Chapter One – Chicago
“Bloody hell,” Wesley mumbled under his breath as he took in the scene before him.
It was worse than a nest of Krish’nath demons, worse than vampires on a rainy night, even worse than confronting Angelus. Because before him stood a group of people he never thought he cared to encounter again. The group from Sunnydale in their finest. Or should he say in their worst.
Bright yellow really didn’t look good on a woman with blonde hair. It made her look like a beach ball with all the frilly sleeves and poofing at the hem. She smiled brightly as the photographer took her picture, along with the woman standing next to her. Yellow made the other woman just look pissed off at the world at large. And the frillies did not look good on her at all and it showed. She looked good in basic black and blood red.
“Faith, smile,” Buffy told her through clenched teeth.
“How the hell am I supposed to smile in a get-up like this?” she grumbled back.
Wesley snickered under his breath. It felt good to see something quite silly since the last week had been so traumatic. The invitation to this wedding had come at the right time. What he didn’t understand was why he was invited in the first place. The man positively despised him in Sunnydale. But they had earned respect from each other finally, only to turn that around when he had joined Wolfram and Hart with the others not a few months before. Now he was at a crossroads with Giles yet again.
But this day wasn’t about who worked for whom, what mistakes had been made in the past. Giles was getting married to a lovely woman, in and of itself a miracle since the woman seemed to be of sound mind. He seemed ecstatic, standing off to the side, arm around the woman, all smiles.
He had received the invitation a couple of week’s prior, right after the disastrous party that Lorne had thrown at Halloween. He had thought that the others on his team would attend the wedding, but none wanted to or had the time. Now he had plenty of time on his hands. Plenty of time to contemplate what on earth he had done the past week to warrant his behavior. So he had left hurriedly, driving across the country to Chicago just to get away from what had happened. He needed that time to think. So he had ended up here, at the wedding, sitting in a corner depressed as ever.
Willow had greeted him nicely, giving him a hug and introducing him to her girlfriend Kennedy. Giles had shaken his hand. Xander had nodded his way, but had not engaged him in conversation, which was perfect since he didn’t want to talk with the ponce anyway. Buffy and Faith had yet to even see him, much less spoken with him. He really didn’t want to speak with Buffy. But he had wanted to converse with Faith just a little, if just to see how she was getting on in her life.
“I’m changin’,” Faith complained.
“No, you’re not. Giles will get mad,” Buffy pointed out.
Once the pictures were done, Buffy waved to someone in the crowd. Faith stood there for a moment, then pointedly looked his way. He sat at a table off to the side and in the back. No one was there except for him and his whiskey. He guessed with the surly mood that had overtaken him that no one would want his company. Faith should at least realize that it was dangerous to approach him when he had that look in his eyes. She had seen it several times before.
Even dressed in that silly concoction, she still strutted over towards him like she wore the leather she was so fond of. He almost laughed out loud, but decided that it might be in his best interest to hold his comments. She smiled a genuine smile as she reached the table. He had forgotten how young she looked when she smiled.
“Like the dress?” she asked him.
“Yellow is not your color,” he stated the obvious.
“At least not this shade of yellow. Ruffles are just not me,” she added, trying not to laugh.
“How are you?”
“Just dandy. You’re looking . . . ,” Faith hesitated. “Just as scruffy as always. You’re scaring the guests.”
“Better than annoying them or screaming like a girl.”
“No screaming, please. Giles might have a heart attack or something. Of course, with as young as his new bride is, he might have one tonight anyway.”
Good old Faith as always. Making the crass, sexually oriented joke. Wesley had missed that about her. He took a drink and looked into her amused eyes.
“You wanna dance or something?”
Wesley almost choked on the liquor as it flowed down his throat. Faith bent over him to give him a hard thump on his back. And got a view of her ample cleavage, which made him choke again.
“That’s OK,” he sputtered out, trying to breathe again.
“You can’t sit here and be anti-social. That’s usually my department.”
Faith was right. She was the one that usually didn’t fit in. Did she realize how much they had in common?
“I’ve got Jack to keep me company,” Wesley said, raising his glass her way.
“Don’t think so. Get up,” Faith commanded, hands on her hips.
Should he just annoy her and sit there? It could be quite embarrassing if they got into a brawl at Giles’s wedding. And of course, she was ten times stronger than he was, which meant she could probably get him to do just about whatever she wanted. His face flushed a little with that thought. It must be the alcohol talking, he thought.
He took a deep breath and got up from his chair. Luckily the drink had been his first, since the bar had just opened shortly before. Staring down at her, he offered his arm to her. She immediately complied, placing her arm in his. They walked over to join the others on the dance floor.
Faith had seen him walk in to the reception. He kind of looked a little like James Bond after a hard night of saving the world. Xander had complained about his looks before in Sunnydale. He was right. Wesley did kind of look like that, if he had been on a binge for three days.
She still couldn’t get over the fact that this man in front of her was the same Wesley she had met only a few years before. That man had been clean-shaven, immaculate in his dress, and downright prissy in his actions. He couldn’t even throw a punch much less take one. Now, she wouldn’t put it past him to have a weapon in the back of that suit jacket.
The funniest thing though was he was dressed all in black. His suit, his shirt, even his shoes. His tie had a little color in it, but otherwise, he looked like he was going to a funeral. Maybe being around the Scoobies might put him in that type of mood. Being around them was sometimes depressing to say the least.
But it was Giles’s wedding. The older watcher had finally found his match, something that she would never accomplish. Sure, it had been fun with Robin while it lasted, but now that was kaput. She thanked her lucky stars that it was.
She could smell his aftershave as she led him to the dance floor. Probably very expensive aftershave since he was now working for Evil Incorporated. Giles hadn’t wanted to invite any of the Los Angeles gang to the ceremony, but she had pointed out that they had helped out several times in the past. So he had reluctantly sent the invitations. Only Wesley had responded positively. The rest had said no, which didn’t surprise her.
His hand was warm in hers as she reached the dance floor. The band started playing a slow song as soon as they had reached it, which was fine with her. Even as rugged and cool as he looked, Faith was sure the man couldn’t dance to a fast beat to save his life. He still was Wesley, the Brit with a stick up his ass.
He kept the distance between them respectable, but the warm hand on her back made her tingle. At least he could keep a beat, unlike some damn vampire with a soul that she knew. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
“You have rhythm,” she said in his ear so that he could hear her.
His eyes widened in merriment as he looked down at her. He must have thought that she was quite funny right then, because he finally smiled at her. She could count on her hand the times that he had actually smiled at her. The last time was right before she had left Los Angeles for Sunnydale to go after the First. She had accomplished capturing Angelus so Willow could re-ensoul him. It made her feel all warm and fuzzy seeing the genuine smile on his face back then. He had told her how proud he was of her too.
“Yes, we English are known to dance occasionally,” he quipped back at her.
His deep blue eyes stood out prominently against all the black and facial hair. She was so glad he had gotten rid of those glasses so she could actually see what the hell he really looked like.
“Could a fooled me,” she shot back with amusement in her voice.
“There are many things you don’t know about me, Faith.”
Just then the band picked up the tempo with another song that was meant to get everyone out on the dance floor. Wesley looked like a deer caught in the headlights. But Faith didn’t let go of his hands, not letting him escape to the sidelines.
She pulled him tight against her, swaying her hips with the beat. She could see him swallow visibly as her body touched him everywhere. Now she knew that the blood was pumping through him as she saw his blush spread across his face. Man did he look pretty when he blushed. But the look in his eyes wasn’t pretty. It was downright, well she didn’t know what. She couldn’t tell whether he was pissed off at her or whether he’d throw her down and have his way with her.
Faith gave a look of challenge his way, just so he wouldn’t move off the dance floor any time soon. He complied with a smirk, which meant he took the challenge even before she flashed the look his way. He may not be a smooth dancer, but he did know how to take cues when needed. So she led him around the floor. Off to the side, Xander glared at them. But she didn’t care one bit.
“They’ll talk,” Wes whispered in her ear.
“Let them. I’m havin’ fun.”
Before he could stand up straight, she flicked out her tongue quickly to his throat just so he’d know how much fun she was having. The look of shock was well worth it. By the time the song was over, she was just as flushed as he was. Taking her hand, he practically dragged her off the dance floor and into the hallway. Dawn and Kennedy watched them go, mouths open wide. Faith just waved as Wesley opened the door.
He paced back and forth for a few moments, pointing his finger her way, but nothing coming out of his mouth. Faith thought it was really funny and she smiled his way again. He finally stopped right in front of her, glaring down to make his point.
“That was not funny,” he finally said.
“I thought it was hilarious. Did you see the look on their faces?”
“I don’t like being used, Faith.”
“I was just playin’, Wes. Lighten up.”
Wesley sighed as she smiled back up at him. “Xander was shooting daggers through me.”
“He would since every woman was lookin’ your way and not his.”
Wesley snorted his comment out and bowed his head. His hands went in his pockets, like he was trying to keep them busy.
“Uh uh. Is likely. Nice suit, by the way. You goin’ to a funeral afterwards?”
His mouth quirked up again, finding her comment amusing. “Might as well be.”
“Hey, stick with me. No one will mess with you.”
“Yes, stick with the woman who could put you into the hospital with just a punch. I’m sure that no one will mess with me now.”
Faith reached around him so quickly, he didn’t have time to react. She pulled out his weapon so smoothly, just like she had learned so many years ago when she pickpocketed people for money.
“Yeah, right,” she said, not convinced one bit that he didn’t have another piece somewhere else on his person. “Ya got any others?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“Faith, get back in here,” Buffy’s voice called from the door.
Faith made a snarly face at Wesley because her back was to Buffy and she wouldn’t see. Leaning down, she slipped him the weapon back so that Ms. Perfect wouldn’t see it. He grinned down at her as his eyes went straight for her chest.
“Pervert,” she called him.
“Bitch,” he retorted back.
“See, you shouldn’t use those British swear words. I couldn’t possibly keep up. And damn it, I don’t know what they mean.”
Wesley smoothly put the weapon back in its place as he followed her back into the hall. Buffy glared at the two of them for quite some time, but Faith didn’t leave his side until they had to do more pictures.
Buffy pulled her aside as everyone else in the wedding party started to arrange themselves for the picture.
“Faith, what’s going on between you and the new Wes?”
“Nuthin’. Just havin’ a little fun.”
“Ha. Now there’s a story if there ever was one. Spill.”
“Buffy, nothing is going on. I swear.”
Buffy gave her a pointed look. “Don’t ruin Giles’s wedding.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Wesley looked her way from his position near the back of the room. He saluted her with his drink and she gave him the middle finger back, smiling the whole time.
“Faith, get in the picture,” Giles told her with that warning tone in his voice.
Faith complied just to get it over with. Finally, they were done with that nonsense. The rice was thrown and Giles and his bride were on their way. Faith waved goodbye and groaned as her feet decided they had enough torture. Slipping her shoes off, she looked around for Wes. He was nowhere to be seen. Grabbing her jacket and duffel bag, she headed towards the bathroom to change before she had to catch her plane.
Before she could reach the bathroom, she spotted Wes off in the distance, speaking on the phone. Crossing her arms over her frilly chest, she waited patiently until he got off the phone.
“Found ya,” she called out to him.
“Yes. Apparently you did. And just when I thought that I would slip out of here unnoticed.”
“Hey, Mr. Sarcastic and Scruffy. Wanna go get a drink?”
“If you wear that, sure.”
Faith looked down at her dress. Now she did want to cuss him out. “Just as long as I get to wear my boots.”
“Feel free,” he shot back to her.
Since the dress was almost to the floor, all anyone would see would be a bit of black sticking out. And she couldn’t give a damn anyway.
Wesley chose the hotel bar where he was staying just because it was convenient. The waitress eyed Faith up and down, trying to figure out what on earth she was. Faith gave the woman a look of death, scaring her away quickly after she took their orders.
“She won’t come back,” Wesley told Faith as she tapped her fingers on the table.
“Sorry. I just was pissed that she didn’t like my dress.”
“It is rather fetching. Why didn’t you change?”
He knew that she did want to get out of the damn thing. But did she do it just to see his reaction or because she didn’t want to let him out of her sight?
“Thought you’d skip on me.”
So the out of sight thing it was. “Indeed. You know me quite well.”
“Not as well as I would like to.”
That statement could have many meanings, he thought. And he didn’t want to assume any of them.
“So you drove all the way out here? I guess they didn’t need you that bad for a while.”
Wesley really didn’t want to tell her what had happened. He didn’t think that it was any of her business. He just wanted to sit with her and drink himself into a stupor.
“No. Not at all actually. Angel told me to take some time off.”
“A vacation. And you spent it driving? Man, your head is messed up.”
His head was messed up completely. Probably more than it ever had been in his whole life. But she didn’t want to know about his problems.
“The peace and quiet was nice for a change.”
“Yeah, working for Evil Incorporated must be hell.”
Wesley winced visibly at her comment. He tried to keep a straight face, but she had seen his reaction and looked down at the table.
“Sometimes,” he replied, not knowing what else to say.
“Sorry. I didn’t think with my brain that time.”
The waitress returning with the drinks stopped all conversation for a little while.
“I like peace and quiet sometimes too. Living with a bunch of girls is hell on wheels. All the screeching and crying. I feel like a babysitter.”
“How are they coming along?” he asked.
“As well as could be expected. It’ll take a while. Hey, how did you know anyway?”
He wanted to tell her that Spike had told them everything, but that wouldn’t be possible. The vampire had his own reasons for staying away from the Sunnydale group. He didn’t want to complicate matters more.
“I hear things.”
Faith started to tap her fingers on the table again, which annoyed him to no end. Finally he reached over to stop her beat. Her fingers were cold from the beer she was drinking.
“Sorry. Bad habit.”
Wesley swallowed down the rest of his drink quickly, wanting to be on his way. He wanted to start his drive back later that night. Which meant no more drinking for the next couple of hours so he could be sober. Pulling out a couple of bills, he threw them on the table.
“You must have a plane to catch,” he said as he started to get out of the booth.
“Yeah, I do. I’m headed your way, actually. I have to see this parole guy that Giles set me up with. They need to make sure things are going smoothly.”
An ex-con’s work was never done, he thought.
“Good,” he got out as he stood.
Faith scooted out with him, almost tripping on that thing that she was wearing.
“I need to get to the airport. It was nice seeing you. Maybe I’ll look you up if I’m still there when you get back.”
The moment was awkward between the two, but Wesley didn’t know what else to do. Leaning over, he placed a light kiss on her cheek. As he pulled back, he could see that her eyes had dilated to the point he couldn’t see her irises.
“Um, yeah. See ya,” she stammered out, backing away.
It looked as if she would make a quick getaway. But she stopped her progress and dropped her bag on the floor along with her jacket.
“What the hell,” she said as she moved back toward him.
Grabbing his lapels, she yanked his head down and sealed her lips over his. She tasted like the beer she had drank plus something else he couldn’t put his finger on at the moment. Before he could figure it out, she pushed him away.
“I’m not done,” he ground out and pulled her into an embrace.
This time she opened her mouth to let his tongue slide in and taste more fully. He heard a slight groan come deep from within her as he put his hands through her thick hair. Then he figured it out. She tasted just like she looked: hot, wet, wild, and wonderful. It wasn’t a particular taste, it was just who she was. Finally, he let her go with one more tug. Faith panted as he released her.
“Where’d you learn how to do that?”
He thought that maybe he would tell her, but knew that it might not be such a good idea. “Here and there.”
“Evil bitch lawyer,” she told him as she picked up her duffel bag to sling it over her shoulder. “Or was that evil lawyer bitch? I could never keep that straight.”
So she did figure that out. Lilah hadn’t been on his mind for a while now. He truly did miss her. Just as he missed having Faith around to bug him.
Wesley chuckled a little at her comment, and then waved her on so he could go up to his room and pack. It was going to be a long journey back.
Faith entered the restroom at the hotel with a huff. The man who she thought was one thing was another. Not only did he look hot, he kissed like he was hot too. Why hadn’t she ever noticed this? Looking in the mirror, she laughed as she saw the dress on her. Too bad she would just chuck the thing as soon as she could. Or maybe she’d keep it around just because now it smelled a little bit like Wes.
Digging into her duffel she pulled out her plane tickets to check the time again. Only when she did, she noticed something she hadn’t before. Like the time on the return flight. It wasn’t what they said it was when she bought the ticket. They had changed it and never told her. She had missed her flight. It had left three hours ago. Even if she had gone to the wedding, she still would have missed her flight.
“Fuck,” she said to herself.
She didn’t have enough money for another flight. The ticket in her hands was non-refundable and no changes. Now she was stuck. And she needed to be in Los Angeles by next week at the latest to meet with the parole guy. She had just wanted to get it over with, so she had made the appointment early. They were going to give her a permanent parole officer in Cleveland finally, but wanted to evaluate her one last time.
After pulling out everything in her bag, she finally found her cell phone. As she tried to dial a number, she realized that it was out of juice. She swore she had charged it up before she left Cleveland. Piling everything back in the bag, she started off towards the lobby. Everyone else was on his or her way back to Cleveland by now, but not quite there. And Giles was already gone on his honeymoon. What the hell could she do?
Wesley had told her he was staying at this hotel, so she could find him and use his phone to call ahead and tell them she had been delayed. She would have to change the meeting for next week. That worried her because she didn’t want to give them any reason to put her back in jail.
Approaching the front desk, she stood in line for a few minutes while the only person working the front desk helped a couple. Then when it finally became her turn, the lady looked at her in disdain. She should have changed out of the dress, she thought.
“Hi, I’m Candy. Can I help you?”
“Yeah. I’m trying to find Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Can you tell me his room number?”
“I’m sorry. I can’t give that information out. You can leave him a message if you’d like.”
“No, you don’t see. This is an emergency. I really need to talk to him.”
“Miss, I’m sorry. But that’s hotel policy.”
Faith did not want to get angry with this lady. She tried very hard at controlling her anger. So she did the next best thing. She lied.
“You don’t understand. He left me standing up there with four hundred guests. I just have to talk to him,” she cried, her eyes tearing up just a little for effect.
“He stood you up?” Candy gasped.
“Yeah. I couldn’t believe it. Then I’m thinking that maybe he’s hurt or something. Or just maybe he chickened out, because guys can do that to you.”
Candy shook her head in agreement. “We wouldn’t want one of our guests to be hurt.”
“No. That can’t happen,” Faith added for effect.
“Here. He’s in room 1128. Just don’t tell anyone I told you.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll be our little secret.”
Faith hurried to the elevator before Candy sent someone to follow her to make sure her story held up. Exiting the elevator, she walked quickly down the hall until she found 1128. Thumping on the door, she heard footsteps approach on the other side. She just hoped that the lady had given her the right number.
Wesley wrenched the door open, totally fuming about the intrusion. “What?” he growled.
Then he stopped when he saw that it was Faith. Well, at least he hadn’t taken her head off yet, she thought.
“Hey, can I use your phone? Mine died,” she asked him cheerfully.
“Sure. Come in.”
He held the door open for her to come in. On the bed was an opened suitcase. Wes had taken his suit jacket off and had pulled his tie down a little so it wouldn’t strangle him. He handed her his phone and walked off to the bathroom.
Faith quickly dialed the number she was given for the parole guy and left a quick message about the change in plans. She would check in with him in the morning to see if it was all right to change the meeting. She was just shutting it as he came back out of the bathroom with a bag of toiletries.
“Thanks,” she told him as she handed him the phone.
“You’re welcome. Is there a problem?”
Man, the guy could read her facial expressions like a book. And she’d just let him go on thinking that was just what he could do.
“I missed my flight. And I don’t have the money to replace the ticket.”
Wesley rolled his eyes at her and pulled out his wallet. “Here,” he said as he handed her some cash.
“I’m not taking charity. Besides, I don’t need to actually be there until next week. I’ll just wait until I can raise the money.”
“Now, how would you accomplish that?”
“Here and there,” she told him, using his phrase for retort.
“I see,” he said as he replaced his wallet back in his pocket.
“So you driving back tonight?” she tentatively asked.
“Yes, I thought about it.”
She watched as he crossed his arms over his chest like he was putting up a shield in front of him. She guessed that she would have to break that shield to get through his thick skull.
“Good. Can you pick up a hitchhiker then?”
Wesley rubbed his head with his hands, like he was trying to wash her right out of his hair for good.
“I don’t feel that it would be a good idea.”
“Fine. I’ll just go then,” she said as she picked up her bag.
She had made it out the door and down the hall before he called her back.
“Faith, wait,” he called to her before she punched the button on the elevator.
“Yes?” she said innocently.
“Come back. Yes, I would pick up a hitchhiker. But just as long as that so-called hitchhiker behaved herself by not tapping on every table she happened to sit behind.”
Faith smiled his way and bounced down the hallway to his door. “When are we leaving?”
“Right now,” he announced as he picked up his bag and slammed the door home.
He hadn’t even let her change. But she had her boots on and her jacket to keep her warm. And the man would have to stop eventually to take a leak. He couldn’t hold it that long. Then she would change out of the dress. So she followed him down to the lobby, waving to Candy and giving her the thumbs up as they passed the front desk.
Wesley frowned at her actions as he looked at the lady behind the desk.
“What did you tell that woman?” he mentioned as someone brought around the car.
“Oh, that you stood me up at the altar and I was here to bring you back,” Faith spat out as the valet opened Wes’s door so he could get in.
“Faith,” he sighed, exasperated at what she had done.
“Hey. It beat violence.”
“There is that,” he commented as he threw his bag in the back seat.
“Get in. I’m driving,” she told him as he started around to the driver’s side.
“I perfectly capable.”
“Of crashing or getting arrested for drunk driving. I’m not riding in a car with you like that.”
Wesley sighed in resignation. “You’re right.” He threw her the keys.
“This is gonna be fun,” she said as she started the car, flipping the radio station to one with dance music.
“Very fun,” he groaned as she took off like a bat out of hell. “Bloody hell,” he moaned to himself.
Next: Will Faith ever get out of that dress? And it’s cold in November in the Midwest. That could affect their trip too. And I have to throw some demons in the way too. Lots of fun in store for them.