Title: Guardians of Forever
Rating: It's gonna be R this time. I think I really played it too loose last time with all the swearing. Don't have to worry with the R.
Summary: The gang figures out that fighting themselves is harder than anything evil can throw at them.
Pairings: Wesley/Faith, and from there, your guess is as good as mine
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I can't make any money off of this, because it all belongs to someone else. He just lets me play with them for a while. I'll put them back when I'm done.
Notes: Sequel to "Guardian Angel" and "Guardians of the Gate". I know, lame title. But I always go with the ones that come to me first. Go figure. So if you wanna know what's happening, it might be a good idea to read the other two first, or you might be a little lost. Timeline wise, this story takes place approximately four months after "Not Fade Away", Angel season five. So if you haven't seen S5, there are spoilers.
Chapter One – Push Comes to Shove
"Take you fucking hands off me, dickwad."
Faith threw the beast over her shoulder and put herself into her fighting stance yet again. They were coming out of the woodwork. Well, since that's where they lived, they would come out of the woodwork. So stakes wouldn't work. The dagger in her hand flashed in the dim light of the warehouse. Another slash and the thing would be history.
"Duck," a voice yelled from behind.
Faith could almost feel the bullets whiz by her ear as she dropped to the floor. Damn watcher. Couldn't wait to fire those guns of his.
"Keep it in your pants," Faith retorted back to Wes, rolling to stand again.
Shit, her clothes would be ready for the garbage if they kept going like this. Turning, she saw her watcherman raise his pistols again, keeping his hands busy. And of course, just her luck, one of the creatures sneaked up behind him. He was too far away from her.
"Wes," she yelled, only she didn't have to.
The caped crusader had arrived at the best time. Angel took down Wesley's sneaky attacker. Swinging her arm around, Faith took care of her last demon as Angel snapped the neck on his.
"That was bracing," Angel said as he wiped his palms on his pants.
"Oh, yeah. Bracing my ass. You come in, snap one guy's neck and think you saved the day?"
Faith was pissed. Not at Angel necessarily, but definitely at herself. She let some low-life demon get to her watcher. That was totally not cool. She screwed up royally.
"Yes, what she's trying to say Angel is thank you for your help," Wesley chimed in.
Wesley glared at her for her rudeness. No one could mistake how he cocked those damn eyebrows when he was the least bit perturbed at her. His now pissy mood would be her pissy mood. They fed off of each other like a wild pack of dogs, only neither one of them was the alpha dog.
"Yeah, thanks. You jackass," she mumbled.
Angel just sighed. Of course he heard her. Supernatural hearing was a blessing and a burden. Wesley only started to put away his weapons, ignoring her comment.
"What were you two doing?" Angel inquired.
"Huh? Uh, our jobs. Remember. Slayer," Faith said as she pointed to herself. "Watcher," she added as she pointed to Wesley.
"Slayer," Angel pointed back at her. "Dead. Watcher," he now pointed at Wesley. "Even deader. No backup."
"I don't need backup," Faith countered.
"Oh yeah. Not when there's, say twenty of these things to take down. And I don't think that Wesley brought enough bullets."
Faith heard a little intake of breath from Wesley, but nothing else. He wasn't taking the bait, so why should she?
"No guns, Angel. Don't need them."
Angel just smirked as he started to walk towards her. He slammed his large hand down onto her injured shoulder, pushing in to make his point. He left as he always did, in a flourish, with that damn duster flapping around him like there was some wind in the place.
"Faith," Wesley went on. "We need to tend to your shoulder."
"I know. Can I just stake him now? Pretty please?"
Wesley chuckled a little. "Make it fast before Buffy gets back from Rome."
"Oh, yeah, like she'd care. She's sworn off men, like forever."
"Or at least until the weekend."
"Hey, I can't even go that long," Faith added, seeing Wesley pale a little.
Strolling over, she placed her hand in his.
"Faith, I . . . ," he started.
"No. Time. I agreed. And I suffer the consequences."
Wesley groaned back a response. "This is not what I had intended when I said that I needed time. It's not that I don't," he stammered out.
"Don't what? Want to throw me to the ground right here and have your way with me?"
The blue spark that formed in his eyes was unmistakable. Why did she have to put her foot into her mouth again? Probably because that's what she was good at, always. His hand came up to cup her cheek, thumb rubbing gently. If he didn't touch her soon, she'd explode into a million pieces. With the way he was looking at her right that moment, it wouldn't take much to do just that.
She closed her eyes to cherish the sensation that his callused hand was making on her face, traveling throughout her body. If he didn't stop, she would throw him on the ground and consequences be damned.
"Your shoulder?" he asked.
"Not my shoulder that needs tending, Wes."
He abruptly removed his hand. Damnitdamnitdamnit. Fuckfuckfuck. Opening her eyes, she could see the battle that he waged in his brain. She was number two, second best, not quite up to snuff, or whatever those sayings were. She just didn't cut it.
"We should go, then," he finally said after their staring match.
Before he could make it out of the building, she spoke up. She had to speak up, so he would at least know why her mood was so strange at the moment.
"You scared me," she said to his retreating back.
He stopped abruptly. "How so?" he asked without turning around.
"You were too far away. I couldn't back you up in time."
He turned to glare at her, yet again. "I can handle myself."
"The demon was aiming for your head," she admitted to him.
"Oh," was all that came out. His eyes went wide. "Oh, dear, that explains everything."
Words always went flying out of her head when she was trying to express how she felt about someone. Not that the man with the big brain over there was any better with the feelings crap. She wasn't a talker, she was a doer. Striding over to him, she grabbed his jacket and yanked him forward to slam up against her chest. She grunted in pain a little, but no pain, no gain.
The two of them just stood there, bodies crushed up against each other, and stared. Neither one made a move. Faith could feel the hard planes of his chest, the breathing patterns he had at the time (which hey, really fast because she was pressed up against his front really, really snug-like). When the kiss came, it wasn't unexpected. He just took too damn long to start it. She had wanted on several occasions to slam him up against the nearest wall and strip him naked. She almost did that to him the night that they said that they would try to have some kind of whatever, relationship or something. Only his distance now was killing her.
His lips were soft and warm against hers. Sliding them across hers, he deepened the kiss just slightly, making her gasp a little in response. How he could do this with just his lips amazed her. But she wanted more from him. And he couldn't give more until he gave up the ghost, literally. Trailing her hands up his arms and then his neck, she brought his head down further and dove in when he opened his mouth to protest. She had him panting and throbbing in no time flat. Of course, he pulled away at the last moment.
"Your shoulder," he said, making it come out as a statement instead of a question.
"Kind a wicked, isn't it?"
"Not the most attractive wound you've ever gotten."
"Yeah, I'll show you attractive," she said as her hand snaked around him to give his nice ass a firm squeeze.
"Faith, this isn't exactly the time or place for this kind of thing."
Faith linked her good arm around his and led him to the door. "You're all hot and horny, now aren't ya?"
Wussy Wesley would have fainted at her question. Her watcher Wesley just chuckled, flashing a smile her way.
"We cannot wait any longer."
"Well, who do you think you are, mister? You're not the boss around here," Willow threw back at Giles. "Oh, you are. But that doesn't mean anything. It's not like he's doing anything wrong."
"No, but you have to remember Willow what you did right after promising everyone that you wouldn't touch magicks ever again."
Oh, right, Willow thought. Throw that back in her face. So she had a little addiction going on at the time. She'd gotten through it. Only to face Tara dying and overwhelming grief pouring out her veins, making her magicks turn dark and ugly.
"I know. But no one's died. And what makes you think that he'll be anything like me?"
Giles sighed at her. Did he know best? He didn't go through all the horrors she went through. Holding it together for everyone, including herself, was almost insurmountable after her soiree into the dark side.
Giles got up to move around his desk to her side. Sitting down directly in front of her, he took her hands in his. The spark that passed between them was unmistakable.
"You feel it. Don't you?" he asked her.
How could she not feel it? It was like something got under her fingernails and she couldn't get it out. Yeah, she could feel it. Like one feels when they're at a train station and the train's coming in way fast.
"Yes, you know that I do." You jerk, she wanted to add.
"Now you understand my urgency."
"Oh, bloody hell. What is it with you? Xander and now Giles?"
Willow rolled her eyes. Spike could keep his cotton-pickin' comments to himself. She didn't know why he cared. He wasn't her mother. Giles quickly pulled his hands away from hers. Somehow she felt a little bit colder after he did. His presence always did ground her.
"Haven't you heard of knocking, Spike?"
"Don't need to. Bein' undead and all, I can go anywhere I want."
Willow watched as Giles stared the vampire down. She just hoped he didn't have a stake in his back pocket. She surely didn't carry any weapons of any kind.
"No you can't," Willow reminded him.
"Prove it, little one."
She hated it when he called her that. He had taken to calling her that lately. "Sun's really bright out this morning," she added.
"You know, this one's a smart one," Spike said as he pointed to Willow. "But when has that stopped me."
"Spike, what do you want?" Giles got to the point, wanting Spike to leave as quickly as possible.
"Trained with the little nibblets, like you asked. Wondered if I could get an advance on that paycheck you owe me."
Willow heard Giles snort. He never snorts. He really must have thought Spike was funny. Then she heard a laugh. He rarely laughed.
"You must be joking. You have a place to stay and all the blood you need."
"Man has needs, you know. Can't just live on blood and well, blood alone."
"Give me a shopping list, Spike. I'll pick up something for you on the way back from my meeting," Willow offered.
"Outta Weetabix. And there are these biscuits that go really well with the afternoon blood. Kind of gives it a little sweetness that tastes just so."
"I'm gonna barf. No more descriptions. Just a list," Willow declared as she handed Spike a piece of paper and pen.
"Thanks, pet. I really appreciate it."
Spike just stood there in the doorway after he gave Willow the list of things that he needed. She didn't recognize half of what was on the list. Must be an English thing. She just hoped she could find this stuff at the closest market.
"Spike?" Giles started.
"Oh, right then. Council business and all. I'll just go," Spike said as he backed out of the room.
Willow turned to Giles and smiled. "He's bored," she mouthed back to the older man.
"I don't really care," Giles mouthed back.
But did Willow care? Of course she did. Spike was her friend, most of the time. He'd done some incredible things, such as sacrifice himself so the rest of them could live. And he still got on Giles' nerves. That had to be bonus points for him in her book.
"You missed," Wesley explained to Faith as they trained.
"Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? If I hit you too hard, you might break or something."
Faith being a whiny brat was not making their training session go all that well. He just wanted her to do what he told her to do and that was it. But she never listened. Why did he even try?
"I promise you, Faith. I will not break. Now hit me. Like I showed you."
Faith took the swing properly, but didn't put enough power behind it to his satisfaction. He hung his head down and sighed. When would she ever learn?
"Now, perform the maneuver again," he growled.
"You don't have to be a fucking prick about it. OK, OK, I'll do it. If you end up in the hospital, it will be your fault. Not mine. I warned you."
Every time he gave her instruction, it ended up this way. Faith held back until he became angry with her, then she let all lose and put bruises on him. Grinning and bearing became his motto. He didn't want her to think that he was going soft on her. Circling him, she tried taking pot shots at him, tried figuring out where she could take an opening. He had to concentrate just to keep up with how fast she moved sometimes. Becoming distracted around Faith wasn't a good idea.
When the throw came, he hadn't expected it. He had expected her to do the maneuver the way he taught her, not to be flat on his back, pinned to the hard ground.
"Fooled ya. Sneak attack," she said from above him.
Her hips squeezed in on his chest until he almost couldn't breathe. Those slayer muscles hard at work, he concluded. But he still liked to breathe. She lowered her face to his, taking some of the pressure away that had held him down.
"Faith, we are not playing games. We are training."
"Trained enough. I'm done. And you're apparently not," she said as she glanced down his body.
Now what on earth did she believe would happen? Intimately pressed up against her, how could he not become excited. Maybe he could use her lax attitude to his advantage. He quickly flipped her over onto her back, getting a grunt out of her for his efforts. And he didn't hold back one bit. Grabbing a hold of her arms, he pinned her to the ground, exactly like a vampire would to reach her neck easily. Only she decided to wrap her legs around his waist, tight.
"You gave me the advantage. What do you think would happen if you did that out in the field?"
"If it was with you, I'd say we were gonna get lucky. If it was a vampire, he'd be dust by now."
Her eyes twinkled darkly at him, a little smirk playing on her lips. They really did need to work through this, whatever they were doing. He hadn't wanted to rush into anything, but she kept right along trying to pull him deeper into her spinning web.
"Wesley," she panted out.
"Hate it when you just stare at me that way. Make up you freakin' mind," she said with a little bit of anger in her voice. "I am really, really getting tired of this, you know. If you don't scratch this itch of mine, maybe I'll just go somewhere else."
She wouldn't dare, he thought. Oh, yes indeed she would, he concluded as he looked into her eyes. Did he want her to be happy? Happiness had been so fleeting for him in the last couple of years. Slowly he let go of her hands to get up from the floor.
"That's not what I meant. I mean, I'd never do that. Wes, wait," she begged him.
But he climbed to his feet and started to leave. Grabbing his duffel, he made his way to the door. Faith blocked it with her body, obviously not done with the conversation at hand. She had made it crystal clear what she wanted from him. And he wasn't ready to accommodate her.
"I'm leaving," he told her as he got to the door.
"You can't stop me. Get out of the way."
"You are gonna talk to me if I have to beat it out of you."
Her anger was bubbling up, he could tell. But he just wanted to get out of there before either one of them did something they would regret.
"Get out of the way," he barked out at her.
"This is not gonna end here."
When he tried to move her physically out of the way, she ended up using the new technique he had shown her to subdue a demon with her hand. He went flying across the room and landed with a thud. Seeing stars, he lay on the cool floor for a moment to gather his bearings. Maybe she had been correct in assessing the situation. Getting knocked across the room was not a good idea. On the contrary, it was a bloody bad one.
"You stupid watcher jerk," she screamed as she ran over to see if he was all right. "Now you see," she managed to choke out. "I don't wanna hurt you."
Was she crying? Oh, no, he had made Faith cry. That wasn't his intention. But as he arose from the floor to comfort her, to tell her that it was completely his fault, she stalked over to him, planted a hard kiss on his lips, then kicked him in the shin, none too gently. As she marched over to the other side of the room to retrieve her belongings, he watched as her rounded hips swayed as she moved away from him.
The kiss and the kick shut his brain down completely. He didn't have time to respond to any of it. That was her intention. To draw him so off sides so he would be speechless. Well, it had worked like a charm. Limping over to the door, he gathered up his duffel again, to leave her be until she could cool down.
Faith paced the room a couple of times, throwing her towel this way and that, trying to figure her dumbass of a watcher out. She had to go and open her big mouth about the nonexistence of sex. Thriving on it, she missed it something fierce. Not like she hadn't gone without for long periods of time. But with him tall and all dangerous looking, she couldn't take this much punishment of having him that close and not be able to touch the way she wanted.
It had been a while since he had even mentioned what happened in LA. So why couldn't he just get over it? Maybe because she wasn't good enough for him and he didn't know how to tell her. That had to be it. Then why did he stick around? Giles could give him any slayer that he wanted. Or he could research. Hell, he could be a member of the Council itself and would have more creds than the buffoons on it right now.
Wearing him down seemed to be working, but she didn't exactly want to go chasing after his coattails. Not her style. Which was exactly what she was doing. Must be why he was backing away. So she'd let him make the moves. She wouldn't make it easy on him, no. Let him decide. But it had to be fucking soon.
Grabbing her bag, she made her way over to the door. Only what she saw on the other side scared her.
"Hello, my dear slayer. Thought that I'd let you all get away with what you did?"
Faith thought, oh, fuck just before she went flying through the air. The window came up on her way too fast for her to think about defense. As she crashed through, she hoped that she wasn't that far up from the ground. Of course, she was and hit the ground with a resounding thump. Blackness enveloped her.
Wesley slammed into Angel as he came barreling around a corner. Angel wasn't being all lurky, he just wanted to speak with Wesley about the plans they were forming. The four of them couldn't stay at the Watchers' Council forever. They would have to either go back to Los Angeles, or form a new base of operations somewhere else. He opted for going back to LA. But he wouldn't speak for the others.
"Why do you always do that?"
"Sorry. I didn't see you, Wes. Where's, uh, Faith?" Angel replied, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
Wesley flashed his teeth at him and not in a good way. "Who?"
They had a fight, again. That seemed to be all they did lately. He just wished they would kiss and make up.
"If you need to talk, I'm here." There, he said it. He didn't want to be in anyone else's business, but the two of them were starting to get on his nerves.
"What is wrong with the woman? Can you please tell me?"
Angel had no earthly idea what he was talking about. Wesley had never been blind, maybe a little dense at times, with his head buried in those books of his. Angel could be accused of being dense too. He'd admit that to anyone. Well, everyone but Spike.
"Uh, can you tell me what happened?" He should have kept his mouth shut.
"She bloody well believes that she's right. Apparently, I can't see what's right in front of me."
Maybe he needed new glasses. Or contacts or something. Angel shook his head.
"Doesn't she trust me to do the right thing?" Wesley went on.
Uh oh, big can of worms there. Angel didn't remember a time when Wesley trusted himself. The man was surprised when anyone else trusted his judgment.
"What thing?" Angel asked.
"What thing? Haven't you been listening?"
The crash that came from up above was loud. It started to rain down small bits of glass. Angel couldn't investigate because the corridor would protect him, but the blazing sun outside would fry him to a crisp in moments.
"Oh dear God," Wesley called out as he headed towards the sound.
His scream of anguish cut right through Angel, but he couldn't go out there. Even though one of his best friends lay on the ground, possibly dying. Faith's leg lay at an odd angle and there was glass all around and embedded in her. Luckily several other people gathered around Wes to help.
Quickly, Angel ran up the stairs to see if he could tell what had happened. Entering the room where the big window was broken, he smelled the air for signs of anything familiar. Dark magicks snapped and popped all around him. And another, more familiar scent captured his attention.
Angel almost went into game face as he searched the floor and stairways to find the man. How he got into the place was a mystery. Giles wouldn't be pleased. Someone else had breached the security of the Council.
Spike called out to him as Angel rushed down the stairs to see if he could find out how Wesley was fairing with Faith.
"Hey, why is Faith flat on her back out there? Doesn't look very good, either. The two lovebirds didn't have it out, did they?"
"No, no fight. We need to track someone. The someone that just tossed Faith out that window."
Spike looked deadly serious for once. "Who?"
"Ethan Rayne. And don't kill him. You can break him a little, just don't kill him."
Angel pointed him in the opposite direction that he was headed. With any luck, one of them would be able to track the Chaos mage down so they could interrogate him.
"My, my, my. Two birds with one stone. Didn't really think that I'd be able to complete my task for the day. I'm lucky that way."
Willow's heart almost jumped out her throat from the voice directly behind her. Before he had time to move, she subdued him with her mind, thinking that if she even had tried to move a muscle, it would not have been a pleasant outcome for her. Her first strike caught him unaware.
"Not going to hold for long," Ethan grunted out.
Willow turned to face the man, bringing up her arm to point at him. Turning her hand around, she bound him even tighter in his magical bonds.
"Not very nice to sneak up on people. Why are you here?"
"You think that you have more power than me, little girl?"
She knew she had more power than he did. He pushed against her barriers, but they all held tight. Having power and knowing how to use it were two entirely different things. He should know that by now.
"Yep, I sure do. And I also know how to use it."
"You really think that you do," he shot back, pushing on her barriers even harder.
The last time Ethan had been in Sunnydale, he didn't have this much power. Where'd he get all this power? Or had he just learned how to harness his power better? Whatever the reasons were, he needed to be stopped once and for all.
Before Willow had the chance to do anything else to Ethan, Giles came around the corner, startling her and ruining her concentration.
"Ethan," Giles cursed.
Being startled, plus Giles being all growly messed it all up. Willow didn't go flying across the corridor to slam against the wall, Giles did. Enough to distract her from subduing Ethan once and for all. Ethan didn't stick around for his usual gloat. He scrammed so quickly, Willow didn't have time to do anything other than run over to Giles.
She could see blood streaming down the side of his head, having hit a sharp part of the wall somewhere. Thank goodness he was out like a light, Willow thought. He would not be pleased when she told him that Ethan had made a clean get away.
"Oh, crap," Cordelia yelled as she watched the screen.
That bastard Ethan Rayne was back to cause chaos, literally. She just wished she could put some kind of double whammy on him and send him to hell. What she wasn't expecting was to see Faith on the ground, looking like she fell five stories from a building. Well, she had. No dying on her part. Not her time.
"What are you watching?" Doyle came running at her shout.
"Faith. Seems she tangled with that Ethan guy and lost big time."
"Do we need to prepare?"
"No. Thank God. Could you see Faith as a guardian angel?" Doyle grinned a little, far off expression on his face. "Francis? Gutter?"
"Oh, oh. No, I was just thinking . . . ."
"Yeah, about how she would look in one of those robe thingies. Stop. Right now. Our problems have only begun."
"Wes man go dark yet?"
Cordelia had been trying for weeks to figure a way to help Wesley out of the dark magicks building inside of him. Even in their little dimension, there were ripples. It might have something to do with him once inhabiting this dimension, or it could have to do with someone like Ethan Rayne trying to tap into his power.
"No, not if I have any choice. Any word?"
Not that she wanted any word. She wanted not to have to take on any more "projects" like Lindsey. Why, oh, why did the PTBs think she was running a halfway house for wayward souls? Perhaps it was because she'd had so much success with Lindsey. But he had been conflicted in life. Made it much easier to sway him to the good side after death.
"Yeah. Not pleasant, let me tell ya."
"Whatever it is, let's just get it over with."
"Cheer up. We'll make the best of it."
Look for Doyle to see the bright side of this situation. But the woman needed a guardian angel. Dead people really do suck.
"Where else?" Doyle answered in turn.
The two walked out of the cottage arm in arm. They would meet this challenge head on. Nothing could stop her from getting this right. Unless the bitch wasn't willing. Oh well, hell was sure hot this time of year.
Virginal white? Cordelia almost burst out laughing. Who did she think she was? She wondered if the figure on the blanket before her was ever virginal. The mission was the mission. Help the helpless, or in her case, the freakin' obnoxious, totally annoying, ultimately almost evil woman on the blanket before her.
Cordelia heard a little snort escape from the person on the blanket. Figures. She thinks this is funny. She'll show the woman funny.
"Is this a joke?"
"Oh, God, I wish it was. I tried sending you back, because hey, evil. They think that I can reform you," Cordelia announced dryly.
"Well, you can't keep a good woman down, now can you?" Lilah arose from the ground, running her hands across her white dress. "What's your excuse?"
Author note: So, I've turned things on its head in this one. Yeah, Fred and Lindsey will be here shortly. So that's Angel, Wesley, Faith, Spike, Willow, Giles, Cordelia, Doyle, Fred, Lindsey, Lilah, maybe a little Xander. I'm not sure about Buffy right now. Remember, she's in boyfriend hell right now. My three new characters from the last fic will make appearances too, just to cause problems. And Ethan? You haven't seen the last of him. But is he the bad guy?