by Kath (vze25s65 at verizon.net )
Summary: Family, humanity and home. All in under 4000 words.
Notes: Notes: This takes place sometime between 'That Old Gang Of Mine' and 'Billy'.
Cool breezes, chasing fall leaves off tree branches, tossing them playfully in an invisible game of catch.
Hot, blazing sun melting onto far off peaks in a multi-hued spectacle of bronze, red, yellow and gold, a stark contrast to the bright moonlight now casting sharp, black shadows on the earth beneath it.
Mountain air, slightly thinner than he's used to, tugging at Wesley's chest with every breath.
Or it was supposed to be. Maybe if countless hours at the canyon rim hadn't caused his feet to go numb. Maybe if the jagged, uneven rock he was sitting on wasn't poking painfully into his arse. Maybe if he hadn't had so much time to ponder the pitifulness that was his life.
That was the trouble with going off to think. It gave you time to... think.
He hadn't meant for it to happen. Not that way. Not ever.
A rough and tumble training session and Gunn, eyes dancing with laughter, reached up to rub away a smudge of dirt from Wesley's cheek with his thumb. Wesley, t-shirt sticky with sweat and clinging to his lean frame, adrenaline still hot-wiring his fragile system, impulsively leaned into the touch, not stopping until his lips met Gunn's. He knew immediately that he'd made a mistake.
What followed were the inevitable apologies and acceptances, with Gunn backing away casually, expression carefully neutral as he suddenly remembered somewhere - other than here - he had to be. For long moments, Wesley stood silent, alone, unable to comprehend how he could have been so *stupid*. The sword he was holding slipped unnoticed from his grasp, screeching metal on concrete echoing off bare walls and reverberating down his spine. Shaking him into motion.
Rumbling of the motorcycle between his legs, the swish of wind rushing past his helmet, and tears stinging the corners of his eyes.
A quick goodbye on a post-it stuck to Cordy's computer, before making a stop at his flat to pack a bag with clothes, books and a few personal items. Then, Wesley - unable to face his friends...face Gunn - had fled. North, into the mountains. Far from the glare of city lights and the stark reality that he, a closeted gay man, had made unwelcomed advances towards his *very* straight best friend.
Exhaustion and a need for fuel had finally forced Wes to stop in a small, almost- nothing town. Trapped between the summer months, when tourists flocked to cooler climes, and the winter ski season, its loneliness and desolation had appealed to Wesley immediately. Checking into the run down Vista Inn, with its peeling paint and gaudy neon sign - the rather obvious 'vacancy' lit up in blue below the name - he'd stumbled into Room 111, peeled off his leathers and collapsed onto the bed, destined to spend the night awake, staring at the ceiling, counting cobwebs.
Sunrise brought the discovery of a magnificent scenic view. For three days Wes had sat on the same rock overlooking a deep canyon, watching hawks dive bomb for food and puffy clouds drawing lazy patterns across blue skies, while he waited for answers. The locals left him alone, and if they found his behavior strange they hadn't shown it. Tonight the chill of the night air seeped through too-thin layers of cotton, leaving behind gooseflesh as he waited. For what, he wasn't sure anymore.
Crunch of heavy boots on gravel, then "Yo, English."
He should have been more surprised.
Turning slowly, Wesley looked up. "Gunn? How did you -"
"Oh." Pause. "Yes, of course." His gaze returned to his hands, folded neatly in his lap.
Gunn's shoulder bumped Wesley's as he moved to sit next to him on the rock, his left knee coming to rest against Wes' right. Finally, Wesley forced his eyes up to meet his friend's. Worry. Hurt. Perhaps understanding, rather than the expected anger and disappointment.
"You scared the shit outta Cordy and Fred, you know that? What kinda bonehead move was this, anyway?"
"I - I don't...I'm just so...embarrassed." Wesley tried to turn away but Charles reached up and lightly gripped his chin, holding it in place.
"You don't ever gotta be embarrassed about anything around me, Wes. You got that?" Wesley nodded. "You're my friend."
Silence between them. Comfortable. Nice. Gunn's hand, warm on his face, sliding up to rest for a split second on his cheek, callused palm catching on stubbled skin, sending off delightful jolts of electricity.
"Wes, do ya gotta do that thing with your eyes?" The younger man shifted away slightly, suddenly very interested in the pebbles at his feet.
"Do *what* thing?" Clearly perplexed.
"That intense thing, where it's like you're lookin' inside my skin."
He felt his cheeks flush, as images of Gunn's skin filtered through his mind. Suddenly it wasn't so cold out after all.
Nearly full moon overhead. Stars twinkling brightly, and Gunn didn't think he had *ever* seen so many stars in his life. He had a picture in his head, of some other night, sitting beside Wes while he pointed out all the constellations and planets. But not tonight. He hadn't come all this way for that.
Hell, what had he come for?
Following Wesley down the path, back towards the hotel. Watching each step made, so confident, as if no tree branch or rock would dare reach out and trip him. So confident in himself, while Gunn was so confused.
Hours alone in the truck. Tunes on the radio eventually turning to static. There'd been nothing to pass the time but
A rebuffed handshake. Wesley's air of superiority. Gunn's bad ass 'tude.
Drunken karaoke. Fighting demons. Board games.
The *crack* of a bullet leaving a gun. Wesley's face, shocked and frightened and pale.
Secret handshakes. Private smiles. The taste of Wesley's lips, pressed against his own.
He couldn't imagine his life now without Wes in it.
The Host had said, "Just be yourself. Your heart already knows the answer." Gunn was still trying to figure out what that meant.
Door held open for him, and he expected the worst. Pleasantly surprised. A good sized living area, with a sofa, fireplace and kitchenette. Neatly made bed and dresser against the far wall. Already a book lying open on the coffee table, and Charles had to smile at that.
"I've been meaning to make a fire in the fireplace, but...." Wesley shrugged helplessly. One very white, upper-class Englishman and one very dark, street kid from the city and not much chance of success, but they tried anyway. It felt good to be working together, arguing over various techniques, as if either of them had a clue what they were doing. In the end it was pure luck that caused a flame to cough, sputter and finally stay lit.
Faces aglow with gleeful triumph, as well as the firelight, the two men found themselves doing the moves of their own special handshake. It had been a long time. Gunn realized he missed it.
Crackle, pop of the roaring fire. Sofa pushed closer to soak up the heat. Wesley in the kitchenette, humming. Gunn stretched out, boots tossed aside.
Wesley returning, a plate of sandwiches in one hand, two mugs of...not tea! Hot chocolate, complete with mini marshmallows. Wes reading Gunn's mind - or possibly his surprised expression.
"What, is it written somewhere that the English *only* like to drink tea?"
"You mean it ain't?" Gunn couldn't resist the chance to tease.
Room was made for Wesley, who sat at one end, pulling his knees up to his chest, his shoes on the floor next to Gunn's.
Fingernails tapping nervously against crockery. "I thought -" Wes began, and then stopped.
"What?" Charles looked over his mug, curious.
"I thought perhaps we should talk. You know, about what I..." Wesley's voice was soft, hesitant. "What happened the other day."
Gunn's mind flooded with things to say. Questions to ask. What came out was, "Nah, I'm cool."
"You're sure? Because I don't mind...that is, I don't want things to get...*weird* between us."
"They ain't and they won't." End of discussion.
Silence then, except for sounds of the fire and of food being eaten. Gunn caught himself watching Wesley watch the fire. Flames reflected in his glasses, expression so very serious. An odd flutter growing in the pit of Gunn's stomach.
A white-socked foot began to edge furtively along the couch cushions, inching towards its unsuspecting prey. Just as Wesley had raised mug to lips, the foot surreptitiously jostled his leg, sloshing a bit of the hot liquid over the side. Frowning across at his companion, Wesley found Charles intent on eating his sandwich, picture of innocence.
Mug set down, book now balanced on knees, and once again the foot attacked. "Charles!"
"Wesley!" Perfect mimicry. The flutter now threatening to become an unmanly giggle.
An old magazine found on the table, and okay it was 'Field & Stream' but it was something to hide behind, and Charles was pretty sure there was a different white-socked foot heading *his* way, coming to pin his foot neatly in place. Mischievous smile spreading across his face and he just *had* to see for himself if Wes was wearing one too. His other foot bolder now, raised up to rest gently against the book, toes pulling it down and yeah, there was a smile there.
Damn. Gunn's heart struggled to beat against the tightening of his chest.
"Wanker." Wesley feigned annoyance.
"Pansy ass." Right back at ya.
Both sat up now, feet planted firmly on the floor. Stunned. Wesley's arms instinctively wrapped around himself. "That's not funny."
Gunn slid closer. His expression both a challenge and a plea. "Wasn't supposed to be."
"Charles, if you're doing this out of some misguided attempt to make me feel better, or do me a favor - "
Was this what he really wanted? What he'd come here for? Gunn leaned forward. Before he could change his mind. And kissed Wesley.
No explosion. No fireworks. Just warmth. The knot in his stomach turning to liquid heat, spilling into his veins. Nice. More than nice, but scary. He pulled back.
Wary eyes greeted him. "Gunn...Why?"
Hand moving up to Wesley's cheek of its own accord, trying to rub the worry away. Desperately searching for the right words. "Because you're my *best* friend, English." He didn't know how else to say it.
Lips pressed gently to his lips. Wesley understood.
Desire and longing, tempered with fear and reluctance. Gunn's body so close. Wesley wanting to touch everything, craving physical contact. Afraid to find it was all a dream. Afraid he'd scare Gunn away.
'Best friend'. Long years of isolation hadn't prepared Wesley for the raw emotion behind those words. Unrequited infatuation was one thing, but this...
Two men, side by side on an old sofa. Staring into each other's eyes with gooey affection. Once just co-workers and friends, now trying to find their way towards
Tentative kisses at first. Testing. Exploring. Deepening. Uncertain hands finally, *finally* pressing against him, giving silent permission to touch and hold. They were like school children, necking in the family sitting room. Hungry and curious.
Fire turning to glowing embers in the fireplace. Chill of the night's air creeping in. The beat of Wesley's heart pounding loudly in his ears.
Mouth reluctantly raised from Gunn's neck, forehead resting on his collar bone instead. "Yes?"
Accusing. "That's the third time you've poked me in the ribs with your elbow."
A soft chuckle. "Well, maybe if you would hold still."
Yeah, well maybe if you'd -" Fingers grazed a patch of ticklish bare skin just above Gunn's hip and he gasped. "Damn, English!"
Wesley sat back and weighed his next words carefully. "Perhaps it's time we moved to the bed."
Gunn stared. Wesley stared back.
A pause, then a smile. "Yeah. Maybe we should."
Fingers entwining. A strong arm pulling him up and across the room. Shirts coming off first, then jeans, then socks. Wesley standing silently before him, eyes gleaming.
How many times? How many times had they cleaned each other's wounds? Changed out of slimy clothes while in the same room? And Gunn hadn't noticed. Never looked. He was looking now.
He reached out and very lightly ran his fingertips through the fine hair on Wesley's chest, down to his stomach, where he paused briefly at the ugly scar puckering the skin there, before his hand came to rest on the Englishman's hip. "God, Wes."
Gunn knew what he wanted now. Leaning forward he began to kiss and suck at the base of Wesley's neck, running his tongue slowly upward, to the jaw line. Wesley, eyes closed and head tilted back, humming again, and Gunn could feel the vibrations beneath his lips.
Nimble fingers traced the outline of Gunn's spine, down, down, slipping inside the waistband of Gunn's briefs, until the palm of Wesley's hand rested in the hollow at its base. A gentle tug and the briefs dropped to the floor. Wesley's were quick to follow.
Hesitation. "Are you sure you want this?" Wesley obviously desperate for one answer, but willing to accept another from his friend.
An hour or two earlier, Gunn might have had to think about it. A day ago he probably would have said no. Now... He looked at Wes standing in front of him, his own hungry desire mirrored in the eyes that looked back. Right now it no longer mattered what anyone else thought. What *he* thought of himself. Wesley *wanted* him. And he wanted Wesley.
"Oh, yeah." His voice sounded husky and strange to his own ears.
Wes grinned and Gunn reached out, pulling him close. Flesh meeting flesh. Wesley's tongue warm and wet on his lips. His body decidedly male under Gunn's hands. Firm. Muscular. Familiar. Wes' eagerness pressed hard against Gunn's thigh. Lying down no longer an option, but a necessity, they tumbled onto the bed. Twisting. Rolling. Hands *everywhere*. Hot, wet, hungry kisses. Gunn could hardly breathe and was feeling a bit light-headed but he didn't care. All that mattered was the delicious weight of Wesley on top of him, and the feel of the mattress pressing against his back. Wesley's touch sparking like static electricity on his skin. His hand wrapping around Gunn's cock, and Oh. My. God.
Gunn's hips bucking up into Wesley's, eliciting a groan and a plea.
Gunn reaching out to stroke Wesley's arousal, rewarded with a hiss of pleasure in his ear, followed by a low, hoarse growl. Their groins coming together perfectly, as if made for each other. Like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, Charles managed to think, right before his partner shifted his hips, and all rational thought ceased to be.
Bodies rocking together, finding an erratic rhythm. Friction driving Gunn wild, and he *never* thought it could be like this. Not with another man. Not with anybody. Wesley, head bent, whispering - or maybe whimpering - into Charles' shoulder. Gunn so close to release that he didn't even realize it until the wave began to hit, and all he could do was repeat "Oh god, oh god" over and over. Hips rising up off the bed, fingernails digging into Wesley's back. Collapsing back, unable to move, panting wildly.
Vague awareness of Wesley pumping himself, and he really wanted to help, but his arms felt like jelly. Warm stickiness between his legs and across his tummy. Light kisses peppered along his jaw, finding his mouth at last. Feeble protests when the weight of Wesley's body lifted off, and if Gunn could only open his eyes he could see where Wes had gone.
Warm wet wash cloth gliding over his body. Scratchy towel rubbing him dry. "Charles?" Eyes opened to find his lover looking down at him, hair wild from where Gunn had tugged on it, mouth curled into a tired, contented grin. Still unable to form words, Gunn finally managed a hissed "Wes" before pulling him close. Wrapping himself in a Wesley blanket. The words "Love you" in his ear the last thing he heard as he drifted to sleep.
Pale sunlight, fighting its way through early morning fog, cast hopeful beams through broken slats in window shutters.
Muted clatter and hushed tones outside the door, as maids with carts began their shift.
Warmth under heavy blankets, made all the better by cool air outside of them.
Sharing a bed, watching Gunn sleep, Wesley could not remember ever being so content. Happy.
Impossibly long eyelashes, thick lips parted slightly to allow for a snore, dark, muscular arm draped comfortably across his very pale hip. Could he dare to wish it would last forever?
Gunn was going to wake up, and then what? Would he still want to be with Wesley or would he realize he'd made a huge mistake?
Worry. Fear. Panic. The more he thought about it, the more he had to know.
"Charles?" A whisper.
"Gunn?" A little louder.
Eyelids fluttering open. Sleepy yawn. "Huh. Wes? What time is it?"
"I don't know. It's still rather early, I believe."
Frown. "Did Cordy call with a vision?"
"No. I -"
"Is the hotel on fire?"
Pause. "Not that I'm aware of."
Eyes closing again. "Then shut up."
"But I need to ask you - "
Gunn's arm tightened around Wesley's torso, drawing their bodies together. "Relax. We got the rest of our lives to talk. Okay?"
Resting his head in the hollow of Gunn's neck, Wes smiled and closed his eyes.
Okay. He could wait.