It's a sequel to my BtVS / Men in Black crossover Family Issues, and some parts will be difficult to follow without reading that first.
Comments please before I post it to archives etc.
This is a BtVS / Angel / Lou Grant crossover fiction, a sequel to my earlier story Family Issues, a BtVS / Men in Black crossover. It isn't necessary to have read Family Issues, all essential information will be included in this story, but it helps. For details of how this story ties into series continuity see part I. For more information on the Lou Grant TV series see the author's note, published as a separate chapter (at the end of chapter 1 on fanfiction.net)
Characters and settings are used without permission, and with no intention of damaging copyright in the original stories. This story may not be distributed on any profit-making basis. Distribution Fanfiction.net, Twisting The Hellmouth, Fonts of Wisdom, other sites please ask. I'm British, so's my spelling - live with it.
by Marcus L. Rowland
"Please excuse the mess," said Holtz. "I wasn't expecting visitors." He led the way into the warehouse and down steps to a cellar, using an electric lantern to light up the area around them.
"What mess?" asked Willow, then spotted a row of demon corpses and said "Never mind."
"Why such a big warehouse?" asked Billie.
"I think Sahjan needed the room," said Holtz. He shone the light forward, illuminating a circle of stone blocks, about thirty feet across.
"Okay," said Willow, "he built his own Stonehenge. Where's Spinal Tap when you need them?" Holtz looked puzzled.
"Holtz? Is Angelus dead?" asked a voice from somewhere on the other side of the circle.
"Sahjan?" whispered Tara.
"Sahjan," Holtz confirmed.
A demon that had brown hair and seemed to have extra layers of skin tacked to his face entered the circle, peering towards the light. "Is Angelus dead?" he repeated.
"And the child?"
"The child must be killed, or one day it will destroy the world."
"And how exactly is a baby going to do that?" asked Willow.
"You didn't tell me we you were bringing guests," said Sahjan. "Miss Rosenberg, I presume."
"You mess with people's minds, do you think nobody's gonna notice?"
"I'm disappointed," said Holtz. "You've lied to me, and I think that our association is at an end."
"Ingrate! I gave you what you wanted!" Sahjan stepped towards them through one of the slabs. April seemed to be tracking him with some sort of instrument, while Willow and Tara were holding hands and staring at him. Sahjan glared at them, then turned his attention to Justine and said "Kill him!" Justine leaped towards him, shrieking with rage. She went right through him, staggering as she ran into the slab behind him. Sahjan laughed. For a second Billie felt the crystal that Tara had given her vibrate, and guessed that he was trying to influence her mind again.
"That's a good trick," said Willow, "but how do you stop yourself from falling through the floor?"
"Natural talent," said Sahjan.
"Okay..." Willow let go of Tara, pulled something from her bag and pointed it at Sahjan. There was a flash, blindingingly bright, and Sahjan howled with rage and clutched his eyes. "I guess you do interact with the world," she said. She pressed a stud, and it sprayed a cloud of gas towards his face. He ignored it, and her face fell slightly. "Just not very much." Some of the pepper spray reached Justine, who began to cough and hastily backed away.
"Bitch!" said Sahjan, "I'll scoop out your entrails and feast on your spleen."
"When I am restored from this miserable existence..."
"Has it occurred to you that you're safer where you are?" interrupted Billie.
"What?" said Sahjan.
"Think about it. While you're like this we can't hurt you. If you were solid there are all sorts of things we could try."
"Billie..." began Willow.
"We know you can travel in time," said Billie, "why don't you just travel a hundred or so years into the future and stay there? I doubt that Connor could do you much harm by then, and the rest of us will be long gone."
"Do you think I hadn't thought of that?" roared Sahjan.
"It's a good question," said Holtz, "why is the child so important to you?"
"Doubt you care much about the world," said Willow, "so what's the real reason?"
"Destiny, you moron!"
"Thought so. What is it, a predestination paradox?"
"A what?" asked Billie.
"You know, like Star Trek or the Terminator movies. He travels back in time to change the future, and ends up causing the events he's trying to prevent."
"You think you have all the answers," yelled Sahjan. "But I will change destiny. When at last we meet it will be Connor that dies!"
"Sure, maybe," said Willow, "been there, got the t-shirt, saw a lot of that kinda thing. Don't you get it yet? Everything happens, every possible outcome. You fight it, you try to confront Connor, it just raises the odds you'll get killed, because you're going into harm's way. You stay the hell away from him, that makes it a lot less likely."
"It won't happen, witch. When I'm restored I shall kill the child, and your magic will be useless against me!"
"Yeah? Willing to bet your life on that?"
"Is this some form of challenge?"
"No. A warning."
Sahjan laughed raucously. "You... You warn me?"
"Yeah." Willow stalked towards Sahjan, her eyes and hair somehow darkening. "Come near Connor again and you're dead. Try to harm him in any way, however indirectly, and you're dead. That fulfils your destiny, because Connor will be the cause of your death. Oh, and piss me off enough and you'll be dead too, that's one way you can escape your destiny. Although I suppose you can blame that on Connor too if you like."
"Do you really think you can harm me," said Sahjan, laughing. To one side April nodded slightly.
Willow moved forward until she was face to face with him and said "I'm certain."
"Then give it your best shot, little girl."
"All right. Thicken" The air in front of her seemed to distort slightly. Sahjan probed it with one hand and tried to push towards her, saying "Big deal. What are you going to do, squash me with air?"
"Nope. Now pay attention, because I'm only gonna say this once." She said something, so quietly that Billie couldn't hear it.
"What?" said Sahjan.
"I said 'Bored now.'"
Billie noticed that Sahjan's hair was glowing with tiny sparks. He seemed unaware of it, but said "What are you doing?" and seemed a little confused.
For another second Sahjan stood there then, looking disorientated, then moved his hands to his head. Suddenly his eyes exploded, steaming orange ichor spurting towards Willow, stopping as it hit her barrier. She hastily backed away. There was a loud crack, more goo erupted from his ears, and he slowly toppled, falling sideways and down through the floor.
"What the hell was that?" asked Billie. Willow's eyes and hair returned to their normal shades and she staggered. Tara supported her before she fell. The goo slowly vanished.
"Mostly misdirection, plus I had to keep him immobile for a few seconds."
"Is he dead?"
"He'd better be. Zap just microwaved his brain."
"The core temperature of his head rose from thirty-three to two hundred and twenty celsius," said April, switching off the sensor device she was holding. "I was unable to detect vital signs, neither could Zap, but on the evidence it seems likely he's dead or very seriously injured."
"Or deeply pissed at us," said Justine, shakily lighting a cigarette. "At you, anyway."
"It's a possibility," said Willow.
"I don't think so," said Tara, "his aura was breaking up before he fell."
"Any collateral damage?" asked Willow, sitting on the floor and leaning back against one of the slabs. Tara knelt by her side. Billie saw that Willow's nose was bleeding and rummaged in her bag for a tissue, while Tara pinched the bridge of Willow's nose.
"No," said April. "Zap was beaming upwards and from the side, it was tightly focused, and he checked for planes and satellites before he fired."
"What about you, Willow?" asked Tara, "You were pretty close."
"There might have been a little scattering," Willow said, as clearly as she could with her nose blocked, "but it ought to be no worse than standing a few yards from a radar transmitter for a couple of minutes, and people do that sort of thing all the time."
"Yeah," said Justine, "and some of them get cancer." Tara, Billie, and April glared at her angrily.
"Wasn't there any other way?" asked Billie.
"No," said Tara. "He was ready to kill us instantly if he had the chance, we could both feel it. It was taking most of Willow's power just to hold him there. If he'd been properly in our world he might have killed all of us before Zap could stop him."
"Where is this Zap?" asked Holtz. "And what is he?"
"Well," said Willow, "with Sahjan out of the way I guess there's no reason not to show you." There was a scuttling noice and Zap leapt out of the shadows and onto her lap.
"You're putting us on!" said Justine.
"Want to bet?" said Zap, in a quiet but clear voice.
"It talks!" said Justine.
"Well yeah," said Willow, "how would he know what to do if I couldn't tell him."
"What is it?" asked Holtz. "A demon? Your familiar?"
"Nope." She took her cross and touched it to Zap. He purred. "You want to try holy water? It'll get his fur wet, but go ahead if it'll make you happy."
"But what is he?"
"Powerful enough to take out Sahjan," said Willow. "And that's all you really need to know." Zap stretched, yawned, jumped from her lap and ran over to April, who picked him up, kissed him, and put him on her shoulder.
"What happens now?" Billie asked after a long silence.
"Damned if I know," said Willow, "Anyone got any suggestions?"
"...so we swept the place for magic," said Willow, "didn't find anything apart from some residues around the stone circle. Zap took that out to be on the safe side. Holtz and Justine are gonna get rid of the demon bodies and keep a low profile for a few days."
"Can we trust them?" asked Wesley.
"I think so," said Billie, "They got what they wanted."
"Suppose they talk to Wolfram and Hart?" said Cordelia, who was giving Connor his evening feed. "What if the truth about Angel gets out?"
"Right now my guess is that Wolfram and Hart aren't too pleased with them," said Gunn, "or were you forgetting that they blew up their parking? Must have done a lot of damage, and by now they must have identified Holtz and maybe Justine from the camera tapes."
"More than two hundred thousand dollars," said April, "according to the last news report. But they're blaming it on a trash can fire, not Holtz."
"Why would they do that?" asked Fred. "Surely they'd want the police looking for Holtz."
"The police are already looking for Holtz," said Wesley, "and Wolfram and Hart don't want more attention paid to their activities."
"The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart are wily," said Groo, coming downstairs to the lobby in some of Angel's spare clothes. "What might they have learned?"
"That's a good question," said Willow. "They have to know that Holtz and Justine kidnapped Connor, that he was baptized, and we got him back. If they've got any sense they'll figure out that Holtz was working with us by the time we left the church. What I hope they won't know is why."
"We need a reason," said Tara, "something that'd make Holtz and Angel work together.
"We have one," said Wesley. "Just a second." He went into his office and came back with a thick book, and opened it to a marker. "Phisto's Dictionary Of Demons and Dimensional Spirits. Is this Sahjan?" He showed them one of the engravings.
"Yeah," said Willow.
"Definitely," said Tara.
"Thought so. Granok demon. Virtually unstoppable in their day, before they became immaterial. There's an account here of one destroying a city."
"So we... what?" asked Gunn.
"Somehow let it be known that there's a Granok on the loose," said Wesley, "and that Holtz and Angel are putting aside their differences for now. We don't reveal that Willow and Zap have already dealt with it, of course."
"And that gives us the perfect way to leak the story," said Willow. "You phone Sunnydale and ask Giles for everything he has on Granok demons, tell him you think it's close to getting back onto the material plane. Mention the fake prophecies and the rest of it, make it clear that it's a real emergency."
"It might work," said Wesley. "I might get away with mentioning that Holtz is helping us if I make it clear that it's a temporary truce to fight Sahjan."
"What about the other demon?" asked Billie. "The one from Cordelia's vision."
"We shall slay it tomorrow," said Groo, "we know these creatures on my world, they are mindless eaters of flesh, easy to track."
"Senih'd demon," said Wesley. "We know when and roughly where, what we need now is a plan for dealing with it without Angel, while making it look like Angel is somewhere at hand."
"but Angel wouldn't be there anyway," said Willow, "unless it comes out of the sewers or something."
"Or he kept a coat over his head," said Cordelia. "D'you think you could fight that way?" she asked Groo, "if we disguised you to look like Angel?"
"For my Princess everything is possible."
"Isn't that great?"
"Wonderful," Gunn said dubiously. "Okay, I guess with Wes and me to back him up we ought to handle it okay. What about the rest of you?"
"I'd better head for work," said Billie, "we've a paper to put out and I need to relieve Joe. If I don't go in questions would be asked."
"Same for us," said Willow, "We've got classes tomorrow morning, and we have to tell Buffy about Angel before she finds out some other way. We would have left by nine or so anyway, let's try to keep things as normal as possible. Tara nodded her agreement.
"Okay then," said Cordelia, "I guess we can head home then. Groo might as well spend the night at my place."
"Umm..." said Tara. "I kinda think that might be a really bad idea."
"What?" said Cordelia and Groo in unison.
"I think that might be a really bad idea," repeated Tara. "Groo's half demon, and you've got some demon blood in you too, right?"
"I guess, something of the sort anyway."
"I think we need to have a little talk about the birds and the bees and demon genetics..."
Am I making Zap way too powerful? Previous chapters have established a lot of what he can do, and I want to get Sahjan out of the way fairly quickly, but he's beginning to look like a robot-Sue, too powerful (and way too cute) for the story's good. About his one saving grace is that he's usually just following Willow's orders, but that tends to make Willow too powerful (as if she wasn't already). I have an easy way to remove him from the story at this point if I want to, what do you think?
Later: Revised version now posted to TTH etc., use the link above to see it