TITLE: Games (1/1)
EMAIL: PandoraPandarus@hotmail.com
SUMMARY: Wes & Gunn chill after a hard night’s slayage. Gunn makes a discovery.
SPOILER WARNING: None – set mid/late season 2
DISCLAIMER: "The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui, Sandollar, and David Greenwalt Productions, 20th Century Fox, and whoever else may have a hold upon them. The situation is wholly mine, and I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights."
NOTES: Thanks to the Bitches for their encouragement.
FEEDBACK: God, yes. Pretty please with sugar on?
ARCHIVE: UCSL, GunnWesley & anyone else welcome - just ask. :o)

“What the fuck is ‘Toad in the Hole’?”

Gunn looked down the list of ‘Traditional British Fayre’ with a growing feeling of horror.

“Bubble and Squeak? Black Pudding? Spotted Dick? Wes, you *sure* you supposed to eat this stuff?” Curling Ye-Olde English-Style lettering under laminated plastic. Pick’n’mix prints of dead old white guys on the walls – he recognised Shakespeare. Photo of the British Queen hanging behind the bar under a big old British flag. They might as well call the place UK-U-Like. Tacky, tacky, tacky. This was positively the last time he was letting English choose their post-slaying venue, that was for damn sure.

Until he’d walked into this place, Gunn had been convinced that Wes was the whitest guy in LA. Possibly in the world. Turned out, though, that there were a whole bunch of them in here, all bad dentistry and tea-and-scones accents. Some of them weren’t technically white, but they were still the whitest people Gunn had ever seen. And the music *sucked*. Still, he wasn’t going to stay long – he really should be getting back to the neighbourhood, keep his eye on the local nasties. He was just going to have a quick bite to eat and sink one beer before heading back home. Possibly two beers, but no more.

Wesley shot him a wickedly reprimanding grin.

It did Gunn’s heart good to see how much more relaxed the man was these days – time was when he’d have been all apologies and offering to find another place. Somewhere between getting fired and killing the first demon they faced without Angel, damn if the skinny ass white boy hadn’t found himself a backbone. Or at least got rid of the corncob he’d had rammed up his ass. (Thinking about it, the combination of tequila and brutally murdering a Queen number in a demon karaoke bar probably got rid of the corncob.)

Gunn *liked* seeing this side of Wes.

“Are you mocking my national cuisine, Gunn?”

“Damn right I am – you got a problem with that? This stuff sounds like a list of medical complaints, Wes. I got an appetite worked up from all that slayin’, but there ain’t no way I’m plannin’ to eat no spotty, squeakin’ black toad in no hole,” said the younger man, grinning. “Don’t you eat no normal food back home?”

“Well the menu here is all rather pitched at nostalgic ex-pats, Gunn.” //No shit, bro.// “Perhaps…what about hotdogs in a crispy batter?”

“Whatever, Wes, I trust you. Just order me something that don’t look like it came out of one of Cordy’s visions, OK?”

Wesley picked his way to the bar to place their order and collect the first round of drinks. He realised that he was grinning stupidly, but this did nothing to wipe the look from his face. He was still beaming when he got back to their table carrying two brimming pint glasses and saw his expression echoed on Gunn’s face - the direct result of yet another brush with death and they were both still tingling with adrenaline. The big nasty Big Nasty from Cordelia’s vision was now a sticky paste on the floor of the its warehouse lair and the boys from Angel Investigations were not, so they had hit The Pub to celebrate. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow…well, no, perhaps that wasn’t the most apposite quotation after all.

“Cheers,” said Wes, smiling as he raised his glass. “To us – we really kicked some demon arse.”

“To us!” returned Gunn, grinning back. “Who the hell needs an undead guy moochin’ around in a black coat to get the job done?”

“Certainly not us,” agreed the Englishman, feeling only a slight lurch inside at the mention of Angel.

“Man never did pull his weight,” Gunn said firmly, refusing to explore the big bruise of emotions he felt at thinking about the vampire.

The food, when it came, was hot and – surprisingly – really not half bad. Gunn tore through hot dogs in batter with fluffy mashed potato and dark onion gravy while Wesley ate a spicy chicken curry – which kinda surprised Gunn, ‘cause he’d have bet hard cash Wesley liked his food blander than bland. He thought back to the way Wes had handled himself in the warehouse earlier. Seemed like the prissy little English guy was just chock full of surprises when you got him out from under Angel’s shadow.

The beer flowed freely. Gunn flat out refused to agree with Wesley about the superiority of English beers over American ones, so they had to sample a wide selection of both.

“Research,” said Wesley wisely. “Careful, rigorous research is necessary in order to prove either hypothesis. And it’s your round.”

* * *

Alcohol did not improve Gunn’s hand-eye co-ordination. That said, even three pints the worse for wear Gunn’s hand-eye co-ordination was pretty damned formidable – years of fighting tooth and nail seven days a week with demons whose teeth and nails are a whole lot bigger than yours would do that for a person.

It was the first time he’d played darts and he didn’t think it was going to be his favourite sport any time soon – but he was pretty damn good at it, and it was always cool to whip someone else at their own game. Wes and Gunn were playing against two English salesmen who thought they were shit hot at this game until they came up against the boys from Angel Investigations. Turned out Wes was a kick-ass darts player and had himself quite a reputation – but since Gunn was a darts virgin this was supposed to even things up.

*Supposed* to.

It was kinda funny watching Wes poised in front of the board with a pint glass in one hand and a little dart balanced in the other. His movements were more fluid than usual – like he seemed more at home in his own skin here with Gunn than he generally had around Angel or Cordy. ‘Course, that might be something to do with the beer, but Gunn thought it was more than that. There was nothing self-conscious about the way he sent the little spiked darts slicing through the air into the board – like this was something he *knew* he was good at and so he wasn’t thinking about it, for once. Seemed like maybe Wes did too much thinking. And damned if two girls weren’t checking old Wes out, which Cordy would have found hilarious – they were giving it the full pouty-lip, heaving-cleavage deal. Wes had noticed too and he’d got this relaxed little casual half-smile on his face that was surprisingly sexy. As the third dart pierced the board exactly where Wes had wanted it he smiled easily at them, a definite twinkle in his eye. They giggled and smiled back. Wesley Wyndham Price, chick magnet. Who knew? But then he was still going out with that Virginia Bryce, and she was *fine*. And rich. Gunn grinned. Go, Wes.

“Your turn,” said Wes, flashing a challenging grin at Gunn as he stepped aside. Gunn still felt a little silly throwing the darts – big guy like him hurling these tiny little things like kids’ toys – and he didn’t do as well as Wes, but he still racked up a respectable score. They won.

“God DAMN, we’re good!” he exclaimed, slapping Wesley’s hand jubilantly.

“Are you quite sure that you haven’t done this before?” protested one of the English guys as he handed a little pile of notes to Gunn.

“I’m a fast learner,” replied Gunn, his sly grin oozing sheer wickedness. He glanced back over at Wes. “So what other games you got?”

* * *

Snooker was a lot like pool. Wes wasn’t bad at snooker either, actually, but turned out Gunn was better. Gunn watched the Englishman frowning in concentration as he lined up a shot and wondered why he was still here.

He knew he really oughta be heading home, ‘cause it was getting late now and he’d planned to do a circuit or two, check on some of the new guys. He’d really not seen enough of his crew lately. They were his people, people who’d fought shoulder to shoulder with him, who’d die for him. People he’d die for. And that was a thing of beauty in this unbeautiful world, no two ways about it. He should really be with them right now, ‘cause he had *history* with them – not just a dozen battles, but hundreds of battles. And other stuff, non-demon stuff.

Thing was, though, that Gunn was really enjoying himself – in spite of the ugly ass décor and the CD Collection from hell. Felt like he was actually starting to unwind, which was downright perverse considering where he was. Thought about his relationship with the English guy as he sipped his beer.

Wesley, he realised, looked on him as an *equal*. An equal from a dramatically different background, but an equal just the same. Most of the people in Gunn’s life – the ones who mattered – looked up to him, depended on him to make decisions and be the final authority. Or else it was a competitive thing, with Gunn constantly having to prove himself to them, letting the younger guys know that he was still the boss and they could just take their Alpha-male-wannabe vibes some place else. Never letting his guard down. And he was cool with that, ‘cause that was just the way things were.

But it was *nice*, what he had with Wesley – a friendship that was totally outside all that power-play shit. Had taken him a while to get to know the man and at first Gunn had dismissed him. Then he’d started to realise that Wesley might be a royal pain in the ass at times, but for a whiney little momma’s boy he was pretty damn cool in a crisis. Concluded that Wesley actually *was* at least as smart as he thought he was. Possibly smarter.

It sounded weird, but there was something about Wesley that made Gunn want to look after him – but at the same time he knew Wes could handle himself, wasn’t looking for protection. Didn’t need it. He also knew with absolute certainty that Wes could be trusted to guard his back. Unlike a certain am-I-evil,-am-I-good creature of the night who would remain nameless. Fuck him, anyway, unreliable sonofabitch. Deserting his crew because of some nasty blonde bride-of-Dracula and her dysfunctional grandchild.

Glancing back at Wes, Gunn noticed that the Englishman had got himself another admirer. Only this time it was a guy.

A guy with floppy dark hair and a fashionable shirt, couple of years younger than Wesley and a lot bigger in the shoulders. Looked like he worked out. A guy who was quite blatantly checking out Wesley’s butt as the Englishman bent earnestly over the snooker table to take a particularly tricky shot.

Gunn really wasn’t 100% sure how he felt about that one, but after a moment he decided it was kind of funny – old Wes sure did have it going on tonight. Cordy would laugh her head off when he told her.

It was a perfectly good ass, Gunn had to admit, looking at it objectively. White boy looked more like Waldo than Rambo, but in a good way. Lean, yeah, but muscled under the shirt – not Angel-muscled, admittedly, but still more solid than you’d expect. Gunn’s eyes traced the line of his back and the curve of his ass appreciatively, without really thinking about it. A perfectly good ass. He was all kinds of embarrassed when Wes turned round a moment later, but seemed like the Englishman hadn’t noticed.

“Your turn,” said Wes ruefully, returning to his half-finished pint.

“I’m going to whip your pansy ass,” Gunn told him automatically, and then felt grateful Wes couldn’t see him blushing at the vivid image that brought to mind.

“You’re going to try.”

While Gunn was methodically sinking snooker balls into pockets, he noticed Wesley’s new admirer walking right on up to him. Found it difficult to concentrate on the game then, ‘cause there was this tight feeling in his gut that was probably down to wondering if Wes was about to start a bar fight. That was probably what made him miss the next ball – his fingers were tightening over the cue, holding it like it was a weapon. All of which was just plain foolish, ‘cause no *way* Wesley was about to get into a fight here at Tea-drinkers’ Central.

As Gunn walked back he saw that Wes had this same little half-smile on his face, kind of little-boy pleased but not flustered or nothin’. Quietly confident and kinda sexy without seeming conscious of it. The Englishman’s face was flushed from the alcohol and Gunn could suddenly see why he was getting all this attention. There was nothin’ just like kicking the shit out of a rampagey demon to get a person buzzed and horny. OK, so most likely all Wes was planning to do was head home to make sweet, sweet love to Virginia, but he was giving off some serious *vibes*. Gunn guessed he was probably doing the same thing himself. Just that he’d been paying more attention to who was looking at Wes than who was looking at him - which was odd, now he came to think about it. One thing that Gunn was picking up crystal clear, though, was that whether he meant anything by it or not, Wesley was *flirting* with this guy. Looked perfectly aware of his interest and anything but freaked about it. Smiled at him just like he’d smiled at the two girls – all twinkly eyes and promise of wickedness.

Huh, thought Gunn. So it’s like that, is it? And he really wasn’t sure how he felt about that either, but he knew damn sure that he didn’t like the guy in the fancy shirt who was leaning into Wesley’s personal space. Gunn loomed in front of the guy in a very unsmiling kinda way, snooker cue resting casual-like over one shoulder.

“Gunn, this is James Fletcher, a friend from London. Jamie, Charles Gunn. We…work together,” said Wesley, flashing Gunn a blue-eyed smile that invited him to laugh at the blazing inadequacy of the word “work” when it came to describing their ongoing battle against the forces of darkness.

Gunn gave this Jamie guy his best bone-crunching handshake and looked into his eyes in a decidedly unfriendly manner. “I’m giving you another chance out of the kindness of my heart,” Gunn told Wesley with a nod toward the snooker table, never taking his eyes off Jamie Fletcher.

“Right you are. Just be a mo, Jamie,” said Wes. “Shouldn’t take me long to beat this fellow.”

“In your dreams, English,” shot back Gunn automatically. It was only when he saw James Fletcher’s raised eyebrow that he realised there were a couple of ways a person could take that exchange. He really didn’t like this guy.

“I haven’t seen Wesley in ages – I must say that LA is the last place I’d expect to bump into him. So what is it that you two do, then?” asked Fletcher – and again there were a couple of ways you could take that, especially the way Fletcher said it, but Gunn decided to go with the most obvious.

“Detective Agency,” he said curtly, and was gratified to see Fletcher looking impressed.

* * *

“So you fuck that guy, Wes?”

He hadn’t meant it to come out like that and he hated seeing the way Wes flinched and retreated in on himself, but there was no taking it back now. Once Wes had won the game, once Fletcher had finally wilted under Gunn’s glare and said his goodbyes, once they’d sat down with fresh drinks, the question just burst out of him. In the painful little silence that followed Wesley’s eyes found his for a moment, horrifyingly vulnerable all of a sudden, then darted down to the table. Gunn looked expressionlessly at his own pint, tried to remember if it was his fifth or his sixth. Or maybe his eighth.

“I…that is…” stumbled Wesley, suddenly pitiful. “Yes.” Squared his shoulders and stuck his chin out pugnaciously, a strange mixture of vulnerability and resolve on his face. “Yes, I did. Several times, as a matter of fact, back in Britain. Not that it’s *any* of your damned business.”

Another pause.

“Is that a problem for you, Gunn?”

Is that a problem for me, Gunn asked himself, trying to figure out the mixture of emotions he was feeling. He didn’t know. The question hung in the air between them.

“No, we’re cool,” he said, wondering if it was true. The unvarnished relief he saw leaping in Wesley’s eyes made him angry, for some reason. Wesley shouldn’t ever look like that – afraid or ashamed or whatever the hell that godawful braced-for-pain look was.

He wanted to beat the shit out of James Fletcher and he didn’t give a damn that this wasn’t a remotely logical feeling. The thought of that guy touching Wes made him see red. He couldn’t rid himself of the image of them kissing, wondered how *exactly* they had fucked. Up against a wall? In bed? On the floor? What positions, exactly?

Couldn’t stop wondering how Wesley would move in bed. What it would take to make him moan. How his skin would taste.

“We’re cool,” he repeated reassuringly.

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