Title: Octave, Sestet, Syllable
Author: James Walkswithwind
Pairing: Wesley/Gunn, Wesley/Angel, canon ships
Rating: PG13
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 among them.

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 was hurt.

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 desk.

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.

"What's wrong?"

"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 shoulder.

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 years.

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 necessary steps.

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.

the end


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