Secretary: Part Seventeen

by Jane Davitt


Tuesday March 8


The phone rings just as she's pushing the last piece of her raisin-cinnamon bagel into her mouth, and the guilty jump because she's eating it on the couch, not at the kitchen table, has her squeaking, 'Hello' into the phone, rather than just saying it, as she hastily swallows the bite whole.

"Faith."

Unless he's got cameras dotted around the place – she actually peers into a shadowy corner of the room before sanity prevails – he can't know where she is. And that blob of butter will totally clean up off the leather.

"Hey, Wes!" She snuggles down into the cushions. Ten in the morning's kinda early for phone sex – although they managed to get in the regular kind before Wes left for the office, staring at his watch in pained disbelief, and giving her a goodbye kiss so fast she barely felt it - but she's all in favor of him calling her to tell her he loves her.

"Entirely due to your importunate behaviour this morning –"

Or not.

"What, you mean waking you up with a blow job? Most men would say they preferred it to an alarm clock, Wes."

There's a long moment in which she swears she hears his lips tighten. "As I was saying, due to the interruption of my normal routine –"

"We can schedule that in any time you like, Wes. Maybe alternating mornings and you can return the favor on the other –"

"Faith, will you please stop interrupting me?" It's the ominously polite voice he uses when he's seriously annoyed and she frowns, but has the sense to keep her lip buttoned – hard when you're pouting, but she manages it. "Thank you. In my haste, because, as I may have mentioned, I have an important meeting this morning." Oh, shit, yes he has. Like, about twenty times last night. No wonder he was so wound. "I neglected to pick up the folder I brought home with me. It's on my desk."

She walks with the phone into his study. Yep. There it is. Navy-blue and bulging and the reason they'd had gone to bed not speaking, because he'd spent four solid hours working on it and refused to break even when she'd made him supper. Which, OK, had been a frozen dinner nuked for five minutes, but she'd fancied it up with a flower, used the best china... and an hour later scraped it into the trash, with her own lips pretty fucking thin.

The wake-up call had been her way of calling a truce, and it'd worked at the time, or so she'd thought. She sighs. "Yeah, looking right at it, Wes."

"Good. I'm going to send someone over to pick it up –"

"No need," she chirps, already heading for the bedroom to get changed. "I'll bring it over myself."

"What?"

"You said you'd show me your office and you haven't," she reminds him, trying to pull her tank top over her head without moving the phone from her ear – doesn't work. "And it'd save time. If someone has to come all the way out here and back – well, you do the math."

There's a pause and then he says, reluctantly. "Very well. Ask for Anya at the reception desk and she'll come down to meet you and collect it. But I don't have time to give you a tour today."

"Anya? But I want to see you, Wes!"

"I'll be in my meeting by then, I'm afraid." He clears his throat. "Thank you, Faith." He sounds a little uneasy for some reason but there's nothing in his final words apart from a load of amused condescension. "I trust you've finished your breakfast? Eaten, I suppose, curled up on the couch?"

She bites her lip in frustration because sometimes, it'd be nice to get away with something. "Yeah," she bites out. "All done eating." There's a waiting, expectant pause and she grudgingly adds, "There was this show I wanted to watch and I can't see the screen from the kitchen, you know I can't –"

His voice drops to this astonished whisper. "Excuses, Faith? Since when do I allow those to make a difference?" His voice takes on the dreamy tone it gets when he's picturing her naked. "I think as you're so fond of that piece of furniture you'll get to spend tonight bent over it. I'm sure I can find a way – several ways – to keep you from being bored..."

She can think of a few herself and starts planning to eat all her meals sprawled out on the couch if that's what it gets her.

"But as I'll doubtless be working again, perhaps you'll just have to entertain yourself, as best you're able when you're forbidden to move."

The heat from picturing him delicately dragging his finger over skin he's turned scarlet or pressing her thighs open to slide his tongue deep into her slicked-up depths vanishes.

"Look, do you want this folder, or not?" she snaps.

"Anya will order a cab," he snaps back, all business again. "Please make sure you're waiting in the foyer when it arrives. It shouldn't be long, so no dawdling."

The phone clicks in her ear and she gives it a narrow-eyed glare before tossing it on the bed. She's already showered, but she's in slob around the house clothes and her hair's a mess.

"Not going in looking like this," she mutters, wriggling out of her sweat pants.

It takes thirty seconds of intensive, high-speed rummaging to zero in on the perfect outfit to visit your –God, she can't say it without grinning – fiancé's office and meet his bitch-queen of a secretary for the first time.

She wants to make it something she would've worn into work; show Anya just how Wes likes his secretaries to look, although it hadn't better give her any ideas. It would take too long to get into her corset, but she doesn't really need it under this slim-fitting Celine suit in black, with the six large buttons on the tailored jacket fastening it up to her throat. Not that the lack of skin showing means it's all that demure though, especially when she finishes sleeking back her hair and applying a bright slash of lipstick. Because that's when she reaches for the leather gloves Wesley insisted made the outfit, thin black leather, long enough that even with the three-quarter sleeves of the jacket, her arms are encased from shoulder to fingertips.

It's been to the dry cleaners twice, but she's never worn it outside the apartment. The second time she collected it, the elderly lady who ran the place, and her three sons, with an iron will that made even Wesley look like a pussycat, had cleared her throat ominously and tapped her finger against the swathed folds of the suit.

"This is a beautiful suit."

"Thanks."

"A young girl like you should be proud to own such a beautiful suit."

Faith had blinked. "Umm, yeah. I am."

The finger stabbed at her. "Then you make him wait, yes? Two minutes to take it off and hang it up, that's all. A nice, wooden hanger, with the padding... make him wait." She'd smiled and lowered her voice, after one quick glance down at the ring Faith was wearing on her left hand. "Always make him wait." There was the faintest droop of an eyelid and a cackle of laughter as Faith blushed and got out with, yeah, about a shred of dignity left.

And when she'd told Wesley, he'd listened in silence and then drawled "It's just a suit, Faith. Something standing between me and your body. If I want to I'll bloody well tear it off you. Now why don't you remind me how it looks with you inside it?"

And she'd got in his face, so close she could count his eyelashes if she'd wanted to, and told him exactly what she'd do if he so much as tore a single stitch on a single seam, and she must've been convincing because he managed to whip her, fuck her and make her scream, without doing more than crease the skirt.

She wants to see his face when she wears it to his office, because it might look elegant and professional to the rest of the world, but to him she's going to look like the poster girl for fuck me now... and while he's getting off on that hidden-in-plain-sight mind fuck, she'll be deep in a fantasy of her own.

One that means Anya's out of a job.

She's halfway down the hallway when she remembers the folder.

Oops.

***

The cab that arrives about sixty seconds after her black suede heels have tapped their way across the lobby floor is driven by the surliest cabbie in the city, who does no more than grunt when she tells him where to go, and sneer in his mirror when she tells him it's urgent.

It's not like she was planning on telling him her life story but she's still ticked enough to made a big deal out of opening the file and pretending to read it, like she's too busy to talk anyway.

And Wes'd probably have fits, what with confidentiality and all, but she's so not interested in what it's about – just wants to look for anything in brown ink, anything with that familiar crabbed, scrawled writing on it.

She strikes gold three pages in, and gets positively misty-eyed over what looks to be some notes of his that reach new height of incomprehensibility but are still bringing back memories.

Then she turns a page and stiffens.

It's a neatly-typed letter – yeah, well, on a computer, anyone can produce one of those - and it's by Anya, because there's a terse, scribbled note from Wes in the margin: 'A – retype. W W-P'.

But really, she's unable to focus on anything but the red circle in the center of the page where Wes has homed in on a typo with his trusty Sharpie.

She swallows back a howl of indignation and gets a short laugh from the cab driver. "What you do? Swallow your gum?"

She fixes his reflection in the mirror with a bared-teeth grimace. "No, but I can spit it on the floor if you'd like."
 
He laughs again and guess insulting him breaks the ice, because he doesn't fucking shut up for the next eight, endless minutes, telling her about how his little granddaughter upchucked at Disneyland, right at the top of the Ferris wheel, until they get to Travers & Giles and she's left shivering on the sidewalk, clutching Pandora's Box to her chest and brimful of seethe,

It's not like she really thinks Wes is following up the typo search-and-destroy with anything that'd raise Rupert's eyebrows if he walked in on it. No. She trusts him to, like, the hilt.

It's just...

The automatic doors swing open and she finds herself inside an upscale reception bigger than Wesley's entire floor space in the last place.

Just that those red circles are –were- part of the game. A signal, a message, an unspoken question from him to her and back again.

They weren't something he should be fucking doing with anyone but her.

There's a soft, meaningful cough from a woman behind the reception desk and she turns and stalks over to her, the slight flare of the skirt at knee level making it possible for her to walk quickly, even in the four-inch heels she's wearing.

"Hi." She brandishes the file at her. "I'm supposed to ask for Anya. Anya Jenkins." She grits her teeth. "Mr Wyndam-Pryce's secretary."

"Personal assistant."

Faith spins around and she's nose-to-nose with Ms Jenkins at long last.

"Anya."

"Faith."

Anya's pretty. All blonde curls and yeah, totally not natural, but Faith has to admit grudgingly that it suits her. She's wearing a red dress, in some thin stretchy stuff, and that suits her too, clinging to curves without making her look skanky.

It dawns on Faith, with a rising indignation, that this woman saw more of Wes yesterday – and the day before that – than she did, what with all the barricading himself into his study kick.

Anya tilts her wrist and studies her watch with an intent little frown. "I expected you sooner," she says, holding out her other hand. "Please give me the folder."

Faith checks her own watch and smacks the folder down against Anya's outstretched palm, following Wesley's instructions to the letter.

Which means now she's on her own time...

Anya gives her a curt nod and an insincere smirk before turning and walking briskly to the elevators. Faith waits until the doors begin to open and then slips through them with an elegant wiggle of her ass. Yeah. In this suit, even ass-wiggling takes on a sophisticated gloss.

Anya's hand shoots out and her finger jabs against the button controlling the doors. "Excuse me?"

Faith turns and studies her lipstick in the mirrored wall. Hmm. Looking good. "Why? What did you do?" The old ones are the best...

"Where are you going? You don't have an appointment."

Faith gives her reflection a smile. "Now, see, you don't know that, do you? 'Cause you're Wes' secretary, so you just know who he's due to see. Maybe I'm here to see someone else."

Anya's finger must be getting tired, and the elevator doors are starting to whine in protest, but she keeps her finger pressed hard against the button.

"Such as?"

"Lindsey... Francis..."

"They're in the meeting too."

"Rupert..."

Anya's finger slips and the doors slam close.

"He's in the-"

"Meeting, yeah, I got it," Faith says. "Hope you've got a nice big conference room."

"It seats twenty," Anya says in a chip of ice voice. "So now you know there's no one to see, there's hardly any point in coming up, is there?"

Faith turns and gives Anya her best innocent look, all wide-eyed and sweet. "Rupert told me he couldn't wait to show me around. Said I was welcome to drop in any time."

Speechless, Anya turns an interesting shade of pink, and Faith studies her with a small smile.

"Or I can just wait in Wesley's office until he's free."

"I'm not authorized to allow that," Anya says. She recovers enough to give Faith a tight smile. "In fact my only specific, never rescinded, instructions regarding you are not to put your calls through, so I'm far from inclined to allow you to –"

The elevator comes to a halt and the doors slide open, two floors too early, revealing Rupert Giles, who sees Anya and hesitates visibly before his gaze goes to Faith.

A delighted smile lights up his face as he steps inside. "Faith! Well, how delightful! Wesley didn't say you were coming to visit us, my dear."

Faith returns his smile with a dimple on top. "He didn't know," she says in a confiding voice. "I was just planning to wait in his office and maybe surprise him when the meeting's over."

Rupert grins. "Well, hopefully we'll be breaking for lunch at some point – I just took advantage of my rank and slipped out for a breath of fresh air before I fell asleep - but until then perhaps Anya here wouldn't mind –" His gaze falls to the folder Anya's carrying and he frowns. "Anya? Is that the Powers file? Good Lord, no wonder Wesley's been stalling in there without it!"

"Yes, see, that's why I –" Faith begins, but Anya's way ahead of her.

"Mr Wyndam-Pryce had used the incorrect colored folder," Anya says primly. "I took it away to be rebound. I'm returning it to him now." She meets Rupert's glare calmly.

He shakes his head and takes it from her. "Really, Anya, I expected you to show a little more common sense than that." His voice is coldly disapproving and Faith's not surprised that Anya's eyes drop, a flush staining her cheeks. "I'll get it to him, but this must not happen again, do you hear me?"

"Yes, sir," Anya murmurs as the elevator doors slide open.

Rupert gives Faith a warm smile, in marked contrast to his chilly glare at Anya – and Faith's seeing a whole new side to him that somehow doesn't do anything to stop flirting with him being fun – then pats her arm, and leaves, the file tucked under his arm.

"This is our floor too," Anya says dully, stepping out of the elevator.

Faith follows her out into a long hallway and they walk in silence to an outer office. Anya shuts the door and nods towards what must be Wes' place. "In there. Help yourself. Rummage through his drawers, disorganize his books. Whatever."

"You know, loyalty's one thing, but Wes is a big boy," Faith tells her, a little touched by the misery in Anya's eyes, which are brimming with tears. "He can take being told off by Rupert for leaving that file at home. Not saying he'd like it, but he'll live."

Anya dabs at her wet eyes and tucks her hanky away. "I'm his personal assistant," she says. "It's my job to see that his life runs smoothly. I knew he'd taken that file home, and I should have called him this morning to remind him to bring it."

"You really shouldn't," Faith says, picturing Wes chatting to Anya while his cock was halfway down her throat. "Trust me, that wouldn't have been a good idea."

Anya frowns. "Why? I have his home number and he told me I was free to use it."

"Say what?" Faith asks ominously. "It's my home too, and if you think you can call Wes at all hours about work, think again."

"You really don't care if he's successful, do you?" Anya says. "You're disrupting his routine all the time with phone calls and emails - and I saw the way you were flirting with Rupert."

"And, let me guess, it's that last one that's really the issue, isn't it?" Faith demands. "Listen, Rupert's – yeah, kinda hot in an older-guy way, and I like him a lot, but the flirting's just a game we play. He knows how I feel about Wesley."

She's seen Rupert three times since Wes had her make up that story about him, and this is the first time she hasn't blushed hotly. It occurs to her that Rupert might think she does have a crush on him, the way she gets all flustered. Especially as once she's relaxed a bit, she's gone in for some heavy-duty eyelash fluttering just to pay Wes back.

Which means as soon as Rupert's gone, Wes pulls out all the stops to make her see that she can play that game all she wants, as long as she's willing to pay his price.

Which means the next time she sees Rupert she's got even more reason to blush... God, it's a never-ending circle of blush, flirt, beg for mercy...

"Just a game," she repeats firmly.

Anya rolls her eyes and picks up a sheaf of papers. "Right."

Faith's patience is fraying. "Anya, Wes and me –"

"'Wes and I'." Anya corrects her.

"You are unfuckingbelievable," Faith hisses, slamming her gloved hands down on Anya's desk.

To her surprise, Anya flushes, dropping her head into her hands and groaning. "Oh God, I'm sorry! I didn't – that was rude, wasn't it?"

"Well, kinda," Faith says, trying, and failing, to dial back on the sarcasm.

Anya sighs, looking up at her. "It's his fault," she confides. "Mr Wyndam-Pryce's."

"You can call him 'Wesley' and I won't tell," Faith says, perching on the edge of Anya's desk. "Why is it his fault?"

Anya stands up, fetches Faith a chair and sits down again, blowing her nose on a Kleenex snagged from a box. "He's so fussy about things like that," she says. She gives Faith an enquiring look. "Was he with you? Really focused? Obsessed with details no one else cares about? Insane on the subject of commas, the correct use of and oh my God, I nearly ended that sentence with a preposition, now I'm going to grammar hell?"

Faith can't help giggling. "Oh, yeah. But I kind of tuned it out." Because she was too busy watching his mouth shape the words and dreaming about how it would feel on her.

Anya sniffs. "I haven't mastered that little trick yet," she says mournfully. "And I'm never going to get his tea the way he likes it."

"Rupert said he'd had you running all over the place looking for the perfect teabag," Faith says without thinking.

Anya's head jerks up. "What? Rupert mentioned me? When?"

"Ah... it was just a casual comment, y'know," Faith says uncomfortably. "When he took me and Wes – Wes and I – Wes and me - us, shit, Anya, you've made me tongue-tied! – when he took us out for dinner."

"It doesn't matter," Anya says drearily, the hopeful look fading. "It's not like I expected him to even know I exist."

"Oh, he knows," Faith says. "And he knows you've got the hots for him too, but I think you're like, coming on a bit strong? Plus, there's the whole boss/employee thing going on."

The look Anya gives her at that is pointed enough to leave holes. "Wes and me - that was different," Faith says hastily.

"If you say so," Anya replies, with a bit of snark creeping back in. "And you're quite mistaken. I've been utterly professional at all times around Rup-Mr Giles, and there's no possible way –"

"He knows." Faith shakes her head. "God, he's not blind! You're, like, all fluttery around him."

"And you're not?" Anya hisses. "You were practically knocking him over batting your eyelashes like that."

"Only because you were there," Faith says. "The one time we were on our own together? Totally different. We just talked. The flirting is strictly for when we're in public and there's someone with us, trust me."

A silence falls and Faith eyes the door to Wesley's office. God, she wants to get in there and just see it... All those times he calls her and she wants to be able to picture where he's sitting as he drawls out instructions about how he wants her waiting naked and collared, legs hooked over the arms of the chair, he's told her to place directly in line with the door, cunt so wet that he can walk over to her and push his fingers inside her in one hard, possessive thrust, thumb rubbing in a slow grind against her throbbing clit and watch her jerk and gasp and come, because he's told her if she doesn't, if she isn't that desperate, that ready, he's going to make sure she doesn't get to come at all that night.

It's a threat he's only had to carry out once and she only survived it because he relented at last and let her persuade him – and by then she'd been getting very fucking persuasive – that midnight could count as the end of her torment, not the following morning as he'd planned.

"I can't imagine Mr Wyndam-Pryce ever – I mean – how did you get him to see you like that?" Anya blurts out. "I've worked for him for nine months and he's so – distant. He didn't even notice when I went for lunch as a redhead and came back blonde!"

"Oh, he'd have noticed," Faith says, rolling her eyes sympathetically, 'cause, really, Wes can overdo the not noticing other women thing sometimes. "Just wouldn't have said anything. And, uh, we discovered we had stuff in common and it just went from there." God, she's being so fucking tactful! "Just the two of us all day, small office... small town..." She summons up a smile. "Never mind us. Ancient history and I don't think it'd really apply to you and Rupert anyway."

Anya pulls open a drawer and takes out a mirror, studying her reflection mournfully and cursing inventively when she sees the smudges of mascara. Faith watches her do some running repairs and asks curiously, "So you're not seeing anyone else? Just... waiting?"

"Oh, I've been dating," Anya admits. "Here at work, trying to –"

"Make Rupert jealous," Faith finishes. "Good luck on that one; I can't seem him falling for it somehow." Anya gives her an expectant look and Faith shrugs helplessly. "God, don't look at me for relationship advice! Not got the best track record in that department."

Anya glances at the ruby and platinum ring on Faith's finger. "Oh, I don't know about that," she said, but there's no malice in her voice.

"Look, can I just go and see-" Faith nods at Wesley's office and stands up, edging towards the door.

"Well, I suppose so," Anya says. "But don't move anything. I tidied his desk once and God, you'd have thought I'd shredded the entire contents of every file the way he reacted."

"He's got, like, this system," Faith offers. "He sorts it into piles, puts everything he doesn't want to do right in front of him and kinda nibbles away at it. If you mixed that in with the quick fix pile, he'd have been lost."

Anya gives her a look that says just what she thinks about people who don't stick to the simplicity of an in tray and an out tray and picks up a file. Faith takes the hint and goes through into Wesley's new office, pushing the door to, but not closing it.

It's so different from his last one; lighter and more open for one thing; high up, with the city busy beneath and a distant hum of noise even the triple glazing can't cloak.

But there's too much familiar about it for her not to feel at home – and not to feel a quiver as she runs her hand along the edge of his desk, dark wood and heavy, with, God, yes, his brass pen tidy, on it, just where he always used to keep it. Then she sees the red Sharpie nestled amongst the pencils and pens and bites her lip hard enough to leave it throbbing. It's all she can do to leave it there, not snatch it up and steal it.

There's a framed photograph too and she abandons her snit and moves around the desk to see if it's her – and it is, of course it is. He's taken one of the photographs she sent him – the first one, where she's smiling – and had it copied and cropped down so it's of just her head and the curve of her bare shoulders, cloaked by her hair. And with that to look at as he talks to her on the phone, it's no wonder he always seems to end up murmuring totally inappropriate suggestions to her because he knows she's naked and kneeling in that picture and he probably gets a kick out of displaying it openly in front of people who don't.

She smoothes down her skirt. Guess she can relate to that...

She's just about to sit down in his chair when she hears the outer door open and she turns eagerly, thinking it's him. Her hand's on the door when she hears Rupert's voice and she pauses, not wanting to interrupt. Eavesdropping is kinda tacky, but with the door not quite closed, it's also unavoidable.

"Anya?"

"Yes, Mr Giles?"

"You're a very silly girl, you know."

There's a pause and Faith doesn't need three guesses what Rupert's talking about. Wes totally 'fessed up, just as she'd known he would, and Rupert's feeling half-guilty, half-angry.

She can hear Anya's chair scrape back. "I'm not actually either of those things, Mr Giles." She wishes she could see Rupert's face because Anya's sounding cool and dignified now and it's got to be throwing him for a loop. "I acted as I did out of duty."

"Lying to me is your duty?" There's a kind of pained astonishment in Rupert's voice. "Anya, I applaud your loyalty, but you are, and always have been, part of my staff. I thought Wesley would benefit from having you to help him settle down – as he has – but make no mistake about it, you're on loan to him and I want you back. In fact –"

"I'd rather continue to work for Mr Wyndam-Pryce," Anya interrupts. "We suit each other and I find it refreshing to work for someone who's in a committed relationship and doesn't make inappropriate passes at me. I'm very happy here."

There's a long silence and then Rupert sighs. "Anya? It was one kiss, at Christmas, and I was drunk. Why don't you tell me if I should apologize for kissing you once - or not kissing you twice?"

And good question, Faith thinks, easing back from the door, because, OK, this really isn't something she should be hearing, but Anya doesn't get chance to answer because Wes walks in, timing it perfectly – or not – and there's one of those embarrassed, self-conscious silences followed by babbling.

Deciding that she might as well join in, she opens the door. "Hey, Wes." They turn to look at her, Anya and Rupert flushing a little, but all her attention's on Wesley, who's taking in the sight of her with narrowed eyes and a slow, deliberate scan of her from head to heels and back.

"Faith. I thought you were simply delivering the file and then leaving," he says blandly. "What a pleasant surprise."

She meets his mixed signals, feeling a few of her own, because even if she's getting used to seeing him all spiffed-up for work, she still melts a little at the sight of that perfectly-knotted tie – and he's wearing the one she got him today – resting against the crisp dazzle of his white shirt. But she's got a Sharpie-red mist in front of her eyes too, so she makes her smile cool. "When I had the chance to say hi to Rupert and meet Anya? As if."

"I'm glad you two had the chance to get to know each other," Rupert says, giving Anya a smile that has her smiling back – no surprise, as when he turns on the charm he's hard to resist. "Now then, Wesley. As I'm sure you'll be wanting to show Faith around, you won't mind if I whisk Anya away for a coffee?" He glances at his watch. "In fact, we might as well make that lunch. Anya?" He raises his eyebrows. "I really would be glad of the chance to continue our conversation."

Anya hesitates and then Faith's telepathic messages of, 'Say yes!' must get through because she nods silently and scoops up her coat and purse, brushing past Wesley with an upward glance that gets her a slight softening of his face- which, yeah, is looking grim – and a quiet, "Be back by one, please," that Faith hopes Rupert ignores.

When they're alone, he drums his fingers against his leg, studying her. "I suppose I can't blame you for the little mix-up that led to Rupert commiserating with me about the inadequacies of my, in point of fact, exemplary secretary –"

"Personal assistant," Faith corrects, "and no, I tried to tell him but she was in full on sacrifice-mode, don't know why." She shrugs. "Not like you're the sort to let her take the rap after all."

Wesley looks vaguely insulted at the very notion. "Hardly. I don't expect other people to pay for my carelessness." He shakes his head. "No, I don't blame you for that – but I do distinctly recall saying that I'd show you around when it was convenient. You've been impatient, Faith and you know how I view that particular character flaw."

She gives him a lazy smile. "Kinda naughty? Or did it get upgraded to wicked serious overnight?"

If he narrows his eyes much more, he won't be able to see her, so she gives him some incentive to open them by undoing the top button of her jacket so that the band of leather she's wearing is visible. He takes a quick, angry step forward and then pauses, visibly getting himself under control. "I see. Go into my office, Faith."

She turns, and she's not taken one step before he's beside her, his hand warm on the back of her neck, his fingers hooked inside the collar. "You," he says deliberately, "are not going to like what I do to you for wearing this outside, Faith. Not at all."

She jerks free of his hand and stalks into the office, whirling around to face him. "Oh, because, let me guess, you'll ignore me? Spend hours working, night after night? Newsflash, Wes, guess I must've done something terrible two weeks ago, 'cause that's all I've had from you since then." She reaches up and fumbles with the collar, undoing it and thrusting it at him. "Here. It's yours; take it back."

He lets her push it into his hand and his fingers curl around it protectively, even as a look of genuine anger hardens his features. "Faith, this is tedious and you're pushing me –" He pauses. "No," he says quietly. "I won't let you do this."

He walks around his desk and sits down in his chair, the collar still grasped in his hand. Once he's sitting, with her in front of him, awkward and uneasy, she might as well be dripping with rain, dressed in that ten-dollar skirt, not a thousand-dollar suit, because she's feeling that distant from him and he's looking like that much of a stranger.

He leans forward and places the collar on the desk, nudging it with his fingers until it's perfectly flat, a line she's crossed that divides them now.

"What have I done, Faith?" he asks her and he sounds pretty pleasant, all things considered. "Besides my job, that is, which, as you should know, is not, and never will be a 9 to 5 one. What, precisely, triggered this outburst? You chose to wear the collar, you chose to come up here – very well. The second isn't really too serious, as I know from Rupert that nothing you did delayed the safe arrival of the file – and yes, it was bloody important, Faith, so take that sulky pout off your face." He takes a deep breath as she schools her face into blankness. "Thank you. As I was saying, I'll overlook that, and I think dealing with your other indiscretion won't cause me any undue problems, but you weren't in quite this much of a bad mood earlier."

He leans back and steeples his fingers. "So. Tell me. Because I'm not letting silence and secrets and misunderstandings play any part in our relationship, Faith. Not again."

She's pinned in place by his blue stare, unable to look away. God, this would be so much easier if he'd just get angry like a normal man...

She takes a step forward and picks up the Sharpie. Once it's in her hand she's fighting the urge to throw it at him, but she's supposed to be all about the poise now, right? So she bends over, one hand flat on the desk, and places the pen parallel to the collar before straightening up.

His eyebrows rush together and he gives her a perplexed look. "Well, at least you've moved beyond the tediously predictable," he says dryly. "Try again, and might I suggest less charades, more actual words?"

"You've been using that pen," she chokes out. "On Anya's letters. I saw it."

He picks up the pen and turns it over in his hand, staring at it in bemusement before putting it back on the desk. "Sometimes, yes. When she makes mistakes. Why –"

"That's – it's us. It's not – it's –"

She's lost in incoherence and despair and when he pushes back his chair, pats his knee and says, "Come here," she's curled up against him and sniffling in a heartbeat, her arms around his neck and her face pressed against his jacket.

She's making a real effort not to cry over his jacket, but the soft strokes of his hand against her hair and the kisses he's pressing against her forehead aren't helping with that.

"Stop being nice," she snuffles eventually. "You're mad at me, remember?"

"I really should be," he agrees. "And were we to be at home, I'm sure I'd be able to ah, whip up a righteous fury –"

"Funny," she says, rolling her eyes. "Really funny, Wes."

"But I'm slightly hampered by our location and a small amount of guilt."

"About the pen?" she says, wondering if that, yeah, that connection they've got means he took her jumble of words and sorted them out to spell – well, 'mine' probably, taken down to the essentials. 'Cause he is. Hers. All his foibles, habits, maddening ways. Hers.

"What? No." The baffled look on his face is kind of cute but she sighs, because he's going to make her say it, isn't he, and she's going to feel like a totally needy, pathetic idiot. "I meant doing so much work at home. It should get better now the meeting's over, but I can't promise it won't happen again, because it almost certainly will."

"Did it go well? Your meeting?" she asks. "Did you, like totally kick their asses?"

His face squinches up in pained disapproval, but then he laughs. "Totally," he assures her. "Which is why Rupert was less annoyed with me than he should have been."

"Oh, like he's ever gonna get mad with you," she scoffs. "You're his whiskey-buddy from the old country. Practically family."

Wesley ducks his head, but there's this pleased little smile on his face. Then he gets right back to business. "Explain this pen fixation," he says, fixing her with a lawyer-like stare. "Because I confess to being at a loss."

"Do I have to? Can't you just take the afternoon off to show me the error of my ways and we can have make-up sex until you're too worn out to remember what I did to earn a spanking?"

He shakes his head slowly until the hopeful smile drops off her face. "I think not."

She's about to launch into the best explanation she can give that doesn't make her seem lame when a suspicion becomes a certainty. "You already know why I'm mad," she grits out. "Like I'm gonna be all over the, the symbolism and you're going to be clueless? No fucking way! And, no, I don't think if you start circling Anya's typos in red, next step is wanting to make her ass match it, but it's part of what we do – did – and I miss it and it's totally inappropriate for you to be doing it with her when it's part of what we do."

"Did."

"Yes," she hisses, 'cause he really doesn't need to rub it in that she's not, and never will be, his secretary.

He leans forward and kisses her, managing to place his hands so that every attempt to squirm away because she's worked herself into a sulk, just has her breasts or her ass getting caressed. "You're rather adorable when you're petulant," he decides. "Perhaps it's an association of ideas because it's inevitably followed by your equally adorable little arse getting spanked."

"Whatever, Wes," she says, giving up the struggle and pouting at him because she knows it'll get her another kiss.

Holding onto her firmly, he reaches out and picks up the Sharpie again. "So I'm not to use this with anything you haven't written..." he muses. "But as even I'm not likely to correct your shopping lists, that doesn't leave me much scope these days, does it?" He pops off the cap and stares thoughtfully at the fine, red tip. "There's something rather satisfying about using this," he says. "Permanent – no erasing it, is there? No hope of pretending you didn't make an error – and red's always been one of my favorite colors..." He smiles at her and taps the pen against his hand. "I think if I give way to you on this matter, Faith, you're going to have to make it up to me," he says. "Are you willing to do that?"

The quiver that runs through her puts them right back where they belong. "Sure, Wes," she says.

"Oh, I think you can do better than that as an answer considering where we are," he murmurs against her neck, dragging the tip of his tongue against her skin. "Let's try that again, shall we? Are you willing to do whatever I deem necessary to console me for the loss of one of my entirely innocent pleasures?"

"Yes... sir," she says with just enough of a gap between the words to get her ass pinched.

"You're not helping your case at all," he tells her. "But as you've agreed –" He stands up, tipping her off his knee and walks over to the door, locking it and turning around. "Lift up your skirt, Faith, as high as it will go, and bend over the desk. No; stay on that side of it, please."

She takes hold of the fabric and shimmies it up over her hips as he watches. She's wearing a flutter of French knickers in black satin, as close a match to the ones he bought her a year ago as she could find and he gives her an approving nod.

The desk's the perfect height for this and she feels the familiar stretch in her calf muscles as she eases her feet apart in the high heels she's wearing, that she knows he won't tell her to remove.

Walking slowly, still holding the Sharpie, he crosses the room and sits down behind her. She feels his fingers slide inside the silky fabric of her panties and find her clit, rubbing at it until she sighs out a whimper, her eyes fixed on her collar, just out of reach of her hands, palm-down against the wood. He tugs the panties down and she steps out of them.

Then there's a silence and a space behind her. She knows he's staring at her ass and the already damp, unfurling folds of her cunt, blatantly displayed with her legs this far apart and her back arched, but as the moments tick by without a touch she starts to feel uncomfortable.

"Wes?"

He clicks his tongue in reproof. "Please, Faith. I'm thinking..."

"About fucking me?" she asks hopefully. Girl can dream...

"Always, my sweet girl," he assures her. "But right now, I'm giving more consideration to... ah."

The satisfied note in his voice has her tensing in anticipation so that when his left hand comes to rest on her hip, she shivers.

"Perfectly still, Faith," he whispers. "I shouldn't need to tell you that."

A cool, wet point presses into her skin, just at the top of the cleft of her ass and she makes a startled sound but manages to hold her position. Then she feels the drag against her skin and squeaks. "Wes! You're – what the fuck are you doing?"

"Did I say you could speak?" he wonders aloud. "Well, perhaps I didn't stipulate silence, but I am now. No more words until I permit them, Faith."  He pauses, but she's learned that when he tells her to keep quiet, he really means it and she clenches her teeth and waits. "And I'm... playing," he says as if he's confessing to perversions too shocking for words. "This is really quite fun... I was going to keep it relatively simple but –"

He falls silent then, concentrating on what he's doing, which, as far as she can tell, is doodling on her fucking ass with a Sharpie. A permanent marker, which, fine, when it comes to skin isn't all that accurate, but even so.

She's so busy freaking over the very idea that she loses track of what's actually getting immortalized on her skin and she tries to work it out by the lingering sensation in her skin from the track of the nib. It's only when he moves the tip from the top of her thigh and starts again from the original point, but moving in the opposite direction, that she gets it.

"You're drawing a heart on me!"

"Oh, you'll be sleeping on your stomach tonight," he promises her, sounding annoyed. "I can't chastise you as I'd like, Faith, not here, but trust me, I'm remembering every flagrant little disobedience."

And he knows that's just how she likes it, so she doesn't risk pushing him by telling him that that's fine with her.

"But you're completely correct," he says, drawing on her carefully. "The outline of a heart in a delightfully vibrant shade of red I'll endeavor to match later on when I spank you. Now as I recall from my schooldays, when I had a quite hopeless crush on Amanda Stanton, the heart gets pierced by an arrow, and initials are involved, am I right? Yes, I do believe I am." He pats her ass. "I think I've got enough room to do better than that."

And he can spank her till his fucking hand falls off, but she's not letting that one go. She cranes her head around and says with extreme clarity, "Are you saying my ass is –"

"Not another all-too-predictable word, or I'll renew my vows to the betrayed Amanda," he threatens. "And your arse is perfect, and you know it. Now, for the final time, be quiet and stay still."

And she does. Stays still, getting wetter and feeling her skin tighten and itch as the ink dries, following each line but losing track because she can't quite work it out, not when she's distracted by the brush of his hand as he pulls her skin taut, without ever letting his fingers slip and dip inside her soaked folds.

She can't imagine what it's like for him, and she can't ask, but eventually he starts to talk. "Odd to touch you here and feel your skin merely warm, not hot," he says. "But I can feel the heat here –" For the briefest moment possible, the palm of his hand slips between her legs and she gasps. "Oh, yes... And I can smell you." She gives an involuntary squirm at that, tensing up, because, fuck, that's worse than saying her ass is big, which he's so going to pay for. He sighs. "Oh, Faith. Do you think it's an oversight that I've never once bought you perfume? You smell..." And she knows he's smiling because of the way his voice changes, deepens. "Delectable. Like you taste.  When you're aroused, doubly so. It's no wonder I spend so much time with my mouth on you."

And there's no doubting the sincerity in his voice, though she's still blushing, but fuck, a practical demonstration would be nice, and he's perfectly positioned to bring her off which, the way she's feeling, would take about thirty seconds, or less.

"I'm finished with this side," he says. He blows on her ass, a mischievous puff of air that has her gritting her teeth. "I think you're dry." There's a note of anticipation in his voice now. "Turn around, Faith."

She does, feeling herself wobble a little after being in one position so long, her legs aching. She meets his eyes and parts her lips in appeal, waiting for his nod before she speaks. "What did you write?"

"When you get home, look in the mirror and find out," he says, already staring down. "It should be perfectly legible. Now lean back against the desk, hands flat – oh, yes, keep the gloves on, certainly, and keep your legs spread. I'm not quite finished." He glances up at her and smiles slightly, scooting his chair closer to her so that his knees brush the inside of hers. "And perhaps I should offer you my thanks for being such an efficient courier. Can you think of a way in which I can do that, Faith?"

And she can. A dozen ways. But here, with the thin office walls all the chaperone they need, not so much. "Could come home with me," she suggests.

He pulls a regretful face she's not all that sure is genuine. "I can't, my darling. And I have a feeling that I'm far too inhibited by being at work to even try to fuck you." Which is such bullshit but she doesn't call him on it because he drags the blunt end of the Sharpie across her clit and she shudders and drops her head, breathing heavily.

"I could make you come though," he says, his voice intimate and confiding. "I can't myself, not here, it would be completely unprofessional of me, I'm sure you appreciate that, but you... Would you like that, Faith? To come and leave me aching, thinking of nothing but you all afternoon, with the scent of you on my fingers, the taste of you in my mouth?"

"Fuck, yes," she says in a fervent whisper. "Wes, please..."

He leans forward and bites the soft flesh high inside her thigh, making her yelp. "Oh, you'd have to be quieter than that," he admonishes her, lifting up his head and staring approvingly at the red mark he's left. "And I'm not sure you've taken into account what an... unpredictable mood I'll be in when I do return home. Already so much for you to be punished for and you want to add making me wait to the list?" He tilts his head, staring at her. "Are you really that brave?"

"Make me come," she says. She meets his smile with one of her own. "Got a new motto, Wes. 'Carpe diem'. Guess I don't need to translate that one, do I?"

He shakes his head. "You certainly don't," he murmurs. He stretches out his hand and picks up her collar. "You're not going to wear this for a week," he says. "And as I love seeing it around your neck, I'm not pleased about that." He stands up. "But you can wear it now. In a manner of speaking, at least."

She feels the supple leather against her lips and then he forces it between her teeth. "Bite down if you need to," he says, "But do try to restrain yourself. And don't let it drop, and don't make a sound."

She nods, running her tongue over it cautiously, feeling the slight roughness as the leather dampens.

Then Wesley leans forward and runs the tip of his tongue lightly over her clit and her teeth grind against the belt.

He spends what feels like hours on her, though it can't be, not really, nothing but delicate touches with tongue and fingers, barely-there grazes of his teeth, bites that have her panting in shallow, gasping breaths because his teeth are surrounding flesh he's made sensitive to the point where she's whimpering around the collar just as much when he starts to touch her as when he stops.

Finally, when she's been on the verge of coming for ever, and her fingers are aching from gripping the edge of the desk, when they want to be on his body, stroking through his dark hair, he sits back.

She blinks at him, unable to believe he's stopped, making a small protesting sound deep in her throat. He glances up at her, his tongue running over his lips and his eyes as blind with arousal as she imagines hers are.

"Wait," he says. The Sharpie's in his hand again and as she watches he spreads his hand over her smooth, bare mound. "Wait."

His hand moves to the side and he starts to write across her skin, slowly forming the letters, linking them in a flow of ink and by the time the first letter's complete she knows what he's going to say and he can write it on her body, on her soul and it's true.

"'Mine'," he says softly, capping the pen and tweaking the collar from between her teeth, examining the marks curiously before dropping the collar into a drawer which he closes with a firm finality. "I think we're done here, don't you?"

"Wesley –" she protests, because she's hurting, she really is, and he promised...

"I didn't say you could speak again," he says totally unreasonably but there's a tremor to his voice that gets him forgiveness. "You know, I rather think –"

She doesn't get to find out what, because the outer door opens and they hear Anya come back in, saying something to Rupert that the closed door muffles, but which sounds friendly enough. Faith starts to struggle up but Wesley's hand is on her leg, holding her in place as he stands and leans close to her. "No," he says quietly. "Not yet. I want –" He's breathing quickly, heavily and she spares him a thought, because he must be achingly-hard and there's no way they can do much about that, not with Anya the other side of the door and his weird scruples. "I want my hand on you, Faith. More than I want to fuck you, even." He pushes two fingers into her cunt, hard thrusts now, after all the teasing, with his thumb pressing down on her clit just enough to have her arching up, wanting more. "And I know what you want," he whispers savagely, tenderly into her ear. "You want to come, don't you, my darling, disobedient girl? And if I were kind, and kept my promises, I'd let you. Let you scream quietly against my hand while I fucked you with my fingers, and Anya wouldn't know why you were so flushed and shaking when you walked past her on your way home to wait for me." His teeth worry at her earlobe as his fingers slide in and out with enough speed and force to have her starting to come, one sucked-in breath away from the point where it's impossible to stop.

Which is when he takes his fingers away, pulling them out of her clutching cunt, and turns her so she's sprawled across his desk, turning her head to look up at him.Then he picks a book, the size of a bible, off the corner of the desk and gives her a tight-lipped smile before dropping it to the floor.

In the time it takes for it to fall, his hand descends in an arc timed with an exactitude that verges on sublime. The smack of leather and thousands of pages, weighted down with the ink of a million words, is deep enough, solid enough, to mask the lighter, sharper crack of skin meeting skin and her soft, bitten-off groan as she comes, the flash of pain all she needs when she's this close.

They hear a startled sound from Anya and Wesley yanks down Faith's skirt and reaches the door, opening it before Anya has chance to discover that it's locked. Faith collapses back into his chair, because she knows her legs won't hold her up, and smoothes her skirt into place with hands that are shaking. Her panties are at her feet but there's no time to put them on as Anya's already in the doorway.

"What happened?" she says anxiously. Her eyes go to the book on the floor and she gives Wesley a reproachful look. "You shouldn't pile them up like that! It's a wonder this doesn't happen more often." She bustles across the room to pick it up, giving Faith a look that's mildly curious but unsuspicious, her attention on the book, which proves to be split along the binding.

Anya studies the damage and whirls around to face Wesley, which gives Faith chance to surreptitiously snatch up her panties and, for want of anywhere better, drop them in the same drawer of the desk that holds the collar.

"This is an expensive book!" she scolds. "And it's the property of the firm, so you should take better care of it."

The idea of Wesley being lectured on book care is priceless and Faith can't repress a snort of delighted laughter that gets her a glare from both of them

"Sorry," she says, which has zero effect. "Look, I'd better go. Don't want to interrupt your work."

"Perhaps that would be as well," Wesley says reflectively. "I'll be home a good deal earlier tonight though, and with plenty of time to devote to taking care of that to-do list we were discussing."

The length of that list means he'll have to time-travel to get it all seen to before midnight, but she doesn't point that out.

Anya clears her throat. "It was nice to finally meet you," she says.

"You too," Faith says, realizing she means it. On impulse she says, "Look, I'm booked in for a manicure/pedicure on Saturday; I bring a friend and we both get a free facial; you up for that? 'Cause I want to hear all about –"

"Yes," Anya interrupts giving her a not in front of Wes look that means she's got something really juicy to share. "I'd love to."

"Cool," Faith says.

Wesley's looking less than happy. "I had plans for Saturday," he begins.

She blows him a kiss. "Welcome to join us, Wesley. Maybe they'll throw in a seaweed scrub if I bring two."

He holds the door open for her, refusing to rise to the bait. "Goodbye, Faith," he says gently. "Until later. Anya? You're six minutes late back from lunch. Please get back to work."

Anya drops the book back on the desk, gives Faith a small grin and walks past Wesley to her desk. Faith follows her, propelled through the door by Wesley's hand, connecting with her ass in a gentle pat that's a promise of what's to come.

His door closes and she exchanges a glance with Anya. "Have fun," she says, guessing that he's going to be, well, not in a bad mood exactly, but not at his calmest either.

Anya pulls a face. "I'll take him in a cup of tea," she says. She gives Faith a shrewd look. "You got him that mug, didn't you?"

"The 'lawyers do it in briefs' one? Yeah, Why?" She narrows her eyes. "He hasn't like, broken it or anything has he?"

Anya giggles. "No! He loves it. But he keeps taking it into meetings and Mr Travers stares at it with this horrified look on his face, and Rupert can't stop snickering." She lowers her voice. "Some people thought he was a bit, well, you know, stuffy. English. But he isn't really, is he? Not when you get to know him."

She's about to answer when the door's yanked open and Wesley's standing there. His eyes are burning into her, his lips a thin, tight line. "Are you still here?"

And she's not, she's gone, and when she gets home, the first thing she does is tug up her skirt and stare in the mirror at the heart, the flowers, the stars and the perfectly drawn 'Wesley' and 'Faith' in mirror writing that he's written on her skin inside the equally perfect heart.


Part Eighteen

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