The feeling of her lips on his as he pushed his body against hers –
Her veins throbbing against his fingertips as he started to squeeze –
He stays silent.
“Wes,” Cordelia says through the door, unmistakably annoyed. “Why aren’t you at work?”
“The hotel isn’t big enough for two serial brooders. Come on, let me in.”
“Or you’ll what?”
She’s still. He can almost hear her bite her lip.
“I’ll monologue at you.”
He stands up and marches over to the door. “Fine. Just don’t try to make me feel better.”
“Ha!” She steps in, brandishing a handbag like a sledgehammer. “I’m here to yell at you.”
“Oh,” he says, slinking down into a chair. “OK then.”
“Great.” She walks into the room, grabs a chair and sits down opposite him. “First things first. Why did you touch that blood? I mean, that’s first aid 101, isn’t it? I thought you were a scientist.”
He hangs his head. “I know. That was completely irresponsible.”
“Secondly. What’s with the self-flagellation? I talked to Fred and Gunn and they are both completely fine.”
He snaps up his head. “I’ve tried to kill Fred!”
“With a battleaxe!”
Cordelia snorts. “Yeah! That’s because she was the only woman in the room. You would have tried to kill me, too.”
He looks away. “You have no idea, Cordy. The things I’ve felt…”
“That’s because you were possessed. By a demon.” She puts her hand on his arm. “You didn’t judge Angel the last time that happened to him. Why are you so hard on yourself?”
He draws up his shoulders. “Like I said. I was completely irresponsible…”
“So you have to go sit in the closet like the naughty boy you are.”
He looks at her. “What?”
“You know. Like your father made you do.”
He moves back. “What’s my father got to do with this?”
“I've just always wanted to know. Why would he do that?”
“Punish you like that. I mean, there’s always dessert, right? Or TV time? Why would a grown man lock a little boy up under the stairs?”
He stands up. “I don’t want to talk-”
“Is it a British thing?” Cordy goes on relentlessly, “Because it is in Harry Potter –”
“Because it wouldn’t leave marks, OK?” Wesley snaps.
Cordy stares. “What?”
Wesley forces himself to keep breathing. “My father was head of field operations,” he says tonelessly. “One of the strongest men around. If he’d beat me, that would have been dangerous.” He swallows. “And obvious, too.”
Cordelia’s face falls. “Wow.” She is silent for a moment. “But… aren’t there things under stairs? Like ghouls, and… praying mantis eggs?”
Wesley shrugs. “I’m sure he did preliminary sweeps.” He takes off his glasses. “Cordelia, why – ”
“Shush!” She stands up too. “What about your mom? Did she know about it?”
He feels something cramp in his chest.
“Then why didn’t she do anything?”
The cramps get stronger. “I’m sure she has. Many times.”
He feels a surge of love for her. Somehow, she’s still so innocent.
“Cordy. Being a Watcher is a calling. It runs in families. In blood. You can’t escape it. Even when you try.”
Cordy raises her eyebrows. “So?”
“We have a duty.” He pushes her down on the chair, pulls up his chair to sit next to her and takes her hand. “To face demons without a group… Cordy, we’re human. We don’t have super strength. Do you know how lucky you are still to be alive?”
“So you’re saying she didn’t dare stand up to your father because she was afraid to be thrown out and – what? Eaten by a Mohra demon?”
“It’s not that simple.”
“It sounds that simple to me.”
Wesley sighs. “For God’s sake, Cordy. The Council has a whole department that does nothing but devise Cruciamenta. What my father did to me was hardly unusual.”
Cordy shakes her head. “You people.” Then she looks at him. “So when did it stop? The closet thing?”
“Will you let that go already?”
“No. Wesley. When did it stop? Did your mother – ”
“Ah.” He rubs his temple. “No. I… er- I grew too big.”
Cordelia buries her face in her hands. “Jesus.” He turns away, but she grabs his arm.
“Wesley. Listen to me. What was done to you was a crime. Billy, those Watchers – they’re criminals. You can’t do those things to yourself when something happens to you. Or you mess up.”
He lowers his eyes. “So I did mess up.”
She grins. “Yeah! Blood safety, remember?”
He swallows. “My bad.”
“You said.” She brushes some hairs from his temple. Then she grins. “Now you’d better come with me or it’s no Mario Party for you.”
He frowns. “Mario Party?”
“Uhuh. I suggested shopping, but Angel said you’re not into that…”
Wesley turns away. “I don’t know…”
“Come on! We have popcorn, and marshmellows, and jello…”
“And biscuits?” he says hopefully.
“Even better.” Cordelia turns to grab her handbag and flashes an enormous smile as she opens it. One moment later, she reveals a jar of Branston.
He gasps. “I love you!” He takes the jar, carefully puts it on the ground next to the chair and then pulls Cordelia into a tight hug.
He pulls back slightly.
“I still don't understand - why did you have to bring up my father?”
She smiles. “Because you were vulnerable, Wes. I could have gotten you drunk, but this was faster.” She touches his face. "Also. You've been carrying this around for ages. That's bad enough. But we can't have demons use it against you, too."
Wesley frowns. "So it's all for the greater good."
Cordelia looks away. "Yes." As he moves back, she grabs his hand. "But that's not the only good. The smaller good's important too. In fact, it's more important." She rubs his palm. "We love you, Wes."
He feels something burn behind his eyes. “Please don’t tell the others,” he whispers.
Cordelia grimaces. "Wes - they know."
"Fred doesn't," he says vehemently. “Please, Cordy. Don’t tell Fred.”
Her eyes soften. “I won’t.” She turns. “Come on then! Tea time!”
Now he's really crying. "Just give me a minute," he chokes. He pulls out a handkerchief and dabbs at his eyes. Then he turns back around. "Cordelia?"
He blinks his tears away.
She smiles. “You’re welcome.”