Angel hasn’t seen him look so relaxed, so young, in months, maybe years. He keeps looking at his once and future friend and lover with almost-shock, because Wesley isn’t quite himself.
(“Let me tell YOU what the deal’s going to be,” he says to her, feeling her body tremble and wondering, wondering ever-so-idly, if it would be satisfying to snap her neck. Would there be a snap? Would she fall to the ground, or would she calmly pick up her head and reattach it?)
Wesley smiles, a slow and sensual expression that begins on his lips, biteable lips, textured, blood-warm lips. It moves into his eyes, crinkling the corners, lighting up the irises. The smile is light on finesse and heavy on want.
Angel thinks he might know how the smile feels.
(“No,” Lilah tells him, her galvanized corpse clearly weary from her efforts toward normal motion. She’s still beautiful, but then again, so were Darla and Jasmine. “I won’t let you.”
“Won’t let?” he asks quietly, his thumb resting on her scarf. It’s not a threat, it’s a promise. “You don’t have any choices left.”
“I have this last one,” she says fiercely. Her strange and always-knowing face is passion-bright. “And I won’t let you do this, Angel. Screw you. The world can go to hell.”)
“It has been a while,” Wes says, his voice still raspier than it was before the knife. He’s standing close enough for Angel to be able to identify individual notes in the combination of scents that make up Wesley. Aftershave. Sweat. Detergent residue, blood, shaving cream, the aftertaste of his dinner. “I’ve rather–”
“You don’t need to say it,” Angel interrupts, putting his hand on Wesley’s arm and pulling. “I know.”
(“So you’d ruin the deal. For what? Either way, you stay dead,” Angel growls at Lilah, who is stock-still and forcing herself not to tremble. “I want the LA office, and isn’t that what they want? And this is how. Connor gets a new start, Wolfram and Hart gets us. Everyone’s happy.”
“No, Angel, Connor’s happy,” she growls sharply. “But what about the rest of us? Those of us whose lives stay wrecked? You selfish fucking bastard, don’t you understand that–”
And he does. He gets it like a slap to the face.
“You think that if Wes doesn’t remember Connor, he won’t remember you. What happened,” Angel says, remembering another forgotten day. “Hurts, doesn’t it?”
“I’ll be in hell forever,” she says, smiling at him with sharp incisors. “If you take away the one thing that mattered, I’ll make sure you come down with me.”)
Angel decides to get reacquainted with the feel of Wesley’s mouth. It’s different now. The taste is sharper, and he’s not nearly as sweet or giving. Wesley always knew how to kiss, but now he’s almost feral. His teeth nip at Angel’s tongue, his tongue pauses almost too long, and his hands–
Oh, those hands. Thin. Strong. Infinitely well-trained in finding spots that make Angel push back harder, make him groan, make him strain against his suddenly-far-too-tight jeans.
“Angel,” Wesley murmurs into his ear. “Are we going to–?”
Now it’s Angel’s turn to smile, grabbing Wes by those narrow hips and pulling him in so Wes can feel just how very much they’re going to fuck. Wesley moans something in a language not English, and Angel thinks that it’s going to happen very, very soon.
(“I’m not going to sacrifice Connor’s future so you can have a good memory or two in hell,” Angel says. “This is the deal. Either you tell the goddamn Senior Partners right now, or I crush your skull, call them myself and tell them to send you to a part of hell so deep that you’ll–”
“What? Get raped and tortured by history’s greatest sinners in the fiery pits? Been there, done that,” she says, folding her arms around herself. “I won’t. You have taken everything from me, Angel. You and your bastard brat took my life, my choices, and my lover for your little melodrama. You get the law firm. You get everything, and I want THIS. I love him, Angel. And you cannot, you will not take that from me. Or Wesley. Or don’t you care about him?”)
The world is Wesley grinding against Angel’s erection. Or so it seems. Friction. The sound of ragged human breath against Angel’s neck, moist and hot and playing in concert with Wesley’s pulse. The smell of aroused, wanting Wes and Angel. The sight of Wesley’s dark hair against his cheek. This is a better world. The one that Angel and Wesley both need, with enemies to fight and each other to keep the dark away.
“Bedroom,” Angel orders, aware that if he wanted, he could have Wesley on his knees right now. All the bite seemed to go out of Wes at the moment the other man realized that Angel was hard. That Angel wants Wes more than he wants almost anything.
“God, yes,” Wesley gasps as they stumble-dance toward Wesley’s large and accommodating bed. Angel realizes almost too late what that could mean. What sort of ghosts might be waiting thanks to the promises he made.
(“He’ll be happier,” Angel counters. “Without Connor in his mind. You know that. And I don’t think he could forget you. You’ve done such a good job wrecking him, Lilah.”
Angel has never understood Lilah, but he thinks as he watches her eyes darken and her resolve turn into desperation, that maybe she was human after all. That he missed something vital when he saw her thing with Wesley as a game for bored lawyer bitches. That maybe he’s taking more than he thought.
“You’ll make a deal with me,” she says in a voice not much more than a whisper. “I’ll say yes to you if you say yes to me. I’ll give in right now, but you have to promise me something.”)
The room is almost cheerfully empty of memory, of regret, but it is not without desire. Angel barely avoids pouncing as they hit the bed–running’s not the right word. They hit the bed in mid-kiss, scrabbling at each other’s clothes. Desperate.
Wes has always been so good for him. Angel can’t understand how it got fucked in the first place, how he gave this up, the taste of this man squirming beneath his touch, his hips, his mouth. Nothing has ever had this same taste, the–Angel doesn’t have words. It’s a certain feel to Wes and him that makes it good. Better than good.
“I want you to fuck me,” Wes says, looking up at him with feverish eyes. God, those eyes, and Angel’s brain is dizzy with how very much he wants to tear the jeans off Wesley’s skinny frame. Will tear them off, possibly with his teeth, because everything about Wes says fuck me now and fuck me hard.
“Do you have–?” Angel asks, looking at the bedside drawer.
“As if I would be unprepared,” Wes answers with a chuckle and a withering little grin.
(They’re both silent as Angel looks at Lilah, stunned at the power of her request.
“I promise,” Angel says, looking at the way she’s almost fallen through the floor from the strain. Lilah loves Wesley in a way he never did love Cordy. And the thought of what she’s just given up with a promise…it’s good that she’s dead and it’s good that she’s bound by her perpetuity clause.
Lilah could have eaten them all alive. Still might.
“You promise,” she says, not crying. Angel knows that she wouldn’t in front of him. “Then yes. Yes. Take your deal. The firm’s yours.”
Just like that, it’s done. Something about the air changes and Lilah falls back into the chair, looking as though the entire world has been placed on her shoulders and her heart will always be breaking from here on out, that first sharp feeling when the jagged edge reaches the bone. Angel will remember that look for the rest of his life, because it will be the one he knows he has when Connor’s blood covers his hands.
The phone rings.)
“Of course you would be,” Angel replies with a nasty grin, putting his tongue against the scar and pulling at Wesley’s shirt. “You’re always so prepared, Wes.”
Wesley moans again as Angel grinds against him, clutching at Angel’s shoulder. “Damn it, Angel–”
“Say please,” Angel murmurs before nibbling Wesley’s earlobe.
(“He has?” she says into the receiver. “No, I know where he went. I’ll take care of it.”
She looks at him. “Wes?” he asks.
“He’s going to do something stupid,” she says. “It’s why I love him. And you?”
“I know the deal,” Angel says. She nods, that horrible brilliance lighting her eyes. “Lilah?”
“Yeah?” she asks.
“He’ll remember. You don’t forget if it’s real,” he says. They both know it’s a lie. “And he does.”
“Keep your promise, Angel,” she says. “And I’ll keep mine.”
And when he sees her next, with the file and the amulet, he knows she has and that he will.)
Angel tears Wesley’s shirt off, looking at the nice, warm skin that’s all his. He licks Wes’s stomach, reveling in the taste, enjoying the obscene noises Wes is making as Angel’s teeth get closer to his fly. He has missed this.
He has missed Wes, and now Wes is back. And better. All his to take care of. Broken heart, deep wounds, everything. And he’ll make sure that Wesley’s happy now.
He made a promise to a dead lady.
Oh, Wesley’s eyes tell a story as Angel tears off the jeans. They most certainly do.
But for the woman waiting in hell and the man who not two days ago tried to set her free? It’s an entirely different story than either Wes or Angel think.