Your Enemies Closer

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Setting---A dark alley, Los Angeles 2005

For one quick moment, he wondered why every big moment in his life happened on a dark and stormy night. He wondered that, pondered that for just one moment before he felt the pain surge in his stomach and he looked up at the woman before him.

Her hair was plastered across her eyes, her chest heaving, rain slicking down her face. Her lips were crimson and drawn into a frown, fingers bloodied and bone-white as they clutched the wooden object in her hands. His heart lurched, his guts twisted, clenched around that impossibly sharp weapon in her fingers.

Then he looked down, down at the bloody wound in his stomach. His white shirt was stained bright red, his fingers trembling. Looking back up into that pale, dark-eyed face, he swallowed hard and tried to find words. None came.

"Oh. Fuck. Oh Jesus. Oh Fuck." She muttered, nearly moaned before she wrenched the stake out of his gut. He cried out and collapsed to his knees in a puddle thick with the ashes of the vampire he'd just dusted. Cold seemed to spark along his spine and seep slowly across his heart.

"I..." His lips moved and words were whispered through his clenched teeth. She bent, reaching for him like she could help if she could just touch him. Like she could make it all better with a brush of fingertips across his forehead.

Her movement was stopped by a gloved hand on her wrist. She jumped and leapt away from him, staring back into the eyes of the shorter red-haired woman.

"What the fuck is he doing here?" The other woman asked, taking a drag off of her cigarette before flicking it down into the puddle he was slowly sinking into. Her green eyes trailed over the sodden, ripped state of his clothing and the blood seeping from between his fingers. She half-smiled and looked back up at her new recruit.

"I...he just came out of nowhere..." That was all she could say through her trembling lips. She grimaced as a droplet of blood trickled down the stake to her wrist. The stake was quickly dropped from her nerveless fingers with a clatter. "We have to..."

"Go. We gotta get out of here. Where he is, the rest of those bastards are and we don't need to deal with them right now. Come on." The redhead jerked her thumb in the direction of the big black van parked alongside the alley before turning on her heels.

"But...we can't just..." Shock was so complete, she couldn't find words for the conflicted emotions she was feeling.

"We can. We are. You coming or not?" Green eyes blazed as the woman wheeled on her. She looked and saw the reluctance in the taller woman's eyes. She wavered, teetered on just walking away and doing the right thing. She opened her mouth to speak.

Suddenly, a shout rang out, the call of a name she knew only too well echoing off the brick walls. The red-haired woman started, reached blindly for her wrist and dragged her through the alley with as much force as she could muster.

The young woman spared a glance back to the man in the puddle, his face as pale as the lightning flashing above them, his shirt soaked with rain and blood. Memories of old sprang to her mind and she closed her eyes against the pain, wondering why the hell she cared so much.
He'd gotten in her way. It wasn't her fault. That's what she kept telling herself as the van door was slammed, hiding the sight of that fallen, bleeding figure from her eyes.

She realized she was crying.

In the alley, the man heard his name being called and lifted his head out of the puddle long enough to shout an answer. He laid his head back down, his muscles feeling weak and aching. He took deep, pain-filled breath and felt his gut searing, the air from his nostrils rippling the water beneath his cheek.

Darkness crept up around him and he felt himself sinking into a deep, impossibly quiet embrace. He lingered on her brown eyes and wondered, pondered her existence.

Wesley passed out just as Gunn found him, thoughts of Faith on his mind.


Chapter One:

Setting---Wolfram & Hart

"She's out of prison. We thought you'd like to know." Lilah Morgan stared across her desk, somewhat nervously. Quick hazel eyes mapped her face, lingered on the hollow below her ear and swept across her collarbone. An amused quirk at the corners of the ruby red lips didn't seem to match the hungry eyes and Lilah stifled a shiver.

"She is, is she? Now that is interesting...." The cocky male voice came from behind her and Lilah forced down her nervous fear with a tight lipped smile.

"Well, considering she's The Slayer, yes." She answered, swiveling in her chair to meet the dark eyes and the smirking grin haphazardly strewn across the handsome, deadly face before her. "Well?"

"Well what? She's not a problem." The female leaned back against the plush leather cushions and propped her long, smooth legs on the edge of the lawyer's desk.

"And why not, pray tell?"

"Oh yes, tell her baby. I love it when you explain things."

A quick, impossibly bright smile was shot in his direction as the dark-haired female swung her legs off the desk and leaned forward. "Because we've got a plan. A good plan. A full-proof plan that doesn't involve the Slayer. Or the Hunters or Connor Investigations. It does, however, involve you."

A raised eyebrow was all she sent in questioning and the brunette narrowed her eyes.

"Come on, tell her." Another prideful prod from the tall, dark-clad male in the corner and she continued, her eyes bright as she fixed them on Lilah's square face.

"We know about the prophecy. The one you're so keen on keeping hidden from us. By the way, good work with keeping that a secret." Lilah's eyes widened and she opened her mouth, jaw almost unhinging. How did they know?

"How did you know?" She echoed her own thoughts and sat back in the chair, reaching for the hidden button beneath the desk.

"Killed a guy in your mailroom: boy was he pissed at you. Told me everything before I ripped his throat out." His voice was hard and rough in her ear and she tightened her grip on the edge of the desk, ready to press the button at any moment.

"So? Now you know everything. What the fuck are you going to do about it?"

"No, the question is, what are you doing about it?" The female asked and turned a wicked smile on Lilah.

"We're trying to stop it of course. No one wants a Cataclysm before we're ready for one." Lilah bit back, her eyes shifting back and forth between the two of them. He moved up beside his lover and wrapped his arms around her thin shoulders.

"You hear that? She wants to stop the world from ending too soon! We can't have that, now can we, baby?" He whispered in her ear as she leaned back against the cushions, fingers snaking up into his own.

"Of course not." She tilted her head up to kiss him, tongue languidly trailing across his lips before she pulled back and shot Lilah a deadly glare, a smile spreading across her crimson lips. "Get your fucking hand off that button or I'll rip your fingernails off."

Lilah's hand snatched away from the button and she drew her hands up into the open. She eyed the demoness before her and drew a deep breath. "So, what are two going to do?"

"We're going to end the world. And you're going to help us." She answered lightning quick, her fingers still curled around the vampire's pale digits.

"Sorry. Against company policy to end the world without their say-so." Lilah smirked, her eyebrows quirking

"Oh? Perhaps I can change your mind?" As he spoke, his visage melted, eyes going from dark brown to glittering gold and his teeth descending onto his ruby lips. "Whatya say? Do we have a deal?"

A chill once again went up her spine and she knew he wasn't kidding. Not this time and not now. "A deal for what?" Lilah asked, eyebrow arching again.

"We'll let you know. Until then, leave it all up to us." The demoness spoke, rising up out of her seat, quick eyes flicking over Lilah's face once more. She smiled again and Lilah was nearly blinded by the light coming off of her in waves. "And whatever you do, don't tell your little bosses about what we're doing, or I'll just have to kill you. And I hate that."

The light faded, Lilah's skin slightly pink from the scorching heat of the woman before her.

"I understand. Cordelia." She answered, blinking away spots. Another smile and the demoness looped her arm through the vampire's. They turned as one and he reached for the door handle. "Oh, and Angelus?"

Yes, Miss Morgan?" Angelus turned, a smirk on his lips once more.

"What about the Slayer?"

"I killed the last one didn't I?" Was all she heard as the door slammed behind them. She let out a deep breath and licked her lips.

"I hate those two!" Lilah growled into the empty air and rubbed her temples. This was going to be a pain in the ass, not to mention the mound of paperwork. Did she mention she really hated those two?


Setting---Connor Investigations, two days later

Anne was tired and her head was swimming. Pictures of demons and their descriptions were burned into her bright blue retinas and she blinked rapidly to clear their shadows away. Research was admittedly not her forte, but as there was no one else around to do it, she had to take up the slack.

"What the hell is a Tarvlak demon?" She mused out loud, pushing a strand of blonde hair out of her face distractedly.

Just then, the front doors of the Hyperion swung open and in walked the one man she'd been waiting all day for.

"Thank God you're back!" Anne called, her elfin face scrunching up as she struggled to her feet. She dropped the stack of papers in her hands and waddled over to him, her giant belly swinging as she went. Wesley smiled at her and pressed his hand against her belly. "I was so worried!"

"Well, I'm here and you don't have to worry anymore." Wes smiled and shrugged his shoulders, trying to ignore the ripple of pain that spread across his own belly. The stitches pulled taunt and then went slack as he stopped his movements.

"But, you're going to be okay...?" He opened his mouth to answer her question, but he was interrupted by a booming male voice.

"Hey! Get your hands off my wife!" Wesley swiveled in place and met the smiling eyes of Charles Gunn. The black man descended the front steps of the hotel and dropped the huge duffel bag in his hands onto the floor.

"Sorry, but she's so beautiful when she's pregnant." Wesley grinned as he brushed a kiss across Anne's smooth, glowing cheek. At Gunn's narrowed gaze, Wesley threw up his hands and backed up a pace, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"Yeah, she is, isn't she?" Gunn moved up and placed a moist kiss on his wife's lips, his fingers spreading out across the bulging belly. "How's the squirt?"

"Kicking like the dickens. And how is his father?" Anne asked, tracing a line across Gunn's jaw with one pale finger.

"Tired, dirty and annoyed at English over there." A jerk of his head was sent in Wesley's direction and the Brit looked up.

"What did I do this time?" Wesley murmured, picking up Anne's dropped files and flipping through the thin parchment.

"Hmm...where do I start? First you go off on a patrol, when you should have been back here resting. THEN you get yourself stabbed by someone named Faith. And THEN you refuse to stay in the hospital, against the doctor's wishes! Not to mention you're just an uptight English asswad, but we won't get into that now..."

Wesley glanced up at him over the rim of his glasses and sighed heavily, ignoring the pain in his stomach. "That all?"

"Well, you bled on my new shirt."

"My apologies."
Wes said dryly, putting the file back down and looking around the wide lobby, as if he expected someone to jump out at him. Usually, that was the case; today was a slow day.

"So, who's Faith?" Anne asked, waddling back over to the couch and sinking down onto the soft cushions. Gunn sat down beside her, his eyes curious as he looked up expectantly up at the boss of Connor Investigations.

"She's a Slayer. THE Slayer actually." Wesley said, painfully remembering the fact that she was the only one left of his two failures.

"I know that, Wes. And you were her Watcher, right. She, um....tortured you, didn't she?" Gunn asked, his hand slipping into Anne's and squeezing hard.

"Yes, she did. And then she went to prison and I have no idea why she's out and I don't care so let's just move on to other business, shall we?" He said in a rush, slamming his blue eyes shut as he remembered the pain and fear in those dark brown pools. Then he remembered the pain, as if he could ever forget it, and he sneered, pushing the image away from himself.

Anne exchanged a glance with Charles, but neither one opted to comment on his avoidance of the subject. When Charles finally spoke up, he did so with a soft voice. "She was working with Justine and the Hunters. Is that why you're not concerned?"

"I didn't say I wasn't concerned. I just don't want to talk about it. She's obviously working for them and that's a good thing; the Hunters do good around this city, as you two well know. As long as she leaves us alone. Her and Justine." He spat the last name and groped along his throat to the old scar across his jugular.

"Yeah they do some good, which is the reason Anne and I both joined them after...well after things went to shit around here. But bro..."

"Charles, drop it." Anne said, glaring at her husband and digging her fingernails into his palm. He winced and nodded his head, blowing out a tense breath. None of them liked to be reminded of the incidents of two years ago, it brought back too much pain.

Anne looked beyond Gunn and eyed her friend. She admired the strength in him and the deep longing to help the world that ran through him. Admired and hated him for it because that longing was killing him. Slowly but surely, it was killing him.

Looking him up and down, she could see he wasn't the same man she'd met four years ago. Now he had a careworn, haggard appearance to his scarecrow frame. Wide streaks of white hair colored his temples, fading back into the dark bramble of his hair. His hands were scarred and callused, his mouth lined with frown lines. He looked old, and not from the lapse of time.

"You look like hell, Wesley. Why did you do it again?" Anne asked, her eyebrows drawn up in concern. Wes looked up and regarded her with a cool, impassive stare.

"I did what I had to." He clipped, stalking off into the dark confines of his office. She watched as the light went on and the door slammed.

"You're right. He is an uptight English asswad." She said, sighing heavily and placing her head on Gunn's broad shoulder. He kissed her cheek and grunted in agreement. "Next time he tries to go to that shaman, stop him. Do whatever it takes; knock him out, whatever. Just don't let him go."

"You know that won't stop him, baby. He'll just find a way to do it himself and he won't stop until he's gotten enough power stored." Gunn answered her wearily, his chocolate brown eyes fixed on the office door.

"Maybe, but at least try next time. It's killing him."

"He knows that and he doesn't care." The new voice made Charles swivel his head and he regarded the green demon with a concerned expression.

"You read him?" Gunn asked, eyebrow arching as Lorne collapsed in the big orange couch across from them. The demon's one good eye glinted at them, his spiky hair unkempt and the sleeves of his torn shirt rolled up in an effort to hide the blood stains on the material.

"Didn't need to. His aura is screaming it." Lorne said, doggedly running a hand through his hair and grimacing as he felt it crackle with dried blood.

"Why is he doing this to himself?" Anne asked the anagogic demon, her hand smoothing over her round belly. Lorne leaned forward and placed a lime green hand over the bulging skin, a smile playing at the corners of his thin red lips before he let it slide off and he went serious again.

"Because it's the only way to make everything right again." At Anne's look, he waved his hand and sank back against the soft cushions and put a thumb in his mouth. He didn't feel like explaining the finer points of redemption at the moment. Not when he'd just had a bad session.

" is she?" Gunn asked, changing the topic and glancing up the stairs. Lorne followed his gaze and heaved a heavy sigh.

"That mandrake powder Wes got her worked. She's out like a light, poor thing."

"And the blood?" Anne raised her eyebrows and bit her lip, praying it wasn't what she thought it was.

"Her nose again."

Anne's face fell and she felt tears springing to her eyes. "This is killing her."

"There's a lot of that going around lately." Lorne answered, his cycloptic visage darkening with sorrow. His heart ached to think about the loss of his brightness, but he couldn't help but feel that he'd already lost her. Damn the Powers for doing this to her.

And damn Cordelia for letting them.


Setting---A warehouse somewhere in

"You didn't tell me about Wesley." Faith growled, her arms crossed over her chest, a strand of dark brown hair across her eyes. She flicked her head to dislodge it and peered at the red-haired woman before her.

"Yes I did." Justine insisted, not looking up from her perch on a battered chair where she was sharpening a stake.

"No you didn't. You only said we were going to kill some vampires. You never mentioned Wesley." Faith said, her eyes shifting back and forth in their sockets as she wondered how fast she could move so that she could rip the bitch's head off. Pretty damned fast.

"How do you know him?"

"Ex-Watcher. I tortured him." Faith said mechanically, her emotions far removed from the past. She'd long ago numbed herself to the wrongs she'd done. She was a different person now; but it wasn't like that mattered now. Her past had found a way to come back and bite her in the ass, it seemed.

"Really? I knew there was a reason I liked you." Justine glanced up at her and smiled, but Faith only returned a hateful glare.

"The feeling isn't mutual. Why do you hate Wes?"

"You want a list?" Off Faith's look, she continued, "He runs an investigations agency out of some old hotel and he tends to get in my way. Plus, he stole a couple of my recruits a few years back. Oh, and I slit his throat once; really he's just a fucking asshole."

Faith was silent a moment, letting the information sink into her brain. Finally she spoke up, her voice low and thick. "This big daddy vampire you want me to kill, what's his name?"

"Angelus. Why?" Justine said automatically before her eyes went knowingly bright. "Oh, you would know him, right? After all, he and Pryce were pretty chummy there for a while. That didn't last too long..."

"What happened?" Faith asked, sinking to the dirty floor of the warehouse. Behind her, she could hear the other recruits training. She blocked out the sounds and turned her attention to the leader of the ragtag army that called themselves the Hunters.

With a smile, Justine told Faith everything that had happened. Faith listened raptly, things falling into place where there had been gaping holes before. Now she knew why Angel had abandoned her in prison, why she'd believed he was dead and not just his old self again. It all fell horribly into place and she shuddered.

"So, this Holtz guy, he stole Angel's son?" Faith ended, running her thumb along her lower lip in thought. She saw Justine's hard eyes soften at the mention of the man's name and she smiled longingly into space.

"Yeah. He did." Justine said, her eyes far away for a moment before she snapped back to the present. "This is his legacy I'm carrying on. His goal was always to kill Angelus and I'm not stopping until I do. I don't give a fuck who gets in my way. Connor Investigations or even you."

Faith's gaze snapped up to the older woman's hard face and she smiled widely. "Don't worry about me. I'll kill Angelus for you."

"And Wyndham-Pryce?"

"Fuck him. He won't be a problem." Faith said, lifting her chin pridefully. Justine smiled.

"Good to hear it." Justine stood and walked away, shouting out orders to the sparring men and women spread out across the wide floor of the warehouse.

Faith watched her go for a moment and then she stood and grabbed for her sword. She jogged to the door, slamming it shut behind her. As she walked out into the night, heading toward the Hyperion, she whispered to the wind, "He won't be a problem at all."

Chapter 2