Disclaimer: Not Mine. I will, at various points, use dialogue from the show in this fic. I don't own that either.Dead Man Walking
Chapter 2: Hypocrisy
Angel's face, as he walked into the hospital room. He'd kept it neutral, but Wesley could see the fury there, hidden in his expression. The words, the tone, almost...pleasant, for a moment...then the pillow, Angel's words...he was unable to breath.
He remembered desperately wanting Angel to succeed...and then breath again, as he was dragged of. Angel's final words to him...they'd be with him forever which was shaping up to be quite a long time, unfortunately.
“You're dead! You're dead!” Oh, how I wish that were true.
Wesley had spent the last week and change since his discharge from the hospital doing...well, nothing. Rereading the tomes he'd read time and time again, drinking every night – it was amazing just how much he needed to drink to even feel the least bit drunk, now. Still, he woke up to a hangover every morning, a testament to just how determined he was.
He had only left his apartment once, in that entire time, to buy essentials. He didn't think he actually needed to eat, but the routine gave him something to hold on to, keep what was left of his sanity intact. And he'd bought himself a lot of alcohol, knowing he'd need it. He was running out. Just a bottle of vodka and half a bottle of scotch left.
Wesley was asleep, when the furious knocking at his door began, dreaming.
Well, if watching an endless cycle of one's own failures, and the myriad of ways they could have turned out better, if only he'd been just a little smarter, just a little better, qualified as dreams, rather than nightmares. He saw himself handling Faith better, or at least not making quite so many mistakes. Saw himself being tortured by Faith, felt the pain all over again. If only he'd told the others, about the prophecy, or never trusted Justine, at least not at that crucial moment...if only he'd died there, in the park.
He dreamed of dying more than anything. But his death was never followed with oblivion, in his dreams. Because he always kept waking up dead. Clinically, Wesley was alive. By all possible definitions he was alive, but Wesley hadn't really felt alive since his first death.
The knocking had awoken him – he was always a light sleeper, and he'd not had deep sleep...except when he was unconscious from drink.
Who, though, would be so interested in seeing him? There was no one else, now. The continuing knocking brought him to the door. He opened it, and actually chuckled a little, inward, darkly. Gunn. What now, he wondered. Was Gunn here to finish the job? Would Gunn remove his head, if he asked him?
“Need your help.” Gunn said as soon as he saw Wesley. Help?
This man...this man he'd once counted as one of his closest – one of his only - friends, who had abandoned him – perhaps, not entirely without reason, but still, without any chance to explain himself, who had stolen the woman he loved...though now...his feelings for Fred, whatever they were, were beyond impossible, even if he reconciled with Angel and the others. Fred was normal, human. She would live a normal lifespan. He wouldn't be able to watch her age and himself stay the same. He wanted the whole package, with Fred, he knew. Love, life, happiness, forever. But forever had become longer for him, and was still the same length with Fred. He still loved her, he knew, but it was impossible, and he hoped it would pass, in time. It had to, anyway.
Gunn needed his help. And Wesley, hating himself, knew he would give it. They had been friends, and while it didn't seem to matter to any of them now, it did matter to him, still. He hoped that would pass in time as well. Wesley stepped aside and let Gun inside his apartment.
“Look, I don't have time to get into it with you.” Time? It wasn't a question of time. Gunn had had all the time in the world, since his discharge from the hospital, to 'get into it' with him, if he was so inclined. No. Gunn lacked the interest, the inclination, to bother. He had turned his back on their friendship completely, and was uninterested in looking back. “I don't even want to be here.”
So why are you? He'd considered asking, but Gunn went on before Wesley could. “The hotel is infested with something. Some kind of slug jellyfish type thing.” As Gunn spoke, Wesley walked past him, towards the cabinet on the far wall. Whatever Gunn wanted, he'd need a drink to get through the hypocrisy, on both their parts. “We don't know what they are, or how to kill them.”
Truly, it must suck to be you, Gunn. Your life is terrible. Here, let me make it better. See this cut on my neck? Let's open it all over again and pour lemon juice on it, shall we?
“Well now, that is a problem.” His voice was normal, undamaged. He didn't bother trying to make it sound like he hadn't recovered. Let Gunn think what he would. He reached for a file as Gunn spoke. He needed to resort this one, he considered.
“These things...there's hundreds of them. They get inside you and soak up all the moisture out of your body. They drink you alive.” Then the solution's simple, Gunn...though perhaps not simple enough for you
, he added, spitefully, in his mind. To Gunn, the world was simple – mostly. Good and evil, white and black. Angel had thrown him for something of a loop – good Vampire? How does that work? He suspected Lorne had as well, but eventually he'd worked it into a new paradigm. Gunn's worldview was expanded, altered, but still, a simple, straightforward one. Wesley knew the answer, though he had one, vital question. He already knew the answer, but he wanted to know how Gunn rationalized it to himself.
“Why come to me? I'm sure Angel will figure out a way to kill them, eventually.” It was possible. Angel wasn't an idiot, though Angelus...Angelus had a base cunning and cruel genius Angel could never match. Angel might figure it out, if he bothered to think, rather than fight, which he could, he might.
“That's not what I'm looking for. I need to know how to get these slugs out of someone who's been infected.” Again, the solution seems simple.
“Force it out somehow.”
Despite himself, Wesley toyed with Gunn. “Sorry.”
“Don't give me that. If you could see what these things do.”
“I wish I could help.”
“Sorry you wasted your time.” How determined was he. How determined was Gunn to find out what he wanted to know, he wondered.
“Its Fred.” Ah. That explained it. Somehow, he doubted Gunn would have gone as far as to ask him for help, had it been Cordelia, Groo or Lorne, infected.
Wesley stared him down for a moment, before turning and going to the cabinet, like he'd planned at the start. He pulled out the bottle of Vodka.
“What, we're gonna have a drink now?” No, you idiot. I'm holding the answer right in front of you, and you're still too stupid to get it.
“Did you hear what I said? She's dying!”
“I was dying.” Lie. I was dead.
“Throat cut, life pouring out of me.” Lie. Life already left me.
“Know why I fought to live again?” Lie. I didn't fight at all.
He didn't know why he was lying. Gunn wouldn't care. He wouldn't get forgiveness this way. But he didn't want Gunn – or anyone – coming back to open old wounds again. If that meant playing up an affectation, to make sure no one else came back to him the moment they needed his expertise again...he'd do it.
“Wes, I don't have time.”
“I wanted to live.” Lie.
“To see my friends again.” Lie. I knew I'd never be able to face them. Not after taking and then losing Connor.
“To explain to the people I loved and trusted. My side of what happened.”
“We know what-” Liar. You know what you think, what you answer you jumped to as you dissolved our friendship.
“You know nothing.” He tossed Gunn the bottle. He saw the look in his eyes. He got it. Finally. “I'll help because its Fred.” Lie. I'll help because its any of you
. “But don't come here again. Pretend I died, that night, in the park, if it makes the task even easier. Its close enough to the truth anyway. None of you are welcome in my home, such as it is, again.”
Gunn left without a word.
Wesley didn't drink that night. Severing the last, faint connections with his friends was essential, so his wounds would stay closed, but it hurt. Ripping off the bandage. He hoped Gunn took his words to heart, and considered Wesley Wyndam-Pryce dead.
Wesley certainly felt that way.