Six Slayers. Angel had talked of Slayers. Most of what he had said had hardly registered on William, as it had seemed to be of little relevance compared to all the other astonishing revelations, but he had gathered that Slayers were extremely strong young women who fought and killed vampires. Highly trained fighters, like the female pugilists he had once seen in his own time, and the prospect of facing six of them in combat was distinctly intimidating.
Harmony obviously thought so as well. William caught a glimpse of her from the corner of his eye as she recoiled with an expression of alarm upon her face.
Angel raised an eyebrow. “Okay, so you have six Slayers,” he said in a calm voice. “That don’t impress me much.”
Harmony made a noise somewhere between a snort and a giggle. A not dissimilar noise came from behind William, where Nina had moved to the bottom of the stairs.
“So they got the moves but have they got the touch?” Angel went on.
The sound that came from Harmony in response was definitely a giggle this time. Grins began to creep across the faces of two of the warrior maidens who faced them. Andrew’s expression was merely one of surprise and, William judged, of bafflement. Whatever the girls found so amusing was presumably as much of a mystery to Andrew as it was to William himself.
“It is no use, Vampyre,” Andrew declaimed. “Against six Slayers there can be no victory.”
“You can not be serious,” Nina said. “You’re casting yourself as Saruman? Wormtongue, more like.”
One of the Slayers sniggered. Andrew flushed and he raised a hand to comb back his hair from his brow. “Hand over Spike or suffer the consequences,” he demanded once more.
“You don’t get to make that decision for him, Andrew,” Angel said. “You don’t have the edge you think you have. Illyria could take three of your girls. I could handle two. Harmony could hold her own with the last one these days.”
“I could?” Harmony said. Her voice quavered slightly.
“You dealt with Tamiko easily enough, and she was a third dan Black Belt before she was turned,” Angel pointed out. “I have confidence in you, Harmony.”
“Hey, you have confidence in me! Yay! I won’t let you down, boss.” Harmony took two steps forward, returning to her position from before the Slayers had entered, and William saw that she was wearing a beaming smile.
“I think that I could administer a sound thrashing to the unmannerly young man,” William volunteered. His knowledge of the pugilistic arts was slight, but he strongly suspected that Andrew’s knowledge would be no greater, and William was confident in the abilities of the wiry but muscular and extremely fit body that Spike had bequeathed to him. He raised his fists.
Andrew’s eyes widened and his lower lip drooped. “Spike! You wouldn’t hit me, would you? I’m your friend. We totally were comrades in arms.”
“I seriously doubt that,” William retorted. “Even if it were true I have no memory of such a relationship. You are merely someone whom I have met on precisely one previous occasion. Your attitude towards people who have proven themselves to be true friends is not calculated to win my trust.”
“If they were your friends they wouldn’t be keeping you from Buffy,” Andrew said.
“I’m not keeping William from Buffy,” Angel said. “I’m just not letting you drag him off when he doesn’t want to go. Why doesn’t she just come here?”
Andrew looked down at his shoes. “It’s not exactly that Buffy wants to see Spike.”
“Giles.” Angel’s nostrils flared. “I knew it. If he’s planning on putting William under a microscope because of the Shanshu…”
“Hey, wait up,” one of the Slayers said. She stepped forward, but her hands were outspread in a conciliatory gesture rather than clenched into fists. “I got a feeling things aren’t quite like we’ve been told. This seems more like a kidnapping than a rescue and, hey, I don’t want any part in it.”
“Yeah,” another one said. William could see an odd circular scar on the side of her neck. It seemed to be a design rather than just a random injury. “Suppose we try talking instead of making threats? Hey, Spike, uh, William, don’t you remember me? Shannon?”
“Alas, I have no memories of Spike’s life at all,” William told her. “You are a stranger to me, Miss, although I deduce that you were a friend or acquaintance of my vampire counterpart.”
“You sure don’t talk like him,” said Shannon. She turned her head towards Andrew. “Cool it, Andy. This whole thing is a bust. Like we were supposed to drag Spike, uh, William onto the plane kicking and screaming? You didn’t think that airport security might kinda do more than raise a few eyebrows over that?”
“I thought he was being kept prisoner,” Andrew whined. “I mean, that blue girl was sticking right to him, wouldn’t let him be alone, like she was a guard.”
“She was a guard,” Angel said. He gritted his teeth and rested the outspread fingers of his left hand against his temple. “A bodyguard, not a prison guard. William hasn’t fully adjusted to this century yet. I didn’t think it would be a good idea for him to be wandering around by himself at a convention with crowds of thousands and so I asked Illyria to keep an eye on him.”
“And how come you think that she could take on three Slayers?” Andrew went on. “Only Slayers have the strength and skill to stand against the Vampyres, the demons, and the forces of darkness.”
Angel opened his mouth to speak but Illyria pre-empted him. “Then why did they not?” she snapped. “When Wesley perished at the hands of the sorcerer Cyrus Vail where were your Slayers? Where were they when vampires slew Charles Gunn?”
“We didn’t know anything about it,” Andrew said.
“And yet you are here.” Illyria folded her arms and stared at him. “You watch but act only when it suits your own purposes.”
“I’m only here ‘cause of E3.” Andrew confessed. His gaze was trained on his shoes once more. “I got hold of a ticket through a software supplier, ‘cause I’ve been buying things for the Council, and so I told Giles that I wanted to do some investigating of Wolfram and Hart just so that he would give me time off to come to LA. I didn’t know that there was something going down until after I got here.”
“Oh, is that right?” The Slayer who had been first to back out of the confrontation raised her eyebrows. “And the Council paid for your air ticket, right? I wonder what Giles will think of that.”
“I bet he says ‘dear Lord’,” Shannon said. “And then rips Andrew a new one.”
‘A new what?’ William wondered.
“No bet,” the other girl said.
“Hey,” one of the other Slayers put in, “I guess we’re not going to fight now. So why are we just standing around in the doorway?”
William opened his mouth to invite them to come in and sit down but bit the words off unsaid. This was Angel’s property, and any such invitation should come from him.
Angel threw his head back and laughed. “And for everything else, there’s MasterCard,” he said, incomprehensibly to William. “Very well, Slayers, I invite you in.”
“Way to go with the pop culture references, boss,” Harmony said. A wide smile lit up her face for a moment until it was replaced by a little frown. “Uh, should I make coffee?”
William would have preferred tea, but coffee was an acceptable alternative. The biscuits were unfamiliar, packets of ‘Oreos’ and ‘Fig Newtons’ instead of tins containing assortments by Huntley & Palmer or Carr’s of Carlisle, but they were tasty enough. Perhaps a little too sweet for his taste but perfectly acceptable.
Angel drank coffee but abstained from the biscuits. Harmony had a wistful expression on her face as she nibbled at an Oreo. “They just don’t taste the same as they used to,” she complained. “Being a vampire kinda sucks sometimes.”
Her words seemed to remind the Slayers of her vampire status and she became the focus of several hard stares through narrowed eyes. Shannon, however, merely smiled. “Spike liked cookies,” she commented.
“Oh, I still like them,” Harmony said, “just not as much as I used to. But at least I don’t have to worry about putting on weight. Not with cookies, anyway, it’s pig blood that goes straight to my hips.”
Nina nibbled at a biscuit. “Yeah, I’ll have to watch it with these,” she said. “I’ll call it a day at one. Or, hey, maybe two.”
William raised his eyebrows slightly. He very much doubted if Nina needed to concern herself with banting. He was more interested, however, in Shannon’s remark. “You knew Spike?” he asked the Slayer.
“Not well,” she replied. “I only arrived at Sunnydale about six weeks before everything went down and I was in the hospital for a lot of the time. Vi, Rona, and Caridad were the girls who knew you best and I picked up things from them talking about you. Well, they knew Spike, anyway.”
“I know you better than she does,” Andrew said. His lower lip protruded in a pout that almost impeded his ability to drink from his coffee cup.
“Yeah, but you get things wrong, Andrew.” Shannon rolled her eyes. “Rona told me about you telling everyone that Faith had killed a Vulcan.”
“What, like Doctor Spock?” Harmony wrinkled her forehead when her question seemed to cause amusement in the Slayers. “Uh, do I mean Mister Spock?”
Illyria put a biscuit into her mouth and swallowed it apparently without chewing. “A tolerable source of nourishment,” she judged. “This conversation bores me. If there is to be no violence I shall return to my simulation.” She rose smoothly to her feet, spun on her heel, and strode towards the newest of the machines on which she played games.
“Hey, that was supposed to be for work,” Harmony complained. “I haven’t even had a chance to get Office set up properly on it. Tell her, Angel.”
“Not now, Harmony,” Angel said. “It’s not like you’re using it.” He fixed his gaze on Shannon. “So Andrew gets things wrong?”
“Oh, yeah, all the time,” Shannon told him. Her attention appeared to be concentrated on Illyria.
“Hey!” Andrew protested. No-one took any notice.
“Just what is she?” Shannon asked.
“She was Winifred Burkle,” Angel said. “My friend and comrade. Until she was infected with the essence of the ancient God-King Illyria.” He swallowed hard and his fists clenched. “It ate her up from the inside and she died in agony. And when I asked for help…” He swallowed again, shook his head, and unclenched his fists. The last gesture appeared to take some conscious effort. “I’m not going to talk about it now. Just take it that it didn’t leave me feeling particularly well inclined towards Giles.”
“Oh.” Shannon pursed her lips and looked at her fingernails.
“What about Buffy?” Andrew asked.
“What do you mean by that?” Angel’s eyebrows descended as his gaze swung to the young man.
“Giles wants Spike to come back with us for Buffy’s sake,” Andrew told him.
Angel’s eyebrows shot back up again. “You have to be joking. I thought you said that she was happy with the Immortal? Moving on? You even mentioned snuggling.”
“Well, yeah.” Andrew squirmed in his chair and seemed to be avoiding meeting Angel’s eyes. “There was. And Buffy seems happy with him. But Giles isn’t convinced that it’s real. He doesn’t trust the Immortal.”
“Is Giles acquiring some sense at last, or is it just him being unwaveringly suspicious of anyone who isn’t fully human?”
“Giles isn’t happy about the Immortal having gotten to a couple of Slayers before we did,” Andrew said. “Uh, Caprice and Isabella work for him. I was supposed to try to get them to come over to us, but I couldn’t persuade them. He pays them quarter of a million Euro a year. Each. We can’t even come close to matching that.”
Angel sighed. “That explains a lot. This is one of those moments when I really miss Spike. He’s the only one who could have come up with a suitable saying for this occasion.” He glanced at William. “I’m sorry, William.”
“It is perfectly all right,” William said. “I understand that you miss your friend, and I am not he.” He directed his own gaze at Andrew. “I do not understand all of what you have said, but I think that I might venture a guess at what you desire. Am I to understand that your employer wishes me to visit this Buffy, who I gather was formerly romantically involved with Spike, in the hope that I will divert her attention away from an undesirable known as ‘the Immortal’?”
“Indeed you have penetrated to the very heart of Giles’ cunning plan,” Andrew admitted.
“And you couldn’t have just asked nicely in the first place?” Nina said.
“You seemed pretty set on keeping both of us away from Buffy when we were in Rome,” Angel reminded Andrew.
“Well, Giles didn’t know about Spike then,” Andrew said. “I had kept the secret with which my comrade in arms had entrusted me. I only told Giles after I discovered that Spike had turned human. That was just too big a deal to keep to myself.”
Angel’s eyes rolled upwards to stare at the ceiling. “Yeah, right. Okay, Giles doesn’t trust the Immortal. I don’t trust the Immortal. I’m not thrilled about Buffy being with him. But I don’t think that it’s any of my business any longer. You advised me to move on. Well, I have. If William wants to go with you then I won’t stop him, but I don’t want you and Giles using him as a pawn in some stupid scheme. The Immortal is dangerous.”
“He could just come back to London with me,” Andrew said, “and Giles will ask Buffy to come over, and we’ll see what happens.”
“Suppose we actually talk to William instead of past him?” Shannon suggested. “Hey, William, will you go to London and meet up with some of the people who you used to know when you were Spike?”
“I would like to see London, certainly,” William told her. “It is my home. I wonder how much it has changed?”
“So you want to go?” A crease appeared between Angel’s eyebrows.
“For a visit only,” William clarified. “I shall return here, of course.” He hesitated, wondering if he was presuming too much. “If you would like me to return, that is.”
Angel’s smile was enough of an answer to render his words superfluous. “You’ll always be welcome here, William.”
Illyria looked up briefly from her game. “If any sought to prevent you from returning to us I would wreak dreadful vengeance upon them,” she declared. “Your company is pleasant to me. You remind me both of my pet and of Wesley.” Her head swivelled so that she was staring directly at Andrew. “Take heed, wretch, for should harm befall William then it is you who shall be the first to suffer my wrath.”
“Uh, I’ll take good care of him, your, uh, Majesty,” Andrew promised.
Illyria did not deign to reply. Her attention was once more fixed upon the screen.
“I’ll look after you too,” Shannon said. “As long as the Council will pay for my flight, that is.”
“Flight?” William gulped. It was an aspect of the invitation that had not previously occurred to him. “Am I to travel upon an actual flying machine?”
“Well, broomsticks don’t work outside of Harry Potter, so I guess you’ll have to,” Shannon said. “Uh, sorry, I guess you won’t know what I’m talking about.”
“I have absolutely no idea,” William confirmed. “Just imagine! I shall traverse the Atlantic Ocean in a flying machine. Truly this is an age of wonders. Remarkable!”
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. ANGEL ©2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The ANGEL trademark is used without express permission from Fox. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.