Your Enemies Closer

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Chapter Thirteen:

Setting---The Hyperion Hotel, next day

Faith ducked a blow and spun out a leg, connecting solidly with Gunn's wrist. Before she could lower her leg, he grabbed her boot heel, flipping her around. She landed cat-like on the ground, wild hair flung into her face, muscled arms shining with sweat. Gunn was out of breath and sweating far heavier than she was, the white wifebeater stretched tight across his chest damp down the middle.

"Whoa...Slayer! Break time for the human." Gunn collapsed to his knees and gulped in a lungful of air.

"Come on, I'm just getting warmed up!" Faith fought a grin and stood, stretching her muscles one at a time. Gunn chuckled and mopped his glistening forehead with one weary hand.

"How about you take your aggression out on Lorne next?"

"Mojo guy? He doesn't look like much of a fighter to me."

"You'd be surprised. He could kick my ass if he wanted to. He's a make-love-not-war kinda guy, but if you piss him off enough..." Gunn smiled and poured half a bottle of water over his head, blinking away drops of water from his vision.

"You talking about me?"

Faith swiveled and saw Lorne and Fred coming down the stairs. Fred clung to his side, big eyes wide and face tilted to the floor. When she saw Faith, she smiled tentatively and waved a thin hand. Faith half-waved back at the Seer in greeting, not really sure how to respond. The girl made her uneasy to the extreme, but she kinda liked her, in a one crazy girl to another way.

"Yeah, man. You wanna spar with a Slayer?" Gunn said, standing wearily, wincing as he moved.

Lorne eyed Faith up and down and then shrugged. "Sure. If you'll go easy on me. I'm still not quite used to the one-eyed fighting style. I kind of have a blind side."

"That's the exact reason not to go easy, Lorne. Any attacker will use that weakness and exploit it. You must learn to overcome your handicap if you want to succeed." Wesley spoke up from the door of his office.

Faith turned once more to face him, pushing her hair out of her face with one hand. He was wearing the exact same thing he'd worn last night and was looking for all the world like he hadn't slept in a week, even though Faith knew he'd passed out at three-thirty that morning at his desk; she'd checked on him.

"He emerges! What happened? You decide sunlight is a must or something?" Gunn smiled and grabbed up a towel, slinging it around his sweaty shoulders.

Wesley ignored him and walked over to the little fridge behind the lobby desk, pulling out a water bottle and a ham sandwich he had a feeling was Anne's doing. He unwrapped it and took a bite like was he forcing himself every step of the way.

"How's the training going?" Wes asked, sitting down at a stool behind the counter, eyeing Lorne as he got ready to spar with Faith. Fred came and sat down beside him on the floor, just underneath the counter, her hand sneaking upwards to grab the other half of his sandwich out of his hand. Wesley flashed her a smile and turned his attention back to the others.

"Going good so far. Fighting against a Slayer is....well it's kinda scary. No offense Faith." Faith just nodded in ascent and waited for Lorne to come to the center of the lobby.

"Should I bow, jailbird??" Lorne asked in his usual manner, smile lighting up his face.

"Not unless we're at a cotillion." Faith shot back, hands crossed over her chest and her head tilted at an amused angle.

"Ha ha." Lorne said, taking a defensive posture. Faith just stood there, watching him for so long Lorne decided to make the first move. He dove, going for her right hand side. Faith saw the move and sidestepped him, swinging her fist backward. She pulled the blow at the last second so that her fist only lightly tapped the back of his head. Still, Lorne grunted and spun again, going low and footsweeping her.

She jumped the shot and flipped in midair, coming down hard on her knees and rolling as Lorne swiped at her with his leg again. The demon followed her every move, making her jump and dive to avoid the blows that would have connected had she been something less than Slayer-ish. Truth was, she was going easy on him, seeing the weaknesses with a fierce eye and choosing not to exploit them. It wasn't really fair.


Wesley's voice rang out, making her jump and tearing her attention away from Lorne's fist. The demon clocked her, sending her reeling backward against the counter.

"Oh...sorry about that!" Lorne said immediately, rushing over to her. Anger welled in her chest for a moment and then she smiled and shook her head.

"No prob. I was distracted." She turned pointedly around to glare at Wesley. "What was that about?"

"You know what." Wesley snapped back at her and she shrugged. "You were going easy on him. When I told you not to."

"So what?
It's just sparring." Faith snapped defensively.

"Yes, but in our line of work we have to one hundred percent all the time and you going easy on Lorne isn't going to teach him anything now is it? Do it right this time. No going easy." Wesley's voice was harsh and cold, making her shake with anger. Who the hell did he think he was?

"Fine. Boss." Faith ground out, turning her back on him and facing Lorne once more.

He attacked again and this time she threw herself into the fight, lunging and diving and taking chances even she wouldn't normally take. Lorne scored twice on her before she knew what was happening. Usually she liked rage and it fueled her, made her stronger and faster, but now it just made her self-conscious. Having him watching her was throwing her off her game and she knew it. She had a feeling he knew it too.

"Stop." Faith stopped immediately, fists clenched at her sides, chest heaving. Wesley walked up behind her and put his arms on hers. She jumped slightly at the contact of his hands on her sweaty forearms. "You're doing it all wrong."

She swallowed hard at his voice in her ear, his chest pressed firmly against her back. "Am I?"

"Yes." Wesley whispered and then lifted his face toward Lorne. "Lorne, attack her using your right fist, and be ready to block with your left. Slow speed."

Lorne nodded and waited.

"And this...." Wesley said softly in her ear, stubbled cheek rubbing against her smooth one as he moved her with his weight in a counter position that brought her hands in a blocking pattern. "Got it?"

"Yeah...I think so." Faith said breathlessly, licking her lips as he took a step back, his hands leaving hers.

"Okay...Lorne?" Immediately Lorne moved in with his right; Faith blocked it and swung in with her left. Lorne blocked the blow and their hands were tangled in the middle. "Stop!"

The two combatants stopped immediately and stepped away from each other. Wesley moved in once again and stood beside Faith. "What now?"

Wesley eyed her and then stepped up beside Lorne and whispered something in his ear. Lorne smiled like a Cheshire Cat and Wesley walked away. "Okay, do that move again, just like I showed you. Real speed."

Lorne moved in with his right, she blocked and swung in with her right. He blocked and before she could untangle herself from him, the demon kicked her in the stomach. She doubled over and stumbled backward. While she was recovering, Lorne swooped in again and kicked her knees, sending her crashing to the floor.

Immediately she flipped to her feet again and moved to attack, but Wesley stepped calmly in her way.

"What the hell was that?" Faith growled, glaring at Lorne just beyond Wesley.

"Don't get pissed at him, I told him to." Wesley said, staring down at her.

"I thought we were just sparring."

"You are, but it's also training. Lorne knows a new move now. Would you like to learn the counter?" Wesley eyebrow arched and Faith just glared at him. Then she sighed and answered him, interested despite her anger.

"Yeah." Wesley smiled and moved up behind her, positioning her in the move with quick hands. He corrected her stance once and then motioned Lorne forward to join her. Lorne kicked out at her in the same move, only slowly this time and Wesley showed Faith slowly how to counter by moving her knee to block and then to jump into a high kick that would move her attacker away for a moment so she could regroup.

Then they did the move in double speed several times until Wesley was satisfied they both had it down. "Good. Both of you." Wesley commented, staring right at Faith as he spoke. "Keep going and don't hold anything back."

And just like that, he turned on his heel and walked back into his office, closing the door behind him. Faith stared after him, the ghost of his hands still on her skin.

"And that, my friends, is why he's the boss." Gunn commented, grinning at the closed door. Faith couldn't help but smile.


Wesley collapsed against the inside of the door, his head throbbing and his heart beating rapidly in his chest. The room spun and the gray world started to seep in on him. Violently, he shook his head and sat down behind his desk.

Even that little bit of physical exercise had been almost too much. Or was it something else? The slide of smooth skin against his and the sweet smell of sweat and vanilla mingling in his nose haunted him. He knew she was beyond that door and he could probably see her if he moved a foot to the right and looked out the big office window.

Calmly, Wesley placed his hands on the desk and tried to stare at the scrolls in front of him. It worked for a second and then he was moving before he knew it, the chair rolling to the right a foot and rewarding him with a clear view of the lobby and the fight going on there.

She moved with a grace he still admired and remembered from years past, wild brown hair unbound and swinging around her face as she kicked a long powerful leg out at the green demon. He silently cheered her as the blow sent Lorne stumbling backward over the low couch. Then Lorne got back up and they went again, circling and scoring on each other every now and then.

Faith was still holding back, but it was only her true power this time. She went for the dirty blows, but didn't let them hit as hard as she could have. Wesley smiled and then it faded as Lorne kicked her full in the face with his boot. Faith reeled and he saw her face darken. A sliver of fear threaded its way up his spine as he watched her; she wiped at her nose, seeing a small trickle of blood there.

He couldn't hear it, but he knew Lorne was apologizing profusely, grabbing a Kleenex box and thrusting it at her. If there was one thing Lorne hated, it was a bloody nose. Faith stared at the demon for a moment and Wesley wondered when she was going to go for the jugular and if Gunn was fast enough to get across the room in time to save the demon from her rage.

And then, she smiled and pulled a Kleenex from the box with a shrug. Lorne smiled back at her and steered her over to the couch like a gentlemen. She sprawled on it in her usual carefree manner and dabbed at the tiny trickle once before throwing the tissue down and taking a drink of water. Gunn moved up beside her and they started talking.

Wesley's shoulders relaxed; he hadn't even realized he'd tensed them up until now. What had he expected? Rage, blood and someone dying bloody, truth be told.

"She really has changed." Wesley murmured and wished he was out there in the lobby talking about whatever the hell they were talking about. That would all have to wait. Time to get back to work and to get his mind off of things he didn't really want to think about right now.

With a sour grimace, he rolled back behind the desk and picked up his pencil.


Setting---Wolfram & Hart, same day

Lilah Morgan was worried.

She was about to have a meeting that she KNEW wasn't going to go well at all. So she took precautions, and still, she was worried.

Now here she was, pacing back and forth across her office floor, expensive Italian heels clacking on the polished marble floor. Suddenly, the intercom buzzed and she rushed forward, hitting the button immediately.

"Your six o'clock is here, Ms. Morgan."

"Send them in." Lilah said through gritted teeth. She quickly took a seat behind her desk and squared her shoulders. A second later, the door swung open and she had to remind herself of the precautions.

"Angelus, Cordelia."

Angelus drawled, circling her desk and sitting just behind her as he was so fond of doing. Cordelia settled herself in her usual chair and glared at her.

"What have you found out?" She went straight to the point, not feeling the need to fill time with idle chit-chat. Cordelia's eyebrows rose.

"Wouldn't you like to know? Or should I say, wouldn't Morris like to know?"

"Not to put too fine a point on it, yes. We're all very interested in what you've found out about this prophecy. So....?"

"So, it's like this, Lilah. We're not telling you and your little company shit. But you're going to tell us the things we need to know." Angelus's hands snaked up over her shoulders and she shivered.

Lilah gulped and tried to remain calm. She glanced at the clock on the wall. Too soon; time to stave. "Like what?"

"Like what the scrolls say about the world ending, for one. We took documents, but they've just been a pain in the ass. We can't translate them." Cordelia said, tapping her nails on the arm of the chair.

"Really?" Lilah breathed.

"Yeah...but I'm sure you knew that. Didn't you?" Cordelia countered.


"So, what we need is a translation."

"For what?"

For the who and the when and where."

"What about the what?" Lilah swallowed hard and glanced at the clock again. Not yet.


"The what. What about the what?"


"Yes, the what! What about it?"


Angelus interrupted with a growl. "Enough of the Abbott and Costello crap! She wants to know if we've figured out what's going to happen to end the world."

"Oh! Well, what else do you think we've been doing all this time?" Cordelia scoffed, hazel eyes wide.

"Turning the Hunter's into an undead army of minions, or so I'm told."

"What can we say? Pit stops are fun." Angelus's fingers dug in slightly. "And besides, after the Slayer killed their leader, they were just sitting ducks. I can't resist a sitting duck. You should know that."

"Faith killed Justine?" Lilah's eyebrow arched. Interesting...

"I guess so. Who knows?" Angelus shrugged and backed away. "Who really cares? I've got bigger fish to fry."

Not yet, she prayed silently. "Ending the does it happen?"

"I told you I wasn't telling you shit, Morgan" Cordelia supplied flippantly. "But I will tell you that our shit demon saw it being stopped."

"And no one wants that." Angelus said, cracking his knuckles.

"Stopped? Really? By whom?" This was blessedly new to Lilah.

"Didn't say, but we don't really need to know that. As long as we find out where and when, then we can stop them from stopping it. Got me? So what do you say, lawyer-lady, wanna give us that translation?"

"I don't have it." Lilah answered, swallowing again and looking at Angelus from the corner of her eye. His eyes darkened, the smug smile sliding off his face.

"And why is that?" Cordelia ground out, her eyes flashing.

"The firm they..."

"I don't give a flying FUCK what the firm did. I WANT THAT TRANSLATION!" Cordelia screamed, standing, the fingertips she pressed to the desk glowing, searing the wood slightly. The outburst was so sudden, even Angelus drew back.

"Company policy states that we will not negotiate with demons. Especially when they use terrorist tactics on their valued employees." She glanced at the clock and nearly smiled. Right on time, she hoped.

"Lilah..." Angelus growled, turning on her. His vampiric face slipped on easily as he glared at her.

"No dice, asshole. I never go against company policy. Bad for my karma." Lilah smiled then, hoping it would egg one of them on.

"Then we're going to have a dead bitch on our hands. I'm through with idle threats. The world is ending and that's fucking final! Got me, Lilah?" The glow continued, reaching out to touch Lilah.

As soon as the glow hit skin, there was a quake and a flash almost as bright as the demoness and then Cordelia went flying, smacking into the wall and sliding down. Her power faded, the air charged, the smell of smoke sharp in the air.

"I'm sorry, but demon violence isn't allowed in the Wolfram & Hart building." Lilah smiled and looked at the clock. Just in time. Thank the Furies!

"You fucking bitch!" Cordelia growled through gritted teeth. The door opened beside her, two large guards strolling in, stakes in hand.

"You and your demon bitch are done here, Angelus. My company doesn't want to see you around anymore. Any attempt to enter the building will result in Cordelia's immediate death. Unfortunately, you're still on the safe list, but I wouldn't tempt me."

Angelus growled at her and moved toward Cordelia.

"You're pressing your luck, Morgan."

"Just doing my job." Lilah shot back at him. "Take them out of here boys."

A stake and a sword were pressed to the backs of the demon and the vampire. Angelus glared back over his shoulder at the lawyer, sitting smugly in her chair. She waved at him and then caught Cordelia's eye.

"You're fucking dead, Morgan." Cordelia said in a low voice, the sword pressing into her back.

"Not for a long time, Cordelia Chase. And I doubt the world ending is going to make it happen." Lilah shot back before the door was closed on the demon's face.

Chapter 14