SECOND CHANCES

Disclaimer:  I don't own any of the characters except for the ones that I create.

Author's Note:  This is the Epilogue, after this will come the sequel if I get some more reviews that want it.

CHAPTER 21-EPILOGUE

It had been three weeks.  Three weeks after the party and the longest time that either Wesley or Faith had spent out of his apartment, better yet the bedroom, could be calculated with minutes counting as the fingers on a hand.  Had they used their better judgment during that period of time both probably would have wanted to take some time off, but all they could seem to do for those three weeks was get lost in the bliss that was each other and the realm of dreams.  Angel and the others had made numerous attempts to get in touch with them, mostly to get the whole story as to how Faith had been released from prison in the first place to how she and Wesley, a fact that was still hard to believe for most involved, had gotten together to how the two had come to be wearing mercenary outfits the night of the party.  Before he and the others had gone back to Sunnydale Giles had tried his best to explain the situation but he couldn't do it completely as he didn't know the entire story. Cordelia had gotten out of the hospital after about a week and was now recuperating in one of the rooms on the second story, with both Connor and Angel at her beck and call, whenever one or both of them wasn't out on a call helping someone in need.  Gunn had taken charge of the remodeling of the Hyperion, and after three weeks the old hotel was starting to look almost like it had at the beginning of the party, even with a few improvements.  Fred had begged and begged until Angel and Gunn had relented and put in the budget money to pay for a small library near where the rebuilt office would be.  To counter that Angel, after some considerable lamenting of his destroyed weapons chest, made sure to get an even larger weapons chest, saying that if Faith joined them in the fight at A.I. then they'd need more weapons. 

Angel and Connor had tried to smooth out the rougher parts in their relationship since the party, with some progress, greatly because of a lot of not so thinly veiled threats from Cordelia that she wouldn't speak to either one of them if they didn't.  Spike had continued to live in Buffy's basement and deal with the ramifications of regaining his soul while trying to figure out exactly what his new relationship was with Buffy.  For the most part Dawn seemed to be staying out of it, with most of her incursions into that territory being ones of asking Spike to teach her a few things that Buffy wouldn't, which he took as a sign that the gap between them was beginning to shrink.  Willow had come back and visited the Hyperion a couple times during the aftermath of the party, mostly to make sure that there were no ill effects of all of the magic that the robed magic users had cast to open the portals.  It was nearing sundown when Wesley and Faith, against their urges, decided to face the music and return to the Hyperion, hoping to smooth things out between the once close knit group, and then take a quick visit to Sunnydale.  After that they hadn't decided their next move, but both knew that they wanted to remain fighting the good fight.

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"You sure about this Wes, we didn't leave here under the best of circumstances remember," Faith said with some trepidation in her voice as she and Wesley stopped by the fountain in front of the Hyperion.  Like her days of old Faith had decided against playing it safe and slipped into something she was comfortable in while at the same time hoping to get a reaction out of Angel.  What she chose to wear in the end was an overly tight pair of black leather pants, dark hiking boots which were a gift from Wesley, and a white ever revealing top that didn't look that bad with the dark blue dress shirt she wore over it.  Her hair, instead of its usual place cascading down her shoulders in an unruly river, was for the most part pulled back in a loose ponytail, highlighted by a pair of earrings that she had forced Wesley to buy, much to his chagrin.

"You're right we didn't, but if we're ever going to work with them again then we have to at least take the first step," Wesley said back with an unsure scowl on his face as he took in the task that lay in front of the two lovers.  Seeking to change his image from what the rest of Angel Investigations thought of him as Wesley had shaved his beard and gotten just enough sleep to rid himself of the bags that had formed under his eyes.  He had originally intended to wear something much the same as he had in his earlier visits to A.I.  But like many other women Faith had forced her own sense of style onto Wesley and so he wore clothing much the same to Faith's.  All in all they made quite the fetching pair. 

"You think they'll want to work with us, back at the party Angel seemed like he'd probably be okay with it, but the others…well…I think that they're going to take some more convincing," Faith exclaimed sadly as she shrugged her shoulders and was glad for the knife that she had tucked in under her pant leg.  At first Wesley had been hell-bent against her taking any kind of weapon into the Hyperion with them, but after some time spent explaining he had reluctantly allowed Faith to take it in with her.  It wasn't that she expected to have to use the small knife but she just felt better that she had a weapon with her.

"Well Gunn's bark is far worse than his bite, he'll come around once we get Fred on our side, no matter how angry he is he's clay in her hands," Wesley said back almost with a laugh as he laid a reassuring hand on Faith's, who was suddenly smirking, shoulder.

"There's a lot of that going around," Faith said with a happy smirk before she continued, "But what about Angel's kid…and Lorne, he'll probably want me to sing some stupid song so that he can read me…."

"It's what he does best Faith, being an empathy demon and all, but Connor shouldn't be to hard to get along with, once we talk to Cordelia and get across to her that neither one of us has gone over to the dark side the only thing that we'll need to seal the deal is some time," Wesley said desperately trying to not let Faith's oddball sense of humor overwhelm him, although it was getting increasingly difficult to do so.

"I hope you're right Wes…oh well, guess we can't stay out here forever can we, time to get the hard part over with," Faith mumbled with a great deal of anxiety as she looked up at Wesley, who nodded his head in silent agreement, before she slipped her hand into his and the two walked into the Hyperion.

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When Wesley and Faith walked into the Hyperion Connor had been busy helping Angel clean a great deal of slime off of a couple of axes.  It had been the chance that Angel had been waiting for and he took full advantage of it, getting in just about the longest conversation that he had ever had with his son before being interrupted.  Cordelia was asleep upstairs in her room with Lorne nearby playing nursemaid while Fred and Gunn were tirelessly going over the new building plans. Like many other visitors, and friends, that walked through the front doors of the old hotel Wesley and Faith had to announce their presence.  Faith was about to yell out something when Wesley restrained her with a hand on her arm.  To announce their presence he instead decided to loudly clear his throat.  Angel was the first to look up.

"Wes…Faith," Angel almost stammered out, nearly tripping over the words in his shock to see the pair standing on the entryways top step looking slightly scared. 

"You two finally decided to stop having sex long enough to talk," Gunn stated bluntly with a serious scowl on his face as he looked up from where he was looking over the plans with Fred.

"It's nice to see you to Gunn…and how are you," Wesley said softly as beside him Faith was trying her best to keep from rushing over to Gunn and finishing what she had started three weeks earlier.  Without asking Wesley and Faith walked down the few steps in the entryway and soon stood close to Angel and Connor.

"Everything okay, I called a few times…," Angel said with a nervous look on his face as he tried to keep the situation as calm as he could, not wanting to start a brawl between former and hopefully future friends.

"Yeah we know…sorry about that Angel, but Wes and I had…other things on our minds," Faith chipped in with an embarrassed smile on her face as she jammed her hands into her pockets and stared at the floor. 

"But no nothing's wrong, we just thought that it was time that we all sat down and talked, it's obvious that there's a lot to talk about and work through," Wesley said with a serious look on his face as Angel stood up and was soon almost face to face with Wesley.  Had this meeting taken place a few months earlier Wesley would most likely have ended up dead.  But after a few tense moments of intently studying the looks on both Wesley and Faith's faces, not to mention the look in their eyes, Angel surprised everyone and smiled widely as he shook Wesley's hand warmly before patting him on the back and turning to do the same to Faith.  Sitting down and still cleaning the weapons Connor was shocked by Angel's actions but he knew enough to know that if Angel accepted the two then so should he.  The only one that didn't seem happy with the outcome was Gunn, but Fred quickly grabbed his hand and squeezed hard, letting him know to drop his opposition for the moment.

"I'd offer you a place to sit down…but as you can see there really aren't any," Angel said politely, trying his best to sound like a well to do host that was greeting guests. 

"That's fine, we really just came to explain some things…so you don't hate us anymore," Faith said softly as she picked her head up and looked only at Angel.  The look of shock on Angel's face told Faith all that she needed to know, even if the majority of those in the old hotel would never forgive them Angel already had.

"What…hate you…we don't hate you, a little upset maybe, but not hate," Angel said with a worried look on his face before Connor broke in with a very straightforward question that got to the heart of the matter. 

"Why were you two wearing those uniforms at the party," Connor asked with an almost emotionless look on his face as he finished cleaning one weapon and picked the next one to start cleaning it. 

"Since none of us is going anywhere I'll tell you the whole story…but feel free to stop me and ask questions if there's something that you don't understand, but remember Faith and I do reserve the right to refuse to answer any question that we deem to invasive," Wesley said with an almost scared look on his face, but the tone of his voice was glad, glad to be finally getting all of it off of his shoulders and out into the open.  During the next three hours the discussion went off peacefully enough, with Faith interjecting facts when needed and mostly Gunn and Angel asking the questions.  When it was all over Angel had heard enough and knew the true reason that Faith and Wesley had come.  Gunn seemed to be ready for the pair to leave but beside him Fred seemed to be barely able to restrain her enthusiasm as she had come to the same conclusion as Angel, that Wesley and Faith had truly come to the Hyperion to talk about adding their services to that of Angel Investigations.  For the most part Connor didn't seem to fully grasp what was going on, but he could see Angel's growing level of excitement that he managed a slightly hearty smile and chose to say nothing.

"So that means that you were never with the mercenaries…right," Fred managed to mumble out with a combined scared but excited look on her face as she stepped around to the front of the counter, completely ignoring Gunn's warning glances.

"Exactly…the only reason that we were even wearing those clothes was so that we could get around the Hyperion without getting hassled," Faith said, sounding almost chipper, with a small pretend look of disgust on her face as she ran a hand nervously through her ponytail. 

"Although our luck didn't hold out very long," Wesley said with a slightly uncomfortable grimace on his face as he reached up and rubbed a spot on his shoulder that was still sore from their fight with the Fyarl demon.

"But why didn't you come to us initially…things would have gone a lot smoother if we had known that Wolfram and Hart was intending to crash the party," Angel exclaimed with a concerned scowl on his face as he inspected the blade of the sword that he was holding.

"We thought about it…but at the time we found out about the attack Wes wasn't exactly welcome here and me…well…I didn't have a clue how you'd react to me," Faith said with an almost tentative look on her face, one that Angel wasn't sure if he had ever seen on her face.

"Well it doesn't matter now does it, we won the battle with Wolfram and Hart…and even added a slayer to our ranks…all in all I think we came out ahead," Connor said finally with a slightly unsure tone to his voice that quickly changed to an almost excited one as he nodded Faith's way. 

"I don't know…how…," Gunn started to say with a very concerned scowl on his face as he began to walk around the counter to stand beside Fred, who looked scared.

"I agree with Connor, now that Wesley's back…along with Faith, Angel Investigations can finally get back to normal…or at least what passes for normal around here," Angel said quickly with a hopeful look on his face as he stood up and walked over to Wesley, holding a tentative hand out as he went.  With a little bit of trepidation Wesley reached his own hand out and was soon shaking hands with Angel, much to Faith and Fred's delight, but Gunn's chagrin.  Still seated Connor looked on with a slightly confused scowl on his face before he was suddenly filled with a surge of confidence that everything would finally be alright.  When Angel stopped shaking hands with Wesley and turned to Faith Wesley was ready to catch his breath, but his quiet moment was cut short when Fred ran up and threw her arms around him, giving him the first hug that he'd had in a long time, that wasn't from Faith.  Reluctantly Gunn nodded his head in welcome, a gesture that Wesley tried his best to return while still in Fred's embrace. 

"So now what…we all sit around a fire and sing a happy song," Faith added with a confused look of joyous restraint on her face as she edged closer to Wesley, hoping to keep him in between herself and anyone else. 

"Well…we got the renovations under control so we're fine there…Cordelia just needs some peace and quiet…so you can't help there…guess we got nothing on the schedule that I can see," Gunn said with a very serious scowl on his face as he turned back and picked up the clipboard that held a portion of the renovation plans.

"You're forgetting something Gunn…you're forgetting Lindsey…or whatever that thing was that mocked us the other night, he looked like he was back," Angel stated very dryly in his usual way that told everyone in the room that there was more to the situation than met the eye.

"And looking to cause some trouble…with a capital t," Fred interjected sheepishly with a careful smile on her face as she backed away from Wesley and Faith and moved closer to Gunn. 

"Exactly, so what we need to do first is to find out where Lindsey has been in the past few months and see what the word is on the street, see if any of our old contacts have heard anything about a new player in town," Wesley said with an authoritative air about him as beside him, against her better judgment, Faith was beaming with pride towards the man that she loved. 

"See that…been here all of a few hours and English is already barking out orders…well hate to break it to ya Wes…but you're not in charge here anymore…Angel is," Gunn said with an undeniable hint of anger and resentment in his voice that he tried to hide but everyone in the room picked up on it, most of all Faith. 

"What's that supposed to mean Gunn…you want me to finish what I started after the party…," Faith exclaimed with an angry scowl on her face as she stepped in front of Wesley and began to roll up her sleeves, looking ready for a fight.  Sensing the calamity that could take place Angel quickly jumped up and got in the middle.

"We're not going to do this…not here…not now…not ever, Fred you and Gunn hit the books and try to find out where Lindsey has been hiding these last few months, Wesley and Faith…for safety's sake I think that you two should hit the streets and look up our contacts," Angel said with a commanding and hopefully calming tone to his voice as he kept his body tense for any action that took place.    

"Fine…c'mon Wes lets hit the road, I'm feeling all pent up, I need to kill something…and I'm thinking that it'd be better if that something was undead rather than anyone here," Faith said with a frustrated scowl on her face as she grabbed Wesley's arm and slowly began to lead him back out of the Hyperion.  Wesley allowed her to lead him out of the hotel without much resistance, only stopping in the doorway to nod his head in agreement towards Angel once before disappearing out the doorway.

"You sure we can trust them," Gunn asked with a hesitant frown on his face as he hadn't moved from the spot that he had been occupying for the past few minutes.

"We don't have a choice Gunn…we have to," Angel said through a large sigh before Connor looked up at him with a confused and slightly hurt look on his face.

"What should you and I do…sit around and…," Connor asked solemnly, all without ever looking Angel in the eye. 

"Actually Connor, we're going to check on Cordelia and then hit the streets ourselves, I have a few…special…contacts that Faith and Wesley don't know about, besides…it'll give us a chance to talk," Angel said with a hopeful smirk on his face as he saw Connor's face brighten up at the mention that he actually got to do something.  Before long Fred was on the computer searching through every database that she could think of that would aid them in their investigation about Lindsey's whereabouts while Gunn was squinting his way through telephone and travel records.  At the same time Angel and Connor were strolling into a demon bar, without a hint of fear on them.  For their part Faith and Wesley had gotten in contact with a few clients before they put the back seats in Wesley's SUV down and got lost in each other's arms for they cared not how long.

END OF EPILOGUE