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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

Court and Spark - 6

~Hyperion Hotel Study, Tuesday, 1:21 p.m.~

Willow glanced up from the computer screen as the phone rang. “Are you going to get it?”

Angel glanced up from the stack of printouts he was combing through. “What?”

“The phone,” Willow glared at the plastic device on the wall as it gave another cheerful chirp.

“Oh, right.” Angel set down the stack of papers and crossed the room to the nearest phone. He had just about reached it when it clicked off mid ring. “I guess they hung up.” Angel shrugged and went back to his chair, eager to get back to the reading.

~Hyperion Hotel Basement, Tuesday, 1:21 p.m.~

“Time out!” Spike yelled, diving for the phone on the first ring. Asher caught himself midswing and honored Spike’s request to delay this parry. Spike picked up the phone and in his usual cocky tone, barked out. “Hey, what’s it to you?”

“Angel, is that you?” Xander cringed. The voice sounded all wrong, but it was the phone number in the little black book he had taken from Giles’ house so it must be right.

“Who is this?” Spike shifted his voice lower trying to impersonate his sire, and doing a crappy job of it.

“It’s me, Xander.” Spike’s eyes bugged out. The damn bastard had sold them out.

“You have the wrong number.” Spike muttered and slammed down the receiver. Asher saw a fiery determination in the younger vampire’s eyes, and got the distinct impression that the phone call was anything but a wrong number.

“What is the problem?” Asher asked not liking the glare menacing look on Spike’s face.

“The problem is we’ve got ourselves a little rat.” Spike snarled. “Time for some extermination; bring your sword.” And with that, the blonde was bounding up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

~Hyperion Hotel Study, Tuesday, 1:22 p.m.~

“Hey Willow, can you pull up anything more on this Hostile 17?” Angel asked thinking he had finally found something. “The description matches Spike, down to the leather duster.”

“Sure, just a minute.” Willow got out, right before Spike came storming up from the basement, Asher at his heels. Angel glanced up just in time to see Spike ram his sword through the stack of papers he was reading into the chair he was sitting on, barely missing hitting Angel himself.

“What the hell is your damage?” Angel snarled, jumping to his feet.

“My damage? As if you have to ask!” Spike pushed at Angel. “What the hell do you think my damage is, you bloody wanker!”

Angel snarled and pushed back. “Watch it boy, this is my lair, and you’re out of line.” Angel didn’t even notice Willow’s eyes widening as he fell back into the role he had always played with Spike.

“I’ve got a bloody thing in my head, that’s my damage!” Spike wasn’t about to fall into the role of fledge this time though. He picked up Angel and slammed him into the wall. “I’ve got one chance to get it out, just one. Do you think this is a game? Do you think I’m pulling some stunt for passing change? This is a matter of my bloody life and death. How dare you!”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Angel slipped his foot around Spike’s ankles and kicked hard, sending the blonde to the floor. “What are you talking about?” Angel pinned Spike to the ground. Both vampires were in full game face, their demonic yellow eyes daring the other to cry uncle.

“You called the whelp.” Spike ground out through his clenched fangs.

“No, I didn’t.”

“Oh yeah? You’re saying that it was just a coincidence that the git happens to drop you a line right after we brought his best mate to hide here?”

“Xander called?” Willow couldn’t help but be exuberant with that news.

Spike rolled his head to stare up at the bouncy redhead. “Yeah, luv, Xanpet says hi.” Spike offered Willow a saccharine smile full of malice. “My question is how did chubs get your number?” He turned his malice back to his grandsire.

“You’re insane.” Angel gave Spike a shove before standing up. “I’d no sooner call Xander for anything than I would call you.”

“Is that so?” Spike got up dusting himself off. “Well, I happen to remember a time not so
long ago, when that wasn’t such a far fetched idea. So what the hell were you doing calling the boy?”

“I didn’t call Xander.” Angel glared at Spike. A century ago, that glare would have meant the conversation was over, but Spike wasn’t the same weak William the Bloody Awful he had been.

Asher watched the two men posturing for round two and decided it was time to intervene. “Pardon me, but who is this person you argue over?”

“Xander Harris.” Angel sighed tiredly.

“Red’s best friend.” Spike added, clearly indicating that it must be all Angel’s fault.

“I’m telling you, I didn’t call Xander. I don’t even know how he would get my number.” Without Giles giving it to him, Angel added silently.

“So he may be calling on his on initiative, no? After all, he must have noticed ma chaton’s disappearance, and perhaps he was only going to ask if Angel had seen her in Los Angeles?” Asher posited.

“Or maybe something worse has happened.” Willow whispered the thought that had been nagging her. She could believe that her friends would consider asking Angel for help finding her if they thought she might be heading to L.A., but Xander would be the last person to pick up the phone to call. If Xander was calling, something must have happened to Giles. “We need to call him back.”

“Hell no!” Spike yelled.

“That’s not your decision to make.” Angel retorted.

“As ranking Council member, I believe it is my decision.” Asher said, silencing the two. “Before I make the decision I must know the facts.” Then he turned to Willow, “Now, my dear, why do you think we must call your friend back?”

“Xander hates Angel. He wouldn’t call Angel unless it was an emergency.” Willow tried to explain.

“And you do not consider your disappearance an emergency? That is very humble of you.”

“Oh, no, it’s an emergency alright, but Xander wouldn’t call. He’d go through Sunnydale looking door to door before he’d bother calling Angel. No, if everything else was okay, Giles or Buffy would call.”

“The slayer would call a vampire?” Asher asked in disbelief.

“You guys broke up amicably, right?” Willow asked Angel hopefully. The vampire just shrugged, not wanting to bring up that chapter of his life again. “Either way, Xander wouldn’t be the one calling Angel.”

“So you would recommend that Angel call Xander back?” Asher asked quietly. Willow nodded her head fiercely. “Do you not think that would look suspicious? After all, Monsieur Spike told your friend that it was a wrong number. If Angel were to call, that would clearly indicate that not only was Spike lying, but that someone is here who is familiar with your friend’s phone number.”

“What else can we do? We need to know why Buffy or Giles didn’t call.” Willow countered, hoping the vampire would see reason.

“I will call Monsieur Harris.” Asher announced. The other vampires laughed, but Willow smiled. Help would be on the way soon.

~Initiative Quarantine, Tuesday, 1:24 p.m.~

All three captives jumped up when they heard the gears of the door engage. “Rupert Giles, it’s time for you to see the doctor.” A soldier poked his head through the opening.

“Really, so soon? What a pity.” Giles said giving his two companions a wink. He walked over, taking his time to stretch as though he had gotten cramps from sitting so long. “So how long would you say it’s been since we’ve been checked on?” Giles asked the guard as he approached the door. “One hour? Maybe two? Three?”

At three, Riley and Buffy came storming out of the door, just as Giles ducked and rolled out of the way. Riley was able to hit the main guard, stealing his radio and pass card. Buffy knocked out two others and let Riley relieve them of radios and passes. “Get him!” Giles called, seeing the last of the Zetas high tail it to the next door check point. Riley winced knowing they could never get there in time, but Buffy dove for it. In a single leap, she managed to knock down the soldier and wedge herself in the closing door.

“Hurry up! I can’t just hold the door forever!” She called back. Giles and Riley ran for it and dove through the entrance just as Buffy felt the door begin to squeeze. She jumped out of the way as the doors slammed shut.

“Well, that was certainly exciting. How long do you think before they’re noticed missing?” Giles asked Riley, trying hard not too act too much like an old geezer. Giles prided himself in staying fit, but he knew he’d probably be the dead weight on this mission; it was hard to keep up with a slayer and a special ops soldier.

“We’ve got about five minutes, so we need to book it. This way.” Riley led them resolutely down the halls, exuding the confidence that had made him the Alpha unit leader. He just hoped the other two didn’t notice that he wasn’t completely familiar with all the passages coming out of quarantine; after all, he was trying to avoid any commonly used hallways, which he was more familiar with.

“Ah, broom closet.” Buffy remarked as the passed a door marked maintenance. “I don’t suppose we can get into the ceiling through one of those?”

“Why do you want to get into the ceiling?” Riley asked, leading them around another corner. Sometimes he wondered if Walsh had designed this building like her favorite rat maze.

“In my experience, no one ever looks up.” Buffy shrugged, her eyes were glancing every where. “I don’t like all these cameras.”

“Are you sure there aren’t cameras in the ceiling?” Riley couldn’t help but sound paranoid. He knew just how many failsafe methods there were backing up this place. If it weren’t for the fact that all units except Zeta had been called out, they would have been caught by now, easily.

“Giles, a hand?” Buffy asked. The watcher paused then offered her a knee. She jumped up on it, and popped open a ceiling tile, quickly moving it back. “Nope, it’s all darky up there. No cameras could work there.”

“Unless they were heat sensing or motion detecting.” Riley added pulling them into a doorway only moments before a group of scientists passed an adjoining hallway. They watched the scientists chatter past, oblivious to anyone else in the area. “Okay, the alarm hasn’t been raised yet, but we need to get out of this hallway, A.S.A.P.” Riley whispered.

“I’m telling you, ceiling tiles is the way to go.”

“If we can find the hot water piping and stay near that, we shouldn’t be detected on any of your spyware. Last I checked, heat sensing was not that precise.” Giles added.

“You’ve got a point.” Riley frowned. “There’s a men’s room up about twenty feet and to the left. Let’s aim for that.”

The three ran down the hallway, quickly ducking into the men’s room. Riley quickly checked all the stalls to make sure it was empty before ushering them inside. “Okay, there’s an emergency shower, I’m guessing that’s the best bet.”

The three crowded into the corner, with Giles pulling the curtain shut behind them. “Alright boys, a lift please?” Buffy asked. Giles and Riley soon found themselves supporting Buffy like a cheerleading pyramid. “You know, I never thought I’d see the day when I was in a shower with two guys. It’s kinda kinky when you think about it.” Buffy babbled as she pried the large grate off the ceiling. Giles rolled his eyes when he saw Riley blushing. “Score! I see pipage.” She peeked her head back down. “So I’ll get up here, Giles next, then you?” She asked Riley, who nodded. “Cool.”

She jumped up, making it look like a piece of cake. Giles then proved that wasn’t the case, when it took both Riley pushing and Buffy pulling to get him up into the ceiling. Riley followed, getting a good hand up by Buffy. “Alright, I know it’s going to be annoying, but we should move slowly, in case they put motion detectors closer to the cages and no talking. Test your steps before moving, we don’t want to fall through. This pipe should reach the main pipe if you keep it on your left.” Riley instructed, as though it were Alpha unit he was addressing.

“Aye, captain.” Buffy saluted then started the slow crawl up against the water pipes. It was clear who was really leading this expedition. Riley followed behind her, letting Giles take the rear. Just as Giles had finished replacing the grate, a blaring siren sounded, echoing through the ceiling crawlspace. “I think they noticed.” Buffy whispered, glancing back and smiling at the guys. Her smirk was lost though in the total darkness of the crawl space, and so began the long crawl.
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