Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland
ffutures

The Rosenberg Inheritance part XVI

I've been designing Victorian spaceship construction rules all day and my eyes were beginning to glaze over so I decided to take an hour off and finish off the next chunk of The Rosenberg Inheritance, my long BtVS / Angel / Lou Grant crossover.

If you don't know what the story is about then I strongly urge you to get up to speed first, since things went pretty much completely AU in the previous story, Family Issues, a BtVS / Men In Black crossover, about half way through BtVS S6 / Angel S3. Things have got VERY weird in the Angelverse in this story.

Family Issues is at

http://www.tthfanfic.com/story.php?no=675
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1300615/1/

Previous parts of The Rosenberg Inheritance are at

http://www.tthfanfic.com/story.php?no=1618
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1472145/1/



Usual disclaimers apply - see the previous parts for everything else.

The Rosenberg Inheritance - XVI


"I can't believe he's gone," said Lorne, swallowing most of a Seabreeze in a single gulp. "I especially can't believe that none of you even came upstairs to tell me."

"We were all kinda caught up in things," said Fred. "What with the kidnapping and all. Sorry..."

"I had thought to help Angel," said Groo, "but if he is dead then I am sad." He morosely picked at his noodles.

"But we definitely need your help, Groo," said Cordy, letting Connor taste the sauce on her fingers, "things are a mess right now." Connor burped messily, and Cordelia began to clean him up.

"And this is the warrior that killed him?" He looked at Holtz appraisingly.

"I am responsible," said Holtz, who wasn't eating.

"Honour demands that I take your head to avenge my friend." He suddenly looked much more cheerful.

"Wait a minute," said Gunn, "first of all, the man had good reason. Angel killed his family. Second, when were you friends? You had one fight then helped each other take out the bad guys, that was it."

"We fought a common foe, it is sufficient."

"And third," said Billie, "he didn't kill Angel. I did."

"Why?" asked Groo, looking at her in disbelief. "And how?"

"I thought I was protecting Willow. Apparently there was a spell of some sort."

"Then you cannot be held responsible. As for this man, if he is the wizard who enchanted you..."

"It's more complicated than that," Cordy said hastily, "it looks like someone tricked all of us, used magic on Billie and Justine and Holtz to cause this."

"You said his name is Sahjan," said Willow, " we can probably find records if we try."

Holtz hesitated.

"C'mon," said Willow, "You know he's manipulating you."

"Yes.. but he did help me gain my vengeance."

"You did what he asked. I'll bet he didn't tell you he wanted Connor dead. An innocent child. Why help him?"

"When you put it that way.." said Holtz. "He is a demon that can't be touched."

"How come?" asked Fred.

He shrugged. "You can see him and talk to him, but he can't be touched."

"Intangible? Could be some kinda astral projection," said Willow, "or even something like a hologram. Have you seen him outdoors?"

"Indoors and outdoors," said Holtz, "I've walked with him on several occasions. He told me that he needed me because he couldn't do things for himself."

"I've never seen him," said Justine. "First I've heard of him."

"My guess," said Fred, "he's somehow out of phase with solid matter. Did he seem to have trouble falling through the floor?"

"Through the floor? No."

"Did he seem to affect the world at all?"

"No... yes, I've noticed candle flames flicker as he passed."

"Then there must be some interaction with the physical world, if not very much."

"Okay," said Willow. "We can maybe deal with that, depends how it works."

"How visible is he?" asked Fred. "Are we talking semi-transparent, or does he look real?"

"Real," said Holtz.

"Find a way for me to attack him," said Groo, "and I will slay him for my Princess."

"Way to go, Groo!" said Cordy.

"As for you," he said to Holtz, "I shall forego vengeance for my friend Angel, since he harmed your family. I have no quarrel with you."

"That's good," said Holtz. "then I have none with you."

"You could have said that a little more sincerely," said Lorne.

"For now I am prepared to give this demon the benefit of the doubt, as I do you. But I will have your heads if you harm any human."

"That seems fair," Lorne said nervously, careful to avoid mentioning that decapitation alone wouldn't kill him.

"It's okay," said Cordelia. "Groo's a Champion, kinda like Angel only alive."

"Cordy," said Willow, "You remember why Holtz is here?"

"Oh.. Okay, not that much like Angel."

"You know," said Tara, eyeing him appraisingly, "He is like Angel. Physically, I mean. Nearly the same height and build, same hair if he used a little gel, and from what you told us he's about as strong. If he made a few night-time appearances in the right clothes and didn't talk to anyone or get too close, we could keep up the pretence that Angel is alive... well, less dead... while we try to come up with a permanent solution."

"What are you smoking, girl?" asked Gunn, deliberately exaggerating his accent. "Cos' that's seriously weird. He don't move like Angel, he don't talk like Angel, he's got them weird blue eyes, sure as hell he can't pass for Angel."

Groo looked confused.

"She does have a point," said Billie. "Most people are very poor witnesses, if they saw someone that looked roughly right they'd believe it."

"People yes, but we're talking here about demons. They'd smell it wasn't Angel. Hell, some of them can pick up on body heat and aura."

"Those things can be disguised," Willow said musingly, "So can the eyes."

"Wouldn't fool someone like Lilah Morgan," Wesley mused, "not to talk to, but in a fight we might get away with it. The real question is if the Groosalug would be willing to fight disguised, if he would feel dishonoured by such a ruse."

"A ruse of war? Of course not, if it is in a worthy cause."

"Okay," said Willow, "we won't do it unless we have to, there's too much that could go wrong, but we'll keep that option in mind. Let's get back to Sahjan, we need to know as much as we can about him. Wes, get the books, let's see if we can work out who or what he really is... Oh dear, if he's really intangible, for all we know he could be invisible too. He might be here right now."

"He could be... one of us," said Gunn, then shook his head and added "Sorry, too much SciFi channel." Holtz and Groo both looked confused.

"Willow," said Wesley, "I think you may be undersetimating your own power. Surely you or Tara would notice?"

"Well, maybe. A lot depends on how he does it. But if Holtz was really seeing him, not just experiencing something that made him think that he was seeing him, it opens up all sorts of possibilities. April, when Zap gets back ask him to run a full spectrum scan. Tara and I will take care of the magical side of things."

"He's already back," said April. "He can't detect anything unusual."

"So where is he?"

"Watching mister Holtz."

Holtz looked around, confused. "What is this Zap? A ghost?"

"You know," said Willow, "I don't think I'm gonna tell you right now. Not that I don't trust you, but... well, to be blunt, I'm not sure I do trust you a hundred percent. Zap's here. Let me show you." She picked up a thick phone book, held it at arms length, and said "Zap, would you demonstrate please." There was a noise like a clap of thunder and a neat three inch hole appeared in the book, smoking at the edges. "Point taken?"

"Yes," said Holtz, "I think so." Willow smiled at him.

"Holy crap," said Cordelia. "You never said he could do that."

"Didn't I?" said Willow. "Sorry..." She didn't sound very sincere.

"The question remains," said Wesley, "what are we going to do? Wolfram and Hart are undoubtedly plotting against all of us, there are a dozen different cults and groups after Connor, we still don't know why there was an attempt to kidnap Ms. Newman - yes, I know we've all let that one slide - and this Sahjan wants Connor dead. Have I forgotten anything?"

"Buffy," Willow, Tara, and April said almost simultaneously.

"Buffy?" asked Wesley.

"Sooner or later one of us is gonna have to tell her Angel's dead," said Willow. "And when that happens she's gonna want to make someone pay."

"Oh wonderful," said Wesley. "Just what the world needs, a grief-stricken Slayer with revenge issues."

"Make that two," said Cordelia, "or were you forgetting Miss American Psycho 2000 over at the state penitentiary?"

"Surely that's not an immediate problem," said Wesley.

"He visited her every two weeks, Wes. You think she won't notice that he's stopped coming?"

"Damn. Well, at least she's behind bars."

"Sure, for about two minutes once she realises he's disappeared. She's staying inside because she wants to."

"To quote Giles, 'Oh dear lord.' Yes, that might be a problem." He rubbed his head.

"Who are you talking about?" asked Billie.

"Faith," said Cordelia. "Buffy was clinically dead for a minute or so, the Powers activated the next Slayer in line, a girl called Kendra. When she was killed Faith was activated. Only Faith was kinda... well, psychotic, I guess. She killed someone accidentally and that took her over the edge. To cut a long story short, Angel kinda turned her around, talked her into giving herself up."

"I remember the name, someone mentioned her the first time I heard about Angel."

"The trouble is," said Wesley, "that I think that she may be psychologically dependent on Angel. Now he's dead there's no knowing how she'll react."

"You think?" Cordelia said sarcastically.

"There are two Slayers?" asked Holtz, catching up with the conversation.

"For about three years now," said Willow. "It came as a surprise to all of us."

"And both of them are gonna be pissed when they hear what happened to Angel," said Cordelia.

"We can't tell her until I get back to Sunnydale anyway. Zap's been taking out Wolfram and Hart's phone taps and bugs at this end, but I never thought to check in Sunnydale. Wouldn't surprise me if they're tapping Buffy's lines too. I'll need to check all the cellphones too. Same for everyone's apartments."

"Don't worry," said Wesley, "we realised that some time ago. We're very careful what we say on the phone. Dare I ask if there's anything else?"

"Holtz," said Billie. Holtz looked at her enquiringly. "You're wanted by the police. By now they've got your name and fingerprints, and I gave them a pretty good description the first time you showed up at my house."

"Is that our concern?" asked Wesley.

"It ought to be," said Billie. "We know that Wolfram and Hart are watching this building, if they tell the police he's here they'll probably show up with warrants."

"And with at least half of them reporting back to Wolfram and Hart," said Gunn. "They might not get that Angel's gone, but they'd soon know he isn't here. If you get the distinction."

"And there's no way that Angel would leave for long with Connor here," said Cordelia.

"Maybe I'd better leave," said Holtz. "I assume you have a quiet route out, one that can't be observed?"

"That's not a bad idea," said Willow. "But not just you. I need to take a look at places where you've seen Sahjan. Tara too, honey, if you don't mind."

"Okay. Let me get my things."

"And me," said April. "If I understand this correctly, I'm immune to the type of magic Sahjan used on Billie and Justine."

"Good point," said Willow.

"I'd like to come too," said Billie, "for all we know Sahjan plans to cast another spell on me as soon as I'm on my own, I'd prefer to be with someone who understands these things."

"And me," said Justine. "I'm not staying here with.. that." She gestured towards Lorne, who shrugged and said "Your loss, honey."

"Okay, that's six of us," said Willow, "Anyone else?"

"Perhaps I should come too," said Fred, "if he really is intangible..."

"Shall I charter a bus?" Wesley asked sarcastically.

"You brought my car, didn't you?" said Justine.

"Yeah," said Willow, "if you two use that the rest of us can fit in mine."

"Hey," said Cordy, "you've already... oh crap... vision..." Fred took Connor as Cordelia's eyes seemed to lose their focus. She sat immobile for about thirty seconds, then said "Demon, attacking a kid in Sorenson park."

"Another one?" asked Willow. "Wasn't there one in Griffith Park a couple of weeks ago?"

"Maybe it's the season or something. Wasn't the same type anyway."

"When?" asked Gunn, as Wesley reached for a bestiary showing most of the common species.

"Looked to be about mid-day tomorrow." She looked pale.

"Are you okay?" asked Tara.

"Sure. No pain since I did that deal with Skip, just kinda vivid."

"That's good," said Tara. Billie thought she looked troubled.

"Mid-day's good," said Cordelia, "means we can put in an appearance without anyone wondering why Angel isn't there, pretend it's business as usual. Gives us time to hit the books, do a little research."

"Maybe we'd better forget about Holtz's place for now," said Willow.

"No," said Wesley. "You're right, it needs to be checked. Perhaps you could do that, while we concentrate on research."

"I guess I'd better stay too," said Fred.

"Okay, then we'll check it out," said Willow. "April, can you and Zap take care of any cameras, that kinda thing."

"Okey-dokey."

"Let's get this show on the road."

* * * * *


"What's wrong, sweetie?" asked Willow, as they followed Justine's car towards the docks.

"I got a weird vibe," said Tara. "From Cordelia, when she had the vision."

"Weird?" asked Billie.

"She made a deal to stop the visions killing her... part of it was she was made part demon..."

"She mentioned it."

"Well.. just for a second there I thought I could feel something, the kinda vibe I get around vampires. It was faint, and I couldn't see anything in her aura, but I'm pretty sure it was there."

"Wouldn't you expect that?" asked Willow.

"Sure, but this felt... I don't know... kinda evil."

"Cordy isn't evil. She's kinda self-centred, but Angel told me about it.. she could have given the visions up completely and walked away from all this, she chose to keep them and carry on saving people."

"You know what they say, sweetie," said Tara. "Magic always comes with a price. And I've got a feeling that the price for that one's gonna be pretty high. What I felt was faint, but who says it's going to stay that way?"

"Do we tell her?"

"I think we have to. There's tests we could do, but she'd have to be a willing participant."

Billie felt horrified. The thought of Cordelia being taken over by something intangible was repulsive, and something she could relate to all too easily. She asked "Would it be like the spell that was cast on me?"

"Kinda," said Willow, "though that's not what was done to you. If Tara's right it'd start off with her getting some demonic powers, maybe starting to use them. The more she used them the more she'd become the demon, eventually it'd take her over. She'd start doing things that helped it, maybe without even knowing she was doing it, and she'd be more and more the demon until there was nothing left of her."

"Can you stop it?"

"Maybe. There's usually some kinda condition in spells, a way to pull them apart if you know how they work."

"Willow," said Tara. "You know I'm not strong enough to do that on my own. I probably don't even have the power to figure out the problem properly, not on my own. You'll have to help me."

Willow looked pale but determined as she said "I know."

"Holtz is slowing," said April. "His destination seems to be that warehouse."

"Why is it always werehouses?" Willow asked rhetorically. "Okay, pull in, let's go take a look. Billie, April, please don't discuss what we were saying with anyone yet. Not Cordy even, not yet. Let us do a little research first."

"Okay" "Okey-dokey."

TBC



Next I really ought to take another swing at Deeds of Maidenly Unkindness, my BtVS / St. Trinians Crossover, but I suspect the next update will turn out to be the next chunk of The Key To Byzantium. But the game stuff has to come first so it may be a while before anything else appears.
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