Desperate Passages Series
Part 1 ~ "Unclean"
by Just Human

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Rating: PG-13 (Wesley/others, implied)
Summary: Wesley's perspective from "Sleep Tight" to "Tomorrow"
Improv: Improv #43 beam, color, dead, fairy Disclaimer: Joss is my sadistic god; I am but a cowering sub that claims to write and owns nothing.
Spoilers: Everything through "Tomorrow"
Author's Coments: Thanks to Kath and Meribeth for betaing. Part 1 did not have the benefit of Kath's expert beta because I was an idiot and didn't track her down. She did the work though, and when I find some times, I'll modify this archived version.


Nude sunbathing was illegal in Los Angeles County. While it wasn't legal, it was somewhat condoned on certain remote stretches of beaches in certain state parks, in certain counties. After two showers at home had not left him feeling remotely clean, Wesley was pulling on his leathers and flying north up the coast on his bike to one such location.

It was still a couple of hours before dawn when he stopped and made his way along the narrow trail to the beach. Sometime past midnight, the sky had clouded over and the wind had picked up. Deep violets and midnight blues mixed with the shadowy blacks of the clouds, which were playing hide and seek with the stars. The paler colors in one section of sky gave away the hiding place of the moon. It was a cool night made colder by the wind, definitely not beach weather. Prudently, he carried a flashlight but chose not to use it. He couldn't bear the idea of beams of artificial light destroying the darkness. Darkness was all that his life was about now.

A gust of wind whipped through his hair as he sat down on a boulder where he could watch the waves crash and avoid having the leather splashed. How the hell had he gotten here? He took a deep breath and tried to clear his mind like he had been taught in his training.

Wesley looked at Angel. He was often confused when he looked at Angel, too many conflicting roles friend, warrior, man, father, vampire, reformed villain, but not tonight. There was clarity in what Wesley saw tonight. It was too much. How could he ever be convinced that this man could harm his child? Weeks of tension, days of sleeplessness finally just spilled out of him and he started to laugh.

"What's so funny?" Angel asked as he continued to make the baby's bottle.

"Life. Life is funny. Listening to stupid people and talking hamburgers is funny. Worrying over things that will never…" No, mustn't say it, it's not real - only the deluded nightmares of a man who spends too much time with books. "It's just incredibly funny... and beautiful."

Earthquake, the first portent. The stove falls over sending jets of burning gas into the room. Fire there is fire spreading everywhere. No, it can't be happening. This is not happening, will not believe it is happening. Suddenly a hand grabs him and sends him flying out of the burning room into the hallway.

Deep in denial, he didn't hear Angel speaking. He could only see the wounded vampire dripping blood over the innocent. Crimson stained the baby blue blanket with the pattern of clouds. "Blood in the sky." Did he say that out loud?

"'Least I woulda had somethin' to snack on." Wesley's blood turned to ice, and he could only stare. "Wes, are you alright, you look like you're in shock. Here, take the baby and go downstairs. I'll take care of the fire and the gas line." Wesley took the offered hand and slid up the wall. Carefully he wrapped his arms around the crying infant, blood stained blanket and all.

Conflicting emotions raced through his body as he moved on autopilot down the stairs into the lobby. Some instinctual portion of his mind was cooing at the baby and walking toward the small refrigerator. Bottle, microwave, 18 seconds. There was no real sense of the passage of time as he finally sat on the poof in the center of the lobby and quieted the baby with the warm formula.

"Did you burp him?" Angel's voice pulled him out of his reverie. He looked down and saw that Connor had fallen asleep halfway through the bottle.

"No…I wasn't thinking." He set the bottle aside and gently moved the sleeping infant to his shoulder and began to rub his back. Angel watched with a contented smile as he used a rag to wipe away the blood and soot from his face.

"Fire's out and the gas line's shut down. I don't want to call the fire department. Too many strangers running around this place is a bad idea." Wesley nodded and a small burp broke the silence. "There's my guy," smiled Angel. "Here, let me put him down." Taking the baby from Wesley's arms, Angel laid his son in the bassinette with a care and tenderness that belayed his size and the portents and prophecies running through Wesley's mind.

"Wes, are you alright. The explosion, it threw you and I wasn't really gentle gettin' you out of the room." Large hands moved over Wesley's head checking for bumps. Wesley's blue eyes stared straight into Angel's brown ones. Angel stopped his inspection when he registered the concern in Wesley's eyes.

"I confirmed a portion of the prophecy tonight. It says that the vampire will devour his child; the father will kill the son."

The wind blew sand into his eyes as the crashing of the waves filled his ears. That evening after the fire seemed like a lifetime ago. Ignoring the cold, he began pulling off his boots and peeling the leather off.

There had been no sleep for either of them that night. Immediate denials and incredulous disbelief filled the first hour. Concern over the possible existence of secret cameras and microphones caused them to move back up stairs to the burnt out room with all of Wesley's journals. Angel's angry outcry when Wesley told him about his reconnaissance at Holtz's lair nearly woke the baby. By the end of the night, neither of them believed that Angel would ever hurt Connor, but they both found his recent behavior disturbing. That was when they hatched the plan.

It was much too complicated for two men who were exhausted, but it was simply amazing the lengths that desperation could bring one. They agreed that there were two primary enemies to worry about, Holtz and Wolfram & Hart. It was obvious that Holtz had formed a small army and was preparing to attack. Since he risked sending in his own spy, Aubery, an attack was probably close at hand. Neither of them believed that Holtz had Connor's best interests at heart, but Wesley could use that tact to ply them for more details.

The idea of Wesley, who could not convincingly lie about … well anything, being a double agent was ludicrous. That was what they hoped would make it work. Anyone who had been paying attention to the inner workings of Angel Investigations would understand that Wesley's loyalty to Angel and his co-workers could not be subverted. That is, unless there was something more important to be loyal to such as the baby.

They agreed that Wesley was responsible for taking Connor out of harms way from either the enemy or his father, if need be. They thought the electronic surveillance was over, but they could never be sure. The only safe place was the burnt out room and possibly Cordelia's apartment. Dennis would know if anyone had been near the place. The rest of the hotel and Wesley's apartment were to be considered off limits for conversations that needed to be private.

Tomorrow, they would begin to lay the groundwork. One evening, Wesley would use some pretense to take the baby home for the night, and they would disappear with whatever research materials he could carry. Anything he couldn't take would be destroyed. Eventually, when the immediate danger of Holtz was neutralized, Wesley would bring the baby back, and then the most daring part of the plan would start. Wesley would become an outcast and set himself up as a target for Wolfram & Hart.

Wolfram & Hart knew the most about the prophecy and the two men were desperate for the information. Last year's minor successes in breaking in and stealing what they required were things of the past. The only avenue to what they needed was from the inside. Other parts of the prophecy that Wesley had translated made little sense and it would take too long to wait for a more coherent translation.

As morning approached, they had agreed to move forward with the plan. They both had changed sides a dozen times through the evening. Isolating Wesley and leaving him at the mercy of evil lawyers was inconceivable at different moments to each of them. It was up to Wesley to make the first move, but either of them could stop it at any moment.

Needle pricks ran up the back of his legs as the sand scoured his exposed skin. The cold, the pain, he didn't mind either of them. They were both feeling and sensation. Anything that would erase the numbness that had spread through his mind and spirit in the last few weeks was welcome.

So easy to start the process, "I've been thinking I should take him... to the park or the beach, just the two of us. Maybe there'll be some time in the next day or two..."

And Angel gave his ascent, "Sounds great, count on it." They gave their performance for cameras and microphones that may or may not have been there.

It became apparent that Holtz was moving immediately. No time to consult further. The plan had to go on and that's when the first hitch happened. He stumbled in front of Lorne. No one else was supposed to know in order to protect the plan. They were in the lobby where they could be observed. God! He had attacked Lorne and he couldn't even tell Angel a few minutes later when everyone returned.

"We talked about me taking him to the park and the one across the street from my place is... it's always full of kids. I thought he could spend the night with me." He had held his breath hoping that Angel would have come up with a better plan.

"That's probably a really good idea." He hadn't. The plan was on.

Over the next few minutes, Wesley wondered if Angel was changing his mind, checking on formula and the locations of hospitals. Angel let him know about Sahjhan, a new enemy. They shared a look, they shared their concern, they shared their determination and then he and Connor were gone.

As he pulled off his tee shirt, he ran a finger along the scar on his throat. The keepsake he would wear for the rest of his life to remind him of the arrogance of their plan. That night, the cold and numbness had crept through his whole body.

At first it had been shock and than it was followed by desperation. The baby, how could he have lost the baby? A part of him desperately wanted to live and another part desperately wanted to die. For better or for worse, he lived.

"I just... I want you to know I understand why you did it. I know about the prophecies and I know how hard it must have been for you what you did." Wesley remained motionless as he took in Angel's words. The plan was still on. The others must have found out about the prophecy somehow.

"You thought I was going to turn evil and kill my son. I didn't turn into Angelus. It's important to me that you know that. This isn't Angelus talking to you, it's me, Angel. You know that, right?"
Of course it was Angel. Play along; you have to play along.
"Good, That's good."

Breathe! He couldn't breathe; the panic was setting in. Angel was killing him. He deserved it. How could he have been so stupid to let his guard down?

"You took my son. YOU TOOK MY SON! I'll never forgive you, never... I'LL KILL YOU!!"

Then it was over. It took a little while to realize that if Angel had wanted him dead, he wouldn't have bothered with something so inefficient as suffocation by pillow. He'd have been dead with a broken neck. But the hatred in his voice that wasn't an act, and Wesley would hear this failure echoing in his brain forever.

That was just the beginning. Fred reviled him but in the process, she had provided him with a necessary piece of information. The fucking prophecy had been a fake. Now the other pieces were making more sense. 'The father will rend time and space to find the child.' 'The child is lost but the man shall emerge in weeks to come.' Neither of these made sense if Connor was dead.

Facing Gunn had been harder. He had been condemned so completely by his friends. How could he blame them? He turned away from Gunn because he was terrified that he would tell the truth. He let the anger and loneliness pour out of him instead. A little shame crept through him now, because part of him meant every word he said to his 'best friend'. But he couldn't let Fred die, and he prayed to God that she was all right. He was pretty sure that he would have heard if she had died.

Desiccating slugs. He said a little prayer that the brine of the sea would desiccate the toxins from his body as he plunged into the cold water. He tasted salt in his mouth and on his skin. He didn't know what was worse, standing in the cold water or having his wet body shiver in the wind. It didn't matter, it was all feeling and sensation, he needed to wash away the numbness and scrub away the dirty feeling coursing through his body.

Finally, it had all started paying off. Lilah was at his door taunting him and gloating over his fall. Likening him to Judas, to the betrayer. Well, it was the image he and Angel had been trying to project. He was worried that this was her sole purpose. Maybe if he had been Angel, it would have been. But no, he was only Wesley and she wouldn't have bothered with him without another purpose in mind. She said it as she was leaving, "You're not too good to work for us."

The pretenses were more important now. He couldn't call her and beg for a job. That would have been too suspicious. He and Angel had talked about it. No, one must play hard to get with Lilah. It makes her think she was getting a bigger prize. He waited and then she invited him to the club.

She had gone out of her way to have Justine killed for him. Apparently this was evil's version of a dozen red roses. But then she floored him as he started walking away. Would he tell Justine? His mind spun with indecision. Would he allow this plan to hurt other people? Could he be responsible for her death? A month ago, there would have never been a question.

Angel and Connor's arrival had saved him from making a decision. Connor, it was so obvious to him. '...the man shall emerge.' There were so many more pieces falling into place now and they were coming too soon. He thought he had nearly 20 years of waiting for Connor to grow up for the later parts of the prophecy. It was more important to get into Wolfram & Hart now.

He had gone to the pub around the corner from his apartment. No point in making Lilah work too hard. He only had one shot and a beer for effect. The other empties had been snagged from nearby tables. It was still too early to say yes to her, but he needed to keep her interested. Playing the role with Lilah was easier than he thought. He didn't have to pretend to like her. No, on the contrary she preferred to be treated like the wicked witch instead of a fairy princess. An image of Lilah in miles of fluffy pink chiffon waving a glittery star topped wand sprung to mind. He swallowed a mouthful of seawater because he was laughing so hard.

Choking, sputtering and chuckling, he made his way back onto the beach and collapsed on the cold sand and watched the surf erase his footprints from the world. The laughter hadn't stopped the fear from creeping back in. The other part he hadn't counted on was his reaction to all this. The bitterness towards Fred and Gunn had not been part of the plan. He wasn't completely convinced that Angel would ever forgive him for failing to protect baby Connor. He was terrified of what Cordelia was thinking of all this. She was his oldest friend here and the most judgmental. Angel was supposed to let her in on the plan. He could only hope that she didn't come to him because she was afraid of blowing his cover. In truth though, he feared that she would shun him for the rest of his life.

Alone was a terrifying thing for him. It has always been that way. His father had locked him in the closet to teach him to be alone to be self-reliant. It had never worked. Now Lilah was exploiting that weakness. The mere sight of her caused all of the hatred for her, his father, bullies at school to fill every cell of his being. All that hated bred a violence in him that he didn't know existed. Grabbing her by the throat and having sex - no, fucking her - had been the same thing to him. The fact that she had found pleasure in the experience was purely accidental.

He balled up his fists and hit the sand. How was he going to ever get through this! He couldn't even lie to himself. There was something dangerous about crawling into bed with Lilah that made it a little more exciting and a great deal hotter than bringing some nice girl or boy home.

Was that what was scaring him, that in the unlikely event he ever found the opportunity to be with Fred or Gunn or heaven forbid, the untouchable effigy that was Angel, that it wouldn't measure up to the energy and raw emotion from being in bed with the enemy. God, there's the bitterness again. He had stopped being completely besotted with Angel when the firing happened. The vampire had moved into the dreamy fantasies where most people file away movie stars. He couldn't decide who he had the bigger crush on, Gunn or Fred. Then in all the universe's great irony, they completely ignored him for each other.

Was he so afraid of being alone that he had to fantasize about everyone around him? And then when the friends were gone, he had to turn to the enemy for that aching need. God help him, the feeling of control he had when he shoved her into the mattress. When he had her panting on the edge, practically begging and then he gave her what she wanted, sending her over the edge, he was suddenly drowning in a sea or raw power. Hatred, for her, for himself all mixed with a desire that was too bloody intoxicating. It made him wonder exactly how far apart love and hate really were. It wasn't like she didn't have any experience either. She played him like a violin. Biting, moaning, scratching at just the right times and in all the sensitive places. There was a part of him that enjoyed every fucking moment and wanted more.

Soiled in body, mind and soul, he had come to the sea like all Englishmen eventually do. Begging its harsh baptism that would forgive all sins. Desperate thoughts of home filled him - not England - never again England. Home was the people who now hated him, his real family. He would not fail them no matter what it took. Naked and shivering on the sand, he wondered what would be left of him when he could finally go home? What had Lilah said, "Your former boss has a soul and you're losing yours." Yes, it was very easy to play the role with Lilah; there was so much truth in it.

~End Part 1~

Onto Part 2 ~ "Cinnamon"

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