Slick Like Water
by Te
October 2000

Disclaimers: If they were mine, they'd all live at the hotel in four
adjoining rooms. Ahem.

Spoilers: Lots of general S2 stuff.

Fandom: Angel

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: Sheila and me have been bouncing this idea back and
forth for a while, and finally I just out and out stole it for myself.

Acknowledgments: I had a nice big audience for this one! Debba,
Sheila, Dawn Sharon, and the Spike. Thanks, guys!

Feedback: Gimme gimme gimme gimme.


Two vamps, one stake, one busted axle on his truck from coming over
the rise of a hill only to drive right through a roughly dug pit.
Burrower demons. Mo.Ther.Fuck.

And Gunn, out alone, stupid fucking pride, that half a thought before he
gets into it, that mix of steeling and softening for the blows. Iron
bars and he's only got his fist, but some spots *always* hurt.

And, for a while, not just on *his* body.

Until the third vampire jumps off the goddamned fire escape and he
doesn't stop fighting but the bites are coming fast and furious and he
has a second to wonder what the old crew will throw in the fire for him,
if the new crew has any rituals at all and then, for the first time in his
life, Gunn is absolutely *thrilled* to see the cops.

Until they take one look at his ID and drag him in.

For assault.

Did he say motherfuck already? Well, *mother*fuck.

In the back of the black and white, Gunn runs through a list of epithets
he will not be saying aloud, because he doesn't think his ass can take
any more kicking tonight. God *damn* he hates handcuffs.

He very studiously does not kick at the bulletproof glass. Nor does he
spit, snarl, or headbutt it. Once, when he was 15, was more than enough.

At the station then, and what to his wandering eye does appear? Officer
Barbie, complete with 60 years of LAPD bastardness to fall back on,
lest her sour sweet smile and sarcasm isn't enough to make Gunn's mind
go red.

Oh, he doesn't *like* hitting women, but this one has a jaw in serious
need of breaking.

What he says, is -- and he better be getting major Cordelia points for
this -- "Do you have any Holy Water?"

And there's a moment, a good, long moment, where Lockley really *looks*
at him, and at the way he's bleeding -- though most of the cuts are
minor, but she shutters right on up again.

*Whatever* Angel did to piss her off was coming back in spades. On him.
And ain't that just the way?

"No, I don't." And to the officers, "put him in a cell, see if he needs
stitching up."

And off she goes to send some fucked up paperwork in his name. And it
won't matter, because it's not like any vamps will show up in court at
half past early to testify against him, but that's not the point.

It's not even the principle, for while Gunn will rant long and colorfully
about this to Roy and LeVon when he gets out, he may not live long enough
to do any *more* than that.

Poison. Good old fashioned vampire poison. And it's gonna take him out
while he's just sitting here on his ass waiting for the American Judicial
System to grind him up and spit him out.

And can't help but struggle on the way to the holding cell because this is
*not* the way it goes. Not for him. And he doesn't already feel it
working, no fucking way, this violence is *all* his own and he's not
going out. Like that.

Thank you Cypress Hill, you fucking stoned assholes and "Where the hell
is my one phone call?"

"Didn't you hear the Detective, Charles? We gotta make sure you're
not gonna die on us."

And it's definitely time for the mantra.

He does not hate all white people.

All white people are not bad.

Not all cops -- nope, can't say that one this time, but he's doing
pretty well, considering.

White people are not devils. He has seen devils, they do not look like
white people unless they've got their masks on.

He does not believe Louis Farrakhan.

He never, ever sings that Eddie Murphy song parody "Kill the White
People" to cheer himself up unless he really, *really* needs it.

The wounds start... itching less than fifteen minutes later, and
somewhere, deep down, he needs to believe that Lockley isn't really
wound *that* tight, and one of the phone calls she made was to a church.
Holy Water, some of the wafer -- because, yes, he's scared enough to
do the equivalent of grinding salt into each and every single one of
the wounds.

Twenty minutes after that, he's at the bars. Not yelling yet, just
trying to catch someone's eye because they've all stopped bleeding. The
wounds. He could feel it happening, one after the other, presumably in
the order in which they'd been given. Definite itch now, or maybe
something closer to a shiver.

He does not hate all white people.

Some of his best.

Some of his acquaintances are definitely white, and would probably not
do this to him.

Maybe an hour, more, and he's sweating and he's cold and he's thinking,
just a tiny little whisper at the back of his mind. A grating little
something: better if they finished it, one way or another.

No, one way. Just the one way.

Licks the sweat off the back of his hand, half growls. Salt and thin and
one of the vamps had been bleeding, shot from a two-by-four before
the vamp had smashed it to splinters. Big one, ruddy with just feeding.

And really, that's too much of a chance. Doesn't work that way. Doesn't
happen. No innocence in the turnover, not even Alonna. Always somebody's

His fault. His fault and suddenly he's very, very grateful that it
wasn't enough, that they hadn't taken enough blood, because otherwise.
He might not just be dying.

Another half hour before he finally huddles in the corner, theoretically
waiting for the doctor to come have a look at him, really just. Waiting.
Wishing he knows more than just the basics of the poisoning process,
while also being extremely happy that he doesn't.

Just settling in with the thoughts about Officer Barbie, and what he'd
do given just the one likely chance.

Which is exactly when Wesley strides in, trailing about a dozen yelling
cops and yelling back what sounds like a lot of legal jargon, very much
sticking to the whole civil rights issue.

Tosses Gunn the water bottle in his hand before they can stop him, and
Gunn doesn't need to be told twice. Immediate shock to his system. Acid
burn like maybe medicine was always supposed to feel and his knees are
buckling but he manages to chug it all before they get in and yank the
bottle away, kick him just the once, too.

And he's in the black, and there's nothing but the itch now, and the
thankful slow ooze of blood just under his savaged clothes.


Wakes up to the blare of the horn approximately no inches away and
jerks up, opens his eyes to the L.A. dawn from the inside of Angel's
car. Half-held down by Wesley.

Cordelia's driving.

Angel is... where?

Apparently aloud, because: "We decided that we'd have a better chance of
getting you out of there in time if Angel remained far out of Detective
Lockley's eyeshot."

"How did you know?" Feeling more than a little ill again and Wesley
hands him another bottle of water.

"Hello? Seer girl 2000 in the front seat? That's *two* blinding
headaches you've stuck me with, Gunn, and I am *not* happy."

Gunn closes his eyes and chugs the excessively... spicy water and suddenly
his entire body remembers that he *hurts*. Nearly chokes on a moan, and
Wesley's there to help.

And oh yeah. He's feeling better because every instinct is screaming
time to *go* and, see, this is the danger of hating white people for
several hours at a time -- next time one was nice you couldn't deal.

Can't look at those faces without that gut twisting mix of hatred and
gratitude and shame from both sides of the fence. His mama had always
tried to get him away from that kind of thing. Maybe if she'd lived

Takes a look around at the neighborhood they're driving through. Fine,
whatever, anything: "Look, thanks for getting me out of there. You can
tell me how you did it when I see y'all tomorrow. You can just let me
out at the next corner with a few more of these Holy 40s and I'll --"

"Sit quiet in this car until I say different, Gunn, or I swear I'll kick
your *ass*."

"Aw, just look at the damned road, Cordelia." Can't decide whether he's
happy or not that Cordelia's threat give him a little warm inside, a
little breaking of whatever it is the last hours have built. But. "Would
you just let me out? I know how to handle bites."

"On your back? With your injuries? Listen, I..." Wesley pauses. "Cordelia,
why don't you just drop us at my flat. I think it's... closer to where
Gunn needs to be?"

Cannot and will not suppress an eye roll. No facts right now, please,
he's still plotting revolution. "You're not gonna let me out of this, are

"If he does, I'll kick *his* ass, too."

"Commando Barbie?"

"One more Barbie crack and I'll call my *girlfriends* over to patch
you up, Gunn, I mean it. I do *not* do well with headaches and you just
have no right to be *this* much of an asshole after all the trouble and
do you know what that woman *said* to me?"

"Right, yes, Lockley's a harridan, Gunn's coming to my place, and you're
getting some rest, Cordelia. All right?"

"Don't *patronize* me."

Gunn's this close to saying something else for the sheer hell of it
when Wesley grabs him on the shoulder. Eyes wide, horrified, and
shaking his head very, very slowly, and OK, that does it.

Gunn puts his head back on the seat and laughs. And winces. He can *feel*
Cordelia fuming. Maybe he'll bring her some flowers tomorrow. Throw
her off-balance before she tears into him again.

Wesley's apartment is small, and surprisingly cluttered. In that way
where everything makes *sense*, but there's just not enough space.
Books, mostly, and notebooks, and *scrolls*. Damn Dungeons and
Dragons life.

Eases off his jacket and has to shake his head at the damage. It'll get
him home, but that's just about it.

"OK, where are we doing this?"

"The bed would probably be the most comfortable for you. You have...
quite a few bites."

Wesley's voice somewhere between clinical and disturbed. The kind of
man you expect to wince and cringe from violence, except that he never
actually does.

Gunn takes his shirt off as he walks, there's really only one place the
bedroom could be in this apartment. Or rather, he *tries* to take it off
and wakes up a hornet's nest in his left shoulder. Damn. *Damn*.

Wesley, thankfully, doesn't say a word, just carefully peels the shirt
away from Gunn's skin and helps him get it off. What's left of the
thing isn't good enough for burning.

Eases onto Wesley's simple double bed and hears from both knees, his
ribs, every inch of his skin, and, of course, the shoulder.

"I think I'm going to need to give you a few stitches on that shoulder,
Gunn, and you should probably go to the hospital for it if --"

"Yeah, yeah. Can I just say that I *hate* vampires?"

"Some of them aren't so bad."

"*One* of them isn't so bad. Exception that proves the rule and ahh --"

"Now, who I can clearly hate with you is Detective Katherine Lockley."

No acknowledgment of Gunn's pain, just steady, firm-yet-gentle strokes
with the Holy Water soaked cloth and yeah, Gunn can play it this way. No
pain here, just a couple of guys shooting the *fuck* -- "Oh, I'm
already there. *Long* past there. Miss Racial Profiling, Los Angeles."

Soft chuckle. "Yes, I did sense a bit of... eagerness in her in regards to

Mock the accent. "Oh, just a bit."

"*I'm* not the one who had to be 'hard core.'" Right back at him.

"Next time I'll just arch my eyebrow at her and quote ancient demonic

"Hmmm... it doesn't seem to work for me. I'm afraid we're both quite
charmless to the LAPD."

Gunn digs his fingers into the mattress. Wesley's at the shoulder, moving
even slower now, but it doesn't matter. He's feeling things in places
that are supposed to be under protective layers of skin. "What did the
fucker do, rip a chunk out?"

"Several small ones, actually. You must have been moving." Serious voice
again. Concentrating and Gunn can see him even though he's keeping his
eyes shut. Frown lines in his forehead, lips pressed together and utterly
focused on the hamburger of his shoulder.

"Silly. Me."

"Tsk. I'm sure you'll be more obedient to the nice vampires next time

"Bring them a cake."

"Maybe a nice afghan."

"Voting rights."

"A cheerful little tea set."

And laughing is definitely a bad idea but he does anyway, Wesley keeping
the cloth away from the wounds until he's done. "Sorry, it's just.
*Tea* set."

"Well, I'm sure there are a *few* civilized vampires in the world."

"Unfortunately, I'm now picturing the 'High Blood' ceremony."

Wesley snorts. "Oh, with the watercress and cucumber sandwiches..."

"Uh, *huh*. Knew you were uppercrust."

"Really? What *ever* gave it away?"

Snickering now and *owwww* but yeah, this is fun. "I'm not just a demon
hunter and a fine looking man, you know."

"No, and I'm not just a demon hunter and the black sheep of my family."

"Why it gotta be a *black* sheep?"


"Never mind. So you on the outs? What happened?"

Pause in the wound cleaning process, which somehow just gives the burning
acid pain *space* to settle into it. Spread out. Gunn hasn't been able
to stop moving for several minutes now, and he can't decide if it's
better to focus on the pain or whatever can of worms he just opened for
Wesley. Wes.

He'll call him Wes, since he can't quite say the name Wesley -- even
in his mind -- without thinking about that annoying little kid on Star

Wes is slightly more neutral.

"Well... to keep it brief, they were not happy when the Watcher's Council
booted me out. Six generations in the Council, after all."

"You don't have to."

"I don't have to what?"

"Keep it brief."

Not so much a pause as a moment's hesitation. Wes is going over all
the wounds several times, nothing but good sense. "Thank you." Quiet,
and no trace of humor.

"Yeah, well, if someone else is bitching about the Man, then I won't
look like so much of a punk when *I* do."

He can almost, almost feel Wes smile. "Maybe some other time."


Scary little moment, something from back in the day -- that strange
*opening* feeling just as he starts making a friend. Someone good
to have around, who had... his back. Smirks, tries to focus on being
wry instead of the way he really can't stop moving.

The way that away from the pain *there* is just *into* the pain over
*there* and Gunn knows a way to deal with it, but it's not one he really
cares for. Just a little on the sick side, especially if it's not a matter
of life and death. Doesn't want to dive into it this time around.

"So you're probably a... stiff upper lip kinda guy when it comes to pain,
hunh?" Sweat in his eye, shakes it off and groans and in general fucking
loses half a million points in the man department, but Gunn's run out
of subjects.

Wes' laugh is strange. Something like brittle, or cruel, but definitely
real. Gunn's prepared to give as good as he gets, but Wesley only says:

"I'm sorry. The question is just... surprising. You really don't know
anything about me, do you, Gunn?"

Which... doesn't answer the question, but definitely gives him something
to think on, outside of his shoulder. "I know you don't like my axe."

"It's a perfectly fine hubcap and pipe."

"Heh. Saved *your* ass."

"Yes, saved by a hubcap. I'll be sure to spread *that* around."

"Tell you what -- you get *our* boss to spread a little more of that
mean green around and I'll let you pick a *proper* axe for me to

"I'll bet you could do a lot more with a sword, anyway. You've got the
grace for it."

"Not tonight, I didn't."

"And how many vampires were there?"

"Heh. Too damned many."

"Right. I can't say I'm the best swordsman -- though I know someone who
could probably teach you enough to cut a swathe through the L.A. demon
population -- but I can show you some things.

"And Angel has far more swords than he can use."

"I never thought I'd meet anyone with more weapons than I have."

"There, there, he's had a lot more time to collect."

Silence for a while, and it's bad because it just plain warm water now,
and some sort of bacterial cleanser, and now that the Holy pain is gone,
it's just his tortured muscles, and the results of that long, steady

Cooler cloth laid gently on the back of his neck. Wonderful shiver in
the process of terrible, terrible relaxation. And Wesley says:

"I do have some painkillers... not that I'm saying. Rather, I think you'll
need a --"

"Anything with codeine?"

"Is there any other kind?"


And it's nice that Wesley thinks he's that much of a tough guy -- or,
conversely, an idiot -- that he'll turn down painkillers, but... Well, and
most of the time he would. But vampire bites get special attention. Yeah.
Definitely deserves a break.

Wesley, slipping a pillow under his chest, at him with the bandages, now.
Fleeting wonder what it would be like to have this much attention when
he *wasn't* in excruciating pain, but he has the feeling the Vicodin is
going to become his new friend.

New *best* friend.

Right up there with the axe.

"To answer your question, I'm really quite a child about pain."

"Cry until you get candy?"

"There's candy? No one ever mentioned there was candy with the pain."

Going on while Gunn laughs:

"No, I'm. Something of a coward about it. Hence the small pharmacy."

"A coward? What, are you Wesley's evil, depressive twin?"

"I... There have been... events, Gunn, that I'm not especially proud of."

"I can forgive you for badmouthing my axe. Someday."

"Look, you -- you're not making this very easy."

Which is perfectly true, but see, Gunn *knows* this one. There's always
somebody with something to prove in the non-stupid way. That quiet
inadequacy thing and it's bullshit. At least here. "That's the *point*.
Hey, whatever happened didn't happen when I was around. Just so long
as I know you got my back, right?"

"I've got your back swathed in bandages at the moment."

"Good enough."

"Right. Well. That's..."

"Refreshing, like a cool autumn breeze?"

"I was going to say 'new,' but your way is rather more poetic, Gunn."

"I try."

Bandaging process done, and Gunn is already floating. Just a little.
Nothing but human pain and suffering in his back, the pillow putting
just enough arch in to keep him comfortable. Too comfortable.

Definitely going to sleep now.

Should get out of here.

Wakes up to find his boots off, the lights off, Wesley settled in
beside him. Looking right back at him.

"I hope you don't mind, it's just that the couch is really more of a
loveseat --"

"Don't make me get Cordelia to kick your ass." And the mumble takes a
lot of the command out of it, but he thinks he got his point across.


Fumbles his belt off, one-handed and tosses it to the floor. Throws that arm,
henceforward to be referred to as 'the good arm,' over Wes' waist.

It's warm.

Gunn sleeps.