by Wolfling

(Rated NC-17


Part 9


Angel glanced at the closed bathroom door and resisted yet again the urge to call through the door asking if Wesley was all right.

Of course he was. If anything was wrong, Angel would be able to hear it, right? And all he heard was the water running in the shower, which meant that Wesley was taking advantage of having working facilities. Angel would hear if he was doing anything else.

Or so he kept telling himself. Unfortunately, he didn't quite believe himself, not with the way Wesley had looked when Angel had awakened him from his nightmare.

Angel was an expert on horror -- he'd spent over a century becoming an expert -- how it looked, sounded, smelled, tasted. Horror was more than just fear. Horror also included equal parts anger, guilt, shame. Above all else, horror is what came when you realised that there was no way out. Horror was the dawn of hopelessness.

Whatever Wesley had dreamt about, it had left its mark on him; Angel had seen horror in his eyes when he'd woke.

Angel wanted to help, but therein lay the crux of his problem. While he knew intimately a myriad of ways to inflict horror on all sorts of people, when it came to soothing it, he never knew what to do. The few times he'd tried, he had stuttered and fidgeted and just generally acted like a total incompetent dork. Any easing of the emotional pain of the person he was trying to help was totally conicidental.

Doyle kept assuring him that it was just a lack of experience and that if he kept making the effort, he'd get the hang of it eventually, but Angel wasn't so sure. If he hadn't got the hang of it in two and a half centuries, the odds of him getting it now didn't seem all that good. He told Doyle as much and did his best to pawn off people who needed someone with a deft emotional touch to those better suited for it. Like Doyle himself.

Trouble was, there wasn't anybody else here he could get to help Wesley. So if he wanted to get that look out of Wesley's eyes, Angel was going to have to do something about it himself.

Which was why he was sitting here, staring at the bathroom door and listening to the shower run, wondering if he should be asking Wesley if he was all right.


Okay, this wasn't working. Angel tried to come at the problem from another angle. Maybe if he started with physical comfort, it would help lead to emotional comfort. Or at least an atmosphere where Wesley felt better about talking about it.

So what could he do to make Wesley more comfortable physically? Well the shower was a good start; being warm and clean certainly went a long way to making a person comfortable. And if there was a hot meal -- or at least a meal -- waiting for him when he got out of the shower, that would go even further.

Right then. Food. For a human. That was something Angel could do something about. There were caches of food hidden in various stashes around the hotel, just as there were caches of weapons and other necessities. Usually a rover would only be told about a few of them. Angel, being one of the top rovers that Unity had, and being blessed with a photographic memory, knew the locations of them all. He'd go and quickly grab some of the more choice human food items and have a meal waiting for Wesley when he came out of the bathroom.

He was halfway to the door to the suite before he realised that this gave him the excuse he hadn't quite been able to find to speak to Wesley through the door -- to inform him that he was leaving for a bit. Angel reversed his course and knocked on the bathroom door. "Wesley? You okay in there?"

There was a pause and then Wesley's voice came back. "I'm quite fine." Another pause and then hesitantly. "Am I taking too long?"

"No!" Angel quickly assured him. "No, you're just fine. Er, which you just said. But take all the time you want -- that's what it's there for."

"If you're sure..." Wesley said, again hesitantly.

"I am. Knock yourself out. Have fun. Stay in there until you're all wrinkly. I just wanted to tell you that I have to step out for a couple of minutes. I need to go get a... thing. Very important. But I shouldn't be long."

"All right." Angel was halfway to the door again when Wesley added, "Do you need any help?"

"No!" Angel did his best to sound casual about it. "It's okay. I've got it under control. You just enjoy your shower."

This time, finally, Angel did make it out of the suite without any other conversation and, he hoped, without rousing Wesley's suspicions. Once out in the hallway, he headed for the nearest cache of food, which was several floors away in another room they had converted. He headed to the stairwell and started climbing.

As he walked, Angel quite unsurpisingly found himself thinking about Wesley. He'd seemed so together and in control when they'd first met, but Angel now suspected that that was at least partly because of where they met. The library was obviously something Wesley's psyche had latched onto as safety. He felt in control there and was able to avoid those thoughts that bothered him. But since they'd left the library, Angel had seen signs that there were some pretty substancial... things that Wesley was dealing -- or not dealing was perhaps more accurate -- with. And it wasn't just the nightmare, though that was the most obvious sign. Some of the things that had come up in conversation, as well as the way Wesley had said them were almost as bothersome.

It all boiled down to the fact that Wesley was damaged. That wasn't anything special; nowadays it seemed like pretty much everyone was damaged in some way. God knows Angel carried more than his share of demons -- literal and metaphorical -- himself.

But Angel, for some reason he wasn't quite able to completely fathom, had wanted Wesley to be different. He'd wanted Wesley to be whole.

It was, Angel decided, one more good reason, to be taking Wesley back to Unity with him. Doyle had an uncanny knack at knowing just what to do or say to help damaged people start to heal. He'd be able to help make Wesley whole.

Angel was mulling over just why that seemed so important to him as he stepped out into the hallway of the floor where the food was cached. There was something he was just teasing around the edges of and it distracted him enough that he never saw the magic blast that brought him down.


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