings as beautifully as the stars do.”
“You can hear her?”
Dru opened her eyes. “Of course I can, kitten. She’s so happy to finally find you. She’d been stuck in your dusty basement for years when I found her. She was so very lonely.”
“Our basement.” Spike thought back to when they first awoke in the basement of their lair. The Plautect sorcerer hadn’t had a dresser’s dummy, like the one in their world. Instead, he’d had a stand on a table. A stand that looked a lot like the one Xander’s sword had been on when they’d walked into this room. “You mean that sword was in our basement all this time?”
“Well, we found it several years ago, and brought it here, but before that it was in your current dump, yeah.”
“No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make her sing. She’s been so lonely.”
Xander squeezed the sword tighter in his arms, his face leaning against the pommel, reminding Spike of how he used to lean into Dru’s hand. Never again, he thought sadly.
“But now that we’re all here, we can finally find out what you’ve been planning all this time, Dru.” Puffy turned to Dru, excitement written all over his face. “Well? Let’s have it!”
She smiled happily. “Yes, finally, it’s all coming together. I had planned to have the two slayers for this quest, but the kitten will do admirably. He’s got the strength of a slayer, and his lovely friends to protect him on his journey. And I know that he’ll do his duty, they both will, for we’ll be holding the Watcher and Spike here with us until they return.”
Spike could see this one coming from a mile away. “Bloody hell. I am not going to play hostage while Xander is off on some bloody quest. If this is so important, why don’t you go yourself?”
“No, no, no.” Dru shook her head. “I can’t do it, I wouldn’t be able to find my way. They need to have souls in order to find their way back across the barrier. Without a soul, he’s trapped there, he can’t find his way out of Acathla’s hell – not without a guide.”
“Acathla? Acathla?” Puffy shouted.
The minions looked unsettled. They’d obviously seen Puffy in a snit before. Spike watched carefully, wondering if he could take advantage of the confusion if Puffy blew a gasket over this. He caught Xander’s eyes, and gestured to Giles and Kendra with his head. Xander gave them a glance, and they nodded slightly. It looked as if they were all as ready as they could be.
Spike laughed loudly. It couldn’t hurt to help push Puffy over the edge. “You mean you’ve been making plans for all these years to get Angelus out of hell?”
Puffy screamed to the ceiling. “I won’t let you do it! Do you hear me? I won’t have him back in my world!”
Dru backhanded Puffy, and he slammed back into the nearest wall. Spike figured it was now or never, and he burst into action, knocking the two closest minion’s heads together with a resounding crack.
He saw that the others had taken advantage of the distraction as well, and he let loose a shout of satisfaction as he twisted the head off some sniveling little idiot. It was well past time for some action!