By Ruth Quist
Rating: T (for language and violence, same as show)
Disclaimers: This fan fiction is copyrighted (2004) by the author. No infringement on the rights of Mutant Enemy, Inc., Greenwolf Corp., Lazy Dave, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, Twentieth Century Fox Television, UPN or The WB, or any other legitimate holders of copyright for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, or any other characters contained therein is intended. This material is produced entirely for the entertainment of fans. No profit is made.
Fred had looked all over for Wesley and finally found him on the roof, of all places. You'd have thought they'd had enough of rooftops for awhile.
She plopped down beside him and he smiled at her. She nudged him with her shoulder playfully, "Wha' cha' doin' up here, Wesley?"
"I was just thinking things through, and it just always seems easier up here." He shoved a loose pebble with the toe of his shoe randomly around the roof's surface.
"Okay," she said supportively, "wanna share?"
He seemed to think for a while, and she waited patiently for him to gather his thoughts. Finally, he began to speak, "I was just trying to figure out what exactly was happening to the demon and me; you know, why we were so crazy. I think I've figured it out. My inner bodily functions, heartbeat, lungs, and circulation system, were creating an endless litany of noise that was slowly driving me and the demon insane. At first, I think the demon wanted to corrupt me, to gain control, but it never completely succeeded, even though it tried. By the end, we both just wanted it to end. The demon was just determined to do as much damage as possible before we died. That's why it attacked Angel. It hoped to destroy a champion for good before immolating itself and me." He smirked, "Of course, neither of us realized that only the demon would go puff if it was in a living body."
"So, why are you hangin' out on the roof again?" Fred asked, her face questioning.
Wesley grimaced, "The demon tried to use my feelings about my father and Winston to gain control. Those were my weakest points for the demon to use against me. Now that my father has told me the truth, I can understand even better why those relationships were such a vulnerable place in my heart."
He fell silent and Fred let the silence grow, allowing him to think and hugging his arm while he struggled with the myriad of feelings swirling within him. He had explained to Fred earlier about his father's revelation concerning the switch of babies. She knew he had to still be working through his feelings over that knowledge. Her feelings were simpler; Roger was a toad! She should have sent him to have a conversation with Professor Siedel!
Suddenly, Wesley burst out, "I can't help but feel that Winston was doomed from the minute he was born. I used to think it was 90 seconds that doomed him, but now it seems that the random chance of illness doomed him."
Fred asked incredulously, "Do you really believe that? I don't!" At Wesley's look of uncertainty, she make her position clear, "Just as you and Winston had different abilities, you had different ways of dealing with life. Nobody made him treat you badly. After all, you were all treated badly by your father. Did you feel the need to hurt others just because they hurt you?"
Wesley shook his head 'no' slowly.
Fred persisted, "Last year we hurt you terribly. You were upset, but you still helped us. Would Winston have done that?"
Wesley admitted, "No, I suppose not."
Fred was adamant, "You are a good man, Wesley. You're a good man because you decided to be one despite your father, despite Winston, despite Billy, despite everything. You always try to do the right thing. You're so gentle, you care so deeply—but you have a ruthlessness that scares me sometimes."
Wesley looked surprised, "Fred, I…"
"Inside you is a willingness to sacrifice yourself for what you think is right. You seem to protect everyone but yourself!"
Wesley, "Ruthless! You make me sound like my father."
Fred laughed shortly, "You're nothing like your father. He's perfectly willing to sacrifice everyone but himself. He doesn't know how to love, let alone sacrifice for those he barely knows. You've always understood and the world is better for it."
"You make love sound like a strength," Wesley commented, a little confused.
"It is! And without it, your father is weak," Fred said firmly.
Wesley looked at her in disbelief, "I think my father would disagree about our relative strengths."
Fred was a little angry at his unwillingness to believe in himself and willingness, even now, to put any credence in anything his father thought, "Don't you realize! You are stronger than your father in every way. Maybe that's why he resents you."
Wesley looked shocked at her statement and then grew thoughtful. Slowly he smiled until he was beaming at her. She laughed and shook him playfully as he laughed too and then he became completely serious as he drew her close for a kiss.
He leaned back a little and said teasingly, "So, will you accede to my wishes like a good little wife should?"
She bit back indignantly, "Accede! I'm not going to be some doormat for…Wait! Wife? Did you say…wife?" She looked searchingly into his now serious expression.
Wesley said simply, "You don't have to accede to all my wishes. How about just this one?"
Fred was struck speechless and gaped at him in astonishment. As the silence drew on, he gently touched her brow drawing her soft hair back, "It's all right; you can say no if you want. It's…it's not time yet."
She could see the shutters sliding down in his eyes, and without either of them moving she was aware that the distance between them was growing.
However, she'd always known the answer; she just didn't think he'd ask. She put her arms around his neck and said as though contemplating the idea, "Well,…I suppose I could accede just this once. As long as you don't expect it every time."
He smiled broadly, and in his brilliant blue eyes she saw, for the first time, into the completely open depths of the deep waters of his soul. His gentleness, his vulnerability, and his all-abiding love were all open for her to see as he let go of all the walls that his natural reserve had always created between him and the world…and it was beautiful.
They'd come down to Angel's office to tell everyone the news when Angel opened a large manila envelope and, with a flash and bang, Spike appeared with a scream. Angel looked dismayed, shouted out "Spike!" and almost immediately, the two got into an argument.
Wesley remarked mildly to Fred, "Won't this make an interesting first report to Giles?"
She just smiled.
Thanks to all the people who reviewed! I didn't expect to get so many reviews at the end. Thanks to Spuffyshipper! Someone in the beginning of the fic wanted me to kill Roger off, but I thought it would be more satisfying for Mr. Control Freak to be completely thwarted. Somebody like that would rather be dead than lose control and be humiliated publicly. And, yes, Faith, always a hoot. I would have loved Angel's dream to be true. Much better storyline, definitely. It was not to be, though. It would be a good fanfic to carry out the storyline from there, but the writer would have to add tension and plot from that point because it does leave everyone happy with no loose ends, except Angel losing his soul. I guess that could be very interesting to use as a plot. You're right, it would be a cool fic. Although the writer would have to be very creative in order to keep Cordy alive. Thanks deadlymistress24! What nice words! Sorry about so little Wes/Fred, but that is in this chapter. Hope it's satisfying. It was for me. I'm glad Faith was as fun to read as she was to write. Thanks to gopie! Twice! I think you're talking about "The Exorcist." Thank you! Nice to be compared to a classic horror movie! If you were surprised by the twists and the directions the fic took, I've done my job right. Thank you very much! As far as Roger, nope, can't feel sorry for someone who reaches adulthood and victimizes others. Many times, such people are victims themselves as children (I have to wonder what his father was like), but one of the points of this fic is that peoples' lives are shaped by the choices they make. They can choose to be creeps, like Roger and Winston, or they can rise above their upbringing, like Wes, Faith, and Mary. Some people are very damaged by their past and have to spend enormous effort (and often get help from psychologists) overcoming it (which is totally unfair!), but if we don't believe that people have free will, then people are just some kind of genetic-encoded robots. I think I prefer to believe in free will. Sorry, I will now officially get off my soapbox. Thank you so much for reviewing.
Thank you all for reviewing! If anyone bothers to review the final chapter, I'll email a reply if I have the address available. In any case, thanks all!
By the way, in my universe, things would go much better. Cordelia would wake up and stay, Fred might be turned into Illyria, but she'd turn out to be sharing space rather than consumed, and the team would get outta Dodge and go back to fighting the good fight from the Hyperion (maybe with Spike and Faith at their side now, annoying Angel all the way).
I would end it happy; I know that.
And finally, to quote the poem Twas the Night before Christmas, "Happy Christmas (or Happy Holidays) to all and to all a good night!"