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Fan Fiction: The New Seer
Chapter Five: Consequences
"Death is only the beginning."
Wes braced himself, sword at the ready, and returned Connor's furious glare with all the resentment and self-hatred he'd been harboring for months. He'd sacrificed *everything* for this child. The moment he'd made the final decision, after months of denial, research, and confirmations - well, he'd known he could never be forgiven. He'd known that his friends would no longer welcome him, that Angel would hunt him down, and that he'd never operate in his chosen field again lest he attract deadly notice. He'd grieved then, stricken with the absolute unfairness of it - but he'd also known there was no alternative. Connor's life, Angel's sanity, and the continued integrity of the team were worth the sacrifice required of him.
He had gathered up his courage, made that sacrifice, left the field of battle ... and one last moment of misplaced compassion had reduced it all to ashes. It had all been for nothing. Connor was alive, yes, but he was an innocent no longer, raised in a hell dimension by a man full of hatred and vengeance. Angel was imprisoned beneath the sea, slowly losing his mind as he starved in the lightless depths. Gunn and Fred were bitter and beleaguered, trying to fill too many roles as the agency dwindled around them. Cordelia was ... gone, in circumstances ominously unknown. And as for Wesley himself...
Connor complained that they'd hurt Justine? He had *no* idea.
"One good turn deserves another, wouldn't you say?" Wes said lightly, gesturing at the livid scar that marked the skin of his throat. It took all his concentration to remain calm and keep his voice even. "Don't worry; we won't kill her. We only want to know what she's done with Angel."
Connor laughed, an ugly sound full of anger and derision. "And you expect me to believe you? After Angelus killed my father?"
The accusation was something of a shock - none of Wes' informants had even hinted that Holtz had returned, much less that he had been murdered. Even so, despite the man's enmity with Angel, it seemed highly unlikely that the souled vampire would attempt to kill the man who...
Wes' thoughts ground to a halt, presenting him with the image of Angel lifting a pillow to his face, insisting that Wes recognize it was the souled version smothering him, not Angelus. Yes, Angel could have done it. Where his son was concerned, Angel seemed to lose all reason.
Gunn made an irritated noise next to Wes. "You know that ain't true," he said, gruffly, refuting the charge where Wes could not. "Angel told us. He went to see Holtz, yeah, but that was it. They talked, Holtz gave him the letter, then he left. No killing. Remember? Holtz said your place is with Angel now."
"Lies," Connor hissed. "Justine was there. She showed me the truth!"
"That's right, Stephen," Justine spoke up, her voice thick and hoarse. "Don't listen to them. You saw the wounds on his neck. Angelus ... Ah!"
Her diatribe was cut short by a sudden zapping sound, followed by the slap of limp flesh meeting pavement. Wes spared a glance over his shoulder and was greeted by the entertaining sight of Fred kneeling on Justine's back, pressing the business end of a taser into the angle where shoulder and neck joined.
"Justine!" Connor yelled, and made as if to charge them. Gunn lunged for the boy's knees, raising his axe at an angle above his head to deflect any possible sword blows, but Connor saw him coming. He gathered his muscles as he ran and leaped into the air, arcing high above Gunn and Wes and landing lightly next to Justine's form.
Fred flinched away from him and raised the taser again, but Connor didn't follow her. He lifted Justine instead, slinging her body over one shoulder, then took off down the street at a speed that no human could possibly match. He paused at the end of the block, glancing back over his shoulder with feral brown eyes, and said just one more thing before disappearing into the darkness.
"You'll never find him," Wesley echoed, staring bemusedly after the boy. "He knows, doesn't he? Perhaps even helped. Justine has him completely under her control."
Gunn grunted. "Maybe we shoulda just let her die."
Fred sighed and gathered her muscles to stand, then tucked the taser back into a pocket. "No. There's got to be a reason the Powers keep sending us visions about her."
"There's been more than one?" Wes frowned, blinking at her as he resheathed his sword. He couldn't remember Cordelia mentioning anything of the sort before the kidnapping, but there could easily have been one afterward.
"It was just before everyone vanished," Fred answered softly, confirming his guess. "Cordy saw a woman at a bar, ambushed by a gang of vampires..."
"Ah." Wes cut her off, suddenly remembering the incident in question. "Yes. I was there." He hadn't thought about it at the time, but it made perfect sense that Angel's appearance had been due to a vision. He could still hear Lilah's voice, whispering promises in his ear: 'I went to a lot of trouble to arrange this little show for you.' It had been the first of many tests that Lilah had thrown his way, and incidentally, his first glimpse of the young man Connor had become. Quite the memorable evening.
"You were, huh?" Gunn grunted, then dropped a knee to the ground and scooped up Fred's discarded crossbow. "Angel didn't mention it."
"I didn't exactly announce my presence," Wesley said, his words short and clipped. He could still remember the shock he'd suffered when he'd realized that *no one* had chosen to inform him of Connor's return; unforgiven or not, he would have thought the small matter of the reappearance of the boy whose kidnapping had been the single worst moment of his life would have been worth some sort of mention. He could feel his hackles rising at the echo of all that anger and despair, and took a deep breath in an effort to remain calm.
"However, that hardly matters now," he continued, frowning grimly up at the roofline where the surviving vampires had disappeared. "What matters is that we are no closer to finding Angel, and that the Master who took over L.A. in his absence is now aware of our identities."
"Jacob," Fred said, biting her lip as she followed his gaze upward."Oh great," Gunn groused. "As if we didn't have enough to worry about." He aimed another scowl in Wes' direction, then handed Fred her crossbow and secured the axe beneath his jacket again. "So what do we do next?"
"Go home?" Wes shrugged.
They both gave him slightly incredulous looks, and he sighed at the disappointed expectation in their eyes. "I may have the visions now, but I certainly don't have all the answers, and it's been a very long day. We can meet again tomorrow and go over what little we know before we begin a new search together."
The silence stretched out between them; Fred laid a hand on Gunn's arm, her face lined with worry, and Gunn stared impassively at Wes for several seconds. The new understanding between the three of them was still as fragile as brittle glass, and Gunn's reactions could make or break it.
"Okay," he finally said, nodding sharply at Wes. "But bring doughnuts. I want to start early." On that less than cheerful note, he turned and headed back toward the hotel. Fred trailed in his wake, and after a tired pause, Wesley followed. His bike, after all, was still parked next to Gunn's truck.
The new bruises on Wes' body sent up a chorus of complaints on the ride back to his flat, throbbing in time with the remnants of his headache. It was all of a piece with his mood, melancholy and raw, and he was unaccountably relieved to open his door at last and find everything still as he'd left it. Somewhere in his subconscious he'd feared that the mess of the last several months would have reappeared in his absence, or that some agency, human or otherwise, would have torn the place apart. Wolfram & Hart would not be pleased at Lilah's latest failure.
He closed the door behind him, locking it thoroughly, then tossed his sword in the direction of the couch and began shrugging out of his jacket. First things first; a shower, a search through his records for significant mentions of the vampire Jacob, then - hopefully - a few hours of sleep. It would be the first time in months he'd attempted it without the buffer of alcohol, but ...
The sword had hit a non-couch *something*, then clattered to the floor; someone had got into his apartment after all. Wesley froze mid-shrug and stared toward the couch, adrenaline hitting his system at the sound of the unfamiliar voice.
The speaker was young in appearance, a man with pale skin, dark hair, and eyes bluer than his own. He had a glass of water in his left hand, and was glancing down at his right arm with a little knitted frown. "Watch where you're throwin' things," he continued, his words flavored with a slight Irish lilt. Then he looked up at Wesley, and the world seemed to stand still.
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