Rated R – just for a few naughty words
Medium – Fanfic
Setting – Just after the end of “Damage,” Angel Season Five, then AU from there
Summary: As Spike and Angel consider the Senior Partner’s true intentions for the amulet, the new Council of Watchers and Slayers begin to bite off more than they can chew.
Okay, so here’s the thing – the last part of the fiction is done, but was lost. I finished it up on my work computer, then the tech guy came and trashed a lot of things after I left for the day. While I’m working to rewrite it like mad to meet the midnight deadline, here are the first parts. If I don’t meet the deadline, the last part will be posted on my journal. I’m sorry about this, y’all.
The silence held in the little hospital room, lengthening into awkwardness.
Going back over their conversation, something caught in Spike’s mind. “You said Andrew and slayers? Plural? Are they based here?” he asked.
“About twelve, and no, they don’t base here. I’d know about it,” Angel answered, lifting a hand to the back of his neck. “I doubt they will. According to Andrew, we’re not on the same side anymore.”
“He said that?” Spike asked incredulously, forehead knitting. “Because you’re heading up the Evil Empire and… oh. That would be it, I guess.”
“Either they see me as a traitor or too close to Wolfram and Hart to be trusted.” The hand moved to his ear, and Spike knew he had him where he wanted him. The higher Angel’s hand traveled up his face, the more frustrated he was. Granted, it was a long trip up the forehead, but get it at the hairline and he was more apt to reveal something.
“You think they’re watchin’ us?” he asked suddenly. “Keepin’ tabs on the puppets and their puppeteers, reporting back? If it were just Buffy, the witch, and the whelp, I wouldn’t be concerned. If it’s Giles…” he let his sentence trail off and watched the gradual furrowing of Angel’s brow.
Spike had been on the receiving end of the Watcher’s wrath, seen it firsthand when he’d been asked to get rid of a body the day after Buffy had died. If the question was whether to strike at the offices, Giles wouldn’t hesitate, though Buffy would. Given the look on Angel’s face, it would seem that he hadn’t curried much favor with the Watcher, either.
“What are you getting at?” All right, perhaps he wasn’t so subtle, but the advantage was still his.
“Just that. Way I see it, two possibilities. One, you’ve got an organization with thousands of bouncy little teenage Slayers, and not enough people to train them. They give ’em a lick of training, then send them out into the world without proper parental supervision. Think it’ll be long before a few of the cheekier ‘uns decide to take on Wolfram and Hart? They’ll fail, die, and we really will be on the opposite side from them.”
Angel opened his mouth to protest, but Spike cut him off. “I can’t raise my hand for silence, so just shut up, okay? Two, you’ve got a highly organized system of Slayers with strong central command, but just mopping up spills of vampires. If Giles is in command, he’s going to begin seeing Wolfram and Hart as the big threat, and he’s going to turn that mop on us.” He paused for a moment. “Buffy might try to stop him, but it wouldn’t be the first time she’s been overruled by them.”
“What?” This caught Angel off-guard, brought him closer to the bed. Spike shifted uselessly in the bed, trying to sit up for this conversation. “Day or two before you made your giant U-turn in Sunnydale. Watcher, Scoobies, and baby Slayers didn’t like her battle plan, kicked her out of the house. Faith’s plan didn’t work, Buffy came to the rescue, all’s forgiven, ‘cept for yours truly.”
“How could they…” Angel was truly taken aback, hair more on end than usual.
“That’s what I said!”
“Throwing over their leader…”
“But I don’t think that’s the case here,” Angel muttered, putting a hand to his forehead and pushing back the hair.
“How d’you figure that?” Spike asked carefully.
The caveman brow fell, the eyes darkened, falling away from Spike, who knew the signs of a full-on brood when he saw it. “The saying that we’re not on the same side? Came from Buffy directly, via Andrew.”
Spike broke away his gaze, mind working over these last few details. Buffy sending a cold message through what had to be one of the Council’s most annoying messengers? Perhaps it really was over. In that case…
“Guess they are really understaffed, then. They were down on leadership and seasoned Slayers, so they let us feel like we had to do the dirty work by sending in a prancing Luke Skywalker with no Leia. Once the little loopy Slayer’s strapped down, they muscle us out.” He paused, considering. “Getting the dirty work done without feeling you’ve rolled around in it. Likely a Buffy move. Giles doesn’t mind dirt for his version of the greater good.”
Angel’s mouth was slightly open. It opened and closed like a grounded fish for a moment. “It wasn’t just that they didn’t trust us to help Dana. He’d had this planned from the beginning. And watching us, seeing us operate, knowing our resources…”
Spike nodded, noting the use of the word ‘us,’ and wondering if it included himself. “And we just let him into the heart of our operation. Better’n Mata Hari.”
Whether it was the ‘we’ or the ‘our’ that tipped him off, Angel stiffened, training a thoughtful gaze that Spike had deflected many times over the years. Many times, in which the dull heat from Angel’s eyes bore into his skull, testing him under its pressure, Spike knew in his heart the elder vampire was considering whether or not to dust him – suspicious in his heart that the adaptive vampire would succeed in beating him.
“You never explained how you heard about Dana. Or how you figured it out about that lamprey-parasite that Eve sicced on me,” he asked quietly.
Spike felt his double-barreled shotgun being wrested from his hands and turned around on him.
“Didn’t I tell you? Hero of the People and all that rot. Keepin’ my ear to the ground, checking up on the morally questionable. ‘S a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it. Damsels in distress in every back alley, boss, no matter how many figures you pull in at the end of the day.”
“I’m not buying it, Willy,” Angel said coldly. “You got there as soon as I did, and I was notified on a tip from Wolfram and Hart’s Department of Divination…”
“You running a law office or Hogwarts?”
“…so unless you just happened to be nearby, someone’s feeding you information about all the supernatural doings in LA, filtering them down to the most dangerous threats to humans.” Angel was all business now, using every inch to tower over the younger vampire. “What I don’t get is why.”
“Why? You really must have the brains to go with the caveman brow-” Spike was cut off by Angel’s finger on his lips.
“I can raise my hand for silence, so shut up and listen,” Angel said, retracting his finger and crossing his arms into the classic ‘I-Mean-Serious-Business’ expression . “Soul or no soul, you’re not really inclined to help your fellow man or vampire, unless there’s something in it for you.” He was then uncomfortably close, enough for Spike to catch the whiff of rich man’s hair gel on him. “You think you’re going to look that much more pure than me in comparison?”
“Well… now that you say it… yes.” Spike replied, leaning back into his pillows, broadcasting smugness all the way down to the tips of his recently reattached fingers. “I may not come up smelling like a rose, but I won’t stink like the shite you shovel out every day. But I suppose it‘s who you think‘s comparing us. Note how my body is still in California, not Italy.”
To his surprise, Angel didn’t rise to this, or slam him with a reminder of his kiss with Buffy, or Spike’s aborted attempt to bend Harmony over the nearest desk. He just looked… weary.
“Look, I know it’s impossible before I say it, but can you stop haring off on our cases?” he asked, taking the tone of an exasperated father to his son.
“Afraid I’m outdoing you?” Spike returned snidely.
“No. afraid that you’re going to screw up each time and we’re going to have to rescue your sorry ass. Anybody else we have to move against is going to start realizing that if William the Bloody fails, Angel’s team is coming to succeed.”
There it was, the old rivalry rearing its head between them – triumphing where the other had failed, being accepted where the other was shunned. Each of them felt its pinch now and again, and the urge to deny it.
“You didn’t succeed with Dana, I found the little murdering moppet-”
“Fred found you after a psychic told us where to find Dana. Where we found you, doing a successful job of dying-”
“Just as I was getting through to her, you bust in, guns blazing-”
“Will you stop it?” The vehemence of Angel’s shout gave Spike a moment’s pause. “You’re a reckless idiot, and I’m not losing anyone else in this!”
Spike and Angel both understood Angel’s words a moment after he’d said them. Angel dropped his stance, and Spike observed his sometime sire in a moment of vulnerability, a phenomenon rarely, if ever seen. Any emotion beyond irritation or slight concern could be construed as weakness, and therefore covered up.
“Go to sleep,” Angel told him hoarsely, before turning on his heel and walking out.
“Angel!” Spike protested, trying to get up before realizing the numbing drugs had eroded his ability to straighten up. Fuming at this sense of impotence so soon after regaining his corporeal form, he threw himself with a grunt back into the pillows and waited for the chance to confront Angel when he could stand on equal footing.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/192482.html