Where You Lead - 1
~ Willy’s Alibi Room, Sunday 1:30 a.m. ~
“Oh, hello there! And what does the neighborhood SLAYER want to drink today?” Willy called out as loud as possible as the tiny bell jingled at the entrance to his bar. Several of his patrons slinked off into the back room, trying to avoid the gaze of the young girl who had just entered.
“Alright Willy, we can do this the hard way, or we can do this the easy way.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Do you want me to hurt you?” Buffy asked angrily.
“Look, slayer, there is no me wanting you to do anything. The way I do business here is simple. I’m a simple man. I run a simple bar, that’s all. I can offer you a drink, but that’s it.”
“Cut the crap, Willy, we both know that’s a load of bull.”
“What are you talking about? Can I get you a beer?” Willy nervously glanced around the bar, checking out which patrons were remaining. The only ones who hadn’t cleared out at Buffy’s loud entrance were two men that hadn’t been there more than three minutes; looking at them more carefully, Willy noticed they were acting more like cops than guys trying to get hammered. “Ahem, I mean… can I see some I.D. little girl?” Willy said loudly.
Buffy just stared at the small man for a second. What the hell was wrong with the snitch? “Come on Willy, I’ve shown you my I.D. before. Do you want to see it again?” Buffy held up her fist.
“Um, no that’s okay.” Willy ducked behind his bar, and began pouring a drink. “That’s one Shirley Temple for you.” He said loudly, projecting his voice to the back booth, before leaning closer to Buffy. “Okay, what the hell are you trying to do to me? Between you and the raids, I’m going to be out of work in no time.” He whispered.
“Raids, what raids?”
“Come on slayer, surely you noticed the feds in the back booth. Last week we had some storm in here; upset business for days. They claimed they were ATF, but I don’t buy it for a minute. I heard some of them talking, and evidently they were looking for someone or something called Hostile 17. Now, what kind of name is that?”
“Really?” Buffy was surprised. For once it sounded like Willy knew something before she had to “help” his memory along any.
He gave her a wink glancing over his shoulder nervously. “So what do you want to know?”
“Do you know who this seventeen guy is?” Buffy asked.
“Not a flippin’ clue, and that’s the honest to God truth, no amount of um, I.D., will change that.” Willy crossed himself awkwardly.
“Well, can you put the word out? If anyone meets seventeen, let him know that if I don’t get back what’s mine in the same condition she was taken, I will go to the ends of the earth to track him down and make him hurt. Got that?”
“Sure, anything.” Willy leaned away nervously. Buffy quickly drank the soda that had been placed before her and placed a dollar on the bar. Perhaps he was surprised he was getting off so light, perhaps he was just feeling in a generous mood, but something triggered Willy to give out a final warning to the slayer as she slid off the barstool. “By the way, rumor has it that Spike’s back in town. He doesn’t take getting dumped lightly, so you better take care of yourself, kid.”
“Alright, Willy, I’ll keep that in mind. Keep the change.” Buffy nodded disconcertedly as she backed out of the bar. Spike was the last person she wanted to deal with today, but it was nice of Willy to remind her to watch her back.
Forrest and Riley watched in shock as the bartender, who was used to standing up to goons of all dimensions, shrank in fear of Riley’s new crush. There was something seriously amiss in this town. Listening carefully they were able to pick up a few words between Buffy and Willy. Riley winced as Willy described Beta unit’s search mission; they were supposed to be covert operations and even the bartender could see through them. He’d have to report Beta’s blown cover to Walsh and was glad that wasn’t his unit that would face Walsh’s wrath.
“So do you suppose Spike’s an ex of hers?” Forrest teased as they watched Buffy leave.
“Hey, I’m not afraid of any old boyfriends, and she’s not mine to be defending yet.” Riley frowned.
“Yeah, well, looks like she can hold her own against old boyfriends. So we’re still tailing?”
“You take drunk, I take friend?”
Forrest nodded slightly then in a louder voice. “I told her ‘Baby, I still love you. I only want to be with you. She don’t mean nothin’ to me.’ But you know what she said?”
“Um, you’ve told me several times.” Riley said. “Look we should probably get you sobered up before you have to go home.”
“She said ‘If you want that skanky Latoya, you can have your skank!’” Forrest whined in a falsetto. “Hey man, where you going?” He drunkenly asked Riley who was stepping out of the booth.
“Come on, I think they’re trying to close up here. Let’s go get some coffee.”
“Coffee?” Forrest stumbled out of the booth, leaning heavily on Riley. “My baby, she’s the cream in my coffee, but I ain’t got cream or sugar no more.”
As Forrest railed on and on, Riley dragged his friend towards the door. “There, there?” Riley awkwardly patted Forrest on the back, thankful that Forrest wasn’t really drunk. He never saw anyone get that sappy when he was in Iowa.
As soon as they were out of the door and the view of the bartender, they immediately straightened up, and began silently following Buffy, making sure to stay a safe distance behind so that she wouldn’t notice them.
Buffy had barely walked a block when she noticed the sound of footsteps behind her in what was normally a very deserted part of town at that time of day. She turned a corner at the coffee shop just to see if the footsteps followed. Sure enough, they turned as well. One more turn, and she knew she was being followed. This was nothing new to Buffy, but she was not expecting it to be so obvious; that ruled out most of the stealthy demons in the area. As she approached the park, the footsteps seemed to split, with one set staying with her while the other turned off to the right. Of course, Buffy realized, that would be the perfect set up for surrounding her.
After making three left turns in a row, Riley figured Buffy was on to them. He used hand signals to indicate that Forrest should go around and try to follow from the left. He watched as Forrest split off, disappearing behind one of the cemetery walls opposite the main park.
Buffy knew she had to get rid of her tail before she got into the residential area, so she turned down one the last row of shops and ducked behind a dumpster. She counted to ten as the steps got closer and closer, and right when they reached her she leapt out. Successfully surprising her follower, she managed to wrestle him to the ground easily. Flipping him over, she was shocked. “Riley?!”
“Hi?” He was seeing stars still from hitting his head.
“You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.” She growled, and dragged him up.
“Look, I can explain.” Riley began, trying to think up a convincing lie.
Unfortunately, his radio chose that moment to go off. “Lilac One? I lost sight of the target, what’s your twenty?”
Buffy perked an eyebrow at that. Silently she picked the radio off of Riley’s belt and threw it into the dumpster. Picking him up by the ear, she dragged him out of the alley. “You’re part of them aren’t you?” she hissed.
“What are you talking about?” Riley looked thoroughly confused by Buffy’s statement.
“This is all a big set up, isn’t it? You and your army took Willow in order to get to me. Knocking Graham out was all a big ruse. Well, I’m not going to fall for it. Who the hell are you working for and what are they doing to Willow!” Buffy shouted, dragging Riley down the street.
“It’s not like that!” Riley replied.
“Fine, if that’s how we’re going to do this…” Before Riley could react, Buffy hit him hard on the head, knocking him out. “Oops, I didn’t mean to hit that hard.” Buffy winced as Riley collapsed on the pavement. Knowing Giles’ house was just a few blocks away, she picked up her hulking TA and carried him as fast as she could to her watcher.
A few minutes later, Forrest arrived at the abandoned alley, panting. Having not gotten a response from Riley, he had to search for his C.O. the old fashioned way. Unfortunately, there was no Riley or target to be found. Walsh was going to be pissed.
“Daisy One to Base.” Forrest winced every time he had to give his i.d.
“Base to Daisy One.” The static voice replied. “What’s up?”
“I’ve lost Lilac One and the target. Has Lilac One reported in?”
“That’s a negative. I’ll try to reach him.”
“Damn.” Forrest muttered.
From the dumpster there was a muffled rattle. “Base to Lilac One, come in Lilac One.”
“His radio is at my twenty, but there’s no sign of Lilac One.” Forrest replied.
“Shit.” The dispatcher mumbled, unaware that Forrest heard. “What’s your twenty, Daisy One?”
“I’m at Main and Elm.” Forrest answered. “Requesting further instruction.”
“Maintain position while I check with Mother.” The dispatcher replied, referring to Dr. Walsh.
“That’s a ten four.” Forrest replied. Placing his radio back in its holster, he decided he should dig out Riley’s from the trash heap.
“Mother to Daisy One.” A voice crackled over the line.
“This is Daisy One, come in Mother.”
“Lilac One and I were in pursuit of the target when we split. I doubled back, and by the time I reached his position, both Lilac One and target were out of sight. I found the radio thrown into a dumpster behind Elm Street.”
“Daisy one, I want you to return to base now. We can’t afford for Alpha team to be picked off one by one. Meet me at com one.”
“Com one stat, that’s a ten four.” Forrest replied, tucking the spare radio into his belt.
“Any other report?”
“That’s a negative. I’m ten eight.”
“Ten four.” The dispatcher’s voice answered. Evidently Walsh was already on her way to the communication room.