Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me, of course.
A/N: Reviews very much appreciated. I know people tend to hate this guy, but why not a more sympathetic view, just this once?

Change of Heart

He'd always thought nobody would understand him. He was so different, after all. When words like 'genius' are tossed around, one isn't exactly the average child. It seemed a fair trade. He never quite understood people. Theories, machines and science- these were the things he understood. So if he couldn't quite relate to others, it was probably only fair that they couldn't relate to him either.

Then, there had been the Academy, and...Josh. Josh, who just rolled his eyes and laughed if Wesley was inadvertently rude. Josh, to whom he discovered he could express his embarrassment, at the memories of how brash and obnoxious a child he was slowly realising he had been. He cringed to think of what others must have thought of him. In fact, it was to their credit that they'd managed to remain kind to him through some of his more unpleasant moments.

Still, Josh didn't mind. Wesley wasn't the same now, anyway. He was trying to change, trying to get along better with others, and Josh had always been only too happy to help. In return for help in some of the more difficult classes, Wesley was given help in a subject that there had never been a class on- life, and other people. Subtle reminders were enough to make him apologise or cut off a lecture before it could offend the recipient. He found that people looked at him differently now. They treated him as an equal, a potential friend. It felt good.

There was more, of course. At first he'd thought it was just gratitude- he owed Josh for helping him, he knew that...but after a few particularly unusual dreams, he began to realise the truth. In the midst of his hesitation over whether he might make his friend uncomfortable by discussing it, he was overjoyed when Josh proved to have more courage in confessing the same realisation.

Wesley found himself turning his intellect to more exciting matters, like finding places they could sneak off to and steal kisses in privacy, or finding ways to convey affection for Josh without anyone ever suspecting the extra meaning in his words. It wasn't necessary, but it was...fun. It was fun to play at secrets and half-truths that harmed nobody, that merely added an extra little thrill to life. He could never really tell anyone just how it had felt to allow Josh to wear his sweater on their skiing trip. On the surface, it just looked like the gesture of a close friend, but underneath....he was helping Josh, taking care of him. It warmed him better than the sweater ever had.

Then there was the accident, and everything changed. Josh was gone. Amid the guilt and grief, Wesley could feel himself reverting to his old personality. He knew Josh wouldn't have wanted that, but he couldn't seem to stop it. Everything seemed to hurt less this way. The connections to others that had felt so good before, he now severed, because they were bringing him only pain.

Deep inside himself, he hoped that maybe one day he could be again the person Josh had loved.