Angel doesn't want to make the phone call but someone has to and in the end he knew it would have to be him.
He'd found Wesley's parents' number in one of his old notebooks, notebooks that now felt like an invasion to handle and read. Notebooks with little scribblings and things that didn't mean anything to anyone any more.
The phone rings in his hand, the plastic cool against his face, the anticipation sour in his guts.
"Yes?" Comes an impatient voice on the other end.
Angel has never met this man. He thought he had once but he hadn't and now he's got to tell him that his son is dead.
"Mr. Wyndam-Pryce?" He asks, voice sticking in his throat.
"Unless you meant to ring someone else at this hour. Who is this?"
"I work with Wesley." The words are dry, dead weight on his tongue because they aren't true. He doesn't work with Wesley any more.
"Yes, I know who you are. Now what do you want? Do you have any idea what time it is here?"
He doesn't and he doesn't really care. The burden of what he's got to do is suffocating him, crushing his chest. "I'm sorry." He mutters, knowing Wesley never saw eye to eye with this man, knowing Wesley had never managed to have the relationship he wanted with his father and knowing now that he never will.
"I'm sure but I'm only going to give you one more chance and then I'm hanging up. If it's terribly important, then get on with it."
He swallows. "It is."
He looks down. "Wesley's dead." It comes out easier than he'd thought it would. Horribly, it's too easy.
"I beg your pardon?"
There's a pause as Roger absorbs the shock on the other end.
Angel focuses on what he has to do. "I'm sorry." He say's again. "Wesley's dead."
He can hear air escaping from the man and imagines him deflating like a balloon. His only progeny. It must be a blow and Roger and his wife are probably too old to start over. Angel wishes anyone else could deliver the news. Anyone but him.
"Y-you're quite certain?" Roger sounds less pompous and irritable. He sounds fleetingly like an old man.
"Yes. I'm certain."
"I see. This will be very hard on his mother."
Angel nods bleakly. "I'm sorry." He say's again.
There's a slight intake of breath from across the ocean. "Was it in the line of duty?"
He imagines that means something to this man and his people. Duty makes their lives. Wesley had very nearly escaped all of that.
Angel knows what it's like to lose a son only he got his back and Roger Wyndam-Pryce isn't going to. This is a finality. Wesley is dead for good. This is humanity in it's most enduring state.
"I. . . thank you I suppose, for letting me know. Wesley was. . . perhaps he was never cut out for field work. I'll admit to you that when he was first placed on active duty I had my doubts."
But that isn't really true, is it? Angel's seen Wesley in action. He won't again but he's seen it more than once and for all of his humanity, Wesley held his own. He'd held his own against demons and monsters and men of all kinds.
"I don't think I understood what kind of a man he was until it was too late." He admits, confessing to the dead man's father for some reason. He remembers Wesley struggling underneath him in a hospital bed and tastes shame. "But he was a good man and he was one of the most capable people I've ever met."
"Clearly not capable enough." Wyndam-Pryce sounds critical but there's defeat there too. He's lived long enough to see the end of his family. It's got to be taking a toll and Angel wonders if he has regrets too.
He wasn't a good father. Does he regret that now that it's too late to try again? Probably not and he think's that it was always probably too late for them.
"You should be proud of him." He say's, wanting to give Wesley something.
"What makes you think I'm not?" The retort is snapped and far more emotional than the man on the other end has probably ever wanted to sound. He's grieving despite things.
Angel feels the receiver becoming heavy against his face. "Wesley was under the impression that he had only ever disappointed you."
Roger makes a tsking sound. "I'm sure Wesley understood more than he let on. I shouldn't have had to tell him I was proud of him for him to know. That American need for constant validation. . ." He can hear him shake his head a million miles away. "Perhaps he spent too much time abroad. Did your own father tell you he was proud of you?"
And Angel doesn't want to think of his own father. "I didn't give him much to be proud of." He say's, just being honest.
"Well there you go."
Well there they go.
Angel feels a kind of pathetic cramping in his stomach. He can't judge this man but he does anyway. Wesley had spent his entire life trying to measure up to a man who couldn't even pay him a compliment in death.
"I. . ." And again the man sounds old on the other end. "Have you already had him buried?" He asks.
"No, we weren't able to recover the body."
There'd been too much chaos and destruction.
"I see then I'll arrange for a head stone here. It will mean a great deal to his mother."
And Angel wonders what any of it means to Roger who spent his whole life Watching and never seeing the worth in his own son. He must have been blind.
"Thank you for letting me know. . . I imagine in future you'll take more caution to protect the people you employ." It's only a little accusatory and Angel let's him have it. The man has just lost his only son and in future he will try but if there's ever been anyone he didn't think he needed to protect, it was Wesley.
He'd been wrong and now they're almost all dead. Doyle, Cordy, Darla and now Wesley. . . Fred too. . . he's failed.
"I'm sorry." He say's again, wanting the phone call to end.
No tears on the other end but he hadn't expected them.
"Yes well. . . we take a risk as Watchers. Even those of us who've left the fold." It's standoffish but it's what he's expected. Still it leaves acid in his mouth. Wesley deserved better than this man and as far as Angel's concerned, he more than measured up to him.
"If there's anything I can do-"
"I think you've done enough." Roger say's and finally he hears that there is something wet and angry in his voice, something grieving. "I thank you again for the call, good bye Angel."
"Yeah, uh. . . good bye."
The line clicks dead and Angel feels like a failure. One conversation with a man he's never really met and he's useless. Reduced to a school boy.
He imagines now he has some insight into Wesley's psyche. A life time spent trying to make a father proud. A life time failing to make a father proud.
He suddenly wishes he'd done something just once to make his own father proud of him but just like with Wesley and Roger, it's too late for him and it's too late for his father also.
Fathers and sons are tricky things. He thinks most of the time it's too late to fix things between them. It's too bad but that's the world they make for themselves. The only difference between him and Wesley is that Wesley tried.
Wesley tried and it just wasn't enough and now he's dead and no one's trying any more. No one ever really tries any more.