Summary: "It isn't easy to be the one who survives."
Rating: NC-17
Story Notes: Wesficathon entry for s.a.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Fox, ME, etc..

Angel kept giving her these looks. Expectant, as if his forever had come today - and she just couldn't deal with him. They'd come to the hotel because they couldn't think of anywhere else to go. Everyone was battle weary, shell-shocked, whatever, and none of them knew what to do next. But things seemed a little strange here in L.A., what with Angel and his friends running Wolfram & Hart.

She still couldn't quite believe Spike was gone. If Angel hadn't given her the amulet, or maybe if she hadn't given it to Spike - no, the what ifs would only drive her crazy.

She ended up spending lots of time in the sunny part of the garden, because Angel couldn't follow her there. He could, of course, stay in the shade - but he seemed to take the hint. And one day when she was sitting in the sun, he joined her there.

He was so different from the guy who'd annoyed them all in Sunnydale years ago. It made sense, somehow, that he would be different. The world was different. Spike was gone. Sunnydale was gone. And Wes was different. "Am I disturbing you?"

Buffy shrugged, and he sat.

"How are you holding up?" he asked.

She shrugged again. "My home is gone, and so's - "

"Your man?"

She eyed him quizzically.

"Angel may have said a thing or two, without really meaning to."

Buffy gave a laugh. "I bet he did."

"I also recently...lost someone." Buffy liked his voice, now. Not the supercilious, namby-pamby Watcher voice of yore - but something diamond hard, yet soft, too. Also something tired, something that wanted to lie down and rest. Or maybe that was just her. She could rest, of course, if she wanted to.

Suddenly she realized Wes was watching her, waiting for her to reply. "Sorry," she said. "I've been...spacing out a bit, lately."

"That's understandable." There was something intimate about his voice. Maybe that was because he spoke so quietly now. It drew you in. The general you, she hastened to tell herself. It didn't draw her in. She was un-draw-in-able. She was grieving.

But he was grieving too? "You said you'd lost someone," she said. "Who...?"

"Lilah. She worked for Wolfram & Hart. Cordelia killed her."

"God, I'm sorry." At least Spike had chosen his death. "She worked for Wolfram & Hart? So she was - "

"She worked on the side of evil. Yet, as it turns out, she cared about me. Loved me, even."

"I can relate. Before Spike regained his soul - " She stopped herself. "Sorry. You're trying to tell me something, and I'm bringing it back to me. Self-absorbed, as always."

He smiled slightly. His mouth drew her gaze - his lips, his beard stubble. How he'd gone from prissy to rugged in a few short years boggled the mind. "I wouldn't say that, Buffy. You did just save the world, after all. That's not exactly self-absorbed. It's rather altruistic, really."

"Well, I am in the world," she said, and quirked a smile.

Just then Angel appeared in the window. When he saw them, he frowned - or, rather, his frown deepened. Then he moved off.

"Jesus," Buffy said, "could he be any more ridiculous? I swear, if I live to be a little old lady with grandchildren, he's still gonna be giving me these looks, like how dare I have a life without him? When that was supposedly what he wanted, why he left me in the first place."

"You think Angel is jealous of my talking to you?" His smile grew more intense - and god, there was something really sexy about it. And that was so not a thought she should be having - when she was mourning the loss of her love, while her previous love was being all weird. But heck, the guy was hot. He just was. He didn't used to be, but now...

"I've been kinda avoiding him. Which is a bit ungrateful, considering he took us all in and gave us someplace to stay. It's just, I've moved on. Maybe I didn't make that clear to him, last time I saw him. Maybe I didn't realize it myself."

"I understand."

If they both understood so much, why were they staring at each other? And why did she keep looking at his mouth?

Maybe it was because she was alive. She'd almost died - they'd all almost died - and Spike had died, but she was alive. Her life was wide open, for the first time in forever. It made her feel a little crazy - but maybe not in a bad way.

She leaned forward and kissed him. His stubble scratched her face, but his lips were soft, his mouth was warm.

When he broke away, he looked surprised - but not very. He gazed warily at her.

"Sorry," she said. "I'm a bit loopy. Home going into a crater, overabundance of Slayers, drunk-with-freedom-in-spite-of-grief, you know?"

He gave her just a flash of smile - she watched it fade. He grabbed her and kissed her.

They hurried through the lobby and took the elevator up to her room, glad they didn't run into Angel or any of their friends. She locked the door and was about to throw him down on the bed, but he beat her to it.

She liked the way his beard growth scratched her face. She liked the way he filled her. She wasn't all that wet and it made her sore, and she liked that too. She was alive - the pain, the pleasure, that's what it meant. He was on top of her, ramming inside. Then she was on top, and he was rubbing her clit roughly, and it hurt and it felt good, and she was gasping and coming.

She lay atop him while he thrust up into her. His skin was satiny and hot - hot, not like his. It felt like another act entirely.

Wes held her loosely, after. "Was she - " Buffy asked. "I mean, the last time you were with someone - "

"Yes," he said. "And you?"

"Yes. We were together the night before he died." The tears seized her then, hot down her cheeks. The tears felt good, too.

He kissed her wet cheek. "It isn't easy to be the one who survives," he said.

"But I'm glad to be alive," she said. "Are you?"

He pondered. "Sometimes." He smiled, and stroked her back. "At the moment, yes." They kissed.

"I guess we better take a shower - I mean, individually," Buffy said. "Otherwise he'll smell us on each other, and then we'll have hell to pay."

"Or an inordinate amount of brooding to endure," Wes said.

"I'd rather deal with actual violence," she said with a grin, and kissed him one last time before she bounded out of bed.