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: Smut ahead, and also meaningful conversation, some music, and symbolic stuff.

Dedicated to: Ginar369, Sirius 120, stuff'n'nonsense, cavemenftw, Wesfan1234, WriterDragonfly, GriffinWriter, Kitakana, Alkeni, SoaringClaws, Illusera, and DeepBlueJoy.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine. All due credit to Dio, for the use of Rainbow in the Dark lyrics.

Part XXXV

Blaze

It was black, with a fine silver stripe, could seat a basketball team, but they folded the seats down instead. Discreet in appearance, another big black car in an endless stream on the highway. The deciding factor was that it was large enough for their purposes, bought second (or maybe third) hand, with a low enough milage that they both agreed it was a good risk. Well, Faith grudgingly accepted it was affordable and therefore she let Wesley convince her it was a good risk.

"Merry Christmas!" Faith grunted as she slammed the trunk shut, finally.

"Happy New Year." He rejoined, puffing slightly.

"Yeah, well, if we don't get moving, it'll be Groundhog Day before we get where we're going."

"Where did you decide we're going?" Wesley asked.

"Out of Florida."

He rolled his eyes. "So any of the other forty nine states is acceptable?"

"Hey, I'm still getting used to the fact that we legally own a car. Well, you do. And that there's insurance twice a year. Insurance! There's a monthly payment! Wes, we have bills! Bills are for old people." Bills are for normal people. I can't be normal. I can't pretend. And, okay, if I do pretend, I can't like it or get used to it.

"Then excuse me while I age." He shook his head and double checked to make sure the trunk was secured. "Also, it's not 'my' car, even if the deed has to be in my name. It's our car. You help pay the bills you're so squeamish about. And it was our arrangement, no Christmas gifts in lieu of getting this."

"Yeah, yeah." She grumbled and slid into the passenger seat, dark circled eyes already beginning to close. "The only reason I said yes was because it has a CD player. I hate when we can't find a station I like."

"Yes... some of the stretches of highway and backroad are quite challenging to pick up a frequency." He conceded.

"This is going to be way easier."

"Certainly roomier." He smiled, letting out a sigh he'd been holding until they were both officially in the car.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, more room. Odds or evens?"

"Odd or even what?"

"Turns with the tunes, dude! I call odds, then. Next time we stop, we're stopping at a mall or at least a music store."

"Odds or evens- oh, switching off what CD we listen to?"

"Yep."

"Are you saying if I buy an album of opera, you'll sit there and you won't try to change the tracks or eject the disc, or turn on a radio station every five minutes? You'll actually listen to the whole thing?"

"I'll let you play it. I didn't say I would listen." She smiled cattily.

"It's more than you usually do. Very well, next stop with a music store, we'll raid the aisles of classical and whatever it is you call that pain you listen to."

"And your screeching people who can shatter glass with their voice- are you sure they're not demonic?"

"Faith..."

"I think I'm going to get headphones and Disc-Man."

"An excellent idea." He sighed. "Now, aside from the mall- where are we going?"

"I don't know. When's Mardi Gras?"

"Late February. Almost March."

"We should get out a couple weeks before. If human tourists start coming in a few days ahead, I bet demon tourists come in a few weeks ahead. Busy people, getting ready, not noticing shit going on." She shrugged.

Wesley nodded, looking at her with extra appreciation. "Excellent planning, darling."

"Yeah, well, I didn't answer the question about where we go in the meantime, did I?"

"I think we ought to just head there. Maybe if we go this early we'll actually have a chance to get a place in the city proper. No bussing."

"Rent's going to be hell to pay! Plus that puts us there for like..." she got squirmy looking. "Three months? Something like that?"

"I don't have the three month cut off, Faith. We proved it. We've proved it again and again." She was silent, though she nodded. "I'm not saying we wouldn't have plenty of work to do in the surrounding areas, either. We might find a place, then travel out for part of the week, or even a weekend, do some patrols, hit some hot spots we hear of. Think of it as having a base of operations. Short term, of course."

It wasn't a bad plan.

He mentioned a plan like this. Months ago. Remember? The motorcycle for short trips, the big-ass car for the long hauls? And you freaked at him. Why is it okay now?

Her hand absently rubbed the place where his name sank into her skin, unshakeable, unmovable. Making all the other moves seem less important.

Oh yeah. Family. "We can try it. I guess."

He stared. That's almost exactly what I asked her to try months ago.

"Wes, road!" She sharply reminded him not to look at her when there was driving to do.

"Sorry, sorry. Hrm. Well, good. I wonder if we could find a place with a reasonable rate. As much as I enjoyed staying in the little alleyway flat that your acquaintance provided, it was dreadfully stuffy."

Smart guy. Doesn't throw it in my face that his idea was a good one all along. "Sure, I bet we can dig up something. Close enough to commute."

"We should pay more attention to the college campuses."

"Hookers. Easy dinners."

"Oh. Yes. We found that out in Vegas, didn't we?"

"Yup." Done so much together now. And we have stuff, like stuff that's not a tradition, but it's... what is it? Common knowledge? Shared life stuff. "Hey, Wes?"

"Hm?"

"Where haven't we been?"

"Oh, goodness, let me think. Aside from places we've avoided? I don't think we've hit Texas. Nor the Colorado area. We spent a night in Wyoming early on. Pieces of the midwest- hold on a moment, are we talking about places we've stopped in, or merely driven through?"

"Stopped in." She said quickly.

"Oh goodness, plenty of those. Maybe we ought to use the map in the front of the atlas."

"Maybe. I don't care. But after this, we need to go there."

"Where?" I missed something, didn't I?

"Someplace we haven't been before." She shrugged tightly.

"Ah. Yes, fine."

She fell into silence. He's family. He's my life. I don't want him to leave. I don't want things to "change". But I'm not ready for everything to have a pattern yet.

"Are you all right?" He asked after a moment or two.

"Yeah. Yes." She answered more firmly. He didn't look convinced. "Oh, c'mon, Wes. We've got a new machine to put to the test. Trails to blaze, right?"

He grinned. The world was on fire whenever she was around. "Absolutely."


What Makes A House a Home

Her music. Thumping. Headphones not enough, the mall gave birth to an arm load of discs, for both, admittedly, and a portable stereo. And new clothes and wine glasses and a decent corkscrew, but those were his ideas.

His mumbling. Always, incessant, didn't matter if it was for work or for "work", over a transcript or a translation, over a book of demonology or prophecy. The quiet steady murmur that had turned into the background of her life.

"I gotta work tonight, and he's gonna ask me if I want the weekend shifts. Do I?"

"We could do with the money, but there's something more pressing about two hours north. I thought we'd drive up and get a hotel for the weekend." He called over the clashing of guitar and drums.

"If money's tight, we can sleep in the car, dude!"

"But- bathroom facilities?" He looked slightly terrified.

"Woods? Gas stations?" She shrugged. "All the stuff's out of the back, we might as well use it." A wicked smile suddenly crossed her face. "We never broke that backseat in right."

He blushed for some unknown reason. As if he hadn't shared nearly every physical pleasure with her to begin with, already crossed the point where blushing was unneeded. "We never broke the other in, either."

"Not the back, anyway, but we gave that old car a good time. I seem to remember some pretty hot sex on the hood while werewolf hunting." The smile broadened. "Betcha they didn't teach that method in Watcher College, huh?"

"They didn't teach me anything about hunting with you, period." He rose, skin prickling. Anything she offered, it always seemed like such a good idea, once his reservations were told to bugger off. "Siren." He caressed her cheek, her hair, her neck, landing on her shoulder. "We don't need a trip and lack of funds to christen the car."

Siren. Like she was beautiful. Magical and dangerous. Good. I am- at least the dangerous part, and he knows it. Her hands slid across his chest.


He got the hotel room. He insisted (with the very good point) that if they got covered in some demonic residue they would require a shower, something the woods and gas stations would not provide. They ate dinner at some chain restaurant between the hotel and the place he wanted to investigate, and stopped the car in a deserted, overgrown back lot on the way back to their room.

"This is the first time you didn't have a little pre-game fit about the police catching us." Faith slid into the back with easy practiced motions, climbing over the front seat and unzipping at the same time. He just stared, opened his mouth, and then ran around to climb in the backseat.

"My legs aren't like yours." He clambered in and lay on his back beside her.

"That's okay." She teasingly smiled. "I'm the one who has to flash some leg to get the extra cash." He only laughed. "Mm. Rebel's here."

"I'm just very… relaxed. Eager. It's about time I had this particular right of passage I suppose."

"No teenage fumbles in your Rolls, Wes?"

Rebel temporarily left, and was replaced with his somewhat shy, cautious self. "No… I never… well, before you, I wouldn't have wanted to, or tried to, I suppose."

He's just as good when he's a little nervous, Faith thought to herself. He's so sweet. He can be so hot too, so bad when he gets going… but I'm bad enough for both of us. I can try to be sweet, too.

"Well, I'm happy to be the first one. This is my first time in a car that was mine. Half mine, or part mine anyway. First time where it's just for fun."

"Hm?" Wasn't the point of all prior sexual activity for her to have fun? To get the edge off, or feel the buzz, however she'd worded it.

"The other times I was paying off something, or it was the only place available. This is kinda special, huh? Claiming the car, with a side of thrills, right, Babe?" She shrugged, but waited for his agreement.

"Mm, marking our turf, as it were." He felt himself harden under her casual touch, her intense eyes.

"They weren't roomy big cars, either. Tight backseats. Police cars a couple times. Man, those metal grates are hard on the tits if someone shoves you into them when you're not expecting it."

"Someone shoved you?" Was this consensual? His eyes narrowed, pictures of the girl who fucked for the fun and convenience of it taking on a suddenly darker cast. "Faith, did you-"

"I preferred it to fines or doing time." She answered quickly. "Nobody ever forced me, Wes." He looked so relieved, and he held her hand tight. Like he cares, even though it was years ago, and even though there's nothing he could possibly do about it.

"I'm so glad. I couldn't bear it if… I'm glad." He muttered hoarsely. She's had enough horrors to live through. Not one more.

She swallowed with a nod. Wes made her honest. Unwillingly honest sometimes. "Look, I did bad stuff, I put up with some bad stuff in return. But I always allowed it, even if I didn't want to do it, didn't like it. Okay?" He made her partially honest. She didn't want to tell him sometimes she felt sick during, after, at least the first couple times. She never let them see. She did what they said with a veneer of wanton sexuality or indifference. "None of it was ever too bad, and I always got off in the end. Unless it was straight up blow job, that I did for them and screw me, I kept that fast and left." He nodded, really quiet, eyes closed like he was in pain. "Wes, I don't do that anymore." He nodded again, squeezing her hand.

The silence was killing the mood, and she was getting angry at herself for spilling so much. "You can't get mad at me for that shit. I didn't even know you then." She reminded him with an edge in her voice.

"I'm not angry! I'm… grateful. This is special to you. This is different for you. And I'm glad that I'm the one who can be with you now." He rolled to his side, touching her cheek. "The good things only, I promise you. I'm happy that - no one ever will ever make- that is, you'll never need to allow anything like that again." He gave her a bleak smile. "I'm sure I said at least one kindly meant thing in an offensive way during that little speech."

Maybe. Maybe not. "C'mere, Wes." She answered, her hand sliding up the back of his neck, taking hold to pull him to her. "Let's do this our way. A little edge, a little soft."


He rocked into her, smushed and without a lot of leverage, breathing into their kisses. What an amazing mouth she has. And she plied it skillfully, lovingly, gasping as she pushed him off and laid him back, lips wrapping around him before her pussy did.

"I love you." He gazed up at her with a blend of realism and worshipfulness she found really got to her- and she didn't mind (too much) anymore.

"Mm, let me return it." She bent to kiss him, tongues tangling as her hips ground to his. She felt him twitch. "Ready so soon?"

"It's rather a tight position- ooh. Ohhhh." She clamped on him, and leaning forward, took him until there was no more left to take, then slowly circled on it, barely moving her hips. Just keeping him prisoner. Giving him no relief. He groaned louder. "Faith!"

She had already had at least one peak of her own, and she knew he'd hold his off for as long as possible. She didn't want him to do that, didn't want him to deny it, or work too hard at anything tonight. Tonight was about making something theirs. All the hard work already happened to bring them to a place where there was any kind of community property, any kind of unity, period.

"Just teasing, Mr. Stamina. Ready when you are."

"More than ready." He winced and bit her lightly on the lip as she stole another lung-exhausting kiss.

"Fine with me." She slid on him, and belatedly realized another reason he was waiting. "Where is it?" She half-laughed, half-soothed, kissing along his jaw and pressing her hand to his chest.

"Made sure we wouldn't forget." He panted. "Put it in the glove box in the dash."

"That means I have to get off of you for longer, idiot." She hissed, but she wasn't truly upset.

"Might last a little longer." He offered by way of compensation.

"If I'd brought lube you could just-"

"Faith! Stop talking and just let me get it." He grunted, half pushing her off as she laughed again. "Vixen. You're trying to make me explode."

"Mm, you know you like it, Mr. Dean." She rolled an reached into the front, giving him one enticing view after another as she retrieved one of the little square packets they were after.

"I know I love it, because it's you. Even if you do terrible things to my self-control."

"Don't need it around me." She still tore open the wrapper with her teeth and slid it on him, her single deft roll across his skin making him jump in her hand.

He sank back into her, protected now, and moaned at the things she could do to him. Self- control was a memory. Thoroughly in her power now.

He watched her smoky eyes burning into his, her mouth gasping out his name, watching the arm with his mark on it snake above her head as she came, bracing against the door. And oddly enough, I think she's in mine.

If you both have that drug-like effect on each other, maybe no one's in control. You're simply in love.


Journey's End

"Didn't something really weird happen to us last time we were in the Big Easy?" Faith asked as she and Wes strolled home from one of their nightly patrols. She should say kills. They never ran out of action, never ran out of prey in New Orleans. Although tonight was the first time in four weeks they didn't hit double digits. Gonna head out in another month then. See? His math-y planning shit started to rub off on me. I make "trajectories" now.

Wesley rubbed his wrist across his brow. Blood came off. Was it his wrist or his head that was bleeding? No matter, bandage whatever it was, wash it off when they got back to the little flat they were renting. "Hm? Weird?"

"Yeah- what happened?"

"I can't - wait! We did the spell where you were multiplied in image for the first time."

"Hm." That might be true, but something else nagged. She shook her head, but he was oblivious now, starting to talk in an absent tone, less conversational. "No, that was the first time we were here. We went to Utah, then hit it on the way back, so it wasn't the last time…"

"Did we? I suppose you're right. Oh, that reminds me, I need to stop back into that occult shop before we leave town."

"What are we out of?"

"Nothing. I've been thinking it would be beneficial to keep a few reliable contacts in some hotspots. Miami, New York, New Orleans. I can touch base with Giles on occasion to get reports from the West Coast, he has contacts of his own, I'm sure."

She frowned.

He sighed. "I know you don't like us having too much contact with the outside world, Faith, but these people are useful and legitimate ties with those aware of the mystic forces around us could lead us to new places where they need our help, without us doing the vast amount of research and leg work we tend to do now."

"No."

He made an exasperated noise. "Consider this at least, I could phone in some orders for supplies! Sometimes we're stuck in the middle of a backwater town without a decent shop within a hundred miles and I'd-"

"No, no. Not that. I was thinking- last time we were here- that's when your dad called. It was about calls. People getting our number."

He faltered in his step. "He works for the Council, he could have gotten anyone's number, Faith." Wesley informed her in a tense voice. "He's never called back and I haven't changed the number. As far as I know, there isn't a bounty on either of us, and even if there were, I can't see the individuals I'm thinking of betraying us. Well, you. It's a very quick way to a very violent confrontation."

He moved the hell away from talking about daddy dearest. Can't say I blame him. "Do your thing then."

"I'll ask if I can call to check in periodically. I don't even need to leave a number if it upsets you that much." He placated.

"To start with, that's good. Yeah, let's do that."

Walking in silence, feeling safe in a city where nightlife wasn't always beautiful or peaceful, to put it mildly. She smiled as she lightly bumped his hip. "It was raining. You came home looking like someone stuck a knife in you and you left it there."

"You'd know." He lightly bumped her back, hands in pockets.

"Do you remember anything else?"

He blinked. She was leading them down memory lane. Never did that. She doesn't like to remember.

Except with me. He straightened, eyes lost their closed look. "You got me to 'drown my sorrows'."

"Coronas, I think."

"Yes, I think so." He gave her a sideways look. "You - we- kissed."

"I think I could've had you screaming my name, Wes. But the power went off, right?"

"Something happened, a storm broke, I remember that bit."

Elbows touched. Her hand went through his next, and then back into her own pocket, linked but casual.

"You almost did have me. So many times." He confessed.

"No… No, I really didn't. You wouldn't have let me. Let us."

"I loved you too much to play about like that."

"I know. I'm glad we waited. Mostly." She gave him a sudden smirk. "I got so twisted up for you sometimes…"

"You didn't!"

"I did!"

He blushed, skin glowing in some sort of shyness mixed with amorous pride. "Hrm- I often felt that way. 'Twisted up' as you call it."

"Stupid noble crap. We could have been giving each other happies for months before we did the deed. I knew you weren't using me, dumbass."

"Ah, and she woos with such tender words." He muttered drily.

"You remember when I was still in Vegas and you'd already headed up to that conference?"

"Yes. What about it?"

"Phone call?"

Oh. The phone call. "You missed me. I missed you. For once, you didn't tease me about it." He walked a little faster, wanted to get home a little more urgently.

"Was too busy teasin' somethin' else." She left no room for mistaken meaning in her sultry whisper.

"I thought you were."

"I kinda hoped you were, too."

"I… it was hard not to. Maybe if we'd stayed on the phone a bit longer." We would have had 'phone sex'."

"I'm still missing you. Sometimes when I'm right next to you. You ever get that?"

"Oh indeed." His hand latched onto her arm this time, and began pulling. "Right now. Missing. Craving."

"You're bleeding." His hand was sticky on her skin.

"Must be the wrist then." He recalled the mystery wound.

"Get you home and doctored up."

"Not yet. Cleaned up first."

"The shower's tiny, Wes."

"We'll squeeze. It's more fun that way."


It doesn't get any closer than this. When you're pressed together, and there's blood running down the drain, and you don't know whose it is, and you really don't care, as long as it stops and you both keep breathing. Kissing.

"Fuck yeah…" She used her strong arms and the metal frame of the box-like stall to hold herself up as he slid in. Keep fucking, too. No. Making love. Might as well say it in my head anyway. She bent to cradle his head to her soapy breasts, and he rubbed his face between them with a soft moan.

"I love you."

"Mm, baby. Wes…" All the words that never come out, that sometimes she wished would just flow. She moved her hips instead. He looked up at her and she let go of the wall, needing to touch him, to grip that face and slide down, kiss him hard.

All the ways she tells me. The way she looks right at me when we make love, never looks away. "My Faith." He sighed happily.


Nightly rituals. There were actual established ones now. He slept in boxers, no matter how often she'd proved nudity was more practical. He set the alarm for nine, no matter that he was seldom alert enough to function at that time, and she regarding alarms as something to be cussed out, then ignored.

She checked doors and windows, a quick pad around on bare feet, usually with a bare body to match, never even touching them, her keen eyes telling her whether the place was secure or not. One more quick drink of something canned or bottled, then brushing teeth and removing mascara and dark lipstick before crawling in beside him.

Depending on their accommodations, sometimes they left the television on to whatever station showed sit com reruns if there was a television in the bedroom. If there wasn't they put on the radio or a cd, taking turns as to who called the music.

And only if they needed the covering noise. They had learned in Miami how very inconvenient neighbors and thin walls can be, especially if those neighbors threatened to call the police if it ever happened again.

"I don't think anyone would call the cops around here unless there was actual gunfire." Faith slid in next to him.

"Were you thinking of Miami?" He had been.

"Just about my birthday." Which had been in Miami. The only time in over a year they'd ever had to deal with an irate neighbor. "We don't do that stuff on a daily basis. And Miami's too full of old people, man."

He laughed. "It was an unusual night, I'll agree. Once a year sort of festivities."

"I don't know, Rebel. Your birthday's in what- two months?"

"Good Lord. So it is." He felt a surge of erotic anticipation well up in him- and tiredness replace it shamefully quickly. "What did you have in mind?"

"Sex, duh." She shoved his shoulder playfully, and they both chuckled.

"We could take our 'vacation' early this year. Someplace cheap but secluded." He suggested, a hand reaching out, resting on her hip.

She frowned. Didn't feel the clawing need for rest she had last summer when she told him she'd needed a week off. "Maybe we better wait until I'm a little more beat." She whispered. "Slayers don't get time off, evil keeps popping up wherever you go, so… better really need it."

"Better to have it ready than cracking from the strain." He countered.

"Oh, 'cause me snapping would be a shocker." She rolled her eyes.

"It would be out of character for you. These days."

The temper that was more and more tame still flared up easily. "I'm not 'fixed', Wes. You didn't turn me into a mild-mannered Buffy, okay?"

His own temper, which was mostly seen in response to hers, flared as well. "How in the world did she come into this? Why are you angry? I said it would be out of character for you to 'snap', and it would be, as things stand. I can't recall the last time you-" he halted abruptly, mouth open, but silent.

"Last time I scared you? Made you remember what you live with?" She supplied, a nasty edge in her voice. "It's always in there, Wes."

"I know that." He whispered.

"You like to pretend?"

"No." But I think she does. "I genuinely forget. Or I've moved past worrying over it. If those moments come, and I know they might, it doesn't change anything. I love you, and I trust you, I know I don't need to be afraid of you."

Tell him he does. Tell him he's stupid if he thinks he's safe.

But he is. The one person in the world who's safe from me. Even I'm not. She turned from him with those superhuman reflexes, and out of the corner of her eye she saw that he didn't even flinch. She smacked the cd player by the bed on, and her metal/rock mix broke the quiet.

"I know it's your turn." She told him with a defensive shrug towards the blaring box, not facing him.

"I don't care." He reached out and ran his hand gently down her spine.


When there's lightning

You know it always brings me down

'Cause it's free and I see that it's me

Who's lost and never found

"I don't mean to say the wrong things." He took her eagerly into his arms as she spun back to him, both hearts beating fast, not in anticipation as much as relief that they still had one another to embrace.

"I'm always the wrong thing, so…"

"Hush." He bit her shoulder gently as she buried her head in his. "We'll vacation whenever you like. And you 'snap' whenever you need. I've only seen you do it a few times, and honestly, all were called for, and magnificent."

"Magnificent." She challenged. No one is dumb enough to think that when I'm angry and dangerous it's "magnificent".

"Magnificent." He repeated firmly. "The human storm, vengeance come to life."

"You see me like some magic thing." And I love that. Because I'm a freak with powers, but he doesn't see it that way, even though he knows exactly what the deal is.

"You are! And you're also a woman who likes Baskin Robbins after and who has an absurd taste in music." He rolled atop her, passionate yet practical- reaching for the volume dial.

I cry out for magic

I feel it dancing in the light

It was cold, lost my hold

To the shadows of the night

"You remember what this woman with the magic powers did, right?" Murdered. Threatened. Tried to take you out, all of them out, a whole fucking city out.

I could have killed him. I would have lost him before I even found him. She was a sudden convulsive bundle under him, claws in his back. legs curled up under his.

"You remember how I ruined things for you, never helped you, unless it was just as I wished it. If you can overlook the ass I was, I will overlook whatever you were. We move on, Faith. We- we never lose what we did. We just have to keep walking. Remember? I told you it was a long journey, and I told you I didn't care as long as you walked with me."

No sign of the mornin' comin'

You've been left on your own

Like a rainbow in the dark

A rainbow in the dark

Do your demons

Do they ever let you go?

When you've tried, do they hide deep inside?

Is it someone that you know?

She sniffled suddenly, wiped harshly at her face, only releasing him long enough to swipe her eyes. "This journey doesn't actually end, Wes." I'm better. I think I'm so much better, that I can even say I'm better and like it is huge. But I'm not a different person. Demons still hanging out in here. I don't know if he gets that, my Mr. Sunshine, that there's no "cured".

You're just a picture

You're an image caught in time

We're a lie, you and I

We're words without a rhyme

There's no sign of the mornin' comin'

You've been left on your own

Like a rainbow in the dark

Just a rainbow in the dark

"Thank God." Wesley cupped her cheeks, tilting her face up to his as he murmured to her in the gritty voice that came from a desperate place in his soul. "Do you think I want this to end?"

"You want there to be place where we're both 'all better'. I know you do, because- because I do too." She admitted.

"Do you think I'm fool enough not to realize that one can be healed, but still scarred?" He shook his head at her. "I wouldn't blame you for thinking of me like that."

Healed but still scarred. "What?" She just blinked, this concept sinking into her slowly.

"We're always marked by the past. Like- like your can be something that just becomes a symbol you wear, a scar you carry." He licked his lips, suddenly too dry. "Or they can be a permanent meaning, a tribute. A part of your life that lives with you, not just a memory."

"Good scars and bad scars." She shifted and he moved to the side, lying looking down at her intently as she caressed both biceps, arms crossed over her breasts as she looked at him, then side to side. "Marks."

"I suppose there are."

"I got this in Boston. Before I ran away for the last time." She touched the ring around one arm.

"It's lovely."

"It's supposed to mean you're part of a warrior tribe. I got it because I wanted the douches that were always around me to know what they were messing with. Someone who would fight back. I was built for fighting."

"You were chosen to fight the good fight." He nodded. She glared, and he glared back. "That is why you were chosen. I didn't say you always followed that plan. You didn't, but do now, of your own volition. I'm proud of you. So- just so proud, because you fought the worst battles just to make it back to the battleground, defend the people who are defenseless. Something you never had. A defender." He blinked hard, trying not to show too much emotion, knowing it made her uncomfortable at times.

"I love- I love how you see me." She stroked a hand down his chest, then back across her own, ending on the name across her opposing arm.

When I see lightning

You know it always brings me down

'Cause it's free and I see that it's me

Who's lost and never found

"Ah, love, I love how you see me." He swallowed once. "The other? Not the band, the word? What is that, part of the daily life, or … will it be a memory, a scar?"

"You know." She reassured. "This means us, whatever we are, or were. This means you and me, and it means always."

Feel the magic

I feel it floating in the air

But it's fear and you'll hear

It calling you, beware

He was dizzy from her. High from her, and all she had to do was speak. His chest was too small for his heart, his lungs too narrow for the air he needed. "Always is true. I will always, always and forever, choose to travel with you, Faith."

There's no sight of the mornin' comin'

There's no sign of the day

You've been left on your own

Like a rainbow

Like a rainbow in the dark

We're never going to be alone again. The man who was cast off. The girl who cast others off before they could do the same to her.

She shuddered out a breath. Happiness and worry all bundled up inside and trying to come out. "We go to some pretty bad places, Wesley." Philadelphia warehouses with shotgun blasts ringing. Roadhouses where there was so much blood we couldn't even scrape it off. Places where they kidnapped a little girl and- and I saved her.

"We go to some wonderful places, too." He pointed out. Ballrooms in antebellum mansions where she danced with me. Theaters where we got kicked out, but laughed about it. Confluences in nature, in the cosmos, where I watched her literally cut of the hand of death, to make us part of legend, fulfill a prophecy. "I wouldn't trade a single stop, good or bad." All the bad ones, have some good moments in them.

She smiled tremulously. "Good or bad, huh? You're turning into a gambling man, just betting we get through those 'stops'."

"No, a man of faith," he smirked, but his eyes were serious. "It's not a gamble to bet on a sure thing. I don't always know what will happen or how things will go, but I do know I love you. I don't know what I'll find, darkness or light, Faith." He suddenly beamed. "But I don't care anymore."

Because he found me, and I'm all that stuff, all that twisted, sick mess… and he still sees a hero. Warrior. Beautiful. Someone he loves. And I found him. The real him. The him no one knew was there. Dark horse. Rebel. Someone I can respect… someone I love, even if I can't tell him in words.

You're a rainbow in the dark

Just a rainbow in the dark

No sign of the mornin'

You're a rainbow in the dark.

"You know what? I think we already found the best and the worst things we're gonna find." She smiled slightly, the softer, unguarded smile she never used in public. "Found me. Found you. Everything else…" she shrugged. "Just another day for us."

"As long as those days are spent together. That's what I'm after." He didn't smile now, face serious, eyes seeking a solid yes, betting on her once again.

She smiled underneath his gaze, always keeping him off balance, yet somehow balancing him out. "Find something this awesome and you think I'm letting it go?" She raised an eyebrow, watching him slowly start to grin. "It's an effing miracle- that you loosened up enough, and I got sane enough for us to survive each other and like each other and- y'know. More. No way you're getting out of this, Wes."

"I never said I wanted to." He collapsed onto his back, peace settling over him, a long fought for, exhausted peace, though he knew he was far from resting. "Found exactly what I wanted. Needed. Loved. Right here." He closed his eyes, a contented smile on his lips.

"Glad to hear it." She smiled contentedly as well, but not for long. "Wes?"

"Hm?"

"You're not going to sleep yet, are you?"

His eyes flew open. "Aren't I?"

"Nope."

This time his eyes closed in pleasure as he watched her playful smirk hovering over him. "My dear Faith…" He sighed.

She pounced. "Got you."

He winked. "Permanently."


Not the end.

Just one stop on a lifelong journey.

There's so much more to tell, but our heroes deserve a break for now.