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Chapter Twelve

Fan Fiction: From the Shadows

Chapter Twelve: More Questions Than Answers

"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth."
~Mohandas Gandhi


Wesley listened to the receding echo of Jonathan's footsteps with a frown. It seemed that the only time anyone paid attention to his role as "plan guy" was when none of them had any ideas of their own. Heaven forbid that they should actually discuss anything they wanted to do before they did it.

Not that he was any less impulsive today. He should have killed that Vydd demon; it was the best way to prevent the being from barring that exit or prematurely raising the alarm, and after the maneuver with the sunlamps he shouldn't have trusted the appearance of surrender. All the same, when Rhaogan had freely knelt and called Wesley the "golden child," he hadn't been able to follow through.

He'd heard of the "golden child" prophecies before; according to Lorne, a Lubber demon had spoken of it mere weeks before Angel had slept with Darla, and of course there had been the cultists at the hospital months later when Wesley had been performing the ultrasound. He'd hadn't fully considered, however, how much power the name seemed to carry in the demon world, aside from all the "get the baby" attacks on the hotel just after his birth. Yet another angle to the situation that needed research.

Well, as he had told Spike, there wasn't time to consider all that just now. There were other, more urgent problems needing action. "Bloody marvelous rescue party we are," he sighed, and stepped over to pick up the briefcase.

It was light, but that didn't necessarily mean it was empty. If Gavin had been carrying it to an important meeting, it probably carried sensitive documentation that might help them figure out what was going on. Also, Wesley had discovered some specifics in his Watcher-bonding research that might help them to physically locate Buffy-- that is, if he could find a quiet corner to meditate in.

He cleared his throat, about to call Spike and Faith back, then jumped when he heard the sound copied from either side of him. They'd already retraced their steps; apparently he'd been lost in thought longer than he'd realized.

"Wasn't any way to follow the bint without exposing ourselves," Spike announced, frowning. "It sounded like the boy was right behind her, though."

Wesley nodded. "Yes, he was. He said he'd be back, but frankly the odds aren't good, and I don't intend to wait. We need to find an empty room I can use for a brief spell. If we find the others along the way, or any information we can use, so much the better."

Faith grinned. "So we get to play 'What's Behind Door Number One', huh? Cool." She retrieved her knife from the waistband of her pants again and began tapping her palm absently with the flat of the blade.

"What about watching eyes?" Spike asked, squinting up at the ceiling. "I'm dressed the part, but the pair of you aren't, and I know how fond these lawyer types are of cameras and things."

"Down here, that isn't likely," Wesley assured him. "Most of what happens here is probably the kind of thing even the Senior Partners wouldn't want on permanent record. Any surveillance is probably triggered by various warding spells, and I'll be able to warn you if we activate any of those."

"Gotcha," Faith said. "So let's get moving."

It took half an hour or so of careful searching to locate a room suitable for Wesley's purposes. They were forced to subdue and confine two other employees along the way, both human, but for the most part they were lucky. It was, after all, the weekend, and the building's population had dropped to about a third of what it might otherwise be.

Several of the rooms they encountered along the way seemed to be used for storage purposes; Wesley spotted a great many magical artifacts and supplies that the Watcher's Council would salivate over. Other rooms seemed set aside as meeting areas, or working rooms for those of the firm's members and clients who boasted exotic origins or talents. A few smelled strongly of harsh cleansers, with torture implements on the walls and blood channels carved into the gently sloped floor, leading to a central drain; Wesley retreated from such rooms almost immediately. The stench of fear and death was thick enough in the air to choke even Spike.

There wasn't any sign of Dawn and Buffy, however, or even any hint of what had happened to Angel's party. Wesley was afraid, that they'd ended up imprisoned; he'd seen the spells on the door, and Spike had been pretty smug and sarcastic when he'd arrived with the key.

((I wasn't stupid enough to just grab hold of the bloody doorknob like some gits I know.))

Translate "some" to mean "five," and presto, several more friends were added to his list of people to rescue. Angel, Cordelia, Groo, Fred, and Gunn, to be precise. It was going to be difficult, to say the least.

At his side, Faith paused abruptly in the hall and chuckled to herself, shaking her head.

"What is it?" he asked, a little startled by her sudden good humor. She'd been in hunting mode since they'd entered the building, focused and deadly.

She thew him an amused glance. "Oh, just thinkin' about a movie I got to see not too long ago-- 'This is not Mission Difficult, Mr. Hunt, this is Mission Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.'."

He smiled a little in response. "Yes, that was an excellent film. The theme was a little tired, but it was well executed and visually brilliant. Not to mention applicable. Although of course the impossible things our agency does are a little more out of the ordinary, and our resources are puny by comparison."

"Not to mention you look nothing like Tom Cruise," Spike snorted from across the hall. "But nevermind that. Come and have a look at this."

The room Spike had located was small, about four meters by three, with a thick mat on the floor and candles set in tiny niches in each of its four walls. It held no furniture or anything else of value; it seemed to be the meditation retreat of some Important Personage or other. Wesley nodded approval, then locked the three of them into the small, bare space and cast a light warding around the perimeter.

"Jeez, Wes," Faith said, "You've been doing tons of magic today. Is that normal for you, or what? 'Cause I don't seem to remember that from before." She gave his scarred throat a glance, then the flakes of dried blood adhering to his forehead. "Or is it more of this prophecy stuff?"

Welsey thought about that for a moment, unsettled yet again by the reminder of what was happening to him. "I'm not sure," he answered, slowly. "I've never had any great level of power-- knowledge, yes, but none of the talent or raw energy needed to become anything more than a minor wizard. But today..."

Faith waved a hand dismissively. "Prophecy stuff, fill me in later. So. What's this spell you want to do?"

"I intend to call on your connection with the Slayer essence and use it to trace Buffy. Hopefully Dawn will be with her sister, and I'll be able to determine if they're in the building. Fortunately, it requires more in the way of concentration than actual magic; I doubt anyone will be able to detect what I'm doing." It wasn't particularly strenuous, either; Watchers had done it before to find Slayers, although normally it was their own Slayer they were tracing.

"So what shall I be doing, then?" Spike frowned, hands deep in his suit pockets. He looked bored, irritable, and hungry, not good signs in a vampire known for his attention-deficit way of dealing with problems.

"Investigate the briefcase while we're busy," Wesley said, and held the leather case out to the vampire again. "There might be useful information in it. Don't worry, this shouldn't take long."

Wesley didn't wait for Spike's reply; instead he lit a few of the candles, then moved to the center of the room and settled carefully into a cross-legged position on the floor. Faith watched him a moment, then sat down also, close enough that their knees almost touched.

"What now?" she asked. She tossed her hair back over her shoulders, then clasped her hands in her lap and looked him in the eye. "Time to work your mojo?"

He nodded. "It won't take long. All you have to do is grasp my hand and stay where you are until I open my eyes."

Faith shifted a little on the mat, getting more comfortable, then nodded back and extended her left hand towards him. "Just don't take too long," she said. "I don't wanna be stuck here when they finally come looking for us."

Wesley closed his eyes, then began stepping through the sequence of mental exercises meant to center his consciousness and close out all distractions. He did not manage to achieve full balance-- the turmoil of the last few days and weeks still seethed not far below the surface-- but he was able to shut it down enough for what he needed.

A few softly spoken words lit up his inner world with light. He could "see", through his closed eyelids, a quicksilver luminescent shape so bright and close as to nearly blind him; darker shadows flickered around the edges, and he knew without question that this was Faith. He let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding; he'd still been a bit worried that he hadn't Watcher-bonded to Faith after all, which would have rendered this little test impossible.

Gently, he tugged his "self" free of his physical form and backed away, looking for connections between the Slayer and other islands in the darkness.

It was not hard to find one. A thick, brilliant cord led upwards, twined with threads of forest green and leaf gold. Everything else was dimmed and distorted to the point where he could not recognize any landmarks, but Wesley got a very distinct sense of nearness; the being at the other end of this connection was definitely in the building, only a few floors away and almost directly overhead. Cautiously, he followed the cord for a short distance, and became aware of a strange echo effect.

Two different shades of green, threaded together-- it felt as though there were two beings, not one, sharing the end of that connection. As he studied the effect in surprise, he became aware of a lesser connection leading away from the twinned essence; he touched it gently and got a strong mental sense of wisdom, caring, and tea, overlaying a mostly tamed, reckless strength.

Wesley pondered that, then pulled back towards his starting point, turning his gaze back to Faith. He was startled to find that Faith's essence seemed doubled also, intertwined with a steely blue that seemed to fade in and out. By a stretch of the imagination he could see the greens as Dawn and Buffy, connected by the manner of the Key's incarnation, but he had no idea how Faith could have been affected so.

He searched further, puzzled. He knew there should be a lesser line like the one that had felt of Giles-- and indeed there was, but it was weak, entirely unfamiliar, and certainly not his. Something very strange was going on.

He was unable to investigate it further, however, as something began pulling him urgently back into his body. "Wes! Wesley, snap out of it!" Faith's voice was faint, like a whisper in a whirlwind, drowned out by a great, raging mess of other filling his mind. He was in the grip of another attack-- and this time, there was a presence behind it.

All concept of the outside world faded as Wesley fought for control. It was like trying to wrestle a mist, or run on quicksand; the enemy flowed and seethed around him, battering at him with fear, anger, and hatred.

I can't believe I was so bloody stupid, he thought dimly. Demonic forces are converting my body, and I left it unattended?


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