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Nick had come home late that night.

Wesley wanted to ask him what had happened, but the look on his face had told him to wait. He would talk about it soon enough when he was ready. Instead, they had fallen into bed, Wesley just holding him the way they had grown accustomed to over the last few months whenever the other needed it. Sometimes it led to sex, sometimes it didn't.

That night, Nick had fallen asleep, and Wesley had found himself watching him. Part of him was still a bit gobsmacked at times that they were here, like this. Just six months ago, he had thought that he would never care about anyone again after his heart had been torn out the night Fred had died. And seeing that demon walking around in her body had been killing him little by little each day. Not even whiskey could numb that.

After he had found the letter addressed to Nick in her desk - realized that this was the man that she had referred to but had never actually spoken about, that this was the one she had left behind when she had been pulled into the life that had enslaved and ultimately killed her - he had decided that he had to get out of Los Angeles and go see him. At first, he hadn't been sure that Nick would want to see him. After all, he was the one that had ended up with Fred when she had decided not to disrupt his life by coming back into it after five years away and bringing with her knowledge of a very dark, evil side of the world few people knew about.

But in Nick, he had found a kindred spirit - someone who saw the dark side of humanity every night, someone who had loved Fred as much as he had and knew the pain of losing her abruptly. They had bonded, first over their grief, then over their places in the world. And somewhere along the way, they ended up sharing a bed, both for sex and comfort. And slowly, they had started building a life together. For themselves and for Owen.

Just then, his son started crying, so Wesley gently pulled away from Nick and went into the room they had set up as a nursery across the hall. Owen was standing up in the crib, looking up at him with big blue eyes.

"Hello there, little man," he said, reaching down and picking him up to cuddle him. "Do you need a change?"

Taking him over to the changing table, Wesley quickly got rid of the soiled nappy and put on a new one. Besides Nick, Owen was the most important thing in his life - the greatest gift Fred had given him besides her love. Because of Owen, both he and Fred had been able to see Jasmine for what she was, allowing them to put into motion the means to stop her. And because of Owen, he had the strength to put the whiskey bottle down and leave Los Angeles instead of wallowing in self pity and grief.

After he had changed Owen and given him a bottle, he placed his son back in his crib once he was asleep and headed back to the master bedroom, crawling in beside Nick to take him back into his arms.
"Prince, the books you requested have arrived."

Looking over from his spot next to the window, Wesley nodded at the young man standing at the entrance to his rooms and indicated to the wooden table already laden down with other books and scrolls. "Just put them there, please. Thank you for bringing them up, Braeden."

"You're welcome." Braeden smiled and set the books in the sole empty space he could find, then turned to head back out the door before stopping. "Is there anything I could get for you? Food? Drink? You haven't eaten since early this morning."

Wesley hadn't even noticed though the main sun had gone down at least an hour before and the secondary sun was heading for the horizon. He found he wasn't hungry, however, and shook his head. "No, thank you."

"Don't hesitate to call for me if you change your mind."

"Thank you, Braeden."

Once the younger man had left the room, shutting the door behind him, Wesley glanced over at books then back out the window. In the distance, the brightly dressed Lux people were going about their evening business, closing up shop for the night, heading to their homes, getting ready for dinner. From somewhere below, the strains of a lute floated up on the breeze. There was something rather calming about this place, and after a year, he would have thought he'd be used to it, but there were times when he couldn't help but look out and still feel disconnected from it all.

Perhaps it was because he was a prince here without his princess. And there was only one woman in the...worlds that he wanted to be that, and she - and their child - were dead. Along with his best friend.

A year ago, he had everything he could have wanted - a woman he loved, an infant son, friends, a place to call his own. Then he and Angel had been out tracking some demons when they had been ambushed. The fight had been fierce, and he'd been wounded, so badly he'd been certain he would die there in the sewers.

Then he had woken up here in this place, surrounded by people dressed in every color of the rainbow and who called themselves the Lux. They told him they had found a demon carrying him through the forest not far from their city of Luxparsa, and knowing the demon was a minion of those they fought against - the Nox, those who embraced the darkness and its bringers, they had slain the demon and brought him here to nurse his wounds. While he had been recovering, he had found a book in the rooms they had given him and started reading it and translating the text within.

When Braeden had found out, he had told the others, and before Wesley had known what was happening, he had found himself in the middle of a coronation - the Lux's Scholar Prince. Now he understood a bit how Cordelia must have felt though he didn't want to stay. Not with Fred and their son back home.

He had been told that they had been awaiting his arrival as foretold in Oriens prophecy, one that would soon be followed by the mother and the good demon with the soul. Wesley had realized that had to mean Fred and Angel and had agreed to stay if they could be convinced to join them. The Lux refused to let him go, however, worried they would lose them, so they had sent a herald to find them.

Only to have him return with the news of the explosion and fire that engulfed the Hyperion. Everything Wesley held dear was gone. Fred. Sam. Angel.

So with nothing to go back for, he had stayed. He busied his days with reading and researching, learning more about the fight between the Lux and the Nox, learning more about the world that was now his home.

But every so often, he would feel he was still a stranger here in this land and remember what he was lost. Especially when he heard the women in the castle whispering that he should find a wife and husband.

But if he couldn't have Fred and their son, he didn't want any others. He would remain the prince without his princess, no matter what the Lux thought was proper.

And he knew as a result that he'd probably never feel at home here. He just didn't want to go back to that same reminder of his loss either.

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cityofthree: Taken In...and Taking Over

Wesley threw his jacket down as he walked into his flat and looked around for a moment. He wouldn't be here much longer, and he couldn't say that he was going to miss this place. It had been his veritable prison, his unwilling exile, after he had nearly been killed by Justine and the others had turned their backs on him.

Now, after tonight, he'd never have to see it again. He was on to bigger and better things.

Things that of course would probably drive his dear old father to a heart attack. He had always said he was no good, that he'd never amount to anything, be able to do anything. Oh, if he could only see what he had done.

He and Lilah Morgan had done what no one had thought was possible. With his knowledge and her inside connections, they had managed to invade the inner sanctum of Wolfram and Hart, and together, they had magically locked the Senior Partners up, effectively making them prisoners in their own White Room, unable to break free. Now, Wolfram and Hart was theirs to control - they just had to make sure that those still loyal to the partners realized that...and what the penalty would be for challenging them.

Angel would probably...brood even more than usual if he were to learn that he had done what he himself had been trying to do for the last couple of years. Perhaps he should drop him a line and let him know.

Or perhaps he should just wait and let him find out on his own. After all, it was because of him that he had gone this direction at all - his righteous need for vengeance that had pushed Wesley toward the darkness that accepted him more readily and willingly than those in the "light" ever did. Especially Lilah.

Oh, Lilah. The others really had no clue what she was capable of. Even Wesley knew he had only seen a fraction, both in bed and during their confrontation in the White Room. There was so much more for both of them in store.

Soreness that had been masked by magic and adrenaline was starting to make itself felt. Heading into the bathroom, he looked in the mirror and grimaced - his face was cover in soot and blood, and he was sure there were going to be bruises on his body tomorrow. Stripping off his clothes, he stepped into the shower and washed himself and his hair, the vestiges of their fight swirling down the drain.

Wash away the old, ready for the new.
"I never seen a metal like it," Wesley said as he turned the twisted piece of schrapnel over in his hand. Intermittently, light reflected on it from the streetlamps outside the car as Angel drove the Plymouth through the otherwise darkened streets back to Cordelia's flat. "I wish we could afford that testing kit - I'd love to study it and see what it's made of."

The piece in his hand had - until about two hours ago - been part of a rather large cage that had been sitting in the middle of a conference room at Wolfram and Hart. Doyle had got a vision that if whatever Lindsey and the firm had been planning to raise had been allowed to, it would lead to nothing but pain and the end of everything. Not exactly the best news to receive after Wolfram and Hart had fire-bombed Angel Investigations' headquarters, so they had decided to return the favor. He and Angel had gone to the firm offices while Cordelia had stayed behind to take care of Doyle, who was still recovering from the injuries he had sustained in the bombing. Wesley shuddered to think how close he himself had come to getting hurt as well. If it hadn't been for Doyle, he might have very nearly been killed.

Whatever the Senior Partners had been planning to raise, though, it wouldn't be coming back now, Wesley thought as he studied the metal more closely. He was also fairly sure that Lindsey wouldn't be getting that promotion he had been hoping for.

Resting the piece of schrapnel on his knees, Wesley looked over at Angel, wondering if they were finally going to get a break, at least for a while. It seemed like if it wasn't one thing, it was another recently. First dealing with Faith - and that was something that Wesley would never forget as long as he lived - then having to dust that young man Gunn who had been turned by his sister. Now this.

Although one good thing had come out of everything. When Wesley had arrived in Sunnydale the previous year, he had found himself...attracted to the vampire, even though he knew his father would have thrown a fit if he had found out. His father had never made a secret of his disgust at the Slayer's relationship with the vampire who had once been Angelus. So when Wesley had realized what he was feeling, he had done his best to hide it. Especially as he had been quite certain that nothing would ever come out of it anyway.

Then he had ended up in Los Angeles after being dismissed - lovely euphemism that - from the Council and found himself working with Angel, Cordelia and their friend Doyle. And the feelings he had been trying to hide in Sunnydale came back with a vengeance, so once again, Wesley hid them.

Until after Faith had kidnapped and tortured him. After that...something had changed. Angel had changed. Or so it seemed to Wesley. He started paying more attention to him, fussing over him...baking him brownies. That had been lovely. No one had ever fussed over him that way before, not even his own mother. Wesley had never been sure if that had been because his father had told her not to coddle him or because she just couldn't. But it was so nice when Angel worried about him.

When Angel had then asked him out to a showing of that old black and white John Wayne movie, Wesley had been thrilled, not sure what was happening but willing to accept whatever it was so long as he got to spend time with him. He hadn't been sure about Angel's side of things, though, until Angel had kissed him in the office that one night.

Things had been slowly progressing from there, and Wesley was glad for that. Part of him was scared that he might do something to screw this up. None of his previous assignations with men or women had gone well, just like his father had said they wouldn't. He didn't want that to happen with Angel. He liked where he was, working with him, exploring this with him - it was the first time in a long time that Wesley actually felt comfortable with himself and where he was. Angel being a vampire didn't matter at all. Just that he was Angel.

When they reached Cordelia's apartment building, Wesley gripped the schrapnel in his hand as he climbed out of the Plymouth and waited for Angel to lock the car. "I'm sure the Senior Partners are going to try to get us back for this little stunt," he said. "Think we're going to get any time before the next salvo?"

adifferenttime: A Loss of Family

Cordelia's dead.

That's the first time I've been able to write that down since it happened. Cordelia Chase is dead. She's dead; Angel's lost to us as a result. And it's my fault. At least partly.

It started when a portal opened up in Caritas, and the host's--Lorne's cousin appeared from his home dimension. We had to figure out how to send him back, and when we did, Cordelia ended up getting caught in the portal as well, so we went after her. Gunn refused to go, though, because of his gang, so it was just me and Angel, and when we arrived, we found a girl named Fred who had been caught in a portal like Cordelia had been - she told us that Cordelia had been taken as a slave to the palace.

Priests of the Wolf, Ram and Hart - yes, the same ones - were holding her because of her visions, and because Angel was the only demon, he was the only one who could challenge for her return. Fred and I were trying to figure out everything about the ritual challenge, but we had problems getting the information because we had trouble getting to the books, and by the time we did...it was too late.

Angel had lost the challenge, and Cordelia was murdered so her visions would pass on to someone the Priests could control. Angel, Fred and I had no choice but to run - we couldn't even bring Cordelia's body home.

We have the books now...but they weren't worth Cordelia's life.

I haven't seen Angel in over a month now. He left the hotel, disappeared into the sewers, leaving me to take care of Fred. Poor dear Fred. She was so lost when she came home.

At least that was something that ended happily, though. She had taken to writing on the walls in her room at the hotel, and one of the things she had written over and over was a man's name. Nick Stokes. I did some tracking - found a Nick Stokes in Las Vegas. Turned out that he had been her boyfriend when she had been at UCLA. After her disappearance, he had spent a year with the police looking for her, went into Forensics as a result. When it seemed that they were never going to find her, he moved to Vegas to work. However, when I contacted him, he was on the first flight to L.A. His being here did more for Fred than I could have ever hoped. Fred's adapting better, and she's moving with him to Vegas after they go home to Texas to see her parents.

Gunn's gone back to his gang permanently. And as for me...I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I've been in contact with some people I've heard are some of the best freelance demon hunters in L.A. about working together. This is what I know, and without Angel, A.I. doesn't exist.



Sighing, Wesley put his pen down and looked at his journal. It was the first time he had written in it since returning, and still, it didn't seem to do any of what had happened justice. It was just words. It didn't convey how hard the last month had been, how much Cordelia's death had hurt as had Angel's just giving up.

Wesley had lost the people he considered his family. He was alone. Again.

Getting up, he grabbed his jacket even though it was warm out because his gun and stakes were concealed inside and put it on before heading out to his Jeep. He started to push his glasses up his nose then remembered that he wasn't wearing them - after returning, he had decided to get fit for contacts since the glasses had proved a severe liability in Pylea, especially after he had lost them.

Jacob had told him to meet him and the others at a small bar in a rather seedy part of town. He had just arrived and was heading down a side street when he heard what sounded like someone being attacked nearby. Drawing his gun, he rounded the corner into the alley and stopped at the sight that greeted him.

"Buffy?" he asked in surprise before he could stop himself.

ukchronicles: Everything's Changed

When the Council discharged me because I took sides with Rupert and the Sunnydale Scoobies, my father told me that he's always known I'd prove to be a failure. For as long as I could remember, he had wanted our family to become as integral to the Council as the Giles family or the Travers family. Since he knew he'd never be chosen, he saw my older brother Jonathan as the great hope - the one who would become chairman, the one who would run the Council...with my father as his behind-the-scenes counselor, of course.

Then Jonathan was killed by a vampire in his first year after initiation into the Council. I was thirteen, just starting my third year at the Watchers Academy. Jonathan was twenty-three. Despite the fact that nothing I did was ever good enough for my father, I had always worked very hard to show him I was just as good as Jonathan, but when he died, my father believed that he had lost his only chance for the Wyndam-Pryce family to join the esteemed ranks of the "ruling families". I wanted to prove him wrong, so I worked even harder, did everything by the book, didn't deviate from my teachings.

Then I was sent to Sunnydale.

And when I got there, I saw just how wrong those teachings were. The things that Buffy faced - she needed the people she had around her. It was because of them and because of Rupert that she had survived where other Slayers, even Kendra, the one called after her, had been killed so soon. The Council had been wrong to fire him. I also started to realize that pleasing my father didn't matter one whit, not compared to what we had to do in our fight against the Mayor.

At the same time, I found myself falling in love in Rupert. I didn't expect him to ever return what I thought was a crush, but he did. Sometimes, I think that my father's insistence that I be thrown off the Council had as much to do with my relationship with Rupert and his homophobia as it did with my going against Council instructions.

It didn't matter in the end. When Rupert asked me to stay with him in Sunnydale, I found myself happier than I ever remembered being, even when Ethan tried to break us apart. We moved in together, opened the Magic Box, and took care of Fred when she arrived through the portal she opened into the shop later that year.

Buffy's loss, though... I almost feared that I'd lose Rupert too after she died. So I followed him home to England and stayed with him, and let him know I was there, no matter what he had to do.

The situation with the First changed everything. I think Rupert and I would have opened up a bookshop in Bath and spent the rest of our days together there had Matthew never showed up to tell us what was going on. But we ended up back in Sunnydale with several potentials and Matthew in tow, reunited with Buffy, Willow, Fred and the others. Angel and Cordelia came up from Los Angeles. More potentials arrived. And the battle was hard won. Standing at the edge of the crater that had once been Sunnydale, my arm around Rupert, I knew things were about to take a turn I don't any of us could have guessed.

Especially my father. Because now Rupert and I are chairmen of the Council, running things. I'm doing what he never thought I'd be able to do.

Perhaps I'm not quite the failure he always thought I was.
Wesley reached up and rubbed the back of his neck as he set his pen down on the table in front of him. An Io'ic demon. He had thought those were extinct - at least his instructors at the Academy had insisted that they were. But it appeared that they had been - like with so many other things - wrong. In a way, it wasn't surprising considering the instructors had mainly been friends of his father.

"Fred, I..." he started to say without thinking before he stopped himself, realizing what he was doing and letting out a sigh. He still did that on occasion - started talking to his wife like she was still there. Most times, he caught himself as soon as he started. Sometimes, he would look up, expecting an answer that would never come. Every time, it sent what felt like a dagger straight through his heart since he couldn't even pretend that she might be there in spirit.

Swallowing against the tightening in his throat, he picked up his pen again and, while holding his neck, started making notes about what he needed to take that night and who he needed to call for assistance.

He was just finishing up the list when he heard a noise and looked up to see his daughter walking into the room, holding her video recorder. With a raised eyebrow, he watched her pull the book he had just been using for his research and look at the information on the demon.

"You might be the right height, love, but there's no way I'm going to--Spike sent you what?" he asked, dropping the pen as he looked across the table at Regan. What the bloody hell was that prat doing sending his three--eleven-year-old daughter a weapon? He squeezed the back of his neck, glad that Spike wasn't there in the room with him right then. "Regan, I know you think that you can handle this, but I'm...I'm really not comfortable with you going on a hunt with me."

Not when he had already lost her once. Not when he had already lost Fred. He knew that he probably wouldn't be able to put her off forever, not with the strength of her powers, but right now, he couldn't stand the thought of taking her somewhere where he could lose her. He couldn't do it.

hyperion_refuge: What to do...

Means we give. You win. We're moving out. The Senior Partners are ceding this territory to you, and to prove it, they want to give you controlling interest in our L.A. Office. You get the building, assets, personnel, letterhead, paper clips, all of it. It's yours to do with as you see fit.

None of this sat right with Wesley.

After spending some time trying to help track down Cordelia and Connor, he had gone back to his flat to try to get some sleep and mull over the offer Lilah had made them. Wolfram and Hart. They were being offered Wolfram and Hart - or at least the L.A. branch - to do with as they saw fit. They would be in control; they wouldn't have to worry about the Partners getting in their way. It seemed too good to be true.

And it probably was.

Sighing, he rolled up to sit at the edge of the bed and looked at the clock. He didn't know what the others thought about this - they hadn't actually talked about it. However, there was only one person who's thought he really cared about in all this.

He just hoped she was awake. They hadn't had a chance to talk like they had planned...it seemed like eons ago now.

Getting up for the bed, he got dressed and ran his fingers through his hair before heading out to the Hyperion. It didn't take him long to get there. The promised limosine hadn't shown up yet, so he parked the car and used his key to get into the hotel. After everything that had happened, the whole place seemed unnaturally quiet. He stood at the bottom of the steps for a moment, casting a glance outside for a moment before heading upstairs.

When he reached her room, he knocked softly on the door. "Fred? Fred, are you awake? It's me. I...I'm sorry if you were sleeping, but I was hoping we could talk."
Wesley sat in his office, tapping his pen against the desktop as he stared at the source book in front of him. He must have read the same page at least four times now, and still he hadn't managed to absorb the information he had called up. Sighing, he put the pen down to push himself away from the desk and stood up, rubbing his hand over the bottom of his face.

Rupert was coming to the firm. In fact, it was quite probable that he was there already, down in Fred's lab. So, Rupert was there, and he was up here, waiting for him to arrive in his office as he knew he would since Fred had said she needed his help in this situation with Spike as well.

It had been two days since Fred had told him that she had called Willow to ask for her help and that Rupert would be flying to Los Angeles instead since the witch was unavailable. And for those two days, he had been trying to figure out what he would say the moment Rupert walked through that door. How could he explain what he had done, leaving while Rupert was out, flying back to England without a word?

At the time, when the notice had come from the Council - from his own father, no less - it had seemed the only thing to do. And after he had done it, he had known that returning to Rupert's life would have been impossible. He had hurt him badly with what he had done even though he had done it to try to protect the man he...loved.

So he had been practicing what he wanted to say to him, what he had tried to tell him so many times on the phone and had never been able to say. But the moment he heard the door open and turned to see Rupert standing there, files in his hand, everything went completely out the window.

"Rupert," he said softly. "I--we're glad you've come."

He stared at him for a moment, wanting to say more, but he couldn't make it come out. He wanted to reach out to him too but didn't dare touch him either.

"Wo--would you like to sit down? Fred appears to have weighed you down with quite a bit of information there."
Fred, Faith and Lorne are keen to track down Knox and make him sing so we can figure out what's going on. I look over at my twin and shrug; it's the best idea any of us can come up with and, honestly, probably the quickest way for us to get into the little weasel's mind.

Fred tells us that he's probably at home, so we all head for car park under the building. I look over at Faith during the lift ride down. She's been sticking close to my side the whole time despite what happened. Perhaps she understands. I hope she does because I certainly didn't mean for her to be caught in this entire mess, a mess I still don't know how is going to be resolved. Am I here for good or not? That may be something only Knox knows, for whatever reason he did this.

"Who's gonna drive?" Lorne asks as we walk through the empty lot - it's still rather too early for anyone to be showing up for work - towards the jeep sitting tucked up in the corner.

"I will," I answer without thinking.

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