Chapter 9: Old Friends
They sat around the living room in silence, all eyes on Dawn as she paced nervously back and forth. She checked her watch constantly, worry lining her features as she waited for Giles to get back from his errand. The front door slammed, and they all let out a sigh of relief as the Watcher wandered into the living room. He stopped short when he noticed the unnatural silence and air of anticipation that hung over the group.
“Good Lord, have you all been sitting here like this since I left?”
“We were worried that you might get caught,” Anya explained.
“Do you have any idea the sort of mischief I got up to in my youth? I hardly think this presented as big a challenge as you may have thought.” Dawn smiled.
“Well, then. Let’s get down to business.
“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered, his eyes never leaving the paper he was reading. Everyone looked at him, waiting for an explanation. All they got was an even louder, “Bloody hell!” Xander looked around at the others before glancing back at Spike. Silence as he continued reading.
“Uh, Spike?” The vamp finally looked up. “Something you want to share with the class, or are we just swearing at random intervals for fun now?” Spike spread the newspaper out in front of the group.
“Rupert, look at this.” He pointed at an article. “Mt. Athos – murders in all twenty monasteries.” He pointed at another article. “Lopburn, Nepal and Bodh Gaya – people massacred; beheading, eviscerations and the like.” He pulled open the other papers he’d gone through, flipping the pages and pausing briefly at each relevant article. “Death at the Vatican, ritual sacrifice at Lourdes, Jerusalem, the Hajj, the Shrine of Báb – the list goes on. You know what this means, right?”
“Holy places,” Giles whispered in shock. “They’re desecrating holy places.”
“And they’re not being picky with the religion, either. Seems they’re an equal opportunity sort of evil.” They were all silent for a moment.
“Bob?” Xander said suddenly.
“What?” Spike asked in confusion.
“There’s a shrine to some guy named Bob?” Spike shook his head in frustration.
“Báb, you nit. B-A-B. It’s a Bahá’ís temple.”
“Oh.” Everyone fell silent as they took in the situation. Suddenly, Tara giggled. They all stared at her in surprise. She tried desperately to keep a straight face, but another giggle escaped.
“I’m sorry. Totally inappropriate laughter, I know, but,” she paused. “The Shrine of Bob?” And then she broke into giggles again. Dawn and Anya exchanged amused glances, Spike shot them a grin, and Giles ducked his head in an attempt to hide a smile. Xander gave them all dirty looks.
“Sure, laugh it up. Make fun of idiot Xander. How am I supposed to know this stuff?” Tara rested her hand on his arm, giving him a soft smile.
“I’m sorry, Xander. I didn’t mean to make fun.” He patted her hand and returned her smile.
“It’s okay. It was nice to see everyone smiling for a little while.” They stared at each other for a second, understanding passing between them, and then Dawn cleared her throat.
“So they’re targeting holy places of all different religions. That makes sense.”
“It does?” Anya asked.
“Giles and I have been working on the rituals.” She picked up the text, flipping to the page she was looking for. “See this here?” Spike looked over her shoulder at the passage she had indicated.
“I see it, but it looks like gibberish.”
“It basically says ‘Seek out the holy places that they may be desecrated in blood.’” She glanced up at the group. “This one is about halfway down their evil list of things to do. We have to figure out what else has been done and what else needs to be done.”
“The one about the prophets,” Giles said, moving to flip to another page. “‘Yad uz ozb de dpoif jiciezc’. How do you think they’ll carry that one out?”
“Well, the simplest way would be to kill them, but I’m thinking these guys are big with the ceremony so probably something a little yuckier,” Dawn said.
“What does- whatever it is you just said – what does it mean?” Anya asked.
“They want to put an end to the prophets’ visions, stop them from seeing the future,” Dawn replied, glancing over at Giles. “I’m guessing just the guys working on our side, right?”
“Well, I doubt they’d want to get rid of their seers.” Giles sat down with a weary sigh. “Someone should probably warn Cordelia.” Dawn nodded.
“Are they still operating out of L.A.?”
“I believe so. Do we have their number?”
“I think Willow has it somewhere,” Tara said.
“Um, guys?” Anya interrupted. “Does this sound like the kind of thing we’re looking for? ‘Sven Brunali, renowned psychic, was found murdered in his home last week. Witnesses say his eyes had been gouged out. Police were unable to find them at the scene.’” She stopped reading and looked up at Dawn. “Eye gouging? That’s definitely symbolic.” Dawn nodded, and Tara looked slightly ill when she spoke,
“Do you think they did it after or… before?” Dawn dropped into her chair.
“God, I don’t even want to think about that.” She was silent for a moment, her eyes haunted. “Tara, see if you can find Cordelia’s number. We need to talk to her.”
“Everybody else, keep reading. We’ve got to figure this all out before it’s too late.”
“Who do you think they were?”
“I don’t know,” Cordelia answered. “But it might have been nice,” she glanced up at the sky, “to have SOME SORT OF WARNING!” Angel turned around and pulled her into a side alley.
“Would you quit shouting? They might still be looking for us.”
“Sorry, it’s just- what are they doing, just sitting on their asses up there? What’s the point of having these visions if they aren’t even going to send me one that says, ‘Hey, big scary guys headed your way. And, oh yeah, they want to kill you real bad so maybe you should get the hell out of there!’” Angel hid a smile. “I mean, here we are running around all day, or night, in your case, doing their bidding and covering their asses, and they can’t even send us a warning? Just doesn’t seem fair, that’s all.”
“You’re alive, aren’t you?”
“That is so not the point.”
“Actually, I think it is.”
“All I’m asking for is a little common courtesy, but I guess that’s too much to ask.” They started back to the hotel. “How did you know they were coming; vampire senses? Did you smell them or something?”
“I saw them come in. The maitre’d pointed to our table, figured it couldn’t be good news, especially when that big one pulled out an ax.”
“So regular senses, then. Handy.” He smiled at her as they walked into the Hyperion. Cordelia dropped her purse on the sofa and hopped up to sit on the front desk. “Any messages, Rina?” A short, dark haired girl carrying a stack of books materialized beside Angel.
“I don’t know how you expect me to keep all these weird demon names straight. And these books! Is there a fifty pound minimum weight requirement or what? I don’t recall any mention of lugging these things around being in my job description.”
“Oh, yeah, I’m sure teleporting them was real rough work,” Cordelia said sarcastically. Rina set down the books, sticking her tongue out as she grabbed a message pad, and Cordelia laughed.
“You have three messages. Someone with a Shava demon problem called.”
“Ooh, icky,” Cordy shuddered.
“Lorne called; he’s sending you guys tickets to the new show, and someone named Rupert Giles called, said it was very important that you get back to him as soon as possible.”
“Giles? We haven’t heard from him in, what, three years?”
“He left a number; you want it?” Cordelia grabbed the message and turned to Angel.
“Trouble on the Hellmouth?”
“I’m pretty sure he went back to England.”
“Sunnydale number.” She sighed. “Guess I better call him back.”
“We have reason to believe you may be in grave danger.” She rolled her eyes.
“Where were you an hour ago?”
“Did something happen; are you alright?” Cordelia carried the cordless phone with her and dropped down beside Angel.
“Yeah, we’re fine. Angel saved the day.” She gave him a playful shove. “As usual.”
“Dawn thinks, and I agree, that you should come here to Sunnydale where she can protect you.”
“Dawn protect me? Have you lost your mind?” She heard muted voices in the background and there was a long pause as Giles responded. She sighed loudly. “Hello? I’m still here.”
“Yes, sorry. Dawn informs me that no one has kept you up to date on current happenings with Dawn’s new…abilities.”
“What?” Angel gave her a questioning look and she waved at him to hold on.
“It’s a very long story, but suffice it to say, Dawn is very powerful, and at the moment she is the only one capable of fighting the people who are after you.”
“I’m sorry. I know it’s a lot to take in right now, but I must insist you come to Sunnydale immediately. They won’t stop until you are dead.”
“Angel seemed to do just fine fighting them off tonight; I don’t think there’s any need for us to come there.”
“I’m sure Angel is quite capable, but you have no idea of who you’re up against.”
“Oh, really? And little Dawnie can protect me better than a 260 year old vampire.”
“‘Little Dawnie’ as you call her could burn that 260 year old vampire to a crisp without blinking an eye.”
“Really? Impressive.” She heard Giles sigh in frustration.
“Quite. Now, please, will you just come to Sunnydale, and I will explain everything when you get here?”
“Can I bring Angel?” There was a long pause and then,
“Spike is with us. Will that be a problem?”
“Yes, he and Dawn are… together.”
“God! How hard is it for you people to pick up a phone? Dawn’s all warrior woman, Spike’s her boyfriend, and no one even thinks I might be interested?” Angel sat up suddenly, almost knocking her off the couch.
“What?!” He reached for the phone, and Cordelia pushed him away with a dirty look.
“Oh, calm down! Sorry,” she said to Giles. “Angel’s just having a minor freak out here. I’m sure everything will be fine. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”
“Yeah, you’re welcome. I expect all the dirt when I get there.” Giles gave her Tara’s address, and they said their goodbyes. Cordelia hung up, staring at Angel for a moment. “What’s your problem? We’ve known Spike was on our team for a while now. What’s with the surprise and the grabby hands?”
“Didn’t he leave because he didn’t want to be with her, for her own good or something?”
“Yeah, well, things change, Angel. Apparently, Dawn can now kick your ass without even trying. I’m very excited about that part; I may ask for a demonstration when we get there.”
“Very funny.” Pause. “So, why are we going to Sunnydale?”
“New bad guys. They want me dead, Dawn’s the only one who can fight them, yadda, yadda, yadda, I told them we’re on our way.” He nodded as she stood. “I’ll go pack a bag. We should be able to get there before sunrise.”
“You forgot to tell them about Willow.” Giles turned to look at Dawn as he hung up.
“I figured it was best to tell them in person.” Spike pulled Dawn down on his lap.
“Not exactly the sort of news you give over the phone, luv.” She put her arm around him and snuggled into his chest.
“So, she’s on her way?” Giles nodded.
“With Angel.” Spike rolled his eyes.
“Great, just what we bloody need!” Dawn gave him a chastising look.
“Spike.” She turned back to Giles. “It’ll be like a big reunion.”
“Yes,” Anya said. “A big sad reunion, with bad news and people trying to kill us.”
“Yep,” Xander said. “A good old family reunion, Hellmouth style. This ought to be great.”
Just a reminder: Since A Kiss Before Waking went AU after The Gift, we will assume that all events through season two of Angel: the Series have happened, but the rest is AU from there. Connor does not exist, and Cordy has not become half demon.