Fic: Dark Midnight: Tea Paradox 11/12
- [part 11]
Skirting the outside of the quad, his entirely human senses absorbing the
scene around him, Angel was quietly brooding. The crowd was building in
numbers slowly, but there were less than he was dreading.
Mob mentality would still rule, but at least with less people there were
less bodies to contend with.
Sometimes he wondered why he came back to humanity. Some mornings he woke
up, Cordelia the mutant curled up against his chest and he pondered, just
for a moment, what it was like to be her now.
He went from vampire to human, she went from human to mutant. Almost as if
her gained demon was a gene.
No, he corrected himself, watching a young blonde circle the makeshift stage
with a camera, clicking away, her demon was the Sight. Becoming what Jean
Grey and Charles Xavier were by birth was her salvation.
Or curse, depending on the way one looked at it.
He shook his head, laughing darkly. "Always has to be a curse hanging over
one of us, huh?"
Avoiding the startled glance of a gangly boy crossing the quad, Angel
shrugged, scanned across the pavement and nodded when he locked eyes with
Gunn, the black man doing his best to look casual as he sat on a bench. The
impending riot was a perfect example of how well the world dealt with its
aberrations. Whine and clamour to the skies that something is unnatural
because it is not the norm, and therefore, must be destroyed.
Even at the cost of lives. Their own frightened, bigoted lives and the
lives of those that never wanted to be outside of society.
Well, at least it explained why he could never seem to step completely out
of the limelight. Even on the Angelus side, torturing and killing, he had
always had an eye for the attention grabbers.
And were he Angelus still, the blonde with the camera would have earned
herself a dram of respect. Moving smoothly enough to play down the fact
that she was placing a fine black powder along key points of the stage, she
had managed to make it to the stairs already, clicking with a likely empty
Angel frowned deeply. Lovely. A spell. "Jean?"
The mental reply from the redhead was laced with curiosity. //Angel, I know
it's strange, but it's this or looking like you're talking to yourself.
He shuffled in place briefly, ignoring a stare from a backpack laden,
would-be rioter. //The blonde with the camera. She's putting a powder
around the stage.//
The pause was dubious. //Obviously I'm missing the importance of something.
Nearly replying vocally, strolling nonchalantly across the quad as he
covered his mouth, Angel swept a gaze across the milling students and
nodded. Most of them were normal, everyday kids.
All except the mystery blonde. //Magic, Jean.//
Stopping next to Fred, pulling her gaze to the blonde woman with a cock of
his head, he waited a few more moments before returning to the mental
conversation. It felt damned weird to have the echo of another's voice in
his head, but almost comforting.
Almost. //Where's Wes and Scott?//
Jean's response, preempted by a sigh that tingled down his spine, was almost
amused. //Scott's about ten feet away, approaching you. Wesley... he's
harder to pick out. Human in a seas of humans, so to speak. Sorry, Angel,
give me a moment.//
Fred was staring openly at Angel. "Telepathy?"
He nodded, constantly glancing back to the stage. "Yeah. It's a little
strange. Though why she can pick me out and not--"
"Ex-demon," Fred said, nodding excitedly. "Heart ticks, soul ticks, still
got the echo."
Averting his eyes wholly to look at the Pylean refugee, he paused. Blinking
at her innocent smile, he missed when the hand touched his shoulder gently.
Turning his head quickly to stare into reflective red lenses, he shook his
head. "Blonde on the stage. The riot's spell induced."
Scott Summers crossed his arms over the casual shirt and frowned after
studying the girl as she made her way back down the stairs, one of her hands
thrust into a pocket. "I'm officially out of my element."
Fred straightened her back, nodding firmly. "We can still beat her an' save
Scott's frown remained.
Coughing, not expecting the sudden return of psychic connection, Angel
smiled helplessly at the others. //Where's Wesley?//
Even without a physical tone to it, her voice was strewn with worry. //I
can't find him.//
//What? How's that--// Shifting to Scott, Angel tapped his temple
apologetically. "Sorry, um, have you seen Wes?"
The X-Men's leader shook his head. "No, not for at least fifteen minutes.
He was checking something behind the stage and after I got back from
patrolling the far side there, he was gone."
The growl murmured in Angel's throat absently. "Lovely."
"And Jean can't find him?"
Angel's mouth parted in a question.
Scott shrugged deferentially. "I'm not psychic by any stretch of the
imagination, but the link she and I share never really wavers. So, she
can't find him?"
"Damn." Grinding his jaw for a moment as he moved off a little, the mutant
surveyed the crowd for signs of stirring. Encountering nothing, however, he
turned back to his companions. The crowd was way too placid to be itching
for a riot. "This is not good."
Fred nodded in agreement, her eyes tracing every movement the blonde made.
The first stupid move, he thought to himself as the world returned to him in
bleary splotches of colour, was to wander off by himself in search of an
elusive hint to the reasoning behind the riot.
The second move was to assume that a wiry little brunette with glasses and a
face younger looking than Fred's wouldn't knock him out cold with a leather
Setting his hands down on the ground, the gravel digging into his palms as
he tried to sit up, Wesley spit the taste of blood from his mouth, wiping
his lip with a thumb before trying to find his glasses. Wrapping fingers
around the rims, he set them on his face with a quick gesture, relieved that
they weren't broken... and promptly met eyes with his assailant.
"You aren't supposed to be here, freak."
Blinking through the headache building behind his temples, Wesley frowned.
The wiry brunette, clad in ragged clothes and pierced at least eight times--
that he could see-- snarled. "Yeah, you. We saw you sniffing around our
shit-- you won't stop us, ya know."
"I beg your pardon," sitting up the rest of the way and brushing dirt off
his jacket, he resisted the urge to laugh. "But since this is not a Bond
film-- though I'm flattered that you'd think of me in that light-- I have no
bloody clue what you're talking about. 'Freak?'"
His assailant paused, her face flickering through a range of emotions before
returning to the unenlightened brusque. "You-- you mutie freak. Stay the
hell away from our shit. You won't stop us."
The laughter nearly broke free from him. Wesley Wyndham Price... a mutant?
"Ah, yes, the infamous rioters. Would you know anything about a small boy
that you've intention to harm today?"
Wesley suppressed the groan as he stood. The girl had more strength than he
assumed her for, or had gotten lucky. The blood in his mouth was from his
lip and his ribs ached like he had been kicked, but it wasn't bad.
Funny; after Faith's handiwork, most people's harmful touches could be
"The boy," he grated, dabbing his lip with a finger, "the boy you'll nearly
kill just to prove yourselves on the same route to extinction as the
"I ain't no monkey, freak!"
He rolled his eyes, circling the girl cautiously. "Not only ignorant, but
uneducated. Lovely. And people wonder why I keep the company I do."
"Keep away from that stage..."
He sighed loudly, stepping closer to the brunette, using his height to loom
over her. "Or you'll what? Beat me with your sap again? Perhaps if it
were spiked, or tempered with poison, I'd worry. Now, before I call the
people that you should really fear, what is so important about that stage?"
The girl's eyes widened. "Nuthin.'"
"'Nuthin' is so dreadfully important that you would assume a man a mutant
and render him unconscious...?"
"She'll-- I'm sworn to protecting the stage. You wanna beat someone, beat
His eyebrow arched ever so slightly as he leaned in just a hair closer, the
girl's breath hot against his collarbone. "Define 'her.'"
The girls' voice was falsely steady. "Reece... b-blonde. Hard to miss.
Don't touch me, you're one of them."
"'Them' is such a broad term, my dear." Enjoying the pure moment of power,
Wesley held his pose until the girl's eyes darted to her feet, rubbing a
throbbing temple before snorting disdainfully at the brunette. "And thank
you. Oh, for the record, should you ever decide to express your bigotry
again, the proper phrase would be 'I ain't no orangutan!'"
Missing the grunt of confusion from the girl, jogging back to where he had
last examined a trail of white on otherwise grey and brown pavement, Wesley
came to a halt within several feet of the stage, darting a glance around him
to try and find his comrades. Seeing nothing but milling, anxious students,
he huffed. Bloody lovely. He had tripped upon the instigator's name and had
no one to share it with, nor backup to take the bird down.
Casting a glance back to his assailant, the girl wandering back into the
crowd and seeking some unknown person, Wesley stood in the shadow of a panel
that blocked off the view of the gathering crowd across the way and dabbed a
finger at the stage's edge, pulling back the dark red powder. Sniffing it
mildly, he cursed under his breath, smearing the rest on his pants quickly.
Dark magic, of the fifth level of hell kind. Possession, thralls,
enslavement, chaos inducement. Just what he needed.
Wincing through the stab of pain in his temple, he closed his eyes and tried
to bring back the sensation that heralded the psychic presence of the mutant
telepaths, calling out to Jean as much as the headache would allow him.
The echoing void that greeted him sent an icy chill down his spine. Was
everyone else being taken out by these magic abusing thugs? Moving out of
the shadow, he peered around the corner, spotting Gunn moving through the
crowd in a falsely casual stride, the black man's shoulders a picture of
But no one else leapt to view, not even the telltale glint of a black and
Ducking back into the shadow, smiling warily at a student as the boy
shuffled past the area quickly, Wesley Wyndham Price nodded to himself.
Death or not, boy or not, he had to do something here, and fast.
Watching Angel shift past a group of wannabe Goths, Cordelia dared to open
herself up a bit, expanding out along the non-corporeal world that
surrounded them. She was only an empath, but even the slightest bit of
insight would help their cause.
They were running out of time and Wesley was still missing.
//Okay, help me out here.//
The response from Jean was a disturbingly patient one. //What?//
Cordy's glance ripped up from the ground as Angel turned on a heel, gently
nudging past a short brunette to get back outside the mob of bodies, Fred
trailing behind him. //Can I track magic like this? Just... sense it
//Asking the wrong person, Cor. What you might be able to do, though, is
track down the doer. Power of any kind equals a stronger signature, one
that even you should even be able to pick out.//
The Seer crossed her arms, huffing. "Even her," huh? //I can't get a
The response was tempered with a bitter laugh. //Since when has psychic
talent been weighed on the merits of identifying one's height and weight?//
Jean's presence faded briefly, returning back a bit stronger, her mental
voice suddenly reflecting outer, conflicted emotions. //Hunt the signature.
Stronger equals closer. And hurry up-- trust your instincts. You're not a
rank amateur, stop hesitating.//
"Yeah, sure." Nodding as she followed Angel's earlier path, cutting around
the people and skimming over the top of heads, she waved at Gunn as he
looked her way, then shifted towards the front of the stage, studying the
area around the mike. //Over here I can feel it, it's tingling. Strange,
it's weaker feeling this wa--//
"Oof, good heavens... Cordy?!"
Pulling herself back up from the ground, grabbing onto Wesley's arm as he
brushed off the shirt and looked sheepish for running headlong into her,
Cordy shook her head and stared at the ex-Watcher. "Yeah, it's me.
Where've you been, anyways?"
Wesley licked his lips, trying not to rush his words. "Out... and about.
It's magic, some kind of thrall. The leader is named Reece, and the others
helping her are a bit terrified of mutants."
Cordy wrinkled her nose. "Good for them. Seen the boy you're supposed to
not die for?"
Wesley shook his head, wincing over the vertigo that washed past his vision.
"Not at all; I'm confused over that aspect of your vision."
"You and me both."
Grabbing her head as the echoes of Jean's alarmed call ripped away her
senses temporarily, the Seer staggered, using Wesley's sudden grip on her
arm to steady herself. Glancing into the Englishman's startled eyes, she
shrugged. //Yeah, yeah, I'm here.//
//For the record,// the telepath grated, moving through the crowd as she
tracked the pair down, //Don't do that. You've got better shields than most
and while I can break past them, I'd rather not.//
"Let's find Reece," Cordy said to Wesley as she hooked a hand towards the
blonde and her camera making her way up the stairs to the mike. //So you
yelled past my shields?//
Jean nodded from her position, waving at Gunn as he gestured her and Scott
over. //Hurt, didn't it?//
Angel's timing was immaculate as he glanced off to the side, his attention
caught by a tiny melodrama easily ignored by the growing throng of people.
One boy, one book and more red powder. A wiry brunette stalked around him,
poking impatiently at him in a random, agitated pattern, her eyes never
leaving the book that was laid delicately at his feet.
Angel growled under his breath, straightening up as he snaked a hand around
Fred's arm, averting her attention. "Wes' ward."
Fred sucked in her breath, her eyes widening. "So why's he over there and
not in the crowd getting beaten?"
"Don't I wish I knew that answer." Taking a few steps closer, Fred's sudden
grip on him steely as she set her feet, Angel turned his head sharply.
"You're not sauntering over there 'til we know why someone'd hurt Wesley for
'Huh," he murmured, noticing a sudden heat in her fingers and finally
backing up to stand next to her. Last thing he needed was to be shot with
biokinetic fireworks. "I wonder if the boy's a sacrifice."
"Coul' be. What about the girl pokin' him?"
A dark smile drifted across Angel's face. "Were this a few years ago, I'd
ponder her for lunch. Anyways, while the others deal with the leader, we
can get this boy freed. How about a distraction?"
Fred's eyes drifted over the tall, lean form next to her as she considered
the request. A lot of things leaped to mind as a suitable attraction
grabber, but she didn't have the materials with her. All she had in her
pockets was a lighter, some pencils, and a folded piece of paper with some
calculus notes on it...
And mutant powers.
Grinning, she nodded. "How 'bout a pretty lil light show?"
Angel matched the grin. "Happy un-fourth of July, Fred."
[cont'd in part 12]
"Life? Life's pretty much a knife fight in a dirt covered bar; and if they
get you down, you best get back up." "Last Call at the Broken Hammer,"