Disclaimer: See Part 1 Chapter 1

SHADOWED SOULS Part 4

Chapter 13

As he walked towards the stairs to the fifth floor away from the balcony overlooking the lobby, Wesley kept his face bland as he met Giles, Robin and surprisingly Andrew Wells. Wesley suppressed the urge to raise an eyebrow pointedly as he took in Robin and Giles' identical sulkily defensive expressions, their crimped lips, flushed cheeks and narrowed eyes forming the classic dyspeptic petulance of someone who has heard hard truths they would rather not acknowledge.

Andrew looked particularly 'trembling fawn' like and Wesley allowed himself a slight smirk at the youth. When Andrew had come to LA to find Dana Parvati, he had treated Wesley as though the Englishman had washed out, unable to cut it as a Watcher. Now the little twerp had had his eyes opened to the feet of clay possessed by Mr Rupert Giles, and glimpsed an inkling of the terrible price Wesley Wyndham-Pryce had paid for his choice to be a good guy. Let's hope there would be plenty of sleepless self-examination taking place at the Hyperion tonight.

Without a word, Wesley went up the stairs, the thick pile of the carpet muffling his footsteps. He and Fred, or rather Illyria, had commandeered one of the hotel's top-floor Penthouse Suites, and since nobody was inclined to argue with, as Xander termed it, "the psycho-Smurf", they suffered no crowding. Wesley paused as he felt the change in air pressure, a subtle warning of a presence that wasn't Fred. A tall slender woman with a bad red dye job slid out of the shadows, smiling at him.

"Justine." Wesley acknowledged. "What a non-surprise."

"Oh come on." Justine shrugged. "It wasn't that risky. Who's going to notice one more poppy in a field of them," she waved a hand to indicate the surrounding rooms packed with Slayers. "I've been watching the show from the rotunda all night – and you've got a problem."

"Who?"

"Watchers, comma, The." Justine replied, effectively answering any question as to how much she'd heard of what had transpired this evening – of course the rotunda roof would be the best place for anyone to listen in, since from that vantage point the lobby's perfect acoustics would come off better than Digital Surround Sound.

"The Watchers were here…the old Watchers?"

"Yep. They're not happy with you…or Rupert Giles for that matter. Very cutting," Justine smirked, "but the important thing is that they were sat outside the hotel in those FBI-type transit vans pointing parabolic mikes at this place, starting from about fifteen minutes before you and Angel took your little post-prandial stroll into the ether."

"So they know…"

"Everything you said. The Dark Slayer's up the duff, Buffy Summers should be had up for spousal abuse. Angel the fluffy watches Friends." Justine rolled her eyes at his wooden face. "Seriously though, you really lit a fire under them when you said 'Rutherford Sirk'. They really don't like him, more than they don't like you and your vampire buddy."

"Rutherford Sirk has been the Watchers Public Enemy Number One for years." Wesley commented.

"Yeah, well, get ready for them to gatecrash your little council of war session in the belly of the beast tomorrow. From what I could hear, they think that Sirk's going to have to show up in person to whack the Slayers and they intend to take him out themselves. They certainly have no intention of letting a pair disgraces to the Watchers like you and Giles do it, because you'd probably make a…'complete cock-up of it' anyway?"

"I see." Wesley considered. "Sirk probably will have regrouped by tomorrow and he may well go for the big showdown by teleporting in with his group. His ego will demand he publicly swats us like flies, and he's certainly spent enough time at Wolfram & Hart to know all the secret ways in." Plus whatever little booby-traps he, Eve and Lindsay set up while Angel and Spike were safely out of the way chasing that ridiculous Cup of Perpetual Torment, Wesley mused. "At the risk of repeating myself, it may be imprudent for you to be lurking around tomorrow."

"Yeah, that's why I wouldn't miss it for the world." With a grin, Justine gave him a mocking salute and walked away, presumably back to whatever rooftop skylight she came in by.

Wesley didn't follow to secure her exit – any burglar or rapist type who broke in tonight would definitely deeply regret (assumed he survived at all) invading a hotel containing scores of Slayers, the world's most powerful witch, two vampires, the Scooby Gang, Team Angel and a ten-million year old warrior demon –

Who was standing right there, watching the departing Justine Cooper.

To be continued in Shadowed Souls Part 5

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