Sunday Bloody Sunday - 2
~ Angel’s Mansion, Tuesday, 10:13 p.m.~
“You’re getting soft.” Angel watched Drusilla’s childe return from Asher’s room. Spike had that tender look that he had often worn when he thought no one was watching him attending to his sire. As soon as Angel spoke, Spike’s face resumed that tough mask he had adopted over time.
“Yeah, well, you’re one to talk.” Spike perched himself on the edge of the couch, like a rabbit ready to bolt at the smallest noise. “Why are you out here? Not part of the bleedin’ hearts club any more?”
“I’m not.” Angel tried to return to the paper he was reading, but Spike wasn’t up for that.
“So how do you like your replacement?” Angel tried to ignore him, but Spike saw that flinch that let him know his barb hit home. “Do you think he’s nailed her yet? Think she could do it with that toy soldier without breaking him?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you go in and ask her?”
“I’m chipped, not stupid.” Spike glanced at the dining room door.
“Could have fooled me.” Angel muttered, flipping to the next page.
After a few minutes of silence, Spike spoke up, more to comfort himself than to converse with Angel. “It’s only temporary, you know. I’m getting this out, and I’ll be back, badder than ever.”
“Sure ya will.”
“You don’t believe me?”
“Have you read any of these files? I doubt we’ll be able to find anyone skilled enough to get it out without making you a vegetable.”
“If they put it in, they can take it out.”
“It’s not that easy, Spike.” Angel pushed a pile of papers across the coffee table. Spike looked at Willow’s neat handwriting across the top sheet- “Spike = Hostile 17”.
“What is this?”
“I only read a few pages before we left L.A.” Angel shrugged.
“So you know what it is. What is it?”
“Maybe you should read it for yourself.”
“Asher taught me some interesting sword tricks this morning, and you’re a bit rusty, if you catch my drift, so I’ll ask one more time. What is it?” Angel glanced at the blonde vampire, not surprised to see the yellowed eyes and first hints of ridges coming across the young vampire’s features.
“It’s an experimental protocol. And don’t think I couldn’t take you.”
“Asher taught me for years; you’ve had a day. Trust me; it’ll come back faster than you could take me.”
“Not that, you git.”
“Oh.” Angel sighed. “You should read it for yourself.”
“Let’s just say, you were Hostile 17. Did you ever wonder what happened to the first sixteen?”
“No.” Spike was on the point of growling.
“At least you can still function.” Angel shrugged.
“They were fledglings.”
“For all practical purposes, so are you.”
“Hey! I’ve lived over a century. I’ve bagged two slayers. Don’t call me a fledgling!”
“Believe me William, you’re a fledgling. Hell, compared to the old ones, so am I. If you have any doubts, ask Asher. You’re nothing yet.”
“I hate you.” Spike snarled.
“Some things never change, and to think Darla always thought it was just Dru making you jealous.” Angel frowned. “Read the report.”
“What are you reading?”
“Something even more interesting.”
“You’re not the only military guinea pig under this roof, evidently.” Angel smirked.
“Read your own report.” Angel turned back to the pile of papers in his lap.
“They didn’t have enough time to put up reports on the slayer or watcher.”
“Nope.” Angel muttered.
“So it’s the toy soldier.”
“Well, ain’t fate a bitch.” Spike chuckled. No wonder Angel was reading so avidly. He may
have claimed he was over the blonde slayer, but Spike knew Angel was not one to forgive or forget anyone, soul or no.
"I guess that makes you fate’s son.” Angel muttered with a quirk of his lips.
“Har dee har har.” Spike groaned, settling into the couch. He picked up the stack of papers. “Let me know when twenty minutes have gone pass. I’m giving the lovebirds until then to settle up.”
“It’ll take you longer than that to read that stack.”
“I’m just saying…”
“Well don’t. I’m trying to read.”
~Angel’s Mansion, Tuesday, 10:28 p.m.~
“Riley, could you get me some water while you’re up?” Buffy called as the soldier headed to the kitchen.
As soon as he was gone, everyone leaned forward and began muttering in conspiratorial tones. “Okay Buff, who is he really, and why is he here?”
“He’s my psychology TA.” Xander wasn’t buying it. “And he helped Giles and me escape, so we’re going to be nice to him, understand? Why are you giving me that look?”
“You like him, don’t you?”
“Of course she likes him. He’s very well built for a human male.” Anya interjected.
“He’s a soldier.”
“He’s human at least.” Buffy remarked, temporarily losing whatever solidarity she had from Anya.
“Just because he’s a step up from your last boyfriend, doesn’t mean we get to induct him into our club.”
“Quit being jealous.” Anya hit Xander’s shoulder. “It’s not that great of a club.”
“It’s not a club at all; it’s my destiny, here.” Buffy was offended.
“It is rather late for you to be recognizing that.” Giles commented. “Still, Xander has a point. There are three dangerous vampires standing between us and Willow. We don’t need any complications.”
“So do we wait for daylight then stake them in their coffins?” Everyone jerked back guiltily as Riley entered the room, setting a glass of water down by Buffy.
“That would be rather hasty.”
“Are you sure? They seem shifty, especially the dark one.” Riley grabbed a piece of pizza.
“Um, Riley? Angel’s in the next room. He can hear everything we say.”
“Vamp hearing, gotta love it.” Xander smirked.
“So how are we supposed to rescue Rosenberg?”
“We don’t.” Giles answered, much to everyone’s surprise. “I do not think Asher or Angel will let any harm befall her, and Spike is not currently in a position to harm any of us.”
“Yeah, about that. I’m not so sure I buy his story.” Xander frowned.
“Oh, no, he’s right about that. We had behavior modification chips implanted in all of the incoming hostiles as a safety precaution.”
“Be that as it may, I think the bigger threat is the military presence. They are playing a dangerous game with the Hellmouth, not to mention their intentions to arrest us again.”
“I’m sure that was just a misunderstanding. Once we explain to Walsh what happened, everything will be fine. The U.S. military’s job is to protect American citizens like us.” Giles coughed and Anya whistled quietly while glancing at the ceiling. “You’re not American?”
“You make it sound like it’s a crime to be Norwegian. Thank goodness we didn’t tell you I’m an ex-demon.” Anya retorted.
“You’re a demon?”
“You’re a demon?!”
“Xander, honey, he’s insulting my honor. Defend me now.”
“Um, Riley, can we just drop this topic?” Xander looked hopefully at the man across from him, who held up his hands in surrender.
“Is that the best you can do?” Anya glared at Xander.
“What? It worked.” Xander shrugged, sharing a knowing glance with Giles and Riley. Women.
“Regardless, the fact remains that we do not yet have a strategy for dealing with that threat.”
“I still think we should turn ourselves in.” Riley repeated.
“If you want to go back to being a guinea pig, that’s your call, but I’m not going back.” Buffy announced.
“You wouldn’t be a guinea pig.” Riley tried to assure Buffy.
“On that point you’re wrong.”
“Ah yes, you’re back in town, and still no bell.” Xander muttered as the gang turned to stare at the vampire in the doorway.
Angel ignored the jibe and entered. “Willow’s already started the research and it doesn’t look good.” He set a stack of papers on the table.
“What is this?” Riley pulled the top report from the stack. “Progress report for Initiative Project 214 – you don’t have clearance for that! Where did you get this?” Angel shrugged. “Having this document is very illegal.”
“So sue me.”
“I’m serious. This is very wrong.”
“Just wait until you read it.” Riley wavered under Angel’s intense stare.
“What is it?” Giles asked what was on everybody’s mind.
“Why don’t you read it out loud, Finn- that’s your name, right?”
“I can’t.” Riley glanced back at the cover sheet. “Those clearance codes are only for Dr. Walsh, Dr. Angleman, Dr. Jones, and General McNamara.”
“Ah come on, live dangerously. I dare you.” Angel murmured in that taunting voice that William had spent a century trying to mimic.
Nervously, Riley flipped to the first page. “As per the last report, phase one of Project 214 has now been completed. An oral dosage of water soluble hormone extract from H.S.T. lymph has been proven stable. Phase two has been initiated. The first doses were administered to Alpha unit. Initial responses in Mitchell showed no change. Initial responses in Finn, Gates, and Miller included a rise in serotonin and testosterone production and a decrease in response times. Johnson showed increased hypertension, and will be evaluated at a lower titer…. What is this?”
“It appears to be a single blind study with you as the blind.”
“Oh my god, they’ve been experimenting on you without you knowing.” Buffy looked sympathetically at her potential boyfriend, while once again dashing her hopes of finding a normal boy.
“Do you mind, I think, I mean, I need…”
“There’s a courtyard through that door. I recommend you bring the whole report.” Angel answered. Riley excused himself leaving the room in an awkward silence.
“Well, I think we can safely say we know who the big bad is now.”
~ Initiative Quarantine, Tuesday, 11:42 p.m.~
Zoltan cracked open one eye, then shut it immediately. The sun was too bright. Somebody really ought to do something about it. He let out a slight groan, hoping someone would interpret that as “shut the damn lights off!” Sadly, the lights happily shone on.
“Mr. Zoltan, sir, are you awake?” A soft voice whispered from his left.
“Great, that’s good, that’s really… really… good.” The voice trailed off as the speaker lost his confidence, or was the speaker losing his lunch? It was a tough call without looking.
“Mrph?” Zoltan rolled his head towards the sound, trying to ask the speaker to turn down the volume.
“Mr. Zoltan? Are you okay?”
“What day is it? Is it Sunday? Bloody Sunday; why can’t it be Friday? “It’s Tuesday, Zoltan.”
“ Isn’t that nice? What year is it?”
“Um, Roman calendar?”
“The Romans are still here? Damn it. Whatever happened to those dinosaur chaps? They at least had good parties.”
“They went extinct.”
Zoltan tried opening his eyes again and would have jumped back if every bone in his body wasn’t already aching. Sitting in front of him was a very attentive looking Shar-pei or was it a Xoloitzcuintli? Whatever it was, it needed more developing because those red eyes did nothing for its complexion. Oh wait, it was just Clem. “Urg?”
“I’m sorry; I can’t get you any water because I think we’ve been arrested.”
“Arrested? The party wasn’t that good.” Zoltan winced. “On the other hand, this is a doozy of a hangover. Did I miss much after passing out?”
“I think the party was attacked before then.” Clem mused.
“Damn. Then I guess I didn’t get laid.”
“You’ve been in this cell with me all night.”
“So I didn’t get laid?”
“I should hope not! I think I would have remembered that.”
“Damn.” Zoltan sat up, wincing with every movement. Sure in an hour he’d be fine, but this hangover curse was the worst. It was the perfect curse - ever single time he drank, it reminded him not to goose Anyanka’s worshippers. Of course, now with her out of the field, maybe he could get D’Hoffryn to discontinue the curse. Ooh, deep thought. It was much too early for thinking thoughts. Or was it too late?
As he was musing over the possibilities of waiting out the hangover, he missed the armed men approach his cell, followed by a man in a lab coat. “Dr. Walsh’s instructions specified that any with unusual optic connections were to be selected for Project 314.” The scientist reminded the soldiers.
“Well I think this one qualifies.” The soldier pointed at Zoltan. “He’s got three eyes, and the middle one is weird.”
“Then, we’ll start with him. Can you prepare him for Exam Room 2? I’ll let Walsh know we have our first candidate.”
One soldier opened the door while two more rushed in. They were a bit surprised when Zoltan didn’t put up any resistance, other than to ask if he could call his lawyer. One soldier assured him that they were taking him to the phone, so he climbed aboard the gurney, waved goodbye to Clem and laid back, pulling the sheet above his head.
The soldiers shrugged, having seen stranger things in this hallway, and pushed Zoltan down the hall to the first operating chamber, where Walsh and Angleman were waiting. “This one should provide some interesting data. He has three optical inputs, although the third doesn’t look like a traditional eye.” Angleman muttered to Walsh.
“Is it homologous to an ommatidium?” Walsh looked at the sheet covered lump.
“I’m not sure.” Angleman answered, pulling the sheet down.
“Ah, too bright!” Zoltan’s hands immediately covered his face. “Turn down the bloody lights. And it is not homologous, I’ll have you know! Imagine comparing my powers to an insect’s light spot. How rude! Now, if you’ll show me to the phone so that I may call my lawyer, I’m sure we can resolve all the charges.” Zoltan thought he said. What came out was slightly more slurred, and in Russian.
“Soldiers, subdue him.” Walsh ordered as Zoltan tried to stand. As one tried to grab him, he swung out, knocking him back. He easily beat the three soldiers who were trying to wrestle him back to the operating table. “Angleman, subdue him.” Walsh frantically cried.
“What do you want me to do? If I try to move, it puts my back up against the wall!” Angleman panicked, seeing how easily the three soldiers fell.
Zoltan turned to him, the words finally processing. “You’re trying to attack me, aren’t you?” Sure he was slow, but he wasn’t stupid. Zoltan turned the full force of his gaze towards the short balding man in the lab coat.
Just as the red beam shot from his head, a large needle of anesthesia jabbed into his neck. Zoltan sank to the ground, the beam narrowly missing the man and leaving a trail of paint bubbles all the way to the floor.
“Really, Angleman, grow up.” Walsh muttered.