Setting---The Hyperion Hotel, the next day
Faith slammed the door to the room that had been emptied for her. She felt
like a coward hiding up here in Wesley's hotel, hiding from what she'd
done and what she was afraid she'd do next. A sick, roiling feeling in her
stomach was slowly taking over and spreading to her limbs.
She sat down on the bed, fingers tugging at the hem of her shirt, her legs
itching to run. She felt like she was living back in the prison, only this
room had a door she could walk out of at will. She stared at the scarred
oak and dared it to open up. Dared the world to be okay outside of it,
dared the sun to shine and birds to sing. Dared herself to just get up and
run and run until she wasn't sure where she was. As
long as she wasn't here.
Faith just sat there, chewing her bottom lip.
They didn't believe her and she knew it. The truth had been jammed back in
her throat and she'd lied to them. To him.
Again. Flashes of his face, reading her
her rights and clamping chains on her had come
back full force and she'd shut her mouth and just told them the first
thing that had come to mind.
It wasn't such a stretch, after all, that she'd clashed with Justine's
ways and had decided to leave. She had been thinking that, in fact. But
she hadn't planned on running straight back here where she was
knew was expected to go. The fact that she felt
safe here was enough to make her stomach churn.
"FUCK this!" She ground out, standing and walking towards the door. Her
hand touched the knob just as someone on the other side knocked. Faith
tensed, held her breath and waited, frozen in place.
"Faith? Hey...um...you awake?" Faith let out
her breath immediately and pulled the door open. Anne smiled at her from
the other side.
"Hey." She answered flippantly, eyes darting back behind the pregnant
blonde to the hallway. No one else lurked in the corners and she turned
her attention back to the woman before her. "What's up?"
"We're having a meeting. Business stuff."
"Umm...so?" Faith shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
"So I thought you'd like to come. There might be action." Faith nearly
smiled. Anne knew how to appeal to her Slayer side. Still, she just stared
at her. Anne went on, grinning widely. "Fight-y
Maiming. Ribs afterward."
That broke her. Faith found herself grinning
and gestured the blonde onward with a wave of her hand.
Ten minutes later, she was tucked into a corner of Wesley's office, trying
to blend in with the shadows--not something she was used to doing. Anne
was sitting in the only other chair in the room, facing Wesley. Gunn was
hovering over her shoulder, looking as antsy as Faith felt. Lorne was
leaning against the doorframe. Faith didn't know where Fred was, but she
guessed the screaming she'd heard yesterday meant she wasn't going to be
seen for a couple of days.
Her eyes turned from the cycloptic demon to
the man in charge. She frowned and took a moment to study him. He looked
even worse for wear today than the night she'd arrived here. From what
Anne had explained to her, whatever he'd done to himself should have been
righted by now. He wasn't supposed to look so...worn.
A pain shot across her heart and she worried her lip between her teeth.
His clothing was rumpled and so was his streaked hair, which would have
charmed her if his skin wasn't so pale. Looking up from his notes, he
caught her eye and smiled so slightly she wasn't sure if he'd really done
it. A moment later, he looked away and cleared his throat.
"Two things. We actually have a case, which
means money." Wesley turned from one to the other and then took a deep
breath. "A Villsk demon is living in Belle
Apartments, eating the inhabitants. The owner of the building wants us to
kill it. Gunn?"
"On it." Charles took the scrap of paper with the address from
Wesley's outstretched hand.
"And the other thing?" Lorne asked from behind
"Lorne and I are going to a source of ours for information."
"You want me to go with you, bro?" Gunn asked, eyes
"No...we can do this alone. The source is
friendly if not...unpleasant." Wes answered, folding his hands on the
"Kay..." Gunn's voice trailed off and he looked over at Faith. "So,
Slayer, wanna tag along?"
Normally, a remark like that would have her hissing and responding with
something smartassed, but she only nodded her
head and stood. "If you can keep up with me."
Gunn smiled and gestured her forward. Faith walked past Lorne and glanced
back over her shoulder to see Gunn kiss Anne swiftly on the cheek before
he turned and walked out the door.
Again, Wesley caught her eye and Faith stopped dead in her tracks. Gunn
stepped past her, but she ignored him, a pair of blue eyes boring into
hers. A hard lump of guilt formed in her stomach and her breath caught in
her throat. As she watched, he mouthed something and it took her a moment
to register what it was.
The corners of her mouth drew up and she swallowed hard. "You too..." she
mouthed back. He grinned and she felt her smile growing despite herself.
"Faith? You ready?" Gunn's voice cut through
the line between them and she turned toward the tall black man.
"Yeah." Faith answered, grabbing up the sword
Gunn offered her and following him out the door. She could have sworn she
felt a pair of eyes boring holes into her back as she left.
Setting---Belle Apartments, an hour and a half later
Gunn bent over double, his hands on his knees, panting loudly. A slash on
his forehead was running blood down into his eyes and he wiped at it with
an orange-bloodied hand. Beside him, Faith calmly cleaned her sword blade
on the dead Villsk's black robe. She wasn't
"Damn girl! You got serious game." He puffed, grimacing as he skimmed
along his ribcage to feel the tender muscles. Another bruise and he
sighed. "Now I know exactly what a Slayer can do."
"That? Cake." Faith
answered, standing and surveying the damage to the apartment. "You
should try 'gators. Evil bastards. Steve makes
it look easy, but it's not."
"What?" Gunn's brow furrowed and she shrugged.
what are we supposed to do now?" Faith shoved her hands in her pockets,
rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet. She looked uncomfortable
now that there wasn't killing to be done, not that Charles could blame
her. He didn't really know her all that well.
"Dispose of the carcass. The basement of this place has an incinerator, I
think." Together, they carried the dead Villsk
down to the incinerator; Gunn wrinkled his nose as the dead demon's
mottled orange flesh caught fire. "And now we get paid."
"Wait a minute." Faith's voice was abrupt and it stopped Charles in his
tracks. He looked back to see her swing the door the incinerator open and
reach her hand into the flames. When she brought it back out again, she
was holding something in her hand.
"Dunno. It was around his neck." Faith studied
it curiously and then handed it to Gunn. He took it and studied it too,
but the flat coin wasn't anywhere near familiar.
"Looks talisman-y to me. I bet
Wes'll know what it is."
"Wesley sure knows a lot, doesn't he?"
Gunn's attention snapped back to the Slayer and he caught the smile
quirking the corners of her lips and the faraway look in her eyes before
she wiped her expression away. Alarms went off in his head as he smiled
and handed the coin back to her. She promptly pocketed it as he answered,
"He's the brains of the operation. Leader-type."
"You're all one big family, I guess. Everyone's got a part to
play." Gunn had a feeling she'd meant the remark to be sarcastic, but it
came out wistful.
"Well, I'm the muscle, Anne's our mother, Lorne's the
mojo, and Fred is...Fred is Fred." She smiled at that and then
"Where's the heart?"
"The heart of the group. There's always a heart
in the movies." Faith stared at him and he chewed on his lip.
"The heart left us a long time ago." He said quietly and watched her frown
deepen. Turning on his heel, he walked up the stairs, leaving her staring
after him. "But we might get her back someday."
Setting---Wolfram & Hart, same day
Lilah half-jumped as her intercom buzzed.
Bending forward, she hit the button.
"Mr. Morris on line three for you." Fuck,
Lilah thought, her stomach flip-flopping.
"Put him through."
Lilah lifted the receiver and spoke, hoping
her nervousness wouldn't show through. "Lilah
"Ms. Morgan, I'm looking at a report on my desk." Leonard Morris's voice
was clipped and business-like.
"Are you sir?" Lilah asked, wondering where
this was going.
"Yes I am. And do you know what that report says?"
"Oh, it's very interesting. It says, and I quote, that , "Angelus and
Cordelia Chase, having already attained a copy
of the prophecy mentioned in the Nyazian
Scrolls, are now seeking to bring the prophecy to fruition. Wolfram & Hart
psychics say they have deciphered the cause of the Cataclysm, but cannot
themselves. Angelus and Chase have not deciphered the rest of the prophecy
or its calculations. A translation of our own is needed as soon as
Morris paused in his narration and made a cluck-cluck sound over the
phone. "So, Ms. Morgan, do we have that translation?"
"No we don't, sir."
"Why is that?"
"Wyndham-Pryce has not contacted me in regards to it."
"Contact him and up the price if he speeds up the work. And Ms. Morgan, I
want something done about Angelus. Your mistake on their part should have
already been corrected. Do what you have to do to throw them off the
trail, but do not harm Angelus. Remember the policy."
"As if I could forget." It's been a pain in my ass from day one.
Lilah silently added. "I'll take care of them,
sir. And I'll contact Wyndham-Pryce as soon as possible in regards to the
"Good. Do not disappoint me, Ms. Morgan." Leonard Morris said, and she had
a feeling disappointing him was out of the question. He confirmed it with
his next statement. "Or I'll have you killed."
"Of course, sir."
"Goodbye." He hung up, leaving her with dead air. On a sigh,
Lilah replaced the receiver and rubbed her
temples with her fingertips.
"This isn't good."
Setting---Under the Beverly
Center, same day
"This isn't good." Wesley murmured, his nose
wrinkled at the smells surrounding him.
"Well it's not the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, that's for sure." Lorne
echoed, looking a little greener than usual around the edges. Wesley
couldn't blame him.
The Oshet Mar was flayed open on the floor,
rotting skin covered in blood that resembled...well...shit. It was foul
and sharp in the air. Wesley fought the urge to throw up.
Whatever had done this had enjoyed it. It was a purposeful slay, not
random, as there would have been signs of a fight. But maybe not, Wesley
thought, Oshet Mar's were harmless, but
unpleasant demons. Fighting wasn't their style. Whatever the case though,
his source was dead and he was once again at odds.
The night before he'd translated a small part of the scroll. He wasn't
sure what it meant and his hesitation to interpret it was marred by
previous experiences. Whatever the case, he wanted an accurate source to
validate him. Not to mention the fact that the Oshet
Mar was psychic and could pick up on waves of energy leading to a specific
event. If something big was going to happen, then the demon would know.
This particular Oshet Mar,
Nashtel, had once picked up on a wave and
contacted Lorne. That event had led Lorne back into Wesley's path and the
reformation of Angel Investigations, promptly renamed Connor
But that was another story altogether.
He looked down at Nashtel and sighed, careful
not to breathe in too deeply. "If someone else knew about his psychic link
to the world, then he was probably killed for a reason." He said out loud,
turning towards Lorne.
"What do you think?"
"I think there's something in the air and it's familiar." Lorne said,
using whatever power it was he possessed to watch the ebb and flow of
mystical energy in the air. Wesley watched his face darken.
Wesley knew without being told who was behind it. If
Nashtel had known anything at all, Angelus and
Cordelia knew it too. And that meant they were one step ahead.