chapter 6: My Girl Was Just Like Me
Title: Cat's Cradle
Pairing: B/A, B/S, A/C, X/Anya, W/T (pretty much all show pairings get mentioned)
Spoilers: Season 6/3 in general, after 'Older and Far Away' for BtVS and 'Provider' for AtS.
Summery: This is the first story in a series. When Dawn visits her estranged father and Buffy refuses, Dawn ends up at the Hyperion. From there truths come into the open, visons appear and a new prophesy concerning the end of days is revealed.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction created strictly for enjoyment. No profit was made. All the characters in here belong to Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement is intended.
Note: This will be the last update to this story for a while. I'm concentrating on 'Wards.'
Chapter 6: My Girl Was Just Like Me
Buffy hung up the phone and paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. She was not happy, and something told her it was going to get worse. Getting swept into one of Angel’s cases was the last thing she wanted to do, but thanks to Cordy, or the Powers, or whoever, that was what she would have to do. Worse, she had to bring her friends into it as well. She only hoped she could get it over with as quickly as possible.
Buffy turned and made her way over to the main chunk of Angel’s group. As she walked she looked around for Dawn and saw her over in the corner reading. Spike was out in the courtyard, where he’d retired for another cigarette. Of course that only happened after Buffy asked him to go out there to avoid another confrontation with Angel. Everyone else was currently gathering near the weapons cabinet waiting for her. As she neared the group, she gave them the results of the conversation.
“Willow will be here as soon as she can get her parents to lend her their car. Once we know what’s going on I’ll let Xander and Anya know if we need them.”
“What do you mean you’ll let them know?” Cordelia asked.
“I mean I’ll let them know. They both have jobs that don’t involve demons. Well Xander does, but Anya is the only one there to watch the shop. So until I can get a little more info, Willow is it, and I’m only bugging her because she needs the distraction.”
“I’m sure that will be fine,” Angel said, cutting Cordelia off before she could speak. Then as if remembering that he might be out of line added, “Right, Wes?”
Wesley noted the look on both Buffy and Cordelia’s faces and decided to cut the argument off right away.
“Yes, that should be fine. In the meantime, why don’t you tell Buffy the specifics you were giving us, Cordelia?”
Cordy gave both Wes and Angel an annoyed look, but she kept her comments to herself.
“Okay, so it was definitely not the normal sort of vision. It was kind of divided into two parts. The first thing I got was this battle, a big one, everyone was there, but Angel, Buffy and some one else, some one I couldn’t see, they were doing most of the fighting. I couldn’t see who it was they were up against, I just know that it was big, dangerous and this is the weird part, a long way off.”
“So why get a vision of it now?” Buffy asked.
“I don’t know. I mean besides you, Angel and mystery guy fighting, that was the one thing that was clear in the vision, the battle is far away. And no, I don’t know who the other person was. I think whoever it was and the reason the battle is so far away have to do with the other thing I saw.”
“Which was?” Buffy said, sounding annoyed.
“I’m getting there. It takes a while to sort through these things, even without the screaming migraines.
“Anyway, the second part was even more strange. I just got pictures of this scroll. It was old and moldy looking and in one of those funky languages only Wesley understands. And it is connected to the fight I saw somehow. I think that’s what we need to be looking for.”
“Did you get an impression of where we need to start looking for it?” Wesley asked.
“It’s here in LA,” Cordelia answered. In fact I know exactly where it’s at in LA,” Cordy turned to Angel and gave him an admonishing look. “You should have been more thorough when you were scroll-napping a couple of years ago.”
“I got kind of distracted when the alarms started blaring,” Angel shot back.
“So you’re saying our least favorite evil lawyers have this thing?” Gunn asked.
“Oh yeah,” Cordy said.
“So if you know where it is, why do I need to be here?” Buffy asked, hoping that she hadn’t summoned Willow in vain.
“I don’t know, I just got the impression you need to be here. You know Buffy, we don’t usually question messages from the Powers quite this much.”
“And I don’t usually go into battle with so little info. We research and recon before hand. And then we fight.”
“Well since we’ve dealt with Wolfram and Hart before, the recon part is taken care of. Not that it makes getting inside any easier with all their security,” Fred added thoughtfully, then looked at Buffy. “Maybe that’s why the Powers wanted you here. I mean you could get into the vault and you wouldn’t trigger any of the vampire catching stuff they have. I mean they don’t even know you.”
“Actually they do,” Buffy said quietly, an odd look on her face.
“What?” Angel asked, as everyone turned to look at her.
“You said Wolfram and Hart, right?” Buffy asked quietly. When several members of the AI group nodded, she continued. “That’s the name of the firm my Dad works for.”
For a moment no one spoke. It was obvious from the look on Buffy’s face that she had no idea about the firm’s nefarious nature until this moment. She was just as stunned as anyone, but slowly the bitterness which accompanied so many of her thoughts began to creep in. She let out a quiet humorless laugh.
“Well its good to know he isn’t just a deadbeat parent who put his work over his family, but he’s evil too. It should probably make me feel better.”
Angel watched the hurt flit across Buffy’s face and wondered if she would accept comforting from him after their most recent fight. Still he had to try something. He couldn’t stand the idea of another burden being placed on her shoulders.
“Buffy,” he started to reach out then he let his hand drop when she stiffened slightly, “there’s always a chance he didn’t know.”
“Angel’s right,” Fred piped up, trying to help. “I mean its not like everyone there is evil. I mean, I bet they don’t have evil janitors, and I’m not helping am I? So I’ll be quiet.”
“Fred is right,” Wesley added. “We have had help from an employee of the firm in the past.”
As soon as Dawn had heard her father’s firm mentioned she had put her book down and moved towards the group. She appreciated the effort Angel and the others were going through, even if part of her agreed with Buffy. There was one bit of evidence though that she felt refuted all her father’s actions.
“They’re right Buffy. I mean if Dad was evil he’d probably have handed me over to Glory last year.”
“It’s not a club Dawn, not everyone who’s evil works together. Especially in a town as big as LA,” Buffy said, trying to keep a patronizing tone out of her voice, despite her foul mood.
“Not just LA,” Cordy piped in, attempting to be supportive. “I mean its not like Evil Dead out there was trying to hand you over either.”
“Spike’s not evil, at least not like that,” Dawn’s reply drew a wince from Buffy, and grimaces from both Angel and Wesley. It also drew half hearted protest from Spike, who was still out in the courtyard.
“If you’re going to listen in, feel free to come over and contribute, Spike,” Buffy said, irritation coloring her tone.
Spike ground out his cigarette on the door frame, eliciting another frown from Wesley, and sauntered over to their group. He passed by them and sprawled on one of the nearby circular couches. He pointedly ignored the rest of the Angel Investigations crew and spoke only to Buffy.
“Don’t know as I have that much to add, Slayer,” he said. “I’m on your side. After all, what kind of Father abandons his family?”
The comment drew a sharp glance from Angel, but he let it slide. He knew Spike was trying to dig up the past to pick another fight, and possibly garner more sympathy from Buffy. He wasn’t about to react to his taunts and give Spike more ammunition. He knew any defense of himself would come out as a defense of Buffy’s dad, and Angel was long past caring to defend Hank Summers’ deadbeat parenting.
“Good or evil, he’s still an alternative way into the company. After our last couple of encounters with the firm, I can’t see our usual sources being very forthcoming,” Wesley said. “Do you know what division your father works for?”
Buffy frowned, trying to remember if the subject had ever came up. She knew the name of the firm from conversations her parents had, but her father was never too specific.
“I’m not sure,” Buffy said, then turned towards her sister. “Did he say anything to you Dawn?”
“It was Special something,” Dawn answered, and she saw most of the Fang Gang wince and glance at Angel.
“Projects,” he said, his expression darkening. “It’s Special Projects.”
Buffy looked at him questioningly, and he furthered his explanation.
“I’m the project. Or one of them. They’re the ones who brought back Darla, tried to turn me, bring back-,” he paused, knowing this was a sensitive subject. Buffy finished for him.
“Angelus,” she said swallowing hard. “Good thing that didn’t work out,” she said out loud. Thinking back to the look on his face while holding his son she added a silent ‘so far.’
“Worst case scenario, yeah,” Angel responded, the frown still on his face. “At least they want to stop me from helping people. Until Conner was born their latest plan seemed to be to annoy me.”
“And after?” Buffy asked.
“They wanted him,” the fierce anger colored Angel’s expression. “I convinced them of the flaw in that plan.”
There was an uncomfortable pause. The members of the Fang Gang exchanged meaningful glances while Angel wasn’t watching. He was busy glancing upstairs to where Lorne had taken Conner. The Sunnydale trio glanced at each other, wondering what exactly they had gotten themselves into.
“Yes, well, to get back to the vision,” Wesley said, “We somehow need to get the scroll from Wolfram and Hart. Despite their estranged relationship, Buffy’s father still seems a more likely link than our usual sources.”
“I don’t know Wes, the way we’re getting along right now, I show up at the office and its bound to trigger alarm bells.”
“Well he was all wiggy about dropping me off here,” Dawn said. “He kept asking me if I felt uncomfortable staying here, offered to let me stay in his office. I could call and say I changed my mind, go over there, and then sneak out of the office and go find the vaults.”
“Its too dangerous. These lawyers may not have been in league with Glory, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t turn down a chance to get a hold of you.”
“I can do this Buffy,” Dawn appealed to her sister again.
“I’m going to have to concur with Buffy,” Wes said. “While you have an excellent idea, once inside you would have a most difficult time getting to the vaults. They have excellent security, and that doesn’t include the rather large demons which guard the vault itself.”
“What about a more direct route?” Spike asked.
“Stay out of this, Spike,” Cordy snapped.
“I’ve got a hell of a lot more experience in a fight than you do, so maybe you should be the one shutting up for once.”
“Why would you want to help anyway?” Cordy asked.
“The sooner you all get this scroll, the sooner I get out of here. That’s plenty of motivation for me right there. It’s not like I haven’t been helping out the Scoobies for over a year now.”
Cordy was about to reply when Angel cut her off.
“Let him go, Cordy.”
Spike only acknowledged Angel’s words with a glance before he continued.
“You said you get trouble from these lawyers all the time, right?” Several of the AI group nodded despite their skepticism. “And the Slayer was already angry at her Dad before she found out he was one of them.”
“Your point, Spike,” Buffy said impatiently.
“So what do you think they’ll do when Peaches and a brassed off Slayer come into the offices?”
“They’ll think Angel told me about Wolfram and Hart,” Buffy said, a sly smile on her face.
“So while you’re playing up the righteous indignation with the Poofter scowling in the background, the rest of us will be taking advantage of their distraction.
“How?” Angel asked, slightly shocked at how well Spike had thought the plan through.
“Not quite sure of that part, but if you’ve managed to do it, shouldn’t be to hard.”
Angel gave Spike another glare, but kept silent. Wes spoke up instead, taking control of the meeting.
“We need to go over the schematics we have, formulate a plan. Once Buffy and Angel are inside, the rest of us will need to move quickly.”
As he spoke, Cordelia got up and moved towards the filing cabinets behind the office area. The others moved towards the counter. Soon the multiple files and schematics on the law firm were spread out as the group prepared their assault on the law firm.
Hank stood in the hallway outside of his superior’s office nervously fidgeting from foot to foot. He had been in the office less than an hour when Ms Morgan had summoned him to her office. Once he had gotten there he had been told to wait outside. Almost four hours later he was panicking quietly. He had a sinking suspicion that Lilah knew about where Dawn had been dropped off that afternoon. He was regretting his decision as it seemed more and more likely that Dawn and Buffy would be caught up in the dark world of his firm. Hank still couldn’t get over the fact his daughters knew anyone at Angel Investigations. He realized that no matter what, he was going to have to tell Buffy about the darker underbelly of the world. She needed to know who and what she was dealing with. The thought of his girls anywhere near a vampire, much less that vampire…
Hank’s not-in-the-least-bit-distracting mental diatribe trailed off when he heard the door to Lilah’s office open. He turned around to see her standing there looking at him, smirking. Hank swallowed nervously.
"Ah, Hank, come in,” she said, stepping away from the door, clearly expecting him to follow. “Be sure to close the door behind you. It’s bad enough that nuisance Gavin has the secretarial pool in his pocket, the last thing I need is him lurking outside the door.”
Hank simply nodded and made a slight show of shutting the double door with an audible click. He turned around to see Lilah already at her desk, regarding him with a carefully neutral expression that was almost worse than the smirk.
“Take a seat Hank.” she said, pointing at the chairs usually reserved for clients. “I’m sure you’re curious about why I called you into the office this evening.”
“Yes ma’am,” he said, trying to keep up a calm exterior.
“How was your visit with your daughter?” she asked with obviously feigned interest.
“Ms Morgan, I can explain,” Hank started, but was interrupted when she held up her hand for silence.
“I seriously doubt that, and anyway, it doesn’t matter. We already knew about your daughter’s connection to Angel Investigations.”
“You knew?” Hank asked, incredulous.
“Oh yes, its one of the only reasons you’re still alive actually,” Lilah smirked again when Hank instantly focused on her. “I mean come on, Hank, you didn’t really think we kept you around for your stunning litigation skills. You’ve never fit in here, and after the stunt you pulled last year,” she paused and shook her head in mock disbelief.
“Did you really think you could break your contract by simply running away. You knew we would catch up eventually, which is why you finally came back. When you did, your connection to your daughters was the only thing that kept you from being terminated.”
“Because Buffy knows the Seer?” Hank asked, dazed, his mind struggling to comprehend Lilah’s revelations and the implicit threat behind them.
Lilah looked almost stunned by his words. She shook her head slightly.
“You really have no idea, do you?”
Hank shook his head weakly. Lilah simply chuckled and continued to speak.
“Buffy knew Cordelia Chase before she was the Seer. In fact, your daughter is one of the only reasons why Ms Chase is alive and connected to the supernatural in the first place.
“She also knew Wesley Wyndam-Pryce back when he was an inept Watcher, and is one of the reasons he got fired from the Council. Finally, and this is my favorite, if it wasn’t for your daughter, the biggest thorn in our side would still be in New York sucking on rats.”
Hank simply gaped at his boss, unable to form any kind of response to her revelations. It couldn’t be. He had worked so hard to keep Buffy and her sister away from the darkness that was so integrated into his life since he signed on at Wolfram and Hart. Now he was learning that he had not only failed in that goal, but had failed on an unprecedented scale. Finally he was able to spit out a strangled, “How?”
Lilah was grinning like a Cheshire cat at his discomfiture. She was obviously enjoying being the one to tear apart his world of denial.
“In every generation, there is a Chosen One…well its two now, and that’s one more thing we get to thank Buffy for. Your daughter really is an over achiever isn’t she? It kind of makes up for all those less than stellar grades.”
Hank saw the last shreds of his carefully constructed world crumble as he pondered her words.
“A Slayer, Buffy….,” and now so much of the trouble she had in high school made perfect sense to him.
“Not a Slayer, The Slayer, especially since the other one is currently abiding in a women’s penitentiary. Your little girl is one of the longest lived Slayers in history, and that is even with dying twice.”
“Dying?” Hank asked, alarmed.
“Well how else did you think we ended up with two Slayers. And thank goodness it didn’t happen the second time, because that would have been downright annoying.”
It was all making sense now, and one of the most ironic things from Hank’s perspective was the fact that Buffy’s denials of odd happenings in high school proved she was trying to protect him just as much as he had wanted to protect her. More of Lilah’s words broke through the haze in his mind and he looked up at her sharply.
“You’ve always known about her, even when she was just a Potential. You kept the Watchers from finding her,” Hank didn’t know whether to be angry or relieved by that interference.
“Well not me specifically. The Firm wasn’t even sure if she’d be Called, but we’d have been fools to let a chance like that slip by. Then you had to go and fuck up your marriage. The Senior Partners almost had you eliminated then, but a few saw the wisdom of waiting. They were right, since your stellar parenting skills gave the kid more emotional baggage than your death ever would have.”
“So why tell me all of this now?” Hank asked, resignation making him daring. “Have I finally outlived my usefulness?”
“And here we thought that spunk the Slayer had all came from her mother alone. No, Hank, you are still highly useful, especially now.”
“Because, as a part of your newly blossomed parental concern you are going to go to the Hyperion to fetch your youngest. While she’s making the typical teenage protestations, you are going to signal a team in, and use the distraction to nab Angel’s son.”
“I’ll never be able to get out of there alive.”
“Maybe, but if Angel kills you, the Slayer might be a little upset. The distraction might let one of the team members get the brat away,” Lilah was utterly unconcerned that she was sending Hank on a suicide mission. “And even if they don’t, it will most likely be the thing that finally severs the communication between both sets of White Hats.”
“I don’t have a choice in this, do I?” Hank asked, already knowing the answer.
“Not really, and before you decide to be brave, know that Dawn and Buffy’s corpses will be the last thing you see before we kill you if you fail,” Lilah said, locking her eyes on Hank’s to make sure he know how serious she was.
“Fine,” Hank said, in a strangled tone.
“Good,” Lilah said, dismissing him with a gesture. “I’d get going if I were you. I’m sure Angel would be more than happy to tell his ex who her Daddy really works for.”
Still reeling from the last little revelation Lilah made as a parting blow, Hank Summers left the office. Lilah watched him retreat a malicious grin on her face. It would be difficult for her not to reap a benefit from this situation.