They are researching by lamplight, and it isn’t going well. Books written in English became inadequate several hours ago and Cordelia has gone home. Despite speaking upwards of a dozen languages, according to Wesley’s best estimate, Angel too is slowly becoming useless. It is making him restless, disturbingly so. Even Wesley Wyndham-Price cannot unravel scholarly puzzles when he is being sketched.
Wesley has only ever seen Angel draw Identikit pictures of monsters, but the stories agree he has talent. There is in London a dark, disturbing oil painting of a pile of corpses said to be by Angelus. And Cordelia treasures a sketch of her and Doyle that Angel must have done in a moment of boredom much like this one. Wesley can’t see the drawing taking shape under Angel’s pen, but he can feel the quick looks that take down details of his body. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the vampire frown and look repeatedly at Wesley’s ear. Wesley is by now acutely conscious of his body and is trying to remember whether he still has a pimple beside his nose. He wants to smooth his hair. And for some mad reason he’s getting an erection.
This sometimes happens around Angel, so he ignores it as best he can. He tries to force his brain to take in the words on the page in front of him. It is just beginning to work when, unthinkingly, he moves, and Angel hisses in exasperation.
Wesley looks up at once. “Sorry,” he says.
Angel grimaces and screws the paper into a ball. He stands and comes across to drop it in the wastepaper basket by Wesley’s feet. “You getting anywhere?” he asks.
He is close, as close as Angel ever gets, and it is unfortunately encouraging Wesley’s penis. “No one has seen fit to record the details of Lamia physiology,” he says to distract himself. “I can try one last volume – number five of the Al-Rukh.” The Al-Rukh demonology is stacked on the floor near the desk. Angel squats to read the spines and he is still very close. The rather wilted spikes of his hair are on level with the top of the desk and, not for the first time, Wesley wonders if they would be soft to touch. His eyes drop down to where Angel’s t-shirt is momentarily stretched taut over the broad shoulder, to where the powerful muscle turns into vulnerable neck. The skin is pale and looks smooth and Wesley is so sick of looking and watching. It’s not as though his eyes are perfect. He thought he’d given it up – only to find he has exchanged one kind for another. He is spending his time now watching a preternaturally beautiful body he must never touch. But he is so tired of sight and so longs for touch. He is touching.
There is a tiny twitch of reaction, and then Angel slowly, very slowly, places the book back. He is very slightly pressing into the touch. His hand comes up and rests over Wesley’s wrist. Holding it like that, he can probably snap it if he tries. He isn’t trying anything of the sort. His thumb is sensuously caressing the palm of Wesley’s hand as Wesley’s fingers drift from the nape of his neck down and around to the collarbone. Skin on skin is the only sound. The moment seems to last for hours.
It ends. Wesley’s brain finally realises what his hand is doing and he snatches it back with a yelp. But the threatened grasp of Angel’s fingers suddenly becomes a reality and he’s brought back Angel's hand too. Angel is undeniable; they stand. Toe to toe, groin to groin, so close and so far. Angel is smiling slightly and his eyes are dark and hungry. It’s extremely disconcerting.
This is not a look many people have seen on this face and survived, but Wesley isn’t afraid. Well, not of hurt-feed-kill. He’s far too busy being terrified of other things to give that any consideration.
“Wesley,” Angel murmurs, on that edge between whispering and full voice. “I’ve been waiting for so long.”
He can’t process this. It just sits there in his head, queued up behind I Touched Him! and He didn’t push me away! Somehow his mouth makes a response. “Y-you have?”
Angel’s smile deepens, his eyes still serious in their intensity. “You had to make the first move. I could have seduced you long ago –“ the fingers of his free hand graze across Wesley’s cheek, making nerve endings shout in his brain “– but I don’t want to do that. So, the first move must always be yours.”
Wesley’s mind is beginning to work again. Yes, I Touched Him! He Didn’t Push Me Away! Unless I am seriously mistaken something here, and that is always a possibility, he is encouraging me. He seems to be saying I have to take the initiative. Very well, um, the next logical step involves kissing of some sort. Oh Dear God.
Because all of Wesley’s fantasies have had Angel doing the seducing, Angel initiating the first kiss. Angel taking the lead. It is, after all, a reasonable assumption to make. Only, no. Angel is asking, insisting, that Wesley lean in and make mouth contact. He seems perfectly happy to stand there waiting forever and not helping one little bit. Oh Dear God.
But there’s no question of not doing it. Because this isn’t something you get offered more than once. Because Wesley knows he will never forgive himself if he doesn’t take this opportunity. Because there’s a heavy desk behind him and a large vampire in front of him and nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. His mind still running from the word ‘kiss’, Wesley does it.
And thank the gods, that’s all the initiative Angel’s asking from him for now. With the move having been made, it reverts back to Wesley’s prepared script. Angel’s confident mouth takes control of the kiss. Passionate, but not demanding. The message passed on by lips and tongue is I want, but I won’t take unless you give. Although Wesley is perfectly willing to give all. Anything and everything, all of his body.
The consideration is appreciated nevertheless. He even begins to relax a little. He has imagined all kinds of feelings for this kiss, but he never expected to feel comfortable. He is getting that way, though. His left arm is loosely around Angel’s waist. He’s not quite sure how that happened, but it feels natural. Angel tastes faintly of spices – old, dusty spices – and although his mouth is noticeably cooler than it should be, there isn’t the chill Wesley half-anticipated. And the anatomy of a kiss: stony teeth and palate, firm live caressing tongue and soft lips. Because he wants to, Wesley nips at Angel’s bottom lip, exploring the velvety inner curl. It’s like the most luxurious of eiderdowns, so full and soft you could dive into it. Angel answers this departure by pulling Wesley close against him, sending a twinge of lust to his cock.
He never wants this to come to an end, partly because it’s the most erotic experience of his life, and partly because when it does, he will be required to speak, answer questions. He’s afraid he’s not going to be able to say anything coherent, except possibly ‘Can I fuck you?’
The thought occurs to him that that may even be worth a try.
And yet when the first question does come, he is taken by surprise. “How long have you wanted me?” Angel asks it with their mouths scarcely an inch apart.
“Since always,” Wesley manages to reply. He doesn’t have the words for it right now, but he wants to explain that when he first arrived in Sunnydale, of course he knew that a tall, dark, mysterious stranger associating closely with Buffy would most likely be named Angel. Yet even with his kneecaps at stake he had refused to make the connection, because he vehemently resisted the idea of being attracted to a vampire. Well, he’s long over that now.
“Do you always take this long to get around to doing something?” Angel pulls out the familiar wry half-smile, and Wesley knows he’s being teased. But he’s far too keyed up not to react, indignantly starting to point out the obvious. Angel shushes him. “Yeah, okay, I know. Are you a virgin with men?”
Not such a simple question as it looks, that one. “Um, not exactly. But by no means experienced.”
The story of the various sexual encounters of Wesley’s life would be an hour and much embarrassment in the telling. But telling isn’t required. “I get that,” Angel says. He’s completely serious now. “Listen, what do you want from this? Because as much as I’ve thought about it, I’ve never come to any conclusion.”
“I can’t even approach an answer to that.” Wesley answers softly. The concern and honest confusion on Angel’s face are emboldening, despite the ghastly nagging knowledge that this has to be a dream. Either that, or five minutes ago he quietly slipped into an alternate universe. “But the one thing I’m sure of is that I don’t want to have to walk away and try to forget.”
“That was never on the list of options.”
Definitely an alternate universe. Because in the real world, Angel doesn’t desire Wesley. In the real world, the utmost Wesley can hope for is to be a warm body offering comfort. So he’s not in the real world. He’s in some other world where Angel is capable of sexual love for Wesley. All right.
And he is just beginning to believe in this when Angel steps away. “I wanna get this right,” Angel says. “And I don’t think rushing into anything now is getting it right. Also, let’s not forget the Lamia running around LA going mad from her wounds.”
“Right. The Lamia.” Wesley is dizzy and confused, stranded between worlds.
Angel picks up the volume of the Al-Rukh and lays it on the desk behind Wesley. He studies him, those deep eyes unreadable. “Wes, this isn’t a rejection.” He leans closer in. “It’s a promise.”
Wesley licks his lips, and he sees a flare of lust on Angel’s face. Quite suddenly his two worlds click together. That one expression has tipped the balance over into acceptance. This is real. That doesn’t make it any less confusing, but he joyfully believes it’s happening. “A postponement?” he says with growing confidence. “Until after the case?”
“That’s good for me.”
Angel smiles gently in relief, and steps back. “I really want to find a way to heal this Lamia,” he continues, going back to a much earlier conversation. “They’re rare and wonderful creatures.”
Wesley too slips easily, astonishingly easily, into the old routine. “And I said I will try, Angel, but first you have to capture her.”
“I’ll figure out a way,” Angel retorts, his defensive tone indicating he knows how thin that sounds. He heads off to pace and hope for a flash of inspiration. Wesley opens the Al-Rukh and tries to remember how an Arabic index works. The research night rolls on.