TITLE – Bermuda: Homecoming

AUTHOR – Gaeriel Mallory

DISCLAIMER – All characters (save for A.j. who belongs to herself) property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, Inc. The concept of Bermuda is A.j.'s; I just took it and tweaked it a little bit.

SPOILERS – Season 5 of Angel.

NOTES – Happy birthday, A.j. You rock.

Wesley Wyndam-Price closed his eyes, letting the pain carry him away. As the pain lessened, he relaxed, accepting his death and that even though he did not survive, at least the mission was carried out. Illyria had seen to that. He sighed, breathing his last...

And opened his eyes to the cries of seagulls and the sparkle of the sun off of waves. He raised his head and looked around him, shading his eyes and squinting against the bright glare off the white sand. "Where in the world am I?" he asked softly.

"About time you woke up," a familiar voice called out impatiently. I've been sitting here for almost half-an-hour waiting for you to come to."

He turned his head quickly, gaping at the sight in front of him.

Cordelia Chase, dressed in a white bikini and skin tanned to perfection, glared at him. "What are you staring at?" Her hands flew up to her face. "Do I have something on me? Is there a bug?" He hands scrabbled through her hair in an attempt to dislodge the imagined insect.

"No. No," he was quick to reassure her. "It's just... you're dead."

She rolled her eyes. "Well dur. I was there, you know. And let me tell you, dying isn't all it's cracked up to be. I can't believe Buffy managed to do it twice and just bounce back like that. Though you would think that with all that time being not alive that second time, she could have done something with her hair so that her roots stopped showing--" She stopped talking and gave Wesley the evil eye again. "What?"

The ex-Watcher gaped. "But if you're dead..."

She smiled. "Bingo." She leaned back and stretched in her beach chair. "Welcome to the wonderful un-life of the deceased." She grinned at his look of shock. "Hey now, it's not that bad. And Bermuda is a far step above some other places we could have ended up. At least here I can work on my tan and sip Mai Tais all day."

He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Forgive me if I'm wrong, Cordelia, but I was under the impression that when one died, Bermuda is not usually the end destination."

She waved a manicured hand negligently to the side. "Well, someone decided to step in and play around with us. And it's not the PTB this time but someone entirely different."

Wesley knew he wasn't in heaven because of the pain that was developing behind his eyes. Perhaps this was hell then, forever tormented by Cordelia-speak that said a lot without saying much at all? He gently massaged his temple and sighed. "Who?" With one simple word, he hoped he managed to convey to the seer his confusion, frustration, and anger of being a pawn for a higher power yet again in his life.

Cordelia, being Cordelia, either did not understand the emotional nuances in his tone or just ignored them. He greatly suspected the latter. She pointed towards a more populated area of the beach in which a number of people were wandering around or sunbathing. "Her," she explained confidently. "The lady surrounded by all the tanned testosterone goodness."

Wesley put his glasses back on and peered across the distance. He observed a woman lounging on a padded beach chair, legs stretched out on the sand. A large umbrella stood next to her, shading her from the worst of the sun's harsh glare. She held out a hand and one of the group of young, good-looking men around her handed her a drink in a glass with a pink paper umbrella poking out from the top. He noted that two other males were cooling her off with two large palm frond fans, reminiscent of the way Cleopatra was treated in the Hollywood movies. "And who might she be?"

Cordelia looked back up at him in annoyance. While he was studying the mysterious power who had decided he was to be here rather than... elsewhere, she had returned to her sunbathing, complete with pushing her sunglasses back onto her face and closing her eyes. "That's A.j." She shrugged and relaxed in her chair again. "From what we can figure, she pretty much controls this place and for some reason, refuses to believe that we're all dead. Just laughs at us and spouts out some outrageous story of identical twins or clones or some such so that we weren't actually there when we died. I personally think she's a little nutso but I'm not complaining too much. I like Bermuda."


She shoved her sunglasses up onto her head and sat up. "Look, Wes, I'm really glad that you're here and all but you're in my sun. And I really would like to get some rest and relaxation in before dinner tonight because Mrs. Summers is organizing a luau or something that I'm sure will last way into the night. So maybe you could go off and talk to someone else and I'll see you later?"

"Um, sure..." Wesley looked with confusion around and then back at Cordelia who was pointedly ignoring him. He sighed and reluctantly trudged through the sand towards the rest of the inhabitants of the beach. The seer had situated herself far away from the others and it was a few minutes before he was able to make out the features of anyone. When he did, he had to force himself to keep walking. There in front of him, laughing, talking and acting utterly alive were those who he knew were deceased. Many of them he had seen die in person.

But then one petite skinny brunette dressed in a purple sundress turned away from the woman she was talking to and smiled his way. He stopped in the sand and stared, not believing that it was really her.

Fred's companion tapped her on the shoulder and asked her a question. Wesley's heart thudded in his ears as he watched her turn back and answer. The other woman, a short dark blonde, frowned and said something else before grabbing hold of Fred's elbow and purposefully walking towards Wesley.

As she stopped in front of him, she released Fred and stuck out her hand which he automatically took in his own. "Hi. I'm Anya. Welcome to Bermuda. It's a nice enough place, I suppose, though there's no commerce and therefore no way to make money; just to warn you if you're into that sort of thing." She looked hopefully up at him, but when he shook his head in the negative, she pouted a little bit. "Anyway, Fred tells me that she knows you from before so I'll just leave you two alone. And I should tell you that the walls up at the resort are very thick so that no noise travels through them at all which makes it very convenient for when you find an orgasm-buddy--Ow!"

Fred blushed as she released Anya's foot from beneath her own. "Hi, Wesley," she said shyly. "Cordelia said that you had shown up and that she'd send you down this way when you were awake."

"Fred," he whispered, not quite believing that it was really his Fred in front of him and not Illyria pretending to be Fred.

"That's me. Um... so how are things at home?" she asked.

"Going abysmally as usual. Apocalypse again that we may or may not stop."

"Oh." She paused and tilted her head sideways slightly, in that familiar move that made his breath catch in his throat. "Why don't you tell me all about it? Dinner's not for a couple hours yet though if we're hungry, the bar is always open and they serve really good tacos."

He reached out and grasped her fingers tightly in his. "Yes," he said slowly. "I think I could go for a taco right now." For the first time in a long while, since Illyria had taken over Fred's body and supposedly destroyed her soul, he smiled.

She smiled back at him and tugged him along the beach, leaving Anya behind smirking knowingly after them. "Great! Later, you can meet everybody. You'll really like Jenny; she apparently used to go out with a friend of yours and knew Angel, but Angel when he went bad..."

The silly smile stayed on his face all the way to the bar, and throughout the meal, and after the meal. He was content to just listen to her talk and allow her to introduce him to people both familiar and not so familiar. He thought he would rather like Bermuda, after all.