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Chapter Data

Chapter Fourteen

Fan Fiction: From the Shadows

Chapter Fourteen: Two Sides to Every Story

"If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."
~The Bible, Mark 3:25 (NIV)


Laughter rang out in the stormy space, and a sudden calmness fell.

Wesley focused, and found himself on a featureless black plain he knew well from earlier dreams. This time, however, there were no stars, and no avatar of the Powers That Be; there was only the mirror-smooth black surface under his feet, lit dimly by the reflection of gray clouds above and a wall of winds encircling him at several meters' distance. If he'd compared this attack to a whirlwind earlier, now he was forced to expand the concept to a hurricane.

Wisps of cloud swirled down and formed into a figure in front of him, hooded and cloaked in heavy black drapery. Wesley thought immediately of Nazgűl, and a chill ran up his spine. "Who are you?" he asked, defiant and full of dread.

"Who are you?" the creature echoed, mocking him again with its laughter. Paradoxically, Wesley was relieved to hear it speak; that was not the hissing, supernatural voice he'd instinctively feared. It sounded British, cultured, and familiar, and centered him squarely back in the world of things he understood.

"Vampire demon," he said, glaring at the thing that faced him. "You shall not have this body."

"Oh, but I already do," it said, its voice thick with amusement. "I have always been here."

Wesley shook his head in denial, firming up his resolve, then reached for the sword that still hung at his side and drew it from its sheath. "You shall not have this body," he repeated, and brought the blade up in a defensive posture.

"No?" it said, copying his movement. A duplicate sword extended from its shrouded hand, held in a posture that mirrored his own. "Then no one will."

They moved as one to attack, and the sound of steel against steel rang out in the wind-bordered arena. Wesley grunted in surprise as the other easily overpowered him. They seemed matched in skill, but the new strength and speed he'd used against the vampires only a few hours earlier had suddenly left him. His muscles shook with the strain of merely blocking his attacker's blade; if he were going to win this, it would have to be within the next few minutes.

Wesley increased his efforts, attacking as swiftly as he could, summoning up all the tricks he could remember; his enemy blocked and countered each move easily, and he quickly grew frustrated. It was like his first weeks in Sunnydale all over again, pouring all his effort into a fight with an opponent who could defeat him one-handed while reading a book.

Sweat began dripping into Wesley's eyes and his breathing began to grow ragged as he contemplated desperation measures. He had no idea what injuries in here would do to his actual body, but death was death, however you measured it. What of Faith, when a ravenous creature awoke, Wesley-shaped, in her arms? He could not allow that to happen.

Wesley managed to lock swords with the attacker again, and this time freed a hand to wrap around the other's blade, heedless of the damage it caused. He ignored the pain and the dripping blood, then drew his weapon back to make a final strike, while the other was (however briefly) unable to block.

He half-expected to be overpowered again. He half-feared to fail utterly and die without taking his enemy down with him. He was not prepared for the sudden cry that enemy gave, or its own blood flowing down the hilt of its sword.

He froze, inches from taking the thing's head, and stared blindly at its hooded form.

"You begin to understand," it said, softly, and began to laugh.

Wesley's sword dropped from nerveless fingers, ringing faintly as it hit the floor beneath him. Vampire demons took on the characteristics of their hosts; it was no shock to hear his own voice taunting him. This, however, was something more, something horribly wrong. Hesitantly, he reached for the edge of the thing's hood and grasped the rough material with a shaking hand.

((You think you know... what's to come... what you are. You haven't even begun.))

The dark fabric slipped easily away, continuing its heavy slide down the enemy's form to puddle thickly on the floor. Wesley knew what vampire demons in their natural state looked like; Angel's transformation in Pylea had been a rather vivid demonstration. They looked nothing like what he was seeing now.

"I have seen the enemy," it mocked him, "and he is me."

Wesley held his injured hand palm up, still bleeding sluggishly, and watched as it-– he-– did the same, mirroring him as completely as any silver-backed piece of glass could. Only the smirk on his double's face and the darkness glittering in the steely blue eyes showed any difference between them. "How is this possible?" Wesley asked, softly, too stunned to even raise his voice.

"Born human of inhuman parents," his twin said, sounding amused. "One parent with a soul, and one without. One face light, and the other dark. Does this sound at all familiar?"

"Hybrid," Wesley whispered, recognizing the quoted passage. "Daywalker. But that is myth, not history or prophecy!"

"Oh? And where did the First Slayer come from?"

That silenced Wesley, and his double laughed again before continuing. "Quartoth would have made things easier; all that dark energy would have brought both natures to the fore. Here, death was required. Pity it wasn't permanent; I would have been the greatest Master Vampire to walk the Earth."

"And if I do not accept this?" Wesley challenged.

"That option is no longer available," he was answered. "Now, there is only one choice left. Live, or die."

Was that all it came down to? Could he live with this new knowledge, with the dark side of his nature fully activated? He'd been trying to avoid worrying about the situation until he had time to stop and research, but obviously, that course of action had proven as futile as it always had in the past.

Wesley remembered the way he'd acted under Billy's influence, and shuddered. And yet... he was not being asked to turn evil, exactly. This was already a part of him, else he would not be here, having an argument with another part of his own being. Whatever was added, whatever changed, the bits that made him Wesley would still remain. Wouldn't they? He didn't know yet what to make of the mention of the First Slayer's origin, but assuming it were true, she had become a warrior of Light, a force for good despite her gray nature. Hadn't she?

As he stood, indecisive, a faint voice carried into the void, shredding the circling winds and pushing the clouds before it. "Wes! They're here, Wes, they're coming..." Underlying the words a banging sound could be heard, the sound of a door being broken down.

"Faith," he said, stricken. How long had it been since he left her alone in their refuge?

"Faith," his double echoed, his smirk fading into an intense, concerned look.

Wesley swallowed. "Well. There's something we agree on." He couldn't leave her; he couldn't leave any of them. He had obligations. This decision did not exist in a vacuum, despite the appearance of this place. Whatever happened in the future, he must attend to the present first. He took a deep, calming breath, then held out his bleeding hand.

Their injured palms touched, and a flash of light swept them both away.

Wesley's eyes snapped open, and he found himself back in the empty little room, clasping hands with Faith. She was still calling his name, watching him with a worried expression, glancing from his face to the beleaguered door and back again. The moment she realized he was awake, she gave a little cry and dropped his hands.

"Faith," he said, looking at her through new eyes. Difficult, he'd thought earlier, dangerous, and also desirable; she was all of these, but she was also more. He'd labeled her troubled, in need of protection, in need of redemption, but if any of that were so, it applied to him also in equal measure. Darkness and light, savior and damned, hero and villain. They were well matched.

"Wes!" she exclaimed, and touched Wesley's face with a shaking hand. "You're still alive!" She grinned fiercely, then pulled him to his feet and welcomed him back properly with a brief, intense kiss. "Let's kick some ass."

He returned her fierce smile, sharing in her predatory mood, and once more drew his sword. It still shimmered with the blessing he'd asked upon it earlier; his skin prickled where he gripped it, but fortunately did not burn. Faith armed herself with her knife and one of her stakes, and they turned together towards the door as it finally gave in, revealing a quintet of uglies with axes and clubs.

"'Bout time we saw some action," Spike muttered from behind them, and the sound of shifting bone announced his brand of preparation; a vampire was never unarmed while he could summon his demon face.

"Briefcase," one of the uglies grunted, pointing past Wesley to the leather case Spike had left open on the floor. "Give."

"I don't think so," Wesley responded, and slashed out at the offending hand.

The battle was hideously unbalanced. Fists flew, blades slashed, stakes plunged, and demons crumpled to the floor. In less than a minute the enemy had been reduced to several small glowing puddles, which dried up at an astonishing rate.

"Hey! They were the melty kind!" Faith said, grinning. "Cool. You think they had time to tell anyone else where we were?"

Wesley frowned, extending newly awakened senses, trying to tell if any others were close. "Mmm. I don't think so; there don't seem to be reinforcements nearby. I'm not sure they were even specifically searching for us. Jonathan may have run into difficulties."

Faith gave him a slightly confused look, then suddenly gasped. Her eyes widened, and she took a quick step back, raising her knife in a defensive posture. "You... you're not human anymore. But you came back alive!"

"Faith." Wesley had hoped that no one would notice the change until all was over, but it couldn't be helped. He sheathed his sword and spread his hands, presenting a non-threatening posture. "I take it your Slayer senses have returned? I rather suspect I was blocking them earlier without being aware of it."

"But you..."

"I am the same as I was before," he told her calmly, "with perhaps a little extra."

"More like a lot extra," Spike said, sourly. "We are going to talk, mate."

Faith threw a glare at Spike, then stared at Wesley for a long moment. Finally, she nodded firmly. "Okay. I can deal. Just so long as you fill me in as soon as this is over."

"That seems fair," he said, and smiled faintly, brushing her cheek with his fingertips. Then he dropped his hand and eyed the open briefcase. "So. Spike. Find anything of importance in the paperwork?"

Spike's usual arrogant expression faded into something Wesley had never expected to see in the Master Vampire-- guilt. "Ah, one small thing. M'not sure what I'm going to tell the girls, but that minion I staked when I ran into the lawyer..." He picked up the first sheet from the stack, and held it out.

Wesley took it, holding it carefully out of long habit to avoid getting smudges on the paper. "Subject Hank Summers, sired December 2000... Dear God." There was a lot more information on the page; photograph, prior information, current cover (with his girlfriend in Spain) and known relatives. Next to his daughter's names, VAMPIRE SLAYER and TRANSDIMENSIONAL ENERGY MATRIX were written in large, red block letters.

Spike sighed. "I'd thought he was just another of Darla's fledges-- I'd heard that she and Dru were in town for awhile, and he felt familiar. Last thing this world needs is more scions of our bloody psychotic family. Never once thought..." He paused, thrusting his hands into his pockets. "I imagine the firm was savin' him to use against the Slayer, but when they found out about Dawn..."

Wesley tossed the sheet of paper back onto the briefcase. Spike might be an evil soulless creature, but it was hard to remember that when he acted so human; Wesley felt impelled to reassure him. "Better you than Buffy. You were there when she fought Angelus, correct? Imagine her trying to Slay her own father."

Spike shuddered. "I'd just as soon not," he said, then turned away to slam the briefcase shut and pick it up again. "Everything else in here is just garbage, mostly custody paperwork and copies of Dawn's records."

"Wait a minute," Faith suddenly said. "December 2000? That's back before Buffy died. Before Joyce died, even. No wonder..."

"Yeah," Spike said wryly. "No wonder he acted like a soulless wanker; he was one."

"As fascinating as that may be," Wesley interrupted them, "we need to get moving before more guards are sent to remove us."

Faith nodded, and put her knife away as she stepped out into the hallway. "Yeah, we're burning daylight here. Did you figure out where they were?"

Burning. Daylight. Concepts he still didn't have to worry about. Wesley felt mometarily giddy with relief, and stepped out after her with a smile. "Ah," he said. "Almost directly above us, about three floors upward. We'd better backtrack to the elevator."

"Right, then," Spike said. He brushed past them impatiently, and led their small group as they retraced their steps.


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