Chapter Three: Club Fugazi

I've heard of places like this, but even Vegas is tame in comparison. If there's a place I was meant to be, sugarplums, it's Club Fugazi. Where beloved locals wear fifty-pound costumes with hats the approximate size of an airplane hangar, and play to packed houses eight times a week. Of course they love me—it's got me written all over it.. Who can blame them?

Thing is, it's over for me.

I'm not sure how I wound up in San Francisco. I got on a bus, and this is where I ended up. It's probably for the best—I can't think of any place less likely to notice a green-skinned man. Los Angeles, of course, but that's what I was escaping from. Las Vegas, but that's another kind of hell. Atlantic City, maybe, but that's just adding insult to injury.

I know what happened to them. They didn't survive. No, I didn't find that out through mystical sources, or the grapevine, or even just calling the Hyperion—that's where they were going to set up shop, again, if they survived. It was Gunn's suggestion. Angel didn't have an after plan. No matter what hopeful little thing everyone else thought, Angel didn't expect there to be an after to plan for. Probably half the reason he decided to do it. Why the hell else? To stop being a gnat to the Senior Partners, and be an actual mosquito for the fraction of a second it would take them to squash him like a hat a really careless and soon-to-be-fired assistant left on a chair? Not likely. He wanted to get away from the misery and the guilt of life. Wasn't like it was the first time he tried it.

I know what happened because it was the only thing that could happen. What, you battle the force of hell and come out of it alive? Angel and the others are champions, but if it's one thing I found out after joining Wolfram & Hart, it's that everyone's mortal. The fact that one of the champions was a god-king wearing Fred's body was enough of a clue, you know?

I know where they are, too. They're at Wolfram & Hart right now. Not reading over cases, or drinking some nice otter-y blood, but doing the bidding of the Senior Partners, the same way Lilah was when she offered us the joint. They signed contracts. All of us did. Standard perpetuity clause. So even if Angel got the release he was hoping for, he's tied to them. Only now he doesn't rate as high.. Now he's just their servant, not their enemy.

I can't imagine he had that in mind, but it was plain there was no reasoning with him. For that matter, I was afraid to. For the first time in all the years I've known Angel, I was afraid of him. He was doing what he wanted, whether we liked it or not.

Same as it was when he erased our memories, I guess. I don't know why it even surprised me. Maybe it was a pattern. Maybe I didn't want to see it. I sure didn't want to live it.

You know, I never liked film noir. I know artistic types are supposed to love it, so moody, so metaphorical, but it always depressed me. Miserable people moping around, looking sulky and photogenic and tragic. Now I'm a character in a film noir. Even watching them was better than this.

The look on his face keeps coming back to me—he expected Angel to betray him; he just didn't think it would be me pulling the trigger. How was it he knew Angel so much better than I did? Even after Angel told me what to do, even after he brushed off my protests, I wanted to believe he was better than that. What a joke. Did Wolfram & Hart seep into him, or had it already been there—was it what led him to accept the job? And me? What about me? I'd gone there too, willingly.

I fired that gun, willingly.

God.

They're expecting me to come in for the show today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. My apartment isn't far from the beach, and the bridge always beckons. The water's dark and deep. Some days it looks calm, and every day it looks inviting.

I wish I was courageous. I should just go up to the bridge and do it, and stop going over it in my mind like a loop, again and again. I should have I told Angel that I was his friend, not his hired gun. I should have left after Lindsay slaughtered the Sahrvins. I should have just melted away as soon as Angel announced his asinine plan to die for no good reason—excuse me, to strike a blow against the Senior Partners; how could I have forgotten?

There are so many I should haves I can't think of them any more, or I'll go nuts.

Show's over, folks. Don't wait for the fat lady, she's not going to sing anytime soon.

And I can't blame her a bit.

The End