Title: Reverberations

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: All your Buffy are belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, & etc.

Rating: PG

Summary: Re·ver·ber·ate (verb) -- 1 a : to become driven back b : to become reflected 2 : to continue in or as if in a series of echoes

Spoilers: Angel 5.11 "Damage" (Aired US 1/28/04)

Notes: I had an immediate, and rather visceral, reaction to tonight's episode of Angel. There were so many things I wanted to say about it ... and a few of them floated to the surface in Wesley's voice. 900 words.

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//"You're just going to let him take her away?"//

Wesley remembered his own words hours later with a wince, and poured another splash of whiskey into his glass. A young representative of the Council, with orders from on high, removing the disturbed Slayer to spirit her away 'for her own good' ... The comparison with his own history was more disturbing than he wanted to admit, though the current situation was obviously a little more extreme.

After all, at that point in her history Faith had not yet become a cold-blooded murderer; likewise, he had never been as painfully awkward, self-centered, and righteously judgmental as ...

Well, perhaps that wasn't the best line of reasoning. "Maybe Giles was wrong about you, after all," indeed.

Wesley shuddered, tossed back the contents of his glass, and poured himself another shot. What would their world have been like, had he not sent Faith to the Mayor's side all those years ago? What would the world be like *now*, had they not joined forces with Wolfram & Hart? Since coming here, they'd stripped life and power from a handful of high-octane 'evil-doers' and reformed the firm's operating procedures, but how much good had they really wrought?

"I'll be out there, doin' his job," Spike had bragged. Even if the vampire been overly dramatic and wrong in his initial identification of the woman, Wesley had felt a muted pang of - guilt? Longing? Denial? - go straight through him at those words.

Once they had fought evil, hands-on, on a nearly daily basis. Now they *worked* with evil, downloaded evil into their minds, handled and *delegated* evil instead. Wesley's memories of the prior year were curiously blurred in many places, but he still remembered how always *dirty* he felt when with Lilah, even if he'd reveled in the self-punishment at the time. Whatever he'd done to alienate himself from the group - he couldn't quite remember now, though it must have been quite important for him to take the risk - he'd still felt tainted even at one remove from these offices, and now he sat in one every single day with barely a twinge from his moral conscience.

//"Oddly, once again we find ourselves in a bit of a grey area."//

There was something very, very wrong with this image.

Why *had* they joined Wolfram & Hart? Why was it, exactly, that no one (including himself) ever spoke of Cordelia anymore? Why was it that he felt distrust and *betrayal* lurking beneath his consciousness whenever he faced his closest friend? Nothing he could remember - save perhaps the idiotic trust Gunn had shown in accepting the legal 'upgrade' - gave him much reason to feel that way. And yet ... he did.

"You went evil a lot faster than I thought you would," he could remember Angel saying, after the hiring of Harmony. He'd laughed at the time. But now he was beginning to wonder if the joke wasn't on him, in the end. On all of them. How could they possibly have overlooked an army's worth of Slayers springing up 'round the world? They were so caught up in the carrot-on-a-stick of Shansu, the intricacies of demonic politics, and the pro's and con's of the various shiny objects at their disposal that they weren't seeing the trees for the forest. Or even much of the forest, really.

Wesley slammed the bottle down on the vast, polished desktop and pushed back in the rolling chair, turning it just a little so he could see out of the expanse of necro-tinted windows. So why was he still here? Blind loyalty to an old dream? The fading remnants of an unrequited crush? Because Gunn had 'marked' him as 'his territory'?

Wesley snorted at that last thought; he was beginning to feel the drink, though the point had been valid. Why *was* he still here? It wasn't for the silver pen with his name on it, certainly. He was allowed to play with his (admittedly excellent) library and oversee a great deal of the office infrastructure, make the odd suggestion here or there, but on matters of any substance...

//"Tell me, Father, what is it that galls you so? That I was never as good at the job as you, or that I just might be better?"//

Wesley shuddered again and got up out of his chair. He was here because they were his *friends*, damn it, and because there was nowhere else he could better put his talents to use in fighting the good fight.

Except, of course, for the new Council. Who might give him a chance in, oh, a score of years. Or with Spike, as he'd done for Angel in the beginning, running down clues and spell fragments in the meagre collection of books he actually owned. That is, if Spike thought of him at all other than as the former "Head Boy" who was "grown in some sort of green house for dandies" -- or was at all tolerable to be around.

No, this was his destiny, now. No matter how ironic or painful it might seem.

Wesley reached out and ran a finger down the smooth, darkened surface of a windowpane, looking out over the darkened landscape of a city full of people in need of help.

This was where he had to be.

This was where he deserved to be.

~fin~