demonologist: (Default)
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce ([personal profile] demonologist) wrote2012-07-28 07:31 pm

Why We're Here - For Fortune Cookie Verse

It was beyond midnight now. The majority of the firm's workers had gone home and the offices were dark and emptied out for the most part. A quietness had settled upon the place which was oddly comforting considering the frenzied drama of earlier in the evening. Gunn had gone home almost immediately, but others had lingered. Wesley had retreated to his own office, ostensibly to work on the spell detailing he'd been planning to do. But in truth, he was shaken.

Sam Lawson had invaded their workspace. Terrorised them. And they'd nearly been killed before Angel had managed to defeat him. But that wasn't what had shaken Wes. No, what was worse was that the vampire had terrorised Fred and she had nearly been killed. It was bad enough that Gunn had also been in danger, but the image of Fred balanced precariously on her desk chair, her eyes wide with fright...he couldn't seem to get it out of his mind.

He'd taken a break to clear his head, making some hot, honey sweetened tea for his sore throat. Then without even thinking about it, he'd made a second cup and gone to check on Fred. Somehow he'd known in his gut that she hadn't left yet, either.
fredless: (In the dark by ???)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-07-28 08:25 am (UTC)(link)
She sat in the dark, gaze never settling on any point in particular as it drifted across her lab. From her perch in the office Fred could see close to the whole of it, all dressed and draped in shadows. At one point her eyes flickered just above the place where Lawson had initially confronted her, and Fred's fingers caught tight on the underside of her desk as her hands gripped at the flat surface. She could feel how bits of wood filled in the spaces underneath her nails.

She'd been the first person he'd picked, clearly measured and judged to be the weakest. But for once, that didn't threaten to unravel her the way it might once have. No, that privileged was reserved for the memory of her friends' lives being threatened one after the other. Of watching Wesley being brought into the room. Angel battling Lawson with a hastily fashioned stake.

Fred swallowed hard, and her throat protested. Abused, frayed muscles fired. Maybe it was finally time to think about going home. She was just about to claim her keys when the lab door pushed open.
fredless: (Older and soft by noelia_g)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-07-28 08:54 am (UTC)(link)
It took her a moment to fully recognize Wesley, pulling herself back into the present. Realizing that his hands were full she stood, if only to make certain he didn't need any help in the final steps up into her office.

"...we all are, despite certain efforts to the contrary."

It was a flash of darker humor, one Fred rarely let herself entertain. Up until that moment she'd been certain she would be the last one out, at least when it came into the parking garage. And looking at Wesley just reinforced the reasons why. Here, at work, she could delay the inevitable. Home and the silence of her apartment meant finally, fully processing what'd happened to them that night. Just how much worse it might have been.
fredless: (Action : Intent gaze)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-02 09:02 am (UTC)(link)
Fred leaned back into her desk, both hands wrapped tight around the circumference of the mug when she wasn't drinking from it. It sip was longer and more deliberate than before, often concluding with Fred leveling her gaze onto Wesley over the ceramic edges.

She didn't question him being here. It was one of the few things she didn't question lately, since her own realizations that felt like they'd turned just about everything end-over-end. But Wesley's presence? Well, Fred could admit to herself that she'd come to count on it. More than ever in the past few weeks.

"'s good," she finally moved to answer his question, realizing she'd allowed the silence to stretch. "It hurts." Awareness followed, of how that sounded. "I mean, it's good that it hurts. I want it to."

It meant that she was here for it to hurt. There was a dozen ways she could have articulated that better, but Fred suspected she didn't need to.

"What about you?"

fredless: (What is going on)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-02 10:05 am (UTC)(link)
"No," Fred agreed quietly, twisting her mug again. Another sip of how tea followed. "It's still...I can still feel it." Feel it everywhere, actually. Every muscle ached up and down the length of her after the hours on tension and control needed to stay up on that chair. Wesley had to be the same. Silently, Fred looked down at her bare feet. She hadn't been able to bring herself to look for her shoes yet.

Somewhere along the way Lawson had tugged them off after their initial struggle. She'd fought him until the moment Fred felt the wire first slip around her neck, and then self-reservation had kicked in. Left alone on the chair, and desperate to distract herself from the thought of one of the others being hurt, she's spent no small amount of time calculating the amount of force needed before things turned deadly. And it always came back to one place.

Not much.

Dragging her attention back out of that place, Fred looked back at Wesley. The pressure in her chest eased slightly. "I'm glad too," Fred managed softly, degrees of speech now available to her again thanks to Wesley's tea. "That you're here. You know that, don't you?"

Almost recklessly, Fred held his gaze. Wondering what it was he saw. Maybe this was the last place sand time to be sorting how the finer points of how she felt, or if there was anything still lingering on Wesley's part. But she hadn't started breathing again -- not really -- until he'd found her in the lab. And that felt like something he should know.
fredless: (What is going on)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-04 04:24 am (UTC)(link)
Fred continued to watch Wesley as he looked away, her tired mind trying its best to translate what just transpired. Had he just not seen? Or was he somehow sending her a silent message of his own. It felt like the worst possible night to be navigating her way towards any kind of answer.

But when was there a good night? When was there last good night?

The only one Fred could think of that even came close was the first night Wesley stayed over to her place, and they'd stayed up late eating Chinese food. And talking. Honestly, she'd enjoyed that even more. But that night only happened because he'd nearly burned up along with his apartment.

She was so tired of everything coming in degrees.

Fred stiffened at Wesley's suggestion, and immediately regretted it. Her entirely body - from tip to tired toe - protested. And it was only going to be worse in the morning. But she continued to stare at him, not entirely certain she'd heard him correctly.

"You want me to what?"
Edited 2012-08-04 07:37 (UTC)
fredless: (Action : Intent gaze)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-04 10:05 am (UTC)(link)
"That's not..."

Fred waves one hand in her body's confused attempt to both search for a point and actually make it, all at once. She realized she was still holding her mug of tea and placed it on the desk with no small amount of force.

"Why me? Just because we spent a night suspended on desk chairs with..." And now she was dangerously close to glossing over things. But that felt easier, in the moment. Bearable. Because to stop and think, to really consider how she could've lost any of them? How she could have lost Wesley, right when --

"Is Charles going to be taking some time off too? Or maybe Angel? He could take a little trip to Ireland. Or maybe see Buffy again? Why don't we all just back up and leave?

Because they couldn't.

The stress of the evening was finally starting to show. Wesley, suddenly, was too close. She could feel the heat radiating off him from where he leaned against her desk, just inches away. Logically, Fred knew it wasn't a horrible suggestion. There was a lot of good in it. And she did miss her folks. But on the heels of an impossibly long month and certain new understandings on her part? Her reaction wasn't logical. It was emotional. She turned to face Wesley, feelings tumbling their way into words.

" don't want me here?"
fredless: (Arms crossed by noelia_g)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-04 10:40 am (UTC)(link)
Her expression softened, but just barely. Hurt tinged with anger was still all to visible on her features. And Fred could feel it. The way that she felt just about everything right now.

"...I'd still have to come back. At some point, I would have to. This is my life Wesley. I made my choice."

Her voice was deeper than usual, fractured and raw. Unfiltered emotion was creeping into the open spaces.

"And why just me? Why not you? You're the one that got firebombed. And say what you want we never cleared that up, once and for all. How do you think I'd feel, back in Texas? Being the one that ran away and left everyone behind. Wondering if everything's alright. If you're ok. If you are safe."

Finally, in case she hadn't made herself clear?

"I'm not going."
fredless: (Wesley : Forget This by midnightzstorm)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-04 11:24 am (UTC)(link)
His hands on her shoulders caused sensitive muscles to fire and protest, but not in a way Fred could object to. Much like the tea, it kept her there. Back in the office with Wesley. Kept her mind from considering a half dozen, far more unbearable what-ifs of how the evening might've played out. Wesley's touch might not've felt good, but it made her feel. And in that moment, it was everything.

"But I don't want to unmake it." The words were quiet. He was standing right in front of her, after all. "I meant it, what I said about making my choice. When I was in Pylea, I saw...just about every horrible thing one person can conceive doing to another, I saw it." Lived it. "I knew what I was getting into when I decided not to go back to Texas. My folks did too. And they still supported my decision. If it's possible I loved them even more for it than I already did. But I can't go back. It's not who I am anymore."

Fred drifted into silence, swallowing hard in a desperate attempt to ease the burning in her throat. It was too many words at once. One ramble too many. But quiet didn't mean still, and her gaze navigated its way downward by shallow degrees. Settled on the raw, jagged line that marred Wesley's throat. It reminded her of the things they still weren't saying. Some hurts you could shield yourself from, mentally protect your mind from whatever was being done to to your body. But Lawson's wire, wrapped so tightly against their necks, had made it an impossibility. Every single breath no matter how restrained had caused it to crush fresh marks against their skin. How all to easily any one of them -- Charles, Wesley -- could die.

"'s not that I'm not listening Wesley. I am. When you can do things, you should." Her eyes remained on his neck. The places where protesting skin actually faded into shallow cuts with traces of dried blood. It'd been so close. "Is that really what you can do? That's your choice. To ask me to leave?"
Edited 2012-08-04 16:30 (UTC)
fredless: (Wesley : Forget This by midnightzstorm)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-04 09:47 pm (UTC)(link)
He removed his hands, and Fred immediately felt adrift. For all that it hurt, she needed it. She needed him. Something she'd been trying to tell Wesley in countless ways since first realizing how she felt. Countless cowardly ways maybe, but they were still there. But why should things suddenly change just because she did? Wesley had made it perfectly clear how he felt before, and even before then she'd come to realize it. Her silence had been her answer. And wasn't that what his silence was now? An answer?

Fred swallowed again, ignoring the fire it stoked as she reached out with one hand to graze Wesley's elbow. To selfishly reestablish contact. With her eyes she asked him not to move.

"You're right," she admitted, all of the doubts collected in the past month carried in those two words. "We probably never should have come here. And logically I know it was a mistake. I knew it the minute we got into that limo. But..."

Fred's fingers curled, then relaxed. The last thing Wesley wanted or needed was her clinging. He was undoubtedly hurting too. But again there was the need to remind herself that he was real. That something deadly and far too final hadn't transpired in that office.

...because -- you're not real. Or I'm not real. Somebody here isn't real and I suspect it's you. So if you're not real, that means that my head came off back there and that I'm dead now. Dead. And with me being dead and you not being real I can hardly be expected to have some big conversation with you at the moment...

Some big conversation. Fred very nearly laughed. It was barely a bubble. The start of something before her body protested at the effort from the inside out and it became nothing more than a burst of choked, compressed air.

"...but I can't bring myself to regret it. Maybe this ship is sinking. But I don't feel like I'm drowning. Not anymore."
Edited 2012-08-06 07:12 (UTC)
fredless: (What is going on)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-15 05:16 am (UTC)(link)
Fred was grateful when Wesley finally looked back up, gaze reconnecting with her own. There was more than one way to retreat, a fact she'd learned with hard experience. And there were more than enough places to escape to inside your own head. She didn't want that for him, any more than she didn't want to be the one that drove him to there.

She tempered the sharper edge of his expression with a decisive tilt of her chin, mouth softening.

"That's just it, Wesley. Maybe this is it. Maybe we're right on the edge of where everything falls apart. Cordy..." She didn't finish. Some conversations were still too hard. The truth was even from her hospital bed, Cordy had somehow managed to make the world better. And Fred was still learning to adjust to a world without her in it. "So it goes down. The ship. Where's to say we have to go down with it?"

And yes, Fred suspected the answer might lie in their contracts. That Charles was right, they knew what they were getting into.

"If the ship sinks and there's nothing beneath our feet, it doesn't end there. You kick. You swim. You fight it..." It was only then that Fred realized she was still holding onto Wesley's elbow. Cheeks coloring briefly, she let her hand fall. "You hold onto what's good. And it keeps your head above water."
fredless: (Wesley : Taking it in by noelia_g)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-15 06:13 am (UTC)(link)
If it wasn't panic in her eyes, it was at least the need for a healthy debate. Fred's gaze settle briefly on the place where their hands were connected, then back up to study his face intently. Looked past the marks on his throat and the obvious evidence of Lawson's attack. Wesley looked tired. She probably didn't look much better.

"...don't say that. Please." Her voice was pitched low again. Not to plead her case but to counter one too many words said by an already sore throat. "It's not like..." It wasn't wisdom, to her mind. It was focus. And she directed it full force on whatever held her attention. A project. A paper. Even a certain person....

Fred attempted a smile.

"I'm just stubborn."
fredless: (Action : Intent gaze)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-16 12:56 am (UTC)(link)
"I don't mind sharing, just so you know."

And she didn't. Not if there was some way it might ease the tight lines that settled around Wesley's mouth. Or the strain in Angel's shoulders. Or Charles and Lorne, however they needed.

His fingers were warm, seeping through her own skin and easing a chill Fred hadn't even realized had settled over her. It was a bothersome thought, one all too easy to linger in. That a body could let itself stop noticing the cold.

A look of resolve passed over her features.

"Ok, so that's it." She looked back at Wesley. "When we go home tonight, we're flipping the calendar. I don't care how many days are left in the month, it's time for a new one."

In a new month, she might even find a way of telling Wesley about whatever this was that she felt. The one thing Fred was sure of -- it didn't belong in this one.
fredless: (Profile : Thoughtful Gaze)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-16 03:06 am (UTC)(link)
"We're the bosses, right? Who's going to tell us no."

Fred wasn't certain she could begin to navigate the tangle of emotions that sat just underneath that statement. Humor, of course. If nothing but because just how true it was. A bit of sadness too, at the fear they'd somehow come to inspire. That had never been her intent, but it it was one of those things that felt bigger than them. Inevitably tied up with this place. The building --

The idea of it.

But mostly? She was just tired. And somehow, Wesley had settled on what she needed, in that moment. Not the escort, precisely. Though she certainly wouldn't turn him away. But...

"Home sounds good." She flashed him a grateful smile, once again aware of how everything hurt. Fred watched for a moment, taking him in while Wesley nursed his tea. The idea that she might be staring came over her slowly.

"Let me just get my shoes."

It wasn't until Fred founds the heels on the floor of her lab that she realized what a poor excuse it'd been. In a swift, decisive gesture she picked them up off the floor and dropped them into the nearest trash can. She had no desire to ever wear them again. The relief was instant, and Fred felt noticeably lighter.
fredless: (Action : Intent gaze)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-16 04:03 am (UTC)(link)
Fred wiggled her toes at Wesley's examination, but she was secretly glad when he didn't press any further. The shoes would never make her feel anything but weak, now. And even with their resolve to turn the page tonight, there'd been enough if all their lives lately without questionable footwear.

"Ready." She felt herself smile, and Fred moved to claim her bag before fumbling briefly for the keys inside. As late as she often stayed, Knox usually was the last one out with the responsibility of locking up. But things had been strained lately. And more than that, he'd seemed distracted. After a moment her fingers closed over cool keys underneath several files.

"Just leave the mugs. I can take care of them tomorrow."

Fred switched off a few other non essential lights and then lead the way down from her office and through the darkened lab.
fredless: (Wesley : Taking it in by noelia_g)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-16 04:39 am (UTC)(link)
Fred glanced over at Wesley as the elevator continued to descend. In the relative quiet that came with the late hour the inner-workings of the mechanics seemed especially loud. Or maybe, again, she was tired.

That eased slightly when she noticed he was smiling.

"Give me a minute. I'll probably stub a toe or step in somebody's day-old spilled coffee. It'll lose all its appeal."
fredless: (Wesley : Smile by Misnightzstorm)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-16 05:03 am (UTC)(link)
"You'd break him right out of his trademark brood. And then he'd probably have you checked out for some kind of possession."

The beep of her alarm sounded loudly as the crossed through the now empty garage towards her car. Fred opened the backdoor and dropped her bag inside before turning to face Wesley again, resting her back on the door.

"But I..." She considered the image, in all its absurdity. But wasn't that what they needed? Even if in some small amount? "I think you would look lovely."
fredless: (Profile : The light is behind me)

[personal profile] fredless 2012-08-16 05:25 am (UTC)(link)
Fred had the absurd desire then to -- well at least to press a kiss to Wesley's cheek. If anything, to thank him. And not just for finding her in the lab that evening, for preventing her from sitting there staring at who knew what until people showed up to work the next morning. For everything, lately. But Fred was fairly certain that Wesley's reaction to the gesture wouldn't have been all the different to Angel and Wesley's hypothetical sandals.

Instead? She nodded. The movement neat and oddly cheerful considering the hour.

"I'll call you when I get home." Fred opened the car door and slid behind the wheel, taking a moment to turn over the ignition. "I promise."