Angel drove, peering through the small rectangle of windshield unblocked by cardboard. The remaining aperture was blotted with gray paint. Each window was covered up similarly in order to prevent his burning to ash.
Next to him Buddy sat silently and watched through his own rectangle. Angel didn't disturb him until they pulled up to the Magic Box.
Buddy got out without a word. Angel pulled around back and parked next to the rear door. A canopy over the exit was a convenient shade. He used a small, bent screwdriver from his coat pocket to open the lock.
The thick door opened to a wall of noise.
"Get out, Angel," Anya shrilled. She and Hermione stood inside a pentagram, while Surgat writhed and cavorted before them. The demon spied Angel and leaped to the edge of his misty circle. Angel dove forward in a tuck-and-roll with Surgat's massive hands chasing him. He hopped up inside the circle and Surgat surged insanely against the invisible barrier.
"You should have stayed out," Hermione scolded.
"Told ya," Anya added.
"Great warning," Angel replied. "But Buffy may come back here any minute.
"Buffy!" he yelled. "Do not come back here."
Surgat regarded the trio with bared fangs, then a sly expression slowly overcame his fury. He opened wide and yelled in a perfect imitation of Angel's voice, "Buffy, come back here."
"No!" Hermione screamed, and Angel yelled as well. Anya added her voice, and the result was an incoherent din.
Buddy opened the door. "What's the boggle?" he demanded.
Surgat stretched out his arms to get him. Angel sprang from the protection of the circle and landed on Surgat's side, his arms encircling the demon's neck. Surgat nearly toppled from the impact, but recovered quickly. He spun and twisted wildly to dislodge his unexpected attacker.
Anya nervously left the perimeter and grabbed Buddy's arm. She yanked him into the pentagram.
"Stupid himbo," she clucked.
Angel's lower half see-sawed with the force of Surgat's contortions. His legs hit the demon's chest and Surgat clutched them. He tore Angel off his neck. Angel tried to kick free, pelting Surgat with both fists. The rogue demon used his awesome strength to gather Angel in his arms and compress him into a quivering ball.
"Ha!" he cried triumphantly, turning to the others. "Would you like me to spare this one?"
"If we say yes, we're sunk," Anya told the others.
Buddy wobbled unsteadily. "What the hell's going on?"
Hermione said, "We've summoned Surgat to give us Rayne. We've just made the request, now we can't make a second one. We mustn't accept his offer.""Why not?"
Anya said angrily, "Save the questions, Captain Jack." To Surgat, "Shut your ugly mouth, you toadstool-lookin' slug. You'll do the deed I ordered you to do, and do it now, like right away. I command you."
Buddy squeezed her shoulder. "But Angel …"
She shook him off. "Immediately, you pansy florist. And I demand you beat yourself about the head with both hands to show I mean business."
She leaned in close to Buddy and whispered hoarsely, "He has to comply. When he lets go of Angel he can escape."
Surgat howled in rage. He slapped himself in the skull with one massive paw.
"She said both hands, doo-doo pants," Buddy bellowed.
Surgat's eyes flickered onto Buddy, and he grimaced in frustration. Then, a smile crossed his seething lips. He tucked Angel between his legs and clutched him tightly with his knees. Angel's arms were pinned and he could hardly move. With both arms free, Surgat belabored his own head until blood spouted and chunks of flesh flew.
"Now jump up and down," Hermione screamed.
Surgat snatched Angel from between his legs and jumped repeatedly.
"Put your hands at your sides," Anya ordered.
Surgat clutched Angel with one claw and dropped both hands to his side. Buddy tried to reach for him, but Anya slapped his hand.
"Cover your eyes," she called.
Surgat didn't seem to move, so Buddy commanded, "Simon says cover your eyes."Hermione nudged him. "He closed his eyes, do you see? This is getting us nowhere."
Buddy hopped with impatience. "Can't we ask him back later? One of us can order him to release Angel."
Anya shook her head. "He'll anticipate that and kill Angel. Has to be now."
Hermione pulled them both to her and spoke sotto voce. They put their heads close and nodded. Surgat, released for the moment from their discipline, shook Angel like a rattle then bit viciously into his shoulder. Angel cried out miserably.
All at once the others rushed Surgat. They circled the dusty mist and kicked his tree trunk legs.
"Fat ass!" Anya mocked.
"Wimp," Hermione cried.
"Buh, uh … fart-knocker," Buddy stammered.
Surgat's eyes bulged and he roared and swung at them. He grabbed at Buddy, who feinted to one side then rolled the other and darted back into the circle. He clutched at Anya, who ducked and threw herself back to safety. Hermione backed quickly into the pentagram. The three waggled their fingers and blatted raspberries at Surgat. The demon writhed with unbridled rage and flung Angel at them.
Angel hit them and all three dropped to the floor and slid. They stopped before leaving the circle, but their bodies had smudged away the center of the five-pointed star. Surgat was now free to move around the room.
He caromed off the walls and ceiling. He sprang at them from different angles, testing the integrity of the remaining force field. His claws breached it slightly and clicked inches away from Anya's face.
"Quick, do something," Buddy yelled, holding Angel's head in his arms.
Anya pulled an extra bag of magic sand from her pocket and hit Hermione's shoulder.
"Repair the pentagram."
Hermione held out her hands and Anya poured into them. She took the rest of the sand and with shaking hand, poured it along the obliterated lines. Buddy and Angel moved around them gingerly, keeping off the sand lines. Surgat saw this and threw his massive bulk furiously against their shield. His stench nearly overwhelmed them. Hermione gagged and Buddy covered his nose and mouth.
After what seemed an eternity Surgat was pulled inexorably back to the dusty mist, entrapped once again. He spat and vomited at them, and his malodorous bile coated them, turning their stomachs.
Anya spoke first. "Spank yourself with both hands," she snarled, "until further notice."
They all relaxed a little as Surgat became reluctantly engrossed in smacking his massive paws against his huge posterior. But his ear-splitting cries continued.
Hermione cupped her hands to her mouth and yelled, "Sing something from H.M.S. Pinafore."
If possible, Surgat's expression became even more surly. He sang in a surprisingly clear tenor, "A British tar is a soaring soul, as free as a mountain bird, his energetic fist should be ready to resist a dictatorial word …"
They took a moment to regroup and regain their feet. Even Angel was able to stand, although he oozed blood from many nasty wounds.
"Shut up already," Anya said. "And by the way, nice voice."
Surgat's eyes glowered balefully upon them. "You are all fools," he screeched.
"Can't deny that," Hermione muttered, and the others agreed.
"Give us Rayne," Anya commanded. "Give him now, or the consequences will be severe."
"You want me to fix him up for you?" Surgat offered innocently.
"No," Hermione growled, "just bring him."
"Let me do the talking," Anya snapped.
"Then get on with it," Hermione snapped back.
"Who is the master here anyway?" Surgat asked.
"Hurt yourself," Hermione said.
Surgat smiled and slapped his hand lightly. "I'm a naughty boy."
Hermione stamped her foot. "Damn."
Anya smacked her arm. "Mind the sand, you stupid cow." She turned back to Surgat. "Grab your ugly genitals in your claws and rip –"
Surgat held out his hands pleadingly. "Why don't I just bring you Rayne?"
Anya nodded. "Immediately."
Surgat swirled back into the dusty mist. He remained gone for several moments, although the mist remained.
"Is he coming back?" Buddy asked.
"How did you get in, anyway?" Anya demanded. "Wasn't the front door locked?"
"I picked it."
"Did you lock it again?"Buddy went pale. "I can't remember.""Let's get this over with before someone else walks in." Anya called, "Yoo-hoo, ugly meat flake, I said bring Rayne right away."
The mist swirled and Surgat spun back into the room with Rayne attached to him and screaming in agony.
"You still want him?" Surgat questioned. "As you can see, we love each other a lot."
Hermione looked away. "Let him go, for God's sake."
Anya hurriedly added, "Just a figure of speech. She's not making a new request. Just let him go, give him to us now."The sly look returned to Surgat's face, and he tried to breach the mist. He could not, and he bellowed in disappointment and thrust Rayne back and forth to punish him. Rayne shrieked, convulsed weakly, and then dropped into unconsciousness.
Surgat grunted in disgust and threw Rayne onto the floor.
"Want me to leave?"
Anya clamped her hand roughly over Hermione's mouth. She glared vehemently at Buddy to keep him quiet too. Ignoring Surgat, she chanted the dismissal incantation that would get rid of him. "Non vidi, legola e ni recturnum, e ni molestum nunce evicturne …"
A disappointed Surgat clawed his chest and let his blood spray them. "I will find a way to gnaw your bleeding bodies to chum, I will fornicate with your corpses, I will –"
The door opened suddenly and Tara and Kendra walked in.
Surgat crowed ecstatically and reached for them.
Tara mumbled a hasty protection spell and Surgat's claws thumped against resistance.
The rogue demon's howling threats grew fainter as he swirled back into the dusty mist. Presently the mist dissipated, and all that remained of his visit were his noxious body fluids and hideous stench.
"I wanna go back to Vegas now," Kendra told Tara.
Anya took her hand off Hermione's mouth.
"You see?" Hermione said calmly. "He's harmless if handled properly."
Anya covered her mouth again.