Wesley hadn't been sure what to think when he'd gotten an anonymous email telling him to show up at this club tonight, alone. Certainly, it could be someone with Angel Investigations -- Fred, ideally, or maybe Cordelia -- but it could also be someone trying to trick him. But then again, he wasn't really all that relevant in the demon-hunting world lately. Who would want to start trouble with him?
He'd found his way to an upper balcony, overlooking the club patrons dancing below. They were waving glowsticks, dancing to an unbelievably annoying computerized-sounding beat and knocking back shots. Wes wanted no part of it: before coming here, he'd choked down a frozen dinner and some subpar red wine in his dimly-lit apartment, and that was all the entertainment he needed for the night.
He didn't have to wait long before a distraction presented itself in the form of a cool, smooth voice. "I see you got my invitation."
Wes didn't need to turn to know who it was, but he did anyway. "Lilah," he said, feeling as though he should have known it was her. "Of course."
Was he really becoming so lonely that he'd forgotten that she was the only person who'd wanted any contact with him lately? Who had an actual agenda
with him? Of course she would play on his desperation for human contact to get him out in the open.
But then, what could she do to him here that she couldn't do in his apartment? She'd already tried
persuasion when she'd had a vast array of evidence about Wesley's personality to draw from and failed. How would this setting be any different?
"I thought the 'come alone' part was a particularly nice touch," said Lilah, leaning against the balcony railing. "I mean, how else would you come?"
Not in the least bit stung - it wasn't nearly enough of a surprise that she'd gone there for him to be hurt by it - Wesley made a soft, dismissive noise in his throat. He didn't mind playing along with Lilah's game when it was at his home, on his terms, but this was too jarring. He turned to leave, only stopping when he felt a hand on his upper arm.
"Don't rush off," said Lilah. "Just look over there."
Tiredly, Wesley looked in the direction that she indicated. Down below the balcony, a woman with red hair sat at the bar: Justine. The woman who'd cut his throat and stolen Connor. The woman who came in a close third place as far as blame for Connor's current location was concerned -- just behind Wesley and Holtz.
"I went to a lot of trouble to arrange this little show for you," Lilah continued.
Show? No, that was it; Wesley didn't want any part of this. "Goodbye," he said without affectation, and he started to walk away.
Then Lilah played the card that she'd undoubtedly been waiting with bated breath to reveal: "Okay, but leave now and you'll miss her little death scene."
For an instant, the flashing club lights illuminated something very intent on Lilah's face -- curiosity? "Don't tell me you wouldn't like to see the bitch that slit your throat and left you to die get a little of her own back," she said.
What -- where were they? Was there an explosive of some kind set up, or... no, that wasn't Lilah's style. Vampires, more likely. This wasn't a vampire club -- Wesley had been carded at the door and had the hand-stamp to show for it, which vampires would never have bothered with -- but perhaps it simply had a large number of vampire guests tonight?
He stood very still. "What's going on here, Lilah?"
"Someone," she began, then laughed shortly, "-- can't
imagine who -- tipped her off that this place would be filthy with vampires. Which, as it turns out, is true."
Aha. "Right," Wesley said. "Because that same source tipped them off that she
would be here."
Justine had been building up quite the name for herself in Holtz's absence. Even a man with as few connections as Wesley did these days knew that.
"Seems she has been pissing off quite a few undead Americans lately," Lilah said with a smirk.
There was that look again: curiosity, or something very like it. Wesley took Lilah in for a moment, then shook his head. "And you thought I'd enjoy a box seat for her slaughter," he said.
"Well," Lilah said, with a brief little chuckle, "yeah."
Because Justine had hurt him, Lilah thought Wesley would want to see her killed. Well, either Lilah hadn't done her research or she thought he'd changed quite a bit more over the past several months than he really had. She thought he'd want to see death because he killed vampires? Because he had been trained as a Watcher, conditioned to participate in the fight against all things dark and evil? She thought that made him an advocate for the pointless murder of someone who was, in truth, as lonely and desperately dependent as he was?
"You really don't know the first thing about me, do you?"
It was hard to tell in this light, but he was fairly sure that Lilah blinked. "Probably not," she said, still sounding cool and composed. But then when he turned away in disgust, she followed up with, "Like, will he go straight to his car, or will he stop to warn her first?"
Wesley stopped in his tracks.
She was getting to him more than he'd expected tonight.
He wasn't looking at her, but she apparently didn't need to see the look on his face to evaluate the situation. "He has to think about it," she narrated. "That's good. That's all I really wanted to know." She released his arm and Wesley realized he'd forgotten that she had had her hand there. "You can go."
And now he was certainly turning, but it was back in her direction, so he could see her face. "A test
, Lilah?" he said.
"Oh, don't look so grim," she replied. "I just needed to know whether or not I was wasting my time. And, to prove we're still friends, I'll have her pulled out of there before anything really
lethal happens. That way you don't have to torture yourself as to whether or not you did the right thing."
A surprising concession from Lilah. But not, as it turned out, a necessary one; a familiar sweep of a coat down below caught Wesley's eye, and he spotted Angel in the crowd.
"I don't think that will be necessary," he said, advancing toward the railing.
Lilah stepped up to the balcony beside him, evidently interested. Her eyes fell first on Angel, then on a slightly smaller figure beside him who Wesley had already spotted: a teenage boy with long hair and ill-fitting clothes. He clearly wasn't from Angel Investigations, and his face didn't look familiar from Sunnydale, but he and Angel were talking. They were here together.
Intently, Wesley watched their exchange without comment; the boy had his hand on Angel's shoulder at one point, tilted his head in curiosity as Angel spoke at another. Meanwhile, Angel's body language communicated tension, but not directed at his interlocutor. He seemed... patient
Then Angel handed the boy a stake, and set off toward the bar while his companion hung back. Wesley could only assume that Angel had said something to the boy to make him stay put, because there was a kind of annoyed stubbornness in this stranger's posture as he waited.
It wasn't long before that changed, however. At the bar, Justine stood up and made to leave, but the bartender grabbed for her and a few patrons moved forward to assist him; as Angel advanced forward toward the charging vampires with a stake at the ready, Justine grabbed hold of the bar and kicked one of her attackers with both feet, propelling him backward onto Angel's stake and into dust. Then a number of other vamps charged forward, all wearing their vampire faces, and Angel's friend darted forward to assist. He was graceful and quick, quicker than anyone Wesley could think of who wasn't a vampire or a Slayer, and when he launched toward one particular vampire with his stake at the ready, he had the stake through the vamp's heart before his opponent could even get in a punch. Immediately afterward, he dodged a blow from another vampire, maneuvering to quickly put a stake through her back before promptly swinging over the bar to help Justine up from where she'd just fallen, holding out a hand to her as if they weren't in the middle of chaos.
"Who's the boy wonder?" Lilah asked, sounding genuinely curious. Wesley was certain that she could act convincingly innocent when she wanted to, but this was no trick: the boy really hadn't been a part of her plan. "He moves just like..."
And Wesley knew. He knew
he knew, and the realization activated an incredible amount of anger and hurt inside of him. Without taking his eyes off the spectacle below, he finished for her, "His father."
Wes could feel Lilah's eyes on him, and he understood where she was coming from: he, too, had seen enough. Still, he watched the fight for another moment, just until Lilah looked away. As soon as she did, he was finished. There was a fire escape he could access without even needing to go back to the ground floor. He thought he'd use it.[[nfb. from angel 3x21, "benediction." whee so close to done with s3!]]