Title: In Season
Author: Cipher Muse
Summary: Takes place in the hospital room at the end of Thin Dead Line, and the next morning. Bound to be an AU by next week, but I live in hope.
Disclaimer: Joss owns the copyright, and the penguins belong to nobody but themselves.
Author's Notes: This is a Snippet, and therefore needs no excuse. If it did, I'd just say hi, this list looks like a nice place to be. Also I'm annoyed with Angel over this tedious Darla thing.

In Season
By Cipher Muse

He's ripe, is Gunn. The sweetest, ripest, darkest fruit on the tree. Everywhere on that beautiful body the ripeness and juices seem about to burst from his liquid-melting skin. I thought once that Angel would pluck him and break my heart. I loved him, loved Angel, so much I thought I'd burst myself from over-ripe longing and the decay of loneliness. Instead I fell with a thud and found to my surprise I remained whole though untasted. My rival, my enemy is now my chiefest companion and a delicacy my eyes do savor.

I don't think Angel is mine to love any longer. He lost whatever he might have found in Gunn when he bit instead into his own darkness and found a terrible rot from his past. We are both free now, Charles and I, and though I've lost more of my own juices than I could afford perhaps I now have room to ripen again, under this young man's fluid gaze. Whatever else we know of each other, I recognized that look he cast at me when the bullet came inches from my life. How can I not know, when his eyes hide nothing? He seems so young, and I wonder what miracle allowed him to grow and survive in a darkened war zone yet remain so open, so absorptive of sunlight.

This young man, this creature heavy with vitality risked himself for me with no question in his mind as to why. He risked his own life and the lives of friends from his early years to keep me rooted to this world. He sits by my side, and his gaze never wavers. His smile is full and rich with sweetness and I know that he does indeed love me. I know also that this does not frighten him. He will drink from me, if I let him. He does not fear nurturance. And I will let him.

The breezy whine of Cordelia's words to someone in the corridor breaks through the hazy air between myself and Gunn, and a shadow passes over my heart when I hear a flat tone I know too well. Angel is here. Something within me seems to sour, and my hand falls away from the one holding it so gently. The brightness of daylight I saw in Gunn's eyes fades and I see only black leather and hollow eyes that need me but live in terror of my love. I am too worn, too wounded for the ripest summer fruit. My broken teeth must not mar the perfect flesh.

I am turned away, and I do not know when my companions leave. But when I awaken, the sun is shining once again, and my fears for once are empty husks. For love is still hanging poised above me, sleepy but smiling by my bedside, and has once again plucked my hand from the coverlet.

I look into Charles' enormous wet eyes and tell him what I mean to do.

"I will climb that tree, I will pick that fruit", and he laughs a little at the non sequitur.

"Good morning, Wesley. Orange juice or apple?"

~somewhere left of center~

Oh, the quote. "I will climb that tree, I will pick that fruit" comes from the lovely Song of Solomon, in, um, the Bible. Yeah.

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