"How far will we be going tonight?" Wesley asked curiously.
Angel glanced at the man in the passenger seat beside him, but judging from Wesley's expression, it had been a serious question and not the double entendre that he thought it might be.
"A little over 300 miles," he replied. "There's a little town called Eureka where the next safehouse is." He paused, considered, but couldn't resist adding, "And once we're there, we can go as far as you want."
He glanced over at Wesley again, and yep, there it was, the slight blush that he was fast becoming addicted to. Even better, was the shy smile that usually accompanied it.
And, to Angel's delight, in spite of his embarrassment, Wesley rallied enough to shoot back, "Considering how far we've travelled that particular road already, I'm not certain there's much distance left we could cover."
"Oh, I'm sure I can think of a mile or two further we could go," Angel said, thinking of all the ways he could make Wesley shiver and moan and come. "Besides, there's nothing that says we can't retrace some of the paths we found particularly... interesting."
Wesley's blush deepened. "Is it always like this? When you're... like we are -- beginning a...a...."
"Relationship?" Angel supplied.
Wesley nodded. "Yes, I suppose that's what to call it. Is it always like this at the beginning of a relationship? With every discussion ending up being about sex?"
He shrugged. "It's not unusual." He looked over to judge Wesley's reaction. "Does that bother you?"
"Not really," Wesley replied, readily enough. "I suppose I'll get used to the continuous blushing in time. It does make holding a normal conversation, where information of a different sort is exchanged, rather difficult though."
Angel grinned to himself at the slightly plaintive tone of that last complaint; he'd already noticed Wesley's curiosity and how he did not take well to having it stifled. He found it endearing, especially in a world where ignorance was held up as the perfect state of being. "We're going to be on the road for almost seven hours, I'm sure we can work some normal information exchanged in there somewhere." He glanced over at Wesley again, something he knew he would be doing whenever he could get away with it. Wesley was a much nicer view than the Exterrestrial highway. "Anything in particular you wanted to exchange information on?"
"Unity," Wesley answered promptly, then before Angel could ask him for specifics, he clarified, "How much further until we get there? I thought that tonight we'd.... but you say we're heading to another safe house -- hopefully safer than the last safe house."
"It is," Angel broke in. "It's manned, so if any enterprising young mages decide to break in, they'll have quite a surprise waiting for them." He grinned at the thought; Lorne may not be much of a fighter, but Angel had seen him bring strong men and demons to their knees when he got pissed enough. He entertained himself briefly by imagining how the mage that had tortured him would have fared if he'd tried to breach the wards in Eureka, but then remembered that Wesley had shot the mage in the head for him and decided in this case reality was much better than fantasy.
Wesley nodded. "Good. I have no desire to repeat our Las Vegas adventure, no matter how pleasing the final outcome may have been."
"No adventure," Angel vowed, holding one hand up. "I promise. There'll be no need for shotgun use. Just warm food, warm beds and, uh, a song or two."
"You've heard the old phrase, 'Sing for your supper'? Lorne -- he's the one in charge of the safe house -- takes that literally." It was the one thing Angel didn't like about stopping at Eureka; he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and he knew it, but Lorne made him sing anyway.Oh, he understood the reasons behind it, but that didn't make it an any more comfortable experience.
Wesley blinked. "So we will have to perform...?" he asked slowly, dubiously.
"Not really perform, unless you're really good and then Lorne will probably ask you to if there's any crowd at all in, but you can say no to that," Angel explained. He of course had never been asked to perform -- had rarely been asked to sing past the first verse of a song. "The part that's mandatory is just singing for Lorne in private."
Wesley took that in, nodded, then asked, "Why?"
"Lorne can read people when they sing. He's the reason why no spy or saboteur has ever made it successfully into Unity." Angel frowned. "I mentioned that already that there would be a checkpoint we'd have to go through, didn't I?"
"No," Wesley replied primly. "I'm fairly certain you haven't."
"Huh. I could've sworn I had. Sorry about that. Well there is and Lorne's it. He has to okay anyone before they're allowed to go on to Unity." He paused as he saw Wesley frowning worriedly. "Something wrong?"
"No, of course not," Wesley replied quickly, but his frown deepened. "When you say Lorne reads people, just what exactly does he read? Emotions? Intent? Thoughts? Memories?"
"A little bit of everything, I think," Angel replied after thinking it over for a moment. He'd never really given the mechanics of what Lorne did much thought beyond the fact that it worked. "He calls it reading destinies, so it seems to be mostly future focused, though he gets most of the past as well."
"I see." Wesley pressed his lips tightly together, and turned to look out the window.
Okay, something was definitely wrong here and it obviously had to do with the idea of Lorne reading Wesely. Angel didn't think it was because Wesley was planning on doing something detrimental to Unity and was afraid of being found out. That might have been a worry when they first met, but since then he'd gotten to know Wesley fairly well, had seen him stripped of pretty much all defenses. He'd stake his life on the fact that Wesley didn't have it in him to be that kind of deceitful.
Some people got freaked at the whole destiny thing, but Angel didn't think that rang right for Wesley either. Wesley didn't seem afraid of the future, not with the way he embraced the idea of building something between the two of them, or with the way he demanded to come along in the first place. If Wesley was afraid of the future, he never would have voluntarily left his library.
So if it wasn't the future, and it wasn't the present that Wesley was uneasy about Lorne reading, that only left the past.
If there was one thing Angel could identify with, it was having a past you wanted left in the past. He didn't like the idea that Wesley's past would carry things dark enough for him to feel the same way, but he understood it. And certainly, there had already been hints in that direction.
"Lorne mostly focuses on intent though," Angel said, as if continuing his previous explanation. "Maybe a little bit of the future, if it pertains to Unity in any way, but that's about it. The rest of what he reads he doesn't share, unless the person he's reading asks him to."
"But he does read more than that," Wesley said softly, not turning from the window. Yep, Angel thought. It was the past that was the problem.
"Yeah. He can't really help it, that's the way it works. But he doesn't judge a person by their past." Angel tried a small smile. "Trust me, I'd be in serious trouble if he did."
"But he'll still know," Wesley whispered, the words barely audible even to Angel's ears.
"But he won't care," Angel shot back. "Wes, I promise you, Lorne's not going to care at all about whatever's in your past that's got you so freaked. No one cares about the past in Unity. That's part of what it's all about -- starting fresh and bulding new. And if for some strange reason, anyone does try to make a fuss over it, I'll... thump them on the head till they stop."
Wesley turned disbelieving eyes towards Angel. "You don't even know what it is."
Angel shrugged. "Don't have to. I just gotta know who you are now. I may not have all the details about that yet either, but I think I got a pretty good start on it." He reached over and took Wesley's hand. "It's going to be okay, Wes. I promise."
Wesley looked down at their joined fingers, silent for a moment. "You called me Wes. Not Wesley but Wes."
So he had. "Yeah, sorry. Old bad habit of giving people nicknames."
"I like it."
Wesley nodded. "Yes. It... If the past doesn't matter where we're going, then maybe I should try and shed it. That was Wesley back then. Who I am now, who I might become... could that be Wes?" Wesley -- Wes -- looked up at Angel again. "Or is that too weird?"
"Not weird at all," Angel replied. It was, after all something he had done himself when he got the soul -- Angelus became Angel to help him believe he could have a new start, a new life. Now Wesley became Wes. If it did the same for him, then Angel was all over the name change.
Angel smiled and changed his grip on Wesl- Wes' hand so it was more like a handshake. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Wes."
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