Fred walked into the Hyperion and realized that she didn't really want to be here right now. But where could she go to anyway? She looked around the huge lobby sadly. It used to be the center of activity for AI, and now it was just painfully empty.
"Hey, you're back," she heard Gunn say.
She turned to see him sitting on the table Wesley used to sit when he did his research. Not only that -- he was doing what Wesley used to do; leafing through old, worn books.
She lifted an eyebrow. "What are you doing?" she asked, puzzled.
"What do you think I'm doing? Trying to figure out what's up with those green horny things we fought two days ago."
"Oh, you mean the two green horny things we ran from two days ago?" Fred reminded him, taking a seat beside him. She took a look at the book he was reading and realized that it was in one of the many languages that no one but Wesley could read.
"Hmm ... what do you think that is? Ancient Sumerian or Babylonian?" she wondered out loud.
Gunn sighed and closed the book with a thud. It released a cloud of dust. Fred sneezed.
"You okay, baby?"
"Yeah," she lied. She still felt depressed. Gunn wasn't buying it though -- he saw her drooping shoulders and her teary eyes as big indications that Fred Was Upset.
"Okay. What's wrong?" Gunn said in a tone that meant business. Fred gave him a weak smile and gestured to the book.
"We're lousy at this, you know."
Gunn sighed heavily. They'd had these conversations before, and it never ended well. It always ended with Fred bringing up that man's name.
"Now, don't start with me-" Gunn started to stand up.
"Hey. At least let me finish!" Fred snapped.
Surprised at her sudden burst of temper, Gunn sat down.
"I'm sorry. But I don't want to have anything to do with him anymore and you know that," Gunn said as gently as he could.
"Yes, and I also know that we're useless at reading extinct languages and pinpointing demon species!"
"So, what are you saying? We need to call Wesley? Ask him - hey man, we know you betrayed us and all, but we need you to translate this for us?"
Fred couldn't answer him.
"Because, I used to think that Wesley wasn't the type to kidnap the boss' son and hand him to Holtz-"
"He didn't do that," Fred said.
"Yeah? But why didn't he tell us, huh? Why didn't he say something? He betrayed us, Fred! We can't trust anyone like that!"
"Newsflash, Gunn. Didn't Angel betray you guys once?"
Gunn looked away. "That was different. It wasn't about betrayal. He was just ... protecting us, that's all."
"Well, so was Wesley. He was trying to protect Connor," Fred found herself trying to convince herself as well.
"Are you defending him?" Gunn asked in disbelief.
There was something in his tone that made Fred uncomfortable. It took her a moment to realize that he was jealous. Why in the world for?
"Wesley's gone," she said, deciding to get to the point.
"What?" Gunn looked shocked, though he tried his best to hide it.
"His apartment is empty. He's gone."
"You visited him?" Now he really sounded jealous.
Fred lifted her head, determined to ignore his jealousy. "Maybe he went back to England," she continued bravely.
Gunn snorted and left his chair. He put his hands on his hips and looked out the exit, imagining Wesley packing up his stuff and flying back to England. Strangely, it left him feeling pained.
"Yeah? Well, he did something right for once," he muttered hollowly.
The sudden bang behind him startled him and he turned back to see the table overturned, the books on the floor. He looked at Fred in shock -- she was livid and tears were trailing down her cheeks.
"I'm sick of this, Charles! I don't know what I feel about Wesley. I don't know why I'm defending him. I don't even know if I can forgive him for what he did! All I know is that the family I was so happy with for the past year is gone! Lorne and Groo left, Angel is missing, Connor and Cordy too and now Wesley!"
She covered her face with her hands and begin to cry.
Pained, Gunn went to her and hugged her, at a loss of what to say. She buried her face into his jacket.
"What's happening to us, Gunn? What can we do without them?" she moaned, her voice muffled.
"I don't know. But you have me, Fred. You have me."
She tightened her grip around him.
Noon. The sun was harsh and stark on the deserted lanes of Furton street, but it never seem to penetrate the cold dampness of Baylor House.
The main doors to Baylor House groaned loudly as it opened and Wesley found himself in a large space -- perhaps around 3,000 sq feet or so. Windows lined the sides of the warehouse, making the hall look longer than it seemed. Most of the windows had been boarded up. Streams of sunlight came from somewhere above. When Wesley looked up, he noticed a skylight. That too was covered -- but not very well. A tarp was hastily hammered around it. It looked as if it was going to come off any second.
He noticed a spiral staircase at the far left side, leading to the second storey - which wasn't really a floor at all but a walkway around the warehouse.
*More than enough space for my bed,* Wesley mused. *Bookshelves there-* his gaze shifted to the bay windows beside the spiral staircase. And then at the long hall before him:
"And a great place to practice archery," he said out loud. His voice bounced eerily around the empty warehouse.
Only, he knew very well that Baylor House was not empty. Great efforts had been made to make the place habitable to sun shy creatures of the night during the day, so they are in here alright.
*Probably watching and stalking me, thinking I'm a good meal.*
They were right of course. Only an idiot would venture into a vampire's lair alone.
He was more than an idiot. He was an insane idiot.
"Come out, come out wherever you are," he sang. He walked to the first window and yanked out the boards covering it. It was surprisingly easy to do. He looked on with amazement at the wooden plank in his hand.
*New strength. New all over.* He smiled. He threw the board aside.
The second window. He ran his gloved fist through the boards. It splintered apart like cheese sticks. He felt a surge of exhilaration tinged with fear of what he had become, and realized, perversely, that he liked it. It made him feel good. And he hadn't felt this good in a long time.
Third window -- he ripped out the boards and threw it against the wall. They broke into pieces.
Sunlight streamed into the darkened hall. He turned to see the still empty hall.
*They're taking their time. I hate procrastinators. They're so tardy.*
With that, he ran his fist into the fourth boarded window.
"What's he doing?" Arnold cried out, alarmed.
"Ripping the place apart!" Gordon said, sharing Arnold's alarm. He wasn't used to prey that ripped things apart. He wasn't used to prey that had super strength either. The man took out the tightly nailed boards from the windows like they were made of papier mâché.
A thought occurred to him. "Say ... er, April. What if he's a Slayer?"
April appeared beside him, peeking at the activity going on behind the wall. Her face was vamped out, and she was ready for action. Unlike many of them, April wasn't recently turned. She was at least a hundred years old, but you wouldn't know that by looking at her. When she had her human face on, she was what Arnold called 'Baby Spice with fangs'. She had long blonde hair, baby blue eyes and a rosebud mouth. When she smiled at her victims, they thought she was there to comfort them.
"Don't be stupid," she said in her lilting voice. "Slayers are women. Unless our visitor had a sex change operation. Which, if it's the case..." she smiled to herself. "...is a very good one."
"Are you saying he's cute? At a time like this?" Arnold snorted.
"I'm saying that he?s something else. Prepare the rest. We're going to meet our friend soon."
"Outside?" Gordon said, alarmed at the thought of being singed by the sun.
"No, we wait for him here, like we always do. Strength in numbers and in darkness, my dear," she laughed and bounded away into the depths of the basement.
After removing the final board from the last window, Wesley had had enough. If the noise didn't alert the vampires to his presence and had them charging out, it meant that they were waiting for him elsewhere. And that elsewhere is the basement.
"How inconvenient," he muttered, stepping reluctantly to the entrance of the basement. It was tucked beneath the stairs, and he gazed at the narrow door with a sigh. With a quick motion, he kicked the door open.
The door broke from its hinges and fell to the floor.
Narrow stairs ran to the impenetrable darkness below.
He hated this. The basement is probably full of vermin (besides the vampiric kind) and cockroaches. He fumbled for his torchlight and shone it into the darkness. Nothing, just more stairs.
"Who built this place anyway?" he muttered as he descended the stairs.
The stairs creaked eerily as he walked down. Eventually, his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he could make out the faint online of objects in the basement. Like the hall above, the basement was huge. It could house a LOT of vampires.
When his feet finally landed on solid ground at the bottom of the stairs, he heard a chuckle beside him.
He whirled, and the light shone on a vampire -- a man who probably died in his early twenties -- and probably in the 80s, judging from the Duran Duran tee shirt he wore.
"I see you have great taste in music," he mocked.
The vampire snarled and leapt at him.
Adrenaline kicked in then. Wesley reached for the stake in his coat pocket and drove it into the vamp's chest as he was almost on top of him. The vamp exploded into a shower of dust.
At that, he heard more noises -- hisses and snarls behind him. He whirled around again, and his torchlight shone on the most angelic looking woman he had seen. She was dressed in a white, gauzy dress and her blonde hair was tied in two braids. She smiled at him sweetly.
"You don't happen to be fans of Duran Duran too, are you? Because I'm sorry if I insulted your taste," he said with a grin.
The woman smiled. She had been a teenager when she was killed, Wesley realized. What was she like before she was turned? He wondered.
"So you're the new tenant of Baylor House. It is good to have someone from England again. These Yanks have no taste, as you might have seen," said the girl. Judging from the accent, she was probably Irish.
"Well, I wouldn't hold out against them. They are a young nation," he answered absently. As she spoke, more figures shifted around her. They grew to an alarming number and Wesley realized that he was not dealing with a handful of vampires here but a possible army.
"And I see you have company. Lots of it," he mused.
"Well, it can get quite lonely down here. A lady needs company. And food," the innocent face disappeared as the vampire revealed her true face.
"You know," he said as he backed up the stairs. "I don't think there's enough of me to go around. Perhaps you should get used to the fact that I'm here to destroy you," he said, curiously unmoved by his impending death.
"Get him!" she snarled.
The shadowy figures behind her turned into a tide, and Wesley saw yellow eyes and fangs as they descended on him.
He unslung his crossbow and muttered, "Well, this is fun."
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