Chapter 1: Apprehension
“Please remain seated until the seatbelt sign has been switched off. We thank you for flying British Airways and we hope you enjoy your stay.”
Buffy sighed as the plane came to a stop at the terminal and the crew began preparing for dis-embarkment, zoning out as the flight attendant finished her little speech. She hadn’t thought she would find herself here, especially not now. The bright sun shone through the porthole windows of the aircraft, promising a beautiful day in Southern California.
They have sun back home as well…
She rolled her eyes.
Okay… so maybe not much, but it’s not that long a trip over to Rome.
Unfastening her seatbelt she stood up and began gathering her belongings from the overhead locker. A small carry bag contained her required clothing for the few days she would be in town, toiletries, and some paperwork that she hoped to get through during her down time.
This was a pretty simple mission, something that she would not normally have bothered dealing with personally. In fact she had at first outright refused to accept when Giles had informed her of the location. LA meant Angel and she really did not want to deal with him right now.
He was not the same person she knew anymore. He’s not a person… a little voice in her head pointed out.
The Angel she knew would not have taken the keys to a multi-national corporation, that’s function was to aid the seedy LA underbelly, both human and not, in dealing with their legal issues. The Angel she knew, fought for the little people, he helped the helpless.
This new Angel was CEO of the LA branch of Wolfram and Hart. His clients consisted of the vampires, demons and every day bad guys, which Buffy fought to stop. So seeing Angel right now, not high on her list of happy things to do. This transformation was also something that Giles was not too impressed with either.
Had the case been of another nature they might have just left it to deal with by Angel and his multi million-dollar corporation. But this involved one of their own.
One they had not expected.
Ever since that spell of Willow’s on the Hellmouth the old gang had been rounding up the newly called slayers and bringing them back to London where the Watchers Council was slowly being rebuilt. With Giles at the head of command things were operating in a completely different manner to which things used to be run.
The first call of business had been to set up the New Watchers Council headquarters. Giles had deemed it necessary to have housing for the girls, so the offices themselves were a part of an old Catholic School that had been left to disrepair. With Xander’s knowledge and expertise, the school had been renovated, with separate wings for the offices, training areas and dormitories. The central feature, which happened to be Giles’ pride and joy, was the new library.
The girls were assigned rooms and duties to complete alongside their training and schooling. Giles was determined that the girls receive a proper education alongside their slayer education. So all of the girls had to complete their A Levels according to the British Schooling system. This also gave the school an acceptable cover. It was a select, private school for girls.
Families were no longer shut out of the equation. With Willow’s help they were bringing more and more girls to the school each week. Whilst they did take the girls away from their families, the lines of contact were kept open. The school even had a small wing kept aside for when family members dropped by.
While the girls were ‘outed’ to their families, slaying itself was still kept as secretive as possible. Therefore the weapons storage was kept concealed from prying eyes, including most of the girls. With state of the art surveillance and a glamour spell by Willow, the location was kept hidden. Any weapons that were needed for training purposes were retrieved by the instructors.
As the number of girls had amassed it had become apparent that more Watchers were going to be required. Andrew and Robin Wood were currently completing their training. The Council Operatives and Watchers who survived the explosion of the old building joined the two of them. Along with those that had escaped death at the hand of the bringers, they were now well on the way to rebuilding the Council.
A passenger behind Buffy bumped her with their bag, waking her from her reverie. Walking swiftly down the aisle she quickly left the plane and moved through the gangway and into the terminal, breathing a sigh of relief when she pushed out from the crowd exiting the aircraft, and into the mass of people wandering through LAX.
This should be fun… she thought wryly.
Adjusting her watch from London time to LA she caught a glimpse of the scarring on the underside of her left palm. Her shoulders tensed as the memories flooded back, flashing through her mind. She closed her eyes, allowing herself five seconds to let them wash over her before clearing her mind. She opened her eyes again, only to look immediately at her hand again. She reached with her right, running her fingers over the scarred flesh, the sensation causing shivers to roll up her spine.
Pushing the thoughts and feelings away, she continued her hurried movement through the airport. Now was not the time to get distracted.
Now if only she could find the…
Spinning around at the sound of her name Buffy found herself looking down on a black suited, short, portly, dark haired yet balding man whom she estimated to be in his mid 40’s, holding a cardboard sign with her name printed neatly on it.
“I didn’t think it was possible for someone to be shorter than me,” she commented with a half smile.
The small man smiled brightly, extending a hand towards her. “Jacob Morton. I’m to be your driver during your stay in LA.”
“Yes Miss,” Jacob acknowledged with a nod. “Mr Angel has requested that I take you back to the firm immediately for a debriefing. After that I will be driving you to your accommodation for the duration of your stay.”
“Oh he did, did he?” Buffy muttered under her breath, before continuing a little louder. “Thank you Mr Morton.”
“Oh please, call me Morty. Or Jacob if you’d prefer. Everyone knows me as Morty.” A broad smile stretched across his weathered face. “Mr Morton makes me feel like and old man.”
Buffy smiled. “Morty it is then. Shall we?”
“Of course. Do you have any baggage for collection?” he asked politely.
Buffy lifted her duffel in show. “This is it.”
“Please I insist,” he asked as he took the bag from her. “Now follow me.”
Buffy followed Morty through the throngs of people and out towards the taxi strip, leading her towards a limousine. Angel seems to take advantage of the perks of his job… she thought with an appraising look.
“Mr Angel has demanded only the best shall be at your dismissal Miss Summers,” Morty explained when he caught her surprise stare.
“Please Morty, call me Buffy.”
Her duffel was stowed in the trunk of the limousine before Morty opened a door and helped her inside. Moments later the car pulled away from the curb and Buffy was on her way to Wolfram and Hart.
Spike paced across the small expanse of the excuse for a dwelling and retrieved the bottle of whiskey from the counter-top. He was sore from his three-storey fall care of his little encounter with Little Miss Chops-A-Lot last night. But mostly it was just his ego that was suffering.
He took a deep swig from the bottle, the amber liquid burning a trail down his throat before settling warmly in his stomach.
“You should have waited,” Angel mumbled.
“Hey, keep your knickers on. Least now I know what we’re dealing with. It’s a Chinese demon. Maybe a water dragon, or one of those elemental thingies.”
How wrong had he been?
The girl wasn’t possessed by a demon, she was a vampire slayer. A psychotic vampire slayer at that.
After Angel had filled him in on that little titbit he had shot right out of there. Spike, William the Bloody, The Big Bad, had run at the mention of the word slayer.
Cursing his reaction to Angel’s bombshell, he drank another deep swig of the liquor, revelling in the fact that he was getting good and proper sloshed.
All someone had to do was mention that word, slayer, and he was lost, drowning in long past memories. Not of the two he had killed, not that they weren’t memorable, but that wasn’t what he was lost to right now. Memories of golden hair, sun kissed skin, those big beautiful eyes, and the fist that would accompany anytime he had dared to stare longer than permitted.
No. He was dreaming of his slayer. The woman he had sacrificed his life for, the woman he loved with every fibre of his being.
Except she wasn’t exactly his, she wasn’t ever really his.
A fist balled and before he even realized what he was doing it was sailing towards the wall beside him. Bone connected with brick and his knuckles split open, blood running down his fingers before dripping to the floor. That’s gonna stain…
It hurt but he revelled in the pain, pouring some of the whiskey on it to further exacerbate it. The stinging sensation soon faded however and all he was left with was split knuckles, blood and whiskey stained carpet, and the beginnings of a tremendous hangover.
Not a man to ever leave a job half done, he guzzled more of the alcoholic beverage until he was suitably lacquered.
Collapsing onto the worn old sofa clutching at his half empty bottle Spike let the memories wash over him. The feel of her lips grazing his skin, the glide of her sweat drenched skin as it slid over his, the way her hair bounced when she rode him into oblivion. It haunted him…she haunted him.
He remembered their battles, the way she moved with the grace of a panther when she was pounding her fists into him, the way she quipped in the face of certain death yet somehow managed to surpass it.
And he remembered her kindness, how she had rescued him from the minions of the first, how she had taken care of him when the chip threatened to fry his brain, and how she had clutched to his hand, not wanting to let him go when the Hellmouth was caving in upon them.
That last thought jarred him from his daydreaming, and he lifted his right hand, staring at the scar that marred his hand.
As a vampire there were seldom few wounds that were inflicted upon him that didn’t heal completely. The scarring on his hand was one of them. He wondered if it had something to do with the fact that when he had been brought back to like, he had been incorporeal. So with no actual physical body, he had none of his vampiric healing abilities. But it was just a thought, a possibility. It was not something he had shared.
Fred had noticed it on one of his many hauntings of her, before he become corporeal. She had offered to cook up a treatment to remove the scarring once he became solid again, but he had flatly refused. It was the only tangible proof of her that he had, and he wasn’t going to get rid of it for the un-life of him.
“Buffy…” he murmured as he let himself become lost in dreams of his Goldilocks.
Angel paced the length of his office as he waited for news of her arrival, not exactly sure what to expect. She was here in LA. Buffy… was in LA. And he was nervous.
They hadn’t spoken since that night in Sunnydale, a day before the Hellmouth literally ate the town. The reunion had been brief but reminiscent of their past. When she had kissed him he had been surprised, but secretly pleased. His feelings for her may have dampened but they had in no way extinguished. Buffy was still the most incredible woman he had ever met.
And she was here.
“Angel, I have Mr Morton on line two for you.”
Startled by the intrusion into his thoughts by Harmony’s voice, Angel moved over to his desk and pressed the intercom button on the telephone. “Thanks.”
Picking up the receiver he pressed on line two. “This is Angel.”
The cheerful voice of the driver responded, alerting Angel of their progress. “Mr Angel, it’s Morty. Just ringing to inform you that I have Miss Summers, and we are on our way to the office as requested.”
“Thank you, Morty.” Angel replied quickly. With that he replaced the receiver in its cradle, ending the call.
She was on her way.