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Chapter 28 - Ghost in the Machine

Part 28

The following day saw Xander and Spike (aka William) travelling to Heathrow driven by Matti.

Much back slapping hugs and farewells ensued and the two took off to Geneva.
Xander was still a little put off by Spike's 'new look' but the smile was the same, as was his charming of the female attendants on the plane... and the male ones, if Xander was not mistaken!

Their arrival in Geneva and consequent ushering into a waiting limosine, was followed by a welcome worthy of only the rich at the Angleterre (five star) hotel established in 1872 was something Xander had not expected.

Spike was welcomed as would be a long time aged patron, and as it turned out that was not far from the truth. Xander's' wiggins' arching up when the *Head* Concierge ushered them to their suite.

Jean-Paul was obviously of mixed heritage, demon being a case in point. Middle-aged in appearance, he deferred to the former vampire then inquired about politely about William's needs whilst in their care; was informed that Xander was the 'significant other'; and nodded politely as the request for absolute privacy was acknowledged with a knowing look.

His wife was also part demon and, as it happened, part human wiccan, so he had been informed of the W&H threat, and been instructed by Spike ahead of time, so understood that there was absolute discretion involved with their visit. It would be no problem.

He was used to the high paying customers and the need for silence.

The last time the young Mr Aurelius had visited, he had been both polite and generous regards Jean-Paul and his team of attendants' efforts at a 'very difficult time'.

The thanks on departure was expressed by a whole case of Bollinger delivered for the staff to partake, and a bottle of Château De Beaulon cognac for Jean-Paul's personal enjoyment, plus an enormous bunch of flowers for his dear wife... So it was apparent that apart from 'William's' magical signature, this was *no* normal, pretentious or 'stingy rich-boy' guest. He suspected royalty (of either human or demon origin) and was more than happy to treat William the same. His recent (and obviously deliberate) change of appearance was unsurprising, as many of their celebrity guests chose that as a foil for the waiting photographers, but his friend was somewhat of a mystery.

Jean-Paul sent a text to his wife, Ellamine, who very swiftly answered. "Artiste of the moment, sculptor, several possessions, lives and works at coven in UK. Former resident of US."

Jean-Paul suspected there was more but ceased communications. William had been most specific during his last visit.

There was something, or someone, trying to trace his movements and/or get their hands on his familial money. This was just *not* going to happen. His wife and he had also worked so hard to 'fly under the radar' and understood what that meant for a couple who apparently were just starting out - albeit with a lovely 'dowry' but still...

He forewent texting in favor of simply asking his wife as she came in the front door of their apartment, "Can you ward William Aurelius' suite?"

His statuesque wife stood back on her four inch heels for a moment, processed the name, then threw her head back, eyes going black, and called upon the power of Gaia. A flash later and Ellamine stood straight and smiled at her life partner, "So that's done... Where's my ‘after spell’ champagne?"

Jean-Paul grinned, loved her a little more and was more than happy to oblige. Post spell, they settled in front of the television to watch parts of the recorded Monte Carlo F1, and parts of a rather average police/CSI episode (depending who had the controls!)
………………

Lilah was standing in the London offices of Wolfram and Hart, fuming prior to the meeting with the overly confident Sarah and the rather depressed looking reinstated Watcher (courtesy of W&H) Mr Giles, so began the conversation with a curt “Good Morning” then began to drive her point.

“ I assumed that we would have the new statue by now… though it seems this Mr Harris was injured in some ‘hilarious’ accident and so we must put our plans back some months. Mister Giles, what do you know of this?”

Giles sat forward on the rather uncomfortable settee then answered, “He had an unfortunate accident in the workshop, and has consequently had several digits removed.
His recovery, however, is progressing.”

The aging Watcher was becoming more and more guarded in his answers as he began to assume there was more afoot than met the eye, so added quickly, “ I am assured that he is taking a short break from his work to recover and recuperate.”

Lilah was quick to push in, “With his new squeeze. Yes we all know that! So what will it take to compel him to finish his next piece? Hmm?? Money? A permanent commission?

You are the expert here Mr Giles. Apart from the new ‘boy’, what spins his dial? I happen to know he is not short of money, or investment prowess – and yes we *have* all the figures.”

“I… I’m not sure. But if he has given his word then I can only assume you will have your sculpture.”

Sarah jumped in, “It is reported that Mr Harris has departed for a sojourn in Europe
for a week or two, destination unknown, and though we have yet to determine for how long and where, we do have an indication that his intent is for a period of rest and accessing some remedial therapy to assist his use of the injured hand. “

Lilah was still angry, and therefore persistent, “So, Sarah, I surmise you*still* cannot give me the ‘where or what’ is going on!”

Sarah had the courtesy to look contrite, “No Ma’am, but we will.”

“And who are ‘we’? The wizards? The covens? The seers?” Lilah stood from her desk, the extra five inches of heel on her designer shoes giving the required impact.

“You have three days to report back. And if nothing comes of it, you, Mr Giles may well find yourself ousted from the Watchers’ Council if you fail to use your influence to give the Senior Partners at W & H what it dearly desires. And take that as a warning. I am sure you need the Watchers position for now, your previous misdemeanors wiped, and of course, our generous contribution to your retirement fund, needs to be *all* taken into consideration… Ripper.”

Lilah then turned to Sarah, who paled, “As for you, my dear, there is a section of W & H that specializes in ‘donations’. So if you intend to donate your body parts only *after* your demise, then I suggest you apply yourself.”
…………………..

Xander and ‘William’ spent their first night relaxing in what Xander would have described as a ‘palatial’ suite -two rooms plus a wonderfully appointed bathroom with spa. They ordered in and spent a great deal of their time petting, safe in the knowledge that a) apparently Spike owned the hotel, and b) that it was warded against any malicious surveillance on the part of Wolfram and Hart.

The following day was equally amazing to Xander. After a fitful breakfast, he was ushered into a private limousine by Jean-Paul , and then was stunned at the Swiss Bank of Spike/the Aurelian’s choosing, when Spike negotiated in perfect Swiss/German that he become a silent signatory to what amounted to a fortune – even only on the computer readout.

Post the appropriate paperwork (double signed and witnessed) was complete, Spike led him to the ‘family vault’, explained each piece and its current worth, then had him vow never to disclose the contents, or their value. There was no question, it was literally millions of dollars worth, and Xander felt humbled to be the ‘second in line’ to protecting it.

After their successful venture to the bank, the two took in the sights of Geneva via the extended car, and on foot, in daylight, as Spike was keen to point out. His beautiful partner still coming to terms with his somewhat human status and immunity to sunlight.

Jean- Paul had taken the liberty of arranging dinner at a fashionable restaurant, so one of their stops was to acquaint Xander with the concept of ‘high end clothes shopping’.

By the time they returned to the hotel to change and head out once more, Jean-Paul was grinning widely at ‘William’. His partner was certainly a looker.

As they passed the desk on the way to the car, however, Spike paused and asked, “Any news of Dru?”

The reply was both succinct and jubilant, “She is apparently on her way to Paris, sir.”

It was enough for now and ‘William’ joined his friend in the car.

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