Exaggeration and Blank Verse
On The Evening Of The End Of Days
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

When I left the shelter, I went to church.

I don't really know why; I was never exactly the religious type, and these last few years of experience with the Powers That Screw You haven't helped. I guess if I figured anything, it was that whatever Power these people were looking to, it must've taken an interest in humanity at some point to get the whole story started. Maybe it would take some pity on me.

So here I am.

It's quiet in the church, empty. I take a seat and go back and forth between thinking and trying not to think.

It's all going to come to nothing- Angel's big plan, Cordy's last vision, Fred's sacrifice and my attempt at atonement. It's all going to burn down to ashes, this very night. We're going out in flames. Maybe even another rain of fire, if the Black Thorn gets pissy enough.

That reminds me of last year, of the birth of the Beast, of Wesley pulling me to safety and Wesley's face today. I close my eyes.

Even if by some miracle we don't burn up tonight, Wesley won't see morning. He can't. There's going to be some price paid, for Angel's pride and our stupidity, and the world always kills the idealists first.

Lord, Wes would hate it if he knew I called him that. He sees himself as the steely-eyed realist. He's an educated man; he's read all about history and human folly; he doesn't have any illusions.

To which I say: Bullshit, English. Of this whole crew, you've always been the dreamer.

Wes believes in heroes, in white knights, that good triumphs in the end and that love can save your soul. Even last year, when he was all dark and broody and sleeping with evil, it was all part of the same script. He fell from grace, he had to be punished. I remember, back when I first joined the crew and Angel was all turned around over Darla, Cordy and Wes and I went out to dinner. He talked about traditions of redemption, and said that atonement through good works was a new idea, replacing atonement through suffering.

In addition to being an idealist, Wes is a traditionalist. No good works for him, just cleansing agony.

I rub at my chest over my heart, where the scars aren't.

Another fairy-tale tradition: when the hero loses his Lady Fair, he has to follow her down to the grave. All that Romeo and Juliet crap. Damn it, Wes.

How many times did I tell him, chasing monsters around town back in the day? "You've gotta quit being such a damn romantic, English, it's gonna get you killed." And he'd laugh and tell me that he didn't have any illusions about good and evil, that he knew about shades of gray.

Bullshit again, Wes.

I've never been anything but a realist. Couldn't be, growing up the way I did. Watching your parents die, your sister get hungry, the vampires come and go...nobody told me hero stories. Maybe Wes got both of our shares.

I picture his face again, that look he gave Angel. The light in his eyes. His favorite part of the story, the man who loves so much he gives his life for his friend. He dies for the hero, carries his loyalty and his faith right down into his coffin. Wesley believes in all that crap. Always has.

That kind of person can't last, in this world. Not as it is. Maybe in the world that should be, but we ain't there yet. So Wesley will die tonight.

I open my eyes and look up at the stained-glass windows, where God's supposed to be.

The Powers had better give Wes a free pass right on to the other side, where Cordy and Fred are waiting with books and flowers and single-malt whiskey. They owe him that much, for setting up these damn rules that are killing him. The ones that say the dreamers have to die.

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