Word Count: 989
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for Five by Five and Release
Summary: Wesley reflects on his shared past with Faith as they prepare to capture Angelus. A sort of "fill in the blanks" with regards to the episode Release, taking place in Wesley's flat after a badly beaten Faith's fight with The Beast and Angelus. No actual romance in this one, but I like to think of it as a prelude to a possible romance.
I sometimes forget how young she was when we first met—how young she still was when she tied me to a chair and tortured me for hours.
I think we both got a lot older that night.
“You feel young, do you Faith? You’re looking pretty worn-out to me.”
I can still remember her rage after hearing Angel’s words; the way she flew across the room and attacked him—both of them falling to the floor in a fit of scratching and clawing and punching. Her actions were so animal; yet I’d lied the next day when I told Angel that she’d never be anything but. I’d seen her soul that night, and it was bleeding, broken, desperate.
I remember the pleading look in her large black eyes.
She’d wanted me to scream, as though that would give meaning to the whole tableau. Actions result in consequences, and so on. But I hadn’t given her that. I’d failed her yet again.
"You are a piece of shit."
My own words haunt me more than anything she’s ever said to me.
She was sick then. Of course I understand that now. I suppose I even understood it at the time, though my anger kept me from admitting it. No one had ever made me feel more anger, because it wasn’t just anger at her—it was anger at myself as well. I should have been a better watcher. I was a failure, just like father always said, and Faith was a giant explanation point.
And now? Now she looks so much older than that day in Sunnydale when she’d waltzed into the library, with her cocky stride and her arrogant grin. She looks older even than the girl who cut me with broken glass and laughed when the blood came spilling out.
There is also something unnervingly attractive about the way her body has become softer—curvier than since I last saw her; though I don’t let my thoughts linger on that subject for long.
It’s hard to believe that this is the same waif that almost killed me three years ago.
I can’t help but think that the time in prison really did change her. I know that she could have left anytime—that she didn’t need me to break her out. She could have done it all along. But she stayed. And now she's helping me clean up my mess by capturing Angelus.
The thing is, I don’t know if this new Faith is up to it.
I bring a wet cloth over to apply to the gash on the side of her face. Sweeping the hair from her shoulder feels strangely intimate, considering our past.
“Here, hold this…I’ll get some bandages.”
I feel her hand graze mine as she holds the cloth to her face and I let mine slip away. I’m nearly across the room when I hear her muffled voice.
“No trauma, I’m good.”
I turn around, looking at her with skepticism. “You were nearly killed.”
She keeps her eyes stubbornly fixed on the floor. I know she’s trying to be strong, and it’s unbearable to witness. This woman could kill me where I stand, and yet she looks so helpless. All I want to do is wrap my arms around her—to close the distance between us. For some insane reason I think that it would help us both, but the rational part of my brain tells me that it’s absurd.
“Could use a shower.”
I let out a sigh and gesture toward the hall. As she passes she takes her jacket off and drops it on the floor before going into the bathroom. She doesn’t even bother closing the door before continuing to undress, so I go back into the front room to give her some privacy.
A few minutes later I hear a series of loud crashes, followed by a scream. My stomach clenches at hearing it. It’s a terrible sound, and wonderful too, because it sums up precisely what I am feeling inside at this moment. Everything that’s happened in the last few days: Angelus, the Beast…Lilah. My heart constricts a little when I remember that I’d had to decapitate her body only yesterday. Any hopes of a relationship with Fred were also snuffed out when I brought down that ax. How could someone like me ever be with someone like her? Maybe once…
I now think that youth has less to do with age than with innocence, and that being the case, I think I have grown old in the last year.
I hear weeping coming from the bathroom, and take a deep breath, knowing that I am going to have to go and pick up pieces of Faith, and try to put them back together again so we can get the job done.
When I turn the corner I see her sitting on the floor of the shower, surrounded by shards of tile and blood. I don’t hesitate to go to her, and wrap a towel around her shoulders as I help her up from the floor. She’s shaking, but there are no more tears. I think she is upset that she allowed herself to cry, because when I brush my thumb against the corner of her eye she shoves me away.
“What are you doing? Why are you being nice to me!?” she screams, clutching the towel closer to her body.
Because I want to make up for the past…because I’m sorry for failing you. Because in this whole sordid world I feel like you are the only one that could possibly understand what I’ve been going through these past two years.
Thoughts like these enter my mind, but instead of giving them voice I steel my jaw and head to the door, turning slightly to address her before leaving her alone again.
“Because we have a job to do,” I say coldly, and close the door.