TITLE: Keeping Company
AUTHOR: Merzibelle
DISCLAIMER: These are not mine. I lay no claim to them. Joss & co. own all... I am merely a mom.
SUMMARY: The first story... a bit of office teasing gets out of hand... or does it?
DEDICATION: This is for JH, who put up with a lot before it went to 'press'.
DISTRIBUTION: Archive permission is hereby granted to: Bookish; A Whole New World; Wishing Hearts; Gifted; Wesleyan Aria; and Is It That Obvious? Anyone else, please ask.
PAIRING: Wes/Fred/Gunn
SERIES: Keeping Company
FEEDBACK: Much appreciated; please send to: meribeth@aesiraven.com
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is set after Couplet but prior to Loyalty in that odd time when Wes is beginning his downward turn. I don't know if it's going to stay with canon or not.


Keeping Company

Wesley watched somewhat sourly as Fred and Gunn lowered their phones and smiled at each other. They were so sickeningly sweet at times, this being one of them, that he truly hated them. They had everything he wanted and couldn't have. Shaking his head, he started to chuckle at them. "You're never going to get anywhere kissing her like that," he muttered as he turned away, going back to his research.

"Like you can do any better, English." Gunn stood with one arm around Fred's waist as he addressed Wesley. "Cordy told me all about that kiss you laid on her."

"Yeah," Fred echoed. "She told me too. Something about slobbering on her."

Wes rested his hands on either side of him on the marble counter top. He drew in a breath. Fuck it, he thought, turning to face the pair of them. Smirking a bit, he stalked toward them. "So, Cordelia says I can't kiss?" He raised an eyebrow as he asked the question, continuing to stalk them. "She certainly didn't complain the second time." He came to a halt before the pair of them, reaching a hand out to run the backs of his fingers over Fred's cheek, brushing his thumb over her lower lip before shifting his attention to Gunn. He didn't give the man any real warning, just reached around Gunn's neck and pulled him into a kiss.

Wes felt Gunn tense and sensed he was about to be shoved away. When Gunn brought his hands up, resting them on Wesley's chest to start to do just that, Wes tightened his hold on Gunn's neck while his other arm went around Gunn's waist, holding the younger man still. He had dreamed of this for too long and now savored the feel of Gunn's mouth under his; Wes licked Gunn's lower lip, tracing it for a moment before deepening the kiss and just as suddenly as Gunn had started to fight, the younger man stilled, almost but not quite relaxing, as Wes continued the kiss. He slipped his tongue along Gunn's for a brief moment in a bit of gentle, erotic play before slowly breaking the kiss.

Mentally chuckling at Gunn's somewhat shocked and dazed expression, he cast a glance at Fred, who was watching them, her eyes wide with surprise, and something else, something that made him wonder what she was thinking having watched him with Gunn. Wes' smirk deepened and he released Gunn to pull Fred to him, kissing her just as thoroughly as he had Gunn. Releasing her, he stalked across the room, snatching his jacket off the hook by the office door. Turning back to where they stood in the lobby, he smiled at the way they stared at each other in a state of almost shock. Fred had one hand pressed against her mouth, just staring into space, while Gunn looked like he couldn't decide how to feel. Shaking his head, Wes exited the lobby, deliberately slamming the hotel's front door behind him.


The slam of the front door brought Gunn out of his state of shock. He blinked in surprise, his eyes refocusing on Fred who was staring at him. If her expression was anything to go by, she was as dazed and confused as he was. He cursed, dropping onto the sofa that was but a few steps away. "What the hell was that? What the hell did he think he was doing?"

"A kiss," Fred sighed. "A very good kiss. And proving us wrong...I think."

"I knew that," Gunn replied. "I mean what was that?"

Fred turned to stare at Gunn. "I don't understand. What d'ya mean?" She crossed the short space to drop onto the sofa beside him, turning a bit so that she could face him. She watched her boyfriend, trying to figure out what he was thinking, what was going on in his head.

Gunn sat on the sofa, staring at the doors that Wes had exited through. He was just pissed. That's all it was. English's being bitter and petty because I have the girl. He shook his head, sighing. "Damn but Cordy was wrong," he said quietly.

"I know," Fred replied just as quietly. She turned around completely so that she could lie on the couch with her head in Gunn's lap. She looked up at him and smiled. "Did you like it?"

"I..." Gunn started to answer, then stopped. Did I? Gunn thought. Did I like Wes kissing me? Hell! Gunn stroked his fingers through Fred's hair. "Why?" he asked her, trying to get the conversation onto something else.

"I wanna know," Fred said softly, catching his hand in her own, her Texas accent thickening as she talked. "Please, Charles. You promised no secrets, no lies. So tell me."

"Hell, baby!" Gunn jerked away from her, all but tumbling her onto the floor. Fred scrambled up just in time for him to climb to his feet and pace away from her. "Men don't do that."

"Do what?" Fred watched Gunn pace, knowing that if she weren't there he'd likely be ignoring it, probably be forcing events from his mind as if it had never happened at all.

"Men don't get off on having another guy all over them like that," Gunn muttered before addressing her. "I shouldn't be getting off on having another guy all over my girl. Why is it so interesting to see you in his arms, looking like you're gonna crawl inside him to get more?"

"Are you upset with me? Is that it?" Fred asked, rising and going to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing up against his back. She drew in a deep breath before continuing in a very quiet, shaky voice. "Are you upset because I liked what Wes did? That I liked watching him kiss you, the way that kiss made me all tingly inside?"

"I'm upset with me and mad at him. He shouldn't have kissed you. You're my girl," he said, turning around to wrap his own arms around her. And he sure as hell shouldn't have kissed me, he thought before speaking again. "No, to be honest, I have no idea how I feel." He rested his cheek against the top of her head, holding her tightly. "I think I felt the same way watching him kiss you." He stepped back a pace, cupping her chin in his hand. "I could tell you liked it: his kissing you, watching us." Gunn chuckled at her surprised expression. "I wanna know why he did it. Was it just because we were picking on him or...?"

"Or because he wanted to?" Fred pulled away from Gunn, sighing and returning to the sofa. Sitting down, she patted the space next to her. After Gunn joined her, she shifted about to face him, curling her legs under her, and twined a strand of hair around her fingers, anything to keep her hands busy while she thought. She stared at Gunn for several minutes, watching, as he got lost in his own thoughts before she finally broke the thick silence in the room. "Charles?"

"Yeah, baby?" Gunn shoved all his thoughts into a dark corner; he wasn't about to admit to her that he had been wondering if he could get Wes to kiss him again--just to see what was so intriguing about it.

"I think I want him to kiss me again." Fred spoke very quietly, almost fearing Gunn's reaction to her statement. She paused, took a deep breath and continued, "I'd like to watch him kiss you again too."

Gunn stared at Fred in disbelief at her voicing his own thoughts, suitably rearranged to fit her perspective. Gunn rose to his feet, tugging Fred off the sofa. "We need to talk to him, find out what was going through his head." When Fred started toward the phones, Gunn tightened his hold on her hand. "No, we're going to him. I don't think this is something that we want overheard."

Fred nodded, falling into step with Gunn as they headed for the doors. "You're right. Definitely don't want anyone to know." She smiled up at Gunn as the walked. "Our little secret."


Wes entered his apartment, tossing his jacket over a chair and heading for the cabinet where he kept his liquor, grabbing a bottle and a glass. Pouring the scotch into the glass, he recapped the bottle, setting it on the kitchen counter and heading into the still dark living room. He settled into a chair, running a hand through his hair and taking a stiff drink from the glass in his hand.

You've done it now, Wesley. You should never have kissed them, Wes thought, castigating himself for having risen to their baiting and giving into his own desperate yearnings for them. They will never talk to you again. You'll be lucky if Gunn doesn't come here and beat you within an inch of your life.

Wes leaned back his chair, trying to get his mental voice to quiet. He didn't need to be yelled at by himself. He'd be getting enough of that later this evening or tomorrow when Gunn had gotten over his shock. You knew that he wasn't interested in you. You even knew that she wasn't interested in you. Yet you did it anyway. Wes set the glass aside on the coffee table, tossing his glasses beside it and running his hands into his hair. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees and pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. You've probably ruined the best friendships you ever had with this foolish stunt.

Behind his closed eyes, Wes recalled those tempting kisses. Fred, sweet, all soft temptation, while Gunn, on the other hand, was all hard angles and crisp edges. I wonder what they had eaten that they both tasted like chocolate, sharp and bittersweet. Wes pressed his hands harder against his eyes, sighing softly. Bittersweet--a good word, that, Wes thought. I've ruined everything. Even if they don't hate me, I'll never have a chance with either of them. Hell, I can't even decide which of them I want more. I would dearly love to have either of them in my arms, in my bed. Be honest Wes. You want them both.


Gunn closed the truck's door, circling it to climb in the other side. Leaning forward, he started it, sitting back with a sigh. Momma would be spinning in her grave if she knew what I was thinking, Gunn thought somewhat sadly. Not that she isn't already, thinking of me selling out my people to date a white girl. Gunn shook his head, pulling out of the Hyperion's drive and into LA's nighttime traffic. I'm an average guy. What is it about my best friend that makes me wonder if that kiss was a one off thing? English is a pansy-ass, uptight British guy with an interest in my girl. It can't be more than that. He couldn't be interested in me with the way that he watched her all the time. What was he thinking, kissing me like that? As they pulled to a stop at a red light, Gunn cast a glance at Fred, but she seemed to be intent on the traffic that was passing by. Gunn reached out a hand to her, needing to reassure himself that she was with him.

Feeling his fingers close over hers, Fred tore her gaze from the windows to look at Gunn. He seemed tenser than when they'd left the hotel. She tilted her head to the side, staring at him for a moment; he seemed to be thinking as much as she was. With a quick squeeze of Gunn's fingers and a shy little smile, Fred returned her attention to the traffic. She didn't really want to examine her feelings yet. She wanted more, but what was it that she wanted?

Gunn navigated the streets of LA with an ease that only a native of the city could have, deftly avoiding all the hazards, save for the ones developing in his own mind. Wes has definitely learned how to kiss after that mess that Cordy described. What did he mean by she liked it the second time? Gunn made a mental note to ask Wes that. Is Cordelia holding out on us? He gripped the steering wheel tighter as he pulled off the main roads into the residential area where Wes' apartment complex was, his mind still racing. I can't possibly want him to kiss me again, to touch me.

The thoughts and the images that accompanied them made him squirm. He couldn't believe how he was reacting to the mere thought of having Wes kiss him, maybe even touch him. It was suddenly too warm in the truck and he reached for the window, cracking it to allow the slightly cool, damp night air distract him. Yuck! Gunn squirmed in response to his own thoughts. Think something else! he firmly told himself, forcing the thoughts of Wes' kisses into a dark corner. There's no way that I liked that. No way in hell. Gunn reassured himself of his desire for Fred, even as a nagging voice reminded him of how it felt to have Wes' hand on his back, reminded him of Wes' taste.

Fred... Fred and Wesley... Fred and Wesley kissing... That thought made him squirm in his seat again. My girl and my best friend, Gunn drew in a breath, letting it out slowly. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I don't want to lose that by denying her a chance to find herself. Besides, then I'll get to see her kiss him again.

With a heartfelt sigh, Gunn turned the truck off and sat back, staring at Wes' apartment building. He just sat there. Do I really want to know the answers? Gunn blinked when he felt Fred place a hand on his arm. Turning to her, he snapped, "What?" Seeing her eyes widen in surprise, he quickly apologized. "I'm sorry, baby."

"Are we going to sit in the truck all night or go in and talk to him?" Fred asked softly, a bit unnerved by Gunn's snapping at her. "We did come to talk to him." She wondered what had happened for the closer the came to Wes', the quieter Gunn had gotten until he was totally silent for the last five minutes of the drive. "Charles, sitting out here isn't going to tell us anything. We can't let what happened affect work. We need to talk to Wesley."

"I know, baby." Gunn took in a deep breath, reaching for the door handle and climbing out of the truck. Circling the truck, he opened Fred's door for her, handing her out of the truck and wrapping his arm around her shoulders. Gunn drew in a deep breath. "You really want him to kiss you again?"

"Yes, Charles." Fred turned to face Gunn, staring up at him where they stood beside the truck. "I really want him to."

"This is hard for me, you know."

"I know." Fred rose up on her toes and kissed him quickly. She settled back, letting him guide her up the walk and biting her lip to keep in all the words that wanted to spill out. The part of her that was a proper 'good' girl was screaming in denial at the mere fact that she'd liked watching her boyfriend get kissed by their friend; the rest of her was wondering if she was ever going to have a chance to see it again. That same side of her was wondering what it would be like to feel their hands on her, touching her and each other.

Fred stopped in the middle of the hallway leading to Wes' apartment and turned again to Gunn. "Charles?"

"Yeah, baby?" Gunn's flat tone confirmed Fred's half-formed suspicions that he was upset with her and jealous over her curiosity with Wesley's kisses.

"You know this doesn't mean... well..." Fred drew in a breath, trying to sort out her thoughts. "I like Wesley. I always have, but you're the man I'm with... you're the one I go home with, but..."

Gunn focused his attention on Fred, glad for the distraction from his thoughts which had shifted a bit to feature Fred getting it on with his best friend. That was more than a bit disturbing. "But what, babe?"

"I'm thinking things that a good Southern girl shouldn't," Fred whispered, dropping her gaze to the floor. "I wanna know what it's like to have both of you. If you don't want to know what Wes meant, if you want to forget it, I'll understand. Really I will."

Fred's barely audible whisper, repeating Gunn's own half-formed thoughts, angered Gunn for about half a second, then it dawned on him. I'm jealous of Wesley for getting her all hot and bothered like this, that it wasn't just me. Shaking his head, Gunn sighed. "As much as I'd like to forget it, Wes has me thinking things I shouldn't too." Gunn reached out a hand, tilting Fred's chin up so that she'd look at him. "Fred, do you really want him?" Gunn watched as Fred nodded, blushing furiously and blinking at him, her thoughts plain in her eyes. "All we're doing tonight is one kiss and some talking. That's all I can take. Understand?"

Shivering a bit at the thought of kissing Wesley again and the look in Gunn's eyes, Fred forced all those thoughts about Wes, Gunn and herself from her mind and, after a final quick glance at Gunn, rapped firmly on Wes' door.


Wes lifted his head from his hands, staring blankly at the door for a moment before slowly rising to see who had come to his place. He leaned heavily against the doorframe as he turned the knob. On the other side stood Fred and Gunn. He stepped back, opening the door for them to come in though he didn't say a word to them. He closed the door behind them, watching as Gunn crossed the room, picking up Wes' glass of scotch along the way.

The couple sat on the sofa, fairly close together. Wes leaned on the door for a moment before circling behind the sofa to retrieve the scotch bottle and another glass from the kitchen. He poured himself a fresh glass, half-glaring at Gunn as he did so, before sitting down again in his chair, setting the bottle in front of him on the coffee table.

Gunn took a stiff drink of Wes' scotch and grimaced at the taste. He stared at the glass, and then shrugged, downing the rest. It was definitely the bracing he needed for this conversation. Without thinking he held the glass out to Wesley, silently demanding a refill. After Wes refilled the glass, he took a drink, repeating his grimace. "That's nasty."

Fred glared at both men, wondering what was going on with all this male posturing. Shaking her head, she reached out a hand and took the glass from Gunn only to have him take it back again. Sighing, she focused on Wesley, surprised that Wes wasn't smirking and proud of himself. That he was just sitting there waiting for something.

Wes knew that he was being more than a bit rude, but didn't know what to say that wouldn't make matters worse than they already were. Instead, he concentrated on his drink, watching them over the rim of the glass. As he watched, they shared a look and then Fred started to talk.

"Wes, we were kinda wondering... I mean... why did..." Fred alternated stammering and blushing until she finally cast an imploring glance at Gunn, hoping that he'd take the hint.

"What Fred's trying to say is we were wondering why you kissed us." Gunn was amazingly proud of himself for getting the question out without yelling or cursing. He sat back on Wes' sofa, draping an arm along the back behind Fred's head, idly playing with a few strands of her hair.

Wes almost choked on his scotch, he swallowed it so fast. That was definitely not the reaction that he was expecting. He'd expected yelling, cursing, even a punch or two--not this calm conversation. Lowering the glass so that it dangled a bit loosely from one hand, that hand now resting on the arm of the chair, Wes drew in a breath and released it slowly. "I wanted to," he said into the thickening silence. "The teasing just gave me an opening." He rose from the chair, pacing across the room. "I suppose that you're both angry with me now?" He turned his back to them both, resting an arm on the bookshelves in front of him. "Just, please, don't say that this ruined our friendship."

"I'll be honest with you, English. You shocked the hell outta me," Gunn answered. He considered the other man, could almost see the tension radiating off him. Gunn inclined his head to one side, thinking rapidly. I may not be as educated as Wes and my girl, but he almost looks like he's expecting to get beaten. "Wesley?"

Fred shifted uncomfortably on the sofa. She cast a concerned glance at Gunn before speaking. "Wes? I don't give up on my friends." She rose from the sofa to cross the room and rest a reassuring hand on Wes' back. "Charles and I talked a bit." She bit her lip, trying to think of the proper way to ask the question, trying not to giggle at the way Gunn was waving his hands at her. She drew in a breath, held it for a moment then rushed the question out. "Wouldyoudoitagain?"

Wes whirled around, staring in surprise at both of them. "Could you translate that?" he asked, a tiny hint of laughter in his voice. "She couldn't possibly have asked what I think she asked." He considered both of them, wondering what exactly was going through their minds. Wes knew he had had just enough scotch to take the edge off his nerves, enough to ensure that he was relaxed. "Gunn?"

"She asked if you would do it again."

"That's what I thought she said." Wes leaned back against the bookcase, holding a hand out to Fred so that he could pull her around in front of him. "Do you want me to?" he asked softly, watching as Fred looked away, blushing, and, much to his amazement, Gunn blushed a bit as well. They stared at each other for a long moment, then Fred spoke again. "Yes, please."

Wes considered her request, most of his attention on Gunn, seeing only a bit of reserved curiosity in his eyes. There was nothing in Gunn's expression that actively forbade Fred's request, but Wes wanted to be certain. He drew in a breath, tilting his head toward Fred, and waited a moment.

When Gunn nodded in response to the unspoken question, Wes shifted somewhat uncomfortably. He dropped Fred's hand with a sigh. "Are you two sure about this? I don't want to cause any problems between you... between all of us. What do you want from me?" He raised the glass, sipping at the scotch to try to cover his nerves and his desire.

"Damnit, Wes. Kiss her." Gunn's tone, firm, almost commanding, caused both Fred and Wes to look at him in surprise. "We've talked about it. We know where we're coming from. Now kiss her." "Charles!" Fred gasped out, surprised at the demanding tone from her boyfriend. She was more surprised when Wes only chuckled softly and tugged her closer to him.

"You're certain about this then?" Wes asked, watching Gunn, not Fred. Wes felt nowhere near as confident as he sounded and hoped that neither of them heard the quaver in his voice. Now that he was certain that he had Gunn's permission to touch his lady, Wes shifted his attention from Gunn to Fred, drawing a breath and kissing her.

Gunn watched, fascinated, at the way Fred melted into Wesley. That was the best description he could give for her reaction. She clutched Wes' shoulders, curling into his body, and whimpered. Gunn rose from the sofa, setting his glass aside, crossing the room to take Wes' from him before the other man dropped it. Setting Wes' glass on the bookcase behind Fred, Gunn placed a hand on Fred's back, stroking her back and stepping behind her. When Wes pulled away from Fred, she leaned back into Gunn, just staring.

"Liked that?" Wes murmured as he noted Fred's dazed reaction. He lifted his eyes from her to Gunn, sharing a bit of a smile with the other man. "I think she liked it," Wes said softly, resting a hand on Fred's waist and watching Gunn. "Would you?"

"I agree. She did." Gunn considered the question, forcing down his initial, immediate reaction to Wes' almost sleepy expression. "Yeah, English." Despite the casual, thrown off words, Gunn smiled, putting his hand over Wes' on Fred's waist. He didn't really understand why he was doing what he was doing, but he did it anyway, stroking Fred's waist and Wes' hand with his thumb. This is right, he thought for a brief moment before Wes startled him by simply leaning over Fred's shoulder and brushing a very tentative kiss on his lips. This was nothing like the very practiced kiss Wes had given him at the hotel, more a question then a statement.

It was a question that Charles Gunn had never even considered, but now that it had been asked, he instinctively answered. As Wes pulled away, Gunn leaned over Fred's shoulder, raising his free hand to pull Wes back toward him. He didn't want to think, just feel like he had at the hotel. Don't make me ask, English, Gunn thought just before Wes obliterated all thought by kissing him.

Wes stepped back from both of them, though he left his hand on Fred, not wanting to give up that little bit of a connection he had to them. "Why?" he asked softly. "Why are you doing this?" He reached out with his other hand for the glass of scotch, retrieving it from the bookcase and taking a healthy drink. "Why are you here and doing this to me?"

Fred glared at Wesley, taking the glass from his hand and returning it to the bookcase. "Doin' what?" Fred asked as she squirmed until she was no longer between them but was standing in front of the bookcase with Wes' glass behind her. She blushed after she asked the question, causing both men to smile at her. She looked from Gunn to Wes and back, and then sighed. "Never mind," she murmured, crossing her arms in front of her.

"English, we wanted to know what was going through your head earlier," Gunn answered, knowing that Fred wasn't getting it. "That and she wanted to kiss you again." Gunn tilted his head to one side.

"Just Fred?" Wes asked softly, gesturing toward the sofa as he headed for his chair. He, if no one else, needed to sit down. He settled in the chair, reaching toward Gunn's abandoned glass on the table only to pull his hand back with a yelp when Fred scampered across the room and smacked him.

"You don't need the drink." Fred glared at Wes, then harrumphed. She snatched the glass from the table, grabbing the bottle as well. She tucked the bottle under one arm while she got Wes' glass off the bookcase. She carted the whole mess into Wes' kitchen where she left everything on the counter before returning to the living room. "Neither of you need the drinks." She stood in the center of the room, glaring at both men until they nodded, absently agreeing with her. She perched on the sofa, waiting for someone to say something.

The silence in the apartment deepened, unnerving all three of them until Gunn finally sighed and crossed the room to sit beside Fred. He didn't realize how tense he was until Fred scooted close to him and began to stroke his arm. He gradually relaxed, honestly thinking about Wes' question. Instead of answering him, he asked Fred one of his own. "What you said in the hallway, did you mean it?"


"Yeah," Gunn interrupted before she could finish. "That."

"What did she say?" Wes asked Gunn, and then shook his head. "I'm sorry, Fred. I shouldn't talk about you as if you weren't here." Wes leaned back in the chair, noting how close they were to each other and smiled. At least Gunn didn't run when I kissed him, Wes thought as he watched them.

Fred blushed, looking down at the floor. I am not a child. Why do I keep behaving like one? she thought to herself. She gathered herself and raised her eyes to meet Wes'. "I told Charles that I wanted both of you," she said quietly, somewhat meekly. "I also told Charles that I'd understand if he had problems with the idea."

Wes knew his expression reflected his shock as he stared at Fred for several long moments before he managed to completely process everything. "Charles?" he asked, watching the other man. He knew that it was Gunn who was the pivotal person in this. I'm not going to push things. As much as I want both of them, I'll not jeopardize their relationship with each other for a moment's pleasure for myself. Wes hoped that his thoughts weren't visible to them as he waited to hear what Gunn had to say.

Gunn wanted to squirm as both Fred and Wes stared at him. He rose from the sofa, circling behind it to pace as he thought. What do I want? Do I want to take a chance or play it safe? He considered the questions as he paced, ignoring everything else as he thought. Playing it safe means no more of those interesting kisses and stifling my girl. Gunn stopped pacing, leaning on the back of the sofa and drawing a breath. Meeting Wes' eyes, he finally spoke. "I told Fred that all we were doing tonight was talking, to find out what you were doing when you kissed us." Gunn paused, slipping a hand under Fred's hair to stroke her neck. "English, I don't know where we go from here. I know what Fred wants. What about you?"

"This isn't about me," Wes replied. He considered his words carefully as he spoke, not wanting to upset either of them, but knowing that he needed to be honest about his feelings with them. "It's about the two of you. You and Fred are together and happy. You don't need me to mess that up." He looked away, dropping his gaze to the floor. "I'm not important enough--good enough--for either of you."

"Wesley!" Fred started to get up, but stilled when she felt Gunn's hand tighten briefly on her neck.

"Why do you put yourself down like that?" Gunn asked then shook his head. "I guess we'll find out." Gunn laughed a bit self-consciously as Fred turned around to look at him and Wes stared in surprise.

"What's that mean?" Fred asked, staring wide-eyed at Gunn.

Gunn took a breath, shaking his head and releasing it a bit slowly. "It means that I want to know the answers even if I'm not sure what the questions are yet." Seeing Fred's blank look, he sighed. "Look, where I come from this," Gunn paused to wave a hand at the living room, "doesn't happen. You gotta give a brother time to get used to the idea he likes seein' his girl being touched by someone else."

Fred giggled, looking at both men before falling back on Wes' sofa. The looks on their faces were priceless and she couldn't help giggling at them. The giggles turned into full-fledged laughter as Wes and Gunn shared a look before Gunn reached down and started tickling her, his actions echoed by Wes who came over to kneel on the floor by the sofa in order to reach her. "What?" she gasped around giggles. "You both looked so cute."

"Cute, are we?" Gunn leaned heavily on the back of the sofa in order to reach her, but stilled when Wes accidentally caught his hand as they both reached for Fred's ribs. Fred lay still, gasping to catch her breath, then placed her hand over theirs.

"Very," she breathed, "like now." Without thinking about the consequences, she twisted enough to lightly kiss Wes then reached up to tug Gunn down to kiss him a bit more deeply. She thought for a moment, unable to think of a way to phrase her question to them, finally settling on a term her grandmother used to use. She kept her eyes on Gunn as she spoke, "Could we... keep company with Wesley and look for the answers?"

Gunn blinked at his girl, thinking rapidly and wondering why Wes looked like he'd stopped breathing. "Does that mean what I think it means?" he asked.

Wes drew in a sharp breath, never having expected to hear that out of her. "It means to be courting. A rather old-fashioned term for when a couple was only seeing each other, generally as a precursor to marriage. A time when they were unchaperoned and generally able to do as they pleased within the time allotted to them by the young lady's chaperone."


"Sorry." Wes sat abruptly on the floor at the exasperated way both of them spoke. "You did ask."

"I wasn't expectin' a paper." Gunn tugged his hand away from Wes and Fred's so that he could come around and sit on the arm of the sofa. Seeing Wesley's almost ashamed expression, he tilted his head to one side, Wes' words from when Fred almost left them rerunning through his mind. "Not that I minded the paper, just wasn't expecting one." He reached out and caught Fred's hand, stroking her wrist with his thumb and considered where they could go from here. Looking from Fred to Wes, he shifted a bit while thinking. "So, Wes, what do you think?"

"I think that you two need to be sure of what you're doing before anything else happens." Wesley rose from the floor, returning to his chair and settling as comfortably as he could in it. "You've only been together for a few weeks." He waved one hand, vaguely indicating the room. "This would change everything."

"What are you saying?" Fred asked quietly, shifting about to sit up on the sofa, absently leaning on Gunn. She looked up at Gunn where he sat beside her and saw her own confusion reflected in his eyes.

Wes drew in a deep breath, considering his words carefully. He didn't want to completely eliminate the possibility of the three of them having a true relationship, but he did want them to go into things with their eyes open, not blinded by the feelings he'd invoked in them with those kisses. He saw Gunn start to open his mouth and held up a hand, stilling the younger man.

"I'm saying that the two of you need to go and talk about this." He could see their protest and forestalled it by simply ignoring it. Climbing to his feet, he paced a few steps away to lean an arm on the bookcase. He badly wanted his drink back, but Fred had already stated her opinion on that. "How about this. The two of you come over for dinner on Friday. We can all talk then. That will give us all time to think, to decide what we want." And I can decide if I want to risk my heart. He turned his head from the books to look at them. As Wes watched, Fred knelt on the sofa, whispering to Gunn before smiling at both of the men.

"I think that makes sense," Fred said softly. She leaned a bit against Gunn, tapping him on the shoulder when he didn't say anything. "Charles?"

"Yeah," Gunn blinked, refocusing on the room. "Yeah. Dinner, Friday." He rose from the sofa, tugging Fred up after him. He wanted to get away from Wesley before he demanded another kiss. He definitely learned to kiss from someone somewhere. A brother shouldn't be thinkin' these kinda things. He all but dragged Fred toward the door after him as he desperately tried to avoid the impulses and the thoughts that had started up in his head again. "Sorry, I was already doing some of that thinkin' you mentioned. See you tomorrow, Wes." I gotta talk to Fred. Find out what she thinks. This is so wrong... or is it?

Fred had enough time to wave and smile at Wesley before she was dragged out of the apartment by Gunn. Wes didn't know if he should be insulted or pleased that he'd affected them so greatly that Gunn felt he needed to drag her out like a pack of hellhounds was chasing him. Friday. Four days. Can I manage to stay sane around them that long? Wes thought, heading into the kitchen to retrieve his drink. As he reached for the glass, he stilled. He picked up Gunn's instead, sipping at it as he headed for the door to do up the locks and shut off the lights. Turning back to the apartment, he wandered it by memory until he reached his bedroom, lying back on the bed. You've managed your attraction to one for over a year and the other for months now. A few more days should be easy. He hoped that they would want to date, but he'd also understand if they didn't. Theirs was a new relationship; it didn't need complications.


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