Disclaimer: As much as I wish otherwise, characters do not belong to me but to Joss Whedon (who is absolutely brilliant!)

This was by far the hardest chapter I’ve had to write yet. It was definitely a struggle, trying to get into Wesley’s head and there was an even bigger struggle with his heart-to-heart chat with Buffy. I didn’t want to make him as dark as he was on the show, but I definitely wanted to explore that vulnerable side of him. And, this is the end result and hopefully it’ll live up to everyone’s expectations! I’m pretty happy with it, so hopefully you guys will like it too! Let me know what you think! (grins)

xxx

After her conversation in the graveyard with Connor, Buffy slowly made her way back to Wesley’s apartment, wondering if she could actually persuade her former Watcher into coming back to the Hyperion Hotel with her. She also wondered if she was treading dangerous grounds if she actually brought Wesley back with her. After all, she really didn’t know how everyone would react to seeing him. Should she really be meddling in affairs that weren’t any of her business? Buffy mentally sighed. Well, she was already involved, might as go all the way and really, it could only go one of two ways – she could make things worse or she could make things better.

Hopefully, it would be the latter.

The blonde approached the apartment and opened the door with her key as quietly as possible and stepped inside. “Wes!” she called out, shutting the door behind her and slipping her key back into her pocket. "I'm back!" She was met with silence and she frowned, worry beginning to fill her. “Wes?” she called out again.

She walked further into the apartment and found her former watcher standing by the doors that led to the balcony, staring out into the night’s sky. For the millionth time that summer, she was struck by how different Wes was. She hadn’t known the Wesley in Sunnydale very well, but at times, she often found that she missed that version of him. Knowing about vampires and demons, discovering prophecies, fighting evil, even coming close to death – it caused a person to grow up and mature faster than one should. She stared at Wesley’s back, remembering how he had been and mourned for his lost innocence.

Buffy had no idea what to do or say to snap Wes out of his brooding state. Initially, she had only come to Los Angeles to find Angel, but now she felt she couldn’t leave without making sure that everyone was at least on civil terms with one another. It was the least she could do for her former watcher, considering he’d put up with her all summer and hadn’t complained once.

Figuring out how to get Wesley back into Angel’s good graces, however, was another challenge all together. She and Wes had bonded, that was true, but she had no idea how to help him repair the damaged he had caused. How do you get a vampire to forgive kidnapping a child that shouldn’t have existed in the first place? It gave the slayer a headache just thinking about it.

Wes looked at her as she walked towards him. She didn’t know how it was possible, but suddenly her former watcher looked more depressed that she had ever seen him. And she had seen a lot of sides to him that summer. Buffy studied him, noting the look of despair in his eyes. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Just contemplating.”

“About?”

“Life.”

Whoa, heavy topic. Buffy turned and settled herself down onto Wesley’s couch, sensing that she was in for another long talk. What was it with everyone? She was a slayer, not a psychiatrist! But then again, she amended; she was probably the only one that could listen without judging. She gestured a hand to the space beside her, indicating for Wesley to sit. When he was settled, she gave him a hard look. “Elaborate.”

Her former watcher shrugged, avoiding her gaze. He stared off into a corner of his living room and it was a few minutes before he spoke again. “Where do you think you would be if you weren’t the slayer?”

Her eyes narrowed. He was going to play that game, was he? Fine, she would play along – for the moment. She thought about her life before she was called as the slayer and she thought about her life now. Wesley had definitely asked a question that she had thought about often in high school. “I don’t know,” she answered. “College, probably. Oh, and parties! Normal stuff, you know?”

Wes looked thoughtful as he considered her answer, then he sighed and shook his head. “I have no idea what I would be good at.”

“What?”

“It occurred to me today that I have nothing in my life worth living for. My family could care less about my well being. The people I call family, all hate me. The only thing I really know how to do is being a watcher – and I failed at that marvelously. I no longer have a job at Angel Investigations and really, my credentials are not good for anything else,” he shook his head once more, looking disgusted with himself. “I have nothing… I am nothing! I should’ve died in that hospital.”

Buffy stared at Wesley in disbelief, unable to really comprehend what he was saying. She had no idea that he was this depressed! All that moping and brooding all summer… she really should’ve done something before now. Then his words hit her and she felt anger wash over her. She did the first thing that came to mind.

She decked him.

She didn’t hit him hard enough that she broke something but she definitely hit hard enough that it would leave a bruise on his face for a couple of weeks.

Wesley’s head flew back as she stood up and faced him, her hands on her hips and eyes blazing with anger.

He glared at her, clutching his now bleeding nose. “What the bloody hell was that for?” he asked through gritted teeth.

She glared right back. “I never want to hear those words come out of your mouth ever again, do you understand me?” Wes started to stand, but she pushed him right back down, jabbing a finger into his chest. “I’m not done talking yet,” she snapped. “You are NOT nothing, okay? The fact you are still alive after an injury like yours is a miracle! The fact that Angel tried to smother you and failed proves that you’re meant to be alive! You should be grateful instead of wallowing and having a pity party for yourself!”

“You wouldn’t understand!”

Buffy felt herself become angrier. “I wouldn’t understand?” she asked, her voice in a dangerously low whisper. She let out a humorless chuckle and shook her head. “Oh believe me, I understand better than you think! I’ve been where you’re heading buddy, and I’ll be damned if I let you destroy yourself! I died twice and came back more screwed up each time and I still managed to go on. Try coming back from heaven and doing everything you can to get yourself killed so you can go back! And excuse me for using a cliché, but time really does heal everything!”

He stared at her. “You were in heaven?”

She felt her anger fade and sadness fill her. “Yeah,” she replied quietly, sitting back down on the couch next to him.

Silence. Then –

“What was it like?”

“I was happy,” she said with a sad smile. “Happier than I had ever been. No pain. And then Willow brought me back… well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. When I woke up, I was so confused and scared… I didn’t know where I was…” she trailed off. “When I finally managed to get free of my coffin, I found demons and fire everywhere. I really thought I was in hell, but it turned out to be Sunnydale in the process of getting destroyed.”

“I’m sorry Buffy,” Wes’ voice was soft.

She shook her head. “I did a lot of stupid things for awhile because I was feeling dead inside and I was so desperate to feel something… but I’m okay now.” She met Wesley’s gaze. “The point is, life is a gift, Wes. It’s precious and each moment shouldn’t be wasted. It took a long time for me to realize that.”

“But I really have nothing left…”

“So change that. One thing I learned, life is all about choices. Sometimes you make good choices and other times bad ones, but either way the outcome isn’t always what you expect. We have to fight for what we want, sometimes it’s easy and other times it’s hard and it’s everyday. But it’s what we have to do because in the end, you’ll only end up hating yourself if you don’t do anything at all.”

Silence filled the room once again. Buffy could only hope that Wes had listened and would take her advice because she had no idea what to do next. She didn’t want her former watcher to fall into the same darkness that she had fallen into; she didn’t want him to feel that kind of numbness.

Finally, Wesley sighed. “Thank you, Buffy,” he said quietly.

The slayer felt herself relax. Funny, she had no idea she had been that tense. “You’re welcome,” she smiled. “Nothing like a little perspective, huh?”

He nodded. “Yes…”

“So what are you going to do now?”

“Beg for Angel’s forgiveness, I suppose.”

“Might wanna start with Fred and Gunn first. Work your way up, you know? Angel wasn’t the only person you hurt.”

“You’re right. This is going to be rather difficult.”

“Nothing in life worth having is ever easy,” she sighed. “Look at me and Angel.”

Wesley regarded her with a solemn look and then smiled slightly. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me tonight.”

“Don’t mention it. Sorry about your nose, it was instinct. Your words just made me so mad!”

“I suppose I deserved it,” he mused thoughtfully, and then his expression turned serious. There was almost a frightened look on his face and it made Buffy want to reach out and hug him. He gazed at her with hope shining in his eyes and bit his lip. “Will you come with me to the Hyperion Hotel? I don't think I can go by myself...”

Buffy grinned. “Of course. What are friends for?”

xxx

My apologies for the short chapter, but nothing else would come! Please let me know what you think! Up next, Bangel goodness! (yay!)