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"So W & H offered you the keys to the castle?"

"Yeah," Buffy replied, trapping the phone between her head and shoulder as she fetched a snack from the fridge in the large, former hotel sized kitchen of the Hyperion. "We were stunned to say the least."

"And when did the portcullis come crashing down?"

"Surprisingly never. Building, work force, even resources were available."


"Salaries, cars, promotion, office space. But we saw the evil within the keep, so we made the deal our own. Selection of work force, plus all the resources. We also have the possibility of another slayer."

"Another? How did that happen?"

"They activated another after I died." Buffy bit into her chocolate bar as she waited for Faith to digest this new information.

"So, aside from being a lawyer for world's most evil legal firm, what's her trauma?" Faith asked.

"Having a watcher whose an evil lawyer for the world's most evil legal firm," Buffy replied, making Faith chuckle. "She so needs rescuing."

"Well we intend to," Buffy assured her. "I just hope she has forgiven me for punching her," she added with a sigh.

"I wouldn't worry. Your punches are hugely educational," Faith replied without a hint of malice, making Buffy smile at how much their relationship had improved since she moved to the big city.

"So how's your parole coming along?" Buffy asked. "Need a new lawyer? With our sudden windfall we might actually be able to hire a good one."

"Might be a help, but the current one's not too bad. She tells me I should hear something by the end of May."

"Wes wanted me to assure you that there's still a place for you here when you're released."

"Won't three slayers be overkill?"

"I think three slayers will be enough kill," Buffy replied. "L.A's a big city and two hours from the hellmouth."

"Speaking of which, how are the Sunnyhell gang?"

"They're okay." Buffy recounted the details of the reunion and Dawn's 'passing,' managing to keep her emotion in check for the first time since the sequence of tragic events. Strangely, though it had been a fortnight since everything occurred, to her it still felt like it had just happened yesterday. "It's nothing like before, but then I never thought it would be. I think they hoped things would return to normal though."

"At a loss, are they?"

"Falling apart at the seams. Giles is well out of it, and lucky for him too."

Faith, sensing from her 'sister's' tone that she still missed her former watcher, changed the subject. "That reminds me, when's your next visit? I want to see this engagement rock of yours. Get the 411 on the proposal and wedding plans."

"Give us a chance to sort out things here first. Wolfram and Hart's exit left the city in a total mess. All those vamps and demons rich enough to afford them, skipped town with them, and now its a race between their underlings to seize control of the now leaderless organisations." Buffy grimaced even at the recap of what they were facing. "Each minion wants and needs to prove themselves capable of commanding the underworld and think massacring our Investigations is the way to do it. We've barely had a moment's peace since the firm left. Even had to call Cordy and Groo back. If things get any worse, we might have to call Sunnyhell in just to even the numbers."

"Break me out before you contemplate that. I could use a good fight." Faith sounded almost wistful.

"The signal will be a visit from Wes," Buffy replied as she threw away her wrapper, sending it in a direct hit to the waste bin.

"Thanks," Faith acknowledged, as a fellow inmate tapped her on the shoulder impatiently. "I better end this. The natives are getting restless."

"Till the next time," Buffy remarked in farewell before ending the call. Barely had she put the receiver down when her cell beeped. She read the text, sent her reply, grabbed her weapons and exited the Hyperion.

Angel met her outside, top down and engine running on the GTX convertible.

"What's the sit?" Buffy asked as she got in the passenger side.

Her fiancee took the precaution of returning to the road before answering her. "A lot of vamps have ambushed children of some of the human clients of Wolfram and Hart and are holding them for ransom. One which they have no intention of honouring."

Buffy uttered a sound of disgust in reply before letting Angel describe the location of the nest where the group were ready and waiting to storm.

They arrived as fast as traffic would allow. Angel parked the car a block away and they ran to join the rest of Angel Investigations, who had gathered themselves at the best vantage point to observe the nest in question.

"How many?" The slayer asked.

"Fifty," Wesley answered grimly.

"Against seven of us? Yeah, those are good odds," Cordelia commented sarcastically.

Just then a window boarded up with thin planks broke, and into a hailstorm of glass and wood shards, dived a woman with dark brown hair.

"Who's that?" Groo asked.

"Roisin Winters," Buffy replied. "And I think we'd better help her," she added, before rising up and performing the same stunt.

Angel joined her in the hail, while those not blessed with quick healing took the liberty of waiting until the debris had dispersed before joining the fight.

None of the vamps had been expecting the attack, so the first few kills were relatively easy. Most retreated out of the more immediate threat of the sun's glare, and the firm followed them into the shadows. Angel and Buffy instinctively selected the strongest and went after them, while the others concentrated on the rest.

Due to the number and the confined space there was no time for fancy moves or roundhouse kicks, just the short, sharp thrusts of stakes, waiting for an unguarded moment to kill before moving on to the next. Every fight was intense, with little sound except growls and grunts as energy was slowly depleted.

Buffy staked her eighth and caught her weapon from the ashes in time to see that her next opponent had rounded on the dark-haired woman who had begun the assault. She was focused on finishing off her own, and therefore had no time to react to this new threat as she prepared to stake the first one. The vampire bared his fangs, scenting victory as he struck out, catching her legs, making her lose balance. As she fell to her knees, Buffy made her move, striking him from behind.

Roisin fell to the floor, the vampire turned to dust, and through the remains Buffy walked, and held out a hand.

"Thanks," the slayer said as she clasped the hand and pulled herself upright.

"You're welcome," was all Buffy had time to say before both of them had to plunge back into the fight.


It was only later, after they had rescued the children and restored them to the safety of their schools, that they had more time to talk.

She joined them as they gathered themselves in the centre of the now empty warehouse and surveyed the damage surrounding them.

"Nothing like jumping in at the deep end," Cordelia commented, breaking the exhausted silence. "Some welcome back party."

"Sorry, Cor," Buffy replied. "Banners will come when we can all take a break."

"Bloody lawyers," Wesley declared. "Oh, no offence," he added as he caught sight of the newcomer.

"None taken," Roisin assured him. "Besides I'm unemployed currently."

"Cordelia Chase and Groosalug, meet Roisin Winters," Buffy said. "Fellow slayer. The Watcher's Council activated her after I died."

"So there's three of you now?" Cordelia sought to confirm.

"Yeah," Buffy nodded. "Ought to start a band."

"Well I always was good with a violin," Roisin said with a smile. "Don't suppose you guys have a vacancy?"

"Glad you asked," Wesley remarked. "We could do with a legal department."

"And by department, he means person," Gunn informed her.

"Long hours, little pay, no benefits," Fred added. "Interested?"

"After two years with an evil firm, it will be nice to work for a good one," answered Roisin with a nod.

"Welcome to the team," Buffy said. "Oh, by the way, sorry for punching you."

"Well you saved my life back there, so I guess that wipes it out," Roisin returned.

"Lets get back to the Hyperion," Wesley decided and the eight departed the now abandoned warehouse for their vehicles.


As they walked through the entrance of the old hotel, it was Wesley who hung back talking to Roisin, as they had discovered her mode of transportation was a Harley Davidson.

Buffy caught some of their conversation and chuckled, making her soulmate blush with embarrassment.

"I've gotta ask," she began, looking at him, "what shade of pink are we talking about here? Pastel, or something more cerise?"

"Bordering on hot pink," Wesley replied, making the slayer laugh even harder and Angel blush even more, as he recalled the time he borrowed the former rogue demon hunter's spare biker's helmet after being forced to hitch a ride during a case.

"So is Faith applying for parole?" Roisin asked as they settled around the reception desk in the lobby.

"She hopes to hear something by May," Buffy said with a nod.

"And is she coming here?"

"Yes, but we are only two hours away from Sunnydale," Buffy replied.

"The Hellmouth? Are you looking for a permanent person there?"

"After Glorificus, there hasn't been a need," Buffy confessed. "But L.A. is a big city. And its wise to expect the unexpected from Boca de Inferno." She smiled at her sister in arms. "Don't worry. This won't be short term."

"Glad to here it." Roisin paused before changing the subject. "What do you do for fun around here?"

"Fun?" Gunn queried. "What's that?" He turned to Fred. "What is fun? Don't think I've heard of that word before."

"We do have fun, don't we?" Buffy asked seriously.

"Occasional flashes," Angel confirmed.

"Birthdays," Cordelia reminded them. "I know that yours was followed by Dawn's death, but you still enjoyed it, didn't you?"

"Was better than the others," Buffy agreed.

"You learn to savour them," Wesley added. "Before the next case comes along."

As if their boss's words were prophetic, the phone rang, causing Wes to go and take it in his office.

"Did you ever take in that show?" Fred asked the slayer.

"Yes, thanks by the way, it was really good," Buffy replied, the last to Gunn.

"What show?" Roisin inquired.

Buffy quoted a well-known line from the comedy series, making Roisin chuckle and they talked about the show until their boss returned from his office.

Angel Investigations took one look at their chief's grim face and instantly their own became clouded.

"More vampires?" Buffy asked.

"Yes," Wesley replied curtly.

"Demons?" Angel guessed.

"Both," Wesley confirmed.

His team acquired a new depth of grimness to their expressions.

"Demons and vampires working together," Roisin murmured. "Never a more deadly combination."

"Well, its demon singular, according to my contact," Wes explained. "He mentioned the title 'Gorgon, Prince of darkness,'1 which sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't remember from where."

"' A bold bad man, that dared to call by name, Great Gorgon, Prince of darkness and dead night,'"2 the slayer softly intoned, making everyone turn to face her.

Buffy smiled sheepishly. "Spenser3 was one of my required readings at Sunnydale UCA," she explained.

"Of course," Wes remarked in remembrance. "I think it's mentioned elsewhere as well." He added in afterthought.

"Research then," Fred declared enthusiastically, reminding Buffy of Willow long, long ago. The slayer sent a brief prayer to the Powers That Be that she would never become like her once best friend, before leading the way to the new library area of the Hyperion, where they had put all the occult books Giles had given them before leaving for England.


Before long, someone had found something.

"There's a reference here," Groo remarked, calling the others over. "By someone called Loctantius, in the 4th century. The footnote says that he broke with superstition because to mention the demon's name brought forth death and disaster."4

"Not another 'that which cannot be named,'" Buffy groaned, as she remembered the hell she had gone through with the last evil who came under that heading.

"Well, not after the 4th century." Groo tried to console her. "Loctantius calls him Demogorgon."5

"Otherwise known as Gorgon of the people," Wes defined. "Although some believe the Christian writer miscribed the word Deimurge."6

"Milton speaks of him in Paradise Lost,"7 Roisin said, as she and Buffy had both delegated themselves to studying Literature for references.

"And Spenser adds that he dwells 'down in the bottom of the deep abyss,' with the three fatal sisters,"8 Buffy added.

"Where else is he mentioned?" Angel asked.

"In John Dryden's The Flower and The Leaf, and Shelley's Prometheus Unbound,"9 his fiancee answered. "Although he makes him out to be the eternal principle who outs false gods," she added.

"Not uncommon for writers to have different ideas on ancient superstitions," Wes commented. "Gorgon by itself is originally a Greek term, used to describe three female demons; Medusa, Stheno and Euryale."10

"Medusa as in she who turned people into stone?" Cordelia sought to confirm.

"Yes," Wes nodded.

"Urrgh, and I thought Ovi Moboni was bad," Cordelia muttered before turning back to her book.

"Actually that's where the Nigerians got their mask from," Wes informed them. "Euryale heard of the tribe's deadly reputation and gave them the mask as a gift."11

"What, they were out of Hell in a hand basket?" The Seer commented sarcastically.

"That's what they usually send to me," Buffy mocked.

"Where did you say Demogorgon dwelt?" Roisin asked her.

"'Down in the bottom of the deep abyss,'" Buffy repeated. "Why, do you know of any such locations nearby?"

"Not exactly. But the 'Deep Abyss' is a club on Alameda Avenue."12

The others paused in their research for five seconds, then, as their common sense combined with their instincts for evil, abruptly closed the open books before them, and hurried out of the library area. Quickly they grabbed weapons, coats and keys before dashing out to the car park.


Half an hour later, just as the night time had established itself upon the city of Angels, the two motorbikes and two cars drove past the entrance to the club, in search of a nearby- and preferably empty -parking lot.

Once parked, they climbed out of their vehicles and, hiding their weapons of choice in their leather jackets, they approached the front door of the club with the casual, confident walk of someone who attended the place every night.

The doorman outside, fell into the gullible trap by paying them no more than a cursory glance. Angel passed closely by the guy, so close as to be able to make the appearance of his death invisible, by stabbing the vampire with one of his wrist automatic stakes through the heart, though to outsiders, the blow appeared to be nothing more than a pat on the chest.

Leaving the ashes on the street, the fang gang advanced into the main room of the club. One glance by each took in the situation, quantity of evil to kill and any potential innocents to save. This was followed by another at each other to convey actions before, all at once, they moved into attack.

Some twenty or so vamps were in attendance at the club, with a dozen or more human victims unwittingly along for the ride. On the stage was a band of three grotesque looking women, obviously disguised vampiresses, who had put on head dresses of faux snakes, singing a rock remix lustfully into the microphones before their mouths, which those below bumped and grind to.

Roisin, Buffy, Angel and the Groosalug fetched out the strongest, deadliest vamps to be their prey. The four were the first wave, a distraction for their nocturnal targets so the four humans of Angel Investigations could have the advantage of surprise when they struck. It would not last long, the vampires would soon notice how many were attacking them, realise that the odds were in their favour, and not their enemy's, but if both waves were fast in their strikes, it would take their prey longer to see that difference in strength.

Buffy parried the vampire's blow, waiting for the opportunity to take out the stake she had concealed in her black leather jacket. She watched the vampire's eyes, divining from them which direction the next strike would come. Despite the raid on the warehouse earlier, she still possessed scores of energy and the vampire was the first to tire. Staking him, she moved to the next target without hesitation.

Angel was near her, rescuing one of the dozen or so humans from the vampire, who, seeing the chaos around him, decided to take what he could to eat before hightailing it out of there. The former souled vampire now human champion still possessed a strength equal that of his opponent, and the vamp had learned of his reputation enough to fear the onslaught he was currently suffering. However, he also had a reputation to make, so he endured the blows, until his opponent showed mercy, turning him into ashes.

Roisin dealt with her vampire much the same as any other slayer. Born and educated in Cambridge, England, she had only been Called after she had already established herself in her career, when she had been called to the bar for one year. Her Watcher had been her boss at the attorneys firm she had joined, and the more time they spent together, the more her colleagues became convinced they were having an affair.

When her Watcher had talked of an opportunity to join Wolfram & Hart, Roisin had seen the big, worldwide corporation as a chance to get away from the small-minded and petty firm she had begun her career in. She had no idea what skeletons lay in the offices of her new firm, and her shock upon discovering the attorney's main body of clientele was on the same level as when she had learned of the existence of vampires and demons. That shock had faded away when she was offered the chance to customise her case load, to refuse those clients who were evil. For a time she had almost enjoyed working there.

When she had shown Buffy around the company, she had still operated under this delusion. Then she had discovered the stealth sabotage of her cases by the Senior Partners, during the chaos that was evoked by Wolfram and Hart's decision to leave the Los Angeles offices to Angel Investigations. Thus the offer made by the latter earlier today, was a blessing. Perhaps this time, her future would be secure.

As secure as a slayer's could be, that is. She staked the vampire before her and moved on to the next.

The Groosalug had yet to be offered a place at Angel Investigations, but he had been told by Cordy that it was only a matter of time. Their small vacation together had given him the sense of belonging which he had lost when Pylea declared itself a republic. He knew that he did not have much to offer this new world to which he had turned to, in the hope that his princess had not forgotten him, but what he could do was fight. Fight and win against these demons that Angel Investigations was charged with ridding the world of.

He had not expected his princess to welcome him as she had. Their first meeting, coupled with the short time they had spent together in Pylea, had not ended happily for all concerned. She had not given him her visions, and he had granted liberty to his people, against the plans of the monks who were meant to advise him, but in reality controlling his very destiny, as well as that of his people. Cordelia had woken him to the truth behind their lies, and made him realise they could choose how to live the lives Wolfram and Heart had ruled as gods for so many years. Then she had returned to her world, but not before declaring her love for him. He had understood why she had gone back home, applauded her for it; knowing her visions were needed to help the world she lived in as much as they had been needed in Pylea. It had not taken him too long to realise how much he missed her, or how little he was needed in his world. So he had gone to hers, with nothing but the clothes he wore and the love he had felt since he first set eyes on her. And not only had she made him welcome, but she had offered him a place in her world. A world which felt more like home to him than Pylea had, even before he gave it liberty.

A glancing blow struck his left arm, bringing him out of his thoughts. He brought up his right hand and the weapon within its hold to counter the strike, and returned his focus back to the fight before him.

Buffy staked her latest vampire, then, seeing there was an empty space before her, took a moment to breathe and re-gather her strength. When she felt ready to face her next opponent, she turned and looked about the dance floor. The remaining vampires seemed to be contained by her friends, leaving the three disguised vampiresses on the stage as her next targets. She advanced towards them.

The trio had stopped singing their tawdry rock remix long ago and were now standing still upon the stage, trying to judge what would be their next course of action; whether to run or to stay and fight. Suddenly their eyes and senses fixed upon the slayer who was coming towards them. Three sets of demonic eyes met those of the champion for good, blinked and, stupidly, decided that three against one were good odds.

Buffy halted her walk before the short set of stairs that led to the vampire trio, and instead of ascending them, choose to leapt the distance. Performing a somersault before landing on her feet in a classic fighting stance, she allowed them to form a triangle around her- to believe that they could achieve what no one else had managed to do since she entered the club- kill the slayer.

She let them advance one step forward, then raised her arms. Out of the cuffs of her leather jacket shot two stakes, as fast as bullets from gun, staking two sides of the triangle immediately. It was the first time she had used her wrist weapons in the club, a device which all of them had chosen to equip themselves with since the departure of Wolfram and Hart. The weapon's weakness of course was its inability to self-load, causing her to stick with handing to handing fighting until now.

As the ashes fell she walked another step towards the one remaining vampiress. Her prey exchanged one last frightened stare, then swiftly retreated. Buffy let her go, knowing that she had still had one more fight before this night was over.

Demogorgon must have heard her, for it parted the blood red curtains which had hidden the backstage from the dance floor, and entered the fighting arena before the slayer. Involuntarily, Buffy took a step back, nearly overwhelmed by the towering height which the demon possessed. But her hesitation only lasted as long as it took for her thoughts to accept the snakes that made up the Demogorgon's hair. She avoided meeting the demon's gaze, and took out one of the knives concealed in her coat. Swiftly she through her arm forward, using the knife like a javelin, sending the weapon upwards to one of the black clouded eyes.

The sharp point struck, but its impact did not have the hoped for affect. Demogorgon growled, but felt little pain. He advanced forward and grabbed with his large hand the vampiress that the slayer had previously spared. Despite her screams, he crushed her body with his grip at the neck, the ashes falling through his fingers.

Buffy took in the lack of energy her prey had not required to form that task, and glanced over her shoulder. "Guys, I could do with a little backup here!"

Angel and Roisin immediately staked the vamps before them and ran to help her. Using their supernatural strength they too leapt on to the stage, forming a triangle around the Demogorgon, just as the vampiress band had done moments before their deaths. Simultaneously they began attacking the demon, hoping their combined onslaught would defeat him.

The snakes rose out of the demogorgon's head, in quest of victims. Hissing, their long bodies slithered in the air, and their tongues poked out to test its elements. The rest of Angel Investigations staked the last lot of vampires and rushed at the animals, slicing at them with swords.

Miraculously this combined effort of attacking body and snakes at the same time seemed to work. Buffy, Roisin and Angel felt the former weakening before them, buckling under the pressure of the desperate assault. Suddenly his mouth emitted an inhuman groan and his body doubled over as they struck his chest from three sides all at once. The snakes hissed and retreated back to the head. The eyes became completely white, and the huge body fell to the stage floor.

Buffy, Roisin and Angel immediately jumped back before the weight could damage them. They landed shakily on the dance floor, and rolled, knowing they might suffer strained or broken ankles if their let their feet take the full impact of the jump.

En mass Angel Investigations took a moment to draw breath, then walked to the stage to survey the dead body of the demon.

"Why is the large ones never go poof?" Buffy asked rhetorically.

"Way too tired to even contemplate digging a grave right now," Cordelia added.

"I'd suggest blowing the place up instead but I don't I could even summon the strength to run," Angel remarked.

"Can't we just go biddy-boddy-boo and its gone?" Roisin remarked.

"Fairy tales rarely work in real life I'm afraid," Wesley answered with a sigh.

"Why don't we just put a sign on the door, get some rest, and bury the guy in the morning?" Gunn suggested.

"Good call," Buffy decided and slowly went to the bar to fish out the 'sorry, we're closed' sign.

When she had hung it on the door, they grabbed what soft furnishing they could find, and settled down for some much needed sleep.

They would pick with up with the world once more tomorrow.

The End.
To Be Continued In.
High Stakes.

Notes 1-11: Direct quotes from the Oxford Book of Quotations, and Brewer's Book of Phrase and Fable. Connections to the demon world of Jossverse is purely my dramatic license. 12 Is a street nearby the WB Studios.