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And a Dollar Short
Thanks to Wendy for beta-reading.

Gunn pulled up in front of the Hyperion and cut the engine, scowling up at the facade the way he always did these days, at least when he was by himself. He had never wanted to go back there. Yeah, their new office was tiny and ugly and had the whole funk-of-forty-thousand-years thing going on, but that stuff was what he'd been used to his whole life. It was familiar. And so was what it meant: a bunch of rejects sticking together and making it on their own, thanks, without some middle-class white boy coming in to save the day. But after Angel had had that so-called epiphany, it was obvious that Cordy and Wes couldn't get out of their new place and back to "normal" fast enough. What was he going to do, tell them to stick with the funk because at least it wasn't Angel's funk? They had both wanted it down deep, he could tell, and, after all, it wasn't him who'd got sick or shot. So he had kept his mouth shut and gone along to get along. And now Angel had crawled right back down into his hole, and they were stuck there. It was enough to make him think he must be going soft in the head even to be there at all.

So he gritted his teeth as he walked into the hotel and crossed the lobby to where Wes was sitting behind the desk. Wes had a book open in front of him, but from the way his eyes weren't moving, Gunn could tell he wasn't really reading it. "Hey, Wes," he said, trying to sound cheerful, but not too cheerful. "I found a new antique weapons dealer last night. Wanna go check out what he's got?"

Wes might've been deaf for all the response he got. His eyes didn't even rise from the page he wasn't reading.

"Wes!" he repeated more loudly, and Cordy looked up from where she was filing. The whole place had gotten a lot neater lately. He raised his eyebrows, but she just shrugged. "Wes..."

"I'm sorry, what?" He blinked at him.

"I said, do you want to go check out this weapons dealer? He looked like he had some good stuff."

"Ah." Wes shook his head. "No, I don't think so. But you go ahead, Gunn."

The same answer he'd been getting for the past four days, ever since that Willow chick had brought the news. Damn. If there was one thing he thought might get to Wes, it was the chance of getting his hands on some big old ancient battleaxe. "Why not? We don't got a case, do we?"

"No. We don't have a case." Wes sighed. "It's just that I feel I ought to stick close to home at the moment."

"Angel's asleep, Wesley," Cordy said. "I think it might be good if you got out. I could organize your desk."

But Wes shook his head again. "No, I'd rather not."

"Look, man, Angel doesn't--" Gunn had to bite down on his tongue not to finish the sentence. Need you. Might use you, but he sure doesn't need you.

He had never really trusted the "new, improved" Angel. He'd seen too many people get off the shit, spend the first two weeks straight talking up the clean life, being all nice to everybody, trying to make up for everything, swearing they'd never go back, and then...bam. First real problem hit, the needle went right back in the arm. They didn't need to start relying on Angel and have him start tripping again the next time he saw Darla or something. But he'd been an idiot. He should've put out the welcome mat for Happy Fun Angel. Because when that Angel went away, he took Wes with him.

Or, to be totally honest, he took Gunn's chance at Wes with him. Gunn had been running on CP Time when it came to Wes, when he should've been on Undead Bastard Time, evidently, and he'd missed that train. But it had all been so weird. One minute, Wes was the most uptight, pansy-ass freak he'd ever met, and the next, he was like some exotic but mild-natured bird in the Los Angeles Zoo. Still strange, like nothing he'd ever seen, but beautiful that way, and though it looked way too stuck-up for a stupid bird, actually friendly, and playful, and not afraid to get a little dirty...and somehow the fun of watching him had spilled out into something much bigger and messier and almost out of Gunn's control. Each day he had been going to make his move. But he'd held off, even though something in Wes's eyes told him he had a chance. He'd been a little scared, yeah, scared of looking like a dumbass if he turned out to be wrong, but, really, it was because he thought Wes might be up for it that he waited. He just wanted to enjoy the time before, when it was still a sweet secret in the air between them, something that could happen and be so good, not something real that would get all messed up, the way things always did. He'd always had to grab at things before, take them when he could get them. Being able to wait a little bit, that was special and new, too.

But then Angel had cut in ahead of him. Fun Angel had left, and his twin Big Bad Brooding Angel had moved right back in like he'd never left. Wes had taken one look, and it was like none of the past three months had ever happened. Back to square one, Wes kidding himself that a two-hundred-year-old vampire really needed his help. Back to square zero, even, from the way Wes wasn't meeting his eyes.

And why wasn't he meeting his eyes? Gunn frowned. "I mean, come on, his girl died. You aren't going to be able to give him tea and make it better."

"I know," Wes said, straightening, getting that stiff, stubborn look on his face. "But I'm remaining regardless."

"Regardless of the extra electricity and water bills, you mean," Cordy remarked, carefully pigeonholing envelopes.

"Electricity?" He'd said "home" before, and Gunn hadn't caught it. He kicked himself. "You moved in?"

"I just...I don't feel Angel should be alone right now."

Gunn stared at him, jaw hanging. Of course. Gunn should've seen it coming. He must be the slowest brother on the planet. So Angel was going to get hot and cold running Wes, twenty-four hours a day. Wes would camp out there, knocking on Angel's door every few hours "just to check." Coming by with tea. Bringing him books. Probably doing his laundry. And it wouldn't be very long before he was doing something else, in the middle of the night, and then getting back up and going back to his own room, because he wouldn't want to make Angel feel uncomfortable. Not that he thought they'd been doing it before, but Angel, Angel was the taking kind, and Wes would be all ready to give. And Gunn wouldn't be able to say a damn thing.

It had been totally obvious, and Gunn hadn't done anything to stop it. He couldn't be any stupider if he tried.

Which was why he leaned forward on the desk, grabbed Wes by his collar, and kissed him hard.

"Just so you know, man," he said, when he was done and Wes was gaping at him, glasses crooked on his face, giving him a glimpse of soft, dazed dark blue eyes that made him never want to let go. "Just so you know."

Then he got the hell out of there. Give him funk in the office over demons, any day.


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