Part 8: The Party
"Hi. Look, he`s got on our t-shirt!" One of the girls called out to the others. Xander looked up to see a fresh-faced blonde pushing her way up to him, wearing a yellow t-shirt that was emblazoned with the legend, 'Xander's Toy.'
"Uh, yeah." Xander looked down at his shirt (which simply said 'Xander' ) and back up to the girl. His eyes stopped dead center in the middle of her shirt. He looked down quickly. When Spike had brought Anya her shirt, Xander hadn't thought about how they would look plastered tightly all over anyone else’s tight little body. He flushed slightly.
“Ohh, it’s him!” One of the other girls exclaimed.
“We wondered when you were coming,“ said a soft, gleeful little voice.
“Xander? You want a beer? Anything?“ At his nod, the curly-haired redhead to his right gave him a pixie-ish look that was unmistakably mischievous, as she handed him a draft beer from the tray she was carrying. Xander absently took it, with a wide-eyed and abstracted nod.
Suddenly the area around Xander was all giggles peppered with sweet and sexy looks. The Hooter’s-like servers tried to make him as welcome as possible. Xander looked slightly embarrassed, while his blue-collar buddies looked a little miffed at where all the attention was going.
Xander turned around in confusion, not quite sure where to look, because his eyes were being drawn to the same place every time. Or at least the same spot on the t-shirts.
“Uh, excuse me. Yeah. Hi,“ he tried smiling and being cool, but this reminded him way too much of Amy’s Valentine spell back when he was with Cordelia. Bad memory.
Seeing Spike at the bar, he slowly made his way in that direction. He paused for a moment, sneaking a peak at the bandstand and the live band crawling all over it. Almost like he was afraid to look.
His eyes widened as he recognized Devon, who had made it in late last night. Then, Oz’s head popped up from behind a large amp. Xander almost choked on the draught of beer he had just guzzled down.
Devon spoke to Oz, nodding in the direction of the slow-moving group of gawkers. Oz turned as if looking for someone and put his hand up in acknowledgement when he saw Xander. A word to Devon and Oz was off the stage, walking up to the guest of honor.
Angel raised his eyebrows in congratulations as he turned back to Spike, who had a wicked grin tugging on one side of his mouth. “Xander didn’t know?”
Spike ducked his head and ran a hand through his hair. “Wasn’t sure ‘til just now if he knew or not. Demon girl’s not real discreet. I did ask him if it’d be okay. Way back. Didn’t ever tell him for sure that they were comin.’ Expected him to ask. He didn‘t.”
“He probably thought he wouldn’t come,“ Angel explained. Seeing Xander smile a lop-sided smile and throw his arms around Oz in a bear hug, Angel snorted. Once. “Never thought I’d see that. After Oz and Cordy catching him and Willow kissing at the Factory.”
“What? The night I ‘borrowed’ the Wiccan? And the whelp? Nobody tells me anything!”
“Yeah,” Angel affirmed. “That night.” Angel turned hard eyes on Spike. “Cordelia got badly hurt that night. Didn’t know that either, did you? She’s still got the scar. Puncture wound.”
Spike’s eyes shifted slightly.
His point made, Angel relaxed. “No vitals, but she curses your name all through swimsuit season every year.” He chuckled a little. “Which in California pretty much ensures you a place in her thoughts most of the time.”
“Hmm. Didn’t know.” Spike’s expression was unreadable. “Lucky the whelp and the wolf are feelin’ all forgivin’ and all. Of each other, I mean. Don‘t really care how they feel about me, of course,” he muttered.
“Of course,” Angel echoed with a silent sigh.
Tara looked at Willow questioningly. Willow shook her head almost imperceptibly and motioned for Tara to move closer to the door and away from the training room where Buffy was loading weapons, a snarky but quiet Cordelia watching closely. Tara slipped off in the direction Willow had indicated, as Willow followed.
“What is going on with those two?” Tara whispered.
“They came out with their fists up.” Willow said worriedly. “I’m not sure but I think I’m getting a jealous-y kind of vibe. I just don’t get who’s jealous of who. Or for what? Cause Buffy’s not …” Willow stopped talking. Almost said too much.
Tara looked puzzled. “Well, why wouldn’t Buffy be a little jealous? I don’t know what Spike was thinking when he invited them here. Seeing Cordelia with Connor must be hard on Buffy. It could be Buffy helping to raise him, you know, if things were different.”
“Oh, I don’t think Buffy’s jealous because she’s not playing Mommie. She’s barely looked at the baby. Or Angel. Seems like it’s more on Cordelia’s side anyway. Which is silly….” Willow stopped again and slowly realization dawned, as she remembered how defensive Cordelia had been about Buffy’s snide ‘Angel’ comments during the map cat fight.
Willow looked at Tara. Tara looked at Willow, taking a moment to think about what was unsaid. Their mouths were matching o’s. Tara put her hand over her mouth, giggled, then looked at Willow apologetically. “I’m sorry, it’s just…”
Shaking her head, Willow sighed. “Hope nobody gets killed tonight. Buffy’s already off her game over this whole bachelor party thing.”
“Spike mentioned that Buffy wasn’t being … very supportive. You’d think she’d want Xander to have a nice night.”
“I don’t think it’s Xander’s party that’s bothering Buffy. I think it’s Spike.” Now that wasn’t saying anymore than everyone already knew.
“Think this must be it. Live band. Lights.” Peered in. “Lots of pretty girls in skimpy tees and shorts. My kind of place.”
“I think I might be of some help on the patrol. This seems …”
“Oh, no, my friend, you are going inside and you are gonna have you some fun!”
The tall blonde standing between the two men blew out an impatient breath. “I need to get in, gentlemen.” She stated bluntly as she looked from side to side. “You two can iron out your differences after I‘m gone. I don’t get paid for standing outside,” she said as she pulled the coat closer around her rather full breasts. She looked levelly into Wesley‘s eyes.
“Maybe this isn’t your ‘cuppa’ tea, sweetie, but it’s my bread and butter. And I don’t want the bread to get soggy.”
“Aww, Laura,” Gunn said in a wheedling voice. “I need a little help getting my buddy here inside. Any assistance you can give … “
Giving Gunn an appraising look, she nodded. Then she turned to Wesley. “Wesley, this is just a party. An opportunity for a future bridegroom and his friends to blow off some steam. Nothing that’s going to change your life is going to happen here.” She smiled wickedly. “Unless you want it to.” Wes looked slightly shocked. She rolled her eyes. “Obviously not.”
The door to Willie’s swung open and a large dark figure stood in silhouette . “Hi, guys. ‘Bout time you got here. I was starting to worry.“ Angel looked at Wes and admitted to himself that Wesley looked like he was ‘born to run’ … away. “Got an old friend of yours in here that’s just dying to see you.” And Angel unceremoniously dragged Wesley, protesting in a choked voice, through the door and into the bar.
With a twinkle in her eye, Laura looked at Gunn. Pretty much eye to eye. Gunn moved back a half-step. “After you, my lady.” He said, twinkling right back.
“You’re a pretty thing, aren’t you, Mr. Gunn?” And the beautiful dancer smiled and winked once. “Let’s see if I can heat things up in here. Show ‘em how we do it in L.A.”
Anne lightly touched Laura’s arm and inclined her head to a small office to the right of the door. “Got a dressing room all ready for you. You’ve got a couple of hours to kill.”
“That’s fine. I like to have time to prepare. Feel my audience. From behind closed doors, of course.”
Anne smiled. “What if I prepare you some dinner? Plenty out there.”
“Carrots, veggies. Some dip if you’ve got it. I eat light before I perform. But I’ll be looking forward to pigging out after. ‘Carbs’” she said pointedly to the younger woman, “are what a girl needs when she’s depleted.”
“There’s plenty for later. I’ll make sure of it. Something to drink?”
“Water with lemon. And a hefty bourbon just before I go out. Just to loosen things up.”
Anne nodded. She felt a light touch on her arm and turned. “Oh. Laura, this is Spike. He’s the one who’s responsible for you being here.”
Spike looked the dancer up and down appraisingly. “Well, for once, the
Poufter didn’t exaggerate. You are one bloody good-looking woman. Harris
is damn lucky I got rooked into this.”
Laura relaxed at the rather frank gaze being directed at her and acknowledged the compliment. “Thank you. This looks like quite a party,” she laughed, “from what little I’ve seen.”
“Plenty of time for that later, pet. Stay after?”
The dancer started to demur, but … what the hell? Good-looking host. And that Gunn was a cute guy. She thought there might be some fun to be had here. And so far, they all seemed nice. Then again, they usually were.
“I don’t usually stick around after. But in this case …”
Spike, getting his way, cut back on the intense look a little. “Stay. Don’t want classy ladies leavin’ early.” Spike turned to Anne as Laura closed the office door. “Anne, a word?”
“Very good, all the way ‘round. Thank you for doing … well, your job, I guess.” He looked back toward the stage, indicating the food, girls. “Couldn’t have pulled it off without you.” Smiling, he walked away.
At the sincere compliment, Anne smiled, too. Such a strange man. But so charming. And sweet. Especially when everything was going his way. She had made sure that it would.
Anne wondered if he was happy in his real world job. He was good at this. The planning, the ideas… She wished she could offer him a job. Work with him again.
She shook her head. Silly. His real job was probably a lot more interesting than this.
Oz was taking a short break. He didn’t really need one, but Devon had insisted. So Oz set his guitar down on the stand and headed off the stage toward Spike at the bar. On his way there, one of the servers stopped him.
“Didn’t you go to Sunnydale High?” She asked.
Oz turned his full attention to the short blonde. What he saw first were her freckles. And amazing green eyes. “Yeah.”
“I was a sophomore when you were a senior.” She said, with a tell-tale flush creeping up her face. “I snuck into the Bronze to see you play a couple of times. You sound good tonight. Even better than you did then.”
“Thanks.” Oz turned to go.
“Uh,” and her pretty, freckled face turned a fiery red, making her eyes jump out. “Are you gonna be in town for a few days?”
Oz looked at the girl, a little surprised. “Yeah. Playing the Bronze tomorrow night.”
“Oh.” And she looked down at her feet. Looked up. “Maybe … I’ll see you there?”
The girl started off. Then she turned back. “My name is Dori. Well, really Dorothy.”
Oz smiled. “Dorothy?” he echoed.
“Dori.” She said firmly.
“Dorothy, I’m Oz.”
The girl giggled. “I know. Sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it?”
He laughed. “It does.” He looked a little closer at the girl. “The Bronze?”
Self-consciously running her fingers through her hair, she smiled.
Walking behind Buffy, Cordelia thought about high school and other nights like this. The tombstones seemed like as much a part of her life right now as her apartment in L.A.
Cordelia liked to think that she had matured a lot since joining Angel’s bunch. She‘d helped people and made a place for herself there. With Angel and his son. She was so happy there, she never even thought of coming back to Sunnydale even for a visit.
Obviously, that was a good thing. Because ever since she’d walked in the door of Buffy’s house, a shrill aggressive stranger had taken over her body. She didn’t like this Cordelia. She didn’t want to be this Cordelia. And every word that came out of her mouth reinforced her belief that Sunnydale was a bad place for her to be.
“Buffy, we need to talk.” There, that was better. More like the new Cordelia.
“Talk?” Buffy shot back over her shoulder. “We’re on patrol. Not out for coffee somewhere. Or ‘doing’ lunch.” She was still smarting over Cordelia’s premature discovery of she and Spike’s… what?
Cordelia swallowed a really tacky retort. She was in control. She couldn’t do anything about Buffy, but she could certainly take responsibility for herself.
Buffy ran her fingers through her hair as she looked down at the dust still clinging to the gravestone. One less vamp to worry about, but the whole patrol had been a semi-disaster. Nobody was dead, but in retrospect it was hard to believe.
Despite Willow’s and Tara’s attempts to be responsible and look out for bads, they still seemed a lot more caught up in spending time with each other than the denizens of the cemetery. Buffy was glad they were getting along so well, but gee!
Cordelia had been sulking with such single mindedness that Buffy was sure her own head would explode from the bad vibes.
And Anya was like a small kid on a car trip. ‘Is it time yet? Are we done? Can we go check on Xander now?’ Gah!
Buffy was thoroughly miffed when she decided that she’d rather be patrolling with Spike any night of the week than do it with the ‘new’ Scoobies. Did that make her a bad person? A bad friend?
Well, Buffy admitted to herself, she missed Spike. Missed the comfort of knowing he had her back. It was so easy to patrol with Spike. Well, except when his mouth was open and words were coming out.
She trudged on, wishing this was over and she was at home, lying in a hot bath. Or that Spike was here with her right now, even if he had that damn cell phone plugged into his ear. Or wishing she were home and in a hot tub and Spike …
Whoops! Almost missed that one, Buffy berated herself as she took off running, stake upraised, after the long-haired girl in the long blue dress.
“You really …” Buffy huffed, “should have … done … the whole … preplanning thing … so that your mother …. didn’t dress…you for your ….Oops ... Another fashion victim at rest.” Buffy finished in satisfaction.
Willow and Tara came loping up as the dust settled, Anya right behind. Buffy looked beyond them to find Cordelia stalking toward her, chin up and face set in a no nonsense ‘time to talk‘ look.
“Cordy!” Buffy saw another vamp in a black funeral suit rise behind the brunette.
Too late. Cordelia was swung around by an acne-scarred teen vamp with bad hair. More victims, Buffy thought, as she raced toward Cordelia, stake up.
“Hey!” Cordelia stared into the fledgling vampires face. “I’m trying to have a conversation here.“ Cordelia took in the hair, the sudden uncertainty in the scarred, undead face.
She decided this was a good time to get back to the more mature Cordelia. “I understand that you’re trying to take unlife where you find it, but other people live in the world. Interrupting important conversations when two people are trying to communicate is a bad thing.”
Warming to her subject and hoping that Buffy was listening, she continued. “You know, you don’t have to be the victim here. You can take charge of your new unlife. I can introduce you to a friend who can help you build an alternate vampire unlifestyle.”
Buffy had come to a stop directly behind the boy, stake raised, and became fascinated by Cordelia‘s self-help politically-correct speech. She’d seen her stop another vampire dead in his tracks the night of the prom, just with that obnoxious mouth of hers. This was completely different but the results were absolutely the same. Unbelievable. She didn’t even need a stake.
The new vampire twitched with discomfort and broke away from the woman‘s level eyes and voice to go. Anywhere …
Buffy’s eyes went wide as the dust floated toward the ground.
He’d dusted himself, just to get away from Cordelia. Accidentally, of course, as he’d blindly turned into Buffy’s upraised stake, but still…
Buffy started laughing. And continued laughing so hard and became so weak with it that she found herself sitting on the ground. It had become impossible to stand. She looked up at Cordy, whose mouth had dropped open in shock as she watched the dust float down to the dark ground. Buffy pointed at her, tried to speak and couldn’t. Still laughing.
When Willow, Tara and Anya got to them, Buffy was laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks. She couldn’t stop if she’d tried.
Cordelia was a little chagrined that Buffy was continuing to find it so funny, but realized she was laughing ruefully herself at the irony of it. She sat down next to Buffy.
Willow and Tara looked at each other. Anya shrugged. Then patted her foot on the ground, arms folded tightly.
“Can we go now?”
Spike noticed Oz coming his way and went to meet him.
“Good party.” Oz said, nodding.
“Yeah. Not bad.” Spike commented, looking around at the servers serving and the consumers consuming. The blue-collar boys were loud and raucous. “Not really what I’m used to. I hope the entertainment’s going to be … well, their taste.“ Spike smirked, thinking at how much Giles would have hated this until the scotch had kicked in.
“It’s a good crowd. Loud.”
Spike grinned wickedly. “Didn’t know the whelp had this many friends. Have to go on and tap another keg. Or six. May need a delivery.”
“They’re well on their way,” Oz agreed. ‘About time? Think they’re drunk enough?”
“I hope *I* am. Better get another drink. Doesn’t last long with me. Vampire, you know.” Spike made a decision. “Let’s get on with it,” Spike said, taking a deep breath.
Looking out at the sea of denim-clad, plaid-shirted wonders, Spike was dead certain that Xander had a lot more in common with Angel’s boys than these blokes. Spike didn’t actually know what he had expected, but this group was his worst nightmare. And he was about to hoist up on his own petard. Spike shook his head. Idiot.
Oz went back up on the stage to get ready for the next set. Spike headed to the bar and chugged down a tumbler of bourbon. He motioned Angel over. “I’m goin’ up there on that stage to do the welcomin’ speech and all that. Where’s Harris?”
Angel looked around. Being appreciably taller than Spike had advantages. “Over there. He’s with Gunn and Wesley. Whoo. He looks pretty wasted. He‘s got his arm around Wes.”
“Good. Good and drunk is just the way I want him. Get him.”
“Yeah, ‘fore I lose my nerve.”
“I don’t know how it’s going to end up, but I feel like we’re sneaking around. ” Cordelia explained. “I didn’t while I was in L.A., but I do around here. Not that we’re doing anything. It’s just that this place brings out the worst in me. And there‘s that whole ‘Buffy-Angel
Buffy looked down at her hot chocolate. You just had to love the Espresso Pump. Plenty of marshmallows. Spike loved hot chocolate with marshmallows. Wondered how he felt about marshmallow crème. She pushed the subsequent thought away. Bonding with now.
Cordelia reached over and touched Buffy’s arm. “You do understand that I really don’t know how I feel about Angel. There’s that whole sex thing that’s really hard to deal with.”
Buffy thought she should feel really weird about this whole conversation. She fidgeted, trying to spot Willow and Tara. Oh, somewhere in cyberspace. Anya was standing near the door, nearly apoplectic in her need to move on. Buffy took a deep breath.
“Look, Cordy, Angel left a long time ago. He’s different and I’m different. Uh, it’s natural that things are a little strange. I don’t think Angel and I can ever be friends. Not really. I resent him leaving the way he did, even if it was the right thing to do. There was no discussion, just a decision. His.”
“I can’t really forgive him for it. All I can do is accept it and get past it. Which I have. Still … this is like you’re asking permission to date my ex.”
Cordelia stared. “I *am* asking permission to date your ex. I don’t know why. We’ve never been great friends, but I do have a certain amount of respect for you.”
“If I give you my blessing, can we end this conversation?”
“Will you really be giving me your blessing or telling me it’s okay to shut me up?”
“Both.” Buffy looked up at Cordy and laughed. “Sorry. Old habits die hard. It’s just that all this has come up at a bad time. I wasn’t prepared to think about Angel, much less deal with his being in a new relationship. Especially with …uh, anyone I know.” she finished lamely
Cordelia smiled sadly. “I understand.”
Shaking her head, Buffy smiled ruefully. “No, you don’t. Dealing with the one vampire means I have to deal with the other one. Something I’m not ready to do yet.”
Eyes flashing in triumph, the brunette crowed, “I knew it! I just knew it. You and Spike have a thing!”
Buffy looked in panic at Anya. She was still near the door, but was now animatedly talking to the night manager of the Espresso Pump. Money talk, obviously, by the flushed look on Anya’s face. So they had some time.
“A thing?” Buffy echoed. She considered her words to Cordelia carefully. “We have something.” She admitted. “But I’m damned if I’ll tell him that right now. He’ll be picking out wedding bands. Probably with little pagan figures on ‘em.”
“He’s a lot different than when you knew him,” she explained. Still Spike, but his priorities are changing. He’s definitely WIP.” Buffy laughed. “But then so am I.”
“Ah. Work In Progress.” Cordy nodded. “So. Are you having sex with him?” She asked candidly. “Because even though I hate his undead guts, I do think he’s kind of sexy, in a mysterious vampire hard-lean guy kind-of- way.”
Spike dragged Xander up on the stage and walked to the microphone. He looked out at the collection of Xander’s co-workers and acquaintances, experiencing a major moment of uncertainty. Very ‘William.‘ Then he remembered he was the Big Bad, not William, and he didn’t give a bloody damn what any of them thought.
“Uh. Yeah.” Spike’s voice boomed out through the bar. He recoiled, gritting his teeth slightly. The sound tech winced and made an adjustment. He nodded. Spike leaned back into the mike. “I’m Spike.” he said gingerly. Yeah, that was better.
Regaining a little of his confidence, he continued. “And this is Mr. Alexander Harris. Xander to most of you. The ‘whelp,’ or Harris, to me.” He winced inwardly. Couldn’t he just leave? Walk off the stage and out of the bar, out of Sunnydale. He took a breath.
“Now Harris here is formalizin’ his relationship with the old ball and chain in a coupla days. Why the whelp would put his head on the block, so to speak, I can’t tell you. But I’m here to make sure that what little he ends up remembering of t’night sticks with him through the ‘thick and thin’ everyone talks about.”
The faces were more attentive now and Spike was feeling a little better. He glanced at Xander, who was staring down at this own feet. Think you’re embarrassed now? Payback‘s a bitch, Harris!
“Little somethin’ about Harris here you may not know. Got some videos stashed away.” The crowd laughed then began derisive cat-calls. Spike grinned at the crowd, shaking his head, as the audience whooped it up.
“Nah. Not those. Music videos. Seems that the whelp expresses a deep and abidin’ love for country music, right? You’ve heard him?”
A few sounds of assent were heard from the audience.
“But in truth, he secretly has a thing for the 80’s. In case you’re interested, the videos are in the closet.”
Startled, Xander looked at Spike and then looked out at his buddies guiltily. He looked down in contrition. There were more whoops and a few good-natured boos.
“Yeah!” One loud female voice cut across the deeper voices of the men. Xander looked up and craned his neck, trying to see who it was. “Go, Xander!” Soon other female voices joined hers. “Yes!”
Spike smirked at Xander, then at the crowd. “Got a new play list, beginnin’ now, for our retro friend.” Spike said in satisfaction. “Hope you enjoy it.” Anne had done a fine job of priming the bints for his announcement. “Head banging is encouraged, but optional.”
Spike looked back toward the door of the bar and nodded decisively. The room darkened and spotlights set off the stage. Closest they could get to concert lighting in this place.
Looking at Xander, Spike nodded toward the audience. “Go on, Harris,” he encouraged. “Take your seat. Got a little surprise for you.” Xander gratefully jumped down and out of the limelight.
“Peaches! A little help here? Of the liquid kind?”
Angel poured a tumbler full of bourbon and headed toward the stage, hoping to stay out of the limelight.
“Now,” Spike said as he took the drink out of Angel’s hand. “I’m kickin’ this off. Because I’m bloody stupid I guess.” He laughed. He heard light laughter from the crowd. This lighting was much better. He couldn’t see the crowd.
He put the glass to his lips and killed it. There was scattered applause and sounds of approval. Yeah, Spike reflected absently, getting drunk enough to forget our mostly pointless lives is something we all have in common. Maybe they weren’t so different from him, after all.
Spike wiped his hand across his mouth and looked for a place to put his glass. A hand reached for it. Anne. Still taking care of him. He took a deep breath and looked at Oz, as he stepped back to the mike.
“Somethin’ for the wedding, mate.” He winked at Xander, or at least, where he thought Xander might be. He was glad he couldn’t see out into the audience -- and a little sorry, too. Obviously, the bourbon was going to his head.
Oz’s guitar began the familiar chords. One thing about this song. It just screamed ‘eighties.’ The guitar riff leapt out and the bass line followed. Spike closed in on the mike for the first line. There were squeals from the ‘Hooter’s girls.’
‘White Wedding. Now how weird was this, with Spike the original Billy Idol lookalike anyway?’ Xander stared in shock, then looked around, fully prepared to see a lynch mob gathering. No such luck, he thought. His buddies were staring in fascination as Spike finished the first verse.
Like you’d stare at a cobra with its hood spread. The guitar and bass line were mesmerizing, slightly rearranged to fit the band’s sound. And Spike wasn’t too bad, Xander admitted to himself.
Gunn elbowed Wes. “We gotta get this guy to Lorne,” he yelled over the music. “There‘s a lot goin‘ on in there.” He said, nodding toward Spike.
“It’s a nice day to start again
It’s a nice day for a white wedding
It’s a nice day to start again”
Spike finished the second chorus and Oz went into the lead break. Almost over, he thought. Then Devon could take over the rest of the play list. Spike could then relax until it came time for the dancer to come out. He had no idea how this was going over with the audience. Didn’t care. It’d been a long time since he’d been center stage instead of Slayer back up. He liked the way it felt.
Almost in answer, a male voice yelled, “Yeah!” as Oz modulated into an even more wicked lead riff against the driving bass. Other voices followed with approving noises of their own. Oz had created a concert length lead break.
So far so good. His favorite part, the middle-eight, was coming up. Then, the last bridge and he was done. He grabbed the mike.
“There is nothin’ fair in this world
There is nothin’ safe in this world
And there’s nothin’ sure in this world
And there’s nothin’ pure in this world
Look for somethin’ left in this world
Angel shook his head. Spike might be an idiot, but he sure knew how to throw a party. A few of the drunkest brave souls had grabbed a couple of servers and were dancing by the tables. The music was loud and the beat was primal. Angel made a mental note to ask Spike to plan the Hyperion Christmas Party next year.
Xander was up on drunken feet with two servers of his very own. Wesley’s head alternated between the unearthly Billy Idol look-alike on stage (so that was William the Bloody!) and the impending bridegroom’s antics (that was dancing?). He felt a movement beside him and saw that Gunn was on his feet, pushing chairs out of his way to join in.
Too soon, the song ended. Devon stepped up to the mike quickly and Oz ’segued’ into ’Mony, Mony,’ which had a guarantee of keeping the dancers on their feet and converting the even the overweight construction wallflowers into screaming teenagers.
Spike threw himself down on the bar stool and reached for the full glass of bourbon waiting at his place. He grinned at Angel. “Thanks,” he said recklessly as he killed another drink. “Needed that.”
“You did all right!” Angel yelled over the music.
“Cause you make me feel.
So good, so good, so good
So fine, so fine
It’s all mine, well I feel all right
I said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I love you Mony mo-mo-mony”
Suddenly, the crowd was chanting the lyrics.
“No need to yell, mate. Vampire. Remember?” He saw Xander approaching and winced. “Now I’m in for it,” he muttered.
“Spike!” Xander yelled, out of breath. “That was …” Xander searched for a word and finally have up, mouth twisted in an apologetic grin.
“Have another beer, Harris. Or somethin’ stronger.” Xander grabbed the bourbon bottle and took a slug. Spike looked at him appraisingly. “Like your party, whelp?”
“Party’s great! Girls are great! Was not loving the idea of you giving the party, but … S’great! Thanks!”
Now Spike was certain that Harris was drunk. He’d never gotten a ‘thank you’ before, even when he’d saved his life.
“Don’t mention it,” Spike growled. “Please. Devon will be doing ‘Like a Virgin’ later. His contribution to your wedding celebration.”
“That’s my favorite Madonna song! But Spike, really … the eighties idea. I may never live it down, but …well, loving this.”
Spike was only half-listening as he scanned the bar. He sensed … suddenly, he stiffened.
Feeling the change in Spike, Angel turned, following his intent and frowning eyes to the front of the bar. Five females, not wearing Xander t- shirts, were looking around them with wide eyes, except for the small blonde who looked decidedly pissed. What was she doing here? What were they doing here?
“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered. He remembered Buffy’s and his conversation on the steps. “Think I’ve been played.”
He looked at Angel. “It’s Buffy and the bints. Including yours.”
“What?” Xander said blearily, looking toward the front of the bar. The bourbon had just hit. He started to rise off the stool. “Anya…”
“Harris,” Spike pushed Xander back on the stool. Xander grabbed the seat with both hands to keep from falling off. “Stay put. The girl ‘Scoobies’ are here and, by the looks of it, they smell blood.” Well, one of them does, anyway. The rest look like they’re in a daze, he thought absently. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and squinted at it.
“No call. She intended to come by here all along.” He blew out an annoyed breath. “Been had by the Slayer. Again.“
“I’ll try to do damage control, mate.” Spike said as he patted Xander’s arm to get his attention. “Just stay here,” Spike said reassuringly, then remembered who he didn’t really like the whelp, much, and shrugged. “Or not. But you’ll be bloody stupid if you don’t stay put,“ he growled.
Spike turned to Angel. “Peaches, you deal with yours. I’ll deal with mine. And demon-girl. And the witches.” Spike rolled his eyes. “No rest for the weary.”
Continued in Part 9: The Standoff