Considering everything that had happened in the last eight hours, Harry wasn’t surprised that he was beginning to feel on the verge of collapse. He figured the adrenaline from the last few hours was finally beginning to wear off, but Faith seemed as fresh as a daisy.
He then asked Faith a question that had been bothering him ever since he and his friends had gotten to Sunnydale: "When the hell do you sleep?"
"I don't know when B and the other Scoobies find sack time,; I'm usually out like a light in the middle of the morning,." Faith dropped another wink. "Want to catch some Z's?"
"I don't know how you find the energy," Harry replied. "You've had less rest than I have, and you look like you're ready to take on another nest."
"Must be part of the whole Slayer package," Faith shrugged. "Hell, maybe it comes as part of this magic Hermione says that all Slayers have. "
Harry admitted that this could be the case.
"What kind of rest have you had while you've been on this Quest for the Horcruxes?" Faith countered. "I'd figured you'd be on shorter hours yourself. Hell, it's not going to be midnight for another few minutes."
"Hell if I know," Harry replied. "Maybe I'm just not used to this whole Sunnydale sleep cycle that everyone else seems to be on. Another couple of weeks, maybe I'll be on the same standards."
"Except that you're not going to be here that long," For the first time, a lot of the fun had dropped out of Faith's voice. "Hell, as soon as you get the Horcrux, you and your friends probably need to get the fuck out of here before the Wizard formerly known as Riddle sends a whole damn army to wipe you out."
Harry and his friends hadn't had time to discuss this, but there had always been an underlying agreement that this was the case. Whatever the other Horcruxes were, it was far more likely that they were in England somewhere then scattered across the globe. And enough people were in the line of fire here that he didn't want on his conscience.
Yet for the first time since this long search had begun, he felt loathe to leave. Maybe, despite all of the disconnect from the war he'd felt as long as they'd been in California, he felt reluctant to get back on the front line. Maybe Hogwarts and the Ministry--- everything connecting with the wizarding world--- seemed so far away.
Or maybe it was simpler than that. "Were you serious about wanting to come with us?" he asked bluntly.
If Faith was surprised by the question, she managed to hide it well. "I realize that you're involved in a war," she told him. "There's one going on here, too. And I think it ends a lot worse if our side loses here than there."
Harry couldn't argue with that logic. So it said something for his state of mind that he did. "Voldemort's already wreaked a lot of death and destruction. For the last four months, I have been trying to erase the things I saw in the Ministry from my mind. I don't even want to think what that bastard has done to Hogwarts. The end of the world can't be worse than this."
"Not to take away from what's going on, which I've no doubt is terrible," Faith replied, "but that's a crock and you know it. Just by reading about it, you know how deep the shit gets here. So why don't you quit toying around and say what you want to say?"
That directness again. Harry wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answers to the next group of questions, but he didn't think he had a choice. "How much of what happened in the motel was you letting off steam?" he finally asked.
Faith's expression remained neutral. "Look, I realize everybody feels different about their first time," she said with what amounted to delicacy for her. "And I get that you were really into it, but last I checked, you have a sweetheart in England."
"Who I went through a very elaborate breakup with," Harry said slowly. "Who I may never see again. And even if I do, that's not the issue."
"HP, you've known me less than a week,' Faith reminded him. "You're in the middle of a war, and, you haven't exactly had a normal life. Besides, if there's one thing that B and the rest of her posse have taught me, it’s that love on a Hellmouth is damn near impossible."
There was a certain truth to her words. However, Harry also noticed that Faith seemed to be going through some elaborate verbal gymnastics --- something she wasn't good at.
"You haven't answered my question," he tried again.
"I'm not known for making the wisest decisions after kicking ass and not taking names," Faith replied. "And I'm really lousy at having any kind of relationship. I won't deny the sex would probably be awesome---- least on my part---- but you deserve better."
"And why wouldn't you be a part of that?" Harry asked. "Why are you always saying you're second best to Buffy? You're at least as good a fighter, you're honest, you're fearless, and---- I'll admit to be a little prejudiced--- you're a lot hotter. Why do you think that you don't deserve to be happy?"
"Happiness doesn't happen on a Hellmouth," Faith replied. "Buffy and Angel may have this great, undying love, but she's too blind to realize there's no future in it. Xander had a relationship with Cordelia, and he basically pissed it away because his hormones got the better of him. Oz and Willow, they're still recovering from the exact same problem. Romance is doomed here."
Faith was putting up a lot of resistance, but throughout the conversation Harry had been moving closer to her, and she hadn't moved away. "Why won't you answer me?" he asked.
"Nothing good can come of this," Faith whispered. "Your words, not mine."
"Maybe we're both wrong."
And at that moment, fireworks began to go off across the water. 1999 had officially begun. Had he been more observant, Harry wouldn't have been impressed--- these fireworks were far inferior to the ones Dumbledore had put together. But at that moment, neither he nor Faith were looking beyond their immediate field of vision.
"This is not the best time to have a crush," Faith whispered.
"If this is a crush, I'm not sure I could take it if I ever felt the real thing," Harry countered.
And then, neither sure who made the first move, they were kissing again.
It didn't last nearly long enough before Harry became aware of another presence.
So did Faith. "Don't you have anything better to do than lurk in the shadows?' she demanded.
"What happened to Buffy?" Angel demanded.
Not for the first time, Harry felt genuine resentment towards the vampire. "Just because you've been dead for two centuries is no reason to act like a damn Peeping Tom," he snapped, "anymore than enhanced vampire hearing gives you the right to listen to private conversations."
For the first time since he'd come to know him, Angel had the good grace to look abashed. "We've got more important things to deal with than worrying about privacy," he argued.
"I would say it should mean even more," Harry countered.
"B's fine," Faith replied. "We just spent the last couple of hours reducing the parts of Voldemort's soul by one. As you probably learned, that's pretty damn hard work."
"I'm starting to get an idea," Angel admitted. He held out his hands, which bore the impressions of the cup that they had liberated. "Usually for that to happen, I have to be near something holy."
"For all intents and purposes, that was," Harry told them. "How'd you get away from Sunnydale's police force?"
"They've never been staffed with the best and the brightest," Angel told them. "And I don't think that any of them have been near the sewers in a while."
"Where'd you put it?"
Reluctantly, Faith and Harry did. "How'd you get away?" Angel asked.
Abruptly, Harry remembered why he'd insisted on making this little trip. "The police are idiots. Of somewhat greater concern was the arrival of one of your children."
Angel had had centuries to perfect the act of stoicism. "So Drusilla is back in town?"
"It would've been nice to know that before I ended up in an alley with her," Harry wasn't going to give the sonofabitch any quarter. "Just as it would've been good to know that she's also a witch."
"When exactly were you planning on telling us that she knew more than the usual number of ways to kill a man?" Faith wasn't bothering to hide her disgust.
Angel froze. "She always had the sight, I knew that much," he told them, "but that's the only power she ever demonstrated---"
"Stop bullshitting us," Faith was getting angry. "From what Harry tells me, you spent several years slaughtering everyone Drusilla was close to before you sired her. You didn't happen to notice that they were wizards?"
Now a genuine expression of alarm was appearing on Angel's face. "If she'd been a wizard, she’d have had a hundred chances to kill me before I turned her," he said slowly. "Besides, you think I can't tell the difference?"
"Maybe they were the part of her family you left alive," Harry countered. "Because apparently one of her distant relatives happens to sit at Voldemort's right hand. A woman, by the way, who is so completely round the bend, she makes Drusilla look like a model of sanity."
"Now they're all together," Faith told him. "And this kind of family reunion is going to end with slaughter on an epic scale. Considering that both of them probably wouldn't object to seeing the world burn."
"Then we'll have to stop them," Angel replied.
"And how exactly do we do that?' Harry demanded. "In case you'd forgotten, Drusilla killed a Slayer the last time she came to Sunnydale. And given what I saw her do in that alley, she doesn't even have to get close to her victims to destroy them. I don't even want to think what'll happen if she and Voldemort decide to start to trading recipes."
"Then again, you didn't even know they were friends before they started this little tea party," Faith replied. "In any case, I think we now know why that little snowstorm happened a week ago. You've left a giant mess behind, and now we have to clean it up."
Angel was starting to look dour again, and suddenly Harry was getting sick of it. Maybe it was Faith's nervous energy wearing off on him, or his frustration with the latest set of enemies. Whatever it was, he’d had enough.
"You know, I'm getting really tired of this whole brooding thing,--" he began.
"I don't know why. He's had a century to perfect it. About the only thing Peaches here is good at."
Angel was the only one who knew the speaker by voice, but Harry would never have forgotten hearing it in his vision.
"I warned you never to come back," Angel said without turning around.
"Now you have to have known that wouldn't work," Spike replied. "And I must say, I am deeply disappointed by the company you've been keeping. You prophecy boys certainly flock together."
Harry had decided that he was tired of being shadowed by these vampires. Without even hesitating, he whirled around and tossed an 'Incendio' right at Spike. He was therefore unsettled when Spike managed to leap out of its path without a moment's hesitation.
"Not bad, Mr. Potter," Spike replied. "Maybe Tommy Boy has a reason to be afraid of you."
"And now, you have one to be scared of me," Faith whirled around, and assumed a fighting pose.
For the briefest of moments, a noticeable look of surprise was on Spike's face. It was, however, replaced by a nasty grin. "My, my, my," he said slowly. "You must be that Jamaican bint's replacement."
"I understand you like killing Slayers," Faith said calmly. "When you're not getting your raggedy ass run out of town by one."
Spike made a clucking sound. "Not even close to Buffy's style of repartee, " he said, shaking his head. "Then again, I'm guessing they don't teach Oscar Wilde in trailer parks."
Harry was not happy about how much darker Faith's face got. Spike had found the chink in her armor in less than two minutes. This was not going to end well.
"Give it up, Spike," he told the blonde vampire. "You might be able to take one of us down, but getting all three of us, - I don't think you have the ability to beat us on your own."
"Who said I came alone?"
Suddenly, there was the sound of a sewer grate opening, and within a matter of seconds, eight more vampires were on the ground.
"See, the two of you are an added bonus on this particular mission," Spike told them. "Our little job was to remove Captain Hair-Gel from the picture. It's amazing what just falls into your lap when you least expect it."
The vampires were moving in slowly. "This going to be a problem?" Harry asked Faith.
The smile was back on her face. "Nah, it's five by five," she told her.
"How much help will you need?"
Now Faith dropped a wink. "You were planning to help?"
Spike looked towards the heavens. "Very funny," He turned to his lackeys. "Do it."
And then, for a record-breaking third time in less than eight hours, Harry was in the middle of a fight. Fortunately, he had none of the qualms about destroying vampires that he’d had killing Death Eaters or policemen.
Unfortunately, the word about how these wizards had been setting the vamp world on fire had apparently spread to Spike's minions. Harry managed to set one vampire on fire before the rest of them began to spread their numbers so that Harry's spells weren't getting anywhere near them. They seemed to be dressed in layers, and every time he tried to incinerate one, all he did was manage to burn one of their coats.
Faith, naturally, was in her element, and managed to dust two of the vampires in three minutes. Seeing what was happening, she yelled out. "Hey HP, remember what Ron taught me!"
It took Harry several seconds before he remembered what he had seen Ron do just a few hours earlier. Moving quickly, he cast three Stupefy spells at the crowd. Two of them hit. A split second later, so did Faith.
They had eliminated five of the vampires before Harry looked around to see that Spike wasn't there anymore. While he wanted to believe that their foe had just stolen away into the night, he found this incredibly unlikely, especially when he realized Angel was gone too.
Tempted though he was to let these two vampires slug it out until each was a pile of dust, he realized he couldn't let that happen, at least until he knew where the Horcrux had been stashed.
He stupefied one last vampire before yelling to Faith. "I'm going after them," he yelled. "Follow me when you're finished here!"
"Save me a drumstick," Faith shouted back.
Harry took off, casting a Lumos spell in front of him. A few hundred yards away, he ran into them, but despite that, he suspected he could've set off a bomb, and not have registered; they were staring so intensely at each other.
"Harry, get the hell out." So much for that illusion.
"Look who wants a fair fight," Spike seemed even more amused then before. "When did that soul of yours instill the need for the Marquis De Queensbury rules?"
"This business is ours. We don't need any---"
Harry was sick of this back and forth. "Stupefy!" he cast at Spike without thinking.
The bleached blonde managed to dodge it with a roll to the side. "Little hint, Mr. Potter. Next time, you want to try your big magic, you might want to try something more advanced on someone who survived the last four wizarding wars."
Harry was beginning to think this might be true. Nevertheless, he wasn't going to listen to Spike anymore than Drusilla.
"And how exactly do you plan on getting away now that your vampire cohorts have become so much dust?" he shot back.
"You really think I would risk coming out second in a street fight with the two of you?" he shot back. "No, I have an ace in the hole."
Harry heard a single pop. Even knowing what this meant, he still wasn't that worried. "That's your backup. One wizard," he scoffed.
"Just one riot, isn't there?" Spike gave a sinister smile. "'Sides, what makes you so sure that it's a wizard?"
And then Harry knew. Even before he turned around, he knew.
"Look who's come to play," Drusilla spoke in the kind of tone that would turn a Muggle’s bowels to ice. Harry was not surprised that it had a similar effect on him.
"There's power in this one. All red and gold. I wonder what that kind of powers tastes like?" The vampire emerged from the shadows.
Angel was clearly unnerved a little himself. "Dru, this isn't your fight. Take Spike and----"
"Silencio." The dark-haired vampire barely made a wave of her hand, and Angel was rendered speechless. "Naughty daddy, speaking out of turn. He will have no cakes and ale today."
"Always hated the sound of that man's voice," Spike replied.
Now Harry was worried. Where the hell was Faith?
"Not so little a boy anymore, is he?" Drusilla sniffed the air. "Eh. He stinks of Slayer."
Harry could've lived a lifetime without hearing those particular words from that source. "Shut up," he found himself saying.
"You and Miss White Trash," Spike again made the clucking sound with his teeth. "I gotta say, something of a let down."
"Said the pot to the kettle," The words were out of his mouth before he could restrain himself
For the first time, Spike seemed a little disturbed. "All right, let's leave women out of it," he said shortly.
"Oh my," Harry knew this was dangerous, but he needed to buy time. "Does William perhaps feel a bit jealous? What's that line about loving a lass below your station?"
"I wouldn't run my mouth around someone who can bleed you dry." Yes, Spike was definitely upset about something. Shame Harry couldn't figure out what it was. Come on, Faith, where the hell are you?
He tried a different tact. "After so many encounters with the Dark Lord, you really think I'm going to be scared of upsetting a lousy bloodsucker?"
"As someone who was killing Slayers before Tommy was even conceived, and who had no trouble burning wizards alive, I would really consider who I decided to piss off."
Great. Spike sounded like he was sure of himself again. "Not afraid of him, why should you worry me?" Harry countered.
Uh, oh. Now the bleached vamp was smiling at him. "You're barking up the wrong tree, prophecy boy."
And suddenly Harry realized he had concentrated his efforts on one vampire at the expense of the older and far more dangerous childe.
"My boys, fighting over me," Drusilla was practically in his face
"I'm not your boy."
Harry prepared to cast a Lumos spell--- he couldn't miss at this range. Except when he tried to reach for his wand, his hands could not move.
"Quiet, my little lion," Drusilla was just waving a finger in front of his eyes--- that was all. Yet for some reason he couldn't take his eyes out of Drusilla's face.
"See in me." Her voice was so soothing. The idea of fighting became as foreign a concept as algebra. And he was so very tired, just a little rest couldn't hurt...
"Get your hands off of him."
Harry could hear Faith's voice, but it barely registered. If it had, he would have noticed that for the first time in the week that he'd known her, the dark-haired Slayer sounded a little wound up.
"Go away, little fly." Drusilla face was a lot nearer to his neck than was probably good for him, but for some reason, he couldn't find a way to put up a fight.
Then Spike spoke up for the first time, and he sounded a little bit worried. "Um, angelfish, could really use a bit of a hand here,"
Feeling like his neck weighed a ton, Harry managed to turn his head towards Spike. Almost casually, he noticed that Faith had somehow managed to turn the tables on the vamp, and now had him in a choke hold.
However, this registered a lot higher on Drusilla's radar then his, and she lifted her focus on to Faith. Suddenly, his head felt like it had just gone through a session of Occulumency with Snape, and he snapped out of it.
"Take your hands off my boy," Drusilla actually sounded more menacing than she had when she was hypnotizing Harry.
"Fine, you take your hands off mine," Faith countered. "It's been a long night for all of us. How about we walk away and get some rest? Maybe things will look a lot clearer in the morning."
Drusilla let out an inhuman moan. "Nobody gets to punish my boy but me," she uttered.
"Not that---- a part of me isn't--- flattered---- by all the attention--- but could we perhaps---- have this discussion---- without the bloody--- stakes this close to the heart."
"Not in a position to be giving orders," Faith whispered.
"And you're not in a position to lecture vampires."
Several things happened simultaneously. Spike whirled around, and heaved Faith over his shoulder---- the damn vampire had obviously been playing possum. Somehow, this managed to break the remainder of the somnolence that had been gripping Harry, and, admittedly without thinking, he ran towards Faith. He therefore completely ignored Drusilla once again, and didn't even notice that she was readying a bolt of magical energy--- until it knocked him to the ground.
Harry was sure that he was dead. There was no way that two of the deadliest vampires would go to this much trouble and not finish the job. Then he realized that neither had changed to their demon face, and Drusilla clearly hadn't cast the Killing Curse.
"Quite a mess your little friends have got themselves in," Spike now sounded self-assured--- not a good sign. "If it was strictly up to me, I'd be really careful about what I did next."
And suddenly, Harry realized that during the entire fight Angel had been nowhere to be found.
"Luv, it might not be the worst idea to allow Captain Hairdo back his voice for this," Spike replied. "Just remember, keep him still."
Harry tried to turn to the where Angel had been speaking, and found he couldn't move his neck. For that matter, he couldn't seem to feel his legs. He tried to call to Faith and found he couldn't.
The bitch petrified me. I think we're in real trouble here.
"Spike, you've wanted me dead for the last year; I'm a little curious as to why you haven't taken your shot," Angel sounded even more wary than he should have
"Oh, believe me that's going to happen," Spike was telling me. "The question is, how many people do you plan take with you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't be mean," Drusilla told them. "You took a piece of the Dark One. That's not done in polite circles."
Harry knew that no matter how much he wanted Dru's help, Voldemort would never have revealed what a Horcrux was to her. The idea that the vampire had the sight suddenly took on a lot more reality.
To his credit, Angel maintained his poker face. "And what's it to you if I did? Last I heard, your whole attitude towards wars in general was that you wanted to be close enough to taste the blood. But you never got involved yourself."
Spike chuckled. "Emperor Pureblood seems to think he's going to rule the world. You and I both know he doesn't have a chance in hell of succeeding. But he can make a damn mess of things for us just like he did the last time he came around. So I'm going to make sure that I have some leverage over the bastard."
Had Harry the capability, his jaw would have dropped. Was Spike really saying what he thought he was?
"Don't tell me you’re fighting on the side of truth and justice,." Angel clearly didn't buy this.
"Just protecting myself. Now I don't know what's in that little package you stole earlier tonight," Spike told them. "Frankly, I don't care. But it's valuable to Tom, which makes it valuable to us."
"This is a joke, right?' Faith replied. "You're going to try and outmaneuver the deadliest wizard in the world."
"Which, on the scale of some of the real nasties out there, is like saying he's the deadliest termite," Spike smiled at their discomfort. "Oh, come on. If he really was that deadly, why on earth would he come to Dru and me practically begging for our help?"
This certainly seemed to fit the visions that Harry had been getting, but even if he could talk, he had no intention of revealing that to Spike.
"If you're really on our side, why..."
"We're not on anybody's side," Spike told them. "There are a couple of areas where Voldy’s and our interests coincide---- that's all. He wanted us to do something that he couldn't. While we're here, we're going to cash in all the little IOU's we left the last time we came to this bloody town."
"So what makes you think we'll help you?" Faith demanded.
Spike ignored her and turned to Angel. "I don't bear Potter or Faith any old grudges. Far as I'm concerned, they want to go on fighting for the side of truth and puppies, I don't have a problem with that. 'Course," he turned to his beloved. "Can't say the same for Dru."
Dru was fixing Harry with a stare that, despite his condition, made his skin crawl. "So much light in this one. Shame if we had to blot it out."
"Take me instead."
"Again, not clear on the concept. " Spike replied. "Either way, you die. Give us the package, they live. Don't," now Spike showed his game face, "your last moments on earth are spent watching these two bleed out."
"Angel, don't listen to this dye job!" Faith was shouting.
"Your choice. You have to the count of three," Spike walked over towards Harry, and picked him up. "One. Two. Thr---"
"All right!" Angel finally shouted.
"Always the martyr," Spike shook his head. "Dru, lighten the spell, so that he can walk."
Dru barely nodded her head, and then Angel could move. "Him and me are going to get the cup. If I'm not back in five minutes, gut the bitch."
Faith, who had been struggling under Drusilla's grip, managed to maneuver enough so that she could hawk a loogie at him. "Fuck you, Blondie!"
Spike actually let his game face disappear before staring at Faith. "If only there were time," he said slowly. "Tell me, Potter, what's she like in the sack?"
Harry focused all of his energy at trying to kick the vampire's feet out from under him. He managed to get one foot to move an inch.
"Everybody's so touchy when they're paralyzed," Spike turned to Angel. "Let's go."
This really did have the trademarks of a nightmare, right down to just being able to watch as everything he'd worked for during the last day disappeared from sight. Then there was the fact he didn't trust Drusilla to stay clear of them one bit.
"So much power," Oh, this vampire was definitely a Lestrange, which said a lot about the sanity of this particular family. "Held so peacefully. Round the catch, the blackberry patch."
Harry was having a hard time believing that Faith was remaining motionless of her own free will, even if Drusilla was as powerful as everything seemed to indicate. He also didn't think she was stable enough to keep a track of time. Spike's word to the contrary, he was sure that the two of them were dead.
And he kept thinking that right until the arrow struck Drusilla in the shoulder.
Three things happened in quick succession--- Drusilla loosened her grip on Faith, Faith hit Dru in the stomach, and the paralysis that had gripped Harry for the last few minutes lightened up enough for him to grab for his wand.
Dru let out a moan and a howl., simultaneously. "Who dares spoil the party?"
Another arrow flew through the air. This time, however, Dru waved her hand at it, and it froze right where it was. "Bad dog, bad dog!"
"And you, my friend, are a dirty skunk."
Harry practically got whiplash looking back to see that their savior was ----- "Xander?!"
"I told Buffy she should've held on to the machine gun; I was such a better shot with that," Xander said as he emerged from the night.
Faith managed to recover from her shock a lot quicker, and began to whale on Drusilla. However, the vampire clearly was only crazy, not stupid. Seeing that she was, for the moment, outnumbered, she disapparated.
"I'm never gonna get used to that," Xander told them.
"Not that I'm ungrateful, but couldn't you have revealed yourself before we were about to die?" Harry demanded.
"I'm the cavalry. It's against the rules for us to show up until the last minute," The confidence that was on Xander's face disappeared. "Besides, I'm not a Slayer. I might stand a chance of surprising Sid or Nancy, not both. Frankly, I'm a little surprised the lunatic didn't know that I was there."
"How much of that little dialog did you hear?"
"Enough to know that we have to save Angel. Again," Xander sighed. "You know, you'd think after two hundred plus years he'd know how to save himself by now."
"We have to find the Horcrux; anything else has to come second to that." Harry told them.
"Maybe as an added bonus we can take out the bleached loudmouth?" Faith wondered.
"I'm sure Buffy wouldn't mind if we handled this part of the job," Xander came up short. "Of course, that assumes that we know where Angel is taking Spike."
That got all of them worried for a minute. "Harry, is there any kind of spell that you can cast in order to find them?" Faith demanded.
Harry was about to say no, then remembered something that Hermione had taught them a few months back. "REVEALO ESTE!"
A small bright trail resembling a whitish-gold spill appeared on the ground. "If I'm guessing right, that's the residual energy from the dark magic Voldemort put on the cup," Harry told them. "Hopefully, we can use it to follow Angel's trail right back to Spike."
"Why does that sound even less fun than it probably will be?" Xander asked.
"'Cause you're still not living right." Faith sounded rejuvenated. "You mind if I lead?"
"Last I checked, you and Harry are the ones with superpowers; I'm just a guy with a crossbow,"
"You did just save our lives," Harry pointed out.
"I was aiming for the bitch's heart," Xander told them. "Plus, who wants to bet she heads straight for her man?"
Harry wouldn't take that bet, choosing to focus on the magical trail.
None of them were particularly surprised to find that it led to an open manhole. "It's the middle of the night, and he has to take the longest possible route?" was all that Harry said.
"Personally, I gave up trying to figure that bastard's reasoning even before he lost his soul," Xander replied. "Besides, it's like a maze down there. Probably the safest place in the world to hide anything."
"HP, you'd better lead. We're going to need the light."
Harry nodded, but first waved the wand below. Not surprisingly, it didn't reveal much. "Why do I feel like we're about to get eaten alive?" he asked.
"That's 'normal' for Sunnydale residents," Xander pointed out. "Congratulations, you've gone native."
They headed carefully down the ladder, Harry leading, Faith in the middle, Xander bringing up the rear. The trail grew brighter as they walked forward, but Harry didn't know whether it was good or bad, and decided to worry about it after they found the cup. Right now, Angel coming back alive was a secondary concern and he knew that they wouldn't need to take a vote.
Harry wasn't sure how far they had to backtrack before they heard voices.
"Most valuable magical prize in the world, and you stash it in a sewer grate," Spike was saying.
"He allowed it to be displayed in a museum. That's how much he gave a damn about it," Angel replied. "I don't care if you take me out of the game, but you know if you do, Buffy will kill you."
"Or maybe she'll get how the librarian got when you decided to take out his little chickadee, " Spike replied slyly. "It's amazing how fast love makes you her bitch."
"You should know."
"Going after the girl, so last year," Spike clucked his tongue. "You never did get much with the times. I'd tell you to work on it, but you and I both know that's never going to happen. Any last words?"
"Yeah," Faith said as she spoke up. "Say hi to your girlfriend for me."
They had moved relatively soundlessly, but neither vampire seemed surprised to see any of them there. Their hearing really was as good as they thought it was.
"It's been too short for you to have taken out Dru, and not long enough for Buffy to have saved your ass," Spike replied. "I was serious about the deal, so just let me and Peaches get this finished, and then we all walk away."
"Hey, I'm pretty sure that you can sell tickets to the whole 'dusting Angel'; I'm only sorry that Giles isn't here to see it," Xander replied. "But we went to a hell of a lot of trouble to get this cup, and I really don't want to just hand it over."
Spike was genuinely amused. "This is a possession more valuable then the Star of India, and your argument boils down to 'Finders Keepers'?"
"How about we get the cup, and you finish staking Angel?" Harry countered. "I think that's what the Muggles refer to as a 'win-win'.
"Right in the room, goddamn it!" Angel finally broke out. "No one is getting this cup without---"
And the situation turned positively surreal, because that's when the canister was rolled in.
"What the hell is that?" Harry demanded.
But apparently the part of Xander's brain that was still a soldier worked a lot faster, because his reactions were quicker for once, and he pushed Harry to the ground.
Spike looked more amused, until it detonated, and the once dark sewers were illuminated with five times the brightness of normal.
Harry wasn't quite sure what happened next. He dimly recalled a second canister rolling, the room filling with some kind of gas... and then he blacked out