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Author's Note: Some dialogue borrowed from Billy. Enjoy.

Pieces Of The Puzzle.

Los Angeles was resembling an old abandoned and deserted western town this morning, despite daylight having hit some hours ago. Looking at it, one would almost expect tumbleweeds to roll across the road, followed by a load of dust and a whistling wind. Of course, there was the very conspicuous buildings and objects of the twenty-first century, but the atmosphere was still there.

Two lone figures emerged out of an nineteen twenties/thirties style edifice to alter this cowboy ghost town western image. One was the classic, tall, dark and handsome. The other, a blond slip of a girl, though she had hit womanhood a long time ago. They walked out from the entrance and down the steps. The couple took their time, a luxury they had only acquired the ability to enjoy recently, despite there being a deadline one of them needed to stick to on this particular occasion.

At the foot of the stairs, the couple came to halt, where a black, 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX convertible, had been parked on the road in front of the building, waiting. The blond slip of a girl turned to face the tall, dark and handsome, who without a word of prompting, put his arms around her. The blond pressed herself close to her companion, resting her face on the dark sweater he was wearing under the long leather coat, inhaling his unique scent. The dark one rested his head on her blond hair, inhaling hers.

Silence took reign over the city of Angels again. Neither one of the couple currently embracing each other wanted to break it by parting or speaking. Time seemed to stop, freezing the rather appropriately filmic scene for all eternity. But, in reality, like everything else in this world, the scene could not remain unchanged forever. Any moment now, a band would strike up for the traditional musical overture, followed by a director shouting 'cut' or 'that's a rap!'

Aware of the pressing engagement before one of them today, the nestling contrast of heads slowly moved from their positions, and gazed into each other's eyes. Formulating resolves. A moment later the dark's arms loosened their embrace around the blonde's slender waist, and the girl softly parted from his protection and comfort. Silently, she held out her hand to him.

His hand moved to a pocket in his leather coat, slipped inside, and brought out the required object. He threw it into his girlfriend's hand. "Remember," he spoke, finally breaking the odd silence of this morning. "Not a scratch."

The blond chuckled, smiling innocently at him. "Scout's honour," she replied, before moving to unlock the driver's door. "Or should I say slayer's?"

"That's what I'm afraid of," her companion replied, before the teasing banter came to an end. His face went solemn. "Seriously, take care."

"I always do," she replied, just as solemnly, looking back at him. Suddenly, a soft sigh escaped her and she put her arms around his neck. "I love you, you know."

Their lips touched. Not in a kiss reserved for the long departures from each other, nor the one reserved for the brief ones. Rather a kiss of confirmation, for what they felt for each other. Renewing the eternal vow of togetherness.

"I know," he added to her when they had pulled apart for air. One of his hands went to the car door and opened it for her. He watched her get inside, then closed it. Slipping his hands into his pockets, he took a step back, and watched her as she put the key into the ignition and started the engine.

The car alive and rearing to go, she turned and gazed up at him through the open window from the driver's seat. He returned the expression of affection instantly. Then she placed her hands on the wheel, and turned.

The Plymouth moved out on to the road. His eyes fixed on the blond head of driver, and silently watched as the vehicle drove off into the distance. Only when it was nothing more than a blip in his vision, did tall and dark move from his spot.


In the business district of the city, the offices of Wolfram and Hart were also one of the few industries awake and active at this time of the morning.

Lilah Morgan, Head of the Special Projects Department, walked with catlike grace down one of the many corridors. Her head was raised, eyes straight ahead, focusing on the destination. In her hand she carried a slim file of papers. Her entire attitude screamed what it had always screamed recently. Keep away.

She came to a halt outside her office. Reaching into her pockets, she drew a key and put it into the lock. Such security in a firm who made it daily practice to watch its employees as much as they watched their clients, was technically pointless, but on this occasion, the measure was both necessary, and reassuring.

Quickly she stepped inside the large office, locking the door behind her. A swift glance around the room confirmed that the surveillance devices were still switched off. Usually there was someone who would immediately notice such an incident and turn them back on, but then this law firm had not been having a good week. Or to put it more accurately, a good few months.

Things had gone to hell in a hand basket approximately three months ago. Since the discovery of a major hiccup to their plans for their main objective; things at Wolfram and Hart had resembled a scene like Dresden just before the bombs came crashing down. Each member of the law firm, board members included, now wore expressions of dread on their faces, as though the sky was going to fall at any moment.

Like most of them, Lilah Morgan had been just as stunned at the bolt of blue turning of events. At first, that is. Then she had taken a step back, and looked at the situation objectively. Though it might have taken some time, a plan had soon emerged before her analytical mind. Ever the lawyer, she had let it remain nothing more than an idea for some time, while she carefully examined it from every angle, evaluating options, outcomes, consequences, and worst case scenarios.

When the plan had become a viable one, only then had Lilah decided to act upon it. And today was that action day.

She walked further into her temporary hideout- for temporary it was to be until the internal security was fixed -and set the file she had been carrying on her desk. Then she turned to the wall opposite, walked forward, an picked up one of the displayed objects upon the shelves. Slowly she set it on the floor.

The object was different from all the other objet d'arts currently on show in her office, but similar at the same time. Though its arrival had been more recent than the rest, its surroundings had long been set up with the idea in mind to make it look like the object had been present in this room since time immemorial.

Lilah sat behind her desk. She gazed at the large, ancient urn on the middle of her office floor for a moment, considering. A part of her was wondering if she stared at it long enough, the urn would send her sign as to whether this plan would actually work to her's and the firm's advantage in the long run. The urn stared back, revealing nothing.

Lilah sighed. Then she lifted up the file on her desk, opened it, and began to read.


The Plymouth had been on the main interstate for no more then twenty minutes when the driver turned off at the required exit. Moving on to a less crowded highway, the vehicle remained on the road for another few miles then turned into the driveway of the destination. After the appropriate identification had been given and authorised, the car was parked in one of the many empty places reserved for visitors. Ignition was turned off, driver's door opened.

Blond gracefully exited the car. Carefully, she shut the door, applied lock, then alarm before stepping away. Turning round, she established her bearings, then made her way to the entrance.

Showing her identification and pass to one of the security officers inside, she stood silently in wait for them to be checked. When authorisation had been granted, she walked through the metal detector. A beep sounded. Automatically she held out her arms and stood still as the remote device was swept up and down her body. Calmly she showed her jewelry to the officer, who nodded and pronounced her clear.

Another officer took her down the long corridor to the next destination. A few doors were passed, followed by blank, reinforced walls, then bullet proof glass. The officer came to a halt and reached for her keys. The entrance was unlocked. The officer then stood back, holding the door, and allowed the girl to go through.

Walking forward, the blond came to a halt at the further glass and wall barrier which split the room in half, and sat down in one of the chairs.

In the distance, noises could be heard. Someone moved to unlock a door. Footsteps sounded on a floor, gradually getting louder as they came closer. The blond in the chair sat up, alert and waiting. A loud click was made as the entrance to the otherside of the room was unlocked and opened.

The dark-haired woman which stepped into the room did not appear surprised to see a blond instead of the dark that usually visited her. But then she had known that the blond would be coming since this morning. Silently she nodded to the guard and walked to the chair in front of the glass and wall barrier, opposite her waiting visitor, and sat down.

Half a second later, the blonde's and dark's hands moved as if one, to the handset in the narrow wall either side of them, which divided them from all the other occupants. Together they picked up the black receiver and put it to their ears.

The dark haired one spoke first.

"Hey, B," she remarked into the receiver.

"Hey, Faith," replied Buffy.


Lilah Morgan finished reading the last document, and closed the file resting in her hands. Silently she set it on her desk. Raising her head, she glanced at the urn that was still standing in the middle of her office floor.

What she was about to undertake was extremely risky. Not to mention dangerous, for all involved. But it could also prove highly lucrative. In other words, if she pulled this off, the firm would be offering her everything she had ever wanted. Power, prestige, riches, could all be hers.

As long as this worked, that is. If on the other hand the plan went the way of the last plan she had undertaken, then it would not be too long before she found herself having to follow the example of the last Head of Special Projects and hightail her way out of here. While she was still breathing and whole.

Over the recent weeks Lilah had come to look upon her previous rival and joint legal partner in this department with something approaching grudging respect. While his motives for departure may have been ones she did not agree with- nor ever would, she believed -she could not deny the possibility that it might have been a wise move. Especially considering all that had come afterwards.

But Lilah Morgan had never been one who gives up when the going gets tough. Her mind had always maintained the ability to find another solution, even when the situation seemed impossible to resolve.

This thinking was the item which had brought her to the current situation she was now in. It had brought her to the action of taking the urn from the vaults during one late night all security blackout- Wolfram and Hart had been experiencing a lot of those lately, all seemingly without any cause or point of origin -and moving it to her office. This same thinking had also led to her hiding said urn in plain sight for several days, so no one would notice the sudden appearance and disappearance of it in her office and ask why.

Now it was to lead her to the next stage of her plan. A plan which she could no longer avoid putting into action. A plan, which, because of the many risks involved, she had delayed until precisely this moment.

Rising from her chair, Lilah Morgan walked over to the urn. Coming to a halt before it, she reached into the pocket of her designer business suit, and took out a folded piece of paper. Slowly, she read aloud the printed words of the incantation contained upon it.

The air seemed to crackle around her. A mist slowly swirled out of the top. Spiralling towards the ceiling. Leadenly it settled into its new and larger surroundings, gradually taking shape and form.

Lilah stood watching it, a phrase passing through her mind. The genie was out of the bottle.


"So," Faith began, "long time no see."

Buffy nodded. She settled into the chair, adopting a sense of causal. "How's things?"

"Aside from living the life of a nun, five by five." Faith smiled. "You?"

"To say that things are a lot better than when we last saw each other, would be an understatement." Buffy returned the smile.

"Really?" Faith queried, without any need for confirmation, casting an evaluating eye over her 'sister.' "So, slaying in L.A?"

"You could say that. Though lately I'm more of a rogue vamp slash demon hunter."

Faith blinked in surprise at the phrase. "You and Angel are back together?"

"Yep," Buffy grinned, letting the all the joy she felt due to that show on face. "He's helping me live the life I want to live, slaying included, and I'm helping him get used to the fact that he no longer needs to be a monk."

The dark haired slayer sat listening in silence for a moment as the sentence finished. Then a wicked look came over her. "No, way!?!" She leaned back in her chair. "What happened?"

"About a year ago I suddenly gained a younger sister," Buffy began, her tone changing as she summarised a story for Faith which, still had the ability to affect her, even now. "The PTB sent her to me for protection, from this annoying, demon god, anxious to open a dimension between our worlds. Through a notion born out of tiredness, loneliness, depression and stupidity, I decided that Dawn's life mattered more than mine, and sacrificed myself for the greater good."

"Whoah," Faith commented, "how did Angel get you out of that one?"

"Angel had his own problems back then," Buffy replied, before proceeding to fill her on in the rest of his story. "Anyway, while all this was happening, I died and went to heaven. But the PTB forgot to tell me that Dawn was a key that could unlock and lock up dimensions. Needless to say, I wasn't too impressed. But I was also happier than I had been in a long time, so I let the matter lie."

"And who woke up the sleeping dog?" Faith asked, without any intent to insult.

"The Scoobs. Or should I say more precisely, Willow and some black magic."

Faith swore in shock. "No way. Even Giles?"

"No. Giles was the only one not involved. But the rest conducted a spell to bring me back from the dead."

"But, I thought dark magic wasn't supposed to work unless it was the will of the PTB?" Faith said puzzled.

"Turns out, the PTB had another destiny in mind for me. They allowed me to be brought back. But they didn't think to the stop some demons ransacking the hellmouth in the process. So I crawled my way out vamp style, only to find a souled one staring back at me, having come to wish me goodbye. After I'd ranted and railed at him for a while, he convinced me that he'd nothing to do with it, and brought me to L.A. We went to some high powered witches on the side of good to rid me of the bad magic inside brought on by the spell, then restored Angel's immunity to sunlight. I then offered my services to Angel Investigations."

"Wow," Faith uttered in reaction. "Did the Scoobs find out this?"

"Not yet," Buffy replied, touching the wooden panel which held the phone for luck. "Giles came back from England recently though, and he guessed. Fortunately, he was considerate enough to hide the evidence before it could be searched and confront us on his own. Now he's back at the hellmouth, making sure they don't. Or at least, the chance to make sure we're warned first." Buffy paused to adjust her posture. "I'm happy, Faith. For the first time in a long while. I'm actually learning to enjoy slaying on a daily basis."

"And of course you have Angel."

"And of course I can 'have' Angel," Buffy added, allowing a wicked look to grace her face, making Faith chuckle at the turn of phrase. "And, between you and me, two hundred years and more does a lot to improve a man."

Faith laughed out loud, and Buffy joined in. She was glad that things between her and her sister slayer could finally be the way she had always wished for them to be. "Oh, B, its good to see you."

"Right back at ya," Buffy uttered, still smiling.

"So," Faith said when she had calmed down, "did you bring the brooding man with you, by any chance?"

"'fraid not. He doesn't want Wolfram and Hart to know that he can walk in sunlight now. Thinks it might cause them to step up their ante on us."

"Yeah, from what he and Wes told me about them, I can understand why." Faith paused, just as something else occurred to her. "He let you drive the Plymouth?"


"How did you manage that one?"

Buffy smiled wickedly. "I have my ways," she replied, causing Faith to laugh again. When they had both calmed down again, she changed the subject. "So, do you have a timetable of when this is gonna end for ya?"


Later on, when the sun had passed its highest point of ascendent, Buffy drove the Plymouth back down the highway to the interstate. She smiled as she entered the turn. Visiting Faith had gone even better than Angel had predicted. The two of them had gotten on like a house on fire, only this time without the literal meaning intended.

Despite their rather explosive parting almost a year ago, nothing had changed their friendship. Admittedly, theirs' had been an odd one from the beginning, but time apart and in each other's body's had brought them both a better understanding of each other. Resentment and jealousy had given way, in favour of a common destiny, and the discovery that they were more alike than either had previously been willing to admit.

The required exit came up, and Buffy turned the car on to it. She had come to put- excuse the pun -a lot of faith in unconventional friendships recently. After losing what little remained of her family and her first fighting set of friends in Sunnydale, she had not expected to pick up some more as quickly as she had. But not only had they appeared, but they were also proving to be far better, and more truer friends than the first set had ever been.

Faith, Wesley, Cordelia, even Angel, all were older and wiser than those back at the hellmouth. And the better for it. She had responded to them, because she was old and wiser too, due to her experience in both towns. As for Gunn, he reminded her a lot of a friend she once knew, back when Merrick was her watcher, and she was refusing to see the benefits of slaying in L.A, while Fred was proving to be a more worldly Willow, without the tendency to indulge in the white, or black arts.

Buffy turned on to the road which the Hyperion was situated on. She drove along until she saw the building, then parked the car. Stepping out of the car, she smiled as her slayer senses picked out her boyfriend's presence in the shadows of the entrance. She ran up the steps and leapt into his arms. He returned her smile, and reached for her lips. She returned the kiss wholeheartedly.

Five years, nearly six years as a slayer, she had lived. But it was not until a grave raising night three months ago that she had actually started to live.

She had come home.


The mist finished acquiring its shape and form. After taking a look at its new surroundings, the form gave a small nod of acknowledge to its Aladdin. "My thanks for the rescue. Now, what can I do for you?"

Lilah Morgan smiled and leaned back on her desk. "I think you know that already," She replied.

"Indeed I do," Sahjhan answered.

The End.
To Be Continued In....

Absent Enemies.