by Wolfling

(Rated NC-17


Part 24


Wes did his best to keep a straight face when Angel sang for Lorne, but it wasn't easy to do.

In the short time he'd known Angel, he'd found himself growing quite fond of the vampire's voice. But it was perhaps a good thing that he hadn't heard Angel sing before he'd heard him speak.

Simply put, Angel was a terrible singer. It was obvious that he knew it as well because Wes had never seen him so unenthused about anything, and that included being tortured and the threat of Wes shooting him.

To his credit, Lorne let no reaction show when even Wes was having a difficult time not wincing. He also stopped Angel after about 30 seconds, which was a relief to them all.

"No need to strain yourself, Angelcakes, I've got what I need."

Angel stopped mid-word, looking grateful. "So I'm clear?"

"As the very best Waterford crystal," Lorne replied. "Go see Juan; he'll give you this week's passcard."

Angel nodded. "Be right back then," he said, turning towards the door that would take him from Lorne's office, back out into the lobby.

"Oh and Angel?" Lorne's words made the vampire glance back over his shoulder at them. "Remember what I told our boy Wes here last night? Not so coincidentally all of that is holding true for you too right now."

"Yeah." Angel gave Wes a look and a smile that made Wes feel some cross between warm and positively heated. "Kinda figured that much out on my own."

Wes smiled back, feeling entirely more besotted than he ever thought he was capable of as he watched Angel leave the office.

He still didn't know what to make of this sudden and mutual infatuation; it was completely unlike him to form this deep an attachment -- or any attachment really. Just as it was completely unlike him to be able to engender those types of feelings in someone else.

"Don't try to overthink it," Lorne advised. "That's what gets people into trouble; they take the warm fuzzies and try to analyse and dissect it until all the warmth and fuzziness is sucked right out of it. Take it from me, you're better off just trusting your heart and enjoying it."

"Am I that transparent?" Wes asked with a bemused smile.

"I've heard you sing, bright eyes. You'd be amazed at what can be revealed in a song."

And didn't that bring up the question that had been lurking in the back of Wes' mind when he wasn't fixating over Angel, namely exactly how much had Lorne seen about Wes' past?

Seizing Lorne's comment as an opportunity to try and find out, Wes spread his arms and invited, "Amaze me."

Lorne just looked at him for a minute, as if measuring what he saw in Wes' expression. "You want to know if I saw what happened with your father," he finally said, and it wasn't a question.

Wes nodded, feeling like a cold hand just stroked up his spine; that sentence in itself told him that Lorne did know at least some of it. He searched Lorne's expression in turn, looking for any sign of anger, or hatred or condemnation.

He didn't find any.

In fact if anything Lorne was looking at him with sympathy, which was the last thing he'd expected from anyone who knew what he had done.

"You're carrying around a whole heaping load of responsibility that you never should have picked up in the first place," Lorne told him gently.

Wes shook his head in denial, remembering that moment of horror when he'd realised what he'd done, what he'd caused. "I'm not carrying anything I don't richly deserve," he said in a voice that even he could tell had more in common with the boy he'd been back then than the man he was now.

Lorne continued to watch him closely. "Are you sure that's you talking, cupcake?" he finally asked after a long moment. "And not your father?"

Wes wasn't able to hold back a bitter laugh at that. "I'm sure my father would have insisted that I haven't got nearly all that I deserve." In fact, in his dreams his father often did tell him that, among with a quite comprehensive listing of all of his failings. When he allowed himself to think about it, Wes wasn't sure his father wouldn't have been right.

"I could tell you that you're being too hard on yourself and that what happened wasn't your fault but," Lorne looked at him and sighed, "I'd just be wasting my breath, wouldn't I? You're not listening."

"Would you if you were me?" Wes asked simply. Still, even if he couldn't accept what Lorne was saying, the very act of him saying it did seem to ease something inside him some miniscule amount.

It was barely noticeable among the crush of guilt and responsibility, but still it seemed to make a difference.

"If I were you, I'd listen to what I'm about to say," Lorne told him. "Keep holding onto the past if you have to, but just don't let it take over your present."

"Don't get in my own way, you mean," Wes said, remembering what Lorne had said to him the night before.

"You got it, Bright Eyes." Lorne clapped him on the shoulder then headed to the small bar set up in the corner of the office and poured two glasses of an amber liquid. "Scotch," he said when he came back over and handed one of the glasses to Wes. "Not usually my first choice, but these days you can't be too picky."

Wes took a cautious sip; it burned on the way down, but the taste wasn't overly harsh. "Thank you," he said before taking another, more appreciative sip. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had any alcohol that hadn't tasted like it doubled for paint stripper.

"You do know that you're going to have to deal with what happened eventually though," Lorne said after a moment of silent drinking.

Wes sighed and looked down at his glass. "I know," he said softly. It had always been in the back of his mind, the knowledge that it was going to come up again someday; it wasn't something he could ever walk away from. But not now, not yet, not when he was about to get his first glimpse of Unity -- Angel had told him they'd get there before the next sunrise. And not when he was still trying to figure out what it was exactly that lay between Angel and himself. As things stood right now, he couldn't even imagine telling Angel what had happened, what he'd done.

"I need more time," he said softly. "I'm not ready yet."

"Take the time you need," Lorne told him. "Like I said last night, you've got good instincts. You'll know when the time is right. Just remember, ready or not, when it comes, you'll have to face it."

The words held a weight of truth and somewhere in the back of Wes' mind a clock started ticking down. He didn't know how long was left on it, but when it reached zero, he'd have to finally deal with the consequences of what had happened. It wasn't a pleasant bit of knowledge.

Wes shivered and drained the rest of his scotch.


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