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Chapter Eleven

Fan Fiction: From the Shadows

Chapter Eleven: Legal Grounds

"Lawyers as a group are no more dedicated to justice or public service than a private public utility is dedicated to giving light."
~David Melinkoff, Professor of Law, UCLA


The doorknob turned slowly in Wesley's hand, and then the wooden door began to swing open. The hinges had to be oiled, Jonathan thought, or maybe magically silenced, because they didn't make any sound. Of course, it could just be that the nervous breathing of their group was drowning it out.

The door finished opening without fanfare or magical effect, revealing a small white cube of a room. There was only one stick of furniture in the entire space-- a large mahogany desk, neatly accessorized with a check-in log, a little perpetual-motion toy, a golden pen in a small flared holder, and a little etched sign that read "Rhaogan, Security".

Jonathan looked up from his study of the desk, and swallowed as he took in Rhaogan himself. Itself. Whatever. Were there demons with more than two genders? This particular specimen seemed humanlike for the most part, with an extra helping of muscles, but there were a few obvious differences. Rhaogan was built like Shaq, and was similarly dark, but his skin was textured and rough, like tree bark. His head was covered in shockingly mobile, bright green hair that weaved through the air around his face, and inch-long claws instead of fingernails. Long bone spurs jutted out of his wrists.

"Here, now, you..." the large demon began, in a rumbling deep voice, and began to rise out of his chair.

"Vydd demon," Wesley hissed, and drew his sword in the blink of an eye, pressing the edge of the blade to the left side of the being's neck.

Rhaogan froze, blinking slowly at the ex-Watcher, then squinted his dark, pupil-less eyes and clicked one fingernail twice against the desk. Extra lamps suddenly switched on in the ceiling, focused tightly on the area in front of the desk, and a loud Clunk! announced the sealing of the door behind them.

"Bloody hell!" The soft hiss of steam accompanied Spike's shout, and Jonathan grabbed instantly for the vampire's wrist. The Vydd must have mistaken Wes for one of the undead, but Spike was the one frying in the full-spectrum light beams.

The light-warping invisibility spell swallowed Spike, diverting the UV-bearing rays around him, and the frying sounds stopped. The vampire looked a mite pink in the face, but he hadn't had time to really burn. "This doesn't count towards those spells you owe me, you know," he said in a sarcastic tone, but there was relief in the thankful gaze he turned on Jonathan.

"You're welcome, Spike," Jonathan replied quietly, with a small smile.

Meanwhile, Rhaogan had abruptly paled, turning a sort of chalky greyish color, and raised his hands off the desk. Wesley was making a soft growling noise, braced tensely as if he couldn't make up his mind whether he should go ahead and take the Vydd demon apart.

"That wasn't very polite of you," Wesley snarled. "To make up for it, why don't you unlock the door into the facility proper?"

The demon reached a claw hesitantly toward the desk again, then flinched when Wesley moved the edge of his blade, moving it up to the corner of the demon's jaw. "No more tricks," Wesley said, and Rhaogan nodded slowly before tapping a short pattern on the wooden surface.

A door clicked open on the far side of the room, where there had been only blank wall a moment before. The sunlamps shut off at the same time, and Spike shook off Jonathan's hand.

Wesley pulled back the sword, then started to swing it again, but the Vydd abruptly pulled back and dropped to his knees behind the desk, out of range. "Golden child," it rumbled, watching him with those large, dark eyes, then bent forward and presented his neck as if for an easy blow. "If you wish my life, then I offer it freely."

"What...?" Jonathan exclaimed. Was this more prophecy stuff? Because otherwise, this scenario was making absolutely no sense.

"Oh, bugger," Spike muttered.

Wesley paused, chest heaving, staring intently at the bowed form before him, then abruptly reversed his sword and coldcocked the demon. Rhaogan collapsed unconscious to the floor.

"Wesley?" Faith asked, stepping forward and gripping her ex-Watcher's wrist. "Are you okay?"

He blinked at her, then sighed and put the sword away. "Tie him up," he said, shortly. "We need to keep moving. There isn't time to get into the ramifications of what he said just now."

"If you say so," she said with a shrug, but she frowned as she moved to do his bidding.

Spike didn't dismiss the subject that swiftly. "Watcher," he said, prowling over in front of Wesley, wearing a tense expression. "You know something about this golden child nonsense, don't you? Did Angel tell you about the Aurelius prophecies?"

"The what?" Wesley said, looking startled. "No, I heard of the golden child through a Lubber demon sect... Do you mean to say there are prophecies specifically linked to your vampiric line?"

Spike scowled. "You're right, there's no time to get into it now. But you and me are going to have a little chat when this is all finished."

Wesley scowled back for a moment, then nodded shortly. "Agreed."

The hall beyond the far door was as blank and featureless as the entry room, lined with other, more standard doors. There was a person standing several yards in with her back to them, but she didn't appear to hear their entry.

Spike carefully set down his briefcase against the wall, then nodded at Faith and jerked his head down the hall in the direction of the female lawyer. She nodded back, and the two started stalking down the hall, silently creeping up on their target.

There was a gasp from down the hall, and it became obvious that the lady lawyer hadn't heard them because she was on her cell phone. "How could he have escaped?" she yelled. "I just turned him over to Gavin two hours ago! ...No, Gavin isn't here yet... What? He was going through the tunnels? ...I don't believe this! We don't have the time! ...All right. I'll secure the girl first, then. Have the psychics start scanning for them. Remember, we only have 36 hours to finish setting everything up."

She jabbed the off button angrily and dropped the phone into the jacket pocket of her suit, then stormed off down the hall. In a matter of moments, she would be out of sight and around the corner.

Jonathan glanced over at Wesley, then at the two supernatural warriors stalled halfway down the hall, then sighed. They needed to follow this lawyer, right, and find out what was going on? And guess who was the only person who could possibly get away with that. "Prep me a shot of counteragent," he whispered to Wesley. "I'll be back."

"What?" Wesley whispered back. "Counteragent? I don't..."

Jonathan sighed. "Sci/Fi TV reference," he replied, then took a deep breath and started jogging after the lady lawyer as quietly as he could.

He was very grateful for his invisibility when he turned the corner and found her entering an elevator. She stared right through him a couple of times as he tiptoed in after her, and paused once to look around when he goofed and bumped into the elevator wall. Quiet breaths, Jonathan, he reminded himself, quiet breaths.

The lawyer finally shrugged and tossed her shoulder-length dark hair back, then crouched in front of the bank of buttons and started pressing them in a random sequence. After several of the buttons were lit up, they all blinked at once and then faded out. "Damn it!" she exclaimed. "Fucking magic elevators. You'd think one of these days I'd at least hit the White Room sequence or something else interesting." Then she tried the buttons again, this time pressing 3 instead of 5 halfway through the sequence.

A fragment of Monty Python bubbled up in Jonathan's brain at that.

((Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceedest to three. Five is right out.))

She finished the sequence then, and a larger green button materialized above the standard set. She pursed her lips in satisfaction, then pressed it, and stepped back into the center of the elevator. She faced the closed doors with chin up and plastic lawyer-smile in place.

Her cell phone rang again as the elevator ascended, and her smile slipped. She fished the phone out of her pocket with an irritated frown and answered sharply. "Lilah. What now? ...Oh, you caught him? ...Good. I was beginning to wonder about you, if you couldn't even keep tabs on a chemically crippled chaos mage. ...Uh Huh. Just don't lose him again. ...Okay, I'll stop by on my way to the meeting ...Right. Keep searching for Gavin."

This was Lilah, then? Jonathan wondered. The lawyer the others had mentioned? She had to be someone important. He'd bet that the meeting thing she referred to was the one between Dawn and her father. And the part about the chaos mage? Was it possible? If they'd caught Ethan before he left L.A. ...but surely there were other chaos mages around? Jonathan started fidgeting with the talismans in his pocket again in frustration.

Lilah's head snapped around after the first few muted clicking noises, and she stared right into his corner for several seconds. Jonathan froze, not even daring to breathe. Stupid, stupid, stupid, he told himself. One of these days you're going to get yourself killed!

The elevator slowed to a halt, and the floor indicator gave a soft "ding." Lilah frowned and stepped back to the door, still casting glances in his direction. "I swear. If I find out the legal secretaries are playing pranks with the ghosts again..." The doors finished opening and she shook her head, stepping out onto the plush carpeted floor.

Carpet? Cool. Sneaking around quickly on carpet was much easier than tiptoeing across concrete or tile. Any kid worth his salt had that figured out by his fifth birthday. Jonathan eased out of the elevator after Lilah and took a quick peek to his right and left before hurrying after her.

This place just stank of money. The furnishings, the carpet, the wood panelling, the artwork hanging on the walls, the expensive suits on all the lawyers. He wished Warren could see this-- it made their little attempt at evil overlordship look like, well, what it was. Little boys playing grown-up games. It was also pretty tempting. Not so long ago, before Katrina, Jonathan might have gone looking for a sign-up sheet.

Lilah stopped at the open door of a conference room and made a summoning gesture to someone inside. Another female lawyer, younger and red-haired, came out for a moment and whispered to her. Lilah nodded, murmured something back, then waved the lawyer back inside and moved on. Jonathan peered briefly into the same room as he followed, and felt his heart sink. There was Dawn, already present, and Buffy sitting next to her; there were lawyers at the table, and an empty seat that must be meant for their father.

Well, it was too late to warn them. Jonathan could go back to the elevator and hope the magic button sequence worked in reverse; or, he could keep following Lilah and try to find out more. She said 36 hours, after all. It wasn't like Dawn was going to get killed in an hour unless he brought the cavalry back. And speaking of cavalry, where was Giles? Wasn't he supposed to have brought the girls here?

A sudden shiver went through him then, and he frowned. Where had that come from? It wasn't cold in here. In fact...

A door opened up further down the hall, and a man stepped out, staring straight at him. The guy wasn't wearing the traditional lawyer suit; he was wearing some sort of loose, flowing outfit topped with a turban, and his eyes weren't quite all there. But it was obvious that he knew exactly where Jonathan was.

"Shit," Jonathan whispered, backing away. "Psychics." He should have paid more attention to that part; Lilah had set them to search the building. His disguise might bend light, but it obviously didn't hide him from mental eyes.


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