Aurelia and Giles came out of the cafeteria and walked toward the library. "What you must realize, Aurelia, is that you and Faith have very different temperaments." Giles was saying.
"The girl's not playing with a full deck, Giles." Aurelia argued.
"You said yourself that she-she killed one. Sh-she-she's just a plucky fighter who got a little carried away. Which is natural. She's focused on the slaying. She doesn't have a whole other life here, as you do."
"That's not really the point here, Giles. She nearly got us both killed. The girl needs help."
"All right. I'll see if I can reach her Watcher at the retreat. They're eight hours ahead now. I guess they're probably sitting down to a nightcap. I wonder if they still kayak. I used to love a good kayak. You see, t-they don't even consider…. Sorry. I digress. The, um, vampires that attacked you, can you furnish me with some details that might help me trace their lineage? I mean, ancient or-or-or modern dress. Amulets, cultish tattoos…."
"No tattoos, their clothing was moderately normal, and the one that nearly bit me mentioned something about 'Kakistos'."
"Kakistos." Giles headed into the library in a hurry.
"Is that bad?"
"'Kakistos' is Greek. It means the worst of the worst. It's also the name of a vampire so old that his hands and feet are cloven." Giles went into his office and came out with a book, setting it on the counter and leafing through it.
"This Kakistos showed up two days ago, correct? Right around the same time Faith did."
"You think he and Faith are connected?"
"Giles, I don't believe in coincidences."
"Well, Aurelia, it's entirely possible that they both arrived here by chance simultaneously."
"Fine. You get your friends at the retreat on the phone. I'm going to talk to Faith and see if Kakistos rings a bell or an alarm."
Aurelia strode out of the library and toward the lounge. She was about to round the corner toward the exit when Scott approached her. "Hi." He said.
"God, you again!"
"How are you?"
"Ok, before you run off, think of this as my last-ditch effort. I realize that one more is gonna qualify as stalking. I've given it a lot of thought…. some might say too much thought…. to, to how I might be a part of your life. It begins with conversation. We all know this. Maybe over a cup of coffee, or maybe at the Buster Keaton festival playing on State Street all this weekend."
"I don't like Buster Keaton and I'm busy."
"Ok. One final part." He reached into a pocket. "Um, I got you a little present." He pulled out a small box. "The guy in the retro shop said that it represents friendship, and that's something I would very much like to have with you." Aurelia sighed and took the box and opened it. It was a Claddagh ring. "You like?"
"No!" Aurelia thrust it back at him. "Please, just stop chasing after me. I'm involved with someone and I'm not looking to change that. Ever."
"Ok. I get the message." Scott looked a little broken hearted and left.
Aurelia just stood there for a moment and was a little startled when Giles reached out to her. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Did you reach the retreat?"
"Yes, I did."
"What did her Watcher say?"
"Her Watcher's dead."
"Killed a couple of months ago."
"I need to talk to Faith." Aurelia turned and headed out. When she arrived at Faith's motel room, the manager was there talking with Faith and it was almost sundown. The manager noticed Aurelia and pointed, saying, "Roommates are extra."
"I'm just visiting." Aurelia retorted. The manager walked out of the room and Aurelia reached for the door to pull it shut behind her.
"So, what brings you to the poor side of town?" Faith asked.
"A cloven vampire by the name of Kakistos."
"What do you know about Kakistos?"
"That he's here." The look on Faith's face betrayed her apprehension at hearing this. "We're not happy to see old friends, are we? What'd he do to you?"
Faith quickly grabbed her bag. "It's what I did to him, all right?" She put the bag on the bed and started to stuff her things into it.
"And what was that? Faith, you came here for a reason. I can help."
"You can mind your own business. I'm the one that can handle this."
"Yes. You're packing skills prove that. What was that you said about my problem? 'Gotta deal and move on'? Well, we have the 'moving on' part right here. What about dealing? Is that just something you're going to dump on me?"
"You don't know me. You don't know what I've been through. I'll take care of this, all right?"
"Like you took care of your Watcher?" That stopped Faith cold. She let go of the doorknob and looked down sadly. "He killed her, didn't he?"
"They don't have a word for what he did to her." There was a knock at the door and Faith looked through the peephole. "Oh, what now?"
"Faith, if you run, he runs after you. I know how this works."
"That's where the head start comes in handy." Faith opened the door and saw Kakistos standing behind a dead manager, holding him up. Faith stepped back into the room as Kakistos dropped the manager's body and smiled at her.
"Faith." He said before letting out a loud roar and grabbing Faith by the neck. She grabbed his wrist and tried to pull him off of her, but he was too strong.
Aurelia rushed up between them, shoved Faith back into the room, forcing Kakistos to let go, and slammed the door on his arm. He yelled in anger and pain and eventually had to pull his arm out. Aurelia slammed the door shut, locked it, and put on the safety chain. "I just bought us a little more…." Kakistos punched through the door and tried to reach for Aurelia. "Time!" Faith started to panic and screamed. "Scream later! Escape now!" She ran for the bathroom dragging Faith behind her. Behind them Kakistos kicked in the door as Aurelia kicked the bathroom window out. Faith scrambled through with Aurelia right behind her. "Let's go!"
Aurelia took Faith's hand again and they started to run. They reached a fork in the alley and took the left way. A group of vampires reached the intersection a moment later. One of them followed the girls. Aurelia sighed and threw herself through a window in the warehouse next to them and Faith jumped in behind her. They scrambled to their feet and saw the vampire chasing them run right past. "We're ok. What happened? Faith, what happened?"
"I…. I was there when he killed my Watcher, and I saw what he did to her…. what he was gonna do to me. I tried to stop him, but I…. I couldn't. And I ran."
"Faith, the first rule of slaying is don't die. You did the right thing. Ok? You didn't die. Now you do the math. One of him, two of us."
"No." Aurelia heard the edge in Faith's voice and turned around to see what Faith was looking at. There were bodies piled on the floor. "This is his place."
"He drove us here." Aurelia said quietly.
One of the vampires appeared at an entrance and growled at them. They began to run through the warehouse and the vampire gave chase. Two others came in the other side and tried to head them off. Aurelia stopped by a bucket and, putting her foot in, kicked it into one of the vampire's faces. He stumbled backward and over a chair. She did a full spinning kick to the other vampire and a side kick to another one behind her. He fell backwards over a table. Aurelia ran and jumped onto the table, rolled over it, and kicked him in the back as he tried to get back up.
Kakistos walked into the building, his one-eyed gaze fixed on Faith. Aurelia rolled to a stand on the table. She picked up a crowbar and swung it baseball style at yet another vampire advancing towards her, hitting her squarely in the neck and knocking her down and out. She saw Kakistos advancing on Faith.
"Faith! Don't die!" Aurelia threw her the crowbar
Faith caught the crowbar in mid-air, but before she could swing it at Kakistos, he punched her hard and knocked her into a bunch of large wooden beams leaning against the wall. She hit the floor as the beams went tumbling. Aurelia slammed her attacker in the neck and threw him into an assisted front tuck off of the table as Kakistos calmly stepped up to Faith as she scrambled up against the wall, cowering. He reached down and grabbed her by the shirt, picking her up off of the floor. Once he had her up, he punched her squarely in the face.
Aurelia was no longer on the table and she roundhouse kicked over it, knocking the legs out from under a vampire standing on it. He rolled off of the table and onto his back and Aurelia staked him cleanly. She looked up at Faith being whaled on by Kakistos. Kakistos finally hit Faith hard enough to knock her from his own grip onto the floor. He roared loudly and Aurelia jumped up and ran over to attack him. She kicked him in the back of the knee, spun around, and tried to backhand him in the face, but he blocked it. She spun around the other way and backhanded him in the face.
Aurelia tried to stake Kakistos, but the stake barely penetrated his thick hide and had no effect on him. He grabbed Aurelia by the hair, lifted her, and threw her back. Aurelia backhanded Kakistos, landing a hard punch. He swung at her, but she ducked. She stood up and tried to stake him again, but even though the stake went in deeper this time, it still had no effect on him. Again he grabbed her by the head and shoved her back into the wall.
Faith recovered from her daze and saw Kakistos looming before her, but looking at Aurelia instead of at her. "I guess you need a bigger stake, Slayer!" He laughed maniacally, moving closed towards Aurelia.
Faith saw that one of the fallen beams had a broken end. She lifted it up over her shoulder, and before Kakistos could turn his attention back onto her, she thrust the beam through his chest and out his back. He looked down at it and back up at Faith and then exploded into ashes. Aurelia stared in amazement and Faith heaved a few heavy breaths.
Aurelia pulled the hair back from her face and stepped over to Faith. "Are you hungry?"
"Starved." Faith said and they both headed out of the building.
Giles got up from his desk and came out to the library table in the main room where Aurelia was waiting with Willow. "The council has approved our request. Faith is to stay here indefinitely. I'm to look after you both until a new Watcher is assigned."
"Good." Aurelia said. "She really came through in the end. She had a lot to deal with, but she did it. She got it behind her."
"I'm glad to hear it." Giles sighed. "I'm not doing the spell."
"The spell to bind Acathla. I'm not going to do it. If it turned out to be the only way to get Cassius out, then I won't destroy that chance. You're right, I don't understand what you two have and I did let my judgment of Angelus get in the way. It won't happen again. I've got a few resources I need to check to see about these spells you took from Wolfram and Hart."
"Thank you." Aurelia nodded. "I'll see you guys later." She walked out of the library. Instead of going home, she pulled the ring out of her jacket pocket and walked to the mansion where she'd last been with Cassius.
The place was dark and empty. It echoed with the one worst memory Aurelia had ever had. Acathla was gone. Giles said that he and the others had moved it to a safe place where no one could find it. He'd also put up magical wards around that place to keep anyone from finding Acathla.
Aurelia sighed and slowly crouched down and looked at her Claddagh ring. She sat down in the spot where she'd sent Cassius to hell and looked at the floor. After a long moment, she put the ring on her left ring finger and said, "I love you always." She touched the floor with her ringed finger and then stood up to leave. Just before she made it to the front door, a bright beam of light illuminated the spot on the floor where she'd just been. The light got more and more intense and the floor began to vibrate.
Suddenly the room was awash with a blindingly bright white light emanating from a dimensional portal opening above her. A body fell through and hit the stone floor hard. The light faded as the portal closed and a naked man was left lying there. He was unsteady as he tried to get up, but he was too weak to do more than lift his face.
Aurelia realized at once who the man was. It was Cassius, looking very dazed. His breathing was shallow and labored and he shivered violently as he looked up at the room around him. Aurelia gasped and stumbled back a few steps, falling to the ground. Cassius's head whipped around to look at her. He growled and tried to launch himself at her, but he was too weak.
"Ca…." Aurelia cleared her throat. "Cassius?" He snarled at her and kept up a continuous growl, but he was too weak to move. Acting quickly, Aurelia ran and found Drusilla's trunk. She grabbed some chains out and went back to the main room. She strung them through a light fixture and dragged a growling Cassius over to them. He collapsed to the ground and she quickly chained his wrists. Standing a few feet away, Aurelia began to cry.
She couldn't see her Cassius in his eyes. His mind wasn't there. He was a feral animal acting on instinct. Then she suddenly realized why. Only a few months had passed here but where he'd been it had been about one hundred years. He'd been in hell for a hundred years…. Because of her.