A Connection

He goes up the stairs slowly. It has been another of those nights, another of those missions. Everyone was saved in the end. Everyone except one.

It is the one he remembers. The one he carries with him through the now-wrecked formal dining room and up the stairs to her room. Her room, which he has left as she kept it, only he sleeps here now with the shades drawn and the memories of a room two doors down left in silence.

He goes to the room, starts to shut and lock the door behind him in smooth, unconscious motion, and stops. Leaves the door unlocked, cracks it open slightly. Then continues to the bed where he lies down.

Waits. Tries to sleep. Her face swims in his mind. Just a child, who had had no idea what those around her were doing, what they had been drawn into. The only true innocent there, and the only one he could not save.

He closes his eyes and tries to find some oblivion that does not involve her frightened face. He would rather see a thousand faces accusing him of elder crimes than see her slipping by, just out of reach. If only the tales were true, or he had the powers of a magician to fly -- but he does not, and he is left with echoes in his ears of someone, perhaps even him, shouting 'no'.

He does not realize he has lain there so long, but when he hears it, he knows it is late. He is always asleep by now. But the door is opening, so he lies still. Still as death, even when he hears the footstep into his room. Her room.

Footsteps.

He remains unmoving, even when he knows he has come closer. Wesley has never entered the room before -- is it simply the architecture of the room that requires him to come inside so he can stand vigil? Or is this the one, the last time that Angel will be allowed to fail?

He does not open his eyes. He does not want to know.

Until the hand touches his back, so light that only a vampire with preternatural senses can detect the tremble in the fingers. Still he does not move. It is somehow strangely calming, even knowing what must have driven him here. Wesley had seen the girl, as well, fall--

Angel rolls over, eyes opening wide in disbelief and confusion. Wesley looks at him, and leans down again. Presses his lips to Angel's forehead this time.

"What--" he begins to ask, and decides he does not want to know. Perhaps it is fitting.

Then he realizes Wesley has come in here with nothing. Nothing but a quiet look in his eyes and again, soft touches of his hands on Angel's arm. Angel does not understand, but he can only gaze upward.

Wesley touches his face, and suddenly he does.