Author: Michael Weyer
Title: Where Everything Knows Your Name
Except for Robin Goodfellow, I don't own any of them. Thanks to Steve for giving me permission to write this and Tim for some dialogue help. A little bit to let you know how Robin fits into things. Enjoy.
Los Angeles, CA
August 21, 1998
1843 hours, PST
The banged-up station wagon, the paint fighting a losing battle against the rust, coughed as it moved up the streets, finally pulling before a small bar, the flashing neon sign saying "DV8." The wagon parked and let out a final groaning sound before shutting off. "It ain't long for this world," Steven St. Wolf said.
"I will have you know that this vehicle has been highly serviceable for quite a few years," Rupert Giles said as he stepped out, brushing at his coat.
"I didn't even know they made English cars in America," Xander Harris said as he stepped out. The other occupants joined him: Buffy Summers, Cordelia Chase, Amy Madison, Jenny Calendar, Willow Rosenberg and Oz. The group moved away from the car, looking up at the bar's front.
"I don't know, Giles," Steven said, rubbing his chin. "Why would your buddy want us to meet him here?"
"Harrison has been in L.A. for some years now," Giles said. "He knows the haunts and has a flair for the dramatic. He probably wants to explain it all here for some film noir reason."
"Are you sure this is important enough for us to come here, Rupert?" Jenny asked.
"Harrison may be dramatic but never a liar," Giles replied. "If he says that this is the place to meet him, this is it."
"I just don't see why we have to come with," Buffy said. "What the big deal about this Neryo lady anyway?"
"Neryo is a Hucum spirit," Giles explained. "Such spirits only appear once a few generations and are quite rare. A chance to examine one close-up is something all of you should witness. Consider it an early field trip."
"Thanks, Giles, we needed the reminder of school coming up," Cordelia mentioned.
"Can't say I appreciate your friend's taste, Giles," Steve said. "Place looks a little run down, you know?"
"Oh, I was in worse places than this in my younger days," Giles said.
Ignoring Xander's jibe, Giles led the group towards the door. "Now, Harrison told me to warn you all that this place is something of a hangout for 'players.'"
"Okay, am I the only one thrown by G-Man using the term 'players'?" Xander asked.
"Rupert means people who play at being demons," Jenny explained. "They dress like them, they act like them, some even want to be them."
"Oh, man, it's not like those idiot vampire wanna-bes we met last year?" Xander claimed. "You know, the guys who thought all vampires were Ann Rice "lonely ones" romantic types and wanted to be like them?"
"Yeah, thanks a lot for the memories, Xander," Buffy shuddered. "God, sometimes I almost wish I had let Spike and Dru have the lot, just to teach them a lesson."
"Well, you did in a way," Willow said. "They definitely dropped their worship afterwards and spread the word about what vampires were really like. That counts for something, right?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Buffy said. "But we are sure these guys are fake, right? I mean, if they were the real deal, we'd know, right?"
"Oh yeah," Amy said. "They'd be sounding off right now, trust me."
"Let's go," Giles said, leading the group inside. Right inside the doorway was a staircase leading into the large bar. It was a massive open area, few tables, most people standing about. Of course, "people" wasn't exactly the right term. Multi-colored skin dotted the room, men and
women talking despite the massive influx of horns, tentacles and various odd outfits. "So, this is Mister Blackman's idea of Hell," Xander said as they took in the group.
"Gotta give them credit," Steve said, checking one more time for magical influences. "They've got damn good makeup."
"See your buddy, Giles?" Buffy asked, scanning the various non-costumed people in the room.
"Not yet," the Watcher replied. "But he should be here soon, I hope. Harrison never was one for punctuality." The group moved towards a table and sat around it, looking about. "I'll go get some drinks," Giles announced. "Try not to cause trouble."
The group watched him stand up and continued to look around. "I don't know," Buffy said. "I know you guys say it's safe and I don't feel my 'Slayer-sense' going nuts but it just doesn't feel right somehow."
"Come on, girl, ease up," Xander said. "We've got a trip to L.A., free drinks. We talk to this guy about this Neryo spirit coming up and we're outta here."
"Still wish Robin could have come," Amy said. "But he just couldn't get away from the moving."
"Still can't believe he got such a good apartment so fast," Xander said.
"Well, one benefit of the Hellmouth is the cheap real estate prices," Willow shrugged. "And people do tend to stop becoming inhabitants soon. And I'm sorry for drifting into insensitive land there."
Everyone stole a glance at Cordelia. "What?"
"Don't get much call for just soda pop around here," the bartender, a man with red skin and yellow horns on the top of his skull began filling glasses as Giles waited. As he did, Giles fixed his eyes on a decoration above the bar. It appeared to be a demon's head of sorts, the eyes glowing from within, the face set amongst a strange Asian pattern with foreign markings on it. "I say, that's an exquisite object. Where did you get it?"
"Well, if you must know, that object hails from the Asian desert flats," a rumble came from a heavyset man with graying hair and a brown mustache, a single horn attached to his head. "Yeah, it's an ancient Mallorian battle mask, used by the ancient demonic tribes of Southern China. A very nice style of ancient artwork by the famous Mallorian artist Nio Chain. Wouldn't you agree, Morno?"
"Ah, don't ask me," the even more heavyset man with dark curly hair said. He shuffled in his seat, the spikes in his back shuffling with the move. "I just always thought it was something he won in a dart game."
"You have no appreciation for the finer things in life, Morno."
"Ah, leave me slack, Flicc. It's been three days since I've tasted a baby's soul and I don't need the grief."
"Arev still giving you a tough time?"
"Yeah, she still wants me to give the kids a break, only torture them on off weekends."
"Yeah, I do believe that a similar situation occurred to the Kerayan demon lord in 458....."
Ignoring the two, Giles stared at the ornament, biting his lip as he tried to remember just why it seemed to familiar. Taking the horde of drinks from the bartender, he moved away, making his way past the various figures as he went back to the table. "Here you go," he announced, placing them all down. "Great, still can't drink liquor yet," Xander said, sipping at his pop.
"I'm getting worried," Steve said. "If this guy was going to show, wouldn't he have done it by now?"
"Don't worry, Steve, Harrison knows what he's doing," Giles said.
"That's a lot more than that guy over there does," Oz muttered. He nodded to a man on the other side of the room who was doing an incredibly bad dance move.
"What guy?" Cordelia said, taking a look at herself in her pocket mirror, brushing at her hair.
"The Patrick Swayze wanna-be in the bad coat," Buffy said.
"What guy?" Cordelia repeated, looking in her mirror. "I don't-----" She turned around and looked at him, then back to the others. "Um, guys? I see the guy now but I don't see him in this," she said, holding up the mirror. After a moment, Steve grabbed it and held it up, the others crowding around to see. Steve slowly panned the mirror over, letting it sweep the room. They could clearly see that people who were in their vision weren't showing up the mirror. "Oh, shit," Oz said, summing it up for everyone.
"I don't understand," Buffy said. "Amy, Steve, you guys didn't detect anything, I didn't sense anything. How could this------"
"Oh, dear God," Giles said, staring up at the bar. "That sculpture. I know it now. It's a Mallorian dampener, used by ancient demons to shield their auras from detection. No one's seen one in years but evidently, that's one now."
"So, all these people wearing costumes....." Xander started.
"Aren't wearing costumes," Jenny finished.
For a long moment, no one spoke, the discovery they were in a bar packed with demons freezing them to the spot. "Very, very slowly," Steve said in a careful voice. "Everyone stand up and start walking towards the exit." As one, the group stood and turned towards the doors to the bar, just in time to see them slam shut, a steel bar crossing over it.
"Leaving so soon?" A hard Italian accent covered the bar. The group looked up to see a man step forward. He had slicked back black hair and a sharp goatee, dressed in an impeccable white suit, a cane in his hands. "I wouldn't hear of it. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Hermon, the owner of this establishment. And you, my friends, are the feature attraction this evening."
All music had stopped, the human appearing inhabitants of the bar suddenly taking on vampire features, many of the demons suddenly sprouting out hidden horns and claws, some shifting into non-human stature and appearances, all moving forward with glee on their faces.
"Someone went to a lot of trouble," Jenny said, licking her lips.
"Where's Harrison?" Giles demanded.
"Afraid, he couldn't make it, old mate," a familiar voice rang out. The group turned to see a man in a long coat step forward, a smile on his face as he took in their shocked expressions.
"What's the matter, Ripper, old son?" Ethan Rayne asked. "No hug?"
Joyce Summers flipped through the account books, trying again to balance out her books as she rang up her sales for the day. It was amazing just how much business you could do in a place like this but Joyce wasn't complaining about it. Her musings were interrupted by the ringing of the door opening and she looked up to see a handsome young man wearing a wild red outfit step inside. "Um, we're closed."
"Joyce Summers?" the man asked.
"Yes," Joyce said, a bit suspicious. Ever since she had found out about what Sunnydale was really like, she was always on guard.
"Hey, good to finally meet you," the man said with a friendly smile. "I'm Robin. Robin Goodfellow?"
"Oh, yes," Joyce said, relaxing. "Buffy told me about you."
Robin seemed surprised. "She did?"
"Well, a couple of nights ago, I was heading home when a couple of vampires tried to attack me. Xander showed up and beat them all with moves I've never seen before. I asked Buffy what happened and she explained about you."
"Ah, my reputation precedes me as ever," Robin said. "Just my part to help out. Course, if I'd known I'd stuck in this town as a human, I might have rethought things bit."
"So, just so we're clear, you're not Puck," Joyce stated and was startled when he grabbed her and kissed her on the cheek. "Bless you," he said as he moved back. "Have to say this town is starting to grow on me. Up to a reasonable point, of course. And the guys are a pretty cool bunch. Your daughter's a fine woman."
"I like to think so," Joyce smiled. "I may not have given birth to her but I think I raised her right."
"That you did," Robin smiled. "Anyway, before we get too Afterschool Special, the reason I came was that I was looking for the guys. I'd hoped they'd be helping me tidy up after the move."
"Was it bad?" Joyce frowned.
"When you've lived as long as I have and done what I've done, you pick up a few mementos," Robin shrugged. "I'm a packrat, just can't seem to throw stuff out. Thankfully, most of it is in storage back in the Faery Kingdom. I just need a few things to brighten the place out."
"So, you're here shopping?" Joyce asked.
"It's tempting," Robin said, picking up a sculpture. "You've got some nice stuff here. Look at this, an authentic Merui."
"It's not authentic," Joyce smiled.
"Oh, yeah, it is," Robin said to her surprise. "You can tell from the design work. I should know, I helped him develop it. Man, how much are you asking for this?"
"Um, I thought it was a fake, so twenty bucks," Joyce said, taken aback.
Robin laughed. "Come on! This is more like twenty thousand, easy."
"Would you like a job here?" Joyce said in total seriousness, realizing she might be unknowingly sitting on a gold mine.
"Maybe," Robin said. "I'm still weighing my options in that regard but I'll think about it."
"At least do some appraisals," Joyce said. "I could use an expert eye who knows real ancient art when he sees it."
"I'll think about it. Like I said, I'm looking for the guys," Robin said, examining a statue on a shelf. "You know where they popped out to?"
"Actually, I was here when Giles got a call," Joyce explained. "Some friend of his wanted them all to come to L.A. It's something to do with some sort of spirit rising there."
"And Giles made a field trip for that?" Robin frowned. "Must be big. Who was it?"
"I wasn't sure about the name," Joyce frowned. "Ner something."
"Neryo?" Robin asked, looking up with a startled expression.
"Yes, that was it," Joyce said, nodding. "Neryo."
"Neryo?" Robin was confused now. "Neryo's no spirit, she's a Cankush demon."
"A demon?" Joyce asked, now worried. "Are you sure?"
"I used to date her." At Joyce's look, Robin shrugged. "Long story. Look, where were the guys going?"
"Well, Giles said his friend asked him to meet at some bar called DV8."
Robin's eyes shot upward. "DV8? That's the worse demon hangout in L.A.! Place makes Willy's look like a water cooler at an accounting office." Robin rubbed his chin. "Okay, something is obviously wrong here. I've gotta go."
"What are you going to do?" Joyce said.
"Something I'm afraid I'm going to have to do quite a lot of the next few years," Robin sighed as he turned and walked off. "I'm going to have to save the day."
"Ethan Rayne," Giles hissed, his eyes narrowing at the sight of his one-time friend.
"You know, I just get such a kick hearing you say my name like that," Rayne smiled. "'Ethan Rayne.' Really sounds like I've made it when you say it that way."
"Where's Harrison?" Giles demanded.
"Right now, old Harry's body is somewhere in the middle of the Los Angeles sewer system," Rayne said. "As for his head and assorted limbs, well, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you." His gaze turned towards Jenny and he smirked. "Well, well, if ain't the Gypsy bitch. Oh, yes," he said to Jenny's surprised expression. "We have good intelligence. Last time I saw you, you were getting possessed by a nightmare demon. Rest assured, by the end of tonight, you're going to be in a lot worse shape."
Growling, Jenny reached forward, a hand raised towards him, a nasty incantation on her lips. Her anger suddenly faded into astonishment as absolutely nothing happened. Ethan merely smirked at her, raising an eyebrow. "Fraid your out of luck with that score, dearie," he smirked.
"This establishment has a unique controlling spell cast by me," Hermon explained, moving towards the group, smiling evilly. "The only spells that work here are the ones I allow to work. So, I'm afraid you've been cut off from your rather impressive abilities right now. Oh, and there are several shields upon this building, so I'm afraid your little patron Goddess won't be much of an aid either."
"Someone's kept you informed," Giles said, staring at Rayne.
"Yep, old Harrison was a real help," Rayne explained.
"Harrison would never help you," Giles snorted.
"Oh, please, Ripper. You of all people should know that the Watchers ain't exactly the most honest bunch about," Rayne said, shaking his head. "Plus, their salaries suck, so Harry was quite open to a few extra quid a month for information. Too bad he never got to live to spend it."
"What the hell do you want?" Steve asked.
"Chaos," Rayne grinned. "That's what I worship, you know. Chaos. It's what makes me get my rocks off, really. Kicking the hell out of the balance between light and darkness, with an emphasis towards the darkness. I love chaos. And frankly, I can't think of anything more chaotic that wiping out the bunch that's given such heavy hits to the dark side lately."
Rayne stepped back and addressed the entire bar. "Ladies, gentlemen, whatever the hell you ares, as you are all aware, there is a very hefty bounty on these people's heads, which of course need not necessarily be attached to their bodies."
"We're not going down without a fight, Rayne," Buffy warned, holding up her sword.
The Italian magician nearby threw back his head and laughed. "Please. We outnumber you, we outgun you and you're all completely powerless. Trust me, you are all history."
The red 1950's style Cadillac braked in front of a bar so fast it could have stopped on a dime. Instantly, Robin undid his belt and leaped from the car, unmindful of the smoke on the tires from his rapid fire trip from Sunnydale. He couldn't teleport directly due to his newfound restrictions, but he could "boost" his own vehicle to help him. He walked towards the front doors of DV8, adjusting his long coat. Just as he was coming up to the doors, a pair of very large and very powerful-looking men stepped in front of him, arms crossed. "No one gets in," one said in a gravely voice. "Private party."
Robin stopped and looked at the two of them. "Listen, I know what you really are and I know who's in there so how about you just get out of my way right now, kay?"
"Can't do that," the other man said. "And if you press us, it won't be pretty."
Robin looked from one to the other and sighed. "Well, this is a cliche in the works. "He reached out and grabbed each one by the shirtfront. He gave a huge tug with each arm and suddenly each bouncer went flying into the air, over the skyscrapers, each giving a yell as they suddenly reformed into their true demon personas. "Why is nothing in life ever easy?" Robin muttered as he pulled open the doors to the bar, unmindful of the demons who smashed onto the ground behind him, leaving a sizeable indentation in the sidewalk.
Hermon and Rayne were grinning, each taking a wine glass from a nearby tray and sipping it. Before them, the inhabitants of the bar were moving towards the Slayerettes, surrounding them and pressing them into a back to back circle. The Sunnydale residents were exchanging nervous glances. They had little in terms of firepower, not expecting such a circumstance and Giles and the witches were now cut off from any power usage. Although they were not about to go down without a fight, their chances quite frankly didn't look very good.
"Ah, what a night," Rayne smiled, sipping at his wine. "What a victory this is for the forces of chaos. The most righteous and famous of the side of order wiped out, which means Sunnydale is about to take a tailspin right into the toilet. I think I know what the Chinese mean when they said 'may you live in interesting times.' I can't think------"
Ethan's rant was cut off suddenly when the doors at the top of the stairs burst open, the three bars covering them breaking into pieces that spun about the room. Everyone stared at the entrance as Robin moved forward, to the top of the stairs.
"Who the hell are you?" Rayne demanded, less upset by the sudden appearance of someone else than by the fact someone had interrupted his lovely speech.
"Me?" Robin smiled. "I'm interesting times." He stepped into the room, his coat flowing past him as he moved onto the top step. "Well, actually, if you want to be technical, I'm the incredibly brutal and exquisitely painful times."
"Robin, what are you doing here?" Giles said, happy for the distraction but worried that not even the lone faery could stand against a force such as this.
"Buffy's mom told me enough to let me know what you were getting into," Robin said, shaking his head. "Honestly, Rupe, you thought Neryo was a spirit? Check the books first, will you?"
"What are you doing here?" Rayne said, repeating Giles' question.
"Killer karoke," Robin replied. "Oh, wait, that's the bar across town."
"Who are you?" Hermon demanded, narrowing his eyes at the intruder.
Robin appeared to be surprised by his pronouncement. "Oh, Hermon. I'm so disappointed. After all we've been through, you don't recognize me? And by the way, what is with that stupid accent? You're from Newcastle."
Rayne gave Hermon a quick look of astonishment as the wizard glared at Robin. "What are you-----" he started in a lower-class British accent, then shifted back to his Italian one. "Who are you?"
Robin gave a tiny smile. "Come on, Hermon. Look at me. Look at the real me, underneath all this."
Hermon frowned in puzzlement as he bent his head to the side, staring at Robin. Suddenly, his eyes went wide and his face turned to one of stunned horror. The glass fell from his hand and shattered onto the floor. "No....." he whispered, the British accent once again evident. "It can't be."
"Wanna bet?" Robin grinned.
"Hermon, what is this? Who is this asshole?" Rayne demanded.
"Tell him, Hermon," Robin said. "Say it loud, say it proud."
Hermon gathered his strength, the shock and fear evident in his voice as he uttered a single word.
Instantly, a dozen demons spit out their drinks. Many repeated Hermon's earlier move, glasses smashing onto the floor. The Slayerettes looked on in confusion as every demon in the bar stared in horror and fear at the lone figure on the stairs, catching snippets of comments.
"Oh no. Oh, God, no."
"Not him. Dark lords, anyone but him."
"I never thought he was real."
"It can't be. It just can't be."
"Forget it," one demon said, throwing up his hands and moving away. "The Slayer's one thing, St. Wolf is another but you can't pay me enough to take this guy on. I'm out of here." Before he could move, Robin threw out his hand, bolts of energy smashing into the doors around the bar, sealing them shut. "Please. I've always wanted a captive audience. Oh, and all you with telepathic abilities had best stay out of my head. My thoughts right now ain't for decent folks."
Robin smiled as he looked around at the massive fear and confusion he'd caused. The smile slowly faded as he took another step down and pointed towards the confused Slayerettes. "Nobody touches those kids."
With a unity and timing that the Marines would appreciate, every single demon in the bar took five steps away from the Slayerettes. Jenny, Giles and Steve all exchanged glances, mouthing "Kids?"
"Do you hear me?" Robin went on, his eyes sweeping the room. "Nobody touches them. They're with me. They're my friends. And in five minutes, we're all walking out of here." Slowly, Robin began to move down the steps, his gaze hard and steady as he stared out at the crowd. "You all know who I am. Or you should. You all know what I can do. Or you should. Now, is there anyone here who really wants to start something with me?"
There was a pause, then a vampire, a young one by the look of him, suddenly charged forward. Without even glancing in his direction, Robin snapped his finger, produced a stake out of mid-air and sent it slamming into the vamp's heart. "There's always one wiseguy in the bunch," he sighed as the vamp turned into dust.
Reaching the bottom of the steps, Robin stepped over the dust pile and looked out at the terrified demons. "Now, the next person who tries something cute is going to have his skin wrapped around this planet. Nine times."
Robin's gaze swept the room until he came to Ethan. The smile returned as he gazed at the sorcerer, who felt himself shrinking back in sudden fear. "I don't like you," Robin said. "I really don't. To me, you're nothing but a bottom-feeding little shit who plays these little game because he doesn't have the guts or the intelligence to play in the big leagues. Back in my home, I wouldn't even take the time to wipe you off my shoe."
Robin's face moved into Ethan's, the smile gone and fire in his eyes. "Don't try to pull anything with these people again. Or you're going to know what real chaos is."
He stepped back and turned away, not at all surprised that Ethan was already muttering under his breath, knowing the sorcerer was trying to whip something up. "To quote from the only other person who can get a reaction like this in this dump: Some dumb mother-fucker's always trying to ice-skate uphill."
He spun about and threw his palm outward, energy ripping from it to engulf Ethan completely. With yell and a shocked expression, Rayne vanished from view as everyone backed up in shock.
"What the hell did you do?" Hermon said, not even trying to hide his true voice anymore.
"Just sent him on a little trip," Robin said. "Truth to tell, I'm not sure where. I had a dozen different places running through my mind. But wherever he is, I can guarantee it isn't nice." He looked towards Hermon. "Care to join him?"
The look of terror on the wizard's face was answer enough. Robin looked at him, then at the demons in the bar. "I want all of you to spread the word," he said in a low voice. "These people are under my protection. Which means, you mess with them, you mess with me. And you're not ready for that kind of trouble. No one is. Are we all clearly understood?"
Seeing the fearful nods, Robin shrugged and looked towards the Slayerettes. "Right. Come on, you lot. We're out of here."
Robin headed up the stairs as the others slowly followed, still getting used to the idea of the demons just staying out of their way. At the head of the stairs, Robin suddenly turned and looked back towards the bar. "By the by. I'll be checking them before they leave and if any of them cross that doorway carrying any spells or curses or charms.....I'm going to be put out. And I'm going to take it out on you." He smiled. "Have a nice day."
"Okay, what the hell just happened?" Xander asked as the group piled out of the bar, stepping over the bodies of the two demon bouncers.
"I've got a rep," Robin shrugged. "One that they respect."
"You mean Puck's rep," Willow said.
"No, they know who I really am," Robin smiled. "And that intimidates them."
"Intimidates?" Buffy asked. "Robin, those guys were drop dead scared shitless of you. Just what have you done to get that kind of reaction."
Robin stopped and slowly turned around, starting at them with an intensity none of them had witnessed. "Things you couldn't begin to comprehend," he said. As soon as the intensity appeared, however, it vanished and Robin was smiling again. "Not that you're complaining, right?"
"Just what did happen to Ethan?" Giles said. "Lovely as it was, he is still a human being."
"Don't worry, Rupe, he was alive when I zapped him. Of course, I can't attest to his well-being now but hey, he was asking for it."
"I wish we could have nailed those guys one," Buffy muttered.
"Oh, relax," Robin said. "Just think of how many dissolving bodies it's going to take before they realize I spiked their drinks with holy water." He marched off to the other's stunned looks. "So, we hurry, we can make it back in time for dinner." He headed to his car as the others stared at him.
"Guys?" Xander said weakly. "Just what in the hell have we gotten ourselves into with this guy?"
"I'm afraid we're going to find out the hard way," Steve said as the others slowly followed a man who was a lot more than they had ever realized.