William Pratt, better known to friends and enemies alike as Spike, knocked on the imposing door in front of him, yawning widely. It wasn’t unusual for his boss and friend to call him in during the wee hours of the morning without an explanation, but he usually had some idea of what was coming.
Gunn, Angelus’ favorite lieutenant, and the only one capable of putting up with the man during early in the morning, opened the door for Spike and ushered him in, before moving to stand outside the door, giving the two men some privacy.
“What’s up?” Spike asked. Angelus, slouching in an exquisite leather chair behind an obscenely expensive antique desk, just like the profligate, poncy bastard he was, didn’t bother looking up from whatever he was staring at. He simply gestured for Spike to take a seat in the chair across from him. Just to be contrary, Spike spun it around on one of its legs and straddled it, crossing his arms over its back. Angelus gave him an amused look in response, putting whatever he was looking at in a drawer in his desk.
“Only you would dare,” he said, sounding tired. Spike shrugged. It was true. The head of Boston’s most dangerous, organized, lucrative crime syndicate, Angelus had a reputation that wasn’t exactly made up of puppies and kittens. Though he rarely got his hands dirty these days, a few months ago he had personally skinned a member of the Aurelians caught talking to the Italians. The Order treated their employees very well. They paid for their healthcare, looked after any legal problems, and looked out for their families. They allowed anyone to leave the business if they gave six months notice, no reprisals or repercussions. But in return, Angelus demanded absolute loyalty. And woe to any who crossed him.
Angelus was drumming his fingers on the desk, looking pensive. Spike had known him since he was seventeen, and the older man twenty-one. Eight years later, he was Angelus’ closest confidant and friend, and his most trusted enforcer, and, as his boss had just pointed out, one of the only people who dared give him any lip.
“I need your help with something,” Angelus finally said. Spike shrugged.
“Sure, what is it?” he asked. “Something…delicate?”
Angelus laughed quietly in response, giving his head a rueful shake. This was decidedly out of character for him, and Spike had to make an effort to remain nonchalant.
“After a fashion, I suppose,” his boss replied. “It’s something personal.” Spike prayed inwardly he was going to ask him to help hide Darla’s body, or better yet, kill the bitch. Still, he kept his face neutral and waited to learn more.
“It’s to do with a woman,” his friend admitted quietly, his eyes soulful and earnest. Spike kept most of his amusement to himself. Angelus, for all his iron-self control, could not bear to be laughed at.
“I have a hard time believing you need my help with a woman,” he said wryly. “I know you too well for that.” And it was true. Angelus, with his expensive taste in wine, clothing, cars, and art, was also something of a connoisseur of the female species. He’d had lots of glamorous girlfriends, knew plenty of high-class call girls, and had enjoyed the company of ballerinas, socialites, actresses, singers, and once, even a minor European royal. The ponce hardly even needed his wealth or power to attract women; his good looks were enough. On the occasions when he and Spike made visits to the clubs Angelus owned, he never ended up going home alone.
Nor, for that matter, did Spike.
Angelus was hesitating. There was something he wasn’t sharing with the class.
“No,” Angelus explained, “this is different. She’s not the sort of girl I usually go for, and not the kind who would be keen on me, for that matter, from what I’ve seen of her. She doesn’t know I exist, anyway.”
“So meet her, seduce her, and shag her brains out,” Spike interrupted. “When has that not worked for you?”
“I want more than a few brief days, or weeks, with her,” Angelus explained reluctantly. “And I don’t want to rush things with her, not at all.”
“So?” Spike demanded. “Do that, then. Don’t tell her who you are or what you do if it would be a problem. Ask her out and date like normal people. It’s not as though you’re incapable of it. What do you need me for?”
Angelus suddenly looked determined. “I need you to introduce me,” he declared.
“What?” Spike responded.
“I want to introduce me,” Angelus amended, “to your sister?”
Spike was stunned into silence for a moment.
“Huh? Buffy?” he asked, still stupefied.
“Yes,” said Angelus. “Buffy.”
“She’s my half-sister,” Spike pointed out, stalling for time. Angelus waved his hand as if to say this hardly mattered, but Spike remained quiet and thoughtful, a rarity for him. They weren’t especially close, he and Buffy, despite sharing the same father, and they used to bicker terribly, but Spike could admit to himself he was pretty found of her. He shook his head.
“I’m not keen on the idea, mate,” Spike admitted. Angelus looked like he was going to interrupt again, so Spike hurried to finish his thought. “Not that it would matter anyway. Our father would kill you.” Angelus’ expression turned black.
Powerful and cocksure, though he was, Angelus had no desire to tangle with Ripper.
“You can forget about anyone in the business, even you, setting a finger on his perfect little princess,” Spike continued, not bothering to hide the bitterness in his tone.
Rupert Giles came from an old, powerful, and allegedly corrupt family, but had, from a young age, been both rebellious and inconveniently moral. Wanting to get away from his family, he had crossed the Atlantic and moved to New York City, where he began a relationship with Joyce Hemmingway, Buffy’s mother. However, a few months into his relationship with the socialite, William’s mother suffered a mental breakdown, the first of many. Giles had been contacted with the unexpected news of his son’s existence, and forced to take custody. Joyce had left him to marry a wealthy young lawyer, Hank Summers, and young William had never quite been forgiven for ruining his father’s relationship with Joyce. His own mother had only been a summer fling, though she had not seen it that way. Still, Giles had been a responsible, if distant, parent to young William.
However, Giles hadn’t forgotten Joyce, and nor, as it turned out, had she forgotten him. A few years after her marriage she and Giles had begun to see each other again, once it turned out Hank wasn’t quite the fairytale prince she had been hoping for. But suddenly, after she fell pregnant, Joyce ended their relationship, banishing her lover from her life. However, Giles had still kept tabs on her and after a few years discovered her daughter Buffy was not, as she had claimed, Hank’s child, but his. Furious at the deception, he had cleverly inserted himself into Buffy’s life with Joyce’s grudging acquiescence by threatening to reveal all to her husband and daughter if she tried to keep Buffy from him.
Ironically, Hank turned out to be a shitty parent, so Giles was truly Buffy’s father in every sense of the word by the time she reached her teens. Despite their arrangement, when Joyce and Hank divorced, Buffy had learned the truth. At first betrayed and shocked, she had shut everyone out, but had eventually made her peace with her parents, and he and Buffy had gotten to know each other better around that time. Weirdly, Spike was very fond of her mother, and he sometimes reckoned Joyce had the right of it when she rejected Giles.
Still, Buffy had been an annoying bratty teenager at the time, and he wasn’t much better. However, though they had always bickered, they also backed each other up and went through the rough patches of adolescence at approximately the same time. When Spike, still going by William at that point, had stormed out of Giles’ New York apartment for the last time, he had even stayed with Buffy and Joyce for a few weeks before he got on his feet. They weren’t quite siblings in the classical sense, but they were friends, and he did feel a bit protective of her, though she could look after herself.
But he was always going to harbor some resentment for the favoritism their father had always indulged in. Giles adored his daughter, but seemed to feel no more than a sense of obligation for his son, and frankly, Spike was still bitter about it. Giles’ protectiveness meant that Buffy still didn’t know what her father and half-brother were involved in. No doubt she would have been floored to discover that her bookish father more or less ran the black market for art on the East Coast, and only slightly less surprised that her half-brother was a lieutenant for the major crime syndicate in the Boston area, which also had strong footholds up and down the East Cost. Come to think of it, Spike thought she would be more alarmed about Giles’ reputation than his, less violent though it was.
Though usually mild-mannered and genteel, Giles could be truly scary when angered. Any who dared draw Buffy into anything dangerous could anticipate a slow, painful death.
“I feel a bit protective and brotherly,” Spike explained, “And you can understand, you’re not the sort of man I want my young, mostly-innocent little sister with. The business and other women aside, you’re too old for her.” Seeing as Angelus was looking stubborn and resolute, he changed tacks sharply. “Anyway, she doesn’t know what Giles does, and has at the most guessed at some of the more innocent activities I’ve been associated with. She thinks he’s an appraiser and that I help my boss run nightclubs.”
To this, Angelus raised an eyebrow. “So?” he demanded, “She wouldn’t need to learn the truth from me then. I’m just her brother’s co-worker. That’s totally innocuous.”
Spike shook his head. “No. Just, no. Besides, hate to break it to you, Peaches, but she’s already got a boyfriend.” He shook his head in disgust. “Some Iowa-bred Captain-America type. Real wanker if you ask me, but they’ve been going out for two years and even though it pains me to admit it,” and it really did, “they’re pretty serious.”
Spike had a low opinion of Riley Finn, his sister’s boring boyfriend. He thought the boy – man – whatever - was dull, moralizing, obnoxious, and not nearly good enough for Buffy.
“Come to think of it,” he said, thinking aloud, “I would actually rather see you with her if it meant I never had to see that obnoxious little twat again.” Angelus jumped on the verbal opening.
“So introduce me,” he demanded. “Let’s see if I can charm her away from her boyfriend. I won’t try anything with her,” he said hastily, seeing the expression on Spike’s face, “but just give me the chance to see if she’s interested. If she doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with me, I’ll let the matter lie, I swear, but give us a chance to decide for ourselves!”
After hearing his friend’s impassioned plea, Spike had to admit, he was considering it. And not only because Angelus would probably feed him his spleen if he offered any more comments on the other man’s unsuitability for the object of his desire. The man seemed pretty serious about this. Although…
“How did you even meet her?” he asked, “or know of her, or whatever. She’s at school in New York.” Angelus looked sheepish.
“Alright,” he began, “don’t make a fuss. I was having you followed.”
“Oh goddamn you, you poncy fucker,” Spike began, “why the ever-loving fuck would-”
“It was after the business with Penn,” Angelus said, rolling his eyes with exasperation, “and since you wouldn’t accept help and sent the boys packing-”
“I was fine” Spike emphasized. He slumped a little more.
“Yeah,” Angelus replied, scorn emanating from every line of his body. “You were fine enough that the little old lady two doors down posed a threat to you. The pack of girl scouts you bought cookies from could have killed you, easily. All they needed to do was push you down some stairs, and with those casts, and the drugs, you wouldn’t have been able to put up a fight.”
Spike glowered at Angelus but let the matter drop.
Angelus leaned in over his desk, face resolute, arms folded.
“So?” he demanded. Spike let his eyes drift heavenward.
“Fine,” he said ungraciously. “She’s coming over for dinner on Thursday. You can come along. Don’t make it weird.”