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Realisation
by Deďaneira (eblis_arioch at hotmail.com)

Summary: Wesley comes to a realisation, which sparks a confrontation.

Spoilers: Sometime after 'Parting Gifts' in Season One, but before 'To Shanshu...'

Rated: PG-13


One: Wes

I couldn't say when all this started, however I do recall the exact moment of realisation; I was being beaten by a particularly nasty demon - a great green ugly thing unlike anything I had seen before or have seen after - and just at the moment when I could actually feel my life about to end, he leapt in through a window and saved me.

I recall lying there on the warehouse floor, covered in dust and blood and glass, looking up at him as he struggled with the monstrous green beast, and although I know I thought that all the years of murder and torture must have finally driven him out of his undead mind, it was then that I realised. He was a hero. He was brave and courageous and all those other fine things to which I have aspired throughout my life, largely without success. He was Angel, the vampire with a soul. And I loved him.

The creature's head pirouetted from it shoulders to the floor with a horrid squelching noise that made me sick to my stomach, but at the same time I was lying there on the concrete floor of the warehouse with my hips twisted at an awkward angle, watching him. I moved and made a regrettably high-pitched squealing sound more often associated with six-year-old girls having fallen from bicycles and grazed a knee than with a rogue demon hunter; Angel rushed forward, dropping his sword with a loud clang and falling to his knees on all the broken glass before me.

"Wesley, you hurt?" he asked, this panic-stricken look on his preternaturally pale face. I shifted into a sitting position against the wall, wishing that a hellmouth would open up and swallow me whole, despite how unlikely that would actually be.

"Yes, I, uh, just fell on my keys". Without even looking - as I couldn't bring myself to - I could almost see Angel rolling his eyes. He stood and brushed the glass from his knees, retrieving his sword in the process. Shame-faced and blushing a deep shade of embarrassed red, I picked myself up from the floor and followed him from the building. I ached from head to toe. But the was nothing compared with my little revelation. I was in love with Angel.

For three days afterwards I telephoned the office to say that I was ill and certainly couldn't leave my apartment; fortunately on one hand it was Cordelia who received the calls, but on the other, for three days I had to invent excuses why she shouldn't pay me a visit with a generous serving of home-made chicken soup. I believe that by the third day she either decided that I found the idea of her cooking repulsive, or that I'd been injured more seriously than I wanted anyone to believe during the encounter with the demon. I was happy for her to believe whatever she wished while she did not know the truth.

I stayed alone in my flat for three days, my only contact with the outside world being my daily telephone call to Cordelia in the office of Angel Investigations. But this was not due to illness. I may have been feigning 'flu to Cordelia via telephone each morning, however I merely required time alone to think and reflect. I needed to know if it was true; I knew that I felt something for this man, this vampire, but could it really be love?

He had taken me in and given me work when I most needed it despite the fact that I would have like to have killed him the, that we were enemies, so it was only natural for me to feel grateful to him, but this was deeper than simple gratitude. So a crush, then? It would make complete sense - after all, Angel is an undeniably handsome man, and the whole image is unbelievably alluring. Tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, on the long and often rocky path to redemption. But I couldn't put the feeling down to a simple crush, either; in the time that's passed since my arrival in Los Angeles, I've seen beyond the image into the real Angel. And what I've seen, I've loved. I could deny that no longer.

Returning to work at Angel Investigations was extremely difficult for me, except I knew that if I called the office again I couldn't find another valid excuse for Cordelia not to visit. So, feeling rather disheartened and embarrassed amongst many other things, I returned.

I sat at the desk in the office for most of the morning reading but not reading a huge, ancient, leather-bound and wholly uninteresting Latin text on an obscure lost clan of demons from Kazakhstan. The fourth time I found myself reading '...cut of their genitals with talons of bewildering sharpness' I decided I needed to take a break. And that break coincided exactly with Angel leaving the lift and making his way sleepily across the office to the coffee maker.

I just sat there and watched his every move, how the muscles in his back tensed under his shirt as he poured his coffee, how he stood. He was amazing. Now I came to think about it, I had always thought so. How had I never realised how I felt about him?

"What? Did I grow another head during the night?" His voice breaking the silence like that made me start. He was leaning forward on the table that the coffee maker stood on, looking out of the window into the foyer with a mug of coffee on one hand and his back to me.

"What? I'm sorry - what? I..." I stammered, frowning.

"You're staring, Wesley". He took a quick glance back at me over one shoulder and I almost gasped, stricken. He'd noticed. Well, of course he would. Quickly I pulled off my glasses and began wiping at the lenses with my shirtsleeve.

"I was? Oh, yes, yes, I was. I just... well, that is to say... Is that a new black shirt, Angel?" Some comeback. I cursed myself silently. Not only had I been staring at him without so much as a thought to the consequences, but now I'd been caught at it I a) did not have the courage to explain myself and b) invented the most inane excuse possible. But Angel seemed to believe it; he just shrugged and drank his coffee with a quick nod in the affirmative.

So it *was* a new black shirt. I'm sure they must number in their tens or twenties by now, the way he gets through them and the obsession he has with black clothing. I briefly thought about asking, but I knew there were more pressing matters on the agenda than my apparent fascination with my employer's wardrobe.

"So, feeling better?" he asked, making his way to a seat across the room. I nodded, replacing my glasses and returning to the book.

"Much, thank-you", I told him, remembering just in time that I had supposedly been absent with the 'flu. "Would you happen to have a magnifying glass about the place?"

"Sure. Second drawer down", he replied. I slid opened the drawer, bending behind the desk to peer inside as I rummaged. Pens, pencils, notebooks, sheathed dagger, stake, bunch of keys, phonebook, no magnifying glass. I rummaged on further back, felt glass, pulled. Only it wasn't a magnifying glass but a photograph frame. Even before I turned it over I knew who was on the photograph inside.

Buffy. Buffy Summers. The Slayer. Angel's ex-girlfriend, the love of Angel's life. I felt sick.

"Got it? Wesley?" I took a deep breath, pulled the magnifying glass from under the photo frame and waved it above desktop-level. And for a few seconds I couldn't sit up. I was mortified. I slid the drawer shut, placed the magnifying glass on top of the book and left the desk.

"Where you going?" he asked as I made for the door. I turned the handle, opened the door.

"I just need some, uh, fresh air", I said, sounding infinitely more sure of myself than I felt. I stepped into the foyer.

"Wesley, you okay?" he called, standing, striding over to the door. "Wes?"

"I'm fine, Angel, I assure you. I just..." *need to be somewhere you're not* "...need some fresh air. I'll be right back. I'm fine. Really".

I stepped toward the door and he moved to put his hand on my shoulder, but he yanked it back quickly; I'd been standing in direct sunlight. He took a step backwards, holding his hand to his broad chest, and looked at me with a mixture of concern and pain. For a second I looked back, right into his eyes, my own wide with shock and worry. But I turned away quickly. It felt like he was seeing right into me in that moment, that he saw everything. With everything I knew, knowing how impossible the whole situation really was, the possibility that he could know terrified me. Almost tripped over my own feet in my haste, I ran from the office and out into the bright Californian sunlight, where he could never follow.

***
Two: Angel

For someone like me, this situation is a little, uh, *strange*. To say the least. I've been around, I've liked to think of myself as fairly liberal-minded. It's never really mattered to me what people do around me, how they think, how they feel, what they believe. I liked to think I didn't make judgements, form preconceptions. I thought I kept an open mind. I used to say I'd try anything once, and for the sake of being able to say I'd been there and done that, I did a lot of, things. I never thought I had any suppositions of what my life would be like. But I've gone and proved myself wrong. I was wrong all along.

I think I knew all along that my life would be exceptional; you see, preconception number one. And it has been, all things considered. I died and became a vampire, lost my soul and went on a generation-long killing spree. I was as evil as any demon ever was or ever will be, did unspeakable things that will haunt me until the day I cease to be. Except when I die I know where I'm going and it's not pretty. But then I was cursed and suddenly I have all this guilt over what I did - vampire with a soul, out for redemption. Who would've thought it? I'm trying to make amends for everything I did. If it takes forever, I'll do it.

And then there's love. The women in my life. Darla, for one - she made me what I am and for the longest time I was grateful to her for that. Drusilla - because of me she's completely insane. And Buffy. The Slayer. I loved her - love her - more than I can even understand. They're all exceptional, in one way or another. I loved them all in a way.

Notice anything missing here? I'll give you a clue. They're all women. I never loved a man in my life. For a freethinking full-fledged member of the undead, that's perhaps a little strange. But it's the work of preconception - I never believed I could love someone who wasn't female and I never have. Sure, I think I must have loved Spike in a way at some point to stay around him for so long and to let Dru sire him, but I'm not sure that counts. That wasn't I-have-to-be-with-you-forever-or-I'd-rather-die love. That wasn't passionate, aching love. I think I looked on him more like a son, add as that may sound. Strange but true.

The only one who ever came close was Doyle. Really the only person I let close to me after Buffy, except I'm not sure I ever really let Buffy in close. Yes, I loved her, yes I would've died for her, and yes, I probably still would, but you can love someone so much it hurts and still never let them near you. She never really knew me. She saw me as this tortured soul wholly unconnected from my past - Doyle understood what she didn't. Buffy saw Angel and Angelus as two separate entities, nothing in common but the face. Doyle saw the truth - I'm still the same man Angelus was, I'm still Angelus but I'm him with a new name and a soul.

I have the potential to be disturbingly evil, just me, not without my soul, just the way I am. It's a struggle not to let it happen. Buffy never saw that, but Doyle did. He was a good, true friend. I miss him, I want him back. And who knows - if I hadn't been so lovesick over Buffy... I don't know. I can't say what would have happened. I don't even know if Doyle felt anything like that for me. Now I'll never know. But I have a suspicion that had what happened not happened, we could have a little Doyle with us by now. Though hopefully he'd look more like his mother. No matter what else she may be, Cordelia's beautiful. She'll make someone a great wife one day. And she'll make someone a great mother.

But that won't be Doyle and that won't be his children. Of course, there's still Wesley - I know that despite everything he still cares for her a great deal, I'm just not sure how she feels - I get the feeling she'd still hung up on Doyle. I just wish the two of them would get together and put me out of my misery. Or into it, one or the other. From angst to disappointment and daily torture. It'd be like seeing Buffy with Riley only on a day-to-day basis. And no, I'm not saying I love Cordelia - well, maybe as a sister, but not, you know. It's not like that with us. It's not Cordelia I'm in love with. In case you haven't already guessed, I'm in love with Wesley.

As if I'm not miserable enough already, the PTB go and have me fall for this guy. This *guy*. That in itself is pretty awkward... I may like to think I'm open-minded, but the idea of being in love with a man is just strange to me, something I know happens to people but that I never thought would happen to me. And it's not like it's just any guy, either. It's not a vampire hunter, it's not a vampire, it's not even a regular guy. It's an ex-watcher. It's my ex-girlfriend's ex-watcher. It's someone who's spent his life hating everything I am, someone who I know for a fact has never trusted me, who's actually planned out my death. This is cruel and unusual punishment. Not that I'm saying I don't deserve it, but it's something I never expected. And I thought falling for the Slayer was bad...

He's an unlikely person to love. He's English, he's a klutz, he embarrasses himself on a regular basis. To be honest, we all know he belongs in a library more than he belongs demon-hunting in LA. Sometimes I think he'd go back to the Council if they asked him and really meant it, even after all they've done to him. But he's a good man. And I'm, well, we all know what I am. We're as unlikely a match as anyone. But I can't help it. I guess you really can't choose who you love. I know I didn't choose this.

I was annoyed when he arrived. I thought I could handle the case alone, that he'd just get in the way. I was surprised, too - he wasn't exactly on my list of people who might drop by and visit. And in those bike leathers... Just for a few seconds I saw him in a different light, until he opened his mouth. The Watcher mentality was till there. So was the overgrown twelve-year-old-ness he'd always had about him. Only it started to grow on me. The little-boy-lost thing's more endearing than I'd imagined. But he's so intelligent... And I can see he's been hurt. Someone really broke him. I see how scared he is sometimes and all I want to do is hold him and tell him he's safe with me, that I'll never hurt him. Because, barring complete disaster, I never will. I'd rather take a stroll outside on a sunny summer day. If I ever hurt him, I think I might.

***
Three: Wes

When I eventually came back into the office, Angel was sitting at the desk with his head propped up on one hand, slouching across the desktop and staring through a potplant. He looked up quickly, shifting back into an upright sitting position from being sprawled out at such a speed that he chair almost fell over backwards. He looked at me, those deep chocolate-brown eyes fixing me in their gaze, looking rattled and concerned. I closed the door behind me, bit my lip and marched up to the desk to retrieve my wholly incomprehensible Latin text to continue my research. I was almost convinced that ignoring both him and what had happened was the best course of action.

"Wesley... Wes, what was all that about?" he asked in a tone barely above a whisper. I didn't need to look up to know he was looking straight at me then, those intense eyes fixed on me.

"All what, Angel?" I replied, glancing up from the book just long enough to catch how he was almost glaring at me for my comment. "Oh yes, running out". I was staring back down at the book, holding the magnifying glass over a particularly gruesome illustration of a demon having ripped out a human's intestines. I couldn't help thinking that I would find out first hand what that looked like if I didn't give Angel an explanation, soon.

"Yes, Wesley, running out". I swallowed, tasting blood; I put my hand to my lip and it came away bloody. I'd bitten down on my bottom lip hard enough to fetch blood, and what's more I hadn't even noticed. I looked up at Angel; he was staring at my hand, at the blood smeared over the back of it. For the first time since I arrived here, I felt truly threatened by him. All it would take was a momentary lapse in his self-restraint and there would be no more Wesley Wyndam-Price. I swallowed again, hard, and wiped away the blood on a handkerchief. Angel's eyes flickered back up to mine. And I swear that had I been able to see his colour in the half-light, I would have found him blushing.

"I, that is, I felt rather nauseous, and I didn't think you would appreciate my vomiting all over your office". His gaze dropped to his desk and he folded his hands in his lap self-consciously. I'd known him long enough to understand how he felt then - he was embarrassed at having been caught lusting for my blood, if you'll pardon the expression, and more disturbingly he was ashamed at having wanted it in the first place.

I wanted to go over to him, to tell him it wasn't his fault, that I forgave him, but I couldn't. For several reasons, amongst which being the fact that I didn't trust myself around him. I found myself sitting there in his office just well, wanting him. Because of my own hang-ups I couldn't make him feel batter about it in the slightest, couldn't even tell him that it was only natural as a vampire that he would react to the sight of my blood, especially as he had been living - yes, well, *existing* - on pig's blood for as long as I could remember.

My stomach had that horrible light, verging-on-queasy feeling of unease. I didn't feel nauseous but I almost wished I did just so I might have a valid excuse for picking myself up and running out of there as fast as my skinny legs would carry me. But I didn't. I just sat there staring at him across the room, watching as he sat there totally motionless, eyes staring shamefully down into nothing.

His mouth was slightly open, I was hyper-aware of being able to see his teeth, just nestled behind his lips; if I'd touched his lips then, I knew they would have felt cold under my fingers. But how cold? I wanted to find out. I wanted to feel his skin, his cold skin, on mine. I wanted to see him, touch him, lie him down on that enormous bed of his and see him from above, find out if he was pale all over, all the time. I wanted to see that look in his eyes, hear my name catch in his throat. I felt like a silly hormonal schoolboy and I started to blush.

I could hardly believe what I was thinking. One minute I was fearing for my life and the next I was imagining what it would be like to have sex with Angel - surely there was something wrong in that? Suddenly all I could think about was what my father would say. After all, not only had I lost two Slayers and been unceremoniously ejected from the Council, but now it appeared that I was having tawdry fantasies about a vampire, and a male one at that. He would have called me a failure, and that isn't wholly untrue. I know I'm a failure and I don't need my father to tell me that. He would have been disappointed in me, called me sick, a pervert. Maybe he'd be right, Except despite all my years of moral and mental conditioning, I can't quite believe that this is so very wrong. I love him. He's beautiful and heroic and everything I've ever wanted to be. I'm nor sure how *perverted* it is to love him, but it's probably punishment for my other failings. Perhaps I got it wrong one too many times and now I've fallen in love with someone who I'm blatantly wrong for, who I can't possibly have. My father would say I've finally got my comeuppance.

"Does it hurt?" I blurted out, just wanted to end the silence any way I could.

"Huh?" he said, obviously a little startled from his reverie. He looked at me for a second or so before he stared back down at the desk.

"Your hand", I said. "It was burned. Does it hurt?"

"Oh, no, no, it's fine", he murmured. "I mean, it did hurt, but it's fine".

"Oh".

We returned to silence. Angel pulled a newspaper from a drawer and started to read, so I stared back down at the uninteresting book. For about two seconds, before I gazed back at Angel over the book and the rims of my glasses. He was fidgeting, shifting position in his seat, creasing over the edges of his paper, tugging on his sleeves... He felt awkward around me now, thanks to my stupidity in biting my lip. He was tense. I could almost feel the muscles bunching in his broad shoulders. And seeing him there, all tense and awkward, something inside me screamed that I should do something. So I did.

"Angel", I said, coughing, clearing my throat. He glanced up at me for a second and I got to my feet.

"Wesley?"

"At the risk of sounding ridiculous, there's something I have to say". I moved toward him, slowly.

"I'm all ears".

"Could you put down the newspaper?" For some reason he didn't even hesitate, he just folded the paper in half and laid it down on the desk. "Thank-you". He looked up at me. I was almost by the desk, watching him carefully. I took off my glasses and placed them on the desktop, rubbing at my eyes and temples with one hand as I pondered what I was about to do, but I knew that if I thought about it I wouldn't go through with it, and this was one thing which I needed to get out in the open, for better or for worse.

"Wes, it there something wrong?" he asked, pushing back his chair and getting to his feet.

"Oh, no. No, I'm fine", I assured him. He was a little blurry around the edges without my glasses, but fortunately I'm not totally blind without them; I could see that he looked concerned. As he should - if I had taken off any more time he would have had to research for himself. Why is it the real heroes never do their own background reading?

"You're sure?" He took a step toward me.

"Yes, yes, I'm... No. No, actually. You see, well... This is hard for me to say. I've never had to tell anyone anything like this in my entire life. It's just, well..."

"What is it? Surely it can't be that bad. I mean, once you offset it against being a vampire and having agonising visions". He tried to smile for a moment, but he must have seen that I wasn't really all that responsive to his pseudo-cheerful banter. The problem was, I knew he was right. In relation to either his or Cordelia's problems, mine were petty.

"It's just that I... I..." I couldn't go on. Words failed me as my heart hammered in my chest and I stared up at him. I couldn't say it. So I did the only thing I could. I kissed him.

***
Four: Angel

The day I found out was a terrible day. He was so scared of how he felt that he couldn't even bear to be in the same room as me. Of course, for a start I had no idea what was going on - when he ran out of the office the first time it was so sudden that it took me completely by surprise and I didn't know why he did it. He looked like he was close to tears so it couldn't be that he felt sick; maybe he'd found out that someone he knew had died. That was the best explanation I could come up with.

I didn't want him to leave like that. I could see he was hurting and if he'd just stayed then I thought maybe I could get him to talk about it, help him through it. I tried to stop him from leaving but as I reached for his shoulder the light burned my hand. I should've been watching what I was doing. You'd think after two hundred years of being undead I'd learn to keep out of the light. I guess I was distracted.

So he left. And he didn't come back for over an hour. All that time I just sat at the desk there he'd been sitting and stared into space. He really needed someone to be with him then, but he'd gone where I couldn't follow; I thought about calling Cordelia but decided against it - she'd taken the afternoon off for an audition and being paged in the middle of it would probably result in yelling and screaming later on. One unhappy employee was enough for the time being. So I waited.

I didn't hear him come back in until he walked through the office door - I looked up and sat back, feeling the chair teeter but thankfully it didn't fall over. He closed the door and sighed, and suddenly I could smell blood in the air. I bit back the urge to vamp out as he practically ran over to the desk and snatched the book he'd been reading then marched over to a chair at the other side of the room, sitting, pulling up one leg to connect an ankle with a knee so he had something to rest the book on as he read.

"Wesley... Wes, what was all that about?" I asked, just loud enough for him to hear me. I was staring at him. I couldn't help it. He was plainly upset, the most attractive thing in a beige suit that I'd ever seen, and he was bleeding.

"All what, Angel?" he replied. I glared at him on reflex and as I saw him glance up at me I regretted it. "Oh, yes, running out".

"Yes, Wesley, running out". He frowned and put his hand to his mouth, and I saw the blood smeared across it. My eyes fixed on it, shiny and bright read on his pale skin. It smelled so good... Sweet and metallic and human, and I just knew it was taste ever better than it smelled. So much better than pig's blood. And even more so because it was his. I wanted to take his hand and lick that blood off it with my tongue, I wanted to ease his collar away from his neck and sink my teeth in there, to taste him there too. I wanted it so much. So much I almost did it. I wouldn't have killed him, I knew, but he'd never be able to trust me if I did something like that to him. He would've hated me. Again. I didn't want that. I wanted to hold him and taste him, feel his warm blood inside me, becoming part of me...

He wiped the blood off his hand. I looked up into his eyes and I saw that he'd seen me staring, that he knew I'd wanted to drink his blood. I saw how scared he was, and I'd done that to him. I was ashamed. I'd let the demon get the better of me, just for a moment, and he'd seen that. I couldn't look at him anymore, so I stared at the desk.

"I, that is, I felt rather nauseous and I didn't think you would appreciate my vomiting all over your office".

I didn't believe that for a second but there was no way I could call him on it. To say he was petrified of me he'd done well to speak. He must've been disgusted with me, too. After all I'd done for him, after he'd learned some small amount of trust for me, now we were almost friends, I'd wanted to bite him. It all went to hell in just a few seconds.

But it wasn't just about the blood, was it. It was more than that. I wondered if he'd seen that, too, how I'd imagined wrapping my arms around his thin, frail body, holding him to my chest, feeling the warmth of his lips on mine... I wanted so much more of him than his blood. I wanted all of him, every inch; I wanted to know him outside and in. And I wanted him to want to know me. I wanted him to want me just as much as I wanted him.

"Does it hurt?" he asked, startling me from my wallowing.

"Huh?"

"Your hand. It was burned. Does it hurt?" He still sounded shaken, but not really scared. Not that that made me feel any better.

"Oh, no, no, it's fine", I muttered, folding my hands in my lap. I couldn't look at him. I was afraid I'd give myself away, what I wanted. "I mean, it did hurt, but it's fine".

"Oh".

And it had hurt. A lot. Like reaching into a fire, even if I'd only been in the light for a couple of seconds. And it still hurt a little, if I was honest. I noticed that the skin felt tight and raw as I opened my newspaper and pretended to read. I couldn't concentrate. The gossip column didn't exactly fascinate me. I couldn't read while I knew he was there, across the room, and I'd scared him. You'd think that with all I've got to be guilty for a little more wouldn't make any difference, but I can assure you it did.

"Angel". He cleared his throat and I looked up to see him stand.

"Wesley?" I wasn't sure I liked where this was going. It sounded suspiciously like he was going to tell me he was going to leave.

"At the risk of sounding ridiculous, there's something I have to say".

"I'm all ears", I said as he moved closer.

"Could you put down the newspaper?" So I did. It sounded important, whatever it was he had to say. I didn't want to give him any more reason to hate me. "Thank-you". He took off his glasses and put them on the corner of the desk, rubbing his eyes.

"Wes, is there something wrong?" I asked. I got up. I was concerned. In fact, more than that, I was anxious. I half expected him to tell me he had cancer or a brain tumour or something, that he was dying. I wasn't sure I could handle that.

"Oh, no, no, I'm fine". If I breathed, I would have breathed a sigh of relief.

"You're sure?" I asked anyway.

"Yes, yes, I'm... No. No, actually". He was stammering, his voice strained, panicky. "You see, well... This is hard for me to say. I've never had to tell anyone anything like this is my entire life. It's just, well..."

"What is it? Surely it can't be that bad. I mean, once you offset it against being a vampire and having agonising visions". I tried to smile but when I saw the look on his face I totally regretted both the statement and the smile.

"It's just that I... I..." He stopped. He looked at me, even though I knew I must look blurry and out of focus without his glasses. I could see the pulse throbbing in his neck. He stepped forward, took a deep breath, and he kissed me.

I could taste the blood on his lips as we stood there, his hands warm against my face as he pressed his mouth to mine. Surprised is not the word. Maybe more along the lines of amazed. Wesley was kissing me! He was right there in front of me, so warm... But there was something wrong. The kiss was desperate, hard, like he wasn't in control. I pressed my palms against his chest and pushed him away.

"Wesley..." I said quietly, looking him straight in the eye.

"Angel, I, I..."

"Hey, Wes, it's okay", I told him. "Really. It's okay". I reached for his arm but he took a step back.

"Oh God. Angel, I... Oh. God". He was panicking. He reached for his glasses and knocked them off the desk - even with my reflexes I couldn't stop them hitting the floor. One lens smashed. His mouth was open like he was about to speak but he didn't say a word. He looked so ashamed. I reach for him again but he took another step back, stumbling, and another.

"Wesley, stop". But he didn't.

"I'm sorry..." he muttered. "I'm so, so sorry. I didn't mean to... Do you think..."

"What?"

"Do you think we could..."

"Could do what, Wes?" I asked. "What do you want me to do?"

"Forget this happened. Could we forget this happened?"

I stopped dead. Had he really said what I thought he'd said? He couldn't really want to forget it, could he? But he'd said it. I couldn't believe it. He'd kissed me - surely that was a sign he wanted more from me... And the way he'd kissed me. No one kisses like that if they don't mean it. There was no doubt in my mind that Wesley wanted me, just as much if not more than I wanted him; it was in his hands, his lips, the way he'd pressed his body to mine. I couldn't be wrong. So what was this?

I hadn't kissed back. I hadn't even moved, I'd just stood there and let him kiss me and I hadn't reacted at all, until I pushed him away. He thought I didn't want him, and who could blame him? I hadn't shown any interest in him at all, I'd just stopped the kiss. I had to tell him, make him understand that I hadn't pushed him away because I didn't want him to kiss me, I'd just wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting himself into. I needed him to understand, and then he wouldn't want me to forget it had happened.

I hadn't been with a guy since I'd got my soul back, since my one and only time with Spike. I did it to him and he did it to me and we got off on the pain we inflicted. I can still remember how good it felt to hurt him. But I had no interest in hurting Wesley. I wanted to make him happy, and my pleasure would come from that. My relationship with Spike as Angelus and what I wanted to have with Wesley as Angel were two wholly separate things.

As I watched him there I knew I wanted to be with him; he's not built like me, and I wondered what it would be like to feel him in my arms. He'd be so warm; what would it be like to feel that heat buried inside me? He'd be lean and angular and beautiful and I wondered if he'd blush that sweet embarrassed red in other places if I told him what I wanted him to do to me, and I to him. I could almost feel myself start to blush then. Even at my age I sometimes shock myself.

I opened my mouth and I meant to tell him but I snapped it shut instead. Something was bothering me, something about that kiss, how needy it felt, how desperate. He didn't just want me, he *needed* me. And suddenly I couldn't do it. It wasn't because him needing me scared me - although it did - but there was more to it. Why did he need me? Why was he so desperate to be with me? I knew he was hurting - I'd seen it in his eyes a hundred times - he was still getting over all the things that had happened to him. And as much as I wanted him, was this right? No would be the simple answer. I couldn't get into any kind of relationship with him while he still hurt so badly. It'd be like taking advantage... And I knew that if I did then one day he'd wake up hating me again. He needed a friend, not a lover. A friend who would help him through it, be there for him, and never abuse his trust. If I made love to him then, that's what it would be. Abuse. Abuse of his trust, and most importantly, of him.

"Sure, Wes", I choked out, although most of me just wanted to pull him into my arms and never let him go. But this was what was best for him. I'd be a friend and help him heal, and if he still wanted me after that then we still had time. It would hurt me in the meantime, but this wasn't about me. If I loved him, I could wait 'til the time was right.

"You mean that?" he asked with an incredulous smile. I nodded.

"Yes, I do. See, forgotten already". I gave him a smile though it was hurting like hell; I could have had him and I was letting him go. Was I insane?

"Well, I should be, uh, getting back to my research", he said, turning to walk back to his book. I caught his sleeve.

"Look, Wes. I'm always gonna be here, whatever you need". He nodded. I think he understood. "I'm your friend. And I'm... not going to hurt you". He smiled.

"I know", he said, and he went back to his book.

I turned and stood still for a few seconds, not quite able to believe what I'd just done, even if I knew it was the right thing. Then I walked away, into my office, closing the door between us.

When I sat down behind my desk, I could still taste his blood in my mouth.

***
Five: Wes

Kissing Angel was idiotic. Sheer, unadulterated lunacy. I have no excuse for it, really. But that's not to say I regret it per se... After all, I kissed Angel. Angel. The tall, dark and handsome vampire hero who could have any girl he wanted. And for a few seconds I felt like I'd done the right thing, like it could actually work and he could love me too. Of course I feel like a total jackass now, but I'll never forget how it felt in that moment, feeling like everything would be perfect between us.

So it may not be perfect, but it's not all totally ruined, either; I was so sure when he pushed me away that anything we might have had by way of a friendship had gone up in flames, but I think I was wrong. He says he'll be here, whatever I need, that he won't hurt me. I believe him, strange as that may sound. I may just be starting to trust him, despite the fact that I don't fully trust anyone. He's a friend. And that's better than nothing.

Actually, terrible as I'm feeling, humiliated and all that, I think I'm a little relieved. I've managed to admit to myself how I feel, and now Angel has some idea and isn't repulsed. And, I think I'm a little relieved that nothing happened. He could have reacted so badly, beaten me up, maybe even killed me - except that's not Angel, not now. He could have fired me. He could have laughed at me. But he didn't. We're friends. We're not lovers. And in some ways it's better that we aren't, that he didn't return my affections in that way. I'd known I loved him for three days. Before that I'd never really considered same-sex relationships as a viable option. It was all so very new to me, and jumping directly into bed with Angel could have done me more harm than good.

Especially as a) I'm totally inexperienced in that particular area, and b) I couldn't sustain a real relationship if my life depended on it. I'd need to trust him completely before that could ever happened, I'd need to be ready for it mentally and not just physically. I don't know if I could handle it emotionally right now. And I'm not sure what the consequences would be, for either of us. After all, we all know what happened the last time he had sex... Not that I'm saying I could provide anything even approaching 'perfect happiness', but still. And I'm so bloody insecure that I don't know if I could handle it. Let's face it, if I can't even have a 'normal' relationship, how would I fare in a same-sex relationship with a male from the ranks of the undead?

To be brutally honest, I have issues. And I have to sort them and myself out before I can be with anyone, I realise that now. In refusing me Angel may have inadvertently done me a favour. I doubt that was foremost in his mind at the time, but it's true nevertheless. And I think Angel may actually be there to help me. It hurts to know I can't have him - God knows I want him - and it'll be hard to see him every day knowing that. But he doesn't hate me and as long as I get to see him... maybe it can be okay.

**END**


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