the bunny warren v. Faith

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Dry Run

Author: Mikelesq
Concept: Just what WAS Spike doing while everyone was comforting Buffy and Dawn when Joyce died? Takes place during "The Body" episode of BtVS, and just prior to "Reprise" episode of AtS.
Note: I had a REALLY hard time trying to keep continuity with the past/present episodes (i.e. who would know what about whom, etc.). If anyone notices any glaring mistakes, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.
Rating: PG-13
Legal disclaimers: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" characters and situations are owned by Joss Whedon and the producers of the show. The story is entirely fiction. Distribute if you like.


"You lost, sweetheart?"

The girl nodded in response to Chuck's question. It seemed like the natural question to ask. Chuck had been standing at the bus stop, waiting to catch the crosstown express. The girl had walked up, presumably to do the same. Then she'd tapped him on the shoulder. He'd waited for a question, but the girl remained silent. She still hadn't said anything. Chuck asked:

"So...what are you looking for?"

The girl just stood there. Chuck looked at her mouth, anticipating a verbal response. When there was none, he looked at the rest of her. Short. Blonde. Cute shape. Looked a little like that girl...what's her name...the one from the movie he'd seen last week with his wife.

After the silence became awkward, Chuck asked:

"Hey, can't you talk?"

The girl shook her head from side to side.

"Can't, eh? What the matter, don't speak English?"

The girl again shook her head.

"So, what is it? Cat got your tongue?"

And again, she shook her head.

"Look," Chuck said, becoming exasperated, "this is getting us nowhere." He pulled a pen and one of his business cards from his shirt pocket. He handed them to the girl, and asked:

"Can you write?"

The girl took the pen and card, and shook her head up and down enthusiastically.

"Good," Chuck said. "Just write down what you're looking for, and I'll see if I can point you in the right direction."

The girl began writing. Christ, Chuck thought to himself, it's bad enough we get all these tourists in Los Angeles, now they're mute and can't even ask for directions.

The girl handed the card back to Chuck. He looked down at it, and saw one word:


"Um...OK," Chuck said, unsure of how to respond. "I don't know where you're talking about, but there's a gas station about two blocks up the street. If you ask them, they'll probably let you look at a phone book."

The girl smiled. Wide. A great, big, kid-finds-a-bike-under-the-Christmas-tree smile. Then she turned and began briskly walking up the street.

"Hey," Chuck shouted. "My pen!"

Part I.

"What do you mean, she's gone?!?"

"N-n-now, Spike, let's talk this over," Warren stammered. "It's no big deal. Sh-sh-she just wandered off, is all."

"You seem to have a recurring problem with that, you stupid git," Spike growled. "Get my robot back."

"I-I-I can't," Warren said. "She just took off. I don't know how to find her."

"How can she be out and about? You told me she wasn't done yet. If you've been holding out on me...."

Spike morphed into his vamp face to accentuate the threat. Of course, with the chip in his head, that was all he could do, but Warren didn't know that.

"Spike, listen," Warren said. "She's not done. Not even close. She can't even talk yet. And her face isn't finished. I've got her nose on back order from a custom doll maker in Taiwan, and her ears just arrived FedEx. She'd be earless and noseless if I hadn't put some spare parts on her just to check the circuits. Right now she looks more like Cameron Diaz than Buffy."

"Well, not altogether bad," Spike commented, "but not what I asked for."

"I know, I know. She'll be ready in a couple of weeks. A new nose, new ears, a little sculpting on the cheekbones and you'll never know the difference between her and the real Buffy."

"Assuming we get her back. How the Hell did she sod off?"

"I don't get it," Warren said. "I was programing her data banks while I was waiting for the parts. There must have been a glitch."

"What kind of glitch?"

"I don't know," Warren said. "I mean, I was programing her just like you told me to. Putting in all the background information, the fighting moves...."

"The special...?"

"Oh, yeah," Warren said. "Well, I hadn't gotten to that part. I was saving that for last. You have to program the basics first. Walking. Opening doors."

"Well, you'd obviously finished with all that."

"Yeah," Warren said. "It was a lot easier this time around. I already had most of the basic code written from when I made April. All I had left to do was to program individual reactions to outside stimuli."

"What do you mean?"

"You know," Warren explained. "Programming the robot to act like Buffy. If she sees a vampire, she slays. If she sees someone she knows, she says 'hi.' If she sees you...well, that's the part I was programing when the phone rang. The alterations."

"What alterations?"

"You know the ones," Warren explained. "Changing her attitudes toward you and that other vampire."


"Yeah," Warren said. "I started with him. I'd inputted all the information that you'd given me about him, and I was going to make the changes. Then the phone rang. Some guy wanting me to switch to MCI. I explained to him that my parents...."

"So let me get this straight," Spike interrupted. "You had just finished telling the robot how Buffy...the REAL Buffy...would react to Angel?"


"Which, based on what I told you, meant that she would love Angel madly?"

"Exactly," Warren said. "Then it's a matter of going back and changing the reactions."

"In other words, you were about to change her programing to make her despise Angel and love me, but before you could do that, you got up, answered the telephone, and when you came back, the robot was gone?"

"That's just what happened."

"So, the last time you saw the bleeding robot it was still crazy about Angel?"

"Well, I suppose."

"Warren," Spike asked, "didn't you program your last robot to love you?"


"And what happened when she discovered you were suddenly gone?"

"She went after me," Warren replied. "That's how I ended up...oh. Oh. Um, oops?"

"You bloody idiot!"

"Sp-sp-spike, please! Don't kill me!"

If only I could, Spike thought. "How do I get her back?"

"We just need to find her," Warren responded. "I learned my lesson last time."

Warren reached down to the coffee table and picked up what looked like a television remote control.

"I swiped this from the TV in my parents' room," Warren explained. "If you press the 'stop' button, the robot...well...stops. You'll have to get within twenty yards of her, though."

"Great," Spike said. "Looks like I'm going to L.A."

Part II.

Wesley gave the wheels an experimental push, and he moved forward in his wheelchair about a foot. He was still getting used to the movements of the chair. All of his doctors, not to mention Gunn and Cordelia, had told him to take it easy. Work will be there when you're ready, they said. Of course, it might not be there. The rent on the offices, as low as it was, came due in two weeks. The phone bill was already behind. And unless they pulled in a fee soon, Cordelia would have to live on whatever she could make doing the odd TV commercial, Gunn would be living on the streets again, and Wesley...well, he didn't know what he would do.

They needed to get paid, and they currently had one paying client: Francine Sharp. She would be in the next day. Wesley wheeled over to his coffee table and picked up his book of incantations. The deoculation spell was simple, and Wesley knew that he should really get some sleep. However, he decided to review the incantation one more time. There could be no error.

In the middle of his review Wesley heard a gentle knock on the door. He awkwardly pivoted the chair and wheeled toward the front door. He was about six inches from the door when he realized that he couldn't open the door with his chair blocking the way. He remembered the instructions the physical therapist gave him: if a door opens toward you, back up to it, turn the knob, and while you're holding the knob, give your right wheel a slight push, then go forward, letting the momentum of the door do the rest.

Wesley considered this, but impatience got the better of him. He undid the deadbolt, wheeled backward about five feet, and shouted:

"Come in!"

The door opened, and Spike walked into the apartment.

"Thanks for the invite, mate," Spike said. "I was all set to make up some rot about being the plumber, but you saved me the trouble."

Wesley instinctively jerked his wheelchair backward. "You're a vampire!"

Damn, Wesley thought. All the training I've had, all the training I've done, and I invite someone in without seeing them first.

"That's right," Spike answered, walking toward the fridge. He opened the door, and took out a beer.

"Really," Spike said. "Budweiser? You couldn't have a sixer of Bass? And you call yourself English." Spike cracked open the beer and took a sip.

"I've assimilated," Wesley said. "I know you. I've seen pictures. You're Spike, aren't you?"

"Live and in person," Spike replied. "Well, in person. You're Wesley, right? That Watcher that got sacked?"

"Yes," Wesley said. "I mean, no. I mean...what are you doing here?"

"The gang back at Sunnydale mentioned that you'd hooked up with my old poofter grandsire," Spike explained. "A few jokes were made at your expense. They don't think much of you."

"I'm sure they hold you in the highest regard," Wesley said. "I repeat, what are you doing here?"

"I'm looking for someone," Spike said. "I went looking for Angel, but the last place he lived apparently burned down. Your name was in the phone book. I remembered that you were his assistant, and I figured you could point me in the right direction."

"Hmm...let's see," Wesley said. "Direction...ah, yes, if you want to find Angel, I'd suggest you go...and stuff yourself."

"Now listen, mate," Spike said, morphing into his vamp face. "I'm going to ask you nicely one more time, and if you don't tell me what I want to know, you'll be quite sorry. Do you know how I got my name? Driving railroad spikes into blokes' heads who made me cranky."

"Quite ironic, then," Wesley responded. "Driving metal objects into your victims' skulls, and now a small bit of metal in your own skull keeps you from harming people."

Spike's face returned to normal form. "How did you know that?"

"I've been in close contact with Giles since Darla returned," Wesley replied. "Have you heard that your sire has been resurrected?"

"Great-grandsire, actually," Spike corrected. "And yes, I've heard. Dru mentioned it."

"Ah, Drusilla," Wesley said. "Yes, she's been around here, too. It's been quite the reunion since Darla returned. When Drusilla came back, I naturally became curious about the fourth member of Darla's little family circle. I contacted Giles to check on your whereabouts. He assured me that you were in Sunnydale. And of no concern, given that chip in your head."

"Just bloody wonderful," Spike said. "Bad news travels fast, doesn't it?"

"Now, Spike," Wesley said. "I would suggest you leave. I'm not altogether sure why our counterparts in Sunnydale haven't done away with you, but, rest assured, I have no qualms about doing so myself. And with that chip in your head you cannot stop me."

"Look," Spike said. "I really do need to see Angel. My contacts in L.A....well, last time it didn't work out so well. I need someone local to give me a hand."

"And of course Angel would be more than happy to help," Wesley said sarcastically. "After all, you've only brutally tortured him, what, twice?"

"Well, the last time I hired someone to do it for me," Spike said. "But, listen, I've changed. Giles must have told you. I'm on the straight and narrow. I fight the good fight for the forces of truth and light and justice and all that."

"Actually," Wesley said, "Giles told me that you do errands for them in order to make money and satisfy your bloodlust. Of late you've acquired the added motivation of a disturbed attraction to Buffy."

"It's disturbed no one more than me," Spike said. "Alright, I'm no, I mean, I'm no goody-two-shoes. But I am here for a good reason. When I tell Angel why I'm here, he'll want to help."

"I doubt it," Wesley said. "While any changes you've supposedly undergone are suspect, Angel's recent transformation is beyond dispute. He's become obsessed. Deranged. Driven. The nobility of any cause you supposedly are championing will not distract him."

"Angel's gone all loony, eh? Dru mentioned that. She said Darla was getting under his skin. Not surprising. He always had a soft spot for that snotty tart."

"Then we're agreed," Wesley said. "Now you can leave."

"Well, what about you? You should be able to give an out-of-towner a hand?"

"And why would I do that?"

"Well, it's not like I tortured YOU," Spike said. "We've never met."

"And thank God for that," Wesley responded. "Whatever you're up to, I want no part of it."

"Look, just hear me out," Spike said. He took a deep breath (for dramatic effect, of course), and said:

"These government blokes. The one's that gave me this chip. Well, they're still at it. They supposedly shut down, but I just found out they're building robots. Machines that look like people. They're strong, and look just like us. I had cornered one, but she gave me the slip. The last I heard she was coming to L.A. If I can find her, I can prove the government's still up to its old tricks."

Spike waited to see if his bluff would work. Wesley asked:

"And why would you care?"

Spike grinned in spite of himself. Wesley had bitten the bait.

"Well," Spike said, "I figure if I can deliver this robot to the Slayer, maybe I can score some points with her. You know, get into her good graces?"

"And why should I care?"

"Do you think the government's planting robots among us for no reason? It's a massive conspiracy. Surely Giles told you what a bad lot these guys are. You'd be helping to expose them. We both get something we want, and we can all sleep tight when it's done."

"As you can see," Wesley said, "I'm not in a condition to help anyone."

"Yeah," Spike said. "I noticed. I've been in a wheelchair myself, mate. It's a drag. But listen, I don't need you to do anything physical. I just need someone to get me around. I don't know where to start looking for the thing. I can handle the physical stuff. That robot won't set off the chip. I just need someone to help me get started."

"Look, Spike," Wesley said, "Even if I accept your motives as genuine, I still see no reason why...."

"I can pay you," Spike said.

Wesley's ears tingled, then he caught himself.

"Spike," Wesley said, "money isn't the issue."

"You do this for a living, right? What's wrong with getting compensated. Consider me a client. I'll pay cash. Up front. I've got about three hundred quid saved."

Wesley considered this. If Spike was telling the truth, this machine should be found, caught, and revealed. If Spike was lying...well, someone should keep an eye on Spike anyway, just to find out what he's really up to.

And of course, there was the money.

"Alright," Wesley said. "Do you have a car?"

Part III.

"It's called Caritas," Wesley explained as Spike wheeled him into the club. "The proprietor of this establishment is an empath. He can read the auras of his patrons as they sing."

"Wait a moment," Spike said. "Are you telling me I'll have to sing? In front of people?"

"It's the only way," Wesley said, as they arrived at a table. "How else can we find this robot?"

"You're the detective," Spike protested. "Detect. Sleuth. Snoop around. Get the word on the street."

"Spike, we have no picture of this girl, no name, no idea what she's doing here, and no indication that she would do anything criminal. How exactly do you propose we even tell people what to look for? Ask if they've seen a thin, blonde, attractive woman? This is Los Angeles. The robot may already have signed with the William Morris Agency."

"There's got to be another way," Spike said. "There's no way I'm getting up in front of everyone and...."

"Oh, don't be such a ninny," Wesley said. "Even vampires must have a poetic side."

Spike's eyes widened. He shouted:

"What the bloody Hell is that supposed to mean?!?"

Wesley recoiled. "Nothing. What's got into you?"

"Nothing," Spike replied. "Nothing at all. It's just..."

"Spike," Wesley interrupted. "There's no other way. If you want to find this robot, this is our only option."

"Wonderful," Spike said, trying to waive down a waitress. He'd need a drink.

Part IV.

The robot looked down at the sheet she had torn out of the yellow pages. Her microprocessors had nearly overloaded trying to figure out the meaning of the shape drawn on it. However, the words were clear:

"Angel Investigations."

She checked the address on the paper, and cross checked it against the road atlas software in her hard memory. She was in the right spot.

However, the charred mass of rubble in front of her did not make sense. There was no way Angel could live in such a place.

Her logic programing cross referenced the data she had accumulated:



Her main processor formulated a course of action:


The robot began to climb into the ruins.

Part V.

"Thank you, thank you very much!"

Spike gave the audience a half hearted wave, then returned to his seat next to Wesley. Spike asked:

", how was that?"

"Well," Wesley said, searching for the proper words. "I've never heard anyone sing 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' quite like that before."

"It's the only bloody song they had that I knew," Spike protested. "I checked that stupid book twice. No Sex Pistols, no Ramones, nothing."

"We're getting in a new sampler disc next week," the Host said as he walked up to the table. "Along with two cases of newts' eyes and a box of those little umbrellas for the mai tais."

"Spike," Wesley said, "this is the Host of Caritas, the empath I told you about."

"Hey," Spike said, rising from his chair. "Name's Spike. Wes here told me you...."

"Oh, my," the Host exclaimed, his eyes widening as he looked at Spike.

Spike's face dropped. "What is it? What do you see?"

"That jacket," the Host exclaimed. "What is it with vamps and jackets? Angelcakes has one just like that. Man, the undead have an eye for accessories. Makes me just want to go out and put a bullseye on my neck."

"Look," Spike said. "I need...."

"I know, puddin, I know," the Host said. "Wes, be a lambchop and have a drink while me and my new fashion hero have a heart to heart."

The Host put an arm around Spike and led him away from the table. When the Host stopped, Spike turned to face him and said:

"I'm looking for a robot. About five footish. Blonde."

"You're looking for more than that," the Host replied.


"And you haven't been exactly...oh, let's say 'forthcoming' with Wesleykins about it?"

"I know," Spike said. "But listen...."

"Listen," the Host repeated. "Look, Spike, I've already listened. To the first punk version of 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' I've ever heard, and hopefully the last. Trust me, I've listened enough. Now it's your turn."

Spike pursed his lips, then nodded. The Host continued:

"Look, Spike, what I do here is to set beings on their path. This path you're on, it may be right, it may be wrong, but that's a decision you have to make. The question is, are you ready to make that decision? Or are you just going on, and hoping everything will somehow work out?"

"I don't claim to have it all figured," Spike said. "It's just...I've never...."

The Host paused, and then asked:

"If I could tell you that what you're doing, with this robot, will actually get you closer to what you want than anything else that you could do, but that it's also going to cause you a lot of pain, would you just drop it, crawl into a bottle of Jack Daniels, and find some other hairbrained scheme? Or would you go on?"

"I'd go on," Spike said. "Nothing could be worse than what I've...."

"Oh, yes it could, my cardio-challenged friend," the Host interrupted. "It can get a lot worse. And it will. And when I say it's going to cause you pain, I'm not talking about boo-hoo, Bambi's-mother-got-shot, Kate-and-Leo-floating-in-the-ocean pain. I'm talking Straw-Dogs-dental-work pain. And when it's all over, even if you get a taste of what you're after, you can still lose it all. I mean, you can watch it all fall down to earth right in front of you. Are you ready for that?"

Spike set his jaw, and said:

"Yes. All of it."

The Host smirked. "Well, if you say so. Look, this robot, it's looking for Angel. You were looking for Angel. You're going to cross paths."

"I couldn't find Angel," Spike said. "Too much has changed since the last time I was here."

"Does she know anything you don't?"

"No," Spike said. "Everything she knows about Angel comes from what I told that little geek with his microchips and...Angel's old office! That's where she'll go, isn't it?"

"And the Vampire goes on to the bonus round."

"Thanks, mate," Spike said, and hurried back to Wesley.

Part VI.

"Why would this robot be looking for Angel?"

Spike kept his eyes on the road as he pondered a way to answer Wesley's question. Then he turned to look at Wesley in the passenger seat and said:

"Well, it knows I'm after it. Probably figured I'd check in with Angel, so it went to eliminate any help I might get."

"How does this robot know so much about you?"

"Well, er, you know. The blokes who put that chip in my head also made the robot. So they probably know enough about me to figure my next move."

"I suppose that makes sense," Wesley said. "Look, Spike, if I find out you've been lying to me...."

"I'm not. You'll see. We'll get to your old digs, and they'll be a robot there. If not, you can go on your way."

"Take this next left," Wesley instructed. Spike turned.

"Anyway," Spike said, "once I get my...I mean, get the robot, I'll leave this bloody town and it won't be your problem."

"I don't know what it is you're trying to accomplish, Spike," Wesley said. "I didn't know Buffy long, but cannot see her becoming enamored of you simply because you bring her some robot."

"Well, I've got to try," Spike said. "I mean, you know how it is. There must have been some woman you've wanted bad enough to do anything for."

"But it's not real," Wesley protested. "I mean, I had my own little flirtation with Cordelia. But it was only all-consuming because I couldn't have her. Once we came to our senses we realized it was absurd."

"Oh, I suppose you've got it all figured out," Spike said. "Well, tell me, if that's true, why are you out here with me, eh? Why isn't some bird playing nursemaid to your boo-boo tummy?"

"I'll have you know I'm involved with a lovely young woman," Wesley said. "The only reason she wasn't with me was because I told her to go home. She wanted to stay with me, but I insisted that it was unnecessary."

Of course, Wesley thought to himself, it was a little too easy to persuade her. Virginia was relieved when the doctor told Wesley that he was well enough to go home, but she seemed slightly more relieved when Wesley told her that she needn't go home with him.

"In my experience, mate," Spike said, "women do what they want whether you ask, tell, insist, or demand. Your honey may not...."

"Spike, shut up," Wesley said. "We're here."

Spike pulled up to the curb across from the ashen remains of Angel Investigations' former office.

Spike asked:

"Do you see her?"

"No," Wesley replied. "She may not...wait, did you hear that?"

"I did," Spike said. "It sounded like it came from inside the building."

Spike leapt from the car. He told Wesley:

"Stay here. I'll go see if this robot's wandering about inside."

"Spike, be careful," Wesley said, and then immediately wondered why he'd said it. He started to realize why the Scoobies hadn't killed Spike. Knowing that he couldn't harm humans made it seem almost sadistic to wish Spike any harm.

"Will do, mate," Spike said.

Spike turned and ran toward the building. As he ran he put his left hand in his jacket pocket, checking to be sure that the remote control Warren had given him was still there. It was.

Spike climbed through the rubble, and found the stairway down to the basement. Spike heard the sounds of a struggle coming from below. The steps creaked as he descended, but fortunately they were still strong enough (barely) to bear his weight.

As Spike reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw a tiny blond girl (damn, Spike thought, she does look like Cameron Diaz) engaged in a fight with two vampires. Several corpses were strewn about the basement floor. The two vamps had apparently been using the abandoned building as a nest.

Spike lunged for the vampire on the robot's left, tackling it to the ground.

"Hey," the vamp exclaimed, "cut it out! That's the Slayer!"

"I know," Spike said, headbutting the vamp.

The vamp lifted its knees to its chest and pushed Spike away. Spike staggered backward a bit, then regained his composure. The vamp lunged for him. Spike caught the vamp by the forearms, and threw him against a pile of burned beams. Spike wondered to himself whether there was enough living wood at the core of those beams to be effective against a vampire.

As the vamp landed against the beams, one of them pierced his back and came protruding out of his chest. A look of horror swept across his face just before he turned to dust.

Enough wood after all, Spike thought, before turning his attention to the other vamp, who had just landed a blow across the robot's face. Realizing he was outnumbered, the vamp made a break for the stairs. The robot followed and tackled the vamp just as it reached the top of the stairs.

"Hey," Spike shouted. "Watch it."

The warning came too late, however, as the force of the robot and the vamp landing on the stairs caused them to collapse. The robot grabbed the ledge, hanging on with one hand, and clutching a stake in the other. The vampire fell to the ground. As the vamp struggled to his feet, Spike grabbed a piece of wood from the floor and buried it in the vamp's chest. It disintegrated.

"Hang on," Spike shouted. He dropped the wood from his hand and made a running leap toward the ledge. He sprang into the air, and caught the ledge with both hands.

"Hang on, luv," Spike said. "I'll boost myself up and...hey!"

The robot made several awkward attempts to stake Spike with her free hand while holding the ledge with the other.

"Stop that," Spike protested. "I'm trying to save you."

Damn Warren and his stupid programing, Spike thought. Spike released his hands from the ledge and fell to the ground, twisting his ankle as he landed. He looked up at the robot. There was no way he could know whether the robot was strong enough to survive the fall.

As he looked up, he felt ash falling on his face and heard the few remaining support beams overhead start to creak. All the commotion was making the already unstable structure even more unstable. There was no time to hesitate.

Spike positioned himself under the robot, then removed the remote control from his pocket and pressed the STOP button. The robot went limp and began to fall. Spike reached out his arms to catch her, but the robot body was dead weight, and fell right on top of Spike. He buckled under the weight, crashing to the ground with the robot on top of him. He looked up just in time to see wooden support beams from the ceiling of the basement come crashing down.

"Bloody Hell," Spike muttered, as he braced for the impact.


"What happened to you?"

"A bit of an accident," Spike replied to Wesley's question. He limped toward the car, his clothes covered in black ash, and every inch of his body sore. The robot was slung over his shoulder. He opened the back door of the car and tossed the robot onto the back seat. Wires protruded randomly from the places where the falling beams had punctured the robot's body.

"My God," Wesley said. "That looks remarkably like...."

"Now wait a minute," Spike interrupted. "I know what you're going to say, and I can explain."

"Why would the government make a robot that looks like Cameron Diaz?"

"Uh, well," Spike said. "That's, uh, what I was going to explain. They were planning to, um, infiltrate the movies. Yeah. Replace all these celebrities with robot doubles, get all their millions of dollars, finance their experiments, and a bunch of other evil stuff."

"Diabolical," Wesley said. "Well, I can see you weren't lying." "What can I say, mate," Spike replied. "I've turned a new leaf. Anyway, I'll just drop you at your flat, then make my way back home."

And bring my robot with me, Spike thought. He almost wished he had time to stop at Caritas and give the Host a good thrashing. Green bugger and his stupid predictions: he'd gotten his robot back; it had "crashed to earth," literally; and, yes, Spike had gotten a little banged up. But nothing as bad as the Host had suggested.

"I wish I could say I wish you well, Spike," Wesley said. "But I doubt that bringing this robot back is going to make Buffy think well of you. Of course, I'll be interested to hear about how it turns out the next time I talk to Giles."

Damn, Spike thought. He'd forgotten. If Wesley opened his big mouth....

"Yeah," Spike said. "You do that. Oh, and I'll let Buffy know that Angel's in a bad way. I'm sure she'd be more than willing to pop by and give him a pep talk."

"Um, Spike," Wesley said. "I don't know that telling Buffy about Angel would be a good idea. Cordelia and I discussed that when Angel's problems began. While I'm sure Buffy would mean well, she's never been a...stabilizing...factor in Angel's life. Another lost love from the past could only make Angel's current dilemma even more confusing."

"Well, I've got to tell them something, mate," Spike said. "I mean, I've spent all this time in Los Angeles. When I tell them I came to L.A. to get the robot, they're bound to ask...."

"Don't tell them," Wesley said. "Tell them you got it back on your own. Tell them the robot went to San Diego or Tarzana. Tell them anything. Just leave us out of it."

"Well, alright," Spike agreed. "But you've got to keep this hush-hush. With the government involved, we'll probably keep the robot thing close to the vest, so you can't mention that you know anything about it, or the jig is up."

"Agreed," Wesley said. "No mention of the robot from me. I won't even tell Cordelia."

"Perfect," Spike said. "I'm glad to help."

More than glad, Spike thought, as he hopped behind the wheel, started the engine, and wondered to himself whether Warren had received the new nose yet.


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