Wesley felt the cold bite of steel press against his skin -- for one brief moment that was all. Then there was only horrible, splintering pain radiating throughout his body, circling the open wound in his neck. He was dimly aware of having reached for his throat, pressing his hand against it -- not to keep in the blood, but to push back the pain. It wasn't working, but he pushed harder, feeling himself fall even as he thought only of stopping it, of making the pain go away.

He could hear ringing in his ears, echoing with a voice he despaired of ever hearing again. It was calling his name, sharp with concern and it felt so good, so loving, that he wanted to run towards it and be buried within.


Wesley opened his eyes and found himself held tightly. He jerked, frightened, and looked around, hand going towards his neck. He was in their bedroom. He was in bed, naked, and Angel was holding his arms tight and pressed up against him as though he'd attempted to crawl into Wesley's body to chase him out of his dream.

His dream. His throat was not cut.

"Oh dear god," Wesley breathed, and collapsed against his lover's shoulder. Angel's arms moved from their grip to embrace him, comforting and protective. Wesley shuddered, and Angel rubbed his back and ran one hand against his head while murmuring faint words, soft and meaningless.

"Are you awake now?" Angel asked, still sounding worried, but his voice no longer had that sharp note of fear.

"I think so. Please, god, I hope so!" Wesley closed his eyes, but found the blackness there reminded him of the last moments of his nightmare, so he re-opened them quickly.

"I tried waking you -- I've been trying for the last five minutes. I couldn't--" Angel was babbling, frightened again with his inability to rescue him before now.

Wesley reached one hand out, and grasped Angel's arm. "I'm awake, now. It was just a dream." He took a deep breath. "Just a horrible dream."

They sat there for several moments, not moving. Then Wesley shifted slightly, and Angel moved with him, rearranging them to sit up against the headboard and cuddle. Wesley let himself relax in Angel's arms, keeping his eyes firmly open and trying not to recall any of the nightmare. He often dreamt vividly, dreaming long, complex dreams that rightly belonged on the movie screen. It came from so much daydreaming as a child, he knew -- his mind had got trained to create huge story lines, filled with action and characters. When he worked too hard now days to do much fancying while awake, his brain made up for it when he slept.

Why it had picked *this* to dream about, he had no idea. Whatever did it all mean? Did he even want to think about it enough to discover?

"Do you want to tell me about it?" Angel asked quietly, as if hearing Wesley's thoughts.

"I...I'm not sure," Wesley stammered. The sensation was still there -- his muscles still tensed in remembered pain that even waking, and Angel's touch had not erased.

"You don't have to," Angel said quickly. "I just thought...."

"Give...give me a moment." Wesley sat still, reassuring himself that he was *not* dying, had not been cut across the throat. He shivered and felt Angel respond instantly with his hands, soothing, and a soft kiss on his temple. He took a deep breath and began. "I'd just been killed, when you woke me...."

He sat and talked for what seemed like days. As he described his dream, he remembered more and more, until he was telling the entire story backwards from the moment his throat had been cut. When he finally reached the end, or rather the beginning of what he could remember, he collapsed, exhausted. Angel held him more tightly, and said nothing as he pressed kisses against Wesley's forehead, then his face, then tilting his head up to kiss Wesley's lips.

Wesley saw a dark look in his lover's eyes, but did not comment on it. He waited, content to rest here and let the dream go.

"So," Angel began, haltingly. "Do you think...well...I did sorta bite you a little. You think that's where the throat cutting came from?"

Wesley smiled, despite himself. "I'm not sure. I've never had my throat injured, or in danger of such, before." He gave Angel a smile, to show that if it *was* the bite his lover had given him -- slow and easy, the prick of fangs and the barest drawing of blood in the midst of their loving -- he didn't mind.

Angel returned the smile, and gave him another gentle kiss. As it started to become more, Angel pulled back and gave Wesley a confused frown. "What about the kid?"

Wesley thought about it for just a moment. "Perhaps it was my cousin Reginald's new baby that my mother rang about a few days ago. Not that I've ever cared much for cousin Reginald, but it's the first baby among my generation, in the family."

"Your mother was pretty excited," Angel said quietly, no doubt remembering the bitterness with which Wesley had informed his mother, yet again, that there would be no children from him. "Wish fulfillment, then? Pretty weird way to have a kid."

"Yes. If I'd wanted to give my mother grandchildren, having two vampires conceive the child would *not* be the best way to go about it. It would make more sense to adopt a dog, or something, and let her call it silly names and send it birthday cards." Wesley fought back the anger, again, knowing that there was nothing to be done about his mother's desires. His life was about *his* desires, and his duties -- none of which included children. Even if he'd been inclined to marry a human woman, he'd not have wanted children.

"Thanks for naming him Connor," Angel interrupted Wesley's thoughts.

"What?" Wesley glanced up, then laughed. He gave Angel a kiss. "You're welcome. It was a family name," he teased.

"Maybe if we get a dog, we can name it Connor?"

Wesley gave him a stern look. "We are not getting a dog. And if we were, we would name it a proper dog's name like Rover or Man O' War."

"Man O' War was a horse's name."

"I know. I'm thinking of a large dog, so it can lie across the threshold and keep unwanted co-workers out of the office."

"You mean, when we're having sex? You do know there's a big window in your office, right?"

Wesley gave him another frown, even as parts of his body responded to the thought of sex, in the office or anywhere else. "I meant -- never mind, I've forgotten. Perhaps a small, constantly yapping dog, then?"

Angel shook his head. "I'd eat it when it got too annoying. Then what would your mum say? 'Always eating the grandchildren! Can't you keep your husband under control? Make him get a real job so he can support me in my dotage!'"

If he said anything else, Wesley missed it from laughing so hard. He felt Angel hug him, and he spread his hands across Angel's waist and chest. "I love you, you great moron." He ignored the tightening in his stomach at hearing the word 'husband' from his lover. They'd never spoken of such things, even in jest, before.

"But I'm cute," Angel said smugly.

"Yes. Yes, you are." Wesley had to kiss him, again, before settling down once more.

After a few moments, Angel grew thoughtful. "So, we know where the throat thing and baby came from. Who's Fred?"

Wesley thought back, then laughed. "Yesterday afternoon, Cordelia was ranting about a commercial she'd not got the part for. Some other woman was cast, and her name was Frederika. Cordelia was most put out at how Los Angeles could want a "Fred" rather than a "Cordelia"."

He glanced up to see Angel grinning. They shared one more kiss, and Wesley was beginning to feel calm, and as though he could go back to sleep without any remnants of the dream following him. He yawned, and blinked his eyes.

"Go back to sleep, Wes," Angel said quietly in his ear, giving him a hug and beginning to scoot down. Wesley moved with him, lying down without actually moving away from his lover, or out of his embrace any more than necessary.

"Love you, Angel," he mumbled, as his body began a rapid descent towards sleep.

"I love you, too." There was a kiss and another hug, and Angel was turning them to spoon up behind Wesley. Wesley sighed, and settled in, warm and comfortable.

"Hey, Wes? Who's Gunn?"