Disclaimer: Characters/Concepts of Angel belong to Mutant Enemy, et al. No profit made.

Written for soundingsea for the Fred Ficathon.

Note: I'm assuming that while the events that were mind wiped didn't happen, some of the same results were achieved despite that. Soooooo, for some reason or other, Wesley was blackballed from AI in season three, etc.


"The Periodic Table of Wesley"

Everything can be classified. Fred knows this. It's just a matter of looking closely, of recognizing enough identifying traits to figure out what something is.

People are a different story. It's not easy to tuck someone into a neatly labeled category, because they're always changing. Always evolving. Always being altered by circumstance and environment.

But at their heart, Fred believes that people have a true state. A state that suits them entirely. One that they aren't born into, but become. That defines them completely and says everything there is to say about them. A state that may get cloudy and fogged up, but will always remain true once realized.

On a rooftop, with the harsh, jarring sounds of bullets firing, Fred classifies Wesley.


Cadmium is a soft, bluish-white metal and is easily cut with a knife.

Not long after Fred got back from Pylea, when she was still keeping herself locked away in a room at the Hyperion, Cordelia sat outside of the door and talked for a while. She told Fred about Wesley. About the prim and proper Englishman who showed up in Sunnydale as the new Watcher to the Slayer. She told Fred about the Wesley that showed up in Los Angeles after he was fired.

Fred thinks that variation of Wesley was like cadmium. Especially after Cordy told her about how Wesley used to scream--a high-pitched squeal--when faced with danger.

Cadmium bars scream, too, when they're bent.


Wesley was titanium when Fred first met him.

Pale English face clean-shaven, light reflecting in white geometric designs off the surface of his glasses. Soul and conscience squeaky clean and sparkling like a child's.

It's deceptive, titanium. It's strong, it isn't heavy, and it's very resistant to corrosion. At first glance, it seems dependable. Like it will always just be what it is. But titanium is the only element that burns in nitrogen.

Because of that, it's great in fireworks.


Magnesium tarnishes slightly in air, and finely divided magnesium readily ignites upon heating burns with a dazzling white flame.

Wesley became magnesium that year after Fred got back. Which is scientifically impossible, but seeing as how she's using all of this metaphorically, she'll ignore the blatant ridiculousness of it all.

He became magnesium. It happened slowly and no one even noticed until it was too late. All that air taking away his shiny surface, then life just cut him up. One slice here. One slice there. All of them culminating in a Wesley that was sliced into dozens of fine pieces.

It took just the hint of a match to ignite him into something that burned so bright with things dark and lost that no one could stand to look at him.


Chromium is steel-gray, hard, metallic, and takes a high polish.

When Wesley was away from them, Fred supposes that he was chromium. She didn't see him but once or twice during that time, but when she thinks about what he was before then, and what he was after, she thinks chromium makes sense.

She imagines that he polished himself up real good, and glorified in his steel-gray metallic state. That he enjoyed how nothing could pierce his exterior against his will. That he kept everything soft and malleable hidden far away.

She's glad he didn't stay that way. Chromium's compounds are toxic.


Cobalt is a brittle, hard, transition metal.

Last year Wesley was cobalt, which is even more deceptive than titanium. Because vitamin B12 is a compound, and it contains cobalt. Cobalt brings things together to make them useful, joins them into something that's necessary. And it's all rather fitting, to Fred's mind, that Marmite is an excellent source of B12, what with Wesley being English and eating Marmite being what makes English people English.

Cobalt salts also color glass a beautiful deep blue, and maybe that's why Fred never really noticed what pretty blue eyes Wesley had until last year.


Zinc is a bluish-white, lustrous metal. It's brittle at ambient temperatures, but is malleable at others.

There are a lot of similarities between cadmium and zinc, but zinc seems to stand on its own, while cadmium always suffers the inevitable comparison.

Wesley is zinc now, and Fred thinks that it's his natural, true state. Zinc's hardness is determined by circumstance and environment, and lately she has seen Wesley span every range of hardness that there is. Nowadays she can see the brightness of Wesley's intents as clearly as she can see his bright blue eyes.

Zinc doesn't scream when cut and it doesn't burn blindingly bright like magnesium does, but it can be cut, and it can burn.

Zinc is an essential element, all on its own.


Murder in Fred's name is what ended things between her and Charles. Tonight she watched Wesley empty a clip into what he thought was his father, also in Fred's name.

She stands in Wesley's office staring at him in his zinc state, and her stomach is churning. That could be because she hasn't eaten recently and too much zinc on an empty stomach can cause nausea, but she thinks it's actually because classifying Wesley's true state has made her finally see him.

Fred knows that it takes twice as much food for a zinc deficient animal to gain the same amount of weight as an animal that has sufficient zinc. She wonders if all of Wesley's zinc has given them enough weight that they'll still be able to meet each other's eyes in the aftermath of this latest murder, which she and Charles couldn't do. Weight enough, even, to brave uncharted terrain.

It all depends on what Fred's true state is, and that's something she doesn't know because there aren't enough degrees of separation for her to accurately classify herself.

What she fears is that she might be sulfur, which burns noxiously and cloudily when burned with zinc.

What she fears even more is that they'd burn before getting to experience anything else.

*** End