Since his visit to Kennedy's last month, Wesley had thought a lot about trying to resume helping the helpless as best he could without being a part of the Angel Investigations team, but he hadn't been able to motivate himself just yet. For the most part, he'd found himself sticking to his time-honored solution for dealing with conflict, which was, of course, alcohol.
Then tonight - not that he could name what day of the week it was, or even confidently identify the time of day - there was a knock on his door.
After the fourth knock, Wesley got up and answered the door. He was curious, but he found that curiosity didn't exactly go hand-in-hand with enthusiasm for him anymore. Curiosity killed the cat, after all - or at least slit its throat.
It was Gunn.
It was partly Wes' still-sore throat and partly a firm unwillingness to make this easy on his former friend that Wesley withdrew back into the apartment and waited for Gunn to speak rather than bothering with formalities.
Before long, he did.
"Look," said Gunn, immediately stepping into the apartment and gently but firmly kicking the door shut behind him, "I don't have time to get into it with you. The hotel is infested with something - some type of slug/jellyfish thing. We don't know what they are or how to kill them."
Wesley turned his back on Gunn, walking toward the other side of the room where his books were. Not for a book to help Gunn, though. He wasn't interested in that.
"Well, now, that is a problem." His voice was still raspy and speaking continued to hurt, so if Gunn couldn't make out what he was saying, that was Gunn's problem.
Apparently that wasn't an issue. "These things," Gunn continued, "there's hundreds of 'em. They get inside you and soak up the moisture outta your whole body. They drink you alive."
Wesley picked up a book. He didn't open it.
"Why come to me?" he asked -- because he genuinely couldn't see a reason. The team had to loathe him now; he knew that because they hadn't made contact with him in seven weeks. He didn't even know if they knew that he hadn't stolen Connor for nefarious purposes. Yet Gunn was here -- unsympathetic Gunn, not even Fred or Cordelia. This wasn't an olive branch; it was a suspension of the silent treatment so Wesley would solve their problems. And Gunn was too proud a person to do that if it wasn't necessary. Confident in that deduction, he murmured, "I'm sure Angel will figure out how to kill them eventually."
Gunn advanced. Wesley was still facing the other way, but Gunn's steps had never been quiet. "That's not what I'm looking for," he said. "I wanna know how to get these slugs out of someone who's been infected. Force it out somehow."
Wesley didn't look up or turn. "Sorry."
"Don't give me that," Gunn snapped. "If you could see what these things do--"
Frankly Wesley wasn't the slightest bit sympathetic. Not even teetering on the edge of sympathy, really. "I wish I could help," he said, expressionless, and now he did turn around. Maybe Gunn would spot that scar on his neck and ask after it -- but no, it wasn't likely.
"Sorry you wasted your time."
Gunn looked him hard in the eyes. "It's Fred."
Of course it was. Of course it was Fred. It would have to be, wouldn't it?
Wesley turned around again, heading for the liquor cabinet he'd visited so often over the past few weeks. He withdrew a bottle. It wasn't a favorite of his or anything he was likely to drink. Just a nearly-full bottle of vodka. Then again, the bottles of what Wesley was likely to drink had mostly been depleted: the cabinet was almost empty.
If Gunn noticed the unoccupied space, or cared, he didn't comment. "What, are we gonna have a drink now?" he snapped. "Didn't you hear what I said? She's dying."
The desperation in his voice was unsurprising. It wasn't remotely beneath Charles to use Fred as a trump card, apparently. Wesley didn't know why he'd ever thought otherwise.
But Wesley was a desperate man too. Or he had been. "I was dying," he replied -- still in the soft, barely-perceptible rasp because he was making no effort to project. "Throat cut, life pouring out of me. Know why I fought to live again?"
"Wes, I don't have time--"
"I wanted to live," Wesley continued, as if he hadn't been interrupted, "to see my friends again. To explain to the people I loved and trusted my side of what happened."
It wasn't sympathy in Gunn's eyes. It would have been in Cordy's -- so Wes was almost glad that it hadn't been her who'd come. Better to know the real score.
"We know what happened," Gunn said, firmly.
"You don't know anything." That came out louder than he'd meant -- he winced, resisting the impulse to touch one hand to his throat. Instead he thrust the vodka bottle out toward Gunn. "I'll help because it's Fred," he said, before Gunn could make a retort or storm away. "But don't come here again. Any of you."
[[taken from angel 3x19 "the price." nfb/nfi.]]
- Wesley's Apartment | Los Angeles, CA | Tuesday Evening Fandom Time