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"44 Hours"
by Just Human

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Rating: R (Language and themes of child abuse)
Summary: Cordelia goes to Wesley after "Sleep Tight."
Disclaimer: Joss is my sadistic god; I am but a cowering sub that claims to write and owns nothing.
Spoilers: Everything through "Sleep Tight"
Improv #Improv #39 poolside - cocktail - disco - beach - pink
Author's Coments: This fic was written in the 5 week hiatus while we waited for "Forgiving." Some of the incidental characterizations were based on unconfirmed spoilers for "Forgiving." In retrospect, I'm glad we were given angry Wes, but there's still no excuse for pod-Cordelia.

"44 Hours"

It had been 60 hours since Wesley left the Hyperion with Connor;
48 hours since anyone remembered to page her;
46 hours since Wesley had been released from the hospital;
40 hours since she and Groo pulled back into LA;
39 hours since she went up to personally ream out Angel for brooding when they needed to be looking for the baby;
24 hours since she came downstairs with swollen eyes and small bruises on the hands where Angel would not let go of her in his desperate need for comfort;
23 hours since she had a vision about a nest of sewer demons;
13 hours since they tracked and slew all 16 of them;
11 hours since she collapsed in a dusty bed in the Hyperion;
5 hours since she showered;
3 hours since she started trying to decipher anything useful from the piles of paper and books in Wesley’s office.
1 hour since she gave up and decided to try his apartment.

It had been 44 hours since anyone had seen Wesley. When she had escaped Angel’s room, she demanded that they go and check on him since he was not answering the phone and then the vision hit. Fred checked the apartment while the rest of them were out slaying demons. No sign of Wesley.

Cordelia figured there was no reason to bother knocking. Using her spare key, she entered Wesley’s apartment. Ancient tomes had escaped the confines of the desk and were lying all over the living room. There was the faint odor of garbage from the kitchen hinting that it had been there a while. The bed was unmade and a small pile of dirty socks and underwear was on the floor near the bed, more than a days worth. It sunk into her that in the last few weeks, Wesley had spent all of his time pouring over books either in the living room or at the hotel. She opened the door to the bedroom closet to look for luggage and was shocked to see Wesley huddled on the floor.

He was rocking, arms wrapped around drawn up legs and his face in his knees. His clothes and hair were a mess. Based on Fred’s description, the same ones he had been wearing when he left the hospital. A strong odor of urine hit her nose. His rocking stopped and with his tear stained face he looked up at her.

“Wesley, what are you doing in the closet?” taking into consideration his state, “Have you been there since you came back from the hospital?”

“Oh, yes, yes, right here where I belong. I came straight here when Mr. Hawthorne and Miss Jenny brought me back. I know I have done a horrible thing and this is where I am supposed to go. Only,” he hesitated a moment, the panic rising in him, palpable, “The closet was a mess. There were so many things on the floor that there was no room for me. I did that too. I put all the things on the floor so there wouldn’t be room for me because I was going to be a good boy and not have to go back into the closet. So, I didn’t go straight in because I had to clean it first. Please Mum, don’t tell that part to Father. He’ll already be so mad at me because I did not take care of the other little boy, Connor. Please Mum, don’t tell.”

Cordelia was confused during the first part of his speech Hawthorne? Miss Jenny? Did he mean Gunn and Fred? By the time he reached the end, her confusion had given way to pain. After having seen Angel, Wesley cracking was not boding well for motivating this team back into action. Besides obviously not being in his right mind, he had been crying. She had never seen him cry. Even when Faith had tortured him, Angel had said he was stiff-upper lippy all the way.

His pleading eyes moved her, but Connor was missing and this was shaping up to be a time for tough love. “Okay Wesley, I need you to listen to me. I’m Cordelia and your parents are in England. Look at me Wesley, do you remember? Cor-del-ia?” she strung out the last word like Americans speak to non-English speakers.

Wesley looked momentarily relieved, and Cordelia thought for a moment that she had reached him. “Father is away? Will he back soon? Will I have to stay in the closet? Because you see, if I have to stay, I …” he stopped a moment as he face changed from relief to guilt and embarrassment. “I tried to wait, Mum but I after a while I couldn’t.” Big tears welled up in his blue eyes, “Please Mum, don’t be mad. I tried, I really tried to wait.”

It was starting to sink into her how serious this situation was and her plan to just make him snap out of it was not looking viable. She bent down so her face was close to his and she gently spoke to him. “No Wesley, you don’t have to stay in the closet.” He looked at her suspiciously. “Come on, please come out. I promise not to be mad.” She reached out her hand to him and after the first tentative touch, he let her pull him up to his feet. It was then that she saw the bandage taped across his throat. He had been worrying the tape on one side.

“I have to use the toilet.”

“Right, you should do that.” He did not move, but instead continued to hold her bruised hand with his grubby one. “OK, so let’s show you where it is.” She was almost surprised when he followed her to the pink tiled bathroom. With a great deal of uncertainty, she asked aloud, “Wesley can you do this by yourself?” Inside, she was thinking, please God; make him say yes, there are things I just do not want to deal with

He let go of her hand and nodded with his head down. “I think you should take a bath too. Do you think you can manage that?” No response. She turned to start water running in the bathtub. “OK, I’m going into the other room for a minute. You do what you have to do and call me when you’re done. OK?” His gaze never wandered from a single spot on the floor. “Wesley!” she said sharply to get his attention, and slowly, he looked up. “Wesley, can you do what you have to do by yourself?”

“Yes, Mum. I’m a big boy, I can do it by myself.”

“And will you take a bath too?”

“Yes, Mum.”

“OK, then I’ll be in the next room. Call me if you need me, all right?”

“Yes, Mum.”

She rubbed his back for a moment as she stepped past him to exit. She closed the door part way and listened for a moment. Hearing his zipper and the sound of clothes hitting the floor she breathed a sigh of relief. Quickly moving across the room, she reached for the phone and dialed impatiently, listening for sounds from the bathroom.

“Fred. It’s Cordelia. Yeah, look I found Wes,” she paused gesturing impatiently at no one. “Look Fred, this will go much smoother if you just listen. I found Wesley sitting in his closet where he’s apparently been since you and Gunn dropped him off the other day. He’s babbling incoherently. Did they give him any medication at the hospital?” Another pause, “No, this is not the after effects of Advil. Hell, I’m not sure that heroin would cover what I’m seeing here. Look, I’m going to be here for a while. Has Angel come out?” She worried a nail with her teeth and then realized what she was doing and slapped her hand against her thigh to stop herself. “OK, send Lorne up there with some blood and tell Lorne to make sure that Angel eats something. I’ll be here.”

She hung up the phone and went back to the bathroom door. The water was still running. “Wesley, are you done on the toilet?” Shit, she thought, why won’t he answer? Sticking her head in the door, she saw Wesley sitting in the near overflowing bath with his back to her. At least he remembered to take off his clothes, she sighed. Not having much choice, she walked in and turned off the water. “Wesley?” The eyes that met hers were filled with innocence. She had never seen him that vulnerable looking. She did not know what was the right thing or the wrong thing, but she thought leaving him alone right now was probably not the best idea. “OK, let’s take care of this bath.” She moved to her knees and grabbed a washcloth from the corner of the tub. Building up some lather, she washed his back. He sat passively.

“Wesley, when was the last time you ate anything?”

“At the hospital, they gave me some porridge and orange juice and a scone.”

Moving to his arm. “You haven’t eaten anything in almost two days? Wesley, you should have eaten something.”

He turned suddenly splashing water out of the tub onto the floor and onto her shirt. Startled, she pulled back and sat on her heels. “I did what I was supposed to. I went to the closet, and I didn’t come out. Stay in the closet until Father comes to fetch me, that’s what I’m supposed to do. Father can’t be displeased with that, can he?” He was gripping the tub with both hands and looking down.

She swallowed her fear this was after all Wesley. How much pain had he been hiding? It was something he never spoke of, but fragmented glimpses rose in her mind. He sensed Bethany’s abuse at her father’s hands. What did he say when they were talking about what good parents Fred had, ‘never-ending tirade of debasement and scorn.’ Even the endless annoying hero worship he had had for Angel, was that all trying to please is own father? Cordelia wondered if they were hunting the right demons. Instead of caving into anger for a man eight time zones away, she extended gentle fingers and stroked Wesley’s arm. She was going to have to make him work past his fear.

“You did just fine. You did what you were told.” He looked up and relief filled his eyes. “Wesley, I need for you to listen carefully to me. Your father has gone off and he won’t be coming back for a long time.”

“Is he going to stop the bad man and woman who stole Connor? I should have protected him better.” He hesitated and stumbled, “I, I shouldn’t have taken him from his house, but his father was going to hurt him. I couldn’t watch, couldn’t let that happen. His father didn’t want to hurt him, but sometimes fathers hurt you because they love you.”

Cordelia found that she was trembling. She just was not sure if it was in sympathy with Wesley’s terror or in her own blind fury. The senior Mr. Wyndham-Fucking-Pryce was very lucky that there was a continent and an ocean between them right now. “Wesley, why do you think that Angel was going to hurt Connor?”

Wesley didn’t even blink, “Grammaticus' Third Century Greek Commentaries” and he spouted out several lines in what Cordelia assumed must have been Greek. “It means ‘the father will kill the son’ or ‘the father will devour the son.’ But the nice lady,” he stopped obviously thinking hard, “She’s not Miss Jenny is she?”

“No, no her name is Fred. She’s our friend, and she works with us.” Carefully evaluating his expression, she was beginning to hope that she was making progress.

“Fred told me that that bitch Lilah,” he gasped and looked at her with shock and apology written all over his face. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to curse. I won’t do it…”

“Forget it Wesley. Lilah is a bitch. In fact, for now on we will all call her by her title. Lilah the Bitch put the Connor’s blood in Angel’s supply. They told me.” Cordelia watched his eyes carefully as the emotions changed at the drop of a word. Wesley’s face was now filled with childlike adoration for his caretaker.

“Yes, Bitch Lilah tainted his father’s food. He became angry, and I was afraid for Connor. I know what happens when your father is cross with you,” fear in the eyes. Cordelia wondered how much time it takes to fly from California to England. One day that fucking bastard was going to pay for this.

She reached across the cold boundary of the ceramic and stroked his face, which forced him to look at her. “Wesley, even when this is all over, I am not going to let your father come back. There will be no more punishments in the closet. You, you’re too old for that.”

“But he always comes back.”

“Not this time,” Oh real convincing Chase. Driving out someone’s father was not as simple as uninviting a vampire. Or was it? She once babysat for some kids who had spray bottle filled with plain tapwater. It was labeled “Monster Go Away.” All she had to do was have the kids spray it under the bed and in the closet before bed and presto sleeping kids. On a hunch, she added, “we won’t invite him back.”

“But he’s already been invited in.”

“You know how to uninvite him don’t you?”

“Yes, I have the ritual transcribed in a journal and it only requires some holy water, crosses, and moss burning herbs. All the appropriate supplies are located in the side table drawer by the front door.” He paused a second and added, “Just in case.”

It was dizzying how in one sentence he was a frightened 8 year-old and in the next, he was the accomplished watcher. “Okay then. We have all the supplies and I’ve done the ritual before. Well, I held some of the burning herbs while Buffy and Willow did the ritual. We’ll manage. When you are done with your bath, you and I are going to uninvited him.” She tried to sound positive and confident for him.

“But we can’t.”

“Yes. We can. The water is getting cold. Do you think that you can finish your bath on your own? I want to go make us some food.”

“Yes mu-, you’re not my mother, are you? Mother never would send him away. She just let it happen.” He looked at her searchingly.


“Cordelia,” he tried it on for size. “Cordelia, is Welsh and it means ‘jewel of the sea,’” he looked at her again with a closed mouth smile, “Cordelia.”

How long had he had that fact stashed in the back of his brain? “That’s right, Wesley. You’ll wash your hair and finish your bath?”

“Yes, Cordelia.”

He said it with an almost dreamy expression like she was some shiny diamond, but there was still no real recognition of their relationship for the last three years. Patting him on the arm, “Good. Now don’t touch your bandage. I’ll clean that later.” She rose and pulled some clean towels from the linen closet and laid them on the edge of the sink. Scooping up the dirty clothes and the old towels from behind the door, she paused to look back at him. There was something more “Wesley” there. She left, again leaving the door open a crack.

There was a laundry bag in the closet. She pulled it out and added her bundle and the dirty clothes from the bedroom floor. While she was there, she pulled up the small square of carpet from the closet floor. She dumped it in the kitchen garbage, which she tied up and put near the front door.

The cabinets held little hope. The refrigerator was worse. She spotted a few beers on the door and stopped. God, was it less than two days ago that she was happily sipping cocktails poolside with Groo? Touching her damp shirt, wasn’t she laughing the last time someone splashed her? Hell, she just picked up his dirty clothes, and was in the process of making dinner. She wasn’t ready to be the mother of a grown man. Eventually she found a jar of sauce and a box of pasta. Setting some water to boil and the sauce to warm, she went back to the bathroom.

She had been pausing periodically as she moved about the apartment to listen for sounds from the small room. She fervently hoped that what she heard was a sign that he was bathing and snapping out of it. As she reached the door, she heard the tub draining and the shower turning on. Good she thought, a sign of independent thought. Back in the bedroom, she laid out some clothes on the bed. 'Definitely not motherly,' she thought, 'He’s never been able to pick out matching clothes to save his life. This is much more like fashion consultant.'

“Cordelia, I’m done with my bath.”

She moved to the door but stayed outside. She had dressed many wounds on her three male partners, so seeing them in one state of undress or another was hardly uncommon. But, putting Wesley in the bath was almost too much for her. He had become something fragile made of fine crystal. She was frightened that if she saw him without his clothes that he would have become translucent and the light passing though him would reveal things to painful to see. So, she stayed outside the door.

“Are you dry?”

“Yes, but I don’t have my robe.”

“That’s all right. Wrap the towel around yourself and go to the bedroom. I put some clothes on the bed. I’ll be in the kitchen.” She went to the kitchen and dumped the pasta into the boiling water. She peeked past the breakfast bar and saw her towel wrapped charge walking down the hall to the accompaniment of bare feet slapping against the polished floor. There was a small squeak, as the bedroom door closed. Progress, he could follow more take more than one instruction at a time.

Less then ten minutes later she was making two plates as Wesley came into the living room. There was something more alive there now. She sat the plates on the table and gestured for him to sit down. He ran around the table and politely pulled out her chair. OK, more alive but just as deranged.

They ate in silence, Cordelia picking at her food and Wesley wolfing it down. Well this part is better than Angel, she reflected. Maybe if she stopped trying to feed him for two days, he would come out of his room. Of course, there was no telling what or whom he would make a meal of. Two days. Two days ago, her biggest problem was dragging Groo out of a retro-disco where he had been sucked in by the flashing lights of a mirror ball.

She wasn’t equipped to deal with both of them in the states they were in. She certainly couldn’t send them off to a mental health professional either. Gunn was not going to be any help. He was a man of action not a man of patient understanding. Besides, he had made it abundantly clear that he would have killed Wesley by now, except it would have made Fred mad.

Fred was still on shaky ground, but maybe she could help with Wesley if Cordelia could insert some reality back into him. She had no idea what Angel might do and was unwilling to let the little lamb that Fred was near the big and sometimes bad wolf. She didn’t know if she could handle Angel either, but she was fairly sure that at least she could see the deathblow coming.

Lorne might be able to get through to Angel. He had a knack for getting to the bottom of Angel’s moods. His expertise into seeing what people were hiding was not necessary in Wesley’s case. All of his dirty laundry was hanging right there in the open.

“May I be excused?” his request interrupted her musings. She said yes before she thought to ask what he wanted to be excused for. As he walked into the bathroom and shut the door, she breathed a sigh of relief. He had eaten three plates full and downed two big glasses of water. Water, he had to be dehydrated. She would have to push the water. She listened to the very normal sounds coming from the bathroom. God, was this what life was going to be like? When they measured every bottle and checked every diaper for Connor it was expected, but for a guy who was about 10 years older than her? She was putting the dishes in the sink when he came out. “Did you wash your hands?” She nearly kicked herself.

“Yes Cordelia.” She was really longing for some good old fashion name-calling and hair pulling. This subservient attitude was making her more depressed about the possibility of his eventual recovery. All right, she thought, shop talk and current events seemed to be dragging him back. Shop talk and current events it would be.. “OK, we should clean your wound. Take a seat on the couch and I’ll bring a new bandage.”

He nodded and moved into the living room. She was familiar with all the first aid supplies in at least three different households. She noted that the toilet had been flushed and the seat put down. That was some behavior she could stand to see transferred to the office. Bringing some supplies into the living room, she found him with his nose in one of the books. When he saw her, he carefully placed a marker and set it aside.

“Which book is that, Wesley?” She sat down next to him organizing the bandages and anti-bacterial cream on the table. He turned toward her and in crisp Oxford English explained that it was Heinburg’s commentary on ancient prophecy. “And were you using that book to help translate a prophecy involving Angel?” Again there was a scholarly dissertation in which he explained that the book did not aid in translations but provided insights into the metaphorical coding used by many prophecy writers. She decided to take a risk, “Did any of the books say anything about Connor going away?”

“I have not encountered any indication of that as of yet. I am still having difficulty translating certain passages in the later parts of the deLusac. They are becoming more imbedded with code. Also, the author chose to write in several languages over which he had no mastery. The use of code and his abuse of several languages are making it nearly impossible to determine what he was trying to convey. Ow!” he jumped back a little when she accidentally pulled on a stitch.

“I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful,” he relaxed for her. “Do you remember how you got this injury?” Big ominous silence; this is not encouraging she thought.


“Will you tell me what happened? I need to know the details,” she watched his throat nervously swallow under her fingers. He began to speak very slowly and carefully.

“I came here to pick up a book, some clothes and some extra weapons. I brought Connor inside and set him in the middle of the bed so he wouldn’t roll off. I gathered my things, picked him up and went to the car. I put my case in the boot and I was about to strap Connor in. Then Justine called to me. I had the revolver in my waistband because it is the most effective weapon against humans. I knew that Holtz might try and take the baby. I pointed the gun at her and told her to stay away. She kept moving closer and she told me that he had lied to us all. He had beaten her. Why do father’s hurt their children?”

The pained look in his eyes was almost unbearable. “I don’t know Wesley.”

“May we do the uninvite ritual now?”

“Soon, but first I would like you to finish your story. What happened next?” She carefully finished taping the new bandage in place and took both his hand in hers.

“I thought she was like Connor, like me, all alone against the mean people. She needed help like Connor. I lowered the gun and that’s when she slashed my throat and grabbed the baby. Throat wounds are very serious. They tell you that in Watcher’s training. You have to stop everything and try and close them or you’ll bleed to death in minutes. If you keep fighting you’ll die. You have to drop your weapons and only concentrate on the wound. The slayer or someone else will stop the perpetrator. I did what I was told, but there was no one there.”

“OK Wesley, I promised I wouldn’t be mad, but we have to talk about what you did wrong. Do you know what you did wrong?” This was risky, but if she was going to get him back into the present, she was going to have to make him face some harsh reality.

He would not look at her. She could see him fighting with himself. “I shouldn’t have trusted Justine. She was working with the bad man. And I shouldn’t have hit Lorne, but I was afraid he would have tried to stop me or tell on me.”

“Justine was a mistake that any of us could have made, don’t worry about that so much. Let’s talk about Lorne, about trusting your friends. Why didn’t you try to explain the prophecy to Lorne or Fred or Gunn or me?” She blinked hard. Was that question to help Wesley or to help herself?

“Lorne and Fred and Mr. Haw-,” he hesitated a minute and screwed up his forehead concentrating. “Lorne, Fred and Gunn,” he looked at her for confirmation. She nodded in ascent and he continued, “They’re all adults and friends with Connor’s father, they wouldn’t have believed me. The adults never have believed me, or they said it was for my own good or maybe they just didn’t care.”

“What about me, Wesley? Am I one of the adults?”

He was panicky and struggling to resolve his distorted view of reality. “Yes a, yes you’re an adult, but you’re different.”

Clear as mud. “OK, I need some more information. Do you think I would have believed you?”

“Yes, you understand these things. You’ve seen Father when he’s been angry. You know that sometimes that we have to be afraid. You would have understood, but it was complicated. You went away with that other man. You left me alone with Father and I missed you and he missed you. Mum why did you go away? We needed you.”

She was taking in air and opening her mouth to speak but nothing was coming out. She was Mum again and now Angel was Father and not just Connor’s, but Wesley’s too. She felt the undeserved guilt coursing through her body. Finally her frustration just overwhelmed her.

“I am not your mother. I’m Cordelia. Say it.”

He looked frightened and kept quiet.

“Say it.”

“You’re Cordelia.”

“Angel is not your father. Angel is Connor’s father. Angel is our co-worker; he’s a vampire. Tell me who Angel is.”

“Ang-, Angel is a vampire. Angel is Connor’s father. Angel loves you.”

He was just mimicking what she said. “Angel loves us all like family. We’re family Wes, but not like you’re seeing it today.”

“No, he loves you. He thought that you would be happy with the other man, so he let you go.”

God, no. He can’t be right. All those feelings she had about Angel, he didn’t share them. He was the dark knight who would always be in love with Buffy, and he never looked at Cordelia. Everything that happened in the ballet was because they were possessed. Yeah, it had been fulfilling some of her fantasies, but it couldn’t have meant any thing to him. All those looks she had gotten in the last few weeks and every time he leaned a little too close in weapons training, everything she had written off. And God, Wesley always saw more than anyone. What about Groo? Oh, God. Focus! Wesley, need to work with Wesley.

“This is a lot to deal with, Wesley. I promise that I will talk to Angel about this, and I’m not going away anymore. Okay?” He nodded. “It would help if you tried to remember what happened without thinking about how scared you were. It would help if you remembered who everyone is. Can we try one more time? Who brought you home form the hospital?”

“Fred and Gunn.”

“What can you tell me about Fred and Gunn?”

“Fred is a physicist who we rescued from Pylea, the demon dimension that Lorne came from. Lorne is a demon.”

“Yes and Gunn?”

“Gunn is a street fighter from Los Angeles. He’s angry with me, very mad at me because… and I threatened to fire him if he ever put anyone in danger. I didn’t trust him. No, that’s a lie. Fred chose him over me and a part of me hated him for it. I went to Holtz to try and stop him from hurting us all. I put everyone in danger.”

He was loosing it. Her hands became like iron as she held onto him as he tried to bolt.

“Wesley, you made a mistake, a big one. It’s going to take time to deal with that, and it’s going to take time for Gunn to forgive you. None of that is going to happen until you remember where you are. So let that go for a minute and tell me about Angel.”

Looking everywhere but at her, he continued to struggle. After a minute or so he realized he was trapped and calmed down. Cordelia was relieved because she knew that he was a lot stronger than she was. He could have broken away if he really tried.

“Angel is a vampire with a soul, but he is a good man and our friend,” a short humorless laugh, “He fired us once, but we forgave him because we couldn’t be without him. We’re helping him fulfill the prophecies of Aberjian so he can become human again,” He started to shake violently and there was a quaver in his voice. “And I took his son. I wanted to protect Connor from the prophecy, from his father.” His eyes became wide and his voice began to shake, “Now Connor’s gone and it’s all my fault.”

She flew back into the couch as he pushed her away. As she struggled to get up, he had bolted for the bedroom, and she could hear the closet door slamming. Fuck! She had pushed him too hard.

Pacing in front of the couch she tried to figure out what to do next. What was she going to do if she could not get through to him? Take him back to the hotel so he could be terrorized by Angel’s presence? Perhaps send him home with Gunn who was already thinking about killing him? How about packing him off to England to the waiting arms of the fucking bastard and uncaring bitch that were the reason he was sitting in the closet?

Life just sucks again, Cordelia, get over it. It had been her mantra since monsters started falling into her life in Sunnydale. She might be the only person standing on the face of the earth right now that gave a shit about Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. He was her family and damn-it she wasn’t going to give up without a fight. She took a couple of deep breaths just like Angel had taught her when he was showing her how to use a sword. It calmed her down and calm was very much in order right now.

She went to the closed door and slowly opened it. He was sitting on the floor just like she had found him there before. Sitting on the floor next to him, she wormed her arm between his chest and his knees and reached around with her other arm to hug him. Stiff and unresponsive at first, he began to open up and hug her back. No more tears she noted. Does that mean that he’s completely shut down or was it the return of some of that resolve with which he had endured Faith’s torture. They just rocked together like that for a long time.

“Wes, do you know who I am?” her voice was soft.

“You’re Cordelia, the most beautiful girl from Sunnydale High. You’re the only one who talked to me or even liked me. We fight quite a bit, but I only fight because I need to be near you. You’re my family, you take care of all of us; you take care of me. Don’t go away; please I need you.

How many times had he cradled her head and fed her painkillers? It was him that brought her take-out when she couldn’t walk a straight line because of the visions. He pulled her and Gunn together when Angel abandoned them. It was killing her to see him like this, so dependant on her.

“I’m not going anywhere Wesley. We all need each other. We are all family. Sometimes we hurt each other and do things we shouldn’t but we always stick together and never stop loving each other. I promise you; we’re going to send the demons away. Do you want to do that uninvite spell?”

They were quiet for a few minutes and then he began to nod. She pulled back a little and looked into his face, stroking his cheek. “Come on, we’re not the kind of people who sit around and wait for things to fix themselves. He nodded and allowed her to once again pull him out of the closet.

It only took them 20 minutes to hang the garlic and crosses at the windows and front door. She carried a burning sage bundle as he finished intoning the Latin of the spell, “"… his verbes, consenus rescissus est."

Willow had once told her a lifetime ago that it meant, ‘By these words, consent repealed.’ “Wesley, is it done?”

“Yes, vampires cannot enter here any longer.”

“OK good, one less thing to worry about; now there’s a safe place to keep you from Angel.” She snuffed out the sage into the abalone shell that she had carried to catch the ash and placed them both on the table.


She turned back to look at him, “What, Wes-.” She stopped short because there was a look of recognition in his eyes. “Wesley?”

He dropped the parchment the spell was written on and put both hands on the back of the couch. His face was a mask of confusion and pain. His head snapped around to stare at her. “You’re here. You’re really here. All this happened, didn’t it? I should go to Angel. He should kill me.”

It was too much. Delusional Wesley or suicidal Wesley. Brooding Angel or murdering Angel. Whatever happened to, ‘We have a problem, let’s work together to solve it - Go Team!’

“The fucking hell you are! I have just dragged you kicking and screaming back to reality, if that’s where you are right now. You are not going to give into some half-cocked noble whim! Dying is easy Wes, we should know, facing death is what we do all the time. It’s about time we all decided to live.”

He stared at her. Calm, Cordelia, calm she told herself. She walked over to him and pulled him into her arms, her words whispered into his chest. “We’re family, Wes. You, me, Angel, Fred, Gunn, hell even Lorne and especially Connor. We take care of each other, sometimes we’re stupid and ignore each other, let someone wander off. We live in the dark, so when one of us wanders off, it’s not to the beach for a vacation. Maybe forgiving takes a long time with us, but we get there eventually.”

“But we’re missing family right now. Connor is gone. You’re the only one who can make sense of the books and find the way into whatever dimension Holtz has taken him. Frankly Wes, if nothing else, you owe that baby.”

After a few moments he responded, “You’re right. Where did the demon say he opened a portal to?”

She gave a short laugh against his chest and pushed away. “Maybe we could get a couple of hours of sleep first, OK? There isn’t any food here and I’m not letting you out of my sight. Let’s go pack a bag for you, and you’ll come over and sleep on my couch.” In her mind she added a thought about Dennis keeping an eye on him while she slept.

He just nodded and turned to lead her into the bedroom. He stopped inside and stared at the open closet door. “Cordelia,” his voice was angry, “We uninvited the wrong demon.” He stormed past her into the living room and began pulling draws from the desk rummaging around, looking for something.

She started looking around for a weapon that she could knock him out with. He clutched a small piece of paper and grabbed the hammer and nails from the table. He pushed past her back into the bedroom and she followed.

He slammed the closet door and started nailing the paper, no a photograph on the door. It was the picture Lorne had taken of them the night they went to the ballet. They were all dressed up in their finest and Angel was holding Connor. Wesley dropped the hammer. Stepping back with an angry scowl on his face, he began speaking in very clear English:

“In the name of all that is holy,
In the name of all that is righteous,
I cast out the demons stalk the night,”

He paused a minute breaking the flow of the ritual words.

“And… and the demons who aren’t really your family,
And the demons that haunt the thoughts of children,
The demons that deny their children love,
I cast out the demons of the closet,
May they never enter here again.
By these words, consent repealed,
By these words, consent repealed,

No crosses or garlic. No sacred herbs or Latin. He was shaking from the effort and turned to look at her. For the first time in two days, she let a glimmer of a smile touch her mouth as she nodded approvingly at him. “Consent repealed. It’s going to be all right Wes. I don’t know how, but it’s going to be all right.”


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