Note: this is a continuation of my story Redemption. Need to read that one first or this one probably won't make sense. As always, constructive criticism is helpful.
Pt. 1 - the story continues
"Well, Junior, I think we should head back."
"Stop calling me that," growled Lindsey.
Spike smirked. Annoying Lindsey wasn't quite as much fun as irritating Angel, but it was a close second.
They were currently patroling around the docks. It was going on six months since Marsoff's demise. There was still the occasional scuffle with a demon or two but for the most part, life had fallen into routine. Patrol for danger - scout for supplies - research for a way out of Hell - sleep. Spike didn't mind too much. It wasn't really that much different from his life before The Fall. Spike was, afterall, a survivor and adapted to change quickly. He had learned that lesson from Angel - or more accurately from Angelus.
"Did you hear that?" asked Lindsey.
So absorbed in his thoughts, Spike was startled. It was Lindsey's turn to smirk.
"What's the matter, Spike?"
Spike glared. "Hear what?"
There was another deep-throated growl.
"That," Lindsey replied.
Spike didn't bother with a reply. Turning his senses up, he tried to pin down where the sound had originated.
Angel stood at the library window, staring at the landscape outside. There really wasn't much to see. It resembled some of the war-torn cities the newscasters would occasionally talk about on the television back in old LA - before The Fall.
Angel guessed that was their reality now. They were in a war - a war for survival. He often wondered how the world above perceived their current situation. Did they know what had happened to LA and its people, or did life go on unchanged? Were they missed or simply forgotten about? Had the Senior Partners changed the reality above? Was time moving the same, or differently?
Angel pushed away from the window and began to pace. These thoughts had been running thru his mind frequently in the last few weeks. They were coming up on the two year anniversary of The Fall and Angel supposed that might be what was stirring these worries so relentlessly.
Two years since The Fall. Six months since Marsoff's demise and Holland Manners' prediction that they would continue to fall further into Hell. Luckily, as far as Angel could tell, it hadn't happened. While that was definitely a plus, neither had they made any progress in finding their way out of Hell.
Giles was researching almost non-stop; the others lending a hand when they could. So focused on finding a way out, Giles often had to be forced to take a break. That was the only reason Angel found himself alone in the library at the moment. Faith and Lorne had dragged a protesting Giles out of the room earlier in the day, insisting he needed to take a breather and get some rest.
Giles had found one or two rituals that had shown promise. One especially so - right up to the point where, if successful, it would 'destroy all that breathes' as the book had stated. To say they were disappointed would be a gross understatement. They had managed to survive so far but time was obviously not on their side.
They hadn't seen or heard from Ilyria since before Lindsey's appearance and the whole Marsoff mess. The blue goddess had vanished. Angel hadn't thought it would bother him so much. She had somehow become one of their team and her leaving felt almost like a betrayal. Angel supposed he could understand. The loss of Wesley, followed so closely by the loss of Gunn; Ilyria was still trying to come to grips with her emotions. As a god, she hadn't bothered with emotions, especially in regards to mere humans. Angel actually hoped they would meet up with Ilyria again. They had been thru a lot together. She was family.
Angel gave a shake of his head as he walked back to the window and gazed out once more. He had thought his previous attachments had created unusual bonds but they had nothing on his current 'family'. Every one of them had at one point been his enemy. Faith - tried to kill him; Spike - tried to kill him; Lindsey - tried to kill him; and Giles -he had wished Angel dead on several occasions. In fact, Lorne was the only one who hadn't wanted him dead...although after having asked him to kill Lindsey, maybe Lorne had wanted him dead too.
With Lindsey's return to the land of the living, Lorne and Angel's friendship had resucitated. The weight of guilt had been lifted from Lorne's shoulders and he was once again his exuberant self. While Lindsey hadn't really forgiven Lorne, or any of them for that matter, the green demon seemed to ignore it. He went out of his way to include Lindsey. The former lawyer still fought against it but Angel could see Lindsey's resolve slipping a little more each day. The anger was starting to dissipate. On rare occasions, Angel found himself enjoying Lindsey's company. The man had a quick wit and a dry sense of humor. Of course, as soon as either of them realized they were becoming sociable, they would quickly excuse themselves and leave. Lindsey wanted to hold onto his anger and Angel supposed Faith was right when she stated that he wanted to hold onto his self-righteousness in regards to Lindsey. Unfortunately, Angel thought to himself, neither one of them was being successful. Those feelings were disappearing. So preoccupied with his thoughts, Angel didn't realize he had company until the silence was broken.
"Something interesting outside?" Giles noticed Angel's slight flinch. It was rare that any of them could startle the vampire. "Angel?"
Angel collected himself before turning from the window. "Giles."
"Is everything alright? You seem distracted."
"How was your rest?" asked Angel, ignoring the question.
"As much as I hate to admit it, I feel quite refreshed." Giles walked further into the room. "It seems unusually quiet. Where is everyone?"
"Angel-" Before Giles could continue, the quiet was ended as Lorne and Faith entered the room.
"Hey, guys," greeted Faith. "What's up?" She flopped down on the couch with Lorne joining her there. Spike had pretty much lay claim to the couch but Faith figured Spike wasn't around so first come, first served.
"Anything new?" asked Angel, glad for the distraction from his thoughts.
"Not a peep," replied Lorne. "Quiet as the proverbial church mouse."
"Where's the boys?" asked Faith, stretching out some of the kinks from the day.
"Not back yet," replied Angel, just a hint of worry tugging at the back of his mind.
"They left on patrol before us," commented Lorne. "Shouldn't they be back by now?"
"Maybe they ran into trouble."
"Hell, Faith, knowing those two, they are the trouble," Angel replied as his attention was again drawn outside; this time to the quickly darkening sky. "What the hell?"
The words had barely left Angel's lips when the building began to shake and a roaring sound filled the air. They were all thrown off their feet. The shaking increased and sparks flew from the light fixtures before they went out, plunging the room into complete darkness. There was a momentary lull and then it was as if the floor had dropped out from beneath them. Yells and screams filled the air as they could feel themselves falling thru space. Right before unconsciousness overtook him, Lorne recalled the saying, 'It's not the fall that will kill you. It's the sudden stop at the end.'
Angel awoke slowly. It took him a moment to gather his senses. There was dust hanging in the air so he knew he hadn't been out long. It was still dark but he could make out thru the window what appeared to be small fires burning off in the distance. That provided just enough light filtering in that with his vampire senses, he could see slight shadows and shapes.
Angel heard a moan coming from his left. "Giles? You okay?"
"I believe the bookcase," Giles gasped, "has fallen on me."
"How bad are you hurt?"
"I don't think-" gasp- "I am. Just can't-" gasp- "breathe. The bookcase-"
"Easy, Giles." Angel peered into the darkness trying to locate the others. "Lorne? Faith?" he called as he made his way over to Giles.
"Here," replied Faith, pushing debris off her body; coughing as the movement created a small dust storm.
"Me too, Angel," Lorne added. "What was that? The amusement ride from Hell? Pun fully intended."
"Faith, help me with this bookcase. It has Giles pinned -"
"Giles?" Faith interupted.
"I'm alright, Faith." gasp- "Just get this off-" gasp-
"Lorne," directed Angel, "you pull Giles out while we lift."
"Would love to help Angelcakes, but I can't see a thing."
Faith touched Lorne's arm causing him to cry out. "Easy, Lorne. Just me," Faith calmed. "Take my hand. I'll lead you."
"I feel like there's a song in there somewhere, " Lorne said, attempting humor to hide his nervousness.
"Bloody hell. What was that?" growled Spike as he picked himself up from the prone position he had found himself in. He had obviously lost consciousness but for how long, he didn't really know. It had been light out the last he recalled...but now that he thought about it, a black cloud had been bearing down on them. Them - he hadn't been alone.
"Lindsey?" It was dark except for the small fires that lit the night. All the electrical power was apparently out as there was no other light to be seen. Spike remembered the ground shaking, a roaring sound followed by a dark cloud overtaking them and then he had felt like he was falling. Realizing he hadn't received a reply, Spike called out again, "Lindsey?"
There was no answer but Spike could just make out a rapid heartbeat. It was hard to see too far into the darkness even with his vampire sight. "Hey, faux-Doyle, where are you?" Spike only called Lindsey that when the others weren't around. He knew Angel wouldn't see the humor in it. Spike supposed it wasn't really funny but it annoyed Lindsey so it was worth the risk of angering Angel.
The voice was barely above a whisper but Spike thought it came from below him. They had been walking along the docks when the shaking had started. Spike carefully picked his way thru the crumbled debris. As he walked, he could see that part of the dock had actually broken away and settled several feet below his current position. That appeared to be where the voice had come from. The closer Spike got to the area, the louder the heartbeat sounded. Spike paused a moment in his descent. There was another sound mixing with the quickly increasing heartbeat. It seemed to be a combination of a growl and a purr. "Hang on," Spike mumbled, somehwat concerned with who or what he would find.
Even with their past history, Spike had more or less come to a truce with Lindsey. He had actually developed a grudging respect for the former lawyer, although loathe to admit it. Spike knew Lindsey wasn't easily frightened so whatever was around the corner, it wouldn't be anything ordinary.
When Spike finally located Lindsey, he could see why the man was in a slight panic. Lindsey lay pinned by lumber and debris, with a pankterak demon crouched a few feet away, preparing to pounce. The weapon Lindsey had been carrying lay too far away for the ex-lawyer to reach.
"You've got to be kidding me," groaned Spike. "Sometimes I really hate it when I'm right." Spike had no trouble recalling the specifics on the huge cat-like demon. They were rare but very dangerous. Manuvering himself to a better position, Spike yelled, "Hey, Simba!" He succeeded in drawing the demon's attention away from Lindsey. Jumping into the fray, Spike grabbed Lindsey's sword and taunted the demon, "Get away from him. Not on today's menu."
The feline demon glared at the intruder. Spike smiled in anticipation. He hadn't had a good fight in some time. The claws and bite of a pankterak demon were poisonous - deadly, even to a vampire. Just a scratch would cause an extremely painful death. It added an extra thrill to the fight as far as Spike was concerned.
The demon took a quick swipe in Lindsey's general direction and succeeded in knocking the pile of debris holding him loose - but also sending the entire lot over the edge of the dock and into the water below. Spike heard splashing and hoped that Lindsey was okay but at the moment, he had other worries. The demon attacked and Spike forgot about everything else. He knew if he didn't take care of the pankterak demon, then it wouldn't matter if Lindsey had survived the fall. The demon cat had the scent of its prey and wouldn't give up until it had succeeded in killing the intended prey or was dead itself. Pankterak demons were nothing if not persistent. And now, Lindsey wasn't the only one marked. Spike had interferred with a kill and he too was marked as prey by the demon cat.
"How are you feeling?" Angel observed the watcher trying to get more comfortable on the couch.
Carefully settling further into the couch, Giles nodded to Angel. "Much better now. Thank you."
After having pulled Giles out from under the bookcase, Lorne and Faith had scoured the building for flashlights, lanterns, candles - anything that would give them some light. Fortunately, they were well stocked with all of the above.
"So no electricity then?" Lorne questioned although he could guess the answer.
"Not even a spark," Faith replied as she fussed over Giles, wrapping a blanket around him even as the watcher tried to fend her off.
"Don't know why we had it before anyway," commented Angel absently.
Giles was finally able to corral Faith's hands to stop any further hovering. "I'm fine, Faith," reassured Giles. "Please stop fussing over me."
"B will have my a-"
Giles cleared his throat in a stern warning but softened it by lightly patting her hand.
"So, what just happened?" asked Lorne.
"I think we fell," Angel quietly answered.
"Can you be more specific, sugar?"
"Holland Manners told me there were levels of Hell and we would keep falling lower. I think that's what happened."
"You don't think he could've been lying?" asked Giles.
Angel shook his head. "He seemed genuinely excited at the prospect...plus Lindsey confirmed it."
"And no doubt in your mind Lindsey was telling the truth?"
"What else did this Holland Manners tell you?"
Lindsey was finally able to free himself from the pile of debris that had fallen with him, trapping him momentarily underwater. He broke the water's surface and gulped in much needed air. After taking a moment to assess his situation, Lindsey, aided by the small fires that burned, found a path out of the water and back up to the docks. In all, he had probably spent less than ten minutes in the water.
As he pulled himself onto the dock, he noticed Spike. "You alright?"
Spike would have laughed out loud at the sight of the bedraggled man but was too exhausted. Instead he replied, "Just peachy." After a slight pause, he added, "Seems maybe I should be asking you that question."
Lindsey shrugged before taking a step towards the obviously dead pankterak demon. "Killed it. I'm impressed."
"Yeah, you should be." Spike didn't voice it, but it had taken every bit of his skill and a considerable amount of luck for him to survive the fight.
Lindsey offered a hand to Spike, who accepted willingly as his legs felt like lead weights were strapped to them. As he stood, Spike noticed for the first time the red glow in the distant sky.
"Level two...maybe three," murmured Lindsey.
"We should get back." Lindsey ignored Spike's question. "Come on."
Spike looked after Lindsey's retreating form. "You're welcome," Spike called out sarcastically.
Lindsey smiled but didn't turn around. Truth be told, he felt any sudden movement might send him to his knees. His head pounded and the blurred vision wasn't helping. Pulling Spike up had almost caused him to black out. Luckily the vampire was still recovering from his fight with the demon and didn't seem to notice. They didn't have time to waste. They needed to get back to the safety of their home.
Spike shook his head as Lindsey didn't stop walking. Spike broke out in a jog to catch up to him. "Wait up, Matlock."
"Where were they patroling?" asked Faith as she finished knotting her boot strings.
Hours had passed and they were all worried. Spike and Lindsey had yet to return. In the time since The Fall, they had become a family - a slightly dysfunctional, always arguing family - but a family none the less. They depended on each other for survival and while Angel never would have thought it possible, he was worried about Spike and Lindsey.
"They were supposed to cover out by the docks," answered Angel. "Let's go find them."
"Be careful," cautioned Giles.
"Yeah, what G-man says," chimed in Lorne, worry evident on his face and in his voice.
Angel nodded. He and Faith picked up their weapons and headed for the door. Just as they entered the foyer, the entry door opened and in walked their missing friends.
"Going out, luv?"
"Spike. Where the hell have you two been?" growled Faith as she punched Spike's shoulder forcefully.
"Easy there, pet. Me and junior have just survived a rough and tumble."
"What happened?" asked Angel as he eyed them both closely, looking for injury. Each of them had bruising and scratches but seemed okay.
"Pankterak demon. Nothing I couldn't handle."
"A what demon?" questioned Faith.
"Pankterak. Think big cat...on steroids," Spike flippantly replied. "Only live in hell dimensions... or in this case - Hell."
"Well, since you're both still here, I guess those scratches didn't come from her," commented Angel. "Is she dead?"
"As a doornail," confirmed Spike as he headed down the hallway, the others following closely behind asking for more details.
Angel noted that Lindsey had gone a different direction. Back to his room, Angel supposed. Debating only a moment, Angel followed Lindsey. Without knocking, he entered the apartment. He could hear Lindsey's cursing coming from the bedroom. Angel waited for him to return to the living room.
Walking back into the room, Lindsey startled at the sight of Angel. "Son of a bitch. What are you doing here?" He hadn't been prepared for anyone to be in his apartment, let alone Angel. Taking a deep breath, Lindsey calmed. "Don't you know how to knock?"
"Came to see if you were alright. You were pretty quiet back there."
"Yeah, well, it wasn't my story to tell and I'm fine." Lindsey took a step but stumbled slightly, catching himself on the back of his couch.
"You sure about that?"
"Nothing a little 90-proof won't solve," Lindsey made his way towards the liquor cabinet. He had confiscated a bottle of good bourbon whiskey that he had found on one of his turns patroling. A few steps shy of the cabinet, he fell to his knees.
Moving quickly, Angel was at his side and helping Lindsey to right himself. "Yeah, you're just fine."
"Shut up." Lindsey tried to breathe thru the pain.
"Where are you hurt?"
"Don't say you're fine, Lindsey. It's obvious you aren't."
Lindsey wanted to tell Angel off but his body had other ideas. His eyes rolled back and he slumped unconscious. He would have face-planted into the carpet but Angel caught him.
Shaking his head, Angel picked Lindsey up and carried him back into the bedroom. "Stubborn idiot," muttered Angel as he settled Lindsey onto the bed. Angel went into the bathroom to wet a washcloth but no water came out when he turned the knobs. "Damnit." He had forgotten the complete loss of power.
The vampire jumped at the sound of Giles' voice.
"Sorry," Giles apologized. "Is Lindsey alright?"
"Not sure," admitted Angel. "We were talking and he passed out." Angel saw a skeptical look pass quickly across Giles' face before he could hide it. "Just talking," Angel reiterated.
"I'm sorry, Angel. I didn't mean to doubt you."
"Forget it. Old habits die hard."
"Yes, well..." Giles cleared his throat and made his way over to the bed to check on Lindsey. The young man was still unconscious. There was a moan as Giles touched a particularly tender spot. Giles shook his head.
"What is it?"
"He has a rather large bump on the back of his head and here at the side," answered Giles as he brushed Lindsey's hair back on the right side of his head.
Angel whistled. "No wonder he was shaky on his feet."
"You should have said something."
"Lindsey doesn't exactly appreciate any concern on my part. I thought I might have imagined it so I wanted to check on him first."
"Well, I'm glad you did." Giles noted the dry washcloth that Angel still held in his hand. "I think we'd better get some water brought in."
Angel handed the washcloth to Giles. "I'll get the others to help me with the water. You watch him."
Giles nodded. "Perhaps you could bring some extra light too?"
They had placed a single lantern, a flashlight and a few candles in each room. They had more in storage but wanted to conserve the fuel as much as possible. In this case, Giles figured he could use some extra light to determine the extent of Lindsey's injuries.
"He never said a rudding thing," Spike stated. "How was I supposed to know?"
"No one's blaming you, Spike. We all know how Lindsey is," assured Angel.
"Is he going to be alright?" asked Lorne, concerned.
"Giles thinks it's just a slight concussion. Would've been fine if he had taken it easy."
"He set the pace, not me."
"Spike. No one is blaming you." Angel was tired of listening to his fellow vampire. He knew Spike was just covering his worry with his attitude, but it was startintg to grate on Angel's nerves.
"Not your fault. We got it. Please stop talking."
Spike glared at Angel but remained silent as he settled heavily onto the couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table. They were all in Lindsey's apartment, waiting to get a report from Giles regarding Lindsey's condition. Faith and Lorne were seated in chairs across from the couch while Angel stood at the window staring out into the darkness. There was a tint of red off in the distance and it drew his attention.
"Y'all should've told me you were coming. I would have set out hors d'oevres."
"Lindsey. You alright?" asked Faith as she got up and made her closer.
Lindsey backed up a step as she drew near. "I'm fine."
Faith stopped her approach at his retreat, raising her hands in a placating gesture. "Easy there, councilor." Faith backed away. "Sorry we gave a damn."
Lindsey frowned but refrained from further conversation.
"Might want to sit down before you fall down, junior, cause I think a good breeze would knock you off your feet. You look like hell."
Lindsey glared at Spike but the vampire merely smirked in response.
"How is he?" Angel addressed Giles, who had appeared from the bedroom just behind Lindsey.
"Slight concussion. Should be fine. He just over did it."
"So...do we have to wake him every hour? You know, to make sure he's not going to fall into a coma or something?" Lorne worriedly asked.
Lindsey dropped his head and released a heavy sigh.
"I don't think that will be necessary," Giles answered. "Sleep would actually do him some good."
"Well, Lindsey doesn't always do what's best for himself," offered Angel.
"Lindsey's right here," growled the former lawyer. "It's not necessary to talk about me, you can talk to me." Lindsey rolled his eyes as he made his way over to the liquor cabinet but as he reached for the bottle of whiskey, Giles cleared his throat.
"Alcohol isn't recommended."
"Don't you people have somewhere else to be?" Lindsey snapped, as he twisted the top off the bottle.
"We do," Angel agreed as he took the bottle from Lindsey's grasp.
"Hey. Do you mind?"
"Let's let Lindsey get some rest," ordered Angel as he opened the door and motioned the others to leave. When the last one had left, Angel shut the door.
"You're supposed to be on the other side," commented Lindsey as he lay down on his couch.
"Well, I would but I don't think I can trust-"
Lindsey glared at the vampire.
Angel grimaced. Trust was the one word he probably shouldn't have used. "I'm just here to make sure you get some rest."
"Well, guess what? I don't trust you in here while I'm sleeping, so leave."
"Alright, I'll leave...but the bottle's going with me." Angel quickly left.
On the other side of the door, Angel smiled, having heard Lindsey's parting remark. Hel didn't care how much Lindsey tried to keep them all at a distance, he was becoming a part of this family whether he liked it or not and family worried about each other.
Lindsey woke with a start. The nightmare had been vivid and his heart pounded rapidly. Searching the room with his eyes, Lindsey was relieved to discover that was all it had been. A nightmare. Shuddering at the memory, Lindsey slowly got up from his bed. He had no idea how long he'd been asleep but figured it couldn't have been an overly long period of time as he didn't have anyone keeping watch over him. The fact that he knew they cared enough, escaped his attention.
The lantern was lit low and provided just enough light so he wouldn't walk into anything. Lindsey took a moment to put on his boots, then grabbed the lantern, turning the wick up to increase the amount of light being delivered. Slowly, he made his way out of the apartment. He wouldn't admit it to the others but he was sore. Between them falling a level or two further into Hell and the dunking by the pankterak demon, Lindsey had aches and pains in abundance. His head still throbbed but more in a background kind of way than the full percussion section that it had resembled earlier.
Things were eerily quiet in this wing of the building and Lindsey's skin crawled. Shaking the remaining threads of his dream away, Lindsey continued thru the hallway into the community-living section of their building. He could just make out voices in what he assumed would end up being the library. It seemed to be where they all congregated the most. Sure enough, that was where he found the others.
"Well, well. Sleeping Beauty awakes," joked Spike.
Lindsey threw a glare in the vampire's direction but refrained from making comment.
"How're you feeling?" asked Giles, taking a moment to glance up from the books that lay open before him.
Lindsey shrugged. "I'll live." He walked further into the room and sat down at the table, just across from Giles. "Find anything?"
Giles paused before answering, "Maybe." Giles handed Lindsey the book he had been reading. "See what you think. Start at the second paragraph, left hand page."
Lindsey could feel the others' eyes on him. They seemed tense. Hesitantly, Lindsey took the book from Giles. After reading the text that Giles had indicated, Lindsey handed the book back to the Watcher.
"Well? What's the verdict?" Lorne asked, anxious.
Lindsey looked at Lorne then turned his gaze to Giles. "It's not complete."
"Yes, that's what I thought too." Giles took his glasses off and wiped the lens with the tail of his shirt. "Unfortunately, it doesn't really tell us where to find the rest of the text."
Lindsey watched as disappointment crossed the faces of everyone in the room. Taking a deep breath, Lindsey replied, "Wolfram&Hart." Lindsey just knew he was going to regret this suggestion.
"What about it?" Angel asked, suspicion tinging his voice.
Lindsey rubbed his temples. The tension had increased his headache dramatically.
"You okay?" asked Angel, this time concern edging his voice.
Lindsey gave a short laugh. Hot and cold. He just really didn't know where he stood with these people. Lindsey sighed, "Fine. Just a little headache."
"You shouldn't overdo things," cautioned Giles. "Perhaps you should lie back down. You only rested an hour."
Lindsey gave a slight nod, thinking better of it as even that small movement increased the pounding in his head. "Maybe you're right." Lindsey leaned into his hands, elbows resting on the table. He took a couple deep breaths to halt the sudden bout of nausea he felt. The room was quiet and with his hands cupped over his eyes, it was dark. Lindsey knew he should get up and return to his room but at the moment, this was bliss.
Giles looked towards the couch and Angel nodded in agreement. Making almost no sound, Angel drifted over to the couch and motioned Spike off it. The platimum-haired vampire rolled his eyes but offered no complaints. Spike settled onto the arm of the chair that Faith occupied.
"Lindsey?" Giles spoke softly.
"Perhaps you'd like to lay on the couch."
"I'm good." Sleep already tinged his voice.
"I think the couch would be more comfortable," prodded Giles. "Here, let me help you."
Giles was surprised when Lindsey offered no resistance. Settling the younger man onto the couch, Giles took the blanket off the back of the couch and covered the already sleeping man. Out of instinct, Giles felt Lindsey's forehead, frowning at the slight warmth felt there.
"He alright?" Faith asked, having watched Giles.
"Well, he's slightly warm but that's to be expected, I guess."
"So what was that Wolfram&Hart mumbo jumbo?" asked Lorne. "That place gives me the creeps." He really wanted to avoid it at all costs.
"Not certain. Perhaps he knows of a book there that would help us?" guessed Giles.
"Maybe," Angel agreed. "Lindsey's going to be out for awhile. Why don't we do a recon on the building. We don't know what dropping a level did to our passage into it."
"What?" asked Angel.
Spike drew a thumb across his lip before answering. "Didn't make any sense to me at the time, but Lindsey thinks it might have been two levels that we dropped."
"Two?" exclaimed Lorne. "That would put us at Level 3. You said at Level 5-"
"I know, Lorne," interupted Angel, "but we can't worry about that now."
"When should we worry about it? Because it doesn't sound like it would be good for us."
"One bridge at a time, Lorne. One bridge at a time," offered Angel.
"Not really worried so much about road construction, Angel."
Faith smiled as she watched Lorne follow Angel out of the room, still going on about bridges.
"Guess I'd better get ready to help Angel," Faith said in a half-whisper, not wanting to disturb Lindsey's sleep.
Spike got quietly up and followed the slayer out, leaving Giles alone with Lindsey. Pushing his glasses back down, Giles started going thru the myriad of books that lay open before him. Hopefully, he would find something and they could avoid going back to Wolfram&Hart. Lorne wasn't the only one who had reservations about the place. It had done evil's bidding for so long that the building itself seemed ominous. Giles had to wonder how Angel and his crew could ever have worked there. He, of course, had heard the reasoning on why from Angel and didn't doubt Angel's good intentions but obviously things hadn't worked out as planned.
"Well, for the most part, the tunnel's still good. We had to do some clearing but it seems safe enough. What about here, Giles? Find anything?"
Giles took his glasses off and sighed, "Unfortunately no, Angel. As much as I hate to say it, it looks like a trip to Wolfram&Hart is in order."
"Are you sure? I mean surely you haven't looked thru all these books?" Lorne almost seemed to plead.
Giles gave a shrug. "Sorry, Lorne. I don't like the idea any more than you but it seems the next logical step. Especially if Lindsey knows where to find help with this text."
"Speaking of the bourbon cowboy, where is he?" asked Spike.
"I sent him back to his room to rest. He seemed better when he woke but still tired."
"It's been a long day. I think it's time we all called it quits until tomorrow."
Everyone agreed and started to filter out of the room. Faith waited beside the table, tapping her foot, causing Giles to look up from his book.
"You aren't leaving, are you?"
Faith shook her head, smiling at the frown Giles gave her.
"Don't want to hear it, Giles. You heard Angel. We're calling it a day." She crossed her arms over her chest and waited for the argument to begin.
Having seen this particular stance from Faith before, Giles knew he was outmatched. Surrendering, he got up from the table and tried to pick up the book he had been reading but it refused to budge. Looking down, he saw Faith's palm firmly planted on the book.
"Good. Let's go."
"I didn't think it possible. You are bossier than Buffy."
"It wasn't a compliment," huffed Giles.
"Was to me," smiled Faith as she followed Giles out of the library, shutting the door behind her. If she had a key, she would have locked it just to be sure Giles didn't try to sneak back in sometime during the night.
Watching as the last of the lights went out, Gunn spoke aloud, "So this is where you've been hiding. Let the games begin." Gunn had no doubt that the building was well protected. He could grudgingly admit Angel wasn't stupid and neither were his friends. There would be wards and spells in place and possibly even traps. No, he would have to attack while they were outside the building. Smiling, Gunn gave the building one last look before heading back to his lair. He and Harmony had recently holed up in an old townhouse not that far away. It was only chance that Gunn had been out scouting their new surroundings and had noticed Angel and friends returning to the building. He wasn't sure what they had been up to but now that he found them, he would pay them back for the injuries that he and Harmony had suffered.
Harmony had finally healed. With the lack of a blood supply, healing had been slow. They didn't seem to need to feed here in Hell but it appeared that the lack of food did slow down their ability to heal quickly. He had been concerned that perhaps she would never heal, but eventually she had. She was still a little weak from the ordeal but Gunn was satisfied now that it was only a matter of time...and they had plenty of that. None of them were going anywhere, anytime soon. He would continue to watch his prey, being careful not to be discovered. He was gong to take his time destroying Angel.
He had had plenty of time to plan as he watched Harmony slowly recuperate. He hadn't been able to do much more for Harmony than offer her soothing words of comfort. He had felt helpless and it stoked his anger further. The only release he got was the time he spent planning Angel's complete and utter destruction. Angel's biggest weakness was his soul. He cared about people and that caused him to do foolish things. That was where Gunn planned on hitting Angel. Gunn's family had been destroyed and now he would serve Angel the same dish.
Gunn had contemplated who to start with and who to end with. He now figured to make Angel watch as each of his friends died. He had thought to start out subtlely but changed his mind. He wanted Angel to know from the very beginning that he was behind the destruction of his family. The thought made Gunn smile. He ticked off in his head the options; Giles - Faith - Lorne - Spike - Lindsey.
Gunn's first choice seemed pretty obvious. Lindsey would be the least close to Angel. The others would be harder to decipher. Spike would seem the next choice but Gunn knew that Angel had a soft spot for the other vampire. They had known each other the longest afterall. He had seen the connection the two shared while they had all worked at Wolfram&Hart. The two vampires battled wills constantly but there was history between them and it created a significant bond. No, he decided, Giles would be the second to fall. Gunn remembered Cordelia mentioning that Giles hadn't really cared for Angel's relationship with Buffy and was glad when the vampire had headed to Los Angeles. Gunn nodded to himself. Giles would be second.
Third - now it was going to get harder. Of the three remaining, Gunn would probably just take advantage of opportunity. Perhaps getting rid of the slayer or Spike would be the most prudent. Lorne wasn't a fighter and taking him down would be easy. Content with his plan, Gunn stepped thru the hidden doorway that allowed him entrance into their new lair.
Gunn smiled broadly as he watched Harmony fussing with the decor of their new home. He loved her but her idea that everything had to include the color pink made him shake his head. She turned as she sensed his presence.
"What do you think?" she enthusiastically asked.
"Do the words 'too pink' mean anything?" he joked...mostly.
Her smile faded momentarily but then she shook her head. "Don't be silly. There is no such thing." She finished arranging a pillow - pink, of course- before turning back to Gunn. "You seem extremely happy. What did you find on your walk?"
Gunn smirked. Only Harmony would call scouting, a walk. "I found him."
Harmony frowned, confused. "Who did you find? I didn't even know you were looking-" Harmony looked closely at her mate. "Oh, you mean-"
"Angel. You found Angel."
"I did indeed."
Concern crossed Harmony's features. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
Anger flashed in Gunn's eyes.
"I know you blame Angel," Harmony quickly continued, "but I'm fine now and it doesn't seem like things end too well for anyone that takes Angel on. I mean how many people could take out the Black Thorn? And then there's the whole Marsoff deal, and Jasminie, Holtz-"
"Enough," Gunn growled as he grabbed Harmony's shoulders. He quickly loosened his grip as he saw fear flash across her face. Pulling her into a gentle hug, he murmured, "I'm sorry, babe. I'm sorry."
Harmony shook slightly but managed to whisper, "I just don't want to lose you."
Gunn hugged her tighter. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Is going down for the count. Don't you doubt it. They are all going down...painfully."
Harmony was wrapped tightly in Gunn's embrace and could only nod against his shoulder. "Okay." But even as she said it, she knew it wasn't alright. In the pit of her stomach, she knew this wasn't going to end well.
"Are you certain it's really necessary to move locations? We have this place set up now."
"Trust me, Doc. We need to move."
"Fine but I'll need time to get supplies in order." The doctor held up his hand to stop the protest from his younger companion. "It took too long to round up all these supplies. I'm not leaving them."
"Sure. Whatever," grumbled the younger man. "We'll leave tomorrow morning."
"If there is a morning," said the obviously pregnant young woman standing next to the doctor.
"Easy, honey. I'm sure everything will be okay."
"Careful with that. Last time a man told me that, I never saw him again."
The doctor kissed the woman lightly on the forehead.
Connor rolled his eyes. He liked the doc and his lady but the mushy stuff was...mushy. Ignoring the continued conversation between them, he got back to packing for their journey tomorrow.
As usual, Angel was the first one up. He had a lantern turned up in the library and was reading. He sensed Spike before the other vampire had even entered the room. Without saying a word, Spike flopped casually onto the couch. Angel took a quick glance up from his book then returned to reading. Angel could see that Spike had something on his mind but remained silent. After awhile, Spike broke the quiet.
"You think going back to Wolfram&Hart is necessary?"
Angel shrugged, continuing to read.
"Lorne's pretty worried." When Angel didn't reply, Spike continued. "Seems him being psychic and all, maybe we should listen to him." Angel stayed silent. "Not that I'm not up for a good fight but doesn't seem like any good comes from that place." Angel closed the book he was reading and looked at Spike. "Mark my words," the platinum-haired vampire added, "it's going to end badly."
Angel sighed. He knew Spike wasn't afraid of anything. In fact, Angel wondered how Spike had managed to survive as long as he had. The younger vampire had proven reckless on numerous occasions. The fact he was hesitant to venture into Wolfram&Hart increased Angel's feeling of dread. "We don't really have a choice. Eventually, this place will kill every one of us. We need to find a way out."
Spike nodded slightly. "Doesn't make me any more eager to venture into the belly of the beast."
"Doc, are you sure all this is necesary? We need to move light and fast."
The doctor gave Connor a disapproving look. "Exactly how are we planning on moving light and fast? We have a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy traveling with us and I am not leaving any of these medical supplies behind. We could need them. You might be super-human but we are not."
Connor relented. "Fine, whatever. Can we just get started?" He knew the doctor had a good point. A pregnant woman in her seventh month wouldn't be setting any speed records and the extra medical supplies could mean the difference between life and death.
The doctor nodded. "I'll see what's keeping her."
"Next time don't knock her up until after we get out of Hell," mumbled Connor sarcastically.
"I heard that," the doctor called back over his shoulder.
Connor shrugged sheepishly. "Sorry?"
The doctor smiled, shaking his head. The boy was good-hearted but a bit of a smart-ass. He had run into Connor not long after the trouble had started. The boy had been limping and was a little beat-up but still managed to save the doctor's life. Having never known about the demon world, the doctor had completely froze when he had been attacked outside his office. He had thought it an earthquake but then the demons had appeared before him. Connor quickly filled the doctor in on their reality. It took awhile for him to accept Connor's version of the world but with demons practically falling out of the sky, he soon had no choice. It was a few months later that they had run into her.
She had been struggling on her own to survive. The doctor wouldn't have thought it possible. She was so small and delicate but he soon learned there was more...much more, to the young woman. It had taken time to get past the wall she had built around herself but eventually he had. She had lost someone very important to her. He could tell she still mourned for the man. She had told the doctor a little bit about him but not much. She kept those memories for herself only. He didn't begrudge her that. He did hope that one day maybe she would let him in completely but for now, what they shared was enough.
Although he had been attracted to her from their first meeting, a pregnancy had been the last thing on their minds. However, seven months ago, loneliness and a need for comfort had gotten the better of them. Once the pregnancy had been confirmed, there didn't seem to be a point to denying their feelings. Soon what they felt in the beginning had become more than just a weak moment.
Connor gave them space and privacy the best he could but it was hard in this world to find either without risk of life and limb. Those private moments kept the doctor going. He would do whatever it took to make sure she and their child would survive.
Connor had come to him a few days ago with the urge to move on. The young man hadn't said much more than he had a feeling they were needed elsewhere. It hadn't made sense to him but Connor had done a good job leading and protecting them so far. They both figured they owed him the benefit of doubt.
Brushing those thoughts aside, the doctor went to find her.
"Are you sure I shouldn't come along?" asked Giles from the doorway. He watched as Lindsey, Spike, Faith and Angel checked their weapons one last time. He didn't like being left behind. Research was what he did best. He trusted Lindsey but knew that the library at the former offices of Wolfram&Hart was huge. The sooner the group got out of there, the better. He and Lindsey together could cover things quicker.
"Think it's best you stay here. The rest of us know our way around the building. We need to get in and out as quickly as possible," replied Angel.
"My point exactly," Giles repsonded, trying one more time to change the vampire's mind.
"We'll be back as quickly as we can," assured Angel. "You and Lorne hold down the fort." Angel turned to his companions, nodding grimly, he said, "Let's get this done."
Giles and Lorne stood on the porch watching them depart.
"I've got a reallly bad feeling about this," Lorne warned.
Giles nodded his agreement.
"What are we doing up here?" asked Harmony as she looked to the streets below. They really didn't look too much like streets anymore. They were torn up and full of debris.
Gunn pointed to a single story building off in the distance. "That's where he is."
"He being Angel, right?" asked Harmony even though she was sure it was, as Gunn had been obsessing over the vampire since spotting him the day before.
Gunn gave a brief annoyed glance to Harmony before raising the binoculars. He tried to note everything about the building and the area surrounding it. He smiled as he saw movement in one of the windows. Gunn grew frustrated as he was too far away to fully see what was happening. As luck would have it, a few moments later, a door opened and four figures moved outside. Focusing, Gunn could make out each of them. Spike, Lindsey, Faith, and Angel. Gunn smiled. "What's up guys? Where are you headed?"
Turning to Harmony, he handed her the binoculars. "Keep an eye on the building. If anyone else leaves, follow them to see where they go." Harmony nodded. "Just follow them. Don't engage," ordered Gunn. "Understand?"
"Engage? When did you get all covert ops on me?" asked Harmony. Gunn frowned at her. "I got it," she assured. "Follow, but don't engage." She finger-quoted the word.
Gunn gave her a stern look but left without further conversation.
"Don't engage," mocked Harmony. "This sucks." She pouted even as she brought the binoculars up to keep watch on the buidling.
Gunn wasn't fond of Harmony's less than eager attitude but he trusted she would do as he asked. He needed to find out where Angel was off to. Taking care to keep well back to avoid detection, Gunn trailed the group.
"Well, that was fun," Spike grumbled as he pulled himself up thru the sewer opening. Things hadn't been as open as when checked the night before.
"Must've been some tremors in the night that closed the passageway again," replied Angel as he followed Spike up into the building.
"You think? Your powers of perception know no bounds."
Angel glared at Spike but didn't say a word; a reply would only encourage him so instead Angel offered his hand down into the hole and helped Faith up. As soon as she was clear, he put his hand back thru and helped Lindsey.
"Well," smiled Faith, "looks like the gangs all here. Where do we start?" They all turned their attention to Angel.
Angel nodded. "I'll check the records department. Spike, the vault. Faith. Lindsey. Take the library." Without further conversation, they split up.
Spike and Angel walked side by side. The records department and vault were in the same general direction. Spike had been taking quick glances at Angel since they started down the hallway. Finally fed up, Angel stopped and growled, "What?"
Spike smirked. "Don't go getting all broody on me, you ponce."
Frustrated, Angel turned from Spike and continued down the hallway. Spike quickly caught up to him. "It's just...you sure it was a good idea to send Faith with Lindsey?"
Angel eyebrows raised.
"Don't get me wrong. The slayer's great in a fight and she's better looking than any of the rest of you, but Giles might've been right, don't you think? Research is his thing, not Faith's."
"Faith's not really there to research," Angel answered honestly.
Spike was surprised. "You don't trust McDonald?"
Angel sighed. "Yes, I trust Lindsey. He wants out of here same as we do."
"Then what's Faith doing in the library? Babysitting?"
Angel looked at Spike but didn't say anything.
"Ahh. Guard duty it is."
"Can we just get this done?"
"Does Lindsey know?"
"Does it matter?" asked Angel, getting frustrated with Spike.
"Might hurt his pride a little," commented Spike. "Thinks he can take care of himself and gotta admit, he's pretty damn good with that sword of his."
"Lindsey can get over hurt pride. This is Wolfram&Hart. Bad things can happen here... and usually do. It's just a precaution."
"And that's why Giles and Lorne are back at the hacienda."
"Satisfied? Can we go now?"
Spike raised his hands in acquiescence and the two vampires continued on their way.
Gunn watched from a distance as the group descended into the sewers. Now where are you going? Taking great care not to be seen, he followed as closely as he dared. When he came to the opening that the others had obviously taken, Gunn stopped. What are you doing in there? He debated on whether to follow them into the building but decided against it. He would wait for their return and if he got lucky, maybe he could discern from listening to their conversations as to what they had been doing inside Wolfram&Hart. Gunn found a hidden spot and settled in to wait.
The records department had been relatively in tact. Angel was glad for that as there were millions of records stored there and if they had been strewn about the room, well Angel was positive his mission would have been for naught. He hadn't told the others what he was looking for and they hadn't reallly questioned him on it. His mission was more of a personal nature. He wanted to check on the contracts of his friends. He needed to know that they weren't suffering in some Wolfram&Hart hell dimension. He wanted them to be at peace. Making his way down the various aisles, he looked for the filing cabinet that would supply his answers.
Spike found the vault door open. He crept quietly thru the rubble that lay in the hallway, cautiously making his way inside the vault. As he moved his flashlight around the room, he was surprised to find most everything in the vault appeared to be untouched. Spike placed the flashlight under his arm and pulled the folded paper from his coat pocket. He studied the drawing that Giles had made. Included with the drawing was a detailed description of what he needed to find. To him, it looked like some ordinary stone. Nothing about it stood out as special but then wasn't that the way of magic. He had learned a long time ago not to mess with magic so his current assignment had him a little nervous. Brushing those thoughts aside, he tried to recall Lindsey's exact directions on accessing what he needed. He hoped the process hadn't been changed from when Lindsey had been employed here. The former lawyer seemed certain it wouldn't have been as he wasn't supposed to know the codes in the first place. Spike thought it careless not to change the codes on a regular basis but Lindsey assured him the chances of the wrong person even getting close to accessing this part of the vault was pretty much unlikely. The fact that Angel had known nothing of the secret room in the vault reassured Spike that Lindsey probably knew what he was talking about. They might have worked for Wolfram&Hart but Lindsey knew Wolfram&Hart. He had researched tirelessly while he worked there and even after he had left.
"Okay. Let's see what you've got." Spike felt around the wall Lindsey had indicated would hold the panel to gain access to the hidden room. After several failed attempts and just to the point of doubting the former lawyer, Spike's fingers hit a hidden button and an access panel opened across the room. Spike hurried to the panel and began entering the codes Lindsey had given. With the last code entered, Spike waited. For a long moment nothing happened but slowly a wall began to slide open. Lindsey's words echoed in Spike's head, "You have two minutes after the wall is completely open and then it slams shut and there is no way out if you are on the wrong side." Spike did not plan on being on the wrong side especially since Lindsey had indicated any being, living or dead, still inside at the time the wall closed would be vaporized.
Spike had to wait until the wall was completely opened before the lasers that protected the opening would turn off. As the wall moved slowly aside, Spike studied the room beyond, trying to get a head start on finding the stone they needed. Spike spied the stone just as the wall completely disappeared and the lasers tripped off. Sprinting into the room, Spike headed towards the stone. That was until he was driven to the ground by a strong blow to his back. Rolling with the blow, Spike came up quickly and faced his attacker.
"Are you kidding me?" he growled. "Nobody said anything about a gorack guarding... how the hell can there be a guard? Half-pint said-"
Spike's comments were cut off as the demon slammed into him. Once again rolling with the blow, Spike was able to push the demon away from him. Looking around quickly, Spike grabbed the first weapon in sight. He wasn't sure what it was but the axe was impressive. The gorack came at him and Spike swung with all his might. The axe reverberated as if it had hit stone, causing Spike to drop the weapon. "What the hell-"
The demon took one step forward but then exploded in a pile of dust. Spike didn't wonder about any of it as time was obviously running out. He grabbed the stone, not caring that it burned his hand. Lindsey had directed him to not touch the stone but to wrap it up first. Bloody Hell. Without further thought, Spike raced back towards the opening, his sensitive hearing picking up a ticking sound coming from where the wall had disappeared. Spike dove thru the opening, feeling the swish of air as the wall slammed shut behind him.
Spike lay on the floor, almost breathing heavily. Good thing he really didn't have to breathe. At that moment the burning sensation made itself known and Spike dropped the stone. After midly cursing everyone and everything, he took the felt bag from his pocket and without touching the stone, manuevered it into the pouch. He looked at his burnt hand. "Bloody hell."
Faith followed along side as Lindsey looked thru the massive library. He had pulled two large books from the shelves but seemed intent on finding a particular book. Faith understood her job, as Angel had pulled her aside and informed her. She was there to protect Lindsey. She couldn't tell if Lindsey suspected since he wasn't one to show his hand on anything. She had tried to make small talk earlier but it only earned her a distracted "hmm" or some kind of grunt in response. The only progress she had made was getting him to let her carry one of the large tomes.
Looking around the library, Faith was amazed at all the books. There had been some supposedly magical books that would become whatever book you asked of it. They didn't have any of those books around now and Lindsey had indicated those particular books would only work inside the Wolfram&Hart building anyway. Faith sighed. This was complete boredom.
"You can go sit somewhere, you know."
Faith startled at the sound of Lindsey's voice. "I'm good."
Lindsey gave a short laugh. "Sure you are."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Faith was becoming increasingly agitated by the former lawyer's attitude. First he wouldn't talk to her and now he-
"Why are you here, Faith?"
She sounded indignant and Lindsey had to smile at that which only seemed to irritate her further. "Well, researching obviously isn't your-"
"Listen here, jack, I'll have you know I was the one that found Marsoff's little symbol thingy."
"Symbol thingy. OK, I stand corrected. You are a researching whiz."
"Are you about finished," Faith retorted. "We're suposed to be meeting up with Angel & Spike."
Lindsey released a deep breath. "It's here...somewhere. I know it."
"Well, maybe if you'd tell me what you're looking for, I could help."
"It's a book on the stone."
"Does this book have a name?" asked Faith growing impatient with Lindsey's superior attitude.
Lindsey smiled. "Uberntedngedrt etge neithernted."
Faith frowned at Lindsey. "How do you spell that?" she sarcastically asked.
"Here." Lindsey handed Faith the other book. "Go meet Angel. Tell him I'll be along shortly and that I don't need a babysitter."
Faith pushed both books back at Lindsey. "I don't take orders from you," she angrily replied. Faith turned and walked away from Lindsey. "I'll be waiting back at the door."
Lindsey rolled his eyes. He struggled with both books a moment before setting them on the floor. The least she could have done was take the books with her, he thought to himself. Satisfied he was now on his own and could concentrate, he went back to viewing the shelves. The book he was looking for had to be here somewhere.
"Nothing dead or alive would survive the wall closing..." Spike was grumbling out loud as he walked down the hallway. His hand hurt as did his back. So preoccupied with his troubles, he failed to notice Angel waiting in the hallway.
Spike jumped. "Nothing...except faulty info."
"The stone wasn't there? Damnit."
"Oh, the stone was there alright. See." Spike held up his burnt hand.
"You weren't supposed to touch it bare-handed. Didn't you listen to Lindsey?"
"Trust me, I had no intention of touching the bloody thing but the gorack demon had other ideas."
"Gorack demon? There was a gorack?"
"That's what I said," The indignant tone in his voice obvious. "Oh and he was a damn big one too," complained Spike, glad to finally have someone listen. "And he wasn't happy to see me. Of course, I was pretty surprised to see him too, seeing as how nothing was supposed to be able to live inside that secret room."
"He was inside the hidden room?"
"Are you deaf? That's what I said, wasn't it?" growled Spike. "Bloody hell, my hand hurts."
"Let me see."
Spike hesitantly showed Angel his hand.
Angel whistled. "Think we'd better have Giles take a look at that. Looks pretty bad."
"Looks bad? You should feel it. I'll tell you one thing, I'm going to have a few words with-"
The whole building started to shake interupting anything Spike had planned on saying. Both vampires struggled to keep their footing.
"We need to get out of here," Angel yelled over the noise.
Spike nodded his agreement and both vampires headed toward the library.
"Faith. Lindsey." Angel shouted as he approached the library. Just as both vampires entered the doorway, the shaking stopped. "Faith. Lindsey. Where are you?"
"You alright, luv?"
"I'm fine. But..."
"But what?" asked a concerned Angel as he and Spike struggled thru the debris on the floor. "Faith?"
"Lindsey. Can you hear me?"
Angel and Spike looked at each other.
"Faith, where is he?"
"I don't know. He was being an ass...I left him by the books..."
"Take it easy, Faith."
"It was my only job today and I screwed up. I'm sorry, Angel."
"It's okay, Faith. We'll find him."
"Tsk, tsk. Angel, you really shouldn't make promises you can't keep."
The two vampires turned towards the unexpected voice.
"At your service," smiled the former CEO of Wolfram&Hart, bowing slightly.
"We're not at Level 5 yet. You can't touch us."
"Well, technically, Angel, that is true. You are, however, in my house. The rules play out a little differently here."
"Where is he?" demanded Angel taking a few threatening steps toward the man.
"Ahh, ahh, Angel. Don't be hasty. Who knows what could happen."
The room started shaking and books began to fall from the shelves. They heard an uncharacteristic small squeal from Faith.
Angel took a couple steps back and the shaking stopped.
"Very good, Angel. And to think the Senior Partners thought you were a slow learner."
"Who the hell is this ponce?"
"Easy, Spike," cautioned Angel.
"William, the Bloody. What a pleasure," smiled the man. "If only we could have met before you got your soul."
"Seems to me, you've already met one vampire too many."
"Oh, these?" Holland Manners brushed the fang marks on the side of his neck. "These are from a slight miscalculation on my part."
Spike's eyebrows raised.
"Darla," supplied Angel.
"Second go-round, I'm guessing?"
"I see Angel has told you the story already. Well, then I won't bore you with any of the details."
"Actually, Angel was pretty light on the details. Bore away."
Holland smiled at Spike while Angel frowned.
Spike looked to Angel. "You really are a terrible story teller."
"I am not. That's-" Angel shook off the distraction. "Shut up, Spike."
"You shut up."
Angel turned his attention to the other vampire. "Really? Now's the time for this?"
Holland watched the two vampires argue, smiling the entire time. They finally stopped and turned their attention to him. "Oh, please don't mind me. I find it fascinating how the two of you managed not to kill each other."
"It wasn't for lack of trying," mumbled Spike.
Again, Angel threw him an agitated look.
"So what brings you all here? Might I assume there is a plan for escape being made?" When no answer was forthcoming, Holland continued, "What could you possibly hope to find here that could help you escape Hell?" Holland continued to observe the two vampires. "How are you doing back there, Ms Lehane? Did you reach Lindsey yet?"
Angel and Spike turned in the direction Holland Manners had spoken.
"Faith?" called Angel. "Did you find him?"
There wasn't an answer.
"What have you done with them?" growled Angel.
Holland raised his hands in a placating manner. "As you've already stated, I cant' touch any of you."
"Yeah but you also said in this building things are different."
"I'm flattered, Spike. You actually were paying attention. Very well. I still can't touch you...even here. However, I do have power over inanimate objects...such as books." Books started flying off the shelves. "Chairs, and even tables, oak ones at that." The tables and chairs began to fly across the room. Angel ducked as one table leg came close to his head. Spike wasn't as lucky as a chair smashed into his already aching back.
Angel pulled Spike from the floor and both vampires rushed from the room, the door slamming shut after them. They could hear Holland Manners call out, "Where are you, Lindsey? I've some more surprises for you and your little girlfriend."
Spike rushed the door. He tried with all his strength to wrench the door open but it refused to budge. "Well, come on then," yelled Spike. "Help me out."
Angel nodded down the hall as he replied, "It's no use, Spike. We need to get out of here. Save ourselves."
Spike looked in the direction Angel had nodded and saw Lindsey and Faith. He gave a look back at Angel about to say something but Angel put a hand up and nodded towards the library door. He then motioned with his fingers for Spike to say something.
"We can't just leave them here."
"Face it, Spike. There's nothing we can do."
"If you want to get yourself killed, go ahead. I'm out of here. I've had enough." Angel started walking away, urging Spike to make a final comment.
"Fine. Every man...vampire for himself. Let's go." Spike was soon beside Angel but the vampire indicated to remain quiet for now.
The two vampires slipped down thru the sewer access tunnel and found Lindsey and Faith waiting for them.
"What took so long, guys?" asked an obviously worried Faith.
"Had to play it up," replied Angel. "You two alright?"
"Great," came Lindsey's pained reply.
"I said I'm fine."
"Broken ribs, I think."
Lindsey glared at Faith but she just ignored him.
"Can you walk?"
"Damnit, I'm fine," growled Lindsey.
"Faith, can he make it?"
"It'll be painful but he managed the ladder pretty well. We'll just have to go slow."
Angel considered it a moment as he took a quick glance at Lindsey, trying to determine how hurt he actually was. After a moment he nodded. "Spike got the stone, did you get what you were after?"
Faith shook her head no at the same time Lindsey replied, "Got it."
Lindsey carefully pulled a book out from the inside of his shirt. The movement obviously pained him greatly. "This is the book I was looking for."
"What about those other two books?" Faith asked.
"They were in case I couldn't find this one."
"So you are replacing two ginormous books with one little, bitty one."
"Don't you know, Faith," replied Angel smiling, "It's not the size, it's how you use it."
Lindsey looked up, surprised at the familiar dialog. The vampire was almost laughing. "Let's get out of here."
Gunn let them get quite a distance ahead before coming out of his hiding spot. He hadn't been able to glean too much from what was said. He needed more information. Deciding to call it a day, he headed back to his lair. Harmony would be getting worried.