The Morning After
Morning sunlight poured through the window, cut by blinds into parallel beams which crisscrossed over Angel's bed. A groan broke the still air as Angel lay sprawled over the bedsheets. Several moments passed before he began to twitch. He woke up gradually, feeling the sunlight heating up the black shirt and leather jacket he still wore from the previous night. Angel blinked slowly as he became fully awake. His head was pounding, and he had vague recollections of a highly embarrassing Valentine's Night. What was more, he felt a strange weight against his stomach. He raised his head enough to look down towards his body and see what was pressing down on him.
"Oh, hello Gunn."
He stared at his friend for a moment, who was laying asleep on the bed perpendicular to Angel with his head nestled across Angel's stomach. A moment passed. Then Angel realized Gunn was sleeping on top of him.
"Gunn, what the hell!"
Angel leaped up with a start and scrambled off the bed to stand by the window, his sudden movement rolling a sleeping Gunn onto the floor. Gunn sputtered awake in an instant and stood up in confusion from where he had hit the floor. He stared at Angel, who was about to protest again when he turned around the looked at the window.
The sunlight! Not the sunlight!
Angel threw up his arms and screamed before Gunn shouted him down.
"Angel, Angel! Necrotempered glass, dude! Chill!"
Angel's scream trailed off as he stood stock still for a moment, waiting to burst into flame, until finally Gunn's comment registered. He lowered his arms and squinted his eyes, staring out at the morning-framed Los Angeles skyline beyond his window.
"Oh yeah. Forgot about that."
Gunn looked around Angel's apartment before holding his head and grimacing. "Oh man," he said, "I'm pretty sure I can't remember more than, like, the first two hours of last night. What happened?"
"I think we fell asleep up here."
Angel plumbed his shaky memory. "I think he might have left to see Fred or something."
"Was I sleepin' with my head on your stomach?"
"Yes. Yes you were. Ugh, and you got drool on my shirt!"
Angel wiped the drool he had accidentally touched on the leg of his pants. He and Gunn stood awkwardly on either side of the bed for a moment, not sure what to do next, until Angel looked at his bedside alarm clock and let out another groan.
"What?" asked Gunn.
"We're late to work. Very late."
The two of them rushed to the elevator and took it down to his office, forgetting to change into a new set of clothes – not that Gunn had a choice unless he wanted to borrow something in Angel's wardrobe, which gave him a choice between black and black.
The elevator doors opened into Angel's office as he stepped out, rubbing his temples and trying to think about what was on his agenda. Working at Wolfram & Hart was a stressful experience, with a new problem cropping up on a daily basis, which was saying a lot – running Angel Investigations at the Hyperion had been a handful, and that was nothing compared to being the CEO of an evil law firm. Unfortunately, his searing hangover was making it difficult for him to think about what he had to do today. What day was it, anyway?
"What's up, Gunn."
Angel dropped the papers he had picked up at his desk and walked to the office door, which Gunn was holding open. He looked into the lobby. It was empty.
"What the – am I the only one who cares about getting things done around here? Come on, people!"
"I think it's Sunday, Angel."
Angel looked at the lobby for another few moments, wondering what he would do without any work.
"Why're we even closed on Sundays?" asked Gunn. "Does anybody here even go to church? I mean, do vampires and demons really need the day off?"
"Some of them do. You'd be surprised how many vampires go to church, and thats not even counting evil churches," said Angel.
"Yeah, it's for appearance's sake, that kind of thing. Easy source of victims too. Heck, some of them just have a masochistic streak. I knew this one vampire when I was in Europe who liked to sneak in and rub himself on the cross just to get a-"
Gunn coughed insistently. "Er, too much information, Angel."
"So here's a question – did Wesley say something last night about Spike going out on a date with Fred?"
Angel frowned at Gunn's question. Wesley had definitely said something along those lines.
"I wasn't sure what he meant, but he did say something about them. But that's ridiculous. Spike knows that I'd put a stake through his heart if he touched Fred, and Fred has better taste than that. Besides, it was Valentine's Day – I get the feeling Wesley might have seen them together and read into things a bit too much, maybe gotten a bit jealous."
"You mean he's-"
"Interesting," said Gunn.
"You haven't sensed something between those two?"
"Guess not. I s'pose I haven't been keeping up with the office romances nowadays."
The two of them still stood in front of the open office door, staring blankly at the empty lobby as they wrestled with the lingering nauseated feeling that still clung to them as a result of last night. Angel returned to his desk for a moment and sat back in his chair with a self-satisfied smile, glad to hear that he had picked up some kind of mutual interest between Fred and Wesley that Gunn hadn't noticed. I must be good at reading signals, he told himself. That day Nina came over to talk about werewolf coping strategies, Fred was so friendly around Wesley – how could anyone not pick up on that?
Gunn sat down in a chair opposite Angel's desk. Angel sat silently with his friend as he tried to piece together the bits and pieces of the previous night. He could tell Gunn was doing the same thing, and probably waiting for his own hangover to wear off too. Last night had been interesting, there was no denying it. It wasn't often that Angel let his guard down that much, but he always got a bit sentimental on Valentine's Day. And he had to admit that it had been fun to spend some time with Wesley and Gunn, talking about life and love, watching some repeats of Passions –
Oh, no. They knew about Passions.
"Hey Gunn?" asked Angel.
"I have an idea."
Gunn leaned forward expectantly in his chair.
"Let's never speak about last night, okay?"
Gunn thought about Angel's proposition. Apparently he was not the only one who had been piecing together the pieces of last night's Valentine's escapades. He vaguely recollected sharing a drunken crying jag with Angel after something that had happened on Passions. Something about Sheridan getting assassinated, maybe, and knowing what it would do to poor Luis. He began to feel a hot flush of embarrassment pass over his cheeks. Maybe Angel had a point about keeping last night just between them.
"You got yourself a deal."
After Angel made sure he had no pressing business to take care of since he was already at work, he and Gunn parted ways. An entire Sunday off; Angel wasn't sure what to do with himself. He considered just going back up to his apartment but decided it would be nice to drive around Los Angeles a little bit in one of the cars downstairs with the necrotempered windshields. One of the nice perks of working at an evil law firm, he surprised.
Gunn had already left by the time Angel went into the lobby and took the elevator down to the parking garage. The door opened, and he stepped out onto concrete and took a look at his beautiful vehicles. So many choices. He hadn't even tried half of them yet. There was one in particular he had in mind - the yellow number, which seemed like a bad color for a car, but it had been growing on him. But as Angel looked for it, he noticed an empty space where it should have been.
His face twisted with anger as he realized almost immediately why one of his cars would be missing. There was only one possible explanation for it.
Fred hummed an aimless tune as she watered one of her potted ferns. It was nice to have a day off from work where she could putter around the house a little – especially after the events of the night before. Although she was feeling less annoyed after a night of rest, she had been more than a little irritated with Spike's behavior last night, as it was usually a little irksome when someone almost got you killed on a first date.
If it even was a first date. Fred had gotten the feeling that Spike had a bit of a liking towards her ever since he arrived at Wolfram & Hart, but maybe he just wanted to have some Valentine's fun. It was hard to tell just how much Spike liked her, though. Even if he really did like her, she knew that she did not return the feeling. Despite the rugged good looks and devil-may-care attitude, last night had proved that vampires were definitely not her type. Even with a soul. Fred wondered how Buffy Summers could have been interested in not one but two vampires. It must be some kind of side effect of being the slayer, she thought. Drawn to that which you're supposed to hate.
Fred had just finished watering her ferns and thinking about her strange Valentine's Day when the doorbell rang. She put away the water sprayer and walked up to the door. For just a moment, she hoped that it might be Wesley, even though she doubted he would be up and about even earlier than she had woken up. She opened the door.
It was not Wesley.
The platinum-topped vampire stood awkwardly in the hallway outside the doorway. For a moment Fred thought he was expecting to be punched or slapped, but she realized that he was waiting for an invitation.
"Come in. How did you find my apartment anyway?"
"Looked it up in the yellow pages. 511 Winwood Circle."
"How did you even get here? It's already daytime outside."
"Oh, I took one of Angel's little rides with the necrotempered windshields from the basement of Wolfram & Hart earlier this morning. Thought I'd go for a joyride around town, and I found a shady place behind your building to park and nip inside real quick. Hope you don't mind me stopping by."
"Depends on if you came here to ask for a kitten loan."
Spike noticed the basket of kittens placed at the foot of her bed and snorted in amusement.
"I s'pose I should probably give up the kitten gambling now that I have a soul. Not exactly a noble pursuit, eh?"
"No, it's not. You should be ashamed of yourself!"
"Hey now, I usually win, and I let the kittens go most of the time! I just like the game!"
Fred couldn't tell whether Spike was telling the truth or just backtracking in order to save face, but she didn't feel like getting into an argument about the ethics of using cute baby animals as game winnings, and she was getting a little impatient as to why Spike had stopped by at all. She knew that if he was planning on asking her out on any more dates, she would have to reject him – she had only gone on the first one due to circumstance, and it going out with Spike had made Fred more aware of her feelings for Wesley than ever before.
"Look, Fred, I just came by to tell you I don't think things would work out between us."
Fred snorted. Maybe this would be easier than she thought.
"You see," said Spike as he flopped down on her bed and ignored her derisive look, "I've always had a bit of a thing for the cute innocent types, you know? But it's not really a good match. I'm just too much of a bad boy, is the problem."
Fred's response was sarcastic, but she had to admit Spike could pull off the bad boy aesthetic well. At least when he wasn't trying too hard, like he was now.
"I think I'd end up bein' a bad influence on you, and when it comes right down to it, I still need some time to move on from Buffy and enjoy the single life. Sow my wild oats, you know? But I'm glad we went out last night. Quite a riot."
"It was definitely exciting as far as Valentine's Days go," said Fred. She wasn't lying, although she also hadn't decided what exactly she meant by 'exciting.' Still, she had to admit that she'd probably be remembering last night for a while. "Just do me a favor and don't take me to any of your favorite bars in the future."
Spike flashed her a roguish smile as he enjoyed a momentary rest on the bed before jumping up and making his way to the refrigerator. He combed through its contents for a moment before closing the door with a grunt. "No blood around?" he asked.
"Um, why would I have blood in my fridge?"
Fred leaned against a wall corner, waiting for Spike to excuse himself since she needed to make a call. Fortunately, he did not seem interested in hanging around for too long. After deciding he was uninterested in taking any of the snacks Fred had stashed around the apartment, he opened the door and gave her a nod before leaving.
"I'm off to keep drivin' around town before somebody tows my car or the sun gets too high in that alley out back. You know, I almost hope I have a parking ticket, seeing as Angel would have to pay it."
"You're so considerate. Have fun with that."
"Oh, and, uh – well, sorry for almost gettin' you killed last night."
Fred smiled. She had not expected an apology, but it was appreciated all the same.
Fred sat down on her bed after Spike gave her a last nod and closed the door. He was definitely a bit of enigma. Maybe he had just asked her out to have a little fun on Valentine's Day, or maybe he was genuinely interested in her. Maybe he had realized over the course of the night that the two of them were not a good match. He could have stopped by to save face and come off like he was indifferent to the whole thing. Hiding some kind of deeper feelings. It was hard to tell when Spike seemed to maintain a flippant attitude towards everyone and everything. Whatever had been his motivation behind asking her out on a date was irrelevant now, anyway.
Fred got up from her bed for a moment and picked up one of the kittens in the basket. She returned to the bed with the kitten in her lap, playing with it and stroking its soft fur as she picked her cell phone off the end table and opened it up with her other hand. Although she had stayed with Wesley for a little while in his apartment while he was conked out last night, she wanted to make sure he was feeling alright.
Wesley was definitely not feeling alright. The splitting headache was bad enough on its own, but the blaring ring of the phone beside his bed made it even worse. He shifted and groaned as the ring drove him into wakefulness. How did he get in his bed, anyway? And under covers, too. Wesley raised up his arm and looked at the wristwatch that had not been taken off, noting it was about noon. As he wracked his brain for some general ideas of what had happened the night before, he remembered Fred. Fred, and the sidewalk. Walking home, maybe?
"Alright alright," he grumbled as he picked up the phone. "This is Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, who's trying to kill me?"
"Um, it's Fred. Are you okay?"
Wesley's tone brightened noticeably at the sound of Fred's voice. "Oh, hello! No, I'm just fine. Well, I have a headache that feels like it's about to burst out of my skull, and I am beginning to get a vague impression that I made a fool of myself last night, but other than that, I'm wonderful. Thank you for asking."
A light laugh came from the other end of the line. "That's good to hear."
"Did you take me home?"
"I hope I wasn't a bother last night. I remember leaving Gunn and Angel at Wolfram & Hart-"
"Wait a minute, what? You guys were still at work last night?"
"Well, yes. We were all in Angel's apartment having a few drinks, as a matter of fact."
"Oh my lord," said Fred, her southern accent creeping through a little more strongly than usual. "Did everybody get drunk last night except me?"
Wesley's only response was a sheepish silence. Judging by another laugh and a good-natured sigh that came from the other end of the line, he got the feeling that Fred had been the only sensible one last night. Well, except for going out on a date with blondie bear, as Harmony liked to call him.
"I guess you guys should have had me around to babysit you, huh?"
"Perhaps," laughed Wesley. "Although I don't know how Angel and Gunn are doing. They were watching some ridiculous soap opera last night, but I left a bit early." Wesley thought about the two of them, but then his thoughts shifted to his visit to the demon dive the other night. "So, if you don't mind me asking, were you really out on a date with Spike?"
"Oh no," laughed Fred. "Well, I don't know exactly. I just felt like going out, and Spike was the one who asked me. But we're not an item or anything, if that's what you're askin' about. He's not my type."
Wesley could not resist a wide smile. He was glad Fred couldn't see him over the phone.
"Not one for the vampires?"
"I guess not. I think I'm more into the cultured, intelligent but ruggedly handsome types. Maybe with a bit of a knack for the magical arts."
"Sounds like you might be interested in some of the people I knew when I was on the Watcher's Council."
The other end of the phone was silent for a moment, and Wesley wondered if Fred had been cut off before she finally replied with a simple 'yeah.' He wondered if she wanted him to set him up on some kind of blind date with one of his old associates - it would be a tall order, since he tended to despise his old associates, but fortunately she did not ask.
"I left you something," she said instead. "Before I left your apartment last night, I mean."
"Oh yes? What is that?"
"It's taped to your refrigerator door. Since you're feeling better, I'll let you go take a look whenever you feel like it. I gotta go - see you at work tomorrow, Wesley."
The phone went silent, and Wesley knew he would have to wait until tomorrow to hear Fred's voice again. He felt a little disappointed at the thought, but it was not too much to ask.
The apartment was dark, as the blinds on the window were drawn, and Wesley spent a few moments laying still under the covers in the gloom, still trying to wait for his hangover to ease off a little. He could not wait long, however. He threw the sheets off and got up from his bed, leaving the bedroom on his way to the small kitchenette. Sure enough, a note was taped to his refrigerator, folded in half. He removed it carefully and opened it up; the note was made from white printer paper cut into the shape of a heart.
Sorry this isn't red, the note read. You don't seem to have any art supplies in your apartment, Wesley. I couldn't even draw red hearts on the inside! Anyway, I stole your milk from the fridge for the kittens.
Wesley vaguely remembered the basket of kittens that Fred had been carrying along last night. He wondered why in the world she had those; he would have to ask her tomorrow, but the memory amused him. He continued to read.
I hope you're feeling better. Have a happy Valentine's Day! Love, Fred.
Wesley smiled and stood in the kitchenette for a few moments, rereading the note one more time before slowly folding it up. He felt hungry enough to grab something out of the refrigerator for breakfast – apparently cereal and milk were not an option, judging by Fred's note – but first, he needed to go back to his room.
Wesley opened an empty dresser drawer, placing the note carefully towards the back. He couldn't remember the last time he had gotten anything for Valentine's Day. Fred's note was about as simple as Valentine's Day cards could get, and he knew she didn't share the feelings that he felt for her, but it didn't matter. He stood in his room for a moment, marveling at the fact that he barely even noticed his headache anymore. He felt like a new man. It was amazing how the smallest gesture could make all the difference in the world.
Notes - That's it, hope you guys enjoyed it! I would have posted the last chapter yesterday but I had some kind of major stomach bug laying me out all day. I guess I probably felt like Wesley, Gunn, or Angel, take your pick. Let me know what you thought of the story. :) I have another story for Angel called "Helping Hand" that you can check out if you haven't yet.
And yeah, that was an actual event from Passions that I referenced. I had to look up the show since I haven't seen it and try to find some scene that might plausibly make a drunk Gunn and Angel cry, hehe. That show actually sounds pretty crazy for a soap opera - I could see why Spike might be into it.
Hopefully Wesley isn't too oblivious to Fred's feelings at the end, but I found it amusing and couldn't resist, and he is pretty oblivious in Smile Time after all. I'm not a big "shipping" type especially in the Buffyverse for some reason - I tend to like most relationships on the show about equally, and the group dynamics and friendships are what attract me most - but I do have a soft spot for Wesley and Fred for some reason. Maybe just because Joss gave us, what, a quarter of an episode with them before taking it away? Hehe.
My next story will be for The Office, but I'll probably write more Buffyverse stories at some point in the future, so put me on author alerts if you want.