Chapter 14: Family.
Jake walked through the lair, a cocky swagger in his step as he nodded at the guards at the door to the inner sanctum. After his encounter last night, he had hit the streets to feed. For a town that was under the protection of the slayer and her band of friends, it was surprising easy to feed without consequence.
After feeding he had hit the local bars again with a few of the vamps lower in station than he was, the group drinking more than their feed of blood, both free and in glasses, followed by as much liquor as they could stand before they had returned to the lair to sleep the day away. Now that sunset had fallen, it was time to head out.
He laughed when he thought of what was to come...
Mistress would be pleased with his efforts tonight. He had done as she had instructed, lead the bleach haired vampire away from the hospital.
He couldn’t believe how easy it had been to wind the vampire up like that. All it took was a couple of deliberate statements, a couple of leering looks at the mention of the slayer, and Spike had become enraged.
It had been all the proof that he needed for his mistress. It was as she had suspected… another of the family had fallen victim to the slayers charms. Not that his mistress cared for the second, it was the principle behind it. She didn’t like her family being corrupted; she didn’t like the name that Buffy was giving her family in the underworld circles.
The Order of Aurelius was once the most powerful vampiric family in the world. Now… because of the slayer, the name no longer held such power, nor did it command the respect it so rightfully deserved.
But it would once more.
Spike approached the door to the Magic Box shortly after sunset. When Willow had dropped by his crypt early this morning, he had been surprised to say the least. The fact that they had even considered to fill him in on what was going on was a pleasant surprise.
Maybe they were taking him seriously; maybe he was going to be more included, maybe they were beginning to trust him…
So okay, that last one might be a bit of a stretch. But being informed of the meeting, that was a start.
Stopping at the door to the shop, he raised his hand to open it when he felt a presence behind him. Figures that he’d be invited.
“Spike.” Angel greeted coolly. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Wouldn’t be anywhere else.” Spike replied bluntly.
Before anything else could be said between them, Spike reached for the doorknob and twisted it open.
Cordelia paced the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel in LA, wondering why Angel wouldn’t have called to check in. Things were not right between them, not like they used to be. But they were still part of a team. A team that was supposed to check in with the home base, especially when they were out on assignment.
He had been gone for days now.
Back in Sunnydale… she thought.
She couldn’t help but wonder if he had volunteered so readily to go back there because of Buffy. Of course that’s why… she rolled her eyes. Not that she was really that perturbed by it, Sunnydale was not somewhere she planned on going any time soon. Yes it was her hometown, but she had moved up and on.
Sick of waiting, she reached for the phone and began to punch in the telephone number.
“Cordelia…” a voice called from the office.
“Ugh!” Cordelia muttered as she hung up the phone. “But Wes he was supposed to check in three days ago.”
“I’m sure everything’s fine.” He said calmly. “Don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried.” She retorted. “I’m annoyed. I’m sure he’s just using this as an excuse to get out of work.”
Wesley shook his head in disbelief. Getting up from his desk he walked into the foyer where Cordelia was perched upon the bench, a frown spread across her face. “It probably isn’t even switched on anyway.” He pointed out. “You know Angel doesn’t know how to use his cell.”
“Alright.” She said begrudgingly. A thought occurred to her, a smile spreading across her face. “I could always leave a message for him at the shop that Giles runs now, then we’d know he’d get it.”
Wes thought about it for a moment before nodding in agreement. It was troubling that Angel hadn’t checked in. “Alright. The name of the shop is The Magic Box. I have the number written down in my office.”
Cordelia waited for Wesley to return with it, before quickly dialing.
“Are you sure that you’re comfortable?” Giles persisted.
“I’m fine Giles, really.” Buffy said with a smile.
A meeting had been called (after dusk so that Angel and Spike could attend), to share the information that had been discovered over the past few days. Willow, Xander and Tara were seated with Buffy at the table, Giles standing nearby with his notebook in his hand.
Anya was also in attendance but she was busily counting money from the daily takings. Spike and Angel were standing near the front counter, switching from shooting looks of distrust and annoyance at each other, to eyeing Buffy with concern. Buffy was seemingly oblivious to their watching eyes, but Willow who was sitting right beside her, was not.
The next-door neighbour was watching Dawn, something she was not at all impressed by, but it had to be done.
“Alright, I suppose we can begin.” Giles said, satisfied that Buffy was comfortable enough.
Just then the telephone rang.
“Let the machine get it Anya.” Giles instructed.
Anya shrugged her shoulders and continued with her counting. Her greeting echoed through out the room and seconds later a familiar voice followed.
“Giles? Giles are you there?” the female on the line sighed in frustration. “It’s Cordelia.”
A frown instantly marred Anya’s face as she shot a glare in Xander’s direction.
“Have you seen Angel? We’ve been trying to get in contact with him but apparently he’s forgotten that a cell phone needs to be switched on for it to work.”
“Did you want to answer that?” Giles asked, a grin spreading across his face. Buffy and Willow both chuckled at Cordelia’s obvious annoyance. Before Angel could respond Cordelia sighed loudly before continuing.
“Anyway, I was just calling because Wes may have some information for Angel about the whereabouts of--“
Cordelia’s voice cut out as Angel answered the phone.
“Cordelia I’m here.” He spoke.
Giles frowned in consideration as he watched on with intrigue. The conversation was short, with not much more than one-word answers from Angel in response to whatever Cordelia was saying. The vampire’s body language was closed off, which was true to nature for him, but something about his behaviour was setting off alarm bells in his head. He pushed the thought away when the call was ended and Angel rejoined the group.
“Everything ok?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah, it’s fine.” Angel replied, running a hand through his hair as pulled up a seat at the table.
“Who are you looking for?”
Spike’s brows knit together as he noticed a sudden change in the elder vampire. His shoulders tensed, and his kind of, blinked. He also saw that Giles was watching Angel closely as well. He had obviously detected that something was up as well.
“Looking for?” Angel said.
“The person Cordelia had information about?” Buffy said with a small frown. He was acting kind of funny. “Angel is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine.” He said. “It was about a client for a case I was working on before I left town. Nothing that can’t wait”
Spike didn’t buy it, and by the looks of it neither did Giles. But Buffy just nodded before turning her attention to Giles. “Shall we get started?”
“Yes. Right.” Giles turned his attention to his notebook. “As you are all aware, we have reason to believe that the group of vampires behind the attack on Buffy are connected to the Order of Aurelius.”
Xander looked to Spike and Angel accusingly. “Nice family you have there.”
“Xander!” Buffy chastised.
Spike shrugged his shoulders. “He’s not wrong.”
All eyes turned to Spike. Everyone except Angel was surprised. “The Order of Aurelius are a bunch of right pricks and if they’re behind this then expect a full scale attack.”
He kept his worries about Drusilla being in the mix to himself for now. If she was somehow behind all of this, then she would have to be dealt with, and he was the person who would do it.
“With Xander’s interrogation of Willy, and Willow’s spell we’re almost certain that the group has taken up residence beneath the ruins of the High School.” Giles continued.
“Not anymore.” Angel announced.
Once again everyone looked curiously at Angel. “An old informant gave me some info, I checked it out last night. There’s definitely been activity down there, but they’ve moved out already.”
“And you were going to tell us this when?” Giles said a little put out.
“I’m telling you now.”
Watcher and Vampire stared at each other for a long moment before Willow piped up, breaking the heavy silence that had fallen in the room.
“Maybe I could try that locator spell again? I’ve still got the supplies, and some of Spike’s blood.”
“Spike’s blood?” Buffy repeated with a frown. ”Why would you have Spike’s blood?”
“It was a requirement of the spell. Blood from the line that the spell was trying to locate.” Giles informed.
“He volunteered.” Willow added.
Buffy blinked in surprise.
“Why so shocked pet? Thought it was common knowledge that I’m no fan of the relo’s.” Spike said with a pointed look in Angel’s direction.
A grin spread across Xander’s face at Angel’s scowl in response to Spike’s dig. Willow nudged him in the ribs when she saw the wheels in his head ticking over. The last thing they needed right now was an argument.
A brick flew through the window, landing in the middle of the floor with what looked like paper tied around it.
Willow being the closest, reached for it and unraveled the paper. Her face went ghostly white when she opened it up and read it to herself. Buffy’s heartbeat increased at the dread she saw in her friend’s eyes, reaching her hand out for the paper.
Spike took it from Willow and handed it to Buffy. Her eyes moved across the note before she stood suddenly, throwing her chair back behind her in the process of standing.
Midnight, Weatherly Park. Come alone or your sister’s dead.
“Buffy!” Xander cried as she took two steps in the direction of the door before her knees began to give way.
Both Spike and Angel moved to catch her from different sides of the table, but it was Spike who got their first. She collapsed against his chest, the crumpled note falling to the floor.
“Dawn… I have to get to her before...” she mumbled as she started to lose consciousness.
“BUFFY!” Giles shouted as he rushed to her side, taking her from Spike’s arms and gently laying her on the floor.
The metallic tang of blood filled the air, both vampires realizing what had happened. The sudden movement had ripped open her stitches, the blood slowly soaking into her shirt.
“We need to get her to a doctor.” Giles said, his concern palpable.
“I’ll bring my car around front.” Angel announced as he swiftly left the shop.
“Dawn…” Willow alerted. “They’re going to hurt Dawn.”
“No they bloody will not.” Spike growled out, dragging his duster off from the glass counter top near the register, slipping it over his shoulders.
“She’s at the next-door neighbours house.” Giles informed, realizing what it was that Spike was going to do.
Spike didn’t respond as he stormed towards the front door.
“Take her home if you get there in time.” Giles said.
“When I get there.” Spike corrected as the door slammed open and he stepped out into the night.
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