(She had always been rather pale and striking. Death had not changed that. All of the flaws in Lilah’s face more and less evident through the veil of plastic. Beautiful. So odd. He had loved her after all, hadn’t he?)
Wesley dreaded the chance that more bodies were likely, though this was a sanctuary place. For now.
“You doin' okay, Wes?” Faith asked, posture insouciant against the dilapidated frame. “It wasn’t a fair fight last night, not for you or for me.”
They were sleeping during the day and patrolling from dusk til dawn, the best defense now that there were days and nights again. She was bruised and bloodied by the Beast, who is dead now, dead by Angelus’ hand of all hands, and Wesley could not help but remember the last time they’d been together, he and Faith, and the blood and bruises that she’d inflicted on him. He tried not to let the memory show on his face.
“I’ll be all right,” he said, trying not to think of what Angelus said as they made their retreat.
(“How’s it going, Wes? Did you tell Faith all about the tragic death of your fuckbuddy? I bet you had a lot of fun with that, what with Faith getting there first. That Lilah–she got around, didn’t she?”)
Faith closed the door delicately and walked into the room, her dark eyes full of thought–and more importantly, a troubled peace, the kind of peace Wesley wouldn’t have expected Faith to ever find. She sat down in the dingy chair next to his bed and looked at him questioningly.
“Does it bother you?” she asked. “What he said.”
“Angelus talks a lot,” Wesley said carefully, thinking about what Faith wasn’t saying. Something had clearly happened between Faith and Lilah–apparently, one of the very few things Lilah hadn’t thrown in his face in the quest for a violent orgasm. “One has to learn to tune it out.”
“Even if it’s true?”
“Especially when it’s true,” Wesley said, a shiver running down his skin. “Lilah was hardly a saint, Faith. I’m not particularly surprised at anything I discover about her.”
(Her head wasn’t attached to her body anymore. And she wasn’t a vampire at all. She had been lovely and unreal in the plastic, Snow White waiting for a kiss, and then she was in two pieces. Anne Boleyn. Lilah of the Thousand Days. And was he Henry then? What exactly did her blood on his axe make him?)
“Or me, I guess. Fuck a lawyer, fuck up my watcher, all in the same day,” Faith said. “She was hot. Brave for someone without any powers. I was going to fuck her up good for her watch, and she was only a little scared. Like it was a game and she’d come out on top.”
“Didn’t she?” Wesley asked with a touch of gallows humor. Faith smiled.
“Guess that’s true,” she allowed. “Wes, you have to keep it together.”
“Is that a fact?” Wes asked. “First of all, I’m together. Secondly, I’m not needed here. You’re needed. I got you because I knew I couldn’t do this.”
“Except you did this,” Faith said, leaning forward and staring him down. “You knew exactly how to set it up so I could deal with the kid and Gunn and even Cordelia. Hell, you set me up with those vamps to make sure I was ready. So don’t tell me you can’t do this. There’s a headless body downstairs tells me you can do damn near anything.”
Something like rage sparked under Wesley’s skin. She was taunting him. Trying to get him to react, do something rash. And dear God, she sounded so much like Lilah that it was hard to process the difference.
“So you’re telling me–”
“Don’t get dead, Wes. Angel’s gonna need you when he gets back,” Faith said, standing up. “That’s all. Do your mourning after we get Angel back and stop the Beastmaster. You know how.”
(Truer words were never spoken. He’d always done his mourning later. His failures with Faith had been mourned on the back of a motorcycle in Elko, Nevada. The little boy trapped in a closet, he’d regretted that long after the closet had been turned into a cabinet for jam and jellies. And someday, when the world told him it was allowed, he’d mourn for Lilah.)
Wesley nodded, looking Faith up and down professionally. She’d be all right by morning; Slayer healing abilities were downright legendary. And Faith was a survivor.
So he was surprised, but only a little, when Faith leaned forward tentatively and brushed her lips against his. Wesley did not pause; he crushed her mouth against his, pulling her lithe little body (shorter than Lilah, more muscular, different smell, less wicked delight in her eyes) into his lap.
“And this?” he murmured into her ear, surprised at how his body remembered the feel of her skin against him, though the context was quite different now.
“This is necessary,” she said, rolling her hips against him.
“For you or for me?” he asked, running his thumb against a purplish bruise on Faith’s jaw, thinking about her and only her. If there had never been Faith, his mind considered, who would he be? His life was so determined by this woman that it was impossible to imagine a Wesley who wasn’t created, in large extent, by Faith, and vice versa.
“What do you think?” Faith asked tartly, inexorably removing his shirt.
Wesley didn’t have to think. He already knew.
They were for each other, then, whether for one night or for all time. Responsible for so much between them that it was hard to imagine the actions that would or could atone for it.
Her body was warm and alive against his, driving out the memories and the guilt for now. There would be time enough for it later, time for the realizations and responsibility and recriminations. If they survived, there would be plenty of time.
But for now, now there was a world to save. And for them to save it, this was necessary.