Games We Play
If I get started really quick, can you pretend not to notice that there’s been no updates in a while? :)
CHAPTER FIVE: GAMES WE PLAY
An angry Buffy was not a nice thing to hear and worried angry Buffy was even worse.
Xander Harris, he who stared down creatures of the night with nothing but a mean right hook, held the phone a foot away from his ear wincing as a particularly choice string of curses flew from the slayers mouth at a pitch only dogs could hear.
“Err Buff, I don’t think that’s anatomically possible.” He yanked the phone back again as Buffy screeched a response that she must have picked up from Spike.
Then it went very quiet.
There was a loud sniff on the other end of the line. “Why does she always have to get in so much trouble?”
“We’ll find her, it’s what we do.” Xander say, trying to give his friend as much comfort as he could without actually being with her.
“I know. I’ll be on the next flight over.”
“You don’t have to, I can-“
“Yes, I do. See you soon.” Those were her parting words as she hung up the phone.
“Anything?” Faith asked as Gunn pulled his head out of the fireplace.
“Nothing that they’re willing to tell me over the fire.” They both paused, considering that rather odd sentence. Gunn shook his head to clear his thoughts and continued. “I’ve got a meeting with the minister this afternoon to talk some more.”
“Is that before or after the meeting with Wolfram and Hart?”
“After, but I already know how that’s going to turn out. ‘We’re very sorry, Mr Gunn, but our company honours confidentiality rules etcetera etcetera.’”
“Then why are you bothering? Seems like a waste of time to me.” Faith said, resting her boots on the edge of Gunn’s desk.
“You never know, we might get lucky. How’d it go with the watchers?”
She snorted. “They told us sweet F.A. I swear one of these days they’re gonna be sitting on a fire bomb and not even notice, even with a great flashing countdown.”
Gunn gave her a look. “That already happened.”
Faith thought back to the events leading up to the final fight with the First. “Oh yeah!”
“What’s say we get back, see if Buffy’s yelled Xander unconscious?”
“Sounds like a plan to me. I wonder how Angel’s getting on…”
Angel swung his axe over Wesley’s head once again and followed up with a roll leaving him standing next to the former watcher.
“Any more great ideas, Wesley?”
“As I recall,” he paused to throw a nearby vase at the creature, “this was your idea.”
“And you couldn’t tell me he gets really grouchy if you wake him up?”
“Technically it’s the fire-breathing pet dragon you have to watch out for, not the shaman.” Another priceless artefact was thrown, but it had no effect.
“This isn’t working. Wes, distract it!”
And Angel ran off leaving Wes to worry about how to distract an eight foot dragon without getting singed. He decided to adopt the age old strategy of ‘throw and run’.
Angel ran around the walls of the room until he was standing behind the dragon. He formed one of the ropes that were tying the curtains back into a lasso and leapt forward, mounting the creature like a bucking bronco at a fairground. He slipped the rope over its snout to stop the fire and brought the butt of his sword handle down on its skull, only just managing to jump clear before it lapsed into unconsciousness.
Wes came forward. “You couldn’t have done that half an hour ago?”
He got a black look. “Come on, let’s go find that shaman.”
“What about Spike?”
The duo looked over to the still-unconscious Spike, who had been the first to walk into the house and been caught off guard by the dragon.
“He’ll wake up sooner or later.” Angel said, walking away. “He always does.”
Xander looked up as Faith dropped down into the seat next to him.
“When’s B gonna get here?”
“As soon as she can, where’s Gunn?”
She grinned wickedly. “He couldn’t keep up with me.”
“I could if I wanted to.” An indignant voice came as Gunn strode into the room.
Xander ignored him. “Did you find anything useful?”
Xander shook his head. “I called Willow and Giles. We can rule out a prophecy, there’s none due to happen for about six months.”
“So to recap, we know that a witch and/or wizard took Dawn and Harry from his hotel room at a totally unsociable hour but not for a prophecy. I hate to say it, but this does resemble square one.” Gunn said with a groan, willing his mind to think faster, to find the solution.
“So we know jack squat. Any ideas on where to go now?”
Gunn straightened his tie and stood up. “Well you two can do what you like. I’m going to England. Beep me if Angel comes back with anything helpful.”
“Now whatever you do, let me do the talking.” Wesley instructed as they approached a tall oak door.
“I think I can manage that.” Angel replied, preparing to kick the door down.
“Ah no, Angel. This may be easier if we knock.”
Angel shrugged. “Whatever you say. Last time we knocked we got set on by a dragon.”
Wesley rapped on the door and it swung open, seemingly of its own accord.
“You disturb me!” The shaman’s voice boomed out from under the hood of his long navy robe.
“It is I, Pancreal; Wesley Wyndom-Price. We have spoken before.”
There was a rustling as a wizened face poked out from under the fabric. “Price? Why, I never recognised you! How are you, old chap?”
“Very well thank you, but I am not here on a social visit.”
“Are you ever?” Pancreal interrupted.
“Not so far. A friend of ours, Dawn Summers, was taken with her partner from Wolfram and Hart last night. We were hoping you could help us.”
“I will do my best, but I can do no more.”
“Then do it.” Angel said shortly, earning him a glare from Wesley.
“We are grateful of any help you can give us. But time is of the essence…”
“Of course, shall we get on with it, eh?”
Gunn stepped out of the fireplace in the English Wolfram and Hart’s lobby and was immediately greeted by one of the staff.
“Mr Gunn? Derek Hays, pleased to meet you.” He seemed more chipper than most of Wolfram and Hart’s employees. That must mean he hadn’t been working in the ‘den of evil’ long.
“What happened to Miss Coates?” Gunn asked suspiciously as he shook Hays’ hand. “She’s who I usually correspond with.”
“She went mad, so we shot her. We decided you needed the very best! That was a joke, she transferred to Italy.” He added seeing Gunn’s worried look.
Gunn forced a smile. “Well you never know in this place.”
He stiffened slightly. “Indeed. Shall we take this into my office?” He asked, not waiting for an answer he showed Gunn into an office not unlike his own.
“To what do we owe the pleasure of this meeting?” Hays said as they sat down.
“Dawn Summers. Someone commissioned a hit on her, we want to know who.”
“Ah. Well, Mr Gunn, I am sure you are aware of our confidentiality policy.” He replied. “I couldn’t tell you if I wanted too.”
“She was kidnapped just after midnight along with a friend from her school. We need any and all information that could help us find her.”
Hays shook his head regrettably. “As I said-“
“Yeah, yeah, the policy. Miss Summers is a personal friend of the CEO of our branch. She is part of his family, so you can imagine our concern.”
“Mr. Angel is a vampire. He killed all his family.”
Gunn mentally rolled his eyes. “His grandchilde, William the Bloody, claimed her as one of his own. Mr Angel is very worried about the girl.”
“We can’t have that, can we?” Hays held Gunn’s gaze for a moment before taking a file out of his top drawer and sliding it across the desk. “This is all we have. I’m afraid it won’t be of much use to you though.”
“We’ll see.” Gunn said, already leaving the office. “Good day, Mr. Hays.”
When Wesley and Angel returned to Wolfram and Hart, they found most of the others already there.
“How’d it go?” Faith asked immediately.
“Not great.” Wes said as he sat down. “Whatever it is that’s taken them is powerful enough to stop Pancreal from finding anything out.”
“What about you guys?” Angel asked.
“We can rule out a prophecy.”
“That’s it? What about the tests we got from the room?”
Fred cleared her throat. “They all came back to Dawn or Harry. There was absolutely nothing incriminating.”
“They’re not careless then.”
“Or they’re really well robed.” Xander added.
“You mean Death Eaters?”
“Think about it. They’re gonna want revenge on Harry and Dawnie, none of their hair or blood is likely to fall out from under their masks and robes, and some of them have enough money to hire Wolfram and Hart for a hit.”
Wes thought it over. “But all of the most powerful Death Eaters are either dead or in the Azkaban. Only the lowest in Voldemort’s ranks remain and with no leader they wouldn’t be able to pull off something like this. I don’t think it’s them.”
It was quiet for a moment until Xander noticed someone was missing. “Hey, where’s Spike?”
Angel gave a terrifying grin. “Unconscious in the shaman’s hallway.”
Xander matched his grin. “Excellent.”
“And you didn’t think to bring him back with you?” Faith asked with a snort.
Angel shrugged. “He’s a big boy. Besides, Wes wouldn’t carry him.”
“Mr. Gunn, so sorry to keep you waiting.” The minister for magic said, sounding not at all sorry.
Gunn followed him into his office without a word. His second meeting in under an hour, and he was hungry.
“Well? Why did you request this meeting?”
“Wolfram and Hart wish to know of any recent dark magic occurrences.” Gunn said blankly. He did not like that man.
“May I ask why?”
“It’s part of a case we’re working on. Confidential, I’m sure you understand.” He’d decided that he didn’t want to drop Harry’s name into things just yet. He’d found the ministry to be more of a hindrance than a help whenever they had worked together in the past.
“Of course. Well I can’t be of much use, I’m afraid. All known Death Eaters are in the Azkaban and the aurors have not been all that busy of late. Definitely nothing out of the ordinary.” Fudge said.
Gunn sat there for a moment; he couldn’t help but feel that the minister was holding something back. “You’re quite sure?”
“Yes.” Fudge said, hoping Gunn couldn’t see him sweating.
“If you remember anything, you know how to contact us.”
Fudge nodded and watched as Gunn left, breathing a sigh of relief.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” A silky voice came from the corner.
Fudge jumped and turned around. “He’s knows.”
“There’s nothing too know.” He moved out of the corner, platinum blond hair shining in the light.
“He knows I was lying.” Fudge insisted.
“Quiet!” Lucius slammed his cane down on the desk. “Then you’ll have to do better next time, won’t you?”
“Yes.” Fudge said meekly.
He sneered that trademark Malfoy sneer. “And don’t you forget it.”