Disclaimer: Don't own, etc., etc. Joss Whedon rules supreme and retains pretty much everything. Only written for personal enjoyment and because this plot bunny just wouldn't die, even after some serious staking…

NB thanks for the positive reviews I've received from readers for The Scroll of Niamh, the first in my The Blood Will Tell series. This is story #2. For the sake of American/Non-English readers, please be aware that I am a British authoress, and though I have tried to use American English terminology, there are differences. For example, in America, there is only "curb" but in England, I step off the kerb but curb my desire for more chocolate, which is why those two words are spelled differently.

Summary: Sequel to The Scroll of Niamh. Wesley's common sense takes great pleasure in pointing out how bad an idea it is in allowing a punk vampire to be your roommate, because a soul has no bearing on a creature's ability to be relentlessly obnoxious…Rating T – M, consists of Three Chapters. Occurs literally on the same day after Spike is made corporeal again.


Chapter Three – Of Rage & Relatives

Entering his apartment, Wesley didn't retire to his bed despite it being the small hours. Instead he went to a cupboard and pulled out a rolled up scroll that he stretched out over the large dining table. He placed the Orb in one corner but didn't attempt to use it. Another factor was that an Orb required about twenty-four hours to "orient" itself on a particular work before being really useful. Seating himself at the table, Wesley's fingers traced the letters and pictograms, drifting over the chunks of missing parchment, accustomed to the chill that always danced up and down his spine.

Who had she been, this Niamh who had written the most incredible prophecy this or any other dimension had ever seen, and then managed to keep it so totally off the radar that only this tattered copy remained shoved in a forgotten sub-basement? Assuming it was a copy. Wesley rubbed the edge of the worn parchment between his thumb and forefinger; if it was the original, then Niamh certainly hadn't been human – or had been far more than human, for the thing had been written over considerable time in several languages, not all human – just like the Shanshu.

The scroll was arranged in randomly sized blocks, some of text, some of hieroglyphs, some of pictographs. Some read left to right, others top to bottom, a couple were even tight spirals where the words rotated into a centre. There were large gaps where vermin had caused the destruction of sections, along with other damage, the blackened spots indicated that the Scroll had been partially burned in fire at least once, and there were bloodstains on several sections.

Ys Mahju e nahzruthim-ensuallu, Ih suesn ota suesn, elt ota naia, ys ellir aeraha-ensuallu ota ys suesnerasu. Wesley shuddered as the events of the past couple of weeks replayed themselves in his memory. The Mage of the Vampires-ensoulled, he would choose blood over blood, old over new, the companions of the heart-soul over the blood sire. Wesley had finally translated the words on a Wednesday night, while Spike was out in the city. Less than twelve hours later his father – or rather the cyborg pretending to be Roger Wyndham-Pryce – had walked into Wolfram & Hart. Strangely Wesley had had no struggle coming to terms with what he had done on that rooftop, recognising that subconsciously he had fought that internal war and made his choice years before the confrontation had actually happened.

Wesley understood he himself had to be the Mage because he was the closest thing Angel, and now presumably Spike as well, had to a pet sorcerer. The companions of the heart-soul had presumably referred to Fred who he couldn't seem to stop being in love with, and to a lesser extent Lorne, Gunn, Angel and Spike. He had chosen them over his father without hesitation, even in the face of his own death. Wesley had fully expected his father to kill him in order to snatch Angel, which was why he had moved to the edge of the roof in the first place. If his father had fired, Wesley would have died, either from the shot or the fall, but the crystal would have been shattered either way and Angel's free will restored.

Wesley had been in expectation of some similar situation since the day Angel had "hired" him to work for Angel Investigations. Wesley had long since learned to view the world without rose-tinted spectacles. Both the Shanshu, which Wesley increasingly took with a pinch of salt, and the Scroll of Niamh, which he certainly didn't, clearly stated before the "vampires with souls" got to go Pinocchio and be real boys again that an apocalyptic battle had to occur, and apocalypses – or apocalypsii, depending on your viewpoint - tended to rack up a high body-count factor.

It was a hard truth that some of the heroes weren't going to make it, like Tara Maclay and Anyanka 'Jenkins' back in Sunnydale and Francis Doyle…and Cordy…here. Wesley had long since freely admitted to himself, though he kept it from everyone else, that he didn't really expect to survive to the Happy Ending either.

Despite his pessimistic thoughts, a smile touched his lips. Trust Fred to try to make him feel better by suggesting that subliminally Wesley had "known" Roger Wyndham-Pryce was an impostor. He had known no such thing – he had believed that the cyborg was his father, Wesley had simply been prepared to kill him to protect them, and if it ever came down to the real deal, the Englishman knew he would do the same thing again. That had been the reason he had walked away and vomited – he would kill his father for his friends, and not really regret it. Just add another tortured twist to the mess that was the Wesley psyche.

The choosing of blood over blood had confused him, and during his week off work "recovering" from the cyborg incident, Wesley had, far from resting, feverishly researched the peculiar passage. Willow and Andrew and a couple of the more techno-genius Slayers had been transferring the Watcher Archives to cyberspace at a mystically enhanced rate, and it was in one of these that Wesley found the incredible reference. Thaddeus Percival had been a Watcher for eight-two years and a Watcher to two short-lived Slayers. Besides rampant sexism and a colossal ego, he had also been the most boring windbag for a good half-millennium, and his prose was drier than the Sahara – the Watcher Academy tutors had assigned reading of the Percival Diaries as punishment, and the Academy's nurse as a cure for insomnia.

It was Percival who had spotted the fearsome foursome of Angelus, Darla, Drusilla and Spike, and had erroneously recorded Angelus as Spike's sire – and put another eighty odd years onto the bleach blonde's age, assuming that the 'blond companion' of Angelus' slaughter since 1753 was the young male and not Darla. Giles had started the training of the new Slayers and the surviving Watchers, and in their last phone conversation had explained with vindictive satisfaction how he was using Percival as the example of how not to do it.

The previous Watcher Council, including the usually shrewd Quentin Travers, had had a tendency to take the Watcher Diaries as Gospel, which was a dangerous thing to do. When Percival had written that entry in 1880, he had simply presumed Spike was two hundred years old and Sired by Angelus, when in truth Spike had been sired barely a week before by Drusilla. It would have been the ideal time for a Slayer to take him out, had she known how new Spike was, instead of which he had been avoided as an old and experienced creature of the night, allowing him to progress and murder dozens of people. The Watcher Diaries weren't infallible.

Rolling up the Scroll, Wesley checked his watch and put it away in the cupboard, but didn't bother to hide it that much, just as the collection of leather-bound notebooks were within easy reach. The cliché of hiding in plain sight was simple but true; people tended to hide away "secrets" whereas things left out for all and sundry to see were not important. Spike had quickly ferreted out the books that Wesley had taken care to put out of the way, but hadn't bothered to look at those the ex-Watcher left in easy reach. After the Watcher Council had fired him, nobody had bothered about Wesley's diaries, and not a living – or a dead – soul knew that he had continued with them. Handwritten when he was alone, their existence left no traceable imprint on the world.

Slowly Wesley pulled out a notebook whose pages were only a quarter filled, turning to the currently penultimate entry. After assuming Spike to be two centuries old, apparently Thaddeus Percival had just made some more wild guesses and written them as fact, for in expounding Spike's 'origins' the snobbish Percival had contemptuously recorded that his father had made his wealth in "base commerce", being of "common blood" before dying of appendicitis before his posthumous son's birth at Newgate to a wife Percival didn't even bother to name. Only the first assertion had been correct, yet another reason why Giles and the "new Watchers" were happily utilising Percival so extensively as an example of everything that had been wrong with the old Watchers Council.

Base commerce had made Spike's father considerably wealthy in an era when many old families were living on their names and little else; as for common blood, Lucas de Vere came from a cadet branch of the Earls of Oxford. Spike's mother had probably never been near Newgate in her life, since Anne de Vere came also from gentry, her father being Theodore Wyndham-Pryce, third son of the 5th Baron. Blood over blood, old over new: Wesley's ancestors had been Watchers for centuries, but in the Howard family; Percival had died half a year after Wesley's great-great-grandmother Honoria Howard had married his great-great-grandfather, Theodore's brother, Arthur Wyndham-Pryce. Nobody had ever managed to plough far enough into Percival's tedious records to come across the clues to the connection. Spike's father had been Wesley's great-great-great-uncle, making Wesley and Spike distant cousins.

Despite it being only half past four in the morning and he had not slept in twenty-four hours, Wesley didn't go to bed but instead left for work. The Scroll of Niamh was beginning to haunt him, and the only way to push it aside was to immerse himself even more in the machinations of Wolfram & Hart…

To be continued.

© 2005 C. D. Stewart