Alternate Universe: Unexpected
Story Title: Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?
Chapter Title:


Hotel California


Time line:

Saturday, June 26th, 2004 in the Rome!Universe



Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004

The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004

Annie turned five on February 14th.

Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)

Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.


All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.

Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.



Buffy and Spike get the bond back… Rome!Buffy and Rome!Spike are married and have done the claim, as well. Everyone's perfectly happy (except Angel, of course) ... what could possibly go wrong?


Notes: Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta, PaganBaby, for her wonderful suggestions, corrections and encouragement!! 


This story involves jumping dimensions to the Universe where Angel and his team work for W&H - where Buffy visited before and sent Spike to Rome to be with the Buffy in that dimension. In lieu of calling it the "EvilJoss!" Universe, which is what I normally call it in my own mind, I'm calling it the "Rome!" Universe. 

Where characters cross over (where the same character from both universes are in the story), I will differentiate the ones from the Rome Universe by calling them Rome!Spike or Rome!Buffy, for example.  If, however, only one of the characters is present, then I won't make that distinction ... I hope it doesn't get too confusing.  If it does - please email me and let me know so I can change it in future chapters.


I know that, in canon, this time frame is after NFA on AtS … Things changed in the other universe, too, when Spike left for Rome.


Keep in mind the following:

Rome!Spike was sent away from W&H and to Rome by Buffy before the following happened:

  • Lindsey attempted to take down Angel and W&H by releasing the demon and, in the process, losing his tattoos that kept him hidden from W&H.

  • Fred’s body was taken over by Illyria

  • In the new Rome!Universe, Wesley didn't have to take Illyria's power to control time away ... she wasn't sparing with Spike (as she was in canon on a daily basis), so the power overload didn't occur. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)



Music Referenced:

"Hotel California" by The Eagles:


Rating / Warnings:

NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.

Saturday, June 26th, 2004 :


As both pairs of warriors kissed after the completion of the claim ceremony, the whole room they were in was suddenly surrounded in a swirling white light.  When they looked up, a partition that divided the room in half, which had been closed when they entered the room, was now open. On the other side of that now open partition stood several people…or demons, it was hard to tell with the swirling lights behind them casting their faces in shadow.


“What the fuck, Angel?” Buffy asked, pulling out of Spike’s arms and moving towards the dark vampire.


“It’s a glamour,” Angel informed her. “It won’t hurt you.”


“And what’s it supposed to be hiding and from who?” Rome!Buffy asked, moving with Buffy towards Angel.


“Whom,” Angel corrected her.


“Huh?” both Buffys asked him with confusion.


“Hiding from whom,” Angel clarified, stressing the “m” on the end.


“What are you hiding with the glamour and from whom?” Rome!Buffy repeated, stressing the “m” as he had, her hands going to her hips.


Buffy looked around at the people who were now sitting at the conference table.  There were people she knew: Lorne, Wesley, Gunn and Lindsey … Lindsey!? What was he doing here? Wasn’t W&H after him in this dimension?  Now he’s working for … for W&H and for Angel? 


Buffy furrowed her brow and set those questions aside for the moment as she continued to scan the faces at the table.  There was a blue woman dressed in leather – she looked like a dominatrix who catered to people with a blue fetish – what do you call people with a blue fetish? … but she also looked familiar … FRED! It was Fred, but … not.  More questions popped into Buffy’s mind and she kept pushing them aside as her eyes settled on the last person to take their seat at the table.


The last person was a blonde woman who sat next to Lindsey, but Buffy couldn’t see her face because her head was turned towards Lindsey and her hair hung down, covering most of her features. The woman was whispering something in Lindsey’s ear. Buffy noted that Lindsey had laid his hand over hers as she rested it on the table – Lindsey’s girlfriend? Wife? 


When the woman turned back to look towards the head of the table where Angel was standing, Buffy felt her heart jump into her throat. “Darla!?” Buffy exclaimed with wide eyes.


All the people standing on Buffy’s side of the table turned to see what she was looking at.  The room was suddenly filled with surprised gasps from the Willows, “Bloody Hells” from the Spikes and a “What the fuck?” from Rome!Buffy.


Darla smiled sweetly across the table. “Nice to see you all again, too,” she started. “Although, William, I must say … I thought we raised you better, dear boy … The Slayer?  Where’s Drusilla?”


Neither Spike answered her question, instead, Rome!Spike said, “See you’ve come up in the world, Darla … not far, though … traded Angel Boy for Tattoo Boy, have you?”


Darla tilted her head, keeping a sweet smile on her face and laying her free hand on top of Lindsey’s where it covered hers on the table. “Well, I guess things have changed for all of us, William.”  


Buffy turned back to face Angel. “Would you like to explain this now? Or are you just going to play Grammar Police all day?” she asked, her hands going to her hips, matching Rome!Buffy’s. “I think there are a few things here that need explaining.”


“Please sit down …” Angel told them, waving his arm at the empty chairs on the opposite side of the conference table from where his entourage sat.


“We’ll stand,” Rome!Buffy told him, folding her arms across her chest.


The two Spikes and two Willows had moved up next to their respective Buffys and they all looked suspiciously at Angel, awaiting his explanation.


Angel sighed and leaned forward against the back of a chair as he stood at the head of the conference table.  “Fine,” he started. “Since you don’t want to sit, I’ll make this short. We’re taking down evil … you’re going to help us.”


Rome!Spike stepped forward past Rome!Buffy until he was within arm’s reach of Angel. “I think I know just where ta start with that mission, gramps,” he said with a smirk as he drew a fist back and swung at Angel, catching Angel in the jaw and sending him staggering back against the windows behind him.


In a second, the blue-Fred was on Rome!Spike.  She grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him back against the far wall where he hit with a loud thud. Rome!Buffy advanced on her and blue-Fred tossed her back to join Rome!Spike on the opposite side of the room.

“You cannot defeat me. I am an ancient one, a god, I am Illyria … you are nothing but ants. Do not attempt harm on Angel again or you will feel my full wrath,” blue-Fred told them.


“Whatsa matter, Peaches, can’t fight your own battles anymore? Gotten old and soft sittin’ behind a desk, have ya?” Spike asked Angel as Rome!Buffy hit the wall behind him. “Why don’t you put your pit bull back in ‘er cage?!”


“We’ve fought and won against gods before,” Buffy informed Illyria. “They’re not so tough, you just have to know where to hit,” Buffy said as she moved forward quickly, dropped down and swung her leg out in a sweep kick to knock Illyria off her feet. 


Illyria waved her hand and slowed time … everyone in the room moved in slow motion as Illyria stepped easily away from Buffy before time resumed its normal speed.  Without making the contact that Buffy was anticipating, she sprawled on the floor as time sped back up.


“Oh ho ho!” Spike exclaimed. “The Blue Baddie is a trickster! Didn’t your mum ever teach you that cheaters never win?” he asked as he spun with a roundhouse kick and connected with Illyria’s midsection.  Illyria didn’t move or even flinch when Spike hit her, but tilted her head to the side and watched him as he also sprawled on the ground, as if he’d just kicked a brick wall.


“When the world met me, it shuddered, groaned. It knelt at my feet …” Illyria informed them as Spike got to his knees and started to stand back up.

Spike looked up at her, bleeding from the mouth. “Dear Penthouse, I don't normally write letters like this, but …”


Illyria punched Spike in the face, sending him back down onto his ass.  By now, Rome!Buffy and Rome!Spike had gotten back up and, along with Buffy, they were surrounding Illyria.  Buffy helped Spike back up to his feet and the four warriors stood in a circle around the ancient one.


“You can’t defeat her,” Angel informed them, leaning back against the glass windows and folding his arms across his chest. “You might as well stop before you get hurt … you’re no good to me if you’re hurt … or worse.”

Buffy turned back towards Angel. “What the fuck kind of game are you playing?!” she asked him, moving back towards him.  Illyria waved her hand and slowed time again as she stepped easily in front of Buffy, blocking her path to Angel.


When time resumed, Buffy stopped short to keep from running into the ‘blue baddie’.  “Fred … Fred, are you in there?” Buffy asked Illyria looking closely at her face.


“She’s not Fred, Buffy … Fred’s gone,” Wesley informed her from where he sat at the table.


“It’s not a game, Buffy …” Angel answered her original question, pushing up off the wall of windows and moving to Illyria’s side where Buffy could see him.


“Then what do you call it?” Buffy asked, incredulous. “Fred’s all blue and godly … Darla’s all un-dusty … Lindsey’s all un-hidy … this isn’t just another dimension, it IS the fucking Twilight Zone!”


The other warriors joined Buffy and waited for Angel to explain himself.


“I call it saving the world … again.  But this is the big one, Buffy … the apocalypse to end all apocalypses … that’s why I need you.” Angel stopped and waved his hand out to encompass not only Buffy, but the whole room and everyone in it. “I need all of you to help with this one – we’re taking down the Black Thorn … we’re basically taking down evil.”


“OH – you want us to help you get that Shanshu bugaboo!” Rome!Spike accused. “You want to be a real boy! Well then, pardon my French, but you can suck my balls! We ain’t helpin’ ya’!"


“Nooo,” Angel responded as if talking to an insolent child. “That’s got nothing to do with it.”


“Did you forget who beat your ass out for that, old man?” Rome!Spike continued, ignoring Angel. “Me! You ain’t got what it takes to Shanshu!  Why don’ you give this whole thing up and let everybody go back to their own lives?”


“Spike, first of all, you beat me out for a swig of warm Mountain Dew in a fancy cup! Second of all, this has got nothing to do with the fucking Shanshu!” Angel replied angrily. “It was a vision from the PTB, from Cordy … it’s about doing what’s right – or did that soul of yours not come with an instruction manual?”


Buffy narrowed her eyes, her hands clinched and unclenched at her sides as she listened to Angel and Rome!Spike talk.  When Angel paused, she said, “This is NOT our fight, Angel … we,” Buffy waved her arm at Spike and Willow, “aren’t even from this freaked-out dimension … we have our own fights, our own apocalypses … apocali … whatever.”


“I didn’t know you were coming until it was too late to stop it, Buffy. It doesn’t matter – you’re here now, you’re staying. Welcome to the Hotel California.”



Buffy was past Illyria before Illyria knew she was moving, grabbing Angel by the throat and shoving him back against the glass windows.  As Illyria turned to defend Angel, the two Willows held their hands toward her in unison and ordered, “Somnus!” and Illyria dropped to the floor, unconscious.


Buffy banged Angel’s head against the glass, attempting to break it and let unfiltered sunlight into the room, but the glass was reinforced and wouldn’t break.  The rest of Angel’s people jumped up from the table when Illyria dropped to the ground and rushed towards Buffy and Angel, but Spike, Rome!Spike and Rome!Buffy stepped forward and blocked their path.


“We have a fucking family! We have children!” Buffy screamed at Angel as she continued banging his head against the glass windows. “This is NOT OUR FIGHT!  We are leaving NOW!”


“Dust me … and … you’ll … never … leave,” Angel told her in the moments his head wasn’t banging against the glass. “We can … win … you … can … go … home … after.”


“WOOD!” Buffy screamed back over her shoulder to Spike. “GET ME A FUCKING STAKE!” 


Buffy stopped banging Angel’s head against the glass and shoved him down onto the floor. Still holding him around the neck, she moved on top of him and pinned his body down with her hips. “You have no idea what happens to people that fuck with my family,” she told Angel with a deadly calm voice. “She,” Buffy said, tilting her head back towards Rome!Buffy, “may still love you, but I don’t.”


After scanning the room for anything wooden that would serve as a stake and not finding anything, Spike smashed his fist down on the end of the conference table, splintering it.  He retrieved the largest piece and handed it to Buffy over her shoulder.


“Dust me and I assure you, you’ll never see your family again,” Angel repeated as Buffy pressed the make-shift stake against his chest. “You think I didn’t take precautions? You know me better. The only way back is forward, through the fight … walk through the fire, Buffy … it’s the only way home.”


Rome!Buffy stepped forward and placed a hand on Buffy’s shoulder. “If he says he took precautions … he did,” Rome!Buffy told Buffy softly. 


Buffy, it’s Angel … he can work a plan, luv … he’s the fucking king of planning … he could make a fortune givin’ bloody seminars! Spike sent to her mentally as everyone in the room held their breath and waited.


Buffy drew the stake up above her head, she could feel Spike through their bond … half of him seemed to be cheering her on – dust his sorry ass … the other half was worried that if she did, they’d never get home, never see Annie, Dani or Billy again. Buffy smashed the stake down, veering off to the right at the last second, driving it into Angel’s shoulder with all her strength.


“I won’t fucking miss next time,” she whispered to Angel as he screamed in pain and clutched at his shoulder. “You better be telling the truth or you’ll wish with your entire heart and two-bit soul that I had dusted you.”




With the glamour still in place around the room, the warriors, along with the witches, as well as Giles, who had come in to see what was taking so long, sat across the conference room table from Angel’s inner circle, including Illyria, who had awoken from the magick induced sleep that the two Willow’s had put her in. They listened while Angel told them what had been going on, about a vision that Cordy had given him just before she died and about the Black Thorn.


“So,” Buffy asked when Angel finished talking, “This Black Thorn thingy is the Senior Partners?  You’re talking about taking down Wolfram & Hart and the Senior Partners?”


Lindsey leaned forward in his chair and answered her question. “The Senior Partners are on a different plane of existence - untouchable. Down's the players in the circle, in the Black Thorn, that make things happen. Angel’s been given the keys to the chocolate factory … he’s in the circle.”


“And just how did our fine boy Liam manage such a feat?” Rome!Spike asked, looking at Angel.


“I had to convince them that I was evil …” Angel started.


“PFFFTT! That wouldn’t a taken too much actin’ on your part, lucky for you,” Spike interjected.


“You know, Spike, one of you is bad enough, but two of you put me in a really bad mood …” Angel told Spike with a glare.


“Ah, well, we wouldn’t want that, now would we? Angel all dark and broody … tsk, tsk …” Spike retorted.


Rome!Buffy held her hands up to quiet everyone before Angel could respond to Spike. “Answer the question – how exactly did you convince them that you were evil…assuming you’re not – which at this point, I’m not so sure about,” Rome!Buffy informed Angel.


“You know what happens when you assume, luv … ya make an ASS outta U and ME …” Rome!Spike muttered under his breath.


Rome!Buffy put her hand on Rome!Spike’s arm and gave him a look that quieted him, before turning her attention back to Angel.


“He’s done some questionable things the last few weeks … since getting the vision and the realization of how to take the Black Thorn down,” Wesley answered Rome!Buffy. “We plan to make those things right and kill as many of the Black Thorn brethren as we can before…” Angel shot Wes a look that stopped him from saying any more.


“Before…?  Before what?” Buffy asked Wesley.  “Before we all die? Before the Senior Partners come after us with lightning bolts and fire and brimstone rains down from the sky?  Is that the kind of thing we’re trying to get this done before?”


 “Possibly…” Wes answered quietly.


“You bloody pillock! You knew this was a suicide mission when you invited us here – that’s why we couldn’ change the soddin’ date! You had this all planned, didnchya?!” Rome!Spike accused, standing up and moving towards Angel.  “Just couldn’ stand the fact that we’re together and happy … that’s really what this is all about innit?”


Buffy put a hand out and grabbed Rome!Spike’s arm as he passed her, pulling him back away from Angel. “If anyone’s gonna dust Angel, it’ll be me …” she informed Rome!Spike as she yanked hard on his arm and sent him back towards his chair.


“So, tell me, Angel, this fire that you want us to walk through to get home … that would be literal fire, then, I suppose …” Buffy asked.


Angel shrugged. “We don’t know … when the Senior Partners figure out what’s going on, we aren’t sure what they’ll rain down on us … fire, brimstone – possibly … the armies of hell, more likely.”


“So, remind me again why I shouldn’t just dust you right now and fuck this whole thing?” Buffy asked Angel, folding her arms across her chest.


“With your help, it doesn’t have to be a suicide mission – with two powerful witches, two Slayers and … well … two annoying vampires, in addition to us,” Angel waved his arm at his people to demonstrate the ‘us’ he was talking about, “I think we can win.


 “If that’s not enough to convince you, then keep this in mind: It’s already begun … the first stone has been cast … and these people already have their assignments,” Angel said, sweeping his arm again to encompass his group, “and they will carry them out.


“The Senior Partners know you were here – they’ll assume you were involved no matter if you were or not … going back to your own dimension will only lead them to your family and friends back there … not only will you die, but so will they.


“So,” Angel continued, “you have two choices … you can dust me now and find a way to get back to your dimension without your cute little vials of blood and hope you don’t bring the wrath of hell back with you, or you can help me finish this, take the Black Thorn down and beat back whatever the Senior Partners throw at us, and then go back to your dimension without bringing their wrath down on your family.”


“I believe you’ve neglected to mention a few scenarios in that list,” Giles interjected.


“Yeah, like we dust you and all walk away and the Senior Partners bake us a cake and give us a bloody medal,” Rome!Spike interjected.


“The Black Thorn and the Senior Partners believe Angel is fully on their side … they will not be pleased if he’s harmed,” Wesley pointed out.


“Actually, the other scenarios I was speaking of are that we all die attempting to take out the Black Thorn … or perhaps we all die trying to ‘walk through the fire’ as you put it …” Giles clarified.


Buffy rested her forehead in her hands and closed her eyes as she tried to think of a way out of this …


Ok, THINK! she admonished herself. We can use Dawn’s blood to open the portal … except Dawn’s in Rome … and what if Angel’s telling the truth about the Senior Partners sending the armies of hell after us even if we do get home … can we take that chance? Maybe we could go somewhere else … hide from them –to the coven in Canada… we can’t stay there forever, though…


Buffy looked across the table at Lindsey and asked, “Why are you here?”


“Got screwed over … just a little payback,” Lindsey told Buffy.


“But, aren’t the Senior Partners looking for you?  And you’re right here in their house … how’s that possible?” Buffy pressed him.


“Got a little mojo, keeps me hidden from view,” Lindsey told her.


“So, why can’t we get that same mojo and just go the fuck home?” Buffy asked, looking between Lindsey and Giles.


“It took years to do … it’s not something you can just ‘get’ – it’s not a pill you can take,” Lindsey told her as he unbuttoned and removed his shirt to expose his runic tattoos.  “See these?  Every needle that went into my skin was infused with magic … powerful magic known only to a small tribe in Nepal.  There are trials you have to complete before each new tattoo – fights to the death; it took years to complete the trails and get the all the magic tattooed into my skin. These are the only things that keep me cloaked and safe from the Senior Partners.”


Buffy sighed and closed her eyes again, shaking her head side to side slowly as she continued to try and figure out how to get them home.


“Let the Slayer and Red go home now and I’ll stay ‘ere and help you,” Spike told Angel.


“NO!” Buffy cried, her eyes flying open as she turned to face Spike. “We all go or no one goes!”


Buffy … be realistic, he’s not gonna let us go … if I stay, the Senior Partners will figure it’s just me involved – they won’t follow you.  One of us has to live through this – you need to go … Spike told her through their bond.  The babies need you, luv.


They need you, too … I need you.  I won’t leave you behind to die here in this fucked-up place.


“Buffy, would you please listen to me for once?  You know I’m right,” Spike said aloud, taking her hand in his. “You have to go.


“Will you let her and Red go? I’ll stay – I’ll fight with ya,” Spike asked Angel again.


“No, you all stay … the more we have the better our chances of taking these guys down and making it through this,” Angel told him.


“You bloody pillock!!” Spike growled at him as he jumped up and dove at Angel across the table, hitting Angel in the chest with his whole body and knocking Angel, and the chair he was in, to the floor. 


Angel hit out at Spike, but his punch didn’t hold much power since Spike was atop him. Spike grabbed Angel by the shirt and began picking his upper body up and slamming him down on the floor.


“Did you ever really love that woman!? Have you ever loved anybody other than your own sorry ass!?” Spike screamed at him as Gunn, Wesley and Lindsey pulled him off Angel and held him back away from the downed vampire.


“Answer the fucking question!!  You never loved Darla … you never loved Dru … you never loved Buffy – have you ever really loved a woman, Angelus?!  Ever once!?” Spike screamed at him as he struggled against the men holding him.


Angel picked himself up off the carpet and faced Spike, his hands clenched in fists. “I’ve loved – you aren’t the only one who’s capable of love, Spike!


“I love Buffy … even now – but she doesn’t want me, does she? She wants you for some bizarre reason. I loved Darla – I had the sorcerers in this firm bring her back into this world, cure her and give her her life back, but you don’t see her here by my side, either, do you?!   


“The only woman who ever stood by me through thick and thin was Cordelia. I loved Cordy … and she loved me, and now she’s dead – my chance to find happiness with her is over. The last thing Cordy did before she died was give me this message … give me this vision. I will NOT dishonor her now by ignoring it or doing a half-assed job of taking these guys down,” Angel informed Spike with an angry glare.


“You will all stay. You will all help me, or so help me God I’ll make certain that the Senior Partners think this whole thing was your idea and they’ll take your family out before you can even think about getting home,” Angel threatened. “And don’t for a minute think I can’t do it … just ask Lindsey about his friend Eve …”


All eyes turned to Lindsey, except for Spike who was still trying to get free. “Let me go!” Spike demanded, pulling against the men holding him.


“You gonna behave?” Lindsey asked Spike.


“Ain’t got much choice, now, do I, Butch?” Spike retorted angrily.


Lindsey nodded and he, Gunn and Wesley let Spike go.  As soon as he was free, Spike ran at Angel again, tackling him around the waist and driving him with all his strength back against the windows in an attempt to send him through the glass. But Angel had reinforced the glass when he took over W&H, remembering all too well how easy it was for him to send Russell, a W&H client, out the window a few years ago when he first arrived in L.A.


“Fuck!” Lindsey exclaimed and started towards Spike again, but Buffy had already jumped up – she knew what Spike was going to do possibly before he did – and she beat Lindsey to Spike. 


“Spike! Stop!” Buffy yelled, as Spike pummeled Angel’s face with his fists when he realized he wasn’t going to be able to find out if ‘Angels’ really could fly or not. Buffy pulled Spike off his grand-sire and pushed him back away from the group at the conference table as Wesley and Gunn helped Angel back into a chair.


“What the fuck, Slayer!” Spike yelled at her as she continued pushing him back away from the others, past the place where the partition had been and to the other side of the room.


When his back hit the opposite wall, Buffy pulled Spike into a tight hug, wrapping her arms around his waist and laying her head against his hard chest. 


“I need you to hold it together, Spike,” she whispered to him.


“I’m holdin’ together jus fine … Angel, on the other hand, was ‘bout to come apart at the seams,” Spike told her softly, as he wrapped his arms around her and returned her hug.


Buffy pulled back and looked into Spike’s eyes and gave him a small smile. “We’ll find a way out of this – we’ll find a way back – both of us together, but I don’t think beating the shit out of Angel is helping our cause any … although it certainly looked like a lot of fun.”


“Well, it made me feel better … for a minute there,” Spike admitted, returning her small smile.


Buffy and Spike walked back over to the group and Angel stood up from his chair at the head of the table.


“This discussion is over … you can be pissed all you want, but the sooner you figure out that working with me is the only way for you to get back to your families, the better off we’ll all be,” Angel informed them.


“So, you have some grand plan you’d like to share with the boys and girls at home?” Rome!Spike asked.


Angel looked up at the ceiling in exasperation, before looking back at the group. “Yes, I have a plan, Spike … if you’ll shut up for once in your life, I’ll enlighten you.


“First, Wes is going to betray me …” Angel started.


“Damn … I wanted that job – I’d be so good at it, too,” Rome!Spike interjected with a smirk.


“Can we at least deny you three times?” Spike added with a smirk of his own.


Angel just glared at the two Spikes and continued. “Wes will go after Vail, the sorcerer of the bunch – Wes gets in the door by playing the betrayal card.  I’d like Willow … or Willow – to back him up,” Angel said, looking from one to the other of the Willows at the table.


“I can do it,” Rome!Willow volunteered, looking at Rome!Buffy and Rome!Spike.  Rome!Buffy frowned slightly, but then nodded slowly.


“Good, Willow number one will back up Wes,” Angel concurred.


“Illyria will take out Izzerial, the Devil, and three other members of the circle that dine together almost every night.  I think we can all agree that Illyria doesn’t need any backup …” Angel continued.


“Gunn will take out Senator Brucker. Her campaign office is in west L.A. and she tends to surround herself with lots of vampires.  I’d like Buffy and Spike to back him up,” Angel said, looking at Rome!Buffy and Rome!Spike.


“Fine,” Rome!Buffy agreed.


“Lindsey will be taking out the Sahrvins, Lorne will be backing him up,” Angel continued.


“Lorne!?” Buffy asked indignantly.  “No offense, but Lorne’s not a fighter … he’s a … lounge lizard!  Spike and I will back Lindsey up.”


“No, that’s not the plan … my house, my plan, Buffy,” Angel informed her.


“Oh, we play by your rules or you’re gonna take your ball and go home?” Buffy asked him, folding her arms across her chest. “You have two of the oldest Slayers in history here, two Master Vampires and two powerful witches and you’re gonna send Lorne to back Lindsey up?”


Angel drew in a deep breath and let it out in exasperation. “Fine – but you can’t both back him up, I need one of you, along with the other Willow, to take on the legion of the Fell Brethren. They have a baby that needs to be returned to his mother and the foster family needs to be dismantled.”

“And just exactly what are you doing all this time?” Buffy asked Angel.


“I’ve got Archduke Sebassis. He has over 40,000 demons at his command. The other members of the council fear him. He's the key player, so he's mine,” Angel informed her.


“Fine, how about Willow backs Lindsey up and Spike and I get the baby?” Buffy acquiesced.


“Fine,” Angel agreed reluctantly.


“And when does all this happen?” Rome!Buffy asked.


“Tomorrow night at sundown we begin …” Angel told them.


“So I guess we're not coming back to the office after this,” Gunn threw out to the room.

“No. We meet at the alley just north of the Hyperion. Everyone know where that is?” Angel asked, looking at the people at the table that weren’t part of his crew.  Both pairs of Buffys and Spikes nodded, along with the Willows and Giles.


“Can Giles and Andrew go home?”  Rome!Buffy asked. “Or at least, go somewhere else?”


Giles started to object, but Rome!Buffy put her hand on his arm and shook her head. “If we don’t make it, you have to take care of Dawn … you have to make it,” she told him with a solemn look and Giles lowered his eyes and nodded agreement.


“Yeah, they can leave,” Angel told her.


Giles hugged Rome!Buffy and shook Rome!Spike's hand. "Please do be careful ... both of you," Giles admonished them.


"I love you Buffy ... and I've grown unexplainably fond of Spike, as well," he told her before reluctantly turning and leaving the room.


“If you don’t need me, then I think I’ll go with them,” Lorne said, standing up from the table. “Buffy’s right … I’m not a fighter, I’d much rather be a lounge lizard – I’m better at it and there’s more alcohol involved.”


Angel nodded. “Thanks for everything, Lorne … You’ve been a good friend and ally.”


“Good luck, Angelwings. … I hope you all make it safely through the fire,” Lorne told the group before he turned and left the room.


“Yeah, me too,” Angel agreed in a low voice.  “Me too.”






The Eagles - Hotel California

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
'Please bring me my wine'
He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine'
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'


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