Bad Boy - 6
~ Hyperion Hotel, Monday, 4:20 am~
Angel had tried sleeping for a few hours, but he was just too wound up. He felt like a dark cloud was hanging over the hotel and if the temperature rose just one more degree, a storm would open up and pour down on him. He stared up at the ceiling, letting his thoughts send him into another brood. He had never noticed how loud this hotel was in the morning. He could hear the quiet hum of the air conditioning, and the slightly louder hum of the kitchen appliances. Outside, the birds were chirping to welcome the dawn, commuters were beginning to fill the busy L.A. street, and automatic sprinklers were coming to life. Listening carefully, Angel heard one of the sprinklers shut off then realized it was actually coming from inside indicating someone had just finished their shower. He knew Asher was of the old stock that died during the day and Spike would never be awake so early, so obviously Willow must have just woken. He couldn’t have planned it better. Slipping on his black pajama pants and robe, he set his mind on visiting the redhead.
Angel knocked lightly on the door across the hall. There were a few odd thumps then Willow poked her head out. “Yeah?” She whispered, glancing down the hall to make sure Spike and Asher’s doors were closed.
“Um, hi?” Willow smiled awkwardly. She had been really hoping she could just take a shower and go to bed since it was already dawn, but she’d only made it as far as the shower when there was a knock.
“I noticed you were taking a shower.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Was I being too loud? I wasn’t singing, was I? I mean, sometimes I do sing in the shower, but I try not to when there are other people around.” Willow babbled.
“Oh, no. You were fine. I was just thinking since you were already awake… well, I really need to talk to you.”
“Um, okay, I just need to get dressed.” Willow blushed, glancing down at green towel wrapped around her.
“Oh, sure. Do you need any help?” Angel offered, trying to be friendly. Realizing what he just said, he winced and turned away, “I mean, do you need, um…”
“Do you have some pajamas I could borrow? I’ve been wearing the same clothes since Saturday.” Willow interjected before Angel could get into a full blown brood.
“Pajamas, I can definitely do pajamas. Just a minute.” Angel went back to his room and found a pair of drawstring pajama pants and shirt. They’d be huge on Willow, but they’d have to do. “Here.” He handed her the clothes then waited as she closed the door to change.
“Okay,” She opened the door a few minutes later. “So what do you need to talk about?”
“Can we talk inside?” He muttered, glancing up and down the hall. Willow opened the door wider, and Angel stepped in, heading straight for the little sitting area.
Willow followed him slowly limping along. She looked longingly at the bed, but settled for the rocking chair, knowing she’d fall asleep in a moment if she went to the bed. “Do you mind if I…?” She held up her comb.
“That’s fine.” Angel frowned, not sure what exactly he was going to say now that he was here.
Willow unrolled her towel turban, and began combing out her wet hair. “So what did you want to talk about?”
Angel stared at the bed behind Willow for a minute before answering. “How well do you know Asher?”
“Funny, that’s also the first thing he asked me tonight.” Willow rolled her eyes at the odd tension between Asher and Angel. It was so weird to think of Angel having a history before he came to Sunnydale, and yet he had a few centuries of history behind him that always had odd ways of rearing their ugly heads. She could still remember the day Buffy had told her about seeing Drusilla for the first time. It was just creepy.
“And, I told you how I met him. That was just a week or so ago. I don’t know him that well.”
“I know you don’t know Spike, at least you don’t know anything good about him.” Angel frowned, thinking out loud. “So, how did you end up stuck with those two? They’re nothin’ but trouble. Really, Willow, how’d it happen?”
“Honestly, I’m not exactly sure. I was walking home from the Bronze with this guy, and a gang of vampires jumped us. I thought we were going to be dinner for sure until out of the blue Spike shows up. He actually saved me from the minion gang, but then instead of just chasing off the minions and killing the guy walking with me, he just sort of grabbed me and ran. I don’t know, at the time it didn’t really click that I was being kidnapped because I was just so relieved that I wasn’t dead.”
“So you aren’t here on your own free will.” Angel’s jaw clenched in silent fury. His childe was going to be dead by sundown.
“At first, but then, I don’t know. I’m really worried about Spike. I mean, he’s still Buffy’s arch-enemy and stuff, but whatever the government did to him, it’s just not right. It’s just not right to see a vampire cry.”
“How do you know it’s not a big hoax?” Angel frowned.
“Believe me, if he wasn’t really in pain, I’d be dead by now.” Willow blushed, feeling guilty from all the times she provoked Spike into reacting.
“I doubt that.” Angel knew Spike had the patience to play long drawn out games with his prey as long as he was the one making the rules.
“Okay, I might not have been dead; he could have turned me instead.” Willow offered. Angel looked up at her, quietly contemplating her words. It wasn’t at all what he meant, but he couldn’t help but wonder if Spike was indeed contemplating making her a new childe. “He tried.” Willow admitted. “He had just escaped from the government and he thought it was Buffy’s fault so he was going to kill her, but found me instead. He offered to turn me.”
“Why on earth would he offer that?” Willow looked hurt by Angel’s question, so he quickly added. “I mean, Spike normally doesn’t have the manners to offer first, he just takes.”
“Well, he tried with the taking, and that’s how we found out about the reaction.”
“So what does Giles have to say about this?”
“He doesn’t know?” Willow looked up sheepishly.
“Does anyone else in Sunnydale know where you are?”
“Not exactly.” Angel fixed Willow with one of his looks. “Okay, so no, they don’t know where we are. What was I supposed to do? It’s not like Spike and Asher are going to lend me their cell phones so that I could call up the friendly neighborhood slayer to come save me.”
“I’ll call Giles.” Angel mumbled.
“Thanks.” Willow smiled. “I’m so glad of all the evil vampire lairs we could go to, we wound up at yours.”
“Thanks. I think.” Angel thought for a minute. “I just don’t get it.”
“What don’t you get?”
“What’s Asher’s motive in all this?” Angel searched Willow’s eyes for any sort of clue he could get from the girl.
“Um, maybe he just doesn’t like to see other vampires in pain?” Willow knew that wasn’t quite right, but she wasn’t sure what she should say.
“You obviously don’t know Asher.” Angel said with a bitter smile. “The question I suppose is whether he’s working for his sire or himself.”
“You don’t like him.” Willow observed, tilting her head to comb out a tangle.
“He’s an incubus.”
“So? What’s wrong with that?” Willow frowned, but Angel wouldn’t answer. “What, are you jealous?”
Angel just shook his head wearily. “Willow, you’re a sweet girl. I don’t want him to break you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? You make it sound like I’m helpless or something.” Willow felt herself getting a little angry, even though she knew better. It was probably just being overly tired.
“That’s because you are helpless.” Angel answered truthfully, surprised by how red Willow’s face was getting.
“I can’t believe, after all we’ve been through, you would think I’m some incompetent damsel in distress!” Willow scowled.
“But you are.” Angel insisted. “Trust me, I know how his kind works, and I know how he sees you. I bet he’s given you a hundred compliments about how you’re so smart, and beautiful, and how nobody else really appreciates you like he does.”
“Please Angel, like I can’t fight off some silly flirting.” Willow scoffed, while inside she was feeling a bit ill as the words hit home. “I mean, boys will be boys. Xander is the same way.”
“Boys will be boys, but Asher was never a boy. He’s going to butter you up until you think you’re in love with him, and then he’ll slowly suck you dry. That’s what he does.” Angel stood up and began pacing in anger. Why was Willow being so stubborn about this? Of all the Sunnydale teens, he had thought she would be the most logical.
“That’s not true.” Willow pouted.
“Oh really? So he hasn’t at all mentioned how beautifully pale your skin is? How you must be smarter than any other woman he’s ever met? He hasn’t looked you in the eyes like you’re the only woman in the world?”
“Maybe he has, but that doesn’t mean anything. Why do you have to be so suspicious?”
“Willow, think about it. He’s lived for centuries, seen millions of women, why would you even catch his attention?”
“How dare you?! Has it ever occurred to you that a guy might actually like me? I mean, sure I’m not Buffy or Cordelia, but I’m not some horribly disfigured monster. Oz thinks I’m… thought I…” Willow froze mid-rant, and Angel could see the tears begining to well up in her eyes. “Just leave.”
“Willow, I didn’t mean…”
“But Willow, I…”
“Before I do something we’ll both regret, leave me alone. Just go away Angel.”
Angel realized it was a losing battle, so he settled for a retreat, quietly walking to her door. He stopped as he turned the doorknob. “I’m sorry.” He offered.
Willow didn’t even glance up. Her head rested in her hands. He could her hear quietly sobbing through the door as he stood out in the hallway. “I’m so sorry, Willow.” He whispered, turning back to his room, ready for a long day of brooding.
~Initiative Quarantine, Monday, 8:45 a.m.~
Riley would have guessed it was about ten in the morning, but he had lost any sense of time from being in an all white room for so long. Evidently the constant lighting hadn’t bothered Buffy, as she had fallen asleep just a few minutes after resolving to stay awake. He couldn’t help but think she looked cute when she slept. He got up and walked around, needing to stretch his legs. It felt like he was coming down with something, but it was probably just fatigue.
“Finn?” a quiet voice came over the intercom.
“Yeah? Miller is that you?”
“Yeah. I don’t have a lot of time, but I thought I’d check on you.”
“Thanks. How are you doing?” Graham was surprised that Riley knew exactly where to look at the cameras to make eye contact, but then, Riley probably attended several interrogations in this room as the squad leader.
“Ribs still hurt like hell but they’ll probably be that way for another week or so.” Graham admitted. “So what’d you do to piss off Walsh?”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s got all her do not disturb flags up in the lab, and she was really bitchy at debriefing.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I think she didn’t get the information that she wanted from Buffy.”
“Yeah, about that. What the heck happened? Why’d you go AWOL?”
“I’m not sure you’d believe me if I tried to tell you.”
“Does that mean we’ll have to get a few beers into you first?”
“Something like that.” Riley sunk to the ground. “So how’s Alpha squad? Are the guys okay?”
“Yes mommy, we’re fine.” Graham teased. “It’s you that’s in deep. Seriously, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I was just helping Summers look for Rosenberg.”
“Did you find her?”
“No, but we had a lead.” Riley ran his hand through his hair. He could really do with a shower and some breakfast.
“Well, Alpha is on search duty for Rosenberg in ten minutes, so any leads you could give us would be appreciated, captain Iowa.”
“Yeah, good call. From what we could get, looks like two H.S.T.s took Rosenberg and headed for Los Angeles. Hostile 17 goes by the alias Spike, or William the Bloody. The other was called Asher, or something like that. Maybe you and Gates can try Willy’s again and ask for Asher.”
“They’ve gone to L.A.?”
“Well, we think so, but the witness was the H.S.T. that disappeared when Delta raided that house.”
“Yeah, you’re telling me.”
“Okay, well, I’ll get Alpha working on it, and suggest upping the radius to include L.A. Of course, if they’re in L.A., it’ll be impossible to get them.”
“You have to try though. Buffy’s going out of her mind worried about her friend.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
“Hey, it’s not your fault. I’m sure if Buffy had tried to walk Willow home there would have been in even more trouble. At least you could radio for help before they knocked you out.”
“It wasn’t like that… Damnit, I’ve got to get going.”
“Okay, well, good luck.”
“And Miller? Let me know if you find anything.”
“Yes sir.” Graham shut off the intercom. He watched Riley hang his head as though her were defeated. It made no sense. Why was Riley stuck in this room if he obviously wasn’t contaminated? He would probably be much more effective if he was on patrol with the rest of Alpha. Something was up.