Chapter Two: Getting Even
It was almost like something out of a movie. He was all backlit and menacing in his black leather jacket, all rugged and hero-like. She had to hand it to him; it was a hell of an entrance. Way to go, Wes. And when did he start wearing leather? Hot. Not like she needed rescuing or anything. She could’ve taken that guy no problem, might have taken a little extra effort, but… Oh, who the hell was she kidding? Dealing with some asshole with a gun in the middle of a narrow little alley wouldn’t exactly have been a piece of cake. So, yeah. Maybe she had needed him, but there was no fucking way she was gonna let him in on that little piece of info.
“Way to ruin my fun, Wes. I was all ready to beat that guy bloody.” She crossed her arms defiantly, flipping her hair over her shoulder. See? She could look tough too; it was like, her calling. Well, that and the whole Slayer gig, but she figured they kind of went hand in hand. Wes suddenly smiled, catching her off guard. What the fuck was so funny?
“If you want I could wake him up, let you have another shot at him.” Was he… joking around with her? Or maybe he was mocking her. Hell, she’d never been able to tell the difference. She brushed past him, deciding to go for casually dismissive.
“Don’t bother; I like my fights to be a little more challenging. I mean, how tough could he be if you took him out?” She thought she heard him laugh. Okay, maybe he had been joking. Whatever. Not like she gave a damn. “How did you find me? Or is this like, your usual hangout? Dark alley to go with the whole bad boy thing you got going on.”
“I was looking for you. Checked a couple shelters before I saw you roaming the streets. How come you didn’t call Angel when you got out?” She stopped abruptly and Wesley bumped right into her. Jeez, he’d already saved the day; why wouldn’t he just go already?
“Look, I don’t have to explain anything to you. And I don’t need you following me around “protecting” me, either. Why don’t you just go home to your perfect life and you little fuck buddy and mind your own damn business?”
“I’m sorry he hasn’t been to see you.” Great. That was all she needed. Fucking Wesley, of all people, pitying her.
“Whatever. I didn’t figure he’d be coming by every week. It’s not like it’s a big fucking deal; he didn’t owe me jack. And I didn’t call him or go see him because I didn’t feel like it.” She turned away and started walking again. “I’m not even sure why I came to see you.”
“So I’m guessing you don’t have a place to stay since you’re out on the street in the middle of the night.”
“I’m fine. I was just looking for a little action. Been awhile since I killed something, startin’ to get a little twitchy.” And if he didn’t leave soon she was gonna have to kick his ass. She couldn’t deal with him being all… nice. It was weird. He grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. Oh wonderful, he had that fucking ‘let me help you’ look on his face. This she couldn’t take, not if he was about to do something ridiculous like offer her a place to stay.
“At least let me give you some money for a hotel room.” Okay, not what she expected but close enough. She yanked her arm out of his hand.
“I’m not your fucking charity case, dammit! And if you grab me like that again, don’t think I won’t bust your ass.” He smiled at her. Smiled. Like she was some kind of child throwing a fucking tantrum. Asshole.
“I thought you might feel that way. It was worth a try though. Would you at least take my coat?” He reached out to stroke his hand down her arm, and she shivered. What the fuck? “You’re positively icy.” She stared at him for a moment. What the hell was this? He actually sounded concerned. About her. Wow. And the weirdness just keeps on coming. She eyed his coat for a second. She was cold, and that coat looked real nice and warm. She’d probably look incredible in it too. Better than him anyway. If she took the coat would he think she was giving in? Would he see that as a weakness? She hesitated.
“Won’t you be cold?” Oh, what the fuck was that? Now she was worrying about him? Yeah, way to prove she didn’t give a damn. What a dumbfuck.
“My car’s right down the street; I’ll be fine.”
“Well, I guess that would be okay. It’d save me the trouble of kicking your ass and taking it.” Yeah, nice recovery. Like the threat meant shit after her idiotic moment of concern. He took it off, handed it to her, and she took it reluctantly. This still seemed all wrong. Why had even come looking for her? Why was he acting like he gave a damn? “This doesn’t mean I owe you anything, you know. I mean, don’t be expecting any favors or anything.”
“I don’t expect anything from you Faith.” Wow, now she knew she needed to get away from him. That almost hurt her feelings. Shit.
“Whatever.” She pulled the coat on and walked away, hoping he wouldn’t follow. When she was a little ways down the street she wrapped the jacket tightly around her. Man, this thing felt fucking great, all nice and warm. From Wesley. It was all warm from being on Wesley. She shook her head in disgust. So what? She shoved her hands in the pockets. What the hell? There was something in there, felt like paper. When she pulled it out and saw what it was she stopped walking and stared at it in shock. Money. There was maybe three hundred bucks in Wesley’s coat pocket. She turned around, but he was already gone. That sneaky bastard. He’d fucking tricked her!
She thought about going straight to his apartment and throwing it in his face. She’d told him she didn’t want his fucking charity. So what does he do? He forces it on her, the fucking jerk. Yeah, she’d throw it right in his smug British face. That’d show him. On the other hand… his apartment was a long walk from here, and it was getting pretty late. With this kind of cash she could get a pretty kickass room. Sleeping in a nice, cozy bed was sounding better and better every second. She could always pay him back later. If she paid him back then it wasn’t charity; it was like a fucking loan or some shit. Yeah, maybe she’d just pay him back later. She’d use enough for a room tonight and then tomorrow she’d give him a piece of her mind. Let him know she didn’t put up with that kind of bullshit.
Heading for a motel with Wes’s coat wrapped snugly around her and his money in her pocket, she found herself thinking about what he’d done. She guessed it was kind of nice that he’d gone to all that trouble. Sweet, even. She felt a sappy grin spread over her face and immediately stopped walking. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back in frustration. Aw, crap!
Wesley couldn’t help smiling as he drove home. He wished he could’ve seen her face when she found the money. He’d wager she was thoroughly pissed off at having allowed him to trick her. At least she’d be able to get in off the street. Well, assuming she used the money. He frowned for a moment. No, she’d use the money. It hadn’t been too hard to get her to take the coat; he was sure she’d get a room, maybe give him hell about it later. He shook his head slightly; he had really sunk low when the high point of his day was pissing of Faith.
He wondered what went on in that mind of hers. When he’d offered her his coat she’d looked at him as though she thought he might suddenly drag her back into the alley and demand some sort of payment for his help. Then, for a moment, she’d seemed concerned about him. She was such a contradiction. She used to enjoy assaulting innocent people when she needed money, but he offered it to her freely and she was insulted. He shrugged. Well, he’d done his good deed, helped her on her way, now he never had to see her again. He could go back to his cold existence and his nights with Lilah and get back to being the hardhearted bastard he longed to be.
What the hell was that noise? He pulled the pillow off his head and listened for a moment. Someone was pounding on the door. He stumbled out of bed and pulled on some pants. If that was Lilah, he was going to tell her to go to hell. He hadn’t gotten much sleep last night and he didn’t really feel like dealing with her right now. He yanked the door open, ready to give her a piece of his mind.
“Wow, half naked again. Is this how we’re greeting each other now? ‘Cause I am all over that idea.” Faith brushed past him and wandered into the kitchen.
“Faith? What the- How- Faith?” God, it was way too early for him to try to deal with this.
“Not so good with the verbal skills in the morning, huh, Wes? What? You thought you were gonna trick me with that shit last night, and I was just gonna leave without paying you back?” She showed no signs of leaving so he shut the door and followed her into the other room. She was pulling things out of a bag. What was… did she bring groceries? He watched as she started pulling pans out of the cupboard. She was still prattling on about something, but he was having a hard time focusing.
“What the hell are you doing?” She stopped for a second and looked at him like he was a simpleton.
“What the fuck does it look like, genius? I’m making breakfast.” She went back to what she was doing. “It’s not gonna be gourmet fare or anything, but I make a mean omelette, and you know, pretty much anyone can make toast and bacon, right? Well, you’d think so anyway. I knew this guy once, almost burned down the whole-”
“Why are you in my kitchen at,” he glanced at the clock, “six in the morning making breakfast?”
“Well, I don’t have a job so I can’t pay you back what I spent on the room. That was a real cheap trick you pulled, by the way. So I figured I’d use some of the money for this stuff and make you breakfast. You should feel special, you know. I don’t ever make breakfast for guys, not even when they… well, let’s just leave it at I never make breakfast for guys.” She reached into her pocket. “Here’s the rest of the money. I’m keeping the jacket.” He just stared at her silently as she started making breakfast. He couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it. Faith. In his kitchen. Cooking. It just made no sense.
“Keep the money.”
“I’m going back to bed.” She looked up at him, her eyes angry, her voice hard.
“I’m making you breakfast.”
“Keep the money.”
“I said no.” He headed for his room and smiled when he heard her sigh. “Fine. I’ll keep your goddamn money!” He came back into the kitchen. “But after this – that’s it. We’re even. No more following me around. No more “helping” me. I don’t need your fucking help; I can handle myself, okay? And if I ever get a job I’m giving back every fucking penny.”
“I considered us even last night. I don’t expect you to pay me back.” She shrugged.
“Yeah, well. I pay my debts now. All rehabilitated, remember?” He smiled slightly and they drifted into an almost comfortable silence while he watched her cook. There was a knock on the door, and he studied her a moment longer before moving to answer it. He found Lilah waiting with a seductive smile.
“Hey there.” Wesley glanced briefly over his shoulder.
“Lilah, this really isn’t a good time. Maybe you could come back later.” She took a step towards him.
“I thought maybe we could -”
“Okay, breakfast’s all ready,” Faith said, coming up behind him. “I’m gonna get the hell outta here. Have a -” She stopped talking suddenly when she saw Lilah, and Wesley caught her arm.
“You’re not going to eat?” She glanced at him, a funny look in her eyes as she smiled, and he could pinpoint the precise moment when she decided to cause trouble.
“No, I just wanted to do something nice for you. You know, to pay you back.” He smiled in understanding. Ah, right. So whatever she was about to do now was his payback for tricking her. Well, he could handle whatever she threw at him. She moved closer and surprised him by sliding her arms around his neck.
“What -?” He managed to say, then she was kissing him and his thoughts scattered. Before he had time to even think about pushing her away she pulled back, trailing her hand down his chest.
“Thanks for last night, stud. You were incredible.” She almost knocked Lilah over as she left the apartment but she turned around and waved, giving him a wink before she took off.
Okay, now that was fun. She had to hand it to the guy, he’d known she was gonna do something – she’d seen it in his eyes – and he’d just fucking grinned at her. She’d gotten a kick out of surprising him with that kiss. He definitely hadn’t expected that. She smiled. The look on Lilah’s face had been the best though. Bitch. Wes was probably in deep shit right now. Her smile faded. That should’ve made her happy. Causing trouble. Kind of thing she used to get off on. Still did in most cases, but for some reason she felt almost… guilty. Fuck that. She had way better reasons to feel guilty than a stupid little prank. Yeah, things like the way she’d tortured him almost to death. And hey, he seemed to be getting over that one just fine. She shook her head. Besides, he could handle himself. He’d probably just act all manly and haul the bitch into bed for a little naughty time and all would be forgiven.
They were probably going at it right now, him and his evil lawyer girlfriend. What the hell did he see in her anyway? Sure, Lilah was easy on the eyes, but she’d never pegged Wes as the type to go over to the dark side for a nice piece of ass. Then again, most guys did all their thinking with their dicks so she guessed it wasn’t all that surprising. She’d kinda figured Wes was different though. Yeah, right. Guys were all a-fucking-like. She’d learned that a long time ago, didn’t know why she’d let herself forget.
“What the hell is going on?” Lilah asked, striding angrily into the apartment. Oh, good, now he had to deal with her jealous streak. The day was already going down in the books as truly hellish and it wasn’t even seven-thirty. He sighed. This was supposed to be his day to sleep late.
“Lilah, come right in. Have some breakfast, why don’t you?” he said sarcastically, slamming the door.
“You mean the breakfast that your “date” made for you? Apparently as a thank you for a job well done?” He just stared at her. God, she was annoying. He wished he could just go back to bed. Instead, he headed into the kitchen. If he couldn’t sleep, he might as well eat.
“That would be the breakfast I was speaking of, yes.” She followed him around as he fixed himself a plate.
“You’re not even going to explain?” He sat down at the table, popping a piece of bacon into his mouth as he pretended to give her question some thought. Then he smiled.
“No. Annoying, isn’t it?”
“Was that Faith?”
“Yes. She got out of prison yesterday.”
“And she ran right to you for a little… comfort?” He shrugged. “I thought you two hated each other.”
“We do.” Maybe if he ignored her she’d take the hint and leave. Or maybe she’d get so upset with him that she’d just storm out. Either way it was a win-win situation; maybe he could still get some damn sleep.
“So then… she was just trying to get you in trouble.” Bugger. Now she was smiling and sitting down. Looked like she planned on hanging around for awhile. Why couldn’t she just get upset like a normal woman? Well, if she was staying anyway he might as well get something out of it.
“I knew you’d figure it out sooner or later.” He smiled slightly. Pushing aside his plate, he stood and pulled her to her feet. “Did you stop by for a little comforting of your own?” Before she could answer he took her mouth in a harsh kiss, his hands pushing her onto the table. This he knew how to deal with, just shut down the emotions and go for the rough stuff. Lilah always responded so well to the rough stuff. No worrying about hurt feelings or wondering about some sad look in her eyes. Just hot sex and a cold heart. Her hands moved to unzip his pants and he wondered what Faith would do when she’d used up the money he’d given her.
He pulled back suddenly, halting her movements, and Lilah looked at him in confusion. He frowned. What the hell was he doing? Just forget about Faith and get on with the sex. Faith would be fine; she’d always managed before. He moved back to kiss Lilah again, his hands moving up under her skirt. Yes, she had managed before, but that was when she was a criminal and stole to make ends meet. If she was really reformed she wouldn’t have that to fall back on. Or she might start again if she got truly desperate. Why did he even care? It wasn’t as if she were his responsibility.
“What are you doing?” He pulled his attention back to Lilah.
“We were getting to the good stuff, and you just stopped and started staring off into space.” Damn.
“Yes, you did,” she said, pushing him away as she slid off the table, her expression angry.
“I’m sorry. I’m a little tired.” She shook her head.
“I’ve seen you tired. Hell, I’ve seen you after you’ve been out fighting vampires and demons all night, and you’ve come home looking like they won. You’ve never been that tired.” She straightened her skirt and grabbed her purse as she headed for the door. “You’ve obviously got something else on your mind, or should I say someone? Give me a call when you’re a little more… up to being with me.” She stormed out of the apartment, slamming the door behind her. He stood there for a moment after she left then glanced at the clock; still plenty of time before he needed to get up. Maybe he could salvage the rest of the day and get a little sleep.
She was already dialing the number as she climbed into the car. When the woman on the other end answered, Lilah cut her off before she even finished saying hello.
“Assemble the team. Our favorite Slayer has been released from prison.” She started the car. “Yes, I know it’s sooner than we expected, but the team has been preparing for months now. It shouldn’t be a problem.” Lilah hung up the phone and glanced back at Wesley’s apartment with a smile. She just loved it when she could combine business and pleasure. Taking care of Faith would be good for both.