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Stay Puft

Buffy's eyes darted from Lorne to Willow. They both stood with their arms crossed over their chests in an act of stubbornness.

"Guys, we need to find Spike," Buffy said. "This is no time for a battle of the wills."

Willow shook her head. "I refuse to sing. There's no chance in heaven or hell, or- or any other place, that you'll make me sing."

Lorne tsked. "Shame, I'd love to get our blondie bear back a.s.a.p. I guess we'll just have to do it a harder way."

Buffy grimaced and muttered, "I thought we weren't going to call him that."

Willow ignored Buffy's complaints and argued her point. "Why do you even want this? Did I ever do something evil to you?"

"Me? No. But I heard about your little run with the black magiks. I have to give over total control of my mind to you, and I won't do that unless I'm sure that you're not going to wipe it, or make me a vegetable."

Willow squinted her eyes into an annoyed glare. "Don't tempt me and we'll have no problems."

Lorne pointed his finger at her. "See! That sounds evil. No song, no brain sweep, or whatever it is you'll be doing in my skull."

Both Lorne and Willow turned their backs on each other with a grunt.

Buffy hung her head. Time to really get involved, she thought. She moved to Willow's side and put her hand lightly on her shoulder. "Willow?"

Willow stood firm, her eyes staring straight ahead of her. "I am not singing. We'll find another way of getting to Spike."

Buffy slid her hand under Willow's chin and turned her eye to her. "Willow, I need you to do this." Buffy let Willow see her pain, her loneliness. "I was just able to keep it together when I thought Spike was dead, that there was no way to save him." Buffy bit back her emotions before they got the better of her. "Even then I drank the pain away. Help me, please Willow."

Willow sucked her bottom lip between her teeth and worked it nervously.

Buffy saw her upper hand and continued. "Besides, I like your singing, and Lorne owns a karaoke club." A smile tugged at the corner of Buffy's mouth. "And he told me a story about Angel singing Barry Manilow."

Willow threw her hands up with a growl of frustration. "Fine! I'll sing a darn song." Willow stuck her index finger at Buffy. "You owe me, big time. I mean, this isn't a 'hey I owe you one' kinda thing, you owe me."

Buffy nodded. "Of course."

"I mean it! One day, and that day will come, I'll call upon you to do me a service for me." Willow shook her finger slightly.

Buffy hugged Willow before pushing her towards the stage. "Just pick a song you like, and everything will be fine."

Lorne leaned against the bar. "Come on Cherry Pie, let me hear those beautiful vocals of yours."

Willow threw Buffy a look that clearly spoke of how much she hated the fact she was about to sing.

Buffy bit her lip and stifled a giggle as Willow sang and bobbed her head to the music. Her movements went against the rhythm and her voice was too high for the song she had picked.

Willow walked off the stage as the music ended. She looked pointedly at Buffy, who was trying not to giggle from behind her hand. "Not, a word."

Lorne went to Willow and tossed an arm over her shoulders. "You were fine, Strudel. And now we can go on with the brain scan."

Wesley cleared his throat. "How are we even sure that this is the right course of action?"

Before anyone could counter his remark, an eleven-foot gray demon appeared in the middle of the room with a blast of white light.

Buffy's shoulders sagged slightly. "Why? Why do the big ugly demons always pick an important moment to come a knocking?"

The demon's eyes zeroed in on Willow and Lorne. "Stop magic. Crush witch and demon."

Buffy stepped between the demon and his target. She stood within hitting range of the demon she mentally dubbed Stay Puft. "Enough proof for you, Wes?" Buffy asked with a raised eyebrow.

Stay Puft swung his arm through the air in what would have been a devastating blow, had Buffy not ducked. Stay Puft roared harshly, his noise made the other's in the club cover their ears.

Buffy barked, "Okay, we get it. Big dumb rock is pissed. Shut up!"

Stay Puft stopped his bellow of annoyance and blindsided Buffy with a kick. Just before the hit landed, an invisible force shielded Buffy. The force threw Stay Puft back into the bar.

Buffy's head swiveled as she looked for the source of her invisible savior. Her eyes lock on Willow. "You?"

Willow shook her head slowly. "Na-ah."

Lorne raised his hand. "This is a non-violence demon bar, Cinderella. If someone tries to hurt someone else," Lorne waved his hand at the demon that was ripping his way out of the bar. "I just got that fixed!" Lorne whined. "I need to stop bringing Angel's friends here."

Buffy nodded. "Looks like we're moving this fight outside." Buffy unsheathed the stake she kept at the small of her back, and continued to taunt the demon as she eased towards the door.

Stay Puft growled and charged Buffy in a fit of anger.

Buffy side stepped and Stay Puft ran past her, right through the front door of the club. Buffy glanced at the others. "I'll be back soon, and when I do, I'll have the name of the guy who sent such a beautiful gift." Buffy's words dripped with a fake sugary sweet tone as she stepped out of the club.

Willow looked over at Wesley and frowned. "Where's the Vengeance Demon?"

Wesley's eyes searched the club. He shrugged. "I haven't a bloody clue."

Lorne groaned and sat heavily on a stray chair. "We lost a person? Looks like Angel Cake's security guys aren't the only ones who need to work on their vigilance."

Buffy came through the door a moment later, she grinned as she wiped sweat from her forehead. "I know who's after us."

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