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Draw the Line

[10 Jul 2006|11:37am]

[ mood | busy ]

I'd been busting my ass for about two months now. Wes, too, but a lot of the times we weren't working together anymore. Kinda weird. Whatev, I got to dust some vamps, be on the side of good, and all that shit. I hadn't heard back from Soul Boy or Fred or her little boyfriend since that day, though, so I was figuring they were through with us. Too bad, too, cuz I really wanted to smack Fred around. Just once.

"Yo, boss, I'm back!" The door slammed behind me and I began shrugging outta my jacket. I stopped in the living room when I heard the noises coming from Wes' bedroom. "Oh you gotta be fucking kidding me." Walking up to the door, I banged on it a few times. "Hey! Shut the fuck up, assholes! I'm home now!" I heard a few sounds -- including one that I really didn't need to hear -- and then the door opened and fucking Lilah came out dressed up like...

"Fred? Oh, he's one sick fuck, but I didn't think you'd go for it too," I sneered at her. Stupid bitch.

Who is playing who?Collapse )

2 Sides | Draw the Line

Cold Storage [02 Jun 2006|02:50pm]

[ mood | cold ]

Everything was prepared, according to the text that Lilah had provided me. It was far from the simplest spell I'd ever attempted-- in fact, it was almost as taxing to acquire and prepare the necessary implements as it had been to actually perform, but I'd done it.

The Axis of Pythia had worked perfectly, as if I'd had a compass to point precisely where I'd hoped it would in the first place. A deeper trip into the Wolfram & Hart archives showed me the rest I needed to know.

Hello, old friend.Collapse )

8 Sides | Draw the Line

Inside the hive [16 Feb 2006|09:37am]

[ mood | cynical ]

As... unexpected as Fred's visit had been, I believed that I had been able to use the situation to my advantage. Where after the confrontation in the auction house I'd felt that Faith was still teetering on the edge between what I was offering her and what she'd once believed, now I could sense that she was standing more and more solidly on my side of the line. I was glad of it-- the more she believed in what I was doing, the better I could keep her there.

Once she was dressed and ready for the day, I'd sent her off to beat on some of my new recruits for a few hours, assuring her that they needed to get their bruises and bumps given to them first by an opponent as strong as a vampire, but wasn't intending to kill them-- that way their first encounter with a preternatural foe was not a life and deat situation. Promising that we'd get to do some genuine slaying soon enough, I got her to go.

The Axis of Pythia awaited me once Faith had gone. It was a simple enough process, concentrating my thoughts as strongly as I could on Cordelia, the artifact began to glow and hum. It wasn't long before I could start making out images and impressions floating through my own consciousness, of Cordelia luminous and powerful, looking down on those she'd cared about here on Earth. I pushed, identifying the plane and trying to send a reassuring wave of feeling from myself through the link.

Once the connection was severed, I jotted down every detail still within my recollection as soon as I could. Poring over the notes afterward, I cursed. Even with the books and materials I kept in the apartment, even with what I knew I could acquire from my sources in the city, I wasn't equipped to perform the spell that would pull Cordelia back down to our dimension. I needed more resources, access to more information.

I needed to get inside Wolfram & Hart.

And I knew how.

Morning was just turning to afternoon when I called Lilah to meet me at the café outside the Wolfram & Hart offices. She was, as I'd expected, right on time.


((Open to Lilah, when you're ready to dive in!))

5 Sides | Draw the Line

Working it out [16 Feb 2006|08:43am]

[ mood | frustrated ]

Was it wrong that I needed to go out and bust a few heads? Even after the talk I'd had with Fred, even after sitting in the dark and trying to push it out of my mind or at least into someplace where I could deal with it, I couldn't let the idea of Wes' standing on the other side of the line go.

The thing that was really getting to me was that I was getting less and less sad about the idea. Not that I was the man's biggest fan a few hours ago, not after everything he'd done. But there used to be a kind of pity for what he'd gone through that went right next to the anger. The feeling sorry was fading fast, though, and all it was leaving was the knowledge that there was a new player in town wearing a black hat, and I used to know him.

Wes had said he was going to find Cordelia, and I had to admit that got under my skin, too. It was clear to me he didn't give a damn about any of us anymore, so how was I supposed to believe he cared about Cordelia? I sent a quiet thought out to wherever she'd gone, apologizing for not being able to find her and help her just yet. But I would. I just didn't know how.

Still, I couldn't just sit around and brood, not like usual. Something about having gotten that close to the Axis of Pythia and having it stolen upped the frustration to where I couldn't keep it in anymore. I had to get out. So that's why I was drifting around downtown, looking for trouble.

By the time two or three hours had passed, I had at least a half dozen vampires' worth of dust on my coat sleeves and the imprints of a couple more human troublemakers on my knuckles. It was as I was running around a corner, chasing down one more that I discovered I wasn't the only one who'd needed to hit something.

"Couldn't stay in tonight either, Gunn?"

((Open to Gunn))

Draw the Line

The Old Neighborhood. [12 Feb 2006|05:00am]

Had to get out of the hotel, man; Wes going to the Dark Side was a sucker punch to the gut and I needed some time t’ think. Can’t fuckin’ believe English pulled a gun on us! This is the home boy who took a bullet for me just a couple years ago!

Without even realizin’ it, I found myself back in the old neighborhood. Weird as it sounds, things were easier back then; we knew who the bad guy was. It was us against them. Me and my crew against the bloodsuckers and the occasional green-skinned, scaly-assed mofo. Now I’m working with a vampire, in love with a cute little Southern brainiac who was trapped in another dimension for five years, and my best friend was a stuffy English dude who went from ‘clumsy, wannabe’ demon fighter to ‘brooding, badass’ demon fighter to ‘possibly insane, could go postal at any minute’ demon fighter.

Ain’t no going back, though. I done more good fightin’ alongside Angel than I ever did here. Takin’ out some vamps is fine, but I’ve seen what else is out there. Shit that is so much worse, and on a massive scale. I don’t know ‘bout all that Champion stuff, but stickin’ with Angel is the best way to take down the real Big Bads.

I parked the truck and got out, decidin’ to take a short stroll. I was lookin’ to let off some steam and this was the part of town to do it in.

10 Sides | Draw the Line

A new battle [11 Jan 2006|02:03pm]

[ mood | naughty ]

I didn't sleep much that night, mainly cuz I was still wicked pissed at Wes and I couldn't get over what he'd said to me.

"Goodnight, Faith. Tomorrow night, it's back into battle for us."

Was this what it was gonna be like everyday? Argue, fight the good fight, come back here and argue some more? Shit, I hadn't signed up for that. I got up in the morning and avoided Wes while I ate breakfast, walking around in a long t-shirt and nothing else.

What the hell had gotten him so riled up? Hey, I knew what my prob was. Cordelia and him not trusting me.

Oh... had it been my little remark about stick girl? Huh. I'd hafta remember that and test my theory again later.

Of course, later came sooner than I figured since just as Wes was waking up, there was a knock on our door. "I'll get it," I yelled as I walked up, figuring it to be someone from Wolfram and Hart with new info on the sitch or something.

Instead, lo and behold, it was Fred. Fucking Fred.

With a grin on my face, I tilted my head and tried to play it for all it was worth. Leaning against the doorframe, the shirt slid higher up my thighs as I licked my lips. "Hey there. Long time no see. You, uh, here for me, babe? Or you here for a pity fuck for Wes? Cuz lemme tellya, last night? Hoo-boy, he was... awesome."

((Open to Fred & Wes))

4 Sides | Draw the Line

The Echo [30 Oct 2005|12:26am]

I hadn't wanted to leave when Angel made his call, effectively ripping the rug right out from under our feet, and the smallest bit of hope that had settled onto it as well. There'd ben the part where I'd physically bit down on my lip to keep from arguing with Angel, seeing the hopelessness of it right away. And it also kept me from asking a few other things as well. Not yammering on, something that I'd seemingly lost a long ways back. Really, I had only swallowed down one word after that.


"Don't make me do it, either of you."

There'd been the gun, and there had been that. My unspoken word, lost in the echo of his. And the problem with swallowing down words, not letting them go? They always seem to get in the way after that, blocking the way for all of the others. I really wasn't surprised when Angel and Charles and I didn't speak a single thing to each other, the whole way home.

"Don't make me do it, either of you."

I kept hearing them, over and over. The words that hadn't been swallowed. And the click of the ...did it even get that far? Was it even that kind of gun? It didn't really matter. All I knew in the here and now, was what I'd heard. The words, the chamber of a gun...Wesley's gun. And the unshakable certainty that he would've done it.

The words. The click. The wall.

It was ever so much than just a line in the sand anymore. And tonight, the last brick had been placed.

We reached the hotel easily enough, nothing stopping us along the way. Not even a stumble. Angel seemed focused on the office, Charles putting away our little used weapons. I just curled up on the couch, and watched over them both, worried for how they'd been affected too. What were they hearing?

"We're taking the Axis. Period. I know more about the thing, I can use it better. I'll find Cordelia. Get out of the way."

Wesley had said thsoe words too. I heard them, sharp and bitter in the echo of everything else from the night. All along, through everything falling apart, I'd quietly understood. Maybe too quietly, for the truth of it. I could've reached out more, and maybe this wouldn't have happened at all. What happened...I knew deep down Wesley had thought he was doing the right thing, which was a whole different world than better. He was using superlatives in his speeches now, which hurt right along with the fact he was making speeches at all. Because I wasn't in a place that I wanted to listen, or felt it was right to listen...not anymore.

I heard it again, the echo. The words, and the click, and the wall. It didn't seem so foolish to think that I could actually see it, high and imposing, somewhere just outside the hotel. And I new I felt the new, determined set to my shouders. Wesley helped built that wall, if he wanted to admit to it or not. And as soon as I got the opportunity?

I was going to tell him just that.

((open to Angel))

5 Sides | Draw the Line

Same Old Shit [29 Oct 2005|01:41am]

[ mood | pissed off ]

It really hadn't been that fucking hard a job to pull, except for the tiny run-in with SoulBoy and company.

I was still wicked pissed at Wes, though, for now owning up to me and just telling me what the hell we were doing there. Me? I was going along for the ride, figuring there hadda be a good reason and all. Wes'd just tell me later, right?

Cordelia. Saint-fucking-Cordelia.

Wes had the Axis -- whatever the hell it was that was gonna be used for Cordelia -- and me? A few cuts and bruises but nothing major. I hadn't talked to him the entire drive home, though, and as soon as he opened the door, I brushed past him and went into my room.

"Asshole!" I screamed at him while I took my boots off and tossed my denim jacket to the ground. "You knew. You fucking knew and you used me!"

That's the thing about me, see. Everyone uses me. B used me, the Mayor used me, fucking Angel even played me back in SunnyD. No one gave a shit about me, and hey... I guess it showed by all the visits I had while paying my time, huh?

I stormed outta my room, finding Wes in the living room, and shoved him up against the nearest wall. "You don't want me. You don't even want a badass Slayer to help on the side of good. All you want is a tool. I'm nothing to you!"

((Open to Wes))

10 Sides | Draw the Line

Encounter [21 Sep 2005|12:37am]

[ mood | listless ]

One thing that I had been admonished over and over at Watchers' Academy to keep in mind that a good Watcher does not negotiate or compromise with his Slayer. The chain of command had to be maintained, and authority had to remain with the Watcher, and no one else. Well, since I'd turned out to be such a crap Watcher, I was willing to make a few allowances for Faith's particular personality.

At that moment, we were sitting in my SUV, across the street and half a block up from the auction house. The detritus of a fast-food supper was strewn on the floor of the vehicle which would have annoyed me more if it hadn't involved Faith introducing me to the products of an establishment known as 'Fatburger'. I was trying not to be spotted using binoculars while I observed the building, and Faith was blowing cigarette smoke out the window (that being the compromise between stopping and stepping outside the car).

I watched, constantly checking my watch, as the office lights on the second and third floors winked out and employees exited the building. At last, a slim, balding man emerged, locked the doors, and headed up the streets.

"That's the last one," I told Faith, "the manager. No one left in the building but seven or eight guards, most of whom are over-the-hill former LAPD."

Twisting in my seat, I patted down the rucksack sitting on the back seat, verifying its contents. Reassured that I was properly equipped, I opened the door and nodded to Faith.

"Time for us to get to work. Once we get inside, we'll wait for whoever is coming for the Axis of Pythia, and, ah, dissuade them."

((Open to Faith, Angel and Fred))

11 Sides | Draw the Line

The Start of Something New [25 May 2005|12:32pm]

[ mood | listless ]

I would have preferred spending the day continuing to acclimate Faith to the new state of affairs here in Los Angeles, and getting her familiar with the organization I'd assembled. But, the call had come in sometime around sunrise from one of my more competent lieutenants, Fischer. A small group of demons known for their ritualistic sacrifices of human victims had moved into a rented space near the port in Long Beach, and needed to be observed, then rooted out. I'd been on the road within fifteen minutes, hoping that Faith wouldn't be so foolish as to get herself into trouble which neither I nor Wolfram & Hart could get her out of.

I hoped, but didn't count on it.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the day had been the afternoon phone call from Lilah, asking me how the 'do-gooding' was going, and how well I was getting along with my new roommate.

"So, Wesley, tell me... have you fucked her yet?"

"And if I had, what exactly would you care?" I'd asked.

"As much as we both know you belong with me," she'd said in an infuriatingly superior tone, "you don't belong to me. That said, though, I refuse to take sloppy seconds to that white trash whore."

I'd shaken my head and simply replied, "I'm not going to dignify that with a comment, but I will make sure to see that your properly chastised for such an impertinent tone the next time we're together." And I snapped the phone shut.

So, when the demons had been slaughtered and the captives freed-- and the building's landlord having gotten a very... stern talking to about letting out to such creatures, I was back on the freeway, tearing back up to Los Angeles proper. The first stop was Lilah's apartment. She spent half an hour on her hands and knees and took quite the lashing before fucking, and as usual, enjoyed both immensely.

By the time I returned to the apartment, weary, hungry and only satisfied in one aspect, Faith was laying idly on the couch, watching television. Dropping my helmet beside the door, I began to cross the room toward my bedroom.

"Have you eaten yet?" I asked Faith as I passed. I noted a clear and distinct expression of dissatisfaction on her face. There was something else, I realised as I stepped into my room-- disappointment, or at least something that resembled it strongly. Now I understood.

I hung my jacket on a wall peg, knowing that I'd get around to cleaning it later, before starting to unbutton my shirt, a hamper full of similarly stained garments awaiting it.

"So, Faith," I called out into the living room, "what did Angel have to say?"

((Open to Faith))

6 Sides | Draw the Line

Big Separations [25 May 2005|11:10am]

[ mood | pessimistic ]

I'd hesitated outside the entrance to Dinza's lair for a few seconds before entering. It was insane, of course-- there wasn't a single reason on Earth to think for even a moment that Wesley would be sending me into a trap. I knew for sure that I didn't trust the man, and I was pretty sure that he hadn't told me everything when it came to Dinza, but there wasn't anything that indicated he would actually wish me harm. Still, I hesitated before stepping inside the lair, and that bothered me more than I wanted to admit.

The 'meet' with Dinza went the way that these things usually did. Dinza knew a hell of a lot more about me than I did about her, and she was all kinds of creepy and repulsive and old as all hell. But, she knew why I was there, what I wanted from her. It was surprisingly easy to get the information out of her. I didn't even have to get rough.

Of course, the bit about me having 'so much more to lose' didn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies, especially with Dinza's claw at my throat. But that was the way the game was played.

As I drove back to the Hyperion, I couldn't get Dinza's words out of my head.

"She is far from you, champion, and needs you no longer."

The 'far' part, I could believe easily. We'd exhausted every mortal and most of the supernatural resources we had to find Cordy, and had come up with absolutely nothing. The idea that she wasn't on this particular dimensional plane explained a lot. But the 'needs you no longer'? I'd believe that when I heard it from Cordelia's own mouth. I tugged my cell phone out of my jacket and jabbed at the speed dial for the hotel.

"Fred, it's Angel. We're looking for a mystical artifact called the Axis of Pythia. See what you can find out about the thing, I'll be back there in fifteen minutes."

Snapping the phone closed without waiting for an answer, I pressed down just a little harder against the accelerator. Bouncing a little on the slightly rough road, the Belvedere zipped in and out of the traffic, nimble for a car its size.

"She is far from you, champion, and needs you no longer."

I didn't want to believe it. And dammit, I wouldn't until Cordelia tells it to me, to my face, that she doesn't want to be with us anymore. With me anymore.

Pulling up to the curb with a sudden, hard stop, I jumped out of the car and pushed my way through the front doors, seeing Fred busily running around between books, the computer, and handrwritten notes.

"Find anything yet on this Axis?"

((Open to Fred))

10 Sides | Draw the Line

Making a move [27 Apr 2005|10:19pm]

[ mood | curious ]

When I woke up in the morning, Wes was gone. No note, nothing. But hey, I had me my money and nice digs now, so it didn't really matter right?

Right. Bullshit.

I showered, ate whatever food Wes had stashed here, and got dressed in my typical gear. Jeans, black tank, boots. I walked on outside, blinking up at the sun, and walked through town a little. That got fucking tiring, though, since L.A. is just so fucking huge, and I finally decided to use the money Wes had given me to grab a cab.

"Hyperion Hotel," I snapped at the guy, then sighed as I leaned back in the seat.

Closing my eyes, I tried to figure out why Angel would just... abandon us. Us meaning me and Wes and... well, all of his friends when he got all one-minded. I didn't really have much time to think, though, since Wes' place wasn't that far from the hotel. Go fig.

I paid the guy, pushed open the doors, and looked around, whistling. "Nice, Angel," I whispered, hands in my pockets. Hey, it wasn't like Wes said I couldn't go visit Angel or anything. Think I was still in that whatever-radius thing he'd been going off about that was some sorta fucking stipulation from the court.

Way I figured? If Wes couldn't get through to Angel, the least I could do was give him one last shot to prove to me that Wes was all wrong. That I was wrong. That he was still the good guy we all wanted him to be and shit. So, here I was, showing up at his doorstep so to speak.

"Angel? C'mon, wake the fuck up! It's Faith."

I hopped up onto the front desk and waited, wishing I'd thought to buy some cigs before coming here.

((Open to Fred))

6 Sides | Draw the Line

The New Digs [10 Apr 2005|01:05am]

[ mood | mellow ]

"Fuck the guilt, Wes. Who said I had any to begin with?"

It had taken all my might to keep from laughing in her face. As if anyone in the entire damn world, Angel included, could understand the mind of the black sheep sitting beside me as the car barrelled down the 101 freeway, headed back to Los Angeles. She may not know the specifics of just how things had come to be the way they were, but that wasn't important just yet. I'd gotten her in the car. That was the first step.

We'd stopped at a fast food joint-- In'n'Out Burger, Faith's insistence-- at which Faith proceeded to order the most appallingly large cheeseburger I'd ever seen, a double order of french fries and a massive chocolate milkshake. The food seemed to suit her mood, as it kept us from having to argue further for at least another half hour.

After her meal, Faith promptly went to sleep, again ending any chance of my further convincing her to my side. Fair enough, I thought, and continued driving in silence, organising my thoughts and preparing for any arguments Faith might make.

I considered for a long time just why I'd approached Lilah with the request that Wolfram & Hart assist me in bringing Faith into the equation. There was something about the Slayer, especially now, being back in her presence, that was important to me. What she'd done, both in Sunnydale, and then later in Los Angeles, had changed me irrevocably, and part of me wanted to thank her by setting her free.

I also knew that most everything that I fought every night was much stronger than I was, and no bullets and no gadgets would stop the inevitable moment when that would win the fight, and I would be dead. But it would be a very different story with a Slayer involved.

And if ever I needed to cross Angel directly...

Shaking off that last-ditch scenario, I continued plotting. Finally, we arrived in Los Angeles, at my apartment building. Nudging Faith awake, I nodded to her.

"We're home."

I led the Slayer up to the door and the lift, until we reached the top floor. When the State of California deemed Faith fit to release only if it were into my custody, I'd again flexed Wolfram & Hart's muscles on my landlord. Within a week, I was moved into the three-bedroom, two and bath 'luxury' apartment.

Opening the door, I ushered Faith into her new abode.

"Common areas-- living room, dining, kitchen, laundry. My office and bedroom are on the left. Your bedroom is on the right. Furnishings are sparse for the moment, but I'm sure you'll change that soon enough. You'll use the common bathroom."

I crossed the apartment, throwing my jacket onto the couch. Unlocking a bureau near the sofa, I drew out a few items which I carried over to Faith.

"Your cell phone. I won't burden you with my presence at every waking moment, but I and the court require that I know your location at all times." I handed her a credit card, with both our names on it, and a small wad of cash. "For shopping, and your first month's stipend."

With all that done, I turned and walked back across the apartment, picking my jacket up as I went toward my rooms.

"Make yourself at home."

((Open to Faith))

6 Sides | Draw the Line

Just Another Day [30 Mar 2005|09:58am]

[ mood | confused ]

Prisoner Number 430019.

It's all I'd fuckin' been for a long time.

I'd had a few visitors - mainly Angel, and one time that bitch from Wolfram & Hart who'd tried to get me to kill Angel - and that was it. So this whole parole shit? News to me. I hadn't done anything spectacular, nothing that would make them want to fucking release me early after two counts of murder.

Yet, the judge slammed that thing down hard on his desk, the lawyer representing me at my hearing from Wolfram & Hart - yeah, don't think that didn't make me fucking suspicious - shook my hand, and I was free.


See, I was now under the care of one Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, who I hadn't seen in years since I'd tortured him. Wasn't exactly looking forward to having a little chat session with him, let alone be released to him... but...

Hadn't Angel said shit about redemption? Had I redeemed enough? Done my fucking dues to society, and now... hell, maybe now it was time for me to get back into the fight. Help Angel out or something. Be a Slayer.

Only thing I'd ever really been good at anyways.

I walked out the doors, and there was good old Wes, standing right there looking - well, ok, looking quite a bit different from the last time I'd seen him.

"Hey," I said, nodding my head a bit and not really sure what was going on, with these lawyers, with him, Angel, nothing. "Time to skip the small talk, I guess."

I smirked up at him as I asked, "So, what the fuck is going on here?"

((Open to Wes))

8 Sides | Draw the Line

Lost Friends [29 Mar 2005|11:34am]

[ mood | aggravated ]

The papers hit the wall of the office with a pretty satisfying thwap. Unfortunately, that also meant that said papers went spilling and fluttering all over the floor, joining the contents of a half dozen other case files. Every one of them had to do with disappearances, and every single one of them had been explained, solved and closed.

And not a damn one of them was any use in finding Cordelia.

Everywhere I turned, I got the same answer. None of the informants had any answers. Every seer and psychic said the same thing-- "Your friend is in another place, a better place, doing a better thing. She is where she is meant to be, fulfilling her destiny."

Same thing, every time.

I leaned back in the chair, pressing my hands to my face, as if I could just will things into being different. I'd trade vampire strength and speed in a second for that power.

I'd bring Cordelia back, so we could finally figure out what we were to each other.

I'd bring Connor back, maybe even to being a baby, so I could give him the childhood he'd been denied.

And then I'd kill Wesley.

No, I wouldn't, I told myself, shaking my head. I'd try to bring him, back, too, the Wes I knew and was one of my best friends. Not the hard, cold man with the scar on his neck that I hated and pitied all at once.

And now, I heard on the street, he's working with Wolfram & Hart. Bad enough that he was screwing Lilah-- I'd hit rock bottom and had sex with Darla, so I couldn't throw that stone. But working with the enemy? Being willing to even consider it?

As far as I could tell, the Wesley I knew and trusted might as well have been dead. And it was the man who used his name, wore his face and stole my son who'd killed him.

I was still trying to wrap my brain around it when the office door opened.

((Open to Fred))

Draw the Line

Scars [29 Mar 2005|10:43am]

[ mood | awake ]

There are days when I don't remember it's there at all, but not many. Not when compared to the days when it burns, or itches, or when I turn my head and feel the short stab of pain when I pull a little too hard on it. But there isn't a single day when I can't close my eyes and remember the strange cold/hot feel of the blade against my neck.

And there are many nights when that feeling is what wakes me up hours before the alarm. Like this night.

I sat up, suddenly, hand flying to the left side of my throat. Instead of the hot, thick blood that my mind expects, there's nothing but the smooth, raised scar. Beside me, Lilah stirred, but didn't wake. We'd fucked each other into exhaustion hours ago; but even with that, I hadn't slept through a night in months.

Mind racing, knowing that I would never be able to get back to sleep any time soon, I pulled on a pair of loose cotton pyjama pants and padded out of my bedroom and into the rest of the apartment. Clicking on the desk light, I sat down and began poring through my notes once more. I'd double- and triple-checked every detail, every fact until I had been sure, and now I'd do it again.

Lilah's words echoed back to me. "I know what you're planning. Let me help you. I'm not asking you to sell your soul, just to consider that there are other ways to do things. Better ways."

Over the past three months, I'd assembled a small, but dedicated team of like-minded individuals, and we were slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the supernatural underground. To date, we'd broken two operations smuggling in arcane magical artifacts and three gangs dealing in supernatural drugs, among dozens of small-time vampires, demons... and human criminals, as well.

But it wasn't enough. I wanted to scourge the streets of the evil, and to do that, I needed more power. I needed a Slayer.

Lilah had discovered me devising a method for breaking Faith out of prison in Stockton. Ever the lawyer, ever the Wolfram & Hart go-getter, Lilah had suggested a more surreptitious route, using the firm's resources to legally have Faith released. And considering the expediency and the efficiency of the idea, I accepted.

Today, I would go to the prison and Faith would be released into my guardianship, a term the state of California had insisted upon. And then, the hardest part-- convincing Faith that she belonged in the fight, doing the job she was born to do, and that she should be doing so with me.

She was like me, I mused. We weren't the Champions, chosen by Fate for great deeds and heroism.

No. We were just the ones who could get the goddamn job done.

I took a sip from the flask of whiskey I kept in the top drawer of the desk, clicked off the light, and returned to the bedroom. Lilah was awake, watching me. I stripped off the pants, shoved her back onto the bed and slid between her legs.

There wasn't a doubt that I'd be able to tire myself enough to sleep again. Maybe this time, though, I won't dream.

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