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Chapter Eleven

Fan Fiction: Lesser Men

Chapter Eleven: Where There's Smoke

Jonathan wasn't sure what to think about being labeled "Jonathan Rayne." The whole evil-father thing was still pretty new to him, and the name just sounded strange. Although, it did roll off the tongue easier than Levinson did. And, well, it certainly seemed to have an effect on the Watchers.

So actually, it was pretty smart of Wesley. And pretty impressive, too. It was like watching Buffy's transformation under the stairs the other day. Just a few minutes ago Wesley had been all wilted and depressed, and look at him now, going all Captain Picard on these guys.

Not to mention, letting Jonathan have some fun, too. He knew a couple of fast spells that didn't really have much oomph, but looked pretty cool; when Wesley had introduced his "certain abilities" and "certain attitudes" one of them had come immediately to mind.

It was amazing what you could do with a few simple ingredients. Once, last summer, before the Take Over Sunnydale plan was hatched, he and Warren and Andrew had taken a weekend to go camping. They played all kind of nasty tricks on him in his sleep, so one night he had stayed up late playing with the camping supplies trying to find a way to get them back. The results had mostly been pretty lame, but he'd struck gold in the ashes of the campfire.

He always carried a small baggie of ash, now. The spell only took one small pinch of it, plus a simple Latin phrase: "Ubi fumus, ibi ignis." It meant "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Maybe if he found a way to capture real smoke, the fire would actually burn, but ash was close enough for his purposes.

The ash in his hand ignited first, forming a globe of multicolored tongues of cold fire. Then, with a little concentration, he forced it to spread up his arms and over the rest of his body, forming a cloak of flames from his shoulders to the floor. It wouldn't actually harm anything, but it looked really, really impressive.

The guy that seemed to be the leader had given him a startled look and turned pale. Not as satisfying as Warren and Andrew's first reaction, but good enough. Then he asked Wesley if that was a threat, and how smooth was Wesley? He just continued the conversation, as cool as you please, without even peeking to see what Jonathan had done.

The rest of the conversation had gone fairly well. The younger two Watchers pretty much folded and starting sucking up to Wesley, and the leader-guy went from coolly condescending to bitterly submissive.

Then everything went strange, when Wesley took the box. It opened in immediately in his hand, astonishing everybody (including himself, it seemed). Then he reached in and plucked out one small thing: a pebble. Jonathan's first thought was that it must be a magic stone, or an uncut gem or something, but it looked just like an ordinary little pebble. As soon as Wesley picked it up, the little box vanished with a faint chime and a flash of light.

Nobody moved for at least a minute, watching Wesley watch the pebble in his hand. Finally, the lead Watcher ran out of patience and broke the silence.

"Well?" he growled at Wesley. "What is that? What does it have to do with anything? And who's this Connor?"

Wesley ignored him.

The man tried again, growing angrier. "I asked around after the box showed up. I was told that your vampire friend Angel had a son recently, which you didn't tell us about, despite the prophecies that a miracle child would bring an end to human existence. Is Connor the child's name? I demand an answer on this subject, Wesley. You had no right to keep this from the Council."

Wesley looked up, at last. Something else had clicked behind those eyes, Jonathan thought. The Captain Picard-ness had gone, and he looked more Gil Grissom-ish, now: calm, collected, and well aware that he was in possession of more facts than anyone else in the room.

"Go, Travers. Come back at midday tomorrow. Rupert will be here by then."

Oh. This was Travers? The one Wesley had told Angel not to kill? Angel had mumbled something about a prophecy before, the one Wesley had gone haywire over, that 'The Father Will Kill The Son'. Surely that didn't mean...? Connor was a baby, right?

It was much easier to decipher Travers' thought process. He practically vibrated with outrage. "We're not going anywhere. I demand..."

"You demand nothing." Wesley didn't speak loudly, but the words seemed weightier than anything else in the room. "Come back tomorrow."

"Oh, sod this." Travers stormed past them out of the room, closely followed by his two nervous associates. They were all very careful not to get too close to Jonathan as they left.

Once he was certain the Watchers had left the hotel, Jonathan extinguished his fake fire armor and shook the ashes into the wastebasket. Then he stepped up next to his new friend, looking at the little stone still in Wesley's palm. "Wesley? What's up with the pebble?"

Wesley shook his head. "Jonathan? Was I... dead?"

"What?"... Oh. "Not for long. The wind got knocked out of you, I guess, and with all the crap in you, and the shock, you just stopped. I did CPR."

Wesley just nodded, looking faintly dazed.

"Wesley, what does that...?" Jonathan blinked as a suspicion began forming. No. Couldn't be. But the pieces were all there. There was a prophecy about Angel killing his kid. Wesley had told Angel not to kill an adult. And lo and behold, someone had died, even if it was temporary.

"Don't tell me," Jonathan said, excited. "There's time travel involved in all this? Cool!"

Apparently, that was too much for Wesley. He gave Jonathan a startled look, then started laughing. "Jonathan, it is refreshing to have met you. Mind helping me upstairs? I'm not sure I can keep standing much longer."

Jonathan was willing enough to help Wesley upstairs, but as it turned out, he didn't need to. As soon as the occupants of the courtyard realized that the Watchers were all gone, they flocked back towards the office.

Fortunately, they didn't all gather in the office, where there wasn't really room. They gathered loosely in the lobby and sent the tall black guy (who seemed to be named Gunn) and Angel in to fetch Wesley. Instead of carrying him upstairs, though, they settled him into a chair, and Cordelia appeared with bandages, a damp cloth, a tube of ointment, and a small pill.

"Cordelia..." Wesley began to protest, weakly, when he saw it.

"Take it," she ordered him. "It's left over from my Migraine Girl days. You're looking pretty grey there, and I don't want you passing out when I take a look at your stitches. We want you awake for questioning afterwards." Teasing, but with steel underneath.

Fred appeared with a glass of water, and Wesley gave up and swallowed the pill with a sigh. Cordelia smiled a little, handed the glass back to Fred, and started unwrapping the soiled bandage around Wesley's neck.

About half-way through this process, her eyes met Jonathan's, and she paused. "Jonathan? From Sunnydale, Jonathan?" she exclaimed, finally recognizing him.

Jonathan nodded. "Small world, huh?" He mentally crossed his fingers, hoping she hadn't heard of his recent try at being one of Buffy's nemesis-es. Angel and Wesley hadn't, after all.

No such luck. Cordelia's eyes narrowed. "Willow says you ganged up with Warren and Tucker Wells' little brother and started making a nuisance of yourselves. What are you doing here?"

"Originally? Running away from Warren. Today? Mostly, getting dragged into a bunch of Wesley's business. Can I beg a room from you guys tonight?" He blinked at her, trying for the wide-eyed, poor-me, I-have-seen-the-error-of-my-ways expression.

Cordelia's face was still set in disapproving lines, but Wesley took the opportunity to speak up. "Leave him be. I wouldn't be here without his assistance."

The was a sound of shifting feet in the background-- Angel, presumably, who knew some of what Wesley meant, and was personally responsible for it.

How did debts like theirs balance out, Jonathan wondered? Wesley kidnaps Angel's son and gets his throat slit and the baby taken from him. Angel temporarily causes Wesley's death, by accident. Wesley turns out to be said kidnapped son... although he didn't seem too certain of that yet. The whole thing was just too bizarre. By comparison, his long-lost-father situation looked entirely normal.

Cordelia shook her head. "Whatever." She turned back to the bandaging again, but she kept darting wary glances at Jonathan out of the corner of her eye.

More shuffling of feet. A soft whisper, presumably Fred, then Gunn's voice, louder. "You guys eaten dinner yet? We're making a taco run."

Jonathan hadn't even thought about food all day. There had been too much going on. But now... his stomach rumbled loudly, reminding him. "I didn't eat today at all," he answered, then glanced over at Wesley's pale profile. "I doubt Wesley did, either."

"Okay." Gunn studied him a moment, then nodded. "We'll bring some back. Just don't start talking without us."

They left. Personally, Jonathan thought these people were all showing an amazing amount of patience. Didn't they want to know what had happened with the Watchers, and where Wesley had been? Or had someone actually noticed the state Wesley was in, and decided that fixing him up was more important than the questions?

Didn't really matter. It was all very interesting to watch. Besides, the more Jonathan learned about this group, the better. If he wasn't going back to Sunnydale anytime soon, maybe he could make himself useful to these people.

Wesley had treated him with a fair amount of respect, so far, which was more than he'd ever really gotten from Buffy's crew. The Scoobies had never been intentionally mean, and sometimes helped him, but they'd never gone out of their way to be friends. Mostly, that was why Jonathan had ended up with Warren and Andrew... looking for respect and friendship, with cool toys thrown in. Maybe he could have that here.

It didn't take long for Cordelia to finish cleaning Wesley up, or for Gunn and Fred to return, thankfully. There were a few long moments filled only with the sound of crunching tacos, and then the expected circle of inquiry formed around Wesley at last.

Unfortunately, by that time Wesley had drifted off into oblivion, asleep in his chair with a half-eaten taco still clutched in one hand and a little piece of lettuce stuck to his chin. He looked a lot younger like that, and more vulnerable.

"Better let him sleep," Jonathan said, before anyone could get the bright idea to wake Wesley up and ask him questions. "The Watchers were pretty clueless, anyway, and there wasn't anything in the box except a little piece of rock. He told them to come back tomorrow when Mr. Giles gets here, so you'll hear it all then anyway."

"Giles is coming?" That perked Cordelia up. "Giles is good at fixing things."

"Giles agreed to let Wesley take Connor to England," Angel reminded her, not as pleased. "But Jonathan's right. We're not going to get anything else out of Wesley tonight. Gunn? We can put him in my bedroom."


Angel paused as they lifted Wesley from his chair, and gave Jonathan a sudden, dark look. "There's a spare room on the third floor. Lorne will show you. We'll have more questions for you tomorrow, too."

"Sure, man. Whatever." Not a pleasant thought. Jonathan hadn't mentioned the whole Ethan Rayne thing yet, and it was sure to come out when the questions started flying. Not to mention the details of what he'd been doing in Sunnydale.

Wesley hadn't seemed to care. Would the others? No telling. Still, if he was going to stay on the good side of the line, better to face the music now than wait.

"Good choice, kid."

Jonathan looked at the green guy in surprise. "What?"

Lorne just shook his head. "We'll talk tomorrow. Come on. I'll show you to your room."


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