Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Angel.
A/N: Sorry for the wait. I've been busy trying to meet anthology/magazine deadlines, and original fiction/poetry has taken over my life.
Spike had to give Angel credit: no one could brood like that ponce.
"This is our fault," Angel said, staring out of the hospital's second floor window. The sun was behind them, not a threat.
The two vampires still smelled like the sewers they'd just vacated. The pair would have stayed gone longer, searched further, but they'd found a small group of civilians, a few of which needed the extra arms to carry them. By all rights, Spike had expected Angel to act the part of the boss again, order him to help the humans back to the hospital sanctuary. Instead, he'd simply turned back as well, as if he no longer had the will to find the enemy.
"Our?" Spike snorted and then shrugged it off. "Probably right."
The older vampire remained in his fixed state, staring at the destruction. Billowing smoke rose from a bank a few blocks away. Spike turned away from the sight, sick of the reminder, and surveyed the room they were in. He realized that it was a lab; the demon in him thought it was time to raid the fridge for a snack. He put a leash on the craving.
"And you know what really helps?" Spike continued, somewhat frustrated by his hunger pangs. "Sitting on our hands and waiting for the bloody bastards to strike us again. We should get back to the sewers while we still have daylight left."
Angel opened his mouth, a grimace at his lips. Spike could almost hear his grandsire's harsh voice calling him a fool, reminding him of the thousand plus demons hiding on the streets of LA. Instead, Angel straightened his back, looking over his shoulder.
"Check on your friend, see if she has anything new."
Your friend. Spike was somewhat thrown by that… title. Friend. It seemed so odd, stranger still that it was accurate and applicable to someone he'd met a day earlier. Spike opened and closed his mouth before indignantly stating, "She has a name, you know."
The thought of Hermione made Spike moved towards the door to obey, but he stopped before the frame, rolling his eyes. He turned back and stomped to the window. With a slightly regretful look in his eyes, he slapped Angel across the back of the head. He managed to dodge Angel's fist, if not the opposite hand that reached out, clenching his jacket in a vice. Angel pushed him back against the lab counter. Paperwork floated down to the floor.
"We don't have time for games, Spike," he growled. He released the younger vampire, giving him a second, lighter shove. His voice didn't raise an octave when he added, "Go. Now."
"You don't have to go all bloody Christian Bale on me," Spike muttered. He winced at his own Pop-news remark. Self, do kill Andy boy one of these days. "You need to wake up. I don't know what's crawled in your ass, but the world's not standing still for your little mope session. Now, either--"
"She wasn't here," Angel interrupted. His voice was low, probably too low for anyone without preternatural powers to hear. When Spike didn't reply, he continued, "I don't know why I expected her to come. I didn't give her a heads up. Didn't ask for help. But a part of me was expecting her to show up last minute."
Spike closed his eyes, trying to block out the sound. "Buffy."
Angel moved his head. It could have been interpreted as a nod. "After Andrew showed, after those slayers took Dana away, I assumed she'd be watching. That she'd see my bad behavior. Realize what was happening." He licked his bottom lip. "She didn't."
"Our own damned fault," Spike answered, not wanting to think it through.
"Yeah." Angel paused, his brow wrinkled in frustration. "Hell's pouring out. You'd think Willow would have gotten the memo by now."
"Probably neck high in their own big bad, knowing that group's track record." Spike grinned. "We don't have the copyright on apocalypses, you know."
Silence crawled into the room like a creature with four legs, sniffing about and leaving again. The vampires could hear the sounds from the floors below, of people, victims of this mess, waiting, whispering, afraid. Good guys were needed.
Angel straightened his back. "We need to get to work," he said.
"'Bout time." Spike raised a finger in note. "I'll go check on my friend, then."
Angel opened his mouth, a hesitating sound making its way out. "She--Hermione," Angel forced, "she did a good job last night. Setting up the wards. We're lucky you found her."
"I'll thank her for you." Spike took a blow from behind and stumbled forward a few steps. A red-cheeked Hermione stood behind him with an apologetic smile on her face. "Or," Spike finished, "you can tell her yourself."
"So sorry." Hermione nodded her head in acknowledgment of Angel. "Someone said you'd returned from the sewers and that you were up here of all places, so I ran down the hall looking for you, and I heard voices in this room--"
"And you found my backside," Spike noted. "Got a ramble free explanation for why you're here, love?"
Hermione bit her tongue, took a breath, and released. "We're in trouble. Actually, not just us, but the world. Our world, which isn't really this world, come to find out."
Spike raised a brow. "Come again?"
The brow remained raised when Illyria stepped in behind Hermione. While not necessarily much taller than the witch, the Old One was imposing, a long indigo shadow of the girl. She stepped beside Hermione, forcing both of them to move further into the room.
"The witch transported us to the boundary," Illyria said, and though her tone remained the same, the slowness with which her voice came out made it seem as if she were addressing small children. "I lifted the illusion."
"And what we saw last night wasn't what I saw today," Hermione finished, holding Spike's eyes with her own.
"You were outside?" Angel asked, annoyed. He was ignored. His demeanor changed almost automatically when Hermione's statement finally resurfaced. "Dimensional travel."
Spike stared down at her and blinked, realization dawning on him. "Someone wanted us to believe we were still home?"
Angel cut Hermione off. "Not someone," he snapped. "Wolfram and Hart. The question is why."
"Yeah," Spike seconded, "seems they're fine with the panic and mayhem, judging from the hell on Earth and all. Why give us a blind fold after the gun's been fired?"
Illyria cocked her head with a look that seemed to address her hopelessness at finding a brain amongst the half-breeds.
Hermione sighed. "That's what I was trying to say," she said, giving him a harsh glance. "And I think I have the answer. Hope: I haven't been completely made aware of all the things that this Wolfram and Hart firm has done or what its motivation really is, but judging from the circumstance, I'd say that they have quite a good reason for putting us in a different dimension without our knowledge." She brushed back her tangled hair, as if to distract herself. "Let's face it, we were all hoping that someone on the outside was trying to get to us. That help would come. The glamour over the boundary kept that hope alive so that we wouldn't take extreme action to try to escape."
From the corner of his eye, Spike saw Angel wince. A part of himself was squeezing, too, tense, deep fear building in his stomach. This wasn't good. This wasn't good at all.
Hermione opened her mouth but no words came out. Spike stared at her, meeting her honey eyes. He knew that she was pausing because she didn't want to add this next part. Didn't want to bring it up unless someone asked.
So Spike did.
"This other dimension," he breathed, "what's it like, exactly?"
Hermione broke their connection, looking to the Old One for the right wording.
"Dismal," Illyria supplied.
The witch cringed. Spike put a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently. He could feel Angel's eyes following the movement, examining it for what it was.
Hermione released a breath. "No sign of humans--not any living ones. There were vehicles and such." She shook her head. "They looked the same as ours, so I have to assume they were made by humans. If I had to guess, I'd say that something awful had happened, perhaps several years ago. There was evidence of creatures… demons."
"Sounds as if they've already had their own end of the world party," Spike commented.
"On that note," Hermione cleared her throat, "I have a theory. What opened up, in that alley, it wasn't a gate to a hell. It was a hole this dimension, a slow leak in the bubble, so to speak. The demons are coming in from the other side."
Illyria straightened. "I concur."
Angel raised a hand, his face tight, as if one more word might do him in. Spike knew that look. It was the one he got before the demon popped loose and started throwing things at heads. Angel took a moment; mocking life by widening his nostrils for a deep breath.
"Alright," he said, through his teeth, "let's say your theory is right. Exactly, how to we close the hole, stop the demons from coming in?"
"Go to the source," Hermione answered, quickly.
She shook her head at Angel's conclusion. "No, I believe that would be the wrong thing to do at this point. Someone opened the hole, someone shifted our dimensions. That took power, and it wasn't done in the opening. By source, I was referring to the place where the power is coming from. Most likely, Wolfram and Hart itself."
Spike didn't like the black look that Angel was giving her. He took a step over, his shoulder in front of hers. "Guess that means we're due in at work tonight."
Angel's shoulders squared, as if bracing for a defense. "No."
End Notes: Ok, so I love Angel, but we all know he can be cranky, so expect to see cranky breeches Angel in the next chapter. Also, there will be quite a bit of shippy goodness in the upcoming chapter. Thanks for all the reviews, guys--10 away from 100! That's awesome!