A Million Miles Away, Future Interlude

Puppet Fear

by Wolfling and the Brat Queen

(Rated PG-13)


[Wolfling] What if Angel had a nightmare that he was a puppet?
[TBQ] HA! Yeah, he wakes up and obsessively counts his fingers
[Wolfling] yes
[Wolfling] and Wes asks him what he's doing
[Wolfling] in that tone reserved for small children and madmen
[TBQ] and Angel's all guilty and shifty-eyed. "Nothing!"
[Wolfling]and then connor makes puppets at school that day
[TBQ] and Angel's all twitchy about it later
[Wolfling] and connor all solemn to wes at some point "daddy has puppet fear."

"But we love him anyway, son," Wes replied just as solemnly.

"I do *not* have puppet fear!"

Wesley waved the puppet in his face.

Angel jumped back.

Wesley raised one eloquent eyebrow.

"Shut up. You startled me."

"Of course I did."

Angel straightened his coat out, vigoriously brushing off dust that wasn't there. "Just - don't do that. It's a bad example."

"It's a *puppet*."

"*Exactly*. Uh - I mean I don't care."

Wesley crossed his arms over his chest, still holding the puppet. "So are you going to tell me now what this is all about or do we dance around it for a few more hours and then you tell me?"

Angel thought about it. "I'm fine for dancing. Heck, let's just do that. You wanna go out?"

Wes seemed to give the suggestion serious thought. "We could take Connor to that puppet show in town."

"I don't think they have dancing at puppet shows."

"The puppets dance," Wesley pointed out helpfully.

Angel barely repressed a shudder. "Isn't there a book reading or something we could go to?"

"I'm sure we can find something to do." He moved closer to Angel. "Once we get this whole puppet thing cleared up."

"Can't we skip to the doing?" Angel asked. He gave Wes a look that was hopeful, and maybe even suggestive.

What he got back was Wes' implacable 'I can sit here as long as you can so you're going to eat those vegetables' look.

"But the doing's so much more fun," Angel said.

"If the positions were reversed, would you let me get away with that?"

"Of course I would!" Angel said at once. "I'd encourage it! Connor, I don't think those are for eating."

"You do realise that I'm more stubborn than you?" Wesley asked, leaning over and taking his car keys from Connor without missing a beat. "You can keep trying to change the subject, but eventually you'll give in and tell me."

"One of these days I've got to be more stubborn than you are," Angel pointed out.

"No, I don't think so."

"Don't the odds kind of suggest it?"

"The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour," Wes quickly responded.

"I've lived longer than you."

Wes again raised that eyebrow. "Your point being?"

"Clearly I've been stubborn about some stuff longer than you," Angel said. "So there's your past behavior."

"Name one," Wes challenged.

"The still being alive part," Angel said.

"And how many times have you died? Or tried to die?"

Angel began to count, ticking off numbers on his fingers as he silently mouthed the words. He turned to Wesley. "Are we counting trying to save the world?"

"In this case, that's not an excuse."

"Okay," Angel said. He went back to counting.

"Do you need a calculator?" Wes asked after a minute.

"No, I got it," Angel said. He moved on to the other hand.

There was a distinct air of amusement coming from where Wes was standing.
Angel looked up again. "Are we counting Hell? Because that's going to up it into, like, the hundreds."

"I think the point may have been made, don't you?" Wes asked.

"No it hasn't," Angel said. "Because I'm still here. Which means I'm more stubborn than death is."

"No, it just means that you have lousy follow-through when it comes to dusting yourself."

Angel folded his arms. "Gee. Wasn't aware that was an area of disappointment for you."

"You know that it isn't," Wes said, moving closer. "And one of the reasons I can outstubborn you is I'm determined to keep you non-dusty."

Angel refused to admit he was this easily placated. He tried to keep a hurt tone. "I mean if it's that much of a *problem* for you I could go get a broom or something."

"Which would be rather useless since I refuse to let you turn to dust," Wes pointed out with a bit of welcome ferocity in his voice.

A smile touched Angel's lips. "Really? You'd be upset and everything?"

"That is a truly stupid question. Of course I'd be upset. But since I wouldn't let it happen I won't have to be."

"Okay now you're making me like you again," Angel said.

"Good," Wes said with a smile. "So now you can tell me about why you have puppet fear."

"Actually now I was going to kiss you," Angel said. "But you might be changing my mind again."

"It's not like you won't kiss me later regardless," Wes replied with supreme confidence.

"You sound awfully confident of that," Angel said.

Wes just smiled at him.

"You know you're only going to be able to coast so far on being cute," Angel said.

"I know. But being smart will get me the rest of the way."

"See?" Angel said, stepping closer. "There you go. Being cute again."

"Puppets?" Wes asked again.

Angel sighed. "And again the mood is lost."

"You know, if you actually tell me, then we could work on reclaiming the mood with my full cooperation," Wes pointed out.

Angel slumped down into a chair. "I don't wanna."

Wes moved behind the chair, his hands going to Angel's shoulders. "Do it anyway."

"Or else what?"

"I keep asking."

"I think I'm prepared to live with that."

"I can be very annoying," Wes said, leaning over enough to speak directly in his ear.

Angel grinned at him. "You're too cute to be annoying."

"Puppets," Wes said again.

"I could gag you," Angel pointed out.

"You could just answer the question." Wes paused. "Although if you wanted to tie me up later, I don't think I'd have any objections."

"See now I'm all distracted," Angel said. He tried to nuzzle Wes's cheek. "And thinking happy thoughts."

"Angel, is it really such a big deal to talk to me about the puppets?"

"I don't wanna talk about the puppets," Angel said, his voice uncomfortably close to a whine.

"Can you just tell me why you don't?" Wes' voice was as soothing as his touch. "Then I'll drop it."

"Because it's stupid," Angel muttered.

"Angel, this is me." Wesley moved enough to be able to meet Angel's eyes. "You know I'm never going to think you're stupid."

"You're really trying to make me fall in love with you, you know that?" Angel asked.

Wes smiled. "Ah, you've seen through my dastardly plan."

"It might be working," Angel admitted. He bumped their noses together.

"So why would I think you stupid?"

"Because I am?" Angel replied. Then realized what he'd just said. "It. Because *it* is."

Wes kissed him. "You are *not* stupid. And I'm sure your reason isn't either."

Angel looked at him warily. "Promise?"

"I promise," Wes said solemnly.

"Promise you won't laugh?" Angel clarified.

"Angel, when have I ever laughed at you?"

Angel gave him a look. "I'm so upset I forgot to brood?"

That got him kissed again. "I promise not to laugh."

"I rmtizapt," Angel mumbled.

Wes frowned. "Would you like to try that again in one of the languages I do speak?"

"That was English," Angel said, defensively.

"I speak English. Quite fluently. That wasn't it. It was possbily Angel-mumblese. Which, much as I've been exposed to, I'm still learning."

Angel sighed. "I dreamt I was a puppet."

Wes blinked. "A puppet," he repeated, but to his credit he didn't laugh. "Like with strings...?"

Angel frowned, trying to remember. "I don't *think* there were strings. God, I *hope* there were strings."

"You... want strings?"

Angel gave Wes a look. "I mean... considering the alternative."

"What do you-" He saw the realization dawn on Wes' face. "Oh, I see."

Angel nodded vigorously. "Exactly. Certain parts of me only you are allowed to touch. House rule. Actually world rule. I'm going to insist on it."

Wes was looking at him speculatively.


"I'm just trying to picture you as a puppet."

"Well quit it."

"I bet you were cute."

"I was not!" Angel slumped further in his chair.

"I don't see how you couldn't be." Wes used his most reasonable voice.

"I'm not cute," Angel protested. "I'm... dark. I'm dangerous. I'm..."

"Cute," Wes said kissing his nose.

"Am not," Angel said again, but Wes was once more melting his resolve.

"Very cute," Wes continued. "Especially when you smile."

"Thought I was handsome," Angel protested.

Wes waved that off. "Handsome is common. It's aloof and distant. Cute is much better. Cute pulls you in and makes you want to just stay there forever."

The corner of Angel's mouth quirked up. "I do that to you?"

"Very much."

Angel took hold of Wes's belt loop, drawing him into his lap. "I could like doing that to you."

Wes smiled as he slid his arms around Angel's neck and leaned in for another kiss. "Good. Oh and Angel?"

Angel brushed his lips over Wes's. "Yeah?"

"No more watching Seasame Street with Connor. It's giving you nightmares."




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