DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Never was, never will be.
SPOILERS: AtS – Set between S3's "Tomorrow" and S4's "Deep Down"
FEEDBACK: Yes, please

Now I see the times they change
leaving doesn't seems so strange
I am hoping I can find,
Where to leave my hurt behind.
All this shit I seem to take,
All alone I seem to break.
I have lived the best I can,
Does this make me not a man?

He wonders what life would be like now if he hadn't taken Connor.

It's occupied his mind often over the long, lonely, summer months as he recuperated from the injury that had resulted in the baby being taken from him, disappearing with Holtz into that hell dimension.

Would he still be running Angel Investigations? Would his friends be there for him as they were only a couple of months before? Would he be sharing his bed with Lilah? Or, by some miraculous chance, with Fred?

There are things he knows with certainty. That Angel wouldn't be trapped in a metal box in the middle of the ocean is one. That the son who locked him in the box, the son who should only be six months old and not seventeen years, would not be living in the hotel, pretending, and fooling everyone into believing his pretense, to look for his father. Most importantly to Wesley, his friends wouldn't hate him.

And he wouldn't be alone, cast aside, sharing his bed with a woman who should be, and once was, his enemy.

If he hadn't taken Connor, everything would be different.

Deep down, there was a part of him that wishes he could go back, see his friends. He's well aware that he can't, he's not willing to let Angel make good on his threats. He does wonder what would happen, should he and Angel come face to face again. Would it be asphyxiation this time, or simple decapitation?

A soft moan draws his eyes to the closet, the woman chained and gagged behind it. He longed for the moment he could exact his revenge, slice her throat carefully enough to not strike the jugular and the quicker release that death would give her, but leave her to slowly bleed to death just like she had him.

If it hadn't been for her, things might have been a lot different too.

Angel would still kill him the moment he saw him again. Can't say he blames him either really, not when you get to the root of the matter.

He did take the man's son. Plan on running away with the child for fear that he'd come to harm. It's what the prophecy had said, after all; the Father would devour the Son. He'd seen the signs, interpreted their meaning. He wasn't to know that they were just a fabrication, a web of vengeance and intrigue designed to fool him.

They didn't see it from his side though, his friends. Didn't ask him for his version of events before casting him out, didn't even try to understand.

Perhaps, if that's what his friends are like, they weren't truly his friends at all. Not in the way he'd hoped them to be anyway, not in the way he'd believed them to be. Even Fred, his kind, beautiful, Fred, who had been so relieved when they found him, turned around with a tongue so bitter and scathing that he'd had to wonder if this was the same innocent girl they'd rescued from Pylea.

The woman he'd grown to love, but had given her heart to another.

He wondered sometimes, in the dark moments that seemed so commonplace now, if he was always doomed to be the failure his father constantly told him he was. It seemed that no matter how noble and good his intentions they always went awry, always ended up losing him everything that mattered to him.

"Screw good intentions," he mutters to himself, running a hand over the five o'clock shadow he was cultivating on his jaw. "And screw them."

Taking a final swig from the bottle of whiskey in his hand, he drops it on the sofa as he stands and walks over to the closet. Opening the door, he stares at Justine for a moment with embittered eyes, ignoring the hatred and anger that burns in her own.

He wants nothing more than to beat her to within an inch of her life, but that's one line he won't cross. Not yet, anyway, not while he still needs her.

He has one last thing left to do. Once he's found him, returned him to his home, his family, Wesley vows he's through with them all. One life for another. Once the debt with Angel is clear he'll be free of them. Free from his own personal hell. Once he's found Angel it'll all be over and he can move on.

If he's learnt one thing in the last couple of months it's that it's too late for regrets. There's no way to go back and change the past. There's no point on dwelling on mistakes made that can no longer be undone.

He's beyond regrets and beyond apologies now. He's beyond them all.

Reaching into the closet he grabs the chains binding her wrists behind her back, tacked to the wall to prevent her from escaping, yanks on them until she's on her knees in front of him. "I think it's time for us to head out again, don't you?"

She says something and despite it being muffled by the gag in her mouth, he's discerning enough to know it's far from polite. He wouldn't expect any less of her, hasn't heard anything come from her mouth that has hurt him any more than the pain she's inflicted by her actions.

The temptation to strike her does increase though. All it takes is the sight of her for that to happen. Instead he yanks on the chains hard enough to pull her to her feet in front of him. She knows better than to do anything other than obey him. She's learnt the hard way.

She's glaring daggers at him, he's learnt to ignore that too, but she nods in acquiescence. He smiles, the gesture no longer reaches his eyes, looks forced on his face. He doesn't care; he's beyond pleasantries with her.

"Good girl," he murmurs, loosing the chains enough for her to drop back to her knees with a soft grunt. "Very good. I want this to be over."

Because, he thinks to himself, the sooner that happens, the sooner I can kill you.

The sooner he can move on with his life and put this wretched past behind him.