Rebecca Martin ignored the secretary’s protest and entered the large office. John looked up in surprise to see his younger sister standing in his office. “John, we have a problem.”
“What?” John asked nervously.
“”My blackbook,” she said, “it was stolen.”
John felt his heart catch in his throat. “W-what?” he stuttered.
“My home was broken into. My desk was ransacked and my blackbook is gone. John,” she choked, “all the names and codenames of the companies clients are in there. Even yours.”
John Martin leaned back in shock as he absorbed the news. His worst nightmare was coming true. If the information in that book were to become public, he could kiss re-election goodbye.
“Shit, John, if this becomes public, we’ll both go to jail.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” John snapped. “Then I guess we better make sure it doesn’t go public. Besides, I got a good idea on who might have it.” John pressed the button on the intercom. “Shirley? Call Reynolds. Tell him he’s going to have to add a second contingent to his plan.”
Cordelia hadn’t let go of the notebook since the mail had been delivered ten minutes ago. Finally, she thought, they got the big break. In her hands she held the Holy Grail to this case.
“Eww,” she moaned as she recognized one of the names.
“What is it?” Angel asked.
“John Martin is in here,” she said. At Angel’s confused look she went on. “SENATOR John Martin. Up for re-election this year. I was going to vote for the guy. To Hell with that, I’m going Independent now.” She ignored the look the vampire sent her way.
Shutting the book, she tossed it to Fred. “Now that we have this, we can contact people who have appointments in the near future.”
“And hopefully stop the next murder from occurring,” Wes added.
Fred’s eyes widen as she saw the number of names listed in the book. There had to be two hundred names at least in here. “I’ll start getting addresses,” she said going to the phone book.
The members of AI smiled for the first time in days. They were getting very close.
Things were just going from bad to worse, Reynolds decided. He did not want to be doing this. He was a man who actually had some morals. What he was being asked to do went against all of them.
But some things couldn’t be avoided.
The question was when to do it. It would have to be when the main crew was out of the hotel, leaving only the green Pylean refugee home. Reynolds didn’t think it would take much to disable him. After that, the rest of the job should be easy.
John seemed sure that the people at AI had the notebook, and Reynolds concurred with that. After knocking out the demon, it shouldn’t take long to find the notebook. Reynolds had no problem with this. It was part two of the plan that he didn’t like.
The goal was to make the vampire chase after something more important than some demon murderer. The vampire would have to devote his energies to finding his missing son.
Angel couldn’t shake off the nagging feeling he’d been having. The feeling had nothing to do with this stakeout, but it was…something else.
He’d read books and such about parenting. There had been stories where a parent would get this bad feeling that something was wrong with their child. Angel had thought the notion to be silly. But right now, he wasn’t sure. He felt he should check on Connor.
Angel, Fred, and Wes were set up in an empty apartment opposite one of a ‘Palace’ client. Gunn and Cordelia were staking another place across town. As much as Angel felt it his duty to stay, he just couldn’t shake this feeling.
“Will you guys be okay if I run back to the hotel real fast?” he asked his friends.
Wes lowered the binoculars he was using to look back at the vampire. “I suppose so. Why?”
“I dunno,” Angel said. “Paternal instinct thing. I need to check on Connor.”
“Well Angel, I’m sure that Lorne would call if something were wrong, but if you need too,” Wes said. Angel smiled at the watcher’s understanding. Clapping his friend on the shoulder, Angel headed downstairs to the convertible.
He was just being paranoid, Angel thought. Wes was right; if something were wrong Lorne would call on the cell phone. His worry was completely unsubstantiated. Right?
The green demon had been more trouble than he originally thought, but in the end, he’d knocked the creature out.
Reynolds searched the Hyperion’s offices a good thirty minutes before he finally found the notebook. With a slight grin, he tucked the notebook into his pant waist and headed up the stairs. Entering Connor’s room, he found the demon still unconscious on the floor. Just as he reached the crib, a voice from behind stopped him cold.
“I really wouldn’t touch him.”
Reynolds was out cold before he realized who it was.
Angelus had always been a master at torture. He had turned torture into an art form.
But having a soul really put a damper on that.
Not to say that Angel couldn’t be a royal bad ass when he wanted to be. He could. It was just the fact that killing would weigh on his conscience. But having a demon inside insured you could be evil when necessary.
But what Angel was doing to this man was hardly lethal. Unless of course he breathed at the wrong moment. And Angel really hoped that didn’t happen. Being breathless himself prevented the whole doing CPR thing.
“I’d start talking,” Angel said. “Because if you don’t, I might just see how long you can hold your breath.” When the man refused to respond, Angel lowered him headfirst into the bathtub. After a minute, Angel pulled on the rope and raised him back out. “Well?”
“Fuck you,” the man spat.
“Nothing’s ever easy around here,” Angel muttered. Angel tied the rope so the man was left hanging over the water. Disappearing for a minute, the vampire reappeared carrying something wrapped in cloth.
“When Cordy and I broke into ‘The Palace’ offices, I got a good look at some invoices.” Unwrapping the cloth, he revealed a cattle prod. “And I just said I have got to get me one of these. Just scream if I get the voltage too high.”
Cordelia clutched Connor closer as the first scream reverberated through the hotel. Normally she would strongly disapprove of Angel doing something so Angelus like. But not today. Trying to hurt her baby was simply unacceptable. She almost smiled at the sound of the second scream.
“Are you sure we should allow Angel to be doing this?” Wes asked her.
“That man tried to hurt Connor.” The tone in her voice left no room for argument. Wesley wasn’t stupid. You do not mess with a pissed off mother.
The screams continued for several more minutes. The gang watched as Angel carried the man over his shoulder down the stairs. Angel dropped the man unceremoniously on a couch in the lobby.
Cordelia glared at the man who tried to hurt her baby. As much as she would like to play with the cattle prod, she knew that such action would be pointless now. Evidently the man had decided to talk, and she wouldn’t risk changing his mind.
“What’s your name?” Angel asked.
The man glared at Angel a moment before answering. “Peter Reynolds.”
“Who do you work for?”
Reynolds smirked a bit. “The Powers That Be.”
John Martin was sore from his latest ‘session’ with Lilith. He knew fully well he was a sick man for enjoying this. And this little fetish of his might be the cause of his ruination.
Rubbing his sore wrists, he entered his office and checked his answering machine. No word from Reynolds yet. Glancing at the clock he saw it was well past two in the morning. Perhaps he’d wait to call in the morning. There was no reason to worry.
Sitting gingerly in his plush leather chair, Martin wondered when things became so complicated. His sister had always known of his particular sexual preferences. Hell, she shared most of them. Otherwise she wouldn’t be running ‘The Palace’.
But one visit his sister told him of a new arrival. She called herself Lilith. Only much later would he learn how appropriate the name was. John sometimes wondered why she never killed him like the others. He liked to believe it was because she cared for him. But more likely it was the protection he could give her.
His Lilith had a mean streak matched only by her hunger for survival. As much as she killed for the pleasure of hurting tortured souls, she did it for a much more primal purpose as well.
And he wondered when Lilith would decide she didn’t need him anymore.
“She’s not of this world,” Reynolds explained. “This is a creature straight from the depths of Hell. The victims she chooses, they aren’t random, you understand that?”
Most everyone but Angel was confused. He had seen the similarities in the files. “All of them were alone,” he said sadly. “No families. Some divorced, some widowed. They had all been hurt at some point. She feeds on that.”
“Psychologically, yes” Reynolds agreed. “But she needs them for something more. Something far more basic. They have something she needs.”