By Minim Calibre
Notes: For Nestra’s Virtues Challenge. PG gen.
His watch was a fifth of a second off.
Wesley frowned, staring at the smooth glass of the crystal. A fifth of a second could mean the difference between life or death, winning or losing. He’d have to take care of that.
He double-checked his paperwork. All in order. Double-checked his luggage. Sorted, packed, and well within any weight limits—no small feat when one was bringing over a number of irreplaceable texts on demonology. Whatever paltry collection Mr. Giles had assembled simply wouldn’t do, given the circumstances.
Four hours until his flight. He’d replace the watch in Sunnydale.
His hand shook as he poured another shot of cheap American whisky into his glass. They’d sacked him. His father had given him the news. He’d sounded almost… gleeful.
Buffy had stopped the Ascension, yet they’d still sacked him. Her Watcher.
He swallowed, grimacing at the taste.
“Who the devil do you think you’re kidding? You were never her Watcher.” He’d only ever been in the way. The glass was empty. How had that happened?
They wouldn’t pay to bring him home, neither Council nor his family. A failure. A fool.
Wesley pushed the bottle away. He’d show them.
If he can keep her from killing him, Angel will come for him.
He tells himself this as the blows from her fists and feet turn his body into a solid mass of bruises, as the glass slides through his shirt (he can’t afford to replace it, damn her), beneath his skin, into his soul (it doesn’t matter that he deserves this, Angel will come, he will, he will).
She grinds against him, licking, touching, destroying as she goes. Can’t show her that. No. He has to be brave, a man.
When Angel comes, it’s for her, and Wesley shatters.
When the understanding comes, it drives the pain from his battered body for a moment.
Shanshu. To live and die. To become human. Angel will become human. He’ll live. Wesley tries to wrap his mind around it, after he’s spent what feels like a lifetime but was in reality only a handful of days trying to accept the idea of Angel dying.
If his ribs didn’t feel like he’d spent the week on the losing end of a battle with a mule, Wesley would laugh. Instead, he feels his face crack into a cautious smile. Angel will live.
“Virginia, I can’t.”
She shrugs. “What’s the big deal? I mean, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t even have the money. Daddy would have fed me to the Goddess Yeska.”
“As much as it pains me to remind you, it’s not as if he didn’t try.” Wesley looks at the floor, the walls, at anything other than her face. “I’ll come up with the money for rent, don’t worry about it.”
But she’s already got her checkbook out, and is searching in her purse for a pen. “You guys will be fine without him. How much do you need?”
If he could have willed his heart to stop, his breath to cease, he would have.
After Angel leaves, he tries his best to die. He’s dead inside, but his body cannot, will not, match his mind. He closes his eyes and tries to feel the weight of a pillow, the weight of a child, the weight of his guilt.
He does not die.
Fred cuts out whatever was left of his heart, and he does not die.
Wesley stands in his doorway, everything he was contained within the cardboard box in his arms, and wonders how the dead survive.
Sharp axe, dull thud.
She would have liked the first, hated the second. Lilah hated for anything to be dull.
Sorry comes too little, too late. But then, he’d never expected it to come at all, now had he? He allows himself the time to mourn what might have been, had things been different. He calculates the time down to the second, understanding that it will make the difference between rash and rational.
She’s beyond redemption now; Angel isn’t. Wesley understands what he must do, and understands he isn’t strong enough to do it on his own.
He needs Faith.