Seven countries, multiple changes of identity and a month’s frantic flight; first by plane to the continent and then driving, changing cars regularly and backtracking so as to confuse any pursuit had left them all exhausted. But, he believed, they were finally in the clear once more. He knew it had ripped at Faith’s heart to leave their last home, a neat little cottage in the tiny village in the Cotswolds where they had known peace, or at least a close proximity of such until someone had shown up asking way too many questions.
The normally-suspicious villagers who had, after three years, finally begun to accept them as part of their community had fed the over-inquisitive stranger some misinformation and quickly alerted him to the strange over-dressed woman who’d wandered into the local, sneering disdainfully at her surroundings before flashing a wad of bills and asking after an Englishman, a young American woman and a male child of approximately four years of age. Rapidly throwing what he could, and what he deemed most necessary, into bags he’d then bundled his ‘family’ into the car and onto the first available plane, leaving everything of their home behind—everything except the photo album that Faith had run back inside at the last minute to fetch, running back out to the car with it clutched tightly to her chest, smiling tightly at him and muttering ‘let’s go’ all the while trying to hide the moisture gathering in her eyes. He’d pulled out of the drive quickly, making speed down the narrow country lane as she turned to watch, staring fixedly until their home faded into the distance.
Their pursuers had been on their tail quickly, as he’d known they would, but those scant few hours head start had stood them in good stead, allowing them to gain ground, and after having seen no sign of pursuit for ten days now he finally allowed himself to believe that they were in the clear. He glanced over to the bed where Faith lay, sleeping curled around the exhausted youngster. Connor had been so good, despite the long hours spent driving with very few stops for food and other necessities, sleeping in the car as ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ took turns at the wheel. Not that the boy’s tractability surprised him, Connor had always been a well behaved child; intelligent, affectionate, mild-tempered and keen to please.
Faith stirred, turning her head to look at him. “Everything, okay?” she asked sleepily.
He smiled reassuringly, walking to the bed to gently brush a lock of dark hair from where it curled across her face, allowing his fingers to linger momentarily on the smooth, soft skin of her cheek before straightening. “Everything’s fine. Looks like we’re clear. Now we just need to decide where we want to go from here.” He spoke quietly, flicking his eyes to the deeply sleeping child.
Faith sighed. “So this is it, huh? We just keep moving.” Her voice was heavy with regret yet she forced herself to return his smile. “It’s okay, Wes. No big. Guess I knew what I was signing up for, didn’t I? It’s just been nice, you know, the last few years.”
“Shh,” he soothed. “No, love. You misunderstand. We need to decide where we’re going to live next.” He watched her face as his words began to register, adding gently, “We’ll make a new home, Faith.”
“You mean even after all this? You’d consider…”
“No. I’m not considering it. It isn’t a consideration, it’s a definite. You were right when you said the boy needed a home. You were right then, and that holds no less true today. And not just for Connor, for us too. I have been happier these last three years than ever before, and I like to think you and Connor have been happy too.” Stripping quickly, he dropped his clothes to pool on the floor by the bed where they could be reached quickly should the need arise, he added, “We just can’t allow ourselves to become complacent. We need to be more organised, to have plans in force for if we need to disappear again.” Leaning forward he brushed a soft kiss across her forehead. “We’ll talk about it more tomorrow. Get some sleep, love. I’m going to have a quick shower, see if I can thaw out a little before I come to bed.”
After standing under the hot water until it began to cool Wesley made his way back into the bedroom; Faith’s quiet, rhythmic breathing alerting him to the fact that she was sleeping peacefully. He brusquely towelled off before climbing into bed and snuggling carefully against Faith’s back, his body quickly reacting to her presence despite his exhaustion. It’s good to know some things remain consistent, he thought wryly. Reaching across the slayer, his arm draped over her waist so that his hand rested protectively on the sleeping boy. My family, he thought to himself. And I will do whatever I must to assure their safety and their happiness, he vowed silently as his eyes drifted closed. With the surety that his family was safe he finally allowed himself to succumb to the exhaustion he had battled since fleeing their home.