FIC: A New World (16/?)
“Welcome to Wolfram & Hart.” Ilona Costa Bianchi’s beaming smile didn’t falter when the two men before her didn’t answer, the gaze apparently mesmerised by her chest. Instead she took the opportunity to examine her law firm’s new clients.
The older of the two men appeared to be in his mid-seventies, his hair was entirely grey, his watery eyes hidden by horn-rimmed glasses, and his right, liver-spotted hand clutching onto a walking cane he stooped over. The younger man was a completely different matter. Medium height with a slender build, the moustached and bespectacled youth was twenty at the most.
Finally the older man spoke, his voice quavering with age. It was times like this when Ilona was most grateful for the anti-aging side benefits of being employed by Wolfram & Hart. “Good day,” the ancient took a rattling breath, “dear. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m Jonathan Nelson, and this,” he glanced towards the younger man prowling behind him, “is my grandson. Richard Nelson.”
“Bella! Bella!” she beamed at her new clients. “And might I ask how you managed to get such rare texts.”
The old man smiled, revealing a set of revoltingly yellowed teeth. “I’m sure you’ve heard of the Immortal’s demise.”
The Immortal? Ilona’s smile widened. The entire Italian demon underworld had been in a complete uproar about the killing of the Immortal and his destruction of his estates. On the other hand Wolfram & Hart were quite ecstatic about having a thorn in their side removed. “Ah,” Ilona beamed at the Englishman. “Wonderful. The Immortal,” she spat, the book dealer jumped back with an agility that belied his age. “Was a disreputable scoundrel. He will not be missed. And now to business, you have the texts?” the bookseller nodded. “May I take them, just to check they’re authentic of course. Not that a man of honour such as yourself would ever try and pass off forgeries,” she hurriedly added.
Jonathan Nelson smiled, a gleam in his eyes suggesting the rascal he’d once been. “But of course my dear,” the old man slowly turned. “Richard? ‘The Prophecies of Dullworth’ please?”
The youth passed her the heavy tome. She nodded appreciatively at the teen before turning to his grandfather. After I’ve run the checks over this, I’ll take you to see Bartax. Might I ask why you want to find Mr. Wells?”
The two males exchanged glances before the older Nelson spoke, his tone indignant. “I used to have my business in Sunnydale.” Ilona nodded, she was of course aware of the small but once very important California town. “Because of the Hellmouth, the amount of business I did was most satisfactory. But in November 2001, Wells and two of his associates stole some very important texts from me. It took me a while to discover who’d stolen property by which time his accomplices had died and Wells was under the protection of Buffy Summers. But now, with the Council gone I will get the little bastard!”
Ilona nodded. As an Italian, Vendetta was a concept she understood. “I’ll just be a few minutes,” she promised before exiting.
* * *
“Did you see her chest?”
Giles shot Connor an irritated look, teenagers and their bloody hormones. “Please Richard,” he deliberately kept his voice disapproving. “Walls have ears,” a subtle reminder to keep their covers intact. “Have a little decorum.” Although the lawyer did have Bristols the size of small nations.
* * *
“X,” Faith took a breath before continuing. “Can I come in?”
Faith grinned as she walked into X’s room to find him laid on his bed reading. She snatched the offending item from him and laughed. “You still reading the comics?”
Xander shot her a pained look before grabbing the comic book back. “You wanted something?”
Faith looked around. “Yeah,” she licked her lips. “Can I sit down?”
“Be my guest.”
“Thanks,” she stared at the man for an eternity. God, this was hard. And it wasn’t she had much practice at this.
She started at the founding Scooby’s voice. “Yeah, sorry. I wanna apologise for all the shit I did to you-.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Xander shook his head. “Past is p-.”
“Damn it!” she exclaimed. “I’ve been wanting to do this for over three years! Just let me do it, k?”
Xander blinked at her explosion. “Sure,” a smile tugged at her new Watcher’s lips, “seeing as you asked so nicely.”
She glared at the man, his grin widened. Faith had to resist the urge to shake her head, most people ran for the hills when she glared, X thought it was funny. “When I hit Sunnyd, I had you figured. You were a guy and I was Faith, so all you wanted from me was to get me on my back. Then that night you came to see about Finch,” the deputy mayor’s name stuck in her throat for a second before clearing. “I thought fuck it. I’ve let guys use me all my life, I’ve got the power why the fuck should I let them use me any more?”
“I wasn’t -.”
She continued over Xander’s protests. “First six months inside I didn’t give you a second thought – Finch, Worth, trying to kill Angel and B, they haunted me, but you, nothing. Then I was in the shower -.”
“And suddenly I’m a lot more interested.”
Faith ignored Xander’s muttered comment. “This girl in my crew was going on about her bro, how he was visiting her. How he’d promised her a home and a job in his company when she made parole, what a great guy he was. Then it hit me. That was you’d been offering me that, to be there for me, but I’d been too dumb to realise.” Faith chuckled at the bitter memory. “Damn, it was wicked hard to keep my shit together to the end of the shower. If I’d have broken down crying, word would have been out that I was ripe for anyone fixing to take my place as prison boss.”
Faith closed her eyes for a second before continuing. “God, I so wanted to say sorry to ya, Wes too, but I figured it wasn’t going to happen. ‘Cause hello,” she shrugged and smiled painfully. “Twenty-five to life. Then I broke out to help Fang, and Red brought me back to Sunnyhell.”
“God,” she shook her head. “I was so fucking scared. I didn’t give a shit about B, me and her were over, she’d always hate me ‘cause I was another Slayer and my link to Fang. G,” she shrugged, “I’d wanted so much for him to care about me, but now I didn’t give a shit. Red, we just hit it off – members of the reformed bitches club, I guess. But you,” Faith glanced at Xander. “Fuck, I walked to your room four times that first night, but I couldn’t get up the nerve to talk to you. Then everything went down with Caleb and you kinda,” her voice trailed off.
“Fell apart?” Xander supplied with a wry grin.
“Well yeah. I tried but you were kinda in the same place I was after Finch.” Faith paused, forcing down the lump in her throat. “God, it hurt so much seeing you like that and not being able to help you. So, here it is,” she took a rattling breath. “I’m sorry for treating ya like crap after we had sex and for nearly killing you.”
“The sex wasn’t that bad,” she glared at Xander. “Hey, just trying to lighten the mood.”
“Don’t,” she stood, suddenly feeling lighter than she had in years. “Any time, any place I got your back. Five by five?”
“Five by five,” Xander smiled. “And sorry for being a jerk to you this past year.”
“No prob,” she turned to the door, unable to look at the man while she asked the next question. “You ever think what might have been?”
“Actually I spend most of the time wondering if women prisons are really like Caged Heat.”
Faith laughed before glancing over her shoulder at the grinning Sunnydaler. “Keep wondering, ‘cause I ain’t tellin’.”
"Come on, another shower story, that's all I'm asking for. What was all that about having my back? You're failing me in my hour of need here..." Faith closed the door on Xander’s wheedling, trying but failing to stop a smile from rising.
* * *
Giles looked up as the door swung open and their surgically-enhanced, she bloody had to be, host strode in. “Congratulations sir,” the lawyer beamed. “The book you got from the Immortal,” the Italian beauty paused to spit. “Is genuine. If you have the other volumes?”
Giles withheld a grimace as he passed over the other two texts. It rankled with him, to give such unique and priceless texts to such a powerful enemy. Not to mention the risk to him and Connor if their cover was blown. But it was worth it. Never mind Wood, the other Watchers, and Slayers, he’d give his very soul to avenge Buffy and Willow. “Lead the way my dear.”
* * *
“The reports are true then?” Agent F nodded. His boss sighed. “It would appear that we’ve misjudged Angelus and his cohorts’ capabilities. Ah, never mind, the Immortal would have to be disposed with at some point. Saves us a job.”
“He could lead them to Wells,” Agent F pointed out. Not that he cared, in his opinion the little twerp was more of a hindrance than a help, but he was a security risk.
His boss smiled. “And that is something we can use.”
* * *
Giles swallowed before entering the darkened room. Here was the reason he’d sacrificed his principles and priceless texts for. In the far corner of the room there sat a glowing green blob with luminous red eyes.
The lump was one of W&H’s most prized weapons, a Parlax demon. All you had to do was say the name of a person, object, book, whatever, and the monster would tell you in which city in the world what you sought was. The only limitation was the Parlax could only do one location a week. For a second he stared at the demon, the scholar in him wanting to savour this rare opportunity. He produced a photograph to help with the search and spoke. “Where is Andrew Wells?”