Title: Lost

Author: Mel

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Summary: Wes laments what he's lost and reflects on what he's become

Rating: G

Spoilers: A Hole in the World/Shells, and possible vague for The Girl in Question and Origins

Warnings: Angst, character death

Pairing: Wes/Fred sort of, though Fred doesn't appear

Notes: Just a short, angsty Wes-fic that takes place sometime post AHITW and Shells

Disclaimer: Not mine, I just torture-er, play with them, then put them back for someone else. Joss Whedon owns the characters and Sarah McLachlan owns the song I used.

"Once she died or some bastard killed her, it would have killed everything in you"-Heartthrob

By the shadows of the night I go
I moved away from the crowded room
That sea of shallow faces masked in warm regret
They don't know how to feel, they don't know what is lost

Dead.

I'm dead.

Physically I'm still alive, but I've been dead inside ever since I lost the love of my life.

.My life ended and I stopped living the day my Fred died. Now I simply exist instead of living, plodding through life no longer a man, just an empty shell, devoid of hope, of life, of any emotion at all. When Fred died, I died along with her.

The memories and emotions of that terrible night constantly ceaselessly torment and torture me, dominating my thoughts in the daytime and invading and haunting my dreams at night. My life has been an unstopping series of trials and hardships, one after another, but none of them was ever as devastating and painful as having to helplessly watch someone I loved more than life itself dying slowly, painfully, at the mercy of an invisible enemy neither I nor anyone else could stop or control.

Lost in the darkness of a land
Where all the hope that's offered is
Memories of being taken by the hand
And we are led into the sun

She had already been through so much in her life, things no one should ever have to experience. Exiled to a strange dimension, treated like a piece of property, hunted like an animal...Things that would have made most people simply go insane or kill themselves to end their suffering. It's true she had her problems, but even so she came through all of it remarkably well.

I think back to the first time I ever saw her, coming into the Pylean rebels' camp with Angel. She was dirty, starving, dressed only in filthy rags and seemingly close to insanity. To me, she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in my life. I don't know if it was love at first sight, but I definitely felt something, sensed that there was something different, something wonderful and remarkable about her.

None of us in the group really expected her to stay. We assumed that once we got her back to our world, we'd help her find whatever family she had and she'd go back home. But when she did stay, I was pleased to have her as an employee and coworker, and as a friend. Gunn and I were in constant competition for her attention and I was confident she'd choose me because we were so alike, had so much in common. And then, I tried to kill her. I know it wasn't my fault, it was something mystical that was done to me, but I didn't know if I could live with myself after attacking her that way. I thought I had ruined any chance of a relationship and when I found out about her and Gunn, that seemed confirmed.

I never dreamed that she'd fall so hard for him since they seemed to have nothing in common. It's true; one never really can predict these things. I did the only thing possible and stepped aside; let her be with the one she chose. But I still made it clear that I wanted to look out for her and that I didn't want to see her get hurt. I couldn't know then how almost prophetic that exchange with Gunn would seem in light of what happened to Fred.

As much as I would have loved to have started a relationship with her back then, looking back with my memory now fully intact perhaps it was better that way. I wouldn't have wanted her to choose me and then be forced to make a choice, whether to join me in my exile after I was driven from the group, or to remain loyal to Angel and the others.

When the Siedel incident happened, I could see what was coming, but it took the two of them a little longer to figure it out. I was coming back into the group then and Gunn and I argued constantly about Fred. He saw me as a threat and kept threatening to' put me down hard' if I moved on her. He still thought he could make the relationship work at the time.

I remember her coming to me around that time when a good friend of hers died and she didn't feel she could talk to Gunn about it. I remember holding her and trying to comfort her while she cried. I never imagined that only a year later, I'd be with her as she faced her own death. She said something to me that day that proved terribly prophetic in light of what happened.

"...She was powerless. Everything she was, everything she could have been was taken from her."

That's the way it was with Fred. By killing her, Illyria took away everything she had been and ever could have been and rendered her powerless. It was no different than if she'd been shot or stabbed or something like that. She was murdered just the same. And now her killer is walking around in her body.

Things between Gunn and I got even worse when I rescued Fred from Angelus' attack through the cage bars and Fred and I found ourselves kissing afterward. Gunn and I came to blows then and he accidentally hit Fred during the fight. He broke off the relationship right then. I thought maybe I had a chance now, but Angelus made things worse when he told the others I'd been sleeping with Lilah for the past few months. It was over by then, and Fred tried to act like it wasn't important and it wasn't her business, but I could tell that she was quite put off by the revelation. Again, I thought that any chance I had with her was ruined.

When I finally did win Fred over, sometime after we took control of Wolfram and Hart, I was happier than I'd ever been in my life. I'd actually suspected she and Knox might have something going, but after a bit of hinting and flirting and trying unsuccessfully to get me to realize she actually was making advances, she took direct action and I realized I'd finally won her over.

That one week we were dating, right before everything fell apart, I felt more alive, more wonderful, more complete than I ever had before. Despite the fact I was working for a place I'd once swore I'd never work for, I had everything I wanted-my friends, my work, and the woman I'd longed for and dreamed of ever since I first laid eyes on her. I happily anticipated what the future would hold and dreamed of spending the rest of my life with her. I never dreamed that it would be over so quickly and painfully. One week later, my world fell apart completely.

Sitting there, watching her slowly deteriorate I felt more helpless than I ever had before. She looked to me for comfort, for reassurance, for hope, and I couldn't give her any of those things. I couldn't even ease her pain because there wasn't any way to get medicine into her. Her skin was so tough and leathery that it broke the syringe, and she wasn't able to take anything orally either. All I could do was hold her and be there for her to help her face her impending death. I've never experienced pain quite like when she finally died in my arms. A small part of me was relieved that she was out of the terrible pain she'd suffered, but mostly I was gripped by anger, despair and a terrible emptiness inside.

But I don't have a hold on what is real
Though we can only try
What is there to give or to believe

I took my anger out on those around me. I sought revenge on the men responsible for her death, Dr. Sparrow and Knox, the lab manager. I knew I shouldn't have, but I didn't think that justice would come any other way. The law couldn't handle it, they wouldn't even believe it. Angel probably would've made them pay in time but I wanted justice right away. I do recall telling Fred that revenge can be difficult to live with, but I think now I understand more what Justine meant when she said that sometimes, revenge is all there is.

When I found out about Gunn's unwitting involvement, I knew that he had no idea what the results of his actions would be, but I didn't care at the time. I just wanted to make everyone responsible for Fred's death pay, and although I couldn't bring myself to kill him, I wanted him to suffer, wanted him to feel pain. I can still clearly see the expression he had when he realized I was going to stab him. It was a mistake, something done in grief-driven anger and I knew it, I just didn't want to accept it until later on. It's fortunate that he was able to forgive me and make peace with me later on.

Knox said that Fred's soul had been burned, consumed in llyria's resurrection, but I didn't want to believe it, refused to believe she was gone for good. In this world, people come back from the grave all the time...Buffy-twice in fact, Angel, Darla, Spike, even Lilah had been resurrected in some form or another and I was certain we could do the same for Fred. I could not, would not believe that Knox was telling the truth and that Fred's soul was gone forever. But, day by day, hope grows slimmer that she'll be brought back.

What's even worse is that Illyria carries some of Fred's memories as a result of connecting into Fred's brain before it collapsed. She not only remembers things Fred did including some things brought back by the breaking of the Orlon Window, but she can imitate Fred's voice and appearance flawlessly. When she became Fred, when Fred's parents came to visit, I felt the pain and anguish come back all over again, as vivid as the day I lost her.. I couldn't bring myself to tell Trish and Roger the truth, to subject them to the horror of knowing their daughter was dead and something else was living in her body.

If I ever had any hope of bringing Fred back, it's gone now. I know I'll never see her again or hear her voice outside of Illyria's mimicry. I know that whenever I finally die physically, it will be only a formality, because emotionally, spiritually and mentally I'm already dead. I won't be afraid of dying. I'll embrace it; welcome the blessed end to this wretched, meaningless existence that I'll be trapped in until whatever time that happens.

I wonder if I'll get to see her again then, or if her soul really is gone forever. It hurts to think that she didn't even get a peaceful eternity; that she just vanished into nothingness as if she never existed. But I try to hold to a small sliver of hope that maybe one day I will see her again, that she is waiting for me in the next world. If Knox was telling the truth,though, I'd much rather fade into nothingness and oblivion myself than spend an eternity without Fred.

I feel there's nothing left to fight for
No reason for a cause
And I can't hear your voice and I can't feel you near

I'll go on with my life, because I have to for Angel and the rest of the team, or what's left of it. But I'm not really alive. I'm not living, just existing, as an empty, dead shell of a man, without any hope or happiness whatsoever. I may still be alive physically, but in every other way, I'm already a dead man. The day Fred died, I died with her.

I want it all to go away I want to be alone
Sympathy's wasted on my hollow shell

I wanted a change knowing all I could do was try
I was looking for someone...