Title: Only Natural (1/1)
Author: Zahra (frans_angel@hotmail.com)
Feedback: Yes, damnit (thatís my way of saying please)
Spoiler: Welcome to AtS S3 ĎHeartthrobí.
Rating: PG (m/m implied)
Pairing: W/A; W/G
Disclaimer: If I owned Ďem I wouldnít be messing around with this, now would I?
Dedication: To Kass for being her inspirational, hard-ass self. To Yvette and Paul for laughing AT me and WITH me, and to Lar because Iím glad sheís home now.
Summary: Angelís been away. Things change.
Notes: I couldnít write for three months and now I need a sodding Dictaphone to keep up with my muses - wankers.

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The calendar in his apartment is small. Ansel Adams. Black and white photographs taken of various locations throughout California. Yosemite. Tahoe.

Landscapes. Simple. Beautiful. Just the sort of places one would go to contemplate the meaning of life, or unlife.

Itís not the sort of calendar people would expect Wesley to have. It seems more appropriate that he perhaps have one displaying various patterns of tea crockery or the silver jubilee of the Queen. But no.

He chose this one.

Just something about it appealed to him. Heís learned not to question decisions of this sort. The natural ones. They are so rare and far between that he relishes them. Just lets them happen. Like his life with Gunn. It just happened. Crept up on him unexpectedly.

Perhaps it was only natural. Only a matter of time. Even if it didnít feel that way in the beginning.

When Angel first went away, Wesley would mark the days on this calendar. Not the large desk blotter than sits in their office - correction: his office - but this small calendar on his kitchen wall at home.

Marking the calendar in the office would have been too obvious. Too tragically unrequited - even by his standards. He might as well have worn a sign around his neck that blinked in luminous neon and announced that he was pining. It was too blatant for him, even if everyone already knew.

Assumption is one thing; verification is another.

So, he kept it quiet. Carried on. Did what he does best - kept his head down and got on with business. Immersed himself in his work. But he always counted the days.

The first mark appeared when Angel announced that he was going to Sri Lanka - not the day that he left.

Wesley chose the day of the announcement because it was then that he knew for sure that he had lost him. He had been fairly certain after the news of her death that whatever had been between them was over, but perhaps he had harbored a hope that they would eventually be able to work through it.

But his decision to go to the other side of the world rather than stay in Los Angeles. That really was the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

No diagram was necessary. Angel wasnít going to stay and let his friends tend his wounds and tiptoe around his volatility. Wasnít going to stick around and let Wesley play nursemaid.

He chose that day because it was then that he knew for sure that Angel was leaving. Just as he always knew he would. Of course he said he was coming back, but people always say theyíre coming back.

Wesley didnít necessarily doubt Angelís word, but he was hedging his bets. After all, from a certain viewpoint, he had nothing to come back for. Of course there was the agency and his destiny, but the destiny part probably didnít seem as appealing when the woman he wanted to spend it with was six feet under.

And so Angel left. Left him. Left them. Left America to go and meditate. To find peace of mind and tranquility. Wesley wished for a long time that he had gone with him. Or if not with him, then at least instead of him. It would have been nice to find some inner peace.

But he didnít.

Instead of going to the Far East, he read his tomes and beheaded demons. Instead of leaving, he stayed and got on with it and marked the days.

The marks he made werenít large. Nothing obvious like the scrawling Xís that Cordelia uses to count between paychecks. His indicators were small. Just a minute reminder - a small cross to note another day that had passed without Angel. Another day of monotony and going through the motions till he could be alone and partake in his own special kind of brooding.

After he made the cross by the date, he would stand there, by the refrigerator, and study the photographs.

Wishing he was there. Wishing he was here.

When the first thirty days passed, it hurt. He hadnít had a word from him. When the second thirty passed he became resigned, and determined. He could only allow so much self-depreciation. Somewhere it had to stop. And so it did. And while Angel was working through his grief, so was Wesley.

By the end of the third month, Wesley had stopped counting the days altogether.

He doesnít quite remember when it was that he started missing days. He remembers he missed one the night that he spent at the hotel and another when he stayed with Gunn. When he came home the next morning, he simply forgot to mark the day.

And then there was another night spent with Gunn and then another. And the calendar just didnít seem quite as important as it was before. It began to appear pathetic. Unjustified.

The first time that Gunn spent the night at his apartment, Wesley caught him looking at the crosses. At the days he had been waiting. He couldnít begin to explain. Gunn never even asked him to. Simply changed the subject. Moved on. And so did Wesley.

It was only natural.

-finis-


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