Title: The Day After the Apocalypse
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Category: A:tS, The Day After Tomorrow
Summary: This is the way Wesley's world ends: not with a stab, but a shiver. 1000 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: AtS through "Not Fade Away" (5.22); Scenery from "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004)
Notes: Both the episode and the movie in question aired in May of 2004. My timeline may not match the exact airdates, but since neither of them (that I'm aware of) mentioned actual dates, I'm going to ignore any discrepancies.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And will suffice.
-- Robert Frost, "Fire and Ice"
It is often said, among those in great need with no simple way to reach their goals, that the end justifies the means. But when those means are orphaned without allowance for an end, their purpose denied and stagnating in their inherent evil, how does that measure against the soul?
Wesley Wyndham-Price stared out over the vast, frozen, tattered landscape that had been Los Angeles, and felt the chill down to his bones.
When the sky had fallen, when the tornadoes had torn Wolfram and Hart's local headquarters from its foundations as though the towering building were no more substantial than the Hollywood sign, none of the former Angel Investigations team had been inside. They had been gathering supplies together, pursuing one last day of freedom, planning to undo the devil's work they had helped facilitate over the last several months and go out in a blaze of glory. None of them had paid the least bit of attention to the television news, assuming that whatever strangeness was transpiring would surely pass as it always had. After all, it was common knowledge that none of the weather forecasters ever got things right.
But then the wind had come, and the snow, and the ice. Many of those who had survived the initial destruction had made their way into Mexico before the continent spanning superstorm passed over, but there had been no question, to Wesley, of his joining that exodus. Not without determining whether any of his co-workers yet lived, and with so much of their work left incomplete and half-done. Illyria had stayed with him, unwilling to leave her guide, and her remaining power had been enough to keep them both from freezing as the temperatures worsened. Few of the others left behind had been so lucky. The power and gas lines had stopped working long ago.
The Circle of the Black Thorn had disappeared as though it had never been. Undoubtedly, the powers that were at Wolfram and Hart had concealed them, sending them to warmer climes. The death of the Guardian of the Deeper Well had therefore come to naught-- and the world had even more to fear now from the potential escape of his former charges. Not all hells were molten; more than one of those imprisoned in the Well would find the Earth's new climate hospitable indeed, and should they gain a toehold in currently unpopulated areas they would be impossible to remove.
Wesley could do nothing about that at present, however. All he could do was try to preserve what little he could from the ruin around him. The Council offices in Cleveland must surely have survived; whatever and whomever he could salvage would surely be welcomed there. He would not allow himself to dwell on the possibility that it might be otherwise.
He had gone to Connor's dormitory first, nagged by a lingering sense of responsibility for the boy's fate. It had escaped the initial demolition by the tornadoes, but Wesley found no sign of Angel's son anywhere inside; from the volume of items missing among Connor's things, it seemed likely that his adoptive family had taken him away before the worst hit. For that small blessing, Wesley had permitted himself to be thankful.
Gunn's fate had not been so pleasant. Wesley found him at the shelter where he and his friend Anne had stayed to try and help as many children of the streets as they could. Few of the homeless had trusted the government enough to join the evacuation, and most of those left had perished in the ice and snow. Gunn had appeared almost peaceful in repose, though his dark skin was unnaturally gray and frosted in death; Wesley could do nothing for him but set the shelter to burn, to prevent the inevitable scavengers from desecrating his flesh. He wished him well in the afterlife, though he truly doubted he-- or any of Angel's team-- still deserved a place in Heaven.
Of Angel himself, and of Lorne, there was no sign. It was always possible that Lorne had found a dimensional hot spot and portalled back to Pylea, but Wesley rather doubted it. He feared both friends had perished, but knew no immediate method of confirming their fates. After a cursory check of the likeliest locations, he and Illyria had gone looking for the last name on the list: the other souled vampire, Spike.
They found him much as they had Gunn: caught by the storm, a rime of frost glazing his open blue eyes and his muscles frozen in a posture of protection. He'd been in a club when everything went to pieces-- doing what, Wesley couldn't imagine-- and had apparently stayed in the area trying to help as many people as possible. Perhaps he'd believed his demonic nature would protect him from the cold, but even a being with no need to maintain breath or body heat was susceptible such a drastic drop in temperature.
Illyria had surveyed the frozen figure with a wary eye, then pronounced her pet 'not significantly damaged' and proceeded to thaw him. The result had been messy, leaving him a mostly incoherent, hungry being whose mental and physical processes were not quite up to par after having ground to such a sudden halt. They'd been forced to thaw another of the fresh corpses in order to feed him, a young woman much the age Fred had been with a book of poetry clasped in her hand. The sight had not disturbed Wesley as much as he knew it should.
Perhaps he would recover. Perhaps he wouldn't. As Wesley stood at the city limits of Los Angeles staring into the frozen North, he found it increasingly difficult to care-- or even to specify whether he meant Spike or himself by that observation. They were damned, all three of them-- human, vampire, and former god-- and the fact that they were all still living (or un) made no real difference.
Their Hell was already here.