Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

One More Day
By Criss Moody
For James

Wes misses his mother. He doesn't regret being where he is, but he'd rather love sitting down to a civilized cup of tea. Now, it's Christmas, it's Advent, and they'd be putting up the tree. Mother decreed that the tree would go up on the first day of Advent and up it went no matter what got in the way. Snow, an entire house down with influenza, an infestation of Sneata demons, and still Mary Wyndham-Pryce made sure that tree went up.

Decorating the tree came the next day and a young Wesley dreaded this event. Father always sneered at his wife and her common wish to decorate her own tree. But he wasn't stupid enough to interfere or prevent the decorating process. The servants would untangle strings of lights (they'd used real candles until Wes' tenth year, when he crashed into tree in an attempt to escape his bullish cousins), set out the boxes of ornaments, and the various strings of beads and such. Then Mother and he would be left to do the actual decorating.

Using a small step ladder, they would first put on the lights, having tested each one. Wesley inevitably broke on of the tiny blasted bulbs as he tried to replace it, and spent the next 30 minutes whining that it hurt while Mother drew slivers from his fingers. Until he was sixteen, Wesley hadn't been allowed to touch the ornaments from Grandmother Wyndam (Mary's mother, as Wesley's parents were second cousins). They were blown glass globes in every color imaginable. Beautiful, breakable, and precious.

By the time Wesley left home permanently for Oxford, only one of the globes remained. A light emerald green that faded into blue on the bottom of the globe. Mother had blamed him, he'd blamed the whippets Father kept, and Grandmother Wyndam told Wesley that Mary had broken heirloom ornaments in her childhood so he was only keeping up tradition and to not worry about it.

The only part Wes had ever enjoyed about the process was the singing. Mother had the worst voice imaginable but she loved to sing and she adored Christmas Carols. Wes' voice wasn't much better but he would join in and two terribly out of tune voices would fill the study where the tree went. Their favorite was "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." They usually started out with whatever terrible excuse for rock and roll Christmas had become popular that year and worked up to "Gentlemen" and if they were terribly ambitious, bits of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.

Father had one holy task, set down by Mother, and he would grudgingly emerge from his office to fulfill it, placing the delicate gold angel on the top of the tree. Wesley and his mother would sit down with tea brought in by a servant and admire their handiwork.

The first Christmas without Mother was his first year in Los Angeles. He still hasn't gotten used to the palm trees with Christmas lights and the girls in Santa bikinis. Back then, still smarting from Sunnydale and being tossed out of the Watcher's Council, he thought he'd experienced every horror possible. Until, just weeks before he bumbled his way into Angel Investigations, Father sent him a short, email.

Mother dead. No need to come. Cremation and interment tomorrow. Edward Wyndham-Pryce.

Shaking, Wesley phoned Grandmother Wyndam. Yes, Mary had been ill. Hadn't Wesley known? Some kind of cancer, but Mary had been well. She went in her sleep and the servants found her in the morning. Was Wesley coming home?

Grandmother knew nothing and Wesley ended the conversation with excuses of 'too much work' and promises to visit in the new year, provided his employer could spare him. He barely made it to the bathroom before vomiting, the shakes and heaves of his torso perfect companions to the way his head trembled. Nothing else better explained to Wesley his Father's view of his son.

They never spoke again. Of course, if reports are accurate, the Watcher's Council is dust and rubble, along with his Father. It's a dull pang compared to his Mother's loss. Mother was ineffectual, but sweet, loving, but unable to defend her son against the worst of his Father's abuse. But he loved her and he enjoyed decorating those Christmas trees, every year, without fail.

On this Christmas Day, as fire as lay waste to large sections of Los Angeles, and Wesley sits in his apartment, gathering up supplies, Wesley wishes he had one more Christmas with Mother. He would happily sacrifice Angel and the 'cause' for that. He would joyfully execute this man he once loved if Mother could live again. Save that, he'd like just one more day to tell her he loves her and to argue over what to sing next, what ornaments are ugly enough to relegate to the back of the tree, and giggle together over Father's disapproving frown.

One more day would be lovely.

"Wesley, are you ready?" Angel's impatience grates on Wesley's nerves, but he calmly puts the last of his necessaries into his bag.

"Yes, Angel, I'm ready now. To the hotel?"

Angel frowns, rubbing at his right wrist.

"Yeah. Gunn's gone to look for Fred. Do youÉ" Angel hesitates.

Wesley can still predict Angel's next words.

"Lilah is a cat. She'll land on her feet. But I'm sure she'd appreciate your concern." More than a touch of irony there. Angel operates best when things are gray areas don't exist. Sadly, that's all they have now. Apocalypses tend to level the emotional game board.

"Good. Well, not good, but youÉyou know what I mean."

Angel looks so uncomfortable that Wesley is struck with an urge to laugh.

"Angel, I appreciate your concern for my emotional well-being, but I don't love Lilah." That is more than likely a lie. Whatever he feels for Ms. Morgan, she is more than convenient fuck. She's also a lovely alto-soprano, but that is neither here nor there.

"Oh. Right. I guess I just want the people I love to be happy."

"I wouldn't use the present tense if I were you. Could confuse those people that you've tried to kill in the recent past."

A queer smile graces Angel's normally stern visage.

"Wes, I try to kill everybody I love eventually. You just earned yours more than the others. Who said I stopped loving you? It's not my fault that Cordelia, Gunn, and your over-active protective urge got in the way."

Wesley does laugh then, taking deep breaths.

"Angel, I don't know when you grew a sense of humor, but it's eerily pleasant." As they finally exit the apartment, Wes pauses at the lock. Uses his keys to lock the door, though it may not do much good. For now, the building and his books and such can stay safe there, locked away from looters, save for fire and acts of "God." Turning to face Angel, he's a bit shocked to find Angel's lips on his. Warm and familiar, they taste of regret, sharpened by anger.

"Excuse me? When did we start kissing again?" Wesley raises an eyebrow. Angel points up at the mistletoe hanging over Wes' door.

"Isn't that a rule? Kissing under the mistletoe?" Wes shakes his head and follows Angel out of the building.

"You know, the mistletoe was from Lilah."

"For an evil bitch, she has good taste." Angel opens the front door to the building for Wes. He opens the door for Wes and jogs around to the driver's side.

"Funny, she said nearly the same thing about you." This makes Angel smile, but it fades fast. The quips take the edge off the horrors they're facing. For them, gallows humor is not only appreciated, it is encouraged.

When Angel starts up the convertible, Wes hears the bells at St. John the Evangelist ring out.

"Merry Christmas, Angel."

Angel smiles as he puts the car into drive.

"Merry Christmas, Wesley."

Wesley thinks that perhaps he should tell the people he loves about his mother. Say that she was lovely and sweet and hope that they know he loves them. Because sometimes one more day is the last thing that you have.