Chapter 8 ~ The Bottom of the Glass

*********************************************************************

"When I counted up my demons, saw there was one for everyday.

With the good ones on my shoulder I drove the other ones away.

So if you ever feel neglected, if you think that all is lost.

I'll be counting up my demons, hoping everything's not lost."

"Everything's Not Lost" Coldplay

*********************************************************************

"You did what?" Cordelia asked as she stood up from in front of her computer, glaring at Angel over the counter. Gunn moved away, making himself look busy by opening the weapons cabinet and playing with one of the swords.

"Angel I told you to leave it."

"Cordy he was here and he looked down, and really not all -"

"Guys are not supposed to do this sort of stuff." She said grabbing her coat,

"Cordelia where are you going?"

"To talk to Wesley before he tries to get himself killed again."

Gunn shifted away from the weapons cabinet, closing the doors behind him, a nervous look on his face,

"What?" Cordelia asked, shifting her gaze between the both of them,

"We don't know where he is. He said he was goin' out for a walk."

Cordelia glared at Gunn for a moment, feeling that he was as much a part of this as Angel was. She turned back to the desk and picked up the phone,

"I'll try his cell then." She dialled the number, watching Angel as she waited for a reply,

"Angel -"

"I know." He said nodding and turning away, feeling guilty, to go get his coat,

"We'll take my car."

*********************************************************************

Wesley removed the cell phone from his pocket, checking to see who was calling. As the light flashed the letters A.I. displayed themselves on his screen. He watched it for a moment,

"Hey buddy you gonna answer that or not? 'Cause you're spoiling the show." A demon asked to his right, but Wesley didn't reply. He just turned the phone off causing it to desist it's ringing, before stuffing it back in his jeans pocket. He picked up his glass again as the final notes of the song played and the members of Caritas burst into applause. He watched the drink swirling in the glass before taking a sip of it.

"You know that drink isn't the way crumpets." Lorne said as he sat at the bar next to Wesley,

"You won't find your answers in the bottom of that glass or the next one. Just like you didn't find it in the other ten or so that you've downed since you came in here." He said picking his own drink up off the bar as Wesley threw the contents of his glass down his throat,

"I'm not looking for answers."

"Solutions then. It's the same thing. The point is I don't need to read you muffin to tell you you're trying to drown your problems." He paused as Wesley ordered another drink. Lorne swirled the umbrella around in his seabreeze, listening to the Bak'esh demon singing a rather mind numbing version of Roberta Flacks "Killing me softly" on stage.

"You don't have to sing a song either pumpkin. 'Cause I can tell you without a doubt that the solution to your problems just walked in the door." Lorne got off his stool, patting the slightly drunk Wesley on the arm,

"And if you're going to continue drinking I recommend the tequila." He gave a low whistle,

"Strong stuff."

Lorne wandered away to sit at a table with a Skalig demon as someone took up the vacated stool at the bar. Wesley didn't even bother to turn to see who it was as he picked up the drink the bartended had just set down,

"Put it on the tab." He mumbled under his breath.

"Tab? Wes how long have you been here?" he shrugged, not surprised by the voice that spoke so suddenly,

"You know drink isn't the way."

"Yes, thank you Cordelia. I've already had that speech."

"Good! Maybe you'll take it on board then!" Wesley took another sip of his drink and Cordelia sighed,

"Look, Wes. Angel and Gunn aren't very good at the talking and listening and knowing the right thing to say, but that doesn't mean they don't care." She said as she watched his pale, blank face,

"But I'm here and I'll listen." She up her hands,

"I promise not to butt in."

The only reaction she got was the raising of the glass to his lips. She sighed, feeling defeated,

"Wesley it's not good to keep it bottled up inside. All those years and you still haven't told anyone. You can't go on like this Wesley. You lost your father last night and even if you didn't get on it still must have affected you. It still must have hurt." She paused, watching him down the half full glass of some gross brown liquid that she didn't want to know the name of.

"Please Wesley?" Wesley placed the glass back down and turned to look at Cordelia. There was a lost look on his face like he was a small, frightened child, ready to burst into tears at any moment.

"He kept me under the stairs." His eyes reverted to the empty glass cupped between his hands after his small slurred sentence. He ordered a whiskey, Cordelia not saying anything, before he continued,

"We lived in the country but I wasn't allowed to play outside. It was for my own good. I was kept under the stairs in the summer when I was bad, and went to boarding school the rest of the year. There wasn't much more fun than home. I was a target for bullies everywhere I went; old and young, bug and small, they found me." He paused to take the large whiskey from the waiter,

"I never came home for Christmas and only got one present if I was lucky, and even then it was usually stolen. I tried my best at school to make my father proud. I got the best grades, excelled in all my subjects, but that wasn't good enough for my father. Nothing was good enough for my father." He sipped at the whiskey for a moment. Cordelia didn't move or say anything; for once in her life she had been stunned into silence,

"He wasn't even impressed when I was assigned to not just one, but two slayers. And when I was fired -" he broke off, taking another sip of whiskey,

"Since I joined you and Angel he's been even less than impressed, but I knew he couldn't touch me over here. I called him last week to wish him a happy birthday, told him what was happening and now I suppose I was wrong when I assumed he couldn't touch me." He swirled the glass for a moment, looking down at it, wishing he could juts fall into it and drown. His words were already slurring quite badly,

"Wesley I'm so sorry. You - no one should have to go through that. But he's gone now." Wesley threw back the last of the whiskey; the third drink Cordelia had seen him with since coming in.

"He'll still haunt me. He'll always be there, not even you can do a bloody thing about that." Cordelia knew she couldn't, but she couldn't let Wesley drink himself into oblivion. She wouldn't see a perfectly good and decent man, those of which were so hard to come by these days, go off the deep end head first. She watched him down a shot of tequila before slamming her hand on top of the glass before the bartender could refill it,

"No! I can't! I can stop you from drinking. I take you home. I can look after you like any friend would, any family would. But I can't stop him from haunting you. You have to do that yourself. And you can do that Wesley." She caught sight of Angel and Gunn entering the club and made a hand gesture to keep them back.

"We'll be there for you, always. But you have to leave the past where it belongs; in the past. He's gone Wesley and I don't need a vision to know that he was proud of you, even if he never said it. We're all proud of you. But please, don't let your father's delusions of your happiness spoil your real happiness." She watched as he slowly let go of the glass. She wasn't even sure he had taken it in he had consumed so much alcohol, but there seemed to be a hint of realization in his eyes.

"Let us take you home?" she asked softly, placing a hand over his as Gunn and Angel came up behind him. He slipped from the stool, so drunk that he threatened to collapse on the floor. Gunn was there though, wrapping Wesley's arm over his shoulders and wrapping his own arm round Wesley's waist as he tried not to breathe in the smell of alcohol,

"Come on English. Lets get you home."

Angel and Cordy watched Gunn and Wesley leave the club as Lorne came up to them,

"Did you solve his problems peach pie?" Cordelia looked up at the Host,

"I hope so." She said as she turned to look at Angel,

"We'll take him home."

Angel nodded as he watched Cordelia disappear out the door too,

"The man's messed up Angel cakes." Lorne said sitting back down at the bar, gesturing for Angel to join him.

"He came in here looking for answers that no one could provide but himself."

"I know Wesley's been through a lot, but he won't tell any of us and like Cordy says its not our place to ask. I'm just not sure he'll get over what's happened."

"Give it time sweet potato. Things will sort themselves out and he'll make his own path."

*********************************************************************

Gunn let Wesley collapse onto the bed, his eyes closing immediately. Cordelia pulled his shoes off and removed his glasses as Gunn put the throw from the end of the bed over him,

"Man he's gonna have one hell of a hangover."

"Let's just hope he remembers what I said to him." Cordelia said as she closed the door to Wesley's bedroom behind them,

"What did yah say to him?" Cordelia frowned as she cast a glance round the messy apartment, changing the subject.

"Want to grab a broom?" Gunn sighed, getting the point. Wesley would tell when he was ready to and Cordelia wasn't going to diverge the details,

"I ain't takin' the kitchen. Not after you mentionin' rats. They give me the willies. With their beady eyes and their teeth and tails." He shuddered,

"You can do the kitchen." He said heading across the other side of the living room, starting to put books away,

"You're a meringue." She said under her breath.

*********************************************************************

It was almost two o'clock in the afternoon before Wesley's eyes opened blearily. He pulled himself from his bed, holding his head in his hands for a moment as he suddenly remembered yesterday. He padded down the corridor and into the kitchen, not even noticing the tidiness of his place. He found a glass of water and a box of aspirin on the kitchen work surface with a note attached to it. It read,

'Thought you might need these and also didn't find any rats under the fridge but I wouldn't open it for a few days. Luv Cor and Gunn.' He smiled at the note as he swallowed the pills, drinking deeply into the glass. He stared at the phone for a moment as he continued to drink, deciding whether or not to call. He didn't, instead slouching back down the corridor to the bathroom and a cold shower.

*********************************************************************

"Afternoon." Cordelia jumped. Startled by the sudden voice that had seemed to appear out of nowhere, almost knocking over her cup of cold coffee. She stood up going to the counter, smiling at the freshly shaven Wesley standing on the other side,

"How's your head?"

"Sore." He confessed,

"But thank you." She frowned, confused slightly. Maybe he had remembered or maybe he was thanking her for the note, or for cleaning his apartment or -

"For what?"

"For everything you said last night." Cordelia flashed him a smile.

"You know it's true right?" he nodded as the door to the Hyperion opened and Gunn came through holding two pizza boxes,

"Sorry it took so long but - Hey English!" he said as he set the pizza boxes down on the desk,

"Want some pizza? 'Cause your fridge was pretty bare when we left it last night."

"No thank you. Not all that hungry." Angel came down the stairs and into the lobby,

"Can I smell pizza?" he asked as Cordelia started to stuff her face with a slice,

"God can you like smell that all the way up in your room?" Angel shifted into the group, standing on the other side of Wesley.

"Wesley. How are you feeling?"

"Things seem clearer this morning. Even if I do think my head might explode." Gunn smiled slightly,

"Getting drunk will do that to yah." He said before tucking into the pizza, offering Wesley a slice. He looked at it dubiously before taking it as Angel reached across him.

"You got chillies?" he asked excitedly,

"I thought you were on a diet?" Cordelia teased,

"Hey man, leave the food for the people who actually need it." Gunn said slapping his hand away and lifting the pizza box. Angel frowned as he stared at Gunn, before trying to grab the pizza box back. They started to play fight, trying to get the box from one another as Wesley and Cordelia looked on laughing.

"Give!"

"No way man!"

Cordelia had been right. He had family, even if he had lost his real one, and he wasn't going to let his father spoil his happiness anytime soon,

"Wes catch!"

This was home indefinitely.

****************************~*THE END*~****************************