AUTHOR: Katta ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
SERIES/SEQUEL: 11th in the Birthdayverse realities. To read the previous
stories and/or character presentations, go to
SUMMARY: As Angel struggles to reclaim his life, Gunn and Wesley find out
more about each other.
RATING: R for sex and some violence
DISCLAIMER: Belongs to Mutant Enemy, the WB and Joss Whedon, not to me, a
few minor characters aside.
SPOILERS FOR: Warzone (altered for the universe)
FEEDBACK AND ARCHIVE: Gratefully accepted, and please do the former if you
intend to do the latter. :-)
NOTES: Wesley's school has some similarities to Eton, but it isn't
*actually* Eton. It's a warped Angelverse Eton-like school. *g*
THANK YOU: Tammy, for the beta.
Gunn spotted Wesley and the pet vampire on the sidewalk and slowed the truck
to a halt. His first thought was that something was going down, but they
were heading *back* to Wesley's building, so in that case their mission was
He lifted his hand to the horn and then lowered it again, not sure he wanted
them to notice him just yet. They looked very at ease, which was rare for
both of them. Happy, almost. Well, Wes looked happy. Gunn didn't think
"happy" was in the vampire's repertoire.
While he was still watching them, Wesley discovered him, raising a hand in
greeting. The gesture told Gunn at least one reason for Wesley's happiness,
and he started grinning himself, rolling down the window.
"Hey, man!" he shouted. "Cast's off, huh?"
"Indeed." Wesley was beaming as he headed over to the truck, vampire in tow.
"I was going to call you, but I guess now I don't have to."
Gunn stepped down from the truck as Wesley stopped, and he pulled him closer
and stuck his hands into Wesley's back pockets. To his surprise, Wes
stiffened and tried to squirm out of the embrace.
"What's the matter?" Gunn asked and let go, trying to figure out what he'd
"We're in the middle of the street!" Wesley hissed.
Gunn shrugged. "So? There's no one here." His eyes touched the vampire, but
Wes had never had any trouble with the vampire seeing them before, so why
would he now?
"People might be watching from the windows."
Gunn tried very hard to make any sense of this. "It turned dark an hour ago.
They'd have to try really hard to see anything – and I doubt we're that
interesting." But the dismay in Wesley's face made him relent. "Whatever. We
could go inside."
Wesley smiled. "We could do that." His attention shifted to the vampire.
"Angel... are you... do you want to come inside or..."
"I know I said I wanted to take an interest," the vampire replied, "but I
think that's overdoing it." He gave a sort of half-smile that looked eerily
Gunn gave him a sharp glance, wondering what had brought this sudden change.
"You seem... better."
The half-smile turned into an actual smile. "Thanks. I'm trying to be."
"I don't want to kick you out," Wesley said, which made Gunn very nearly
want to kick *him*, out or otherwise.
"Don't worry about it. I'll go see Kate. If she's still talking to me."
Usually, Gunn wouldn't have waited to ask what the hell was going on, but
the vamp was acting more like a person than he had in several weeks, and
being rude suddenly became an issue. So it wasn't until the last glimpse of
the black coat had disappeared into the shadows that he turned to Wesley and
raised his eyebrows. "What was that all about?"
Wesley sighed and lowered his gaze. "He got a message from... I don't know.
His mind. The powers. The gist of it all is, he has to get better."
"And he can do that?" Even though no one could be seen anymore, Gunn looked
thoughtfully down the street. "Just will himself better?"
"At this stage, I very much doubt it." Wes rubbed his forehead like the
frown on it pained him, and Gunn started to regret ever saying anything. He
had liked seeing Wes happy. "Still, he made himself worse before by
embracing the madness, I don't suppose this could hurt."
"Well, that's encouraging."
Wesley's voice was so harsh that Gunn was at loss what to say or do. They
were still standing in the middle of the street, and though he found the
distance between him and Wes ridiculous, he wasn't about to try and make it
smaller again. Instead, he turned around and locked the truck.
"Are we gonna go inside or not?"
Wesley relaxed his stiff posture a bit. "I guess we are."
Once inside the building, Gunn snuck his hand into Wesley's pocket again,
and this time the gesture was rewarded with a smile and a whispered
The reproach was less genuine than the smile, and Gunn just grinned back,
pinching Wesley a little through the fabric.
"Can't you wait for *ten minutes*?"
Gunn's grin grew wider. "No."
"Well, at least get my keys while you're at it."
Gunn obediently dug the apartment keys out of Wesley's other back pocket and
unlocked the door, stepping inside. He meant to get his hands properly on
Wesley as soon as they had entered, but before he'd even had a chance to
return the keys, he found himself pushed up against the wall.
"I want to take you right now," Wesley said in a conversational tone.
Gunn laughed and briefly caught Wesley's mouth with his. "Yeah? Bedroom?"
"No?" Gunn's arms locked around Wesley's waist.
"No. Right here, against the wall."
Gunn laughed again. He let go of Wesley and spun around so he stood with
both hands against the wall and his legs spread wide. "Like this?"
"You look like you're about to get frisked."
"Yeah?" Gunn grinned over his shoulder at Wes. "Come and frisk me, then."
It was supposed to be a joke to release the tension, an association from the
words "against the wall". It was still a joke as Wesley gave a lopsided
shrug and stepped closer. But somehow, when that skinny hand landed on
Gunn's shoulder, for a brief moment it ceased to be a joke, and his heart
He sternly told himself that this was *Wesley*, scrawny, one-armed Brit who
might be picking up some battle skills but was still fairly easy to beat in
a fight. Wes wasn't anything like a real cop.
The thought eased his discomfort, but didn't stop his heart from racing,
because the thought of cop Wesley, in power mode and pushing him up against
the wall... God damn it. He drew a shaky breath.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Wesley asked, his hot breath tickling
"You got to read me my rights."
"This is getting ridiculous."
"Please." Gunn half turned back and kissed Wesley's jaw. "Read me my
Wesley stood silent for a moment, and then let his hand wander further down
Gunn's chest as he said, haltingly, "Uh... You have the right to remain
silent. You have the right to an attorney..."
"No," Gunn protested. "If you don't *use* this right, anything you say can
be used against you in a court of law. *Then* it's you have the right to an
"I never expected you of all people to be into cops and robbers."
"That makes two of us." Gunn couldn't explain the sensation, but tried
anyway. "I think it's because you're so..."
"Unthreatening?" Wesley suggested with a wry smile.
"Well... yeah. And then sometimes... you're not." That was the closest he
could come to telling what he'd seen in Wesley on occasion, during a mission
or when something was very *very* important.
There was a glimmer of understanding in Wesley's eyes, and then Gunn found
himself forcibly turned face against the wall again.
"You have the right to remain silent. If you don't use this right, anything
you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an
attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you
before police questioning."
Gunn let out a long breath and closed his eyes, listening to the steel edge
in Wesley's voice. It was faked, but there was a hint of the real thing in
it, enough to make this interesting.
Wesley's hand was still moving down in a blend between groping and frisking,
and Gunn had just enough time to think "he's gonna..." before the hand
closed on his crotch. He groaned.
"What's this?" Wesley asked, still playing up the mock toughness. "It feels
like a weapon of some sort."
"I've got a license for that one," Gunn replied with a snort.
"But not to keep it hidden," Wesley said, squeezing gently. "And loaded.
Drop your pants."
Gunn's hands felt large and fumbly as he unbuckled his belt and pulled down
"Oh, it *is* loaded," Wesley said with clear delight, stroking a finger up
Resting his head against the wall, Gunn replied, "God, I love you."
If there was such a thing as a spell to stop time, it seemed he had just
found it. The silence fell heavy upon them, and Gunn backpedalled in his
mind. Not the smartest thing to say, maybe, but he couldn't very well take
it back - and besides, they were having *sex*, Wes was holding his *balls*,
it was hardly strange if he got a bit carried away.
Very slowly, Wesley started removing his hand, and Gunn caught it. "Don't."
"I'm going to get some lubrication and a condom."
Okay, so no harm done. But he sure as hell wasn't going to stand around with
his pants down his ankles and wait for Wesley to come back. He tried kicking
off his shoes, but the pants got in the way and so he had to bend over and
unlace them before taking them and the pants off. He tossed the pants over
to the couch and kicked the shoes aside – no point in having them get in the
"Nice!" a voice said behind him, and as Gunn turned around Wesley handed him
the packet and bottle he'd gotten from the bathroom. "Help me out with
these, will you?"
Gunn took them and waited for Wesley to finish getting off his own pants. He
could probably have tucked the bottle away under his elbow and helped out
with that too, but he'd learned to be wary of offering help that hadn't been
asked for. Maybe one day he'd be able to tell the difference between things
he could offer to do and things he couldn't, but until then it was better to
be safe than sorry. Particularly since he'd already made Wes uncomfortable
twice and strike three might mean he missed out on the sex. And so he made
no move until Wesley had gotten his pants off.
Putting a condom on someone else was decidedly weird, but he was starting to
get used to weird. He took his time, partly to hide the fumbling, and partly
because he was in no particular hurry. Touching Wes like this was very nice,
and he found himself thinking that if the next part was as good as this one,
he had a lot to look forward to.
He let his shoulders sink down and smiled at Wesley. "Hey, I'm trying."
Wesley pulled him closer and kissed him softly, letting his hand trail down
from the back of Gunn's head to his neck, and then to the shoulders. Gunn
pressed his shoulder blades hard against the lean fingers and sighed.
The hand moved further down his back and reached his ass, and Wesley let go
of Gunn's mouth to once again say, "Relax."
"Too late for that," Gunn mumbled, feeling the sweat trickle down his back.
The request made more sense when Wesley slipped a finger into his ass. He
tensed up momentarily, but then that finger started to move, and whoah, he'd
had no idea that it could feel so fucking *good*...
He nodded, unable to speak, and Wesley withdrew for a moment, nudging him to
turn against the wall. Gunn turned around and leaned his hands and forehead
against the cool white-tinted surface. He felt no need to worry anymore.
Gunn kept glancing at Wesley as he put his clothes on, and when he came to
his shoes he forgot what he was doing altogether to just look. Wesley was
putting on his shirt, holding the fabric down to his left shoulder with his
chin as he stuck his arm in the sleeve. Wesley's hair was still wet after
the shower he'd taken, and it kept falling into his eyes. Gunn grinned at
Wesley, having finished with the sleeve, started buttoning the shirt and
looked up, raising his eyebrows att Gunn's expression. "Is my appearance
somehow improper?" His tone was dry, but with a touch of humour.
"Nah, it's proper enough." Gunn made no move to get back to his shoes. "Hey,
"That's my name, yes," Wesley replied, eyes cast down towards the buttons he
was doing up.
"Who was... I mean... Who was your first?"
Wesley stilled, sitting down heavily on the couch. "Are we having *that*
"What talk?" Gunn asked, instantly defensive since he felt like he'd put his
foot in his mouth again without realizing how. "I just asked a question.
Which you don't have to answer if you don't want to, so I don't see how it's
Wesley sighed. "Adam Howe."
Not having expected an answer so fast, Gunn didn't catch up at first. "Huh?"
"Adam Howe was my first. I was in E, he was in... lower Sixth, I think."
Okay, great, now Wesley was talking freaky white boy speech again. "What's
"Oh, sorry." Wesley smiled a little and seemed more comfortable. "It's
school years. It'd be like junior year for him and... last year of junior
high for me, I suppose."
That made Gunn snort with laughter. "Not hardly. You'd have been fourteen,
in that case." The pause that followed, and Wesley's expression, made him go
cold. "You were fourteen?"
"Three weeks left to my fifteenth birthday. Yes." Wesley was smiling again,
but there was a wrinkle between his eyes. "Do you still think this isn't a
What Gunn thought was that he might throw up. "What sort of a perv does it
with a fourteen year old boy?"
The smile stayed, though it tightened a bit as if it might turn into
something else. "A seventeen year old boy, Gunn. It's hardly unheard of."
It wasn't, of course. Gunn had friends who claimed a younger age than that
for losing their virginity. But they had been bullshitting, and even if it
was true, they'd done it with girls, not boys – and definitely not with
"So were you..." He cleared his throat. "In love with him?"
The way Wesley furrowed his brow told Gunn the truth even before he
answered. "Not really. But I liked him well enough."
"Well enough to sleep with him?"
While Gunn pondered what to ask next, Wes got a strike of his own. "And
Gunn blinked. "I never did it with a guy before you."
"I know that," Wesley said mildly. "I meant girls."
"Oh. Then... that'd be Dorcas." All this time, and he could barely even say
her name. He was surprised at himself – it wasn't like he had been *that*
fond of her. She was just something he didn't mention. Like the smell of
mildew in the head quarters. Like stuff Wes couldn't do. Like mom. He sat
down next to Wes, feeling like someone was pulling him down.
"Who was she?" Wesley eventually asked.
Gunn shook his head, at loss for what to say. "A girl I knew. There's wasn't
much of a gang back then, but a few of us hung together... You know."
There was an extended pause, and yeah, this was a 'talk'. A talk neither of
them wanted to have, because Gunn didn't want to talk about Dorcas and Wes
clearly didn't want to talk about that Adam guy. But someone was going to
have to say *something* real soon.
He dug his hands into his pockets and as he did so felt a crumpled piece of
paper in one of them. Oh yeah. The blackmail guy.
"Hey, Wes," he said, grateful for the opportunity to skip the 'talk' and
head straight to work. "I got a case for you."
Wesley had brought Gunn to Madame Dorian's before, when they were putting up
posters for the agency. That time, Madame Dorian had been out, and they
hadn't run into anyone who could have pointed out Wesley as a former
customer. He had been lucky.
He wasn't so sure he'd be lucky this time as well, and he didn't feel up to
more embarrassing details from his personal life coming to Gunn's attention
that day. They stepped into the lobby, and a girl Wesley thank God didn't
recognize sent them over to the reception desk. His palm was getting
uncomfortably sweaty, and he wiped it off on the back of his jeans, hoping
Gunn didn't notice how nervous he was.
Fortunately, Gunn seemed occupied with other things, gaping at a nearby
couple with an expression that was half appalled, half fascinated. Wesley
wondered how long it would take before one of the pair asked him to mind his
Madame Dorian came out of the inner room and gave the two of them a warm
smile. "Mr. Wyndham Pryce! And you would be Mr. Gunn, I understand. How nice
to see you both. Are you here on business or pleasure?"
"Business," Wesley said, perhaps a bit too quickly. "One of your clients has
gotten into some trouble..."
"Oh, I couldn't tell you anything about a client," Madame Dorian said, a
worried frown forming on her face. "I'm sure you understand that."
"Well, actually, that *is* the trouble." Her eagerness might be a bit
unnerving with Gunn there listening, but there was no doubt that whatever
had happened, it had happened without her knowledge. "It's a blackmail
"What!?" Her expression changed into one of horror. "Who on earth would..."
Gunn jumped in. "Perpetrator's name is Lenny Edwards. Do you know him?"
She shook her head. "Can't say I do. Who's the girl?"
Wesley looked at Gunn, who grimaced. "Damn, I didn't get her name. But the
guy's called David Nabbit – very rich, kind of dorky?"
She nodded slowly and turned to the receptionist, who was busy with what
looked to be a register of some sort. "Maree, do you know where Lina's at?"
The girl barely looked up. "Coffee break. Should I get her?"
Maree closed the register, gave Wesley and Gunn a toothy smile, and headed
"I do hope you manage to put a stop to this," Madame Dorian told them.
"Otherwise it could be devastating to our reputation. Our girls are usually
very cautious, but then, Lina's young. It's different with the older ones."
Wesley realized that she was trying to reassure him and felt his face heat.
"Oh, there she is. Lina! Talk to these gentlemen."
Lina turned out to be a very pretty and scantily clad demoness with pink
quills sticking out of her head. "Both of them at once?" she asked with
affected delight. "My lucky day."
By now, Wesley couldn't get a word out, and Gunn had to come to his rescue
by pulling out a photograph from his pocket. "Do you know this man?"
Lina glanced at her boss's face, and sighed deeply at what she saw there.
"Figures. Instead of a double paycheck, I get a pair of sleuths. Yeah, I
know him. What do you want to know?"
Wesley's mind was on the case as they headed out, and so he wasn't prepared
when Gunn said, "Okay, spill."
"Why you were doing such a beetroot impression in there. You didn't last
Wesley couldn't help glaring at him. "Last time, we hadn't already had one
awkward discussion that day."
Gunn puckered his lips. "Mhm. You've slept with a demon whore."
Although he'd expected a statement like that, the bluntness of it still
caused Wesley to stammer as he replied, "That's... I... just once."
"Is that a 'once' once or a 'once - twice - twelve times'?" Gunn asked
The question seemed rather unfair, and Wesley forgot to be embarrassed as he
replied, somewhat offended, "Once. I wouldn't lie to you about something
"No, I suppose you wouldn't." Gunn shook his head slowly. "Why? I mean," he
continued before Wesley had a chance to answer, "why a *demon*? There are
tons of girls... guys... you must have known that."
He did. The thought of going to any of the prostitutes Gunn knew shocked
him, mainly because half of them showed up at Anne's on a slow night, and he
knew just how old they were. At Madame Dorian's, the working girls were
ageless predators who knew what they were doing, but that hadn't been the
whole reason why he'd gone there and not to a human. "I was curious, I
"Curious." Gunn voice was flat, and he stopped walking to lean against the
nearest wall and scrutinize Wesley. "I don't even know if I know you."
Wesley didn't either, but then, he barely knew if he knew himself some days.
And he doubted there was another person on the planet that knew him better
than Gunn did. "I'm sorry."
"Fourteen!" Gunn said, making a disbelieving grimace.
So they were back to that. Wesley shrugged. "As I said before, nearly
Gunn sat down on the curb, arms resting on his knees, and sighed.
Wesley sat down too, figuring that he might as well tell it all now and have
it over with. "It was a disaster, you know."
Gunn looked up. "That Adam guy?"
"Yes. I didn't even know him. He called me up one day to make him a cup of
tea, only when I got there he asked me if I knew what a blow job was. When I
said yes, he wanted to know if I could give him one."
Gunn's eyes didn't leave Wesley's face. "And you did?"
"And I did," Wesley confirmed, thinking back on the humiliating occasion. "I
was -- *terrible* -- at it. He had to tell me how to do it, and I still very
nearly gagged." He'd been in tears by the time they were finished, but he
didn't say that. Some things went beyond honesty. "He did call me up again a
few more times, but he'd stick to buggering me." He smiled a little, trying
to ease his own discomfort as well as Gunn's. "I suppose he figured I
wouldn't be able to mess that up."
"Called you up?" Gunn repeated, sounding almost fierce. "Didn't you have a
say in the matter?"
"I did," Wesley said, knowing that he'd always been lucky to catch the
attention of boys who'd give him a choice. "It was more inconspicuous that
way. The older boys always called on the younger to wait on them, because of
the fagging system."
"The *what* system!?"
Wesley had never really given much thought to the multiple meanings of the
word "fag", but Gunn's shocked exclamation made him realize just how strange
that sounded, and he chortled a little. "I don't know why it's called that.
The younger boys have to do household chores for the older ones - make cups
of tea, light fires, polish their shoes..."
"Is that a metaphor for something?" Gunn asked with a suspicious glare.
This time, Wesley really laughed. "It could be. Anyway, the younger boy is
known as a 'fag'."
"You're shitting me."
"I am not."
Gunn looked like he wanted to punch someone. "I don't like it. It's like
some sort of slavery. And then the sex..."
"The sex was voluntary," Wesley pointed out mildly. He'd never turned anyone
down, but then, he had been a lovesick teenager and not popular enough to
worry about such things as decorum.
"For you," Gunn pointed out, alarmingly perceptive. "Was it just this Adam
guy or more of them?"
"About half a dozen more," Wesley said. "And Robert West in my last year,
though he was... more of a boyfriend, I guess you would say."
Gunn sighed deeply and turned his gaze away, staring at nothing. "Dorcas
wanted out of here," he said at long last. "Kept saying she'd go to
Wisconsin, to meet her dad. Except she couldn't just *leave*, she wanted to
go in style, buy a bus ticket, have a proper bag packed. Not some little
hungry street rat showing up on his doorstep, that he'd have to take in from
pity, you know?"
"I do," said Wesley, who had heard similar stories when he worked in the
shelter. They rarely seemed more than fantasies. "So, did she leave?"
Gunn gave a bitter laugh. "Not really. She decided to walk home alone one
night. Got as far as five blocks before she ran into vampires."
"I'm... I'm so sorry." He'd heard similar stories before from people he
knew, of course, but never from someone so close to him, and the
short-spoken condolence seemed inadequate somehow.
His choice of words didn't seem to matter much to Gunn, though, who replied,
"We got to the nest in the end, though. Wiped it out. At least that's
"Is that why... you do what you do?"
Startled at that, Gunn looked back at him and chuckled a bit. "I ain't on a
mission for *revenge*, man. I did what I did long before. I've just gotten
better at it, is all."
"So people don't get killed?"
"People always get *killed*," Gunn said, standing up. "I just make sure we
The choice of pronoun didn't escape Wesley, and he remained seated. As far
as he was concerned, the conversation wasn't over. If he was to be dragged
through old school memories, he wanted something in return. "Do you miss
"I don't think about her." Gunn's voice was short-clipped and hostile, and
Wesley very nearly offered a stuttered, embarrassed apology for going to
Very nearly. But instead he pushed it.
"Why -- Jesus!" The explosive shout only got Wesley calmer. He had made Gunn
upset, but somehow he had a feeling that this was a good thing. "Because you
don't think about that sort of thing! That's not how things work!"
Suspecting that there was more to come, Wesley sat quietly, waiting.
"That's not how things work," Gunn repeated in a lower voice. He turned
away, facing the wall, and his voice was lower still as he continued: "Yeah,
I miss her. But not enough."
And what was there to say to such a simple, gut-wrenching fact? "I see."
"Do you?" Gunn turned back, his face twisted in pain. "When someone dies,
shouldn't there be... shouldn't someone..." He struggled with the words. "I
miss her, but... I can't help it. I'm relieved, too."
"That it wasn't you," Wesley said, wanting to say all the right
reassurances: that it was normal to think that way, it wasn't reprehensible
or immoral, just human.
"That it wasn't *Alonna*."
Even with Alonna halfway across the world, Wesley found that he could still
get jealous of her. "Oh."
"It's not fair, you know," Gunn said, rubbing the back of his neck. "She was
a good kid. I should be able to..."
Was there such a thing as a "should" in a situation like this? Wesley wasn't
so sure – but he knew there was no arguing with guilt. He rose to his feet
awkwardly, and let his hand brush Gunn's – not holding it, on an open street
like this, just a quick caress, skin against skin in silent comfort.
Gunn's fingers curled slightly in response, and the left corner of his mouth
tilted up a bit. "Try to stay alive, okay?"
"I plan on it," Wesley replied, and even though he knew that wasn't what
Gunn was talking about, he added, "It's just a blackmailer."
"This time," Gunn said glumly. "Next time it might be a nest of vampires,
or... oh *shit*!"
Wesley's hand flew to his jacket pocket, and he cursed himself for bringing
only a small knife. "What?"
Gunn exhaled through his teeth and kicked a stone down the street. It
bounced against a trash can before disappearing into the shrubbery. "A nest.
We were going to take it out tonight – it's kind of urgent." All of a
sudden, he sounded like a little boy who wasn't given enough candy to please
The sky was growing lighter already, and Wesley shrugged. "They might have
gone without you."
The frown forming on Gunn's face told Wes that this was not an option he had
previously considered. "Yeah... and even if they haven't, I hate doing these
things after dawn. Still, I can't just ditch them."
"Of course not," Wesley said. When he'd started the agency, it had never
been his intent that Gunn should abandon all other duties to work with him.
That part didn't trouble him, though Gunn's admission about dawn did. A
vampire nest was a lot less dangerous after dawn – if you knew where to find
the nest, after dawn might even be considered the preferable time to
Provided, of course, that you wanted as little trouble as possible. It
seemed Gunn still hadn't gotten over his tendency to see the hunt as a game.
For that reason, it would have been nice to take Gunn with him to the
blackmailer instead. But that wasn't an option. If they lost the goodwill of
the gang, everything would become a lot more difficult.
"I'll get Angel," he said. "I'm sure we can handle the blackmailer together.
You go find that nest."
"You can't," Gunn said with a wry grin that made Wesley realize just how
foolish his previous statement had been.
"No – vampire."
"Vampire," Gunn confirmed.
Wesley threw another glance at the early morning sky. "All right. I suppose
it can wait for tomorrow night. Do you want me to come with you?"
"Nah. Wouldn't go myself if I hadn't said I would. Go get some sleep."
The suggestion was more tempting than Wesley would like to admit. He hadn't
slept since what was now yesterday morning, and even though the last of the
bandages was now gone – thank heavens and good riddance – he was still a bit
sore. "All right. Tomorrow night, then?"
Gunn nodded. "You, me, and the vampire."
Gunn had come to expect a lot of different things from Wesley's pet vampire.
Mad ravings followed by compassion so genuine it was creepy. Ogling of tiny
white girls who could kick your ass in less than a minute. Even rare humour,
though it still managed to throw him every time the vamp attempted it.
But he hadn't expected the bad cop routine. Vampires didn't usually try
intimidation. What they wanted, they could get by force. Maybe it was the
soul that made a difference. Gunn didn't know, but what he *did* know was
that Lenny sleazebag blackmailer Edwards looked about to piss his pants.
Well, good. He still thought fucking demons was a sick thing to do, but
picking on a puny little dork like that Nabbit guy was just low. Served
Edwards right to get a taste of his own medicine.
He had to admit, though, the vamp was good at it. Gunn had lived a long time
on the street, and he wasn't afraid of vampires *or* cops anymore. A combo
of both, though...
"I will dog you every night for the rest of your very short life," the
vampire said, showing all his gleaming fangs in a wicked grin, "until you
bring me what I want. Is that clear?"
Even though Gunn wasn't the target, he shifted on his feet. As for the
sleazebag, he was practically nodding his head off.
"Good." The vampire let go, and morphed his face back to the glum Hollywood
dickhead he usually looked like.
"What!?" Gunn protested. They had gotten a good bunch of vampires that
morning, but there were always more out there, and if he was going to get
his work messed up by Wesley's cases, at least it should be some better
cases than this "We're gonna waste another night on this lamebrain? Forget
it. Let's just follow him home."
"You can't just..." Edwards started to say, but a quick second flash of the
vampire's yellow eyes made him take it back. "Okay, okay. Follow me home.
Take the photos. Just stay the hell out of my life once you're done."
Gunn grinned, glad to have this over with so quickly. "If you stay out of
Wesley had been remarkably quiet during the whole thing, and as they were
getting ready to go, Gunn noticed that he was rubbing his shoulder.
"Are you okay?" Gunn asked, trying to keep his voice low.
Wesley offered a weak smile. "Not very, no."
"Is it the injuries, or just phantoms?"
"Just phantoms," Wesley said.
His voice was slightly sarcastic, and Gunn couldn't blame him. It had been a
stupid thing to say. To him, Wesley's phantom pains were old news compared
to the things that bitch Faith had done, but he knew very well that those
half-healed cuts weren't nearly as painful.
"Sorry." He lift his hand and closed it around Wesley's narrow shoulder in
something that was meant to be both apology and an attempt at healing. "At
least this shouldn't take long. We can go back to headquarters in no time –
or to your place, if you'd prefer that."
"Headquarters will do fine."
Gunn speculated if perhaps it would be best for Wes to leave for
headquarters right away, rather than go with them to wherever seedy Edwards
lived. But he didn't say anything. There was only so much coddling he could
get away with at once, and he didn't feel like pressing his luck.
After a last comforting squeeze, he dropped his hand, and they headed off.
"Man, these are so fucking sick." Gunn turned the photo over in his hand and
scrutinized it in the weak light coming through the window.
He wasn't talking to anyone in particular. Wesley was still lying sprawled
on the floor, more than half asleep, and although the vampire was sitting by
the doorway, his strange mutterings made it clear that he was listening to
someone else entirely.
Gunn felt a twinge of pity that the vamp's attempt to hold his madness back
had failed – but at least he was quiet, not raving, and even now he seemed a
bit "better". Besides, his presence kept people away from the doorway, and
permitted Gunn to run his hand absentmindedly through Wesley's hair as he
looked through the photos.
"Which way is up anyway?"
Wesley turned over, eyes partly closed, and said, "We didn't get those from
the blackmailer for your personal amusement, Gunn." He reached out with a
fumbling hand and snatched the photos away. "Mr. Nabbit has a right to...
"Make a full sentence out of the following words," Gunn said with a grin.
"I. You. Told. So."
Wesley was too shell-shocked by the photos to even glare at Gunn for his
teasing. "Good Lord," he said again. "Why would anyone... ever..."
"So your whore didn't do that?"
"She's not my whore," Wesley said sharply. "And no. She didn't."
The horror in Wesley's voice was pretty comforting after seeing those
pictures, even if the mere thought of your boyfriend having sex with a
demon... Gunn was suddenly very grateful that Wes had such strict principles
about safe sex.
He reached out for the photos, intending to fight Wes over them just for the
sake of it, but was interrupted by the sound of glass breaking. Both their
heads whipped up simultaneously, and the pictures fluttered to the floor.
"What the fuck?"
"The smell," the vampire said, rising to his feet.
A loud cry of "vampires!" came from the outer room, and Gunn was running
towards it before he had even realized that he was standing up. By the time
he made it to the others, the room was already filling with smoke, and the
guys were starting to panic.
"Don't they need an invitation?" someone cried out. Gunn didn't have time to
see who, but the thought stuck to him – who had invited in vampires? It
wasn't because he'd let Wesley's vamp in, was it? It didn't work that way.
And it was light outside. Maybe it wasn't vampires at all, maybe it was some
other kind of demons, or the cops...
While these thoughts were racing through his head, he managed to yell out
orders, "Okay, everyone, get out! Head for the exits!" He pushed the people
he could get his hands on toward the stairs.
It was Wesley, coming up beside him. Gunn pushed him along as well, eager to
get him into safety. "Get out into the daylight!"
A firm hand grabbed him, and another held Wesley back. "STAY DOWN!"
The urgency in the command made quite a few others slow their steps.
Although the bellowing voice didn't sound all that sane, Gunn knew that the
souled vampire was back to his senses again, and something made him resist
the urge to fight the grip.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Vampires. But they're up there."
Somehow Gunn didn't doubt it, and he echoed "Stay down!" to the others just
as the strong grip loosened around his shoulder and a black coat swept past
him towards the exit.
"Stay the fuck down!" Gunn repeated again, and all movement in the room
stopped entirely, just a few coughs and sobs interrupting the sounds from
outside. The sounds of fighting.
But it was day outside - how could he...?
Gunn knew he had to get up there and help. The air was still smoky, but he
found his way to the weapons and grabbed an axe, and then headed for the
exit. He was near the top of the stairs when a burning shape stumbled
"Jesus, man!" he said, dropping the axe so he could take off his jacket and
try to beat out the flames. "You're on fire!"
"I know." Angel looked up with a face that was singed and sooty. "I'm sorry.
They got two of you."
The flames were almost out now, and Gunn picked up his axe again, running
outside. A white van was standing near the building, engine still running
but all doors open and no driver in sight. There were some people lying on
the ground, and the one of them slowly trying to get up he recognized as
He hurried over and helped his friend stand up, noticing the blood staining
Jamie's neck and T-shirt and making sure to look for a pulse. Bobby was
lying by Jamie's feet, and in his case no pulse would be found – his throat
had been torn out.
"What happened?" Gunn asked, supporting Jamie.
"Chain's dead," Jamie said. "And Bobby. The vampires – they were all covered
up. We tried to fight. The one you brought in... he killed them all. He
started burning. Is he dead?"
"No, he's okay." Gunn's thoughts were racing. Chain was dead? Bobby had
never been much of a fighter, and the fact that Jamie was still alive was
only due to his usual dumb luck, but *Chain*? They'd really been in trouble
this time. And he had been sending people up the stairs, into the ambush,
"I think I need to sit down," Jamie said weakly and did just that.
"Yeah," Gunn said, crouching down beside him and trying to examine the neck
wound. It was a pretty neat one, not bleeding much, but of course there was
no way of knowing how much they had taken. "Are you okay?"
"Better than last time." Jamie even tried to smile, though he didn't manage
"You have to stop doing this," Gunn chided gently. "Your luck won't hold up
Someone stepped up behind him, and turning his head he saw Wesley's worried
face. It came to him suddenly that Wesley was *another* person he'd been
ushering outside into the ambush. The thought made him straighten up and
grab hold of Wesley's shoulder as if the threat was still there, as if the
vampires hadn't been killed by one of their own, crazy and burning like a
"I think they're all dead," he mumbled as he embraced Wesley. "But Jesus, if
it hadn't been for Angel..."
At first, Wesley returned the hug, but he felt the Englishman stiffen in his
arms at about the same time that Gunn remembered Jamie.
He threw a glance down, and knew from Jamie's expression that he saw not
only what was done, which was harmless enough, but what it implied. And he
knew that what Jamie saw, Jamie would tell.