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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: AsherdulcineaFR1855165,32913100123,5042 May 043 Sep 06Yes

Bad Boy - 8

~Hyperion Hotel, Monday, 2:00 pm~

Surprisingly, all three vampires were awake long before Willow stirred. Of course, if they had known how late they had kept Willow up, perhaps they would not have been so surprised. Asher was shocked that he could still wake before the sunset, even though he had traveled so far from the Hellmouth. These odd hours of daylight cooped inside were wearing on him. He briefly contemplated trying to find Angel or Spike and starting a conversation, but realized that the idea was a very bad one. He settled for writing his sire a letter.

My Dearest,

Oh, how I long for your presence! How I wish I were back in your fair grace! While working your will in this primitive land brings me satisfaction, it is nothing compared with the satisfaction I would get from your beautiful glance, my lady.

My efforts at understanding the military actions on the Hellmouth have recently brought forth an interesting lead. I have found a vampire that has escaped from the humans and their weapons. What is more amazing is that he is from our line, and more specifically, he is William, the youngest of the Scourge of Britain. I have taken him from the Hellmouth, to your childe in Los Angeles, for I fear the military may have been tracking him in the other town.

Our fears of the military technology may have been well founded. William is unable to inflict any pain on humans without experiencing excruciating pain himself; it is quite possible that he would have starved if not for my intercession. Unfortunately, he is quite young, and thus we are unable to test whether he could get around this curse by rolling the minds of those he would feed from. We have also brought with us to Los Angeles a computer specialist, who William believes will be able to unlock the secrets of the military. I hope that he is correct in that assumption.

I should inform you that your childe Angelus has been an adequate host, although he and the younger one appear to be quite hostile to each other. They fight, but it is the fight of siblings, and boys will be boys. Already Angelus is showing signs of maturing to a true master, but it will be several more decades before it is worth investing in his training. Still, perhaps it would be beneficial to keep a careful eye on these two; they showed such promise from their turnings, and have since matured into very independent thinkers. If courts were to be established in this land, these two would have the power to control at least one city in your name. Of course, that is dependent on the youngest, William, being cured from whatever this ailment the military has placed in him. However I have faith that our petite informaticien will be able to find a solution.
As always, I am your humblest servant.

Asher read over the letter, making sure that he had mentioned Willow, but not enough to make Belle Morte jealous. After all, if he had not mentioned the little redhead at all, and Belle Morte had sent any spies, he would be in serious trouble. He had to cover all his bases. He had even provided as much political speculation as was possible in this forsaken land, which he knew his sire would appreciate. He was in no hurry to return to the trivialities of court, but it was best not to let his sire know that. Satisfied that the letter was acceptable to sign, he very carefully placed it in the envelope, sealed the letter, and headed for the lobby.

~ Hyperion Hotel, Monday, 2:15 pm~

“Mornin’, Peaches.” Spike decided it was time to make his presence known, even though he’d been awake for hours. He could feel evening approaching, and he was getting ancy.

“It’s not morning, Spike.” Angel glared up from the newspaper he was reading at the table.

“Wouldn’t have guessed from that bed head of yours.” Spike smirked at Angel, whose hand immediately drifted up to straighten the already perfect hair. “Oh give it a rest; nobody gives a damn what your hair looks like.”

“Is there a reason you’re in here, Spike?” Angel asked tiredly. Part of him wanted to beat up the brat just for being the same annoying twit he’d been since he had been sired. The soul part of him knew that it was wrong to punish Spike, for it was his own fault the young man had turned out so obnoxious. Still, even his soul had to admit that it was tempting to swing a punch.

“Just checking up on things. So, has Red brought her shopping list down yet?”

“She’s still asleep.” Angel answered, turning his gaze back to the paper, prepared to ignore Spike with all his might.

“Yeah, well, I’d almost think it would be better if she stayed that way until after the shopping was done, but I don’t want to buy the wrong thing.”

“Buy? Since when have you bought anything?” Angel scoffed, trying to keep his eyes focused on the business pages.

“Contrary to popular belief, I do sometimes engage in commerce.” Spike straightened his posture. He hated how Angel always knew how to pick at him, make him feel like the underclassed London git he once was. He knew he wasn’t the same young lad pining for the unattainable Cecily, but somehow Angel always seemed to bring him back there. Well, he was the big bad now; he wasn’t playing by those rules anymore. “And, since I have Asher’s credit card, it won’t be that hard.” He smiled.

“I should have known.” Angel muttered, glad that it was Asher’s credit card and not his that his grandchilde had lifted; of course, he should probably go through his wallet to make sure before he let Spike walk out that door.

“Yeah, well, if Red comes down, let her know I’m in the kitchen, and looking for her.”

“Don’t break anything in there.” Angel offered, keeping his eyes focused on the exciting story about mortgage rates dropping yet again this quarter. Still, he didn’t miss Spike’s parting gesture as he turned from the dining room and headed into the kitchen.

Spike went straight for the fridge, where he figured Angel kept all the blood. Sure enough there were rows of containers from the butchers. Pulling out the front container, Spike took a big whiff; ew, cow. How the hell did Peaches eat this stuff?

Angel had read almost one whole sentence before realizing he didn’t want Spike any where
near his kitchen unaccompanied so he followed him. “It’s not polite to make faces.”

“What the bloody hell are you doing with liters of cow? Have you gone insane?” Spike turned to his sire.

“I must have. After all, I let you in the front door.” Angel remarked, taking the container from Spike’s hand. He grabbed two coffee mugs from his cupboards and poured them both a cup.

“I’m not drinking that. It’s cold and disgusting.” Spike whined. He was starving from trying to survive without his bite, but he still had standards.

“That’s what the microwave is for.” Angel rolled his eyes, setting the cups in for fifty-six seconds. It had taken him a while to figure out the exact time to get it up to human temperature, but he had plenty of opportunity to experiment with it.

“That’s disgusting.” Spike commented.

“Well, get used to it; that’s all you’re getting here.”

They silently watched the cups go round and round, missing Asher enter. “Is one of those mine?”

“Bloody hell.” Spike muttered, noticing that both he and Angel had jumped back at Asher’s words, completely missing his entrance.

“Do all Americans keep their blood as you do? I know it must be convenient to heat up a cup on a whim, but don’t you miss the freshness of having your own pomme?”

“Tsk tsk, I thought you knew Peaches here better than that.” Spike bitterly teased his grandsire. “He’s a vegetarian.”

“I am not a vegetarian.” Angel snapped back.

“Then what do you call this crap?” Spike reached into the microwave for his cup.

“Well, obviously this crap is good enough for you to drink.” Angel grumbled, handing the second cup to Asher and getting another mug down from the shelf.

“You’re a git.” Spike grumbled in between sips.

“This is not human.” Asher commented after a single sip.

“See, he’s a bleedin’ vegetarian.”

“I don’t eat humans any more. That doesn’t mean I’m a vegetarian.” Angel bit back bitterly.

“Why do you avoid men? You were made for it.” Asher studied Angel carefully.

“It’s a long story.” Angel put his mug in the microwave, concentrating on his actions in hopes of not giving away any signs of emotion.

“Some gypsies cursed him with a soul, and he’s been acting like a git ever since.” Spike answered, between sips.

“Souls can be both good and bad. Human murderers do much worse than we do with their souls intact. That is no reason to avoid humans. This is no way to live.” Asher held up the coffee cup.

“That’s what I was trying to tell him.” Spike found himself agreeing with Asher.

“Look, it’s more complicated, alright?” Angel shrugged off the question. The nature of good and evil was a concept he had been struggling with for decades, and he doubted either Asher or Spike could add anything useful to his thoughts.

“Very well. Our pet will be down in a few minutes. I propose that I go shopping with her while you two stay here.”

“Hell no!” Both Angel and Spike answered.

“Why not?”

“I’m not letting that redhead out in public until she figures out how to fix this blasted thing.” Spike pointed to his head.

“I don’t want Spike around here all night. I have better things to do than clean up from one of his boredom spells.” Angel pouted

“Fine, then I shall take William along with me.” Asher replied.

“Hell no!” Spike interjected. “If you leave Willow and Angel alone together, they’re going to go back to Sunnydale, and probably kill the two of us on the way. What part of goody-goody soulboy didn’t you understand?!”

“Well, you are hardly in a position to guard her; you can not put up a defense if she tries to run away.” Asher pointed out angrily.

“Well fine, be that way!” Spike yelled, annoyed that his handicap got in the way.

“Fine!” Asher and Angel answered as they stormed out of the kitchen in opposite directions.

~ Initiative Conference Room, Monday, 4:00 pm~

“Alright men, we’re off patrol for the next 24 hours. I expect you to get plenty of rest during that time. Also, you’re to have your phones on you at all times in case one of the other units need back up. If you go out at all, be careful around the civilians. Remember, H.S.T.s can blend in with civilians, so remain diligent at all times. Any questions?” The three remaining Alphas shook their heads at Graham. “Dismissed.” Miller barked the command and the Alpha squad quickly filed out of the conference room.

Graham followed them out of the room, and back into the Lowell House front. “Gates, a word.” He called out, as the four Alphas turned into their rooms. Forrest held back, wondering what he had done to be singled out. “I was thinking of getting a cup of coffee; want to join me?”

“I suppose. Let me wash up first.” Forrest replied, heading back to his room. Graham passed Riley’s door and paused. He wished Riley could be there with them. He wasn’t cut out for leading his squadron. All day he had sent the Alphas out on missions that sounded hopeful at the time, and had amounted to wild goose chases. He just didn’t have that instinct Riley had for being in the right place at the right time.

Forrest met Graham at the door to Lowell House a few minutes later, dressed in his stylish civvies. “So are we heading for the cafeteria?”

“I was thinking we should head into town. What about the Espresso Pump?” Graham and Forrest began the short walk from campus to Main Street.

“So, what’s eating you?” Forrest finally asked, after Graham had placed his order.

“What makes you think something’s wrong?” Graham asked. “Can’t a guy just ask his friend to coffee?”

“Sure, but you only order extra whip if there’s something on your mind.” Forrest answered as they found a small table in the back.

“Okay, so I’m worried about Riley.”

“What about him?” Forrest frowned.

“Well, what happens tomorrow? Riley has office hours; the coeds will be looking for him. He can’t keep up the whole TA act if he’s being held by Walsh.”

“Is that all? I swear, Miller, you’re always gettin’ so restless over the dumbest stuff. If it bothers you so much, why don’t you sit through the office hours in Riley’s place, and try to find yourself a gullible cute freshman. I bet Buffy wasn’t the only coed worth bedding in Psych 101.” Forrest teased, then sobered up a bit at the sour expression on his friend’s face. “I’m sure Walsh will put a note on the door saying family emergency, don’t stress.”

“Well, yeah, for the first week, but what if he’s down there longer?”

“Why do you think he’d be down there longer than a week?”

“Well, I talked to him before we went on duty.”

“Does Walsh know you were at quarantine?” Forrest interrupted.

“Not exactly…” Graham proceeded to tell Forrest about the conversation. Neither of them noticed the man sitting at the next table over. He was easy to look over, not too tall, not too handsome, not too noticeable. Willy knew it was a gamble sitting next to the black man who had been to his bar earlier this week in search of the slayer, but Willy also knew that knowing what the slayer, and those stalking the slayer, were up to was good for business.

“So, you think if we let Summers out, she’d lead us to Rosenberg and 17, and they’d be somewhere in L.A.?” Forrest frowned. The idea that Rosenberg had been taken out of town didn’t seem too far fetched, but if it was right, they’d never be able to deal with the search radius.

“Do you have any other suggestions? I mean, we’ve gone through just about every inch of this town.”

“No, but what will Walsh say to this? She’s not going to want to send any units down to L.A.”

“I know, but we’ve got 24 hours of leave.”

“Don’t go there.” Forrest shot that idea down.

“Fine, but searching Sunnydale isn’t getting us any where.”

“Look, we’ve got Summers, maybe she’ll spill to Walsh, and Walsh will send us to L.A. anyway. I just think it’s a dumb idea to go down there without orders.” Forrest drained the last of his coffee. “So are we headin’ back?”

“Yeah, sure, I guess so.”

Willy watched the two men head out of the coffee shop, not even glancing in his direction. So they had Buffy hostage? Buffy’s annoying friend had fled to L.A.? He couldn’t wait to open his bar for the night. Business would be booming.

~ Computer City, Monday, 5:30 pm~

“Don’t get that one, get this one.” Spike picked a box out of the cart and threw it back onto the shelves.

“But that one costs more.” Angel grabbed the box and put it back in the cart, taking the box Spike had just put in back on the shelf.

“But it’s better. See, it’s got that extra thingy.” Spike switched the boxes again.

“But we’re getting this one.” Angel growled switching boxes.

“But that’s not what Red wants. She wants this one.”

“They’re the same thing.” Angel snarled, switching the boxes, again.

“No, this one is better. You just want the other one because it’s black and broody.” Spike pouted switching the boxes.

“Spike. Leave it.” Angel shoved the cart forward, getting Spike out of the way. “It’s just an extension cord.” Quickly he switched the boxes before turning down the next aisle.

“Excuse me gentlemen, can I help you find anything?” A helpful clerk approached the two men. It had been a slow night, and the clerks had been watching the two debate over extension cords for the last five minutes. He had lost rock-paper-scissors, and thus had gone over to greet them.

“Yes.” “No.” They disagreed.

“We’ve got a whole list of things we need. If you could direct us to the…” Angel pulled the list out again, even though he had nearly memorized the odd assortment of requests.

“Exactly, we’ve got a list, we don’t need this bugger’s help. He’ll be nothin’ but trouble.”

“It’s his job to be helpful, Spike; just let him do his job.”

“He’s going to pick up the wrong thing, and I don’t want to deal with the witch if you show up with the wrong thing.”

“We’re just as likely to pick up the wrong thing. After all, it’s not like you have a clue what a ‘min 18 gb with cdrw drive’ means.” Angel stumbled over Willow’s shorthand.

“So you gentlemen are interested in purchasing a computer?” the clerk’s eyes lit up at the thought of the commission.

“Yes, here we…”

“Don’t hand him the bloody list, we’ll never see it again.” Spike interrupted. Angel’s return growl caused the clerk to jump back. “Fine, be that way. Just don’t come running to me when Red fries you to a crisp. I told you so.”

“I’m never going shopping with you again.” Angel mumbled.

The clerk meanwhile was looking over the list, quickly he glanced into the cart. “I can help you find this stuff, no problem. Oh, by the way, you’ll want a surge protector included in your utility strip.” He quickly swapped boxes, unknowingly putting in the box that Spike had been trying to get into the cart for the past five minutes.

“Ha! I told you so! It’s got the extra thingies.” Spike gloated.

“Well, obviously, the clerk must know what he’s talking about if he’s agreeing with you.” Angel replied sarcastically.

“Fine be that way. I’m going to check out that stuff.” Spike wandered away whistling smugly to himself.

“Um, sir, are you feeling alright? You’re eyes are sort of…” The clerk shrunk back from Angel.

“Just get the list and I’ll be okay.” Angel shook his head. How did he get into these situations?

~Hyperion Hotel, Monday, 5:35 pm~

“So.” Willow rocked back on her heels, sighing. She and Asher had seen Angel and Spike drive off to the computer store, and now she found herself alone with the seductive vampire.

“Oui?” He turned to look at her, shaking himself out of his more depressing thoughts.

“So, what do we do now?”

“What would you like to do?” He offered amicably.

“Ask Giles for help? Go back to Sunnydale?” She asked hopefully.

“Oh.” Asher looked as though he was thinking it over seriously. “No, I am sorry, that can not be arranged. However, there are delivery menus from five different restaurants which Monsieur Angelus has left on the kitchen table. You may order dinner from one of them.”

“Oh.” Willow sounded sad, although she knew her request was a long shot.

“Do not look so morose; things are not as bad as they seem.” Asher placed his hand on Willow’s back and guided her away from the front window, towards the kitchen.

“Buffy is probably worried sick about me. She’s probably called up a search party, and when they find you…” She made a staking motion with her arm.

“Really? So dire? Your friends do jump to conclusions.”

“I’m not so sure they’d be jumping to the wrong ones though.” Willow answered. She’d been feeling guilty ever since she woke up. Sure, she knew she was safe, but no one in Sunnydale knew that. They were probably worried sick about her.

“How about we arrange a compromise?” Asher offered.

“Oh?” Willow looked up, surprised by the friendly smile on the half of Asher’s face that wasn’t covered by the veil of hair.

“Oui. I must send out a letter in the evening post. You may compose a letter to your friends, with my assistance of course, that we will mail at the same time.”

“Your assistance?”

“Of course.” His mouth twitched as though he was trying valiantly to hold back a laugh.

“What sort of assistance? I mean, I can read and write just fine.”

“I have no doubt of your intelligence. However, I also fear you would tell them where we are staying, and that is not acceptable. You may not be rescued until you have aided us with Monsieur Spike’s problem.”

“But after that? Can I be rescued?” Willow asked.

“We shall see, ma chaton. Perhaps I will not want to give up such a feisty pet; and when the time comes, perhaps she will not care to leave my side either.” Willow disguised her laugh with a
cough, but it turned into a real cough as she swallowed down the wrong side. “Why is that amusing?” Asher asked, trying hard not to show his wounded dignity.

“I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just… how do I explain this? I’ve spent the last three years helping my best friend slay you guys. It’s not like I’m going to start shacking up with one any time soon.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because… it’s not exactly healthy. You could infect me or something.”

“Why would I do a thing like that? You would not blush so adorably; I would not get to hear your pulse race when I enter the room; your fingers would not be so warm and tender. Why would I give that up?” He asked teasingly.

“Um, because the thought of my mortality would one night drive you to drastic measures; and in a fiery fit of passion you would kill me, only to have my best friend stake me the next day?” Willow shrugged, uncomfortable with the possible truth in her answer. “Ooh, Thai! We don’t have Thai delivery in Sunnydale.” She reached for the delivery menu, anxious to change the conversation.

“You like Thai food? Would you like to go to Thailand?” Asher offered, resting his hand on her waist.

“Um, maybe one day, but not now. Besides, I bet this isn’t really what it tastes like over there. Like do they really have General Tsao’s chicken in China? Do they actually eat pizza in Italy?”

“Oui, but it tastes better there.” He answered with a knowing smirk. “And the view is much better from the Piazza than the Pizza Hut.”

“Oh, you…!” Willow slapped him playfully. One day she’d know better than to ask rhetorical questions to people who had lived through everything. “Okay I know what I want; do you want me to get you something?”

“The delivery man will be fine.” Asher remarked, watching as Willow dropped the menu. Asher burst into laughter. “I was just kidding ma chaton. Why would I want a greasy delivery man when you are right here?”

“That’s not exactly helping your case there, buster.” Willow scowled at Asher.

“Fine, I apologize. No more food jokes.” He capitulated, seeing that Willow had found it a little funny after thinking about it, but wasn’t about to admit it.

“Okay, now, shush for a bit, I need to place my order.” Asher patiently waited at her side as she ordered dinner. As they put her on hold, he rested his chin on her neck, and began whispering meaningless French phrases in her ear, but quickly hushed when they put her back on.

“You’re going to be the death of me yet.” Willow sighed as she hung up the phone.

“Now who is making the jokes?” He smiled at the irony in her words.

“Aargh.” She growled lightly. “It’s not nice to whisper sexy words in someone’s ear when they’re on the phone.”

“Sexy words? I whispered no sexy words.” Asher feigned innocence. “I simply asked you if you were planning to order anything to drink, or perhaps a dessert.” He purred.

“Uh huh, sure, and Spike is the Pope and Mother Theresa’s love child.”

“Perhaps; although that would be quite a scandal and he always struck me as more of an honest bastard.” Asher teased.

Willow was going to scold, but he had a point; Spike was a bastard. “No fair. You’re supposed to be all stoic and enigmatic.”

“Oh? I am sorry, please forgive me m’lady.” Asher bowed low, in courtly fashion.

“Well, alright.” Willow giggled. “So we have an hour or so before my dinner gets here. Can we write that letter?”

“I was not providing enough of a distraction? Pity.” Asher shrugged. “As you wish, mademoiselle.” He picked Willow up, much to her surprise, and carried her into the study.

Setting her down at the desk, he pulled out a blank sheet of paper and a black fountain pen. “Okay, so how do I do this?” Willow looked at the paper, suddenly overwhelmed by the task in front of her. Here was her one chance to save herself, and she couldn’t think of a single witty way to leave a clue for Giles or Buffy.

“I believe you begin with Dear Monsieur Giles, or do you not use salutations in this country?” Asher answered, pulling up a chair so that he could look directly over her shoulder.

“Alright.” Willow nodded. “Dear Monsieur Giles,” she began, hoping the watcher would get the clue.

“That is not how you write his name. That is how I say his name, but not how you write it.” Asher picked up the paper and replaced it with a blank sheet. “Begin again.”

Willow sighed. How come leaving good clues seemed so easy in Nancy Drew mysteries? “Dear Giles,” She wrote. “As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been taken by the vampires, just not the ones who attacked Graham.”

“I am not sure you should say that last bit.” Asher commented.

“Why not? I didn’t say it was Spike who grabbed me. Just that it wasn’t the immature gang of fledglings.” Willow argued back.

“Very well, you may continue.” Asher sighed.

“They’re sort of only borrowing me for a bit so that I can fix their computer problems. They’re letting me write you a letter so that you don’t worry about me.” Willow frowned. “Can I tell him that I’ll write again in a few days if everything is okay?” Willow asked Asher.

Asher thought for a few moments before answering. “Oui. You may write again in a week.”

“A week? You really think it’s going to take that long?”

“I do not know how long it takes, but a week is a good length.”

“Fine.” Willow sighed. “I’ll write you again in exactly one week if everything is still okay.”

“That seems like an acceptable letter.”

“I don’t know. All it tells them is that I’m still alive, or at least I was alive when I wrote the letter.”

“Oui, that is the point. You may add a date to the top in your handwriting. That will give them more reassurance.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to add anything? Perhaps a ransom?” She offered hopefully.

“You are worth more than all the gold in France, and if your friends think that you may be bought with a measly ransom, then they are not truly your friends.” Asher replied, placing a chaste kiss on her temple. “Now sign it, so we may seal it and be done with that business.”

“That business is my only means of communicating with my friends.” Willow pouted.

“Oui, so you should be thankful for my generosity and repay me in kind.” Asher’s face was all business, causing Willow to falter a bit.

“By repay in kind, do you mean that you want me to write a letter for you in return?” She asked hopefully.

“That would be a fair exchange, no?” Asher pondered. “Unfortunately, my sire would not appreciate a letter in your hand. No. I had in mind a better game. If mon ange has not changed considerably since I last saw him, he will have a chess board around here. I request a game, as I have not played since Angelus left court, and I rather miss it.”

“Chess? Is that all?” Willow breathed a sigh of relief.

“Do not sound so relieved, you have yet to meet a worthy opponent. Now sign your letter so we may begin more entertaining endeavors.”

Willow signed the letter with a “Yours, Willow” and placed the letter on top of the envelope addressed express mail to some castle in France. “Can I be white?”
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