Timeline: Angel season 3
Disclaimer: All belongs to Joss
Author's notes: netgirl_y2k who requested Gunn/Fred set during season three with a happy ending.
Gunn loves surprising Fred because he gets to see that wide, bright smile on her face when he does. That smile makes up for the fact that he's sitting on a checkered blanket in the park.
"Charles!" she says excitedly. "Look at all this food."
The way to Fred's happiness is her stomach, and Gunn knows he outdid himself. Called up a caterer that specializes in Southern food and ordered enough for five people. He thinks there should be enough to fill up Fred, but he's not sure. Tiny little thing has the most bottomless stomach he's ever seen.
"Fried chicken, barbecued ribs, potato salad, sun-brewed iced tea--oh!" Her eyes fall on the bottle of Southern Comfort that Gunn didn't unpack from the basket the caterers sent all this stuff in. She collapses bonelessly onto the blanket, just next to where he's sitting. "I think I love you, Charles Gunn," she sighs.
Gunn leans over her face and arches a brow. "You think? Better do more than think unless you want me to take my food and So-Co and go home."
Her eyes crinkle as she grins at him, one delicate hand reaching up to cup his cheek. "I love you, Charles Gunn," she proclaims, all sorts of soap-opera melodrama in her voice. "My life would be empty and desolate without--"
"The So-Co," he finishes and she giggles and turns on her stomach.
"And you." She leans up on her elbows and kisses him. When they're done, she only pulls back an inch or so. "Not that I'm complaining or looking a gift horse in the mouth... but what's the occasion?"
"Making you smile," he says easily. "Now sit on up, girl. There's food to eat."
"And So-Co to drink!"
The food is gone and all that remains to attest to its former existence is a plastic bag filled with empty containers and dirty paper plates, and a sated look on Fred's face. The So-Co is still being demolished. Mixed with sun-brewed iced tea in large, red, plastic cups. It's got to be the nastiest thing Gunn's drank in a long while, So-Co and iced tea, but he's drinking it.
Fred's lounging against him, her pretty dress riding up her thighs and her face tilted up to the bright sky. Her eyes are closed and she looks relaxed and happy. Her face is flushed from the alcohol, but not as much as it should be. His little Texan has a high tolerance for So-Co, earned through many a long summer of drinking with her friends back home. Five years in Pylea didn't change that.
"The world is spinning," she tells him, a small smile pulling at her lips.
She's seated between his thighs, and he leans forward to kiss the long, graceful line of her neck. "You being drunk or scientific?"
"I'm being buzzed," she proclaims. "Merrily, sillily buzzed. I haven't been that way in... well, gosh. Has to be ages now." She shifts around so that she's facing him, her legs tossed carelessly over his thighs. "We should do this more often. Picnics in the sun and yummy food and delicious So-Co."
Gunn nods in agreement. "We should. We will."
She tucks her hair behind her ears and her eyes get real bright. "Let's make a day and night of it! We can stay here until the sun's going down then head out... dancing!"
The idea of taking Fred to any of the clubs he used to haunt back in the day is ludicrous.
"Where?" Gunn asks.
"Cordelia told me about this club. We can go there. She said it was tons of fun."
Gunn can't remember the last time Cordelia went to a club. The place might be closed or on its eighth incarnation. But Fred's eyes are shining from alcohol and excitement, so he kisses her nose. "It's a plan, then."
A Frisbee comes sailing their way, coasting to a stop just a foot from their blanket. There's a golden retriever coming for it at a full out run with its tongue handing out the side of its mouth and a big dog grin in full effect.
Fred giggles and climbs off of him to snatch the Frisbee in her hand just before the dog reaches it. The dog--and it's a proudly unfixed male, Gunn notices--bounds up to her, sniffing at the Frisbee, and Fred scratches behind his ears.
"Oh, aren't you a handsome dog!" She holds up the Frisbee and the dog tenses in anticipation. A little ways off, his owner waves at Fred. "Get ready, doggy. Are you ready? Go get it!"
She sends the Frisbee spinning and the dog rushes after it. Gunn figures he knows what's coming next.
"It'd be neat to have a dog," Fred muses, lying on her side and propping her head up in her hand.
Gunn lays next to her, on his back, and turns to look at her. "Fred, I don't really--"
Her fingers come to rest against his lips, silencing him. "What kind of dog do you like best?"
Fred draws pictures with words for him while they wait for the sun to start setting. Takes him to Texas while she was growing up. Walks him into a barn, down a length of stalls, and introduces him to her horse, Schrodinger. Brings the scent of hay and horses into his nose. Makes his shoulder ache from brushing Schrodinger until he shines.
"You ever gonna take me home with you, Fred?"
"Of course," she assures him and brings her red cup to her lips for to down half its contents. "I'll bring you home for the next family reunion. You can meet generations of Burkles and Wagners--that's my mom's side of the family--and eat barbecue until you bust."
Gunn laughs. "Think I'll probably stop before busting. Can I meet Schrodinger?"
Her face gets a little sad. "He died right before I left home. But my family always has horses. We keep them over at the DeVane ranch." She perks up. "You can go riding, Charles!"
"Whoah, whoah! That's going a little to far. Ain't never even seen a horse in real life."
"We'll start you on a pony," she goes on and Gunn lets her make plans for working him up to a real horse during the weeklong family reunion. "By the time we leave, you'll want a horse of your own."
Gunn imagines a stall set up in the Hyperion, a docile horse head poking over the side, velvet horse nose nudging Angel for sugar cubes as he stalks through the lobby, Fred and Gunn's St. Bernard--Amos--padding after him for attention.
He drinks some more So-Co and iced tea and wonders what other critters they can bring home.
"What do you think of ferrets?" he asks Fred.
Gunn goes off for ice cream, leaving Fred with the bottle of So-Co. When he comes back, she's sitting cross-legged on the blanket, her knees stained with grass, her shoes discarded, and her hands busy weaving flower-weeds into a chain.
"Give me your hand," she instructs.
He glances down, holds up a dripping handful of chocolate cone, a melting handful of strawberry cone. "Kind of occupied at the moment," he points out.
She makes him sit next to her, then twines the delicate chain of dandelions around his wrist before taking her strawberry cone.
"I'm feeling fanciful," she tells him, and there's a slight slur to her voice now, just like there was a slight stagger to Gunn's walk when he went for dessert.
"No, really?" Gunn teases and she sticks her tongue out at him before using it to rescue a melting line of strawberry ice cream from her sugar cone.
"Pour me some more?" she asks, one bare foot nudging her red cup.
Gunn divides the last of the So-Co between their cups. The iced tea got finished three refills ago, and by now he's drunk enough that he can stomach the suntan lotion taste straight.
Fred frowns in disappointment when he tosses the empty bottle into the picnic basket. Then she shakes her head, long brown tresses slithering and catching all sorts of highlights from the sun. "We haven't toasted," she tells him, and they both raise their cups.
"Wait," Gunn interrupts, lapping at his cone so that it doesn't drip down his hand. "Okay, go."
"To..." She frowns, swaying a little. "I can't think of anything."
"To everything," Gunn supplies.
She wrinkles her nose. "That's not very... good."
Gunn narrows his eyes. "People in 'I-can't-think-of-anything houses' shouldn't be throwing stones."
A moment of consideration, then she nods. Her plastic cup hits against his so hard that Gunn's chocolate ice cream is now chocolate-suntan lotion ice cream.
"To everything!" she cheers drunkenly.
When Gunn brings his cone to his mouth for a swipe of his tongue, Fred pushes at his wrist. He lifts his nose from the depths of chocolate-suntan lotion ice cream, and Fred falls backwards, giggling.
"No you didn't!" he growls and lunges for her.
Fred's a sticky mess of pale pink ice cream that's just about the same color the sky's starting to turn. Every once in a while, Gunn leans over to lick at her.
"You're a strange, strange man," Fred murmurs when he does it again.
He lifts his head from her shoulder. "Why, because I like licking ice cream off of pretty girls named Fred?" he asks like she's crazy.
"No, because you hate strawberry ice cream."
He shrugs and sits up straight. "Think that So-Co destroyed a layer of taste buds or something."
Fred smiles contentedly. "Mm, yeah, it's good for that."
They stare out at the park, which is starting to empty. Fred leans her head on his shoulder and he wraps an arm around her shoulders. "Is it okay if I change my mind about the dancing?" she asks, then yawns.
"Saves me the trouble of begging you to change your mind. I need some sleep."
She peeks up at him, her eyes sleepy and half closed. "You want to stay with me at the hotel?"
"I was planning on that, yeah."
They lurch and stumble from the park to the Hyperion, mostly due to being exhausted as they sober up, but partly because Fred keeps looking up at the darkening sky as they go.
"When you come home to Texas with me, we'll watch a sunset. You need to see one without all the smog. You need to see the stars and the moon and the sun in the sky all at once." She glances at him. "It's humbling. But in a good way."
Luckily, there's no one in the lobby to see them drag their sobering-up asses up the stairs to Fred's room.
They don't change their clothes or pull down the covers of Fred's bed. Just climb on in fully clothed and settle down. Fred squirms against his side until he shifts and spoons her from behind.
"How long do you think we have until the gang needs us for something?" Fred asks sleepily.
"Hopefully? Not until tomorrow. Realistically? A few hours."
She sighs and burrows down into the mattress. "Shoot." Her hand reaches up to take hold of the arm he's got wrapped around his waist. "It was a good day, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, it was."
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