The Last Man
Word Count: 1,358
Feedback: I love comments. Concrit is very welcome by email.
Disclaimer: Sadly not mine, Joss own them.
Summary: Set sometime in early Season 2 of AtS.
The phone isn’t ringing. The clients aren’t coming into the office.
Angel knows he should be unhappy about this, but he’s too busy sneaking out of the lobby and up to his own space.
A/N: Thanks to southernbangel for organizing the Fluffathon!
Thanks to the completely awesome savoytruffle for finding the time to do a wonderful beta which vastly improved the story and for her support while I flailed nervously about the fic. Any mistakes are mine (and you're always welcome to point out any to me!).
The Last Man
The phone isn’t ringing. The clients aren’t coming into the office.
Angel knows he should be unhappy about this, but he’s too busy sneaking out of the lobby and up to his own space. Far above Cordy and Wes (Gunn had wisely taken off at the first sign of ‘nothing to do’) and their bickering. Either they really care what the Angel Investigations stationary should look like, or it’s some bizarre mating ritual. And if that’s the case, Angel definitely wants to be as far away as possible.
He’s easing back into his chair, The Last Man in his hand, when the knock comes at the door.
Angel sighs. So much for some quiet time.
It’s Wesley, doing that awkward hovering he still reverts to occasionally.
“Yes?” Angel tries to keep the impatience out of his tone. Wes’s half-step backwards probably means he failed.
“I was just – Cordy left for the day. She said…” Wesley takes a step forward, frowning at Angel. “Is that what I think it is?”
“What?” Angel almost jumps up to remove the evidence… of the violent crime he didn’t commit. He smoothes his shirt instead and tries to look calm – adds ‘still reacts as if an evil-doer’ to his list of things to work on.
“You’re brooding!” Wesley actually shakes a finger at Angel. “For no reason at all.”
“I’m reading.” He holds up the unopened book. “Or trying to, anyway.”
“Oh yes.” Wes crosses his arms. “Because reading a story about the slow extinction of the human race written from the perspective of the last man on earth as he wanders the world alone certainly wouldn’t qualify as brooding. Truly an uplifting leisure activity.”
“I’m not at the plague part yet,” Angel says.
Wesley appears unimpressed. “Ah yes, the lengthy and largely pointless backstory. I should certainly withdraw my criticism.”
Angel has always resented British sarcasm. He opens the book to the marked page, hoping to find a helpful defense. O wherefore are love and ruin for ever joined in this our mortal dream? he reads.
Apparently books don’t hold all the answers.
Angel shrugs but keeps the book open.
Wesley shakes his head, then turns and leaves.
Angel’s a bit surprised at this abrupt departure but isn’t going to question it. He’s alone again.
Sadly, the solitude is short-lived.
Wes reenters – without knocking – carrying a tray with a teapot, tea cups and what may be scones. He places them on the table beside Angel and helps himself to the nearest chair.
Unsure what to say, Angel just stares. His eyes widen when Wes pours a cup of tea and hands it him.
“Tea?” Angel finds himself repeating as the tiny cup is thrust into his too-large hands.
“I thought some socializing would do you good.” Wes adds sugar to his own tea.
“And that made you think of tea?” Angel watches the steam swirl up from his cup.
“Well, I am British. There is no ill that cannot be cured – or at least lessened – by a good cup of tea.”
Somehow Angel doubts that.
But finds himself reaching for the sugar and scooping in two generous spoonfuls. He tastes it and makes a face, adds another spoonful and some milk.
They drink in silence.
When Wes passes him a scone, Angel decides just to go with it, to embrace the tea experience.
He also decides to stop using the words ‘embrace’ and ‘experience’ in the same thought. He’s been in California too long.
He’s drawing the line at actually consuming human food, though. “I’m not eating it.” Angel motions to the scone. “Just trying to be social.”
“I didn’t make them.” Wes bites into his own, and “Mmms.”
“Still not eating it.”
An odd feeling is growing in Angel’s chest. It’s not the feeling of a soul being ripped from his body, and it doesn’t make him want to dance – both of which are to be avoided at all costs – but it is something like happiness. The word ‘content’ comes to mind.
It’s probably just the sugar – he’s always had a low sugar tolerance. Still, it’s nice just sitting here quietly with Wes.
So, of course, the quiet is spoiled. “Ten years ago, I envisioned a career spent successfully molding and guiding a slayer, before retiring to write and research for the Council. Had anyone even dared to suggest I’d be working with a vampire, let alone taking tea with one, I’d have laughed him from the room.” Wes takes a sip of tea. “In a very proper way of course,” he says with a slight smile.
“Yeah, vampires aren’t really known for drinking tea.” Angel doesn’t share that the tea’s a welcome change from pig’s blood day in, day out. “You haven’t failed, you know. Well, I guess things with Faith didn’t turn out so well, but it was Faith…” Angel grimaces. “Has Cordelia warned you that I’m not supposed to give pep talks?”
“I’m afraid failure has become one of the more oft used words in my father’s vocabulary these past few years.”
Angel snorts. “Fathers.” He puts down his tea cup. “Watcher clearly may not have been your calling, but you’re still fighting the good fight.”
“I suppose.” Wes spins his cup in the saucer.
“Look who’s brooding now.” Angel smiles at Wes. “Listen: you do good every day. You don’t just help someone else fight, you’re the one doing the fighting, saving lives, helping people. It’s our whole Angel Investigations motto… or is it slogan?”
“Motto.” Wes breaks off a piece of scone. “Mission statement would also be applicable. And now that you mention it, we should write one up.”
“I’ll leave that to you,” Angel says.
“You’re right!” Wes springs to his feet. “We do make a difference in the world. I make a difference.” He turns to face Angel, his thumbs under his lapels. “I’m a hero, really!”
He steps forward and slips on the edge of the carpet. Before Angel can move to catch him, Wes has crashed down on his ass.
Angel whips his hand up in front of his mouth, to hide his smile. “You alright?”
“Yes, yes.” Wes looks down at the ground as he pushes himself up and brushes himself off. When he takes a step back to his chair, he lets out a surprised, “Ow!”
Angel’s up in an instant and puts an arm around Wes. “Is it your ankle?”
“I believe so.” He places his foot down again and winces. “Yes, definitely.”
“Let me see.” Angel leads Wes over to his bed. He pushes up his pant leg, slides off his shoe and sock.
He feels his way around the foot and ankle and is relieved to find no broken bones, just some discoloration and a small amount of swelling. “Just bruised, nothing serious.”
“Good.” Wes winces, then a smile stretches across his face. “A foot rub from a vampire. I daresay my younger self would have fainted at the very thought.”
“What?” Angel yanks his hands back. “That wasn’t – I was checking you for injuries.”
“I know.” Wes smirks. “I couldn’t resist. You get so outraged.”
“I do not get –” Angel glares at Wes. “Maybe I do, but just remember I could dip into my unsouled bag of evil tricks and inspire more than outrage.”
“It’s hard to take threats seriously from the man who just tenderly massaged my foot.”
“I wasn’t –” He shakes his head. “Listen, don’t breathe a word of this to Cordy. She’ll be demanding a pedicure.”
Wes smiles. “It’ll be our secret.”
“Good.” Angel returns the smile, then realizes he’s still sitting beside Wes’ foot. He stands up, shifts his weight from one of his own feet to the other.
Wes yawns. “Perhaps I’ll close my eyes for a moment while I let my foot heal.”
Angel nods and retreats back to his book. Quiet at last.
When Wes starts snoring a few minutes later, Angel is surprised to find that he doesn’t mind. He feels his earlier contentment wash back over him. Clearly it wasn’t the sugar after all.
He opens the novel, a smile on his face.
Pairing and/or character requested: Wes/Angel
Up to three things you would like included in your story: afternoon tea, foot rub, wish fulfilment
Up to three things you would not like in the story: anything to do with a case the team is working on.
Rating preference: I don't have a preference.
1. The book Angel’s reading (and the title’s inspiration) is Mary Shelley’s The Last Man.
2. I apologize to altyronsmaker for not quite meeting the “wish fulfilment” prompt but like to think that Angel finally getting peace and quiet (for the most part) at the end is wish fulfilment. (And yes, I realize that interpretation of the prompt is on the lame side ;) ).
3. And while I'm apologizing and writing endless notes, I'm sorry I didn't fully slash Wes/Angel - it was my first attempt writing the pairing. Hopefully you're not too disappointed!
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