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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Seven: Cause for Alarm
"Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not."
Between one thing and another, Jonathan and Spike didn't end up leaving Sunnydale until 2:00 am. What with Spike's wounds and Jonathan's after-magic exhaustion, they burned a few hours patching up, snacking, and napping in Spike's crypt. Jonathan was tired enough that he probably could have slept the whole night through, but being shoved off a blanketed coffin to a cold stone floor had put an end to that.
The trip to L.A. was an eye-opener. Riding Wesley's motorcycle through the streets of L.A. had been an adventure; riding Spike's motorcycle down the highway, seated behind the owner and holding on for dear life, was much more challenging. At times, Jonathan got the feeling that Spike thought they were both crashproof.
The whole experience was like a visit to another world. The wind of their passage muted all outside sound, and the landscape blurred in motion like an Impressionist painting. There wasn't even a heartbeat to keep Jonathan company; he might as well have been clinging to a marble statue. Or maybe that guy from "Terminator 2", the one made of liquid metal, muscles flowing slightly under Jonathan's palms with every turn and lane-change.
The thought of the Terminator movies reminded him of Sarah Connor at the end of the first one. With the lonely road unrolling before her, and Destiny waiting at the other end-- except for the whole sunny thing, and the jeep, and the speaking Spanish, and all. It made Jonathan feel quasi-cool again, and he took an imaginary snapshot of the moment. In his mental game of Life vs. the Short Idiot, the Short Idiot had just scored another point.
When they arrived at the Hyperion, all the lights were still on. Jonathan was a little surprised-- it was nearly 4:00 am, after all, and almost everybody was supposed to be gone until tomorrow. Later today, actually. Maybe there had been a vision, or something, or maybe Angel couldn't sleep. He was a creature of the night, right?
Spike paused just outside the front doors and prodded Jonathan with a finger, glowering at him. "Now remember, you haven't filled your end of the deal yet. So no standing by and encouraging them to stake me."
Jonathan flinched, surprised at the vampire's sudden change of attitude. "I thought you said Angel was your grandsire, or something. Why would they want to stake you?"
Spike shrugged, sticking his hands in the pockets of his duster. "Oh, I indulged in a spot of torture last time I was here. Don't know if he's forgiven me yet."
Jonathan stared at him in disbelief. It looked like his little deal was about to backfire, bigtime. "Then why did you come? Now they're going to be upset with me all over again, and it's not even my fault!"
Spike rolled his eyes and growled at him. "Oh, for... Look, mate, it's complicated. Vampire family dynamics. Not something Angel would go pinning on sodding bystanders. I'm here for Buffy and Dawn, and once I say so I think the ponce will help, but I can't explain if I'm a pile of dust."
Jonathan blinked at him, momentarily dizzied by the unreality of the moment. Am I actually arguing with an evil being six times my age? he thought. Stupid! "Okay, okay," he said, and let his posture crumble a little in submission. He turned and opened the double door, walking into the well-lit welcome of the Hyperion's lobby.
The lobby's only occupant at the moment was Lorne, the green-skinned, red-eyed, aura-reading demon that worked with Angel Investigations. Jonathan had been more than a little disturbed by his presence Thursday night when they first met, but so far Lorne had shown far more inclination to talk than to mangle. That, from Jonathan's point of view, was a major checkmark in the OK column.
"Hey, kiddo," Lorne said, rising from his seat on the lobby couch. "Where have you been? That was a pretty impressive departure."
"Not my idea, believe me," Jonathan said, with a rueful smile. "I got wish-napped, courtesy of my old Sunnydale partners. Spike drove me back."
"Wish-napped?" Lorne asked, sounding puzzled.
At that moment, the doors behind Jonathan swung open again and Spike came through, swaggering into the hotel with his Big Bad attitude firmly in place.
"And Spike drove me back," Jonathan repeated, watching Lorne carefully for his reaction. The demon hadn't seemed violence-prone so far, but if there was one thing Jonathan had learned in Sunnydale, it was that people were seldom what they seemed to be. Lorne might have a stake hidden in one of those brilliant blue sleeves-- where did he get outfits like that, anyway?
"Oi! It's the Host!" Spike exclaimed, unexpectedly breaking into a huge grin.
"William, sugar, it's been far too long." Was that an answering smile on Lorne's face?
Spike was still smiling, but he raised an eyebrow at Lorne's comment. "None of that, now. Save the poof-talk for Peaches. What are you doing in his hotel, anyway? Night off at Caritas?"
Jonathan sighed, relieved that Spike's warning about stakeage seemed unnecessary. "Do you know everybody?" he muttered, low enough that only vampire hearing would pick up the comment.
Spike threw Jonathan an amused look, but didn't answer.
"Well," Lorne began, "after Angel-cakes got the club destroyed for the third time..." He spread his hands wide, in a what-else-could-I-do? gesture.
Spike snorted. "Typical. He's got a funny idea of friendship."
"Oh, he means well," Lorne said. "Usually. If you were here to meet him, by the way, he's out on a case; Cordelia called in a vision about an hour ago. Angel went out after it. They'll probably be awhile."
Spike sighed and crossed his arms, looking pensive. "Well, that plan's buggered, then. Don't suppose there's a phone book lying around?"
"In the office," Lorne said. "Over this way."
Jonathan watched the two walk away, deep in conversation. So much for telling his story anytime tonight. Besides, no matter what Spike was planning, there wasn't much Jonathan could do to help; he was pretty tired. A few hours' nap in a crypt didn't compare to a full night's sleep, which is what he needed after the events in the cemetery.
So. Stay down here, or go up to his room and catch a few more winks? Easy decision. They could fill him in later.
The sun woke Jonathan around ten in the morning, reaching across the pillows to warm his face. It wasn't uncomfortable, really, just the slightest tug at his dreaming mind; it took several minutes for his unconscious to nag the rest of him fully awake.
"Nnnngh," Jonathan mumbled, sitting up slowly and rubbing at sleep-crusted eyes. The hotel was still there, that was good; nobody had come looking for him yet, and that was OK by him, too. This Good Guy thing was still pretty new-- this would be the second full day-- and he wasn't sure if he had the staying-power yet to be part of the cavalry on a 24/7 basis.
He showered slowly, washing off all the grit from his motorcycle trip the night before and his encounters with Sunnydale soil, then took a minute to check for zits in the mirror. He had a minor acne-bane enchantment going, but he'd forgotten to wash his face the night before. It didn't hurt to double-check. Being short was bad enough, he couldn't afford to be ugly, too.
When he'd finished reassuring his vanity, Jonathan went digging in his duffel. Same black jeans, another black long-sleeved tee; he hadn't packed any colorful clothes, but then, he hadn't expected to be doing much in Jonathan-shape except sneaking around. Oh well. Sooner or later he'd make it to the mall.
The lobby was empty when he got downstairs, a big change from the day before. There was no sign of Spike, or Lorne, or any of the other members of the gang. Well, it was Saturday; did they work a 5-day, or 5-night, week? Or were they always on the clock, like superheros? It was hard to tell, since there wasn't any kind of a schedule visible, and Jonathan didn't have any of their phone numbers.
No sooner had Jonathan formed that thought, than the front doors of the hotel opened, and a brunette chick in leather pants walked in. Oval face, pale skin, attractive features... man's shirt? She exuded confidence and attitude, and had several inches on him, much to his dismay. She also looked a little bit familiar.
"Hey, you," she said, studying him with expressive dark eyes. "Where's Angel at?"
"Um," he said. "I'm not sure. I don't exactly work here. Do I know you?"
She raised an eloquent eyebrow at him. "I don't think so," she said dismissively, and changed the subject. "So if you don't work for Angel, what are you doing here?"
Wait! That was it! He'd run into her once before, when she was hanging out with Buffy, and got that same better-than-thou look from her then. And she had ended up in the newspapers several months after the mayor thing, he couldn't remember what for. Something dangerous.
"You better come back later," Jonathan said warily. "I think everyone's asleep, they had a late case last night."
It didn't look like she believed him. "You just said you don't work here. No one's around, and the front door's unlocked. Sounds fishy to me." She reached behind her back, and a long knife came out of the waistband of her leather pants. Her lips shaped themselves into an approximation of a smile, but there was nothing friendly about it.
"You don't work here either," he pointed out, sneaking glances around the area from the corners of his eyes. Where was the weapons cabinet? Damn. He was going to get cut to shreds on behalf of the agency, and he wasn't even officially helping them yet. How fair was that?
"Faith?" Thank God, another person at the door. Whoever it was would at least distract her, if not help him. But... wait, was that Wesley? In a matching outfit? Was he with her?
Faith glanced back over her shoulder at Wesley with a little frown. "We got an intruder here, Wes," she said. "Evil guy. Don't think he's a demon, but ya never know."
"Hey!" Jonathan said, irritated. "I'm not evil! Not anymore, anyway. I wish people would stop assuming that."
Wesley stepped forward, placing a careful hand on Faith's shoulder. She let him into her personal space without so much as a glance, keeping her focus on Jonathan.
"Well, you did spend considerable time on the wrong side recently," Wesley said, smiling slightly at Jonathan over Faith's shoulder. "And the black clothing doesn't help. However... he's not slaying material, Faith. Best put the knife away."
"Damn," she said, disappointed. "I was kind of hoping for a good fight." She tucked the knife away again with a sigh, then paced over to the couch and took a seat, still watching Jonathan.
Jonathan watched her right back, trying to keep his skin from crawling. Faith was as intimidating as Spike was, even with the knife hidden. He swallowed, and replied to Wesley's comment. "Actually, black clothes are all I've got, unless you want me running around naked. It's not like I had much time to pack."
To his surprise, that got a smile out of Faith. "Join the club," she said. "They don't allow for much luggage in prison. Where are you running from?"
"Sunnydale," he said, shortly.
Her smile widened. "Oh, I should have guessed. This place is full of rejects from Sunny-D."
"It looks as though we're about to get more," Wesley muttered, walking over to take a seat next to Faith. He had a sheet of paper in his hands, covered in a script that was unfamiliar to Jonathan. He must have picked it up off the counter.
"More what? Rejects?" Jonathan asked warily. "Is that from Angel, or Spike?" Was it about the vision, or the lawyer visit?
"Spike?" Wesley looked up, blinking at him in alarm. "William the Bloody was here? When?"
"Uh, about four this morning," Jonathan replied. "Long story. He's here to help Buffy; Giles is driving her and Dawn down sometime today."
Wesley narrowed his eyes a little, and Jonathan could practically see the wheels turning in the British man's brain. Really, it was amazing the difference it made, that the glasses were gone. This version of Wesley looked a lot more tough and calculating than the other one, without the lenses to soften that steel-blue gaze.
"Cordelia's vision involved Dawn," he said sharply, "and Wolfram and Hart. Perhaps you'd better tell me everything."
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.