Angel followed Wesley through the library, impressed by both the condition of the place and Wesley's knowledge of it. There certainly seemed to be a lot of the latter, as Wesley kept up a pretty much continuous monologue about the library as they walked.
It was, Angel knew, mostly an attempt by the human to not think, which was a reaction Angel could readily understand. It was just the sheer amount of information that Wesley was spewing forth in the attempt that staggered Angel. It made him feel better about his agreement to take Wesley back with him; anyone with a brain like that, Doyle was going to jump at recruiting.
Still, as impressed as he was by the continuing monologue, it did kind of all start blurring together after a while, and other than how smart Wesley was, it didn't tell Angel much about the man. In an effort to change that, he waited until Wesley paused to take a breath and asked, "So what did you do before you found this place?"
The question seemed to take Wesley off guard, as if he had been so focused on talking about the library that he hadn't expected any attempt at conversation. He blinked at Angel, and the vampire thought he might just ignore the question and continue, but after a moment, Wesley sighed and turned away. "What does anyone do these days?" he asked softly. "I did whatever I needed to, to survive."
Angel well knew what kind of things people -- especialy lone pureblood humans -- often had to do to survive. He found he didn't much like the idea of any of them happening to this particular pureblood human. "Was it... very bad?" he asked, not sure he wanted the answer.
"Bad enough, I suppose." Wesley gave a half shrug, still not looking at him. "It could have been much worse -- I know that -- I have skills that kept me alive in more ways than one -- I saw what can happen to those who don't, but...." Finally he glanced over his shoulder at Angel, the corners of his mouth turned up in the barest ghost of an ironic smile. "Shall we just say I was quite grateful to have found this place and not just for the sudden expanse of reading material at my disposal."
"You found a safe haven." Angel could understand the yearning for that, the utter relief at finding a place where one didn't have to be on guard all the time. It was, at the heart of it, what they were trying to do with Unity.
"Yes, exactly. Although even here, the outside world sometimes penetrates -- take your own presence for example. And not all those incursions turn out as well as yours has. Sometimes they bring violence with them." Wesley lifted his chin a little and ran a finger along the ugly scar on the left side of his throat. "That's how I got this."
Angel had noticed the scar and had wondered how Wesley had got it, but he found himself, just now, not wanting to picture Wesley being cut any more than he'd wanted to picture any of the other bad things that had surely happened to Wesley. "What happened to whoever did that?" he asked, wondering if it would be possible to track them down and brush up on his old torturing skills, and not looking too closely at why he had such a burning desire to do so.
"It was a gang of feral humans. I'm still not sure how they got past the wards -- although my best guess would be that one of them had some innate, instinctive talent with magic. I didn't have a chance to ascertain that for certain." Wesley paused, and then continued in an almost conversational tone, "None of them left this place alive."
"Good." The word slipped out before Angel thought about it and earned him a faint if rather bloodthirsty smile from Wesley. Which just went to reinforce what Angel had surmised during their initial meeting -- Wesley was more than just a pretty brain.
He did regret though that there wasn't anyone left he could torture. Some people truly deserved that.
"I won't be a hindrance on the outside," Wesley said, an almost challenging note in his voice. "I'm well capable of defending myself."
"I never doubted it," Angel replied, surprised that Wesley thought he had. "You made a real vivid first impression with the shotgun and those magic bullets of yours."
The faint smile on Wesley's face grew a bit bolder. "It was have been an ever greater impression if I'd actually fired."
"Yeah, have I said thanks for not shooting me?" Angel asked, suddenly, if belatedly remembering his manners.
"You hadn't, but I will take it as a given." Wesley stopped in front of the next door in the corridor, one marked Head Office. "I suppose I should say thank you for not eating me as well."
"You're welcome," Angel said, with a nod. Honesty forced him to add though, "I don't actually do that anymore. Eat humans, that is."
Wesley paused in the act of opening the door to turn and frown at Angel. "You don't?"
Angel shook his head. "Not as a general rule."
"Then how do you-- I thought all vampires needed to drink-"
"Blood? We do. It just doesn't have to be human blood. I survive on mostly animals." Angel left off the occasional slip that happened in the heat of battle; he didn't want to confuse the issue any more for Wesley, and every time he had slipped it had always been someone who had deserved much worse.
"I see." Wesley seemed to continue to mull that over as he finally opened the door and led the way into the room beyond.
A glance around told Angel that this was where Wesley had made up his living quarters. There was a couch with blankets and a pillow that was obviously Wesley's bed, as well as a small supply of food squirreled away on shelves and tables in the corner. In the opposite corner lay what could justifiably be called an armory; all kinds of guns and crossbows lay in various states of repair and refurbishing, and there were two large sheathed swords leaning against the wall. There was a large backpack sitting by the head of the couch; Angel surmised that any of Wesley's personal effects were stored in there. Most of the rest of the available surface space in the room seemed taken up with books of all kinds and descriptions.
"So this is your den, huh?" Angel asked, turning around to make sure he hadn't missed anything. "Cozy."
Wesley shrugged. "It serves its purpose." He sat down on the couch and regarded Angel curiously.
After several long moments of this, Angel began to feel the need to fidget. "What?" he asked.
"This not drinking human blood," Wesley began, leaning forward, "Is that because of Unity?"
It wasn't a question Angel was expecting, but he could see how Wesley got to it. "Well I'm sure it makes Doyle -- he's the guy in charge -- happy that I don't look at half the community's population as potential snack food, but no. I've been laying off the human stuff since long before the burning."
The next question Angel could see coming a mile away, and Wesley didn't disappoint him. "Why?"
Angel smiled. "Because I have a soul."
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