Disclaimer: Don't own, etc., etc. Joss Whedon rules supreme and retains pretty much everything. Only written for personal enjoyment and because this plot bunny just wouldn't die, even after some serious staking…

Summary: Occurs after Brother, Unfortunately Mine. Rating 18 for sexual references. The sibling theme is not entirely played out …


Chapter 16 – LA For Beginners Tip # 16: Stalking Stalkers

Connor watched the old hotel from the shrubbery across the road, feeling slightly ridiculous. That way cool Viper had gone to the impressive offices of Wolfram & Hart, driving not into the general parking lot but straight down into the CEO's personal underground parking garage. The Plymouth had pulled up along the block and simply sat there with it's engine idling, indicating that Bad Tan believed the Viper would shortly re-emerge. Connor had sat in the back of the cab, torn as to what to do, something about the Viper's tinted windows and the fact that Wolfram & Hart's windows were all tinted the same way nagging at him for a reason he couldn't really put into words.

The phlegmatic cab driver let him run up another twenty bucks as they just sat there before pointedly suggesting that maybe he should make a decision whether to get out and go. However, just as Connor checked out how much money he had left and reluctantly decided to exit the cab and hope he could hail another one in time should the Viper come back out, the luxury sports car had done just that, emerging from the parking garage and hanging a right. Without prompting, the cab driver tailed the Plymouth as it tailed the Viper until they reached this huge old hotel, where once again, the Viper had gone straight down into the hotel's underground parking garage.

This time, the Plymouth's driver turned off the engine, so Connor got out of the cab and let it leave. He had spent nearly fifty bucks and was feeling rather idiotic; the fact that he was essentially stalking the stalker of a girl he had met for five minutes all of an hour ago was an irony not lost on him…even for imperturbable LA, it was eyebrow-raising behaviour.

But he could not break the compulsion that kept him here, lurking. Connor looked at the building, recognising it vaguely but not sure why. Taking up most of the block, the hotel was five-storeys high. It consisted of two long wings that faced out towards the sidewalk, separated by a narrow section in the middle that was set back between the two wings – a brick paved path that separated to curve around a fountain before merging again led up to a short flight of stone steps and a set of glass double doors that must lead into the lobby. Rather than being built right on the sidewalk, the hotel was set back slightly. A wall twice the height of a man shielded it from the view of pedestrians, with two wrought metal gates underneath a stone arch barring the way up the brick entry path.

Connor frowned. What little he could see of the hotel's front gardens seemed to be an overgrown tangle; the fountain certainly hadn't been cleaned in a decade, though it was working. Even from here he could see some of the bricks were cracked and had grass growing up through them. Each of the double doors that led into the lobby consisted of a narrow border of wood around an almost full-length vertical rectangle of glass, which had been divided into eight separate panes, two each side by side from top to bottom, but the outside was blotchy with age and in serious needed of rubbing down and re-varnishing, likewise the panes were smeared with grime. The name sign, 'Hyperion' was faded and looked so old it might have been there since the Fifties.

Connor looked up at the hotel, his stomach twisting uneasily, though he couldn't for the life of him have explained what about the place set his teeth on edge. It was now late afternoon, but the only light seemed to coming from the entrance lobby on the first floor; Connor was never going to win any Nobel Prizes for his math, but he knew that for every window to be dark was stretching the 'coincidence' factor a bit, and why was Bad Tan, having sneaked up that brick-path, now sort of loitering in the trees, occasionally bobbing up to peer through the glass doors like some second-rate Peeping Tom?

Blessing his exceptional eyesight, Connor caught a glimpse of the second man, 'Gru'; there was also another man, his face half turned away, dressed into a vivid yellow suit who had to be standing under some sort of fluorescent lighting, since his skin appeared green under it. Then Dawn and her step-brother came into view at the double glass doors, seeming to 'rise up' as they obviously walked up a short flight of inside steps. Spike pushed open one of the glass doors wide, the light from the lobby lights making his distinctive bleached blond hair possess a sort of halo effect, moving out onto the porch slightly as he turned his head back over his shoulder, saying something to Dawn that made her nod earnestly, her face serious.

Abruptly, Bad Tan sprang up onto the porch, and before Connor could move or shout a warning he already knew would be futile from this distance, Bad Tan lunged at Spike. Even as he was dashing across the street, Connor felt his jaw drop – instead of a gun or even a knife, Bad Tan drove a sharpened piece of wood directly into the blond man's chest –

Or tried to.

Connor skidded to a halt. What the hell? Thrown with all his strength behind it, Bad Tan's blow never landed. In front of Spike the air seemed to shimmer a sort of crystalline gold-bronze for a second, and Bad Tan was tossed backwards like a rag doll as he rebounded off some sort of invisible barrier. Connor looked desperately at the porch, but there was nothing; it was like one of those force-shield things on Star Trek.

Dawn folded her arms across her chest and looked at Bad Tan with a contemptuous expression, while Spike, completely unfazed by the fact that he should have been brutally impaled, looked at him with clear amusement. His face working furiously, Bad Tan snatched up the wooden stake he had dropped and hurled it viciously straight at Spike's chest again. The blond man didn't even blink as the wood hit the same invisible barrier as before a few inches from him, this time the force shattering the wood into kindling. Connor felt the flesh on his arms creep as, for a second, there seemed to be something distorted about 'Spike's' face, but when he blinked and looked again, the bleach-blonde's face was as it had ever been as he said something to Bad Tan who scrambled backwards, hauling himself to his feet and taking off at dead run, his face a mask of fury.

Connor remained, shielded by a parked car, as Dawn and Spike went back into the hotel, where 'Gru' and the still-green man, though he couldn't still be standing under a fluorescent light, crowded round.

"Okay, what just happened here?" Connor asked the universe at large.

End of Part 1. How to Kill Your Boyfriend In One Hard Lesson continues in Part 2: Chapter 1 – coming soon.

© 2008 C. D. Stewart