A Million Miles Away, Part 1:

Start Again

by Wolfling and the Brat Queen

(Rated PG-13)

 

Wesley entered the Hyperion, schooling his thoughts. If he thought of anything beyond what he had to do, his resolve might start to weaken and he couldn't afford that -- not with what was at stake: Connor's life. And, for all intents and purposes, Angel's as well. He had to keep focused on that.

The lobby was empty when he came in, save for Connor in his bassinet. Wesley crossed silently over to it, thinking if he was lucky and quick, he could be gone with the baby before anyone noticed.

He pulled Connor into his arms, trying to cradle him carefully as he'd always been told. The baby fussed a little, so he rocked him, humming distractedly. He looked around, trying to think of all that he needed. Nappies, soft toys, bottle, Angel.

Wesley's heart stopped.

Angel.

The vampire stood by the counter, a bottle of formula in his hands. He looked back at Wesley, his manner as subdued as the grave.

"Wes," he said. It was a kind of greeting.

"Angel," Wesley replied, doing his best to keep his voice as normal sounding as possible, and not like he'd just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"What's up?" Angel asked. He stayed by the counter, and even though it suited his purposes Wesley couldn't help but feel it was odd that the vampire came no closer to his own child.

"He was fussing," he said, as explanation for why he was holding the baby. Then, before he could lose his nerve, he continued, "Do you remember how we've talked about taking Connor to a park? I was thinking I could take him home tonight and take him to the park across the street from my flat in the morning."

There was a too-long pause in which Wesley had more than enough time to worry that he had somehow given away the entire plan before Angel replied. "Probably a good idea."

"There's usually a lot of children over there," Wesley continued, unable to stop himself from providing more explanation. "I'm sure it'll be a good place to take him."

"Okay," Angel said. He looked down at the bottle in his hand as though he'd forgotten what he was supposed to do with it. "Wes -- you ever heard of a demon named Sahjhan?"

It took Wesley a second or two to switch mental tracks. "Um, no, I don't think so. Why?"

"Just met him," Angel said. "He says I'm his sworn enemy. I don't remember swearing."

"I'll see what I can find out," Wesley replied automatically, his brain starting to run over which sources to check, which books to look in, before he pulled himself up short. Because no, he wouldn't. He wasn't going to be here.

"Thanks," Angel said, finally coming forward as though he'd needed to say that first. "Think you can look into it before you go? I'd really like to get to the bottom of all this. I dunno. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think it's got something to do with the whole thing with Lilah."

"I really have better references at home," Wesley began, trying to extricate himself as soon as possible. Then he stopped, curiosity overcoming determination and his better sense for a moment. "What thing with Lilah?"

Something rather snakelike flickered through Angel's eyes. "Lilah," he said, his voice deadly cold, "spiked my blood."

Without making a conscious decision to do so, Wesley found himself shifting Connor in his arms to a more protective hold. The look in Angel's eyes... "Spiked it with what?"

Angel made the barest of motions in Connor's direction. "Him."

There were times when a certain piece of information will just click into place, like the last, missing piece of a puzzle. Times when he'd been trying to find the pattern in what seemed like a random series of events -- or to see the hidden pattern behind the more obvious one everyone saw -- and one little fact will suddenly make it clear. This was one of those times. "They were trying to make the prophecy come true," he muttered aloud.

Angel looked at him. "The what?"

Wesley froze. He hadn't just...

Angel came closer, looking as though he, too, had been searching for a missing part. "What prophecy? The one about Connor?"

Wesley stared at Angel for a moment, balanced on a precipice of indecision. "Yes," he finally answered softly.

"The prophecy said something about me drinking Connor's blood?" Angel asked, as though he already knew the answer and believed it. The only problem was, he believed it was the whole answer.

He could lie, Wesley thought, could let Angel think that was all there was to it, and continue on as he had planned. But looking at Angel's dark eyes, feeling every bit of the exhaustion of the past few days, Wesley found that he didn't want to lie anymore. "The father," he said in the same soft voice, "will kill the son."

Angel flinched. "What?"

"That's the prophecy." He looked down at Connor, unable to look at Angel any longer. "The father will kill the son."

"I won't," Angel said. But he took a step back, and something in Angel's voice made Wesley realize that he didn't know if Angel was trying to reassure him or himself. "I won't. I -- I would never hurt Connor."

"I've tried everything I know to disprove it. Cross referenced every source, I even went to the Loa."

Angel blinked. "The what?" He shook his head dismissing it. Anger shaped his face. "Wesley, that's insane. I am not going to hurt my son!"

Connor stirred at the sound of his father's voice, crying a little in response to it. Angel heard it and stepped back again, twitching with guilt. "I'm not," he repeated, but once again he sounded unsure.

"You called him something to snack on," Wesley reminded him, the horror of the moment still strong in his memory.

Angel's hand clutched the bottle of formula as though he could take some kind of comfort in it. "He was starting to smell like food," he said, his own voice quiet and filled with shame.

That admission sent another frisson of alarm and horror down Wesley's spine. "And now?"

"I'm not going to hurt him!" Angel snapped. "What -- do you think I want to hurt my kid? Lilah set me up, Wes! She spiked my drink with my own son's blood. How do you think that makes me feel?"

"I know how it makes you feel!" Wesley shot back. "That's why I'm trying to stop it!"

"So research!" Angel said, stabbing a finger in the direction of Wes's office. "Find out who this demon is! Find out what he's got to do with Lilah! Find out why they're trying to get me to -- " his voice broke, even in fury " -- kill him."

"What do you think I've been doing?" Wesley asked, his own voice cracking. "Every source I could think of -- every source -- every possible translation. I haven't slept for more than a couple of hours since I found it. But all I've been able to come up with, the only solution I could find is to--" He shut up abruptly, before he could finish.

Angel paused, looking at Wesley as though seeing him for the first time. "Take my kid," he concluded.

Wesley tried to think of something to say, some way to deny it, but waited too long; he could see in Angel's eyes that his silence had confirmed it.

"You were going to take my kid away from me," Angel said, his voice filled with condemnation. "For how long, Wes? A day? Week? Year?"

"Until I knew he'd be safe." He didn't back down. He couldn't. Too much was at stake.

"And when's that gonna be, Wes?" Angel asked. He gestured with his hand to indicate the world outside. "Everybody's gunning for him. People I've never even heard of are trying to take him away from me. You trying to tell me you're doing it too? Christ, Wesley -- what the Hell is going on?"

"I'm trying to save you both!" Wesley yelled. "You think I want to--"

"You think I want to?" Angel shot back. Connor let out another cry at all the noise. Angel visibly restrained himself, then finally handed over the bottle.

"They're using me, Wesley," he said. "They're using me against my son. What am I supposed to do with that?"

Wesley took the bottle, giving it to Connor, who immediately quieted and began eating. Looking down at the baby, knowing that Angel was doing the same, Wesley finally answered quietly, "Don't let them."

"How can I give him up?" Angel asked. He shook his head, his eyes never leaving the child. "I can't. Wes -- I can't. I promised Darla. And... he's mine. He's all I... Wes, I can't."

Wesley stared at Angel for a long moment, feeling his resolve slip away. He'd known this would happen; it was why he'd tried to slip away before anybody found out. He couldn't look Angel in the eye like this and then take his son. "All right," he said, giving in and trying to ignore the voice that still whispered doubts in his mind. "We'll find another way."

Angel nodded, the movement slight as though he scarcely dared believe it. He reached out with a finger as though to touch Connor's cheek, but resisted, apparently unable to trust himself.

"Okay," Angel said. "Okay. We'll -- you'll research, I've got Lorne asking around with some friends, when Gunn and Fred get back maybe he and I can try beating up new people and... we'll figure it out. Even -- even if I have to call Cordy." Angel glanced at the clock. "Guess I can do that tomorrow."

"No. We can't wait for tomorrow." Wesley felt exhaustion weighing down his mind as he gave up the last of his secrets. "Holtz is coming. Tonight. That's why I was..."

Angel's gaze snapped back to Wesley. "He's what?"

"He's coming here. Attacking. I was to get Connor away or he would..." He looked down at the baby, unable to meet Angel's eyes after what he'd just admitted.

Angel's gaze was penetrating now, as though he were reading Wesley's soul. "You made a deal with Holtz? You spoke to Holtz? Behind my back?"

"I told you -- I've been trying every source of information. And no deals were made." Wesley sighed and added in a quieter voice, "None that either of us intended to keep at any rate."

"This demon, Lilah, Holtz -- it's not going to stop, is it?" Angel said, half to himself. "They're just going to keep coming and coming and nothing..." he trailed off, looking away. "What was the deal?"

"It was more of an ultimatum actually. I take Connor or he will. And kill everybody here in the process. I expect he then plans to take Connor from me; that's where our version of the deal diverged."

Angel looked skeptical. "He told you this himself?"

"Well not the part about taking Connor from me, obviously, but other than that..."

"He'd do it too," Angel said. "And the Hell of it? He'd probably keep Connor safe. Kill the rest of you for being with me but not him. Not even when I -- Okay. Tonight. Then -- we can't be here. Connor can't be here. We'll go, we'll warn the others, we'll make a battle plan."

Wesley nodded, handing the now empty bottle back to Angel and shifting Connor in his arms. "We have to go now." He'd get them away from the hotel, that was the first priority. After, he could decide what needed to be done. But for now, one step at a time. It was pretty much all his exhaustion fogged brain could handle right now anyway.

Angel nodded. He began to pat himself down, then went over to the office to get his coat and Connor's diaper bag. "Okay. You've got the car seat?"

"In the SUV." Wesley looked around him, at the lobby and his office just off it. It felt like the last time.

"All right," Angel said, clapping Wesley gently on the back and guiding him towards the door. "Let's go."


"No answer," Angel said, turning his cellphone off and looking at it in frustration. "Not with Fred or Gunn. Guess I could try the hotel but..." he trailed off, looking uncertain about this as a plan.

"No." Wesley put Connor, asleep in his carrier, down on the sofa, settling down beside him wearily. "If Holtz is there and the answering machine picks up..."

"Yeah," Angel agreed. He flipped his cellphone closed and put it into his pocket. He came over and sat down on the coffee table, casually checking Connor as he did. "Well if the gang can't find us for a bit then -- that's good, right? Holtz'll think you escaped with Connor."

"Yes, quite possibly." He rubbed his eyes tiredly. God, how long had he been awake? Sleep seemed like a distant memory. "Which of course means he'll be looking for me next."

"Right," Angel said. "So we can't stay here long. What were you thinking? Holing up in a hotel?"

"I was thinking of leaving," he replied heavily. "Before anyone -- Holtz or you -- could discover what I was doing."

"And going where?"

Wesley gave a humorless laugh. "Away."

"Like -- oh, right. Forever," Angel nodded, figuring out Wesley's meaning halfway through his own words. "Okay. So -- new plan."

"Right. New plan." The problem was that Wesley couldn't think of one.

"I'm not going to hurt him," Angel said quietly. He looked down at Connor as he slept. "I want him to be safe. With me. Let's have that plan."

"Just like that, eh?" Wesley shook his head. "Angel, I've been trying all along to figure out a way for that to happen."

"I stay with him, that's step one," Angel said. "Step two -- we get him somewhere safe. Away from Holtz."

"And now we're back to what I was trying to do."

Angel stood up, pacing thoughtfully. "Yeah, well -- that's the joke, right? There's no safe. Not for him. Everybody wants a piece of him. Hell -- I'll bet your next-door neighbor's trying to figure out how to worship him or use him in a sacrifice. It's not just Holtz. Even if we deal with him, there's everybody else taking a number. And now with this Sahjhan guy -- this is big-time screwed, Wesley."

"Indeed." A glimmering of an idea came to Wesley -- or perhaps more accurately a reworking of an old idea. "We could leave."

"Okay," Angel said, as though Wesley had done no more than confirm his own suggestion. "But where? Not many places in this town are kid friendly at this hour of the night, believe me."

"Not just here. But the city. Like I was planning on doing before."

"That could work," Angel said. "Like -- what? Santa Monica? Or even going as far as Frisco for a week?"

"The danger for Connor here isn't going to be any less in a week," Wesley said, reaching out a finger to touch the baby's hand as he spoke. He glanced up at Angel. "I'm talking about leaving for good."

Angel stilled. "Running away," he said, his voice betraying no hint as to what he thought of the idea.

"Yes." He watched Angel's face closely.

"For good."

"Yes."

"Just turn your back on everything. Abandon the good fight. Ignore the helpless and every vision Cordy ever gets from here on on and just go?"

Wesley raised his head. "Yes." He'd run over all of this in his own mind repeatedly while coming to the decision to take Connor in the first place. He didn't like any of it, but he hadn't seen any other choice.

"You could do that?" Angel asked, meeting Wesley's eyes seriously.

"I'd already had to make the decision to do so."And all the reasons he'd had then still held now; the only difference being that instead of taking Connor away from Angel, he would be taking them both away from those that would try to manipulate Angel into fullfilling the prophecy.

"Why?" Angel asked, geniunely puzzled. "Wes -- that's your whole life."

"I couldn't let the prophecy come true," Wesley replied, thinking that it was self evident.

"You'd protect him even from me, huh?" Angel said.

"Yes." He caught and held Angel's gaze. "I know what hurting him would do to you."

Angel's eyes grew darker, as though focused on some inner sadness. "That -- I --" he stopped, giving up on whatever it was he'd been about to say. He walked back to the table, sitting down again and reaching out to smooth Connor's blanket.

"If we went far, we could maybe do it," he said, not looking at Wesley. "Someplace quiet. Not LA. Rural, maybe. Hide where not even Wolfram & Hart could find us."

"I had worked out a few possible destinations," Wesley offered, watching Angel closely. "And I've a few other tricks to make sure we stayed hidden."

"Gonna need 'em," Angel said. His voice remained frustratingly neutral. "This Sahjhan guy can travel dimensions. Apparently his tracking's hit or miss though. We can probably poke holes in it."

"Quite certainly. Are we...going then?"

Angel was quiet for a moment. His long fingers splayed out over Connor's blanket, as though he could physically hold the child back from harm. "You know I thought about it?" he said softly.

"About leaving?" Wesley asked just as softly.

Angel nodded. "When Connor was born. That night I spent with him just -- just being with him... I thought - what kind of life is this? He's just a kid. He -- he's not at fault for the things I did. He shouldn't have to pay. And I thought --" he looked up at Wesley, as though he had the answer "-- would it be so wrong to just stop? To let him just be a kid?"

Wesley met Angel's gaze, then looked down at Connor, touching his tiny hand again. "He deserves a childhood. If we can give it to him."

Angel looked back at Connor. "Do you think he'll ever forgive me?"

"For what?" Wesley asked, looking back up at Angel.

"Giving up," Angel said. "Turning my back on it all just for him."

"I think," Wesley answered slowly, "that he'll know just how important he is to you, that you put him before duty and causes." He thought about his own father and how he had wanted just once to be more important than Watcher tradition. "That's going to mean more than you can imagine."

"I hope so," Angel said. He glanced at Wes. "How much money do you have? We can't go back to get anything I've got in reserve and Connor alone is going to eat up a lot before we even settle down somewhere."

Wordlessly Wesley got up and went over to the shelf. With deft, practiced movements he opened the puzzle box he'd been using as a makeshift safe, and pulled out the money he had withdrawn earlier that day. Coming back, he handed it to Angel.

Angel studied it, then nodded with approval as he handed it back. "That'll last a while. And if we need more... I can get some. As long as you don't care about where it came from."

"We're not much in a position where I can afford to care, are we?"

"Just wanted to be sure all the cards were on the table," Angel said. He looked up at Wesley. "I want you to be able to trust me."

Wesley looked at the vampire, wishing with all his heart he could answer that in the positive without a second thought, but the most he could honestly give was, "I want to trust you, Angel."

"You still think I'm going to hurt him?" Angel asked, his voice without rancor.

Wesley got up, moving restlessly around his apartment, ending up at the window, staring out into the night. "I don't know what to think anymore."

"I'm not saying trust me totally," Angel paused, as if he were considering his next words carefully. "They can use me against my own kid. Hell, I'm probably the most dangerous thing in his life when it comes right down to it. I know I can't make you any promises, Wes. Just -- trust me for when you can. And when you can't -- end it quick. Don't leave me alive if I can't be with him. I wouldn't want that."

Wesley swallowed, not even wanting to contemplate that option. "Angel--"

"Promise me, Wes," Angel said. "It would kill me to hurt him, and I can't live without him. If I'm a danger to my own child, stake me."

Wesley closed his eyes. This was why he'd decided to take Connor in the first place -- to avoid exactly what Angel was begging of him now. And he knew it was a promise he would have to give -- and keep if necessary -- no matter what it cost him. "I promise," he said in a barely audible voice, knowing the vampire would still be able to hear him. "If I can't keep him safe from you, I'll..." He trailed off, unable to actually put it into words.

Angel was behind him. With a small start Wesley realized he didn't even know when the vampire had gotten up.

"Thank you," Angel said, his voice soft in turn. "You -- you don't have to trust me, Wes. But I need to trust you. And -- I do."

The words meant a lot, especially considering what he had been planning. He nodded, then moved away, uncomfortable with how close to the surface emotions that he usually kept buried were. "I best pack if we're..."

"Yeah," Angel said, not pressing the issue further. "Need any help or should I...?"

"I've got it," Wesley replied quickly. "It won't take me long."

"Okay," Angel said. He moved back to the couch, sitting beside Connor. "Take your weapons. I've only got a few stakes on me. Something tells me we're going to need all we can get."

"Most of them are already in the SUV. The rest are in the bag by the door." Wesley nodded in the direction as he went into his bedroom and quickly packed some clothing.

"Any milk in the fridge?" Angel called out after him. "He'll need to eat soon. I can at least whip up some formula for the road."

Wesley tried to remember when he had last bought groceries. He had a vague recollection of doing so the day he'd acquired the text that had allowed him to translate the prophecy that started all this in the first place. That had been...God, had it only been a few days? It felt like... Shaking his head to get rid of the wandering thoughts, he called out, "There should be."

Wesley heard Angel go into the kitchen. "There's some. Just hit the sell by date but it'll do for now. We'll have to make a pit stop our first priority. Get some supplies."

While Angel bustled in the kitchen, Wesley finished packing his clothes, then pulled out another bag and went to look at his books and other things, trying to decide quickly which, if any, he could justify bringing with him.

Angel finished mixing a couple of bottles of formula, then fished around in Wesley's kitchen until he found a large ziploc bag. He poured ice into the bag, put the bottles in, then sealed it.

"That should last for a little while," he said. He wrapped the bag inside a dishtowel for good measure. "Anything else we can --" Angel stopped, a look of horror crossing his face. He put the small bundle he'd created on the kitchen counter and rushed over to Connor's diaper bag, jerking it open and rummaging through it frantically.

"What is it?" Wesley asked, pausing in his own packing and taking a step or two towards Angel.

"We can't -- he needs -- " Angel stopped. He reached into the bottom of the bag and pulled out a stuffed bear. Angel held it in his hands as though it were Connor himself. For a moment Wesley could see the exhaustion and fear that plagued the vampire as much as it did him.

"We couldn't forget Teddy," Angel said, as though this, more than anything else, was the most important thing. "He can't -- he cries, if he doesn't have him. I had to make sure."

The image of Angel, standing there holding a stuffed animal like it was the holy grail, drove home for Wesley more than anything else what could have happened if he hadn't changed his mind. If he had gone through with his original plan it would have destroyed Angel just as surely as the prophecy would have.

"I'm sorry," he blurted out.

Angel looked up at him in confusion. "Why? You remembered to pack it. Thanks."

"I was going to.... I'd planned... Dear God, I almost..."

Angel got up, coming over to put a hand on Wes's shoulder. "You didn't."

Wesley met his friend's eyes, still caught in the realisation of how big a mistake he'd almost made. "I thought I was doing the right thing. I didn't think..."

Angel gave Wesley's shoulder a brief squeeze. "You were protecting Connor. That's always the right thing."

"It would have destroyed you," Wesley whispered, wondering how he'd managed to blind himself to that until now.

A flicker in Angel's eyes told Wesley he hadn't been wrong. "It didn't happen," Angel said. "It's okay."

"I'm sorry." He couldn't seem to stop saying that.

"Hey," Angel said, meeting Wesley's eyes with his own. "Wes -- it's okay. You were trying to do the right thing. I can't blame you for that. And, in the future, I know you'll do the right thing again if you have to. Not everybody can stick to a hard decision. You can. It's why I trust you, even if I don't always agree with you."

Wesley took a shaky breath, trying to let go of the sudden horror of what he almost done. "You have no idea how grateful I am that I didn't stick to this decision."

Angel gave him a ghost of a half smile, adding a significant look in Connor's direction. "Actually, Wes, I think I do."

Wesley looked from Angel to Connor, to the teddy bear that Angel stil held. "Yes," he said softly, "I do believe you're right."

Angel gave Wesley's shoulder another squeeze, then let go. "Figured you might. Okay, do we need anything --" the sound of a ringing phone interrupted them. Angel looked over at the unit on Wesley's desk. "Do you think we should...?"

"No," Wesley said, even as his hand twitched in a reflex to answer it. "The machine will pick up."

Angel nodded, listening as the four rings passed, then Wesley's message played.

The beep sounded, and Fred's voice came from the speaker.

"Wesley? Are you there? Please pick up. Holtz and his guys just attacked the hotel and nobody can find Connor or Angel. Wes? Wesley? Where are you? If you get this -- call. We need you."

There was a click as Fred hung up.

Wesley stared at the machine for long seconds after the message stopped. "It's started," he said, a bit numbly. The others were in trouble, and were looking for him. And he was going to run away.

"Least Holtz kept his word," Angel muttered. He gathered up the bundle of formula, stuffing it and the bear into Connor's diaper bag. "We've gotta go. Now. Holtz'll probably check here next. If they just left the hotel they could be here any second."

"Right." Wesley moved to pick up the bags he'd packed, looking around the apartment, trying to see if there was anything vital he'd forgotten.

He saw Angel hesitate for a moment too and he wondered if the vampire was having similar thoughts. There was the game console where he'd played games with Gunn and Fred. Over there the table where their erstwhile family had sometimes shared meals. Over there the place where they'd planned outings and other get-togethers. All little reminders of what they were about to leave behind.

Angel's eyes were dark, his face impassive.

"We need to go," Angel finally said, picking Connor up by the carrier's handle and shouldering the diaper bag with his other hand. He paused, glancing at Wes. "I'm sorry."

"Yes," Wesley said, with one last look at the deritus of the life he was leaving behind. "So am I." He looked down at Connor, then up to meet Angel's eyes. "Let's go."


"We've got plenty of time before daylight stops us," Angel said, his voice somewhat muffled as he bent halfway into the car to strap Connor's carseat in. "And we can go beyond that if I'm under a blanket. But we'll need to make stops for him every couple of hours or so."

"We'll manage," Wesley replied, putting his bags in the back of the vehicle. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the sight of some movement in the nearby alley.

It was probably nothing; someone carrying out their trash. But it might not be.

Pulling his gun from the back of his waistband where he stowed it, he told Angel he'd be right back and headed down the alley.

He heard a moan. Then he saw the figure more clearly. Someone, possibly female, stumbling towards him with her arms wrapped around her waist.

Wesley stopped, tightening his grip on his weapon. "Who's there?"

The woman sobbed, falling to her knees. She looked up at him and through the dirt and bruises Wesley was startled to see Justine. "You were right," she whispered.

"Holtz did this?" Wesley asked softly, as he moved closer. She didn't look like she'd be much of a threat in her current condition, but he made sure not to lower his guard -- or his weapon.

Justine nodded. "God - he's everything you said."

"What happened?"

"Well he didn't keep his word," she replied. A bitter laugh escaped her. The sound was so pained it was closer to tears than to even the most ironic humor.

The sound hit a chord with Wesley, having heard the same laugh come from his own throat recently. He lowered the gun but didn't put it away as he moved to offer her a hand back up.

Justine struggled to get back onto her feet. She came closer, the damage on her face looking worse and worse as she came into the light. "He took everybody," she said. "He went after the baby. And when I questioned him --" she winced as though reliving one of the blows.

"Never question a fanatic," Wesley advised. "They don't take it well."

"I'll kill him for this," she said, coming closer. She looked around, as though afraid of being followed. "But you -- you need to get out of here. Where's the baby? God -- did he get the baby?"

"No," he quickly reassured her. "Connor is safe."

"Where?" she asked. "We could -- I'll help you. We'll take him someplace Holtz can't find him. I know places. Places I never told him about."

Alarm bells began to go off in Wesley's head at her sudden eagerness. "Thank you, but we've already got it well in hand."

Her eyes -- swollen as they were -- narrowed. "We? Who's --"

Her words were silenced as out of nowhere a pair of hands appeared and effortlessly snapped her neck.

"Me," Angel said, unnecessarily. He looked down at her dead form as though waiting for it to rise again.

Wesley stared, feeling some of the same horror he had when faced with Angel's behaviour after the earthquake. He didn't like the feeling that he was staring at a stranger. "Angel, what--"

Wordlessly Angel bent down and reached for something in Justine's hand -- the one she'd kept tightly wrapped around her waist, even when Wesley had helped her to her feet.

He stood up again and held it out.

It was a knife.

"That's what," Angel said. Then, with a gesture almost like disgust, he threw the weapon down onto the ground and stalked off towards the car.

Wesley stared at the knife for a long moment, his mind going through what would have happened if Angel hadn't...

Justine would have attacked him, might have even killed him. He'd let his guard down in spite of himself. Luckily for him Angel hadn't.

Angel, who for a moment, he'd thought... No wonder Angel was disgusted with him. He was disgusted with himself. He owed the vampire another apology.

With that thought in mind and one last glance at Justine's body, he headed back to the car.

"We got everything?" Angel asked, as though absolutely nothing had happened.

"Yes." He looked over at Angel. "I'm sorry."

Angel paused, then gave Wesley a look which was fraught with double meaning. "Good thing I was here."

Wesley held his gaze. "I'm glad you are," he said softly.

Angel double checked Connor's carseat, closed the car door, then climbed into the passenger's side. "C'mon. We need to get out of here."

Wesley nodded, agreeing with him. He climbed into the driver's seat and keyed the ignition.

He had no idea of where they were going, but at least it was a start.

 

Fin

 


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