After leaving -- well, not 'leaving,' as that implied that he had had a choice. After being forcibly expelled from Angel Investigations, Wesley had taken some time before fully readjusting to being what he had once called a rogue demon hunter. He supposed that title was more fit now than it had been two years ago, but while he had been quite proud of it back in the day, these days he regarded it with a kind of grim resignation. Rogue. He didn't love the term much anymore.
Fighting demons as an unpowered human without any kind of backup was bloodier work than he had ever envisioned as a Watcher-in-training, but Wes was getting the hang of it. This fight in particular was a two-axe job, as the first one had been kicked across the floor mere moments after Wesley had found the demon's nest, forcing him to resort to hand-to-hand combat for the few moments before he could reach for the second axe he had with him. That was when he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a humanoid figure as it bent down and lifted the first, abandoned axe from the floor - but Wesley wasn't distracted, neither by the presence of the figure nor the gruff "Need help?" that came from it.
There was a time when Wesley would have been delighted by the timing of Angel's arrival, as that very moment was when Wes succeeded in slicing off the attacking Werdhn'a demon's head and shoulders with a clean swipe of his backup axe.
About time, too. "No," Wesley said. "Thanks."
He bent down, not allowing Angel's presence to distract him from what he had come here for, and reached for the pocket of the odd robe the demon had on. He found there a large silver key card with a number on it. "So Mr. O'Leary's being kept in a motel," Wes muttered as he straightened up, wiping the blood-splattered key off on his trousers before slipping it into his pocket. "How original."
He would have to find the address of this place so that he could find and free his client's husband and close out the file -- actually, the sooner, the better. Wes picked up his second axe and his weapons bag, reaching for a cloth to clean the weapon.
"So you're still doing cases, huh?" Angel said, regarding Wesley with the kind of impassive expression that only Angel could achieve. Wesley said nothing. "I never got a chance to thank you. Finding me. Bringing me up. Must have been hard for you."
"I kicked Connor out," Angel continued. "You know, 'cause he was the one who put me there. Which... I guess you already figured out. You did good work on that, by the way."
Wesley knew where this was going. He balled up the cleaning cloth and tossed it to the side, then went to collect his other axe to give it the same treatment. Angel followed him, evidently perturbed by the lack of eye contact.
"Look," Angel said. "What went down between us -- I had a lot of time down there to think. You know, about the way things went, the way they could have gone, and as far as I'm concerned, we're okay again."
Wesley stopped his cleaning job halfway through. He moved away from Angel again, but this time he wanted Angel to follow, and wasn't irritated when he did. He hauled his metallic briefcase onto the nearest table and extracted from it a thick file, held together by binder clips. His file on Cordelia's disappearance.
He held it out to Angel, who had been unsubtly sniffing the air as though Wesley wouldn't notice. Wesley was quite sure he knew whose scent Angel was picking up on, but he couldn't bring himself to care.
Angel accepted the file, asking, "What's this?"
"What you came for," Wesley said. Angel hardly would have made his way down here simply to exchange niceties with someone he'd almost asphyxiated mere months ago. Wesley wasn't an idiot, regardless of what Angel seemed to believe.
Angel looked up, taken aback. "You did your own investigation?"
"I don't believe she's dead," Wesley replied. "I can't say for certain, of course, but she doesn't seem to be in our dimension any longer."
That was enough to get Angel going. Wesley likely wouldn't be needed to continue the investigation from this point on, and he wasn't certain that he wanted to anyway. He loved Cordelia - she was the only one he couldn't actively resent for his banishment, as she hadn't been present at the time - but he lacked Angel's resources and his contacts. The fact was that Wesley could barely manage simple slice-and-slay cases, so bargaining with other dimensions was quite out of the question.
He walked back toward his weapons, tossing the clean axe in the bag along with the half-clean one. He'd finish the job later.
Angel looked up from the file. "Who's Dinza?" he asked.
There was a brief informational blurb, if Angel would just continue reading, but Wesley rattled off anyway, sounding tired, "One of the Eleusian mysteries. A dark demi-goddess of the lost. Only the dead can enter her presence, and those that do, she often traps for eternity."
He'd memorized that when he was fifteen.
"Sounds cheery," said Angel.
Wesley ignored him. He swung his weapons bag over his shoulder. "I located her lair, but obviously wasn't able to enter myself."
"This Dinza can tell us where Cordy is," Angel concluded.
"No," said Wesley dryly. He was already on his way toward the exit, briefcase in hand and weapons bag across his torso. "The most she'll tell you is where to look. Just beware. Dinza isn't remotely trustworthy."
He left, then. A part of him was proud that he'd achieved enough word of mouth that Angel had been able to find him, and enough credbility and success that Angel had sought him out for information at all - but mostly he felt like a fool. Being around Angel or Fred or Gunn or any of them these days just reminded him of his mistakes.
[[adapted from angel 4x02 "ground state." nfb/nfi.]]