A Million Miles Away, Part 4:
Where the Heart Isby Wolfling and the Brat Queen
"Okay, so what is all this?" Angel asked. "I mean, I'm going along fi - well, not fine but okay enough. Sleeping's getting better, starting to get the hang of where things are, slowly filling the place up with new stuff - all good things, right? And me'n Wes are doing okay. Maybe not great yet, but okay. Like the old days, you know? But then - " Angel made a helpless gesture, trying to indicate all of the strangeness that was the kiss he and Wes had shared. "I mean, what was that?"
Angel looked over at Connor. Connor happily looked back from his high chair, watching as Angel heated up a late night bottle of formula.
"You know, you're not helping," Angel told him. "A little advice wouldn't hurt right about now."
Connor waved his hands around. Angel smiled. He took the formula out of the pan, tested it, then brought it over to the chair, letting Connor feed from where he was. He snagged a chair with his free hand to sit beside his son.
"I mean, who knew Wes even liked guys?" Angel asked. "And it's sure as heck been a long while since I fu--um, since Daddy had a boyfriend. Actually, not since Daddy got the soul."
He paused, looking at Connor. "Do you think this means I'm going evil again?"
Connor looked back at him trustingly.
"No, no, you're right," Angel agreed. "That's stupid. Okay, soul still in place, that's good. Wes... still in the house, that's good. Daddy... losing his mind, not so good."
Angel sighed, leaning back in his chair. "I'm not looking for a relationship, Connor. I know they say two parents are better than one but you and I are doing okay. And Wes is your godfather, that kinda counts, right? But when I asked him to do that I wasn't thinking, well, that. I was thinking I trusted him. And he's good for you. And he's probably the closest friend I've had in a long time and - look, would you quit looking at me like that? It doesn't necessarily mean anything."
Angel shifted the bottle's position, helping Connor avoid the air bubbles. "Now Cordy - that was something different. We'd worked together, she knew my good and bad, she was good with you, I trusted her and - and there was the Fred thing."
Connor's eyebrows raised.
"Before your time," Angel explained. "Aunt Fred told me about this Pylean thing where two warriors meet up and - it's not important. It's just - I thought she meant me and Cordy. It made sense to be me and Cordy. I didn't think she meant me and Wes. No - I don't think it. Because it's not happening. Wes is a friend, he's a good friend, and there's going to be no more of that kissy stuff. Right?"
Connor continued to drink.
Wesley stared at the ceiling in his darkened room, disturbingly and annoyingly wide awake.
Sleep had been an elusive state for the better part of a week now, ever since The Kiss.
He hated that he even thought of it with such emphasis, hated that he couldn't accept it as just something that had happened, and let it go.
Maybe he could have done that if he wasn't so completely and totally in love with Angel.
Wesley sighed and rolled over, staring at the bedside clock instead of the ceiling for a while.
He'd been content, happy even, having come to terms with his feelings and the fact that they were always going to be unrequited, satisfied with the closeness of the friendship they did share. He'd never been lucky in love anyway; maybe it was better this way.
Then the contrary git had to go and kiss him and leave Wesley not knowing which way was up anymore.
Ever since, Wesley had felt like he was walking on egg shells; not knowing if The Kiss was a mistake or something more, not even knowing which option he was hoping was true.
The lack of sleep wasn't helping either, but every time he closed his eyes, The Kiss replayed over and over in his mind and he was unable to think of anything else or get his body to relax enough to drift off.
Especially certain portions of his body.
If he didn't deal with this soon, he was going to end up in roughly the same state he'd been in when they'd fled LA and considering what he had almost done then, this most definitely was not a good thing.
Sighing again, Wesley turned on the bedside lamp and sat up. Maybe a glass of something warm to drink would help. If not, he'd have to start considering medication.
He put on his robe and headed downstairs.
As he drew near the kitchen he heard Angel's voice. Blast. Was it time for one of Connor's feedings?
Wesley turned, hoping to go back upstairs before he was noticed, but there was the sound of creaking floorboards and Angel appeared in the doorway, looking after him.
Pasting on a smile he really didn't feel, Wesley turned back around. "I was just going to get something to drink..."
Angel tried on one of his expressions that halfway made him look like an overeager puppy. A large, clumsy, sometimes deadly, overeager puppy. "Connor didn't finish all his formula. Sure he wouldn't mind if you grabbed the rest."
Wesley felt his smile grow more genuine for a brief second. "I think I will stick to tea, thank you all the same."
Angel nodded, then seemed to remember that he was standing in between Wesley and the kettle. "Tea's good. I could boil the water for you?"
"I've got it," Wesley said quickly, unsure how exactly to take offers of assistance from Angel just now. "You're busy with Connor."
"Oh. Okay." Angel seemed to fade somewhat as he pulled back from the doorway. He moved into the kitchen, lifting Connor out of his high chair and moving him to his shoulder so he could pat his back. "Did - did we wake you?"
Wesley busied himself filling the kettle and putting it on the stove. "I wasn't asleep."
"Oh," Angel said again. He seemed to be struggling to find something to say. Or at least he seemed to struggle more than he usually did. "Connor slept pretty well. You know, until he got hungry."
"That's good." Wesley stared at the kettle, hating this sudden awkwardness between them and searching for something to say himself.
"Weather's supposed to be nice tomorrow," Angel said. "You could take him for a walk. You know, in the sun?"
Angel looked downcast. "You don't - you don't have to."
"No, I'll take him," Wesley replied, trying to work more life into his voice. "It'll give him a chance to try out those baby sunglasses you bought for him." The kettle started to boil and he took it off the element, pouring the water into his cup with the tea leaves.
"He comes from a family with a bit of a sun allergy," Angel reminded him. "And not like UV rays are picnics for mortals either. I've read stuff. I know all about it." Angel's face softened as he looked down at his son. "Plus he looked so cute."
Wesley took in the scene before him and felt a familiar ache in his heart. He loved both of them so much...and not knowing where he stood was driving him slowly crazy.
Suddenly he needed to get out of there. Picking up his cup of tea, he started heading for the door. "I'll be upstairs."
"Wes, wait," Angel moved as though to stop him, or perhaps simply follow. "Can't we talk?"
Wesley stopped but didn't look around. "Talk about what?" he asked softly.
"Anything," Angel said, his voice sounding helpless. Then, softer and more uncertain, he added, "It."
Wesley's heart fluttered. "What is there to say?" he asked in the same soft voice.
"There's gotta be something," Angel said. He came closer, but not into view. "You've barely talked to me since it happened. Wes, I didn't mean to - I don't even know what I was doing. I'm sorry. If I've hurt you so bad... You have to know I don't want to do that. Hurt you."
"I know," he admitted. He turned his head but still couldn't quite bring himself to look fully back. "Why?"
"Because we're friends?" Angel replied, clearly uncertain that this was the right answer.
"No. Why did you kiss me?"
There was a slight hesitation. "I don't know."
Wesley did turn around then. "You don't know? You just go around randomly kissing men?"
Angel gave him a dry look. "Yes, Wesley. I randomly go around and kiss guys. Actually, that's why Buffy and I broke up. Too many hobbies in common."
"This isn't funny!" Wesley shot back, some of his frustration starting to leak out around the edges.
Angel had the decency to look chastened. "Sorry. I'm not trying to make fun, Wes. I'm trying to be honest. I don't know why I kissed you. One minute we were talking and the next..." Angel trailed off, his eyes moving down Wesley's face and clearly filling in the rest of the sentence for him.
"The next you're shaking up my entire world," Wesley breathed, barely audible.
Angel looked taken aback, yet proud. "That was - I was world-shaking?"
Wesley stared at him. "You can't seriously not know that."
"Well I don't think I'm bad at it or anything," Angel replied, "but I'm kind of what you might call out of practice. It's not like I've got a date every Friday night like some people in the room used to do."
"What do you want from me?" Wesley blurted.
"I don't know," Angel said, grimacing in frustration. "Stay. That's what I want. Don't go anywhere. Don't leave."
"What?" The plea startled Wesley and he took a step forward. "You really think I'd-- Angel I promise you, I'm not going anywhere."
"Just back to your room," Angel said. "Where I hardly see you."
"I haven't been-" Wesley began, but stopped when he realised he had been hiding. "I'm sorry."
"Me too," Angel said. "That you need to hide from me, I mean. Not about - I - I don't know if I'm sorry about... the other thing."
Wesley sighed and moved back over to sit at the table. "That's the problem."
Angel came over to join him, sitting down across from him. "I should be sorry?"
He looked sideways at the vampire. "You should know if you want to be."
"What do you want me to say, Wes?" Angel asked. His eyes were dark and thoughtful. "You know how I feel - how I've been feeling, these days. You were always the one I talked to. I thought I had feelings for Cordy. I thought you and I were friends. I wasn't planning on touching you or anything but..."
Angel trailed off, looking at nothing in particular for so long that Wesley thought it was his turn to speak. Before he could, however, Angel glanced back again.
"I kinda liked it," the vampire admitted.
"'Kinda'?" Wesley repeated, then opened up enough to admit, "I need to know, Angel. This...isn't just playing for me."
"You think it's a game to me?" Angel asked. He looked hurt. "Wes - how many people do you think I kiss ever? Well - since the soul, anyway. I'm not that kind of guy. I'd think you of all people would know that."
"There's a lot of room still between a game and true love. Where are you falling?"
"I don't play games, Wesley," Angel told him. "I may not know what I'm doing here, but I can tell you that much."
Wesley thought that over, then nodded, accepting it. He hesitated, but if he was demanding honesty from Angel, he should offer the same. "You wanted to know why I didn't want to date. The answer is you."
Angel shook his head as though to deny this, but remained silent, letting Wesley continue.
"I asked you where you fell on the spectrum between games and true love; for me the answer is far closer to the latter than may make you comfortable."
Angel studied Wesley for a long moment. "You're in love with me?"
Wesley nodded, glancing at Angel then away. "I can't believe I've been that good at hiding it."
Angel continued to look bewildered. "The part where you were panting after Fred was a really good cover."
"I didn't throw it all away for Fred," Wesley reminded him.
"But I thought..." Angel looked down at Connor, who was half asleep in his arms. The expression in the vampire's eyes made it clear that to him, love for Connor alone was enough to abandon everything.
"For Connor too," Wesley confirmed quietly. "But all I could think of when I translated that damned prophecy was how it would destroy you."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Angel asked, his voice just as soft.
"About my feelings?" Wesley shrugged, staring down at the table top. "Cordy, for one."
Angel opened his mouth as though to protest, then merely nodded in agreement. "How long?" he asked instead.
"Since you defended me to the ethros demon," Wesley replied, remembering the rush of feelings at Angel's words back then.
A frown creased Angel's face. Wesley could almost see the memories flash through Angel's eyes as he tried to figure out how much time had passed.
"That long?" Angel asked. He searched Wesley's face. "You - Wes why didn't you tell me?"
"So you could laugh in my face? Or worse, try to let me down easy?" He shook his head. "I'm not that much of a masochist."
"I might not have let you down," Angel said. He didn't look certain of the answer, though. "I definitely wouldn't have laughed. When have I ever laughed at you, Wes?"
"Everybody else has at one time or another." He paused, his voice much softer when he continued. "Angelus did."
Angel winced. "I'm sorry," he said automatically. His hand went to cradle Connor's head; Wesley realized Angel was comforting himself as much as the child.
"It's all right," Wesley said truthfully. "It was a long time ago."
"I still hurt you," Angel said. "I'm sorry."
"Apology accepted." It seemed to be what Angel needed to hear, and Wesley was well practiced in doing what Angel needed him to.
"I've never thought of you like this, Wes," Angel said. He had a hard time meeting Wesley's eyes. "You've always been... you."
"And who am I now?"
"I don't know," Angel admitted. He gave a sheepish smile. "I keep trying to think of you as just Wes and it's not working."
Wesley felt like pulling in on himself, but managed to resist the urge. Instead, he gave Angel a brittle smile. "And that is why I never told you before."
Angel looked at him curiously. "Wes... what do you think I just said?"
"That you don't know who I am anymore. That I'm not Wesley to you anymore."
"Wes - no," Angel said. He leaned forward, reaching a hand across the table. "That's not what I'm saying. What I mean is - I keep trying to think of you the old way and I can't. Because - because I don't kiss friends like that."
Wesley looked up and met Angel's eyes, searching for... he wasn't sure what. Hope?
"I don't know why I did it, Wes," Angel said, "but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. That - that I wouldn't mind... You know I am just not good at conversations like this."
"Neither am I," Wesley said, then smiled slightly. "You're doing fine."
"Sure you don't want me to hit something for you?" Angel asked, a light of hope dancing in his eyes. "I'm good at that."
"Yes, you are." He paused and then added, softly, "Not so bad at kissing either."
A smile hinted at the corners of Angel's mouth. "Really?"
"Like you didn't know. World-shattering, remember?"
"Throw me a bone, Wes," Angel said, a teasing look in his eyes removing any sting from the words. "Last person I spent any big touching time with resulted in the guy drooling on my arm. I'm out of practice."
"Last time I spent any big touching time with was...right about the same time." Wesley frowned, trying to figure out dates. "Maybe even the same night."
"Not since Virginia?" Angel asked, incredulous.
Wesley raised an eyebrow. "You're the one with the super senses. Did you smell anyone else on me since then?"
"I was in Tibet for three months!" Angel shot back. "You could've been busy."
"I was," Wesley replied mildly. "Running your Agency."
"Wait a minute," Angel said, frowning. "You dated Virginia."
"Yes," Wesley answered. "You knew that."
"While you were - " Angel made a vague gesture that could have meant 'in love' but just as easily could have meant 'making a sandwich' "with me, you were dating her?"
Wesley raised an eyebrow. "So I was supposed to just pine away for someone I didn't have a chance with?"
"I'm not saying you're supposed to pine away," Angel said. "Remember me? The guy trying to get you to date that redhead the other night? I'm just saying - you really had feelings for me?" The words, though seeming challenging, took on an almost wistful tone as Angel spoke them.
"Yes," Wesley answered, reaching across the table automatically to touch Angel's hand. Yes, there was definitely hope there.
Looking as though he were only just beginning to comprehend, Angel softly asked, "You love me?"
Wesley nodded, then smiled slightly. "You have been listening, haven't you?"
"Every third word," Angel shot back without missing a beat. His eyes, however, were intent on Wesley's. "Seriously? Not - not like that 'the world's ending so we're just saying this' way?"
"The world's not ending," Wesley pointed out.
Angel's fingertips traced random patterns on the back of Wesley's hand. "I noticed that."
Wesley could feel his heart beating faster at the light caress. "Well then."
Angel's touch moved - perhaps unconsciously - to Wesley's pulse. "You know," Angel said, looking at Wesley as though for the first time, "I've never done this before."
"Slow," Angel replied. "I've never tried anything slow before. I thought maybe with Cordy but... this is different."
Wesley blinked. "Does this mean that you want to..." He trailed off not sure exactly how to finish that sentence.
"Yeah," Angel said, as though realizing it himself as the words were spoken. "I think I do. Want to."
This couldn't be real. "I've stared at the clock too long and fallen asleep, haven't I?"
"There's no clock in this room," Angel pointed out.
"I mean the one in my room." He paused, the words sinking in. "We're really going to try this?" he asked.
Angel glanced down at Connor, as though the sleeping child might offer an opinion. "I think... I'd like to," Angel said, speaking the words carefully.
Wesley was suddenly exhilerated -- and terrified. "This will change everything."
"Because we're so stuck in the mud lately?"
"Some things have remained constant."
"Yeah," Angel agreed. "Us."
"This could change that," Wesley warned. "It will change that, no matter how it turns out."
"You're still holding my hand."
Wesley blinked and looked down at their clasped hands. "So I am." He didn't make any move to let go however.
Angel gave him a small smile. "So... doesn't look like you want this to stop."
"I don't think I could stop now," Wesley admitted, thinking of the last five nights spent staring at the ceiling instead of sleeping. "I'm still terrified though."
"Of me?" Angel asked.
"Of things changing." He swallowed and looked down at their hands again. "Of losing what I already have."
"I get that," Angel said quietly and something in his voice told Wesley that yes, in fact, he did.
Wesley met his friend's gaze again and managed a ghost of a smile. "Just a couple of cowards, you said?"
That got a grin out of Angel. "Yeah. I said something like that."
"Are we brave enough to do this?"
"Brave enough to come this far," Angel pointed out. He paused, then added, "You were brave enough to stand up to me. More than once."
Wesley shrugged. "I did what I had to do." There hadn't been any other choice.
Angel tugged on Wesley's hand to draw his attention. "You were brave enough to trust me," Angel reminded him.
"I know you," Wesley replied. "I love you." There hadn't been any other choice there either.
Angel blinked, looking away as his eyes filled with emotion. He didn't remove his hand, however. If anything, he held Wesley's a little tighter.
"Been a long while since anyone said that to me," Angel told him.
"Then I'm glad I said it."
Maybe, just maybe, this was going to work out after all. If his feelings could mean that much to Angel, he'd give them. He could live with that being enough.
A smile snuck its way across Angel's lips. "So since when do you like guys?"
"Since when do you?" Wesley shot back.
"I had a life before I met you," Angel pointed out.
"And I could say the same."
Angel shifted his hand inside of Wesley's to indicate himself. "Soulless evil vampire - " he then indicated Wesley " - squeaky clean Watcher. Which one surprises you had the odd - " again Angel's eyes flickered down towards the sleeping baby " - boyfriend, now and then?"
"I wasn't that squeaky clean," Wesley protested. "A bit of a prat, yes, granted, but not squeaky clean."
"Look unless you lost your soul, Wes, I'm really gonna win this game of poker," Angel told him, grinning.
"Fine. You were the most evil," he said in his driest voice. "I concede the point."
"Will you kiss me again?" There was a pause, then Angel ducked his head slightly. "Um - that wasn't related. I was just thinking... could be a start. To this thing. If we're doing it."
"It could be." Wesley looked up at Angel, his heart beating faster as he made the decision and leaned over, pressing his lips against Angel's.
Angel made a soft sound. He sat up, helping to close the distance between them as their lips danced together. It was a different kiss. Skittish and shy. But still, for all that, warm.
It was different too because this time it had been a conscious decision; Wesley'd deliberately allowed this, where before it had just happened.
He pulled back after a moment, and smiled at Angel, not finding it within himself to be worried or scared in that second.
Angel's eyes were hazy for a moment. The vampire absent-mindedly licked his lips, then blinked, focusing. "That was... nice."
"Yes," Wesley agreed, while simultaneously thinking that nice was the very eptiome of an understatement. "Quite."
A hint of a smile twitched on Angel's lips. Eagerness gleamed in his eyes. "So this - this could be a thing?"
He nodded. "Better a thing than the elephant in the corner."
Angel's gaze moved uncertainly to the north-east corner of the room.
Wesley chuckled, feeling a sudden wave of affection for the sometimes literal minded vampire. "It's a metaphor," he explained. "For ignoring the huge issue that we both know is there."
A light of recognition dawned, then was quickly hidden on Angel's face. "I knew that."
"Of course you did," Wesley said, unable to keep from smiling.
Angel watched him closely. "That's nice."
"What -- that you knew the elephant was a metaphor?"
Angel chuckled. "No. The smile. Feels like you haven't done that for a while."
"Does it?" Wesley thought back over the last week. "I guess maybe I haven't smiled very much since..."
"LA," Angel told him.
"You haven't smiled much since LA," Angel said. "Not that I noticed, anyway."
"Really? I would've thought the opposite was true," Wesley said, remembering the despair and responsibility closing in that had weighed him down and kept him sleepless in the last days before they'd left.
Angel gave a wry smile. "Not saying you were in danger of losing your soul before we left either. I - I've been worried about you, Wes."
Wesley wasn't quite sure how to react to that. "My telling you repeatedly that I'm happier here than I've been in a long time made you worry about me?"
Angel looked less certain. "Seemed like you were fibbing."
"Perhaps I wasn't being entirely forthright," he admitted. "My feelings... I didn't want to make things awkward between us."
"Can't imagine how that would happen," Angel deadpanned.
"Yes, well..." Wesley shrugged and lowered his eyes. "Sometimes the risk is too high."
Angel glanced down at the child in his arms. "Sometimes the rewards are worth it."
"And that's what I didn't want to risk," he replied quietly, watching Connor as well.
Angel looked back at him curiously. "You thought you would lose Connor?"
"I thought I would lose both of you." Wesley's voice was a bare whisper as he spoke his greatest fear.
Angel's eyes became searching, more intense. "You really love him that much, huh?"
Wesley nodded, looking at Connor because he couldn't meet Angel's gaze just then. "Both of you," he repeated softly. "You're... my family."
Angel reached over, brushing a hand against Wesley's cheek. "You're mine too, Wes."
He closed his eyes, leaning into the touch. "Whatever else I might wish for, that's enough."
Angel's hand lingered. "I get that. Believe me."
"As long as that's understood, and we don't let that change..." He opened his eyes and met Angel's gaze, trying not to hide anything anymore.
Angel seemed taken aback by what he saw there. "Wow," he said softly.
Wesley felt the heat of a blush creep over his face. "Wow?" he asked just as softly.
"Yeah," Angel said. His hand moved up, caressing Wesley's cheek with an impossible warmth. "I - I could be out of my league, here."
"If you don't want to do this-" Wesley quickly stammered, feeling his stomach drop at Angel's words.
"Hey," Angel said, drawing Wesley's gaze up to meet his. "I didn't say that. I'm just saying... I don't get this with many people. In fact so far two. Doesn't mean I don't like it."
Greatly daring, Wesley leaned in and kissed Angel again.
There was a sound of surprise, but then Angel responded, kissing Wesley with a boldness that he'd lacked before. His touch remained shy and uncertain, but he seemed eager to continue in spite of it.
When they parted, Wesley found himself smiling again. "It can definitely be a thing."
Angel's smile was bright and breathtaking, and Wesley reflected that if Angel's words were true, then Wesley wasn't the only one who hadn't smiled nearly often enough of late.
Much to his chagrin Wesley found himself yawning right in Angel's face. "Sorry. I-"
"That's okay, I know I'm out of practice," Angel said, his expression so casual that for a moment Wesley nearly took him seriously.
"I haven't been sleeping," he admitted, after he shot Angel a stern look.
"Don't think any of us have," Angel said. Connor shifted in his arms, eliciting a tender smile from his father. "Except him."
"The sleep of the innocent," Wesley said, watching the baby for a moment. "You should put him to bed."
"I should," Angel agreed. He glanced at Wes uncertainly. "You'll be here when I get back?"
"No," he replied, holding the serious expression long enough for Angel's eyes to widen before he smiled. "I'll be over on the couch."
The relief that flashed through Angel's eyes was almost enough to make Wesley feel sorry for the joke. "Okay. Couch. I can handle that. I'll be right back."
"I'll be waiting," Wesley promised. He watched Angel get up and head upstairs, then took his cup of tea over into the living room, sinking down onto the sofa with a weary sigh.
Leaning against the back, he brought a hand up to brush against his lips and smiled, still able to feel Angel's mouth against his.
All of the sleepless nights were worth it, if this was what it led to.
Wesley came awake slowly, to the sound of someone moving nearby and the smell of cooking. He opened his eyes when he heard something being put down on a table near his head.
He found himself stretched out on the couch in the living room, a blanket covering him. It was morning and he blinked at the sunlight that filtered through the closed curtains. Turning his head, he saw a mug of coffee sitting on the coffeetable beside him.
Beyond that he could see Connor happily playing in the playpen in the middle of the living room, and he could hear someone moving about in the kitchen. Angel.
Slowly he sat up, reaching for the coffee, closing his eyes and savouring the scent for a moment before drinking.
As the hot liquid slid down his throat, he took stock of mind and body. Wesley found that he felt...good, despite a night spent on the couch. He'd finally gotten the sleep he'd been desperately needing and that, along with the memories of the talk Angel and he had the night before, made for a very good morning indeed.
Though, considering he fell asleep while waiting for Angel, he probably owed an apology.
Taking another sip of the coffee, Wesley got up and headed into the kitchen.
Angel was inside, quietly yet intensely working at something on the skillet in front of him. He glanced up when Wesley entered the room, and a smile creased his face.
"Hey - did I wake you?" he asked. "I was trying to keep it down."
For a moment Wesley was captivated by that smile, realising he hadn't seen Angel smile like that much since... well, ever, really. Aside from over Connor which was an entirely separate issue. "Not really," he replied, with the beginnings of a smile of his own. "I was ready to wake up anyway."
"Okay. Good. Good," Angel said, as though this decided something. He turned his attention back to the skillet, flipping pancakes over and only managing to splash a tiny bit of the uncooked batter around as he did. This done, he glanced back at Wesley. "Is the coffee good?"
"The very thing I needed to complete the return to consciousness," Wesley assured him. "Speaking of which, I'm sorry for falling asleep on you last night. Maybe I should have stayed at the table while I waited after all."
"So you could fall and hit your nose?" Angel asked. "Doesn't sound like much of a plan."
"I might've actually managed to stay awake. We were going to...talk some more." Wesley felt a slight blush heating his cheeks.
Angel flipped the pancakes onto a plate, then poured more batter into the pan. He gave Wes a smile that was amost shy. "We're still up for more talking?"
Wesley found himself smiling widely in return at the question. "Yes. Much...more talking."
"I like talking," Angel observed. He watched the pancakes bubble. "I was thinking I could even get good at it. If there was more talking."
"You were showing a remarkable natural talent for it last night," Wesley told him. "Talking, that is."
Angel glanced up, the look of pride in his eyes unmistakeable. "Really?"
"Really." He moved closer, hesitantly reaching out and laying a hand on Angel's arm. "That can't be the first time you've been told that?"
Now the look became serious. "Not... often. Not when it mattered."
The words and the look gave Wesley the courage to 'talk' some more and he leaned in and kissed Angel gently. "I like the way you talk," he murmured when he pulled back.
Angel made a soft sound of pleasure. "Not so bad yourself," he replied, the words clearly leaving him before he'd had a chance to think them over.
Wesley smiled again, knowing he was blushing even more. "Thank you."
They lingered close together, Angel's mouth close enough that Wesley thought that there might be another kiss, when suddenly Angel broke away.
"Cr-uh, bad!" Angel quickly aborted the swear about to come out of his mouth as he jerked the spatula in his hand and tossed the burning pancakes into the trash. "Sorry. Got - um - distracted. Guess you knew that."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Meant it like one," Angel said. He poured the last of the batter into the pan, putting the large measuring cup he was using into the sink once it was empty. "You're pretty distracting."
"I haven't noticed possessing that quality too often in the past," Wesley said, thinking that he more often faded into the background.
"I'm noticing it now," Angel said. He met Wesley's eyes for a moment, then went back to paying attention to the food. "You slept okay? Did I already ask you that?"
"I slept very well, thank you. I guess all I needed to cure my insomnia was a little...talking."
"I hear talking's good for that," Angel agreed. He turned the pancakes over and waited for them to finish. "Not that I've had much practice there either."
"I think that we may be able to do something about that," Wesley asked, while some part of him was amazed this was all going so well that he felt he could tease about it.
"I think I could be interested in that," Angel replied. He put the last of the pancakes onto a plate, then paused. "Um - we are talking about more than talking, right? I mean not that I don't like the conversations too but..."
Wesley chuckled. "Yes, Angel," he assured his friend, "we are talking about more than 'talking'."
"Good," Angel said. He picked up the plate of food, then fished silverware out of a drawer. "You gonna be okay with this? I thought about adding bacon but we didn't do that the first time so I wasn't sure if I should."
"The first time?" Wesley blinked, trying to remember a significant pankcake breakfast and coming up blank.
"Yeah," Angel said. He deposited what he was carrying on the diningroom table, then came back for a pitcher of juice. He gave Wesley a proud smile. "Remember? Your first breakfast. With me, anyway."
He frowned. "But the first breakfast..." he began, remembering the meal of scrambled eggs and toast Angel had made and invited him to stay for. But one look at Angel's face and he broke off, returning the smile instead. "I remember. Thank you. This is a really...sweet gesture."
"I'm trying to do this right," Angel said. He brought the juice into the other room, then motioned for Wesley to sit. "New beginnings, right? New chances? So - I'm gonna do this the right way if it kills me. Of course - not that I know what that is."
"If I wasn't already in love with you..." Wesley began, his heart in his eyes. Angel was taking this seriously. Angel wanted this as much as he did.
"Wow," Angel said. He fussed with plates and napkins, ducking his head. "Still not used to that. Not that it isn't - it's good, Wes. Honest. Just... still not used to it."
"I'm not used to being able to say it. So we're even."
"Strange, you know?" Angel said, sitting down. He poured himself a glass of juice, then turned it around absently in his fingers. "Having good stuff. You, Connor - I keep waiting for the demons to bust in the door."
"It's difficult to stop looking over your shoulder," Wesley agreed, settling in his seat and picking up his fork to start eating.
"Least I can protect you," Angel said, a tiny smile playing about his lips as though he were pleased with the idea.
"We can protect each other?" Wesley counter suggested, not wanting to deny the gesture but having his own protective instincts as well.
"Sounds like a plan," Angel said. "Hey - bet we could even start a business out of something like that." Angel tried to smile as though he were joking, but something in his eyes told Wesley that things weren't entirely right underneath.
"Still feeling restless?" he asked softly.
A flash of guilt went through Angel's eyes. "No?"
Angel sighed. "What am I supposed to say? I've got no right to be unhappy. I shouldn't be unhappy."
Wesley caught and held Angel's gaze. "You've a right to feel whatever you feel. And you feel unhappy."
"I feel like I've got no purpose," Angel said. He gestured to the house around them. "All this is thanks to you, Wes. What am I doing? Besides breakfast."
"You're raising Connor," Wesley replied, and held up a hand to forestall any comments while he continued on in a softer voice, "But if you need more, we'll find you more."
"I like raising him," Angel said. He looked over at his son, who was happily playing with a plush book. "I like knowing I'm always there for him. But - I don't feel like I'm doing enough."
"And my telling you that you are, isn't going to make a difference is it?"
"I wanna be useful," Angel said. "I was useful, back in LA."
"So we need to find something that makes you feel useful," Wesley said, taking another bite of the pancakes. "Get you a job as a cook maybe?" he asked, only half joking.
A smirk shaped Angel's lips. "I dunno - you tell me. Pancakes any good?"
"Pancakes are very good."
"Okay then," Angel said. "I could be a pancake cook. Long as you find me a restaurant that stocks up on those mixes."
"You make a mean omelet as well."
"True," Angel said. "Least - that's what I've been told. It's all squish and crunch to me."
Wesley smiled. "So food critic is off the list?"
Angel grinned back at him. "Dunno. Could be really popular with the restaurants anyway. Not like I can tell if it's bad."
"If you could do anything, what would you like to do?"
"Dunno," Angel said. He sat forward, continuing to fiddle with his glass. "Not like I ever thought about it. Not really. I mean, the mission - the good fight? That was my reason for being for years. Before that? I didn't have one. For centuries."
"What about your drawing?" Wesley suggested.
Angel glanced around, then reached for his sketchpad on a nearby shelf. "Which one?"
"Any of them. All of them. You've got real talent. I bet you could sell some of your artwork if you tried."
"Sell?" Angel said the word as though hearing it for the first time. He paged through his sketches. "You think there's a big market for pictures of you holding Connor?"
Wesley blinked. "Are they all of me holding Connor?"
"Well," Angel admitted slowly, "some of Connor by himself. I kinda stayed up last night."
"And I fell asleep on you," Wesley said ruefully.
"It's okay," Angel assured him. He put the sketchbook down on the table. "I needed to think. It helped."
"The thinking led to the pancake breakfast?" Wesley picked up the sketchbook and began thumbing through it.
"Yeah," Angel said. "I was thinking that if we were gonna do this, I wanted it to be good. Real. Not just some thing we did because nobody else was around."
Wesley looked up, stricken. "You don't think that's why I-"
"No!" Angel said hastily. "No - no. I don't. I just - I thought maybe you would think that's why I - I'm not doing this because I'm bored, Wes. Promise."
"I don't think that," Wesley reassured, though he had to admit to himself that the promise did ease some unspoken insecurities for him. "But thank you."
"I don't kid around about stuff like this," Angel said. "I know you probably know that already but - just in case."
"I do know that. But...it's still nice to hear."
Angel's smile was warm and familiar. "Good. Glad we're clear on that."
Wesley went back to flipping through the sketchbook, stopping when he came across a new sketch of himself, asleep.
Oblivious, Angel went back to his glass, actually taking a sip out of it this time. "'Course, I may need some hints here." Perhaps noticing that Wesley's attention was elsewhere, Angel glanced up. "What?"
"You did this last night?" Wesley asked, not taking his eyes off the picture, though he tilted the book enough for Angel to see it.
Angel sat up enough to look. "Oh. That. Yeah. Um - " he looked at Wes uncertainly. "Yes?"
"You were watching me sleep." For some reason Wesley's heart flipflopped at the thought.
Angel cleared his throat. His posture became that of one uncertain if he'd done something wrong. "Maybe?"
Wesley tore his eyes from the sketch long enough to look up at Angel. "It's all right."
"You sure?" Angel asked. "Sometimes when I draw it... freaks people."
"Only when you lock yourself in your room and draw the same thing over and over obsessively," Wesley replied dryly.
Angel cleared his throat again. "So all the pictures of Connor I did would be...?"
"That's different. I was talking about last year. With Darla."
"Oh," Angel said. "Didn't do that."
"I know. Since you're not upstairs locked in your room." Wesley gave a tiny smile. "You're down here making me breakfast."
"So - you don't mind?" Angel asked. "The picture?"
"Mind?" Wesley looked up again, this time in shock. "Angel, it's wonderful. I've never had anyone..."
"Really?" Angel looked surprised. "You've got a great face for it. Your cheeks have this angle to them..." Angel moved forward as though to trace the shape in question with his hands, then held back, remembering himself with a sheepish look. "Um - I mean - really?"
"Really." Then, finding himself leaning forward towards Angel, Wesley added, "Show me the angle you're talking about?"
Angel hesitated, then traced a fingertip from Wesley's right cheekbone down to his jaw. "That one," he said softly.
Wesley's eyes fluttered shut at the light touch. "It's good?" he asked throatily. "Artistically speaking?"
"It is," Angel said. His lips curled in a smile. "I liked drawing it. Especially this - " Angel fingered the light coating of stubble on Wesley's skin.
"Really? I always thought I looked rather disreputable when I haven't shaved." That didn't stop him leaning into the caress.
Angel cocked an eyebrow. "Who says looking disreputable isn't attractive?"
"That wasn't the kind of disreputable I thought I was," Wesley replied wryly.
Angel moved his hand to caress Wesley's cheek with the backs of his fingers. "I like this kind."
"I'm starting to get that impression."
Angel's hand lingered, then a sound from Connor's playpen drew his attention elsewhere. Angel moved to check on his son, giving Wesley a look of apology.
It took Wesley a moment to get his breath back when Angel moved away. "Is he all right?"
Angel picked Connor up, cradling him in his arms. "Yeah. I think somebody just wanted to join the conversation." A glint of humor lit Angel's eyes. "Especially since he doesn't need a diaper change."
"Perhaps he's just thinking about it?" Wesley smiled as he took in the sight of Angel and his son together, once again sparing a grateful thought that he was able to keep them that way.
"Was that it?" Angel asked Connor. "Or did you want to tell Uncle Wesley that you think he's nice-looking too?"
Wesley felt himself blushing again. "Angel-"
Connor fisted Angel's shirt, then began to suck on it. Wesley couldn't help but remember the days when Angel fussed over the tiniest stains on his favorite clothes - which was invariably all of them.
"He's young but he's not blind," Angel replied. He came back to the table and took his chair again. "And he does speak highly of you."
"Oh does he?" Wesley resumed eating. "What does he say?"
"He says he thinks you'd be good for me," Angel replied.
Wesley smiled. "Will I?"
"That's what he thinks," Angel said, shrugging as though to disclaim responsibility for the statement. "Gotta admit he's got a point though. Look at all you've done so far."
Wesley shook his head. "Not just me. We've done it together."
Angel gave a half-grin. "Kinda the point there, Wes. Together."
"Yes." He found himself smiling again. "I guess it is."
Wesley started to open the door to the house only to have it taken out of his hand, finding himself face to face with Angel instead of the door.
"What are you doing home?" Angel asked, barring the way.
"I live here?" Wesley answered slowly. He gestured at Connor, secure in his snugglie carrier. "So does he."
Angel gave a brief chuckle. "Funny. I meant what are you doing home now?" A look of worry crossed his face. "Is Connor okay?"
"He's fine," Wesley was quick to reassure him. "Just could use his nappies changed, which is far easier to do here than in the middle of the woods."
Angel looked dubious, then stepped back, barely leaving enough room for Wesley to enter. "Okay, but you go upstairs and you stay there," Angel said, pointing the way and blocking any view of the rest of the downstairs as he did. "And I'm letting you do this for Connor, just so you know."
Wesley slid through the small space that Angel had left, giving him a bemused look. "You're sending me to my room?"
"Well technically to my room since that's where the changing table is, but after that you go nuts," Angel said. "As long as it's upstairs."
"Should I be worried?"
Wesley paused in his progress towards the stairs and looked at him. "You know, an innocent expression on you is truly frightening."
"You know you're not the first person to tell me that?" Angel said. "And how 'bout I come get you? In - " he glanced towards the kitchen " - fifteen minutes?"
Wesley gave Angel a suspicious look, but sighed and acquiesced. "All right." He turned to head up the stairs.
Once upstairs he changed Connor, the baby still as happy as he'd been for the entire walk, but starting to slow down. Wesley caught him rubbing his eyes, and picked him up. "Sleepy are we?" he asked softly, settling in the rocking chair, Connor cradled in the crook of his arm.
He hummed a lullabye absently as he rocked, watching as Connor slowly drifted off, perfectly content in that moment, insecurities and worries, hopes and fears, all laid aside.
A soft creak at the doorway got his attention. He looked up to see Angel standing there.
"He likes it when you sing," Angel said, speaking quietly so as not to wake the child.
"He's too young to be discriminating yet," Wesley replied, smiling down at the baby then glancing up to meet Angel's gaze.
For a moment Angel's eyes were completely unguarded, and the depth of emotion there was startling. But then Angel saw that he had Wesley's gaze and he looked away, covering the movement by tossing a spare dishtowel he held in his hand into the laundry hamper. "Um - dinner will be ready. Soon. Few minutes."
"Do I get to come downstairs?" Wesley teased gently, trying to ignore the way his heartrate had sped up in reaction to that glimpse of emotion he'd caught.
Angel wiped his hands on his pants, and Wesley realized that Angel's black jeans were spotted with flour.
"Yeah," Angel said. He wiped his hands again, then seemed to notice that he was doing it and stopped. "Um - yeah. Yeah. I was thinking you might like to join me. For dinner."
Wesley caught the nervousness and the formality in Angel's tone and forestalled his first instinctive teasing answer. Instead he just smiled, and replied, "I would be honoured."
And there it was. The reward of the rarest of Angel's smiles - a shy, yet pleased expression which lit up his entire face.
"Really?" Angel asked, then quickly adapted himself to the answer. "I mean - great. Good. You can - you should change. For dinner. I can take him."
"How should I dress?" Wesley asked, as he stood up and handed Connor over to his father. "Is this a formal occasion?"
Angel held Connor carefully, so as not to wake him. "Um. Kinda. Yeah. Not - not a tux or anything but - yeah?"
"All right," he said, heading for the door and his own room. "Are you changing as well then?"
"I was planning on it," Angel said. "If - if that's okay?"
Wesley smiled. "Yes, Angel. It's okay if you change your clothes."
"Right. Of course," Angel tried to act non-chalant, though his nerves were still obvious. "I knew that. I just meant - um - I'll get changed. And put him down for his nap."
"All right." Wesley started again for his room, then stopped and looked back. "And Angel? Whatever it is, it's going to be all right."
"Hope so," Angel said, before busying himself by putting Connor into his crib.
Wesley went and changed into the one dark blue suit he'd brought with him from LA, combined with a light blue shirt. After a moment's thought, he left off the tie and left the top button of his shirt undone. Then Wesley headed back out into the hallway. "Angel?"
Angel emerged from his bedroom, carefully closing the door behind him. Wesley saw the familiar shape of the baby monitor in his other hand.
Then Angel faced him, and Wesley saw what he was wearing.
It wasn't that he'd never seen Angel in formal dress before - the night at the ballet was still sharp in his memory. Nor was it that he'd never seen Angel in designer clothes before, since Lord knew the vampire wore nothing but.
Still - there was something about the deep maroon silk shirt and dark tailored pants that Angel wore which was simply breathtaking.
Perhaps, Wesley thought, it was simply the man inside of them.
"Ready?" Angel asked.
"You look wonderful."
Angel self-consciously raised a hand as though to fuss with his hair. "Really? Thanks. You - you too. Wow. Suit. Missed those."
Wesley looked down at himself. "It's been a while since I've had to be formal, hasn't it?"
"Ballet. Last year. You wore a tux," Angel said, automatically.
That startled Wesley. "You keep that close of tabs on what I wear?"
Angel nodded. "Sure. Don't you remember? Last week you wore that... thing. Um - actually it's just you don't wear tuxes that often. I remember."
"Oh." Wesley considered. "Makes sense."
"Do you wanna - ?" Angel gestured downstairs. "Connor's asleep. He'll be out for hours."
"Am I allowed downstairs now?" Wesley teased.
"Only if you wanna eat," Angel teased back.
"I am feeling a bit...peckish." He smiled.
"Then it's dinner with me downstairs or you can stay up here and finish off whatever you've got left of Connor's formula," Angel replied.
"Considering I'm dying of curiosity to see what you've been planning, I'll join you downstairs."
"Good. Great," Angel smiled, then a look of worry crossed his face. "Um - let me go first."
With that the vampire vanished down the staircase, leaving Wesley alone to follow him.
"Is it safe to come down now?" Wesley asked a moment later.
"Yeah," Angel's voice came back up the staircase. With it came the sound of what Wesley recognized as one of Angel's favorite jazz CDs.
Smiling, he headed down the stairs, stopping when he got to the bottom and taking in the living and dining rooms.
The rooms were dark, lit only by candles - the last of which Angel was still lighting. The table was set with a white cloth, and their finest dishes - which, to be fair, were their only dishes, but somehow Wesley could tell this was the effect Angel had been going for.
Angel blew out the match he was using then smiled at Wesley. "Wine?"
Wesley's smile widened. "We have wine?"
"I had to pay extra to get somebody to deliver while you were out with Connor but yeah, we have wine," Angel said. He smiled. "Also grown-up food. You'll have to chew everything."
"I think I can manage that. You just going to sit and watch me eat?"
"I'll have some," Angel said, though he didn't look entirely convinced about it.
"Really?" Wesley didn't try to hide his surprise.
"Sure, that's what people do, right?" Angel asked. "On - at dinner, I mean. Eat. I should check on the food."
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Sit," Angel suggested then, as though remembering, moved over to a chair and pulled it out. "I mean - would you like to? Sit?"
Wesley took the proffered chair, with a faint frown. "On what?" he asked. "You started to say something: On... and then cut yourself off."
"Dinner type things," Angel replied, obviously making it up as he went. "And I think I smell the food so - be right back."
Wesley watched him go, trying to figure out exactly what Angel was doing. It was obvious that he was going to a great deal of trouble and that he was very invested in the outcome. It was almost as if...
"Angel," he called out. "Is this a date?"
The sound of pots moving about stopped. Angel appeared in the doorway. "No?"
"You don't sound sure."
"What answer's a good one?"
"The truth?" Wesley suggested.
"Yeah," Angel nodded. "Truthfully - what's a good answer?"
"The truth," Wesley repeated. "The truth is a good answer."
"Oh," Angel said. He hesitated, looking at something in the direction of the stove. "Yes. I thought - it could be nice. You'n me."
Wesley got up and moved over to him, reaching out and resting a hand on Angel's arm, waiting for him to turn back to look at him. "It is," he said softly, trying to put everything that he was feeling into his voice. "Very nice."
Again Wesley saw pure emotion in Angel's eyes, and again Angel tried to hide it. "I made that chicken thing you like. With the chillies? Or I tried, anyway. Can't - can't really tell if I got the taste right."
Wesley smiled and patted Angel's arm. "I'm sure it'll be fine," he reassured, vowing that he would eat the whole thing with a smile no matter how vile it tasted.
"Hope so," Angel said. "You don't wanna know what happened to the creme brulee."
Wesley was momentarily sidetracked imagining all the things that could go wrong with said dessert, but brought himself back when he saw Angel's expression grow more worried. He gave him another reassuring smile. "I'm sure it'll be lovely."
"Actually now it's going to be pudding," Angel said. "Seemed safer. Less... fire."
"Good call," Wesley said, sliding his hand further up Angel's arm. "I like you... unsinged."
Angel appeared distracted. "Oh. Good. I can do that. Doing it right now, actually. I should - um - the food."
Wesley smiled and let go, finding Angel's reaction rather endearing. "Yes, the food. I'm looking forward to tasting it."
"Yeah, me too," Angel replied. Do you - uh - you can sit. I'll be right in. Did - did I get the wine?"
"No... If you want, I could help-" Wesley began.
"Okay," Angel said, after a moment's thought. He pointed. "It's over there. Breathing. I'll be with you in a sec."
Wesley went over and picked up the bottle, raising his eyebrows when he saw the vintage. Angel really was sparing nothing for this date. Feeling very optimistic for the evening Wesley moved back to the table and poured the wine.
There were a few sounds from the kitchen, then Angel emerged, carrying plates in each hand.
"Here ya go," Angel said, setting the first plate down in front of him. "That chicken thing, wild rice, and I'll get the salad in a second."
"It looks delicious," Wesley said, finding himself talking to Angel's back as the vampire moved back to the kitchen.
"I hope it actually tastes like that*," Angel called back, then returned with two salad plates, which he set down on the table as well. He looked everything over. "Is that - did I forget anything?"
"It's fine, Angel. Sit. Or I'm going to start thinking I should be leaving you a tip at the end of the meal."
"Right, yeah," Angel made his way over to his chair, emoting nervous energy with every step. He looked at Wesley as though perhaps waiting for some kind of cue then, either finding it or deciding he could do without it, he picked up his knife and fork and began to cut up his meal.
Wesley began to eat, finding the food as good as anything he'd ever had in an expensive restaurant. It really was amazing how well Angel could cook, considering he didn't eat.
Which made this meal all the more amazing, he thought, watching in fascination as Angel continued to cut his food, without actually taking a bite.
As though noticing Wesley's attention, Angel looked up. "Something wrong?"
"You're not..." Wesley began, then changed his mind and smiled and shook his head. "No. Everything's fine. The food is wonderful."
Wesley was treated to another of Angel's brilliant smiles. "Good. Did I get it right? The chicken?"
"It's the best I've ever had, I think."
"Good," Angel said, then seemed to realize he was repeating himself. He put his knife down, then pushed his food around with his fork. "So... walk go okay?"
"Yes." Wesley smiled, remembering Connor's enthusiasm. "Your son is very fond of the outside. He was all big eyes and smiles the entire time."
Angel immediately relaxed at what was easily his favorite topic of conversation. "He notices stuff. Like the birds. He's always moving his hands like he wants to catch them."
"We ran across a couple of squirrels," Wesley said, pausing to take another bite of his chicken. "Connor was fascinated by them."
"Did he try to talk?" Angel asked. "Sometimes he talks when he notices stuff."
"He was doing his usual babbling thing," Wesley confirmed, smiling at Angel's enthusiasm. "Complete with the occasional squeal of excitement."
"He's gonna laugh any day now," Angel said. "You can tell. He wants to."
"I envy him sometimes," Wesley admitted not for the first time. "Everything is such a wonder to him."
A soft smile shaped Angel's lips. "Yeah. And being here... it's nice. There's nothing bad to show him. Everything's new, and safe."
"A new start for all of us," Wesley agreed, holding Angel's gaze. This, Angel cooking for him for a date, would never have happened in LA. He never would have got the courage to voice his feelings in the first place back there.
"Yeah," Angel agreed. He pushed his food absently. "Kinda scary, huh?"
Angel looked surprised, then smiled. "You too?"
"What - you thought I would be... blase about this?" Wesley shook his head, giving Angel a smile to know that he wasn't upset. "You've been pretty much my unspoken fantasy for...years now. Having that actually happen... Of course I'm terrified. If I screw this up-"
Angel looked puzzled. "What would you screw up?"
"Do you want the list alphabetically?" Wesley asked dryly, not without some humor.
"Wes, you're okay," Angel said, putting his fork down. "Honest. I mean you - you had me at taking care of my kid. At the way Connor looks at you. At the way... the way you trust me."
Wesley reached out a hand to cover Angel's with. "I do," he said softly, wanting to give Angel the words again. "I do trust you."
Angel's hand moved under Wesley's. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He squeezed Angel's hand. "And that's why I'm terrified. Everything is so good between us right now. I don't want to lose that because I was greedy for more."
Worry flickered through Angel's eyes. "I - this is too much. I did too much. I'm sorry."
"No!" Wesley denied instantly. "Angel, this is... no one's ever gone to this much trouble for me before. Not like this."
"Really?" Angel looked at him in surprise. "Not even Virginia with the limos and the big fancy Hollywood parties and okay maybe I was jealous without really knowing it."
"Virgina would order food in or get us reservations at a restaurant. She never would have spent an afternoon cooking herself."
Angel looked over Wes appraisingly. "Maybe she wanted to show you off."
"I'm sure she did. Not that I minded at the time," Wesley admitted, thinking back to those dates with a type of fond nostalgia.
"Must've been fun getting your picture in all those magazines," Angel said.
"It had its moments. Especially whenever Cordy found one."
Something flickered in Angel's eyes. He pulled his hand back, his demeanor full of nerves once more. "So - salad okay?"
Wesley cursed himself for an idiot. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have-"
"It's okay," Angel said, replying a hair too quickly for the words to be completely true. "I just - I don't - I'm not ready yet. For that."
"I know. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking."
Angel played with his food once more. Wesley could practically feel the weight of brooding wrap around the vampire.
Wesley watched him, wishing he could call his words back. "This would be one of the ways I was afraid of screwing up," he said softly.
"It's not you, Wesley," Angel said. He sighed, slumping back in his chair. "I like you. I like this."
"But..." Wesley said leadingly.
Angel took a drink from his wineglass. "That's the problem. I like this."
Wesley shook his head. "I don't..."
Angel sat forward again. "I like this, Wes. I like the house, the land, you. It's not LA, and it's not the gang, and it's never gonna be but... I like it."
"And this is a problem," Wesley said slowly, hoping if he kept Angel talking, he'd figure out what point he was trying to make.
Angel was quiet for a moment. "It feels wrong to not miss them sometimes."
"So... you're feeling guilty because you're not completely miserable."
Angel thought about it for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah."
Wesley took his time coming up with an answer to that. "So do you want to try not to be happy?"
"No," Angel shook his head. "I mean - I dunno. I just feel like I shouldn't. Like it's wrong that I do. Like it's... forgetting them."
"It's not. We're not." Wesley reached for Angel's hand again, holding his gaze. "Whatever happens now, whatever we feel or don't feel, that doesn't change the past -- or our memories."
Angel's hand moved, his fingers lightly caressing Wesley's palm. "I feel," he said. "I do feel."
Little zings of sensation went through Wesley's nervous system at the light touch. "So do I," he said. "Quite deeply."
"So I'm at this point," Angel said softly, his gaze never wavering from their two hands, "where I want that to be true."
"It is," Wesley told him, his heart beating just a little faster.
"Because," Angel continued, and Wesley thought perhaps Angel hadn't heard him, but then Angel's fingers moved to slip between Wesley's own, "I think about what it could be like for us, if that was true. About you and me and Connor and here and that and - and I like it. A lot."
Eschewing words to answer that, Wesley shifted his chair close enough that he could lean over and kiss Angel.
Angel froze for a moment, tension in every inch of his body, then just as suddenly as it came, it vanished, and Angel's mouth melted into Wesley's.
It was just as good as all the kisses that had come before it and Wesley lost himself in it for what seemed like years.
And then there was a moment - Wesley couldn't tell how long it was when it happened - when a kiss which had been soft and lingering suddenly sharpened, and became heated and hungry.
Wesley made a sound in the back of his throat, bringing a hand up to tangle in Angel's hair, sliding to the edge of his seat in an effort to get closer.
Angel made a sound in return, then jerked away. "I'm sorry. I - I shouldn't have - "
"If you're going to finish that sentence with anything other than 'pulled away'," Wesley said archly, "I'm going to be very put out."
Really, there was a time and place for brooding and this was most certainly not it.
"But I didn't - " Angel looked helplessly to the kitchen. "I had a plan. To do this right."
Wesley's mood softened at that. "I know, and that means a lot to me," he said. "But it seemed to be going all right from where I am. Unless...this wasn't what you were hoping we'd end up doing?"
"No, I mean yeah, I mean - I hoped, yeah," Angel said, "but - there was a plan. I mean dinner and dessert and maybe dancing and - and taking it slow and... that."
"So you don't want to kiss me right now?"
"I wouldn't say that."
"But you want to do things right."
"Yeah," Angel said. "For you."
If Wesley hadn't already been totally besotted with Angel before this he would have fallen hard right then. "I love you," he said.
Angel smiled, almost sheepishly. "Well - that would be why."
"Would you be terribly disappointed if I said I wanted to skip to...that?" Wesley asked.
"To... oh," Angel said, belatedly understanding Wesley's words. "I - well the pudding's gonna - no, not disappointed. At all. We could do that."
"It's not that I don't appreciate all the effort you've gone to," Wesley continued, wanting to make this clear. "I do. I just... want to show you how much I appreciate it."
Something not unpleasant flickered in Angel's eyes. He cleared his throat. "Dinner could reheat," he suggested.
Wesley gave him his best 'come shag me' smile.
Angel started to move forward, then hesitated. "You sure?"
Wesley responded by closing the remaining distance between them himself and kissing Angel again.
Angel's uncertainty seemed to vanish this time. A strong arm snaked around Wesley's waist and pulled him closer as Angel returned the kiss hungrily.
Wrapping his arms around Angel in return, Wesley lost himself in the kiss, in the way Angel's mouth tasted and the way Angel was devouring his own. If nothing else came out of tonight, this kiss was worth it.
When Angel broke away this time, he didn't go far. "Connor won't be up for a few hours."
"Have you any plan for what we should do with that time?" Wesley asked, pressing his body closer, and feeling that at least part of Angel seemed to.
"Had a few thoughts, yeah," Angel replied. He glanced back at the table. "Few more, now that we've got this extra time on our hands."
"We can always eat when Connor's awake," Wesley pointed out. "After we've worked up an appetite?"
"Wasn't arguing that," Angel replied with a grin. He looked at Wesley for a moment, his eyes dancing with the sort of happiness that in the past had usually been reserved only for Connor. "So - you really want to do this?"
Wesley rocked his hips forward against Angel. "What does it feel like?"
Angel's eyes flickered closed with pleasure. "Bigger than I was giving you credit for."
That surprised a laugh from Wesley. "I'm not sure if I should be taking that as a compliment for now or an insult for what you were giving me credit for."
"Well, you know - British and..." Angel cleared his throat. "And I should really shut up now, huh?"
"Yes." Wesley leaned in and nibbled on Angel's lips. "I can think of other things you can do with your mouth."
"Me too," Angel murmured. His hand moved up to cup Wesley's cheek as their lips danced together. "And - talking. That kind. Good."
"Very good," Wesley agreed, as the kissed deepened, quickly growing hot and hungry again.
Angel's hand moved down, cupped Wesley's arse and hauled him over into Angel's lap. "Better," Angel said, then resumed kissing him again.
Wesley made a small happy sound in the back of his throat and rocked his hips against Angel's once again, feeling Angel's cock press against his own. He broke off the kiss long enough to tease, "Not bad for an Irishman," then dove back in again.
That earned Wesley a quick bark of laughter, then a harder, almost biting kiss.
That made Wesley moan and press even harder against Angel. His entire body was tingling and he wanted... wanted... Pulling away from the kiss, he moved to whisper directly into Angel's ear, "Take me upstairs and fuck me through the mattress."
There was a pause, and for half a heartbeat Wesley worried he might have gone too far.
Then the world tilted as Angel shouldered him and carried him upstairs.
"Yeah, okay," Angel said.
Wesley let out a yelp as Angel threw him upside down over his shoulder, his hands automatically fisting in Angel's shirt as he tried to catch his balance in the awkward postion as he was carried upstairs and into his room. Another yelp was forced from him when the world tilted again as Angel put him down on his bed.
Angel smiled down at him. "Better?"
"It's a start," Wesley replied, sitting up enough to wrap his arms around Angel's neck and pull him into another kiss.
Angel settled against him, his hard cock pressing against Wesley's leg - and his hard thigh more than returning the favor. "Been a while," Angel said. "I may need a lot of practice here."
"I believe I could be persuaded to help you practice all you need to," Wesley said, voice trailing off in a gasp at the feel of Angel's body against his own, even with all the clothing in the way.
"You're giving. I like that," Angel said. He moved his hand over to Wesley's chest and began to undo the buttons with maddening slowness.
"Your loyal servant," Wesley replied in a breathy voice, his hands sliding over Angel's form restlessly.
"No," Angel said. moving up so their eyes met. "My partner."
Wesley stilled at those words, staring up into Angel's eyes. "Partner," he repeated softly.
"I don't want this if it's not going to be equal," Angel said. "Teamwork. Family. I don't want a servant, Wes. I want - I want Wes."
His heart melting, Wesley leaned up the small distance he needed to kiss Angel thoroughly. "You've got me," he murmured against his lips. "Love you."
Angel sank down, pressing his body into Wesley's. He resumed his attack on Wesley's buttons, pulling the shirt aside and running his fingers along Wesley's sides.
A sound suspiciously close to a giggle came from Wesley's mouth as he reflexively tried to squirm away from the ticklish touch.
Angel pulled back, looking at him quizzically. "Okay, I know I'm out of practice but laughing isn't the reaction I usually go for here."
"Sorry," Wesley apologised, swallowing the laugh that tried to escape. "I'm, err, rather ticklish."
"Oh," Angel said. He looked thoughtful, then moved his hand down Wesley's side again. "So this tickles?"
Another giggle bubbled up. "Yes."
Angel moved his hand over Wesley's stomach. "How 'bout this?"
"A little. Not as much."
Angel's hand moved up, gently pinching one of Wesley's nipples through the fabric of his undershirt. "How 'bout this?"
An involuntary gasp came from Wesley and he arched up into the touch. "No," he answered breathlessly, "that's not ticklish." He paused then added, "More?"
Angel's eyes darkened. He bent down, circling his mouth around Wesley's nipple, and began to suck.
Wesley moaned, his hands coming up to tangle in Angel's hair, holding him in place. His hips bucked upwards as each movement seemed to go straight to his cock.
Angel's tongue flickered over the fabric, then he pulled away, tugging at Wesley's shirt with his hands. "Too many clothes. Way too many. Who told you to wear this?"
"You," Wesley replied, sitting up enough to allow Angel to strip the shirt from him. "You said dress formally."
"Since when do you listen to me?" Angel asked. He moved Wesley's shirt and coat aside, then sat back, his eyes raking over Wesley's body. "Wow."
Wesley felt himself blushing under the intense gaze. "Wow?"
"Yeah," Angel said. "Wow. You're not bad looking, Wes."
"And again I'm left to wonder what exactly you thought I was going to look like," he teased.
"Less scales than I imagined," Angel deadpanned.
Wesley rolled his eyes. "Seriously, though, did you think I was going to be..."
"Horrible?" Angel asked. He shifted positions, lying down beside Wesley with their legs tangled together. "No. I thought you'd be cute. Didn't realize you'd be hot too."
"Hot, huh?" Wesley asked, feeling himself blush again.
Angel's hand moved appreciatively down Wesley's chest. "We gotta get you a wardrobe that doesn't hide these muscles. Why do you hide these muscles?"
Wesley glanced down at himself. "I guess I never really noticed..."
Angel looked back up at him. "Okay - I'm the one who can't see himself in a mirror. Did you forget that?"
"It's not that I didn't know I'm in good shape," Wesley protested. "It's just.." He sighed and looked wryly at Angel. "I've paid more attention to your muscles than my own."
"And yet you've never told me," Angel said. His touch was becoming warmer now, and more distracting.
"I didn't think you'd be interested." Wesley closed his eyes, squirming closer.
"I'm interested now," Angel said. His hand moved around to Wesley's back, massaging aches Wesley didn't even know he had. "Anything else you'd like to tell me?"
Wesley groaned, letting his head fall forward onto Angel's shoulder. "That you're really very good at that?"
"I could do it more often," Angel suggested.
"I would like that. A lot."
Angel's hand became stronger, deliberately seeking out muscles to soothe. "Could do it every night."
If Wesley was a cat he was sure he'd be purring. "Yes, please?"
Angel's hand went lower, managing to snake in under Wesley's belt. "Could do more."
"Please," Wesley repeated, breathing the word against Angel's lips which were suddenly under his own.
Angel's hand moved lower still, cupping the bare flesh of Wesley's arse underneath his clothes. "Feels nice."
Wesley pushed back into Angel's touch, his mouth leaving Angel's and trailing down to nip and suck at the vampire's throat.
A soft sound escaped Angel's lips. He bared his throat, inviting more of Wesley's touch. "Um. Yeah. That - that would feel nice too."
Wesley smiled to himself and nipped harder, then laved the spot with his tongue.
Angel gasped. "Okay. Yeah. More of that would be great."
"Could do this every night too," Wesley offered, then sucked on the same spot hard enough to raise a mark.
Angel licked his lips. "What do I do to sign up for that?"
Raising his head, Wesley met Angel's gaze. "You let me."
"Yes," Angel replied at once, and this time he didn't hide the depth of emotion in his eyes.
Wesley kissed him, putting all his heart into it. "Love you," he murmured.
"Wes, I - I need - " Angel's hands moved to the front of Wes's pants, fumbling with his belt buckle. "I need... I need help. Man we need to get you a new wardrobe."
"Any wardrobe I have would still have to include trousers," Wesley pointed out, even as he covered Angel's hands with his own and then moved to unbuckle the belt and undo his fly.
"There could be an easy access... thing," Angel trailed off absently as Wesley removed the obstacle of his fly for the vampire's benefit. Angel's hand slipped in to the opening, his fingers finding Wesley's cock. "Wow."
Wesley caught his breath, a shiver going through him at the sensation of Angel's hand touching him. "Wow," he echoed.
Angel's demeanor became quiet, almost reverent. "Does it - does it just hit you? That we're doing this?"
"It's been hitting me all along," Wesley replied in the same quiet tone that Angel used. He gave a half smile. "And I'm still not entirely sure this isn't a really good dream."
Angel met him, smile for smile. "Think we're having the same one."
Wesley kissed him again, then pulled back enough to say, "How about we take a few seconds to get rid of all clothes?"
"Well okay," Angel said, "but if this is a contest I think you're cheating since you're halfway there already."
"Yes, but I don't have vampiric speed."
Angel thought about it. "Fair enough." The vampire moved off of the bed and began to shuck his clothes.
Wesley had begun to move to get rid of what remained of his own, but found himself getting lost in watching Angel strip instead.
"Wow," he said.
Angel paused, his pants held self-consciously in front of him. "Um - good?"
Wesley nodded appreciatively. "Very good."
Angel looked Wesley over, taking in the fact that Wesley hadn't finished yet. "Guess I win?"
"Actually," Wesley said, still staring, "from where I'm sitting I'm the winner."
"You were thinking scales too?"
"I'm thinking," Wesley began, getting rid of his pants with all due speed, "that I very much want you to fuck me right now."
Wesley turned to place his pants on his bureau and felt Angel's hands on his waist. Then, immediately after, felt a clear confirmation that, yes, Angel had put his own pants down somewhere as well.
"Could be arranged," Angel said. His voice was low, practially little more than a rumble in Wesley's ear. "And soon. Because I'm having a big willpower problem here."
"Don't...ahh...hold back on my account," Wesley encouraged.
"Can you please tell me we've got something in here to help with this? Because I'd rather not use the baby oil if we don't have to."
"Top drawer of the nightstand."
"Always liked your ability to plan ahead," Angel said. Cool air swirled around Wesley's back as the vampire moved away to avail himself of the lube in the nightstand. Then, before Wesley could become too used to the idea of Angel no longer touching him, Angel's hand reached out, grabbed Wesley by the wrist, and pulled him onto the bed, where they landed in a tangle of limbs and lips.
"Better," Angel said.
"Yes," Wesley said, wrapping his arms around Angel and pressing as close as he could while they kissed.
"Want you," he panted.
Angel proved more adept at opening the lube then he had been at taking Wesley's clothes off. It was only a matter of moments for him to get some on his fingers, then move those fingers to tease Wesley from behind.
"Want you too," Angel said. "Christ - want you bad, Wes."
Wesley pushed back into the touch, with a gasp. "Yes, please Angel..." He couldn't begin to put into words how much he wanted this.
Based on the feeling of Angel's cock against his thigh, Wesley wasn't alone in this. The world - and he - turned over as Angel switched their positions, lying down on top of him once more. Angel parted Wesley's legs with his hips and rocked their bodies together.
"Is this what you want?" Angel asked. "Like this?"
"God, yes!" He wrapped his legs around Angel's hips, offering himself. "Please..."
There was the teasing touch of Angel's fingers, then the push of Angel's cock and it was quite possibly far too soon for that sort of contact after far too many nights alone in bed, but Angel was groaning and Wesley felt full and it was far too perfect to complain about.
Angel's mouth rained kisses over Wesley's lips. "Good. Feel so good, Wes."
"Angel..." he gasped. "Angel..." It was the only word that was in his mind. Angel, with him, in him...
Angel thrust in deeper, his mouth wonderfully forceful in its demands. "Wes. God - Wesley."
"Yes...more...please," he groaned, loving the feel of Angel holding him down, taking control, taking him.
"God - so good, Wes," Angel said. He grabbed one of Wesley's hands, holding it tight in his own. He moved his mouth down to kiss and bite at Wesley's neck. "So good. So tight. God..."
Wesley was panting for breath, harder than he'd ever been, totally lost in the sensation. "Love you...Angel..."
Angel's mouth captured Wesley's completely, and Wesley could feel the tension in Angel's form which said the vampire was getting closer and closer to the edge.
Wanting to see, to feel, Angel come, Wesley ran his nails down Angel's back, providing one more level of stimulation, trying to push him to the point of no return.
"Wes," Angel said, and Wesley had never heard Angel's voice so soft and pleading. "Please - god - Wes..."
"I love you, Angel," Wesley replied. "Come for me."
It was like the words were a magic incantation. Angel moaned, then groaned, then tensed as he froze, then shuddered, coming inside of Wesley.
"Wes - Jesus - Wes - " Angel panted, seeking Wesley's lips out blindly for another kiss.
The kiss was enough to send Wesley over the edge; crying out into Angel's mouth as he came.
Angel held him tightly, his mouth hard enough to bruise as he snuck kisses and bites around his words. "That's it. So beautiful. God - perfect."
The pleasure seemed to go on and on, aftershocks shaking Wesley's body as he slowly came down from the peak.
Angel seemed dazed as well, his mouth drawing lazy kisses from Wesley's own.
"Nice," Angel murmured, after some time had passed.
"Uh huh," Wesley managed, feeling warm and sated and lazy and...happy.
"That's nice too."
Wesley smiled and kissed him again.
Angel melted into him, their bodies still locked together in a position that was surprisingly right, and comfortable.
"That was..." Angel grinned. "Wow."
"Very wow." Wesley was still smiling, somewhat like a fool, he was sure.
"Could we do that again sometime?" Angel asked. Wesley was amused to see an almost childlike expression of glee in Angel's face as well.
"I'll be very disappointed if we don't."
"I may have a new hobby."
"Any way I can help you feel useful..." Wesley said, still smiling, feeling laughter bubbling up.
Angel smiled down at him. "What?"
"Nothing. I'm just... I'm happy."
Angel leaned down, giving him a lingering kiss. "Me too."
Wesley was about to reply, or perhaps just enjoy the kiss further, when something made Angel pull back and cock his head, listening.
Angel gave Wesley an apologetic smirk. "I think someone's up."
"Go on," Wesley said, kissing Angel again before letting him go. Still smiling, he said, "Go see to your son."
Angel smiled back at him, slipped his pants on, then left the room.
This wasn't real. It couldn't be real. It wasn't possible that he and Wes had just done what they did, and yet everything was okay.
Hell - more than okay.
They'd been together and talked and touched and -
How was it possible for that to have worked?
And yet they had.
And it had.
Angel opened the door to his and Connor's room. As always, his son responded by turning towards the noise, and looking at Angel with a large, toothless smile.
"Hey there," Angel said. He moved over to the crib and scooped Connor out of it, doing the usual diaper check as he did. "Did you sleep well? Wanna tell me about your dreams?"
Connor gurgled and cooed, resting his head against Angel's jaw. Angel sat down in the rocking chair, letting Connor have a few moments to wake up before taking him anywhere.
"You're in a good mood," Angel said. Connor's hands tried to grasp Angel's jaw. Angel moved his hand up to let Connor hold on to his finger instead.
"Daddy's in a good mood too," he told Connor. "Daddy and Uncle Wes are - "
He paused. What to call it? What to call this strange new thing, where Wes made him insanely happy and -
Angel blinked, remembering Wes's smile.
This thing where he made Wes happy in return?
Angel shook his head at himself.
"Daddy's sometimes an idiot," he told Connor. He got up out of the chair, supporting Connor's head, then walked back down the hallway again. He stopped in front of Wes's door and knocked.
It was opened by Wes a few seconds later, still shirtless and just doing up a pair of jeans. "You didn't have to knock," Wesley told him, and yep, there was that smile again.
Angel allowed himself a moment to get lost in it, then plunged ahead with his idea. "So there's this thing."
"Yes?" Wesley's smile, if anything, got larger, as he teased, "Should I be worried?"
"Maybe," Angel teased back, then felt nerves overtake him. He hadn't done anything like this in a while. "So there's this thing where I think I figured out what I do here."
"Yeah," Angel said. He moved closer, using his free hand to brush against Wes's lips, tracing the smile there. "That."
Wesley looked at him, puzzled, though the smile never quite faded.
"I make you happy," Angel said, taking comfort in the tiny family that he found himself in the middle of. "And I like that."
"Ah," Wesley said softly in comprehension. "Yes, you do. You always have."
"That's a nice thing," Angel said. "That's the kind of thing that could - that does make me feel like I've got a place here."
Wesley's gaze softened and he reached out and brushed his hand against Angel's cheek. "That's all you needed?"
"I needed..." Angel felt the words out as he spoke them, realizing the answer as he did "I needed you to be happy. And I guess now I know why."
"I wasn't unhappy before," Wesley told him. "Really. But," and there was that smile again, that seemed to shine from Wes' very soul, "I'm happier now."
"Then so am I," Angel said. He nodded in the direction of downstairs. "So - wanna join us for dinner?"
"I would love to. I understand there's a wonderful chicken dish on the menu."
"Got rave reviews the first time," Angel joked. He pressed a kiss to Connor's head, then one to Wes's lips, then lead the way downstairs.