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: Wow. Sorry for the long delay. I hope you don't mind too much, since I tried to leave it at a happy spot for a little hiatus. We're picking up about a month and half since we left off in the last chapter. I strongly recommend reading the previous chapter and then this one to get back into it.

Author's Second Note: Smut. Skim if you gotta.

Dedicated to: Ginar369, Omslagspapper( Artistic Consultant), Sirius120, j0boom, Lou, Illusera, AGriffinWriter, Skullmunkey, Sirius120, Sjwheelan, Wesfan1234, SunDawna, Naomi, Kitakana, animeflunky, This One Fool, Alkeni, Ironbear, and The-Darkness-Befalls. Thank you guys, it's good to be back.

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

Part XXIX

Couple of changes

Couple meant one bedroom. It meant rolling over and smacking into his shoulder or his chest. It meant holding his hand or sliding her arm around his waist as they walked, even on patrol. Unless she didn't feel like it. Unless his hands were too full of things like herbs and orbs and crossbows. They still walked closer together, sides brushing.

Patrol was different. There was a moment of letting go of someone else's hand or arm and a quick, "Hold this for me," before she went to kick something's butt. There was an added tenseness in his chest when she went down, and took an extra second to rise. He thought the world was wrapped up in her before, as friend, partner, mission, redemption, all those grand sounding words. Now it was a thousand times better and worse because of one added little syllable, love.

It's worth it. "Up you get. Are you hurt?" He pulled a twig from her hair.

"Nah. Won't even scab." She brushed off the graze on her arm and pretended not to see the worry and relief in his eyes, so much stronger than it ever had been before. Didn't know there was room for him to get any more pathetic.

Looks good on him.

The warm feeling came thudding under her ribs again, and it now stayed inside for longer, filling her up. She was scared of it still, but she stopped fighting it off.

"That's a small mercy." Wesley coughed out a mundane little phrase instead of sharing the thousand gushing words he could easily have showered on her. "Slayer healing. All that." And they headed back to their rental, shoulder to shoulder.

"You know it, English." She saw his shoulders unclench, his arm brushed hers, the uptight guy's lead in.

Ha. Her lead ins were a hell of a lot better. "So…you gonna kiss it make it better, Wes?" She teased, dark eyes flickering to his.

"Mm. You know I will."


It meant kisses all the time. Good morning kiss, goodnight kiss, "I'm running to the library", a peck on the cheek in passing, "I'm doing a beer run" hot, wet, grabbed him by the collar and snogged him before shoving him back and grabbing the keys sort of kiss. A hundred other types, "you look hot today" kiss, "I really want to shut your mouth" kiss, the ever wonderful, "I can't believe I'm here with you, that we're together" kiss.

I'm so frickin' happy. Something should go wrong any second now, Faith thought as she stepped out of the shower one night and headed to their room.


It should be a bit more different, perhaps? Wesley swept away his thoughts of a grand romance full of sunsets and roses. There were sunsets.

"Any second now." Faith watched the sun and moon trade dominances in the sky and crouched over a freshly dug grave in a small city cemetery. "Move all this stuff." She hastily pushed away bouquets and wreaths.

"There are still roses." Wesley caught a bunch in the face as he bent and she tossed.

"Then give me a hand!" Faith rolled her eyes and lobbed another bouquet over her shoulder.

"Not what I meant." He sighed.

"What's wrong?" Faith asked, stiffening.

"What?"

"Your voice. Shoulders. The whole package." She looked at him uneasily. I'm doing this wrong. Something is wrong and he knows it, and I know it. I'm a screw up and he's a bastard if he thinks he can make me- fall for him and then-

Wesley bent and stroked a stray hair off her face, away from worried eyes. "I had this sudden stupid thought that there should be more romance, roses and sunsets in our lives since we... since we've redefined our relationship a little."

"Yeah. I suck at that." Faith felt anger and regret briefly stir in her. Shouldn't have to be "romantic". I'm not romantic. Sucks if he wanted me to be and I'm not. Sometimes I wish things were different. Got a mad set of skills, just not that kind.

"No, honestly you don't." Wesley shook his head quickly. "I was just realizing- we still have plenty of sunsets and roses. We have all sorts of things no one else has, and I like it that way. If you do."

Her beam quite outdid the moon. "I'm good."


"Still good?" She laughed as her hair swept past his face and she eluded his lips.

"Leaning towards bad." He caught her around the waist and pulled her to his chest, her hips instantly gyrating against his as he held her from behind.

"We should go dancing, if you want 'romance'."

"I don't think we could do what I want to do in a dance club." He murmured in her ear.

"Yes we can. Just have to find a busy enough club and a dark enough corner."

Everything in him went boiling hot, blushes, blood, desire. "Forget what I said about leaning."

"You like me bad."

"I like you every way you come."

"Speaking of cumming in different ways..."

"Minx."

"Rebel."

He laughed in pure sensual delight. "I love you."

"Mmmm. Good to know." Her eyes gave the response he was looking for.


"Do you think it'll ever change?" Wesley rested his wrist across his forehead and panted out a question.

Naked body uncoiled from his, and she fluffed out her hair as she laid back. "I don't know. I've never been with a guy more than a couple times. This is- what number is this, are you counting?"

"No. But it's August now. It's been quite some time, though not like this." He gestured to the nude bodies in one bed.

"Oh shit, did we do something for our 'anniversary'?" Faith sounded mildly, but genuinely worried.

He grinned at her. She remembered. He had marked the event, but he hadn't fussed over it much. He was getting better at knowing where the fine line was and not crossing it. "We did. We stopped a plague of locusts and we rented a movie."

"What movie?"

"I don't know, all I remember was the opening credits and then this perfect pair of breasts smashed into my face."

Laughter. Sighing in the dark. Shifting around the bed on heated sheets just well used.

"What were you asking?"

"Oh. This. Will it ever change, do you think?" He asked cautiously, keeping the wistful note from his voice.

Faith frowned. "Sex? Like I said, I don't know. Guess one day you'll slow down. Old man." He swatted her thigh and she wiggled her rear at him. "More to the side, Wes. I have so much to teach you."

"Ah, love of mine." He spooned her and she let him. "You teach me all you like."

Silence. Snuggling. Breathing slowing down as they prepared to sleep.

"You meant something else." Faith murmured. She squirmed slightly. It was still weird to fall asleep in someone's arms. More than half the time when she woke, her eyes flew open and her battle instincts were on red alert, screaming "Someone's got you!" She tried not to let him see that though, forcing herself to hold still, to change the phrase to, "Wes has you. It's all good." "What were you tryin' to ask, Babe?"

"You answered my question well enough." Will we ever be 'traditional'? Will I ever say, "I love you," and she'll return it easily, in the same fashion? Will she ever stop waking up in a panic when she feels me next to her, and will I ever get used to it if she doesn't?

It doesn't really matter to me. I just have that bloody curiosity.

"Don't wait too long, or anything." Faith told him, eyes blankly staring into the pillow she cradled under her head.

"Wait?"

"For me." To say those "three little words". You'll be old and gray and I'll probably be dead.

"I have no plans to be anywhere but with you. My waiting has reached a happy conclusion." He rubbed her strong shoulder gently.

"I make you happy. You freak." She flopped suddenly to face him, head resting to his with a smirk.

"Yes, your freakish, fiendish bookworm." He taunted them both, to their own amusement, private jokes and private barbs that didn't have any sting anymore.

Because we do love each other.

"I'm having a great year. Hard to believe, but even better than the last one."

"No kidding?" Mocha eyes glittered happily in laughter, recalling that last year. Injuries, near death, actual deaths, kisses, fights, sex, screaming, storming off, coming back together. Yeah, a great year. "Hard to top."

"I believe in us."

Her throat suddenly tightened. Believe in us. Love you.

Wesley smiled. I can speak Faith. The only one who ever could, she said. I can read her eyes. I can translate her languages, why do I need her to speak mine? "I love you, too."


Life

"It's a minivan."

"It's a gas guzzler."

"It's got a high miles to the highway gallon rate."

"I don't care, it's still a-"

"You can fit a small motorcycle in the back, laying down, as well as the rest of our things. I asked."

Faith paused, mouth open. "Motorcycle?"

"You said you liked them."

"You said there wasn't enough room for all our crap on one."

"Hence the van. The back row of seats fold down."

"Oooh. I guess we do need to christen the car." She smirked.

He coughed. "That as well. But listen, I've been thinking, I've got it all figured out. We can leave the car in long term parking in any major city and travel light if we need to, you can charge the mobile phones with a portable charger through the cigarette lighter, you can-"

"You? Travel light?" She snorted.

He had the grace to look slightly abashed. "I admit it's an unlikely scenario, but I thought we could be prepared. And if we ever- decide we like an area long enough to stay for more than a month, we'll have something that'll be light and small for tight spaces. We'd each have a vehicle."

Her eyes darkened, blanked for a second. A closed over, guarded expression. "Like what? Two car family, Daddy works all day translating stuff, Mommy tends bar and at night they kick undead ass and save the world?"

His mouth opened and closed fruitlessly. "I- I never implied... I wasn't trying to suggest..." He folded up the sale ad hastily. "It was a silly thought."

"If you're worried about the tags, I can steal 'em. Or we can trade in, trade up, whatever, just not a van." She shrugged angrily.

"All right." Hw said quietly, a tone of careful hollowness. "I'll go back to the papers. Actually, I have rather a lot of translating to do. New project. I'll go to the library."

"I've got a happy hour shift at McGee's, that wannabe Irish pub on 5th."

"I'll see you after?"

"See you."


The bike was supposed to be freedom. So I'd have my own ride. Faith poured beer and mixed drinks with less seduction in her stance than usual.

Let him buy you a bike, set you up like some little housewife?

Okay, not a housewife. Not a housewife on a Harley. And since when do I care if he makes more money? That's old shit. We both earn what we can, and we both have two jobs. Lets face it, we have to take what kind of work we're good at, whatever fits with our "nightshifts". I'm good at this.

"Hey, Sexy. You gonna gimme a cherry?" Much snickering followed the patron's remark as he pushed back his glass .

"You're a little late for that." Faith snarked and popped one in her mouth, knotting the long stem with her tongue and slowly drawing it out. "Want the leftovers?"

"Rather see what else you can do with that mouth!" Wide eyes accepted the fruit-less drink and handed over a few bills that clearly paid for his tab and the show that went with it.

"Keep tipping like that and I'll show you what I can do with some pretzels." Faith laughed and tucked the money in her cleavage. And that's all any of you will ever see. The tricks.

The true stuff is for Wes.


"Hey." She put her jacket down and shook his shoulder gently.

"Hm?" Wesley sat up, pen skidding across paper, laptop lines running across his forehead. "Am I late?"

"No, but it is late." Faith smiled and shook her head. "You'd think a smart guy like you would eventually figure out that when his head hits the table, he'd get up and go to bed."

"I keep telling you I'm not really that smart." He chuckled and settled his glasses on his nose. "Anyway, must press on. Deadlines. And this town seems quiet."

"I know. We need some action." She hesitated, then bent down and kissed him, using all the tricks her dextrous tongue knew to wake him up.

"Oh. 'Action'. Agreed." He was instantly, fully alert, and let her pull him to their bedroom.


He wasn't used to it. The way she engulfed him, devoured him, mouth gulping him.

She wasn't used to it yet. Sure, she'd done it before, pussy-eating was expected repayment, part of the good stuff, usually a hard ride against somebody's face, and then she rolled her self down to plunge a waiting cock in her pussy and top off the night.

She wasn't used to this long, slow, caressing experience, with eyes that kept peering up, lovingly drinking her in, constantly checking for her pleasure.

Like he can't taste that? She felt the sweet salty rush spread from center to opening. Like he can't hear it? The gasps, the cursed cries. Feel it? The part where her body bent up like someone jackknifed her spine, her hands suddenly gripping his hair and mauling him as she shook out a final torrent.

"Good?" He asked.

He has to ask? She nodded and contained the rolling eyes, barely.

No. No, he does have to ask. Always. Because he really cares. Really loves you. Wants the best things in the world for you, from those stupid multivitamins to wheels of your own, to orgasms that give you jelly legs. "You are always so good. So, so good, Wes." She said with much more softness than usual. "I… I think you can stop asking now."

"I don't think I'll stop asking. Not that I doubt my abilities- much." The bashful smirk that was both knowing and innocent manifested briefly. "I just like to make sure you never think I stop caring."

"I can tell." Faith gently ran her fingers across his tousled hair.

That unusually sweet, soft voice melted him, like finding some indescribably rare treat inside an already rare treasure trove. "Faith, darling, I-"

"Nu-uh-uh. I said 'action'." She cut him off with a finger to his lips as she snaked her hips across the covers. "You awake enough to play in the big leagues?"

That sounded intense. He swallowed. Intensity with her had become pleasurable. Sometimes dangerously, darkly pleasurable, and he adored it, mere hints of it for now. "Anything you'd like."


"What are we doing?" Arousal, breathy voice against her mouth, slightly startled eyes.

"Seeing how 'bad' you are." She made her fingers into quote marks on his bruised shoulders as she bit his lip and then kissing resumed, snatching drops of water from each other as the shower sent steamy sprays across them.

"I don't think this is so 'bad'." He mimicked the quotation marks against her deliciously lush breasts, earning himself a smirk and head toss. Her hair, soaked now and sleeked back, made her face look so much more open, so much more youthfully beautiful.

So much more shockingly hard when her lips curled into a snarling smile and she laughed.

Still so beautiful. Wild thing, in her natural habitat, steam and heat. Wild thing not natural at all- pretending to be so much worse than she is, but challenging you to peek under the mask and make sure…

"Wild and beautiful, not bad." He told her.

"Not the shower, Wes. What you do in it. Plenty wild, plenty 'bad'."

He nodded, licking beads of water from her chin and chest as he captured her in his arms again. This wasn't exactly run of the mill, certainly lent itself to different positions. What position could there be that was so outré?

"Thinking too small. I can tell." Her fingers dug into his scalp, massaging, pricking as their eyes met again.

"Nothing small about this. Is there?" He jutted against her in one breath, drew back uncertainly with the next.

"No. No way, babe." The wild eyes showed amusement, softness again, and she bit his lobe while she stroked him hard and fast, one single, knee-weakening grip and pump. "This is pretty damn perfect."

"You've got my attention, Love. I'm awake, more than ready for action. Shall we stay here, or head back to bed?" He nuzzled her cheek as his erection leaped in her palm, desperate for another taste of something warm and snug.

Or maybe the bonus of doing things in the shower was fully enjoying that warmth. No barriers needed. Nothing between him and her- like they had been that first unexpected, wonderful night, before responsibility and caution came back to him.

"I think it'll be better in here. Less clean up."

"Clean up?" Well, they certainly were in the right place to get clean.

"For a globe-trotting, fancy-educated son of a bitch, you sure don't put the pieces together." Faith turned slowly, one hand trailing down below, down to her hip, behind it, resting on her cheek as she turned to the side.

From behind. Mm, yes I suppose that's quite a departure for me, at any rate. But we've done it before, and she knows I like it. Like to be the beasts we sometimes are… "Maybe I'll just need more waking up." He grabbed her hips and held her to him, back to his chest, hands clasping in front as he layered kisses across smooth shoulders and heavy lidded profile.

Faith gasped as he slid inside of her. Her muscles went into an instant contraction, and he gasped in turn, pulsing, the kisses on her shoulder turning into a hissing bite. "Yeah, baby, like that."

She leaned forward, and he pulled her back, massaging her breasts, trying to level their heights so he could continue resting his cheek to hers.

Even doggy style can't be just a fuck to him. Has to touch me. Talk to me. Love me.

He whispered it now, lips to ear. "I love you so much, Faith. Thank you for waking me up." He pounded inside her, almost straight up, and let his breath rush out unevenly against her, "Waking me up." Been asleep in myself, in a comatose world, for far too long. She doesn't just stop me sleeping on the table, she turns me into something new. Alert. He gripped her hip, then her rear, a little harder than he ever would have considered, except that her frantic encouragement showed him her desire. Everything is more vibrant with her.

He ground harder, she got wetter, cries and curses coupling until she peaked and he began to withdraw, hesitant to spill inside her.

"Damn. Good stuff. I forgot to tell you though, you got me goin' so good…" Faith wedged herself back against him. "Wrong hole."

What? Wrong what? Thoughts of spilling stopped abruptly. "Where?" He finally panted out, shaking his head, slightly lost looking.

"Hang on, I need more." She reached back past him, finding something on the edge of the tub amongst the conditioner, shaving cream, and shampoo.

"Don't open that in here!" Wesley caught her wrist without thinking. Oil, better than the cheap drug store supplies he'd first bought for her a year ago, her and her weakened back and legs, this was concentrated lubricating balm, good for severely injured muscles, bad for spilling on an already slick surface.

"Kinda need to, I think you might have rubbed some of it off by now." Faith tugged her wrist back and ignored him, undoing the cap, digging her fingers into the contents.

He watched her, fingers moving, then hidden, but suddenly understanding without seeing, feeling a bit of an idiot for not understanding a while ago. "Faith…"

"C'mon, it's tighter." All guys like tighter. Plus all guys like getting this. Notch on the bedpost, right? Something you check off the list.

"I don't need tighter." Wesley protested. Her muscles were exquisite. He had no particular desire to perform the act, though of course lustful curiosity was aroused, was ever aroused around her.

"You ever done it before?"

"No." His throat seemed to dry as his mouth was suddenly far too wet. He licked his lips and swallowed. "I never have."

"Then try it. Show me how bad you are. A little more grind and grunt, that's all it is. You know you want to." A challenge, a push. Maybe a breaking. Part of her waited for it, or waited for him to meet any challenge she threw down, he always had before, in some way or the other. "Don't you want this?"

"Of course I do. I told you, I'd try anything." And she'd given him lots to think about, the dirty whispers in his ear as she clamped around his cock.

Gonna cum in me, Wes?

Harder. No, I mean it. Harder.

Gonna fill up all my holes?

Anything to try to shock, and somehow he was never shocked. To push him a little, see if he stuck, and he always did, right to her side, never pulling back.

Maybe I thought it would come after months, even years, after trying the more routine thrills. Love was never about sex.

For her, sex was never about love.

"Of course I want to." He repeated, pulling her hips back to his, nestling lower down, crown against the tight wetness he'd just been in. "I don't want to hurt you." He whispered. His hands cupped one hip, one cheek, and his mind roamed to forbidden thoughts, no longer forbidden. His cock twitched and she laughed.

"No worries, Wes. I can take it." She purred, repositioning him.

"But I don't want to hurt you, whether you can take it or not!" He turned her to face him.

"It doesn't hurt if you're relaxed. Trust the guy. Or in my case, drunk out of my mind." Or in the mood to feel it hurt a little bit, getting a rush off knowing I'd be better in an hour, that I liked pleasure after it hurt to "win" it.

"You trust me, I suppose, since I can't see you being intoxicated just now." He ran his hands over her, as she stroked and pumped pointedly on one stubbornly hard spot.

"Never did it with someone I… y'know. I think that's gotta make it a hundred times better."

"I feel that way each time with you." He kissed her cheek. "It's always a hundred time better than anything I ever had before."

"Yeah, well… like you said, never did this before." She licked her lip. Don't push him.

Yes, push him.

Why?

I don't know.

"I was never intimate enough with anyone to do this. Even consider this." Wesley reached for her.

She could tell instantly, this would be gentle. Tender. Soft and sweet, and that was- wrong. Loving. This wasn't about love.

You've had too much of it. You don't deserve it. You want it hard and cheap and dirty again? The snide, harsh voice that was heard from less and less still liked to get a whisper in once in awhile.

"If you're sure you'd like to…" Hands were soft, but they were sure, a grip on her shoulder, her waist, her hips, lips nuzzling her neck and shoulders.

She loved him. He loved her. She still liked to watch him squirm, and sometimes felt herself shy away from the sweet certainty of being loved. She bit his fingertips as they cupped her chin, turned her head to him, so he could see the slit of her eye, a sideways glance, hinting. "Feels good in your ass, too. From what I heard."

"In my…?" His chest tightened, and he remembered the feel of her fingers brushing against him sometimes. He could believe it. "I know there are spots closely associated with the-"

"Save me the science lecture. Just sayin'… someday. You might want to try it. I'll try it with you." She'd meant to make him blush, stammer, reject it, pull back, or dive in, putting things back in place. "Try anything with you." How was it she found herself blushing and looking down? Suddenly hoping that she hadn't gone too far.

He hadn't been more than a little startled, then thoughtful. Because he trusts me, too.

"You can't do it." Wesley murmured suddenly, pressing his lips to her ear. "As hard as you try. No act between us, meant out of love- is going to alarm me. Is going to make me draw back." She turned abruptly, protest and lies on her lips- never leaving them. "I know you want me to sometimes. Sometimes I can. I can crawl into my world of books and papers, Faith, but I don't want to stay there long term."

"Can't freak you…" She shook her head.

"You're right. You can't. I may not like all of the suggestions, I know, but I welcome them."

"Nothing feels… dirty. Okay, well, not dirty, not the right word. Nothing feels 'bad' with you."

"Is it supposed to?" Wesley looked shocked for a moment. "Playfully bad, dirty is fine, whatever you like to call it, but it's never bad. How could loving you be bad? I don't think you can make something bad out of something so good."

"Always have before." She muttered bitterly. "I have the all time screw up record."

"Well… you're going to have to give up your title. If you intend to 'screw things up' between us, you're out of luck. I think we've seen each other quite near the bottom, and we both survived it. The top seems to be going well. Mishaps a plenty, but no screwing up."

"You talk too much."

"You let me."

"Sometimes I think about gagging you with your tie, but then I think about how I like hearing you say my name when you cum." She kissed him hard and deep, leaving him momentarily speechless. "That works, too."


"Is it- because- you think it breaks the -rules?" Slippery, controlling his thrusts, his breaths, to stop himself from moving too fast, too hard.

"No shrink talk during sex. It's a rule."

"So rules are invol-"

"Fuck, Wes, if you don't just-ugh, just fuck me."

"I-"

"You afraid to? Afraid I can't take it? Or afraid that you might like it hard?"

Challenges rang too true. He huffed against her hair and blinked in the steam, two bodies in twin ells, moving hard. His moved even harder now.

"Yes." She crowed That felt like something. Something just physical. Pounding. Pleasure. No pain. Maybe a little fuzzy on the pleasure sometimes, and then it was back, and she was dimly aware of her fingers digging into the tile, and the tile cracking.

Of course I like it hard. Why wouldn't I? It's with her. I like everything with her. I love her. He slowed again.

"No! No stopping, no thinking, just fucking!" She shouted, grabbed his wrists and locked them under her own hands, pushing them into shattering ceramic.


He hoarsely shouted her name, and let it die in a groan.

Faith found them slipping apart, falling back together, face to face, knee to knee, exhausted on the floor of the rub. "Good?"

"Incredible." Can't shut off a mind like mine for long. "I'm sorry I lost control a bit."

Can't shut off your brain anymore. "That's the point. Control - you can shove it up your ass. Or mine."

He nodded, went to pull her towards him, and hesitated. Then grabbed her anyway, pulling her into his lap, holding her tight.

Smothered. For a second. Then she lunged into him as well. "There's my boy."

His hand clamped down on her wrist as it passed his shoulder. "My Faith."


"Faith?"

"Oh no. No, you don't."

"Yes, I do."

"We're getting a two bedroom next time."

He was silent.

She groaned. "I didn't mean it."

"We can, if you like. Your space is important to you." He said quietly, stiffly.

"I like you in my space. I told you that." She just didn't like this part. Not tonight anyway.

A pause. Garbage trucks rattled by in the alley behind the small flat they were sharing. Apparently tonight had turned into today.

"Last night-"

"Skip this, Wes."

"Is it that you're afraid to hear what I have to say, or afraid you'll tell me the truth and it'll hurt me?" He asked, precise voice still soft, but unflinching.

"What? No! Neither." Okay, maybe there was a little fear. "I'm just… you don't have to do the post-bang counseling session. You do that sometimes."

"Sometimes I'm worried." He confessed.

And left it there. Leaving a thought not fully explored was alien to this version of Wes. "Worried about what?" The groaning tones left her voice. He was right about one thing, she was afraid to hurt him.

"I know you're not comfortable with the idea of love."

"I… don't mind it." I'm just wicked freaked by it. Why does he have to tell me this stuff?

Because he's your Watcher, long before he was your friend, your lover, whatever you'll be together, he was straight with you. He sees traps and dangers, he points them out.

"I'm glad you don't mind it. I simply know you're not comfortable with it. I don't think I am entirely, myself."

That was a crock. Faith narrowed her eyes and rolled to face him. "Don't talk shit. You're so good at it. At all this."

"I'm relieved you think so. But the truth is, I only have a limited knowledge."

"Better'n mine." She mumbled bitterly.

"I agree."

Hey!"

He was serious. His eyes didn't bore into hers, they reached in and grabbed, held tight, all in a steady glance. "That's why I worry. When you're driving yourself harder and harder, dragging me along with you- not that I haven't enjoyed every second- sometimes I wonder if you're trying to recapture the 'old days'. When you didn't care about the person. When you only felt with the body, not the heart."

"Oh God." The groan burst out. "Of course I'm not 'recapturing' anything. You have to think deep thoughts for that, Wes, and that's not what I'm about." She slapped his arm. "Sometimes… sometimes, yeah, I turn off the hearts and flowers in my brain and just feel you and me. Isn't that okay?"

"I don't know." He looked genuinely confused. "I never did it that way before."

"Never grabbed a quickie just because? Was it always big speeches and roses?"

"Something like that." How do you explain that it's hard to enjoy the best sex of your life with the best and most accomplished lover you could have hoped to find, because of all the sexual tension you had for months? The ever present idea that sex was an option if they wanted to add it to their relationship, as nothing more than scratching an itch? That sometimes her distanced, frantic loving left him feeling lost? "I think you had the opposite. For you, sex has always been about pleasure, without caring. For me, the caring part was crucial, it came first. When you want it harder and faster, reckless-"

"You mean fucking amazing?" She snapped.

"-sometimes I worry you're pushing me away. I know I told you that you couldn't. I'm still scared I could lose you because I… love you so much." He coughed uncomfortably and only let a hoarse ghost of his voice escape, "I've never really told anyone that."

Faith nodded jerkily. And I still haven't.

There was a flashback, painful and fast, like blinking on a razor blade.

"Mom! Mom, please don't let them take me, I don't want to go. I want to stay! Mom! Mom, I want to stay with you! Mom, please!"

Her mother shrank back into her room, bottle hugged to her chest, not looking as the grim-faced lady from the state tried to gently pull her from the doorway.

What had an eight year old thought through the panicked, terrified haze of being forcibly taken from her only relative, watching that woman do nothing?

She doesn't love me. She doesn't love me or she wouldn't let them take me away.

Love died. Felt like she watched it explode, righty in front of her.

"Faith? Faith, sweetheart?" Wesley watched her sit bolt upright, and came upright beside her, arms locking instinctively around her as she grabbed her head and blinked repeatedly, slightly shaking her head as if she could clear it. "I'm sorry. Too much pressure? I always do this, don't I?" Must you push her all the time, you cowardly bastard?

Silence was the cork in her throat, and words suddenly popped it, words jumping out, fast and harsh. "Sometimes, yeah, I fuck to fuck. I never stop feeling how I feel, Wesley. There's never been the big romance for me and there's never going to be. There's you and me and I love that, and I'm a screwed up head case, okay? You love that, fine. You deal with it. Deal with the fact that I'm going to need to try and run a little, but I don't wanna go anywhere." She rubbed at her eyes. She'd been about to say the words to her mother. Years ago, so long ago- when the pounding realization hit her- that love wasn't returned. Not in a way a child could understand. Love died.

Love might live again, but it was going to be quiet, keep low, survive.

"I don't do 'emotions' too good. You can't change that."

"It's fine. It is, truly. I don't either." Wesley soothed hastily, fearing he'd let his worries poison her, poison them.

"You're brave." Faith grabbed his scratchy chin in her palm. "Brave for saying it, telling me, when you must've known it'd take a miracle for someone like me to … to do anything."

"I love everything you do. You're - you have your own sort of courage. True to yourself."

"No… No, true would mean I could say anything I wanted, and it'd be easy." To say it. To say sometimes I push your buttons, but if I ever push the wrong one, don't leave. Don't ever leave, or get hurt, or get sick, because I'm crazy about you. To say I wish I could pretend for you. For me, too.

"The easy things require no courage." Wesley whispered. She nodded. "Take your time. All of it. I'll still be here."

"Even if-"

"With all the ifs and buts, I will still be here." Maybe one day you'll tell me. Or maybe one day I won't need the words.

She was comforted, he was glad, they settled back down, close together, pretending it was normal to just fall asleep as most people head off to work.

"It's not all about the words and the emotions after all." He admitted, reassuring them both.

"A lot of it is." She confirmed that she knew it.


He felt her fingers in his hair, creating a sudden prickling on his scalp. He blinked awake.

"Don't look at me or I can't say this." Her voice commanded in a breathy whisper.

"All right." Wesley swallowed and continued to face the window, fist under his pillow suddenly clenching. Hope and worry filled him.

"I'm scared sometimes. A lot of the time. To screw this up." Faith confessed in a choked sounding rush.

He let out a sigh of relief, and found her fingers with his own. "I am as well."

"I'm no good with being love and romance girl."

"I'm not exactly the free spirit that suits you. Too stiff, too stuck with my own preconceptions."

"Your preconceptions don't have squat on the bad habits I have. Had. Whatever."

More pauses, more swallows. "Letting yourself be loved- isn't going to end badly this time."

"You make it sound like there was a time before you." She reminded him caustically. "There wasn't. Wasn't anyone who… until you."

How could her own parents not love her?

Well, let's look at mine, and move rapidly on. "Then I promise not to fail you."

"Thanks, man." He went to roll, but she kept him facing away from her. "There's nothing wrong with losing control, either. Being the bad ass. Trust me. Just because stuff isn't in a neat package, doesn't mean it isn't good stuff."

"I know, my love. I know."

Her throat threatened to strangle her, inside out. "You need the big L. I get that. Just because I can't say it- doesn't mean I won't give it, in my own sorta sick and twisted way."

He spun anyway, pushing against her restraining wrist. "We're both such broken people, do you know that?"

"Knew it from day one." She snorted. "You were the one who thought you were all put together, Mr. Straight-Laced."

"We've come so far."

She considered. Huge far. But she shrugged. "Got a lot farther to go."

"We'll make it. We'll learn."

"Sure. Made it a year." Wow. Scary.

"Found out so much about each other as people- I suppose as - as a couple there will be a whole new set of discoveries."

"Probably." She looked sour at the prospect. "I'm not up for a whole lot of soul-searching and stuff like that."

That part happens naturally. We were never 'up for it', it was unavoidable. He smiled slightly. "We seem to find out anyway."


"You're strictly vanilla?" Faith handed him his tea around four thirty as she was preparing to head out to work.

"I'd prefer the Earl Grey we have in the cupboard." He looked mildly puzzled as he peered in the cup and sniffed.

"Sex, doofus." Faith rolled her eyes. "That is your precious Earl of Teabags."

"Grey is much shorter." He cocked an eyebrow.

"Kinky isn't your thing." She persisted, but her motions were casual, moving around the living room now, stepping over papers and weaponry, finding her second sock and her wallet.

"Making love with you, in all forms, is 'my thing'." Wesley left the stack of proofread translations and his laptop and joined her in the living room, presenting her with her wallet as she searched the couch cushions.

She straightened up and took it from his hand, eyes skirting his, then returning, facing him. "Okay then. Dark horse, right?"

"Both of us." He nodded.

She kissed him quickly. "Patrol around ten? St. Mary's on the south side?"

"I'll meet you at the bar and we'll drive over." He kissed her back.

"Sounds good."

She left, and he was left, stubborn reflections searching for a spot to vent.


He folded the corner of the page. A silent signal that this page of the journal was private, for his thoughts, not to be shared right now. Maybe one day all the pages would be unfolded. He didn't really know if she read all of them already anyway, but he suspected she had a sense of privacy that respected his.

His pen captured all the things he wished he could tell her, but knew she wasn't ready to hear.

She doesn't fully understand it's not the actions. It's the attitudes. For so long she was rudderless and she reacted on instinct. The fact that I have thoughts and deeper feelings about what we do unnerves her.

I imagine it's because she has so many unspoken thoughts herself. They unnerve her as well.

It's like we're starting a new chapter in life, after the roughest re-start one could imagine.

I wish she could see how wonderful I think all of it is. I wish she'd realize that while the thoughts are hard for her, the actions are harder for me. But we do both, and we do them well enough.

There's more shadows in her heart than in her head. More dangers to walk into. She does know that, she does care if those recesses contain things that harm. Harm me. I wish she could understand right now, but I think it's something we both have to discover through time.

One day she'll see. Finding out more doesn't mean I'll ever love her less.


To be continued...