The man chuckled, a deep, rich sound that made women tingle in all the right places. He rubbed the woman's back as she stood beside him with her forehead on the bar. "Nothing says Wolf like being ignored by bar staff." He called the bartender over and ordered beers, collecting the glasses and leading the way to a table at the back of the pub.
"Bit out of your way, this, isn't it?" Spike gestured around at the pub, at an interior that had yet to see the wine bar make-over and colourful locals that were both local and hadn't been priced out by developers.
Wolf shrugged. "I was working."
"Was?" Spike leaned back in his seat and eyed his companion. She would never be mistaken for one of the world's great beauty's, her face had too much character for that, but she had a cheeky smile and bright eyes that caught more than they let on.
"Yeah, just radioed in and passed off duty to someone else."
Spike smiled. "Not on my account?"
"I could say yes, but then you'd just get a big head." Wolf kicked his foot playfully under the table as he pulled the most pathetic pout she'd seen this side of a Bassett. "I've been sitting back here keeping an eye on a suspect for a couple of hours, he just left, so I handed off to a mobile unit. I spotted you when you came in and hoped you wouldn't leave before my target."
"No fear of that. There's still beer on the premises." He continued before Wolf could question the dark edge to his joking tone. "Still with Interpol then?"
"Yes and no," Wolf answered with a crooked smile. "I did some ground work tracking down a stolen painting that the cops here and in Paris seem to have misplaced. Scotland Yard would like a word with the people responsible for relocating it to a lockup around the corner. I'm officially on secondment because I can sit in pubs and watch the world's most boring criminal for hours without being noticed."
"And unofficially you're making sure the Yard doesn't screw up and lose the painting you found," Spike easily connected the dots.
Wolf raised her glass. "Not bad. But I'm here to make sure the art thieves don't disappear into the woodwork."
Spike raised a questioning eyebrow. "You're not worried about the painting?"
"Not the one that's sitting in the lockup." She grinned showing teeth that didn't look right.
"They stole a fake?"
She shook her head, obviously still amused by the situation. "They stole the real thing, but my boss doesn't trust Yard not to cock up. He arranged the fake that's being used in the sting."
"Any chance they'll spot it?" Spike could see the funny side, but he doubted the Yard would be as amused if it came out that faith in their abilities was being questioned by other agencies.
Wolf snorted. "I've been hanging out in bloody pubs for a week and the bloke I'm following hasn't been anywhere near it." She shrugged. "I'll be glad when it's over. This guy doesn't do anything. He buys a beer, he sits down, then he drinks the beer molecule by molecule. He doesn't read the paper, he doesn't make phone calls, he doesn't talk to anyone other than the bartender. I think I'm watching the world's most boring man and if he doesn't do something soon, I may have to beat him to death with a stick."
Spike coughed, beer coming out his nose. Wolf always resorted to threatening things with sticks when she was annoyed, he'd forgotten how refreshing it was to be around somebody who confronted things head on. Although that particular trait brought with it an insistence on abusing politicians on the television, which was a little eccentric.
"You'll find it tastes better if you swallow rather than inhale." Her expression was deadpan but her eyes were alight with mischief. She sobered quickly, touching his hand lightly. "So, you planning on telling me why you're alone in London sulking into your beer?"
Dropping his eyes, Spike stared into his beer. "Drusilla took off to Barcelona after some demon she met, didn't even have the decency to tell me. Had to beat it out the demon's mates." He smiled bitterly at the memory of demon blood pooled on the floor of a dank basement. It had made him feel a little better at the time, but it didn't get him Drusilla, so he went on bender instead and woke up in the hold of a ship.
"Could have been worse, you could have ended up in Australia." She surprised a laugh out of Spike. It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but she'd been where Spike was and could understand it. Everyone did stupid things when they were hurting. She squeezed his hand and was about to say something when a commotion broke out by the bar. "For fuck's sake."
Spike turned around saw that a group of Millwall supporters had poured themselves into the pub and started throwing their weight around. He had no idea if their team had won or lost, but either way it looked like it was reason enough to get pissed and kick the shit out of someone smaller than they were.
Looking around the pub, Spike thought that perhaps they may have picked the wrong place to start a barney. The regulars may not have been big men, but they had worked the docks all their lives and could wipe the floor with a bunch of pissant neo-Nazi bigots. It looked like the evening's floor show would be entertaining.
One of the skinheads fired up a portable stereo system the size of a small child, and Skrewdriver blared out of the speakers. They were the skinhead punk band of choice, white supremacist arseholes who venerated Hitler.
Turning back to Wolf, Spike found that she was no longer seated across from him. He spotted her by the jukebox, punching in her own selection of music.
The opening bars of Don't Dream It's Over drifted out of the jukebox. "Ah, Crowded House, nice choice."
Wolf shrugged. "It's mostly U2, The Smiths and horror that is Starship. I was hoping for Boy George, but you can't have everything."
Spike nearly choked on his beer, imagining how well the openly gay and extremely flamboyant Boy George would have gone down with the skinheads. It may well have got a quicker reaction than the dulcet tones of Neil Finn, which were only starting to turn heads now that Wolf had shutdown their music with a well aimed missile.
There was much grunting and posturing from the skins, as they tried to pick a victim to blame from the hostile crowd of regulars. The stereo was started again and the volume cranked louder when the publican asked them to turn it off. Obviously not used to following simple instructions, the publican had to enforce the request with an axe handle that shattered the stereo.
It went so quiet, you could hear the whirr of the jukebox changing tracks. The skinheads puffed themselves up, not thinking much of the competition. They hadn't had a run in with wharfies before, especially wharfies who were very protective of their local watering hole.
As the blows started to land, it soon became apparent the newcomers were outclassed and they beat a decisive retreat before they suffered more damage.
Wolf shook her head in amazement. "That's the second time I've seen that happen in here and yet they keep coming back."
Cocking his head, Spike could hear the sound of a ruckus outside. "Want to go see what's happening?" Wolf readily agreed and walked outside to see who the skinheads were beating up on now. Some of the regulars followed them, partially out of curiosity, but mostly to make sure the brawl didn't flow back into the pub.
The crowd on the street was far larger than they expected. It looked like hundreds of people had converged on the area, more skinheads, lots of locals, small groups of Pakistani teenagers looking for revenge and the odd opportunistic passer-by.
Looking up the street, smoke was billowing out of another pub. Looking the other way, broken windows could be seen. In the distance, sirens wailed as the police and fire brigade drew closer.
Spike and Wolf exchanged grins and waded into the battle, fists flying.
When the police cars finally arrived and disgorged a handful of young, unprepared bobbies, Wolf thought she'd better call in some support for the lads before they got hurt. She nutted a Millwall supporter who swung a punch at her, feeling the satisfying crunch as his nose broke. She kneed him in the balls for good measure and made her way out of the melee. Taking out her radio, she called for assistance.
"What are you doing over here, love?" Spike had followed her out, his progress slowed by the swearing man he was dragging along in a headlock. Spike hit the man repeatedly until he stopped yammering. He looked down, contemplating the man under his arm for a moment, before shrugging and sinking his fangs into the man's neck.
"Oy!" Wolf yelled. Spike started and looked up, blood on his lips, but Wolf dived past him to rescue the young constable who was getting a kicking. Feet and fists flew as she pummelled the two attackers. One went down, his head bouncing off the street, the other backed off and went in search of easier game. Wolf helped the injured policeman back to his car and laid him out on the back seat.
Leaning against the bonnet of the panda, she handed Spike a knife. "See if you can make that look like something other than a bite wound, mate. Wouldn't do to draw attention."
"Good idea." Spike nodded in agreement, slicing across the man's neck wound. He dumped the body in the gutter and joined Wolf, watching the riot flow around them.
They continued trading gossip between bouts of fending off aggressors, rescuing overwhelmed young policemen and snacking on the odd neo-Nazi. But once the cowboys from the riot squad turned up, they followed the smart money and made themselves scarce. Dodging tear gas and rubber bullets was a mug's game.
"You know, a nice spot of violence does wonders for a man." The crowd behind them may have thinned, but it sounded louder as shouts bounced of the buildings.
Wolf gave Spike a long look. "Better than beating up demons?"
Spike considered the question. "That was good, but there was more of an unknown element here that always adds a bit of spice. Demons rarely clock you across the jaw with the butt of a sawn-off." Spike rubbed the bruise on his jaw as he spoke.
"Yeah. You have any bother?"
"Knife bounced across my ribs." She pulled her shirt away from her neck, showing Spike a jagged red mark on her that was still flaking dried blood. "Some bastard glassed me, I think I may have ruined his chances of breeding in the future."
"That'll teach him," Spike chuckled, throwing a companionable arm around Wolf's shoulders. "You know, this has given me desire to get Dru back. I wonder if she can see a dead demon in the stars?"
"Send me a postcard." Wolf nudged him in the ribs. "But I'd like to finish our beer that was so rudely interrupted."
"A good plan. You know a pub that hasn't been destroyed in a riot?" Spike laughed as they walked into the night, gunshots, sirens and screams still audible in the distance.
shanelle's Two Lines Challenge — you said i'm gonna buy a gun and start a war, if you can tell me something worth fighting for — coldplay, a rush of blood to the head
Part of the Wolf&Declán!verse
Many thanks to the luscious moonbeamsfanfic for volunteering as beta.
Runner Up of the Round Three Kyerumption Best Action Fic Award