Disclaimer: I don't own Angel or Highlander

Dead Man Walking

By Alkeni

Chapter 1: Waking Up Dead

The doctors had been more than a little amazed at Wesley's survival. His throat had be sliced open, after all, and he had lain still in that park for hours before he'd been found and given medical care. They had gone on about the remarkable resilience of the human spirit, the obstinacy to keep on living despite the odds – hell, the cut hadn't even gotten the least bit infected. He was a minor miracle, the doctors told him. Even more amazing, he would be able to recover his power of speech.

Wesley knew the doctors were wrong, though. He knew what had happened, as he lay there, dying, his life's blood flowing from the wound. He had felt himself slip his mortal coil, felt himself die. More than that, he'd wanted to die. He'd failed. His entire life, really, had been failure after failure. Always failing, no matter how well he did in his studies, no matter how hard he worked – he became Head Boy – but nothing had ever won him his father's love. Or even kindness, or a modicum of respect.

He become a Watcher, and then Watcher to an active Slayer – the thing every Watcher lived for, the one thing every Watcher hoped for. He'd felt like his was on top of the world then.

And then he'd failed, fallen so far, so hard, when just how abysmal he was had come to him. To add insult to the injury, he was fired from the Council, and left in the United States without enough money to make it back home. Not that he could go back home – his father had said as much.

He'd tried – and failed – miserably, unmoored from anything resembling an anchor – to go solo, the 'lonely path' of the 'rogue demon hunter'. That was the period of his life that embarrassed him the most, how full of himself and how proud of his 'lone rogue' status. At least he'd had the excuse of still being chock-full of Council nonsense when he'd been in Sunnydale. If Angel hadn't met up with him when he did...he'd have gone and gotten himself killed.

For a while, for the first time in his life, he found both success and acceptance. He'd done good work, as part of Angel Investigations, helping people, fighting the good fight. But six words in prophecy – six words that weren't even true, as it turned out, despite all the efforts he'd made to confirm it. Engineered by a time-shifting demon with an agenda of its own. He'd failed at working at Angel Investigations, he'd failed to even save Connor. He'd failed to have any chance with Fred, losing her to Gunn.

Failure. His whole life was built on failure...he was a living...dying...monument to failure, he'd thought. He hadn't been obstinate, determined to survive, to live. No...he'd wanted death, welcome the oncoming darkness, hoping for oblivion, because he knew if there was a heaven, there would be no place for him in it.

And he had died. He'd felt his spirit leave his body, going towards the blessed, peaceful oblivion he found himself craving. He'd died...and yet he'd lived again. As if connected to his body by an elastic band, he'd been wrenched back to his body. Once again, when on the cusp of success, he'd failed. He'd failed to die...how pathetic was that? Of all the things he'd imagined he'd fail at...failing to die was not one of them. It was a universal constant. Even Vampires died, eventually. Even gods did – Glorificus had died, he knew, at the hands of Giles destroying her mortal prison. The old gods of Greece and Rome, of Egypt, Babylon, the ancient Celts...all dead, because they had no worshipers. If Gods could die, if vampires could die...if everyone else could have the sweet oblivion of death, escaping this world...why couldn't he?

When Gunn and Fred had found him, rescued him, he felt...the slightest stirrings of hope. If he could just explain...

By the time Angel came in, he was already fully recovered. He could have spoken then, could have gotten out of there and walked away, anywhere. But no. He knew he couldn't. People didn't recover from wounds like that. Slayers did. Demons did. Vampires did. Not people. If he just upped and walked away, or spoke clearly and perfectly after the damage to his vocal cords...people would wonder. He'd expected Angel to still be angry, to never forgive him. It hurt, but it was no surprise when Angel had held that pillow over him, pressing it down on his face, trying to finish the job Justine had attempted to start. Wesley had almost wanted it to happen, to see if he could die some other way...but no, the orderlies had pulled Angel away before that could happen.

Angel's rejection he'd expected. But he hadn't expected that Fred...that Fred, once she knew the truth, the truth of the prophecy – or at least...what he'd believed the truth to be...that she'd at least forgive him...but no. And he knew there was some truth to her words – perhaps he should have told someone...he'd almost told Angel, a few times. But still...without knowing what he knew now...he knew why he hadn't told anyone then, and with the knowledge he'd had, he done what had seemed logical, to him. All anyone could work with was what they knew. He was, before anything else, a scholar. A student of knowledge, ancient or not, lost or found. Information was all he had.

When the doctors had finally let him out, deemed him recovered enough to leave...it hadn't taken him long to press a gun to his temple, and pull the trigger. Once again though, he'd failed to die. He'd woken up dead, no bullet in his brain, not even an entry wound, though the cut on his neck remained, though now just a scar.

He'd drunk himself into a stupor, that night. The next night, he'd tried again. He knew he was being a coward, unwilling to face the world, running from it by trying to die...and he didn't care. Death was the only option left for him. He couldn't return home, couldn't rejoin the Council...he couldn't return to Angel Investigations...he had nothing and no one to live for. He took a blade to his wrist, slicing it open – he was fully prepared to try every method of suicide he could think of, until one stuck.

It was as blue lightning danced around the incision he'd made on his wrist that he realized what had happened, what he'd become. He'd had to check his books to confirm it, hoping against hope that he was wrong, that he was not as doomed as he feared, doomed to continue. Doomed to live forever, until his head was removed and his quickening stolen as a prize of battle, in a game played since the dawn of recorded history – if not before. The Watchers Council knew about immortals, though they were only encountered rarely. They tended to stay part of mortal society, and tended, like most humans, to pretend the creatures of the night didn't exist. Once a Slayer and their watcher had come upon a Vampire feeding on an immortal – they didn't feel human, to Slayers – and the immortal's quickening had destroyed the vampire in a storm of blue lightning.

He was immortal. And now the sweet oblivion of death was almost completely closed to him. Cutting off one's own head, after all, was rather difficult, and would require a Rube-Goldbergesque machine to perform the task, and Wesley lacked the kind of mechanical engineering knowledge to accomplish that. No...he would need someone to remove his head for him. But who?

He considered going to Angel, letting him actually succeed in killing him, telling him the way to kill him, giving him the sword. But no...now that Angel had had time, he'd not be likely to kill him...Angel was a Champion of the Powers that Be, after all. A champion for good, and he doubted Angel would be willing to kill him now...if nothing else because he would know Wesley wanted the release of death, if Wesley told him what he was, and thus let Wesley live, forever stuck with his pain.

No...Wesley would have to wait until he encountered another immortal, and hope that he had the nerve then, the will, then, to not fight back, to surrender himself, finally, to oblivion as he died a final death.

Until then, Wesley was a dead man walking. For he had nothing to live for. Life held no meaning, no joy to him. All he had now was a lifetime of regrets and failures. They were all he had to keep him company, until he could finally die.