Disclaimer: "Angel", along with all related characters and concepts, was created by Joss Whedon and Co., so they don't belong to me, while "Charmed" characters and concepts belong to Constance M Burge. Anyway, enjoy
Feedback: As always, I'd appreciate it
AN: Hope you like this conclusion to Wesley's arrival on the scene; a few obvious changes from canon at the end, but I thought it worked
The Love of a Vampire
Even as he ran into the flat, a part of Angel knew that he was already too late to protect his friends from the killer they'd unintentionally invited into their midst, but he was still slightly disappointed at the sight of Paige lying unconscious on the floor of the flat, with no sign of Barney or Doyle.
"Paige!" he said, focusing on what he could do right now as he crouched down beside his lover, urgently checking her over for any sign of any serious injury; his relief when he found nothing more significant than a slight bump on her head was surpassed only by the moment when she moaned and opened her eyes.
"Ugh..." Paige groaned, blinking her way back to consciousness. "What... what happ- DOYLE!"
"He's not here," Angel said, looking urgently at his partner even as she forced herself out of his arms and stood up, looking around the apartment as though searching for their missing friend. "What happened here? Was it Barney?"
"How'd you-?" Paige began, looking at Angel in surprise.
"The Kungai's horn was taken by something that it described as a red-skinned heart-reader; it wasn't hard to make the connection after we heard that," Angel said, looking anxiously at her. "Are you all right?"
"Headache, but I think I'm fine apart from that; but... Doyle's not here?" Paige said, her eyes once again briefly scanning the apartment before her gaze settled back on Angel. "But... why would Barney snap like that?"
"We're working on it," Angel said.
"This is all my fault!" Wesley said, sitting down in a chair in frustration.
"We both made the choice to leave earlier; that's not your fault-" Angel said.
"I should have known," Wesley said. "All this time, I've been tracking the wrong demon; if anything happens to Mr Doyle because of me-!"
"Look, Doyle's not exactly incapable; will you stop just brooding about how things went wrong and-?" Paige began.
"Idiot!" Wesley said, hitting his forehead with the palm of his hand in exasperation. "I couldn't keep my Slayer stable, and now this?"
"Sorry; what's that about your Slayer?" Paige asked, looking at Wesley curiously, the shock of Doyle's abduction temporarily replaced by curiosity about this more immediate question. "I thought she... well, you said she died-?"
"Oh yes, she died, after she decided to ignore everything the Council stood for!" Wesley said, glaring over at the witch in frustration. "I tried to help her focus on her duty, but the bloody upper-class lifestyle she'd enjoyed for years was more important to her than protecting the innocent, and then she went and blamed me when her mother was killed by a demon sacrifice while she was out with her friends, all because she couldn't take the fact that she wasn't entitled to everything at once!"
"Uh... right..." Angel said, a glance at Paige all he needed to confirm that she was equally stuck for how to respond to Wesley's current rant of self-loathing.
"I mean, considering how it ended, I'm surprised they didn't just cut my head off; what fool reaches a point where he has to kill his Slayer?" Wesley asked, rolling his eyes in frustration as he sat down in a nearby chair. "I catered to her arrogant belief in her own superiority because it was easier to do that than to try and convince her that being chosen was nothing but chance, and then I didn't bother to put my foot down when she wanted to do something else on the night of a crucial sacrifice and she ended up blaming me for everything because I didn't guess what would happen; she was helping demons attack us before the Council stopped her! I'm a fool! A useless, great, snivelling-!"
"Look, you can berate yourself about past failures later; right now, we need to focus on working out where Doyle actually is," Angel said, glaring at Wesley for a moment- it was clear that Wesley had some issues about what had happened to his Slayer, and it would probably be a good idea to have Phoebe talk to him at some point given her own psychology background, but this was far from the time to explore those issues in depth with Doyle's life on the line- before satisfied that the other man would stay quiet as he turned his attention back to Paige. "Can you sense him?"
"I've been trying, but no luck," Paige said, shaking her head in frustration after a momentary pause to double-check. "I don't know if Barney knows what I can do or if whoever took him just wanted to shield that place from magic anyway, but I can't sense him."
"Great..." Angel said, sighing in frustration before his eyes fell on a piece of paper lying on the ground. Picking it up out of curiosity and a lack of alternative courses of action, he unfolded the small ball of paper, and found himself looking at a strangely familiar image...
"What's this?" he asked, showing the drawing to Paige.
"That?" Paige said, looking at the object in question with a brief shrug. "Just something Doyle saw in his vision; he'd been trying to sketch it in case he could get a better idea of what it was, but we were still stuck on just figuring out if it was part of something or what..."
"I know this," Angel said, looking at Paige with a slight smile.
"You do?" Paige said, new hope on her face at this news.
"It's a sculpture by Van Gieson, Maiden with Urn," Angel explained, turning to show it to Wesley; turned on its side, it looked more like a figure slouching rather than someone holding anything, but it was possible to see what the sculptor had intended. "Doyle saw this in a vision, and if Barney's been hunting demons with particular talents, it doesn't exactly seem impossible that this latest vision was about that; if we can work out where this sculpture is right now, we might be able to figure out where Barney took him."
"We?" Wesley repeated in surprise. "You mean you-?"
"You helped me work out that Barney was behind this, and you helped me track that Kungai in the first place; just because you screwed up once doesn't make you a failure," Angel said, looking firmly at the Watcher to make sure that the other man understood and accepted what he was saying; he didn't know the precise details of the situation Wesley described, but nothing he'd heard suggested that it was Wesley's fault. "What happened to your Slayer sucked, but we have a possible clue, and you still need to figure out what that Kungai was talking about."
"You mean regarding the Klu(click)ka?" Wesley asked,
"Exactly," Angel said, nodding firmly at the Watcher. "You're the only one here with a hope of translating that, so get translating."
He wasn't comfortable putting this much faith in a stranger when a friend's life was on the line, but he didn't have much choice; if Paige couldn't find Doyle, Leo definitely wouldn't be able to, and anything capable of stopping Paige finding someone would probably also block scrying efforts, so their best bet right now was research.
Taking in his surroundings, Doyle wondered what higher power he'd insulted to deserve this kind of treatment; he could get that the visions were part of his penance for failing to save his fellow Brachens from the Scourge all those years ago, but how did that translate into him deserving to be abducted for some screwy auction where people were only leaving him alive because his eyes were worth more intact?
God, what was it with people and the eyes of seers? It was the brain that processed the damn visions anyway; he wasn't sure if his eyes ever actually processed anything or if the visions just went straight to his mind...
The really annoying bit was that there was nothing he could do about it; they knew that he had visions already, so it wasn't like they'd decide to let him go if he tried to convince them that his visions weren't in his eyes.
Besides, considering that he was talking about a bunch of people twisted enough to find it funny to buy a Tak horn and talk about stabbing their wives with it, this wasn't exactly the kind of crowd that inspired hope that they'd be sympathetic if you tried to reason with them.
He thought he'd seen how low the demon world could get, and then he'd seen just what Barney was capable of; how screwed-up did an empath demon have to get to actually enjoy feeling others' pain while beating them up?
All that crap Barney had sprouted, bringing up everything from his reasons for keeping his demon side secret and his fears about his feelings for Phoebe... why the hell would anybody want to feel that on top of inflicting physical pain (He wasn't sure if being an empath would mean that Barney would feel physical and emotional pain, but surely the emotional would be bad enough)?
Seriously, if only he could do something to stop the bidding that was going on around him; he was never comfortable bragging- and in any case pushing the price up wasn't exactly how he wanted to buy time, even if he'd had faith that it would work-, blinding himself wasn't an option as that might not stop the visions, and he was still too weak to be sure that even his demon form's strength would be enough to get him out of his current bonds, so what was left...?
As the bidding offers rose around him- under other circumstances it might have been weirdly flattering to learn that he had a 'gift' worth over ten thousand dollars, but right now it was just frustrating-, Doyle groaned and slumped back down on the table where he was currently strapped; apparently, all he could do was hang around and hope that his friends found him in time.
He might like being the guy who saved people, but he was definitely starting to see why others didn't like it when they had to be saved; it was so damn annoying being totally subject to the whims and preferences of other people to get anywhere, even if those whims were the only thing keeping him alive right now...
God, he wished that Angel would get here soon.
"Van Gieson's Maiden with Urn," Angel said, looking at the picture on the computer screen; it was better-illuminated than the drawing, but it was still clearly the same thing. "It was sold to the Ramsey Hotel chain in '82; if we can identify which hotel it's in, we can use that to find Doyle."
"On it," Paige said, turning on her laptop and starting to run another search, glancing over at where Wesley was studying another book. "Anything on your end?"
"I keep running up against a translation for Klu(click)kla, which translates as Caller Sale..." Wesley said, his tone speculative as he thoughtfully studied the boom his hands. "Caller... Caller Sale... Yes, of course! I know what Klu(click)ka is."
"What?" Angel asked, as he and Paige looked sharply at the ex-Watcher.
"Auction," Wesley replied.
"Doyle's at an auction?" Paige said, looking at Wesley in surprise as she quickly ran over everything they'd learned about the situation so far. "They're going to sell Doyle?"
"No," Angel said, a grim thought occurring to him as he processed this new information. "If what they did to the Kungai's any indication, they're going to see the most relevant bit of him..."
"His eyes?" Paige said, her own widening in horror at that idea. "They're going to cut out Doyle's eyes to sell them?"
"Not if we can help it," Angel said, standing up and looking firmly at Paige. "Can you get us there?"
"Get us there?" Wesley repeated in confusion, even as he followed the vampire's example. "How-?"
"Just hold on," Paige said; not even thinking about the possible consequences of what she was doing- thoughts of giving away her secret would be given thought when they had saved Doyle's life- as she grabbed Wesley's shoulder and took hold of Angel's hand, concentrating for a few moments on the address that Angel's research had discovered...
After the wildest and most uncomfortable orb she'd ever experienced- it felt like she'd been running against a violent storm for a few moments, even as she'd managed to keep her mind focused on the target destination-, Paige emerged in a large area that was clearly the lobby of the hotel- thankfully empty; it was probably too late for anybody to be bothered checking in at this time-, releasing her grip on Angel and Wesley's shoulders as she took in her surroundings.
"What the-?" Wesley began, before he looked at Paige in sudden inspiration. "A Whitelighter?"
"Half; my father was a Whitelighter, so I inherited a few extra traits even if my mother was human," Paige clarified, smiling briefly at Wesley in a hopefully reassuring manner before looking at Angel as he studied a display board on the wall of the hotel. "Any luck?"
"There's a private function taking place in the main ballroom tonight, scheduled to end in a few minutes; it's the most likely location of the auction," Angel said, turning to look at the other two. "Just so we're clear, we go in, find Doyle, and get him out; how's that sound?"
"Doable," Paige said, nodding grimly at her boyfriend despite the slight apprehension in her stance; she'd never tried orbing three people with her before, but if it was her friends' lives on the line, she'd give it her best shot.
"I'm in," Wesley said firmly.
"Right," Angel said, his expression firm as he looked at his friends (He'd consider what it meant that he was already thinking of Wesley as such later; the man might be unfamiliar, but he'd come through for them so far). "Focus on just knocking out anyone we find in there unless we have to; if these people are human, we don't want the attention of a potential murder charge on top of everything else."
After exchanging further nods of confirmation, Angel led Paige and Wesley along the corridor until they reached the room where the even that was almost certainly the auction was taking place, Angel kicking the door down before any of the nearby hotel staff could object.
As they took in the sight of Doyle lying on a table on a stage at the head of the room, with a group of people sitting in chairs before him, Angel and Paige didn't even need to speak to decide on their strategy; Angel charged into the thick of the group, the auction attendees already getting to their feet as he hit them head-on, Angel quickly taking out the mostly-human bidders with a combination of his vampiric strength and naturally-acquired training while Paige ran around the edges and up to the stage to rescue Doyle. She was briefly confronted by Barney, the previously seemingly-passive empathy glaring at her as he brandished a strange claw-like device that Angel was prepared to bet would have been used to take Doyle's eyes out once business was concluded, but before Paige even had to dodge the first punch a hole suddenly appeared in the side of Barney's head, the demon falling to the ground almost instantaneously.
Glancing back, Angel was surprised to see Wesley pointing a gun at the stage- he hadn't noticed the ex-Watcher using that weapon earlier, but it was possible that he'd just been focused more on looking for more traditional anti-demon weapons and had therefore missed the gun-, but the feel of someone hitting him in the back with a chair drew his attention back to the fight at hand as he automatically kicked out at his would-be attacker. Even with their limited combat experience- evidently this auction was attended mainly by the junior representatives rather than anyone with actual power; someone with the connections to use Doyle's eyes should have been capable of more than this-, the auction guests might have been able to overwhelm Angel with sheer weight of numbers eventually, but with Paige already working on freeing Doyle, Angel decided to avoid wasting his time any further.
"Wes; the stage!" he yelled over at the ex-Watcher before he launched into a rapid spinning kick that knocked down most of the auction guests in his immediate vicinity. Taking advantage of the space this created, Angel ran for the stage where Paige and Doyle were located, briefly registering Wesley running for the same location before they both reached their destination (Angel was glad he'd made a note to limit his speed to human-level fast; it was sometimes hard not to go all-out, but he'd spent enough time with the Halliwells to know to adjust it down). As he joined his friends, Angel noted Doyle's condition with a relieved smile- he'd taken a few knocks, but otherwise he seemed to be as fine as he'd been before he was captured- before Paige placed a hand on Doyle and Wesley's shoulders, leaving Angel to place his hands on her shoulders and smile at her as they vanished into the white light of orbing.
"Nothing?" Angel asked, looking curiously at Paige.
"Not so much as a peep," Paige confirmed, grinning back at Angel as she closed the last news web site. "Could be anything from the hotel wanting to cover up a breach in their security or the auction-holders not wanting to let their potential customers know how badly they screwed up, but the end result is the same; nobody's making a big deal about what we did in any newspapers."
"But you've got Phoebe and Darryl keepin' an eye on it, right?" Doyle asked, looking anxiously over at his friend. "I mean, I get why nothin's up yet, but we can't be sure..."
"Who?" Wesley asked.
"My sister and a friend of ours," Paige clarified. "Phoebe's an advice columnist for the Bay Mirror and Darryl's a lieutenant in the police; they help us find some of our cases."
"Ah," Wesley said, nodding in understanding. "Good contacts to have."
"Talking of good contacts," Angel said, looking curiously at Wesley, "with this case over, where are you going?"
"Back on the road," Wesley said firmly. "Us rogue demon hunters rarely know where we're going, but wherever evil lurks, wherever the forces of darkness threaten humanity, I'll be there."
"Sure you wouldn't rather just hang around here?" Doyle asked.
"Pardon?" Wesley said, looking at Doyle in surprise.
"We'd never have managed to rescue Doyle in time if you hadn't understood what that Kungai was telling us, and you showed that you know what you're doing in some areas even if... well, to be polite about it, your hand-to-hand could use some work," Angel said, looking briefly apologetic at his bluntness towards the Watcher before he focused on the central topic at hand. "What matters is, we could use someone with your background, and you... well, from what you told us, you sound like you could use a few friends."
"Gotta admit, I agree with my boyfriend here, Wes; you've got the knowledge, and we've got an agency that lets you use that knowledge, so why not pool our resources and use them both?" Paige said, smiling encouragingly at her new friend. "We're an odd group, but we get the job done, and we'd probably get it done more efficiently with you to give us some research-related help... if you'd like to stick around?"
Looking at the three people standing around him, casual yet hopeful expressions on their faces as they studied him, Wesley smiled.
"Why not?" he said at last, even as he tried to sound more casual about it than he obviously felt (Paige didn't need Phoebe's degree to guess that Wesley had been doubting his worth ever since he was fired from the Council; being asked to stay by people who knew what he'd done would almost certainly mean a lot to him). "It... might be interesting."
"Cool," Paige said, smiling at him. "Welcome to Angel Investigations, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce."
It might be a somewhat impulsive hire, but after the way that Wesley had proven himself in this case, Angel felt that the guy could use a sign that someone had confidence in him, given how things had apparently ended in his tenure at the Watcher's Council.
Besides, this agency was primarily based on the idea of redemption being possible; if he was open to that possibility for himself, he had to be willing to give others the chance to make up for their mistakes. Wesley might have apparently failed as a Watcher to a Slayer, but he'd helped them save their friend and he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, even if he was a bit lost at the moment- Angel barely knew the guy and he was already doubtful that the 'rogue demon hunter' thing was for him-; he could be a capable ally if given the chance, and Angel was going to give him that chance.
He just hoped that it wouldn't take too long to find the right time to reveal that he and Doyle weren't exactly human...
AN 2: Hope that met with everyone's approval; coming up, a look at a very particular threat from "Angel", as Phoebe finds herself experiencing an uncomfortable déjà vu...