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Written for the third round of maleslashminis: Xander. I wrote a backup story for speakingsilence, who requested Xander/Wesley, a mistake made, a photograph, and set before S7.

Title: Where the Compass Fell
Author: voleuse
Fandom: BtVS/Angel
Pairing: Xander/Wesley
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Bullets in slow-motion mapping the hunter's arc.
Notes: Set during BtVS S5/Ats S2.



The number in Willow's address book has been scratched out, then rewritten a few times. Angel Investigations. Xander knows, vaguely, that they've had to move. He's never been there himself, never tried to call. He's never thought they would need any of the Los Angeles crew.

But he knows exactly where the number is in Willow's address book. If he closes his eyes, he can picture it, the curlicue and scrawl of blue ink.

One morning, after a marathon research session, Xander leans against his kitchen wall. He picks up his phone, and he dials.

No one picks up that first time.

That afternoon, Xander calls again.

*


Wesley picks up the phone on the third ring, and it takes Xander a moment to adjust.

"Hello?" Wesley asks to the silence, three long seconds after his first, professionally-toned greeting.

Xander coughs, then jumps in. "Sorry. I was expecting Cordelia."

"Xander?" Another second, fumbling against the earpiece. "I think she's gone to an audition, but I could take a message."

"It's no problem," Xander says. "Well, yeah. I'd like that. But I was calling for you."

"Really?"

"Yeah." Xander taps at his kitchen counter, next to his notebook from the night before. "Giles said you were the go-to guy for Sumerian. A go-to guy, anyway. Maybe not the."

"I'm sorry?" Wesley's shuffling something on the other end. "I don't quite understand."

"We were doing research last night, and I found something." There's a word scribbled in another language in Xander's notebook. He underlines it twice. "After I read it out loud, it disappeared."

"Ah." It sounds like Wesley's smiling, now. "I've heard there are some tomes that resist profligate dissemination."

"If that means what I think it means, yeah." Xander taps the word again. "Giles said that's what it was, too."

"Unfortunately, I doubt I'm familiar with your particular text."

"I remember it," Xander interrupts. "I can see it. I just can't understand it."

"I see." Wesley exhales. "Can you drive down to Los Angeles?"

"It's no rush, really." Xander drums his fingers against the notebook. "But yeah. I think I will."

*


They meet at a rickety diner, Wesley's brief explanation in regards to the actual agency involving the words "demons" and "oozing guts." Xander pokes at his hash browns and finds his appetite still surprisingly healthy.

While Wesley nurses a tepid cup of tea, Xander flips through his notebook and points out what he's been able to recapture. Stapled to the sheet is a photo of the book's spine, taken as part of Miss Calendar's archiving project, years back.

Giles said the book had been labeled back then. The words had faded from the photograph, too.

Wesley surveys the information and frowns. "You never should have read this aloud."

"So I've been told." Xander takes a second to swig his coffee. "At least this time I didn't set the book on fire." Wesley looks askance at the comment, and Xander shrugs. "I've matured."

Wesley laughs into his tea, then traces Xander's scribblings with his fingers. Slowly, like a caress. "Hm."

Xander leans back in his bench, and already he feels relieved. But he asks the question anyway.

"Can you help me?"

Wesley looks up at him, finally, and grins.

"It would be a pleasure."


###

A/N: Title and summary adapted from Timothy Liu's Winter. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
mireille719
Oct. 30th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing this. I loved Xander and Wesley's interaction here.
moodfic
Oct. 30th, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
electricalgwen
Oct. 31st, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
"It's no rush, really." Xander drums his fingers against the notebook. "But yeah. I think I will."

Very enjoyable. I like the subtlety of their interaction, and Xander's relief just at being with Wesley. The words fading from the photograph is a nice touch.
moodfic
Nov. 5th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
nowlive
Nov. 4th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
See - this is the greatest kind of story. One that leaves one screaming, begging, wishing for more. Brava. Thanks for posting.
moodfic
Nov. 5th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
callmesandy
Jan. 15th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
Really enjoyable!!
moodfic
Jan. 15th, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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