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He'd had a life once, with a vampire with a soul. He'd left everything because he thought he was fighting the good fight, and he was sure it was the right decision. He'd thought, even after he was killed, that it was the right decision, but the sacrifice and the price had been too much. He didn't want it anymore, he didn't want to know them anymore.

He sat at the riverbank staring at the placid waters and realised how far LA was from this place. And he plucked the grass and threw shreds of it in the water as if to scold it for making him remember his past.

But still, he had a feeling that no matter how far he ran, his past would refuse to let go. It came nagging at him when he went through the sums with the children or when they ran shrieking around him with delight at his latest story. It made him laugh, his current life - once upon a time, he did sardonically tell himself that perhaps he should retreat to a village and teach. Which was exactly what he had done.

Of course Father found him immediately, coming in one day after the class was empty. They spent a long minute considering each other before his father finally asked Wesley whether he wanted one of his mother's blue berry pies. Mother had wondered when he would visit the manor again, Father had said. In his own proud way, his father was trying to make amends. Wesley was not sure how to answer him. Instead he said, "Maybe Christmas." That was eleven months away. His father respected that and left him pretty much alone.

"Are you going to keep staring at me, or are you going to say something?" Wesley said as he threw an acorn into the river. The image of the moon rippled again.

Angel sighed and awkwardly sat beside him, crossing his legs. "You're probably wondering how I knew you were alive."

Wesley considered that, and then said: "No. I wasn't." Another acorn into the river.

"Look ... I know I have no excuse to be here-"

"No, you don't," Wesley said queitly. There were a million things he wanted to say to the vampire, and he'd had these three months to sort them all out. His journals were thick with frantic scribblings and pensive sentences - but he had given up trying to figure out what to do with his past. He'd thought, perhaps, he'd just let it be.

"Wesley-" Angel began.

"Shh," he chided, his voice surprisingly gentle in his ears. "You're going to ruin the moment. Watch."

And a minute later, the water rippled and they could see the silvery backs of fish as they frolicked beneath the waters. "They're not really fish you know," Wesley said matter-of-factly in explanation. "Water sprites," he said, giving Angel a smile. "When I was a boy, I always tried to catch one, but touching them always gave me hives."

Angel watched Wesley quietly. In truth he was absorbing the smile he was just given, and hope rose inside him, that perhaps Wesley would forgive him.

A long moment of quiet, then Wesley said: "We did good things together in the past." He was trying to convince himself that it was true. Or perhaps Angel.

Angel looked down, didn't answer.

"And we did horrible things to each other," the vampire said a while later.

Wesley pursed his lips and threw a piece of dry, broken bread from the brown bag beside him. The fish hungrily leapt up for a bite.

"Why ruin this moment anyway," Wesley said in resignation. Then he offered the brown bag to him. "Make sure you throw them into the river. The water sprites will turn into something nasty if they come on shore."

And Angel made sure he did as he was told.




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