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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Two: Movements in the Dark
"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present."
At times like this, when emotion drowned out rational thought and the outcome of his fate seemed murky, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce appreciated his literary education. He had a vast supply of quotes ready at his fingertips, supplying words where he had none, reminding him that others had been there before him and still survived. Perhaps his situation was unique, but his emotional condition certainly was not.
"Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
He spoke quietly, not intending to be overheard, letting the breeze carry the quote out over the waves. It was perfect out on Point Dume tonight, not quite warm, but not quite cold, with a wide view of the ocean and the starfield overhead. The lights and smog of the city behind him were only a minor distraction. He was the only one out here tonight, and for once, the isolation was a comfort.
Naturally, it couldn't last.
"Feeling disillusioned, are we?"
Wesley resisted the impulse to turn towards the speaker, and smiled grimly out over the water. "I seem to have formed a habit of structuring my life around illusory truths. Disenchantment grows no easier with repetition."
"I would have thought you'd be happy," the intruder continued, moving closer. "You don't have to worry about consequences for the kidnapping, you get to feature prominently in lots of prophecies, and best of all, you get a whole new father to pin your self-esteem issues on."
There was a teasing lightness in the other being's tone, and Wesley had to struggle to contain his temper. "And what concern is it of yours, Sahjhan? I thought you wanted me dead, not distracted and confused."
The scarred demon laughed softly, then took a seat next to Wesley on the rocky ground. "I only told Holtz half the story, you know. Dimensional travel isn't exactly easy on the average human brain, and I figured he might spill the beans when we ended up back here."
"And the other half would be?" Wesley asked calmly. He wasn't positioned well for quick action; with elbows braced on upthrust knees and hands clasped in front of him, any attempt to move would be telegraphed to the intruder. Best to listen peaceably to what Sahjhan had to say and wait for a more opportune moment.
"The best parts of the prophecies are written about the period after the death of Angel's son," Sahjhan answered, his voice practically vibrating with amusement. "So far as I can tell, everything's still right on schedule."
That got through his defenses. Wesley turned sharply towards Sahjhan, glaring into the demon's smiling face. "I'm still alive," he growled, and felt a twinge in his throat as the vibration irritated the wound there.
Sahjhan laughed again. "But you did die. That seems to be enough, as far as the prophecy is concerned. Hey, you like poetry? Try this one:
'The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
"Prophecies have been averted before," Wesley answered vehemently, and waved a hand towards the insubstantial demon as if to reject his implications.
"Oh, believe what you like," Sahjhan shrugged. "It'll happen anyway." Then he paused, and cast an abrupt look back over Wesley's shoulder. "I see you brought Dad along. I'll just be going, then. Catch you later, Connor."
The demon stood up and stepped backward into one of his trademark vortexes, vanishing from Wesley's view just as another pair of feet skidded to a stop on the rocky ground.
"Wes, are you okay? What did Sahjhan want?"
Wesley looked up into Angel's concerned face, and felt a peculiar, familiar twinge seize his heart. How to define his relationship with this man? From enemies to coworkers to friends, there had been a lot of change in the last three years. They had built a complex web of trust and hope and disappointment that was still there, even under these new labels. Father and son.
As with Boss and Subordinate, the power had shifted between them once again. Wesley wasn't sure yet how he felt about that, even beyond his British-father issues. For a moment, earlier, he had felt an elusive connection, an acceptance; it was still there, pulling them together, but there were so many other issues clouding their friendship and pulling them apart. Until everything had been worked out, their dealings together would not be easy.
"I suppose I should have guessed you would be watching," he said, blurting the first thing that came to mind.
Angel winced. "Yeah, well, I don't know, I was just..." He thrust his hands into the pockets of his trenchcoat, looking vaguely embarrassed.
Wesley was struck by just how uncertain Angel was; he didn't know how to act now, any more than Wesley did. The thought was mildly reassuring. "Afraid I was going to disappear?" he asked, with a wry smile.
"I know it's silly," Angel answered, "but, yes. I mean, you were sent back, what, thirty years? You're older than I was when I was turned, and I have this feeling that the prophecies aren't through with us yet."
Unfortunately, Angel was right on all counts. Wesley sighed. "You were twenty-six, as I remember? Ironic, isn't it? We are more like brothers than father and son."
Angel smiled a little. "More like cousins than brothers. You take more after Darla than you do me, except for the hair color. I don't know why I never saw it before."
"Because there was no possible reason to consider it?" At least, that's what Wesley already told himself. As truths went, some were just so unlikely that they were continually overlooked, no matter their importance.
"Well, there's that too." Angel's smile widened a little more.
The smile was infectious, and in Wesley's capricious mood he couldn't help but feel it. A touch of humor floated to the surface of his thoughts. "Hmmm. But perhaps the tendency to brood should have been a clue."
Angel chuckled in agreement, then turned towards the ocean, staring out at the dark, whispering expanse of water. "You know, I usually prefer alleyways or dark rooms, but this is kinda nice. Is it helping any?"
"What, the brooding?" Wesley shook his head, then took off his glasses briefly and rubbed at his tired eyes. "Not as such, no."
"And Sahjhan? Don't think I didn't notice you evading the question."
Wesley look up at Angel's leather-covered back and sank back into his earlier depression with a sigh. Angel was right; he didn't want to talk about it, but he probably should. He got to his feet and stepped up next to the vampire, staring off towards the same distant point. "He made mention of further prophecies."
"Oh, of course. Because we haven't had enough of those already," Angel replied, a trace of bitterness in his tone. "Just, don't keep it from me this time, okay? I mean, I can see that things had to happen the way they did, but I don't think I can take any more, Wes."
His voice faltered a little, and Wesley winced as he continued. "You have no idea how much it hurt, watching my son vanish into that rift. God, it hurt. And I'm glad that Connor, that you're not dead, and that you're here, but we lost thirty years, and we can't afford to lose any more."
Wesley nodded slowly. "Tomorrow, we can all go through the prophecies again. Tonight... I believe I shall return to my apartment, and try to get some rest. Can you trust me to get there without an escort?"
Angel made a noncommittal noise. "Should I? You have no sense of self-preservation, Wesley."
Angel blinked at that, startled out of his train of thought, and turned towards his British son. "What?"
Wesley could see raw emotion resurfacing in Angel's face, and hastened to qualify his spontaneous remark. "Why did you name me Connor?"
"Oh. Why? Mostly because my mother was an O'Connor. It's a good Irish name." Angel spoke softly, reminiscently, then blinked again. "Damn it, Wes, you're still evading."
Wesley sighed. "I'll be fine, Angel. I'll be back at the hotel in the morning, I promise. I just need some time to myself."
Angel considered that a moment, then nodded. "I can understand that," he said, and reached an arm out to Wesley, awkwardly gripping his shoulder. "Just promise me you'll never run again. Whatever happens."
"Yes," Wesley agreed, and fought his British reserve enough to give his father a brief, masculine hug. Then Angel turned, disappearing back into the night. Wesley made his way back to his motorcycle, strapped on his helmet, and put the key in the ignition.
Wesley could feel the intruder's presence long before he actually saw her. It started out as a low, almost unnoticeable pressure in the back of his mind, and grew to an active itch as he parked the motorcycle and approached the apartment building. He still wasn't certain what it meant until he saw the shadows move in his doorway and recognized that familiar fall of wavy dark hair and the leather-clad curves beneath it.
"Faith," he said, pausing several feet away with his keys tightly gripped in one hand.
She stirred, moving towards him, taking slow steps into the dim hallway lighting. The same dark eyes, the same dark lipstick, the same challenging outfit; her expression was softer than usual, but otherwise she looked no different than she had the day she'd turned herself in. Difficult. Dangerous. And also, although acknowledging it went against the Watcher's code, desirable.
"Hey, Watcher-Man," she said quietly, searching his face with her eyes. "I have some things I need to talk to you about."
"You've been paroled?" He kept his voice calm and even, but inside he felt as though he'd been punched in the stomach. This week was quite difficult enough already, without the rogue Slayer being added to the mix. Why hadn't she at least called Angel first, warned them? He felt woefully unprepared to deal with her at the moment.
She shrugged, almost overly casual in her movements. "Sorta. That's part of what I wanted to talk about; Wolfram and Hart was involved, and I'm not sure the guards know yet that I'm gone."
A stab of anger ran through Wesley at that; he could almost hear the echo of his own words, two years ago, the first time she had turned up in L.A.
((There is evil in that girl, Angel. It doesn't matter what she wants, or says she wants-- you set her free-- she'll kill again.))
He'd started to believe differently when she turned herself over to the police, but it was hard, now, to summon up any sort of trust. This woman had tortured him, and enjoyed it. She had killed men. These were not things Wesley could easily forget.
"Are you working for them again?" he managed to ask.
She looked a little startled, and took a step backwards. "Fuck, Wes, no. I'm not even sure what they wanted. Their commando guys didn't say much and I got away as soon as we cleared the prison gates."
He raised an eyebrow at that. "It may not have been the most intelligent decision to come here, then. I'm sure this is on their list of places to look."
She looked down, and several strands of hair slipped forward to obscure her face. It made her seem younger, more vulnerable, less the violent woman of Wesley's memories and more the teenaged girl she actually was. "I actually went to Cordelia's first," she answered, quietly. "But it doesn't matter. I just need to talk to you. We could do it somewhere else."
He studied her a moment longer, building a list of all the reasons why this was idiotic, then pushed them all aside. No matter how risky it was to bring Faith into his home, it would probably be more risky not to. "Very well."
She hovered near the doorway as he unlocked the apartment, then gave him a questioning look. "So, are you inviting me in, or what?"
He stepped into the apartment, ignoring her question, then held the door open and waited patiently.
"Oh, right," she said. "In case I got turned. Because you would so be the first person I came for." She laughed a little, her voice wavering somewhere between sarcastic and nervous, and walked past him into the main room.
Another fragment of poetry surfaced in Wesley's mind as she brushed by, another artifact of his unsettled emotional state. He usually hadn't much use for Byron, but the words seemed somehow appropriate now.
"She walks in beauty, like the night
He wasn't aware that he'd spoken aloud until she stopped short, staring at him again. "Uh, Wes?" She looked alarmed and a little bit dismayed, as though he'd turned into a stranger in front of her eyes.
He sighed and shut the door. "It's been a long day, Faith. I'm going to make some tea, and then we can talk."
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.