"No!" Buffy screamed as Spike disappeared before her eyes.
Buffy grabbed the Vengeance Demon by her jacket and hauled her over the table.
"Where'd he go?" Buffy hissed.
The woman tried to pull away. "How would I know?"
"You're one of those damned Vengeance Demons, that's how." She shook the woman until her teeth rattled.
"I prefer the term Justice Demon, thank you." She reached up to push her arrant curls back in place. "My name is Halfrek. And I simply granted William his wish."
"I know all about that dodge," Buffy snarled. "Tell me what he wished, now."
Halfrek smiled defiantly.
Buffy gripped Halfrek's arm with both hands and pulled her toward the exit. A guy in a poly blend shirt stepped in front of them. He held a Margarita glass with a tiny bit of red drink swirling around in it.
"Hey," he slurred, "where're you beautiful ladies going?"
"Make her let me go," Halfrek said with mock panic. "She said I can't ask you to dance or take you home for sex. She says you're a loser."
"Yeah?" The guy put his hand on Buffy's shoulder, but it slipped and he cupped her breast.
With a flick of her arm Buffy solved the problem of the lush. She hauled Halfrek past his prone body.
"I'll come with you," Halfrek insisted as Buffy jerked her along. "Do you act like this with everyone? Maybe you can teach me something."
"I'm not a sleazy demon, just doing my job," Buffy tossed.
They got to the fire exit and Buffy shoved it open. An alarm sounded, but she quickly slammed the door. In the alley she let go of Halfrek's arm, confident the demon couldn't zap out before she could grab her.
"Were you just doing your job with William? You have caused him tremendous pain. How do you think he feels about that?" Halfrek sneered.
Buffy's fist collided with Halfrek's chin and the demon dropped flat on her back.
"You were at Anya's wedding weren't you?"
Halfrek smiled uncertainly as she rolled to her knees. "You don't have to punch me to get an answer. I was there, so what?"
"So, socks," Buffy spat. "I don't have a high opinion of Vengeance Demons. You are also the beyotch who locked me and my friends in the house on my birthday."
Halfrek climbed to her feet and cocked her head defiantly. "Yes, it was me. I don't deny it. Your sister made a wish, and I —" she held up her hands. "You're not going to punch me again, are you?"
Buffy replied, "Let's just say I may want to grant you your wish at any second. If you don't tell me where you sent Spike for example, I'd figure you're wishing for some bloody Chiclets in your mouth."
Halfrek huffed indignantly. Buffy planted her feet and Halfrek threw up a hand.
"Wait. Wait. I knew William back when he was William. William the Bloody, he was called; a poet of tender sensibilities and gentle mien."
"I asked where he is, not what he was. But I am curious. You knew him as a human?"
"Yes dear, I was known as Cecily then. I'm afraid that at the time, I hurt dear William immensely, as you do now, from what I hear. I quite broke his heart. We have that in common," Halfrek said.
Buffy's face was stone. "Where is he?"
Halfrek's eyes studied Buffy's face. "Do you love him?"
"Where is he?" Buffy snapped.
Halfrek's expression hardened. "Answer the God damned question, Slayer. You get your answers when I get mine."
Buffy's eyes burned. She hesitated, then let her fists relax. "Yes," she whispered.
"Eh?" Halfrek looked blank. "A little louder, please."
"I said yes." Buffy said loudly.
A satisfied smirk crossed Halfrek's face and Buffy wanted to wipe it off. "Fine then, I'll give you a fighting chance to bring him back. It's the best I can do.
"He's in another time, and another dimension. Pretty far off the mapped areas, so finding him won't be a cinch. He said he wanted 'to rewind', so that's exactly what I did for him."
Halfrek shut her mouth and gazed expectantly at Buffy.
"So how does he get back?"
"You must bring him." Halfrek said as though Buffy was an idiot for lacking that knowledge.
"What dimension is he in, what time?" Buffy asked, her temper rising again.
Halfrek pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Good questions and I suppose it is quite a challenge not knowing the answers. You find him, bring him home and he will be certain of your love. After such a test, I mean."
Buffy grabbed Halfrek by the throat. Her hands grasped nothing. Halfrek had conjured a double image. The real Halfrek backed away laughing, and made a broad gesture that ended with her popping out of existence. Her ghostly image remained for a moment, wisping away in the night air.
Buffy roared and kicked a pallet down the alley. She raised her face to the sky.
"Angel!" she yelled.
Buffy stormed into Angel's office. "What did you know," she demanded, "and when did you know it?"
Angel looked up. "Huh?"
Buffy rounded the desk and pulled Angel from his chair. She threw him against the wall and stood with her arms akimbo.
"Don't hand me any crap, Angel. You suck at lying, so spill."
An amused smile pushed at Angel's mouth, but he held it down.
"He came back in the amulet I gave you."
"That was lost in Sunnydale. So I wanna know how you got it?"
"Um. Well …"
"I'm thinking! Okay, three weeks after Sunnydale collapsed it came in the mail. The envelope had no return address or even a postmark. The amulet was the only thing in it. After I took it out Spike just appeared out of nowhere."
He ran a hand through his hair. "He was incorporeal at first, couldn't touch or be touched. If it wasn't for that I'd have thrown his ass out.
"By the way, how'd you get in here without anyone notifying me?" Angel asked.
"Your security is flawed," Buffy said, void of emotion.
"More like nonexistent," Angel grumbled.
Buffy took a breath, then exhaled and hopped onto Angel's desk. She crossed her legs and scratched her scalp frustratedly. "So, when was it that Spike went corporeal?"
Angel made an annoyed noise. "About a month ago. He left to be a hero on his own. Said he wanted nothing to do with Wolfram and Hart."
Buffy snorted, "At least some vampires have standards."
Angel rolled his shoulders helplessly. "Okay, okay, I know what you think of us. Where Spike went, what he planned to do, he didn't share with any of us. I'd let you know if I had any idea, you know that.
"Say, where was it you saw him, anyway?" Angel questioned.
"At a night club, he was performing. After his song he was walking over to me, and poof. He was gone."
Angel's brow crinkled. He sat on the edge of the desk. "He was performing? Did anyone record it?"
Buffy's mouth was a hard line. "So you could make fun of him?"
"Not that, it's just I have a friend here, Lorne. He can hear someone sing and kind of get a fix on what's going to happen. If he could hear Spike sing, he may be able to tell us something. Usually it has to be in person, but we can try."
Buffy leaned back on her arms. "It was a Vengeance Demon who did this. Spike apparently told her he wanted to rewind, whatever that means. So she made him rewind. She said he's now in another time and another dimension."
"Do you know the demon's name?"
"She told me. Halfca … no. Halftrack. No, it's something like —" Buffy grunted.
"Halfrek?" Angel said.
Buffy sat straight. "You know her?"
"Yeah. She's a preeminent demon, been around longer than I have."
Angel pressed a button on his intercom. "Harmony, are you there?"
He waited. "Harmony?"
"Uh — yes, I'm here boss. Sorry, I was putting a file —"
"Save it, I know you've been away. That's fine. Look, I want you to get Fred, Wesley and Gunn in here. Also Lorne. Ask them to please meet me in my office."
He cut off the button in the middle of her obsequious reply.