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Thanks to AmyB for her wonderful betawork!
A/N Some dialogue was taken from the Buffy and Angel Television series.


It was a beautiful early spring day; the lawn in front of the manor was freshly mown and the scent was warm and inviting after the long cold winter had essentially kept him housebound, for fear he may catch a chill. Next week would be his seventh birthday, and shortly thereafter he would be leaving the family estate to attend Taunton in Somerset. So when the day had dawned bright and warm, he had taken it upon himself to venture out of doors for a brief spell.
He removed his coat and placed it neatly on the oak bench that rested on the large sandstone flagstones near the front entrance; his shoes and socks followed closely behind.
He wriggled his toes, and the delightful feel of the grass against his bare feet, soft and warm and tickly in a good way, caused him to smile with joy. Breaking swiftly into a run, he took off across the manicured lawn; he leaned forward as he encountered the hill that sloped up from the house toward the gate. By the time he reached the top of the hill, his legs were trembling, his heart was pounding in his chest and his breath was coming in ragged gasps.
It was wonderful.
Laying back on the soft grass, he watched as the clouds rolled silently across the sky, searching out castles and dragons in their ephemeral contours. Under his ever-vigilant eye, battles were fought: brave knights rescued fair maidens, winged beasts of mythic proportions swooped through the air with fire bursting from their nostrils in deadly streams. He easily lost himself to the wonders playing out before him, and the sun drifted lazily across the sky without his notice.
The loud grumble of discontent brought him back to himself, the protest sounding once more to emphasise his body’s suddenly urgent hunger. Only then did he realise the number of hours he had whiled away, staring dreamily at the sky. The dinner hour had long since passed and he knew that his Nanny, Mrs Bradshaw, would be angry with him for having missed it.
He had started to climb to his feet to make the trek back down the hill and home, when he lost his balance and began to roll down the slope. Outflung arms quickly brought him to a stop; however, as he surveyed the long gentle hill leading back down toward the main house, a smile of delight quickly formed and his eyes lit with joy. Tucking his arms tightly to his sides, he jerked his body into motion rapidly gaining momentum until he was hurtling down the hill, rolling at a giddying pace. Laughter floated in the air around him, and he realised absently that it was his own.
Giddy from not only the tumbling descent but also from sheer joy, he braced his hands against the ground and went to push himself upright. As he did so, he came face to, well, foot, with a pair of immaculately polished brown leather shoes. Looking up, he saw his father’s face staring down at him, his jaw set and eyes steely as he ground out, “What precisely do you think you are doing, young man?”
Before he was able to open his mouth to answer, a harsh vice-like hand clamped down on his ear, lifting him and dragging him into the house, his bare feet scraping on the flagstones before the door.
Once inside the house, his father continued to drag him mercilessly toward the back stairs; he was only released when his father paused to open the door below the staircase. His trembling had begun the moment he had realised their destination. Now, he stood rooted to the spot, fear seizing his limbs. Not that he would attempt to flee even were he in control of his traitorous extremities; he had learned long ago that any attempt to avoid his just punishment only incurred retribution of far greater proportions.
Roger Wyndham-Pryce fastened his disapproving gaze upon his wayward son, not once raising his voice yet still imbuing it with all the disgust and loathing this pathetic creature before him conjured up. “Your behaviour is reprehensible, undignified, indecorous and, above all else, unseemly! You are a Wyndham-Pryce; it would serve you at all times to remember this. To roll about on the ground like some filthy animal, not to mention the distress you caused to both your mother and Mrs Bradshaw. To compound your sins you failed to show at table for the dinner hour, as such not only missing out on the sustenance that a child of your years requires but, by your absence, insulting cook with your lack of consideration and blatant disrespect.”
Wesley felt his father’s crushing grip as the large hand closed around his upper arm, turning him roughly and propelling him into the tight space beneath the stairs. Struggling not to cry, as that would only anger him more, he pleaded with his father. “Papa, please, no, I didn’t mean...”
“Stop that infernal snivelling now; it is time you learned to take your punishment like a man. You shall remain in here until such time as I come to retrieve you. In the meantime it would behove you to use the time wisely to consider your indiscretions and, as such, ensure that they do not occur again.” With that, the door closed tightly, the darkness absolute as it closed around him.
Terror gripped him as he fought to control the sobs that ached to bubble up from the depths of his being. His feet stung where the skin had scraped off, his heels bleeding freely as the other smaller cuts tingled and throbbed. He curled into a ball, squeezing his eyes shut tightly against the encompassing blackness. He tried to conjure up the feel of the warm sun on his face, the shapes of the clouds that had drifted across the sky, giving play to hours of joyous abandonment. Eventually his breathing calmed, the wracking sobs lessened, and he drifted into an exhausted, fitful sleep.
Water poured over his face as he choked and spluttered, desperately gasping for air and unwittingly breathing in some of the disgusting water whilst doing so. The four boys holding him down were not satisfied with merely flushing him for his crime; sharp jabs of pain jolted him as their vicious kicks made contact with his ribs, legs and any other part of his body they could reach in the restrictive space of the stall.
He was in his third month here at Eton, and it had been clearly stated to himself and his fellow first-years that, amongst other serious indiscretions, smoking was not to be tolerated. He had merely done his duty, as he saw it, in informing their Homeroom Master of the four boys’ tendency to gather at the far end of the football pitch sharing cigarettes whilst partaking in scandalous and unseemly, derogatory discussions of their Masters and fellow students.
He had found himself in his current predicament when, after homeroom, he had been on his way to his Latin class and had been suddenly ambushed by the boys in question. He had been dragged into the lower school toilets, and after a hard and completely incapacitating blow to the stomach, they had then forced his head into the dirtiest of the toilets and begun flushing at regular intervals.
After what seemed an eternity, but was probably in reality only a matter of minutes, he was flung to the ground in the malodorous stall and, with a last parting kick, left to lay there as the boys filed out, making their way to their morning classes.
These children were unbearable, undisciplined and defiant; obviously, they had been given far too free a rein when what was required was a firm hand. Discipline and order. How a man of Mr Giles’ lineage could have allowed such mayhem he would never understand. Well, there was of course the matter of his predecessor’s disgrace and subsequent removal from the council; it was just such a terrible shame to see a good family’s name sullied so.
It was simply unthinkable. He had given a direct order, Watcher to Slayer, and in return he had received insolence and derision. The younger of the two had even had the audacity to walk out on him; although, in all fairness, the matter might be much ameliorated if the older—the Summers girl— were to set a better example for her younger counterpart. Young Faith was, after all, at a highly impressionable age.
The irritated slam of books against a desktop drew him out of his reverie. He turned from the picture he had been gazing at during his deliberations to take in the sight of the older man’s frustrated face. Wesley couldn’t help but echo the other man’s frustration in his own exasperated inner sigh. Oh, really! Why can the man not simply accept his failure and step aside graciously; would it really be so difficult to allow him to do the job the Council had sent him here to do? The constant undermining of his authority in front of these children was counter-productive, to say the least.
“I didn't say you had emotional problems. I said you had an emotional problem. It's quite different,” he said, attempting to offer an olive branch to the man whom, apparently, he was going to need to cultivate a relationship with if his duties in Sunnydale were to be successful.
Giles fiddled in agitation with his glasses while answering the pompous twerp in a clear and somewhat dangerous voice. “My 'attachment' to the Slayer is not a problem. In point of fact, it's been a very...”
“The way you've handled this assignment is something of an embarrassment to the council.” Wesley fought down the growing frustration; he was truly perplexed as to the older man’s continued inability to see what was surely clear to anyone with half a brain.
“If you want to criticise my methods, fine. But you keep your snide remarks to yourself. And while you're at it, don't criticise my methods.” Giles placed the glasses once more upon his face before his fury at the incompetent, self-centred, annoying little git caused him to break them.
Adopting as superior a tone as possible, Wesley continued his explanation as if believing that by reiterating it enough he could finally make Giles understand what he had been trying to explain for hours now. “The fact is, you're no longer qualified to act as Watcher.” He allowed himself to give in to the urge to pace in the attempt to wear off some of the frustration that was trying to break through his calm, well-controlled demeanour. “It's not your fault. You've done well. It is simply time for somebody else to take the field.”
Giles looked at the younger watcher, then shifted his gaze to peer past him through the window to the library proper. “Now's a good time to start.”
Wesley had never been more terrified in all of his life. He and the librarian had been captured by the vampires despite their efforts at struggle, and now they had to watch in horrified disgust as the vilest being he could imagine instructed its minions to pour water over its corpulent form. It was only a matter of time until the disgusting thing turned its attention to them. Oh, God! Oh, God!
He searched desperately for signs of rescue, all the while knowing such hopes were futile; somehow, however, he was simply unable to relinquish the prospect of such an event occurring.
“It doesn't seem too promising, does it?” Giles’ voice sounded almost bored, but the matter-of-fact manner in which he delivered this pronouncement was seemingly lost completely on his companion.
“Stay calm, Mr Giles. We have to stay calm.”
Giles’ voice dripped with sarcasm and he fought the urge to roll his eyes in a typically Buffy-esque manner. “Well, thank God you're here. I was planning to panic.”
“What is that thing?
“That would be your demon. You know, the dead one?” Giles countered.
“There's no need to get snippy.”
To his horror the creature, or demon as it were, suddenly turned its attention upon them. “Bring them closer.”
Two of the Eliminati grabbed them roughly, and with a shove they were sent considerably closer to Balthazar than they could ever have wanted to be. The stench that emanated as the beast opened his mouth to address them was foul beyond belief.
“You know what I want.”
To Wesley’s ever-increasing horror, Mr Giles felt the need, despite the precarious position in which they found themselves, to further antagonise the situation by baiting the creature. “If it's for me to scrub those hard-to-reach areas, I'd like to request you kill me now.” He watched as the older man was rewarded for his insolence by a hard blow to the back of his head. Ow!
In a vain attempt to keep the rising panic out of his voice, he hissed, “Are you out of your mind? This is hardly the time for games!”
Giles’ succinct answer did nothing to calm him. “Why not? They're going to torture us to death anyway.”
Balthazar sniggered delightedly before breaking into a bout of wheezing. “You're not wrong about that.”
The tide of panic swelled higher, and Wesley groped for ways to hold off his impending death. “Now, hold on. We-we-we can deal with this rationally. We have something you want. You have something we want.”
Balthazar pretended to consider the offer. “Hmm... A trade. Intriguing. No, wait. Boring. Pull off his kneecaps!”
As he is grabbed by two of the imposing vampires, the last of his resolve melts into oblivion; he did not want to die, especially not in a painful manner. “No! No, no, no!” They released their hold on him, and try as he might he was unable to stop the flow of words that babbled out of his mouth. “The Slayer g-gave it to someone. A tall man, a friend... a friend of hers. I can tell you everything.”
Giles hissed under his breath, “Quiet, you twerp! They'll kill us both.”
In his current panicked state, Wesley was unable to see beyond the more immediate threat. “But I'd like to have my kneecaps,” he responded, more than a bit whiny.
“You will tell us everything!” Balthazar’s voice boomed.
“Yes! Sir.”
“What is this friend's name?”
Oh, God, what was it, was I even told? “I didn't actually catch it.” He hoped fervently that his honesty would be enough to save him.
Oh my dear lord, this is my replacement? Giles wondered for the thousandth time since the young watcher’s arrival. He looked at the demon wallowing in the pit of foetid water. “Look, um, tell you what. Let Captain Courageous here go, and I'll tell you what you need to know. How's that deal?”
Balthazar screamed like a petulant child. “There is no deal! You will die quickly, or you will die slowly! The man who has my amulet, what is his name?”
“Angel. His name is Angel.”
Wesley watched as the man he had met earlier walked out of the shadows, yellow eyes glowing out from his horrifically transformed face.
A vampire?
Of all the indignities, to be rescued by a vampire!
A shy smile, her eyes sparkling with happiness as she looked at him tenderly. He sighed deeply and broke from his daydream. If only he could find it in him to ask her for a date. Why was something that should be so simple, well...Not?
Wesley sat in his office, the pleasing aroma of ancient leather bound books surrounding him; yet his sole focus was on the slip of a girl outside his window. She flitted around the hotel, filling it with her distinctive combination of unsurpassed intelligence and precious child-like innocence. Try as he might, he was sorely pressed to keep his mind on the task at hand and off the fragile brunette who was rapidly capturing his heart.
He could hear quiet voices in the hall outside his room; they were here to visit him. Why? He allowed his head to sink further into the pillow, and his heart to sink further into despair.
“Can I see him?”
Of all the people to come and visit him, this is the last he would have expected. Maybe all wasn’t lost. Angel’s forgiveness, he knew, would be the one thing that could heal the painful ache in his chest. How could he, for whatever reasons, have betrayed his friend like this? His self-loathing gnawed away at him, like a dog on a bone.
He smiled softly to himself as he heard Fred’s gentle voice. "I'm sure he'd like that."
Angel walked in moments later, and Wesley allowed himself another brief glimmer of hope, this time desperately wishing that his friend could find it in his heart to forgive his foolishness and treachery.
His eyes opened as he heard the vampire’s steps draw closer to the bed.
"Hey, Wes. I just - I want you to know I understand why you did it. I know about the prophecies and I know how hard it must have been for you to - do what you did. You thought I was gonna turn evil and kill my son. I didn't. It's important you know that.”
Angel was telling him something he already knew, something he had worked out for himself only too late; he had lain dying in the park knowing that this betrayal would be the last sin on his soul, and he knew just as clearly that the reasons for it had been a horrible mistake. Stepping back from his maudlin reveries, he forced his grief-filled mind to focus on what his friend was saying now.
“This isn't Angelus talking. It's me, Angel. You know that, right?"
All he could do was blink in acknowledgement, though he longed to be able to speak, to tell Angel what this visit mean to him, to apologise for his desperate error.
His already pain-filled world suddenly filled with an even greater level of agony than he had thought possible. The excruciating pain in his wounded throat multiplied as the pillow was ripped from under his head and he was dropped, hard, to the mattress below. But worse than the physical pain was the intense, unimaginable agony of hurt as his trusted friend placed the pillow over his head, pressing hard to cut off his air and his life.
Words came to him dimly through the haze of dizziness and pain, but they burned themselves into his soul.
"You son of a bitch, you're gonna pay for what you did! You took my son! You son of a bitch! You bastard! You think I'd forgive you?! No! Never! You're gonna die! You hear me? You're gonna pay!"
He reached feebly for his friend’s arms, trying with his last strength to pull them away, his lungs desperate for the air being so cruelly denied them.
For only a second, air rushed below the slightly lifted pillow, and he sucked it gratefully into his lungs before the smothering darkness once more descended.
"You took my son! You took my son!"
"Stop it!" Fred’s voice broke through the dimness beginning to cloud his mind, piercing the fog and allowing him once more to focus on the events that had begun to take on an almost surreal quality in his oxygen-deprived mind.
"You took my son!"
The weight lifted from him, and his lungs once again drew deep desperate gulps of the life-sustaining substance.
Gunn’s voice joined the cacophony in the room. "Angel! Stop!"
"Never! Never!"
He heard the hardened street-fighter all but plead with the furious vampire, heedless of his own safety in his need to protect his, if not friend, then colleague. "Come on, man, stop!"
"I'll kill him! You're dead!"
Wesley watched with broken-hearted detachment as Gunn and the troop of orderlies dragged the large man out of the room. Distantly, he heard Gunn once more ask the irate father to listen to reason. "Angel. Stop, man."
Wesley lay on his bed, gasping for breath and wishing keenly that Angel’s attempt had come to fruition. The pain of his guilt was a far harsher punishment than that which the vampire had sought to visit upon him, and he again prayed for the oblivion he had longed for as he lay pouring his life’s blood into the grass of an abandoned Los Angeles park.
"You're dead! You're a dead man, Pryce! You're dead! I'll kill you! I'll kill you. You're a dead man! Dead!"
One last echoing cry came from the corridor as the man, the friend he had betrayed, was dragged away, leaving Wesley behind to contemplate what he had done and what he had sacrificed.
Wesley opens his eyes, attempting to bring his world into focus. Pain engulfs him, sharp, burning. Arms hold and support him tenderly, and it is only then that he realises he is on the floor and that the arms holding him with such gentle care belong to the strongest creature he has ever known. Illyria is kneeling beside him on the floor, carefully examining his wound.
The wound; he remembers now. Vail… the knife… yes, indeed that would explain the agony searing his brain and flesh.
He strains hard to focus on what the woman holding him is saying. “Wesley. This wound is mortal.”
Reaching down he touches the wound, although he already knows what he will find. “Aren't we all?” He smiles gently at her to remove the sting from his words. “It was good… that you came.”
Tilting her head slightly to the side, Illyria stares into the face of the only human she feels any connection to. “I killed all mine, and I was…”
“I think so. But I can't help. You'll be dead within moments.”
“I know,” he states, matter-of-factly. He was relieved by her pragmatism in the matter; after the heartrending scene of Fred’s death, he didn’t believe that he could endure another such encounter, even if it should be for the end of his own life.

“Would you like me to lie to you now?”
He looks at her, the last of his strength draining from his body as he spoke. “Yes.” With this wish expressed, his eyes drift slowly closed in barely concealed pain. “Thank you. Yes.” When his eyes once again open, the face he stares into isn’t one of an all-powerful Goddess, but the loving face and eyes of the woman with whom he would gladly have spent the rest of his eternity. “Hello there.”
Fred fights a losing battle with the tears that break free to roll gently down her face. “Oh, Wesley. My Wesley. “
“Fred.” His voice barely a whisper, “I've missed you.”
She places gentle, loving kisses against his lips, then with her tears still pouring unheeded she places one more reverently against his forehead. “It's gonna be OK. It won't hurt much longer, and then you'll be where I am.” As his life slowly ebbs away, her grief intensifies, causing the tears flow faster and a wave of loss and pain to clutch at her heart. “We'll be together.”
“I—I love you.”
She smiles tenderly at him even as her tears continue to flow. “I love you. My love. Oh, my love.”
Wesley lays motionless, lifeless in her arms, his blank stare fixed on her face. She lets him go, gently placing his head on the floor.