Genre You Prefer: No specific requests. Although I do hope it's funny! That's why I want the pairing. lol
Requests: Must deal with Buffy's reaction to Muppet!Angel."
I'm not entirely sure I hit the mark, Ryka. And I apologize *profusely* if I've missed it by too much. But without further ado, here is:
Title: No Strings Attached
Notes: Many thanks to Tania, Melissa, Colleen, and Alanna for their support through the creation of this fic, and to the rest of the peanut gallery for egging me on in an area where I feel most insecure. Ryka, I hope you don't hate it. I have a hard time with funny, and this was the best I could come up with!
"Still not getting the problem. L.A. is Angel's territory, and he's the big man on campus now, with all of those corporate resources he's so sure he can use for good."
Buffy pushed her hair behind her ear again, trying to control her impatience with this self-designated 'friend' who'd turned up out of the blue, telling her that her help was needed halfway across the world. He was certainly strange enough to be Giles' friend.
But LA was one place she never, ever intended to go again.
The short, purple creature in fedora and trench coat walked across the room and flipped on the television, where the CNN news announcer described a wave of mass catatonia which had stricken the children of the greater Los Angeles area.
"I think, signora, that if this 'Angel' you speak of were going to help, he'd have done so by now. Signore Giles has sent me, and time, it is of the essence. Let me a-send you?"
When she saw the faces of the children, Buffy released a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding and muttered, "All right. But I want to be home before dinner."
Turning away from her visitor, she said, "Let me write a note for Dawn."
She missed the small smile and the flash of felt tongue as she bent over the desk to scribble a note: "Had to leave -- be back soon. Tell Giles he owes me *big time* for this."
"Fred? Wes?" Angel approached the secret room with caution, all too aware of the danger presented by the rays of light streaming into the hallway. The lack of noise from within wasn't exactly encouraging. Two of the puppets on set had escaped, and he was leery of ambush.
As he reached the doorway ahead of Spike and Gunn, Angel stopped cold. The room appeared empty, but for the glowing, partially cracked egg and Wesley and Fred's crumpled bodies. Before he could warn them to stay away from the light, Spike and Gunn were inside, each to a fallen companion. Fortunately, neither spared a glance at the egg.
"She's alive," Gunn called from across the room. "And the scroll is still here." He gathered woman and parchment in his arms and headed for the door, while Spike did the same with Wesley.
"Dunno what got him, but there's a lump on the side of his head the size of a grapefruit," Spike remarked as he brushed past Angel.
Already halfway down the hall, he called back, "Come on, then, get a move on. I'll come back for the runaway pipsqueaks when we've got these two settled."
Angel turned aside, still filled with a nagging sense of having missed something important. He didn't see the intense flash of light that came from within the room as he moved down the hallway and when a feminine scream of rage filled the building, Angel was long gone.
By the time she'd made it to the downtown offices of Wolfram & Hart, Buffy was fit to be tied. It was hard enough getting a cab in the middle of the night without having to fling yourself bodily at the windshield to catch a drivers' attention. And never mind how difficult getting into a cab was when you're two feet tall.
Being invisible for real had been fun, but being invisible because she was entirely below eye-level only served to increase her anger. The doorman in the lobby hadn't spared her a glance until she kicked him in the shin, and the elevator security guard ignored her presence in the elevator entirely, leaving her to jump for the buttons to the executive floor, which were a good foot and a half out of her reach.
When she reached Angel's office reception area, she was angry enough to blow through the door with her glare, but a giggly Harmony got there before she did.
"Buffy, it's so nice to," Harmony looked down with a smirk, "see you again. Angel's busy with a...client now, though. You really don't want to--"
"Open that door before I throw you through it," Buffy threatened through twisted lips. If she'd had any teeth to clench, it would have been more effective. As it stood, it was fairly comical, and Harmony was going to get the most out of this experience.
"Well you don't have to get nasty," Harmony admonished, moving away from the door's center.
Buffy took a running leap at the door, unable to stop herself from bellowing, "Hiiiii-ya!" as she pushed the door in on its hinges.
"It won't do you any more good than it did him," Harmony called into the office as she resumed her manicure at the desk. "And all that frowning will create wrinkles -- there's nothing more unattractive than wrinkled felt!"
Of all the things Buffy thought she'd see when she stormed into his office--maybe Angel in a black suit, sitting in a Godfather-style leather chair, or possibly wearing those entirely-too-tight leather pants and pacing with that adorable broody wrinkle on his forehead--what she'd least expected was what she found: Angel, lying on a couch with his head in the lap of a skinny blond woman who smelled vaguely of wet dog. He was a puppet. His nose was askew. And that woman's hands were in his fuzzy hair.
"What the hell?" Buffy exploded, her cheeks scrunching into puffy balls that reddened with exertion.
Angel jumped up from his reclining position and tipped head-first off the couch, landing in an ignominious heap as he caught sight of her.
Angel stood and pulled his coat straight, trying to speak coherently. "What are you...where have you. Oh boy."
Nina watched from the couch with an amused smile on her face. So *this* was the infamous Buffy: Three feet of felty fury, topped with a blond pony-tail, and glaring at Angel for all she was worth.
"What have I...?" Buffy stomped closer to Angel, finding that she didn't need to draw herself up to face him down. Without the slightest sense of how ridiculous the situation must appear, she reached out a stubby pink finger to poke him in the chest, causing him to back into the couch Nina had quickly vacated.
"The question is 'what have *you* done'? Is this some kind of a freaky plot to get me back for taking Dana? Did you send that weird little purple man to get me in Rome? I mean, were you just lying here, waiting for me to interrupt you with your new... furfriend...for the fun of it?"
Wisely, Angel did not answer, nor did he mention that Nina was not his girlfriend, or that he'd been lying down because he'd been injured in the fight and Spike had set Nina to keeping him still while Spike went after the remaining muppety demons.
Instead, he concentrated on avoiding the right fist that Buffy was aiming directly toward his nose.
As he toppled over, he heard her order, "Fix. This. Now!"
Nina grabbed the nose from where it landed across the room, threw it toward Angel's falling figure, and ran.
Wesley handed Spike a cell phone and a small globe, swirling brightly with green energy. "If you get in trouble, just break the glass. There's enough magical energy in it to blast the stuffing out of the puppets -- just don't let them draw your eyes toward the egg."
"Gotcha, professor." Spike pocketed the items and swung around to leave the lab, with a brief squeeze to Fred's shoulders. "Best take advantage of the quiet time, love. I'll be on the horn before you know it with an all-clear." With a wink and a smile, he was gone.
Fred smiled as Spike left the room and turned to face Wesley, who was back at work over the scroll, putting the last repairs in place. Deciding that Spike might be right, that you never knew what the next day might bring, she closed the distance between them and hovered just behind Wesley, restraining an impulse to reach out and smooth his hair, instead placing her hand lightly on his shoulder.
"Can I help?"
Without looking up from his work, Wesley answered in flat tones, "I think I've got this handled, Fred. Knox was hanging about, waiting for you to finish. You may go now -- Spike and Gunn will help with the spell next time through."
If it hadn't been for the slight contraction of the muscles in his back at her touch, she might have taken him at his word.
"I'm not leaving with Knox, Wesley." With all her might, Fred willed him to turn around, but couldn't quite contain her reaction when he rose from the table and turned, face only inches from her own.
"And you're not going back to the nest with me, either." His words were a whisper that held both of them in place, and both of them spoke at once:
"Are you sure?"
Their eyes met, and both understood that words weren't necessary.
Harmony blew carefully on her freshly done nails. Things had become awfully quiet in the office since the wolf girl had bolted back to the dungeon. And she should have had someone up to fix the door already, but using the phone would ruin the polish. Time enough for that after she learned which of the puppets survived the encounter.
Her money was on Buffy -- what girl wouldn't be furious with her hair turned to floss and her waist bloated with stuffing?
As if summoned by the thought, Buffy waddled out of the office and into the reception area, hands on what passed for hips and staring at the office door, storm clouds settled clearly onto the rounded felt face with pug nose.
Before she could open her mouth to ask what had happened, Angel came running out, stopping in front of her desk. "Where's Wesley?" he barked.
"In the lab, boss" Harmony replied.
Both puppets stalked off, glowering at one another and ignoring Harmony. She didn't much like being ignored, so called after them, "If you hurry, you might catch Spike."
A satisfied grin settled on her lips as she watched Angel fly across the foyer in front of the elevators. Score one for the steno pool.
Trapped in an elevator with a pissed-off Slayer puppet was not high on Angel's list of things to do. And more to the point, explaining why he hadn't told her that Spike still existed was very not on the list.
Angel lifted a hand to rub the ears she'd thoroughly boxed and started again, "Look, Buffy. It's like I told you. He didn't want you to know -- and besides, he's always been fickle once he gets his feelings hurt. What's it to you, anyway? Thought you were waiting to get baked?"
"I'm half-baked?" Buffy shrieked at him as the elevator doors slid open.
Abandoning her intention to slap him around again, she instead shoved him into the hallway.
"Let's get to this lab. I want this over with. Now. And you say Wesley is going to fix it? Humph. I'll believe that when I see it."
Under ordinary circumstances, the trip through the maze was long. This time, it felt interminable.
But Angel wished it had been longer when he confidently pushed the door to the lab open to see...
Wesley and Fred in a passionate embrace?
Wesley's words of earlier in the day rushed through Angel's mind. You have to do something about it. Maybe he did need to do something about it, and fast. Who knew when this get-out-of-curse free card of a felt body would wear off?
Buffy marched confidently across the room, interrupting the couple. "Break it up, folks." She was all business, but it took a minute before Wesley realized that not only was a puppet other than Angel addressing him from knee-height, but that it was the extant Slayer.
With a bemused tone, Wesley replied, "I see there's business to attend to, and it appears, my dear Winnifred, that there's more work ahead to conquer the demonic egg than had first appeared."
"Look, Wes," Angel interjected. "It looks like the muppets got something even better than innocence to sell on the black market. Slayer essence. What we need to know is how to shut that egg down permanently. Fast."
"Well." Wesley cleared his throat as Fred pressed her backside into his groin with enthusiasm. "Theoretically, of course, the only real difference now is the level of power which is necessary to remove the binding from the egg."
"But that level -- it's significantly more than we'll be able to generate with just the scroll."
Fred smiled up at Wesley, sliding her hands up his arms, beneath the rolled-up sleeves. "There's one way I can think of to generate additional power. Do you know where the Geigenbult collector is?"
Buffy didn't know what a Geigenbult collector was, and didn't think she wanted to, either. If what she was watching were any indication, Fred and Wesley were ready to generate enough power to take out the entire metropolitan power grid.
Flustered, Wesley answered Fred's question, "Why yes, I believe I do." He reached into the cabinet beneath the worktop and pulled out a contraption that faintly resembled a master cylinder made of glass and polyurethane.
With false bravado in his voice, Angel turned to Buffy and declared, "I think the situation is under control, then. Shall we..."
Buffy didn't wait for him to finish his sentence, merely took a running leap to tackle Angel out of the room. "You misbegotten, pompous, controlling, son of a--"
Wes and Fred appeared not to notice as the two muppets rolled out the door, into the hall, and eventually, upon Buffy's discovery that they were, in fact, anatomically correct, into a janitorial closet.
"Refer quod furatum—"
Fred read from the scroll with Wesley at her back. Blue electricity flared in a geometric pattern across the giant egg in the center of the room.
"Looks like the brains've got it locked, this time," Spike commented to Gunn. "Wonder where they got the batteries for that thing?"