Los Angelus, Summer of
"Stakes, check; holy water, check;
sword…check…oh Goddess, what I wouldn't do for a good fireball spell
right now." Tara surreptitiously wiped the palms of her hands on
her coat as she tried to regain control of her tripping heartbeat.
"Deep breaths," Adam's voice said in her ear, "I find it
always helps." Tara nodded nervously and inhaled a deep gulp of air
as she stepped through the large, open doors of Wolfram and Hart.
The foyer was enormous; a light filled and modern affair
which betrayed little of what Wolfram and Hart truly was. She had
expected something a bit more…eldritch; with maybe a few skulls
artfully scattered around the place to finish off the look.
Bewildered, Tara came to a standstill as she tried to take it all
in; beside her, Adam raised an eyebrow as a dwarfish, mud-coloured
demon scuttled past him, his tail swishing in agitation.
don't suppose they all come in that size?" he asked, half hopefully,
as the stubby little creature wound its way through the crowd,
"Because, if they do, this will be a lot easier than I thought…or
Tara's eyes followed his gaze and a lop-sided
grin tugged at her face, "F'narl demon," she supplied as she watched
the creature lumber across the room, his path hurriedly emptied as
it steered its way to the entrance. "Not much brains, but they make
up for it in brawn and attitude.
"I once knew an immortal
like that," Adam said lightly, but his eyes were still riveted on
the demon. "Well, now we've both seen the side-show, shall we move
onto the main attraction?"
Tara scanned the room, her eyes
coming to a halt as they rested on a scantily clad blonde, doing her
nails as she chattered loudly into a set of headphones, behind a
large reception desk. "Strange, she seems so familiar …" Tara
racked her brains; where had she seen that face before?
someone you know?" Adam asked, tilting his head as he examined the
receptionist. "Hmm, I didn't think she'd be your type…"
gave his arm a half-hearted slap as she tried to pin down where she
had seen the blonde's face; then, in a flash, it came to her. Willow
had once pointed out a photo of her in her high school yearbook
after that time Dawn had been kidnapped… "Harmony!" she burst out.
The receptionist's head snapped up, a flash of yellow showing in her
eyes as she searched the room. Oh Goddess, she'd forgotten how good
a vampire's hearing was. Quickly, Tara faced Adam; but she had a
funny feeling she'd already been rumbled.
called the poor child Harmony?" asked Adam, amusement showing in his
voice, "Poor girl."
"Poor vampire," Tara corrected, "She
went to high school with Willow; got turned on graduation day."
"You mean when the…"
"U-huh," Tara murmured. "Is she
looking this way?"
"Staring straight at us," Adam confirmed,
looking over her shoulder.
Tara's heart sank, "Any
"Well, she is the receptionist," Adam
murmured, "How about we make an appointment?"
Tara threw her
teacher a look of disbelief. "You're serious, aren't you?"
Adam shrugged. "When in Rome," he quoted, "Look, this may be
a den of devilry; but it's still a law firm - and Angelus is their
CEO. I say, if everyone else sees fit to pretend this is just
another day at the office, we might as well go with the flow. It's
either that or we pretend to be the pizza delivery guys. Besides, I
don't think they're going to let us wander around the building until
we stumble across him - check out the security." Tara looked in the
direction Adam nodded and gulped as she saw the burly guards, armed
to the teeth. They had an unnerving resemblance to the initiative
soldiers back in Sunnydale.
"I see what you mean," she
"And besides, we might be wrong," Adam said
cheerfully, "Perhaps Angelus hasn't lost his soul after all; and
there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for his sudden defection
to the dark side."
"I hope so," breathed Tara as she took a
step towards the desk, "Or this might be the shortest appointment in
"Look on the bright side;" Adam murmured under his
breath as they neared the desk, "What is the worst that can happen?
Waking up in a dumpster after having the life drained out of one
isn't exactly pleasant, but it isn't terminal either - not for us,
"Listen, just let me do the
talking," Adam muttered, letting a slow smile spread across his face
as he shouldered past her. Behind the reception desk, Harmony looked
at them expectantly. "How do you do," he murmured in a low,
confidential voice as he stepped up to the desk. "We wish to make an
appointment to see Mr. Angelus."
The budding smile on the
Vampire's face faded as she looked warily about her. "The boss
doesn't like to be called that nowadays," she said aloud, primly,
"It's the whole soul thing, you see," she added in a conspiratorial
whisper as she waved her hands to dry her nail varnish.
"I'll keep that in mind," he murmured, lowering his voice to
match hers, "I don't suppose he has an opening in his schedule
"Well, I don't know," the blonde vampire said
unsurely, "He doesn't usually see walk-ins, you see. They're usually
passed onto one of the associates."
Tara tried to keep her
face straight as Adam's shoulders drooped; she had seen the puppy
dog routine before…it usually worked a charm on Joe's waitresses.
"Oh dear," he said in his small, little boy's voice, "And I so hoped
to see him. It's very important, you see; life and death stuff."
It seemed vampires weren't immune to puppy dogs either.
"Oh…well…if you tell me what it's about, maybe I can convince him to
fit you in," she said consolingly, patting him on the shoulder.
Adam threw Tara a sideways glance, his eyes questioning.
"Tell him it's about Sunnydale," Tara offered softly, coming to a
decision, "Tell him we're here about Buffy…"
on Harmon's face would have been funny if Tara didn't feel so
nervous. "You're here about Buffy?" she squeaked, tearing off her
headphones, "Why didn't you say so before? I'll be back in a
moment." With vampiric speed, Harmony leapt to her feet and
disappeared from behind the desk. Tara watched with trepidation as
the Vampire ran through a pair of imposing doors; despite what
Harmony had said, she still had her reservations about Angel. She
was a vampire, after all; why would she be working for Angel if he
still had his soul?
"I didn't think even a vampire could
move that fast on heels," Adam said facetiously, digging his hands
into his pockets as he craned his neck to see what was written on
the open notepad on Harmony's desk. Absently, Tara wondered which
weapons he had secreted in those pockets; the dagger or the gun…or
maybe the stake she had insisted he carry? Probably all three, she
ruefully concluded. She wasn't thee least bit fooled by his casual
stance and throwaway remarks, she had known Adam long enough to
recognise the tenseness around his eyes for what it was. She
sincerely hoped that nobody made any sudden movements…
resounding crash, the doors swung open, bouncing off the walls as
Angel swept into the foyer. "What's this about Buffy-" with a snap,
Angel's mouth closed as his eyes narrowed suspiciously, "You're
dead," he stated flatly, his expression menacing as he took a step
"She got better," Adam interjected; his voice
unnaturally even as he stepped in Angel's path.
hell are you," Angel snorted, pausing to examine Adam's wiry frame.
Tara sighed, she had realised exactly two things in the last few
seconds; the first one being Angel was still Angel, the second one
being Angel had just met Adam in a bad mood; not a good thing.
Putting a restraining hand on Adam's arm, Tara inserted
herself between the two, "Um…hi, Angel," she said, smiling shyly.
Angel inhaled, his eyes going round with astonishment.
"You're alive," he said in wonderment, "I don't understand….has
Willow gone off the rails again?" he added, his surprise turning to
disapproval as he folded his arms.
"Oh…no…um, I don't think
so…I've been a little out of touch…listen, can we move this
conversation to somewhere a bit more private?" Tara stuttered as she
eyed the gathering crowd listening in.
Realising they had an
audience, Angel glared pointedly at the crowd, "Don't you people
have work to do?" he demanded. Turning to Tara as the crowd melted
away, his expression softened, "It's nice to see you again, Tara,"
he said, "Sorry about the not-so-warm welcome. We're a bit on edge
at the moment…a lot has happened in the last year."
heart sank as she saw the shadow pass through Angel's eyes.
"It's…it's not Buffy, is it?" she asked, too scared to mention
Willow's name. "I mean, I saw the crater and…"
squeezed her shoulder. "Buffy's okay," he said reassuringly, "And so
is Willow. Come on, let's go into my office. "
do," Adam said smoothly, from behind her.
jerked up. "I don't believe we've met," he said, his voice
"Adam Pierson, at your service; and you, I
believe, are Angel. The vampire with a soul," Adam said laconically.
Angels eyes swivelled to meet hers, "Friend of yours?" he
Tara smile apologetically, "'fraid so."
"Figures," Angel muttered as he led the way into his
Paris, Summer of 2002
"No, no, no,"
Methos said, lifting his hand to his head in exasperation. "Not like
that - first you lunge, then you parry," lifting his sword,
he quickly demonstrated. "See what I mean? If you do it the other
way around, you'll get skewered."
Tara nodded silently,
taking up position; slowly, she repeated the sequence. "Better?" she
asked hopefully, lifting the sword point upward.
better," Methos said with relief, "Now, try it from the top…this
time with more speed."
Again, Tara moved went through the
steps of the kata, her face a study in concentration. " She's
getting better," Methos admitted to himself, " But she's a
long way from being proficient." Methos ticked off the small
errors and hesitations with detachment; she had grace, and a
surprising amount of strength and stamina, but her reflexes needed
more speed. He made a mental note to step up their sparring
practices and, noticing the small dip in her lunges, also decided to
look into a lighter blade…maybe something along the lines of what
Amanda used. He resolved to call her that night and ask her who her
sword smith was; hopefully, he was still alive. If not, well, he was
sure Joe could dig up the names of a few good smiths; the watchers
kept track of such things.
As the kata came to close, he
stepped forward and handed her a towel. "You're improving," he
volunteered, "But your speed still needs work."
"I tried to
pick up the pace," Tara said, "But then I started making mistakes
and…" she finished the sentence with a shrug of frustration.
"It'll come with practice," Methos assured her. "Take five
minutes, and then we'll spar."
Tara pouted and Methos raised
an eyebrow even as he inwardly commiserated with her, "Five minutes,
Tara; the sooner done, the sooner finished." Watching as she laid
the sword on its stand and left for the kitchen, Methos dwelled on
his student's chances of surviving the game. Despite the occasional
protest, she was quite diligent in her training; she didn't even
complain too much when he dragged her out of the bed at six o'clock
in the morning to go for her run. No, that wasn't the problem; with
more time and practice, Tara will become more than capable of
defending herself. The question was: would she be willing to take a
life in order to save her own?
Methos wasn't so sure she
The door swung open, and Methos looked up to Tara
re-enter the room, a glass of orange juice in her hand. "I'm ready,"
she declared, placing the glass on a stool in the corner.
"Let's see how ready you are, Tara" he thought as he
raised his blade and waited. Lifting her sword from its cradle, she
took up position in the middle of the floor and swung the sword
experimentally to reacquaint herself with its weight. Once
satisfied, she raised her sword in the traditional salute, then
"First mistake," Methos told her as he easily
parried the thrust; "Never make the first move if you can possibly
avoid it, and never reach in that close to your opponent's
range. That way, he can't do this-" stepping in, he slid through her
defences and nicked her shoulder before bouncing back out of her
reach. Tara stumbled back in surprise. As well she might, Methos
thought grimly, he'd never drawn blood before. "Sword up," he
barked, seeing the tip dip slightly as she skittered to halt,
uncertain what to do. "Never let your guard down."
narrowing, she lifted her sword, the serious look on her face
telling him she knew what was happening. Slowly he circled her,
watching as she turned on her feet so to face him. "What do you do
now?" he asked.
"I wait for you to make the first move," she
answered lowly, her lips a thin, determined line.
girl-" lightening fast, he needled the tip of her sword, nodding
with approval as she twisted her sword away and stepped back; she
was learning. Again, he struck, and again she twisted her sword
away; but this time he followed through with an undercut, nicking
her arm. Wincing she took a hasty step back, but this time she kept
her sword up. "Good, good," he murmured, "But what you would do if I
did this-" Moving to strike, he waited until she raised her arm to
parry, then ducked underneath, coming up behind her. Swiftly, he put
his sword to her neck, pressing it into her jugular. Tara froze,
trying not to swallow as she lowered her sword.
he said softly, lifting the sword from her neck.
exhaled sharply before spinning swiftly on her heels and glaring at
him. "Was that supposed to be some kind of lesson?" she demanded
"Pretty much, yes," he said, propping the tip of
his sword on the floor. "Every single time you face another
immortal, he…or she…will be older than you, faster than you, more
willing to kill than you. The only way out of the game is in a pine
box, keep that in mind..." Not trusting himself to say anything
else, he abruptly looked away and stalked across the practice room.
Today, he had done what he could to show her she had to kill to
survive; now all he could do was teach her how to use a sword and
hope for the best.
Los Angelus, Summer of 2003
Angel leaned forward in his chair, placing his elbows on the table
as he made a bridge of his fingers. "So let me get this straight,
you are an immortal," he said softly.
"Um, yes," said
Tara shyly, her eyes skirting to the tall, thin figure standing by
the shelves as she perched on the edge of her chair.
living, breathing, human kind of immortal…"
"Wesley, help me out here," Angel sighed, slumping back into
his chair. "Why haven't I heard of these guys before?"
ex-watcher shuffled in his chair as he cleared his throat. "A
variety of reasons, I suspect," he said, "Mostly because there is no
discernable difference between a mortal human and an immortal one.
Other than the whole coming-back-from-the-dead-thing, that is. And
I'm guessing a vampire wouldn't notice this unless they stuck around
after they killed one…or tried to turn one."
happen?" Angel asked, curious.
"Not that I've heard of,"
Wesley admitted. "And Wolfram and Hart have no record of it either."
"But you've heard of immortals before?" Angel pressed,
leaning forward in his chair.
"They were mentioned at the
watcher academy, yes," Wesley said, rubbing his eyes. "Primarily
because of the presence of the other watcher society…"
a minute, there's another watcher society; why haven't I heard of
"There's no reason you would have," Wesley said with
a shrug, "The only thing the two societies have in common is a name;
there is no other connection. Sometimes though, they start keeping
tabs on a vampire, accidentally mistaking them for an immortal.
Hence the little lecture at the academy. The part line is; if you
spot a watcher tracking your target, distract him while you
eliminate the vampire."
"So this other watcher society has
no idea about the existence of vampires?" Angel asked.
as far as we know," Wesley confirmed, "Of course, Tara and her
friend here might know differently…" He looked at Tara expectantly.
"Um, I don't really know," Tara murmured, glancing once more
at the other immortal, who was now closely examining the Ming vase
he'd picked up from the shelf.
Immortals and their watchers
don't exactly socialise," the immortal drawled in his dry, British
accent, glancing up briefly from the vase. "In fact, most immortals
are unaware of their watcher's existence."
"But you know
about them, don't you?" Angel asked astutely. The immortal shrugged
as he placed the vase back on the shelf and carefully picked up the
Sumerian tablet next to it. Angel suppressed a frisson of
irritation. Who was this guy? And why did Tara look to him every
time he asked a question? "So who are you really, Mr Pierson?" he
"I'm Tara's teacher," he murmured quietly
as he flipped the tablet over, "You do know what that is, don't you,
Mr Wyndham-Price?" he added, shooting Wesley a piercing look before
dropping his eyes to the tablet. "By the way, you do know this is a
fake, don't you? A very old fake, but a fake
Actually, Angel did know it was a fake. The
tablet's value wasn't in its authenticity, but in what it hid under
its thin veneer of clay; a very old and very powerful amulet which
could destroy ten city blocks if handled incorrectly. "Thank you for
telling me," he said, struggling to keep his voice calm, "Now could
you please return it to the shelf."
The corner of the
immortal's lips curled up in a glimmer of a smile, but he placed the
tablet back on the shelf. Angel let out an involuntary breath of
relief. Tara may call this guy a friend, but there was something
about him which set his teeth on edge. The phrase 'wolf in sheep's
clothing' sprung to mind as the immortal moved onto the next shelf
and picked up an Egyptian ceremonial dagger. With difficulty, Angel
dragged his eyes away as Pierson tested the point of the dagger,
filling the room with the smell of blood. This guy was really
getting on his nerves…
"…so you see, I was wondering if you
had an address; though a phone number would be good too."
"Huh?" Angel muttered, tuning into Tara's voice as she
reached the end of her sentence.
"I asked if you had
Willow's address," she repeated helpfully, "If that's okay, I mean…"
she trailed off.
"Oh, yeah, sure," Angel muttered as he
pressed the intercom, "Harmony, could you track down Willow's
current address and phone number?"
"Sure thing, boss,"
Harmony's voice thrilled through the speaker. Angel shook his
head in bemusement. He still couldn't believe Harmony was his
secretary; he kept on meaning to replace her from the secretarial
pool but, for some strange reason, he never got around to
Angel jumped in his seat,
then curled his fingers over the edge of the desk as he bit back a
curse. "Spike, how many times have I told you not to do that?"
Spike ignored him as he strode through the desk. "Wicca,
you're alive," he said excitedly as he passed a ghostly hand through
"Spike, you're…not…" Tara answered hesitantly as
she got to her feet.
"Saved the world, died, came back a
ghost," he said succinctly, "And you?"
"Got shot, died, came
back an immortal."
"Nothing new there, then," Spike said
with a grin. "So, does Red know? Coz I reckon she'll drop that
Kennedy chick like a hot potato when she realises you're still
breathing…what? What did I say?"
Angel winced as he saw the
stricken expression on Tara's face. "I hadn't gotten around to
mentioning that yet, Spike," he said shortly.
uttered Spike, "Ooooh…well, how was I supposed to know that? Nobody
tells me anythin' around 'ere. Listen, luv, cheer up; the bint isn't
even in your league. All you 'ave to do is snap your fingers and Red
will come runnin'…"
"It's all right, Spike," Tara
interrupted. "I mean, it's been over a year…and I wouldn't have
wanted her to pine after me. I'm glad she's been able to move
"Bugger that," Spike snorted, "A year, a century, makes
no bloomin' difference…Red still loves you, pet. Nuthin' will change
that. This Kennedy bint is just….passin' time." Spike waved his arms
in the air to punctuate his words as he began to pace the room, "And
who the bloody 'ell are you?" he added, veering off from his course
as he noticed Pierson for the first time.
"Adam Pierson, a
friend of Tara's. I'd offer to shake hands but…"
kind of friend is that, mate," Spike asked suspiciously
immortal kind," Pierson answered evenly, "Why do you ask?"
Angel sighed and buried his head in his hands as he wondered
if his day could get any worse.
be good, Harmony," Angel snapped as his 'secretary' barrelled into
"Sorry, boss," she said excitedly, "I did mean to
knock, honest I did, but I thought you'd want to know about it as
soon as possible."
"Know about what as soon as possible?"
Angel prompted, attempting to hold onto the last dregs of his
"About the apocalypse, of course."
beat, the room was deathly silent.
"Must be Tuesday, then,"
Spike piped up cheerfully.
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FICTION : BUFFY/ANGEL
FICTION : CROSSOVER
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