Your Enemies Closer

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Chapter Twelve:

Setting---The Hyperion Hotel, same night

"Ribs!" Gunn announced as he walked into the lobby, a big paper bag in his hand.

Anne squealed and rushed forward, nearly ripping the bag out of his hands. "And the ice cream? And the Christmas jimmies?"

"Yes, of course honey...although why you had to have Christmas jimmies when we had regular jimmies here..."

"There's a difference! Believe me!"

"In what? Color?"


"They don't have a taste! They're sprinkles!"

Faith found herself smiling as she watched the two argue back and forth---lovingly. Their tones were amused, not malicious and that was refreshing. Back in prison, no one was ever nice to you for no reason. And the rest of her life had pretty much been the same as that. Sarcasm without kindness. Hand in hand. Something new was refreshing and she basked in it, curled up in a ball on the red couch.

Still, she waited for the ax to fall and someone to go too far and say something that would ruin the good vibe.

"You wouldn't understand, Charles. You're not eight months pregnant and craving strange foods." Anne's lip poked out charmingly.

"Good thing...cuz I'd look pretty funny with a Buddha belly, huh?" He flashed a grin at her and she giggled, leaning in for a kiss. Faith felt a pang. No fighting, no break in the mood. Normality that wasn't normal to her.

"Jesus Murphy, break it up you two!" Faith turned toward the new person in the room and wrinkled her nose. She didn't dislike the demon--he just made her uncomfortable. He knew too much for his own good and yet he was still a good guy and the only stand-up man among them, according to Anne. When everyone had abandoned Fred, it was Lorne who had stayed and played Champion to the Seer. It made her look with new respect at the anagogic demon. He was a lover and not a fighter, yet he'd taken up the role.

Why? Love, she supposed, remembering the look on his face whenever he was with Fred. A warm fuzzy feeling settled in her stomach and she grimaced. She hated warm fuzzy feelings but....maybe just this once...

Her eyes caught on Wesley, close on the demon's heels. His face was dark, eyes shadowed, jaw set. Something was disturbing him.

"How did it go?" Anne asked, walking the precious bag of ribs over to the counter. Wesley stepped past her without saying a word, the door to his office nearly slamming shut behind him.

"What crawled up his ass and died?" Gunn asked, looking back at Lorne, eyebrows raised.

"That was kinda ironic, Charles." Lorne said without a smile. Quickly he told them what happened. Gunn whistled.

"So we're going to have to deal with scroll-obsessed Wesley until this is all over? I swear...I really hate those two."

"You and the rest of the world right now, Gunn. He killed Nashtel...he wasn't a bad guy. A little big into the septic tank life, but otherwise a good guy." Lorne frowned and then turned his attention to the wide stairway. "How's Fred?"

"Hungry, but she doesn't want to come down. She says the rattlesnakes are biting her toes and she doesn't want to drink paper out of a fish tank, thank you very much." Anne replied; Lorne actually smiled and Faith shook her head. It was obvious that whatever the Seer had said, it meant she was fine.

As the three of them talked, Faith suddenly wondered where Wesley was. He should have been back already. Worry gnawed in her gut.

"And how are you, my little jailbird?" The demon asked, turning on Faith and snapping her out of her thoughts. He sat down next to her uninvited.

Deer caught in headlights, Faith sat up and mumbled a reply. "Five by five." Lorne eyed her up and down and then smiled.

"He'll be okay, he's just worried." Her eyes narrowed. "You're leaking around the edges sweetheart." Lorne said softly and she had that distinct feeling he was rooting around in her head again. Her eyes flashed and he withdrew with a smirk.

"I'd appreciate if you stayed out of my aura or whatever."

"Not really an issue. You're good at blocking it, but sometimes you leak things that I can't help but seeing. Like now."

"What was I leaking?"

"A pretty red and blue color." Lorne winked and then stood. Faith watched him walk up the stairs, a food box in his hands and a jaunt in his steps. She wondered what red and blue meant. Purple? She frowned and shrugged. She didn't know auras at all.

"You hungry Faith?" Gunn offered from the counter, pushing a box in her direction. Suddenly ravenous, she jumped up and started in, hanging on the edge of the conversation and sometimes being pulled in by the two of them. Both of them kept smiling at her and asking her questions. She even laughed.

What? Was she bonding with them? Well, she liked them, she knew that. Gunn she respected because he wasn't afraid to speak his mind. And he was nice, without being phony. Anne reminded her of someone she couldn't quite put her finger on. Perhaps a mother; after all, Gunn had called her that. She certainly did take care of everyone like she had given birth to each and every one of them and wasn't just expecting for the first time. And despite being only slightly older than Faith, she had that air about her like she'd seen a lot in her life, maybe more than Faith ever had. It was obvious though, that she'd come out of it unscathed and happy.

So, yeah. She liked them. A lot.

That was why she felt so bad for lying to them. They wouldn't like her if they knew what she'd done and Faith had the overwhelming urge to keep the tenuous friendship they'd erected over the past few days intact. Still, guilt gnawed in her gut. She again thought of Wesley.

Faith's attention turned to the closed door of the office. She knew he would be in there, working on that prophecy until he fell asleep, only to wake up in the morning and do the whole day over again. She half-smiled and felt that fuzzy feeling grow, despite her attempts to squash it.

"Faith? Faith?"

Her attention snapped back to Anne and Gunn, who were both looking at her questioningly. "Umm...huh?"

I said, Anne's tired and we're gonna get home. You okay here alone?" Gunn said, eyebrows rising, gesturing slightly at the lobby and the hotel beyond it.

"Yeah." She nodded her head vaguely and smile tight-lipped. "Have a good night." Pleasantries, Faith? Who would have thought?

"See you tomorrow, Slay-buddy." Gunn waved and then helped Anne into her coat. Faith watched as they walked to the door. On the last step, Anne stopped and turned toward Faith.

"Hey, do me a favor and take some food to Wesley. He's not eating enough. And if there's any way you can get him into bed, that would be great."

Faith flushed a moment before she realized exactly what Anne had meant.

"Umm...sure..." She mumbled a reply, wondering when she'd ever blushed before. "See ya."

The door closed behind them, leaving Faith to stare back at the closed office door.



Wesley slammed back a shot of whiskey, grimacing slightly as the liquid burned its way down. He slammed the shot glass back on the table and closed his eyes. Sparks swam across the black on the inside of his eyelids a moment before he forced his tired eyes back open and down to the notepad in front of him.

Thick black letters were jumbled and hurriedly written; completely disorganized to anyone who wasn't him, but he could find anything on the page in a second. The scrolls were spread out in front of him, a source book to the left, another source book to the right and a pen behind his ear for safe keeping. It was his normal workspace, in the exact order that he needed it and hellfires if anyone touched it but him.

He didn't remember the scrolls being so hard to decipher before. Of course, this part of the ancient parchment hadn't been mucked with by a corporeal, time traveling demon. And it was much longer than the part he recalled regarded Connor. A guilty stab went through him and he grabbed the bottle of whiskey, a quick swig rolling over his tongue.

Each sentence of the prophecy affected the other sentence, so much so that any interpretation of one sentence was completely useless when taken in regards to the others. A million different meanings, a million different calculations were possible--and written down in precise order as he discovered them. Of course, he was constantly balling them up when another translation came to light, completely ruining the work beforehand.

Wesley's eyes swam but he refused to give up. It was much more important now that he translate the text as quickly as possible. If Angelus and Cordelia knew anything at all, it was much more than he knew at the moment and that was....well...bad.

As he reached for the pen behind his ear, a knock came on the door. He groaned and called, "What?"

"It's Faith." Her voice was muffled but clear. Wesley let out a breath, wondering what she wanted. She'd been ignoring him since she came here and now, of all times, she wanted to talk? Or maybe tell you she was leaving and going back to whatever it was she was doing with Justine that led her here in the first place!

He rubbed the bridge of his nose frantically, willing his thoughts to stop their circles in his brain. It was making him dizzy. "Come in."

The door opened and the Slayer stepped in, a styrofoam container in her hands. The smell of barbeque was strong and appetizing. "Hey..." Faith offered in hello, fidgeting in place.

"What is it? I'm busy."

"I's just...Anne told me to make sure you ate something. You know what they say, a rib a day'll keep death away!" She offered a lame smile and his eyebrows drew up. "I'm not sure exactly who says that, but it's kinda true."

"Leave the food on the shelf there and I'll eat it later." Wesley answered, gesturing toward the low shelf next to her. She hurriedly did so, but didn't leave. Instead, she looked around the office like she hadn't seen it before in her life, examining the ceiling and the walls, the cracked plaster and the desk. He watched as she pursed her lips and ran her fingers over the books on the shelf, reading the titles and humming slightly.

"Faith? Is there...something you needed?" Wesley interrupted her humming version of a song that sounded vaguely familiar. She looked up at him, as if startled by his presence.

"No...just browsing."

He sighed heavily and put his pencil down on the desk. "No you're not. Sit down."

She followed his gaze to the chair and shrugged before plopping down into it, legs tossed up on his desk, right across his papers. His jaw clenched automatically at the sight and he shot her a look of death. She, of course, ignored him and folded her hands across her lap, waiting for him to say something.

"Did Charles kill the Villsk today?" He asked, picking the first thing that came to his mind.

"No." Off his look, she smiled and went on, "I did. Dead, bang, gone."

"Good, we needed the money. I trust Charles got the check." She nodded and then he eyed her. "What are you doing here Faith?"

The question took her off guard and she sucked in a breath. "I don't know. What am I doing here?"

"I asked you first, love." Her eye twitched and she shrugged again.

"I like your friends, especially Anne." His expression softened at that and he went on.

"Is that the only reason?" Faith was quiet for a moment and then she leaned forward, taking her legs off the desk, much to his delight. She grabbed his whiskey and took a deep drink, keeping her eyes on his as she licked the rim of the bottle. Wesley had to ask again, his voice suddenly tight. "Is that the only reason?"

"I'm still trying to decide that, Wes. Maybe.....maybe I like what you do here."

"I thought you weren't interested in this." Wesley countered, leaning forward to take the bottle from her hands.

"Changed my mind." He desperately wanted to ask her exactly what had made her change that mind, but he kept his mouth shut. All he did was nod and pass the bottle back to her, watching as she took another deep drink.

Neither one spoke for a moment and Wesley felt a blush creeping up his neck. It was suddenly too hot in the office and he wondered if Lorne had messed with the thermostat again.

"Umm....I found something on that Villsk today. Gunn said you'd know what it meant." Faith said suddenly, digging into her jeans pocket and pulling out a large bronze coin.

He took it from her outstretched hands and squinted at it. "You say you got this off the Villsk?"


Well then it makes sense. It's a coin of Auturus, the god the Villsk demons pray to. His symbol protects the wearer from disaster. It's actually a good talisman to have--if you believe in Auturus that is."

"I guess our Villsk didn't much believe cuz he didn't see me coming." Faith smirked and Wesley found the strength to laugh.

"Can I keep it?" She asked, almost like a little girl who'd brought a puppy home with her.

"Sure. It's harmless." Wesley handed it back to her and felt her fingers touch his a second before she pulled away and jammed the coin back into her pockets. He took a steadying breath and started to speak. "Faith I..."

Wesley was suddenly cut off by the phone ringing. He reached for it immediately. "Connor Investigations, Hope's you."

Faith listened as he spoke in rushed tones, turning away from her and covering the mouthpiece with one hand. "You'll get your goddamned translation." Whoever it was, she felt sorry for them because Wesley stopped in midsentence and slammed the phone back down.

He turned back to Faith with a look of hatred spread across his face. "Wes?"

The phone rang again and Wesley calmly took it off the hook, hung it up and put it on the desk in front of him.

"What's going on?" Faith asked him, eyes wide.

"Nothing, just doing business."

"I may be new to the whole business thing, but aren't the customers always right or something? What's up?"

"None of your business." Faith stood immediately, her expression closed. Wesley was immediately sorry for snapping at her.

"Whatever." She snapped back at him and she started to walk away.

"Faith! I..." Wesley called, and she turned around. He struggled to find something to say. "Thanks for the food." Her expression softened for a moment and then she nodded.

"Get some sleep." And like that, she was gone.

As Wesley watched her go, he wondered what the hell had been going through his head there for a moment. He was actually getting along with her for a minute there and it made him distinctly uneasy. He wasn't exactly sure if he was glad Lilah Morgan had interrupted him or not. Whatever the case, his mind was definitely NOT on the scrolls now.

Faith was staying and he was...glad. More than glad, in fact.

Wesley decided he really needed help.


Setting---A warehouse in

"This thing makes no sense!" Cordelia said, throwing her hands up and shoving the papers away from herself. "First off, I don't read whatever the hell this is written in and second of makes no sense!"

Angelus looked up from the big book on his knees and eyed her with amusement. The demoness was surrounded by stacks of papers, a photocopied piece of the scroll in her hands and a harried look on her face. Research was not her forte, but obviously her lot in life. Not even a turn to the dark side let her off the hook.

"I'm not getting anything here either. I say we take a break and check on the recruits." Angelus stood and stretched, looking down into the huge factory from the open office window a floor above them.

Nearly a hundred recruits, fighting hand-to-hand and in full vamp face. Angelus smiled. It was a beautiful scene.

"I think it's time to go back to Wolfram & Hart, Angelus."

"What?" He turned back to his lover and frowned. "You know Lilah is going to give us shit. We're lucky she hasn't done anything with her little commando minions yet."

"True, but I think she knows more than what we do now. Maybe a missing piece of this fucking puzzle. And I'd like to see her translator and pick his brain. Maybe eat it." Cordelia shredded a piece of paper and looked utterly pout-y amidst her failed attempts at scholarly evilness.

"That's not a bad idea, baby. I think you and I are going to have to up the stakes on Lilah. It's about time she did her part in this production."

Cordelia smiled.

Chapter 13