Wesley bundled himself up to guard against the unknown amounts of radiation and harsh sunburns. One had to be sure these days. Had to be covered head to toe before going outside. He knew his clothing would be drenched with sweat when he came back, but water was scarce and they needed some.
“Don’t forget you hat,” Gunn said, handing him a baseball cap. It was still strange to see Wesley wearing a hat. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come with?”
Wesley shook his head. “It’s still too hot for most demons to come out.”
“What about those fire breathing lizard things?” Gunn asked. They could stand the heat all day.
“That’s what I have this for.” He slipped a gun into his pocket. “I’ll be fine. You just keep watch on this place.” Wesley closed the door behind in. Abandoned homes, even if abandoned for only several hours were likely to be inhabited by demons or feral humans looking for a place to live. Gunn and he had killed a Qwagh demon last night. They spent over two hours hacking the thing to pieces. Wesley almost missed the days when vampires were plentiful – a stake through the heart, which was easy.
Vampires couldn’t survive the heat. The sunlight seemed to linger far into the twilight. Most things couldn’t survive in this. Wesley remembered the announcements on the radio and the headlines of the Los Angeles Times, “Record Heat Wave. 130° Degrees in the Shade.”
They’d all stayed as people fled the city after two weeks. Cordelia had left at a prospect of a national sitcom audition in New York. Like Cordelia, most planned on coming back, but that never happened. They’d heard word of strange weather phenomena all over the world. There were massive floods all along the Mississippi River, severe windstorms in Peru, and huge earthquakes in Tokyo. Of course, that was before the communication seemed to die.
After the first three weeks, Wesley had begun to suspect that the heat wave was of a mystical variety. Angel had attempted to solicit information from Lilah, but it seemed Wolfram & Hart were as unprepared as the rest of the world.
Angel insisted that they continue their work. They rescued humans from demons and vice versa. They were already fighting over water; it didn’t help that most of L.A. was originally a desert.
Wesley walked across the street cautiously and slipped into the deserted school building before anyone could notice. He drew out his gun in case any creature had decided to make this place its home. He’d been tapping the water supplies out of the school for about a month. With a little research, he’d found that this place ran off its own well.
As he crossed the hallway, he cursed forgetting to bring his night goggles. He forgot that this place was so dark, especially the basement where he was headed. It had been much easier when Angel was alive.
His suspicions had been proven right that the heat was of mystically variety, when about four months ago, they went out on a routine patrol after sunset. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until Angel started to burn. They’d tried to get him to cover, but this was unlike any fire they’d ever seen. The flames rose impossibly fast, but Wesley still blamed himself for Angel’s death. They should have waited longer. He should have known.
He and Gunn had to leave the Hyperion shorter afterward; it was too large for the two of them to protect, and city water had run out. They’d moved to the city limits, into a small house. They made do, and even had a few chickens and rabbits for food. Gunn had been trying his green thumb at raising some vegetables, but the seedlings needed more water than they could provide.
Slowly, Wesley filled the jug with water. They’d run out of gas weeks ago; which seemed to be a blessing in disguise considering their vehicles kept overheating. He sealed the jug tightly and hoisted it on his back. He’d been gone a little over an hour; Gunn would begin to worry after three.
Once he was out of the school, he placed the gun back in his pocket. The trek back wasn’t too far. Across a few neighborhoods and a patch of untamed desert land. He picked some cacti on the way back. The desert was slowly creeping into the city. Perhaps, this wasn’t as mystic as he’d originally thought; perhaps, Mother Nature just wanted her land back for the next cycle in evolution.
Gunn was waiting help Wesley unload the water. Wesley stripped off his clothing and put on fresh ones. He’d long since gotten over being modest around Gunn. Living in a one-bedroom place didn’t afford much privacy. The dirt and human sweat was always there. He missed long showers and hot water relaxing him.
Wesley picked up his journal and sat down. He’d been keeping a journal every day, and he would until pen and paper ran out. It was a habit, nothing more. It told of what he had for breakfast and how many demons he’d killed that day. He wrote nothing about his feeling because he remembered all of them.
“Another night of poker?” Gunn asked, breaking the silence. He’d finished storing the water in a safe place. “You know, I really wished I would’ve learned a few more card games.” He stared intently at Wesley. “What? No laugh?”
“Sorry.” Wesley sighed. “I’m not much in a joking mood.”
“Listen,” Gunn said, “I know it’s rough out there. But we have to keep going.” He looked out the window. Soon the night air would bring the demons out. “It’s not the apocalypse. You haven’t laughed or smiled since...”
“Angel,” Wesley finished the sentence for him. Yes, Angel, whose burning body was etched across the backs of his eyes. “I think I’ll pass on the cards tonight.” Wesley sighed and continued writing down the day’s activities. Night had fully descended on the desert. “Guess we couldn’t stop them all,” Wesley muttered.
“Stop what, English?” Gunn asked, a game of solitaire in front of him.
“Apocalypses,” Wesley said. And Angel’s death.
Gunn shook his head. “Don’t think this one’s of the normal variety. I mean sure it came in May and was somewhat mystical in origin.” He paused. “But this one’s different. Wouldn’t surprise me if the PTB were cleaning house. I mean heat that kills vampires.”
Wesley looked down at his journal and remained silent.
“I didn’t mean...” Gunn said. Wesley nodded. “It wasn’t. You didn’t know. Do you want to talk about him? Because that’s cool.”
“I...” Wesley stopped.
Gunn gave him a small smile. “You cared about him. I get that.”
“No, well yes.” Wes didn’t know if he had the courage to say it. He might as well, only Angel’s ghost could hear him now. “I loved him.” He couldn’t bear to look at Gunn’s face.
“Oh,” Gunn responded. “Wes, it wasn’t your fault. Even with all your books, you couldn’t have known. No one did. No one was prepared.”
“You’re not...surprised?” Wesley looked up at Gunn. Ready for his last friend to reject him like others in his life had. Except for Angel. He was positive Angel had known about his occasional male lover because of the vampire’s keen sense of smell.
“No,” Gunn said. “It was kind of obvious. Of course, Angel was oblivious.” Wesley’s face looked grave. “Sorry. I mean Cordy and I picked up on it.”
“He was rather boneheaded.” Wesley chuckled. “But you’re okay...with me?”
Gunn smiled. “No problems here, English. My cousin Jean’s been out since ‘95. Bring her girlfriend to every family gathering.”
Wesley sighed and closed his eyes, glad that he could be honest with Gunn. “Thank you.”
“Always here for you, Wes.” Gunn flipped over a new card.
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