Angel sat behind his desk, hands steepled as he studied the man before him. His friends were seated in chairs and couches scattered around the office. They'd managed to get together without Eve but, unfortunately, hadn't been able to avoid Spike, who was standing propped against the wall, arms folded across his chest.
"I'm not altogether sure what we're facing, Angel. However, I do know what it isn't. It's not the Shanshu prophecy."
"How do you know that?" asked Gunn.
"Because," Wesley paused, and his gaze flickered to Spike for a moment, "for that to happen, you need two souled vampires and there is only one...Angel."
In a flash, Spike propelled himself from the wall to confront Wesley.
"I'll have you know, I fought for my soul. Nearly died to get it."
Wesley sadly shook his head. "I'm sorry, Spike."
Angel leaned back in his chair and smiled broadly at the blond vampire. "You really fell for that 'I'll give you back your soul' routine old Vestor runs? I thought everyone knew about him. The guy gets off on pain and violence."
"No! I do have a soul. Tortured me with guilt, it did."
"He's been running that racket for years," Angel continued. "He burns some flesh to give it an air of reality, though I didn't think even a fledgling would actually believe it."
Eyes wide in shock, Spike stumbled away from the group toward the door, shaking his head in denial.
"Can't be right. I felt it. Buffy felt it. Bloody Hell, I died because of it."
Spike's gaze swung around the room, looking at Gunn, Lorne, Wesley, and Fred, searching for confirmation of his claim and finding none. Finally, his eyes rested on Angel, smug and satisfied behind his desk.
"Face it, Spike," Angel said. "You lose again."
With a cry of pain, Spike whirled and raced out the door. Wesley, Gunn, Lorne, and Fred stood and looked at each other worriedly.
"Are you sure he doesn't have a soul?" Fred asked.
"Positive," replied Wesley. "But as for how and why he acted as if he did, I truly have no theory that would..."
"Dumbo's feather," said Lorne, interrupting.
"Dumbo's feather?" repeated a confused Weasley.
"Yeah, that's got to be it," said Gunn. Turning toward Wesley, Gunn explained. "They gave Dumbo this feather and told him it was magic, that it'd make it so he could fly. But they were just messing with him. He could fly on his own, the feather just made him believe it."
Fred walked hurriedly to the door. "I'm going to go find Spike, talk to him, or something."
"I'll help," volunteered Lorne.
"We could split up," said Gunn as he joined them. "Cover more ground."
The trio left, discussing strategy as they strode away. Wesley turned to face Angel.
"There's a few places I know, where they might want to consider looking," he said as explanation as he headed toward the door.
"I don't get it," Angel said, bewildered. "Spike's not the one. He's not important. Why are you rushing off to find him?"
Wesley gave Angel a pitying glance.
"Perhaps, once we've brought him back, you can ask him. I think he might be able to tell you."