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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Eighteen: And So It Is Written
"Wisest men Have erred, and by bad women been deceived; And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise."
"I'll take that as my cue," Gunn said, standing up and stretching. "You'll be okay with the books, girl?"
Fred smiled up at him. "Of course, Charles. Books never hurt anyone. Well, except maybe the kind that summon portals..." She wrinkled her nose.
"Or the kind that demons are trapped in... Watch what you scan, guys, that one wasn't pretty." Buffy sounded tired and worn, not surprising given the sheer mass of disturbing news that she'd just heard, but her tone was light and she smiled slightly in Fred's direction.
"Okay, so maybe books aren't so safe," Fred said, laughing a little, "but I'm sure we can deal with 'em just fine. Go have fun, Charles."
Gunn dropped a brief kiss on his petite girlfriend's lips, then walked over to the weapons case and retrieved his faithful hubcap axe. "Cordy? Groo? You comin', guys?"
"Sure, why not?" Cordelia said. "Beats sitting around." She retrieved a pair of swords, handed one to Groo, then linked an arm through his and headed after Gunn toward the interior of the hotel.
"I think I'll check on Dawn." Buffy turned her faded smile on Wesley, tucking her hands in the back pockets of her jeans. "Um, to see if she's awake. Then I'll come see what's the what."
"Go ahead, Buffy, take all the time you like," Wesley assured her.
She nodded, chewing a little on her lower lip, then turned and walked slowly up the stairs. He couldn't help but notice how Spike watched her every step until she was out of sight, concern clear in the tilt of his head and the tension in his posture.
"And I guess we'll be in the kitchen," Faith said, brightly. She grinned at Wesley when he caught her eye, then grabbed a fistful of Jonathan's shirt and started towing him in the appropriate direction. "You have food, right, Angel?" she added as an afterthought.
"I do have human co-workers, you know," he said, shaking his head at her. "What do you think?"
"Just checking," she said archly, then turned to Ethan. "Coming?"
"I don't suppose I have much of a choice?" the chaos mage asked, with an ironic smile. He stood as he spoke, not bothering to wait for an answer, and followed his son and the Dark Slayer out of the lobby.
"Well." Lorne had finished divesting himself of coat, hat, and scarf, and blinked at the four people still remaining in the room. "They sure cleared out quick. Now can you tell me what's going on?"
Wesley sighed. He didn't really want to repeat all of that again... but then, Lorne didn't really need it, did he? He was an anagogic demon, after all. Wesley cleared his throat and sang a short, low verse, inspired by Spike's mood. "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone... It's not warm when she's away..."
Lorne abruptly clapped his hands over his ears. "Ah! Warn me when you're going to do that! Not that your voice is all that terrible, sweet cheeks, but that's a lot to dump on a guy all at once." He shuddered. "Poor kid. I'll never understand why the monks didn't make her a blackbelt in karate, or something useful, instead of just another California teenager."
"Well, did you see anything about what's coming, then?" Spike asked, intently.
Lorne shook his head, and rubbed at the base of one of his horns. "No. I'm starting to think the Powers That Be have a specific blockage on Wesley here, and whatever's going to happen is all tangled up with him. What happened today came through loud and clear, but the future's all fogged in."
"Well, to the books then," Fred said brightly. "There's got to be something in them."
Wesley debated several times over the next few hours whether he ought to tell Angel what had happened with the Vydd demons, or reveal the conversation he'd had in the vision with his vampiric double. Each time, he decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and kept his mouth shut. He'd been burned often enough by words and assumptions of meaning in the past; he disliked the thought of presenting any sort of suspicion without something concrete to back it up.
It came as a slight shock to realize that the only one in the room keeping up with his voracious pace through the reference books was Spike. Wesley had long since learned that the Council's blurb on William the Bloody was inaccurate as to age and the details of the vampire's turning, but he'd never seen reason to doubt its hints of a rough youth and lower-class heritage. He'd certainly never expected to see the vampire as he appeared now, poring over pages in multiple languages, muttering to himself as he read. Spike even had a pair of glasses perched on his nose that he'd retrieved from some internal pocket of his duster.
Abruptly, Wesley was reminded of the chipped vampire's earlier words about the line of Aurelius. "Ah, Spike?" he began, settling his current book back on the table they were seated around.
"What?" he asked irritably, blinking up at Wesley over the lenses of his glasses. "I'm in the middle of a rather difficult passage."
Good Lord. Where had the lower-class accent gone? This man... vampire... certainly was a mass of contradictions. Wesley wondered suddenly just how many prophecies centered around him.
"Watcher?" Spike frowned. The accent, and the raised eyebrow, made a reappearance.
"Sorry," Wesley said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Woolgathering. When the demon mentioned the golden child, back at Wolfram and Hart, you told me that there were a series of prophecies specific to the line of Aurelius. Do you remember anything else about them? It could be important."
"Oh, that." Spike shut the book in front of him with a snap, and sighed.
"What do you mean, specific prophecies?" Angel looked up from the Latin text he was paging through, and furrowed his brow at his grandchilde. "I never heard of them."
"Well, you weren't exactly the Master's favorite scion, now were you?" Spike said, dryly. "I don't know as he even told Darla about most of them, after she left him for you. I only found out a few years back, in Prague, when Dru was ill. She told me how she used to tell the old bat stories about the things Miss Edith said, and how he wrote them down in a journal with a lot of other odds and ends. So I looked it up when I brought her to the Hellmouth."
"Do you have a copy?" Wesley asked, fascinated. Drusilla was mad and quite evil, but she had a genuine seer's gift. It would be quite enlightening to see what she'd had to say over the years.
Spike shook his head, squelching that notion. "Not anymore. Dru took it with her when she left the last time. I do remember, though, that there were a lot of references in it to the golden child, mortal born of Aurelius' line. Some of it was even from before Dru's time. Her bits were just as likely to call him the Destroyer, and she talked a lot about the darkness that shall travel in his wake, demons kneeling at his feet, and streets running thick with blood. Etcetera."
Fred spoke up softly, her nose scrunched up in dismay. "Not very happy prophecies, are they?"
"Well, I have yet to meet a happy prophecy," Lorne said, aiming a reassuring smile at her. "But you're all still here, aren't you? You've outwitted prophecies before."
"Survived them," Wesley corrected him, "not outwitted them. The one about the father killing the son turned out to be true, after all." He glanced apologetically at Angel for bringing the subject up, then sighed. "I just wish we could find something useful. You'd think there would be some reference to yet another threat to the Hellmouth..."
"Hey, wait," Fred said suddenly. "I just remembered something..." She flipped back several pages, and traced a finger down a line of text. "What was that thing you called Dawn? Key, or something? I thought this was just another piece of poetry, but it mentions the Mouth of Hell..."
Wesley perked up and checked the spine of the book Fred was working from. It was written in English, surprisingly, in the eighteenth century; rather recent for a book of prophecies. It had been on the stack of "read eventually" for awhile now, pushed aside by other, more important texts.
"Here it is," Fred exclaimed.
"When the Thirteen take their stand 'gainst Devils' law
Wesley counted swiftly. Including Lorne, there were indeed thirteen people in the hotel, and they were all awaiting an attack by Wolfram and Hart. The second line was rather obvious, as was the third, referring to Los Angeles and the Hellmouth respectively. The fourth clearly referred to...
He broke off his train of thought as a sick feeling began to settle in the pit of his stomach. "Blood."
Spike snorted. "It's always got to be blood, hasn't it?"
"No, you don't understand..." He pushed his chair back and stood, running out into the lobby. Buffy had come back downstairs, fortunately, and Dawn was sitting right beside her, slightly drowsy but awake.
"Wes?" Buffy asked, startled at his sudden appearance. "What's the what?"
"You said needles," he asked her, urgently. "The lawyers came after you with needles. Did they take any blood?"
She frowned at him. "I don't know, it kinda all fades to black when I try to think about it. The drugs they gave us were pretty heavy duty stuff."
"Check," he urged her. "And you as well, Dawn, if you don't mind. A needle mark along a major vein, or..."
"Hey!" Buffy exclaimed, rubbing at the small red spot on the inside of her elbow. "They did!"
"Uh oh," Dawn said, quietly. "This isn't going to be like the last time some bad guy wanted my blood, is it?"
"Wait a minute," Faith spoke up. She, Jonathan, and Ethan had been playing a card game on the floor at one edge of the lobby, but something in the conversation appeared to have caught her attention. She laid her hand down on the carpet, face-up, and stood, rubbing the soft skin on the inside of her arm. "There's something going on to do with blood? A couple of Watcher guys came by yesterday, just before Lilah released me, and took some. They said they were testing it for something."
The other two players stood up also, leaving their cards scattered on the floor. Ethan narrowed his eyes, looking thoughtful. "The sacrifice they were talking about... If they were using one of the older blood magic rituals..." His expression soured. "They took some of my blood as well, claiming that they were testing it to make sure I was an appropriately powerful sacrificial subject."
Wesley sighed heavily. "They already have some of mine, thanks to Lilah's machinations just after I was born. I'd wager that all thirteen of us, in fact, have provided them samples at one point or another, either today or through other recent schemes."
"So what do you think it means?" Buffy asked.
"Besides the fact that we just proved some of the Council is on the wrong side, and that the lawyer guys tricked us?" Faith said, bitterly.
"Thirteen is an obvious ritual number," Wesley said, quietly. "And we already know what ritual they were planning to perform."
As if on cue, the ground underfoot began to rumble, gently shaking the foundations of the hotel.
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.