Setting---A warehouse in
Compton 11:10 pm
Shouts rang out, echoed off the vast walls of the warehouse. Bodies
scattered, some running for weapons, others thrown out of the way as the
vampire plowed his way through them.
Faith spun her leg out and caught Angelus in the jaw as he reached her. He
reeled under the blow and then smiled, catching her with a lightening
quick blow to her face with his fist.
Not to be outdone, Justine moved up beside Faith and struck at Angelus
with her fists, battering at his face before he batted her away. She slid
across the floor, bleeding from the nose and mouth.
Faith smirked at that and then dived back at Angelus, the tiny knife in
her hands burying itself to the hilt in his flesh, right over his heart.
Had it been a stake, he'd have been dust. As it was, he just pulled it out
with a grimace and flung it across the room.
Faith winced as she saw the blade catch pink-haired Marie in the throat,
dropping her to the dusty floor, sputum and blood dribbling out of her
mouth, a bright red fountain spreading beneath her.
Angelus didn't stop to admire his work though, as he whirled and caught
Faith in the breasts with the heel of one boot. Faith grunted under the
blow and then flipped backward, hands meeting the floor and the toes of
her steel-toed boots slamming into Angelus's
nose. She heard the crunch of bone and felt the spray of borrowed blood
hit her arms and face.
She landed on her feet and lashed back with her leg, dropping Angelus onto
the ground. He rolled before she could spin and drop down onto him. Back
on his feet within seconds, he dived in with his fists, pummeling her face
with blow after blow. She felt her nose give and knew it was broken, but
didn't have the luxury to think about it. A swift uppercut to his jaw
knocked him backward and she spun for more momentum.
Instead of meeting the waiting chest of a stunned Angelus, she connected
with Justine's back. The older woman grunted under the blow and Faith felt
something crunch under her boot.
Justine's eyes clouded with pain and then closed, opened once more to
stare at Faith as she half turned in place, mouth open in surprise. She
hit her knees and her body shuddered. Then, she slumped, unmoving and
still, on the floor.
Faith just stared, brown eyes horrified. What
had she done?
"Wow, I know old habits die hard, but this..." Angelus nodded his head
appreciatively at her. Faith felt bile rising in her throat.
Her vision blurred, the sounds of the other Hunter's voices roaring in her
ears. Her mind narrowed on the blank eyes of the woman before her and the
ghost of the feel of her spine crunching under foot.
And then, without thinking, she turned and fled.
She heard Angelus calling behind her, laughing, taunting or challenging
her, she wasn't sure and didn't care. She slipped once, falling down on
her hands and knees and staring for one moment at Marie's dead eyes. Blood
was everywhere, all over her.
Faith knew she was screaming as she stood up and ran onward, the night
opening up before her as she pushed past the startled recruits near the
doors of the warehouse. She hit the street and ran and ran, all the way
across the city and past freeways, shops and staring people.
She didn't know where she was going until she pulled to a stop before the
Hyperion, chest heaving so hard she couldn't draw breath without a
stabbing pain so steep she was blinded. She limped up the walkway without
thinking and burst into the lobby, collapsing in a heap as soon as she
reached its inner safety.
She passed out with a pair of strange brown eyes staring into hers, a
drawling voice in her ears and gentle hands on her face.
Setting---The Hyperion Hotel,
Fred stared at the walls, hands smudged with thick stripes of black
marker, stringy brown hair draped over her eyes. She poked her tongue out
of her mouth and peered at the dark scrawl on the walls.
"A place without walls is a paradise." She read out loud, drawling voice
weary but happy. Happy because the voices had stopped and she wasn't
kaplooey today. So much so that Lorne had
removed the lock from the door. She could go downstairs if she wanted to.
Still, the freedom to traverse the many halls and floors of the hotel did
little to comfort her. She knew that there were things out there, bad
things beyond the scribbled door to her room that wanted to hurt her. They
could hurt her, she knew. She felt it every time her head opened up and an
army marched through.
"An army with boots made of rattlesnake teeth." Fred said, writing that
below the last line she'd written. "It's all about teeth, sometimes.
Everyone needs teeth. Everyone but birds but that's just their nature. And
we shouldn't deny anyone their nature. It's unnatural. I wonder if birds
She stopped, realizing there was no one there to listen and besides, she
had a feeling she was rambling. But she liked to ramble, it filled the
silent spaces and made the world seem cozy and close.
"Honey? What are you doing?" Anne's voice was
soft, gentle on her ears. Fred flinched and dropped the magic marker onto
"Oh, nothing. I'm fine. How is your stomach?"
She giggled and corrected herself with a smile. "I
mean your baby?"
"Fine. Restless." Anne answered,
crossing the room and crouched down heavily next to her. She read the
newest passage on the walls and shook her head. "You have a way with
"What's it like to be pregnant?" Fred's eyes sparkled and Anne couldn't
help but smile for the sanity in the dark brown orbs. Days like these were
rare and fleeting and she was learning to cherish them.
"It's interesting. Kind of special, like I'm doing something no one has
ever done before, even though I know women have been doing it since, well,
since women have been doing it." Anne laughed and patted her stomach
happily. Fred lifted a markered hand and
rubbed over the equator of her skin, mouth opening with surprise as she
felt a strong kick under the skin.
"He's going to be just like Charles." Her voice was wistful and far away
for one moment. Anne felt uncomfortable suddenly. She knew about Fred and
Gunn's past and didn't begrudge them the bond they still had between them,
but sometimes she wished things were different.
Her mind flashed back to the days when she was part of Justine's band of
vampire killers, joining the ranks because she couldn't go on watching her
kids become part of the undead of the city. It was no longer enough for
her to watch and keep the home fires burning when so many innocent
children failed to come in off the streets night after night. Once there,
she'd been surprised to see a familiar face. Charles Gunn was quieter than
he had been before, edgier and not prone to trust anyone, including her.
Slowly though, she'd gotten the story out of him.
Of Angel and Cordelia.
Of Wesley's betrayal and Connor.
And especially Fred. It was the pain of slowly
losing Fred that had driven him to joining up with Justine. And it was the
very thing that had driven her away. She'd gotten the story one night on
the rooftop of the Hunter's warehouse and had cried with him and the pain
he'd felt. When things had gone to hell at Angel Investigations, Charles
had tried to keep the agency open, but Fred had spiraled into madness far
quicker than he'd been prepared for. He'd felt he was ineffectual and had
joined with Justine in order to find the mission he so desperately needed.
The only problem was, he hadn't told Fred where
he was going every night. And finally, Fred had a vision that had sent
everything crashing down. She found out about his betrayal with the one
person she hated indefinitely. Fred was a forgiving soul, but that was too
much for her to handle. The classic big blowout had been
unrepairable and they'd parted on bad terms.
Immediately, Gunn had felt bad, but he refused to crawl back to her. He
felt that he was right and that Justine's fight was the good fight. Anne
hadn't been so sure; right from the start she'd been uneasy with Justine
and her ways. Charles too, though he was loathe
to admit it. It took nearly a year for them both to see the light.
That and a mysterious rescue by Wesley and Lorne that
had resulted in a new mission being presented to them. Walls had
been mended, revelations had been laid bare and Anne had been along for
the ride and wrapped up in a secure blanket of belonging she'd never felt
in all her years of searching. And in that time, something had happened
between her and Charles. It wasn't anything that either had been looking
for, but it happened and it was strong.
And, despite Anne's initial fear and jealous feelings, Gunn hadn't tried
to rekindle his relationship with Fred once he was back on friendly terms
with her. Despite lingering feelings, Anne knew that Charles loved her and
had proven it when he'd asked her to marry him, in front of every member
of the newly renamed Connor Investigations team. Still, she wondered what
they really felt and if they both longed for the past.
"Probably, from the way he kicks. Or her." Anne
said, forcing herself out of her thoughts of the past. Fred smiled and
tilted her head, appraising Anne's face and body. Then she turned to the
wall and picked up the magic marker, drawing a stick figure with a smile
and big round belly. Anne laughed. "Cute."
"Isn't she, though? How's my kitten?" Lorne strolled into the room,
smiling wide enough to break his face. Anne returned the expression and
was pleased to see the green demon so happy. Apparently, Fred's good days
were Lorne's good days too.
"Meow." Fred answered, turning her pixie face
up for a quick, friendly kiss from Lorne. Anne marveled at the ease with
which they spoke to one another. Then again, she wasn't surprised. Lorne
had been the only one to stay in the hotel with her after Gunn had left.
They were best friends and Lorne was her unofficial keeper, being the only
person she'd listen to while in the grip of a vision.
And Anne had her suspicions that the feelings Lorne had for Fred
were anything but friendly. She saw the longing
look in his eyes as he settled down next to the Seer and took her hands in
his, reading the new passages on the walls with an expression that spoke
volumes to anyone who knew him.
Anne wondered if Fred had a clue. Probably not.
"An army with boots made of rattlesnake teeth? Very
eloquent, kitten." Lorne commented, not dropping her hand.
"Thank you...I....I..." Fred's voice trailed off suddenly and she
stuttered, eyes focusing and refocusing.
"Fred?" Lorne knew that look and felt fear threading it's way his spine.
He grabbed for her just as the vision hit.
Her body spasmed, her back arched and she
strangled a scream, fingers made into claws as she scraped at the air,
looking for a handhold and finding molten pain. Lorne tucked himself
around her and held on tight, eyes squeezed shut and fingers bruising as
he tried to hold onto the flailing girl.
Anne moved out of the way of a bare, deadly foot, eyes wide. "Charles!
"She's not broken! She's not broken! Don't run! Don't run! You're all
bloody! Oh God, he's all dim!" Fred screamed out her vision; Anne mentally
filed it away. They'd deal with it after they dealt with her.
Almost immediately, Charles showed at the door, hypodermic in his hands
and a worried, haggard expression on his face.
"Where's Wesley?" Anne asked, backing up against the wall and trying to
ignore the flailing couple on the floor before her.
"I don't know." Came Charles's terse answer as
he tapped the needle to get rid of the bubbles. Then, with gritted teeth,
he fell to his knees, reaching for Fred's thin arm.
"NO! It's not right! You're not a killer!" Fred screamed to someone only
she could see. Then, before Charles could blink, she kicked him in the
face and rolled out of Lorne's grip.
She tore off through the open door, past a stunned Anne and down into the
hallway. Lorne was up in a moment, running after her; Charles a second
later, lip split from where she had kicked him.
Anne followed them as fast as she could, taking the stairs slowly. As she
reached the bottom, she stopped, eyes widening at the sight before her.
"It's okay, you're not dead. Not a killer. He's all dim and he's waiting
for you. Please, you gotta wake up..." Fred
cooed to the fallen girl on the lobby steps.
Anne recognized her immediately.
Faith stirred and then was still, Fred still hovering over her, whispering
soft words that only made sense to herself.
Anne's eyes widened. The Slayer was covered in blood.
"Where the hell is Wesley?" Lorne asked, holding onto Fred's hands as she
tried to wipe the blood off of Faith's pale face.
They all looked around at each other. No one knew.
Setting---401 W. Blaine Street, Apt. 3b,
Torrance, 10:00 pm.
"Too soon...I musn't..." A thick, Spanish
accented voice trailed off, thick gray eyebrows drawn up in concern.
"I'll pay you double. Do it."
Julio stared at the desperate man before him, hands twitching. He'd
changed considerably since the first time he'd walked into his little
apartment asking for his help. Help wasn't exactly what he'd found and the
evidence was obvious in the haggard appearance and dulled eyes.
The sessions had started nearly a year and a half ago, monthly at first.
Within the past three months, he'd been coming to him bi-monthly, despite
Julio's warnings that it wasn't good for him. Obviously, that didn't
matter to the man before him, nor did the fact that he had just bumped the
sessions from bi-monthly to bi-weekly.
"You're not strong enough yet. Please, let more time pass and then I
"Triple. Do it now."
Julio gave up. After all, what was it his concern what this man was going
to do with all that stored energy? It was his life to gamble with and none
of Julio's business. Still, it wasn't right and he knew it.
"Fine. Sit. Relax your mind." Julio sighed
heavily, sitting down in front of him. It didn't take long for him to
sense the calmness of the other man's mind. Working with him for so long
had given him a good feel of his state of mind and he quickly did what he
was being paid for.
Closing his beady brown eyes, he Saw what the
other man wanted him to take. Thick, roiling white energy flowed out from
beneath the younger man's skin, centering in his heart and spiking out
beyond. It was weaker than last week; understandably; he'd taken all the
stored energy last time and his body had yet to replenish itself. With a
sigh, Julio Reached and wrapped a mental whisp
around a spiky strand of energy, pulling it with all his might. It
unraveled slowly, like thread off a spool; the center slowly dimming in
brightness as it was emptied.
Almost to the end of the thread, Julio stopped. A glowing, pulsing nebula
still sparkled from the heart of the man before him, but it was small and
wavering. He couldn't take any more or he'd be committing murder. Slowly,
he disengaged himself from the man's energy web and turned his attention
to the focus-stone sitting between them.
A year and a half had taken the gleaming stone of obsidian and filled its
vast chasm with energy, stored and preserved for the day when it would be
needed. He'd chosen obsidian for its special properties, including the
huge energy chamber that was meant for the kind of spell his client needed
Now, with a twist, Julio opened the magickal
plug that held all the stored energy in place and threaded the ends of the
white energy he Held in his hands into it. Slowly it siphoned into the
stone, melding and absorbing into the other energies with ease. Soon, all
the energy was safely inside and Julio closed his empty hands.
Then, with another twist, he closed the stone and withdrew from the man's
energy field. It was over.
Opening his eyes once more, he felt his stomach drop as he saw the sad
wreck before him.
Wesley Wyndham-Pryce wavered from his perch on the floor, eyes rolling up
in his head, mouth slack. He passed out in seconds.
"I told you it was too much." Julio said sadly, staring at the still form
on his floor.