Title: Octave, Sestet, Syllable
Author: James Walkswithwind
Pairing: Wesley/Gunn, Wesley/Angel, canon ships
Spoilers: Major spoilers for "Couplet"
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit made
Archive: list archives
Feedback: oh boy. Yes, please?
Warnings: Er. Yes. Angst? Dark? No happy ending? Something like that.
Summary: Wesley reflects and acts on the events of "Couplet".
Octave, Sestet, Syllable
Wesley knew he could have said the words. They'd been in his throat and
he'd almost -- almost -- opened his mouth and said them. But he hadn't,
and it wasn't terribly surprising to know why. He'd known that he wouldn't
even before the words formed themselves fully.
It was later, when he'd turned off the lights in the lobby and returned to
his office to clean up his notes, that he'd thought about it. Why he
hadn't said anything when he probably would have been within his
rights. It wasn't the 'probably' that had stopped him, he knew. It wasn't
that no one else would have agreed, and he would have been out as much and
more, than just Gunn, had he fired him.
As Wesley sat in the office, its oasis of light spilling out into the
lobby, he considered things. He knew he was in danger of Angel returning
and wanting to know what kept him here. It wasn't that he feared lying to
Angel -- he did it constantly, and the vampire never seemed to notice. But
Wesley didn't want to leave just yet, and he didn't exactly know why.
The transgression wasn't as great as it had been last time. There had been
no betrayal, there had been no risk of life or company. They'd done their
job as expected, and come home safe and as sound as any of them ever were
after a job. But the risks were still there, and Wesley knew they could
eventually become a problem. If he had chosen to say it, he knew he could
have explained it so that the others would have believed him right to do so.
Perhaps Fred would not have, but whether she would go with Gunn, or remain
in her safety zone, he did not know. It didn't matter, as they would not
be finding out.
Justifying any action to the others really had no affect on what decision
he'd made -- or failed to make. He didn't run the business as a democracy,
not matter how often the others did as they would, and only turned to him
when he chose to speak up. He hadn't not done it because he still
considered Gunn and Fred to be friends, and as such felt it unnecessary to
cause such disruption in their already chaotic lives.
He'd not said the words simply because he'd had it done to himself. For
worse, and far more important reasons, and as such he *knew* that there was
no great need to fire Gunn. Despite the anger and hurt Wesley felt,
despite the too real fear that someday they *would* transgress for the sake
of each other, there was no reason in any of that to fire a man from a job
he was needed to do.
Besides, it had felt petty as soon as he'd thought it. Wesley had done
many things he was ashamed of, but being petty was -- he hoped -- little
With some hours and other tasks' distance between them, Wesley could see
that his second impulse had been the correct one. He gave himself an
ironic, mental pat of congratulations, that he'd done better than his last
employer in restraining his impulses to fire anyone who irritated him. The
words that had died on his lips had been useless, and harmful, and he
should be grateful to have restrained himself to what he had said. Gunn
was left with just the impression that Wesley didn't mean to interfere, and
had only loved enough to want to be sure -- absolutely sure -- that no one
More irony, there. Wesley smiled, feeling the bitterness of it twist his
mouth. He did care for Fred, felt protective of her. They'd brought her
back from Hell and were responsible for everything that happened since --
the Chinese were correct in that regard. He knew she would laugh at the
suggestion that she needed protection -- guidance, perhaps. A gentle
re-introduction into the world. But she was getting that, and what she
mainly needed now were friends who understood her, and were patient.
Gunn was, perhaps, good in that regard. He could love her and pose no
threat to her well-being, other than that which came from without them, and
those would loom no matter whom she chose to love her.
Wesley cared for Gunn, as well. Gunn was his best friend, his best mate --
the one man whom he'd grown to depend on in the last several
months. Wesley could scarce expect him to not love someone, just because
it might prove disappointing to Wesley. He traced the words on his
notepad, half-idly, wondering if it mattered if he destroyed the notes, or
simply took them away. Disappointing, to be sure, that Gunn should chose
Fred. But it wasn't as though Wesley had ever seriously entertained the
notion of anything else. Even if he had, he'd let slip past any number of
occasions where he might have done something about it and could make no
claim for lost opportunity.
Jealousy wasn't a factor in this, after all. He might love Gunn and might
wish it were he Gunn had chosen -- but he'd felt the same before, and time
had proven it pointless. His love for Angel had gone into whatever it was
they had now: friendship, understanding, tolerance. It rather depended on
the day and circumstances, and what ever was occupying Angel's attention at
the time. Wesley knew his words had been true, when he'd said them at the
bookseller's that evening. Not just to salve Angel's ego in losing Cordelia
-- Angel *was* the center of their universe, the brown star around which
they all revolved. Not quite a black hole -- they had yet to be sucked in,
whole, and destroyed by their purpose.
Wesley no longer expected that they would be. Gunn had never been in
danger, and Fred had proben to be strong, and clever, and loved enough that
she would not slip into Angel's shadow. Cordelia had also found her inner
strength, and her own purpose matched Angel's, rather than being subsumed
by it, and Wesley expected she would merely orbit him, and reflect her own
light. The double star, then, the heroic couple that was not, at the
moment, a couple.
Wesley had no doubt that interesting things would occur should they have
paired off. He'd been half watching for it, ever since.... But it didn't
matter, any more than it mattered that Wesley was hurt by Gunn and Fred's
pairing off. He did wish them happiness, and wished it for Cordelia and
Groo as well. Wished it for Angel and Connor and Lorne, if more futilely,
and he could not help but feel the stab of fear as he did so. Fear, and
regret, and anger -- all pointless, and not worth more than a few hours
spent in the office, morosely contemplating the source of his reflections.
He set the thoughts aside, and drew a line through each of the words he'd
written down in translation. He lifted his hand to tear the paper off,
then he realized that their indentations would be easily read. He picked
up the pad, and the loose pages he'd scribbled notes on, then stuffed them
all into the valise at his feet. The books followed, and the scroll he'd
taken out of the library to assist with the references, then he buckled the
flap and locked them.
He snapped off the desk lamp and stood up, catching up the valise as he did
so. The strap went over his shoulder, and for a moment the weight of it
transported him back, through the years, to university when the valise had
been a constant companion. He half expected to see Stewart or John to pop
into the office to ask if he wanted to go out for a cup of tea, before
hitting the books.
Wesley shook his head at ridiculous nostalgia, and finished tidying up his
Minutes later, he heard the pounding of feet on the stairs, the bewildered
voice of Lorne badgering Angel in a tone that said he expected no answer
but demanded one anyway. Wesley moved towards the office door, and looked
up as Angel ran through the lobby towards him. Behind him, Lorne was still
putting on his shirt, buttoning and tucking it in as he hurried along.
"We've got trouble. I'm not sure what -- but it's a friend of Lorne's -- or
possibly an enemy, I can't tell. Cordy called and I told her not to show
up but she will anyway, and Gunn and Fred are--" Angel stopped, barely in
time to show any decent courtesy. Wesley ignored it. "Lorne's coming,"
Angel said quickly.
"Of course I'm coming! I don't know what's going on," Lorne said to
Wesley, shrugging. "But my name was involved, so I'm coming."
Angel half-gestured, half-shrugged, apologising for the confusion as though
he'd been the one to cause it. "So can you stay with Connor? Everyone else
is meeting us at the warehouse, and I--"
"Of course, Angel," Wesley interrupted. "I'll stay with him."
Angel nodded and was running for the weapons cabinet before Wesley could
even ask if there was anything he need do, besides stay in the room while
the baby slept. He watched as Angel picked a sword -- the one Groo had
used, Wesley noted -- and offered a short sword to Lorne which was refused.
"We'll be right back!" Angel called out, as they headed for the door.
"I'll be here," Wesley assured him. He waited until they'd gone, and the
doors were closed. Then he headed for the stairs, valise still over his
He had at least three hours before anyone would return, and he would be
well and gone by then. The paperwork was all stashed in the valise; all he
needed was the child. Wesley hurried upstairs, and thought over what he
needed to pack. Nappies, a bottle, a change of clothes. There was a
duffel bag which would serve as a carry-all, in Angel's closet.
There was no bitterness, or anger in his decision. He was grateful that
Gunn and Fred had found each other, and felt sure that Cordelia would soon
come to realize that it wasn't Groo whom she wanted. Their search for
young Connor would no doubt give Angel and Cordelia another chance to
bond. Lorne -- Lorne he hadn't had much time to consider. The demon was a
survivor, though, and Wesley had no doubts that he would manage to come out
of anything, on his feet. Groo hardly mattered to Wesley's decision, as the
world could always use another fighter for good, and Groo didn't actually
need his Princess to fight for. Whether he figured that out, or not, was
no concern to Wesley.
What was his concern was Connor. The child was sleeping soundly when
Wesley entered the room, and did not stir as Wesley rapidly threw together
a bag. He slung it over the same shoulder as the valise, its weight hardly
registering as Wesley went back to the crib. He took the baby sling off
the chair, where it had lain since he'd bought it three weeks before. No
one ever used it, but Wesley hadn't minded. He used it now, slipping it
over his head, across the other shoulder, and picked Connor up and placed
him inside. Still sleeping, not the slightest stir.
Wesley left the crib as it was, and left the room. He wished he could
leave a letter, at least. But anything he could say would be too
much. Even 'goodbye' -- addressed to any of them -- would tell them
something. He needed the confusion and delay and beliefs that the lack of
message could bring.
The father would kill the son. That was certain enough. Even ancient
Greek couldn't be misunderstood with as simple statement as that. Coupled
with the rest of the prophecy, and the four others which referenced it...
Wesley knew what had to be done. The father would kill the son, and by so
doing the balance between good and evil would be solidified for a thousand
The battles would still be waged, but there would be no war to overwhelm
the world. There would be no end to the fighting -- for that would be the
end of the world itself. More, Evil would not win, and that was as great a
victory as they could hope for. The prophecies were all quite clear, and
Wesley's own heart knew it to be true. He hated the pain he would put his
friends through. But the damage would be worth the result, when the final
tally sheets were in.
He didn't expect to be around for it. But he knew it would be for the best.
Wesley closed the door to Angel's suite, and walked very carefully down the
hallway. He had one hand on the strap of the valise and duffel, the other
cradled the sleeping infant at his chest. The father must kill the son,
and thelast ten thousand years' worth of prophecy all agreed that the only
way to ensure it was to raise the son to fight the father.
The father walked the side of good. Therefore, the son must be handed over
to evil. There would be a plane waiting at LAX airport, to carry the son
away. Wesley expected to be taken as well, or slain on the tarmac and left
to be found by his companions. Ex-companions.
He knew that by taking Connor away, he risked Angel sliding once more into
darkness. But Wesley had faith in Cordelia, and Gunn and Fred, and perhaps
in a corpse left behind, to keep the fire of outrage and justice burning in
the soul of the monster. There were others checks in place, regardless,
and others who studied the prophecies would keep watch and take the
Wesley's part was just this. To take the child away -- to have been here,
to have been trusted, that the vampire with a soul would leave his son
behind in the care of the one who knew what had to be done. Two and a half
years at Angel's side, for this.
Wesley made it downstairs, and out the back door, and his heart began to
pound loudly. He wished he could have said goodbye. But they all had each
other, and they would be able to carry on the fight, without him.