Part One

I got the call from Lorne somewhere east of Kansas City, great jazz town; people there still appreciate good music. I'd made enough money and contacts to make my way to New Orleans, had a job waiting and everything and if it had been anyone but Lorne, well I wouldn't be heading back to L.A. I owe him though, he stuck by me all through my evil lawyer phase, gave me the benefit of the doubt when others wouldn't and always listened, never judged. I told him before I left town if he ever needed a favor, give me a call. So when my cell phone rang I was all prepared to play the knight-errant for my friend, who knew he'd ask me to help out my old enemies at Angel Investigations.

I flat out refused; I'm not ashamed to admit it. I blustered and argued; I even tried logic, said the favor was for him not that self righteous bunch in the Hyperion but he pointed out that I hadn't put any conditions on my offer, damn. You'd think I'd construct an offer a little tighter than that wouldn't you?

So fine, good, I'm on my way back to Los Angeles to pull Wesley out of Lilah's clutches, sober him up and get him on the straight and narrow again because naturally he would listen to me in a situation like this, we have so much in common. Just a sec, let me roll down a window, let the cool night air slap a little common sense into me.

Why Lorne thinks Wes and I are gonna be able to talk to each other I don't know. Why he thinks I can help get a drunken idiot out of some crazy woman's clutches before he makes a major mistake - wait a minute - right. Don't you just hate it when irony walks right up and hits you square in the face?

I make it to LA in good time; hopefully I can find Wesley Wyndham-Price and get back on the road before I lose out on that job in New Orleans.

First, I make a few phone calls and find out what Lilah's been up to lately and then, I call in one or two favours.

It's amazing how few people like that woman. I ended up feeling kinda sorry for her myself. She and I, we were a lot alike, both too scared to try being good, too afraid of failing. We thought being bad was easier but being truly evil is a lot of hard work unless you have a natural aptitude for it. I didn't and I don't think Lilah does either although she's probably
convinced herself that she's seducing Wesley to the 'dark side'.

I can't believe I actually spent two years of my life thinking in those terms. I'm glad I got out when I did. I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner; there are too many bad memories here. I've got to find Mr. Wesley Wydham-Price, and get the hell out of this town. Time to start hitting the bars on the list Lorne gave me. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll be at the first one.

I don't get lucky. I don't find Wes until I've been through seven bars, nine propositions, five of those from men, and one pissing match with some drunken suit over, of all things, my 'hick attire'. What an asshole; he wouldn't have lasted two seconds in my hometown, stinkin lawyers; this city is lousy with them.

Needless to say, I'm not in the best of moods when I find him. He's sitting at the end of the bar reading. He's half way through a bottle of gin and tea? I shudder, I hate gin; I don't like tea, how am I supposed to hold a serious conversation with a man that mixes the two together?

"What the hell are you drinking?"

"I should think that would be obvious Mr. MacDonald."

"Fine, why?"

"I have a slight cold; it's medicinal."

"Medicinal, right, do you want me to get you a shawl too?"

That's when he fixes me with the evil eye. I actually pause and remember that this man knows some magic and he's well on his way to getting drunk and probably doesn't consider himself one of the good guys anymore. Well that's okay, I got it covered, I hope.

"Why are you here Lindsey?"

Well, it's like this - hey is that Angel?"

He whips his head around so fast I'm surprised it doesn't fall off; that's when I hit him. The bartender looks like he might complain until I pull out enough cash to cover the tab. Damn, the man doesn't look like he's had a decent meal in weeks but he's plenty heavy. Still, I manage to get him in the truck. Illusion spells in place? Check. Handcuffs? Check. Grandma
MacDonald's patent pending drinking remedy? Check.

What, you expected me to reason with him? Forget it, no way. He wasn't going to listen to me; this is gonna take some time and I don't have it, job waiting halfway across the country, remember?

I was supposed to get him out of Lilah's clutches, sober him up and get him on the straight and narrow. Well, he's out of Lilah's clutches. He will be sober by the time he wakes up and as for the straight and narrow; we'll work on it on the way to New Orleans.

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Part Two

All right, first thing, let's stop by Wesley's place; get some clothes and things for Mr. Genteel Drunk here. On the drive over I call Lorne, get him on the first ring too, must have been waiting by the phone.

"One drunken ex-hero bound and accounted for Lorne."

"Oh now Sweetie, he's not an ex-hero, he's just hit a bad patch that's all."

"If you say so. Look, we're stopping by his place to pick up some clothes before we head out. I don't know when he'll be home so you got someone to apartment sit?"

"Head out? Lindsey sweet, where are you going?"

"Job waiting in New Orleans Lorne, I mentioned this, besides the trip will do him good, nothing like the open road for helping a person to get their life in perspective."

"But what about his friends? What if they come looking for him?"

"C'mon Lorne, you know if his friends were going to come looking for him you wouldn't have called me but on the off chance they do, you can tell them he's fallen into the clutches of retired evil. That ought to throw them."

I can hear the laughter in Lorne's voice as he scolds me for being a bad man but hey, that's part of my charm.

I pull up in front of Wes's place. He's still out cold; I didn't hit him that hard, the man's just close to the end of his rope physically and emotionally. I've noticed the nasty calling card carved across his throat. You can't be seriously hurt and then try to heal up while drinking your meals. My hand gives a twitch in sympathy.

I've already got his keys but I perform a quick spell before I open his door; don't want anything malevolent hitting me in the face, but there's nothing, no protective wards, nothing. Man's got a serious death wish and phew! What's that smell? Oh man, do some laundry and have you ever heard of dish soap?

I'm back on the phone to Lorne with strong advice to get a cleaning service in here and put some wards on that front door.

Well, I find three pairs of clean underwear; five plain white t-shirts and a pair of new jeans with the tags still on and say, what's this? Nice leather jacket, that's right, he's got a motorcycle stashed somewhere from his rogue demon hunter days. Man, you gotta love upper middle class boys, they all got a secret wish to be bad asses when they grow up. I'm
betting he has the whole kit and bingo, here it is, pants, chaps, gloves and boots.

It's a near thing, but I decide against the chaps and gloves; the pants and boots are coming for sure. I toss everything into a duffel bag I find, grab some tapes off the shelf, the man's got decent taste in music, maybe he's not a total loss, and head out the door humming 'On the Road Again' under my breath.

Oh, looks like someone's awake and cranky if the yelling and yanking at the handcuffs is anything to go by; not that anyone but me can see or hear all that fuss. A good illusion spell is a thing of beauty and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

He's spitting mad when I climb back in the truck and start my baby up. I'm shocked; I had no idea that Wes knew that kind of language. Heh, heh.

"Unlock these handcuffs immediately or I shan't be responsible for the consequences."

"You 'shan't' huh?"

"You bastard!"

"Actually yeah, my parents never bothered to get married 'til my little sister came along."

That shut him up. He even looks a little embarrassed. Maybe I'll get blessed silence for a while.

"Yes, well, perhaps I shouldn't have said that however, I demand that you stop this car and let me out."

Guess not.

"I am quite serious Mr. MacDonald."

"Look Wesley, save it okay? You're stuck in this car, on the road with me for the duration. You may think you have no friends left but you have at least one."

That got his attention.

"Who?"

I almost feel sorry for him. This 'little boy' lost look flickers briefly across his face. I probably would have missed it except I've seen the same look in my own eyes on occasion. You can tell he's hoping I'll say Gunn or Fred or Angel. Poor sap. "Lorne sends his love." He looks faintly surprised and slightly disappointed and you know, that disappointed pisses me off - beggars can't be choosers.

"Yeah, Lorne, the guy you assaulted rather than talk too. The one who's put up with more crap from you and your band of so called heroes than just about anyone else. The one who had his club trashed twice, his life threatened numerous times, his privacy invaded; any of
this ringing a bell?"

"Yes well, I regret having attacked Lorne; that was unfortunate."

"And I'm sure he was very gracious when you went to him and apologized." He looks even more uncomfortable: good.

"I didn't think he'd want to see me."

"Well I can see how you might think that, him being such a hard nosed son of a bitch and all. I mean, God knows, it's tough to think of anyone other than Angel that holds grudges as long as Lorne." I can hear my accent getting stronger; rein it in boy, a bad temper always was your weak spot. I take a deep breath and loosen my grip on the steering wheel before pulling over to the side of the road to park. I turn and give my reluctant guest a long look before reaching forward and unlocking the handcuffs with a word.

He rubs at his wrists and watches me guardedly.

"You want to get out of this truck and head back to LA and the bottle that's up to you. I'm offering you a chance to get your head on straight not because you think you're worth something but because someone else does, someone who's done a lot for both of us. So here's the deal. You come with me to New Orleans, you stay sober, you help drive. You want to talk fine; you don't, fine. Deal?"

"I don't need to be preached at by one of the recently reclaimed who thinks they can save me with some sort of twelve step program to redemption." Well, someone thinks they've got a pair don't they? He's good, but he's no Darla. Oh, I think he's a little offended that I'm laughing.

"You know, that's what I always loved about the good guys; every little mistake they make, every wrong choice is hundred times worse than those committed by the rest of us sinners."

"I wouldn't expect someone like you to understand."

"No, of course not because of who I am and what I've done, even if my soul's redeemed it'll never be worth as much as yours, right?"

"I didn't mean..."

"I got news for you Mr. Wyndham-Price, you are someone like me. I'm not going to get in a fight with you about whose sins are worse just rest assured if you decide to come with me you won't be preached at and you won't get any pity. I'm sure you've been feeling more than sorry enough for yourself. So what's it going to be, stay here and feel like a total failure
or hit the road and see if there's more to life than this? Make up your mind, I don't have all night."

I gotta say in all honesty at this point, I don't much care what he decides to do. Damn he's obnoxious and a pain in the ass and I'm no saint and damn it Lorne this is above and beyond the call of friendship!

"How far is it to New Orleans?"

I relax and give a quick nod before throwing the truck into drive and pulling back onto the freeway.

"Far enough," I say.

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Part Three

We'd been driving for about five hours; made Nevada and now leaving Nevada, when I decided to stop for the night. I needed a good night's sleep and a hot meal and my passenger needed those and a shower too.

He hadn't said anything for the last hundred miles which was fine with me. Course some of that silence could be attributed to the fact that he was beginning to look mighty shaky. See, that's the thing about heavy drinking, you've got keep at it because as soon as you stop your body is only too happy to let you know that you've been a bad boy.

Looks like it's time for Grandma's Home Remedy. Now, it never worked too well on my old man; he was bound and determined to drink himself to death but I can swear by it myself. After I left LA, I holed up in a motel south of Yuma and mixed up a big batch of the Cure, as Grandma used to call it. I was sick as a dog for two days straight but when all was said and done I felt better than I had in months.

Now I could warn Wesley before I give this to him but I've been inconvenienced and I'm evil, well retired evil, and besides, he'll thank me later. Right.

He actually shows some interest as we pull into the motel parking lot.

"Why are we stopping?"

"I'm hungry and I'm tired and you need to get cleaned up and out of those clothes. You look like a street person."

He looks slightly offended as he stares down at his faded tweed jacket and rumpled shirt but then he wrinkles his nose in distaste as he catches sight of some of the more prominent stains on his shirt and pants. He gives me a pained look and gets out of the truck.

I toss him the duffel bag I packed earlier and grab my own kit before heading into the office. I get a room with two beds and cable tv. The guy on duty tells me that the coffee shop across the street fixes a damn fine meatloaf. I ask how's the apple pie and he tells me, 'just this side of heaven'. Say no more, as far as I'm concerned if you can make a good apple pie how bad can the rest of the food be?

The room's not too bad, clean which is the most important thing. I rinse out a coffee mug and pour it half full of the Cure and offer it to Wesley. He sniffs at it suspiciously.

"What is it?"

"You know that shaky feeling you've got, the one that's only going to get worse? Well this will help."

"I don't think..."

"Trust me, this will help." I stress ever so slightly.

He sniffs it again, holds his breath and knocks the whole lot back in one shot. Good man, I may just get to like this guy.

He grimaces and I can't help but laugh; he looks like a kid after taking his medicine.

"Would you like to use the bathroom first?" He motions but I just shake my head, mentally counting down the seconds.

"Naw, Wes, I think you'll probably want to use the bathroom first."

He's about to ask me why but then gets the strangest look on his face. Ah I remember it well.

"Oh dear, please excuse me." I'm impressed, gracious under pressure as my mother would have said.

I turn the tv on and start flipping through channels. I figure we can go eat in about an hour. I hear the toilet flush and the shower turn on so I move his duffel bag over by the door and settle in to watch some old movie with Jimmy Cagney.

The bathroom door opens just enough for the duffel to be dragged inside and thirty minutes later a clean ex-Watcher appears. He hasn't shaved but I don't blame him. He'll feel more up to it once I get some food in his stomach or lack thereof.

I can't help staring just a bit, I mean, I've never seen him in jeans and a t-shirt before, even with the beginnings of a beard he looks younger. His hair's longer then the last time I saw him and it's curling around his ears and he's got some muscles on him. I always thought of him as lanky but he's not, although he is too thin. The man needs some home cookin that's
for sure and who am I, his mother?

He looks self conscious and keeps rubbing at his new jeans.

"You know, if you want to get the stiffness out I can throw them under the truck, run them over a few times." I'm trying to break the sudden tension here, Wes, help me out.

"Certainly not." He sounds faintly disapproving. "They'll be fine."

"Well all right but just remember I offered. Now c'mon, I'm starving."

"I'm not really all that hungry." He stammers a bit before fixing me with a glare. "You could have warned me." He motions to the empty coffee mug.

"Are you feeling better?"

He nods reluctantly.

"I rest my case." I smirk and find myself reaching for his hand and tugging lightly. "You're gonna be real hungry soon too. Trust me?"

"No," he huffs.

I just give him my best trial lawyer smile and gesture to the door. His lips twitch but no full blown smile. Hmm, hard case huh, well I've worked with tougher.

I open the door to the diner and take a deep breath of heaven. Oh Lordy there is some mighty fine cooking goin on here. We slip into a booth and waitress by the name of Myrna appears like magic with a full pot of freshly made coffee. She pours us both a cup and slaps
down two menus. I don't even pick mine up. I just tell her I'll have the special and piece of pie and keep that coffee coming.

She looks over at Wesley who's staring at the menu with that little boy lost look on his face again. Right then and there Myrna decides that he needs mothering and she's the woman to do it.

"Honey, you look like you haven't had a decent meal in a long time. Tell you what, I'll bring over two specials and if you don't like it you can get something else on the house but I guarantee you that Ernie's meatloaf will hit the spot."

I hide a smile because I don't think Wes is used to being called 'Honey" by anyone but those manners come to the fore and he thanks her politely. She just about melts on hearing his accent and has him blushing like a schoolboy with a few choice comments.

She gives me a wink and smile and I grin right back. Wes doesn't stand a chance.

Our food arrives in short order and it's just as good as the clerk said it would be; best damn meatloaf I've had in years, not that the Wolfram and Hart crowd was big on meatloaf.

I slather mine with extra catsup and dig in. Wes is poking at his carefully as if he's checking for mines.

"Wes, it's meatloaf it's not some shapechanging dinner that's going to attack, quit playing with your food and eat for God's sake."

"What is meatloaf?" He asks hesitantly.

"Hamburger Wes and maybe some bread. It's good."

"Do I have to put catsup on it?"

"Yeah, you do Wesley. There's a whole ritual associated with eating meatloaf and if it's not
strictly adhered to, well let's just say the consequences could be horrendous." I can't believe I'm having this conversation. I wonder if he's always like this or...

"Now you're being facetious." He frowns.

"Wes," I can hear the annoyance in my voice and I guess so can he because he takes a small bite and chews carefully before breaking into an actual smile.

"I say, this is quite good." He takes a much larger bite and dips it in some catsup.

I try to tell myself that I'm just amazed at how fast he's shovelling the food down and that's why I'm staring not because he's grinning like a kid who's just discovered chocolate.

I give myself a mental slap and go back to eating; chew, swallow, chew, swallow, Wes is not cute; chew, swallow.

We finish up the food in an embarrassingly short amount of time which pleases Myrna to no end if her grin is anything to go by. She gives us to extra big helpings of pie 'on the house'.

We're halfway through dessert when Wesley decides to speak again.

"I slept with Lilah."

"Uh huh." I say encouragingly.

"I'm not very proud of myself for that; I mean I don't even like her."

"Uh huh."

"You don't sound shocked." He said dryly.

"Well I am. You're the first guy I've ever heard of who's slept with a woman he didn't like just because she was convenient and he wanted to forget for a while."

"Mr. MacDonald, has the term smart ass ever been used in relation to you?"

"It may have been," I say innocently, taking a sip of coffee.

"I see it didn't make an impression."

I just give him a grin that this time, he returns.

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Part Four

Three o'clock in the morning; Wesley asleep on the next bed and it's just my guitar and me. We spend a lot of nights like this; when the need for sleep can't tempt me past the nightmares at the gate.

"I know that song." Wesley murmurs quietly, his eyes blinking open to stare at me with that intentness peculiar to the nearsighted; that slightly unfocused yet fixed look, almost like the gaze of the blind.

"Didn't mean to wake you." He gives me a gesture half way between a shake and shrug; I guess that mean 'no you didn't?"

"It's a hymn isn't it?" He's got his head neatly laid on his folded hands, all tousled hair and sleepy eyed, he looks like he's five. "I would not have chosen you as a religious man."

"My grandmother loved that song. She used to sing it to us all the time, a little grim for children but life wasn't supposed to be easy, at least that's what she said. She was a hard woman, my grandmother; there was right and there was wrong and shades of grey were
for people who didn't want to take a side - or lawyers." We shared a smile as I remembered her for him.

"I'm sure she's looking down on me right now and shaking her head. I can almost feel her hand on my ear." Why look, I nearly got a laugh out of my reluctant travelling companion.

"She never hit us though, not once. She would sit us down and read from the Bible for three hours straight but she never laid on hand on us. I think she loved us, in her way even when we disappointed her." I've kept strumming my guitar the entire time. The vibrations always soothe me. That's what I missed most when my hand was gone, this soft strumming in the
middle of the night. It's one of my best memories from childhood.

"Lindsey?"

I remember her stroking my hair at the baby's funeral, no other touch, just those long fingered hands with the soft paper-thin skin sliding through my curls. Yeah, I had curls when I was younger, that and the name Lindsey is why I'm a pretty damn good fighter today.

"Lindsey?" Wes sounds worried. Poor guy is probably trying to figure out why he keeps attracting the broody types.

"My grandmother played the piano but my mother played the guitar. She gave me my first one when I was just a little thing."

"Not so long ago then?" It takes me a minute to figure out that a) Wesley's made a joke and b) I've been insulted. Considering the source I decide to focus on the positive as my mother used to say.

"Not bad for the middle of the night, not good, but I'll give you a pass this once." He tries to sneer; unfortunately it comes out more like a nose wrinkle. It's very cute and that's a disturbing thought.

"My mother could play the harp." Wes offers almost shyly. "She died when I was young." He hesitates as if he's afraid he's said too much. I just keep up my soft strumming.

"She was very beautiful. I know little boys always think their mother is beautiful but she truly was. I have a picture of her at home. I keep it locked up because it's the only one I have left." He catches himself, "I mean that I have and she looks a bit like Gene Tierney. Do you know the actress?" Damn, the look on his face; he looks so hopeful and earnest.

"Your mother looked like that huh, stunning lady."

"Yes, yes she was." I pretend not to notice the furtive wipe of his eyes on the pillow. I decide instead to reach over to the nightstand and grab my wallet. I flip it open to a picture of my mom. I don't show him the one of us kids; I don't know why, maybe because I'm a gap tooth little geek in them.

I too used to lock the pictures away when I worked for Wolfram and Hart. Didn't want anything finding their pictures while feasting on my corpse.

"That's my momma. She died when I was twelve."

"She's very pretty. She has kind eyes." Wesley sat up, the sheet slipping to his waist and accepted the photo carefully then glanced at me curiously. I'm not sure I liked the look.

"You have her eyes." And that's when he said the strangest thing to me. "Have you always had her eyes do you think or did they leave you while you worked for Wolfram and Hart?"

Okay, Wes, you're scaring me. I can handle this kind of thing from Drusilla, well no I can't but I wouldn't tell her that to her face, you on the other hand.

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm not insane. I simply wondered if it's true that your parents, grandparents, if all of them live on in you, do pieces of them come out a different times and you aren't even aware of it? You know how it is, you find yourself repeating something from your childhood and suddenly you realize; 'I sounded just like mother' or my father."

I wasn't sure what was going on here but I figured it was important so I let him keep talking even though it sure wasn't making him happy. On the other hand, happiness is over rated.

"Do you think that's why I took Connor?" You know, it's a good thing there was a confidential dossier on the Angel gang because otherwise I couldn't follow this conversation with a scorecard. However, I happen to know that Wes' dad is a son of a bitch. He's one of
the 'good guys' that could give plenty of demons a run for their money. He's a Watcher with a nice polite hatred of vampires, demons and I suspect, anyone else who doesn't measure up to his standards of what is right and proper. He really did a number on his son and suddenly I'm angry on behalf of this guy that I couldn't have cared less about just two days ago. I'm
angry with his old man for twisting him up inside. I'm angry with his friends for not noticing that their friend was losing it. I haven't had any friends in a while but I'd like to think that if I ever do make any, they'll pay more attention to me then Wes' did to him.

And I'm angry with Angel because what Wes did was stupid but no one died. Yeah, Connor came back as a bizarre version of Tarzan but he's alive and yet I guess that's not good enough.

It's so strange; I killed his girl friend, lover, whatever. I damned her to Hell because I thought that was better than dying. Oh yeah, that was a good plan. I nearly drove him insane and in the end he forgave me or as close as he could get to it, but Wes?

"No, I don't think that's why you took Connor. I think you were tired and you did your best and it didn't work out." No, I don't think you're like your father.

"But if I hadn't taken him out of the hotel.."

"Holtz would have gotten him another way. You ever think that maybe this happened for a reason? Maybe the Powers wanted it this way?" This is what always throws me about the good guys; the Powers for Good always know what they're doing, or usually except when it's something the good guys don't want to happen then of course the Powers screwed up. That never made any sense to me but what do I know I used to play for other side.

"Why would the Powers send a child to Hell?" He sounds outraged and he looks about ready to get out of that bed and come over here and smash this guitar over my head.

"Well, I can't speak for the particulars of their plan but how long did you all think you were gonna be able to protect a baby and still fight the good fight? I mean you didn't really think that he was going to have a normal childhood with Pre School and play dates and after school sports did you? If it weren't Holtz, it would have been Wolfram and Hart or someone else wanting the mystical baby. And jeez, it's not like Angel didn't get his kid right back. Sure he's what, sixteen but it's not like y'all had to wait sixteen years to see him again. Granted he's a surly teenager from what my sources tell me but forgive me saying, the trials of parenting a teenager couldn't have happened to a nicer vampire."

My accent's real strong again. Lindsey, remember you were going to work on anger management. I swear this bunch is going to cause me to have a stroke. Great, Wes looks like a fish out of water the way he's gaping at me. I've probably committed some sort of sacrilege in his eyes.

"Mr. MacDonald it's quite evident after that speech that you were indeed a defence attorney." He gives me this half incredulous laugh and than quickly covers his mouth like he's been caught snickering in church or something.

"Perhaps if I return to Los Angeles you can accompany me and present your case to my friends."

"They're your friends Wes. They all ready know all this or they'll figure it out."

"I think Angel has all ready made his judgment." Wes gives me a sad smile.

"Yeah, well forgiveness is a foreign concept to most demons Wes, you know that. Give him time, he'll get over it." I pick up the guitar again, tuning it softly.

"He tried to kill me."

"Join the club." Ah, got it, perfect tune.

Wes stares at me a moment longer then shakes his head and settles back on the bed. "Will you play that song for me again."

"Only if you close your eyes and go to sleep." He obliges me with a half smile while I start to strum gently.

*My latest sun is sinking fast my race is nearly run. My strongest trials now are past. My triumph has begun. Oh come angel band, come and around me stand. Oh bare me away on your snow-white wings to my immortal home, Oh bare me away on your snow-white wings to my immortal home.*

Oh bare my longing heart to him who bled and died for me. Who's blood now cleanses from all sin and gives me victory. Oh come angel band, come and around me stand. Oh bare me away on your snow-white wings to my immortal home, Oh bare me away on your snow-white wings to my immortal home.*

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Part Five

I'm watching Wesley shave. I used to watch my dad shave when I was little. It's a very interesting ritual for a kid and make no mistake, it is a ritual with all the mystery, pomp and circumstance that accompanies any good ritual.

Wesley's very precise in his shaving, no surprise there; he carefully works his way around the scar and up each side of his neck before starting on his face. He only nicks himself once, which is pretty good considering.

Every once and a while our eyes meet in the mirror and his crinkle up at the corners; smiling eyes. I don't think too deeply about how strange it is to be leaning against the bathroom door watching another man shave, just seems natural somehow and that's fine with me.

"Aren't you tired? I fell asleep to your guitar playing, did you get any sleep?" He asks before wiping off shaving cream and dashing water on his face.

"I'm fine; don't really need that much sleep." I slip to the side to give him room to get by me and out the door. I could have just gotten out of his way but I don't.

He gives me a long look starts to say something, changes his mind and says something else. "Yes, it must be nice to be young."

"Yeah, right old man," I stress the last bit before moving to take my place in front of the mirror.

"Still, perhaps I should start earning my keep and take first shift at driving this morning, agreed?"

"Sure but if you hurt my baby I'm gonna leave you staked out on an ant hill somewhere in the desert."

He just sniffs disdainfully before leaving to finish dressing. I stare at my face in the mirror. Do I have my mother's eyes? God I hope not. I hope that somehow she missed the last five years of my life because if she didn't she'd be real disappointed in me.

I'm not gonna think about this, not now. I'm gonna get some breakfast and have myself more of that fine coffee over at the diner and then I'm gonna make sure Wes doesn't strip every gear off my truck. One step at a time Lindsey, one step at a time; don't think beyond
today and you'll get by.

We enter the diner in companionable silence. There's a different waitress on duty this morning; a young pregnant girl with long, long dark hair. She's got a soft, sweet smile and Wes and I warm up to her right away.

"Trust me to order for you again?" I ask him as she's filling our coffee cups.

For some reason, the fact that he doesn't hesitate to say 'yes' gives me a warm feeling.

"Two huevos rancheros please, one hot salsa on the side, and medium or hot Wes?"

"Ah medium," he looks pretty unsure but I nod at him encouragingly.

"Good call."

We sip our coffee and sit. Wes looks around the diner like it's just the most fascinating place he's ever seen. I'm considering letting him stew like that all through breakfast but than I remember that I'm not evil anymore.

"What's on your mind Wes?"

He jumps a little and gives me a surprised look. Man, did no one ever pay attention to this guy? He's pretty easy to read and I got to wonder again how his friends could have missed Wes unravelling at the edges.

"I'm not sure that I understand." He starts his diversion. I think I'm insulted; he doesn't think this is going to work does he?

"What do you want to ask me?" I say very slowly and give him a wry grin. "It's plain you've got something on your mind."

"You mean aside from the obvious?" He says dryly. He's saved briefly by the arrival of our eggs. I give a contented sigh as the smell surrounds me and start ladling on the salsa. I don't bother to taste it first; it can't be hot enough for me.

Wes on the other hand, carefully tries his salsa, tries his eggs and then spoons out a precise amount of salsa, dabbing it artistically on his breakfast. He catches me watching him and simply raises an eyebrow and picks up his knife and fork and begins cutting up his eggs. I swear to God each piece looks like it was measured on a grid. How the hell does he do that?

I go back to eating, figuring our conversation is over for the meantime but here I've made a bush league error. I've forgotten that my opponent has been schooled in tactics. He waits until my mouth is full before asking me his question.

"How do you manage to live with the guilt? You seem so calm and accepting of your past; doesn't it bother you? Is that why you're being so decent to me? Is it some sort of attempt to balance the scales for you?"

I don't choke, I'm too good a lawyer for that but I do mentally vow revenge, something childish and involving soda and his nose.

I finish chewing my eggs, swallow and remember the last time we were sitting here and I had the mad thought that Wes was cute. It's obviously been way too long since I got laid.

"Well I bet that just been bursting to get out hasn't it?" This time he doesn't look guilty so much as fascinated, like a scientist with a new microbe or a Watcher with a new form of demon. Hell Lindsey, you always did want to hold the interest of at least one of the players at Angel Investigations, looks like you got your wish and like everything else in my life it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

"In answer to your first question; I live with it because I don't like the alternative. In answer to your second question; it's none of your damn business and as to why I'm being decent to you, well I could make a cutting comment here but I expect you're used to those, oops! I guess I made one anyway." I take a deep sip of my coffee, burning my tongue but the pain
helps me to focus.

"And in answer to the final question; I'm not Angel. I don't think you can balance the scales, what's done is done and once it's done you deal with it and move on." I can hear the growl in my voice. To Hell with Lorne, I should leave Wes here. If he's asking questions like these, he's gonna be fine. He doesn't need me.

"I agree," he says softly and that quiet rejoinder takes some of the wind out of my sails.

"I don't think you can balance the scales either. You can't save a person here to make up for one that died there; living is not a business transaction. I know I can't make up for what happened to Connor and yes, I do remember what you said last night but I still feel guilty, last one to touch a child takes the responsibility for whatever happens to that child. It's not logical but it's true, I think." He fiddles with his napkin, pleating the edges and I feel my anger start to fade. Being with this guy is like riding a roller coaster, hate him, like him, think he's cute, gonna kill him. And to think that I was once scared of not feeling anything anymore, guess that problem's gone.

"I didn't mean to insult you, I simply wanted to know how you did it because I envy you your calm pragmatism. I wish I could do the same." He gives me this bittersweet smile and maybe that's the reason I break Lindsey's Rule Number Four about honest responses.

"Hey, who was awake at three a.m. and long after? Who knew enough about binge drinking to help you sober up? Like I said Wes, I live with it because I don't like the alternative." He stares at me for a moment and gives me a brief nod although his eyes are still sad. Well we can't have that, can we?

"Besides, I can't die yet. I got my grandma waiting on the other side just itching to get a hold of my ear." I give him a theatrical shudder that gets me a brief laugh.

"Finish your breakfast and I'll show you how to handle my baby." I wave at his food, enough of this emotional bonding crap. It's time to hit the road.

"I assure you I can drive a truck." He rolls his eyes without rolling his eyes, which is a real talent, telepathic eye rolling. I won't tell him this but I can do the same thing.

"This isn't any old truck Wes. This is a classic." I explain patiently: heathen. He snaps back a reply and we argue all the way through the end of the meal and out to the truck. And right before we start her up, I look over at Wes sitting in the driver's seat, looking very serious as he listens to my instructions and I smile, because this is nice and I don't think I've had 'nice' in a long time.

..........................................................................................................................................................................................

Part Six a)

We're making good time across Texas, thank God; sorry but I'm an Okalahoma boy and damn proud of it, although if you'd called me on that while I was busy oozing my way up the corporate ladder I would have denied it. Texas may be bigger but contrary to what the Texans say, it ain't better.

Well, except for San Antonio which is where we're heading. Man, I love that town, the river, the food, and the market. It's a great place to visit. It's where the Old South meets Texas and Texas meets Mexico. There's this little cantina; best food in the state, I swear to God. Wes is gonna love it.

Speaking of whom, he's done a pretty good job of driving my baby. We had a little territorial dispute over the radio but aside from that things have been okay. We're gonna have stop soon though. I'm tired, and listening to Wes snore isn't helping me stay awake. Looks like it's time to find a motel for the night and get some rest. There's a motel up ahead it's little red vacancy sign all lit up and welcoming. Good thing too, I don't like the look of that sky, we're in for a real gully washer.

I nudge Sleeping Beauty and get a grunt for my troubles. He blinks at me before looking around and yawning again.

"Are we there yet?"

"No, got another couple of days Wes. We're still in Texas, not too far from El Paso. There's a storm coming. I figure we stop for the night and start early in the morning." I end my explanation with a yawn of my own before hoping out of the truck and stretching stiff muscles. Looks clean enough although there's something about it that kind of makes me uneasy.

Now I know a lot of people get these feelings and they dismiss them and nothing bad ever happens to them and than there's those people who get these feelings and they become a name on a missing persons report somewhere. I've learned to listen to my instincts.

I'm about to suggest that we get back in my truck and find another motel when Mother Nature decides to make the decision for me; the skies open up and we barely make the protection of the porch. Damn! Well at least Wes had the presence of mind to grab the bags.

The sky lights up with a sudden flare of lightening and an ominous boom soon follows. Well instincts or no, we're staying here for a while, I guess. Of course once we step inside the office I almost change my mind and walk back into the storm. Wesley catches my eye and we share an understanding look, obviously he's seen Psycho too.

The night manager shuffles up to the desk with a hacking cough that speaks of a two pack a day habit or pneumonia; I'm not sure which. He pushes the register across the counter for our signatures.

"Two rooms?" He growls.

"Ah, no, one room, double beds please." Wes jumps in before I do sounding exceptionally British.

"Don't got any, it's single beds or two rooms, what's it gonna be?" The manager glares evilly but I gotta hand it to Wes, he doesn't even blink.

"Well, than we'll take one room." Wes slips a twenty across the counter and motions for the keys. The manager turns his glare on me when it becomes apparent that Wesley is unimpressed, but he doesn't get any satisfaction here, lawyer, remember. I just give him
my best good old boy grin and pick up my bag and follow Mr. Wyndham-Pryce out the door.

I hear the manager mutter something about 'perverts' before the door closes and I have the childish desire to yell 'takes one to know one' over my shoulder. Wes gives me a quick look and I smile back innocently. He frowns sternly.

The room is all right although that bed is looking mighty small.

"I hope you don't mind. I felt it best that we not be split up for the night." Wes doesn't meet my eyes as he fusses around the room. Is he embarrassed? He is, well Hell, isn't that cute. I wonder if he's ever shared a bed with anyone before. I spent my most of my childhood sharing the bed with my little brother, him stealing the covers and kicking me half the night. Of course, Wesley isn't built anything like my little brother but I can deal. It's not like I spend most of my nights sleeping is it?

"No, I don't mind. If you hadn't said it, I would. This place is a little off don't you think?" I drop to the bed with a bounce and reach for my guitar to make sure not a drop of water touched her precious head. I know, another inanimate object that I treat like it's alive, probably goes a long way to explaining my infatuation with Darla and doesn't it feel good to be able to laugh about it, if only a little bit.

"Yes, this hostelry does have an air of the odd about it. Are you sure you want to spend the night here?"

"Nope, but I am sure I don't want to go driving in this storm. Good news is it ought to be over in a couple of hours or so and we can move on. We can catch a nap or something until then."

I try a 'G', ahh perfect! Wes is standing by the window watching the rain. He looks a little melancholy but the rain does that to some people even me sometimes.

"Hey Wes! Time to pull out the provisions." I sense him giving me the Wesley telepathic eye roll and I can't help snickering.

Last time we stopped for gas I went in and picked up some hoagies, corn chips, cherry-cola and moon pies. Wes stared at me in horror when I dropped the bag on his lap.

"What is this?"

"Snacks."

I can see he's also remembering the conversation. He picks up the bag gingerly and gives it me; can't wash his hands of the junk food fast enough.

"C'mon Wes, I happen to know you've eaten all manner of junk food this isn't any different." I confess, I bought the stuff on purpose just to see the look on his face but I couldn't help it.

"You don't happen to know a young man named Xander do you?" Wes is busy dissecting the hoagie, carefully checking for god knows what and obviously doesn't expect an answer.

I salute him with my drink and open up a moon pie, munching away happily. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine myself a kid again, sitting outside the house on a hot summer afternoon dreaming of being rich. I was going make so much money that I could buy us the biggest house in the world. We'd all have our own rooms and there'd be a swimming pool and mama would have a doctor when she got sick and I'd be a hero.

Yeah, that's irony for you, when I was little I wanted to be a hero. As I got older being a hero lost its appeal. I still wanted to take care of my family and I still thought the best way to do that was by making a lot of money so I started making compromises, little ones at first but they got bigger and bigger until I stop noticing the compromises. No, that's not true, I
never stopped noticing the compromises. I'm lying again, shame on me.

Wes takes a careful sip of his cola, grimacing at the taste. I laugh at the look on his face, he's doing that nose wrinkle thing again. He gives me a haughty look and takes a bite from his sandwich. We sit in companionable silence for a while.

"Do you truly think Angel will forgive me someday?" I love the way these questions come out of thin air. No wonder Wes and Angel manage to cause each other so much trouble; they're both big broody men with a rigid moral code.

"He forgave me didn't he?"

"Yes but you didn't cause his child to be kidnapped."

"No I only tried to drive him insane, kill all his friends and succeeded in having the mother of his child murdered in front of him." I do my own version of the telepathic eye roll that Wes recognizes because a small smile tugs at his lips.

"I miss them very much." He picks at his sandwich. "Gunn came to me asking for help. It concerned Fred, Winifred the young lady we rescued from Pylea. I liked her and I thought perhaps she liked me as well, but then I tried to kill her. Attempted homicide tends to put damper on budding relationships. " He laughs bitterly. "I didn't help him. I don't know why, I thought I did at the time but now, I wonder."

"You told him to take a hike." I give him a sad smile. "Wes if there's one thing I know about it's the dangers of bottling up anger. You bottle it up too long and the next thing you know you're losing your hand, running big, dumb vampires over with trucks and getting the crap beat out of you." I throw up my hands theatrically.

"You want to know what I think?"

"Do I have a choice?" He asks me dryly.

"No. I think you're angry at Angel for firing you and never apologizing." He starts to interrupt me but I stop him. "I know he didn't apologize because he's Angel. He probably gave y'all some long involved explanation about how he screwed up but he was all right now but I'm guessing he never said, 'I'm sorry,' to you of course. Now with Cordelia I'm figuring he threw himself to the floor in abject sorrow and promised her the moon, I can't imagine why, can you?" That got a reluctant laugh out of him.

"I think you're hurt because you liked Fred and she picked Gunn and before you ask I know because Lorne told me. I think you're angry with Gunn because he screwed up and hurt Lorne but you forgave him and he didn't forgive you and isn't that what friends are suppose to do? Sure they can yell at you and tell you that you're a moron but after the dust has settled they're still suppose to help you pick up the pieces but after the dust settled with Connor, no one was left for you so you got angry. It's not mature but it's human. Your problem is that you didn't tell them you were mad at them and I think you definitely should if you ever decide to talk to them again that is."

He blinks at me in shock as if the thought of it being his decision whether he wanted to continue the friendship with the Angel gang hadn't ever occurred to him.

"They're my friends."

"Yeah and sometimes friends outgrow each other. Sometimes you have certain friends for as long as you need them and than when you don't the friendships dissipate on their own. All I'm saying Wes, is that it's up to you. You want to stick with these people or try again, more power to you and if you don't, that's fine too. It's your choice but if you do stick with them, don't let them push you around. You feel you screwed up, you paid for it and now it's time to move on and if they don't want to do that than maybe they're not the people for you."

"You feel my debt to society's been paid than?"

"Fine, ridicule my hard won wisdom." I try to sound snippy and nonchalant but the truth is, I'm a little hurt. I'm not asked to give an honest opinion too often and actually do, well so what, I don't care if he doesn't take my advice. It's not like we're friends or anything.

He carefully moves my guitar out of the way and sits next to me on the bed. I make a production out of finishing my soda.

"Thank you. I wish you'd been around while I was trying to work out what to do about Connor and the prophecy."

"Yeah, well, if I'd been around you wouldn't have stood a chance, that baby..."

"If you'd been around that baby would still be with Angel and we would have known all of Wolfram and Harts plans because you would have found a way to tell us, even if it meant risking death because you're a good man Lindsey MacDonald whether you want to be or not; a good man and a good friend."

I can feel my neck heating up and I swear to God if I start blushing. He senses my discomfort and moves to stand but I put out a hand and stop him.

"Thanks." Oh that was articulate but the truth is I'm a little choked up here. I haven't had a friend since; I look down at my 'evil hand' with a twisted smile, well a long time. I hope I treat this friendship better than the last one.

"On the other hand your taste in snack food is atrocious." Wesley says primly and it's my turn to laugh. You're a good man yourself Wesley, I hope someday you remember that fact.

.....................................................................................................................................................................................

Part Six b)

The rain's letting up and we could probably head out but I'm tired and I think Wes is too. My clever plan of getting a few hours sleep fell through and we ended up talking about Harry Potter of all things. I've never read the books myself but Wes has and apparently admires the writer immensely; his words, not mine.

He spent about an hour explaining the plot of the first book after I assured him that he wouldn't be spoiling the story for me, because I'd all ready seen the previews for the movie. When I said that he gave me a look that screamed 'Americans', and proceeded to explain the virtues of reading the book over seeing the movie.

You know, the funny thing was, as Wes told me all about Harry's adventures in learning magic and trying to fit in at boarding school and being different even for a wizard, I could see that Wes really identifies with this kid. And from what I remember of the movie previews he even looks a little bit like Harry.

I've spent my professional life dealing with various supernatural clients, before that they were tales to scare the kiddies. But when I moved to Los Angeles I learned that monsters do exist and like everyone else they need a good lawyer. I'd become pretty jaded but not Wesley. He grew up knowing about the supernatural, being comfortable with it and it hits me while he's explaining about taking his potion exam when he was thirteen, not chemistry mind you, potions, that wow, this is pretty cool. I mean he knows magic; I know I've used spells but it's not the same. He's the real McCoy.

I know there are demons and sprites and dragons and all sorts of things under heaven but I've spent the past few years taking it for granted and submitting billable hours and being fairly blasť. I didn't see the magic in magic, if you know what I mean. But not Wes, his eyes are shining while he tells me about seeing his first gnome or learning how to speak Fyarl. He may be a little off track right now but research and studying and learning is what he loves; that's his world and he's comfortable there and I envy him. I used to feel that way about the law once upon a time; studying cases was more than just a way of outsmarting the system for me; I used to love the thought, the craft and the history that went into making up case
law. Hell, I loved the arguments and competition too and somewhere along the way I lost that feeling, but not Wes. He may be older in body but in spirit I think he's years younger than me - lucky stiff.

So I smile and nod my head and encourage him to keep talking and find myself promising him that I'll read the book and maybe when we get to New Orleans we can rent the video too, just to compare.

We both go silent at that statement though, because when we reach New Orleans the trip is over. That's my end of the road for the next two months and his end of the agreement and I want to ask him if he'd like to hang out in The Big Easy with me for a spell but I don't know how; I've never known how to ask for things, sure parking spaces and raises and such but not the important things, like friendship, like forgiveness.

Must be because we're both sitting on the bed lost in out own thoughts, (not brooding dammit); that we hear the muffled scream. It's hard to tell where it's coming from except that it's near by. Wes is on his feet in a second and heading for the door. I grab his arm and shake my head. He glares at me and tries to shake his arm loose but I put my finger to my lips and turn out the lights. He gets the picture; only Angel rushes in where fools fear to tread.

I take a quick peek out the window. The rain's almost stopped and the moon is playing hide and seek with the clouds. I can make out a couple of cars, my truck and a big rig in the parking lot. The only lights on are near the rig parked across the courtyard. I'm holding my breath and listening hard; it's at times like these that a vampire would come in real handy. There it is again, another muffled cry, on our side of the parking lot. This time I locate it, it's coming from our left, inside - great.

"I suppose you know what this means?" I sigh and pull the car keys out of my pocket. Wes nods hesitantly, not sure what I mean but hoping for the best. I smile wryly, well it wasn't so long ago that I wasn't sure what I would have meant.

"Let me go first. I've got a tire iron in the back of pick up. Let's hope whoever it is doesn't have a gun." Wes gives a terse nod but there's a smile in his eyes. I pretend not to notice, pick up our bags and make a big production out of going to my truck. I've got a feeling we're going to be moving pretty fast here, real soon.

Wes slips out and heads around back to come up to the room from the other side. I barely hear a slight thump from two doors down. Damn. My palms are sweaty and I make a quick swipe at my jeans to wipe them off before grabbing the tire iron and slipping it behind my back. I notice Wes come around from behind the building and get into place. Well, here goes nothing. I kick in the door and barge right in.

The sight that greets my eyes just pisses me off. There's a guy and two girls and I do mean girls. They're about fourteen but no older; one is human and one isn't but aside from that they're your typical teenager girls, right down to the matching Brittney Spears t-shirts.

One is tied up in a corner on the floor. She's the human one. There are tears running down her face but she wasn't making the noise because her mouth is gagged. The other girl is the one who was making the noise. I say was because there's blood running from her nose and she's lying unconscious on the bed with the guy spread over her, his pants half off.

Did I mention that this really pisses me off?

I take a swing at him and hit him squarely on the back of the neck. A normal man would have gone done like a poll axed ox but tha's when Mr. Child Molester changes into something not even remotely human. Ever seen a potato bug? Ever seen a seven-foot tall potato bug?

He/it comes for me, feelers waving, legs outstretched and I back out of the room, fast. Wes is waiting for us although I don't think he was expecting the Wild Kingdom scenario we've got going here.

"It's a Thrwarlk demon," Wes yells at me.

Thank you Wes but that's of absolutely no help since I don't know what that is but thanks anyway. He must have caught the look of aggravated confusion on my face because he yells "Salt!" before dashing off.

Okay, well that's better but still not helpful because I don't carry salt on me and where the Hell is he going? Let me make it very clear, right here, right now that I may know how to fight and can hold my own in most barroom brawls but holding off demon bugs with a tire iron is a little beyond me. In other words, I'm losing.

The thing catches me across my ribs and I take a nice five-foot dive into the mud of the parking lot. I take a moment to second to catch my breath before I have to roll sharply to the side to avoid being stepped on; the irony does not escape me.

I'm trying to scramble to my feet but I keep slipping in the mud. The thought briefly crosses my mind that with all the noise we're making you'd think someone would be complaining or calling the cops or something but I guess it isn't just city folk that tend to mind their own business.

The bug man catches me in the ribs again and I go down. I can hear him chattering above me as he moves in for the kill and I prepare to do my level best to ram this tire iron where the sun don't shine when the pitch of the chattering abruptly changes to high pitch hissing, like steam escaping a pipe - God-awful sound - and Mr. Potato Head starts melting.

I manage to scramble out of the way so that I'm not immersed in goo and Wes comes into view behind the slowly crumbling form. He's got a big grin on his face and looks damn proud of himself. He reaches forward to help me stand, which I do very slowly, ouch.

"Salt," I ask conversationally?

"Yes, I manage to scrap together enough from the corn chips and the little packets that came with the sandwiches. "

Okay, I'm impressed; no wonder I never managed to take down Angel Investigations, now that's resourcefulness.

He helps me limp over to the girls. The one in the corner has crawled over to her friend and is busy crying and trying to nudge her awake. She obviously terrified that her friend is dead; she isn't. Wes very carefully checks her over while I untie her friend. Both girls are relatively unharmed, in every sense of the word, thank God.

Wes does surprisingly well with hysterical teenagers. He's very gentle and quiet and after a short time both girls have calmed down sufficiently to tell us their story and where they live. As we're loading them into the truck, the night manager decides it settled down enough to poke his head out and start harassing us for the damages. You can tell by the shifty look in his eyes that he knew exactly what was going on; it's probably gone on before.

Wes and I exchange looks.

"May I?" Wes gestures politely.

"Be my guest."

Wes has a Hell of right cross. The guy hits the mud and starts to squawk and that's when Mr. Wesley Wyndham-Price of London, England kneels down and in a very even tone of voice tells the creep what will happen to him if anything like this ever occurs in his
establishment again. The guy turns white as a sheet. He tries to brazen it out though, says he's gonna call the cops and I'm a witness and Wes will never get away with it.

"Mister, I'm his attorney and a damn good one. I guarantee you he'll get away with it." I give him my best shark-like, big city attorney smile, all teeth. It feels good to be able to use it on someone who deserves it for once.

Wes gives him his own version of the stone cold killer look, which puts mine to shame, I gotta tell you. I shudder to think what would have happened if he'd decided to take a walk on the dark side if he can summon that look as one of the good guys.

The guy makes a smart decision and shuts up. The girls are still in the truck, wide eyed and mute and Wes and I both give them a reassuring smile, which they return.

As I start my baby up and Wes offers the girls soda and moon pies to drown their troubles with, I'm feeling pretty good. Sure my side is hurting like a son of a bitch and I'm covered in mud but despite all that I feel cleaner than I have in a long time; catching the look on Wes's face, I figure he feels the same way.

...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Part Seven

So we dropped the girls off at their respective homes; Lord were their parents relieved to see them. Funny but absolutely no difference between the demon parents and the humans ones; lots of crying and yelling and hugging and crying and well, you get the picture. And it wasn't only being applied to the girls. Wes looked mighty uncomfortable when that demon girl's little momma grabbed his hand and sobbed out her thanks. Yes sir, awkward doesn't begin to express the look on his face.

I confess to being relieved; I was afraid the girls had run away from home or something but apparently they only wanted to go to a party. I know two young girls who are gonna be grounded for the next month but considering what happened I don't think they'll mind
that much.

Took us the better part of an hour to get out of there what with all the thanking and coffee and cake and patching me up and offers of blood debts (which we both turned down). Nice to be fussed over though, I think even Wes enjoyed that although he was much too proper to show it.

When we finally did make it back on the road, I let Wes drive. My injuries were making themselves felt with a vengeance; I felt like a couple of miles of bad road.

"Hey Wes?'

"Yes Lindsey?"

"You did good back there at the motel."

He glances at me briefly before answering, "We both did 'good' back there. It was a team effort."

"Yeah, well, I've never really done the whole team thing before. It was kinda nice not having to worry about a partner who might feed me to the demon as a means to resolve the situation, thanks."

Damn I feel uncomfortable. I've never had to say thank you before, even with Angel, Hell, especially with Angel, who's the only other person who ever saved my bacon, I've never said thank you. That's downright sad.

"Well, that was my fall back plan in case the salt didn't work."

"What?" Wait a minute; oh I get it tease the injured guy, fine. I give him my best pout which is completely wasted on him because he's keeping his eyes on the road, but I catch a fleeting smile cross his face. I snort loudly and settle in for a nap and for the first time in a long time I sleep without dreams and it's nice, real nice.

We don't quite make San Antonio. I'm all for trying to push through but Wes talks me out of it; takes him a while though. I am a damn good lawyer after all and I make him work for it even though I secretly agree - I am still hurting and way too tired to drive safely so we find another cheesy motel to spend the night in.

This time we get a room with two beds and a nice old man whose biggest threat is the ability to talk our ears off. There's a decent diner near this place and we both order hamburgers.

I'm still moving real slow, my muscles have stiffened up and much as I love my truck she is not the most comfortable place for sleeping, especially curled up in the corner of the cab.

Wes watches me limp out of the diner as we head back to the room.

"I'll be right back." He tells me and motions to the drug store down the street. I shrug and wave him off. I want a hot bath, some aspirin and a double Scotch, not necessarily in that order. I'll have to settle for a warm shower and the aspirin, hey two out of three isn't bad.

By the time I get out of the shower, Wes is back and waiting for me. He bought a couple of beach towels, brightly printed tropical fish on a neon blue background. They're spread out on one of the beds and there's a bottle of baby oil and a jar of some sort on the nightstand table.

Let me pause here to say that even the cleanest of minds would have slipped into the gutter at this point; good looking man, bed, oil, jar, extra towels, I think my brief descent into insanity was justified which explains why I clutch my bath towel to me like a frightened virgin and squeak, "What's that for?" in a less than manly voice.

Probably also explains the raised eyebrow I get along with the reply.

"I thought you might like a back rub to help loosen those muscles further before we started driving tomorrow. I didn't mean to be presumptuous however I have on occasion done the same thing for Gunn and Angel when they were hurt. I've been told that I'm quite good."

Oh I bet you are buddy. Okay Lindsey, start talking and make it good.

"Look Wes I appreciate the offer but really, I'll be fine, a couple of aspirin and a good night's sleep and I'll be right as rain." I give him one of my best reassuring smiles. He cocks his head to the side and studies me silently for a moment.

"Why are you so nervous?"

"Nervous. I'm not nervous. I'm tired. What makes you think I'm nervous?"

"Your accent, it becomes much more pronounced when you're upset or excited or apparently, nervous."

Well Hell I know that but for some reason I didn't think he'd caught on, damn it all.

"I told ya, I'm not nervous, I'm just tired, that's all," I snap before turning to make a dignified escape back to the relative safety of the bathroom. A single finger touching my hand stops me.

"Please, let me help you. You've done so much for me, more than I think you realize; let me do this for you? I promise I won't hurt you. Will you trust me?"

That soft voice and pleading eyes mesmerize me; snared by a single touch from a man I couldn't tolerate a few days ago. Jeez Lindsey, get a grip; it's a backrub, not an engagement, so why do I think this is either a bad idea or a real good one?

I nod in answer and he accepts it with a small smile. I'm still clutching the towel like a lifeline so I take a deep breath and saunter over to the bed. This isn't any different than getting a massage down at the gym, no big deal, right?

Wes waits until I get comfortable before reaching over and pouring some oil into his hands.

"I'll use this to massage the sore muscles and than the ointment for the bruises. Relax," he says softly, "I'll be gentle." If I hadn't heard the hint of laughter in his voice I swear I would have bolted from the room.

I growl at him and he laughs out loud this time before going to work on my shoulders and, oh good Lord, the man has magic hands.

I groan in appreciation as he begins at the base of my neck and works his way down, kneading and lengthening muscles, smoothing kinks and softening knots of tension. I think I'm in Heaven. Down my arms, all the way to my hands, each finger and back again to my
neck; the base of my skull and up, gentle circles that relax and sooth; damn he's good.

Everywhere he touches, I feel years of tension melt away, tension I didn't even realize I had locked up inside me. And his hands, they're so warm, they're almost hot and I can feel that heat seep into my pores, work its way inside, warming me, calming me, cleansing me. I feel safe and at peace; it's been so long since I felt that, too long.

I don't realize I'm crying at first. They're not great heaving sobs, no shuddering breaths not even a sniffle, just a face wet with tears that will not stop and I don't know what to do. Lindsey MacDonald, ex-hot shot LA attorney doesn't have a clue on how to get out of this situation without embarrassing the Hell out of myself.

The decision is taken out of my hands.

"It's all right, shhh, it's all right." He croons, lightly stroking my hair as I sit up, wiping at my
face and nose. A handkerchief appears in front of me and I laugh a little hysterically I think to judge by Wesley's worried expression.

How to explain that I suddenly feel like I'm a child again, a snot nosed kid weeping at his grandmother's funeral; trying and failing to act like a grown up, like the responsible one.

I'm sorry Lorne but how the Hell am I suppose to help Wesley when I can't even help myself?

"Sorry, sorry about everything."

I rub my eyes wearily and wonder if I can put this all down to exhaustion and injury? I wonder if Wes will buy that; I sure could use a drink right about now.

"Not too long before I started having my little breakdown, I was possessed by the blood of a very evil young man named Billy. He hated women, all women and his blood brought out that hatred in any man that touched it." Wes paused to take a deep breath before continuing.

"Well needless to say, I touched it and unfortunately for all concerned, Fred was in the hotel with me and I tried to kill her," he laughed bitterly. "I had the most God awful crush on her and as if trying to slice her up wasn't bad enough, I had to keep talking and taunting her with the most despicable things the entire time I was chasing her."

He gives me a twisted smile before continuing, "And do you know what the worse part of all of that was? It wasn't the destruction of any hope I might have had of winning her favor. It wasn't even the attempted murder. It was the fact that I meant everything that I said to her; there was some part of me that reached deep down into my psyche and drudged up every vile thought I'd every had, no matter how fleeting, about any woman I'd ever met. And after it was all over and she'd 'kicked my butt' as you would say, I went home and wept for hours and for everything I'd ever done."

I reach out and clasp his hand, not gonna let go Wes, not gonna let go. He returns my comfort with a grip bordering on pain; not gonna let go.

"That's the worse thing about evil, don't you think? The knowledge that all these things, these awful things, are coming from you, no matter whether you're possessed or blinded by ambition or merely following orders; evil needs something inside you to make it work. After all even the most powerful demon can't create something out of nothing."

"Of course that didn't stop my pride from leading me to another terrible mistake." He turns to me with the saddest smile, "As you said, 'sorry, sorry about everything' pretty much sums up the last few years of my life." He squeezes my hand comfortingly and tries to let go but I don't let him.

Instead I use the leverage to pull him forward slowly, giving him every chance to stop me, stop everything but he doesn't. He simply watches me move forward until I hesitate just short of his lips, hovering, giving him one last chance to back away, giving myself the same. He doesn't take it and neither do I.

I'm not sure what to expect at first; believe it or not, I've never kissed a guy before. There's the beginning roughness of his beard, strange but not unpleasant, but the lips, ah the lips. We're both a little clumsy. He stops me for a moment and I try to swallow my disappointment but he only smiles shyly and removes his glasses before moving into the kiss again.

We build slowly, getting used to each other, only our mouths, nothing else, just lips and now tongues, licking and probing but still, no embrace, only the continued holding of hands. And I feel like I'm on a first date and I'm innocent and I don't know what to do because this is all uncharted territory and it's wonderful.

The kiss deepens and now the heat it generates is winding its way down my spine, suffusing me with its warmth. I feel light inside, buoyant and a little giddy and a lot turned on. I'm also getting light-headed and he must be too because we break the kiss, but reluctantly, both of us unable to resist coming back for more, nips and licks and biting kisses.

I stare into very dazed eyes which I am sure are a mirror to my own. I try to clear my throat to say something; I'm not sure what but Wes beats me to it.

"I've never...."

"Me neither..."

"I'm aware of the mechanics but, ...."

We stare at each other a little awkwardly but we're both still trying to catch our breath and we're pretty obviously still interested. I lick my lips and watch his eyes flicker as they follow my tongue. I stifle a groan, two virgins in a motel room, and this could turn uncomfortable mighty fast and I sure don't want that so I reach my hand out, wrap it around his neck and pull him towards me, forehead to forehead.

"How about some heavy petting than? I promise I won't try to get to third base."

He bursts out laughing, the first spontaneous laugh I've ever heard from him, and the tension breaks.

"So states the half naked man on my bed." His eyes twinkle merrily but he leans forward pulling off his socks before unbuttoning his shirt and pulling us both up the bed. We lie there facing each other, his arm hanging loosely across my waist.

"We shall have to be quiet, my parents are in the next room," he whispers.

I chuckle quietly; who knew Mr. Staid and Proper had such a wicked sense of humour? He's definitely caught the moment and I briefly send up a word of thanks to whoever oversees these types of situations, that my first time making out with a guy is with someone who shares my sense of the absurd.

This time it's he who moves forward and initiates the kiss; this time hands and arms immediately come into play. Where usually there's softness and curves, there's hard muscle. I rubbed experimentally at a nipple and elicit a sharp gasp from Wes; well some things are the same, so I do it again and again. Hey, this is fun.

While my hands explore his chest his are busy roaming further south, along my waist and dipping lower, teasingly lower before retreating then returning again. I groan quietly and press forward.

Damn, I'm close to coming and we haven't even done anything yet. It's like being thirteen again and all my practiced seductions techniques, my hard earned education in foreplay is flying out the window with my damn near overwhelming desire to rub up against him like a dog in heat. And isn't that romantic picture?

At least I'm not the only one if I'm any judge. Wesley's kisses are becoming more frantic, harder along with the thrusting of his tongue and suddenly we're rubbing against each other frantically, gloriously, faster and faster until everything is wiped out in one bright wash of white light.

I don't pass out, but it's a close thing. I can hear both of us panting, trying to catch our breath. I can feel my heartbeat slowing and feel the random shudders from the aftershocks of what has to be one of the best orgasms of my life and we didn't really do anything!

"Speak for yourself sir." Wes murmurs.

"I said that out loud huh?" I'm glad my eyes are still closed so that I can't see the full body blush that has probably taken over my skin. "Did I yell?"

"I couldn't say; did I?" Wes returns conversationally.

"I couldn't say." I have yet to open my eyes but the time has come. Wes is lying there, boneless, with a slight smile on his face; eyes wide open, watching me.

"Well at least you didn't try to get to third base Mr. MacDonald," he smirks at me. "Your hands never did dip below the waist."

Damn.

.................................................................................................................................................................................

Part Eight

Well that was pleasant. Oh who am I kidding? That was great! If we do get around to having actual sex I may not survive it. I think about that for a moment; no problems here.

I'm all for basking in the afterglow and I'm a closet cuddler from way back however, the general stickiness from the previous fun is becoming unpleasant. Unpleasant, good God, old Wes is wearing off on me.

In the next few seconds I realize that I'm also wearing off on Wes. We both have the same thought because we make a mad dash for the bathroom. He gets there first, slamming the door in my face and laughing. Oh yeah, very mature.

I hear the shower start up, well we can't have that. Did I mention that I carry a professional lock pick kit around with me? No? Well, I do, because you never know when you're going to have to pick the lock on a motel bathroom door to payback your, well I'm not sure what he is, friend let's say.

I make pretty quick work of the door lock and slip inside and find myself faced with a very erotic scene. Have you ever noticed how eroticism depends as much on what you don't see as what you do? Take now for instance; all I'm seeing is the shadowy out line of a man taking a shower. No big deal, really. I see him rubbing soap up and down his arms, across his shoulders, dropping down his chest, circling his pecs, rubbing at his nipples, but that's just a guess; okay I should just grab a washcloth, get cleaned up and get out and I will, any minute now, yup.

He's got to know I'm here and with his next action, I'm sure of it.

His hands have dropped below the waist; oh good Lord, he's a big guy or maybe it just the distortion of the shower curtain, well there's one way to find out but I don't really want to move and ruin the show and it's definitely become a show.

He's worked up quite a handful of lather with the soap; his hands are slipping and sliding down and around, just brushing the edges of his cock, but no touching. My mouth is going dry and my breath is speeding up and if he's not going to start than I am. The towel drops to my feet and I wonder if he turns his head could he see me like I can see him?

Believe it or not I've never been much of a tease, never been one for a floor show, not many guys are; a lot of us really are kinda shy and touching yourself in front of a another person takes a lot of guts, I mean who wants to look silly right? But right now, I could care less about that; now, now is all about sensation.

I guess Wes is done with the teasing because he's holding himself with both hands and stroking, firm strokes that pull on the way down and ease on the way up and make the blood rush to your cock and gather in your balls and everything's starting to tingle and spark. And I'm mimicking his movements and I know what he's feeling so that when his hips start to jerk, start to thrust, I'm right there with him and this is intense, trying to keep my eyes focused on the prize, so to speak and stay upright at the same time.

One hand's wandering up to his nipples and I can see him pinching and rubbing and I go to follow his lead and I can't help gasping out loud because it's like there's this straight line from my chest to my balls and yeah I knew that, even felt it before but never like this. And I feel like I could cum just from this and I'm having trouble hearing my thoughts over the roaring of the blood rushing through my body, downward - everything's heading down. I can't catch my breath and Wes and I are totally coordinated now and pulling, tugging, faster and faster and now our hands are dropping back down both hands fondling our balls and oh my God, I've never touched myself there, never been one for ass play but if I'd known, oh God!

And everything dissolves in the hot white flash that comes with a really good orgasm, which I thought I'd had before but they were just warm ups for the main event. I'm sliding down the door, continuing tonight's theme of exploring the concept of 'down' and finally I close my eyes and try to calm my breath and listen to harsh gasps, his and mine echo off the tile; listen as the shower turns off, listen to the shower curtain pull back and now it's all about feeling.

Feel him pull me to my feet and kiss me like there's no tomorrow, no yesterday, no mistakes and no regrets and I guess I won't be getting cleaned up anytime soon. I don't care because right now, at this moment I feel cleaner than I've felt in years, even better than before and I suddenly laugh and Wes cocks his head at me and I whisper my thought in his ear; 'how many orgasms will it take to wash our souls pure again'? I wait for him to laugh but he doesn't, instead he cups my face in his hands and catches my lips in a much gentler kiss before pulling back and smiling at me, really smiling for the first time since this trip began.

Than he takes a wet washcloth in one hand and my hand in the other and leads me to the bed; he wipes me clean and I use that god-awful beach towel to rub him dry and I'd like to say that we went at it again straight away but frankly, twice in less than an hour is pushing it even for a couple of young guys who haven't been getting any.

So we snuggle under the covers and I keep waiting for the unease to start, the funny feeling that I've done something wrong or stupid and it doesn't come, not even a twinge. It's like when I left Los Angeles, I didn't know what I'd be doing or where I'd end up I just knew it was the right thing to do. I cherish these moments; I can count the number of times that I've felt them on one hand and they're very special to me. And every time I feel this peaceful, calm feeling from having made the right decision I always wonder why I make the wrong one so often?

"You're thinking too much." We're laying face-to-face, arms and legs loosely entwined. His eyes are closed but he's obviously not asleep. "I can hear the wheels turning."

"Just wondering about stuff," I mutter, ducking my head underneath his chin. This is different, having a partner be so much taller, interesting.

I feel him drop a kiss on my head. "Go to sleep Lindsey."

"What if I don't want to?" Why do I have to argue about everything - oh right, lawyer.

"No nap, no dessert," Wes murmurs huskily in my ear causing a shiver down my spine. I grumble for effect before snuggling closer and I can almost feel his smile.

I dutifully try to drop off and it must work because the next thing I know it's close to dawn and something woke me and that something was Wesley. He's propped up on one elbow watching his hand stroke up and down my chest, just the ghost of a touch. He meets my eyes and smiles slightly before focusing back on his 'work'.

He finds out I'm ticklish, not something I want generally known but here and now, I find I don't mind much especially when I find out he is too. God, this wonderful, laughing in bed is wonderful and I haven't done it, ever.

I don't know how we decide who gets to top; it just works out that way. He strokes and rubs and suddenly I find myself rolling over, coming up on my hands and knees, shaking in anticipation and a little fear. What if it hurts? What if I'm no good? What if, what if, what if.

"You're thinking too much again," Wesley whispers before dropping a line of kisses and nips down my spine and back to my neck.

"Pot calling the kettle black," I gasp, arching into his touch.

"Are you sure?" Wesley asks but he's all ready reaching for the bottle of oil and yes, I'm sure, damn sure.

"Yes, just go slow, okay?" I shudder as a feel the cool oil pool on the small of my back.

"Sorry," he whispers or maybe just pants, unable to catch his breathe anymore than I am. He hesitates briefly before slipping a finger inside and I squirm a bit because let's face it, feels a little odd, you know? But he's got a good way of distracting me, slipping his other hand to my front, slick with oil and grasping my cock. He's stroking me gently, hard enough to keep my interest, soft enough to tease and yeah, that does take my mind off what's going on behind me to a certain extent.

He's got two fingers in now and it's a little uncomfortable but he moves slowly, giving me time to get used to it. Three fingers and I hiss at the pain and he freezes.

"Should I stop?" He asks worriedly.

"No! No," I say, "Don't stop, give me a minute." I bite my lip and try to relax, moving one hand from the bed to the hand Wes has on my cock. I clasp his wrist and he starts stroking again. Oh yeah, like that, pleasure and pain, seems like a good combination, like an old friend really.

"All right?"

I give a terse nod and he starts probing and twisting again hitting my prostate this time and okay, now I know what all the fuss is about. I let out a high-pitched cry, (I refuse to call it a squeal) and buck back, hard.

"Now, dammit, right now!" Yeah, I'm demanding in bed but Wes doesn't seem to mind. He's clamped down hard on my cock, refusing to move and I growl in frustration but not too hard, don't want to distract him.

His fingers slip out to be replaced by something much larger and that shiver of fear is back; big, he's real big. And I must say it out loud because he stops, one hand holding my hip, holding me steady, the other still gripping me in front.

"You're a wonder for the ego, Lindsey." He purrs in my ear. "Imagine our positions are reversed. Imagine how you'll feel when you do this to me." Oh Lord! I shiver again but it's not fear this time and he takes the opportunity to thrust forward, burying just the head inside. I gasp because it's so much, almost too much.

He groans and thrusts again and now he's half inside of me and I feel like I'm burning and his hand starts moving on my cock again and I buck and suddenly he's all inside and he freezes.

"Move, move, move!" I can't stop chanting it and like I said I can be damn demanding in bed. Wes growls and dreamy English Watcher guy turns into an animal but only in the best possible sense.

He yanks me upright so that I'm sitting on his lap and it pushes him in even farther and there's no blood in my head, the big one at least. He's moving me up and down like I'm a rag doll and I don't care because it feels like I'm flying, like I felt the first time I went on the carousel, when I was five and the whole world was spinning by and I wanted to go faster,

faster!

Wes is kissing and biting at my neck and he's got my cock in both hands now, and everything's moving faster and faster! I've got a death grip on his hips and suddenly I'm cumming and now I know why the French call it the little death, I really do. And Wes is crying out and cumming and holding me, like he'll never let me go. And the last thing I think before we fall to the bed; is yeah, oh yeah, this was perfect.

...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Part Nine

I don't think I've woken up in someone else's arms in a long time, not since college anyway. God this is nice even though my arm's going numb but hey nothing worth having, right?

Wes is still asleep and I'm taking advantage of that fact to look him over. He doesn't really look younger so much as peaceful; all those thoughts that spend their waking hours tormenting him are still and quiet now and no bad dreams. I like to think I had something to do with that.

I made someone happy, haven't done that in a while, haven't wanted to either. Of course what would have made most of my acquaintances happy would have been my untimely and bloody demise so I think my reluctance to spread sunshine around is understandable.

I realize I'm grinning like a fool but I don't care. You hear that? I, Lindsey MacDonald am one happy camper. I'm in bed with a good looking man that I like who likes me back. He's not using me and I'm not using him. Right? Right?

Oh shoot! I'm always thinking too damn much. I wasn't using him but that doesn't mean the reverse is true. He's depressed and grieving for his 'friends' and I was available, why wouldn't he take a little comfort if it was offered? Hell, I've done it enough times to recognize the signs.

Dammit, now I'm ticked off and I don't know who I'm madder at, Wes or myself? You know what? Screw it! I don't care why he slept with me, I know why I had sex and my motives were pure; pure lust and comfort but pure. I'm not going to let his reasons wreck a damn good roll in the hay.

I'm so busy with my internal dialogue that I'm startled by an obviously amused voice.

"Have you finished your morning after recriminations or should I go back to sleep and let you paint yourself into a corner?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" My chin comes up ready for a fight.

"I simply wondered whether I was about to be called a cad and thrown out of bed." Wes asked calmly.

"I'm being a idiot aren't I?"

"The answer to that would be yes, I think."

"I'll shut up then." I'm mumbling so I clear my throat and speak up. "Want the bathroom first?"

Wes gives me a long look before nodding his head and rolling off the bed. I can't help staring at him. That's the man who became my first male lover. He made me scream and I loved it. I'm having a little trouble getting my brain wrapped around that thought. I had sex with a guy and liked it. In fact I wouldn't mind doing it again except that things are a little awkward

right now and it's my fault.

Wes keeps his back to me and slips into his jeans, strangely bashful. He hesitates for a moment before turning to me with an almost fierce expression on his face and kneeling on the bed grabbing me by the shoulders, hauling me upright and giving me one hell of a kiss, half anger, half passion before letting go, standing up, nodding his head decisively and marching into the bathroom.

Okay, I'm back to grinning like a fool again, God no wonder I haven't been involved with anyone for a while, what a roller-coaster!

I get up slower than Wes and a lot more stiffly. I'm sore, very, very sore. Don't get me wrong, it was worth it, every bit of it but ouch. I wish we had a tub and I could take a long, hot soak. Oh well, again with the nothing worth having thoughts.

Wes gives me a tentative smile when he exits the bathroom which becomes absolutely brilliant when I give him a wry grin in return. I limp towards the bathroom and he winces.

"I'm sorry, will you be all right?"

"I'm a MacDonald, Wes." Which doesn't really answer the question but people don't usually know how to respond so... It works on Wesley, that's all that matters.

I grab a quick shower and come out to find Wes has everything packed and ready to go. San Antonio here we come.

 

* * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We hit San Antonio just as the sun is setting and Wesley is doing his best not to laugh at me because I'm almost frantic to get down to the market along the river. I've got this little restaurant in mind from the last time I was here. Cool bourbon, not that

either of us care anymore, and great food, right along the riverfront.

I remember it fondly and not just for the drink and the food. Nope, the last time I was there I wasn't alone. I was with a girl named Cathy; a sweet, kind young woman who shouldn't have been out with a man like me. I met her on the plane. She was visiting her folks.

It was a date but not the uncomfortable kind where everyone's trying to figure out how the evening's going to end. Nope we spent the evening talking. Well I did anyway, she listened and smiled at my big dreams and big talk. At the end of the evening she kissed my cheek and told me to be careful what I wished for. I never saw her again.

And now here I am again, with another person who probably shouldn't be out with a man like me and not worried about how the evening will end. I park the car and jump out.

"Come on Wes, you'll love this." He takes deep breath of warm scented air and smiles.

"Where are we going again?"

"Food Wes, the best Mexican food in San Antonio, maybe the world." He cocks an eyebrow but decides to humor the crazy man.

 My little restaurant is still there. I won't let on but I was worried just a little but the magic holds. We're early enough that we get a table near the water. Thank God for Texas dress codes, our jeans fit in fine here. We both order tall mint iced teas and sit back watching the couples and kids walking by and for the first time in a long time I don't feel like I'm on the outside looking in.

It occurs to me that the whole trip has been filled with a lot of "first time in a long time" moments. Maybe Wes isn't the only one who needed to get away and think things through. I thought I was doing that when I hit the road all those months ago but the truth is I was doing my best not to think. I figured all I had to do was get myself a brand new life and make some memories that didn't have to do with trying to destroy the world and everything would be fine. You know, this is the first day of the rest of your life sort of thing but it doesn't work like that and I knew it. Hell, didn't I tell Wes that same thing when we started this whole crazy road trip? I knew it but I didn't want to believe it although you'd think I'd get a clue what with not sleeping more than three hours a night because of the dreams.

Sometimes, smart people are the dumbest people out there.

Our tea arrives and I meet Wes' eyes. He's staring at me with a slightly worried look on his face, probably wondering if I'm going to go all maudlin on him. I raise my glass in a toast.

"What are we toasting?"

"We're toasting people who are too smart for their own good."

Wes breaks into a big old grin, "May the Powers protect the poor saps." He taps my glass with his. "Whomever they may be."

"And wherever they may roam." I say solemnly. We share a rueful smile.

...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Part Ten

We enjoyed a great meal, drank enough tea to float a battleship and than went for a walk along the riverfront. It was a warm night but not too hot, pleasant with a slight breeze.

We walked and talked about stuff, normal non-magical stuff like who had the best chance at the pennant this year and whether we liked the new assistant D.A. on Law and Order; like I said, normal everyday stuff. We both watched one hell of a good looking woman walk by and spent a few minutes arguing over who she'd smiled at, him or me. We bought some cookies for the road and some chillies just because and went back to the car and drove by the Alamo on the way out of town.

And we didn't talk about sex or our relationship once and it didn't matter.

I always thought people couldn't be friends with someone they slept with, that's not how it worked; they were either lovers or one night stands but not friends. Yeah, I know, I have a skewed vision of the world. But it's not like that with Wes, with him I'm friends first and I'm sadder about him leaving me in New Orleans because I'll be losing a pal first, lover second. I've had lovers and they've been fun but right now I'd rather have a friend.

It's midnight and we're listening to Emmylou Harris on the radio. We decided to drive all night to make New Orleans by morning. Neither of us have been talking much for the last hour or so. I'm feeling kinda down and restless and scared, like something is coming and I don't know whether to run or fight.

Wes has been sitting hunched against his door pretending to doze. I can tell he isn't asleep but he obviously doesn't want to talk so I let him get away with it. Truth is I don't really want to talk either because I'm not sure what I'd say. Well, since when has that ever stopped me.

"Wes?"

"Yes?"

"You don't have to go back to Los Angeles if you don't want to. You can stay with me in New Orleans if you'd like." Well Hell, where did that come from?

Wes turns to look at me, head propped on his hand and still leaning against the door.

"That's very kind of you."

I snort. "I'm not a kind man Wes it's just, well you know, I didn't want you to think I was dropping you at the bus station without a by your leave."

"Not going to merely slow the truck down and tell me to jump?" He teased gently.

"Here's your hat, what's your hurry?" I tease back.

"We must do lunch sometime."

"I'll have my secretary call."

We both bust up laughing.

"Seriously Wes, you don't have to go home right away unless you want to. I mean I did kinda kidnap you."

He rubbed the fading bruise on his chin significantly before dead panning, "I hadn't noticed."

"You didn't force me to come along, you gave me a choice, sobered me up and helped me marshal my thoughts and you did it all because a friend asked you to. Don't tell me you're not a kind man Mr. MacDonald because I won't believe you. You sir, have a marshmallow center."

"I do not! You take that back!" I'm outraged or at least pretending to be.

"Marshmallow," he declares confidentially apparently not the least bit bothered by my demands.

"Takes one to know one." Oh that was mature Lindsey, what's next, 'you're rubber and I'm glue'?

"Pull over."

"Why?"

"Because I want to kiss you and I don't want to die."

"Oh." I pull the truck over to the side of the road. Pretty deserted this time of the night or morning now. He reaches forward with his hand and cups my face rubbing his thumb back and forth across the beginnings of my beard. He smiles a little bemusedly before dropping his head and brushing my lips with his. It's a sweet kiss, a thank you kiss and I close my eyes and soak up the feeling.

He pulls back and stares at me solemnly for a moment before smiling. "I don't know if I can stay for long. I don't want to use you to hide from my responsibilities and it would be so easy to do. Oh, I'd tell myself that I was staying with you because I like you or because there was nothing left for me in LA so why not try a new city but the truth would be that I was scared, too scared to go home and face my friends."

I swallow hard and nod like of course I knew that, no big deal. I try to turn away but his hand stays on my cheek.

"On the other hand, I could stay with you until your 'gig' is up and than perhaps we could return to LA together?" He says it softly, hesitantly, more a question than a statement.

"I don't know Wes." I shake my head.

"Of course, Wolfram and Hart. Stupid of me to forget, you can't come back. I'm sorry." He's flustered and now it's he that wants to turn away and I'm the one holding him in place.

"Screw Wolfram and Hart Wes." I say it clearly, so there's no misunderstanding.

"If they wanted me dead, it wouldn't matter where I was, they'd take me out. That's not why I...." Help me somebody, I'm stumbling here.

"Is it Angel?" Wes asks softly. "Are you frightened of him?"

"No, I'm not frightened of Angel. I know where he's coming from and I can handle it. But yeah, I am frightened; I'm frightened of me. I'm not a good man Wes, no matter what you say or I sometimes believe. I don't think I'm a bad man anymore but I'm not a good one. Hell, if you hadn't been with me at that motel I don't know whether I would have helped those girls or just stayed in my room. I'd like to think I would have helped but I don't know."

"You helped those children when you were still at the Firm." Wes says softly.

I hold my fingers up, just a hair's breath apart. "This close Wes, I was this close to turning away."

"Lindsey, I believe that you're under the mistaken impression that good people always do the right thing and that's what makes them good. Do you think I'm a good man?"

"You're a hero Wes, you're a little down on your luck right now but you're a hero. I'm not."

I get a very inelegant snort from Wesley in reply. "Lindsey,"

"I know what you're going to say, 'I screwed up and Connor was stolen' but don't you see, it's not the same. You did your best and shit happened. It goes down like that sometimes but you were trying to save lives, it's just different." I'm irritated and out of sorts now. Damn, why can't he see the difference between us, it's so damn clear to me.

Wes shakes his head at me and than straightens his shoulders obviously deciding not to pursue the argument, at least that's what I think.

"Fine, I'm a hero and a good man so if I say you too are a good man it must be true because as you pointed out 'takes one to know one'. Well I think that wraps up this discussion. You may resume driving."

What happened here? What the Hell just happened here? Smug bastard, I refuse to believe that I've been out argued by Mr. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Should have dumped him by the side of the road first thing. Lorne owes me for this big time. I'll be having a talk with Mr. Greene, don't you worry.

But through all my muttering and dire predictions of retribution there's a warm spot in my chest that wasn't there before.

* * * * * * * *

We reach New Orleans and the club right before noon. I've put off eating anything because we must have beignets, it is a pre requisite of being in the Big Easy, so I'm starving.

Luckily my contract is still open and a go for tomorrow. The club owner's name is Mickey and she's one sassy dame; going to have to watch my ass in more ways than one, I think, rubbing a pinched cheek.

Along with my salary I get a small room over the club for use while I'm employed. It's big and airy with walkway running all along three sides of the room. It smells of spice and sandalwood and lemons. I take a deep breath and share a look of tired thanks with Wes.

We didn't talk about sleeping arrangements, don't really need to; we're both too tired to care and we strip down to our shorts and drop to the big bed along one side of the room. I'm asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

I must sleep for about eight hours. The sounds of the club wake me up. A cooling breeze is wafting through the windows and I roll over on my back to catch the air across my chest.

I feel my nipples tighten with the temperature change. Ah, nice. I also feel Wes' eyes on me.

"You're watching me again."

"Yes. It's in the blood." He smirks.

"You gonna do more than watch?" I breathe.

"Oh yes," he groans, rolling towards me and taking a peaked nipple in his mouth. I gasp, feeling his tongue snake back and forth across the nub before he starts a tentative sucking motion. Oh sweet Jesus!

One of his hands has dropped to my stomach before snaking inside my boxers and grasping my hardening

cock. His fingers are squeezing and relaxing, squeezing and relaxing with the sucking motions of his mouth and my hips are beginning to follow suit. Lifting into his hand, wanting the friction.

I've got both hands buried in his hair and I'm breathing hard but I want him, up here where I can taste him, now.

I tug his head upright and he gives me a dazed look.

"Up here, come." Well that was coherent but luckily he seems to understand.

I pull his head down and start devouring his mouth. He tastes so good, sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what Wes is made of and I want to taste him, everywhere.

With a sudden burst of strength I flip him to his back. He still manages to retain possession of my cock. The man has an amazingly one track mind but I manage to wiggle free and get a murmured complaint in response. I shush him with a single finger on his lips while I begin to map his chest with my fingers. My mouth is busy heading south.

He's pulled a couple of pillows under his head so he can keep track of my progress and I stop briefly to watch his tongue wet his lips. We share an intense look and a sly smile before I continue on my quest.

Damn his cock is big, or maybe it's just because it's filling my field of vision? Nope it's big, definitely more than a mouthful and uncut to boot, and I hesitate because, never done this before.

"It's all right, you don't have to...." He whispers from somewhere above me.

Sure I don't have to but I sure as Hell want to. I reach out with my tongue and lick briefly at the small bead of pre-cum revealed at the tip.

Ahhh, tastes sweet although logically I know that's probably not the case, still, empirical evidence and all that.

I lick again and again and again before dropping my head and taking the entire tip into my mouth. I hear a strangled cry and hands that have been rubbing my shoulders and head suddenly clench hard as he struggles not to thrust.

Hmmm, I wonder what sucking will do? I get a full throated cry in response to that little experiment. Yeah, okay, I think I'm getting the hang of this. I've always heard that you should just do what feels good to you so one hands drops down to tug lightly on his balls while the other twists and turns around all the cock I can't get in my mouth. Sorry Wes, they'll be no deep throating tonight but you know I don't think he much cares if his writhings and cries are anything to go by, it's like trying to hold onto a bucking bronco. Thank God I'm a cowboy huh?

His balls are beginning to tighten up, he's close and so am I. All this rolling and rubbing against the sheets is making it hard to concentrate on the matter at hand, so to speak but I'm nothing if not stubborn. I give his balls one final tug and he rears up,

grabbing my head and clutching me like a drowning man as he pumps my mouth full, once, twice, three times. I swallow as fast as I can before crying out as I cum into the sheets both of us still hanging on for dear life.

I drop back to the bed in a daze but no rest for the weary. I feel and insistent tug and Wes pulls me up into his arms. We share a kiss and he licks my lips clean of the last remnants of his cum.

Maybe I will go back to Los Angeles, maybe I won't. I still haven't made up my mind but one thing I do know I've got choices now, choices I didn't have before and someone to help me make them. I snuggle in closer to the ex-Watcher in my bed.

"You think too much." Wes murmurs sleepily.

"Yeah, you'll have to tell me how 'you' managed to stop doing that." I try for snide but I bushed.

"Smartass," Wes ruins the comeback with a yawn and a smile.

"It's been said," I smile back. "It's been said."

 

The End