|Notes: Dialog centered and italicized were
provided by transcripts available at The Lost Library.
I allow myself to wallow a bit more before curling my body in half in order to sit up. The sheets are pooled around my waist, covering me from prying eyes. There are no eyes here to pry so the gesture toward modesty is pointless. Sitting up straight, I arch my back so it stretches and allows the knots and kinks to lessen.
Kinks. Funny those come to mind.
I bend over and pick up my discarded jeans and pull them on, foregoing the normal underwear first. I glance quickly around the room, squinting, and finally see a worn sweatshirt. I drag it over my head and walk out of my bedroom. Best to leave the recent events there. Decisions made under extreme depression do not reflect well on myself. I believe Iíve gotten into bed with the devil, or at the very least, one of his henchmen.
It might not matter though Ė I barely care myself and I seriously doubt Lilah will be seeking me out for another bloody turn.
The living room seems unchanged. Dark. Closed up. There are some demonic books lying on the table where I left them, along with the copy of "Danteís Divine Comedy," which Lilah gave me. Hmmm, Ďgiveí seems too strong a statement to attribute to her; she had ulterior motives, Lilah is not a subtle woman.
Which brings me to wonder how I arrived here, sitting in my living room after taking Lilah to bed. Just the thought of it sends shivers of repulsion through me. Yet, I did it. Instigated it even. I wish I could write it off as an excessive amount of beer and whiskey, but I knew that I was doing, what I wanted. I wanted to feel something. She was a convenient source from which to draw on, for me to take out my frustrations and anger, all the while gaining something in return.
The past few weeks can be summed up as a slide show of people walking in and out of my life. Mainly out, however. I sit on the couch in a very ungentlemanly manner; slouched and legs loosely spread as I stare at the wall. I wish the wall was more interesting, would take my looping life away from me.
Fredís visit at the hospital was not quite what I had envisioned. Did I expect candy and flowers? Not really, but I did expect a friend. It hurt to see her with Gunn, but she was happy and being raised in such a cliched world Ė I was happy for her, or rather content to see her happy. She was nice enough at first, but the box in her hands clued me onto my fate.
"... And I also wanted to say, I thought what Angel tried to do to you was wrong - and I'm sorry... But he was right to blame you, Wesley. You should have come to us. You should have trusted us instead of going to Holtz behind our back. You're supposed to be our friend and you didn't even... If Angel sees you again, he'll kill you, Wesley. This time for real. Don't come back to the hotel Ė ever".
I was at a disadvantage. I couldnít speak, couldnít explain why I did it, that I felt I had no choice. I donít think she would have listened anyway, she seemed to be very uncomfortable. That I was making her feel like that stung me, but I could do nothing to alleviate it, so I just looked at her, hoping sheíd make eye contact with me one more time. A chance at redemption. It didnít come though. She quickly placed my box of personal belongings on the chair and turned to leave. I was shocked that she did not even pretend to extend whatever friendship, no matter how little we had, toward me. Looking back on it, I wish she had just walked out.
"The prophecy was false. Angel was never gonna hurt Connor... It was all for nothing."
All for nothing. Was it really though? They think that, but how do we actually know that it wouldnít have mattered. Holtz was planning on taking the baby anyway, it didnít matter who had him at the time. I was the bloody fool that thought I could save everyone the pain of a tragic end. Angelís had to endure so much, he didnít need to go through losing a son that he shouldnít have had in the first place.
"If Angel sees you again, he'll kill you..."
I do believe her. Sadly, I think that Angel would have succeeded had it not been for where we were. I surely couldnít have fought him off. If it had occurred a few days later, I doubt I would have bothered to try. Angel put it all out there, making me see that he was not standing there as Angelus, but as himself. That he was not under any sort of spell or mind control. Looking back on it I can see the foreshadowing, he wanted me to be certain that I knew it was him, the real Angel... as he threatened to kill me.
Definitely packs a harder punch. I remember that my mind was spinning, trying to deal with Angelís words and my lack of air. The most vivid thing I remember though, are their faces; Angelís twisted in rage and hate, while Gunn and Fred stood off to the side, looking horrified Ė which quickly turned to pity.
Iíve been pitied all my life, until these last couple years. Fellow Watchers tried to hide it behind their blank, unfeeling stares, but I knew what was said when they thought I wasnít listening. I bumbled. I admit it. Things were not easy for me while I was in England; I was overshadowed by my father, a person that wanted everything in its place, including me. He had plans for me, wanted me to be the best at whatever I did Ė but it wasnít in a healthy way. More times than not I received the patented "you could have done better, but you buggered it up again" look rather than the "better luck next time." I became accustomed to it. He could even wipe the smile from my face from across the sea, not even expressing the smallest about of joy when I informed him I was the leader of Angel Investigations. Instead he voiced his shock, then proceeded to remind me of my past failures. Mainly being fired by the Watchers, because I had chosen to side with the Slayer and my failure to control Faith. Both events go hand and hand.
I always enjoy having those moments shoved back into my face.
I shift around on the couch until Iím lying down with my knees bent to fit more comfortably. I reach for Danteís book and rest it on the cushion next to my chest and stroke the cover.
Once here, in Los Angeles, the pity that I was seeing reflected in everyoneís eyes started to fade. Being here has been good for me; I learned so much about life, love, demons, friends... The pityís back now, it haunts the faces of Gunn and Fred in my mind. Gunn still sees me as at least a resource for help. I must say that his technique for asking assistance was rather harsh, demanding more than asking, not really seeing me. He just started running at the mouth trying to convey the immediacy of the problem. I didnít care. Truly, I did not care whether they figured it out or not Ė part of me wanted them to suffer just a small amount of the pain that Iíve felt for weeks now. Iím not just talking about the pain in my throat, or the pain in my chest, but before that. Putting together a prophecy that only had heartache attached to it. Trying to find out the legitimacy of it, going to extremes to either prove it true, or as I had hoped at the time, to prove it false.
None of that matters to Gunn; Gunn wanted what Gunn wanted Ė assistance.
"Look, I don't have time to get into it with you. I don't even wanna be here."
But he came. I smirk as I ponder how he had justified going against Angelís wishes of my total banishment from the group, to arriving at my doorstep begging for help. It doesnít really matter of course. I know why he did it Ė he did it for love. And I helped because itís who I was... am... I close my eyes, remembering in vivid technicolor our conversation.
"What? We're gonna have a drink now? Did you hear what I said? She is dying!"
"I was dying. Throat cut, life pouring out of me. -- You know why I fought to live again?"
"Wes, I don't have time."
"I fought to live so I could see my friends again, to explain to the people I loved and trusted *my* side of what happened."
"We know what..."
"You donít know anything... I'll help because it's Fred, but don't come here again. Any of you."
I think thatís when everything changed, or started to. I lost whatever part of my humanity was left. Finally, someone came to see me but only for their own benefit, not caring about myself, just their ultimate goal. Because of his brashness a decision was made as I threw the bottle at him Ė there was little to no hope of re-establishing ties. I thought it would be easier to forbid anymore contact, redundant since they werenít seeking me out, but it gave me the illusion of control. Until the door slammed shut behind him and I was alone again.
Control. I have zero control over how this turns out. I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling as I hold the book to my chest. The only thing I can do is run away with my tail between my legs. That isnít my style anymore, so I stay... and get harassed by Lilah. Iíve become very cynical; Iíve seen enough evil in the world to know that everything isnít cotton candy and cricket, but to see Lilah be so predictable. I was starting to think I was either losing my mind or maybe there was more to her offer.
The job offer was not shocking. I would be a lovely asset for them, even without my inside knowledge of Angel Investigations; my "workable knowledge" would be enough to establish my usefulness. I was, however, not prepared for how deep her innocent question reached. Call me naÔve...
"Right. The worst spot in hell is reserved for those who betray... So, don't pretend you're too good to work for us."
Betray. Itís what I did Ė essentially anyway. I took advantage of Angelís trust in me to allow me complete access to his son. He was counting on me to protect the child. In my mind I did. All Angel sees is a friend taking the boy from him, nothing else. He said in the hospital that he understood why I did it, but in the end he didnít care for my reasons. I suppose I was just to stand there and watch Angel devour his son.
Iím sorry but I couldnít do that. So I did what I thought was right. I researched day and night, looking and hoping for a way around the bloody prophecy. There was none. They all say it was for nothing, that the prophecy was false Ė I want to know why it was false. I found no indication Ė anywhere Ė documenting that. And I looked. I looked so hard and long that I was barely sleeping. Did any of my "friends" notice? No, they were too centered on their own life; Angel with Connor, Cordelia with Groo, and Gunn with Fred.
I was alone, so I did what I could for everyone involved. Looking back, sure I could have approached them about my troubles and worries, but thatís hindsight and itís always twenty/twenty.
Glancing down I see that Iíve opened the book and of course the three headed illustration stares at me. Am I really in the same class of Judas Iscariot? I slam the book shut and toss it onto the coffee table, but I remain lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling.
"And you thought I'd enjoy a box seat for her slaughter."
"Well - yeah."
"You really don't know the first thing about me, do you?"
"Probably not... Like, will he go straight to his car, or will he stop to warn her first?"
I had stopped, not turning to go or to speak.
"He has to think about it. That's good. That's all I really needed to know.
The slide shows in my mind are getting tiresome, but I canít stop them. Subconsciously maybe I believe I will see something I missed the first time that will allow me to alter my future. Doubtful really, but one can not do much about their mind. The sad thing is that Lilah doesnít know me, but she does know human nature and what she feels I will do.
I wish I could say that I had expected the Ďtestí at the club, but to be honest, I wasnít thinking much of anything at the time. Much like now. This is analyzing, not quite Ďthinkingí. I paused at the question because, unfortunately, it hadnít crossed my mind to go and warn Justine as I turned away from Lilah. The thought might have come to me as I reached the bottom of the stairs though Ė I refuse to believe Iím that jaded. A lost cause Iím sure.
My mind is muddied. Have I changed so much that I would have allowed her to die? Justine is not an innocent, but does she deserve to die? My body reflexively tenses as I remember what it felt like to have the blade slice through my skin, to feel the blood run past my fingers. To know that I lost Connor...
Yes, she deserves death. Not just for what she did to me, but for her part in Holtzís plan to kidnap Connor.
Connor. That was... unexpected. I knew that Connor had gone through to a demon dimension, I hadnít thought heíd return so soon. And fighting by Angelís side? Seems unlikely. I know itís callus of me, but what son would return to their Ďfatherí after spending all those years with a man who probably poisoned Angelís name. Holtz could be dead and that would be reason enough for Connor to seek Angel out, but the man was possessed with revenge. He would not be weak and die before he completed his vengeance upon Angel. The question is Ė whatís his game?
Why do I continue to care? Old habits die hard, I suppose.
"So, if the kid's the next Stalin, do you kill him? You can't! He's Angel's son. But on the other hand, if you just watch while he up and kills Angel or somebody else - that cute girl from Texas, say? - Wow, times like this? Glad I don't have a conscience."
"I think you should leave now."
"What was it like? When she cut you?"
"You terribly anxious to find out?"
I could kill Connor. Iíd have very little difficulty in the task at this moment. Iíve already been excommunicated, thought of as worthless and I have nothing else I could possibly lose. Except my life Ė and whatís so wonderful about that right now? I could kill the boy Ė but I wonít, not without some sort of sign that he is in fact evil. If what Fred said was true and the prophecy was false, then I canít possibly believe anything else I may uncover. Even with all my verification it seems that the foretelling was untrue. And if I were to kill Connor? Angel would surely kill me, regardless if my actions were in the best interest of mankind. He wouldnít care... and neither would I.
"I'm starting to like you, Wes. Don't go making more of this than it is. I'm not one of the doe-y eyed girls of Angel Investigations. Ė Don't be thinking about me when I'm gone."
"I wasn't thinking about you when you were here."
"So - your former boss - has a
soul - and you're losing yours. - Why, you're just new all over - aren't
Ah, now Iím back to the not so distant past. My tryst with Lilah. I accused Lilah of not knowing me, but I do not know her either. I threatened to kill her. Iíve threatened people in the past, but I have never been so blasť about it before. She has been so condescending that I truly wanted nothing more in that moment than to squeeze her neck until she turned blue. I had let go however... and she made a pass at me. I accepted.
The sex was not satisfying. I took her to my bed and proceeded to use her, to funnel all of my rage into her. She didnít care, wanted it even. I sigh and sit up, swinging my legs around so my feet are on the floor. It was an act of futility; it did nothing I had hoped it would do for me. I rub my hands over my face and hair and make my way toward the bathroom. I switch on the light and the fluorescent bulb brightens the small room.
I glance sideways and the mirror grabs my attention. Upon seeing my reflection I decide to shave, itís a normal, everyday activity something that has been missing from my daily life. I gather the supplies, arrange them on the basin and lather up my face. It only takes a few minutes to get my face smooth. I bend over and rinse off the residual shaving cream and shake out the razor. I look up and see me, except it isnít me anymore.
I told Lilah that she didnít know me, but somehow she is manipulating me and I canít bring myself to care. I donít know me anymore either. Even when I was in England, being talked down upon, I knew who I was, what my place in the world was going to be. I was going to make a difference. My convictions were not always selfless; deep down inside Iíve hidden the selfish part of me, but Iíve always been aware of that need I have to be needed. To matter.
Everything is gone, with the flick of Justineís wrist Iíve lost everything. Friends that Iíve considered family, a job that had a higher purpose, access to knowledge and a chance to apply all the varied information I retain toward a job which I loved. Those things made me who I was Ė now there is nothing.
Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. Iíve been searching mine and if I wasnít breathing Iíd report myself dead. Lilah saw that, sheís been beating around the bush for weeks. I havenít been listening. But today... this is what sheís been working toward. Pushing me to make a decision. She doesnít care about me, just my knowledge Ė if I cross over to the dark side sheís happy, if I decide to end it all, she wonít care. Itís a win-win for her. Iím not wanted at Angel Investigations, but Iím wanted at Wolfram and Hart. Betrayal has caused my relationship to be severed from Angel; betrayal is a character trait thatís accepted with Lilah.
Epiphanies are wonderful, life changing events. A shame that all mine has done is introduce me to a stranger. Someone I would pity... if I cared enough to do so.
I turn and walk out of the bathroom only to return to the couch to await Lilahís next move and wonder how I will respond.