Ships That Cross



Many thanks to Elementalv and Phendog for beta reading this story.


The flight from L.A. to London was held within a succession of hours that slid and ground, greasy and grating, in an interminable nightmare from which he couldn't awake. The bump of landing jarred him without freeing him from the grey fog he was wrapped in; the unexpected sunshine and refreshing splashes of winter-green grass, still brighter than any colour the city he'd left behind could muster, did nothing to lift him.

When he realised, dully, that he was clinging to despair as a child to a ragged blanket, precious for no other reason than that it's his, he tried to shake free of it. No comfort, no, none, not even the comfort of delusions.

Because Wesley had tried to kill his father, he had succeeded remarkably well at that, and somehow he didn't think that would meet with his father's approval, any more than anything else he'd ever done in his life. There was that to be said for consistent disapproval: he'd learned to expect nothing else, and his father never disappointed him.

He dealt with Customs, luggage and the cheerful impertinence of a London cabby and made his way to the new offices of the Watchers' Council, feeling as if he'd reached, not journey's end, but the foot of a glass mountain he had to climb.

"I'd like to speak to Rupert – to Mr Giles," he said to the smooth-faced woman behind the reception desk.

"Mr Giles?" She pursed her lips, discreetly made-up in a way Quentin Travers would have deplored. "Might I ask the nature of your business, Mr -?"

"My name is Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, and I'm –"

"An ex-Watcher," said a vaguely familiar voice behind him.

Wesley turned and stared at the tall man behind him, a man he'd last seen briefly in L.A., when the rag-tag army of Slayers had arrived, recuperated, and left as abruptly as they'd arrived. He'd done no more than exchange a few words with Xander, shocked by the loss of his eye as he hadn't been by the news of the casualties, because they were, for the most part, just names to him, although Anya's death had sparked a faint melancholy based mainly on a shared exchange of glances in the library when Giles had been particularly condescending to them both within the space of a single sentence.

"I don't really define myself that way," Wesley said slowly. "But, yes," he turned back to the receptionist, "I – I belong here."

"Matter of opinion," Xander said in a cool voice, adjusting the patch over his eye in a gesture that was oddly familiar. It wasn't until he'd done it a third time that Wesley realised it was Xander's equivalent of Giles' frequent polishing of his glasses.

"Well, if it comes to that, do you belong here?" Wesley countered. "Or do you think you've achieved by proximity what Willow dispersed so lavishly? Do you think you're special now?"

Xander gave him a long, steady look and turned away. "Giles is out," he called over his shoulder to Wesley, who had been left abandoned by the reception desk. "Come back when you've got an appointment."

Wesley watched him walk away and realised that he was angry and it felt so very good he didn't want to lose it; as a respite from grey, red was remarkably invigorating.

"I'm afraid you'll have to leave now –"

"No."

Wesley scooped up his bags and then dropped them again as two security guards appeared, staring at him in silence.

"Oh, for the love of God –"

***

I'd like to say it wasn't his ass I was staring at all the way across the reception area, but that'd be a lie and I'm done with those. The little ones, anyway.

He was wearing a jacket just long enough to cover it but he leaned forward to emphasise a point he was making to Joan, who wasn't going to care, and suddenly, I was back in the library at Sunnydale, sneaking a sidelong, appraising look at the spare curve of Wesley's ass and wanting to kick it so badly my leg was trembling.

Giles had done it for me, slicing and dicing Mr W-P until he'd flushed and stammered his way to the door, giving me a filthy look because I was smirking wide enough to swallow a banana sideways, loving that he'd been shown up.

All because of Cordelia.... and the joke was on us both, because she'd wiped her feet on him the same way she had on me.

Didn't exactly want to kick his ass now though, did I? No. And it wasn't just because he'd lost every chance to ever be Giles' blue-eyed boy, just like me.

Because my eyes are brown, and hey, look, count 'em. One. Didn't take long, did it? But Wesley's one, count 'em, two baby blues weren't going to help him either.

Wesley was evil now. There'd been, like, a memo about it.

And he'd come to see Giles which was... interesting. Yeah.

I let him try to hurt my feelings and walked away, counting under my breath. I'd got to twenty-three when the first shot rang out from the gun I'd spotted under his jacket, thirty-six by the time he joined me.

"Do I have to maim people to get an appointment these days?" he asked, and his cool was splintered enough that I could see a bit of the old Wes underneath, an 'r' word away from a stammer, a cruel word away from a swiftly-ducked head.

Although I don't think he was as unpredictably violent back then...

"No. Just have to be someone we want to see," I said, watching him carefully.

"How do you know you don't?" he countered, just as the corridor filled with people looking pissed off and scared which, speaking as someone who spent every waking hour in that state before I stopped having anything to be scared of, I knew wasn't a good combo.

"Back off," I ordered. "Unless he killed someone firing his gun like that." I raised an eyebrow and felt the twinge of stretched skin around the empty socket. "Did you?"

"Only a begonia," he answered with a dry smile beginning to show. It vanished abruptly as if he'd just noticed it was there and then he was back to being stone-faced and grey.

"Then I think we can do the backing-off really fast," I said and yeah, I cheated and used the quiet voice, the one that's short for adding, 'I faced down the armies of hell beside The Once and Future Slayer and you really don't want to fuck with me' to the end of every sentence. Doesn't work on anyone who was there that day we closed the Hellmouth and it made Giles laugh so hard he sprayed tea over his desk when I tried it on him, because he's known me too long and I learned it from him anyway, but other people, yeah, think it inspires some dread.

They melted away on dune and headland – stop snickering – I spent my formative years in a library, remember – and I was left staring at Wesley, who was staring at me and doing it twice as well because – look, am I mentioning the eye thing too much? Is it freaking you out a bit?

Suck it up and deal. I'm the one with the hole in the head.

"Wesley, something tells me you're not going to fit in around here."

He looked around at bland, featureless walls that screamed 'new' and shrugged. "I'm accustomed to that but I'm really only here on a visit. A fleeting visit. Is Giles really unavailable, or are you the person entrusted with protecting his privacy?"

Could he have trivialised me any more in a single sentence? Doubt it... and he wasn't even trying. He'd said it in this absent-minded murmur, not even glancing at me with his two – oh, right, you don't want me to mention that. Sorry – not even glancing at me to see if I would go pale, stagger back and burst into tears.

Which was good, as I hate to disappoint people and I think it was more of a tolerant sneer at his ignorance that ended up on my face, because I do way more than that these days. Way more.

Hero, remember? Wounded, bereaved... oh they just don't get any more heroic than me! And heroes don't get to be office boys, now do they? Don't be silly.

"Wes, I wouldn't lie to you, old buddy, old pal –" Did that count as two lies, or three, I wondered? Memo to self; don't use tautology if you want to be accurate about your minor transgressions at the end of the day. "Giles is out for the day. In fact, and you didn't hear this from me, he's in Europe."

"We're standing in Europe," Wesley pointed out, proving he was still pretty fast on the uptake. "Be more specific. When do you expect him back?"

"Two questions there, Wes, and I only promised to answer one."

He frowned. "Actually, I don't recall you promising anything."

We stared at each other after that and we were both frowning because, honest-to-God, I don't think either of us trusted our memories enough to swear we were right....

"Whatever," I said grandly. "He's not here, he's nowhere you can get to him at this time of day, and he hates you even more than he used to, so what's the point?"

See? This is why I should lie more, not less. He flinched and sighed, air seeping out of him slowly in a long exhale. "I – I'd hoped he would help me," he said, sounding wretched. "I didn't –"

"Come back to my place," I said. "You don't look well." Gotta control these impulses to help. No, really. Never ends well. Not that I was helping Wes, of course... In fact, thinking about it, I was kinda proud of the way I reacted once I saw him and found out he wanted to see Giles. I didn't 'act without sufficient willingness to take responsibility' then did I? I don't think so! No, I saw the threat and I neutralised it, just like that, smooth as butter...

"I – what? Your place, Xander? I'm not sure –"

I held up my hands casually, trying to look as if I didn't care one way or another. "Fine. Just don't blame me if you get run over because you've been away too long to remember the way the cars move in Merrie Olde England."

He tilted his wrist and gazed at his watch, eyes not working well enough to take in what he saw. Jet lag explained some of his slipped sideways feel, I guessed, but not all of it. Man looked half-dead.

"Very well." He peered at me and I wondered if the watch had stopped working after being on the receiving end because it was this freaky-ass intense look and it scared me. "That's very kind of you."

"Nah." I led him out the back way for reasons that didn't have much to do with not wanting to give Joan a chance to get her hands on him – she'd liked that plant he'd put holes in. "I don't do kind anymore."

***

The car reeked of stale fish and chips and cigarette smoke – neither of which matched Wesley's perception of Xander, who'd never smoked and was the sort to cling to his own nation's food in the middle of the Gobi desert.

But the keys had been pulled from Xander's pocket and he didn't wipe the neck of the half-drunk bottle of water wedged between the two front seats before draining it in a series of slightly noisy, careless gulps that left a trickle of water edging from the corner of his mouth.

Transfixed, Wesley watched the thin stream trace a path across tanned skin, caught up in the passage of the liquid as it obeyed gravity and fell. When Xander tossed the bottle over his shoulder and licked absent-mindedly at his lips, rubbing at his damp skin, he jerked awake from the haze and blinked in confusion.

"I'm sorry. I don't think –"

"Jet lag," Xander said cheerfully. "And I'm guessing you haven't slept –" His eyes narrowed, "Or eaten, for a while. Frankly, old man, I've seen you look better."

"That's a terrible attempt at an English accent," Wesley said drowsily, resting his head against the window and enduring the irregular bump of his head against the glass as the car dealt with the many potholes in the road.

A hand reached out and pulled him upright. "Your attempts at knocking yourself out are getting on my nerves," Xander said. "And, just for the record, you've been away too long to judge. I got mistaken for English just the other day."

"Not by an Englishman," Wesley said definitely and closed his eyes.

He revived a little when Xander ushered him into a small but comfortable apartment and produced a passable cup of tea.

"This is very kind of you," he said, feeling that he'd said it before but it bore repeating.

"I think you should go to bed now," Xander said from far, far away.

Wesley peered at him. "I'm not sleepy." Wetness seeped through his trousers and scalded his knee as his grip on the mug of tea slackened. "Oh, bloody hell, I'm sorry!"

"Not-sleepy people can generally manage to hold a mug upright," Xander pointed out. He stood up and in a remarkably short space of time, Wesley was lying down in Xander's bed, with his cheek pressed against a pillow as cool as the window, but more yielding.

It wasn't where he'd expected to be but the sounds of Xander puttering about, presumably mopping up the tea he'd spilled and then settling back, flicking on the TV were very....

"Wake up," Xander said in his ear.

"Why?" he mumbled, stretching out and –

"Because you're about to come and I think you should be awake for that."

Xander's hand tightened in a reassuring squeeze around Wesley's cock, pumped it three times and Wesley came gracelessly, mouth hanging open, shocked into silence.

"Hmm," Xander said. "Somehow that didn't take as long as I'd expected. But you missed the good bits."

"Good -?"

"You were a lot more encouraging in your sleep," Xander told him. He leaned across Wesley to grab some tissues from a box on the night table, which meant he was half-lying on him, his skin smelling of sweat and come which was both arousing and nose-wrinkling at one and the same time. Wesley felt grubby, sticky and confused.

He lay still as Xander cleaned them both up with deft, efficient swipes, getting a tissue stuck on the damp head of Wesley's cock and chuckling to himself as his attempts to peel it off resulted in failure.

"Sorry," he said, balling up the shreds of tissue and tossing them onto the floor. "A shower'll take care of it, though."

"Xander-"

"You're not gay, I took advantage of you, I'm not gay either, what the fuck is going on and what time is it?" Xander paused. "Anything not on the list you want to say?"

Wesley considered it in silence. "Might I have a cup of tea? If I promise not to spill it?"

"You remember that, do you?" Xander asked, getting out of bed. Wesley's gaze took in the evidence that his own climax had been a solitary one and cleared his throat. "I feel as if I should be offering to reciprocate," he said, "but that's probably just good manners speaking as I don't really consider myself to have been an entirely willing participant in what just transpired."

"God, Wes, you're reverting," Xander said. "In fact you sound more uptight than you did in Sunnydale and I didn't think that was possible. Lighten up. I'll take care of this myself."

"After you put the kettle on?" Wesley asked.

"Don't push it."

The lingering sense of unreality joined the froth of soap washing down the shower drain and after Wesley had eaten a breakfast that consisted mostly of piece after piece of toast, buttered and piled high with fluffy scrambled eggs, the word around him snapped into focus.

Which was when he started to cry, shoving his plate aside and not bothering to cover his face because as soon as the hoarse, gulped sobs began, Xander's chair had scraped back and he'd left the kitchen without a single glance back.

Wesley got to the point where the tears stopped being a guilty pleasure – tears were for girls, weaklings and no son of mine will ever – and became an annoyance, and stopped, standing up and heading towards a roll of kitchen paper. The splash of cool water on his face helped a little, although the tight headache from the tears and his clogged-up nose was still tiresomely there.

"You can come back now," he said, not bothering to raise his voice.

Xander appeared in the doorway. "I didn't really go."

"I know."

"Want to share?"

"Not really. Rather do this -"

Wesley walked over to him and kissed him. Xander was about his height, which made it easy, and he didn't flinch, jerk his head aside or place his nose just where it would get bumped into, which made it even easier. What he did do was co-operate with moderate enthusiasm until Wesley's tongue curled inside his mouth and then he made a small sound of pleasure and grabbed a solid handful of Wesley's arse.

That felt familiar for some reason and connected with what had, he supposed, taken place before he woke up.

"Now you can reciprocate," Xander said in his ear before biting down on it not very gently. "If you want."

"I do," Wesley assured him. "And, within reason, any way you like."

Xander's fingers hooked into Wesley's belt and he allowed himself to be towed towards the bedroom again.

"What I'd like is to fuck you," Xander said. "Your ass and I need to get acquainted.Thought that for a long time now."

"That's fine," Wesley said, reaching for his belt buckle and working it free, "but please don't ask me to believe that you viewed me with anything but loathing for 98% of our... acquaintance." He considered what he'd just said. "Or am I making an unwarranted assumption? Should the figure be higher?"

"Let's pretend you didn't," Xander told him. "And, no. More like 20% loathing, followed by 70% indifference once you left town."

"And the remaining percentage?" Wesley asked, dropping his shirt to the floor and running his hand over his stomach to stroke his hardening cock in an automatic gesture.

Xander gave him a knowing smile and joined Wesley in a state of nudity. "Let's explore that."

Exploring contained some awkward moments; Wesley suspected Xander hadn't done this before, or not very often, and he took some parts far too fast, and missed out on others altogether. Still, there came a point when both of them found a certain rhythm and Wesley found himself making the hoarse, guttural noises that lead up to an orgasm with self-consciousness or intent.

Xander's hands were warm on his hips, and his cock – tidily-sheathed and slicked, after Wesley's gritted-teeth howl of protest, until it practically dripped, was sending waves of interesting sensations around Wesley's body, racing past his hands, flat against the covers, his toes, which were starting to curl and clench in anticipation, bypassing his brain entirely, and finding a home in his own cock which was starting to want more stimulation than it was getting, which was none.

Cursing under his breath, Wesley transferred his weight to his left hand, reached back and awkwardly grabbed at Xander's hand, pulling it around and hoping he'd get the hint. He did. Xander adjusted to the demands of their new position remarkable well and threw in a kiss that landed at the base of Wesley’s neck and made him shudder, which made Wesley’s arse clench, in turn causing Xander to moan and speed up and strip Wesley’s cock without any signs of clumsiness at all.  

Wesley lost control shortly after, crying out and coming in a series of urgent pulses that left him sagging forward weakly while Xander slapped his wet hand back where it had been and grunted in time with a series of fiercely serious thrusts that left Wesley feeling cored and bored and indecently satisfied, all things considered.

They rolled to their backs, dealing with the mundane details of clean-up immediately as post-coital cuddles weren't, by mutual consent, going to happen.

"Thank you," Wesley said eventually. He wasn't certain that gratitude was only owed by him – Xander had fucked him with a rawness of desperation that suggested it'd been a long time for him since the last time – but he needed to say it.

"Welcome," Xander said in an exhausted croak.

"Might I ask –"

"No."

"Ah."

"Why do you want to see Giles?"

Wesley froze, his hand suspended as a pleasantly satisfying scratch at the top of his thigh was derailed. "You want to know, but you don't need to, I assure you."

"Do you know what I do?" Xander asked. He didn't wait for an answer. "I'm Giles' right-hand man. Trusted and loyal and dependable and all that shit. With him gone –"

"Yes, tell me, just exactly where –"

"With him gone," Xander repeated, "I'm it. The head honcho. Numero uno. So tell me."

"No," Wesley said without thought or volition. "It's private."

"I knew you'd fucked him," Xander said bitterly.

***

It's not as if I hadn't expected it. Not as if I hadn't known. They'd hated each other, bickered and squabbled in their English way, making 'pass the sugar, please', sound like another way of saying 'pistols at dawn' or 'your place or mine?'.

Cordy. Me. Do I have to explain why I could see the ooze of sexual tension from one end of the library stacks, in just that place where there's a clear line-of-sight through to Giles's office, small enough that, yeah, sure, it could be a reason why he and Wes were standing that close, but somehow I don't think it was.

Not with where Giles had his hand anyway.

Sorry. Lost it in the middle of that sentence, didn't I? From one end of the library to the other. Yep. So doing it. Definitely, for sure, certain.

But until Wesley gave that peculiar gulp and his eyes bugged out, I hadn't been bet-my-life-on-it certain.

Now I was and I knew I'd been right to get him here, away, before Giles found a place for him, an empty seat for that ass of his that both of us, yeah, Giles, both of us, had had.

"Do you know how often I begged him to fuck me?" I demanded.

Wesley gave me this supercilious – yeah, you're around people like him and Giles for long and words like that sort of force themselves on you, know what I mean? – stare and said, "Never. He would have mentioned it."

I grinned, conceding the point. "Well, yeah, if it has to be aloud to count, then I never did... but I was dropping hints all the time. All the time."

"Giles would never –" Wesley began but I wasn't prepared to discuss why I wasn't good enough for Giles but the guy who was had bent over for me, ass up, cheeks spread. Didn't want to spoil the glow of seeing Wesley's hole pucker up and blow me a kiss. Didn't want to think about what Wes being here meant and the timing, the fucking, insulting timing of it–

***

"What hurt you the most in your life, Wes?"

It was late afternoon, he still hadn't said word one about why he was thousands of miles from where he was supposed to be – like I didn't know! - and he'd had a second shower and number 39 from the menu of the Indian takeaway on the corner, walking in with me and walking back without trying to escape – no, without trying to – I wasn't keeping him – no, he wanted to be with me. He did.

"I'm sorry?"

He looked all kinds of wary now, and I gave him my best not-scary smile and went to sit beside him on the couch.

"I want to fuck you again," I said.

He shifted where he sat and winced to get his point across. "I'm a little too sore for that," he said without a trace of embarrassment. "You were... rather more forceful than I'm used to."

Put like that, it could've been a compliment, could've been a slam. I decided to leave it. "You can fuck me, if you like."

"Thank you, but I'd rather talk to you," he said, which kinda surprised me. "This hurt- are we talking physical? Emotional? What?"

"Physical," I decided. "It's easier to measure."

"I'm not sure about that," he said. "The pain of having a tooth drilled without benefit of anesthetic was well-nigh unbearable to my seven-year old self, but I think it scarcely compares to the bullet wound I got a few years ago; by whose standards do I go by? The seven year old, or –"

"Why can't you ever give me a straight answer?" I demanded, feeling the rage lift my hand and squeeze it into a fist. "I'll tell you. My eye. Having my fucking eye gouged out as I writhed and flopped around like a hooked fish. Feeling it split under his nail, feeling the slime and blood trickle down my face and into my wide-open screaming mouth. Feeling –"

"Xander..." he whispered and he was there, shoulder to lean on, hand to pat my back, low, English voice soothing in awkwardly perfect phrases as I wept the best I could.

Not very and not for long.

"Now we're even," he said gently. "And –" He came to a decision. "I don't know why I'm saving this up to tell Giles. Pointless really. It's just that – a couple of days ago I –"

The tale he spun of robot fathers, guns that drilled holes in same, ninja attacks and magic sticks, well, it all seemed perfectly normal to me. Hey, I'm from Sunnydale, remember. And I had an asshole of a dad myself, so I could totally sympathise with why old Wes had kept squeezing that trigger until the gun was empty, the first chance he'd had to do it to the bastard. And a pretty girl you love in peril? Don't get better excuses than that.

Not sure I'd have puked afterwards though. And I still wasn't sure I believed him because if I did, then it meant, oh, a lot of stuff I didn't want it to.

"So you're all in shock. I get that," I said. "But you checked up on your dad and he's fine. No harm, no foul and maybe it did you good. Exorcized some demons, yeah?"

He waved his hand impatiently. "Yes, possibly so. But really, Xander, that's not the point. Someone in the inner echelons of the Council must have provided those details, or been unforgivably careless –"

"And they're more than likely dead," I interrupted. "This was the sort of plan that gets filed under 'long-range'; must have been dreamed up before the old Council went kerblooie."

"Not necessarily," he said, looking contemplative. "But that's of secondary importance."

"Huh?"

He sighed. "They made one duplicate of my father," he explained patiently. "How do I know there aren't two? Or three? How do I know I spoke to my real father on the phone? They – it – fooled me at close-range; simplicity itself to do it when all I could hear was a voice. An irascible, impatient, scornful voice..."

"You don't," I said unwillingly beginning to accept he was sincere because no one could sound that pitiful unless they were. "God, Wes, that's awful. So you came to check in person?"

"And to alert Giles," Wesley said. "I hardly liked to entrust it to a phone call, or an email, for obvious reasons." He frowned. "Look, Xander, I really do need to speak to him. It was silly of me not to tell you earlier, I see that, but now that I have, and you appreciate the urgency of this, surely you can give me a number I can reach him on to arrange a meeting?"

"I really can't," I said with an apologetic grimace. "He's out of touch and that's all I can say."

"I see." Wesley nodded slowly. "I was right," he said.

"About what?" I said casually, matching his conversational tone of voice.

"I told Angel that they targeted me because I was weak, and Giles thinks so too, doesn't he? That's why he won't see me. Did he know-? Oh God, did Angel tell him -?"

"Angel knows you're here?" I asked.

"Not that I know of." Wesley gave a small smile. "But it'd be like him to keep tabs on me. He was concerned you see; told me to take some leave, get over it."

"He sent you away," I said. "You weren't good enough any more, so he sent you away."

"I don't –" Wesley's forehead furrowed. "I don't think so," he said doubtfully. 'There's something odd about the way he looks at me, the way he acts... I can't quite put my finger on it."

I watched him stroke his thumb across his neck, following a patchy strip of reddened skin and realised he'd been doing it over and over since I first saw him.

"I know why it's happening to me," I confided. Wesley blinked and I tapped the patch over my eye. "Oh, come on! Isn't it obvious? What, are you blind?" I snickered, but he didn't join in.

"You're being sent away?" he asked quietly. "Where to, Xander?"

"Africa!" I hooted with laughter, the same way I had when Giles first mentioned it. "To locate new Slayers. I mean, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it? I speak the language, know the customs; I'll fit right in..."

"I'm sure he's sending you there because he trusts you to do a good job," Wesley said.

"No! I was doing a good job being his deputy, being his second-in-command. A really good job. I don't know why – well, I thought I knew why, but if you didn't come here because he asked you to –"

"I haven't spoken to him for years, apart from briefly when you all came to us in May," Wesley said impatiently. "We really aren't involved in any way, Xander, but I do need to speak to him in his role as head of the Council. So where is he? Where is Giles?"

"You keep asking me that." I giggled, hearing how nervous it sounded. "What, do you think I bashed him on the head and he's shoved into a cupboard somewhere?"

God help us, the idiot actually glanced around and gave a not-very-subtle sniff at the air. "No," he said finally.

"Thank you," I said, making the sarcasm stand out in bold. "Good to know."

"But it's killing you that he doesn't want you with him, isn't it?" he said gently, getting an 'ah!' look on his face. "Because every time he looks at you he sees someone he failed. One of his children he didn't keep safe –"

"We were not his fucking children!"

"No," Wesley said. "I suppose not. But even so."

I reached out and took the hand that was already on its way to hold mine. "I don't want to go, Wes."

"I know," he whispered. "But wouldn't staying be worse? Watching his face close up and get cold as you came up to him, hearing the impatience in his voice as he corrected you, the clear and present desire to be wherever you are not, and never, ever to be alone with you –"

"Who are we talking about here?" I demanded.

Wesley shook his head and gave me a grin, false and brittle and familiar. "No one important, isn't that right?"

"If that's the way you want it to be," I agreed.

We sat in silence and then he stood up. "You'll tell Giles what he needs to know? When he gets back from –"

"He was there all the time," I said with a sigh. "And even if I hadn't booked today as personal time because I was planning to get some errands done before I leave, he wouldn't have noticed I wasn't there."

"I think you're wrong about that," Wesley said tentatively.

I gave him a look. "Yeah. And after the trauma you went through, Angel made damn sure he knew where you were so he could come visit you, be a pal, right? Or did he let you leave the country without even lifting his hand to wave goodbye?" I made a rude noise. "We're rejects, Wes." I stood up and handed him his cases.

"And even we don't want each other."

It was the perfect line for him to exit on, but he had to spoil even that by staying for one final fuck so when he really left, he left me wanting him to stay.


4/1/05


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