Thanks for the permission to keep playing in your !verse, Wolf! :)
The Occisor's Charisma 2: Latere Indicium
A Wolf&Declán!verse crossover fic, offshooting the London!verse
Declán met Dawn and Spike at the office early the next morning. He filled them in on the night's events over the first pot of coffee.
"So tell me about this client of yours... Eyre, was it?"
"You're sure Rachel is okay?" Dawn double-checked, still worried after the half-panicked message on her machine she'd woken up to this morning. "And Buster, he'll recover?"
"Rachel's fine. She's staying with Buster at the vet clinic," he smiled, still feeling the relief from the excitement of last night. He tossed the crumbs from his apple fritter to the Retjulls in the toaster, feeding them for Rachel. She really loved those little guys.
Finished, he turned to Dawn. "Alright, your turn. Tell us about this guy who may have tried to kill you and almost did kill my dog. How did you meet him?"
"We don't know much actually," she sighed. "We never met him in person, just over email. He was referred to us by a previous client, but we did check with them to confirm and they verified his story. He just... he was shy, I guess." She shrugged helplessly. "He seemed clean. An okay guy; if a little eccentric."
"What was his problem? Why did he need you?"
Spike snorted. "Prolly didn't, if he'd only known a thing 'bout demons at all. Wanker had a little infestation of Veerdels in his pipes. Nothing to worry about, they're harmless. Annoying little buggers, sure, but not dangerous. Nor hard to get rid of; didn't have no trouble giving them the boot, did I?"
"And you never met this guy in person, not even for payment?"
"Nope. Wire transferred the money directly to our account," Spike shook his head. "Got paid in advance, we did, wasn't any point to kicking up a fuss about how."
Dec sighed. "Okay, so how do we find him then?"
"Oh, that shouldn't be a problem," Dawn brightened with hope. "He owns a little flower shop out on Messis Way, right Spike?"
"Yeah, if he's still there." He'd sent the deadly bouquet yesterday after all, he might have disappeared already.
Dec threw back the last of his coffee and slammed his mug down on the counter. "Then let's go make Mr. Eyre's personal acquaintance before he decides on any sudden trips, shall we?"
The three watched the flower shop from the safety and concealment of a greasy-spoon diner across the street. Spike ordered himself a plate of onion rings -- "to blend in," he said, when the other two glared at him.
Spike didn't look up from his plate. "Hey, I had to crawl through the sewers to get here, I deserve a little treat. This isn't exactly my usual operating time, ya know."
Dawn watched an elderly lady enter the shop and leave a few minutes later with a long-stem yellow rose in her frail, gnarled hand. "Guess he's still here. Now what?"
Dec was already standing up. "Now we get a closer look inside. And since it's such a nice sunny day out there, that axes Spike from the list."
"And you were the most likely target, so you're staying put too, Bit," Spike added, grabbing her hand when she made to stand as well.
Dawn scowled. "Well, what if he recognises Declán? He could have been watching us, you know."
"True," Dec allowed, then he grinned. "That's why I'll be going incognito. Woof!"
Spike grinned back. "Attaboy!"
From their table, they watched as Declán walked casually around the building into an alley. Moments later, a large grey wolf came trotting out and turned left toward the florist's. Like any stray dog ambling along, he moved with his nose close to the ground sniffing everything he could. A little girl in a stroller reached out to pet him as her mother pushed them passed and Dec took a moment to lick her fingers in greeting. The child giggled happily, but her mum glared at the strange dog and hurried hastily away.
Huffing, the wolf continue on. His nose to the ground, he soon made his way to the entrance of the flower shop where he stopped to lift a leg against the potted hydrangeas beside the door. A business man coming out of the store turned his nose up in disgust and gave the beast a wide birth as he exited.
Finished his own business, Declán sat beside the recently watered vegetation and twisted to scratch behind his left ear. He had a clear view into the shop from that position.
The little flower shop was a small cramped space all on its own, but filled to bursting with flowers and plants of all varieties it was almost claustrophobic. A young teenaged clerk sat disinterestedly behind the lone counter, listlessly wrapping a customer's purchase in brightly-patterned paper. Two other customers chatted amicably under a pair of hanging baskets, and another man moved along the back wall with a spray bottle spritzing water on the plants. Dec's keen eyes narrowed on him, hoping for a look at his face, but the man never turned from his task.
The dog sat on the stoop for a few more minutes watching the comings and goings of the little shop, but the overpowering scent of all the flowers soon got to him and he moved on. Shortly after, a grey-haired man re-entered the diner across the street and joined the friends he'd left there earlier.
"Can't say for sure. There was a fellow in there who could be our man, but I never got a good look at him. Could also just be some innocent employee, like the kid at the cash register." Dec frowned. "To be honest, it looked like a perfectly normal shop. Didn't see anything that would make me suspicious if we didn't know better."
Dawn was frowning too. "I don't know guys. Something doesn't feel right about this." She was staring at the sign over the flower shop's door. "Something about the name of the place is giving me the creeps, but I just can't place why."
"I could try going in as a customer?" Dec offered.
"No," Dawn shook her head in negation. "I don't think you should go in there."
"Well, someone has to go in."
"Yeah, but who? I can't, Dawn can't, you can't, Rachel can't... we're running out of volunteers here."
But Dec had got a look in his eye like he had an idea. "I may know just the perfect person," he said, beginning to smile.
"Nah, Wolf's on assignment out of the country. I'm thinking of someone a little closer to home..." he smirked. "Someone you guys have never met before and therefore Mr. Eyre would have no reason to suspect."
Spike rolled his eyes. "Well, who is he then? Don't keep us hanging, man."
Dec leaned back and crossed his arms in satisfaction. "The vet."
Spike blinked. "The vet? The vet who saved your mutt?"
"Oh, that's good!" Spike chortled. "You won't let us risk any of us going in there, but you'll send in a clueless civilian with nothing but a grin? Mate, that's colder than anything even I came up with when I was still evil. I'm impressed!" Spike announced jovially, clapping the werewolf on the shoulder.
Declán shrugged the vampire's hand off. "Trust me, Spike, this vet is no 'clueless civilian'. He can handle it." He pulled out his cell and made the call.
The three waited in companionable silence for the vet to arrive. The waitress kept their coffees topped up and Spike ordered himself a bowl of nachos drenched in spicy salsa. Dawn wrinkled her brow at him, but was soon swayed by the passing dessert cart and wound up with a piece of delicious fresh-baked rhubarb pie.
"Shue me," she mumbled around her fork, "I sqwipped bweckfast."
Before long a dark blue BMW was pulling in to the diner's small parking lot. A tall man with a long coat on exited the driver's side and ran around to help his passenger out of the low-slung vehicle. Declán rolled his eyes when he saw her strawberry-blonde hair pulled up tight into a long ponytail. Although he was glad to see she'd at least stopped off at home long enough to get properly dressed, since she was no longer in her pyjamas. Otherwise, he was sure, she'd have come straight from Buster's side.
"Rachel, honey," he greeted her with a kiss when the pair joined them at the table. "What are you doing here? I told you it wasn't safe, you should have stayed with Buster." He turned a hard eye on the other man.
Methos held up his hands innocently, but there was a twinkle in his eyes when he spoke. "Your girlfriend is quite the persistent woman, my friend. Who was I to deny her?"
Rachel lifted her chin obstinately. "Where's the bastard who hurt my baby?" She pointed at the flower shop across the street. "He in there? Let me at him!" she growled.
Dec held her back. "Easy, love, we don't even know who he is yet."
Methos had followed Rachel's finger and looked out the window when she pointed. Now he was staring in disbelief at the overhead sign proclaiming the flower shop's name in brightly lit gothic letters. "You've got to be kidding me!"
Dawn squinted at him. "Huh?"
"Either this is a terrible cosmic joke, or your guy's an idiot. Either way, that is some of the worse latin I've ever seen," he said, rubbing his forehead as if the bastardized language was physically painful to look upon.
Dawn gasped. "Latin! Of course, I wondered what was so familiar about that. But," she frowned, "it's not... I don't... I'm not sure what it says."
Methos chuckled. "I'm not surprised; it's a terrible translation. Turbonis Vita, 'Disordered Life'... essentially. It'd have been far easier to just use the verb confundo, which would have made much more sense in that context. Though why someone would want to call a flower shop that beats me. It can't be that chaotic." He paused a moment, watching as two old harridans bickered over a vase of pansies. "Nevermind," he smirked.
Dawn's brow had furrowed as he explained and now she was chewing on her lip. Spike knew that expression, it meant she was putting the clues together. He leaned forward eagerly.
She stole his napkin, dragging it in front of her. "Anybody got a pen?"
When Rachel handed her one from her purse, Dawn started writing on the napkin, explaining as she went. "Okay, so what do we know? A client we've never met face to face contracted our services over the Internet."
She wrote out his name in big block letters.
N A T H A N E Y R E
"He tried to poison us with killer plants, and he owns a flower shop named after 'chaos'." She tapped her pen on the table. "You guys may not know this," she said, looking at Rachel and Declán and eyeballing Spike thoughtfully, "but when I was teenager my sister had some real trouble with one of Giles' old childhood friends. This guy worshipped Janus, the two-faced god of--"
"Chaos," Methos supplied, nodding as he caught on.
"Right," Dawn tipped her pen at him. "He disrupted the whole town on several separate occasions, once with some really trippy candy that made all the adults act like irresponsible kids and once by changing Giles into a Fyarl demon." She shared a look with Spike over that one. "We met the first time over cursed Halloween costumes that changed you into whatever you dressed up as. Buffy went as an eighteenth century lady, and spent the whole night cowering and fainting like something out of a Victorian novel."
"Oy, I remember that!" Spike recalled. "It was almost pathetic, watching the Slayer cringe like a bloody damsel in distress. 'Specially since the whelp seemed to have grown some balls that night himself." He raised an eyebrow at Dawn.
She grinned. "Yeah, Xander was dressed as a soldier and picked up all those manly traits. It was actually kinda cool."
"Fascinating as all this is," Dec interjected, "but what does it have to do with what's going on right now?"
"Because I'm pretty sure it's the same guy. Look," she turned the napkin around for them to see. "If I mix up the letters of his name a little bit..."
A few rearrangements later, and a new name stood clear on the little square of tissue.
"Ethan Rayne," Rachel murmured, committing the name of her pup's attempted murderer to memory.
"Ethan Rayne," Dawn nodded, "the Bringer of Chaos."
Slow clapping came from the quiet booth behind them. They all turned to look.
Leaning round from his hidden corner, Ethan Rayne smiled affably at the collected group. "Excellent deduction, my dear. I can see now who got the brains in your family. Too bad your sister was never so bright."
Spike was half-way out of his chair when Ethan held up a warning hand. "Ah, ah, ah, William. No sudden moves, if you please." He turned his wrist to display his digital watch, the timer on it counting down the seconds. "There are quite a few innocent people still enjoying their breakfasts, it'd be a shame to disturb them."
"Such language, Miss Summers!" Ethan mocked exclaimed. "Why, that's hardly proper behaviour for a young lady such as yourself. Hmmm, in fact, I really think you ought to sit in the corner and think about it very carefully." His eyes hardened as he stood and prepared to leave. "All of you."
Reluctantly, they all held perfectly still as the sorcerer backed carefully out of the diner.
He paused at the door. "Ta ta, kids! We'll have to get together again soon," he grinned, and disappeared around the corner.
The fivesome were on their feet and after him in seconds, but by the time they got there he'd already vanished. Only a faint scent of sulfur hung in the air to mark his presence at all.
"Pillock," Dawn cursed, and stamped her foot in frustration.