Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.Crawford Street Mansion – Sunnydale – April 2003
‘I put the girls to bed’ Cordelia told Stephen. ‘I think the jetlag finally beat out the nervousness’ she continued. ‘What about you?’ she asked the teenager. ‘We’ve got plenty of sleeping bags if you want to get some rest’ she told him, ‘I put one in the room if you want to stay in there.
‘I’m fine’ the Watcher trainee replied but didn’t turn to face Cordelia, he was still far too busy keeping a close eye on Angel sat on the far side of the Great Hall. The vampire champion wasn’t entirely sure if the boy had so much as blinked for at least an hour, at least he hadn’t every time they made eye contact. Frankly it was starting to creep him out, and he
was supposed to be the scary one.
As Cordelia left the boy to his own devices and headed across to her friends, Angel turned to Wesley, who was sat down at a table reading through one of the books Giles had stolen from the Council before it blew up. ‘I know they call you guys watchers but the kid’s taking the job title too far’ he told him.
Wesley looked up from the book. ‘Remember how I reacted to you when we first met?’ he asked. ‘Face it, you’re a legend, or rather Angelus is’ he told him. ‘That boy would have been raised hearing about your sordid history and you very likely both intrigue and scare the crap out of him.’
‘Most of what I’m picking up isn’t fear’ Angel replied, ‘and if I’m reading his body language right he’s tensed up like a spring, and not
to run away’ he said.
Wesley smiled gently. ‘Take a step heading towards the stairs up to where the three girls are sleeping and you’ll get to see exactly what’s running through his mind, which will be running you through with that sword he’s got placed so handily’ he told him.
‘Can’t fault the boy for that’ Angel replied, ‘in fact it’s the only half-way endearing thing about him so far’ he continued, ‘but it won’t do him, or any of us, any good if he’s wound up that tight for any much longer’ he said. ‘For one thing if he doesn’t blink soon his eyeballs are going to dry out’ he added with a wry smile.
‘I’ll give him another few minutes then have a quiet word’ Wesley said. ‘Or I could
shoot him with one of the tranquilliser guns’ he suggested dryly.
Angel thought about it. ‘We’ll make that Plan C’ he replied.
‘So what’s Plan B?’ Wesley asked.
‘I’ll tell him to quit staring at me and get some sleep or I’ll stick that sword up his ass’ Angel replied straight-faced. ‘I’m surprised I had to explain that one Wes.’
Wesley closed the book slowly. ‘Speaking as another product of the Watchers Academy’ he began, ‘I’d best point out, before Cordelia does because I can tell she’s about to, that you would have to remove the ramrod he’s got stuck up there first’ he joked. ‘I’ll have that quiet word now’ he told Angel throwing a smug smile at Cordelia who actually had planned to say something of the sort. That damn Englishman knew her too well she thought sadly.
As Wesley made his way across the room Cordy sat down on the chair he had just vacated. ‘I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the girls’ she said. ‘I think Emily will be okay she’s older, but the two little ones are petrified, and not just of you.’
Angel sighed. ‘Well its not like we can take them to a therapist, anyone outside of our world would think they were insane. And why are they our problem anyhow?’ he asked. He mainly thought of them as a Watchers Council sort of issue which put them firmly in the arena of Rupert Giles responsibility as far as he was concerned.
Cordelia scowled at him. ‘They’re eleven, their parents are dead, killed by the same son-of-a-bitch we’re here to fight and which would kill them too if it got the chance, and most importantly we’re supposed
to be the good guys and if we didn’t make them our problem… well we wouldn’t be’ she said forcefully. ‘Anyhow personally I like the fact I give a shit’ she added sternly. It was a clear rebuke and the look in her eyes left no doubt about that.
Angel inwardly recoiled under her gaze, Cordelia was the moral centre of the team and she made damn sure everyone else kept in line when it came to that stuff. ‘Okay I see your point so what should we do?’ he asked.
‘Well for a start, kill anything else that tries to hurt them, and make sure that they know
we’ll kill anything that tries to hurt them’ she replied, ‘You can handle the first part’ she told him. ‘I’ll handle the second’ she said decisively.
The vampire champion nodded. ‘Play to our strengths’ he said. ‘I get that’ he told her. ‘What else?’
‘Hey I’m just making this up as I go along’ Cordelia replied honestly. ‘Keeping them safe, and feeling safe, is as good a goal as anything else for now’ she said then paused looking back across the room. One of the twins, Jessica she thought from the hair, had come back downstairs and was looking around apprehensively. She spotted Stephen talking to Wesley and dashed over to him.
After a couple of minutes talking Stephen picked up the girl and carried her back upstairs with the girl carrying his sword for him. Wesley wandered back over to Angel and Cordelia.
‘She woke up and got frightened because he wasn’t there’ Wesley explained. ‘He’s going to bed down on the floor next to them which calmed her down’ he went on. ‘It’s really quite sweet’ he said with a smile, ‘and it worked out very well because I was getting absolutely nowhere with Plan A’ he admitted.
Angel frowned. ‘Pity because I was thinking that Plan B would make an excellent trial run if I ever needed to try out the same technique on Connor’ he joked. ‘Where is that boy anyway?’
‘He’s out with Faith and the potentials’ Cordelia answered. ‘Hanging around with all the teenage girls has turned his head’ she told Angel. ‘I’m not sure he knows what to do about the flirting and they’ve cottoned on because they’re playing with him a bit.’
‘He’ll learn fast’ Angel replied. ‘I just hope he doesn’t take any of it too seriously.’
Wesley smirked. ‘I’d not claim to be the worlds greatest expert on teenage girls, or girls generally to be honest, but I think that not all of them are necessarily “playing” at the flirtation’ he opined.
‘Yeah umm…’ Cordelia began ‘You like know
he’s not a virgin or anything, and I hope you’ve both got enough manners not to pry on my role in that further,’ she said with a grimace. ‘But if he gets involved with one of the girls properly he’ll probably be expecting… well you know, and if he doesn’t get it he might be…’
‘Cranky and pissed off’ Angel interrupted, remembering what he’d been like at the same age.
‘Oh yes’ Cordelia responded in the affirmative. ‘You might like to give him a warning if it looks like his love-life starts heading that way’ she suggested.
‘And some birth control advise wouldn’t go amiss I’d think’ Wesley observed thoughtfuly. ‘He might be embarrassed about that topic, if not completely ignorant. He was raised by a man with Eighteenth Century values and sensibilities after all, even if it wasn’t actually you’ he reminded Angel.
Angel thought about trying to talk to Connor on that subject and cringed. ‘I’d sooner face a pack of Grox’lars’ he said honestly.First Bank of Sunnydale – Sunnydale – April 2003
The bank manager extended his hand and Fred shook it politely before sitting down. Gunn was playing the heavy, he did it very well and certainly looked the part having opted for dark glasses and a slightly menacing expression, and he was stood off to Fred’s left holding a large briefcase.
‘So I hear you wish to open an account here at First Sunnydale Ms. Burkle?’ the bank manager began. ‘I’m not sure why you insisted on seeing me though?’
Fred nodded. ‘Well it’s like this Mr Savitsky’ she began. ‘We are depositing quite a large sum in cash, more than might be usual, so I thought it would be best to approach the man in charge directly rather than end up working our way up the chain’ she told him.
The bank manager smiled, he was new to the top job, having only just been promoted from the position of Loan Officer, but in his experience what other people thought was big money wasn’t what a bank did. ‘How much are we actually talking about?’ he asked.
‘An initial deposit of two million for now’ Fred replied. ‘Not a vast sum by my employers’ standards of course, but enough to warrant my personal attention as his PA’ she told him. ‘I would certainly not wish to deposit it in an institution that I hadn’t looked over myself. You know what they say, a million here, a million there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money’ she said with a charming laugh.
Savitsky swallowed, that was a tidy sum of cash even by his standards. Sunnydale was not a town that attracted big business as a rule, the high number of unexplained deaths and disappearances, plus the static property prices tended to put off investors and property speculators. ‘Well I’m sure we can accommodate all your banking needs here in Sunnydale’ he told her, trying not to sound too eager. ‘Did you say a cash deposit?’ he asked.
‘So much easier for the petty cash than arranging bankers drafts or wire transfers’ Fred told him. ‘Some might think me foolhardy of course but our private security people are top notch’ she told Savitsky , indicating Gunn who the banker noticed for the first time had a very large bulge under his jacket.
The bulge was actually a sandwich left over from lunch in an inside pocket rather than a handgun but it looked the part as much as Gunn did himself. Maybe next time he could play the businessman and Fred could be the muscle he thought to himself.
‘My staff tell me that your employer is planning on purchasing land and property in the area?’ Savitsky asked, tearing his eyes away from the bodyguard.
Fred nodded again. ‘Angel Investments is always on the lookout for real estate that seems so undervalued as it does here in Sunnydale. Mr Angel always has his eyes open for a bargain and having visited a couple of the local Realtors the opportunities for low risk, high gain development looks ideal’ she replied. ‘Our initial deposit is really just operating capital to get the ball rolling and pay expenses, but once we get into gear you’ll be very impressed with the way AI gets things done I’m sure’ she told him with a winning smile. She looked the part too, in a very well cut and classy business suit, money was very useful.
The bank manager returned the smile. ‘I can assure you that First Sunnydale will always be at hand to assist you in any way we can’ he promised. ‘I’ll handle and process the deposit personally and have the documentation ready for completion and signing post-haste.’
‘Excellent’ Fred replied. ‘I’m already more than pleased with your operation here, as I’m sure Mr Angel will be also’ she told the Bank Manager.
They both smiled. Gunn stayed in character and didn’t.Summers Residence – Sunnydale – April 2003
‘You bought the vineyard?’ Buffy asked Angel incredulously. ‘It’s a complete wreck, we already set a good chunk of it on fire’ she reminded him.
‘That’s why it was so cheap’ Angel told her. ‘It’s away from the town but not too far, it’s got underground caverns and tunnels we can use for training, Wesley wants a firing range for a start, and better than that don’t you think that The First will be monumentally
pissed when we take over its old Headquarters’ he said.
Buffy thought about that for a second. ‘That’s just petty you know that’ she told him then grinned. ‘I love it’ she declared.
‘As far as we know the place is still full of dead Bringers’ Faith pointed out. ‘And I’ll bet they’re starting to get ripe by now.’
Angel shook his head. ‘You’re forgetting what the local scavengers are like in this town’ he told her. ‘Spike let slip to some of the neighbourhood demons with a taste for dead flesh where there was the mother-load and that problems already been taken care of by a clan of ghouls.’
‘Couldn’t you have just made something up instead of telling us that?’ Dawn responded with a look of revulsion on her face. ‘Like you hired every undertaker in town no questions asked?’
‘You talked to Spike?’ Buffy asked, surprised that Angel of all people would go to him for help.
‘If you’re looking for someone that’s in with the local lowlifes start with someone at their level’ Angel replied, smirking at the other vampire.
‘It was worth it just so the big poof owed me a favour’ Spike replied. ‘Worst thing I could do to him, he’s the type that just has to pay you back and that’ll grate’ he said.
Faith sat down and put her feet up on the table for about ten seconds before Buffy knocked them back down to the floor. ‘So have we got to go clear out these ghouls instead?’ she asked, ‘because those things smell worse than dead bringers.’
Spike shook his head. ‘No need Love’ he replied. ‘I told them that the thing that offed all those Bringer gits would be back in a few days so if they knew what was best for them they’d make themselves scarce right after the all-you-can-eat buffet’ he told her. ‘Ghouls are unpleasant they ain’t completely
‘Smelly, unpleasant and stupid…I can see why you used to hang with them Spikey’ Angel commented.
Spike snorted. ‘That was predictable’ he replied. ‘You’ve lost your edge gramps, probably senility setting in, or maybe all that stuff on your hair has finally leaked through into your brains?’ he theorised.
‘At least I have
brains’ Angel retorted.
‘See there you go again, where’s the originality and passion?’ Spike asked rhetorically. ‘I’ll say this for Angelus, at least he
knew funny, you’re just a bleeding straight man looking for a comic to bounce lines off… well maybe not too
straight what with those clothes and all.’
‘Enough!’ Buffy said loudly. Angel was starting to get riled up and Spike was clearly getting warmed up on the insults. She didn’t want to have to stop them exchanging blows instead of lines, for a start she wanted the house to stay in one piece for more than a few days this time. ‘Grow up the both of you.’
‘Well he started it’ Spike pointed out. ‘And after he comes to me for help even’ he complained.
‘When I said “enough” I meant it’ Buffy declared with a tone to her voice that signified that they should keep in mind what word beginning with v came before her title “Slayer”.
The two vampires simply resorted to looking daggers at each other for the rest of their time in the same room.
‘So how’s Boy-Watcher and the Watcherettes?’ Xander asked, he been lurking around watching the two vamps bicker with enjoyment but with the show over he decided to join in the conversation. ‘I ran into them for a couple of minutes over at Angels place dropping off some things for the potentials and they looked kinda out of it’ he said.
Angel shrugged. ‘Between the jet lag and everything else they’re mainly sleeping and eating at the moment’ he replied. ‘Give them a few days and we’ll have a better idea’ he told everyone. ‘Cordy is keeping a special eye on the little girls and the potentials are fussing over them.’
‘Well they are
cute’ Faith commented. She was staying over at the mansion with half the girls so she had had a few dealings with the Academy refugees since they had arrived barely a day and a half before. ‘Well they are’ she said in response to everyone looking at her. ‘I know they’re only a few years younger than some of the rookies but they’re like so small and …’
‘Cute?’ Buffy asked.
‘Well yeah’ Faith told her. ‘You just want to look after them’ she said.
‘Maternal instinct?’ Xander asked, tongue in cheek. ‘Making you want little Faiths of your own?’ he asked.
‘Bite me Harris’ Faith snapped back.
‘That’s more their thing’ Xander told her with a sweep of his hand towards Angel and Spike. ‘For me it’s more biting comments than actual teeth.’
Faith held up a fist. ‘I’d be more careful about the teeth if I was you’ she threatened semi-seriously.
‘So I heard you had Illyria as a substitute teacher earlier today, how’d that go?’ Xander asked Dawn, changing the subject swiftly.
Dawn sighed. ‘Not much to tell’ she replied. ‘Mrs Jacob went off sick so the Principal got Illyria to stand in teaching math. She was actually pretty good at it’ she told them.
‘The math or the teaching?’ Buffy queried.
‘Both’ Dawn replied. ‘It weirded me out, I kept expecting her skin to change colour and the dominatrix leather outfit to appear but she was well… normal. I mean except for the Blue hair which a lot of the kids think is cool by the way’ she said.
‘So she’s the “cool” teacher?’ Buffy asked.
‘Not to me she’s not’ Dawn replied bitterly. ‘She set me extra homework because she asked a question and I got the answer wrong’ she told her sister.
‘She’s not really a teacher you know’ Xander pointed out. ‘She’s a demon pretending to be a TA.’
‘A Demon TA that currently lives in my house and could rip my spine out, or worse keep me behind after school’ Dawn replied. ‘That reminds me, I’ve still got to do that lousy homework’ she said and got up to head to her room. At least things got quiet at night, the potentials were off patrolling with Blue herself, and some of Angel's people, so she had her room to herself for once.
‘Now that’s how to motivate youngsters today’ Xander said. ‘Give them the choice of betterment and education or dismemberment and evisceration.’
‘It would have kept me in high school’ Faith agreed.