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DISTRIBUTION: eterniata, biblio, five minute fucks, all others please ask. I've never said no.

DISCLAIMER: These are not my boys. These boys belong to Joss and many others. Pity.

SPOILERS: Specific for "Thin Dead Line" and possibly the final Pylea arc.

SUMMARY: Wes is not the man others think him to be.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Companion piece to "See." Thanks as always to Kass and Sam for the beta. Fic generated by Sam's SEP challenge: "ice, unapproachable, aloof, must be Wes/Gunn"


Wesley is not by nature an aloof man. But he holds himself apart in a manner that causes strangers to find him cold and a bit snobbish. With his neat appearance and precise speech it's easy to mistake him for a man who considers himself above it all, unapproachable and unfeeling. Made of ice.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Wes feels everything, picks up the slightest nuance of tone in a voice, the smallest gesture, and applies it to that person's perception of him, of Wesley Windham-Price. He sees his own faults in everyone's eyes, lesson learned hard and often at his father's side with the crack of a belt or the darkness of a lonely room for hours at a time.


The most intimidating member of the group, of his new family, Wesley is none the less drawn to Gunn in ways he himself refuses to examine for clarity. Surely Cordelia should be the one who frightens him with her beauty and razor sharp tongue. But he sees through her defenses so easily, recognizes her tactics as her own coping mechanism - inflicting pain before it can be inflicted on her. She is dear to him; he loves her fiercely, protectively, like a sister.

And Angel, who by all means should be the one who makes him tremble in so many ways, who at one time was the object of fantasies involving hero worship and other practices best left unexamined, is merely friend now. Fallen hero, toppled from the pedestal on which Wes has so carefully placed him, returned to them as a simple man who wants just to belong. Wesley can relate to that with a sharp pang of empathy, and so his love for Angel has mellowed. It's not the hot rush of need anymore.

But Gunn. Charles Gunn, who came to them with his own chipped shoulder and dark childhood. Who baited and teased Wesley in what he mistook for pure bullying pleasure until Wes stood up to him. Until they became tentative friends. Certainly in the beginning Wes had not sought Gunn's company but had become at least comfortable when they were together. He has learned to admire Gunn's quick and clever mind that can think around corners that Wes himself can not. He learned to trust the man with his life, and then in one fateful evening he learned that he would place himself in mortal danger for Gunn without hesitation.

And that Gunn would never let him down.

Wes thinks it might be that very event that stripped the barriers away completely. He is at times grateful for the bullet that opened the way for this intensity of feeling, this unbelievable good luck to have a man like Gunn as his friend. Charles Gunn is a good man, Wesley thinks. A proud, honest warrior who has seen his share of battles and wants Wesley at his side. Wes sees nothing but respect in Gunn's eyes when they're together, hears nothing but affection in his voice when they speak. It's unlike anything he has ever experienced in his life, and Wesley is quite besotted.

When he rolls from his bed and answers the door, when he sees Gunn there and steps back to let him in, his heart flips just once. And in the instant the Gunn touches him, kisses him, Wesley believes he might actually be still in bed asleep, dreaming of the warm, broad hand on the back of his neck, the full lips on his own. In the next heartbeat, he decides that he doesn't really give a damn if this is a dream because it's Gunn here touching him, holding him, apartment door wide open for anyone in the world to stroll by and see. For anyone to observe the beauty of Gunn and who he has chosen without shame, and Wes knows in that split second of time what it means to be loved.


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