Wesley looked around the empty suite once again and frowned. He'd taken the vampire at his word and enjoyed the shower until one more minute in it would have officially turned him amphibious. In fact he'd taken his enjoyment for so long that he fully expected that Angel would not only be back from his mysterious errand, but waiting impaitently for his own turn.
Finding an empty suite instead was rather jarring.
He told himself it was nothing to worry about; he'd probably just overestimated the amount of time he'd spent in the shower, or underestimated how long Angel meant by "a couple of minutes." If he waited patiently, Angel would be back soon with whatever... thing had been so important. It was no big deal. Really.
That didn't explain why Wesley was growing increasingly worried the longer Angel was gone.
It was all ridiculous, really. Angel was a vampire. He'd been alive for over two centuries. He was more than fully capable of taking care of himself. Worrying about him was a waste of emotional time and energy.
But still, as a small voice in the back of Wesley's head kept reminding him, Wesley himself had got the drop on him only a few days before. Angel wasn't infallible.
He managed to ignore the small voice for a while, or mostly so, passing the next hour in pacing and casting many worried glances at the door.
An hour was about his limit. Unable to sit still -- or more accurately pace -- and do nothing, Wesley decided to go looking for Angel. If nothing was wrong and the vampire was just being slow, no harm would be done if Wesley tracked him down. And if Angel was in trouble, well then. Wesley would be able to do something about it.
He gathered up one of the portable lamps that the room was lit with, as well as his weapons up, hoping that he would have a chance to be embarrassed at being so well armed for a simple walk in what was supposed to be a safe house, and left the suite.
It had occurred to Wesley during his hour of pacing that he really had no idea where Angel had been heading, so consequently no idea where best to start looking. All he could do was make his best guess and search as thoroughly and logically as he could. And it seemed to him that logically, the place to begin his searching was the car.
If it was there, then the chances were good that Angel was still somewhere in the building, or not very far from it. If it was gone... well, that opened up a whole new unpleasant range of possibilities that Wesley didn't want to think about until he had to. But he was hoping that the car was still there.
Wesley opened the door to the stairwell and stepped out onto the landing. He was about to take his first step down when something caught his eye in the lamp's wavering light: a series of small dark spots along the landing and down the stairs.
Kneeling, Wesley brought the light closer, revealing the spots' colour as a deep red. He reached out and touched a spot; his finger came away covered in a slightly tacky red liquid.
It was looking more and more unlikely that Angel had just lost track of time.
Investigating further, Wesley discovered that this was neither the beginning or the end of the trail of blood droplets; the trail led both up and down, with no clue as to which way it had been made. Assuming this was Angel's blood, Wesley could follow the trail, but he wouldn't know if he was following it to where Angel was now or to where he had started bleeding until he reached its end.
Indecision froze Wesley on the landing for several long moments, before he finally accepted that there was no way to know for sure and the best he could do was go with his instincts and hope he was right. His instincts were telling him down, so down he went.
The blood trail led him down to the main floor towards what once would have been a ball room. But he didn't need it to track once he stepped out of the stairwell; the sound of noise and laughter were more than enough to tell him which direction.
The sound of screams told him what he was likely to find.
Turning off his lamp, Wesley did his best to approach without being seen. Once upon a time, he'd been very good at hiding in the shadows; although he hadn't needed to do it in a while, Wesley found the old skills were still there. It took a while in which time there had been far too many screams for Wesley's comfort, but eventually he worked himself close enough to get a good look at what was happening.
It was a band of humans, ones who had gone feral, Wesley decided based on their appearance and rather ripe odour. Not to mention their idea of a fun party game.
There were 8 of them, all fanned out in a circle around a figure bound to a chair with energy bonds, which meant that at least one of them was a mage of skill enough to hold a vampire in place, because it was Angel in the chair.
The vampire's head was down and it was obvious that he was in a great deal of pain. He'd been stripped to the waist and his chest was streaked with blood and covered with welts and burns. Angel's trousers were in tatters and his legs weren't in much better condition.
As Wesley watched, he got a demonstration of just how Angel had got into that condition. One by one the vampire's captors took turns inflicting injuries on him, each of them with a different weapon. There were knives, whips, a red hot piece of metal, what look like a simple water gun, but the way Angel reacted and the burn it left behind was obviously filled with something more toxic than plain water. Holy water maybe, Wesley's old knowledge provided.
The worst of all was the mage; when it was his turn, he would touch Angel with hands turned to green fire. It was those touches that were wrenching the screams of pain from the vampire; everything else he endured in silence.
Wesley's fingers tightened their grip on his shotgun at the sound of Angel's scream. What he was watching made him sick, made him sorry to be a human if this was what humans did. It made him so mad that it was like a red haze was descending over his vision.
He wasn't going to let them hurt Angel any more -- in fact he was going to make sure they didn't hurt anyone ever again.
"Why don't you pick on someone who can fight back?" Wesley said, quite loud and clear, pulling all of Angel's captors' attention away from Angel and onto him. That was what he wanted. He wanted them to see who it was who was going to kill them.
His first shot took out the mage, blowing his brains out the back of his head. His second caught the man with the red hot metal in the throat.
After that, it got messy.
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