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Author’s Note: This Musical March fic is named after my favorite band. Each chapter is named after one of their songs.

 

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“Buffy’s been kidnapped.”

Spike stared at Angel, wondering what the bloody hell he was on about. He’d barely seen the other vampire in the year since the whole Black Thorn mess, when Buffy and her lot had come to the rescue. Now here he was, standing outside the house Spike shared with Buffy and Dawn, blathering utter nonsense.

She chose you, he reminded himself as tension crawled up his spine. She’d punched the both of them – him in the nose and Angel in the jaw, which had been oddly comforting – for keeping Spike’s return a secret, then she’d grabbed him and kissed him until she’d needed to come up for air. She’d made her preference abundantly clear, but was still a part of him that couldn’t quite believe anyone could choose him over his grandsire.

“You hear that, love?” he called out, forcing down his insecurities as he glanced over his shoulder towards the sofa. “Grandpappy Forehead here says you’ve been kidnapped.”

Which made no bloody sense. Angel wouldn’t just randomly make up something like that, so why did he think it? Had he got another seer to help him do his whole dark, brooding savior thing?

“Good,” Buffy called back. “That means I don’t have to do the dishes.”

“The hell it does,” Spike grumbled as she got up off the sofa and walked towards the door. “I cooked.”

Spicy lamb curry with a cranberry and walnut salad before it and a homemade cheesecake for afters. Angel would never even do that much for her, let alone sit down and eat with her so she wouldn’t feel self-conscious about eating enough to truly satisfy her slayer metabolism.

“We’ll make Dawn do it,” Buffy said as she came up to the door. She leaned in against him and casually wrapped her arm around his waist, the possessiveness of it easing some of the tension. “You know, since I’m busy being all kidnapped, and you’re going to be busy rescuing me.”

Her tone was light and flippant, but the feel of her body against his belied that. She wasn’t tense, but she was ready for action. They both knew Angel wouldn’t come by just for shits and giggles. Seeing them together made it harder to pretend she still carried a torch for him.

She doesn’t, he told himself firmly. The rose-colored glasses had well and truly shattered over the past year. Still and all, he couldn’t help draping his arm across her shoulders, assuring himself that she wasn’t going to toss him aside for the Great Poof.

The Great Poof in question narrowed his eyes, his lips forming a tight line before he finally shook his head. “I found this slipped under my door about an hour ago.”

Angel pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket, holding it out as close to Buffy as the threshold barrier would allow. She pulled away from Spike just enough to take the paper and unfold it, revealing three words above an address. “I have Buffy.”

“Huh.” Buffy eyeballed the paper dubiously before folding it back up. She ignored Angel’s outstretched hand and slipped the paper into her pocket. “I know Spike didn’t send this, so obviously it’s a trap. Glad they didn’t bother trying to follow through on snagging the bait. Though they should have realized that you wouldn’t just run off without checking things here.”

Angel shifted awkwardly, and Spike rolled his eyes with a snort. Typical.

“Look,” Angel said, obviously flustered, “just invite me in so can we figure this all out.”

“There’s nothing to figure out,” Buffy said, shaking her head as she took a step back. “Someone set up a trap, and we’re going to go trigger it.” She turned and started towards the stairs. “I’ll let Dawn know that we’re heading out, and that she’s got dish duty.”

Spike didn’t watch her go. Instead, he watched Angel as the other man’s expression changed. Expectant to confused, and then a flash of hurt before becoming painfully neutral. There was a part of Spike that was smugly satisfied by it all. Another part, though, remembered how it had felt when he’d been disinvited from Buffy’s house back in Sunnydale.

“Sorry, mate,” he said glibly, “this is a one vampire only house, and I got here first. Maybe next time.”

“More likely never,” Angel said quietly. “And that’s probably for the best.”

Wasn’t anything to say to that, really, since it happened to be true. The reason they’d bought the house instead of renting something was because it was meant to be a safe place for Buffy, her mates, the Niblet, and any of the other slayers what might have need of it. It was covered in defensive magics and the house rules were that, after Buffy had invited him in, no one, ever, was to be told to come in. Not even Angel. Maybe especially not Angel.

They stood about in awkward silence for a few moments before Buffy came down the stairs, the duffel bag she used for weapons slung over her shoulders.

“Okay, let’s do this,” she said, sweeping past him and out the door, forcing Angel to move or get stomped on.

Spike took a moment to watch her in admiration, then followed after, easily making the shift from boyfriend and equal to the loyal lieutenant following his general into battle.

 

 

They fit together. As much as Angel wanted to deny it, to remain oblivious to the obvious, he couldn’t. Buffy strode confidently down the side of the street, Spike behind her and to the left, positioned just right to watch her back without being in her way. They moved together like a unit, completely in tune with each other. And Angel himself….

He was limping behind, deliberately putting too much pressure on his injured foot to try to distract himself from how well Buffy and Spike fit together. It wasn’t helping. Probably because the injury was proof of how much he no longer fit with Buffy. If he ever really had.

The whole situation was some kind of trap for him. It was his business. His mission. So he’d tried to take control and lead the way. At first, Buffy had shifted to the side, then taken back the lead. After the third time, she’d stomped on him and had told him to stop crowding her.

Crowding her, he thought, staring down as he put more pressure on his foot. All that time they’d both spent agonizing over being doomed to be apart, and now he was supposedly “crowding” her.

And she hadn’t wanted him in her home. It’s probably for the best. That was what he’d told Spike. And it probably was. But Spike had been invited. Was actually living there. Almost as bad was that Buffy hadn’t made any kind of point about it. She hadn’t been defensive. She just… hadn’t invited him in, casually dismissing any need to as if it didn’t even matter. As if he….

“Drama queen.”

Spike’s words, and especially the sing-song tone, jolted Angel out of his melancholy with a dose of concentrated annoyance. The younger vampire and Buffy had stopped in front of what looked like an abandoned warehouse. She looked almost as annoyed as Angel felt. Apparently, she hadn’t appreciated the drama queen comment any more than he had.

“If you’re done moping, can we hurry up and get this over with?”

Or not.

“I’m not moping,” he muttered as he brushed past and went into the building.

It was dimly lit, revealing a rather average looking man standing in the middle of the mostly empty main room. Angel barely noticed him. There was something there. A barely seen design drawn on the floor a few yards from the entrance. It pulled at him.

“Damn it, Angel, you should have let us go first.”

He ignored Buffy’s words, walking forward until he was standing in the middle of the design. Then he stopped, feeling like he was glued to the spot. What the? What was…?

“Hello, Angel,” the man said, smiling. Then he lifted up a glowing golden medallion. “Or I suppose I should say, goodbye, Angel. And hello, Angelus.”

Everything seemed to happen at once after that. Spike swore, and Angel found himself suddenly shoved off of the design. Then here was a familiar scream of agony that he knew so well from Spike’s fledgling years, and the other vampire was on his hands and knees, trembling.

“Spike!”

Everything seemed to snap back into focus at Buffy’s call.  Angel was closer, but he was still feeling sluggish. There was no way he’d be able to stop her from running to Spike. No way he’d be able to protect her from what he knew was now a soulless monster.

 

 

There was a horrible wrenching, squeezing sensation, like being torn out through an opening that was too small. A terrible parody of birth that left me weak and shaking on the warehouse floor.

“Spike!”

I staggered up to my feet at the sound of Buffy’s call and turned in time to see her running towards… me? There was another me, on his hands and knees in the middle of the design on the floor. I’d the thought that I should warn her, tell her that that wasn’t me, but it didn’t feel right. She was safe. I… he wasn’t going to hurt her. He… we? loved her.

It was all so bloody confusing. And I felt… odd. Lighter, almost, like a weight was being lifted from me. I shook my head, trying to clear my fuzzy thoughts. None of this made any sense. Why was I so convinced that the other me wasn’t some kind of monster? Why did he make me feel –

“Buffy, stay away from him!” Angel yelled, breaking into my thoughts. “He doesn’t have a soul!”

Doesn’t have a soul. No soul. The world spun, all the bits and bobs flying out of alignment, then coming back together into a whole new picture. The Spike down on the floor was a Spike without a soul. And I….

I glanced over at Angel as he struggled up to his feet, and my thoughts scattered again. Oh God. What was…? It was sickening. A thing of unspeakable horror. His human seeming was tattered and torn, and within it, I could see a malformed shadow beast, screaming in agony. It wasn’t the only one. A golden overlay was bound to the beast with spiked chains. They clawed and bit at each other, locked in mindless battle.

“Shut up, Angel!” Buffy snapped, drawing my attention again. She knelt beside the other me, gently touching his shoulder. “Hey, you okay?”

“He’s right,” he said softly. “I-it’s gone. That bastard stole….” He broke off with a shudder.

I’d forgot about the man who’d lured us here. He was still stood about, looking vaguely confused and disappointed. He’d stolen Spike’s soul. Or, well, yanked it… me… right out of him. I was….

It all became clear as a glimmer of light caught my eye. I remembered. I’d been there for a time, within that warm, welcoming light. I walked towards it, drawn in like a moth.

“It’s okay. You’re still you. You don’t need….” Buffy hesitated at the small, pained sound the other me… Spike… made. My steps faltered. “How do you feel?”

“Empty.”

I stopped and turned back to look at him. Unlike Angel, the human visage was completely intact, the demon expressed as a faint shadow. They were in harmony. But there was something wrong. There was a soft keening coming from the demon, a sound of despair and loss that I was certain only I could hear.

The light no longer tugged at me, it merely waited, gentle and eternal. I looked over my shoulder at it, then back towards Spike. I knew then. I wasn’t like Liam’s soul, bound to a vampire by a curse. I’d a choice to make. I could go back to the light. Or I could return to my vampire.

The light would be there again when it was time. For now, though, I had somewhere else to be.

Before I could get back to him, another light – green this time – appeared, two hazy figures coming out of it. No one else reacted to them, as if they couldn’t see them. Just like they don’t see me, I thought, suddenly realizing something I’d known on a subconscious level.

“This isn’t the soul we were sent to collect,” one of the figures said, giving me a dubious look.

“No, but it seems to be trying to get back to the demon. I think that qualifies him for our facility.”

Chains appeared in their hands, and a sudden dread filled me. I lunged towards my body, knowing I’d be safe there. But before I could reach Spike, the chains wrapped around me.

Then I was dragged away into the green light.


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