Your Enemies Closer

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Chapter Eleven:

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? 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."

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 fightness. Rough stuff. Killing. 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 them all.

"Lorne and I are going to a source of ours for information."

"You want me to go with you, bro?" Gunn asked, eyes narrowed.

"No...we can do this alone. The source is friendly if not...unpleasant." Wes answered, folding his hands on the desk.

"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.

"Be careful."

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 even sweating.

"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.

"Nevermind. So, 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.

"What's that?"

"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 frowned.

"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 Morgan."

"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?"

"No, sir."

"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 ForeSee it 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 possible."

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 prophecy."

"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."

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 Investigations.

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.

"The prophecy?"

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.


Chapter 12