Sunday, Bloody Sunday - 5
~Initiative Quarantine, Wednesday 3:30 p.m.~
“Did somebody get the license plate of that?”
“Zoltan! You’re alive!” Clem hurried over to the older demon’s side.
“That surprises you? Hello, immortal here.” Zoltan rolled his eyes, groaning as he sat up. “What happened?”
“Well, those soldiers came and got you while you were still, you know, and…”
“… and that evil woman took advantage of me while I was drunk! How dare she!”
“They took advantage of you and poked your eye out?!”
“They what?!” Zoltan reached up to touch his forehead and hit a pad of gauze. “Aaah!”
“Aaah!” Clem yelled in agreement. After all, if these humans had taken out Zoltan, he didn’t stand a chance. Zoltan peeled off the gauze to reveal a perfectly healthy third eye of doom. “But Zoltan, your eye is fine.” Clem was confused.
“Well of course it’s fine. Immortality would really suck if it didn’t come with instant healing powers. Any idiot knows that.”
“Then why the yell?”
“Look, just look!” Zoltan tilted his head towards Clem. “They got gunk in my hair!”
“Is that all?”
“Is that all, he says! Do you know how hard it is to get my pompadour this pomp? I’m going to kill Anyanka.”
“Her stupid followers and their stupid curses; I’m going to kill her!”
“No! Don’t kill Anya!” Clem cried.
“You’re right; what was I thinking?” Zoltan sighed. “Killing’s too good for her. She deserves something chronic and painful. Hey Clem, do you know if Anya’s had the chicken pox yet?”
“Oooh, I know! The bunny pox!”
“The bunny pox? I’ve never heard of the bunny pox.”
“Of course not; I just made it up. What fun would being a pestilence demon be if I couldn’t make up my own diseases? It’s perfect.”
“Anyanka hates bunnies.”
“That’s why it’s perfect. Come on, let’s go.”
“Um, Zoltan, they kinda locked the door.” Clem nodded to the solid glass panel that had no handle on their side.
“Doors? We don’t need no stinkin’ doors!” Zoltan chuckled at his own wit. “We’ll just hop out of this dimension, and then pop back in, closer to where Anya is.”
“What, you think the only thing that trick is good for is collecting smurf juice? Come on, we’re demons of the nineties, we can do this.”
“Zoltan, I don’t think the humans are in the nineties anymore.”
“So use the dolphin chronologies. They’re more accurate anyway. Are you coming?” Zoltan stood up and dusted his suit off. “Ugh, when I get home these trousers are going to get burned. I mean, really, that crease will never come out.”
“Sure, let’s go.” Clem reached out and grabbed Zoltan’s shoulder just as the two blinked out of existence.
A minute later sirens sounded throughout the Initiative. “CODE ZEBRA!” The intercom blared. Soldiers poured down the quarantine hall expecting to find a battle, some downed men, or at least a broken door. Instead they faced an empty cell with no sign of either occupant. “Damn it. Not again.” Zeta captain groaned.
~Angel’s Mansion, Wednesday, 3:35 p.m.~
Clem and Zoltan arrived at the driveway leading up to the mansion. The grass was overgrown, but the choice of exotic trees in the front clearly indicated someone rich once lived there. “Well, ain’t that a swanky pad! If I had known Anyanka had this place, I think I would have asked her to host the party instead of D’Hoffryn. I mean, really, this place probably has a ballroom the size of that old school gym.” Zoltan gazed up at the vaulted ceiling and long narrow picture window.
“I don’t think this is Anyanka’s place.” Clem frowned. Sure he was a little dazed from the party, prison, and dimension hopping, but he had been to Anyanka’s apartment just last week, and could have sworn there were no chinaberry bushes in the front … not to mention a long private driveway and at least three stories.
“Sure it is. The tracking spell clearly indicated that she is here.”
“But she lives in a yellow building with fake shutters and her neighbor has a yard gnome.” Clem tried to reconcile his memory with the view in front of him.
“Well, maybe she’s moved. Have you thought of that?” Zoltan strode up to the door and knocked sharply while Clem approached the door with more hesitation.
Hearing the knock, Asher slipped out of the redhead’s arms and went to answer the door. “Who is it?” He called out.
“It’s Zoltan and Clem.” Zoltan replied confidently as Clem tried to duck behind him. Clem was no idiot. He could tell that voice was definitely not Anya’s, and he didn’t live through seven major wars as a pacifist by not knowing when to hide.
“Peculiar.” Asher muttered, but recognized the names for what they were. He stepped behind the door then opened it, trying to avoid the late afternoon rays.
Zoltan peeked inside without seeing anybody. Even Clem peeked around, surprised not to see anyone at the door. “Hello?”
“Are you two coming inside, or no?” Asher asked, wincing at the sight of sunlight on the hardwood floors.
“Ah, yes, of course.” Zoltan stepped inside, bringing the hesitant Clem with him. “Asher!” Zoltan grinned as the vampire closed the door. “Just the demon we were looking for!” Zoltan had to elbow Clem in the ribs as he started to protest.
Asher opened his mouth to say something, but a loud thud coming from the back bedroom distracted everyone’s attention. Realizing what the noise was, Asher was quick to recover. “If you would please have a seat in the living room,” Asher nodded to the large open space. “I must attend to something, but I will be right back.”
Asher glided quickly to his room to see Willow trying to push herself up off the floor. “What are you doing, ma chaton?”
“Um, nothing?” Willow looked up, embarrassed to have been caught.
“Oui, that is evident. Perhaps the question should be, what were you attempting to do?” Asher raised his eyebrow, trying hard not to smirk.
“Who’s at the front door?” Willow asked.
“Ah, you are curious about that, no?” Willow nodded. “You know what they say about curiosity killing the cat?”
“Um, no?” Willow tried for the cute and innocent look but could see the demon wasn’t buying it.
“Would you like to see our visitors?” Willow nodded. “Very well, but it is not my fault if you contract a disease from this.” Asher picked up a confused Willow and carried her into the living room. The two demons had chosen the chairs beside the fireplace leaving Willow and Asher to the loveseat.
“Monsieur Zoltan, Monsieur Clem, I believe you have both seen if not met the lovely Mademoiselle Rosenberg?” Asher made the introductions as he gracefully arranged Willow on his lap, unconsciously using her to shield his scarred side as though she were his shadows.
“Ah, the lovely Mademoiselle, you made quite the impression at the party last night. The hair pulling move was quite… inspired, shall we say?” Zoltan winked at the redhead. Willow blushed and ducked her head.
“I must warn you two, before you become too complacent, the slayer is under this roof.” Asher murmured, hoping they too would adopt the quieter tones. He was not quite ready for everyone to be awake and downstairs yet.
“Really? How curious, for you see, we were looking for someone else entirely under your roof.”
“Really? Whom do you seek?” Asher replied calmly, having played court games, he was hardly panicked, just amused by the slight increase in Willow’s pulse.
“We seek Anyanka.”
“Whatever for? She has no more power and you are not the kind she would have helped.” Asher shrugged off the question.
“Let’s just say I have an old score to settle with her.”
“Ah, my friend, you can not expect me to help you without giving me more details.” Asher wrapped his hands tighter around Willow’s waist as he felt the redhead wriggle as though we wanted to bolt upstairs to warn the ex-demon.
“It’s rather personal.”
“But you have woken me up during the daylight. Surely if you came here to enlist my aid, you’d be willing to tell me why?”
“You vampires are always so political. If you weren’t so damn cute, I’d smite you all.” Zoltan grumbled as he checked his manicured fingers. “Oh, alright. Three hundred years ago, I cursed one of Anyanka’s followers and in response Anyanka cursed me with hangovers.”
“Three hundred years, and you are just now getting to retribution? That is quite patient of you.”
“You’re one to talk. How long did it take you to get back at Musette? Four hundred years was it?”
“That was different.” Asher sniffed, sensing that Zoltan was about to bring up something that would make Willow very uncomfortable. Revenge was seldom pretty, especially with the rotting ones. “After all, you had plenty of opportunity to get back at her last night.”
“Well yes, but I didn’t have the hangover until this morning.” Zoltan reasoned. “And if it weren’t for that damn hangover, I wouldn’t have stuck around for those scientists to poke and prod me. They humiliated me, and I wasn’t even sober enough to dimension hop away.”
“They used prods?!” Clem gasped. That scientist woman must have really taken advantage of Zoltan.
“You escaped from the soldiers?” Both Asher and Willow gasped. “How did you manage that?”
“Humans. They’re so stuck in three dimensions.” Zoltan shrugged. “So do you have Anyanka here, or not?”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to go after the scientists, sir?” Willow asked quietly.
“If I was trying to make sense, perhaps, but frankly I just want to make someone as miserable as I was this morning. Who better to make miserable than Anyanka?”
“Well, the scientists, for one?” Willow answered. Asher winced, realizing that Willow was asking for trouble now, and he really wasn’t in a position to defend her against a respected demon such as Zoltan.
Zoltan’s silence was making both Clem and Asher nervous. Most demons would describe Zoltan as moody, although severely bipolar was perhaps a better description, and he was clearly not on his highest high. Finally he took a deep breath and sighed. “But what about the bunny pox?”
“The bunny pox?”
“It really was the perfect disease for her. Her nose would get pink and shiny, her ears would itch, and she’d sprout a cotton tail and little white tufts of fur.” Zoltan smiled fondly, thinking of his new disease. “It would be wonderful.”
“She’d hate that!” Willow gasped.
“Of course, dear. That was the point. I mean, it’s not nearly as cruel as making the one demon to outdrink Bacchus suffer from hangovers. Wouldn’t you agree?” Willow wisely stayed silent, which saved Asher the trouble of having to gag the girl. His kitten sure chose interesting times to speak up. “So, Asher, do we have a deal?”
“How long would the bunny pox last?” Asher was trying to weigh the pros and cons of earning
a favor from Zoltan with earning the anger of the girl.
“About as long as the chicken pox, one or two weeks.” Zoltan smiled.
“And it would not be fatal?”
“Nah, just some cosmetic stuff, enough to let her know I was annoyed with her.”
“If you’ll allow me a minute.”
As Asher stood up, Willow clung to him. “Asher, no! You can’t make Anya a bunny! She hates bunnies!”
Asher hugged her close and whispered in her ears. “Wipe the tears from your eyes, little one; no harm will befall Anyanka, but if we play our cards right, we will have two more witnesses to help us plan our attack.” He then set Willow back down and disappeared up the stairs to where Xander and Anya were supposedly sleeping.
“So you are Asher’s new human servant? How’s that working out for you?” Zoltan decided to make chitchat while the vampire was gone.
“Huh?” Willow turned back to face the demon. He had just admitted to planning a curse on her friend and now wanted to gossip? Inconceivable!
“It took him long enough. It’s been what, a century?”
“Oh, I’d say at least two.” Clem added.
“Right, it’s been long enough. I mean, the poor man hasn’t seen any action in years! Such a gorgeous ass and Belle’s kept him locked up in that Council Chateau. Tell me, is his ass really as tight as they say?”
“What?!” Willow’s face was nearly as red as her hair.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you two were together. He surely seemed protective of you with Gretchen around.”
“Mr. Zoltan, I really don’t want to talk about this.”
“So you’re not together?” Willow really didn’t like the speculating looks Zoltan was sending towards the stairs Asher had disappeared around.
Clem could feel the animosity from the redhead and wanted to clear the air before Zoltan lost his temper. “This is a lovely place, you have here. Did you do the decorating?”
Willow stared at the shar-pei like demon she had been ignoring up to this point. “What?”
“The house, it’s nice; sharp lines contrasting with soft tapestries. It’s a classic look.” Clem offered with a shrug.
“Um, I didn’t decorate it.”
“Really?” Zoltan took a glance around the expansive living room. Clem tried not to let his smile show, but he felt like patting himself on the back. Leave it to him to be able to distract Zoltan with a bit of designer talk. “Who did you get to do it? Really it’s quite stunning. I mean, the soft cushions contrasting with the iron shackles, very impressive.”
“Shackles?” Willow tilted her head. Sure enough there was a pair of shackles on the floor by the fireplace, probably left over from when Angel had lived there.
“You hadn’t noticed.”
“It’s not my house.” Willow offered.
“Ah, so Asher put the shackles in? I thought he had outgrown that phase.” Zoltan mused. “Still, the fireplace adds a certain amount of class to it.”
“I think those are actually Angel’s.” Willow wondered if she had some how made a wrong turn somewhere in this conversation. They weren’t really discussing shackles for interior design, were they?
“Angel is your decorator?”
“Angel is the vampire that owns this place.” Willow answered.
The stilted conversation was interrupted by a shriek as Anya ran down the stairs, followed by a much calmer Asher. “Oh my gosh, Zoltan! You’re alive! I was so worried when I saw you captured. Those are very bad men and you should have given them something horrible.” Anya threw herself at Zoltan, who had stood up just in time to catch the ex-demon. “I’m so glad you’re safe, and not hurt or mutilated!” Anya hugged him so tight that Zoltan almost considered not cursing her. Of course, the heart warming welcome was ruined a moment later when Anya smacked him across the cheek.
“Ow! What was that for?” Zoltan rubbed his jaw.
“Don’t you ever make me worry like that again! Do you know how awful it was watching you get captured? I thought they were going to hurt you; I was even going to propose a rescue mission tonight. And here you are, acting like nothing happened. You idiot! Stupid men are all the same, taking dumb, stupid risks!”
“Me?! This is your fault!”
“If you didn’t curse me, I wouldn’t have been hung-over and they wouldn’t have captured me.”
“Well, if you hadn’t jilted my followers, I wouldn’t have had to curse you.”
“Well, if you hadn’t…. Good grief woman! It’s your fault and that’s that!” Zoltan focused his
third eye on Anya, ready to dispense the first ever case of bunny pox. Instead there was a short pop, fizzle, and pink sparks floating down to the floor where a red beam of pestilence should have been. “Aah!” Zoltan grabbed his head in pain.
“Mon Dieu! They have got you too!” Asher rushed to Zoltan’s side and helped him back to the couch.
“What happened?” The demon whimpered.
“The soldiers have impaired you.” Asher informed him quietly. “They have been doing the same to my kind. With the help of ma chaton,” he glanced over at Willow, “we are trying to find a solution, but it does not look good.”
“Are you looking for a spell to reverse it?”
“It is not magic. It is metal.”
“But you can help me?” Zoltan looked pitifully at Willow. Unlike many demons, Zoltan was not too proud to ask mere mortals for help, especially if it meant getting rid of this headache.
“I can try?” She shrugged. A few minutes ago she wanted to hex the flamboyant demon for talking about Asher, but now she couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.
“Can I help?” Clem looked around at the group gathered around the demon in pain. Everyone glanced up, having forgotten about the pacifist. “I can get donuts or something. Everybody likes donuts, right?”