The heavy steel door slammed shut. Every passing second allowed Isobel more time to escape. Spike peered through swollen lids at Angel’s stony stance. Unmoving, he faced the door, time ticking away. He had always liked the chase. Any second now, he would take off after the bitch. Let her know just who he was and why he wasn’t going to let her get away with threatening Drusilla, or his lush little kitten—and not forgetting damaging Spike’s natural good looks.
Spike waited, but Angel made no move toward the door. Instead, he turned toward him, fierce demonic features fading back to a human veneer. “Let’s go.”
“’Bout time,” he grunted. Ignoring the fact that he could barely move despite the loosened bindings, Spike was already envisioning turning the tables on Isobel. “Get me out of these chains, mate. It’s not too late to pick up her trail.”
When Angel matter-of-factly informed him that they were going to do no such thing, Spike thought he had lost his mind. It was not anything Isobel had done to convince him to let her go. No, this was all Angel’s lamebrain idea.
“That little bitch tortured me,” Spike growled the reminder as if the bleeding wounds and bruises were not enough evidence. His arm dropped heavily to his side as Angel released him from one of the manacles biding his wrists. Wincing, he slowly curled his fingers into a fist. “She hurt Dru.”
Angel unshackled his other wrist setting him free. The weighty chains dropped to the floor, but the support they provided was also gone. Wavering on his feet, Spike tried to maintain his balance.
“This isn’t the time for revenge,” warned Angel pulling him back to his feet. “I let her go for a reason.”
Stupidity. Good reason. All he had to do was follow her back to her lair, put a stake through her sire and end this. “Yeah, that got something to do with the Angelus act? Don’t think I didn’t notice you know all about Blondie’s sire.”
Tight-jawed, Angel glared at him, a darkness showing in his eyes that Spike hadn’t seen since before the Slayer sent him on a little trip to hell. He had been soulless then and dangerous enough to scare Spike into a temporary alliance with Buffy Summers.
“Can you walk?”
Avoiding the subject was only making him more curious. Spike took a tentative step forward testing out the strength of his legs. “What makes you think he’ll give a rat’s ass about your threats? Not ex—,” toppling forward he let out a shout as his legs gave out.
A strong arm stretched out catching him mid chest and holding him up. Angel let out a grunt of irritation. “This is one reason we’re not going after Isobel. You’re too weak to fight.”
Bollocks. “Just gathering my strength.”
“But it’s not the main reason,” Angel said ignoring his attempt at bravado. “I made a promise to Dru tonight.”
Spike nodded knowingly. “She’s at the mansion.” He had figured as much. Ran straight home to Daddy. “Let’s get on with it, then. You gonna give us our old room back? Good memories in that room.”
Coming to a halt, Angel let out a harsh laugh. “You’re not going anywhere near the mansion. I’ll set you up at my old apartment. You can stay there until you’re healed up.”
He gave Angel a weak shove. “The hell I am.”
“Dru’s safest at the mansion,” Angel knew exactly what he was protesting about.
It was not that he did not want Drusilla to be protected. It was the idea that she would be with Angel again. Even if her sire was all soulful at the moment and enraptured with the cheerleader, there was still that basic urge to be around him.
Spike didn’t want Dru doing anything that was going to get her staked. This wasn’t just a matter of protecting Drusilla. “You’ve got your girl stashed there, too. Well, don’t worry. I won’t hurt your little pet. Just let me see Dru.”
Hands on his chest, Spike tried to look sincere about it. Other than the obvious, he had no interest in Cordelia Chase. That was something he could put aside in order to ensure Dru’s safety. ‘Gelus could have his pet and he could have Dru. Simple. He started toward the door on his own hating that he walked like an old man in need of a crutch. No way was he letting Angel keep him from Dru.
Spike stopped dead in his tracks when Angel announced, “Buffy and Faith are staying there.”
“Quite the harem you’ve got,” Spike snorted. “No wonder you don’t want me horning in.”
Angel glowered at him and moved ahead to open the door. “That’s right, Spike. Now you know.” His voice smacked of sarcasm. “Now will you shut up and get moving?”
Spike kept on going. By the time they reached the Plymouth, he had worn Angel down by convincing him that in his current state he could not possibly be a threat to anyone at the mansion. With two Slayers around to keep an eye on things, there would be nothing he could do. Besides, he could be trusted. No, really. He had kept his mouth shut when Isobel was trying to pry the truth out of him.
Hell, he might even offer to help. After all, it would be one way of getting revenge on Isobel and her mysterious sire.
“Fine,” Angel sighed resignedly as he opened the driver’s side door. “You can stay—conditionally. No matter how tempted you are to go for his throat, Xander Harris is off limits. The same goes for the watchers. Don’t bait the Slayers into a fight and try to keep Dru from doing something stupid.”
Smirking inwardly, Spike slid into the passenger seat and shut the door. Looking at the convertible, he commented, “Nice ride. You forgot to say what happens if I take a shine to Cordelia.”
Angel revved the engine. Though he said it with a smile, “Don’t,” his eyes glittered with deadly earnest.
“Go fish,” Xander smirked from behind his cards drawing a glare from Faith. He gave her a shrug. “Hey! It’s not my fault that I have no sevens.”
There were other games Faith would rather be playing and they did not involve cards or Xander Harris for that matter. Buffy was out patrolling the grounds while she got stuck babysitting Vampirella. She glanced at Drusilla who pressed her own cards to close her chest as if anyone would really bother to cheat.
“Your turn,” Faith sighed with boredom.
Drusilla took a peek at her cards then turned her dark brown eyes upon her as if boring deep into her soul. “I will have your fives, Slayer— both of them.”
Having forgotten what cards she possessed, Faith fingered through the handful of playing cards finding the five of hearts and the five of spades. She frowned. Two fives. Go figure.
While handing them over, the click of Cordelia’s heels approached across the parquet floor. “You do realize you’re playing card games with a seer. Dru gets visions, hello!”
Faith tossed the rest of her cards face down on the table. “Screw this.” The fact that Drusilla won all three games suddenly made sense. Glaring accusingly at Xander, she barked, “You knew about that, didn’t you?”
Xander kept his mouth shut and shrugged earning him a smile and a pinched cheek as Dru leaned close. Jumping out of her chair, Faith warned her, “Keep your mitts off the goods. Angel told you to lay off.”
“Yeah,” Xander agreed and leaned as far away as he could get while still seated. “No pinching.”
A snort sounded from Cordelia. “At least it was your cheek this time.”
Keeping Drusilla occupied while Angel was away had been a challenge. At first, Faith had been amused over Xander’s enthrallment and his reaction once it wore off. What was it with that boy that kept Dru coming back for more? She was toying with him, but not in an obvious vampire-victim way.
“I can’t believe you three are playing cards,” Cordy’s irritation cut clearly through her thoughts. Mulling over Xander Harris was like trying to solve one of the mysteries of the universe, unfathomable, but potentially worth exploring. “Angel is out risking his life to save Spike.”
Faith inwardly agreed. She would much rather be kicking some ass alongside Angel than playing babysitter. “Stop pacing and just chill, Cor. It’s not like he was gonna let any of us tag along.”
She understood what was bugging Cordelia. Not doing anything was getting to her. Willow was with Wesley and Giles planning some hocus-pocus defenses. They’d refused any extra help. Buffy was patrolling, which was a good thing because it meant she was out of their hair for the moment, but someone had to stick around to keep an eye on Dru.
Rising gracefully from her chair, Drusilla moved to Cordelia’s side and draped an arm around her shoulder. Faith watched every little move, ready for anything, but there was no sign of nervousness on her friend’s face. She simply accepted the comforting gesture as it was intended. “Do not fear for Angel, my sweet. He will return to us.”
The way she said it made it seem like there was going to be one big family reunion. Faith really did not like the sound of that.