False Claims 82-86

Chapter Eighty Two

Seated at her desk, Jenny tried to force down the nervousness and fear bubbling within her. She was surrounded by ceremonial tools of the Kalderash clan; pungent herbs, ritualistic bowls, and a glass orb.

A noise caught her attention and as she peered into the shadows a dark figure separated itself from their depths.

“Angel…” She knew it would push his buttons to be referred to by the chosen name of the soul, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. After all he’d done, all the pain he’d caused, anger was winding its way through the dread surrounding her. “How did you get in here?”

“I was invited. The sign in front of the school… ‘Formatia trans sicere educatorum.”

If the situation hadn’t been so dire she’d have rolled her eyes at the looming vampire. He knew he didn’t need an invitation to a public place but he just had to be arrogant; had to show off. Well she could show off, too.

“Enter all ye who seek knowledge.”

Angelus nodded his head in acknowledgement of her response.

“What can I say? I’m a knowledge seeker.”

Hating the stupidity of what she was about to say, she pushed forward nonetheless.

“Angel, I-I-I’ve got good news.”

He smirked at her, loving the superior feeling of being one step ahead.

“I heard. You went shopping at the local boogedy-boogedy store.”

Jenny flinched as a large arm stretched towards her, but at the last minute it fell to pick up the glass orb on her desk.

“The Orb of Thesulah. If memory serves, this is supposed to summon a person’s soul from the ether… store it until it can be transferred.”

The glass caught what little light there was in the room in a spellbinding display as Angelus twirled it with long, deft fingers.

“You know what I hate most about these things?”

Although the tone of his deep voice was pleasant enough there was no way that Jenny could fail to notice the underlying menace that made clear that this was a rhetorical question.

Suddenly every muscle in her body tightened in preparation for fight or flight, neither of which would be successful, as the orb Angelus had been holding whispered past her ear to shatter against the chalkboard behind her showering the floor beneath with tinkling shards of glass.

Smiling cruelly he answered his own question. “They’re so damn fragile. Must be that shoddy gypsy craftsmanship, huh?”

Jenny barely registered the insult to her people, cringing back as Angelus lunged towards her. Her worry, however, was needless as Angelus was knocked sideways before he could get within fangs reach of her. She sneered down at the fallen vampire, her courage greatly restored by the presence of the slayer in the room.

“I wonder Angelus, is it the repercussions of your separation from Cordelia or your natural arrogance that would allow you to believe that I’d be stupid enough to attempt to recurse a vampire in a public establishment at night.”

Inching closer as he rose from his position on the floor Buffy couldn’t help but heap her own ridicule on his head, happy to be the giver rather than the receiver for once.

“She’s right. How the mighty Angelus has fallen that he couldn’t see what an obvious trap this was. Did you really think that if we were going to recurse you we’d let that information out to the demon population at large? But believe me; I’m not going to waste the opportunity your complete stupidity has provided.”

Her words hit the mark as Angelus lunged wildly at her with none of his usual finesse. And so it began.

The fighting was fierce. While Buffy had the advantage of familiar terrain and her taunting was definitely making Angelus sloppy, what they hadn’t accounted for was that while his skills suffered his waning stability and terrible rage gave him a strength that seemed to almost mitigate his weaknesses.

But no matter how poorly his mind was functioning his finally honed instincts were still in tact. Sensing that he wouldn’t be able to hold it together long enough to succeed against the slayer and that once her lost control she would most certainly move in for the kill, he swung his leg outward in a wide arc, catching Buffy off guard and sending her staggering backwards long enough for him to crash through the large windows lining one wall and disappear into the night.

As the two women watched the darkness swallow the vampire they silently acknowledged that their last attempt on Angelus had failed and that there was no choice now but to gather the second set of necessities for the spell and deal with this unqualified disaster once Angel had returned.


Chapter Eighty Three

Angelus sat in a large, leather chair, a smile at odds with his injuries curving his lips as he stared at the monolith before him.

He’d been furious as he left the school after the fight with the slayer. Shrouded in a cloak of impending doom, the menace he radiated spread out before him pushing anyone with even the smallest sense of self-preservation from his path.

In an attempt to even marginally relieve his pent up rage, he embarked upon a spree of property damage as he made his way back to the mansion. Kicking out at a particularly offensive newspaper rack in much the same way as he had the slayer, his eye was caught by the front page of one of the papers as they floated down to the sidewalk.

“Mysterious Obelisk Unearthed – Excavators Discover Ancient
Artifact”

The suspicions he had as he gazed at the picture were confirmed as he returned home to find Drucilla dancing in front of the enormous fireplace enchanted by the whispers she said were filling her head.

It had taken less than an hour to retrieve the massive stone vault; less than sixty minutes to procure the key to Cordelia’s return. Nothing could spoil the exquisite ecstasy of this moment.

Although Spike’s sudden appearance cut it fairly close.

As if he sensed the rare instance of peace engulfing his grandsire the blond sought, almost instinctually, to shatter it.

“It’s a big rock. I can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.”

Seeing Angelus’ lazy smile simply stretch wider, Spike sighed and resigned himself to merely discovering the genesis for such an unexpectedly good mood, having to sadly discard his earlier plan to spoil the contented feeling.

But, as always with the older vampire, one didn’t have to do much to get him to blather on and on about his supposed genius whenever he thought he’d done something exceptional.

“Spike, boy, you never did learn your history.”

For a moment Spike let himself dream about the expression on the blowhard’s face if he just stood up right then and walked out on the longwinded speech that was coming. But even as phenomenally impulsive as he was, Spike knew that annoyance, no matter how extreme, was not a good enough reason to throw away his wild card. Embracing the mantra, ‘My time will come’, he resigned himself to being the captive audience Angelus obviously wanted.

“Let’s have a lesson, then.”

True to character, he needed no further prodding.

“Acathla the demon came forth to swallow the world. He was killed by a virtuous knight who pierced the demon’s heart before he could draw a breath to perform the act. Acathla turned to stone, as demons sometimes do, and was buried where neither man nor demon would want to look. Unless of course they’re putting up low-rent housing. Boys…”

At their Master’s call Spike watched two minions scurry in, crowbars at the ready for the grand unveiling. As strong as he liked to believe himself to be, he couldn’t help the frisson of fear that shot down his spine as the heavy lid crashed to the floor clouding the air with dust and ancient debris.

He hated to admit that Angelus was right about anything, but in this case he had been doubly so – The demon resting inside was exactly how Angelus had described him; and it was, indeed, of as great an importance as he had conveyed. Simply being in its presence was enough to make any sane vampire in the immediate vicinity skittish. Which of course ruled out both his grandsire and his sire who had just entered the room. Despite his misgivings Spike knew he had to follow what was sure to be Angelus’ dubious logic in this undertaking.

“Let me guess. Someone pulls out the sword…”

“Someone worthy…” Angelus responded leaving no doubt that that someone was him.

“Mm. The demon wakes up, and wackiness ensues.”

And his fears were confirmed –

“And every creature living on this planet will go to Hell.”

As if things weren’t bad enough, Spike realized that he now had to deal with the end of the world. As much as he truly hated it, it seemed he and the slayer agreed that ending the world probably wasn’t the most productive thing one could do with their life. It wouldn’t even be memorable if you wiped out anything with a memory. Damn shortsighted pricks the lot of them. Sure, Spike had always liked a bit of fun himself, he’d even helped patch the judge together. But sending everything to hell? That was just throwing the baby out with the bathwater…before you ate it.

“He will swallow the world.”

For one brief moment Spike’s unease was eclipsed by the hypnotic sway of Drucilla’s alluring form as she danced around in rapturous agony as the demon called to her.

“He fills my head. I can’t hear anything else.”

Dragging his eyes away from the beautiful sight Spike decided to confront this insanity head on.

“You can’t be serious about this Angelus. For fuck’s sake, I know you’re runnin’ low on reason lately, but even if you don’t give a damn about the rest of us, what about your little pet? How’d you plan to get her out once Rocky here gobbles her up with the rest of the world? A fat lot of good she’ll – ”

Spike expected a lot of responses from explosions of anger to fanatical mutterings, but genuine, lucid laughter hadn’t been high on his list…or on the list at all.

“Try not to be any more stupid than is absolutely necessary, Spike. The point of stealing this ancient fool isn’t to revive him, it’s to trade him.”

Despite the insult to his intelligence Spike immediately grasped Angelus’ plan and, as much as it pained him to admit it – and it hurt on a par with being crushed by that church – it was absolutely brilliant.

The Watcher’s Council would jump to the same conclusion that he had; that Angelus was set on unleashing Acathla’s wrath and they’d be scrambling to stop him. Returning what for them was simply one insignificant woman would be a painless way to resolve the situation in their minds. If nothing else, you could always depend on with the Council higher ups for their consistency. They were all complete bastards whose morals conformed to whatever grand plan was currently hatching in their pea brains.

Of course, there was always a fly in the otherwise antiseptic ointment.

“What about the slayer?”

“What about her? That’s the beauty of this plan Spike; it’s slayer-free.”

Propping his booted feet up on the oak table in front of him Angelus stretched out his still healing body as he mused over the particulars of the situation.

“I think I’ve finally pushed the slayer to her breaking point. And while I’d love nothing more than to drive her over the edge, I can take care of her later. Fact is, once I get Cordelia back her little gang will be so demoralized that it won’t take more than two minions and a stick to do away with them all.”

Since he was out of the immediate line of sight Spike felt safe in rolling his eyes at the unwarranted cockiness that oddly enough he hated in Angelus and yet nurtured in himself.

“Funny, I would have thought you’d be more concerned what with the word on the street being that they’re workin’ on shovin’ that tortured, slayer-lovin’ soul back inside you.”

Angelus growled at the mere thought of the atrocity he’d feared ever since he’d heard the rumors from one of his informants at Willie’s.

“It was a hoax. No worries on that front. Let’s face it; they’ve got themselves an authentic Kalderash gypsy. If there was a possible hope in hell of bringing the vomit worthy Angel back for an encore they would have done so long ago.”

“No, Spike; the only thing I have to concern myself with right now is getting the Council to take this relic off my hands so I don’t do something in my lunacy that we’ll all regret. So don’t look so worried, it’s not the end of the world…yet.”


Chapter Eighty Four

Usually the late morning would find the Master of the Order of Aurelius in bed, deep in the grips of an ever growing exhaustion. However, this morning found him not abed, but in his study; brandy in hand and joy lighting his handsome visage.

Angelus had never been a demon to doubt what he considered to be his superior intelligence, but to have it confirmed in the way it had been that morning transformed his generally smug personality to totally unbearable.

But as the morning passed his conceit had been validated as, one by one, things fell into to place to right the wrongs in his world.

He’d contacted the Watcher’s Council unsurprised at how the name Acathla opened the avenues of communication. Once they’d established that he did indeed possess the demon, those warriors of morality had fallen all over themselves to meet his needs.

On the one hand, Angelus could admit that he was beyond happy to know that Cordelia would be returned to him by the next evening. Just the knowledge of that fact soothed the ragged edges of his frayed mind.

Conversely, he was furious with those very same men delivering his pet back into his hands. Even though there was no disputing the fact that Cordelia belonged to him, the thought that those pathetic humans who had been entrusted with her protection would so easily bargain her away sent fury pounding through him in mimicry of a racing heartbeat. The need to destroy not only her pseudo-guardians, but those who foolishly thought that the Council was worthy of the honor of caring for his property burned through him, bleeding a haze of red into his gaze.

It was a frustrating dichotomy and so, since moving against the Council at this time would be ill-advised, he simply chose to embrace the delight that came with the painfully sweet anticipation of Cordelia back in his arms where it was her destiny to be.

Honestly, Angelus knew it was a good thing that they had enough sense to accurately assess the situation and comply with his wishes. No matter how he’d played things off with Spike, the truth was that he was fast losing his grasp on reality, and frankly he’d stopped trying to stem the receding tide of reason days before. He’d needed every advantage he could get to reclaim Cordelia and if that meant sacrificing the higher functions of his mind, so be it.

Normally he would never have considered awakening Acathla…well, he may have considered it, but not seriously. But he knew that if he couldn’t have Cordelia back then he’d wake the stony son of a bitch up without a second thought.

After all, since they’d taken Cordelia the world was hell for him; so why shouldn’t he return the favor.


Chapter Eighty Five

Matthew Worthington was a picture of righteous fury as he stormed into Quentin Traver’s office.

“Tell me it’s not true. Tell me that we’re not giving her back to that monster!”

The bland expression on the older man’s face never changed as if he’d been expecting the angry young man to make just such a scene.

“I’m sorry, Matthew; but if you’ve heard that she’s leaving I’m sure that you’ve heard why. We don’t have a choice.”

While he’d never really cared for Travers, at this moment he could only hate the man so blithely dismissing the future of the girl that he’d spent the last three days with – talking to, eating with, trying to ease, however slightly, the crushing burden she bore.

He had known that it wasn’t the smart thing to do, wasn’t in keeping with the Council’s credo of ‘Justice through indifference’, but he hadn’t been able to help himself. Every minute he was near Cordelia he grew more and more enamored of her strength of spirit, her will to survive.

No one had given her more than three days before they believed that the bond would break her down and steal away her life. Not only had she shown them all that they didn’t know anywhere near what they liked to think that they did; but she’d gone on, defying the odds by not just surviving but slowly returning to health in the past few days. He’d be damned if he’d see all of her excruciating efforts laid to waste by returning her to one of the most vial forms of evil the world had ever known.

“There’s always a choice.”

Quentin’s mouth quirked slightly as if he was amused by the younger man’s indignation. In a tone of clear condescension he addressed what he obviously perceived as naiveté.

“Try to remember, this isn’t about the girl; it never was. This was about weakening Angelus so that the slayer might actually kill him.”

There was no attempt to hide his disdain for the Chosen One.

“Unfortunately, all it’s managed to do is to make him more psychotic and unpredictable then before; and who could have foreseen that was even possible? It’s not an idle threat, you know. He’ll unleash Acathla.”

Deep down Matthew couldn’t disagree with that assessment, but for Cordelia’s sake he buried his doubts.

“No he won’t. Angelus might live through whatever horror Acathla would bring, but the suffering would be unimaginable, even for him.”

An abrupt snort answered what they both knew to be an untruth.

“He’s so obsessed with the girl that he’s sure his suffering can’t get any worse. He doesn’t believe that he has anything to lose, and there’s nothing more dangerous than that.”

Travers rubbed an angry hand over his head as he spoke to the only part of the current mess that truly concerned him.

“This wouldn’t even be happening if we could just find the new slayer. It’s been months since we lost Kendra in Indonesia, we should know something by now. It’s inconceivable that this is the second unidentified slayer called in the last decade.”

It was Matthew’s turn to smirk.

“Well maybe someone up there doesn’t like the way we’ve become the type of people who will deliver a young woman into a hands of a monster. Could be they’ve decided not to trust us with anymore.”

“Don’t take that moralistic tone with me.” The growl would have frightened many subordinates, but Matthew held his ground. “We don’t’ have a choice here. It’s one life for billions.”

“Wow. Isn’t that the rallying speech they give before throwing virgins in volcanoes?”

The futility of the entire confrontation apparent, Matthew made his way out of the stifling office without waiting for another feeble justification, simply desperate to get back to Cordelia; determined to do something for the girl who’d come to trust him.


Chapter Eighty Six

“Watcher.”

Even if he actually made it through an eternity Spike knew he would never get tired of being the thing that goes bump in the night and that first burst of fear it always drew forth even from hardened men like the one before him.

Of course, inducing fear, while fun, wasn’t the point of this particular visit.

Giles turned, keys still in hand, obviously irritated to once again not have made it through his front door unaccosted.

“Spike.”

If he didn’t have a job to do Spike would have chuckled at the man’s long suffering tone. He really couldn’t wait for Angelus to be out of the way so he could enjoy the small joys of the Hellmouth once again.

“We have a problem.”

“Only one? Well then, with the exception of your appearance this is officially the best day I’ve had all year.”

He hated finding common ground with the enemy so often lately, but Spike was all over relating to the watcher’s sarcastic summation of their crappy lives since Angelus showed up.

“Loose the attitude, mate. Angelus has made life a living hell for all of us but I’m the one who has to bloody well live with him, so if anyone gets to bitch and moan tonight it’ll be me.”

Which brought him ‘round to his original purpose.

“Speaking of ‘living hells’. Have you White Hats misplaced anything lately? Say something massive? Weighty? Able to swallow worlds in a single bound? What the hell is wrong with you people? You go to all the trouble to stop these demons then you just leave them lying around for anyone to find. How is it that you morons keep winning?”

“The missing obelisk from the museum?”

“One in the same. Only here’s the funny part – it’s not an obelisk. It’s a gift box chalked full of a larger than life Acathla action figure.”

He watched as Giles reared back, only sudden contact the door stopping his movement as he heard the demon’s name.

“Acathla? Good God, man; are you sure?”

A small, inappropriate laugh filled the air.

“Good – God – and Man. Three words that haven’t applied to me in over a century. And yes, unfortunately I’m all too sure what with having a ringside seat at the grand opening.”

For the first time in more years than he could count, the arrogance faded from his eyes leaving Spike carrying an aura of gravity that was so inherently foreign to his nature that, as he watched, it called forth a level of alarm in the man before him that no words could have.

“This is serious, Rupert. If anyone’s destiny is to wake this guy up and ruin things for the rest of us it’s sure to be Angelus’. And if anyone has enough screws lose to try it, again, my grandsire’s probably your guy.”

And just like that the moment of earnestness passed.

“Now don’t get me wrong; I like killin’ people as much as the next demon. But this Acathla bloke’s apparently worse than a vampire when it comes to sharin’ and there’s not gonna be anything left for the rest of us when he gets done.”

“Spike, are you asking me to help stop Acathla so you can kill us all instead?”

“Well…yeah. But look at the bright side, watcher; it’ll take me years to get to you all while tall, dark, and mineral will apparently swallow you up in one mouthful. So let me introduce myself – I am, what you’d politely call, the lesser of two evils.”

“So in the end I’m still left with nothing but evil. You should investigate a career in motivational speaking, Spike.”

The cigarette he’d lit while waiting for Giles had finally burned to the nub and Spike flicked it away carelessly in preparation to leave.

“Look, we could stand here all night trading jokes, but it would be a waste of time ‘cause you’re not funny. Here’s the deal – Angelus is planning to work whatever mojo he needs to wake up sleeping ugly tomorrow night. He’s worried about you guys catching wind of his plans so he’s holdin’ his little party about twenty miles north of the Hellmouth at the abandoned dairy off Highway 9.”

“If you guys want a chance at stopping him you need to be there before sundown. He’s still light on minions, and if you don’t royally fuck everything up I’ll step in and help should an opportune moment present itself.”

This time it’s was Giles’ laughter that shot out.

“So what you’re suggesting is that we not count on you for support.”

“I’m not suggesting it, I’m stating it outright. Unless it actually looks like you have a snowball’s chance in Acathla’s hell dimension of pulling this off then I’m not throwing myself under the bus with you. After all, you’re the one’s who get paid for the selfless act…although from the looks of your suit, not all that well.”

He came, he saw, he irritated the watcher; Spike was pretty sure that was it for his ‘to do’ list.

“Remember; tomorrow at sundown. Tell the slayer to be packing her balls in her pants and not her sticky panties. We need a fighter out there, not a lovesick teenager. She’s a killer and you’re not doing her any favors letting her believe otherwise. If her tragic romance gets us all sent to hell I’ll – ”

“You’ll what, Spike?!” Clearly the man had been pushed too far. “Believe me, if we fail and Acathla swallows the world the last thing I’ll care about is one, second rate vampire’s opinion of me as I die a fiery death. Now leave so I can call my slayer and tell her that tomorrow either the shell of the man she loved dies or the human race does instead.”

Spike watched, somewhat stunned, as Giles stormed into his apartment with no fear apparent whatsoever, despite having just antagonized a sadistic mass murder. He wanted to turn the man more every time he talked to him.

Deciding he’d been out long enough for one night he headed back to the mansion, careful to avoid the common hang outs of Angelus’ minions and informants. As he made his way home he was startled to realize that a part of him wished he could have told the watcher the truth. But when he’d overheard Angelus earlier in the day agreeing to trade Acathla for Cordelia the following night he knew what had to be done.

It would be different if the slayer had been able to face Angelus successfully on a regular basis. But really, except for rescuing the cheerleader, which took two tries, she hadn’t been able to do much of anything; not to stop his reign of terror, to halt his ascension to power, or to prevent him from gaining access to a demon that could end life as they knew it. No; no matter how formidable he knew this slayer to be, Angelus was her weakness and this was just too important to leave in her hands.

And so, knowing that tomorrow night the Council would bring Cordelia to the docks to make the trade for Acathla and ship him to their headquarters in England, he’d made sure to send the do-right brigade miles in the opposite direction.

While it was true that he wanted to be free of his grandsire, in fact no one could want his death more than he did, now just wasn’t the time to make that move. Too much was riding on this and Angelus, with his dwindling grasp on reality, had become far too unpredictable to challenge when the stakes were so high. If it took the return of the girl to give the older vampire back his sense of proportion then so be it. Because anyone who doubted that he wouldn’t destroy the world if this separation continued was drowning themselves in an ocean of denial.

It was funny; the watchers had hoards of information in their little diaries on Angelus and yet they seemed to understand nothing about him. They were blaming all of his current actions on the bond which it seemed they also misunderstood.

The bond between vampire and pet did tie the two together and it was difficult if it was prematurely severed, but while the vampire usually did suffer to a certain extent it passed in time and rarely impaired functioning to a detrimental level. It was the human who bore the brunt of the separation as their fragile bodies cracked under the mystical forces that were denied their appropriate outlet.

In fact, the bond, a foreign state forced upon the human, grew stronger for them over time. But for the vampire, who was used to acclimating to bonds as an innate part of their makeup, the compulsive pull waned over time as it did for all bonds, even sire-childe. Although the pull of such connections never truly disappeared, for a demon they grew more manageable with time.

Therefore, theoretically, Angelus should be able to handle this without the implosion he was experiencing, and if the watchers were even half as smart as they thought they were they would realize that this irrational and perilous behavior was due more to Angelus himself as opposed to just his bond with the girl.

While vampires were possessive by nature, Angelus was different; he was obsessive. And from what Spike had been told by Darla, he had been as a human, too.

When Darla had spoken of Angelus’ time as before being turned it had always been tales of a man so obsessed with his father’s love and approval, or lack thereof, that he had literally been killing himself through drinking and debauchery to prove to the man that he had no control over his son; forcing himself to become the embodiment of everything the man hated. It was a fixation that would follow him even into death.

Once, not long after Angelus had been cursed, Darla had told of how devastated he’d been to realize that by killing his father he’d lost the focus of his compulsive fascination and negated all opportunities to indulge in his obsession in any meaningful way. Hearing Angelus’ own rare but rambling recounting of his previous life only confirmed that the abrupt interruption of his plotting to punish his father until he won his love still bothered him deeply.

Which led to another misconception of vampires. Although this one seemed to be more on the part of the slayers than the watchers who, for obvious reasons, kept their little killing machines out of the loop on the particulars of their fated foe.

Demons had souls. That was obviously proven as in old times humans often dealt with many malevolent creatures by entrapping their souls in various containers.

When a vampire procreated it was no different than with any other living being – it created a new and unique life with its own distinctive soul. As the human died its soul was released. At that point the demon soul entered and animated the body. And there was the difference –

When a human was created it was a completely blank slate. It inhabited a body with no experiences, no information yet hardwired into its brain defining them except those of a genetic nature.

When a vampire was created it took over a body with a brain burned full of memories and years of defining events. So the new and impressionable soul was bombarded immediately with these previous occurrences and the feelings they evoked. Generally these feelings were so confusing and overwhelming, so at odds with a vampire’s basic nature that they generated nothing but hatred and disgust. That was why many new vampires returned to dispose of their friends and families – to eliminate what they saw as the cause of their emotional maelstrom. Every once in a while though, you’d find vampires who would turn certain members from the human’s past because the feelings generated by the memories concerning those particular humans gave them a sense that was inherently pleasing to their demonic temperament – power, control, lust. It was always a unique process decided by the melding of the new soul and the debris the soul so recently departed left behind.

So it was reasonable to assume that, since it was a given that Liam had been an obsessive jerk, he had undoubtedly left a plethora of memories defined by that characteristic. If the demon’s soul had also had such a bent the combining of the two would created an almost maniacal personality who would never cease to pursue whatever fascination had captured his undivided attention.

That was what was causing Angelus’ mind to dissolve into a stagnant pool of madness. The bond wasn’t helping, but even if there was no bond, if he’d wanted the cheerleader and they’d taken her he would still end up doing something monstrously stupid in his impotent fury…alright, maybe not something this mind numbingly idiotic, but he’d never let it go; he would pursue her until the very day she died. ‘Cause really, look what he’d done to Dru and there’d been no bond there.

It was this failure to understand the basic underworkings of the situation at hand that was going to get them all killed. So, despite the fact that he had no desire to either make Angelus happy or betray his little brunette quasi-friend, it really was the only avenue left to him under the circumstances.

But on a positive note he’d missed having the little firecracker around. It would certainly be no hardship having her back for however long it took for him to do away with his grandsire. And he would eventually destroy Angelus. Maybe it wouldn’t be as soon as he’d like, but it would come. He could wait; after all, he had nothing but time.
***

Closing the door behind him Giles bypassed his living room phone, which he knew was compromised, choosing instead the secure line hidden away in his bedroom. The now familiar fatigue filling him as he dialed the number he knew by heart.

“We have one less ally.”

Giles nodded his head in agreement with the obscenities coming through clearly from the other end.

“I’m not sure how much Angelus trusts him, but he was here tonight trying to convince me that the slayer and I needed to be miles away from the exchange point tomorrow night to stop the awakening.”

More outrage sounded in his ear.

“Of course he’s lying Matthew! I’m not a fool. The plan is still the same – the council brings Cordelia in by plane tomorrow at 2:00 and we make our stand at the airport before the night’s trade at the docks.”

While he understood the reasons behind the near frantic reiteration of the preparation by his friend, Giles found it irritating in the extreme.

“I don’t have the energy for this tonight. I appreciate that you care about Cordelia, but you’ve known her for a few weeks; so just think how much we must care about her having known her substantially longer. We know what has to be done, and you have my absolute promise, Matthew, no matter what the cost, we won’t fail Cordelia again.”

Hanging up the phone, Giles stretched out on his bed, too tired to even bother changing for sleep. Despite his impassioned words to his friend he too was worried. Not only had he been woefully unsuccessful in protecting the young woman from the greatest of fiends, but he’d only compounded his many errors by sending her to a bastion of moral bankruptcy that would sell out an innocent soul who’d done more to combat evil then they had collectively. It was such a continually painful admission that, much like his slayer, he was developing a mildly persistent numbness to simply keep functioning on a daily basis.

As those thoughts swirled around his brain Giles sighed, resigning himself to what was most likely going to be yet another night of minutes of sleep interspersed with hours of waking nightmares; and no matter how much he feared the coming confrontation and the epic consequences it would carry, tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.

Chapter 87

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