The Old Routine

Author: Spurglie

Spoilers: Ats season 4

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Wesley/Gunn

Disclaimer: none is mine, unfortunately. I'll put them back when I'm done.

Feedback: if you love it or hate it I'd love to know what you think.

Author's notes: I don't mind an occasional peep into the many varied world of W/G slash, but it's not my usual tipple. However, from dubious beginnings, Wesley turned out to be one of the most fascinating characters of the entire Buffy/Angelverse, which I know I certainly don't give him enough credit for. This fic was inspired by a snippet of Te and Sheila Perez's, because as I read Amends the next time, I suddenly found sentences forming in my head. Go figure. And, ooh, lookie, present tense to boot.

Summary: How quickly they fall back into their old routine.


'I killed someone for her.'

The expression on Wesley's face is worth a thousand words. None of which he uses.

'It's true.' Gunn manages a shaky nod, his eyes bloodshot with his guilt, and hangs his head. 'I killed for her. And she can't forgive me for it.'

'You...' Wesley's voice is soft, almost like it used to be. He speaks in undertones, low enough so Gunn can't make out the razor rasp edge there is to his words these days. He sounds like the real Wesley. Wesley, the scholar. Wesley, the friend. 'Tell me you're kidding.'

'Oh, yeah. It's a big joke.' Gunn wraps one big hand around the other, making one large fist. 'See the humour of my words.'

Unsure of his role in this confession, Wesley sits. And thinks about laying a hand on Gunn's back.

He doesn't.

Instead he asks, 'Who? When?'

'That doctor guy with the portals. Fr-- she was furious. Terrified. And so damn cold. I'd never seen her like that before. Didn't know she had it in her. She wouldn't... couldn't let him do that to anyone else. So she made her decision. She was going to...' Gunn's head suddenly lifts, pinning Wesley like a butterfly with his desperate gaze. 'But I couldn't let her. I knew it would destroy her. So I...' He breaks off with a ragged swallow, the energy supplied by his desperation gone.

'So you took it out of her hands.' Wesley's voice is calm, non-judgemental, and it magically transports Gunn back a year or so. It's almost enough to make him smile.

The bartender floats by, but pauses when Gunn raises one of those big hands to signal for another drink. Wesley takes a sip of his own beer and eyes the empty glass in front of Gunn on the bar. Whiskey, he thinks, and it's confirmed as he watches the barman pour another shot. Wesley sips again, watching from the corner of his eye as Gunn reaches for the glass. Before today he has rarely witnessed Gunn drink anything other than beer. Gunn takes a large swallow, and he's embarrassed by it, Wesley thinks, because he doesn't look up for a long time.

Or maybe he's embarrassed because he chose Wesley for this confession, and that's no longer appropriate, is it? Says a lot about Gunn's state of mind. Says a lot about the state of Angel Investigations. So, no, no long appropriate. Not these days. But maybe that's what he came here looking for. A quiet, out of the way bar, where the only person he was likely to run into that he knew would be...

Wesley glances at the dartboard in the corner, unlit and unoccupied. So, perhaps that was it. Perhaps Gunn was hurting so badly he came here looking for him in spite of everything.

This time Wesley does lay a hand on his back. There's warmth there, solid and alive and familiar, so vivid through the thin cotton of the shirt Gunn wears. It's strange, the mood Gunn is in, Wesley was almost expecting him to feel cold. Or perhaps he's just been spending too much time obsessing over vampires. Wesley rubs a circle, then two, and just as he feels Gunn lean the slightest little bit into the movement, he stops and takes the comfort away. And if his hand shakes just the tiniest bit on the way back to cradling his own beer, Wesley, for one, doesn't notice it.

But he won't go back there. He won't play second fiddle for anyone. Not for Cordelia, not for Angel, not for Fred and certainly not for Gunn. It was too hard to play that game before, and he's different now. Hell, they're all different. And how.

'Wesley.' Gunn doesn't mean to say the name, but it's done now and lies between them like an offering. 'I can't keep on like nothing's happened. I don't know what do to.'

'Have you told anyone else about this?' Like Angel. Like Cordelia.

Gunn shakes his head. Wesley tries to be surprised that he is the first to hear about this, but he can't quite manage it. It's all twisted up with Fred, this terrible act -- little innocent Winifred wanted to kill a man in cold blood just because of her own consuming fear of portals -- and that makes it all the more complicated. Which only makes it worse.

Gunn looks to him, wanting, hoping for something. It's obvious he's not sure what. Wesley knows it's not absolution. Not his to give, not that Gunn would accept it in any case. Acceptance? Does he really think that Wesley has fallen so far as to be able to accept an act such as this? Murder committed, if only to save another's soul, is still murder. Nothing changes that.

A terrible, heinous act carried out to save the ones you love, damning yourself in the process, backfiring dreadfully, until you're so miserable and alone and drowning in your own guilt that you can't see straight...?

Ah. Understanding, then.

This, Wesley considers with another sip of his beer, he might just be able to supply.

How quickly they fall back into their old routine. The two of them, side by side, against the world. But then, appearances have always been deceptive. Wesley wonders what would have happened if they'd admitted to themselves, or perhaps a few of their friends, what they were up to all those months ago -- how involved they were getting with one another -- if events would have unfolded the way they did. Angel probably knew, with that irritating ability of his to literally smell the pheromones on people; but he never commented on it, not in word, nor in deed, nor in glance. Wesley never knew whether to thank Angel for this respect of their privacy, pity him anew for his enforced celibacy, or hate him for his indifference. He wonders had they been more open, would they both have got so caught up in Fred in the first place? Wonders if there was more than they both realised in their sudden, mutual, obsession with her.

If they both hadn't been so busy acting like there was nothing going on between the two of them.

It really isn't the done thing. You know... the G A Y thing. Unacceptable behaviour in their own eyes, but for very different reasons. Reasons that Wesley no longer listens to. He does what he wants, for his own reasons, damning the ghosts of his young life for holding him back for so long. Damning his father for trying to make a similar bigot out of Wesley. So what if he likes men? He likes women, too. Likes them just fine. Too much for you, father? He stifles a cold grin. Well, I'll drink to that.

He suspects that deep down Gunn feels pretty much the same, but is still having a hard time working through his own prejudice. It's tough to hate the thing you are. Takes time to come to terms with it, this Wesley knows well. Gunn has only just really come to terms with Angel being a vampire, but he'd still stake him if the need arose, so on the issue of fucking other men...? Jury's still out.

And they were both men, after all. Men of the world. Warriors for good. And if they sometimes both got carried away... so be it. It didn't mean anything. It wasn't romance. It wasn't love. It was...

Wesley reaches for his beer, but finds it empty. He considers getting another, then decides, no, they should leave now, or Gunn may have to add the wonders of a whiskey hangover to his misery tomorrow morning. Something Wesley has become much too accustomed to over the last few months and wouldn't wish on anyone. Besides, he himself only came here for one drink to unwind some after a brief but particularly nasty encounter with a Braclor demon. Plus, he has the truck.

Wesley throws some bills on the bar and takes Gunn's elbow, guiding him outside. Gunn doesn't say a word, just diffidently follows Wesley's lead. They get to Wesley's newly acquired truck, and as he sits behind the wheel, the engine running, Gunn beside him, fiddling with the radio, he realises he doesn't know where to take them. He's not going anywhere near that damned hotel, even if the idea of depositing an inebriated Charles Gunn in their lobby and then storming off without a "by your leave" does sound momentarily appealing. And as for his place? He has never given Lilah a key, and doesn't intend to, but on occasion he has arrived home to find her waiting in his bed. He doesn't think that she'd stoop to something so common as picking the lock, but what Lilah wants, Lilah will usually do her damnedest to get.

He sighs as Gunn lands on a particularly abrasive heavy metal station, and sits back, satisfied with his choice. Wesley had been hoping for a little light opera, but on reflection, this didn't seem to be a night for beauty and clarity. Screaming vocals, wailing guitars and clashing beats it is.

'Where to?' he asks, expecting to be directed to the hotel, where he'll drop Gunn a few blocks away and leave him to his own devices.

'Hotel,' Gunn says simply. Wesley's expression hardens, at which Gunn shakes his head and turns to stare out the window. 'No, man. Some other hotel. You choose.'

Wesley is only too happy to oblige, and just like that, his decision is made.

They cruise the streets in silence, save for the blaring music almost loud enough to drown out their thoughts. Wesley's hands, he knows, once would have itched to turn the music off, but now he finds that he quite likes it. It suits this drive, this night. Instead of a hotel -- there's a Hyatt and a Holiday Inn that he can see from here and several others a mere stone's throw away -- he instead pulls into a small, seedy motel that he knows. It's hardly the three stars that it claims, but it suits their purposes.

Paying cash, Wesley procures them a double room at the far end of the complex, ignoring the pointed glances from the receptionist directed towards the young black man waiting patiently in his truck. Sighing deep in his chest, he wishes he'd parked around the corner, out of sight, but can't seem to find it in him to care too much one way or another. People like this don't intimidate Wesley any longer. Any trouble comes his way he's more than ready for it, not to mention several charms and incantations that can be spat at any narrow-minded troublemaker in less time than it takes to clench a fist.

Accepting his scratched keycard with a grunt clearly not designed to convey thanks, he goes back to the truck and finds Gunn staring blankly at his hands, lying open in his lap. At the sound of Wesley opening the door, the hands close into loose fists, and are pulled back and out of sight. Gunn smiles at Wesley, then catches himself and instead raises his eyebrows in question. 'You get a room?'

Wesley remembers a night, not so very long ago, but so very different from this one. A nightclub, somewhere deep in the heart of the city. A secluded table, enough drinks that caution was, for once, thrown to the wind. A night of laughter and enthusiastic kisses and holding hands. Christ, even dancing. A smiling waitress had interrupted them when their kissing threatened to get out of control for even such an exhibitionist's playground as this.

'Hey, you two!' she'd yelled over the music as she cleared glasses from their table. 'Get a room, would ya?'

They'd looked up, blinking and disorientated, just in time to see her set down two fresh drinks and roll her eyes. 'On the house,' she'd grinned. 'Just try and keep your hands above the table, yeah?'

They'd finished the drinks, left the waitress a huge tip, and taken her advice about the room.

Wesley gets in the truck and hands Gunn their keycard by way of answer. Gunn holds the card, turning it over and over in his hands as Wesley drives to the end of the building, parks the truck and kills the engine. They walk to the room in silence, Gunn relinquishing the keycard when they get to their door. Wesley eyes him strangely for a moment, but Gunn won't meet his eye, so he opens the door and they step inside.

It smells musty, but the bedding looks fresh and the carpet has been recently vacuumed. Amazing, Wesley thinks, leaving the keycard on the bedside table and slipping off his jacket. He hits the switch on the bedside lamp and a muted pale orange glow lights the corner of the room where he stands. He looks up to see Gunn close the front door behind him, cutting off the wedge of light he had been standing in.

For the first time Wesley feels uneasy, and he finds himself suddenly wishing for a mini bar. There were beers for sale in the lobby, but he's loath to go back down there again for anything.

So here they are.

'Good to see you,' Gunn says, standing awkwardly. He's too big to carry off awkward very well. It never did suit him. He was always much better at lounging or looming. 'Missed you, man.'

More confessions? Wesley wonders how many drinks Gunn had had before they met. He's showing signs of the alcohol, but he's not swaying or slurring his words. But the words he's saying are...

'You knew where I was.'

Gunn nods. 'Not that easy, though.'

Wesley can't help but agree. 'It never is.'

'All got so fucked up so fast.' Gunn ran a hand over his bald head in gesture Wesley remembers from times when he was particularly stressed but left without an outlet. 'How did that happen?'

I stole Angel's beloved son based on a lie, and my friends abandoned me after I had my throat slit. Simple when you put it like that.

'Sorry.' For a moment Wesley thinks that Gunn read his mind and is both commiserating and apologising. Then he realises that he's only apologising for asking such a damned stupid question. 'Can we just...' Gunn's gaze flickers up.

'What? You want to fuck now, is that it? Pretend like it'll make everything okay? Help you forget?' His voice is gravelly, and he knows it makes him sound even more like a cold bastard. It gets like that sometimes. Sounds like he needs to clear his throat, but Wesley knows from experience that it won't make a damned bit of difference.

'Don't...' Gunn hesitates when he sees Wesley harden at the prospect of the "Don't be like that" speech. So instead he just nods.

Something softens in Wesley's gaze that Gunn has a hard time reading. Perhaps, he thinks, Wesley hadn't expected the sad honesty, or had expected to have to argue first, or had already decided that this was just another in a long line of mistakes and was wondering how long it would be before he'd be able to get out of there.

Three long strides and Gunn's across the room and well into Wesley's personal space. Gunn touches Wesley's cheek softly, giving Wesley the chance to walk away from this. Wesley just watches, waiting to see what Gunn will do. Gunn raises his other hand so that he's cupping Wesley's face, reacquainting himself with skin that he knows so well, but hasn't touched in months. Hasn't even laid eyes on in a couple of weeks. Gunn isn't sure that any of this is a good idea, but he knows that he was telling the truth when he told Wesley that he missed him. He has.

He leans in slowly and brushes his lips over Wesley's. Gunn realises that he's never initiated a first kiss between them before. He always left that part up to Wesley. Their first kiss ever, Wesley was trembling so bad, so sure of rejection, that Gunn almost didn't realise what was happening because he was so concerned about what was wrong with his friend. By the time his brain had caught up to the situation, his fingers had been tangled in Wesley's hair, those little wireframe glasses knocked askew, and both of them had been hard as hell.

The mere thought of how innocent they'd once been with each other sends a bolt of desire through Gunn strong enough to dispel just a little of their sadness, and he leans into their current kiss, parting welcoming lips. As their tongues touch, Wesley whimpers, his eyes shuttering closed as he grabs at Gunn's hips.

Their tender moment is over.

Wesley kisses him back, hard, more aggressive than Gunn can ever remember, and he struggles to keep up. Already his shirt is yanked more than half off, and Wesley is manoeuvring them back towards the bed. They hit the mattress with a whoomph and writhe against one another, never breaking their kiss, pushing and grabbing and pulling and somehow managing to shed clothes along the way.

Finally, blessedly, naked and they freeze, Wesley on top, trapping Gunn's wrists on either side of his head, looking down with burning intensity. Wesley has one knee bent, his toes digging into the rumpled bedspread, pushing against Gunn with little flexes of his hips. He feels strong, Gunn realises, stronger than before. Before it had always felt like Wesley was a little breakable inside Gunn's embrace. Gunn hopes that fragility hasn't been destroyed permanently.

'This what you wanted?' Wesley asks harshly, his eyes burning bright.

'Y--' Gunn's voice breaks and he can only nod. He realises now that this is Wesley's game, his rules, but can't find it within himself to mind. This is new, but it's old, and it feels right and good and wrong and fucked up and damn but he's missed this. He hadn't realised until just this second quite how much, but now he fully intends to make the most of it.

Wesley flexes again, snugly fitting into the curve of Gunn's hip. He looks so serious that Gunn wishes he would smile, just once. But it doesn't look like he's going to anytime soon, so Gunn raises his head for a kiss, and closes his eyes. Wesley kisses back, pushing Gunn's head down onto the pillows. His hands are clenching on Gunn's wrists in time with the little thrusts of his hips, and soon they're both gasping from it.

They've done this before.

It took them a while to work up the courage to get naked with one another, instead settling for a little groping or the occasional blow job when one of them was feeling brave, or they couldn't stand another moment without giving in to the urge to touch, or to be touched. But they never got past this point of rutting mindlessly against one another. Not that this was an experience to be knocked, mind you. Wesley remembers daydreaming about it when he was supposed to be researching. Sitting in the hotel lobby, a faraway smile on his face as he watched Gunn frowning as he grappled with his own texts. When Gunn looked up in thought and caught his eye, Wesley would blush and busy himself with reading with a renewed vigour. Gunn would immediately check to make sure no one had caught them making doe eyes at one another, then allow himself an indulgent smile of his own. He had no idea what Wesley was doing to him, he just knew that he liked it. He just wished that the whole thing didn't feel so weird. So wrong. Because it wasn't wrong. It was just... Why couldn't he fall in love with someone else? Someone like Cordelia... or like Fred. He wasn't gay. He wasn't. He was just...

Gunn moans as Wesley moves above him on the bed, turning his head into the pillow. Wesley is panting now. Everything feels tight and sweet and hot and wet and alive. There's a sheen of moisture on both of them, dampness pooling at their hips, and God, this feels good.

They've done this before.

Wesley releases one of Gunn's wrists and trails his hand down Gunn's body, through the slippery wetness on his stomach.

They've done this before, but tonight, Wesley decides, is going to be different.

Wesley runs his hand along Gunn's inner thigh until those long, strong legs fall open. He tucks his hand behind Gunn's knee and pulls up gently so that Gunn bends his leg, almost without realising it. He scrapes his nails lightly over the curve of Gunn's backside, smiling grimly because he knows Gunn is ticklish there, but his hand doesn't linger. Instead it moves up and up until...

'Woah!' Gunn's eyes fly open, his muscles suddenly tense. 'Wes, no, I... I mean, can't we just...?'

Wesley shakes his head firmly. 'Not tonight.' He cocks his head to appraise Gunn. 'Don't worry about it. I'll be gentle. Besides it's like riding a bicycle.'

'I never had a bicycle!'

Trying to joke, but Gunn looks scared now, but Wesley doesn't let up, his fingers circling, circling, circling. Gunn tenses and his hips involuntarily lift off the bed as the fingers dip in. Inside. Inside, where no one's ever been before. No one should go there. Not ever.

'Wes... please.'

'Hush.' The circling doesn't stop, but for the tiniest increment of time, Gunn thinks he sees a flicker, a crack in Wesley's hard exterior. 'Don't worry,' Wesley says, this time in a husky whisper, the stuffy, stubborn Englishman gone. He leans in close so his words can be felt against Gunn's ear and send shivers down his spine. 'If you don't like it, I'll stop. But... I guarantee you'll like it.'

'I won't,' Gunn insists. 'I'm sure it feels good an' all, but I'm always gonna have trouble with--' Wesley's fingers slip in again, further this time, and Gunn's words are cut off as he sees stars, hips rising again off the bed. 'What the hell was that?' he gasps, squirming in Wesley's grasp.

'Didn't I guarantee?' Wesley's lips are so close to his ear the words feel like a kiss. He takes Gunn's earlobe between his teeth and tugs on it lightly. 'I'm not generally one for going back on my word.'

'No,' Gunn agrees, 'not usu--'

Another finger slips in. Gunn inhales, his breath hissing over his teeth. 'Goddamn it, English! Are you trying to kill me?' It's sore and it's strange and it burns and all he can think of is how he wants more. A stray thought is trying to take shape in the back of his mind. A stray thought that would suggest to him that Wesley might actually want to fuck him tonight. Fuck him. He might really want to do it. And Gunn might just want to let him. But he's having trouble enough holding onto the present, living second to second, and he can't seem to concentrate on anything other than what Wesley's doing to him right here and right now.

Wesley takes in the tight bowstring of Gunn's body, the way that he's gripping Wesley's free arm so tightly it hurts, and the fact that he hasn't actually tried to stop what Wesley's doing. Not really. It's almost enough to make Wesley smile. 'No,' Wesley says, 'I'm not.'

Wesley's too knowledgeable fingers are almost Gunn's undoing. He's so hard it hurts. So hard his cock is flush against his stomach, begging for attention. But, God help him -- God help him -- he doesn't want Wesley to stop what he's doing. But he can't move. He can't, or the spell will be broken. He can't relax into this, can't acknowledge what he's doing. But he can't stop. He doesn't want to.

So it's with a sense of loss that he realises Wesley has taken his hand away.

No, Gunn wants to say, no, wait. Wait, I changed my mind. I'm an open-minded guy. I can... experiment. Just, please, please, don't stop what you're doing. It feels so right and so strange and I'm all messed up inside just at the thought of what you do to me. And where the hell did you learn how to do this and who have you been doing this with and how could you it was all new and special for us to discover so how could you possibly do these things with anyone else but me? No, he wants to say, don't stop.

He doesn't say a word; just watches to see what Wesley will do next.

Wesley is kneeling between Gunn's spread legs, a little tube that he retrieved from his jacket in one hand, his cock in the other. He's already put on a condom, and he's slicking himself, looking down at Gunn with heavy-lidded eyes. Gunn shudders at the sight and has to concentrate very hard not to come here and now. Wesley tosses the tube on the bed and runs his hand up Gunn's thigh.

Gunn props himself up on his elbows, terrified and supremely turned on. 'Wesley...'

'Didn't I tell you to hush?'

Gunn groans as he watches Wesley's hand reach for his cock. The warmed lube feels good against his sensitised skin. Then there's silence as Wesley slowly strokes the two of them in tandem. Gunn has just started to relax, started to move with Wesley, when the warm hand on his cock disappears. He lifts his head to see Wesley crawling forward on the bed. Wesley kisses him, and he can feel his leg being lifted again, and tucked around Wesley's waist, a lumpy motel pillow tucked under his hips. His heart feels like it's going to burst out of his chest, and he feels empty inside where Wesley has touched him and he's riding a wave too high and too hard. Something huge and blunt pushes at him and he finds himself nudging up to meet it. Just to see. He's curious -- who wouldn't be after coming this far? But then it hurts! Oh God it hurts, and it'll never fit! What was he thinking? He can't, he can't, he can't!

'Charles,' Wesley breathes into his mouth. 'Relax. Let me in.'

Gunn can't believe it when he nods and wills his body to relax. Wesley's pushing again, slowly, but it still hurts. And the angle's not right, so Wesley raises up onto his knees and takes hold of Gunn's hips for leverage. Gunn twists fistfuls of bedspread in his hands, his eyes screwed shut. There's a sudden rush of movement and a burning stretch and then -- oh God -- he's filled. He's surprised to hear a sound very like a sob coming from his mouth.

Wesley goes very still, a stunned expression on his face. Gunn blinks owlishly, taking rapid, shallow breaths. He reaches up and cups Wesley's face.

'This--' He has to stop and swallow his emotions. 'This is new.'

Wesley can only nod, tilting his face into Gunn's palm, but never breaking eye contact. 'Are you...?'

Gunn nods. 'Yeah. I mean, this is...'

'New?' Wesley supplies.

Gunn smiles in response, and it's a warm smile, but is cut short by his apprehension.

'I...' Wesley begins.


But Wesley can only shake his head. Instead of more words, he moves his hips, slowly drawing out and pushing back in. They both moan at the sensation. Gunn's hand slips from Wesley's cheek to grab at his shoulder. Wesley finds that he can't read Gunn's face. He promised pleasure, but finds himself wracked with misgivings.

'Gunn? Are you...? Is this...?'

Gunn clenches his inner muscles and twists his hips ever so slightly. He bites his lower lips and grunts, feeling Wesley buried so deep inside him. 'Wes... will you do something for me?'

Wesley only just stops himself in time from blurting out, "Anything," in reply. Instead he settles for, 'Yes, of course.'


Wesley's eyes widen as he smiles, feeling suddenly, eminently powerful. He nods and draws out again, holding onto Gunn's hips, and thrusting forward, angling his hips every time. Gunn writhes and moans under his touch. Wesley is soon panting, knowing that he can't possibly last long, enveloped as he is in this tight, velvet body. He can feel his climax building in his body and thrusts harder, making Gunn's big hands reach back to grab at the headboard to anchor them. Wesley can't think, can't speak, can barely breathe. He can only watch and feel and move. They're frozen inside this perfect, drawn out moment, oblivious to the outside world. There's only here and now and the thrust and pull of their bodies, working together in a way they really should have a long, long time ago. But this is good, and it's now, and when Wesley manages to reach for Gunn's cock and strokes it as best he can in time with his thrusting, Gunn's pleasurepain frown deepens -- a wholly vulnerable expression that Wesley has never witnessed on those strong features before -- and he comes with a shout, filling Wesley's hand. Eyes snap open, unseeing and amazed, and muscles clench, hard, around Wesley to drag him over the edge as well. Wesley falls forward, his shaking legs no longer able to hold him up, still inside Gunn's grasping body and they cling to one another, breathing heavily until their bodies manage to calm.

Wesley's face is tucked into the crook of Gunn's shoulder, and he presses his forehead into the pillow, wiping away sweat, the cool linen rapidly heating against his skin. He presses a kiss to Gunn's jaw and it's almost an apology because this is when he pulls out, making Gunn hiss at the uncomfortable sensation. Gunn winces as he straightens his legs, exhausted and stiff at the unaccustomed position they've been held in. Wesley quickly disposes of the condom and sits on the edge of the bed, wondering if his trembling, overexerted legs will hold him steady if he stands. He runs a hand through his hair and tries to find something to say, too stunned to think of anything with any worth. Instead he suggests a shower and Gunn readily agrees, however much it seems like he's disinclined to get off the bed any time soon. They take turns padding on unsteady legs to the bathroom, Wesley going first, returning to bed clean, warm and still slightly damp. They climb in and each adopt a side of the bed. Gunn notices that Wesley automatically takes the side closest to the door, something he never used to do, while Wesley is more concerned with the way that Gunn now sleeps on his back, rather than sprawled out on his front, taking up most of the bed. Cuddling just doesn't seem right. They were never cuddlers. Nerves and what ifs always keeping them apart, and it looks like some things never change. And so there lie there in the semi-darkness, trying to process their muddled thoughts over what has just happened.

Wesley doesn't sleep much during the night. The sound of Gunn's light snores beside him are a little bothering, in their own way, but familiar, too, and that's not what keeps him awake. Truth is, he doesn't sleep much at night at all any more. Too many night patrols. Too many ambushes. Too much to be done in the midnight hours to try and keep any semblance of a normal human schedule.

When Gunn wakes, some time around ten, he stretches and rubs a hand over his face. Then he remembers where he is, who he's with, and what they've done. He can't look Wesley in the eye, instead focusing on Wesley's pale shoulder, which he brushes with his fingertips.

To Wesley, this feels like a goodbye.

Gunn rises and dresses quickly without turning on the lights in the darkened room.

'I got to go,' he says, shirt bunched under his chin as he buckles his belt. There's regret in his voice, but Wesley doesn't care. He knows what's coming next. He wonders if this is anything like what Lilah must feel. He tucks one hand behind his head and stares at the ceiling. No, he thinks, this is worse.

'Wes...' Gunn is standing in the middle of the room, ready now to look Wesley in the eye, listen to what he has to say, offer an olive branch. But he can't think of anything to say, and Wesley is just staring at the damn ceiling, expression blank, but with a hard edge, like he doesn't give a crap.

'Wesley? I--' Gunn takes a step forward. Finds that he can't take another. Feels like he should be throwing himself back on the bed, suggesting that they go for breakfast -- just not pancakes, anything but pancakes. Feels like he should be kissing morning stubble and teasing smiles out of the skinny Englishman he just spent the entire night making lo-- fucking.

He can't take another step.

'Thanks, man,' he says, and to say that it sounds inadequate would be a gross understatement. So he tries again. 'Thank you for...'

Wesley doesn't move.

Gunn's shoulders sag as a wave of guilt re-envelopes him. 'I gotta go, man. Have to go meet... the others. Armageddon waits for no man, y'know?'

He gets as far as out into the morning sunshine, the door half pulled shut behind him before Wesley finally speaks.

'Be sure and give my love to Fred, won't you?'

Gunn closes the door.


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