This layout was created by
Author's Note: No B/A love scene in this one unusually, but this one didn't seem to require it. I have moved things a season again in the cannon, you'll see what and why, as it fitted more with the series. Some lines have been borrowed from Sleep Tight and Home. And Roisin, in case you've never seen Lynda La Plante Trial & Retribution, is pronounced Rosheen. Enjoy.
Latin for Goodbye.
"I fell so far - a light went out in my heart."
Buffy came downstairs just in time to hear the line of the song. It made
her hand travel to her neck, and touch the necklace she had worn for seventeen
days; a delicate platinum chain attached to a key and the letter D. The only memories
she carried now were of that year she had fought Glory and the last day she had
seen the 'girl' that the Powers That Be had made her sister. Yet she still felt
the loss almost as deeply as if Dawn had been her sibling.
gone - now I'm left alone in the dark."
She reached the ground
floor of the Lobby and found Wesley behind the reception desk, sorting through
watcher books. Giles had been sending them over ever since his decision to return
to England became final.
He looked up as she came towards him. "Morning.
"In the shower," Buffy answered. "He'll
be down in a minute." She turned to glance at the doors which led to the
central courtyard. "Who is that singing?" She asked.
is seeing a client in the garden," Wesley answered.
good," Buffy remarked, before walking outside to join them.
soul is aching..." the woman with long blonde hair continued, before pausing
as Buffy came to join them. "Who are you?"
Summers," the slayer replied. "One of Lorne's colleagues. Go on."
The singer turned to Lorne. "Do you see anything?"
see you're plenty scared," the Host answered. "It's alright. Keep going."
She returned to playing her guitar. "My heart is breaking..."
Inside Wesley closed the book he had been studying, put it away in the
shelves behind him, and turned to another.
"Are you crazy? It's
the best state in the Union!"
Wesley looked up to see Fred coming
down the stairs, mobile by her ear.
"What's wrong with Texas?"
She continued into the handset. "Texas doesn't hate the black man. Texas
loves the black man. Well, most of Texas. Anyone with a brain. What's so great
To his surprise the head of Angel Investigations
heard the response, as the entrance opened to reveal Gunn, talking to his cellphone.
"Everything," he replied. "It's got the climate, the ocean..."
"The earth that opens up and swallows you whole," Fred countered.
"The Lakers, the music," Gunn reminded her.
traffic, the smog," Fred pointed out as they walked towards each other across
the Lobby floor.
"It's got you," Gunn said as they came face
Fred closed her cell and smiled at him. "Okay. You win.
"Hi," Gunn returned the smile.
to see you're using the company phones for such important calls," Wesley
remarked, breaking up the romantic moment.
"Did you want me to
pay for that?" Gunn replied, holding up his mobile.
guys?" Buffy said, popping herself briefly round the doors of the courtyard.
"I think there's something you should... Ah, can you come here for a sec?"
The three caught the expression on her face and hurriedly joined her outside.
"Everybody, this is my friend, Kim," Lorne began. "It's
alright," he added to the singer, "They're professionals. Just take
it from the chorus, hmm?"
"My heart is breaking - in two.
No love, no light left - no you..." her face suddenly morphed into that of
a demon. "I'll hack your eyeballs out and rip your children in two!"
Kim stopped at this line and her face returned to normal. Lorne leapt from
his seat to hug her as she burst into tears.
"It's okay. I got ya. It's all right. It's okay." He looked up at the shocked expressions of the team. "Catchy finish, huh?"
Angel had emerged from upstairs by the time Lorne and the group had managed to
calm Kim down and lead her back inside. The Fang Gang crowded into Wesley's office,
where the Englishman handed the singer a freshly brewed cup of tea.
is good, people," Lorne assured them. "She came to see me a couple of
"He put me on my true path," Kim informed
"She was throwing her life away in medical school, when
she should have been a singer," Lorne added.
Gunn commented, mystified. "Who needs more doctors in the world when you
can have singing demons?"
"Well, the demon part - is new,"
Kim added, before taking another sip of tea.
"She hooked up with
this band a couple of weeks ago and..." Lorne turned to her, letting her
finish the story.
"They were mellow - organic types. They never
touched drugs or played a diminished chord."
the quiet ones," Buffy remarked.
"Um, then they started changing.
Stevie, the lead guitar, grew a seventh finger like overnight."
"Well, he already had six. I just thought..."
Kim sighed. "I don't really know what I thought. And Raw, the drummer, suddenly
sprouted that spiny thing on his back..... And they started playing this beyond
industrial trash noise funk day and night. And then it happened to me. You saw
it. Am I gonna turn into that?"
"No," Wesley remarked,
looking up from the microscope, where he and Fred had been studying Kim's saliva.
"You're human. They're not. What's happening to you isn't permanent. It's
just an infection."
"Which you can get rid of by taking twenty
milligrams of Cylenthium powder twice a day for a month," Fred added.
"Mystical antibiotic," Lorne explained. "I'll get you some."
Fred held up the slide sample. "I thought your saliva was suspect.
Under the microscope it showed traces of Penloxia."
Lorne uttered in understanding. "They're Wraith-ers."
"Demons that can make themselves look human - for a time," Wesley explained, as he flicked through one of the Demonology volumes on his desk.
"Here," he added, showing Kim and the team an illustration.
"Ten days, two weeks, then they revert to what they really are."
"I wonder why they would wanna look like musicians?" Gunn queried.
"This is L.A." Buffy reminded him. "It's either that or
"Where are they right now?" Angel asked her.
"In a rehearsal space," Kim informed them. "It's an old
loading dock behind the Shop 'n' Go in Echo park."
warrior turned to his boss. "Wes?"
"You'll have to kill
them. It's the only thing you can do with Wraith-ers," the head of A.I remarked,
closing the volume on the entry which covered them.
Angel asked her.
"Three," Kim replied.
turned to the team. "Buffy, Angel and Gunn, with one more to handle any groupies.
I'll stay here, I still have a lot of books to sort through."
The slayer nodded and turned round, leading the team out of the office to collect weapons before heading out.
"I hate your zit-face smile, that's why I'll cut you it in two, and when
I'm done with you, I'll throw your mother, brother, sister, uncle and your little
The sound of glass shattering as a trash can torpedoed
into the room, followed by the rapid entrance of the slayer, Angel, Gunn and Fred.
Buffy and Gunn were carrying crossbows, while Angel held one of his board-swords.
Fred hung back, looking about for any potential hostages.
One of the band members cried. "You're paying for that window."
"No, I'm not," Gunn replied.
"Wait, are you the
'A' and 'R' guys?" The drummer queried. "This isn't even the whole band.
We got a killer chick who sings!" He caught sight of the slayer and Fred.
"Hey, Girls! Hey, don't worry about the window, Holmes."
not the 'A' and 'R' guys," Angel informed them. "We're just here to
"Ah, dude, they wanna kill us," the drummer
"Okay. But they're still paying for the window,"
the singer insisted.
The drummer stared at the slayer. "I got
first ride on the hottie."
He leapt off the stage, heading straight
for the slayer. But Buffy was ready for him. She land punch on his face, followed
by a kick to abdomen, sending him flying backwards.
Gunn gestured to
the groupies, who were screaming. "Get them out of here!" He asked his
girlfriend before leaping into the fray.
"Be careful," Fred
advised him before taking hold of the two girls and ushering them out.
and Gunn aimed their crossbows, while Angel held his sword at the ready. The Wraith-ers
began to back away.
"Oh, come on! Take it like a demon,"
Gunn remarked, before shooting one of them in the throat.
their Elvis has left the building," Buffy remarked before firing her crossbow.
"Its time for their swan song," Angel added before they launched into the fray.
"So, Sammy's at the Flamingo, and Frank, Dino, Peter, Joey, and Shirley are
all front row centre," Lorne was saying to Kim and a faintly distracted Wesley
as they as the quartet returned to Angel Investigations an hour or so later.
"Well, Sammy starts singing 'I Did It My Way' then he stops and says
'I can't sing this song in front of you, Frank.' The crowd loves it. They're laughing.
Ha, ha, ha, ha. So, then Frank calls out 'hey, you're short, you're one-eyed,
and I heard somewhere you're Jewish. Don't be intimidated!' The crowd goes wild!"
He turned to glance at the four. "So, how'd it go?"
Wraith-ers are no more," Gunn announced as put the crossbows and sword back
in the weapons cabinet.
"Anything happen while we were out?"
Buffy asked Wesley, joining him at the reception desk.
the Englishman replied, putting another book on one of the shelves. "It's
been oddly quiet."
The door opened just then, causing Gunn to
turn to him. "You had to say it, didn't you?"
For once however,
fate was being kind to them, as Giles stepped into the Lobby. "Hello everyone."
Buffy jumped down from the desk and walked over to hug him. "We didn't
expect you so soon. How was the wedding?" She asked.
event," Giles replied. "Instead of 'I do,' it was 'I don't.'"
"Anya said no?" Buffy sought to confirm.
his head. "Xander. He received a visit from a Seer, who gave him a vision
of an unhappy future if he and Anya married. However, it was really D'Hoffryn."
"D'Hoffryn?" Fred queried.
"Anya's old boss when
she was a vengeance demon," Buffy explained before turning back to Giles.
"So why did he trick Xander?"
"He wanted Anyanka back.
By the time the charade was discovered, the damage was done. Xander refused to
see that the future wasn't set in stone, and nothing Anya said could sway him
otherwise. She disappeared after the service. I followed her and found out she
had accepted D'Hoffryn's offer. She's demon again."
rampaging Sunnydale?" Buffy asked, shivering as she recalled what happened
the last time she had encountered the patron demon of scorned women.
oddly enough. She met up with one of her vengeance demon colleagues and left the
"How's Xander taking it?"
hurting." Giles looked at her. "I think he finally understands what
its like to lose someone you love."
Buffy nodded. "What
about the others?"
"Willow and Tara are helping him as much
as he will let them," Giles informed her. "We then discovered however
that Warren, Andrew and Jonathon put the Magic Shop under surveillance, so finding
them has managed to take their minds off everything else." He paused before
adding, "I signed the lease over to them yesterday."
piece of news caused the slayer to wrap her arms around him again. "I'm going
to miss you," she uttered into his sweater.
Giles kissed her hair
before returning the sentiment. "As will I you. You've been so much more
than a slayer to me," he added, making her look up, to see his eyes glistening
with tears. "You've been the daughter I always wanted."
sure you come back in plenty of time for the wedding," Buffy managed to say
through her own choked voice. "You've always been the father I yearned for."
Giles nodded as he reluctantly let go of her, and went to shake Angel's
hand. To the warrior's surprise he briefly hugged him as well. "Take care
of her," he said.
"I will," Angel promised, before letting
Wesley was next, followed by Fred, Gunn and Lorne, who each
exchanged a brief hug and handshake, before the ex-watcher returned to slayer
once more for a final goodbye.
"Let me know when you fixed a date,"
he asked her before leaving the Hyperion.
Angel took his fiancee into
his arms, silently offering her comfort. The rest of the team glanced at each
other in silent confabulation.
"Why don't you two take the rest
of the day off," Wesley suggested. "No one's called in and there's only
the books to sort out."
Buffy looked up from Angel's shoulder
and was about to answer, when the doors opened once more. She turned around in
his arms, then abruptly parted from him to fall into her first attack position
of choice; legs slightly apart, hands on hips.
remarked in greeting, his tone of voice anything but a welcome.
Lilah Morgan returned. "Wesley. Winifred. Charles. And Miss Summers. I don't
believe we've had the pleasure. Although there was that time when you shot a piece
of lead piping through the son of one of our most valued clients."
are you doing here, Lilah?" Angel asked her. "What's your game?"
"No game," Lilah shrugged and sat down on the oval sofa. "In
fact, game over. Guess what? You win, which is why I'm here. I have been authorised
to make you kids an offer."
"You can't possibly think there's
anything we'd want from you," Wesley remarked.
merely leant back and crossed her legs. "I don't think you'll want it, but
you'll take it, because this is the offer of a lifetime."
A few minutes later, and there was a less calm and collected group that stood before the lawyer from Los Angeles only demonic practice. Actually, the six were sitting down on chairs they had sought from their offices, after finding they needed the support of furniture in order to deal with this shock.
at one another uncomfortably, it was Gunn who decided to break the stunned silence
"You want to run that by us one more time?" He asked.
"What was unclear?" Lilah asked.
"I think the
part where you offered us Wolfram & Hart," Fred replied.
the entire company," Lilah corrected. "Just the L.A. Branch."
Lorne chuckled. "Just the L.A. Branch. Hi, from another dimension,
what the hell does that mean?"
"Means we give. You win. We're
moving out. The senior partners are ceding this territory to you, and to prove
it, they want to give you controlling interest in our L.A. Office. You get the
building, assets, personnel, letterhead, paper clips, all of it. It's yours to
do with as you see fit."
"You want to give us your evil law
firm?" Buffy sought to confirm.
"We ain't lawyers,"
"Or evil," Fred answered. "Currently."
"What we're offering you is a turnkey, state-of-the-art, multitasking
operation. What you do with it, well, that's up to you."
"Well, I thought that was obvious. You earned it.
Think of it as a reward."
"Reward for what?" Buffy queried.
"Coming back from the dead. Becoming human. Sabotaging every one of our plans." Lilah rose up and walked towards the door. "Think about our proposal. If anyone's interested and wants the grand tour, there'll be a limo waiting outside just before dawn."
"She was serious, wasn't she?" Buffy wondered aloud as she stared at
the swinging entrance doors.
"Seemed to be," Wesley replied,
rising from his seat and returning to the pile of books behind the reception desk.
"We're not taking the offer though, are we?" Angel sought to
"Hell no," his fiancee uttered before walking up
to the weapons cabinet. She took out one of the cross bolts and began walking
in the direction of the basement. "I feel the need to do some training."
Angel took out a couple of swords and followed her. "Mind if I join
"Not at all."
The four left glanced
at each silently before the next member chose to depart.
gonna go and look over a few design plans for Caritas," Lorne said, heading
to the stairs and his temporary accommodation while the club underwent repairs.
"I've gotta call a friend," Fred remarked before walking to her
Gunn glanced at Wesley, waiting for the Englishman to catch
his eye. The Head of Angel Investigations closed the book he had been studying
and rose up from his seat to file the tome away.
He asked Gunn.
"Can't help thinking it might be an idea to explore
the a turnkey, state-of-the-art, multitasking operational corporation on offer,"
"You can't possibly think that's an option,"
"Well, now I know it's an option, 'cause I was
standing here when Lilah offered it to us." Gunn leaned on the desk.
"It's a trap. This has Faustian deal written all over it," Wes
"I agree, it looks like that," Gunn said, "but I also think that if we refuse without checking out the merchandise first, we'll be making a mistake."
The rest of the day passed. At nightfall the team of Angel Investigations retired,
unconsciously all choosing to spend the night at the Hyperion, so they did not
have far to travel when they woke at dawn.
Fred believed herself to
be the first to rise. As the she exited the Lobby however, she realised she was
"I don't know how long it's been here," Wesley remarked,
after silently turning to acknowledge her presence. "Since before I arrived."
"I thought I'd be the only one," Fred admitted.
thought for sure I wouldn't be," Wesley confided, "although I wasn't
expecting it to be you."
"I just figured... well, if they
are up to something....."
"We should know what it is,"
Gunn finished as he walked out of the shadows.
"Well, we three,"
"Looks like," Gunn agreed.
are the odds the humans would be the most corruptible?" The Englishman asked
"Maybe we should just go back inside," Fred
said, while her body began walking to the car. "What if this does turn out
to be a trap?"
"Yeah, but what if it doesn't?" Gunn
countered. "All we're gonna do is take the tour."
nodded. "We go into this with our eyes open and our wits about us. There
shouldn't be any....."
"Surprises?" A voice finished,
making them jump.
"Jesus, you two," Gunn said by way of greeting
as the slayer and chosen warrior emerged from the shadow of the pillars by the
car. "We were nowhere near prepared for that."
don't need to tell us," Buffy uttered before opening the door of the limousine.
Then it was her turn to jump as the car revealed a passenger. "What the hell?"
"So it's an evil limo," Lorne was saying to the driver. "I
get that, but does that mean we don't restock the cherries?" He laughed,
noticed the draught and turned to the others. "Hi. I was just checking the
vehicle for traps."
"Make room," Buffy remarked, smiling.
The car and driver dropped them off outside the entrance. After glancing at each
other and silently voting for their boss to go first, the team walked up the steps
and into the spacious lobby of Wolfram & Hart; Attorneys at Law.
waiting for them by the front reception desk was five men and women in business
suits, with Lilah at the head.
"Well, you've all made it,"
she said, smiling and stepping forward to greet them. "What a shock. We've
got a lot of ground to cover, so best we get started. Let me introduce you to
"Guides?" Angel queried. "Separate
"Of course. There are six of you, all with specific
interests, unique areas of expertise. Seemed the most efficient way of doing this.
Prioritise and personalise."
Buffy folded her arms. "Divide
and conquer, you mean," she said wryly.
"Oh, you're so cynical."
"We don't split up," Wesley remarked. "We came here together,
we're gonna take the tour together. Right, guys?"
After a measured
thoughtful pause, there was reluctant agreement from the others.
if we wanted to harm you, we'd have blown up the limo, right?" Lilah pointed
out. Receiving silence in reply, she turned and beckoned forward a man pushing
a metal cart full of guns. "If you prefer to be armed during your stay here,
we'd have no objections," she explained. "Just because we've tried to
kill or corrupt each and every one of you at one time or another doesn't mean
we can't be trusted."
"She's right," Wesley conceded.
"We've made deals with them before. They are honourable in their way. I doubt
we'll be in any danger."
"She was right about the limo,"
Fred picked up one of the large, semiautomatics. "I
think we'll be okay."
Lilah gestured to one of the guides to come
forward. "Lorne, Preston will show you around our entertainment division."
"Hi, big fan," the man, attired in a business suit with a vivid
purple shirt began, coming forward to shake Lorne's hands. "Huge. Love your
work." After the Host had accepted his shake, Preston brought out the pile
of papers he had under his arm. "I had this prepared. Confidential list.
Peepers only. Thought you might want to take a gander at our roster. Just a rundown
of some of the talent we represent here."
"Uh, no, no, no,
no," Lorne remarked. "I don't think you have to tell me what you represent
here, young man. I know. Evil. Pure evil in the......"
flipped the list open, allow him to see the names.
Lorne added after a moment. "Which is also apparently everyone I've always
wanted to meet."
"Follow me," Preston said.
waited for the two to exit before she brought the next guide forward. "Wesley
Wyndam-Pryce, Rutherford Sirk. I think you'll find you two have a lot in common."
"It's a pleasure," Rutherford uttered after shaking Wesley's
hand. "Shall we?"
Wesley glanced at him for a moment, then
followed him out of the lobby.
Lilah gestured for one of the women
to come forward. "Charles Gunn, Lacey Shepard. I think you'll find you two
have nothing in common."
Lacey, with looks and a figure to match
her name, shook Gunn's hand. "This way, Chuck."
not gonna try to corrupt me, are you?" Gunn asked her with a grin.
dream of it," Lacey assured him in a tone that implied anything but what
she had just said.
"Good, because my girl's a physicist and she
could probably kill you very easily," Gunn said, before allowing the woman
to lead him away.
"Knox," Lilah remarked, calling forward
a man wearing a crisp white lab coat. "This is Fred Burkle."
Knox said nervously to her.
"Knox is the star of our Science Division,"
"Oh!" Fred uttered, immediately interested.
"Nice to meet you."
"You, too," Knox replied nervously.
"Well, this, um, should be... fun."
agreed before following him out of the Lobby.
Lilah brought forward
the final guide, another woman, roughly the same age as the slayer, only with
dark brown hair. "Roisin Winter, Buffy Summers."
Roisin remarked, holding out her hand. "I've heard many things about you."
"Have you?" Buffy queried, shaking it.
is, you might say, a sister of sorts," Lilah revealed cryptically.
nodded before following the woman out of the Lobby.
Angel glanced at
Lilah and saw there was nobody else. "How did I guess?" He remarked
as she smiled at him.
"Yep, just you and me." Lilah gestured before her. "Come on, Charlie. Let me show you around the chocolate factory."
"Pretty slick," Gunn commented as he followed his guide over a walkway
that commanded a view of the Lobby below.
"What is?" Lacey
"You know, giving each of us our own little tour. It's
a good way to isolate Angel."
"Is that what we're doing?"
Lacey queried as they passed some office cubicles.
be a big coup bringing Angel over to the dark side. Ex Vampire with a soul, champion.
It's gonna look good on anyone's letterhead."
"Why do you
assume Angel is our priority?" Lacey countered.
Gunn looked at
her sceptically. "You telling me he isn't?"
Lacey conceded. "Though you each possess gifts we feel would be useful."
"Well, I see what the others got, Buffy's the slayer, Fred's big brain,
Cordelia's premonitions, Wes' training, Lorne's mind-reading thing. Guess I just
don't know what you guys expect me to do around..." he trailed off as they
passed a door marked Security. "Here. Though I think maybe I'm starting to
figure it out. Yeah, bet I'd look real smart in one of them blazers."
Lacey smiled. "Oh, I'm sure you would, but we have much grander plans
for you, Mr. Gunn."
"You do? Grander?" Gunn felt his
interest level rising.
Lacey halted outside the elevators. "Let's go upstairs."
"So are you a lawyer?" Fred asked her guide as they walked down a hallway.
"'Cause you don't look like a lawyer."
"No, I'm strictly
R & D," Knox replied. "Although, occasionally, some D & D. Dungeons
and dragons. We actually have a dungeon. I can show it to you later if....."
he trailed off. "I manage the Science Division."
seem pretty young to be a head of a whole Science Division."
I'm not the head. I just manage it for the department head, which, I guess, you
know, would be you."
Fred's eyes widened in shock. "Wait.
She trailed off as Knox led her inside a large room.
It was full of people conducting all manner of experiments.
impressed despite herself. "Wow."
"I know. Everything
modern technology has to offer, right at your fingertips. Everything's state of
the art, cutting edge."
Fred picked up a hand held computer off
one of the desks.
Knox smiled proudly. "That's one of my creations."
"You might want to get out of the lab more. Personal organisers
have been around for a while. Not that it's not a nice Palm Pilot."
opened the lid of the device. "Yeah, I'll bet your buddy Matthew Partney
at 6200 Crestwood Boulevard in Lubbock, Texas, would agree." He showed her
Fred read the telephone number and gasped. "Hey, how'd
you know about Matt?"
"Hacks into any electronic device within
100 yards. I patched in to your cell phone's address book."
like the MacGyver of Wolfram & Hart."
Knox chuckled. "You're not wrong. I can make practically anything out of a fully equipped, multi-million dollar lab."
In another part of the building, Wesley followed his guide into a large but fairly
empty library. Every wall was lined with vacant bookshelves and in the centre
of the room, a wide lectern stood, with a selection of leatherbound volumes upon
"Our ancient prophecies wing," Rutherford informed him.
"Looks as if your wing's been clipped," Wesley remarked.
"Appearances can be deceiving. It's actually the most comprehensive
collection of prophecy archives to be found anywhere. Choose something to read.
Go on, anything at all. Something rare."
Wesley looked at him
for a moment, then shrugged, conceding to curiosity. "All right. The Devandire
Rutherford did not become decomposed. "Translated
I will." Rutherford picked up the book and whispered to it. "Devandire
Codex, Sanskrit." He handed the book to Wesley.
Wes took it and
opened it, silently gasping as the seemingly blank pages filled themselves with
the appropriate text.
"The, template you're holding provides access
to anything stored in the firm's locked archives relating to prophecies, omens,
revelations and so on," Rutherford informed him.
the book and resumed his previous pokerfaced expression. "Impressive. And
does the Watcher's Council know you stole the only known copy of the codex when
you left them?"
"They were in chaos when Miss Summers died
again," Rutherford replied. "I figured it was time to take a sabbatical."
"So you opted to, what, play for the other side? Cross the line?"
"These are complicated times. Lines become blurry. How did you know?"
"Something about Watchers and......" Wesley suddenly struck out,
punching Rutherford in the face, rendering him unconscious. "Libraries."
Wesley checked no one was in sight outside the room, then raised his arm to the ceiling. Out of his sleeve shot a tripwire, strong enough to carry his weight. After waiting for it to anchor itself in the ceiling, he began to climb.
"In case Lilah wasn't clear, I'm a slayer," Roisin informed her companion.
"I gathered," Buffy said. "So, are you about to tell me
that the Watcher's Council is really your legal firm?"
its not like that at all," Roisin answered. "After you died, sacrificing
yourself to protect the Key, I was called. When Mr Giles informed the Council
that you were alive, they were in chaos. Mr Sirk, Mr Wyndam-Pryce's guide, was
my watcher. He received a job offer from Wolfram & Hart, and asked me if I
wanted to come with him. When Ms Morgan phoned me with an offer just for me, it
seemed too good to refuse."
"Didn't you realise you were
making a deal with the devil?" Buffy asked her.
I ran into one of their 'fanged' clients," Roisin admitted. "But when
I confronted them, they backed off. Allowed me to set my own agenda for working
here. I'd earned an law degree from Cambridge and passed the state bar. I figured
this was the best offer I could get."
"Didn't fancy explaining
the need for flexibility to other less corrupted legal firms?" Buffy guessed.
"Exactly," Roisin confirmed with a smile.
what's the sell?" Buffy asked her. "Come and train the recruits? Steal
other potential slayers over the dark side?"
only me," Roisin smiled. "I could use your experience."
I may be no lawyer, but I certainly have plenty of that," Buffy said, smiling
"Perhaps we can teach you things as well," Roisin remarked.
"Allow you the chance to choose and train for a career."
vocation I want?" Buffy sought to confirm.
"Any vocation you want," Roisin affirmed as she stopped before an elevator. "Come upstairs and I'll show you what I mean."
"Money, clothes, women. Did I mention we have a juice bar?"
looked at Lilah. "Is that why you brought us here? To play 'Let's Make an
Lilah grinned. "'Show him what's behind door
number one, Bob.'" She opened the door before them, revealing a very large
office. "I know it's not much," she added, "but the Taj Mahal was
a bit of a commute."
"What, am I supposed to swoon?"
Angel queried. "It's an office."
"With your own private
elevator," Lilah remarked, as she pressed a button on the wall and the doors
slid back. "Care to take it for a spin?"
gonna do? Drop me in a vat of boiling water?"
"I was pushing
for that, but they went with the motor pool. Figured you'd like to stay mobile,
what with all that rushing out to save the day you're so fond of."
but I already have a car."
"Now you have 12."
am I gonna do with 12 cars?"
"Anything you want. That's the
point, or haven't you been listening?"
Angel smiled. "I have,
and, I'm done now." He turned and began to head out of the office.
I forgot to show you the best part." she pressed another button. "You're
gonna love this." The window blinds swished back to reveal the sunshine.
"Necro-tempered glass. The whole building's fitted with it. Helps keep those
uplifting, wholesome rays from deadly sunburn and 30% more energy efficient. Feels
even better when you're naked. I could turn around."
his arms. "Close it."
"Promise I won't peek. Well, maybe
just a skosh."
"Close it, Lilah."
and obliged. "Goodbye, Mr. Sunshine. Hello, gloomy avenger."
that goodbye. On behalf of my boss, I'm not taking the job."
you accept this offer, you will be the boss. And it's not a job," Lilah insisted.
"It's an opportunity."
"Ooh, an opportunity to be part
of the problem."
"If that's what you choose."
"Again, your choice. Think of what you can
do with the resources of Wolfram & Hart at your fingertips, the difference
that would make. Nothing in this world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh,
and it's cruel, but that's why there's you, Angel. You live as if the world were
as it should be. With all this, you can make it that way. People don't need an
unyielding champion. They need a man who knows the value of compromise and how
to beat the system from inside the belly of the beast."
beast's belly?" Angel echoed. "Doesn't that usually mean you've been
"Maybe." Lilah grinned. "While you've been
namby-pambying around for the past 90 seconds, 6 innocent people have died. Oh,
but don't worry. There's always 6,000 more just around the corner."
and my friends will be leaving now."
"One time offer only,
Angel. Walk out that door, deal's off. Stay, and it's all yours."
"People like you, this place, that's what's wrong with the world, Lilah. I will never be a part of this. Not the way you're hoping." He walked up to her. "Now, let me tell you what the deal's gonna be."
"This is the longest damn elevator ride I ever took," Gunn remarked.
"How big is this place?"
Lacey made no response, other than
glancing at him, then at her watch. "It's time," she uttered finally.
Gunn turned to her, as a feeling of dread overcame him. "Time for
Lacey directed his gaze to the level panel, where another
button, placed above all the rest, suddenly appeared. She pressed it.
are we going?" Gunn asked her.
"The answers you seek lie
within the room," Lacey replied.
"Only thing I seek is the
lobby," Gunn informed, pressing the button in question to no avail. "And
here I am thinking I was getting seduced. Well, I'm getting screwed all..."
He trailed off as the elevators doors opened and bathed the shaft in a brilliant
Gunn stepped forward, blinking until his eyes adjusted.
He glanced nervously around the room. "Right. Come on, you got the wrong
guy in here. This room's for the big....." he paused as he heard the sound
of growling. "Cats."
A black panther came towards him. Gunn
turned to Lacey, who was standing well back. "What is this?" He asked
"Your education," Lacey replied as the lift opened again.
"Buffy?" Gunn cried as he saw her and her guide in the elevator.
"Get out of here, this is a trap."
The slayer smiled. "Don't
worry, Gunn." She struck out, punching Lacey, sending her to the floor, then
Roisin. "I've got it covered." She held out her hand.
grabbed it and leapt back into the elevator shaft. Buffy closed the doors and
took a knife out of her jacket lining. She knelt down and cut through the floor,
revealing the elevator tunnel.
"Wesley's meeting us on the next
level," Buffy explained, before pointing her arm down through the hole.
Gunn smiled and followed suit. The trip wires shot out of their sleeves
and down the tunnel, anchoring themselves to the wall just above the next entrance.
Carefully the two of them descended.
When they reached the doors leading to the floor below, Buffy knocked twice, signalling
to Wesley who helped her to make them open. He reached out and pulled them into
the empty corridor.
"So what was in your guide's closet?"
He asked them.
"A slayer," Buffy answered. "Your guide's
charge. Where is he, by the way?"
"Unconscious in the Ancient
Prophecies Wing." Wesley showed them book he was carrying under his arm.
"I'm hoping this will work outside the building."
idea what was in that white room?" Gunn asked them.
white room? That's where they took you?" Wesley queried.
Buffy answered. "We had to escape from this panther, of all things."
"From what I heard about it, the last person who went in there, has
been in an asylum ever since," Wesley informed them as they walked down the
corridor. "What did they tell you it going to do?"
didn't," Gunn replied. "All they said was about finding us careers.
Grander plans and all that."
"Heard from Angel yet?"
Buffy asked Wesley.
"He sent me a text just after I got yours,
asking us to meet him, Fred and Lorne in the Lobby. The plan succeeded, apparently."
The three turned the corner and reached the fire exit. Cautiously they
descended the stairs until they reached the ground floor.
was waiting for them, with a annoyed Lilah standing behind him. Buffy hugged her
fiancee, then stepped back and looked around.
"Fred and Lorne?"
"On their way," Lilah answered curtly.
are we agreed?" Wesley asked Angel.
"Yes," Angel confirmed.
"We get all the resources we choose; the books, prophecies and other archived
information. We also get our pick of who we judge good employees. In return Wolfram
and Hart move out of L.A. and never trouble us again."
was your plan all along, wasn't it?" Lilah asked Wesley, outraged.
moment you offered us the deal, we knew that we could not accept your terms,"
the Englishman confirmed. "So we discussed it and decided what we could take
from you without being corrupted."
"I would have like to
see you explain this to those Senior Partners," Buffy revealed, grinning
at Lilah. "But we have a lot do."
agreed as Fred and Lorne came towards them. "We must be going now, Lilah.
We will contact you and let you know exactly what we want."
nice knowing you," Wesley added before they all walked out into the city.
Not until they had stepped inside the Lobby of the Hyperion did the team relax
and noticeably breathe sighs of relief. None of them had been entirely sure that
the plan they had agreed upon the night before would work, even when they put
it into operation. Good had prevailed however, and they were back where they should
be, victory achieved.
The slayer turned from her fiancee to her boss.
"Who's calling Cordy and Groo?" She asked him.
do it," Wesley informed her. "Tomorrow. I think we all need to get some
"Do you think all our guides were corrupt?"
Fred asked him.
"Not all, perhaps," Wesley replied. "But
Lilah and Rutherford I wouldn't trust as far as Buffy or Angel could throw them."
"I liked Roisin," Buffy revealed. "I think we ought to ask
her to join. That's if she'll forgive me for punching her."
can call her tomorrow," Angel said, wrapping his arm around her. "For
now, let's go to bed."
"Let's," Buffy agreed, allowing him to lead her to the stairs. "Because I have a feeling that the end of Wolfram and Hart L.A Branch, means a lot of cleaning up for us."
To Be Continued In