A/N: Just a short Wes/Fred one-shot set back in season three, during the fallout between the group. The episode is Forgiving, the one where Wesley is unconscious for most of the time, while Fred is adamant that he wouldn't do anything to hurt her. It also incorporates the episode Billy, where Wesley is 'possessed' by a kid that hates women. Towards the end of that episode, we see Wesley sitting in his apartment, and there are scrunched up pieces of paper on the floor beneath him. Just my two cents worth.

Disclaimer: All characters, etc, belong to their respective owners. I own nothing except the words.

No Longer

I don't think you're going to find it there.

Mockingly, discretely trying to veer me off course. What would he know? The trashcan was as good a place as any to look.

Charles didn't understand the meticulous methods of a man long gone and probably never coming back. His work, his findings, his roughly drawn maps and notations scrawled on otherwise empty pages were no more understood by himself, let alone me and my naivety.

But still, I knew. I knew he had not meant to hurt anyone.

Not him.

Not my Wesley.

I felt Charles slip a protective arm around my waist, pulling me in. Little comfort in his warm embrace. He assured me, whispered to me that everything was going to be okay. Coaxing his distressed girl into a wild state of sombre confusion.

He was not Wesley. He didn't know.

The small basket lay overturned on the wooden planks that never seemed to grow any colour. Wesley should have known that colour brought warmth. Guess he didn't want that, either.

Paper curled in bunches on the hard floor, paper filled with scrawl that no longer held anything beyond what they appeared to hold.

Charles had not noticed when I smoothed out a scrunched bundle of paper, folding it carefully before slipping it into my pocket.

It had my name written on it. Roughly, though, like an afterthought.

The books were full of meaning I no longer understood. I would have understood them, a time not long ago when he would have been leaning over me from behind, instructing me on how to read inscriptions, how to decipher ancient text.

Now he was gone and I no longer understood.

I wanted to stay, to soak up the emptiness and paint colour into the cold planks of wood that had long died. But Charles wanted to leave. Charles always wanted to leave. Never in one place for long. Never studious or calculated or meticulous. Just a shot of speed like a bullet.

Like a Gunn.

Wesley would let me stay if I wanted. He would stay with me, long into the night, just talking. No, not even talking. We would stare. Stare at books, notes, papers. Each other.

But we wouldn't talk.

If we needed to, we would write things to each other. We would pass notes like children at school. We would not break the silence with sharp, broken voice.

There would be no need. Not with Wesley.

The truck drove roughly through the night streets covered in a shroud of calculated madness. It made noise as it sped over tumultuous ground, unlevelled gravel and steep roads. Charles didn't seem to care for the disturbing break in solace. He just kept driving.

It was a fortress of ice as we stepped into it. The hotel was cold. Like it had been those few months when everything was foreign and scary to me. I could hear every sound echo hollowly through the halls. I didn't like it.

I wanted Wesley to guide me, to coax me, to lead me. But he wouldn't ever again. I knew that. It was no longer.

Wesley was no longer.

Just a few words on a crumpled paper that bit into me as I read them. His writing seemed perfect, as beautiful and full as I had ever seen it. And it was that way for me.


Your name alone invokes my sorrow. I can no longer speak it, no longer think it nor hear it. It is yours, and I fear I have taken something from you that I can never give back.

Your trust.

He was speaking of remorse, of sorrow. Maybe he would come back to me.

I hurt you and for that I will never be more sorry.

Suddenly I knew what he was talking about. It wasn't about his betrayal or sorrow for taking Connor from us; it was a letter he had written to me after he had been infected by Billy's rage. He never had given me a letter. I guess this was it.

You came to me just before, your eyes warm and forgiving. You begged me to come back to work, to forget about what had happened. Your hand had attempted to reach me, to trace the cuts that bleed easily if disturbed.

I remembered his recoil when I wanted to comfort him. It stung just as his cuts would have.

Maybe one day you can forgive me…no, that's not right. Maybe one day I can forgive myself. I know you have already forgiven me.

It ended. His beautifully flowing handwriting ended without an ending. His soothing sorrow cast a shadow of beautiful bitterness over me. I was shrouded in an apology that stripped his insides open and displayed his pulsing heart. It stripped my own skin open.

No hesitation had brought itself upon me when I saw him that time, on the border of his apartment, teetering on the edge. I saw him and there was no way, even if I wanted to, I could blame him for what had happened. The things he had said hadn't come from his lips; the violence in his actions wasn't controlled by his own mind. The cruel comfort of his lips on mine, if only for a brief second, was not fuelled by the hatred of his own being.

It was Billy. Always had been Billy. From the moment he patronised me, to the moment he hauled me by the neck and kissed me. That hadn't been Wesley. Not my Wesley.

My Wesley would never do anything to hurt me. Not even steal Angel's child. No, my Wesley hadn't done that to hurt me. He had done that to save me.

My Wesley, I knew, loved me.

The messy ink on the page dripped in pools of steady sapphire. I realised, as if waking from a dream, I was crying. The hot tears seared the page, blotching out the writings of a broken man beyond repair.

My Wesley was gone. He had left a hollow echo in the hotel; a mellow madness and suffocating silence that grew duplicates as the night wore on.

And still no Wesley.

I stood over his desk, turning my head achingly over my shoulder, grasping a memory of him walking towards me. A memory that would forever live on, because without it, he would be Wesley no longer.

A/N: Reviews are always appreciated :)