punch_kicker15: (Fred)
[personal profile] punch_kicker15
Title: we know who we should love, but we're never certain how
Author: punch_kicker15
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Relationships: Fred/Alonna Gunn
Summary: (An AU ATS S4 in which Charles Gunn died and Alonna survived; Alonna joined AI and is in a relationship with Fred.) The fight to bring Angel back from Angelus puts a strain on Fred and Alonna's relationship.
Word count: 1022
Notes: written for [livejournal.com profile] femslashbb for the September prompt, "what could have been". Title is from The Weakerthans song The Reasons.

“We’re gonna save Angel,” Wes said. “I know who we need to help us do it.”

Alonna swiveled in her chair, staring at Wes in disbelief. “Wait, you mean Faith? Even if she’s willing, she might not be enough.”

Wes cleared his throat. “I’m confident she’ll be able to handle him.”

Alonna shook her head. “And what happens if you’re wrong? What if he turns her and we have a vamped Slayer to deal with along with Angelus and The Beast? I think we should ask Buffy’s gang for backup.”

“No!” Wes slapped his palm on the table. “We created this problem. It’s our responsibility to fix it.” He cleared his throat. “From what I’ve heard from my contacts, there are impending apocalypses that will likely occupy all of their time.”

Alonna dug her fingers into her thigh, trying to keep her voice level. “But what’s wrong with just asking--”

Wes cut her off, “Emotional arguments waste time we don’t have. End of discussion.”

He walked out, leaving Alonna itching to run after him and tell him exactly what she thought of his previous lapses in judgment, his dubious leadership qualities, even his oh-so-carefully cultivated five-o’clock shadow and tousled hair. But if she did, it would just be more confirmation that she was being emotional.

She grabbed her jacket, and dashed out of the room, refusing to look back to see if Fred was following her.

Fred finally caught up with her outside their apartment. She gently touched Alonna’s shoulder. “You ok?”

Alonna opened the door and tossed her jacket on the floor. “Did you see the way he just dismissed me? Calling me ‘emotional’ so he can dismiss anything I have to say? I bet if you’d suggested it, or Cordelia, he would have listened. He might not have gone along with it, but wouldn’t have just called it ‘emotional.’”

She collapsed on the couch. “And I’ve been with Angel Investigations almost as long as Cordy has, and longer than you. I bet Wes’ll probably start listening to Connor before me, even though he was still in diapers about five minutes ago.”

Fred joined her on the couch, close enough that Alonna could catch her scent--the odd mix of ammonia funk from lab disinfectant and the citrusy fragrance of Clinique Happy. “Are you saying that Wes has got in for you? Why would he?”

Alonna ran her hand over one of the sofa cushions, letting the soft nubby fabric distract her a little from some hard truths. “I can think of one real obvious difference between me and everyone else.”

Fred’s brow furrowed. “You--you think this is a race thing?”

Alonna could feel tears spring up, a salty taste at the back of her throat. She curled her knees up to her chest, and wrapped her arms around them. “What else am I supposed to think? Angelus called me group’s token colored girl and none of you blinked.”

“He was being cruel to everyone!” Fred’s tone softened. “And none of us feel that way about you.”

Alonna touched her tongue to the roof of her mouth, her fool-proof trick to ward off tears. Fred could be so oblivious sometimes. And sometimes that willingness to believe the best in everyone could be aggravatingly naive. “He wouldn’t have said it if weren’t a little bit true. It wouldn’t hurt if it weren’t a little bit true. I don’t know what else I need to do. I’ve turned myself inside out to try to fit in, and it’s never enough. I just feel so alone all the time.”

“I know what that’s like--” Fred started.

“I didn’t forget about Pylea--but it’s different when you’re with people who are supposed to be your people, and even then you’re alone. No matter where I am, I don’t belong. Even in my own family--Daddy and Gunn--” there was a little hitch in her voice, because she’d never stop missing him. “Daddy and Gunn didn’t understand what it was like to be a woman. Momma didn’t understand what it was like to be black. I fit in the best with my old gang--”

Fred flinched at that, so Alonna clarified, “I don’t wanna go back. Leaving was the right thing to do. But that doesn’t mean that it was easy for me. Or the best thing for me in every way.”

Fred just watched her silently.

Finally Alonna got tired of trying to figure out what was going on behind those wide brown eyes. “You got anything to say that isn’t excuses for other people?”

Fred fiddled with her glasses, looking nervous. Alonna fought a wave of irritation. It was hard enough dredging up this pain--now she had to worry about whether it made Fred uncomfortable.

Fred said, softly, “I’m trying to listen.”

“I’ve said all I wanted to say for now.”

Fred ran a hand down the seam of her lab jacket. “You--you’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to be you. I’m not sure what to say, because everything I said before was wrong. I’m sorry that you feel so alone all the time. I’d like to help with that, if you think I can.”

Alonna said, “Listening is a start.”

Fred said, “And I’m totally with you on getting help issue.”

Alonna nodded, relieved to move the conversation on to practical matters. “I’m gonna call that girl from Sunnydale, the one who came to tell us Buffy was dead. Maybe she’ll have some ideas.”

“And I’ll get started on the research. If Wes asks, it was all my fault.” Fred grinned slyly. And despite her earlier frustration, Alonna found herself smiling back.  Fred might look and sound like a meek little waif, but underneath that sweet exterior lurked a clever and devious streak that Alonna couldn’t help but love.

Maybe that love wasn’t enough to make this relationship work in the long term, but it was enough to make it worth trying.

Alonna picked up the phone and dialed. They were gonna save Angel. That was what mattered most right now. She could figure out the rest later.

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