Foiled Again.

Angel walked into the warehouse he had put the Sunnydale group in, tapping on the wall before walking into the main area. "Have some new information," he said, heading for the table where Buffy and Giles had put up maps. "We have installations here and here," he said, pointing at the miniature buildings on the sand table. "And there's a command post here," he said, moving a stick down into a large bare spot. "Underground."

"How do you know that? What Spike told us. . . ." Giles started but Angel just smiled.

"Spike didn't lie," Angel said, "but Spike has a horrible sense of direction. Have him tell you about the time he and Dru got lost and wandered back into a village that was going to burn them."

Xander snorted from the sitting area, looking up. "It's good to know that he isn't perfect."

"Nowhere near-perfect," Angel said, walking over to sit across from him, ignoring Willow completely. "How are you feeling? Hungry? Antsy? Wanting to go hunt?"

"Not hungry, Buffy's been letting me bite her finger every other day. I am a little antsy though, it's like I *have* to get up and do something, but I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing."

"That's the hunting instinct. It's very strong in my family." He shrugged at Giles' dirty look. "Usually, if you could just get out and be around people, it'll calm down." He looked over his shoulder and leaned closer. "I'm not going to suggest the other cure, it's probably not going to be real popular right now."

"Other cure?" Xander asked, shaking his head and closing his eyes. "Never mind. Yeah, it's not a popular option. Usually it's not a popular option at all."

//Popular option?// Oz sent from his position in front of the books. //And where is the Chronicle of the Slayers through the Renaissance?//

"Second shelve, other bookcase," Xander called. //Sex. It's almost the same as hunting when you look at it in the chemical releases way.//

//Ah. Thanks.// Oz walked over, sitting so he could watch Xander. "If you needed to go out for a while, I'm sure it could be made safe. As long as you weren't alone."

"I could send him out with Spike," Angel offered. "He's been antsy too. He's ready to rip Cordy a new one right now. He's even gotten into a few brawls with Doyle." He frowned.

"Doyle won?" Buffy suggested as she came over to sit, having to take the seat beside Willow. Angel nodded with a smile. "One for the good guys," she said happily. "I'm going to need to train soon too," she told Xander, looking directly at him. "You're the only one of us who has some sort of combat knowledge, from the soldier at Halloween."

"Yeah, once we have a plan in place, I'll see what I can show you."

Angel cleared his throat. "There are other people who want to see them overthrown. If you're willing to work with groups that you don't know and a few that would normally be your enemies."

"If it gets the job done, I can believe in a few weeks of truce," Buffy said, nodding after a few seconds thought. "We can always go back to fighting for control after that."

"Good," Angel said, standing up. "I'll send Spike over to take Xander out and teach him some fledgling skills." He shook his head at Giles' worried look. "Spike does those lessons so much better than I do. He already had the skills and taught me new things. Xander will be fine with him. And if worse comes to worse, then Spike can get into a bar fight and Xander can come home."

"Sounds good to me," Xander said, grinning at Giles. "Please, oh teacher mine?"

"Fine, but when you come back, I want you to sit down and work on your spell crafting. Your plain spells are still pitiful." Giles took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes. "I had hoped that you would be more willing to work on more normal spells recently."

"I have been," Xander reminded, holding up the book he was reading. "See, the second one today. You're the one who said I couldn't practice in here."

"That's because last time you turned a wall pink," Buffy pointed out, pointing at the wall.

"But that's what it was supposed to do," Xander reminded her. "Most of the normal spells we have here aren't for fighting. They're for domestic things. Cleaning the laundry and the dishes. Though, the one that called a helper might help some, depending on what we called to help."


"But, Giles. . . ."


"Yes, Giles," Xander sighed, grinning at Angel. "I'll gladly go out with him, in an hour?"

"Okay, I'll have him come over in an hour or so," Angel said, standing up. "I or Doyle will come back with him, we've got someone about to check in." He headed for the door. "Be careful."

"We are," Xander called. "I have a warning spell on the doors. We knew it was you a few minutes before you walked in."

Angel's laugh carried him outside.


Xander met Spike at the door, grinning nervously. "Come on, let's go."

"Not so fast, I gotta give somethin' to your teacher then I've been ordered to give you something too." He handed over a book. "That's yours. It's all defensive stuff." He headed into the back room, coming back a few minutes later. "That's tense," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "What happened this time?"

"Willow decided she was going to help." Xander tugged him out the door, shutting it behind them. "We have a truce pact right now, but that doesn't mean Oz or Giles have forgiven her. Or me I guess." He looked down at his feet. "I wouldn't be like this if it weren't for her."

Spike shook his head then punched Xander on the shoulder. "She gave you a gift and no one's being thankful?"

"Yeah, that's what she said," Xander said, looking up at him. "How'd you know?"

"I'd feel about the same way, but the bint's a little on the warped side right now. Startin' to remind me of my Dru." Xander shuddered. "Yeah, well, she's gone now. Never comin' back to us."

"Sorry, didn't know she had been staked." Xander awkwardly patted his arm.

"Nope, not like that. I wouldn't take the thing back after she'd been with what she's been with recently. Makes you look like a supermodel. And slime outta everywhere."


"Like I said, she's not comin' back to me." Spike shrugged. "So, hunting?" He rubbed his forehead.

"Or just out to have fun," Xander suggested with a grin. "I had to get out. Angel said you'd teach me stuff."

"I guess you are like a little brother so it falls to me, but that doesn't mean I have to like you," Spike added quickly.

"Hey, not asking for being liked. Maybe some lessons so I can control some of these urges sometimes. Like the sex urge? Is that *normal*?"

"For a full one of us, yeah," Spike said with a grin. "Never been a creature a vampire wouldn't shag." He patted down his pockets. "Damn pouf, stole my smokes again."

"We can stop for some," Xander told him. "Just don't get me into trouble when you steal them."

"Ha! Like they'd catch me."


Xander watched the other people across the club, trying to categorize them into something besides 'nummy food' and 'am I really that hungry', Spike's classifications. He felt his warning spell on the door, the one that told him who was walking up to it, start to tingle in the back of his head so he closed his eyes to 'look' for it. What he saw made him frown and shake his head, opening his eyes to find Spike standing there in front of him. "We've got to go back. The warehouse isn't as safe as Angel thought."

Spike closed his mouth. "Ah, I was just going to make fun of you napping." He shrugged, heading for the door. "Come on, whelp, we'd best get."

Xander followed him out, breaking into a run as soon as they made it onto the street. They were only six blocks away, that's why Spike had chosen that club, and Xander ran every bit of the distance. By the time he reached the door, he was panting and gasping for breath, but he walked through it, already knowing what he would find. He walked into the eerily quiet common area, heading for the sand table. He felt Spike walk up behind him just as he reached out to pick up the knight chess piece standing in the middle of the town's square. "The Initiative has them." He turned to find Spike just staring at him. "What?"

"How'd you know it was them?"

"My first spell was one to put on doors and my own back to tell me who and what was walking toward those places. That's why I had my eyes closed, to see if I could 'see' who was walking through the door. I just wish I had been able to link it to Giles or Oz. Or even Willow. Then they'd have had a chance." He looked around with a grimace. "Picked clean."

"Angel has enough stuff to get them," Spike said, grabbing Xander by the arm, pulling him toward the door. "Come on, we've got to get you to safety." He picked up the knight figure at the last second, dropping it into his duster's pocket on the way out the door. He let Xander go long enough to lock the warehouse's door, then resumed dragging him the two blocks to Angel's office.


Xander glared at Cordelia as she walked up to him with a cup of steaming something. "What?" he growled.

"Angel said you needed coffee." She handed him the cup, sitting beside him. "Want to talk about it?"

"Yeah, I went out because I was being selfish. I didn't listen to Giles when he said I needed to practice regular magic enough so I couldn't link my warning spell to him or Oz. I didn't even listen when Spike was trying to teach me how to hunt tonight."

"You did well enough from what he said," Angel said from the doorway. "I don't even know what a warning spell is, so I doubt Giles did."

"It was in one of Hila's books. It's a telltale on a door or something to tell you whose walking up to it or is near it." He sipped at the coffee, making a gross face. "What's that?"

"Coffee," Cordelia said, frowning at him. "We can't all be Starbucks you know."

"Yeah, but that tastes like you filtered it through dirty socks." He scratched his tongue. "Angel, I need spell books to study." The older vampire shook his head so he stood up in front of him. "I need something to do, otherwise I'm going to find myself on the way back there alone. Just give me something to do."

"All the spell books I have are advanced," Angel told him. "That one I sent you was the lightest I had."

Xander snorted. "Angel, I've been working on glyphs since I started learning under Giles. I may not be good with the little stuff but with the big stuff, I'm killer."

"Second shelf downstairs," Angel said quietly. "I want approval before you try anything."

"Fine," Xander said, heading for the stairs. "I'm going to study down there. That way I can have music." He let the door slam behind him.

Cordelia picked up the cup, tasting it, and wrinkled her nose. "Yup, definitely time to change the filter." She walked over to the coffeepot, pulling out the filter basket and dumping the contents. "Oh, when you make coffee does it usually turn the grounds that color?"

Angel just shook his head as someone started to throw up, hoping it was into a trash can. He walked into his office and closed the door, sitting behind his desk and picking up the phone.

Xander looked over the titles of the books, shaking his head. "That isn't what I need," he muttered, stopping in front of one book. "Tibetan self defense?"

"Not for you, pet," Spike said as he walked down the stairs. "You missed it, that coffee was moldy."

"Yeah, it tasted like it," Xander said with a grin. "No one ever said Cordy was domestic."

"True, havin' to drink that sludge for the last few days made me glad that Angel forced me to learn." He handed over a book. "I called in a favor to get you this."

"Why are you being so nice?" Xander asked, staring into his eyes. "And don't even try to lie."

"Because you're the best chance those other demons that weren't lucky enough to escape have." He turned, heading back up the stairs. "And the best chance I'll have to get this bleedin' chip out." The door at the top of the stairs slammed.

Xander sat on the couch, flipping through the book. "Yeah, this might help," he said, waving a lamp to turn it on. "Floating things is a good spell to know," he reminded himself. He picked up the knight that had been in the middle of the sand table back at the warehouse, looking at it. "What do you mean?"


Buffy struggled, breaking free of the men holding her, sneering at them until someone slapped her. She jumped the person, doing her best to tear him apart, growling the whole time. Her whole body ached from what they had done to her already, and she knew that she was going to go bad soon, but she wouldn't put up with this. At least they had left everyone else alone so far. She managed to hurt the person who had hit her enough that he backed away, hiding in a corner.

"Summers," a familiar voice said from behind her.

She spun, glaring at her ex-boyfriend. "So you are one of them," she said, trying to cross her arms, but wincing at the pain in her shoulders. "Let us go."

"I can't do that," Riley said, walking closer to her, hands out in front of him. "We can't take the chance that you'll act against us."

She snorted. "You're taking normal people hostage, Riley, how good is that?"

"Do you actually think that anyone cares that you and your friends were taken hostage?"

"Yeah, the ones that are dying." She shrugged. "What do you want?"

"We want to know what you are." He looked her over. "It's obvious to us that you're not a normal human."

"Try *Slayer*," she said, her voice dripping acid. He nodded, stepping away from her. "I demand to be taken back to my friends."

"No, I'm sorry. You're being drafted." She laughed, shaking her head. "Do it, Summers, the alternative isn't nice."

"Yeah, but even not nice is better than you. Even my ex at his worst is *way* better than you." She tightened her ponytail. "Just wait until I'm healed."

Riley walked away, waving at his men. They jumped toward her, grabbing her and dragging her through a door, ignoring her screaming the whole time. "We'll see," Riley said. "At least I have a reason to be doing this."


Xander looked up as someone turned down the radio for the third time in a few pages, glaring at Angel. "What? I need music to study to."

"I needed to talk to you." He lifted the book up to look at the title. "Spike find it for you?"

"Yeah, he said it was so he could get the chip out." Xander marked his spot and put the book down, pulling his feet up under him. "What's up? New information?"

"Yeah. They were after Buffy. They knew she wasn't human." Angel slumped down in his chair. "I think by now they know what she is. We're going to have to face the fact that they may have turned her against us. Maybe by brainwashing, maybe by chipping her too."

Xander's face became hard. "I can't kill her, I won't lie about it, but I can knock her out. I can even work against her from here." He popped his neck. "You said you had help, any other magical help? I think I'd like to coordinate with them."

"Just one," Angel said. "That was the other reason I came down. The only one I could get hold of was Ethan Rayne."

"Ethan Rayne? As in Giles' oldest enemy and former lover?" Angel snickered. "It was kinda obvious. Is he here?"

"Upstairs. Want me to bring him down?"

"Please. He has a lot more years of this under his belt. And maybe he can teach me some dirty tricks. Being nice isn't going to get them free," he explained at the frown.

"I know," Angel sighed, standing up, "but I can hope you'll stay ethical."

"Oh, I will. It may be my own personal code, but it'll happen that way."

"As long as I don't have to know," Angel said from the top of the stairs.

Xander was grinning and had picked back up the book to look at the index page when he heard another step coming down the stairs. He looked up, frowning at the man he saw there. "Gee, never thought I'd see you again." He got up, standing in front of the other warlock. "I will tell you this *once*. I'm going to save them, all of them, and you're going to help. And yes, that'll mean that you're going to be saving Giles, but oh well. If you don't like that, then bite me and go away."

Ethan Rayne laughed, patting Xander on the shoulder. "Oh, my, it's been a while since I've seen so fierce a sorcerer. Since Ripper went good actually." He looked the boy over, his mouth falling open. "It was you?" he asked.

"If you mean me, the one who was partially turned against his will, then yeah. And Giles is my teacher. Got it?"

"Definitely," Ethan said, walking around the boy to go over to the bookshelves. "Well, the vampire certainly has an esoteric collection, but not much here that will do us much good." He looked at Xander again. "Where are you at in your teaching?"

"I've mastered small stuff." Ethan groaned and turned away. "And a lot of glyphs. From the ones on the rocks in the town." Ethan turned back to him. "That's my main thing right now, I have problems with control when I try to cast normal spells." Xander walked over to sit on the couch again. "This is the book Spike found me. It's interesting but I'm not into walls. I can do a fair shield though." He looked up since he could feel the warlock behind him. "Want to help me learn it?"

"Yes, I think I should. Just to save the normals before you explode. Ripper always did have problems teaching control."

"You're not supposed to get it naturally?"

"No, boy, you're supposed to get it by practice." Ethan picked up the book and put it aside, picking up the knight chess piece. "What's this?"

"What the Initiative left as a calling card."

"Good, then levitate it. Exactly two feet off the table. You may be doing this to them and the better you can control your distances the better chance you have of confusing them."

Xander concentrated, doing as he had been ordered.


Buffy was thrown into the cell with the rest of the gang and Riley walked up behind the electric wall as soon as it closed. "What's this?" he asked, holding up a very familiar notebook.

Giles closed his eyes and muttered something under his breath, lighting the notebook on fire. "Nothing for you."

Oz stepped in front of the guy who had pointed his gun at Giles. "Do it," he offered. "I'm sure you'll get it back in kind."

Buffy sat up with Willow's help, grabbing her head. "I'm going to kill you," she growled. Giles looked at her in alarm. "I'm chipped."

Oz groaned. "Going to hurt the populace now?"

"Maybe." Buffy stood with a little help. "I'm not helping them, no matter how much pain the chip creates." She spit at Riley, watching the force field sizzle. "That'll be you soon."

Giles turned his back on the group, pulling Buffy over so he could look at the back of her head. "It should be fine, it's closing nicely." He looked into her eyes, silently giving her a message. She nodded, hanging her head, so he turned back to the soldiers. "I do believe you've just done your last evil act in this town."

Riley laughed as he walked away. "You'd be surprised what we're doing to help the people of this town."

Giles sneered at the other soldiers. "I'd like to see you people stop the Hellmouth from opening."

"It won't open ever again," one of them said, walking away. "We've made sure of it."

Giles shook his head. "And the defeat goes to the overconfident." He looked at Oz. "Can you?"

"No." He sat back down in his corner, pulling Buffy down beside him. "Not yet. We're outside of the range." Oz closed his eyes. "Maybe the strange dream thing will work this time."

Giles knelt in front of Buffy, giving her a hug. "How do you feel?"

"Angry and violated. And some of that's from the chip. They're individually programable." She looked at him. "They gave me a resistance is futile function, Giles. If I don't cooperate, I'll be hurting."

"Literally," Willow said. She frowned at the force field, making it shimmer and move. "Maybe we could do something." She was thrown back as the wall fought back, sending the energy bolt back at her. "Or not," she sighed, sitting where she had landed. "I don't know what to do."

"Sometimes force isn't the answer," Buffy said, closing her eyes, leaning her head on her upraised knees. "Sometimes you have to wait for backup."

"At least we know some is coming," Oz told her, patting her on the back of the head. "If we could talk to him, it'd be a lot better though."

"You should be able to do so in enough time," Giles told him gently. "Don't worry about it. Guard Buffy for now." He turned to look out at the other cells, wincing as he recognized some of the people there.


Xander leapt off the couch, jogging up the stairs. "I know how to short the chip to a degree," he said happily. Spike dropped his mug of blood, spraying Angel. "Eww. Grossening." He looked at the crunchy things in the blood. "What's that?"

"Wheatabix." Xander shook his head. "Shredded Wheat?"

"No, I knew what it was, I just was sickened by the thought. Oh, and Cordy, can I have your finger for a few minutes?"

"Depends, what are you going to do with it? I just got my nails done." She held up a hand so he could see her flesh-colored nail polish.

"I just need to nibble on it for a second." He picked it up, sliding his miniature fangs into the tip of her finger, filtering what he needed out of her blood. "Thanks."

She frowned, looking at the tip of her finger and the drop of blood gathering there. "If you needed a snack, there's bags downstairs in the fridge, Xander."

"Not for what he needs," Angel said as he walked into the office. "What's up?"

"I found a way to short the chip," Xander said, wiping the drool off his mouth. "You had pizza."

"No, I had a client that I met in a pizza parlor. Doyle had pizza. How?"

"I can't take it out, but I can short out it's programing. My dream showed me that they were all programmed differently."

"You're basing this on a *dream*?" Ethan said sarcastically. "And I thought Magic was arcane."

"No, Oz and I share dreams when we're too far apart for our bond but still reasonably close. This one was kinda fuzzy because he's so far away but he told me that all the chips are independently programmed. That means that it's got a neutral setting. I can short out the programming same way I could the VCR at Giles'." He looked at Spike. "It'll hurt for a few seconds but then you'll be able to do most everything again."

"Hey, I like the idea. Nothin' good ever came without pain." Spike looked at his Sire. "Let's do this."

"I want to hear more about this bond and the dream," Angel said, looking over his shoulder as the door opened. "Doyle, I want you to listen to Xander's idea and see if it makes sense."

"Sure." He handed over a bag. "Here, you're a growing boy."

Xander grinned. "Thanks, man. You don't know how much I love you right now." He turned and headed down the stairs, eating the pizza bread sandwich as he walked. "Come on, let me tell you about our bond."

"Show it by getting the bleedin' chip out," Spike called after them. He looked at Ethan. "You got an opinion, git?"

"Not a one," Ethan said, leaning back in his chair. "That boy is an odd mix of skills. He's got magic that's higher than mine that's all on instinct for him, and lesser skills that need refinement. The boy's not the one I want to train, Ripper is welcome to him."

Angel nodded. "Harris has always been an odd one," he agreed, heading for his office and closing the door.

Xander sat on the couch, licking his fingers off. "Thanks, Doyle, that was great. I really needed that." He balled up the bag, making sure it was empty, and tossed it on the table. "Okay, Oz and I have this bond thingy."

"Okay. Sight, hearing, or thoughts?"

"Hearing and thoughts, though hearing through his ears is really strange." He shrugged. "Anyway, when we're too far apart to talk but close enough for me to still get a signal, I get dreams from him. We share them somehow. And his said that Buffy was chipped and that they were individually programmed." Doyle opened his mouth. "No, wait. I know the question but wait. They chipped her once they figured out what she was, because they took her out and beat her until they figured out that she was human but not normal. They haven't touched anyone else, including Oz, but Willow's about fried herself trying to get through the force fields."

"Okay, and she's chipped now, the Slayer?"

"Yeah, to cooperate with them. The same pain Spike feels when he wants to be violent is now hitting her when she doesn't cooperate with them. And I'm pretty sure she'll have to do it sometime."

"Okay, can we use the knowledge to break all the chips." Xander gave him a slow smile. "Tha's what you planned, wasn't it?"

"Yup. Spike is a test subject. Oz knows about things like chips and computers and he told me how and where to hit it to blank it out. All I have to do is focus on the set of instructions and scramble them so that they're read as static. If I can do that, then all the people who are chipped should get at the least partial control back."

"Good," Spike said as he came down the stairs. "Is the bint's bond working?"

"Buffy and Willow's? I suppose so. They're together in one cell. As are my former bosses and a bunch of townspeople. Oz said Giles recognized a lot of them."

"Then, depending on what they have, unchipping the demons may be the best first strike we have," Doyle said slowly. "Which is brilliant, but we need to know more."

"I know what to do, Giles told Oz how to do that spell and Oz told me how to do it and where to hit. Apparently, even though I'm not there, the bonds I have with them are still working to some degree. Oz can hear Giles but not me and Giles can sense Oz but not me."

"Works for me," Spike said, sitting. "Do it now."

"Magic isn't like that," Xander told him. "I have to gather some power. I'm not that strong all the time."

"Yes you are," Ethan said as he walked down the stairs. "Ripper has no idea what to do with your powers so he hasn't told you but you have enough power to draw off Spike's demon to help him. Actually, you could draw off any demon that was close by to get enough power to do anything, and keep them under your thumb at the same time."

"I'm not into domination," Xander told him, looking at Spike. "I can *feel* his demon, but how do I draw on it?"

"Easy, call it to you." Ethan sat beside him, closing the younger sorcerer's eyes for him, turning him to look at Spike. "Have you figured out how to detect magic yet?"

"No. Giles said I can't do that, that it's not in my repertoire, whatever that means."

"That's a serious handicap for one such as yourself." Ethan frowned at Spike. "You can feel his demon, correct?" Xander nodded. "Then reach out mentally to it and grab the thing, pulling a bit of it toward you."

"Don't," Angel said as he walked down the stairs. "He can't sense magic for a reason." He sat down on the other side of Xander, making him look at him. "You can draw magical energy from a lot of places beside yourself. And yes, you can pull it from demons but that's dangerous. Doing so means that you bring a little of the demon into yourself and you could be contaminated."

"Oh, but I can pull it from the rocks," Xander said happily. "I know how to do that."

"Then you can pull from the general Earth," Ethan told him. "Can you feel it now?"

"Yeah, and I know how to touch it too." Xander closed his eyes again and concentrated, pulling a thin thread of energy into himself, focusing it with his own power, and turned it on Spike. He aimed it at the small spot where he could feel the wrongness that was the chip, targeting the energy on the spot that buzzed with electricity, the programming. He opened his eyes and dropped the energy when Spike screamed, jumping up to grab him, helping Angel steady him. "Are you all right? I didn't hurt you too bad, did I?" He looked around the room, trying to figure out where the other buzzing had come from.

Spike groaned, holding his head. "Oh, that hurt." He looked up and his eyes narrowed. "No, you did fine, Xander." He looked at Ethan and smiled. "Run," he whispered.

"No," Ethan said, shaking his head with a smirk. "You'd lose anyway, Spike. We'll get you something live to eat in a while." He looked at Xander. "Can you do that on a mass basis?"

"Yeah, Oz told me to find the wrongness that was the chip then find the buzzing part, that was the programming. I can do it, but I'm getting a funny extra buzzing too." He smiled, rocking back and forth on his feet. "Did I do okay, Angel?"

"Just fine," Angel said, smiling at him. "Go rest."

"Why? I'm not tired."

"I know, but still go rest." Xander nodded and Angel waited until they were alone. "That's dangerous, children," he said, shifting to game face. "Oops."

Xander leaned against the doorway, shaking his head. "I have the spell memorized to put your soul back, Sire," he reminded. "Don't make me use it. And just think, the Slayer's been chipped too."

Spike started to laugh, falling out of his chair. "She has?" Angel asked, licking his lips. "How?"

"To cooperate." He stepped out of the doorway. "Doyle, want to go sleep in the bedroom? Angel's just slipped his soul. It just occurred to me what else buzzed on the same frequency as the chip, a soul. It's set to mimic a soul's weight."

"Yeah, I'll be there in a few." Doyle looked over his shoulder. "Can you put it back?"

"It's not gone, just pushed out of the way." Xander tipped his head, looking at Angel critically. "It's not that hard to move it back."

"Do it, please," Ethan said, attempting a reasonable tone. "We really don't need Angelus in this situation."

"Oh, but it'll be *fun*," Spike complained, jumping on Ethan, biting him, or trying to. He ended up on the floor, looking up at a blank area. "Hey! I needed to eat."

"And I'm not playing," Xander said, wiggling his fingers. He waved at Angelus, who then grunted as he muttered. "Thank you." He walked into the bedroom, shutting the door. "Night," Xander called out to them.

"Night," Angel called, giving Doyle a sheepish look. "It was just pushed aside."

"Tha's okay, my kind taste bad to you all." He stood up, heading for the stairs. "Where did Ethan go?"

"He ran up the stairs while we were concerned with Xander," Angel told him. He looked down at his childe. "Go eat. Just don't make a mess I'll have to clean up and don't make it noticeable."

"Of course not. Had my eye on a little piece of tail earlier, a bit like Dru in the dark." Spike stood up, grinning. "I'll be back before dawn. Don't wait up." He headed outside by the back entrance, letting the door slam.

"That was too close," Angel sighed as he sat.


Xander concentrated as they passed the 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign, sending out his will and the borrowed power to short out every chip he could find, smiling as he came back up from his light trance. "Done," he sighed, leaning his head back to rest. "Wake me when we get to stage one."