Liz Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: Theyíre not mine, stop asking!
Distribution: list archives, whichever of my sites I
put it on.
Pairing: Angel/everyone (in a friendly way), Wes/Gunn
Summary: Takes place just after Angelís slated
apocolypse, Wes, Gunn, Cordy have to deal.
Notes: The poem is ĎO Captain! My Captainí by Walt
Thanks: To Ames for the handholding, support and beta,
Shirlz for her beta, and Walt Whitman, without whom I
would not have been inspired to write this.
Challenge in a Can: Wesley- Shirt- Furious
Improv: Orange- Air- Dark- Chime
"I think Iím beginning to understand this now- it's
all about the journey, isnít it?"
-Giles in Restless
"O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done;
the ship has weathered every rack, the prize we saught
the port is near, the bells I hear, all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and
My Captain cannot answer; his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse or
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."
Wesley nodded once to Cordelia. "Cordelia," he said
softly, touching her on the shoulder when she didnít
move. She finally looked up at him, clutching the urn
so tightly, unwilling to let it go. As if it could hug
her back... "Cordelia, itís time."
Keeping her face blank she pulled open the lid and
turned it upside down.
They watched in silence as the wind picked up the
ashes and made them swirl in the sir, giving one last
morbid dance before flying off to parts unknown.
Cordelia pulled the urn back to her chest and cast her
eyes inside the vase and turned it upside down again,
shaking it this time- then shaking it again harder
when the last pieces of dust remained inside. She gave
a cry of frustration and after several more angry
shakes she hurled the vase as hard as she could into
A look of surprise and pain crossed her face with such
intensity that Gunn had the sudden urge to lunge for
it, deadly cliffs be damned.
"No!" her scream echoed, bouncing along the waves and
changing the tone so that when it came back it was
laughing and mocking like wind chimes or children
playing from far away, almost gleeful with her grief.
She sank heavily to her knees and Wesley rested a
gentle hand on her shoulder the two men watched,
helpless, as she cried in big, loud, gasping-for-air
Wesley looked over at Gunn worriedly but said nothing.
The ride home was silent, each so lost in the comfort
of companionship, the distraction of their own
thought, the mind-numbing grief, and the fear that all
three would end with the car ride.
They hadnít seen each other in four days. (Four days?
Had it only been four days?) Four days since Angel
averted the apocalypse, four days since LA was reduced
to rubble, four days since Angel died...
It was Wesley who had extended the olive branch. He
had slipped a note under Cordelia's door (hers was one
of the very few neighborhoods not destroyed). He
hadnít quite known what to write.
I've knocked on your door for the past two days. I
know you're in there. I gathered Angel's ashes and
I'll be by your house tomorrow just before sunset.
Though Gunn had been more difficult, at least he had
spoken to him face to face. Well, face to face
whenever Gunn would look at him. He seemed too busy
cleaning up his gangs hotel (a last gift from Angel)
to care about saying goodbye to Angel but he was there
the next day, waiting for Wesley to pull up, saying
nothing more than, 'I'd rather mourn alone'.
Neither he nor Cordelia had said anything about the
fact that Wesley was driving Angel's car and for that
Wesley was grateful.
Wesley pulled up in front of Cordeliaís apartment and
put on the brake.
No one moved.
"Have you called Buffy yet?" asked Wesley finally.
"No." Her voice was hoarse. "The phones are still out,
He hadnít forgotten.
"I was, um, going to go home for a while. Give up my
lease and stuff."
Wesley and Gunn turned to her.
"Leave? You canít just leave."
"What about the visions?"
Cordelia glared at Wesley. "Fuck the goddamn visions,
Wesley. The guy they were intended for is dead. I
don't even know if I'm getting them anymore." She
opened the door and stepped a foot out. "Fuck the
goddamn visions." She got out and slammed the door.
"Cordelia," Wesley called to her. She stopped but
didnít turn around. "Grab some things," he said
finally. "Weíll all go down there for a couple of
days. You may decide Sunnydale still isn't where you
want to be and thereís no point in giving up all
this," he gestured to the pile of rubble that used to
be LA. "when you may change your mind."
She gave him a tired, non-committal smile, and slowly
walked into the building.
"Iím glad she's doin' so good," said Gunn sincerely.
Wesley gave him a curious look in the rear view
mirror. "You're talking about Cordelia?"
Gunn nodded. "At least she's letting it out, you know?
Unlike a lover of his I could mention who hasn't shed
Wesley's jaw tightened. A million comebacks raced
through his mind like- how did Gunn know... and Gunn
didn't appear to be grieving either... This was not
something he wanted to be discussing so he chose the
quickest end to the conversation. "Thatís *former*
lover and it's really none of your business how I
grieve." His hands gripped the steering wheel tighter.
"Yeah, you're right... Only problem is, you ain't
"I'm English. This *is* how we grieve."
"Bullshit. You been in America for eight years now-
you officially became a citizen five years ago. You
ain't English no more. I know how this story goes:
you bottle it up like this- eventually youíre going to
release it and that release may get you killed."
Cordelia came out just then with a small bag of
"We donít discuss this in front of Cordelia," Wesley
whispered intently. "Or ever," he muttered as he
helped Cordelia put her bag in the back seat.
Wesley waited patiently as Cordelia got herself
situated before pulling away from the curb.
Getting out of LA was tougher it sounded. The
aftermath of an apocalypse was spread all over the
streets rendering many of them undriveable.
Wesley picked his way carefully through the traffic
and rubble and within the hour they were on a highway
that bordered a cliff and the ocean.
Wesley stared blankly at the dark road in front of
him. This was what life would be like from now on.
Just a dark road with no end (or anything else,
really) in sight. Life no longer held a purpose
without the apocalypse to prepare for. He glanced over
at Cordelia, and then Gunn in the rearview mirror.
They were still so young though you couldn't tell it
from their faces. The weight of death and depression
hung on them making them seem centuries older than
their birth years.
He had to take care of them now. Had to make sure
Cordelia started eating again and Gunn didnít go
running off to find his death in some
too-absurd-to-be-noble cause. It was all up to him...
Gunn leaned his head back and stared at the sky,
grateful Wesley had left the top down on the
convertable. It was a full moon tonight, so full and
looked ready to burst. So bright it tinted the sky
around it blue. He couldn't remember the last time
he'd seen the stars; this sky at night almost didn't
seem real. Like at any moment the fantasy someone
painted would be torn down from the sky leaving only
the murky burnt orange tinted clouds heíd always grown
up with. All an illusion... A part of him hated this
sky for all its beauty. Why should it choose to hide
itself from him and all the other people he's worked
with for the past six years? Why should it be denied
them after all theyíd done... all theyíd sacrificed?
All they'd sacrificed. He couldnít feel the kind of
pain over just Angel's death the way Cordelia and
Wesley were. He'd lost too many people to focus on one
death. Anne was gone. He sometimes felt that Anne was
so much the better person- while Gunn was out killing
evil Anne was saving lives. There's a difference. She
dealt in life, Gunn was always in death.
A couple of days ago heíd set out on a little
pilgramage. Determined to visit the places his friends
had died. Both to say his goodbyes and to make sure he
knew where they all were. Maps burned into his memory.
If he were truly honest with himself heíd admit that
he'd spent the longest time at Angel's site. He knew
what had happened the first time Angel was killed and
part of him hoped if he hung around long enough...
Gunn crossed his arms against his chest and closed his
eyes, trying to get some sleep.
Cordelia leaned her head to the side, resting it on
the door. The ocean was loud enough to be heard over
the car and the white noise was a comfort, it let her
mind wander without the sense that it was going
anywhere. Images floated through her mind without her
having to control them. Things from years back, long
since forgotten, came in uninvited.
Seeing Angel for the first time... the party in LA
where sheíd seen him again... Doyleís death... her
first in a long line of visions... waking from her
Vocah demon induced vision-catatonia... so many, many
more... And in all those memories, woven like a golden
thread (a broody, scowly, golden thread), was Angel.
What would life be like now that he wasn't there
making her day miserable? Always there to point out
that the silver lining around the clouds was just more
She had secretly, whenever she had a spare moment,
been making a list of all the things she wanted to
show him when he became human. Rollercoaster rides and
morning glories and picnics and all those things he'd
had hints of in his years of redemption but had never
really had. She still had the list tucked inside her
bra, unable to throw it away.
There was a loud roar as the ocean claimed her
attention again. And she watched it rise and fall,
rise and fall... coming closer and closer before
slipping away quickly and quietly with nothing more
than a whisper to announce its departure. In with a
roar, out with a whisper.
They'd thrown Angel's ashes in that very ocean.
Letting the winds take them wherever winds take the
ashes of the dead. Maybe they were all in one place
sitting and waiting to be found, laughing at the great
cosmic joke that had thought to put them there...
Cordelia straightened her head up suddenly. "Stop the
"Stop the car, Wes. Now."
Wesley pulled over to the side of the road and put the
car in park.
Cordelia stared at the ocean for a long time before
opening the door. "Nothing's wrong I just- there's
just something I have to do." She stepped out of he
car and began walking along the edge of the cliff.
Wesley and Gunn both rose up simultaneously, looking
over the top of the windshield.
"Hey, Cordy, where you goin'?" called Gunn.
"I'm looking for a-" she pointed at something between
the trees. "that." She said as she disappeared down
the path to the ocean.
Gunn hopped out of the car and went to follow her.
"Where the hell is she-"
"Let her go," said Wesley sinking back into the
drivers seat. "She needs to be alone right now. She
has to deal with this in her own way."
Gunn walked back to the car. "Maybe you should follow
her example," he muttered as he leaned against the
front of the car.
"You just won't let it go, will you?" asked Wesley
stepping out of the car.
Gunn just shrugged and crossed his arms. "Whatever
man. All I'm saying is that it won't hurt anything to
let out some of those feelings youíve been holding
Wesley looked at him. "Since when did you become the
break down and share type, Gunn? And if I fell apart
like the two of you did, who would be there to take
care of the aftermath? Bandaging your wounds, wrapping
her wrist?" His voice was raised louder than he had
intended but he was too upset to care and he jerked
off his glasses and turned his fury on Gunn. "Who
would have picked up Angel's ashes? Who would have
cleaned up Angel's hotel so that you and your little
troop can move in? Who would have put his things in
boxes to bring to Buffy? Who saw to it David and Anne
were buried and that all of those people got out of
the building? Who would do all those things, Gunn?
Certainly not you or Cordelia. You're too busy all of
a sudden and she's currently going through a nervous
breakdown I donít think I can pull her out of. So who
does it Gunn? Someone has to keep their head or
nothing around here gets done. Someone has to keep
their head or people die- ANGEL dies."
He looked down at his hands in frustration both
wishing that they could snatch that last sentence and
hide it away again and hoping for something throwable
to appear but all that was in them were his glasses
and he couldn't throw those. No. Sensible Wesley,
practical Wesley knew that while throwing them would
feel good right now once it was done his glasses would
be smashed or scratched beyond usage- he needed them
"That's what this is all about? You think it's your
fault that Angel died?"
Wesley stepped forward so that their noses were almost
touching, eyes burning with intensity and unshed tears
and barely controlled anger. "I was responsible,
Gunn," he whispered with deadly intensity. "There are
a thousand and one reasons why he died and they all
have me as the catalyst."
Gunn was already shaking his head. "No, man. It wasn't
your fault. No one thinks that and you know why? Cause
it's bullshit. You would have given your life to save
Angel- don't know how smart you are for that but it's
"I may not see him through the rose coloured glasses I
started out with but I still know heís a greater man
than I and that if I could I would take his place
right now so that he could live."
Gunn looked at him strangely. "He wasn't a man. He was
a vampire and if he were to have turned back into a
human after the apocalypse he would not have been any
different than you or I. Well, 'cept we have better
social skills. And this thing that youíre doing, this
trying to take Angel's place- donít. Don't try cause
you can't ever live up to the Angel that runs around
in your head."
Anger, guilt, and grief gone in an instant as Wesley
refused to meet Gunnís eyes anymore. "I don't know
what you're talking about."
"Come on, Wes. The car, the clothes... you mean to
tell me you picked out that outfit without Angel in
mind? You donít even own a black shirt."
"I just canít help it," Wesley whispered finally. "I
don't *want* to be Angel. I donít want to drive around
in this car that reminds me of him every five seconds,
I donít want all this pain I have inside that I can't
do anything about, I donít want my dearest friends to
hurt as much as they do and most of all I don't want
the knowledge that it's only going to get worse. But I
still do it. It's the only thing I have to do now." He
sucked in a breath of air, uncertain what to do next.
He scratched at his cheek only to find tears on his
face, which he rubbed at self-consciously with the
back of his hand feeling every bit the ten-year-old
with a skinned knee.
Their eyes met and a thread of understanding stretched
between them. Gunn opened his arms and Wesley went
into them gratefully. It was the first physical
contact he'd had in days and he found his body had
been aching for it.
The tears came finally. Gunn said nothing in that time
only held on tightly, never wavering in the intensity
of the hug. Wesley straightened up and pulled out his
handkerchief, dabbing at his eyes.
"My mind has been so focused on the apocalypse and how
to aid Angel that now that itís over..."
"Youíre feeling lost?"
Wesley nodded. "Yeah."
They hugged again briefly and when Wesley pulled back
their eyes met.
Gunn leaned forward and pressed his lips to Wesley's.
There was an instant when he didn't respond, when the
shock of what Gunn was doing stopped his mind. But it
was only and instant and Wesley soon recovered enough
to return the kiss with the same intensity, the same
quiet *need*. It wasn't full of passion orfumbling
fingers at waistbands, but the gentle
I'm-here-and-I-care old lovers give to one another.
They broke apart, finally when their lips were too
numb from the pressure to do anything more than
"I- I didn't know you..." Wesley trailed off, unsure
how to complete the sentence.
"Swing that way?" supplied Gunn with a grin.
"No. I mean, I didn't know that but I was going to
say, 'cared for me.' Why didnít you... tell me?"
Gunn shrugged, arms still around Wesleyís waist. "It
was always the wrong time. First I didn't even know if
you were, then you were with Angel, then you were
coming off a pretty intense relationship... then Angel
"What made you..."
Gunn shrugged again. "It just occurred to me that
there would never be a good time. That any time I
chose would be the best."
Wesley looked at Gunn uncertain what to say or do
next. "I wish you would have told me. I-" He was cut
off suddenly by a rustling of branches as Cordelia
burst through a patch of trees that was decidedly not
the path she went down on.
They broke away self consciously, hoping she was too
concerned with picking leaves out of her hair to see
Angelís former lover embracing another man just days
after his death.
When she looked at Wesley her eyes were clear and the
gray that had tinged her face for the past week was
"Are you all right?" he asked her quietly so as not to
disturb her mood.
She passed up the two men and sat in the passenger
seat. "I'm much better than I was."
Wesley looked at Gunn. The back of his mind was
whispering to him about how the suicidal are always
very cheerful a day or so before they kill themselves.
"Um, are you guys coming or are you going to make out
some more? Cause if so I'm driving and you two can get
in the back seat."
Wesley stared at her for a moment, opened mouthed.
"Yes, uh, right. No thank you, I know your driving."
Wesley and Gunn returned to the car and after a moment
of situating themselves Wesley pulled out onto the
There was silence in the car again but of a different
kind. They seemed to drive now with more hope. Angel
was dead, yes; Buffy would have to be told, yes; the
coming days would be just as hard as the last few but
stillÖ Perhaps it was the return of Cordelia's
cheerful personality or the fact that Wesley and Gunn
seemed to be starting something. Maybe it was the fact
that the sky was at its darkest- inky black that
threatened to wink out the stars- a sure sign the sun
was soon to rise.
Wesley's mind was racing, wondering what brought about
Cordeliaís sudden about face. Did she get a vision?
Perhaps of Angel dropping down from heaven like he did
all those years ago... no, not heaven, hell. Angel had
been in hell. Still, he might return. Perhaps...
"I said goodbye to him," she said finally, breaking
the silence. "I know that's what his funeral was for
and everything but I donít know, I guess I just needed
a little more time."
"I didnít mean to push you," said Wesley quietly. "I
was just worried."
She smiled. "I know. I was doing my Anne Frank
impression a little to long- my tan was stating to
fade, it was time I got out. I just needed a kick in
the butt." She stopped for a moment, mentally getting
back on track. "I'd been making a list for him- of all
the beautiful things you can only see in the light of
day... I gave it to him when I was down at the ocean."
She stared out at the ocean again, seemingly finished
with her story.
"Gave it to him?"
"Gave it to him, as in, I ripped it up into little
pieces and threw it into the ocean. Maybe it'll get
back to him or maybe it'll kill a couple of fish." She
gave them a moment to let that sink in before
continuing. "Heís not coming back. I'd convinced
myself he would, you know, cause he never got to
"Shanshu," Wesley dutifully corrected.
"Whatever, he never got to. He wasn't human for even
a tenth of a second. But I think- no, I *know* he's
getting a reward elsewhere. I can feel it. Sitting
there next to all the pain and anger and sadness is a-
a sense of *rightness*." She looked at them. "You guys
must feel it to."
Wesley nodded slowly. He'd always assumed the feeling
was due to the fact that he aided in averting the
apocolypse, but now...
The silence that had taken up residence in the car had
changed. It was no longer a heavy weight reminding
them of all the things said and unsaid.
"Welcome to Sunnydale. Enjoy your stay," read Gunn as
they entered the town.
Wesley pulled into Buffy's driveway and turned off the
car. No one moved. "I should tell her," said Wesley
"Fine with me," said Cordelia a little too quickly.
"Me too," said Gunn.
No one moved.
"Does she know... about you and Angel?" asked Cordelia
"I never told her but... Angel may have. Though when
he and I were together they didnít talk much."
"Afterward I didn't ask," said Wesley. The
conversation being uncomfortable enough to make him
open the door and get out of the car. Cordelia and
Gunn followed suit.
Wesley looked up at the sky. The sun was soon to come
up. Angel had seen many a sunset but sunrises were
rare for him.
Already there were flecks of light blue and pink and
orange in the sky like drops of paint on an empty
canvas. It always amazed him how even though a sunrise
was just a sunset backwards the colours were so
different it was impossible not to tell them apart.
Sunsets were fire, destroyers of the day, pulling the
night into existence; Sunrises were gold, gently
tickling their way into your life, kindly asking if
the sun could please come up.
He was procrastinating and he knew it. With a sigh he
closed the car door and the three of them, legs heavy
and minds racing, stepped onto Buffyís porch just as
the first rays of sunlight peeked over the trees.