As it turned out Buffy didn't need a stretcher to get to class Monday. Elbow crutches were enough.
Of course if the hospital'd had it's way she'd still have been under their white sheets undergoing a battery of tests. But she'd discharged herself at dawn the day before, hobbling out on said crutches just as her first visitors arrived. They'd looked at her, shrugged and then helped her to Giles car so she could make the journey home.
To her home, not to the mansion. Buffy had wanted to think for a few hours about what she was going to do.
Joyce had been wonderful. Or at least wonderful if you liked being smothered in maternal love. She'd been hugged and hugged some more till finally she'd pleaded. "Mom please, just put your ear to my chest and listen. I'm alive ok?"
"I know you are." And Joyce had gone back to the kitchen for more broth.
Now however she was entering the lions den, the world of the TA. And there were a lot of pissed looking guys lurking near the psych class this morning. And Riley was very much amongst them.
He looked really angry, probably something to do with being kicked, (literally if she knew Browne,) from the mansion that morning. If her orders had been followed he'd been given a used ten dollar bill for a taxi and a good idea of what would happen if he ever troubled her again.
But it wasn't over, she could tell that just from looking at him.
As she drew near however his expression changed. He was looking at what she'd thought at first was a computer game, his mouth open in shock at what he read there.
"Some kind of demon detecting gizmo?" Willow whispered. "Browne stole all kinds of things at the Arms, they had machines that lit up like mad when he touched them."
"So now they....." The couple paused as to let Oz catch up, he was book carrying guy this morning. "Either think their gizmo's broke or they know I'm human."
Riley started shaking the contraption. Till he looked up and saw Buffy smiling sweetly at him. He didn't need to be able to grasp what was going on, nudging Forrest he pointed to the machine. The commandoes stood behind exchanged glances and whipped out devices of their own.
"Donkey Kong sure is popular." Oz was burdened down with three students study material but he didn't mind. "You sure are the centre of attention Buffy."
"Don't I know it." She flashed the commandos her infamous sexy half smile, all she got back was scowls which made the smile grow broader. "I could get to like it."
There were a couple of minutes to class and since the Slayerettes usual sat down near the front Buffy decided she could tolerate the minor aches her body was still suffering from and stand outside looking alive and superior. The fact she was getting so much adult male attention only made the experience sweeter.
Being alive again was stranger than Buffy had expected, stuff that she'd gotten used to was suddenly new and not particulary shiny.
First there was breathing, an old bugbear that she had almost forgotten could be so difficult.
Ok, it came naturally. Her problem was the near hyperventilation she experience for two hours the previous day when she convinced herself she had to concentrate on doing it.
Second, checking your pulse. Sometimes it can be difficult to find and when you've not had one you tend to panic. This is particulary difficult if your checking it every quarter of an hour.
Thirdly food. Buffy had eaten like a pig the day before. She had an intense feeling of impending fatness coming towards her high Slayer metabolism or not. A campaign of diet and exercise was starting tomorrow, though not until after she'd treated herself to a whipped cream Angel tonight. It was after all her favourite prebed snack.
Difficulty four stemmed from three. Buffy hadn't had to use the toilet for seven months. It was amazing how weird that had felt.
She had gone to the bathroom to look in the mirror and say. "Hi."
And there had been two of her looking back. Two almost identical Buffy's blurring each other out. She was still doing the glamour.
It had surprised her to say the least, her vampireness had provided her with the boost to use low magicks. Changing her hair colour and convincing others that she had a reflection or a shadow. It had worked out okay and she'd gotten used to doing it but now she found that she couldn't turn it off.
So Willow was shadow spotting for a Buffy who's hair wore platinum highlights that weren't technically there. Every time Willow saw a reflection or a shadow that didn't ought to be Buffy was getting a tap on the shoulder and a pointing Wiccan finger. It was happening a lot.
Willow didn't mind though, in fact a fun possibility was opening. She's discovered a Wiccan group on campus weeks before and with Buffy's continued abilities she was now seriously considering getting her best friend to join, see if that might stir up the highly unmagical sisterhood.
"Come on we'd better go in." Buffy turned to do just that only to come face to face with the person she most wanted to see that morning. "Professor Walsh."
"Buffy I believe you've been in my class long enough to call me Maggie." Her voice and gaze were level there was no hint that she knew or suspected anything. And that feat of self control sent a shiver down Buffy's back. "And what on earth have you been doing to yourself?"
Professor Walsh. Professor Walsh of the on reflection suspiciously Buff looking TA's, almost all of whom had hit the dirt sporting Slayerette darts last night. Professor Walsh of not much information available about her on the net at all. Professor Walsh of "You're not going to try to tell me she doesn't know?" Giles was deeply suspicious. Buffy and Willow didn't want to be but were. She was their favourite teacher they hoped she wasn't evil.
"I slipped getting out of the shower Sunday morning," Buffy lied. "I'm not hurt that badly but the Docs said I should use these to help take the weight off my legs."
"I must say I applaud your attendance today Buffy." The Professor walked alongside her as she limped into class. "Many a student would have used such an accident as a legitimate excuse to skip class. I'm pleased to see such dedication in one of mine."
The crutch in Buffy's right hand slipped a little on the polished floor. Before Willow could move to support her friend Maggie Walsh without any sign of doing anything untoward took hold of Buffy's arm above the elbow. There was no facial reaction to feeling the normal temperature of the human body, but her eyelids fluttered and that was enough.
"Careful Buffy one accident a week is more than enough."
"Thank you." The Slayer replied just as calmly. "And you're right, I've been far too clumsy recently, but don't worry nothing like what happened the night before last is going to happen again." The look came through for a second. "Ever!"
"I quite agree." Maggie gently let her arm go. "Such accidents can be very distressing to all concerned. We must have a chat very soon to make sure we don't find ourselves in that situation again."
The Professor smiled coldly. "Oh and Buffy if you don't mind my saying it's nice to see colour in your cheeks." She raised an eyebrow at how deeply Buffy blushed through the light tan she'd gained. "You've been so pale we were all starting to worry about you. But since you're looking so healthy now why don't you take a seat."
A few students looked at her wondering what Professor Walsh had been talking to her about and others looked sympathetically at her crutches. Nobody screamed suggesting that the commandos had kept quiet. *Which considering the whupping their butts took was pretty much a given.*
She sat and sorted out her note pad and pen ready to absorb the knowledge but as usual her mind was elsewhere. *We must have a chat very soon, oh yes Maggie we shall, in a public place, with my friends watching, with guns!*
The Professor was part of it, but part of what? Part of what sort of conspiracy? Part of what plan. Was it for right or for wrong, good or evil?
Buffy didn't know yet but she and her friends were going to make it their business to find out. *Yes Professor we're going to chat. And maybe a whole lot sooner than you think.*
They sat around the briefing table in the deep man-made pit that housed the Initiatives research area, its armoury and the computers that linked it back up the chain of command. They wore their fatigues now, their civilian cloths laid to one side.
They still looked pissed.
Maggie faced her security team leaders and repressed a sigh. This was not going to be a productive meeting with the attitude these boys had brought to the table. *Still I guess it's up to me to make it one.*
"So she's human again." She looked around the semi circle waiting for someone to argue, nobody did. "A feat legend has it is impossible, but then we've had a lot of legend and impossibility so far this month haven't we?"
Nobody replied they just looked at their notepads or back at her. "The Slayer exists, so does the Watchers Council and so we must assume do a lot of very dangerous creatures that we had thought were myth. We are in a situation gentlemen which we may well not wind up liking."
"And on top of that we have this weekend's debacle." She rose and walked round her lieutenants. "In which a young woman, eighteen going on nineteen, took apart an elite military strike force assisted by a group of teenagers, some vampires, and a High School Principal. Not a good advertisement gentlemen, not good at all."
"She's the most kick ass teen I ever....." Forrest began only to be silenced by a look.
"Yes she is." Maggie nodded and went on. "We know now that in my class I've a person whose been fighting demons for nearly four years, killing hundreds of them. We have an explanation for why we, despite our best endevours, have only thirty captives in this research facility though it is as we now find situated very near to the mouth of hell."
"Buffy, gentlemen, turns out to be a super hero," she smiled coldly, "so I guess we'll have to overlook the fact you caused her so little trouble. But the question is what do we do now?"
"Arrest her and take her into Military detention." Riley's arm ached and he really wanted payback. "Her and all her friends, they're compromising national security by opposing us."
"Quite true." The professor stopped behind him out of his line of sight. "But they have a Congresswoman and a Senator, the Slayer and her human friends couldn't be held for longer than forty-eight hours under our authorization, and in truth Agent Finn I doubt we have a facility that could keep them for even that long."
"We could deport her Watcher." Riley countered to nods of approval from around the table. Englishmen weren't popular in the room.
"He has a legally obtained green card and a profitable business in the community. He has no enemies among the mortal populace." Walsh was explaining it calmly but Riley knew another such interruption would not be tolerated. "He is also the town and possibly the country's leading expert on the creatures we face, I think we need him with us not against."
"Any further points?" She looked round to see Forrest's raised hand.
"Girl boffing a vampire." Forrest had paid particular attention to that part of the chatter from the Watchers. "Her demon honey goes missing I bet she'd learn to behave."
"So we kidnap Angel and we hold him here." She gestured around the complex. "I think the Slayer is going to be looking for us very hard gentlemen, but there are varying degrees of look. There's looking out of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge and then there's looking out of fear, anger and a need for violent revenge. Which should we encourage?"
There was an uncomfortable shifting amongst the tables occupants at the Professor's obvious implying that Buffy could take down the whole complex despite what they might do to try and stop her. Time to motivate.
"We have some positive factors to consider." She didn't see positive in the faces that looked back at her but that could be changed. "We have discovered that a means exists to restore a vampire's soul, that would be very useful, allowing us to turn important vampires, weakening their clan structures. And possibly secure us expendable fighters in our war."
Unenthusiastic pens wrote on pads, the commandoes had preferred a world were vampires were just animals not members of a feudalistic society.
"And more importantly we know what a Slayer can do." She looked round the table again. "And where to get one."
"Ma'am I thought-," Grant began to interrupt only to be stopped by a cool glance from his boss.
"Not Buffy, the Hellmouth is something that we must make every effort to keep secure till we are ready for the kind of conflict it's opening might entail." The idea was grim, but had to be faced, Buffy would have to be protected till her plans reached fruition. "No I'm referring to Faith."
"But isn't she....." Riley got the look again, he was having a bad week.
"Three hours ago Faith was transferred by USN medevac helicopter to a secret medical facility at Miramar Naval Air Station San Diego. There we will investigate her DNA for clues as to her powers and do everything possible to revive her."
"Why?" She could see they wanted to ask, why awaken a Slayer who had conspired with a demon. "Our research here is into neutralization and control. Gentlemen let me assure you of something if I can control a vampire, if I can control a Demon, I can certainly find a means to control a Slayer."
"Faith will be working with us gentlemen." She nodded grimly. "And eventually like it or not so will Buffy Summers!"
"Will you bleedin' jack that it," Spike snapped at the car's passenger. "It's really gettin' on my threepenny bits!"
"Temper, temper." Browne lowered the demon detector that he was aiming at Spike for the hundreth time since they'd got back to LA. "I'm just trying it out old son. No use us havin' all this expensive new kit if we don't know how it works is there?"
"True," Spike began to explain, a dangerous calm in his voice. "But you know I'm a demon, I was a demon when we got in the car and I'm still a demon now. All you're doing is wearin' out the bleedin' batteries. And what that means is that when our unlives 'ang in the balance and we need that thing it won't bloody work will it?"
"I see." Browne clicked the offswitch and put the device back in the pocket of the brown leather coat he was wearing. "Like that is it, love life goes tits up so you take it out on your mates." He heard a growl but just shrugged in response. "But no don't let it worry you, I'm a big vampire I can take it. You let it out mate it, doesn't do to let it all get bottled up I've always said....."
Spike scowled and concentrated on his driving, he was down in the dumps and had every reason to be so.
Buffy hadn't rung, and she'd let him leave town without making any effort to see him. *It was the demoness.*
But it couldn't have been, the way she'd looked at him had been pure Buffy. She wanted him he knew she did, but would her conscience let her?
He smirked just a little, now there was a potentially very embarrassed vampire. *Who'd 'ave thought he could be so absentminded.*
He had forgotten about Jason in his panic over Buffy, it had been eight o'clock the following night before recollection had come to him and by then the crypt was bare.
"Well he's your responsibility," he'd informed his grinning Childe as they stood facing each other over the mangled remains of what had once been a Watcher. "Which means you get to spend as many nights as it takes hunting round Sunnydale till you stake him."
"Yeah, right." Spike turned and headed for the crypt door. "Sorry Angel but I've an unlife to get on with, you can look for him if you like you mate. Not that you'll find him though."
"Why's that?" Morphed Master vampires can move fast, Angel was standing in the doorway before Spike reached it. "Have you got something you need to tell me?"
"My Childer obey orders." Spike looked relaxed but he was more than ready to rip off Angel's arms if he started anything. "Which means that our new friend was leaving town an hour ago at least and heading East. If he found a sunproof vehicle you might find him in Palm Springs tomorrow night. After that it depends how far you want to chase him."
"Where's he going?!" The menace was clear there would be violence if the answer wasn't to Angel's liking.
"Back to the old country." Spike saw the penny drop and smiled even wider. "Do you get it now?"
"He knows their faces, he knows where they live, he knows their security procedures and routines." Angel raised his fists threateningly. "You've sent back a weapon to destroy the whole Council."
"Piffle." Spike stepped back though and morphed himself. "He's one vampire, they're demon hunters. I doubt he'll get more than half the Council before they off him."
"Do you really want those buggers turnin' up here every couple of months trying to kidnap our girl?" Spike pointed at his own chest with a thumb. "What I've done is given the buggers a distraction, somethin' to take their minds off Sunnydale for a while."
"It's certainly likely to do that." Angel pictured what could happen once Spike's fledgling got to work. There might be wholesale changes at the top, and a person who was currently on the outside might find things had changed to the extent that they would be welcomed back on their own terms. "Ok but if this goes wrong, Spike, you're taking the fall, not Buffy."
"I understand." He had understood. He had understood that despite the soul his Sire still grasped the fact that sometimes evil must be fought with evil. "And now if you don't mind some of us 'ave work to do."
Angel had stepped back and Spike had gone off to drag Browne out of Willies for the long drive home.
Well here they were now, driving in an unfamiliar motor through one of the more upmarket areas of LA heading for a meeting.
Cordelia had seemed pleased to see them. Her smile had broadened considerably more on her being told that the company had a new recruit who would be joining them as soon as Doyle had arranged accommodations for him.
"Wesley!" Doyle and Browne had exchanged looks at how happy she seemed at the news. "Coming here to work with us, gee that's great, it's kind of time we had someone with a touch of class in this organization."
"True." Spike shrugged as he headed down to the basement for a change of clothing. "Bloody pity that he's such a wanker though."
Browne stood there grinning his 'Hullo Cordelia', grin. She looked him up and down, pleased to see that he was making more of an effort style wise and fully aware that it was for her benefit. "Sunnydale problem solved?"
"Yes luv, it's all sorted."
"Good." She sat on the edge of her desk. "And how is dear Buffy? Still giving her friends wiggins that will scar them for eternity?"
"No she's..." He paused remembering how long Cordelia had bitched on about what had happened to her in the tunnels. "Over that now."
"Good cause when I finally get fame and fortune I'm going to be spending it all on therapy thanks to little Miss Suddenly Vampire." All in all though things weren't that bad. "I've had a great time while you were away."
"Oh yeah?" Browne didn't like the sound of that, she'd been given sanctuary at the Gelfman's and if that was one thing Browne didn't trust it was someone with more money than him. "Sol treat you okay did he?"
"He's sweet, and he has more nephews than you can shake a stick at." She smiled at the looks of consternation she created on her chief suitors faces. "They're doctors and lawyers and movie people and they were all so nice. I hope you guys appreciate the sacrifice I'm making coming back to work for crummy old you."
"Oh we appreciate it Cordelia don't think we don't." Doyle nodded enthusiastically as he pictured how Cordie must have mingled. "Interesting jobs those guys have, it proves I guess that not everyone can be involved in world saving, sacrificing their happiness for the common good. Can they Browne?"
"Eh?" Browne had been busy considering mass murder and was liking the idea. "Oh no I suppose not."
Cordelia just smiled and sat back behind her desk. Actually her week had been dull as hell, trapped with a bunch of guys who though handsome had none of the personality and fire of her work mates. *I can't believe I'm liking poor people and vampires more than handsome rich guys! Oooh, that Buffy has so much to answer for!*
Well now the two vampires were off to meet their chief client and benefactor. He had sorted out their LAPD problem and they couldn't wait to hear how.
The lights of the huge steel and glass structure they were approaching burned brightly in the LA night, the lot was suspiciously empty though, the only vehicles present being Sol Gelfman's limo and the large black jeeps his security men drove in. And with the number of enemies the producer had accumulated in the underworld, dead and undead, that was a lot of guards.
Two men stepped into the path of the slow moving car. They wore expensive looking suits under long raincoats. Their hands rested on bulges under the material. The two vampires knew what was there, Glock 9mm pistols loaded with hollow point bullets machined to take wooden tips. Spike stopped the car and waited for the film producers head of security to clear them through.
He emerged from the shadows, a briefcase in his hand, it hung heavily, hardly surprising considering the automatic weapon it contained. All Reuben Jones had to do to get at the weapon was press a button on the handle and the case would drop open, the vampires had witnessed him get the submachine gun into action in two seconds on the range.
"Sorry bout the wheels Reuben," Spike explained winding down the window as the bodyguard drew near. "Other car's in the shop if you were expecting me to be in it."
"It's no problem." The hand signal was almost unnoticable but Spike knew that behind him and to his left two heavily armed marksmen had just taken their fingers off triggers. "How you boys been keepin'?"
"Very well Sarge." Browne had been delighted to find out that Reuben was a former First Sergeant in the 101st and as such treated him with a good deal of respect. "We miss anything?"
"Guys got whacked, vamps got burned, guy got caught tryin' to sell faked pictures of two of the studios teen starlets getting down to it, and I mean it, and got his balls cut off." Reuben shrugged. "It's been a slow week."
"Faked?" Spike raised an eyebrow speculatively.
"Faked!" Reuben replied with emphasis. "Or at least that's what the lie detector test they took said. Boss believes 'em that's what counts."
"The h'unadulterated fuckin' cheek of it." Browne muttered as he got out of the car. "In my day you wanted to lead some girl astray you put some effort into it, you worked on her for a few weeks, got on 'er good side, told 'er she was fuckin' gorgeous and ask'd 'er 'ad she ever thought of modellin'. Then you talked 'er into takin' off 'er clothes. But now you get these blokes what will make pictures of a girl whose cept 'erself nice and make out she's done all sorts....."
He stopped realizing that he was being stared at. "What you all lookin' at then?"
"You, and don't tell me you never?" Spike was open mouthed with shock. "You mucky mucky man you I can't believe that...."
"Leave it out!" Browne replied aggrieved at the implication. "You do remember Soho in the Sixties an Seventies don't ya? You couldn't chuck a brick in the street without 'ittin' a pornographer. Rabbitin' on about 'ow they worked it so I got some cards printed didn't I. I'd dish em out to girls and if they turned up to get their picture took, I'd bite em and drain em and chuck 'em in the Thames." He frowned around him at his so called friends. "I mean to say, what the fuck do you think I am? Some kind of perv?"
"We're so sorry, 'ow cold we 'ave doubted you?" Spike laughed. "I think it's your face, it just 'as that look about it."
Reuben shook his head as the two vampires entered into another round of what seemed to him a hate-hate relationship. "Come on guys, the Boss is up on the VIP range waiting on you."
"We'll 'e started it," Browne complained as he headed for the office to get clubs. Reuben and his men closed in behind them making sure that nobody was tailing them.
After the ranges shop manager Mr Sanchez had equipped the vamps with golf clubs they walked quickly up the steps to the ranges upper level. Browne taking a few practice swings as he walked along.
"Great game golf, they issue you with lethal weapons to play it with." A swing from shoulder height came to within an inch of killing a plate glass window. "Now we're rich maybe we should take it up?"
"Oh that's a great idea mate." Spike laughed again, his humour coming back despite the Buffy fears. "A nice sunny morning out on the greens, wind in our hair, other punters on the course complaining about the lumps of ash that are blowing in their eyes. Course that won't bother us cause we'll be the ash."
"We could play at night." Browne spoke with the fervor of a new convert. "With luminous balls."
"Luminous balls!" The blond sneered. "You play with whatever balls you like mate as long as you don't try paintin' mine." He looked sternly at his co-worker. "Now you behave round Sol you hear, I don't want any of yer usual titting about!"
"Are you suggesting that I don't know 'ow to conduct a business meetin?" Real heat was slipping into the vetala's voice. "That's rich comin' from the vamp what never grew up, I mean to say......"
They reached the top level and for once Browne shut up.
Sol was stood out on his own, swinging his iron, waiting for the vamps to arrive. He had on his usual casual golfing attire, scruffy white shoes, old socks, a faded pair of grey pants and a red and blue Hawaiian shirt, a white cap finished the outfit off. His mouth contained in direct contravention of his doctors, the Surgeon General and the President's instructions a very fat Havana cigar. But despite his direct infringement of California State and Federal laws, he seemed a happy guy.
The seating behind him contained a couple of aides, a daughter of a third cousin who was handling the paperwork side of the business and another half dozen of the heavy mob.
He smiled as he heard his main men from the undead inside track approaching. "Hey you undead goyishe shitheels I thought you was never gonna get here. How's business?"
"Never better Sol." Spike smiled. "Slayer's problems are all sorted if you catch my drift."
"Hey that's good news." Sol got the low down on everything these days. "I still ain't found a girl for those action pictures, think if I send her the scripts she'd be interested? Elfin blonds are big these days."
"You could try boss." Spike pictured Buffy spending six months in LA but knew it wouldn't happen. "But I think it'd be 'sacred duty yadda, yadda.'"
"Excuse me guv but do you have this whole place to yourself?" The vetala was looking round curious at all the empty stands. "That must cost a few bob to arrange."
"I own it so it's not that hard." Sol took a swing and sent a ball down the range. "Hey why don't you boychiks try playing stead of just gassin' here."
Brown set a ball on the ground and looked down range, his eyes lit up at what he saw and he swung with his full strength smiling contentedly as the ball disappeared into the night.
"You know mate." Spike explained casually. "That bloke on the cart is there to gather the balls up not to use as a target. You're supposed to aim at the flag on a stick!"
"Oh." The vetala shrugged showing no embarrassment. "Now I get ya."
"At that kind of distance I don't suppose he's hurt too bad." Sol saw the guy get up and went back to the conversation. "Anyway golf, it's a sport I like to play, and I'm a member of the most exclusive club in LA. Ain't that right Reuben?"
"Damn straight," the bodyguard replied forcefully.
"It took legal action right the way through to the Supreme court to get me in there, but hey it was a million well spent cause now I got access to all the big names." Sol smiled at his Chief of Security who he knew considered him a hero for his legal stand.
Back in his teens, Reuben had been turned down forcibly from a caddying job there for being too black, just like Sol had been turned down for membership for being Jewish. The fact that Reuben now got to play rounds there with his boss just served to make the situation sweeter. "And it's amazing what people will put up with to get to play that course."
He sent another ball down the range before continuing. "Take the Chief of Police for example. There's no fuckin' way his salary is buying him membership of that club. So of course when I invite him as my guest he jumps at the chance. Now tell me do you boys read the papers?"
"Just the sports page," Spike replied. "But Browne reads the comics too."
"And I trys the crossword," the vetala added unnecessarily as he sank a perfect hole in one.
"Hey kid you makin' me look bad here....." Sol reached into a shirt pocket and pulling out a cigar tossed it to the vampire. "Leave the golf and smoke that instead. Where was I yeah, cops, cops and robbers, cops who are robbers."
"Few months ago a cop gets caught trying to walk out of a police evidence warehouse with a substantial quantity of cocaine. The IAD pin the schmuck to a chair and grill him expecting he'll do the usual. Take the rap do his time and preserve the thin blue line." Sol smiled as he went on. "Instead though he rats out his brother officers left right and center."
"So now you got officers who've been dealing drugs, officers who've been taking scores, officers who've been killing suspects and planting guns on their bodies. The whole systems in the wringer and the FBI's about to launch an investigation into how many guys are in the State pen over wrong beefs that wrong cops set them up for." He shrugged depreciatingly. "So naturally I see this as an opportunity.
"We're at the ninth when I spring it." The smile grew crueller. "Look I say, I'm getting pressure to produce a series of new films focusing on this scandal. Films about police racism, police brutality, a film about a team of cops who are patrolling by night and hitting banks by day. You know me I say, I think cops are working class heroes but that image is tarnished, I tell him I don't know how I can stop this.
"He goes pale, he tells me if I can stop those pictures going out I got a friend for life." He paused as he drove another ball unaware of two enthralled impatient vampires as he cued up another.
"So you say to him?" Spike finally asked.
"That I was going to take over dealing with this undead problem he has, that the racist scum he employs in the Special Investigation Branch need to retire early. That William Sullivan better get himself gone." Gelfman dropped the cigar and ground it out. "And hey I find those guys are running even scareder than I thought cause let me tell you boychiks he snapped up that deal in a second."
"So Sullivan's retired?" Spike pictured allowing a certain lead-sapped vampire to pay the bloke a night time visit. "Oh isn't that sad."
"Actually no." Sol had suspected all along that the Irishman was untouchable, and had just wanted him moved. "I don't know whose skeleton the guy knows about but within a day he had a job with the Border Patrol. You guys best keep the fuck away from the Mexican border cause Sullivan is one grudge bearing Mick."
"So Guv you tellin' us we've gone legit?" Browne had been contemplating having to kick back to said grudge bearer and felt as though a weight had been lifted from his wallet. "We're gettin made kosher?"
"Hey didn't your Uncle Sol tell you he'd sort your problem out?" Sol gestured to his niece and she scooted over carrying two envelopes which she nervously handed to the vampires. "Check it out you guys."
The envelope felt full. Spike ripped it open and riffled through the documents inside, all of them made out to a William Everidge. "Everidge?"
"What do I know about English Gentile names?" Gelfman sent another ball off whilst his boys read. "You should see the one's I threw out, you got off lucky."
There was a PI's licence, a green card and a licence to carry concealed weapons. Signed by the Chief himself was a letter ordering LAPD officers to show the bearer every assistance. And wrapped in a band a batch of business cards bearing the title, 'Browne & Everidge Investigations' and finally a contract.
"Gelfman Securities?" Spike raised a brow. "An exclusive contract for twenty years."
"Oh look at them zeros." Browne had gone straight to the salary section. "Can we loot too?"
"If it ain't nailed down and it's vamp-owned, feel free." Gelfman held out his right hand to shake. "You take this job and you get the responsibility of making sure nothing of Hollywood's gets taken by vamps, I got a lot of people taking my word you can do this."
"We won't let you down boss." Spike shook the proffered hand. "We have Doyle and a chap who used to be a Watcher to think about too, are they on similar terms?"
"You vouch for the Limey and keep the Mick sober and I say why not." Sol shook Browne's hand to close the deal. "So you guys ready to work?"
"Absolutely." Browne looked at the zeros again. *Doyle doesn't think I've spotted where is sticky 'ands 'ave bein'. Oh 'ow sad it is that 'e won't 'ear of 'is good fortune till after I've sent a couple of weeks makin' is life a livin' 'ell.*
Browne looked happy, Spike concluded, from the devilish smile he wore. "Ok Sol what do you need us to do?"
"Katie Holmes flies in Wednesday." Sol's aides started packing their laptops knowing the meeting was drawing to a conclusion. "Spike you tail her at night. I hear rumours she has fans in the wrong places, old style vamps who like trophy minions if you get me."
"I know the type." The blond nodded. "After that?"
"You dust vamps but be ready for any thing I need doing." Sol turned to Browne. "I need a guy in Santa Clarita whacked, he's peddling smut of that type you know I don't like. I want him left with the shit he sells all over him so they know he's a message. Get the names of his customers if you can."
"Second job for you," he looked the vamp up and down. "You look like muscle Browne, and that's a good look for another job I need handled. I hear tell of some vampires are mingling socially at a couple of upmarket clubs connections of mine own. They ain't welcome there, you going to be working in those places making these guys leave."
"Don't worry guv if they're names not down they ain't gettin' in."
"Okay boychiks that raps it up for now." Sol nodded to one of the bodyguards and he swiftly moved to gather up his bosses clubs. "You be good, stay and play here for a while if you like, goodnight guys."
And with that the vampires' new boss set off for his limo, his bodyguards falling into step around him hands on their guns.
The vampires stood there for a while looking at the contracts.
"Fortune and fuckin' glory," Browne finally whispered. "We're made vamps."
"It's not quite a South Sea Island but I got to admit it's generous." Spike smiled. "And I'm gettin paid to stalk the lovely Katie."
"So." Browne dismissed that boast with a flick of his hand. "You miss out on a nice atrocity, and you never know what class of sorts might be at these clubs."
"Bet you wouldn't say that if it was Leslie I was followin'," Spike teased, he'd caught the vetala watching Popular a couple of times. "You'd be jealous as anythin', an who knows next week she could be..."
"Ooooiiee! That job ever comes up an' it's mine you bastard an' don't you forget it!"
"As if I could trust 'er near you after what I found out tonight. Christ mate for all I know you've got a camera with a bloody big telescopic lens...."
"What I've got that's big an' telescopes is none of your concern mate, but let me tell you if I got 'er naked it wouldn't be too...."
"Take 'er picture, please mate give it up you've no chance. And don't think I don't know what you'd do."
"A rose like that should be preserved, not allowed to wither..." Browne's eyes widened as Spike shoved the contract in his face.
"Have you read the small print?"
"Clause twenty three, absolutely no turnin'."
(Fade to black)
Thank you dear readers for your time and patience, Epilogue or Trailer you choose.
It doesn't end, it never ends, this constant battle against the darkness. Spike, Browne, Buffy, Angel and all the rest of the gang will be back.
And a lot happier that they are in S4