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Summary: A response to Jinni's five song challenge- Asher is sent by the council to investigate reports of military activity near the Hellmouth

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Willow-Centered > Pairing: AsherdulcineaFR1855165,32913100123,4992 May 043 Sep 06Yes

Bad Boy - 1

~ Hyperion Hotel, Sunday, 7:50 pm~

Angel stared at the three people in front of him, an impossible collection of individuals from his past, and he did the first thing that came to mind. He lashed out at Spike. “What the hell have you done to Willow?!” He yelled, pinning the young vampire to the wall with just one hand.

“Hey! Calm down, Peaches.” Spike held up his hands in surrender, but Angel would hear none of it, and squeezed his throat harder. “Some help here, Frenchie?” Spike gasped out.

“Put him down, mon ange.” Willow shivered at Asher’s command, his voice such a cruel contrast to how she was used to hearing him. Angel remembered that voice well and immediately dropped Spike, guiltily turning to face Asher like a bad boy expecting to be disciplined.

“Asher?” Angel whispered, looking up at the vampire with a reverent awe. It had been so long since anyone had had that kind of authority over him.

“Get three glasses to replace those.” Asher stared at the broken glass on the floor with disdain. “Bring a glass of water for la petit rouge as well.” Angel immediately retreated to the kitchen to obey.

“Bloody hell, how did you do that?” Spike stared at Asher with a new appreciation of the ancient vampire.

“You would do well to follow his example.” Asher replied simply. “Now mademoiselle, will you please join me in the sitting room?” He offered his hand in the classic gentleman’s gesture and winked.

“But of course.” Willow replied in her best ‘grey poupon’ voice and dropped the luggage beside her wheel chair. She stood up to find herself quickly being lifted and carried over to the plush loveseat. Angel returned, handed everyone a glass, and settled in to his usual chair by the unlit fireplace. Spike took his glass and settled in a chair on the opposite side of the room from Angel, not wanting to take part in this tête-à-tête.

“Forgive me, Asher, but you must admit that you are an odd group of people to find in one place.” Angel tried to begin diplomatically.

“It is understandable, childe. If the circumstances were not so dire, I would be surprised myself. But first, tell me how you know these two.”

“Ah, that is a long story.”

“He’s my sire’s bloody sire.” Spike grumbled.

“Fascinating. Then you are part of the…” Asher turned to face his traveling companion with an undisguised curiousity.

“Ah, so you’ve heard of me.” Spike smirked.

“You have a reputation in the courts. It is not a good reputation.” Asher replied then turned back to Angel. “And Mademoiselle Rosenberg?”

“Well, that’s a long story.” Angel shrugged.

“He dated my best friend for awhile.” Willow answered.

“Ah.” Asher nodded.

“You make it sound so simple, it’s never that simple.” Angel shook his head.

“That I can believe.” Asher agreed, swallowing some bloodwine, wincing as the taste hit the back of his throat. “Mon ange, I remembered when you had such exquisite tastes.” He held up the glass.

“Asher, we are not in France. How about we dispense with the trivialities?” Angel’s eyes bore into Asher’s demanding honesty and something even more than that, devotion perhaps.

“Of course.” Asher answered quietly. The room fell into an uneasy silence as Asher contemplated the decline of what once was the court’s favorite play boy. Everyone drank their glassful, nobody particularly enjoying the taste, but no one willing to be the first to interrupt the silence.

“So Willow, how’d you break your leg?” Angel finally asked, turning to the friendliest face in the room.

“Funny story that.” Willow gave a hesitant giggle, trying to figure how long she could make this story last so that she wouldn’t be subjected to more of the oppressive silence. “I had gone to the college gardens to think for a bit, and had climbed into this tree. So, along come Asher with two other vampires, and these commandos attack them. Asher jumps into the same tree to hide. I figure out that there’s a vampire behind me, so as soon as the commandos leave, I turn to stake him… only I hadn’t grabbed my stake; I grabbed my cross, and it didn’t work, so I fell out of the tree. I figured I was a goner, but then instead of eating me, Asher picks me up and carries me all the way to Giles’ house so I can get a ride to the hospital.”

Angel watched as Asher slipped his hand into Willow’s and lightly brushed his thumb over hers as she told her tale. “Well that answers my second question, of how you met our fair chardonneret.” Asher’s eyes glanced up to face Angel at the use of that pet name.

“Well, this is bloody fantastic! How did I get dragged into another one of your bloody love triangles?” Spike spat out, drawing everyone’s attention away from the dark thoughts.

“So, we’ve established that Willow is here under some misplaced sense of loyalty to her assailant savior. Why are you here, Spike?” Angel’s words acidly cut through the thick atmosphere.

“Ah, Monsieur Spike is the whole reason we are here.” Asher interrupted the stare-off between sire and childe. “You see, those commandos, as ma chaton calls them, have been capturing our kind in Sunnydale, and performing experiments on them. Monsieur Spike was held for several days, and they managed to put something in his head that causes pain whenever he attempts to harm a human.”

“He doesn’t even have to do anything, just thinking about hurting me causes him to fall apart.” Willow added, feeling guilty about teasing him in the car.

“Alright, so what does that mean?” Angel asked, looking at Asher expectantly.

“It means I can’t feed, I can’t fight. If I come up against the slayer, I’ll just fall down in pain. I may as well hand her the stake.”

“So you’re not such a bad boy anymore, are ya, Spike?” Angel taunted, still feeling bitter about his childe’s betrayal that landed him in hell. His feelings towards Spike were one of the few things his soul and demon agreed on, at least superficially.

“I’m twice the bad boy you’ll ever be. I can still beat the crap out of you.”

“You never could beat the crap out of me, and you know it.” Angel growled. The sound of Willow’s whimpering yanked Angel out of his posturing.

“Are you through demonstrating that you are both still boys?” Asher remarked. That seemed to be the jibe they needed, as both settled back against their chairs.

“So why are you here?” Angel turned to Asher, trying to keep his calm.

“We are going to fix Spike, and we need your house to do this.” Asher answered.

Meeting Asher’s eyes, Angel could see the truth, resting on the layers of their complex history begging to be resolved. Turning towards Willow, Angel could see in her green eyes the beginning of a resolve face. He would have to speak with her as soon as he could get her away from Asher’s thrall, but that would be easier said than done. Finally Angel met Spike’s gaze. There was so much hate burning in those baby blues, that it was hard to see that underneath it all was a desperate cry for help, and Angel could feel his childe’s blood call to his. “Alright, I’ll show you to your rooms.” Guilt, faith, and loyalty were a potent combination on Angel’s broken heart, and he caved.

~ Initiative Quarantine, Sunday, 11:00 pm~

“Agent Finn?” A familiar voice came over the intercom.

Riley looked around, trying to figure out which camera it would be best to talk to, and finally gave up. “Yes ma’am?”

“Agent Finn, can you explain what you were doing between 0200 and 2000 hours today?”

Riley glanced down at the two bodies lying on the floor in the quarantine cell. So far Mr. Giles had yet to move and Buffy had yet to make a coherent sentence in those brief moments she was awake. “Ma’am, I’m not sure, but I’ll do my best. At around 0200 hours, I left Willy’s Bar with Agent Gates in pursuit of the target. Ten minutes later, Gates and I split. I lost visual with the target about two minutes later. I was attacked and knocked unconscious. At about 0230 hours I awoke at the residency of Mr. Rupert Giles. Target was present and upset over the disappearance of Rosenberg. I proceeded to assist the two present with their search efforts for the remainder of the day.”

“That is your statement?”

“That’s the truth.” Riley sat down feeling more tired than he had felt in a long time.

“How did you get to the residency of Mr. Rupert Giles?” Walsh asked, staring at the television monitor as her star pupil hung his head down in defeat.

“I suppose I was taken by the target.”

“The target is a five foot tall female that you should have no problem subduing.” She replied in disbelief.

“Yeah, thanks, I hadn’t noticed that.” He mumbled staring down at the girl in front of him, her eyelids flickering.

“Agent Finn.” The warning was quite clear in the tone, and Walsh could see Riley’s physical reaction to the reprimand. “Why did you not arrange to contact base during your search activities?”

Riley sighed. “It became clear that if I appeared as anything other than the concerned friend, my cover would be blown. I did not want to risk the operation.”

“It’s a little late for that.” The voice echoed across the white walls. Riley watched Buffy’s eyes flickering.

“With all due respect, ma’am,” Riley’s voice barely hid his temper, “the actions taken to compromise the unit were not authorized by me. If we are going to discuss this further, I recommend temporary isolation from contamination.” His eyes clearly indicated that he was worried about anything overheard by the two people passed out on the floor around him. “Would it be possible to get any medical attention in here as well?”

“Agent Finn, remember your place.” Maggie was shocked that Riley would be so forward, demanding medical attention for people he barely knew even though he knew the procedures for quarantining of hostiles.

“Some how I doubt my place is how I remembered it.” Riley replied. There was a click, and then silence as the intercom cut off. Heaven help him, Riley realized he might have just signed his own warrant, and darnit, it felt empowering.

~ Hyperion Hotel, Sunday, 11:30 pm~

“As you can see, there are plenty of rooms here, so you can pretty much have your pick.” Angel said, picking up one of the suitcases and leading the group down the hall, Asher pushing Willow forward in the wheelchair.

“Can I have whatever is closest to the downstairs bathroom?” Willow asked, the vampires all turned to face her, studying her face for any signs of deceit. “What? It’s not like you’re going to need it, and what if I have to go in the middle of the night?”

“Alright.” Angel nodded, and moved forward a few paces and opened a door that still had a faint 103 painted on it. “I’ve checked the plumbing in this room, so you shouldn’t have any problems with the bathroom.” Angel held the door open as Asher wheeled Willow inside.

“Wow, this is nice.” Willow glanced around. The room was large enough to be considered a suite, with a small table and recliner making up a sitting room that linked the bedroom space to the bathroom. Angel had been carefully going through the rooms, setting up matching linens with various decorating schemes. He was of half a mind to try to open this place back up, as a hotel for the travelers of dubious natures- vampires, werewolves, simple demons- but that idea was a long way off. This room was one of the first he thought of as done, with matching green towels, curtains, and comforter.

“I’m glad you like it. My room is right across the hall if you have any problems.” Angel answered, his voice even, hiding the small thrill he got in knowing he had impressed the redhead.

~ Initiative Quarantine, Monday, 12:20 am~


“Buffy? Are you really awake?” Riley rushed to Buffy’s side.

“What kind of question is that?” Buffy sat up, holding her head.

“Well, I don’t know, last time I thought you were awake, you asked me where the penguins were.” Riley answered. Buffy just looked at him as though he had lost his marbles. “Nevermind.” Riley mumbled.

“So where are we?”

“So you know that stuff I can’t tell you? This would be that.” Riley answered, eyeing Buffy warily as if he expected her to attack him.

“Oh.” Buffy thought for a moment. “That’s not a good thing, is it?”

“In this case, I don’t think so.” Riley agreed.

“So how do we get out?”

“We don’t.”

“What do you mean, we don’t?” Buffy frowned.

“Well, this is quarantine. We were last seen interacting with an H.S.T., and therefore we remain in quarantine until it’s been verified that we haven’t been contaminated.” Riley answered, as though the answer was obvious, hoping Buffy would buy it.

“Okay, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. We’re in a little white room because somebody saw
us questioning that vampire? What do you mean contaminated?”

“Well, you know. H.S.T. transmission can be lethal.”

“H.S.T.? Are you people really that stupid? Look, the only way to become a vampire is to be completely drained by a vampire. I’ve got a pulse, see!” Buffy stuck out her neck.

“You’ve got… um, a scar of two pointy holes.” Riley winced.

“Oh, well, yeah, there’s that too, but emphasis on the word scar. They’re really old, like sophomore year old.” Riley arched a brow at that. Buffy absently put her fingers on her neck to feel her old scar, then slowly moved her fingers to the other side of her neck. “Okay, so that’s senior year old, but still, there’s a pulse.”

“You’ve been taken by an H.S.T. twice?!” Riley stared at the girl incredulously.

“Hey! You try going to high school here. It’s tough work.” Buffy pouted.

“Sorry, let’s just forget I ever said anything.” Riley sighed.

“Okay.” Buffy nodded, unconsciously, pulling up the collar of her shirt a bit to hide the old scars. “So we’re stuck here to make sure we don’t go grr… so that’s what, over night?”

“Um, sure. Let’s go with that assumption.” Riley smiled half-heartedly, knowing the civilians would be lucky to get out in a week if they got out at all.

“You don’t look so sure.”

“Well, let’s not get too hasty here.” Buffy eyed him sourly. “We should at least wait for Mr. Giles to get better before worrying about how long we’re going to stay.”

“Fine.” Buffy nodded, looking at her watcher still asleep on the floor.

“Buffy Summers.” A familiar voice came over the intercom.

“Yeah?” Buffy answered, glancing up at the ceiling and looking all around for the hidden cameras.

“Walk to the wall on your left.” The voice commanded.

“Is it just me or does that sound like Professor Walsh?” Buffy turned to Riley.

“For right now, why don’t you just follow her instructions so that you can get back to Mr. Giles soon?” Riley offered the best advice he could.

Buffy looked at him skeptically, but followed the directions. A panel slipped open and three soldiers in full combat gear came storming in, pulled her out, and quickly shut the door behind them.

“Mother?” Riley spoke into the empty room.

“Yes, Agent Finn?”

“Don’t hurt her yet. Please?”

“Her own behavior will dictate her treatment, as will yours.” The voice replied, and Riley heard the quiet click to indicate the intercom turning off.
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