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Palpatine
10/18/17 09:43 pm
Granted, and thank you, Pari, for pointing that out to me, so that I could write to the author and address the issue personally. I'm most grateful.
Pari
10/07/17 01:42 am
@Palpatine authors are in charge of the banners they add to their stories, so you will need to contact them personally to let them know their banner pic is not showing.
Pari
10/07/17 01:41 am
@kelticmoon, I added some back but they are not updated, meaning things you find on the default skin may not be on the other skins :)
kelticmoon
10/05/17 10:47 pm
Where are the other skins that use to be here?
Palpatine
10/05/17 03:52 pm
Some of the pictures seem to be having real trouble being looked at, they keep on saying "enable third party hosting", a real problem it seems.
Pari
09/25/17 10:11 pm
Hey nmcil we got this strightened via email, thanks for the donation. Thanks to all who donated as we are now paid up through/to Jan 2019!
nmcil
09/21/17 03:08 am
How can we contribute using PayPal?
nmcil
09/21/17 03:05 am
What happen to the PayPal donation. I USE PayPal.
squawks
05/18/17 09:16 am
pj! I remember wishing one of your stories would be finished seriously about a decade ago. Amazing. I just tried an old password I used to use and amazingly got in too. Memories!
pj
03/20/17 06:20 am
10 yrs later, i finally rem my username and password. Pari, you rock. Hope you are well.

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Authors Chapter Notes:
When I can figure out how to upload the banner for this, I will.


[A/N: This is for the Spuffy Fantasy LJ Community Art-Before-Fic-Athon (oi, say that ten times fast!), and the banner I picked (way before anyone else could snag it) was made by my fantastic beta (she’s sooo multi-talented) Spikeslovebite. The banner is here. (Isn’t it purty?). Anyway, I think she sort of picked it with me in mind. . . at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Title is from the song (yeah, by Guns N’ Roses) of the same name. Quotes are as attributed (coz I may be witty, but I’m no Oscar Wilde). Disclaimers in full force and effect. And just for the record, overall rating for this story is NC-17. Enjoy]


Welcome to the Jungle

First



Welcome to the jungle
We've got fun 'n' games
We got everything you want
Honey, we know the names
We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need
If you got the money, honey
We got your disease
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
I wanna watch you bleed
Welcome to the jungle
We take it day by day
If you want it you're gonna bleed
But it's the price you pay
And you're a very sexy girl
That's very hard to please
You can taste the bright lights
But you won't get them for free
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Feel my, my, my serpentine
I, I wanna hear you scream
Welcome to the jungle
It gets worse here everyday
Ya learn ta live like an animal
In the jungle where we play
If you got a hunger for what you see
You'll take it eventually
You can have anything you want
But you better not take it from me
And when you're high you never
Ever want to come down, YEAH!
You know where you are
You're in the jungle baby
You're gonna die
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Feel my, my, my serpentine
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your
It's gonna bring you down-HA!



Rain pelted against the hard glass, flattening into thick rivulets of dirty water running down and across the thick panes. Multicolored lights flared and swirled in blinking patterns, brightening the otherwise gloomy, dark streets, highlighting the grey shadows everywhere. The streets were empty, devoid of the usual late-night partygoers and restless souls, belying the image of a city that never sleeps.

Five days into the New Year, and already it was filled with regrets and broken resolutions. Six dirty shot glasses stood at parade rest across the polished wood bar, catching the twinkle of Christmas fairy-lights and tasteful decorations. Cinnamon and wood-smoke, the remnants of the last dinners served lingered in the air, undercut with the thick smell of malt, barley and the sharp tang of whiskey. The stereo piped in bluesy holiday tunes, and three of the four occupants chatted softly, the clink and hum of a dishwasher softening the harsh consonants. The last occupant sat listening, not contributing anything at all to the good-natured argument, his mind far away.

Memories flooded his mind, laced with bitterness and regret. He’d thought, once upon a time, that this time of year would be filled with all the things his childhood had held – love, laughter, and family. Instead, he was here with his erstwhile friends and colleagues, heading into a bender.

Will sighed, the sound going completely unnoticed by his companions, and stared at the rain sliding down the painted glass. The phone at his hip buzzed insistently and he ignored it, tempted to switch off the damned thing. He let it go, pouring himself another shot of Macallen single malt. Twice more the phone buzzed and the third time, he finally grabbed it and lifted it to his ear.

He listened after a terse, spare greeting, the lines in his face deepening. This was not what he wanted to hear at – he quickly glanced at his watch – three forty in the morning. Fuck.

Waving off the concerned looks, he dropped a handful of crumpled bills on the bar, ignoring the bartender’s ‘your money’s no good in here, you stupid bastard’, and heading for the front door.

He was through it before anyone but the bartender knew he was gone. The rain had tapered off, only the soft breeze coming off the river carrying the hint of moisture now. Will rubbed a hand over his tired and no doubt bloodshot eyes and glanced around. Subway was four blocks away, but he’d probably sit down there for an hour just waiting for one to rumble by. He could take the bike, but he was just this side of drunk and not in complete control of his facilities. His other alternative was one he didn’t want to even contemplate.

Headlights loomed in the darkness, bearing down on him as he stood under the awning, and, in a split second decision, he walked out into the middle of the street, his hand raised to stop the vehicle. It wasn’t until it rolled to a stop beside him that he realized his luck had changed. A wry smile crossed his lips and he snickered as he walked over to the patrol car.

It wasn’t until the cop rolled down his window and got a good look at who had flagged him down that Will realized his own good fortune. “Finn, you fucking wanker, need a ride.”

“Excuse me?” It took the patrol cop a moment or two of blinking before he realized who had flagged him down. “Yes, sir.”

Will strolled leisurely around to the passenger side, listening idly to the sounds of Finn scrambling to clear off the seat and radio in at the same time. “Where to?”

“Midtown. The Peninsula.”

When Finn did nothing but whistle, Will rolled his eyes and leaned his head back against the bullet-proof divider, closing his eyes in an effort to stave off the blooming headache. “Just drive.”

He moved to flip on the sirens, but Will’s tired voice stopped him. “No. No sirens, just lights.”

Six minutes later – the fastest he’d ever made it from the Bowery to Midtown – Finn angled the patrol car behind two unmarked cars parked haphazardly on Fifty-fifth. Before he rolled to a stop, Will was out, waving him off. “Go back to patrol.”

“You’re welcome!” Finn yelled sullenly out the window, to which Will just flipped him a two-fingered salute that he had no doubt Finn didn’t understand.

Two uniformed cops tried to look discrete at the side of the front entrance, though they were doing a piss-poor job. Will shook his head, lifting his shield from beneath his shirt and his credentials from his wallet as he slid past the balking doorman.

“What floor?”

“Presidential suite, sir. I’ll lead you to the private entrance.” The doorman actually looked somewhat solicitous, pointing the way and sniffing down his nose at the uniforms.

“This the only way in and out?”

“No, sir. There’s another entrance from the Fifth Avenue side of the hotel.”

“Who’s got access to this?” Will stepped inside the plush private elevator, noting there were only two buttons. Up. Down. He pointed to the wood-grain buttons, “Same set up in the other lift?”

The doorman never missed a beat, hearing the English term. Nor did he make mention of Will’s obvious non-New York accent, though he had paused upon hearing it for the first time. “Exactly the same, sir.”

Bloody wonderful. That narrowed down access . . . “Who’s got keys to the suite?”

“Only the resident and the Concierge.” The doorman paused, then shared, “Of course the maids and butler also have keys, in addition to myself and the dayshift.”

“So how many?”

“A total of sixteen, at any given time.”

“Right.” He knew the staff had to have access, though no doubt the resident paid them no never mind. Will knew he’d have to . . . “I need a list of who’s allowed to work in this suite.”

“Yes, sir.”

He eyed the doorman, wondering if the man was just being officious and efficient, or if there was a trace of disdain lacing his responses. Deciding he didn’t really care either way, Will focused on asking the right questions. “Who called it in?”

“I did, sir.”

“You did.” It wasn’t a question.

“Mr. Reilly indicated his companion wasn’t,” he paused delicately, making it more than obvious to Will what he thought of Reilly’s companion, “staying the night.”

“How long ago did you call?”

“It’s only been a half hour, sir.”

“Good. Let me know when the forensics team arrives.”

“Yes, sir.”

Will fixed him with a laser bright blue gaze. “I want the suite staff assembled. And no one’s going home until I’ve said so.”

“Yes, sir.” Finally, he could tell the doorman had had enough of his attitude. “Detective, who said you were in charge of this case?”

Will stared him down, not flinching from the doorman’s assessing look. “I did.”

He stepped off the elevator, his long leather duster swirling behind him, ignoring the insulted doorman.

Four more cops stood inside the suite, two in uniform and the other two in plainclothes, photographing everything. One of the photographers, a sandy-haired, nerdy-type looked up as his boots thumped on the marble and wood flooring. “Spike? I thought you were off duty?”

“Not for this, I’m not.” Will swept past him, pointedly ignoring the hero-worship. “Where’s the body?”

“Master suite, down the hallway to the left.”

Following the directions, Will kept going. He needed to see for himself that Reilly was dead before they cleaned him up and hefted his sorry carcass to the morgue. Needed to know the bastard was finally caught.

The distinct metallic odor of blood filled his nostrils and Will braced himself for the first glance of the crime scene. He cleared the door, stepping immediately to his left and looked around. Blood splattered the otherwise tasteful cream-colored walls, thickest around the headboard. Reilly – Liam ‘Angelus’ Reilly – lay flat on his back, sightless eyes staring up at the ceiling.

Will exhaled softly, drawing the attention of the three people in the room. “Would you look at that.”

Two neat bullet holes marred his broad forehead, another his chest. . . but that wasn’t what had his attention. It was the mutilation lower down that had everyone’s focus. His stomach had been ripped open, his intestines exposed to the air.

“Pretty nasty.” Charles Gunn, his sometimes partner looked over at him. “Looks worse than it really is.”

“No, that looks pretty bad.” Will almost felt sorry for the dead bastard. Almost. But he’d spent too long tracking this man’s activities to feel anything but satisfaction and relief. Finding him like this was almost as good as nailing the fucker himself. “What happened?”

“Angelus checked in two days ago, alone. Brought a companion in sometime after nine this evening, told the doorman she’d be leaving at three.” Gunn talked as he collected evidence, “When he came up to escort her off the premises, he found him like this and her,” he pointed to the other side of the bed, where Sam Lawson and a medic were working on a figure he couldn’t see clearly, “in that condition.”

Will stepped around to peer over Lawson’s hunched shoulder. “Holy fuck.”

She was tiny, looking barely old enough to be in high school, and delicate. Golden blonde hair spilled over the side of the gurney, slender, naked limbs barely covered by the thin sheet. The medic hooked up an IV while Will’s eyes swept over her again. Bruises marred her face, swelling her eye shut. Ligature marks stood out on her neck, reddened and ridged, while what appeared to be defensive wounds covered her forearms. There was a rounded bruise at the top of her breast, and he lifted the sheet to get a better look.

“Sam? See that?” Will pointed out the darkening purple, tracing the air above it. “Looks like teeth marks.”

“Yeah. I see it. I’ll have them do a rape kit when we get her to the hospital.” Lawson stripped off his gloves, then rose to his full height. “She looks like she’s barely sixteen.”

Will shifted his gaze from the girl to the corpse, fighting the urge to brush his hand over her distorted cheek. “She come to?”

“Nope. Been out since before we got here. Doorman says she never moved.”

Making a split second decision, Will ordered, “Keep a guard on her. She’s our only eye-witness.”

“Eye-witness? Fuck, man, she’s our only suspect.” The words exploded from Gunn and his tone clearly indicated he was fully prepared to pin the murder on her.

“This little chit couldn’t’ve done that.” Will met the taller man’s gaze, waiting until he agreed. “Too easy to make her. ‘Sides, you an’ I both know Peaches had more than his fair share of friends.”

“Yeah, yeah.” The agreement was grudging, at best, though Will knew eventually Gunn would back him completely. “The list is long and illustrious.”

“That it is, mate. On both sides of the pond.” Will stepped back as the medic and Lawson prepared to lift the gurney. “On second thought, I’ll go with her. You stay and wait for Lehane.”

Both of the other detectives stared at him. “Whot?”

“You’re gonna let me and Sam clean this up?”

Will shrugged. “Bastard’s already dead. Nothin’ else I can do around here but clean.”

He’d already invested enough of his life trying to pin a crime on Reilly, an obsession which had ended up costing him his marriage and very nearly his career. There wasn’t any reason for him to mop up this scene. He’d nail the bastard’s killer. . . but only because he had too. Angelus deserved to die much slower than he had and much more painfully. Will wasn’t certain if he wanted to arrest the killer or throw him a tickertape parade down Broadway. Or Piccadilly.

Scotland Yard was going to be over the moon, so long as the rest of his organization disintegrated. Angelus had earned his nickname in the sectarian violence of Belfast as a particularly grisly assassin for the IRA, moving swiftly through the ranks until Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein negotiated a peace treaty. At that point, he’d split away from the Provisional IRA and gone out on his own, supplying arms and training for various terrorist groups, both in Europe and the Middle East. Recently, though, he’d been nearly untouchable because of his American wife’s political connections. . . and it had irked Will fiercely that he’d been unable to pin something on him, despite knowing about all of his activities.

He wondered just how young the girl was and whether she worked for Reilly or had just been unlucky enough to have encountered him on the street. For her sake, he hoped it was the latter. Will didn’t want to think what Angelus’ second in command would do to her if she actually did work for the bastard. Which reminded him. . . “Find any ID for her?”

“So far, not a damn thing.” Lawson’s voice followed him down the hallway and Will just barely suppressed the urge to yell for him to find something soon. “Girl looks barely old enough to be out by herself.”

Gunn looked over the corpse. “She fits his type, though, doesn’t she?”

“Think we can get the wife to turn on him if we show her pictures?”

Will snickered at Lawson’s question. “Doubtful. She’s got brass ones, an’ I don’t think any of us’ll get close enough to even smell her perfume.”

“Baby girl kinda looks like her.” For the first time, the three detectives fell silent. The girl did look like Reilly’s wife, though Will thought she might be prettier. Hard to tell under all the blood and bruises. If she survived, eventually her features would show.

The paramedic secured her to the gurney and asked for Will’s approval to move her. “She’s stable. The ambulance is waiting.”

“Right. Let’s get her out of here.” Will swept out of the room, letting the paramedic steer her out into the hallway. “Comin’ through, boys. Someone get the bloody door.”

Andrew’s high-pitched, ‘ohh, got it!’, set Will’s back teeth on edge, but he said nothing, just helped guide the gurney through the doorway and to the elevator.

The ride to St. Vincent’s was over before they really got settled, since it was only a couple of blocks away. Will easily jumped down from the bay, then stepped back, letting the paramedic and ER nurses get the girl inside. She hadn’t moved, hadn’t made a sound and he was beginning to wonder if perhaps something had been missed. Maybe she’s hurt worse than we thought. . .

Will kept out of the way while they worked feverishly around her – running IV lines and slapping on an oxygen mask, taking x-rays and CAT scans – doing everything they could to fix her. Pictures were taken of her bruises and the rape kit exam was performed. Now all he had to do was wait until she regained consciousness.

“Detective?” A nurse stood before him, her purple scrubs covered in dark stains. “Her lab results are back. She’s got abnormally high concentrations of Gamma hydroxybutyric acid and methylenedioxymethamphetamine in her blood stream. They doctors are going to try and detox her, starting tonight. It doesn’t appear she’s a habitual user, since her reaction is unusual.”

GHB and Ecstasy. God help the chit. “Is she gonna make it?”

“She should come out of this in a couple of hours or so. We have no idea when she took the drugs or how much she took.” The nurse handed him the report. “If you want to get some rest, you probably could.”

“No, I’ll stay here. Girl’s our only witness.” Will cursed a blue-streak in his head, wondering how much of a witness she would actually be.

“Suit yourself. She’ll be moved to a private room shortly.” She started to move away when he called her back.

“Any idea on her age? Any tattoos or anything we can use to identify her?”

“One of the doctors pegged her as being no older than eighteen.”

“How’d he manage that?”

“Head x-rays. She’s got no wisdom teeth.”

Fuck. Just his bloody luck. . . probably a runaway. Which meant no identification, no nothing. . . Bleedin’ Jesus. Spike scrubbed his hands over his eyes, suddenly feeling the effects of all that whiskey and no dinner catching up on him. He was tired. So very tired.

The area around her was quiet, only one nurse checking her vitals, and the sound of machinery beeped and blipped. The regular noises of the ER hovered in the background as he moved forward, standing sentinel at the foot of her bed. She looked so small, so fragile. Covered in a hospital gown and blanket, her face marred by bruises, scratches and cuts all over her forearms, she looked like the victim of an accident. . . not a beating.

A chair appeared mysteriously behind him, brought in by an orderly on silent feet and Spike finally sat down, his eyes focused on her, willing her to recover.



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