Your Enemies Closer




Chapter Sixteen:

Setting---Outside the
Hyperion Hotel

Wesley saw Faith disappear around the corner and he quickened his pace, his burned fingers throbbing and that hollow feeling in his chest spreading. He didn't have the energy to run after her, but he needed to and Wesley always did what was needed.

"Faith!" He shouted as he rounded the corner, out of breath and sweating. She was half a block ahead of him and to his shock, she stopped dead in her tracks. She turned around slowly, not even out of breath, her face pale in the lights of the Chinese restaurant at her back. "Why are you running?"

He approached her like she was a wild dog, holding out a hand. She looked at it and took a skittish step backward.


"Leave me alone, Wesley." Her voice was warning.

"It was the Hunters, wasn't it? That's why you ran."


That night you came, Angelus and Cordelia attacked the Hunters, didn't they? You ran..."

"No! I didn't!" She shook her head violently and took a step back. Wesley swallowed hard and prayed she wouldn't run; he knew he didn't have the strength to catch up with her this time.

"Faith, it's okay. I understand. You were scared and you ran. Angelus and Cordelia hurt you before and you were scared. I would have been too. It's okay...I understand." He soothed, reaching out to touch her arm. She jerked away from his hand again and backed up against a Dumpster, her chin trembling.

"How could you understand? The things I did to those people. I just left them all because I---I panicked. It was an accident! That look in her was just like before..." Her voice trailed off and Wesley stared at her.

"What are you talking about Faith?"

"I killed her." Her voice was haunted, unstable.

"Who?" Wesley insisted, reaching out to touch her. Faith's eyes rose to meet his.

"Justine." Faith said, as if she were trying to convince herself of the truth of it. Her eyes cast downward suddenly, staring at her hands as if she expected blood to be there.

Wesley's heart dropped once more. "Oh God...Faith..." She didn't move away from him as he gathered her up in his arms, her face crushed to his shirt. His hand smoothed over her hair and he felt her shoulders shaking against him. "It's okay Faith."

"It's not okay." She pulled her head up and looked him in the eyes, black trails of mascara around her eyes. "All those people, Wes..."

Wesley got quiet as he studied her face, pushing a strand of hair off her forehead, his fingers lingering on the cut and the red welt marring her complexion. When he spoke, it was barely a whisper. "I once told you that I thought in my heart, that you weren't a bad person. You remember that?" She shook her head and he went on. "That feeling never changed, even after what you did to me. I knew you were confused and blinded by what happened. You were dragged down into darkness because no one cared enough to see it."

"Buffy cared." Faith swallowed and a shadow flitted across her face. "And you, I suppose."

"I did, in my own way. But I was more focused on the importance of my job than the actual handling of it. I think I proved that." A ghost of a smile crossed his lips and then he went serious again. "About two years ago, I was in a bad place. Emotionally and physically. I had no one and nothing to stop me from being the very thing I never wanted to be. And I almost did it because I had nothing in this world. And then, Lorne contacted me and I was drawn back into the family. My family, Faith. They're the most important thing in my life because they saved

"What are you trying to say?"

"Let me help you. You don't have to be alone anymore. The hurt and guilt doesn't have to consume you this time. What you did to Justine was an accident."

"But the Hunters...I could have helped them."

"Maybe. But you know as well as I that those people choose to fight monsters like Angelus and Cordelia. They knew what they were doing. Whether or not you would have made a difference or gotten seriously killed is something we'll never know. But you can't feel guilty over it or you'll be trapped by it. You have to deal and move on."

"I don't know if I was so hard the first time. I don't know if I can do it a second time." A tear rolled down her cheek and he tenderly brushed it away with his thumb.

"I know you can. I believe in you."

"You shouldn't. I'll only let you down."

"I refuse to let you. I'll torture you if you do!" He actually got a smile out of her and he wiped a fleck of dirt off her cheek.

Her eyes lingered on the scar across his neck, the shadow coming back over her face like a black cloud. "I hated her, but I didn't want her dead."

"I know that feeling Faith. Believe me..."

"I do believe you, Wes." She leaned her head against his shoulder again; he trembled in place at her warmth against his body. "Do you think they'll forgive me?"

"The others? Yes. They know what forgiveness means, trust me. All of us have done something we're not proud of."

I don't want them to hate me. I like them."

"They like you too. We all do." He caught her eye again as she leaned away from him and he was suddenly aware of the fact that he was still holding her against his body. He swallowed hard as his eyes trailed down her face to her full, soft lips. Lorne's words echoed in his head and he spoke, his eyes softening. "Come back with me, please. I'll protect you."

Her laugh was short-lived as she saw the openness in his expression. He knew she could see other things in there if she looked hard enough. Apparently, she did as she smiled and looked down, licking her lips. She closed her hand over his wrist and turned the burned fingers up to the light. "Your hand is burnt." Faith said, glancing at the scorched digits. He shrugged as he saw the frown on her lips.

"It happens."

"How's the gut wound?" Her hand trailed down is arm and stopped above his waist, where the bandages were still covering the stapled wound. He was surprised she remembered, when he'd almost forgotten it himself. That night seemed like it had happened years ago. In truth, it had only been a couple of weeks.

"Fine. The neck wound?" The feel of her hands on his stomach was searing.

"Peachy. Not even a scar...." Her voice trailed off and she looked back up at him.

"You know Faith, we shouldn't be out here, in case---" Whatever he was going to say was lost as she kissed him. For a moment, he was too shocked to even move. Then he remembered that Faith wasn't the waiting type. She took what she wanted and that was that. Not that he minded, he thought as he finally got his lips moving, kissing her back as hungrily as she was doing to him. His heart soared and he clutched her to him.

No, he didn't mind at all.


Setting---Outside the Hyperion Hotel, two blocks down

Angelus glanced at Cordelia's watch for the third time in two minutes, pacing back and forth, his expensive Italian shoes crunching on the gravel. Cordelia leaned boredly against the Mercedes, her head thrown back, her eyes squinting to see the stars.

"Is it time yet?" She asked, not bothering to look down at her wrist.

"No." Angelus said, irritated. She looked down at him and smiled.

"Now who's tense?"

"I'm not tense. I'm...excited and agitated."

"Why is that?"

"You saw that thing Wesley had in there. Who knows what else he's got! I mean, when did he become so magickally-inclined?"

"You're whining! Stop that!" Cordelia grumbled, looking at her long nails. "Besides, they don't have any defenses against our little nightmare demon. There isn't going to be any problem."

"I wish I could be so sure. Why are you all cool and calm?" He turned a suspicious eye on her and she looked up from her cuticle inspection.

"No reason. I'm just feeling confident that's all. Wesley has that translation in there and we'll get it. We take out his most important employee and he'll give us anything we want."

Angelus sighed rather uselessly and sat down on the hood of the car, chewing on his lower lip. A minute went by and then his voice cut through the silence.

"Is it time yet?"


Setting---The Hyperion Hotel

"Do you think he caught her?" Anne asked, looking up from her work of bandaging Gunn's knee. He smiled grimly down at her and answered.

"The way she was running, probably not."

" you think she had anything to do with the Hunters being turned?"

"The way she was running? Probably."

"But you don't think she...deliberately did it or anything...right?"

"I don't know. Maybe she thinks she did. Whatever happened, she feels hella guilty over something. But, I trust Wes to bring her back and straighten things out. Those two have an understanding."

"Those two....well..."

"Well what?"

Anne flushed and finished taping a bandage to his knee. "Those two are, well... they're cute together."

"Cute? Please tell me you didn't just revert to junior high talk."

"Sorry...I just, I think Wesley needs--"

"To get laid." Lorne supplied from the top of the stairs, and Gunn swiveled to look him. He heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of Fred, unhurt and alert, on his arm. Lorne walked her carefully down the steps, steering her over to the couch cushion next to Anne.

"I was going to say a girlfriend, actually." Anne clipped, motioning for Lorne to take a seat in front of her. He did so and she pulled out a new bandage, going to work on him immediately.

"That works too."

"How are you, Fred?" Anne asked the girl next to her, who was curled up in a ball on the couch, her fingers tracing the grain of the fabric covering the cushion.

"Mm'fine." She answered and went back to humming a nameless tune. Gunn smiled down at her and then paced across the floor.

"You know....maybe I should go after them. More of Angelus's lackeys might have been outside waiting on them."

"Want me to go with?" Lorne asked, looking over at Gunn. He shook his head and walked toward the door.

"No, you stay here with the ladies. I'll be right back, hopefully with one Wesley and his Slayer. Wish me luck."

"Luck!" Fred called after him as he closed the door behind him. As soon as the door was shut, he got an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Shaking his head, Gunn ignored it and headed for his truck.

Almost nervously, he looked around for more vampires and when he didn't see them, he revved his truck engine and took off down the street. He mentally tried to calculate how far a Slayer could run and wondered if Wesley could even keep up. He was betting they were at least six blocks away, if not more by now.

Gunn was still calculating distance times speed (courtesy of too much time with Fred) when he spotted them only a block and half away, standing near the Dumpsters outside Ming Tea. They looked like they were heavy in conversation, Wesley's arms wrapped around her like he was stopping her from running away. Gunn pulled up alongside them and started to get out. He stopped in mid-motion as their lips met.

Charles looked away, not sure whether or not to move and interrupt them or to get back into the truck and leave them alone. Another motorist solved his problem, yelling out of his window, "Get a room!"

The two broke apart immediately and Gunn saw Faith flip the driver off. He chuckled and walked forward.

"Umm...hey..." Gunn greeted them and Wesley turned, smiling sheepishly at him, like he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "We were worried."

"Oh...w-we were fine." Wesley stuttered, running a nervous hand through his gray-streaked hair. Faith, however, just grinned at him and laced her fingers through Wesley's. Gunn didn't miss the gesture and he had a feeling he was meant to see it. Wesley flushed again, but held on.

"I can see that, bro. Want a ride back?" Gunn gestured toward the truck and Wesley nodded, pulling Faith along with him.
She resisted immediately and looked Gunn square in the face.

"There's something I need to tell you."

The look on her face stopped him dead in his tracks and made his blood ran cold.


Setting--Outside the Hyperion Hotel, two blocks down

"Is it time yet?

Cordelia glanced at her watch and her eyes widened. "Yep!"

Let's go!" Angelus grinned and slid off the hood of the Mercedes and hopped inside.

"Let's pray your nightmare demon does what he's being paid to do." Cordelia commented, sliding elegantly into the passenger's seat.

"Here's hoping to hell."


Setting---The Hyperion Hotel

Sleep tugged on the corner of her mind and the demon crept along shadows to be by her side when she went. The target was small, frail and mousy. Her lips hummed a tune he didn't know or care to know. She looked delicious and insane and that made his job easier. For a moment there, he'd been worried, the shadows in the room having been sucked away as someone released a Sol demon. But he'd fled upstairs, finding his target and following her, waiting until the designated time to strike.

And now, one small prick and she'd be worth thousands. All he had to do was wait for her to fall into the slumber he was pulling over her. Beside the girl, shifting from shadows to reality and back again, there was a demon and a pregnant human female, talking and nearly oblivious of his presence in the shadows.

Although, he had a feeling the demon was uneasy as he kept glancing over at the target, the hard lines of his face softening whenever his gaze landed on her. He had the sudden urge to take the demon out at the same time, just to make them a neat pair.

Of course, he wasn't being paid for that and it would come out of his own pocket, so it wasn't more than a passing thought. He turned his attention back on the girl and saw her chest heaving shallowly. His sleep-spell had worked and was payday.

He slipped out of the shadows, materializing just as the demon beside the girl sensed him. Too late, the Seer's arm was already in his mouth and the fangs were already inserted, pumping his poison into her system and making her whimper as he did so.

"Rattlesnake teeth..." She moaned and then screamed as the world erupted in a floodgate of visions.

He pulled his fangs back out and dematerialized, just as the demon reached for him. His corporeal self was sucked back into the nearest shadow and he watched in fascination as his employers walked through the door like they owned the place.

"Fred!" The demon screamed as the girl thrashed on the ground, screaming like she was dying. Which she probably was, the demon rationalized.

"What's the matter, Fred? Don't like the marathon visions? I didn't either." Cordelia said, bending low over the thrashing girl and spitting on her. "That's what happens when you take my gift..."

"You fucking bitch!" The demon leapt at her and was rewarded with a hard smack across his cheek that sent him flying.

"Now, where's Wesley?" Angelus asked, holding pregnant female around the neck. The demon wondered if he would snap her neck or do something else equally horrific and brutal.

"He's not here."

"Not here?"

"No...he's...he left." The female sputtered, clutching her stomach in fear, her pale blue eyes wide. "Please don't hurt me..."

"I wouldn't hurt you! What makes you think that?"

"Years of experience?" The green demon quipped, getting up from his sprawl on the floor.

"Shut up, Lorne." Cordelia snapped, kicking him again. The demon moaned and slumped against the wall, rivers of pain shooting up and down his spine.

"Wesley's not here? Well that ruins our hostage situation plan...shit. I was kinda liking that one too. Now we'll just have to settle with taking the translations and leaving you all dead!"

"What did you want?" Lorne asked, his nose bleeding and his lip cut.

"Earlier? Oh that was just a diversion. Guerilla tactics, hit them from the front and then sneak something in from the sides. You'd think Wesley would know better. But no..." Angelus answered, whispering the last two words in Anne's ear. He licked her neck and then called out to Cordelia, who was sizing up Lorne again. "Go get the translations."

Cordelia kicked the injured demon in the face and then disappeared into the office for several minutes. When she re-emerged, she had a huge, awed smile on her face.

"What's up, kitten?"

"Screw the translations. I've found something much, much better." Cordelia said, holding up a huge, glowing obsidian stone. It bathed her feline features in an eerie glow, an evil, bone-chilling smile lighting her face. "I know how to end the world."

Chapter 17