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

If A Lonely Man
By Valancy
For Robin tCJ

There was nothing less beautiful, Wesley thought, than a lonely man trying to pretend he wasn't asking for company. Fred's thoughtless forgiveness - of course it wasn't you who did such things, it was all Billy, come back, everything's fine, nothing to forgive - would have been cruel if it hadn't been so obviously, so casually, well-intentioned. The unsaid is always clearer than the spoken word, untainted by any tongue: of course there is nothing to forgive; I don't care about you enough to be hurt. You could never be frightening. You could never be strong. Even mad, you do not draw my attention.

Screened calls and three days at home, and now the weekend had come calling instead. Gunn, for whatever his reasons, had made no attempts to console him; Wesley even understood, in a way. Gunn was busy making his own apologies, too, of course, though he'd fewer to make, and more, as Wesley understood it, to crow over than hate himself for, noble Gunn with his tame inner monsters. Fred's calls Wesley did answer - easier there, strangely: blank, sad, shamed apologies, laters and thanks yous and tight-throated whispers. It was a ritual, a give and take, that had to be made, however unkind.

But Angel he did not answer. To answer would have been to say that he was fine, that he did not need Angel, that the apologies he gasped out were meaningful. Lies as empty as Billy - and so he did not say them.

The knock on the door came so delicately he almost didn't hear it, even in the pin-drop silence. Only expectation made it audible. Wesley was so accustomed to Angel's little adaptations - didn't move too fast, walk too quietly, smile too perfectly, speak too mysteriously, all as non-threatening as Fred's guileless eyes. Comfortable lies they had all grown so accustomed to - and then his knock, his knock that had forgotten what human ears could hear. Wesley's feet moved gently, softly, to the door, and he wondered how loudly he echoed in Angel's ears.

"Hello," he whispered as the door slid open, and Angel nodded. When had they created this code? Say not what is known, see not what is felt, and remember that the others would not understand them, him-him. How in over two hundred years had Angel not stopped caring what others thought?

Ridiculous, he whispered silently. Of course he cares. This is why he is our - my hero.

This was why Angel could help him.

"Hi," Angel whispered back.

The moment felt blank: who would begin the game? But Wesley had no energy for ambivalent phrases, for shadowed glances. Standing was almost all he had left. He stared blankly at Angel, in a kind of horror: I can't remember how to play, he thought. I can't remember all the things that once came so easily.

Yet, Angel seemed to understand: space melted, Angel's arms folded softly around Wesley; one and then the other, the latter curling round his head to lean Wesley on his shoulder, hands holding him tenderly.

"Did you hear what I said?" Wesley whispered, the leather warming under his breath. "Did you hear the things I said to her?" Angel did not speak. "Do you know what I called her, how I wanted to hurt her?"

No words, but hands, one slipping from his hair down to his neck, the other, to the small of his back, tighter, harder, better. "How do we find atonement, Angel? Where do we find the words that make it better?"

Soft, regretful laughter at that, and then the door was shutting and they were moving with no slow steps to the bedroom. "Bad Wesley," he almost laughed to himself, under his breath and as loud as a storm to Angel, Wesley was sure. Mustn't break the rules, Wesley thought. Mustn't bind his hands.

"What do you expect, Wesley? A wave of a magic wand? She's fine. You're fine." Angel's eyes wandered about the room, his arms shrugged out of his jacket. No pretense, then; but no soft voices either now. "You didn't even hurt her."

"You didn't see." His voice ran sour.

"When you've cut a man to bits and yet let him live for days, when you've raped and tortured and maimed and murdered and kept pieces as a prize - when you've done the unforgivable, Wesley, talk to me then." And then he was there, no steps between, pushing Wesley down, hands on shoulders coolly pressing; but Wesley resisted, and Angel paused. Resistance was new; not seen before. When had that happened, Wesley wondered? Was Angel less, or he more? No - of course. Wesley was less. Touch the monster, lose your innocence. I don't have my card anymore, Wesley thought, and smiled.

"You know what was the worst?" Wesley asked, the question almost unvoiced, his voice pale through his sad grin. "It was what I didn't say. It was - thinking - thinking, how blind she is: she cannot even hear my eloquence. I'm damning her far too intelligently. Fred with her numbers and formulas can't even understand when she's being elegantly dismantled. And I'm still thinking it. I'm still thinking: how could she not notice me, even then? Even threatening her life, and all she says now is 'It wasn't you. Come back to work, old fellow.'"

Angel's fingers ran like a slowly moving waterfall, taking buttons apart and cloth with them as they fell, cool and yet warming, leaving new hot places in their wake. Wesley shuddered, but did not reach out, even when Angel slid down to his side on the bed, lips nipping gently at Wesley's stomach, fingers pulling now at his trousers, begging on his skin.

"You don't seem old to me," Angel murmured. A new voice: different. Quiet. Attention caught, Wesley looked and almost laughed at the man now spread before him: submissive Angel, that elusive animal, once thought native and limited to that faery-tale place called Sunnydale. Submissive and gentle and strangely needy. Wesley's hands ran through Angel's hair: softer than it should be, he thought. He's so much softer than he should be.

"Am I supposed to be cruel? Or kind? Will that wash away our sins, Angel? If I hurt you, if I punish you, if I let our monsters out?" Wesley asked, and he felt the tightening in his groin as the last of his clothes trembled their way to the floor, as Angel's lips traced their way to him. He stopped Angel, turned his face to him, holding him, waiting for his answer: Angel, with his open eyes, with a vulnerability that should have frightened him, or delighted him, but only left him wishing. A fallen Angel, no longer omnipotent. "Will this make me safe?"

"It will make you loved," Angel whispered, and Wesley lost his grip.