Sunday, December 14, 2003

 

 

Silence. Darkness. Then, suddenly, a shrill, jarring sound, sending a surge of adrenaline through him; causing Wesley's heart to take a frightened leap and then thunder along like a stampeding thoroughbred.

The phone rang.


His hand shot out to grab the receiver. It was instinctual; conscious thought never came into it. Not answering the call was inconceivable. There might be an emergency, an accident, a family death, even an apocalypse.

"Just wanted to check if you're in. How 'bout you fix me a drink and I pop over an' tell you what I found out?" the caller said without preamble.

Wesley fumbled for the alarm clock and blearily stared at it. Blinked. Tried to work out the arithmetic of going to bed at half past two and being woken up at….

"Ground control to Major Tom?"

"Spike? Is that you?" Wesley struggled for restraint. In times of stress or adversity one was always required to slowly count to ten and then fall back on good manners, but at the crack of dawn?

"Course it's me. How many more people do you think tall, dark, and pompous asked to help with this investigation?"

"Of course I'm in," Wes said, referring to Spike's opening remark. "Where else would I be at five thirty in the bloody morning? On a Sunday morning?"

"Five thirty? Already? Guess that means breakfast, instead of drinks, huh? Oh well, hope you've got bacon and eggs." Click.

"Spike?" But the call was already disconnected.

***

By the time the doorbell rang, Wes was in the process of getting dressed. He had managed to take a quick shower—instead of the long drawn out bath cum breakfast cum morning paper he'd envisaged for somewhere around 11 or 12 in the morning. He slipped into his shirt and shoes and quickly tried to make himself presentable, even if only for a punk vampire.

"Rise and shine," Spike greeted him when the door swung open.

"What makes you think I'll invite you in, Spike?" Wesley asked.

Something in Spike's expression hardened, but his smile never wavered. "Was gonna appeal to the whole fellow countryman thing, but that never worked with Giles either so I decided to go with bribery." Spike said and held up a donut box. "He and Buffy always fought over the ones with jelly."

"Timeo danaos-"

"-et dona ferentes. Yeah yeah. I'm not Angel, I don't misplace my soul every few years, and even if I did, I was never much into killing people in their own beds."

"Very well." Wesley said, remembering that he could always revoke Spike's invitation with a spell. "Do come in, Spike."

Spike made an exaggerated step inside, mocking Wesley's caution, and shoved his bribe into his host's hands, before taking his coat off and tossing it into Wesley's arms.

"Nice digs you got there," Spike said, looking here, looking there. He picked up a framed photograph. "She's classy," he said. There was an unspoken question in his voice.

"She's dead," Wesley said tersely, and hung up Spike's duster. "Why don't you go into the kitchen? I'll be right with you."

Spike put the photo down, nodded and took two steps towards the kitchen before he froze.

"Just as I thought," Wesley stated, his suspicion confirmed. "I'd wondered if you needed an invite in your non-corporeal form. Apparently not."

Spike shrugged, not even bothering to fake contrition. "I bet you read my file over at W&H. How many pages was it, then? So I read your place; makes us even.”

"Would you like tea or coffee? I'm afraid I have to ask because your file, while extensive, doesn't cover your breakfast preferences," Wesley said, sarcasm almost obscured by a soft chit-chat tone.

Spike smirked and formed an L with his fingers. "A drop of milk, two sugars."

Wesley only shook his head and led the way into the kitchen.

***

Wesley couldn't muster much of an appetite at this early hour, but the vampire ate with great gusto, polishing off Wesley's customary Sunday cooked breakfast, consisting of bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and beans at frightening speed.

It evoked a sharp pang of nostalgia, reminding Wesley of the old days, before the Hyperion; when Angel had occasionally cooked breakfast for his friends—even though he'd never eaten with them. Not human food anyway.

"So, what was it you found out?" Wesley asked and switched the kettle on for more tea. He was skeptical because Spike's file hadn't exactly pegged him as a great thinker.

"Thought I'd check a few butchers, you know, see if they sold pigs' entrails and a few buckets of blood to a one-time customer."

"And?"

"Pot of gold. According to one Louis Sanchez the stuff was ordered and paid for via credit card by a certain Mr. Angel, some big shot lawyer guy who works for this lawfirm, what's it called? Wolfdeer and Heart or something," Spike reported, trying—unsuccessfully—to mimic a Hispanic accent. "And delivered to this address."

Spike produced a slightly smudged business card. Wesley took it tentatively, not wanting to leave his finger prints on it. It was one of Angel's cards. On the back there was an address, apparently written with a fountain pen in neat capital letters.

"I checked the address," Spike said, before Wesley could ask. "One of the firm's informants. Guess what address he delivered the blood 'n guts take away to?"

"Wolfram and Hart."

"The same. Parked his van in the basement garage and buggered off to have lunch for two hours. When he came back the goods were gone and there was this envelope with money instead." Triumphantly, Spike held out a torn envelope, of the kind normally used for paychecks.

Wesley stored the card and the brown paper manila in a ziploc. The forensics lab would be unmanned right now. He could of course get on the phone and order a few lab technicians to break off their weekend and come in to analyse the evidence, but after a moment he decided against it. Monday was early enough. After all, no one had really come to harm.

Wesley fished a jelly donut out of the box Spike had brought. "Looks like you've been busy, Spike. To what do we owe this sudden and uncharacteristic diligence?"

"Want my own office, don't I? And a decent paycheck." Spike took a hearty bite out of a cruller.

"You also want to stick around in case we unearth more information about the shanshu prophecy." Wesley stated, watching the man before him very carefully.

Spike met his gaze. "Can you blame me?"

"No," Wesley answered with a thoughtful shake of his head. "No, I suppose not."

Monday, December 14, 2003

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