Author note: Man, when I posted the last chapter, I somehow cut out a line in the first part. When Faith said that Spike went up with Sunnydale, Spike should have replied, "I got better. He won't. Just do it." So that Faith would stab Wes with the knife. I didn't want to try and replace the chapter just yet. The one time I did that, I somehow deleted a chapter (another fic). This is the last chapter, boo hoo. Please read and review.
Chapter Twelve – End of the Line
The church was cold and damp, seeping into her bones. She'd never be warm again. It had been raining nonstop since Faith had arrived in England. Accompanying her was Wesley's body. She had been the one to arrange for its transport to England. Giles had helped her with it all, and had also helped with the funeral. She had no idea whatsoever what religion Wesley was, much less how things were handled for funerals. It wasn't something she had ever bothered with in her life. Even when her mother had died, a distant cousin had handled everything. Now it was her responsibility.
Clutching the edges of her raincoat, she sat in the pew of the church for some time, even after most of the attendees had left. She had counted maybe twenty people at most. There were familiar faces, Buffy, Xander, Willow, Kennedy, Giles and a few other slayers, ones that hadn't known Wesley, but had paid their respects to him. She had left Arianna with Giles's wife Claire. That was for the best. She didn't want anyone else knowing, or even connecting the dots. Arianna was hers now and no one else.
Finally rising, she slowly made her way to the back, to see if Giles was still around. As she pushed the doors open, she saw the rain had lightened somewhat. Giles was standing in the rain, no umbrella, talking with an older man. The older man was pointing to Giles with a look of anger and disgust. She knew that Giles could handle just about anyone, but today she didn't want anyone troubling him. He had been such a great help, even though she had run away from her responsibilities yet again. There wasn't any harsh words from him, no punishment for not doing her job. He just hugged her tightly, grateful that she was well. He had hugged Arianna even tighter, elicited a squeal from her daughter.
Giles had taken to her daughter like a proud grandpa. She wouldn't tell him that he'd make a wonderful father someday, because he would probably snarl back at her.
Xander had almost cried when he arrived from his latest trip to find new slayers. He was happy to see her, but didn't hug her like Giles did. He just stood and looked at her for the longest time, like he didn't know whether he should be angry with her, or he should not let her out of his sight.
Buffy and Willow were grateful that she hadn't been injured while she was gone. They actually did care about her in their own way. Having the baby around made things go smoother. No one wanted to upset Arianna, so conversations were kept as civil as possible.
So they all kept her sane during the day. It was the nights that frightened her. Her dreams, which usually turned into nightmares, were populated with scary creatures that would turn into Angel or Spike or that blue chick. She would try to fight them off, only to be stopped by Wes. That she didn't understand. Until he would thrust his own sword into her stomach, stopping her himself, instead of the demon creatures she fought. So she fought him almost every night, making her awake in a cold sweat. Maybe once he was laid to rest, the nightmares would lessen.
She wanted to explain to Giles what had happened, but only got out a little of the story each day. Every time she started to discuss it with him, she had to stop. Eventually it wouldn't be so painful. It had to get better.
The old man standing beside Giles looked like he was blowing steam out of his ears now. He was starting to yell at Giles. She didn't want this day to end with violence. She hadn't remembered seeing this man in the church at all. Where had he come from?
It wasn't until the man raised his hand to hit Giles that she ran to help. But Giles was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, to ward off a blow from an old man. He held the man's arm away from him. Pushing him away, Giles straightened his coat.
Faith came up behind Giles, to see if he really did need that help. The old man looked her over, not saying a word back. His blue eyes bored a hole through her, like she had committed some offense against him. She had no clue what she could have done to the guy.
"Slayer," the man hissed as he looked straight at her.
"Giles. Need help?" she asked, not wanting to take the man's bait.
"I was just telling him to leave. He's not wanted here."
"You cannot take this away from me."
"I already have. It was done according to the papers that I received. He didn't want you to have any part in this."
Faith figured that the he Giles was referring to was Wes. Who could this guy be? Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. The blue eyes matched perfectly. And he knew she was a slayer.
"Go away," she growled, coming closer to the old man.
"You don't tell me what to do, girl. You ruined his life, and now you'll ruin his death?"
She was never so glad to have left Arianna with Claire. Luckily she had the forethought to not put a father's name on the birth certificate. If this were what Wesley's father was like, she would never want this man near her daughter, ever.
"Mr. Wyndam-Pryce," she spat out. "Stay away. No one wants you here, especially your son, may he rest in peace."
"He'll never have any peace, you slut. You brought him so low that he joined up with that vampire. And look where that led? Now he's dead."
Faith had to admit that she did have something to do with how Wesley was shaped. Hell, he had everything to do with how she eventually turned out. They were a matched set.
"He died doing the right thing."
"He died because of making the wrong choices, as he always did. He trusted the wrong people, worked with evil. He accomplished nothing in life. The only saving grace was his mother wasn't around to hear what a failure he had become."
"We all fail, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce. All of us. But you know what, when Wes did, he always picked himself back up, brushed himself off, and started all over again. You don't realize how many people he saved, how many times he helped save the world. He was a good man. Sorry you never noticed that about your own son."
"He was a waste of time. Never amounted to anything. He couldn't even handle a slayer."
"He was a good watcher. I'm still alive today because of him. You never knew him. Never wanted to know him. I'm sorry you never got the privilege. Ready to motor, Rupert?"
Faith wanted to dismiss this man as nothing. He would never be anything in her life, or Arianna's. She wished that she could punch his lights out, but that wouldn't solve anything. Might make her feel better, but it wouldn't help matters.
"It is already done, Roger. You have no control over how he wanted to be buried. Face the facts. Your son didn't want you involved. And Faith is right. He was a good man."
Faith didn't want Wes's father see her emotions regarding his son. She'd hold it all in until she went back to Giles's place, then fall apart.
"I will fight this. You'll see."
Faith stepped close to the man, smelling the fear that flowed off of him. He was a coward. Faith was so glad that Wes wasn't a coward, that he had gotten out from under the control of this thing that was supposed to be his father.
"Don't," was the only word that came out of her mouth.
She wanted to rant and rave about what a bad father he was, but she didn't know the whole story. Only bits and pieces. She doubted that he could do anything now. Wes had been smart to write down what he wanted done in case of his death. It was something Faith would have to think about too, now that she had such a big responsibility. This man would never learn of Arianna's parentage. He would never get a chance to be a grandfather.
"Don't threaten me, girl," he shot back.
"She's not threatening. I'm the one who is threatening you. You didn't deserve a son like him." Giles looked quite scary when he let the old Ripper show through.
Giles led her to the car, even opening her door for her. Getting in, he started the car and left with a flourish. Faith rubbed a hand through her wet hair, trying to dry it a little. The heat from the car didn't warm her one bit. She just wanted to go back to bed and never get up.
"You shouldn't have confronted him," Giles started.
"I had to," Faith answered.
"Now are you going to tell me?"
"No," she whispered as her hands started to shake.
Well, the breakdown that she had contemplated doing after she got back to Giles's place didn't want to wait. She tried holding it all in by putting a hand over her mouth, thinking it would distract her mind from not going there.
"Faith, are you alright?" Giles asked.
"Pull over. I can't breathe," Faith panted out, trying to take a breath but was not able.
Giles slammed on his brakes, pulling over to the side. He wrenched her seatbelt off, taking her head in his hands.
"Faith, look at me. You have to breathe. You're just hyperventilating. Just calm down."
"I can't," she answered, still out of breath.
"Yes, you can."
"I can't," she cried.
Looking into Giles's kind eyes, her breathing slowed somewhat until she felt like she wasn't drowning. She took one big gulp and burst out crying. Not many people had ever seen her fall apart like this. Only Angel and Wes had before.
"Oh, sweetheart," he whispered as he gathered her in his arms to let her cry on his shoulder.
Faith wailed and sobbed for quite some time before she was able to raise her head from his drenched shoulder. She hadn't realized how tight she had been holding him until she saw him sigh in relief.
"Sorry," she choked out.
"I'm glad you were finally able to get that all out. We thought you would explode."
So the others had seen too how tightly coiled her emotions were. Dumb friends.
"I didn't mean to fall apart like that," she sniffled.
"You needed to, Faith. I'm glad I was here to help."
"I have to tell you. I have to tell you what happened. Someone has to know."
"We'll talk about it when we get back. The rest will be wondering what kept us."
"I can't tell them," Faith cried out.
She thought they would think less of her, not that they didn't already. She had let these people down way too much in her life.
"You can start with me. It'll come, in time."
"Please protect Arianna from him," Faith blurted out.
She would protect her daughter as much as she could from Wes's father. But someone else needed to know the whole story.
"Excuse me," Giles asked.
"He's, Arianna, I don't know how to explain all of this to you."
Giles looked perplexed for a moment, and then caught on to what Faith was trying to tell him.
"Oh, dear," he softly said. "No one knows."
"No one. I take that back. Angel, Spike and Illyria know."
"Now I understand it all. I've been such a . . . ," Giles admonished himself.
"A dumbass. No, that's me for running away from you all."
"You were scared. Now that all the pieces are fitting together, it was probably a good plan."
"Not like I intended it to be."
"I am sorry."
"Yeah. I know."
Giles gave her a quick peck on the forehead, brushing her unruly, damp hair off of her face. "I'm glad you came to me."
"So am I. Thanks for all the helping stuff."
"My pleasure. Faith?" Giles took her by the shoulders, like what he had to say next would mean the world to her. "I'll do whatever it takes to protect Arianna from him. Do you understand me?"
Faith just nodded, not wanting to start crying again. Giles really did care about what happened to her and to Arianna.
"You are a good mother. Just remember that. And a good woman."
If what Giles was saying was true, then why did she want to throw up, run away from the mess and hit something all at the same time.
"Thanks, G man."
"Xander. Maybe we should keep Arianna very far from him."
Faith chuckled a little. "Can she call you Grandpa?"
"Absolutely not. Uncle Rupert will do. I can't be a grandfather before I'm a real father. Now can I?"
"Well, you better get on it. Buffy'll be havin' 'em before you do."
"Not likely. Let's go home and tell Arianna that I'm her new uncle."
"Sounds like a plan."
Faith rested her head against the cool glass of the car window, watching the beautiful greenery pass her by. Would her life be perfect? No. Definitely not. Did she have friends that cared about her? Yeah, that was true. Did she miss Wesley fiercely? Yeah, she always would. But he had given her something that had changed her life. And she would always love him for that. He never got to know how much she loved him. She'd tell her daughter that someday, not lying to her that it had been rough between them. He was a good man. And Arianna would grow up learning that every day.
"Well, here we are," Faith said as they pulled up in front of Wolfram and Hart. "You wanna bolt? We could run away together. Bonnie and Clyde. Roam the countryside doing our damnedest to forget that places like this exist."
"That was a mouthful, especially coming from you, Faith."
They were back in Los Angeles. Faith hadn't been there since she took Angelus down for the count. It really didn't feel all that good to be back.
"And Bonnie and Clyde went out in a hail of bullets. Not how I see myself dying."
"Hey, slayer here. Expiration date printed on my ass, so to speak."
"I don't believe that is true. You're cunning, you're fast, you're . . . ," Wesley started.
"Damn sexy. I look really good in that dress you bought me, by the way. Just make sure the rest of my stuff gets back to me."
"Why would you want it back?"
"Hey, man, the boots are worth the cost of shipping. It took me a year to get them broken in. And I want to frame that freakin' yellow dress."
Wesley laughed at her little joke. "It was quite lovely."
Faith punched him in the arm, making him wince a little. She hadn't really touched him since the morning, right before they left the hotel room. She had tackled him, stripping him below the waist and had her way with him before breakfast. Now all she wanted to do was take his hand and run away. But he had obligations. People that depended on him. Just like she did back in Cleveland.
"Fucking disaster, if you ask me."
"Yeah, yeah. I need to haul ass if I'm gonna make it on time. It's not far though."
Both climbed out of the beat up old truck that was parked right in front of the office building. Many of the people in suits looked over at them, but kept moving. It was after lunchtime and the sidewalk was filled with office workers shuffling to and fro. They looked like little worker bees in Faith's mind. She was so glad that she punched things for a living.
Wesley gently touched her face with the back of his hand.
"You should go," he announced.
"Yeah. No goodbyes though. I know how much you hate all that hugging and stuff."
Before she could react, he pulled her into his arms and placed his lips over hers. They stood there like that for some time, lips locked, arms tight around each other. Must have been making quite the scene for the onlookers, she thought. He finally came up for air, making her sway a littlefrom the lack of oxygen that was traveling to her brain at the moment.
"Thank you," he told her as he released her.
"For what? Oh, for that. My pleasure."
"Not just that."
Faith didn't exactly know what he was talking about, but she didn't press the issue.
"See you around?"
"You may visit anytime."
"Tell Angel and the others I said hi."
Faith started to back away from him, knowing that if she didn't leave right then, she might not leave at all. Something was tugging at her heart. But she knew that it would never work.
"Keep safe. Don't take no shit off of Angel, the asshole. Talk to Fred. Tell Gunn I'm gonna kick his ass if he gets too uppity."
She buried the comment about Fred. Something was going on between the two. She just hoped that she hadn't ruined whatever was happening.
Faith gathered up her bag and turned to leave. Somehow she knew she shouldn't. That she should just take his hand and not let him enter that building, like the place would swallow him whole. But he believed in what he was doing. She couldn't lead him away from that. He would regret it for the rest of his life.
He waved to her as she headed down the street to make her appointment in time. He didn't get to see the tears that she shed, saying goodbye in her mind as she crossed the street and lost sight of him standing beside the truck, arms crossed over his chest. It hurt too much to think about, so she took off at a run. She'd be back sometime, anytime when he needed cheering up. She'd count on him to be there when she needed a shoulder. Besides, they had a lifetime, right?
Wesley watched Faith hurry down the street. It was bittersweet irony that she left him and not the other way around. He was sorely tempted to go after her, to run with her back to Cleveland. He had made a grave mistake joining Wolfram and Hart with Angel. But he would see it through until the end.
He had come to care for the woman, that was true. He couldn't tell her that. She would always hold a special place in his heart. Faith was that special. They had been through so much together, most of which would have killed a normal human being. But she was strong. And he was stronger for having known her.
What he didn't do though was tell her his feelings for her. She would have stayed or demanded that he come with her. Faith needed to get on with her life, needed to get back to the thing that she did best. Wesley's career as watcher was over. He couldn't go back to that now. He had his life and she had to live hers. He would just drag her down, make her less than what she was.
If things were different, he could track her down and take her up on her offer. It would be a pleasure to be with her, if just to be her friend. They had lived together for a week and hadn't killed each other. That was a plus. He'd see her again sometime. That he was sure of.
Throwing the keys to the beat up pickup to a doorman to the office building, he opened up the big doors and walked inside. He was changed. His heart felt a bit lighter since the last time he had walked through these doors. It had been all Faith. She had helped him deal with the fact that he wasn't perfect, but that he was perfect just the way he was. And if Fred couldn't see the real him, then so be it. He had a job to do. Fight the good fight, and die trying.
Author thanks goes out to everyone that read this beast. I know, it's probably the saddest thing I have ever written. Thanks to Tariq, mandie, Illyria639, Wav, and tp96 for commenting on this chapter. And to all who have commented or who have just said hi, thanks so much for your support. It really does make a difference when someone says I like what you are doing. NC-17 version of chapter eleven is posted, if you want to read. Please e-mail me if you don't know the name of the other site.
Thanks to all who have reviewed any chapter. Tariq, mandie, Illyria639, Wav, tp96, Allen Pitt, pari106, shahid, lovesbitca, 12345, Steph, Ruth Quist (aka qkith), NAA76, psychotic chaos, and everyone else who read it. I hope you had fun!
Answers to questions:
Tariq—thanks for sticking with it.
Mandie—thanks for all the support and for your note about my cat.
Illyria639—I wanted Spike to be very sympathetic. Poor guy understands totally what she is going through.
Wav—Live Journal? I am so out of touch. Icons? Hmm. I'll check out the Live Journal thing and get back to you. I need to know how it works!
Tp96—Dressed up, dressed down.