"Trust, Layer by Layer"
by Just Human
Notes, disclaimers and dedications in Layer One
"Trust, Layer by Layer"
Climbing into the shower before the water was really even hot, Wesley allowed himself a few minutes of simple, quiet, happiness as the water washed over him. Life had always taught him that when you were down, there was someone always there to kick you. It was undoubtedly rare when you could find someone to help pick you up again. Best friends, comrades in arms, warrior brothers, and a dozen other fanciful cliches skipped through his brain. It was the handshake, did it everytime...and the way, Gunn smiled at him...
Wesley shook himself out of it. 'Don't go there Wes. He's never noticed, doesn't want it. Hell, his girl just left him. Push it down; push it away. Suck it up and just bite back the things you really want to say to him. Don't say what you really feel when he claps you on the shoulder. Just the polite lies, don't mention the thrill that ran up and down your body when he stroked your neck just now. He's your best friend and you want it to stay that way.'
Popping open a beer, Gunn settled onto the couch. Listening to make sure the water was still running, he wiggled his ass really hard into *his* spot on the couch; thus verifying that his dent didn't go anywhere. God, this feels so good being back here.
'Talking to Wesley. How did I live without it? Yeah, yeah, it wasn't all going to be easy, but he was betting that it would be easier than either of them thought. Fighting was just how they communicated. This wasn't the first time that they'd agreed to disagree, either. Gunn's attitude towards Angel had mellowed a lot in the last year, a lot more in the last few weeks, but he and Wes both knew that they would never completely see eye to eye on being friends with a vampire. But that was cool. That was what made their friendship work; just enough space so you didn't kill each other but tight enough to be covering each other's backs.
Unbidden, the scar on Wesley's throat came to mind. Gunn knew where all the scars on Wesley's body were. The two of them had cataloged them in the hospital after the gunshot. This one was different, red, angry sticking out for the world to see. He had tried to wipe the hurt away, had wanted to rub the edges until they were smooth again. Hell, he had even felt an urge to kiss it and make it better. But that wouldn't be right. There were just some things you didn't do with another man, even if he was your best friend.
Pizza, beer and video games were the only concerns for the next hour and a half when Gunn yawned. "Sorry, it's not the company."
"Do you want to call it a night? The couch, as usual, is yours if you want it."
Gunn crossed his arms and looked disapprovingly at Wesley. "You think I'm leaving here with you winning three-ta-two?" Relaxing, he continued, " Don't worry about; it's not like I was planning on getting to work early tomorrow. Hey, maybe I will take you up on the couch offer. That way we could go to the hotel together tomorrow." He hoped that sounded casual enough.
Wesley put down the game controller before he dropped it. "I don't know if that's a good idea."
Laying aside his own controller, Gunn leaned over. "What's up? I thought we were going to work at it together."
Wesley turned towards him, "Yes, you and me. I mean, I didn't think much beyond that. You know I won't apologize to them and then there's the part where Angel tries to finish the job he started in the hospital.
Right now it's just me and Fred ya gotta worry about. We'll deal with Angel and Cordy together, when they get back. You know I always got your back." Gunn let the sentence hang there until Wesley was looking at him. "Yeah, it's not going to be easy. There's hurt feelings all around that you're gonna hafta work out with each person. But you're not going to end up dead. Wesley, I know you, you're not just missing me or the others, you're missing the work too."
"Yes, I'm not happy without the work, but I could still do that without working for Angel Investigations. I'm employable. It's not like I can't find another position. Hell, even Lilah offered me a job."
Incredulous. Wesley knew it wasn't a word that Gunn would normally use, but it was the look on his face. Immediately followed by anger. "Are you out of your god damned mind? Scratch that, I know you are. Apparently being away from my calm, sane influence has been extremely detrimental to you. You are not even going to consider working for the evil bitch, and might I suggest that having sex with her is not a good idea either? As your fucking best friend, I am not letting you slide into hell. Got it?"
It wasn't hard to read the sincerity in Gunn's eyes. Wesley wondered if he needed someone to actually say that Lilah was bad for him. No, he knew that. What he needed was someone to give a shit about it. Lost in his own inner turmoil, he didn't respond to Gunn right away. The pleasant little fantasy he had in the shower about him and Gunn picking up where they left off was falling apart. Everything was different now. If he was even going to think about making this friendship work again than nothing less than total honesty was going to do.
"I wasn't considering working for Lilah. But, I think I needed to hear someone else say it was a bad idea." Wesley fidgeted with the pizza box for a moment. "I'll try going back to the hotel."
"That's cool." Gunn was looking relieved. "I can't say what it's going to be like. Shit, I don't know what it's going to be like for me, but I'm there with you." He reached up and gave a reassuring squeeze to Wesley's shoulder.
All the promises Wesley made in the shower evaporated. Better to find out now if true honesty would destroy their relationship forever. "That means a lot, but at the risk of mindlessly throwing all that way, I have to say something." Gunn nodded but didn't move his hand away; they were in this together.
"I've always seen you as more than merely my best friend. I wanted to tell you for quite some time, but I just didn't think it was appropriate, that is to say, that you'd want...enjoy..."
Wesley wasn't surprised that Gunn looked confused, as he tried to process Wesley's bumbling. Giving up on words, Wesley decided to make his point more clear, even if this was the last conversation they ever had. Reaching across, he kissed Gunn. It was something short and simple, nothing earth shattering. When Gunn didn't immediately haul off and hit him, Wesley grew braver and opted to do it again.
There wasn't a thought in Gunn's head when the first kiss happened. To say he hadn't expected it was an understatement, but then it was happening again. Gunn could feel his mind kicking into operation somewhere in the back of his head, but decided to ignore it for a minute and just enjoy the moment.
Wesley couldn't count the times he had dreamed of this, imagining his mouth where it was now. Opening his mouth slightly so his tongue could glide over the firm softness next to his mouth, he felt Gunn kiss him back.
When they broke apart a few moments later, Gunn leaned back and stared at the floor, the bookcases, anything but Wesley. "Well, that's definitely not a repeat of how our friendship originally started." Gunn trailed off. Completely lost in a sea of wild conflicting emotion. The phrase 'guys don't do these things with other guys,' came up first, but there was another thought pushing its way in as well. There was something very comfortable about being anywhere near Wesley; it was one of the reasons Gunn had always spent so much time in this apartment.
Finally having done it, Wesley couldn't believe that he had. "I'm sorry if I upset you, but I couldn't keep politely lying about my feelings. If we're going to start over again, I just couldn't keep it all buried inside. I understand that you probably don't feel the same."
Gunn turned toward Wesley. "I never expected my life to be easy. I've been fighting for almost all of it. The complications...I never expected things to be so complicated. So the only thing I can think to do is to keep it honest, keep it simple."
Wesley nodded, disappointment beginning to etch its way across his face. Gunn caught that and said, "I think I liked that." Did he just admit that out loud? They were being honest; he wasn't going to lie, no matter how much shit was spinning in his brain at the same time. After a few minutes, he decided to go with whatever felt right. Leaning over, he tentatively started kissing Wesley and it all started feeling natural. Gunn's arm snaked around, so he could stroke Wesley's back.
Becoming completely lost in the moment, Wesley returned the gesture and rested his other hand on Gunn's thigh. Startled, Gunn jumped back putting some space between them. Spotting his mistake, Wesley simply said, "Sorry."
It occurred to Gunn that he had actually liked the feel of Wesley's hand where it had been. His mind wouldn't sit still as he was rapidly becoming more excited and scared at the same time. This was going way too fast and at the same time not fast enough. Fred was rapidly becoming a bad decision somewhere in his head. What was Wesley thinking? 'Shit, apparently he's been thinking a whole lotta things I wasn't aware before,' Gunn realized.
"No, it's cool. I just...you startled me." Gunn needed a minute, or maybe a year to sort out his feelings. He realized a little friendly insight might not be a bad thing either. "Ah, Wesley, when exactly did you figure out that you liked guys? I mean, I'm figuring you must like guys...I mean, since you..." He was embarrassed, but it was a burning question in his own mind, might as well ask.
Wesley had some immediate flash backs to bullies at school and groping in broom closets and behind bushes, but none of that was what had made him decide that he liked men. He wasn't sure how comfortable he was, sharing such things with Gunn, especially at a time like this, but they had agreed to be completely honest with each other, especially if it might help Gunn feel more at ease. "When I was away at school, there were things that happened with the other boys. Honestly, not a lot of it was pleasant, but it did make me curious. I guess the first time I knew I liked men was during the summer between prep school and university. He was an older gent who picked me up in a used book store."
Suddenly, Gunn felt some of the tension easing. "Oh, I am so surprised that you would look for a date in a book store."
Wesley chose to ignore his obvious sarcasm. "I wasn't looking for a date. He was there and we were talking about different qualities of printing from various centuries. One thing led to another and he invited me back to his place to see his library."
"Are you going to tell me that you fell for a line like that?"
Gunn's grin was contagious, and Wesley found himself smiling back. "No. I didn't fall for it. I knew what he wanted, and he had gotten me interested." Wesley became a little lost in the memory. "He took me into the library and told the butler he didn't want to be disturbed. The butler knew the routine. He showed me the books and kept touching me, casually on the arms and shoulders as he led me around the room. Then his hand was on my ass, and he was kissing me. The kiss took me off guard. It was nice, but not like kissing a woman. There was a...I don't know, a directness about it that was intoxicating. We managed to keep busy most of the afternoon."
There was something about the hot flush that rose to Wesley's face that was making Gunn warm as well. "Did you date him for a long time?"
"No, the only person I've ever come close to a long term relationship with is Virginia. It was different being with him verses the women I had dated, not better or worse, but different. It may sound trite, but to me, who you're with has much more to do with the person than the body parts he or she possesses." Gunn sat and thought about that.
Wesley noticed that there was an uncomfortable silence brewing and reached for a slice of pizza to occupy his hands. Further along the couch, Gunn was sitting back, looking like he was working on a complicated math problem.
The internal fight was tearing Gunn up inside. Everything he was taught, was raised to believe, was telling him this was wrong. Keep it simple; it was his new motto. Guys and girls should date and guys should just play video games or go get drunk together - simple. When he was looking for a shoulder to cry on earlier, there was only one shoulder he really wanted, Wesley's. If he had the choice of spending time with any human or demon on the planet, it was simple: Wesley. He liked what had just happened, wasn't that simple enough?
"Wesley, how long have you been feeling this way?"
"I noticed you right away, it's just that I never thought I had a chance with you." Wesley contemplated the pineapple on his pizza slice, while he spoke. "It was the day that I woke in the morphine-induced haze and saw you sitting there that I knew I felt something more." Smiling a little, Wesley took a side long glance at Gunn.
The talk of the gunshot made all of the feelings of warmth, affection and brotherhood come tumbling out, breaking down the barriers that had forced themselves into Gunn's mind. As all the emotion started to make his heart pound, he began to see that there was something more. It really was simple.
Wesley leaned forward to dig around the boxes on the coffee table for a napkin to wipe some tomato sauce from his mouth. Gunn took care of it for him. His left hand reached across and gently turned Wesley's head so that they could look at each other's eyes. As Gunn lost himself in the blue depths, he closed the distance between them and kissed the sauce from the corner of Wesley's mouth.
Onto Layer 3
Feed the author:
Close this window to return to the Fiction Index