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Needed

by Jessie

Summary: It's the little things in life that make you think. A vignette about Gunn and Fred.

Spoilers: Up to the third season. Nothing specific.

Disclaimer: 'Angel', its characters and situations belongs to several other people who are most definitely not me. No harm is meant by this story and no profit is made from it.

Author's Note: I hope every one enjoys this one, even if it is a bit short. I'm curious if any one besides me picked up on this name thing and has put the same significance on it that I have.

Also, I want to thank every one who reviewed my last two 'Angel' stories. Your comments meant a lot to me. This story is dedicated to all of you.

***

"Charles?"

The young woman looked up at him, and he smiled at the sound of the name she had used. She always called him by his first name. Even when no one else did. Not since his sister, anyway. Not since that time when things were simple. Real.

And, even then, it had only been in a fight. Or on a hunt. Or in a situation where she felt she needed to make known that he was hers and always would be. That he belonged to his baby sister.

He had liked that feeling of belonging. That feeling of being needed.

With his buddies he had just been 'Gunn'. And now, with his coworkers, he was still only known as that single-syllable weapon of a name. He liked it too. It was a different kind of need. He had purpose. He had strength. He meant something to the rest of them. He was their 'gun'. Their weapon.

But not hers.

He hadn't been sure, at first, whether or not he liked it. She'd say his name - that drawl that just didn't belong to any one who was local, accenting each vowel slightly - and he'd flinch a little. Then remember to hold it in. The last person to call him Charles had been his sister. And a thought like that just wasn't easy to get rid of.

But he'd cut the girl some slack. She was new and still adjusting and hell if he was gonna give her any crap about the way she said his name.

And, slowly, he'd come to like it.

He wouldn't admit it, of course. To himself or any one else. He just wasn't that kinda guy. All muscle and cool looks, that's what he was. But then, in spite of this, he usually couldn't help outright smiling anyway at the sound of that word coming from her mouth.

'Charles.'

It meant that he was needed again. But not like he was needed when he was 'Gunn'. When he was 'Gunn' it was all about winning one for the team, and storming in, battle axes drawn. 'Gunn' was the kinda man who had nothing to lose, and didn't let pretty girls get to him.

'Charles', on the other hand, couldn't say the same.

He looked down at her slight form; her thin arms and thin face. When she called him Charles it was like he was needed for more than just an extra bicep. A cool remark. An improvised plan of attack.

She'd call him by his first name and it was as if there was some sort of intimate connection between them, because who else but a lover or a sister would do such a thing? It was as though she really did need him. Not just for his strength and his courage, though, of course, that was a part of it.

She just needed him to be there.

It was such a simple thing. And yet, how many people could really be there for some one? How many people could just... be? It made him feel important. And special. Made him feel like he could really get used to having some one around who always called him 'Charles'. Some one who knew him well enough to call him by that name. To need him.

He felt, in some small sense, like his sister was with him again. Only it was different. This young woman wasn't anything like his sister, but the sound of that name from her lips... It was as if she was claiming him as hers right there, in front of every one. As though she was letting the entire world know that he belonged to her, just like his sister used to.

"Yeah?" He answered and looked at Fred coolly. The girl grinned up at him from the floor and the contraption she was building there. How many people did he bother to reply to? How many people did he bother to look to at the sound of their voice?

He decided not to think about it any further as she motioned for him to crouch down beside her and hold a piece of the machine while she scrounged for a screwdriver. The answer was simple enough, and didn't really need any more thought. How many people did he abandon stoicism and icy looks for? How many people did he run to at their call, feeling needed, wanted, and a hundred other things that he didn't know how to describe?

One. And, he reasoned, most likely, only one.

He smiled at her again.

The only one who could call him Charles and get away with it.

End.

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