Title: Of Hunters and their Prey (7/?)
Disclaimer/Summary: See Part 1.
This part includes an itsy bitsy tiny reference to Highlander. Don’t own it either.
Betaing thanks goes as always to MJ and RHR. The two and Calia were very patient at being used as idea-bouncers. Any remaining mistakes are my own.
Thanks too for the reviews concerning the part 6 (Happy author here *G*).
7. Play with me
How does that saying go? Third time’s a charm. Whoever said that lied. Their third attempt didn’t work either. Spike and Xander didn’t even get to the airport. They didn’t even reach the road to the airport. This time the boundary was the damn entrance to NORAD! A totally frustrated duo found themselves led back to the all too well-known conference room to discuss what they would do next.
“Any suggestions?” asked General Hammond.
A grumpy Spike exchanged glances with an equally grumpy Xander and told Hammond: “Yeah, gimme the phone.”
“Time to call Deadboy?” Xander asked. Spike only threw him a resigned grimace.
They told the L.A. and the Sunnydale gangs that they were unsuccessful in trying to get to L.A. yet again. They didn’t tell them however that this time they didn’t even make it off the damn base. The reactions last time were enough. After the explanations, they could hear laughter that no one even tried to suppress. And then there were the questions in the background, the phone being handed around, the process repeating itself countless times… Not again, thank you very much! They just told the gang that they couldn’t cross the entrance. That was enough! They didn’t need to know that every time Spike and Xander tried to walk through the entrance gate, they were pulled back. First time Xander to Teal’c and Spike to Jack, second time Xander landed with Jack and Spike with Teal’c. Third time to the amusement of Jack and to the grumbling of an annoyed vampire Xander was pulled to Daniel and Spike to Carter.
“Hey, I don’t do blondes anymore.” The annoyed vampire yelled to heaven.
Daniel cleared his throat, pushed Xander a bit from himself after seeing the look Teal’c throw him, and told Spike: “Jack’s a blonde.”
“No.” Spike contradicted. “He was a blonde. Now he’s grey.”
So no, if Spike and Xander could prevent it, they would not be telling anyone anything. They kept the call short intentionally, skilfully avoiding answering questions about what happened this time. Xander was thankful that Willow’s puppy eyes didn’t work over phone. By the same token, Spike was thankful this was also true for his Nibblet’s puppy eyes. Since the eyes were not an issue, it wasn’t too difficult to resist. They just ignored the blackmail attempts and pleaded with Angel (with reluctance) to go and check with his contacts for them. This wasn’t too humiliating after they had endured a seemingly eternal round of (hopefully) good natured mockery. So now Spike and Xander just needed to kill time until Angel called back and they hopefully got an answer. Spike knew just what to do during this time!
Just because Spike had a plan didn’t mean the person who was at the centre of those plans was willing to cooperate. As soon as Jack was sure that their guests wouldn’t leave the base (again), he asked the General to be allowed to check out and went home.
With his playmate gone, what was a bored vampire to do? Creature of the night here! Spike needed an alternative plan of entertainment. He would have liked to catch up with Georgie and reminisce over old times. Unfortunately it was the General’s daughter’s birthday and Hammond was already late. If there was one thing Spike wouldn’t do, it was seeing his unofficial goddaughter when there were candles and open flames nearby.
It was one of the mysteries of the Universe but Spike, Jocelyn and fire was a bad combination. On Jo’s second birthday Spike’s jacket caught fire from a candle on the birthday cake.
Three years later he visited on New Year’s Eve and he was burned by her as she waved around a sparkler a bit too close to him. The next incident happened when she was ten and Spike came to visit to bring her a Christmas present. They had stolen out of the house with a candle because the flashlight didn’t work. Jo just needed to show him the place where she fed the rabbits with Daddy and where you could see millions and millions of stars. Jo loved to talk, but she talked a lot with her hands. Spike should have known better, but he let her carry the candle. Between talking and hand waving Spike got another little hole burnt in his duster.
These types of incidents continued to happen at three Fourth Julys, six other Christmases, ten other birthdays and a few assorted other events. Spike and Jo loved each other to bits and George Hammond couldn’t have wished for a better vampire god-father for his daughter. But the whole family had learned that Spike shouldn’t be at family events where open fire was required.
They made up the missed events by making other memories. Jo had to wait for a present from the tooth fairy six months because Uncle Spikey needed to see her first lost tooth before a lowly fairy could have the honour of coming to collect it. He had to come to see her first goldfish and then her first kitten. Then he had to come and comfort her when said first fish was eaten by said first, now a bit older, cat. When he couldn’t visit without letting Drusilla know about them, he was sent lots of pictures.
The night he had told Georgie about himself, a very earnest looking six year old had made Spike give his word to never hurt his family and especially his parents. They shook hands on it and Spike made sure to keep his promise. In consequence the vampire had a trunk full of pictures: Jocelyn riding her brand-new pink bicycle for the first time, her first sleep-over party, her first day of school, her graduation, her wedding day, the birth of Kayla and Tessa, …
So no, accompanying Georgie to a birthday party was definitely out. Not with the history they had with open flames. He would visit her later, if he could. For now however, time to look for other kinds of amusement. But first he went looking for the whelp. Spike would bet Xander needed a diversion too.
It wasn’t difficult to find Xander. The vampire had expected the boy to use his only way of distancing himself from the alien. Xander had barricaded himself in the guest quarters Hammond had assigned them.
Spike had his work cut out for him to persuading Xander to leave the safety of his room and take a step outside the door. Only the promise of Twinkies or similar treats AND the promise of protection from Teal’c and any advances by said alien had the one eyed man agreeing to accompany the vampire.
When they arrived at the base cafeteria news of Spike’s destination had preceded them. The cafeteria was prepared. To his disappointment Spike couldn’t get a single bowl of jello or piece of cake, as if he would do anything when soldier boy wasn’t there to see it. Ok, he sooo would. But only himself, Xander and Georgie knew that… Georgie! He must have warned them! He didn’t let him have fun anymore! Spike did the only thing he could do in this situation; he pouted, not that he ever would admit it.
A food fight was out. The kitchen personnel watched him with eagle-eyes, ready to intercept any moves that would threaten their newly clean cafeteria. Ok, time to find other things to do. Spike turned to their escort and asked: “What do you lot do for entertainment ‘round here then?”
“Er-, work?” was the slow answer.
“You mean to tell me that you only work here and do nothing else! Come on, you don’t really think I would believe you. You work at a soddin’ military base! Aliens or not, there must be boring days!” Spike yelled in frustration, continuing his rant under his breath. “Should have asked soldier boy. I bet he knows how to amuse himself on base.”
It took a while but finally he got their military escort to admit that there were training rooms and that the General maybe, but only maybe, wouldn’t have any objection to Spike using it. Now he only needed to find a partner to spar with. And hurrah, there was one. The whelp sure looked like he could use some relaxing. Xander was jumpy, ducking under the table every time someone came through the doors, looking right, left and in circles to see if there were any alien guys with snakey worms in their anatomy nearby. Yep, Xander needed a distraction too. Urgently!
It took the repeated use of some whining and needling to get Xander to agree. He just couldn’t follow Spike’s logic that getting bruises and being thrown on his ass would be a better distraction from their situation, shortening the time they had to wait for Angel’s call. But finally Spike got his way. They marched to the base’s training room and started.
After a particular painful attack that left him bleeding Xander couldn’t stop himself from saying, “Hey, I’m the normal one! Could you cut back your superhuman strength?! Easily breakable human being here!” The work out went better for both sides after Spike remembered to pull his blows. Xander gave as good as he got and Spike had to admit that he had fun fighting with him.
They both were so absorbed in their verbal and physical sparring that they didn’t notice the crowd forming. Only a loud growl made them stop and take notice of their surroundings. It seemed the resident alien had found them finally – unsurprisingly considering the way he seemed attracted to Xander.
Xander sighed. It would have been too much to expect to have a completely alien free night. He should never have let the vampire lure him out of their nice, private quarters. Now here was the big alien-guy, standing in front of him, making with the aggressive noises. Xander totally blamed Spike. Since it was the vampire’s fault, Xander saw no reason to not hide behind him. He himself would be manly and buff again when there wasn’t a 6' 3", pissed off alien in the vicinity. Besides if he was reading the situation correctly Teal’c seemed angry at Spike and not him. Maybe a better hiding place would be the crowd? Carefully Xander inched away from the vampire and towards the mass behind him… only to stop when his movement drew the attention of Teal’c.
“Are you alright, Xander Harris?” the alien asked him.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.” Slowly Xander inched closer to his target. “No need to worry. I’ve got worse on patrol. Spike didn’t really hurt me…too badly.” Maybe he shouldn’t have said the last sentence?
“S’alright mate, s’not like the whelps permanently damaged or anything.” Maybe Spike shouldn’t have said that either, Xander thought, as Teal’c’s attention swung back to the vampire, who was bouncing on his toes in boredom.
“Would you agree to spar with me? I am always looking for a worthy opponent.” Teal’c asked the vampire. Xander was sure he saw a wolfish smirk crossing the big guy’s face but it was gone so fast he couldn’t be sure.
Spike answered, “Sure, bring it on.” making begging motions with his hands. That was Xander’s sign. He dived away as fast as possible and stopped only once he reached the spectators. Granted safety by distance (hopefully) he turned around to watch the oncoming massacre. Who would massacre whom, he wasn’t sure. But that there would only be one immo… man standing, was a safe bet.
At first they only circled around each other, both waiting for the other to make the first move. Then Spike got bored and lunged forward. Teal’c blocked the blow and countered with his own targeting the vampire’s knees. Spike jumped out of the way and swung at the alien’s back. After that, attack followed attack. Neither one prepared to give an inch, both seeking an advantage. The movements were so fast that the spectators couldn’t see them separately anymore. The two fighters were a blur of motion. Both used any advantage they could get. Sometimes Spike got a hit in, sometimes Teal’c.
The fight continued for a long time until Teal’c called for a time out. One of Spike’s last kicks had met his stomach and left Teal’c bent, holding it protectively. Both looked a lot worse for wear. Bruises were forming. Spike had blood on his lip and Teal’c on his knuckles.
Taking off his shirt the alien looked for any visible damages.
“So, the stick up your ass gone yet, mate?” Spike asked, having noticed that the main reason that Teal’c challenged him were the injuries Xander had received in their sparing session. If the alien really wanted to pursue Xander, he still had to learn that Xander and injuries were inevitable and no one would able to stop the whelp from continuing to fight, especially if he saw it as the right thing to do.
Teal’c answer was prevented by a new and unexpected occurrence. His symbiote must have felt the alien’s resentment of the Spike’s comment. At least this was the only explanation Teal’c could think of. Once again the larva was leaning half out of the x-incision in his stomach. It had its jaws opened threatening and made hissing noises in Spike’s direction.
As usual the vampire was not impressed. “If you want to play with the big boys, you still need a bit more freedom of movement. Don’t think you can live without your incubator there.” He cocked an eyebrow, reassured himself that his view of the spectators was blocked by Xander, who had moved closer to head off the confrontation between Teal’c and Spike. The vampire bent down to it, went into demon face and growled menacing at the larva, showing as many sharp teeth as possible. “Go back into your puppy or I’ll see if you taste worse then the last demon I made eat his own dick, because he wanted to give me shit.” He snapped his mouth together a mere inches from it and straightened up. The larva gave one last hiss and went back into the pouch.
Any further comments were interrupted by an airman. He had orders to inform them that Angel had finally called and left a message to call him back at the Hyperion.
Earlier in Los Angeles
Angel was frustrated. “Go get some information. It’ll be easy for you. You have contacts. You’re a Champion. They should throw you the information.” He hit the wall next to him with his fist. “It would be easy if someone in this damn city KNEW anything!”
After getting the call from Spike, the Scoobies, Angel and his team sat down for a spur of the moment meeting. They agreed to send Faith and Gunn out to seek information from their own contacts. Willow, Giles, Dawn, Fred and Wesley would, together with the rest of the new Slayers, pore over the books in hope of finding any prophecies or spells that would help explain the duos inability to come home to them. Andrew was put in charge of the kitchen, with instructions to cook for an army. This way everyone could have something to eat and drink when they were able to take a break.
Angel himself had taken Buffy with him. Their first stop had been Wolfram and Hart. But getting information from lawyers was like pulling lion’s teeth. You would never guess he was the boss, the way they evaded his questions. The only straight answer they got was from a security guard who told them he wasn’t sure if the lawyers knew the answers but they sure were amused at Spike’s and Harris’ predicament. Following the first failure the two tried Angel’s various other contacts. They talked with them, tried to bargain, to flatter, to flirt, to intimidate but no one had heard anything. Angel and Buffy had run from one end of the city to the other… without success. They were both tired. Calculating, the Slayer looked against heaven. It couldn’t really do any harm – she hoped. Looking around and seeing not a soul except themselves, she threw her head back and yelled: “Hey, Powers that Be! Your Champions are calling you! His Childe and my friend need answers! Get off your asses and send a messenger with answers!” Waiting she listened in the darkness, just then noticing the look of horror on Angel’s face she asked, “What?!”
Neither Whistler nor any other messengers appeared. Angel didn’t know what Buffy had expected, but it would have been nice just once to get an answer when they needed it. He took a deep breath and sighed, thinking about what to do next. Lorne! Maybe Lorne would know something! Unfortunately the demon wasn’t any help either. It wasn’t Angel’s nor Buffy’s destiny they were trying to determine, so the two of them singing would only have been a repeated torture for Lorne’s ears without getting any result. They couldn’t think of any other way for finding the answers they needed, so Angel tried one final desperate possibility. He didn’t imagine it would have success but it was the only thing he could think of trying without shipping Lorne to Colorado.
This was why he found himself at the gateway to the realm of the deceased Oracles. His last hope was that in their realm his pleas would have better chances of being heard by the Powers. He had sent Buffy back to the Hyperion, saying she should check up on the others but secretly afraid what she would do if there they didn’t get any answers here.
Once transported to the Oracles’ realm he looked around. Nothing much had changed. The blood of the murdered Oracles was still on the ground but their bodies had disappeared. It seemed the caretakers didn’t bother to finish the clean up job. A bit helpless Angel looked around. What should he do now? Figuring yelling was again an option but maybe he should start with stating his request calmly and politely, he placed himself in the middle of the hall. Gathering his thoughts the vampire took an unneeded breath and began to speak: “Your Highnesses, your humble servant needs help. I’m seeking knowledge on behalf of my Childe William the Bloody, nowadays calling himself Spike. After dying in the battle of Sunnydale, he reappeared on a military base in Colorado. Xander Harris, a friend of the Slayer Buffy Summers, appeared there too. They tried to come to Los Angeles several times but were brought back to the base. The last time they couldn’t even leave the base. Your Highnesses, I seek answers in the name of my Childe and the Slayers friend. Please tell us why they can’t come home. Please.” Angel thought that was humble enough. If that didn’t get him an answer, he didn’t know what else to say. He sat down hoping for the best.
What he got was nothing. He waited for two hours. The impending dawn and the knowledge that Spike and Harris were waiting for answers finally caused him to get up and make his way home but not before looking towards the hall’s ceiling and grumbling, “I know, we’re only lowly beings to you, but a bit of help when we need it would be much appreciated. It would improve the working conditions and morale enormously. SO COULD YOU A LEAST GET UP OFF YOUR LAZY ASSES AND TELL US IF WHAT’S HAPPENING IS YOUR FUCKING WORK OR SOMEONE ELSE’S!!!” Okay, maybe he DID channel Cordelia a bit too much or maybe he should let his friends check him for possession? Nah, that’s Harris, not him!
At the same time in a different realm
Imhotep knocked on the door of Vitus’ house. Vitus was his boss and above him in the hierarchy of the beings which the humans called ‘The Powers that Be’. Once he heard “Enter”, he carefully opened the door and looked in, checking if the Power was in good mood. He knew it probably wouldn’t hold but better a good mood going bad than a bad mood getting worse. The last time his boss had been in a bad mood no one had dared to speak to him for one month, other then when it was absolutely necessary. Double checking that he really was in no immediate danger Imhotep slunk into the room and stopped in front of his boss, waiting to be acknowledged. “What do you want?” he was asked.
“My Lord, two of our Champions, the Slayer Buffy and the vampire Angel, have persistently called us...”
His boss impatiently interrupted his careful planed speech. “What do you mean, they persist? They aren’t due for a new message yet. Who do they think they are?! WE are the ones to call on them, not the other way around! Stop wasting my time with this nonsense and get back to your work!”
“Yes, My Lord.” He tried again. “But, My Lord, it could be important! The vampire Angel said that his Childe Spike and Xander Harris, the Slayer’s friend, can’t leave a military base in Colorado. The Champions want to know if we can give them the answers they seek.” He explained quickly, ready to duck out of the office and retreat as soon as it appeared necessary.
That got Vitus’ attention. “A military base? William shouldn’t be back already, and not there. That destroys all our plans! Who is responsible for this?! You will investigate this! I want the one responsible and a report in five minutes! AND HE BETTER HAVE A GOOD EXPALANTION!!! I’M SURROUNDED BY INCOMPETENCE!!! ARE YOU STILL HERE?! GET OUT!!!”
Back at the SGC-Base
As Spike and Xander walked through the corridors towards the conference room they collected a small entourage. They had a short discussion before leaving the training room about who should join them and Teal’c insisted that they send for Hammond, who had apparently returned to sleep on base for precisely this reason. They were informed by the airman that SG-1 had already been informed on the General’s order and that they were to be present for the call too.
Carter, Jackson, and the General met them on their way to the conference room. They piled in through the door and Hammond dismissed their escort. They had another brief discussion about waiting for Jack but Spike and Xander were too impatiently and insisted on calling immediately. Seeing that it would be a hopeless cause to try and change their minds and understanding their reasons, Hammond pushed the phone towards Spike. The vampire dialled the number for the Hyperion and put the phone on the speaker.
“Spike? Xander? Is that you?” A chorus of female voices greeted them.
“I’m sorry! We looked but we could find any information and Faith and Gunn and Angel asked all their informants and they didn’t know anything either and we’re really, really sorry…” Willow babbled at them.
“Hey! We agreed to tell them the news slowly. Slowly! We didn’t want to disappoint them.” Willow was interrupted by Buffy.
“But they know we’ll keep looking for answers. And we still need to tell them the good news…”
“What good news?” Willow was interrupted again, this time by Xander.
“We didn’t find any prophecies either that would pertain to your situation either.”
“Wills, this isn’t really reassuring. Just means someone other than Powers is playing with us.”
“No, Red. The whelp’s right. Doesn’t mean it isn’t the Powers but it also leaves other possibilities.” Spike answered her.
“Angel has an idea.” Dawn brought herself in the conversation.
“Since when? Ehm, sorry, I’ll be quiet now.” Xander said. Suppressed snickering could be heard, on both ends of the phone.
“If you’re all finished now?! I thought…” the laughter got louder. Angel continued, ignoring the reaction. “We could ask Lorne to fly out to you, so that you could sing for him.”
“Ehm, has the hair gel completely destroyed your brain cells?” Xander asked confused. “How would singing help us?!”
“Lorne’s a demon from another dimension and can…” Spike’s explanation was very rudely, at least to Spike’s way of thinking, interrupted by one irritating alien.
"Quiet! Do you hear that?" exclaimed Teal'c.
Everyone in the conference room stopped to listen. The group on the phone was quiet as well. If they concentrated they could faintly hear what Teal'c meant… it seemed to get louder, coming from a corner of the conference room. Two voices seemed to be arguing about something and everyone turned to stare at the place where the voices seemed to be originating. With intense concentration they could make out shadows. As the voices got louder the silhouettes got easier to distinguish.
“What’s going on guys? Spike? Xander? Are you guys ok?” Dawn shouted, having (presumably) snatched the phone from Angel.
Any answer she might have gotten was interrupted by a voice from the door of the conference room. "What the fuck?" It seemed like the cavalry had arrived or in this case Jack.