INTERVIEW WITH A GARGOYLE
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own any of the characters in this story. They belong to Buena Vista or to Joss. I’m only borrowing them for my own entertainment. That said…
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I decided to make this a separate story, the last one was getting a bit unfocused so I decided to wrap it up. This picks up where ‘Angel of the Night" left off.
Her doctors had complained loudly when she had insisted on leaving. Granted, her injuries were not as severe as they had first feared, but she still had a concussion and needed rest and observation. She was determined, though, that after working so hard to make tonight possible, she was going to be there.
"Fox are you su-"
"Would you stop asking me that David? I’m fine, and I promise not to push myself. I just want to be here for this." She gestured to the sound stage and the hurrying technicians. "This secret site for the show should keep reporters and gargoyle haters alike away from the interview. There won’t be any need for me to exert myself."
Her husband didn’t seem reassured, but he let the matter drop rather than aggravate her. He had hired some extra men to ensure security at the studio and Angel had said he would do some checking of his own and be by shortly after sunset. Everything should be well in hand. So why was he so worried?
It had almost fallen apart. The actions of those thugs had thrown the entire plan into disarray. Lamont had lost two men to them. He’d been counting on the security team’s loyalty or at least their greed. Now he was the only Quarryman on the inside, and his hasty actions to remedy the situation were shaky at best. He had never officially joined the Quarrymen, that would have cost him his job, but he agreed with the basic ideas of the group. Gargoyles were sub-human and should be exterminated. The resurgence of the group after they were officially disbanded gave him a chance to work toward that goal. The money was good too.
Angel heard Cordelia laugh at something Doyle had said as she downloaded the information he needed from the Internet. He was glad to see them getting along so well. Doyle was still amazed at times at Cordelia’s reaction to his secret, and Angel had been a little surprised himself. She had been offended only that Doyle had believed she would care. The two had been growing closer ever since and had even gone out a few times.
Privately, Angel doubted if anything would come of it, and wondered occasionally if the novelty of it would wear off for her. He felt a little guilty about having such thoughts though. Cordelia might surprise them both. She had done it before.
"Got it," She called. Angel picked up the file he’d been reviewing and went into the outer office. "It wasn’t easy getting through, but the codes worked just like Mr. Xanatos said they would." Angel nodded and walked to the printer. The financial and personnel records were there for his perusal, just as promised. It wouldn’t take long to review them. Xanatos had well-established procedures for hiring people for sensitive positions, but Angel had a few ideas on the subject himself. He started with the background checks, but didn’t intend to stop there. As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary to dig very deep. Under the list of former employers for one of the guards just hired in L.A. there was a name Angel recognized.
"Wolfram and Hart?" He glanced up at his associates, meeting their eyes worriedly. "Doyle, Cordelia, this guy’s last job was with Wolfram and Hart."
"So? It’s a big firm," Cordelia pointed out. "Just ‘cause the guy worked for slime doesn’t mean he is slime."
"True," Angel allowed, "but he was fairly high up in their security section. A guy in that position would have seen things if not done things he would be keeping quiet about." Doyle nodded
"Maybe, but isn’t that sort of what Xanatos was lookin’ for? The gargoyles are a big secret for him. He wouldn’t hire people likely to run out and tell the tabloids. Besides, the guy is a bit shady himself. He would tend to hire people who can keep their mouths shut."
"Maybe," Angel acknowledged Doyle’s point, "but it’s what they would be keeping their mouths shut about that concerns me." He considered James Reed’s current job. "This guy is just muscle, though. Who did the hiring?" Cordelia flipped through the folder he had put on the desk.
"Here it is, ‘Tim Lamont’. Are you thinking that we need a closer look at Lamont?" Angel nodded.
"What about the other guys?" Doyle asked. "They look pretty normal as far as employment goes."
"Well, let’s have a look." Two hours later they had their answers.
Sata listened to the children bicker good-naturedly about the show and who would say what. It had already been laid out of course, the topics that would be discussed, if not the actual questions. Shana had apparently balked at that idea. Fox was apprehensive but positive. The talk show hostess had at least agreed to stick to certain topics.
The plan was still for the children to go on with Broadway. Brooklyn and Sata would watch from backstage. The show had been postponed, but was easily rescheduled. Shana had insisted on it. She wasn’t going to let an opportunity like this pass by.
The interview was to be taped immediately after that week’s show, which had had to be thrown together in a hurry with another topic. The entire business had upset the producer, but it hadn’t been their fault and he was still eager to have the interview on Shana’s show.
Now the interview was only an hour away and the clan was ready. Brooklyn was on the phone telling Goliath about the preparations for the interview.
"Yeah, the kids are excited. So is Broadway, but he’s trying not to show it. They’ll start taping in about an hour. It should be a great show."
"Timothy Lamont?" Lamont stopped and turned around. There was no one on the side street where he had parked but him. He frowned and turned back toward the small café where he was meeting his new employees for final instructions before heading to the studio. The pale, black clad roadblock set him back a pace.
"What? Who are you?"
"Name’s Angel. I’d like to talk to you about your hiring practices." Lamont knew the name instantly, but he didn’t perceive the P.I. as a threat. He was more annoyed than surprised or flustered at the man’s choice of topic.
"Mr. Xanatos already paid you a generous sum for your help and we are grateful-" Angel stepped closer to him, cutting him off.
"The thugs you hired to work security are a problem. I think they were hired to do a job, just not the one Xanatos has in mind."
"Your concern is appreciated," Lamont interrupted smoothly, without a hint of the nervousness that was starting to build in him, both because of Angel’s perceptiveness and his proximity, "but I cleared those men personally, and they-"
"That’s what concerns me. That and the bank account opened three days ago in your name here in L.A. at the International Bank of Commerce. There was a deposit earlier today, a big one. I’m willing to bet that the person who made that deposit has ties to the Quarrymen."
"I don’t know what your implying, but-"
"You know exactly what I’m implying. What’s the game Lamont? Going to kill them on national TV?"
"That’s not your concern," a quiet voice said from behind him. Angel felt the barrel of a gun pressed into his back. Lamont gave him a feral grin and stepped away, dropping any pretense.
"I take it you know this nosy P.I.?"
"Yeah," the voice answered. "I know all about you Angel."
"I kind of doubt that James." The sharp intake of breath let him know he had guessed right. "If you did then you would know," he turned as he spoke, knocking away the gun, grabbing the man by his shirt front and letting his demon show, "that pointing a gun at me is really, really stupid." The color drained from the man’s face as it did from those of his two companions. They began to slowly back away and Reed tried very hard to do the same. Angel held him easily.
"Consider yourselves unemployed." Angel gave him a shove and he staggered into the others. All three ran without looking back. Angel dismissed them and turned back to Lamont, the demon still showing. "Now then, where were we?"
The phone rang the instant Brooklyn set it down. Startled, he picked it up without thinking about it.
"Brooklyn? That you?"
"Yeah, its me. We got trouble. I just finished a conversation with Lamont, Xanatos’ man. He sold out to the Quarrymen. The studio’s going to be attacked soon now, by two mercenaries they hired."
"What!? Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I’m sure. The three men he hired here in L.A. were intended to help the attackers, not stop them. I suggest you and Sata get to the roof. Try to intercept them. I’ll be there as soon as I can."
Angel put away the cell phone and concentrated on his driving. He was only a few minutes from the studio, but he wasn’t sure he had enough time. The mercenaries Lamont had mentioned might already be there. Jackal and Hyena? What sort of names were those?
"Oh man, not now." Doyle slammed on the brakes as the light turned red and an impassable stream of cars started across the intersection. "Try again." Cordelia hit the speed dial again. This time there was no answer at all.
"No answer. I’ll bet he turned it off again." She dropped the phone back in her bag and double-checked the weaponry they had brought one more time. She suspected it wouldn’t be of much use against the two things she had seen pictured on the web page, but the arbalest was the closest thing they had to heavy weaponry.
Doyle stomped on the gas as soon as the light changed and barely missed the last car hurrying across. Heedless of the near miss he continued to accelerate, running the next two lights, but managing to miss the traffic as he drew closer to the studio. What they would do when they got there though, he had no idea.
The site chosen for the interview was not a regular Hollywood studio. It had been set up secretly in a completely different part of town where no one would think to look, at least that was the plan. The building in downtown L.A. was rather nondescript. It looked like many others that lined the busy street.
"Grief, and they call New York the city that never sleeps." Even given the late hour the traffic was heavy. His mate nodded absently, but her eyes were not on the street. They were on the sky. Something was moving through the air, coming fast.
"Brooklyn, look out!!" She tackled him as the blast struck the roof where he had been standing. The high-pitched, maniacal cackle that followed the blast told them immediately who their enemies were. The two cyborgs landed in front of them, weapons at the ready.
"Hey sis, I thought it was just supposed to be the ones doing the interview?" Hyena shrugged, clearly not caring.
"The more the merrier bro’. Do it." Dispensing with their usual weaponry Jackal fired a projectile at the pair of gargoyles. Sata’s katana flashed as she contemptuously batted it out of the air. The billowing green gas that erupted caught them by surprise. Both tried briefly to get away from it, but two extra canisters assured that there was no place to run. Both gargoyles collapsed within seconds. Hyena pouted.
"That was too easy. I was hoping for a fight."
"Maybe we can have some fun anyway," Jackal nodded toward a figure emerging onto the roof from the stairway. "Or not," he grumped as the figure walked without hesitation into the gas cloud.
Angel couldn’t take chances. These two, whatever they were, were simply too dangerous to risk confronting them in his usual fashion. Instead, he scooped up Brooklyn’s rifle and shot the female, not sure which was which. The bolt of energy caught her in the center of the chest. Some piece of high tech there sparked and exploded. She flipped over backwards. Her form sparked and twitched for a moment before lying still. The other’s jaw dropped in astonishment but that didn’t keep him from moving when the stranger, who apparently didn’t need to breathe, aimed the gun at him. With a cry of outrage, Jackal charged, opening up with his own built in laser.
Angel dove to the side as the male fired and tried to aim again, but Jackal was already on top of him. He snatched the rifle away and crushed it.
"That’s just a sample of what I’ll do to you," he snarled grasping the leather jacket. Angel hit him hard in the face just before he was thrown against the wall of the roof access stairway.
The vampire’s world reeled as he tried to regain his feet. The throbbing in the back of his head made it difficult to concentrate. He cried out in pain as a fist sporting several blades was driven into his gut, once more slamming him into the wall. The other hand came up into Angel’s line of sight sporting what looked like a miniature buzz saw. It began to whir and the mechanical thing bared his teeth in something that couldn’t be called a smile by any stretch of the imagination.
"Fun time," he gritted and brought the blade to Angel’s chest. Jackal’s blade had barely broken the skin though, when someone tackled him. There was a fair amount of momentum behind the charge and the pair fetched up against the opposite wall at the edge of the roof. The stranger was on top and began to hit Jackal in the face.
More angered than injured Jackal grabbed the arm of the presumptuous stranger and easily flipped him onto his back. Then he straddled the man, ready to do some pounding of his own. The sight before him caused him to stop and stare in confusion. He had been attacked by… a pincushion?
His attacker looked perfectly human, if one was willing to discount the green skin, red eyes, and the needle like projections that covered his face.
"What the hell?" At this point, the stranger surprised him again by breaking his grip and snapping his head forward. Jackal screamed in pain and surprise as several of the ‘pins’ gouged his face, barely missing his only remaining human eye. He slammed the stranger back down and brought the saw up and set it in motion again.
"Let’s see if your insides are as weird looking as your outside."
CLANG!! Jackal’s head rang like a bell as he was thrown off the green faced man. He looked up, his head still swimming and almost laughed at what he saw.
"Let’s not." Cordelia fit another bolt into the arbalest. "Move it, Doyle. Come on." The one called Doyle scrambled to his feet and ran to the side of the woman with the antique weapon. They backed away in a hurry as Jackal’s vision began to steady and he got to his feet. The look in his eyes apparently convinced her not to try for another shot. She dropped the weapon and both ran for the edge of the building, Jackal in hot pursuit.
Ignoring the fire escape that had gotten them to the roof, Cordelia and Doyle jumped over the side and fell. "Oh please! Oh please! Oh please!" Cordelia chanted on the way down. The cardboard boxes in the Dumpster collapsed under them, breaking their fall just as they had hoped.
Cordelia cried out as her ankle bent at an odd angle, but didn’t stop to do more than that as she clambered out of the trash bin. She glanced up just in time to see the tin man falling toward them, gouts of flame, jets of some sort, slowing his descent. He landed in the bin just as they had, but without as much cushioning; not that it appeared to bother him. He stood up; ready to come out of the bin after them only to receive his second knock on the head in under a minute as Doyle slammed the heavy metal lid on him.
Despite his augmentations, Jackal’s brain was just as susceptible to concussion as anyone’s. It just took a lot more to accomplish it. The first blow had left him too unsteady to fly. The second caused his head to ring again even though it was not nearly as hard. Jackal lost his balance and fell into the trash. He howled in outrage, but was forced to stay down until his head stopped spinning. At first, he thought the feeling of movement was another side effect of the punishment his skull had taken. He was just beginning to steady himself when his temporary abode was struck from the outside, and struck hard. It spun wildly, throwing him against one side and then another. Another impact, this time on the side he was leaning against nearly caused him to lose consciousness. He suddenly realized he could hear a noise from outside, lots of noises actually. After a moment of concentration, all of the lesser noises seemed to resolve themselves into one loud constant shriek, and he realized what he was hearing.
The eighteen-wheeler had cars rushing along on either side of it. Unable to turn, the driver applied his brakes, but there wasn’t enough time to drop even below 40. Cordelia and Doyle, now looking more human, watched with matching satisfied expressions as the Dumpster crumpled into a shape that couldn’t possibly contain a living person. It was pushed along for several seconds before slipping to the side and into the path of another truck.
"Well, that’s that." Cordelia dusted her hands off and Doyle chuckled.
"Yeah princess, that ought to do it." They turned back to the building, anxious to get to the roof and check on Angel. "Good shot," he complimented as he helped her limp through the back door.
Angel met them on the studio floor. The interview was in progress as if nothing unusual was happening. Fox joined them backstage.
"The police and an ambulance should be here in a few moments to take care of Hyena. Her cybernetic systems are heavily damaged, but she should pull through. It’ll be a long while though before she’s a threat to anyone. What about Jackal?"
"Oh we took care of him," Doyle said casually. Cordelia nodded.
"Trashed him." Both started to laugh, leaving Angel and Fox in the dark for the moment.
Brooklyn and Sata recovered to find the fight over. They’re children were crouched next to the couches they’d been given in the studio. The paramedics had come and gone, not at all sure what to do with the gargoyles. They had bound Cordelia’s sprained ankle and checked Doyle and Angel for concussion and suggested that they let the two gargoyles sleep off the effects of the tranquilizer.
When they regained consciousness the twins were all over them. It was several moments before things calmed down enough for them to get answers to their questions.
"Where’s Jackal now?" Brooklyn wanted to know.
"There’s a SWAT team cutting him out of the trash bin," Doyle laughed. "They should be at it a while. I don’t think the SWAT team will be necessary though. The Dumpster looks like a horseshoe."
"Couldn’t happen to a nicer cyborg." Brooklyn looked over Angel and his two employees. "I’m impressed. We’ve never managed to beat them that easily."
"We got lucky," Cordelia admitted. "There was a lot that could have gone wrong with that plan." She looked at Doyle seriously and he nodded.
"Yeah, princess, we were, but it worked out this time so why worry? I don’t plan to make a habit out of tackling cyborg freaks."
"Glad to hear it," Angel put a hands on their shoulders. "You both did great, and I appreciate the rescue, but I don’t like you two putting yourselves at risk like that."
"It would appear that once again, we are in your debt," David Xanatos cut off Cordelia’s scathing reply involving the cell phone her boss carried.
"Happy we could help," she said instead, in her most ingratiating manner. "So the interview went well, the bad guys are out of the way and no one got hurt too bad. All and all I think we earned our fee."
"Absolutely," Fox agreed moving to stand beside her husband.
"Maybe we earned a little break too. I think we could all use a little down time after…" She trailed off as Doyle crumpled against her, clutching his head. Cordelia automatically shifted her weight to support him and helped him toward the couch. When she sat him down she cast an aggrieved look heavenward and seemed to be addressing the universe in general. "What do you do? Sit around all day waiting for openings like that?" The humans and gargoyles traded confused looks as Angel knelt next to Doyle. Finally, the pain faded and he looked up at his two friends.
"We got trouble."