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Fan Fiction: The New Seer
Chapter Two: Reunion
"I will never be safe
Wes spent the remainder of his first day as Seer systematically cleaning his apartment. There were liquor bottles to be emptied and discarded, neglected laundry to be washed, and a refrigerator full of take-out boxes and empty fast-food bags to be carried to the rubbish bin. His books hadn't been properly organized since Gunn and Fred had recovered his notes and journals, so he spent another hour or two putting them in order as well. He thumbed through a few of them, old friends he'd been carrying around since his earliest Watcher days, and breathed in the calming scent of aged leather and paper before moving to the next task.
He'd still been hunting demons occasionally, resurrecting his pre-Angel Investigations job with a little more success than the first time around, so his favorite sword and crossbow were in decent shape. The rest of his weapons, however, were due for a bit more care. He sat down on the couch, spreading them all out on the coffee table, and brought out the cleaning and sharpening equipment.
The repetitive motions soothed the last of his jangled nerves. By the time he had finished polishing the last ax-blade, the idea of returning to the Hyperion had begun to seem only uncomfortable, rather than disastrous. He was going to need Gunn's help, and Fred's, unless he could manage to locate some other personnel to retrieve Angel -- and frankly, he didn't really want any of his other resources knowing about the souled vampire's imprisonment. Angel was going to be weak and confused for some time after his recovery, possibly without much control over his demonic side, and anyone other than Fred and Gunn would likely try to profit by that information in some way.
Quickly, before the lingering bitterness and doubts could convince him to put the task off until the next day, Wes collected his keys and shrugged into his leather jacket. He was wearing something out of his rugged "hunting" wardrobe rather than the nicer "investigator" one, and he hadn't bothered to shave in several days, but his former friends were just going to have to accept him as-is. Not that they'd shown any inclination to do so in the last several months, but this time they would presumably have no choice.
He scanned the streets from the back of the motorcycle as he weaved through the late-evening traffic, habitually checking for anything that tripped his danger sense. Vampires and demons were unlikely at this hour with a high volume of vehicles on the streets, but there was always a chance of running into a Wolfram & Hart project, or Connor, or Justine.
Or Connor *and* Justine, according to Lilah's photograph. Wes frowned, considering that for a moment, remembering the dockyards that the photographer had captured in the background, and something that had bothered him about his vision abruptly made sense. Water. The dark, the cold, the distortion of Angel's voice; they all pointed to an immersion in water, probably off the coast somewhere.
"Bloody buggering hell," he muttered under his breath, scowling as he waited for the next traffic light to change. If Angel was in the ocean, finding him was not going to be easy. Couldn't the Powers have provided him with a bit more in the way of landmarks?
The thought hung in Wes' mind like an echo, and he shook off a moment of deja vu, remembering all the times Cordelia had expressed similar sentiments. His mouth curved into a bare smile, hidden by his helmet. There was something very surreal, and not a little ironic, about this situation.
When he reached the hotel, he parked in the same place he always had. Gunn's truck was also there, collecting dust and grime; it looked as though it hadn't been washed in awhile. The hotel itself had a similar air of benign neglect, as though the occupants hadn't had the funds or manpower to keep it bright and clean. Wes traced the outline of a rust-red stain on the front door handles with a finger, idly wondering if it had been human or demonic blood, then sighed and told himself to get it over with.
A clear, high note rang out in the lobby as he stepped over the threshold, startling Wes for a moment until he realized that it was probably a doorbell, triggered by a simple ward. It made sense; with only two people on staff, unless they'd hired someone else, they wouldn't want to be tied to the front desk.
"Chaaaarles!" A familiar, Texan-accented voice yelled from the direction of the stairs. "Customer!"
"I heard it, same as you did," Gunn called back, from the direction of the kitchen. Then he began the usual spiel, his voice punctuated by footsteps as he moved to the connecting doorway. "Welcome to Angel Investigations, we help the ..."
Gunn's welcoming expression vanished into a mask of cold anger as he recognized Wes. There was a new scar tracing a line along the left side of his jaw, and the stress of the last few months had left him leaner and marked by exhaustion. "Wes. Well. I guess you qualify as hopeless, but we ain't gonna help." He crossed his arms and squared his stance, watching Wes through narrowed eyes. "Never thought we'd see you here again."
"Yes, well, I hardly expected to be here," Wes replied, mirroring his former best friend's posture. "However, I've come into possession of some information you might find useful."
"Is that Wes?!" Fred must have been standing near the stairwell, listening. "Don't send him away!" she yelled, then came running up the stairs as though afraid he would run before she could reach him.
Gunn's scowl deepened. "Unless you know something about Angel, Cordy, or Connor, we don't need to hear it," he declared.
"Charles!" Fred objected, stumbling to a halt in the lobby. She was wearing exercise clothing, with her hair up in a braid and a sword in one hand. She was a little more muscular than Wes remembered; it lent substance and a healthier glow to her thin frame. "Don't be rude!" she continued, catching her breath, then turned a concerned look on Wes. "I'm sure Wes wouldn't be here if it wasn't important. Right? Did you hear anything about why they're all missing? Or is there something new and disturbing we need to know about?"
Wes smiled a little at her words. "Actually, all of the above," he said.
Gunn's eyebrows shot up at that. "All of the above? You mean you know where they are?"
"Ahhh ... roughly," Wes admitted. "Their exact locations are tied up in that 'something new and disturbing' that Fred mentioned."
Gunn didn't like that answer. "You better not be working for Wolfram and Hart," he accused. Wes' face must have shown some reaction, because he kept going, his tone growing more bitter the further he went. "Yeah, I know all about Lilah's visits, and that breifcase she carries back and forth. You been working for her the last few months?"
The accusation wasn't a surprise, but the substance of it was. Wes had no idea that Gunn had been watching his apartment; he'd assumed the shadow was another of Lilah's goons. What else had he overlooked? He shook his head and answered Gunn in the same bitter tone. "She's been seducing me to join her firm, yes, but the situation has become bigger than my self-destructive impulses and the bad blood between us. I burnt the contract this afternoon and sent her away."
Gunn would have said something else, but Fred moved first, laying a small hand on his arm in a calming gesture. "Let's go into the office and talk about this like civilized people," she said, quietly.
He stared at Wes a moment longer, making sure his displeasure was obvious, then turned and stalked off into the office without another word.
Fred watched him go with a sigh, then turned a weary expression on Wes. "It *is* good to see you, you know," she said quietly, then set her sword down on the counter and followed her boyfriend.
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