And When You Sleep You Remind Me of the Dead
Pairing: Angel/Wesley (friendship)
Word count: in the ballpark of 1250
Summary: After Home. Angel is haunted.
Notes: For kaethe (I hope I spelled that right) My requests were: slash or gen, drama/angst, h/c, happy or hopeful ending. I have a couple of apologies - one, despite the title of the challenge, it's far more about Angel than Wes. Two - there's some h, a little c, but not an awful lot of either...
The Wolfram and Hart building had ghosts.
Angel didn't much care one way or the other if ex-employees - those who had been too far down the food chain to merit the perpetuity clause that kept Lilah and Holland Manners on the metaphysical payroll - wanted to hang around. He didn't notice the cold spots in the building that Fred said gave her the willies, and as far as he was concerned, blood was a good look for the walls of the conference room. Gave the place some color. But when things in his office started to move around of their own accord, or smash against walls, it became far more irritating. Wes's department sent up the legal forms asking permission to exorcise the building, and he signed. In triplicate.
Every day there seemed to be another ton of forms that absolutely had to have his signature. Even with three secretaries, the paperwork threatened to bury him at any moment.
If he listened very carefully, he could hear Holland chuckling in Hell.
Fred and Lorne were both enraptured with their new jobs. On the rare occasions that he saw them outside staff meetings, the conversation tended to be a one-sided, slightly breathless rundown of whatever exciting new project they were working on, ending with an "I'm late for my two o'clock/particle accelerator tests/meeting with Barbra, bye, Angel." Gunn had become more and more distant. Angel hadn't noticed any change, at first, only realizing when Wes voiced his concerns just how much time Gunn was spending in the White Room.
Wes came to him for advice, now. That felt strange, after all this time, like a suit that didn't quite fit anymore.
Buffy had been in touch just once. Her five minute phone call had told him nothing except that she was on her way to Cleveland, she was fine, Sunnydale was gone, and Spike was dead. He hadn't been able to think of anything to say. "Sorry that guy who definitely wasn't your boyfriend but was in your heart, whatever that means, got killed. So, how's the baking coming along?" didn't seem to quite cut it.
One word to the guys in Intel and he would know exactly where she was, how she was doing and what she'd eaten for breakfast every day for the past month, but he didn't make the call. She'd get in touch if she needed him.
Be nice to know that somebody did.
The penthouse was fitted with the same glass as the offices. His bedroom had wall-to-ceiling windows, and he learned to sleep with the sunlight streaming in rather than keep it out with the automatic shutters. Some afternoons he would lie awake and do nothing but enjoy the sun across his face. It was nothing that would cause him to lose his soul - with his son gone, and Cordy... asleep, and the certainty that with every one of those pieces of paper he put his name to he was bound a little tighter to evil, perfect happiness was nowhere near. But it was good. He figured it was meditation, of a sort. Let him get away from himself.
He was so far away from himself it took him a minute to realize what the ringing sound was.
"Angel," Wesley said without any preamble when he lifted the phone, "we've been trying to exorcise the ghost in your office. We've discovered something... unexpected."
The silence was so long he thought the connection had died. "Hello? Wes?"
When Wesley finally spoke, his words were slow. Measured. "We think the spirit may be Cordelia."
"She always looks so peaceful," he murmured. He could hear her heartbeat and breathing, both steady and sedate. He'd insisted the room not look like a hospital, so the monitors were discreetly out of sight, and the dresser was covered with photographs. Himself, Cordy, Wes, in groups or apart. No pictures, in this room or anywhere else, of Cordelia with a baby in her arms. Those had faded from existence the day he took the deal.
He sat down heavily in the chair by her bedside. "When you told me she was a ghost..." He focused on her heartbeat another moment. Reassurance.
Wes laid a hand on his shoulder, and without conscious thought he leaned into the touch. He always forgot how warm people were; warmer than the sun on his skin, even through the fabric of his shirt.
"We think Cordelia might be projecting on the astral plane in an attempt to communicate. I've already asked Fred's division to work with my people."
His people, Angel thought sourly, Wes has people. Everybody has people. But that was far less important than the rest of what he was saying. "You think she might wake up?"
He looked up, and saw the struggle on his friend's face as he tried to answer. It wasn't fear of being wrong that held him back, he knew. This Wesley had never been burdened with a prophecy telling him that Angel was going to kill his child. This Wesley had never been doubted. If he was hesitating, it was only to gauge how to best avoid raising false hopes.
"Angel, if there's any way to bring her back - medical or mystical - we're in the best possible position to find it."
The implication there was clear. He'd been right to take over the firm. He had been in Sunnydale while the others were first adjusting to the new circumstances. No time to answer questions about why he'd taken the deal, and when he'd returned everyone was too busy preparing the unnecessary second front to ask. He guessed they assumed his price had been finding Cordelia.
He reached out and took her hand, and was suddenly hit with a memory that wasn't his. Sitting by a bedside like this in an ordinary hospital. Ignoring Fred's gentle suggestions to go home and get some sleep. Wesley, pale and unconscious, throat bandaged, the pulse at his wrist thready under Angel's fingers. Hunting down Justine, and her retaliation that lead to him spending a summer beneath the sea.
He'd been dreaming things like that for a week, now. Things that had never happened, although he was sure if he asked they would tally with his friends' memories. It was sometimes confusing, as though his memory had double vision, and he would stake money that it was a parting gift from Lilah, one last headfuck to remember her by. If he even suspected that he was going to start believing what the others believed, if he had a shred of doubt that he was forgetting his son, he would go down to Hell himself to make the bitch pay.
For now, though, he pretended to himself that the life where he had pressed a pillow over Wes's face was the fiction, and this was reality; this Wes, who was open and unguarded and still his best friend. He covered Wes's hand with his free one.
"I want to help Cordy."
"Yes, I thought you might." Trace of amusement in the voice. "Members of my staff are going through the files, finding contacts. Shamans, magicians, certain breeds of demon, anyone who might be able to access the plane where Cordelia is."
"Good," he said, letting go of his friends and standing. "Get me the details. I'll track them down." He was already mentally going through what weapons he would need, which car would be best to take. He made to follow Wesley out, but stopped in the doorway, looking back at the bed.
'We're family' Cordy had told them once, back when things were simple.
It was time he proved her right.
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