Finding Faith

by Sweetprincipale

Between Season 3-4, a spinoff set in the Offers You Can't Refuse AU. (Please read that first.) A woman broken enough to believe she can't be saved. A man who knows he has nothing left to lose. Desperation, fear, and some hidden strengths throw these two together, stubbornly determined to show the world who they really are, who they can be- if they can just figure it out for themselves.

Author's Note: Well, it may be jumpy. It may not be the way you pictured it. I thank you for getting these two this far, I could have done it without you.

Dedicated to: Ginar369, Omslagspapper( Artistic Consultant), Sirius120, Lou, Illusera, AGriffinWriter, Skullmunkey, Sirius120, Sjwheelan, Naomi, Kitakana, This One Fool, Alkeni, Ironbear, and The-Darkness-Befalls.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.


Peace, Or Something Like It

The sun glimmered on calm summer waters and the quiet, somber town. A black, anonymous car roared through it, literally leaving trails of dust on an outskirts road.

"Where to?" Wesley asked. He drove, she hadn't slept much, if at all.

"How far can we get?"

Away from here. Away from things chasing us in any direction, haunting us. "Clear to the Pacific if you like. The northern part of course." Not to California. Not for a long time, if ever.

"I want to be there now. Like, today." She said restlessly. As long as we're still moving, it's like we're still on this mission, and let's face it, I wasn't supposed to have a mission, at all, ever. Heart of a hero, he says. Heart of a hero, my ass. "How far can we get today?"

"I - uh- I don't know, I suppose it depends on the direction. We could return to Florida?"

"Summer in Florida? Vacation capital of the kiddies and where old people go to die? I don't want to see- I don't want that right now."

"No. Quite. Well, if not west, south, or east-"

"Why not east?"

"Because we're on the coastline, Faith." Wesley said drily. "If we go east, we'll run into the sea."

"Oh. Yeah."

"There's north."

"What's north of Boston?" Because we sure as hell ain't stopping there."

"Maine, I think?" He frowned and concentrated. "Those little states, Vermont, New Hampshire. There's Canada but you can't cross the border..."

"Can you get to Maine without going through Massachusetts?"

"We're avoiding the whole state now?" Wesley looked slightly alarmed as he tried to calculate that route in his overtaxed brain. Her answering glare told him to shut up and deal. "Absolutely. Of course we are." He coughed uncomfortably as the heat from her eyes went from searing to simmer as she stared ahead. "I believe we'd go through New York. Not the city, the northern region, the lake district?"

Faith slowly looked over at him. "Why are you asking me like I know something?"

"I have no idea." Wesley admitted, blurting out a rare, uncensored, spontaneous comment.

There was a silence. Then a strange noise, almost like a raspberry, and it got louder, until it stopped being a splutter and turned into laughter. Full-fledged, rib holding laughter.

Faith wheezed as she languidly lay back, half reclined in the seat, looking at him. "Oh, God, Wes..."

Her mirth was contagious, those giggling brown eyes so irresistible. "I- I'm sorry." He tried not laugh.

"You know you've been thinkin' that for months."

"I'm the foreigner, you're the native, but you're no help at all." He exclaimed, giving in, chuckling.

"Shut up."


"I'll make you!"

"I'd freeze you."

"I'd beat you up when I unfroze."

"You wouldn't."

"No, I wouldn't."

"Because you like my rugged good looks."

The laughter turned into actual snorts and a near-helpless shriek. "Rugged?"

"I'm not rugged?" Wesley pretended to sound genuinely injured.

When she could finally breathe again she replied, "Nope. But you've got wicked good looks." Faith sighed and rubbed her aching abs, actually sore from laughing.

Wesley looked incredulous, but truly pleased. "I do?"

"If you like that stuff." She relaxed now, putting her hands back, behind her head, and one arm lazily reached across, brushed his ear.

Normally he would have let it go, fade out of the conversation. Or his natural shyness and manners would have banished the single coaxing word he wanted to utter. Not today. "And?"

"And... I do. Like that stuff." Her finger tips strayed to his shoulder, squeezed once, and fell to her side with a worn yawn. "I'm so frickin' beat, man."

"Sleep, then. I'll navigate."

"Wake me up when you wanna switch."

"Here." Faith abruptly decided.

"Switch again?" Wesley slurred as he jerked awake.

"No, stopping. Here."

"It is nearly dinner time, I suppose." Wesley sat up, settled his glasses on his nose and looked around.

Eastlynne Beach. Eastlynne Beach State Park. White and red striped awnings on small buildings, white and gold letterings on bigger ones, the overall impression of a town that was quietly busy. There were pines and sandy-looking sidewalks edging broad streets. The sun was slowly dropping, but it was still a well-lit view, with a warm, late sun sort of illumination.

"Not for dinner. For a week or whatever. A week off."

Wesley had trouble containing his cry of disbelief. "Oh." He said, in a carefully modulated tone.

"Don't bullshit me. I know it doesn't look like the kind of place I'd hang out." Because it isn't. I hate places like this. Always have, but I have reasons. "I don't want to be in a big city, I don't want Smalltown, USA, I don't want to go to a hotspot, or even a 'vacation spot' at all. I just picked this place because-" she stalled for a moment. I picked it because it was just big enough. Busy but friendly looking. Like people would be polite but nosy, busy but not in a rat race, nice enough to stop in for a vacation, without feeling like you were going to get trampled to death by tons of tourists. "Because I... saw a sign." Faith suddenly saw her front. "Right there." She pointed to the lettering on hand-painted sign dangling from a wrought iron hook outside some sort of office. " 'Vacation rentals. Weekly. One, two, and three bedrooms." Wesley didn't need to know she had been driving around this place for twenty minutes, feeling bad vibes slowly slipping away. The sign was just one more point in their favor.

"You're going to go stir-crazy." Wesley pointed out.

"Yeah. Probably. I don't know. I never had a week where I wasn't thinking about running to the next place, or figuring out what to do where I was." Faith admitted, about to put the car in drive. "I probably can't do that... that vacation thing. The sitting around and just- chilling."

Wesley looked around with waking eyes, more alert. "Well, you can tell it's a beach town. There's the lake for a day. Oh, and I see a 'bar and grille', that probably means you can still go out for a beer."

"They have shopping. For you, I mean." They exchanged a teasing smile as she pointed down the thoroughfare of storefronts.

"I do see an ice cream parlor." Wesley squinted down the row. "You could catch up on your sleep."

"So could you."

"That alone sounds idyllic."


"Yes, good. Ideal."

"Got it. Oh, and hey, every town's got movies or a bowling alley or-"

"I do not bowl. The shoes... unhygienic."

"You've had demon guts on your face, dude." Faith pointed out. "You can wear bowling shoes."

"I much prefer the movies." Wesley said. "We never did get to one in New York City."

"I don't know, Wes..." her playful voice caressed him. "You know me and theaters."

Ah yes. He remembered the tale of third base in front of the projector, casting some x-rated shadows, he imagined.

Dear Lord, what a wonderful thing to imagine. With a few minor changes... He blinked away the suddenly carnal image. This was about rest, not romance. "I'll buy the ticket and the popcorn. You won't have any reason to get kicked out this time."

"Really?" She raised one eyebrow and revved the engine. "No reason at all?"

Faith smirked when he blushed and pulled the car into the rental agency.

It was a two bedroom condo, attached to a string of sun bleached condos that were fairly identical. It had a somewhat obscured view of the lake, which was big enough to be their miniature ocean, still having some soft waves. The place came with all the early summer trappings, pale swimmers and sunners, people on picnics, boaters, cyclists, and people strolling along.

"What should we do first?" Wesley asked in his normal bright, chipper way after they carried in a few bags, nothing much compared to their usual "move-in day" routine. Hardly any books, hardly any weapons, this is what "vacation" looks like for us, I suppose.

"Whatever the hell we want." Faith grinned and plopped herself down on the small front stoop.

"I don't think I've ever had a proper, relaxing vacation before. Whenever I went with my parents, Father usually had a business motive, digging up some rare volume for the Council Library." Wesley joined her more neatly. "One always had to be polite and go to dinner with Mr. Rubinescu or Ms. Potapova, show off for Sir This and Lady That."

Faith looked at him. "I just never went anywhere. There was this program, right, in Boston? Where kids in the foster care get to go to a summer camp in the country?"

"Ah, yes I've heard of those sorts of outreaches."

"I don't like being 'outreached', and I don't like the country." She pulled her hair up for a moment, looking towards the lake. "Never got invited, either. Never 'qualified'. You have to stay out of trouble for more than three weeks at a time." She shrugged with sudden anger. "I don't need a fucking handout."

Ah, the tattoo must cover that immense chip she wears. Wesley patted her hand once. "You earned this. All the way. Now, let's go enjoy it. I will- for you - put on the filthy clown shoes and bowl."

"Dude, you are the best." She pulled him up by his hand and didn't let go, tugging him after her.

When she's happy, when she laughs... I just fall more in love. I thought maybe it was just the dangerous beauty, the mystery and complicated woman, the sensuality.

No. Wesley smiled and allowed himself to be led. It's her. All of her.

Apparently "bowling", in Faith's mind at least, meant eating cheese fries, wings, swilling beer, and using the poor defenseless pins as target practice. She never missed a strike. Of course she was also capable of throwing the ball the full length of the lane like some overhand missile.

"We're attracting a crowd." Wesley cautioned.

"Don't sweat it. This gets us the free drinks." She winked and finished her final frame. People applauded.

"Can I get you folks a beer? That was pretty impressive! How'd you do that?"

Faith smiled knowingly at her Watcher.

"Ah." Wesley grinned in return.

"Ahhh." Glorious sunrise on the tranquil cobalt waters with the slight earthy tinge. Wesley discovered it was a joy to wake up early and just go for a walk without having to type madly, hurrying to meet a deadline, because he was sure to be out all night, possibly incapacitated the next day.

"Hell, yeah." Faith woke up when she heard him leave the condo, shutting the front door, and rolled back over. Sleeping 'til noon, baby.

That unspoken peace in her mind that wherever Wes went, he'd be back, and something good would happen in the afternoon.

It went on that way for a week.

"That was an awesome day." Faith stretched throw the doorway, radiant and relaxed.

"Mm." Wesley finished his coffee flavored milkshake with a nod. "I'd say that was nearly a perfect day."

"Perfect? Us? Pssh, you've been out in the sun too long, English." She teased and bumped him affectionately.

"How is it you don't tan? You simply- glow?" Wesley looked at her admiringly. Still a sort of creamy beige, flawless skin, so much healing concealed in that agile frame.

"Beats me. Now, you. You I pictured turning pinkbelly red. But you don't. You tan up like someone was painting you for one of those beach boy calendars."

Wesley paused. "Thank you..." He held out his hands as if to say, "I think that was a compliment, but I'm not sure?"

Faith laughed, "I like it. The Watcher off duty look." Scruff. Bare feet. Bare chest. Damn, he looks better that I thought a pasty bookworm ever could.

"Finish off with a little night cap, and we'll call it the end of vacation." He offered her a beer from the small icebox.

Faith thought about it, and then passed. "I'm calling breakfast at that diner up the street the end. Man, I never knew blueberry pancakes could give you a buzz."

"Or that genuine maple syrup." He sighed. Then laughed. "Look at us. We're becoming food critics." He put the beer back and slid into a worn white teeshirt.

She laughed too. "We could have a column in the Freaky Weekly. Best Eats for Guys on the Run."

"A state by state guide."

"We've hit half of them."

"Have we really?"

' "I dunno. We were in Florida."

"Georgia, both Carolinas."

"Utah, Vegas, Wyoming..."

"I think we've covered nearly every state on the east coast and across, and of course California."

They nodded, ticking off places in their minds.

"Been a lot of places with you." Faith cleared her throat and said somewhat stiffly.

"Feels like a whole world. A whole lifetime." Wesley said in an almost awed tone.

"Yeah, well... you do that when you start a whole new life, I guess."

His turn to sound hoarse. "It's a year in July." Next week.

Oh God. Oh God, really? July, that's like- in a week! She spazzed out, her mind went ballistic, and- she looked over at him, one minute so carefree, happy, relaxed after a year of shit and backbreaking, and she lost her anger and her fear. Her face slowly lost its guarded shield. "Been a good year, right? I mean- aside from the insane amount of fighting, driving, and crappy places we stayed."

Wesley's shoulders furled back and then relaxed as he exhaled. "The best of my life."

"Yeah. Mine, too." She considered, smiling, and letting herself swivel near to him. "Funny what almost dying'll do for you, huh?"

Many near misses, for both of us, Wesley realized. "Well said." He nodded. "B-but there were good times as well."

Faith was quick to agree. "Oh, totally. Halloween."

"Your birthday."

"Getting kicked out of a Broadway show." They both laughed.

"The day we went on that tour of the national park."

"Where you kinda saved the world, yeah, that."

"I merely assisted. You saved it."

"I liked the park tour best." Faith ended that string of banter decisively. "First photo we ever-" Oh please. Mush much?

"I'm sure if I write and ask nicely we can get a still from the theater security tapes as they ejected us, as well. We could start an album." Wesley deadpanned. She cracked up. He cracked up with her, until they were hunched, until they were falling, laughing off a year, the hardest one, the best one, pain and tension dropping from two people who couldn't cry so they laughed instead.

"Right then, right." Wesley wheezed, laughing much too hard at something not really that funny, and knowing it was some kind of giddiness. "What else?"

"When you came to see me on my shifts."

"That happened quite often."

"Still liked it. Doesn't just have to happen once to make the list, does it?" She challenged.

"Absolutely not. Date nights." Especially when we're not covered in demonic remains prior to the ice cream...

"Date nights." Faith agreed after a split second of hesitation.

A longer moment of hesitation before he murmured, "Philadelphia."

"Where I almost lost it for the first time?" She slapped his arm.

"Where we kissed for the first time." Wesley admitted, suddenly embarrassed and doing his best not to show it. "Although- there was some impressive-"

"Just wanted to hear you say it." Faith cut him off. First time we kissed. Not me kissing him, or him kissing me, it was just- whoosh. All at once, and he was giving as good as he got.

Every time... he gives as good as he gets. A half dozen intense kisses, a half of a half when it was more than a kiss, when it was more than intense.

"You ever get lonely?" Faith whispered, lying on the floor next to him, fallen in their exhausted laughter that had given way to seriousness.

He thought. "No. Not with you around."

"Never get... restless?" Her hand brushed his arm.

"I'm only human." His cheeks flushed, but in the darkness, she couldn't tell.

"I'm only a little extra." Faith rolled to her side and gave him a lopsided grin.

His hand tangled up in her hair. "I like that little bit extra."

"Been a year... I mean, dude... I've never been one to exactly hold back." Faith's hand wandered up, over his hard chest, resting on the cleft between neck and shoulder.

"I've never been one to let go." Wesley remembered Philadelphia all over again. Bewitching eyes. Ensnaring, enslaving, siren eyes- funny thing, they were still equally enchanting now, but she wasn't wearing her mask.

"Gotta trust people to let go." Faith remarked. "Or, just not give a damn."

"I trust you."

"And you give a whole lotta damns, Wes." She swallowed and traced his throat with her thumb now, pressing in harder than she should, to stop the shaking in her hands.

The pressure on his windpipe should have been worrying, but it wasn't. It was real, it spoke of needs and urgencies. This life is so fleeting, and you've already seen how it hangs by a thread, ready to break any given night.

Faith could feel him swallow, and breathe. Never, ever noticed that before. Never cared before. Been close to someone before, like I am with him. "Cool." The heartbreaker smile graced her lips.

"What?" His own lips were dry and barely able to articulate the word suddenly.

"You and me."

"We are. We really are." The hand trapped in her hair tugged gently, lowering her head.

She gave in, eagerly and lips met, crashed, and bodies spun. Lazily, longingly, until it was apparent this wasn't going to stop at kisses tonight.

"Are you sure you-"

"Don't even finish it, Wes." She was tugging him up, and she was cradled in feverish kisses, as they stumbled back, bodies blindly stumbling towards the nearest bed.

One More Thing

Is it love, or filling a need? Wesley wondered as his back hit her mattress.

Does it matter? After a year, does it matter? She's all I have, and I love her.

Sometimes all you have- is all you've ever wanted. You'd just be incredibly blessed, lucky- to end up with that arrangement, where everything you want, need, and love is one person.

How convenient. He grunted and his shirt went skidding across the sheets, torn at the neck, and was followed by hers, rolled up and heaved off.

Convenient. Loneliness, togetherness, the very nature of our work- I hope she knows it's not because it's convenient logistically.

I hope she feels the same way.

I guess I just have to show her.

Faith's heart went at triple speed, and she quaked and burned inside in turns. Only one way to show the fear who's boss. Show no fear. Show you're the one to be afraid of.

"How do you want it?" Faith asked, him prowling up him, hands across his chest, feeling him shudder. " 'Smatter? Afraid I'll break you?"

"No." He replied at once. Or rather, yes. My heart. Not the body so much.

"Good. I won't." Oh God, the boy had muscles under those button-down shirts. From working out with her, training with her, hunting with her.

Wesley stared up at the shirtless form. Without it, she revealed a plunging black bra on creamy pale skin, wriggling, running her hands over her sides, siren eyes calling louder than ever, snaring him more completely than he could have imagined.

She gyrated over him, hands caressing herself like she was showing off her assets. "Tell me how you like it, Wes." I'm assuming he knows. I mean, duh. But still... Hard to picture the nerd with polished hair getting any, and I know he didn't while he was with me. "You have-?"

He grunted and pulled her back down to him, kissing her hard, making her lips curl in a giggling snarl. "Yes. I have."

"Tell me how you want it..." She breathed against his jawline.

"I'd rather hear how you do." He kissed the curve of her neck softly, then the shoulder, the tantalizingly soft hills of cleavage on such a hard, tight torso.

Faith froze, letting him kiss her, letting his tongue trail. How do I like it? Have I ever liked it?

Hell yes. I like the end part, when I cum. I like making their eyes roll back, I like feeling them shudder. "I don't care, as long you hit the good low down spots. And I'll show you where they are."

"I'll be happy to study you for hours." He caressed her hair, stroked it back and sighed. "You're so beautiful, Faith." He marveled, all the wistful aching he'd been tamping down suddenly in his voice.

Another moment where she couldn't respond. Something yearned and recoiled at once. "Put your glasses back on." She teased.

"You're just as beautiful, whether you're slightly blurry or not. I can see you fine at close range." More kissing, more gentle exploring, like she was beautiful, like he believed it.

Enough soft. She ground her hips up and tugged on the rough edges of his jeans. "Gotta keep up, Wes." She teased.

"Oh, I'm up." He thrust against her. "Extremely so." His hands pressed hers to stillness as they grasped his zip. "Faith?" He forced himself to say the phrase she'd denied him earlier. "You do want this?"

"Of course!" Fingers were freed and resumed, his as well, down her back, back up it, finally unhooking her bra, exposing her breasts as she wriggled her jean shorts down her long legs.

He placed kisses all over her chest. He latched onto one nipple and breathed against her, before kissing her all over again. Each press of his lips was done reverently, holding her tight, his head bowed. Then lying against her, cradling her like she was... precious? Something special.

Never felt like that before.

Don't. Don't make me get mushy. Her knees worked down his denim until just the fabric of his boxer briefs was against her leg. Not reverently, not gently, but like someone used to grabbing the goods, she found his length and pulled it into her palm, a quick jerk of her fist, startling him, but in a good way, she could tell by the way his fingers crushed into her shoulders and his chest crashed down to smash into hers, hips bucking anxiously against hers.

Mm, nice and firm, straight and slender, though by no means small. It'd fill her up. In fact, after this long as a solo act, he'd probably have her soaking the sheets in minutes. "Nice, Wes. Surprised that fit under the permanently twisted knickers you used to wear."

His head swam at her touch, the whole thing surreal, but so wanted. And still it's us. We don't talk, then we do we say all the wrong things, the crude things, the over-refined things, and yet... it comes out fine in the end, better than I could have dreamed. So he ignored the misgivings that something was slightly off, and gave her a cheeky quirk of his lips, stopping his worship of her cleavage long enough to make his own reply. "Har har. Your pillow talk leaves something to be desired, my love."

Her motions didn't just stop, they reversed.

She pushed him back, scooting away, sitting up, a puzzled look on her face, puzzled look rapidly turning into something almost disgusted.

Wesley felt the pleasurable tension turn into the bad kind. His head tilted back, looking at her with confused concern. "Faith? Sweetheart?"

Don't screw this up. Don't make a big deal. Let it go.

But she couldn't. Some final reserve, her bullet-proof, flack-covered heart seemed to twist the words up and out her mouth. "Why did you do that? Call me that?" She had to hear him say it was a pet name, an absent minded, offhand term of endearment.

"Call you what? My lo-"

"Don't!" Faith cried. Then calmer, "Don't say stuff like that."

My love? But- I love her. And she knows it, she must know it. I thought she was finally thinking she ... Well, apparently I was wrong.

"I'm sorry." Wesley's confusion and concern turned from nagging back of mind thoughts to front of mind flooding. His ego and a certain other part of anatomy deflated rapidly. What in the world could I have been thinking? This wasn't clear, we didn't discuss it.

Then again, we rarely do. "I'm sorry. I thought you wanted- me."He sat still, for a moment, then began to move away.

Faith shook her head, swallowing rapidly. "No, I do!" She clutched him suddenly, crimson nails slamming into his shoulders to keep him beside her. "I want you so bad."

"Do you mean me, or do you mean sex?" Wesley asked, slight bitterness in his tone.

"I mean both!" She was strongest when the adrenaline flew, and it soared now. She kept her hands digging in until she felt him shift slightly, back in place on the bed again, not going to go anywhere. "I swear, Wes." She whispered. "Both."

"Then why is it wrong?" His hand lightly stroked her cheek. "What I said?"

Faith glared at him briefly, even as she tried pulling him back into her arms. "I just...I don't know. Not like that. " An angry shrug.

Wesley reproached himself, but the reproach was vague and his intellect couldn't deal with emotion until things were more concrete, ever his failing, the head before heart. Not like that? I certainly didn't mean to do it wrong. How in the world was it wrong? I wasn't too demanding, was I?

She very nearly impaled me. I don't think it was that. Why does she look so angry, so stubborn all of the sudden?

To Faith, anger is always the offset of fear. In a voice meant to reach into their own peculiar friendship, he wondered aloud, hoping she'd toss him some clues. "I doubt I offended you. you're quick to insult me right back, and much better, I might add." She tossed him a crooked, knowing grin. His voice gentled, though still light. "I doubt I scared you, as if I could. I hardly present the image of some rampant, thrusting beast."

"Your image doesn't come off too shabby, Babe." Faith looked at him, now just in a pair of cheek hugging boxer briefs, slightly strained in the front. "I dig the academic centerfold look. I could be hot for teacher." She wiggled her bottom, skimpy black bikini brief working down her cheeks. She lay back, and traced her finger down his shoulder, inviting him to join her. Maybe they could overlook the slip of his tongue, maybe she could speed it up, zoom past this weirdness, push his sex drive up another notch.

Wesley felt even further confused. Push away, pull back, anger, fear, not like that, how about this? Ever off balance. Ever the one playing games and hiding herself in one mask after the other...

"No." I don't want to make love to the one in hiding. I want my Faith, just as she is. I want her, just as I am. The only one who knows me, the only one with a chance in hell of knowing her. "I don't need you to be anything but what you are, and I can't be anything but what I am." He informed her urgently, leaning down, eyes pleading for her to understand that this wasn't a game for him. "I'm a very flawed, very confusing, very proper-"

"My ass!" She exclaimed.

"Formerly very proper, currently... currently very much in love man." He confessed.

Faith held his hand tightly this time, instead of pulling away. "Don't say that." Horror and disgust was back. How can you love me? How can he even think it?

"Even it's true?" He slowly drew his hand away, looking over at her as she lay half sprawled on his bed, two figures who'd been entwined, now side by side in a very different tableau.

"You can't 'love' me. You're always straight with me, so don't- don't say it. I'm not sixteen anymore. You don't have to lie and call me beautiful and say you love me to get some." Faith informed him quietly.

His eyes narrowed and his lips thinned. So I was right. Or wrong. However I looked at it, doubting and hoping in turns- this wasn't what was supposed to happen. And worse. She still thinks I... that it's not true.

"I have no need to lie to you. I have no need to 'get some'." Wesley glared. "I never lied to you, and I'm not lying now. You are beautiful, and I do love you. Whether you love me as well is- well, it's not something that matters right now." He pulled the sheet over her chest and leaned over the edge of the bed, reaching for his jeans. "I didn't mean to press you into something you weren't ready for."

"What?" Faith couldn't comprehend this. Men didn't pass up her offer, not this offer, not when it was this hot and heavy. It doesn't end now. It never ends until I say so, then I leave, or he leaves. And this time no one leaves. "Wes, wait." Faith seized his elbow.

"Yes?" He waited.

"You don't have to leave." She abruptly decided she could ignore the speech. They could both ignore it. She'd always ignored the stuff in her head before, the whole reason to have sex was to shut down everything but the primal, beast parts of yourself. This could still be the way she wanted it.

Wesley disagreed, sadly. "I-" Want to stay. I want to believe just liking each other is enough. I want her, dammit, and she's obviously wanting me.

She thinks it was all pretty words to sway her? She thinks it's a game.

Would it hurt to just play along for tonight?

Wesley looked at her, looking up at him with big, open eyes, and the not quite real, confidence-and-cockiness- hiding- so-much-more smile.

I don't want to make love to that woman. I want to make love to Faith. The real one.

"I'm sorry, I believe I do. I won't lie to you. It's why you trust me." At least, I thought she did. "Perhaps I misread things. Lately." He stood, jeans on, shirt picked up, but trailing in his hand. "I don't know what it is you truly want." Some days, I'm not even sure who you are. Or who I am.

I thought I figured it out tonight.

I'm simply more of a failure than I thought.

"When you do know, tell me, and I shall endeavor to give it to you." He left the room, surprisingly well defined shoulders flashing in the half light of the open door, and then he paused. "Good night, Faith."

What I want...

I don't want to love anyone, that's for damn sure. If you love them they can hurt you. So if he wants me to love him... HA. No. Fucking. Way.

I give that dude a lot. I gave him respect first. Then my trust, and my friendship, and I don't have to give him... Even in her mind she couldn't say the words. That terrible pain in her chest that flared up sometimes around him went unnamed.

All I want is to get some, 'cause damn it has been a lot of slay and no play lately. I'm gonna burst my girl parts soon. Why is it a big deal? I don't even know the number of guys I fucked. I can't remember the last one I liked. Before Xander. He was okay. Didn't like him like him, but I wouldn't mind hanging out with him if he could get over the time I tried to- She shuddered. I warned Wes off before. I'm not supposed to go near him like that, I told myself it wasn't safe, but he... makes everything seem pretty safe.

The pain took her breath away this time, insides beating her, a cry of "Give in, say it" versus much more familiar, stronger, long-held trainings telling her never, ever, let emotions get involved.

Sex is physical and primal. Like scratching an itch, y'know? You need it.

That's what I'll tell him it is. Simple physical stuff. You don't have to love. Neither of us have to do anything related to love. That's what I want. I want it to just be a good time. Not just once, it can be like date night. Slay, ice cream, and sex.

Isn't that enough?

She didn't like telling him, it was awkward and uncomfortable and he didn't like hearing it.

"You don't have to, Wes. No strings, Babe." She sat on the edge of his bed this time, smiling with heavy lidded eyes. "I know you proper types think it's gotta be that way, that you're supposed to feel it, say it, whatever. You don't. Just let it go. Get your rocks off..."

When she'd waltzed in with barely a knock, he hadn't known what would happen. But he'd hoped it wouldn't be this. An outright offer of the casual thing he didn't want, and she wouldn't understand why he didn't want, and the whole thing, everything, was going to be ruined and they were idiots. He was the bigger one.

"I'd be happy to." He again, didn't lie. "It's been as long for me, as it has for you, if not longer. And everything about you... captivating. Sets my senses off."

"I can set all of you off." Her hand began to trace the sheets, working closer to his leg.

"I'm afraid not. I'm afraid you can't turn off the way a person feels." He gave a single, incredulous laugh. "I can't believe I'm saying that. But I am. You're the one who made me feel so much, feel so strongly that I can't ignore it, can't pretend it isn't there. So if you don't want me to love you, I'm afraid you're out of luck."

She groaned. "Ugh, Look, W.P., you don't get it. You don't love me. You cannot love me." Faith hissed in an almost threatening voice. Don't argue with me.

He heard the warning. For some reason it made him angry, adamant, instead of backing down. Because I don't let myself be bullied and ordered about anymore. I don't let anyone make me bow and scrape and lie. I told the truth. If she doesn't believe me, "Then maybe you do not know what love is." He pulled the covers back up over his shoulders and turned to face the wall.

Oh no he did not. "Did you just - are you turning me down?" No one ever turns me down. Not without getting hurt. Xander was proof of that.

"No. You're turning me down." He answered from beneath his blanket. He waited. Waited for her to yank him roughly over or the covers off, or screech at him, or her fists to catch the heat of her anger and pour it down on him.

Nothing. Then... "Guess I'm on my own tonight." She murmured icily and silently padded back to her room.

"You don't know what love is."

Screwed up, inbred, purebred, snobby- she hit the mattress until a spring snapped and she had to breathe in. She hadn't realized tears were falling from her eyes until one was sniffled back in.

Oh my God. I'm crying. I'm actually...

This is not okay. She angrily rubbed at her face, bruising her eyes, keeping tears in check. I should make him pay for that, I should remind him just why love and I don't even go in the same sentence.

Love is where they hurt you. Love is when you hurt, when they leave you or they don't want you, or you find out after everything you did- they were using you all along. Love sucks.

She flopped back on her bed and held a pillow to her chest. Oh, that's not what they tell you when you're thirteen and you get boobs and you get a boy looking at you for the first time. Then they say it's innocent...

His hands were on her calves. Helping her spindly legs into jeans, eyes pointed firmly away, faint blush on his cheeks.

They say it'll make you feel warm inside.

A six pack appearing in the fridge. "I can't stand Miller. I can't stand American beer in any form. I just thought you'd like it, so I picked it up for you."


"Because I thought you'd like it."

When a boy teases you, he likes you.

"Would you stop spit shining your knives? It's not that I don't find it terribly ladylike, it's that it's beginning to corrode the metal."

"What're you sayin' Watcher-boy?" She held the knife up threateningly, but with a smirk.

"I'm saying you have a vinegar tongue, Sourpuss." He looked at her over the blade, inches from it, and winked as he put down the new bottle of "Anti-Oxidation Metal Polish" on her knee.

He'll send you flowers and candy.

Skittles and Starbursts. She liked fruity things. Never could afford, or had been given, the more expensive things, not roses, not chocolate truffles in shiny boxes, and so she got a taste for the cheap sugary high dye content stuff. They'd just started being in the grocery bags. Not like it was a big deal. But she secreted them away and every little fruit burst made her smile for a second.

He'll worry about you.

"Move your wrist to the right. Gently... gently! Oh, thank God, it's not broken. Next time, I suggest using the chair, instead of the table, to knock out demonic bikers. Promise me?"

He'll let you know you're on his mind all the time.

"It's Wesley."

"What's up? Library computers down again?"

"Ah. No, they're fine, I just wanted to ah- see how everything was."

"Everything's fine."

"Good. Well then. I'll be back shortly."

You'll worry if he doesn't call you.

"Finally!" She hugged him when he finally came in at quarter to two in the morning, one of the few times she'd ever done that- hug him. "Don't scare me like that! Where the hell were you?"

"What's wrong? Why are you scared?"

"Because it's late! It's really late, and you weren't in the hotel, and you were out there by yourself and your fucking phone is off!"

You think about him all the time.

So many examples, she couldn't even make discrete sets anymore. He was the only other human in her life. The only one who was a constant. Every thought had him in it, uncomfortable as that was to realize.

Stop this! I don't want this, I don't want to think about this! But the reasons kept lining up.

If you like a boy, you'll tease him, too.

"Miss Priss? Could you maybe stop hanging your socks over the shower?"

"They're cashmere! My last decent pair." It was odd. No one would recognize him from the Head Boy, Council Poster Child he'd been only a few months ago. Only sometimes he did a craving for the old ways. The fancy socks. A crisp shirt. One with a collar.

She snorted and beer came out her nose. She wiped it up with an inelegant snort, back of her wrist rubbing it away. "You wear girl socks?"

"These are gentlemen's socks!" He protested hotly.

"Whatever you say, Wilma."

You'll do nice things for him, little things to show him you're interested.

"What's all that smoke? Faith? Faith!" Wesley entered the flat to a haze of gray and the beeping of a smoke detector.

"You said you'd be a couple hours! Damn! Stupid son of a bitch cheap oven!" Faith hurled something charred and football sized into the sink and turned the water on full.

Wesley climbed onto a chair and switched off the smoke detector, then leaped down and threw open a window. "What happened?" He coughed, waving the gray air out of his face.

"Why are you home so early? You said you had sixty pages to translate!"

"The last chapter was copied twice, so it was only thirty. I can go out again if you like."

"You're gonna have to. Pizza or McDonald's sound better to you?" Faith dumped a black mass into the trash with a curse.

"For the last time, what-"

"Roast beef. It's like the national food of British guys. I heard." She shrugged and looked miserable. "And I like a good beef on rye with spicy mustard. Mm. Figured I'd cook something." She shrugged.

He smiled at her like she'd handed him filet mignon instead of a head sized hockey puck. "What a lovely thought. Thank you."

He can break your heart.

No one told her that, she'd just lived it.

Faith skidded to a stop through the second set of swinging doors, what would have been a lobby, if this was a real restaurant, not just a front. She sank down to her knees.

He was in the center, between a reception desk and two coatracks. There was a body beside him, some demon, and dust everywhere, piles of it.

He still had the crossbow in his hand.

"Wesley." Faith said quietly from across the small room. "Wes." She inched closer, still calm. Voice calm.

For all of two seconds. "Wes? Wes! Wesley! WAKE UP!" Faith plowed across the floor, on her knees, then on all fours as she fell forward, reaching for him.

The vampires were ash around them, but there was a gash on his head and a puncture on his shoulder that was deep and scary looking. Faith took all of this in with rapidly darting eyes, hands hovering just inches above him, afraid to touch him.

Thank God. Still breathing.

She watched him. The breathing seemed thready and faint to her, and she realized she didn't know a lot about first aid and she never paid attention anyway and - Faith put her hands briefly over her eyes, pulling in a shaking breath.

She hated him and she hated herself so much right then. He's gonna die. He's gonna die. He's not gonna leave you, he didn't use you, he's just going to die and you'll miss him.

She punched him with one hand and covered her eyes with the other, pulling in a breath that would begin the long sobbing wail she felt building in her chest.

"Ow. I say, surely that's uncalled for."

"WESLEY!" She scooped him off the floor, sitting him up.

"I seem to have hurt my head."

"And if you ever almost die on me again, I'll hurt the rest of you!"

She sat up, dry eyed and dry mouthed. "Everything they ever said it was..." She whispered wonderingly. Couldn't be real.

So what's it take, Faith? She asked herself. If you have a list in that screwed up mind of yours, and he hits every single item, if he does every single thing, he makes you feel... all the ways you think it's supposed to feel, but told yourself it was never gonna feel- who's right? You or him?

I said he couldn't love me, I didn't say that I couldn't-

Minutes passed. The internal argument shut off. The room seemed to wait for some final decision.

"I'll never tell him." She whispered. Then- then if it ended, she wouldn't hate either of them. Not wanting to hate- that was sorta like love. Right?


I've been too harsh. I know she's an adult, but in many ways, she is innocent. In many ways she was forced to become an adult while still a child. Is it any wonder there is some discrepancy in attitudes and actions? Weren't you yourself kept as a boy in a man's body? Fearful, cowering, so worldly and adult, and yet such a timid weakling?

You've always tried to give her every reason to trust you. Do you think beginning something so intimate and ending it so abruptly makes her feel you deserve it?

I'll apologize. We don't have to discuss anything, we don't have to talk, we certainly don't have to-

They appeared in doorways at the same time, her in a tee with one shoulder torn off, and the taut hip hugging panties, him in his black boxer briefs.



"I- I'm sorry."

She fairly flew to him, and then she flew on him, knocking him back into his room, covering him with breathless, fervent kisses. "Me, too."

"Faith... Faith, darling." These were not her usual demanding, almost biting, almost rough kisses. Softer.

"I'll never tell you." She rolled the shirt off over her head in one swift movement, and flung the dark locks over his face as she clutched him, bowing over him. "Never. Ever."

Wesley lay in semi-shock. Why this passion and this- yes, dammit, love- if she was adamantly refusing to love him in turn? "I will always say it." He didn't push away this time. "I was wrong to try to push you into saying things you don't feel but-"

"Say. Not feel." She dug her nails in hard enough to make him wince and arch his back, small, wiry chest hairs tangling under her fingers as she held him in her own particular embrace.

"I always try to understand." He explained with a note of pleading.

"You're the language guy. Can't you translate this? You're the only one who speaks 'Faith'." She was desperate, scared, and in need of comfort, and unsure what it would be like to receive it.

Translate her. Pride. Hardness. So many edges and so little softness. Beauty. Amazing will. A heart that longed to fight, and just didn't know what it fought for all the time. A work in progress, just like him.

Like me. I love her. She loves me. Unspoken fears make it remain- well- unspoken, on her part. I've already lost all I can lose, and this is one area she refuses to lose in again.

"Wes..." She'd say it if she had to. Guy deserved to know, if not knowing hurt him. I don't wanna hurt him. I don't want any hurt, not any more. Oh God, so tired, didn't even know it hurt... Her full lower lip quivered once and she bit down hard to still it as she swallowed, once again the warrior who wasn't scared of anything, at least to the onlooker.

"Shh. Shhh." He reached up and brought her down to rest on him. "I don't need the words. I only need you."

"I need you. I hate it so much, but I do." She clenched both fists against his chest and let him stroke her back.

"I know you don't want to believe it, but you can trust me."

"I already do that." The balled hands nailed his pecs squarely and she lifted a tense face to his.

"Thank God." He grinned slightly, and cracked her defenses. "I meant about this." She gave him a wobbling smile in return, nodding. "Why don't we just sleep here tonight? Both of us?" He suggested, nestling her on him. So content. And this had never been about bodies with him, this was about the inside, the mentality, the emotion. What they both needed. "Calm and warm and-"

"Are you telling me you just want to cuddle?" She lifted her head and frowned at him. "That's a chick thing."

"I consider it an intelligence thing. Why would I ask the woman I love to- to rush?" He made a circle with his palm, and the other hands smoothed back her rich, luxurious locks.

She shook her head. He didn't get her, but he tried so hard, and he offered so much. "I think I just need a minute."

"Take all the time you like."

She didn't know how to do it slow. When his hands went over her skin, she wanted to scream at him to touch her harder, faster, make it hurt or make it take her off the bed in pleasure. She didn't know how to be the strong one and be equal at the same time. Her first experiences before being called had put her in the vulnerable or being used category, and the ones after that had been strictly for her own needs. Human vibes.

When she didn't know what to do these days, she asked Wesley. In this case, words were at a minimum so all she did was hold him tighter and kiss him back, as lovingly as she knew how, until they both seemed to relax, rolling, shifting, not rushing. Another first in a bunch of firsts.

It was the first time she'd been underneath someone for awhile too. They rolled a lot, not speaking, but nuzzling and making soft, encouraging noises, until he was on top of her and when he went to move off as they had been doing, her ankles locked over his.

Wesley swallowed. How a man could be so full of love, so full of worry, and so full of carnal cravings all at once bewildered him. He had enough seething emotion for two men, at least. "There's no hurry."

"There is. If you don't fuck me in the next ten minutes, I'm going to bite through a pillow." Faith knew it wouldn't be fucking. It would be making love. But coarser was more comfortable.

"Hmm. And pillows are such a rare commodity." He played along.

"What I'm sayin'." She felt bare thighs interlock.

"Don't bite through anything else." He cautioned with mock sternness.

She opened up for him with a breathless nod. "Got it."

He hesitated.


"Afraid." He whispered.

Her eyes widened, so soft, and wet this time. "Of me?"

"Losing you if I do anything wrong. Anything else wrong."

"Baby... no. I'm queen of the fuck ups. And I'm not going anywhere."

"I ... know it's hard for you to hear, but I love you, very much, more than anything else in this life." He admitted. "I can't live without you in it."

He seemed genuinely, truly worried. So much for the calm and the rock of ten minutes ago.

Because he's brave. He's brave enough to put it all out there. "Costs a lot to say that hard stuff."

"You've no idea," He let out a shaking breath, tinged with laughter, head bowing to her chest.

"Only way I leave is in a box, Wes." Faith caressed his back, slow, gentle, pretending she knew how.

"Then I'll be in one beside you."

"I know. I do." This guy would die before he let them hurt me. Has been like that from day one. Well, the second chance day one.

"Don't be afraid anymore." She murmured.

"Aren't you?"

She called him out for calling her out. "Brass balls."

"Quite human, actually." He arched downward as her hand verified this.

"Look at me." She demanded, eyes locking. See it. See it in there. You can read me like one of the hundred books you haul around. Read me, too.

He nodded.

She nodded. Mouth opened. Creaking words escaped. "If I love anything... it'd be you. I don't really know how to, but... It'd be you, Wes. Okay?"

More than okay. Fireworks. Exhilaration. As good as a thousand sonnets, her one stumbling half-declaration, because he did "speak Faith." "So very, very okay." He laughed, and kissed her, and she kissed him back, hungrily, happily, fusing together.

Fingers passing, skimming down, hips adjusting, locking...

Melding lower down, naturally.

He was there, a nudge through softness that made her stomach tense and her spine turn to liquid.

"One more thing." She stopped devouring his lips, speaking frantically.


"I'm usually on top."

"Then be on top!" He squinted as if staving off a headache. As if this were about power, as if "on top" meant anything when they were so clearly in an endless wheel, rolling about together.

"No. No." She shook her head, a breathless smile on her face as she put both her strong arms around his torso. "That's the point. I don't need to be."

No, neither of us does. "We'll take it in turns." He nodded, and felt her shift up as she pulled his head down, and they were connected.

It was sweet and strange and a little bit shocking. She swallowed hard, he asked "Are you all right?" in a tender voice, but very quietly, as if he were afraid to say the wrong thing.

"I think so." Usually so confident, even overconfident, admitting she wasn't sure meant a lot.

He was smart enough to get it. "You let me know what you need." I hope I can give it to her.

Fuck me already. Hard. Hard, I can't feel you inside. Well- I can feel that.

So tight. Gripping him, all of her muscles were endowed with superhuman strength and flexibility. "You're amazing."

"Sweet talk later, move now?" She nudged along.

"Simultaneously." He began to rock his pelvis to hers, still calling her beautiful, wonderful, and moaning quietly in her ear between kisses.

"Don't use words like 'simultaneously' during sex." She groaned and clutched him, forcing him in deeper, teeth grazing his jaw.

"I'm not having sex, I'm making love. I shall say whatever the hell I like, as long as it's complimentary to you. My beautiful, glorious Faith." Where she used teeth, he used lips, but no less fiercely.

Making love? She'd never... Oh. Wes is my first. Wes is my first. "I'm glad you're here." She gasped and kept her head pressed cheek to cheek with his so he wouldn't see her expression. She could only imagine what it looked like if it reflected her heart. It must look so happy. So awed, so happy- so so- ohhh. Wow.

"Like this?" She'd made a curious, questioning sound.

"I never- like this."

"What am I doing wrong?" He panted.

"Nothing! Never had it slow. Slow's good. Kinda burns. Builds. Gives you the good, low down tingle- but then it turns into a throb..."

"Pleasing you?" He clarified, lost in sensation, unable to fully process. Good, low down, tingling, throbbing- check, all of it and more.

"Hell yeah..." She arched and bucked.

Wesley kissed the arching throat and collarbone, awed himself, lost in her clinging body and passionate rose and fall with him, sweet and slow and steady. Everything he ever wanted.

Or used to want, before he'd met her, when he'd been one of those by the book sorts. Making love is something the poets hint about, full of tender passion, burning love, beautiful words.

But, he thought to himself after about fifteen minutes of this exquisite experience, it isn't exactly working for me. By me, I mean her. "Show me your way?"

Faith shook her head. "No, it's good this way!" It was. Just not yet orgasmic, but she could tell it'd get there. Her hand slid between hard abdomens and joined him in pleasuring her.

He stopped moving in her, pressed tightly against her from the breast bone down, and stared into her eyes. "This is phenomenal. For me. Not to be confusing but- we are still friends, aren't we?"

"Of course!" Faith looked momentarily horrified, then threatening, then just afraid, to be so open. "You're the only friend I have. Maybe ever had- hrm," she tried to look tough once more, "so you're not getting out of it by banging me."

"Glad to hear it." He chuckled at her and didn't mind when her inner thigh pulled back, pushed in, and gave him a reminder that he wasn't to mess her about just now. "My point being, friends as we are..." he kissed a line from her ear to her tattoo, and surged in her again, slightly faster, maybe even harder, "that perhaps there's more room to experiment."

"You get me one of your ties and I'll experiment you into a really fun place." Faith bit his earlobe and expected to see him stammer and blush.

He didn't. "Not what I meant... for now."

Which made her blush. "You're not into that."

"I'm into you. Show me your way."


No. "My way hurts."

"I trust you won't hurt me. I'm your friend. And you love me."

She didn't deny it, she just rolled him over suddenly, leg locked behind his knees, pushing him down and pinning, like something out of a Greco-Roman wrestler's guide to making love.

Wesley gasped when she rose up, length suddenly trapped inside her channel so snuggly, and her hips rising and tensing, then crashing down. Not painful, not pleasurable, at first, just overwhelming.

"How's this?" She asked as he gasped and his eyes closed tightly. Head rolled back, and chin jutted up.

"New." He managed to choke out hoarsely.

"I'm one of a kind. No one has muscles like this." She demonstrated just how strong she was, and felt him shudder inside her. "Well, B. might, but pretty damn sure she doesn't use them."

"She's with Spike. I'm sure she's- I don't really want to speculate on this just now. Or ever." Wesley's eyes opened and he gave her a mildly sickened look. She laughed. He smiled.

"Like it?" Faith asked after a second's pause, resuming her crushing glide.

"Never had it quite like this, but I like it. Intense."

"Pleasing you?" She echoed him with a lopsided smile.

He sighed and grinned back, echoing her, "Hell, yes." She landed with full force on his pelvis and he winced. "Mostly."

"Sorry." She adjusted.

"My pleasure." He reached up cautiously and rested his hands on her shoulders, then one hand smoothed back her hair as it feel in dark sheets over her face. "Lovely."

"Me or the moves?"

"Both. I like your way."

"I liked yours!"

"Good. Supposed to be able to tell me what works for you."

"Talking in bed? Not exactly my style. Aside from some dirty talk that would make a sailor blush. For real, I tried." She winked and he rolled his eyes.

"Fine, not so much talking, more like- helpful hints?"


Wesley stared at her, eyes drinking her in, every inch, every thrust, riding him with her head tossing back, then leaning forward. His shoulders rose, her spine curled, and they locked lips, locked eyes, hands grasped in hair, nails shivering sensitive skin into a sensory frenzy.

She almost got lost, even holding onto him, even breathing him in, inhaling him like he was pure oxygen to her suffocating soul.

This was the part where it wasn't about "them" anymore, the dozens of nameless bodies she'd had flings with, they were a vague audience. The discarded men, with their cries and their groans, they were the cheers from the spectators, and she took them with only casual awareness. The main event was the piece of man inside her, and rocking and grinding out a hard, mind-numbing orgasm.

She'd never cared if they enjoyed it, it was a given that they did, the little "applause" sounds in the background, the "Oh fuck, Oh yeah, yeah, baby!" chorus that was like white noise. The satisfaction of knowing she was going to blow their minds, be their best time ever, and then when she was done, walk away, leaving her mark.

She was teetering on that "only aware of myself and my pleasure" edge, slamming down, head back, finally, finally getting the buzz after months of waiting.

Waiting for Wes. I could have gotten this from anyone. I almost did. But it wasn't worth it.

It's not the urge for the hot and sweaty, it's the urge for the person.

My new high, baby... Kisses got hungrier, with a single husky sigh following them,"Wes."

Wesley looked up at her hazily, drowning in pleasure. He hadn't known anything could feel this raw and real and wonderful. Then she looked down at him and breathlessly said his name with something, such a ... such a soft, longing, sweetness. And still with a touch of that fire. Sweet fire, his Faith. "Paradise." He reached up, and pulled her down.

This was the right spot, this was the blend, for now. Kissing, caressing, hands on, non-stop clutching, sliding against each other, heads staying close, lovers whispering encouragements between locking lips.

She wasn't pounding, he wasn't doing his long, slow strokes. They were pressed together, her ribs easing up and down his, hips riding a space of a few inches as he rose to meet her, working out something tight and intense, dark, deep, and tangling.

He doesn't know what he's getting into. What I'm like.

No, he knows. He doesn't mind. He loves it. There seemed to be a skipped groove in her mind that resisted saying the next part, but the next part eventually found its way to the front. He loves me.

It blew her away, shook her up inside, and she stilled as if stunned.

Wesley grabbed her protectively and held her tight as she suddenly seemed to slam into him, her fists connecting with his shoulders. "What is it? Cramp?" He automatically rubbed her back, fretting over her formerly weakened spine.


"Not that I think I'm likely to have exhausted you, but we could take a break. Not as though- this is our only chance." His throat tensed, waiting for her to tell him she'd somehow decided it was.



"Why'd you- like me like this?" Faith asked into his shoulder, not looking at him, deliberately looking away, not showing weakness, showing strength. Her definition of strength anyway, like she didn't care.

"Love you like this?" He murmured, following her down yet another rabbit trail.


At least this time he knew where he was going, could not be swayed or thrown off of this path. "I love everything about you. It was impossible not to eventually love you, simply for yourself." He didn't try to make her look at him, he knew, as off balance as they walked, eventually they fell in step together.

She instantly did. "You know you might be a little sick, right?"

He stretched under her, somehow tense and relaxed at once. So often he was, because she seemed to reach right into the edges of himself. That was good, bringing those edges together, going to help him get sewn up, one day become whole. If part of that is a bit sick, then let me die of it. He brushed his hand across the neck and shoulders he loved so well, looking at her. "Perhaps."

Playing it cool. I like that. He gets when to play, when not to, even if I keep throwing different punches. Not too beefed up, but boy can this guy take a hit.

I love that. She seized his mouth suddenly, inhaling him, consuming him, but breathing it back with her whole body as it writhed and coiled starting the dance all over again. "I like it like that. A little dark." She bit down on the shoulder. "A little twisted." Fingernails scored the areas just above his nipple.

There was a sudden twist of his own, taking her underneath him, moving in much harder, much faster than before, making her eyes widen. "It's always us quiet ones, my love."

Faith gasped, legs unlocking, then curling up around his back, taking him in deeper. "Harder."


"It doesn't hurt, Wes."

So he went harder.

And she got softer. Hands tracing back sweat laced hair, tracing single beads down his chest, losing herself- in someone else this time.

Wetness washed over him, and he was nonplussed at the amount. Sex had never been so primal, so drenched, and filled with forbidden nectars.

It's beautiful. It's not calm or sedate, there's no rhyme to the passion.

There's just the hottest, sweetest, mess you've ever known and you're covered in her, and- "Oh... Oh..."

"That's it, right there. Give it to me." She crowed, peaking herself as she felt him losing it.

"Have all of me. Ever." He gasped, head on her chest.

"Want you, have you... shut up and take me home." She snarled, a wildcat in her ecstasy.

With a final groan that echoed, then dropped down an octave, he flooded her.


"Babe... that was awesome." Faith thumped his back, and he rolled to the side, naked bodies splayed, legs overlapping. "Holy shit."


She high fived his hand as it lay between their torsos, then laced her fingers in it.

Get up now. Hand him stuff. Go shower. Nice time, thanks for the memories... None her standard phrases or actions manifested.

Run. Move. Make him move. Now.

Faith lay still, stiffening slightly, but staring down the cowardly bitch in her head.

Shut up.

"I- hope it was the way it seemed." Wesley said after five minutes of heavy breathing, regulating their spent bodies. He felt her fingers spasm in his, locking down hard.

"Seemed damn good over here."

"I hope it seemed... like something different. To you." Clarity seeped back in with all her second guesses.

Faith looked over at him, profile to profile. "It did. This is different too. This part." She squeezed his hand. "With the ... just... I don't know."

"The being in love with the person you had sex with?"

"Do you hafta keep saying that word? It freaks me." She reminded him with a glint of something wary in her eyes.

"Yes. I do. At least for the next few minutes." He gave her a lazy grin.

"Then, yeah. That. That whole fact that I," she mumbled into the pillow for a second.

"I'm sorry, what?"


"The fact that you do? Love me?"

"Don't push it, you know..."

He grinned wider than she had ever seen a face go, beaming. Cheshire was an understatement. "I'll take that."

She laughed. "Bastard!"

"Ah, but you love me!"

"I'm gonna bite you in a second."

"Oh do, my love. I like everything you do." He lifted an eyebrow roguishly and slid closer to her.

Faith laughed incredulously. "You're crazy."

"About you."

"Are you going to go around smiling like that all day?"

"Most likely."

Faith felt her own lips twitching.

It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt at all. I'm not going to run or get rid of him. He's not going to leave. And I don't want him to leave.

Wesley's face relaxed, and he put his arm around her. "I'm not going to change. Things between us- they don't have to change. They simply get added to, deepened."

Faith nodded. "I'm still gonna be a pain in your ass."

I wouldn't have it any other way."

"But now I'll make it worth your while."

"No, no, you have always made it worth while!" Wesley frantically denied. Oh Lord, please. Not back to this sex as trade hellishness again...

"I'm kidding, Wes. I get it."

He sighed in relief.

But she had to ask. "Hey... um. This stuff. That you have. For me. I mean. How long?"

He was quiet, reluctant. "This stuff". That's what we call love? So be it. "Several months."

"You didn't say anything."

"I didn't think you'd want me to. Want me, in that way. And I loved what we had so much, that I thought I'd better not jeopardize it."

"But what if I never- you know. Did?"

"Then I would love you as a friend and as your Watcher, and that's plenty. I didn't want you to think- you were ever obligated. It wasn't to be a condition. We don't do that. We've had enough of that, both of us." Wesley said fiercely.

Wow. Faith nodded mutely. I got a good one. I really fucking did. I can't believe it. How did I... Her head spun, and she shook it, smiling over at him, lost in a good kind of haze. "You know that makes me love you way more, right?"

Wesley didn't respond, freezing the moment, the way her lips moved, her dark eyes sparkled, the slow motion frame replaying in his head, "love you"...

"Dude. Hot naked chick here?"

"Does it? I mean, I'm glad it does." He snapped back to life.

"Mmhm. So much that I might even learn to make those damn good blueberry pancakes." She abruptly bounced off the bed.

He followed her, pausing and then grabbing for his boxers. "Let's not do anything drastic! It's the middle of the night and I'm not hungry!"

She called back to him, "Ever skinny dipped?"

"No! I think that's illegal in a state park and public lake!" He quickened his pace, both horrified and strangely thrilled at the images her question conjured up. That edge. Always taking me to, sometimes pulling me over...

"Even at-" she looked at the clock, "quarter to one?"

"Yes! Even then." He caught up to her in the living room, sliding into the bikini she'd draped over the window sill to dry earlier that day.

"Hm. Guess you'd better grab your trunks and catch me before I get out to the beach and out of this bathing suit, huh?"

He could move fast these days, but not faster than her. When he managed to grab her wrist, just as she opened the front door, he knew. "I suspect you let me catch you."

"Maybe." A saucy smirk. "Maybe I wanted you to."

He smiled at her. "I think I am hungry after all."

She bumped her hips to his and the smirk turned conspiratorial, "Gotta tell you, that thing about the pancakes? Lies. All lies."

His head nudged against hers, returning the sly look. "I don't really mind. I'm sure I can find something to take my mind off of it."

"Does the diner deliver, y' think?"

"I doubt it." He gasped and helped her slip from her perch on him, both of them exhausted and slightly rubber-legged. "But it is breakfast time." The morning sun turned the room a ruddy pink, colored her rosy and glistening. Urges rose- and quickly gave up in mere mortal defeat. "As soon as I can feel my knees, I'll venture out."

"I'll venture out with you." Faith tried to sit. "Damn." Sitting didn't happen. "Do I looked as wasted as you?"

"No. You have supernatural stamina." He laughed lightly and rubbed her arm. She didn't even stiffen this time, actually seemed to sink into his touch, backing herself in against him as they recovered from their marathon of love making.

Her eyes focused unseeing on the pastel ceiling. "Didn't sleep much."

"An hour, I think. Before the last time, and hrm- this time." The things she could do... The things she talked about doing, and then would pause, waiting to see if something was too hardcore, too offensive to his formal rearing. It never was. She'd give him those deliciously wicked smiles each time he only showed interest, curiosity, even enthusiasm. "You have a very energizing quality." He confessed. The memory of words and smiles and the feel of her around him made him stir, but even love has its physical limits.

"So do you." She wasn't an all nighter. Oh, she could go, no doubt. She just didn't usually want to. Once and done. Take what she wanted and toss the rest - the guy- out. Not with Wes. He wasn't super touchy feely, he hadn't gone too Shakespeare on her, and the guy packed a wicked love bite. Who knew? Plus, every time she got lost and started talking dirty, he has some very big worded way of saying, "I'm down for that." Crazy.

Crazy good.

"We can't crash. Time to move."

"I suppose. You go first." He gallantly offered her the shower.

"I mean leave. From here. Vacay is over at noon. Rental keys back at that office by 12:30."

She forced herself up, yanked a shirt over her head, and kept walking, not looking behind her. Because if I see him lying there, all scruffy and with bed head- I'm totally going to mush on him and then we'll never get up and he might seriously pull a muscle this time.

Wesley raised himself up, worry in his eyes. Moving on. Not even looking at me when she talks. Well, that's quite normal, really.

But so brisk and businesslike all of the sudden. His insides gave a gnawing twist.

"Yes. Right. Not much to pack this time. Hrm. Still heading to Maine?"

"Tippy top of it. As far up as you can get. Or wherever the freak show is likely to be." Faith shrugged.

"A major city then."

"Sounds good."


Bathroom door shutting. Water running. Flushing.

He silently stripped the sheets as instructed by the rental contract, and placed them in the laundry bag along with a few towels. They passed in the hallway, him in underwear, her in a towel.

"Your turn."

"Thank you."

"I bet the diner does to-go orders. I'll drive up and get us something Maybe they even sell that maple syrup by the bottle."

"Ah, lovely." It'll be fine as it is, however it is. We can slide between friends and lovers, I know, I believe that she does love me. However she shows it, I'll find a way to see it...

"Quick question." Faith's voice prevented him from closing the door.

"Yes?" He turned.

She tried to look disinterested. "Not like it matters or whatever, but we could save a ton of money if we just got one bedroom places from now on."

His heart woke back up, his eyes lost their dullness and resignation. "We could. Absolutely."

"And since we're like- gonna be doing this almost every night that we don't get the shit kicked out of us, I thought it made sense." Faith shrugged.

"Agreed." He let out a shaking breath.

"Sorry. Scared you?"

"No. Not really." Wesley tried to sound equally calm, "I was trying to make sure you had space. I-if you wanted it." He hastily clarified.

"I'll let you know." Faith couldn't believe she'd said it. The one room. Like- that was serious. But all of this was serious. And she didn't feel like fooling with lying to herself this morning, didn't feel like jerking him around either. "But heads up- kinda love you in my space. Don't go anywhere, 'kay Wes?"

He caught her when she tried to slip past him. "I'll be here." He gave her a kiss that actually made her jaded heart flutter, and walked whistling into the shower.