No infringment intented to any rights (or lefts) held by Joss (He Who is Like Unto God-ish) and any/all Fiscally Interested Corporations. No profit, ho foul, no lawsuit. This Interlude takes place during the Great Beige Rift.


Interlude: The Best Lies
by suricata

Wesley looked at the stains on the front of his pants and sighed. Not quite loud enough to be called dramatic, the sigh nonetheless conveyed a sense of dismay, disgust, and resignation.

"Well, hell. You didn't tell me it splattered."

Gunn's apology, such as it was, was sincere: he hadn't expected the creature they were in the process of dismembering to suddenly spurt dark blue fluid.

"It didn't do that when we killed it," Cordelia noted, dropping the limb she had been carting into the incinerator and watching it sizzle with justifiable satisfaction. The un-identified creature, like an octopus with scales and claws, had been feeding on the homeless population of Los Angeles, probably killing more than half a dozen vagrants before anyone had come to them for help. Cordelia still had nightmares occasionally about not being able to pay the rent. Not that Gunn or Wesley would ever let her actually end up on the street, but...

"Is it acidic? Burning?"

"I would be doing considerably more screaming if it were," Wesley shot back. "These pants were...very comfortable, that's all. And now they're ruined."

"I've got some of that citric concentrate stuff back home -- maybe we can get the gunk out," Cordelia said as Gunn picked up the hacksaw and went to work on the last remaining limb.

Wesley grunted an absentminded assent, looking at the rounded torso that was left on the ground in front of them. They had lured it into this basement, then put a steel skewer between its eyes while it was caught in a particularly small crevice. Cordelia, being the most slender, had been the bait. He never anted to go through that again -- there had been very little room for error. Thankfully, the incinerator nearby had still been functional, and the plan was to burn the entire thing into slime and ash.

"We're never going to get this into the furnace."

"Well we can't just leave it here," Cordelia said. "I mean, L.A. rats are tough, but that's asking an awful lot."

"You have a better suggestion?"

Gunn paused, shrugged. "Hey, I was the one wanted to dump this off at the coroner's. They're the ones who're supposed to be handling the stiffs, not us."

"Not exactly a stiff, though, is it?" Cordelia said, using the tip of her shoe to push at the top of the soft torso/head to prove her point.

"Cordelia, don't--!"

Cordelia shrieked as a fount of dark blue liquid, more watery than what Wesley had encountered, squirted up out of the blowhole-like opening, splattering all over her demon-hacking-worthy pink top.

"And we're not even getting paid for this," she groused.


Angel watched as they squabbled over the remains of the Slaggoth larvae. He had heard about the killings, but at the time it had been down on his priorities list. There were only so many hours in the night, after all.

But when word on the street started that "AI" was taking care of it, he had made time to follow them down. The logic of that -- ignore a problem until it's being solved -- didn't bother him.

"How are they doing, the ones you fired?"

They're doing okay, he silently told his erstwhile informer. Facing down monsters, saving lives...fighting the good fight.

He missed them. Here, now, he admitted it. Gunn's casual camaraderie. Wesley's thoughtful acceptance and understanding. Cordelia's abrasive and overwhelming affection. All he had to do was walk into their storefront office and it would be his again, he knew that. Disappointment would become joy, fear, relief. They'd vent, and hug, and move on.

That's what family did.

He loved them too much to let that happen.


"Okay, I vote we hit the showers, then hit Caritas."

"I vote we find someplace with cleaner bathrooms.

"Right. And pay for our drinks?"

"Excellent point. Caritas it is."


Angel faded into the shadows, and let them pass.