Beside the Evening Sun

He really, really hated it. He tried not to notice, tried to pretend he didn't care. Tried to smile and wave a casual hand and say 'whatever, have fun' without screaming.

Angel figured it was part of his redemption. A detail of his epiphany he hadn't realised was there, a consequence no one had warned him about, the way no one had ever warned him about anything once the curse hit.

Admittedly, no one had warned him about anything since he'd been 13 and his father had given up trying to tell him what would happen if he didn't straighten up.

But he did watch them, and he did notice, and he did care. No one could help but see the way Wesley smiled when Gunn walked into the room, or said Wes' name, or brushed close by enough to touch. No one could miss how Gunn's attention tracked onto Wesley no matter what else was happening, especially in a fight, or a bar, or the otherwise empty lobby of the Hyperion.

Angel couldn't decide what made it worse. Was it that, once upon a time, he had had the chance to make Wesley look at him that way? Turn the worshipful gratitude into something more real, something more enduring and equal? He'd not done, out of his own fears and lack of interest. Still in pain of losing Buffy, and Doyle, he hadn't wanted to admit he needed friends, much less warmth.

Or was it just that right now, he didn't love. Wasn't loved, and had been it and seen it and had it, and now he didn't, and seeing it in someone else just made him feel lonely?

He was watching them now, walking out the door, laughing quietly at something. They'd be gone all night, back tomorrow with smiles and laughter and words said that only they understood. He turned to go upstairs, and found Cordelia standing behind him.

Holding out a carton of ice cream.

"Hook up the VCR. I've rented movies."


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