TITLE: Leaving
AUTHOR: Katta ( head_overheels@hotmail.com )
SEQUEL/SERIES: Tenth in the Birthday series. Previous parts can be found at http://www.geocities.com/katta_hj/fanfic/Angel or in the list archive.
THANKS TO: Tammy, always a fabulous beta reader, this time fast as well.
RATING: R for sexual situation
PAIRING: Gunn/Wesley
DISCLAIMERS: All major characters in this fic, and most of the minor ones, belong to Mutant Enemy. The universe was also created by them, though developed further by me.
SPOILERS: Birthday/Sanctuary
SUMMARY: The Sunnydale and L.A. people work together to get Faith out of the Watchers' hands and the country.


Alonna watched the other girl closely. Skinny blond cheerleader type of girl, but those tiny little arms still had some muscle, and she hadn't forgotten how a girl not much bigger than this one had tossed her around as though she weighed nothing. 'Slayers', both of them, apparently. And the older guy was a 'watcher', which Wesley had been too. He reminded her a bit of what Wesley had looked like the first time she'd seen him

Gunn was smirking as if he thought it was some kind of joke, but both Wesley and old-guy-Wesley were looking quite serious.

"A Slayer, huh?" she said, trying the new word in her mouth. "And that other girl too?"

"That's right."

"And you have super powers?" She couldn't help the amused scepticism that showed through in her voice.

"In a way, yes."

"Okay." Alonna picked up a stake from the inventory and tossed it to the girl. "I'm a vampire about to attack. Stake me."

Wesley gave a discreet cough. "You might want to choose a blunter weapon."

That seemed a bit unnecessary – Alonna had never heard of anyone actually managing to kill a *human* with a stake – but the Buffy girl flipped the stake over in her hand so she was aiming with the blunt end.

"Okay," she said, tilting her blond head to the side. "Attack me."

So Alonna did, though with some caution since she wasn't eager to be thrown into a wall again. Instead she ended up flat on her back with a little blonde girl sitting on her chest. Whoah. That Buffy girl was *way* stronger than she looked. Like she was used to, she faked weakness for a moment, and when she felt the other girl's grip relax a bit, she flipped her legs over her head. She had counted on Buffy falling over, but instead found the little blonde bouncing back up on her feet and attacking. Alonna had to roll over quickly to avoid being "staked". She managed to get back onto her feet and even get a few punches in, but soon she was flat on her back again and Buffy's stake pounded her in the chest.

"You're dead."

"I guess I am." As soon as Buffy had released her grip, Alonna sat up, dismayed and embarrassed to have been "killed" so fast in front of the others. "Damn."

"You're good, though."

She gave a half-hearted laugh. "Right. You beat me."

"But it took me a full minute."

Alonna glanced up sharply, but it was clear the other girl wasn't joking and actually *did* think that a minute of fighting was a job well done. The English guys apparently agreed, because they seemed neither surprised nor about to start laughing - while Gunn, bless him, looked like his jaw was going to fall off entirely.

"Catching flies?" Alonna asked, standing up and brushing the dirt off her clothes.

Gunn was clearly still too shocked to answer or even close his mouth, but Buffy snickered, and even old-guy-Wesley smiled a little. Giles, that was his name, and he looked a lot less stuffy when he was smiling.

"So, are you coming to England with us?" Buffy asked.

It was such a weird question, had been even the first time they asked. What was England anyway? A faraway country with a lot of people like Wesley and this Giles guy who all had tea in the afternoon and talked like a bunch of snobs. She'd never even been to Mexico.

And now the question struck her as even weirder. "Why? I didn't even last a minute against you, and you said she has the same powers."

"You *did* last a minute, and she won't have those powers when we take her. Giles has a drug that'll make sure of that." Buffy glanced at Giles, and some unspoken agreement passed between them. "Actually, we wanted them too," she said, nodding at Gunn and Wesley, "but they wouldn't come. And you might need to get out of here for a while."

Buffy's voice was very level saying that, and Alonna was entirely grateful. Need to get away from possible police interrogations, was what that meant, and it was a pretty unnerving thought. She had tried to kill a human, and even though she was getting increasingly convinced that she couldn't have acted any other way, it still wasn't the same as killing a demon. She'd already had to lie to two police officers and a social worker.

"Yeah, I appreciate it," she said, and if her short tone belied her words, that wasn't her fault. She tried to tell herself that it'd just be for a little while. It could be exciting, almost like a vacation.

A vacation spent transporting a fugitive, torture-loving chick half around the world. Right. She bit her lip.

"So, when are we leaving?"

"That depends on when Weatherby and his thugs make their move," Giles chimed in. His face was sympathetic, and she almost wished it hadn't been, because she was starting to feel miserable. "It probably won't be for a few days yet, but we should keep guard at the hospital."

"Well, we've got enough people for that, at least."

"Yeah, we thought of making a roster," Gunn said, sounding just a little sarcastic at his own choice of words. "If we have just one or two guys at a time, chances are the Brits won't even know they're being watched."

She nodded. "Sounds like a good idea."

He held her gaze and said in a low voice, "Take care, little sister."

Oh God, now he called her 'little sister'. Why did everyone have to be *nice* to her? She glanced at Wesley, hoping that he at least would give her one of those cold stares she'd come to expect from him. But no, his face was serious, but far from unkind.

Much more of this, and she'd start bawling.


"Okay, people," Gunn said, trying to remember all the details of the plan as he ran it over with the gang. "Wesley and Giles know these guys, so they'll take turn at the hospital. They're our insiders, so to speak. Everyone else will take shifts waiting outside. Three or four people maximum, we don't want to attract any unnecessary attention. This was, the rest of you can still chase some vamps between sleeping and duty. When these 'Watchers' make their move, those of you who are on watch are to call the rest up – make sure you have a cell phone in each group out there. No matter *what* you're doing you're coming over as soon as you get the call. The people on shift will also be the ones to take over the Watchers' car or whatever it is they're driving. They're bound to leave someone there, but they won't be expecting interference, so it should be a walkover. But don't take that for granted – they're professionals just like us. And remember, these are humans we're fighting. Which means *no* killing them. If it's your life or theirs, do what you must, but it'll be murder."

He watched the guys to see their reactions to what he was telling them. They didn't seem very enthusiastic, but then, it would have been pretty creepy if they had been.

"Why are we doing this again?" Chain asked.

Gunn had never been the kind of leader to go 'because I said so', but right then he very much felt like it. He wasn't sure why *he* was doing this, except that if Wesley wanted it after what that girl had done to him, it had to be the right thing somehow.

"I have worked with these people before," said a voice behind him, and he didn't have to turn to know it was that guy Giles, but he did anyway. "I have no reason to believe them anything but killers. Unfortunately, their activities can't exactly be taken to the police."

"Yeah, they're bad. I get it," Chain replied. "But that girl's not an innocent either, is she? *You* tried to kill her."

That last part was aimed at Alonna, who had been standing silently by Gunn's side. There was a pause before her answer, and what she finally said was a low, "Yes, I did."

Gunn remembered what she'd looked like that day in the hospital corridor, but that was for her to share if she wanted to and none of his damn business.

"She's not an innocent."

Giles again, and for a moment Gunn thought he meant Alonna. But no, he was speaking of that Faith girl, of course.

"What she is, is a young woman who has done some very bad things and is trying to avoid paying for them by going on the way she started. As well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, as they say." A shadow of a smile came over his lips. "I recognise the way of thinking, I guess you could say. That's why *I'm* doing this. What your reasons may be is up for you to decide."

He wasn't the sort of man the guys would usually listen to, but there was something in his voice that raised Gunn's hair, and he could tell the others were reacting the same way. Giles wasn't bullshitting them – he *did* know the way of thinking that would make a chick turn into a killer, and probably better than they did. What the hell kind of people did Wesley use to hang with?

The guys stared at Giles for a quiet moment, and then Jamie's head turned to Alonna. He didn't say anything, but his expression clearly asked her opinion. Poe and Bobby soon caught on and glanced in her direction as well. She looked down, and then she nodded. "Just do it."

They didn't ask any more questions after that, nor did they look to Gunn. What had just happened was so unusual that it took Gunn a while to realise that he'd been outranked – by a stuffy old Brit and his own sister.


Gunn lay down on the narrow bed. It was eleven AM, but he hadn't slept well, and just lying down was a relief.

"You look distracted," Wesley said, lying next to him. It forced Gunn to lie with his back against the cold wall, but that was okay.

"Nah, not distracted." He pulled Wesley closer still. "Everything *but* distracted. That's the problem. I just keep thinking 'what if something goes wrong?' And there ain't nothing can distract me from that thought."

"I could distract you," Wesley offered, voice level as he moved his hand down to Gunn's groin.

Gunn caught the hand on its way and shook his head. "When this is over, Wes, you can distract me all you want. Not now. Not when they can call us up any minute."

Wesley said nothing, only put his arm around Gunn's waist. In the living room, Angel turned on the television, but in here the only sound was of their breathing slowly setting into rhythm. "You were never thνs nervous before."

Gunn shrugged. "I never fought humans before."

Silence again, and Gunn tightened his embrace, as if that would stop his thoughts from racing. "We'll have to be a lot more careful," he said. "But I guess… in all other ways it's the same as always."

"Is it?"

That should have been a simple question. It sure sounded like one.

"We can't let ourselves be seen," Gunn continued, trying to reason his way out of his discomfort. "And we can't kill anyone, of course. Or let them kill us."

"That should be a given."

"Not really." He couldn't quite explain the difference, and had to search for words. "On the other missions, I know I'm right. I know they're the bad guys, and if I die at least I'm taking some with me. But this..." He realised that the embrace had turned into a hard grip, and although Wesley hadn't said a word of complaint, he let go. "She wanted to kill us. And she hurt you... and we're saving her. I think we're doing the right thing – but I don't know it."

Wesley didn't answer, damn him, but lying this close Gunn could feel the shivers in his body and knew that the reason for Wesley's silence was that he didn't have the answers either.

Everything Gunn had said was true, but it wasn't enough. And he found himself saying, "Or maybe I just don't want to die."

A tiny smile showed on Wesley's face. "Nobody does."

"No, that's not what I mean. I always know I can die, and obviously I don't *want* that, but at the same time that's the point, knowing that is what makes it worthwhile. But now... now I'm just scared. And that's no way to do it, being scared all the time."

For a brief moment, it looked like Wesley was about to nod in agreement, but instead he said, "I am. All the time. Every second out there, I think I'm going to die, and I hate it."

Gunn had figured that much, but he still had a hard time wrapping his mind around it. "How do you *do* it, then? How can you go out there and be *scared*?"

Wesley averted his eyes for a moment, but Gunn didn't get the impression that it was to avoid the question. Just to think.

"I don't really think I have a choice."

"You had a choice not to piss off the lawyers," Gunn pointed out. He felt Wesley go tense and hurried to add, "Hey, hey, I'm not saying you did wrong. Just that you made a choice."

"I suppose I did." Wesley smiled a little and shook his head, soon growing serious again. "If you're not sure, perhaps you shouldn't do it."

"Who's paying for Alonna's ticket?" It sounded like a change of topic, but it wasn't really, and in any case it was the first thing that came to Gunn's mind.

There was no sign that Wesley was surprised by the question, though he seemed a bit reluctant to answer.

"Giles is paying half, and I'm paying the other half."

"Crazy bastard," Gunn said softly, squeezing Wesley's hand. He knew Wesley couldn't afford half a plane ticket to England *and* make sure to eat well for the rest of the month. Figured he'd go along with it anyway – probably insisted on paying that half. "Can *he* spare that kind of money?"

A frown formed on Wesley's brow. "He said so, but I don't know... The council fired him last year, and then we destroyed the high school, which pretty efficiently ruined his day job. I'm not sure he has any employment at all right now. Though I didn't want to ask."

"No, you just offered him several hundred bucks instead." Gunn had to laugh. "You're both crazy bastards. And you're doing it for my baby sis. How could I *not* help?"

Wesley's frown deepened. "I meant to keep her out of this."

"Didn't quite work out that way." Gunn tried to keep his voice light. "Anyway, Alonna's never needed to be kept out of anything. She'll be okay."

"Right," Wesley agreed, kissing him.

"And when this is all over, we'll get distracted." He let his lips touch Wesley's ear as he whispered, "All you want."


Alonna was a fast-moving girl. She had to be, or she'd be dead. When the phone rang, she jumped out of the cot she'd made for herself on the tin roof and pulled on her jacket. It was an hour or so before dawn, a time when she was usually turning in, but Buffy hadn't wanted to go back to the headquarters after their stakeout, and so they settled for a semi-stakeout from a nearby rooftop. Her body was aching from the uncomfortable position she'd been sleeping in, but she was used to discomfort and didn't let it slow her down. But by the time she reached the fire escape, the Slayer was already waiting to go, putting the cell phone back in her pocket.

Alonna stared at her. "Haven't you been sleeping at all?"

"Sure I have," Buffy said, heading down the fire escape. "You're just a little bit more Rip van Winkle than I am."

Alonna hardly saw herself as very like Rip van Winkle, but she didn't bother to argue. "So what did they say?"

"Just that it's starting and that they'll call back when they've taken over the Watchers' truck."

Or when they'd failed to. No reason to bring that up, though. They both knew it was a possibility. Alonna hurried her steps, trying to follow Buffy's as they both ran from the stakeout towards the hospital.

Eventually, they slowed their steps nearly to normal pace so they wouldn't attract too much attention. Alonna's eyes darted from exit to exit, although she wasn't quite sure what she was looking for. She'd only seen those English kidnappers once, and she wasn't sure she'd recognize them. Certainly she wouldn't if they were dressed in white coats or something.

But it turned out to be quite a lot easier than she thought, because the first familiar figure she saw stepping out of the hospital was Wesley. She stopped short and grabbed Buffy's arm. The men that walked outside with Wesley weren't wearing white coats and she did recognize them rather, but her attention was on the wheelchair being pushed by one of them and the sickly-looking girl sitting there in a hospital gown. She looked much too weak to kill anyone, and Alonna wondered if she was doped up already.

"Now, how did *he* get here this fast?" Buffy muttered.

"He's taking shifts," Alonna said. She had thought Buffy knew that. "Just like your Giles guy."

"I'd rather have Giles," Buffy muttered. "He can hold his own."

Alonna frowned, but didn't have time to think of an answer before Buffy spoke again:

"Where *is* that truck?" She brought the cell phone out of her pocket and started searching for a phone number. "They were supposed to call when they'd taken it."

"Don't," Alonna said. "They might be in the middle of a fight or something."

Buffy paused for a second, letting her glance touch the Brits, who had yet to discover them. Then she smiled. "I'm thinking not, or the truck would still be in place."

She had a point. The main reason they hadn't been discovered yet was that the Brits were searching all over for something that had to be their truck. Wesley was the only one to pay any attention to people around him, and Alonna caught a glance.

He was on the other side of a vast parking lot and didn't show too much of a reaction either - good thing too, or the others might have wondered what was up - but she could see that he had discovered them. She made a very visible shrug to show that they didn't have any directions yet. It clearly didn't please him, but he turned away, talking to one of the other men.

Meanwhile, Buffy had gotten someone on the phone. "Where are you and what happened to calling us?" She sighed deeply and a frown formed on her face. "If it isn't one thing it's another. Okay, they're out here now, we'll be over in a few."

She put the phone down and rolled her eyes. "Their battery's out."

"Well, that's hardly their fault," Alonna said, grateful it wasn't something worse. Although she knew it was superstitious of her, she hoped that a small mishap meant nothing big was going to go wrong.

"Checking in advance is usually a good idea."

Maybe Buffy hadn't intended to sound snippy, but Alonna took offence at her tone of voice anyway. "It's not like we normally use cellphones on our patrols. And believe it or not, we get the job done."

Buffy, clearly not listening, gave a little wave to Wesley, who was looking in their direction again although the other two weren't. She held up three fingers and jerked her head to the right, and Wesley nodded, moving along with the others in a manner that didn't make it too clear that he was leading the way. His pals were starting to look edgy, but not very suspicious – yet.

"Three blocks, huh?" Alonna said, starting to walk. She didn't know how long it would take before the Watchers recognized her and Buffy, but she told herself sternly that even if her presence would confuse them, they had no reason to suspect any danger.

Three blocks down, she spotted a big blue truck. It was turned in the other direction, so she couldn't see the driver, but Buffy stopped and Alonna did too.

"Shouldn't we step out of their sight or something?"

"Now, where's the fun in that?" Buffy fiddled with something in her pocket, and Alonna got a glimpse of a syringe as the other girl hid it up her sleeve.

She heard one of the men saying "Buffy Summers?" behind them, and turned around, feeling cold inside.

"And you," the same man said, coming closer. "I recognise you."

Alonna nodded, and her gaze fell on the pale girl sitting in the hospital wheelchair. She looked sickly and weak, so unlike her previous self that Alonna at first wondered if the damn Brits had gotten a double. But the girl met her eyes, scowling.

"You tried to kill me."

"Yeah, and I'll do it again if you give me reason," Alonna replied. "But not right now."

And with that, she took a few quick steps forward and punched the guy next to her in the face. He wavered for a second and she punched him again, but this time he was prepared and caught her hand, twisting her arm. She broke loose, kicking him in the guts while she waited for the pain in her arm to go away.

He was a good fighter, something she hadn't quite expected, but then he had very clearly not expected her to be one either. An even fight like this was definitely different than fighting a vampire, starting with a burning wish to avoid killing – at least on her part.

Buffy was a lot more efficient in taking down her guy, but still preoccupied, while Wesley was checking on the girl. Alonna caught a glimpse of the syringe in his hand and was pretty surprised, since she hadn't seen Buffy give it to him.

A hard punch from the man she was fighting sent her sprawling against the wheelchair. Fuck. Getting a bar of steel into her hip *hurt*. But that wasn't as problematic as the knife he'd just shaken into his hand. *Definitely* not trying to avoid killing her.

"Care to step in?" she hissed to Wesley who, bless him, rose from where he was crouching down and swiftly kicked Alonna's opponent so the knife fell to the ground.

The man was so shocked he made no move to pick it up, and Alonna quickly dived for it instead. It wasn't a foldable or she would have stuck it away somewhere, since fighting with a weapon made it harder not to go for the kill. Now she had no choice but to hold on to it.

Buffy and the guy she was fighting both turned their heads in surprise. The guy was the first one to recover and get a punch in, hitting Buffy straight on the nose and efficiently jilting her back to reality.

"Wait for your turn," she said, throwing one back so hard the guy dropped like a sack of beans.

Alonna was still trying to get her guy down, with Wesley's help, and they managed to get him down on the ground and well stuck there. But he held onto consciousness, and juggling the knife and keeping him restrained at once was tricky.

Then Buffy joined them, and with a swift blow, it was over.

"Enjoy the trip to La-La Land, Watcher boy," Buffy said, wiping her hands off each other.

The door to the truck opened and Jamie stuck out his head. "You need a hand?"

"No, it's all right," Alonna called back.

"Wait a minute," Wesley said beside her, rising awkwardly. "I think we do, rather. All three of them are unconscious, and we can hardly stack them in the wheelchair."

Alonna stared at him. "You... want to take them with us?" That hadn't been in the plan, and she didn't like it.

Buffy seemed to agree with her. "Wesley, these two are a little bit too dangerous to keep as house pets."

The corners of Wesley's mouth twisted, but his voice was serious as he explained, "So dump them along with the truck, but don't leave them here. We counted on them making their move at night, which they did. But it's almost dawn, and they're not going to wake up for a while yet. People will come along..." He gave a lopsided shrug.

"Daytime people," Alonna said, understanding what he was getting at. "They'll ask questions. Yeah. You may be right."

"So, do you need a hand?" Jamie asked again, still leaning out of the driver's seat.

Alonna sighed. She *really* didn't want to share a truck with these guys, unconscious or not. "Sure, come on and load them in."


Gunn sat down on one of Wesley's kitchen chairs, feeling strangely lost. "I missed it. The battle, the whole thing... and now she's gone."

"Yes, thank God," Wesley sighed, and Gunn came close to strangling him before he figured out that they were talking about different things.

"Not Faith. Alonna."

"Oh." Wesley looked down. "I'm sorry."

"S'okay." It made sense that Wesley would be more relieved to get rid of the psycho bitch than worried about Alonna. He hadn't lived with her all his life -

And the simple reality of *all his life* struck him so hard that he couldn't breathe. Alonna had been there since before he could remember. No one had told him to take care of his little sister, but he'd done it anyway. Some people might have argued the logic of his way to keep her safe, which was bringing her into all the deep vampire lairs for the fight, but she wasn't a hooker or demon food, and that was more than you could say about most chicks in these parts of town.

And now she was headed off to a foreign country with only a perky white girl and a stiff in tweed by her side.

He sighed. "Remember what you said yesterday about distracting me? Now would be a good time."

Wesley looked up, and after a moment gave a melancholic smile. "All right." He leaned across the table and gave Gunn a quick kiss. "We'll need to get Angel out of the bedroom, though."

"Fuck." Gunn hadn't thought of that, and the idea of waking the vampire up to say that they needed the bed for fucking was... no. Just no. "Can't we do it in the living room?" The sofa was soft enough, if a bit small – he'd had sex in a lot more uncomfortable places.

Wesley made a thoughtful grimace. "I don't think I can... but maybe you could."

It took a while for Gunn to get the gist of this; his mind went off on the wrong track and he thought Wesley opted out of any action for the time being. Then he caught up, and was a bit relieved. "You want me to do the fucking." It was a question of agility, really, but it also put him in somewhat familiar territory.

Wesley's expression was so hard to read that Gunn became uncertain again:

"You don't want me to do the fucking?"

"Yes, I do, rather." But Wesley's brow was still furrowed. "I just... well, in all honesty, I've never been shagged by a virgin."

The thought that he might not be up to the task got Gunn defensive. "Who're you calling a virgin?"

Wesley smiled a little, though the smile was wry. "Sorry to have offended you. There's virginity and virginity."

"Women have asses. What's the difference?"

For a moment, Gunn thought he might get an answer, but then Wesley closed his mouth, shrugged, and left the kitchen.

It was supposed to be a distraction, but perhaps neither one of them was distracted enough. They brought the needed items into the living room and started taking off their clothes, but their actions were subdued and matter-of-fact, like they were preparing to wash the dishes rather than get laid. Wesley even folded up his jeans, for fuck's sake.

This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Gunn pushed Wesley down on the couch and kissed him hard. He'd forgotten about Wesley's splinted finger, but luckily his attack was so sudden that Wesley didn't have time to catch himself and hurt it more, just to hiss, "Take it easy!" and move his arm aside once Gunn was already straddling him.

"Sorry," Gunn said, though he felt anything but repentant. But he did take it a little easier as he proceeded to very slowly take off Wesley's shirt, caressing the skin around wounds that were now unbandaged but still sported the occasional stitches.

And then, sliding Wesley's shirt off his shoulder, he found something odd about one of those wounds. "Holy shit."

"It's over," Wesley said, catching Gunn's mouth and kissing him fiercely.

Gunn broke away from the kiss to take another look. "Jesus Christ, it goes all around your shoulder!"

"It's *over*," Wesley insisted.

The persistence in his voice gave Gunn the sense to shut up, while still watching the cut. It was just a scratch, not deep enough to leave a scar, but there was nothing random about it. That bitch had been doing it as a game, trying to scare Wesley – and probably suceeding too. He had seen Buffy fight and if Faith was anything like her, the threat would have been real, and Wesley would have known it.

But she was gone now. It *was* over, and Gunn banished the bitch from his thoughts, instead reaching out for the condom packet lying on the table.

This was a small step for mankind, for sure, and it wasn't exactly a huge leap for Charles Gunn either. In fact, he was surprised at how natural for him it was to lock his legs around Wesley's body and thrust deeply. He had done it before, sure, but Wes wasn't anything like a girl, didn't look like one or feel like one, and sure as hell didn't smell like one.

Or react like one, either. Gunn listened to his accelerating breaths with surprise, although his own were hardly any slower. "You really... like this, don't you?"

"Oh, God, yes," Wesley muttered, arching closer.

"Because when I've done this... with women..."

Wesley gave a half-choked laugh and grasped Gunn's ass, something that got him to cease breathing altogether. "Women are different," he said, and then, "Damn. I can't... I'm still bandaged."

"Never mind, then," Gunn whispered, because what Wesley could and did do was more than enough, his hand teasing its way down Gunn's buttock and thigh as he arched his back as well as he could in their awkward position on the couch.

Gunn gasped, feeling his dick tighten and then go limp.

"Don't stop."

"Can't help it." He pulled out and leaned heavily on his elbows, but he let his mouth keep moving over Wesley's neck and chest, and as soon as his arms stopped shaking he started using his hands on him as well.

He wished he could have gone again, right away. In part because he simply wished it, but in part because he still couldn't forget.

"D'you think they're there yet?" he asked, even though he didn't want to.

"Not for another three hours," Wesley answered, without even moving his hand to look at his watch.

It wasn't over. Not for the people crossing the Atlantic, and not even properly for them, here at home.


Angel could hear the echo of footsteps coming down the hall, and the breathy voice of that girl - what was her name? Mushroom, his mind wanted to tell him, but it couldn't be Mushroom. People weren't called Mushroom.

"He's a bit too old for this place, but no one else will take him. And he's no danger to anyone else. Just to himself."

The door swung open and girl who wasn't Mushroom was standing in the doorway along with a severe man in a suit. The severe man gave Angel a long hard stare that made Angel feel guilty and embarrassed, and so he tried to cover up the pretty picture he had drawn on the bed sheet. It was a picture of a girl's face, he knew, but the blood stains had made it all messy, and he couldn't remember who the girl was.

His own face was messy too, and he guiltily wiped away the blood from his mouth, casting an eye at the corpse weighing down his bed.

"I was so cold," he said to the severe man, trying to explain. "He was warm. I wanted..."

The severe man said nothing, just kept staring. The not-Mushroom girl was shaking her head back and forth, but she didn't say anything either.

Angel knew he was in very deep trouble, and he figured there was only one thing left to do. He rose from the bed, causing the corpse to fall down onto the floor with a thud. It fell face up, and he saw that it was Wesley, eyes frozen in confusion and fear.

"I'm still cold," he told the severe man before going into game face.

But the severe man had a game face too, which confused Angel and caused him to step back. He knew that face. He hadn't looked into a mirror for two hundred years, but he knew it anyway.


Angelus grinned, loosening his tie and stepping up for the bite. "How did you think this was going to end?"

Angel cowered, backing away until he fell onto the bed. He could see Wesley's corpse lying on the floor, its throat torn out, and he knew that whatever Angelus would do to him, it would be just punishment.

Something about the corpse was wrong, though, and once he realized what it was he forgot to be afraid.

Two arms. The corpse had two arms, and he knew it shouldn't have.

"You're not real," he told it.

A voice rang out from across the room. "Angel, man, you have to stop doing this."

He looked up. No sign of Angelus or the not-Mushroom girl, just Doyle sitting in the chair by the window.

"You're not real either."

The room was different too, now. This was Wesley's bedroom, and he could hear Wesley rummaging about in the kitchen.

"You have to stop doing this," Doyle repeated. "It's about to get worse. *Much* worse."

"Worse than this?" Angel didn't know what could be worse than this, but he knew the threat wasn't empty. "You keep telling me to stop, but I don't know how."

"Get out and stay out. It'll get easier with time. I think."

"You *think*?"

Doyle ran a hand through his hair and gave a joyless, lopsided smile. "I don't have all the answers. I'm just a figment of your imagination, remember? Well, that and a few stray visions. But trust me on this one – if you *don't* stop it's gonna get bad."

"So how do I..."

"Ask Wesley for help. Now go."

Angel stood up, only to hesitate and sit down again. "But..."

"Jesus, Angel, I'm gonna kick your ass soon. And I love you."

"Don't say that."


And he went.


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