The first call was to Giles and after he calmed Buffy down he said he would call Angel and discuss what they needed to do. He thought Buffy was panicking too much to talk to the vampire rationally and she had to admit he was right. After what she witnessed she was far from calm.
When she hung up the phone, she called Willow and Xander to let each of them know that if they were going to LA with them that they needed to pack and be at her house as soon as they could.
"Buffy," her mother called out. She was sitting with Faith on the couch, keeping an arm around her. "Do you really think going to LA now will do any good?"
She sighed as she looked at Faith. The other slayer was pale and looked weak, something that concerned Buffy. "I don't know what else to do, Mom. We need help."
"Okay," she said as she nodded. "If Mr. Giles needs to use my car to drive you there he can. It has more room than his."
It was only a few minutes of waiting before Xander and Willow showed up, each with a small overnight bag. Buffy was thankful they were packing light. It wasn't as though they were doing anything other than helping Faith. She hoped they weren't there any longer than a day or two.
Buffy was actually impressed by how quickly everyone was able to assemble. Giles arrived no more than a half hour after her two friends with any supplies he thought they would need or what Angel had suggested he bring. He also was thrilled Joyce was okay with letting them take her car to LA. They really did need the room since there were five of them going.
Giles drove while Xander sat in the passenger seat and the girls sat in the back. Buffy ended up in the middle, knowing Willow was still unsure about Faith and therefore would probably be nervous sitting next to her even in her current state. She didn't mind though. That way she could talk quietly to her best friend while having Faith lean against her.
The other slayer had fallen asleep once they had driven out of the neighborhood and stayed that way for the entire drive. Her head was rested on Buffy's shoulder and she almost seemed to snuggle against her as she slept. Buffy received at least one look from Willow when that happened but just like earlier, she ignored it for now. A nervous car ride was not the place to discuss why she didn't care and looked like she liked how close her one time enemy was.
No one said much of anything the entire drive apart from some comments here and there until Giles pulled into the parking lot of a hotel. Then Buffy spoke up. "Why are we stopping here?"
Giles looked back at her through the rearview mirror. "I know you want to get started right away but everyone's tired. We're in LA and now we can begin bright and early without having to drive. I highly doubt all of us would fit in Cordelia's apartment so we could all sleep either."
"Does Angel know about this?"
"He suggested it," Giles said calmly. "He even booked the rooms."
Buffy thought about protesting but knew it would be pointless. She could see everyone was tired and had to admit she was starting to feel exhausted as well. It had been a trying day to say the least and even the thought of something bad happening to Faith was making her feel the exhaustion. The only thing she could think of was keeping the other slayer safe.
While Giles went inside to get check in and get the keys for the two rooms Angel had reserved, Buffy woke Faith up and all of them unloaded the bags from the back. She looked around the quiet hotel parking lot and wanted desperately to breathe a sigh of relief. It felt that they were so close to finding whoever was hurting Faith. They only needed a little more information.
Once Giles came back with the keys they separated. Giles and Xander walked to their room and the three girls walked toward theirs. Despite the situation Buffy still had to bite back a smile at the thought of Giles having to share a room with Xander. She knew by the look on his face that he was not looking forward to sharing a room with a teenager.
When they got to the room all of them set down their bags and the two slayers let Willow use the bathroom first. Once they were alone they sat on one of the beds and Buffy tried to smile.
"We're almost done with this, Faith," she said. "I feel it."
"I don't know, B. What if Wes is wrong?" Faith frowned, not showing any of the enthusiasm Buffy was trying so hard to display. "This could be a waste and it'll just get worse."
Buffy placed a hand against Faith's cheek, watching as the other girl leaned into it. "You can't think like that."
"But it hurts so much. It doesn't stop."
She leaned in and lightly kissed her, hoping to calm her in some way. Buffy knew that since Willow would be sharing the room with them that the most she could do during the night was hold Faith. Even then she knew there would be questions but right now kissing Faith seemed like the only way to get her attention away from whatever was going on in her mind.
After a few seconds and a couple more light kisses, Buffy moved away but put an arm around her so she could keep her close. "You know what you need to do? Think about what it'll be like to sleep through the night. Think about slaying . . . maybe we can move forward, too."
For the first time Faith showed a hint of a smile. "I'd really like that."
They were about to kiss again but the knob on the bathroom door started to turn and they moved away from each other. Willow appeared a few seconds later and smiled nervously at the pair. Faith took the opportunity to use the bathroom before the awkwardness of the situation became too great, mumbling that she needed to shower.
Willow sat on the other bed while Buffy pulled a chair up close to the bathroom door and sat down. She didn't want to risk being too far away from Faith and this was the closest she could get without actually going in with her.
As soon as the shower started Willow spoke up. "What was going on in the car or even just a minute ago, Buffy? You don't look uncomfortable at all when Faith is next to you that close. You're, like, instigating the closeness."
Buffy shrugged as she tried to pay attention to the sounds in the bathroom as well as her best friend. "I'm used to it. I need to stay close, especially now."
"But after everything that happened . . ."
"I know," Buffy said quickly before Willow could really get going. "I know she hurt me but I think if she got on the right path again I think would be able to, I don't know, forgive maybe? It's confusing to think about but she doesn't deserve what's going on right now. Will, when I found her earlier she was choking on her own blood. Not to mention all the injuries that appear now."
Her best friend nodded. "Hey, I'm not saying 'yay, torture' or anything. It's just, you're getting close to her. It's weird you're okay with that."
"It's complicated, Will." Buffy let out a sigh. "There's a part of me that likes that she's relying on me. You know, that we're actually on the same side."
"Have you really talked about everything though? I mean, everything?"
"In a way, I guess," Buffy said. "We did the whole Sunnydale tour but we didn't like sit in a room and have an actual talk about it. By the time we could've even gotten to that point I was more concentrated on the fact she wasn't sleeping and then the nightmares after that."
Willow nodded. "So what happens after we stop them? I know Faith is staying in Sunnydale but I also noticed you and Faith have been getting close . . ."
Buffy figured she would have continued but the shower turned off and Buffy stood up, putting her hand on the bathroom door. "Still okay in there, Faith?"
"It's been a trying 10 minutes but I've managed to survive," Faith said sarcastically from the other side of the door.
Buffy turned back to Willow. "And then there are times when it's like it was before anything bad happened."
Her best friend laughed a little and they continued to talk quietly until Faith exited the bathroom with damp hair and dressed in a tank top and shorts that were so short Buffy couldn't help but stare. She looked away once she saw Faith noticing and the three of them stared awkwardly for a moment before Buffy took her turn in the bathroom.
It wasn't long before all three of them were ready to get a few hours of much needed sleep before what promised to be a long day. There was still an uncomfortable feeling in the room though.
"Hey, Willow?" Faith said almost nervously as she on the bed, resting her back against the headboard as Buffy moved to sit next to her. Once the other girl turned to look at her she continued. "Thanks for, you know, helping. I know you didn't have to. I didn't expect you to."
Willow smiled and Buffy thought it looked sincere. "You're welcome. 'Cause, hey, if you're gonna be back with us then you need to be nightmare-free."
Buffy could tell what Willow said was not lost on Faith. It felt as though she basically told her it was okay for her to be back with the gang and Buffy knew she had a smile on her face that matched the one Faith now had. "We should get some sleep. We might need it depending on what Wesley found."
She reached over to the switch above the nightstand and shut off the lights before sliding under the covers next to Faith. It amazed her that the reaction to being next to the other slayer was so different from the first time. She had been painfully uncomfortable the first night she had helped Faith get to sleep and now it felt like second nature. It didn't feel out of the ordinary at all. When she thought about it, she could barely remember when it had.
Buffy turned on her side toward Faith and noticed the other slayer was looking at her. She tried to read the look on her face but it was too dark for her to really see. There had to be some nervousness there but she wasn't sure.
"B?" It was so quiet Buffy should barely hear Faith, like she didn't want Willow to overhear.
"We might not win this one," she whispered and the tone in her voice showed her seriousness. "Just being in the building you can feel the power."
"You can't think like that," Buffy whispered back. "We'll figure this out and then we'll get back to normal."
"I don't know what that is."
She reached out and placed her hand Faith's cheek, caressing it lightly. "We can figure that out after."
Even with her best friend trying to sleep in the next bed, Buffy dared to lean in and give Faith a light kiss. She hoped to relax her enough to sleep. It only took a second for Faith to respond but Buffy knew she had to keep it light and kind of quick as well since they weren't alone. She broke away after only a couple of seconds, placing a light kiss on her forehead before moving away so she could look into her eyes again.
"I'm with you for this, okay?" Buffy whispered as she held Faith close. "After, too."
Faith looked into her eyes for a second before nodding and leaning into her. Buffy closed her eyes as she felt Faith relax in her arms and couldn't help but smile. She realized she liked the feeling of Faith against her.
That was enough for her to want to take down a law firm.
"Wow, Cordy lives in a nice building."
Buffy looked from Willow to the building and had to agree. Angel must pay somewhat decent, more than what a struggling actress would make anyway. "I guess so."
Giles pulled the car up to the building and they got out, Xander and Willow each carrying a bag of supplies the watcher had brought with. Even with a few hours sleep Faith still looked weak and exhausted so Buffy was letting her lean against her as they walked to the front door.
It only took one knock for the door to open, Wesley appearing on the other side. His eyes went to each of them quickly before settling on Faith. Then it looked like he tried not to flinch. He didn't say anything though, only stepped aside to let them all in.
Buffy didn't think Faith looked that bad but maybe she was used to her looking a little worse for wear. Her eyes looked tired and the remains of her last black eye were still visible, as were a few of the bruises on her arms. It was better than what she had seen before but Wesley hadn't been a witness to any of that.
The others walked in but the door slammed shut once Buffy and Faith tried to walk inside. Buffy looked at Faith who only shrugged. "I think I pissed someone off."
"But they agree you needed to come."
Faith started to respond but then they heard Cordelia. "Dennis, stop this. You've heard all our conversations so you know what we're doing. She's as helpless as anyone."
"What the hell?"
The door flew open again with Cordelia on the other side, a sarcastic smile on her face. "Sorry, my roommate is over-protective."
"Ghost Dennis," she said as if it weren't out of the ordinary. "He does not like Faith."
Buffy raised an eyebrow and looked to Faith. "You pissed off a ghost?"
"I guess I just piss off everyone," Faith said evenly as she looked at Cordelia. "Doesn't he see I'm not in a condition to really hurt anyone?"
"I see it," Cordelia said as she let them in.
They walked in to see a few open books on the coffee table and the rest of the gang getting situated. Buffy noticed Angel coming for them straight away, looking like he wanted to separate the two but knew he couldn't.
"How did you let it get this bad?"
Buffy instantly didn't like the accusation. "Are you trying to say this is my fault? I've been trying my best to protect her."
"No, I . . ."
"I'm the one who's been saying this is something else. That someone other than Faith is responsible."
"That's not . . ."
"What?" Buffy scowled at him. "That's not what you meant? You were against Faith coming to Sunnydale to begin so why wouldn't this all be my fault, right?"
"This doesn't help," Faith said quietly as she moved away from Buffy.
"For once I agree with Faith," Cordelia said. "And my head still hurts so let's keep the arguing to a minimum, okay?"
All the new arrivals looked confused so Wesley quickly explained. "Cordelia was woken this morning with a vision."
"And it starred Faith and all of you which made me very happy," she said sarcastically.
"What did you see?" Giles asked as he handed Wesley a book he'd brought with.
"Basically, I saw what will happen if we don't solve this tonight." Cordelia looked at Faith with what Buffy could only think was pity. "You kill yourself."
"Guess it ends one way or another after today then," Faith mumbled.
"You can't think that way," Buffy whispered to her before looking at everyone else. "That just means we go after whoever's responsible tonight, right? I mean, if Cordelia's right we only have one chance to end this before . . ."
"Yes, we do need to confront the parties we believe to be responsible tonight," Wesley said. "Faith, have you been feeling particularly drained since you arrived in LA?"
Faith looked like she wasn't thrilled to have all eyes on her but she slowly nodded. "Yeah, I started to feel it a little last night but it felt worse when I woke up."
"I think I know which spell Wolfram and Hart are using," he explained. "It's so rare I couldn't even find a name for it but from what I can gather it's taken from a hell dimension. It's designed to start slow so it's almost unnoticeable and by the time the person affected realizes what's happening the spell is already spiraling out of control."
"It sure feels out of control," Faith mumbled.
"Which is why we need to go there to stop it as quickly as possible," Wesley explained. "From what I read it should have taken care of Faith but I doubt it was ever used on a slayer before or had to push through the strength of two slayers."
"Can't we just do a spell here to stop it? Why do we need to go to them?" Willow asked.
"We must stop what's powering the spell." Wesley looked at Giles and Willow, both who looked fascinated by what he was saying. "Whoever cast it would have funneled all the power needed to escalate the effects into a stone that is probably being worn around one of the lawyer's necks."
"There are one or two lawyers I have in mind," Angel said.
"So we just need to find the lawyer with the stone?" Buffy asked. "I'm struggling to see the hard part here."
"The hard part will be getting into their offices," Wesley said. "I have a feeling that they will be expecting something from us."
"But they only know the three of you, right?" Willow asked, her brow furrowed like she was trying to think of a plan quickly. "And of all of us, the only person they know is Faith. If Buffy or any of us walked into their offices they wouldn't know who we were or that we were after something."
"I think they might know who Buffy is," Angel said. "After what happened with Faith I have a feeling they've done some research on slayers."
"We have one other problem," Wesley commented. "Even if we send in someone no one there will recognize we would have to send you in without anything. Once you enter Wolfram and Hart you'll be scanned and they will instantly know if you are protected in some way, if you're using magic or if you're of the vampire variety. And that's just for starters."
No one said anything for a minute. Buffy was at a loss for what to do. It seemed like they were up against an enemy that couldn't be stopped. She knew they were human, even if they were lawyers, and that meant at the end of everything she was going to let them live. Even with what they were doing to Faith they couldn't be slayed.
The only positive she could see was that they could narrow down the suspects in the law firm. On the way to Cordelia's Faith had talked about what had happened when she was hired and she had only dealt with a trio of lawyers, maybe an intern here and there. To Buffy that meant they only had to start looking for three people once they were inside to see which of them was wearing the necklace. That had to make what they were doing a little easier though at the moment it didn't feel that way at all.
"Wait a minute," Buffy said as she looked at everyone. "There's only three of them that could possibly have the necklace, right?"
"Well, actually there'd only be two of them now," Angel said. "One was terminated the old fashioned way."
"Unless they're making some intern or whatever do it," Cordelia commented.
"Then let's track them down outside of the actual office," Buffy said.
"Yeah, they can't make sure we're unharmed, magickally or otherwise, if we don't confront them at Wolfram and Hart," Willow added.
Everyone else seemed to be thinking the same thing and for the first time in the last few days Buffy felt like smiling. "Let's track down some lawyers."
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Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five || Chapter Six || Chapter Seven || Chapter Eight || Chapter Nine || Chapter Ten || Chapter Eleven || Chapter Twelve || Chapter Thirteen || Chapter Fourteen || Chapter Fifteen || Chapter Sixteen
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