Someone He Loves

He has always been hated by those he loves. Wesley has always been aware of this, though for years he deluded himself as to the effects, and to the extent of the far-ranging fact that yes, in indeed, he has been hated by those he loves.

As a child, it seemed natural. He had no idea parents were supposed to cosset their children, or speak words of affection or even touch them except in reprimand or reasonless desecration. It was not until he went away to school that he heard about other sorts of parents from boys who loved their parents as he did, but whose parents seemed to love their children back.

He struggled with this inconsistency for much of his adolescence until finally deciding that he did not know why his parents were different, and perhaps never would. There were more important things in his life, he told himself, and he set aside the confusion when he was sixteen year old and devoted himself to other pursuits.

One such pursuit had been a boy named Gerald. Gerald had been a sixth form student, and a favorite of the Headmaster. Gerald most certainly had not been a favorite of the other students, though no one could summon much to say about him in front of any of the teachers, or the Head Boys. Wesley only knew that no one seemed to care for Gerald and that Gerald seemed to be everything Wesley's father expected Wesley to be.

There was one exception to this, which Wesley was fairly sure his father never discovered. Perhaps because that sort of thing was expected at a traditional strict English boarding school where teenage boys had only two physical outlets. There were no sports -- the Watchers' Academy focused its activity on training of a hundred different sorts, and even the fencing teams were only formed to allow the boys to practise their skills with weapons.

The second outlet was conducted in, as it was hoped by all who indulged, utmost secrecy. Since Wesley had never been reprimanded by his father for his dalliance with Gerald, or, later, Marcus and Steven, he assumed that he had managed that secrecy.

Or that his father simply hadn't cared.

But Gerald had been the first time someone outside his immediate family had hated him. They had been whatever they had been, for almost a year, and Wesley had hoped that Gerald's favour would extend to dropping a supportive word or two in the Headmaster's ear. Wesley had meant to be Head Boy in his time, and *anything* that could guarantee it, and therefore guarantee his father's favor, was considered acceptable.

Gerald had even done so before he'd found out that had been Wesley's intention. The resulting break-up had been nasty enough that Wesley was surprised that the entire school hadn't been told about it, simply in order to shame him. Wesley hadn't been able to explain that it was only part of his reason for wanting Gerald to like him. Gerald hadn't wanted to listen, and whatever affection the young Wesley had felt for the other boy hadn't, in the end, mattered.

His other affairs in school hadn't been involved love. He had been too busy with schoolwork, and then in his work for the Watchers, to bother with things like loving anyone. He had met a girl, and dated her for a few months, but he suspected it was more because his mother had suggested that it would be a Good Thing. Anne's family was an old Watcher family and Wesley had been able to detect the match-making from miles away.

They'd given it a try, though, before parting amicably. No love, there, and no hatred afterwards.

The pattern had faded from his awareness as he'd grown more focused on his work. Forgotten about it entirely until now, standing in his flat on a cold -- for California -- Los Angeles night, staring out the window at nothing and remembering.

Everyone he loves, hates him.

It's easy to understand some of them. He's given them good reason to hate him, and he does not blame them for it. He doesn't understand it well, because he'd always thought that love meant more than that. Anger, he would have accepted and agreed with. repented until the anger faded, if only given a chance. Hatred...he can only explain with the revelation that it was how his life simply was.

Perhaps he's been cursed. A child in his crib, witches leaning over him whispering things about his future that his nurse had not over-heard. Or perhaps she had been the witch, casting spells to ensure that the babe would grow up to find his love always eventually spurned with hatred.

Melodramatic, perhaps, but too much of his life has been lived in the dramatic, the supernatural, and the simply odd, that he cannot find reason to doubt that he has been cursed - other than not knowing *why* it would be. His name has never been in any of the prophecies he'd ever read, and, given his past involvement with Angel, he'd have thought that if it were important, he would have come across a reference to 'keep an eye out for the ex-watcher who teams up with him and tries to help him be Good.'

He hasn't, and he decides now that he isn't that important. Anyone cursing him at birth might have simply been doing it to practise their spells. Or, also likely, is the fact that Wesley just hasn't the skill to make anyone keep loving him.

Except it seems confined to those whom he has loved which sounds more like a curse than incompetency.

Virginia doesn't hate him, but he never loved her. Not really. He'd been grateful for her company, and enjoyed dating her immensely. He'd even thought perhaps this was a woman he could take home and introduce to his parents, and get that approving nod from his mother that this would be an acceptable one to carry the next generation of Wyndham-Pryces.

Not fair to Virginia, but he'd never spoken of things like 'marriage' to her anyhow.

Angel's hatred is easy to understand. Angel, to whom Wesley attached all his need for... well, for everything, had the best reason of any of them to hate him. He'd thought, once, as he'd carried Angel's son away, that someday Angel would understand why it had been done, and thank him for the sacrifice he'd made. Thank him for making the decision so Angel would not have to, and protecting the one thing Angel loved most in the world.

The only thing Angel loved, and Wesley wonders if that were part of the pattern. Had any of those who hated him, whom he'd loved, whom he still loved, ever loved him back? He doesn't know, and certainly can't ask now.

Cordelia's feelings are unknown. Had she loved him? Does she hate him, now? Or is she simply avoiding him so as not to cause pain for Angel? Is it to avoid endangering *him*, that she stays away?

Perhaps, like Anne, she simply doesn't care enough to bother with following up with him once he'd left.

He knows enough not to ask whether Fred or Lorne hates him. They barely knew him, barely considered themselves more than friends. He doubts they hate him, doubts they'd ever entertained the notion that Wesley could even be loved.

But Gunn is more difficult to answer. He dislikes thinking of Gunn. It hurts -- burns across his chest like a knife's blade -- that Gunn might hate him now, that whatever love he'd had would have been turned into something horrible and destroying.

Hard enough to think that, yes, Gunn had loved him that much once.

Perhaps, he tells himself, Gunn had considered him just a good friend. A mate, a member of his crew -- and once out of sight, it was out of mind. Perhaps the gestures of affection had only been because they were the only two in the group with anything to compare -- similar age, both human, neither of them subject to a need for blood or debilitating visions.

It is possible that Gunn had simply enjoyed his friendship because it was better than a woman he couldn't risk knowing, and a vampire he couldn't risk trying to understand.

He wants to think that Gunn hates him, now. Because that at least would mean that Gunn had loved him, even if not as much as Wesley had loved him. But something -- anything, some measure of love greater than age, gender, and species -- is better than thinking he has faded from Gunn's mind like a stranger.

But he thinks it is time he got used to it. At least his current dalliance is in no risk of hatred. He cannot claim to feel anything like love, or even much like, for Lilah. He cannot explain to himself why he allows her inside his flat, or his life, except that she is the only person with whom he talks, and the only person who notices he is alive.

He isn't quite so desperate as to think this is enough, or good for him. But he isn't willing to give her up just because it's dangerous and stupid.

It's better than being hated by someone he loves, after all.