Disclaimer - I don't own these characters and never will. I'm just happy to get to play with them.

By D. M. Evans

A full moon, those always made sleep difficult but in my line of work, I don't get to sleep nights anyhow. I didn't exactly have tonight off but I wasn't at the office. I couldn't face them. I hadn't left my apartment since I was let out of the emergency room.

I shifted on my bed, struggling to get away from the silvery light spilling past my curtains. Giving up, I went to pace my living room. I caught sight of myself in the mirror, my face battered, bruised, haunted and I took off my glasses. I became a blur and I preferred it that way. How could this have happened to me?

My friends, each in their own way, had tried to coax me back to work but I simply couldn't. All I wanted was to find a big enough hole to hide in. Perhaps I should drive back to Sunnydale and dive headfirst into the Hellmouth. That might do. At least now I was prepared for that place. If I had had the experience I do now when I first darkened the doorway to Sunnydale High's library things might have been different.better.

I had begun to think that I belonged in L.A., that I finally had a place of my own where I could make a difference. I was someplace where I was wanted, that I was good enough, that I actually mattered and one man managed to take that all from me. He had turned me into my worst nightmare. He had shown me how much of my father was in me.

Angel hadn't been affected by Billy's power. I can accept that. He's not alive. He's something other than human. But the fact that Gunn had proven resistant to it held up a mirror to me that I couldn't bear to look into. True, he had felt Billy's power, felt the hatred slowly bubbling up in him but he retained enough of himself to give Fred warning. He was strong enough to let her batter him into unconsciousness. I had always considered Gunn to be an angry young man but perhaps that was just me unfairly stereotyping him. The only thing I really ever saw him angry about was all the vampires and demons running around in the City of Angels and who could blame him for that.

It stung terribly that I hadn't even been aware of Billy's effect on me. I didn't fight it. I gave in and it had felt good. The words that had come out of my mouth should have terrified me. The look in Fred's eyes should have warned me that something was dreadfully wrong. Instead it felt natural and right. Billy had torn away my veneer and under it lay my father. Billy's magic didn't make something out of nothing so that meant only one thing. I had the potential of being a right bastard lurking in the corners of my soul just waiting for the right kind of light and fertilizer to make it grow.

And it didn't just grow, I thought, giving up on pacing the living room. It exploded forth bearing its sick fruit. I put the kettle on but I knew it would take more than tea to put a balm over this wound. This was a type of self-loathing that just didn't go away. It would fester and poison until lanced. The problem was, I didn't know what to lance it with. I hadn't even known I had such misogyny hiding in me.

What made it all worse was that I am the trusted one in the group. I'm the steady one, the one with the answers. Back in Sunnydale, I had wanted to be all those things but in my enthusiasm to prove my worth, to prove to everyone, especially my father, that I was good enough, I had damaged things before I even got started. I hadn't been prepared for the cold reception from Mr. Giles or worse, the total lack of respect afforded me by Buffy and Faith.

That had hurt, more than I could say and worse, I had no one to say it to. I had no friends in Sunnydale. I wasn't good enough. Father had been right all along. So I bumbled along just making things worse and even my sole supporter, Cordelia, was just like adding fuel to the fire. It had been hard to see her again in L.A. I had almost not stayed on here, knowing she had seen how utterly useless I had been in Sunnydale. But she never held it against me or made me feel weak because of it. But I knew. I had arrived in the States thinking I knew it all. I had known nothing and nearly got us all killed because of it.

I suppose that I should be grateful Billy's influence over me hadn't made me show Cordelia my Janus face. She had been spared the monster that dwelled just below the surface. Maybe that is why I felt compelled to stay in L.A. I could understand Angel if only a little. His was a terrible evil but it was an unworldly one. Mine was all too human, too inborn and ingrained for comfort. Everything I had fought for in my Watcher training, my struggle to prove I was a better man than my father, not to mention a kinder, gentler one, disappeared just from one touch of the sweat of a creature that Wolfram and Hart had tried to release upon the world.

I would have killed Fred. There was no doubt in my mind. My friends tried vainly to convince me otherwise. Finally I gave in and told them they were right even though they were not. How could I tell them that I had wanted to hurt Fred in the end? How exciting the game of cat and mouse through the unfinished and dangerous parts of the hotel had been. That was the strongest I have ever felt. I had wanted to feel her flesh under my fists. I wanted to hear her scream. I had simply wanted her and if I had caught her I knew that I could have held her down and forced my way into her. I would have been happy to hear her sobs and protests.

I had to hold that all inside and pray they never found out. They could never understand it. Well, except for Angel. I know he could understand it. He had been there. He had reveled in such dark delights for decades but he was a demon. I wasn't. That's what made it worse.

Fred said she forgave me, that it wasn't my fault. I wish I could be so sure of that. Granted I had never truly seen the monster in me until Billy's magic but how did I know that would be the only time I'd see it? How did I know for sure that without magic I could keep it all inside? I liked Fred, a great deal. I'm not even sure why. Cordy finds her irritating. I think Gunn does as well. I can't even point to what I like about her. Maybe it was her strength in surviving her enslavement on Pylea or maybe I'm so desperately lonely and wanting someone who could accept the weirdness of the world I live in that it didn't matter if she were a little off the beam.

Cordy insists it'll get better with time. Fred agrees with her. Thankfully Angel and Gunn are tending towards more silent support. They know what it's like to have to live with your demons. I pray they're right. I fear they're not. The kettle's blaring. I should go make my tea. Instead I stare up at the moon and see my father's face shining back.