the pearl

Uneasy Redemption

Angel had developed the habit of walking the hallways at night.

Wolfram & Hart: Los Angeles was, of course, a 24-hour business, and if the Science Division wasn't having an all-night game of Dungeons & Dragons, the Demonic Language Interface group was known to spend a few hours each night recording the language patterns of nocturnal species.

And the security guards preferred to keep a tight lid on everything no matter what time it was.

Despite all that, Angel still patrolled. He liked to start at the top of the building, strolling through each corridor, peeking into each office, noting anything remotely out of the ordinary. Although it had to be stated that Wolfram & Hart specialized in the "out of the ordinary."

He walked through the corridors, making certain each major office had the appropriate little red light on the electronic lock, and, halfway through his excursion, he stopped at the nearest vending machine row, checking the sandwiches, the coffee, the candy bars, and the sodas.

He reached into his pockets, searching for loose change. He checked his coat pockets, his pants pockets, and found nothing. He looked at the soda machine, then knelt down slightly, poking a single large finger into the change slot.

There was a sound from down the hall, causing Angel to look up from the soda machine, frowning. He looked up at the directory on the side of the wall, and frowned deeper. Another rustle, and he stood, his eyes catching "Files & Records" on the listing. He heard the rustle a third time, and began to quietly made his way down, wondering if Files & Records would be actively indexing at this time of night.

He silently opened the door to the archive, and poked his head inside, listening. Files & Records was nowhere to be seen, and the rustling came from one of the many rows of cabinets to the left of her desk. Angel's frown grew deeper, and he counted the rows of filing cabinets in his head, pausing when he heard the rustling again. He stared directly at the tenth row down, a slim long row with the simple plastic sign set upon it with "Personnel" engraved on it.

Another rustle, and Angel stepped down towards it, stopping just before the edge of the cabinet. He peeked over the corner, and his eyes widened in surprise. He stepped into the main walkway, and looked down at the man sitting on the floor. "Wes...?" he said, his voice low.

Wesley looked up. "Angel," he said, his voice rough and scarred. He smiled sharply. "How are you tonight?"

Angel nodded distractedly, looking at the floor around Wesley. Surrounding the man was a large pile of trash, pieces of paper ripped into small confetti-like pieces, shredded into strips, covered in a glue-y green substance that Angel thought resembled Racknar demon blood, and there were several small piles of ashes, each glittering with the scorched remains of staples and paper fasteners.

In the middle of this pile, Wesley sat, his clothing streaked with sludge and ashes, a single open cabinet next to him, and a single file folder in his hand.

"Wes..." Angel said, looking at Wesley's hand, and the thin file clenched tightly in it. "What are you doing?"

Wesley gave a short scoffing laugh, bitter and pained. "Spring cleaning," he said, his hand tightening whitely around the file.

Angel looked at Wesley's face, then back at the file. "Right." He paused, peering at the file without trying to obviously peer at it. "What's that file, Wesley?"

Wesley glanced at the file and shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant. "Just a personnel file. I guessed it was high time to clean it out, you know?"

"Wes..." The unspoken words hung between them, clear to both, but refusing to be said.

Wesley sighed, looking down at the piles of ash and shredded papers, and tossed the file to Angel, refusing to look him in the eye. Angel caught it effortlessly, and quickly glanced at the name at the top of the file.

"LILAH JEAN MORGAN," was printed along the edge. "PERMANENT CONTRACT."

Angel let his arm fall by his side as he looked at Wesley. Wesley refused to match his gaze, instead staring down at one of the piles of ashes and, gently, picking up a scorched black staple and rolling it between his fingers.

"You can do whatever you want to it," Wesley said, his voice flat and dull. "It doesn't seem to make a difference." As proof, he reached into the open drawer and pulled out a file — the identical twin of the one Angel held in his hand.

Angel looked down at the file in his hand, then at the one in Wesley's hand. He tossed the file down onto the floor, and looked at Wesley. "Why?" he asked. "Why her?"

Wesley picked up the file, holding one in each hand and then, slowly, cradling them close to his chest. "It's..." He paused. "It's complicated."

Angel looked up at the ceiling. "Yeah, trying to save your dead-yet-resurrected lover by desperate — and futile — measures." He looked back down at Wesley. "Real complicated there."

Wesley glared up at him and refused to say anything, simply pulling the files closer to him.

Angel sighed. "Wes..." he said, crouching down next to him. "I..." He paused. "Redemption isn't easy. If it could be had by burning a sheet of paper, well..." He shrugged. "And with someone like Lilah, before this whole 'I get to dangle Wolfram & Hart in front of you like a cat toy' thing, she wasn't exactly winning the 'Most Likely To Be Redeemed' competition, was she?"

"Neither were you," Wesley replied sharply.

Angel raised an eyebrow. "What do you want, Wes?" he asked, his voice suddenly weary.

Wesley looked down at the files in his hands, the sheets of paper cutting into his palms, the scent of smoke and slime rising from the floor, and, suddenly, threw the files onto the floor. He got to his knees quickly, reaching for Angel's shoulders, pulling Angel to him and pressing his lips against his.

Angel nearly toppled over with the shift in balance, and the scent of Wesley's skin under the damage seared into his head — the scent of life, blood pumping, heart racing, Wesley's entire body moving and alive. Wesley's stubble scraped against his chin, and his lips — slightly chapped — rubbed roughly against Angel's, scraping the skin until Angel opened his mouth, letting Wesley's tongue slide against his lips, wetting them before slipping in, a warmth he hadn't felt in a very long time.

Wesley's arms dropped from Angel's shoulders, and Angel shifted his weight again, pulling Wesley closer before he had a chance to pull away. He broke the kiss before Wesley could, resting his cheek against the other man's shoulder, listening to his quick breathing that, slowly, inevitably, turned into sobs.

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at