Chapter IV: Dues Paid
"Wesley?" Faith repeated, split lip trembling as she tried to make sense
of what she was seeing. The nights of walking by the old office,
hoping...but this was real and she didn't know what to say. "What are
"I...uh...I'm here to rescue you." He answered lamely, his eyes flitting
around in their sockets as if he was trying think of something to say to
"Well in that case, can you get off of me?
here." She said, wincing as his weight
on top of her seemed to suddenly get heavier. A wave of nausea choked her
throat and she bit it back with force.
"Oh. Of course." He said, immediately rolling
off of her, blood staining the front of his shirt and making the soft
cotton material stick to his stomach. He stood, somewhat wearily, and
offered her a hand up. She took it and struggled to her feet, feeling pain
lacing through her muscles and to the many wounds on her person.
"Dear God, what happened to you?" Came the
startled statement from Wes. He colored as she glanced sharply up at him,
quelling anything else he wanted to add.
"Just a good night's slay is all. Can't come out unscathed every time, but
I'm fine. " She answered, weaving a bit and
pitching forward as she felt lightheadedness take her. He caught her
shoulders in his hands and shook her a little. Her eyes rolled back in her
head and she collapsed against him, all thought escaping into darkness.
Wesley caught her and scooped her up in his arms, more than a little fear
threading around his heart as the rogue Slayer's head rolled limply
against his shoulder. Flashes of that night in her possession came to him
and he shook his head. That was a long time ago and she was sick then.
That still did nothing to ease the fear as he looked into her dirty,
"Now what?" He asked to no one in particular, a
great weight settling across his shoulders as she moaned, teeth gritted
against the pain he knew she was feeling. He sighed and staggered to his
forgotten motorcycle. The Chopper had crashed into the brick wall when he
had jumped off of it and now the wheels were still moving, the engine
humming with life. "Shit." He muttered, wondering how he was going to lift
the bike and hold the Slayer at the same time.
Faith solved the problem herself, her voice exhausted but coherent as she
regained her consciousness. "Put me down."
He did what he was told, setting her gently on her feet, where she swayed,
eyes focusing and unfocusing in the dim light.
He left her there and picked up the bike from where it had fallen.
Righted, he straddled it and beckoned for her to hop on, patting the space
in front of him. Normally he would have her ride on the back, but he
didn't trust her to keep her seat in her weakened state.
"No...I'm fine. I have to go home..." She protested, blinking in the
darkness, trying to clear the haze from her eyes. The world was suddenly
spinning and she felt like she was going to be sick. Once more she pitched
forward, catching herself on the handlebars.
"Get on. Now." Wesley said forcefully, eyeing
her over the top of his glasses. She looked him up and down and then
sighed wearily, giving up the ghost of protestation.
Hesitantly, she sat down, groaning as she swung her leg over the handles.
She found the footholds and settled back against his chest, her head slung
to the side so he could see enough to steer. He revved the bike and they
took off, escaping the alley and darting out into the lighted street.
She passed out once more before they had gone a block, her body slack
against him as he struggled to hold her up and steer at the same time. As
they passed Dodger Stadium, he suddenly realized he didn't know where the
hell he was going. He didn't know where she lived or if there was some
place to go to. The hospital seemed like a good idea, but he knew they'd
ask too many questions and from what he could see, none of the injuries on
her body were life-threatening. At least not for a
He thought about taking her back to Angel Investigations, but that thought
was quickly thrown out. He didn't think they'd be likely to listen to any
explanation he'd have to offer. Or hers for that matter; the blood was a
clean giveaway that she wasn't on the straight and narrow. And
besides...once she'd see Angel, she'd just cower under his shadow and
worship at his feet. Wesley scowled and decided that they definitely were
NOT going back to the hotel.
Lorne's words replayed themselves in his ears and he wondered aloud at the
meaning. "She needs me." He said softly into her hair, the scent he knew
so well filling his nostrils and making him smile despite his
With a shoulder wrenching turn, he steered the bike back toward his
The Next Day
Light streamed into the room and struck the face of the battered, bruised
woman on the couch. She moaned, eyes flicking back and forth beneath
eyelids smudged with kohl. A dream gripped her mind and she fought against
memories that couldn't hurt her.
Faces she knew and loved and hated swam before her; Buffy, Angel, her
first Watcher, her mother, Xander, Allan Finch, Willow and the Mayor all
laughed at her from high above and threw stones at her already bruised
body. Suddenly there was someone standing in front of her, someone she
knew. He blocked the stones and took the damage to himself rather than let
her be beaten anymore. He turned his head,
vociferate screams filled with pain as she saw his face.
"Wesley!" She screamed aloud, sitting bolt upright on a strange couch. Her
wild eyes looked frantically around the room and she realized she didn't
know the place. But she knew the unshaven, blood stained man sitting in
chair opposite the couch, his lantern jaw set and his blue eyes boring
holes in her. One wasted thumb was pressed to his lips, an ink-stained
fingernail between his teeth. "Wes?"
"You're awake." He said simply, a weary edge to his voice. He shifted
position and peered at her through thick eyelashes, his hand lowered to
clench at the arms of the chair, knuckles bone white. "I was worried."
"Oh." She said, shaking her hair from her face. She grimaced as she ran a
hand through it, encountering more gunk and grunge than she wanted to
"You were having a nightmare." Another statement in a
tense voice. She glanced up at him and winced at the open concern
in his eyes.
"Yeah. I was." She shrugged and felt the pull
of a bandage on her neck. She raised one bruised, dirty hand to the wound
and winced at the stab of pain that shot through her. She looked over at
him again and noticed the blood stained shirt and the dirty, haggard look
of him. "Geez Wes, you look like shit."
"I could say the same about you." He replied immediately, one eyebrow
arching as he looked her up and down. "So, are you
going to tell me what the hell you were doing in that alley?"
"Don't you mean, when the hell did you get out of prison?" She
said, a bitter twist to her lips.
"That too, if you don't mind." He answered,
head tilting as he pierced her with his eyes.
"Itís a long story."
"I've got the time and I could use a little enlightenment." He told her,
scooting off the chair and falling to his knees in front of her. "You talk
and I'll clean you up."
She opened her mouth to protest, but he lifted her ragged shirt before she
could make a sound. An uncharacteristic blush found a home just below her
ears and she forced down the flutter in her stomach at his touch. She
ignored him and launched into her tale, her voice as impassive as she
could make it. She told him of the parole, the job, Rob, the apartment and
everything else she could think of.
"And the slaying? When did you start that again?" He asked, not looking up
from the work he was doing, daubing medicine on one of the slashes on her
flat stomach. His fingers brushed against the mound of one breast and he
swallowed hard, willing his eyes not to follow the trail of his hands. If
she noticed the touch, she didn't say anything.
"Oh, that. About three weeks ago. Kinda fell
into it, ya know? The first time it was just
necessary for survival. The next time, I was hoping for it. And after that
I craved it like some kind of drug. Its like I got it in my system again
and I wanted it more and more until I couldn't stop if I wanted to. And
then I got caught in a nest and that's when you found me." She finished
up, thinking perhaps she'd said more than she'd meant to.
"I know how that goes." He said after a pregnant pause, looking up from
his work and meeting her eyes. "Why didn't you tell anyone you were out?"
"Well I didn't want to bother you, what with the wicked hatred and all."
She answered, shrugging her shoulders, the skin under his hands quivering
as she moved. A beat and then, "I'm sorry, Wesley. For
what I did."
Wesley sat back onto his heels and regarded her coolly. His tongue darted
out and licked at the cracked, dry skin of his lips. "I know you are."
"I won't blame you if you hate me." She said quietly, a softness coming to
"Neither would I." He replied, eyebrows
furrowed as he registered the unmasked hurt flickering in her eyes. "But I
know all too well what forgiveness means and I can't blame you for what
you did. You know now that you were wrong and that's all I can ask for.
Itís in the past." He stood wearily and looked down at her, lower lip
worried between his teeth.
"Wes...I..." She started to say, but he cut her off.
"Your dues are paid. Forget about it." A faint smile haunted his features
and he turned his back to her.
"Thank you." She said, standing shakily to her feet. A night of rest had
already given her the strength the fight had sapped from her back, but she
was still healing. "For saving me and for the totally
unexpected non-hatred and forgiving." She laughed airily, her
swollen lips stretched into a grin.
He turned back to her and the smile that had haunted him spreading across
his face. "Hungry?" He asked unexpectedly, blue eyes wide with the
"Always am after a good slay. Or don't you remember?" She asked,
stretching wide and feeling muscles popping and stretching from their
"I do, actually." He answered, turning his back to her and padding his way
into the spartan kitchen connected to the
"Swanky place Wes. I dig the cluttered Watcher look." She gestured to the
piles of books and notepads that were strewn about the room.
"Well, I didn't know I would have company. I would have cleaned up if
I'd...known." Wesley said, turning around and shoving his hands into the
deep pockets of his pants.
"I'd hate to ask, but...can I mooch a shower off you? I feel wicked
gross." She said, scratching at a healing scrape on her elbow.
"Of course. Itís right in there." He said,
gesturing to the door opposite the kitchen. As she walked off, he turned
back to the fridge and wondered what the hell he was going to feed her. He
opened the icebox and cursed under his breath at the bareness of his
shelves. How long had those eggs been in there? Wes shuddered to think.
Faith edged past Wesley's bed, noticing how much room it took up. She
smiled, letting a nasty little thought linger in her mind before she
entered the bathroom. Either someone got some a lot, or they wished they
did. She wondered which scenario was the case.
The bathroom was as cluttered as the rest of the house and just as
interesting. Wet towels were crumpled on the floor, the bathmat soiled
with water. A hairbrush that hadn't been cleaned in ages was lying on the
sink, along with a toothbrush and a big wad of used floss. Magazines were
stacked up next to the toilet and she smirked as she saw a Playboy peeking
out from between two issues of Science Weekly. The
With a wrinkled nose, she cleaned it all up and shook her head. "Man, Wes,
you're a slob." She said as she looked through the piles of dirty clothing
for a clean towel. She finally found one that looked halfway decent and
she stood, her eyes meeting the mirror. Her reflection stared back at her
and she grimaced.
A black eye was making itself known on the left side of her face, which so
dirty she was having a hard time seeing it. Her hair was clumped and
bloody, of which she already knew, but there was a large cut on her scalp,
and some moo-goo gai
pan noodles clinging to a few strands, a souvenir of her stay in the
Dumpster. She made a face and turned back to the shower.
The water was warmer than the water at her hovel and she felt herself
relaxing in the scalding curtain, skin turning pink in minutes. Aching
muscles lost tension as she stood there; her ankle, still tender as she
put weight on it, slowly strengthened in the rejuvenating steam. The cuts
and unbandaged wounds were fully washed clean
of rusty flakes of blood as she stood there. She finally opened one eye
and peered at the little wrack of shampoo and smiled as she read the
"Lilac Herbal Extract, eh? You're such a stud, Wes." She flipped the top
and smelled it, lilac swirling around her nostrils. She squirted some on
her hair and scrubbed so hard that the cut on her head throbbed in time to
veins below the scalp. She rinsed her hair, feeling better already, and
did the same with the bar of soap she found. Suds dripped off her body,
taking with it the dirt of the night before and the smell of garbage.
Finally, after scrubbing herself in every possible nook, not to mention
the crannies, she stepped out into the swirling, warm air of Wes's
bathroom and wrapped the towel around her body.
"Shit." She muttered, staring morosely down at the bloody, pungent and
ripped clothing on the floor. She loathed the thought of crawling back
into them when she was so clean. She thought for a moment, chewing on her
lip as she shivered in the rapidly cooling air.
Finally, she crossed the little tiled room and cracked open the door
enough so that she could peer out into the dark confines of Wesley's
bedroom. Her eyes widened as she saw Wesley standing inside the room. His
back to her, she watched as he slipped his shirt over his head, the
muscles of his back as sleek as a cat. Her breath caught in her throat as
he moved, a hardness and toughness about him
that she had never noticed back in Sunnydale. When the hell had the man
gotten so fuckable?
The dream, the one she'd been having for months while in the limbo that
was prison, came back to her full force. The thought of him, the dream
him, had always been something she thought she made up. The prison
psychiatrist had told her that she had put a face she wanted to trust on
her ideal man and that it meant nothing. She had believed that back then
and dismissed the dreams as some Freudian freak show. But now...staring at
him through the cracks of his own bathroom, she
was struck by just how much he resembled the dream. And it aroused her,
making her blush as she watched him, feeling more than a bit voyeuristic.
"You can come on out of there." Wesley suddenly said, not turning around
to look at her. She started a bit and stepped back from the door, heart
hammering in her chest. A moment later, she stepped out into the cold air
of the bedroom, clutching the towel around her with shaking knuckles. "You
can wear those."
She followed his finger to the clothing on the bed and smiled. "Thanks."
She said, snatching the carefully laid out pile and darting back into the
bathroom as quick as she could. Safely back in the little room, she sagged
against the door and willed the fluttering in her belly to go away.
Without hesitating, she pulled on the drawstring sweats and the large
button-down shirt. Both were too big on her and the shirt fell over her
hands, but it was roomy and it smelled a bit like him. She shrugged her
shoulders and stepped out of the bathroom once more.
Wesley was facing her now and she tried not to stare at the newly yummy
shirtlessness of him. "I made some eggs and
some waffles. You can start on them while I wash up." He said, smiling
kindly as he stepped past her, the back of her knees hitting the side of
the bed. She eyed him for a moment and then spoke what was on her mind.
"Shave while you're in there. The Grizzly Adams thing is so not working
for you." He turned back to her and smiled a wide smile. He winked at her,
a glint in his eyes.
The door closed behind him and the shower was immediately heard on the
other side. Faith watched the white wood of the door for a moment and then
padded her way back into the kitchen/living room. A plate piled high with
eggs and two blueberry waffles greeted her from the wooden table and she
suddenly realized she was starving. She dived in immediately, savoring the
taste as she waited for him to reappear. As she ate, her eyes lighted on a
notepad atop the table. She picked it up, eyes going wide.
Wes was tired beyond the word. A long night spent bloody and worried about
his---no, the Slayer, had left him feeling a
bit flustered. Although their conversation in the living room had been
filled with all the things he'd managed to work through last night. In the
light of reality, he knew he just couldn't hate her, even though anyone
else not currently wearing his shoes might be inclined too. He just didn't
have it in him anymore.
What he did have was a confusing assortment of emotions and thoughts that
were slowly planning on driving him crazy. Not the least of those emotions
was the intense physical reaction he was having to her nearness. The sight
of her in a towel, reflected in the surface of the mirror on his dresser,
was more than enough; add that in to the sight of her panties strewn
casually on the floor and it was almost too much. He bit down the feeling
with a growl and stepped into the shower. Then he thought about the fact
that she was wearing his pants minus those lacy panties.
He turned the cold on full blast and searched for a razor.
Faith looked up from the notepad when Wesley walked in, her breakfast
forgotten as she poured over page after page of carefully written notes
and words that made her breath stop in her throat. He was staring at her,
a tight blue sweater stretched across his shoulders and a pair of grey
slacks covering his legs.
"What are you reading?" He asked, swallowing hard, his eyes penetrating as
he sat down next to her. She noticed he'd shaved for her and she smiled
"Your notes. So Angel has a son, eh?" She
answered, meeting his harsh eyes. "How'd that happen? Who's Darla?"
"Kind of a long story."
"Kinda have the time."
So he launched into the tale and she stared at him, fingers picking at her
eggs in a way that forcibly reminded him of Fred. He ignored the pang in
his stomach and concentrated on telling her everything. When he told her
how Connor had been taken, she was quiet and her eyes left his.
"So that's why your neck looks like someone decided hack you up for the
fun of it. Want me to kill the bitch?" She asked, taking a bite of her
waffle, her tongue flicking out to lick away the little drip of syrup on
her wrist. Wes shook his head and answered in a weary voice.
"Don't bother. Justine had her reasons and I don't blame her for her
displaced loyalty. Even if I would like to see her
rotting in some festering hole in the wall." He chuckled slightly,
hand tracing the puckered scar at his throat. Faith smiled up at him; the
smile faded as something occurred to her.
"He blames you doesn't he?"
"Yes, I suppose he does. Can you blame him?"
"No, but jeez man, your dues are paid. I mean, you almost died; how sorry
can you be?"
"You sound like Cordelia." He answered, taking
a bite out of his cold eggs.
"Fuck, I take it all back then." She chortled, leaning back in the chair,
the smile reclaiming her features. "How is she? Still with the visions?"
"Yes actually. And she's well...she's part demon." He answered, relaying
the interesting effects of the transformation, including the wall-burn
incident of the night before.
"Wow, I'm wicked impressed. Don't know if I would do all that for the man
I loved though." She answered, nodding her head and running a casual hand
through her damp hair.
"What? Oh, Cordelia and Angel? They're
not...they're not in love." Wes said with about as much confidence as a
baby taking his first steps.
"Yeah, cuz you sound real convinced there,
Chachi. I may not know much, but I do know how
love works. Which kinda
surprises me because I thought Angel and Buffy were the forever kind of
love. I guess she moved on and so did he." A shadow passed her
features as she remembered the night with Riley, a bitter taste in her
mouth. She hastily changed the subject. "You crushing
He colored and waved his hand. "Where would I find the time, what with the
backstabbing and betrayal?" His tone was a bit more
bitter than he meant it to be, and she nodded, catching the far
away look in his eyes.
"She's not good enough for you anyway." She said, looking him soberly in
"I'm afraid she's too good actually." He said with a nervous laugh, a wry
smile wrenching his lips. "Anyway she's happy and that's all I care
"You love her?" She found herself asking before she could stop herself.
She wasn't upset that she'd asked it though, she truly wanted to know.
"Thought I did..." Suddenly the phone rang, cutting off his thoughts. Wes
leapt for the phone before the answering machine could pick it up.
"Wes? Jeez...I was worried when you didn't come back from that patrol last
night. Are okay?" Cordelia said in a rush; he
heard Fred's breathy voice in the background ask, "Is he there!!??"
"I'm fine Cordelia. Tell Fred I'm okay." A
muffled relay of his message and then Cordelia
was back on the line. Wesley turned his back on Faith and walked into his
bedroom for privacy. Faith watched him go, fear gripping her heart; she
stood, unsure of what to do.
"Thank God! Did you save that girl? Why was did she need you?"
Cordelia's voice was thick was interest and
Wesley wondered how much he ought to tell her.
"I helped her and now she's okay. She just needed some advice only I could
give her, I guess. You know how that goes." He said noncommittally. Thank
God Cordelia didn't press the issue as she
"Good. And I know it was meant for you, but that didn't mean you had go
off all half-cocked and without backup, no matter how much Lorne insisted
you didn't need it."
"I...had some backup. And everything went fine. I'm a little bruised up
though, so I won't be coming into the office today."
"I was just about to tell you not to come in. You need a day off and all
you do here is sit in your little corner and
brood anyway, so just stay at home. Eat some cereal, watch some cartoons,
have a good time, which I know you won't." She told him, perky, pesky
voice chirping at him from the other end of the phone.
"I'll try. See you tomorrow." He said in a dry voice and then hung up
before she could add anything else to her diatribe. Silence filled the
room as he walked back into the kitchen.
Her chair was empty, the plate of half-eaten eggs sitting forlornly on the
table. He looked around and noticed that her boots were gone too, the door
to the apartment standing wide open.
"Fuck!" He muttered under his breath and ran to the door, head ducking out
of the little hallway to the stairs. Nothing.
She was gone. He closed the door to his apartment and kicked at the coffee
table, sending magazines flying, rage seething
in his chest.
He wondered if he'd ever see her again. Lorne's words came back to haunt
him and he sighed heavily, wearily sinking down onto the couch that she
had occupied during the impossibly long night.
Lorne had said she needed him, and he needed her just as badly; Wes didn't
stop to wonder for what. She'd be back.