Watching, Waiting, Anticipating




She knows he's watching her from the shadows but he's merged with them so well, and he's so motionless, that the vampire snarling in her face and making her eyes water, because, man, does he ever need to floss, ignores him for now.

Maybe he thinks Wesley's gonna make a tasty dessert, but she's not about to let him find out that if he is, it's something like sugarless rhubarb pie, bound to make your fangs water and ache with the sourness of it.

The vampire takes the small scrap of a chance she's given him by letting her eyes go to that silent onlooker and she feels his fangs pierce her skin even as his hand comes up to squeeze her breast. The fucker's practically humping her as he starts to suck and it'd be fucking disgusting if it wasn't for the fact that he's so worked up he's easy meat.

The dust clears and Wesley's a body's-width away from her, stake raised, eyes dark with something so far past fury she can't put a name to it. She hadn't seen him move, doesn't know if they both struck at once, but she gives a shaky little laugh and tucks her stake away.

"Get bored waiting, did you?"

As ice-breakers go, it's as effective as trying to melt the polar cap with a thimbleful of cold water.

"What the bloody hell was that?"

"Me. Slaying a vampire."

Sometimes she thinks she needs to look into taking a vow of silence. In the three months since Wes turned up, sneered at Robin until he faded into the – heh - woodwork and whisked her off to New York, muttering something about her deplorable lack of proper training, he's been getting on her last fucking nerve, but he's been helping her too. He's taken over her life and she's gained a few pounds – all muscle – forgotten what it's like to be awake at ten am because he has her slaying ' til dawn, and spent hours and hours and fucking hours trying to crack the shell around him.

She just doesn't get it. When they'd gone up against Angelus, Wes had been hard, yeah, but they'd parted friends; she'd even got a smile, which seems like a distant memory now because she hasn't seen him smile once since she opened the door to him wearing nothing but a happy grin and a skimpy towel, thinking it was Robin with takeout.

He's put them in apartments side-by side, and God knows how he pulled that off, but he did. He always knocks on her door, but if she doesn't open it in time he does it for her, because he's got a key, and she still hasn't recovered from the session he put her through the one time she brought a boy back to scratch an itch so she's turned into a fucking nun. Who kills things.

Sometimes, when she can't sleep, she hears the sound of him pacing seeping through the paper-thin walls, an endless re-treading of a path around a space as barren of personality as he's become. His stuff's stacked in boxes, even the books, and the walls are bare.

She'd think he was jealous of Dave, Dan – whatever his fucking name was – but in three months he's never touched her outside the training, or the first-aid and she's getting fucking lonely and bored and righteously pissed-off. She might have a robot for a Watcher but she's still got blood in her veins and if she doesn't get laid soon, she's going to sprain her wrist and wouldn't that get him narrow-eyed and tight-lipped? Sorry, Wes, can't train today; spent two hours trying to get off with the help of the lamest porn movie ever, a vibrator that's starting to overheat and this trusty right hand, and see, I pulled a muscle or something.

She's dragged back from that pretty image by a silence that's gone to a scary place.

Wesley's studying her as if she's something he sneezed into a hanky and his lip's curled up.

"He touched you."

And there are at least four places where she lost skin to the wall and the ground, and a couple of places where she's going to have bruises deep enough to last a day, but she knows that's not what he means. Her mouth dries up but she manages to work up enough spit to mumble, "Yeah," because Wes didn't like her just nodding when he asked a question.

Liked her calling him 'Wesley' too but she didn't give him that very often. Lines. You had to draw them somewhere.

"Show me."

"Say what?"

To say she's startled is an understatement. It's dark in the alley for one thing but it's just – this is totally not like him.

"Faith, I gave you an order."

"Yeah, and it made no fucking sense so I ignored it!"

"It's you who decides what makes sense now, is it?" he asks. "You acquired wisdom along with that bottle of vodka you seemed to think I didn't notice you sneaking into your room last night?"

"I didn't sneak it!" Lying was a mistake. Why he's stopped her drinking she doesn't know; not like she'd let it affect her work.

"Oh, yes you did," he says coldly. "And I'm still waiting."

It takes her a second to get back to where they were. "Wes, he was groping my tit, that's all. He didn't hurt me. You can't want to –"

Even in the dimness, lit by the sporadic flickering of a single streetlight, she can see the bland crook of his lips as he raises his eyebrows.

With a snarl she shrugs out of her jacket and holds her arm away from her side, glancing down pointedly at her breast.

He doesn't move away and she starts to wonder just what it's going to take to get him to, because the wall's at her back and he's hung so many 'Do Not Touch' signs on him she's almost afraid to do what she'd have done with anyone else and push them aside.

"I want to see," he says with a slow deliberation. "Lift your top."

And he's flipped. Must have.

Which doesn't explain why she's peeling up her tee and getting chills as his eyes skim all the soft curves she's giving him to stare at.

He's so close she can hear his breath catch and it's an interesting sound, a little crack in the shell. All those taunts and tantrums and swearing because it pissed him off, and all she'd needed to do was flash some skin at a totally ina-fucking-propriate time to get him flustered.

Except as his hand comes up and curves, cupping the air around her breast in a thoughtful, considering kind of way he looks pretty fucking calm. And it doesn't escape her notice that he's telling her, wordlessly, that what he wants to see, the exact square inches fumbled by that filthy, new-risen piece of shit, lies beneath the satin and lace of her scarlet bra.

There's no easy way to do this and for a moment she's so very tempted to start stripping, flinging her clothes at him until he's standing there, a human hanger – but they're not going to be alone down here for long, not now the threat's been taken care of. The dregs who live here, drifting silently until they die, unseen, unnoticed, will be coming back soon now the vamp's gone. And the rats are starting to scurry again, tiny pink-grey feet skittering along the refuse-strewn ground.

With an inarticulate growl, she hooks her fingers into the underwire of the cup and yanks it up, baring her breast and feeling the nipple harden automatically, because of the cool air stroking it, not because Wesley's looking at it, because he fucking isn't.

His eyes haven't left her face, as if all he cares about is getting her to perform, jump through each hoop held high in those long, elegant fingers of his, so deft when they're handling a gun or a knife, so careful when they're swabbing out her cuts with the fucking battery acid he calls antiseptic, so clumsy when they're doing something as mundane as making coffee, or doing dishes.

If he'd looked, if he'd just fucking looked at skin only her hands have touched for way too fucking long, she'd have stayed cool, she swears she would, but his indifference sends scalding, humiliated heat over her in a drenching flood and she's fumbling her clothes into place, yelping as her nipple gets pinched in the hasty drag downwards of her bra.

"I didn't tell you to do that," he says mildly, his voice reproving.

She smacks her hand against his chest, her own heaving with deep, shuddering, rage-filled breaths. "You don't get to tell me shit like that!" she screams. "What the fuck is your problem, Wes? Tell me, or so help me, I'm gonna do what I should've done right away and blow a twenty on a phone call to L.A. and ask Angel."

His lips thin to nothing. "If you dare –" he begins, but she's already walking away.

"Fuck off, Wes," she calls back over her shoulder. "Take your uptight English ass and get it out of my face." Which is an interesting image but she's too wound to linger on it.

She's at the street when a hand clamps down on her arm and she turns her head enough to see Wes, white-faced and glitter-eyed. "You're not done patrolling," he says. "Or do you not care if this little tantrum of yours costs lives?"

She shrugs free. "It's two in the morning," she says. "That vamp made the sixth tonight and I can't be fucking everywhere, Wes. I'm tired, I stink, and I need to sleep."

She's way more reasonable than he deserves so when his fingers bite down on her arm again, right over one of the bits scraped raw, it's the last fucking straw.

"Might wanna move that hand, Wes," she says in a drawl she learned from him. She's been wanting – someone - to touch her. Figures when someone did, it'd be like this, an angry clutch when she'd wanted – so fucking sue her – something with a shade of gentleness, a little bit of desire free of lust.

Not that Wes is looking remotely as if he wants to fuck her right now.

They're getting side-long looks from the few people wandering along, but in his expensive, nicely beat-up leather jacket he's giving off this untouchable vibe and she knows she's not the sort people cast as victim. Maybe they think he's her dad, searching the streets for his wayward baby girl so he can take her back to her distraught mom.

Or maybe they think she's the hooker who tried to lift his wallet. Either way, no one's coming to her rescue and of course they're right not to bother, because she could take Wes down in a heartbeat, even tired and aching as she is.

Her fist drives into his ribs and she's seen him half-naked once, the day before he fitted a bolt to his door, and she knows where each and every scar on his torso is and she could've aimed for them, but she didn't. So, go her, for being merciful.

Except it's not a mistake she'll be making again because even as his breath leaves him in a betrayed, shocked grunt she feels the solid weight of his hand slamming into her, in pretty much the same place she chose on him, because they've trained together too long for there to be any surprises.

"Tell me!" she says. "Or I'll call him, I swear I will."

It takes him five terse sentences to spit out all the grubby details of just what a hero will sacrifice in the name of protecting the innocent – his friends' memories topping the list – and then he's laughing because she's all shocked face and shaking head and seems that's enough to make him smile at last.

"Angel wouldn't –"

"Angel did." He shrugs and starts to walk, with her falling in beside him, just like a good Slayer, but only because he's going the right way to get them home. "And I decided to start at the beginning. Return to what I was supposed to be."

"A Watcher," she says dully, because it hadn't been anything to do with her, not really – just a bitter Wes sticking two English fingers up at Angel and going back to the only job in the world where hurting vampires happens every day.

"Your Watcher," he says, correcting her, and the anger's drained away from them both suddenly, along with the passion that, yeah, had gotten her just a little bit hot back there in the alley, just a little bit needy and wet and –

"Don't think that worked out too well the first time, and if I'm gonna be honest, Wes, you're not doing much better this time 'round."

"No. It seems I'm not," he snaps, all business again, emotions tucked in as tidily as his shirts always seem to be. "As you're as insubordinate and willful as ever."

"Hey, that's not fair! I've trained, I've Slayed, I've fucking given up any social life because you get bent out of shape if I even, like, try and get it on with someone –"

"Is that what you want?" he demands as they cross the street and make their way up town. "You want to share your bed with trash like that?"

"Rather share it with you."

The silence that gets her lasts all the way to the street door to the apartments and she's burning up with anger by then because fuck, is he too good to get his dick wet with her? Is she just not up to his impossibly high standards? Was there a test and she failed?

And somehow all of that was supposed to stay in her head, not get yelled at him in a way that makes him wince as he looks to see if anyone overheard them. Because the apartment isn't a dive and there've been plenty of whispers and raised eyebrows and she's fucking sure most of them come from people who think Wes is her pimp or something, with the hours they keep.

He drags her into the foyer and that's something good that's come of this; his hands are on her now, natural as you like. "Will you keep your voice down!" he hisses.

"Sorry, Wes," she says with a sneer she's seen in the mirror of his eyes often enough to know how irritating it is.

"It's a breach of protocol," he says heavily, stabbing an impatient finger at the elevator button. "Not to mention the fact that –"

"I just don't do it for you?"

There's a taunt and a whimper fighting it out but he must've missed the quiver of hurt because he curls his lip. "You're not exactly my type, no."

She sucks in one outraged breath and places both hands on his chest, shoving him through the slowly opening elevator doors so that he slams up against the wall.

"Faith –" And he's pushing away and coming at her but she reaches out her hand and hits something that closes the doors and sends them lurching upwards.

"You don't get to lie to me," she says, and she's so very sick of this bullshit because it's all so very fucking clear now. "Not me. I'm your Slayer. I'm yours 'til the day I die in a piss-stinking alley like that one tonight, or a graveyard, or, just to be different, get knocked over by a fucking bus. You know me and it goes both ways."

"This is pointless," he begins, trying to shoulder his way past her because they've stopped and floor five is waiting for them to step out into it. She lets him get level with her and reaches down to grab a handful of cock.

"Think this proves you wrong in all sorts of ways," she says levelly. She slams her elbow against the control panel and the doors close again.

"Take your hand away," he says in a frozen whisper.

"Yes, Wesley," she says, doing just that, and when his head swivels to stare at her she's waiting with a studiously blank face, because Wes is smart and if she's figured this out, he's going to know and he's got three seconds before the confused doors open again and he's gonna have to be fast because she's tired of playing.

There's a slick heat between her legs and her clit's thrumming to the beat of her pulse, hammering away like it does when she's fighting, when she's killing.

And there's a pulse matching it beating in his throat as he swallows and his tongue flickers out over dry lips. She could've done that for him. Wet his lips for him.

If he'd asked.

"You're not amusing me," he says coldly, with an effort even she can see costs him, and he steps through the doors, heading to his dark, lonely box to tidy himself away for the night, because he is a fucking robot, she knows it, and if he thinks, if he fucking dares to think she's letting him get away with that –

"Come back here, you fucking bastard," she says in a fierce, infuriated whisper because one more complaint about noise at night and they'll both be kicked out. She runs after him and swings him around to face her. "What the hell are you doing to me? What're you trying to prove? I give in! You win! Now fuck me the hell now or I swear I'm going down this hallway, knocking at doors 'til I find someone who will."

He glances sideways at number 505, and fine, okay, she's not going to start with that one, but there's Andy something-or-other in 517 who'd have her panties down by her ankles before she'd finished telling him what she wanted.

"Get out of my way, you – " There isn't a feminine version of prick-tease, or if there is, she doesn't know it, so she settles for a surprisingly ladylike, 'time-waster' and watches his eyebrows go shooting up.

"As you've had every moment of my time for the last three months, I find that a singularly strange accusation," he says. "Or did it never occur to you that my, ah, social life has been rather limited too?"

"You don't need one! Just oiling and dusting now and then."

"Oh, I see," he says nodding slowly, his arms folded across his chest. "I'm so little of a man in your eyes that I don't even qualify as human.'

"Got that right," she says, ignoring the hurt in his eyes, deep down where he thinks she can't see it. "Human means caring, and you don't. Not about me, anyway. I'm just the weapon you point so you can kill vampires, all of 'em but the one you really want to see dead."

"And how very bloody insightful we are tonight," he grates out. "Would it surprise you to know that I'd never dream of killing him because nothing he did is as bad as what I did to him when I took Connor? That I – ran – through guilt as much as anger? That I'm trying - trying to carry on as best I can and, yes, using you to do it and wishing you were –"

"If you mention Buffy, I'll –"

The bewilderment in his eyes saves her from dreaming up a threat.

"Wishing you were a little more amenable to discipline," he spits out. She's about to tell him she's played that game often enough to know just how it goes, and all he had to do was ask, when she gets that he's not talking about sex and her mouth falls open.

"Say fucking what?" she demands, taking two handfuls of his jacket and hauling him to her. "I train when my eyes won't stay open I'm so tired, I eat all these freaky veggies you say are good for me, go to bed when you tell me, patrol when you say –"

And there's this satisfied, smug little gleam in his eyes as she recites all the ways she's slowly let him get her under his control the last few months, because if Wes gets a kick out of being in charge of his very own Little Miss Slays then he's probably spent all this time with an erection that just won't quit. And maybe she's not the only one moaning against a pillow, hips jerking futilely in the middle of the night.

"You sick, fucking bastard," she howls and the lights start snapping on so she brings it down a notch. "You've been getting off on this, playing your games and you – you-"

Her knee's surging up to nail him, because it's not like he's using his fucking balls so he won't care if they're rammed up high enough to jostle his tonsils, right?, but he's way ahead of her, twisting his hips to the side so her knee glances off his thigh.

"Now, now, Faith," he murmurs. "That's scarcely showing me the proper respect."

"You have to earn it, Wes," she says. "And you know what? I've earned myself an orgasm that isn't fucking D.I.Y.. Don't know what you've been doing but I've been flying solo and that's not good for me." She grinds against him and he doesn't stop her doing that. "Slayer, Wes," she whispers, all throaty and soft. "We get these urges, get these needs... Want me in top form, all gung-ho and raring to go? Gotta help me release some of this tension."

His hands slip down to her hips and still them.

"You want me to schedule fucking you into your training?" he says with just a shade too much incredulity to be convincing.

"Yeah. I do. Or I'll find it somewhere else and you can get pissy and up the reps on the tummy-crunches all you want, I'm still gonna do it."

He detaches her hands from him and steps back, leaning against the wall and giving her a cool smile. "Very well. But we do it my way. I'm in charge of all aspects of your training, after all. Is that agreed?"

And the wet heat's soaking through her thong and she's giving him a nod just to see –

"Faith. For possibly the twentieth time, when I ask a question of you I require a verbal reply."

"Yes, Wes," she says and waits one beat, two.

"Wesley." He pushes away from the wall so he's up close again and runs his finger across her mouth leaving a trail of tingles. "Say it."

She opens her mouth and his finger slips inside, which makes it kinda hard to say anything, but he pulls it out when she's given it a lick that promises a blow-job if he'll just fucking do this, and she's starting to see a glimmer of the rules, so she says, "Yes, Wesley" and gets an approving smile.

"Good girl..." he whispers.

"Thanks, Wes," she says, because he's put her through hell and damned if she's ever going to make this easy for him, because he wouldn't like it half as much if she did...

"Oh, it's going to be like that is it?" he says, and it's not her he's talking to, no, it's Wes making a mental note in his mental fucking day-planner.

"I think we need to institute a simple systems of rewards and punishments," he says in this musing voice as if they're not stood three steps from room 505 – room 50 fucking five, for God's sake – at three in the morning with her cunt dripping she's so fucking horny and his cock, from what she can see of it, so hard it's gonna poke a hole right through those jeans. "That certainly earned you a demerit rather than a gold star, so I think we'll clear that out of the way at once, don't you?"

Maybe she knocked her head in the fight and all this is some freaky kind of hallucination because there are two doors just a few yards away that they can go through and there'll be beds, and couches, and kitchen tables, come to that, and he could bend her over them, put her on them, hell if they had a chandelier, she'd fucking do it swinging from it, but no, they're out here and Wesley's telling her in the same voice he uses when her aim's off to the left with the crossbow that he wants her on her knees, sucking him off and the punishment's going to be that once he's come, it's gonna be a while (five minutes tops actually. She's got mad skillz, really she has) before he's ready to go again.

And she's fine with the going down on him, she really is, but they're in the freaking hallway.

"I'm waiting," he says, in this bored drawl, and he leans against the wall again and unzips and lets her see just what he wants her to take care of, running his hand along his cock in a way that tells her, yeah, he's done that before but how many times has he done it with an audience?

Doesn't seem to be putting him off, though, and if they get their asses tossed, well, the shower's always running cold and it makes more sense for them to share a place, really...

The hall carpet's hard and scratchy against her hands, and he hadn't told her to crawl over to him, but the slight gasp she gets makes it seem like a really good idea and it's only a foot or two, after all. She reaches out and takes hold of his ankles and climbs up his legs, heading for that golden goose at the top of the beanstalk.

His hands brush against her hair and then he pulls her up, hooking his hands under her arms, and she's whimpering with disappointment until she realises it's so he can kiss her, and she hadn't been expecting that, not at all, and his tongue's darting into her mouth before she's had time to get over that first kiss panic of which way to tilt your head, and it feels as if this is the hundredth kiss because Wesley just goes for it, without a second's hesitation and she's wrapping her hands around his neck and God, his cock's twitching and jumping against her, and she wants it on bare skin so she reaches down and wraps her hand around it. It's so hot and sticky-tipped that she's fucking his mouth with her tongue and as pre-show's go it's good enough to make him push on her shoulders and she sinks down and God he tastes so good. She's had times when this was the moment she zipped up and left because man, no way was she getting any closer to something that smelled like that, but Wes smells clean, smells needy, and she's lapping away at him, sucking and nibbling and just swallowing him as deep as he'll go, hands busy with anything her mouth can't take, wishing he was lying down, legs spread so she could really show him how –

"Well!"

Wesley's groan as she slipped one spit-wet finger back behind his balls, jabbing upwards gently was to blame, she decided. Heartfelt as it was, it'd triggered a release so comprehensive that there was no way she could add her voice to the stammered apologies Wesley was managing to splutter out.

"Young man, there are times and places for – that – and this is neither the time nor the place."

The door to 505 closes with a bang and Faith looks up to see Wesley's face go back to the interrupted, anguished shudder he'd been in the middle of.

"You're good at that," he says a little breathlessly, holding out his hand to help her up and completely ignoring the interruption which she has to say impresses her. "But I think you need to work on the way you have a tendency to bite down unexpectedly."

"I was startled," she says indignantly.

He leads her to her door and opens it, ushering her inside.

"A Slayer is never startled," he says. "Always prepared for any eventuality –"

As his hand slides up to pinch one nipple into life as he says it, she spares him the ass-kicking that deserves.


***

It's Day One of her training under the new regime and she's been allowed into his apartment. Really not an honour. She's seen cardboard boxes with more ambiance. He's sipping slowly at a coffee that smells bitter and she's craving the jolt because she hadn't slept, but not even bothering to ask where hers is.

"Let's start at the top, shall we?" He leans back against the plain wooden table and studies her blandly. She's standing in the middle of the floor just where he told her to and she's standing straight, hands behind her back, feet spread enough to make this a position she can hold for hours if she has to.

"You believe that your performance as a Slayer will be enhanced if you have sex on a regular basis."

"Hey, after the dry spell I've had, once a week'd seem like heaven," she tells him. "And, yeah, wait n' see, Wes. I'll be kicking vamp ass like there's no tomorrow."

"Which brings me to an interesting question," he says. "If that's the case, why have you not told me before? Why have you been presenting me with sub-standard results? That's not satisfactory at all, Faith. Communication between a Slayer and her Watcher should be free, frank and full." He gives her a chilly smile and picks up a fucking clipboard for Christ's sake. "I'm afraid that's earned you three demerits."

The clipboard gets replaced on the table and he walks over to her. "Of course, I'm still far from convinced that your theory's correct. The only thing we are in agreement about is that if it is, you will, naturally, look to me alone for your... release. I simply can't be having you dallying with all and sundry."

Indignation's kept her quiet but that's too fucking much. "Last night you told me it was a breach of protocol!"

He purses his lips. "And did I say that mattered to me? Protocol be damned if it improves my Slayer's performance."

And this is bullshit, but when he calls her 'my Slayer' something gets warm low down and she has to repress the urge to wriggle like a fucking furry kitten getting its belly scratched.

"You're so fucking noble, Wes," she says sourly, because she wants him, yeah, but can't he just come out and admit it's mutual? Why the song and dance?

"Not in the slightest," he says and there's something pained in his eyes and voice that hurts to listen to. "Now, if you're quite done wasting my time..." He takes her sullen silence for agreement and goes back for the clipboard which she's so looking forward to inserting into an orifice at some point.

"Luckily I've been keeping rather complete records."

"Of my sex life?" she interrupts. "'Cause some people would call that an invasion of –"

"Shut up?" he suggests pleasantly. "Thank you... Your average staking time – I calculate it weekly to even out the variables – has indeed been rising, which isn't good at all. However, that might be due to other factors –"

"No, it's not," she says moodily.

"So we're going to try a little experiment."

"What kind of experiment?" she says warily, giving him the eye.

The brilliant smile is kinda scary in a certain light, but that's just Wes for you.

"I'm going to confirm – or disprove – your hypothesis that sexual tension worsens your fighting skills, Faith."

"And you're going to do that how, exactly?" She had to get the weird one. Giles might have talked more before caving, but she bet by now he'd have been closing his eyes and thinking of, well, her, if she was doing it right, but not Wes. Noooo, not – oh, why not? Turnabout was fair play. Not her Watcher.

"Sunset was two hours ago. It's prime feeding time out there. We're going to take a little while to get you aroused and then we're going to go out and slay. We'll repeat it until I have a week's worth of data and we'll see what transpires. After that –"

"No. Not after that. Because I'll be fucking dead by then."

He chuckles. "Really, Faith, abstinence isn't fatal." He rolls his eyes and looks close to human. "I'm living proof."

"You send me out there juiced and jittery and you're gonna get me killed," she says flatly. "That what you want, Wes? That how you want this second-chance to end?"

He reached out and slides his hand down her bare arm. "You'll go out there angry and full of hate. I really don't think it'll impair you." Their eyes meet and there's a certain pride in his. "They'll fear you this week, Faith. They'll run from you and you'll show them no mercy."

"No, because I'll pretend each of them is you," she spits.

He shrugs. "If it helps." There's a darkness around him like Eeyore's cloud. "I'll do anything needed to make you a better Slayer, Faith. Letting you hate me is easy."

"Fuck, Wes, I didn't mean –" she blurts out, reaching for him.

"You broke position," he says coldly. "One demerit."

"When I get to ten, do I like, get a badge?" she snaps.

He scratches at the clipboard with a pen and tosses them both down. "If you get to ten in a week, I'll pin one on you personally," he says. "Given your ability to heal, I'm sure the holes it'll make won't scar."

"You sick bastard," she hisses.

His lips twist in an oddly tender smile. "Would you like to request that I be replaced?"

She shakes her head after the silence has dragged its feet from one minute to the next and he sighs. "I require a verbal answer, Faith, and the next time I have to remind you of that, it will cost you –"

"No!" She moderates her voice. "You're my Watcher, Wes – Wesley. That's the way it is."

And this is where he smiles and hugs her and they kiss, all tentative and sweet.

Technically.

In her dreams.

Getting tossed a vibrator and being told to use it while he watches, eyes glinting as she gapes at him in shock – that's the reality.

He ducks, which is fucking smart of him, and the vibrator kisses the wall behind him in a Fatal Attraction, end in tears, kinda way, falling with a thump to the floor, casing cracked, batteries spilling out.

She stalks over to him feeling a faint quiver in her clenched fists, the kind she gets when she's so angry her body can't stay still without it making her feel as if she'll splinter into razor-edged shards in two more gulped-in breaths.

He's straightened up and his eyes go from the vibe to her face and his mouth's parting when she slams him back, strong Slayer hands on his body, getting right in his face.

"No, Wes," she says, talking really quietly and marvelling at how calm she is. "I don't fucking think so." She reaches for his hand, yanking it up between them. He's got – and she's always thought this, even in Sunnydale, even when he was all starch and priss – the most beautiful hands. Elegant and strong with long fingers that look just right on the handle of a knife or wearing the trigger guard of a gun like a ring.

"You're going to get messy doing this. Going to use your fingers... " She reaches up and taps against those tightly-compressed lips. "And your mouth." She gives him a sneer she picked up from Spike and practiced in the mirror, tip of her tongue tapping the back of her teeth. "Talk dirty, or fuck me with it. Hey; maybe both; you're kinda good at multi-tasking, right?"

He's giving her an intense, scary glare but she's close enough to feel how hard he is – has been since she walked in. And he can pretend all he likes about what he's doing, but this is foreplay, and that's fine, she can deal, she can wait until he stops teasing, stops playing.

He's daring her, right?

She brings his hand to her mouth and slick-slides her tongue across them, getting them wet. Then she drops it and turns to the closed door that, as this is a mirror of her own apartment, has to be his bedroom.

"And we're doing this in comfort –"

His terse "Faith, I'd rather -" comes way too late.

It's like walking into his mind and she knows how a vampire must feel because she can't cross the threshold, feels the skin over the air that's holding her out.

And that's not a metaphor. Her hand prods cautiously at the barrier even as her eyes are scanning, absorbing, flinching away.

"Got a nice little hidey-hole here, Wes," she says finally, keeping her voice neutral.

He mutters a word she can't catch and his hand hits her back, propelling her forward, the mystical barrier popping like a pea-pod.

She goes with it, moving fast so she can spin to face him. "You're starting to freak me, Wes."

"Only starting?" he asks, standing squarely between her and the door.

"I've stopped now," she says with a shrug. "All done freaking, but, gotta tell you, it was an intense three seconds." She walks over to the wall that's got her bed on the other side of it and taps it. "We sleep head to head, huh? Got to like the symbolism."

The bed's big enough for two, which is something, made neatly with clean sheets. There's a night table beside it with a lamp, a book and, hmm, a box of tissues. Her fingers are itching to prowl through the two deep drawers.

And that's it. The sliding doors to the built-in closet are firmly closed and she knows what he wears anyway.

"What's in here worth protecting with a spell?" she asks. "Looks like a big load of nothing to me."

"I sleep in here," he says. "I don't want company."

"But you let me in?"

"It's apparently necessary," he says with a bite to his voice. "I hadn't realised you were quite this fussy, Faith." He nods at the bed. "But since you insist, I suppose this will be more comfortable for both of us."

And she doesn't want to do this anymore. Doesn't want to get closer to him. Doesn't want to feel his hands on her, in her, because it'd be like fucking a corpse.

"I've changed my mind," she says, daring to look at him.

There's a flicker of resignation and then his eyes are as blank as the walls. "I rather thought you might," he drawls. "Then perhaps you could patrol? Or have you given that up in favor of indulging your whims?"

She pushes past him and doesn't look back to see if he's following her, doesn't wait for him when the elevator door slides open, doesn't glance around as she heads out into the night.

Doesn't need to.

A memory of him's hovering on the edge of her vision all night, eyes dark with an emotion she can't put a name to, mouth tight. His voice is in her head as she slams each stake home, lecturing her calmly, advising her, correcting her stance. A ghost of Wes – but where the fuck is he? She's almost sure she sees him in the distance once, moving quickly, head ducked down, but the city's full of broken stick figures of men and isn't he taller than that?

She's bone-chill cold as she slays and so fucking lonely.

When she gets back, a sneaked, gulped vodka on ice from a bar doing a damn fine job of warming her, which makes no sense at all at her teeth still ache from crunching the cubes and pretending she's got his cock between them – which, OK, makes even her cringe as she chews, so she doesn't think she'll be sharing that little fantasy any time soon – his door's closed and there's no light under it.

Somehow, finding him in her armchair, pencil tapping impatiently against the fucking clipboard he's adopted and named George isn't a surprise at all.

"Too early to make more than a preliminary finding, but tonight's performance was enlightening," he drawls. "A marked improvement. I rather think frustration and anger are beneficial emotions."

She tosses her stake aside. "Yeah. Sure. I feel like crap and I'm gonna burst into tears when you fuck off and get back to your cell, but hey, bagged nine vamps and that's all that matters, right?"

The tears are starting to gather and press but she'd sooner pee in front of him than cry.

"All that matters is that you do what you were chosen to do," he says. "And I counted eight, not nine."

"I don't matter?" she says. "I don't matter at all?"

"I can't let you matter," he says, standing up and going to brush past her, back to that bed with the tucked in sheets, where he'll lie and stare into darkness for hours.

"Gonna kiss me goodnight, Wes?"

It's a taunt, it's a dare, and in some ways he's as predictable as every man she's known.

He pauses and gives her a long, slow look, head to toe. "Would you like me to read you a story and check you washed behind your ears, too?" he bites out.

"Love it," she says evenly. "But a kiss is fine for now."

He curves his hand around the back of her neck without any pressure at all and starts to walk forward, taking her with him until they're at the wall. Then he slides to his knees, unbuttoning her pants and peeling them back without pulling them down.

His hair's dark and soft from this angle and she wants to touch it but she can't because his lips are on her belly, scant, bare inches away from where she wants them and she knows he's not gonna be dipping lower, sending his tongue between her legs to lap up the mess she's in because he's a cold bastard with shaking hands and fever-hot lips...

The door slams behind him and she pushes away from the wall and turns to ram her fist against it, through it, but what's the point?

She showers and crawls into bed naked and waits until she hears him do the same. Thin walls, that's all they are, but they're enough to keep her from seeing him, reaching out to him...

She twists around and puts her hands against the wall. She's a Slayer. She could punch through it if she wanted to; kick it down, grab him and – what? If Wes gave in to threats and violence he'd have fewer scars and softer eyes.

And, yeah, he'd probably be dead, so maybe it's a good thing he's stubborn.

She doesn't know Morse code, though she bets a Boy Scout like Wes does, so she can't tap out a message, and fuck knows what she'd say anyway. He knows what she wants, and if it's boiling down to a sick ache of need right this minute it doesn't mean that's all there is in the mix. She could see them being as close to friends as two people like them can get.

Which isn't very, but – oh, fuck this!

She wriggles onto her back, thrusts three fingers up inside her and swirls the middle finger of her other hand around her clit in a slow, hard, tight circle, again and again. Then adds a sound track she wouldn't normally bother with until right at the end when she can't help it, though even then she can keep it quiet if she really has to.

She's subtle about it, too. No howls and 'Oh Gods', just stuttered breaths and bitten-off whimpers, voiceless, wordless exhalations that end, not with a shriek but a name.

The next morning, when she reports to him for training, he hits her; gets past her guard for the first time ever, and buries his teeth in her neck before she can do more than gasp.

"Don't do that again," he whispers against her throat. "Or I'll cuff your hands to the bed while you sleep."

"Yeah? Would it have made a difference if it'd been your name at the end, there?" she says, shrugging out of his tight grasp. Her skin's stinging and from the look in his eyes and the way he's running his tongue over his teeth, she's bleeding.

"Don't flatter yourself that I want to be part of your fantasies," he says coldly.

"Just my nightmares?"

"I don't want you to think of me as anything but your Watcher," he snaps and this is too fucking much denial to swallow dry.

"Then stop getting hard when you're around me," she says. "Gives a girl the wrong ideas, Wes." She heads for the door. "And you got any more fantasies about me besides the one where you tie me down and watch me squirm? Because, you know, gotta keep those Watcher/Slayer communication lines wide open..."

"Rest. Eat. I want you patrolling around the factory area off Duke tonight." He's all business now as he nods towards a newspaper spread out on the table. "I think the signs point to a nest. I'll come with you, and we'll observe until close to sunrise, time our attack for then."

"Don't need your help, slaying."

"Even so, I will accompany you tonight."

"Whatever."

Her hand's on the door when he says her name, but when she turns he's staring out of the window and he doesn't speak again.

****

Nearly dying shocks the world from soft, rough-edged fluffiness into the clarity of a lungful of winter air, crisp and piercing. She spins down in a scarlet spiral of blood and screams and all she can see as she lies bleeding is Wesley's shadow, giant-sized on the walls as he revenges each pained gasp, each throb of a pulse that sends her blood out of her body to scent the air.

He doesn't get them all, but he dusts enough that they back off, fade into shadows, let them pass into the faint sparkle of sunlight that's filtering into the vast empty spaces of the dark factories.

He gets her home somehow, a stagger and a cab and another stagger, and every time her eyes manage to flutter open he's staring down at her and there's never a moment when his hand isn't holding hers.

As he eases her down onto her bed she drifts off thinking drowsily that she'd been doing it all wrong. The only way to get to him was to be hurt worse than he was.

But she's a Slayer and when she wakes up, she's already covered in healing scabs and his eyes are distant as he spoons slop into her mouth with forceful, abrupt stabs at her reluctantly open mouth.

"You left yourself open. Again and again." Spoon, jab, swallow. "Repeated moves until they were practically yawning in your face." Spoon, jab, swallow. "Showed off. Really, Faith. The spin-kick off the wall? Did you want marks out of ten?" Spoon, jab, spit.

She glares at him as he picks up the paper towel and cleans himself up with furious fastidiousness, like a cat with wet paws.

"Shut the fuck up, Wes," she says with a certain awful distinctness. "Shut up and get the hell out of here, right now."

"Why?"

"Stress management," she says with difficulty. Won't cry, can't cry, that's cheating.

An eyebrow quirks. "You class nearly dying as merely stressful? Interesting."

"You're still here," she says flatly. "Warning you, Wes –"

"I need to check your wounds."

She bites down hard on her lip, lets the pain anchor her. "Make it fast."

This, she's used to. Giles and Wes both, they're like doctors; they can touch her this way and it's... not impersonal, no, but professional, yeah. It's part of their job to patch up Slayers, quick and dirty. Hospitals – never a good idea. Too many questions, too much paperwork. Give a Watcher a girl with Slayer healing and a band aid and they'll have her good to go in an hour, tops.

His hands peel off bandages, dip soft cloth in warm water, sponge and disinfect. Bruises pattern her skin, red lines bisect muscle and there's one wicked deep puncture on her shoulder, but really, when you think she went down under three of them, fangs snapping, she's lucky.

"Guess I never thanked you for the rescue."

"Not required," he murmurs, rinsing the cloth and rubbing his hands dry briskly.

"'Get the fuck off her, you filthy bastards'," she muses. "Followed by some heavy-duty mayhem. You got your dander up, Wes. What is dander, anyway?"

He flushes and it's worth every twinge to see it. She reaches out and pats his hand consolingly. "Our secret, Wes. Promise. Won't tell anyone you're chivalrous enough to think laying a hand on me means a slow, painful death. Kinda loved the way you offed the vamp with the –"

"I did no more than was required," he says stiffly. "I've no wish to see you die, Faith. Any Watcher -"

"No." He frowns and she carries on. "Robin told me – take that fucking sneer off your face, Wes; you know damn well I only said it to piss you off, the other night. Sweet guy, but – well, anyway, he told me about Watchers. You – and, yeah, Giles too, you're not normal. Way more involved than you should be."

He relaxes a little. "Perhaps," he admits. "It's difficult not to be. Especially for me. I'm too used to being on the front-line."

"But you're not a Slayer," she says gently. "You're good, Wes, but I've got the edge. Does that bother you?"

He gives her a look of pure surprise, as open as she's seen him, yeah, even more than when he came in her mouth and his face twisted into new shapes. "Of course not. It's – it's what you are. Who you are."

"Ever think knowing you were there slowed me down last night – this morning – whenever the fuck is was?"

His face closes up again. "There is simply no question of you undertaking a mission like that without me."

"Why?"

His hand slides out to grip her wrist. "You could die any night," he says. "I know that. But when the odds are unfavourable – do you think I could sit and wait for sunrise to tell me you weren't coming back? Spend the day looking for your body to –"

She cuts him off because listening to him hurts worse than any wound, wrapping her arms around him in a clumsy lunge that startles him, so she's got time to snuggle her face against his shoulder, bony and warm-hollowed, and start to cry.

He's transfixed by her tears, just as she'd known he would be. His hands come up and grip her arms and he nearly manages to push her away, but she adds in sound, a shuddering in-suck of breath, and his hands are smoothing her back, patting it and cuddling her close and she's melted and gone, crawling into his lap and crying until it stops being fun.

"I think that's enough now," he whispers, stroking the wet hair back off her wet cheek. "Good Lord, you look – "

"Yeah, I can guess," she snuffles. "Repulsive, right?"

"Moderately so, but I have a strong stomach," he says gravely.

He eases her back and picks up the cloth, mopping up the snot and glop in a swift scrub that leaves her face clean and tingling.

"You're being nice to me," she says.

"I am?" He glances down at his shoulder, where there's a wet spot the size of a plate, and winces. "May I stop now?"

"No." She tries a pout but she's probably still too white-faced and swollen-eyed to really put it off, because his lips quirk in a disbelieving smile.

"Even so, I think I'll go and change. You should sleep now you've eaten."

And she's tired enough to agree but the nightmares come so fast when she's feeling like this and she really doesn't want to be left alone.

And she knows once he leaves, he won't be back until patrol time; it'll be business as usual. She doesn't use her Slayer strength for getting tops off jars and such; it's a weapon, not a tool, but she never liked that dark grey shirt of his and it was wicked scratchy...

She lifts up her hand, hooks her fingers in the vee of his open shirt and jerks down. The fabric splits and tears and she's left holding a handful of cotton and buttons.

"Not going anywhere," she mumbles, because she's falling asleep. "You're my Watcher. Watch me. Watch over me. Like my guardian..."

"Shush..." he whispers giving a resigned sigh as he shrugs out of the ruined shirt. "I'll stay."

He curls up on top of the bed beside her, the covers separating them, and his hand finds hers. He's tense against her and then as she snuggles and squirms until she's settled, her back to him, he relaxes and falls asleep before she does.

And when they wake, it's because of his whimpered cries, not hers and she recognises them, and wonders how many times they've disturbed her in the night and wound themselves into her dreams.

***

As soon as her hand strokes anxiously along his face, fingers clumsy because she's just not so used to this kind of touch, he wakes, the noises cutting off abruptly. They stare at each other, and has she ever been this close to him for this long? Because even in the shadow-dark room, she's seeing details, filling in the lines of the stick-figure she's drawn and labelled 'Wes'. Like, his eyes are blue, yeah, sure, but the fringe of lash around them adds two shades of grey to the mix, and there's a dent in his chin she wants to press her thumb against and –

"Stop staring at me," he whispers, but the note of command's left his voice and she smiles and carries on looking until he sighs and closes his eyes in defeat, ceding her the ground.

"You gonna try and leave now you're awake, Wes?"

"I might," he says without opening his eyes. "If I did you'd hardly be able to prevent me, would you?"

She slips her hand down his arm and locks her fingers around his thin, strong wrist.

"Wouldn't count on that. Slayer, remember? I'm feeling almost back to normal now."

He tugs, as though he's testing her claim and smiles slightly when her grip tightens possessively. "As your Watcher, your health is a primary concern. I wouldn't want you to over-tax yourself unnecessarily."

"That your way of telling me you're going to get under the covers now?" she asks archly.

His eyes open again and he looks at her with a frown. "No."

"Fine," she says with a frustrated growl. "Fine, Wes. Just fucking –"

"If you say 'fine' again, I'll yawn. And then I'll most likely fall asleep," he warns her.

She props herself up on one elbow and gives him a glittering, dangerous smile. "Go right ahead, Wes. Promise I won't take advantage of you."

"Could you at least try to make that sound believable?" he asks.

"What's the point?"

"Flattering though it is to know that you're so desperate to be fucked that even I'll do –" he begins.

"What? Wes, that's either the most blatant fish for compliments ever or you're insane." She purses her lips. "Lots of girls go for the moody, miserable, moping type. Really."

"Really," he echoes dryly. "Thank you for that concise, admirably accurate summation, Faith."

"Well, it's true," she tells him. "You're pissed at Angel – no, don't look away and don't even fucking think about running away – but it's been a while now. Get over it."

"I can't," he says stiffly and then he melts, just a little, just enough and he reaches out and touches her face with the tips of his fingers. "Your concern, well, it's unexpected and I'm grateful, but –"

"You know what," she interrupts, feeling the fuse attached to her temper start to fizz and burn in a soft explosion of heat, "you know fuck-all, Wesley. You want tragic? Welcome to my life. And it's probably gonna be a short one, the way things are, so why you think I wanna waste it in mourning the way things aren't like they ought to be, I don't know."

He frowns as if he's trying to work that out and she waits for three long seconds before giving up. With a scissoring kick of her legs that makes her lips tighten with pain, she jumps off the bed, flicks on the light, and makes it to a chest in the corner loaded up with stuff she keeps meaning to sort through and never does. Holy water... does that ever go off, she wonders? Hell of a note if it does and there's no expiry date on the bottle – stakes that need sharpening and sanding down, because the last thing a girl wants is a splinter and, oh yeah. Those.

She dangles the cuffs in front of him with her eyes on his face. "Well?"

"Well, what?"

He's sounding bored but there's a catch in his breathing that gives him away.

"Use them or wear them, Wes. Your choice."

"Why do we need them at all?" he asks, never taking his eyes off them as they swing from side to side.

She sighs. "Something tells me neither of us is all that much of a vanilla fan."

"Possibly not," Wesley allows, "but even so I've no interest in ever being at your mercy again, Faith." He sounds pretty calm, all things considered. "As I recall, you have none..." She doesn't look away. It wasn't fair to bring that up, but like she's going to tell him that.... "And although I can't say the sight of you naked and cuffed to the bed wouldn't be aesthetically pleasing –"

"What the fuck does that mean?" she snaps, growling with frustration as he takes the cuffs from her and tosses them off the bed so that they land with a clink on the carpet. "Good enough to jerk off to?"

"More or less," he says agreeably. "But one of my goals as your Watcher is to make sure you're never helpless, Faith, and it goes against the grain to render you so."

"Fine," she says, "so how do you want to play this?"

The bastard gives her a smile, all closed-lips and frostily twinkling eyes and sits cross-legged in front of her, still wearing jeans, still bare-chested. She's naked, which means as she gives a long-suffering sigh and copies him, he gets an eyeful, but like she cares. Besides, is he even looking at her snatch? Not likely.

"Play? Have you forgotten that this is supposed to be part of your training?"

And he can pretend that all he wants, but if he doesn't fuck her soon, she'll be doing her best impression of a staked vampire because she's this close to exploding. She opens her mouth to tell him that and he stands up and slides off his jeans without a flicker of self-consciousness.

"Get in bed, please," he tells her.

"What? Under the covers?"

"Discipline sadly lacking, I see," he murmurs. "Faith, when I give you an order, even when I phrase it as a polite request, I expect it to be obeyed."

Only Wes can lecture her with his dick out, hard and twitching with every word, and have her eyes locked on his face because she can't look away from that taut, tight tension around his eyes and mouth. God, does he ever relax?

"Fine," she mutters, sliding in between the sheets. "I'm all tucked up. Now what?"

The light clicks off and they're in the dark.

"Uh, Wes..."

The bed shifts and he gets in beside her, which is all that stops her from starting to complain really loudly.

"I find I'm in the mood for vanilla, Faith," he says solemnly. "There's something novel about the idea, although, contrary to what you might think, most of my... encounters have been fairly –" He pauses, searching for the right word, and his hand slides over her shoulder in a slow sweep as he thinks. "Normal?" he offers eventually.

"Never had normal," she says. "Don't know if it exists."

"Oh, it does," he tells her. "It's simply whatever you usually do." His hand comes to cup her breast and he smiles through the darkness at her. "But if we're going with the more common definition..."

She shuts him up with a kiss, slamming her mouth against his, all hot and hungry and wet, and he lies there and waits patiently for her to realise that he's not kissing her back.

With one final, despairing swipe of her tongue against his, she pulls back. "Takes two, Wes."

"Are you always in such a rush?" he asks snidely. "Really, Faith. Lie back, please and don't be so precipitate."

"I don't know what you want me to do," she grits out, rolling onto her back and lying stiff and angry, staring up at him as he looms over her. "Getting all kinds of mixed fucking signals here."

'Then you're not paying attention," he tells her. His hand slips around her wrist and he brings her hand to his cock, letting her feel that he's hard. Like she doesn't know that already; he's in bed with her, and they're naked; if he hadn't been, she'd have started to worry.

"Can't we just fuck?" she begs, whimpering slightly as her hand's pushed away. "Nice, normal, two minute fuck? Get it out of your system and then we can do it properly?"

"You mean your way?" he says dryly. "Faith on top, lots of squirming, excessive repetitions of the words, 'fuck', 'yes' and 'Wes, you animal?'"

There's a pause while she adjusts her world view to include a Wesley who can make her giggle and then she gives him a fairly gentle punch in the ribs. "Gotta earn that last bit, Wes," she hisses. "So far, I'm not feeling inclined to flex a finger, let alone squirm and wriggle."

"I think we can do something about that," he says. "This is training after all and it's important that you're physically... challenged, heartbeat elevated all that sort of thing. But all in good time. Let's warm you up first."

Screaming 'whatever' and rolling her eyes isn't going to go down well she guesses, even assuming he can see her in the murky darkness, so she settles for a bitten-off, impatient sigh and gets what he probably thinks is a reward in the form of a single fingertip dragged slowly across her nipple. It hardens, but she's starting to feel the crawly-ants jitter of frustration under her skin. She's not good at this. Not good at slow, not good at waiting. She's conditioned to have her tits grabbed, squeezed, pawed at and she's aching for more than Wesley's careful, curious exploration.

"Why is the light off?" she asks.

"I prefer it that way," he says absently, finally upgrading to using all of his fingers and his palm and scooping up her breast so that it lies in the curve of his hand with his thumb flicking, still way too gently, at her nipple.

"Not breakable," she says tartly.

He raises his head from his blind contemplation of her breast and Slayer-sight lets her adjusting eyes see him smile. "I could break you, Faith," he says, and the shiver that races down her has her nipples aching hard and fierce and her clit throbbing in sync with it.

He can tell, holding her like this, this close, he can tell, and he dips his head and sucks at the ache hardening her nipple until it's soothed and somehow deepened at the same time, his tongue lapping away and his teeth – oh God he's biting down with a precision that has her hips lifting off the bed and her legs spreading, just a little, just this side of involuntary so she's got an excuse. Perfect pain, driving her forwards, pushing her nearer – then it stops and she gets a final, thoughtful smooch that wipes out the lust and makes her want to giggle again.

He gives her a frown, all puzzled eyes and furrowed brow and she snickers again. "You're being all kinds of cute, Wes," she tells him, what passes for a good mood restored.

"I am not, never have been, and never will be 'cute'," he says sounding snooty as fuck about it.

She shapes the words, "Yes, you are," and maybe Wes has been munching his carrots because he hisses with annoyance and rolls her over to her stomach leaving her to smother her amusement in the pillow, quivers running through her as she fights to stay quiet.

"Insubordinate and uncontrolled," he says, sounding satisfied by that, as if she's just confirmed every judgment he's ever made about her.

"Going to teach me to behave better?" she asks with an insinuating lift to her voice and a helpful hint in the shape of an ass-wiggle.

His hand comes down on her ass in a soft, patronising pat. "Delightful though that sounds, it hardly qualifies as vanilla."

"More people do it than you'd think," she tells him.

"Not the way I'd do it," he says, and there's that fucking perfect edge to his voice again and she whimpers, just a bit, just to encourage him. "And I think it's less that it's common and more that you bring out the urge in people."

She kicks out with her foot and gets a grunt of pain from him. "Didn't say I was the one getting spanked, Wes. Something about me that has people picturing me in leather thigh-high boots and not much else, if you get my drift."

"Hmm. Doesn't sound very practical for Slaying."

His fingers trail across the back of her thighs, high up, just where the boots would chafe and rub, and she sighs, easing her legs apart.

"I'm not always Slaying, Wes."

His fingers pause and then go between her legs, burrowing and scrabbling at the wet heat until she's making frantic little sounds, trying to get them inside her. "You're always a Slayer," he tells her coldly. "Hands and knees, Faith."

She struggles into position, letting her head hang down as she sucks in some oxygen, getting ready because she can almost taste the syrup trickling down on the mound of vanilla ice cream, feel the crunch of the sprinkles... and okay, maybe she's hungry and taking this way too literally but if it gets her the unleashed version of Wes then who cares how he changes the rules. Assuming there were any to begin with.

He moves behind her and she feels his hands on her ass, palming it. "Endurance," he whispers. "Very important. Stay quite still, Faith. Show me how you can take anything and remain... unmoved."

And she can, or she would've sworn she could, but when anything is his fingers, slow now, dragging and probing and tweaking and touching, finding her hole, finding her clit, slip-sliding over skin that she's drenching with her juices, she starts to wonder.

His fingers are wet now – hell, his whole hand is, front and back, the way he's rubbed it insistently between her legs as she arched her back, his bony knuckles nudging against her soft, wet skin – and he brings one to her asshole, swirling it around the sensitive skin, pressing in just enough to make her mewl and roll her head, fingers tightening on the cover.

"You like that," he states and he sounds so fucking impassive that she almost expects him to pause and scribble a note down on his clipboard which just has to be lurking somewhere. Before she has chance to tell him exactly what she did to the last guy who lost his way down there, he's taken his finger away and replaced it with his thumbs, rubbing both of them over her asshole as his hands spread her wide.

The flicker of his tongue against the skin between his thumbs has her making sounds she didn't know she knew, and he's remorseless now he's found something that's making her arms tremble and start to give.

"Wes, fuck, please," she begs, "need you in me. God –"

He takes that in a different way than she'd imagined and she feels the soft slither of his tongue inside her ass, bringing a shriek from her and a babble of protest that adds up to 'don't stop or I'll fucking kill you' apparently because he corkscrews his tongue deeper and slides a hand between her legs, finding her swollen, aching clit on the second try and turning her arms boneless so that she collapses forward, coming in graceless jerks and quivers, forgetting how to speak so that nothing emerges from her mouth but gasps, open-mouthed and silently-loud.

She's just coming down from that when he moves away and flips her over, swiping the back of his hand across his mouth – gonna take more than that, she thinks - and nodding his head slowly.

"B minus," he says dryly. "You can do better than that."

"Not when it's been fucking weeks since I came with company," she tells him.

"Oh, we're back to that, are we?" he sighs. "Do you know how many Slayers died virgins?"

"No, but I'm betting they're the ones who died early," she says.

"You all die early," he says sombrely.

"Oh, for fuck's sake, Wes, enough with the doom," she snaps. She jerks her head at the bathroom. "Go and fucking gargle or whatever and get back here so I can take care of you." She reaches out and flicks on the bedside light, sick of peering at him through the shadows.

He gives her a level look and shrugs a shoulder in what looks less like resignation than indifference before vanishing into the bathroom and closing the door. He's gone longer than he needs to be and she only has to drop her eyes south a bit to work out why.

"For fuck's sake, Wesley!"

He dresses without looking at her. "I don't need to get fucked to be a better Watcher," he says. He gives her a glance that holds an infinitesimal amount of regret. "We'll do this my way, Faith. Rest now. I'll expect you to patrol tonight but only for a short time in view of your injuries."

When the door closes behind him she officially gives up. Packing takes less time than showering and she's out of the door and into a cab when the tears start.

"Where to, lady?"

She sniffs up snot and salt. "Airport," she says.

She's not the one who broke Wesley. Stands to reason she's not going to be the one who puts him back together.

But she's going to be there with Wesley when Angel does it.

Going to be with Wesley as long as she can.


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