Disclaimer: It's all owned by Joss, David G., Mutant Enemy and Fox. I am merely a humble observer.
Spoilers: Through Sleep Tight
Summary: Everyone has their own idea of what was going through Wes' mind at the end of that episode. This is mine.
Feedback: Yes, please. This is the first thing I've written in 4 months.
Notes: I know I'm about to be Jossed, but this story has been simmering in my brain for a month and finally decided to pop out today. As such, it hasn't been betaed, so please forgive any glaring errors.
More notes: Unable to decide how I wanted this to end, I wrote two slightly different versions. This one's the slashy one.
Cold. Pain. Darkness.
Oh, God. What had he done?
Blood ran hot and sticky through his fingers.
Flashback to a year earlier, a similar situation. Only, this time was different. This time there was no Gunn by his side, holding him up and offering words of encouragement. No Cordelia to wipe his brow and tightly grip his hand.
This time he was alone.
The ground beneath Wesley was damp and hard and unforgiving. As it should be. He didn't deserve forgiveness. He had failed. Again. Tears welled up in his eyes. How could he have been so *stupid*? He'd wanted to save everyone, and in the process had lost everything. His friends...family...Connor. He missed Virginia. What would she think of her 'hero' now?
He was so tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of trying. All he wanted was to close his eyes and drift away. When he awoke, he'd either be saved...or dead. It didn't really matter which.
Dry choking dust burned Wesley's lungs as he struggled to breathe. He knew this place. Knew every crack in the wood floor and bump on the plaster walls. Shaking fingers traced their way along the low slanted ceiling, suddenly much lower than he remembered. He longed to straighten his legs, to relieve the stiff pain in his limbs and neck, but found the space too confining for his tall, full-grown frame.
Was this hell?
He'd often thought so.
Though muffled through the heavy wooden door, the gruff demanding voice was instantly recognizable.
"What are you playing at, boy? Come out of there this instant."
Confused and frightened, Wesley pulled his knees up closer to his chest. "I can't. You...the door is locked."
"Don't be ridiculous. You're not a child anymore. You can't hide in there forever." His father's voice cut off abruptly and there was silence again.
Slowly, Wesley reached up and groped for the door knob. To his surprise, it turned easily. The door swung open and he blinked rapidly, momentarily blinded by the sudden brightness outside his prison. Crawling out on all fours, Wesley found himself, not in the back hallway of his family home as expected, but in its large, formal dining hall. The long table before him was covered by his mother's best antique white lace tablecloth and was set with his grandmother's fine bone china. Crystal goblets sat neatly at each place setting and the light from the chandelier above bounced brightly off the finely polished silver beside each plate.
"Supper is ready and your mother and I have been waiting." Richard Wyndham-Pryce sternly reprimanded his son from one end of the table, and indicated his wife, sitting at the other end. Wesley found himself instinctively scrambling up and rushing to his place between them.
"Look at you. You're filthy." There was no mistaking his father's disgust, as he continued. "You're a disgrace."
Wesley looked down at himself, only then realizing he was still in the same clothing he had been wearing for days.
"I-I-I'm sorry, Father. I've been busy with a particularly difficult translation these past few days and -"
"For that vile creature, no doubt." His father interrupted, practically spitting out the words. "How I could have raised you to defend such a piece of filth -"
"Shut up!" Wesley couldn't bare to hear it one more time. He stiffened, his hands clenched at his sides.
"Wesley!" his mother gasped in surprise.
"I'm sorry, Mother, but I won't have you or Father speaking about Angel that way anymore." Wesley turned to look his father in the eye, unafraid for the first time. "All my life you've told me I wasn't good enough. That I wouldn't amount to anything. And I believed you. Angel gave me the chance to prove you wrong. To prove myself wrong." He took a ragged breath and fought off a wave of dizziness. "Despite what you believe, I've been a good leader. We've created something...a family. More of a family than you'll ever be to me." Wesley's stomach lurched, tears blurring the edges of his vision. "I only wish..."
"You only wish..." his father's mocking tone cut through his bravado. "Say what you like, boy. We all know the final outcome of your actions. The child is gone. The vampire will be out of his mind with grief. And you...just look at you. You're dying."
Wesley stared down dumbly, surprised to find splotches of red staining the cloth in front of him. Another drop fell and Wesley watched with morbid fascination, as the fabric sucked eagerly at his blood, pulling it into its veins, as if feeding on it.
"What's the matter, Wes? You act like you've never bled before." Wesley's head jerked up in alarm. The room had changed, the bright chandelier and white wallpapered walls having been replaced by dingy brick and a faint odor of rotting garbage. His hands and feet felt numb and when he tried to stand, he found he couldn't. "We both know that's not true, now don't we?"
Wesley struggled against his bonds, then relaxed as he accepted the futility of his actions. "What do you want, Faith?" he sighed.
Faith tossed the piece of jagged glass in her hand out the open window, and slipped silently off the ledge she'd been perched on. When she finally came into Wesley's line of sight, he twitched involuntarily and a cold smile lit her face.
"What do I want? Hmm, that's a good one. What do I want?" She acted as though she were thinking hard. Wesley's eyes warily followed the girl as she wandered into the kitchen, picked up a cutting knife, then made her way back to him. Squatting down in front of her hostage, Faith ran the flat of the blade slowly across Wesley's cheek, the cool metal against his flushed skin making him shiver. "I just wanted to congratulate you, Wes."
"Congratulate me? What for?" He knew in his heart he didn't really want to know.
Faith rested her forearms on Wesley's knees and leaned in closer. "I gotta hand it to you, Wes. I thought I was the twisted one, but I got nothin' on you."
"I - I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't you?" Faith jumped up, on the move again, circling him. "C'mon, think hard." She paused. "You wanted him to suffer, didn't you?" This last was whispered in his ear.
"What? No! I -" Wesley twisted his head, trying to see Faith,and gasped in pain.
"Angel hurt you, betrayed you. And you've been wanting to get even ever since."
Wesley closed his eyes to avoid Faith's leering face, and whispered, "No. It wasn't like that."
"No?" Faith laughed. "In fact...Admit it, Wes. You've always wanted to *be* Angel, haven't you?" Wesley's eyes snapped open. "He's stronger than you. People listen to him. He demands respect and gets it...And he got Buffy. Hell, he even had *me* crying on his shoulder. How did that make you feel, Wes?"
Wesley looked up at Faith. Hating her. Hating her for knowing him so well. "That may have been true at one time," he finally answered, with only a slight quiver in his voice to betray him. "Things are different now. He sees me as an equal, and... we're friends."
"Friends? Friends don't take other friends for granted. Friends aren't so wrapped up in their own lives that they can't see when another friend is falling apart. Friends don't have secret meetings with the enemy. Friends don't steal other friend's babies. You don't have any friends, Wes. You're just like me. You're all alone."
Tears fell freely down Wesley's cheeks. He was finding it difficult to breathe again. Faith came closer again, straddling his chair so that she was sitting on his lap. The sharp blade of the knife in her hand was pressed to his already bleeding throat.
Faith's voice was low and seductive. "We could be together, Wes. You and me. Deep down, you know we're the same."
"No!" Wesley spat the word back into her face.
Faith looked disappointed, then shrugged. She loosened her grip on the knife and it dropped to the floor with a clatter. "I forgot. I'm not exactly your type, am I? Don't tell me you're still holding out for *him*. He didn't want you before. Do you really think he could ever love you now, after all the stunts you pulled?" When he didn't answer, Faith smiled sadly, almost sounding sympathetic. "He's here, y'know. Why don't you ask him?"
Wesley struggled furiously against his bonds, nearly upsetting the chair. Please, God. Not him, not now. He could take it from the others, but not from -"
"Wes? Is that you?"
He wanted to answer. Tried to speak. But all he could manage was a barely audible "Gunn?"
Wesley braced himself for the worst, waiting for the cutting remarks. The hatred. Instead, what he heard was concern and relief.
"Wesley? Oh, god, hang in there, man. You've been hurt. Don't move." Was this part of the dream? It seemed so real.
"Fred, I found him! He's over here." Gunn's voice sounded panicked and suddenly far away. Wesley tried to raise up, reached out for him, desperate to bring him near again. His hand found fabric and then an arm, and at last the familiar scowling face of Charles Gunn came into view.
"Shit, Wes, what the hell did you think you were doing? Where's Connor? Angel's out for blood...namely yours." Despite the anger behind the words, there was worry and affection too.
Wesley let himself sink back onto the grass. They'd been too late then. Connor was really gone. He made no sound as his friends sat him up, Gunn supporting his back and head with his own body, Fred pressing her sweater to the wound at his neck to staunch the flow of blood. 911 had been called, but it didn't matter now. It wouldn't be long before they all knew the truth of what Wesley had done, and then they'd all leave him.
He would be alone.
Wes wanted to tell his friends how sorry he was. How much he loved them. But the words wouldn't come...couldn't fight their way past the pain in his throat. All he could do was study their faces, look into their eyes. His fingers entwined themselves in Fred's long hair, as it fell down over her shoulder. His other hand reached out to grip Gunn's.
"Yo, English, the ambulance is on its way. You ain't gonna die on us," Gunn scolded, but Wesley felt himself pulled closer.
Wesley smiled. They didn't understand. He wasn't afraid to die; he was afraid of living without them. No matter what his father or Faith said, no matter what happened next, this was his family. If only...if only Angel were there. But there was no use thinking about impossibilities. Angel was already lost to him; he knew that. Gunn's meaty finger gently stroked his friend's stubbled cheek and for the first time in ages, Wes felt at peace. Perhaps now, in the arms of the person he loved most in the world, he could finally sleep. Sirens could be heard in the distance, as Wesley closed his eyes and allowed the blanket of darkness to overcome him.