Court and Spark - 7
~Hyperion Hotel, Tuesday, 1:34 p.m.~
Asher was true to his word despite the others insisting that it was the worst plan imaginable. He picked up the phone and carefully punched in the numbers Willow told him. He waited patiently through two rings before the phone picked up. “Bonjour, is this Monsieur Harris?”
“Ooh, you speak French.” A woman’s voice replied, with a bit of a lilt. “Vous…”
“Anya? Honey? Who’s on the phone?” Asher could hear in the background.
“Some French guy is asking for you.” Anya replied. “He sounds sexy.”
“I really didn’t need to know that.” Asher couldn’t help but hide the small grin as he heard the man approach. “Can I talk to the French guy?”
“I suppose.” The woman groaned. “Au revoir!” She chirped before passing the phone off.
“Bonjour. I take it, you are Monsieur Harris.”
“Who wants to know?” Xander asked suspiciously.
“I am Asher.” Asher admitted.
“Get out of town!” Xander said in disbelief. What were the odds that he’d get a phone call from a vampire during the day? Actually, he was expecting a call from a vampire. Where was Angel? Was this guy behind all the disappearances?
“Oui. I am already out of town. That is perhaps the problem. By any chance, do you know how I could get a hold of Monsieur Giles?”
“He’s not in.” Xander replied, motioning for Anya to bring a pen and paper. “Do you want me to give him a message when I see him again?”
“Do you know when he may be in?” Asher frowned, sitting down in one of the plush armchairs in the study. The other three watched him carefully, for once forgoing their constant bickering.
“He’s kind of tied up at the moment.” Xander winced.
“Literally or figuratively?” Asher asked, wondering if the man on the other end was capable of ever saying what he meant. Spike let out a sharp laugh, but was immediately hushed by Angel and Willow, intent on listening in to the conversation.
“Um…” Xander looked to Anya for advice but she just shrugged.
“I believe he may be in some danger.” Asher said. Okay, so Asher had no idea what sort of danger, but it seemed like a good tactic to take. Mortals often responded to vague death threats.
“What have you done with him?!” Xander immediately snapped to attention.
“Me? I have done nothing, but I need to speak with him.”
“Are you his secretary?” Asher retorted. Willow glared at him, and Asher ducked his head bashfully. It would not due to have a child frustrate him so. He quickly amended his statement. “If you are, please take down the following information. For information about the upcoming conflict he must contact the local Council liaison, Monsieur Ange, at the following number.” Asher then proceeded to give his cell phone number to the boy. “I can provide no further aid at this time without jeopardizing my own position. Please have Monsieur Giles call Monsieur Ange as soon as possible.” Asher hung up without giving Xander a chance to respond.
“What was the point of that?” Spike spoke what was on everyone else’s mind. Asher looked around to see three pairs of eyes glaring at him.
“The boy will call. Angel will speak to him. We will ignore Spike’s rude transgression, and no one will be the wiser.” Asher shrugged as though the plan was obvious. He tossed his cell phone to Angel. “Now we must simply wait.”
~ Initiative Labs, Tuesday, 1:38 p.m.~
Dr. Walsh washed down her vitamins with a cold glass of water and winced. It seemed like this day would never end. She spent just a few hours topside to fix her slides for this week’s class, and all hell broke loose down below. The officer in charge of containment had doubled up every cell because suddenly they needed to use the quarantine quarters for quarantine. Alpha and Eta units had engaged in a firefight and now had some sort of bizarre sickness, and to make matters worse, no one could account for Finn and the two civilians. At least all of the exits were well guarded and nobody had left the building. They were obviously hiding in some back room or closet somewhere, probably waiting for shift change. Hopefully Zeta unit would find them first.
Grabbing her lab coat and clipboard from her office, she made her way to the quarantine communications room. The attending officer snapped to attention and offered her his chair from which she could see the screens for all the rooms. Hastily she paged the room where Agent Miller and Agent Gates were currently positioned. “Agent Miller.” She stated, watching the two men turn to the camera. Agent Miller attempted to salute, but ended up leaning over the edge of the bed and throwing up into the trash can.
“Agent Gates?” Maggie tried again.
“Yes ma’am?” Forrest turned his attention from Graham’s hacking to face the camera again.
“Can you explain what happened?”
“Yes ma’am. We were following our mapped out patrol route. Alpha squad included the abandoned high school site. Mitchell and Johnson were scouting the flanks and found every entrance guarded by light-tolerant H.S.T.s. They radioed for back up, with Eta and Alpha squad responding. When we arrived there, two H.S.T.s resembling ichthyoids were guarding the main entrance and opened fire. We took cover and attempted to return fire. Approximately five minutes into the engagement, another H.S.T. entered the scene. It could speak and understand English and was obviously a different species than the others. It attempted negotiations with Miller, but Miller refused to compromise, and it fired some red ray out of its forehead directly at Miller. The rest of the Alphas got a bit of a flash, but Miller got the full hit, and we attempted to return the volley when something strange happened. It retreated and the ichthyoids ceased fire. It was then when I noticed the rest of the Alpha squad falling ill. We returned to headquarters as fast as possible and entered quarantine. I recommend a page to all units to avoid the high school until you have enough of a force to attack in full.”
“Your suggestion has been noted.” Maggie scribbled a note to herself on the clip board. She was about to say something when one of the other doctors approached her.
“Dr. Walsh, there’s something very odd about the Alpha unit. We ran blood work as soon as they arrived, as you requested.”
“What is it?” Maggie snapped.
“They’re all testing positive to the Spanish flu.” The doctor shrugged.
“That’s impossible. The only specimens known are in Greenland and the CDC. They can’t have Spanish flu.”
“That’s what I said, but I had the technician double check it. Sure enough, they are all producing antibodies to Spanish flu.”
“Could this day be any worse? Wait, don’t answer that.”
~Hyperion Hotel, Tuesday, 1:44 p.m.~
“So about this waiting for Xander to call plan? I’m not sure it’s the best idea.” Willow nervously admitted as the group stared at the cell phone. It had been ten minutes and no one had moved from their original spots.
“For once, I’ve got to agree with the girl.” Spike rolled his eyes. “We can’t just sit here all day. If nobody has a better plan, I’m going back downstairs.” He began pacing nervously. Willow thought he was acting like a caged tiger. Of course, after going how many days without feeding, that might not be such a bad metaphor. Spike took one last glare around the room then headed for the stairs.
“Actually, Spike, hold up.” Willow frowned, reaching for a stack of papers. “Can you go through this and see if anything sounds familiar?”
“Oh bloody hell, not more books. I’m not one of your damn white hats!” Spike grabbed the stack of papers and tossed them across the room.
Faster that Willow could follow, Angel was at Spike’s side, squeezing his arm. “Apologize to Willow.” Angel snarled. Spike just glared in response. “Now.” Angel squeezed a bit harder. Spike looked over at Asher, whose glare was even worse than Angel’s. Clearly neither of the older vampires was going to put up with Spike’s temper.
“Sorry, Red.” Spike growled out.
“Um, I forgive you?” Willow squinted in confusion.
“Now pick up the papers.” Angel released Spike, adding a little push. “And read them.”
“I don’t want to waste my time…” Spike began.
“Monsieur Spike, you are wasting your breath if you are trying to impress us with your manly temper. We all know you are quite literate and able to handle whatever assignments ma chaton is willing to hand you.” Asher stopped the younger vampire’s rant.
Uneasily, Spike scooped up the papers that had various passages highlighted by Angel. Grudgingly he sat down next to Willow. He hated all of them, but at least Willow wasn’t strong enough to pound him into the ground.
“Sorry.” Willow whispered as Spike picked up the top piece of paper. He just rolled his eyes. If he was honest with himself, he would have to admit he hated himself far more than he hated Willow at the moment. It was wrong to be so helpless and dependent. Unfortunately, it was impossible to sit on the opposite side of the room from himself, so he’d settle for maximizing distance from his grandsire.
“Is there anything I can do, my dear?” Asher’s voice had quickly shifted from icy to honeyed as he turned his attention back to the redhead. His hand trailed along the back of her chair, barely brushing her hair.
“Actually, since we have time, sure. I printed out some reports that are still on the printer.” Willow nodded to the machine across the room. “Maybe you can go through them and see if anything sounds like a surgical procedure to you?”
“But of course.” Asher purred, brushing his hand lightly across her cheek before crossing the room to get the papers. He smiled, wondering if she could hear the two younger vampires growling softly at him.
Angel resumed going through the papers and Willow returned to the laptop. She couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous. Her keyboard was making too much noise; even her breathing seemed abnormally loud when compared to the three other people in the room.
Suddenly there was a chirping coming from Angel’s pocket. Willow was the only one who would admit to yipping, but in fact it startled everyone in the room. Angel fumbled with the small phone for another ring. “Hello?”
“Monsieur Ange?” An unsteady voice asked.
“Who is this?”
“Um, this is Giles. I mean, Monsieur Giles. I mean, Rupert Giles.” Xander fumbled, trying to fake a British accent, and failing miserably.
“Xander, is that you?” Angel decided it was time to put the boy out of his misery.
“Um, if I said yes, would that be a bad thing?” Xander asked.
“It depends.” Angel looked questioningly at Asher, not sure how the senior vampire wanted to plan this. Asher just nodded as though to say ‘carry on’.
“Who is this?” Xander asked.
“It’s Angel.” Angel’s eyes were fixed on Asher by this point, waiting for any sign that things were wrong. “Why are you calling?”
“I was told to ask for Monsieur Ange.” Xander answered, clearly confused.
“You’ve found him.”
“So, what’s the big message of doom?”
“Can I speak to Giles?” Angel figured that would be the best way to go. “I’ve been trying to reach him all morning but he’s not picking up.” At that admission, Spike’s nostrils flared, but he refrained from attacking, at least until after this phone call was through.
“Oh god, I don’t know.” Xander answered truthfully. “I think something’s taken him, along with Buffy and Willow. I’ve stopped by their places and it looks like they haven’t been there for a day or so.”
“Giles and Buffy are missing? That’s not good.” Angel repeated, watching Willow’s eyes widen.
“And Willow too!”
“Um, not really?” Angel answered.
“Not really?” Xander frowned. What kind of answer was that?
“We’re sort of borrowing her for technical assistance at the moment, but we’ll bring her back.”
“What the hell does that mean? If I find out you’ve harmed one hair on Willow’s head…!” Willow could hear Xander shouting from across the room.
“She’s fine.” Angel said, holding the phone back a bit from his ear.
“Why should I believe you?” There was an awkward silence as Angel and Asher exchanged some frantic hand signals, and Willow found the phone was thrust at her.
“Um, hi? Xander, are you there?”
“Willow? Willow!” Xander cheered.
“Hi?” Willow smiled.
“Why haven’t you called? Where are you?”
“Um, it’s sort of a long story. I’m in L.A., and well, the thing about being abducted by vampires is that they don’t really offer you a free phone call.”
“You were abducted? I’ll kill Angel!”
“No wait! Don’t kill Angel! He didn’t know about it. Look, it’s a long story, but basically, they just needed me to hack into the government’s computers. I’m not actually getting killed or anything.”
“Willow, what’s going on? Buffy’s gone, Giles is gone, you’re gone, and the monsters are getting restless.” Xander asked worriedly.
“We think it’s a government conspiracy.”
“Well, duh. But what are we going to do?”
“What do you mean, well duh?”
“These soldier dudes broke into Giles house while I was there. I think they have Buffy and Giles.”
“Ruroh.” Willow frowned.
“And it gets worse. The demons all know Buffy’s out of commission. They’ve got a big shindig planned tonight to celebrate.”
“Like an apocalyptic shindig?” Willow winced.
“Oh yeah. We’re talking party of the century.” Xander frowned.
“How do you know? Was there a prophecy?” Willow couldn’t help but wonder. Prophecies might actually help in this case. Anything could help in this case.
“No. Anya got a personal invite.” Xander rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, you’re telling me.”
“Um, well, I can’t get there until after dark.” Willow hemmed.
“We’re not going to Sunnydale.” Spike interjected.
“You don’t really have a say in this, William.” Angel glared at the petulant childe. “Willow, I’m not sure we’ll get much done in Sunnydale.”
“Um, can you wait a minute Xander, I’ve got to talk some sense into my captors.”
“Okay?” Xander shrugged. What else could he say?
Willow turned to the three guys. “I can hack into a computer just as easily from the dorm as I can from here. We need to go back.”
“Are you kidding?! I ….” Spike was cut off as Angel stated the more obvious excuse. “Willow, if they have Buffy, undoubtedly they have your room staked out. You can’t go back to the dorm.”
“Well, fine, we can go to my parent’s house. The point is they have Buffy. If we don’t rescue her, the town will go to Hell, literally. I know you don’t want to go back, Spike, but think of it this way. The answer to your head is back in that building. If we can’t even reach the building, we’re never going to get it out. We need Buffy on this.”
“Now, Willow.” Angel frowned, not eager to face Buffy anytime soon.
“Do you people even think about what you’re saying? You expect a group of vampires to go rescue the slayer? Are you daft, girl?!”
“No, and if you’d think with your head instead of your macho-ness, you’d realize that I’m right!” She shouted back. “God, Spike, you’re such an idiot!”
“Spike’s there?!” Xander’s voice cracked over the phone line.
“Um, yeah?” Willow cringed returning to the phone.
“Hell yeah, I’m here. And you can tell that boytoy of yours, we’re not going back to that place!” Spike insisted.
Willow winced as Spike, Angel, and Xander resorted to yelling names at each other across the phone line. “ENOUGH!” Asher shouted. “Ma chaton, tell your friend that we will leave here at dusk. Arrange a meeting place. Clearly, we will need to break into this facility both to rescue your friends and to find the cure for Monsieur Spike. There is no point delaying the inevitable.” The group watched in awe as Asher let his full power be felt. A moment with his shields down was enough to let them know who really was in charge.
“Um, Xander? I’ll meet you at my parent’s house, say seven-ish? Okay? Bye.” Willow muttered quickly.
“Okay, see ya then.” Xander said faintly, not quite sure what just happened, but guessing it had something to do with the French vampire.
“Now then,” Asher smiled sternly at the group. “We have almost five hours before we have to leave. My lovely, if you could find any maps of your town or school, that would be most helpful. Monsieurs, you have an hour to pack, and then I expect you back here assisting ma chaton. Please start your packing now.” Nobody had any complaints, at least not that they would express aloud.