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.
Author's Note: I'm currently busy on a non-fiction writing project which will occupy most of my free time for the next few months. I am not abandoning any of my ongoing stories, but updates will be very slow.
by Marcus L. Rowland
"Do we tell Buffy?" asked Tara.
"Not yet," said Willow, looking up from her computer, "I want to break it to her in person. Even if she was here this minute there isn't much she could do except spend a couple of hours sobbing or run off after Holtz without any way of finding him, and right now I really don't have time to hold her hand."
"That's harsh," said Tara, "but I see what you mean. The clock's ticking and we need to concentrate on finding Connor first. But you'll have to tell her sooner or later."
"If we don't get anywhere by five I'll call her, get her here with Spike as soon as it's dark."
"Spike?" asked Billie, "isn't he another vampire?"
"We may need all the muscle we can get and vampires have tracker dogs beat hollow," said Cordelia. "Angel could probably smell Connor a couple of blocks away, Spike ought to be about as good. Why the hell aren't the PTBs sending me another vision? C'mon, guys, your champion's been killed and his son's in danger, let's have some info!"
"Typical," said Gunn, "Never a vision around when you want one, then three come along at once."
"What we really need is Oz," said Willow, turning her attention back to the screen, "but he's somewhere in Tibet."
"He a vampire too?" asked Gunn. "How many of these guys you got on your side?"
"Werewolf," said Wesley. "They're pretty good trackers too, and it's not the full moon so he'd be safe."
"That's it," said Willow, looking up from the computer, "we're in."
"How much access do you have?" asked Fred.
"How much do we need?"
"You're that good?" asked Billie.
"I was hacking the FBI when I was fifteen, this is kiddie stuff by comparison, Wolfram and Hart must be assuming that all of their serious problems will be magical."
"I think this is where I hand over to you, April. Before you plug in, tell Zap to be ready to go in if we give the word."
"Okay, he's ready." April connected a cable to the back of the computer then lifted the hem of her blouse, peeled open a patch of 'skin' to plug it into her abdomen and shut her eyes. "Anywhere in particular you want me to look?"
"Can you get into their internal security system? The password's encrypted, but I'm pretty sure the key is an anagram of 'Wolfram and Hart.'"
"Not very imaginative," said Tara, crumbling some dark green leaves into a crucible.
"I'm in," April said a few seconds later, "I had to try nearly three thousand permutations and pretend to be an authorised user, so it isn't completely insecure."
"Which user?" asked Wesley.
"Someone called Lilah Morgan."
"Holy crap," said Cordelia, "the bitch queen herself. She's not going to be happy."
"Then she shouldn't leave her computer switched on when she's out of her office," April said disapprovingly.
"Couldn't happen to a nastier person," said Wesley.
"What have you got?" Billie asked impatiently.
"Nothing really unusual," said April, "they don't seem to be on any special alert status."
"Can you get at visitor's logs, that sort of thing?" asked Willow.
"Yes. No Justine Cooper, no Holtz."
"Save what you can find," said Fred, looking at another screen, "I think they're onto you. Traffic on their phone lines has gone up by nearly fifty percent over the last couple of minutes. At least one of the calls was nine-one-one."
"I don't think it's me," said April, "There's still... oh, security alert. No, not us, there's a fire."
"Where?" asked Willow.
"Car in the basement car park."
"Green Taurus, registration... it has stolen plates."
"Justine's car," said Billie, "What the hell's going on?"
"It was left in visitor's parking forty minutes ago, it's on fire."
"Any information on the driver?" asked Wesley.
"No, nobody was logged in around that time."
"Can you get at the cameras?" asked Willow.
"No, they aren't connected to the network."
"Wait a minute... they're putting a screen shot onto the network, warning all security stations to look out for her."
"I don't know." A picture appeared on Willow's screen. "Is that her?"
"Yes." The picture showed her carrying a bundle that looked like a baby.
"Wait a second," said Fred, "can you enhance that picture, zoom in on the red van about four cars back?"
"Sure," said Willow, dropping the frame into another program. "Here we go."
"That's Holtz in the passenger seat," said Fred, staring at the screen.
"I've lost the connection," said April.
"Me too," said Fred. "The phone lines have gone completely dead."
"Try the police radio," said Gunn, "maybe there's something there."
"..code ten-eighty, repeat ten-eighty, at Wolfram and Hart building. All units in vicinity respond."
"What does ten-eighty mean?" asked Willow.
"Explosion," said Gunn, flipping through a list of codes.
"If we're piecing this together right," said Cordelia, "Justine dumped the car at the Wolfram and Hart building, crossed to that van, and left with Holtz, leaving some kind of incendiary in the car. It caught fire and set off the gas tank, and the explosion took out their phones and cable."
"More likely blew some circuit breakers," said Fred, "their phones are already back on line, I doubt the cable will be long."
"Why would they do that?" asked Billie.
"They must be hiding their trail," said Wesley, leafing through a book of ancient prophecies. "Somehow they knew that the building was screened against magical prying, it'd be the perfect place to lose us and the fire would help against forensics."
"We know that someone on Holtz's team knows some magic," said Tara, pouring the contents of her crucible into a tumbler and giving it to Billie. "Drink this, it'll hold off the spell a while longer."
"Tincture of zinnis weed?" asked Wesley, raising his eyebrows.
"A mixture of zinnis plus some burba weed and bay leaves," said Tara, "You get the same result but it's a lot less toxic."
"Less?" asked Billie, pausing with the tumbler half-way to her lips. "Non-toxic would be nice."
"Don't worry, it'd take a lot more than that to hurt you."
"Wait a minute," said Billie, "do we want to stop the spell?"
"I don't understand," said Tara, "why would you want it to control you again?"
"If it didn't stop working once I'd killed Angel, won't it help to know what it wants me to do next?"
"Maybe," said Willow, "but that could be really dangerous for you."
"I don't see why."
"What if you're supposed to kill yourself?"
"You'd stop me."
"If I could, but for all we know it's something like a curse that'd stop your heart."
"I really can't imagine why Holtz would do that."
"But it isn't Holtz we're dealing with," said Tara. Everyone looked at her, confused. "There's nothing to suggest that Holtz knows magic, and with the background you've described it seems very unlikely, he'd more likely be a witch-hunter. But someone brought him through time, and cast the spell on Billie. Billie even heard him talking, although she didn't see him. Whoever or whatever it is has to be really powerful."
"Wait a minute," said Fred, "They bought Holtz a couple of hundred years into the future. How would they know that Angel would be here now?"
"A prophecy?" Wesley suggested.
"There are too many prophecies and most of them are way too vague. I'm thinking time travel."
"Good lord. Whatever gives you that idea?"
"Willow changed her past so we know it's possible, and I think something smells about the prophecies you've read. You remember that book? The one that was supposed to be incredibly rare? The one that said that Angel would kill Connor?"
"Yes, of course."
"How many copies were printed?"
"Maybe a hundred."
"How many copies did they have?"
"Doesn't it strike you as a little unusual that three copies of a book that rare would end up in the same place?" asked Fred, "half the world away from where it was published."
"Well yes, but..."
"Angel's been around LA on and off for fifty-odd years and he didn't have a copy."
"And there's nothing like it in Giles' collection or the Magic Box," said Willow. "And another thing, Buffy told me that some demon, what was his name... Whistler said that most of the prophecies about Angel were upset when he fell in love with her. Why should something so specific still be right?"
"Like I said earlier," said Gunn, "Never one around, then three come along at once. They saw you coming. Someone planted copies, must have arranged for them to be sold to the shop. You don't do that unless you know damned well that someone's going to come looking. Fred's right, it's time travellers. Terminator time."
"Maybe," admitted Wesley, "but that doesn't find Connor for us, or explain why they wanted Angel dead."
"It isn't just Angel," Cordelia said, horrified realisation in her tones. "I don't think it was ever really about Angel, exactly. It's Connor that's the target. Think about it, Holtz appeared just before Connor was born. We saw him at Caritas, he was all set to kill Angel and Darla, if he'd been a few seconds faster he would have killed them before Connor was born. When he saw Connor he stopped, I guess he saw that he was an innocent child. I'm willing to bet that wasn't what the guy who pulled the strings had planned. All along he's wanted Connor dead, Holtz was just his weapon."
"And now Holtz has Connor," said Billie, "and it's my fault it happened. Put the antidote away, I'll take my chances with the spell. Let's hope we learn something useful."