John Winchester never saw the black-clad mercenary who cracked him over the head with a lead weighted slapjack. He was unconscious before he hit the ground.
Bobby, Ellen and Rufus were immediately on alert, back-to-back and ready to fight. They were surrounded. There were six assailants for the three of them. They were all heavily muscled, large men dressed for three things - invisibility, anonymity and war. They looked exactly like the soldiers they had once been. They attacked the hunters as one organism, raining blows on the three smaller, older people. For the first few seconds, all the hunters could do was to try to block as many blows as possible.
One of commandos broke off from the fight, which was so furious that the three hunters didn’t even realize he was gone until he grabbed John Winchester’s limp form and took off carrying him as if he were made of straw. Even as the man was picking up Winchester, a second assailant dropped something that exploded filling the hollow in the midst of the trees with smoke. A smoke grenade. Then they were gone.
Fortunately for Bobby, Rufus and Ellen, they had faced scary assailants before. Although the remaining four attackers continued their attack, they were almost as affected by the smoke as the hunters and the attack became more disorganized. The seasoned hunters, long used to fighting things bigger and scarier than they were, began to give almost as good as they got.
Connor arrived just in time to see four extremely large men in black fatigues engaged in hand-to-hand combat with three people dressed as civilians. It took him only a few seconds to size up the scene, but it was both an education and a miscalculation.
One of the civilians was a large dark-skinned man, almost as tall as the masked, commando-like attackers. Surprisingly, he was holding his own, even though he was fighting two people. He was far from young, but he moved fast and used his two assailants against each other. He’d obviously had hand-to-hand training at some point.
The second civilian man looked like Connor’s idea of a textbook redneck – battered flannel shirt, battered jeans, topped off by a battered baseball cap and with the beginnings of a beer belly and scruffy looking facial hair. He looked like someone’s out-of-shape uncle. He too, surprisingly was doing OK, though his fighting style was more improvised than the other man’s, he fought dirty and he landed a lot of blows.
What stunned Connor, however, was the woman. She was a middle-aged blonde, hot in an older woman kind of way. She could have been someone’s aunt or somebody’s mother, but she was giving her much larger assailant a run for his money. The two male hunters with her punched and fought more or less conventionally, though they didn’t hesitate to fight dirty.
The woman, on the other hand, fought like nothing Connor had seen, though he suspected there was judo in there somewhere. She made up for her lack of mass and height with speed, agility and creativity – and she fought dirty too. Whenever the commando expected her to zig, she zagged. She kept catching him off guard and she was clearly enjoying herself, grinning whenever he missed an easy shot.
From the way the man fought, Connor could tell he was getting very frustrated that he hadn’t managed to take down one small, middle-aged woman. The commando she was fighting had scratches on his face – and his ski mask had gotten ripped somehow. She used elbows, knees and even head butts. Connor grinned. He could learn moves from her! Finally, she used the very large man’s momentum and a leg sweep to put him on the ground.
“You little bitch,” Unfortunately, he was up almost as fast as she’d put him down.
The commando had been fighting hard before but now, his reaction was vicious. It was obvious he was angry and his anger made him wilder and less controlled, but he was also becoming much more determined to hurt the blonde woman and hurt her badly. He finally managed to punch her hard in the jaw and though she rolled with the punch, Connor could tell the punch had connected. The woman’s knees buckled momentarily and she staggered a little but to his surprise, she didn’t go down.
Given that the hunters had been on their way to kill or at least hurt him, at first, Connor hadn’t been sure whose side he was on, but he found himself growing in admiration for the woman and filled with rage at the masked man’s behavior. But the woman wasn’t about to give up. Grabbing onto the man’s arm, she used his mass to steady herself while delivering a vicious hit of her own – to his groin. The man hit his knees, bellowing in agony. Connor started to move forward, his attention on the two of them.
Then Connor was on the ground. In the few seconds he’d watched the fight unfold, he’d allowed himself to become distracted. He never even saw the attacker who bowled him over and then tried grab his arms and handcuff him. When that failed because he simply didn’t have the strength to force Connor’s hands together, he tried to hit Connor in the head with his slapjack, but Connor dodged, and it hit the ground instead.
Connor’s immediate response was to head butt the man, who was behind and almost on top of him, and hope to catch him in the nose. It worked. Blood bloomed from beneath the mask, and the man staggered before trying to pick up his leather weapon. Connor kicked it and it skittered away into the darkness.
Then Connor was fully on his feet and he broke away from his assailant. He could see it wasn’t going well for the others and he knew he needed to help them, so he backhanded his assailant, who was trying grab him again. The man went flying, and lay still on the ground. Connor winced. He had been unsure just how much strength he could use and he had no idea how badly he’d hurt the man. Unlike the situation with the demon, he really had no intention of killing anyone. This put him at a disadvantage and he knew it. He now knew he possessed a frightening amount of strength and that killing the demon had been no accident.
Connor knew he had to act anyway. The redneck guy was on the ground, apparently out cold. The man who had been fighting the redneck was now double-teaming the black guy and the one with the torn mask was now kicking the woman mercilessly as she fell to the ground. Blood was flowing freely from a wound on the side of his head. His ear appeared to be torn. The woman’s face and hands were covered with blood, and Connor couldn’t tell if it was hers or if it belonged to the commando who was giving her the kicking of her life.
“You stupid little cunt, I’m gonna kill you!” he said. “You crazy bitch! You’re not gonna get away with this!”
He kicked out at her, trying to get to her kidneys. The woman somehow managed to roll away, trying to get up even as she rolled. Connor heard a cracking, crunching sound. He’d hit bone instead.
“Fuck you! You chicken shit coward asshole!”
The woman snarled her curses, obviously in agony, curling herself into a ball, trying to protect herself as he struck again and again.
Then Connor was on him, smashing his fist into the man’s jaw. Fortunately for the commando, he was moving, and Connor’s fist didn’t fully connect, but it was enough. His head snapped back. The man was down for the count.
Then Teal'c and O’Neill were there.
“Freeze,” said O’Neill, pointing his gun at the two men who were beginning to get the better of the last hunter.
They kept hitting the man. O’Neill didn’t have a clear shot and apparently, the commandos knew it. Then Teal'c put one of the men in a headlock, and brought him down. O’Neill handcuffed him with the man’s own cuffs. Connor mirrored Teal'c’s move, bringing down the last attacker. Connor's chokehold was a little more effective, and the man was unconscious before he hit the ground. Carter cuffed him with his own handcuffs, and then turned to examine the redneck man, who Sam Winchester was already trying to rouse.
“Bobby! Bobby! You OK, man?” asked Sam.
“Uhhhhh… Sam?” he murmured. “They took your dad.”
“Took him where?” asked an alarmed Sam.
“Dunno. Idjit,” said Bobby, who was now sitting up. “Dunno who these bastards are. Haven’t any idea how they got the drop on us…”
“’Cause we were too busy arguin’,” said the black man.
“Shut up, Rufus,” said Bobby.
“He’s not wrong,” said the woman, attempting to get up. “Fuck.”
She stumbled, wrapping one arm around her torso, the other arm she held awkwardly at her side.
“You OK, Ellen?” asked Bobby.
“Don’t ask stupid questions,” said the woman named Ellen.
“Maybe we should call you an ambulance?” said Carter.
“Oh hell, no! When I need an ambulance for this, I’ll be ready to hang it up,” said Ellen. “I’ll be fine as soon as Bobby straps this wrist and I get me some whiskey.”
“First, we need to find out who sent these yahoos,” said Bobby.
“What yahoos?” said a new voice.
“Dean,” said Sam. “The… wait… where the hell did they go?”
While they had been checking Bobby and Ellen, apparently, someone had managed to sneak in and remove all but one of the men, the one who had been groaning, and who Teal'c had been standing over.
“Well, that’s not good,” said Jackson.
“Ya think!” said O’Neill. “We could all be dead.”
“I don’t know about you all, but I’m done with hanging out waiting to see what comes next,” said Rufus.
“You’re not going anywhere,” said O’Neill.
“You and what army are gonna stop me?” said Rufus, taking a step forward.
“Air Force, actually,” said O’Neill, his gun aimed at Rufus.
“Air Force?” said Rufus.
“United States Air Force,” said Carter, bringing her gun up as well. “You all aren’t going anywhere until we find out why you were planning to kill this young man.
“You have no idea what he is…” Bobby began.
“Shut up, Bobby,” said Ellen and Rufus simultaneously.
“Maybe we should do what I told you all to do to start with,” said Sam. “Ya know – talk!”
“He’s…” said Bobby.
“He just helped save your lives,” said Jackson.
“Give it a rest, Bobby!” snapped Rufus.
“Are you…” Bobby began.
"He’s right,” said Ellen. “The little chicken shit was gonna kill me.”
“Actually, I dunno about the rest of you,” said Dean, who had said very little. “But I want to find out where this creep's buddies took my father.”
“That too,” said O’Neill. “Your father might be seriously deluded, but kidnapping’s a crime.”
They were in Connor’s apartment. When she discovered that Connor had nearly been attacked by hunters and was there with SG-1 questioning them, Cassie had insisted on coming over, in spite of O’Neill’s vehement objections. O’Neill was attempting to question the man in black.
“Who do you work for?” asked O’Neill. “Are you NID? We will find out, you know.”
The man’s face was stony. He didn’t answer. They had been at this for nearly half an hour. In that half an hour, he’d told them exactly nothing.
“Where did they take Winchester?” asked O’Neill. “You do know you’re not going anywhere until we get some answers, right?”
The man didn’t answer. The door opened and Carter came back inside.
“Carter, what did you find out?”
Carter had made several calls, mostly to the mountain. She’d sent his photo back to the mountain and biometrics had finally discovered an identity. Sergeant Franklyn Roberts been discharged on full disability nine years ago. He’d never completed his physical therapy or been fitted for any prosthetics. Since then, there had been no record of him anywhere.
“He’s not one of ours and he’s not NID. He used to be a marine. Best guess, he’s a mercenary, but I have no idea who he works for,” said Carter. “His name is Franklyn Roberts. Only one problem, Franklyn Roberts nearly died in Mogadishu in 1995. He lost his right leg above the knee and his right forearm in an explosion.”
“Carter, this man has all his limbs,” said O’Neill.
“I heard about this, but I never thought I’d see one,” said Rufus, coming over and rolling up both sleeves of the man’s heavy sweater. There was no sign of scars or anything to indicate he’d ever lost a limb.
“Heard about what?” asked O’Neill.
“Magical limb reattachment. You get everything back… in fact, sometimes you’re even better than before… only problem, usually… you have to sell your soul or enter the service of some powerful evil…”
“Sell your soul?” asked Jackson. “Are you serious?”
“He’s not wrong,” said Bobby. “All it takes is a visit to a crossroads demon…”
“A crossroads demon?” asked O’Neill. His tone dripped with derision.
“Know anyone who’s had a really smooth trip to the top? Anyone who had a miraculous recovery from something? Then, usually ten years later they’re dead… they’re just… gone?” asked Ellen.
“You mean like Robert Johnson?” asked Connor. “You really believe this crap? You gotta be kidding!”
“This from the guy with superhuman strength who can kill demons without a blessed weapon!” said Dean. “Dude, you’re a poster child for weirdness.”
“Thanks,” said Connor. “And hunting demons is so normal.”
“Somebody’s gotta do it,” said Dean, grinning.
“Why?” asked Connor. “I don’t see demons out there killing…” Sam gave Connor a pointed look. “Oh, never mind.”
Connor glared at Sam. Sam and Dean exchanged an amused look.
“People like you don’t see demons everywhere because people like us kill them,” said Bobby.
“Like you were coming to kill me?” asked Connor. “How many innocent people have you killed?”
“I don’t kill innocent people,” said Bobby. “We were gonna test you.”
“Right. Sam and Dean already tested me,” said Connor. “They made me drink holy water and stuck me with iron knives, silver knives and even made me walk on some kind of big circle thing on the floor.”
“You knew?” asked Dean.
“I heard you talking about it while I was in the shower… the devil’s trap, right?” said Connor.
“Shit,” said Dean.
“Why did you…” Sam began.
“I had to know if I was something evil,” said Connor shrugging.
“Oh Connor,” said Carter. “You’re not evil. We might not know where your… abilities come from, but I know evil.”
“Samantha is correct. I have encountered much evil. You are a unique individual. Nevertheless, I do not believe this makes you evil,” said Teal'c.
“You shouldn’t talk,” Dean directed his comment at Teal’c. “You’re not exactly normal either. What? Are you two part of some secret government program or something?”
O’Neill really did not like the direction the conversation had suddenly taken. These people were much too observant.
“Oh for the love of… don’t be insane! Just Stop! Stop this! You people are gonna get yourselves into a world of trouble some day if you haven’t already. Murray’s been part of my team for more than seven years and just because he speaks a little differently, that does not make him a demon. Just what the hell is wrong with you people?” asked O’Neill, obviously furious. “You’re unbelievable! I’ve had up to here with all this superstitious paranoid bullshit! Don’t you people get that we’re trying to help you? I have to tell you – right now – I’m inclined to turn all of you idiots over the cops and let them figure out where your friend is. Don’t tempt me.”
The hunters exchanged looks but said nothing.
“If you let us go, we’d find him,” said Bobby finally.
“Not gonna happen,” said O’Neill.
“So we’re your prisoners?” asked Ellen.
“Yup,” said O’Neill.
“That’s fucked up,” said Dean.
“You’re not a prisoner. You and your brother can leave any time you like,” said O’Neill, still clearly livid. He pointed to the door of Connor’s apartment. “Your father and these three were coming to attack Connor and we’re not letting them go until we get to the bottom of this mess. Your friends can cooperate or we can turn them over to the police. Are we clear?”
“Yes, sir,” said Dean.
“Crystal,” said Sam.
“So… How are we gonna get this merc bastard to talk?” said Dean, eager for a change of subject.
“We could try a spell,” said Bobby.
“A spell?” asked Carter. “Really?”
“A truth spell,” said Bobby.
“It won’t work on me,” said the man. “I’m immune to spells.”
“We can break whatever protection is on you,” said Bobby. “Search him, Dean. See if he has a hex bag or any tattoos…”
Dean rose and started going through the man’s clothing, exposing his arms and chest as well as he could without removing the cuffs.
“You believe him?” asked Jackson. “That he’s immune to spells?”
“If he deals with the supernatural. There are ways to protect yourself against spells, against possession…” said Bobby.
Ellen exposed a small but complex tattoo on her abdomen. Jackson was immediately fascinated.
“These… these are ancient symbols… pre-Christian pagan symbols… Sumerian, Enochian… You do know that Enochian symbols are just part of a 16th century cult, right?”
Ellen pulled her shirt down and gave Jackson a disgusted, almost pitying look.
“That’s what you
know,” said Ellen.
“You know something different?” asked Jackson.
Ellen stared at him. Suddenly, it seemed to dawn on her that he was being curious rather than mocking her.
“Well, yes,” she said. “You know about the story of the cult, right?”
“Yes,” said Jackson. “I’ve studied dozens of languages and their origins… it’s what I do."
“Well… it was all true…” she began to explain.
Jackson leaned in, hanging on her every word.
All of the kitchen furniture had been moved to Connor’s bedroom since the kitchen floor was the only floor other than the bathroom that was not made of wood.
“I don’t think you want to explain why there’s a pentagram shaped scorch mark on your floor, man,” Dean had told him when he asked why they couldn’t just do it in the living room instead of the tiny kitchenette/dining area which was only just barely bigger than the table that had occupied most of it.
Rufus and Bobby laid out a protective circle and placed various herbs and other items inside it. Then they placed around the circle, inscribing symbols that Connor didn’t recognize, but which seemed to fascinate Jackson. Finally, they placed Frank, still secured to the chair, in the middle of the circle. Then the two men began to chant.
O’Neill watched the whole magic set up balefully. Only his years of experiencing the strange and impossible kept him from saying something rude. He couldn’t decide what he thought about these people. Rufus, he suspected had been in the military at some point and he knew a lot of men like him. A little bit bitter, a little bit paranoid – getting older, but still tougher than rocks – alone because they had just a few too many demons to live with anyone else. Of course, in Rufus’ case, Jack suspected those demons might be the real kind.
Bobby was a mystery. At first glance, Bobby seemed like the kind of guy Jack expected to have a confederate flag tucked some place conspicuous. The sort of man wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with a black man; a man who probably drank a little too much, did some sort of blue-collar job, and mindlessly spouted right-wing politics – not out of any well thought out conviction, but just out of ‘tradition’.
Who knew, maybe he was these things… but watching him, Jack was beginning to get a different picture. For one thing, the man was smart. Maybe not Sam smart, but the man was easily the most knowledgeable of all of three hunters in terms of book learning. He really hadn’t expected this. Bobby apparently read Latin and some other languages and he, Ellen and Daniel were having just a little too much fun talking about myths and fairytales – and things which might actually be neither.
Ellen… well, she was something else. She had the mouth of an MTI on a bad day and since she’d torn off the ear of someone who was almost twice her size, and she was nursing at least a couple cracked ribs and probably a broken wrist, all without complaint; she was definitely at least as tough as her mouth, maybe tougher. Jack had met more than a few tough women in the military, but he’d met very few he’d trust to watch his back – particularly not without a weapon. Sam came to mind for sheer resourcefulness. In a fistfight, however, he’d have to give the edge to Ellen.
Teal'c looked on impassively. He had been led to believe that magic was simply one of many earth fables. In his experience, all magic had usually turned out to be the work of Goa'uld technology or technology of some other kind.
None of the items the men had used in their ritual appeared technological. In fact, more than a few of the herbs were still in their original containers. There was rock salt, oregano, black pepper, marjoram, fenugreek and about a dozen others, most of which O’Neill had in his kitchen. There were crystals, what looked like ordinary rocks, as well as several feathers and the skull of a small animal Teal'c suspected was some type of small rodent.
The men definitely believed in what they were doing and they weren’t putting on a show or attempting to deceive. Teal'c had no idea whether magic was real or not, but what he observed made him decide to keep an open mind.
Carter watched the whole thing with a mixture of curiosity, skepticism and impatience. It seemed to include a kitchen sink of ingredients including everything from various bones including a mouse skull, to minerals and crystals of various kinds. These included hematite, quartz, jade, and dull pieces of what were probably alabaster or marble. There were also a few crystals which even she didn’t recognize.
Oddly, what made her give credence to the whole exercise with kitchen spices and new age crystals was the two crusty middle-aged men who, despite their casual demeanor were laying out the whole odd ritual with the kind of care she gave to her more sensitive experiments. Though Bobby had a very rough-hewn manner and Rufus reminded her of some of the more ornery old veterans she had met, and neither struck her as the kind of guy given to new age nonsense. Both approached this with utter seriousness and an air of… competence. She was rethinking her first impression of them as two superstitious hot heads with more attitude than sense. She was not sure what that meant about Connor.
So, Latin…” said Jackson, after Bobby and Rufus completed their long chant.
“Yeah,” said Bobby. “A Lot of spells are in Latin. Mostly, it’s best to stick with the original languages. Translating them can have unpredictable effects.”
“Unpredictable?” said Jackson.
“There is power in words,” said Bobby off-handedly.
“So, did it work?” asked Connor.
“Don’t…” Rufus held up one hand.
That was when the candles suddenly lit themselves and the flames flared up a good six or seven inches. Then the sacred circle, which had been laid out in something that looked like green sand began to glow as if someone had heated it white hot. Then, just as suddenly as it began, the light show was over, the sand was now a dull grey and the candles went out abruptly.
“Well, crap,” said Bobby.
“I don’t know. It didn’t work,” said Bobby.
The mercenary chuckled.
“It’ll take more than your book magic to do anything,” said the man.
“I hate it when the bad guy’s right,” said Dean.
“He is?” asked Connor.
“Probably,” said Sam. “Bobby knows his stuff, but he’s not a mage.”
“A mage?” asked Jackson. “They really exist?”
“You people don’t know anything, do you?” said the mercenary, mockingly.
“Does anyone else have a sudden urge to punch the guy?” said Ellen.
“I think the better question would be, is there anyone here who doesn’t?” said Connor, grinning at Ellen.
“Maybe you’re not
evil,” said Ellen grinning back.
“Of course, he’s not evil,” said Cassie, glaring at Ellen.
“Teenage girls. Always think you know everything,” said Ellen snidely.
“What would you know about it?” asked Cassie, her voice testy and petulant at the same time.
“I have a daughter. She’s mouthier 'n you are,” said Ellen, grinning.
Cassie didn’t know what to say to that so she just glared some more.
They were getting nowhere with the mercenary. Frank Roberts really had proven immune to all the magic that Bobby and Rufus had been able to attempt with the supplies that Dean and Sam brought from their cars. O’Neill was trying again. The man was getting cockier and O’Neill was becoming more irritated by the minute.
“You really don’t want to get out of here, do you?”
“You can’t keep me here forever,” said Frank.
“I can turn you over to law enforcement,” said O’Neill.
“I’d be out before you left the building,” said the man.
“Guess, I’ll have to get them to send you to Guantanamo,” said O’Neill, who was beginning to wonder just what he was going to do with the man. He could turn him over to law enforcement, but he couldn’t keep him indefinitely. Since he was involved with the whole Connor situation and that investigation had been deemed a possible matter of national security, he could probably turn him over to the NID or maybe even manage to get him sent to Guantanamo, though that one was a stretch. Unfortunately, neither option would get him the one thing he wanted. Answers.
The man looked less cocky, but he said nothing.
“C’mon, Jack, let me at him,” said Connor. “You know how much I like this part.”
Connor voice was so gleefully cruel and so matter of fact that it made O’Neill’s blood run cold. He stared at Connor, wondering just what was going on inside his head. He didn’t want to involve the teen in illegally questioning anyone. He certainly didn’t want to be party to torture or worse. Then Connor winked at him and O’Neill realized it was all an act.
“Sure. Maybe you’ll have better luck,” said O’Neill, releasing the man suddenly and stepping back.
“I’ll make him wish he’d never been born,” Connor said cruelly, pulling the man up by the back of his vest. “I want to know how he knows my name.”
The man who had spent his adult life except the last nine years in the military wasn’t scared of much. His last nine years as Wolfram and Hart’s mercenary had paid well, but bad things happened at Wolfram and Hart. The fate of those who talked about work at Wolfram and Hart was certain death… at least, it had been before the current management. Now, things seemed a bit more difficult to predict. The new boss seemed more interested in terminating those who hurt humans than the folks at the Chicago office, who killed without mercy and often for reasons that seemed almost whimsical.
But Rumor had it, that Mr. Angel had blown out the brains of the last head of security with his own shotgun on his first day simply for attempting a standard Wolfram and Hart clean up. There had been talks of occasional beheadings and the new boss and his colleagues had actually managed to terminate the LA Branch’s favorite necromancer. Mr. Angel was unpredictable and protecting Connor Reilly was the security detail's most important op, though no one had explained just why that was. Frank had a feeling that failure would not result in anything good for him.
Still, there had been no summary executions for project failure since he’d started work at the Los Angeles Branch and Mr. Reilly was uninjured, despite Bradley’s insane attempt to assault him. Bradley must not have realized who he was dealing with. Frank was glad it hadn’t been him. Maybe he could just bide his time and get away when they were distracted. Then he’d have to decide if he was going back to Wolfram and Hart or not.
Until today, this surveillance detail had been uneventful. The others had complained that their talents were better used than nursemaiding some geeky college kid, but he hadn’t minded. He’d never had the stomach for the kinds of tasks that he was usually expected to do and this had seemed largely benign. Someone had kept an eye on Connor at all times, keeping their distance as instructed. He’d actually volunteered for extra shifts.
Until tonight, when seers had warned of something malevolent, they hadn’t even worn uniforms. They had been warned not to attempt to bug Reilly’s apartment and so they didn’t have as close a coverage as security usually liked, however, Mr. Angel had warned them that any ‘irregularities’ would be met with dire punishments. Suddenly, Frank was tired of the whole mess, tired of Wolfram and Hart and tired of living on the edge.
“I’ll tell you,” said the man.
Frank wasn’t afraid, but he was wary. Connor had a large knife in one hand, and was currently using it to whittle down a long wooden spike, making for a sharper, thinner point. He had been tortured once and he’d seen what Wolfram and Hart was capable of. Who knew why Mr. Angel thought this kid was so important he had him watched day and night. There was something about the boy, now he was face to face with him that screamed predator in a way he’d never noticed before. Something about the boy’s sneer that made him certain the boy was quite capable of the worst kind of torture.
“Who do you work for?” asked Connor quietly, somehow still managing to convey menace.
one of the questions the man intended to answer.
“You really don’t want to make me angry,” whispered Connor, grinning at the man. “You’re making me… upset.”
“They sent me to… protect you,” he said, trying to deflect Connor from the original question. “They were gonna kill you.”
He gestured with his fingers toward the three middle-aged hunters, who were, unlike him, not tied to a kitchen chair in a manner that even he couldn’t think of escaping. They weren’t handcuffed either.
“Got that part,” said Connor. “You might have noticed. I don’t need protecting.”
“He’ll kill me if I tell you anything,” said the man, hoping to stall for time.
Maybe they’d send someone to extract him… After all, Wolfram and Hart weren’t big on having their people talk. Of course, with his luck, they might just kill him instead. He really didn’t understand why they hadn’t taken him.
Of course, he wasn’t at all sure they would be back up from LA tonight, and the other team was supposed to be off today. Who knew where they were right now? Whatever happened, it wouldn’t end well. Even if Angel didn’t order his execution, with Wolfram and Hart, who really knew? Rumor had it that Angel wasn’t really in charge anyway. Wolfram and Hart’s history of terminating employees who fucked up this badly was quite legendary and Frank knew he was quite expendable. They might kill him whether or not he talked. Still, he wasn’t sure that dying at their hands wouldn’t be less painful. After all, he’d been told to guard someone code-named ‘The Destroyer’. Watching him fight tonight, he knew the boy – or whatever he was – could kill him with very little effort.
“Which he would that be?” asked Connor.
“Angel,” said the man.
Connor was so startled he let the man go. The mercenary fell backward with a startled yelp. Only Connor’s reflexes saved him from smacking the back of his head on the tiles of the kitchen floor.
“Who are you?” asked Angel. “Why do you want to kill Connor Reilly?”
“I’m not telling you anything,” said John Winchester.
“Trust me,” said Angel softly, “I have ways of making people talk.”
Angel squeezed John Winchester’s wrist painfully. That was when John noticed how chilly those fingers felt. Whoever this ‘man’ was, he wasn’t human. John quickly looked up at the one way mirror behind Angel’s head. No reflection. Vampire.
“Of course, you do, demon,” said John.
“Name calling? What are you, twelve?”
Angel sneered at John.
“Fuck you, demon,” said John.
“That’s Mr. Demon to you, you bastard,” said Angel.
“I’m gonna kill you,” said John, throwing himself forward so hard, the chains holding him snapped painfully taut.
Angel just grinned at him, leaning back in the chair with his hands behind his head.
John pretended to ignore him. He looked around. Now the hood was off he could see exactly where he was. The basic room was pretty standard… It reminded him of any of a dozen interrogation rooms he’d been in over the course of his life as a hunter. His hands were chained to the table. The table was bolted to the floor. His feet were shackled together and the shackles were attached to a loop in the floor. They were obviously not taking any chances he could free himself. There was one-way glass behind the interrogator’s side of the table. That, unfortunately, was the end of the similarity.
The rest of the room had more in common with a torture chamber than an interrogation room. He suspected that just looking at some of the objects on the wall might be enough to make some people confess to anything. He, however, was not ‘some people’. Along the wall, there was a smorgasbord of weaponry and implements of torture, both modern and archaic, some of which even John Winchester didn’t recognize. On a stainless steel medical trolley next to the interrogator in the very expensive suit, were more instruments of torture, most of which were a little too familiar.
There were also several dozen vials of various liquids in a rainbow of colors. Several bottles looked quite familiar. He recognized various spices and herbs. Others were less easy to identify – things that looked more as if they belonged in a chemistry lab. There were seven red candles, one black, one white and a bowl of lime green powder, red powder he suspected was cayenne powder, rock salt, gourds, a mortar and pestle and other items definitely intended for magic. Definitely not standard for any interrogation room he’d ever been in before.
“I really doubt that,” said Angel. “Better than you have tried it and the only person who ever succeeded was my ex. You should know, though; I’m thinking of killing you just for the fun of it.”
Angel smiled pleasantly.
“I’m gonna torture you first,” said Angel. He gave John a relaxed smile. His tone was conversational. “Do you enjoy being tortured Mr. Winchester? I’ve had practice. I can show you a wonderful time.”
For the first time, John Winchester felt fear. Fear and surprise. He hadn’t carried identification in his own name in years. He had arrest records in dozens of different names and since, even now, some small towns weren’t really on top of computers, not all of his records had even been connected.
“What? Didn’t think we would figure out who you were?” Angel laughed. “Well, I have resources the government doesn’t have. I like to know who my enemies are, Mr. Winchester. You made a big mistake, you know that?”
“So this is where the villain makes the long speech, huh?” John said derisively.
“I think you have that all wrong, Mr. Winchester. You see, you, my fine hunter, are the villain of the piece. You’re the one who kills without mercy or any understanding what kinds of hornet’s nests you’re kicking over. You’re the one who’s stupid enough to go after a champion because you have no idea who he is… or well, you have no idea who his friends are.”
“Friends?” asked John. “Is that what you are? You’re friends with The Destroyer?”
Angel really didn’t like it that Winchester had that name. Wolfram and Hart had promised... Well, he’d deal with them later.
“No, I’m a lot more than that,” said Angel. “And I don’t like it when people fuck with what’s mine.”
Angel said the last part with a quiet snarl about 3 inches from John Winchester’s face.
John asked it calmly, though he could feel his heart hammering in his chest. What the hell had he gotten himself into?
“Mine,” said Angel. His voice got low and quiet. “If you fuck with my people… You’re in for a world of hurt.”
“So far, all I’ve done is get beat up by a bunch of B movie Mercs and thrown in the back of a van with a pillowcase over my head. I’ve been through worse.”
John shrugged, and forced himself to smile.
“But I’m not finished with you yet,” said Angel conversationally, picking up one of the instruments from the tray and twirling it around his fingers. “You’re gonna tell me what I want to know before I kill you.”
“Before?” John was suddenly thinking this might be going a bit differently than he was expecting. Shouldn’t it be ‘or else’?
“Well, you can’t tell me anything after you’re dead, can you?”
Angel’s voice was gentle and pleasant. His eyes twinkled. He smiled as if he were discussing something… he enjoyed. John swallowed hard. How the hell was he gonna get out of this? Did the others even know where he was? Were they in similar cells somewhere else in the building?
John was almost certain he’d been brought here alone, but since he’d been blindfolded and then hooded and handcuffed to the floor of a van, he really wasn’t sure. He’d felt himself going down a long way in the elevator when they’d brought him in. He had no idea how long he’d been unconscious, but the perceived length of the drive suggested he was somewhere else besides Stanford. In between full consciousness he’d been vaguely aware of what sounded like jet engines, but when he’d finally come out of the fog, they’d been driving, so he really had no idea.
That was when Angel’s phone rang and brought John back to full focus on his jailer.
“What?” Angel asked, sounding slightly irritated. “No. I can’t. Deal with it. I know you can. Oh dammit!”
Angel rolled his eyes. Then in one fluid motion got up and left the room, slamming the door behind him.
“That can’t be good,” said John to himself.
“No, I don’t want you to kill him. Don’t you think you people have screwed up enough for one day?”
“But he could talk…” said the chief of security.
“What would he tell them?” asked Angel.
Didn’t these people know that the cover up was always worse than the crime?
“He could implicate Wolfram and Hart.”
“He never worked for us,” said Angel. “We never heard of him.”
“See to it,” Angel said.
“Yes sir, Mr. Angel.”
“Now, get the fuck out of my office!”
“Angel, can you please tell us what’s going on?” asked Wesley.
The last time Wesley remembered Angel being like this was when Wolfram and Hart had brought back Darla. That had been a very bad time.
“He’s a very bad man,” said Angel.
“He’s a hunter,” said Gunn. “Since when do we lock up hunters, Angel? You’re not really thinking of killing him, are you?”
“I’ll do what’s necessary,” said Angel.
“Necessary?” asked Lorne. “Is this Angel or Angelus talking?”
“I’m still me, Lorne,” said Angel.
“But there’s something you’re not telling us,” said Lorne. “Something important. Angel what are you doing?”
“Angel please, you’re scaring me,” said Fred.
“What she said,” said Gunn.
“It’s personal,” said Angel, turning and leaving the viewing room.
His friends watched as he entered the interrogation room again. Then he got up and flipped a switch. Now they couldn’t see into the room or hear anything from the speakers.
“Personal?” asked Fred. “Everyone Angel cares about is in this room.”
“Except Buffy,” said Wesley.
“Except Buffy, agreed Fred.
“I don’t think this is about Buffy, kiddoes,” said Lorne.
“Then who?” asked Fred.
“I don’t know, Freddikins. All I can tell you is I’m getting major papa-bear vibes.”
“Papa-bear?” asked Gunn.
“But that doesn’t make any sense, Lorne. Everyone knows vampires can’t have children.”
“All I can tell is that it's coming off him in waves. It’s so intense, it feels like it’s gonna take the top of my head off,” said Lorne.
“That can’t be good,” said Wesley.
“That’s the part I’m certain of. Someone’s in for a serious beat down. I wouldn’t wanna be them.”
Note: MTI = Military Training Instructor - the Air Force equivalent of a drill sergeant.