Archive for August 2, 2017

LA’s Angels 25   2 comments

25

It seemed like an eternity.

Cordelia’s stomach was somewhere near her throat, the drop fast but seemingly endless. She felt Angel’s hand tighten in hers as he looked down at her, the love and fear equally matched in his eyes.

It made her feel creeped out and comforted all at once. She was getting used to that.

“Jesus,” Riley swore, holding on tightly to the railing at his side.

“I can feel my lunch coming up,” Xander said unhelpfully. The elevator continued down, faster than Cordelia felt comfortable with and somehow not fast enough.

Then, all of a sudden, it jerked to a halt. Kate stumbled backward and Wesley and Buffy grabbed her, keeping her steady. The doors opened slowly and Cordy held her breath, terrified of what would be on the other side.

Angel stepped out and tentatively, they followed him. Cordelia blinked in confusion at the sight before her. The floor they’d alighted onto looked identical to the one they’d just left behind.

“What the hell?” Riley voiced aloud what everybody was thinking, “Did we move at all?”

“We did. This is it. Just how it was last time.” Angel said, not elaborating further and yet Wesley nodded in understanding beside him. Cordelia suddenly empathised completely with Xander as the reality of the situation began to dawn on her, nausea churning violently in her stomach.

“Not exactly…” Faith said suddenly, her voice full of warning. There was motion from the cubicles a few feet in front of them and Cordelia’s jaw dropped as several figures stepped out from hiding and into the corridor and its adjacent open space.

Years of doing this job had honed her instincts and Cordelia scanned the approaching threats quickly, identifying each one of them. Vampires. Eleven of them. Five demons. One werewolf. One –

“Zombie?” Faith said incredulously, her voice filled with fear and disgust, “You’ve got to be kidding me…”

“That thing I said about tempting fate?” Buffy quipped wearily, though Cordelia could tell she was frightened, pissed and itching for a good fight, “I apologise.”

Cordelia unsheathed her sword, watching guardedly as Buffy’s fingers tightened around her hurling axe and Faith pulled a knife and a stake out of her pocket, flipping them upright in either palm. Behind her, Xander and Riley unzipped the bags they were carrying, each standing armed with a loaded crossbow. Wesley pulled out a stake from his suit and Kate pointed her gun firmly in front of her, the tremor in her hand not compromising her aim.

The stand-off held its breath, each of her friends poised and at the ready, various weapons in hand as the onslaught inched slowly forward. Time slowed and then suddenly sped up as a vampire lunged towards them, fangs dripping and feral in the harsh lights of hell.

All at once, they jumped into the fray.

“Protect Willow!” Wesley shouted, as the redhead ran in the opposite direction, dropping to the ground and setting down her belongings. Cordelia flipped her sword, slamming the hilt into the nose of one vampire and elbowing another in the ribs. She ducked as a vampire took a swing at her, shoving her sword deep into his chest. He sputtered, coughing up blood but lashing out with his free hand, slashing her across the cheekbone.

The right side of her face stinging, Cordelia jerked her sword out and lobbed it in a graceful arc, slicing cleanly through the neck of the previously impaled vampire and decapitating him. She gasped as she was grabbed from behind in a chokehold, her head slammed against the wall. Adroitly, she planted her feet against the wall and pushed, using the pressure at her back to walk up the surface and flip over her assailant. Landing behind it, she rammed her sword into the back of the demon that had attacked her, straight through its heart and into the brick wall.

It slumped, dropping to its knees and she pulled the sword out angrily, her eyes darting around.

Buffy kicked a demon in the gut, landing two hard punches to either side of its face. It roared and grabbed her shoulder, squeezing so hard she heard her bones click. She punched its arm with her free hand, powering through the pain when it dropped her and kicking it in the head. It fell backwards and she leapt on top of it, swinging her axe high over her throbbing shoulder and then down into its skull with a sickening crunch.

Angel had a vampire by the throat and nearly a foot off the ground. He pulled a stake from his blazer, plunging it into the creature’s chest and snarling through the dust that followed. An arrow whizzed past his right ear and into the chest of another vampire that had crept up behind him.

“Thank you, Riley,” Angel said dryly, turning to face the grinning boy.

“Bros over psychos!” Riley yelled, quickly reloading.

Willow moved fast, drawing a large circle into the carpet around her with red chalk. Inside it, she drew a five-pointed star, scribbling sigils into the outer triangles. Taking two wide steps behind her, she dropped to her knees and began placing candles in a larger concentric circle around the smaller one. Around the candles, she drew a third and final circle, placing the silver bowl at its edge and dropping the animal bones, runic stones and incense into it.

She was breathing heavily when she opened the smallest pocket of her bag, pulling out the materials Jenny Calendar had couriered. She carefully placed the Orb of Thesulah and the scroll of paper down in front of her, scanning the incantation in Romanian and Latin. She had read it over several times since she’d gotten to Los Angeles, then several times again when Jenny had helped her amend the ancient language in part of the incantation pertinent to the perfect happiness clause.

Willow closed her eyes and felt a multitude of emotions all at once – joy for Cordelia, hope for Angel, fear that she would get it wrong and guilt that she would get it right. Jenny Calendar had been helpful, unconventional, but weary. The gypsies carried a long history of resentment and hatred towards Angelus and whilst Jenny didn’t entirely empathise, Willow knew it had been a much harder decision than she had let on to Angel and Cordy.

In the end, Jenny’d relented. Willow’s explanations of how Angel was far from Angelus and all the good he’d done in the past century of being cursed had swayed her. Times changed, people changed, and the conventions and grudges of her ancestors were not hers to bear. She’d amusedly wondered aloud if her clan would be after her for this but Willow had sworn to protect her identity and the knowledge she had imparted.

The young witch shook off the guilt and focussed on what she knew – Angel was a good man, and he deserved this. So did Cordelia. So did Buffy, Faith, Wesley and anybody else that the possibility of ever unleashing Angelus could do harm to.

Swiftly, she got back to work.

Faith yelped when a demon latched onto her back, pushing her down to the ground. She rolled, coming out on top, flipping her legs forward and launching into a standing position. She blocked a punch with her elbow and kicked the demon in the side, sending it flying a few feet away where Kate stood waiting, unloading a round of bullets into its skull. It jerked madly for a few seconds, then lay still.

Wesley had managed to fend off the zombie by stabbing it several times in the head and chest but it had him now, down on the floor and pinned underneath it. Turning from the vampire he’d just killed, Angel pulled the zombie off him, one hand on its head and the other on its arm. In a sharp, quick motion, Angel severed its head completely, tossing both useless body parts to the ground.

Wesley, Xander and Riley went green.

“Angel, over here!” Willow called out from across the room, and all heads turned towards her. She was standing outside two concentric circles, one drawn with chalk, the other lit with candles. In her left hand, she held a piece of paper, while her right cradled a small, glass orb.

A vampire made a lunge for her and Xander quickly recovered from his stupor, firing the crossbow at him. The arrow hit the vampire in the shoulder, slowing him down and Angel didn’t miss a beat as he strode in Willow’s direction, stabbing him deftly with a stake from behind.

Cordelia closed her eyes and turned, trusting that he would be okay and focussing on the battle in front of her.

“Hi,” Angel said softly, smiling at Willow, “What do you need me to do?”

Willow grinned at him, her heart thundering in his ears. She looked nervous but strong, sure. Apologetically, she directed him into the smaller of the two circles, “I need you to step into the devil’s trap.”

Angel quickly complied, feeling the air shift around him. He put his hand forward, testing that he could not escape from the confines of the pentagram. An invisible barrier pushed against his palm and he looked up at Willow, nodding.

“Okay,”Willow breathed out, taking a seat across from him and pulling out a small mortar from her bag. In it, she crushed some herbs she’d pulled out from another pocket, their smell earthy, pungent. She held the bowl in her left hand and took a step towards him, a small knife in her right.

Angel’s eyes narrowed.

Willow looked sheepish, “I’m sorry. I need your palm.”

Angel held out his hand over the mortar and she nicked his finger with the knife, letting a drop of blood onto the herbs. He didn’t flinch and Willow looked slightly intimidated, stepping backwards and exchanging the knife for a pestle. Wordlessly, she crushed the herbs and the blood together, only looking up when she was finished.

“Here we go.”

Buffy threw her axe into the back of another vampire that leapt at Kate, yanking it out quickly and chopping off its head. She coughed through the dust that remained, looking up, eyes locking with Kate’s. The detective’s eyes widened and Buffy had only a second to ponder that before she was knocked over, the weight of something heavy and foul smelling hovering above her.

The werewolf flipped her, snarling with yellow teeth and eyes black as midnight. Buffy bucked, unable to dislodge it as it grabbed her throat, rearing its head back to strike.

“Buffy!”Xander yelled but it was Kate who was there, loading a new cartridge into her gun and firing every bullet into the werewolf’s neck and back. It howled, a horrid, agonised sound and Buffy bucked again, managing to free her right leg. She lashed out as hard as she could, rolling to her feet as the werewolf collapsed backwards. Buffy gave it a hard kick in the side for good measure.

“Silver bullets, bitch,” Kate said breathlessly, leaning against the wall to support herself.

Faith held a vampire in a headlock, ceasing all movement as he flailed before she twisted hard and broke his neck. Riley fired his crossbow, missing a vampire who Cordelia dropkicked and beheaded in the same breath. Wesley brought his axe down onto the demon under his boot, green goo spurting out and covering the sleeve of his jacket.

A wind picked up suddenly out of nowhere, whipping Buffy’s hair around her face and making her ears cold. She looked around, as did everyone else, the battle momentarily paused as humans, vampires and demons curiously searched out the source.

Red hair blew haphazardly around her face but Willow kept her eyes closed, speaking in Latin. Angel picked up words here and there but didn’t understand half of it. He held steady against the wind around them, the candles flickering but staying alight.

Willow opened her eyes, “Venio.”

Angel squinted, looking around the room.

“Venio!” Willow said louder, raising the mortar in her left hand.

The room stood still, holding its breath. Every head faced them, curious, concerned. The wind picked up, papers from desks left forgotten flying everywhere.

Willow bared her teeth, “VENIO!”

Something flew past Angel’s right ear, a crackle of a sound. The wind stopped. He glanced down, noticing a scroll in the bowl at the edge of the outer circle that wasn’t there before. Immediately, he recognised it, his heart dropping to his toes.

Distracted, Faith didn’t catch the fist coming her way until she felt a solid hook to her left cheekbone, landing hard against the wall. She spat out blood, her eyes furious when she looked up.

The vampire grinned toothily at her, “Had enough?”

“Not even close.”

She launched at him, catching him in the leg with a kick to his upper thigh. He dropped and latched onto her waist, knocking them both over. Faith felt the wind go out of her as the vampire straddled her, pushing her arms down. She wrapped her legs around him as tightly as she could, grinning like a maniac.

“Bad move, bud, this is my favourite position.”

It took every ounce of strength she had to flip him over, yank out the stake in her boot and slam it into his chest. Faith looked up, watching Buffy leapfrog onto a demon’s shoulders, flipping the sword Cordelia threw her and shoving it downwards into its skull. It dropped to its knees and she got off gracefully, pulling the weapon out as it slumped to the ground.

Wesley staked a vampire from behind, helping Kate to her feet from where it had knocked her over. Riley failed to load his crossbow in time, grinning gratefully at Cordelia as she kicked the legs out from the vampire two feet away from him, severing its head from its shoulders.

Silence settled over them as they looked around the room, their opponents defeated. Faith swallowed, glancing over at where Willow and Angel stood.

Their greatest battle was yet to be fought.

Willow stepped forward again, lifting the bowl of objects and the scroll from the edge of the circle. She pulled the scroll out unravelling it and nodding, “Okay. We’re good.”

“What now?” Angel asked.

Willow bit her lip, glancing everywhere at once as Cordelia, Buffy, Faith, Wesley, Kate, Xander and Riley approached the devil’s trap. They each took up position around Angel, circling him.

“I’m going to extract your soul,” Willow said softly, taking a seat cross-legged outside the second circle. She removed a small glass container from her bag, which caused the group to squint and shield their eyes. The stone inside it glowed bright as an ember.

“Will it hurt?” Cordelia asked timidly, rubbing her hands up and down her arms.

Willow looked up, wrapping her hands around the glass and momentarily shielding it from view. “I don’t know. I hope not. But once Angel’s soul is removed, I can perform the spell to release him from his contract with Wolfram & Hart.” She looked over at him, “I’ll need about a vial of your blood.”

Cordelia stepped forward immediately, taking the vial Willow gave her and stepping into the devil’s trap with Angel. Faith handed her a knife and she kept her eyes downcast and away from his face, sliding the blade gently across the flesh of his palm. She collected enough blood to fill the vial, corking it and handing it to Buffy.

Angel’s throat was full, his palm stinging, “Cordy…”

She looked up then, her eyes moist, wracked with emotion. Slowly, she lifted his palm to her face, kissing the flayed skin and laying it against her cheek. “Come back to me, Angel.”

Angel closed his eyes, taking in a breath he didn’t need, unable to say a word.

“Come back to me or I’ll never forgive you,” Cordelia murmured, skating another kiss across his palm, then wrapping her hand around his neck and pressing her mouth to his, quick and hard. She released him and stepped out of the circle, the mask of stoicism back on her face.

“Ready?” Willow asked, and it was unclear which of them she was speaking to.

Angel nodded, bracing himself, “Do it.”

Willow opened the glass container, carefully pulling out the brightly lit stone. Holding it in her left palm, she stared evenly at Angel. This time, when he nodded at her, she started to chant.

Buffy bit her lip, looking nervously at Angel, then at Xander. He shot her a reassuring smile, though it came out more as a grimace, and her heart cartwheeled anxiously.

For a few seconds, there was nothing but the sound of Willow’s nonsensical words, over and over in the small space between them. Then just as it had before, the wind picked up around them, Willow’s chants getting louder, her body swaying as her eyes closed.

Buffy took a concerned step towards her but Wesley caught her arm, stopping her and shaking his head. Willow’s body swayed again, her hair flying in every which direction, the lights flickering from their sockets in the ceiling as the wind continued to swirl around them.

Faith made a strange sound, pushing her hair out of her face and glancing at the ceiling, “This is comforting.”

Buffy stared at Willow, watching in horror as her eyes flashed open, the stone in her hand crackling with electricity. It hovered above her palm, flickering like a ball of forked lightning.

Beside her, Cordelia tensed.

Willow chanted louder and louder, rearing her arm back, the stone in tow. Like a cracking whip she launched her arm forward, the stone flying from her fingers and hitting Angel square in the chest.

“Angel!” Cordelia cried out, feet rooted helplessly in place.

Angel shook with the force of the impact, bolts of lightning shuddering through him. Everything glowed, light pouring from his eyes, his mouth and the tips of fingers until it culminated in one spot in the centre of his chest, forming a sphere.

Suddenly, the light shot out and away from him, straight into the Orb of Thesulah, now in Willow’s right palm. Angel took a desperate, heaving gasp, dropping to his knees, his arms coming forward to support his weight as he fell forward.

This time, Cordelia took a step towards him.

“Cordy, no!” Wesley barked out, making her stop in her tracks. There was pain her eyes, though she only had them for Angel and Riley stepped forward, grabbing her hand and intertwining their fingers together, squeezing.

Angel groaned, still on all fours, confined within the devil’s trap.

Cordelia’s voice was barely a whisper, “Angel?”

Slowly, Angel pushed against his knuckles, taking his weight onto his haunches. His face was still hidden from them as he rolled his shoulders, left, then right, lifting himself carefully into a standing position. His eyes were closed as he stood to his full height, his features coming into view.

The room held its breath. Angel’s lips pulled into a slow, satisfied smirk. His eyes opened.

Kate gasped. Opposite her, Faith took a step back and Wesley swallowed hard. Empathetically, Buffy sucked in a breath, knowing why.

She’d relied on her instinct for years, since she’d met Wesley, Cordelia and Faith, since she’d fought a thousand battles in the city she had sworn to protect. That tingling beneath her skin that alerted her to the evil, the supernatural, or the not quite human.

But despite what they knew he was, Angel’s eyes had been some of the most expressive they’d ever seen, full of every possible emotion and the spark of humanity that set him aside from other vampires. Even when he was angry, his eyes were rich with the warmth of his soul, full of the love he felt for Cordelia, the gratitude he felt towards them all, the compassion he felt for the people he tried to save and the guilt he carried for every memory from his years as a soulless killer.

They were void of all that now, obsidian and cold. All Buffy saw when she looked into his eyes was death.

That wasn’t Angel anymore.

The vampire rolled his shoulders again, freeing the cricks from his neck. When he spoke, his voice was smooth, silky, the disinterested taunt of a demon as Angelus’ eyes roved up and down Cordelia’s form.

“Hello, lover.”

TBC.

Gabriella

Posted August 2, 2017 by califi in TBC

LA’s Angels 24   1 comment

Wow. It’s only been 7 years. Will wonders ever cease? I’m going to try to finish this story (for anyone who is still reading it!) before 2018 lol. – (Gabriella)

——————————————

24

Towering over the city of Los Angeles, the legal offices of Wolfram and Hart cast a great, ominous shadow over the parking lot, blocking out the moon. Seven figures dressed in black walked quickly across the asphalt, soundlessly making their approach towards the building.

Cordelia adjusted the zipper on her leather catsuit, the belt around her waist armed with various weaponry. Kate had gone in a moment earlier, demanding that a detective from the LAPD wanted to speak with the Head of Security regarding recent property thefts. Pfft. They’d have to take out as many big guns as they could in the lobby, then make their way up…or was it down?…and deal with the rest.

Cordy stared at the tall, imposing structure, her heart pounding in her chest and adrenaline pumping in her veins. Her fists clenched, itching to maim something.

“A catsuit?” Buffy whispered beside her, dressed in a far more subdued combination of jeans and a turtleneck. “Really?”

Cordy shrugged. “What? I can’t look good for my honey?”

Riley scowled on the other side of her. “Not exactly why we’re here. Though, still a little hazy on that…”

“Just roll with the punches, Ri.” Cordelia grinned at him. “Literally.”

Riley cocked his head towards Wesley. “I can’t believe you approved this.”

“I’m still attempting to grasp the concept myself,” Wes groused as they neared the glass entrance, keeping low to avoid being seen. “When we were discussing the potential difficulties it would present if the information we need to help Angel were actually housed in the firm’s home office, I never imagined the three of you would take it as a personal challenge.”

Cordelia blanched. “Excuse you, but a) not personal and b) totally not our fault that Wolfram & Hart keep the files on their important vampire employees in the third ring of hell.”

“Hell being the operative—and, may I add, literal—word here.”

“Okay, can you stop being so literal?” Buffy glared at him, the affronted look still on her face from his earlier accusation. “You’re starting to give me the creeps, Wes. And did I mention we’re trying to work here? You could be just a tad more supportive.”

“I’d settle for less chatty,” Faith piped up, wincing when the glares turned on her. “What? Call me old-fashioned, but silence makes the whole stealth thing a lot easier to pull off. So maybe you three can hold this argument until after we get back from the Department of Eternal Damnation?”

Xander grinned at her. “Hopefully, once we get outta there you won’t ever have to talk about it again.”

Cordelia glanced at Willow, who gulped. “Hopefully.”

“You don’t have a warrant. You’re not welcome here.”

“Do I need to tell you how this works?” Kate narrowed her eyes at Grant Darrow, or so the badge said. “I’m a cop. You’re the Head of Security.”

“Your point?”

“Let me dumb it down for you,” Kate smiled without mirth, “I’m Paper. You’re Rock.”

Darrow’s expression never changed. Instead, he turned towards the security guards behind the desk, dropping a hand to the gun at his hip. “Escort Detective Lockley out.”

“Them and what army?”

Faith’s voice cracked like a whip behind her and all of a sudden, the room seemed to buzz with motion. Kate barely had time to turn her head before Buffy delivered a swift kick to the side of the security guard who ran around the desk to confront her, flipping over him in a somersault and slamming his face into the table. Cordelia ducked the baton that another guard swung over her head, grabbing it with her hand and pushing the offender through the glass entrance doors. Riley disarmed him, tossing Cordy his gun.

Darrow raised his walkie talkie immediately, calling for back-up from the floors above. He levelled his gun at Wesley, who was creeping into the lobby, Willow and Xander on his heels.

Kate raised her own weapon to his head without hesitation, her heart leaping into her chest, “Not my boyfriend, you dick. Drop it.”

Darrow froze, lowering his arms slowly. The elevators behind him made a sound and he spun quickly, sneering at her as the weapon was turned in her direction. “You’re about to be demoted, Detective.”

Kate kept her hands steady as almost a dozen security guards poured out of the lifts, weapons at the ready and pointed at her friends. She kept her eyes on Darrow, waiting for the signal…

“Duck!”

Wesley’s voice sounded across the lobby and Kate ducked and rolled, taking shelter behind the counter. Bullets sprayed in every which direction from Buffy, Cordelia and Faith’s stolen guns, while each of them avoided gunfire from the elevator lobby.

Kate aimed her gun and fired, taking out one, two, three security guards as she hit them in the arm, thigh and shoulder, dropping them to their knees.

Riley and Xander worked together, punching a security guard in the stomach and the backs of his knees, knocking him unconscious to the ground. Willow rubbed her palms together and muttered something Kate couldn’t understand, the room crackling with electricity as she generated a shockwave from her outstretched hands, hitting three security guards and sending them toppling to the floor.

“Cordelia! Riley! Go!” Wesley’s voice sounded across the room again, springing the two into motion and towards the now empty elevator lobby. Cordy pulled one of the shurikens attached to her belt loose as Darrow raised his gun again. Her wrist blurred in a short, deft movement, the throwing star slicing quickly through the air and into his lower arm. He dropped the gun with a yelp of agony, falling back against the wall.

Cordelia smirked, following Riley into the open elevator. Kate caught her smile fall as the doors closed, her eyes darting quickly to Wesley as he knocked out a guard with the back of his hurling axe.

Faith leapfrogged from behind the counter, wrapping her thighs around the neck of a security guard and bringing him down, hard. She pulled the gun from his hip, leaning backwards and shooting another in the calf as he made a dive for Buffy, baton swinging out a few inches too short of her blonde head as he crumpled to the ground.

Buffy blew her a kiss, dropping to a squatting position and kicking out the heels of the guard in front of her. He fell and she landed a devastating kick to his side, flipping him a couple of feet to her right.

“Buffy! Look out!”

Kate raised her weapon as another guard sprang for her but Xander was already there, his legs around the guy’s waist and his arms around his neck, trying to choke the life out of him.

Buffy looked flabbergasted, then amused, then enamoured, all in a single second. She delivered a swift punch to the guard’s nose, allowing Xander to find his footing and shove him into the side of the counter.

He dropped, breathing but unmoving to the ground.

Buffy grabbed the lapels of Xander’s shirt, kissing him as though there was nobody watching. “My hero…”

Faith grinned. Willow grinned. Kate grinned.

“For god’s sake!” Wesley griped, moving toward the elevators and stepping over the trail of unconscious security guards in his wake, “This isn’t a bloody rom com! Let’s get on with it!”

Angel paused, his senses flaring, looking up. The door to his office clicked open and two familiar faces barged through it, smirks on their faces.

“Hey sweetheart,” Cordelia winked at him, stretching the fabric in her hands taut. “Ready to be taken against your will?”

Angel stood, grinning when she approached him and kissing her hard on the mouth. “I love it when you talk dirty to me – ”

Riley rolled his eyes, making a gagging sound for added effect. “Would you get on with it?”

Cordelia twisted Angel’s arms behind his back, wrapping the material loosely around them and tying a knot. “Too tight?”

Angel gave an affronted huff, turning to face her, “You’re fine.”

“Good,” She knocked a swift kick into his desk, sending papers and folders flying. At his confused look, she shrugged, “Looks like there was a struggle.”

“Wow,” Riley drawled with a smirk, waggling his eyebrows at Angel. “You must really have a reputation for being easy.”

The insult rolled off Angel’s tongue with a grin, “Look in the mirror, Finn.”

“Whatever,” Riley pulled open the door, peering around it cautiously. “We’re clear, let’s move.”

“Hey,” Angel caught Cordelia’s eye, cocking his head in a gesture for her to come closer, “One for the road?”

Wordlessly, she kissed him, arms wrapping tightly around his shoulders, breaching the gap between them. Pressed against his body, she deepened the kiss, uninhibited as the love she felt for him.

Riley’s voice was impatient and incredulous, “If you’ve both finished copulating, maybe we could get outta here?”

Cordelia sighed, allowing herself a moment with her forehead pressed against her lover’s. Swiftly, she turned, grabbing Angel’s bound hands and guiding him forward. Riley led the way and she followed closely behind, stepping out of Angel’s office and into the hallway.

“This place is like a maze.”

Faith levelled her gun as she lead the team down yet another corridor, Willow, Wesley, Kate and Xander right behind her. Buffy brought up the rear, gun cocked and ready for any unwelcome interruptions. Despite the fact that they’d been here before – two times too many for Faith’s liking – the offices of Wolfram & Hart still seemed cold, desolate and entirely unfamiliar to her.

“It has to be somewhere here,” Wesley’s voice was terse, clipped, and it made Faith’s stomach roll, “Willow, anything?”

Willow clutched the location stone tightly in her hand, her frown deepening, “We’re getting close, I can feel it. Just keep moving.”

Faith held up her hand as they neared another hallway, swiftly ducking her gun around the wall, eyes darting everywhere. “Clear.”

“Turn left,” Willow ordered, and Faith glanced down at the stone in her hand. It glowed dimly and her palm was pink, as though the object were giving off heat.

“This is too easy,” Buffy said from behind them, “Where are the demons? And vampires? And…lawyers?”

“Same difference,” Kate muttered.

“It’s 10pm, Buffy,” Wesley replied, “Presumably all Wolfram & Hart’s employees have gone home.”

“Not to mention the security we took out downstairs,” Xander said, making a face, “And really? Too easy? Hasn’t watching Bruce Willis movies with me taught you anything? Don’t tempt fate.”

Buffy shrugged, “I don’t believe in tempting fate.”

Xander paused, “I feel like we’re saying the same thing here.”

“This is it,” Willow interrupted, the stone in her hand flashing brightly now. Faith stopped, taking in the larger than usual elevator in front of her, eight feet of seemingly impenetrable steel. There didn’t appear to be any buttons around it, nor any way in.

“How – ?”

“Do you have them?” Wesley asked and immediately, Buffy dropped the bag she was carrying, pulling it open and taking two objects out. Faith recognised them as the ring and the glove they had stolen from the warehouse the night Cordelia had –

She swallowed, noting how Buffy seemed to share the sentiment because she swiftly handed them to Wesley, as though horribly unnerved by them.

He stopped her, shaking his head, “It has to be Angel.”

“Present!”, came a voice from behind them and everyone swivelled around to see the vampire in question being guided down the corridor they’d turned left into, Cordelia and Riley flanking either side of him. “Er, you can untie me now, Cor.”

Cordelia pulled the bindings from Angel’s wrists as they approached, her expression perplexed, “That was pointless. We didn’t see anyone, this place is deader than I was that one time.”

Angel, Buffy and Faith blanched.

“Our path was pretty clear too,” Kate said.

Xander slapped his forehead, “What did I just say?!”

Riley smirked, “No idea, but do that again.”

“Here, Angel,” Buffy handed him the ring and the glove, bringing the focus back to the job at hand, “You know what to do.”

Silently, Angel slipped on the glove, taking a deep, unnecessary breath, “Right. The Home Office. Here we go.”

He pushed the ring onto his middle finger, looking up expectantly at the elevator beside them. The round light above the elevator clicked on with a loud ding and seconds later, the doors slid open.

“Everyone in,” Wesley said, stepping in first as they all followed suit one by one. The lift was large and empty, accommodating them all easily. Buttons were lined vertically along the front right wall and Angel took a step forward, pressing the lowest one, which said nothing but the word, “DOWN”.

“Well, if anyone ever wanted to tell me to go to hell,” Faith glanced at her friends as the doors slowly closed, the grin on her face a complete contradiction to the terror she felt inside, “Now would be the time.”

The elevator plummeted.

Part 25

Posted August 2, 2017 by califi in TBC