Title: Collateral Damage
Author: Lesley
Rating: NC 17
Spoilers/Setting: Chosen and Not Fade Away
Warnings: Angst. Dark as fuck. References to character deaths.
Pairing: Wes/Faith/Giles
Dedication: To lovesbitca with much love and sorry for the delays.

 

Collateral Damage

The light doesn't work in the porch. The finest leather soled shoes Church's can offer stick to the floor and have already had far more near misses with the used syringes and crumpled condoms cracked into the broken pavements than they were ever designed for.

But then the whole building is a far cry from warm Chelsea townhouses, Roman holidays, LA bachelor pads, or the best piece of the suburban dream that alimony checks can buy. It's a dump. The paint's peeling off the stucco, there's a strong stench of ammonia in the porch and only three of the entry buttons aren't smashed.

Buttons that Wesley spends so long looking at, finger wanting to press Faith's number and recoiling from it, that Giles is forced to snort and bite the bullet for both of them. "I rather doubt that 'Press here to Come with Susie and Xusa' is really what we need right now, Wesley."

Wes comes out of the sullen, wrecked default that Giles has had to deal with for months now long enough to rasp, "Quite. They'd last, what, two seconds against Dana?"

"Unlike -" The entry-phone crackles to life.

"Yo, man, this is Faith. The crack-house is next door, the hookers are the button above mine. Any of you fuckers don't get that - fuck off or I'll kick your ass."

"Open the door, Faith." Giles can't help looking at Wes. "She really hasn't changed, has she?"

Wes twitches in the way that makes Giles want to knock it out of him, and hate that he does want to. "That would depend really, Giles. I'm not sure if I'll ever really know."

"The memory spell/reality alteration?" Rupert really, really hopes Angel's dead, not just missing. He's had more than enough of vampires fucking with his head and picking up the pieces they leave behind.

And trying to put them together again. But Giles can try to be all the King's horses and all the King's men as hard as he can and no matter how hard he tries, it's just never enough. "Quite. It makes things rather... confusing."

"Tell me about it." Faith's voice echoes round the dark hall. "To what do I owe the honour?"

Giles takes a deep breath and tries, "Faith, you've been -"

Her voice lures them up the creaking stairs. "Learning the 'lingo'? Maybe. Though with Mrs H and her family of ten Kurdish - what do you call them, asylum seekers - in the basement, two Brazilian hookers in the attic and a mad Irish -"

Wes gets to Faith first and stares her in the face, snake to a mongoose. "Care in the community patient?"

"Yeah, some community you guys got here, Wes." She's all bluster as she steps back to let them in, hurt and shame taking standard procedures to repel borders. "And a great apartment for your best slayer, huh? Colour me impressed!"

The flat isn't used to company, that's clear, and certainly not company wearing enough Savile Row tailoring and the finest in Italian suede to put a down-payment on demolishing the place. It's clean, there's almost nothing in the main room but a worn out sofa-bed, left open and made up with thin blankets, and a battered boom-box. A mound of travel brochures is clearly the source of the pictures of Australia that are neatly sellotaped to the walls. It's a home as far away from money and power as can be imagined. Even if, the empty bottle of scotch full of cash, rings and chains bears witness with Faith that, "I go out, do my job."

"And you raid the bodies for cash?" Wes' scorn is burning.

So are Faith's cheeks. "We're not all watcher's pet, Wes. And a girl has to eat."

"You are paid a small stipend, Faith." Giles knows it's not enough, not in London, not for anything more than the most basic rent, food and a travelcard. But there's no way he wants to think about why when he worked out the budget for the fugitive slayer that he arranged Buffy's visa bills to be automatically settled by the Council bankers and Faith not to get a card at all.

And it clearly rankles with Faith. "Yeah, can you say the word small again, Giles, or, I dunno - Spartan? Coz, been there, done that. Thought I was over it, but I guess the road to redemption is a rocky road, let alone the flight to sunny Oz, instead of wet, cold England."

"You're needed here, Faith." That's easier. He can mouth the platitudes, speak the lie that in this case is all too true. He's had so much practice and he's seen so much horror, then and now, that it's second nature."

"You need me. Isn't that nice? I thought you missed me." She circles them both, a lioness looking for prey, an abandoned girl looking for a home, but above all needing to be wanted. Wanted by those she's hurt and who've betrayed her. "Go on, Wes, you missed me, didn't you? You wouldn't come to see a girl just to get her killed. Would you?"

"If only." Wes knows it's self-indulgence, but the pain on her face is something he's promised himself since he came too in the crate at Heathrow. "I'm not that lucky though. It's always the wrong women that die on me."

She's not going to let him play the death card, not when she has her own dead to mourn. "And you try so hard."

But Wes is ice-cold and in her face. "Quite."

Giles steps back from the other two and cleans his glasses. "I'd hoped to avoid this. Faith, Wesley, now is not the time."

And being disregarded, being not considered worthy of her own feelings from him too, it's too much. "No, Giles, it never is, is it? It's never time for Faith - not until you fucks want something from her!"

"We don't want anything from you, Faith."

He gave up hope on anyone paying attention to it years ago, but Giles tries the older and wiser routine. "Wesley, you know that's not true."

With a complete lack of success from either of his broken charges.

Wes is the strangest echo of the 'Princess Margaret' of a doubly destroyed library, a doubly destroyed life. "You are, of course correct, Mr Giles. We do need the instrument."

If Wes were wearing a tie, she'd strangle him with it. She really would, and she hates the pleasure that the idea of strangling Wesley still brings her, so she tries to cover it with the indignation that she knows is only a pale imitation of the Queen of Self-Righteous, and an attempt at humour to cover that failure. "Instrument! I thought the all new Council was all 'rah, rah Grrl Power!' - only without the really bad clothes and lip synching of Spiceworld?"

Giles would blame Ethan for the smile he can't help letting out of the box, along with the music and memories of a far more enjoyable life. A life he can't have any more, but one that he can't help craving in the darkness of a lonely bed and an even lonelier life. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Faith wishes she hadn't given up smoking while she was with Robin. If she had a cigarette she could use it to keep her hands steady, give her something to do to stop her wanting to rip him to pieces. Having a cigarette in her hands means she couldn't give him her hands to put herself in his power to repent of her sins with her own blood. She could use a cigarette to put out his eye. Her hands ache for hot tobacco and his hands and she knows he knows it and despises her for it. And she doesn't know where to start, where to stop, and she never has with him. She certainly never knows what to say, but the obvious. "Should have known."

Especially when Wes gets out the razor hard smile that lets him spit bile at her. "That would require far more intelligence that you've ever shown, Faith."

And it hurts. God, it hurts. "Do you know how many slayer dreams I've had in the last year, Wes? Do you?"

And he hurts her. He hurts her so much with the scorn he can pack into a single word. "Hardly."

"You wish!" She could eviscerate him with her bare hands. She could fuck him into oblivion, fuck herself into it only in her dreams, and either way, he's never going to give her what she needs, what he needs, and the need to force it to crisis is killing her.

Just as his need to take the pain, the losses of the past and wield it as a whip to her back is evident in every verbal flaying he can't help ripping her with. "I know your education was shall we say, somewhat lacking -"

"And who was that down to? Huh?" And she has to turn away from him; she has to if she's to save either of them from what her hands, her lips, the slayer in her wants to do to him. "You, or Mr Lets use Faith so Perfect Buffy can go off to North-western."

And that works as Giles takes the pressure away into himself. "Faith, while mistakes might have been made -"

She can breathe again and she can see she's hit pay-dirt with Giles' squirming around the truth. "Giles, admitting he's wrong. Fuck, you guys must be desperate."

But it's a short break as Wes takes her breath away with one well timed blow to shaky at best self-esteem. "Well, anyone would have to be desperate to have anything to do with scum like you, Faith."

And she can't help betraying herself, grabbing onto his shoulders and screaming her pain out at him. "I saved you, you bastard! Knocked you unconscious and crated you back to the mother country."

His smile could freeze the oceans that are meant to be between them. "Did I ask you too?"

It's somehow worse that he's so damned fucking cold about it. Like now she's shown herself up and he can be the Brahmin on the hill, gracious to the scum at his feet. "Some bastard did. I dreamed of you!"

He brushes her hands off his shoulders and it's effortless. "Mutual. The Council psychiatrist tells me I may never be free of the nightmares."

"Three times in the year since Willow did the spell. The only slayer dreams any of us have had. The only time I've ever had them this vivid, this real. And it was all you; you being gutted." Faith can feel the pain echoing through her even now. "I could feel that knife twisted in my own, gut, Wes!" Just thinking about it takes her back to the weeks of fear, the desperate need to convince Giles to arrange getting Wes out of Dodge, herself away from the States and her own dead. She'll never forget the sheer fucking difficulty of getting Giles to believe the fuck up that got his pet killed and the absolute terror that she'd be too late again - and that she'd finally kill Wes as a result.

Though right, now, and with that acid in his voice burning through her, she rather wishes she had let him die. "Must make a change, I suppose. Receiving, rather than giving. And we all know you're a giver, don't we, Faith. Still giving it up to anything living or dead that looks at you twice?"

"Wesley!" And they must have broken through the layers of tweed Giles has swathed himself with since he restored the Council. There's real emotion, a real person in that voice, not the automaton that's made her into the least of council resources ever since the black sheep brought back the other disgrace to the calling with her. "We're here on business. Not Faith's personal life -"

He's come back to life, but it's as Buffy's watcher that always loved her last, if at all - for all she tried, for all he was supposed to be hers too. Her hands ache to hurt him too, pay him back for all the neglect of 'the second slayer'. Always the second, never the first and that pain rumbles through her voice, "Hey, Giles, It's your slayer that bones vampires and demons, not me."

And that works. Buffy's watcher gets in touch with his own inner acid-bitch. "Won't they lower themselves to touch you, Faith?"

"We'll see who's gonna lower themselves, Giles. My house, apartment, flat, flea-ridden hellhole, whatever. Still mine." She bounces on her heels, all front, and fortifications an inch thick and made of glass.

Glass that's so easily shattered by the pebbles of truth. "Paid for by us, the Council."

But shards are all she knows of life, and there's nothing better to cut with. "Yeah, and still as tight with a buck as ever, huh? I thought the motel was bad. You know prison was better; we got movies. Ok, Glitter -"

It's the flickers of shame in Giles eyes that tell her that Boston's red-stained girl's scored a home run. And makes her swing again, right into his face, really go out to score some blood. "What's the matter, G? I know you always wanted to bone a slayer. Wanted to bone Buffy."

"I never!" It's his eyes that betray the convincing fluster.

That lets her in, lets her rip into him with all the pain of the one that's not wanted for her, that's always a poor substitute for the perfect one. "And I know better. You want to fuck her but you'd take me instead. Every man, dead or alive - they're all the same."

He stands his ground, half recoiling half drawn to her. "A watcher -"

And she's so close she can taste him. "Thinks with his dick just the same, don't you, Giles? You twisted fucks just get off on different shit to the usual slime-balls. Fuck, I know Wes does."

"You know nothing... nothing. You never did." Wes is so close she could bite him.

"You liked it, didn't you, Wes? When I cut you, when you spat in my face, you were hard as a fucking rock." She grabs at his cock through his jeans. "You're still hard."

She strokes Wes into the ecstatic pain of confinement as she turns on Giles. "And you, G? Angel told me what he did to you - for hours, for kicks. Spike watching and Dru laughing. Can't tell a girl that some part of you didn't get off on that. No one takes that shit and doesn't get their rocks off."

He knows it's a lie, but it's a lie he needs to cling to. "Some of us are sane, Faith."

She grasps at his hard-on through his well-cut wool trousers. "Kinda rules out the people in this room. And, hey, Rome. What's the latest? Demon, vampire, three-headed dog?"

He gasps out, "No-one." And it pleases her that Buffy's as alone as she is, as free as she is, as available, and that pleasure passes through her fingers into her watchers, even as Giles tries to concentrate on talking, on sanity. "The Immortal dumped her on a beach in Algeria the day after... Los Angeles."

And Wesley's laughing and crying. "He was a diversion, so we'd have no chance at support and all die?" Gasping out in agonised pleasure as she frees him from his jeans. "They needn't have bothered." He pulls her into a biting kiss as he murmurs, "You'd all let Angel, Spike... Illyria die."

Giles tries to pull her off Wes, but she's tied to her watcher with bonds of blood and guilt that are unbreakable. Wes bites his way down her throat, tonguing the scar Angelus left her marked with. The scar of the man who didn't fail her, but that she failed when he needed her. She whispers, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Wes breaks away to pull her T-shirt off her and pinch her nipples hard enough to hurt in a way that helps, all the time rumbling, "You knew."

She moans. "I would have come for him, for you."

She loses contact with Giles as Wes kisses and bites his way down her the stabbing scar on her belly. He snarls, "Liar," as he covers her sin, her death with his warmth and sharp, sharp pain.

It's Giles that pulls Wes away from her, leaves her breasts bare and feeling twice as exposed as the older man shouts at them, "We don't have time for psycho dramas."

And it's too much. It's always too much and she can't let him humiliate her, not want her, so she leaps at Giles, knocking him to the bed underneath her, shouting, "You never have time, not when it's me." She rips him free of the wool jacket. "Not when it's Wes! And pulls him to her by the tie so he can't ignore her anymore. "When it's Buffy and her vampires, oh yeah, you've got the time for them, for her." And she kisses him with all the passion of frustrated conquest as she moans, "Never me," into his mouth.

Wes unzips her jeans as he whispers, "Never you," in her ear.

He pinches and strokes her into a wildness that she passes through into exploring Giles mouth, neck, eyelashes, ripping the shirt off to expose more of him to her mouth, her lips, her teeth. And the more she marks him as hers with nails, with tears and sighs the more she melts into the man behind her. The man that rips her thong off with a sharp pain that leaves her soaking to his fingers.

Long, clever fingers he knows how to use, to play her body like a well-tuned instrument. Fingers that draw her closer and closer to orgasm as she rides them, even as he almost absently demands she tell him about all the men she's fucked, all the men that have used her before he has. And she should hate it, hate him - not find it hot. She knows that Miss Perfect wouldn't - that she'd beat Wes to a pulp for it. But she's Faith, and she's got Buffy's watchers pleasuring her. She's got Giles' nipple between her teeth, his skin, his dick, his very self exposed to her in a way that Buffy can never dream of and it's intoxicating.

Caught between the parallel bars of Wes' fingers and Giles body, she can't help exposing herself to them, telling them between kisses, between bites, between French kisses that straddle the balance beam between both. "And then there was Robin and that freaky ass coat he wanted me to wear."

"That's why you dumped him and -"

And Giles trying to push her away tells her she's fallen, the way she always falls. She knew she shouldn't have mentioned Robin, not with the Giles there who blames her for the loss of his chosen successor, but she can never remember in time what the rules are, just as she can never stop hoping, or talking to Wes. "Yeah. That was freaky, man."

"And he died." Giles stops moving, but Wes is a bastard and starts playing with her clit.

She can't help wriggling for Wes, just as she can't avoid desperately trying to get through to Giles. "That wasn't my fault. Don't you go fucking guilting me with that! I never told him to go patrolling Cleveland alone when we broke up. I was gonna call you guys to send a new slayer. I was." She's caught between grief, pain, denial and the need to be consumed by these men. "I never wanted him to die! He was one twisted up fuck, but you have to believe me, I didn't want him to die!"

Giles voice is sad, knowing. "You never do, do you, Faith?"

And Wes' is all too knowingly cruel. "And somehow they always end up dead just the same."

Giles twists her nipple hard enough to make her gasp with pleasure. "Or tortured."

As Wes thrusts hard into her, rumbling, "You always fuck it up, don't you, Faith?" He fucks her hard into Giles, rasping out, "Once a screw-up, always a screw-up," as she pushes back hard enough to almost hurt him.

Hurt him with her cunt, with her words; make him feel what they've made her feel all too often. "So why the fuck are you here? Why do you always need the 'screw-up' to bail out your pansy asses?" She breaks Giles' fly in her hurry to make him hers. "Where's Princess Buffy?"

She wants the answer, an answer, but she's petrified of it. "It's always the same, isn't it? Whatever I do. How much I try. I go out slaying every night until I'm dead and then you'll find some other schmuck to use to keep Buffy safely out of it."

She avoids all of it by swallowing Giles' cock, in making Buffy irrelevant, meaningless, them hers, herself all that matters - makes it all about Faith.

Wes ploughs her hard, Giles on her tongue, down her throat, her hands on his balls, the power to pleasure or pain all driving her to dance on the edge and pull them with her. And she's on the verge of pulling Giles into her depths when Wes pulls out of her and she pulls away from Giles to try and regain focus on the danger to her back.

A danger that plays with her clit hard enough to pull her over into an climax that she never wants to end, that feels like it never will end, that all that exists is this ratty sofa-bed, these men, this feeling of connecting.

"That's not exactly the case, Faith." And the feeling of connecting takes on a new dimension when Wes parts her butt cheeks and presses and pushes her arsehole open to him.

It's painful, and that pain makes her wetter. "Isn't it just though. It's all you've ever done for me." That he'd want her this way is the last thing she expects, which somehow makes sense when it comes to Wesley. And maybe the pain will finally make it all right between them, wash away the past in a flood of pleasure. "Use me."

And she means it, just as much as she does when Giles pulls her forward onto his cock and starts fucking her, even as Wes continues to open her to him. But the pleasure doesn't clean her from the pain, from the need, and the need hurts far more than Wes' fingers and she can't help her words. "No matter what I do, how hard I try, it's always gonna be that way, isn't it? I'll never be good enough -"

"Truer words were never spoken." And Wes thrusts hard into her, shattering her into a pleasure-pain she can barely take.

But she knows she has to, that she owes him and above all that she can't say 'no' to this man. "I saved you, man."

He's everywhere and still agonisingly so far away. "Did I ask you to?"

"Something did." And she needs to know that, needs to know that maybe if something 'Good' wants anything to do with her, then maybe there's hope that she's not beyond hope.

Its hope that's died in him, that's ashes in his voice. "Oh yes, the forces of good. The Powers That Screw You, as someone far, far better than you could ever dream of being once called them. Though I suppose they might not even remember calling the Powers that. I'll never know now, will I? You saved me."

"I did." And she did. She knows she did. Just as she knows this can save her. She's finally taken the man that should have been the father figure that took care of her, that cared for her. The man that's fucking her into Wesley as he fucks her into Giles. Fucking her into the ecstasy of the absolution of pleasure in Wes' eyes.

She twists her head, desperate to see it. But his eyes break her with, "You damned me."

She cries out, "Wes!"

Giles comes hard into her depths, but never looks at her as his eyes close.

And it's Wes whose pain passes into her with every thrust. "I should have been there. With Angel, with the others, with... Illyria." He pulls her hair, forces her face away from pain he can't bear to share with her. "Illyria might... not be missing. They might... I might have made a difference."

And it's a pain that she knows all too well, had it rip into her in that prison as surely as his wounds scratch at hers. It's too much; she can't cope. She wants to give him this, give him everything so she can finally dump the guilt. She can take all the pain he wants to inflict on her hide - she knows he owes him that, but she can't take his guilt on top of her own without crumbling. So she strikes out with, "Get real," even as she grinds back harder around his cock."

And it pulls him closer and closer to climax even in the midst of his grief. "My friends, Angel, people I... cared for, they might... not be... missing."

She grips him harder and he cries, "They might be alive if you, if you hadn't saved me," as pours his everything into her.

She pushes back against him, as she tries to be enough, crying out to him, "I had to try!"

Giles pulls away from her to reach out to Wes. "We did what we had to. It was a doomed fight. We're almost out of watchers and have a mass of untrained girls that are getting killed all too easily." He takes a deep breath before reaching out to a Wes that's pulling out of Faith, pulling back away from all of them.

Giles reaches out a single hand, holding Wes' head to him for a single kiss. "You were needed here."

Wes tries to hold onto the lifeline of bitterness. "A song I've rather heard before. I note that others couldn't say that to me."

Giles strokes Wes' hair, and snatches a last kiss before granting him a warmth he's never blessed her with. "Your father's feelings are irrelevant. He's not making the decisions. I am."

She might as well not be there. They're all that's important to each other right now, and, fuck, it hurts. "Yeah, ask B how well those calls work out for you, Giles."

That gets his attention as he buttons himself back into the armour he came in. "I'll tell her what I told her then. All that matters is the getting the job done." And the steel's back in Giles' 'addressing Wesley' voice. "You're a watcher, man. You bloody well know this."

And she'll be damned if she's the only one that's naked and vulnerable, so she dresses and snaps, "So why the fuck did you come here. What is the job?"

Wes tucks himself away before he can look at her. "Dana. She broke out of her restraints."

Giles retreats back into the 'it's only business' mode he's been in since his world exploded. To hear his voice, no one would guess he'd just fucked his slayer senseless. "And decapitated Rona, Sabine, Sinead, two orderlies and the caretaker."

And she can see why he'd do that. "All the London slayers?"

There's a hint of grief in his voice, but he allows less out than she'd offer the stray that haunts the hookers in the attic. "The girls with little or no training or experience were not ready to take a slayer with the memories and skills of every slayer that's ever been."

That's scary. She's patrolled - away from the kids so the failure couldn't contaminate them - but taking down only a few vamps each week means she's not in the best shape ever. "And I am? You want me to take her?"

But what she wants doesn't matter. It never has to Giles. "She has to be stopped."

It matters even less to Wes. "You took down Angelus."

And that hurts more now than it did an hour ago. "And nearly died!"

It's the work of moments until they're all dressed and Giles takes one last ice-cold look at her as they open the door. "All that matters is that you succeeded."

"As you will with this." Wes gives her a knife. "And Faith, this isn't a salvage mission." He takes a long look at her before turning in on himself. "Some people can't be salvaged."

The End