12: Family Reunion
Tires screeched to a halt leaving a burning rubber track on the old cement of the underground parking garage. Angel recognized Spike’s DeSoto the moment he saw it. The bastard was still here. Having tried calling both Cordelia and Doyle from his cell phone after leaving Sunnydale, he expected the worst.
Possessing the Gem of Amarra could be considered a blessing, but the power it rendered was going to make him a target. Spike was just going to be the first in a never-ending line of vampires who wanted its magic. Now he realized that such a threat was not just going to affect him, but his friends, too.
Angel did not bother with subtlety—or using his keys.
A powerful kick knocked the steel door off its hinges. He stepped into his apartment and leaped down the stairs. “Spike!” He could tell that neither of his friends was present, which meant the other vampire was playing a dangerous game.
“Took you long enough,” Spike said by way of a greeting as he slowly rose from his stretched out position on the couch. “My crew back in Sunnydale told me you left over an hour ago. They’re a useless bunch for the most part. Coulda saved me the trip.”
Beyond beating Spike to a bloody pulp, he didn’t really have a plan. Angel crossed the room in a flash throwing the other vampire across the room. Heat coursed through his veins, a rush of added power. The uppercut Spike threw barely registered. Angel slammed his head into a concrete pillar and held him there.
Fangs bared, he growled closely, “You’ve got five seconds to tell me what you’ve done to Cordelia and Doyle.”
“Right to the point, then. I see you’ve got my ring.”
“Where are they?”
“Let me go and I’ll tell you.”
Angel released his hold, but didn’t step back, crowding Spike against the wall as he awaited an answer. “Well?”
“I’m getting to it. Impatient bastard.”
He wanted the truth. Now.
Giving him some room, Angel moved aside hoping that it would put Spike into a cooperative mood. Instead, the second he gave him an inch Spike dashed across the room jumping onto the coffee table, and then the couch, his black boots leaving dark scuffmarks in his wake. “Maybe we’ll have a little fun, first,” he said, reaching for one of the swords hanging on a wall display.
Impatience weighted him down for a moment as Angel anticipated the attack. “Try it,” he growled encouraging Spike to make the charge.
Brandishing the sword from atop the coffee table again, Spike suddenly launched it like a spear toward Angel who did not bother to move out of the way. Half expecting it to bounce off him, he felt the sharp steel pierce his skin sliding deep into his gut. It almost tickled. Angel heard Spike let out a shout of surprise, but it sounded far away, as he stared down in shock at the blood seeping from the wound.
Wasn’t he supposed to be invulnerable?
Angel closed his hand over the hilt pulling swiftly to get the blade out. By the time he reached down to check it the wound was already closed. Much faster than normal vampire healing, he realized amazed at the speed of his recovery, and without the need for blood.
So, that was how it worked.
“Just testing the ring, mate,” Spike jumped back down to the floor, his tone casual. “Not what I expected, but it does the trick.”
“I asked you a question. Where are they?”
Spike got to the point. “Give me the ring and I’ll give you Cordelia, and the other one. Bonus deal. Two for one.”
Thinking of what might have been done to them, Angel imagined wrapping his hand around Spike’s neck and squeezing until it cracked under the pressure. “If you’ve hurt….”
“Don’t be daft. She’s fine. They’re both fine. Hardly a scratch or bruise between them.”
He would judge that for himself as soon as he found them. “Answer the question.”
“All I want is my ring.”
“Might as well go home, Spike. The Gem of Amarra stays with me. There’s a reason Buffy wanted me to have it.”
Spike scoffed, “Right. To piss me off!” He eyed the ring on Angel’s hand as if planning to forcibly remove it.
“You know what it can do,” Angel said by way of a warning squaring off against another futile attack.
All it did was wind Spike up again. “Which is why I want my bloody ring! That little bitch stole it from me,” he seethed at the injustice of the slayer taking what was his. “This is bollocks!”
“Because you want it or because she gave it to me?”
“Peaches, giving you the Gem of Amarra is the slayer’s biggest cock up yet. Think about it.”
Angel didn’t want to think about anything except getting his friends back, but if putting up with Spike’s jealous little gripe session was going to get his point across he would do it. “Spike, you’re not in any position to talk to about screwing things up. You are so caught up in your latest power play with Buffy you can’t see that it is just dragging you down. I hear Drusilla left you.”
“Don’t go there. Leave her out of this.”
“Like you left Cordelia out of it?”
Angel watched as Spike growled and paced across the carpet, a bundle of energy set to explode. Part of him wanted to keep prodding. To give him another excuse to beat him down.
“Get it through your thick skull. The next time your soul goes poof Angelus will have the ring. No one on this side of hell could stop you. Not even the Slayer.”
Contradicting everything the Watcher had predicted about the power of the ring, the idea rankled him. After all, the combined resources on the Gem of Amarra said nothing about protecting vampires from curses. Was the theory so far-fetched? A hint of doubt started to creep in despite the hours Angel had spent pouring over tomes in the Watcher’s special collection.
Despite Giles’ theories on the ring’s potential, Angel remembered that the original plan had been to destroy the ring rather than give it to him. If anyone besides Buffy had a right to want Angelus permanently restrained, it would be her Watcher.
“Look at what I’m trying to accomplish here, at the good I can do with the ring. Angelus won’t be a threat. The gem’s power can secure my soul.”
“Part of me prefers you without the sappy soul. Decades of terror and revolution and blood. No one to stop us. Until you toyed with the wrong girl and ended up cursed by gypsies.”
“What’s your point?”
“That you should go back to being a good little monk and keep it in your pants. Magic is magic. Miracle cures aren’t on the menu. That gem won’t save your soul.”
Angel held onto that one hope. “It will.”
“You’re as much of a selfish bastard as ever. What happens when those Cordelicious kisses go too far?” Spike prodded him along. Waggling his eyebrows, he smirked saying, “If anyone was made for a good shag…”
Angel rammed his fist into Spike’s face before he finished the sentence.
Staggering back, Spike leaned up against the wall to recover. “Not wrong am I?” He paused to stare at Angel who glared back at him thinking that torturing the messenger might be just as satisfying as a kill. After all, he still had to get Cordelia & Doyle’s location out of him.
He was about to bring up the subject again when Spike finally asked, “What about Buffy?”
It was a serious question, Angel noted, but one that left him confused. He had already put a ‘closed’ sign on that chapter. Buffy had nothing to do with the here and now.
“She’s done this for you, given you a way to secure your soul—even if it is a bunch of guff. Tried to make it safe for you to get it together with her.” Spike sneered looking like he was ready to rip Angel apart over the idea.
There was a time Angel might have held that over his head. Not anymore. “Buffy and I are finished.” He had priorities and they did not involve fighting over a girl who could handle the unwanted attentions of a vampire. If Spike had a crazy idea that Buffy could ever want another vampire lover, Angel figured he would put that idea out of his head. “She’s got a boyfriend. A human one.”
“That tosser! There’s something off about him.”
Angel could not disagree, but it was not really his business anymore. Still, it didn’t hurt to use it as an excuse to get Spike out of town. “Maybe you should check into it. Right after you tell me where you’ve stashed Cordelia and Doyle.”
“Somewhere in the city limits. They’re a bit tied up at the moment,” Spike joked as he plonked down in Angel’s favorite chair. “Manny the Pig has them in his van. Driving around in circles. Waiting for orders.”
“So this is your plan…trusting a guy named Manny the Pig with my friends? With Cordelia!” Angel reached down to grab a fist full of cotton and leather and hauled Spike out of his chair with a sharp yank.
Managing to shrug, Spike admitted, “He seemed keen to take on the job. Something about the Dolt owing him.”
“Call him,” ordered Angel trying to rein his anger back in. Struggling with it, he glared hostilely, voice clipping coldly, “Get them back here now.”
Spike reached down into the pocket of his leather duster and pulled out a cell phone. Flipping it open, he waited to be released. He looked down at the alphanumeric keypad, staring at it blindly for a moment, making Angel think that he might have forgotten the number of the soon-to-be-dead Manny the Pig.
After a long pause, Spike glared at him almost accusingly as if doubting the truth. “You’re really done with the Slayer? No more Scooby Gang patrols…long lost lover reunions… bleeding heart Valentines… puppies nailed to the door… soul-stealing shags?”
“We’ve moved on. It’s over. Barring another apocalypse I have no plans to go back to Sunnydale.”
Spike closed the flip phone. “You want your friends. You want the ring. Seems you want a lot and I get nothing in return.”
Impatiently, Angel let out a frustrated growl. “What do you want?”
“What say you and me make a deal?”
Wondering if he was going to regret it, Angel responded cautiously, “I’m listening.”
“Before we get to the negotiations there is one little catch. Might need to take care of it before we bring home your hot little bed warmer and pal.”
Angel couldn’t really blame Spike for jumping to the conclusion that Cordelia was his lover, but he did not have to make it sound so crude. He opted for giving him a hard stare instead of breaking his jaw. It might be hard for him to explain this little catch or to make that call to Manny the Pig if he could no longer talk.
“Marcus is in town.”
No further explanation was required. Angel knew Spike referred to a vampire who specialized in the skill of torture. Their paths had never crossed, but Marcus’ reputation as an expert at drawing out secrets, at keeping his victims alive for lengthy periods of interrogation, or simply for the pleasure of the torture itself, was well known to supernatural circles.
Normally, the heads-up would be useful information, but Angel had a feeling this was all part of Spike’s plan. “You brought him here.”
Spike did not deny it. “I might have told him he could torture you into telling me where you stashed the Gem of Amarra.”
“You’d get the ring and he’d…”
“Get to torture you. It’s his thing.”