Feedback: VERY MUCH YES, PRETTY PLEASE.
Archive: Just ask.
Pairing: W/T, X/A and original m/f, with mentions of B/R.
Rating: I'm English so series probably a 15, but will border on 18.
Spoilers: Alternative timeline, splitting off from Family, does make mention of other parts of S.5, also make mention of Angel S.2 around Darla turning, but he hasn’t gone bad yet.
Disclaimers: These all belong to the god that is Mr Joss Whedon, and whatever rights he has assigned, to his bosses and their companies. Legally I would be considered a 'man of straw' so please don't sue. Actually means I’m skint.
Music Copyright: ‘Rock DJ’, is by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, © 2000.
‘Trouble,’ is by Coldplay © 2000. Used without permission (just love).
Authors Notes: This part contains angst and violence, including drug abuse.
Authors Notes (2): The cocktail Faith drinks was the result of a very long and busy day in a Cocktail Bar (I picked up the wrong bottle), no one had come across it before, it is vodka, baileys, Tia Maria, grenadine and cream (sounds awful, but really nice), if anyone knows its proper name be most grateful.
Part Two: Reunion.
Faith sat nervously as the trial began around her, surrounded by a sea of people, spectators in the theatre of justice. Faith, though sat alone. No lawyer to defend, no family to support her.
The clerk boomed. “The case of The People versus SPENCER is now in session. The Honourable Judge Masters presiding all rise.” The judge was old, small reading glasses sparkled on the bridge of his white haired brow.
He frowned. “Isn’t the defendant represented?” He blurted.
“No Your Honour. The defendant has refused all legal aide despite…” The prosecutor spoke up.
Three people entered the courtroom. One a strangely dressed man clung to a girl. The third, while bruised and battered, his neat, conservative attire screamed lawyer.
“I apologise for my tardiness, your honour.” The young man’s upper class English accent rang out. “But I am Matthew Davies, and I shall be representing the defendant from now on.”
He handed the prosecutor and the bailiff a series of folders. “As you can see I have been employed by Ms Spencer legal guardian to represent her in this matter.”
“The defendant is over the age of majority and this order was installed by an English Court which……”
Matthew cut off the judge, “That is correct your honour, however Ms Spencer case falls under a unique area of English law, and places her, despite her age, under the guardianship of Lord Rothwell.”
“The court does not recognise this law Mr. Davies, nor its power to bind it.” The judge all but snarled at the arrogant English lawyer.
“Normally this would be correct, however for that reason this court is not competent to try Ms SPENCER. I therefore move for this court to recess until a competent, Trestcote Tribunal, can be convened.”
The court erupted, and the judge’s face went through various stages of purple.
The courtroom was a buzz, like some medieval arena, spectators bayed, lawyers screamed, and the seething judge added rhythm with the frantic banging of his gavel.
Matthew stood at its centre, bandages peeked out from his well-tailored suit, a small smirk twisted itself over his features, a picture of a quiet confidence.
He lowered his good arm in a calming gesture, the noise abated slowly.
“Your Honour if you would turn to the pink folder.” His eyes locked with the still angry judge, after a few moments those eyes narrowed suspiciously. “As you can see everything is in order.”
Matthew turned from the judge, pouring himself a glass of water from the prosecutor’s table.
“That as maybe, but you will show a greater respect for this court.”
“Your honour the respect in which I hold this court is a high as it can possibly be.” He said deferentially, though he could tell from the stiffening of the judge’s body that he understood the ambiguity in the statement.
“Is there a representative from Wolfram & Hart here?”
The front row shifted slightly, a young man with a prosthetic hand stood up. “I can speak for Wolfram & Hart.”
“And you are?”
“Lyndsey McDonald.” The lawyer picked up the prosecutors bundle. “If I may?”
The judge indicated that he should continue. Matthew’s eyes narrowed at the American’s attempt to bait him, slowly reading the file, tutting and shaking his head.
“It appears to be in order your honour.”
“Will you be handling the case Mr. McDonald?” He turned to the representatives of his firm, they nodded.
“Yes you honour.”
“Then before I dismiss, is there anything else?”
“Yes, the defence requests that the defendant be released on bail.”
“We object your honour. The defendant is a violent individual, dangerous to the public at large and herself; indeed she recently spent time in a psychiatric ward. We also suspect she is a serious flight risk.”
Matthew fumed. “Your honour, the defendant has yet to be found guilty of any crime, and may I remind the court that she voluntarily handed herself in to the authorities. And you have my personal guarantee that she is not a flight risk.” He immediately paled when the words left his lips.
“Your personal guarantee?” The judge smirked.
Matthew turned uncertainly towards Arthur, feeling a trap being baited. The other man nodded.
“That is correct.”
“Then I shall set bail at five million dollars, to be redeemed when a court seal is produced confirming the conclusion of this Trestcote Tribunal.” Matthew bowed slightly.
He turned to Lyndsey, “before I forget, here’s my card, it has all relevant contact numbers. If they prove unsuccessful, then contact the main office switchboard, they’ll be able to contact me.”
“What office is that?”
Matthew’s eyes drifted to the Wolfram & Hart representatives sitting in the front benches. “Why D.A.C.E of course, that’s Duke, Andrews, Cunningham and Edwards.” He spoke loudly so they could all hear him, the more senior officials paled.
“Thank you Mr McDonald.” He nodded and left.
Faith let out a shaky breath, her hands shivered as if struck by a severe cold, her skin was pale and her eyes withdrawn, the after effects of the last few days beginning to take their toll on the tired young slayer.
Arthur entered the cell; Tara still clung to him using him as a prop to her own emotional turmoil.
“My Lady Faith,” Arthur grinned, greeting her warmly.
“Hi,” Faith mumbled. “And what are you, sir, milord, boss?” Her sarcasm was weak.
“Arthur is fine, thank you. I believe you know Rh……Tara?” He corrected himself sadly.
“Yep though I didn’t think you drove stick.” She whispered sadly, still uncomfortable around the man and so she attacked.
The barb hit home, Tara hid behind her hair. Arthur slowly lifted her chin, his lavender eyes radiating a sad kindness. His voice showed none of their compassion, “that was uncalled for Faith. T…Tara is my daughter.” The coldness disappeared as his voice took on a more teasing quality. “Anyway I believe no-one in this room drives stick.”
“I ain’t no fucking dyke.” Faith snarled, understanding his meaning.
He shrugged. For the dark slayer to be truly free she would have to accept all aspects of her personality, but something’s remained outside his ability to help.
“Perhaps. Would you like one?” He produced a small silver cigarette case. Faith nodded.
He lit a match on its rough surface. “Thought someone like you would use magic?”
“I could once, but my control of the elements is no longer what it was.” He said in reply, Faith frowned over the evasion. “Anyway, I must leave town for a while, but I shall leave you in Mr. Davies capable hands. Though do not hesitate to contact me, I’ll be here for you, always remember that.” His eyes never left hers, his voice filled with an intense conviction that Faith believed.
“Now give me your hand.” His hand encased hers, a small black blade dagger sandwiched between them. “Welcome to the family.” He pulled the blade free, their blood mingled, and her hand burned, but when he released her hand, the cut had gone and no mark remained.
He slipped on an ornate silver ring.
“Have fun.” He drawled as they left the cell.
Faith sat in the holding cell, a stunned and confused look painted upon her face.
”Ah Ms SPENCER.” Matthew called as he entered her cell. His eyes lingered over the girl; she was now dressed in her street clothes, the figure hugging leather and the tight top, covered by an old battered leather coat.
Faith smirked at his reaction. Still got it girl, she leered mentally.
“Yep that’s me,” she’d taken the mayor’s name, him being the only father she wished to truly acknowledge. “So you’re my Lawyer, didn’t think I had one of those.”
“Well your new guardian believed it would be for the best. And as one of our most important clients we were glad to be of service, so any resources we have are now at your complete disposal.”
This guy was worse than a watcher, she snorted to herself.
“No I have a number of formalities for you to complete before we can go. Firstly I need your signature on a number of items.” He slid over a thick folder towards her.
She paused. “Just by the crosses, don’t worry your not selling your soul to the devil.”
“Been there, done that.” She muttered.
He smiled at her joke. “Excellent,” he muttered as he took back the folder, checking it. He passed over an envelope.
“Right these are yours, just one more thing, can you sign this.” He handed over a small red book. “I’m sorry about the picture, you should see mine.” He reassured warmly.
“Its only a temporary one, the consulate will issue a permanent one after your tribunal. But for the time being it has to go to the court. Now your wrist”
“Your wrist.” When she held it out, he slipped a small dark bracelet onto it. “It’s not harmful just a locator, it will keep tabs on you, make sure you don’t run away. Its not that I don’t trust you, but well you disappear I loose my job, I rather like that, and the court tell us to.”
He stood up, “Ready to go Lady Belmertin.”
“Eh. I’m not a Lady.”
“You are now, the third bit of paper you signed made you the adopted daughter of His Grace, the Lord Arthur Belmertin, Duke of Rothwell, and all the titles and benefits that come with such a title.” He smiled pleasantly.
Arthur lingered in the shadows listening to their conversation as they left.
“…yes, Lady Belmertin, that is correct.”
“So I will have servants and shit?”
“I believe so.”
“Cool,” an evil grin spread across her face, “am I rich?”
“Individually, not at the present, but the Rothwell Estate is quite vast.”
“I believe it currently rest around the billion pound mark, that doesn’t include the works of art and jewellery that also make up the estate.”
“Cool. But I get nothing?”
“No, I’m afraid you misunderstand me Lady Belmertin, it is a case of not yet, my partner is currently re-establishing the Rothwell Trust, which you and your sister will have access to, I’m told it is quite substantial in it’s own right.”
“That is, is well just cool.” She mumbled again, her eyes filling with dollar signs.
Arthur shook his head, stepping out of the shadows as Tara emerged from the bathroom.
“Tara,” he called as she approached, she blinked as she watched the shadowing spell dissipate. “Would you like lunch before we set off, I know this quaint little restaurant, it specialises in foods from around the world.” He beamed, as she shyly nodded.
The restaurant was anything but little or indeed quaint. It was large and noisy and packed, if queues were any indication it was massively popular.
Tara heard mutters of protests from waiting customers.
“Ah milord, I have your table waiting.”
“Excellent Michael,” he beamed as he shrugged out of his coat.
“Roberto will be your waiter today, milord.” The maitre’d nodded towards a young man.
Michael turned towards his irate customers.
“Thank you Roberto.” He nodded at the waiter to pour the wine.
“Anything else milord, milady?” Tara blushed behind the large menu.
He shook his head, “give us a few moments. Have anything you want”
“C-c-can I a-a-a-ask y-y-you a q-q-q-question?” She blushed deeply as she stuttered out her words.
He nodded encouragingly.
“A-a-a-a-a-a.” She took a deep breath and she rushed out, ”areyoureallymyfather?”
“Yes, you were born 20 years, 5 months and 2 days ago, you were born at Rothwell Hospital and you weighed 7 pound, 1 ounce. You were 4 days late, and your mother was in labour for…er…6 hours.”
“Oh.” She whispered.
“You were born Rhiannon Tara Belmertin, your mother and I were together f-f-for –f-f-five years, t-t-three b-before you w…” He stalled, painful memories showed upon his face.
“I met your mother…”
New York, 1977.
It was a typical rush hour, it could have been any city really, any country in the world, at any time. The random splattering of punks and aging hippies gave it some semblance of its period in history.
Arthur hated train stations, he had a deep down snob in him, which hated all forms of public transport, but sometimes it was necessary. Also the timetable was confusing him, and he was going to be late for a very important engagement. It was not a good day.
“……I’m sorry miss, you’ll still 2 dollars short.”
“B…B…B…But…” The ticket seller rolled his eyes, “could you step aside please. Next.”
Arthur gently placed his hands on the women’s shoulders, “m-miss.”
She jumped violently and he staggered.
The power that had jumped between the two of them was nerve numbing in its intensity. To Arthur’s sensitive vision it was a golden wave of electricity that crackled between them, his body still tossed and churned at the power that infused their touch.
The women’s eyes widened recognising it too.
Her hood had fallen down, revealing a full head of rich and dark blond hair. She turned towards him again, and his breath was stolen from him again.
She was stunning.
He fell into her deep blue eyes, they carried a soft mournful warmth that with infinity. They held him fast; no magical force was as strong as the blue that held him now.
“C-c-can I-I b-be of a-assistance.” His words stuttered out, instantly nervous in the presence of this woman. Something he’d only felt twice before.
She shrugged, blushing.
She stumbled away, her own shock disappearing into fear.
“Wait!” He shouted, moving to follow her through the station.
“…I chased her for about 15 minutes before I managed to get her to stop. I bought her a large coffee, with fresh cream and two sugars, and a fresh cinnamon pastry at a nearby café. Every second in her presence I felt myself slip away, she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I gave her the money for her ticket, and then followed her around the country. After a month she just gave in, and agreed to talk to me.” He smiled sadly at the obviously happy memories.
The waiter coughed breaking the silence that had descended between them.
“Can I take your order milord?”
“Yes…Yes of course, the Moroccan lamb, and to start with the warm roasted vegetable salad.”
“The r-r-roast d-duck p-please, f-farmhouse s-s-soup to s-s-start.”
Arthur waved of the waiter as he asked: “Now tell me a bit about you?”
Buffy shivered and shook as her body fought against the drugs that battered at her body. Giles flinched with every scream, with every sob and dry retch, his soul breaking as whatever terrors affected the slayer, threatened to tear her apart. He sat there like a nurse over a terminal patient, gently cleaning her, cooing and whispering soothing words to her ravaged world.
The others would occasionally shuffle into the basement, no amount of courage though could make them stay, nor look upon the private terror that was attacking their friends. They would hear Giles voice, a soft murmur in the pale darkness of the room, telling stories or meaningless babbles, before the cries of pain would drive them to flee further from the room.
In a few hours the slayer’s physiology would drive the addiction from her, cleanse her of the drugs hold. Those genes that would cure her, were also torturing her as they sped through the process, but they would do nothing against the dark presence that he could feel niggling at her soul.
“How are they?” Xander asked meekly, as he put the phone down.
“I don’t know.” She shook her head, trying to shake of the images and smells that lingered on her sense. “How’s Dawn?”
“Anya says she’s still sleeping.” Willow could see that her old friend’s emotions were still tightly wound; she could see it in the subtle little jerks and twitches on his tense body. “Look Will…I’m sor.”
“Its okay Xander, I know, we both do.” She gave a half smile him. “I don’t know what to feel?”
Xander frowned at her.
“I’m so sad, Buffy, Joyce, Dawn, I just want to breakdown and cry, b-but I want to be happy to, I feel so guilty.” She mumbled with a small squeak of a sob.
“Yeah I do,” he put his arm around his red haired friend.
“She sounds wonderful.” Arthur said with appropriate amounts of approval and fatherly concern as Tara stuttered Willow’s virtues.
Tara grinned, then blushed.
He handed back a crumpled picture of a smiling Tara, wrapped around a thin pale red haired girl.
“I hope she treats you right.” He frowned, his lips working silently, as soon as the words left his mouth. He barked with laughter. “Don’t I sound parental?”
Other diners stared over their meals at the loud joyous sound, causing Tara to shrink into herself slightly as she felt their eyes prickle along her back.
“So did you enjoy the food?” Arthur changed the subject, picking something neutral attempting to make her feel more comfortable.
“Y-y-yes, I-it was l-lovely.”
“It wasn’t it, I must get the recipe for that pudding, Mrs Cockle would just die.” He chuckled briefly. He sneered as he the dark wine merely trickled into his glass.
“Yes my cook, she’d love you, big old cockney matron.” He said absently as he nodded to the hovering waiter.
“Cook!” Tara blurted in surprise.
“Oh yes, I have cooks, butlers, maids, even a boy who cleans shoes, the Full Monty if you like. Perks of being a Duke.”
“Duke!” Her surprise continued to overcome her stutter.
“Didn’t I tell you?” He shook his head, as if saying to himself, how stupid am I? “Yes I am Duke, my full title goes on for about ten minutes, but I am His Grace, the Lord Arthur Belmertin, Duke of Rothwell, and a few other hovels.”
“Oh!” Tara said stunned.
“Yes my dear,” he said with a mischievous grin, “you are a member of the British Upper Class now, heir to the second wealthiest title in the realm, and you my dear are richer than the Queen.”
“Oh that’s nice.” Her voice was clear, but a little breathless, her eyes slightly glazed.
Well at least it stopped her stuttering, Arthur shrugged as he turned to the approaching waiter. “Actually Roberto could get my bill please, and arrange for a case of these to be waiting for me.”
“A case?” Roberto’s clam exterior cracked slightly.
“Two, one of the white and the red.” He pointed to the bottles the waiter was carrying.
“C-certainly Milord.” He stammered out.
A large limousine pulled up silently in front of the restaurant, as Arthur guided a still stunned Tara towards the exit.
“Your Grace.” Michael bowed slightly, “everything to your satisfaction.”
“Michael, it was as always exceptional, thank you very much.” He pumped the man’s hand warmly.
The other man grinned at the complement, “your is ready, its waiting in your vehicle.”
“Excellent,” Arthur beamed.
Inside the limo Spike pushed himself into the deep, comfortable leather seats as the door crept open, he relaxed as the dark windows once again blocked out the sun. He offered a strange looking bottle to Arthur, its green contents twisting with the gesture. Arthur shook his head, instead reaching for the wine.
“What’ up with chippie?” Spike snorted at Tara’s glazed expression.
“I think she’s I b-b-b…” Arthur’s eyes widened as if he had been struck by great pain, his skin paled and beads of sweat appeared on his brow. He groped in his coat, hands frantically grabbing at a small silver flask, unsteady fingers pulled of it’s cap and he guzzled down its contents, hardly noticing the small trickle of red that ran down his chin.
He breathed heavily, trying to regain his composure, Tara her daze forgotten stared worriedly at the shaking man, even Spike’s eyes showed a touch of sympathy, as he silently passed him the bottle.
Faith was surprised at Matthew’s house, well mansion really. It was a large three story building, a fat tower providing access to its floors, with a swimming pool sitting at it’s bottom, while it was bright and airy, each of its windows had extendable heavy black blackout curtains.
She stretched in the dying sunlight, she shook the water from her as she donned a heavy robe on. She was enjoying the freedom it provided for her, heightened by the vast panoramic of L.A. that spread out before her.
Entering the main bedroom area, she was still surprise at the contrast of the room, one that was reflected throughout the house, one side was very neat and rang of a mature femininity; the other was a mess and had the touch of an adolescent male. The neat side often falling in the shaded parts of the house made her senses prickle, a left over from Matthew’s vampiric lover.
Music blared out from one of the bathrooms, the tune was catchy but she couldn’t place it, another male voice was following it.
“…But when I rock the mike,
I rock the mike (right),
You got no love then you with the wrong man,
Its time to move your body,
If you can’t get a girl but your best friend can,
Its time to move your body.”
Matthew was definitely moving his body, steam surrounded his towelled form, using a razor as a microphone.
Faith burst out laughing.
He jumped, clutching his chest melodramatically. “Wha…Faith…Jesus.” He stammered breathlessly.
She smirked at his outraged looked, “got some moves lawyer boy.”
“Yes well, did you enjoy your swim?”
“Yeah it was okay.” She winced as he turned back to his shaving, a series of burn like scars grew out from under his towel, she shifted uncomfortably in her robe, remembering her own blemish.
“What no more booty shaking,” she teased weakly.
“Nope, haven’t got the time I’m afraid.”
“Going somewhere nice?”
“Yes we are.” He shrugged on his own robe, heading into the bedroom he passed her an evening dress, and a white box, from the large wardrobe.
“Yes, seeing as we’re both dateless, and stuck with each other,” he pulled out a dinner jacket. “I’m taking you to a film premiere.”
“Cool, what?” She stammered confused.
“I’m not entirely sure, but Em said I had to be there at nine, we’ve got about an hour, or we’ll be late for our dinner reservations. You can use Azie’s make up if you’d like.”
“No go,” he pushed her towards the bathroom. “No where did I put my cuff links.” She heard him mutter as he closed the door.
“Aha, no that just gross,” she heard him groan before the roar of the shower drowned any sound out.
“Bloody Hell!” Matthew exclaimed as Faith entered the living room. Faith was stunning in the simple black suit, it clung to her stock frame as if she’d been poured into it, her hair simply styled and modest make-up highlighted the dark haired slayers beauty.
It was ruined though by her fidgeting.
“I look okay?” She asked nervously, unused to the elegant clothes she was wearing.
“Wonderful, you’ll be the belle of the ball. Drink?”
She nodded emphatically, anything to calm her nerves.
Faith also had to admit that Matthew looked good too. The dinner jacket looked both expensive and tailored, the patterned cummerbund worked held the right amount of colour, neither dull nor overly shocking, and his normal dark rimmed glasses had been replaced by contact lenses.
“We make a fine pair don’t we, and your early, a disgrace to woman kind everywhere,” he teased as he fiddled with the bottles in the well stocked bar.
“Yeah well I’ve never been much of girl.”
Bottles blurred quickly and professionally. “Well your non-girlish ladyship, your drink.” Matthew handed her a pink creamy drink, before pouring his own coke.
“What this?” She said appreciatively.
“I’m not sure, something I made by accident at a bar I worked at, during my student days, why?”
“It’s good.” Matthew beamed. “Well drink up the car will be here soon?”
“Why you helping me?” She blurted into the silence, blushing immediately after saying it.
“Never been able to resist a damsel in distress.” He quipped lightly.
She nodded gratefully, annoyed at her slip and suddenly not really wanting to know. “Sir Lancelot eh?”
A bell rang.
“Shall we go. Its Sir Galahad really, Sir Lancelot he pinched another man’s wife, not very heroic really.”
He held the door open.
“Faith. Its not for the money.” He said firmly to her back. Her shoulders straightened slightly. “You know what though,” quickly he fell back into a lighter tone, “I’ve got no idea what this film is about.”
Faith smirked, “so its not a action flick, bombs, babes and bad guys.”
“Quite possibly, I doubt it’ll be a serious piece of drama.” He shrugged as he closed the door, “it’s a Hollywood movie.”
Riley was confused, the loss of his masters presence left the vampire lost and alone. An almost mortal depression set in, especially as he was unsure if the complex back-up plans they’d set up would even work now. Though this dark cloud, did not sit well with the deep rage that boiled within his soulless body.
So he waited outside the heavy wooden door, two scabby looking demon monks flanked him, and he could feel their fear and their dislike.
This pleased him.
The heavy door opened sharply, an attractive woman hung on them, a mortal mumbled incoherently behind her, his skin clammy his mind shattered.
Riley noticed the manic madness that lurked in the hell-goddess’ eyes, to him it was as obvious as the power that radiated from her, terrifying the monks beside him. They fell to their knees.
He stood amused, “Glory I presume?”
“Yeah what’cha want big boy.” She grinned at him.
The air in the Magic Box was heavy and tense, the unhappy silence that hovered over them like a stifling blanket in the summer’s heat. Xander, Anya and Dawn sat staring at a cooling pizza, unable to bring themselves to eat.
Dawn was casting furtive looks towards the basement where her sister tossed in a trouble sleep. Willow talked quietly with Giles in the office; both worried about the strange aura and markings that covered the slayers frail body.
“…Cheer up kid, it will be fine.” Anya said mechanically, giving Dawn an awkward and to hard squeeze on the shoulder, in her attempt to be supportive.
“Yeah Dawnster,” Xander tried, attempting to place warmth rather than worry in his voice. “Giles said she was fine, she’s just sleeping. You know what she’s like, one night and she’s fine. Slayer Healing part of the package.”
“What about mum.”
They flinched, and both stared at the table. Xander hardly seemed to notice Anya squeeze of his knee as his face darkened.
Willow hardly notice the tension grow as she walked passed them, smiling slightly at Dawn as she passed, moving towards the restricted part of the shop.
Car lights twinkled against the shops shutters, a loud boisterous singing came muffled from outside shortly afterwards.
“…And I never meant to cause you trouble,
I never meant to do you wrong
If I ever caused you trouble,
Then, oh no, I never meant to do you harm.”
Arthur and Spike burst into the store their off key singing broke into the tense shop like shrill white noise. The words died quickly as the angry stares forced reality into their alcohol-hazed world.
“Ripper!” Arthur bellowed. “We’re Back!” Spike seemed to be loosing whatever grip he had left and began mumbling against Arthur’s shoulder. He deposited the mumbling vampire against a pillar.
Arthur flopped down on the stairs, pulling an ornate cigarette case from his pocket, the harsh smell of it’s smoke rose in the shop, though it was scented with an odd smell.
Arthur giggled. “Whoops, wrong side.”
Four sets of eyes, each struggling with shock, anger and disgust bored into him.
“Hello Arthur,” a cool voice called.
“Ripper.” Arthur cooed, he attempted to stand, but his legs wobbled, he flopped back down. “How are you?”
“I got ‘er back Ripper, lets celebrate. Want some?” He offered the cigarette over. Giles shook his head fondly as he approached the shorter man, “I think you’ve celebrated enough.” Stubbing out the cigarette.
Arthur almost pouted.
“Nah. I haven’t caused a r……oh.” He slumped backwards, and slid down the small set of stairs. He started to snore quietly.
“Giles.” Xander stammered into the shocked silence that followed the strange man’ black out.
“Not now. Help me get them into the office.” He said tiredly. “Bloody Hell Arthur, you’ve put on weight.” He groaned as he manhandled him upright.
Arthur was jerked awake by the sudden movement, mumbled his reply.
Giles laughed as Willow and Anya blushed. “I don’t think that’s possible, or legal.”
Xander’s temper started to grow at Giles’ actions. “What’s going on?”
“Not now,” he hissed again, responding to the younger man’s tone.
“It’s far too complicated.” He sighed, not wanting a confrontation.
“Giles how’s Buffy?” Dawn stammered as the two men walked back onto the main floor of the shop.
“She’s still asleep, I think she’s going to be fine.”
“Bu…” The shop bell tinkled interrupting Willow before she got started. She turned towards the door, and the air was torn from her lungs.
Matthew with the party, the film had been appalling, all special effects, no plot filled with sentimental patriotism (plus no popcorn). His mood was not improving, the thick sea of lap dogs and press was preventing him from seeing his old friend and the film’s female lead.
Faith on the other hand was loving it. She’d absolutely loved the film, though she was desperately trying to convince herself that it was the leading lady’s performance that she’d liked. She was enjoying the free food and drink, and was feeling a little light headed, and she she’d got to meet a couple of her silver screen heroes.
At the moment she was trying to meet the man who’d played the English bad guy in the film, another Englishman was currently talking to him, there was something oddly familiar about him, but she just put it down to having seen him in something.
“…a step up from school theatre.”
“Yeah and you don’t have to wear those awful dresses.” Both men laughed at the memory.
“That’s true, so how have you been Alex? I haven’t seen you since you finished playing Johnny Rosendale in Sharpe.”
“Ah well, trying for that big break.”
The man Faith thought she recognised turned towards her, and a cold stab of fear sliced into her heart. She turned quickly, hoping not to be seen.
Oh shit! Oh Shit! Oh Shit! She panicked.
She collided with another person.
“Jesus,” the girl shouted angrily, “will you watch wear your going.”
Faith’s world bottomed out violently, instantly recognising the taller girl’s voice. She muttered an apology, hoping to make a quick escape, her eyes looking round for Matthew.
“Hey where do you think your going, do you…” The girl grabbed Faith’s arm. “Oh god!” She stammered with fear as Faith looked up.
She backed up.
Tara was getting worried, her two escorts had disappeared into the Magic Box, and showed no signs of coming back.
“I-I-I-I-I’m g-g-going t-t-to f-f-f-find t-t-them.” She stuttered at the driver, who merely grunted.
The door popped open. She stumbled out clumsily, and taking a deep breath she pushed the door open.
Standing on the lower shop floor, a vibrant flash of colour in a world rapidly turning grey, stood Willow
. It was like a movie, the camera flew towards a character, the rest of the world blurred into one, the sound becomes a single dull roar, her blood rushed and her heart thumped heavily in her eyes.
Willow stepped away from the brewing argument, everything was oddly muted, her stomach churned and a wave of nervous nausea threatened to steal the strength from her legs.
Instinct battled within Tara, the desire to flee and the desire to stand were fighting for supremacy within her. The struggle left her frozen in the spot, an animal caught in the glaring headlights of her former love’s green eyes.
To Willow it seemed as if the world had become deathly quiet, only her body produced noise, her heart boomed, it’s rhythm rapid, the beats rolling into one, her stomach bubbled violently, her clothes rustled, her breath rasped weakly in her lungs. The result was so deafeningly loud that even the walls of ancient biblical cities would have crumbled before her.
To both women it seemed as if their bodies were rolling in the fury of their own terror, only the other seemed calm, a lighthouse in a dark night’s storm.
To the other it seemed as if Willow was possessed, her limbs moved stiffly, moving towards Tara, as if nothing else mattered.
Dawn smiled weakly as she caught sight of the other girl, while Anya watched with disinterest. The two men, their argument forgotten turned to the new arrival, Giles face softened an almost fatherly joy spreading across his face, Xander’s though was the opposite it was a dark cloud that twisted in an angry wind, but a firm hand gripping his shoulder stopped any response.
Willow and Tara were merely a hair’s width apart, tears fell silently down their cheeks. Tara lowered her face, her hair fell hiding it from Willow. The red head smiled at the move, it brought memories of her flooded back into her mind, she reached into the silky curtain, her hands moving to caress soft skin.
Both let out a short exclamation, as the charge flickered between them. She lifted the face, letting the hair full back, she whimpered quietly as the tears ran across her fingers, and she became aware of the sobs sending small shivers along Tara’s body, hardly aware of her own mirroring the other.
The hands left her face, Tara moaned mourning their loss, but it barely had time to touch her lips as Willow enveloped the other women in a tight embrace, it shattered whatever strength the two women had as they slid to the floor, huddled together.
Xander shook off Giles’ restraining hand.
The spell broke, the movie returned to normal speed.
The tray crashed to the ground and with it followed the sound of embarrassment, and as the dull metallic clang quietened, its companion followed the silence of amusement. Almost all the attendees of the premier turned and looked at where the sound originated from, Matthew though merely closed his eyes and prayed.
The way his evening was going he just knew, “Faith!” The shrill female voice confirmed his suspicions.
The scene that surrounded his charge, reminded Matthew of a schoolyard fight. A ring of spectators had formed around the action, each jostling for a better view.
At the centre of the group, Faith and Cordelia stared at each other surprise had frozen them into place, but with every passing second muscle’s grew tenser and the threat of an explosion moved towards a certainty.
“Faith?” Wesley stammered as he broke into the centre of the ring, Matthew broke into the unfolding drama a breath later, echoing the former Watcher’s statement.
Faith looked around the three of them, the tension evaporated in an instant, replaced with a wide-eyed fear.
“Excuse me.” Matthew coughed trying to gain control of the situation, and take some of the pressure from his troubled client.
Wesley ignored him. “What are you doing here Faith?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your concern.” Matthew answered instead, stepping in front of Faith.
“I think it is actually.” Wesley snapped back, his voice as precise as Matthews. “This young lady is a dangerous criminal, I think we should be contacting the authorities…”
“I’m quite aware of Lady Belmertin’s circumstances, it is obvious that you are not.” Matthew turned to face Faith effectively dismissing Wesley. “Lady Bel…”
Cordelia though would not be so easily dismissed, her voice came back and her inner bitch broke free in a sudden rush. “She’s no lady, she just a nasty, fucked up slut. What did she promise you, a good shag? Watch out she likes pain, though with an uptight asshole like you that’s probably clinched it. Pretend she’s a lady, make it alright to mommy and daddy, make sure you…”
“I assure you miss, Faith is a lady, though I doubt you’d qualify.” Only Wesley’s quick reactions prevented the young seer from launching herself at the lawyer.
“Cordy, this isn’t the place.” He hissed trying to hold on to the angry, resisting women.
“Yes but let leave this too the authorities.”
“I’m afraid that will only result in bringing trouble on yourselves, as I’m sure the police take a dim view on frivolous calls. Lady Belmertin is here quite legally, and any further suggestions otherwise will result in preventative measures. Do I make myself clear?”
“Quite, and who is your employer Carson and Carson?” Wesley snarled back, causing a look of amusement to crinkle at the younger man’s eyes. “No, perhaps then Wolfram and Hart?” Disgust, mingled with a flash of anger, flickered on Matthew’s face. “Obviously not, well surely not them, you sunk that low, you must have been really desperate. You work for D.A.C.E don’t you?”
“I think it’s time we left Faith.” Matthew forced out, his face reddening with anger, and the effort it was taking to maintain control.
“Bloody snooty fucking arsehole!” Matthew ranted, his clipped accent gone, replaced by his native cockney one. Angrily he kicked the tyre of his car.
His face twisted in pain.
“Better?” Faith asked with faint amusement, her own face pale from the confrontation.
“Yeah, you?” Faith shrugged, “I guess.”
“Wanna stay out, or come back?”
“Ummm.” Faith hesitated. “I’ll come.”
“Yeah right, I believe ya.” Matthew snorted.
Pooping the boot of the car, he began to rummage around.
“Here catch!” Faith struggled to collect the haphazardly thrown items. “And finally.” He deposited three stakes on top of the shifting pile.
“Now be back before nine, we have a meeting at 11, then your going shopping. Okay have fun, oh and when you get back, yes my girlfriend is a vampire, please don’t slay her. If not for me then your trust fund, she’s setting it up.” The sports car rumbled off with a deep purr.
Angel silently entered the lobby of the Hotel, closely watching the room’s two occupants interact. The tall blond female was almost constantly fidgeting, as if she were trying to fight down an uncontrolled, emotional outburst, aimed squarely at the other guest. The other guest was trying to ignore the women, his eyes were closed and he was quietly humming an unidentifiable pop tune. The souled vampire could see though that his attempts to ignore her were merely enhancing the women’s distress.
“Lorne, Detective Lockley how are you both?” He called, causing both to jump slightly.
“Peachy.” Lorne responded sarcastically.
“Angel.” Kate snarled. “What do you want?”
“Do either of you know who this is?” He held up a blown up photograph, the man was fuzzy, but identifiable.
“That’s Arthur Belmertin, some sort of English aristocrat.” Kate shrugged. “Can I go now?”
“Do you know anything about him?”
“It’s important.” Kate’s look clearly implied it wasn’t to her. ”Please.”
Kate sighed; she had that sinking feeling that Angel wouldn’t let her go until she answered his questions. “Look I’m not sure exactly what happened, but from what I’ve heard it’s causing a major panic upstairs, how they’ve kept it quiet is a fucking miracle. A 18 year old kidnapping case, murder, cop killing, the list a endless, not the kind of publicity the department needs at the moment.”
“So what does he have to do it?”
“It was his daughter that was kidnapped, the only reason that its not got into the press is that he got her back, and the kidnappers turned up dead. Is that all?”
“I guess. Your sure there’s nothing else?” Angel pressed.
Kate shook her head trying to keep the grin off her face; she was beginning to understand where the vampire was going with this. He knew this man had something to do with that Faith girl, but not what had happened.
This was one thing she wasn’t going to reveal especially now, no let soul-boy find out by himself. “Nope, bye.” She snorted, moving rapidly from the hotel.
“That girl’s got some serious issues. Gave me a damn headache.” Lorne gripped as he rubbed his head. “So what did you want?”
“You heard about Darla and Dru?” Lorne nodded. “Well you heard anything?”
Cordy and Wesley stormed into the hotel.
“Cordy please calm down.”
“Your saw what happened, what he called me?”
“Yes, but this is not helping.”
“Okay children, what’s going on?” Angel interrupted loudly.
Wesley and Cordy answered as one, “Faith’s out.”
Riley was growing frustrated at the Hellgod’s constant and insane ramblings. She seemed to be focused on one topic: the key, but she couldn’t seem to grasp even that in a coherent form. She was like a record cut and pasted together from different artists, a noise without form or meaning.
“So you see my problem?” Riley merely nodded, forcing down the contemptuous sneer that wanted to break free over his features.
The vampire began to understand something else too: Glory for all her power she was weak, and in that fact lay a great potential.
He gave a wicked grin, “I understand completely.”
She ran her fingers over his chest, a childish grin plastered on her face, “and?” She prompted.
“All you need is your key.” Glory nodded enthusiastically, “and for that you need the slayer, both I can give you.”
Riley could barely contain his contempt as he watched Glory bounce up and down like a two year old at Christmas.
Only Lindsay seemed unmoved by the violent temper of the firms Managing Partner. Holland and Lilah flinched every time he shattered another piece of expensive furniture. His twisted features seemed even more animalistic in the shadows of the primal rage that held him.
“So,” Hans Wolfram snarled as he slowly regained control, “Cunningham has taken an interest in the rogue slayer.” His voice held a faint but unrecognisable European accent.
“Th….” Holland found himself cut off by an intense, hate filled growl.
“Yes sir that’s correct,” Lindsay answered at Wolfram’s nod.
“It would seem that the young lady has been adopted by one of their major clients.” Holland stated simply.
Wolfram let out a bark of laughter, “and the real reason?”
“We are specifically mentioned in the indictment, despite the fact we do not specialise in the criminal tribunals.”
“Then Cunningham wishes to continue where he left off?”
“Yes Sir, it would seem that the rumours are true, D.A.C.E wishes regain its monopoly over the area. By taking this case, especially with our history with the slayer, there are declaring their intentions”
Wolfram nodded at Lindsay’s succinct appraisal of the situation, “Lindsay you will lead on this case, you will have the firm’s full support and backing to do whatever is needed. Understand?” Lindsay nodded, trying to keep the grin that threatened to grow down.
“Sir, I think…” Holland gargled noisily as Wolfram plunged his teeth into the lawyer’s neck, ending his life before he had a chance to even scream.
“If you were capable of thought, we would not be in this situation.” Wolfram raged loudly at the body.
The dam of anger and frustration slowly, but inexorably gave way and came crashing through in a seething maw of devastating foam nothing could stop it. He watched as they fawned over someone who’d betrayed them, someone that wasn’t even human, just another demon, like those that had taken Buffy and Joyce from them.
He felt a loving hand moving along his back, trying to relax his tense muscles. He didn’t want to feel love though; he wanted to feel nothing, and the thing in front him wasn’t allowing him too.
“What the fuck is she doing here?” He shouted.
Whatever confidence Tara had held was blown away in that collection of words, and the raw almost hateful way they were delivered made her shrink back into herself, and away from the arms that encircled her.
“I…I…I…I…I…” Desperately she looked pleadingly towards the redhead. “W…W…W…W.”
“She’s come home.” Willow told her oldest friend firmly.
“That desperate for a fuck, you’d take that thing back.”
“She almost killed you Willow, she almost killed all of us.”
“I love her.”
“She’s a fucking demon, or perhaps you like that sort of thing. First Oz, then her, why not do Spike as well, complete the set.”
Tara’s strength had left her under the verbal attack; she was trying to hide behind a nearby cupboard, tears flowing down her pale cheeks.
“You betrayed us you bitch, you hurt us. You hurt them.”
“Xander.” Giles growled this time, his eyes, darkening with warning locked with the younger mans.
“Why don’t fuck too, go hang with your demon buddies. You say you want to help, to protect Buffy, but you can’t. Why can’t you? You didn’t see what they…she…they” He stumbled over the words. “You didn’t see what they did, they killed her.” His own tears began to fall.
“It’s alright, it’s alright.” Anya whispered from behind, trying to soothe him as the real reason for the outburst. On the floor Willow was copying the ex-demon’s actions, trying to calm her obviously distraught lover.
Xander collapsed in Anya’s arms, sobbing loudly against her chest. “I’m sorry.” Giles watched Willow’s eyes tighten as Xander sobbed out his apologies to the world.
“D-Dawn, p-perhaps you could help me get some drinks or s-something f-for everyone.” He stammered, trying to move the group away from the confrontation.
The club hummed, she could feel the bass tickle her spine; it was filled with a promise of lust and anonymity. She began to move to the beat, just another face in a crowd, moving against and with the warm bodies that surrounded her.
Smoke and hormones hung heavy in the air, mixing with the throbbing beat and pulsing lights. She smiled as she caught the eye of a small, slim blonde; a wicked grin crossed the face of the other women.
She found a similar grin growing over her own features.
Long cool fingers danced along her exposed skin, as the other women began to move against her. Their bodies fell into a teasing rhythm, just a breath apart, eyes locked, fingers began to enter the dance, igniting a spark of desire deep within their twisting bodies.
Their lips moved across skin, replacing the teasing of their bodies, deepening their lustful dance. Tongues flickered tasting skin, but it never lingered, it only added to the tension that threatened explode between them.
They could taste each other.
It couldn’t go on, neither could hold back.
Lips met, sealing the dance.
Faith could feel the music tingling up through her bodies, it calling to her like a moth to the flame. She could see the back of the queue; feel the buried twist in her stomach once again.
Temptation mixed with equal parts disgust.
She stood routed to the spot. Indecision flickered across her face.
“Hey babe, what’s the matter?” One of the women called drunkenly, her friends laughed.
Faith felt sick, she darted into a nearby alley. She leant heavily against the wall, trying to keep herself upright.
You’re not like that! A voice called in her head.
A sharp intake of breath and a familiar scent caught her attention, breaking through into her own thoughts.
She wanted to leave, and then something else caught her attention, something just as familiar as the smell of sex.
Her body began to tense up in a different way.
A hand slipped smoothly along Emily’s thigh, it caused a deep half moan, half growl to escape from her lips. Soft lips left hers and started to tease the top of her neck, the hand moved closer to her centre.
She moaned again, she lifted her neck up, exposing it to the other women tortuous descent.
She began to rock against the hand.
Pain suddenly exploded in Emily’s neck, hands removed themselves from her centre, and grasped her shoulders painfully, holding her firmly against the alley wall.
A scream wanted to escape but fear kept it in
“Hey, what ya doing with my date?” A voice called angrily.
The blonde vampire looked up angrily at the newcomer, blood painted across her now twisted features.
“Drucilla, deal with this will you!” Darla called before turning her attention back to her prey.
Faith felt cold hands grab her.
“Hello deary.” The new vampire drawled in Faith’s ear, she could hear the excitement in her voice, but also the madness that seemed float just beneath the surface. “Miss Edith is going to be so upset.” The dark haired vampire giggled.
She twisted Faith around; she loved looking at the fear in her victim’s eyes.
“Ooh pretty.” Darla drawled happily, then she frowned. “Its all dark.”
Faith grinned, plunging the stake into the vampire’s chest.
“Oh bad gi…” Drucilla exploded into dust.
Darla looked up in shock as she registered the sound of a vampire dying.
“What the fuck.” She gasped.
“Nah, just a slayer.” Faith threw the still stunned vampire across the alley, quickly staking the blonde before she could recover. “And you’re slain.”
Before Faith could enjoy the moment however Emily fell limply into her arms.
Faith groaned as she awoke, trying to work out the kinks that had formed by a night sleeping on plastic chair.
“Who are you?” A voice croaked as she stretched and twisted.
“Huh, no-one really. I…er…found you last night…you fell…and er…cut yourself.” Faith tried weakly.
“I thought I was attacked by vampires.” Emily mumbled absently.
Faith choked. “Pardon.”
“Nothing. Could you get me a glass of water?” Emily groaned, her throat dry, and constricted by the bandages.
Faith nodded blushing.
“Didn’t you save me?”
“No you just fell, I just caught you.”
“Oh my Lady Lancelot after all.” Emily grinned.
“Galahad.” Faith mumbled absently.
“Yeah Lancelot ran away with the Queen didn’t he.”
Emily shifted uncomfortably, though a strange knowing grin appeared on her face. “Your Faith.”
“What.” She squeaked.
“Your Faith, Mattie’s client.”
“Er…yeah…how’d you know?”
“That’s Matthew’s saying…”
Matthew snuggled against the cool body that nestled tightly against him. He felt her purr happily. “Good Morning,” she whispered.
“You’re the one who can look, so go find out.”
“Don’t want to.” He nuzzled her neck.
“And you’re complaining.”
“No, how are you feeling?”
“A bit weird, like I ate something strange.”
She elbowed gently. “No the spell just had a lingering aftertaste.” She turned around, and kissed the top of his shoulder.
“You know you’ll look strange with grey hair.” He said absently, gently running his hand though her long hair.
“It’ll be awful being old.” She pouted.
“You’re already old.” She growled flipping him over.
“Your really asking for it now.” She drawled, she leaned down and kissed him roughly.
The phone shattered the moment. “Yes…” He barked loudly down the phone, as Azelle rolled off of him giggling. “Faith…You’re where? A-a-are you all right? Oh god…Em…I’ll be right there. Fuck!” He snarled as he slammed the phone down.
“What’s wrong?” She whispered.
“Em’s in hospital.” He said stunned.
Willow watched Tara sleep; she looked so peaceful in the soft morning sun. Her darkening red hair seemed to have an ethereal glow about it, even the little twitches and moans she gave off in her sleep Willow found had a beautiful, fascinating quality about them.
They were both lying on Willow’s dorm bed, both still fully clothed.
As gently as possible, as too not wake the other women, Willow stroked the soft fine hair. The sleeping women automatically nuzzled the soft, probing hand, before relaxing into a peaceful sleep once again.
A soft, almost pained knocking broke the quiet spell that had fallen over the redhead.
Angrily she ripped open the door.
A pale Arthur grinned sheepishly from behind the thin wooden portal. His clothes were rumbled, like hers he’d slept in them but while she merely crumbled, he was a mess of awkward creases and bunched clothes. She was sure that there was a greenish tinge about him too.
“I’m sorry [he winced] is Tara here [wince].” A look of pain crossed his haggard looking face.
“She’s a sleep.” Willow whispered angrily.
“No I’m not hon.” Tara called sleepily.
Willow threw Arthur a withering look, he attempted a charming smile, but somewhere in its formation it became a wince of sheer pain.
“Can I come in?” He managed to grind out.
“Er…”He could see a negative response forming on her lips.
“Its alright hon.” Tara said coming to the door.
“Come in then.” Willow grinned.
Arthur slumped down into the nearest chair; he quickly emptied a flask that had appeared in his hands.
“W-w-w-willow m-met m-my f-father.”
He gave a little wave, “its rather complicated.” He groaned, trying to forestall questions that he could not physically answer at the moment.
Amy the rat sensing the presence of a newcomer, started rattling her cage, her actions were violent and enthusiastic.
“Alright! Alright!” Arthur groaned clutching his head painfully. “There is no need too shout.”
Willow and Tara exchanged confused looks.
Arthur stumbled over to the cage, and pulled the rat out. “Are you sure about this, its gonna hurt.”
The rat shook excitedly in his hands.
“Well I did warn you.” He shifted the rat in his hands.
“Sorry.” And with that, he twisted the rat’s neck quickly, breaking it.
Matthew burst into awkwardly into Emily’s hospital room; he appeared like a juggler in the moment before his act collapsed to the ground. He was carrying a large suit bag, a briefcase, whilst talking on his phone and trying to finish dressing himself.
“…Wonderful, see you at lunch…Where?…Damn…How about Caritas? …Great …Bye…Are you okay?” He directed at Emily, who it appeared to Faith was struggling not too laugh at the ball of chaos that had bundled into her room.
“Cool,” he interrupted absently, noticing Faith for the first time. “Faith, go you have one hour…” He dumped the suit bag onto her lap, “…meeting, go, no time, use the staff room.” He almost threw Faith from the small room.
He slumped down into a chair. “God Em, you okay?” A different form of panic crept into his eyes as he took his first proper look at his old friend.
“I’m fine Matt, just sore that’s all.”
Matthew looked sceptical, “what happened?”
“I went to a club,” she ignored his rolled eyes, “I picked up a blonde women, only she was…when we went outside…”
“Fuck Em. I’ve told you before, you gotta be more careful.” Emily couldn’t help but notice Matthew’s accent slip, however with the rise of her own anger she ignored the reasoning behind it.
“Like you are one to talk Mattie.” She hissed back
“I don’t go to clubs and pick up th…”
A cough interrupted them.
“Yes?” They snarled at the intruder.
“Erm…My name’s Detective Lockley I need to ask you a few questions about last night, but…erm…I can come back if this is a bad time?” Kate blushed under the pair’s intense stares.
“No.” Emily answered, her demeanour changing instantly, Matthew groaned angrily. “Please come in Detective.” She drawled.
“Thank you. I won’t keep you long Ms Taylor, now I’ve been over this with Ms Sp…Belmertin, she gave us a pretty good description of the two women who attacked you, could you look at these and pick out the two?”
Kate laid out a series of pictures on the bed. She felt a twinge of excitement as the other women easily picked out Darla’s picture.
“…I didn’t get too good a look at the other women, but I think this is her.” Emily faltered slightly over identifying Druscilla.
“That’s fantastic.” She was just going to love telling Angel that his two favourite women were now nothing more than dirt. “Now after Ms Belmertin became er…involved can you tell me what happened next?”
The detective noticed her exchanging a quick glance with the man.
Matthew gave a small nod, and rapidly tapped his fingers on his arms.
“I don’t know, I was a bit out of it, but I think they ran off.” Emily offered a weak smile to go with her explanation.
“That’s fine. I’ll be in touch if I need anything else…” Kate paused at the door, as if arguing with herself over her next course of action. “Ms Taylor, can I ask you a small favour?” She stuttered sheepishly.
Emily nodded slightly.
“Can I have your autograph?”
“Matthew,” Emily sighed when the detective had left, “what happens now?”
“Fortunately the case will just grow dust, rather like your date.”
“For fuck’s sake Em, you almost got killed. You’d be just another bloodless corpse with an inch long obituary.” He stood up angrily. “I’ve gotta go.”
“Mattie wait.” Emily called. “I’m……”
“Look Em,” he whispered softly, “I know okay, it’s just…it’s just you scared me okay. Look I’ve really got to go, I’ll be back to pick you up ‘kay?”
The actress nodded.
“Em, will you do me a favour though?” He paused by the door.
“Take Faith shopping.”
Angel waited silently outside the hospital, his eyes focussed on the building’s entrance, he ignored the occasional murmurs that escaped from Wesley, as the ex-watcher poured through Faith’s court files. The vampire’s mind raced Wesley had informed him about Faith’s new associates.
So focussed was he on spotting the rogue slayer, he failed to notice the approach of a tall blonde women, both he and Wesley when she tapped her key against his window.
“Open up,” Kate demanded.
“What is it Detective?” Wesley stammered as he got out of the vehicle.
“Got a message for soul-boy.”
“And?” The Englishman prompted, annoyance lacing the simple word.
“He doesn’t have to worry about his two favourite girls anymore.”
“They’re dead, just dust in some back alley.”
The car horn blared, though it did nothing to mask the soul-tearing howl that echoed around it.
“Your rogue Slayer.”
The two of them watched mouths’ moving silently, like fish dying slowly on dry land.
“W-W-What do-do you think y-y-your doing?” Willow stammered, equal measure of grief and anger making the words difficult.
“Athame.” Arthur snapped, holding out his free hand.
“Your Athame now.” His tone was harsh, demanding absolute obedience and Willow found herself responding to it.
“Good.” He nodded turning the ornate knife over in his small hands.
He swept the desk clean, Willow let out a small whimper as her computer shattered.
“Goddess Hecate,” Arthur boomed, “I order thee gone.” He plunge the knife through his hand and the still form of the rat.
“Fuck.” He gasped, ripping his hand free from the knife.
He fell back onto a nearby chair, his free hand groping the inside pockets of his long jacket.
“Pull it out.” He snapped at the two stunned women, in between gulping the contents of his silver flask.
“The Athame,” he prompted angrily. “Pull. It. Out.”
Willow could hardly moved, her mind raced, trying to find a spell to attack the small man, she could feel a trickle power building in her mind, but she knew no spell adequate enough to deal with the man who’d calmly murdered her friend.
Tara shuffled forward, and with a grimace pulled the knife free from the rat’s tiny body.
A scream echoed around the room, it was filled with hate and pain, it battered against the rooms occupants, as if were an animal striking out at its tormentors.
The rat jumped, pinging across the table as if possessed.
It stopped, and its’ body started to tremble, bubbles rippled underneath the blood soaked fur. A rancid smelling purple smoke began to hiss and spit its way out of the wound in the rat’s back.
It spread slowly across the table, twisting and rolling like an angry sky engulfed in terrible storm, dark lightning crackled through the heavy purple smoke.
Then as suddenly as the tempest had arisen it was gone, the storm faded, and with it the smoke stilled and slowly began to drift apart, leaving a naked women sleeping peacefully on the table’s hard wooden surface.
Oh my god, Willow and Tara mouthed to each other.
They turned to face Arthur; amusement sparkled around his eyes at their stunned expressions. He gave a sheepish little wave; his hand whilst still covered in blood, was now completely healed.
Matthew grimaced as he stepped out into the sun again; he took a quick glance upwards at the tall, mirrored monstrosity, which was the Wolfram and Hart building.
He shuddered, he was glad to be out of Babylon. He preferred the simple gothic elegance of the D.A.C.E buildings in London, they looked like a place where law was practised professionally, steeped with history and air of competence, not like the tall temple behind them where money and ego battled for dominance.
“Well that was tense.” He shuddered again.
“Yeah.” Faith shrugged, she’d been subdued throughout the morning.
The whole morning had made the dark haired women uncomfortable, bringing back memories of her previous visit to the law firm, and what she’d tried to do.
“Well I’m going to drop you at the house, Em’s gonna pick you up at lunchtime.”
“Em?” Faith stuttered, “as in the…”
“Actress you saved last night. Yep, she’s going take you shopping, I’ve got a meeting and Azie, well that just wouldn’t be practical.” He grinned.
“Shopping?” Faith muttered.
“Yeah, you do kinda need a new wardrobe.”
Matthew ducked into his car, chuckling at the terrified expression on the young women’s face. “You coming.” He called.
The growl of the engine a few moments later seemed to wake Faith up again, “you know this is a very cool set of wheels.”
“Oh I know.” Matthew grinned as the sleek sports car pulled out onto the main road. “It’s a serious vice.”
“Don’t blame ya.” She grinned back.
“Oh Azie’s just gonna love having two speed freaks in the house.” He laughed. “Do you drive?”
“Its cool isn’t it?” He frowned. “You can just put you foot down and you’re free.”
That’s funny, there’s another one. His mind whispered to itself, ignoring Faith’s response.
“Nothing,” she huffed in annoyance.
An uncomfortable silence descended within the car. Faith sat staring out of the window, though she didn’t take anything in.
Her slayer sense began to notice that something wasn’t quite right. The car sounded different, other things seemed to be moving passed them in a less distinct blur.
“You know what I was before I started to become a lawyer?”
“No.” Faith said cagily.
“I was a racing car driver, I made it into Formula 3000 before my twentieth birthday. I was good too, oh no Schumie, but hey who is.”
Faith shrugged, not sure where this was going.
“Then in the third race of my second season, I was on pole, I was fucking flying, then my brakes went, and I hit the wall at 120 miles per hour, it took me almost a year to recover, but I couldn’t race again. But I’m still a very good driver. Something these wankers are obviously not aware of.”
Matthew threw the car across two lanes of traffic, the engine deepened again, as he smoothly controlled the speed of the car: fast; slow; fast. Faith was thrown across her seat, before being pushed deeply into their soft leather as the acceleration kicked in.
“What the f…”
“Shh.” Matthew hissed, his eyes flickering to his mirrors, his mind closing in on the task at hand, only aware of the car and its place on the road, his senses focusing on the deep timbre of the engine and how it hummed throughout the car.
Faith heard the squeal brakes coming from behind them.
She turned, watching four white vans trying to follow Matthew’s sudden move, her senses tingled as she watched them, identifying them as a threat.
Matthew’s eyes darted around the road. The traffic on the city’s streets was restricting his one great advantage: speed. He sliced through the traffic once again, backwards and forwards; the harsh scream of brakes and the angry shout of horns met each one of his smooth movements.
At the last moment, he threw the car to the left; he accelerated again powering him onto the city’s motorways. He lost two of his pursuers in the one move, one simple couldn’t turn in time, and the other found itself locked up in the gridlock caused by Matthew mad dash into the slip road.
He slipped onto the fast flowing traffic of the motorway.
The two remaining vans split apart moving to limit his movement and prevent another madcap dive for a turning.
Clever, Mathew’s mind registered.
He sliced over towards one, leaving the other stranded, and placing himself in front of the other.
Surprised by the move, the other backed off slightly, as he did so Matthew began to use his car’s speed.
The van was pushing itself to its limits to keep up with the sports car.
The turning was a blur up ahead.
Taking a corner at speed is more art than judgement, entering low and slow, before accelerating into the bend, letting the curve take the car round holding the speed in check, before leaving it high and letting the speed explode out from beneath. It’s all about the braking, too soon and the car will shudder around the corner and other drivers will surge past, too late and the car will spin, and then only fate can save it from the wall and the flames.
The van didn’t, and for a brief instant the two of them were neck and neck, then the gravity of the corner took over. The sports car moved outwards as it accelerated, the van stuttered as it tried to brake, as it did so its back slipped outwards as one set of wheels tried to turn and the other stayed still, its purchase on the road gone. The weight of the van added to its movement, the top-heavy vehicle rocked on its spinning wheels, before launching itself into the air, spinning like a child’s toy.
The van’s back crumpled as it slammed back into the earth, glass and metal shattered, flame engulfed it as they spread its broken chassis, red flickered green and there was a moment’s pause.
The van exploded.
The remaining pursuer cut through the traffic, trying to follow the rapidly disappearing sports car.
“Grab the phone.” Whispered a pale Matthew, as the car slowed.
“P-P-Pardon,” an equally pale Faith stuttered.
“The phone, grab it, and dial…er…shit…1. 8. 4. 2.”
Nervous fingers jumped as they dialled the simple number, though it still took Faith four attempts to do it.
“Good, plug it into the speakers.”
“D.A.C.E. Urgent Business line, how can we…” A mechanical voice answered.
“This is Matthew Davies, code X-62-4A.”
“Yes Mr. Davies.” A new voice growled.
“Need a pick up crew, white van, following me. Threat code Alpha.”
“Your beacon code?”
“We have you? Anything else?”
“Clean up crew, gonna need a new car too, too much attention.”
“Three blocks west, one north.” The voice growled once again before it hung up sharply
Four large black vans suddenly appeared, and blocked the white one in and forced it to come to an abrupt stop. Heavily clothed men rushed out, with strange looking weapons drawn as they ripped into the van, almost tearing the driver’s door of its hinges. Blankets engulfed the struggling driver and his companion, tight iron bands pinned them to their bodies, before syringes were jabbed violently into their struggling bodies.
Another of the heavily clothed men replaced the van’s previous occupants, before it powered off.
“Hey Jackson.” Matthew called as he stepped out from an alley.
A man turned as he pulled off his balaclava.
“Matthew.” He snarled, catching the tossed keys.
“How’s it going? We still on for lunch?”
The other man nodded.
“Good. Caritas okay?”
Again a nod was the other man’s only response.
“Your car will be ready then.”
“And the debrief?”
“That may take longer,” Jackson’s eyes darted to the two bundles being manhandled into one of his vans.
“Well…” Jackson turned his back, effectively dismissing the lawyer. “…Thanks.”
“Will she be okay?” Willow stammered out into the quiet that had held sway in the opulence of Arthur’s limousine.
Arthur shrugged, “I would guess, there may be some after effects, but essentially she’ll be the girl you knew. We’ll know in a day or so, when she wakes up.”
It was not the ringing endorsement that Willow wanted, Tara gently squeezed the redhead’s hand trying to ease the fear she could see forming.
They both smiled warmly at each other, unconsciously moving closer together.
“Far too bloody cute.” Arthur muttered under his breath breaking the mood.
“W-W-Where a-are we g-going?” Tara stuttered, blushing.
“I thought we’d have breakfast, then go and see Rupert.” She looked down, slightly disappointed in his answer. He reached over and touched her knee, “I want to spend so much time with you, but I want to meet your friends, your loves too. I need to know you, meet the people who have been there, when-when I was not.” He whispered softly to her, holding her eyes with a soft gaze.
“Anyway, I also wanted to see what colour of green William is this morning.” He winked up at her.
She tried to stifle a giggle, at the mischief that sparkled around his lavender eyes.
Spike groaned. The marching band in his head was doing a military tattoo worthy of a royal performance. His stomach was a washing machine turning at full spin, tossed in the twisting winds of a tornado. His eyes were stuck to his lids, but so sensitive were they, that even the trickle of indirect light made him want to scream wildly with pain. While his mouth felt like it had gotten lost in the endless, baking sand of the Sahara desert.
“Oh fuck,” he gurgled as bile bubbled violently in his stomach.
A dry chuckle met his pain. “How long have you known Arthur?”
“Too bloody long,” he groaned, though his words came out in a series of deep groans and hisses.
“And you still haven’t learned.” Giles laughed.
Behind his eyelids Spike was giving the Watcher a look that would have resulted in his instant and painful death.
Spike’s stomach turned violently, as the smell of warm blood assaulted his nostrils. Giles watched as the vampire lurched violently towards a nearby bin, picking up the sagging demons head he forced the blood down. However much he hated to admit it, he needed the vampire’s help. Desperately.
Spike stumbled out of the office, his skin holding a faint green tinge. Though now at least he was upright, his blood-red eyes peeked out from tiny slits. Giles thrust yet another cup of blood at the vampire, he would do at least do for the time being.
“Follow me.” Giles said wearily.
Spike stumbled into the cool basement, his stomach twitched again as he picked up the smell of blood, sweat and vomit. His eyes strained to pick up shadowy movements at the back of the room.
He turned frowning at Giles.
The other Englishmen made a ‘go-on’ gesture.
Spike gingerly stepped further into the cluttered room.
“Buffy.” He called.
A growl cut him off and a heavy weight knocked him to the ground. He reacted before his mind could catch up; he all but threw his attacker off if him, he moved up into a fighting stance, his movements slower than normal, but no less as sure.
He saw the huddled figure in front of him, recognising the tiny form as the slayer.
His mind caught up with him, why hadn’t…”Oh god, Buffy?” His voice cracking again, though this time for a different reason, as his hangover was suddenly forgotten. “Buffy?” He whispered, not sure if the black haired, and naked form was the slayer.
The girl looked up, and Spike had to fight the role of vomit and grief that rumbled through his body. Green, reptilian eyes held his own, the long pupils turned thin in the darkness of the shops basement, a thin tongue flicked out from sharp fangs, tasting the air as a snake would, sharp black claws scrapped against the hard cement floor.
“Oh god.” Spike whispered again, shocked as he felt tears slid down his cold cheeks.
“…We’ll be able to get you the contracts within the hour, Mr Xanize.” Azie spoke to the extensive video conferencing equipment, set up in her darkened room. The green, squid-like demon, shuddered with approval, its deep voice bubbled and pooped over the speakers.
Azie smiled. “Yes Mr Xanize, the appropriate disclaimers will be present in the contract.” A light flickered in the corner of the screen. “Is there anything else?”
The demon twisted.
“Thank you, and congratulations on your engagement.”
The screen went dark as the connection broke. Azie leaned forward, pressing another button. The screen flickered, showing a taxi pulling up to the front gate.
“Yes.” She said as she answered the intercom.
“Hi honey.” Matthew’s voice crackled back.
“Can you let us in?”
“Of course,” she said sharply, worry striking her.
“She’s not going to be happy.” Matthew muttered as the heavy door clicked open.
“You’ll be fine.” Faith encouraged. “She…”
Faith fell silent as her senses kicked in, recognising the presence of a vampire, her muscles tensed.
“Matthew.” An Irish accented voice called over her.
“Hi Azie, have a good day.” He said cheerfully, though Faith could hear guilt underlying it.
“Yes.” She said firmly.
Faith senses told her to step in between the two, and attack the vampire, but there was something that held her back.
“That’s good.” Matthew had yet to look up since seeing the vampire.
“Where’s the car?”
“I’m getting a new one.”
“Why?” Azie said firmly.
“I got bored?” He tried sheepishly.
“Did you have a crash?” Anxiety crept into her harsh tone.
Matthew looked up and said firmly: “No!”
“Erm…there was a bit of a problem.” He mumbled.
“We were chased.” Faith was trying very hard not to laugh, Matthew looked like a toddler caught with his hand in the biscuit tin.
“Some guys in white vans. Jackson’s taking care of it.” He offered quickly.
“Who?” Azie whispered, the worried tone now completely overriding her anger.
“Are you okay?” She whispered moving close to the taller man.
He grinned, “yeah, but they had to take my car.”
“Good.” Azie laughed, “I hated that bloody thing.”
Matthew almost pouted. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?” Azie interrupted him, pointing at the smirking Faith.
“Azie this is Faith, our new client, Faith this is Azie, my partner.”
“Hi,” Faith shrugged.
“You’re a slayer.”
“You’re a vampire.” Faith shot back.
“Good then we’re okay?” They both nodded, while Matthew beamed.
“Look I’ve got to go, I’ve got a meeting to get too. Em’s going to pick Faith up in about an hour, you’ve got all her stuff right?” Azie nodded. “Good, can I borrow the car, I’ll be good I promise.”
Tossed him her keys, a look of exasperation quickly passed across her deep green eyes.
Willow found herself being slightly overwhelmed by Tara’s father; she wanted to like the strange little Goth, it was obvious that he adored Tara and her lover was comfortable around him, but something held her back, something about him prickled at the back of her neck.
“…Really, he got turned into a demon.” Arthur roared with laughter as he tried to picture Giles as a hulking, horned demon.
Tara tried not to blush as people stopped and stared at the strange and loud trio. Willow squeezed Tara’s hand letting their energies mingle together briefly. Willow’s access to magic jumped, and the pair almost walked into the back of a suddenly still Arthur.
She was suddenly and acutely aware of the power that hung around the small man, it was like a thick and heavy dark cloud, her eyes narrowed trying to understand what that meant. Arthur too was looking at Willow in the same way, something was not right about her aura, patches of gold and purple bubbled under the surface just visible against the normal colours of her aura.
Tara became aware of the tension that had suddenly sprung up between her two companions; she broke off from Willow’s touch, both her father and her lover took sharp breaths, whatever spell had held them broken.
She looked downwards, hiding behind her hair in her nervous gesture.
“Hey don’t do that.” Willow whispered, Arthur quickly forgotten, as she brushed Tara’s hair behind her ear, and gently lifting her face up. Automatically Tara found herself leaning into the touch, a smile brightening up her eyes.
Willow smiled back, before leaning into to whisper something into her lover’s ear, both blushed slightly at the words.
Arthur couldn’t watch, embarrassment, jealousy and love battled for dominance around his eyes, in the end he just focussed on piece of litter caught in the breeze.
“You can see why I need you help?”
“Yeah, it’s a Vista possession isn’t it?”
Giles was surprised the blond vampire recognised the demon that had now held sway inside of his slayer. “Yes you’ve seen it before?”
“I’ve met a couple of Master Vampire’s who’ve had them, an eternal bride.”
“Yes the perfect concubine.” Giles spat.
“How do we get it out of her?”
“That is the question.” Giles said, his voice tired and strained.
Matthew foot moved, involuntarily in time with the music, engrossed in the subtle performance of the Vasi demon’s version of ‘All You Need is Love,’ it’s three lesser heads providing a perfect harmony to the major one.
The air shifted slightly as someone glided into the booth’s other chair.
“Hello Jackson.” Matthew said without turning to the newcomer, the arrival of the waiter though caused him to face the other man. “Do you want anything?”
The dark man shook his head.
“Shame the food here is quite good.”
“Can we get on with this?” The other man snarled. “I’m still trying to deal with little stunt this morning.” Matthew gave him a contrite look, however the sparkle that refused to die from his eyes, betrayed his true feelings.
“Did you get anything from the driver?” Matthew asked, drawing the subject away from his actions.
“Yes, they were most co-operative.”
“They were, just a few street racers employed by Wolfram and Hart to run you off the road. They’ll not repeat that mistake” Jackson smiled for the first time and Matthew shuddered, it’s meaning was clear and held the guilt of a crocodile’s tears.
“G-Good.” Matthew shrugged his unease off.
“What else did you want?”
“I need a check on these names.” Matthew slide over a small sheet of folded paper.
Jackson scanned it quickly, “it will be difficult.”
Matthew nodded, “the firm feels that you’ll deserve a little extra for the trouble.” Two plastic cards also passed between the two men, one a dull grey, the other a gaudy hospital pass. “You’ll receive another when the job is done.”
The cards disappeared into the folds of Jackson’s clothes, a hungry expression passing across his dark eyes. “One week.” He growled, and in a moment he was gone.
“Bud, was that what I thought it was?” A flash of bright green flopped down into the chair Jackson had departed from.
“Possibly.” Matthew said evasively.
“I thought they were all dead.” Lorne pressed.
“Not quite, though…” Matthew trailed off.
“One day, one day very soon, Jackson’s location will fall into the hand of the Trestcote Guards, a baby will be returned and no-one will grieve.” Matthew said softly.
On stage the Vasi Demon finished its song, Matthew and Lorne turned to clap enthusiastically the noise banishing Jackson’s presence.
Tara blushed furiously as Arthur re-called another amusing story from Tara’s toddler years. Willow felt a pang of sympathy for her lover, but it did not stop a small burst of laughter escape from her lips.
Arthur pushed the door of the Magic Box open.
A blur struck him, dark and light twisted together as two small forms flew through the air.
Arthur landed on top, his small hands pressing heavily into his attackers neck. His face twisted in disgust as he registered the warped aura beneath him: A Vista Demon.
The possessed girl jerked and fought beneath his tight grip.
“Submit.” He growled.
The girl spat defiance at him.
He struck her, the strength of the blow caused blood to trickle from her nose.
“No.” She growled.
Arthur struck her again.
“Stop it!” Willow shrieked recognising the black haired form beneath Arthur, it was Buffy. A strong hand stopped her, Willow turned her rage burning deep within her. Giles shook his head, his own gaze meeting hers without flinching and demanding obedience.
She relaxed slightly, though her eyes narrowed as they turned back to watch, she wouldn’t interfere yet.
“Submit.” Buffy bucked again, almost dislodging Arthur with its violence. In a smooth movement, he brought the two of them to an upright position. Arthur lowered the lightly taller girl down, so that they were at eye level.
Their eyes locked. “Submit,” He growled, his voice deepening, as if it were multi toned. Green eyes widened in fear as they gazed deeply into the darkening lavender.
She gave a small nod.
He dropped her, she moved into a submissive pose.
“Come,” he snarled as he entered the shop.
“Sit.” Arthur snarled. The possessed slayer huddled meekly against the shop counter. Above her Spike struggled to get out of the glass-covered display case, which he’d been dumped through.
With surprising strength Arthur pulled the trapped vampire free. He took in the dishevelled mess that his two friends were in, Spike covered in small glass cuts, while Giles entering with the two girls held a handkerchief to his neck.
He cocked an eyebrow.
“She bit me.” Giles blushed, the hardness shattering.
“You tried to control her didn’t you?” Arthur shook his head. “But you couldn’t do it properly. Could you?” The vampire and the watcher couldn’t meet his amused stare.
“What happened?” Stammered Willow, she’d moved to help her best friend, instead she only saw the demon that had infected her.
“Buffy’s time with Valain and Riley left her…er…left her slightly more affected than I first believed.” Giles explained evasively.
He shifted uncomfortably under four disbelieving stares, “I-I-I-I’m going to m-make s-s-some tea.”
The minion lay prostrate in front of Riley and Glory; he was desperately trying to avoid the frustrated and anger filled faces of his two masters.
“T-T-They h-have d-d-discovered the s-s-state of t-the slayer.”
Riley’s face broke into a wide grin.
“Good,” he boomed happily. “How did they take it?”
“I do not know, but she tried to escape, but a newcomer he stopped her.”
“Enough.” The Hellgod snarled. “What about my Key? I don’t care about any new losers in mousy the vampire slayers collective. I want my key.” She stomped like a petulant and angry child.
“Of course.” Riley and the minion bowed, a quick looked passed between the two though: later.
Wolfram pressed Lindsey into the wall of his office.
“You failed.” He snarled simply, his face twisting into its demonic features.
Lindsey nodded, “I’m s…”
The vampire drove him into the wall, knocking the wind from Lindsey’s chest.
“Don’t even try.” Wolfram growled. Lindsey felt the pinprick of fangs graze at his neck he closed his eyes waiting…
“E-E-Excuse m-me.” Wolfram’s secretary stuttered as she entered Lindsey’s office.
“What?” He barked his rage turned against the interloper.
“Sir. There’s a p-phone call for y-you.”
“It can wait.” He turned back to Lindsey, tightening his grip on the young lawyer’s neck.
“It’s the Chancellor’s department.” The secretary rushed out, Lindsey felt a trickle of air force its way into his lungs.
“Who?” Wolfram asked softly, his face returning to its human guise.
“The licensing bureau.” Lindsey fell slide to the floor as air and blood rushed flowed freely once again.
“I’ll take it here. This is Hans Wolfram. Put him through.” His voice controlled and calm once more. Lindsey watched as the quick conversation seemed to rob the Senior Lawyer of all his strength, he could hardly put the phone down properly as his hands began to twitch violently.
“I w-w-want t-them dead.” He whispered to Lindsey, he didn’t hear his own words clearly, as one words boomed inside his head: investigation.
Arthur followed Giles into the shop’s small office. The watcher clumsily fiddled with his kettle.
“Are you okay Rupert?” Arthur asked weakly. Though he could not see them, he could tell the other man was crying, his shoulders shook and his head hung low, though he tried not to show it.
“Why?” He whispered croakily.
“I don’t know.” Arthur shrugged, not able to answer that heartfelt question. “Is there anything I can do?”
Giles spun, a desperate form of hope spread across his face.
“Yes, you c-could…”
“No.” Arthur stopped him before he could ask.
“I’ll help with the exorcism, nothing more.” He said firmly.
“Why?” The Ripper emerged at the fringes of the word.
“She is not mine to save. I can’t save everyone.”
“Is she not good enough for you?”
“No, it is simply all that I can do.”
“What is it because she not a psycho, is that what it takes, you have to be a murderer, for the great M…Arthur to get off his throne and held us poor mortals?”
“Yes.” He answered simply. “Its not my place to save innocents.”
Arthur caught the fist.
“You don’t want this Rupert. Do you really want her marred by my sins? That’s what you’re asking. Do you really want that?” He pressed softly.
Giles collapsed, understanding what his friend was saying but he was desperate not too.
“I know. I know.” Arthur cooed, catching the falling man, rocking him gently as the tears engulfed him. “Please understand.”
He rested his hand against the watcher’s forehead.
“Sleep.” He whispered.
Faith looked up at the massive evil that loomed above her, she shuddered at the menacing and wicked air that oozed from it.
“I hate shopping.” She grumbled.
Emily chuckled as she smoothed the lines of her lightly coloured suit, as she stepped from her car. “Its not that bad.”
Her grin broadened at the malevolent look that was shot in her direction.
“Have you ever seen Pretty Women?”
Faith grimaced, but nodded.
“Oh I know awful film, but prepare to live the shopping scene.”
Faith’s eyebrow rocketed sceptically.
“Trust me all you need to be is spoiled.” Emily locked her arm around Faith as she began to drag the stiff girl. The strength of the young women surprised her, she hardly moved. “Oh come on. This is L.A. it’s an art form.” Emily teased, “You’ll love it. Your going to be pampered spoiled and fawned over, you’re the daughter of an obscenely rich English Duke, and I’m rich, peer who also happens to be a movie star. We’ll start a riot.”
Emily giggled happily.
“Where’s Giles?” Tara stuttered as Arthur re-entered the storefront.
“Asleep.” Arthur answered simply.
“He was exhausted, he just collapsed. Its for the best.”
“What about Buffy?” Willow asked from where she was helping Spike bandage his cuts.
“Why not now?” Willow demanded.
“That way you’re ratty friend and Giles can help. The exorcism works better with more people.” Arthur stated.
“Are you sure?” Tara asked softly, she knew demon exorcisms could be complicated and dangerous.
Arthur smiled at his daughter, his confidence obvious. “Of course.”
Faith shuffled nervously near the front of the store, Emily had told her to wait while she tried to find an assistant. The English actress had been annoyed at the fact no one had jumped to serve them, and Faith got the feeling someone was going to know about it.
She also tried to push down the disappointment she’d felt when the Englishwoman had left her, she missed the arms wrapped around hers.
No it’s wrong, a voice snarled in her head.
Is it? A smaller voice asked, flashing up images of Emily the previous night.
Faith squeezed her eyes shut, her stomach felt queasy.
“Can I help you?” A sneering voice cut into her thoughts.
“Er…What…Pardon…Er.” Faith stammered at the older women who’d spoken to her.
“I said: can I help you?” The voice implied that it couldn’t.
“I’m w-waiting for someone.”
“Well this is…”
“Faith. Faith.” Emily shouted as she approached. “This is Mr. Clay, he’s the section manager, and he’s going to help us.” The handsome, middle-aged blonde nodded to Faith.
“I’d be delighted to.” Emily rolled her eyes from behind him, a teasing grin spreading across her pretty features.
Faith let out a sigh of relief.
“And who is this?” Emily asked the assistant who’d been talking to Faith, catching the look of panic that crossed the women’s face as she took in the expensively dressed women standing with her manager.
“She was asking if she could help me.”
Yeah Right! Emily thought to herself. She knew exactly what the women was and meant.
Faith frowned at the mischievous look that started to play itself across the actress’ face.
“I doubt the Lady Belmertin and myself,” Emily began, her tone and bearing no longer that of an actress but an English aristocrat with centuries of breeding behind it, “will need to draw on whatever talent you think you posses.”
Emily watched her pale, her eyes flickering towards Faith.
“Mr. Clay, perhaps you could spare us an hour or two of your time, you see Lady Belmertin needs a completely new wardrobe: suits, dresses, shoes, everything. All lost in a fire, terrible, terrible thing.” Emily threw a wink at Faith, who was trying not to laugh as the rude saleswomen watched the commission of a lifetime disappear.
“How awful, I’d be glad to help you, I’ll just grab Maria and Stefan to help. Angela, would you watch the floor for me.”
“See,” Emily whispered in Faith’s ear as they set off, “prepare to be pampered spoiled and fawned over.”
Despite herself Faith began to enjoy herself, she was being treated like a Queen, it was simple, selfish and mindless. She began to relax, but her mind tingled with a guilty pleasure: watching Emily. The actress was attentive, flirtatious and devastatingly attractive; the snarling voice in her mind seemed so quiet as she looked over the other women’s curves, touches and her smile.
Emily was not immune to the effect she was having on the Slayer, she began to enjoy the game, actively taking part in the dressing process, smoothing rumples, adjusting collars and sleeves, constantly touching. Then she’d find something she liked, and just had to try it on, drawing out the process, stretching more than necessary, dressing slower.
The assistants had begun to notice the game too, taking longer to find new clothes, leaving the two women alone longer.
“You look lovely in this.” Emily whispered into Faith ear.
“This top, it suits you.” Emily hands travelled slowly down the smooth silk blouse removing non-existent creases.
Emily grinned as she watched Faith’s dark eyes deepen with desire.
“You know, I never did thank you properly for saving me did I?”
Faith shook her head.
She was so warm, so soft, the gentle perfume that clung to her. Electricity tickled her, her sensitive senses exploded.
“A damsel should always repay her knight, yes?”
Faith nodded, as Emily pressed her back into the room full body mirrors. Their cool surface caused face to gasp, the cold behind, battled with warm in front, adding to need that tore through her like a terrible, but exhilarating storm.
“But how?” Emily drawled, pressing her taller body into Faith’s, their bodies touching completely. “A kiss.”
A warm, soft mouth engulfed Faith’s, the snarling voice in her mind screamed as she gave into her desire.
10…9…8…7…6… Azie stretched and twisted her back, the kinks pooped painfully. Her last meeting of the day had finally drawn to end.
“Bloody Hell,” she moaned to herself.
If she never had to listen to that Garant Clan again, she’d be a happy vampire, arguing over the contractual clause for two hours, it had been going on for a decade now.
“Uhhh!” She growled.
She opened the microwave, pulling out a large jug of blood; a small bottle of vodka was emptied into it.
She grinned Matthew was home.
“Yes.” He barked into the phone, the early evening traffic was driving Matthew round the bend. “Em, what’s wrong?”
“What do you mean you lost Faith?”
Matthew slammed his fist into horn.
“Fuck………………We’re are you?……………you sure she went in there?………’bout 15 mins.” Bloody women, his mind screamed.
Emily’s lips left hers; she could feel the other women tense with anger.
“Oh shit,” Faith groaned as her stomach rolled, and the voice came back with a vengeance, sneering and snarling, so filled with hate.
She was Bad!
She was Evil!
Faith pushed Emily away; her stomach twisted her mind reeling.
“Faith?” Emily asked in a small voice, shocked at the pale, terrified look that griped the younger girl.
Angel was meditating quietly in his room, since he’d found out about Darla and Drucilla he’d felt oddly serene, but the image of Faith, the dark haired mischievous rogue slayer kept repeating in his mind.
“You can’t go…Angel, Help…I’m gonna call the cops.” Cordelia’s shrill tones, filled with panic threw him out of the quiet place he’d been in.
The door burst open.
Faith stood in the doorway, expensive clothes hung defeated on her on her frame, dark make ran in rivers down her pale and shallow cheeks, given her appearance of a tortured ghost, lost in limbo.
Angel moved forward.
“Angel I’m s…” Angel glared at his receptionist, now was definitely not the time.
He caught Faith as she began to fall.
Azie felt her face twitch as the door exploded inwards, quickly she moved out of the sunlight, watching the intruders as they moved through into the house. With superhuman strength she darted forward catching the closest one to her, his neck snapped easily.
The second fell just as quickly, before she moved back into the shadows.
The groups’ leader was untroubled as he nodded to the remaining men.
Bottles filled with a dirty brown liquid shattered throughout the house.
With her superhuman hearing she heard the stutter of lighter firing and she stopped, there was no longer any point in running.
Her eyes closed as the dull roar engulfed her.
“Hey you can’t come in here.” A young, dark skinned man. Matthew just stormed passed him, a pretty women followed her eyes red raw from crying, she was hugging herself tightly, and appeared lost in her own emotions.
“Hey aren’t you…” Gunn tried again as the women passed him.
He threw his arms up in the air, he truly wondered why sometimes.
Matthew recognised two of the people that were huddled around Faith.
“I thought I told you not to harass my client again.” He snarled as approached.
“This is private property.” Wesley stammered.
“Yeah, tell someone who gives a fuck.” He snarled, pushing passed the prissy Englishman. “Faith, are you okay?” He called softly the girl.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.” Angel turned to face the younger Englishman.
“Yes it is mate.”
Angel shifted into his demonic visage. “I don’t think it’s any of your business.”
Matthew laughed. “I’m terrified, now your inter…inter…inter…” The lawyer paled, his body started to jerk, it was like a cough that had got trapped in his chest.
He looked up, his blue eyes suddenly unfocused, filled with fear and grief. “Oh.” He mouthed in surprise.
Blood began to trickle from his nose, and it bubbled at the corners of his mouth.
His eyes rolled white, and he fell into unconsciousness.
Willow’s eyes flickered to her blonde friend; she was veering between joy and sadness, Amy looked up noticing her friend staring at her from the other end of the circle, she grinned broadly as she meet those green eyes.
They crinkled briefly with happiness, before she blushed and looked away, trying to hide the tears that threatened to fall. That horrid moment this morning, Amy had awoken this morning; confusion had spread across her the face as she stared at the morning sun with human eyes for the first time in close to three years.
Uncontrollably she’d leapt on the bed, waking the cuddling couple, hugging them both, preventing air from escaping from lungs still groggy from sleep.
Tears of joy had run down her cheek, she opened her mouth to shout her joy, her thanks.
She tried again, and again, and again.
Every time, the same result occurred, nothing, nothing beyond a small gurgle, a tiny squeak.
The price of her humanity: her voice.
And yet Amy couldn’t find it in herself to care: She was human.
That’s what mattered.
Arthur winked at her from the lead position in the magical circle.
“Everyone ready?” Five heads nodded. “Spike you’ll stand watch okay.”
“Yeah whatever.” Spike shrugged, he couldn’t find it in himself to feel Arthur’s confidence.
“Well if we’re sitting comfortably, then we’ll begin.” Five hands joined together, magic surged around them, Buffy moaned weakly as the first tendrils of the groups magical attack began.
“Mattie, come on wake up.” Em called fearfully, Matthew had not stirred since his collapse the previous night.
“Here try this.” Angel said softly, “Wes said its like a herbal smelling salt.”
“Thanks.” She said absently, taking the small fabric bag.
She placed next to her friend’s head. “Any news?” She asked without looking up.
“We went up to the estate, it was burning to the ground. The fire brigade are thinking arson.”
He shook his head, nothing could have survived that inferno, and even from a distance it had struck fear into him.
“I think I knew that.” A voice whispered from the bed.
“Mattie, oh god. You scared me.” Em cried, hugging him tightly.
“Me too.” He whispered.
She felt him begin to shake in his arms. “She’s gone Em.”
“Sssh, it’s okay.”
Oh dear, that is rather clever, Arthur had time to compliment before the searing pain struck him. It grew from the tips of his fingers, spreading up through his body with every loud thump of his heart, drawing power from him like a battery to a torch.
Across from him, the trap grew power from the other four, sapping magical power from deep within their bodies.
Tara, Amy and Giles collapsed first, but within Willow and Arthur the power kept on growing, pulsing outwards like a dying sun, causing every nerve in their body to explode into a blazing firestorm.
Yet still the trap burned within Arthur, it felt as if he were being torn asunder in a great sandstorm.
A great flash burst from within him, engulfing the entire shop.
Nightmare after nightmare burned into the five spell casters, casting their souls into the pits of despair.
Green eyes snapped open as the magic binding her shattered, she took in the five twitching forms around her, just beyond a sixth, a vampire, started to follow suit.
She didn’t care, her master was calling, and nothing else mattered.
“Good morning,” Matthew called cheerfully as he entered the Hotel’s restaurant. “Faith, how are you feeling?”
The rogue slayer looked up blankly from her food.
He heard Emily gasp when she saw the blank look on the dark haired girls face. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” He whispered, “She just needs time.”
He gave the actress a warm hug.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Then she frowned he was far too cheerful, where moments before he’d been crying in her arms.
She watched him pick up a couple pieces of toast, “gotta go.” He called waving.
“He’s taking things very well.” Wesley muttered.
“Too well.” Angel muttered darkly, he could see Emily nod in agreement. He knew what had knocked the lawyer unconscious the night before, a union spell. A powerful glamour spell between a human and a vampire, allowing the vampire to seemingly age along with the human, only breaking when one or the other died.
It was very rare, and was not a casual thing.
“You’re a private detective aren’t you?” Emily said into the silent and uncomfortable air that followed the lawyer’s departure.
“Could you follow him, watch him, make sure he’s okay.”
“I’m rich. I’ll pay whatever you want. Please.” She pleaded with him.
Even Faith looked interested.
Angel just sighed and grabbed his heavy black coat.
The call was loud in her ears, the voice sang to her, directed her, it was sweet and seductive. Safe. Even the legendary sirens song paled into insignificance against that voice.
Despite it being daytime, the warehouse that rose above her was dark and foreboding. With its grey bricks and large black windows the building had the appearance of a menacing face looming over its victim, its doors wide open like a giant mouth, waiting to swallow its prey in the dark eternity that waited beyond.
Buffy didn’t see that though in her eyes it was a thing of great beauty, surpassing any palace, it was the home of her master, the darkness his realm. And from deep within it the voices came, and as the darkness swallowed her, she could feel her body begin to hum with excitement, and she moved to that symphony dancing into the dark, where her master waited.
Amy sat up, her body pale trembling and covered in a thin layer of cold sweat, but she was awake.
She shook Giles.
The older man screamed and curled up into a ball, as if locked into a nightmare that he could not awake from.
Horrid images flashed into her vision, a voice seething with anger screamed in her ears, it sounded like her mother and every other thing that had terrified since she was a child.
“…Fight it…” Another whispered in her mind, it was faint and strained, a croaky mixture, echoing with three distinct voices.
“……Fight it……” It called again. “It’s a spell………A despair spell……clever……trap……clever……clever…” The voice drifted into a language she didn’t understand in a voice different from Arthur’s, another screamed at it in Arthur’s voice, a different language again, this time the words were familiar like a half remembered spell. “……Need to break……Need to break spell……”
“…How…” Her mind answered.
“Three circles … … … …circles of salt… … … … anti… … …clockwise … …” Arthur’s voice became lost in a series of spitting and snarling growls, Arthur’s strange language returned, repeating the same words she heard earlier. “… …Join them together… …together… … …pour jargo power… … … on join… … … No …No … I’m … Me…” The three different tones screamed in her head breaking the connection.
She tore through the shop, trying to find the items for the spell.
Every failure brought that terrifying voice back into her mind, and with it images of hate and terror:
Over and over again they screamed in her mind. She poured the first line of salt, slowly walking around the five bodies. The voice dimmed and the images stopped. She began the second circle, and again the voice dimmed. The third circle was easier to complete, the voice barely a whimper. Inside the circle though the five bodies twitched and screamed violently.
Amy poured the dark blue powder onto join.
The shop exploded with light.
A path of gentle candlelight showed her the way, guided her home. The voices had stopped it was no longer needed; she could see her master tall and powerful, lesser beings bowing before his glory.
This wasn’t her master though it was just a vampire.
He approached, a small figurine in his hand, an intricate copy of Valian in his angelic form, hands crushed it.
Pain flared, before euphoria flooded through her body.
She had a new master.
Rough hands gripped her shoulders, spinning her violently.
Matthew sat in the darkened bar, the blazing sunshine of the outside world did not invade the smoky twilight of the seedy establishment.
“Vodka, double, straight.” He barked at the barman, it tried to claw back some respectability from its sordid appearance, the server wore a shirt and tie, but long hours had turned to a dingy white, the silk greasy.
Matthew stared at the clear liquid.
He picked it up, staring at the world distorted by the clear drink, making it appeared like a warped reflection in a Fair Grounds’ Hall of Mirrors.
Seven whole years.
Seven long years, that’s how long it’d been since he’d look at the world through the window of a shot glass.
Suddenly that time seemed far, far too long.
The clear liquid burnt a trail of molten hot fire down his throat, numbness spread from his stomach, engulfing his whole body, leaving his toes tingling with excitement.
“Another.” He grinned.
Three of the circle’s occupants groaned as the awoke, their bodies and minds still twitching, but all unsure as to why apart from the lingering discomfort that follows an intense nightmare.
“Bloody Hell.” Spike was the first to find his voice.
“What happened?” Giles groaned.
“You’re the bloody watcher.” Spike snapped.
“You were watching.”
“Aye, but you were…”
“G-G-Giles, W-willow isn’t w-waking up, n-n-n-neither I-I-is Ar-A-A-A…”
“Come on Art, get up.” Spike nudged the slumbering man. “Giles?”
“Spike, Tara they’re just asleep.” They could here the relief in his voice.
“I think it’s just a sleep spell, like the one Arthur used on me yesterday.” He mumbled.
“Hey what’s going on?” Anya shrieked as she and Xander entered the shop, how could she sell things with all that staining the floor, that smell, and strange women flapping her arming her arms up and down.
“Who’s the bird impressionist?” She snarled.
“Its Amy.” Xander mumbled. “Amy?”
“What’s wrong?” Giles said calmly.
The voiceless women rolled her eyes in frustration, and stomped into the centre of the circle, she jumped up and down, where a dark haired, and no longer possessed slayer should have been.
“Oh bloody hell.” Spike groaned again.
Buffy hissed at the women who’d grabbed her. “Hey mousy where’s my key?” Glory snarled at the slayer.
Buffy growled in response, striking out at the annoying creature that stood between her and her master.
Glory struck back.
Buffy cocked her head to one side, the reptilian tongue flicked out to taste her own blood.
Glory’s face twisted with anger.
“Buffy.” Riley snarled.
The possessed slayer turned and grinned at her master. She knelt before him submissively, “Yesss.” She hissed out.
“Where’s Glory’s key?”
She opened her mouth to answer, the name cam out as a squeak, something screamed inside of her not to tell.
Riley fist slammed into the side of her face.
She growled, a mixture of pain and arousal.
“Where’s Glory’s key?” He asked again.
“D……” Again the name faltered, she frowned not understanding.
Riley struck her again, she gasped.
“Dawn, its Dawn.” She hissed out, lust gaining control.
“Good,” Riley’s face morphed as he kissed her violently.
Glory giggled happily, her annoyance with the slayer instantly forgotten, replaced by a spine tingling excitement.
“Dawn?” Giles squeaked as he answered the phone. “Yes…er…umm…of course you can.”
“Bugger,” he swore before turning to the group. “I said I’d watch Dawn.” Everything was ready, Amy and Tara had cast a locator spell, they had weapons, and they even had a cloak to cover Spike against the sun.
“G-G-Giles, I’ll l-l-look a-after her.”
“Thank you.” He could see the immediate relief that crossed her face with his agreement. With her father and her lover unconscious in the stores’ backroom, the shy witch was probably the best person to stay, and Dawn was less likely to worry in her presence.
He nodded, happy with his decision. “Come on.” Giles called to the rest of the group.
“G-G-Good l-luck,” Tara called to the departing group.
“Er…Haven’t we do this place…last…er…week?” Anya stuttered. She looked up her lover, looking for approval for her attempted quip.
“Don’t know ducks, looks a bit more Poe-ish than most.”
“Nevermore, crieth the raven eh.”
“Well I hope not.” Giles’ chuckled. “Perhaps it should be: once more into the breach.”
“Ah the classics.” Spike mused, “but you know I’ve always liked: if you don’t start on the count of three..”
“…I’m going to give you a darn good thrashing.” Giles chuckled, “ahh for a mini…”
“…and a conveniently placed shrub…” The two Englishmen burst out laughing.
“…Wot, battlefield humour. Someone’s got to do it.” Spike raved, “use a bad pun, and they luv ya, classic comedy and not a bloody thing. Americans.”
Giles nodded in agreement, then had a moment of clarity, “perhaps we should get on, when we get in, we split up, three groups: Spike and Amy; Xander and Anya, me and b…I’ll be…I’ll be somewhere.” He waved off the thought.
“She’ll be fine Tara, she’s just a sleep right.” Tara nodded as Dawn handed her a mug of tea.
“I-It’s a m-magical s-sleep. Giles said.”
“See they’ll be fine. So are you like a Princess?”
“A-A D-Duchess.” Tara blushed.
“That’s like so cool, do you have like a castle and servants and…and stuff?” She faltered not able to think of anything a Duchess would have.
“We h-have a m-mansion and l-lots of s-servants.”
“Wow.” Dawn sat up suddenly and she asked slyly: “Are you rich?”
“How rich?” Dawn pressed.
“V-V-Very.” Tara giggled. Images of gold tinted cards and trust funds with noughts that were just surreal.
“Could you buy me a car?” Dawn asked, fluttering her eyebrows.
“W-What would B-Buffy say?”
“You’re no fun.” The teenager pouted.
Tara slapped Dawn’s arm playfully.
Tingle! Tara looked up with a start positive that she’d put the closed sign up, yet despite that a young woman was entering the shop.
“I-I-I’m s-s-sorry w-w-w-we-a-a-re c-closed.”
“Don’t worry I’m not here to shop, just to retrieve,” the shop filled with Glory’s monks, “some lost property.”
She grinned as the monks dragged a terrified and screaming Dawn from the shop.
“You know what I feel like take out tonight.” Glory grinned as she approached the blood red haired witch.
Tara screamed as she felt long, cold fingers grip her head.
“Shhh.” Spike hissed, trying to listen to the strange and faint noises he heard just ahead of them.
Follow me, he mouthed silently to Amy.
The noise grew louder, it was a tiny whimper mixed with the sound of flesh striking flesh, and the faint shadow of candlelight broke the hall’s blackness.
A woman screamed.
The two of them winced, but Spike’s supernatural hearing picked up something hovering beneath the pain filled scream: ecstasy.
“Can you get the others here?” He whispered.
Another scream echoed down the tight confines of the dark corridor, breaking Amy’s concentration, she could only hear the pain in that high pitched wail, Spike though was now even more aware of the arousal that sliced its way through the wail.
He could feel his face twitch in anger.
She nodded: they were coming.
“Good,” Spike nodded, and with a bellow charged into the room.
“Your most splendid magnificence.” A minion called to the hyper Hellgod.
“What?” She snapped giddily.
“We’ve found two of the Slayer’s friends, what would you have us do with them?”
Glory slung an unconscious Dawn over her shoulder, before giving the minion an exasperated look. “Well duh,” she tapped his head, “you like kill them.”
“Of you most radiant brilliance, please forgive my poor…”
“Yeah well whatever,” she dismissed him with a bored wave, “just do it okay?”
A group of her followers bowed and scrapped as they departed to carry out the Hellgod’s orders. Glory ignored their fawning, too caught up in her own excitement as she all but skipped from the shop.
“Mice. Mice. All Green. Pretty. No. No. No.” Tara babbled, hiding under the table.
The room’s two occupants jumped as Spike charged into the room. Riley rolled from the spoiled bed, trying to scramble into a defensive posture. Buffy hissed at the newcomer her face twisted into a violent fury, though she did nothing to cover her own nakedness.
Spike’s face shifted as he threw himself at the taller man, colliding heavily with his stomach, driving the other vampire back as he rained punches into his lower body and back. Riley twisted and stumbled, bringing his locked hands heavily down onto blonde vampire’s back.
The wall gave Riley some respite, allowing him to drive his knee into Spike’s face, dislodging him from the grip around his waist.
Spike grunted as Riley threw him off.
Riley moved to follow up his momentary advantage.
He was brought up short as a sharp point dug into his skin. Spike backed up keeping the short, elegant sword outstretched.
“You know what, trust you to bring a dagger to a sword fight.” Spike taunted, “don’t worry mate, it ain’t much to miss.”
Spike lowered the blade.
“No where to run now beefcake, no chip to protect ya, and me with the only real weapon.” Spike grinned. “And it ain’t even Christmas.”
Riley tried to inch his way along the wall, only to find himself boxed into a corner.
Spike’s grin broadened.
“So we just…in their sleep? The young minion questioned.
“Yes, that is what her most radiant evilness demands.” Another snapped as he approached the sleeping redhead.
The young minion shrugged, he placed his blade carefully against the man’s heart, and pausing for a moment he brought it up high and plunged it downwards with all his might.
He jerked, as he’d struck a solid wall.
The blade was held in between two parted hands, stuck in a solid magic grip, its point just breaking the silk the man’s shirt.
Black eyes stared at him; an almost amused look twinkled around them.
Across the room two further minions exploded backwards, flying backwards carried with the strength of a great-unseen hand. One flew gracefully through an open door; the other struck a wall, his bones shattering with a dull, wet thud.
“You know old boy, that wasn’t exactly cricket was it?” The man drawled casually, it would have been teasing except for deep voice and spitting growls that echoed beneath it.
Arthur twitched his hands forwards, breaking the grip of the demon that had tried to kill him, driving the pommel of the sword into its chin. The sword flicked twirled around as Arthur rose, catching its handle he drove the blade through the minion’s chest, he watched with bored disinterest as the thing gurgled its life away.
“Are you okay?” Arthur growled to the still groggy Willow.
She nodded, her own eyes turned misty with power.
“Good, go check to see if Tara is okay, I’ll deal with these…”
“They work for Glory.” Willow shuddered at the air of dark power and menace that rippled around Arthur as he stepped onto the main floor of the shop.
Spike stumbled forward, his balance blown as a heavy weight collided with his back, strong arms wrapped themselves around his neck, twisting him away from Riley, his arms flailed widely enabling the other vampire to dart passed him.
Spike reached behind him, and using all his strength he ripped his attacker from his back, body slamming them against the wall.
He brought the sword around.
Buffy growled back at him, her green demon eyes seethed from the curtain of blood flowing freely down her face.
Spike paused, and his sword arm wavered.
“What the fu…” Xander cried as he and the rest of the gang burst into the bedchamber, his voice faded as Riley grabbed his arm, twisting it up and around so that he was pressing the young man’s own stake against his neck.
“Naughty.” Arthur clucked, admonishing the two minions that were scrambling out of the Magic Box, “leaving without saying goodbye is so rude.” He waved his hand, the two demons flew backwards, and the door slammed shut, locking itself.
“Come here.” He hissed.
One of the minions floated in front of Arthur, gagging as if he were being strangled, but Arthur’s hand hovered an inch from the demons scabby skin.
“Now I have a few questions. Who is Glory?”
“I’ll never…” The minion screamed, blood began to fall from one of its eyes as the eyeball turned red.
“Thank-you. A God eh, now where is sh…”
Willow crouched beside her shivering girlfriend, the screams of the Glory’s minion merely background noise. “Babe its okay, I’m here.” Gently she moved to touch her terrified lover.
“No. Treachery.” Tara snapped. “All gone, all gone. Worms everywhere, dig, dig, dig.” She giggled suddenly, “They eat daisies.”
Willow felt her world decompress, she could feel the air being torn from her lungs, her ears pooped and her lungs screamed. Her blood began to boil and bubble beneath her skin, her eyesight shattered into a kaleidoscope of colours and behind her eyes it felt like her mind was trying to rip itself from her head.
Her eyes fell to the cowering minion, trapped in magical cage. Why should I feel pain, her mind shrieked, he should, he did this.
The spell holding him shattered, a scream began to build on his lips as the one hers died.
“Xander!” Anya screamed as Riley pressed the stake further into Xander’s neck causing a small trickle of blood to emerge from beneath its point.
“Don’t move,” Riley growled, as he backed towards the door. “Now we’re going take this nice and slow, I’m going to leave and then I let Xander go, it don’t go like this, then…” He grinned wickedly, licking the blood that was slowly seeping over the man’s neck. “Understand?”
Anya whimpered, “okay,” she pleaded. “Just don’t hurt him.”
He began to drag Xander through the warehouse’s dark corridors, the gang followed closely waiting for the vampire to make a mistake, but every twitch caused Riley to press the stake further into Xander’s neck.
“You.” He growled at Anya, “open that grate.”
Grunting she pulled the well oiled drain cover free.
“Thanks. Catch ya later.” Riley crowed, he threw Xander forward into the Scooby Gang, and as they struggled with the young man Riley slipped into the sewers.
Instinctively Arthur’s defences slipped into place, enveloping him in a protective shell, allowing the explosion of magic the ebb and flow harmlessly passed.
He turned, ignoring the whimpering demon that hovered before him. He watched as Willow’s aura blew itself into oblivion, a blue ball of energy growing from deep within her. It throbbed and hummed with power, thin lines of gold cracked and split the perfect sphere, and where the lines connected the ball bloated outwards forming great boils on its surface. Soon the whole surface was one seething mass of boils upon boils, pulsating like an evil cocoon about to birth a disfigured monstrosity.
It exploded, and for a moment Willow glowed a pure and shining gold, before it began to muddy and darken.
The remaining minion screamed, its body began to smoke and its skin blackened, it twisted and turned trying to put out the invisible fire that tore through him. It crackled as muscle burned and fat spat, hair sizzled with a sickening smell, the demon was dead as the horrifying stench of burning flesh rose thick and heavy through the store, but still it burnt, the heat so intense so violent that it began to turn bone to ash and the charcoaled skin to dust.
Arthur recognised the birth of a Mage, and the power that he’d felt around the girl made perfect sense. His stomach began to knot violently as he realised what the trigger was that had caused her blood to quicken.
Tara sat quietly just a few inches from the new Mage but the magic flowed around her as if she were the calm eye of a terrible storm. Arthur felt a tear trickle down his cheek, and his own rage begin to rise from deep within him, Tara’s aura was like a glittering mirror only its normally perfect surface was shattered into a million pieces, like it had been struck by a giant hammer.
The minion Arthur held began to convulse violently as Arthur hand began to close, it breath stuttered in its throat as the magical grip shattered bone and muscle, blood began to pore from its mouth, ears and its shattered eyes, as Arthur tore its mind to shreds as he ripped the information he needed from its dying body.
The magical storm settled as the power stilled within the new Mage’s body. The dull thump of a lifeless body caused Willow to look up sharply; her new senses saw the world as mixture of colours, blurred together like a smudged masterpiece where everything ran into one chaotic but beautiful mess.
She saw the golden armour of Arthur’s magical defences slowly disappear brick by golden brick, each crumpled and disappeared. When the last had disappeared Willow felt herself gasp, Arthur’s aura was black and it constantly shifted as if were a double negative of a double negative, only broken by the odd patches of purple and gold that flickered across the infinite blackness that was his aura.
“I wouldn’t even think it, young mage.” Arthur’s voice echoed, the three layers to his voice dragging the sentence out like a twisted harmony.
He could the pain and anger painted over the young woman’s face, revealing her intention as clearly as if she were shouting them from the rooftops.
“Why?” Willow growled back, her voice thick with grief.
“It will do no good.” Arthur said sadly, his voice normal again and his black aura stabilizing.
“Look what she did.” Willow snarled, moving to pass him.
“You can’t change that.” He whispered, as he grabbed her arm.
Magic sizzled between them, golden lightening crackled through the shop as their skin touched.
“Let go of me.” She hissed, striking out at him with magic, the jagged golden line span away from him striking a nearby cabinet.
The glass shattered, the objects within rattled before turning into dust. As more and more of the golden lightening struck around the store, more magical items died explosively. Lines of gold and black crawled up the two combatants arms, striking out at skin like enraged snakes.
The ground warped beneath them, turning into a boiling sea before vanishing in a flash of steam. Their bodies’ rose from the ground, as the whole shop rattled and shook, energy no longer exploded from the two fighters, each magical item produced it itself passing on its energy before it exploded, the shop’s books screamed and flew like insects caught in a turbulent wind, their pages ripped from them with every flap.
Sweat flowed freely down their cheeks, their skin a deathly pale through the effort.
Willow’s eyes snapped open, pain and surprise creased around the black orbs, the gold and black lines disappeared into her skull.
She blacked out.
They both collapsed to the floor, Arthur’s breathing heavy and laboured and his muscles twitched violently.
She’d almost beaten him, if she’d been anything other than a newly quickened Mage it would have been him not her lying on the floor unconscious, but that would not have been an option.
“You can’t help her,” he groaned, “but I can.”
He rose groggily from ground, his coat and staff slivered across the floor towards him, the cane stiffened as he passed and the coat engulfed him briefly as if it were a thick oil slick before solidifying into clothe once again.
Angel watched Matthew walk calmly from the bar, but the confident steps that had carried him into the establishment were gone, though Angel didn’t think that it was drink alone that was effecting the lawyer, even from this distance he could see the red that was puffed up around his eyes.
He watched Matthew lean heavily against his car, his shoulders began to shake Angel pulled the car up closer. The lawyer lifted his head up suddenly, his eyes hardening.
“Why?” He bellowed twisting around he threw his computer case against the wall as Shot putter would throw that ball of metal.
The computer exploded.
Matthew’s car tore off into the busy L.A. streets.
Angel had a premonition as to where the young lawyer was heading.
Emily sat facing the dark haired slayer. The younger women seemed to move through the day like a zombie, hardly responding to the outside world unless ordered to do so.
“Faith,” Emily whispered focusing on her twisting hands, “Faith I want…I want to apologise for this afternoon, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“I’ve never hidden what…that I’m gay.” Emily paused before each sentence, trying to compose the right words in the right way. “If I see someone I like. I go after them. I can be quite aggressive. I forget that other people are not…god…I’m sorry I was selfish and I shouldn’t have done what I did.” She rushed out the last bit of her speech, she’d practised over and over again, but the words had failed her.
Once again she tried: “I do find you attractive. I do like you. “But I understand if you, if you don’t like me in that way. Could we be friends at least?”
God, her mind screamed at her, could you be any more pathetic.
Faith didn’t seem to move, Emily sighed and moved to stand.
“E-E-E-Emily.” Faith stuttered. “T-T-T-Thank-you.”
Emily broke out into a joyful grin, and Faith despite herself found herself replying in kind.
The lift doors to the penthouse floor with a slight ping, Arthur stepped up to a dark red wine coloured door.
He knocked quietly.
“Yes, what do you want?” A female voice snapped from behind the door.
“I want to see…”
“…Lyndsay McDonald please.” Matthew said pleasantly to the receptionist.
“I’m afraid Mr. McDonald isn’t seeing vis…”
“Bullshit!” Matthew snapped, taking a deep breath he calmed his voice down. “Tell a Matthew Davies is here to see him and…”
“…And I have important information to give to the Lady Glory.”
“Well, I’m no…”
“…Vital to the case he’s working on. It concerns D.A.C.E and the lawyers who work for it.”
“Well I’m not meant to dis…”
Matthew lowered his voice to a dangerous growl. “He’ll be most…”
“…Disappointed if I fail to pass on this information promptly.” Arthur gave a hollow laugh. “You know how she gets when she doesn’t get what she wants.”
Arthur could feel the minion shudder from behind the door.
“Well okay. But you’ll have to wait.”
“Her most wonderful and powerful Glorificus will return within the hour.” The scabby and greasy looking female demon effused as they entered the luxurious apartment. “Are you here for the Key Ceremony?”
“Of course. May I see it?” He asked excitedly, like a child waiting to see his best friend’s new toy.
A young dark haired girl sat bound and gagged on a chair, she was struggling uselessly against her bindings.
“The slayer’s sister.” Arthur exclaimed.
“Yes, the monks thought they could hide the key from her most splendid Glory.”
“Monks?” Arthur frowned. “Why would they need to do that?”
“The most magnificent light that is the great Glorificus stormed their vile sanctuary, so they hi…”
“But what of the Covenant?”
“She shouldn’t have been able to enter sanctified land?”
“Nothing in this world can stop her most…why are you grinning like that?”
Arthur’s face was shadowed by a triumphant and malevolent grin. “Just that this is going to be easier than I thought.” He chuckled.
“It doesn’t matter.” His hands shot out, breaking the minion’s neck in a blurred movement.
Lyndsey was confused by the call saying a Mathew Davies was in the lobby with information on D.A.C.E, he’d been in the middle of a debriefing explaining that the same lawyer had been killed.
He head spun as he stepped into the lobby, for there was seemingly alive and well Matthew Davies.
“Good Evening Mr McDonald, how good to see you again.” Matthew said coldly as he approached the Wolfram and Hart lawyer.
Lyndsey saw the anger masking the man’s eyes, turning the normal pale blue into something dark and stormy. He felt himself take a involuntary step backwards, he had no clear understanding as where this was leading, and it made him nervous.
“M-M-M-Mr Davies,” he stuttered uncharacteristically, “h-how a-are y-you?”
“I’m fine,” Matthew said far too cheerfully, ”feeling very alive and fired up you know.” Matthew watched as the other lawyer flinched, yeah I know you fucker, his mind spat.
Lyndsey saw Matthew’s eyes suddenly flicker and his muscles tense, he braced himself…
He felt his jaw crack as the grief-fuelled punch collided with his chin; he began to slump heavily to the floor.
“You fuck, you bastard, I’m gonna see you burn you fuck, your gonna wish you’d died in that fucking fire.” Matthew slammed kick after kick into Lyndsey’s unprotected side. Matthew was hardly aware of the security guards screaming at him, nor did he notice the first blows that struck him, all he feel was each kick that pounded against the fallen man’s body and how good that made him feel.
Strong arms engulfed him, physically pulling the still fighting lawyer from the crumpled form.
“Are you okay Mr McDonald?” A security guard helped Lyndsey to stand, trying to ignore his five colleagues that were trying to restrain Matthew.
The other lawyer was crying, the fight slowly draining from him as he struggled weakly against the arms that held him, desperate sobs began to escape from his shuddering body.
Lyndsey shrugged of the hands trying to help him.
He unleashed a savage backhand to Matthew’s face with his fake hand.
“Bastard. You killed her.” Matthew whimpered weakly.
“I’m just sorry you didn’t burn too.”
“Now, Now Lyndsey that’s not very nice is it?” A cheerful voice called, as an arm fell across his shoulder in a friendly gesture. “Where’s your compassion, your heart…oh sorry, thought I was talking about a human there for a moment.” Angel said in a happy chatty voice.
The security guards’ radio belated blared a vampire warning to them.
“You know what, you two have so much in common both lawyers, both work for evil firms, both desperately in love with vampires, both of whom are dead. It spooky isn’t it?”
“What?” Lyndsey stammered as he shrugged off Angel’s arm.
“Oh didn’t you know Darla’s dead.”
Lyndsey felt his dizziness return, if Angel hadn’t caught him the American lawyer would have fallen.
“I’m so sorry.” Angel sniffed with false sympathy.
The world became a place of murmurs and babbling as his head spun violently.
“L-Let them g-go.” He stammered suddenly answering a guard’s repeated question.
“Are you sure?” The guard in question asked stunned.
“Yes, let them go. Now!” He had to think.
Darla was dead!
Matthew shrugged the relaxing hands from him, calmly he adjusted his clothes, and he stepped towards the still stunned Lyndsey.
The guards stiffened.
“Welcome to Jericho, beware my trumpets roar.” He hissed, before turning and walking through the collected guards as if they weren’t there.
Angel followed him silently.
Matthew’s mind raced as he watched the two men leave, then his mind caught up with him.
He’d smelt alcohol on the Englishman’s breath. Perhaps the day wasn’t so bad after all.
Glory was buzzing her body hummed with power and excitement. The power of the witch had even banished the constant nagging of Ben’s conscience.
And she had her key.
Her mood did not dampen when she entered her unnaturally dark apartment.
“What are you guys throwing me a surprise party?” She grinned at her minions.
“Not quite.” A voice rumbled in the dark.
Glory frowned. “Who’s there, who are you?” She shouted annoyed at the intrusion.
“Where are my manners?” The voice taunted sarcastically, but the voice wasn’t just a single voice, it was like three speaking at once. “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste.” The voice chuckled.
“I am the shining light.” A deeper voice crowed.
“I am the pike in the pond, the shark in the sea.” It growled.
Shadows shifted around the small group.
“And I want to see you die.” The minions surrounding Glory doubled over as if winded by a powerful blow, they began to shake and twitch, screams jumped and gurgled on their lips as they exploded into dust.
“Oh, I’m impressed, but I’m still standing.”
“I know,” a voice whispered seductively in her ear, “where would the fun be if I killed you now.”
Glory spun, but the voice’s owner was gone.
“You remember your last victim?” The voice drawled
“Yeah” Glory shrugged. “But you’re not that redheaded bitch.”
“No I’m worse, I’m the daddy.” The voice growled.
“Well isn’t that cute. You know she tasted so good, all pure and powerful, hmm.” She taunted, rubbing her stomach.
“Silence!” The voice snapped.
“Temper, Temper. Are we having fun yet?”
The voice chuckled, “no I’m rather bored actually, and by the way I’m sorry about the mess.”
The lights snapped on.
Twelve of Glory’s minions lined the walls, blood dripped from their hands and feet, their faces twisted into the agony of their deaths.
They’d been crucified.
Glory stumbled back in shock, colliding with a small but hard body behind her.
Black eyes sparkled with amusement at her. “I think its time you had a little pain.” Arthur drawled.
Glory’s body exploded with pain, it was as if every muscle, every joint, every nerve, every cell in her body had suddenly burst into flame.
Even after the pain ended, she could still feel it echoing through her body, buzzing around her body like a twisted charge of electricity.
Woozily she staggered to her feet, taking her first good look at her attacker.
Arthur stood lazily in front of her, leaning casually against his cane. His black eyes travelled along the Hellgod’s still twitching body, his face was one of relaxed and controlled anticipation. He looked like the cat who’d just discovered a mouse trapped in a corner, its prey was already dead, it was just about how much fun it could have before it actually died.
Glory body shuddered with a new emotion: fear.
Wildly she threw a punch at him.
He didn’t even flinch when it struck his face; whilst Glory’s hand felt like it hand hit a solid wall.
“You know Glory I’m going to kill you,” he said, his multi-layered voice almost giddy. He caught her larger fist in his small hand, and began to squeeze and once again she screamed with pain, as muscles ripped and bones shattered beneath his vice like grip. “And it’s rather emotional.” He said coldly, he threw her across the room by her shattered and bleeding hand.
She tried to crawl away, but firm hands caught her easily, dragging her to her feet as if she weighed nothing.
A fist slammed into her chest, she gasped as her eyes watered, she felt the dull crunch of her ribs breaking, pain gripped through her chest driving the air from her body as another solid punch drove the bones into her lungs.
Blood dribbled from the corner of her mouth.
“How?” She choked as hands and knees pummelled her body, each blow echoed damply as insides were battered into mush.
“You broke the biggest rule of survival Glory.” Arthur grunted as he tossed the broken body across the room, disappointment evident on his face, “never mess with something bigger than you.”
She heard his heels clip against her hard floor.
She looked up, he’d thrown her near the apartment’s large windows, and desperately she threw herself through the glass.
“Oh goody,” Arthur clapped. “A chase.”
Arthur swan dived out of the broken window, his small body twirling and spinning with the grace of an Olympic Diver. As he settled into a graceful descent, his coat billowed out around; creating a fluttering parachute to control his fall
He landed on his feet; crouching as he landed his body absorbed what little remained of the impact, the coat contracted around him, once again neatly fitting around his small frame.
Bats started to flap and screech around him.
“Find her.” He growled.
Glory sobbed as she plunged desperately through the trees of Sunnydale’s forest, she could feel her body dying, and with every step a darkness that had nothing to do with the night inched its way further and further into her vision.
Something thumped heavily into the tree in front of her.
Glowing white eyes hissed at her as the cane shifted into a long snake, which hissed angrily at her.
She stumbled away from it.
“Glory, Glory, Hallelujah. Glory, Glory Hallelujah. It don’t matter where you head, ‘cause you’re gonna be dead.” Arthur’s laughter at his silly, childish chant, rumbled painfully in Glory’s mind.
“Don’t cry, it almost over sweetie.” Arthur stroked her face gently, before his grip tightened and he slammed her head into a nearby tree, Glory began to gurgle, her vision turned red and her throat was filled with blood, as each blow destroyed her face.
“Now open wide honey, gotta take your medicine.” Something thick and cold slithered down her broken mouth, she choked as it suffocated her.
Something griped her wrist, pulling her upwards. A heavy weight pulled at her feet, and she could feel her being pulled apart, as a thick and cold rope dug suddenly into her throat.
Arthur turned from the macabre scene, as Glory was slowly hung and quartered at the same time, in a bizarre twist on the crucifixion.
“Come.” He whispered.
There was a dull rip, like the tearing of wet paper, Arthur’s cane slithered just in front of him, before it rose tall and solid again. It’s black shiny surface was now dull in the moonlight, marred by a dark, thick liquid.
Behind him, Glory twitched for the final time.
TBC…Reunion Act 2.
So did you get the slight in-joke? First person to get it wins a prize.
Sorry it took so long.
Toodles, Adam, (Crazed Attourney).