Disclaimer: Joss said we could play with his toys, so I took him at his word.  Not mine, no money, etc.

On the Inside

He wasn’t quite sure where he was, but Xander knew that it was not good.

Not when every muscle ached like he’d been beaten with a baseball bat, and lying on whatever hard, flat thing he was on didn’t help things any.  Ow, this is bad.  He groaned and tried to sit up, and things leapt from bad to worse, because he was strapped to the table.

Very not good, he thought, a little fuzzily, and wriggled experimentally.  The straps didn’t have any give, and all he managed to do was make the leather dig into his skin.  Wait, isn’t Faith still in coma-land?  Slowly, his mind cleared.  No, wait, not Faith, Angel!  Angel tied my hands with his belt... Oh, crap, what if Brood Boy ain’t brooding no more?  What if it’s Angelus, and man, he’s really got his kink on…

“You’re awake.  Good.”

The voice made him lurch again in his bonds, because not only was it not Angel’s voice, it was a woman.  Xander twisted around as far as he could, but still couldn’t catch a glimpse of her.

As if she knew what he’d been thinking, the woman picked up a clipboard and stepped away from the counter where she had been standing – in her forties, maybe, short hair, not terribly attractive, scholarly professor type… “I’ve got a few questions for you,” she said, her voice one of absolute reason.  “What kind of demon are you?” She held her pencil poised over the clipboard and looked at him expectantly.

He choked.  “And what makes you think I’m going to tell you anything when you’ve got me trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey?” he demanded.  The hyena could feel his outrage, and sniped at him, daring him to let it go free.  Back off! he told it, feeling more than a little frantic.  Last thing I need is you screwing things up even more tonight!

It sulked away, highly offended, and hid back in his sub-conscious, and that freaked him out even more.  Hey, I didn’t mean for you to go away away!

“I expect you to answer my questions because, as you’ve already noticed, I’m not the one strapped to the table.”  She flashed a smile, all teeth and no humor.  “So let’s start again.  What kind of demon are you?  You’re amazingly humanoid.”

This is all Angel’s fault, Xander thought, and let his head fall back against the table – or whatever it was he was lying on – with a thump that did nothing to quiet the throbbing in his skull.  Wait.  I think I already decided it was Spike’s fault.  Well, this part can totally be Angel’s fault.  “Well,” he replied, summoning up every bit of sarcasm he wanted to unleash on Angel, “you know what is really amazingly humanoid? A human!  Of which I am one!  So let me loose, Mad Scientist, or I’ll – ”

“You can’t do anything,” she interrupted smoothly, and ran a finger over the buckle on his arm to remind him of why.  “You can’t get out on your own, whether or not you’re just a human… or if you’re possessed by a demon.”

Xander went very still at that.  Oh, you are in such deep trouble…  He wasn’t quite sure if he was referring to his own situation or to Angel’s when he managed to get let loose again.

“So, Agent Finn was right,” she added softly, as if to herself.  “You are possessed by a demon.”

Oookay, Xander, he told himself, thinking as fast as his pounding head would let him. Now is the time for some fast and furious talk your butt out of this one action.  “You must be smoking the good stuff,” he scoffed, and winced internally at how forced it sounded.  “There’s no such things as demons.”

“Too late,” she retorted, smile stretching almost triumphantly.  “I mentioned demons in my first question and you didn’t respond to it nearly as negatively, meaning you already know of their existence.”  She leaned forward slightly, though careful to keep out of what limited reach he had.  “Don’t try to outthink someone with a degree in psychology.”

Oh, double crap.  Suddenly, his palms felt very, very moist.

“If you’re not going to tell me what kind of HST you are…”

“What a what?”

The woman sighed.  “HST… hostile sub-terrestrial, commonly called a demon.  As I was saying, if you won’t tell us what kind of HST you’re possessed by, we can keep you here until you do.”

Up until now, the whole situation had been kind of freaky and surreal.  Now Xander felt the first pang of real fear go through him.  “You can’t do that!”

She gave him another smile edged in amusement.  “I think you’ll find we can,” she replied, her tone one of great satisfaction.  “We’ve got a very wide range of orders, and quite a bit of latitude in which to interpret them.” This time, she got right in his face, seemingly unafraid that he would try anything.  “As long as I have the suspicion that you’re some kind of HST, I can keep you here until you crack.”

She straightened and was gone in a swirl of white lab coat.

Xander closed his eyes and cursed Angel, Spike and his own big mouth.


He’d really had to run to keep up with the black SUV the soldiers had loaded Xander into, but somehow he’d managed to at least keep it in sight.  Now, lurking outside the “hidden” entrance through which they’d taken Xander, Angel tried to figure out a way to get in.

Preferably one that doesn’t involve me getting tased and… bagged as well, he thought.

His first idea had been to grab one of the soldiers the next time a group of them stepped out.  He was about the same size as the guys in the first group he’d seen, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.  However, he’d had to immediately discard that one – though the thought of beating up on some soldiers was very tempting – because everyone would definitely know everyone else in squads the size of the ones that had taken Xander, so there was no way he could pass himself off as a new guy.  Not to mention that inside, there might be a small problem of skin tone…

The other idea – sneaking in the next time the door opened to let someone out – was, on further thought, actually the better option.

Just then, something cold prickled at the back of his neck, jolting him out of his contemplation.  Suddenly he was aware of scents and heartbeats all around him, and let his human mask slip with a snarl at his own carelessness.

“Don’t move, hostile,” the soldier behind him ordered, his tone almost gleeful.  “You thought you were so sneaky, following us back, didn’t you?  We’ve got this whole area rigged to detect your kind, my friend.  You never had a chance.”

“That so?” Angel spun around, pushing the limits of his vampire speed, hands reaching out to incapacitate – how about decapitate, the demon howled in his mind, snap his neck, death, blood for my Childer

He smelled it the second before he felt it, ozone burning in his sensitive nostrils, and then everything went black.


“Doctor Walsh?” The crackling sound made Xander twitch against his bonds.

Smirking at him, the woman pulled a walkie-talkie out of the pocket of her lab coat, and turned away, allowing the grunts she’d returned with to continue getting him ready for his transfer to a holding cell.  “What is it, Agent Finn?”

Xander pretended not to be interested, even as he strained his ears to hear.

“We’ve just bagged the hostile we were tailing earlier,” the radio hissed.  “He was lurking around the south entrance.”

“Well done.  Bring him in.”  The woman – Doctor Walsh – turned around to study Xander again.  “Maybe he can get our reluctant possessed friend to talk.”

Xander swallowed.  Sounds like they got Angel, he thought, and the hope that he’d get rescued dwindled into nothing.  So… on the scale of bad to worse, what’s worse than worse?

He was pretty sure he was going to find out.

May 31, 2009
© randi (K. Shepard), 2009