Disclaimer: The usual stuff. They aren't mine... blah, blah, blah....

Blood Simple
by Elaine Walker (dueslash at clear.net.nz)

Summary: Wes is poisoned and finds an interesting antidote.

Spoilers: Set sometime between Parting Gifts and She.

Rated: NC-17


The world smelt of dust and oil, and – Wesley sniffed cautiously – something rotten. Anise, perhaps. He'd never smelt rotten anise, but he thought it would smell like this. He opened his eyes a little, trying to remember what had happened before he'd woken here, but there was nothing, not the slightest shred of any memory that would explain his current situation.

"Well, 'bout time you woke up." The voice was rough, and somehow familiar.

Wesley opened his eyes fully. The face hanging above his was human, but that brought little reassurance. It wasn't a very friendly face. He smiled weakly. "Oh. Hello."

A growling sound drew Wesley's attention. A Lughasa demon, probably. Grey, knobbly skin, yellow eyes and a crest of springy black hair. Wesley tried desperately to remember what he'd read about Lughasa demons. Most of the time they were peaceful enough, but they had been known to engage in ferocious vendettas. He could only hope that he hadn't been caught in the middle of one of these. The Lughasa demons had no compunction where bystanders were concerned.

"He wants you to help his friend." The man nodded over his shoulder towards a table with a long, burly figure lying on it. "He's been poisoned."

"Well… uh…" Wesley swallowed. "I'm not exactly a doctor…" Another growl from the demon silenced him for a moment. He smiled unconvincingly. "Why don't I see what I can do?"

The human dragged him to his feet and pushed him towards the table. It was another Lughasa demon, but this one had livid green patches on its skin, the yellow eyes were dull, and the crest of hair hung limply to one side. As he got closer, Wesley saw that the knobbly skin was covered with greasy slime. His heart sank. "I don't suppose you know what he was poisoned with?"

"This." The demon's voice sounded like half a dozen buzz saws. He poured a small vial of clear liquid over Wesley's hand. "You fix. Or you die too."

Wesley snatched his hand away, far too late. He could only hope that the poison was less fatal to humans. The sick Lughasa did not look good. "Is there any more? It would help if I had some of the poison to analyse."

The demon and his human companion exchanged a long look. Wesley sighed and took off his glasses to polish them. "I'd better get started then."

*

"Isn't Wesley here yet?"

Angel paused, coffee in hand. "We were out late last night."

"Don't tell me." Cordelia pretended to look thoughtful for a moment. "You were saving the world and lost track of the time. You know I have an audition today."

He didn't bother to tell her that saving the world took precedence over her audition. She'd never believed it in the past, and he doubted she would now. "I can answer the phone."

"Yeah, and drive away the paying customers." Cordy rolled her eyes. "Don't you think the rich have just as much right to be saved as the poor?"

They'd had this argument before too. Angel shrugged defensively, helpless before Cordelia's certainty that the world existed to supply her needs. "I just don't…"

"…like asking for money." She chorused along with him. "Duh! Even vampires have to eat. Or drink." She grimaced expressively. "Euww. But…"

"I promise not to drive anyone away." Angel held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Besides, you'll probably be back before we get to the paying part."

As it turned out, he didn't need to make good on his promise. Nobody called; nobody came in, including Wesley. Well, it wasn't as though he was officially paying Wesley, so he supposed he shouldn't expect Wesley to turn up every day. Except that Wesley always did turn up every day.

*

The Lughasa was getting worse. Wesley had searched through every mouldering old book the others had been able to bring him, but found little of value. The demonologies didn't, for the most part, mention poisons and the medical books were written for human, not demon, physiology.

"Haven't you found anything?" It was the human. The other Lughasa rarely spoke.

Wesley shook his head and regretted it as the world swayed around him. He removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose wearily. "There's nothing useful. All I can do is try to treat the symptoms and hope that he responds to the same drugs that work for humans."

In fact it was more complicated than that. The demon was too sick to answer his questions, so Wesley would have to use his own symptoms as a guide. Dizziness, fever, nausea, blurred vision – none of which made his job any easier. He could barely concentrate on the printed pages; it had taken him far longer than it should to read through what information was available. The likelihood was that both he and the demon would die, but he was too tired, and too miserable to care very much.

*

Angel stood in the doorway of Wesley's apartment, unable to enter, and stared at the destruction. Whatever had taken Wesley had not had an easy time of it, but Wesley was most certainly gone. His nostrils flared, taking in demon scent and a whiff of unfamiliar aftershave. Definitely not Wesley's aftershave. That meant the demon had a human helper. Now if only Angel could remember what type of demon had that particular smell. Like aniseed.

*

"Lughasa demon, I'd say. Though why a Lughasa demon would want Wesley…" Giles' voice sounded tired. "They generally like humans, and they're not usually violent."

"There was a human with it." Angel tried not to grip the receiver too tightly. "It shouldn't be too hard to find someone who knows where it hangs out. Thanks, Giles."

"Oh, don't thank me. Anya figured it out." A massive yawn came down the line. "I'm sorry it's taken so long. Ethan's been in town and, well, it's been a long day. I got, um, distracted."

Ethan Rayne was Trouble. Angel frowned. "Are you all right?"

"Oh, I'm fine. Don't worry about me." There was a faint edge to Giles' voice and Angel knew better than to push it. Their truce was tenuous at best. He said his goodbyes and went in search of the kind of people who might know the whereabouts of a Lughasa demon and his human companion.

*

There was a warehouse down on Forty-fifth Street that was known to be the haunt of a pair of Lughasa demons and their human companion. When Angel arrived it was in complete darkness and seemed to be abandoned. It only took a moment to kick open a side door. Even then, there was no sound other than echoes of the noise his entrance had caused. As the echoes faded he heard the faint throb of a familiar heartbeat, then a soft moan and the rustle of cloth moving.

"Wesley?" He found the light switch at last and blinked in the sudden brightness. Wesley was lying against the far wall. Between him and Angel was a table with a dead Lughasa demon on it.

Angel crossed the room and knelt beside Wesley. There was a large bruise covering most of his left cheek. "Wesley. Wake up."

Wesley's eyelids fluttered but didn't lift. Angel could sense the rush of blood through his veins, too hot, too fast, and the sweat on his skin smelt wrong. He muttered a curse under his breath and pulled Wesley's limp body up over his shoulder.

*

"Oh my God, what's wrong?" Cordelia met them just inside the door to Angel's underground apartment.

Angel pushed past her unceremoniously. "I think Wesley's been poisoned by a Lughasa demon." He carried Wesley to the bed and laid him on it. "Call Giles, will you?"

"Excuse me?" Cordelia stared at him open-mouthed. "I hate to be obvious, but shouldn't Wesley be in a hospital?"

"I don't think a hospital can help him. Call Giles." He started stripping off Wesley's dirty, sweat-soaked clothing, ignoring her presence until she made an exasperated sound and left. Once Wesley was naked, Angel fetched a washcloth and towel from the bathroom and set about cleaning him up. The damage was extensive - bruising over much of his body, though it didn't seem like there were any broken bones or internal bleeding. Of more concern was the fever and the scent of poison that hung around Wesley like a noxious cloud.

The cool dampness of the washcloth seemed to revive Wesley. As Angel pulled the covers over him Wesley stirred and opened his eyes. "Angel?"

"That's me." Angel sat on the edge of the bed. "What happened, Wesley?"

Wesley blinked slowly. "Demon… Lughasa…" he turned his head away, his throat working. "Water… please…"

"I'll be right back." It only took a moment to fetch a glass of water. As he held it out Wesley lifted an eager hand to grab at the glass. Their hands collided and the glass flew out of Angel's hand to smash against the floor. Trying unsuccessfully to repress his irritation and concern, Angel bent to pick up the shards and cut his finger in the process.

A strangled sound from the bed drew his attention. Wesley was staring at the blood welling from the tiny puncture like a man possessed. "What's wrong, Wesley? What is it?"

Wesley didn't speak, but his unwavering stare was enough of an answer. Angel held out his hand to Wesley, allowing him to lick away the drops of blood from the already closing wound. Wesley's eyes widened and his pupils dilated as he tried to suck more blood from the cut. His hands clawed with unexpected strength at Angel's when Angel tried to pull away.

"Wes. Wesley, I'm trying to help you." Wesley's grip slackened enough to let Angel free his wrist. He drew the sliver of glass across the base of his thumb, cutting just deep enough to allow the blood to trickle slowly over his skin. Wesley's eyes followed the line of blood as it slid across Angel's skin. "Here." He held the bloody hand to Wesley's lips and watched as the human sucked hungrily.

After a moment Wesley's eyes flickered and shut, but continued sucking. This was Wesley as Angel had never seen him – abandoned to his needs, careless of what Angel or anyone else might think of him. The sucking noises became less greedy, more sensual, and Wesley moaned low in his throat, his body moving restlessly. It came as no real surprise, when Angel glanced down, to see Wesley's hand moving in a slow rhythm beneath the covers. Angel could feel the tugging of hunger in his own groin; feeding on vampire blood could do that to a human sometimes, and the vampire was seldom immune from the effect.

The small wound was beginning to close but Wesley only licked at it a few times to encourage the flow of blood. His cheeks were flushed with more than fever now, and all of his rapidly dwindling consciousness was clearly focussed on the steady beat of his hand against his cock. After a moment Angel drew his hand away without the slightest resistance from Wesley. His body rose slowly into a sensual arc and he moaned again, tossing his head restlessly against the pillow. Angel brushed away damp tendrils of hair from Wesley's forehead and stroked the backs of his fingers down one heated cheek. Another long moan, a catch of his breath, and Wesley's hips jerked in a sudden spasm then collapsed into limp relief.

It looked like he was going to be out for a while. Angel pulled the covers away from his body and the ripe scent of human seed assaulted his over-sensitised nostrils. He went into the bathroom to fetch another washcloth and towel. He had a feeling that Wesley was going to be embarrassed enough when he woke, without having to find himself covered in his own spunk.

*

Fever dreams could be … quite interesting. And embarrassing, Wesley decided. Certainly confusing… if it had all been a dream… he was in a bed, certainly, which had been in his dream, though not in the bit about the demons… but he didn't feel in the slightest bit feverish. He opened his eyes to see Angel's apartment, Angel's bed – and therefore the dream had not been a dream after all. Or perhaps… but no, he was quite naked and his body had the faintly smug air it always seemed to acquire after sex.

Dear Lord... he'd... and in front of Angel too... blood rushed to his face, reminding him of the fever from which he'd apparently recovered. Wesley thankfully allowed himself to be distracted by that fact for a moment. He still felt a little nauseous and his vision wasn't a hundred percent, so it wasn't a complete cure. But there must be something in vampire blood... something that eased the symptoms of the poison, if not curing it. Something beside the aphrodisiac qualities. Blushing even more deeply, Wesley wondered if the Watcher Council had deliberately suppressed that little bit of information.

There was still no sign of Angel, much to Wesley's relief. He sat up cautiously. He wasn't yet ready to consider his own emotions; Angel's probable reaction to his appalling behaviour didn't bear thinking about. Of course it was only a temporary reprieve. Angel would probably be upstairs and, even if he wasn't, lacking the cash he'd need to fly back to England, Wesley would have to face his boss sooner or later. Wesley squared his jaw and resolved to have it out immediately, and just hope that Angel didn't kick him out into the street.

It would have been easier, Wesley acknowledged to himself several minutes later, if he could have found his own clothes. Even as smelly as he was sure they must have been, wearing one's own clothes was preferable to facing the music while wearing a baggy pair of sweats and a shabby old T-shirt borrowed from the aggrieved party's store of clothes. He could have borrowed something nicer, perhaps, but that might have been even more of an imposition. Wesley shuddered a little and pulled the drawstring on the sweats a little tighter. They were showing an alarming tendency to slide downwards, and since he hadn't borrowed any of Angel's underwear, any accidental slippage could be potentially disastrous.

He avoided the lift and made his way slowly up the stairs, wanting to reconnoitre before committing himself to action. Cordelia's voice drifted down to him, just her normal chatter, and the lack of any response meant little. Angel would reply only if he felt like it, and Cordelia had been known to carry on entire one-sided conversations whether or not there was anybody else actually in the room with her. Wesley took an uncertain step forward.

Angel was there. Wesley gulped and reached, quite unnecessarily, for the waistband of his sweats. It was several agitated heartbeats later that he realised that Angel was looking at him with no more than a mildly curious expression on his face. Cordelia in one of those rare and startling bursts of non-self-absorption that she was occasionally capable of, fell silent for a moment before smiling brilliantly at him.

"Wesley! We weren't expecting you to wake for hours… or maybe minutes… lots more minutes…" her head turned from Wesley to Angel and back again. There was an almost audible shifting of gears. "Would you like some coffee?"

Wesley grimaced. Despite Cordelia's best efforts, the coffee was disgusting. "I'd prefer tea, thank you."

"There's chamomile tea in my kitchen." They both stared at Angel as if he was a stone statue come suddenly to life.

Wesley opened his mouth to say that he hated chamomile tea and then closed it again. Cordelia was already heading for the lift and it occurred to him that it might be easier if she didn't hear whatever Angel had to say to him. The fact that Angel obviously thought so too was not very reassuring.

Angel smiled tentatively. "Sit down, Wesley."

Wesley made his way to the chair behind the desk and sat. "Are you… that is, I hope you don't mind…" his hand indicated, rather vaguely, his borrowed attire.

"Of course I don't." There was a hint of impatience in Angel's voice. "Wesley, you really don't need to be…"

Oh God. Angel was going to say something kind. Something designed to make Wesley feel better about the fact that he'd wanked off in front of his boss while sucking his blood. "Please, don't…" Wesley fell silent as Angel fixed an irritated glare on him.

"It happens. It's not the first time. Vampire blood is very… powerful." Angel frowned and leaned forward, placing emphasis on each word. "It's no big deal."

No big deal. Not important – to Angel, at least. The colour rose in Wesley's cheeks. "Perhaps not to you. You're not the one who…" he broke off as vivid memories flooded his mind. How could that be no big deal? "Oh God."

"Don't be such a prude." The sudden amusement in Angel's voice startled Wesley out of his attack of self-pity. "I'm two hundred forty six years old, do you really think I haven't done it all, seen it all?"

"Well, thank you. I don't know whether that makes me feel better or worse." Whichever, it felt better to be annoyed than completely humiliated. That was something, he supposed. Then it suddenly sank in what Angel was implying. "Do you mean that you… uh…"

"Darla and Dru insisted." Angel's lips flickered into the hint of a smile. "They liked to watch."

"Oh." With Spike? It was an obvious corollary. Wesley blushed even more deeply, trying not to imagine that particular episode and not entirely succeeding. "It never occurred to me. You seem so… so straight."

Angel shrugged. "I'm a vampire. The rules pretty much go out the window when you're turned, Wesley."

"So I'm beginning to appreciate." Wesley ducked his head, preferring to avoid Angel's gaze. This new knowledge made him more uncomfortable than ever, but he couldn't afford to wallow. Angel had made it clear enough that he didn't mind and Wesley had a life to save – his own. "Well, I suppose I'd better get to work. I'll need a sample of your blood, please."

Angel looked up at him as he rose, unsteadily, from his chair. "The blood didn't cure the poison?"

"I'm afraid not. It is, however, the only lead I have. And since I'd rather avoid a repeat performance…" Wesley turned away, relieved that he could now turn his attention to scientific matters. "Now where did I leave that set of test tubes?"

*

"Wesley."

The Petri dish slipped from his fingers and smashed on the floor. Luckily it had been empty. "Now look what you made me do." His voice was as petulant as a child's. Wesley brushed shaking fingers over his forehead.

"Wesley, I think it's time." Angel seemed unperturbed by the accusation. Well, he'd done a lot worse things in his life than break glass.

"No!" Shame flooded him, mixed with a strange kind of exultation. He knew, now, what that blood could do for him. He also knew that he couldn't do that again, in front of Angel, and retain any self-respect. "I'm getting close. Just a few more minutes."

"You need more blood."

Cordelia lowered the magazine she'd been reading and smiled brightly. "Well, if you're going to start with the needles again, I think I'll just…"

"We won't be using needles." Angel's voice was abrupt. "My blood acts as a temporary antidote to the poison. Wesley needs another dose."

Any argument Wesley might have made was rendered moot by the sudden buckling of his knees. In an instant, Angel was at his side, supporting him with an arm around his waist. Wesley bowed his head. "All right. But not here, please."

"But how are you going to…" Cordelia's face went suddenly still, then her mouth fell open. "You're going to let Wesley drink your blood? Hello? Won't he go all… fangy?"

"No fangs." Rare amusement coloured Angel's voice. "There's a lot more involved in making a vampire than just drinking blood."

"Oh. Then why don't you just…" Cordelia waved her hand vaguely toward the armchair.

"No!" Wesley's face felt scorching hot and it had nothing to do with the fever. He tried to push himself away from Angel but he might as well have tried to push the whole building out of the way. "Angel, please unhand me."

"It's all right. We're going downstairs." Angel looked over at Cordelia who was watching them both with considerable interest. "Drinking someone's blood… it's kind of a… a private thing."

Doubt overlaid the curiosity on Cordelia's face. She knew almost as much as Wesley about vampires. Privacy didn't figure too largely in their unlives. "Guys, I don't think I need to know any more. You just go right ahead. Don't mind me."

"Thank God." Wesley muttered the words under his breath as Angel half carried him towards the lift.

*

This time would be different, Wesley told himself – he knew what to expect; he'd be able to resist the siren call of vampire blood this time. But he knew that he wouldn't… couldn't. He could already feel the shameful sense of excitement as his body remembered the things his mind would rather forget. He wanted, desperately wanted, to feel that wanton arousal again, the thrilling rush of sexual pleasure that Angel's blood had roused in him, more intense than anything he'd ever experienced with any lover.

He moaned softly as Angel lowered him to the bed. Lovers... that was the problem. Angel wasn't his lover and never would be. If wishes were horses... but they weren't, and Wesley was as likely to become Angel's lover as beggars were to ride horses. Steady on... stay calm, keep control... Wesley closed his eyes and concentrated all his flagging energy on breathing evenly.

The rustle of clothing being removed was enough to undo all Wesley's attempts at appearing calm. His eyes flew open in time to see Angel drape his shirt over the back of a chair. "What are you doing?"

"Getting ready." Angel's voice was level. He picked up the small knife he'd placed on the bedside table only a few minutes before. "Don't worry. I know what to do."

"I'm sure you do." Wesley wet his lips nervously as Angel sank down onto the bed beside him. The vampire in him was far more to the fore tonight than was usual and it was both stimulating and disturbing. He was quite certainly going to make a complete ass of himself. "Angel, I uh… Angel!"

"What?" Angel tossed the knife away. Tiny beads of blood oozed from small cut he'd made and trickled down over his nipple.

Wesley swallowed. He could smell it already and his body was responding with depressing predictability. "Angel… you can't…" he licked his lips nervously. "We… we shouldn't…"

One bare shoulder lifted casually and firm muscle rippled beneath the pale skin. Angel reached out and wrapped his hand around the back of Wesley's skull, drawing him closer, but Wesley was already lunging forward, lips parted, all hesitation forgotten as the scent of that blood overpowered every shred of decent behaviour his father had terrorised into him. His tongue snaked out, stealing viscous drops from the tiny wound. Their coolness dissolved into electric tingling in his throat and exploded through his body, overwhelming the fever heat as though it had never existed.

Insistent throbbing deep inside Wesley's body drew echoes from his throat, his belly and his cock, making a mockery of his resolution of only a few minutes ago. As the blood trickled slowly into his mouth he forgot everything; all that existed was the taste of Angel's blood and the chill skin pressed against his lips.

The effect was almost hallucinogenic. Time stretched out to infinity, then snapped back; his heart suddenly seemed to be beating a thousand times faster than normal. His tongue scoured the hard peak of Angel's nipple seeking every stray hint of blood, then teased at the wound, trying to encourage the trickle into a flood. Even that would never satisfy his hunger. Nothing would.

"Wesley." Angel's voice barely registered, but the touch of his fingers, stroking Wesley's hair, was enough to distract him from the sensations coursing through his body. He shuddered, twisting in Angel's loose embrace to press closer while his hand crept downwards over his body. When it reached bare skin he gasped. Without a single thought of dignity or decency, Wesley plunged his hand down into the sweats and wrapped it around his cock.

It became the only reality that existed, ousting even the taste of Angelblood from Wesley's consciousness. He felt everything more clearly than he had ever done - the thrum of blood in the veins, the movement of skin against hard muscle, the glide of his foreskin over the glans, already growing slippery with pre-ejaculate. His hips moved in time with the rhythm of his hand, the beat of his blood.

A hand closed over his, large and gentle. With a soft moan, Wesley surrendered his cock to that cool grip. He pressed closer to Angel, seeking relief from the heat of his fever, and began to caress the smooth muscle. He'd seen Angel shirtless often enough, but he'd never dared hope to touch him this way.

The throbbing of his blood echoed through his body like a drumbeat, demanding release. A strangled cry tore from Wesley's throat and he thrust desperately into Angel's grip, incapable of restraint, or even thought. His balls tightened to the point of pain and then it happened – one long, glorious pulse of pure sensation, the splash of heat against his skin, and a sweet slide into oblivion.

*

If his heart could beat it would be pounding right now. Angel stared down at Wesley's naked body and lifted his fingers to his lips. He licked away the few stray drops that clung to his fingertips. Wesley was still deeply asleep, though if this morning's events were anything to go by, it wouldn't last long. Time for the clean up again.

This time, he allowed himself to admire the lean lines of Wesley's body. Surely, they had moved beyond such petty human notions of privacy now. Wesley was surprisingly strong for his size, and having seen him naked, Angel now knew why. Wesley might be slim by comparison to his own build, but he was all lean muscle. He was pale too. Not as pale as Angel, but pale enough, and hardly a hair on him, except at his groin, where his cock was still swollen and stirring lazily.

Angel brushed his fingers lightly over the velvet surface and felt further stirrings. Perhaps Wesley wouldn't appreciate him doing this, but somehow Angel doubted it. Besides, the soft pliable muscle felt good under his hand and, suddenly, he wanted more that just the easing of Wesley's needs. He had needs of his own. Needs that he'd ignored for far too long.

He lay down on the bed beside Wesley, absently stroking his hand all over Wesley's body, learning the feel of it, the way the muscle and bone and sinew connected to form a pleasing whole. Beneath the surface, the quiet babble of blood pulsing through veins and arteries wove a sensuous counterpoint to the memory of Wesley's heart pounding, the blood racing like some cataract through vessels too narrow to contain the flood.

The image was too strong, too appealing to vampire sensibilities. Angel's hand began to tremble as it moved down to the moist heat at Wesley's groin. The veins were so close to the surface there, and it frightened him how seductive the pull of Wesley's blood could be. Of course, his blood was a small part of that now, adding to the attraction. He wrapped his fingers around Wesley's cock and began to stroke the still limp muscle, sliding his hand down occasionally to cup his balls before returning to the stroking.

A sigh and a slight stirring of Wesley's body made him look up. Wesley's eyelids were flickering and as Angel watched they lifted a little and a faint smile played across Wesley's lips. "Hello, gorgeous."

The corners of Angel's mouth curled up a little. It seemed like Wesley wasn't going to be upset. He inspected the drowsy face carefully before leaning close enough to brush his lips against Wesley's. They kissed slowly. Wesley was still half-asleep and Angel was more than content to take his time. It was a risk he was taking, not of losing his soul, but of messing up a good working relationship in the hope of gaining something more. He thought it might just be worth the risk.

Eventually the kisses deepened as Angel's caressing hands achieved their goal and Wesley's cock grew thicker, longer as it swelled with arousal. He pulled back and looked down into Wesley's light blue eyes, seeing nothing but pleasure and anticipation. Angel lowered his head again, this time to nuzzle Wesley's throat. To his credit Wesley never flinched, but the blood was so close here… so close Angel could almost taste it.

He pulled back a little, panting, though he didn't need to breathe. "Are you all right with this?"

"Yes, it's lovely." Wesley smiled up at him, his hands touching Angel's chest lightly. "You feel like a cool breeze on a hot day."

"Oh… that's… that's good… I guess. But what I meant was… are you all right with this?" Not exactly coherent, but he thought Wesley understood his meaning.

Wesley laughed. "Angel, I may not be two hundred and forty seven…"

"Two forty six."

"All right, two hundred and forty six… but you're not the only person here to have had a… shall we say, a varied range of experiences?"

"And that includes vampires?" Angel stopped Wesley's roving hands, holding them in a gentle grip.

"Not as such, no." Wesley obviously wasn't about to be dissuaded. "Angel, I think you can trust me to know what I'm doing."

Angel wasn't sure if that was meant to be an oblique reference to his curse, but suddenly he wasn't interested in discussing it any more. Wesley was a consenting adult who knew all that he needed to know about Angel's past. He moved his hand down to Wesley's cock, teasing the foreskin back and brushing his fingertips lightly over the sensitive cockhead.

Wesley groaned, his body stretching and pushing into Angel's touch with easy sensuality. Obviously sex was not one of Wesley's many areas of insecurity. Indeed, he was reaching eagerly for Angel's pants, the long foreplay suddenly abandoned in favour of direct action. Angel had to admit that Wesley pushed his pants and shorts down and tossed them aside with a certain flair.

It would have been nice to take time, to explore and be explored, but somehow that wasn't happening. Wesley's hands were all over him and Wesley was making pleased sounds every time Angel flinched or twitched with the shock of what Wesley was making him feel. It was disconcerting, but it also relieved his fear that somehow he might be taking advantage of Wesley. The only problem was that it quite obviously wasn't going to last for very long.

Just as it began to seem like everything was getting out of control, Wesley wrapped his arms around Angel and rolled onto his back, with Angel uppermost. Angel buried his face against Wesley's clavicle and sucked hard, allowing just a hint of teeth to brush against the smooth skin. Wesley laughed, low in his throat. "What do you want, Angel?"

He pushed his upper body up at arm's length and thrust against Wesley's cock, slow and easy now that Wesley, for the moment, was doing no more than palm the cheeks of his ass. Wesley just stared up at him calmly. "You know what I want."

"Then you've got it." Wesley opened his legs wider, lifted them to wrap around Angel's hips. "What are you waiting for?"

"Well, uh… I don't have any lube." He tried to think of anything in his kitchen or bathroom cupboards that might make a suitable replacement and failed. At least he didn't have to worry about condoms.

Wesley smiled. "I don't need a lubricant. Just take it carefully, all right?"

"You got it." And that betrayed a level of expertise that Angel hadn't even considered. He began to wonder just how varied Wesley's experiences were.

The hardest part was holding back, as he sank into the raging heat of Wesley's body. It was tight, but Wesley was completely relaxed, just lying still and allowing Angel to do what was necessary. They both released a long, relieved sigh when it was done.

"Are you okay?" Angel stroked his fingers along Wesley's unbruised cheek and smiled a little as Wesley smiled contentedly.

"It feels wonderful." Wesley's eyes were alight with curiosity. "I never imagined how it would feel… so cool inside me... oh dear Lord!"

Pleased with Wesley's response, Angel thrust again, deeper, harder. It felt incredibly good and Wesley had made it clear enough that no concessions needed to be made. Everything Angel could give him, Wesley would take, and more. They moved together, Wesley's hips rising to meet his thrusts, wordlessly urging him to go harder, faster, deeper. And Wesley's voice, husky and broken, reinforced the message of his body.

Once again, Angel buried his face against Wesley's throat, shuddering with the effort it took not to bite through the tender, fragile barrier and release the living blood within. He was playing a dangerous game he realised, but didn't possess the strength of will to retreat to safety. Only the knowledge that he could not, must not, harm Wesley prevented him from giving in to his desires.

He could feel Wesley beginning to tire. The only surprise was that he'd lasted as long as he had. Angel thrust once more, sheathing himself to the hilt in Wesley's body as the orgasm took them both.

*

A faint sound woke him, but it was the movement of Angel's body leaving the bed that brought Wesley to full alert. He lay still, listening as Angel pulled on clothing.

"What were you thinking, Angel?" Cordelia's voice was pitched low, and sharp with worry.

"Shh." Angel's voice was even quieter. "Wesley needs to rest. I'll be upstairs in a minute."

She made a small irritated sound and left. A moment later Wesley heard the hum of the lift. More sounds of Angel dressing drifted to his ears, but Wesley lay completely still, hoping that Angel wouldn't notice his slightly elevated heart rate. When the sound of the lift came again, Wesley sat up with a sigh. He could still feel the residual effects of his fever, and could have done with a little more sleep, but given the situation, he supposed he'd better get upstairs as quickly as he could manage.

He paused only long enough to wipe himself clean, and to dress in the T-shirt and sweatpants that Angel had removed earlier, before heading for the stairs. Once again, he found himself listening at the top of the stairs.

"Cordelia, I'm not going to go bad." Angel spoke quietly, but very firmly. "Not from having sex with Wesley. You know, that curse has been widely misinterpreted..."

"Well, duh! I know that." Wesley risked a glance around the corner and saw Cordelia standing, hands on hips, almost nose to nose with Angel. "I mean that true happiness thing? Like, when has sex ever made anyone happy, right?"

Angel shuffled his feet a little. "Uh well..."

Cordelia sighed sharply. "I'm not talking about the Buffy thing. Can you get with the action please? It's Wesley, Angel. You know he's in love with you." There was a short pause. "You do know that, don't you?"

"Kind of." Angel's voice was defensive. "He isn't stupid, Cordelia. He knows I can't get that emotionally involved again."

"Of course he knows. Duh!" Wesley flinched at the sarcasm in Cordelia's voice. "Wesley would never let himself fall in love with someone who could love him back. He thinks he's safe with you."

"Cordelia, that doesn't make..."

"Just think about it. If you can't love him, then it's not a rejection if you don't." Cordelia scowled. "See? That wasn't so hard to understand, was it? Poor Wesley..."

Poor Wesley had heard enough. When the roaring faded from his ears and he was able to see clearly again, he found that he was sitting on the top stair, staring blankly down the flight of steps and wondering if he'd break his neck if he just... slowly... tipped forward. Probably not, he decided reluctantly, and covered his face with hands that trembled helplessly. Pull yourself together, Wesley. Be a man. Be all the things your father told you you never would be.

It was all so obvious and only Cordelia had seen it. Of course, Cordelia had her prior experience with him to draw on, so perhaps it was inevitable that it should be she who saw through his pathetic sham. And now Angel knew too. That was just too wonderful for words. He muffled a laugh that sounded more like a sob with his hands and realised, too late, that Angel would certainly have heard him. Wearily, Wesley dragged himself to his feet and turned towards the office.

Angel and Cordelia greeted him with the self-conscious silence of people who had been talking about him behind his back. But they were his friends. They cared about him; and so Wesley gathered about him his British reserve as though it were armour and smiled at them with a brightness that was entirely artificial.

*

"You really think that will work?"

Wesley stared at the greenish liquid in the test tube then smiled into Angel's worried eyes with a confidence that he didn't entirely feel.

"Well... yes, I'm sure it will. Can you pass me that syringe, please?" He avoided Angel's gaze in favour of concentrating on tying a rubber strap around his left bicep. "It is sterilised, isn't it?"

"Yes. Cordelia did it before she left." They both stared at the needle Angel was holding with identical expressions of doubt. "I'll do it again."

"Angel, I'm sure that won't be necessary. I'll need fifteen mils, if you don't mind." Wesley felt quite proud of himself. His outstretched hand barely quivered.

Angel took his arm in a firm grip. "I'll do it." He paused a beat. "Shouldn't you be sitting down?"

Wesley sat obediently. His stomach had started churning. "Well, go on then."

"All right." Angel still didn't move.

"Angel... there's only one way to find out. I really can't go on drinking your blood indefinitely." In fact, Wesley only wanted to get it over with. Nervous as he was, he'd rather take his chances with the serum than continue the way they were.

The prick of the needle against his skin sent a brief shiver through him. He counted slowly to one hundred. "See? Everything's fine."

"We don't know if it worked yet." Angel stood close beside the chair, hovering protectively. Angel was far too large to hover effectively.

Wesley stood. Took a couple of steps away from the chair. He smiled vaguely. "Time will tell, I suppose. Why don't I..."

His knees buckled and Wesley crashed to the floor. He could feel every vein, every artery, and every blood vessel down to the tiniest capillaries burning with liquid fire. He imagined, dizzily, that Angel would be able to see them all, glowing like lines on a map, through his skin and clothing.

"Wesley?" Angel slipped an arm under his shoulders but there was no strength in any of his muscles and Wesley's head lolled back. "Wesley!"

I'm all right. Just let me lie here for a while. Wesley heard the words dimly in his head, but the sound, if there was any, didn't reach his ears. He sighed and closed his eyes.

*

It was becoming a familiar sensation to wake in Angel's arms. Wesley wasn't sure, any longer, whether that was a good thing. It felt good. There was no denying that. Angel wasn't cold, precisely; it was more a lack of any sensation of heat. Now that the fever was gone, permanently Wesley hoped, Angel felt simply... tepid. Not warm, and not cold.

He ran his hand down over a body that was entirely smooth. No hair at all, not under his arms, not at his groin, and Wesley wondered lazily if Angel shaved or whether it was some other vampire thing the Council had 'forgotten' to tell him. He was getting quite a list of those. Perhaps they simply hadn't thought it important for him to know, but Wesley actually found it wildly arousing.

Angel opened his eyes without having given the slightest hint that he was close to waking.

"Bloody Hell!" When he got his breath back Wesley fixed Angel with what he hoped was a stern glare. "I really wish you wouldn't do that, Angel."

Without moving a single facial muscle, Angel's expression became smug. "Sorry."

"No you're not." Wesley lowered his gaze to Angel's broad chest and watched his finger trace random patterns on the skin. His body ached abominably, one part more than most, and yet he was already becoming aroused again. "Do you think this is ever going to wear off?"

"Wesley." Angel smiled up at him. "The effects of the serum wore off hours ago. I can tell by the way your blood smells. This is just us."

"Oh." He pondered that thought as his hand drifted lower. "Say Cordelia is right about me..." he glanced at Angel, who showed not the slightest surprise. He'd known that Angel's vampire senses were likely to register his heartbeat as he skulked in the hallway, but they hadn't spoken of that conversation until now. "Insecurities aside, we can still have some pretty good sex, can't we?"

Angel stared at him searchingly for a moment, then nodded. "We're both adults. I don't see any problem with that."

"Good." Insecurities be damned then. To Hell with everyone: his father, the Watcher Council, Cordelia... no, not Cordelia, perhaps... but everyone else. He was his own man, and if the insecurities he carried with him led to him having fantastic sex with an ensouled vampire, then he was in no hurry to give them up. "Do you think we can start now?"


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