As promised, Angel returned to the prison first thing in the morning. When he arrived at the infirmary and signed in as a visitor, a guard made his way over to Angel and lightly tapped him on the shoulder.
Angel turned to face the uniformed man.
"Excuse me, Mr.Lehane?"
"Sir, the Warden has requested that you come to his office for a meeting. Now that you're here, your sister will be taken there to join in as well."
"Oh," Angel replied, somewhat apprehensive as to what the warden wanted. "Okay. Well, is my sister stable enough to be moved? I can carry her if . . ."
The guard quickly interrupted with an amused laugh.
"No, Sir, that won't be necessary. She's stable at the moment and will be able to stand a short trip in a wheelchair. So, if you'll just follow me?" The guard began to walk down the corridor, looking over his shoulder just to make sure that Angel was in tow.
A short walk and several security checkpoints later, Angel and the guard arrived at a large mahogany door. A second guard had seen them approaching and spoke into an intercom announcing their arrival.
"Warden Drake is expecting you. Please go in," the second guard announced, pointing to the mahogany door.
Angel nodded and made his was to the door, knocking gently before entering.
"Enter," he heard a voice on the other side of the door command.
Angel walked into the office and was surprised by what he saw before him. The room looked more like a library or a study than an office. Bookshelves lined all four walls, except for one area where there was a small fireplace. Pictures and framed certificates sat upon some of the shelves, while books and odd little trinkets and gadgets sat upon others.
Out of the corner of his eye, Angel caught a glimpse of someone sitting near the Warden at the fireplace.
"Faith," Angel uttered and he quickly stepped over to her.
She turned her head to him and smiled. "Hey. Good to see ya, Angel."
"How are you feeling? Did you have any more episodes? You look better," he lied. She was looking very pale and . . . fragile? Tired? Weak? Something he had never really seen on her before.
"Thanks. Yeah, I got through the night just fine. No nightmares, no pain. No nothing, really. Just sleep. I almost forgot what that was like."
At this point, the Warden stood up and held out his hand to Angel, who returned the gesture in a strong handshake.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am warden Julius Drake."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Angel." He looked to Faith, who was giving him a funny look. "Oh! Lehane. Angel Lehane. Yep, that's me. Faith's brother, Angel Lehane. No middle name. You know, because . . . Mom and Dad . . . didn't like any," he babbled nervously.
"Ah, yes, of course," Drake replied, his English accent very thick. He continued. "So, that would make you her . . . older brother, yes?"
In a nervous gesture, Angel shot his gaze to Faith, who nodded very inconspicuously. Both were a little nervous, knowing that they could potentially be caught in a lie.
"Yep, I'm her older brother. That would make her . . . younger."
All three remained quiet for a few moments. Faith closed her eyes and shook her head, in disbelief that Angel was doing such a shitty job lying.
Drake finally broke the awkward silence.
"How many years apart are the two of you?" he asked, obviously trying to dig a little deeper.
"Oh, you know. A few," Angel answered vaguely and laughed nervously.
"Yes, well I believe that two-plus centuries is a tad bit more that a few," Drake answered very matter-of-factly, a mischievous grin playing upon his lips.
Both Angel and Faith stared at the man with shocked expressions on their faces. How could he possible know about Angel? More importantly, if he knew about Angel, then did he know about Faith? And demons? And all of that other mumbo-jumbo?
If so, what did that make him?
Angel's wide-opened mouth quickly bent up into a nervous half-smile. He tried to cover.
"What? That's just . . . impossible. Because . . . you know, umm, humans . . . including me! . . . life expectancy, not that long . . ." he stammered.
Warden Drake just looked on amused as Angel spoke, a slight smile upon his face.
By this point, Angel knew he was busted, so he just gave up.
". . . and . . . I don't really look over 200, do I?"
At that, Drake chuckled aloud and Faith rolled her eyes.
"No, Angel, I don't believe that you look a day over . . . 27? 28?" he replied lightheartedly.
Angel, Faith, and Warden Drake were now sitting around the fireplace with only a small amount of the earlier tension remaining in the room. Angel decided to get to the bottom of things.
"So, would you mind telling me exactly how you know about me, Warden Drake?"
"I am aware of many things, Angel. I am aware that you are a vampire, formerly known as Angelus, and that you are now ensouled and on a quest for redemption. I am aware that Miss Lehane here is a Slayer, one of two, actually. A truly rare occurrence by any standard. I am aware that you have aided the Slayers and the Powers-that-Be, and that I can trust you to trust me."
"Okay. So, now I know what you know, but I still don't know how you know it. Are you a Watcher?"
Drake simply chuckled at the question. Faith sat silently and observed the exchange between the two men with interest.
"No, I'm not a Watcher, though I have been associated with them on more than one occasion. As for what I am, well, that's quite difficult to explain. I began my life as a man. Years into my life, I ascended this plain and became a higher being, closely associated with the Powers-that-Be. But I missed my association with the world below me. I loved the earth and I loved the men and women who walked upon it. I felt bound to it, and I longed to walk upon it once again. The Powers granted me that wish, and I was sent back to the earth; more that a man, less than a god. I suppose that you could consider me an oracle, a prophet, a seer, a mystic, a shaman. I'm not quite limited to one title, as I hold many different powers and abilities. For your purposes, you may consider me a mystic, as that is how I am most relevant to you."
Faith finally spoke up.
"So, how'd you end up here, as the Warden of this prison? I'd think that you would've picked something a little . . . ritzier? Yunno, like . . . King of Guam, or Emperor of Earth, or The Grand Puba or something."
Drake chuckled yet again.
"Yes, I imagine that King or Emperor might have been more regal, but that was not my calling. Understand this: though it is my choice to help as I see fit, I am often given ideas as to where my help may be needed. Many years ago, it was revealed that a warrior of the people would lose her way, and that she would need protection and guidance as she found it again. Now, I've already told you that I love the earth and its inhabitants. I was offered a chance to help a defender of good and of the people that I love. I graciously accepted."
"So, you knew then. You knew what would happen to me, that I would end up here." Faith stated, her tone more questioning than sure.
"No, not quite. First, I wasn't aware that the girl would be a Slayer, though I did have my suspicions. Next, I had no idea that it would be you, Faith. Not even when you were sent here did I know that you were the girl I was waiting for. I had to find out by my own means. Lastly, I did not know what circumstances would bring you here to me, whether it be armed robbery, assault, or . . . well, murder."
Faith immediately lowered her head in shame. He continued anyway.
"Don't hang your head, Faith. What I'm going to reveal to you will ultimately change what you think you know about what happened in your past. Please . . ." he gently placed his hand under her chin and lifted her head so that their eyes met, ". . . let me finish. I promise it will be worth the wait."
Faith nodded sheepishly, and Drake continued.
"Excellent. So, as I was saying, I had been expecting the girl for some time. Every evening I would do a locator spell of sorts, searching for mystical energies throughout the prison. Then, just over a year ago, I finally felt the mystical energy that I had been looking for, and it was you. Through a series of different confirmations, I determined that you were one of the Chosen Two, and that you were that the one for whom I had been waiting."
"So, I wasn't crazy when I first came here. My slayer-sense was going off. I knew I felt something mystical in this place. But then it was just gone. It was you, wasn't it?" Faith asked.
"Yes, it was me. It took me too long to realize that you would be able to feel me as well. I did a cloaking spell on my magic shortly after you arrived, and that is why you haven't been able to sense it since then."
"I guess it all makes sense then. But on a somewhat unrelated topic . . . are you still workin' the magic-mojo on me? Is that why my dreams are tryin' to kill me?"
"No, Faith, I wouldn't try to harm you. As I said, I'm here to protect and help you, but, I have sensed some other energies as well. Two types, to be exact. The first one is nothing to worry about, I believe. It seems that the other Chosen, Buffy, has been trying to feel you with her slayer-sense. I can feel her energy mostly every evening, but I've sensed no negative consequences as of yet. There is no hatred or malevolence on her part."
Faith had become slightly distracted at the mention of Buffy. Buffy was trying to sense her? She figured it had to be to make sure that she was still in prison where she belonged and not out running free. The lack of hatred threw her for a spin though.
She was brought back to attention by Drake, who continued his explanation.
"Then, there is the second type of energy that I've been feeling, and this one is not friendly like the energy from the other Chosen. It is a dark energy, pure of form and lacking a point of origin, at least as far as I'm able to sense. I can't be sure where it's coming from, but it's aimed directly at you, Faith. It surrounds you at times, completely engulfing you, hence your dreams and episodes. It is slowly draining you; slowly but surely. I fear that in time, it will eventually take over you completely or possibly even kill you. The effect it has on you is almost like a remote-control self-destruct button."
"Shit," Faith replied, suffering from a total and utter lack of words.
Fear was not a strong enough word to describe what she was feeling.
Angel finally broke his silence.
"You don't know where the dark energy is coming from, we get that. But can you stop it, or distract it?" He asked almost impatiently.
"I'm sorry, but this is not a type of magic that I can stop or fix. It is far too dark and dangerous. But, like all things mystical, there has to be some sort of a countermeasure. We simply need to find and launch it. And that, my friends, is why I have called you both here to meet with me."
Faith unconsciously laughed aloud at Drake.
"Yeah, well, I really don't think there's too much that I can do about it while I'm in here. Plus, I've been a little too horizontal even for my own liking as of late. I'm useless in this search, at least for now," she noted sarcastically.
"Precisely," Drake said with a knowing smile. "This is where I come in. I'm going to release you, Faith. You are like a sitting duck here, and you can be better protected and studied outside of these walls. As the Warden of this prison and as a mystic, I'll be able to change some of the paperwork and release you on good behavior. For aggravated assault, not murder."
Both Faith and Angel looked a little shocked. They met each other's gaze, and then turned to Warden Drake.
"You can do that?" they asked simultaneously, a hint of skepticism and disbelief lingering in their voices.
"Yes, I can, and I will," he stated with a proud smile. Then, his face turned serious and he looked to Faith. "Having two Slayers at one time is a truly rare occurrence. The world will be a better and safer place with you living in it, helping as you go along. True, the events of the past have hindered your growth as a Slayer, but I don't believe that you are solely at fault. The dark energies appear to have been around you for a while now, beyond your time in prison."
"Wait . . . are you implying that the dark energies may have controlled her at some point or another?"
"Yes, I believe that may have been a contributing factor to her allegiance shift. I'll speculate even further and say that the darkness wants back in her, and that is why she has been plagued by the nightmares and dreams. It all seems to be interconnected. The dark magic is too much for her and it is slowly breaking her down. We need to find a way to stop the dark magic before the darkness consumes or kills her."
"Don't you think it would be easier to just let whatever this is kill me? A new pliable and trainable Slayer will be called and no one will have to put up with this shit," Faith said unemotionally.
"No, I don't think that would be easier, nor would it benefit anyone. First, a human life, your life, would be lost, and that is more than I am willing to risk. Second, you are already too closely tied to the other Chosen. If that bond is broken, the other Slayer would no doubt feel lost and alone again. Her duties would be forgotten under the pain and she would be lost to us. As I said before . . . to have two Chosen is a rare and unique occurrence. A gift. It would be tragic for us to lose it."
Faith nodded as if she understood what Warden Drake was trying to imply. However, she was jumping and smiling on the inside. Simply knowing that she shared such a great bond with Buffy made her almost giddy.
After a moment or two of silence, Drake spoke up again.
"I trust that you have someone on the outside that can help research this for you?"
Angel thought about it and then nodded.
"Yeah, Wesley is an ex-Watcher, so he can definitely help with the research aspect. Cordy has visions, so maybe she can find a way to tap into them to look into this for us."
"Yes, that is a good start. But I think that more help will be needed. Faith is in an extremely fragile state and will need someone by her side to protect her from harm."
"Yeah . . . vampire here, with the super strength and senses, and the resilience, and the grrr and argh. I think I've got it covered," Angel replied sounding kind of hurt that Drake would forget his abilities.
"Yes, of course. But tell me, Angel: What happens during the daylight hours? Can you defend her at all times of the day?"
Angel didn't reply. He simply hung his head, defeated.
Drake spoke again.
"Exactly. I know that you may not like this idea . . . but I think you need to call upon the other Chosen. She alone can offer the protection that Faith needs." A pause. "I know that she's busy on the Hellmouth so it may be in both your and her interest for you to go to her. Her Watcher is very knowledgeable and wise and will help without putting up a fight. He will not want to fail Faith yet again."
Angel and Faith glared at each other for a couple of moments, both hesitant to agree with the idea. However, they both knew that it was the best plan of action at the moment.
"Well then, saddle up, boys and girls. I guess we're off to Sunnydale," Faith conceded as she threw up her hands in defeat.
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