Spike growled. “What the hell? Peaches?”
“So, much for the nice guy approach. What’s happened?”
“I can’t leave Cordy, right now. I want you to go to this address, kick the door in if you have to. Talk to Lorne”
“He’s green, you’ll know. Tell him everything that has been happening with Dracula, everything, then get him to give you a list of any possible, likely or unlikely sources of information on Dracula’s whereabouts’.”
“Green, so he’s demon, I can beat it out of him?”
“Just tell him who you are, sing a few bars of something and no violence will be necessary.”
”Sing? I’d rather pound.”
“Sing. He’s a great babysitter.”
“Oh. Why didn’t you say so?” Spike rolled his eyes and grabbed at the address. “Give me your car.”
Angel growled. “You’ve your own.”
“Yeah, but I like yours better.”
“Fine.” Angel growled. “If you…”
“The cheerleader, the squirt and now the car?” Spike shook his head reaching for his pants. Spike decided to put aside his wonderings.
It was kind of nice in a weird way to have his grandsire need him for something other than ridicule or abuse.
Spike was about to kick in the door, but what the hell, the squirt needed all the baby sitters he could get if the list of his enemies was really as long as Angel said. He leaned on the buzzer, never letting up.
“What the hell…Hey, it’s after hours, beauty sleep time, I don’t have to let you in. Closing time, invite to all demons retracted. Come back on 80’s appreciation night.” Lorne went to slam the door.
Spike struck out his arm blocking the door. “…Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking..when I hear the silly things that you say….I think somebody better put out the big light cuz I can’t stand to see you this way- Alison, I know this world is killing you….Oh, Alison, my aim is true, my aim is true, my aim true…. Can I come in now, Peaches said after some tunage, no violence would be necessary.”
Lorne stepped back. “Obliviously you didn’t get your singing talent from your grandsire, or your taste. I myself am more into the golden oldies crooners, but I can appreciate some Elvis Costello, he’s way better than Barry Manilow, especially butter cakes version. Sometimes, it makes you wonder about Angelus doesn’t it?” Lorne shivered.
“None of them can sing, you are so welcomed here – a member of the family that can carry a tune. Come in, and tootsie roll, I doubt the world is really killing your slaying beauty, it’s just confusing for her, death can do that to you. Your heart is true. Hers? I would have to hear a chorus or too. So, what’s up, lemon drop?”
Spike just stared at the green demon cloaked in a bright orange and green silk robe. “What do you know about Buffy?”
“Too much, actually. A while back, there was this big flux in the big guy and the Princess’ auras surrounding the heroic blonde’s supposed death. Don’t you find it funny that things that die, don’t stay dead anymore, not that I want the slayer dead, she’s one of the good guys, but it makes you wonder. Why are you here? All I’m getting is mixture of Buffy, Angel and the Princess, but no real sense, danger to someone, but….oh, the Princess. Dracula? Damn, thought he was dead. There you go. Is Cordy all right? The buttery delicious croissant can’t be taking this well, growling a lot is he? Has he busted up the hotel yet? No, well lets see if we can stop this before that begins. Tell, pumpkin cakes, that I’ll have the list at the hotel in a couple of hours. Did you want a drink or was that it? Oh, lollypop, you’re an unusual vampire, not all gloom and doom; take advantage of what’s offered to you, take it and what you want can’t be that far behind. And the squirt is cute isn’t he? Come back when the crisis is over, take a whorl on stage bring the heroic blonde. It’ll be fun.”
Spike didn’t know what to make of the demon; he hung on to the purpose of his errand. “Peaches, wants the list.”
“And, he’ll get it. Rush, rush, that’s cupcakes for you. I know he’s all enraged, don’t need to read him for that; the Princess is in danger, but if he wants a good, accurate list and not a sleep groggy mishmash of guesses, he’ll have to cool his buttery buns a bit. I’ll be along in the early morning hours. Shoo, unless you plan sing to me again.” Lorne fluttered his hands at the blonde vampire.
“Peaches, who the hell have you been hanging out with and what’s his deal? He was wearing orange and green silk and called me a lollypop.”
Angel was already half way down the main staircase. He had been waiting for the other vampire to return.
“At least you aren’t a pastry. The list?”
“He said unless you wanted a groggy guess list, you’d have to wait until morning, it was going to take a couple of hours.”
Angel growled but nodded and headed back upstairs.
Angel stopped and growled again, never turning around. “Nothing is wrong with ‘Mandy’”
“Uhuh.” Spike’s gaze followed the dark vampire up the stairs. Spike shook his head. That used to be Angelus, the Scourge of Europe. It must have been his skill at killing that made Angelus the talk of the old days; cuz Angel was just a dork.
The only thing cool about the ensouled version was Angel’s leather coat and convertible. Spike shook his head and headed back to his room.
Spike kept his eyes close. He almost jumped up and attacked, but he sensed who it was immediately. Why the chit was coming into his room was beyond him.
It wasn’t for a quick tumble, he could tell that, thank god. Spike didn’t need Angel going all territorial on him, proving how much of Angelus was still present in the vampire. But why was she there?
He heard Cordelia move, a rustle of paper, and then the door closed softly behind her as she left. Curious, Spike opened his eyes.
There was a note on his door. Even more curious, he reached for it.
Angel and I’ve gone to my apartment, I’m telling you this cuz you may need breakfast before we get back. The blood is on the bottom shelf the refrigerator, can’t miss it-it’s red. Don’t worry about taking the last bag. Angel already had his and we’ll pick up some more on the way back. The mugs are in the upper left cabinet. Set the microwave for 2:10 on med high, the med high is important, you do it on high and it tastes bad, burnt or something, I don’t know, but that’s what Angel says. Oh, if you’re feeling adventurous, the cinnamon is in the right lower cabinet. Remember, med high. Don’t let Fred do it for you, she’s a whiz at math but is clueless at the microwave. Oh, also, remember no cussing or smoking in front of Connor. You can tell him stories, but they have to be G friendly and he likes the vamp face. See ya…C
“I asked you a question.”
“Master, I do not have an answer for you. I can not explain why the young woman didn’t come to you or how Angelus came to almost catch you.”
“He DID not.”
“No, course not. I misspoke. What I meant to say is I do not know how Angelus was aware of your presence at the hotel or how that it was necessary for you to take flight.”
Dracula spun on his heel piercing Mortimor with his glare. Mortimor bowed in deference to the Count’s silent reproach. Dracula nodded and resumed his pacing. “She told him. How is that possible?”
“Again, Master, I do not have an answer for you. In the past, the enticement spell has cloaked your presence, drawing your choices to you unaware- that is of course until you wish them to be aware. I do not recall any of them ever speaking of your visits.”
Dracula stopped directly in front of his servant. “I’m very mindful of these facts, Mortimor, that’s why I’m asking. Are you being deliberately obtuse? Are you sure this is even hers?” Dracula held up a red silk negligee. “Or perhaps it isn’t personal enough.”
“Master, did you not retrieve that article of clothing from the young woman’s bedroom? And while it’s been many, many years, it is my impression that lingerie is still considered personal to the female gender.”
“Are you even sure that it was the right address? She wasn’t there as expected; she was with Angelus in his bed. How is that possible?”
“Master, did you not earlier comment on her scent?”
Dracula glowered at the Englishmen. He brought the silk to his face. “It is she. Unique, sweet, I want her.”
“Then, I’m sure you will have her.” Mortimor was too well aware of Dracula’s talents for seductive manipulation and torture to be confident that vampire would fail in taking his new obsession even with the unusual occurrences of that night.
Dracula paused and considered his servant. “Mortimor, I believe this to be your fault.” Silkily chastising the human.
“I do apologize, Master. Though, perhaps you can inform me how I am to blame, so as not to make the same error again.”
“Did you or did you not tell me that you believed that the young woman was not Angelus’ property, based on the information you received, is that not correct.” Raising his brows.
“I do believe I made that conclusion.”
“There. You did. Obviously, you were wrong.”
“Obviously.” Mortimor hid his puzzlement. The information he had received about the young woman did not equate to that of vampire’s property or human consort. Mortimor had never encountered a vampire that would allow such free will in either.
The young woman had her own residence and there even had been rumors that she was an actress as well as a co-worker in Angelus’ detective agency. The role of an actress had not changed much over the last century, they may not be labeled as whores in this age, but they still were required to sell their talent and beauty.
The concept that a vampire would permit his property, much less his consort to offer herself to others was incogitable. Yet, she must be Angelus’ property otherwise why would she be occupying his bed. A human willingly doing so was even more incogitable.
“Had you not convinced me otherwise, I would have considered Angelus’ claim on her when I devised the spell. One must make adjustments. It is apparent he subjugates her will. How else could you explain such a lovely creature chose a barbarian like Angelus. His mark was a ruse, but not as you had me believe as a pretense of ownership, but one hastily applied.
The true mark must be located in a position that is not visible. It is as I first speculated. Did I not tell you a bond existed between Angelus and the girl? I’m sure I did.” Dracula paused a small smile appeared. “I wonder where the mark could be. They are so many tantalizing possibilities. Shame on you, Mortimor for making me believe that a soul would cause Angelus not to claim the young woman. Disgusting, he may be, but he is still a vampire.”
“I beg your forgiveness, Master.” An uneasy feeling came over Mortimor, a thought he had not considered. A thought, Mortimor knew Dracula would never consider. Was it possible that this bond that apparently existed between the vampire and the young woman wasn’t one that Angelus manipulated despite his soul, but one that was made possible because of it.
Could it be that the vampire could love? Mortimor had heard of vampires remaining companions for centuries and calling themselves ‘in love’, but it was rare and Mortimor hadn’t believed it. Vampires were selfish, amoral creatures by nature. The emotion of selflessness required for true love was foreign to them. Property they could claim, love they could not. Mortimor shook the speculation away before it could take root in his mind.
If it was possible for the ensouled Angelus to love and for the young woman to love him, Dracula must never find out. His reaction would not be pleasant. Many decades of torture had conditioned Mortimor not to feel the fierce pain in his heart at the atrocities that Dracula had subjected his sweet wife to or the horror of the destruction of his own soul as Mortimor afflicted the last horrible session of torture at the Count’s bidding.
But, while Mortimor no longer could feel the pain or the love for his dead wife, he could remember that both once existed. Mortimor still had enough of his heart left not to wish that pain on any soul, vampire or human.
“Do you?” Dracula raised his brows again. “What are you thinking, Mortimor?” Dracula studied his servant.
“Merely, pondering how I can repay my mistake, Master.”
“Have you thought of something? Nevermind, that was rhetorical. There are certain items that I need to modify the spell; you will get them for me. I must make the spell more powerful. I will overcome this small hindrance to my plan.”
“Master, wouldn’t just killing Angelus release any hold that he may have on her?” Mortimor hoped that Dracula would follow the suggestion. A direct attack on Angelus may be best solution. The information that Mortimor had received regarding Angelus indicated that even with a soul, the vampire had retained a more than sufficient ruthlessness in dealing with his enemies.
Angelus may no longer be the Scourge of Europe, but Angelus’ abilities were still feared by the vampire community of LA and he had quite effectively dispatched the majority of Dracula’s inner circle. There may be a chance that Angelus would be the victor in a confrontation between he and the older vampire.
“Mortimor, I wish Angelus to know that she has been taken and then I will kill him. There is no beauty in killing him and then taking her, no challenge. Think, Mortimor, you must think,” tapping along the side of the servant’s head. “That’s why you have a brain.”
“Yes, of course. It’s just that my brain isn’t what it once was.” Mortimor sighed. There would be an eventual violent battle between the two vampires, but it may be to late to save the young woman.
Mortimor could not guess at the outcome then. If Angelus did love woman, would her loss make him stronger or weaker? Mortimor knew that watching the slow hideous torture of his own love destroyed his will to fight and left him a willing victim to Dracula. Would a vampire with a soul have a different reaction than a human?
Dracula narrowed his eyes. “Mortimor, you weren’t thinking of how to make it up to me, you were thinking of that lovely wife of yours. Why now? Do you see a resemblance? I do not. Then again, I did not care for your dear Abby. Lovely, she may have been but she was a nuisance. Get over it, Mortimor. She’s long dead, just as your love for her is dead. You know that I couldn’t allow that useless emotion to interfere with your utter devotion to myself. It was for your own good.”
“You have my devotion, Master.”
“Sometimes, I wonder. Mortimor, it saddens me how you forget how much you really need me. I think we shall postpone your errand, I find that it is more important at this moment to remind you.” Smoothly coming up behind the servant, strong elegant fingers moving under the high starched collar, stroking the large puckered scars hidden underneath.
“That won’t be necessary, Master.” Mortimor stilled hating the anticipation coursing through his pounding veins.
“Resistance, Mortimor? I do think you MUST be reminded.”
“Don’t fret, so. I’ll even let you choose. Which will it be, Mortimor, pain or pleasure first?” Whispering close in the human’s ear.
“I believe that choice must be yours, Master.”
“I suppose you are right. Pain, then. I so do enjoy your whimpered pleas for my pleasing touch afterwards.”
“I am your servant, Master.” Mortimor bowed, his hope for the moment gone. All thoughts of love gone. The only thing that was left was an intense hatred and an aching need.
“Yes, Mortimor, you are. Don’t ever forget.” Blood spurted from the old scars as Dracula bit.
Spike was unwillingly drawn to the sounds of nonsensical babble and small gurgling spurts of breath.
“Come on, Connor, please. Blurslurp for me, please. You do it for Cordy. Oh, okay. I bet you don’t even do it for your daddy, it’s just for your mama, isn’t it?” Fred looked guiltily around.
“Shh, don’t tell her, I said that. Cordy just realized that she loved your daddy. I love her, too, but she’s a little slow sometimes. But, we know she’s your Mama don’t we, little one. Uhuh.” Fred smiled winningly at the tiny baby.
“I thought Darla, was the squirt’s ‘mama’. A sight I can’t even pretend to imagine. She was as motherly as a barracuda, more likely to devour her babe rather than sing it lullabies, actually she’d probably sing then snack, laughing all the while.”
Fred ran up to the vampire shoving her hand over his mouth. “Shh. If you want to talk about D…A…R…L…A then you be nice. Angel hasn’t told him that she was an e…v…i…l vampire, only that she died to save him.” Fred glared.
“The squirt doesn’t understand a word I’m saying, he’s a squirt.”
Fred narrowed her eyes. “The Book says that babies understand tones and meanings if not the actual words,” grabbing a book and thrusting it at the vampire.
Spike turned the worn book over in his hands, leafing through it. Every page was highlighted and dog-eared; he turned back to the cover. How to Care and Emotionally Connect With Your Newborn. “Peaches read this nonsense?”
“It’s not nonsense, it was on the New York Times Best Sellers List. All the baby magazines cite it. Conny, waha,” Fred turned to the baby, smiling and waving,” had a very T…R…A…U…M…A…T…I…C birth.” She shot back to Spike. “If you keep being so rude, I’m not going to invite you in. Have you had breakfast, yet?” Fred pushed at her glasses. “Stupid question, the blood is downstairs, you came from upstairs. You haven’t had time to go down stairs yet. Or have you? Angel’s quick, he can go up and down the stairs a million of times, well not a million, or maybe a million, I haven’t actually counted, but it could be a lot. He’s a vampire quick and quiet. You’re a vampire, so you could’ve…”
Spike reached out and thrusting his hand over her mouth. “Stop your yammering, please. I could’ve taken out a troop full of humans at the pain your giving my head.”
“Whoops. Hey, what do you know about the chip? I could look it up on the computer, maybe…Oh, the chip keeps you from hurting humans, so that wouldn’t be a good idea for me…scratch that thought.”
“Pet, if you shut up, I’ll considered it scratched.”
Fred nodded. “So, do you want to come in?”
“You’re inviting me? You do understand about the whole vampire can’t enter without an invitation rule, don’t you?” Spike really did wonder. The little chit was bonkers.
“Of course.” Fred waved Spike’s question away. “Angel explained that to me right off, well sort of right off, but I got it. This is my room, so even though it’s his hotel, he can’t come in unless I invited him. So I invited him.”
“And Peaches comes in here a lot.” Spike raised his brows. This sounded more like Angelus, keeping a tasty bit on the side for entertainment value.
“Sure, there was the time he visited when he came back from the monastery after the B word died. Though I guess we can say Buffy now, since he loves Cordy, I think he loved her even then, Kyerumption, you know. He came up to tell me to leave my room every once in awhile. I didn’t come out much; it was living in that cave for all those years. And then he came up to explain why he yelled at me to stay in my room when I finally did leave it. It was that James vampire. He was in the hotel trying to kill Angel and Cordy. They went into the sewers. And then there was the time that my parents were here and I thought I wanted to leave with them and he carried my bag out, but I came back, because I figured out about the bugs. But, he came in with everyone else when they painted my room-I had written a fairytale on my wall. Angel knocked though. He always knocks. Angel is such a gentleman. Then, then well he was here last night and this morning to see Connor. So, yeah.” Fred smiled quite pleased that she remembered every time Angel came to visit her.
“I meant.” Spike stopped it wasn’t worth it. Gentleman? The Order of Aurelius used to be so fuckin scary, now it was just a crazy black queen, a neutered fool in love and an even bigger souled fool in love. The world was going to end soon, it just had to, maybe this time it would take.
“So, are you coming in or not? Cordy said you could, but no naughty stories or smoking.”
“And does Peaches know about the chit’s permission?”
Fred shrugged. “I would think so, he was standing next to her when she said it. Really, since the Kyerumption brick hit them on the head they haven’t been very far apart. Romantic, isn’t it? Or it could be because of Dracula, probably both, don’t you think. So are you coming in, do you want to hold him? Cordy said that was okay too, as long as you hadn’t had a cigarette at least two hours prior. Have you had one, cuz we don’t like smoking in the hotel, you have to go outside, well except when it’s daylight, of course. Cordelia said you could smoke in the basement. Angel wasn’t real happy about that, but he nodded, so I assume it’s okay.” Fred smiled.
“No, really, I think Angel was okay with you smoking in the basement.”
“I’ll pass on holding the squirt. I think all just get something to eat. Blood, cuz I’m a bad ass vampire.” Spike wasn’t sure whom he was trying to remind.
“Sure,” Fred smiled. “You’re hungry, you just woke up, silly me. Do you want me to fix it? I know where everything is.”
Spike remembered Cordelia’s warning and now he understood it. “No. The cheerleader gave me directions.”
“Okay, but if you have trouble let me know that microwave is tricky.”
Spike nodded and slowly backed away from the smiling young woman.
“Oh, William.” Fred came running back up to the door.
“My name is Spike.”
“The file says William.”
“The file whatever that is – is bloody wrong. It’s Spike.”
“Sorry, but the file said…” Fred paused at the vampire’s glare. “Sorry, Spike. Spike, you refused my first invitation, does that negate it, or is it on going? Oh, Spike, whatever. Spike, you ‘re still invited. But, Spike, don’t come in when I’m asleep, Charles would get mad, we’re sort of dating. Spike, have a good breakfast.”
Spike backed away from the doorway. He was almost positive that the innocent looking twit was making fun of him. But, he couldn’t be sure; she was bonkers and looked so damn innocent. Spike stumbled on the first step.
The Cheerleader wasn’t the only really strange female in this bizarre place. Spike caught his footing and headed downstairs, trying desperately to remember that he was a demon, therefore feared by somebody somewhere.
“Mortimor.” Dracula stretched up in the big coffin. The flickering of the candlelight speckled off the paleness of his chiseled lean chest.
“Yes, Master.” Mortimor pulled on his shirt covering the fresh slash marks and bites on his chest, only wincing a little.
“You did not disappoint me.”
“I am here to please.”
“And you do. Hurry, I want the girl.”
Dracula wandered around the showroom. So many to choose from, it was a difficult decision. Dracula pulled the bound mortician up from the belly of one of the several coffins, dragging him to the floor. “You have some excellent examples of craftsmanship here. I applaud your selection. I may even come to admire this country, everything so big, even in death you must have big. Wonderful. I need your assistance, though, I can’t make this decision on my own and Mortimor has gone on a little errand. I’m leaning toward this one.” Brushing the gleaming mahogany of a large coffin. “It looks so roomy,” Dracula easily tossed the squirming man into the casket. “Yes, it is.” Dracula slipped inside, gripping the man’s neck. “Now, let’s see about the blood, I can’t have it clash with the cushions.” Dracula’s fangs ripped a large gash in the flesh, blood spurting on the silk fabric. “I like it.” Studying the pattern of crimson splashed on the shiny cushion. “I do indeed. Thank you, you’ve been very helpful.” Dracula plunged draining the man of his remaining blood. Dracula would have Mortimor make the necessary arrangement for the shipment of his new coffin to Transylvania when it was time to leave.
Now what to do? Dracula did hope Mortimor would return soon. He was getting bored. Both of the morticians were dead. He really should have saved one. Oh well. Dracula picked up Cordelia’s negligee.
He was disappointed, yet on the bright side it hadn’t been a complete failure. Once Mortimor returned he could make the spell more powerful. Dracula sat in the plush armchair, twirling the silk. If that didn’t work there was always direct approach.
Dracula sighed he hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Common kidnapping was tedious and without charm. But one way or another, he would have this Cordelia Chase and Angelus would die.
“It took you long enough.”
“The apothecary was reluctant to open his shop at dawn, Master.”
“Do not tell me you failed.”
“No, Master, it just took some persuasion.”
“Violence, Mortimor?” Dracula raised his brows.
“No, Master, money.”
“Of course, people in trade, predictable. ” The vampire nodded. “It is good that you returned, I was getting weary of talking to myself.”
Mortimor looked over at the two bound very dead morticians, one that had been very alive before he left. “Understandable, dead humans do not make good conversationalist.”
Dracula shrugged. “I know, I had planned to save one, but you were gone so long and I was bored. I did, however, find the perfect coffin. I wish it to be shipped home when we leave.”
“I am pleased that your time was not an entire waste, Master.”
Dracula laughed slapping Mortimor on the back. “Good to see your sense humor returning, Mortimor, now give me the items. I must begin.”