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

Diversionary Tactics
By Arrie
For Copper

Despite the sense of impending doom that worsened with every word he read, curiosity about the strange noises in the lobby was almost enough to drag Wesley away from his desk. Then a passage in the Henrick Anthology about a 'Destroyer of Men' caught his eye and he went back to his research. He wasn't sure how long he'd been reading when Gunn burst through the door.

"Wes, man, come out here. You've gotta see this." It almost sounded like he was giggling, which, this being Gunn, seemed rather unlikely. Wesley ignored the interruption and attempted to go back to his reading, a much more difficult task now that Gunn had opened the door and amplified all the sounds from outside.

"I just want to finish this..."

"Wes, c'mon. Have you even moved from that chair in the last three days? Actually don't answer that. There could be bathroom issues. Just get out here."

As Gunn was already rounding the desk, presumably to drag him out if he didn't move of his own accord, Wesley dropped his pen with a sigh and stood up. Hearing his knee click as he did so, he had to acknowledge that perhaps he had spent a little too much time in one place. Although, considering what was at stake, who would blame him? Stretching until he felt a slight pop in his neck, he followed Gunn out to the lobby.

Despite the fact that his mind was very much on other things, the sight that met him stopped him in his tracks.

Last time he had paid any attention to the Hyperion's lobby, it had been scattered with the debris of visits from various lawyers and henchmen; vampire cultists; and of course Holtz and his assorted hangers-on. Seeing the way it looked now, Wesley began to wonder if Gunn's three days had been something of a conservative estimate.

Garlands of red and green paper adorned the ceiling. There was a distinctly new looking CD player on the desk, blaring out Frank Sinatra at such a level that Wesley couldn't understand how he hadn't heard it earlier. Cordelia was halfway up the stairs, reaching over the banister to drop a silver and white angel that was nearly a foot tall on top of a Christmas tree that wouldn't have looked out of place in Trafalgar Square or perhaps, this being America, Times Square, while Fred sat on the bottom step, threading popcorn onto cotton and eating as many kernels as she added to her string.

Unexpected though the rush of festive feeling was, it didn't seem sufficiently apocalyptic to have required dragging him away from his books. Then Wesley realised that Gunn's attention was not focused on the decorations. Following Gunn's gaze, he briefly lost all capacity for coherent thought.

Angel was sitting on the floor, Connor's basket next to him, surrounded by boxes and brightly coloured gift wrap, singing along - quietly, thank goodness - to 'White Christmas' and, the piece de resistance, wearing a Santa hat precariously balanced on his head. Even more disturbingly, Connor had a miniature version of the hat, which was obviously too big and gradually slipping down to cover his eyes.

Suddenly the tension that had been building up in his mind as his research pointed to conclusions he couldn't bear to accept reached breaking point. After a couple of vain attempts to hold back the giggles, Wesley gave in and, with a most inelegant snort, burst into the sort of laughter that could quite easily be classed as hysteria.

The others were so engrossed in their work that it took a while for anyone to notice him. But by the time he'd managed to calm down and get his breathing back to some semblance of normal, they were all staring at him. He pushed himself away from the counter that had been fortuitously right behind him when his legs stopped being able to support him and attempted to offer an explanation. But the sight of Angel, puzzled frown firmly in place and topped by a red and white hat with a pom-pom on the end, was too much for him and he was laughing again, and attempting to talk through it

"I'm's just...the hat...and presents...and it's all so..."

"Uh, Wesley, are you planning on forming complete sentences any time soon? Some of us don't speak freak-of-nature." Cordelia had finished her work on the tree and come back down the stairs. As she passed the counter, she turned the volume on the stereo down.

"Hey, I was enjoying that." Angel looked genuinely aggrieved by the loss of the music, and Wesley began to wonder whether he had, in fact, stepped out of his office and into some parallel universe where it were quite normal for vampires to get petulant about their Christmas celebrations.

"Sorry, but I think Santa junior here has had enough of the music. Especially the oh-so-tuneful accompaniment from Santa senior." Climbing over the badly wrapped boxes surrounding father and son, Cordelia picked up Connor's basket and headed for the stairs. "Say goodnight to daddy, Connor."

"Well, I guess it is kind of late. Wouldn't want him to still be awake when Santa Claus gets here. 'Night Connor." Angel waved at the bobbing Santa hat covering Connor's face and turned back to his wrapping.

The lull in the insanity had allowed Wesley to regain his composure and he decided the best approach was just to retreat to his office and hope that he could stay there until calm was restored. Unfortunately, Angel noticed him moving.

"Wes, where are you going?"

"Ah, well, there's a book...and a passage about..." Wesley tried to come up with an explanation that conveyed the urgency of his research without actually having to mention the research.

"Come on, it's Christmas Eve. Is there really anything that won't wait forty-eight hours? I could use some help getting Connor's gifts wrapped." It was clear that Angel really could do with some help. He was currently wrestling with a stuffed bear, a large sheet of wrapping paper and two pieces of sticky tape. From where Wesley was standing, it appeared that the wrapping paper was winning. However, badly wrapped gifts did seem to pale into insignificance next to prophecies about the intended recipient's death, and Wesley needed to get back to his books.

"I think you probably have everything, uh, under control, Angel. Or perhaps Fred could help you." When he looked over at Fred, who was propped against the banister, eyes closed.

Angel was looking at her too. "I think Fred's all Christmas-ed out. Gunn? You mind..."

"Sure, I got it. Night, guys." Gunn moved a little too eagerly for Wesley's liking, shaking Fred awake and leading her up the stairs.

"Wes, don't let me down. It's Connor's first Christmas. You're not going to let it be a disappointment to him, are you? The books aren't going anywhere."

In the face of such emotional blackmail, there was little Wesley could do but give in and resist the opportunity to point out that Connor was unlikely to remember his first Christmas, let alone be disappointed by it. Resigning himself to being away from the books for at least a few hours, he joined Angel on the floor and began trying to repair the damage that had been done to what looked like a roll of fairly expensive gift-wrap.

Even as he cut and folded and stuck down, his mind was on his research, and it took him a few moments to realise that Angel was speaking to him.

"...And Cordy said she's going to do the traditional Christmas dinner, turkey and all the trimmings. I was thinking maybe you could supervise? You know Cordy and kitchens."

"Ah, yes. I'm not really sure I'll have time. Those papers I'm looking at are very -"

"Listen, you have to slow down. I know that you're trying to help Connor, and I really appreciate it, but working yourself into the ground isn't going to do you or him any good. We'll find out what the deal is, but first, I just want to have a good Christmas. The first of many, you know?" In the face of Angel's concern, Wesley felt suddenly drained. He sagged back against the sofa, barely noticing when Angel moved to sit beside him and not even reacting when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Wes, are you okay? Listen, I know things have been a bit crazy, but we're doing okay now. I mean, there are people after us, and that you're trying , but we can get through all of that."

There was something so surreal about being comforted by Angel that Wesley couldn't help but laugh. What came out was actually more like a stifled sob and, embarrassed, he pulled away from Angel and started to get up.

"Wes?" Angel kept his hand on Wesley's shoulder and there seemed little point in competing with vampire strength so he stayed where he was, not even resisting when Angel tugged on him until he was facing the vampire.

"If there's something wrong, you should tell me. I think we've all figured out that bad things happen when we don't talk to each other."

Despite knowing how true that was, Wesley couldn't think of any way to tell Angel what had him so preoccupied. There really was no way to sugar coat 'I think you're going to kill your son'. And watching Angel, who was the happiest Wesley had ever seen him, he knew that he would do anything he could to stop that from happening, to protect Angel from even the possibility of it.

In order to do that, he had to distract Angel from his current line of questions long enough to formulate a plan, and he was far too tired to come up with believable lies. Watching Angel, who was still looking expectantly at him, his face only inches away, he did the only thing that he could think of; leaned forward and kissed him.

As distraction techniques went, it was certainly effective. However, rather than pushing him away and demanding an explanation, the reaction Wesley would have expected had he had time to think this through, Angel returned the kiss. His other hand came up to join the one already holding Wesley's face, and his thumb brushed across Wesley's cheek. For the first time in days, Wesley was not thinking about the books lying open on his desk and he allowed himself to be drawn further into the kiss.

Although Wesley had never let himself consider the matter before, Angel was a better kisser than he would have imagined, and he could quite easily have stayed where he was all night. Fortunately, the muted CD came to an end and the whirring of the stereo in the otherwise silent lobby was enough to nudge him back to reality.

Realising that his plan required more than just a kiss, he pulled away from Angel and stood up. "I'm sorry. That was...I shouldn't have...I should go..."

"Wes? Wait." Angel pulled himself up and followed Wesley into the office, watching as he piled books up and put his jacket on. "Listen, that was...what was that?"

Wesley stopped and stared at him. "That was a kiss, Angel. It was inappropriate, and I'm sorry. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I should go." He picked up the pile of books and walked towards the door, but Angel moved so that he was standing in the way.

"Why do you have to go? Shouldn't we...don't you think we should talk about it?"

"Not really. It was clearly a stupid thing to do, and I think it's best if I work from home for a few days."

"That' shouldn't have to stay away. This is your office. And your books and scrolls and things, they're here. Don't you need them?"

He had hoped that Angel would be so flustered by what had happened that he'd accept Wesley's explanation, giving him a few days to resolve what to do about what he had translated. But Angel's reaction was not what he was expecting. Although clearly, he was right about one thing. Wesley might well need to make use of more than the few books he could carry home and it would make sense to have them all on hand. Dropping the books he had grabbed back onto the desk, he sat down and looked up at Angel.

"Yes, you're right. It's easier to work from here. Now if you'll excuse me, I really do have a lot to do."

Angel was probably offended by the casual dismissal but after holding Wesley's gaze for a few moments he nodded. "Sure, you're busy. I understand. But we should talk, later?"

"We will." As he said it, Wesley was certain it was true. There had been something more in those kisses than a diversionary tactic, and he realised that he wanted to see where it might go. There would be plenty of time for that later. First, he had to come up with a way to make sure that the events in the prophecy he had translated didn't come to pass.