FIC: Hellmouth Heroes (28/?)
“Why did you rescue me?”
Warren glanced at his companion as they entered his safe house. Those were the first words either of them had spoken since the blood-drenched escape. “I remember you went as The Taskmaster at Halloween didn’t you? We were partners escorting those damn brats. Did you keep Taskmaster’s power of photographic reflexes?”
After a second Tucker nodded. “Yeah, but I never worked out how to use it.”
”Don’t worry,” Warren grinned, “I got that covered and then that Faith and her gang of cronies are going to go down.”
“The two of us can’t take up Faith’s group on our own,” commented Tucker.
“I know,” Warren nodded then grinned. “But I’ve got a few ideas about that, it’ll take some time though. And until that there’s plenty you can do.”
After a second Tucker returned his grin. “Like what?”
“Follow me,” Warren led Tucker into a room filled with shelf upon shelf of DVDs. “They’re all here, boxing with Willie Pep, Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, and all the greats. Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling from the last six Olympics as well as the gymnastics from the same period. The last decade’s world championships in Kendo, Eskrima, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Jeet Kune Do, Sumo, Muay Thai, Aikido, Wing Chun, and Shaolin Karate. There’s every UFC championship since the first. Instructional videos for lots of other skills too. Just watch them, learn them, and when we’re ready we’ll take them down.”
* * *
“Hello sir,” Teeth nodded as he walked into the boss’ office. He placed the glossy 8 * 10s on his boss’ desk. “There’s the photos, sir.”
”Good work, good work,” his boss grinned suddenly. “This the golden goose, it’s gonna make us a fortune. Squeeze him like he was a spice smuggler on Tatooine!”
Teeth stared blankly at his superior. “Tell him twenty k a month to keep these out of the hands of his company’s directors.”
“I’ll get right on it, sir.”
* * *
Louise looked up as a chubby, short man with a potato-shaped face and a mop of unruly brown hair crept into the shop, his nervous disposition suggesting he half-expected to be thrown out of the establishment at any moment. Louise smiled welcomingly. “Hello sir, how may I help you?”
The man flushed then looked down. “I…I was given to understand by my people that Rupert Giles worked here. I have um, business with him.”
“Oh,” Louise’s brow furrowed as she nodded and looked over her shoulder into the storage room, “Mr. -, Rupert,” she corrected herself, “it’s someone for you.”
“Ah,” the bespectacled Englishman came out of the back room, “thank you, Louise.” The Englishman smiled at her before directing his gaze towards the stranger. “And you are?”
“David Nabbit,” the man said his name like it should mean something, but the Watcher just stared blankly at him, “of Nabbit Industries.”
“Ah,” Giles nodded, “I’m not one for the business pages, but I have heard of you, Mr. Nabbit. I’m a little surprised to see you here though.”
“I..I,” the man shot her an embarrassed look before looking back at Louise’s boss, “need your help on a matter of some delicacy.”
“Ah,” Giles chuckled. “I’m well known for my internet expertise.” Now it was the businessman’s turn to stare blankly at the Oxford graduate. “Perhaps we can go into the storeroom and talk.”
* * *
The moment he’d turned on the light and closed the door, Giles turned to the shorter man. “I’m at a loss to what possible assistance I can be to a software genius, I’m just a humble bookseller,” he smiled self-consciously, “a Luddite one if truth be told.”
The billionaire smiled nervously. “I…it’s not your book shop I’m interested in.”
“Oh?” Giles kept a poker face as he read the surface of his guest’s mind. Sensing no hostile intent, he contented himself with waiting until the genius was ready to speak.
“I…I h..have people who work for me. V…very astute people.” The geek’s Adam’s Apple bounced in his throat. “They made me aware of what this city is and what it's built on, and what you do here.”
“Oh?” Giles kept his voice calm even as he stiffened inwardly.
“I’m in trouble and I need the help of someone with your expertise,” Nabbit explained.
”We’re not for hire I’m afraid-.” His voice trailed off when the shorter man passed him a piece of paper. “W…what’s this?”
“A cheque for $100,000, I’ll give you another cheque for the same amount once this mess is sorted out,” Nabbit explained.
”On the other hand,” Giles smiled. Vigilant Holdings could never have enough cash. “Please continue.”
* * *
Faith shook her head, her gaze determinedly away from her ex and the bitch, and fixed on the G-Man. “Let me get this straight, this D&D weirdo decides to get his jollies at a demon brothel, gets blackmailed, and this is our problem, why?”
Giles coughed, his cheeks reddening. “Well firstly because Mr. Nabbit gave us a rather large amount of cash to make it our problem. But secondly, I’d suggest that letting hostile or even criminally-orientated demons get a toehold in our town is just asking for future trouble.”
“’Kay,” Faith conceded the point with a nod, “so what’s the plan?”
”Ah,” the Watcher’s colour deepened, “I suggest we go at it from two directions. One group should go to Willy’s to investigate just who owns the brothel, and the other should go to the brothel itself and see who’s behind this blackmail. Oz,” the Englishman glanced towards him, “I’m given to understand the Madam is human, I want you to sense her lies, and I’ll attend to Willy.”
“Attend to Willy?” Faith snorted. “And there was me thinkin’ Oz was the one goin’ to the brothel.”
“Yes,” Giles sniffed. “Very amusing. I’ll take Robin, Gunn, and Cordelia with me to Willy’s. Faith, you go with Xander, Wesley, and Oz. Oh,” Giles stuffed his hand in his pocket and pulled out an envelope, “you’ll need these.”
“What’s in here?” Wesley muttered as he opened the envelope and blushed. “Oh. I see.”
”Yeah?” Before Wes could react Faith was peering over his shoulder at the photos. “Done that one, done that one, that too, not tryin’ that, oh those two are new on me, have to remember them.”
“Yes, well,” Wesley sniffed as he shoved the envelope into his pocket, cheeks crimsoning even deeper. “Perhaps we should set off for the brothel.”
“Five by five,” Faith agreed with a nod.
* * *
Willy groaned as the door crashed open and the Watcher strode in, a typically forbidding expression on his face. A hush fell over his previously raucous bar as the black Watcher, the black demon hunter, and the cheerleader babe followed the limey in, their hard gazes sweeping over his clientele of humans, vampires, and demons.
God, he hoped there wasn’t going to be a massacre, they were the shits for business.
“Relax everyone,” the Englishman’s bleak voice sliced through the bar’s tense atmosphere, “I’m just here to visit with my good friend, William.”
Willy groaned. So his bar didn’t get wrecked, just him. The patrons parted like the Red Sea before Moses, probably a simile they wouldn’t appreciate, as the Watcher strode over to him. “Hello William,” the middle-aged man’s smile was shark-like, “I’d like some information.”
”I don’t know nothing!” he blurted out as he wiped nervously at the bar counter.
“I haven’t even asked you anything yet.” Willy got the distinct idea the Brit was enjoying toying with him.
”Don’t matter.” Willy began pointing at the Watcher but then thought better of it, his hand dropping meekly back to the counter. “I don’t know nothing see!”
“Ah really,” the Watcher nodded sagely. “Given your apparent astuteness I could almost believe that, except you have this rather seedy establishment,” the Watcher paused, looked around, and returned his gaze to Willy with a disdainful sniff, “and I suspect you’ll pay protection to this town’s demonic criminal mastermind. Who is that anyway?”
Willy’s eyes bulged as he shook his head. “Oh no, I don’t know nothing see!”
”Yes, I think we’ve established that,” Giles chuckled, “but it appears you aren’t telling me everything?” The Englishman glared at him. “I want names.” Willy reared back in horror as he felt something in his head. “Ah, you don’t know the boss, but you do know his representative, that’ll do, thank you. And what businesses does this mystery man run?”
* * *
Faith casually grabbed a hold of the suited bouncer stood outside the brothel’s door and flipped him into the road before sauntering into the well-lit club. “Eyes front and centre boys,” she drawled as she glanced around the plushly furnished lobby with scantily-clad female demons sprawled on the yellow sofas, harp music playing in the background, and gold-framed scenery paintings hanging on the walls, a gleaming chandelier dangling from the ceiling.
A door opened at the back of the lobby, and an older but classy-looking woman in a business suit, her high heels clicking on the floor. “I’m sorry, but we can’t have human girls in here, we cater to an exclusive fetish in here.”
“Shut it,” Faith warned her sniggering companions before glaring at the madam. “I ain’t a workin’ girl, but one of your girls is tryin’ to run a blackmail scheme. We wanna know who she’s runnin’ it for.”
The woman smiled. “I’m afraid I run a discreet business here.”
”I’m the Slayer,” Faith smirked when the woman’s icy visage cracked, “and I wasn’t askin’, I was tellin’. Wes, the photos.”
The madam looked at the photographs Faith’s Watcher passed her. “That’s Seduci,” the woman said.
”We don’t want the gal,” Faith replied, her tone as hard as stone. “We want the blackmailer.”
”No,” the madam’s eyes grew saucer-sized, “I’m not crossing them.”
Faith somersaulted into the air, her double kick tearing the chandelier from the ceiling. Upon landing she grinned at the madam. “Like I said Slayer. And I wasn’t askin’, I was tellin’. How long do you think it would take to wreck this place?”
The madam gulped. “I’ll talk.”
Faith smirked. “Figured you would.”
* * *
Giles waited until Faith had finished her report before looking around the room. “So we know the name of the individual who is running the blackmail operation and the other scams they’re running through Sunnydale. Does anyone have any idea how to proceed?”
Unsurprisingly it was Xander who first spoke. “We know that Teeth,” Xander shook his head at the ridiculously named demon, really who thought them up, before continuing, “sets off on his patrol of the demon businesses he extorts money from, at eight o’clock tonight every week. I’d suggest we have some of our trackers follow Teeth. Then at eight-fifteen, we’ll attack this gang –leader’s bases. When Teeth hears of their destruction, he’ll hurry back to mystery man to report. Once we know of his location, we surround and attack.”
“Simplicity itself,” Giles approved with a smile and a nod. “Who do you suggest for the tracking job?”
Xander started, almost as if once again the youth found himself surprised to be the centre of attention, the one every one was listening to. “Um, Freddy and Oz are probably the best equipped,” Xander eventually replied.
”I agree,” he nodded. Giles looked around the room before continuing. “Xander, you take Faith and Jo-,” he quickly changed what he’d been about to say, “Willow to the chop shop they run for murder victims’ cars, I’ll take Jenny, Amy, Jonathan, and Tara to the underground casino, Wesley, I want you to take Heidi and Cordelia to that rather nasty black arts and curios shop, and wreck it, and Wood, Gunn, and Alonna I want you to take out the fence they run for murder victims’ items.”
“Oh yeah,” Gunn crawled, “that’ll get their attention.”
“I just hope this ain’t some serious bad-ass,” Faith half-grinned. “Hell who am I kiddin’, I could do with a serious brawl.”
* * *
“Giles,” Oz whispered into his mouthpiece as he peered down the darkness-shrouded street, their target strolling casually down the street, a trio of square-shouldered vampires following a respectful distance behind, “the target’s in sight, he’s got a trio of vamps behind, so we’re going to have tread carefully. Out.”
* * *
“Roger that,” Giles nodded before sending out a mental message to all his team leaders, warning them to ready themselves to attack. Giles stared at his watch face, watching the clock hands rotate around. Finally he glanced over his shoulder to the others seated in the back of the car. “It’s time. Come on.”
Giles noted the two suited guards flanking the casino’s double doors. “Amy, Tara, could you-.” He nodded as the two vampires exploded into dust. “Thank you, girls.”
Giles walked into the casino and looked around. Fluorescent lights gleamed down from the ceiling, bathing the entire floor in half a dozen bright colours. Three rows of about dozen jingling slot machines were on the floor just in front of them, flanked by a pair of gracefully arching waterfalls. Beyond the slot machines were the gaming tables – roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker, and craps, milling crowds surrounding each of them. A hush gradually fell over the casino as the demon clientele gradually registered the humans interloping into their domain.
Once silence had fallen completely, Giles spoke. “Wreck the place.”
* * *
Dante smirked as he looked around his garage. There was all manner of cars parked in the garage, vehicles he’d bought from their owners’ murderers, all ready to be moved on to dealers throughout the state once their number plates and chassis numbers had been changed, and new documentation forged. A very profitable business indeed.
His eyes widened when a leather clad babe strutted into the darkened chamber, her hips swinging as her dark eyes scanned his cars. “Some nice wheels,” the beauty husked. “Shame they have to go.”
Dante looked at his engineers. “You three, get her!”
The girl threw her head back and laughed, full mane swinging as she shook her head. “Not on your best day,” the girl reached into her jacket’s pockets and pulled out a pair of globes. “Meet my friends, Willy and P.” Dante’s eyes widened as the girl threw what he belatedly realised to be grenades at him.
And then his world turned to fire.
* * *
“You want a curse book?” Smergo beamed. “Well you have come to the right pla-.”
He gasped, dropping to the ground when the shop’s door flew into the shop, crashing and splintering against the far wall. His eyes widened as an immaculately, statuesque brunette walked in and smiled. “Guess who’s closed for business?”
* * *
“Okay,” Arma peered at the Rolex and then at the burly vampire who’d brought it to him, together with a bunch of earrings, a ruby necklace, and a gold signet ring. “Decent quality, but not exactly fashionable, I’ll give you seven hundred for the lot.”
“Fuck that!” The vampire, a hefty guy with deep-set brown eyes and a tinged with grey goatee slammed the counter, making the goods on it jump. “You ain’t screwing with me, I know you could get two K for this stuff! It’s worth twice that!”
Arma smiled at the demon, secure in the knowledge that despite the vampire’s bluster, he’d be too scared of the ‘boss’ to start anything. “Seven hundred, that’s my final and only offer.”
The demon snarled before sticking out a palm. “I want my money, and I want it now!”
“Of course,” Arma allowed himself a satisfied smirk as he counted out fourteen crumpled fifty dollar notes. “Pleasure doing business.”
The vampire grunted something inaudible before spinning on his heel and striding out, slamming the door behind him. Arma chuckled at the monster’s impotent rage before turning around and glancing at his stuffed to capacity ship. There was everything you could want, a regular Aladdin’s Cave of TVs, video and DVD players, laptops, computers, radios, watches, and jewellery, anything and everything that could be easily carried. He only took a 25% cut, still he was rolling in cash.
Hearing the tell-tale jingle of his front door, he turned to greet either his next customer or next supplier. And then dived to the ground as lightning exploded, hitting every electrical appliance, sparks flying off them. He gasped as he looked over the desk to see a broad-shouldered black man stood in his shop’s doorway, a slight black girl with brown ringlets beside him. “Just in case you were wondering,” drawled the black man. “You’re out of business.”
* * *
“Teeth’s just taken a phone call,” Freddy whispered into his mouth-piece, “he looks frightened. He’s changed direction, heading back the way he came.”
“Okay,” Oz replied in another whisper before opening his call up to the others, “Teeth’s taken the bait, speak to you when we when we reach the destination.”
The oblivious demon led his three body-guards through Sunnydale’s darkened streets and to a three-storied house with tinted windows and two guards stood outside on its roofed porch. The five vamps mingled together outside while Teeth hurried into the building. “I think he’s reached the base.”
* * *
“It’s a long path,” Wesley commented, “and there’s five vampires. When you consider they see well in the darkness, they won’t fail to see us coming.”
”Me, Cordy, and Alonna can run the oh gosh our car’s broken down, please help scam,” Faith suggested.
“Ah, the classics,” Xander ruminated.
”Hardly original, but it works,” Giles nodded. “Please, get to it.”
Seconds later, Faith, Alonna, and Cordy were striding up the paving-stoned path. “Excuse me?” Faith forced an uncertain note into her voice. “Hey guys, our car’s just like broken down on us. We’d be real grateful for some help.”
The ‘men’ laughed amongst themselves before their apparent leader nodded and started down the porch flaked-painted steps “Real grateful,” he laughed again, beady eyes eating them up, “there’s an offer we can’t refuse.”
Faith raised her eyebrow. Alonna responded with a gust of wind that lifted the surprised vampires from their feet and flung them to the ground like downed skittles. Before any of the vamps could move her and Cordy were on them, quickly staking the demons. “Ya know,” Faith coughed up some of the dust before continuing. “It’s gettin’ so vamps aren’t even a problem any more.”
”Yes,” Wesley sniffed as he hurried up the path, “let’s not get complacent shall we?”
“You fool!” Faith heard a squeaky voice as she crept through the dusty corridor. “Don’t you realise what you’ve done? They’ll follow you here!”
“No sir,” the monster’s deeper voice sounded uneasy, “they couldn’t have gotten past our guards-.”
“Could have fooled me!” Faith’s kick sent the door splintering open. Teeth started to spin to face her only to fall to the ground with her knife stuck between his eyes. Her eyes widened as the ‘criminal mastermind’ rose and raced around the table to confront her. “Now that I wasn’t expecting,” she murmured as she took in the short, weedy boy who was perhaps several years younger than them with delicate features.
“Perhaps he was possessed by one of the Marvel’s universe criminal masterminds,” Giles suggested in a mutter. “Perhaps he was the Owl, Hammerhead, or even the Kingpin!”
Faith looked towards the older of her two Watchers and shook her head in disbelief, the Englishman was turnin’ into a comic book geek. “You scare me.”
“I am Moriarty to your Holmes!” the half-pint defiantly squeaked. “I am Darth Vader to your Luke Skywalker. I am Andrew Wells, this town’s Lex -.”
”Whatever.” Faith hit the midget crook with a straight right that lifted him from his feet, and flung him over the desk and into the far wall. Faith glanced around her friends. “I think we’re done here, gang.”
* * *
”You battle vampires and demons, that is so cool!” Nabbit muttered as he wrote out the second cheque.
“No, not really,” Giles replied. “Rather terrifying at times.” Although today’s mission had been rather tame compared to some of the threats they’d run up against. “Now, about that that tax advice?”
* * *
Tears streaked down Faith’s face as her fists slammed repeatedly into the rocking heavy bag. Suddenly her workout-gloved hands were around the canvas bag, her knee swinging up to dent the bag again and again.
“I was just gonna,” Faith stiffened at Xander’s voice behind her. “Oh,” she sensed rather than heard Xander’s nervous foot shuffle. “Sorry, I didn’t-, are you alright?”
”Five by five,” Faith lied, sweat-matted locks falling over her tear-stained face.
“Faith,” she tensed as Xander placed a hand on her shoulder, “if you want to talk?”
Suddenly she was spinning to face her best friend. “What’s to talk ‘bout!” she snapped, the old defences shooting up. “I figured he cared, big mistake, right!”
“Hey,” Xander ignored her anger to pull her into a hug, “it’s Jonathan’s big mistake, not yours. He should be on his knees, thanking god that he ended up with such a beautiful, funny, and gutsy girl.”
She tried to pull away, but Xander held onto her shoulders. “Look I’ll be cool, I don’t need,” her voice trailed off.
“It’s okay to be hurt, to feel bad you know,” Xander soothed.
Faith forced a smile as she looked up at her bud. “Thanks, Xan.”
“No thanks needed,” Xander brushed her hair off her face, “just calling them the way I see ‘em.”
“Thanks,” Faith put her arms around her friend’s shoulders, luxuriating in his embrace. And then she was pullin’ him down into a long kiss, her tongue delving deep into his mouth.
For a moment Xander pressed back, his hands travelling down her shoulders to grip her waist even as his tongue entered her mouth. “No, no,” she moaned deep in her throat when Xander pulled away, his cheeks flushing, “this is wrong. I have a girl-friend.”
“Yeah,” Faith nodded even as she felt even more alone than she’d felt. Not that she blamed Harris, Alonna was her friend and she wouldn’t want Alonna to feel as betrayed and shitty as she did right now. “I understand.” She cast her gaze downwards.
“I’ll have to talk to her, explain that I want out, things would be wrong otherwise.” Xander coloured. “We can’t do anything until I’ve talked to her.” Xander chuckled nervously. “Think you can keep your hands off the Xan-Man until then?”
Faith half-smiled as she looked up, her heart lightening. “Oh but you’re such a stud, it’ll be a struggle, but I’ll manage.”