Still Waiting

Angel sat at a table amidst the noise and bustle of the bar, but ignoring it all in favor of the pint before him. He'd taken no drink since the first swallow had proven bitter and strong, and not at all what he truly wanted. He couldn't order what he wanted, here, and so made do with what they'd serve. All he needed was an excuse to hold a table for awhile.

He'd sat for an hour with no one disturbing him. Once, a man had paused beside the table and asked if he might steal one of the chairs. Angel had nodded, waving him away with it. The stranger had given him a thankful, happy grin and disappeared with his prize. Angel forgot him two seconds later.

Now the waitress stopped by and gave him a mild look. Angel searched his memory for the likeliest thing available - it was obvious he needed no second drink, his first so untouched. But he came up blank; American bars as likely to serve nothing as full dinner menus. When he stammered a half-audible request, hoping she would misunderstand enough to repeat what *was* available, she just smiled.

"Still waiting?"

Angel nodded.

She looked at him for another long moment, then shook her head. "Hon...did you ever think he might not be coming?" He'd asked, when he'd first arrived, if she had seen anyone matching his description.

"He'll be here." Angel knew he would. He *had* to. There was too much at stake - pardon the pun - and it was simply inconceivable that he would not come. The world was in danger and there was only way to stop it - criteria so old and worn that he felt he should have simply been able to take an advert out in the paper and have it be done with. Rather than sit here in a loud, smoky, human-filled bar and bide his time waiting for Wesley to show.

"If you say so," the waitress said, a bit sadly, before she moved away from his table without bothering him for an order he did not need.

Angel suspected she'd seen it a thousand times, seen enough stood-up dates to assume she knew and understood, and that her pity was not misdirected. There was no reason to explain to her that this was nothing social, nothing so trivial as a Saturday night spent dancing and drinking and having a good time. The world and its precious goodness was at risk - again - and it required he sit here and wait to make contact with a man he'd not seen in a year.

He knew, from the sound of Wesley's voice on the phone this morning, that Wesley still loved him. He'd not said memories would prevent him from meeting Angel tonight, had said nothing that meant he would let the past prevent him from helping Angel save the world again.

Someday, Angel promised himself as he always did, he would stop taking advantage of that fact. For now, there were more important things to be done, and he could not spare more than a moment to apologise to the man for his behavior and hope that by the next time he was forced to call, Wesley would have found the strength Angel lacked, to say no.