Season of Solace. 45

45:     Willy’s Place, Midtown, Sunnydale

“Angelus, I don’t want trouble.” Nervously, Willy wrung his bar towel in his hands as he approached the two vampires locked in a struggle at the far end of the bar.

As far as Willy could tell, the sudden attack had come without provocation. Not that Angelus had ever needed a reason. With a lightning swift move, he had the other guy pinned against the bar and looked ready to rip off an arm or two.

“You two got issues, take it outside.”

Golden eyes flicked up drilling into his, issuing a reminder, “The name’s Angel.”

Maybe a dark, avenging fallen-from-grace kinda angel, Willy figured, a tiny whimper escaping at the menacing growl in that voice. He knew trouble when he saw it no matter what name it went by. Angelus dealt out death and enjoyed doing it. He had done so several times right here in this bar, sadistic bastard.

Willy figured it might be a good idea to cut him a little slack. Though rumors said he’d taken up with the Slayer’s crowd again, there was no use taking any chances with his own neck.

Judging by the bad attitude, the odds of putting a stop to this didn’t look good anyway. Willy had noticed him talking to the new kid, one of those young athletic types from Sunnydale-U with more brawn than brain; the kind that made easy prey for a vamp on the prowl and ended up as one of them.

Maybe the dumb schmuck made a pass at that curvy brunette. Whatever Angelus was asking, he apparently didn’t like the answer he got because the fledgling’s nose was now smashed, swollen and bleeding against the bar. With any luck, he would just dust the poor bastard and leave without doing any damage.

Even though Angelus had started a bar fight the last time he was here, denying this guy access was just as impossible as trying to keep the Slayer outta the joint. That’s why Willy had hired himself a bouncer to keep the regular riff-raff in line whenever Miss Fancy Pants got it into her head to show up. It also worked for times like these when someone with a rep strolled in like he owned the place.

Sometimes, it was just easier to let things happen. This would probably be over in less than a minute. “Don’t get anything on the barstools that can’t be cleaned up,” Willy grumbled a warning when Angel turned back to the struggling vampire within his grasp.

Deciding to look busy, Willy started to wipe up the peanuts scattered across the bar top. The kid couldn’t have been more’n a month outta the grave, he figured. Dumb as a post. Clueless. Willy had no idea what he’d done to piss off Angelus— no, Angel, or whatever, but it was probably too much to hope he’d survive to pay his bar tab.

With his face smashed hard on its surface, the young vamp pushed against the bar top using his hands for leverage, but Angel was too strong for him. The kid couldn’t break free. Willy stood far enough away to avoid getting hurt, but close enough to hear what was being said.

“I told you not to move.” Angel pointed out that he had made a brief attempt at civil conversation. That had lasted a few seconds, Willy thought, until the kid started to make a break for it. “My business with Willy can wait.”

Willy paused in mid-swipe leaving the peanuts in a small pile as he dropped the pretense of work. He waited for Angel to say more. To most around these parts, ‘business’ meant money. Openly listening now, he heard Angel tell the kid, “But it looks like you’ve got the answers I need.”

“Forget it, dude.”

In addition to keeping him pressed against the bar, Angel twisted an arm behind him almost to the breaking point. A painful grunt caused Willy to squirm as he watched. “Where are Spike and Drusilla?”

“I-I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

Willy cringed. The fledge was not only an idiot, he was a bad liar. As usual, Willy had some intel, but he wasn’t planning to give it away. Best to wait and see if the kid coughed anything up or got dusted and then he’d consider negotiating a deal.

Angel grabbed a handful of hair, yanking the vampire up in his seat. He pulled at a medallion hanging around his throat until the thin roped chain snapped. He held it up for closer inspection. Willy leaned in, too, simply noting that it looked old.

“This is one of a kind and it belongs to Spike.” Willy nodded in agreement. He had seen Spike wearing that. Not that either of the vampires seemed to notice or care what he thought. “So if you want to walk away from here, I suggest you tell me how you got this and where I can find him.”

“Spike wh-who?” The stuttered question preceded a painful cry as Angel pressed down on his arm, twisting it nearly to the breaking point. The fledgling pleaded with the crowd, but they simply stared back, eager for bloodshed. “C’mon dudes. Kick his ass. You can take him.”

Angel glanced over his shoulder, staring down the demon patrons, full gameface in place. They didn’t budge much to Willy’s relief. The last thing he needed was another bill for renovation of the bar. Replacing a table or two was one thing. An all out fight would rip the place apart.

Satisfied that they were not going to make any stupid moves, Angel smashed the other guy back down on the bar. Blood spurted from his broken nose. That had to hurt. Better him than me, thought Willy, recalling he was the one Angel said he had come to talk to.

“No help there,” a sadistic twist formed on Angel’s lips. “Now start talking or I’ll show you the real meaning of pain.”

The fledgling shook his head, a panicked look in his eyes red-rimmed from too much drink. “I ain’t a snitch. Find ‘em yourself.”

A snort sounded from Krognfer, the demon sitting on the next bar stool. One of Willy’s regulars, he was calmly sipping at his beer and snacking on the specialty of the day: deep-dish beetles, while keeping his third eye on the action.

Angel obviously was not planning to take no for an answer. “Mind if I borrow this?”

Grabbing the demon’s fork, Angel flipped it and caught it again, bringing it down hard on the vampire’s hand, the tines lodged in the fleshy space between his bones. Then he pushed back on it so that the bones separated just enough to create excruciating pain.

When the vampire’s scream died down to a whimper, Angel calmly began again, “Now I’m asking you one last ti—”

A huge hand came down on Angel’s shoulder and spun him around. A deep bass voice sounded somewhere above his head. “Willy said he don’t want trouble.”

Willy gasped as the bouncer’s balled up fist hurtled toward Angel’s face. Waving his hands in the air, he tried to signal him to stop, but it was too late. He had not intended for the bouncer to get involved. Usually, the sheer size of the demon was enough to intimidate the most unruly customers, but when he got violent people usually ended up dead.

The ham-sized fist moved faster than expected, clipping the side of Angel’s head, and knocking him to the ground. Willy gripped the edge of the bar, leaning over, eyes wide with shock. He hoped the blow had knocked the vampire out because if it hadn’t…., “Oh that ain’t good.”

Angel lay sprawled across the floor. Fully conscious, he glared up at the demon that was almost seven feet tall and built like a steamroller. The customers here at Willy’s had given him a nickname. It emerged on a growl. “Back off, Tiny.” The mountainous demon was anything but.

Without answering, Tiny moved to stand between Angel and the vampire he had been questioning. But the sudden safety net he provided gave the younger vamp a false sense of security. With a grunt of pain, he pulled the fork from his flesh, dropped it and stepped out to taunt Angel. “Not so tough now, are ya?”

Ignoring the fledgling’s remarks and his still-healing injuries, Angel rose to his feet, standing far enough away that he did not have to crane his neck up to meet Tiny’s determined gaze. “Out of the way. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Laughter welled within the crowd. They obviously thought Tiny could take him. Angel had news for them. When the big bouncer failed to give way, he used his speed to move around him. A powerful kick sent the demon hurtling forward. He landed on a table, the legs giving way toppling table, its contents and the demon to the floor.

With a gasp, the vampire he had been interrogating decided to make a run for the door. Angel grabbed him as he went past, tossing him around so that he crashed against the front of the bar landing haphazardly across several empty bar stools. “Come up with an answer, yet?”

“Sp-Spike, yeah,” was all he got out before Tiny returned to make another grab at Angel. “It rings a bell. English guy, nutty girlfriend?”

Ducking under the beefy arms that swooped out to envelop him, Angel slid down to the ground and kicked the demon’s feet out from under him. The big brute wobbled until he fell flat on his ass sending a shockwave out to the surrounding tables.

With a smirk, Angel turned back to his main quarry, jerking the vampire up by his collar. He sat him up on the barstool, while keeping an eye on Tiny’s struggle to return to his feet from the periphery of his vision. It did not take him as long as expected.

“I’m…,” Angel executed a roll across Tiny’s broad back while he was still hunched over placing a tight choke hold around his neck, “listening.”

“Um, it was a few nights ago.”

With a roar, the demon turned his upper body one way and then the other trying to shake Angel loose. He held on, tightening his grasp until he felt the struggling slowly start to diminish. “Go on,” he ordered through clenched teeth.

“There was a poker game in the back room.” The young vamp’s eyes went wide as they watched Tiny’s lips and face slowly turning blue. “This Billy Idol wannabe strolls in, says his name is Spike like that’s supposed to mean something.”

Willy coughed, “The kid is new. Give him a break. And try not to kill my bouncer. I paid good money for him.”

Releasing his hold, Angel let Tiny go. The demon flopped to the floor unconscious causing groans to sound from the audience. “Then maybe you should help the kid out, Willy. Between the two of you, I think it’s a good bet that you have all of the information I’m looking for.”

Scene 46

Posted in TBC

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