Running For Our Lives




Chapter 17: More Than Skin

"The Five." Angel said, kneeling before the white body on the ground. He caught Faith's scent all over the corpse and Wesley on the edges. The oozing black heart was still warm and he smelled the death had happened a few minutes ago. They'd just missed them.

"Five?" Cordelia asked, trying not to stare at the other body with its missing arm and head nearly torn from its perch atop the neck.

"The Five. They're demon assassins. I thought they were a myth." Angel muttered under his breath, his eyes roving over the crescent shaped tattoo.

"White or black hat?" Cordy asked, her legs twitching like she wanted to run back to Gunn's truck.

"Black." The vampire said shortly, standing back up and catching the sound of sirens on the breeze. "We'd better go. They aren't that far ahead now; we just missed them by a few minutes." He grabbed her by the elbow and steered her to the truck.

"So these demon assassins are after Faith and Wesley? I don't get it..." Cordelia's voice trailed off and she looked behind her at the fast approaching lights, seeing them turn into the motel parking lot they'd just left.

"Get what?" He prompted, glancing over at her.

"Why hasn't Wesley called us, asked for help? He should have known we'd be worried and...well I just don't get it." She ended with frustration.

"I know the feeling." He fell silent and stared off into the night. "But it's not like he hasn't done this before, right?

"Right." Cordelia said sullenly, sinking down in the seat, eyes shadowed. "But...we still have to help them. Or ring their necks."

"I'm up for both actually."

"Sounds like a plan to me.
And remind me to apologize to Faith for nearly putting a voodoo curse on her before I bitch-slap her, okay?" Angel allowed himself a small chuckle and then turned his attention back to the road.


Something was wrong with her.

Wesley glanced over at her, worried beyond the word, watching her chest rise and fall and the glazed look in her eyes. Her gore-covered hands twisted in her lap and she flinched every time he made a move, like she was afraid of him.

And could he blame her? It had happened again; he'd tried to hurt her, the things he felt brought to the surface and coming out in violence. He felt sick to his stomach, yet he didn't have anything in his system to purge. Nothing except guilt.

She'd hate him now; he knew it. He dreaded the look in her eyes and the way she avoided touching him. But he couldn't blame her for it. He hated himself too. As he glanced over at her, he realized the guilt would have to come later; right now she was in some state of shock.

A gas station glowed along the road and he prayed it was open, pulling the stolen Malibu to a stop in the gravel before it. He went inside and took the keys to the bathroom from the clerk and then came back outside and helped the shocky Slayer out of the car, her eyes blank and unseeing.

In the little bathroom, he washed her hands, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down at the paleness of her skin and the glazed look in her eyes. He wiped away a streak of black blood from her cheek and whispered in her ear.

"Come back to me. Please." His words were desperate and pain-filled. His hands gripped her shoulders and shook her, hoping for a reaction. Nothing but that shocked expression. What the hell had that demon done to her? Done to him? "Faith...please...I need you."

Nothing...and then...something. She blinked and intelligence sparked somewhere deep within her.

"Wes? We should go." Her words were far away and she pushed past him, walking out to the car and sitting down in the passenger's seat.

It was with a heavy, terrified heart that he climbed back into the stolen Malibu and covered her with the cheap blanket he'd bought. She shivered and stared out the window and he wondered what, if anything, she was thinking.

An hour later they were both still silent. He suddenly realized he was heading back west, back to Los Angeles. It was stupid, he rationalized, to have run when he had people to help him. And Angel, who was the only person who knew what she was going through, could have protected her far better than he had. He'd only done what he did with everything: he fucked up and now she was...broken.

Faith was still shaking inside from the drain on her emotions that Saris's power had done to her. She dimly felt Wesley next to her, his body tense and his expression shadowed. She felt bad that she'd hurt him, but what else could she have done? He probably blamed her for what had happened, and she couldn't hate him for that.

Three days ago, his anger would have slid off her skin like water, but now...oh now she felt raw and weak at the thought of his ire. Her soul twanged like a tuning fork, centering on him and breaking into little pieces when she realized she couldn't read his thoughts. Not that she ever could before, but now...oh now she was like liquid oozing in his brain. Thick and clinging to everything that made him who he was. But she couldn't tell what he was thinking.

"What are you thinking?" She said suddenly, breaking the silence and making him start at the clarity of her voice. She turned jewel-bright eyes his way and he relaxed visibly.

"I was thinking we should stop running." He said quietly, gaze flicking from her to the road and back again.

"And do what?"

"Go back to Los Angeles, where the people who are good at handling these things can handle them." He said shortly, frown turned inward as she took a deep breath.

"You're handling things fine. I don't want to go back." She argued, hands clenched in her lap.

"No I'm not. I...I almost happened again. And I can't stand the thought of hurting you." Wesley looked over at her, hurt and fear in his eyes. But not anger.

"You haven't hurt me." Faith responded, brows furrowed as she turned deadly serious eyes to him. "I'm the one who fucked up. I let that bitch take you over; I let you down. You don't want to be my Watcher anymore....."

"What? No!" He protested, slamming on the brakes and throwing the car into park. He gripped her arms and looked into her eyes. "I'm your Watcher; nothing is going to change that."

"But you want to go back." She started to say, stepping out of the vehicle as that old claustrophobic feeling was creeping up her spine and making her feel like she wasn't getting enough oxygen in her system. "You want to dump me off on someone so that I'm not your problem, but I'm yours, Wesley."

"Mine?" He caught the slip and snagged onto it, gripping it with his heart as he got out of the car. She paced across the gravel on the side of the car, her arms wrapped around her middle as she stared into the blackness of the road. If it had been daylight, she could have seen for miles in either direction, but now nothing could penetrate that darkness. She didn't even see headlights of a distant car.

" know what I mean."

"No, I don't."

"I don't either. I want...I don't know what I want anymore. That bitch really fucked me up, ya know?"

He felt uncharacteristically stupid standing there along a deserted desert road in the middle of the night, a beautiful young woman trying to tell him something he couldn't quite understand. He was missing something, he thought, but then an echo in his brain sounded across his inner ears and he remembered those words that had pulled him out of the fire. Suddenly those thoughts were flung to the wind as she spoke again, anger harsh in her words.

"Why didn't you tell me the Watcher's Council is behind all this?"

"I wanted you to trust me and I didn't think you would if you knew the Council was involved." He answered after a pause. "I'm sorry."

"I hate being lied to."

"I know, but I..." His sentence was cut off as she slapped him, eyes blazing. And then she realized what she'd done and she took a step back, lip trembling.

"Oh God...Wesley I'm sorry...." She moaned, eyes filling with tears. He glared back at her and shook his head, feeling the side of his face throbbing. "See? All I ever do is hurt the people I love. I am disgusting."

"No. You're. Not." He said, gathering her up, but she broke free.

"Yes I am!" Her gaze cast down to the ground, shoulders shaking. "I can't even be good when I try! I just fuck up and then I'm thinking these things...."

"Things?" He asked, staring at her, posture rigid.

"Things. Just...things. Things that'll never happen because you and I...there's too much there."

"What do you mean?"

She stared at him for one long moment, eyes far away. "Those things you said, just the demon?"

"I...that wasn't me. But..."

"Of course not." She said in a resigned voice, a mad giggle escaping her lips and hurt filling the spaces his words left in her fragile skin. He saw she was shutting down, whatever she was going to admit retreating back into her mind. But he wanted her to admit it.

"Faith...did you want me to mean those things because...." He stammered out and shifted, wondering if he should cross the line he'd been teetering on since he'd first seen her in that alley. She looked back up at him, eyes cold, head tilted at a bitter angle.

"Because you can't. You're my Watcher, or at least you were. And I'm....I'm something less than human." Faith's words were laden with guilt and a hurt he didn't even know she could produce.

"No you're not! Whatever you once were, you're different. There was a time I didn't think you could ever change....but I was wrong. I was wrong and I'm sorry." His voice caught as she turned her bottomless eyes on him, jaw clenched.

"Still...its not enough, is it?"

"Enough for what?"

"Jesus FUCK Wesley, get a clue!" Faith threw her hands up and glared up at him. "Things I've been's just skin isn't it? There's nothing deeper because there can't be."

"You and I..."

"There is no you and I, Wesley. And that hurts me more than I want it to."

"Faith, would you listen to me for a bloody moment? We are wrong. But the moment I looked down into your eyes when we first met again...well I've never felt anything like this. Right is something I've put too much stock in and goddamnit, I want to be wrong for the right reasons."

"I didn't understand a word of that." She stared blankly at him and he sighed heavily, grabbing her shoulders and looked into her eyes.

"I. Want. You." Wesley forced through his teeth, seeing the intake of breath through her parted lips. He lifted a hand to trail his thumb over her lower lip, sparks dancing as bruised skin met skin.

A flicker of something she couldn't name sparked in her. She ran from it, systems shutting down because he was too close; never let them get close because they'll just hurt you. But she wanted him close; she wanted him to ooze through her brain like she was doing to him; she wanted to let him in. But that ingrained fear reared its head and she muttered. "It's just skin...itís not real."

"More than skin." He growled and grabbed her, grabbed her so hard, fingers twisted in her hair as he pulled her lips to his. She fought for one second before she returned the crush, hands bruising as she grabbed for him. Her touch was fire and ice and it broke the anger and guilt and sparked that low-slung desire deep within him. She kissed him back, lips working against his, tongues clashing together like swords. A moan escaped past his lips and she didn't know if it was him or her doing it.

She didn't care a moment later when his fingers found her breasts, tender and fierce at the same time, tips sliding along the top of her shirt to the sides, palm wide as he brushed along one nipple, leaving it hard and aching in his wake. She bit his lip gently, drawing it into her mouth and suckling at the skin, his tongue darting along her top lip in a gentle, slippery line.

He pushed her toward the car, her back slamming against the side. His lips lifted off of hers and he gently pushed the straps of her tank top down, exposing her shoulders and the swell of her breasts. His head dipped, tongue flicking out over skin that was too sensitive and hungering for him. His hands slid from her breasts to the line of her jeans, his fingers tangling themselves in the belt loops. She raised her hips to him, wanting him to touch her more, his mouth hovering above her breasts, the skin warmed by his breath.

He did so, pulling her soiled shirt off and his tongue slipping, dipping to the aching peak of one nipple as his fingers pushed between her legs, feeling her warmth through the fabric of her jeans. She bit her lip and surged up onto his hand, inviting him to explore anything he wanted, her fingers tugging at his hair, pressing his mouth hard against her breasts.

"Wes..." She purred his name, hips grinding against his, begging him to touch her.

With wrench, he unbuttoned her pants, zipper sliding down beneath his finger, cold air striking her exposed belly and making the muscles jump, quiver beneath his questing fingers. His hands left her hips and took her hands in his own, prying them out of his hair. He turned her around, belly pressed against the hood of the car, hands bracing herself.

A wordless moan escaped her lips again as he pressed his groin against her ass; she felt his erection hard against her cleft, muscle straining through layers of clothing. She wondered what he was going to do, but her question was answered as one of his hands grazed her belly, fingers dipping, sliding down the front of her pants, past the lacy panties and through twin folds of satiny softness.

"You're so wet." He breathed against her ear as she gasped, surged onto his hand, lip bitten against a harsh cry. He pressed his straining erection harder against her, rocking her hips with one hand and his fingers finding her clit, tips swirling over the petal soft flesh and making her jerk against him.

One arm on the hood, she reached down, her fingers spread across his arm, pushing his hand deeper into the warmth between her legs. One finger slowly, achingly slowly, entered her, pushing past wet, dripping folds to the hot, sweet center of her. He withdrew and entered her again, this time going deeper, his lips grazing the line of her shoulder as she moaned. Again and again he pushed into her, his thumb swirling over her clit and making her breath come in choppy little pants.

"Harder." She whispered, angling her head back to graze his lips with her tongue. He smiled darkly and pushed deeper into her center, rocking his hips against her, so hard he thought he was going to die from the rush of blood through his senses.

Faith's world was exploding, the sand and the moon slipping across her skin and settling in the place where his fingers pushed inside of her, stretching her and taking away all the pain and hurt in her soul. This was more than skin, this was something deeper, like her soul being trapped in his eyes and all she wanted to do was stay there forever. More than anything she wanted to stay safe in his arms.

More than skin. More than anything.

Faith came, shaking, quivering as he held her hard against his stomach, fingers stilled and his lips attached to her neck. One more shudder and she moved against him, restless. Slowly, he pulled his hand out from between her legs and brought them up to the air, brushing the wet fingers against her nipples and making them tight and hard in the breeze.

"Was that just skin?" Wes whispered, hand claiming her breast for his own as he crushed her against his back. The words were filled with desire so hard and needy that she nearly came again, her lip trembling as she found the strength to answer him by turning, fingers groping for the buckle of his pants.

A hiss of breath escaped his lips as his hard cock sprang into her fingers, full and soft and warm. He moaned as she stroked her fingers down the length of him, fingers like butterflies against his hard flesh. His hips surged up against her hand and she lifted her mouth to his, tongue sliding into his mouth. He kissed her back, plundering her mouth and feeling a building ache in his stomach as she stroked him, harder and harder until he couldn't take the feel of her on his skin.

He broke the streaming kiss and grabbed her hips, impatient hands pulling her jeans down and throwing them to the wind. She chuckled in her throat and captured his lips once more as he lifted her, setting her on the warm hood of the car. She wrapped her slender legs around his waist and reached for him again.

He let her guide him inside her, soft, supple flesh sliding past the dripping folds and entering her with a powerful thrust of his hips. She moaned, muttered and clung to him, hands and lips everywhere she could reach and cursing the places she couldn't. Wesley shuddered and pulled out once more, then pushed inside her once again, pleasure trailing down his spine and pressing against his vitals, letting him know it was too much, too much but he could take more.

His hands trailed her body as he pressed her to the hood, his fingers finding the long, flat scar along her belly. He mourned the wound that had almost taken her and he cursed anyone who would dare hurt her again.

"Faith...oh god..." He moaned as she fastened her lips to the puckered scar along his throat, her tongue probing the slash, phantom pain swirling through his chest and making his voice come out tight and harsh. He slammed into her hard; she keened high in her throat and let his skin go, fingers crushing into the muscle of his arms.

Her back arched as he rocked against her over and over again, his hands finding hers, drawing her arms up and pinning them over her head. She laughed again, a moan close behind, a smile stretched across lips he wanted to bite and see bleed. He captured her mouth once more and felt her breath rasping, becoming more frantic as he brought to the edge.

Her muscles spasmed around his cock and he held her tight, his body growing taut, muscles screaming. When she came, her cry uttered to his mouth, he followed her, orgasm rocking him, shaking him to the core and making him sag against her, weak and spent.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled up to the sky, more than skin tingling with his nearness and a feeling of utter contentment taking up residence in her soul. She laughed suddenly when she realized he'd been the one calling the shots and she'd let him; something she'd never let a man do to her before. But with had felt natural....And who would have thought her Watcher was the domineering type? Oh but it felt so good, trapped here with him, yet free to run if she chose to, knowing the ropes he'd just put on her could be slipped at a moment's notice. But she wanted to stay tied.

"What?" Wesley asked, voice vibrating through her chest, his fingers tickling her sweaty skin and making her melt all over again.

"I was just thinking....that was....that was more than skin." She said softly, looking into the eyes he lifted to meet hers, a smile touching her swollen lips.

"Yes, it was."

Chapter 18