"It started with a girl..."
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Wed Jul 07, 2004 5:44 pm Post subject: Fata Viam Invenient ch 5 Connor/Gwen NC-17 8/19
|FATA VIAM INVENIENT
Fate will Find a Way - Virgil - The Aeneid
By D.M. Evans
Author’s Note - Written for Crazygirl Mary for the Connor Het ficathon, http://www.livejournal.com/users/cornerofmadness/22553.html
Disclaimer - I don’t own any of the characters (except for Kippendragr). Joss owns all. I’m just playing with the for a little while. I don’t own any of the song lyrics within. They belong to whomever they’re attributed to.
Summary - When Wolfram and Hart gets possession of a powerful magical item, it becomes a race to see who ends up with it: the law firm, the thieves, the demons or the Watchers Council.
Rating - NC-17 for sexual situations, violence and character death
Spoilers - Set a few years after S5 of Angel. It goes AR in the middle of Origins. The season finale never happened and various characters are alive and/or dead as a result of it being AR. (You’ll see)
Feedback - Feed me Seymour, email@example.com
Gwen tipped the bottle of Grand Marnier over the valley of her breasts. The liquor splashed over her twin mounds of flesh and trickled down to the hollow of her belly. It pooled with the warm chocolate lake there. Her lover’s tongue lathed her tight abdomen, lapping up the treat before dipping down to tease her clit. He shifted slightly so his nose could play with her erect little nub as his tongue plunged into her, drawing out the strawberries she had planted inside. Slowly his mouth moved back to her belly, drinking up more of the liquored chocolate.
She grabbed his soft hair, gently hauling him up, kissing him, tasting chocolate, oranges, strawberries and herself. As he pushed into her, his belly skating over her sticky stomach, Gwen’s fingers played over the knobs of his spine. “Harder,” she whispered, knowing a gentle urging was all he needed. Her gift, if it could be called that, was electricity. His was his strength. He could pound her in two if he wanted to. She knew he wasn’t showing her his full power, not anywhere close, but he felt like a jackhammer none the less. It was what she loved about him; strength, eagerness to please, brains enough to be good at his job and experimental enough to try whatever she suggested, whether it was Taoist sex or extended orgasms for her. He liked making her happy.
“Give it to me,” he begged, lifting off her as she clamped his waist between her knees. He grabbed the head board which creaked ominously under his strong grip.
“Okay, baby.” Gwen remembered buying him the Kamasutra early on in their relationship and was glad of it. The tenth posture of the perfumed garden that she now found herself in was just one of the benefits.
As his rhythm picked up pace, Gwen trailed her fingers through his brown hair. It stood on end as her power trickled through her fingers. Thanks to the L.I.S.A. device she and Gunn had purloined, she had gained great control over her powers. She rolled her lover’s nipples between her fingers, little blue sparks arcing between her thumbs and into the hardened pink pearls of flesh. His neck arched back as he groaned. She sucked on his Adam’s apple as she ran her hands down his spine, letting light touches of electricity lick his skin. She cupped his buttocks as he came with a shuddering moan.
He rolled on his side, still inside her, pulsing his finger over her clitoris as she ground hard against him. Gwen took her hands off him as her back bowed, waves washing through her. She always feared electrocuting him if she lost control in the middle of an orgasm. Her knees squeezed tight against his lean body as he took her through wave after orgasmic wave. Finally they dropped back on the bed, spent, both of their bellies smeared with chocolate, liquor and sweat.
“That was...,” she panted.
“That’s a word for it.” She ran a hand through his damp hair. “Have I told you lately how lucky I was to find you, Connor?”
He grinned. “Yes, but I like hearing it.”
Gwen had first seen him in a night club helping a girl who was being dragged out of the bar by her abusive boyfriend and his brother. The speed with which he moved, his agility, his strength had captured her imagination, seeing in him the potential to be her partner in crime. She hadn’t ever really thought about having a partner until that night. At the time he had been going to college, competing in gymnastics, an Olympic hopeful then his whole family died when a drunk crossed the double yellow line and hit them head on with his Hummer. Maybe she should feel guilty about picking up the shattered young man and turning him onto a life of crime but she didn’t. And she doubted he had any regrets.
“And you like hearing the words twelve millions dollars.” Gwen’s hand swept out to the painted panel hung on their bedroom wall, opposite where the wall safe hid behind their Magritte painting.
Connor’s blue eyes shifted to the oil painting and its demonic imagery. “Hieronymus Bosch’s Death of a reprobate, wonder if Ms Nash gets the humor of having us steal that.”
Gwen smiled. “Don’t care, Connor, so long as she pays.” They had boosted it from the private collection it was held in across the country in New York. It was an easy job, not much needed on their part. It was good to mix up high tech and magical thefts with something as mundane as pilfering priceless works of art. “I’m not sure why anyone wants art they can’t show off, but none of my business, I guess.”
“I like it.” He propped himself up on one elbow, letting a finger trail along her side. “It reminds me of my dreams.”
“Because you’re weird.” Gwen scooted away from him, getting out of bed. It had become ritual after a successful job, to find a new sexual game to play. They’d be running out of things to try if they kept as busy as they had been. “It’s what I love about you.”
Connor got up and stripped off the plastic wrap that had been protecting the sheets that would have costed over a grand had she not stolen them from Neiman Marcus. As he dumped the plastic and his condom into the trash, Gwen eyed her wedding band that rested careless on the night stand. She hadn’t had it on since they had been out on a job. Diamonds and platinum wrought to looking like a garland of ivy was too distinctive. She couldn’t risk it being seen and remembered but she slipped it on before heading to the shower. She treasured it. Connor had insisted on actually buying the ring from Cartier. He wasn’t about to have a symbol of his love be stolen. She had been the one to suggest marriage. A husband couldn’t flip on her in the unlikely event they should be jailed. The fact she actually loved him came as a shock as had when he first said no, realizing her intent and refused to sully something that had surprising meaning to him.
He joined her in the shower, the water running brownish with wasted chocolate. This was one of the few places she insisted was off limits to any sex play, too afraid of what would happen if she lost control and overloaded L.I.S.A. Connor respected that but still liked to at least share the space with her.
Wrapping a fluffy robe around her happily sated body, Gwen padded to the computer to check on what jobs had come in while they were in New York. It was risky being contacted this way but she had the best scrubber programs on the computer and ran them daily. Their four Irish Wolfhounds ambled over to see what their masters were doing. Connor loved the enormous beasts. They looked vicious without actually being it. They were impressive and did a decent job of backing up their various alarms and security systems. He had named them after characters in one of his favorite comic books, the girls Rogue, Storm and Jubilee and the male, Gambit.
Connor leaned over Gwen’s shoulder as she scanned the email. “Boring... boring...we’re not assassins, dimwit...boring.”
“Wait,” Connor ordered, patting Rogue’s head as she shoved it under his hand.. “Go back one.”
“What? The one about stealing a stone?” Gwen wrinkled her nose at him.
“I know the name, Wolfram and Hart.” Connor tapped the screen. “These guys were the ones my parents took me to when they realized I was different. The head guy was a real jerk, refused to help out. I wouldn’t mind putting the screws to him.”
“The buyer wants us to steal something called the Alatyr from them...says it’s a magical stone.” Gwen looked up at him. “You sure you want to do this.”
“Gwen, they’re offering fifty million dollars for this.” He dropped a kiss on her walnut curls.
Looking at him, she understood the meaning of ‘when Irish Eyes are Smiling.’ She sat back in the chair. “Magic stuff is always risky.”
“I know. I don’t like magic.” Connor made a face. He didn’t like it but he used magic in his home and work as needed. “but for that price, I think we can at least investigate Wolfram and Hart and find out more about what an Alatyr even is then make a choice. We have a little time to play with here.”
Gwen nodded. They didn’t need the work. They had enough money that their great grandkids wouldn’t need to work. It was the thrill they were after. “I’ve had dealings with Wolfram and Hart,” she replied, thinking of the things she had stolen for Lilah Morgan and Lindsey McDonald in the past. “They’re as evil as they come.”
“Really?” He grimaced. “Wonder why my parents took me there then? Well, that’s all the more reason to do it.”
Gwen leaned back, turning her face up. He bent down and kissed her. “You research the stone, I’ll get the specs on Wolfram and Hart.”
Last edited by D.M. on Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:58 am; edited 3 times in total
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 3:33 am Post subject:
“What did you find out?” Gwen stretched out on the couch and kicked up her feet in her husband’s lap.
Connor looked away from the plasma tv where he’d been watching The Simpsons reruns. “I’m liking this less,” he admitted as he started to massage her feet. “The Alatyr stone is Russian in origin. It’s an omphalos, a healing stone. It was protected on Booyan Island. The rivers that flowed over it were blessed and just mentioning the stone in spells drew on its power. The World Tree grew from it. How anyone got it from its guardians, Gagana, a bird creature and Garafena, a snake, I have no idea.”
“You’re afraid of what?” Gwen arched her back as he hit a particularly good spot in the center of her feet.
“That moral streak of mine, the one you’re always worry about...”
“It’s not making a come back, is it?” Gwen shot him a warning look.
He looked back at the TV, unable to meet her color-change eyes. Their grey was darkening to her angry near brown. “A little. This is something very powerful, Gwen. What if the World Tree dies without it, which I’m not sure I believe in, but what if? I’m not sure I like just giving something this powerful to an anonymous buyer.”
“You get like this every time we deal with something magically,” she chided.
He kissed the top of her foot. “I can’t help it, Gwen. I think about the really horrible things that could be done with the stone and I’m not sure I want to be responsible for a giant evil.”
“You’re the one who picked this assignment,” she reminded him. “We can forget it and move on.”
“Thought about it. I think we should do it. I mean, it’s a healing stone. I don’t see how it could be used wrongly, which I know I just said I could but really, I’m not sure it’s possible. Still, I have this weird feeling.” He shrugged, squirming on the butter soft Corinthian leather. “Maybe the buyer wants to return it to Booyan Island.”
“Well, let’s see what happens. You might want to change your mind after you see what Wolfram and Hart has for security.” Gwen sat up, shifting so she was leaning against him.
“That bad?” He raised an eyebrow as Gambit shoved his face between him like the jealous child he was. Connor tapped the beast’s nose, pushing him back from the couch.
“Not for us?” She pulled open his shirt, kissing the glyph he had tattooed onto him. Her tongue lathed the path of light brown hair that bisected his belly. She sat back, business like again. “The tatts will get us past the security systems but there are magical sensors it might not get us passed. I need to do more research to make sure we have all our bases covered. I’ve worked for them before Angel took over, back in the old building. He has a lot of demons working for him.”
“Demons.” Connor’s brow furrowed. “Are you sure? I wonder if my parents had a clue.”
“I doubt non-clients would know.” Gwen patted his knee, shoving Gambit back again. The dogs weren’t allowed on the Italian leather.
“Like I said, the Alatyr is an omphalos, looks like a river rock like the things in the bad Indiana Jones movie, the second one. It should be easy enough to smuggle it out of there,” Connor said.
“Trust you to find a geek reference for it.” A smile touched her generous lips. “I’ll do more recon on the building if you’re sure you want to do this.”
He nodded. “Moral crisis averted.”
* * *
“I can do this,” Andrew told Xander as he looked at Giles’ email from an operative that he had openly surreptitiously having gotten the elder Watcher’s password.
“I still think you should talk to Giles,” Xander said, looking over Andrew’s shoulder. “He doesn’t like us to act on our own.”
“That was before. We’ve got years of experience now,” Andrew said. “Besides, Giles wouldn’t approve pf this powerful stone being in the hands of vampires.”
“It’s Angel, Andrew. All we need to do is ask for it. Angel would do anything for Buffy,” Xander argued, looking a little well used to it, if unhappy about that truth.
Andrew gave him a pitying look. “No one trusts a vampire, least of all Buffy. And Giles, Willow and Buffy are all in Palatka, Florida, looking to see if it is true that a hellmouth is opening there. Ar you coming to L.A. with me?”
Xander took another gander at the computer screen. “No, I think it’s a bad idea. We should just contact them first.”
Andrew shook his head. “You need to learn to take risks, Xander.”
Xander suppressed the urge to slap the monster he had helped create. “Do what you think you have to.”
“Don’t you worry.” Andrew’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “This is a perfect assignment for me.”
* * *
“What are you going to do with this?” Wes turned the cool, smooth ‘river’ stone over in his hands.
“Be grateful that we discovered it in our client’s estate before the state seized everything.” Gunn shook his head. “When will people get over their fear of making a will? Do they really want the government to get it all?”
“Wes, email Giles. I think the Watchers would be a better repository for something like this,” Angel said, taking the stone from Wes. It flared brightly, touching him with warmth. He set it aside. “It tried to heal me.”
Wes scooped the stone back up. “I wonder if it would destroy the stone if you continued to hold it. I can’t imagine it could drive out the demon and restore you to life.”
“Let’s not find out,” Gunn said. “No offense, but wasting this power to save a vampire, even you....”
“I know what you’re saying, Gunn. I can’t deplete something that could save thousands on the off chance it might make me live.” Angel knew they’d be able to hear the regret in his voice. There would be so much he could do if he were alive, a lot of wrongs he could make right. “The Watchers will know what to do with this.”
“I ain’t ready to make that bet.” Gunn shot Wes a hostile glance. Angel sighed, knowing the thing between them and Fred still was unresolved even though Fred, or the demoness Illyria, had been dead for three years. “This thing is the property of Wolfram and Hart. We could do something with it. We’re supposed to be a force for good, remember? Why give something like this away?”
“What do you think we could do with it?” Wes arched an eyebrow. “I’m willing to listen to your ideas, Gunn. With Giles in charge of the Watchers, we know they’ll be more than willing to work with us, that spot of trouble with Dana aside. We’ve patched things up in the years since that event. It’s different now than it was under Travers, when they were just as likely to bully their way into ownership or outright steal it.”
“I get that. All I’m saying is maybe hold off a day or two to think about our options,” Gunn said.
“All right, we all can work out a plan for the proper use to this thing but keep in mind, Gunn, with Eve dead and no obvious replacement for her doesn’t mean the Senior Partners aren’t still trying to use this branch to their own ends. Eve tried to betray us and she died. Knox betrayed us and he and Fred died. I’m not willing to bet they were the only traitors. If we can’t find a good use for the Alatyr, I’d be happier with Giles in control of it,” Angel said.
“Fair enough. In the mean time, we’ll keep it here in your safe,” Gunn said and Wes obliged by putting it away in Angel’s wall safe.
“Did we miss something?” Spike sauntered in without knocking. Kate was behind him, looking irritated at his rudeness. Angel had been shocked last year when Kate returned and hired on to head the investigations department. He hadn’t wanted to hire her at first, still unsure if they were making any headway in the whole “using Wolfram and Hart for good” arena but he saw something fragile and needy in her eyes. She needed to be back in this world as much as he wanted to keep her out of it. She was even willing to work with a one-time adversary, more the firm than him, in order to do it.
“Just boring business,” Angel said with a cautionary look at Gunn and Wes. Spike was a complication no one needed. Kate already knew about the Alatyr. Spike’s eyes narrowed and Angel should have known he couldn’t easily deceive the other vampire.
“We’re going to the Whiskey Lullaby. You guys want to come with?” Kate asked.
“Not going to Lorne’s new place?” Gunn asked.
“Too touristy,” Spike replied.
“And there’s only so many fru-fru drinks a girl can handle.” Kate flipped a lock of blonde hair out of her eyes.
“Why not?” Angel had made a resolution to try to take his friends up on invites more often, more of a reaction to Harmony’s attempt to get him involved in their lives. It had ended badly. Still, he couldn’t help thinking it was a mistake not to email Giles about the Alatyr. A little voice told him this mystical object needed to go home and not languish either in the vaults of Wolfram and Hart or the Watchers’ complex. Even as they collected Harmony and headed for the bar, he couldn’t get that out of his mind.
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 3:11 pm Post subject:
Connor watched for Gwen’s signal, a simple hand gesture through the doorway should she need his assistance inside. They had waited for after hours to invade the inner sanctum of Wolfram and Hart. They had debated it for a day, trying to devise the easiest plan. They would be less conspicuous in the bustle of every day business but a daytime reconn of the place revealed they needed to go several floors up and past a secretary among other obstacles to get to the wall safe in Angel’s office, which was where Gwen’s sources indicated the Alatyr was.
They ran a risk of someone actually spotting them, not to mention having to get past the offices’ occupants. He and Gwen were invisible to the cameras and other alarms and sensors but not to the human eye. It wasn’t impossible they might run into a magical sensor their tattoos wouldn’t protect them against but that was a risk they were willing to take.
They were dressed in custodial uniforms. He even had a cleaning cart, keeping look out in the corridor. Two curious-looking men passed him. Connor couldn’t help but spare them a long glance. They weren’t in guards’ uniforms nor business suits. They didn’t fit in. The one man was tall, lanky, maybe in his late forties, early fifties, dark hair, arrogant eyes. He was trouble. Connor didn’t doubt it. The other was short, stocky and wore a cowboy hat with a wide brim that obscured his face from view. They had no business he could think of in this corridor.
“Do you have to do this now?” The tall man gestured at the cleaning cart. His British accent only added to his cocksure demeanor. He obviously wanted Connor out of the hallway.
Connor mumbled at him in Russian. He had learned the language in high school and had an affection for it. The arrogant scowled impatiently at him. “Have orders.” Connor shrugged, hoping his “immigrant-barely spoke English” act would convince them he was on the job. He got out a different broom from his cart.
“Can’t you do another floor?”
“Got orders.” Connor swept in front of the office, putting himself between these men and Gwen. They looked at him for a few moments and, realizing he was going to keep cleaning, slowly pushed off. He watched until they rounded the corner then went into the office.
Gwen looked at him, eyes wide. “Company?”
“Could be. They look wrong but they turned around,” Connor said. “Safe still not open?”
“I was just about to come get you. The electronic locks are toast but I think it must have a magical lock I can’t open.”
Connor pursed his lips. “This is going to be noisy and might just set off that magical alarm.” He slammed a fist through the wall, gritting his teeth against the pain as he pierced plaster, wood and metal. The safe breached under the force of his hand. He pulled his bloody appendage back out then used the hole as a starting point to peel it all the way open. “Man, look at this stuff.” Connor eyed a jeweled dagger in the safe.
“Try not to get too excited.” Gwen grinned, patting his crotch.
He scowled at her and pulled out the stone. “ I can dream a little.”
“In this place, that dagger is just as likely to bite off your hand as anything else.” She plucked the stone out of his hands. “Not very impressive is it?”
“Feels tingly,” Connor replied.
“Really? I don’t feel it.” Gwen froze, her eyes, now a pretty slate grey, widened. They heard voices in the hallway.
“Sorry, boss, how was I to know you wanted that thing in the safe?” a woman asked
“Because I told you about a dozen times,” a man grumbled.
They were inside the office before Connor and Gwen could move. Connor stared at them. The man was tall and broad shouldered with a heavy brow. He smelled slightly of beer and the woman of something sweet and rummy. Connor remembered seeing the man before when his parents brought him to this place. The blonde with him, he thought he might have seen or not. He couldn’t remember clearly. For a moment they all just stood frozen, staring.
“Shit.” Connor tensed. “ I remember you.”
“Angel,” Gwen said and Connor looked at her, wondering why she hadn’t mentioned knowing him. She had said she had worked for Wolfram and Hart before the man had taken over.
Connor didn’t miss that the man barely registered Gwen had spoken to him. Angel’s dark eyes remained fixed on him. Connor leapt on the desk using it as a launch pad to kick the man in the face. He felt guilty, feeling something snapping under his foot. Angel seemed too stunned to defend himself, resulting in him nursing a nose that was gushing blood from the kick.
Gwen lateraled the stone to Connor then zapped the blonde. Her face morphed as she went down, a vampire. If he wasn’t more interested in getting the Alatyr out of the complex, he’d stake her on principle.
He and Gwen pounded up the corridor, right past the two men who had been harassing him earlier. Connor didn’t bother with the elevator. He burst through the fire door into the stair well. he looked over the railing. It was a long drop but it was a straight shot to the ground floor. He hunched down. “Get on, baby.”
Gwen locked her arms and legs over his back. He went over the bannister. Gwen’s limbs tightened as they free fell. Connor’s knees flexed, taking off the pressure of the landing. Still, it felt like his head was going to pop off. He stumbled a bit and Gwen slithered free. They bolted to the outside. Gwen selected the first car with electronic door locks. She touched it with an elbow, fritzing the locks and jumpstarting the car. They both pulled on gloves and blue paper surgical caps. It would minimize any stray hairs being left behind. They put on baseball caps to hide the unusual, eye-catching surgical caps.
Connor pulled out casually. No sense in tearing away and speeding, looking guilty. Just in case they were being followed, he took a long circuitous route before finally going to their escape car. He hadn’t noticed anyone in the rear view. They got into their car, a plain white Civic, something bound not to garner any attention. He had a collection of muscle cars and motorcycles but he’d never take anything flashy on a job, too easily spotted.
It wasn’t until they were heading back to Malibu that they spoke. “That was too damn close,” Gwen said, her voice sounding still flushed with excitement. Her tanned face all but glowed with it.
“We’re going to have to pass the Alatyr off fast and go out of town for a little while.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Gwen replied.
“I didn’t realize that you knew the guy,” Connor said, trying to sound casual. He wasn’t jealous but he was curious, a true failing of his.
“I’ve only worked with him twice...well, once.” Gwen looked a little evasive. “He interrupted a job the first time. The second time we worked together, not much to tell only that he’s a vampire.”
Connor resisted the urge to slam on the brakes. “You didn’t think that was important to tell me?”
“I didn’t think that he’d show up. Besides, I’ve seen you handle vampires like they were nothing. I wasn’t worried.” Gwen pouted at his tone. “Besides, believe it or not, Angel’s one of the good guys, better than us.”
“Don’t believe it,” he replied, feeling oddly comforted by the fact Gwen wasn’t put out about screwing over a good guy because if she had been, he’d have to wonder. To her, it was about the objects they were stealing and not the shade of grey the owner was. They were both of the belief no one possessing the high level items there were after were saints. Learning that Angel was a vampire made him feel a lot better about the assignment. Once Gwen had opened him up to the world of demons, he had only found three that he didn’t want instantly dead. Not a single vampire had made that list. “Still, you should have told me about Angel.”
She patted his thigh. “You’re completely right. It was dumb and dangerous. You were just a little uneasy as it was about this job. We should have let this one slide.”
“Too late for that. Can’t worry about it now. Vampires can’t get in without an invite. I can’t imagine either of us just asking him in for a beer,” he scoffed.
Her lips pulled into a smile. “We’ll be fine.”
Connor nodded but the uneasy feeling wouldn’t go away. He let Gwen stow the item in their bedroom safe but he didn’t do his usual routine of either a night time swim in their bluff side infinity pool nor take the private walk to the beach. He didn’t want to be outside just in case he had somehow missed the vampire following him up the Pacific Coast Highway. Connor knew that kick to the face, even if he broke the creature’s big broad beak of a nose, would hardly faze it. They were lucky to have gotten out of Wolfram and Hart.
Gwen seemed to sense his unease as they tumbled into bed. Their normal celebratory lovemaking could wait until tomorrow. Maybe by then they wouldn’t be jumpy. His wife snuggled into his side and was quickly asleep. Connor, having left the curtains open, stared out the magnificent master bedroom window at the panorama of the ocean below. Even the soft susurrus of the waves couldn’t lull him to sleep.
* * *
“Now what?” Ethan asked his hat-wearing companion as they tried to nonchalantly meander out of the building. Ethan’s heart still thudded. He could have sworn the bloodied-nosed vampire had seen him. That would end the game real quick. Angel was no more likely to have forgotten him than he had the vampire.
“You got that tracking spell on them?” Kippendragr rumbled in his Barry White bass timbre.
“On the girl...I think.” Ethan’s lips twisted into a scowl. “They were moving pretty fast.”
“You’d be moving fast, too, if you’d just pissed of a pair of vampires,” Kippendragr rumbled with something that might have been a laugh.
“Yeah, well, if Angel saw me we ought to hurry, too.” Ethan cast a glance over his shoulder just in case as he got into their car.
“You should hurry. Vampires don’t like how my kind taste.” Kippendragr shrugged.
Ethan looked at the demon sourly, figuring that was true. It was a long confusing drive but eventually Ethan tracked the pair to Malibu. He grinned. “I could get used to living like this. Think I’ve got a shot with her?” He leered.
“Not a prayer.” Kippendragr took off his hat, revealing ridges of blue horn. He pulled on one of them out of nervous habit.
“We can’t just wander in there without a plan,” Ethan said. “This whole area screams security and that pair would have to be even better guarded than most.”
“Agreed. Tomorrow then.”
Ethan wheeled their car away before some nosy security guard drove up on them. This wasn’t going to be easy, which bothered him. He liked easy, but he knew when he was hired to steal the Alatyr this would be a difficult task. He just wished he had known there would be other foxes in the hen house.
* * *
“Are you sure it was Gwen?” Gunn stalked around Angel’s office, unhappy with that idea.
“My hair’s still standing on end,” Harmony moaned.
“She did this?” Kate jerked a thumb at the hole in the wall.
“I’m not sure,” Angel said, unable to sound convincing. He knew exactly who had done it. He wasn’t ready to admit to himself that his son was a thief.
“I’m betting it was her partner,” Harmony said. “Look what he did to Angel’s face.”
“And here I was thinking Harm had gotten a little too rough.” Spike snorted, lighting up.
“Eww, I’d never, not with Angel,” Harmony squealed then off Angel’s slightly hurt look added, “He’s the boss.”
“I knew we should have just turned over the Alatyr immediately,” Wes said. “If the Watchers had it....”
“So it’s our fault it’s stolen?” Gunn snapped.
“Not saying that,” Wes scratched at his stubbly beard. “At least we’re well suited to finding it.”
Gunn shook his head with a soft laugh. “That damn Gwen. She’s something else. Wish I had been here. Maybe I could have talked her out of it.”
“So what did she take that’s got everyone’s knickers in a twist?” Spike asked.
“A healing omphalos,” Wes said and Spike just raised an eyebrow.
“A magic rock,” Angel clarified.
“What’s it with you and rocks?” Spike took a drag. “Last time you cracked one open, Acathla popped out.”
“This is nothing like that,” Angel said, annoyed that Spike would bring that up.
“Thanks for stating the bloody obvious. I didn’t think you had Acathla shoved in a wall safe.”
“Spike, you’re not involved in this so why don’t you push off,” Angel grumbled. “We’re not going to find the Alatyr just sitting here.”
“You have a suggestion?” Kate asked.
“Let me see if I can follow their scent.” Angel got up. “Kate, get me all the security tapes. I need to see if I’m crazy.”
“Waste of time,” Spike said. “We know you are.”
Angel ignored him. Seeing his son working with Gwen wasn’t the only shock he had received tonight. “I thought I saw Ethan Rayne in the hallway but I can’t remember his scent clearly enough to be sure.”
Spike’s eyebrows cocked up. “Rupert’s mate? The one that turned him into a Fryal demon?”
“He did?” Angel added that to the stunned column. “Sounds like something he’d do. I need to know if he really was here, Kate, because that would be place to start looking for the Alatyr.” Angel wasn’t really sure about that. Gwen and Connor had run right past the man he thought might be Ethan. It could be Ethan had hired them or else it was a massive and unsettling coincidence. News they had the Alatyr might be drawing thieves from all over.
“I’ll get the tapes. If you’re going out to sniff around, Angel, you might want to do it before the city makes enough stink to cover up your leads,” Kate said.
“Good point. Look for a tall scrawny guy with a short guy in a cowboy hat on those tapes.”
“Lindsey?” Gunn asked.
Angel shook his head. “I know his scent well, not him. This guy wasn’t human, didn’t smell right.”
“Am I the only one who’s creeped out about the whole smell thing?” Gunn made a face.
“I try not to think hard on it,” Wes replied. “But it doesn’t help when Angel asks about my dates when he has no reason to know I even had a date.”
“Sorry, I forget,” Angel muttered, heading out the door. He honestly did forget sometimes and he was trying hard to be more social. Spike was just better at it than he was.
Gunn followed him. “Wes can help Kate.”
“Need another nose on the case?” Spike leaned out the door. “I got a whiff of them from the safe. She smells tasty.”
“Why not?” Angel said as Gunn grimaced at the comment. Angel would rather have Spike where he could see him. He didn’t want Spike after the Alatyr on his own or following Connor. Not that Spike would have the first clue as to the young man’s true importance.
Angel couldn’t remember being as disappointed as he was trying to follow his son’s trail. The path kept doubling back on itself, obviously designed to confuse anyone trying to track him. The scent was eventually swallowed by the overwhelming scents of L.A., choked with exhaust and human effluvia. He had only seen his son once since the night the spell had been wrought. It was part of the agreement and the one time Connor’s ersatz parents brought him to Wolfram and Hart Angel had sent them away. It had been too painful.
It had been killing him for years, the not knowing Connor’s fate, hoping for the best. He almost felt like the parent of a kidnaped child all over again, or maybe, more appropriately, one who had given his child up for adoption and now, later in life, wanted a reconnection. He would never have dreamed Connor had somehow hooked up with Gwen, that he had been dragged back into the world of demons. Angel knew Gwen dealt with demons and worse. Even if she didn’t, they were obviously thieves. That wasn’t the life he wanted for his son.
Spike broke Angel out of his reverie when he dialed up Kate. “Yeah, we crapped out...yeah, I’ll tell him, hang on.” Spike looked at Angel. “Kate suggests going to Lorne’s and seeing if he can pick something out of the ether for you. She got your two guys on the tapes but not the kid who used your face for a kick ball or his partner. The tapes are blank, even in places that we know they were.”
“Tell her and Wes to meet us there,” Angel said, unsure of himself. What if Lorne saw something about Connor and told them all? Still, if he didn’t extend the offer they would think it odd. It was something they had been working on, team work versus acting as an individual. He wanted to talk to Kate as soon as he could. How could his son not be on the tapes? He had been counting on that, if for no other reason than to keep them for himself, playing the snippets again and again in the privacy of his suites.
“I want to know how they knew we had the Alatyr,” Gunn said as he drove for Lorne’s club. “We only got it five days ago.”
“That’s something to look into,” Angel said. “Either someone was watching the estate and knew Mr. Leib had it or we have a leak.”
“Who knew about the bloody stone at work? You didn’t even tell me,” Spike said, miffed.
“There was no reason to. You’re not exactly into estate law,” Angel said and Spike gave him a ‘that’s hardly the point’ look. Angel let the matter drop. He wished that he had a better feeling about this.
Wes and Kate were already waiting for them at a table. As per usual, the bar was chocked with people. Angel hated it. Could he get Wes or Gunn to sing? They had a tie to the Alatyr, too. His tie was stronger and he knew it. He needed to sing and hang the embarrassment.
“Don’t let me sing too long,” he whispered to Lorne as he headed for the stage. He had given a lot of thought to what he was going to sing. He had mangled enough of Barry’s songs for one life time and while a song from his homeland was knocking around in his head there was no accompaniment for “Who Put the Blood.” His singing was bad enough. He didn’t need to be singing a song meant for a mother unaccompanied. He settled on Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle.” He felt it had a very good tie-in to him and Connor. Lorne didn’t stop him, letting him sing to the bitter, off-key, getting pitying looks from the audience end.
“And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you coming home son, I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad
We're gonna have a good time then.”
Angel dragged back to his table. He could tell from the look on Lorne’s face the demon had gotten a good reading. “Well?”
“That was an interesting choice of songs, Angel- Cakes,” Lorne said, a curious look in his odd colored eyes.
“Yeah and it’s amazing how tone deaf you are,” Spike rubbed an ear. “People were fleeing in terror.”
Angel gave him the hairy eye but said nothing. “Lorne, got a place I can start looking?”
“Yes, and I wish I were going with you. Why don’t I ever get this kind of assignment?” Lorne’s eyes bore into Angel. “But there’s something else, a big shadow over you, so big its spilling all over the rest of us.”
“That’s his singing,” Spike said, smirking
Lorne shook his head. “I wish it were. No, there is something ugly bubbling here just under the surface, a secret.”
“Don’t know what you mean,” Angel cut him off quickly, schooling the panic out of his voice. “And you haven’t told me where I’m supposed to be looking.”
“Malibu,” Lorne said. “Maybe you need to sing a little more, as loathe as I am to suggest that, let me see if I can get a handle on this personal darkness.”
Angel shook his head. “No time to worry about my dark shadows. We need to get that stone back. Guess we’ll have to work out a plan, see if we can sniff them out in Malibu.”
“I’m on this team,” Gunn said, hurriedly. “Always wanted to hang out there.”
“Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait,” Wes said. “It’s nearly dawn. That takes Angel and Spike out of the picture.”
“We all need some rest,” Kate said. “Angel, I’ll set you up with the tapes and Wes and I can do some research on Gwen and her partner.”
“I can help. I’ve worked with Gwen,” Gunn said.
“Fine. Did you get a name for Gwen’s partner?” Kate asked.
“No,” Angel lied. He hurried them out of Lorne’s club before the demon could get back to worrying about that shadow. Angel knew in his heart Lorne was seeing Connor. He should never have picked a song that would deepen his feeling about his son but he thought it was necessary if Lorne was to have a prayer of homing in on the duo. He answered a few more of Kate’s questions on the way but all he was thinking about was, what was his son doing in Malibu?
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 9:12 pm Post subject:
His body slicked with sweat, Connor cut through a wave. He usually ran in the pre-dawn hours but last night had unsettled him. Sleep had been hard to find and he had finally dropped off near his usual running time. Later in the day, Gwen had talked him into a little R&R on the beach. Their buyer wouldn’t talk to them about transferring the Alatyr until the evening hours for security reasons on her end.
Connor and Gwen’s ideas of R&R didn’t always jive. She stretched out on the sand with the latest Denise Hamilton book while he pounded up the beach. He ran for miles out and back. Sweat poured from his body. He had powered through his sports drink, tossing the bottle in a recycling bin and kept running, trying to burn out his unease. He ended the run with a dunking in the ocean, after leaving his shoes and iPod with Gwen. He should have brought a body board, leaving it with her while he ran. His mind was obviously not in the game. He body surfed a little, his brain still mulling their near capture. Afterwards, he slogged up to where Gwen was reading, sand sticking to his feet. He flopped down onto his towel, face down.
She ran a finger along his wet spine. “No guppies this time?”
He eyed her sourly. “You promised never to bring that up.”
Grinning, Gwen shove a long strand of her hair back. “Sorry, love. It was just too funny. I thought a shark had you the way you were dancing around.”
“Let’s see how brave you are when a fish swims up your suit,” he grumbled.
“It was guppy no bigger than my pinkie.” She wiggled the digit for emphasis.
He pouted, thinking she looked utterly delicious in her electric blue bikini. “Why are you picking on me?”
“You get so cute when you’re all hurt and pouty.” She flicked his bottom lip.
He reached over, pulling her to him. He kissed her. “My wife is evil.”
“Don’t ever forget that.” She smiled but then it faded. “You look so unhappy. What’s wrong?”
Connor hiked up on one arm. “This isn’t the place to talk about it.”
Gwen canted her head back, her gaze going to the top of the bluffs where their house reigned like the castles of old. “I think I’ve done enough damage to my skin for one day.”
Connor nodded and helped her pack everything up their private walkway to the house. They both showered off in the pool house so sand and ocean water wouldn’t touch the teak floors of the mansion.
“This is about last night,” Gwen said, sitting on the leather couch with him. Their Irish Wolfhounds came over and collapsed at their feet.
“We almost got caught.”
“You’re being over-dramatic. We weren’t in any trouble.” Gwen stroked hair out of his eyes.
He caught her hands. “Two people just saw us in the middle of a robbery.”
She pulled free. “Two vampires, they can’t exactly go to the authorities.”
“The vampire runs a huge law firm. I wouldn’t be so sure.” Connor said, sternly. “Not to mention those two men in the hallway. I’m not sure one was even human. Tell me that was normal.”
“What am I hearing here?” Gwen got up, nearly tripping over the dogs.
“Maybe we should take some time off. We don’t need any more money. We could take the dogs and travel,” Connor suggested.
“What?” Her lips thinned. “You want to act like we’re a couple of snow birds?”
Connor’s eyes narrowed, his body stiffening. Gwen was taking it worse than he had imagined. “No, just that we’re taking a lot of risks we don’t need to. I know this is my fault. I chose the assignment. There is no need for us to be doing something this high risk. We could stick to art and other stuff, lower risk, almost as profitable. We can afford to take some time off, pursue other interests.”
“Do you even have other interests?” Her words knifed into him. “Where is this coming from? I’ve never seen you this...well, you’re acting like an old woman.”
Connor got up and took her hands. “Have you ever gotten the feeling like you can see doom staring you in the face? That old cliche about someone walking over your grave. I’m feeling it.”
Gwen felt his hands shaking. Her face softened. “Baby, oh, baby, you’re rattled. I didn’t realize...you’re serious about this. Okay, we can take a break, go anywhere you want. Diane will take the dogs if we want to go out of the county. We can go on that camping trip in Sweden, stay in that ice hotel like you wanted.”
“You never want to do that,” he said, suspiciously.
Gwen wrapped her arms around him. “That’s because the hotel is made of ice and you have to sleep under reindeer skins or some such nonsense. You have to be a little crazy to want to stay there.” She kissed his cheek. “But since you are a little crazy, I guess that fits.”
“Thanks, I think.” He embraced her tight. “Are you serious about the ice hotel?”
She buried her face against his shoulder. “Oh no, I got the wheels turning. I’m going to be up to my ass in snow.”
“Well, not until next winter at any rate.” He grinned. “I’ll be just as happy to dump the Alatyr off, give Di the dogs and you and I can take a week in Hawaii or anywhere you want to go.
“So long as I agree to the ice hotel this winter.” She reached down, squeezing his butt.
“We can even start in Norway and dog sled to the ice hotel. It takes eight days.” His blue eyes lit up.
Her fingers brushed over his head. “I could have sworn you kicked Angel in the head, not the other way around. Did you hit it on the way over the stairwell?”
His eyes slotted as he kissed her forehead. “I did not hit my head.”
“You must have if you think I’m dog sledding across two frigid countries.” She kissed him more deeply.
“Give it a change.” He sucked at her tongue. “The hotel has a spa and bar.”
“You have your little heart set on this.” Gwen brushed her lips against his prominent adam’s apple then nibbled his ear lobe. “How about this for tonight’s game after we get ready to make the delivery.” She whispered her idea for their new sexual game into his ear.
He cocked his head, staring into her kaleidoscope eyes. “That’s a little bizarre but okay.”
She tapped his nose. “No more bizarre than your ice hotel. I can only imagine what you’ll want to do in the ice.”
“You’ll enjoy it,” he promised.
She slapped his backside. “Uh-huh. I’ll get ready for tonight.”
“Do that. I’m going to do more checking on Angel.”
“You’re not going to just let it drop.” She sighed.
“I’m fairly sure that Angel’s not going to let this go.”
Gwen’s lips pursed. “You could be right.”
Connor researched various references, starting with Wolfram and Hart’s corporate site then branching into news clips and tv spots. There was something familiar about the vampire’s heavy brow and intense eyes. Connor had no idea why. He had only met the man once previously and he couldn’t imagine that single negative experience would have imprinted on him so deeply. Despite all his notes and contemplation, he was no closer to understanding the man or why he felt so terribly familiar. Finally Gwen dragged him away from the computer so she could make delivery arrangements with their employer.
They headed to the Paradise Cove, famous from being the bar in The Rockford Files, and had some Bloody Mary’s on the beach before the celebratory games began. Connor took a long swallow of his cocktail with extra tabasco. “Las Vegas.”
“I’m not thrilled to be driving with that thing though the desert for nearly five hours,” Gwen said.
“I’d drive to Kansas to drop that damn thing off,” Connor replied, the vodka and acid of the drink burning through his system.
Gwen trailed her fingers up the inside of his thigh. “I know. Are you ready to head back?”
“Yeah, before I can’t walk which is likely if you keep doing that.” He grabbed her fingers, bringing them up to his lips.
“Well then, what are we waiting for?”
* * *
“I will see your boss so you might as well have him come out here.” Andrew leaned on Harmony’s desk, trying his best intimidating posture.
Harmony rolled her eyes. “How many times do I have to tell you Angel isn’t in? Acting all high and mighty isn’t going to make him suddenly appear. And you might want to take your hands off my desk before I forget I’ve sworn off human blood.” Harmony’s face morphed, looking totally out of sync with her pretty in pink ensemble.
“I know well how to handle vampyres,” Andrew assured her.
“Fine.” Harmony thumbed a button under her desk. “Tell it to security.”
Angel and Spike walked in with Kate before security could arrive. Angel looked at Andrew then over to Harmony. “Problems, Harmony?”
“Nothing security can’t handle,” the blonde said.
“I’ll deal with it,” Angel said and Kate called off her security team. “Andrew, it’s hard to maintain civil ties with the Watchers when you just pop in and try to strong arm people. Now I’ve five minutes available so why don’t you hurry up and tell me what your problem is this time.” Angel went into his office without waiting for an answer.
Andrew looked momentarily stunned then followed the vampire. He tried to get himself together. “I’m here for the Alatyr.”
“Really?” Angel sat down as if totally unimpressed by his visitor.
“An operative told the Watchers that the Alatyr passed to this law firm upon the death of Mr. Leib. I’m here to collect it.”
“Just like that?” Angel tried not to smile but he couldn’t help it.
“It doesn’t belong in the hands of a place like this...with vampyres,” Andrew said.
“And you thought they’d just turn it over on your say so?” Kate asked. “What if they, the legal owners, refused?”
“Refusal isn’t an option,” Andrew replied, keeping his eyes on Angel as if Kate wasn’t of concern.
“So? You planned on stealing it?” Kate pressed into his space, her eyes hard and flaring. Andrew was forced to look at her. “From a law firm? Do you know how long you can go to jail for, for grand theft? I’m no longer L.A.P.D. but I have contacts there who would be glad to have a nice solid case dropped on their doorstep and this firm would make sure the prosecutor pushed for the max. How long do you think you’d last in prison? I wouldn’t bet on you lasting a half hour before someone laid you out or laid you down. Now I’ll ask this only once, what do you think you were trying to do stealing from us?”
Andrew’s mouth flopped wordlessly. He hadn’t expected any real confrontations, realizing he should have put more thought into his plan.
“I see why you wanted her around,” Spike said, “She has style.”
“Oh, yes.” Angel looked at Kate proudly. “And Andrew, if you even had the skills to take the Alatyr, you’re a day late. It was stolen yesterday by a professional thief.”
Andrew snorted. “You expect me to believe that.”
Angel kicked away from his desk in his expensive chair, gesturing at the gaping hole in the wall.
“Angel didn’t just lose his temper and kill a wall, Andrew,” Spike said. “He walked in on a burglary.”
“You’re just lucky you’re here now braying for the item or you might have ended up a top suspect,” Kate said.
“You can’t be serious,” Andrew said, waving her off dismissively.
“Angel I just spoke to...” Wes said, coming into the office. He stopped, staring at Andrew.
“Pryce, they’re telling me that the Alatyr was stolen. The Council is very interested in having that item and surely you have enough collegiate feelings for your old team to end this nonsense now.” Andrew stalking up to Wesley.
“It’s Wyndham-Pryce,” Wesley said coldly then turned his attention away from Andrew. “Angel, I just finished speaking to Giles like you suggested.” Wes’ blue eyes stabbed back at Andrew for a moment to make his point. “He’s aware that the Alatyr has been stolen. He said that there has been some ecological disturbances that date back to when the Alatyr first left Booyan Island. He’d like to return the omphalos to what is ostensibly the ‘world tree’ once it’s back in our possession.”
“And if we can find Gwen and her accomplice, we’ll help Giles do this,” Angel said.
“Oh, and Andrew, you might want to check in with Giles. Xander filled him in on you taking some initiative and well...” Wes made a face of disdain. “Let’s just say it wasn’t the initiative he wanted anyone taking.”
Andrew looked like he was about to protest but Angel cut in. “Wes, you, Spike, Gunn and I will head to the beach to see if we can retrieve the Alatyr. Kate, I don’t want you involved in this venture. Did you find out anything about Gwen?”
“Not under the name you gave me but if she is as successful at this as you’ve said, I’m not surprised. Wesley, give me Giles’ number and I’ll discuss the best way of handling the Alatyr once we retrieve it...unless we had other ideas for it.” Kate looked at Angel.
The vampire shrugged. “I know that Gunn had ideas for it. We’ll discuss that once we have it back.”
“I’m going with you,” Andrew insisted.
“I don’t think so,” Angel said, folding his arms.
“We Watchers have a stake in this,” Andrew protested.
“No, you have nothing. If I decide to cooperate with Giles I will, directly. If I decide to keep the Alatyr, I will since we are the rightful owners of it. If I decide to chuck the thing in the ocean, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Angel said.
Andrew looked to Spike for support. “But Giles...”
“Isn’t in charge here. I’m not having you coming along,” Angel said.
“This is what I do now,” Andrew said, drawing himself up to his full height.
“Yes, and last time you were here you handled the situation so well Spike got his arms cut off,” Angel reminded him and Andrew shrank.
“You do have a tendency to chatter the entire time, Andrew,” Spike said. “We’re trying to break into a well-guarded residence. We can’t roam around Malibu with you jabbering.”
Andrew looked particularly hurt at Spike’s rejection. “Fine. I need to talk to Giles.” He stalked out of the room.
“That was way too easy,” Spike said, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
“You know him best. I’ll take your word for it.” Angel got up. “Kate, let’s be sure we have a more secure place to put the Alatyr if we get it back.”
“Will do, Angel,” she said.
Angel led the way to the underground garage. Gunn was already waiting for him with a redone police interceptor. The plain blue car had a monster engine under the hood in case they needed it and enough room for all four men to pile in. Angel had only gotten a few blocks when he noticed something in the rear view. “I think Andrew’s actually following us.”
“Maybe he is getting better at this.” Spike twisted in the seat to look. “So, do we just let him sit back there?”
“We don’t even know where we’re actually going,” Wesley said. “All we know is Malibu and then we’re going to trust your noses to lead us to Gwen and her accomplice. It’ll be bad enough for our car to be driving around aimlessly.”
“He’s in a rented Cavalier,” Gunn said, looking out the rear window. “In that area, the cops will pick him off as being very wrong for the area profile. I wouldn’t waste time worrying about him.”
“Gunn’s right. It’ll just make a scene. I’m impressed that he actually thought to try this. And if he gets in the way later, I’ll just tell Giles the thieves got him.” Angel smirked.
* * *
Ethan looked at the Malibu palace, hoping the spell he had just cast had disabled the alarms. “Do you think they’re in there?”
“Who the hell can tell? Did you see that garage full of cars?” Kippendragr said then sneezed loudly several times.
“Are you done or should we alert them some more?” Ethan curled his fingers into fists, not that he’d actually hit the demon. Kippendragr could crush his skull with one blow.
“Do they have dogs?” The demon sniffled. “I’m allergic. Badly.”
“You couldn’t think of that before now?” Ethan eyed him sourly.
“They travel a lot, if this is the pair of thieves you think they are. I didn’t think they’d have guard dogs,” Kippendragr grumbled. “My kind can’t handle dogs.”
“Stay here and guard the door then,” Ethan tugged at the bright coppery wig on his head. He wasn’t wearing much of a disguise. In a case like this, more wasn’t necessarily better. He didn’t want to bring too much attention to himself but he wanted the attention to be on the hair and not his face. His outfit was security blue.
He cast an unlocking spell then looked back at Kippendragr and whispered, “Alohamora.”
“Just get inside, Potter,” the demon grumped, catching the joke.
Snorting, Ethan went in and found himself faced with four enormous dogs, all of them waist-high to him. He already had a sleep spell ready for them, thanks to Kippendragr’s allergies and cast it. He froze as hundred of pounds of dog hit the marble foyer. No one seemed to notice. The pounding sounds of Ravel’s Bolero poured out of a room deeper in the house. He almost couldn’t pick out the feminine cries of pleasure over the musical strains. He wagged his head. It was such a stereotypical make out music that it was almost tawdry. Still, it was a good sound. It meant that his marks were occupied.
He took out an oak leaf, prepared earlier for the spells’s final command, from his pocket and whispered to it, “Find.” The leaf levitated off his hand and began to float through the house. It took him past a spacious game room. He caught a glimpse of the pair and hurried past. She was a gorgeous creature. He wanted her.
Ethan put that out of mind and followed the leaf into the bed room. It hovered in front of a print of Rene Magritte’s The Surprise Answer. Maybe it wasn’t a print given the surroundings. It wasn’t something Ethan wanted on his bedroom wall. It was creepy, just a wooden door with a shrouded vaguely human shape torn out of it, revealing shades beyond and just the slightest hint there was something evil waiting there.
He took the painting down, revealing the safe. He was almost sad that it had such a trite hiding spot. He started to try and open it when movement out of the corner of his eye stopped him. His body went cold, drenched with sweat. He backed away, more afraid than he ever remembered being. There was a demon in the room with him, coming for him. Was it Eyghon? He knew Ripper had destroyed the demon, or at least delayed it long enough for Ethan to escape.
He didn’t wait to find out if it was Eyghon or another demon. He scooted out of the building, trying not to make any sounds. As he threw open the front door he found himself staring at three men, including Angel. Where the hell was Kippendragr? Couldn’t the demon do anything right?
Ethan swallowed hard then said softly. “Can I help you?”
“We got a call about the security system,” another Brit said.
“I’m the caretaker. Come on in and see if you can fix the system while I check out the pool. I haven’t seen anyone prowling about though,” Ethan said.
He tried not to look at Angel as the trio came in. He walked as casually as he could past them then headed for his car. “Kippendragr,” he hissed and the demon melted out of the shadows. “Where the hell were you?”
“I heard a car. I thought it was the thieves coming home,” Kippendragr said, tugging on his ridge of horns.
Ethan curled a lip at him. “Tell me again why I’m working with you?”
“I’m paying you. My tribe wants the Alatyr. Where is it?”
“I didn’t get it. It had a demon guardian. I wasn’t prepared for that and now Angel and company are inside.” Ethan sighed.
“Now what?” the demon asked.
“Get in the car and we wait. If we’re lucky, Angel will steal it and we can steal it back from him,” Ethan said with a wary smile.
* * *
“Well, that was lucky,” Wes whispered, “Him inviting you in. Saves us the trouble.”
“This is luckier.” Gunn pointed to the sleeping dogs.
Angel sniffed. “That was Ethan Rayne.”
“Who?” Gunn asked.
“Are you sure?” Wes asked.
He nodded. “Gunn, Spike, follow him. He might already have the Alatyr. Spike, you know what Rayne’s capable of. Wes, you get my back.”
Angel followed his nose through the house, tracking Ethan past the game room where he almost got himself caught. He couldn’t help stopping and looking. He had heard the sex sounds but he wasn’t prepared for what he saw, nor for Wes mouthing something that looked like ‘looks like fun.’ Angel wasn’t sure he agreed. How had his son gotten so strange?
He ended up in the bedroom and saw the safe in the wall. He tried to push what he had just seen out of mind. He knew that was not the intended use of Ravel’s Bolero nor plastic wrap. What had his son gotten into? Angel nearly kicked into the Magritte picture. He stared at the creepy thing. He preferred Magritte’s surreal pictures with things that floated.
As Angel reached for the safe, his stomach roiled. He tasted the wet penny flavor of blood as his last meal tried to come back on him, odd for a vampire. He was suddenly so afraid, his hands shook. He heard something soft behind him scurrying away. He turned and Wes was gone. Angel looked back at the safe and before him the dead had risen. Hundreds of them suddenly filled the room, all the people he had ever killed. Standing just in front of him were Buffy, Cordelia, Darla and Connor, their flesh rotting, maggots falling like snow to the carpeting. Buffy moved her head and bees pushed out of the opening that had once been her sweet mouth. Rusty fluid leaked from Cordelia’s eyes and his son’s neck gaped open where Angel had once slit it wide before handing the boy to Wolfram and Hart to fix.
Angel stumbled back from the safe. He rubbed his eyes hard, too hard. They hurt but the pain was good. It helped him focus his thoughts. His son wasn’t dead. He was in the other room being ridden hard by Gwen. Buffy was alive in Europe. “A spell,” he rasped out. It was some kind of fear spell to keep him from the safe. Angel pressed the gizmo Wes had given him to the safe and it ran the electronic lock. He knew that was the kind Gwen would have since she could lock and unlock it just by waving her hand at it. The safe opened and he was stunned at what he saw inside. It was hard not to pick up a few of the more beautiful items of jewelry - as if he had someone to give them to - but he refrained and snatched up the Alatyr.
Wes ran into him just outside the game room. Angel tried to hustle him away from the opening even if the lovers were far to involved with each other to notice the nearly silent intruders. Wes’ eyes were huge. He was pointing behind him. “We have a problem.”
The barking explained Wes’ cryptic statement. Angel winced. The dogs had reawakened and were coming for them. Gwen cried out, seeing them standing there, then she was off her bound lover and after them.
“Run!” Angel said, shoving Wes. “Don’t let her touch you.”
Angel booted two of the giant wolfhounds, cramming the Alatyr in Wes’ hands. One dog got Angel by the arm. He hated flinging the beast across the room. Gwen was on him in an instant. The electric shock sent him sprawling. She stalked over to him, naked, tan and covered with sweat and the smell of his son. That last thing was the only thing that took away his focus on how beautiful she was. Angel managed to get up, belting her one. She crashed through a glass topped table between the leather couches. He turned and ran, hearing the breaking of metal. Connor must have torn through the brass railing around the bar Gwen had him tied down to in the other room.
Angel didn’t stop to find out, slamming the door behind him to keep the dogs off his heels. They had what they had come for. Gunn and Wes were already in the car. He jumped in as it was rolling. Spike tromped the accelerator and they peeled out, the trunk of the car nearly getting nailed by what looked like lightning.
“That was close,” Gunn said.
“Did you find Ethan?” Angel asked, trying not to feel too triumphant at stealing the Alatyr back. He knew this wouldn’t be an end to it. Surely Gwen and Connor would try again. He knew if he were them he would.
“Slippery bastard got away. He had a car waiting,” Spike said.
“The important thing is we have the Alatyr,” Wes said, examining the stone in the dome light of the car. “You didn’t kill anyone did you, Angel?”
“No, well, maybe a dog. Gwen almost fried us there. Her accomplice never managed to join in the fight. Let’s get this home.”
“I’ll call Kate,” Wes said.
* * *
Connor didn’t like having the music up so loud because it interfered with his hearing, but on truly adventurous nights they tended to get noisy. Last summer one of their neighbors had made a smarmy joke about it. That was the problem with Malibu, no privacy. Let them snicker about Ravel.
He wasn’t sure he liked this game. Connor didn’t mind being tied up a little. He had no problems with Gwen tying him to the brass railing of their bar top. The old wood of the restored Irish bar was cold on his backside but that was a fun new sensation. It was the total mummification with plastic wrap he wasn’t sure he liked. The only parts of him not encased in blue plastic wrap was his head and crotch. He liked making Gwen happy. He enjoyed pleasuring her any way he could. He felt helpless to do that in this condition.
Her hands tingled over his cock as she sat on his belly, stroking him. It was almost enough to take his mind off the oddness of being a mummy. They were very open with each other. If they didn’t like a game, they’d talk it out and usually never did it again. He was thinking this might be one of those times. Connor turned his head, straining to hear over Bolero. “Did you hear that?”
“Probably just the hounds playing,” she replied distractedly.
He nodded. If it was an intruder, the dogs would be barking. Gwen leaned over him, bringing her breasts into play. She was in total control, leading him to the parts of her she wanted touched. He didn’t mind that. He sucked and licked her warm nipples as she brought them to his lips. For a moment he could have sworn someone was in the doorway but when he took his mind off Gwen, just for a moment, no one was there.
Gwen changed the game again, offering him her warm, moist folds as she lay over him. She sucked his penis into her mouth, her teeth lightly scraping over him. He moaned as she worked then tried his best to pleasure her. He was at the wrong angle to do it well and couldn’t move to alleviate that. He paused in his slow licking, thinking he heard voices but then there was no sounds. Definitely this game was going in the not-again file. He was too distracted.
He let go of the worries as Gwen mounted him, taking him inside ever so slowly. Her little inner muscles worked him gently while she barely moved. She merely smiled down at him. The kabazzah was a talent highly prized by the men Geisha served. He could see why. It was deeper, more touching to just have her looking down on him lovingly than it was to have her thrashing wildly on top of him.
His climax was aborted by the sudden barking of the dogs. Both his and Gwen’s heads snapped over to the door and standing there was Angel and another man that Connor didn’t know. Gwen was off of him racing after them men, naked like some Celtic warrioress of old. The men ran. Connor strained to free himself but between being shackled and mummified he had no leverage. He tried harder hearing one of his dogs yelping with pain. He heard the snap of Gwen’s electrical talent and someone fell. When he heard Gwen’s cry of pain and the breaking of glass, it spurred him on. The brass twisted and tore and he was free, sort of. He could barely walk shrouded like he was in plastic wrap.
When he got out of the room, he saw blood and broken glass and the front door was open. He staggered to it and Gwen nearly ran him over coming back in. She was bloodied but didn’t appear to be seriously hurt.
“They got the Alatyr,” she snarled.
“Fuck that, are you all right?” He tried to turn her around so he could see her back. “You’re bleeding.”
“I don’t think it’s bad.” She kicked the couch. “They got it.”
“We’ll worry about getting it back later. Get me out of this shit and I’ll take care of your back.”
“I’ll be fine, Connor.” She tried to ward him off. “We need to follow them.”
“They’ll go right back to Wolfram and Hart. They wouldn’t think we’d be right back after the thing. I’m not going anywhere until I’m sure you don’t need stitches,” he insisted.
Gwen sighed and tore the plastic wrap half off him, at least freeing up his arms better. He steered her into the bathroom and started wiping down her back with alcohol. She wiggled and hissed in pain. “Connor, you’re killing me here.”
“Hush, it’s not so bad,” he said, softly. “Really, they’re all shallow. You have some glass in you. I’m going to have to get it out or do you want to go to the emergency room?”
“Just do it,” she insisted.
Connor treated her wounds and got them bound up. She helped him free of the rest of the plastic wrap. Connor went to clean up the glass before his dogs got hurt, after satisfying himself that they weren’t seriously injured in the tussle with the vampire. “How’d he get in here anyhow?”
“I guess anyone can invite a vampire in, not just the owner of the house.” Gwen waved him over. “Connor, come look at this.”
Curious at his wife’s tone, Connor went to the front door. An oak leaf hovered there poking into the wood as if trying to get out. “You don’t see that every day.”
“I think it’s a spell. I think it’s tracking the Alatyr. How else did they know which safe we put it in?” Gwen said.
“Let’s get another look at the specs for Wolfram and Hart and take our new leafy friend with us. With any luck, we’ll have the Alatyr back by noon,” Connor said.
“That’s the plan.”
Joined: 28 Nov 2003
|Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 3:03 am Post subject:
“You got it back,” Kate said as Angel came into his office. He saw she was supervising the nearly finished repairs to his wall and safe. He was less thrilled to see Andrew was in the room but the young man was oddly silently. “It was getting a little tense in here.” Her eyes canted to Andrew who glared back.
“You called the cops on me,” he grumbled, turning his glower on Angel.
“No, we didn’t. If you’re ever going to be any good at this, you have to be aware of your surroundings,” Angel said.
“In other words, you can’t go into Millionaire Row driving a shit box car,” Gunn added.
“We have more than just Gwen and her accomplice after the Alatyr,” Wes said. “Ethan Rayne has entered the game for certain.”
“With a demon,” Spike said. “I think it was a Jesked demon. They’re very strong but they aren’t long on bravery or smarts. Pretty much just one step up from a Fyarl.”
“They got to the Alatyr first,” Angel reminded him.
“Yeah, I don’t get why they didn’t just walk off with it. Did we scare ‘em off?” Gunn dropped wearily into a chair.
“There was a fear spell on the safe. It nearly scared me off,” Angel admitted sheepishly.
“It did frighten me away,” Wes said, an embarrassed expression on his pale face. “But what we found in the house probably confirms Spike’s suspicions that it was a Jesked demon.”
“Why?” Andrew asked then realized he was showing he didn’t know something Wes did.
“Dogs, they had four guard dogs. Jeskeds are severely allergic.” Wes didn’t look at the new Watcher. His eyes were on the stuff from Angel’s safe, now under Kate’s watchful eye on the desk. He picked up a file box that read ‘Connor’ and opened it before Angel could stop him.
“Oh, well, yes, I didn’t know they had guard dogs,” Andrew said, trying to put his officious shell back together while Angel tried to get the box away from Wes without arousing suspicions.
“A fear spell.” Kate drummed her nails on Angel’s desk as Wes took out a picture of Angel and a baby from the box. Angel snatched it away and slammed the lid down on the box but he knew it was far too late. “I’d like to have one of those on this safe.”
“As would I.” Angel took a moment to try and get the snappishness out of his tone. He knew he had just aroused Wes’ curiosity by taking away the file box. He should have removed it, with its incriminating photos and videos, mementos granted by Lilah after the spell had been cast, the moment the safe had been ruined. “Have spells and divinations get on that because it was a very effective defense.” Angel clamped a hand down on Andrew’s wrist as he reached for the Alatyr.
“I just wanted to see it,” Andrew protested, rubbing his wrist after Angel let go. He flopped back on the couch.
“Like my dad always said, look with your eyes, not with your hands,” Kate said. “I spoke to Mr. Giles. He’d like you to call him, Angel. I think he’d like Wesley to accompany the Alatyr to Russia along with Andrew since he’s already here. Provided, of course, Wolfram and Hart is going to relinquish the artifact.”
Angel nodded at Andrew. “That explains why you haven’t escorted him out of here. I’ll call Giles and set it up. I think we’re agreed the Alatyr needs to be returned to Booyan Island.”
“Hey, sounds like that thing being out from under the world tree is doing more to ruin the environment than the current administration,” Gunn said. “Take it back. I don’t wanna be responsible for the world dying.”
“Well, if that’s settled.” Kate sidestepped the workers as they left, the wall now repaired. “Why don’t you put the Alatyr in the new wall safe for now.”
“I will. Kate, you’ve been up for nearly twenty-four hours. That goes for Gunn and Wes, too. Why don’t you all go home and get some sleep. Spike and I can stick around for awhile to make sure the Alatyr doesn’t go anywhere,” Angel said.
“No arguments here,” Gunn said, heading out.
“Call if anything happens,” Wes added.
“I’m not leaving,” Andrew said. “I have an obligation.”
“Fine, sit out in Harmony’s office. You can be the advance look out.” Angel smirked.
“Just don’t drive her too nuts, kid.” Spike dislodged Andrew from the couch, stretching out before Angel could. “No soul, no chip, she might just snack on you.”
“I’ll be prepared,” Andrew assured him and Kate escorted him to the outer office.
Angel hauled Spike off the couch. “My office, my couch.” He tossed the smaller vampire on the floor and stretched out himself.
After a few minutes of alpha male posturing and fang gnashing, Angel had the couch and Spike had a place on the soft carpet with one couch pillow to his credit. Angel shuttered the huge windows. The rising sun couldn’t hurt them here but there was no sense in trying to nap with it glaring in their eyes.
* * *
“Are you as pissed as me?” Gwen said, staring up at Wolfram and Hart’s glass tower. They had parked inside the visitor’s lot rather brazenly.
“Maybe we should have just told the buyer we lost the damn thing,” Connor said.
“Why? You don’t want to retrieve it?” Gwen’s eyes narrowed.
“No, I want to get the stone, shove it up the vampire’s ass and get it back from his ashes after I stake him,” Connor grumbled.
Gwen caught his face with her strong hands and kissed him. “That’s the man I married.”
“Still, we should have informed the buyer there could be a delay.”
“If we get it back, there won’t be a delay. No need to worry the buyer unnecessarily,” Gwen argued.
“Good point.” Connor shrugged. He knew he was being ridiculous. “How’s your back?”
“Sore but it won’t be a problem,” she assured him.
He let his fingers play in her long wavy brown hair. She looked as beautiful in her business suit as she did in any of her best gowns or that really hot bikini of hers. He glanced over his shoulder, thinking someone was watching but he didn’t see anyone suspicious. “Let’s do this.”
They went inside, blending in with the crowd. There was nothing eye catching about either of their suits. Only a close look would reveal that their shoes had good rubber grips that dress shoes usually lacked. No one challenged them or even noticed the floating leaf that was leading them through the hallways as if that was an every day thing. Around this place, Connor didn’t doubt it was.
“Damn, they brought it right back to his office,” Connor whispered.
She nodded and peered into the outer office. “One guy asleep in a chair and the blond vampire is busy doing her nails. Her back is to the door.”
Connor peeked in and saw the blond was in fact twisted in her horseshoe styled work station so that she was facing closer to the inner office. In one powerful jump, he cleared the distance between them and slammed her face down into the desk with a loud crack. She didn’t move after that. He knew he should just stake her but he didn’t want to cause himself more grief by pissing off her employer. Gwen moved in and briefly touched the young man who had just been aroused from his slumber by the noise of the head slam. The blond youth’s back arched as his body did a little dance, as a light dose of Gwen’s electricity coursed through him.
“He’ll be out for awhile,” she said, softly.
Connor nodded, wishing he could peer around the inner door with a mirror like he usual did to check out a room. It wouldn’t do him any good if Angel was inside. He eased a squirt gun out of his jacket pocket just in case the vampire heard the sharp rap of the blonde vampire’s head on the desk. He stepped inside and found himself faced with both Angel and a little blond man. Both looked drowsy but wary, obviously having heard the short attack.
“Shit.” Connor sprayed both men, taking the chance that the blond was a vampire, too. He was closer to Connor than Angel was. Both men growled, smoked and sizzled as the holy water ate at them. Gwen heard the cries and ran in to back him up.
Connor didn’t have time to wait for her to join the fray. Angel slammed him back against the desk. The creature’s strength was amazing. Connor had killed vampires before but rarely had he wrestled with them. He tried to shoot Angel, too, but the vampire had his gun arm and crushing it against the desk until he dropped the squirt gun. Angel’s fist shattered the gun. The vampire growled as the backlash splattered him.
Connor used that distraction and tried to kick the vampire in the jewels. The only reason the blow didn’t split Angel open like a rotten tomato was he sidestepped at the last moment. Connor’s foot hit but without a lot of force. Still, it was enough to send Angel to his knees with an abortive breathless bellow of pain.
Connor looked and saw Gwen taking on the blond. She shocked him across the room. He lay twitching as Gwen whirled away from him so she could fry the obviously repaired safe.
“Bloody...my heart...” the blond muttered.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s beating. Won’t last though.” Gwen smirked, touching the safe. “We don’t want to dust you but we will, if you keep getting in the way, Angel. All we want is the Alatyr.”
Connor turned to help her open the safe and realized he had made a critical mistake. Angel wasn’t as out of it as he thought. The vampire yanked his legs out from under him. Connor’s chin smashed off the desk on the way down and he bit his tongue. Blood gushed into his mouth as Angel twisted harder on his ankle. Connor screamed, trying to free himself before tendon, ligament or bone gave way. Gwen hurtled over her lover and went to put both hands on Angel’s head. The vampire let go of Connor’s ankle and rolled out of Gwen’s reach.
“That fucking hurt,” Connor snarled, scrambling to his feet. Putting weight on that ankle caused a fiery pain to rip through his leg but he had to risk it in order to dodge a charge by the blond vampire. He used the desk as a brace to kick out with his good foot and not having to put strain on the bad. The vampire slammed into the glass which cracked.
“Spike,” Angel shouted as the blond vampire hit the floor, glass showering down on him. Spike rolled immediately as a shaft of light knifed into the room.
“Gwen, go for the glass. It’s protecting them,” Connor said, leaping on Angel who moved to stop her. He spat a mouthful of blood in the vampire’s eyes as he buried a fist in the creature’s stomach. “That’s for the ankle.” He slammed Angel into the wall. “That’s for being a real pain in the ass.” Connor fell back a step as Angel’s fist caught him in the face. Out of the corner of his tearing eyes, he saw Spike knock down Gwen as she tossed a chair out the window. The vampire shrieked as she tried to fry him. Connor grabbed Angel and threw him into the wall for all he was worth. The wall shattered, revealing the safe. Angel collapsed, leaving a bloody streak down the wall. “And that was for hurting my Gwen.” Connor punched a fresh hole in the safe and snatched the Alatyr out.
He tried to run but his ankle was refusing to cooperate. He shoved the Alatyr into Gwen’s hands. “If I fall behind, leave me. I can handle them.”
“No way, Connor.”
He pushed her in front of him, out of the office before Spike or Angel could recover. The young man in the outer office tried to stop them and Connor laid him out flat with one barely even trying punch. The hallway was swarming with security. He snagged a fire extinguisher on the run, ignoring the pain in his ankle. Connor laid down a dense fog with it, hearing gun fire. Something burned along his ribs. Seeing Gwen was to the stairwell, he tossed the extinguisher and dashed after her. The pain became blinding but he couldn’t let it stop him.
“Up!” he cried once inside the stairwell.
They climbed and went out onto the roof, sprinting for the edge.
“You can’t carry me across. God, Connor, you’re bleeding all over. I think you were shot.” Gwen’s eyes were huge as her hands tugging at his blood-soaked shirt.
“I’ll be fine. I can help you across,” he assured her.
Gwen bit her lip but nodded. She took a running start and he gave her a super-powered push across to the neighboring rooftop. He made the jump himself just as security figured out they had headed for the roof. His ankle gave out as he landed and he skidded across the roof. The sheer hotness of the surface burned him. Gwen dragged his battered body up and they ducked into the stairwell of the building.
Shoving back his suit jacket, she lifted his shirt, tracing the gouge cut along his chest. “It just grazed you. The bleeding is already slowing. How’s your foot?”
“I don’t think it’s broken.” Connor had never broken a bone to his knowledge, in spite of being in some bad accidents like the one that killed his family. “He might have torn some ligaments though. It hurts like a bitch.”
“We’ll get you to a hospital as soon as we’re in the clear,” she said and he didn’t argue. They went into the third floor down and road the elevator the rest of the way.
They had a clear shot back to their car. No one was in the parking lot yet. Connor managed to sprint there but Gwen took the wheel. They didn’t make it out of the lot before a Hummer slammed into them full force. Connor’s vision dimmed with pain, his side taking the brunt of it. The metal was crushed around him and for a moment he relived the accident that took his whole family from him.
When his heart stopped thundering in his ears, he queried, “Gwen?”
“I’m okay. What does that idiot think he’s doing?” Gwen managed to open her door. “Are you okay, baby?”
“No. I’m a little trapped.”
Gwen’s hands went around him, checking for damage. Connor managed to plant his feet on the floorboards and kicked, bending the metal back away from him. Gwen helped him out. He was cut and bruised but he didn’t think he was any more seriously hurt than he had been. Gwen steadied him against the car. That’s when he saw the duo.
“Oh, damn, Gwen, it’s the guys I saw in the corridor the first time we stole it. Run.” Connor pointed them out then went for the shorter of the two. The blow knocked the man’s head back and his hat slipped off, revealing the horns. “Oh shit!” Connor fell back a few steps. “Come on, if you want the Alatyr, take it from me.”
“Get it, Kippendragr,” the taller man said.
Connor watched Gwen run, knowing she had the stone. To his horror, three SUV’s with the word ‘security’ on them entered the parking lot. Either they were more poorly equipped or Angel had ordered the guns to be put away because they had bean bag launchers. One of them clipped Gwen in the head and she sprawled on the sidewalk. “Gwen!” Connor screamed as the guards poured out of the car with something that looked like a rubber mat and leather cuffs. They knew how to protect themselves from her. Connor took two steps towards his wife then found himself flying. He had forgotten, in his fear, the demon he had been facing. He landed in the street, nearly getting run over. He belly-crawled a few feet and yanked a man hole cover up. He slammed it over the demon’s head as the creature reached for him then dropped into the sewer. He couldn’t help Gwen, not injured like he was, unarmed. He needed to stop the bleeding, brace his ankle and come up with a plan.
“I’m coming for you, love,” he promised in a whisper.
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