Five Card Draw
I don't own The Dresden Files or Angel the Series. New City, Same Enemy
Chapter 16: Five Card DrawWesley's Apartment
“Come on Wesley, you can hardly hold me responsible for what happened at your offices this morning.” Lilah told the Ex-Watcher pacing icily in front of the couch she was sitting on in the Englishman's apartment. The dark-haired lawyer took a sip from the beer in her hand. “Neither I nor Wolfram and Hart told or asked Gregory to attack Oracle Securities, and neither did we, for that matter, give him and his brood any support – material or otherwise – for his ill-conceived effort.”
“Ill-conceived?!” Wesley snapped at her, stopping his pacing and turning to face her. “He killed four of my men and injured a not-insignificant portion of the rest.”
“At the cost of just about his entire brood.” Lilah retorted. “If Wolfram and Hart was in any way, shape or form behind the attack, we would have corrected the flaws in his plan. First of all, guns. You don't bring fists and kicks to a gun, sword and stake fight. And more importantly, he should have just charged into the basement no matter how entrenched your men might have been after they fled into it. We would have directed him to do that if we wanted to attack Oracle Securities so directly.
“Perhaps, but it was Wolfram and Hart who paid him to relocate to Chicago in the first place. He would still be on the Cleveland Hellmouth if your firm hadn't gotten involved. And more importantly,” Wesley continued, “you can't tell me that the money paid to him to come here wasn't, at least in part, used to support his attack, directly or indirectly.” He returned to his previous pacing.
Lilah shrugged. “Okay, you have me there. But Marcus Lott, for all his deficiencies, was never stupid enough to want a direct attack on Oracle Securities. That wasn't what he had in mind when he had Gregory contacted and brought in. Its just not how Wolfram and Hart operates in his dimension. And, perhaps of more immediate importance, to me at least, I
still can't be blamed in any way shape or form for what happened. I wasn't here when the call was made to bring Gregory to Chicago. I was still in Los Angeles. So don't take your frustrations out on me.” Then she smirked. “Well, not in the way you seem to be right now anyway.” She gestured to the empty spot on the couch next to her. “Sit. Your pacing is starting to annoy me.” Wesley didn't sit, but he did stop pacing.
“Be that as it may, you are still an evil, soulless employee of a law firm run by demons that is actively working towards the end of the world.”
“Cut the holier than thou.” Lilah scoffed. “Okay, granted, when you get right down to it you actually are
holier than I am, but A – that kind of attitude doesn't really suit you, and B – when you get right down to it, the vast majority of humanity is holier than you are, given that you work for a mafia boss and well...you're borderline psychotic.” She chuckled darkly. “Not that I mind, of course. And more importantly, you've known that I'm an evil, soulless employee of Wolfram and Hart the entire time we've known eachother, and you still choose to sleep with me. And not just once either. And yet again, here I am, a card carrying member of Team Evil, so to speak, sitting on your couch drinking your beer, and before the night is through we'll be having sex in your bed. Or,” She smirked. “on the floor, the couch, the table. You get the idea.”
Wesley sighed and sat down on the couch next to her. “I never once claimed to be perfect. I'm just less imperfect that you are. Besides,” he added, “it causes no harm to myself to keep in mind exactly what you are and who you work for, and will probably extend my lifespan. Given that I half-expect you to stab me in the back in my sleep at some point.” Although his tone carried with it a hint of facetiousness, the truth was that a part of him – small part by this point, admittedly – did
worry about that possibility. And yet here she was, and, he considered, she was exactly right about what would be happening before the night was over.Dear God I really need to get into a healthier relationship.
As always, however, he didn't let himself mire in the self-loathing associated with his 'relationship' – such as it was – with Lilah for more than a few moments. Instead, he opened and took a sip from the other bottle of beer that had been sitting on his coffee table. McAnally's, of course.
“Oh, give me some credit Wes. If I wanted to kill you, don't you think you'd be dead by now. Or at least I would have made the attempt – successfully or unsuccessfully?”
“I never said you wanted to kill me yet.” Wesley answered glibly. “But the fact of the matter is that at some point you might consider that a desirable option, or circumstances at or regarding Wolfram and Hart will require it.”
“How about I promise to give you three-days notice before I try to kill you?” Lilah asked with a slight smile.
Wesley shrugged. “I can't really trust that, now can I? If I got it in writing...” He shrugged again. “Maybe.”
There were a few minutes of silence between them. “Faith went and broke out of prison.” Lilah noted.
“So I hear.” Wesley replied noncommittally.
“You're not worried?”
“Not really. I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm that high on Faith's list of people to kill. I'm sure Angel and everyone back in Sunnydale ranks higher on it than myself, and with any luck, they'll prove themselves capable of dealing with her. And if she does arrive, well the ability of supersonic lead to end the vast majority of arguments leaves me quite confident there won't be a repeat of our previous...encounter.”Denna Frost's Office
“Miss Frost?” Denna looked up from her computer at her secretary, who was standing in the doorway of her office.
“You're 8:30 is here.”
“Send her in.” Denna replied. She quickly opened the relevant folder, to refresh her memory of this client. The Firm, of course, had a dossier on the woman, but Denna had never Jacinta Drake before.
A tall, dark haired woman walked into her office less than a minute later. Denna took a chance to quickly give her a once-over as Jacinta made her way to the empty chair on the other side of Denna's desk. She wore black robes that were trimmed with blood red, and her hands were covered by thin black gloves. The woman's sleeves were too long for her to see, but Denna knew that the gloves would go all the way up to Jacinta's elbows. Part of the uniform.
“Good afternoon, Miss Drake.” Denna said. “Please, sit.” She indicated the chair, even though it was the only other chair.
“I prefer to be called Jacinta, Lawyer.” She replied imperiously.
“Of course.” Denna bit back several comments that came to mind. Although her breakaway cult was much smaller than the one led by her brother Lucien back in California, Jacinta Drake had substantial financial resources at her disposal, and staying polite to her – however difficult doing so was – was just good business sense. “How may Wolfram and Hart help you, Jacinta?”
“There is an island, out in Lake Michigan I am attempting to purchase. However, there have been legal...complications that have made the purchasing process take much longer than I'd like. I would like for Wolfram and Hart to clear them up.”
Denna steepled her fingers. “I'd have to know precisely what 'complications' we're talking about, and of course, what island in particular you're seeking to purchase.Richard Carlise's Office
Richard Carlise slammed the phone into the receiver almost hard enough to break it. Damn Dresden!
That maddening wizard was fast proving to be the
greatest annoyance to Richard Carlise in a world full of things that annoyed Richard Carlise. Even more so than that eternal bane of his professional life, Denna. One more case had gone up in smoke because Dresden had kept a key witness alive and well long enough to go to trial.
The only comfort was that Denna was suffering as much as he was, as were all the major trial lawyers. Unfortunately, with this latest case to collapse, Denna was now ever so slightly ahead of him in the usually neck-and-neck race between them for status and success in the company.
“And If I'm not careful, the damn bitch will leverage that into a way to leave me into the dust.” A 'ding' sound from his computer distracted him, and he smiled when he saw who had written the newly arrived e-mail. Recruiting Denna's secretary had been quite the coup, and while the information was usually mostly useless, every little bit helped in their conflict. He opened the e-mail in question, smiling within the first few words, his grin only growing wider as he read on.
It was time to have a word with Lindsey McDonald. This wouldn't be of particular use to him to improve his own position, but...
Letting the traitor know meant letting Oracle Securities know. And Oracle Securities was in a position to turn this information into a lead weight around Denna's neck.
That this would hurt the firm was a whole was irrelevant. Wolfram and Hart could handle plenty of hits. His long term career interests was more important than a minor set back for the company.Diocletian's Hideout
“I do not part with secrets easily, Miss Drake.” The old man said, his voice rattling out from his hooded face. “Why do you think I would tell to you the secrets you are asking for? If, for that matter, I even know them.”
Jacinta rolled her eyes. “If you're about to tell me that keeping a secret about knowing a secret, you can just shut up. I'm not here for a lecture about the power of secrets. I'm here to make a trade.”
“What is it you have to offer, then?”
“I'm sure you are well aware of the dark magics my brother and his idiotic followers out in the West Coast have recently acquired through the sacrifice of their children.”
“Yes.” Diocletian replied. Powerful cults did not accumulate magic like that without garnering notice. “Where is this going?”
“I can tell you the secrets about those magics, and...well, what you do with that is irrelevant to me. Trade it, use it. I don't really care.” Jacinta replied.
“That is an interesting offer.” The old warlock replied. “But I don't think that that information is as useful or as powerful as the secret you are asking me to impart to you. But,
that said, it is useful and powerful. I have a counter-offer. Amy!” The old man called out into the darkened doorway leading deeper into the structure he'd taken as his residence in recent days. A brown haired woman wearing all black stepped into view. She had a slightly sullen, angry expression on her face. “This is Amy, my apprentice. I will give her the information you seek, and she shall perform the rituals that those secrets are required to perform. Then, of course, you shall have what it is you seek.”
“I can hardly trust that.” Jacinta replied.
“You know full well that when I actually deign to give my word to anyone, I keep it.” Diocletian replied harshly. “And I control my apprentice utterly, for I know her true name.”
“You are idiot if you think I will use her true name in front of you, and thus allow you to share in that control, Jacinta Drake.”
“I have a third name, so don't think you know my true one.” Jacinta replied haughtily.
“Of that I am well aware.” He replied. “But that is my final offer.”
“Give me your word first, and then we can make our transaction.” Jacinta replied after several minutes of intense thought. There was no way she could pass down the opportunity to get what the rituals produced, even if she had to go round-about like this. With the power it would give her, she could bring down her fool of a brother and add his cult to her own, like it should have been before Lucien used underhanded tactics to steal it from her, forcing her to lead this breakaway group all the way to Chicago in an effort to both evade death and garner the power she'd need to take back what was rightfully hers.
Diocletian bowed his head a moment, hands clasped in front of him. “I, Diocletian, give you my word that if you give to me the secret of the dark magics your brother, Lucien Drake, has been acquiring through the sacrifice of his followers' children, then I shall give my apprentice the knowledge of how to awaken Azhelmenek of Makhash. At which point I will order said apprentice to perform the rituals that knowledge imparts, and grant you, Jacinta Drake, control of Azhelmenek.” The warlock intoned his words with a careful solemnity. You could say many things about Diocletian, most of them bad, but he took oaths very seriously. The oath done, he raised his head and lowered his hands. “Satisfied.”
“Not really.” Jacinta replied. “But that will have to do.”
“Very well. Amy, return to your room and resume your exercises. I will call for you when I need you.”
“Of course, Master.” Amy replied insolently, but she did as she was told. Diocletian turned back to Jacinta.
Jacinta frowned, but held up her end of the bargain.Bar
Richard hadn't come back to this bar since his first encounter with Lindsey McDonald – the risk of getting caught fraternizing with a traitor to the company was too much, in his mind. But he did know that the head of Oracle Securities's legal department still drank here on a semi-regular basis, doing his best to bother those Wolfram and Hart lawyers, clerks and paralegals that did
still drink there. And occasionally getting useful tidbits of information from them about various cases.
That was the main reason why this whole meeting left a bad taste in Richard's mouth. Lindsey McDonald had, like Dresden, been blowing Wolfram and Hart cases up left and right. The firm was still winning most of its cases, or tying them up in technicalities for months or years to come – the resources it had on hand, even leading aside jury brainwashing meant that they were still top dog, legally speaking – but Lindsey was still proving to be an annoyance, and more than one of Richard's cases had been lost to Lindsey and the rest of Oracle Securities's legal team. Usually in tandem with Harry Dresden pulling witnesses that were supposed to be dead or on the run out of his hat. Obviously the two were working in collusion to create as much trouble for Wolfram and Hart as they could.
Richard saw Lindsey drinking at the bar. It was easy to recognize him even if you hadn't met him before. His sleeves were rolled up just a bit, and the tattoos that protected him from magical and technological surveillance were visible to all. Richard sat down at the stool next to Lindsey, ignoring the other lawyer for the moment, and ordered a Jack Daniels. Once he drink arrived, he sat down and continued to, almost pointedly, ignore Lindsey.
Eventually, Lindsey smirked and spoke. “Long time since you've been here, Carlise.” The Texan drawled. “Given that you've been avoiding this place since I started showing up here, and now that you're back you're sitting next to me, I'd assume you're here for me.”
“Are you always this egocentric, Lindsey?” Richard asked as he took a sip from his drink.
“I'm a lawyer.” Lindsey quipped. “It's part of the job description.”
“How much do you know about a man called Lucien Drake.”
“He's a warlock that leads a cult out on the West Coast. What does that have to do with Chicago?”
“He's got a sister, name of Jacinta, and she's got herself leading a little cult that broke away from Lucien's. And they've shown up in Chicago.” Richard continued, “They decide to ask Denna to clear up some legal barriers to a certain purchase they're looking to make.”
Ah. That would explain why he's here. Lindsey was reminded of his own rivalry with Lilah. He suspected she'd made the same connection from her position at the top of the pyramid here in Chicago. Though he wasn't sure if he'd have gone as far as selling out a client to an enemy of the firm like Richard was doing. Then again, until Angel showed up, there weren't really any enemies of Wolfram and Hart worth mentioning in Los Angeles, and there simply hadn't been any opportunities to undermine Lilah by selling a client out. The one time he had blown the whistle, it had been his own project, and that had been because of an outcry from a conscience he'd long thought shriveled up and dead. Lindsey didn't say anything. He knew how the game was going to have to work.
“They're trying to get their hands on an island out in Lake Michigan.” He named the island in question. “Whatever they've got planned, I'm sure its not something involving happiness and roses. At least not for your side. I'm sure whatever it is will leave them thrilled, and Wolfram and Hart stands to do just fine from the fees.”
Now it was Lindsey's turn to take a sip from his drink. “Interesting.”
“Indeed it is.” Richard replied. Lindsey considered for a moment. This could be an elaborate plan on the part of Richard or Wolfram and Hart as a whole to hurt Oracle Securities. But if I wasn't – and there was good reason to believe that it at least wasn't 100% that. Lindsey knew first hand how viscous the conflict between rivals at Wolfram and Hart could be. Lindsey removed some money from his wallet and left it on the bar top, then left the bar. Once outside, he took out his cell phone and dialed Wesley.
“Yes, Lindsey?” He heard the Ex-Watcher say from the other end.
“Wes. How much do you know about a Jacinta or Lucien Drake?”
“The name sounds vaguely familiar. But not much more than that.”
“Probably best if we don't talk about it on the phone. I'll meet you in the War Room in twenty. Have Abigail and Mark there too.”
“Alright.” Wesley said after a moment, then hung up.