Chapter 1: The Evil That Men do Lives After Them Series
Posted so I could put up the lovely Series Main Banner that the wonderful Selene made for me. Story starts in the next chapter.
Chapter 2: Facing Your Ghosts
Ghosts come in various shapes and sizes. When he thought about it he supposed he should have many; he’d done much harm in his tenure on this earth, and ironically most of that had been done whilst attempting to do what was ‘right’. Now here he was doing a great wrong, in the desperate hope that for once that ‘wrong’ would turn out to be right.
He looked into deep, haunted brown eyes and knew that he wasn’t the only one with ghosts. The small, yet undeniably powerful brunette standing before him currently looked as fragile as glass. Her uncharacteristic demeanour startled him and he hesitated for a moment before closing the remaining distance between them, coming to rest with several steps still separating them when she showed signs of increased uneasiness at his approach. Capturing the girl’s tormented gaze once more, it occurred to him that perhaps they were each other’s greatest regret. He had failed her; his ineptitude ultimately leading to her current predicament. She, in turn, had taken great pleasure in torturing him mercilessly. In order for there to be any chance of his mission succeeding they would both need to lay their ghosts to rest. It was time to let go of the past and move on.
A small smile creased the corner of his mouth as Faith spoke, he wasn’t sure if her word was a challenge or a query and he was fairly certain she didn’t know either.
“Angel has a son,” he offered bluntly.
“Well that’s… different,” Faith replied wryly, “but I’m still not seeing the reason for you standing here. If Angel wanted me to know I’m pretty sure he would have...”
“There’s a prophecy,” Wesley said with a sigh, cutting her off. He allowed the words to hang briefly between them before elaborating, “The father will kill the son.” He closed the remaining steps that separated them, grasping her shoulders firmly he leaned down and whispered against her hair, “I need a slayer. I need you, Faith. Someone I can trust to get the job done.”
“You want me to help you kill Angel?” Faith asked dubiously, a small frown creasing her brow.
“Want is rather a strong word.” Wesley laughed, a sharp derisive snort that nevertheless seemed, to his ears, incongruous with their current situation. “‘Need’ would be far more appropriate.”
Faith raised one eyebrow fractionally indicating that he should continue.
Wesley spared a quick glance towards the door, thankful for the continued absence of the guard to whom he had slipped a considerable sum of money in order to ensure their ‘privacy’. “This will have to be quick, I don’t know how much more time my money will buy us. It is prophesised that Angel will kill his infant son. There is a time-travelling demon hunter with a grudge against Angel who is also after the boy. Oh and an evil law-firm—you may remember them—also has a vested interest in the child.” Faith’s sudden start had Wesley mentally kicking himself for his callous mention of her previous dealings with Wolfram and Hart, it seemed he wasn’t as over that little incident as he might have thought.
Tightening his grip on her shoulders, he drew her back to the present, continuing quietly, “The point is, Faith, that I cannot protect the child alone. I cannot ask for help from any of my associates, and I most certainly cannot request Buffy’s assistance in this matter. I need your help. I need you to help me destroy Angel. And I need your answer tonight. I can pull some strings, get you out of here. Make sure that all record of your conviction and subsequent incarceration disappears. But it is a one time offer and it is only for tonight." He added, matter-of-factly, "Oh, and if you ever betray me I will see you locked up indefinitely. If I disappear or die unexpectedly, believe me when I say there are measures in place that will see you equally detained.” He stepped back, allowing her room to consider his offer. He carefully watched her face and recognised the moment that she came to her decision.
“Alright, I’ll help you, but what then? What happens after Angel is dust? You gotta know B won’t just be letting that go.”
“I’m afraid Buffy will be the least of our worries until Connor is old enough to fend for himself. There will still be a substantial list of people and demons wanting to get their hands on the boy for one reason or another. This is a long term commitment, Faith. If it helps, you can consider it serving out the rest of your sentence—only in a more practical manner.”
“So what you’re saying is we take out dad, and then you, me and the kid go on a permanent road trip?”
“Put succinctly, yes,” Wesley confirmed, the sudden life that lit her eyes once more causing him to smile despite himself.
Faith nodded, her face lighting up as she smiled brightly. “Well, let’s get to it then.”
Wesley wondered briefly at the thrill of anticipation that coursed through him as led her towards the door. There were no more outs, no changing his mind or going back from this, and a large part of him rejoiced. He had come here knowing that he had an unpleasant duty to perform, he had reconciled himself to that fact and to the level he would have to sink to in order to perform said duty. He was betraying his friends, planning the murder ofone of them, kidnapping an infant, buying off several prominent members of the judicial system, and breaking a convicted murderer out of prison. The last thing he had expected was this sudden eager impatience to begin.
One glance at the now-swaggering slayer and he knew that life with Faith was going to be a rollercoaster ride. He had given her the clothes that he’d brought with him and before he could turn his back to afford her some privacy she had stripped off, donning the new clothes with a knowing smirk at his obvious reaction.
He raised his hand, and tapping on the door’s glass insert, he signalled to the guard. Slipping the eager man a further wad of bills, Wesley indicated that the man lead the way.
“You know,” she purred as she preceded him out the door, “slaying always gets me hot.”
It looked like their ghosts weren’t the only things that would be being ‘laid’ tonight, he mused; the images conjured by that thought quickly compounded the effects of Faith’s recent show. “Well, we best get to work then, hadn’t we?” he responded, dryly. “Seems like we have a busy night ahead of us.”
Chapter 3: Playing With Fire
Things had gone well, or as well as one could expect given the circumstances. They had left the prison with everything in place for Faith’s disappearance from the system; all traces of her existence were to be wiped completely, this was what his money had paid for, and what the sizable annual fee he was to pay into the numbered offshore account assured. From there they had made their way to the Hyperion. During their drive back to the hotel he had explained the unusual details of Connor’s birth, the prophecy, Holtz and the various other dangers that they could expect to encounter during the course of the boy’s dependency on them.
Once they’d reached the hotel they had of course encountered Angel, they had expected no less. Wesley had managed to distract him while Faith sneaked around behind him, making short work of dispatching the vampire; his dust was settling on the lobby floor before he had even realised that the dark slayer was there.
They had gathered Connor and his essentials as quickly and quietly as possible, being sure not to awaken any of the hotel’s other occupants.
They’d driven all night and most of the next day, quickly forgoing the highway for the less frequented back roads. They’d driven in shifts taking turns at the wheel and in caring for the small, oft-times howling, bundle that somehow didn’t necessarily seem worth the effort when he was plastering the inside of the car with the regurgitated contents of a rather rapidly drained bottle of formula. Eventually they had pulled into a seedy little dive just around sunset. It was the sort of place where no one asked any questions and cash spoke loudly and clearly. The sort of place they had been calling home, with a few rare and pleasant exceptions, since their journey had begun.
No sooner had they entered the room and set the sleeping boy’s carry-cot down than Faith had launched herself at him, grabbing him by the shirtfront and throwing him to the bed. Straddling and disrobing him frantically before he could so much as move to object; not that objections were likely to have been forthcoming but the option would have been nice.
Nothing in his life had prepared him for Faith, for the sheer brutal intensity of her. She kissed with the urgency and desperation of someone about to face their last day on this earth. She was power, and passion and a rawness of spirit that called to him, sex with her was both undeniably fulfilling and at the same time it left him wanting—aching. She had ridden him like a wild thing that first night, a creature possessed. His memories of events were somewhat a blur beyond the mind-shattering pleasure she had meted out repeatedly until his body had finally succumbed to exhaustion. Upon waking the next day he had exacted his revenge, the ferocity of his need had merely excited her more. However, by the time they were both spent an unspoken agreement had been reached that in this aspect of their lives they were to be equals. Once that had been clearly established he’d had no qualms about allowing Faith the illusion of control.
Their everyday lives were much like their fucking; explosive, impulsive, filled with danger and never without turmoil. And lately they fought, not occasionally as they had since the beginning, but more and more regularly and over the most insignificant details. They fought about which exit to take; which hotel to stay in; where to eat. Mostly they fought about the boy. Faith felt it was time to find somewhere, to settle down and allow the child a semblance of normality. She claimed it had been long enough, that they were well off the radar by now. He knew better, that they would never be safe and that Connor would never lead a normal life. Regardless of how much Faith may want to try to give him one.
On the road, during daylight hours Faith’s arguments would burn, blazing with fury; his with cold, calculated detachment. At night their passion would be spent between the sheets.
That was what their lives had consisted of for the last seven months, travelling, fucking and arguing.
They’d fought again that evening, some trivial nonsense that they had both blown out of proportion. She had been complaining once again that he was always the one that got to scope the area, while she was the one left, quite literally, holding the baby. It made perfect sense to him; she was the slayer and was obviously far better equipped to protect Connor should one of his many enemies make an appearance. He’d finally had enough of arguing with her, and having grabbed his coat had left in search of a bar and some much needed solitude.
Now as he stood in the doorway of the hotel looking at the beautiful woman sprawled naked across their bed, her hand curled beneath her cheek, her hair fanning out around her as she slept peacefully, he felt a twinge of remorse for leaving her alone with the child. Perhaps tomorrow night they might stay in a nicer hotel, one of those with spa baths, room service and a sitting service and he could find a way to make it up to her. Perhaps.
He dropped his coat to the ground and turning, locked and bolted the door. As he made his way to the bed, it occurred to him that as much as he might bemoan the fact, he rather liked playing with fire, after all.
Chapter 4: The Withered Leaves Collect at my Feet
Hers were filled with neglect; abuse, both physical and sexual from her mother’s endless stream of ‘friends’; a drunken mother who forgot to feed her for days on end until she took matters into her own hands, learning to fend for herself using whatever means possible.
He knew, now, why Faith was being so obstinate about wanting to find a place to settle; a place where they could build a home of sorts. She wanted to give the boy what neither of them had; happy memories. Something about the child brought out a softer, caring side to his fearsome slayer; maternal, nurturing even. A side he’d never have imagined was there, hidden beneath a hard protective shell and layers of bravado and hurt.
He’d catch her sometimes, when she thought she was unobserved, playing a game with Connor. She’d tickle him until he giggled helplessly and then cuddle him close and sooth the resulting hiccups. Her face softened when she looked at the boy, a gentle smile curving her lips and hushed words muttered against his cheek, words for them alone.
At these times he would often find a harsh, irrational stab of jealousy twisting in his gut. That this child, the son of two beings who’d wrought such horrors upon this earth should be deserving of such gently bestowed affection.
His mother’s affections were rarely given, an occasional smile of encouragement, a brief flash of pride in her eyes before they quickly dropped away. He remembered once when he was small, sometime before he’d started school, he had been deemed by his Latin tutor as having committed some reprehensible sin or another and had been called before his father. His mother had tousled his hair—he remembered that clearly because it was the last time he remembered her showing him any physically sign of affection—and spoken up in his defence. His father’s response had been both swift and unconditional. He remembered vividly the blood that had fallen from his mother’s lip, staining the pristine white of her blouse. The deep purpling on her cheek had lasted far longer than the welts his father’s belt had raised on his backside. The absence of his mother’s love had left an even longer lasting bruise.
Faith was right. The child deserved the chance to have more than they’d been given. He would see what he could do about finding somewhere safe, somewhere they could make a home, somewhere they could watch a small boy grow into a man. A place where they could learn to let go of the past. Perhaps they also deserved the chance.
Chapter 5: Gonna Find out who's Naughty and Nice
It wasn’t the ‘classic’ Christmas. There’d been no tree dripping with decorations and bright twinkling lights, no stockings hung by the fire; there was, for that matter, no fire—unless you counted the rusty old radiator that thumped and rattled in the corner to produce its not-quite-adequate amount of heat.
It was their second Christmas together, the first having passed unnoticed during the height of their initial fear-driven flight, and they’d done the best they could to make it as normal as possible.
Christmas dinner was an already-roasted chicken, purchased in lieu of a turkey and reheated along with some frozen oven-roast vegetables in the ancient oven in the flat’s tiny kitchenette. A few strands of paper chain decorations were strung across the room, and a tinsel wreath from the thrift shop adorned the inside of the door. Half a dozen brightly coloured parcels had been stacked in the corner the night before, to be discovered in the morning by the delighted toddler who’d seemed more taken with the shiny paper than with the contents.
They’d smiled at Connor’s antics as he’d paraded around with a makeshift hat of tattered paper held tightly scrunched in small chubby hands; his happy, infectious giggles echoing loudly in the small holiday flat that was their most recent home.
He’d splurged, cutting into his carefully-monitored funds to buy Faith a present. He knew she wasn’t expecting anything and that she rarely complained about their sparse existence, and it was that which made him even more determined to spoil her just a little.
Since their arrival in England almost six months ago, Faith had, on occasion, sighed wistfully over the lack of American chocolate. What she saw in her beloved Hershey’s, when to his mind it was far outclassed by Cadbury, he would never know. He’d finally managed to find a shop that stocked a good assortment and had bought up everything they had in stock. The little girl excitement that had lit her face when she’d opened the box filled to the brim with her favourite treats had been worth all the trouble, and her chocolate-flavoured kisses had almost made a convert of him as he swore Hershey’s had never tasted so good.
Her reaction to his other gift had surprised him, and left him feeling more than a little smug. It had been unplanned; the finely-crafted black leather-bound photo album displayed in the shop window had caught his eye and he’d purchased it on a whim. He’d placed the few photographs they had accumulated in their year and a half on the run—mostly of Connor in various stages of development—and added the latest, a ‘family’ photograph taken the week before when they’d taken Connor to visit Father Christmas. He’d then wrapped it, thinking it would be something she would appreciate as serviceable—making storing their photographs simpler. The look on her face, the way her fingers had caressed the soft leather, the tears she quickly blinked away and her emotion-chocked voice as she thanked him had both astounded and pleased him more than he’d imagined possible.
The droning whirr of the hairdryer from the bathroom cut off, dragging Wesley from his reminiscence. The door opened and he swallowed hard, the contented lassitude that had enveloped him washed away by a swift surge of lust as Faith stepped into the room.
The slayer’s long shapely legs were bare to the hem of her saucily-cut crimson satin boxers, and his eyes devoured her, continuing to drift upwards over an exquisitely toned stomach to another swathe of crimson. A wide red satin ribbon wrapped around her upper torso to tie in a bow in the centre of her chest, the tails of the ribbon falling to frame her belly button enticingly. The cold bite of the night air, or possibly Faith’s own excitement, caused her nipples to peak, their outline clearly visible through the fine material. He licked his lips unconsciously as she sashayed towards him, propping himself up on his elbows so as not to miss any of the show.
She smiled knowingly, her eyes darkening with lust as her tongue flicked out to wet her own lips in turn. “Thought you might like to unwrap your present,” she purred, her hands trailing teasingly down her curves to come to rest on the mattress by his feet. Her eyes narrowed as she fixed him with a predatory gaze before climbing onto the bed and crawling up his body to claim his mouth in a passionate kiss.
Chapter 6: Some Fools Think of Happiness
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.