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Chapter Three

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Fan Fiction: The New Seer

Chapter Three: Spilt Milk

"Life's like this you
And you fall and you crawl and you break
and you take what you get and you turn it into honesty
and promise me I'm never gonna find you fake it
no no no"

~Avril Lavigne, 'Complicated'


Wes stood in the doorway of his old office, trying very hard to suppress the feeling of having come home. It looked much the same as it had when he had left it; someone had been dusting, and a few books had been moved, but the majority of his things were where he'd left them. Well, sans the tea set, obviously, and a few other blatant reminders of his existence that Fred had packed up and brought to him.

... Of course, if he'd been the one packing, he'd have gone about it the other way around; sad to say, he identified himself more strongly with the prophecies and manuscripts than the knick-knacks.

"Haven't done much researching this summer?" he asked, mildly, glancing over at Fred as he finished his visual inspection.

She glanced nervously around at the shelves, then at Gunn's closed face, then back at Wes. "Well, it's not like we could read most of them," she said, "and we haven't had Cordelia's visions, anyway, so we didn't need to research all that much."

"Get to the point, Wes," Gunn said, glaring at him.

"Strange that Fred should mention the visions," Wes answered, staring back at Gunn. "Since I apparently have them now."

"What?" Fred exclaimed. "But that ... Are you sure? When did you get them? What happened to Cordelia?"

Gunn stepped forward, past Fred, and got a good grip on the front of Wes' shirt before slamming him up against the wall. "Cordy's been gone all summer, Wes. What did you do to her? Why haven't you said anything before now? You been feeding the visions to Lilah? That why she wants you so much?"

"I've no idea what happened to Cordelia." Wes' headache was beginning to come back. He'd known Gunn wouldn't take this very well, but this was getting ridiculous. "I have never intentionally caused harm to those I care about," he said, putting as much emphasis on the words as he could. "You know that, Charles."

"Yeah, well," Gunn answered, growling into Wes' face, "you know what they say about the road to Hell."

"I'm perfectly aware of ..." Wes began, then gasped and lost his balance as another vision hit him.

Blood. So much blood. The metallic scent of it was heavy in his nostrils, overwhelming his other senses. Muted, as if at a distance, he could hear the angry yelling of a young man, and the sounds of fists meeting flesh. He could see several shadowed forms fighting back and forth in a narrow alley next to a video store, and a broken body sprawled on the ground. His sight came into focus a little more, then, and he abruptly recognized the woman's brassy hair ... it was Justine, and she was quite dead. Connor stood over her, trying to defend himself against a pack of large vampires, but he was slowly losing.

"Shit, English, you're heavier than you look." A strained voice brought Wes out of it, and he realized that he had collapsed against Gunn like a puppet with its strings cut.

"Sorry." He got his feet under him again and pushed away from Gunn, then took his glasses off and rubbed futilely at the stabbing pain in his temples. "I hadn't entirely recovered from the first one," he said by way of apology, then started moving slowly towards a chair. Fred leapt to help him, steering him with an arm around his back and a hand at his elbow.

"First one?" she asked, sounding concerned. "Your first vision was today?"

"Well, yes," he said, squinting carefully up at her from the chair. "It seems the Powers have decided that now is as good a time as any to rescue Angel, and silly me, I thought the two of you might want to assist." He couldn't quite keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

"So Cordy's gone, you got her visions, and Angel's trapped somewhere," Gunn summed up, bluntly. "And what about Connor? He with Angel?"

Wes snorted. "No, he's with Justine. Who's apparently going to get herself killed in an hour or so, near that video store six blocks to the west of here. If I can trouble you for some aspirin and the use of a sword, I intend to do something about it."

"Justine?" Gunn raised his eyebrows. "You mean Holtz's Justine?"

"Yes, Holtz's Justine," Wes rolled his eyes, then winced as the motion worsened his headache. "The same Justine who claimed to need sanctuary from Holtz, then cut my throat when I let my guard down and took Connor back to the man who had beaten her. I imagine Connor sees her as some sort of mother figure."

Wes still had slight bitterness issues over what she had done, although intellectually he knew that she was a product of her history. It actually bore an uncomfortable resemblance to his situation when he thought about it, except that Gunn and Fred didn't even have the understanding part down. He'd never had a chance to explain it to them.

Gunn and Fred shared a troubled look, and then focused on him again. Fred shook herself and started digging through the desk drawers, presumably looking for aspirin, and Gunn moved to sit on the edge of the desk, in front of Wes. He still looked upset, but there was a lot less anger in him.

"You know, we thought you were taking Connor to Holtz anyway," he said, matter-of-factly. "Not to send him to Quor-Toth, Justine said you were innocent of that, but ..." He shrugged. "We found out about that prophecy, going through your notes; Fred told you it was a trick, right? Sahjhan planted it. Anyway, we figured you took the baby to Angel's enemy to keep safe, and got double-crossed along the way."

Wes sighed. "You never asked," he said, sharply. "Angel's anger I expected, but the rest of you ... I thought you knew me better than that. Perhaps I should have said something, but I couldn't risk it. You would either have disagreed with me and told Angel, or agreed with me and wanted to help, and either option would have endangered too many people. The simplest solution was to take the responsibility on myself, and try to raise Connor somewhere distant and safe."

"And what about the part with you and Holtz?" Fred spoke up, looking up at him as she lifted the aspirin container from a drawer and twisted the top off. "Lorne said he read that from you, before you hit him ... you were meeting with Holtz behind our backs."

Wes frowned. Well, that explained some of the assumptions; why couldn't Lorne have read any of the pertinent bits? "Information gathering, Fred. I asked questions, made threats; it wasn't pretty. While I was there, Holtz implied that he also knew of the prophecies and that if I didn't take Connor to safety myself, he would. I was determined not to let that happen."

Gunn was silent for a moment, looking down at the ground; then he snorted and shook his head. "You remember that lecture you gave me after my old gang busted up Lorne's club? The one about there being no place for me on the team if I kept secrets? Pot and kettle, man, pot and kettle. You had no right to keep us out of it, risk or no risk."

Wes took three more aspirin from the handful Fred presented to him, and tossed them back. "Well, the milk has already been spilt," he said. "And unless you've found a time-travel device since the last time we worked together, I suggest we put it behind us and call a truce. I need your help, and I believe you need mine."

Both men fell quiet, studying each other. After a moment of silence had passed, Fred spoke up, rubbing her hands together. "Okay then. We better get moving. What kind of bad guys are we up against? Vampires? Demons? How many?"

Wes offered a tired smile in her direction. "Vampires. Several. I couldn't see them clearly, but they were overpowering Connor."

She nodded. "Swords, stakes, and crossbows. Gotcha." Then she headed for the weapons case.

"All right then," Gunn finally said, nodding. "You understand, though, that you lost the trust? And Angel's back to being the boss."

"I understand," Wes nodded. It was more than he'd expected, actually. Gunn's belated welcome, as limited as it was, was balm to a soul that had been parched for contact for many months. For the first time since Connor's kidnapping, some fragment of the old understanding between the two men flared to life. Their friendship had been heavily damaged by actions and assumptions on both sides, but perhaps it was salvageable, after all.

"Need more aspirin, or are you ready to go?" Gunn asked.

Wes put his glasses back on and stood slowly. His vision headache had downgraded from blinding pain to a throbbing ache, and there wasn't any lingering dizziness; he doubted it would get much better until after the crisis had passed. "I'll be fine," he answered. "Let's get moving."


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