|Navigation: Home About News Fiction Links Email|
Fan Fiction: Lesser Men
Chapter Eight: Found
Wesley knew the moment he stood up that something was going very wrong. Either he was allergic to something, or the combination of magic, drugs, and alcohol in his system was turning sour. Regardless, he was very grateful that Jonathan had chosen "the white hat business"; without the boy's help, he would probably have passed out right there on the floor. Wesley was still curious as to the young man's true purpose for being in Los Angeles, and what Ethan had meant about the boy's activities this past year, but questions could wait until some other day.
Slowly, the pair made their way outside. Jonathan paused when they reached the sidewalk, a little courtesy that Wesley was very grateful for. He couldn't seem to catch his breath, and his balance was rather shaky.
"Uh, are you okay?" Jonathan was tugging at his arm. "Should I call an ambulance or something?"
An ambulance would be nice. He could barely feel anything anymore except for the throbbing knife wound, and the ground had taken on a queasy rocking motion. Hospital would be better. Neither, however, was a good idea at this point. Wesley swallowed and opened his mouth to frame an answer, but was cut off by a familiar voice from the sidewalk behind them.
"Yeah, you might want to do that." Was that Angel? Here? Now? Bugger...
The voice continued. "Daniel Holtz and Riley Finn. You just made my day."
Then there was a fist at Wesley's shirtfront, a flash of Angel's angry face, and he was in the air. For about half a second, there was the sensation of giddy flight, then more pain and a wall of blackness. Wesley closed his eyes, and knew no more.
"This wasn't supposed to happen, you know."
Wesley blinked, and found himself back in the star-specked dreamscape he'd visited that morning. For some reason, he'd forgotten about it the moment he woke up; but here, now, he could remember the earlier dream as clearly as if it had just happened.
"What wasn't supposed to happen?" he asked the avatar, bitterly. "The part where I stole Angel's child? The part where I ran into Ethan? The part where..." He paused. "What's happening to me?"
She laughed lightly, and her borrowed shape flowed from an eerie copy of Faith into a shorter, blonder, more cheerful Slayer. "No one saw Buffy coming. But she wasn't the only domino in the chain, or even the first."
"You didn't answer my question," he said, angrily.
The pseudo-Buffy winked at him mischeivously, then leaned forward to ghost over the path of his throat wound with one small, strong finger. "Trust us. Trust your instincts. And beware."
She faded out then, leaving him all alone on the featureless black plain.
"Beware what?" he sighed, staring up at the unfamiliar constellations.
Some indeterminate amount of time later, Wesley became aware that he was flat on his back on cold concrete. He was vaguely aware that someone had said something important to him, but it disappeared from his mind like mist in a wind, driven out by more mundane considerations. His ribs were aching, his neck was throbbing, and there was a definite sensation of nausea in his stomach.
Gradually, he became aware that there were voices going on somewhere above him. After a moment, he was able to concentrate enough to decipher what they were saying.
"... sure he's going to be okay?" That was Angel, sounding anxious.
"He should be. He's breathing again, and I know I got the alcohol out of his system. It must have been reacting with something else he's taking, or something Ethan did to him." That was Jonathan.
"That's what you were doing? I didn't know there were spells for that."
"What, getting rid of alcohol? Duh. Teenagers invented that one a long, long time ago."
An actual chuckle from Angel. Wesley furrowed his brow. Angel, in a better mood? What...
"Look! He's waking up!" Cool fingers, there, on Wesley's forehead. "Wesley, can you hear me?"
Wesley's eyes fluttered open. "Angel," he said, weakly. "Can explain..."
"Shhh," Angel said, frowning at him. "You're so sorry, right? Well, I am too. Does that sum it up? We can get into the blaming and brooding and never forgiving each other later. For now, we need to get you back to the Hyperion. Where's your keys?"
Wesley fumbled with his pockets. "Luggage in room 12..."
"On it," Jonathan said. He took the keys from Wesley's unsteady hand. "Did you bring your own car?"
Car? Wesley smiled a little. With leather pants? Right. "Try motorcycle."
Jonathan's eyes widened. He looked like a small child in a candy store with a $10 bill burning a hole in his pocket. "That's yours?" He looked over at Angel. "Can I drive it back to wherever for you guys? I promise I won't wreck it. Please?"
"Ask him, not me." Angel shrugged.
"Go ahead," Wesley said, amused by the exchange despite his dark mood. "I'm unable to at the moment, and I'd prefer not to leave it here."
Jonathan's face lit up with a delighted smile. "Yes! I mean, sorry and all, but... hey." Then he shifted, addressing Angel again. "I'll bring all the luggage over, then get the bike and follow you wherever we're going. Where's your car at?"
"About a block that way," the vampire agreed, pointing an arm down the street. "I'll put Wesley in the back seat and wait for you."
Very unusual, this being fussed over by Angel. Especially after losing Connor. It made Wesley feel a little uneasy, but he wasn't exactly in a position to protest. What was he going to say? "Leave me here, I'm not worthy?" It might be true, but it would also be very stupid.
Angel picked Wesley up carefully, draping the younger man over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. "How's that?" he asked. "Anything hurt?"
Well, almost everything hurt and this position was pressing on his sore ribs, but Wesley wasn't about to tell Angel that. Being carried down the street like a girl would probably be worse, from an image standpoint if nothing else. And if he could take the time for that ironic mental commentary, it probably wasn't as bad as it felt. In which case, why was Angel carrying him at all? He wasn't broken, just a little weak.
"I'd prefer to walk," Wesley said.
Angel snorted and made his way easily down the street, as if Wesley were no heavier than a sack of flour, then laid him carefully on the back seat of the convertible. It still smelled faintly of the cleaners Angel had used after Darla's water broke in the car. Wesley tried to say something again, anything, a thank-you maybe, or a rebuke, or a promise to get Connor back, but Angel shushed him once more.
"Rest, Wes. Holtz is around here somewhere-- that's why I was out hunting to begin with. Let's save the talking until we're back in the hotel." Angel slid into the front seat and started drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
A few minutes passed like that in relative silence. Then, footsteps approached. Angel shifted his attention to the sidewalk, and Wesley saw him do an obvious double-take. "Oh," he said. "Jonathan! You're you again, too." A pause. "I do remember you, kind of. Weren't you helping us with the whole Mayor thing?"
Jonathan leaned over the passenger door and put Wesley's suitcases and a duffel on the seat. Angel was right; Wesley remembered seeing this short young man in Sunnydale. Hadn't there been a rifle involved at some point? Hard to remember.
He'd never have guessed then, but now that he knew, he could see the traces of Ethan in the boy's face. The world really was a small place-- at least, if the Hellmouth was involved.
"Yeah." Jonathan was answering Angel's question. "Larry and I were helping out with the bomb stuff..."
"What was that about talking later?" Wesley interrupted quietly, with a faint smile.
Angel snorted, then turned the key in the ignition. "Smart ass."
... Wait a minute, Wesley thought, watching Jonathan walk away towards where the motorcycle was parked. "You're you again, too?" he repeated silently, then sat up carefully and glanced in one of the car mirrors. Sure enough, Wesley was Wesley-shaped again. But hadn't Ethan said it would take a few days for that to happen?
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.