"Hey! You're supposed to be asleep," Gunn said at Anne's doorway.
Anne sighed and tossed the John Grisham book she had been trying to read on the side table. "It's not easy to sleep when you know that there are demons stalking you and hoping to make you into a sacrifice."
"Okay. I dig," he sighed and sat beside her on the bed.
"Gunn. What the hell happened?" Anne asked softly.
Gunn knew what she meant, but he just shrugged. "I guess the demons thought you'd make a nice blonde sacrifice."
"Shut up, Gunn. You know what I mean."
Gunn looked away and stared at his hands. After a beat, he said, "Hell, I don't know. Things just got ... wild, you know. Wesley ... he kidnapped Connor-"
"Angel's kid?" Anne asked in disbelief.
"Yeah. And ended up with his throat slit-"
"What?!" Anne cried out in horror.
"-and Connor ended up in a hell dimension with this vampire hunter and then Connor came back-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Rewind! Slow down!"
Gunn just stared at her.
"Wesley ... is he dead then?"
Gunn frowned. "Nah. He survived."
"Is he still in the hospital?"
His frown deepened. ?No. He bailed out some time ago."
"And you're not with him?"
Gunn sighed. "What's up with you females? He betrayed us!"
"I'm just checking to see if he's okay...I mean, he seemed like such a nice guy. I don't think he had a reason to kidnap-"
"Look Annie. It's nice to see you again and all, but I'm rather tired and I don't like to talk about Wes. Okay?"
He walked to the door, and as he was about to close it, he felt guilty at snapping at Anne like that.
"I'm sorry Annie," he said, turning around.
Anne nodded. "I don't know the whole picture," she agreed.
"But I know this. He took a bullet for you. A guy like that don't just do things without a good reason. He cares for you Gunn."
Gunn shook his head. "Yeah. Yeah, I know. It doesn't change a thing though."
And he closed the door.
After the violence it had witnessed when the sun was high in the sky, it seemed ironic that peace finally settled into Baylor House at midnight; a time where the creatures of the night reigned supreme on the streets of Avarice.
And for the first time in many years, light glowed in Baylor House. It looked very lonely on a street full of dead buildings.
"It's never easy - the pull of divided loyalties - Whatever choice we do end up making we feel as though we've betrayed someone," said a voice in the dimly lighted hall of the House.
Life is full of ironies, and that remark was one of them. He remembered saying that to Gunn after his former gang went on a demon hunting rampage and nearly got them all killed.
Wesley chuckled and swallowed. He closed his eyes and sighed as the liquor burned down his throat. He lay on the sofa he managed to salvage from one of the many abandoned buildings around the area and sighed.
With contentment? Tiredness? Despair?
He lifted his glass and stared at the light it reflected from the oil lamp next to him.
*I feel dead.*
Well, partly from all that sweeping he had to do. Nothing like some domestic work to put you in your place and give you some extra aches and pains. Then there was the scrounging around for furniture bit that managed to unsettle four vampires in the neighbouring building. It got him so fed up that he simply threw them all out of the fourth floor of the building, watching with a satisfied gleam in his eyes when they burst into flames on the way down.
*A man needs his rest, you know? Can't go around getting disturbed by the undead ALL the time*
He looked up at the now exposed skylight. It showed nothing but inky blackness.
He heard his voice from the past; full of self-righteousness and indignation:
"If you ever withhold information or attempt to subvert me again, I will fire you. I can't have any one member of the team compromising the safety of the group, no matter who it is. If you do it again you will be dismissed, bag and baggage, out of a job onto the streets."
Wesley found that incredibly funny now. He placed a hand on his mouth and began to giggle; and the giggles turned into full blown laughter. His hysterical laughter echoed in the empty warehouse and spilled into the empty street outside. It also startled a few vampires in the building opposite who had been keeping watch on Baylor House. They slunk back into the darkness, not sure whether they want the new owner of Baylor House to know of their existence.
"Oh Wesley, you bloody wanker! You're full of ironies! You're so funny! You're a bleeding entertainment troupe by yourself!" he said loudly, collapsing backwards on the sofa. Mirth bubbled again from the bitterness inside. It threatened to make him giggle like a schoolboy again, and Wesley didn't think his giggles were particularly attractive.
That set him off again. He threw the glass he had in his hands on the floor. It broke apart in a shower of sparkling shards.
He tossed himself one side to stare at the remains of the wineglass. The pieces seem to sparkle with an orange light.
"Look at you ... you're like little pieces of fire..." he murmured, suddenly intoxicated by the sight.
Fire ... fire ... it was seductive, the strength it had promised him.
*We can do all things together,* the Element had whispered. *I will destroy all that desire to destroy you. I will give you the justice you seek. I will show you everything that you need to know.*
Wesley gasped, bolting upright.
What was he doing?
He ran a hand through his unruly hair and walked hurriedly to the dilapidated bathroom at the back of the hall. Through the flickering light, he stared at his reflection on the cracked mirror, willing some sanity back into himself.
He looked frightening. There was something in his eyes that make him quiver with fear inside. He looked feral and wild, as if something had been let loose inside that he could not control.
Don't let it control you. The Element thinks that it could play you. Don't even let it think that way. Aren't you tired of people playing you?
"I'm not going mad," he told his reflection. "Not yet. I have too much to do. Get a grip of yourself," he snarled. Quickly, he washed his face and not letting himself pause to think, he marched into the hall towards a stack of boxes and sank to his knees. He went to work immediately, ripping apart the boxes in his desperation to get to their contents.
His removed his mouldy tomes from the ripped apart box and strided to lone table in the hall and dragged a chair from next to the sofa to it. Quickly, he opened the volumes before him, not caring whether it had nothing to do with his research.
He sat and looked at the mass of books before him, breathing hard. His hands were shaking badly. Swallowing convulsively, he reached for the notebook where he had scrawled the prophecies relating to Angel and Connor.
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