Fandom: Angel the series
Timeline: This is set between episodes 'There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb' (season 2) and 'Heartthrob' (season 3)
Disclaimer: Joss's characters. I've no rights to them or the 'verse. This is just fanfiction.
Summary: A sick Wesley manages- without trying- to lure Fred out of her room.
Notes: Written in a day (on and off) while I was on vacation. This bunny refused to leave me alone.
Fred practically hugged the wall as she glided down the hallway, trying not to be seen by blending into the horrible period wallpaper. The wall felt rough against her cheek but smooth to her fingertips, all of which were jolted slightly each time she reached a door with its wooden moldings and protruding doorknob. But she kept going until she reached one room where the door stood ajar, revealing its contents to her.
There were permanent markers behind both her ears and she pulled one out and fingered it nervously, tugging the cap off, then snapping it back into place. She bit down on it lengthwise and chewed on the plastic while her tongue darted over the smooth surface of its side. It was easier being around people like this. Invisible. Silent. The marking pen kept her from talking, babbling, rambling. But it also kept her hands still, which was also a mark chalked in the pro column. Only a few doors down the hall and her hands were already itching to scribble down the next equations.
Fred peered in to the open room, having been drawn out of her bedroom sanctuary because of the sounds. But she stood to the side so most of her could not be seen.
"Yes, yes," the brown-haired woman was saying. "There's always something to read or translate or decode or whatever. But right now you need to just rest. And whadda you know? Lots of empty rooms here in a hotel." She turned down the covers of the bed and pointed until the man walked to the bed and sat down on the edge.
He had been out of sight until then, and Fred jumped in surprise when he appeared. She knew him but didn't know him as well as she knew the woman. Not that she really knew any of them. But she hadn't mucked stalls beside him or shared a cave with him. Though he was quite handsome. Not handsome like Angel but handsome in his own way. And she didn't think she would have minded mucking or sharing with him.
He reached down and slid his shoes off one at a time. Then he lay down in the bed without changing out of the rest of his clothes. Pressed khakis. A button-down shirt. Brown socks. Glasses.
They'd been there, though. The man with the glasses and the woman. And everyone else. Well, not everyone of course. Most of this world didn't know a thing about Pylea or demon dimensions and it was better that way. But these people did. They all knew. They knew she'd been there. And they had all been there, too. All these humans. And Angel. Angel who'd saved her and brought her back and then left her alone again. Fred closed her eyes tightly and shook her head. She ran her hand through her hair nervously and jumped again when another loud noise startled her.
"Ew, Wes. Tissues. Tissues are here for a reason. Use one. Or a whole bunch. Here."
Fred leaned back over and watched him blow his nose into a whole bunch of tissues. "Whole bunch," Fred whispered, clapping a hand over her mouth so she wouldn't be heard. They hadn't heard, in part because the man was sneezing again. Sneezing a lot. Shaking beneath the covers the woman had pulled up to his neck. He didn't look well at all.
"I'll put on some tea. You'd like that, right?"
The man smiled appreciatively. "All Englishman jokes aside... God, yes please tea. Thank you, Cordelia."
She smiled down at him. "One steaming hot cup of tea coming up."
Realizing the woman was turning and about to walk right towards her, Fred squeaked and fled back to her room. Her safe room. Safe and empty except for words and thoughts and her.
Immediately she touched her marker to the wall and began to scribble out in tiny letters her stream of consciousness. She'd been brave to leave her room, and nothing bad had happened to her. And these people seemed so friendly. But it was still safer in the room. Still easier to read words rather than faces. Still easier to trust equations. People only let you down. Like Angel. She scribbled down more.
It was a while before she ventured out again. When she did, it was because she heard more sounds. More voices. More sneezes.
But not the woman's voice. The woman. Cordlia. Cordy. Names were funny. Fred'd had a name. Had it again now. Even if it still sounded strange to hear coming out of someone else's mouth instead of echoing around in her head. Everything made so much more sense inside her head. Or written down. Hard to disagree with things when they were written down and worked out. Hard to forget them, too.
"Wes, just let me get your temperature. You know I can take you in a fight if it comes to that."
Wes. Wesley. That was his name. Cordelia... Wesley...
Cordelia... Wesley... Charles. These names sounded nice in her head. Not exactly familiar, but nice. Pleasant. She peeked back into the room. Wesley was sitting up in bed, back against several pillows. Charles was hovering over him the way Cordelia had been.
"I'm not feverish. It's just a touch of cold."
The other man frowned. "Prove it, English."
The man in bed gave a labored sigh. "Very well. But if I should sneeze..."
Charles plucked tissues out of the box, one by one. Fred counted eight before he stopped. Had enough. Was ready. He raised the thermometer and was just about to insert it when Wesley did sneeze. Viciously. Multiple times. After the first, he reached blindly for the tissues Charles offered, then buried the lower half of his face in them. "Hehh-CHSHHHH! hahChphhh! ehhhChufffff! hehhChuhmphhh! KShmphhh! Chiffff!" Fred covered her mouth again, as well, smiling.
As he blew his nose, Charles slid his hand across Wesley's forehead. Dark skin and light skin and touch. Comforting touch. Charles paused, considering. He looked sweet when he was thinking. "You're right. Not feverish."
"Yes," Wesley sniffled, agreeing with a nod. "Just a cold in my nose."
Fred giggled silently. That was cute. People didn't say that sort of thing in Texas. And definitely didn't say that in Pylea. Of course, people weren't really supposed to say anything in Pylea.
"EhyChooo!" Wesley snapped in half, then slid down under his blankets again.
"Bless," said Charles, patting some part of Wesley's upper body through the blankets. "Maybe you should try going to sleep? Unless you need something else?"
Wesley shook his head. "Thank you, no. A nap sounds like just the thing. Thank you, Charles."
"Yeah. Sleep well, then," he said with a shrug and began to move to leave.
Again, Fred darted back to her room before she could be spotted. She stood just inside, against the back of her closed and locked door. Her fingers scratched noiselessly at the writing-covered wood. Symbols and pictures and words. Things with meanings. Things put together to create more things.
Her heart beat fast, racing wildly as heavy footsteps came down the hallway towards her. They grew louder and louder and Fred twitched, resisting the instinct to cover her ears and crouch down in the far corner.
"Fred?" Charles. Saying her name. It actually didn't sound so strange this time. Though it still made her jumpy. Had he seen her? Would he make her come out? "We're ordering Mexican tonight. Getting the same thing as last time, if that's all right with you?"
There was a knock once for 'yes' and twice for 'no' system in place which seemed to work quite well. But after two courageous and successful times outside her room today, Fred felt brave enough to answer back in words. "That'd be fine!" She actually felt giddy to speak to him. Even if it was through the door.
Dinner came very shortly after, and she devoured it hungrily while staring up at her partially-covered walls. She considered making a space on the wall just for names, but felt it might fit over the doorway a bit better. She left her empty cartons and wrappers on the floor just outside her door and waited to hear them taking the trash away before she left her room again.
It was curiosity that compelled her, and made her ignore her fear and that nagging voice reminding her that the world was scary and unpredictable and filled with things like nice-looking books containing words that opened up portals to demon dimensions. But as she stood shrinking in the open doorway of the room down the hall, she realized there was nothing to fear here. He couldn't hurt her. He was helpless. Just a man asleep in bed with a bad head cold.
A man. A Brittish man. An angelic man. A man who was hugging a book as he slept, probably having fallen asleep reading it; she knew that feeling. A man with soft features and brown hair and glasses. Glasses while he slept. That wouldn't do. That was a good way to break glasses was what that was.
Fred checked over her shoulder to be sure no one was there, watching. Then she reached down and slid his glasses off his face. She gripped them at the bridge, pulling them down his nose. The ends followed, coming off his ears and sliding against his cheeks. He twitched at the sensation and sniffled. And for a moment it looked like just a quick disturbance. She folded the glasses neatly and set them down on the nightstand with care. But then his nose gave a good twitch and he came awake with a strong, violent sneeze. "Ehhhgiihshhhhhh!"
When he opened his eyes afterwards he was staring straight at her. She held her breath and remained motionless. Sometimes when she did that, monsters couldn't see her. And this man needed glasses, after all. So she stood a good chance of getting away unnoticed yet again.
Seconds later, he relaxed with a sigh, closing his eyes. "Thank you, Fred," he whispered, then fell back to sleep.
A smile brightened her face. She reached out and gently touched his forehead with her fingertips. He was warm and it felt strange to touch someone else. She'd touched Angel, but he hadn't been warm. Not like this.
Feeling encouraged, she reached down and slid his book out from his clutches as well. She set it on the nightstand, too, and then ran her hands through his hair ever so gently. "Feel better, Wesley." Then, still smiling, she snuck back to her room and picked up her marker again.