Cross posted to sickchicks and my regular journal.
Hell Is In the Details – Chapter 6 – A Friend In Need
Lorne was pacing wildly by the time Gunn’s car pulled into the driveway. The things he’d found out about Dante’s made his skin crawl, and he all but ripped open the door when the bell sounded.
“Oh man, this is just all kinds of bad. What I found in records is enough to curl my hair.” Gunn blurted before he’d even gotten a foot inside. He waved a file folder around in the air.
Lorne crossed his arms. “Do tell, sugar plum. I’ve got the oddest feeling that what you tell me dovetails with what I found out, and it won’t make either of us happy. So, spill.”
“How much do you know about vampire hierarchy? About their familial structure and pecking orders and laws and by-laws?” Gunn ran his hand over his head, as if trying to hold onto his thoughts.
“Well, obviously your newly improved noggin contains more than musicals and Machiavelli. Give me the point you’re obviously dying to make.”
“You know Angel’s from a long line of vampires, right?. One going back to the founder of the Order, Aurelius himself. The Master, Heinrich Nest, was also of this line, ancient enough to no longer have his human mask. He became Darla’s Sire sometime around 1609, and she in turn sired Angelus some time around 1760. Angelus sired Penn before the turn of the century and then Drusilla in 1860. Most records show that Spike, or rather, William the Bloody, was sired by Drusilla the fucking loon back in 1880.”
He paused, still not sure how to handle what he’d found out. “Problem is, while Drusilla was responsible for mostly killing William, it was Angelus who finished draining him. Brought him over. According to vampiric law and custom, Angelus is Spike’s Sire.”
“So, what’s in a name, Charles? Either way, he’s still a vampire.” Lorne braced for what was to come. Couldn’t be good.
“When a vamp is sired, he or she becomes a Childe. The Sire is everything – mother, father, and God. They are responsible for laying down the law, and disseminating the lore and structure of vampiric society. They are also responsible for keeping the fledgling safe and in check and are held accountable for every right or wrong perpetrated by said fledgling.”
Lorne shook his head and frowned. “Sounds all nice and neat, but what does it have to do with Spike and these feelings I’ve been getting?”
“You ever heard of Sire’s Rights? They’re usually never invoked – their use is considered a failure on the part of a Sire to control their childer. Basically it’s an excommunication from the Order and from their immediate family. Usually it’s given to the childe themselves… leaving them adrift amongst demon society. Sometimes, it’s transferred to another Order, one that’s willing to take the childe in and be responsible for its actions.”
“Charlie boy, why do I feel you’re holding the big bad news for last? If you’re going to tell me what I think you are – well, I have corroborating evidence and I just might be sick to my stomach.”
With a deep breath, Gunn opened the folder and withdrew a piece of paper, handing it to Lorne. “Sometimes, Sire’s Rights are sold to an individual, not necessarily a vampire, basically leaving the childe in question an indentured slave at the beck and call of the purchaser. And they have the right to dust the vamp when and how they want, if they want.”
“Shit!” exclaimed Lorne. “Angel sold Spike out to this Pret creature at Dante’s.”
Gunn blinked. “Whoa, dude. Coming from you that’s scary. You never curse. You might as well spill your bad news. I think we’ve tossed the possibility of good news out the window with the bathwater hours ago.”
“I think our chances of finding Spike alive – unlive – whatever, just went down to zip. Lorne shook his head. “I know Dante’s. It’s a demon bar. Exclusively. No humans. A demon bar with a penchant for slaughter exhibitions and prostitution.”
“Oh God. You tellin’ me that the boss man sold his own kin to be killed or fucked by other demons?” Gunn went an ashy tone. “Fuck that! Ain’t slavery supposed to have been abolished in this country? And a year after the fact, I’m almost hoping we find out the dude’s dusted, long gone.”
Lorne hugged himself. “I don’t want to believe it. It’s not possible that Angel could do such a serious thing and lie about it – act as if Spike’s out there, having the time of his unlife and causing trouble for anyone he meets. This is part of the problem, Charles. For a vampire with a soul, he just doesn’t act like it. He’s been so damned happy.”
Gunn snorted. “We can stand here for the rest of the day and argue over the soul/no soul issue, but if we have an address, I think it’s time to high-tail it over to Dante’s and see if we can find out anything. It’s not as if I even knew the vamp… just met him the first day he’d popped into the office, and it’s not that I love puttin’ my ass on the line for another vampire – but nobody sells out family or anyone for… that!”
The look of revulsion on Gunn’s face spurred Lorne into action. Gunn was right. This had to end. Now.
“Well, let’s get this party started then, my little strudel. One way or the other, it’s time someone knew of his fate. I’ve got a feeling there’s a whole big story behind all that blonde hair and leather, and Angel-kins went through all kinds of trouble to make sure we never found out.”
The atmosphere inside the car was tense. Both passengers were lost in their own thoughts for most of the drive to the demon bar, until Lorne broke the silence with:
“No matter what you see and hear, I need you to stay calm. They’ll let you into the bar on my behalf, but Dante’s doesn’t cotton to humans, at least not as patrons. Are you going to have any problems with this?”
“Man, I can be cool. I know when to just chill and sit back. Been following Angel’s lead for so long…” Gunn shook his head. “Damn. This puts a whole new light on things. How am I going to look him in the face again? Knowin’ what we know? No matter what we find out about Blondie, it doesn’t negate the fact that Angel fuckin’ sold his own son to the slaughter.”
His anger grew. “This flies in the face of everything I knew about the vamp. I let my guard down for him! I hated vampires – still do, I suppose. It took forever to trust that Angel took care of his own. That was a constant. He’s still freakin’ out over Buffy after all these years, and Cordy’s an issue for him, too. He doesn’t let go of those he cares about – it’s why I stayed with him. Family, honor and the mission – all things he embodied. All things I took to heart.
“What’s gonna happen if one of us pisses him off? Is he gonna turn around and sell us off, too? Or betray us if the price is right? Damned vampires – and yet, here I am, riding off to the possible rescue of another one.”
“You don’t have to do this, sweet-cheeks. I’ll understand if you’ve changed your mind. Do you want me to take you back home? This little mystery’s been around for almost a year, now. A few more minutes more or less won’t make a difference.”
“Nah, what Angel did was wrong. It doesn’t matter if he did it to another vamp. He did it to his own family, and I won’t stand for that. If Blondie’s alright and he pisses me off enough, I’ll dust him myself, but a dude’s got a right to go down fightin.’ Also, if he’s got a story to tell, I wanna hear it – find out what he did to warrant that kind of reaction from his own Sire.”
“Remember, Strudel… calm is Uncle Lorne’s word of the day, capische?”
“We’re cool. See? Lips sealed.”
They walked into the club, calmly looking around. It was fairly empty, as most of the patrons were nocturnal.
Gunn nudged Lorne with his elbow in the direction of the bar. Sure enough – hanging next to a framed document similar to the one he’d gotten from Records, was Spike’s duster.
“I’m gonna be sick, Lorne – they’ve got his duster pegged like a fuckin’ animal skin on the wall.”
“Remember what I said, cookie… calm is the word for the day. Let me handle this.”
The green-skinned demon walked to the bar, asking for the manager. Pret ambled over, all solicitous of his patron.
“What can I do for you, handsome? Haven’t seen you in here before.”
“Oh, word of mouth brought you to my attention – needed a place to relax after work. I hear you tend to have some… ‘distractions’ available.”
“Ah yes. Always something pretty to take the edge off after a hard day’s work. Looking for anything in particular? Species, gender?”
~Calm, bubbelah – heed your own advice.~ “I notice you’ve got some lovely leather hanging on your wall. Do you have a story to go with it?”
“Good taste you got there. It’s a beauty, isn’t it? Got it off of one of my little ‘distractions.’ Pretty thing he is, but he’s occupied at the moment. Unless you care to wait… just need a few moments for a hose-down and he’ll be fresh as a daisy.”
Stifling the urge to vomit, Lorne turned to see his partner clenching and unclenching his fists. He turned his attention back to Pret.
“Can you do me a favor? I’ve got a bit of a voyeuristic streak in me… think I can peek in on the little crumpet while he’s busy – see what I’ve got in store for me?”
The S’lugith paused for the briefest moment, during which time Lorne had slipped a few bills out of his wallet and onto the bar. Gathering up the money, he pointed in the direction of the ‘game room.’
“Just a peek in the window, mind – some folks don’t rightly take to getting watched while they play.”
Less than five minutes later, an irate Lorne barreled back to the bar, grabbed Pret by the shirt and decked him with a mean right cross.
Gunn jumped up, just in time to avoid flying debris. Beer dregs spattered his suit from head to toe. “Whoa, dude! What the hell happened to ‘Uncle Lorne’s word of the day?’ Wait, tell me he’s not…”
Dragging Gunn to see for himself was all it took. They stormed into the little room, pulled the ‘client’ away from Spike and threw him bare-assed naked out into the club. Gunn locked the door, and they turned to face the sable haired vampire, suspended from the ceiling in a harness.
He wasn’t conscious – a small blessing for them all. The vampire’s limbs had been bound close to his body. Legs folded back, leather thongs holding calves to thighs, arms crossed and bound at the wrists behind his back. Blood dripped from his mouth and down his thighs.
Lorne barely managed to turn his head before he lost his last meal. Gunn pulled out the pocket knife he always kept handy, and once his very green skinned partner was able to support Spike, cut the unconscious vampire’s bindings and harness straps.
They wrapped his battered form in a blanket from the cot and made their way to the front of the club, the looks in their faces daring anyone to stop them. Handing Spike off to Gunn, Lorne indicated he would be out shortly.
Once they were safely out the door, the empath turned to confront Pret, who was just now regaining consciousness, himself.
“You fucking bastard. How could you do this to another demon? What the hell had he ever done to you?”
“It was a legit deal,” Pret protested. “I’ve got the paperwork right here. Sale all legal and above board. I want him back. He’s mine to do with as I please. Sire’s Rights say it’s so.”
“Did you ever stop and think that there was something a little funny about a deal that important – the assignation of one’s own childe to a complete stranger – for the sum of a dollar? Let me tell you something, buddy – I work for Wolfram & Hart, as well as the vampire who turned his own get over to you. This was wrong with a capital wrong. Shady deal, buckaroo. If news of his liberation reaches Angel’s ears, I can guarantee you that you won’t have a club standing the next day. Wooden structures such as this go up in flames so easily. Get my meaning?”
Pret nodded, realizing he’d lost this particular battle. He might have been a big man when his victim was all helpless before him, but put Pret up against someone large and angry and he folded like a house of cards.
Lorne grabbed the duster and framed document from the wall, and left the club, head held high. He joined Gunn, who had already settled Spike in the back seat. "Let's get out of here," he growled, his voice harsh but his hands, cradling the vampire's head, gentle.