Court and Spark - 3
~ Hyperion Hotel, Tuesday, 11:41 a.m.~
Willow’s nap only lasted a few hours, but it was enough of a respite that she was ready to get back to work. “Do you want me to take care of Monsieur Spike?” Asher asked quietly, as Willow moved off the bed.
“What does that mean?” She asked, hiding a yawn in the darkness.
“It means I will take him to the room downstairs that Angel keeps his weapons in. I have a feeling that Monsieur Spike has not learned the proper technique for most of the standards and if he hopes to move up in the ranks of the family, he must learn.” Asher stood up to stand directly behind Willow following her to the door.
“Hrm, part of me says that’s a good idea, but another part of me doesn’t want Spike learning anything that would help him against Buffy.” Willow answered thoughtfully.
“I would instruct William whether you approved or not.” Asher answered smiling. “He is of my line and it is a matter of pride that Belle Morte’s line should never be bested by another line in a fair duel.”
“So if it’s so important, why didn’t anyone teach Angel and Spike this stuff long ago?”
“Who said anything about Angel? As a matter of fact, I have instructed l’ange in the style of our line. Why else do you think he hates me?” Asher’s smile looked devilishly handsome, emphasis on the devil. The smile on his face faded slowly. “It is a pity.”
“What’s a pity?”
“He was perhaps the best pupil Belle Morte has ever saddled me with. He could have been awarded a territory, perhaps all of Britain, but then the curse, and a madman’s soul removed all hope.”
“Hmm?” Asher glanced up from his melancholy thoughts.
“Why should a soul remove his hopes?”
“Honestly, I do not know. He took himself out of the running; it was not forced on him. Perhaps one day he will be well enough again to take his responsibilities seriously. Hopefully, that will be before the New World has been completely partitioned, or he will never find sanctuary. He was very powerful. His childe will be as powerful too, if his impediment is removed. Perhaps he can achieve what Angel cannot.”
“Well, if you can convince Spike that he needs to learn anything from you when he could be harassing little ol’ me, then more power to you. However, I doubt he’ll fall for it...”
An hour and several insults to his manhood later, Spike was busily occupied getting thoroughly creamed by Asher’s rapier. Willow meanwhile, had settled down in front of the computer for another round. “Bingo!”
“You found something?”
“Eep!” Willow spun around to find Angel standing in the doorway. “How long have you been there?”
“Awhile.” Angel shrugged.
“Well, don’t. It’s creepy.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I’ll go.” Angel ducked his head and turned to leave.
“No, I didn’t mean that. I meant not saying anything. Xander was right; we should put a bell around your neck. If you’re going to watch you may as well come all the way in and sit down.” Willow turned back to the computer and resumed her typing.
“Oh.” Angel muttered quietly, contemplating Willow’s comments for a few moments before resolving to enter the room. He slipped into the chair across the table from Willow. “So do you need any help? Not that I can do anything with that…” He stared at the computer, frustrated.
“Actually, yeah, can you look these coordinates up? You can use an old-fashioned map, if you’ve got one.” Willow threw him the piece of paper Spike had wadded into a ball.
He looked at it for a minute then disappeared into his study. He returned carrying a large atlas. After a few minutes of quiet page flipping and key tapping, Angel looked up. “Did you mean to give me the coordinates to Sunnydale?”
“Well, I don’t get that fine scaled on this map, but it looks like it.” Angel answered.
“Great.” Willow smiled and handed him a page from the legal pad she had been writing on. “What do you make of this?”
Angel scanned through the page. “It sounds like a description of some sort of demon. It fits a couple different species though. Does that mean you’ve found the people that took Spike?”
“Maybe.” Willow bit her lip in frustration as she stared at the screen. “Hrm, if I just…” She smiled as she typed. “Here we go.”
“What?” Angel looked up hopefully.
“Well, this morning I got into a doctor’s files, but then got kicked out. Right now I think I found the account for one of the soldiers. I got a logon for someone named pansy1, and what a dork- his password is millertime.” Willow clicked a few times, “Oh yeah, paydirt.”
“What is it?” Angel moved to the other side of the table to look over her shoulder.
“How about this, Alpha unit capture log? We can look by month.” Willow clicked on one of the user menu options.
“Um, can you print them out? That way we’ll have hard copies in case you get kicked off again.”
“Hrm. I think that would work.” Willow clicked the mouse a few times. “Yikes, this is going to take awhile. It’s about fifty pages for this past month.”
“Well, we only need this month right? We just need to find if they were the ones to get Spike, and what they did to him.” Angel answered.
“Okay.” Willow leaned back in the chair. “Well, I guess we just wait for a bit.” She sighed as the printer came to life, whiring and clucking.
“Oh.” Angel leaned back in his chair, suddenly self-conscious of how close he was sitting to the girl. They thought in silence as the first page came out.
“So Asher says he used to teach you sword fighting.” Willow said, wanting a conversation of some sort.
“Oh really?” Angel arched a brow.
“He did, among other things.” Angel sighed. “That was his sire’s way of getting revenge- assigning him to babysit the fledges, I guess.”
“He said he needed to teach Spike how to fight. Something about tribal tradition.”
Angel snorted. “Tribes, I guess that’s a good way of describing it. Just don’t say that too loud in France.” Angel’s eyes stayed fixed on the printer. “Still, I’m surprised he’d think it was worth it.”
“Well, William, he’s just so young.”
It was time for Willow to snort. “Young? He’s over 100.”
“Okay, wrong word.” Angel surrendered. “He’s rash. He likes to be impulsive. He’s exactly the opposite of Asher. Asher plays the games at court. He’ll set up a revenge that will take twenty years before it’s complete, and not even consider speeding things up. It’s funny that he would be grooming Spike to take over the family business.”
“Well, Spike may be rash, but he’s a good fighter. He’s taken down two slayers already.”
Angel glanced up at Willow seeing the seriousness in her eyes. “Don’t worry. He won’t get Buffy, not if I can help it.”
Willow frowned. “How can you say that? He’s come so close.”
“And I wasn’t there.” Angel sighed, filled with self-loathing and frustration. “I’m sorry, Willow.”
“Sorry about what?” Willow watched the thoughts run across Angel’s face as he struggled for an answer.
“There are so many ways I let you down. I can’t keep Buffy happy if I stay, but I can’t keep her safe if I’m away. Whatever I do, it hurts, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you and Xander get dragged into all of this demon stuff even though you never did anything to deserve it. I’m sorry Spike dragged you down here.”
“Well, hey, it’s not so bad.” Willow felt like patting him on the head and saying ‘there, there’, but wasn’t sure if that would be an incredibly insulting thing to do to a vampire.
“I just wish I could do something more.”
“I know what you mean.” Willow sighed. “I feel so confused about all this.”
“Really?” Angel looked up surprised.
“Well, yeah. Here I am, and well, yeah, not so much by my choice, but still. Part of me thinks it must be against my will because I’d never do anything to help Spike, ever.
I mean, not only is he evil, but he’s also really obnoxious. There are times this week when, if he thought for sure I was watching him, he’d act even more obnoxious than usual. But then there are times… he’s really in pain. He doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s hungry, and scared, and confused.”
“I know.” Angel whispered.
“So what do I do?”
“I called Giles.” Willow perked up. “He wasn’t in. I left a message though.” Angel answered carefully. “When he calls back, we’ll arrange some believable way for Buffy to rescue you okay? And maybe your group can help with Spike’s problem too.”
“Why don’t you just rescue me now?” Willow looked at him curiously.
“Because I think Asher likes you.” He held up his hand as Willow started to protest. “I don’t know for sure, and I’m not even going to try to explain it. Just trust me. If it came down to a fight with Asher, I’d lose, and you’d be no better off.” Willow swallowed the words down as though they were bitter pills. “Give me another 200 years and maybe I’ll be able to fly too, but until then, it’s best if Buffy does the rescuing, okay?” He offered her a feeble smile that she tried to return. “The printer’s done.”
“Oh!” Willow turned back to the computer. “Can you read through that while I see what else I can get?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Angel winked, picking up the stack of paper and heading to his reading chair in the other room. “And thanks.”
“For what?” Willow frowned.
“For being you.” He muttered, walking out the door.