See Chapter One for Disclaimer
I just awoke from the most horrid nightmare, and my heart is still racing, my brow covered with perspiration.
I dreamt that Faith had come to try and kill Angel, and had taken me hostage. What she did after that…. No, I shan't write it down; that would make it too real. Better to let the memory of it fade.
It was the oddest dream I've ever had. Even now, it feels like someone has just walked across my grave; or perhaps they stayed there and did a bit of a tap dance.
I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that I'm a bit unsettled. After all, what Angel and I saw in that place, after his old mentor called for our help-
--That scene will likely be the cause of many nightmares for me.
At least the part about the torture was purely a product of my imagination.
Although… where in the world did I come up with 'five basic torture groups'?
"Angel?" Wesley stood in the entrance of the building and peered over the scorched wreckage of the auto that was wedged there. He carried a flashlight, but he wasn't using it now. He knew that if he were to shine the beam inside, the light would reveal the same scene that had sent him stumbling from the structure a few minutes earlier. As it was, the wisps of smoke still rising from the burned out car were not enough to completely mask the stench from within. That smell, combining the worst aspects of a sewer and a slaughterhouse, would likely haunt him for a long while to come. It was the smell of death; death on a scale he'd never expected to encounter.
From the darkness within the building he heard a sound.
"Angel?" He called again. This time he was rewarded by the sight of a light approaching, and a moment later the vampire bounded lightly up onto the shell of the auto, and then down to where Wesley stood. His expression was grim, and he held something small in his free hand. The Englishman took in his expression and grimaced. "Was it more of the same?" Angel nodded.
"Yeah, a lot more." He turned around and looked up at the building looming silently over them. "There are at least two hundred people in there; all of them dead."
The ex-Watcher gaped at him for a moment.
The vampire turned to face him once more.
"I know. Faith is psychotic, but I wouldn't have thought her capable of something like this."
Wesley found himself grasping at other possible explanations.
"Perhaps it wasn't just her. You said that these all seem to be gang members of some kind, perhaps Faith has joined up with a rival gang, and this is the result of some struggle between them." Why he was looking for some way to lessen the crime he didn't quite know, except that he'd been Faith's Watcher, however briefly, and he felt somewhat responsible for her. Well, that and the fact that he had been a large part of what had driven the girl into the darkness, and to the Mayor's side.
Angel, however, soon dashed his hopes.
"I think that there were others helping her; all these wrecked cars came from somewhere, and there are spent shell casings all over the place out here." He turned away from the building and started walking, heading towards where their own car was parked. "Inside, though; that was all Faith."
Walking beside the vampire, Wesley still found that difficult to grasp.
"But not all of the… victims were killed with a blade. Some of them were shot." He had seen that much for himself, before he'd been forced to leave the gruesome scene. Angel merely shrugged.
"A lot of them were shot, a lot of them weren't. Either way, it was Faith." He raised a finger and tapped the side of his nose. "Hers is the only blood trace in there that doesn't belong to a dead man. Or woman."
The Englishman's eyebrows rose a fraction.
"You can discern that, in the middle of all of that?"
"A Slayer's blood has a very distinctive scent. And believe me, she left behind plenty of hers behind." He reached his car, but he didn't climb inside. Instead, he used his keys to open the trunk. "We should check any hospital or medical clinic in the area, she might have gone there to get patched up."
Wesley watched as the vampire sorted through various items inside the trunk, removing several, including a pair of gasoline cans that gurgled as he set them on the ground.
"I doubt that she would trust herself to a hospital, but it's worth a shot." He scanned the area, wondering if any of Faith's new friends might be watching them even now. More to the point, what if Faith herself was to appear? "I don't like the idea of the girl adding firearms to her arsenal. Though of course that would help explain how she managed to kill so many by herself."
Angel paused, giving his assistant a sidelong look.
"Wesley, her using a gun doesn't make this any less incredible. Sure, she was armed. So was every person in there. I mean every one.
" He straightened, looking at the deserted area where they stood. "The fact that she managed something like this, then managed to walk away from it…." He shook his head, bending to pick up the items he'd removed from the trunk. Wesley brought the cans of petrol as they headed back. The magical paraphernalia the vampire carried would let them summon a fire elemental, provided there was a suitable source of fire to act as a portal. Hence the gasoline. Destroying the crime scene would hopefully help prevent the police from connecting Faith with the grisly murders. Not that the two of them didn't want the girl captured and punished for what she had done. It was just that if the police were the first ones to reach her, there would very likely be even more names to add to Faith's already very impressive list of victims.
As they began the preparations for the summoning, a thought occurred to the former Watcher.
"What about Buffy?"
Angel didn't look up from what he was doing.
"What about her?"
The man had that flat tone of voice that came on whenever the Slayer came up in conversation.
"Well, isn't she on her way? Perhaps we should wait, let her see this so that she knows what she's up against."
Angel finished arranging the magical components, and moved to pick up one of the petrol cans.
"You're right; she could get here any minute." His eyes met those of the Englishman, and they were determined. "That's why I want to hurry. Buffy's already lost any self-control she still had, so far as Faith's concerned. If she sees what's inside there-" A nod towards the silent building. "-then she'll drop everything to hunt her down. I don't want to see her throw away her life trying to find Faith."
"I see." He watched the vampire walk a slow circle while pouring the gasoline in a steady stream. "There might also be a very valid concern that if Buffy were to find the person who did this, she might not be the one to walk away from the confrontation." His employer didn't answer, but he didn't need to. Wesley spared a moment to stare towards the east. "It will be dawn soon. If Faith is still here, we may find her tomorrow night, but if she's running…."
Angel stepped back to survey his handiwork.
"If she's running, then the trail will be cold by tomorrow night, I know. Don't worry, we'll find her sooner or later."
Wesley eyed him suspiciously.
"I must say; you sound very confident of that."
Angel raised an eyebrow of his own, then reached into his pocket and removed the small cloth-wrapped bundle that Wesley had noted earlier.
"Let's just say that I found some things up on the roof that might help point the way."
Whatever was in that bundle, they were small. A few small spots of crimson stained the white cloth, and Wesley decided not to ask what it contained. Instead, they turned to the business at hand. Better that the world at large not know the scale of the terror that ran free in the night… for now.
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