"Quick, hide!" Buffy pulled Spike out of his chair. "Get in the bathroom!"
"Yeah, they'll never find me there," he snorted, but followed her lead anyway.
After Buffy shoved him in and locked the door, she noticed Xander cowering in the hallway. "What are you doing?"
"I fear the Fuzz. It's only semi-irrational."
"Fine. Stay here." She heard the front door open.
"Good afternoon, officers," Giles said. "How can I help you?"
"Are you the owner of this apartment?"
"I'm the renter. Is there a... a problem?"
Buffy came out to the living room. One of the men glanced at her, then told Giles, "We'd like to speak to the driver of the vehicle."
"I'm sorry, vehicle?"
"The vehicle that crashed through your apartment complex's front gates and is currently residing in the middle of your courtyard."
"Ah yes. That vehicle."
"It was me," Buffy said. "I did it."
Spike scoffed, loudly.
"Is that him? Is he inside?"
Buffy glanced at Xander, who was still hiding, and said, "No, it was me."
The cops shared a chuckle. "Witness said it was a man, not a pregnant lady. Mind if we take a look around?"
"Yes, I do mind," Giles said. "I believe you need a search warrant for that."
There was a flick, and smoke wafted into the room. Spike was smoking?
"Sir, if we suspect that you're harboring a felon, we can arrest you."
"Okay, okay," Xander said, emerging from the hallway with his hands up, trembling. "I confess. I'm Reckless Endangerment Felon Guy, take me downtown, book me, do your worst."
"Xander, what are you doing?"
"Turn around, sir--"
He shrugged at Buffy as they cuffed him. "I got time, you don't."
Buffy was touched. Xander always surprised her.
"That's not him!" The shrieking neighbor appeared as they took him out. "He had white hair, and he was on fire! I saw the same man scaling the building last night, I'm telling you they're all crazies!"
"All right, Ma'am," said the second cop as he closed the door on her. "Thank you. We've got it under control here."
While they uncuffed Xander, there was a muffled transmission on their radio. The first cop sighed. "Car's unregistered and uninsured. We're gonna have to impound it."
"Oh for bloody's sake," Spike said, shocking them all as he strode into the living room, cigarette in his mouth. "It was me, alright? I done it." He dug into his pockets and shook two billfolds in the air. "But I got half a G for each of you says otherwise."
Stunned, Buffy frowned at the money.
"We don't take bribes, sir. You'll have to come with us."
Spike sighed and grudgingly took out another two folds. "Fine. A thousand each. Come on then. Almost Christmastime..."
The first cop looked it over suspiciously. "Is there blood on this money?" He lifted his radio to his mouth and said to the other, "Cuff him."
"Just my luck, they send the honest ones." But he noticed Willow and Tara had joined hands, and were whispering something.
Eyes going blank, the first cop said into his radio, "Perp escaped through a back window. We searched the premises, no one here knows the guy. We'll comb the area accessible by foot. Send a tow for the car." He turned it off, and said to Spike before they left, "Have a nice day."
When the door closed, Xander said, "Hi, my best friend is a Jedi."
Hand on hip, Buffy had other concerns. "Where the hell did that come from?"
Spike waved the cash. "Scared it out of a few monsters."
"Let me get this straight. You ran off last night, in the middle of all this ...to gamble?"
"No, I ran off to get some information, and as a bonus I made a little cash. For you!"
"Funny how it's 'for me', and yet I know nothing about it!"
With a collective sigh, the Scoobies took their seats in the living room to wait for the storm to pass.
"Funny how I thought it came second to the bloody god wants to gobble up our baby!"
Sensing the gang's discomfort, Buffy led him to the bathroom with a terse, "Come with me."
* * *
"I can't believe you!" she whispered hotly.
"Well believe me when I say our nest egg's close to fifty grand now."
"Fifty..." She didn't understand. "Thousand?"
"In two weeks, Daddy's earned half Junior's college fund. Now how 'bout a little gratitude?"
"Spike, you make me ill. You haven't 'earned' anything in your life! And P.S.? I will never have anything to do with your filthy, blood-stained, extorted money, so keep it to yourself and leave me and my child out of it!" She slapped the bills out of his hand.
Watching his loot litter the floor, he scoffed. "You're a piece of work."
Her jaw dropped. "I? I am a piece of work?"
"Yeah, you!" He backed her up against the sink as he spoke. "One minute I'm the greatest thing that ever bloody happened to you, the next I'm nothing but a worthless dreg of a lowlife!" Teeth clenched, he growled, "Why don't you do us all a bloody fucking favor and bloody make up your bloody fucking mind!"
She glared at him, nostrils flared, air streaming out.
He glared at her, just as stubborn.
She swallowed, and glanced at his lips.
He glanced at hers.
And suddenly, their mouths collided, hands magnetizing to napes of necks and downward.
"Spike," she said, biting his ear and freeing his t-shirt from his jeans, "Please, I need you..."
"Anything you want, kitten," he kissed a fast, grateful path over her collarbone as he hiked up her dress, "Anything."
* * *
"So," Xander said, tapping the couch. "Got any really loud music?"
"That's not a bad idea," Giles said, and headed to the stereo.
"Oh my god, Xander!" Anya came rushing into the apartment, out of breath. "Are you hurt?"
"I saw Spike driving like a madman down on Main and I thought of your squishy parts being broken." She ran into his arms. "I don't want your squishy parts broken."
Xander pulled her close. "My parts are whole and squishy as ever. Wait, that... sounded wrong."
"Let's go home to your basement," she said, nuzzling like a cat. "There, I can make sure all your parts are in working order. And by all, I mean--"
"Music?" Willow begged of Giles.
"Yes, here we are." He turned up 'Bad Moon Rising'.
"As much as I'd love to be thoroughly checked," Xander told Anya, "there's a teensy apocalypse we need to stop first."
"Is this about Buffy again?" At his affirmative shrug, Anya sighed and sat down. "Well? Where is she?"
"She's uh... running a parts check on Spike. But we're hoping it's an express service, like Jiffy Lube."
* * *
Oh, to be taken in again.
For Spike, this was all there was, all he wanted. Everything fell away but her warmth, her scent... her pulse thrumming beneath her skin.
Staring into the mirror over the sink, Buffy watched her cheeks flush as he eased his way in from behind.
He touched her open mouth and said, "Love your lips."
Nibbling his finger and bringing him close to her ear, she whispered with a sly grin, "Tell me more, God."
* * *
"'A golden amulet used to defeat baby-stealers and said to drive away Li- li- tu," Giles said, shouting over the music and squinting at the text that Willow had transcribed under hypnosis.
"Lilitu?" Willow asked. "Isn't that Lilith?"
"Who?" Giles said.
"Lilith!" Willow shouted.
"I don't see how this is fair," Anya said. "I think we should tell them to jiffy faster. What if someone has to pee?"
"Do you have to pee?"
"No, but someone will, and they'll still be in there, gleefully copulating and contributing nothing to the research at hand."
* * *
"...and your bouncy, shiny hair," he grabbed it and took a deep inhale, "smells so good... feels so silky and bloody clean... just... makes me want to defile you..."
She guided his hand to her swollen clitoris. "Defile me how?"
"You wait 'til Junior's safe in a crib." He gave it a soft pinch, then rolled it between two fingertips. "You won't get out of bed for a week."
Her naughty little smile was intoxicating. He sped up his thrusts and sneered, "Count on it."
So close... Still focused on the mirror, she begged him, "Please, please, more, say more, say anything."
"Tell me something, Buffy," he angled her face toward his. "Tell me why you love me."
He didn't get an answer. By the time he reached the end of the sentence she'd already begun to climax, and as she shuddered uncontrollably against him, Spike gave in and let go.
At his last ecstatic surge, he slipped on his money.
Reflexes dimmed by the afterthroes of passion, Buffy grabbed whatever she could to avoid falling with him. Unfortunately, the doorknob of Giles' recessed medicine cabinet wasn't the best choice: as they toppled ungracefully to the floor, the entire unit popped out of the wall and came crashing down with them.
On her back, surrounded by a mess of mirror shards, grooming products and blood-spattered cash, Buffy came to a conclusion. "We really shouldn't have sex in bathrooms."
"Yeah," he said, crushed beneath her. "You're probably right."
"Sorry!" She tried to get up. "It's just... gravity isn't my friend right now."
"S'alright. I can always appreciate a good jiggle."
"Stop it." She swatted his roving hands away. "We've gotta clean up and get back out there before they figure out what we've been doing."
"Because Giles always blares Classic Rock Explosion when we're just sussing things out."
Using the sink to hoist herself up, she said, "You think they know?"
"That their little girl's not a virgin anymore?" He gave her a snarky look while brushing mirror bits off his shirt. "Safe to say yes."
Her frown turned to a pout. "Now I can't face them. This is your fault. Why do you make me do such slutty things all the time?"
"Oh pouty, don't fret." He pulled her close, touched her bottom lip. "Remember who you are. You're the Slayer, you're all grown up, and you're gonna be a mum. You've got a right to be as slutty as you want." He added quickly, "With me."
"Not in Giles' bathroom I don't."
"Well, granted, he might not be thrilled with this gaping hole in his wall..."
That's when Spike noticed it: a large, rectangular tablet wedged into the crevice, its protective shroud sagging to reveal a symbol he recognized from Cordelia's drawing.
"Or maybe he will."
* * *
"That's it! My ears can't take any more." Anya got up just as the bathroom door opened. "Are you finished with your sex now? Because I'd really like Giles to turn down his attempt to recapture his long-lost youth."
Buffy tried to look innocent. "We weren't--"
"Right, fun's over," Spike announced, cutting off the stereo and waving the tablet at Giles. "Found this. Got ancient chicken scratch all over it, you must've hid it ages back and forgot it. Could pertain, yeah?"
"It... certainly could." Giles took the tablet in hand as if for the first time. "Where did you find this?"
"Hidey-hole behind your bathroom cabinet. Dead crafty of you, mate. Oh, and," Spike placed a wad of bills onto the tablet, "for the damage."
"Damage--?" Giles rethought his question when he saw Buffy's blush. "Never mind." He stuffed the money in his pocket and inspected the tablet. "How very odd... it is indeed my hiding place for my most precious books, but I've never seen this before in my life."
"Maybe it was planted?" Willow suggested. "Maybe WinQuar did it!"
Anya scoffed. "WinQuar would never do anything so plebeian."
Everyone in the room turned to Anya, agog.
"Well, I should know," she said with a shrug. "I dated him, after all."
Xander broke the stunned silence first. "You knew who WinQuar was all along?"
"Not all along. Just the last seven hundred years or so."
"Why didn't you say anything when I, oh, I don't know, mentioned the Winiqua?"
"I figured you all knew. I thought everyone knew. He's the Chance man. The go-to guy for probability theory. The Winiqua are just helper clones for his dirty work. See, when we first met, I was doing this one really tricky vengeance on a compulsive gambler--"
"I risked my hide," Spike lamented, sitting down, "for information we already bloody had."
Buffy snorted a laugh.
"Funny," Xander said. "I was led to believe luck was a lady. Turns out it's a guy who scored with my girlfriend once."
"Well, repeatedly, but it was a long time ago."
"Thanks, I feel better."
"So, how does he operate?" Willow asked. "Like, could he have put that spell on the sachet I gave Buffy?"
"Right. After I dropped it on the porch," Buffy said, sitting in Spike's lap.
Anya frowned, considering. "Well, he's very good at what he does. He'd have at least narrowed down the odds to you most certainly dropping it so a spell could be cast. But he's not much of a spellcaster on his own."
"So he could have hired someone to cast the baby-growing spell? Or the bonding spell?"
"He could have. Otherwise, he'd have to piggy-back."
"On someone else's power," Anya nodded. "Demigods can do that sort of thing."
"Hold on," Xander said, trying to understand. "I thought he was a god. Now he's been demoted?"
"Oh, he's a god. It's only when he travels on this plane that he has to take a more human form and lose a substantial amount of power in the process."
"I know this," Giles said, pacing. "The sacrifice of power for tangible form..."
"Which could explain why the first growth spell didn't keep," Buffy said. "And why he probably had to spike Spike's -- uh, why he had to spike Spike as a last resort."
"It explains everything but the girl," Spike said. "And why he's got front-row tickets to her Lilith Fair."
"Maybe he is the girl," Buffy said. "He's a god, maybe he can possess whoever he wants."
"Oh no, love, the vampire who spiked me was all woman, inside and out."
She tilted her head. "What do you mean 'inside'?"
"The entity inside! Not her..." Spike growled in frustration, then squinted at her. "You wanna take this back to the loo?"
"Shut up," she said, trying to conceal a shy smile. He winked.
"The bunnies!" Willow blurted, bouncing in her seat. "It wasn't me! I didn't do it! It was WinQuar, he made it happen!"
Anya shuddered. "It's always bunnies with you people."
"Of course!" said Giles, happy to have a thought click into place after an unusually clouded day. "The Winiquas were there to see to it, to see that your spell was altered! Yes, of course -- they were dispatched for that purpose from the very start!"
"So the rabbit boxes weren't my fault either?" Xander said.
"I imagine that had to be chanced out as well."
"Yes!" Xander and Willow high-fived.
"Wow," Buffy said. "I feel so puppet-on-a-stringy. But I don't get it, what's he got to gain?"
Anya shrugged. "Search me."
"Maybe his demonogical clock is ticking," Xander offered.
"Giles, how fast can you translate that tablet?"
"Well, in a matter of... hours, I suppose."
"The faster the better." Buffy stood up. "In the meantime, Anya, you're gonna tell me everything you know about your ex." Her eyes flashed with impending victory. "I'm thinking his luck is about to change."
* * *
Buffy opened Giles' door to find Angel standing there, a shiny hubcap in his hand. "Tell me this doesn't belong to my car."
Buffy batted her eyelashes. "This doesn't belong to my car?"
He spotted Spike, who toodle-ooed at him.
"Count to ten," Buffy said, stopping him from advancing. "Or a hundred, whatever works. No time for caveman antics."
He relented, and dropped the hubcap. "What's up?"
* * *
"Fascinating," Giles said. "The tablet has the same inscriptions as the amulet. It says it's used to protect infants from harm and to defeat an evil spirit."
"She's not evil," Willow said. "I'm so sick of all the texts demonizing her for refusing to lie beneath Adam! I mean, woman on top! Deal with it!" Tara stroked her arm to calm her down. "I'm sorry, it's just I wrote this paper about her for Western Religions and made, like, every case for her innocence that could possibly be made."
"I'm sorry, who are you talking about?" Giles asked, squinting.
"Lilith! And you know, just because people do evil things in her name doesn't mean she was a bad person. Or... mythical figure."
"Lilith. Lilith..." He shook his head. "I'm drawing a blank."
Everyone in the room made the same bemused face.
"Giles," Buffy said. "We know you think she's a figment of patriarchal imagination and whatnot, but you don't have to pretend you've never heard of her. The amulet is shaped like a heart."
His frown deepened. "What on earth are you talking about?"
Bemusement turned to caution. "You don't remember anything about Lilith," she said, attempting to jog his memory. "The first woman? Favored daughters? Seven-day feast?" She added as a last ditch effort, "Baby hearts, yum?"
Spike threw in, "Song of the Lilin ring any bells?"
"I..." It occurred to him that this was the thing he felt he'd misplaced, but he had no memory of it. "Not in the slightest."
"Somebody wiped your brai-ain," Spike sing-songed. "Watcher had company last night after all."
"It wasn't Dr. Patel," Buffy said. "Mom talked to her, everything Giles said checked out. She spent the night at the hospital."
"Says she! You gonna believe some ex-Watcher's word? Over the phone no less?"
"But Spike, if she's not ribbons today, she couldn't have been possessed last night, right?"
He gave her that. "I still say she ain't delivering my sprog."
"I'm sorry," Giles said, trying to make sense of it all. "You think Sanvi was inhabited by this... Lilith-worshipping god?"
"Not Sanvi, someone else," Buffy said. "Who came to you last night and brainwashed you, big time. You must've been onto something. Something huge. And I bet you anything it has something to do with that tablet."
"Yes!" Giles concurred. "Now, quickly, tell me who this Lilith is!"
Xander put forth, "If the hypnotist needs hypnosis, but there's no one around to hypnotize him, does anyone hear me scream 'Sweet Jesus, help us, it's all over'?"
"Um," Tara spoke up, raising her hand. "I know hypnosis."
* * *
"I fall asleep at the dining table. The smoke detector wakes me... I turn off the oven before a fire starts... throw out the roast, tidy up the kitchen... take a long shower... go upstairs to bed..."
"Go back to the dining table. You fall asleep. Are you dreaming?"
He nodded. "I'm in the kitchen."
"In the dream, you're in the kitchen? Is there a woman with you?"
"No, no woman."
Tara shrugged at Willow, ready to give up.
"Only the owl."
Their eyes widened. "The... the owl?"
He smiled. "It's lovely. It has the most expressive eyes..."
"Does... does it speak to you?"
"Would I like to know the secret of the tablet?"
"Yes," Willow said. "Yes, you would."
"The answer... is within," he said, and chuckled.
Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Goodie, back to square one," Spike whispered. "The answer's in the bloody text; he still has to translate the sodding thing."
As Tara gently roused Giles, Willow clued them in. "There's a legend that Lilith visits people's dreams in the form of an owl. Whatever's happening here? It's gettin' a little spooky." Her face fell into a pout. "And it's disproving my whole thesis."
* * *
"Another mention of the amulet," Giles announced. "Here it says, 'Forged in gold by the fathers, emblazoned with the spirits of three immortal... no, not immortal, inhuman warriors chosen to defeat She of the Dark...' Oh, and look, there's a caution here, as if they assume we'd have the thing stashed in our dresser drawer: 'Beware. Only the pure of heart can wield the mighty weapon of the warriors three.'"
"Leaves us out, then," Spike asided to Angel.
"Pure of heart?" Xander said, "What does that even mean?"
"It means if we had it, I'd probably give it to you," Buffy said.
"Problem is, we don't. And if I give birth before we find it, we're screwed."
"Well, the owl said the answer was within," Tara said. "So maybe the tablet's like a treasure map or something."
"Yes," Giles said, turning the tablet on its side. "Perhaps it's a code..."
"The answer is within." Buffy stopped pacing. "Guys? The answer is within!"
"Yes, that's what the owl..." Before Giles could stop her, she'd swiped the tablet out of his hands and hurled it full-strength at the wall. "Buffy, have you gone completely--?"
It smashed to pieces, and a flat, heart-shaped, golden amulet skidded across the floor to Angel's foot. He recoiled with a hiss.
While everyone else voiced their surprise, Spike only said, "That's my girl."
Buffy shot him a smug smile.
"Ancient Cracker Jacks," Xander noted. "The toy surprise is inside."
"Good show, Buffy," Giles said, patting her back. "Of course there may have been much more to discover in the tablet, possibly the correct way to wield the amulet, but... this is good. This is better."
She made an oops face. "That was kind of impulsive, huh?"
Spike wanted to take her right there on Giles' oriental rug. "That was perfect."
"So," Xander swallowed a fear-lump in his throat, "I'm supposed to wield that? It kinda burned a hole into Angel there... through his shoe."
"It's probably just been blessed," Angel said, only slightly disappointed. Of course a vampire wouldn't be considered pure of heart, soul or no soul. "You should be fine."
"No he will not," Anya said. "I don't want you touching that, Xander. Who knows, it could burn right through flesh and bone in a heartbeat!"
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, hon."
"Wusses all," Spike said, bending toward the amulet, "I'll give it a wield."
The chorus of shouted "NO!"s was deafening. Especially from Buffy.
"I was kidding." He straightened and nodded toward Xander. "But demon girl's right, might want to put on some industrial work gloves or something."
"Pfft," Buffy made a move to pick it up.
"Now, hold on," Giles said, interrupting her. "I-it may be quite deadly."
"You think my heart isn't pure?"
"Well I'm quite sure it... is -- of course -- but, let's not hurry into this without knowing the true meaning of--"
"I don't have time for semantics." Buffy scooped it up with nary a side effect. "There, I didn't burn. Now let's use it on someone who will."
"They say fortune favors the brave." A deep, gravelly voice turned them all toward the staircase.
Sizing up the hulking demigod, Buffy closed her fist around the amulet. "Then this must be my lucky night."