"Trust, Layer by Layer"
by Just Human
Notes, disclaimers and dedications in Layer One
"Trust, Layer by Layer"
Wesley woke up lying on his right side noticing that part of him was cold and the other part was overheated. Maybe if he just closed his eyes tightly, he could fall back to sleep. No. It wasn't happening, and in fact, he was waking up more. As he tried to move, he realized that the overheated part of his body had quite a bit to do with the hand on his chest attached to the large black arm wrapped around him and the proportionally large leg thrown completely over both of his. Gunn was a snuggler.
Waking up a bit more, Wesley became glad that Gunn was effectively pinning him to the bed. He was only a few centimeters from the edge. That side of his body was also the cold side because not only was Gunn a bed hog, he was apparently a blanket thief as well. Normally, these observations could lead to a lengthy internal debate about whether one should wake one's bed partner under these circumstances, but Wesley was spared the angst. Gunn was awake and looking down at Wesley with his head propped up in his hand.
"I don't suppose you considered that I might like more than six inches of the bed and that I might be cold since *someone* took all the blankets?"
"You accusing me of something?"
"Certainly not, bed hog, blanket thief and serious snuggler."
"There must be a more manly word than 'snuggler.'"
"Okay, we can go back to snuggler until we think of something better. Are, uhm, you objecting?"
Stroking the arm holding him, Wesley replied contentedly, "No, but it could be better if I had my half of the blanket."
Gunn snuggled closer, "What, I'm not keeping you warm enough?
"Well, it's more about the distribution of the heat. You see..." Gunn placed a finger on Wesley's lips and pulled the blanket so it covered both of them.
Looking down, Gunn tried to decide which he liked better, sleeping Wes or half-awake Wes. He'd been awake watching Wesley for a while, trying to make sense out of how his life had changed the previous night. The longer he waited for Wesley to wake up, the more confused everything was becoming. There were piles of new questions and problems.
"Wes, last night...it was good, great, but I'm looking at us this morning and thinking that this simple man's life has suddenly become too complicated. Let's start with the fact that I've been laying here for the last half hour with my naked body pressed up against yours, and I don't want to let go. I mean does that make me gay? I was thinking about Janet Jackson before and it was doing all the right things. What are we going to say to Fred and Groo?"
Wesley knew last night that this conversation was going to have to take place. However, he was rather hoping not to have it at 5am. "Slow down, one at a time. I could quote you scientific studies, but the point is that most people aren't 100% gay or straight. It's okay for you to think about Janet Jackson and me. I mean, not at the same time-well, that's not such a bad thought I suppose-"
"Wes!" Gunn interrupted. Wesley quieted down and smiled up at him in the dim light. Gunn continued, "I've never thought of guys that way."
"I bet you have. You just didn't realize that the thoughts could be sexual. I've watched you drool over men before."
"Oh, I don't think so."
"The Lakers." In Gunn's mind, a scene flashed of sweaty men, taller than he was, smacking him good naturedly as they chased the ball down the court. Suddenly there was the image of his ass being palmed like the ball, and he got a little excited.
"Oh, shit. Who else have I been looking at?"
"Don't worry, it's mostly been athletes on television."
"You were eyeing up some the men in tights at the ballet, which is why you and Fred floored me so much."
"Well, those guys are like athletes too, right? Right?"
Wesley laughed at him, "Well since they have more leg muscle than you and I combined, they're athletes. So no, you're not necessarily gay, but not strictly straight either - not that I care one way or another."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to be spending so much time thinking about other people when we're all...you know, together."
With a dismissive noise, "So, any regrets?" It was a question that needed to be asked.
"No, not exactly. I mean, I'm glad we did what we did last night, and I'm hoping we do some more of it." In the dim light of the room, Wesley could see Gunn glance away, "It's just that I don't want to lie to folks, and I'm afraid of what they'll think."
"Do you think, I could have a little more of the bed?" Gunn looked embarrassed and rolled off Wesley, which allowed them to both settle more comfortably, side by side. "Gunn, I don't like lying either, and one day I'd like it if I could just as casually mention that I had a date with a man the same way I would about a woman. For over ten years, I've mostly omitted the truth, but yes; there have been times that I've lied. I've lied to you about this before."
"Kinda figured that out last night. I mean I don't blame you. Thinking about it, I'm glad you did. Where I grew up, guys who did things with other guys didn't get a lot of respect. I'd have treated you bad and that probably woulda stopped us from being friends."
"So how do you feel about it now?"
That was the million-dollar question that Gunn had been trying to work out for the last half-hour. Complicated scenarios of who knew what about whom swam through his head. It was too confusing to make sense out of so he didn't really get anywhere with it.
"I could say allota things about what I want and who I'd like to know and who I wouldn't care if I fibbed to. Truth is, I've been changing my mind and rearranging my thoughts every five minutes. Wesley, you *are* my best friend. I don't want that to change. I know our friendship won't be exactly the same after last night, but I wasn't lying when I said I needed you around. We spent some time talking about trust last night. No matter what ultimately comes of our time alone like this, I trust that you are going to do right by me. It's a part of the whole big picture, but only a small part. When we get up and go to the hotel, there's still a lot of ground to cover to get back what we had. I'm going to ride your ass worse than you did to Angel's last year, because you should have known better. But, I still don't know what I'm going to say to Fred and Groo."
"Card table, huh?" Wesley decided that they really needed to talk about their friendship and not necessarily who knew the details of it.
"You only get a flat surface and a chair because I don't want to slow down your efficiency with the books. But hey, the library, formally known as your office, is at your full disposal."
"I swear, I will never lie to you again about my feelings. I'm not a Watcher anymore, but I made promises and vows about protecting the world that still mean something, everything to me. I won't let that go; it's what I was doing when I took the baby."
"I know, and I wouldn't ask you to ever give that up. Hell Wesley, it's one of the things I admire most about you. What I want is for you to stop being so pigheaded about the idea that you have to save the world alone. The part that hurts is that you didn't trust us to help you. That you didn't trust me."
It was Wesley who turned away this time. The walls of self-righteous pride were falling down into a pile of doubt and indecision. He had second-guessed himself for days before he took the baby, but once he had made the decision there was no looking back. Even now, he could hear the tactician in him screaming that he had done the right thing, that protecting Gunn, Fred and Cordelia from Angel's wrath was right. But now, he could also look past that and see the knife he stuck in Gunn's back to do it.
"I'm sorry I hurt you, all of you. Most days, I don't give two figs about the people who raised me. You, Cordelia, Angel, Fred, you're the family I care about, that I want to protect. I don't know if you can understand this, but the only way I could protect you was to hurt you."
Fred's face in the food court swam largely in Gunn's mind. The day he had hurt her so she wouldn't have to watch him die at the hands of the loan shark. "Damn-it! I did the same thing less than a month ago. I broke up with Fred, really nasty. I sold my soul to a loan shark when I was a teenager. He came to collect, and I didn't want her to get hurt trying to protect me. I promised her I'd never lie like that again, that we'd face whatever it was together."
Wesley leaned over to see if he was joking. "Okay, let's put aside the loan shark for a moment, which we will get back to later. When you told her you wouldn't lie again, it felt like the honest to God truth, didn't it? I could mean every word of it if I said the same thing to you right now, but I know that when push comes to shove, I'd do it again."
"It's true. I didn't lie to her that night, but I'd break that promise in a heartbeat if I thought I could spare her. I'd do the same for any of you. But you know what, the guilt for planning to break that promise is going to weigh on my mind and on my decisions. So, promise me what you can. Next time we have to go through this - I'd say God forbid, but we know that's not gonna work. Next time, I want that promise making you feel like shit when you have to make the call. Then maybe you think twice and remember that I'm willing to die to help save the world at your side."
Wesley was shaking from the emotions racing through him. No one. No one, not his mother, not the Council, not Angel or Cordelia had ever cared about him like the man lying next to him. It was at that moment he knew that he loved Charles Gunn more than as his best friend. He also knew that he wasn't going to say it out loud and embarrass them both. Reaching out, he entwined his long fingers with Gunn's calloused ones.
"You know, this is what I like so much about you. You are the most loyal and devoted person on the face of the earth, and I don't deserve you as my friend. I promise you that I won't try and save the world without you and when I'm going to do something stupid and life threatening, I'll ask you to join me. Gunn, Charles, I...I...I think your a complete wanker."
Gunn wasn't sure of the exact definition of wanker, but he got what Wesley was saying. "Ditto on the promise and, and you just suck too."
They rolled toward each other and kissed as if they might never have the chance to do it again. After a few moments they separated and turned away. Gunn spoke first. "Man, you got some seriously funky morning breath."
"Yeah, nice to know I'm not alone. Come on get up." Wesley smacked Gunn's thigh.
"It's five-thirty in the morning! Is breakfast part of this plan?"
"Oh, I suppose we could fit it in. I was thinking of just heating up a slice of leftover pizza."
"You call that breakfast? What about some eggs and pancakes? I bet your mouth tastes real good with a little maple syrup."
"I don't mind maple syrup, but I don't usually eat my pancakes American style. I prefer mine with raspberry jam." A little wave of nostalgia washed through Gunn, different again.
"Actually," Wesley looked away smiling, becoming a little shy. " I've always had this little fantasy of covering you in raspberry jam and spending an entire morning licking it off."
Gunn looked at Wesley like he couldn't believe what he just heard. Different. Different was good. "So, any jam in the house?"
"We don't have time to do that properly, maybe Sunday. Come on get up."
"Okay, if you're not planning breakfast, why do we have to get up now? I know you haven't been back to the hotel in weeks, but how long do you think it takes to drive there? And, we still haven't talked about talking to Fred and Groo."
Wesley sat back on the bed. "Okay, here's my proposal. For now, all they need to know is that we've decided to be friends again and hang out. It's the truth; it's what we're doing. A month from now, one or both us could decide that this was a mistake. You may decide that being with a man was a nice experiment, but not something you're want to do long term. In which case, they don't have to know anything."
"But a month, three months from now, if we're still together?"
"Hey, we're going to rebuild the trust one day at a time, what about this? I'm not blowing off your question. We can't keep a keep this from them forever, but I think we should give ourselves some room to decide what we want first."
"Okay, it is the truth, so I can live with that. So tell me why we have to get up now?
"Well, someone woke me up by rubbing his naked cock against my naked backside. After we both get to brush our teeth, I'm going to show you some of the fun and games that two men can have in the shower. That's what's going to take us a while."
"Wesley, let me ask you something."
"What?" Wesley's voice was beginning to take on that pleading quality again.
"If we were walking through some dark alley alone, and I asked you to drop your pants and have sex right there, would you do it?"
"Well, it would depend. Are we stalking something that might interrupt us and kill us? What's the chance of getting caught? Mind you, not that either of those might stop me, sometimes the danger aspect, well it adds a little excitement. I mean, if the alley was really filthy, it would give me pause..."
Gunn wasn't really listening to Wesley's full explanation. He was just lying there thinking that life was so much simpler with someone who thought Saturday night was meant for beer and pizza while sitting in front of the TV in just your boxers. Getting out of bed, he grabbed Wesley's hand. Wesley was still expounding on the philosophy of sex in an alley.
"...the fact that I've done it in an alley is, of course, playing into my response. Oh, where are we going?"
Stopping, Gunn turned back to him. "Huh, it was your plan. Am I responsible for remembering everything? Brushing our teeth followed by fun and games in the shower."
"Oh, you don't have to remember everything." Wesley gave Gunn's hand what he hoped was a manly squeeze. "I've got your back."
That hot flush that makes a man want to say mushy stuff went up and down Gunn's spine, but all he said was, "Cool."
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