The eastern sky glowed with the first signs of the rising sun as Wesley pulled his motorcycle up to his customary parking spot in front of the hotel, the machine puttering to a stop. Climbing off, he rolled his shoulders a few times, still tired. The previous evening had been quite busy, killing off several indiscriminate demons in an effort to aid an elderly man who'd made one too many pacts with them in his youth to bolster his chances in the stock market. After all the demons were good and killed, Wesley excused himself from the group, went back to his home, took a long shower, a short nap, and then decided to return. He could have stayed at the hotel, he supposed, but sometimes people just needed to unwind in their own space. Seeing Gunn's truck parked in a different spot, he figured the younger man was pretty much of the same mind.
Striding up the stairs of the hotel, feeling clean and human again, Wesley pushed open the door in good spirits. "Good morning, every..."
He stopped, looking around the hotel in surprise. In the middle of the lobby, stacked high in a wobbly-looking pile, sat no less than twenty bags of dog chow. Twenty, twenty-eight pound bags of dog chow. It wasn't the most surreal thing Wesley had ever happened to stumble across, but it was close.
"Are we getting a pet?" he asked, slipping his hands in his pockets and going to examine the bags.
"No." Cordelia stalked out from around the counter, her hand clutched tightly on the handle of a mug of coffee, a dangerous look in her eyes. "This is how we got paid for last night."
"In dog food?" Wesley asked, realizing the second after he said it that it was really quite stupid to point out something so obvious when Cordelia was clearly in a bad mood, but it was too late for him to do anything about it.
"No, those bags are actually filled with gold doubloons," she snapped, throwing her hand up in the air and coming dangerously close to spilling her coffee. "Of course it's dog food!"
"I don't understand," Wesley said, stepping cautiously back away from Cordelia as he said it. "Why would Mr. DeMarco pay us in dog food?"
Before Cordelia could say anything, Fred's head popped up from behind the hotel's check in counter, her finger twirling around in her hair, shy eyes focused on the floor at her feet. "Recent business news reports indicate that Mr. DeMarco's assets, while substantial, are tied up in various business enterprises and thus he decided to pay us in some of his company's product in place of money, which would be cool, if we had a dog, but we don't, so it's just kinda silly, you know?"
With that, she disappeared back under the counter. Wesley closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Yes, his life was getting stranger by the day, but that wasn't so bad, was it? At least Fred was talking to them now and not hiding in the shadows only venturing out at night to get food. Of course, she still preferred to hide behind things.
"Yeah, and it's in the lobby," Angel said, walking in from his office, his nose wrinkling at the bags on the floor. A vampire's sense of smell wasn't always an advantage. Even Wesley could smell the dog food and it was turning his stomach slightly. Angel, on the other hand, looked downright nauseous. "But, we could try looking at this positively," he suggested, giving a placating smile to Cordelia, who was apparently not one to be placated this morning and Angel knew it.
"How can we look at this positively?" Cordelia asked, sitting down in a chair and crossing her legs primly. "Do tell."
"Well," Angel began slowly, going over to look at the bags, "can't you people eat this? It says it's made with real beef and..." He picked up one of the bags easily, flipping it over to look at the ingredients. "It's got beef, lamb, mechanically separated... chicken... parts, and, um... bone meal..." He dropped the bag and stepped away from it. "I'm just going to stop talking now."
"Good choice." Cordelia sniffed at her coffee. Maybe it was the odor of the dog food or her general unpleasant demeanor, but it looked like she lost all interest in it, setting it down firmly on the table next to her. She stood up, her hands on her hips. "I'm calling Mr. DeMarco right now and tell him that this is completely uncool."
"If Fred's assessment is right, and I'm sure it is," Wesley said, smiling at the girl who popped up to look at him at the mention of her name before disappearing again, "I doubt calling him would make any difference. We'll just have to write this one off. It wasn't too expensive of a job anyway, really."
Cordelia let out a noise of exasperation, walking over to her computer. "I'm printing him another invoice anyway," she said moodily.
Wesley let out a small, barely audible sigh of relief as Cordelia busied herself. Sometimes, when moods such at these struck her, they learned it was best to give her something to do, or to let her do whatever she wanted. He didn't doubt the invoice she was planning to send would be decorated with skulls and crossbones and the like, but as long as it made her happy, that was all that mattered.
Apparently, Angel did hear his sigh because he gave Wesley a very small, crooked smile and a tiny thumbs up. Wesley shook his head in amusement. At least Angel seemed to be coping with the loss of Buffy a little better these days.
"The question is," Wesley said, looking over again at the insane amount of dog food, "what do we do with it?"
"Dunno," Gunn said, strolling in from the kitchen in the back, a sandwich in hand. He seemed in good spirits, probably entirely amused by the whole thing. "We do gotta get rid of it soon, though, or we're gonna get ants again."
"And Lord knows we don't need a repeat of the Great Spring Invasion." Wesley shuddered at the memory.
"Don't look at me," Angel said, holding up his hands. "I already gave my suggestion."
Gunn bumped Wesley's shoulder. "What'd he suggest?" he asked around a mouthful of sandwich. "That we eat it or something?"
"Yes," Wesley said somberly.
Gunn promptly choked. "Dude, I've been poor, but never that poor. Are we really that bad off?"
"We will be if people don't start paying us in actual cash," Cordelia called from where she was furiously typing. "Do you have any idea how much it costs to heat, cool, and light up this place?"
"Um." Fred had poked her head up again and everyone turned to look at her, which seemed to make her incredibly embarrassed. "You could donate it," she offered, her face turning an unusual shade of red. She had a pen in her hand and started to doodle on her arm with it. "You know, shelters and stuff. They always need dog food." As soon as she finished speaking, she vanished from sight once again.
Wesley nodded. "That's a good idea," he said, looking at the counter Fred was hiding behind with approval. He raised his voice and glanced in Cordelia's direction. "And I'm certain we could write it off on our taxes."
Cordelia paused in her typing, looking up thoughtfully. "You think so?" she asked them, then scribbled down a note of it. "I'll call the IRS just to be sure. I've already lived through one audit. I don't need another."
"Good," Angel said, clapping his hands once. "Problem solved. Now, can you guys get this stuff out of the lobby? The whole hotel is starting to smell like mechanically separated chicken parts."
"I'll go get the truck," Gunn said, shoving the last of his sandwich in his mouth and turning for the door.
"Hey," Cordelia said, raising her head once more, as she had returned to typing out her invoice. "Do any of you guys know how to spell 'eviscerate'?"
Wesley coughed and cleared his throat. "I'll go help you," he told Gunn with a cheerfulness that almost bordered on hysteria, hurrying after him out of the hotel.
# # # # # #
It didn't take them too long to load up all the bags of dog food into the back of Gunn's truck. They'd managed to find a way to maneuver the truck into a shaded area by the back door of the hotel and made Angel carry all of it. Wesley and Gunn supervised the whole thing, enjoying the quiet revenge of Angel suggesting they eat the stuff. Angel grumbled the whole time and, as soon as he was done loading the truck, he ran upstairs to no doubt take a shower and change his clothes, declaring he could smell the bone meal and it wasn't nearly as appetizing as it might have sounded.
Gunn had the radio turned off for Wesley's benefit, since their taste in music tended to vary greatly. He'd mentioned once that, even if he wanted to, he couldn't listen to his music with Wesley sitting next to him in the truck because Wesley's pure Wesley-ness spoiled it. Wesley wasn't offended. He preferred the quiet over the noise anyway.
"Here we go," Gunn said, shifting the truck into park in front of the Happy Tails Animal Shelter. Cordelia insisted they go there instead of the city run operation, since it was no kill. "You go in and see if you can find somebody to unload this shit."
"You don't want to come in?" Wesley asked, unclipping his seatbelt and pushing the door open.
"Nah," Gunn said, looking pointedly at the dashboard. "I hate places like this, man. It's like a metaphor for the true state of human society, where the unwanted are cast away into little cages, waiting to die, creatures with no hope still looking hopefully at you through dirty bars. Breaks your heart."
"Why, Charles," Wesley said, looking at the other man in surprise, "that 's downright poetic."
"That, and it makes me itchy," Gunn said with a shrug, throwing an arm behind his head and making himself comfortable in the driver’s seat. His other hand was already heading for the radio knob.
"Right then," Wesley said with a roll of his eyes, slamming the door shut on Gunn's shit-eating grin.
Walking up the pebbled walk to the shelter, Wesley pushed open the door. The smell of animal washed over him and he put his hand up to his nose to forestall a sneeze. An insane cacophony of barking, meowing, and whining nearly overwhelmed him. At least he understood now why Charles didn't want to come in. Coward.
A nervous looking woman was sitting at a raggedy desk in the front room, a strand of her blonde hair trapped between her fingers as she tugged at it, her eyes constantly darting over to the door leading back towards the animals. She nearly fell out of her chair when Wesley walked in.
"Yes?" she said in a voice so perky, it nearly came out as a shriek, plastering a smile on her face that was too wide and strained. "Can I help you?"
Wesley regarded her warily. "We have a dog food donation outside," he said, jerking his thumb behind him. "Quite a large one. We were wondering if we could get some help bringing it in. Also, we'll need a receipt, for tax purposes."
"Okay!" Again, her voice came out so loud, even Wesley had to jump. She started to stand up, then cast an extremely worried look at the door behind her, sitting down again. Her hands went up to her hair and she tugged at it from both sides, rocking back and forth in her chair, muttering to herself.
Alarmed, worried that she might be having a seizure, Wesley closed the small distance between them, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Of course I'm okay," she said, jumping up and smiling that strained manic smile again. "Why wouldn't I be okay? Everything's fine! Everything's normal! It's all just so great!"
Then, she burst into tears, grabbing Wesley's shirt and sobbing into his chest.
"Ah..." He began intelligently, patting her on the back awkwardly. "There, there?"
"It's horrible," she whispered, looking up at him with red, bloodshot eyes. "It talks and it whispers evil things into my brain. My brain! And we're a no kill shelter. But, we tried anyway. Horrible, yes, and a total disregard of our charter, but it is worse. It has to die! We tried putting it down humanely, but it lived on! We tried drowning it, shooting it, throwing it into traffic, but nothing worked! We let it go and it keeps coming back! It's evil, I tell you, pure evil!"
Now this, Wesley realized, a sense of calm coming over him, was something he could deal with. Something evil, yes. That was a good thing, so to speak. It certainly beat sobbing young women clutching at him, at any rate.
"Take me to it," he said, squaring his shoulders. "I have some experience in these things."
The girl looked at the door fearfully, clearly not wanting to go back there. "But.."
"I'll be with you," he promised her, speaking slowly and in a calming tone of voice he found effective with angry landlords and creditors and the like.
It seemed to calm her somewhat as she went to the door. She undid a series of complex locks and pushed it open, beckoning Wesley forward. She didn't cross the threshold, though, and Wesley figured that was the extent of her bravery for the time being.
"At the end of the hall," she whispered, pointing.
With a short nod, Wesley braced himself and stepped through the door. As soon as he crossed into the room in the back, the woman slammed the door shut behind him and he heard the locks turning. He looked back at the door with some uneasiness. Hopefully, he could get her to open it again when he was ready to leave.
The room was dimly lit, rows of cages against each side of the narrow hallways leading out. Dogs barked and jumped against their metal confines as he walked past, raising an insane clatter. Occasionally, a burst of sunlight came into the room as the dogs ran in to greet him from their private runs outside. While a place such as this shouldn't be that sinister, maybe a little heartbreaking, yes, but not sinister, Wesley couldn't help but feel the evil in the place. It permeated every pore in his body, making his skin feel, well, itchy. Maybe Gunn had a point about the whole thing.
At the far end of the hallway sat a final cage, up against the wall. The shadows seemed drawn to that corner of the shelter, like moths to a flame, the darkness as thick and heavy as the smell of animal in the air. The dogs in the cages closest to that one were pressed up against the sides of their temporary homes, as far away from the kennel's occupant as they could physically get. They whined at Wesley as he walked past them until he stopped, staring deep into the dark depths of the last kennel.
The sound of dogs barking and whining ceased abruptly, an eerie silence falling over the place. From the shadows of the kennel Wesley stood before there came the soft, rhythmic clicking of nails against concrete. In a span of time that could only be a few seconds, yet felt like an eternity, the kennel's occupant stepped into the light.
It was a puppy, small and fluffy with deep, brown eyes that should have been soulful and pleading, but instead looked flat and empty. Some kind of chocolate Labrador, terrier mix, Wesley thought, and it walked calmly up to the front of the kennel before sitting down primly on its haunches. Its head lowered, it looked up at Wesley in a way that could only be interpreted as a glare.
"The power of Christ compels you," the puppy said in a deep, foreboding voice.
Wesley blinked at it for a few seconds, then turned on his heel and walked back down the hallway. He rapped calmly on the door. He heard the woman's chair fall over.
"Yes!" she shrieked through the metal.
"Open up," Wesley said, his voice light and casual. "It's me."
It took a few moments of her quibbling and her fiddling with the locks, but she finally got the door open. She reached in, grabbed Wesley by the arm, and pulled him into the main office with more strength than Wesley imagined a woman of her size possessed. As soon as he crossed the threshold, she slammed the door and relocked it.
"You see what I mean?" she said, tugging on her hair again.
"Yes, quite plainly," Wesley said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out his wallet. "I'll take it. What's your adoption fee?"
# # # # # #
It took Wesley a little while to convince the woman he wasn't insane or possessed and it took even longer to get her to accept the money for taking the puppy off their hands. He tried to explain how necessary it was to have a real contract in place where these things were concerned, but she didn't care. Finally, she took his money, gave him a leash, and told him to pick up the dog himself. She wasn't in office when he came back with it.
Walking out of the shelter, Wesley saw a few volunteers unloading the dog food they’d brought. Gunn's music, if one could call it that, was blasting out of the speakers. He waved impatiently to Wesley when he came over.
"Man, where have you been?" he asked, leaning on the opposite side of the truck from where Wesley was standing. News must have spread about Wesley taking the dog because everyone seemed to be in a very good mood, even if a few did get slightly panicked expressions when they saw the puppy in Wesley's arms.
"I'll explain later," he said, nodding over to the workers. "Leave one bag in there, please. We're going to need it."
"No problem," said one young man, who took one look at the dog in Wesley's arms and grabbed the second to last bag of dog food from the truck and fled.
Gunn blinked, walking around the truck, finally spotting the puppy for himself. He groaned, slapping his hand to his forehead. "I knew I shouldn't have let you go in there alone," he said, giving Wesley an exasperated look. "That's the problem with these places. You come to bring a donation and they sucker you into taking a dog home."
"The situation is a little more complex than that," Wesley said with some urgency. "We really need to get back to the hotel."
"Yeah, yeah." Gunn reached out and scratched the top of the puppy's head. "I guess he's kinda cute, though."
The puppy gave Gunn an unimpressed looked. "The fires of Hell will consume your mortal soul unto eternity and beyond," it said, rather passively, Wesley thought.
Gunn immediately stopped petting the dog, taking a step back. "Did that puppy just say what I thought it said?"
"I'm afraid it's possessed," Wesley said, by way of an explanation.
Very slowly, Gunn nodded his head, then turned and got back in the truck. The engine was already going by the time Wesley climbed in and he barely had time to put his hand on his seatbelt before Gunn shoved the truck into reverse and tore out of there. The puppy, sitting calmly on Wesley's lap, stared evenly at the dashboard.
"The demons of old will rise again, burning the sky to ash and destroying this dimension and return this world to the paradise of torture, pain, and death it was meant to be," it muttered.
Gunn glanced over at it warily. "Okay, I know that's supposed to be sinister and all, but..." He grinned at Wesley, reaching over and scratching the dog between the ears once again. "Man, how can anything be sinister coming out of an animal this cute?"
"I know," Wesley said, smiling in spite of the situation. "I'm going to name him Rasputin."
The puppy sighed dramatically and flopped down in Wesley's lap, resting its head on its paws, muttering dark things to itself.
# # # # # #
"You brought back a dog?" Angel was clearly unhappy about the situation, stepping back away from Gunn and Wesley as they entered the hotel lobby. "Dogs aren't good. They chew stuff up. Like end tables and leather coats. And they shed."
Wesley was carrying Rasputin, while Gunn walked a little behind him, the bag of dog food over his shoulder. "In this particular case, I'm less concerned about the end tables and your coat so much as it ripping our throats out while we sleep," Wesley said with a mild shrug, petting the puppy's head.
"That?" Cordelia, while not thrilled, was clearly more open to the idea of having a pet, walking up to look at the puppy and making cooing noises at it. "It's so cute!"
"The rivers will run red with the blood of the mortals, their flesh ripped from their bones, their souls forever suffering in torment," Rasputin told her.
"Okay," Cordelia said, stepping back and holding her hands up. "That's not normal."
"It is if it's possessed," Gunn said, dropping the dog food back in the center of the lobby. "English couldn't resist it. You believe he wants to name it Rasputin? I'm thinking Rover or Scruffy or something would be a lot better."
"That's a little undignified, don't you think?" Wesley asked him, rolling his eyes, picking up the same argument they had in the truck ride over.
"Uh, guys?" Angel said, walking up to look at the dog nervously. "Let's not lose sight of the fact that we've got a possessed puppy on our hands." The seriousness left Angel's face and his lips quirked up in a smile. "A possessed puppy. That's just not right. It's cute, but it's not right."
"If I were to venture a guess," Wesley said, grateful for the end to his and Gunn's argument, "I'd say it's a demon of the Kopenrick class, given the way it's talking." He carried the puppy over to the couch, setting it down. Rasputin looked around his surroundings as if he wasn't interested in the slightest. "Typically, they slowly possess human hosts and declare things about the end of the world for some time, then once the possession is complete, they then set about trying to bring said end of the world to fruition. None have been successful, obviously, as their hosts are usually imprisoned in mental hospitals, or, in times past, burned at the stake. The demon lives on, however, seeking out a new host."
"This one screwed up, huh?" Cordelia asked, crossing her arms over her chest and staring down at the animal.
"Big time," Gunn said with a laugh.
Angel scratched his head. "So, we just need to, you know..." He flapped his hands at the wrists as if shooing away a bothersome fly. "Cast it out, or something?"
"Unfortunately, once possession begins, the host and demon are forever linked," Wesley said with some frustration. "Only death will separate the two. Again, unfortunately, killing the host is rather difficult, since the demon is gifted with great restorative powers. There are only a few known ways and none would pass muster with the LA division of animal control. That aside, we'd have no way to contain the demon once it was freed and it would simply possess again, perhaps this time in a human host."
"Then what do we do with it?" Cordelia asked, unable to resist reaching down to pet Rasputin. The demon puppy clearly did not want to enjoy it, but it couldn't help it, closing its eyes, its tongue lolling out in pleasure.
"There is a second option," Wesley said, leaving Rasputin in his coworker's care for a moment as he walked over to grab one of his books off the shelf. He flipped through it, locating the correct page after only a few seconds. "There is a ritual I can perform to bind the demon puppy to me for the life of the host. It will obey my every command and not become violent. That will give us some time to research a way to contain it once the host passes on. As I made a contract with the animal shelter when I adopted it, part of that process has already begun."
"Binding to demons can be tricky and dangerous," Angel warned. He looked at the puppy again and broke out in another grin. "Even demons as cute as this one."
"I know," Wesley said more seriously. "But, it can be accomplished with little risk. It's really our only option."
"That settles it, then," Gunn said, shoving his hands in his pockets dramatically. "Break out the chalk and the candles. We're taking this puppy to obedience school."
Wesley couldn't help but groan and roll his eyes. In fact, he thought he heard the puppy echo his sentiment. "You've been waiting to say that since I explained this to you in the truck, haven't you?"
"Damn straight," Gunn replied with an unashamed grin.
# # # # # #
Wesley sat down uncomfortably on the hard floor of the hotel lobby, a complex circle of ancient design drawn painstakingly around him by his own hand. The puppy sat across from him, looking put out. The two of them were alone in the hotel, Wesley having asked the rest to leave once they finished the preparations. The fewer souls inside the hotel, the better the binding spell would work. It took some convincing to get Fred to leave with them, but the promise of tacos overrode her lingering fear of the outside world.
"Do you know what happens next?" Rasputin was asking him.
Wesley was rather busy looking over the spell to really pay attention to the puppy's ranting anymore. "Hmmm?"
"I will then take your bones... ...still alive and in great pain... ...and make them into a chair. I will call it my screaming chair. Every morning I will sit in it and listen to you scream."
"Pardon?" Wesley tossed the book to the side outside of the circle, frowning at the puppy glaring at him. "That's rather silly, don't you think?"
"It won't be silly when you're a chair," Rasputin said darkly.
"Yes, well, that's not going to happen in this lifetime, so I suggest you put it out of your mind," Wesley told him, almost apologetically. "Now, if you don't mind, I need to concentrate."
The puppy let out a little sigh and looked down at the floor in despair. "This is so embarrassing."
"That is an emotion I'm quite used to experiencing, so I think we'll get along just fine," Wesley told him, then closed his eyes and readied himself. "Klee-tork des la tama. Kopenrick metas ge trak. Morie dema les-tak icha go dret!"
With a sudden flash, the chalk marks on the floor began to glow a bright, blood red. Wesley opened his eyes, watching the light coalesce around the demon puppy, which just watched it swirling around him apathetically. Then, the orb of light cast out a ribbon, snaking its way toward Wesley. When it struck him, it didn't hurt. Instead, Wesley just felt a warm, sort of comforting feeling overcome him, the knowledge that he was in control burning brightly within his soul. It wasn't dark magic, not by any means, and it left Wesley feeling somehow cleaner than he did before he started.
In the space of a few breaths, the spell was over, the binding between man and demon puppy complete. Shaking his head to clear it, Wesley stood up, looking down at the puppy. Rasputin, for his part, looked distinctly depressed. There was nothing to do but test it out, see if the spell worked as well as Wesley suspected it did.
"Rasputin," he said in a commanding voice to the dog, raising one hand, "beg!" The puppy immediately rose up on its hind legs. Wesley grinned. "Now down." The puppy sat down. "Okay, now shake!" Wesley held out his palm and the dog put his paw into it. Laughing, he scratched its head. "Good boy!"
"Kill me," the demon puppy said in desperation.
"Not likely," Wesley said, shaking his finger at it. "I didn't say you could speak, by the way."
At that moment, the door to the hotel burst open, Wesley's coworkers entering and bringing the smell of whatever Mexican restaurant they'd stopped at with them. Gunn tossed Wesley a white bag of food, which he caught easily. It certainly smelled good.
"Angel said you would probably have the munchies after doing your mumbo-jumbo," Gunn said.
Wesley nodded at all of them gratefully, reaching into the bag. "He was right. Thank you."
"So, did it work?" Cordelia asked, looking down at the puppy in curiosity.
"It seems to have." Wesley took a bite of burrito and swallowed it down before speaking again. He pointed at Rasputin. "Speak, boy!"
"The world will crumble under the forces of darkness, sucking the light away into a great void from which it can never escape," the puppy said with just a trace of a growl.
Wesley shrugged at them all. "Not quite what I had in mind," he said, "but it will have to do for now."
Fred looked around Angel shyly, smiling at Wesley and the dog. "We stopped and got presents," she said quietly, holding up a bag from Petco. "We got him a new leash and a collar and some tags and a couple of squeaky toys including one that looks like a taco that I picked out and some dog treats and shampoo and everything else."
Stuffing the rest of the burrito into his mouth, Wesley smiled at Fred and took the bag from her, reaching inside. Everything she said was in the bag, including a red collar with fake diamond studs on it that he assumed Cordelia picked out. The tags were already attached, with the hotel's address and phone number listed on it, along with the words, 'Rasputin Wyndham-Pryce' engraved on two lines.
"Tell him he can't get on the furniture," Angel said, pointing sternly at the dog. "Also, he's not allowed to chew anything up."
"You heard that?" Wesley said to Rasputin after he finished swallowing.
The puppy sighed for the umpteenth time, flopping down on the floor. "I'm so depressed," it muttered.
Gunn laughed. "Dude, this is the coolest thing ever! We should try to get him on that stupid pet tricks show!"
Taking the bag from Wesley, Fred reached inside, pulling out a container of Pupperonis. "Ah, don't be depressed, little guy," she said, walking up to him without any trace of fear and waving one of the treats in front of his face. "You'll like it here. Everybody's nice and they let you write on the walls if you want to, even though you really shouldn't, and Gunn'll bring you tacos, and Cordelia will braid your hair, and Wesley will tell you all about all these cool things you never knew anything about, and Angel will protect you from the things that want to cut off your head. It's a really nice place."
Rasputin sniffed at the dog treat and took it gingerly, chewing it thoughtfully for a moment before gulping it down. Fred reached down and scratched his side, the dog's leg bouncing up and down in pure reflex. Rasputin didn't seem quite so depressed anymore.
"Well," Wesley said, watching Fred play with the demon puppy, who was now showing marked interest in the squeaky rubber taco, "at least something good came out of this. She's not behind the counter anymore."
"And we got a tax write-off on the dog food," Cordelia added, then snapped her fingers. "I need to go put that invoice in the mail."
Gunn shook his head and she hurried off on her mission. "Only you, English, would go to a dog shelter and bring home a possessed puppy."
"It could be worse," Wesley said, smiling at his friend. "At least it's cute."