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Amends the next time

by Sheila Perez and Te

     Subject: Angel: Amends the next time
     Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 1:20 AM

     Amends the next time
     by Sheila Perez and Te
     November 2002
     Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is ours. They'd be
     happier if they were. Or possibly even more fucked up.
     Spoilers: Up through S4.
     Summary: Show me that apocalypse smile...
     Ratings Note: PG-13
     Authors' Note: Sheila and I disagree on a lot when it
     comes to Angel, but not about Gunn and Wes.
     Feedback: Keeps us smilin'. mimesere@earthlink.net,
     thete1@earthlink.net

Gunn wakes up with Wesley's hand on his chest, and for a second it feels like coming home.

And he wants to sigh, to sit up in the dark and rub the sleep from his eyes, and maybe stretch until his bones creak, but when he breathes deep it hurts, all he can smell is sulfur, the sky is red, and it's a scene straight out of the strictest hell.

And he knows that home is a lie, and the best he's ever been able to do is come in out of the rain.

The image of Fred on the stairs, walking away from him, hits like a punch to the gut and he struggles to stand.

"Stay still."

Yeah, that's Wes all right, but it's the new Wes, with the edge on his voice like something that should be used to get rid of the stupid stubble on his face and -- "Fred's out there."

"No, she's not. She's inside somewhere, because you and I both know she's too smart to be otherwise."

And all right, so that's nothing but logic, and good logic of the kind they'd kinda have to have, considering the fact that both of them have a little more Fred on the brain than what's strictly healthy, but Gunn could sincerely do without logic right now. "I have to --"

"Stay. Still. You've cracked at least one rib, and there --"

"Don't tell me you're willing to leave her out there in this."

The hand on his chest tightens just a hair. Just enough to let Gunn know he has Wes' attention. Just enough to let him know that he wasn't lying about the ribs.

Fuck.

Finally, "look outside, Charles. Neither of us could survive in that."

"My truck --"

"Would require us running through flaming hail for at least twenty --"

"So you're giving up?"

A long silence, and winning here is an empty thing.

"Of course," Wesley says quietly. "Of course I'm giving up. I quit whenever things get the slightest bit difficult."

"That's not what--"

"That is."

Gunn tries to sit up, shrug off Wesley's hand but Wesley heaves a sigh like Gunn is the stupidest thing ever born and pokes him in the side, where it hurts. "That hurt."

"Good."

It's raining fire, thinks Gunn. And then: it's pretty.

Something Fred would say.

Wesley is watching the sky and Gunn is watching him. End of the world as he knows it, and Gunn feels anything but fine.

He really needs to buy Fred some new music. And that's... That's a thought worth holding on to, because it assumes a lot of good things.

Things he doesn't fucking dare think about directly, punkass coward or not. Because... because he has the feeling that most of those good things would fall right the hell apart under the weight of his own logic. Seems like he's been doing a lot of indirect thinking lately.

Damn.

"English, you got any medical tape with you?"

Amused snort. "Sorry, I forgot to pack my pharmacy in my pants."

So familiar it hurts, but... so easy, too. "Shit, why not? You packed every damn other thing in there. Feel like if I shift wrong I'm gonna wind up with a bazooka in my face."

Tiny smile. Smile that looks like Wes wants anything but to let it out. "That's in my other shirt."

"Ah, right, right. With the flamethrower."

"And the knives."

"And the food processor."

And that's an honest to God laugh, one Gunn hasn't heard in so long ("I got my throat slit and my friends deserted me.") --

A pained-sounding moan from behind the bar saves him, and Gunn's never been so grateful for Lorne's continued existence.

"Lorne?" Wes shifts, slightly.

Just enough to let Gunn know that he would go check on the demon if there wasn't a large and very injured Black man half on top of him.

"... cupcake?"

"Er... no?"

"Crumpet," says Gunn and all Wesley does is shift a little and press down and,

"Oh, so sorry," while Gunn is swearing loudly.

Wesley slides out from behind him and props Gunn carefully against the wall. Considerate. The concrete is cold even through a shirt and Wesley sort of crouches and slides along the wall, glancing up at the big fiery sky from hell, until Gunn is almost choking on the need to tell Wesley to sit his skinny ass back down before he gets himself killed.

This is all familiar ground, stuff Gunn can walk and talk in his sleep. Except that Wesley glances at Gunn and half shrugs, and then it's all completely fucked and strange again, like Gunn is walking the face of Mars blindfolded and drunk.

The scar on Wesley's neck barely shows. It's just a dark crease against the lighter skin, like a line drawn in sand. Then and Now and Gunn should have killed the bitch that did it.

He should have done a lot of things.

And hey, funny how these things occur to you when L.A. looks a lot more like Gehenna than even it should. Wes slides behind the splintered bar, out of sight, and curses.

"What? Is he --"

"He's fine. Just a bit dazed and mostly unconscious."

"I'm conscious enough for you, my little danish."

"Maybe more than a bit dazed."

Gunn snickers and winces. "Then why did you curse?"

"I..." Wes mutters the rest.

"What?"

"I said I have a splinter."

"You're cursing over a splinter? Satan's crackly-skinned minion knocked you silly and you're cursing over a splinter?"

"It's under my fingernail."

"There's a rain of fire right outside and you're cursing over a splinter?"

"I'm going to start throwing things at you momentarily."

"The entire world is ending --"

"I'm going to aim for your ribs, Gunn. I have very good aim."

"You can't even see me!"

A large chunk of former nightclub hits the wall right beside him, something Gunn would be more pissed about if Wesley hadn't just yelped. "Hey!"

"I only missed because Lorne grabbed me."

And then Gunn just gives up and laughs, and fuck the pain, because if you can't laugh during the Apocalypse...

"You're still a lunatic."

"Yeah, and I bet Lorne is still feeling you up, English."

Wesley stands up and hey, there he is, glaring at Gunn like the pissed off schoolteacher from hell, which, right at this very second, is funnier than anything has ever been.

Funny and true and Gunn can't help but laugh harder.

"I think he's in shock," says Wesley. Gunn hears Lorne agree, and it takes Gunn dangerously close to hysterics when Wesley follows it up with a sigh and a, "please don't touch me there. I find it rather disturbing."

Gunn is laughing his damn fool head off while the sky rains fire and brimstone like the fucked up stepchild of a Charlton Heston movie, and the girl he loves is somewhere out in the city of fallen and falling angels and fire is falling from the fucking sky.

Rain is bad enough and the part of Gunn that's laughing is now laughing harder at the idea of traffic in the morning. If there is a morning.

Laughing hurts like nothing else, right up until he hears Wesley's voice warm in his ear and Wesley's arm sliding under his shoulders.

"Can you stand?"

"There's nothing wrong with my legs," Gunn says, and he stands up and so maybe he grabs onto Wesley for a second, just for balance, and maybe Wesley lets him. And maybe Gunn is just tired, but he says, "Wesley," and it feels like a weight on his tongue.

"Hm?"

So close and Gunn can't even remember the last time, but he'll bet anything they were bloody and sore and full of the morbid fun then, too.

Wesley's eyes like something cool and sane and welcoming. Like the only thing cool and sane and welcoming in the entire world, and how had he forgotten that? Shuttered for a moment when Wes blinks, looks down at his mouth.

"Gunn..."

Yeah. He gets it. Somehow Gunn thinks Wes doesn't forgot anything. "Hey, English." Not ever.

"Gunn, you --"

And kissing him is just like every other time, any other time, except the flickering red light beyond his closed eyes is more ominous than anything he's ever seen, except that Wes has never held him quite this hard, except that kissing Wesley has never been quite this necessary or poorly timed. Has to suck hard on that wicked tongue, at least for a moment, at least until he can make himself pull back.

Or maybe it's Wes that does. It never used to be this hard to figure out how they moved together.

And Wes looks... raw.

Like he's bleeding somewhere Gunn can't touch, even if either of them were ready for that.

"We can't. We can't do this now," is all he says.

But he doesn't resist for a heartbeat when Gunn kisses him again.

But it's only a heartbeat, and then Wesley bites him, not too hard, and says "Fred."

Doesn't miss a trick, that one.

And she's there, under his skin and under Wesley's, and he loves her.

Gunn loves Fred like he loves every dream he's ever had about a real life. A safe one.

His hand is spread out at the small of Wesley's back, and there's something long and knife-like there, under the shirt. "Fred," agrees Gunn, and the knife is cold under his fingers. A knife at Wesley's back.

Gunn wants things to be simple again. There's Fred and there's Wesley, and neither of those things is simple or easy or clear. It's just gray all the way down until Gunn is going to bleed one way or another.

Wesley is still just looking at him and for damn sure he can feel Gunn holding onto that knife like it's a lifeline. His arm around Gunn's waist tightens, and he reaches back with his other hand and tugs at his shirt until it's loose enough to get a hand under.

Wesley's skin is impossibly smooth right there, just under Gunn's fingertips.

"Take it," says Wesley, and Gunn does. He feels better with a weapon in his hand.

And yeah, fuck them both anyway if it's even better that it's one of Wesley's, still a little warm from his skin. Like if Gunn lifted it to his face he'd be able to smell him over the leather of whatever sheath he was using.

He knows Wes can read all of that and then some on his face, and for once he doesn't care.

Not if it makes Wes look at him like that. Like this, whatever it is, is something that can and will be continued, no matter what any prophecies might say about what's going to happen next.

Wes isn't going to let him forget a damned thing.

"It's slacking up, I think," he says, and Gunn blinks stupidly before he gets it, turning to look out the window to find slightly fewer fiery hailstones.

"We should try to get back to the hotel. Rendezvous with --" Stops himself at everything he's assuming and doesn't look at Wes.

A long, horribly silent pause before finally, "there are... there are others I should call. People who will help."

And if there's something a little darker, a little older and more fucked up under all the solid rightness he's feeling about that... now isn't the time. "So you got yourself a crew," is all he says, turning back to give Wes a little smile.

"It's amazing how... useful comrades in arms can be."

"And knowing you, they're all armed like tanks."

"Except for the ones with food processors..."

"Never know when a brother is gonna need to bust out with a nice fruitcake."

"Ah yes, the fearsome holiday treat." Wesley nods mock-sagely and they laugh together.

Gunn wants to say something about working with Wesley, about missing it, about wanting it so bad he can taste it sometimes, about all the times he's looked at Fred researching or fighting or doing some crazy-assed too-smart White girl thing and wanted to say something, anything about Wesley --

In the end he just settles his hand on Wes' shoulder and squeezes, and hopes some of it comes through. "You think you can support the love-struck demon and me on the way outta here?"

"I promise to only drop you once. Maybe twice."

"Drop me at all and I'll drop kick your ass."

"Really, Gunn, you can do better than that."

"Pain, English."

"What was it you called me once?"

"Don't you even --"

"A pansy ass?"

It's just like old times, except for the part where it's totally different, but it's worth the effort. Gunn shifts his weight over and Wesley stumbles, and it's some kind of stupid on his own part, because Wesley really is the only thing standing between Gunn and a painful meeting with the ground.

So Wesley stumbles and Gunn stumbles with him, and there's a second when it feels like they're going to fall. Gunn braces himself, but it's for nothing.

Wesley catches himself and they stay standing for a long minute, holding each other up before they go back to saving the world again.

Maybe this is close enough to home for him to live with.

For now.

End.


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