Title: Red Peppers and Wine
Author: James Walkswithwind
Pairing: Gunn/Wesley
Rating: PG
Spoilers: none
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit made
Archive: list archives OK
Notes: set before There's No Place Like Pylea (or however it's spelled) To whit: set Pre-Fred.


Red Peppers and Wine

Gunn never used to put that stuff on his food. His mom and his sister and he thought his aunt used to love it. They'd shake that bottle over whatever food they'd served up that day, laughing that it wasn't good food unless it scalded your throat. They never made him feel bad for not wanting any, just passed the bottle past him and teased each other into using even more.

Sometimes he could tell they'd used too much, but that never stopped them from doing it again. Never stopped them from eating. Even his sister, little as she was and just a year or two out of eating toddlers' food, would shake drops of the red sauce onto her food until the approving eyes of her momma. Sometimes she'd grab for her glass right after, always forgetting that it was the bread, and not the drink that cooled the fire. But by the next meal, there she'd be, asking for the red sauce and pouring it on some more.

His mom used to say that living dangerously was all well and good, but that wasn't the same thing as putting spice into your life. Spice was better than dangerous, and a hell of a lot safer besides. He'd thought it was all about telling him to stay out of trouble with the law, or with gangs, or with his teachers. Telling him to not do foolish, stupid shit that would get him hurt or killed.

As he grew up he listened to what he thought she was saying, until she died and his aunt went away and he and his sister were growing up on streets that gave a new meaning to the word dangerous. He lived as safely as he could, and there was no need for red sauce on the food because just *getting* food was enough. Even though trying to stay safe hadn't worked, and he was still living dangerously, he tried to do as his mom had told him and he tried to stay out of trouble.

That was why he didn't drink very often, and when he did it was usually one beer, or even more rarely only one glass of wine. His excuse, if anyone asked, was that he wasn't used to alcohol and it went right to his head. Made him do stupid shit that might have got him hurt if it hadn't been for the moment *after* the second of surprise, and his stupid shit had been made welcome. Stupid shit turned into something not so stupid after all, and maybe not even dangerous.

Now he thinks maybe his mom was trying to tell him to *do* something. Do something other than school and friends and watching out for his little sister. Do something for himself, that gave him a thrill gave him that spice he didn't want to douse his food with. He doesn't know, certainly can't ask her now. But now he's had a taste of spice, and he thinks if he had known what that was all about, back then, he might have tried a couple drops of red sauce on his food.

the end


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