5.7.2013 NI is officially 2 YEARS OLD! Thanks guys for making those years amazing!
FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS
Welcome! Have you ever wondered what your favorite supernatural TV fandoms would look like if they were all literally interconnected? If Damon from Vampire Diaries heard about Sunnydale becoming a crater? What if 'fighting for vampire rights' in True Blood mattered in the world of Supernatural? Want to find out how your favorite characters will react in a world like this? Join in and don't forget to follow your instincts!
Canons: True Blood, Being Human (BBC), Vampire Diaries, Buffy & Angel, & Supernatural.
New York City. One of the last places on earth that Annie would have ever imagined ending up at – for a plethora of reasons, really, but factoring in the fact that she and all of her old flat mates had up and relocated across the country, she would have expected this particular result to be nigh on impossible. Of course, how one defined impossible really tended to change a bit after one died. Died, and came back. And then went to the afterlife, and came back and then of course, she couldn’t forget the most recent round of tug-of-war with her existence; the fun times she spent in purgatory… and then came back. She supposed, with that in mind, that it rather was her fault that everyone had upped and moved, left their old lives behind and traipsed across the ocean to the ‘new world’. She was the one that had told Mitchell and George and Nina about the man in New York that could help her, even if she had rescinded the request, begging them to forget about it, forget about her, that she was afraid of what would happen, to them and to her, if they tried to rescue her. Yet… here she stood.
There really could not have been any place that she could imagine that was more … different, she supposed, than the way things had been before. This city, and the meshing of every culture on the face of the earth, territorial disputes, advertising blitzing campaigns, madmen taxi-men and some of the oddest accents she’d ever heard – and that was excluding the supernatural flair that the city possessed. She had seen more vampires and wolves in her time in this city than pretty much ever, and that was counting fighting off Herrick’s vampire army once or twice. And there were more things, she could sense them, in the electric tingle in the air that tickled her ghostly senses. She had been content to leave them be, for the time being, preferring rather to get her feet under her and some sense of bearings before actually going out in search of trouble. It had a way of finding her, and her friends well enough, without going on a walkabout in search of it.
Tonight, she was simply looking – for nothing in particular, though, but after working the closing shift at the bar, she hadn’t particularly felt like heading back to the apartment that she shared with her friends. It was the night of the full moon, which meant that Nina and George were… occupied, and Mitchell was on shift at the hospital, and she hadn’t particularly felt up to heading home to an empty and all too quiet flat. She’d had enough of silence. So she had taken to the streets, wandering her way back and forth. It wasn’t as if she had anything to worry about from muggers, or anyone else looking to cause trouble: what were they going to do, murder her? The thought made her smirk a little. After all, if she couldn’t find amusement at her own sake, who could? She’d come to grips with what she was ages ago, anyways, and had learned to be, for the most part, content with her lot in life. She was getting stronger all the time, especially after her most recent return, and had slowly been adding a slew of whole new tricks to her repertoire. She could, if she needed to, jump pretty much anywhere in the city at a moment’s notice, and had not once felt the tug of her house across the way strong enough to make her lose control of herself here.
It was in pondering the state of affairs, that she realized that something had been tickling at those same senses for a few minutes now…. Just not quite strong enough for her to notice until she’d started thinking about them. She’d long since developed the ability to discern vampire, and wolf from human, but after her first encounter with the Door, she’d had the sense of others of her kind, other spirits, trapped on this side of things, through their own stubbornness or unfinished business, and the stronger that she had gotten, the farther that particular radar had drifted. This time, however, there was something particularly… nagging… about this presence. Like, she should recognize it, or had felt it before, but there was something – well, different seemed about as best as she could describe it as, but she didn’t think that was particularly right. It took a moment of focus or two, before she managed to locate the presence, its emotional eddy an easy magnet to pull her towards it, the world doing the odd little spinning, twisting itself inside out and shoving her out the other end thing that it did when she hopped from one spot to the other.
She didn’t recognize the place that she stepped into, but it was a bit of a surprise, regardless. From the emotional schism that she’d felt, she had almost expected to find herself in some place not that different from purgatory, but the garden that she emerged in probably would’ve taken her breath away, if she had any. Even backlit by the darkened sky and illuminated by only the scattered and subtly arranged lamps along the winding trail, and the light of the moon overhead, the splashes of colors throughout were impossible to miss, and the smells were practically luxuriant, sweet and rich and yet not entirely overwhelming, wrapping her in this almost blanket of sensations. Still, the presence that had called out to her brought her focus back around, turning in a half-circle til she saw him, crouched at the top of the gently sloping hill to the side, staring out over the gardens, lost in thought… or memories, she suspected. She felt almost guilty, intruding, but it was a little late to make a graceful retreat now. She couldn’t imagine that he’d missed her arrival.
”It’s beautiful.” She said, taking a few steps closer to where she had spotted him, studying him with her blue eyes that held a quiet curiosity. ”Not really sure we’re supposed to be here, but then I suppose there comes a few perks with our particular condition, isn’t there.” Annie said, her fingers folding together in front of her for a bit, fingers plucking absent mindedly at the edge of opposing sleeves before curling up, tucking over her stomach. ”You all right? Well, I suppose that’s not really fair, I can tell you’re not exactly, but now I suppose that was a bit rude of me now, wasn’t it. Sorry. Shall we start over, back at the, it’s beautiful bit?” She questioned, with a sheepish smile.
Member No.: 92
Joined: 21-June 11
[OOC: Set directly after the "testing strength" thread and before "delivering the message" in Wesley's timeline. Really sorry it took so much.
If there was one thing which Wesley could say about the day that was drawing closer and closer to its end, that was the fact that it had been interesting and full of surprises. The greatest surprise was, no doubt, meeting Marie-Belle Wright again. Seeing how she had vanished the day after they met at the library, without leaving any way for him to trace her, Wesley had lost hope that he might see her again and, yet, he did – in the last place in this city where he imagined that he might ever see her. Better said, in the last place in this city (or on the face of the Earth, for that matter) where he would have wanted to see any of the few people he could bring himself to care for. It was certainly surprising how this young woman seemed to possess the ability to surprise him each and every time they met. In spite of the bad way in which their second meeting started, Wesley was content with the fact that they managed to work out through the conflict. Marie-Belle was one person which he was not ready to lose, not while she remained the only human that had the ability to interact with him as if he were completely normal, not just a soul that the Senior Partners forced to wander in this realm.
After his time with Marie-Belle drew to a close, Wesley decided not to return to his office at Wolfram and Hart. The Senior Partners had not called him back so far, so that could only mean that his presence was not required in the belly of the beast for the rest of the evening. Therefore, as it was not a requirement, Wesley opted to stay away from the place and wander through New York city instead, see where his footsteps would lead him. He tried to avoid the places which he tended to visit on a rather regular basis, such as the park and the cemetery, and settle for something different. Then again, seeing where his footsteps actually carried him, Wesley had to admit to himself that he did not vary all that much from his usual setting.
The sun had already set when the formally-clad ghost walked into the New York Botanical Garden and, halfway down onto the first alley, he was already content with being in this setting. Glancing at all the plants which he was walking by, Wesley's mind wandered back to his academic studies and he remembered the names and various other details about some of the species. It was a welcome distraction and, in retrospect, he was finally content with the fact that during his years at the Academy he studied almost all of what could be studied, in his absurd wish to become the top of the year – the top of all the years – and make his father proud with him. Oh and there he was allowing himself to think of topics that were bound to ruin his mood.
Forcing his attention to the plants he walked by, Wesley continued to advance into the garden, lost in this little distracting routine until the moment when he felt a more poignant scent of flowers. Azaleas - he recognized them after a couple of moments when, looking around him, he saw that he had walked into a garden that seemed to practically dedicated to this particular species. It was... Wesley tried not think of it in terms of breathtaking. He could easily say, however, that it was the most beautiful thing which he had seen in a very, very long time... Perhaps since he saw that little beach, back in Los Angeles, during sunset... She would have adored this garden... For the fleeting moments it took him to close his eyes, Wesley's mind wandered and he could imagine himself walking with Fred through this garden, both of them happy and careless and so in love... Shaking his head to himself, he sighed. No matter what he did, his mind returned to Fred, as if she was the invariable center of his gravity, the one memory that kept him from becoming what the Senior Partners wanted him to become – or what Dean Winchester described: a soul so tormented that it became a danger for anyone that was caught in its way.
Wesley paid very little attention to his surroundings until he heard the voice of a woman close to him. A brief glance around confirmed the fact that there was no one else but the two of them there, so she had been addressing him. ”Yes, it is splendid”, he replies, turning to fully face her, watching her with a tinge of curiosity in his gaze. He couldn't shake the feeling that something was a little... off... about the woman but Wesley was not sure what it was. As she spoke again, he found himself at a loss regarding what to think about her. The first obvious fact was that the woman was British – the accent betrayed her – then again, that was the only fact, as the rest was pure speculation. She mentioned “their” condition – was she a ghost? Is that what she meant? Wesley continued to listen to her, confusion very obvious in his features. She was talking to him as if the two of them were somewhat... familiar with one another? Then again, there persons that were really easy going around strangers – and that lead to the question: what did a perfect stranger want from him? ”Starting over would be good, if I am allowed to ask: what do you mean by “our particular condition? Who exactly are you and what do you want from me?” He was probably a little bit too cold considering how polite she sounded but Wesley had his reasons to doubt someone approaching him out of the blue like that.
It didn’t take Annie long to realize that she’d stepped in it this time, at least, proverbially speaking. She noted the curiosity, but also the confusion that was obvious in Wesley’s expression as he turned to face her. He was remarkably calm, given how little of what she had rambled on about he seemed to have understood, based on his questions that he threw back in her direction in return, and her brows furrowed a little as she drew to a stop a few steps from him. She looked at him, a little perplexed herself for a moment as she tried to rewind, her expression on the sheepish side, and a little apologetic as well. ”I’m sorry, I tend to get ahead of myself.” She admitted, curious as to his especially guarded stance, and his last questions especially caused the furrow between her brows to increase in depth. ”Of course you’re allowed to ask, you can ask whatever you want to,” She replied, her tone somewhat amused, and mildly rebuking, as if seeming somehow offended a little at the thought that she might have denied him that. Of course, it still didn’t tell her how to answer the questions. She was stuck, for a moment, watching him, her fingers twisting at the edges of opposing sleeves.
Did he not know what he was? How could he not? She mused, her head drifting to the side a little as she weighed her thoughts with pursed lips. ”Our… condition.” She started, again, gesturing with a hand towards him, and then herself, as if to clarify. ”Being… well… ghosts.” She said, a little reluctantly, on the off chance that he didn’t know. That never ended well, and she was braced for a negative reaction, but it seemed she would be spared that, at least, and she looked a little relieved. ”Not my particularly favorite turn of phrase, but really, it sort of makes the point pretty crystal clear, for those that might be on the confused side.” She explained, taking another step or two in his direction, and then turning in a slow circle, letting her gaze wander over the gardens for a moment before turning back towards him. ”I’m Annie. Annie Sawyer.” She said, with a certain air of expectation, though there was no sign of recognition in his features, which caused her to blink at him, perplexed again. ”By way of Bristol, when I was alive.”
”Don’t worry,” She added, after a moment’s silence, watching him with a slightly concerned look, though still with an open warmness that she would hope would ward off any lingering suspicions. But then one never could tell. ”I don’t want anything – I … felt your… well.” She paused then, looking briefly awkward, before blustering past the moment and onwards. ”You.” She explained. ”I just wanted to make sure you were all right, that’s all.” She said, a hand rising to push back the stray strands of curls that blocked her view of him momentarily. ”Are you?” She questioned, studying him openly. ”All right, I mean.” She said, once again clarifying her intent.
Member No.: 92
Joined: 21-June 11
Watching the woman that had approached him out of the blue and initiated a conversation, Wesley focused and tried to remember if he had met her before, as he simply could not shake the feeling that she had addressed him as if she had expected some sort of recognition from his side. As much as he hated thinking back to his childhood in England and his days of training as a Watcher, Wesley made the effort to do it but still no luck. He was fairly certain that he had never met the woman before, therefore he watched her with a mix of curiosity and a guarded attitude. There was no telling who or what she could be and there was a small detail to be taken into account: Wesley had not heard any footsteps approaching him before her voice caught his attention. Although he had been rather lost in thought, he had not lost his awareness towards his surroundings. His guard was up and he readied himself for anything that might follow – especially for anything of a supernatural origin.
”I’m sorry, I tend to get ahead of myself.”
With these words, Wesley could only agree and he gave a nod of his head which was meant to be interpreted as an acceptance of the apology. In all truth, it was both that and an expression of his agreement to the fact that the woman was getting ahead of herself. Within the span of one or two minutes she had launched herself on a verbal tirade, possibly not even breathing the whole time that words flowed through her mouth – just like... Wesley shook his head to himself to chase the thought away, a pang of pain shooting through his still heart – pain that, for a few moments, was apparent in his features. Trying to put himself back together, he gave a nod of his head to the woman when she told him that he could ask her anything he wanted. The issue with that was that there were too many questions that crossed his mind at the moment and he was uncertain which was the best to start with. Seeing how talkative she had shown herself to be in such little time, Wesley decided to wait for a small while and see if she provided him with a starting point.
”Being… well… ghosts. Our… condition”
The ghost had suspected that it was what the woman had meant when using those words, yet he had still felt the need to ask what exactly she had meant, just in case she happened not to be another person that simply knew what he was – he seemed to be meeting plenty of those lately. ”I have to wonder if there is a big neon sign above my head advertising my “condition” to the world”, Wesley replied with a bitter smile playing on his lips. He had been right to suspect that something supernatural was at play: she was also a ghost. That, however, didn't explain to Wesley how she knew that he was one too. He hadn't guessed what she was just by looking at her, so he was finding it hard to believe that she had the ability to do that. The notion of a ghost psychic was slightly too strange even for the world they lived in – or which they haunted, to be more precise. ”I am very well-aware of what I am and I have been so since the first moment I was back”, Wesley explained. ”I just wasn't sure what you were referring to.” Again, when the woman introduced herself, Wesley picked up on her expectant air but the name said nothing more to him than the face did. ”Wesley Wydam-Pryce”, he introduced himself. ”I'd offer my hand but...” He allowed his voice to trail and he shrugged. He was certain she knew fairly well how the phrase would have ended.
As Annie continued talking, Wesley looked more confused than he already did. ”You felt... me?”, he questioned. ”You can feel the presence of other ghosts?” That was very peculiar but, then again, Wesley had to wonder whether that was the standard for ghosts and only he happened to be the one that was abnormal, taking into account the particular circumstances of his return and his ties to this world. Annie's next questions made Wesley frown and he tried hard to keep his emotions from showing up in his expressions – a task he was failing at. ”Fair to say I have forgotten the meaning of that notion”, he cryptically replied. ”Miss Sawyer, you said that I could ask anything so these are my questions: why do you care if I am all right or not? Why does it feel as if you were expecting me to recognize you? Neither your face or your name strike any sense of familiarity with me.”
”Well, I know that vampires and werewolves have a, um, well, sixth sense I suppose, about such things, even when we’re not trying to be seen.” Annie offered, with a low laugh at his mention of a neon sign, a slight smile curling up the soft edges of her lips, though it was still dampened by the pain that was written on his features, easily read even under the mask of impartiality that he tried to settle into place – and that was even if she was capable of ignoring the waves of pain and misery that washed tangibly through his aura, the psychic plea for some sort of salve to the wounds in his soul that had brought her on this particular detour in the first place. Her forehead creased a little as he mentioned his return, the reminder bringing a whole slew of questions bubbling up to cluster with all of the others that were already waiting for the opportunity to spill out, held back only by some attempt at restraint and compassion on her part. It was clear that he was already unsettled, and ill at ease, the last thing that she wanted to do was add to his troubles. ”Yes…” She murmured, in response to his words and introduction, a clearer moment of confusion drifting across her features as his words trailed off at the mention of an offer of his hand. ”But what?” She questioned, as she let herself wander a few steps closer, now that he’d fully acknowledged her presence and didn’t seem quite as offended by it, though still clearly taken aback.
”I promise, I haven’t got cooties, or something of the sort, if that’s what you are worried about.” Annie offered with a lighter, clearer laugh, a smile of obvious amusement on her lips and brightening her gaze briefly. ”Ghosts, vampires, werewolves… psychics, too, to some extent I think, mediums at least. Some sort of ethereal third eye or something, I suppose.” She offered as way of explanation to his next couple of questions. ”Kind of like I’ve got a radio station, in my head, I guess?” She mused, her lips quirking sideways a little as she tried to think of the best way of explanation. ”For the ghosts, at least. I can hear them, when they’re nearby most times, or if they’re in trouble, or in pain, I can… sense them, in the ether.” She settled on, after a bit of consideration, watching him curiously to see if any of that made any sense at all to him. ”Then again, I’ve got all manner of tricks up my sleeve.” She offered, with a grin, and a small amount of pride, though it was easily balanced by the slightly mischievous glint in her gaze as she spoke the words. ”I thought I was only one who’d made it back, though – how did you manage?” She questioned, curiously.
There were more questions, many more, but as his next words fell from his lips, she found her own questions quickly forgotten, or at least pushed back for the time being, as she came to understand in that moment the confusion between them, and she felt an even stronger pang of empathy for the man that she’d had lingering from the moment she’d felt his pain. ”You don’t… “ She started, her tone slightly incredulous, and even bordering on concerned, the latter of which only seemed to grow as she pondered the situation. ”You don’t remember.” She said, softly, resisting the urge to hug him in that moment, and instead settling for placing a hand on his arm gently, hoping that it might be seen as an attempt at comfort and not anything hostile. ”I’m sorry – I didn’t realize. We’ve met before, Wesley – on the other side.” She said, quietly. ”We talked for a little while, about you, and your friends, you … I thought you had passed on, I hadn’t imagined you would have come back here.” She admitted, a little awkwardly, unclear for his reasoning for returning when he had seemed content, satisfied that he could move on to whatever waited for him past the infinitely large waiting room at the end of the eternal hallway that was seen on the other side of the door that the dead passed through when their business was done.
Member No.: 92
Joined: 21-June 11
Vampires and werewolves might have had a sixth sense when it came down to ghosts but that still didn't explain to Wesley why Annie had a sixth sense in relation to other ghosts when she was one herself. It took a small while before an idea settled in: his lack of a sixth sense could be another one of those small alterations which the Senior Partners had done to him before releasing him into this damned world that he had been keen on leaving. The theory was plausible, considering all the trouble they went through to make sure that he would be unable to interact with his surroundings, with the goal of making him feel more useless and helpless with each passing day. Why would they be willing to allow him to be aware when others like him were around? That posed the risk of him making friends and, well, having friends that were able to understand what he was going through and to help him go through the motions of every new day would have eased Wesley's burden and ruined their sadistic fun.
Wesley frowned. He thought it would be pretty clear how that sentence would have ended. Since it appeared that he had been wrong, he simply crouched to bring himself to the level of one of the plants that surrounded him and reached to wave his hand right through it a couple of times, slight embarrassment in his features as he did so. ”But it would have made for a very awkward situation if I did it”, he explained although, by now, the explanation should have been completely superfluous. Wesley straightened himself and watched Annie, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips when she made that teasing assumption about his worries. ”I am well past the age when I believe that about girls”, he answered as lightly as he could. ”I simply prefer avoiding an awkward situation if I can.” At the beginning, it hadn't been easy and he constantly found himself reaching for objects or trying to touch someone, only to have his hand go through matter as if nothing was there. With training – constantly thinking twice before acting – he managed to avoid such impulses for the majority of time. The bitterness over his isolation from his surroundings persisted, no matter how much he tried to think that he was the one in control and that it was a conscious choice not to touch anything.
Annie proceeded to answer to his question and clarify what types of creatures she could feel and, well, Wesley felt a tinge of jealousy. ”How lucky”, he mused out loud. She was connected to the world around her at a much deeper level than he could ever hope for. Assuming she also had the sense of touch that he was missing so much, then Wesley could only wish to be in her shoes, at least for a day or two. The prospect of having a metaphorical radio station in his head sounded rather unpleasant, that much was true. Yet it seemed like a very small price to pay in comparison with the benefit which had fascinated him. ”I take it you were nearby”, Wesley commented in response to Annie detailing her ability to sense another ghosts presence. It was a not so subtle attempt of his to deny the theory that he might be in trouble or in pain. His sense of pride prevented him from being willing to share something that intimate with a complete stranger – although he had opened up before, to Marie-Belle, when learning that she was special to him. ”Dare I ask what other tricks you have down your sleeve?” Much to his dismay, that tinge of jealousy slipped into his voice. Wasn't he making a fabulous first impression?
”I thought I was only one who’d made it back, though – how did you manage?”
The ghost of a man looked completely perplexed at Annie's question. ”I would have thought there were more than two ghosts wandering this plane of existence”, he replied, looking just as curious about her question as she did about his presence. Maybe he wasn't back because he had unfinished business that stopped him from crossing over but she can't have meant that. ”Remember? Remember what?” Wesley didn't have too much time to be intrigued over Annie's words because she placed a hand on his shoulder – a gesture which made him stare at her hand and then at her. Hesitantly, he lifted his other hand and stretched it towards Annie's, looking equally surprised when his fingers felt the fabric of her sleeve and something solid, her hand, underneath it. Listening to Annie's words, Wesley hand slowly dropped from hers and, if possible, his skin turned a couple of shades paler than it would have been natural, even for a ghost. ”W-what?”, he managed to stutter. He remembered Fred... Illyria... holding him in her arms while he lived his final moments. He remembered the Fred from the cruel trick which the Senior Partners put together for him but... nothing else. There was nothing else in between. ”What are you talking about?” His tone was full of disbelief. ”What other side? There was no other side. I've never seen you before and I never talked to you. I remember dying and I remember being brought back”, Wesley emphasized the final words. ”There was nothing else.” His brows furrowed, a mixture of disbelief, shock and pain in his features. ”Was there? Was there something else they pulled me away from?”
Annie’s head cocked slightly to the side as he responded to her first question, watching him as he crouched briefly to show his inability to affect the world around him, bringing a faint smile to her lips as she tried to puzzle out his meaning. ”Oh, I’m quite familiar with awkward situations.” She informed him, with a chuckle and a flash of a grin. ”You’d’ve been just fine, really.” She added, with a wider grin, though his stiffening over the next few moments and the hint of acridness in his tone with his next few comments made her enthusiasm pale somewhat. ”Sure.” She agreed, though her tone was a bit more reserved than her earlier eagerness, her brows creeping together a little as she watched him, trying to determine exactly what she might have done that would have made him angry with her, and drawing a rather entire and complete blank. ”I… a few things, I suppose.” Annie added, a little reluctantly, now, but she was quick to try and push her hesitancy aside. After all, when she was new, and couldn’t be seen by others, or interact with much of anything, she hadn’t exactly been in the best of moods now, had she? ”I can make myself corporeal, seen by others, or not. I can sort of… pop, wherever I want to go, -- teleportation, I think it’s called. Ooh, and I can, um, go all poltergeist sometimes, and sometimes I can hear what other people are thinking, and then of course there’s the… hearing the dead bit. And if I try I can read someone’s aura.” It sounded so strange, to form all of those things that she’d learned how to do into one lump sum. ”But it’s been a while, I mean… I’ve had a lot of… practice, and I’ve had friends to help, and everything, it’s… well, it’s complicated, really.” She confessed.
”Oh, well sure – there’s loads,” Annie agreed readily, as the other ghost attempted to clarify her comment regarding the two of them and their unique status as those that had returned from the other side – something that she had come to believe was exceptionally rare. As in… was never supposed to happen sort of rare. Her head tilted, before she could go on to explain, however, as he stared at her, a flurry of expressions darting over his features as he studied her hand on his shoulder as if it itself was some oddity, as if it had sprung a head of its own, leaving her momentarily derailed by the confusion that crept into her own features. She became certain, almost instantly then, that there was something very important that was missing from this conversation, that one of them had missed a memo, as it were, and the worst part of it was that she couldn’t have guessed which one of them it was to save her life. Well… if she’d had one, by the classical definition of the word ‘life’. She considered what she had most times a very good life, as such went. His hand rose, trembling a little, to settle on hers that rested on his arm, and she had started to ask a whole new flurry of questions before she became distracted from her distraction by his reaction to her words about where they had met before. She had been told that she blushed from time to time, or at least appeared to, but she had never imagined that she would see a ghost actually faint – and he looked like he was about three seconds from it.
Alarm and worry instantly filled her gaze, her hand tightening on his arm, the other hand sliding up to wrap against his other shoulder, not sure if she would be able to hold him up if he actually fainted, but she would at least try. She watched the distress, the pain, the agony creep across his features as he came to understand what she had said, and she felt a dagger twist in her chest as her heart broke a little for him, her own thoughts recognizing what had happened – at least to some small extent. He hadn’t remembered. He hadn’t known. She felt the guilt creep up, tightening her stomach, her expression taking on a tint of misery and guilt to throw into the mix, clearly distressed at the fact that she had upset him so. ”Wesley I – “ She fought back tears, in that pause, her arms folding around him, all pretense of ‘proper’ manners flung out the proverbial window, hugging him to her for a long moment as she gathered her own wits. ”I’m so sorry. I didn’t know… I –“ She shook her head a little, pulling back just enough to be able to study him, as if she could find the answers to the thousand questions racing around in her head, in his face. ”We talked, for a bit. You told me about you, a little, what you did, and your friends. Angel, and about Winifred… that she had died, and that it was all right now, and… I thought… I thought you had gone on, to whatever was on the other side of the hallways. I had never imagined… What do you mean, when you say brought back? The men on the other side, the ones with the torches? Did they send you back?” She questioned, trying to resist a shudder at the mention of the faceless, towering presences that she’d felt, all the more frightening and predatory in her trip to purgatory than her brief visit in the endless hallways. ”Why would they do that?” She didn’t understand, couldn’t comprehend an immediate reason for it, to be honest, and the only thing that might have come to mind she nixed immediately.
She had been set free, free and clear – there would be no need to watch her, or follow her, or try and bring her back, like some rogue ghost hunter or something, how ridiculous was that? She mused, discarding the thought immediately. Besides, if that had been some sort of mission he would probably know who she was, and have sought her out, rather than the other way around, she argued. No, it was clear that whatever reason he was here, it was not any threat to her, and she would do whatever she could to help ease his misery, and move on again, if that was what he wanted.
Member No.: 92
Joined: 21-June 11
At Annie's answer, Wesley fought the urge to ask her if it happened often to her to have another ghosts' arm pass right through her. He managed to hold that thought for himself, realizing that Annie had said and done nothing to deserve sarcastic comebacks from him. It wasn't her fault that he was so frustrated with his inability to affect the world around him, that the time that passed did nothing to help him get used to this handicap – on the contrary. Annie had the misfortune of being the wrong person, at the wrong place and the very wrong time. ”I'd rather avoid them, if I can”, Wesley emphasized again. He was selfish. It didn't matter to him whether or not the other person was used with awkward situations, it mattered that he didn't want to give his self-esteem another blow. That was the Senior Partners' hobby; if they could somehow witness this meeting, they were probably having a great laugh at his expense. Wesley had himself to blame for the situation he was in, to be completely honest. In spite of having noticed that Annie was far different and superior to him in her skills, he asked her what other tricks she had down her sleeve, so he shouldn't have been this hurt and humiliated when she proceeded at listing them.
Part of those abilities, Wesley mastered as well – a very small part. If he focused, he could also control how visible he appeared to others. He could vary from being completely invisible to the eye to being like he was now, apparently solid at a first glance, yet immaterial when one tried to do more than just watching him. Again, if he focused, Wesley could teleport from one place to another, provided that he went to a predetermined place. It wasn't enough to think that he wanted to go to the same place where another person was. It didn't work like that, he needed specific details about the place where he was supposed to go. In this respect, he supposed that he was different from Annie, as she claimed that she was brought to this place because she had felt him. Going all poltergeist... he couldn't even do that and God knows how often he felt the need to violently let go of all of the anger he had inside of him. He had the magic which the Senior Partners had allowed him to have and it was enough to use for killing random vampires from time to time but not enough to make him feel... relieved – that was the right word – relieved from all the tension. Hearing thoughts, hearing the dead... not pleasant but something – something much better than the nothingness he had been left with by the Senior Partners. Annie was lucky, if such a thing could be said about someone that had died and then had been forced to stay in this world to take care of their unfinished business. Between the two of them, Annie was very, very lucky and Wesley was ridiculously jealous, as if he needed even more negative emotions on top of the ones that ate at his immaterial form from the inside out, filling the place where his heart should have been beating with a block of ice.
”But it’s been a while, I mean… I’ve had a lot of… practice, and I’ve had friends to help, and everything, it’s… well, it’s complicated, really.”
”Well, that is... impressive”, Wesley replied rather stiffly once Annie finished talking about everything she could do, clenching his jaw and swallowing hard. That extra sentence she added only served to cloud his expression even more than it already was. ”Ah... This is where we are different.” His reply was ambiguous. Wesley could have been talking about the fact that she might have had had more time back on Earth than he did, or he could have been talking about his lack of practice. In reality, he was talking about the lack of friends. Was that the key to being remotely close to how Annie was? Having friends to encourage you and support you? A bitter smile played on his lips at the thought. The instant when they learned about the circumstances of his return, his friends showed him their backs and reminded him that he was a traitor. Help? He couldn't even remember hearing a somewhat kind word of regret for his death from them. Wesley tried hard to stray his thoughts away from the friends he once had, to save himself the hurt and heartache.
The hurt and heartache came nonetheless. Annie's revelation shook him to the core and Wesley barely processed everything that happened next – the worried look on her face, the tighter grip on him, the support offered. It felt as if a thick fog had suddenly covered his mind, impeding him to think logically – or to think at all. The sudden hug was the gesture that pulled him out of his confusion and grounded Wesley back to reality – he couldn't call it a crash back to reality because a pair of arms was holding him tightly, closely. Annie was a stranger but Wesley didn't care. Learning that he had been close to moving on and that he had been pulled away from that was all Wesley could take. He crumbled on the inside and, on the outside, his eyes filled with tears and he leaned into Annie's embrace, desperate for the comfort of the gesture, willing to ignore the fact that he knew nothing about the person offering it. ”I... The Senior Partners, they brought me back”, he answered, his voice choked with tears. He didn't know if the name would tell her anything but he imagined the men with torches she mentioned had nothing to do with the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. ”What is the other side? Where was I? How... how long was I there? Do you... Was Fred there too?” He pulled back just enough to look into Annie's eyes, desperate and devastated. How far had the Senior Partners' cruelty went?
The incongruities between this meeting and the last were becoming more obvious, more painfully obvious, by the moment, as the conversation between herself and Wesley continued to unravel – she didn’t understand, exactly, the source of the bitterness that crept into his words, the stiffness in his posture and expression as she answered the questions that he’d put to her. His words seemed benevolent enough, or would have, if it wasn’t for the sharpness with which they were delivered, as if they were bitter and stinging on his lips, instead of anything that seemed an actual compliment or appreciation for her abilities, or her circumstances, and she had to admit, it wounded her a little. It wasn’t as if she had gone out of her way to boast, or be a braggart about what she could do, he’d rather specifically asked for it, and yet he was reacting as if she’d slapped him – and then… it all became clear. Her arms curled around him, holding him tightly, offering the only sort of support and strength that she could at this very moment, her soft blue eyes filling with sympathetic tears as he staggered against her, the swift shattering of his composure like a tangible wave against her. ”Oh, Wesley.” She said, her voice soft, and filled with a sadness of her own, her hand smoothing, petting along his back, quiet soothing noises slipping from her, as he wept against her shoulder, cradling him and rocking him gently, as she tried to in the least, imagine what it must have been like for him, the trauma of the circumstances that he was dealing with. They were, it seemed, in this alike, and yet entirely opposite. She had fought, tooth and nail, to stay, to remain here with her friends, the people she loved and wanted to stay with, to protect and fight for – and that had been her choice, she wanted to be here – where she hadn’t wanted to be was on the other side, trapped in a cell, memories of her life stripped away, degraded, erased, one by one, leaving her a shell, fragmented and broken.
He, on the other hand, had been at peace. Had been happy, content with his place, and had been ready to move on to the other side of the hallway, the final door that led to … heaven, or peace, or reincarnation, or nothing – she didn’t know, exactly what it was that waited on the other side of that final step, but it made sense to her that if there was in fact a hell, and a purgatory, and the equivalent of St. Peter at the gates… there had to be a Heaven, right? To be pulled back, forcibly, ripped back to this world? It made her throat ache, and her stomach tighten with it, his grief tangible, the pain that he was feeling searing hot in his aura and in his touch against her, but she did not pull away, continuing to comfort, and soothe as best as she can. ”I don’t know… I don’t know who that is.” She admitted, her tone hushed, as if afraid to speak too loudly, as if she might break the fragile hold of control he’d managed enough to speak. ”Why would they do that?” She questioned, more out of shock, than expecting any actual answer. ”That’s, unimaginable.” She echoed, her tone clearly expressing her horror at the situation at hand.
”I’m so sorry. I didn’t know – about this, or… I would have… “ Her words trailed off. What would she have done? She would have fought for him. She would have tried to save him, to protect him, even if she didn’t know how, or from who – it was horrifying, the thought of what they’d done to him. ”It was… where we were, it’s like… I don’t know. A waiting room? It’s where they sort us out, the ones that have gone through. Heaven and Hell, all of that bit, only it’s not with the… pearly gates and the big book. I suppose they’ve… modernized, you could say, with the forms and the … doors. Lots of doors. But time it… it’s funny there, it doesn’t work the same as here. I was only gone … a few minutes that time, from this world, but it was hours and hours, days, even, on the other side, and the last time, it felt like I was there forever, but it was weeks, maybe, here?” She shook her head a little, a hand rising to brush against his cheek, to brush off the tears that spilled onto his cheeks, her expression echoing his own heartbreak. ”I’m sorry, I don’t know about Fred. We spoke of her, but – I never saw her. I never crossed that final doorway, I came back, here. I only went, because I thought my friend was in danger, because I wasn’t there but… I thought you’d gone, on, I never would have imagined…”
Member No.: 92
Joined: 21-June 11
There had not been a moment since he regained awareness in the midst of Los Angeles being sent to Hell when Wesley hadn't thought that what had happened to him had been one of the cruelest acts which Wolfram and Hart could have done against him and against Angel. Of course, at that time Wesley had been of the belief that the ensouled vampire would be enraged to see what the Senior Partners had done to him, that the news that he was bound by his contract and forced to do their bidding would bring him sorrow and make him do whatever it would have taken to find a way to free him from his contract – he had been wrong. The act of cruelty committed by Wolfram and Hart, to give him the order to stay close to Angel and act as a messenger of sorts between them and him, to report in his moves, had been doubled by the cruelty of the ones whom he had considered very close friends, in spite of the treason which he remembered having committed a long time ago.
All of the sudden, that cruelty seemed to pale, to become completely insignificant in front of the revelation of this new factor which he had been completely unaware of until now. In Wesley's memories, everything had seemed somewhat simple: one moment, he was closing his eyes to the sight of Fred holding him in her arms, soothing him with kind words and gentle kisses, promising that they will finally be together; the other had been a brief flicker of black, not longer than a blink, if someone would ever pay excessive attention to that reflex; the next one, when the blink ended and he opened the eyes of his mind again, she was there – a being that looked exactly like Fred and that tried to fool him into thinking that his hopes had come true, a parlor trick put together by the Senior Partners without enough attention being paid to the essential details, a fault which allowed Wesley to see right through it and ruin their little game, make it a little less cruel than it was. Now, however, he was being told that there had been more. Somewhere, perhaps in that brief moment of blackness, there had been much more than dark and it had lasted much more than just one second and that thought was too much for Wesley to be able to bear.
Like any other soul, he had moved to the place where he was supposed to move to after his passing and the Senior Partners mercilessly yanked him away from that, in their act of vengeance against the small group that thought it could take a stand against them. Annie remembering it all so clearly while he was completely unable to remember anything other than the Senior Partners' little charade was a frightening evidence of the control they had over his mind, it made him fear that they might have taken so much more from him without him being aware of it. He feared that Fred might have really been there, by his side, when he met Annie, and that they ruined that for him... and he cried. He cried against Annie's shoulder like he never did in all of the years that had passed since his return, years during which he had tried to be as stoic as possible in enduring everything the Senior Partners were making him go through. As the tide of his emotions was sweeping over him, Annie was the solid rock he was clinging him to prevent himself from drowning in them entirely. She could be his rock, so it didn't matter to Wesley, at this moment, that Annie was a perfect stranger to him. He let himself go and he welcome the support and the attempts at comforting him, although they were barely successful against all of the pain that had finally broken him down.
He heard Annie's questions and explanations but it took a while before he managed to calm himself enough to be able to formulate logical thoughts and speak answers, ask the questions which plagued him in turn. Once he managed to calm down a little, Wesley lifted his head and pulled himself back enough to look at Annie, tears filling his eyes and staining the cheeks that looked paler and a little less solid than they did earlier. ”The Senior Partners...”, he started, his voice a little raspy under the weight of his tears ”It's a very long and complicated story.” He settled on these words for now but, in case Annie asked to hear the story, he would tell her how he put himself into this situation by singing the contract with the law firm from Hell. ”That final doorway... what was behind it? Was I... supposed to go through it?”, he asked. Annie said that they were there to be sorted. Maybe what was behind that final door depended on the sins and merits of every single soul that was waiting in there? ”Why can't I remember any of this? Why can't I... We are so different...” His tone was laced with sadness and more tears slipped down his cheeks.
”I’ve got time,” Annie replied, gently, her features clearly set into an expression distraught and worried, fretful and concerned, as she watched him, holding him still and letting her hand rub, patting against his back gently, trying to offer him what comfort she could. It had been so hard for her, when she had been all alone, even before she knew what it was that Owen had done to her, she could barely begin to imagine what it must have been like for him. To be kept from his true death, his passing, yanked about like a pup on a chain, for someone’s twisted amusement? She felt that spark of anger, reserved for those like the Priest, and his lackeys, and Herrick, burning hot again, as she became aware that there were now more names on that proverbial ‘list’ of hers. She didn’t know who the senior partners were, yet, but she was going to find out, and once she did, they could be certain that they’d be getting a piece of her mind. ”Shh, shh.” She soothed, as he tried to compose himself, offering him a quiet, though still concerned smile, her hands lingering on him, shifting to his arms rather than his back, her hands rubbing along his arms as she soothed him, or tried to. ”These… partners, they’re the ones that have you… bound, here?” she questioned hesitantly, though she was fairly certain she could guess the answer, but she’d learned that assuming didn’t get her far, when it came to things supernatural.
”I see it, the – “ She hesitated, studying him, trying to figure out how to put what she could see in him, around him, into words. ”It’s like an anchor, wrapped around you, the chains of it, they’re so faint it’s easy to miss at first glance, but it’s like this whole spider web, in your aura, only heavy, like it’s made out of steel or iron or … It weighs you down, it binds you here, I think.” She mused, her brows creeping together as she tried to discern exactly what it was that surrounded him… it was more than that, somehow, though she couldn’t exactly make heads or tails of it. She hadn’t seen anything like it before that much was certain. ”I – I don’t know, exactly, I’ve never been through it,” She admitted, her gaze drawing up, refocusing onto his tear streaked face, as she watched him. ”I think it’s the final after, heaven, or… “ She hesitated, briefly, all too aware of her own near run-in with hell, leaving it a topic that she wasn’t very keen on discussing if she didn’t have to. ”I don’t think it’s something that you can go through, on your own, though. Not really. There’s a whole… waiting room, lists of things you’ve done, good and bad, and everyone I’ve seen has a hallway, full of doors, filled with those things for you to see, to remember your life, and then at the end of it all, there’s the last.” She surmised, trying to describe for him what she’d seen of others afterlives.
”Some people, they don’t go through it at all, those that have passed over but haven’t been prepared to leave everyone behind, watching the ones they’ve left behind, or just … taking in those moments they don’t want to forget,” She explained. ”I… I don’t know, why you can’t remember maybe its like, shellshock, or trying to… protect yourself?” She offered, the suggestion sounding weak to her but there wasn’t much else that she could think of other than the memories being forcibly removed, which seemed both cruel and somehow unnecessary, though she wasn’t sure why she thought that way, exactly. ”I’m so sorry, Wesley, I wish – I wish I could help, could answer something more than I have.” She offered in apology, her hands continuing to rub against his arms, tears of sympathy glittering in her eyes as she watched his own continue to form and fall. ”I just – I never went. Not properly, through my own door, I … I turned away from mine, I had to stay, and it’s always been someone else’s, never proper, so I don’t know, I don’t know what could’ve happened, what could’ve gone wrong, or how to fix it, but I will try, I promise,” She assured him, leaning in again to pull him into a gentle hug.
Member No.: 92
Joined: 21-June 11
”I’ve got time”
In reality, saying that the story was long was also a manner of saying that the topic at hand was one that was better left untouched. After all, to be completely realistic, they both had all the time in the world – a phrase which Wesley wasn't all that fond of remembering, considering the fact that the one who last told it to him had died within hours after speaking it. In theory they had all the time in the world to go through the story of his life. In practice, his time was limited by the whim of the three demons which were suddenly appearing to be more cruel than Wesley ever thought them to be – something which he would have thought completely impossible until this night. To him, they were already the epitome of cruelty, impossible to surpass. ”Yes, they're...” His voice trailed off so Wesley could take a deep and completely unnecessary breath. ”The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart, three demons that live in another dimension, who run a law firm here. We opposed them for a long time, until an executive decision was taken for us to join them and fight evil from inside the belly of the beast. The contract we signed... It contained a clause whereby our soul was perpetually assigned to them.” It was the shortest explanation which Wesley could provide at the moment and one which conveniently glossed over the most painful of the details concerning their employment with the demonic law firm.
The ghost lifted a hand to place it over Annie's, closing his eyes for a few moments, focusing on the particular sensation of touching another ghost, how solid she felt under his palm and how solid he could feel himself under hers. She was a little cold, by comparison with how it had felt to touch Marie-Belle, yet the sensation was not unpleasant. Beggars couldn't be choosers and a ghost that was usually completely unable to touch anything could not complain that a person he could miraculously touch was lacking that warmth he craved for so much. Wesley gazed down into Annie's eyes as she looked at him and explained what she could see around him, fascinated by the fact that she had the ability to read his aura like that and, at the same time, his jealousy towards her ability resurfacing. ”I don't suppose... you see any weak links, do you?” Not that he would have known had to taken advantage of it if she did; it simply seemed to him that it could not hurt to ask. ”Or Hell”, he finished the sentence for her. ”My final destination.” The place where traitors were cursed to rest for all of eternity, in one of the deepest circles, facing one of the harshest punishments, according to the vision of Dante.
When Annie started describing the hallway and the doors by which his spirit would have been able to see moments which he wanted to keep into his memory, Wesley imagined that his passage through it would have been a very slow one. He could not know for certain how everything worked but he could imagine himself taking a very long time to look through those doors which would have revealed Fred and their few happy moments together. As it turned out, Annie confirmed the fact that there were souls that lost themselves in that hallway, clinging to that which they have left behind. Yes, he would have certainly been one of them – a preferable alternative to being the Senior Partners' puppet into this realm. Annie's guess about the reasons why he was unable to remember anything of the world which she described caused Wesley to shake his head. ”I doubt those are the reasons. Right now I am making a conscious effort to remember everything and... there is nothing more than a moment of blackness before I regained consciousness into the sick fantasy the Senior Partners designed for me.” It must have been their hand, although Wesley could not understand how it benefited them to erase his memories of the afterlife. He leaned into the hug, wrapping his arms around Annie tightly. ”I tried everything I could, Annie. I don't know what you could do to help me. Besides, I don't think you should get involved. One of the persons working for the Senior Partners is a reputable necromancer and you would not want to get on his radar”, he warned her. ”But it really means a lot that you want to help. You can't even imagine how much.” A complete stranger sounding so eager to help him and his friends doing absolutely nothing for years... ”Why didn't you go? Why would you stay into this world?” Wesley could not understand why Annie had denied herself the peace and rest and chose this condition instead.