"Ties that Bind"
by Just Human
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Rating: R ( Violence, implied m/m slash)
Summary: Angel visits Wesley in the hospital 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 #38 collect - balm - touched – find
Author's Coments: This fic was written in the 5 week hiatus while we waited for "Forgiving." It was also my first fic which I posted before I knew what a beta reader was. Thanks to Kath who picked out a few of the obvious mistakes - but by no means told me everything she thought of it. She's a much better beta than that!
"Ties that Bind"
The nurse hummed quietly as she moved efficiently around the darkened hospital room. She may or may not have noticed that her movements had awoken Wesley, not that his sleep had been remotely restful. When exhaustion overtook his despair, his sleep was full of nightmares; knives diving at his face, images of Holtz and his minions, and worst of all, the plaintive call of an infant that he could not answer. In his half-sleep state, he remembered Fred’s voice telling him that Angel had finally returned to the hotel. Holtz had escaped with Connor through a portal to Quortoth, “darkest of the dark worlds.” Wesley found that hard to believe because he knew that his soul had become the darkest place in the universe and Connor was not there.
There was the sound of the door closing as the nursed departed. Without warning, the chair beside the bed was filled with Angel. Wesley had never seen such a profound emptiness in anyone’s eyes. He briefly wondered if that were the look he would find if a mirror was handy.
“You’re awake now aren’t you, Wesley?” Wesley managed a small nod despite the cervical collar. “Good, we need to talk. I’ve been waiting a while. Fred said that they had given you a sedative to keep you from thrashing. She said that you were pulling at your stitches. Were you trying to finish the job?” Another small nod with closed eyes. “Why didn’t you finish?”
Wesley looked up into Angel’s face and rasped out, “No right. Your privilege.” He paused obviously struggling with the pain of his injury now being aggravated by talking. “My life, a poor offering.”
“I knew we would understand each other,” the dark eyed man nodded. “We’re family Wes; you, me, Cordelia. Gunn and Fred are getting close but they are not connected like the three of us are. You and Cordelia understand the darkness.
Somehow I thought it would be different with you two, that my human family would be different than my vampire one. If Spike had taken Connor, it would have been for something completely evil just to get to me. I get that you took Connor to protect him from me. Lorne found the translation on your desk, ‘the father will kill the son’ and me acting like a strung out addict for the last few days. You don’t know, do you? Lilah put Connor’s blood in my supply. That bitch made my son smell like food to me. We figured it out yesterday afternoon.”
It was like a knife in his heart and Wesley could feel the horror and anguish rising in him. When choked sobs began to rise from his chest, Angel laid a reassuring hand on his cheek. The gentleness and calming that the hand imparted to Wesley was in obvious contradiction to the anger and sadness now apparent in Angel’s eyes.
“I know Wes, you did it out of love. The darkness drives us to paranoia. In the end, we still eventually stab one another in the back. That’s what I did to you and Cordy when I fired you. I understand the pain of that abandonment now,” he gave a humorless snort. Isn’t it strange? Spike has deliberately tried to kill me countless times and it doesn’t come close to the agony you’ve caused by trying to love me.” With a tenderness he would have used with the baby, he brushed away the tears falling from Wesley’s cheek. Soon his hand was replace by his cool lips kissing away the salt from the corners of the blue eyes.
Wesley remained perfectly still. His breath was coming in short gasps. His mind refused to focus on the myriad of emotions coursing through his body: fear, grief, confusion, and his desire for the man hovering above him. Angel pulled away a little so that he was looking into Wesley’s eyes; his voice was so quiet that Wesley strained to hear it despite the closeness.
“I’m not ready to forgive you. I may never forgive you, but I won’t stop loving you either. We’re family. Family is bound together and that’s about to become more apparent.” The volume did not change, but harshness crept into his voice. “You owe me Wesley. Your reasons for doing it don’t matter. He’s gone and that’s all that counts. I plan to collect every tear I can’t shed from your hide.”
Fear was taking a greater hold in Wesley, and he began to beg. “God, please don’t turn me. Kill me, torture me, don’t turn me.”
Angel’s mouth was next to Wesley’s ear. He could hear a low rumble and the sounds of Angel sniffing. “Oh no, Wes, I wouldn’t turn you. No, I want your warmth.” He gave a short laugh, “But you know, you would make a good vampire, just like all good watchers. You’re already trained to fight, smart, careful, paranoid, and yeah, the most important feature - you don’t trust your friends.”
Angel pulled back once again and looked pleased with what Wesley assumed must be the guilty look on his own face. “Cordy and Gunn will make you answer for that, so, I won’t berate you. I was the one that shouldn’t have been trusted. I’m the one you should have been staking. I was counting on you Wes, not to let me fall again. Tell be why you didn’t do it Wes.”
The vampire was breathing for no apparent reason. His face was so close to Wesley’s that every breath the human took was filled with the scent of Angel. “I couldn’t.”
“Why not? Tell me.”
“I,” Wesley couldn’t admit it and just decided to sink into the dark eyes pinning him place.
The voice that responded was still barely audible but edged with steel. “I need to hear you say it Wesley, and I’m not going anywhere. Tell me.”
Wesley was drowning in a sea of brown. Wasn’t this one of the warnings from his watcher’s training? Don’t look to deeply into their eyes. You’ll become enthralled and won’t be able to resist. Wesley didn’t want to resist. He hadn’t in over a year.
His brain flooded with memories of clandestine meetings over the pretense of research or chess. Bodies entangled, thrusting into each other. It was an occasional need for both of them, by no means a desperate love affair. There was never a jealous moment over other partners and only encouragements for new lovers on the horizon. But in the end, no matter who else entered their lives what they had was something they could always return to. “Love you too much. Had to find another way.”
“I love it when you’re noble. I love you. I just wish you weren’t so stupid about it. As much as I want tohear you groan in ecstasy right now, I want to hear you scream in pain. But this isn’t the place for either of those and I need you healthier than this. Who else is going to translate the prophecy? Who else can find the door to that dimension so I can hunt down Holtz and get my son back?” With the increasing anger in Angel’s voice, the fingers that touched Wesley’s check began to dig. An involuntary gasp escaped Wesley and Angel paused to regain his composure.
“How much blood did they give you? You don’t even smell like you. And this,” he said sitting back on the edge of the bed fingering the collar. “I need to see it.” Deft hands pulled the Velcro closures and slid off the hard collar. With exaggerated care, fingers lifted the bandage revealing a neat line of tiny stitches across Wesley’s throat. Anger began to touch the brown eyes again as Angel questioned, “How many more reasons do I need to kill that bastard. He marked you. He marked what’s mine.”
Wesley was trembling as the bandage was carefully replaced and the collar refastened. Those same gentle fingers traced Wesley’s arm to the IV connection. “No one is ever going to make that mistake again. No one is going to miss my mark. Neck wound is too fresh, the nurses will notice the arm,” Their eyes were locked and Wesley was breathing faster and faster as he watched Angels visage change. The blankets were being pulled back.
All of Wesley’s resolve to submit to Angel’s punishments was fleeing him, and he tried to back away further into the mattress. The vampire was having none of that and soon both of Wesley’s wrists were trapped in one overpoweringly strong hand. The other hand pushed aside the bottom edge of the hospital gown revealing a thigh.
Wesley closed his eyes and fought the fear. In all their time together, his sometimes lover had never bit him to take blood. It was a binding act that Wesley was not prepared for. Over the last few days planning the kidnapping, he had also imagined Angel’s response. In his mind’s eye he had seen violent torture and countless painful deaths. Everything that he had envisioned drove the two of them further and further apart.
Wesley had read the diaries and knew the horrors that the demon Angelus had perpetrated. He also knew that the soul that made Angelus into Angel was capable of letting the demon have free reign. The forging of such an intimate bond promised not a quick death, but a lifetime of suffering. It was nothing less than he deserved. He was responsible for the loss of Connor. Angel would need his research ability to hunt for his son. The blood binding was only appropriate, tying Wesley to the outcome of the search for the missing baby and tying him to Angel’s misery and hatred.
Wesley suddenly became calm as he felt himself surrendering to the inevitable. He bent his leg and turned it deliberately so the artery that ran there was more accessible. During the time that Wesley was accepting his fate, the vampire had remained still. Wesley felt a cool kiss on his fingers as his wrists were released.
Hands firmly held the offered leg as cool breath ticked the fine hairs. *Pain *. A sudden gasp was ripped out of Wesley’s chest sending knives lancing through his wounded throat. After a moment or two, the pain was replaced by relief, need, desire. His fingers moved of their own accord tangling in Angel’s hair pressing him closer, willing him to take everything. He briefly wondered if the vampire would change his mind and kill him. Wesley didn’t care.
The exquisite mixture of pain and pleasure was overwhelming. He could feel his life sliding out of his veins and he could also feel that stolen vitality pulsing through Angel. He had a sudden understanding of those passages in the diaries describing how victim after victim had placidly submitted to the deadly embrace. Wesley gave a short cry of protest as Angel suddenly pulled away and began licking the small puncture wounds until they stopped bleeding.
Wesley had ceased thinking and was desperately hanging onto the feeling that had filled his body moments before. He vaguely felt an insistent hand untangle his fingers from Angel’s hair. That same hand held his and stroked a thumb across his palm. Wesley finally looked up into Angel’s face. He didn’t understand all the emotions in the dark brown eyes, but he could see desire among them. That was enough for Wesley and he took hold of that hand stoking his palm and pulled it toward the collar at his throat. Angel's grip was unbreakable when he stopped the motion Wesley’s hand.
“No, you have to heal before I go there. Believe me Wesley; I’m going to mark every millimeter of that scar. There won’t be an inch of your flesh that won’t bear my mark. I’m going to erase every other claim but my own.” Looking into Wesley’s eyes, Angel opened a gash in his wrist with a small movement across a fang. He brought the bleeding wrist toward towards Wesley’s face. Wesley watched the ruby drops welling up. He looked between the wrist and the ridged face in front of him.
The vampire lore he had been taught said he was now a human pet. The offering in front of him changed that status to mate, although, that distinction was only among vampires. He was still human. Whatever uncertainty he had in the exact nature and name of the relationship, it was obvious that the man in front of him would own him body and soul. It still was not a fair trade for losing Connor. Wesley pulled the wrist to his mouth and tasted the metallic tang. He watched the face in front of him shift back to the human face he loved as he accepted his enslavement.
“It’s done now, Wesley. There’s no running away, there’s no more suicide attempts. I own you. I decide if you live or die. That blankness had returned to Angel’s eyes and the wrist at his lips moved with preternatural speed. The hand was clamped over his mouth and nose preventing him from breathing. He couldn’t stop himself from struggling as the hand forced his head deeper into the pillow. The other hand tore viciously at the new bite mark on his thigh. He pulled desperately at the hand across his face. The edges of his vision were becoming darker and all Wesley could see was those eyes boring into him.
The nurse was back. She was humming her tune as she opened the blinds to let in the morning light. Wesley recognized part of the song; he had heard it at a funeral for one of Gunn’s friends.
There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sinsick soul.
But Wesley knew that was like all fairy tales with happy endings. No balm could cure the wound he inflicted on Angel. No spell or potion would bring forgiveness to Wesley’s soul.
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