TITLE: Latency
AUTHOR: Shrift
E-MAIL: darth_shrift@yahoo.com
RATING: NC-17 for Wesley/Gunn slash
SUMMARY: When time elapses between a stimulus and the response to it, it doesn't mean that response is any less.
NOTES: Thanks to the DRV girls for beta, especially Nestra, because I'm sure I pestered her without meaning to.
DISTRIBUTION: Yes to list archives: UCSL, GunnWesley.
SPOILERS: Late season 2
DISCLAIMER: Shall I invoke the big stompy foot of reality, or does everyone know I don't own them?
WEBSITE: http://bifictionalbedlam.slashcity.net/shrift

by Shrift
September 2001

Gunn's eyes were huge behind the lenses, all black pupil and rich brown iris. He blinked once, then fluttered his eyelids.

"You," Gunn said slowly, "are *so* blind."

"Give," Wesley said. He held out his hand, rather too imperiously perhaps, and waggled his fingers.

Gunn swung his gaze around their barren office. "The walls are bending. Damn, English. What prescription are these?"

Wesley sighed. "My eyesight isn't *that* terrible, Gunn."

Gunn snorted incredulously, reaching up to remove the spectacles. "You're the one who was crawling around on his hands and knees trying to find the damn things and left me all alone to kill the big yellow monster."

"Lrallic demon, more of a mustard color, and give them back." Wesley waggled his hand again and did his best not to laugh at the evil smile that spread over Gunn's face. Gunn's arm shot up into the air, dangling Wesley's glasses from his thumb and forefinger.

"What'll you give me?"

"I'll give you nothing to return my personal property, thank you very much." Wesley lifted to his toes to retrieve his glasses. Gunn laughed and covered Wesley's face with one big hand, holding Wesley in place.

"See, now, that ain't how we play this game."

Wesley's hands were wrapped around Gunn's wrist in the attempt to remove the hand plastered to his face. "How do we play this game, then?"

Gunn laughed again at his muffled voice, a full, earthy sound that filled their office with something other than a spider plant -- that Cordelia was slowly watering to death -- and a dusty set of very cheap office furniture. Cordelia's small attempts at interior decorating had helped, to be sure, but the small, tidy office always felt mostly empty to Wesley unless Gunn was there. Gunn made it feel like home.

Wesley knew it was obvious that he felt that way, but for once in his life, was content with being obvious. Cordelia didn't seem to mind, Angel pretended at obliviousness, and Gunn...

Yes, well. He had yet to see about Gunn.

He had yet to see if those slow, warm smiles and the constant, teasing press of Gunn's hands meant something. Something more than Wesley was used to.

Or not accustomed to, since very few people had made a habit of touching him.

And touch was something he craved.

He craved it like he suspected Angel craved blood fresh from the neck of someone living and warm.

Gunn shook his hand back and forth, forcing Wesley to move with him. "Didn't you have any brothers or sisters growing up?"

Wesley managed to move Gunn's hand enough so that he could glare at the man through Gunn's fingers. "I was an only child, I'll have you know."

"Mm. Goes like this," Gunn smiled. "I'm bigger than you, taller than you, and I got something you want. Gotta pay the toll to get it back."

"That's extortion."

Gunn dangled the glasses. Wesley snatched at them and missed. "Haven't heard the toll yet, English."

Wesley sighed again and managed to drag Gunn's hand down farther. The teasing smile faded from Gunn's face when Wesley pulled his palm down, down over his lips. Something he hadn't meant to do at all, something he wasn't brave enough to do with Gunn, to be blatant about what he wanted.

To be perfectly truthful, most of Wesley's lovers had done the initiating, had let him know when he was wanted. Waiting had become a habit he never bothered to break.

Gunn wasn't pulling his hand away. His warm, firm palm still pressed against Wesley's lips, Wesley's hands circling Gunn's wrist.

A nervous habit made him wet his lips. Gunn's skin tasted salty.

Gunn breathed in sharply.

Wesley knew he must be blinking owlishly, trying to get a fix on Gunn's exact expression since his face had been mildly fuzzy ever since Wesley had looked up from rubbing his eyes to see his glasses perched on Gunn's nose.

And he wondered if he was wrong, if somehow he was responsible for a bit of innocent play turning into something more. If he had ruined everything by being clumsy.

"Gunn," he said softly. "I..."

The bell jangled on the door, and Cordelia appeared, half-in, half-out, her hands full with a collapsible cardboard box of take-out.

"A little help, here!" she demanded. Her streaked hair fell in her face and she shook it out, inelegantly blowing a strand out of her mouth.

They leapt apart like a bad situation comedy. Wesley barked his shin on a chair. Gunn started forward and silently relieved Cordelia of half her burden.

Cordelia filled the sudden vacuum between Wesley and Gunn with chatter while they tucked away kung pao chicken and shrimp fried rice. It was Cordelia who reached out with a napkin to wipe away a persistent spot of crab rangoon on Gunn's cheek.

When the white boxes of food stood empty, Gunn was gone.

Watching him leave, Wesley suddenly wished for his father's presence. To tell him what he had done wrong, and to lock him away under the stairs so he would never do it again.


"You've been acting weird," she said.

Wesley carefully turned a fragile page in his book. "I am weird, Cordelia, something which, in the past, you have taken great pleasure in telling me."

"Yeah, well," she sighed, "there's weird, and then there's weird-weird. And you definitely passed the 'entering weird-weird county' sign a couple of miles back on the freakiness highway, Wesley."

"Oh, really?"

Cordelia frowned at him, hands on her hips. "Is this about Virginia dumping you like the cold-hearted, big-haired bitch with a trust account that she is? Not that I'm still bitter about my trust account going poof, or anything."

Wesley turned another page. "Yes, you've hit the nail on the head, Cordelia. I'm pining away for Virginia. Please, leave me to my sorrow."

She narrowed her eyes. "You think you're funny, don't you?"

Wesley stared back with the most innocent expression he could muster. "No?"

"Is your thing bothering you?"

Genuinely confused, and appalled at what she might be referring to, he said, "My thing?"

She jabbed at the air with her forefinger, rolling her eyes up to the bubbling paint on the ceiling. "The hole in your gut. Jeez."

It ached still, and he had limited movement, but he was certainly in better shape than he had been after Faith, so he said, "It's fine."

"I'm going to find out what's bothering you," she threatened. She turned around and said over her shoulder, "See if I don't!"

"Bully for you, Cordy," he muttered.


"Are you all right, Wesley?"

He nearly slopped hot coffee on his hand. Wesley swore and put the coffee pot down, his mug half-full. "Angel. I didn't hear you come down."

Angel hunched his shoulders, his mouth set in a crooked smile. "Sorry. Sunset."

Wesley dropped a cube of sugar into his mug. He shook the canister of non-dairy creamer. Empty. "I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

Angel continued to hover in the doorway of the kitchen. "Well, Cordy said -"

He stopped at Wesley's snort. Wesley determinedly kept his head down, eyes focused on his coffee mug, stirring the brown liquid with a battered spoon.

Wesley couldn't help but think that the color of the coffee matched Gunn's eyes. He was an infatuated ninny.

"Cordelia said I should check on you," Angel continued.

"As I said before, Angel, I'm fine."

"You sure?"


"You know, if you ever need to talk," Angel said. He sounded funny, like he'd accidentally sat down in a vat of tapioca pudding.

Wesley looked up from his coffee mug and smiled. "If I ever need to talk, there's always Cordelia?"

"Right," Angel said. He turned to go, then paused and asked, "Have you seen Gunn lately?"

The smell of coffee suddenly nauseated him. "No," Wesley said. "I haven't."


A week had passed with no Gunn, and Wesley stood in the basement of his apartment building giving himself a pep talk.

"It's not like I kissed him," he said to the dryer. "He's overreacting."

Wesley nodded, crossing his arms over his chest. Gunn had disappeared for days before with nary a word. Wesley hadn't necessarily done anything wrong.

He hadn't done anything wrong at all.

And perhaps if he repeated that to himself enough, he'd begin to believe it.

He had let the want show in his eyes. And apparently Gunn wasn't inclined to be flattered, or to reciprocate.

That was life. Wesley would deal with it.

But Wesley's throat still closed up with the realization that he would have to find a new best friend.

The dryer shuddered and clunked to a stop. Wesley nudged his empty laundry basket forward with his sock-clad foot and carefully bent down to pull out his clothes.

He didn't know long he had been staring at the hooded sweatshirt in his hands when the buzzer on one of the washers startled him. Who knew when Charles would be back for the clothes Wesley had volunteered to clean after he had erroneously identified a Wrassi demon as a harmless, non-projectile-vomiting Hupta?

He brought the sweatshirt to his nose even though he knew it would no longer smell like Gunn.

The scent of fabric softener made his nose itch.

Wesley put the sweatshirt down in the basket and continued to unload the dryer. He slung it against his hip to carry it upstairs and winced when the action tugged at his scar tissue.

All things considered, he would have preferred a fist in the face to the silence.

He wore the sweatshirt to bed.


"Oh my god," Cordelia said, her voice hushed. She laughed and leaned forward over the table, nudging at Wesley's forearm. "Our waiter is so flirting with you."

Wesley looked up from his newspaper. "I know," he said. He looked back down. He'd been using books and papers as crutches lately so he wouldn't have to look Cordy in the eye. Or Angel, for that matter, even if Angel was currently twenty-four minutes late. Neither of them were particularly socially adept, but they weren't stupid. They would eventually make the connection between Gunn's absence and his...

Well, depression would probably be an accurate description of it.

Cordy was staring at their waiter, a nice enough looking chap. Shorter than Wesley, and blond. Blatantly appreciative. He'd probably write his name and phone number on the bill.

Wesley would probably ignore it.

"You *know*?" she said. "Doesn't that make you uncomfortable, or anything?"

"No," he said.

Cordelia launched her crumpled straw wrapper at him, scoring a direct hit on his earlobe. "And why not?"

He skimmed over an article about a woman who attempted to strangle her cheating husband to death with the cord from a curling iron, and was suing Vidal Sassoon for mental anguish over her imperfectly curled bangs. "It's not that uncommon an occurrence, Cordelia."

She laughed again, her voice high and raucous, but too infectious to be grating. "That's so funny. Because i's not like you're -"

Wesley looked up then, peering at her over his newspaper.

She was going to find out what was bothering him, anyway. Cordelia collected personal information like costume jewelry.

And there really wasn't anyone else to tell, anymore.

Her eyes widened. "Oh. *Oh.*" She smacked his arm. "Why didn't you tell me? Hello? Sharing?"

"It...never came up?" he offered.

"But I've *kissed* you," Cordelia exclaimed. She smacked him again.

>From across the restaurant, their waiter looked confused and verging on disappointed. Wesley took some small satisfaction that at least someone wanted him.

"And I enjoyed it the second time we attempted it," Wesley said.

Cordy blinked. "So what you're saying is that you're a switch-hitter?"


"You know," she flapped her hand back and forth, "you do the pitching and the catching." She frowned. "Or shouldn't I be talking sports?"

"I'm British, Cordelia," he said dryly. "Unless it's cricket, footie or darts, it's not a sport."

Angel slid into the booth next to Cordelia. "Hi. Sorry I'm late."

"Wesley's a bisexual," she announced.

Angel blinked. "Okay."

On the other side of the booth, Wesley groaned and hid his face in his hands.

Angel shifted after a moment and said, "We don't have to throw a party or anything, do we?"


He was in his office picking at his ink blotter with a fingernail when he heard Cordelia scream. Wesley was around his desk in seconds, slamming through the door to find Cordy hunched on the floor beside her desk, on her hands and knees.

Wesley scrambled for her painkillers and a bottle of water, sinking down to the floor next to her. He pulled her close and rubbed a circle on her lower back, her tears hot and humid on his neck.

"V-Venice Beach," she hiccoughed. "Big scary blobby thing. Oh, God. He's going to eat one of the guys who do those henna tattoos down on the strip."

She pulled away and scrubbed at her damp eyes with the back of her hand. He touched her shoulder, and she said, "I'm okay."

"I'm on it," he said, rising.

Cordy clutched at his pants leg. Her tears had smudged her eye makeup; she looked like a lopsided raccoon. "It's daylight. Angel's sleeping. You can't go after this thing alone."

Wesley clenched his jaw for a moment. "Then try reaching Gunn."

She nodded from the floor. Wesley picked up his favorite axe and left her huddled there, reaching for the phone.


Wesley dodged and wished Cordelia had mentioned the stinging tentacles on the demon she had seen in her vision.

It looked like a man o'war with an exoskeleton and the disposition of a pregnant rottweiler high on crack-cocaine.

"What the *hell* do you think you're doing out here?"

He turned at the familiar voice, and his distraction cost him a direct hit along his left side. When Wesley stumbled, Gunn stepped in front of him, swinging his makeshift axe.

Wesley didn't answer, instead saving his breath to help Gunn hack away at the demon's tentacles.

"Stupid motherfucking impatient pansy *ass*," Gunn was muttering, striking the demon with each emphasized syllable.


Gunn whirled out of the way of a striking tentacle, his lips twisted in a snarl. "Why they always have all these damn slimy arms? Just once, I'd like to see a librarian demon. Or a fluffy kitten. A possessed coat rack."

Wesley lopped off an arm and was battered by another before Gunn growled and launched himself at the demon. The setting sun flashed an orange-red on the blade of his axe as he hacked at the tentacled thing; in his fury, Gunn was reducing the demon to quivering piles of jelly.

Gunn finally stopped when it was irrevocably dead, the bottoms of his jeans splattered with demon innards. He was breathing heavily, nostrils flaring. He lifted his messy axe and pointed it at Wesley. "You," he said. "You follow me."

Gunn stalked off across the sand, to the deserted sidewalk along the strip. Wesley followed, trailing silently a few feet behind. Gunn led him to a parking garage one level down from the street. It was dark and cool inside, empty but for Gunn's aging truck parked next to his motorcycle.

They were halfway to Gunn's truck when he spun around and pushed Wesley against one of the support columns. Gunn dropped his axe with a metallic clatter. Wesley let his slide to the concrete, Gunn's hand hard and insistent against his chest.

"You," Gunn said, still angry. "You don't get to pull that shit, Wesley."

"Pull what?" Wesley snapped.

"You don't get to talk, either. Even the Lone fucking Ranger had Tonto, damnit. You don't give a man any time to think, do you?"

"Listen, *Charles*," Wesley said. "I'm not the one who's been missing for nearly two weeks, so I -"

Gunn growled at him, and Wesley's jaw snapped shut with an audible click of teeth. Gunn put more pressure on his hand and said, "You don't go in alone. You never go in alone."

The wildness in Gunn's eyes tugged a memory free from Wesley's mind, a memory of Gunn's expression as he hovered over him, hands covered in Wesley's blood. Pleading with him to keep his eyes open, to keep breathing.

Gunn was afraid. For him.

Wesley had to close his eyes for fear that Gunn's expression would fade away.

"Are you listening to me, English?"

Wesley's eyes snapped open. Gunn's belligerent face was close. Dark. Beautiful. "Gunn," he said.

And then Gunn was on him, his mouth hard and open, tongue pushing in between Wesley's teeth. His big hands held Wesley's face immobile, pressing his body forward to trap Wesley against the support column. Gunn blanketed him shoulder to knee, kissing Wesley like he wanted to eat him alive.

Wesley whimpered when Gunn sucked his tongue into his mouth. It hurt. It felt so good that he wondered if the blobby demon had killed him and this was his eternal reward.

Gunn let his mouth go and Wesley took in a ragged breath, his hands clenched in Gunn's sweatshirt. Gunn's eyes flickered down Wesley's body, stopping at Wesley's hardening groin.

He looked hungry.

Gunn's hands were unbuckling the belt on Wesley's pants, moving quickly, efficiently. "Wanna see you," he said. "Gotta..." he trailed off and shoved his hand down Wesley's boxers.

Wesley gasped and curled into Gunn, moving one hand to cup the bare nape of Gunn's neck. Gunn jacked him lazily, leaning in to bite at Wesley's neck.

"Oh, God," Wesley choked when Gunn sped up, adding a twist and a rub over the head of his cock.

Gunn's mouth closed over his again, and Wesley's moans were swallowed in the slick of tongues and teeth. Wesley could feel Gunn rocking with him, pressing his erection into his hip.

He opened his screwed-shut eyes to see Gunn watching him, dark eyes slitted, as he chewed on Wesley's lower lip. Wesley shuddered and lurched into Gunn's hand.

He sagged into Gunn until his glasses unfogged.

Gunn nuzzled his neck.

Wesley pulled away from him.

Gunn frowned. "What -"

Wesley took off his glasses and tucked them into the front of Gunn's sweatshirt. And then he dropped to his knees.

"Shit," Gunn hissed as Wesley yanked open the button fly in front of him. He tugged the jeans and the boxer briefs down to get at what he wanted and gave the long, hard length a sloppy lick. Gunn's fingers threaded through Wesley's hair. He leaned in for another lick and then brought his hands up, brushing the sensitive skin of Gunn's perineum with a knuckle. He wrapped his other hand around Gunn's dick and took it into his mouth with a wet slurp. "Jesus, Wesley," Gunn groaned. Wesley sucked as he brought his head back up, then plunged down again on Gunn's length.

Gunn rocked his hips forward, fingers flexing, chanting Wesley's name. Wesley's eyes were screwed shut, mouth bobbing up and down on Gunn's cock. He was growing light-headed, but he didn't care.

His sole mission in life was to make Gunn come harder than he'd ever come before.

Gunn started moving erratically, his panting loud in the parking garage. Wesley opened his throat and just took him down until his nose was bumping Gunn's pubic bone. Gunn made a loud, guttural sound that echoed and came in Wesley's mouth.

Gunn eventually dragged Wesley to his feet and kissed him again, their slick, softening cocks rubbing together in a way that made Wesley wish he was sixteen again, not thirtysomething and damaged.

Wesley tugged Gunn's clothing back into place and rebuttoned his jeans, fumbling a bit with his own clothing when Gunn's hands began kneading his ass. Gunn bumped their foreheads together.

"You don't go in alone," Gunn said.

Wesley smiled. "No," he said. "I don't."

The End.


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