We walk in silence up to the room we share, the bigger picture seems to be coming together but the smaller details are falling apart. Xander reaches past me to open the door for me and as I walk in I'm aware he's not looking me in the eyes.
I take off the light jacket I'd been wearing on the recon tour and hang it on the back of one of the chairs.
"So what was that all about?" I ask, looking up at him.
Was bloody surprised to see a semi-thought out plan from the Ponce, but I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Still, need to gather everyone. Weed out the unwanted and keep the strongest. I walk up to my boy.
"Gather everyone. There's goin' to be a fight," I say, smiling.
Ethan has been sleeping fitfully for several days now. The power backlash from the spell has really done a number on him. I can sense his own chaotic magicks struggling to break free, to add to the madness.
I risk leaving him as he calms down into a more peaceful sleep.
I quietly slip out of the room and carefully close the door so as not to wake him. I sigh as the latch soundlessly moves into place. Turning, I release a most unmanly scream upon finding someone standing less than a foot from me.
Angel... and he's smirking.
Glaring at the vampire, I demand, "Angel, what do you want?"
I've been resting today, after a hard day's patrolling yesterday. I'm hopinh to speak to Giles and Xander later about getting some more Slayers on the team. That's long overdue. We have good people here, powerful people... but the numbers we have, compared to what Drusilla can field, we're a joke. A bit player in this game, and we can't afford to be that. Because I've not lost sight of the fact that when we've dealt with this new power - if we deal with it - there's going to be a reckoning amongst those that are left.
For now, I'm in the mood for some training. I shower, dress and go downstairs, grab a glass of blood from the 'fridge, and head down to the basement. Illyria is already there, and spins round to face me as I push the door open. Good. I could do with a good, strong, sparring partner right now. She has... some sort of air about her just now... despite myself I bow slightly in her presence.
"Illyria. Good to see you, your... godlikeness."
To do this in Rupert’s room seems odd. This is powerful magicks and to be cast in the dreary remains of a second rate hotel. It’ll have to do. Her magnificence stands between Rupert and I. The Freudian equalizer, the oddly shaped gun, rests firmly in Rupert’s capable hands. I can feel the energies captive inside and wonder if he can sense them as well. He used to be able to feel such things. She will be nearly unstoppable… nearly. I can’t help my sly grin as my hand in my pocket crushes the small vile of oils and natural essences, seeping within, burning into the skin of my palm, unseen by my companions. This ought to be fun.
“Just like old times, Ripper, my boy.”
He isn’t as amused as I am as my palm slips free from my jeans pocket and reaches out to press against the Old One’s chest. To my surprise, she watches unconcerned as I place my hand between her shapely armor shielded bosoms. I flash a grin to Ripper as I begin the spell. Within seconds, my hand begins to crackle and glow. I can only hope she doesn’t prevent the energies penetration. They will be the only thing keeping her, as well as everyone on the bloody continent, from oblivion.
“When you’re ready, luv.” I direct Rupert and hear the gun activate as he raises the barrel and takes aim at Illyria. I ready myself for the pain I know will come with the assault of powers returning to their host. I have no doubts this will hurt. But I'm always in search of new forms of pain, all tastes of pleasure.
Not long now. We're all fighting fit, ready for battle. Vi seems to be getting back into shape after her ordeal, and Nhamo Harris looks like she's a real firecracker. Hoping to talk to Giles soon about getting some more Slayers on the team. There's a real sense of expectation at the Hype, people are itching to actually get moving. No-one more so than me.
First, I need another talk with the other half of our dubious alliance - my disreputable family. My bike roars its way along the empty roads between the Hype and Dru's mansion in the Hollywood Hills. Not too many Oriki around these parts. Between our patrols and the vampires' nightly prowlings, we seem to have these areas more or less under control. If you count an area being overrun with bloodsucking fiends as 'under control'.
I arrive at the mansion, the sound of the engines announcing my arrival. I park the bike and walk through the front door. A few vamps wandering around, and I ask after the mistress of the house and her childer. One of them absently points me towards the garden, and I head through the kitchen and the family room and through the sliding glass door to the garden.
Garrison is there, sparring with a tall redhead female vamp. She has good moves, but Garrison is stronger and quicker now, and a few seconds after my arrival he tosses her over his shoulder into the pool. As she pulls herself out, cursing, Garrison, senseing my presence, turns round.
"Nice moves." I say.
I wake slowly, aware that someone else is in the room but I’m not worried. Somehow I know I’m safe, maybe not for long, but right now, right here, nothing can get to me. Maybe that’s why I’m happy to stay like this, half-asleep. Maybe I know that as soon as I wake up I’ll have to face the real dangers of the world again.
And just like that I’m fully awake. Damn. I sit up, ignoring my protesting muscles, and stretch out slowly. Nhamo, or whatever it is that’s doing such a great job of pretending to be her, is sitting cross-legged on the bed surrounded by books and papers. She’s chewing a pencil as she leafs through them and taking notes in that strange handwriting of hers.
“Morning. How long was I asleep for?”
It was nice, just being in his arms… dozing off into dreams of better days. At times I feel I could stay that way forever.
My cycle putters as I lean through turns, the tire skidding across the loose gravel of broken pavement. I pull it out, enjoying the chaos texture beneath me. We used to do this together, Ripper and I. We will again.
I pull the cycle into the shadows and park it beside a dumpster, whispering a barrier enchantment to keep it from being nicked.
Too much messing about my mind with my Rupert needing help and my beautiful flat mate ill. For once in my life, a shimmering moment in which I could capture Rupert’s gratitude and I hesitate.
This Old One, blue bird… not sure it’s a right choice, giving back her talons. What assurance have we that she’ll play the cards we deal her? I need to find a way to keep her in line, if such a thing is even possible.
But my thoughts shift to Lilah. She might need a hand so I teleport to her floor but decide to give her some privacy, knocking before entering.
"So explain to me once more, you came here because..."
I sigh and look around, I always knew this was going to be difficult but I never realised before how annoying bureaucrats could be. It's taken me nearly a month to get this far, sneaking back into the apartment complex in Gweru, getting my passport and documents and getting on a flight bound for the States.
I could have made this easy for myself, I could have used my contacts at the Embassy, or even called on the new Council to aid me, but the thought of being beholden to anyone - let alone them - makes my skin crawl.
"As I've said, I'm here visiting friends."
"So how come no one came to meet you?"
"Because I was planning to surprise them." I've had enough of this, "Look, you have all my documents, you've confirmed they're valid so why is this a problem?"
"Well, the thing is..."
I roll my eyes a little as this little man explains the new regulations for letting foreign nationals into the country. This would have been so much simpler if I'd just bought a return ticket.
"Look." He looks upset by the interruption but I really don't care. "I don't know why he's not answered his cell phone, maybe he's lost it or something. Why don't I call the place he's staying?" I was hoping to avoid that since I know the customs officials will be listening in to anything I say. If I could guarantee who would pick up it wouldn't be a problem but since I can't all I can do is hope nothing incriminating is said.
The petty little man nods and asks for the number, seemingly he doesn't trust me to dial it by myself. His eyebrows shoot up as he sees it's an LA number but I just smile sweetly at him. He shrugs and dials, handing me the receiver.
I listen as the connection is made, please let Xander be there
Everyday my patience grows thinner asnd I become weary of the humans. I want to be away from them, to smell the death and decay as it spreads. My legion knew no boundaries and yet I am now stifled by them in every way.
The bookman has the weapon that the vampire and Wesley used to make me weak. I am done waiting for him to come to me as is his duty. He last made the excuse of needing a powerful witch to fortify the shell and that the girl was gone. But there is another. I feel it...power bending the walls and bleeding through realities.
I climb the stairs to his room and turn the knob.
"Rupert," I eye him curiously as he lies in an intimate embrace with another, the one I feel. "You have something of mine."