Mercenary Hearts 11

Part 11

Giles’ Home (Sat Night)

It was still relatively early after Giles’ unexpected meeting with the vampires, so after dropping Buffy off at the gates of Restfield Cemetery, as she’d wanted to ‘run off’ excess energy, he continued on to take Xander home.

Giles then considered all the literature he might need that night, so decided to pop back to the library to pick up one of his books. After the information gleaned from tonight’s unexpected meeting, he felt the ‘Vampyre’ volume could come in handy for his planned research.

Finding Ms. Carling hovering outside his office when he arrived wasn’t really that big of a surprise. For several weeks now, she’d made apparent her concern over his seeming favoritism of a certain group of students. Giles had managed to fob her off by implying the group had ‘special needs’. That ploy had worked for a short while.

Unfortunately Ms. Carling had made it her business to check up on Buffy and the rest of their group via the University Administration, and last night she’d brought up Xander and Oz. How he should have been more than aware that non-students were not allowed in the University Library- stating rather snottily that she was sure there were public community buildings that would suit the ‘special needs’ the two young men had.

After saying that with much thought- and the not-so veiled threat of going over his head, Giles had decided to move the weapons as soon as the woman finished her shift early next morning.  In the meantime he intended to find out as much as he could about the newly arrived vampires. That is, if there was any information to find.

Although he kept a portion of his own books in the Library Office under lock and key, along with the well-hidden cache of weapons (the office of Head Librarian was most generous in size), the majority were tucked away at home, especially his treasured Watcher’s Diaries.

With half a dozen books to one side, one open in front of him at the kitchen breakfast bar, and a few dozen stacked on his other side. Above the opened one was a notepad, its pages half covered with his elegant hand writing. The smaller stack had post-it notes sticking out of various pages.

As he continued through the books, making notes and adding more sticky notes, his eyes gradually grew wider with wonder. 

My Good God. Is it possible?

By the time he’d closed the last book, He knew exactly who the two vampires were.

Leaping to his feet, he headed for the small telephone table near the front door. Rifling through the drawer, he pushed aside the CA Yellow Pages, and grabbed his address book. Within seconds, he’d found the number he was looking for and dialed.

“Good Evening- um Afternoon, sorry. This is Rupert Giles… Well, not exactly former, no. Is it possible to speak to Wesley Wyndham Pryce, if he is about?  He is? Excellent. Yes, thank you. I’ll wait.”

*****

University/Giles’ Home. (Sun.)

Shortly after 6am- several journeys and an aching back later, he’d succeeded in moving all the weapons as well as many armfuls of books.  The empty cupboard space left more than enough room to put the few he’d left behind back under lock and key. No one could tell him what reading material he could keep in his own office.

Giles had seen Buffy at lunchtime, when she popped by to see what he was up to. He’d taken the opportunity to request she contact the others of the night’s change in venue . His young charge hadn’t asked why, which was a relief as he hadn’t quite worked out what to say at that time.

But he was prepared when they all arrived.

****

“Thank you all for coming.” Giles began. “I realize that my home isn’t exactly as spacious for group meetings, but after much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that the University Library is not the best place for our, um, kind of study material.”

Reaching deep for a light-hearted smile he added that all future group meetings would be held at his house.

Buffy asked, “Why the sudden change? We haven’t caused any trouble there, have we?”

“Not yet, no”. Giles let out a tired breath. The vast amount of research he’d accomplished in one night had been more than a little detrimental to his health. Not helped by having to lug heavy weaponry to and from his car. I’m getting too old for this gig.

“But unlike Sunnydale High, the University Library, which is a separate building, caters to students literally 24/7. Remember, they have quite a large on-site campus.”

Taking a breath, Giles carefully made his most valid point. “Not to forget that both Xander and Oz are not students. Sadly, it isn’t a public library.”

Realization showed in their expressions. “I bet that Mzzz Carlson snitched on us,” fumed Xander. At the instant shake of Giles’ head, he calmed, but not before adding, “Have you guys noticed how close together her eyes are? You know what they say about that!”

“What do they say?” Buffy had to ask.

“Let’s not waste precious time on perceived slights,” Giles interrupted. “I have quite a few revelations to make tonight.”

Relieved when they found seats and settled in, Giles prepped his notes and began.

“After overhearing the name of one of the vampires last night- and the reference to my, um, position,” he stated delicately, “as well the etching found earlier on the broadsword, I spent inordinate amounts of time gathering information.” He glanced up from the notes, ensuring they were listening.

“The Watcher’s Diaries were, as I hoped, an enormous help”.

“You’ve found out who they are?” Buffy grinned pleased, adding: “even Willie didn’t know their names.”

“Yes, I have.” Giles replied rather smugly. “I’ll begin with the leader.” He cleared his throat in preparation for what was going to be a long dissertation.

“According to the Watchers Council Records, his name is Angelus. The choice of name was given to him by his female sire, which translated as ‘Face of an Angel’.” Not expecting a response, he expressed mild annoyance when Cordy interrupted with, “Can’t disagree with that.” A slight flush crept along her high cheekbones. Buffy snorted out an instant denial.

He continued on doggedly, hoping his irritation was picked up by them all. “It says he was turned in the mid eighteenth century- around 1750-”

“Go me!” Buffy grinned. “I knew he was old! … Oh, carry on,” she insisted hastily when seeing her Watcher’s pained expression.

Xander, leaning forward in his seat spoke even as Giles again opened his mouth. “Hold on a minute, G-man. I’m confused,” pointedly ignoring Cordy’s snigger, he went on. “You said 1750. That would be 17th century, right?”

Giles removed his glasses with a resigned sigh and looked over: “The Eighteenth Century begins on the First of January 1701 – and ends the thirty first of December 1800,” he deadpanned.

“But why? It doesn’t make any sense. Guys?” He glanced towards the others. Willow averted her eyes. Buffy shot him a shushing look, sharply inclining her head towards Giles, which had him about to point out that she’d started it. When she instantly raised a single brow his mouth sulkily slammed shut.

“Can we please leave that particular discussion for another time, Xander?” Giles asked wearily. “I have a lot of information to wade through at present.” Xander shrugged a shoulder and sat back in his seat.

“Angelus would have possibly been around his mid to late twenties before the event. I could find no clear record of his exact age,” Giles admitted.

“So that makes him about…” Buffy scrunched her face, mentally calculating.

Willow jumped in: “235, or pretty close to that.” She thought a bit. “And that’s just in vampy years! If you added his human age, he’d nearer to 260 years, or just over. Wowsa!”

“So, not a ‘Dead boy’ then, Xan.” Cordy grinned at him. “More like a Dead Fossil,” adding with an ‘eww’, thinking maybe it was good to think like that, considering her earlier response to his nearness.

“Nah, The Master was a true fossil.” As soon as the words popped out, Xander mentally kicked himself. Way to go, idiot! Bringing up the very vamp that had killed Buffy right in front of her. Fair enough, he himself had managed to bring her back to life with CPR… but still felt the need to glance her way in silent apology. She just shrugged it off with a soft ‘I’m okay,’ smile.

“Although silence would have been much more appropriate,” a stern look at each of their faces, “Xander has inadvertently pointed towards my next revelation.” Xander let out a smug grin, suddenly proud of himself.

“In spite of recognizing and being rather appreciative of just how purely evil Angelus was, The Master reportedly had a great dislike of him.” He briefly glanced through the second page of his notes before continuing.

“Angelus was soon dubbed The Scourge of Europe, earning notoriety for being one of the most sadistic and brutal vampires in history.”

“I don’t get it,” Buffy frowned.  “If he’s that big of a bad, why is everyone still alive?” Not counting herself in the imagined dead list. After all, she was the Slayer.

“I’ll get to that in a moment,” he raised a brow. Buffy pulled an imaginary zip across her mouth.

 “Where was I?”

“Scourge of Europe,” Oz offered helpfully.

“Thank you, Oz. We’ll move onto the other vampire shortly, but first a little back story.” Giles rifled through the Diary in front of him and pulled out a couple of card-like objects.

Cordelia muttered in a low voice to Tara: “First? That’s all he’s been doing, sheesh!” Tara stifled a smile. Regardless of the snippy comments made through Mr Giles’ lecture, there was no doubt everyone was enthralled- and more than a little unsettled.

“Briefly, Angelus soon sired his first childe around 1860. A young woman – late teens, I’d say. She particularly fascinated him due to her also having the ‘sight’.” He ignored the sudden waving of hands in the air.

Clarifying, “Precognition.” Only two of the six pairs of eyes staring at him showed confusion. Not a bad percentage ratio, Giles thought, before continuing. “This ability is not as rare as you’d think, but not something many would want to publicly admit to. Especially up to and including the early nineteenth century, 1800’s,” he added for Xander’s benefit.

“In those days, ignorance was rife, and thus, the mentally afflicted were frequently burned at the stake as either witches, or with the fear that they had been possessed by the devil.”

Their faces reflected their horror at his awful revelations. “So it is easy to imagine the secrecy of anything truly supranatural.”

After first stalking, and then ramping up his game by killing her family while she was forced to watch, the girl quickly fled to the nearest convent. Not deterred, Angelus, accompanied by his sire, Darla, breached the holy building.

“The pair massacred everyone before committing, um, indecent and brutal acts against her.” The others watched in fascination as Giles’ cheeks pinked. “Suffice to say, he had managed to drive Drusilla to complete madness before turning her.”

“Drusilla?” Another name Buffy recognized. “That bitch was totally whacked.” Was it sick that she felt a little sorry for her now? No matter. It wouldn’t stop her from dusting her ass if ever the chance arose. “I mean, look at the guy she brought with her! All slimy antlers and stuff,” she made a gagging noise.

“Ah, yes, the Chaos Demon. Rather an unpleasant creature, but not that much of a threat as I recall,” Giles reminisced. “Seemed rather dense, too”.

“Looked like Vampirella thought so too, at the end. Slashed him from horn to horn right after we blew up The Judge.” Quite a few ‘ewws’ were heard after Buffy’s graphic comment.

Giles deftly slipped into the short silence to continue. “A lot of research was done at the time regarding Drusilla and her connections- which now will bring me to my pièce de résistance.” He held up a pair of cards in his hand.

“These were the first publicly available photographic processes. They were widely introduced in 1839- Daguerreotypes, named after the Inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.” He paused on noting the glazed expressions forming on the group’s faces, and simply handed them over to the nearest person.

“If you could, please pass them around. These two particular Daguerreotypes are the only true images of Angelus and Spike,” he explained, “so do be careful handling them” staring under lowered brows at Xander’s too tight grip. With an exaggerated gulp, the young man made a big show of gently holding the edges and passing them on.

On looking at the old photo, Cordy had to admit that it didn’t do Angelus justice. Just look at that hair for a start.  Compared to how he looked now – Can I just say hubba hubba?

His eyes were completely different too. The image had captured a cold, cruel expression all too well. She shuddered and quickly passed them over to Tara. Thinking on how his eyes looked now soon melted the ice that had briefly formed in her veins.

“And now, on to his companion, who was turned around 1880: William the Bloody.”

“I thought you said his name was Spike?” A confused expression clouded Willows green eyes.

“He was formerly known as William the Bloody, and earned his new nickname later on. He acquired a habit of torturing his victims with railway spikes, “

“Gross!” Cordy scrunched up her face in disgust. “I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever eat again after tonight’s puke-fest.” Both Tara and Willow nodded in agreement. Xander just shrugged. Nothing put him of his food.

“I thought Angelus was the bad-ass,” Oz remarked.

“That he was” Giles agreed. “Reportedly, Spike was more about youthful rebellion – and most likely, drawn to more heinous acts by his desire to carve out his own reputation. Angelus was, I imagine, an extremely hard act to follow.”

Everyone wholeheartedly agreed with Giles’ next suggestion of a ‘little break’ and Xander immediately got up to join Cordy and Tara when they’d suggested popping out to grab pizza and sodas.

In response to Cordy’s dubious expression, he explained that he wanted to make sure that not only did they get the right toppings, but that they also brought enough to feed an army.

Giles took advantage of the break to carefully store away his precious Daguerreotypes, and to double check the notes he’d made during his second phone conversation due to Wesley calling back after doing a little research of his own.

****

Crawford Street Mansion (Sun Afternoon)

Spike half listened to the phone conversation Angel was having with their current employers. He was determined to ignore the self-inflicted hangover pain after another morning of heavy drinking. 

Not like there’s anything else to do in this depressing dump, he thought morosely. It didn’t affect his ability to kick ass, anyway. That only happened when he had access to a hell of a lot more booze than this place stocked.

A grin lifted his lips on hearing Angel’s cold demand of a payment recalculation. Too bloody right. BoGoF wasn’t in the contract. A wider, satisfied smile spread across his lean face on hearing it confirmed.

Angel paced in wide circles as he spoke. It would have been funny to see him try that with a corded phone. Spike was kind of glad when he finally wandered out of the room, still talking away. The noise of their yacking was beginning to bother him. Pain pounded away like a hundred jack hammers had taken up residence in his skull.

For a brief moment, self-pity flared, and then dwindled just as fast.  Ah, fuck it. Embrace the pain. Was worth it when considering it gave him a break from total boredom. And his shitty memories.

Stuck in this God-forsaken town didn’t help. In normal circumstances, they’d come in, do the job and leave the same night. Then a call would be made to notify whoever they were working for to update and ensure that the rest of their fee was paid in full. But this job had a toxic feel to it.

Something big was going on – and they deserved to know what it was.  Before, rather than after any kind of shit hit the proverbial fan. Everything the fancy Law Firm knew of this now-apparent gathering of the Shousace, for a start.

Spike’s thoughts lingered, almost longingly on just how easy it would be to simply cut and run. To leave the slayer and her human sidekicks to deal with it.  Angel reappeared with the phone still stuck on his ear, and the temporary quiet spell was shattered. Sometimes it was a real bitch being unable to tune out of both sides in a phone call.

 Coming to a standstill besides the imposing fireplace, Angel absently kicked a loose cinder into the dirty grate as he concentrated on the voice at the other end. From the whiny sound the guy was making, it was hard for Spike to tell who the Boss was: the employers, or Angel.

The call ended and Angel dropped gracefully onto the large brocade couch. Long heavily muscled legs stretched out as he leaned into the cushioned back. The epitome of casual. Unless, that is, you took the time to look into his shadowed eyes.

“So, what’s the plan? Do we carry on with the job, or get the hell outta dodge?” The new financial agreement was pretty tasty, but Spike wondered if it was worth it if the whole thing could turn into a major clusterfuck. What was the use of money when you were dead- or really dead, in their case?

They’d already accrued enough to live a pretty long unlife. By the time they’d even need to think of working again, those particular employers would hopefully be piles of dust in their graves. And no one would be around to remember they’d jacked this job in.

After a drawn-out silence, Angel finally responded. Said it wasn’t going to be easy- way too many variables. But for now, he was still willing to see the job through. Angel unnecessarily pointed out that it wasn’t just his decision.

It had always been both or neither when it came to work. Spike asked for all the details.

Afterwards, with a bit of thought, he’d decide whether they should be in or out.

PART 12

Posted in TBC

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