Disclaimer: I don't own the challenge; that belongs to Lee. Buffy and Angel and respective characters belong to Joss Whedon, and Ocean's Eleven belongs to Warner Bros.
Feedback: Please do.
Challenge: Basically, redo the basic plot of Ocean's Eleven with Buffy and Angel characters. Angel should take the place of Danny Ocean, and Connor as Linus Caldwell. The other characters are up to you.
Then Abrams noticed something else that was currently on the floor, and his eyes widened in revelation as he raised the walkie-talkie he'd brought down to the vault to his mouth.
"Cue up the tape of the robbery," he said grimly. He paused for a moment to give his staff the chance to respond to his order, and then spoke again. "Does it say 'Bellagio' on the south wall of the vault?"
Abrams only had to wait a moment to hear the answer he'd been expecting to receive.
"No, sir," the manager said, his voice clearly confused. "It doesn't. I– I don't understand..."
Abrams sighed slightly as inspiration hit him.
It was an elaborate scheme, but it was the only way any of this made sense.
"We had that installed on Tuesday," he said grimly into the radio. "The image we saw of the men robbing us was a tape."
"What?" the manager said over the radio.
"Someone built a double of my vault, then made a tape of them robbing it," Abrams explained grimly as he stared at the empty room around him. "When we saw them putting money in those bags, that wasn't actually happening."
Up in the security centre, Walsh's jaw dropped as he watched the tape again.
If it wasn't for that missing sign, he would have genuinely believed that this was the vault below him…
"Then, sir…" he said, as he spoke uncertainly into the radio, unwilling to attract his boss's anger but equally unwilling to leave his curiosity unsatisfied, "what happened to all the money?"
For a moment, there was silence as the manager waited for Abrams to respond to his query, until he spoke once again, a low growl in his voice.
"Get me Lilah Morgan," he said grimly. "I have something I wish to… check… myself."
As Wesley walked out of the casino, sweating slightly under the team helmet that had been all that was concealing his identity from the surrounding guests, he smirked slightly at the thought of how Lilah had been manipulated into their scheme for revenge.
The team had been aware of Lilah's presence as soon as the former Head of the Special Ops division of Wolfram & Hart's L.A. branch had arrived in Las Vegas; even after so many years away, Angel still had a couple of contacts here and there that had been keeping an eye on the staff of Wolfram & Hart who'd managed to stay in business after their office had been demolished.
Deciding that it was too good an opportunity to pass up, Angel and Wesley had come up with a modified version of the heist to incorporate Lilah's presence. Fortunately, Lilah and Wesley had once had a 'relationship' of sorts, back when Wesley had fallen out with the rest of the group and needed something, anything, to make him feel accepted by somebody. Although the encounters between them had been primarily sexual rather than anything else, a relationship of sorts had eventually developed, but it had ended when Wesley returned to the rest of the team.
With this in mind, Angel had arranged for Wesley to contact Lilah, with Wesley claiming that he resented Angel's automatic takeover of everything he'd established by himself in the last few years and wished to have his old employer 'eliminated'. Using Wesley's inside information on the heist, Lilah had arranged a private security team to eliminate the group after learning that the team intended to 'hijack' the casino's 911 line- they actually had been planning to do that before Lilah showed up-, little suspecting that the entire security team had been replaced by the members of Angel's team before she even got around to contacting them.
Even her video feed to Willow's room had been tapped into almost as soon as the camera had been installed; the footage Lilah had been shown of Willow reacting to her monitors shutting down had been taped and set up long before the heist had even started. With all that sorted out, the only remaining tricky bit had been to whip up a ticket out of the country for that night in Lilah's name- along with all the necessary documentation to provide a credible reason for her to want the money in the first place- and get it into her room without her noticing. However, it had soon been sorted; taking advantage of their room service disguises, Faith and Gwen had hidden an envelop containing the plane ticket, along with files containing contracts and plans for the construction of her new law practice, under a couple of magazines in Lilah's room when they went into her room 'by accident'. That part had been particularly risky- if Lilah had seen the envelope she might have suspected something- but, in the end, luck was on their side, and she hadn't so much as glanced at the table where the corner of the envelope stuck out between a couple of magazines.
The last part of the heist, of course, hadn't been easy. Unwilling to recruit any more people- Angel bringing in Xander to beat him up had been pushing their luck as it was- Wesley's mock 'security team' had, by virtue of necessity, consisted of the remaining members of the group, regardless of their age or physical condition. There'd been more than the occasional moment when Wesley had been sure they'd be discovered; Giles, the oldest one of the team- although none of them would have ever called him old to his face- had nearly ended up stuck at the top of the elevator shaft when they'd needed to rappel downwards, and Willow, Gwen and Faith had been forced to wear their bulletproof vests open to limit the discomfort on their… chests. Wesley had been constantly worried that they'd be discovered at the final hurdle by one of those little details- the entrance of the SWAT team had been the one bit of the vault raid they couldn't record for risk of giving the game away by having something in the corridor not quite lining up with something in the real corridor.
However, in the end, that hadn't been an issue; the lights had been cut before anyone could see anything, their mock 'script' of what to do in the vault had gone exactly according to plan, and, as far as everyone up in the monitoring room was concerned, the vault had exploded while Wesley and his team had removed the money in their originally empty bags; the bags they'd carried in had been padded out with cardboard boxes, making them appear full while really being practically empty.
All in all, everything about the plan so far had gone exactly as they'd hoped.
All Wesley could do now was hope that Abrams reacted exactly as they'd guessed he would, and that he got to Lilah's room before she fully realized what had just taken place…
Back inside the casino, Abrams was already marching angrily through the corridors of the casino's back rooms, heading directly for the room that he'd specifically set aside for his less… pleasant… activities; in other words, the ones he didn't want to be recorded by the security staff.
As he reached the door, he rounded on the two security guards, a piercing glare in his eyes as he studied them.
"Where's Angelus?" he asked bluntly.
"Still inside, sir," one of them said. "With Harris; they've really been going at it in there."
Abrams nodded grimly at that, before he raised his sleeves to straighten his cuffs- it would at least give him some time to cool off before the upcoming confrontation- and then nodded at the guards.
"Open that door," he said bluntly.
As soon as the door opened before him, Abrams witnessed the welcome sight of Liam Angelus sustaining a clearly painful left hook to the jaw, sending him staggering back into the table. As Harris stepped back upon seeing him enter, allowing Abrams a better view of his 'target', the casino owner grimly nodded as he took in Angelus' battered appearance; he seemed barely able to stand, his clothes were badly rumbled from being tossed about, his lip was bleeding, and he had a black eye, with the other one looking like it would soon follow suit.
However, he was clearly still relatively aware of his surroundings; after a few seconds, Angelus glanced up at the casino owner, a small sarcastic little smile on his face.
"Heya, Abrams," he said, raising one hand dazedly. "How's the other fight going?"
"Did you have a hand in this?" Abrams stated simply, ignoring the other man's tone; he was going to stay calm and get the information he was after, no matter how tempting it might be to just hit the bastard in front of him.
"Did I have a hand in what?" Angelus countered, tilting his head to one side in confusion.
For a moment, Abrams was almost tempted to believe the man was bluffing, but then he glanced between Angelus and Harris and decided that couldn't be the case; the animosity between these two was well-known to him, and those bleeding knuckles of Harris' definitely couldn't be faked.
"Get him out of here," he said, waving impatiently at the security goons on either side of him as he stepped forward, glaring the other man directly in the eyes.
"What happened, Abrams; did you get robbed or something?" Angelus retorted, as the goons grabbed his arms and prepared to march him out of the room, Harris choosing to make a quick departure from the scene in question…
After leaving a little extra something down on the table behind him, in the form of a small camera the same colour as the table it sat on; noticeable if you were looking for it, but hardly the kind of thing that would register with a casual glance.
Meanwhile, upstairs in Abrams' private suite, Buffy Summers had just sat down on the bed, inwardly fuming at how the recent events had turned out- her night out at the fight had been a disappointment even before Parker kicked her out like that- when, much to her surprise, a phone rang in her coat pocket.
What the…? She mused to herself in confusion, as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a phone. Where did this come from?
Still, she supposed it couldn't do any harm to answer it now that it was ringing…
Confused but nevertheless determined to get answers, Buffy raised the phone to her ear and hit the 'Accept Call' button.
"Yes?" she asked
"Turn to Channel 88," a voice said on the other end of the line just before it cut out.
Buffy blinked briefly in surprise- that voice had sounded suspiciously familiar- but, as curious as ever, she reached over, picked up the TV remote control, and turned the television onto the directed channel…
Revealing a picture of Angel and Parker looking at each other in front of a door, Angel bruised, battered and bleeding as he stared at her current lover.
"Oh my God…" Buffy whispered as she stared at her ex. "What the Hell…?"
Even when he'd been in fights back when they'd run the detective agency, Angel had never taken that much damage.
"I will ask you one last time," Parker stated, as he glared at Angel; Buffy vaguely registered that two people she vaguely recognized as employees of the casino were holding Angel's arms, but she couldn't tell if he needed them to stay standing or if they were just holding him back. "Do you know what happened to my money?"
"Always with the money, aren't you, Abrams?" Angel retorted, holding Parker's gaze despite his own battered condition. "What would you give up to get it back, anyway? Buffy?"
"Yes," Parker stated without hesitation.
Buffy's eyes widened in rage at what she'd just heard.
That low down… no good… sonnova BITCH! She fumed.
She didn't even need to see any more; what she'd seen so far was enough.
The fact that he hadn't even hesitated in his reply clinched it for her; Angel would never have just let her go like that.
"Well, that's very interesting," Angel said as he looked at Abrams, trying to exaggerate just how dazed he was- it hadn't been easy to apply the necessary make-up to make him look like he'd taken more of a beating than he actually had- as he spoke, "but I didn't have anything to do with it."
For a moment, there was silence as the two men stared at each other, and then Abrams leaned forwards to speak in a low voice directly into Angel's ear.
"If it wasn't for the fact that I already have an obvious suspect for this whole mess, I'd be contacting the police for violating your parole," he said grimly.
Then he stepped back, his arms folded as he looked critically at the ex-detective. "As it is, I don't give a shit what you do either way, so I'm giving you one chance; get out of here, and make that you never even set foot inside my casino again."
"Check," Angel replied, nodding with a slight smile at the man in front of him, before the goons took a firmer grip of his arms and hauled him out of the room.
"Sir?" the security manager's voice said over the radio clipped to Abrams' belt, just as Angelus was taken around the corner and out of his sight. "We've got Miss Morgan here."
Abrams chuckled slightly at that news.
Maybe Angelus wasn't responsible for this mess- his battered condition leant weight to the idea that he'd been an 'innocent' in this particular attack on his casinos- but Abrams knew for a fact that Miss Morgan had to be; what other explanation could there be but the explanation that it was her 'security team' that had carried the money out of the vault?
As he walked out of the back corridors, back into the casino, and began to head towards the elevators that would take him back to the main security centre, he was unable to stop a slight grin from crossing his face.
It wouldn't get his money back, but he would certainly enjoy seeing Morgan squirm when confronted with her duplicity…
Then, just as he was turning towards the elevators, one of them opened and Buffy Summers marched out, her head held high as she swept by him without even a glance in his direction.
"Buffy?" Abrams said, looking in confusion at her.
Halting briefly in her tracks, Buffy turned to glare at him as though he was something unpleasant she'd found on her shoe.
"You of all people should know, Parker," she said grimly, spitting out his name like it was a curse. "In your hotel, there's always someone watching."
With that, she turned around and walked towards the casino exit, leaving Abrams to stare after her, his expression unreadable.
Great, he mused to himself as he entered the elevator.
Now he was down a hundred and sixty million and one woman; not only was his reputation in the professional world going to be tarnished, but his personal life had taken a serious knock at the same time.
As Buffy stepped out of the casino, glancing around herself, already resolved to send for her stuff as soon as she had found herself a decent apartment, her eyes fell on Angel as he was roughly shoved out of the casino's back entrance.
"Oh my God… Angel!" she yelled, hurrying towards him as the door slammed shut behind him. Turning to look in her direction, Angel smiled slightly and opened his arms, which Buffy willingly leapt into, only remembering the moment after she'd grabbed him that he must still be tender from his earlier beating…
Then she realized that he wasn't wincing in pain from having her arms around him, and drew back to look at him in shock.
"What the… you're OK?" she said, staring incredulously at him. "But… but you were…"
"Beaten half to death by Abrams' goons?" Angel asked, chuckling slightly. "Nah, it was exaggerated; we faked the worst of my injuries so he wouldn't know I was involved in the heist."
"Oh- wait a minute, heist?" Buffy yelled, pulling back from Angel as she stared incredulously at him. "Are you telling me that… you just robbed Parker Abrams?"
"Hey, he got his money thanks to financial assistance from Wolfram & Hart," Angel said, shrugging slightly at her. "What was I supposed to do, let him get away with working with those scumbags?"
Buffy's eyes widened in shock.
She'd always suspected that Abrams- she was not going to call him 'Parker' any more, not even in her head- hadn't exactly risen to the position he was in via legitimate methods, but to be associated with Wolfram & Hart…
"Tell me you did some serious damage to him, please?" she asked her old lover.
Angel nodded in confirmation.
"The entire vault's cleared out, and Lilah Morgan was framed for the whole thing," he said nonchalantly. "Had to get most of the gang back together for it, but it still comes out to a pretty decent amount of cash for all concerned; over thirteen million for all eleven of us."
"Hold on; eleven?" Buffy said, looking at Angel in surprise. "You pulled off something like this with only eleven people?"
"Essentially, yeah," Angel replied, smiling affectionately at her as he jerked his thumb back at the main entrance to the casino. "The place lost practically all the money it had in the vault tonight in a matter of minutes, we're dividing it equally between us, and, as far as Mr Abrams is concerned, I was just the ex-boyfriend in the wrong place at the wrong time when Miss Lilah Morgan, formerly of Wolfram & Hart's Los Angeles branch, attempted to rip him off to get the money to set up her own firm."
"Ah," Buffy said simply, as she looked inquiringly at Angel. "You've backed the story up, I take it?"
"Contracts and plans for the new law practice- along with a plane ticket out of the country, of course- are all in a file in her room that Abrams can't fail to find if he's got at least half a brain in that head of his," Angel replied, chuckling slightly as he turned to look at the casino before him. "It cost a lot to draw that stuff up, of course, but I think I can safely say it was more than worth it."
"Not bad," Buffy said, nodding briefly before she turned to look inquisitively at Angel, a small, teasing grin on her face. "So… now that you've dealt with some of the last remnants of Wolfram & Hart, going to keep up the detective business?"
"Maybe…" Angel replied, an equally teasing grin on his face as he looked back at her, before his face fell. "Uh… before I go any further here, I should tell you… one of my team was Connor."
"Conn- wait, the Connor?" Buffy said, pulling back and looking wide-eyed at Angel. "As in, your son with Darla?"
"Yeah…" Angel said, nodding awkwardly at Buffy. "I know that he's a touchy subject and all that, but I really feel that I've got a chance to get to know him now, and-"
Buffy raised a hand to his mouth.
"Stop," she said simply. "Looking back on that whole thing… well, I think I overreacted at the time."
Noting Angel's surprised expression, she shrugged in a nonchalant manner. "I was angry at the time, I'm not denying that, but, now that I've had more time to think about it, I get that you never really thought you'd need to tell me- you'd wanted him to have a life of his own and all that, so it wasn't like you'd ever expect him to get involved in your life- and…"
She shrugged. "Well, I wouldn't mind getting to know him, really."
Looking back at her for a moment, Angel smiled warmly at the woman he loved.
"You're great, you know that?" he said simply.
"I try," Buffy replied.
Smiling broadly at her once again, Angel wrapped her up in his arms and gave her a deep, passionate kiss, Buffy eagerly returning the kiss as she wrapped her own arms around him, each savouring the feeling of having the one they loved back with them once again…
Finally, Angel pulled away from her and slung an arm over her shoulder.
"C'mon," he said, indicating the street before them. "What do you say I introduce you to the rest of the team, and then we see about getting everything going once again?"
"Pick up where we left off?" Buffy asked, smiling affectionately at the ex-convict as they began to walk down the Strip, leaving the Bellagio behind them. "I kind of like the sound of that…"