Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue.
Spoilers: Through season 3.
Summary: AU from the episode Loyalty onwards. Another version of what could have happened after possibly the best Wesley episode of the series.
Feedback: Please with sugar on top.
Hi there. Remember me?
No? Let me give you some clues. I know you 21st century types think you're all world wise and jaded. Nothing shocks you people anymore. You've probably seen hundreds of demons like me, and I bet we all look the same to you, am I right? Well, I'm not exactly so easy to forget.
The haircut is usually where most people get stuck. It can really knock a guy's self-confidence to know that he can be judged so quickly. And there's really no need to point out the hideously disfiguring facial scars. I know they're there, okay? But don't let the tough, evil hell-being exterior fool you. I'm really a nice guy once you get to know me. Hell, centuries of inter-dimensional time travel really lets you see past all that megalomaniac crap, you know? I've seen it and done it all, and then some. And I still don't have time to get bitter. Figures. If it's for a good reason though, I can sometimes summon the energy. But I'll get on to that later.
I have a great sense of humour, which is why I can take any digs you might feel like making about my robes. (What can I say, I'm a traditionalist.) Plus I have the added knowledge that not only am I gonna be around for much longer than you can even imagine, but I have also seen places, times and things you could never dream of. As a master of time shifting, I know just how to change things to make sure you don't have a nice future, or maybe even exist at all, know what I'm saying? So don't piss me off, 'cause you really don't want to know what a lifetime of suffering feels like.
Having said that, most people don't need to worry. I have much bigger fish to fry, and one in particular you've probably heard about. They call him Angel. Oh, you know who I'm talking about, huh? I thought as much. You humans are way too into your heroes. It's kinda pathetic, actually. Anyways, there was this prophecy… Don't tell me, you know all about that too. Good. At least I can skip the boring part. I'll just recap the ending for you, 'cause that's kinda the important bit and it's part of the reason why I can still bring myself to be sort of vengeful and, I hate to use the word but, downright nasty. This event kind of calls for it.
I, the ancient mystical power that is Sah'jahn, was killed. The fake prophecy I conveniently delivered into the hands of my foretold enemy failed to do its job. The original prediction held true and I was mercilessly slain by Angel's annoying brat spawn after a very uncomfortable stay in that damned urn. They don't give you much room in there, let me tell you.
I guess I should have known. True prophecies have a habit of coming up with the goods, and there's nothing you can do to stop them. I know that now. I guess at the time I was just overly hopeful, but then there wouldn't be much point in having the things if they weren't always right. They wouldn't be divine.
I've learned my lesson. But how come we're having this conversation now, you're wondering. Am I not in hell? Well of course I'm not, dumbass. I wouldn't be the nigh invincible baddie I am now if I didn't always have a backup plan. That's half the fun of inhabiting different dimensions. Die in one of them and a parallel universe can always be commandeered for another try. I learned that trick a long time ago. What, you didn't think I'd leave something like that to chance, did you? It's just that I'm kinda running low on options now, so I'd rather save as many of my habitable existences as I can. Hence why I was so keen on not dieing in the world you're so fond of. That, and I'd kinda grown attached to the place. They served a fine latté there.
So what's so different about this new dimension, I hear you ask. Well, apart from the absence of milky coffees, it's still pretty much the same. Angel's still a big player in the apocalypse (go figure, some things never change) and Wolfram and Hart continue to run the place. I, however, managed to get to the pond scum that doomed me last time before he got the chance to prophesise my death, so I'm hoping I don't have anything to worry about now.
I still want the kid to die though, just in case. That and I know what an irritating little sonofabitch it could turn out to be. That's why I pulled some very big strings and managed to get my little work of art declared as a genuine prophecy. After all, I want Angel to pay for his part in what happened last time, and as we all know, what better way to get to him than through his offspring? As for the vampire hunter, what a waste of time that was. The only favour he did me was to cause a bit of trouble. He sure did a number on the kid.
Without Holtz around, it might not have turned out to be so god-damned moody. And it certainly wouldn't have gotten so old and well-trained so quickly. Guess I kinda planned my own demise there. I won't make the same mistake again. I think the guy got finished off by Angelus back in the day 'cause I didn't freeze him in time. Too bad.
So what do you think? Nice plan, huh? I can tell you're impressed. I can also tell you want to know just how that's gonna work out for the whole sorry bunch. Well, I suppose I could spare a few hours in my hectic schedule to tell you about it. I do so love to get the occasional bit of appreciation for all the hard work I put in, and a little fearful awe on your part wouldn't go amiss either.
Let me just warn you not to get too optimistic. Things tend to have a habit of working out along the same lines no matter what dimension you're in, 'cause when you get the same group of people coming together under the same kinds of pressures… You get the idea. I think, though, that you'll be unpleasantly surprised by some of the events that unfold, which kind of makes my centuries of planning and dedication worth while. I can never hear enough gasps or see enough squirming from you lot when it comes to my evil deeds. So, if you're sitting comfortably, (or whatever, I don't really care if your ass goes numb or not), I'll begin…
Ever since the dream this morning, Wesley's felt like he's been slowly going mad. He can't seem to stop his hands from shaking. Maybe it's the copious amounts of coffee he's been pouring down his throat to keep himself alert, or maybe it's the fact he hasn't eaten anything bar his own fingernails for the last couple of days. Then again, maybe it's the lack of sleep. He can't remember the last time he had a full night, and that was before this mess even came to his attention. He'd been so intent on finding information about Connor's miracle birth that he had completely forgotten about rest.
It would explain why he's feeling increasingly unhinged. Coupled with the intense emotional stress, the physical exertion is killing him. That awful nervous fluttering in the pit of his stomach hasn't gone away for hours now and it's starting to prevent him from thinking straight. The cold dread that washes over him every time he sees Angel is only adding to the strain.
That's why he can't quite work out why he's up here now sitting in Angel's room while he makes a meal for the baby on the stove. He thinks maybe he had persuaded himself to finally confront Angel and tell him everything, but he seems to have mislaid the energy with which to do anything of the sort. Somewhere halfway between the office and here, his intentions morphed into an urgent need to check on Connor, to make sure he and Angel were still alright.
Watching this infuriatingly domestic scene now, he can't quite imagine why he felt the desire so strongly. It seems like nothing worse than a crying fit from the baby or a badly needed nappy change could possibly happen.
The ridiculousness of his situation finally hits Wesley then, and he can't help but begin a half-crazed laughing fit when Angel mentions something about the philosophy of life. If life has taught Wesley anything, it's that it is cruel. Even so, he never used to be such a cynic, and it strikes him that maybe he's taking all of this a bit too seriously. Worrying about things that will never happen indeed. That's the understatement of his life of late.
Angel smiled along with him, if slightly confused, pleased just to have someone understand his sentiments. Wesley doesn't care that Angel has no idea what he's talking about, he's just glad to let it all out.
But the temporary relief he feels after finally admitting defeat is short-lived. The violent tremor shaking the room catches them both by surprise, but that's where the similarity ends. Whereas Angel panics and rushes frantically to protect his precious Connor, Wesley just stares helplessly, caught up in the event playing out before him. The falling debris plays the background soundtrack as the stove tips and explodes into shooting flames, setting nearby furniture on fire.
And all he can do is stand as his mind goes blank, horror consuming him. The calm certainty that this sequence of disasters would take place removes any shock. If he's honest with himself, he knew this would happen. He doesn't have time to be concerned for his own well-being, or even the short-term safety of Connor or Angel. He's too afraid for what is certain to happen now that the portents have begun to arrive and he knows that, by default, Connor and Angel will be fine until they can fulfil their part.
Maybe a small part of him wanted to die in that very room and that's what kept him glued to the spot. Or maybe he's just too drained to respond to the crisis properly. Whatever the reason, he had little time to ponder. Shouting his name, Angel pulled him roughly by his coat collar, flinging him out of the room and sending him crashing into the corridor wall.
The pain of the sudden collision and the unwarranted force with which he was delivered broke his stupor and renewed his anxiety. Angel seemed to be nothing but gentle however as he cradled Connor in his arms and fussed over him. The gash across Angels head dripped sluggish blood onto the baby's sky-blue blanket.
Earthquake, fire, blood. There could no longer be any doubt. And as Angel raised his head to speak, Wesley's heart froze.
"At least I would have had something to snack on," he smirked.
Fred picked herself up from the floor of her room, helped along by Gunn's strong arm.
"You okay?" he asked her, concerned.
She smiled her affirmative to him as she ducked slightly, still mindful of the falling items spilling from the shelves around her.
"Connor…" she started suddenly, her eyes wide with worry. She didn't need to finish her sentence for Gunn to understand and the pair of them put aside their own shaken worries as they sprinted together to Angel's room.
They had barely rounded the corner in the corridor when they saw him standing there, Connor safe and unharmed in his arms. Gunn blew out a relieved sigh as he slowed next to them, running his eyes over them both to check for himself. Fred went straight to Angel's side to stroke Connor's head.
"Is everyone alright?" she asked, not taking her eyes from the child.
"We're good," Angel replied.
Gunn looked down at Wesley's still stunned face, waiting for a response that didn't come. He frowned, and with a cautious look back into the burning room, moved around to help him stand.
"Wesley. Wes!" He still got no answer as he pulled the stumbling man upright. "Are you hurt?"
Wesley jerked his arm out of Gunn's hold and stepped back a few paces, his dazed expression fixed. He continued to alternate between staring at the blood on the floor at Angel's feet and searching the guy's face.
"Angel, you're cut", Fred gasped after noticing the wound on his head for the first time.
Angel assured her that he was fine and went back to cooing at Connor, clearly not worried about wiping the gathering pool from the child's covering despite its continued flow. Fred refrained from tending the injury and instead turned her attention to Wesley. After seeing him watching the trickle with such fascination, she exchanged a concerned glance with Gunn.
"Maybe we should get downstairs away from this," she tried tentatively, motioning towards the damage in the hope that one of them would snap out of it.
Angel finally seemed to get the idea, a more serious expression settling on his face.
"Right, yeah, you're right. It might not be safe up here. What about…"
"I got it," Gunn finished for him, lugging a fire extinguisher into the room.
"Come on, Wesley," Fred encouraged gently, taking him by the wrist and following Angel down to the lobby. The sound of Gunn's battle with the fire faded behind them as he finally got the blaze under control.
Once in the lobby, Angel set about tucking Connor into his basinet and calming the frightened infant. He soon settled under his father's calming ministrations, the rocking motion and soothing voice drying the tears.
Leaving Wesley to stare at the floor as he sat on the couch deep in troubled thought, Fred approached Angel with a clean cloth and began dabbing at his head. The fast healing had already begun to do its job and had sealed the opening. She wiped away the mess and took the opportunity to lean in close to Angel's ear.
"What's wrong with Wesley?" she asked him quietly.
Angel looked round as if seeing the man for the first time and frowned at what he saw.
"He was acting weird when he came up," he told her. "I don't think he was hurt, but he just stood there. I had to pull him out myself. Maybe it's just the shock."
"He has been kinda stressed out just lately," she agreed. She stuck a bandage in place from the first aid kit. "I'll talk to him."
She fiddled around with some of the medical items in the bag for a while, straightening them and sorting them, all the while glancing covertly in Wesley's direction. He hadn't moved. She slowly made her way over to where he was sat, wringing her hands.
"Can I get you anything?" she asked him. He said nothing. She looked up at Angel, but he just shrugged. She tried again a little more cheerfully. "Do you need me to look at anything?"
"I'm fine, Fred," he told her flatly, still not looking at her. Taken aback slightly by his tone, she turned gratefully to find Gunn returning from upstairs.
Wesley closed his eyes briefly with relief when she finally left him alone. The small measure of guilt he felt for such a harsh rebuff faded rapidly as he listened to her chat happily with Gunn. They acted out the familiar scene, with Gunn feigning a mortal battle injury and Fred swooning over his heroics. It was just harmless fun, but it made Wesley feel slightly sick.
He was immediately reminded of just why he had elected not to involve them in his dilemma in the first place. It wasn't that he didn't necessarily trust them to help, he just didn't believe they would truly care that much. After all, they had as yet failed to notice or mention his obvious deterioration or his building obsession with his work. Even Angel's guilt triggering statement 'you're a good friend' hadn't really seemed heartfelt, as he had only Connor's best interests in mind.
It hadn't worried Wesley at the time though, as he didn't actually believe himself to be a good friend at all. At least not in the sense that Angel had meant it. Besides, he was quite ready to admit that he was not a man that was beyond jealousy, and he couldn't bring himself to get over his petty reservations. They didn't know of Angelus like he did, and had certainly never met him. Confiding in Fred and Gunn just wasn't an option.
He liked to think that if Cordelia was around, she would help him through. He knew he was lying to himself, but he couldn't help it. In truth, he no longer recognised the person who inhabited the Cordelia-shaped space in their group anymore. The last year had been tough on her, he knew, and she had changed. What with Groo around and the arrival of Connor, her almost complete attitude turn-around and serene new personality sometimes made him long for the old days.
If she was protective of Angel back then when he had wrongly accused him of killing people in his sleep, she was certain to take his side again over this. No, Cordelia was unfortunately an unlikely ally.
That left him with few choices. He had no one else to consult, no other sources from which to find advice or, more crucially, some proof that challenged or debunked the prophecy. He didn't even know how long he had since the last of the portents before the event came to pass.
Fred didn't seem to realise just how close he had been to telling her everything right then, because he didn't think he could take much more. The burden was too much. He couldn't shoulder it all on his own. Thankfully, she hadn't pushed far enough, and he had managed to control himself. Didn't she understand that every kind word from her was like a torture?
He glanced round finally to catch the three of them whispering conspiratorially and watching him. He was too tired to feel the least bit embarrassed and simply turned his head away again, enduring their gaze. It occurred to him that they were probably concocting some plan to confront him. They were working out the best way with which to tackle him about his state of mind, and he desperately didn't want to talk about it.
They wanted to feel better about themselves by helping him out, and if he hadn't been feeling so bitter, maybe he'd have taken pity on them. As it was, he was fed up of being a liar. He was not fine, and he was no longer going to tell them otherwise, but he wasn't ready to fill them in, either. To avoid the whole issue, he got up and shut himself in the office without a word in their direction, much to their obvious disappointment.
The full hour it took for Angel to finally summon up the courage to enter the office astonished Wesley. He had listened as Gunn and Fred had said their goodbyes and gone home or to their room…or wherever it was they went these days. He had waited until Angel had put the sleeping Connor to bed after the fitful infant had finally recovered from his interrupted feeding. He even thought he heard Angel rearranging some disturbed furniture.
Wesley had been patient. The much needed solitude had allowed him to come to his decision, no matter how unpleasant the prospect. He had steeled his resolve. There was nothing else he could do, but that didn't mean he wasn't still shaking inside. He both awaited and dreaded Angel's arrival.
There was a quick knock on the office door and Angel entered, a half empty glass of blood in one hand. Wesley's ominous face clearly did not reassure the vampire and he deflated slightly, the cheerful look disappearing. Wesley continued to watch him, waiting for him to start. He dithered.
He surprised himself, but Wesley actually became slightly irritated at that point. He knew that they had probably already realised he was in a dark mood, but he resented being tip-toed around and wished that Angel would just get to the point. He couldn't wait any longer.
"So…" Angel eventually began, only to be immediately interrupted.
"Angel," he said quietly.
"Do you know what you said to me up there in the hallway earlier?"
Angel frowned, thinking the question through. He answered slowly, as if still puzzled by Wesley's intention.
"I don't really remember everything I might have said, it was kind of a blur what with everything going on, you know?"
Wesley nodded his understanding. "That's fair enough, Angel, but…"
"Look, if I yelled, I'm sorry, but I was just worried," Angel cut in. "I didn't mean it."
"That's not what I meant." Wesley sighed. This was not the time to dance around the issue. "You told me that at least you would have had something to snack on. Don't you remember?"
The look on Angel's face told him that he probably didn't, but the denial came anyway.
"Wesley, that's ridiculous. It was just a joke, for Christ's sake!"
Wesley had expected that, but he continued anyway, as determined as ever. Without taking his eyes from Angel's, he leaned forward in his chair and pushed his book and notepad across the desk into his line of sight. Angel went rigid.
The Father Will Kill The Son.
"You must have made some mistake," Angel said dangerously, his quiet tone of voice leaving nothing to the imagination.
"There is no mistake," Wesley simply replied.
Angel moved slowly to the side of the desk and gently placed his glass on the surface. He took the time to make sure Wesley felt the full implication of his words.
"I said GET OUT!"
Angel flung himself across the room and lifted Wesley with him by the throat. Refusing to struggle or resist, Wesley allowed himself to be trapped against the wall with Angel growling in his face. He tried to remain calm.
"I didn't write the prophecy…"
"I ought to kill you right here, but I won't, because I don't do that sort of thing," Angel told him. Wesley wanted to add that he usually didn't attack or threaten his friends either but couldn't find the air. "You have five seconds to leave this hotel before I throw you out."
And what choice did he have but to obey? As he left his life behind, a little part of the old Wesley closed off forever.