Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Put Away Childish Things
Battlestar Galactica
Horatio Hornblower
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

Once, he hears Cordelia complaining about jogging in dirty city parks and on broken sidewalks, and he offers to drive her out to the canyons outside LA. The thought of the unobtrusively manicured stretches of faux-nature where movie stars run their miles and walk their properly scruffy dogs makes her face light up, and that's enough to override his uneasiness at leaving the desk untended for a morning.

She's startled when he arrives at her door wearing Nikes and loose shorts. "I thought you were just driving me out there," she laughs, sliding into the passenger seat of Angel's car. "Since when do you run, Wesley?"

He smiles thinly. No point explaining six years of cross-country in prep and secondary school. No reason to mention his stint as a harrier for Oxford, or the pinny numbers from the London and Los Angeles marathons tucked away in his apartment. He could tell her of the pride that comes from training every day, come heat or driving rain, or the strange, steady camaraderie that forms from sharing that commitment. Boys who didn't even like him had to respect him as a teammate and fellow-sufferer; for the duration of the competitive season, he was their brother. He could tell her about aching muscles and pounding heart, and the way any and all grief or anger or aching confusion in his mind would flow down through the soles of his trainers and drain into the unfillable embrace of the earth. He could tell her about the comfort in that.

But they don't have that kind of friendship, full of anecdotes and personal histories. So he shrugs and smiles, lets her lecture him on how to stretch properly, and follows her lead up the canyon.

Once, Fred begs them all to come horseback riding out in the desert. Gunn arranged it for her birthday, and she wants to share with all of them. Angel and Lorne can't go, of course, but Cordy is eager and Wes gives in to Fred's excitement and Gunn's quietly pleading eyes.

"Thanks for not leaving me alone with the girls, man," Charles mutters as they walk into the stable. Fred and Cordy have hurried ahead, happily swapping childhood pony-stories. "I'm glad I won't be the only one who doesn't know what the hell I'm doing."

Wes could tell him about the fat little Connemara he'd ridden on holiday in Ireland, who had dumped him on his bony young arse over and over until he'd stopped listening to his father and asked for obedience instead of fighting. He could mention long hours in barns that smelled like this-- just exactly like this-- mucking stalls and cleaning tack and wishing he never had to wash off the scent of peace and stillness and a quiet heart. He could talk about the scrubby little Arabian mare his father hated, and how he himself had coaxed the foul-tempered creature to medaling at second-level dressage. He could say how it felt like they were dancing, and how incredible it was for an awkward, miserable boy to have this animal submit to be guided by him.

But Gunn is looking for hapless common ground here, grim camaraderie, and so Wes laughs and lets the stable workers saddle his horse for him, holds the reins improperly, and doesn't balance himself as they go.

Once, Lorne finds the tickets tossed on his desk. He can leave his whole life out and nobody ever cares to look-- the cavernous, glossy offices of Wolfram & Hart are shrines to self-absorption. But this single time, Lorne sees, and raises an eyebrow in question.

"A concert by the Philharmonic I could understand, crumpet, but a master's recital at the conservatory? That's a little more than basic support for the arts. Do you know this girl?"

Wes shrugs, shuffles papers, scrambles for a lie. "A family connection."

He can't begin to explain what impulse drags him to the piano wing of the conservatory, to linger among the practice rooms and scan the notice boards for concert announcements. He can't say why he waits for a room to fall empty and then slips inside, sliding across the bench and arching his fingers to meet the waiting keys, just as he'd been taught by the first grim-faced, white-haired person hired by his mother to drum a socially charming skill into him. He doesn't know how he recalls all of the scale-cycles, the silly exercises, the random snippets of concerto and symphony. He can't describe the feeling that makes him play them over and over, louder and louder, until the little room rings and echoes and his mind empties out. The frantic racing of his thoughts goes still under the assault of the music, and for just a moment he isn't worried, isn't afraid, isn't lonely-- he just is, and the music is, leaving him and filling him at once until for just an instant he's at peace--

He can't speak of such things here, surrounded by the crude tools of law and commerce and corruption. So he shrugs, and he lies, and when Lorne asks if he can come along, he agrees. At the recital, he sits passively and allows Lorne to lecture him about theory and melody and technique, as if he is the refugee from a world without music.

Still, at one point he dares to speak, to tap the name of one song in the program, one he remembers learning at the age of ten. He smiles shyly and suggests-- only a suggestion, as if he can't feel his fate racing toward him with a seering intensity that leaves him shaking in his sheets at night-- that that one was rather pretty, and perhaps, if the occasion arose, he should like to have it played at his funeral.

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