Welcome to the Jungle by Niamh
Second by Niamh
Author's Notes:
Thanks everyone who left a review. . . even the person who told me chapter one was boring. Oh well. Can't please everyone. Or sometimes anyone.
[A/N: I wanna write. . Really. I do. But nothing seems to be . . . I’m struggling again, sort of with everything. Nothing is. . . I’m just gonna stop whining and hope that the feedback from all these things actually makes the muse happy, because otherwise, I’m at a real loss and I just don’t know what to do anymore. This is for Tam, because without her, I’d have been bogged down months and months ago, and not a damn thing would be finished. Nothing. This is all for her. I hope she likes it. Lyrics are from Siouxsie and the Banshees – Lullaby off the album Tinderbox. Disclaimers prove this none of this is mine. I have nothing. Does having nothing mean you are nothing?]

Second

The lunacy will leave the day
Luminous in flight
As the moon spits out
In jagged beams another night
Wrap around this brilliant veil
Tranquil and unbroken
As you spiral down
A world of clay and taut convulsion
The dream swan spins
And cartwheel turns
Down deep within your violet side
The sun begins to rise
Skating down its morning swords to thaw your frozen eyes
The dream swan spins
And so conceal the heart that aches and yearns
Hush awhile
Sleepless child
I'll be watching over you




There was a muffled sort of buzzing in her head, wiping out all other sounds. Everything seemed so far away, distant, like her body was disconnected from everything. Her head there. . . her arms somewhere else, and her legs gone some place very far away. Her mouth was dry, cottony yet metallic – like she’d bit down on a piece of tin foil. She wasn’t dreaming, that much she knew, because her dreams were always full of warmth and sand, and right now all she felt was cold. Cold fingers and toes, which was odd, because they didn’t feel connected to her arms and legs. She tried opening her eyes, tried to focus on something that felt familiar. Nothing worked. Her eyes refused to follow her brain’s urgings.

Sighing heavily, she slipped once more into the depths.

Will sat in the chair, his eyes flicking from the monitor to the girl, gauging her progress. Five minutes ago, he swore he saw her move, but with his eyes on the monitor, he convinced himself he’d only seen what he wanted to. The clock on the wall outside the nurse’s station ticked steadily toward noon. He wondered, not for the first time, what kind of evidence Gunn and Lawson had managed to gather and whether it would make a difference at all.

Ten years of his life had been blown away by some anonymous assassin. Someone close to Angelus had to have done this; only that theory made any sense in his head. The man had been too paranoid, too careful for an outsider to have penetrated his elaborate defenses.

Spike dropped his head, closing his eyes briefly. Two discarded cups of acrid coffee sat on the bedside table, the dark liquid beginning to stain the white paper. The hangover that had threatened earlier had burned away under the harsh hospital lighting, leaving behind nothing but a nagging, aching pain in his neck and upper shoulders.

Ten fucking years. . . .

What a long, strange road his career had taken. He’d started out in the London Metropolitan Police, quickly advancing through the ranks, and through a twist of fate, landing himself in the Counter Terrorism Command. Thanks in part to his linguistic abilities, he’d been recruited by the Intelligence Service, otherwise known the world over as MI-6. He’d deluded himself, as a much younger man, into believing he was going to roam the world like James Bond. The reality was so much uglier.

Liam Reilly had been the bane of his career. Some days, he grimly thought the man had been the bane of his very existence – put on earth for the sole torment of William James Pratt. . .

He’d spent so much bloody time on the bastard that his wife had left him, just before he’d been loaned out to the NYPD. Drusilla had stayed in London, refusing to travel and leave her home. Will, on the other hand, had known exactly what he’d been offered. A chance to get away from the stifling rigidity of British Intelligence and to really make a name for himself.

And he had. His reputation with the NYPD and with Counter-Intelligence of the CIA and Homeland Security forces was nigh untouchable. It very nearly made up for the loneliness.

Nearly.

Low voices in the hallway caught his attention and Spike stood up, stretching and fighting a yawn. He ducked his head out, catching a glimpse of Gunn striding toward him.

“English, we got something.”

“What’s that?”

Gunn stopped at the door, glancing over his shoulder at the bed. “Rape kit came back positive. She’s bruised all over, man.” He grimaced and then pulled Will further away from the door. “Got no name yet, but Lawson’s flipping through missing persons.”

“Hell.”

“We didn’t run a physical to see if she’s got any tats or scars.” The admission came under his breath and the bigger man braced for the verbal abuse. When none came, he glanced over at the shorter man. “Dude, what’s up?”

“Got a weird feelin’, tha’s all. Like maybe we shouldn’t be . . . maybe we should just keep her quiet, you know?”

He thought this over, trying to follow the convoluted logic the Englishman sometimes employed. Gunn never pretended to understand the intuition Will had, but he’d learned, over time, not to underestimate his hunches and gut feelings. “What’re you thinking?”

“She’s not out of the woods yet. Could be she might not make it. ‘D rather keep Harris and McDonald off her tail.” Will ran a hand through the thick curls on his head, leaving his hair even more disheveled.

“You think it was one of them.” It wasn’t a question.

“Could be.”

“Could be.” Gunn paused, slapping his hand against the surface of the wall behind him. “Anything else you want us to cover up?”

Spike stared at him, his blue eyes suddenly burning in his tired face. “Charlie, ‘s not like that.”

“What is it like? I’ve been working my ass off since three this morning, I’m tired and you’re making no kind of sense at all. Wanna share with me what you’re thinking?”

Spike blew out a breath, trying to piece together his jumbled thoughts. “Where’s Lehane?”

“What? That’s what you’re thinking? Dude, you – ”

Before Gunn could start on a tirade sure to get them noticed, Will pulled him into the girl’s room and shut the door. “Listen to me. I got a dead terrorist and a chit ‘m dead sure isn’t legal as my only witness. There’s any number of possible suspects. An’ she’s the only one to have seen the shooter.”

“So why you asking about Lehane?” Spike remained silent, his eyes no longer watching Charles, but on the girl in the bed. “Oh. I get it.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah. I’m seeing the picture now. What’re you gonna do?”

They were standing on opposite sides of the bed, Will’s focus still on the girl, while Gunn watched him carefully.

“Not sure. For now she’s safe, since no one’s been here but you.”

“How long you gonna stay here?”

Will shoved his hands in his pockets, itching for a cigarette he no longer smoked. “Don’t know that.”

With a deep sigh, Gunn headed for the door. “Don’t go to ground unless you let me know where, right?”

“Yeah.”

Charles was gone before Will could think better of letting him go. If his real partner hadn’t shown in the last couple of hours, that meant she wasn’t going to, which didn’t sit well with him at all. She’d been working surveillance on Lindsey McDonald, Reilly’s right-hand and been out of contact for the last eighteen hours. She wasn’t due to check in until noon, which was barely an hour away, although he had expected her to show at the murder scene.

Spike blew out a heavy sigh, idly smoothing a hand over the girl’s bruised cheek, before sitting down in the chair. Reilly’s death had to have been spreading like wildfire through the news. Grabbing the remote, he flipped on the television, heading right for CNN. And there it was, on the rolling ticker, just like he’d expected. . . without any mention of the girl.

Which was exactly what they wanted at the moment. The last thing the hotel wanted to admit to was the presence of an underage prostitute on the premises, no doubt the family hadn’t even been advised of her existence. When he’d left with the girl, Gunn and Lawson had been about to start questioning the staff, though he doubted they had anything but helpful information. Though how the shooter got up to the suite was an interesting question.

The clock creaked steadily toward the noon hour and he had to fight to keep his eyes open. He was tired, drained from hours of hovering over the unconscious girl, muscles screaming for a spot where he could lay down and just surrender to sleep.

She started twitching steadily the closer the clock ground down, no doubt the fluids the hospital was pumping into her system doing their part to flush out her system.

Will was waiting for her doctor, for Gunn, for anyone with some information on the tiny girl. He kept playing a guessing game with himself about her age, flipping between a barely legal seventeen and something he really didn’t want to contemplate. She was probably a runaway from somewhere in the Midwest. He wondered if a missing person’s report had been filed – or if she was one of those that ran because no one cared.

CNN and Fox were still only running ticker information, which meant the wife’s family had gotten to the media. For once he was grateful and his grudging respect for Darla Mondale Reilly grew. She was a hell-bitch worthy of her husband.

His cell phone vibrated at his hip as a doctor entered the room. Will motioned the man to wait, listening as Gunn fed him the information he’d been waiting for.

“Girl could be Buffy Summers, a fifteen year old reported missing from California more than six months ago. Fits the general description. Blonde, green eyes, puncture scar on her lower right abdomen.”

“Right. Bury that file.”

“What? You want me to lose the file after spending all fucking morning looking for it? How the hell am I supposed to do that?” Gunn’s irritation got the better of him, anger and fatigue bleeding through.

“Pull up all missing blondes and bury her in the numbers. Keep looking.” He waited while Gunn spluttered angrily. “Use your head, Charles.”

Gunn breathed heavily into the phone, obviously not pleased with the turn of the conversation. Spike held on for a moment, asking, “Sam dig up anything with the staff?”

“Not a damn thing. Only the doorman saw the girl, no one else was in and out of that room on his shift. Got Oscar working on the dayshift. I’m thinking the shooter had to be already in place. What I don’t get is why shoot and then rip out his guts.”

“If it was one of his boys, that bit makes no sense.”

“You’re thinking someone else?”

“Dunno what ‘m thinkin’ just yet, Charlie.”

“Right.” He could hear Gunn grumbling a bit, then he dropped his voice, “How long you gonna pretend that girl isn’t our main suspect?”

“She’s not. Not now and still won’t be in a week.” Before his partner could get started on a diatribe Will wasn’t ready to hear, he growled out, “Call you back.”

Will turned to face the doctor. “Sorry, doc. What can you tell me?”

“Her vitals are better and her pupils are responding to light. She should be waking up soon.” He was testing her reflexes, frowning slighting at the lack of response.

Running a hand through his already disheveled hair, Spike sighed. “When can I take her out of here?”

“Normally, I’d be reluctant to let her go, but,” the doctor hesitated, his eyes on the barely concealed weapon at Spike’s hip and the black and gold shield around his neck. “I’d say as soon as she’s awake and stable.”

He fiddled with the IV drip, adjusting the rate of intake. “Do you have an ID?”

Not liking the way the other man avoided his eyes, Spike followed his instincts. “No.”

“Too bad. She’s very young.” The doctor looked at him then, his smile smarmy and not reaching his eyes.

Spike’s intuition went into hyper drive and he suddenly felt the urge to get the Doctor away from his witness. “Yeah. Thanks, doc.”

“I’ll be back in a couple of hours to check on her.” He didn’t wait for a response from Spike, heading for the door.

“Yeah, you do that.” Spike muttered uneasily to the man’s back.

Gotta get her out of here. . . before anyone notices I’ve done it. Thankfully, he had his duster with him, which could cover the girl from prying eyes. He just needed a slight distraction, something to keep curious eyes away from them. How the hell am I gonna manage this?

Trying to gauge how heavy she was, Spike lifted her off the bed, surprised at how little she weighed and just how small she actually was. Chit barely weighs a stone. Doubt she’s even a hundred pounds.

Putting her gently back down on the bed, he stared at her blindly. The easiest way to get her out would be through the Emergency Room, or out the service entrance. Trickiest part would be getting her from where she was now, on the fifth floor, down to either of those places.

He thought about calling Gunn or Lawson to have either of them run interference, then changed his mind. While the paranoia engendered by the doctor’s seemingly innocuous visit might be excessive, his instincts told him otherwise. Something about the whole murder scene wasn’t right; from the girl’s presence to her survival, it rang of a set-up. He was supposed to find the girl, to believe just by proximity alone she was the number one suspect.

Will didn’t like set-ups. Didn’t like the conspiracy angle his brain was forcing him to contemplate. The girl was a McGuffin. Just who was the puppet master?

Decision made, Will flipped open his phone, quickly dialing a little used number. When the call was answered on the third ring, he spoke before the other person had a chance. “It’s me. Need a favor. Need a distraction, an’ a car waiting.”

“Spike? What’s up?” The voice was deep and sultry, the promise of sex and other vices readily apparent.

“Listen, luv, don’t wan’ to get into details jus’ yet. Can you do it?”

All business now. “How soon and where?”

“Right away. St. Vincent’s Hospital.”

A husky chuckled sigh sounded in his ear and he forced himself to keep from pleading with her. “Give me an hour. Car will be waiting in the ambulance bay. Has Jersey plates. Ditch it when you’re done.”

“Thanks, pet.”






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