Disclaimer: I own neither Angel nor Hamlet. Just playing.


It's the routine of it that gets to him. More than the aching loneliness, more than the empty self-revulsion… it's the utter banality of the shell of his life that drives him closest to madness.

He gets up late. Sometimes Lilah is with him when he wakes; most days she isn't. It doesn't matter; he always eats breakfast (plain toast and a cup of coffee) alone. He spends his mornings reading, obsessively—checking and rechecking prophesies that likely will never come to pass, or going over the little evidence he has concerning Angel's and Cordelia's whereabouts. A sandwich for lunch, and then he goes out: hunts, follows leads, or makes weapons deals. He comes home past midnight, makes himself another sandwich, and starts getting drunk for the evening. Alone. The only things in his kitchen are sandwich fixings, coffee, and mango vodka (because Lilah hates drinking it straight.) Some nights she comes over; most nights she doesn't.

He hasn't spoken to a single person in three days.

Occasionally he talks to himself, for fear of losing his voice entirely. It hasn't sounded the same to him since his throat was cut. Where once his clipped tones were elegant (effeminate), his new growl suits the new him: scratchy and hollow from disuse.

When he speaks, he recites Hamlet.

Act 1, Scene 4, to be precise. At first because it was the only thing he could think of; now, because it still is.

He'd called them the Ministers of Grace—the family he'd made at Angel Investigations. Only ever to himself, of course, but it was a habit he was long past the possibility of breaking. From the moment Angel and Cordelia had let him into their kitchen and then their lives, it had been his private joke. It was the first thing Hamlet said, after seeing the ghost of his father: "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!"

And perhaps it was narcissistic to cast himself in the role of Hamlet… perhaps it had been a bad omen. But there is no one left to judge him for it now, and the more he thinks about it, the less he fits the role.

"Angels and ministers of grace defend us," goes the line.
"Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee."

But he had not spoken—he had guarded his secrets jealously, had not trusted nor confided in anyone. Least of all Angel. He knows enough to regret this.

So not Hamlet, then. But clearly not Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, either. He has no idea who he is—all the things by which he used to define himself have been stripped away or fragmented, and it is for that reason more than anything else that he works every day to find his former friends. He scrambles to put their lives back together, because he has so utterly shattered his own. Half a man, built with eroded puzzle pieces. He's been putting himself back together for months, but he's not sure he can live with the result. He's certain he doesn't like it.

"Let me not burst in ignorance," goes the line, and he's Hamlet again—jaded and trapped and alone in a crowd.

Aye, there's the rub (but that's later, Wesley, it won't do to skip ahead)—the darkness he had so feared in Angel had been his own all along. And how was it the speech ended?

"What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? wherefore? what should I do?"

(And it's we, Wesley. Get it right. What should we do?)

But he cannot bring himself to say it. Like so many things, "we" is now a thought beyond his reach.


A/N I've referred to the AI team as the Ministers since I started watching/reading the TWOP recaps. I just had to fit it into a fic somehow; I never thought it would go so well.