The Big Bad...Ghost?
Dresden Files – not mine. Angel the Series – not mine. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – not mine.New City, Same Enemy
Chapter 23: The Big Bad...Ghost?Wesley's Office, Oracle Securities
7:59 pm, May 26th, 2003
Wesley sat down at his desk gingerly, wincing a little at the motion it took to pull something so simple off. He grimaced, then chuckled darkly, imagining what a sight he looked – like a man half torn to shreds, perhaps. He wasn't completely covered in bandages, but pretty much every other five square inch patch of skin or so, give or take, was bandaged up, his broken arm in a cast. Doing everything one-handed was not, as he learned quickly, anything resembling an easy task, but then, he'd hardly expected it to be easy.
Not one of the survivors of the team he'd taken down into Undertown had escaped without being in some variation of the state Wesley was in. Except for Faith. Faith had gotten it far worth. She'd only been about halfway through thrashing Baron Zaragoza to within an inch of his life when the adrenaline that had been all she'd been running on at that point had finally run out. The mercenaries had filled the late nobleman with lead to finish him off, then they'd dragged the body out into the sunlight for good measure. More out of spite than thinking it was necessary. Mark had carried Faith to one of the private doctors he kept on retainer, in this case part of the medical team for Oracle Securities. She wasn't in any danger of dying, but she was also going to need, even with Slayer Healing, several days to recover fully.
One-handed, Wesley flipped open Faith's cell phone and searched through the contacts. Selecting one, he pressed 'dial' and held it up to his ear. Several rings later, the unmistakable voice of Buffy Summers came through.
“No, actually.” Wesley said. “She's indisposed at the moment.”
“Wesley?!” The surprise in the Slayer's voice was obvious, and expected. “What are you doing with Faith's phone?”
“I hardly knew your number offhand, and I figured she'd have it programmed in her contacts.”
“So I take it Faith arrived and gave her apology, then?” Buffy asked the obvious.
“Obviously.” Wesley was in no mood to humor the Slayer on that front. “Needless to say I didn't accept the apology. But, since she was here in town at a rather opportune time, I did ask her to join me in a spot of vampire slaying.”
“A spot of vampire slaying?” Wesley could hear the raised eyebrow in her voice. “From your tone, I'm guessing it wasn't just a few.”
“More like eighty, give or take.” Wesley said. Admittedly, he hadn't counted. “I was already prepared to go in with others of my organization, but having a Slayer along made the whole process significantly easier, as you might expect.”
“Your organization?” Now the eyes narrowed, in her voice.
“I work under the auspices of Baron Marcone, Freeholding Lord of the Unseelie Accords.”
“That doesn't really answer the question. Could you translate that into non-Watcherese?”
“Too much to go into over the phone, really.” Wesley answered. “Ask Mr. Giles to explain it to you. For that matter, he should probably actually take the time to tell you and Miss Rosenberg about The White Council, and the Wardens, now that you've moved beyond the Sunnydale Hellmouth. I take it you're setting up shop on the Cleveland Hellmouth?”
“That's the plan. At least, setting up the headquarters of the 'New Watchers Council' we're setting up, anyway. Giles flew back to England from L.A. to sort out the Council's money.” She changed the subject. “So let's get back to the whole 'you using Faith's cell phone' thing.”
“Faith is currently unconscious and recovering from the fight. She nearly got herself torn to shreds. Which is, incidentally, why I called. Moving her at this juncture would be...ill-advised, so I thought you deserved a heads-up that she wouldn't be arriving Cleveland for a while. A few days, at least, a week on the outside.”
“Nearly torn to shreds? What did you have her do?” Buffy demanded.
“She decided to cartwheel right into the center of thirty Red Court Vampires, and suffered the logical consequences of being completely and utterly surrounded.” He sighed. “That said, her actions probably saved the lives of myself and those of my team who did manage to make it out alive as well. She's being treated by the best in the way of medical care money can buy.”
“Yes, I so trust her in your hands, Wesley.” Buffy spat.
“And what is the other option? Moving her over to Cleveland? In her condition? Oh, it probably wouldn't be good for her, but it wouldn't exactly advance her prospects of recovery. And I don't really think you can just take a trip off the Hellmouth now that you're getting things set up there. She'll be fully recovered and back in Cleveland soon enough.” There was no rule saying he had to be the one to stay on topic either, he considered. “Faith told me that Angel and company helped you out in preventing another regularly scheduled apocalypse. Are they with you in Cleveland?”
“No....” Buffy replied, thrown a bit by the sudden topic change. “When we left Sunnydale, everyone headed to L.A. That's where Giles flew off to England, and we left Angel and his people.”
“I see. Well, as I said, you can expect to see Faith within a week or so, at the outside.” Without waiting for a reply, he hung up and turned the cell phone off. He had no interest in hearing more from Buffy on any subject. He put the phone down and made a mental note to have it taken down to Faith later.
“So its just Diocletian now.” He thought aloud. Unfortunately...I can't think of a way to easily dispatch him. At the end of the day, a warlock of his caliber is really the responsibility of Dresden. His area of expertise, anyway.
He sighed and leaned back in his chair, wincing yet again.
Wesley's Office, Oracle Securities
10:15 am, June 1st, 2003
“As you can tell, Mr. Marcone, the defeat of the Red Court has significantly stabilized things here in Chicago. Wolfram and Hart has, unfortunately, contributed to that stabilization as well, apparently no happier about the steady stream of bounty-hunters that Diocletian called in than anyone else is.”
“And yet Diocletian remains at large.” Marcone said over the phone.
“Its a big city.” Wesley replied, unapologetic. “And perhaps more importantly, taking on someone like Diocletian is not really within our capacity. Wolfram and Hart brought him in to handle Dresden, and it will have to be Dresden that does the real work in taking him down. We're going to provide what support we can to any attempt to bring Diocletian down, once found, but until then, there's little we can do. Our hands are tied.”
“Understandable, perhaps. But I don't like it.” He paused, “What about the rebuilding of the Watchers Council. Will that pose any problems?”
“I can't imagine it would pose any direct problems. They're not signatories of the Accords, and knowing Buffy Summers, both personally and by reputation, I doubt she'd have any patience for something so deliberately obtuse and confusing. And Rupert Giles is, despite his radicalism, too steeped in Council tradition to consider it either. Indeed, the creation of a new, more active Watchers Council and the myriad of Slayers activated during the Fall of Sunnydale can only help the fight against demons and vampires worldwide. Indeed, since this New Council will almost certainly not be able to find every Slayer, and get every Slayer to join with them, I believe your overarching organization and Oracle Securities in particular, with a bit of legwork, might be able to hire some on, for...whatever purposes you require.”
Wesley paused for a moment, wishing he could switch the phone to his other ear. He cursed his broken arm, and continued: “The only possible downside I see is that some portion of the present residents of the Cleveland Hellmouth might decide to leave for greener pastures, given the sudden insertion of multiple Slayers into the area. And some of those might decide Chicago is one of those greener pastures. We can handle it, however.”
“Alright. And your current funds? Are they sufficient?”
“They are at present.” Wesley confirmed. “The Legal Department's portion of the recent Class-Action Lawsuit settlement against that client of Wolfram and Hart has helped significantly. Not quite as helpful as if we'd been able to force a trial, but the hit was significant. And it helped our bottom line noticeably.”
“Good. Anything else?”
“Nothing I can think of, Mr. Marcone.” Wesley replied
“Alright. Goodbye.” Marcone hung up.Lilah's Office, Wolfram and Hart
10:37 am, June 1st, 2003
“Our spy satellite has picked up what Lindsey retrieved from the ruins of Sunnydale.” Denna said, putting several photos on Lilah's desk. “Its definitely the amulet.”
Lilah picked up the photographs and looked through them, though she didn't need to confirm Denna's words that way. What possible use could the Amulet serve to Wesley and Oracle Securities?
The Amulet had already served its purpose, destroying the First's army of Turok-Han and collapsing the Sunnydale Hellmouth.
“Might he be interested in doing to Cleveland what was done to Sunnydale?” Denna vocalized Lilah's next thought.
The Head of Wolfram and Hart Chicago considered that for a few minutes, then shook her head. “No. I don't think that's it. I mean, the only other souled vampire around is Angel, and Wesley doesn't want to be anywhere close to his old friend any time soon. Besides, for it to all work out, he'd have to get Buffy to work with him as well, and I can't see her wanting Angel to go the way of Spike either.”
“But Angel would jump at the chance to sacrifice his life like that, all heroic.” Denna noted.
Lilah chuckled at that. “All too true. While we're on the subject of Buffy and Cleveland...see if you can arrange a talk between myself and the head of the Cleveland branch via the White Room. The strategic situation has completely changed, with an army of Slayers sitting right in what was our backyard.”
“I'll make some calls.” Denna promised, writing something down on a notepad.
Lilah pressed a button with her phone. “Get me Files and Records.” She ordered.
“Yes Miss Morgan.” Came the reply. A minute later:
“Files and Records, how may I help you?”
“Send up everything you have on the Amulet the L.A. Branch gave to Angel and was used at Sunnydale to collapse the Hellmouth.”
“Understood.” Came the reply. Lilah pressed another button on her phone and the call ended. She looked up at Denna. “Lindsey will be arriving in Chicago, today. Put a tail on him. He'll probably only go to Oracle Securities and his apartment, but let's make sure.”
Denna nodded, “Alright.” Taking that for the dismissal that it was, she left Lilah's office.
“What are you up to, Wesley?” Lilah thought aloudWesley's Office, Oracle Securities
3:58 pm, June 1st, 2003
“Got it.” Lindsey said as he walked into Wesley's office. By way of explanation, he tossed a gaudy-looking amulet on a gold chain towards his boss. Wesley caught it reflexively, then looked at it. “Looks like something a pimp would wear, doesn't it?” Lindsey asked.
“Something like that.” Wesley agreed. “So how do we get Spike into his ghost format – you know, out of the amulet itself?”
“Just drop it on the ground. Probably want to maintain a bit of distance between yourself and it, though.” Lindsey cocked his head. “So why are you so interested in getting Spike anyway?”
“Because someone else probably would, eventually, if I didn't. And I would prefer that he didn't find his way back into the hands of Buffy and her friends. From what I gather, she slept with him quite a bit, before and after he got a soul. I really don't think there should be encouragement of a vampire and Slayer getting it on together, even if the vampire in question was souled or otherwise harmless. Besides that, he might be useful. The trick is just to make sure he never becomes solid again.”
“So...wait...you're going to enslave him? Keep him on the short leash of the amulet and use him whenever we need a pet ghost-vampire with a soul to do something for us?”
“Pretty much.” Wesley admitted. Good thing Faith healed faster than I expected and left yesterday. He added mentally. I expect Buffy would take it rather...badly, if she found out we had her latest vampire fuck toy in our possession.
“Are we supposed to be the good
guys? Or at least the vaguely morally light gray? Pretty sure what you're suggesting crosses the line from light gray to at the very least dark gray, if not all black.”
“Does the idea of using Spike to further our ends bother you?”
Lindsey shrugged. “To be perfectly honest, not really.” He chuckled darkly. “And that is what bothers me. I'm not a White Hat, but I'd like to think I'm something approaching 'good guy' status. Headed in the right direction anyway.”
“Being bothered about being bothered – or not being bothered – is perhaps the most useless activity known to man kind.” Wesley pointed out.
“True.” Lindsey agreed. “Alright. Well, let's see what we shall see.” Lindsey nodded to the Amulet in Wesley's hand. Wesley nodded and stood up, walking to the other side of his desk. He gestured for Lindsey to back up a bit, and the lawyer complied. Wesley stepped back a bit as well and carefully tossed the amulet to the ground between them.
A loud whirling sound, like that of a tornado, assaulted their ears, as what looked a great deal like a small tornado started to form, black, like ash. It swirled around and around for several seconds, forming into a large, man-sized cloud above the Amulet. Beneath it, the amulet glowed brightly, colorlessly. But the swirling tornado only lasted for bare seconds. Soon enough, a burn skeleton, bones charred, connecting themselves together like some grisly jigsaw puzzle.
Soon enough, though, the skeleton was complete. Flesh, as burnt as the bow, started to grow, as if some kind of aggressive mold, the center growing brighter, pinker, as if they were watching death by immolation in reverse. It was just under a minute from when it had all started that standing before them both, wearing a black trench-coat, blonde hair slicked back, was Spike. William the Bloody, one of the most deadly vampires in history.
And was screaming. Not high pitched, but definitely a scream, a scream of rather intense pain, by the sound of it. But soon, that too ended, and Spike was hunched forward a bit, gasping heavily. It took the vampire-ghost a few moments to realize something was very wrong.
“What the bloody happened to me?” He demanded. “Where the bloody hell am I? And who the bloody hell
are you two!?” In frustration, Spike kicked at the desk – and watched his foot pass through the solid wood as if it was so much air.
“In order:” Wesley began, “You used that amulet there,” he nodded to it, lying innocuously on the ground, “to destroy the First Evil's Turok-Han army and collapse the Sunnydale Hellmouth. Of course, to do so, you had to channel the power of the Sun through yourself, which, understandably, was lethal to you. It destroyed your physical body, and absorbed your essence into the Amulet. You've now been released from the amulet, but since your corporeal form was destroyed, you are, in essence, a ghost. As for where you are, you're in Chicago, specifically, my office in the Oracle Securities headquarters building. I am Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, CEO of Oracle Securities, and this is Lindsey McDonald, head of our legal division.” He nodded towards Lindsey.
“Wesley? The poncy git of a Watcher that made Peaches look straight?” Wesley frowned a little – just a little – at that, while Lindsey cracked a smile, then chuckled softly.
“You've heard about me?”
“Giles mentioned you once.” Spike replied, then, “I'm a sodding ghost
? What the bleeding hell!” He kicked at the desk again, to no avail. Growling angrily, he adopted his true face and lunged at the desk, as if that would be enough. Instead he was just left standing inside it.
“Wesley, I need to talk to-” Abigail said, opening the door. Then she saw Spike, wearing his true face. Instinctively, she pulled a stake from her belt and propelled it into Spike's heart, her accuracy dead on...but the stake passed right through and embedded itself an inch into the wall. Abigail looked from the uninjured vampire, to Wesley, to the uninjured vampire, back to Wesley.
“Oi! What the sodding hell do you think you're doing? Are you bleeding daft? You could have killed-” Then he looked down at the desk he was standing in, and his voice trailed off. Clearly he wasn't used to his new status.
“Wesley? What is a Black Court vampire doing standing in
your desk? And how did my stake pass right through him?” As if to punctuate her words, the stake fell out of the wall and clattered to the floor.
“Abigail, meet William the Bloody, also known as Spike. One of the most viscous Black Court vampires in history. Spike, meet Abigail St. Pierre, resident kinetomancer and Head of the Oracle Securities Magical division.” Wesley turned back to Abigail. “He's a ghost, at the moment, but before he became a ghost, he had recently acquired a soul.”
“So he's like that one vampire you mentioned to me...Angel? Except...intangible?”
“Oi!” Spike said again. “I am nothing
like that poof!”
“Essentially, yes, he's like Angel.” Wesley said, ignoring Spike's objections.
“So why is he here?”
“Because he might be useful.” Wesley replied. “Despite the fact that I don't know any way to reverse his intangibility.”
“Wait- what!?” Spike demanded. “Bloody hell! I save the whole world by burning myself to a crisp, then get stuck in an amulet and turned into a ghost instead of enjoying my afterlife in peace! And now I'm stuck like this. No, I don't believe that. You're a Watcher. Do what watchers do. Research!”
“I was unaware that I took orders from you.”
“Oh sod it!” Spike threw his hands up a moment. “Like you'd know how. Hell, even as a ghost I don't have to stay here.” He headed for the wall. Wesley heard him mutter 'Red'll know how to fix this mess.” He walked out through the wall.
Wesley chuckled. The amulet would bring him back soon enough.