Title: From the Shadows
Author: Jedi Buttercup (jedi_buttercup @yahoo.com)
Disclaimer: All your Buffy and Angel are belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & etc.
Summary: Jonathan and Wesley adjust to their new lives and prepare for what's yet to come.
Spoilers: Up to B:tVS "Normal Again" (6.17), after A:tS "Sleep Tight" (3.16), AU with some borrowing through end of season(s).
Series: 6th of 12 in Lesser Men series
Notes: Originally posted in November of 2002. Caveat lector. The title was borrowed from a Tolkein poem in "Lord of the Rings". The full line is, "A light from the shadows shall spring".
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Chapter One: Welcoming Committees
"He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day."
Some days, thought Jonathan dully, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.
Surely it hadn't all been a dream? He hadn't just imagined getting fed up with Warren, fleeing Sunnydale, and getting mixed up with a bunch of British guys. No way. He couldn't have made up that thing about his real father, or the prophetic weirdness about Angel's son, or any of the other events of the past few days. Right?
Right. So his sudden reappearance in Sunnydale, complete with a back-slap on the pavement and his former partners grinning evilly down at him? Knowing his luck, this probably wasn't a dream either.
"This is not good," Jonathan said, taking in the scene around him.
"Oh, I don't know about that," Warren answered, sinking down into a crouch in front of him. He didn't look any friendlier up close; Jonathan could practically see the glee dancing in his eyes. "It's good for me. I got to claim vengeance on you."
"For what, being smart?" Jonathan blurted.
"You made a deal with us," Andrew chimed in, hovering just behind Warren. As always lately, he was feeding off of Warren's mood. It was so easy to forget, looking at him now, that Andrew and Jonathan had ever been friends. Maybe Andrew had taken his identity as "blond" to heart the way he had "super villain"; that was as good an explanation as any for his fickle behavior.
"You broke the deal," Andrew continued. "And now you're going to pay."
"I'll just be going now ..." The third voice sounded female, and vaguely familiar.
There was someone else here? Jonathan sat up carefully, and turned so he could see all three people at once. Oh, of course; her being here made sense. They *had* mentioned vengeance. But didn't she give that up a long time ago? He thought he'd overheard the Scoobies mentioning it once … and sometimes, he still just *knew* things about them anyway, fragmentary memories from his super-Jonathan day. Well, maybe he remembered wrong.
"Anya?" he asked, half-question, half-accusation.
She nodded at him. She'd done something curly to her hair today, and it bounced cheerfully around her face, at odds with her serious expression. "No one here is very happy with you, you know."
Somehow, he didn't think she was referring to his former partners-in-crime. "Yeah, well. I did try to leave Sunnydale, but you see how well that turned out." He waved a hand at Warren and Andrew, then planted it back on the asphalt and pushed himself to his feet. He could feel fresh bruises twingeing as he did so.
"Oh, get over yourself," Andrew groused, and gave him a half-hearted shove.
At least, he tried to. Jonathan blinked as Andrew's hand stopped short an inch in front of his shoulder.
"What the ..." Andrew objected. Then he tried again, with equal lack of success. "Warren, something's wrong."
"Wuss," Warren said, swatting the back of Andrew's head. "We've played this game before. He's not all that great at shielding, remember? You just gotta hit harder." Then he stepped up in front of Jonathan and gave him a powerful right to the gut.
If this *had* been one of their old power games, the punch probably *would* have taken Jonathan down. But it wasn't, and the shield wasn't coming from him to start with. Warren's fist was stopped as suddenly as Andrew's hand had been, an inch from Jonathan's stomach, and a thread of hope lightened Jonathan's mood.
"Men," Anya said, crossing her arms in front of her. "Not only do you make boring wishes, you aren't specific about them at all. I should just stick to scorned women in the future."
Warren stared at his fist, then at the blonde vengeance demon, and a red flush started creeping into his face. "What did you do? I wished he were here. Just that! I said nothing about him being invulnerable!"
She laughed, and Jonathan felt a huge rush of relief at the mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
"You didn't specify *how* you wanted him," she said. "Just because you don't have any imagination doesn't mean I don't. Besides, as vengeance-worthiness goes, what he did ranks at about a 2 on the D'Hoffryn Scale. I didn't have to answer your wish at all."
"You bitch!" Warren took a step towards Anya, clenching his fists, all designs on Jonathan apparently forgotten.
Okay, Jonathan thought. Should I be running while he's distracted? Normally he would, but that smacked of cowardice and Ethan Rayne. He was *not* going to live up to that man's example! Besides. Turning over the good-guy leaf, here.
Jonathan stepped in front of Anya and straightened up to his full five feet, two inches. He didn't make much of an obstacle, but hey, it was something. "Back off, Warren."
Warren's eyes narrowed, and he threw his hands out, making sharp, exasperated gestures. "Are you blind? She's a demon. She dragged you out of whatever hideyhole you were in because I asked her to. Why are you on her side?"
Jonathan raised his chin, staring the taller man down. "She's not as evil as you are, for one thing." Not quite a make-my-day-punk speech, but it would have to do.
"Oh yeah?" Warren set his jaw. "You're just as responsible for Katrina ..."
Okay, forget being cool about this. "Shut up!" Jonathan yelled. "Just shut up!" He was *not* responsible, damn it. He *wasn't*. He helped cover it up, sure, and he had charged the stupid dampener. He wasn't proud of either action. But he wasn't the murderer. Warren was.
"What's the matter, Whine-athan?" Warren taunted, breaking into a smile. "Feeling guilty, are we? That shield won't protect you forever. And when I'm through with you, maybe I should dump you at the jail and tell them all about what *you* did."
"It'll last long enough," Jonathan spat back. Time to put his magic where his mouth was. He took a deep breath, then raised his hands palm up in front of Warren and blew across them into Warren's face.
And that was the great thing about Sunnydale; so many vampires died each night, courtesy of the resident superhero, that a fine layer of ash fell like fallout every week. Ash on the asphalt meant ash on Jonathan's hands, the perfect ingredient for a distraction spell. As the particles took to the air, he murmured a familiar, simple phrase: "Ubi fumus, ibi ignis."
Warren screamed. He sounded more terrified than hurt, which made sense; Jonathan wasn't skilled enough to make actual fire. Most of his spells, in the end, were just complex illusions. All the same, this spell was plenty impressive. Loose globes of flame drifted from his hands and burst into tiny flamelets all over Warren's face and in his eyes.
Andrew gasped, then tugged off his black shirt and started trying to beat the fire out. It didn't help any, but it did focus the Duo's attention entirely on each other. Warren didn't sound very happy.
"Now *you* have imagination," Anya said, and touched Jonathan lightly on the shoulder. "But perhaps you'd better leave while they're not paying attention."
"What about ..." Jonathan turned as he spoke, then cut himself off as he realized Anya was nowhere to be seen. Probably a demon thing; so much for chivalry. Besides, it wouldn't take the guys long to remember where they'd heard him use that spell before, and what it meant.
Without further ado, he turned and started running down the street in the direction of Buffy's house.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jonathan stood on the sidewalk outside 1630 Revello Drive, staring at the front door of the Summers residence. He hadn't had any clear purpose in mind when he started running, just the vague notion that he'd be safer here than anywhere else in town. Which was true ... *if* the Slayer didn't kill him before he explained what was going on.
Or her Watcher. Jonathan glanced guiltily over at Giles' convertible, parked on the street in front of the house, and remembered the older man's parting words in L.A.:
((If you ever set foot in Sunnydale again ...))
Well, it wasn't like he'd had much of a choice.
He ran a hand through his short hair, then screwed his courage to the sticking point and stepped up to the door. He reached for the doorknob first, then thought better of it; he settled for a tentative knock, then pulled back to rub his sweating palms against his black jeans.
"I'll get it, Buffy!"
Only one voice in this circle was ever that perky anymore. It had to be Dawn, Buffy's fifteen-year-old kid sister. He hadn't ever formally met her, but he'd seen her around, especially in the last few months. With all that shiny brown hair, she was easy to recognize, even when she was trying to be sneaky. Which reminded him. Did Buffy know yet that she'd been stealing?
The door flew open, and there she was, blinking down at him uncertainly from on high. Since when was she that tall? Now he *really* felt short; even the youngest of the Scoobies had outgrown him.
"Um, aren't you ... aren't you ... ah, Buffy?" Dawn's voice rose a little, and she backed away from the door, watching him with no small amount of alarm. Damn. Her sister must have broken out an old copy of the Sunnydale High yearbook.
"What is it, Dawn?" The Slayer appeared in the doorway behind her sister. She looked vaguely weary, but also happier than he'd seen her in months.
Buffy had always seemed larger than life to Jonathan, even when the Trio was busy trying to learn her weaknesses and her patterns. Even when she had started acting so strange last fall, and never quite seemed to recover. It had never seemed quite possible that anything they did could ever seriously threaten her. No harm, no foul, right? And then the mess with Katrina happened, and it was too late all around.
Buffy's eyes narrowed, and her mood darkened visibly as she hastily stepped in front of her sister. "Jonathan. What are you doing here?"
"Did you say Jonathan?" a British voice asked.
The height and breadth of Rupert Giles' disapproval was enough to fill a doorway on its own; the physical presence of the man took intimidation to a whole new level. Jonathan took a deep breath and tried to look mostly harmless, smiling hesitantly at the three people now staring at him.
"I thought we had an arrangement," the Watcher continued, in quieter, darker tones.
"We did," Jonathan hastened to reassure him. "I mean, we do. But I didn't expect Warren to meet up with a vengeance demon."
"Anya?" Most of the irritation in Giles' expression melted into grim surprise. "She granted Warren a wish?"
"And yet, you're still among the living," Buffy added, still giving him the benefit of her Slayer glare.
"Well, she got a little creative with the granting," he said, casting a glance back over his shoulder. "Uh, could I come in? I distracted them a little, but they might have seen where I went."
"You led Warren here?" If possible, Buffy's voice got even sharper.
Jonathan sighed. "It's not like he doesn't know where you live, you know, and this was the first safe place I could think of."
Giles considered him a moment, then nodded. "All right. We'll listen to what you have to say."
Buffy gave her Watcher a surprised look as he stepped back, then raised her eyebrows at Jonathan. "I swear, if you so much as look at anyone funny..." She let her threat trail off and stepped backwards also, leaving a path clear for him to step through the door.
Jonathan smiled grimly at the lack of invitation; what passed for rudeness in other cultures was only prudent in this town. Not that any vamp in his right mind would ever turn Jonathan, but this was the Slayer's house, after all.