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A NEW MISSION

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It could have gone down so many ways.

If he had never dared to show up at his sire’s offices, his existence might have remained as miserable and bleak for the next sixty years as it had been for the previous three score.

If that stake had been driven home, there would have been a sense of completion, but a demon unfulfilled was a demon wasted.

As it turned out, it went more like this…

 

“You really want it to end this way?” Angel asked, determination masking something more complex and bothersome beneath the surface.

At this point Lawson felt more stupid and weak than anything else, but false bravado and a sense of not backing down before this demon, made him stick to his guns and ask for something he was beginning to realize he did not want.

“Sounds like a plan,” he panted, breathing in the scent that had been emblazoned in his demonic blueprint ages ago.

Just being near family again gave him renewed hope that this shitbox of an unlife could make a drastic turn for the better. It didn’t matter that the one he had needed for more than half a century was holding the makeshift stake dangerously close to his heart, readying to dust him. He was finally home. So the next words out his mouth were more for posturing than anything else, but he just didn’t have it in him to change the outcome now that he wanted to.

“Come on, chief. Give me a mission.”

Angel pulled his other hand back, grimfaced, distaste with what he was about to do apparent, but just as trapped as Lawson by the role he was forced to play.

A punch, solid and suckerish, knocked Angel into the wall, the stake clattering to the floor. He pushed off, glaring at the blond vampire who was staring at the youngest demon.

“Lawson.” He shook his head. “They’ll let anyone in here.”

“What the hell are you doing, Spike?” Angel spat.

Spike positioned himself between the bulky form of Angel and a now much more docile Lawson. “You get your jollies from offing your gets, is that it?”

“He threatened my people,” Angel replied, jerking his thumb back over his shoulder. Spike peeked in that direction, but didn’t move.

“Well, looks like employee incentives are at a new low.”

“Spike, get out of my way,” Angel snarled, lunging at the blond who sidestepped him, matador to Angel’s charging bull, while managing to keep Lawson out of reach as well.

“You’d do better getting them down,” he inclined his head toward the three perched precariously behind his grandsire. “Before someone slips.” He sounded full of impudence and snark - old habit, and all - but concern was there as well, open to anyone looking.

Angel deflated some, a visible thing as his shoulders sagged just a hint. He really did need to free them. With his luck a 6.0 magnitude earthquake would hit Los Angeles at that very moment, decapitating all three of his friends while he wasted time arguing with the irritant. Resolved that, for whatever reason, Spike was intervening on Lawson’s behalf, Angel nodded toward the vampire in question. “What about him?”

Spike clamped his hand around the back of Lawson’s neck, squeezing tightly while the younger vampire scrunched downward until driven to one knee to avoid the majority of the pain. “I’ve got your pup. Go be the bloody hero.”

Taking in the scene around him, Spike was impressed by this one’s ingenuity. He’d somehow gotten the drop on Angel’s lieutenants which was interesting. Making the brooding one dance to a tune other than his own slow waltz was always fun, but there were lines. Lawson crossed them, but so had he … often.

Whatever had happened, the why of it, Lawson had some explaining to do. Watching the tense line of his back as Angel freed his friends, Spike was sure he did not want to be in the younger demon’s shoes.

“Thanks,” Lawson muttered begrudgingly. Spike had eased up on the pressure once it was apparent that the vamp wasn’t going to bolt. He didn’t think his reluctant gratitude was for that.

Swinging his head around, Spike pinned the sailor with cold blue eyes and smiled. “Oh, I didn’t do you any favors.”

 

~~~*~~~

Down the corridor from Harmony’s desk was a small conference room. Unlike the one adjacent to Angel’s office, this room had no windows, no chairs, nothing at all, but fluorescent lighting up top, and a cold, sloped cement floor with a large drain in the center.

Since Angel began his tenure as CEO of Wolfram and Hart, this room was where he had engaged in executing employees that went against him in a blatant fashion. Only Spike had been inside this room and lived another day and he wasn’t talking about it.

Now Lawson held that dubious pleasure. Not that he was conscious to appreciate it.

Something about family, Spike supposed as he stared down at the mess of preternatural flesh heaped on the floor.

“Take him to medical,” Angel ordered flatly, cleaning the blood, what he hadn’t licked away already, from his hands with a warm wet towel. “Have them patch him up then bring him upstairs when he can talk again.”

Thinking that this was all a bit too Angelus-y for Spike’s taste, the blond spoke up.

“Not feeling too happy, old man? That fickle soul of yours is still intact, right?”

A wry laugh was the only answer Spike received before Angel opened the door and strolled out, leaving grandchilde and childe alone in the bright gloom.

More bones were broken than not and Spike didn’t like carrying someone so … wrongly mutable. He left the room as well, closing the door till just cracked and came upon Harmony.

“Need medical to come up with a stretcher,” he told her and she stared wide-eyed past him at the semi-closed door.

“So, he didn’t behead him?” Spike shook his head, his gaze stuck as her breast jiggled nicely. “Darn. Fred wins,” she pouted.

He frowned at this. “You all bet on what the brood master was going to do?”

“Uh huh.” She started counting off the ways on her fingers. “I said he was going to chop his head off, Wesley voted for fire, Gunn said stake and Fred guessed that he was going to beat him down and then feel bad about it. So she wins.”

“Wait, you all had a wager going and no one let me in on the action.” He pressed a pale hand to his chest. “I’m hurt.”

A moan filtered from the room behind him and Harmony’s eyes sparkled with curiosity. “I think he’s hurting a little more.”

Spike sighed. “Right. Call medical, Harm.”

 

~~~*~~~

 

“Okay. Why?”

Empty handed, Spike had found his way to the penthouse and Angel’s bar after leaving medical. Lawson’s recovery was going to take a while. The vampire was sprawled out on his sofa, head back, eyes closed, waiting for Spike to answer his succinct question.

“Why what, Pouf?” Playing dumb was one of the things, and there were many, that Spike excelled at.

“I was going to stake him. Why’d you stop me?”

Settling in the sofa, Spike exhaled through his nose, suddenly tired and seeming more like his age than usual.

“He’s not a bad one. I had to teach him to kill, but he never enjoyed it. He’s controllable. Useful. And family,” he added craning his neck to sneak a look at Angel. “Don’t have much of that left.”

Thanks to you was left hanging between them, the pink elephant that it was.

Angel gave him a questioning glance and Spike leaned over and scooped up the warmed mug of blood, downing it before his grandsire had a chance to think about snatching it back, conversation neatly diverted. Angel was too tired anyway, torturing offspring didn’t hold the appeal it once had.

“Gotta go.” Spike stood, patting his jean pocket for the keys to the Firebird that he’d lifted from Angel’s office while he was busy beating Lawson into the ground.

“Where are you off to?”

“Promised Fred I’d help her pick out something suitably British for Wesley.”

Angel sat up for that. “Fred and Wesley?”

Spike waggled his eyebrows and made his escape before Angel noticed his wallet was missing.

 

~~~*~~~

The elevator doors parted and Wesley stepped out, calling for his boss. The scent of the man drifted to Angel, smelling faintly of Fred, which he hadn’t noticed before. He picked up on it now because he was looking for it, but mostly he smelled freshly showered.

And full of tamped down anger.

“Angel, are you here?” he inquired again, taking a tentative step further in the vampire’s private quarters. He was always aware that no matter how Angel got along during the day, this was a lair and the watcher in him understood that upon entering there were inherent dangers.

Of course, he appeared to materialize from the shadows to the left of Wesley and the man started, reaching to push up glasses that were no longer there, a cover. “Oh, Angel, good. I’d thought I might have missed you somehow.” He glanced around the dark room. “I’m not disturbing you, am I?”

“It’s okay, Wes. I’m in for the night.”

“Ah, very well,” Wesley nodded as he followed Angel to the kitchen and got to the point of his visit. “I understand that the vampire is in medical. The vampire that tried to *kill* Fred, Gunn and myself.”

Angel expected this conversation, but had held hopes of putting it off until the next morning, or afternoon if he was allowed to sleep in like he planned.

“He’s in one of the holding cells, Wes. He won’t get free.”

“You’re being deliberately obtuse, Angel. His accommodations don’t concern me. The fact that you have a soulless member of your family, your own creation, under your roof, does concern me.” He searched Angel’s eyes for understanding, but was met by that annoyingly fathomless gaze. “Greatly.” Sighing, Wesley leaned against the counter and ran his hand down over his face before crossing his arms. “What can you possibly be thinking?”

He’d said what he wanted, which was sometimes difficult when dealing with Angel and his odd moods. Behind the souled front was a wild beast, so very far from untamed like the others wanted to believe, and Wesley appreciated the balancing act the vampire pulled off on a daily basis. Yet he was determined to speak his mind.

“It was Spike’s call,” Angel tried to shift the blame elsewhere and blaming Spike was fun. The ding of the microwave saved him from saying more, but Wesley was already amazed enough.

“Since when do you cater to Spike?” he asked, incredulous that Angel thought he would buy such a blatant lie.

Shrugging, he took a sip and gazed over the top of his mug, eyes penetrating Wesley’s. “I’ve been catering to Spike for a century.”

Another lie, in a way, or maybe not, but the best lies were always steeped in truth.

“Say this is to…appease Spike. What do you plan to allow him to do with this creature? He can’t be controlled in his soulless state and last I heard we aren’t dishing out spare souls at the door.”

Angel enjoyed it when Wesley got like this, all sarcasm disguised as intellect. But to the point, he was inclined to agree with his droll assessment and went to say as much when, “Spike says he can,” popped out of his stunned mouth. He frowned, suspecting the blond of some sort of mind control magic.

“Spike says what? That he can control him, or that the vampire can be controlled? And how would Spike know?”

It dawned on him that between freeing his friends, and beating the evil out of Sam, theoretically, he hadn’t filled any of them in on exactly what went down or how Spike knew the fledgling from his rising night. A bigger picture was forming in the vampire’s mind, as a few puzzle pieces slid into place. “Good question,” he lied. “I’ll ask him tomorrow.”

With that he downed the rest of his blood and turned his back to Wesley to wash the dish.

It was as effective a dismissal as any.

 

~~~*~~~

 

During his stint as a pet vampire to a bunch of spotty Sunnydale youths, Spike had reluctantly been dragged along by Giles to a shop in Los Angeles that specialized in European food imports. After discovering a mutual love for many items, the two Brits found a bit of solidarity in their shared homeland. On more than one occasion, the watcher had invited Spike over to enjoy some of what they considered the finer things in life.

Spike took Fred there now, advising her on what items were really good and what was mostly for show. In the end, she came away with a large quantity of snacks and teas that Spike was certain the other Brit would appreciate. And he charged it all to Angel’s card, which Fred appreciated.

After dropping her off at her apartment, he doubled back to Wolfram and Hart instead of his own apartment and parked Angel’s car back in the same space. Chances were he’d never even know that Spike had knicked the vehicle which made the gesture pointless really.

Taking the elevator, he exited on the 7th floor where the medical station was located, all the while concocting a way to get Angel to notice his thievery.

A young nurse, Amanda Payne, was just coming on duty and sat at the entrance. The blond gave her a smile. She had been very attentive to him while he was recovering from his surgery - blowjobs being therapeutic and all - and he’d been dropping in to say hello most days since.

“Hey Spike. What’s up?”

He sauntered over to the desk and leaned, peering over it at her. “How’s my pretty candy striper?”

She laughed. “First off, twenty-five is too old to be a candy striper. Second, I *have* to be paid to hang around this place. And third, what century are you from? You’re really telling your age.”

“Been alive to see three centuries, or unalive as it were. And since I don’t look my age, I should at least act it, right?”

Shaking her head, she giggled softly. “Like you do that either,” she retorted, her expression turning serious. “Say, are you here to see that vampire Mr. Angel had locked up?”

“If it’s not too much trouble, pet.”

She glanced around like someone else might overhear. “He called down right after I came on duty and left orders to keep him isolated. I don’t wanna loose my job.”

“Oh, piffle.” He waved his hand. “The big oaf is in his penthouse, busy working up a marathon brood. He won’t have a clue. Besides, I brought him in.”

She picked up the admission chart and raised an eyebrow. “Oh. So you did. Well go on back, but I’m denying everything if HE gets mad.”

“Ta, pet.” He strolled away walking backwards before giving Amanda a mock salute and spinning around.

The medical wing of Wolfram and Hart was not particularly large, but what it lacked in size, it more that made up for in technology. Spike flexed his fingers, feeling an affinity for this centuries advances that he’d lost while a victim of it in Sunnydale. With only 12 rooms, Spike’s trek was a short one. He pushed open the door marked 5 and closed it behind him.

Inside was a bed which was surrounded by a steel cage, bars thick enough to keep Angel contained, if needed.

Lawson was staring at him with one wide eye, the other swollen, purplish and shut. His jaw was wired shut as well.

“Hello Sam.”

He muffled something that Spike took for a greeting. The blond held up his hand.

“Don’t bother. Can’t understand you, not gonna try. Just here to tell you a few things about your current situation. So put your listening cap on.”

Lawson sagged into the mattress and closed his good eye, maybe finally getting that staking was not in his immediate future and Spike took the chair next to the bed for his own.

“See, Angel’s the forgiving type.” Off the vampire’s disagreeing grunt, Spike waved his hand. “Now I know he got a little fist happy upstairs, but that was just Da being Da. He doesn’t take to anyone fucking with what’s his. Not even me and I’m his darling boy,” he laughed.

“So if you behave, follow the rules, and there’s a hellhole full of them believe me, he’ll keep from staking you.”

Lawson seemed to let this sink in before sighing, resigned that whatever his fate, he was in no position to argue at the moment.

“Now, I’m not so forgiving.” Spike leaned over, getting right in Sam’s face, and spoke softly. “If you ever lay a hand on Fred, I will skin you alive, dredge your carcas in salt and rinse you in holy water…repeat as needed. Are. We. Clear?”

The nod came swiftly accompanied by a muffled “Yes.”

He sat back in his seat. “Good. I like to cover the basics first, so there are no misunderstandings. Now…” He pressed the call button. “Let’s see about getting you all fixed up.”