S2 Ficlet

Oct. 16th, 2005 04:21 pm
elgrey: Artwork by Suzan Lovett (WGC_Reunion)
[personal profile] elgrey
In From The Cold – ANGEL S2. GEN. Friendship vignette. PG. Set post ‘Epiphany’. A glimpse of life at Angel Investigations after Angel’s return in ‘Epiphany’. Characters: Angel, Wesley, Cordelia, Gunn, (23KB 2,685 words)

Title: In From the Cold
Author: ELG
Fandom: Angel fandom
Category: Gen, friendship
Rating: PG
Warnings: Mention of Wesley's gunshot wound and small amount of blood.
Season: S2 of Angel, post-‘Epiphany’ ficlet
Spoilers: Everything up to Disharmony on Angel.
Summary: A glimpse of life at Angel Investigations after Angel’s return in ‘Epiphany’.
Characters: Angel, Wesley, Cordelia, Gunn.
DISCLAIMER: ANGEL and its characters is the property of Joss Whedon (Mutant Enemy), David Greenwalt (LazyDave), Fox, and the WB network. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author.

In From the Cold

Angel didn’t know how much longer he could go without saying something. Cordelia had wandered into the office, absently rubbed Wesley’s back and asked him if he was okay and he had assured her he was fine. Gunn had wandered in, handed him a cup of tea, peered over his shoulder at what he was researching, said it looked ‘nasty’ then asked him if he was okay and Wesley had assured him that he was fine. Gunn had given him a brief searching look, and then said, “Okay” before leaving.

But Wesley wasn’t ‘fine’. He was getting more and more uncomfortable as he kept researching while his back ached and his wound throbbed. If Angel had still been the boss he could have ordered him to take a break, Shriva Demon or no Shriva Demon. But that wasn’t his place now, so all he could do, from his corner of the office, was go on researching while keeping an eye on Wesley. But, of course, the moment he had gone into the next room to heat up some blood, Wesley had got up and reached up – reaching being one of the things he absolutely wasn’t allowed to do – and by the time Angel came back there were two big heavy books on the desk that hadn’t been there before and Wesley was sitting very still while looking very pale.

Angel gave him a searching look and Wesley pretended to busy himself with research. “Are you okay?” he asked quietly.

Wesley darted a nervous look at where Gunn and Cordelia were wrangling affectionately by the front desk about who did the most work around here.

“Oh yeah, because dusting is so important in the scheme of demon-killing...”

“You know, it’s never a good idea to annoy the woman who will be sending you on your next dice with death and could leave out oh so many important little details...”

“Fine,” Wesley assured him, reaching for a pen, presumably for something to do as he already had one in his hand and another behind his ear.

Angel could smell the blood. He suspected Wesley was deliberately not looking down so he could tell himself he hadn’t actually started his wound bleeding again by doing something very stupid that he was absolutely forbidden to do just because he couldn’t wait thirty seconds to cross-reference.

Even more quietly, Angel said: “I’ll tell them.”

Wesley darted him a look, trying to appear stern. “Do I need to remind you that you are no longer the person in charge?”

“I’ll still tell them.”

Wesley dropped stern and went straight to panicky. “Don’t.”

“I heard Cordelia give you the lecture about calling them if you needed anything.”

“I forgot.” Wesley looked back out at the front desk. “You wouldn’t really…?”

“I might,” Angel shrugged. “I am member of the evil undead, after all.”

“But you’re not…evil now,” Wesley said hastily. “You’re…good. You’re on a mission to help the helpless and protect the innocent and to not rat people out to their friends.”

“I didn’t realize that was now a part of my mission.”

“It’s in the very small print.” Wesley gave him a pleading look.

Angel was saved having to answer by Gunn coming in. The man took one look at the two heavy books on Wesley’s desk and then turned to Angel. “Did you get those down for him?”

Angel shook his head.

“Judas…!” Wesley hissed at him.

Gunn looked at Wesley levelly. “Are you and me going to have to have another talk?”

Wesley gazed up at Gunn anxiously, all big eyes and open mouth, and Angel thought it was very unlikely that Gunn was going to be able to say anything too harsh to him. Gunn put a hand on his forehead and said, “Hmm, no temperature but you’re looking pretty pasty even for an English guy.” He decisively crossed to where Wesley’s wheelchair was still folded in the corner, unfolded it with a flourish and kicked down the stands, then pointed. “In.”

“I don’t need it,” Wesley protested.

Gunn just looked at him. “Am I going to tell Cordy what you just did or are you going to get in the…?”

But Wesley has already snatched up his cane and was manoeuvring himself into the wheelchair. Angel watched Gunn as Wesley did that and saw the concern in the young man’s brown eyes, his hand going to Wesley’s shoulder to steady him. He plucked the pen from behind his ear and tossed it onto the desk.

“I’m taking Wes out for some sunshine,” Gunn called to Cordelia, lowering his voice to add sternly to Wesley: “And a little talk.”

Angel didn’t need to be a seer to know that Wesley was going to be wheeled to somewhere Gunn could take a good look at those stitches and a possible trip to the hospital if he had done them too much damage.

Wesley gazed up at Gunn with a mixture of pleading and affection in his eyes and Gunn dropped the stern look to give him a little smile back. Watching them gaze into each other’s eyes with all that ease and friendship, Angel could only sigh. He remembered when the only person Wesley gazed at as if he had all the answers was him. Now Gunn was the recipient of all that bonding and comradeship. He had tried on several occasions to be happy about it. It was good that Wesley had a friend, an equal, someone human and around his own age, who he could like without the need to hero worship... He wasn’t hero-worshipping Gunn, was he? Angel darted them another look. No, an affection that was at the top end of the friendly scale, but that didn’t seem to be hero-worship. He hoped not anyway. He didn’t really like the way Wesley had beamed up at Gunn when Gunn had told him he was ‘my man’. Gunn was a little over inclined to say things like that for Angel’s liking. Telling Wesley that he was his ruler when he beat him at Risk, calling him ‘baby’ and saying that Wesley was his ‘man’ quite casually on a number of occasions. People didn’t get to own other people and if they did then it ought to be Angel doing the owning anyway, seeing as how he was the one who had rescued Wesley and Cordelia from cockroach-filled apartments and given them a cause and kept them alive and…fired them.

He slumped inwardly from his righteous indignation place. All ownership rights forfeited, that was the reality of it, and Gunn was getting to step into the place that he had left.

Cordelia came in and looked critically at Wesley. “He does look a little pasty – even for an English guy.”

Wesley rolled his eyes at the repetition and Cordelia picked up her purse. “I think I’ll come with you. I could do with some sunshine too. Angel can answer the phone.”

Angel briefly thought longingly of the time when he had been the one to give the orders; atonement really was a bitch sometimes.

Cordy caught sight of the books on the table and put her head on one side. “Weren’t they...?” She turned to Angel. “Did you get those down for him?”

Wesley gave Gunn a deer-in-headlights look and Gunn said hastily: “Hey, it’s cool. Wes is remembering to ask for help when he needs it because he knows it would be very very stupid of him not to. Isn’t that right, English?”

“Yes, Charles,” said Wesley meekly.

Gunn looked at Cordelia and frowned. “Did you...?”

“What...?” she demanded.

“Your hair looks kind of...weird.”

“What...?” Horrified, she dashed for the nearest mirror.

Gunn quickly dropped to his knees and lifted up Wesley’s sweater, shirt, and t-shirt to take a look at his wound. There was blood on the bandage and Gunn gave Wesley a very stern look.

“I’m sorry,” Wesley hissed. “I forgot. It’s not as if I’m practised at being an invalid.”

“Well, you’re going to be damned practised if you don’t stop busting your stitches open, because you’re never going to be getting out of this wheelchair again.”

Angel handed Gunn the first aid kid as he looked around for it and then went to the doorway to stand guard. Cordelia was combing her hair, a frown of concentration on her face as she reached for the styling mousse.

When Angel looked around he did a double take as Wesley had his eyes closed and his mouth open and Gunn had his face right by his… Then he blinked and realized that Gunn must have quickly undone the old dressing and was examining the wound. “The stitches are still there, you’re just…oozing a little.” Gunn had the dressing changed and the new lint stuck on so fast that Angel got an insight into just how much of Wesley’s after-injury care must have been done by the younger man. It suddenly hit him that Wesley would have been entirely helpless after they sent him home from the hospital, and Virginia would not have been capable of carrying him in and out of a car or taking him to the bathroom or helping him to bathe. He felt a sense of loss at the realization that he could have done all of those things easily. It would have cost him very little to pick Wesley up and put him in the bathtub but it must have been hours of painful effort for Wesley to struggle through all those little tasks himself. It had probably been something of a strain for Gunn despite Wesley’s skin-and-bone physique. It wasn’t even as if Angel hadn’t known. He had seen him in the hospital and knew how slow the recovery period was for these fragile thin-skinned humans. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t been around when Wesley had been in a wheelchair last time.

He remembered it abruptly, raising that limp head, the smell of singed flesh and blood and the sound of a heartbeat so strong that they overwhelmed even the roar of flames and crashing masonry. It occurred to him that he hadn’t smelt Virginia’s perfume on Wesley once since he’d come back.

As Gunn re-bandaged with that same deft efficiency, Angel went out to where Cordelia was still fiddling with her hair. “Hey…” he said to warn her he was there.

She still gave a stifled shriek, jumped, and then turned around to thump him. “Don’t do that.”

“I tried to warn you,” he protested. “I wanted to ask you something.”

“Ask away,” she returned, turning back to her reflection – the one that didn’t reflect him – and re-applying her make up.

“Did Wesley and Virginia break up?”

She nodded. “The night I went to the Sharp’s. Great girlfriend, eh? Couldn’t deal with the reality of him getting hurt.”

“We are in a high risk job,” he offered, not wanting to judge the girl even though he was angry with her for abandoning him right then.

She turned around to say: “Yes, and it really doesn’t hurt at all when you’re already in pain all the time to have people walk away from you because you’re just too much trouble if there’s a possibility you’re going to get yourself injured and they might have to…you know…care.”

He flinched. “I’m not saying she made the right choice. I’m just saying that it’s tough to see people you care about getting hurt.”

“Yeah, well, I might have been more sympathetic if she hadn’t been one of the things hurting him.”

Angel knew that was also meant for him too. He also knew he deserved it. “I’m sorry Wesley was shot. I’m sorry they broke up. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when…when he needed me.”

“He didn’t need you.” She faced him. “He had us.”

“Damned right.”

Angel turned around to find Gunn had finished bandaging Wesley up, pulled his clothing back down to cover his handiwork, and was now wheeling him into the lobby.

Cordelia picked up her purse. “You ready to go?”

Gunn nodded. “Got my car keys, got my wallet, got an axe and a stake in the truck, and got my very own English patient. What else does a young vampire killer about town need for a coffee break?”

As Gunn wheeled Wesley past him, Wesley twisted around in his wheelchair to give Angel a look of concern. “We won’t be long. Is there anything you’d like us to bring you back…?”

Wesley wasn’t really very good at being stern. Angel had noticed that he could sustain it reasonably well when it was just the two of them but any hint of Cordelia or Gunn being unkind to him and Wesley started to flutter anxiously. It was one of the many things he loved about Wesley.

“Yeah, dead virgin, dead nun?” Gunn enquired grimly.

Angel saw that apologetic grimace from Wesley, the one saying that Gunn didn’t mean to be unkind and please don’t be upset and don’t be angry with Gunn because he really didn’t mean it and Wesley was sorry they were being mean to him but it was just because their feelings were hurt and they would get over it they really would. Wesley had very expressive eyes. Angel was too warmed by the real concern for him from Wesley that the man wasn’t able to disguise to mind a few little jibes from Gunn. He shrugged. “MacDonalds are doing those now? I wondered who would get the jump on the vampire catering franchise. Bring me back a quarterdeader.”

Wesley giggled while both Gunn and Cordelia looked stony, then looked at Wesley, who hastily put his face back into a stern expression and said, “So, you’ll answer the phone then, Angel?”

Angel nodded. “Sure thing.”

As they wheeled Wesley out of the door, Cordelia was saying: “Stop laughing at his jokes.”

“I thought it was funny.”

“English, you and me need to have a serious talk about the so-called British sense of humour.”

“I don’t see that we have to be unkind to Angel. He did come back and he’s working for us now. Doesn’t that prove he must genuinely want to help...?”

Cordelia snorted, Gunn grunted, and then they were wheeling Wesley out into the sunlight where Angel could never follow.

He sighed and then reminded himself that they would come back, in an hour or so, and Wesley would probably bring him something, as Gunn wasn’t very good at refusing Wesley anything when Wesley was in a wheelchair and giving him the big blue begging eyes, so Wesley could easily wheedle a few extra donuts out of him and he would slip them to Angel and they would exchange a little smile just like in the old days, until Gunn or Cordy came in and Wesley would have to pretend to be all cool and aloof again.

Angel sat down in the office again and looked at those big heavy books Wesley had got down, and yes, he had opened up his wound again, but he was able to lift books down now, he wasn’t dead, and he had Gunn and Cordelia, as they had told him. But he also had Angel. Whether they liked it or not, these three were his family, and he was back with them again, and this time he wasn’t ever letting them go.

The End

Date: 2005-10-16 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eloise-bright.livejournal.com
I'm a bit of a broken record, I know, but I love this!

Wes being all stern until Gunn or Cordy diss Angel, then jumping to his defence. Such a sweetie. Lovely fic!

Date: 2005-10-18 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elgrey.livejournal.com
Thank you for all the reading and feedbacking you've done and also for reccing my fic. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. And I don't think Wesley is very good at being stern with Angel and I do kind of love that about him although I also love the few occasions when he attempts to be. (I did cheer when he finally raised his voice to him in 'Smile Time'. Four and a half years of low-toned tolerance and Wesley finally cracked. Angel's shocked face at being yelled at by Wesley was so much fun.)

Date: 2005-10-17 07:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kattahj.livejournal.com
Aw. You really know how to give me the warm fuzzy feeling. :-)

Date: 2005-10-18 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elgrey.livejournal.com
Happy I could oblige! :)

Date: 2005-10-18 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] briesas.livejournal.com
very sweet! Thanks!

Date: 2005-10-18 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elgrey.livejournal.com
You're welcome, and thank you for the feedback.

Me again

Date: 2005-10-18 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whisp.livejournal.com
Great ficlet. I love the hint of jealousy Angel got when he realized how close Gunn and Wes had gotten.


Re: Me again

Date: 2005-10-18 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elgrey.livejournal.com
Thank you for the feedback. I just love that scene in Epiphany where Angel sulks about them having bonded. In my happy place Angel would always sulk about Wesley and Gunn bonding while Gunn and Wesley bonded more. Wesley could bond with Angel too, of course. I'm an equal opportunities bonder where Wesley is concerned.

Re: Me again

Date: 2005-10-19 06:13 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
lol. Wes bondage. Mmmmmm. Definitely sounds good to me.


elgrey: Artwork by Suzan Lovett (Default)

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