FARCE: A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
Two: Brand New Way(continued)
Dealing, and Not
Cordelia checked the clock again. Yup, two minutes past the last
time she looked. She was starting to worry. They’d been gone
for over two hours. What the hell was taking them so long? The mission
should have been no big deal – just a nest of carnivorous
demons down at the San Pedro waterfront that needed to be cleared
out. They were slimy, two foot tall reptilian things a nasty surprise
for young couples sneaking under the pier for a little canoodling,
but no biggie for two heavily armed bad-ass vamps and a demon. Even
if Lorne was mostly there to carry the spare weapons.
The familiar sound of the lobby door opening brought instant relief.
But the smile on her face slipped away when she saw Angel hanging
limp and unconscious between Lorne and Gunn, his shoes dragging
along the polished floor as they carried him across the lobby and
eased him down onto the couch. Lorne had to put a hand on his shoulder
to keep him from toppling over. Cordelia stared. She’d seen
Angel damaged before, many, many, times, but she’d never seen
him like this. He was covered in greenish ooze and blood. His face
was so swollen and bruised she barely recognized him. Something,
a claw or weapon had sliced through the left side of his head, removing
part of his ear. He had a hole in his midsection and even through
the mess of blood she could tell there was stuff *missing*. His
hands – Christ, his hands – they looked like raw meat,
like he’d been breaking through brick walls with them. Cordelia
glared accusingly at his companions.
“He ran ahead of us. Just tore into them with his bare hands,”
Gunn told her defensively.
“Nothing we could do sweetpea,” Lorne chimed in.
She wanted to scream at them. She didn’t. “Give me
a few minutes, and then bring him up to his room.” She turned
her back on them and walked to the elevator. She stabbed the button
and waited, aware of their eyes on her back. When the car arrived
she stepped inside without a backwards glance.
She felt the usual chill as the elevator slid past the fourth floor.
No-one used that floor anymore. There had been too much blood and
misery spilled up there; too many ghosts haunted the abandoned rooms.
Angel lived on the sixth floor now.
There’s dust on the old carpet and the air tastes stale inside
his room. Angel had never been big on the decorating, but nowadays
his room was downright monastic. As far as she could tell the only
thing he’d done to the room was to hang blackout curtains
over the windows. His personal stuff was still sitting in the boxes
they’d moved it in. When she pulled the dirty sheets off the
bed she saw that the mattress was still wrapped in plastic. He spent
most of his time up here, brooding, emerging only to deal with her
visions. He was worse than when he first came to L.A.; at least
then he was trying.
Goddamn him anyway, how the hell is it that he was more upset about
what happened than she was? Dammit, if anyone was going to go into
a funk, shouldn’t it be her? She’d been raped, had her
lover and her friend killed and she wasn’t moping around and
hiding in her room.
She was scared. She didn’t know how to fix Angel this time.
Talking to him was like talking to a wall, a big dead wall. He hardly
ever spoke to her and his eyes, when she can catch them, were dark
and empty. He barely seemed like Angel anymore.
“Princess?” Lorne sounded nervous. If she hummed right
now his head would probably explode. Not his fault, she reminded
“I’m ready; bring him in.”
Angel lay on the bed like a medical school project, blood pooling
slowly around him on the plastic. She couldn’t let it bother
her, he’s a mess, but there was really nothing new here. Just
follow procedure: pull on gloves, remove any clothing that’s
in the way, clean the wound, picking out any obvious foreign matter,
apply probably useless antibiotic/antiseptic and tape/bandage/stitch
the wound shut. Repeat as necessary. It was a sign of how badly
he was hurt that he never woke up during any of it, not even when
she had to line up the shattered bits of his left arm before splinting
it. He just lay there giving no hint he wasn’t plain old dead
as opposed to undead.
All done. She peeled off her gloved and dropped them onto the pile
of waste, then turned to face Lorne and Gunn.
“He’s trying to get himself killed, isn’t he?”
Neither demon would look her in the eye.
“Not consciously, Princess,” Lorne says uncomfortably.
“But you know what he’s been like, since…”
“Yeah.” Cordelia sighed. “So what do we do about
“I think maybe we’d better take him off-duty?”
Gunn said uncomfortably. “Just till he’s better.”
“Which will be when?” Cordelia asked.
No one answered.
Meanwhile, back in Sunnydale
“Night Buff.” He grinned. “Hey, admit it, you
“Sure, hardly hurt at all,” she said with a plastic
smile. Xander wilted. Oops. Maybe ‘Fast and the Furious’,
‘Anaconda,’ and ‘Little Nicky’ on the same
bill had been a little bit too XY.
“We’re talking Hugh Grant marathon next week aren’t
“'Bridget Jones', 'About a Boy', and 'Notting Hill'. Smile
Xander, or I’ll add Titanic: the Director’s cut.”
Xander forced a smile. “I’ll be here with the snacks.
Pizza or Chinese?”
“Surprise me. Night Xander.” She hugged him until he
made that little grunt that meant she was applying a little too
much Slayer strength. Reluctantly she let him go. Xander waved from
the curb before getting into his shiny new gas-guzzler and driving
away. With a sigh Buffy closed the door and locked it.
Friday night was movie night. It was just her and Xander now. Giles
had taken Willow back to England to work on controlling her apocalyptic
urges and Dawn was spending the summer with Dad in San Diego. Clem
dropped out after Dawn left; he’d told Buffy it just wasn’t
the same without her.
Anya was long gone from Sunnydale; what was left of the Magic Box
sat boarded up and desolate but Xander still clung to the hope that
she’d come back. Buffy didn’t try to argue with him,
but she didn’t think Anya was ever coming back.
She’d talked to Dawn night before last. She’d sounded
like she was having a good time. Even in her weirdness-filled life
her Dad acting like a parent stood out. He’d even paid the
back child support. What was next, honest politicians? He’d
very earnestly explained that it was all about the born again thing,
that accepting Christ as his savior meant accepting and fulfilling
his parental responsibilities. Whatever. The number of loonies she’d
had to deal with who’d been dedicated to the worship of various
freaky deities had made her a little wary of True Believers, but
so far Dad seemed harmless. If he started speaking in tongues or
mumbling about ‘impurity’ Dawn had a cell phone with
both her and Angel’s numbers on speed dial.
She shut off the lights and went upstairs. The crickets’
racket just made the dead quiet inside the house more obvious. The
summer heat clung stickily to her skin. She decided to take a shower.
She locked the bathroom door. Habit. She still wasn’t used
to having the house all to herself. Still not used to not having
Dawn around as an alibi. There was no one else to blame for the
towels lying on the floor, the hair in the sink, and the overflowing
trashcan. Tomorrow she was going to have to clean this dump up.
As she stepped into the shower her gaze snagged on the dent Spike's
head had left in the wall. Xander had done a good job fixing most
of the damage, but there was still a mark there if you knew where
She hated him, for what he tried to do, for making her feel so
helpless, for betraying her trust. She could close her eyes and
hear the sound of ripping cloth, the shock and pain of him holding
her down, the panic she’d felt when she realized that he’d
lost control, that he wasn’t hearing her, that he wasn’t
going to stop.
So she’d stopped him. Remembered she was the Slayer, thrown
him off of her and into the wall, stood glaring at him while she
shuddered with disgust and terror, but when he’d looked up
at her it was like looking into a twisted mirror. Her own fear and
disgust and pain thrown back at her, too raw and real to be denied
and oh God it had been so much easier for her when she believed
it wasn’t real. That nothing she did to Spike mattered really
because demons had no true emotions.
She hated being left like this, in limbo. She’d been robbed
of her chance to scream at him, to curse him, to talk to him, to
stake him; she needed him to give her some kind of goddamned closure.
Only he’s not here. Where the hell was he?
Asshole. She didn’t miss him, not even a little bit because
that would be beyond sick. She turned on the shower full strength
and as hot as she could stand it and let the scalding water pound
some of the tension out of her back while refusing to think about
cool steely fingers teasing out every knot.
The cool breeze from the open window tickled her face and bare
shoulders as she lay in bed. The weekend stretched before her; she
had a whole lot of nothing to do until it got dark enough to patrol.
The Doublemeat gig was history; that last apocalypse and attendant
unscheduled absences had finished off what was left of Darlene’s
patience. Luckily, thanks to Dad she had at least a month before
she’d have to go out on the streets.
Summer stretched out before her, formless and empty. There will
be patrolling, of course, but summer was always quiet time on the
Hellmouth. Giles had a theory that the combination of long days,
short nights and Sunnydale U being closed. The local vamps were
forced to migrate or starve. Or maybe they all had cabins up at
Tahoe. Whatever, it meant that summers tended to be slow and she
was going to be more than usually bored.
She’ll have to find a job eventually, which will fill up
some of the time. It will only be a few months before Dawn will
be back and hopefully Willow and Giles too. If she can get a loan
and talk her way past admissions she might even be able to re-enroll
at S.U. Everything will work out.
Except – it wasn’t that simple. Nothing was anymore.
She remembered when love was painful but perfectly transparent:
she’d loved Angel and Angel had loved her and nothing else
really mattered. The bad guys lost, the good guys won. Simple. Easy.
She’d been 16.
Cordelia said it was big but she’d forgotten to tell him
that the motherfucker was so huge that it could barely fit in the
tunnel or that it had two goddamn heads and looked like a crocodile
wearing a llama coat. Funny looking thing, not so funny when it
bared its teeth, hissed like an airhose, and attacked. Gunn pulled
out his ax as it charged towards him on too-fucking-many legs and
got ready for a fight.
The fucker was almost on top of him when it bent in the middle
and he all of a sudden had both pointy-toothed heads snapping at
him. Gunn threw himself sideways, rebounded off the tunnel wall
and laid the axe down hard on its back. Yeah, how do you like that
Damn. His weapon bounced off the shaggy coat and he really had
to hustle to keep clear of the two sets of eager teeth, not to mention
the claws of the really pissed-off whateverthehellitis (don’t
even know what this one’s called, without Wes they’re
flying blind too damned much of the time). He struck back but the
axe blade kept sliding off the damned pelt like water off a duck’s
A leathery paw collided hard with his chest and he went flying
again. His collided with the wall shoulder-first and his right arm
went numb. He dropped the axe. Fuck. Time for plan B. He stood,
leaving the axe where it lay and wrenched a loose block out of the
wall. Ugly came at him and he slammed it upside the nearest head.
He felt the impact all the way down his spine but felt a vicious
joy when it grunted and bled yellow. Oh yeah, that’s the shit!
He went after it, tearing the tunnel walls apart for ammunition,
slamming it, never letting it get a rest. Its yellow blood burned
when it touched him but he was too caught up in the dance to care.
Times like these he thinks it’s almost worth being dead to
be so fucking strong and fast. He was aware that he was taking damage
from raking claws and vicious kicks but it was ghost-pain no way
real enough to stop him. On a roll, he grabbed hold of a thin leg
and used his weight and leverage to twist it hard; it gave with
a satisfying crack. He laughed as he dodged a vengefully howling
head. Got thing-spit all over his face but he didn’t care.
He managed to cripple two more legs and was going for a third when
his foot slipped in the nastiness underfoot. He staggered off balance
for a second and wham! The claw ripped into his chest and shit and
fuck and that was real pain alright. The thing clenched its paw
and pulled him in close, its gleaming teeth angled in to rip open
his throat. He jabbed desperately upwards at the soft underside
of the thing’s jaw with Angel’s patented spring-loaded
stake and pulled the trigger. Thankyoujesus it went in smooth as
butter. The creature shuddered and flung Gunn away, and he’s
getting pretty sick of this shit; he hit the wall and slid down
into a puddle and stayed there. Luckily the thing had lost interest
in him. The head he’d staked sagged, its eyes glazing over
as yellow fluid ran out of the gash in its throat. The other head
craned around hooting softly as the legs on the opposite end folded.
It teetered for a moment on its knees then went down with a crash.
The other head whistled sadly as it nuzzled at the stricken head,
while ichor spread in a daffodil puddle around it. Then the living
head made a sighing noise, put its chin down on the ground like
a dog going to sleep and closed its eyes. One last shudder and it
“Yes! Ugly-assed monster 0, Gunn 1! Uhhh!” Gunn’s
whoop of triumph turned into a groan as the pain that had stayed
clear during the fight suddenly came home. His whole body ached.
Especially his chest. He looked down and wished he hadn’t
‘cause it looked like Freddie Krueger had been playing tic-tac-toe
on his rib cage. There were raw red burns where the blood had burned
through to the skin and a deep puncture where a claw had punched
all the way through to his back. He could feel the splintered bones
grinding against each other when he moved and he figured it was
lucky he didn’t need to breathe. If he’d still been
human he’d be spurting from a dozen places, but no heartbeat
meant just a slow trickle, so that was cool.
So, gonna get up now. One, two, three – He fell back with
a splash, aww man that hurt. Can’t rest here. The sun’ll
be up in about five hours, and the way he’s feeling it might
take that long to make it home. He tried again, managed to get on
his feet this time. Got a little dizzy bending down to pick up his
axe. Felt like crying when he saw the state of the blade. Fucking
monster messing up his favorite weapon. With a sigh he transferred
it to his left hand and started walking.
Yup, just another night’s work for Charles Gunn, Dark Knight,
which would be funny except that it ain't. He’s got the super-speed
and super-strength and the well-nigh-invulnerability thing going
on but he sure don't have Angel's 200-plus years of experience at
killing things. Which is why way too many of these missions are
ending up like tonight's: with him getting his ass kicked all over
the place. Not much choice though, he’s the only muscle AI’s
got on tap since the three of them decided it was better to just
let Angel stay up in his room. Cordelia was the seer, not the champion.
Just put one foot in front of the other. All he had to do is make
it home and everything would be all right. Back at the Hyperion
Cordy was waiting for him with nice clean bandages and lots of painkillers
to mix into his blood. All he has to do is just keep on keeping
on and everything will be cool.
Lorne tries to help, he’s surprisingly strong but ain’t
much of a fighter; poor guy had gotten himself pretty badly hurt
by a pissed-off Fyarl two nights ago so Gunn left him home tonight.
The demon wasn’t a happy camper these days. “Too much
psychic static, cheese puff,” he’d said last week, and
Gunn got that; sometimes the buzzing in his head was so loud he
couldn’t hear himself think.
…Cordy’s nice soft hands, gonna wash away the blood
and dirt and all the pain.
Cordelia looked up as Gunn came in through the lobby doors and
watched silently as he limped slowly over to the couch and dropped
onto it, dead weight. She knew it was bad because he wasn’t
even trying to maintain a front.
First aid box in hand she hurried over to him. He looked up at
her pitifully, not arguing. “Hey, Gunn, have you ever heard
of ‘ducking. Sheesh.” Her hands shook a little as she
started to clean away the blood. Stupid vampire, trying to get himself
killed. Again. Wasn’t once enough?
Gunn struggled to hide his reaction when Cordelia’s deft
hands touched his bare skin. He got it now: that stupid grin used
to be on Angel’s face back in the day while he waited for
his turn with Nurse Cordy. It was worth getting hurt to have this
close contact with her, to be inside the aura of Cordy-scent: honeysuckle
and musk and under it the sweetly beguiling rush of blood. …and
fuck it, there he goes again. Gunn shifted uncomfortably, praying
she didn’t notice his excitement. He tried to focus on the
sizzle of peroxide in his wounds (maybe you can’t get infected,
but why take a chance?) ‘cause it would be a bad, bad, idea
to focus on the heat of her hand resting on his shoulder like a
Aw fuck. It was like he was 14 again, sprouting wood every time
his English teacher Miss Cooley bent over for something or stretched
up to point out something on the board or *smiled*.
She patted him on the shoulder giving him a quick glimpse of sun
as she stepped back. Damn, Cordy’s smile just lit up the room,
it made him want to just sit there soaking it in. Though she didn’t
smile much these days. Can’t blame her, there ain’t
much to smile about around here with no money, one fighter, and
demons popping up everywhere. “All done,” she said.
“You know the drill: drink as much as you can, I just picked
up our order from the butchers, so there’s plenty.”
“Thanks.” He stood looming awkwardly over her with
a grin that felt weird on his face. He wished things were still
simple like they used to be when he was with Fred and Cordy was
his friend and nothing more. Back when he had a pulse. No one had
to tell him how whack the idea of him and Cordy was. Girl had been
through enough without him making it worse. Even if she was into
dating the undead, it wouldn’t be him.
“Anything wrong?” Cordelia looked worried, guess he’d
been standing there a little too long.
“Uh, no. Night.”
Cordelia watched Gunn leave for the kitchen. He’d been kind
of down lately and she was starting to worry about him. Sighing
she started to clean up. She’s going to have to ask Lorne
to talk to his friend down at the morgue about getting some more
human blood because Gunn needed it. The monsters seem to be getting
bigger and badder, like they’ve heard that AI’s big
gun is out of commission. Too bad the PTB hadn’t gotten the
memo, but no: the visions kept on coming and the good guys kept
heading out to fight the bad things and getting thrashed. Bottom
line was: they needed help. She’d gone over the options and
there was only one thing she could think of that might help, so
she was going to do it, no matter how much it hurt. Tomorrow, first
Down in the kitchen, Gunn heated and gulped down pig’s blood
until his legs stopped feeling like overcooked spaghetti. Nasty
stuff, but until Angel Investigations started pulling in serious
cash, it’ll have to do ‘cause the prices they charged
for human blood were scandalous. He had to give props to Angel for
managing to live on this shit for more than a century.
He yawned. Dawn was getting close and all he wanted right now was
to lie down and sleep for a couple of years, but there’s one
more thing he’s got to do first. Wearily he heated up another
container of blood, poured it into a commuter mug and went upstairs.
He knocked on Angel’s door. No answer, like always, but he
could feel Angel in there. He stepped inside. Yeah, there he was,
same old same old, lying curled up on himself on the unmade bed.
The stink of old blood and unwashed vampire set off all kind of
strange feelings in him that he didn’t want to study too close.
He placed the blood on the bedside table pushing aside the empty
one from that morning. Not sure if Angel actually drinks it, or
if he dumps it down the sink, ‘cause he seemed to be getting
thinner. Gunn hesitated, hoping like always that Angel will give
some sign he knows he’s there, but like always, he just lay
there. Goddamn useless motherfucker. He slammed the door behind
him and marched down the hallway, headed for his own room and bed.
Gunn was halfway there when Lorne’s door opened. Gunn couldn’t
help staring because, damn. The demon was wearing lilac pajamas
and a genuine no-shit night cap, like an illustration in a kid’s
book. “Hey, paisan – whoa. Looks like you had a tough
night. You O.K.?”
Gunn shrugged. “Yeah, just tired mostly.”
“Want to talk about it?”
Gunn hesitated. Yeah, he did but he couldn’t see how talking
to Lorne would help. “Naw, man, I’m just gonna get some
“Well, O.K. If you’re sure. My door’s always
open…” An unhappy Lorne watched Gunn until he disappeared
into his own room, and then shut the door with a sigh.
“Sorry,” he told the empty room. “I tried, but
you know our Charles. He’s kinda caught up in the whole manly-man
deal, and face it I’m no Robert Bly.” He cocked his
head as if listening then sighed. “Yeah, I know, I know, the
kid’s riding for a fall, but what the hell can I do about
it?” He sighed. “Sweetcheeks, if I thought he’d
believe me, I would tell him.”
The early morning light straggled through the blinds as Lilah directed
a gleaming smile at the people gathered around the conference table
for the meeting she’d called. “Good morning everyone.
Thanks for showing up at such short notice.” They all dutifully
smiled back as though that they’d really had a choice. It
was good to be Director in Charge of Special Projects. True, she
was currently only ‘acting’ Director, but she was confident
she could turn the latest development to her advantage and prove
to the Senior Partners that she deserved to be made permanent.
“If you’ll look at your handouts.” She paused
for the obligatory shuffling of paper as the attorneys quickly scanned
the contents. Then she dimmed the lights and put the first image
up on the projector screen.
The first image caused very little reaction; they all knew this
player. “Angel, the vampire with a soul. As we all know, such
a creature features in a collection of very important prophecies
related to the firm’s endgame. His role in the concluding
battles will be pivotal. One of Special Projects primary goals over
the past three years has been his subversion to our side. Unfortunately,
Angel has proved to be a difficult prospect, he is after all over
240 years old and is somewhat set in his ways. Thus far we’ve
failed to move him into our column.” She watched her minions
struggling, with variable success, to not show how very bored they
are by her recap.
“However, I believe I’ve found a solution to our problem.”
New picture. Her audience wasn't so bored this time since while
a few have seen this face before most of them haven’t. Lilah
thought it was a nice shot of the subject, it had been taken a few
nights ago and Lilah was struck by how vampirism suited him. He’d
always been vaguely attractive, in a rough-trade kind of way, but
now that all the tiny imperfections of humanity had been smoothed
away he positively gleamed.
“Charles Gunn, born November 2, 1978, parents Charles Gunn
Sr. and Susan Gunn maiden name Stevens, both now deceased. One sister,
Alonna born June 14, 1981 also now deceased.”
“A long time associate of Angel, Mr. Gunn was turned by Angelus
a little over six weeks ago.” No need to go over how exactly
Angelus had reemerged but thank you Linwood, you dumb, dead, dick.
“He and with Angel were resouled through the intervention
of Wesley Wyndham-Price, another former associate of Angel’s.”
She flashed a picture of Wesley for the new hires. “Currently
estranged and a secondary target for acquisition.” Though
he was being a stubborn bastard at the moment. She pushed the trigger;
they were back to Gunn sitting outside in the Hyperion’s garden
after dark. He looked sad, poor baby, she’d have to see what
she could do about that.
“My point, boys and girls, is that we now have not one but
two souled vampires of the line of Aurelius. This raises certain
interesting possibilities because while the prophecies refer to
‘the vampire with a soul’ and occasionally mention ‘the
line of Aurelius’ they don’t actually identify Angel
by name.” She has their full attention now.
“I believe we have a new candidate capable of fulfilling
the prophecies. A souled vampire who is very different from Angel.
Charles Gunn is a volatile young man with a history of violence
and contempt towards the law. A young man who recently had his world
turned upside down and who is in, shall we say, a potentially vulnerable
state. A newly fledged vampire with all the desires and urges of
a powerful demon, and very little experience in controlling them.”
Lilah’s smile gleamed white and uncompromising. “Forget
about Angel. Angel is the old mission. We have a new mission: Charles
Gunn. We will subvert and gain control of Mr. Gunn before the end
of the quarter by, need I say it, any means necessary.”
She leaned forward. “Ideas?”
Linwood glanced at the clock. It was 9:22 a.m. It was always 9:22
a.m. Except when it was 1:55 p.m. The smell of burnt coffee hung
teasingly in the air, a lie like everything else here: there was
no coffee in hell. He felt the warning tingle and immediately returned
his gaze to the terminal screen before the correction started. The
pain of the corrections was quite extraordinary, especially considering
the fact that this body, with all its aches and pains was as unreal
as the coffee. Nevertheless his back and neck ache constantly, his
eyes burn and his head pounds from the (literally) endless hours
of staring at glowing green characters on a black screen. During
the immeasurable time he’s been here, he’d noticed an
ache spreading from his wrist to his forearm. The illusion only
went so far though: he never needed to sleep, or eat, or use the
toilet. Which was just as well since his unreal body was chained
by the ankle to his immovable and anti-ergonomic chair.
Back to work.
The index cards he had to transcribe were battered manila, handwritten
in faded ink. From the look of them Linwood guessed they date from
the 1930’s. It appeared that Wolfram and Hart’s digitization
program was running a little bit behind schedule. He put his hands
back on the keyboard and carefully entered the information.
Sex (if any): Male
Attorney: Geoff Entemann
Billing history: ref #268559200
When he was done, he dropped the card into the bin at the side
of his desk and picked up the next one. Repeat, ad infinitum. Linwood
hasn’t been this bored since first year torts. He’d
never thought he’d envy Holland Manners, but it was obvious
now that his predecessor had had a far superior contract. He at
least rated a corporeal presence.
The phone rang.
It took him a moment to register that it was happening outside
his head. He’d always regarded the blank-faced instrument
as background detail, no more useful than the clock. It rang again
and he warily picked up the receiver.
“Linwood? Honey? Is that you?”
“Marta?” His starved imagination provided an image
of her sitting on the edge of their bed in expensive lingerie, looking
every inch the trophy wife as she smiled into the phone. “How
did you get this number?”
“A friend of a friend. Linnie, how are you?” She sounded
so cheery, his defenses immediately went up.
“I’m dead, my dear. I’m a data entry clerk. How
do you suppose I am?”
“I’m so sorry Linnie, about everything. If it helps,
you had a lovely funeral. Everyone came.”
“Marta, dear; you never were much good at the schmoozing.
Why not save both of us some pain and simply tell me why you’re
“Linnie! I can’t believe…”
“Marta,” he interrupted. “I imagine this is a
very expensive call for you.” He heard her shift gears.
“Fine then Linnie. Well, after the funeral I was putting
our affairs in order and do you know what I found when I checked
the Swiss account?”
“Approximately 1,000 euros?”
“Yes. Which I thought was strange since according to the
quarterly statement we received just before your death, the balance
was 1.5 million. So I phoned Zurich and guess what? The bank informed
me that according to their records there’s never been more
than 1,500 euro in that account.”
“Where’s the money Linnie?”
“It’s in a safe place.”
“Linnie! You’re just being petty now, it’s not
like it can do you any good where you are.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” He could almost hear her
finely manicured fingers tighten on the receiver.
“What do you want Linnie?”
“Revenge. I want them dead. All of them: Angel, Wesley, his
vamp sidekick Gunn, that little bitch Cordelia and anyone who’s
standing too close. If I could kill the brat again, I would. And
I want out of here: I want a new body.”
“Linnie, be reasonable.” The sugar had leached from
of her voice, leaving only the bare boned bitch behind. “We
both worked in Contracts; you know what the chances are of breaking
your employment agreement. Plus, the senior partners really don’t
want Angel dead. The money won’t be much use to me if I’m
flayed alive and roasted over an eternal flame.”
“Nothing worthwhile comes without risk Marta.”
“Marta, I understand, it’s a difficult decision. I
you don’t want to take the risk, well you have other options.
Of course, you’d probably need to sell the house and buy something
a little more practical. You could always get a job, I’m sure
the firm would be glad to take you back.” They both knew that
if Marta had wanted to work she would never have married him.
She gave a dainty sigh. “Linnie, there’s no need to
be nasty. Of course I’ll help you. But you do understand it’s
going to be expensive…”
“I’m sure you’ll manage to cope my dear. There’s
that sapphire set I gave you last Christmas, you should be able
to get at least $10,000 for it if you’re strapped for cash.”
Silence. She’d have that face on now, the one that used to
mean that he would be sleeping in the other bedroom until she was
suitably bribed. “I’ll get back to you Linnie.”
She hung up.
Linwood trembled, then picked up the next card.
Cordelia stared at the phone. She’d been staring at the phone
for almost an hour, working up her courage. C’mon girl, you’ve
faced demons, survived a hell-dimension, not to mention Angelus.
You can do this.
She picked up the phone and dialed. The phone rang, and rang again.
And again. Oh well, nobody home; she’ll just try again later…
“Hello?” Hanging up now would be childish, irresponsible,
and would only delay the inevitable. Stand and deliver, you wuss.
“Hi Buffy.” She could feel the shock traveling back
down the telephone line. It was a really good connection. Cordelia
could hear birds chirping in the background.
“Cordelia?” Not the warmest greeting but hey, not like
they’d ever been friends.
“Been awhile, huh?”
“Is Angel O.K.?” Well, that didn’t take long.
Cordelia cleared her throat. “Physically, yeah. Mentally
– not so much. He hasn’t left his room in weeks. Gunn’s
the only one who sees him, and he hasn’t said a word to him
in a while.”
Cordelia Chase does not wimp out, she thought: I can do this. "Long
story well, still kinda long. Feel free to interrupt if you've heard
any of it before. O.K., it's like this: Last year, the lawyers raised
Darla as a human being---"
The whole sad story didn’t take as long to tell as she’d
thought it might, it helped that Buffy only interrupted a few times.
Mostly she just made various sound of shock, especially when Cordelia
got to the part about Connor.
“Angel had a kid.” Cordelia could hear the strain of
unwilling belief in Buffy’s voice.
“Yeah. His name was Connor, and he was the most beautiful,
most perfect little baby and Angel – Angel loved him so much.”
“Poor Angel.” Poor Connor, Cordelia thought. “No
wonder he’s depressed.”
Now came the really hard part. Cordelia steeled herself, determined
not to reveal too much. “Yeah, losing Connor pretty much wrecked
him, but there’s more: a week after Connor was stolen this
lawyer, name of Linwood Murrow, decided it would be fun to rip out
“Angelus,” Buffy breathed.
“Yup. And just as much fun as ever. Also Drusilla showed
up to help him.”
“Ohmigod, Cordelia. Is everyone O.K.?”
“No. Angelus killed Groo my boyfriend and Gunn and Fred –
uh, you didn’t know her, she worked with us and she was a
really nice person,. Kindatorturedme…”
“Um, Cordelia, didn’t you say something about Gunn
a minute ago…” She stopped. “Oh.”
“Yeah, but it’s O.K.—well kinda. Wesley got his
soul back. Angel's is permanent too, no more clause. Problem is,
Angel’s been kinda out of it, I’m still getting the
visions, and Gunn’s been doing most of the heavy demon-killing
and rescue, but he's not Angel. We really need help, at least until
“So, Buffy, are you doing anything this summer?”