Man! challenge in a can Man!





Nothing Of It
Twinkledru J.

I'm on the outside, I'm looking in
I can see through you, see your true colors
Inside you're ugly, ugly like me
-Stained, "Outside"

I know that you're weak
I know that you want me
Lover don't speak
Let me in
-Melissa Etheridge, "I Wanna Come Over"

It's dark by now, as is generally the standard procedure when night rolls around.

Some ancient tome or other sits in his lap, the same page open for the past few minutes without him so much as glancing down at it.

The air is heavy. He can feel it, even though his windows are closed and it's a dry night in LA. It feels almost humid in here, that damn heat that tricks you into believing it's the cold and manages to make you shiver although it is, in actuality, a good deal over seventy-five.

Would a little rain be too much to ask for?

A little water, to just rinse a few things out of the air, maybe rinse a few things out of the air around him.

He could do it, of course. It's a simple enough matter, summoning a few clouds. And it wouldn't even need much justification; the farmer's markets would benefit from it...

But that would be too easy, wouldn't it?

And deep inside, he knows it's going to take a good deal more than a few drops of rain to wash these things away.

And perhaps that's appropriate.

As though someone might have heard him (but that's probably too much to hope for - or maybe it was too much to hope for that they might let his ohsoresponsible decision go unpunished), there is a teasing little breeze outside, and the windchimes which were left outside of his door as a clumsy gesture of housewarming by a two-hundred-year-old vampire (he hung them up outside his window, hoping the delicate wood the chimes were suspended from would be safe in this city) give a light twinkling noise, the faintest little five-note-interlude which damn damn DAMN distracts him from this fascinating reading once again.

Snaps the book closed finally (who is he kidding, anyway?) and storms over to the window. He roughly yanks the chimes down from the rotting windowbox and slams the window closed.

The chimes seem to give tiny gasps/sobs/godknows as he emits a nearly identical strangled noise somewhere in the vicinity of "gargh" as a splinter from the crudely carved claddagh on the wooden disc from which the metal pipes hang catches in his thumb.

He drops the chimes, and they fall to the ground with harsh clunks of six different pitches. The injured digit flies to his mouth, and he sucks slightly on the sting and heads for the bathroom to find a pair of tweezers.

He's perched on the sink, squinting against the harsh light, digging and trying to get at the tiny sliver of wood when another breeze rushes through the flat.

And he feels that unmistakeable presence maybe a foot behind him. Careful. Almost afraid. Of him. That thought was one of the funniest he'd heard in days, which probably just went to show precisely how depressing his life was.

"I'm sorry to disturb you," Angel says quietly.

"Mmm," Wesley replies succintly, still intent on pulling out the splinter.

"Any luck with that prophesy?"

"Mm-mm," Wesley answers, vagely tilting his head this way and that to indicate that no, he's been too damn distracted by the non-heat and the chimes to think straight, much less translate a few dull references to a maybe-demon who might kill a few frogs up in Seattle the third week of May.


There's a few moments of silence, during which another gust, this one stronger and definitely scented of rain, wends past them.

Past him, at least.

And the chimes improvise another piece.

That stops him. The tweezers fall to the ground and he shoves past Angel, to see them hanging outside of the window once again.

"I - they were on the ground, I thought they might have fallen," Angel says, a tiny, almost imperceptible note in his voice that - in Wes's mind, at least - seems to beg him to say "yes, that's right, they just fell, 'cos after all, I just forgive and forget". Or perhaps a note which challenges him to tell the truth.

He plays it safe and says nothing, just slams the window shut once again, so hard that its frame rattles. A few more like that, he knows, and he's going to have to pay for more glass.

"Was there anything else you wanted, Angel?" For what feels like the first time in ages, his voice is stony. Low, rough, and totally impenetrable.

Angel is silent, as per usual.

"If you'll excuse me," he says calmly, brushing past Angel and heading back, because irritating the splinter only seems to have made it hurt worse and the thumb gives a low, warm throbbing with each heartbeat. He glances down at it, and sure enough, a small drop of blood is welling up. Without thinking, he wipes it on his black jeans and it stings a bit more.

Maybe it's the last lingering vestiges of the wind, but Angel seems to catch the slightest sniff of the blood, for there comes from his direction the tiniest little throat-noise, not nearly a growl but not to be mistaken for a purr by any means. More an enthusiastic exhalation than anything else. The noise sends the tiniest shiver down his spine, because he knows that sound, and that's the sound of a predator catching that first whiff of his prey.

He stops dead in his tracks and turns slowly.

"Angel, if there's nothing else-"

The empty look on Angel's face distracts him momentarily. Not 'empty' as in bereft or sorrowful by any means. Blank. Devoid of anything.

A look which means instinct has taken over.

It lasts for only a couple of seconds, and Angel seems to realize that Wesley has spoken again.


"If there's nothing else..."

", I, I don't think so, I..." he trails off again, and, after a moment, turns slowly.

"Sorry to bother you," he says quietly.

And he's heading for the door and his hand is on the knob and now would be the time to call after him if he were going to.

And the door falls shut, of course, because he won't speak, of course.

And he could still call out, and there's still a change that Angel might come swooping back in here and grab him up and carry him into the bedroom and ravage him.

But of course he's not going to do that, because this is so much more complex.

And the complexities of life are what's going to kill him. He realizes this as he slumps against the wall, closing his eyes. The sting seems so much more acute now, as he slides slowly to the floor and finally crumples into a vaguely Wesley-shaped pile.

Another gust of wind comes along, and the chimes begin again, landings-and-reliftings of various shades of blue on the colorless canvas of consciousness.

And through it all, the slighly orange throb- slash-sting of his thumb and the reddish throb- slash-sting of his desire.

So he is almost grateful when this movement is ended by the dark purple growl of thunder and the rain begins to splatter upon his window and rinse the canvas clean, even though he knows that in the end, it will only become the same washed-out red which colors his existence now.

Wesley. Grateful. Rain.

Man! challenge in a can Man!