Author notes: Grr. I wanted to upload this yesterday, but I couldn't log on. Now I can. Please enjoy and review! I love the reviews I've gotten so far. You all are the best.
Chapter Eleven – Meet and Greet
"What do we do?" Faith asked.
Do what, Wesley wanted to know? They were driving to Sunnydale, most undoubtedly to face another apocalypse.
"When we get there? Buffy's not gonna be happy."
"Surely she will realize what an asset you could be."
"Yeah. Right. Just like she was ready to fry my ass back in LA the last time I saw her."
She did have a point. Buffy probably would not be very pleasant toward Faith. Nor would she be very pleasant with him. It could be a problem. Hopefully Giles would be there to ease the pain somewhat. Of course, maybe the Watcher would punch his lights out for all he had done, or not done, as the case was.
"We will take it as it comes. Don't worry. Or I should say, I'll make sure …."
He didn't know how to finish that sentence, because he didn't know how Faith would react to it all.
"You'll have my back. Just like you should. I'll have yours. Deal?"
That would satisfy him for the moment. With Faith there to watch out for him, matters could turn out better. Or could go desperately wrong.
"I think I could deal with that. You should let me do the talking though. Buffy could get angry."
Faith laughed a little, but didn't react any further. He had seen the look of violence in Buffy's eyes back in Angel's old apartment. He had seen that look of I will kill her dead if she so much as moves. Buffy then proceeded to help Faith get away from the Council. So she obviously had some kind of feelings for her fellow slayer. He just hoped that would be enough to avert the violence.
They settled into an uncomfortable silence until approaching Sunnydale. The sign that usually greeted visitors hung a little lopsided at the side of the road. That didn't bode well at all. As they drove through the outskirts of town, both noticed how deserted it was.
"Damn. Doesn't look good," Faith spoke up.
"We will find out soon enough."
Since they had been driving for a few days to reach their destination, all Wesley had wanted to do was find a corner to curl up and get some sleep. Now he was alert as ever. During the day, Sunnydale had always been teeming with life. As if the inhabitants knew they owned the daylight hours. Now, even during the daylight, there wasn't much movement to speak of. Occasionally a car passed them, but no one was outside gardening, outside doing chores, walking, interacting with their neighbors. Was Sunnydale truly deserted? Were they too late? Had everyone already abandoned the Hellmouth to evil?
As Wesley pulled up in front of the familiar house he had remembered from long ago, he shut off the engine and gripped the steering wheel.
"So? Here we are. This sucks so much, you know that. Just so you know," Faith started.
"Indeed I do."
Faith snorted back, like she thought that his comment was humorous. He really didn't see the humor of the situation one bit.
"Fuck. Well, we gonna sit out here and brood or go in and face the firing squad?"
The idea of the second option did appeal to him for a moment before he turned to Faith one last time.
"As much as I would enjoy that firing squad, we still need to face them. Are you ready?"
"Fuck no. Not ready at all. But you know what?"
The twinkle in Faith's eyes said it all. If he could forgive her, if he could find it in his heart to let her in, then what they thought of her didn't matter.
"What?" he whispered as he moved closer to her.
"Too bad we can't just do it right here. Might help me deal?"
Wesley chuckled as his head descended to hers, pulling her into a tight embrace as he covered his mouth with hers. The kiss was hot and desperate and totally Faith. She clung to him until he couldn't breathe. As soon as he raised his head, she pulled him back again.
"Oh my god," a squeal came from the front of the SUV. "This is so totally crazy."
The fog in his brain from Faith's kisses started to lift as he raised his head yet again to look and see a young girl standing directly in front of his vehicle. If he wasn't mistaken, it must be Buffy's younger sibling, the ever bothersome Dawn.
"Squirt," he heard Faith mumble as she let him go.
Slowly, they both unclicked their seatbelts and exited the car.
"Oh god, Buffy's gonna totally freak. You know that, don't you?"
"Sort of thought that would be the case. Dawn."
"Faith, break out of prison?"
Wesley had noticed that Dawn was no longer the awkward girl who was all legs. She had grown into a young woman. Her height must irk Buffy to no end, he thought, considering Dawn had grown quite tall.
"Dawn, still a bitch?" Faith growled back.
"Dawn, might we inquire to the whereabouts of your sister?" Wesley asked, trying to avert Dawn's attention.
"Huh? Oh, Buffy. She's around somewhere. Come on. This should be good."
The girl really wanted to see some kind of showdown between Faith and her sister.
"We're not here to fight, against you I mean. We are just here to help."
"Yeah, Wussley. I mean Wesley."
Wesley winced a little at the nickname, but didn't let it bother him much. He really didn't care what the people in Sunnydale thought of him.
"Dawnie. Now," Faith commanded.
Dawn led them up the pathway to the house. Faith grabbed his hand and squeezed tightly. If it was to reassure him or herself, he appreciated the gesture immensely.
"Welcome to Slayer Central. Wipe your feet. Get your earplugs out. Get ready for way too much squealage."
That didn't make much sense, but Dawn never did to him anyway.
As Wesley entered the Summers household, he noticed how much more cluttered it had become. He knew it couldn't be easy living in a house without an adult. Except Buffy was an adult now, just as Faith was.
"Must be out back training," Dawn said as she walked through the house.
As she opened the back door, Wesley stood in the doorway in shock. On the back lawn were girls. Lots and lots of girls. Training. Some were awkward, many had some of the moves down. Most looked to be untested in battle though. They were in for a rough ride.
"Potentials," he muttered out.
It was unbelievable. Never had he seen so many Potentials in one place, at one time. Usually a few trained at the Council. But there must have been at least two dozen on the back lawn.
"Yeah, potential pains in the ass, if you ask me. But no one asks me for my opinion," Dawn piped up.
Faith just stood with her mouth hanging open. "Baby slayers?" she asked.
"Yes, that is a good description of what Potentials are."
"Fuck, they'll be slaughtered."
"Just don't say that around them. Buffy thinks she can make an army," Dawn explained. "Come on and face the General."
Wesley didn't see Faith tense, but he could feel the waves of tension roll off of her. He was feeling the exact same thing.
"Giles?" he asked as they made their way to the front of the group.
"Researching. He'll be around soon."
Good, Wesley thought. He didn't want to be the only one with knowledge around here. Giles had a quick mind and superb researching abilities in addition to his fighting skills.
Faith fell into step directly behind and to his side, like she didn't want Buffy to see her first. He couldn't blame her one bit. It might take a small amount of the sting away from the first meeting.
"Hey, Buff. Brought you a surprise. You're not gonna believe it."
Great, he thought. Let Dawn introduce their arrival. Not exactly what he had wished.
"Did you get what I wanted?" he heard a strong voice over all the others.
"Nah. I have to go back later. Maybe I can take Spike with me."
Spike, Wesley concentrated. That couldn't be who he thought it was.
Wesley spied Buffy at the head of the group. She had changed significantly since the last time he had seen her. She was harder, edgier than he had last remembered her to be. She looked too world weary, too worn down by it all.
"OK, I'll bite," Buffy turned, finally answering to her sister's exclamation.
"Buffy," he said clearly.
At first Buffy didn't react to his presence, until he saw Faith standing behind him.
"What is she doing here?" Buffy growled.
He could see several of the Potentials tensing because of Buffy's tone of voice.
"We've come to help."
"Help? I don't need your kind of help. Wesley, is that really you?"
Surely she recognized him right away, but her attention was directed towards Faith. He hadn't taken the time to shave yet again and his hair was almost touching his collar. The last time she had seen him, the bruises and cuts on his face told a much different story.
"Certainly you have to understand that we are only here because of what has been happening. Otherwise, neither one of us would have graced your doorstep."
Buffy looked a little bewildered at his proclamation, until Faith whispered to him. "She never was too much with the big words, Wes."
Faith had literally pressed herself up against his backside, peeking out from behind him. He didn't think that Faith could be scared of anything. Or was she just trying to avoid a confrontation?
"As I said, we don't need your help."
"You will, if what I've seen today, out here, is any indication."
"What?" Buffy responded defensively. "What the fuck do you know?"
"I know that the Bringers will chew them up and spit them out. I know that they want to kill every one of the Potentials until there is no good left in the world to defeat them. And I also know that the First is trying to open the Hellmouth."
Buffy stood there, mouth opening and closing. The other girls started to chatter amongst themselves, all with looks of worry on their faces.
"What the fuck do you know?" one of them, a dark-haired girl that looked quite a bit like Faith, chimed in.
"If every one of you doesn't learn how to defend yourselves, you'll all die in a short amount of time."
"Damn. I told him not to point that out," Dawn said as she started to back away from the group.
Now all the Potentials looked angry at him, which was just what he wanted in the first place.
"What was this about letting you talk?" Faith asked as she ducked out from behind his back, getting into a fighting stance.
"I thought that I was doing splendidly."
"Yeah, so we can get our asses kicked."
Wesley turned and grinned at her. It was almost like they were telepathic with each other now.
"Do I have to say thanks later?" Faith asked.
Faith took two down before he could blink. The three that rushed him found themselves on the ground quickly, all tangled together. The two newcomers went through at least a dozen of the Potentials before Buffy stopped the fighting. Luckily, she hadn't entered the fight. He could tell just by looking at her that she probably was even better than she was when he was in Sunnydale, just looking in her eyes right then.
It was the cocking of a crossbow that threw him out of his revelry from having taken on a dozen potential slayers. His hand flew under his jacket, wrenching out his gun and pulling it, turning to thrust it into the intruder's face.
"No," Dawn screamed as he cocked his own weapon.
"Wesley," the man behind the ready crossbow finally said.
"Rupert," he replied calmly.
Faith had come to stand beside him, ready for anything else that was thrown at them or to take down Giles if need be.
"You're here," Giles responded.
"So it seems."
"Good. I thought that maybe you'd been killed also."
"Not unless you let go of that trigger. My slayer might not be so forgiving."
"I suppose not," Giles responded with a cocked eyebrow.
Wesley had his weapon stowed before Giles could blink. The look of surprise on the older Watcher's face was enough for him.
"Faith," Giles greeted her.
"Giles. What's shakin'?" she snarked back as she always did.
"Entirely too much, if you must ask."
"Giles, they took out half of the girls," Buffy came up beside Giles, wary of the two.
"I saw, which was why I was going to come to the rescue. The Potentials still need so much work."
Wesley shook his head slightly in agreement, not wanting to anger Buffy any more than he had.
"You've apparently encountered the Bringers."
"I have. We both have. I assumed that you needed our help."
Buffy's intake of breath meant she still didn't want their help.
"From a traitor and a murderer. Rather not have that kind of help," Buffy said as she made her way around the group to go into the house.
"Wesley?" he heard another familiar voice shout from the door to the house.
He thought that he would never hear that voice again. He had hoped that he would never hear it again. She was here, in Sunnydale. This could mean only one thing. Something had happened in LA for her to have joined up with Buffy and her group.
Damn, who's the skinny chick that has Wes' shorts all in a bunch, Faith thought? And she thought she was the only one who could make Wes feel uncomfortable. Well, that was only when he saw her the first time. Now it was all he could do to keep his hands off of her. At least they communicated in that way.
Except he was walking away from Faith, leaving her to her own devices, which meant facing all the others, as he approached the skinny chick he called Winifred.
"You're alive," the woman declared before she put her skinny arms all the way around him and enveloped him in a great, big hug.
Faith almost came out of her skin as she watched. That woman was touching Wes like she fucking knew him.
"Yes, I am, Fred."
"It's just with the Council blowing up and all the other stuff happening, we were worried. You just disappeared without a trace," Fred rambled.
Faith could see Wes' back go ramrod straight. His shoulders didn't hunch over in disappointment. They were tense as hell. Was it the Council being no more or her comments about his disappearing act that had him all freaked out?
He set the woman back from him and walked directly inside the house without looking back for her. Stupid bastard, she thought. What was their pact for anyhow? But she followed, if just to find out what the deal was.
The Winifred girl watched as Faith followed, her look of confusion visible. Let the woman look, but no more touching.
"Wes?" Faith called out as she entered the house.
He was leaning against the counter in the kitchen, back turned from her.
"Who the hell's this Winifred chick and what the fuck is wrong with you?"
She knew it came out too harsh, but what the fuck. She needed to know why he'd gone all Joe Stoic on her. His knuckles were white as he gripped the counter with his hands. Joe Stoic my ass. He was freaked beyond belief.
"Wes," she said as she put her hand on his shoulder.
"We should, um, figure out where we can stay for the duration," he got out.
Damn, she just wanted to spin him around and confront him, just get him to let it all out. But now wasn't the time, she realized. Giles had followed after her. They'd have to talk later.
"You obviously did not know about the Council, Wesley. I'm sorry for you hearing about it like this."
"Giles, we need a place to stay," Faith cut in.
"So you both intend to stay?" Giles said like he couldn't believe they would.
"Yeah. Looks like you might need some help," Faith replied for Wes.
"Excellent. But you can't stay here. There isn't any space left. I'm not sure where I could put you. Every available surface is taken at night."
"The garage. I assume you'll want us close?" Wes asked, slowly turning to face Giles.
"You cannot expect to be protected there," Giles answered Wes' question.
"I'll put wards up."
Giles' intake of breath said it all. He didn't believe that Wes could work some serious mojo.
"Don't concern yourself with our welfare," Wesley ground out.
"Wesley, I concern myself with everyone's welfare. You are not strong enough to accomplish that kind of magicks."
Oops, Faith thought. Wrong thing to say to the man with the loaded guns in his back waistband. She's sure he had another one on him somewhere. She'd have to frisk him some other time to find it. Might be fun. But now the expression on Wes' face wasn't fun. It was downright scary.
"Rupert, you don't know me. You never knew me or what I was capable of. Don't assume anything."
Wes brushed past the older man to walk to the front door.
"Giles, I know this is all fucked and that you guys don't want our help, but Wes feels that it's necessary. And if he says he can take care of the wards, believe me, he can take care of them."
"Faith, it was not my intention to make Wesley angry. I just want the two of you to be safe while you're here."
"We aren't safe just by what we are, Giles. A dozen Bringers tried to take us down. And here we are now."
Giles looked at her with a little admiration at her declaration.
"Faith, I know what happened to Wesley in Los Angeles."
"Yeah, kinda got that impression. Just know this Giles. Don't fuck with him. Because if you do, you won't like the consequences."
Faith walked out quickly before the older Watcher had a comeback. Wesley was standing beside the SUV, leaning up against it.
"So, you wanna tell me why you freaked in there?"
"The bastard's dead Faith. And I'm not sure if I feel sad or elated. Not exactly the thing one should feel about his own father."
Faith hadn't known that Wesley's father was with the Council. It explained a lot about the man, especially since most of those guys were the ultimate bastards in her book.
"Sorry, Wes. I didn't know your father or anything, but it's hard. I kind of felt both when my mom died. Relief mixed with a sense of freedom. Totally fucking messed with my head for a while. Luckily my first Watcher was there, to at least listen to me."
Wesley turned to her and gave her a little smile. "Well, we should be figuring out a place to stay. The garage sounds like a good plan. Do you mind?"
"Nah. We'll manage. Besides, I don't think the baby slayers would like to hear us moaning in the middle of the night, now would they?"
She just loved making Wes blush. He turned such a pretty shade of pink every time she did it.
"We should be discreet."
"Hey, weren't you the one who didn't give a fuck about what they think?"
Wes opened the door to move the SUV in the back. "Some of those girls are quite young and impressionable."
"Yeah, quite juicy too. Ripe for the picking. Damn, why is it that they pair some guy with a horny teenager and expect for something to not happen?"
"Because it's our duty. And not all of the Watchers were males, as you know."
As Wes pulled the SUV into the driveway and back to the garage, Faith scoped the place out. Giles showed them a small room off the garage that actually had running water, which was a plus. They could bed down in the room and put up the wards. The room was mostly bare, but they moved a small table inside with a rickety chair and put down sleeping bags on the floor. The one small light bulb reminded her a little of prison, but with Wes there, that thought was fleeting. And the biggest bonus was no baby slayers to watch or hear them.
"It's small," Wes pointed out.
"Big enough for the two of us."
"Thank you," Wes abruptly said.
Faith was a little perplexed by his words, because she didn't know what she had done right this time. She had done so many things wrong in her life, people rarely said thank you to her, ever.
"For what?" she hesitantly asked him.
"For not prying. For not trying to pull what happened out of me for the time being. It's complicated to say the least."
"Yeah, kind of figured that with your friend Fred here and all that stuff that happened back in LA that you'd need time to think."
"Yes. I do. It's not that I don't want to tell you," Wes told her as he placed his books on the table in an orderly fashion.
"I'm not exactly the easiest person to talk to," Faith added.
"On the contrary. You don't seem to judge. I appreciate that."
"Can't fuckin' judge when I've fucked up too many times to count."
"I've got to place the wards up now, before it gets dark. Are you sure about this? We could leave. Let them handle all this."
Like that would ever be a possibility. They were in it 'til the end. But he had given her the option. Now they were damned if they stayed and damned if they fled. Fuck, no one even asked her why she was out of prison. The group would have lots of questions for the two of them. She just didn't want the inquisition any time soon.
"Let them have all the fun? Nah. We stay. We fight. We fuckin' kick evil's ass. Then we can leave."
Faith watched as Wes' hand paused over the book he was reading. "We're in for a fight. You ready?"
"Hey, let's bring it on. I'm getting that itch that only slaying can scratch."
Wes found what he was looking for, so he left the book open and approached her slowly.
"I do believe that I have discovered other ways to deal with your itch."
"You wish," Faith kidded as Wes' hand came up to cup the side of her face. "We should clean up. I'm sure that they're waiting for some kind of explanation. Just don't shave. Makes you look all scruffy and fuckin' hot."
Wes blushed again. But he didn't take his hands off of her. "Maybe later?"
"Damn straight. I owe you for your little speech. Remember?"
"Vividly," Wes responded as he rubbed his shoulder a little.
"There are some things, you know, that we need to talk about. But it can wait."
Faith didn't want to get into any of it at the moment. She had issues and Wes had issues. They'd leave it at that. Wes warded the place as she threw the rest of their stuff into the corner.
"Ready?" Wes asked as he opened the door to their little hovel.
"Fuck yeah. Have my back?"
Author notes: I really didn't intend to take the fic this far. But the muse just was in the driver's seat. So this is total AU now. I've rewritten both season seven of Buffy and season four of Angel. Go figure. Hope you liked. Hope that it won't be so long to the next posting. Please stick with it.