Exaggeration and Blank Verse
The Witness
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

Excerpts from the journals of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce

(Winter 2000)
I begin this new volume of my journals (one can't entirely leave one's training, I suppose) in the home of a new acquaintance, one whom I hope soon to be able to honestly call a friend...I must confess to being somewhat giddy with pain medication at the moment, as only a few days have passed since the amputation of my left arm. Kun-Gai demons are nasty buggers rather unpleasant, it seems...at any rate, I am far from being recovered and thus still on heavy doses of morphine. Lovely stuff, morphine. Angel assures me that my life and mission are not over, however; he believes I can learn to fight again.

He's made it subtly clear that he expects me to remain here no longer than it takes me to heal, and yet I hope I can persuade him to let me stay. Neither one of us has anyone here in LA, and we get on well enough together. I don't believe isolation suits him- it's been only a few weeks since his friend Doyle died, and already he never speaks unless spoken to, and reacts to the sound of my voice like a firecracker has gone off. Certainly not healthy.

(Spring 2000)
I find myself recuperating once again...at my own apartment, however; relations between Angel and myself are still somewhat awkward, though I do understand his actions, I do.

Faith has turned herself over to the police, which I can't say isn't a great relief. Angel's belief in the ultimate redemptive potential of every soul is commendable, but the aches of my body deserve some reflection as well...

I must go see him tomorrow. His row with Buffy was most unfortunate, and I could see that her words hurt him deeply. Of course he won't discuss it with me; I'll consider myself fortunate if he even unlocks the door. But I must continue to believe that it means something if I try.

(Summer 2000)
We've called on the young vampire hunter, Charles Gunn, for aid several times now, and I think I'll ask Angel about officially making him a part of our team. I can't forsee any objections. Thought it pains me to say it, Angel has become less and less willing to go out to help those in need. He passes along the information from the visions and then retreats into his sanctuary, that dismal hole of an apartment, and lets me go alone or call Gunn for backup. The incident that introduced us to Charles was the last time he went out of his own intiative; the debacle of the blind children, the last time he came at the start of a mission instead of after recieving a frantic call for rescue.

(Fall 2000)
...In my more romantic moments, I believe Angel held himself together with sheer will until I had someone else to support me, to watch my back and off side in the fight and bandage wounds afterward. I can't overlook that while he began to falter after the incident with Faith and Buffy, his severe deterioration did not begin until we met Charles and piqued his interest in our work. Once Charles could take over the role of my comrade-in-arms, Angel could allow himself to slip away.

It grows worse with each vision and shows no signs of reversing. He calls us to him, gives the bare details, then locks himself away for hours that grow longer each time. He refuses to discuss the time he spends locked inside, but we can sometimes hear him talking. Charles calls it "raving," but I refuse to apply that stigma yet.

What I don't understand is that he never mentioned any such behavior from Doyle. I must research Brakken demons and vampires, in hopes of finding an explanation for the difference.

(Winter 2001)
It is odd that Wolfram & Hart, who considered him such a formidable player at one time, seems to have written him off so completely. The unexpected passage of the visions must have altered his destiny greatly. This concerns me more than Charles thinks is quite reasonable...

I wish I could convince Angel to come to Caritas and sing for the Host. But the very idea of him leaving his den is laughable anymore...

(Spring 2001)
I can no longer avoid the label of "raving" to describe his worst times between visions, but it certainly isn't a constant state. There are great periods of lucidity as well. I'm simply no longer certain which is the more heartbreaking way to see him.

This afternoon he was calm when I went to see him. We sat and talked about the last completed mission, and suddenly he sighed and closed his eyes, resting his head against the wall. I asked him what was wrong.

"My head hurts," he said in a dull voice. "It hurts all the time." I couldn't think of anything to say, but after a moment he went on. "All of me hurts all the time. It's like I'm being ripped open inside." He then opened his eyes and looked at me, and I could have wept for what I saw in them. "Some way for the Powers That Be to show their favor, huh, Wes?" he asked. "Nice to know they care so much."

I'm still cursing my slow tongue and inability to say anything to comfort him. Shortly after he said he was tired, and I left. I can't shake the certainty that after the door closed behind me, he wept...

My research on Brakken demons and the demonic half of the vampire suggests that Brakken demons have no significantly greater psychic robustness. Which is to say, there's no physiological reason why Angel is deteriorating and Doyle did not. Their demonic halves handle the burden of the visions equally. Angel's decline is psychological, and after giving it some thought, I've reached a theory. Charles thinks it's a stretch, but given his history it is somewhat understandable that he'd take a certain amount of pleasure in seeing a vampire brought low.

I think that having this direct connection to the Powers, being forced to feel the suffering of each victim they link him to, causes Angel to reflect back again on all the people he hurt as Angelus. Now he knows their pain intimately, from within, and it makes it even worse for him than it was in the century after he regained his soul. It would be enough to drive anyone mad...

(Spring 2001)
Settling in for the night after a rather traumatic road trip to Sunnydale for the funeral of Ms. Joyce Summers. I might have known that Buffy's voice on the phone would be the one thing that could get him to step foot outdoors.

Suffice to say, the meeting between our ex-lovers went rather badly. Buffy was stunned by his condition and hid it poorly. Allowances must be made for the girl- she has just lost her mother, after all, but really, I don't think it was quite necessary for her to corner me and demand to know why I "allowed this to happen." There are many things that girl will never understand, coddled as she's been by Rupert Giles into such a bloody basic understanding of black and white, cause and effect, good and evil.

Charles drove us straight back here, to my apartment, and just shook his head when I asked him to take Angel home. He told me to clean out the second room and keep Angel there from now on, and I suppose in hindsight I can see his point. Leaving him without supervision becomes more problematic by the day, as each day sees a loss of a few more moments of lucidity.

My books and weapons have been moved to a corner of the living room, and we've explained to Angel that this is a home, not a prison...though truthfully at the moment he seems rather indifferent. Tomorrow we'll go back to his apartment and move any things he desires over here, as well as cancelling his lease on the building. Letting the office go won't change much. Clients in our line of work will be just as willing to come to an apartment as there.

But it does feel like we're letting another tie to the workaday "real world" slip away through our hands...

(Summer 2001)
I agree that it's a pity we haven't been able to find anything on the girl from Angel's vision last month, the one who vanished from the library, but really, I wish he would let it go already. Being sent out on repeats of visions from two years ago is annoying enough, not to mention deaths from two hundred years ago, but reruns of a vision we never even got a start on...that's just the limit.

We've had a visit from Willow Rosenberg. Buffy has died- saving the world, of course. I have no idea how to tell him. Perhaps it would be best if I simply didn't tell him at all?

(Summer 2001)
Charles has given up the lease on his apartment and committed to sleeping on my couch full-time. It does save time and money, and it's nice to have someone around to talk to in complete sentences. Also good to have him around for feeding time, and when it becomes necessary to use the shackles. We're giving in and installing a deadbolt tomorrow.

I must stop here, as it's really rather difficult to hold an ice pack on one's head and write at the same time when one only has one arm.


(Fall 2001)
She's alive. She left here only an hour ago, and it was a rather strange meeting all around, since I never did tell him she had died.

I'm not sure what passed between them in his room- she closed the door behind her, and telling a Slayer to watch out for herself seemed rather foolish, so I didn't. Whatever was said, it was said quietly.

What was said to me, however, was not quiet at all. Charles was rather impressed with her nerve, if not her manners.

"Why didn't you tell us?" she screamed at me, knocking priceless antiques off my shelves. "We could've done something!"

"You can't thwart the will of the Powers That Be," I tried to explain. She laughed at me, a more bitter sound than I once would have thought her capable of.

"Of course you can. Willow practically makes a hobby out of it," she said, and then she stormed out the door. I don't imagine we'll see her again.

(Winter 2002)
He's a man made of glass, now; glass that's riddled with hairline cracks and fractures. Hit by a stone, perhaps. And every day I watch him fragment further, another shard of glass falling away. He's being pared down to an essential core, I sometimes feel, and that core is something wild and wounded, suffering and yet somehow beautiful.

Charles agrees that it's tragic, but he doesn't really grasp how far Angel has fallen. He didn't see the warrior-lover of Sunnydale, who would walk through fire for his Lady Fair. Oh, Charles never saw Angel as he was...

Some nights, after Charles is asleep, I take down the key and slip in there with him. I enter the cell, the holy place of visions and tears and pain. I sit with him or lie beside him on his ragged mattress. I hold him when he cries and begs forgiveness from shadows I can't see, I shield him with my body when he attempts to harm his own. I listen to his frightened, fractured ramblings and try to find replies that will soothe him. So far, he's never attacked me on these nights. I would stand little chance if he did. If Charles knew of this, he'd call me a fool.

And perhaps I am, but I remember the majestic beauty of the hero before he was broken, before the stone was thrown that found the secret flaw and sent out the spiderweb of cracks and fissures. As each shard flakes free and falls away, I try to catch it with my heart, so I might rebuild him in my memory.

(Winter 2002)
Charles is looking up the address from the latest vision. 171 Oak Street. He thinks it's in Reseda, but always better to double-check.

There was a particular violence and intensity to this one. I think perhaps this vision involves something momentous. Charles would say it's crazy, but I can't shake the feeling that somehow, everything's about to change...

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