Skating Around the Truth
by Wendy

Wesley hit the edge of the pool and noticed Cordelia sitting there. He spun around and continued swimming.

Front crawl. Freestyle. It was hard to breathe because the water got into your mouth, and you never had enough time to take a full breath. His lungs were exploding by the time he got back to her. And he kept going.

"Hello, Wes." She said this time, as he took a few deep breaths and kept going.

"Isn't this kind of pushing it?" She asked the next time he surfaced. "I mean, you are still recovering." His hand automatically found the wound site, and he watched her treading water.

"Hello Cordelia. How are you?" He smiled in the not smiling at all way.

"Just peachy. Want to go shopping?" Her smile was equally as false.

He turned and did another couple of lengths, switching to breaststroke for the final half. "Why do you need to go shopping?" Continuing the pretense that everything was normal, everything was fine. Peachy.

"Why, Wes? This is so last season?" She was wearing a bathrobe, her hair loose around her shoulders. She wasn't wearing makeup. As he watched her, the smile slipped from her face.

"It isn't working, is it Cordy?" Wes clung to the side of the pool.

"Of course it is Wes. We'll smile and joke and everything will be okay."

"It never works that way. I remember Xander and his entire repertoire of stupid jokes and how that all crashed and burned. Some things are just never meant to be joked about."

"Why did the chicken cross." She trailed off into silence. "It just hurts so goddamned much. I never thought that he would matter so much."

They've avoided saying his name for nearly a month now. Cordelia started it, hand up, imperiously ordering them not to say IT. Gunn shrugged and walked off to have a life elsewhere, and that left the two of them, no lives outside saving the world on a daily basis. Or trying to recover from it, at least.

It was nice for Virginia to let them stay in the pool house while she was in Europe. A kind of breaking up favour, a guilt present for cutting Wesley out of her life so quickly. It was a place Angel had never been invited, and they could hide from whatever his Royal Bad Hair Day had become.

And recover.

"This swimming isn't going to help your recovery one bit." Cordelia said. "Gentle exercise is what the doctor said."

"This is gentle." Wesley maintained, hiding the grimace of pain as he pulled himself up and over the side.

"Compared to what?" Cordelia snorted.

"Being shot and going on the run from zombie policemen." Wesley planked himself down on the lounger beside her. "Did you know it's almost Christmas?"

"Mmmm. I've thought about sending cards - hello, your life is better than mine." Cordelia did not look particularly enamoured at the idea.

"This is my first Christmas in LA you know." Wesley looked at the sky mournfully. "I was expecting more sunshine."

"Where were you last year?"

"Somewhere in Mexico. I had gone to see about a cheap flight back home and ran into problems."


"Truck driver. I'd hitched a ride and he decided to let me out a little early. About a hundred miles too early."

They sat in silence for a bit, and then burst into some very uncomfortable laughter. All too soon the brief respite from the gloom was gone.

"I want to forget all about the whole Christmas thing. I want it to be perfect, the way it was during the summer. Everything goes wrong during the winter." Cordelia pointed out.

"I think things just go wrong sometimes."

She could not have told you later why she kissed him there. Perhaps it was the loneliness that even an overabundance of false cheer and hollow hope could not disguise. Or maybe there really was a spark between them still. Perhaps it was just because it was Christmas. But Cordelia, tears pouring down her face, could not have broken the kiss if she had tried.

It didn't take much for her to lean over and capture his lips with hers.

Her tears were caught in the rough stubble that Wesley was sporting, a legacy of the neglect that he had been putting himself through. Her hair was tangled and nearly greasy, and she was careful not lean against any wounds. There seemed to be no passion in their kisses, just a hard lust that drove Wesley to pull her head against his face, and for Cordelia to press her lips near against his teeth.

Wesley roughly tugged the dressing gown from her shoulders, nuzzling her neck and nipping it with his teeth. His hands squeezed automatically when they met her breasts, resulting in Cordelia arching her back and hissing, half in pleasure, half in pain.

Wes dragged her eyes down to look into his once more. "Are you sure?" he asked, half-hoping she'd say no. Cordelia mutely nodded, and wordlessly untied the bathrobe. She was wearing nothing underneath, and Wes felt himself stirred at the sight. Right beside the pool, in the deep midwinter, they fucked the solitude out of each other.

It was cold and uncomfortable when they stopped.

They watched each other panting for a moment, and Cordelia abruptly sat up and dragged the bathrobe around her once more. "I need to have a shower."

"And I should. finish." Wes sounded reassuringly stuffy and British.

"I thought you already did?" Cordy asked archly, all at once seemingly back to her old self.


"Then we've got work to do, bucko. None of this life of the rich and wealthy. We've demons to kill."

"I'll call Gunn." "We need an office." Their action plans clashed in agreement.

They stopped and looked at each other. Cordelia ran her fingers gently along Wesley's lower lip. "Thank you, Wes."

He blushed, unaccountably. "Merry Christmas?" He tried the phrase out without much feeling.

Cordelia giggled, a ton of heartache lifted all at once. "Maybe we should just say that it'll soon be summer."


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