As I walked into the bar, I could see that it was empty except for a short guy behind the counter. He was wiping down the bar when he saw me enter.
“The bar’s closed, pal. Unless you want something beside liquor, I have to close up.” The short guy looked at me oddly, like he was trying to remember who I was.
I recognized the short guy as Willy. I had caught a glimpse of him during the fight at the old church when we went to rescue Angel from Spike and Drusilla. But it was apparent that Willy didn’t know who I was. Another thought struck me. Willy didn’t think that I was a high school kid or he would have called me on it. Dressed the way that I was, he probably thought that I was a vampire. Time to check that theory.
“I just got into town, and I know that some of my friends come in here to…get something to drink,” I said, stressing the last part. “I was hoping that maybe you could help me find them.”
“What time of day do your friends usually come in?” Willy was looking intently at my face. Good thing I had removed the bandage and recombed my hair to cover the stitches.
“They’re more night people than anything. You never see them out in the sunlight.” I was keeping my face neutral, but slowly edging toward the bar. “I don’t think I know who you’re talking about,” Willy said nervously. His right hand had dropped behind the bar. This was not a good sign - I did not know what he was reaching for. It was time to lay my cards on the table and see what happened.
“I was looking for one person in particular… you probably know her. Her name is Buffy Summers.”
If I was waiting for a reaction, this was surely it. Willy’s face turned dead pale and he turned and ran for the back door. Fortunately, I figured that this was going to be his response and had angled myself to intercept him. I grabbed him before he cleared the door and threw him up against the wall.
“Willy, Willy, Willy… don't you know it’s rude to leave in the middle of a conversation?” I was trying to hold Willy up against the wall, but he kept wiggling like a landed fish. Finally, I slugged him full in the stomach and he dropped to the floor,gasping for air.
I needed to talk to Willy without interruption, so I pulled out a flattened roll of duct tape I had snagged at my uncle's place and wrapped some around Willy’s wrists while his hands were behind his back. Leaving him on the floor for a minute, I went to the front door and locked it and flipped off the outside light.
I didn’t want for someone to walk into our conversation, and it *was* closing time. Walking behind the bar, I took a look at what Willy had been reaching for. A large wooden cross was sitting on a shelf next to a stake and a baseball bat. Shaking my head, I returned to Willy and dragged him to his feet. I pulled him to a table and sat him down in a chair. Pulling up another chair, I straddled it, sitting a short distance in front of him.
“Willy, we need to talk. You know things and time is running out. How badly this goes depends on how well you cooperate,” I said in a quiet tone of voice. I could see how scared Willy was and was trying not to make things worse.
“I don’t know anything! I just work here in the bar and serve drinks! I don’t know what to tell you!” Willy was sweating heavily, and his eyes were bouncing all over the place.
“I know that you set Buffy up with the Order of Taraka. I know that you gave Angel over to Spike and Drusilla. And I know that you deal with vampires all the time. Now, you sure you don’t know anything?” I was looking steadily at Willy, which seemed to makehim more nervous.
“So I sell a little pig’s blood on the side. That doesn’t mean that I’m out to hurt people. Buffy and the Order of Taraka was a misunderstanding - she’s even forgiven me.” Willy was starting to calm down while he was talking.
“She’s forgiven you all right. That’s why she beats you up whenever you guys talk.” I snorted. “But this isn’t about that. You must hear lots of interesting thing her at the bar when you sell your pig’s blood. Now tell me about tonight’s attack on Buffy and me at the mall.”
“You’re the other kid? They said that you were dead! How…” Willy’s voice trailed off when he saw the look on my face.
“You know a lot more than you say. I’m not dead, and Buffy is being held by vamps. You know what’s happening and I’m starting to get ticked off.” I stood up and walked up to Willy, standing to the side of him in case he tried to get frisky.
“Buffy is still alive and the vamps have her. You *will* tell me where she is, or I will start breaking bones starting from your left little toe to your right little finger.” To let him know that I was serious, I yanked the chair out from under him and dumped him on the floor.
Willy was looking terrified by now. “If I tell you anything, the vamps will come and kill me. Spike’s mad enough at me already.”
“Spike? Spike has her, not Angelus? I thought he was killed in the old church.” I sat on my chair again,leaving Willy on the floor.
“I can’t tell you anything, man. There’s a reason why he got that name,” Willy whimpered.
“I’ll tell you what, Willy. If you don’t tell me what’s going on, I’m going to stake you out next to a new vampire’s grave. If you survive the feeding and become a vampire yourself, I’ll fill your grave with cement and let you starve for eternity.” I had heard from Giles that starvation would drive a vampire insane, especially if it was denied it’s first feeding. By the sick look on Willy’s face, I was sure he had heard the same thing himself.
“I don’t know everything, I just know what some vamps where talking about in here earlier.” Willy was starting to lose the sick look from his face as he talked. “Spike lost leadership of the vampires in Sunnydale - he was crippled in that fire and Angelus took over. Spike wants to recover and take over again. He’s ticked off at Angelus for stealing Drusilla, so he needs to do a spell that would cure him and make him stronger than Angelus to beat him. Spike still has a few vampires that are loyal to him and they’re trying to get what Spike needs for the spell together.”
Willy had stopped after his last sentence, and looked away from me. None too gently I grabbed Willy’s chin with my hand and jerked it toward me. “What do they need for the spell?” I ground out.
“They said that they would need a Slayer’s blood,” Willy said weakly. Seeing the look on my face, he hastily added, “They need the Slayer alive to do the ceremony and the spell, otherwise it won’t work.”
“Is there a certain time they need to do the spell? A certain day?” I was starting to lose my composure.
“The spell has to be done a half-hour before daybreak. There’s no specific day.” Willy’s eyes were back to bouncing all over my face.
“So they could do it today, if they had the Slayer.” I was starting to get a headache again. Daybreak was four hours away.
“Yeah, they could do it today, I guess. They don’t need a lot of…” Willy’s voice cut off and his eyes widened, looking over my shoulder.
I instantly dove to the side, which was a good thing because the ax crashed through the chair I was sitting in a quarter second later. I did a hit and roll, winding up on my feet (thanks to my military training/memories), spun around and saw a hulking man in full vampire mode, holding a fire ax in his hands. Now, normally I had trouble taking on a vampire on equal terms, but this guy was six inches taller than me, fifty pounds heavier, and was holding that fire ax in his hands. So, I decided to take a cue from one of my favorite movies, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Before I had entered the bar, I had put on some of the gear from the trunk of the car. Quickly, I drew a Beretta pistol from a thigh holster under my coat, took aim and fired one shot; right thought the vampire’s left kneecap. With a loud bellow, the vampire crashed to the floor. I knew that a handgun bullet would probably not kill a vampire, but I had guessed that it could injure one enough to be able to take him out with the traditional weapons. That appeared to have worked in this case. With my right hand still holding the pistol, my left hand went inside my coat and pulled out a medium sized silver cross on a chain (one of the items from Buffy’s house). Holding both the cross and the pistol out in front of me, I kicked the fire ax away from the moaning vampire. After uncocking the pistol, I holstered it, still holding the cross in my hand. I looked over at Willy. He was still laying on the floor, hyperventilating, staring at the fallen vampire. He didn’t look any worse than before, so I shifted my attention back to the vampire. Looking down at the vampire, I said, “You are going to tell me what I need to know about Spike and the Slayer. How difficult it is is up to you,” echoing what I had earlier said to Willy.
The vampire snarled at me. “I’ll never tell you anything.”
I sighed. Reaching into my coat again, I pulled out a vial of holy water. I remembered the time when Buffy had to question a female vampire when the vampires were trying to revive the Master. This was not going to be pleasant…especially for the vampire.
Somewhere in Sunnydale
After a spirited conversation with the party-crashing vampire, he finally told me where Spike was hiding out. He also told me that everything had been set up and that Buffy was indeed alive. After confirming everything with Willy, I staked the vampire… after the conversation we had, the vampire did not mind at all.
I had tossed Willy into the caged area in the storeroom of his bar. I left his hands taped together to make sure that he would not be getting out anytime soon. To show that I was a nice guy, I left a large bowl of water in the cage. I knew that Willy would make his way out of the cage eventually, but not before daybreak, which was the important thing.
Right now, I was parked in an alley behind the factory, putting on the rest of the gear that I had borrowed from Uncle Tim and Buffy. After closing the trunk, I walked to the corner of the alley and looked at the doorway leading into the factory. Even though the streetlight was not working, I could see that there was a figure standing next to it: a vampire standing guard.
‘You figure out how you’re going to do this yet, kid?’ For once, Dark Xander’s voice was not mocking.
‘The vamp said that there were fifteen vampires in Spike’s group. Minus the three in the mall parking lot, the one in the bar, and Spike himself, that leaves ten vamps to deal with,’ I replied silently.
‘Well, obviously you can’t do a frontal assault on the factory. Ten-to-one odds with a hostage inside don’t sound very good.’ Dark Xander was thinking through the possible options: but then again so was I. ‘At least that vamp in the bar told you where they’reholding Buffy in that place.’
‘Yeah, but I was thinking of a more subtle approach,’ I thought to myself as I started walking toward the door and the figure standing next to it.
‘What in the name of Hades do you think you’re doing, kid! You’re going to get killed!” Dark Xander sounded nervous as I walked up to the vampire standing next to the door.
“I have a message for Spike from Drusilla. Open the door,” I growled at the vampire at the door. My face had my Hyena Boy scowl on it, but my stomach was tied into knots from being this close to a hostile vampire.
The vampire showed his true face when he replied. “I don’t know you. You have to show me what you are before I let you in.”
I shrugged my shoulders. That caused a stake to drop from my coat sleeve into my hand, although the vampire did not see it. “Very well,” I replied, and I thrust the stake into the vampire’s chest. I watched as the surprised look on the vampire’s face disintegrated as he exploded into dust.
‘Nice job, kid. Only next time, leave me at home when you try a hare-brained stunt like that again.’ Dark Xander had a certain amount of relief in his voice when he spoke.
‘Not likely. You’re stuck with me, partner,’ I replied silently as I quietly opened the door to thefactory and slipped inside.
The vampire at the bar had told me that Buffy was being held at the basement level of the abandoned factory. The factory itself was not that large, covering an area the size of a small city block. As most of the windows of the factory had been smashed out, the vampires for the most part stayed at the basement level during the day. At anytime during the night there were four to six vampires around while the rest were out hunting. There were usually two guards posted at the entrances and two with Spike to assist him. Since the ceremony was to be held soon, all of the surviving vampires would be in attendance. The chamber that Buffy was being held in was next to Spike’s own room, meaning if anything went wrong, there were at least two full strength vampires nearby to come rushing in to prevent escape. The vampire at the bar said that Buffy was chained to the wall and that the guards with Spike had the key. So if by some small miracle I got in to Buffy’s chamber, I still had the matter of the chains to deal with. The surprise came when I asked why the vampire had come to the bar to begin with. The vampire had replied that he was picking up blood plasma to take back to the factory. The ce remony involved a large amount of Slayer blood, and Buffy had passed out from the blood loss. The nurse-turned-vampire that had been collecting the blood through an IV setup was going to use the plasma to revive Buffy and to collect more blood from her, since even plasma that had been ‘filtered’ through Buffy contained the genetic elements that made the Slayer’s blood so valuable. Upon hearing all of this from the vampire, I had looked at Willy with no expression on my face. If possible, the bar owner had made himself even smaller, since he knew that he had been a part of this by supplying the IV setup and the plasma. After looking at Willy for a few seconds, I had turned back to the vampire and continued my questioning.
All this flashed through my head as I entered the factory. I knew the approximate location of Buffy’s chamber in relation to the factory. The easy part was going to be finding the chamber. The medium part was going to be getting to the chamber without alerting the vampires. The hard part was going to be getting Buffy out of here, since at best she was weakened and at worst unconscious.
I figured that my initial plan from outside would still work. I continued walking through the corridor and down the stairs like I belonged there. I knew that if I tried to sneak about I would be using up time that I did not have. Upon turning the corner from the stairwell, I saw the glow of candles coming through a curtained off doorway. I knew that the first room was the vampire’s common room, where they hung out. The rooms beyond it was used as living quarters by the low ranking vampires. Through the curtain I could hear several voices chanting - preparing for the ritual, I guess. I did not want to go in there if I could help it. Across the hallway from the common room was Spike’s chamber. Even as I looked around the corner I could see a vampire sitting in a chair, trying not to look bored. That meant that there was possibly one other vampire in the chamber with Spike. If I remembered correctly, the nurse/vampire usually was assigned to help Spike, although she might be with Buffy collecting more blood.
I could see the door to Buffy’s chamber beyond the sitting vampire. It was approximately twenty-five yards from the vampire. I could see that the hallway beyond the vampire became a dead end, so I could not sneak in from the far end. In order to get to Buffy’s chamber, I had to get past the vampire at Spike’s door.
‘It looks like you have two choices here, kid. You could charge in shooting or try and bluff your way past that vamp. I don’t like either choice myself.’ Dark Xander was full of cheer and good news as he spoke in my head.
‘It doesn’t look like I have a choice here. If I start shooting, every vamp is going to come running. I’d like to avoid that if possible,’ I replied silently as I quickly touch-checked my gear under the long black coat. ‘It looks like I do the vamp routine again.’
‘Break a leg, kid. Talk to you after.’ Dark Xander knew that I did not need the distraction, so he kept quiet as I walked down the hall toward the vampire. As the vampire saw me approach, he stood up and faced me. Fine, that made my task easier. Just as I was two steps from him, I shrugged my shoulders again, letting the stake drop into my hand from the coat sleeve. I took one more step and without a pause I slammed the stake home. Luckily, vampires don’t make much noise as they turn to dust, so all I had to do was kick the dust pile under the chair to keep it out of sight. So much for bluffing.
As I kicked at the dust, I saw a key in the middle of the pile. I picked it up and saw that it was a padlock key. It must have been in the vampire’s pocket when I dusted him. I had a feeling I knew what this key was for, so I hung on to it and walked downthe hall to Buffy’s door.
The door to Buffy’s chambers was steel, with a regular doorknob and no lock. It surprised me for a second that the Slayer would be held under such light security, but I figured that the vampires thought that the chains would do the job. I put my hand on the knob, held my stake at the ready, and in one motion opened the door and rushed into the room.