“Hey, Cordy. She’s pointing a gun at me.”
“What the HELL is he?” Anita was staring daggers at Angel.
“Ah, vampire, I thought we had that cleared up.” Angel said.
“Angel, what did you do now?” Cordelia asked as she approached from the other room. This was not good, the last thing she needed was Anita shooting Angel and finding out bullets didn’t hurt him. Plus, hello, blood stains. “I am so not cleaning it up if she shoots you.”
What? Anita looked at her host. That was all she was worried about? “Everything casts a reflection.” Anita said. “It’s physics.”
“Hey, you invited her. It’s not my fault if she shoots me.”
Anita stepped back and adjusted her aim. “A vampire not having a reflection is just a myth from the movies. What are you some kind of hypnotic suggestion?”
“Ha, now she thinks you’re a figment of her imagination.” Cordelia said. “Don’t worry, Anita, he’s real. A real pain in the ass.”
“I am too a vampire.” Angel defended. “Look, I drink blood,” he held up the mug, “don’t have a reflection, crosses and sun light burn me and I’ll die if you put a stake in my heart.” He frowned. “Okay, the last one doesn’t really prove anything ‘cause most people, will die if you put a stake in their heart.”
“Great, you never told me that other vampires have reflections.” Cordelia said to Angel.
“How was I supposed to know?” Angel asked. “It’s not like I hang out down at the local vampire club.” He turned to Anita. “Do they have vampire clubs here?”
“Yea, Jean-Claude owns a couple.” Anita answered.
“See, I bet Miss Sees Everything didn’t bother know that.” Angel said to Cordy.
“Hey, I’m not the vampire hibernating in a friend’s house trying to rebuild an old car to recapture my glory days.”
“Well I didn’t exactly plan on being here either.” Angel defended. “But we have to make due. Besides, you’re the one who bought the car. You said it’d be good for me to have something to do.”
“Yea, but I didn’t know you planned to take every single little part off of it just to clean it and put it back.”
“That’s what you do when you restore a car.” Angel said through clenched teeth.
“You didn’t say restore, you said ‘Fix Up’.” Cordelia emphasized the Fix Up with air quotes.
Anita continued to hold her gun on Angel as the two carried on their argument over the car. Cordelia had finally gotten around to mentioning the grease. Anita had enough. “Hey!”
“What?” Cordelia and Angel both turned to Anita.
“I’ve still got a gun here.”
“Well if you’re going to shoot him,” Cordelia said. “Take him outside first. You know the blood and smell of gun powder I’m just not in the mood tonight.”
“I’m not going to shoot him.” Anita finally admitted still pointing the gun at Angel.
Cordelia put her hands on her hips and stared at the gun. “Well?”
Anita lowered the hand cannon and replaced it with her cell phone. “I’ve got to call Jean-Claude.” She headed for the front door. “Just give me a couple of minutes.”
Anita was by her Jeep by the time Jean-Claude answered. “Oui? Ma petite.” he said quietly.
“Jean-Claude,” Anita asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Why?” He continued to speak quietly.
“You’re practically whispering. What’s going on?”
“I’m just about to have a meeting I’d prefer not to be having.”
“Do you need me?” Anita asked concerned. “I could be there in no more then forty five minutes.”
“Non, this does not concern you.” Jean-Claude replied crisply. “You sound like you called for a reason.” he continued trying to soften his tone.
“Yes.” Anita tried to stay on track so she could get this little favor completed. She’d figure out whatever Jean-Claude was hiding later. “You know Cordelia Chase.”
“Oui, we have…an understanding.”
“Well, I think she wants to change your understanding.”
There was silence on the line. “How?”
“She has a friend, already in town, who’s not human.” Anita said carefully.
“How so?” The interest was clear in Jean-Claude’s voice.
“He’s apparently some kind of vampire, but a breed I’ve never encountered before.”
“There are other breeds.” Jean-Claude confirmed. “But very rare.” He seemed to be thinking for a few moments. Finally he said. “This could be good thing if the creature is not a threat. Have you met him?”
“Yes, he seems harmless, but looks can be deceiving.” She pondered for a second. “How could this be a good thing?”
“Ms. Chase is respected in the law enforcement and other political communities.” Jean-Claude stated. “She’s also very well known for her avoidance of our kind. If she has a vampire consort then by default she becomes one of our supporters.”
Anita nodded in the darkness. “That’s true.” She agreed. “Would you like me to have them come in? I’m pretty sure they want me to arrange a meeting.”
“Non, this is not a good time. I will send somebody out tonight for a preliminary interview.”
“Who are you going to send? Asher?” Anita asked. If Cordelia allowed a vampire such as Asher into her home, then it would prove she’d do a lot for this Angel creature.
“Non, he is involved with the meeting as well.” Jean-Claude replied. “Damian should be able to tell what manner of creature this ‘vampire’ is. That is, if you do not object.”
He was going to send Damian? How did he come to that decision? Why? “I guess that would be fine. Do you need the address?”
“I’m sure we have Ms. Chase’s address.” Jean-Claude replied. “If Damian gives his approval, this creature may remain but he will have two weeks to arrange a meeting with me and without Ms. Chase.”
“And if Damian does not agree?”
“Then the creature will have until sunset tomorrow to leave my territory.”
Anita raised her eye brows. “That’s not a lot of time.”
“They violated my territory. I’m giving him a chance only because of my debts to Ms. Chase.”
Snapping the phone shut, Anita looked at the house and at the cars in the garage and driveway. She didn’t feel like she had been lied to or anything, but somehow she felt railroaded. Did they normally act like an old married couple or were they putting on an act just to keep her off balance? She couldn’t tell. She’d known Cordelia since before she’d been licensed as a seer and had the feeling that Cordelia counted her among her few friends. Yet she’d never seen this totally relaxed and informal side of her. Of course she’d never been to her house and never did anything more social with her apart the occasional cup of coffee at lunch time.
Now she had to wait for Damian and whatever wolf Jean-Claude tagged to show up and give this Angel the once over. Was that it, was that why he chose Damian because he knew she wouldn’t leave before Damian. Damn, what exactly was going on at the circus? Anita pushed herself away from the front of her Jeep she’d been leaning against and headed back to the house to wait for the inspection crew.
After pushing the off button on his cordless phone Jean-Claude looked from his study and across the office to Asher. Asher stood in a darkened corner watching their guest. Asher’s hair swung, the material of his gray suit and the shadows adjusted as he looked up and they made eye contact. It was enough. They were both concerned and neither knew how to deal with this development. Jean-Claude looked back at the vestige of the young woman sitting in the chair in front of his desk.
She hadn’t moved since taking the seat minutes before Anita called. Not a breath, not an eyelash, not the flare of a nostril or turn of her head to follow him out of the room. She sat perfectly still; infinitely patient. She wore a knee length black leather skirt with a slit up the side that revealed firm and flawless legs crossed at the knees, high heels just short of fetish and a simple black lace and leather bustier. Her skin was flawless, not a pock or a scar with a very light brown almost yellow color. Her hair was perfectly straight jet black; each strand seemed individually placed where they flowed down her back. If she walked into a club, any club, anywhere, every person male and female would stop and stare.
Jean-Claude walked through his office, past the woman, opened the heavy wooden door and slipped into the hallway closing the door behind him. Jason stood in the hallway his blond hair framed his narrow face as he watched his master approach. It was Jason who had first seen the woman coming up from the sewers naked and dirty. He had taken her to get cleaned up and clothed as Jean-Claude and Asher where summoned. Nobody but Jean-Claude and Asher recognized her but all could sense her power. Luckily Damian was not at the Circus and was not there to recognize her.
“Find Damian and Sullivan,” Jean-Claude instructed. “Tell Sullivan to drive Damian to meet Anita out at the home of Cordelia Chase. She will explain the task I require of him and he should call me once he gets there as well.”
“He should be here any minute.” Jason smiled. “We can just wait.” Before Jean-Claude could answer, Jason tried to look around him at the closed door. “Do you know who she is?”
“Go now and find Damian before he comes down here. Do not speak of this or our guest to anybody.” Jean-Claude looked Jason in the eyes. “Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Sullivan, Damian, Cordelia Chase and nothing about the woman.” He tried to look around Jean-Claude at the door again.
“Now.” Jean-Claude practically growled.
Jason turned and ran down the hallway.
Jean-Claude returned to his office and sat down at his desk. He looked at the woman. She was perfect and utterly still if he had not seen her walk in and take the chair he might have thought her a perfect work of art, an exquisite life size China doll. He knew better. A week earlier she was nothing more than livestock, a traded commodity, dinner.
“Why are you?” Jean-Claude asked cautiously. He figured he knew but he wanted to see what she would say.
“Ma maîtresse does not believe that you fully comprehend.” The woman replied.
She spoke. Jean-Claude had half expected her perfectly sculpted skin to crack when it moved. Sitting back he thought about her. The last and only time he’d seen her she only spoke a few words and they were broken English. Now she used the heavily French laced English like her mistress and like what he sometimes found himself falling into. There was one other significance to her arrival; if she could get out of the lair so could L'Horreur. “Perhaps without the haze of her visions, you could enlighten us. To start with; do you have a name you wish to be called?
“The elder red headed one is not here.” She said still without moving any other part of her body.
“Damian is old but he is not a master.” Jean-Claude stated. “Others make the decisions what is best for him.” And other decide on how best to keep things from Anita.
“The one whose name you did not wish to learn was Ming.” No hint of emotion played on her un-moving face or almond eyes. “They are very dangerous but they can be corrupted.” She said changing the subject. “Les Tueuse takes joy in the work but les Héros thinks it a sacred duty. Both can be turned from what they are sent for.”
Jean-Claude still wasn’t sure what or who she was talking about but L’Horreur had apparently decided it was important enough to break one of the basics of their agreement and create an emissary. “What are we to do?” He asked. “Does she expect us to kill these two when they are identified?”
“Kill them?” Ming almost smiled. “Many have tried. Attempt and fail and you will prove they are right.”
“Prove they are wrong.”
The door to the office open before Jean-Claude could ask anything else. It was Jason. He stumbled when he saw Jean-Claude glare at him. “Ah, Sullivan and Damian have left.” He said quickly. Jean-Claude continued to glare. “And Requiem is on his way down.”
Ming approached Jason. No one had seen her stand. She walked around him and pushed the door shut so he was fully in the office with them. She looked back at Jean-Claude. “I hunger.”