Faith contemplative, Faith in jail

Interlude, Sunless (Faith, Wesley R)

Title Interlude, Sunless
Pairing hints of Faith/Wesley, memories of Lilah/Wesley
Rating R, for gore and past (canon) character death more than mild sex
Words 1600
Setting AU from Salvage, in which the Beast is not vanquished, and Faith is still needed in Sunnydale
Prompts for lutamira , who wanted the pairing, and for the sb_fag_ends prompt Snow Chains, here used for a non-Spuffy pairing and therefore crossposted to sb_ashtray

"There's no need to be snippety," says Wesley, and wishes he could smack his own mouth in.

"Snippety?" Faith turns her beautiful bruised face his way, crushed and bloody lips spreading in a smile before she winces and remembers her wounds. "Man, you haven’t said that in… how long, Wes? Four years, maybe?"

"About that." He nods, sharply. Sunnydale knocked most of his own snippetiness out of him, way back, before Angel, Lilah, Fred and the latest horrors in LA completed the job. "It feels longer." He blinks, and sees again the severed vessels in Lilah's neck. Christ. He will never, ever get over that.

Faith shivers. "I hate that it's so dark." Then shrugs, not expecting a response. That is what the Beast has done, after all. She knows it well. And she's leaving anyway.

("I'm not gonna run away from this back into the sunshine, Wes. You brought me here to slay the Beast and I failed. I'm gonna stay in the dark with you till I fix it."

"We all failed. Your part in it is no worse than anyone else's. And they need you in Sunnydale now. So you have to go. If you manage to… Well. I'm sure you'll be back here with Buffy and a mini-army any week now, and we can have another crack at the Beast, yes?"

"Wes. You sound like a gym teacher. Like, 'C'mon kids, up and at 'em.' It's really not your style."

"Good Lord. I never pictured you doing physical education. That's very troubling." And they'd laughed, in the darkness, for a desperate second.

This time, though, Wesley doesn't shrug off the comment. The rearview is showing bad news. "I believe it's about to snow, Faith. We'd better get off the road."

"Snow? Fuck, Wes, it's April. In Southern California. It doesn't snow."

"Then what would you suggest is landing on the windscreen, Ms Lehane?" He sounds snippety, but they both know this time it's deliberate.

"Right." She sounds blank for a moment. "The darkness. Fucking with the weather, huh?" The shiver this time has little to do with temperature. "Okay, I'll put the chains on and-"

He, in turn, feels blankness come upon him. "Chains?" He has a deeply inappropriate flash of Faith, chained, for his pleasure. It's about the only thing that would hold her. Would allow him to get a little of his own back. Though the 'revenge' his subconscious suggests has nothing to do with hot, loud, sharp…

Most inappropriate. Really, most unsuitable thoughts. He tries to clear his mind of all such ideas before they show on his face. The under-lashes glance she slides his way suggests that he fails comprehensively.

"Chains? I don't know what-"

"Snow chains. You know, so we don’t slip around like-" At which all too apposite point, Wesley does indeed skid very slightly. "-that. We need to stop, Wes, and put the chains on."

"I don't have any chains." He says it quite calmly. "If it gets bad-"

The windscreen is almost obscured, despite regular wiping. "I'd say it's already bad, Wes. No chains, we need to find shelter."

And yet, this isn't a good place. Not quite desert, but a blasted wasteland of former industry, too far inland for land values to force reuse. Wrecked buildings, roofless and disintegrating, dot the space. He spots, blurrily, a deserted gas station with enough overhanging roof to cover the car, at least. Pulls over.

Faith leaps out of the car immediately, walks around it, checks the trunk, scoffs, and heads towards the shop. Wesley waits. He's pretty sure there's nothing to detain her- Yes, here she is, back again. "No power. No food. It's cleaned out pretty good, Wes. Coupla full gas cans, though. Handy."

"Well then. Shall we stay in the car?" He actually doesn’t know whether this is sensible, being wildly unaccustomed to such conditions, but it seems easier to heat than the rickety shack that served this station, and they won't be smothered if the roof continues to offer some shelter from drifting snow. Faith doesn't scoff, anyway, not at this part, though her opinion of his trunk - sans spade, sleeping bag or cold weather gear –is far from supportive. Wesley does not remind her of her own recent disbelief at such weather in this area. It is something of a struggle.

"Magic, do you think?" He asks it tentatively, not sure whether Faith really senses such things these days. She shrugs. Unsure, as he is. There doesn't seem to be a looming menace, at least in the immediate area. His mind goes to rationing their meager food (exceedingly meager: some scraps from a burger meal that Faith nearly demolished, a few inches of cold coffee, and some mints); to night watches and desperate nocturnal attacks. Faith yawns.

"Sorry, Wes. Snow always did make me sleepy." She stretches, and bashes her elbow on the door. Right on a wound that Angelus gave her, if Wesley's memory is correct. Her suppressed flinch suggests he's on the money. "Gonna give myself a little room to manoeuvre," she says, and wriggles into the back seat. Her pert backside hangs, just for a second, within biting distance. He refrains.

She slouches far back in the back, jacket pulled tight against the cold, his sole blanket – used more for concealing weaponry than for warmth, it smells vividly of gun oil in the confined space – wrapping round her thighs. If they are stuck here long, warmth will become an issue. His own legs, stuck out ahead in the footwell, are already not so warm as they might be.

Faith talks. She never used to be a talker. Not with Wesley, at any rate, though there are a few painful scenes embossed on his consciousness from when she found sufficient words to sear his soul. But this is lighter, gossipy in tone, "Jail is the most boring place on the planet. Did you know that? Could you guess? Man, I was so bored I read books." She grins at him, making a face in the rearview. "Betcha never thought to hear that, huh?"

He tilts his head back, not looking. What one does not see, one does not find erotic. (Bullshit, Pryce, but if a man can't attempt to fool his own subconscious, whose can he attempt?) "But it was worth it?" He thinks this is safe. She is so much stronger, compared with the broken woman he remembers.

"Yeah." She says it simply. "I needed it. To pay back. Maybe not forever-" She waves a hand, silently referencing the jailbreak and what has followed. "But yeah. It feels like I… acknowledged what I did. It feels better."

His eyes are still closed. "That must be nice."

When she speaks again, her mouth is almost at his ear. Damn Slayer stealth and speed, he jumps violently. "Yeah. So, about you and Angel's kid…"

"I'm not going to talk about that." There is no absolution for that one. Fred told him so last year, and he has never really doubted it since.

"Okay… You and Fred?" His neck goes rigid. Utterly still. "No? How about Lilah Morgan, then? That surprised me." Faith's hand closes on Wesley's shoulder. "Because, Wes? One thing I learned in jail… You keep on not talking about shit, and it curdles."

He's fairly sure he makes a fleeting face at the vile image, but she has a point. And Lilah, he is prepared to talk about. "I'm sure you know what it's like, when you're out on a limb, and someone sees that you're not beyond all hope. No matter if they're not from the side you thought was yours." Though she hadn't, he hoped and believed, seen anything erotic in Richard Wilkins III. Not like Lilah, chestnut hair, slender thighs, the curl of her wicked mouth, the arching surrender of her long white throat. A flash of arousal at the memory, but inexorably then, he remembers too the squelch as he severed that throat. The sluggish drip of cold, congealed blood from her head. The fire and sweet stink as she burned.

Someday, he will recover, but just now, Wesley feels a million miles away from ever making love again. Sorry, fucking. That's what he did with Lilah. Nothing more. He would do well to keep that in his mind.

Faith has been talking, low and comradely, about how she felt in those dark years. He should be paying attention, but he thinks she understands he is far away. She talks to fill space, to purge her older memories in support of his own raw wound.

Time passes. A lot of time. The car grows chillier; the darkness outside seems more profound. Faith's hand loosens on his upper arm. "Wesley? We're here for the night, right?"

"Whatever night means," he says, affirming.

"So come on back here and let's get snuggly." Faith flips back the oily blanket, pats the seat invitingly.

There are moments of confusion, as Wesley gets out of the car, attempting to minimize ingress of freezing air. He folds down the back seat, and tries to create a respectable bed with one blanket and a spare pullover. No wriggling and posing for him. He is beyond that. Far too old. Far too tired. But Faith wraps herself round him the moment he finally lies down.

"Man," she says, "I missed the smell of guys." He's not surprised. She hasn't, to his knowledge, fucked anyone since he broke her out of jail. He assumes she will at some point attempt to remedy that. He appears to be the sole candidate available, so long as this absurd snow lasts.

She smells of fresh blood, where her lip wound has reopened. But she is warm, not stiffening with rigor.

He lies, eyes open, looking into the endless dark of the doomed night fallen over this land. He waits, for Faith to do something, for himself to discover how he will respond. Eventually, as the dark continues and Faith breathes softly against his neck, he sleeps, still waiting.

He doesn't dream of Lilah.

Ah Faith/Wesley is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I liked this look at them. Very real for the time and place.
Interesting; I was literally just restocking my winter car emergency kit. Perfect timing! Faith and Wes could have benefited from the luna bars and emergency blankets in addition to the snow chains. though I tend to be with Wes on doubting they're typical in southern california in April!

Very powerful imagery of Wes cutting off Lilah's head. I have to admit that scene is one that sticks to me; it only follows that it would stick to Wesley!
Heh. Yeah, I think Faith's a little harsh to expect any extensive preparation for the trip to Sunnydale.

We're just coming up on Salvage at Phantasmagoria, it'll be the first episode back after the festive break. Happy new year? Not for Lilah...
It's like you wrote this just for me! Faith/Wesley with strong Lilah/Wes undertones? I am in rapturous pain.

He doesn't dream of Lilah.
Hahahahahaha go away ;______;
I know, right? You're not alone in wanting to read the paaaain. We should make a support group. And write more.

This was amazing. I'm not a big fan of Angel, but this fic really touched me anyway. Great work!
This is so completely awesome!!! :D

I love that you've captured the thing I find most compelling about this ship (besides the characters themselves) which is the idea that they've both gone to really dark places, survived a bunch of trauma, some of it at each other's hands, and as a result have this sort of instant and deep comfort with each other. And love Wesley's flashing back to Lilah, and his internal monologue re: his sudden attraction to Faith, and the image of Faith basically cuddling up to him and falling asleep. I also really want to know what happens next? Do they freeze to death in the night? Wake up to sunshine? Decide it is much smarter to pull out from under the roof so the snow can help insulate them and keep them warm?

Thanks so much for writing and posting this!
I absolutely love their contradictions, and the way they mirror each other's lives coming from such different starting points. In a way, Faith's redemption shows Wesley that he can come back too. Except in this verse, there may not be anything to come back to.

I don't know what comes next. I don't know proper winter (so Wesley's POV is helpfully ignorant for me)! If the Beast called the snow, they may well not survive. Faith should know about insulating snow, but she hasn't mentioned it yet. But then, perhaps Team Angel pull it off this time, without Faith's help. Maybe it's all fixed while they dream.

I'm glad you like the snow, btw! The Fag Ends advent prompts this year are very snowy indeed, and giving me ideas.
Oh, I like this a lot. It's a great snapshot of their dynamic throughout S4, where Faith is a little ahead of Wes on the personal-rehabilitation curve and manages to draw him out, and such a good Wes voice.