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"Dr Rogers, please come to Surgery Ward five, thank you," said the nurse's voice over the intercom. It was the third call, and the nurse's voice had a distinct annoyed edge to it.

Gunn felt an edge too. Right now there was a growing tension him and he wanted to lash out and hit something. Anything. It had been half an hour now, and he hated not knowing, not being there when-

When what, Gunn? I mean, you should be happy and all. I mean, you've been wishing him to go away for some time now. Now you've got the wish. Be happy and make merry, man!

Gunn ignored the mocking voice inside his head and focused his attention on Fred, who had been sitting, like a statue, in that uncomfortable plastic chair for half an hour now. He was worried -- he saw something in her eyes that he had not seen in a long time. The same distant look she had worn in Pylea, where little she said had made sense. She couldn't be going back there now.

They made a mistake. Damn it, they were duped! Idiots!

Again, he had the urge to kick something.

Maybe Cordelia caught wind of his intentions when she gave him a sharp look. She had stopped bothering to hide her tears for some time now. In her hand was a crumpled tissue, something the nurse gave when she saw her state.

Just then the doors to the Emergency Room flung open and all three of them stood up at once. Angel walked towards them, his face unreadable. But his shoulders held an undeniable stoop of defeat that none of them wanted to see.

"Angel?" Cordelia whispered. "Wes? Tell me-"

Angel just shook his head shortly and looked to his right, at nothing Gunn could see. The vampire just didn't want to meet their eyes.

"He ..." Angel's voice shook and when he returned his gaze towards them, they were wet with tears. "He ... it was too hard. I'm sorry."

"Too hard?" Cordelia asked, her voice taking on a shrill edge. "What the hell do you mean?!" she gave him a sharp look before running into the emergency room, pushing aside a nurse who wanted to stop her.

Gunn wanted to go to her, to see Wes, to see for himself whether it was true, but Fred had collapsed to her knees on the floor. The vacant look in her eyes had deepened, and Gunn was desperate to reach her.

"Fred?" he whispered. Then shook her a little. She didn't even blink.

"Baby, come on."

Suddenly, she got up, pushed him away and ran down the hall. She ran so fast that she was gone from his sight when he finally got his legs back. He turned to ask Angel something, but the vampire was gone too -- leaving Gunn alone in the emergency room waiting area.

"Get away from him!" Cordelia growled, pushing away the aide.

"Hey lady, you shouldn't be here," the man protested, keeping a firm hold on the gurney where Wesley's shrouded body lay.

"And he shouldn't be here, you get it?" Cordelia yelled, not caring if she sounded like a crazy person or not. "He wasn't supposed to die! I mean ... he wasn't..." It was important. Somehow she knew that it was all wrong, that it wasn't Wesley's fate to die this way -- or this early. It wasn't fair. The Powers that Be were taking away her memories so quickly. It wasn't fair not to know!

The aide nodded, as if he understood. "Okay. I'll give you a few minutes ... but I'm sorry, ma'am. His body-" he faltered when he saw her sharp glare.

"I mean... the coroner will want to see him," he said after an awkward silence. Then he reluctantly walked away, throwing back glances as he moved to a spot to give her some privacy.

When she was finally alone, Cordelia managed to work up the nerve to remove the sheet. She stared at Wesley's still face and at his motionless chest where so much blood now lay.

She was really stupid sometimes. Who was she kidding? She was an idiot most of the time! It took her an ascension to realise how much Wesley was suffering after Connor's abduction. But by then, it was too late to do anything. All she could do was watch as he destroyed himself -- and as his friends stood by to watch.

And she was one of them.

How she hated him after what he did to Angel. Then, she was so myopic in her love for Angel that she had blocked Wesley out of her mind. He didn't exist to her, and she didn't want to care.

"Wes. You can't be dead," she whispered, touching his cheek tentatively.

It was ice cold.

Gasping, she closed her eyes, her slight body trembling. This couldn't be happening.


Shocked, Cordelia opened her eyes, expecting Wesley's blue ones to look up at her, but they were still closed. Dead. He was really dead.

She felt a hand on her shoulder, but she wasn't alarmed. It was familiar. She held the hand and squeezed it. It seemed like ages ago when they were together in a situation like this; watching over a dying Wesley as he lay on the couch bleeding to death from a gunshot wound. But now ...

"He's really gone," Cordelia whispered plaintively.

"I know," Gunn said, his voice low.

All Cordy could do was stare at Wesley. Then, she lifted up a cold, bloodied hand, and leaned against it. "I'm sorry Wesley. For being too late."

Gunn looked away, knowing that there was nothing he could say that would make things better.

It was just too late for that now.

The door opened with a bang, startling Giles and Willow out of their reverie. The watcher stood up sharply, prepared for the worst as he aimed his bow at the intruder. He sighed in relief when he realised it was Angel. "Angel? Is Fred-?"

Angel didn't answer. Instead, he seemed bent on something. His motions were taut, angry. With quick, sharp motions, he opened the weapons cabinet and took out a sword and slammed it shut.

"Angel? Stop. What happened?" Giles demanded, racing to Angel's side.

He was surprised that Angel actually stopped to consider him. With trembling lips he said, "We were such idiots!" he hissed, his voice heavy with self-recrimination.

"What happened?" Giles demanded firmly.

Angel closed his eyes at that. "Wesley's dead."

Although Giles was not surprised -- it was what Fred left to do after all -- Willow, who didn't know about that, gasped and swayed to her feet. "How?"

It was clear that the vampire had no intention of answering her when he continued his walk to the exit, but Giles was fed up of people rushing off bull-headedly without thinking.

"Damn you, Angel. You will stop now, and you will explain what is going on before anyone else gets killed!" he barked.

That got his attention. With a furious motion, Angel swung around and threw his sword. Giles flinched when the sword impaled a pillar near the stairs. The dull thud echoed eerily in the cavernous, mostly-empty hotel. Then with a suddenness that shocked the former watcher, Angel sank to his knees and wept. Tentatively, Giles placed a shaky hand on the vampire's shoulders, not knowing what to do. He had never seen the vampire lose control before. Never.

Willow met his eyes, fear and sorrow in them -- because they now know that they had been right all this time -- they had not seen the whole picture.


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