Long, tan fingers draped across the steering wheel of the Jeep Cherokee. The light, rhythmic thumping of the padded tips against the tightly wrapped leather echoed through the quiet of his mind, if not the vehicle.
Wes slanted his eyes to his passenger, the corners of his lips tipping slightly in amusement as Faith sang, loudly and off-key, to the sound of Breaking Benjamin. The roaring rock was not his usual taste in music, but he'd relinquished control over the stereo as a means of keeping the peace during what had become a rather lengthy road trip.
He'd only wanted to get out of L.A. Jasmine had been defeated, though he hadn't had much of a part in it aside from adoring her, heaping her with accolades and devotion. He'd failed to be a part of the solution; Angel, and ultimately Connor, were responsible for conquering her. The fact of the matter was that he hadn't wanted to stay once it was all over. He'd felt somewhat empty and directionless.
It was a call from Faith that had inspired him to just walk away. Or drive away, to be more accurate. Sunnydale was behind her, she'd done her part. She had no interest in helping to rebuild the Council, even with Giles at its helm; her feelings were very similar to his on the matter. Rupert had invited him to be a Senior Watcher, to assist in the training of new Slayers and Watchers. He'd politely declined, feeling that anything he could contribute to that society wouldn't be what they needed.
They'd both needed to move on from what L.A. had to offer them, so when she called, said she was back in L.A. and needed some action, he'd spontaneously suggested they hit the road. If she was shocked to hear such an invitation from him she didn't show it, and met him at the Hyperion two hours later. She'd thrown the two duffel bags that carried all her material possessions in the world into the back of the Cherokee and piled into the passenger seat, giving him a cheeky grin. "Where are we headed, Boss?"
Wes had no answer, but it didn't matter. She just settled back into the seat and rifled through a duffel bag full of leather, CDs, and stakes. She picked one of her CDs and cranked the volume up while he pointed the SUV east and just drove. When he asked her if it bothered her to not have a final destination pinpointed, she only shrugged. "I figure our little flight will stop when we get to where we're supposed to be. And we'll know it for what it is when we land."
He took her at her word. They spent four days on the road, driving every way but back. Inspired, he latched onto what remained of Historic Route 66, following it for awhile before it disappeared, then picking it back up again. They went off the path to see random tourist attractions, then made their way back to move on to the next town, city, state. He took them through Arizona, stopping at the Grand Canyon because neither of them had ever seen it before and he considered that a waste. He was awed at the vastness of the canyon, feeling not just a little insignificant. He could see the same in Faith's eyes, but she dealt with it by being silent and edgy, so he reluctantly slid behind the wheel and they continued on.
Faith jumped enthusiastically when they saw the sign suggesting "GET YOUR KICKS ON" next to another Route 66 sign, complete with a picture of a burro. She begged until he turned around and went back so she could hop out, stand next to the sign with a huge, cheesy grin while he took her picture. Shaking his head with an amused smile, he watched her bounce back to the Jeep and climb in.
He wondered if his impulsive decision to take her with him when he left would be one that would come back to haunt him, but every minute spent with her, no matter if they were talking or just enjoying the silence, only made him realize that they were good together. Their teamwork, the way they fought side by side during Angelus, proved that she understood him, better than the rest of them had. It was a pleasant surprise, considering he'd once thought she knew absolutely nothing about him.
They meandered through Arizona and New Mexico for two days, although Faith complained more than once that she was tired of seeing desert, red dirt, and cacti. Only she said "cactuses," and Wes mildly corrected her. It spawned an argument, but Wes was certain that it had more to do with the fact that she was feeling restless and needed to take a bite out of something, or more accurately someone, to get her blood pumping. Wes wasn't surprised; it had been three solid days and she hadn't picked a fight once. She was due.
He appeased her by checking them into the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, which for some odd, perverse reason, she found a great deal of pleasure snickering about. He paid for her order of a Pay-Per-View movie and groaned when he realized it was an Adam Sandler film. Though "film" might have been too aristocratic a word to describe it; "tripe" was the term he thought most appropriate. Voicing his opinion earned him a glare from Faith and a remote winged at his chest, so he shut up and buried himself in a copy of Sensler's Demonic Heritage.
Luckily for him it was easy to ignore her mood. She had her bed and he had his; though they slept in the same room, they kept their separate spaces. After being cooped up in the same vehicle with him for days, she made it clear that she was going to do whatever she wanted. He was welcome to subscribe to the same theory as long as he didn't bother her. The unaccustomed time spent together kept them circling each other warily until they got used to the others' rhythm.
She breathed a sigh of relief as they left the state line of New Mexico behind when they crossed into Texas. At Faith's urging, Wes had driven without stopping, then on through Oklahoma and Kansas. He was anxious to be moving north, through the Midwest, but he refrained from telling her so that she wouldn't smirk smugly and needle him about being right all the time.
On the fifth day after leaving L.A., they ended up in Missouri. Faith was bitching about the humidity, but Wes refused to listen as he took in their surroundings while he drove. The lushness, the verdant foliage, soothed him. It reminded him, a little, of England. He hadn't thought much about his home in a long time, but the greenness brought it back to him. It caused him to go slowly, taking his time and enjoying it.
They'd driven for several hours, the car vibrating from the blare of Faith's music but otherwise quiet, when she perked up. "Wes, take that exit!" she urged, pointing to one that led into Stanton.
It had become a habit to listen to Faith when she told him where to go, so he guided the Cherokee down the exit ramp and took the turn she indicated. "Where are we going?" he asked, curious what had caught her attention.
Her eyes were shining. "Meramec Caverns," she responded with a grin. "Jesse James' hideout. I figure I might not be a criminal anymore, but it'd be kinda cool to see where one of the most famous ones bunked down."
He laughed at her enthusiasm, feeling very young and carefree himself at the moment. The unhurried trip had done wonders for him, loosening the tension in his body, relaxing him so that he could enjoy the simplicity of being on the road without a final destination in mind.
He accompanied Faith on her tour of Meramec Caverns, smiling periodically at the look in her eyes or the snappy one-liners she popped off. It was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.
Afterward, she grinned at him over frozen custard at Ted Drewes, another attraction just off the road. He resisted the urge to take his napkin and wipe the smears of butterscotch off the corner of her mouth, but he nearly groaned aloud when her tongue darted out to clean up the traces of custard that clung to her lips.
It was that one single moment that disturbed him, created a heightened awareness of her. All of a sudden he saw her as being sensual, instead of just sexual. Sensual was dangerous.
He supposed that was why he now stood in the door of their room at Vernelle's Motel, holding the key and staring in dismay at the single bed. Somehow, he never considered that at some point they might have to share a bed; they'd survived sleeping in the same room by pretending the other hadn't existed, but now, they'd be forced to sleep right next to each other. Considering the sensations that had assaulted him that afternoon, he wasn't sure he could lie next to her and pretend she was still just the friend he'd started the journey with.
"I call the bed!" She tossed her bag on it, then fell face-down, her arms and legs splayed over its surface. Wes could see the quilt was pleasantly quaint, homey, and appeared soft to the touch. A smile crossed his lips when she snuggled her cheek against it and closed her eyes, sighing blissfully. "It's nice to be off my ass for once," she mumbled, her words muffled by the material her mouth was pressed against. "Those leather seats of yours are nice, Wes, but it's hard being on my ass for hours every day."
His eyes involuntarily strayed toward the object of her concerns. "It'd be a shame to damage such a nice one," he murmured unthinkingly.
She popped off the bed like she was spring-loaded. "Wes, tell me you didn't just check out my ass," she said, laughing.
He swallowed. "I'm going to go speak with the desk manager," he said, avoiding her challenge. He tossed her the key, which she caught with a frown, and shut the door behind him.
He came back an hour later and found her sprawled in a plastic chair on the front porch, fast asleep. He smiled fondly, thinking she looked amazingly innocent and childlike in sleep. Her fierceness, her brashness, melted away when she closed her eyes.
He tried to sneak into the motel room, but the sound of the door squeaking woke her and she opened one eye skeptically. "That desk manager better have told you where to get food."
"He did." He held up the plastic sack of groceries as a peace offering. She stretched as she rose out of the chair, her back arching and tightening the fabric of her top over her firm breasts. Averting his eyes, Wes continued into the room, holding the door open for her to follow. He set the sack down on the table and let her paw through it while he turned on the TV.
"Oh, sweet," she exclaimed, unearthing a slightly mashed box of powdered sugar donuts. She tore into the packaging, lifted one to her mouth and bit happily into it.
Wes turned, witnessed the cascade of powdered sugar down her front, and couldn't help but laugh. "You're making a mess."
She looked down, shrugged. "Don't care. That's what showers are for."
"Or mouths," he added, and winced.
Gaze narrowing, Faith set the donut back into the box and faced him, her hands settled firmly on her hips. "What gives, Wes?" she asked suspiciously. "You either fumble or you take, but I've never known you to hint. Is there something going on in that British head of yours that I should know about?"
He debated for a moment, but Faith saved him from answering. She sauntered toward him, hips swaying, an amused, cat-like smile in place. Slipping her arms around his neck, she arched her hips against his. "If you're ready to get horizontal, babe, just say the word. I've been itching for some action since before you busted me out of lockup," she added.
Her bluntness had the effect of cold water in his face, which made him shove her away. "Really, Faith," he said scathingly, his gaze running insultingly down her body. "If I'd wanted what you're offering, I could have had it long ago."
A flash of fire heated her dark eyes for only an instant before they iced over again. She gave him a dismissive glance and turned away. "Fine. Have fun sleeping on the floor," she snapped, stripping the halter top and shorts from her slim frame and tossing them on the floor.
Wes swore under his breath, both at his unnecessary reaction and the sight of her body so temptingly bared to him. The truth of it was that for an instant he'd remembered Lilah's face instead of seeing hers, until she spoke. Taking her up on her invitation wasn't fair to either of them if he was thinking of someone else, so he'd hurt her to push her away.
But since when had the word fair ever applied to their lives?
He pulled his shirt off and laid it over the back of one of the wooden chairs, standing over the bed and staring down at her, regret for his abrupt actions evident in his eyes. She was turned away from him, her face buried in the pillow. Hesitantly, he stepped over to the bed and placed a hand on the small of her back, feeling her muscles tense up underneath his palm.
"If I said I was sorry, would it matter?"
The words were gentle, apologetic, but the tone only mollified her a little. "I don't know. Maybe."
"And if I did this?" He moved his hand, rubbing her back in small circles until she nearly purred.
"Fuck, Wes." She rolled over, propping herself up on her elbows and looking searchingly into his eyes. "What kind of fucking game are you playing here?"
He shook his head, sinking down onto the bed with her. "I'm not entirely sure, Faith," he said honestly. "I never meant to play a game at all."
"Then why the cold shoulder?" She tried to make the question casual and indifferent, but he could sense the confusion underlying it.
"Because for an instant, it wasn't you I saw," he admitted.
She nodded slowly, taking that in. "Would it help if I told you it doesn't matter? I don't care about your past, Wes. I care about here and now."
It didn't surprise him. She never had been one for past or future, only present. She wouldn't have given any kind of a damn about Lilah, except maybe in the sense that her death had hurt him. That might prompt a bit of compassion, as much as Faith knew how to give.
"Here and now, I'm with you," he said instead, and she smiled.
"So what are you waiting for?"
He didn't answer, preferring action at this point. Dipping his head, he flicked his tongue over one pink nipple, listening in delight as she groaned low in her throat.
"God, Wes," she breathed. "It's been so fucking long. I need this."
She grabbed the hand that wasn't bracing his body, yanking it and settling it on her other breast.
at her impatience.
His palm rubbed over her nipple, abrading it with the rough skin, and she gasped. His strong fingers squeezed the full flesh lightly, rhythmically, and she writhed underneath his touch.
"More," she panted. "I need more, dammit."
He lifted his mouth to hers, brushing his lips against hers gently, teasing them. She reached up and grabbed his hair in both hands, tugging it as she pulled him closer to her, sliding her tongue in his mouth and thrusting it against his. Their tongues wrapped around each other, crashing against teeth and stroking against the roofs of their mouths.
Breaking away from the kiss, she shot a hand in the direction of his waistband. He closed his eyes as she attacked the button of his jeans, sliding the zipper down, pulling the fabric apart. "Never figured you for a briefs man," she said with a throaty laugh, cupping him through the black material, massaging him with her slender fingers.
Wes hissed a breath out between his teeth as he arched into her stroking touch. "Christ, Faith," he grated. She smiled, triumphant.
"That's nothing, Wes," she said with a sly grin. She leveled up into a sitting position, then pulled him into a standing one so that she could slide his jeans and underwear down his legs. His cock was already half-hard, thickening and lengthening under her approving gaze. "That's gonna feel pretty fucking good inside me," she said appreciatively. Her gaze flicked up to his. "In more ways than one."
His breath caught in his throat when her head descended, her mouth engulfing his length in one move. Her hand wrapped around his cock as her lips worked over him, her tongue flirting with the slit in the head. She wrapped her tongue around his shaft, the stroking motions long and hard.
His legs wobbled and he dropped to his knees on the bed. Faith frowned until he rolled onto his back, clamped his hands around her hips and lifted her, settling her over him. She slid her legs apart, straddling his hips before she sank down.
They both moaned as his cock speared into her, driving into her warm, wet depths. "Holy shit, Wes," she gasped. She leaned forward and pressed her palms flat on either side of his chest to brace herself. She rose up slowly and then eased back down, taking her time, making both of them insane.
He grasped her waist, lifted her off of him and then pulled her back down as he thrust up. Their hips collided and she cried out, falling forward, her curtain of satiny hair closing around them, creating a private cocoon. He closed his eyes as he strained upward, burying himself deeper in her with each thrust.
Faith lifted herself back up, her hands finding purchase on his chest. Her fingernails scraped over his nipples as she rode him, her hips rising and falling rapidly. He caught her wrists with his hands, stilling her fingers so that the sensations wouldn't overcome him too soon.
She laughed, her voice breathless. "Too much for you, Wes?"
He shook his head, with effort. "Never too much, Faith," he panted, his eyes nearly crossing as she used her strength to squeeze him until it was just a hair away from being painful.
He narrowed his eyes as he gazed into her grinning face, before smiling darkly himself. "You don't play nice."
She laughed. "Naughty's so much more fun."
The look on his face was fierce and wicked. "Remember you said that."
He rolled them over so that he was on top. He laid himself along her body, his hips rolling slowly, his cock barely moving inside her. Pinned underneath him, she whimpered. "Okay, you're really not playing fair."
"I'm just being naughty," he teased. "Didn't you just say that was more fun?"
"It's fun when it's me," she muttered, arching up and crying out when he suddenly thrust deep. "Oh, fuck," she moaned, her voice harsh.
He pulled back a little and lifted her legs, placing them on his shoulders and bracing against them as he began pistoning into her, hard and fast. She cried out breathlessly over and over, her words tumbling over themselves.
"Fuck, oh shit, God, Wes, please, holy fuck that feels good, oh God, Wes, I'm gonna come, oh fuck, please, oh God, WESSSS!" Her cries escalated into a keening wail that erupted from her throat as her body convulsed under his.
A ragged breath hissed through his clenched teeth as he picked up his pace, driving into her over and over again, the sensations building until his mind went blank.
He gasped out her name on a strangled breath as he came inside her. His shoulders and torso shuddered until he was depleted. Breathless and sweaty, he rolled off of her and lay on his back, his eyes closed while he tried to regain his composure.
He chuckled. "Yes, that about sums it up."
She gave him a faint grin. "Y'know, from the moment you and I jumped out of the prison, I kinda figured we'd end up here."
He raised an eyebrow and, sufficiently recovered, rolled to his side and propped himself up on one elbow. "Really."
"Yep. You were so fucking hot that I knew I'd bounce with you if you gave me any hint you wanted to, and you were just dark enough that I thought you might." She shrugged. "There were a lot of things I didn't know back then." As if it had been years ago instead of mere months.
He considered. "Is that why you agreed to go on this road trip?"
She thought about it. "Maybe. It wasn’t like I was sitting there going, 'Damn, me and Wes in a vehicle for a week, just us, hoo boy, I'm gettin' laid.' But maybe I was thinkin' it, somewhere inside."
Wes was pleased at her admission. It was nice to know he'd gotten to her the same way she had, unconsciously, gotten to him.
He stretched a hand toward her and she flinched, so he let it hang in the air before dropping it to the bed between them. They watched each other carefully for a few moments until Faith reached out, slid her fingers between his, and twined them together.
She was still lying with several inches between them, but she'd made the first move, and that was enough for him. Wes watched her as she closed her eyes, her fingers still tightly wrapped around his. Their joined hands were the last thing he saw before his own eyes closed.
As he drifted off, he thought about Faith's words that first day. She was confident that they'd know when their flight from L.A. was over.
Something told him they'd landed.