Setting---Outside Angelus and Cordelia's
mansion, 8:01 p.m.-the next night
Eric's voice crackled over the cell phone in Tor's
hand. Justine waited impatiently for the news, crouching on her knees next
to her second-in-command in the wooded park across from Angelus and
Cordelia's sprawling mansion. Finally,
Tor snapped the cell phone shut and turned to
"The beast and his bitch are getting into the car..."
Tor relayed, his dark brown features shadowed by the leaves of the
manzanita bush he was crouched under.
"Good. We can attack his minions if he's not there." Justine explained as
her recruits gathered around her. She noticed Faith hovering in the back,
her face shadowed by a mass of dark brown hair, her eyes burning holes in
"What? We're not going after Angelus and Cordelia?"
Marie exclaimed excitedly, tossing her spiky pink head,
piercings jangling as she moved. Justine
smiled in her direction and spoke up.
"That's not the plan. Faith---" She gestured Faith forward with one
callused hand and then continued, watching the Slayer pick her way through
the crowd, a scowl on her face. "She'll take care of the beast and his
Marie didn't look convinced as she stared at Faith, a nasty smile crossing
her sharp, ferret-like features. "Right, and who'll be picking up the
Quick as lightening, Faith spun around and brought her foot up, the steel
toe hovering an inch from Marie's throat. Marie's eyes widened and she
slammed her mouth shut. Her eyes got even wider as Faith flexed her toes
and a stake slid out from the heel of her boot, pressing into the flesh on
Marie's throat. "Watch your mouth, or I'll break your fucking neck. Got
it?" Faith spat at the taller girl.
"Got it." Marie answered breathlessly, her eyes
nearly popping out their sockets. With that, Faith lowered her leg, the
small stake sliding back into her boot heel as she went.
Justine chuckled and smirked, then turned and motioned for the other's to
follow her. Faith watched them go and then hopped in one of the gang's
vans parked alongside the street. As she revved the engine to life,
Justine tapped on the window.
Faith rolled it down and stared icily at the older woman, her eyebrow
quirking slightly. "They change you, I'll kill
you where you stand." And before Faith could answer, the redhead spun on
her heel and stalked back into the shadows.
Faith spat out the window and then rolled down the street, her eyes glued
to the taillights of Angelus's car. She
wouldn't give them the chance to even touch her.
Boulevard, 9:30 p.m.
Pain like fire licked up the side of
face, her eyes slamming shut and her nubby
teeth grinding hard beneath the elegantly manicured nails of the woman
before her. Blood seeped from the long slice that ran from her chin to her
eye, dripping down onto the woman's white blouse like oily drops of black
shook visibly and saw the demoness's companion
lick his lips, his eyes flitting back and forth between hard gold and
"I swear...I don't know..."
said again, her voice shaking despite her attempts at schooling it. The
woman clucked her tongue and lifted her fingers to shred the other cheek.
jerked her head back, and felt a rough male hand sink into her clumpy
black hair, the strong digits digging into her scalp.
"What did I say about lying to us?" The vampire said,
his voice hot in her ear.
heaved a heavy sigh and stood very still.
"Now tell us what we want to hear. Please." The please was laced with a
wide smile as the woman placed her fingernail on
other cheek. An audible gulp and
opened her mouth.
"Okay, I'll tell you." The finger never wavered from her cheek as the
woman's hazel eyes locked onto her black ones, the strong fingers in her
hair gripping tighter in anticipation. "An associate of mine might be able
to help you."
"And your friend's name?"
felt the cold, moist touch of lips on one pointed ear, a tongue sliding
along the curve of her lobe. She shivered against the feel of the
vampire's tongue on her skin, fear creeping into her chest. Demon or no,
she was fair game and she knew it.
an Oshet Mar."
explained, the spines across the top of her breasts flattening in fear.
From the deep frown on the woman's face,
had a feeling she knew what an Oshet Mar was,
and it didn't make her happy.
"And where does Ordal live?" The vampire asked
once more, his hands digging deeper into her scaly scalp.
"Last I knew, a tank under the Beverly Center.
But he may have moved, I don't know...we're
kind of on the outs."
supplied, her oil-black eyes blinking rapidly under the dank lights.
"The outs?" The woman asked her, head tilted so
that a long strand of dark brown hair fell across her flawless face.
"Ex-boyfriend." The woman wrinkled her nose and
lowered her finger as if
skin was poisonous.
"Tell me about it."
said, a nervous laugh escaping her throat as the woman shuddered, her
tongue lolling out in what was obviously disgust at the visual.
"So...umm...is that all? You...you're not going to kill me...are you?"
"No. Let's go Angelus." Another wide smile and the woman turned on her
stylish heels and clacked her way toward the exit. The grip in
hair loosened and she felt the cold wall of marble that had been the
vampire leave her back. She sighed heavily and lifted her
nubby fingers to her sliced cheek as she
watched the demoness walk away.
slight whine was in Angelus's voice as he
walked past Elda,
his dark features scowling after his partner.
Cordelia turned on her heel and rolled her eyes, then leaned
against the slimy brick wall of
"Fine, you big baby."
Cordelia sighed, "Kill her."
started, backing away from the vampire as he turned on her, wide smile
pasted to his lips and a bounce in his step. His forehead grew rigid as he
walked and she gulped back a scream.
"But...you said you wouldn't...I told you what I knew..."
protested, her back slamming into the wall
behind her, black eyes wide as the vampire lunged at her. He grabbed
short neck in his arms and twisted until something popped and fire laced
through her spine. Then he grabbed for other spine and twisted it hard
enough to make it creak loudly in protest, but not break it.
screamed and looked up through pain-filled eyes at the woman before her.
"So I lied." Cordelia said as she came closer
to watch, smiling that wide smile once more as she eyed
over the vampire's shoulder. "Besides...doesn't he look adorable when he's
And then, before
Elda could even think of a
retort, Angelus twisted her second spine once more, snapping it in three
different places. The world spun away from her and she collapsed at the
"Well. That was fun." Angelus said, looking up at
Cordelia as she sighed heavily and grabbed for his arm.
"You and your mayhem. What am I going to do
"Something naked, I hope." His jagged features were so
hopeful, she couldn't help but laugh as she led him out of the dead
Her laughter stopped as something slammed into her side and knocked her
face down on the hard brick.
"Hello Cordelia." A familiar voice said.
Setting---The Hyperion Hotel,
Gunn looked up as a scream pierced the hotel's quiet existence. For one
second he stood there, his eyes squeezed shut, gripping the handle of the
ancient ax he had been sharpening before he dropped it and joined Wesley
on the stairs. The boss of Connor Investigations puffed along beside him
as they ran up the stairs, one hand pressed to his wounded gut, the other
on the rail for support.
As soon as they reached the upstairs hallway, they heard Anne call from
"I'll get the needle!" Gunn waved a hand in his wife's direction and
followed Wesley into the shadowed room at the end of the hallway.
They entered the cave-like room and adjusted to the dim light as quickly
as they could, feeling their way through the room to the figure in the
middle of the floor. Lorne was already there, his hands full of the
screaming, wailing girl.
"Fred, Fred...please look at me baby. Please
baby....please!" Lorne begged, his one good eye
filling with tears, hair mussed and unshaven face lined with shadows so
thick he looked emaciated. His hand smoothed over Fred's bare shoulders as
he pleaded with her.
Gunn dropped to one knee and took the girl's other hand in his own, trying
to force some of his strength into her body. "Fred...honey...calm down..."
"They...they're everywhere...little things...and they scream like pennies
in the sky, dropping on the babies and the babies....oh God...the babies,
I tried.....it hurt and I tried...." Fred babbled, her eyes glazing over,
her breath heaving in her chest. Suddenly, thick, red blood dripped from
her nose in a steady stream, trailing over her lips and staining her teeth
as she spoke.
Gunn hung his head as Lorne let out a low moan, his face buried against
Fred's hair, his hands sweeping back across her shoulders to cradle her
"Wesley..." Gunn said, voice low and thick, his tear-filled eyes turning
on the man standing in the middle of the room, completely frozen in place.
"Wes...? We have to do something..."
Finally, Wesley fell to one knee in front of the little Texan and he
lifted her pointed chin with one hand, unmindful of the blood dripping
down his fingers. "Fred....what did you see?"
"What? Is that all you care about?" Lorne asked in a harsh whisper, his
eyes boring into Wesley's as he pulled away from Fred. Wesley turned a
blank stare in his direction.
"It isn't and you know it. But the Powers sent her a vision for a reason
and I'm not going to turn my back on an innocent." He answered icily,
then turned his attention back to Fred, who was
whimpering in Lorne's arms, half of her face bright red with her blood.
"What did you see, Fred?"
"Two! Two there's always two and they're looking for something...something
I don't know. 6+7 is 13. 13-6 is 7. Somewhere
between...and...and I don't know the formula for pie anymore. I
used to know it and now it's all gone....all gone and
I...I...." Her voice trailed off in a whimper and she looked up at
Wesley, her body shaking.
"What did you see?" Wes insisted, his blue eyes boring into hers. Lorne
closed his eyes at the callous tone in his voice. When she didn't answer,
he tried again, his voice even harsher, his hand finding her wrist and
squeezing hard. "Answer me, Winifred!"
"Ow!" She squealed, trying to twist away from
him. "Lorne...." She turned her big brown eyes on the demon and reached
for him with her free hand. Lorne captured it in his
own and held it to his lips, kissing it as if it were made of
"Tell him baby. Tell him and the voices'll
stop....tell him..." Lorne whispered, his eyes
harsh on Wesley's face as the Englishman squeezed a little tighter on
"Angel and Cordelia.
They like the blood and this time it's black. Black and there's......
something's broken. Something hard and it's not nice and I see her! She's
got brown eyes and she's hard and she's screaming and she's a killer but
not a killer....always killing but she hates to...she hates to....oh God
she's gonna die..."
At the mention of the two names, the three men hitched in their breaths,
glancing around at each other as Fred babbled on, her head lolling around
on her long neck, curling brown hair slowly matting with blood and
sticking to her face in dark slashes.
"Where at, Fred?" Gunn asked gently, wiping at
her cheeks with his thumb. Fred turned toward Gunn and smiled at him
"Why did you leave me?" She asked wistfully, her trembling fingers lifting
to swipe along his own cheek. Gunn stiffened
and leaned away from her touch.
"Where at, Fred?" Lorne insisted,
his face clouded at the exchange between the two of them. Fred turned her
calf eyes back on Lorne and looked down at his hand her shoulders.
Boulevard...8...under the 8....." She whispered,
her body giving out on her as the last bit of information fell from her
red-stained mouth. Lorne supported her, the sleeve of his shirt pressed
against her nose to soak up the blood that seemed to be endlessly
streaming from her nose.
"I've got the morphine...." Anne said, waddling into the room, her voice
soft and lilting. She stooped before Fred, her back protesting and tears
streaming down her pale cheeks as she looked over her friend's face. "Oh
Wesley took the syringe from Anne's trembling fingers and tapped it with
one finger, then he jabbed it unceremoniously into the crook of Fred's
arm. She whimpered and leaned against Lorne further, but didn't jerk away
from the needle. When the dosage had been injected, Wesley pulled it out
and handed it to Anne.
Almost immediately, Fred relaxed, her mouth moving against Lorne's chest,
nonsensical words spilling out into the air. But the thrashing ended as
the medicine took effect and the blood slowly stopped its never-ending
"We should go. Take care of her Lorne." Wesley said stonily, standing and
wincing as the stitches pulled once more. Gunn stood too and helped Anne
up, his eyes roving down over the sprawled forms on the floor. A sudden
pain went through his chest at the sight of Fred in Lorne's arms and he
remembered a time long ago.
His gaze guiltily swept back to Anne's face as she touched his arm, tears
blurring her big blue eyes. A small smile and he wrapped her up in his
arms, his heart touching hers for one moment before Wesley's business-like
voice jabbed through his world.
"Charles. We have to go."
"Take care of them both, baby." Gunn said, kissing her forehead with a
tender brush of his lips.
"Be careful. I heard her out in the hallway...just...be careful." Anne
said, her eyes full of Gunn's face for a moment
before she let him go and hung her head.
"I will baby. I will." Gunn said, walking away from his whole world and
heading for the old one that still haunted him.