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"So - your former boss has a soul and you're losing yours. Why, you're just new all over, aren't ya?"

Wesley heard her say the words, but it left him feeling oddly hollow. He returned Lilah's twisted smirk with a disinterested stare and watched as she picked up her clothes and sashayed out of his apartment. He turned his gaze to the ceiling and only took his eyes off when he heard the door click shut.

He got up slowly -- like an old man -- from his bed. He walked to the windows, staring at the grimy streets below, not bothering to cover himself.

As he watched an old woman push a shopping trolley across the road, he ran a hand through his hair and sighed.

How low could you go, Wesley?

Apparently, quite low, he mused, thinking about his misguided night of passion with the Wolfram and Hart lawyer. It had been so easy then -- she was there, and he had a need -- to feel again; anything except the black bitterness and despair that had been eating him alive for weeks.

The blackness stayed away for about 10 seconds in Lilah's arms. The sex was good for about that long -- then it became a desperate act of pushing back the darkness with mindless sex. The whole experience left him with a sour taste in his mouth.

His need was simple. He wanted to feel something good once more, something that could resurrect that old Wesley, the Wesley he was before he lost Connor.


The thought of what he did brought familiar stabs of pain and regret into his heart. It usually set off a chain reaction of dark thoughts -- of Angel's attempt to suffocate him to death; of Gunn and Fred's abandonment; of Cordelia's casual dismissal of his existence. But he stopped it this time. Why? Because he was tired, damn it. Tired of sitting around and letting the blackness eat him. Tired of fighting the good fight but always failing.

He had tried to be a good Watcher to Buffy and Faith; sure that doing things by the book would ensure that success. He failed.

He tried hunting down rogue demons -- that was a laughable attempt at best. Then came Angel, and for a while his dreams seem to come true. He found acceptance and a life mission. For once, his aimless life had a path to follow. He may have faced bullet wounds, stabbings, torture and mutilation at the hands of demons, vampires, zombies, rogue slayers and near-apocalypses; but as long as he had Gunn, Angel, Fred and Cordelia, life was just peachy.

He should have recognized the signs of his impending doom. There was Darla, then came Sahjhan, then Connor; Holtz, Justine ... then the *bloody* prophecies. For goodness sakes, he should have realized his fate when he worked with the undead and fraternized with demons and semi-demons.

If he had a sane thought in his noggin and was not obsessed with a bleedin' noble cause, he would have hightailed the hell out of LA and headed straight back to merry old England. He would have been an English teacher with an unusual amount of knowledge in demonology in some godforsaken but quaint village in the moors.

Instead, he had to stay in sunny Los Angeles -- despite the bombings, gunshot wounds and numerous near death experiences at the hands of ghouls -- to fight the good fight.

*Who am I kidding? What good fight? Father was right. I am a failure. I will never-*

"Stop it, you bloody idiot!" he said out loud. He was momentarily startled by the strange, grating voice that came from his scarred throat. Funny -- it had been weeks, and he was still not used to the change. It wasn?t so much the injury that caused the change -- but the strange darkness that hid behind it.

Wesley headed for the bathroom and stared at his reflection. He took in the disheveled hair, the unshaven appearance and the deep frown. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce would have been shocked at his appearance. He was a Watcher, and a Watcher always had himself together. He is always ready for anything and everything. He had to train slayers, slay demons and get the right spells ready -- all in an immaculate suit and with nary a hair out of place.

Who was this man staring back at him? He lifted an eyebrow. The sight amused him and he found himself grinning stupidly at himself.

"Oh Wesley, maybe Lilah was right. Only the world's most evil law firm would take you in now. After all, you look a bloody mess - like a man without a soul," he said to his reflection and chuckled. His chuckle turned into sardonic laughter and then into painful sobs.

He turned away when he felt the pain of unshed tears behind his eyes. He could not bear seeing himself breaking down. Don't you dare cry, Wesley, his father used to rail at him. A Watcher cannot be moved by his emotions. Never let your emotions rule over you! They will ruin you!

He was right. He was right ...

He choked back a sob and tried to push the tears back. He sat down on the toilet seat, gripping his head as if he wanted to crush the emotion out of it.

*Oh Lord, I am tired. So tired of fighting, of trying to know what's the best thing to do ... the memories haunt me. They're killing me, drinking me alive. I don't want to be concerned anymore. I'm tired. I'm sick of it all. I've had enough of all this shit-*

After a while, he gathered himself enough to walk into his excuse of a living room. He stared at the scattered debris of food stuff, ancient manuscripts and books on the floor. Then at the door. And then a thought occurred to him:

He had invited Angel in.

He remembered -- was it last year? After he was shot by the zombie cop and was reduced to a man in a wheelchair. Angel had just had his epiphany after sleeping with Darla and had decided to come rescue him from vengeful Skilosh demons.

He recalled Angel's bumbling attempts at reconciliation after the whole "You're fired" episode with an amused smile. Wesley didn't think that he could win Cordelia back with a few articles of designer clothing though. Nor would he be so easily forgiven by the others like Angel.

So, Angel could waltz in here to finish the job he started in the hospital anytime. He hadn't though -- second thoughts perhaps? Or just plain 'don't-care-Wesley-doesn't-exist-anymore' attitude?

Worse, Gunn and Fred knew where he lived too. His face soured at the memory of Gunn visiting him; only to remind him that he didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore and, oh, by the way -- do you happen to know a way to get rid of this slug demon?

He was sick of them. He was sick of himself. It was time to change. Move on and forget the whole Angel Investigation episode of his life.

Move on.

Ah ... like Angel, he just had an epiphany.

And frankly, he couldn't believe how stupid he had been to not think of this sooner.


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