“We should just go in,” Dawn hissed in an urgent whisper.
Angel shook his head. “No. Only fools rush in.”
Spike’s forehead wrinkled in thought. “Isn’t that a song? Sounds damn familiar.”
“This isn’t a time for jokes,” Angel said.
Dawn glared. “Why are you looking at me?! I didn’t say it!”
“Elvis,” Spike muttered, bobbing his head and staring off into the darkness. “Just came to me.”
“We’re not going in!”
“I didn’t say we were! Bloody hell, give it a rest, would you, Droopy Drawers?”
All three of them sighed in annoyance and Spike’s thoughts drifted off until he was no longer seeing the abandoned buildings in front of them.
Tara’s tracking spell had worked like a charm, and the runaway-vamp had been tracked back to where they were now - Happy Burger. Or least it had been Happy Burger until the Double Meat Palace had monopolised the burger market with student coupons and family specials. Now Happy Burger stood sadly empty, devoid of flipping patties and saturated fats.
Businesses didn’t tend to stay closed for long in Sunnydale. One closed and another took its place. These premises, though, had been empty for the last couple of months and, strangely, so had the few buildings surrounding it.
Spike pulled out the cloth map from his pocket and consulted it. They’d watched tracker-vamp leave Happy Burger earlier in the evening and now, by the looks of it, he was on his way back.
Spike stared in wonder at the map. It was a bloody amazing bit of magic. Not even satellite navigation could rival it. Conjured to focus on its specific target, the map swelled as the blinking dot moved further towards them, slowly zooming to show more details as the vampire closed in on them. Spike blinked to re-focus his eyes as the map produced small side roads and more intricate illustrations of the buildings around them.
Tall, with shoulder length white-blond hair, the vampire approached the building, cast a brief look over his shoulder, and pushed open the door.
Dawn opened her mouth to speak.
“No,” Spike and Angel said together.
“Then what?” Dawn asked.
“We wait and we watch,” Spike said. “We need an idea of numbers, entrances and exits and such.”
Dawn didn’t look happy, and Spike couldn’t really blame her. Sitting and watching wasn’t his thing either, and it hadn’t been Buffy’s, but it was necessary. If they were going to go into battle, they had to be ready, had to be prepared.
Things were much easier in the old days, Spike mused, when he only had Drusilla to worry about, and, apart from that one small thing in Prague, she could pretty much take care of herself. But now he had humans to be mindful of, breakable people. It was so much harder, and Spike allowed himself a moment to think about what it would be like if Xander wasn’t quite so breakable.
They sat through most of the night, taking it in turns to patrol around the surrounding area and follow the odd vampire who decided it was a nice night for a stroll.
By the time the sun was threatening to come up, they decided to call it a night. They fell back further into the shadows and quietly made their way back to the Magic Box where the others were anxiously waiting.
Angel flipped open his notepad and tossed it onto the table. Cordelia quickly snagged it before anyone else could.
“Wow, that many?” she said.
“It’s approximate,” Spike clarified.
“Still…” Cordelia looked uneasily at Xander, “fifty?”
Xander eyes widened and he looked over at Spike, alarmed. “Fifty?! Tell me you all had a sudden bout of collective double vision.”
Spike shook his head unnecessarily.
“Fifty,” Gunn mused quietly. “That’s okay. That’s…doable.”
“Sure it is,” Fred chirped in. “Especially with all our new toys. I’ve been making improvements.”
“Yeah?” Spike said, perching on the edge of the table and putting his arm around Xander when he came to stand next to him. “Like what?”
“Well, I’ve managed to increase the voltage on the basic stunners from 775,000 volts to 975,000; the tasers now have four darts instead of the two, each with twenty foot lines instead of ten and 100,000 volts per dart instead of 75,000 - I’ve also changed them to a cartridge style, so if you miss, you can eject the cartridge, fit a new one and try again. Oh, and the pocket stunner now comes in pink.”
Dawn squealed at that and caught the tiny stunner when Fred threw it with a grin.
“The truck is ready and able,” Gunn said, raising his voice so he could be heard over the top of Dawn and now Cordelia. “You should see the custom stakes Xand made for it. Huge motherfuckers. We’re gonna skewer ourselves some serious vampire-kebabs tomorrow night.”
“Goodness.” Wesley sat down heavily in one of the chairs already pulled out from under the table. “Tomorrow night,” he echoed. “It’s come around rather quickly, hasn’t it? Seems like only yesterday we started planning this.”
Almost everyone nodded silently.
“Is everybody absolutely sure they’re ready?” Angel asked. “No doubts, no backing out?”
“I think everyone knows what’s at stake,” Xander said.
“Fred?” Angel caught her eye. “Are you okay with this?”
Fred looked unsure only for a second. “More than ready. They’ll regret ever stepping into this town,” she said with a resolute nod.
It was a surreal moment where time seemed to stop for a moment, an elongated pause that stretched even further as they cast furtive glances at each other.
“Sun’s just about up,” Spike said, shattering the quiet. “It’s time we weren’t here.” He wandered purposefully behind the counter and picked up a thick moss coloured blanket which he threw around his shoulders. Xander joined him, his car keys jangling in his fingers.
“Drop me at Happy Burger on the way, Xand?” Dawn asked.
“Uh, okay. You know they’re all out of burgers, right?”
Dawn rolled her eyes and pulled a disposable camera from her pocket. “I figured it’ll be safe to take a few pictures now it’s light. I thought it might be helpful for working out blind spots and the exits.”
“That’s a good idea,” Tara said. “I’ll come with you. Just in case.”
“Don’t be too long, though,” Xander said, looking concerned. “We all need to get home and get to bed. Sleep is needed. Much of it. We’ve got a long night ahead of us.”
Spike elbowed him and glared. “Sex,” he said through a fake cough into his fist.
“Oh, uh, of course, it wouldn’t hurt to be thorough. Maybe you guys could photograph the area around the buildings, like…other buildings. And stuff.”
Dawn smirked and turned away.
Tara bit her lip and picked fluff from her shirt.
Cordelia screwed up her nose. “Oh, give me strength. Not again. Sex, sex, sex, that’s all you two ever do.”
Spike was about to open his mouth and make a cutting remark about a green-eyed monster when Angel opened his mouth instead.
“You’re, uh, welcome to stay here.” He pointed at the ceiling and the apartment above. “There’s a spare room. It’s mostly clear. You might want to watch out for the Samurai swords, though. Wes has been storing them in there. Pointy.”
“Oh…um…” Cordelia blushed bright red and Spike’s eyes began to widen.
“Or there’s the couch,” Angel went on awkwardly. “Or I could take the couch. All the windows have blackout blinds so…”
“Thank you, Angel. That would be…”
A long, luxurious smirk trickled over Spike’s face, and he opened his mouth again. Unfortunately, Xander’s hand clamped over it before he had a chance to even squeak. The blanket was pulled over his head and he was unceremoniously shoved out of the door and towards the car by Xander and Tara.
“Don’t make a fuss,” Xander said quietly and quickly. “Just let the annoying people pair off.”
“I’m sleeping in Cordelia’s bed tonight, just so you know,” Tara said.
The car door was unlocked and Spike half climbed in, half let himself be shoved.
“You don’t think they’re gonna, you know, do it, do you?” Dawn asked, climbing into the back seat. “What about the whole perfect happiness thing?”
“Bloody hell, you birds don’t half jump ahead. There’s a big difference between ‘Perfect Happiness’ and ‘Most Probably Gonna Get a Hand-job’.
“He only asked her if she wanted to stay,” Tara said. “Maybe they’re just friends.”
“Maybe they want more than friendship,” Dawn suggested, the grin evident in her voice.
“Maybe they’re already shagging like a couple of rampant rabbits.” Spike peered through his blanket over at Xander who looked a little bit green.
“Maybe I’ll just roll the window down and be sick.”
"Why are we doing this again?"
Xander sighed and fought off the urge to try something stupid, like strangle Gunn. "Because someone needs to watch the place."
"I know that, man. I mean, why not just use that rocket launcher of yours and blast the place while they're all asleep? A few gallons of gasoline and presto, flambéed vampires. No muss, no fuss. Well, unless you count the possibility of being arrested for arson, but I'm pretty sure we could pull it off."
Xander laughed. "Listen, this town had the same mayor for a hundred years and no one noticed there were never any elections. I'm sure the police wouldn't even bat an eye, even if the station is only six blocks away. Problem is, the fire department is only two so they'd probably put it out before everyone got crisped. And, well, there are a lot of tunnels in the area, so they might have an underground way out. Nah, better to wait until they're just waking up and go in."
"Damn. This sitting here waiting is gonna drive me nuts."
Xander couldn't help but agree. Then again, it didn't help that there was a huge mural of a clown on the side of Happy Burger. It was faded and old but still...clown. Why Sunnydale seemed to get all the reject restaurant franchises, he didn't know. Maybe it was some sort of curse?
This entire end of town was creepy. It was only a few blocks from the busy area of Sunnydale but it had long ago fallen into disrepair. Beside Happy Burger was what used to be a gymnastic academy for little kids. It had closed not long after Xander had started Junior High and been turned into a place that fixed radiators. Now it was empty and boarded up, its parking lot a junkyard for the garage across the street. They were currently parked down the street in front of a bar that made Willie's place look upscale. Beside it was a run down laundromat where, three times in the past year alone, dead bodies were found in the huge dryers.
Next to that was a convenience store/porn shop. How it stayed open, Xander could never figure out. Xander never saw anyone go in or out. He couldn't figure out if it was because no one was struck with an urgent need for Cheetoes and lube at the same time, or if it was because the old woman who owned/ran the place had a milky eye and a cold sore that had been there since the early 1970's, according to local legend.
All in all, this end of town was sparsley populated, so no one would notice several vampires going in and out of the boarded up Happy Burger. Of course, that left Xander with the mental image of vamps sleeping in the booths and on the old salad bar, but he figured Riley was counting on it being the last place in Sunnydale someone would look for an evil horde of vampires.
It certainly made vampires look sorta goofy. Unless they were, like, vampire clowns and then everyone would run away in fear.
And wasn't that a bad B movie? Vampire Clowns from Outer Space?
"Man, this is boring. This is worse than listening to Cordelia tell us about her shopping trip."
Xander snorted and made himself more comfortable, leaning against the car door. "Tell me about it. You forget, I dated Cordy. I've gone shopping with Cordy and been made to carry her bags. I'm pretty much certain there is a level of hell where men are forced to watch while their women try on sixty pairs of high heels that look exactly the same."
"Do you think they're doing it?"
"Hey, the relationship between Cordelia and her shoes is very private. And we never got really far below the waist so it's not like I heard her yelling Prada or Jimmy Choo when she had a big O, you know? And that's something I really don't want to know."
Gunn gave him a look. "And yet, you know the designer names. No, man, I'm talking about Queen C and Angel. I was feeling some vibes and wondering if we needed to hose them down or something. Doesn't he go all Evil Twin if he bumps uglies?"
Xander shrugged. "He loses his soul if he has a perfect moment of happiness. However, Cordelia knows this; she's seen the damage Angelus can do. So I don't worry about her so much as when he and Buffy were still sniffing each other's butts. I loved Buffy but she had this huge blind spot when it came to Angel. Like, block the sun out huge. Still, just the mental image of Cordy and Angel doing anything together kind of makes my mental eye go blind."
"Perfect happiness, huh? That's, like, a really sucky escape clause there. Still, I bet our girl Cordy will get around it. She'll probably criticize his technique the entire time."
Xander laughed. "Yeah, they are the perfect match when you think about it. Angel likes to angst and be all miserable, and Cordy likes to make men miserable. I bet that Angelus ends up hiding in some corner of Angel's mind, crying like a baby."
"You ever notice we have some of the weirdest conversations?"
"Hey, I walked in on Angel and Spike arguing over who would win in a fight, astronauts or cavemen. They were about ready to vamp out and beat each other deader. It was scary and yet oh so amusing. Us talking about Deadboy's sex life isn't as bad. Well, when you put it that way it is, but...you know what I mean."
There really wasn't much to do other than sit in the truck and talk. The sun set around eight that night but they had to keep an eye out for other demons that might be nesting with the vampires. Plus there was no way Angel and Spike could get there right when the sun came down; they were nearby but it would still take them ten to fifteen minutes to get there. This was the only way to make sure they got everyone -- start the attack before the sun went down, but not too much earlier so Spike and Angel could come in to help save the day.
Still, he was bored just sitting here, especially since he knew there were vamps that they could be killing just a half a block away. "Wanna play I Spy?"
"Awww, come on, Gunn, it'll be fun! Hey, that rhymes."
"You know, when we moved here I thought you people on the Hellmouth were crazy...now I know you are! And you're trying to drag me down with you."
Too bad he didn't have that freaky twin from last year. He could have done that weird 'Come play with us' thing from The Shining. As it was, Xander made do with humming "Ain't It Great To Be Crazy" under his breath.
Twenty minutes later, Xander was positive that both he and Gunn had gone over the edge. They'd only been here a couple of hours but they were bored to tears. Gunn was squirming as if his can of pop was about to make a reappearance and Xander was more than halfway convinced the eyes of the Evil Vampire Clown were moving, mural or not.
Both Xander and Gunn jumped and somehow hit their heads on the windshield at the same time. Xander rubbed his head and finally noticed that Tara was standing beside the truck. Where she came from, Xander had no clue, and he could just see the faint smirk she was suppressing. The little witch was amused she'd scared the piss out of them! "Tara! What the hell?"
"Sorry. It's just...Wes and I wrote a spell. It's sort of like a...well, a roach motel ward. I'll be able to seal the building so the vamps can't get out. Scoot over, Xander."
Xander did as he was told, grumbling about too-quiet witches the entire time. Gunn, however, gave Tara a grin.
"Roach motel for the fanged set, huh? I think I like that. Especially if it means we can get out of this dump."
"Well, it should work...but I'll have to stay here to keep it going."
Xander groaned and Gunn slammed his head on the steering wheel. Still, there was nothing else they could do. Xander scooted over some more and tried to ignore how close he was to Gunn. The man did look good, even if Xander was more partial to blonde hair and really pale skin. "Well, witchy woman, you're up. Do your...witchy stuff."
Five minutes later and a flash of blue light seemed to surround the Happy Burger and they were back to waiting. "Hey, how much longer until the others get here?"
Tara answered that. "They should be here by seven, no later than seven thirty. We can start not long after that if we want. Fred wants to drive the truck, by the way. She and Cordelia were fighting over it."
Xander shuddered. He wasn't sure about Fred, but he was certain Cordy could turn the truck into a deadly weapon. She did it every other time she was on the road. "Great, over two hours left to wait. Under the eye of the Evil Clown, no less."
Gunn shook his head. "Don't even ask; you don't want to know."
Xander pointed at the side of the building they were all now watching. "I'm telling you, that thing is giving me the evil eye. Riley's found some magic guy to bring it to life and it's warned everyone. They'll be waiting with fangs and guns and spatulas."
Both Tara and Gunn looked at him as if he was insane. "Spatulas?"
Xander huffed and sat back. "Just ask Cordy how deadly a spatula can be!" They weren't going to listen; he'd have to wait till Spike or Dawn got there. Spike would listen to him, if only because he'd want sex again at some point in time, and Dawn knew just how evil clowns could be.
Five minutes passed and the truck was quiet and he was bored again. It was hot and sticky and just plain uncomfortable. Xander was halfway convinced that the others set them to watching so he and Gunn would be uber-mad and more than halfway nuts so they could scare the vamps. As it was, his eyes hurt from trying to keep an eye on the building.
"There! Did you see it? It moved! The Evil Clown Mural From Outer Space moved!"
Tara laughed quietly under her breath as Gunn groaned. "Xander..."
He sat back and tried to keep the smile off his face. If he was going insane from the boredom, he was taking Gunn with him. Besides, now Gunn was worried about the clown, and not the fifty some vampires waiting to kill them. He'd give it another hour before bringing out the big guns.
Gunn should be ready to kill lots of bad guys after a good hour of "Is it time yet?"
Beta'd by kitty_poker1