The Downside of Elemental Dieseling

Author: Nickeltaffy

Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah…These characters are Joss's. I don't own them, never did and never will. Thanks for the loan, Joss.

…..

Chapter 10

As the elevator doors opened up, the occupants were taken aback by the churning chaos happening in the penthouse. A moment after Shirley had screamed for Spike, the women in the game room came pouring out to investigate. Some began to search for the little boy, while a few tried to comfort a frightened Shirley. Taras' men were uncomfortably scrutinized by some of the woman who wanted now where they had been when the little boy had disappeared. Mamushka bellowed for Taras who irritably appeared at the doors of his office wanting to know what was going on. He and his men were soon drafted into the search for the little boy. The adults were opening cabinets, peering behind furniture and calling the child's name. Everyone was so involved in the search, that no one noticed the elevator doors opening. It wasn't until one of the ladies in a bright Chanel silk blouse who paused in her search looked over and screamed.

Everyone froze as their eyes traveled from where the woman who had screamed was now pointing. There in the elevator, was the curly haired little boy they were searching along with two men. A slender man with a bruised face and in a wrinkled suit eyed the crowd, measuring the situation. Next to him with the child held across the front of him, was a monster. The bulging forehead, yellow eyes and sharp fangs all signaled danger. The monster had his hand wrapped around Spike's mouth while the other imprisoned his arms against his body. The little boy's tender neck was mere inches away from the dangerous fangs. A silence fell upon the room as everyone took in the peril to the child.

"Taras, my good man. It appears that there have been some developments since our previous meeting." Wesley coolly stated. "I hope we can bring resolution to this situation so we'll all be happy."

Looking frantically from the elevator to Taras, Shirley quickly moved toward her husband, reaching for his arm.

"Taras, give them what they want. Don't let them hurt Sonny!" Shirley urgently whispered, her hands grasping his forearm in a death grip in her urgency. Taras continued to stare at the man in the suite, narrowed his eyes as he brought his hand up to pull Shirley's hands from him.

The trio moved off the elevator as the occupants of the room moved back and countered in mass. The women were gripping Taras' men so they would not make a fool hardy gesture that would end up hurting the child. Nevertheless, there was a sense of ominous threat coming from the women, although no one said anything.

Watching the women's eyes dwell on him, Angel began to feel uncomfortable. There was a sense of menace aimed directly at him from the women in the room. His eyes flitted from the women over to Wesley as he shifted Spike in his arms. He cleared his throat uncomfortably as he continued to be perceived as a fiend.

Spike, on the other hand, was enjoying the entire spectacle. He was glad that Angel had a hand over his mouth, so he wouldn't have to muffle his smile. It pleased him to no end that Angel was being thought as the villain. As guardian of the people, being thought as a monster that would hurt children must be like a kick to the tenderest parts of the puffed up poncy do-gooder, Spike mused.

Wesley on the other hand was apparently nonplussed about the reaction of the women in the room. He kept his eyes on Taras, measuring his reaction.

"I believe we have something you want and you have something I want." Wesley reasoned. "I do think you would not want 'anyone' to get hurt." Wesley tilted his head toward Angel who snapped his fangs closer to the small neck held a few inches away.

"What makes you think that I care about that child?"

"Taras!" Shirley gulped as she pulled back to stare at him like a stranger.

"TARAS!" Mamushka exclaimed in

The sound of disapproval rang throughout the room from numerous mouths.

"Yes, it is possible that the child's welfare is not of importance; but, perhaps, there are others would disagree."

"TARAS!" Mamushka's low voice carried over to her son.

"Alright. What is it you want?" Taras sighed as his mouth settled into a firm line.

"I think that would be obvious. I want the Reliquary of Hjorlian you have in your office."

"NO! Absolutely not!"

"Oh come on, now. It's not like you're going to be able to open it up. You don't even know what the inscription says." Wesley countered in his snipped English accent.

"Taras, please. Don't let them hurt Sonny." Shirley pleaded in a low whisper.

Spike heard the whisper and looked over at Shirley's distraught face. He had only thought of this as a game; but seeing Shirley upset was distressing to him. He began to wiggle in Angel's arms. Angel tightened his arms around the small body in reaction.

"Taras, my son. You are a good man. This is only an object. You cannot allow them to hurt a child." Mamushka coaxed.

"Fine!" Taras grumbled as he relented. "Leave the child."

"I am so glad we have come to an agreement." Wes replied. "Once we have the reliquary, we'll release the child."

Taras growled as he watched the three people retreat into his office.

Once Wes had closed the double doors of the office, Angel put Spike on the floor. Spike stood there looking at his feet, not feeling the euphoria he had anticipated. Shirley's reaction was much more upsetting than he had anticipated. Once the lock on the door had been turned, Wesley turned to the others in the office.

"Well, that went well!" Wes stated as he rubbed his hands together.

"Yeah, I guess so. You don't think those women hate me, do you?" Angel nervously asked.

"I would have to guarantee it. You did apparently threaten a small child in front of them.

"Well, what if I told them I was just pretending…." Angel rambled.

Spike stared at Angel and then looked over at Wes, stupefied. Even Wes looked perplexed at Angel's need to please people.

"Angel, focus."

"Right." Angel replied, straightening up.

"There's the reliquary. I just need to remove the wards. Should be some lower class grade." Wes stated as he approached the table. He made a few passes with his hands and said something unintelligible

The air around the urn sparkled for a brief moment. Wes leaned over and picked up the reliquary.

"See? No problem." Wes calmly remarked as he placed it back down on the table.

As he and Angel looked at each other triumphantly across the table, the office doors began to emanate a strange glow.

"Uh! Something is going on!" Spike said as he pulled on Angel's trousers and pointed back at the doors.

"Wes?" Angel asked as he looked over at the doors.

"Hmm. It seems that someone can wield formidable magic out there." Wes peered at the doors that seemed to bowing inward. He held up a hand while grasping a charm around his neck. The bowing stopped but the glow continued.

"I don't think we'll be able to go out that way."

"Wes, it's ten minutes before the sun is completely set. Spike and I can't go outside until then. Remember, vampires?" Angel looked over at Wes. "Can we hold out that long?"

"This charm's power is limited. It will be close. I don't know." Wes looked from the doors over to Angel.

"Wes, we have to get Spike and relic out of here." Angel looked down at the table. "Where's the urn?" Then he spun around, looking wildly around the room. "Where's Spike?"

As soon as Spike saw the door glowing, he knew it was now time to get that pesky urn out of there. He went up on his tiptoes and grabbed the relic from the table. Once he had it in his hands, he looked quickly around. Again, there was his old friend, the air vent. Luckily, because of his small size, he knew he could squeeze through it with the urn and get it safely away. He was sure that Angel and Wes could take care themselves against a canasta club. They could at least rappel down the outside when the sun had set if they didn't want to go back through the apartment.

While Angel and Wes had been so preoccupied with the glowing doors, Spike had whisked the urn over to the air vent. Pulling the grate open, he saw it was smaller than the one in the living room. He would have to crawl on his stomach to get through it. He carefully pushed the relic ahead of him; trying his best to make sure it stayed intact. He made slow but steady progress as he pushed himself along on his stomach. Every now and again, he would have to periodically stop and push the urn ahead of him. The biggest problem he faced was that the urn blocked his vision in this small vent. It was so blockish that he could not see beyond it. He was not able to see the vent up ahead drop at a severe pitch. Spike stopped to push the urn a few inches ahead and suddenly it was rolling down the vent out of sight.

"Buggar!"

….

Fred was staring at the little red dot on the small screen she held in front of her as Gunn drove the black Mercedes SUV.

"Turn here!" She commanded the man behind the steering wheel.

"Are you sure that thing is accurate?" Gunn asked, his face wrinkled in puzzlement.

"Yes, now TURN!" Fred commanded, slightly outraged that her information was incorrect.

Rolling his eyes, Gunn turned the large car down the street of Tara's building.

"You have to pull in here!" Fred said looking up from the screen over to the building on her right.

Gunn did a sharp right into the garage entrance, busting through the thin wood plank that barred the automobile entrance.

"Wow!" Fred gasped then looking over at Gunn who was driving quickly through the garage. She ducked her head with a smile aimed at him. "Oops!"

Spike had pursued the tumbling relic down the tilted airshaft. He moved slowly down the grade since he wedged himself by placing his shoulders and legs crossways against the walls of the vent. He found relic where it had luckily wedged on a broken seam in the airshaft right before the juncture of multiple airshafts. Balancing his body across the shaft, he pulled the urn to him with a sigh of relief. His hands did a quick check for any damage on the relic. A glad smile appeared on his face when he realized the relic was undamaged. There was another airshaft at this juncture. He saw that it was level which was a big improvement over the current one. He pushed the urn over to the shaft opening, pushing it with his small fingers to make sure it was well set upon the lip of the airshaft. It was much bigger. He could see a large vent not too far away with fluorescent light pouring in. That was good! The last thing he wanted to do was end up getting a severe tan by exiting the wrong vent. He knew he had gone down several floors, but wasn't sure where he was in the building. Perhaps this vent led to a common area. He flung himself over to the other airshaft, kicking his legs. There was a moment where it looked like he would tumble down the vertical shaft, but his determination allowed him to ungracefully climb into the other vent.

He scooted along the bottom of this new airshaft with the urn in his lap with one arm wrapped around it. He got to the vent. Peering out of it, he could see it opened onto a stairwell. He turned and kicked the vent open. He climbed out into the bright white fire stairwell. Opposite of the stairwell there was a fire door. There was a narrow vertical window in the door. Spike couldn't see any sunshine pouring in, so the door must lead somewhere covered.

He pushed at the door but it wouldn't budge. There was a release bar that ran across the middle. He pushed at it with one hand while holding the relic with the other it wouldn't release. Finally, he set the relic at his feet and used both his hand to press the bar. The door opened slightly. Spike used his body to keep the door open as he turned to pick up the urn. With his arms wrapped securely around it, he pressed his back against the heavy door and used all his body weight to thrust himself through it.

The door pitched open suddenly and Spike staggered backwards into the garage level. At that moment, an SUV charged around the corner. Spike turned to look at it as it stopped mere inches from his nose. For a moment, nothing happened, as Spike stared at the shiny grill that towered over him as the car's engine continued to rumble. A wave of intense heat from the SUV engulfed him as he stood inches away from the front of the towering grill of the car. Then there was the sound of a door slam and the hollow noise of high hells tapping on the concrete as they came scampering around the front.

"Spike!" Fred exclaimed with an ecstatic grin as she moved toward him. She extended both her arms in front of her as moved to wrap them around his smaller body

Hearing his name seemed to break the daze, Spike was mired in. He jaggedly pulled his gaze away from the looming shiny grill of the SUV. He turned his head slightl and was horrified to see Fred moving toward him with her arms open. His eyes widened in dread as he shrank from the pretty woman. Talk about the last person you want see, when you're holding a vessel of doom and their blood can open it.

"No! No! No!" Spike yelled as he turned to quickly run away from a puzzled Fred.