Notes and disclaimers: Characters property of Mutant Enemy and large corporate entities, not me. No profit garnered here ever. Thanks to Tigs and Mare. From a prompt by Marenfic in tenyearsofbuffy ficathon.
"Never is," Gunn said. "I'm just a mediator. Angel's being paranoid about me needing protection. Probably."
"Paranoia usually isn't wrong," Buffy said. "So who'd be out to stomp you? Someone really super tall, I'm guessing." She was craning her neck to talk to him.
"Ha. Well, the members of either demon clan who don't want peace. Other demon clans who don't want these two taking their focus off each other. People who just plain hate me." He shrugged.
"Do a lot of people just plain hate you?"
Gunn smiled. "People love me. Now, Angel on the other hand." He shook his head. "People who just plain hate Angel, that's a long list for you."
"So no one hates you, they just hate your boss."
"You second that emotion, huh?" He stopped suddenly and looked down at her. Really, super tall guy. "I've got no beef with Angel, you get that, right?"
"Got it." She smiled and started walking towards the car. "I don't really have a beef with Angel, you know? Not big enough to kill you or anything."
"Good to know, bodyguard."
The first three assassination attempts were pretty easy for Buffy and Gunn to take care of. The fourth proved a little tougher, but Buffy got it done.
Buffy watched Gunn review yet another parchment and compare it with whatever was on his laptop screen. Dullasadishwater.com, probably, she thought. Boringdemontreatyjunk.com. She couldn't keep listing things so she said, "What are you doing?"
"Getting ready for tomorrow."
"I'm going to regret this, but tell me more. Please?" She tucked her feet underneath her and sat back in the big comfy chair. She really liked this hotel.
"Clan of demons, agreeing to stop some centuries old feud with another clan of demons. You heard this already." He leaned back in his chair and smiled at her. "Didn't pay attention, did you?"
"No," she said. "I got it a little. I don't get why you and Angel are still doing this, though. You're not Wolfram and Hart anymore. There is no Wolfram and Hart anymore."
Gunn shrugged. "We had this in the works before and they're both still willing to have me mediate. Can't say no to a good idea."
"Because they still find Angel scary?"
"Because they still want a mostly neutral party. And most of our ex-clients find Angel even scarier now." Gunn pushed his laptop away. "Nothing like killing your boss to make everyone stand up and take notice."
"Then you grind their bones and then you're all done except for the party," Buffy said.
"They didn't really have bones but I get what you're saying," Gunn said. "We never thought we'd be that successful."
"You look a little bummed, though."
Gunn got up and closed his laptop, put all the parchment in neat stacks. "I miss Wes. Hell, I miss a lot of people. We thought it was gonna be, whatever, you know this. We didn't realize how weak they were. I know why I didn't see it and -- " He shook his head. "I miss Wes, period."
"I know," Buffy said. "Not Wes, but people. We all have a list," she said. "Not to jump on your bandwagon."
"Yeah, I know. Going to bed now," he said. "You got the couch?"
"I got the couch," she said. "Which is nicer than my bed back in the dorms, frankly. Who's paying for this hotel?"
"The other demon clan." Gunn closed the door but left a sliver open so she could hear anything that happened. Like the flying poodles from the night before, that had been super fun.
After all the attacks, the actual mediation and signing part took only two hours. Buffy sat behind Gunn, half listening to the clicks and clacks of Gunn talking and half watching everyone else. Then she followed him out the door and said, "That was anticlimactic."
"They weren't the ones sending the attacks," Gunn said. "That was the other demon clans, profiting off all the chaos. They're probably done now."
"I'm not leaving until you're safely on the plane back to LA." She didn't have much of a reason to be so insistent, but she'd been enjoying spending time with him. It was a nice break from her usual Slayer work. "What are your plans for the night?"
"I was planning to get some damn sleep," Gunn said. "Sorry. You wanted dancing and fancy dinners, right?"
He grabbed her wrist and made to spin her around. She let herself twirl for a minute. "You're in a good mood," she said.
"Hey, we got our peace. No one killed me. I spent a week in a fancy hotel with my super Slayer bodyguard. I like it when we do good and it all works out. And I can sleep like a baby."
"I have to admit, I really like getting a good night's sleep. I'm getting old."
"You're getting smart," Gunn said. "You're nothing that's even close to old."
She realized he hadn't let go of her wrist and she didn't really mind.
At the airport, he let her carry his bags up to the counter. She plopped them down and waited for him to finish charming the guy behind the counter. She'd been expecting something completely different when Angel had called her. She really wasn't used to good surprises.
Gunn tapped her on the shoulder and said, "This is goodbye, B."
"You've spent too much time with Faith," she said. She walked with him to the security check part. "Buuh-feee. Just one more syllable."
"Got it, got it," Gunn said. "It's still goodbye."
"Maybe even see you later," she said.
He smiled at her. She had to jump a little to give him a hug and he made a little grunt as she squeezed. "You super girls," he said. "Always forget the rest of us need to breathe."
But when he got in line, he said, "See you later, Buuuuuh-feee," and grinned at her wide and sunny.
The next time she saw Gunn, she was flat on her back. She started to push herself up but he was reaching down to help her and then he was tumbling on top of her. "You're heavy," she muttered as she pushed him to the side.
"I was trying to help until one of those suckers knocked me over," he said. They both got up at the same time, standing shoulder to shoulder. It was really shoulder to forearm even with Gunn in fighting stance, but Buffy needed to think about the suckers.
Two were flying at them with the gaping mouth and sucking and leather wings. "These things are just gross," Buffy said. She threw her stake right into the left one's mouth and pinned it to the wall with a squelch. The right one got split in half by Gunn's axe with a purple splatter that went everywhere.
"How many more of these things?" Gunn looked up and around.
"Who knows? This isn't even the main battle," she said. "And thanks for coming."
"When Kevin Costner calls, Whitney comes a running." Three more suckers flew at them.
After they'd killed ten more, Buffy was covered in bruises and purple guts, Gunn had chipped his axe and was in about the same physical shape and she was officially sick of this. "Maybe we should try somewhere else," she said. "Anywhere else."
"Maybe," Gunn said. He wiped his forehead and looked around. "You think they're finally done coming?"
She didn't answer and looked around and waited. "Maybe?" She whispered it. Just in case.
Gunn's cell phone played a little song and he opened it. "Gunn," he said quickly. He listened and then snapped it closed. "They're done. The other side of the battle got it fixed."
"Yay," she said. "Now I really want a shower."
"For three straight days," Gunn said. "Last time I remember being this grossed out was when Fred and I had to kill these demon babies and man, now I'm remembering the smell. Point me to the shower, right now."
The closest place was Buffy's new apartment. She was really grateful that it was so new she hadn't gotten any furniture yet. Or rugs. She'd just have to clean the floors. "I just moved in. Dawn finally has her own place, she's really excited."
"Right next door, right?" Gunn smiled. "I remember how you talked last year."
"One floor down," Buffy said, grabbing three towels from the box. "I want her to be safe, okay?"
"I had a little sister," Gunn said, his face serious. "I get it." He took one of the towels from her and then put it down. He started emptying his pockets. "These clothes are toast. Got anything I can wear?"
"Yeah," she said, walking into the bathroom. "Check the box labeled 'supplies.' I have some boy sized stuff for moments just like this." She closed the door and turned the water on hot.
By the time she got out of the bathroom with the clean towel wrapped tightly around her, Gunn was sitting on the floor, wearing just his pants and talking on the phone. It was a really nice view. She said, "Uh, all yours."
"Cool," Gunn said. "I put my clothes in the fireplace. The flue's open, we can start burning as soon as you find some matches around here. I'll throw my pants in there when I'm actually clean."
"Okay," Buffy said, but he'd already closed the door. She got everything cleaned up and the fire going by the time Gunn stepped out of the bathroom.
"Your idea of boy sized is a little small for me," he said. He threw his pants on the fire and held his nose. "That stinks."
"I know. I opened the window and everything," she said. "But it is getting better. Or it was until you threw your pants in." Her clothes didn't exactly fit, he was right. It was pretty funny, the sweatpants that ended three inches above his ankles and the t-shirt that pulled really right across his chest. "Did you bring a bag or something?"
"Back with Angel," he said. "We're supposed to all meet up in an hour at your office."
"Okay, cool." She started opening a box. "Wanna help?"
"You don't have any furniture," he said. "Where does any of this stuff go?"
"Furniture comes tomorrow. Dawn got everything besides my bed. I was thinking I'd, you know, stack the books over there where the bookcases will be, put the clothes in the bedroom."
"Sure," he said, sounding skeptical. He started opening boxes, though. They got a lot done before they left for the office.
"Thanks for letting me stay on your sleeping bag," Gunn said. He stumbled a little and then laughed. "And for taking me out for a beer or two. You know how to show a guy a good time when he's been up and left."
Buffy giggled and went to the closet where she'd put away the blankets and sleeping bags earlier. "Well, it's not like either of us could follow the stupid demon. So Angel and Spike weren't leaving you, they were off to the world where you don't need to breathe air." She pulled out two sleeping bags and another blanket. "And the beer thing was totally Faith's idea. It was pretty fun, though, wasn't it? I always forget that."
"You can't be drunk," he said. He was suddenly standing behind her, grabbing all the bedding from her. "I saw, girl, you had half a beer, total."
"I'm not drunk. I'm totally and utterly and completely tired. It's been three weeks of this stupid guy and his flying suckers and his stupid rain of blood ice. I'm so glad Angel and Spike get to deal with wasting his ass." She followed him into the living room and helped him put the two bags together. "I really don't need that satisfaction."
"You don't or you do? I can't tell if you're kidding." He sat down in the middle of the sleeping bag bed.
"I'm not kidding. I'm over it. Over it." She lay down on the bags.
"Are you planning on sleeping out here? Cause I'll take that nice looking bed if you don't want it."
"Oh, I want it," she said, sitting up quickly. "I love that bed." She was suddenly very close to Gunn. He smelled like beer and boysweat. "I should get up."
He said, "Or stay out here for a bit." He leaned in and they were kissing. He started it but she was definitely continuing it, with the really good open mouth, tongues touching and her hands around his warm neck and his in her hair.
She pulled back a little and said, "Okay, I got the impression you were, uh. Um."
"Not interested in girls?"
"No, no. More interested in Faith. Not that there's anything wrong with not interested in girls. Which you clearly are." She looked down. "Babble babble."
"I like that in a girl," he said. "And Faith's the past. And just the once. And let's get back to the kissing."
She was pretty sure she had questions about that. But he leaned in again and tipped her chin up and they were back to kissing and she decided questions weren't anything she wanted to think about right now. She knew he was a good guy.
He moved his hand down her neck to her back and nudged her into his lap. She pressed against his chest. He was under her shirt, rubbing her back and she pulled back again. "Gimme a sec," she said. She pulled off her shirt and blushed. "Not to jump ahead."
"Jump away," he said. He took off his own shirt and then pulled her down on top of him as he lay down.
He cupped her breasts and she nearly bit her lip in half as he brought her nipple into his mouth. His hand was doing really wonderful teasing things to the other breast while he licked from the nipple to the underside of her breast. "That's, that's really good," she said.
He made a happy sound that just got happier as she moved her hips down his body. He slid his hands under her jeans and panties.
She sat up and then forced herself to stand up. "Okay, back to the jumping. Just, wait right there." She ran into the bedroom and grabbed a condom from the bedside dresser while she wiggled out of her jeans.
"I was hoping you had that," Gunn said from behind her. He'd left his pants and briefs back in the living room and she took a moment to enjoy the view. "What do you think of moving this to the bed?"
"I like," she said. She sat back on her knees in the middle of the bed. She kept waiting to feel nervous but all she felt was happy and wanting.
He was right there, kissing her again and taking the condom from her hand. "I got this," he said.
"I want to," she said. She opened the packet and carefully put the condom on him.
"Now," he said, his voice low and husky. He lifted her up and she pushed down and then he was inside of her and on top of her, laying her down on the bed with one thrust. She brought her legs up and grabbed the headboard behind her. She wasn't tired anymore, and he definitely wasn't. She was just happy. It was all bright and breathing and him thrusting and her pushing back. She heard the headboard crack when she came but she really didn't care. He grunted and slumped a little. Then he kissed her and pulled out.
After a minute or two, he got back on the bed and laid down next to her. "Wow," he said.
"Wow," she said. "That was good." She rolled on her side and smiled at him. "You can sleep here if you want."
"I want," he said.
After a week, Angel and Spike still weren't back. "They'll be fine," Gunn said.
"Totally," she said. She was pretty sure.
"Time works differently in a lot of those dimensions," Gunn said. He was pacing in the living room. "Could be, it's only taking an hour for them and two weeks for us." He sat down next to her on the new couch. "Or I'm just making shit up because I'm worried."
"You're not making it up completely, that's the best form of denial around," she said. She rubbed his thigh. "A little bit of truth helps the valium-speak go down."
He gripped her hand. "And the sex. That helps with the worry." He smiled at her and then pulled her onto his lap.
"So we know they're not dead," Buffy said. "We're completely sure of that. I mean, more dead than they already are. Their souls aren't dead. They're just taking their sweet time killing the demon. Ten days aren't enough for the big bad vampires to do their job and get home."
"Willow was really sure," Gunn said. They were already in bed after a long day of working and killing and not worrying about Angel and Spike.
Buffy said, "She was totally sure."
"You've got a good crew here," Gunn said.
"Is that your way of saying you'd stay?"
"No," Gunn said, quickly. "I'm just saying. Paying you a compliment." He shrugged. "I'm not staying, Buffy. I can't."
"I know," she said. It would be nice though, she thought.
"If I were staying," Gunn said, "I'd need to get my own place."
"You'd move out?" Buffy scooted back on the bed.
"Yeah, I'd move out. We didn't even have a date before I moved in. I want us to have some room to breathe." He traced little circles on her ankle. "If I stay. Hell, it's been two weeks, maybe I am."
"They'll be back," Buffy said. "Seriously."
Gunn smiled. "I know they will. I don't think I've met anything that could kill Angel, after all this time. Or Spike. Except maybe each other, but they wanted to come back more than they wanted to punch each other out."
"And what a surprise they'll get," Buffy said.
"Hmm," he said. "You worried about that?"
"Are you?" She wished he'd be telling them he wasn't going back to LA. Maybe he wasn't.
"I'm not worried. When did you and Angel last date, ten years ago?"
She smacked his arm. "I am not twenty-seven, hello. Do I look that old?"
"It was a while ago, right. And you had it out with Spike last year. Right?"
She said, "Right. You could get an apartment in this building. I don't think anybody lives upstairs."
"Or they're deaf and can't hear us." Gunn pushed up her pajama shirt and kissed her stomach. "Dawn complains enough for two people, frankly."
"Sister thing, you know," she said. He'd already starting pulling down her pants so she was losing the thread of conversation. "She likes to be a brat."
"I'm staying," Buffy said. "Now you say it."
Gunn packed his bag and ignored her.
She took a breath. Spike and Angel were back and everything was settled. But Gunn seemed to have settled in with everyone and everything. He got along with everyone. He got along really well with her. She said, "You don't want to stay?"
He stopped shoving pants in the bag. "I've already got a job."
"It's the same job here. Sort of. With lots of job-like similarities in duties and downsides. And an upside you don't have a Slayer in LA. Unless You don't, do you?"
He grinned. "No, I don't. And you waited how long to ask that?"
"Well, I assumed. Thanks for not making an ass out of me," she said. She sat back on the bed. "I think you should stay."
"If I say it three times? It's not like that, is it?"
"Nope," he said. "Look, even if I stay, I have to go back now and get everything settled up."
She said, "I don't like that. You go back to LA and I sit by the door and wait for you to miss me enough? Which you totally will, by the way."
"Or, you come with me and convince me there," he said, smiling.
"Is that the cunning plan you came up with yesterday in all those long talks with Angel?"
He grinned. "Actually, I just thought of it right now. Something in my head keeps telling me to stay. And I know I have to go back. So as an incredibly skilled lawyer, I thought of a compromise. Just took me a little while."
"I'm not moving to LA," she said. "But I will visit. Just this once." She jumped off the bed so he didn't see how much she was smiling.
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