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Fan Fiction: Lesser Men
Chapter Fourteen: An Angel's Wing
Wesley descended the stairs slowly, listening to Rupert greet the others. The greeting soon unravelled into a series of sharp-edged questions aimed at Jonathan; all well-deserved, but perhaps a little untimely. It annoyed Wesley a little. The crisis of the day was not the situation in Sunnydale, it was the fate of Connor.
His feet left the carpeted stairs for the tile floor, creating muted echoes, and everyone turned immediately to greet him. Jonathan seemed relieved; most of the others acted curious and a little wary.
He aimed for Rupert first; a calm greeting, with just enough smile to reassure. "Rupert. Thank you for coming, I really appreciate it."
"Of course. Anything I can do to help."
There was a flutter of looks and questions half-begun, from the others; Wesley waved them all away. He didn't want to lose the script before he even started. "Before I say anything else, I want you all to know, I believe Connor to be safe. A great deal older, but safe, and right here in Los Angeles."
"Older?" Fred's voice, curious.
"Safe? Here?" Angel's voice, relieved and somewhat hopeful.
"Yes," Wesley said. He found a place to sit down, and met Angel's gaze for a brief moment. "And I'm fairly certain that we do not need to worry about the prophecy any longer."
"Another faulty translation?" Angel's voice was sharp, but a little more of the tension went out of his stance as he spoke.
"Ah, actually, no," Wesley said. "But that's near the end of the story."
"Well, begin at the beginning, then." Giles moved to the counter and set his suitcases down, then took a cup of coffee and found a seat.
"I saw them jump into the portal," Angel spoke again, his voice roughening with remembered despair. "Into Quortoth. Sahjhan called it the darkest of dimensions."
Wesley nodded. "Yes. Fortunately, I had anticipated some trouble on the, ah, journey, though obviously not as much as I encountered. There was a short-term protection spell on Connor when Holtz made the jump, and they weren't in Quortoth long enough for it to expire. Rather than wait, Sahjhan transported them to England, several decades in the past."
"How do you know that?" Angel wanted to know. "And why send Holtz and Connor to the past? Sahjhan said he wanted Connor dead."
Wesley glanced over at Jonathan. "I ran into Ethan Rayne in a bar yesterday. He had a great deal to say to Jonathan, but he also had some information for me. He claimed it was his good deed of the year."
"How do you know he wasn't lying to you?" Cordelia interjected.
Giles stirred then, shifting in his seat and giving Cordelia a sharp look. "I have some history with Ethan, as some of you know, and I think we can trust that he told the truth in this matter. He has a history of supplying accurate information, although it is often accompanied by a rather nasty trick."
Wesley nodded at him. "The Fyarl incident. Yes. He mentioned that."
"Exactly," Giles said. "He had information on the Initiative's secret project, the one that produced Adam."
Everyone seemed at least partially satisfied with that reasoning, so Wesley continued. "In this case, he had lifted some memories from Holtz and stored them in a projection mirror. I'm not sure where he encountered the man, or what prompted Ethan to do this, but I wasn't particularly concerned with the details at the time. We are, after all, in the midst of a confluence of events. Unlikely things are bound to occur."
"So you saw them actually in England. Where? Why?" Angel fidgeted, impatient.
"I was able to hear part of their conversation," Wesley said. "Sahjhan decided to let Connor be raised by a group of people that would hate Angel, regardless of circumstances. The prophecies would ensure that father and son met this week in a fatal encounter, and he believed this would be more easily accomplished, and more painful to Angel, if Connor were already grown."
"Watchers," Gunn said, sounding faintly disgusted. "You telling me Connor's a Watcher? Is that why you were all upset about this Quentin Travers guy yesterday?"
"Oh, dear Lord," Giles said. "If it's Quentin, I suggest you never tell him."
A faint smile lifted the corners of Wesley's mouth. "No, he isn't, although at first I feared he might be. Connor was left at the Travers' front gate, then Sahjhan took Holtz through the portal again, presumably back to L.A."
"Just like that?" Fred said, aghast. "What if something happened to him? What if it rained, or if robbers came along, or something?"
"I'm not sure," Wesley answered. "In fact, I have no information on what happened to Connor over the next few years. I was hoping Rupert might be able to fill in some of the gaps."
Giles shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't," he said. "This is the first I've heard of an unknown infant appearing on the Travers' doorstep."
"But you said you know where Connor is now, right?" Angel asked, starting to pace across the lobby floor.
"Yes," Wesley said. "I believe I do. Something happened last night... well." Deep breath. "I was rather hoping to discover how he got there, but..."
"Where is he, Wes? Just tell me where my son is!" Protective anger, parental love.
Wesley took another deep breath, trying to quiet his nerves. "I... I didn't see Connor as much as the rest of you. Did he... was there any distinct birthmark you would recognise him by?"
Just to make it certain. Just to make sure he wasn't imagining things.
"He had this little mark on his lower back," Fred said, softly. "Strawberry colored. Like an angel's wing, I thought."
Wesley nodded. The moment of truth had arrived; he felt both relieved and terrified. Slowly, he stood up, then turned around and rolled up the hem of his shirt.
The lobby fell utterly silent as Wesley's back was exposed to their view. He knew what they would see: there, nestled in a network of fine white scars, was a little red feathery shape-- an angel's wing, as Fred had called it. Proof.
"God, Wes..." Gunn sounded a bit pole-axed.
"Wesley?" Fred said, wavering a little in confusion.
"Oh, dear Lord..." There were soft swishing noises behind him as Giles, reverting to standard, promptly began cleaning his glasses.
"How did I miss that?" Lorne asked. Wesley could almost hear the wheels turning in the demon's brain. And that was a good question, one to explore later; why hadn't Lorne seen anything of this in one of his readings?
Four reactions, all pretty shocked; still nothing from Angel. Wesley could feel the muscles in his back and neck tightening, as if expecting a blow, an instinctive response to the amount of fear-spiked adrenaline in his system.
Cordelia broke the silence next. "Oh, thank God," she said, brightly. "For a minute there I thought it was going to turn out to be Groo."
There was another pause, and then she spoke up again, her voice thick with irritation. He could imagine the looks the others must be giving her. "What?" she exclaimed. "I mean, he does look a lot like Angel."
Gunn snorted. "Oh, so you did notice that. I wondered. Where is he, anyway?"
"Guys!" Jonathan interrupted them.
Wesley took another deep breath, silently thanking the young man for stopping them before they really got started. Cordelia was probably trying to lighten the mood, but that was really not what he needed to hear right now.
It mattered, of course, what his friends thought of all this; but in the end, it would not fundamentally change his relationship with any of them. A shift from that sort of relationship to father/son, however...
The silence stretched another moment, then Angel took a reflexive breath. "Connor...?" His voice was so quiet, it was almost a whisper.
What did that mean? Was it a sign of acceptance, or rejection? Wesley dropped the hem of his shirt, then slowly turned back around. He needed to see Angel's face. He needed to know.
"Yes," he answered.
There was nothing as simple as acceptance in that strained voice. Wesley barely had time to wonder what it meant before Angel suddenly moved, and cool arms clasped Wesley tightly against a solid chest.
The embrace was possessive, fiercely so. A corner of Wesley's brain that wasn't swamped with emotion remarked that it was probably as much vampiric Sire instinct as it was actual fatherly caring, but the rest of him just stood there and soaked it up. Everything was going to be all right now. It no longer mattered what they thought of him in England. He belonged here.
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.