I could pinpoint the exact second Wesley lost all hope. It wasn’t the first time in his life I’d seen him give in to despair. That had been during his period of isolation from us the previous year. After he’d taken Angel’s son in a misguided attempt to do what was right. I could now see - because now I could see so much more of everything: people that were closed books were now clearly written pages - that even then, he had held on to hope. Hope for redemption. Reconciliation. Acceptance.
He’d got there eventually. Rejoined us. Got to see Fred again, without her treating him with disgust. I had always known he had it bad for Fred, but until I was here I hadn’t seen how bad it was: how desperately he loved her since the moment they first met. Maybe since before: looking down from above, it was clear there had always been a hole in Wesley’s life. A lack of a true friend, a supportive person, someone who challenged him without belittling him: a soulmate. He believed Fred was that. I couldn’t find much fault with his assessment.
Somewhere along the way, during the battle against the Beast, the mission to re-ensoul Angelus and even the horrifying days spent fighting Jasmine, he had been accepted back into the group. Rekindled friendships. Rekindled hope of something more than a friendship with Fred. A hope that I had watched despairingly as it dampened and slipped away over months spent at Wolfram & Hart, before surging up into something approaching euphoria at the end of a long day spent working with Fred - he had been so ignorant to the blatant signals she was throwing off that I had half a mind to reach down from on high and slap some sense into him, and damn the consequences - when something between them had finally blossomed. The light of his life was no longer a distant beacon, but a raging bonfire. Fred no longer just lit the way: she warmed his very soul. I could see the contentment and peace he’d finally achieved, along with the blissful happiness that had blossomed inside Fred. The aching cuteness, the grossly sappy nature of their relationship that was liable to give anyone around them terminal diabetes.
And now, he was going to die. Or, do something close to dying. Worse than death, certainly. Perhaps worse than almost anything. But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? The moment Wesley lost all hope, came when he was reading a book. Notably, every tipping point towards ruination in his life had come following the turn of a page. I looked over his shoulder and saw him read three words written neatly on a page.
Illyria the Merciless.
God, she was a bitch. And I’m an expert on bitches.