He took out picture #13 and stared at the funny face he made at the camera. What in the world was he doing sticking out his tongue at the camera? He did strange things back then. The Wesley now wouldn't even have the time, nor the inclination, to have that much fun.
He let #13 go and watch it float gently down.
"Hey, what are you doing there?"
Surprised, Wesley turned to see a security guard shining a light at him.
"Oh shit. A jumper. Look mister, whatever it is you're thinking about, it's not worth jumping okay?" the man took out his walkie talkie and muttered something into it.
Wesley merely shrugged and returned his gaze to the street below. Strange how small everything looked fifty stories up.
Picture #14 was a picture of his apartment. He turned it and saw a hastily written scrawl: 'Shit happens'
He chuckled and put it aside. He must've taken it when he returned from the hospital that day, alone and abandoned.
"Hey, er, look I'm going to get help, okay?"
"Great, great. You just stay there, 'k? Just wonderful," he heard the man mutter to himself. "Friday night and I get a jumper. I need another job."
Soon, he was alone with the stars, and the air.
Wesley breathed deeply and closed his eyes. At times like these, he could imagine that his life had turned out differently. His most persistent fantasy was of him as an English teacher in some indistinct high school, with a wife, kids and a Golden Retriever. The fantasy was comforting, too comforting, and sometimes he realised that he drifted away so much that he lost hours.
It frightened him how much he had changed. Looking at the photos did not ease the pain of his change. He wanted to be that silly old Wesley again, despite his ineffectiveness and idiocy. At least back then he had Cordelia and Angel.
When he opened his eyes, he realised that his cheeks were wet. Oh, this wouldn't do. Crying like a pansy-assed British guy -- like Gunn used to say.
But he made no effort to wipe them away.
<Look father. I'm embracing my destiny. The destiny you tried to prevent me from having by having me binded. I never did blame you for it. But I don't care now. I believe if I saw you now, I would burn you -- even if it hurt so much now.>
Koskov's spell was powerful. He remembered the sensation of needles in his lungs when he fell into the water enchanted with the Element of Water. With two warring Elements in his body, he was falling apart, dying a little at a time, day by day. His sanity was unravelling faster than before. Lucidity was a luxury, reserved for quiet moments like this.
In those moments where he lost himself, life went by on a strange, twisted logic. His reasoning was skewed to one focus: to purify. And during those hazy, mad times, he knew what he needed to do. What grand mission it was that he was given to do. But the moment he came to himself, it all faded away and everything that he thought was logical before, became insanity.
He wasn't sure if it was the Element controlling him or whether a part of him that was controlling the Element. Maybe there existed something in him, something dark and twisted, that relished the power the Element gave to him.
He wouldn't know.
He turned to see a man -- casually dressed with a cop's badge at his belt. Wesley merely gave him a blank look.
"My name's Roger," the man volunteered. He looked amiable, eager to please.
"I'm Wesley," he replied.
"Well," Roger hunkered down a safe distance away from him. "Care to tell me what this is all about?"
Wesley gave him a small smile. "I'm taking a bit of fresh air." It was the truth.
"Where are you from? Certainly not from around here."
Another small smile. "My family moved a lot. But my ancestral home is in Wales."
"It's at Golaghun Manor."
Roger lifted his eyebrows, clearly impressed.
"Passed down for six generations." Wesley returned his gaze to the LA skyline. "I'm the seventh."
"Look, I'm here to help you," Roger said after a while. "I know things must be hard for you."
"You have no idea how hard, Roger," Wesley murmured.
"This is not worth it."
"It is," Wesley nodded.
"Tell me what happened," Roger said.
"My best friend tried to kill me. I had a slit throat and he covered my face with a pillow and smothered me. Then my friends abandoned me." Wesley told him casually. His voice sounded robotic to his ears. "Funny, I don't seem to feel anything right now."
That made the cop a little mad somehow. "Did they nab him?"
Roger caught sight of the pile of photos by his side.
"And that is?"
"Memories to throw," he volunteered.
"Ah. Maybe you can show me the pictures? Tell me something about them."
"What part of 'memories to throw' didn't you understand?"
"Look. I'm going to cut to the chase here. Jumping, throwing your life away isn't worth it."
Wesley returned his gaze to Roger and tilted his head. "What makes you think I'm here to jump?"
Roger lifted his eyebrows -- took in the sight of him perched on the precarious ledge of the building -- and then said: "You telling me you're just taking a breath of fresh air?"
"That's partly the truth."
"And the other part?"
Suddenly, Wesley's hand shot out to grasp Roger's in a vise-like grip. The man gasped, his eyes became round with alarm as he unsuccessfully tried to pull his hand away.
"I was waiting here for you. Roger," Wesley smiled, his eyes glinting in the dim moonlight.
"Henry! Henry, the guy's nuts!" Roger called out, scrabbling backwards.
Wesley sensed people behind Roger running towards them. He narrowed his eyes and pulled Roger towards him. "You may fool them, but you do not fool me," Wesley hissed. The Element of Fire roared into being -- but with a sickening lurch, it retreated. It made Wesley dizzy, and he felt the warm trickle of blood trailing from his nose.
"Let me go you sick f-"
"Where is she?"
"Let me go!"
"Roger! Oh shit! He's got a grip on him!" Running footsteps. "No hold up! HE could jump!"
"Where is she?!"
"Look, I don't know what you're talking-"
The Element of Fire struggled to come forth and for a while it succeeded, appearing in Wesley's eyes. Wesley disappeared -- it was the Element now.
As his eyes began to glow, Roger's eyes widened more and more. He grimaced -- then his grimace slowly curved into a sly smile.
Their eyes met, and there was no more pretence.
The Element turned. It saw the one called Henry reaching with a hand towards the Beast, and the Element knew that the Beast would reach out for that hand only to pull the human to his death. Just for spite, just like what they were born to do. The Element couldn't care less about the loss of human life. But his persona, the one called Wesley, cared. So it did what Wesley would want. He pulled the Beast away from Henry.
"Oh my god! Roger!!" Henry screamed.
They fell, but the Element/Wesley clasped the body of the Beast to him, making sure that it wouldn't flee. He could only stare at Henry's anguished face as they fell slowly fifty stories down, wondering: Why does one weep for the Beast?
Wesley closed his eyes as the ground came to meet them.
"I see," said Giles - his biggest understatement yet. Even Willow had to take a seat to process everything that Angel, and then Connor told them.
Angel had a son? With his sire Darla? Cordelia was a half-demon and was now missing? Wesley stole the baby, and Holtz, a man centuries dead and resurrected by a demon, stole it from Wesley who in turn got his throat slit by Justine, a Holtz minion. And then Holtz took Connor into a hell dimension where the boy grew up into a moody 18-year-old. After which he returned to the world he was born in -- two weeks after he was stolen.
"Did anyone keep a timeline?" Willow asked no one in particular.
Connor's story was at least, more 'down to earth' so to speak. Apparently Wesley decided to save a businessman's two daughters from a powerful sorcerer/vampire. It backfired badly because Wesley fell into Koskov's trap.
"One moment we were in the warehouse facing Koskov and the twin daughters, the next moment the floor fell apart and we were swimming." Connor's eyes darkened at the memory. "I swam out easily enough, but Wesley ..."
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