TITLE: Assistance Required
AUTHOR: Katta (email@example.com)
SEQUEL/SERIES: Ninth in my Birthdayverse series. The others can be found at
http://www.geocities.com/katta_hj/fanfic/Angel - as can a html version of
DISCLAIMER: The main characters of this story come from the TV series
"Angel". They belong to their creaotrs, not to me. The events are in part
taken from the episodes "Birthday" and "Sanctuary".
ARCHIVE: Yes to everyone who has the previous parts. If not, ask first.
RATING: R for a sexual situation.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Sorry this took so long... I hope the next part won't, but
you never know.
SUMMARY: Buffy comes over to deal with the Faith situation. Gunn has no idea
how to deal with the Wesley situation.
"Do you have anyone to look after you?" the doctor asked. She was an elderly
woman who reminded Wesley in an uncomfortable way of his mother, but her
accent and general chattiness reduced the effect a little. The photographer
and the policemen had left, and now she was free to bandage all the places
she had stitched up before.
"I'm fully capable of looking after myself," Wesley said stiffly. A rising
suspicion that she might be onto something only added to his stiffness.
"Mmm." The doctor sounded as doubtful as he felt. "You'll have a hell of a
time washing yourself if you don't have anyone to help out with the
bandages. And that's even assuming that you have everything else figured
Wesley looked down on his bandaged chest and arm. He had no idea how many
stitches she had put in, but there were more than enough of them. His shirt
was lying next to him on the bunk, and he reached out for it, making a deal
with himself that if he couldn't manage to put it on, he'd agree to having
The splinted finger and the sore shoulder *were* troublesome, but not as bad
as he had feared. Doing up the buttons took more concentration than he was
used to, but he still had enough left to listen to what the doctor had to
"You could ask those two outside. Considering how patiently they've waited
for you, I'd say they're no strangers to doing you a favour."
He wondered how it could have escaped her attention that the girl Alonna had
stabbed was still in surgery. If he'd been the one in danger of being
arrested for manslaughter, he'd wait around the hospital too. Then it struck
him that she had said "two". Alonna must have called Gunn. And he was
willing to believe that Gunn would be waiting for news about him as well as
about Faith, even if Alonna wouldn't be.
But there was no way he'd ever ask Gunn to look after him for a couple of
weeks. He'd been pitied enough to last a lifetime, and although Gunn still
had an unfortunate tendency in that direction, he wasn't about to add any
fuel to the fire. It was a love affair he wanted, not protection.
"I'll get by," he said, doing up the last button.
"It might be a support for you emotionally as well," the doctor pointed out.
"There's nothing wrong with my emotions, thank you."
Her voice softened, which brought chills up his spine. "We do have a trauma
support group, if you'd prefer that. And a wonderful team of counsellors..."
"I don't need counselling." He jumped off the trolley bed and gave her a
forced smile. "Thank you."
"All right, I can't make you. But I do think you should have someone over.
You don't want those wounds to get infected, do you?"
The memory of rotting flesh gave him pause, and at last he nodded. "I'll
He thought about that, and Angel's name came to mind. The vampire might be
half mad, but he could wrap a few bandages. It might even be good for him to
help out and leave that apartment for a while.
"A friend named Angel."
He stepped out of the examination room as he said the words, and doing so he
saw a leather-clad back down the corridor. As the man it belonged to turned
around, Wesley recognized his former colleague Weatherby, who gave him a
stare that indicated he had heard every word. Now Wesley knew what Alonna
must have felt when she found herself having accidentally confessed
attempted murder to a telephone operator. All he could hope was that
Weatherby didn't remember Angel and judging from his expression, that was
Gunn and Alonna rose from their seats by the wall, but he shook his head
slightly at them. Before he had spoken to Weatherby, he didn't consider
himself done here.
The greeting summed up their relationship pretty well, he thought wryly. In
theory, the only reason he had gone by his first name among his Watcher
colleagues was to distinguish him from his father, but in practice it also
served to show him his place at the bottom of the hierarchy. Junior member,
no special skills, was to shut up when better people were speaking.
This time, however, he had one advantage: Weatherby's face held a familiar
touch of discomfort. He'd never been very good at socializing, Wesley
remembered, and not knowing where to look could spoil a conversation even
for the most self-assured of people.
"I assume you are here for Faith?" he asked, knowing very well that it was
so. The Council might have given up hope about Faith a long time ago, but
they'd never cease to be her Watchers as long as she was still alive.
Wesley suddenly wondered how long that would be.
"Yes we are."
The plural caught Wesley's attention, and looking over Weatherby's shoulder
he could see two men he recognized as Watchers Smith and Collins, standing
some distance away. Collins was staring intently at him while Smith was
clearly more of a glancer, looking and looking away. Neither one of them
seemed about to come up and say hello. Well, good. One Watcher at a time was
really all he felt he could handle right now.
"What do you plan on doing with her?" he asked. There was nothing he could
think of that would contain a Slayer against her will, unless they tried
killing her or using magic darker than he thought they could access. Right
now part of him wanted them to kill her, so he could have this over with and
never have to think of her again.
But the one very good reason why that mustn't happen was right in this
corridor, and although he couldn't see her from where he was standing he was
well aware of her presence.
"I can't tell you that," Weatherby said. "It's classified information
you're not a Watcher." He sounded vaguely apologetic saying the last part,
which gave Wesley some hope that he might be convinced to reveal something.
"I dare say I'm more affected by this than you are."
Weatherby averted his gaze, and Wesley had to hold back a grin. The victory
might be small, but it was definite, and many such small victories might get
him the information he wanted.
"It wasn't Faith who...?"
The answer to that question should have been obvious, but then anatomy had
never been Weatherby's strong suit.
"If it had been, I'd hardly be standing up right now."
There was an uncomfortable silence, and Wesley let it last longer than
strictly necessary before he asked, "So, what *are* the plans?"
Weatherby gave a deep sigh. "I can't tell any details, but we'll bring her
back to England for rehabilitation."
"Rehabilitation," Wesley said flatly. He wasn't sure if Weatherby was lying
or not. Considering what he knew of Watcher procedures when Slayers weren't
satisfactory, it sounded like a lie, but the circumstances in this case were
quite unusual. Perhaps rehabilitation whatever meaning people like
Weatherby could put into that word actually struck the Council as the
least bothersome option.
And the way Weatherby looked him straight into the eye told him with
absolute certainty that it was a lie. He couldn't bring himself to care, but
he did look across his shoulder at Alonna. "See that girl over there?"
Weatherby looked in the direction Wesley indicated and asked, "What, the
There was a hint of appreciation in his voice that surprised Wesley. He'd
seen Alonna as a lot of things, mostly a rival or reluctant ally, but until
now, he'd never seen her as a *girl* to find attractive or unattractive.
"That's the one," he said when his surprise had faded. "If it wasn't for her
you'd currently be chasing Faith halfway across the country. She also saved
my life, which means a lot to me if not to you. So whatever happens, I want
her kept out of trouble."
"Who's the guy?"
"That's her brother." Of all the ways to introduce Gunn... "He's to be kept
out of trouble too."
Weatherby gave the two of them a long glance and then shrugged. "I'll try."
"No, you will not try." Wesley's voice was cold. He knew Weatherby had the
authority to handle this any way he wanted, and he wasn't about to let
himself be bullied. "They will be kept safe. That's the only way I'll
guarantee my cooperation."
"What makes you think we'll *need* your cooperation?"
"Oh, I dare say you won't, if all goes well." He was still looking at Gunn
and Alonna and could see how they tensed up as they became aware that they
were being watched. "But those two belong to a group of vampire hunters.
Fantastic allies, really the sort of people you want around. Incredibly
loyal, too. If they somehow got under the mistaken impression that you were
responsible for their friends getting into trouble..."
"Are you threatening me?"
"Of course not." And in any case it seemed to be working, so that was all
right. "You asked what sort of situation might arise that would make my
cooperation needed, and I answered. That's all."
Weatherby looked about to choke on his own indignation, but he nodded. "I'll
keep them safe."
With that, he strutted off, and Wesley grinned at Gunn and Alonna to
indicate that they could come over.
"Could you give me a ride home?" he asked when they did. He was still
smiling. At any other time, he would have put talking to Weatherby on the
very bottom of his to do list, but right now, it had been just what he
Wesley was waked by a large hand shaking his arm. The touch pulled at his
stitches, and he rolled over on his side. Big mistake. He moaned out loud as
he was reminded of his cuts and bruises.
The hand instantly disappeared. "I'm sorry."
"Not your fault, Angel," Wesley mumbled. Angel sometimes needed to be
reminded of that fact, since many of the things he saw these days *were* his
He sat up and tried rubbing his eyes clear. Gah. Nothing quite like gauze in
his eyes to make a morning perfect.
Angel was now standing by the foot of his bed. "She's in the kitchen."
All Wesley's residual sleepiness disappeared. "Faith?" But if Faith were in
the kitchen, even Angel would think of better things to do than wait for
Wesley to get out of bed. And in any case, Faith was at the hospital. So far
Weatherby and his goons had neither killed her nor taken her away, and
*nobody* walked out of the hospital this soon after having her lung
punctured. Not even a Slayer.
Angel looked even gloomier than usual. "Buffy."
"Buffy's in the kitchen?" Well, it was better than Faith, although why Angel
thought his presence was needed was beyond him. "Does she wish to speak to
"I don't think so. I just... I think she's real, but I can't tell for sure.
"I'll go have a look," Wesley said. He wasn't very keen on the idea of
getting out of bed, but he owed Angel that much. Because the vampire wanted
it so much, Wesley hoped that Buffy was indeed real, even though it would be
much easier for him personally if she wasn't.
The bathrobe only covered part of his injuries, and knowing how
unintentionally merciless Buffy could be, he raised his chin a little before
entering the kitchen.
Even prepared, it was a bit of a shock to see the Slayer sitting in his
kitchen. He was proud that his voice revealed no emotion when he said,
She hurried to rise from her seat. "Wesley."
Considering the disaster that had been his time as her Watcher, it was a
remarkably civil greeting. No little quips or eye-rolling. Yet the way she
pursed her lips and he knew it wasn't aimed at him, she'd always used to
do that was enough to make him want to go back to bed again. The last
thing he needed was more moody Slayers.
Angel's voice was weak and barely noticeable, but the rest of him wasn't as
he pushed past Wesley and caught Buffy in a bear hug. She squirmed a bit in
his arms and her lips pursed further, but she didn't pull loose.
"So," Wesley said, "if that's settled perhaps I should leave you alone."
"No, don't," Buffy said, and Angel must have been as surprised as Wesley
was, because he frowned at his ex and let his arms fall down.
"I'm sorry," he said, sounding very old and tired all of a sudden. "I
forgot. You're not here to..."
"I have someone, remember?" she said, but she let her hand touch his cheek
The admission surprised Wesley, although he wasn't sure why it should. It
was only natural that Buffy would get a new boyfriend, for her to move on
with her life, try to attain some form of normality.
Angel didn't seem surprised, and he handled himself with remarkable dignity.
He just nodded briefly and sat down at the table. "So this is about Faith?"
"Yeah," she said, sitting down as well. "I know she's at the hospital, but
nobody there will tell me anything. Least of all the so-called FBI agents
watching her door." For the first time since she'd asked him to stay, she
was looking straight at Wesley. "Strangely familiar, *British* FBI agents."
It annoyed him to no end. He wasn't a Watcher anymore, and he wasn't willing
to play scapegoat for whatever gripe she had with the Council. "If they
wouldn't tell you anything at the hospital, how did you find us?"
Angel nodded upon hearing this and told Wesley, "I gave him the new address
when we were there collecting my things."
That meant Wesley had to hurry up with the false address spell he had
bought. Even if the people at Wolfram and Hart thought they had frightened
him off, they'd hardly object to catching two birds with one stone.
But most of his displeasure was because Buffy had found her way there, and
it was really quite unreasonable. As a Slayer, she had every right to be
concerned about the Faith situation, and this was without a doubt a good
place for it. He sat down, sighing.
"Weatherby told me they're taking her to England... for rehabilitation."
"Rehabilitation!?" Buffy made an incredulous grimace. "I wouldn't trust them
to rehabilitate a *hamster*, much less a Slayer."
"I don't think they will," Wesley said simply.
"Of course they won't! They'll just lose her halfways and...." She frowned.
"Or do you mean you think they lied to you?"
"I know they lied to me. I just don't know how much."
"They're killing her." Angel's voice was low, and it was a statement, not a
"They might," Wesley admitted. "But there's Buffy to consider."
Buffy gave him a sharp glance. "What do you mean?"
"I mean it's not a normal situation to have two Slayers. Common procedures
"And common procedures would be to kill her, is that it?"
"Yes." Her shocked expression told him just how much he'd been affected by
his upbringing to him it seemed obvious and something she should have
figured out on her own if she had given it a moment's thought. "A Slayer
needs to be able to perform her duties at all times, after all."
"What? No sick leave?"
She was mocking him, but these were serious matters, and he answered as if
it had been a serious question.
"Considering Slayer healing, it'd take considerably longer to train someone
new, so yes. I suppose a certain sick leave is accounted for."
Her face was pale with rage. "So, basically, what you're saying is that if I
got cancer or was maimed..."
She silenced and got some colour back in her face as she realised what she'd
said. Suddenly Wesley saw some of what Angel might love in that girl. It had
taken her this long to start guarding her words, and that showed a certain
self-absorbed innocence that was quite endearing. For a Slayer, it was a
rare character trait, and he briefly wondered what she might have been like
before her calling, before that innocence was partly destroyed.
"Then they would have had you killed, yes. So perhaps it is fortunate that
technically, you have already died."
"How can you just sit there and..." She interrupted herself, turning to
Angel. "And you! Don't you have anything to say? Did you know about this?"
"I didn't know." Angel's eyes were very sad. "But it makes sense."
"*Nothing* about this makes sense."
"It does. Slayers have to slay. Watchers have to watch them..."
"Giles said something similar once," Buffy sighed.
"...vampires have to kill and maim and drink of blood..."
"That doesn't follow from the previous sentence," Buffy said lightly, but
there was pain in her face as she took Angel's hand in hers. "If we just go
by the name, vampires might as well help and save..." She stroked his hand
softly. "Give me a fair fight and I'll take her down, but there's nothing
fair about this. I'm not going to let them kill her. And they're not fit to
handle her either."
"So what's your suggestion?" Wesley asked. He felt like grabbing Buffy by
the shoulders and shaking her, but that sadly wasn't an option. After the
frail understanding he'd come to with his former colleague, the last thing
he wanted was an impulsive, undisciplined Slayer charging in. Would she even
care who got caught in the middle? "Just run inside and snatch her away?"
"I bet I could pull it off," she said, raising her chin.
Oh, God, the foolish girl really meant it. "This isn't Sunnydale. Crimes are
actually investigated here." Or rather, they were if Wolfram and Hart didn't
get involved and if they did in this case, it would be on the wrong side.
"Well, they're not gonna catch me. And I wouldn't ask *you* to go there, if
you're too wimpy to even help..."
He interrupted her: "Did it ever occur to you that other people are involved
"The girl is still crying," Angel said.
At first Wesley wondered if Angel was referring to Alonna or Faith, but then
he realised that the vampire's comment most likely didn't have any relevance
to the situation. But it gave him pause, and clearly Buffy as well.
"Okay," she said finally. "Who's involved?"
"The girl who stabbed her, for one." Odd that Buffy hadn't figured that out.
Did she even realise that Faith had been stabbed twice, or did she think
that the other Slayer's current hospitalisation was some sort of relapse
from her earlier injury. "The police know she did it." He saw no need to
mention that she had accidentally confessed to the 911 telephone operator.
"So far they're writing it off as self-defence, but if anything happens,
she'll be the primary suspect. I'm not willing to risk that."
"*Was* it self-defence?"
"In a manner of speaking. She saved my life." It wasn't a subject he liked
to dwell on. "She's part of a gang of vampire hunting street kids. They
don't need the kind of exposure this could bring them."
Angel gave him a pensive glance that caused his face to heat. The vampire
might be confused and half-crazed, but he was evidently still listening to
the conversation and understanding a whole lot more than Wesley would have
"Vampire hunters, huh?" Buffy said. "Well, maybe it'd help if we took Faith
from the Watchers when they're already on their way." She grimaced. "Let's
just hope Faith will be ill enough not to put up a fight and escape."
"The Watchers' poison takes her power away," said Angel.
Buffy stared at him, and an incredulous smile spread over her face. "The
stuff Giles used on me?"
"Good Lord, yes!" said Wesley once he understood what they meant.
"Will they use it?" Buffy asked, turning to him.
He shrugged. "How should I know? But perhaps Giles..."
"I'll call him right away."
She rose from her seat, but halted a moment before reaching the door. Her
eyes sought out Angel's.
"We'll talk more later, okay?" she said, face and voice both very soft.
Seeing her like this, it was hard to imagine her the forceful fighter he
knew her to be. It occurred to him that he'd only ever seen her from her
worst sides before.
Gunn glanced from the black shoes on the floor to Wesley's face, seeking an
"Those are Angel's. He's staying here for a while."
Gunn frowned at that. He didn't like the thought of Wesley's apartment being
occupied by anyone else, and especially not that vampire. "Why?"
A slight blush tinged Wesley's face. "To help out."
Gunn looked down for a moment. He still didn't know exactly what that girl
had done to Wesley, and much less why. Alonna wouldn't tell him a damn
thing, and that alone told him that it had to be pretty bad. It confused and
sickened him. He couldn't think of anything about Wesley *Wesley*, for
fuck's sake that might make some girl want to beat him up.
It hurt to see those bruises and bandages, to know that he hadn't been able
to do a damn thing to prevent Wesley from being injured. But it hurt more to
know that now that he could help, Wesley wouldn't let him.
"I could have done that," he said, looking up again.
"I know." Wesley's face was impossible to read. "But I wanted Angel to do
Gunn nearly lost his breath at this bold admission. Fuck, what was he
supposed to say to that? "Maybe I should just leave, then?"
He grabbed his jacket and as he did so noticed for the first time the tan
suede jacket hanging next to it. That definitely wasn't the vampire's,
unless he liked to wear women's clothes half his size. "Who else is here?"
"What? There's no one else... ah. That's Buffy's. She must have forgotten it
"Buffy? Who's Buffy, a hooker?"
"Of course not. She's the Slayer." Wesley didn't seem as perturbed by the
idea that he could be entertaining hookers as Gunn would have expected. That
was part of the reason he'd done it, to embarrass Wesley and make him forget
about all the other stuff.
That and the fact that "Buffy" really did sound like a hooker or in any
case, didn't sound like anything potentially harmful, which "Slayer" without
a doubt did.
"What's a Slayer?"
Wesley didn't answer at first, and there was a moment when Gunn thought he'd
refuse to answer, but finally he said, "A vampire slayer. There's a girl
chosen in every generation..." He waved away the rest of the explanation.
Gunn stared at the jacket. No way was it more than a size six. "She's here
to kill the vamp?"
For some reason, that caused Wesley's mouth to twist. The idea of a girl
that size killing any vampire at all was dumb, of course, but Gunn had a
feeling that wasn't what that half-smile was all about.
"Not at all. She's here because of Faith."
Gunn blinked whose faith? but then he remembered. That was her name.
"The girl who..."
"Yeah." Wesley reached out for the jacket and then let his hand fall down,
instead retreating further into the apartment. "Do you want to... stay...
for a while?" he asked awkwardly.
The polite phrase revealed no emotions, but Gunn knew better than to think
there was nothing more to it. And for once his nervousness at what Wes
probably meant was overshadowed by irritated confusion: why the *fuck* would
Wes want to be suggesting things when it wasn't five minutes since he said
he'd rather have an undead creature in the house than him?
"Yeah," he said, because it was all he *could* say.
It was a weird feeling, to go into Wesley's bedroom and know that whatever
happened in there, it was likely to be something he hadn't tried before. The
whole vampire in the kitchen situation didn't exactly calm him down either.
It had been years since he was last this nervous in someone's bedroom, and
even then he'd always known that nothing could happen unless he wanted it
to. Not that he didn't trust Wes or actually thought Wes was strong enough
to overpower him, but just having to come to that conclusion was much too
"Come on in," Wesley said. "And do sit down, you're making me nervous."
"Glad to hear I'm not the only one," Gunn muttered.
But he sat down, only to scoot closer to Wes and kiss him. If he made sure
to initiate every move, he couldn't ever be taken by surprise.
Wesley moaned. And it wasn't an "oh, yes, that's amazing!" moan. It was an
"ow, that hurts" moan. Gunn immediately pulled away.
"I'm just bruised, that's all."
That wasn't all, judging from what he could see of Wesley's injuries, and
beyond that, what he had seen in his sister's face when he tried to pry
information from her.
"Maybe we shouldn't..."
Wesley rolled his eyes. "Don't be ridiculous," he said, leaning in for
He did no more moaning, but Gunn could feel the little flinches when he
accidentally touched a sore spot. Though he was sure Wesley would let him
know if anything was too painful, he still felt a bit guilty. That he was
there at all with sex on his mind at a time like this, after dancing around
the issue at so many better times. That he hadn't been there to help, and
Alonna had to be the one to do so. And maybe most of all that he *still*
wasn't helping, because Wes had asked that goddamned vampire instead.
Since he didn't want to think of that, he went on with the kissing,
unbuttoning Wesley's shirt so he could trail his way down there. It was hard
to avoid the cuts and bruises, and he could tell from each of Wesley's
breaths if he had failed or not. Funny, he'd been playing Indiana Jones a
lot as a kid, but this was a scene he'd never have expected to mimic
especially not as Marion.
There was a definite limit of things he could do with Wesley hurting like
this. Gunn kept kissing his way down and unzipped Wesley's pants, but then
he paused. Theoretically he knew just how to continue he'd seen several
girls do it, not to mention Wesley just a few days ago but how the hell
did you *do* it? Wesley didn't look any different from other guys he'd seen
naked, and yet he panicked at the thought of taking that dick into his
mouth. It wasn't like the guy was a fucking *hamburger*; you couldn't *chew*
him if the bite was too big.
A hand stroked his scalp softly. "Just do what you want to do."
He let his hand touch the tip of Wesley's dick. It felt perfectly normal,
with a hard-on not unlike what he faced every morning. It felt a lot
different, of course, touching someone else's. It was a pretty awesome
sensation, though, seeing Wesley close his eyes and take a deep breath that
had nothing to do with pain and everything with delight.
He continued moving his hand, leaving his mouth free to kiss Wesley's chest.
Now *he* was getting hard too, and he was relieved when Wesley started
tugging at his pants.
"Watch the bandage," he warned.
"I'll get a new one."
And maybe he should argue that, but he didn't feel like it, not with
Wesley's head bowed down over his own and the two of them working their
hands in rhythm until it was very hard to tell his own hand from Wesley's.
Compared to this, doing girls was like going in blind, never knowing what
would make them feel good until afterwards.
Beyond that, this just felt *right* in a way he couldn't explain even to
himself. It wasn't that he cared more for Wes than any of the others. Some
of them had meant a lot to him.
Whatever the reason, he liked the result. He leaned his face upwards,
catching Wesley's mouth with his own. Though their hands were working
softly, Wesley was surprisingly rough meeting the kiss, and Gunn followed
Someone knocked on the front door.
Wesley pulled back and gave a doubtful glance in the direction of the
bedroom door, but Gunn reached out for him again.
Wesley smiled a little, which caused Gunn to continue, "And spare me any
lame-ass jokes, Pryce," before he caught that teasing mouth again.
He could hear Wes mumble, "Oh, well, I suppose Angel can handle it," but
didn't reply. What was it about that crazy bloodsucker that made Wesley
trust him so much? Yeah, okay, he grasped the concept of a soul, not evil,
all of that, but hey, *he* wasn't evil either. He also had the advantage of
a pulse and his full marbles, so he really didn't get what made the
*vampire* a better choice for help.
But he wasn't about to let that bother him. Not now.
Wesley had expected Buffy to return. He hadn't expected her to bring Giles.
He wasn't sure why the presence of his former colleague should bother him so
much, but the look of shock and pity he was given as he entered the living
room was somehow worse than the many similar looks he received daily.
It almost made him wish that Buffy would say something unsuitable. She
looked very much about to, and he knew that she, Angel and Giles all had
grasped at least some of what had been going on in the other room, even
though both he and Gunn had been fairly quiet. If she brought that up, it
would be awkward, naturally, but it wouldn't make him feel so small.
Then again, Gunn would probably feel very different about such matters
becoming topic of conversation.
He'd have to introduce Gunn somehow. Part of him rather hoped Angel would do
it, but of course that was a ludicrous idea. He just wasn't sure what to
say. "Friend" felt wrong after what had just happened particularly since
they knew about it. "Boyfriend", on the other hand, was out of the question.
So when he opened his mouth, what he found himself saying was:
"Did you find the drug?"
Everyone was already looking at him, but at his casual question there was a
vague shift in those looks that indicated they were turning into stares.
"Uh... yeah," Buffy said. "Giles still had the recipe."
"The formula," Giles mumbled, and he was quite right. 'Recipe' just didn't
sound dignified. Words were important.
And just then, Wesley found the right word after all.
"This is Charles Gunn, my partner," he said. "Gunn, these two are Buffy
Summers and Rupert Giles."
"Nice to meet you."
Wesley watched Gunn watching the newcomers, and he could see a slight
wrinkle between Gunn's eyebrows that implied he still hadn't quite grasped
the concept of a Slayer. Wesley found it rather amusing, and in any case it
was a break from everyone looking at him.
But Gunn's words hung unanswered in the air for so long Wesley started to
wonder if he was the one who'd have to initiate every brief conversation,
and if so, what would happen if he didn't. Would they just stand there
silently the whole night?
At long last, Giles was the one to break the silence.
"I have some good friends at a coven in England. That's where we will be
Wesley nodded. He had tried to figure out what to do with Faith, since he
very much doubted that drugs could hold her down for very long, but no
solution had come to mind. A coven sounded reassuring, and an English coven
even more so. He couldn't think of a better place for Faith to be than in
the last country on earth he intended to return to.
Gunn reacted very differently. "A coven? With... what, witches? Wouldn't a
prison be better?"
"I don't think there's a prison that will hold her," Buffy said, and for the
first time since Angel had hugged her in the kitchen, her expression
softened a little. It was immensely troublesome to see, and Wesley scowled,
but he wasn't really surprised. Buffy's attitude towards Faith had never
been particularly logical.
"But you two would?" Gunn's disdain came with a half grin and a friendly
voice, but that didn't make it any less obvious.
The softness in Buffy's expression disappeared. "For the time we need, yeah!
But if you'd like to come with... make sure we're doing things right...
you're very welcome to do so."
Wesley stiffened, hoping Gunn wouldn't take the offer. It had never occurred
to him that Buffy would want their help on that part of the plan, although
it surely would be just as tricky to get Faith out of the country as out of
the hospital. And Gunn had practically challenged her.
"To England?" Gunn asked, a disbelieving wrinkle forming on his upper lip.
"That's the place."
"The more people the better, obviously," Giles said rather hurriedly while
Buffy was still speaking.
He was trying to smooth things over, but by doing so he'd suddenly included
Wesley in the invitation.
"I can't go, I'm afraid," he said, glad to have a good excuse. "My green
card has expired. If I left, I wouldn't be able to come back."
"And I don't even have a passport," Gunn said, frowning.
"Neither does Faith," Buffy pointed out. "We're getting her a fake - I'm
sure we could get more."
Giles was ignoring those comments, looking steadily at Wesley, but the gaze
was different from before and somewhat easier to take. "Expired? How could
it have expired already?"
"Long story." He suspected Giles thought the Council was responsible, but
didn't bother to explain.
"Well, as Buffy said, we could get you a fake passport..."
"I'd really rather not." He'd said that a bit too quickly, but it was too
late to remedy that now. "Anyway, we do need people here too, in order to
delay Weatherby and the others. Unless you have a plan for that?"
Giles frowned slightly. "Not really, no. Having a second team here might be
a good idea. We could always ask our friends in Sunnydale to help out."
Oh, wonderful. All he needed was more of Buffy's friends hanging around.
"What about you?" Buffy was still talking to Gunn, her arms crossed over her
chest. "Are you staying here or do you want that false passport?"
His eyes narrowed. Oh, Lord, he was taking the bait.
"Maybe I do."
"Good!" Giles said with unnecessary enthusiasm, probably in another attempt
of damage control. Wesley could understand his dilemma, but wanted to hit
him over the head anyway. "Angel? Do you want to go as well?"
Buffy gave him a glance and shook her head slightly, but Angel answered with
perfect clarity, "Yeah... I think I'd better not. I mean, there's the
vampire thing and -" he grimaced "-everything else, but I did also promise
Wesley to stick around for a while."
Wesley smiled, touched by the vampire's concern, but Gunn finally took his
eyes off Buffy, his jaw set tighter than before as he looked at Angel.
"Maybe I should be in the home team after all," he said. "Make sure things
work out all right. And besides, there's the agency to think of."
He wasn't *actually* thinking of the agency, Wesley knew, it was just an
excuse. And he didn't mind that excuse, knew far too well that sometimes
honesty wasn't an option. That part was all right, it wasn't what made his
But the reason Gunn spoke of staying was because he couldn't stand Angel,
and Wesley didn't know what to do about that. It was hardly surprising; Gunn
was predisposed to hating vampires. At least he'd stopped calling Angel
"it", and Wesley had started hoping Gunn might actually make an exception
from his ethical stanza of "vampires are bad". But judging from his current
behaviour that wasn't going to happen.
He wondered what Gunn would do if he found out Buffy's relation to Angel.
Vomit, probably. Be relieved, possibly. The thought of jealousy, no matter
how poorly justified, being behind Gunn's reactions was at least some sort
of comfort. But also the last thing he needed right now.
"Quite," he said, trying to clear his thoughts. If Buffy and Giles took
Faith to an English coven, that took care of part of the problem. If the
rest of them efficiently delayed the Watchers in some yet to be discovered
way, that took care of another part. But that didn't mean the problem was
solved. "What about Alonna?"
Gunn's head whipped around. "What about her?"
His voice was harsh and hostile, clearly showing his worry. Fabulous. Now
Wesley was the one to feel jealous. What a strange dance this was.
"Weatherby promised to make sure she was safe." He turned his eyes to Buffy.
"Even if we do take Faith after they have left the hospital, she's still at
risk. Perhaps she should be the one to come with you it'd certainly keep
her out of sight." Alonna could never afford a trip to England on her own,
and the police would know that.
"You want her to go to *England*?" Gunn's expression would have been funny,
except it wasn't.
"It's an option, at least."
"I don't know..." That was Buffy, pursing her lips a little. "We could get
her the passport and tickets, sure, but can she hold her own? Otherwise it'd
be safer to keep her here."
That caused Gunn to flare up. "Were *you* the one to take that Faith girl
down or was she? Huh?"
Buffy's mouth opened in surprise, but she quickly closed it instead and
nodded. "Fine. She can come with us."
"If we can arrange it," Giles pointed out.
"And if she wants to," Wesley said. He knew what it was like to travel half
across the world and suspected it would be an even stranger notion to
Alonna, who most likely had never been abroad and never thought to.
"And if she wants to. Of course."
"So, you're sending my baby sister to England, huh?"
They were walking down the pavement outside Wesley's house, which hardly
seemed like a suitable place for a quarrel. Wesley had to wonder why Gunn
chose now to bring this up, instead of inside the apartment, sometime in the
past quarter of an hour.
"I'm not sending her anywhere. It's up to her. She's fully capable of making
her own decisions."
"But you'd be glad to get rid of her."
Wesley didn't answer, because he wasn't quite sure what the answer was. It
wasn't "of course not" as it should have been, but it wasn't "yes" either
They walked in silence until they reached a public bulletin board. Wesley
put down his bag and pulled out a poster, which Gunn thumbtacked to the
"Why'd you rather have that vampire around than me?"
Ah, so that was why they couldn't talk inside. Perhaps it was to be seen as
an improvement that Gunn didn't want to discuss Angel around Angel, but
right now, Wesley couldn't muster any enthusiasm for that progress.
"I... there are many reasons," he said, trying to shape those reasons into
understandable words. "Angel knows Faith. Her history, what she's capable
off. And apart from that, he knows what's it's like to be..." Wesley thought
of what Faith had done, thought of the word Amnesty International would use
for it, and silenced for a second. "I needed someone who could understand."
"Oh, yeah, the deep understanding of a crazy vampire," Gunn said bitterly.
He shoved the pack of thumbtacks into his pocket and his hands in after
them, before he started walking down the street again. "How the fuck do you
expect me to understand if you don't *tell* me anything?"
Wesley fell into step. "Some things can't be told."
"You could try. " Gunn was now walking backwards, his eyes riveted on
Wesley. "Fuck it, Wes, maybe I *don't* understand, but you haven't even
given me a chance in that department, have you? I would have helped, you got
to know that, so why couldn't you ask me?"
"Because I still have some dignity left!" Wesley hadn't meant it to come out
quite so loud there were a few people across the street, and he could see
them staring. Well, nothing new there. "I won't be your charity case! This
is hard enough without you there to despise me."
Gunn's mouth opened, and there was a pause while his mouth worked silently
before he managed to splutter, "What's going on in your head, English? Since
when do I *despise* you?"
Wesley hurried his steps, trying to avoid that gaze. "Fine. Pick your word.
Condescension. Superiority. Pity. What's the difference?"
"So you're saying that if I feel sorry for you, it's gotta be because I
He shook his head slowly. "No. But it is."
"That is such a load of *bullshit*!" Gunn exploded. "Do you think I'd *be*
here if I despised you? I *care* about you. I'm allowed to do that. It's not
a fucking insult, so why do you treat it like one? Do you think I'm lying to
you? That I'd rather be with someone else?"
"That's not the point!" Wesley dropped the bag and stopped in his tracks.
"This isn't about *us*! It's about me, and if I have to ask for help I want
it from someone who's *been* there, and you *haven't*. It's all about
strength to you. You've never found a battle you couldn't win, and you've
never woken up to a world that wasn't made for you..."
"One more word and I'll swear to God I'll punch you," Gunn said, stepping
closer. He'd taken his hands out of his pockets and closed them into fists.
"You don't know shit about what I have or haven't. The world is made for me,
is it? I'll think about that, the next time I go into a Seven-Eleven on a
late Saturday night and the clerk starts looking for the alarm button."
Wesley's anger faded a little. He hadn't thought of that before, but Gunn
had a point. "Sorry. I didn't mean to imply..." His voice trailed off.
"I know you didn't," Gunn said, letting his shoulders sink down. "It's just,
sometimes you're so... What is it you want me to do? Find some psycho bitch
to beat me up? A vampire to turn me so I can go broody in the night like
your souled fangboy up there? Cut off my arm?" He gave a breathy
half-laugher. "Not gonna happen, Wes. No more than you can get rid of that
white face and fancy upbringing of yours. You can't wait for us to stop
being different. We *are*, and we got to be able to work with that."
Wesley nodded silently, blinking a couple of times to clear his eyes.
Looking up again, he said as calmly as he could, "Gunn, I am not ready to
have you help me."
"Yeah, I know," Gunn said, his voice barely audible. He glanced down the now
empty street and then in the other direction as well, before he moved closer
still, brushing Wesley's lips with his own while his hand stroked the back
of Wesley's head. When he pulled away again, his eyes were shining with
"Come on, English," he said, picking up the bag of posters. "We've got
plenty of these to put up yet."