Home / Fan Fiction / Angel / Epiphany / Liberty Rules
Disclaimer: The following is a non-profit, amateur effort not intended to infringe of the rights of Joss Whedon, the WB, Mutant Enemy or any other copyright holders of Angel.
by The Brat Queen
Spoilers: Takes place after Epiphany.
Summary: Gunn and Cordy catch on.
Thanks to: Maxiumum Woman, for her detailed beta-read, and Steph for her suggestions.
1. Shake Hands
2. Kick Butt
"I must say, there are few things better in life than a good, honest workout," Wesley said. He stepped over to one of the weight machines. "Moves the body, motivates the system, releases stress -"
"Wes, could you maybe work something besides your mouth?" Cordy asked. She adjusted her spandex pants. "I'm trying to get in the zone."
"Oh." Wesley bent down and tried to adjust the weight machine's settings. "Sorry."
Angel bent down to help him. "Here, let me," he said. He moved the seat to Wesley's height, accidentally brushing his hand against Wes's as he did. Off Wesley's look, he smiled. "Just, um, don't make it an over workout, ok?" He glanced down at Wesley's still-healing stomach to drive the point home.
Wes returned the smile. A hint of color was on his cheeks. "I won't. I promise."
"Ok, people, we're set," Gunn said, slapping his hands together as he walked up. "Suzanna says we can stay as long as we like. No charge."
"Great!" Cordy said. She took a sip out of her water bottle. "Tell her that's very sweet of her. Really."
Gunn shrugged it off. "Kill a few demons for someone, they don't mind letting you hang around a place. It's cool."
"Still," Wesley said, "she's being most generous."
"She don't mind," Gunn said. He indicated different doorways. "So we got the weight room here, treadmills over that way, pool over there, and the courts are just down the hall. Hey, Angel, you play ball?"
Angel looked up, bewildered. "Um - ball? You - you mean basketball? I - I don't, actually. Never even -"
"Cool," Gunn said. He stood in front of Angel and folded his arms. Angel found himself wanting to take a step back. "Let's you and me play some one on one."
Angel glanced at Wesley, then back at Gunn. He nodded. "Um, sure. Ok." He stood, brushing off his sweatpants. "I suppose we -"
"We'll be back in a while," Gunn said. He turned and made his way to the basketball courts. "Don't wait up. C'mon, Angel."
Unsure what to say, Angel followed.
"God, it is so nice to have a place to work out," Cordy said. She put her water down and looked the machines over. "You know, I haven't been to a gym like this since high school." She went over to the bicep machine and looked at the settings. "Geez - Wes, didn't you just use this?"
Wesley paused, looking over. "Yes. Why?"
Cordy rolled her eyes. "No reason. You just have the upper body strength of a girl is all. Honestly!" She bent down and added thirty pounds of weight to the settings.
Wesley folded his arms and attempted to look disapproving. "Oh really? And what, then, do you have?"
Cordy sat down on the machine and began working. "The upper body strength of a smart girl, is what."
Wesley frowned. "I don't follow you."
"Think I'm gonna ignore these muscles in our line of work?" she asked. She stopped long enough to mime a stabbing motion similar to the reps the machine had her doing. "Oh no. I'm very fond of my staking abilities, thank you. 'Course it's been hard to keep those up outside of actually killing someone. Frankly, I prefer the gym." She wiped her brow, then adjusted the weights for her next set. "Bet it was fun taking advantage of Virginia's personal trainers whenever you wanted to. Too bad you broke up," Cordy added, in a voice which was surprisingly sympathetic. "Not too likely your next girlfriend is going to have all those perks."
Wesley bit his lip for a moment, and staged a debate with himself. He looked in the direction that Gunn and Angel had left in, then decided to take a chance. "Actually, Cordelia, I'm already seeing someone."
Cordy looked at him, shocked. "You? Wes, you dog! Oh my God - you weren't seeing her when you were with Virgina, were you? Is that why she dumped you?"
"No," Wesley said, feeling indignant. "It was a mutual decision, based on many factors. Although I did know the - the, ah, new person at the time."
Cordy smirked. "Well hopefully this one didn't pick you because she thinks you're Angel. I have to say, Wes - didn't want to tell you this at the time because Virignia was so nice and, you know, rich, but I never got that. Feeling an attraction just 'cause she thinks you're a dead guy? Ew. Never got it with Buffy, don't get it still. Angel's sweet but necrophilia is so not my thing."
Wesley smiled wanly. "No. No problem there. He definitely would not mistake me for Angel, no."
"He?" Cordelia looked at him. "Did you just say - "
"Yes," Wesley said. He ran his hand over the bars of his machine, hoping he did not appear as nervous as he felt. "He. I - I am seeing a man, Cordelia."
The basketball area was larger and better-kept than the gym's outside appearance would have indicated. Angel counted six hoops surrounding them, three of which were already claimed. Angel watched the players desperately, trying to see if he could figure out the game, or even remember the small bits of it he'd encountered over the years.
Gunn acquired a ball from the equipment locker and brought it to their court. He bounced the ball as he did. A loud thwump echoed throughout the room each time the ball hit the floor. "So," Gunn said, his voice casual. "Friendly game?"
"Sure," Angel said. He tried to indicate the other players. "Though I don't really know how -"
"Good," Gunn said. The ball hit the floor again. Gunn's hands wrapped around it easily as he caught it as it bounced back up. "I'll start."
It was the only warning he got before Gunn released the ball, slammed it down against the floor, pushed past Angel, grabbed the ball again, jumped, and tossed it into the basket in an easy, overhand motion. There was a hiss as the ball passed through the net and back into Gunn's hands. "Looks like I'm ahead," Gunn said. He looked at Angel, then threw the ball at him. "Your turn."
Angel's hands stung as the ball hit them. Taking a hint from the other players, he attempted to dribble. He held back, out of Gunn's range. "Um," he said, keeping a watch on Gunn out of the corner of his eye, "I'm sort of sensing a -"
"What's going on with you and Wesley?"
The ball skittered out of Angel's hands. "What?"
Gunn picked the ball up, bounced it, and brought it back over to Angel. "I said, what is going on with Wesley - " Gunn threw the ball at him again. Again it stung. "and you?"
Angel licked his lips. He felt the bumps and lines of the ball under his fingertips. He tried shrugging a little. "Why - why do you -"
Gunn's brown eyes were hard. "Because I'm not blind, that's why. I seen you two. Little looks, little comments, little time together at the office when Cordy and I ain't there. Or you think we ain't there. Am I stupid, man? Am I not supposed to figure it out? You think somebody doesn't know by now?"
Angel looked at the floor. "I - um. I -"
"You're gay?" Cordelia's eyes had formed almost perfect circles. Her mouth opened and closed a few times. Then she pulled back, composed herself, and spread a large smile over her lips. "I mean - wow! You! Gay! That's - that's great, Wes. Really. I'm - I'm so proud of you!"
Wesley took this in, impressed. "You don't get it at all, do you?"
The smile didn't falter. "Not a bit, no."
"That's fair," Wesley said. He stepped away from his machine, moving towards Cordy so that they could speak without being overheard. "I do appreciate the vote of support."
"Well it's just - you," Cordy said. She moved her hand up and down to indicate Wesley's entire body. "You and Virginia! You and me!" She frowned, picking up her water bottle thoughtfully. "Actually - not a good example. But still - you!"
"It was a surprise to me as well," Wesley admitted.
"Then again," Cordy said, tapping her water bottle. "You do like knitting. And you're pretty tidy."
"True, but that's hardly -"
"You're skinny as all Hell. I've seen you drink Schnapps and Cosmopolitans. You like gardening."
"Yes, Cordy, I feel -"
"And then there's the whole 'leather and motorcycle' thing that you're into," Cordy said. She snapped her fingers. "Oo! And you're really smart and bookish!"
"Cordelia, really!" Wesley said. "A man's enjoyment of research and fine literature has nothing whatsoever to do with his sexuality."
"Is Giles gay?"
"I don't know!" Wesley said, exasperated. Then he stopped himself, and shook his head. "I mean no. No. He's not. I don't think. Cordelia, we've strayed from our point just a little, don't you agree?"
Cordy at least had the courtesy to look sheepish. "Sorry, Wes. I've just never had a gay friend before. Well, you know, not one I was close to. Oh - you should come with me to Peter's party on Friday night! It would be so perfect!"
"Cordy, I am not about to become some sort of fashionable homosexual accessory for your late evenings!"
"What?" she looked at him as though he'd gone mad. "What the heck are you talking about? I'm just trying to set you up. Peter is way cute. You'd make a great couple."
"Oh," Wesley blinked, feeling the wind get knocked out of his sails. "I see." He smiled at her. "I didn't realize. I'm sorry."
A hand flew up to Cordy's face. "Oh! God - I forgot. You're already seeing someone! Sorry - still getting used to this. Ok. You - gay. Seeing someone. Got it." She nodded. "So, who?"
Wesley looked down. "That's - that's the difficult part."
Cordy's jaw dropped again. "Oh God - it's not the Host, is it? I mean - you are my friend and I support you, Wes, but you could do way better. Not that the Host isn't nice!" she added quickly, "And if you like him - OK. But come on! His dress sense? Next to yours? Totally clashes."
Wesley found himself wondering how on earth Cordelia survived the amusement park ride that was her thought process. "It's not the Host."
Cordy let out an audible sigh. "That was a close one. So, who?" she grinned. "Is he a summer? Winter?"
Wesley took the final plunge. "His favorite color is black, actually."
"You, um, what?" Gunn said, his voice slightly mocking.
Angel gave up the pretense. "We weren't trying to lie, or anything."
"Uh-huh." Gunn motioned for him to keep playing. Angel tried dribbling again, then went to make his shot. Gunn blocked it easily and kept the ball. "So what were you doing?"
Angel saw how the other players did it, then tried to match his motions to Gunn's, watching for any chance to block him, or steal the ball back. "We didn't know. It happened. We weren't sure."
Once again Gunn bypassed him and scored. "He wasn't sure of you?"
Angel caught the ball. Without knowing the rules, he couldn't tell how to use his strength or abilities to any advantage. He resolved himself to simply trying to get around Gunn while dribbling. "No. He wasn't sure of - of it. Didn't want to talk about it before he was ready."
"Oh, so this was an act of chivalry, is what you're telling me?" Gunn asked. He feinted for the ball.
Angel ducked out of the way easily. He took a chance and shot. The ball circled the rim before falling through the net. "I was trying to respect his wishes," Angel said. He met Gunn's eyes, not backing down this time. "And I'm not particularly fond of 'kiss and tell'. Lacks respect, don't you think?"
"I got respect," Gunn said. He bounced the ball back and forth between both hands. "I got plenty of respect. I got respect for you. You my friend, right? Two of us - we cool, yeah?"
Angel nodded, watching him carefully. "Yeah. We're friends. At least I'd like us to be."
"Thing is," Gunn continued, taking his time approaching the hoop, "with friends you get freedom. You're my friend but you leave tomorrow - I ain't gonna cry. My life goes on. 'Cause we friends."
Angel tried to take the ball. Gunn kept it out of his reach.
"That's friends," Gunn said. He bounced the ball harder. "'course when you start fucking a brother - things change."
Angel refused to flinch.
"Friend leave you - you don't care," Gunn said. "But you fuck a man, he has what you might call certain expectations. Certain rights. Right to understand that you ain't going nowhere. Right to expect you gonna be there the next day, the next morning. You ain't just gonna get epiphanied off and leave him 'cause you have better things to do. Follow me?"
Angel snaked one arm out, snatching the ball away. He held it in both hands, feeling its energy drain through him into the floor. He stood still, meeting Gunn eye to eye. "Yeah. I follow you."
Gunn stood in front of him, hands at his sides. "Wesley is my boy - you got that?"
Angel nodded. "Yeah, I got that."
"You and me - we're friends," Gunn said. "But Wes is my boy. You disrespect him -"
"I won't," Angel said. He was surprised the ball didn't burst under the pressure of his fingers. "I would never hurt him."
Gunn nodded, neither agreeing nor disputing. "Thing is," he said, "I know you 247 years old. You're a vampire. Got powers and shit. That's cool. But I also know your ass is weaker than a skinny white college girl's. Chips are down, she can take you."
"That's because Buffy's different," Angel said. "Special."
"Yeah," Gunn said. "Maybe. But you know what?" He reached out, grabbed the ball, shoved Angel aside, leapt, and slammed the ball home. He let the ball roll across the floor as he returned to stare Angel down. "I ain't never been to college, but I'm pretty special too."
Angel held his hands up. "I don't want to fight with you, Gunn."
"Hey - we're not fighting," Gunn said. "We cool. We're still friends. I'm just telling you how we stay that way. All right?"
"Yeah," Angel said. He let his hands fall back down. "All right."
There was a pause, then Gunn held out his hand. Angel stared at it for a moment, then held his own out as well. They shook on it.
"Come on," Gunn said. He let go, but there was a ghost of a friendly smile on his face. "Lemme teach how you to play."
"Black?" Cordy laughed. "Who is it, Angel?"
"Yes. It is."
Cordelia laughed again, this time uncertainly. "No, really. Who?"
"Really," Wesley said, "it's Angel."
Cordy jumped out of her seat, her arm pointing in the direction of the basketball courts. "Angel? Our Angel? Vampire? Broods? About yay tall? Angel?"
"That would be the one," Wesley said, "yes."
"Ok," Cordelia put a hand to her forehead. "So did not see this conversation happening anytime ever. Since when is Angel gay?"
Wesley shrugged. "I'm not sure that he is. Vampires being what they are, is it really possible to apply human labels to them?"
Cordy gave him a look. "News flash, Wes, when someone with a working penis has his tongue down your throat, odds are - gay! Or possibly bi. Then again if you and Angel haven'tů." she stopped, turned, and stared at him. "Oh my God. You have, haven't you? That's what you're trying to tell me."
Wesley tried to head the argument off at the pass. "Now, Cordy, please remember -"
"No," Cordy said. She knelt down, reached into her gym bag, and pulled out her purse. "No way. I'm going to set you up with Peter. Trust me on this." Leaving her bag on the floor, she got up again and made her way to the payphones that lined the hallway to the basketball courts.
Wesley followed. "Cordy -"
She ignored him. "I know this is sudden, but really, you'll love him. He's fun, likes books, enjoys movies - the whole nine yards." She fished some coins out of her purse, dropped them into the phone and began dialing. "Admittedly he's a little shorter than you. Don't know if that might be a turn off but hey - Tom Cruise is only five-nine and look how many guys find him attractive."
Wesley reached over and clicked the phone off. "Cordy, it's too late."
Cordelia looked at him. "Wesley, it is never too late to stop sleeping with the guy who becomes a mass murderer every time he gets a happy."
"Possibly," Wesley said. He leaned against the wall so that Cordelia could see him better. "But it is too late for me to stop caring for him."
Cordy sighed. She put the phone back on the receiver.
Wesley watched her. "Cordelia, I know your concerns -"
"What?" she asked. Her hand was still on the phone, as though she'd forgotten what to do with it. "You mean my concern that one day I'm going to have to write off 'ID Wesley's body' on my To Do list? That concern? Because, let me tell you, Wes, I've got better things to do. A lot better."
Wesley was taken aback. "I hadn't thought of that. I mean - I did. But not from that perspective."
Cordy shrugged. "Well, that's Angelus for you. Fun for the whole family. Should've been there the year Buffy turned him. Lots of laughs."
"Yes," Wesley said softly, "but I'm not Buffy."
Cordelia's dark eyes looked up at him. Wesley imagined some sort of cutting remark to be right at the tip of her tongue. But something - perhaps understanding - kept her from saying it.
A bright light fell over them both. They turned to see the doors to the basketball courts swing open. Three men walked out, laughing and joking with one another. Beyond them Angel and Gunn could be seen, apparently in the middle of a game.
"He does care for me," Wesley said.
"Cordy, I - I'd rather not," Wesley grimaced, hating that he could not find the words. He wished that he had had more time. That he could have become more used to, well, everything. As it was he did the best he could. "That is, we don't know. About anything. About the curse, or all it does, or why it hasn't been broken yet."
Cordelia nodded, whether in agreement or in sympathy, Wesley couldn't tell. "So, like, what? Are you guys a couple now?"
"Yes," Wesley said. "At least, I suppose we are. As much as we can be."
"Okay," Cordy said slowly. She appeared dubious, but still willing to listen.
"He hasn't turned," Wesley said.
"Yet," Cordy pointed out.
Wesley had to agree. "Yet."
The light fell over them again.
"Everything ok?" Angel asked. He was standing in the doorway to the courts, a basketball resting under his arm.
"You tell me," Cordelia replied. "I'm not the one who needs a soul check."
Angel glanced at Wesley. Wesley nodded in reply. "Um," Angel said. "I'm still me, Cordy. And I - I didn't mean to start any trouble. Get Wes in trouble, for that matter."
Cordy folded her arms, looking at Angel. "I'm really sick of carrying hotel Bibles around just in case you're not yourself when you wake up in the morning."
"I know," Angel said. He looked chastened.
"Could do without the worry that I'm gonna need to ask Willow for that de-invitation spell too," she added.
"I know," Angel replied.
"You had better really like Wesley, for this to be worthwhile," Cordy said.
Angel seemed surprised. "I do." A half-smile touched his lips. "That's - that's not a problem. Believe me."
Cordy looked back and forth between them, then took her coins out of the phone. "All right. I'm not saying that I like this, or that it's smart - but all right. For now."
Angel smiled in full. "Thanks, Cordy."
"Yeah, well," Cordy waved it off. She grabbed Wesley by the arm, pulling him closer. "Want my advice?" she said, keeping her voice low. "Don't get too good at it. Stick with that weird, dry kissing thing you do."
"I'll do my best," Wesley said, for lack of anything else to say.
She patted him on the shoulder. "Good. Now let's get back to work."
- Fin -