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Chapter One

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Fan Fiction: The New Seer

Chapter One: Unsettled

"For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leads unto life"
~Matthew 7:14, The Bible, KJV


Wes had never seen Lilah look quite so startled in all the time he'd known her, nor quite so nakedly avaricious. The two emotions flashed visibly over her face, one after the other, then cleared into her usual bland legal expression.

"You saw Angel?" she asked, trying for a casual tone, but he could still see the glee sparkling in her eyes. "Now, wherever did that bad boy get to?"

Wes looked down at the stack of pages he'd been about to sign, speckled a little with blood where he'd dropped the quill pen. The first half of a cursive W stared back at him mockingly, and the pounding in his temples increased a notch in response.

Strangely, the pain of the vision headache seemed to be clearing his mind, rather than clouding it up. The long slow slide of the last few months had led him through many extremes of emotion and thought, but self-examination and honesty hadn't been very high on his agenda. Now everything was coming back into focus, flooding him with nausea and a sense of vertigo, as though he'd been walking the edge of a high cliff for weeks and was only just realizing it.

"The same place I imagine he's been for the last three months," he said dryly, in answer to Lilah's question. Then he reached for the pen again.

The earlier flash of greed he'd seen in Lilah's eyes returned with a vengeance, and he couldn't help the bitter smile that formed on his lips. If he'd been a catch for the firm before due to his intelligence, Watcher background, and ties to Angel Investigations, he would be triply valuable now. Wolfram & Hart would reward Lilah very well for roping in a seer for the Powers that Be, especially the seer for the very Champion they wished to control.

Scenes of a possible future flashed through his mind; not a vision, this time, just his own morbid imagination. Wolfram & Hart rescuing Angel from the dark place Wes had seen, gloating through the souled vampire's disorientation and hunger as he woke. Lilah, seated behind a massive polished desk in her new, larger office, looking smug and sleek as she took down the details of Wes' latest vision and thought up ways to exploit it. Gavin, standing in the lobby of the Hyperion with a sneer as he passed on what details the firm deigned to reveal. It rather put things in perspective.

Casually, Wes turned the quill around in his fingers, then began to exert pressure with his thumb. The pen bent briefly, then broke with a satisfying snap and fell negligently to the floor in two pieces.

Lilah's expression see-sawed into shock, then anger, and she made a sudden, determined grab for the partially-signed contract. "Now, Wes," she began warningly, "we had a deal ..."

He snagged the pages out of her reach, tucking them up in his arms; he had no desire to find out what her firm could do with the blood he'd left on that contract, now that he'd decided to live. That was a depth of irony he was most definitely not willing to descend to.

"You and I had a deal," he corrected her, backing away as he fended off her determined attempts to grab the contract out of his arms. "Circumstances have changed. I don't believe the Powers that Be would appreciate inclusion, however peripherally, in your scheming."

She stopped trying to play keep-away with the contract and crossed her arms, frowning as she carefully studied his expression. "So, you're sure that was a real vision? More than that, you're sure it came from the Powers that Be? It could have been your imagination, or a one-off, or from some other source entirely, you know. No reason to void your contract on a maybe, there are so many things we can do for you."

If Wes hadn't seen her face when he had first looked up from the painful barrage of images, he might have been swayed by the reasonable tone in her voice, and the logical doubts she was presenting. He had, however, and the damage had already been done. "But you don't believe it's a maybe, do you, Lilah?" he asked her, shaking his head.

She sighed, unexpectedly, and uncrossed her arms, giving him a rueful smile. "I knew it was too good to be true," she said. "I warned them you had a goody-goody backbone in there somewhere."

The resigned attitude didn't match what he knew of her, and was entirely unlikely to satisfy Linwood; Wes didn't trust it. He took another cautious step away from her, circling towards the kitchen and the drawer where he kept the matches. "Oddly enough, I find it difficult to believe that you're giving up that easily," he said.

Lilah's smile turned shark-like, and she raised an arched eyebrow. "Oh, this isn't over," she said. "That, you can be sure of." Then she turned on one expensively shod heel and walked casually out of his apartment, as though this had been just another of their usual bi-weekly encounters.

Wes stared after her, more unsettled than he wanted to admit, then hurried to the door and locked it firmly behind her. Silently, he thanked whatever deity had preserved enough of his common sense to prevent him from gifting her with a key, then retreated back towards the kitchen.

Matches were the first order of duty, to burn the contract. In his hands, not fully signed, it was not binding, but there were may things that demons or unscrupulous practitioners of magic might accomplish with it; he knew better than to keep it as a souvenir. Thus, the first task of his new career dovetailed nicely with the last of the old -- if you could count either "seer" or "slide to destruction" as a career -- crackling merrily away in a tray placed on the kitchen counter.

His stomach roiled again as he realized once more just how close he'd come to achieving that destruction. Not that he valued his own life very much; after all, becoming a human seer was just as much of a death sentence as his deal with Lilah would have been. But there was still enough of the conscientious Watcher left inside to quail at the innocents his actions would have endangered, even without the visions.

Wes reached automatically for a bottle of Scotch, intending to quiet the recriminating thoughts that were keeping time with the pulse stabbing at his temples. Then he paused, hefting the weight of it in his hand, blinking at the label. Just how much time and clarity had he sunk in the fuzzy depths of alcohol this summer? He neither needed nor deserved that softening oblivion, especially now. There were things to be done.

Wes set the bottle down next to the tray, still glowing with the fading embers of the legal contract. Then he fumbled in the cupboards for a bottle of aspirin, and dry-swallowed four of them. Cordelia had managed, and so could he.

That thought brought him up short again. He hadn't questioned where the vision had come from; he'd just known, as though the sender and means of transmission were stamped on his subconscious. True, Lilah's reaction had all but confirmed it -- had Wolfram & Hart been waiting to see which of Angel's other associates would be struck with them? -- but he would have been certain even without the lawyer's presence.

Perhaps there was more information transmitted in a vision than was immediately obvious? As far as he was aware, no one had ever done a thorough scholarly paper on the effects and nuances of a seer's career. There would be time to worry about that later, however; there were other, more important things to be concerned with.

For example, if he were getting the visions now, that meant Cordelia had indeed gone, most likely for good. It meant Angel was *his* Champion now, whether they hated each other or not. It meant rejoining Angel Investigations, facing Connor, dealing with Gunn's rejection and Fred's pity, and nobly downing migraine medications in the pursuit of justice. He glanced at the heap of ash in the tray again, abruptly regretting his decision to burn the thing, then shook his head.

"Narrow the gate, Wesley," he muttered to himself. "Bloody hell."


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