Bliss Took Hold 16
by Danielle


The ritual continued uneventfully and they got on with their lives. The following days were strangely peaceful. Every time drama broke out, the bracelets served to remind the group that they were in this together and had to strive to be better people. They still bickered and griped, but the real conflicts were diffused faster and without damage. The blonde vampire especially liked taunting them with the fact that he was part of their little club now.


The braided thread gave him power that he used as much as he respected. At one point, Spike effectively shut Riley up by holding up his wrist, lifting both eyebrows, and tapping it twice. And by the same token, he was called on it just as bluntly when he acted out. All in all, it was strange to have harmony in their turbulent lives.


The blonde vampire’s only real issue was Xander. Spike had avoided him like the plague since the drunken attack. His dreams were plagued with the dark haired human, open and caring like he was the night of their first kiss.


The thought of them as a couple had embedded itself in his head that first night. It had felt like a question finally answered, the human fitting perfectly into the hole in his heart as though he had always belonged.


Spike had always been good at analyzing relationships, reading into every interaction and seeing the success or failure long before it happened.  For other people, that is. His own love life had been one abysmal failure after another. Frankly, the boy reminded him of Dru, with the drastic decisions and fleeting fancies.


He sighed as he parked the DeSoto in the school parking lot and got out to wait for the witches. Red’s car was in the shop--rust bucket as it was--and he volunteered to drive them from college.


Glinda had found a way to get him and Angel human blood, and for that, Spike was eternally grateful. Evidently his short talk with Red over the difference between animal and human blood had made an impression.


Tara made a deal with a girl from their Wicca group who worked at the hospital. Whole shipments of donated blood were thrown away every week because of paperwork issues or because they’d been stored just a day too long to be legally useable.


The difference was amazing. Spike and Angel were getting stronger by the day as a result of the diet change. The blonde hadn’t felt this nourished since before he got the infernal chip in his head. 


As he looked watched the school, he saw the witches sneak outside and run towards him, cheeks flushed and wide-eyed.


“Ethan Rayne’s back! We heard him talking to one of the professors and he’s up to something!” Tara explained as she hopped in the back seat.


“We have to tell Buffy and Giles!” Willow wrung her hands in the front seat.


“Watcher’s flat, coming up…” Spike threw the car into reverse and recklessly zipped toward their destination. He relayed what he had been told about the sorcerer, and his experience with Colonial Buffy but they didn’t respond much because they were busy checking blind spots and hanging on for dear life.


They tried to walk into Giles’ apartment, only to find that they were locked out. Spike knocked, and the door was opened by a dark, almond-eyed beauty he recognized as Olivia. Giles appeared behind her and motioned them in. After explaining the situation, the rest of the group was called to figure out a plan.




Xander tried to keep focus. His resistance to having a relationship with Spike had been cracked the day that he attacked the vampire, but he wasn’t sure if things between them were ruined now.  There were no rulebooks for this, and he didn’t know how to go about it. It’s not like there was a handbook on how to ask out or even talk to a vampire you gave a blowjob to and then tried to rape. 


Angel and Riley burst in the front door, looking proud.


“You’ve got to show me how you did that!” The ex-soldier looked awed as he spoke to Angel, “I didn’t think he was gonna talk, but you totally made him sing!”


“It’s all about inflicting just enough to hurt him, but not make him pass out. It takes patience and practice.” Angel looked pleased to have a pupil.


//How strange has life gotten when those two are getting along?//


“What did you find out?” Giles pulled Olivia into his lap as he spoke. She grabbed a book off the shelf next to her, and flipped through pages.  The watcher hadn’t told anyone that she was coming into town, but the two were inseparable.


“It looks like Ethan’s being commissioned for another job here--“ the brown-haired vampire announced as he grabbed a napkin off the table and started cleaning blood off his hands.


“--We had to *pursuade* the information out of the professor--who wasn’t human. Turns out that he’s part of a Brillidian demon cult. They hired Rayne to cause chaos in the streets so they could have lots of people to sacrifice for their ritual.”  Riley’s eyes glittered with excitement. He walked over to Buffy and put an arm around her shoulders.


“You smell like cigarettes! Have you been smoking?” Buffy pulled away, nose crinkled.


“Oh, that. Angel lit a cigarette as part of the—information gathering process--and then we just started smoking. Not really sure why.”


“It’s calming,” Angel and Spike answered at the same time.


“I don’t care, you better gargle some mouthwash or something. I’m not kissing an ashtray!” She gently groused at her boyfriend.


“Might we get on with the Ethan Rayne situation, riveting as the tobacco fascination is...” Giles said as he tried to usher the conversation along.


“It’s like the Band Candy incident, only he’s perfected the formula to be much stronger, and it’s airborne. He’s got it in vials and we have to find the shipment before it’s released tomorrow night,” Angel continued as he pulled a splattered sheet of notebook paper. “He had this with him. It’s his part of the ritual, so it might hold clues on what and where this is taking place.”


“So, we’re going to have to deal with everyone acting like teenagers again?” Buffy asked.


“No, this is more like pure emotion. Anger, lust, fear...this batch of stuff causes complete chaos in everyone exposed to it. Not to mention that most demons are susceptible to it.” Riley handed Angel another napkin and pointed to a spot of blood on the vampire’s shirt as he explained.


Willow and Tara took the paper and started finding counter-spells and researching with Giles. Riley and Buffy were sent to look for the shipment of Ethan’s formula on the north side of town. Xander, Spike, and Angel were deployed to search the south side.








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