Title: What You Decide to Be is What You Are
Author: Darling_Effect
Rated: NC-17
Spoilers/Setting: Takes place BtVS post-Chosen, pre-Wolfram & Hart involvement. Which, uh, makes it mildly AU I guess.
Disclaimer: Done purely for my own amusement, and for love not profit.
Summery: Wes/Faith in NYC
Notes: Sequel to What You Decide to be is What You Are. This is dedicated to my fic enabler lovesbitca, who inspired me to write this pairing in the first place.
Feedback: darling_effect @ livejournal.com

 

What You Decide to Be is What You Are

She’s never been in love. Not really. She thinks she doesn’t care. At least, not when she’s sitting on the stoop on an August night, chain-smoking. She’s practically melting in the heat, gulping down great draughts of Budweiser in an attempt to keep cool. She loves the sensory overload of a hot summer night in the city—the cross-pollination of hip-hop and talk radio, sanitized MTV punk and Hispanic gospel, all fading into one great, heady mélange, the panhandlers gesticulating wildly, drug dealers and hookers on the make— all local color, and she takes it in along with the cigarette smoke. It soothes her. At long last, she’s come home.

Even so, she feels like the only girl in the world. The city of a million stories, and she’s all alone. Here she’s not The Slayer, or even A Slayer —she’s just a girl. And for once in her life that’s OK. She takes another drag, then stubs out the cigarette on the filthy sidewalk.

She’s about to go back inside when she sees him. He’s standing in the doorway opposite, watching. He’s not moving a muscle, not even when she makes eye contact with him. No acknowledgement there at all. She’s a little startled, because last she heard he was still in Hell-A. She wonders what the hell he’s doing in New York City.

She knows.

Five seconds later she’s standing across from him, staring him down. She’s trying her level best to be intimidating, but frankly she’s out of practice and she’s a bit shaken to see him again.

“What the fuck are you doing here, Wes?”

“I might ask the same of you, Faith.”

“Don’t fuck with me. I asked you a simple question.”

“You’re too young to retire, Faith. We need you.”

“‘We’? You’re back in the fold again? Bull-shit, Wes. Did he send you?”

“No.”

“Then who?”

“Giles. With all the new Slayers in the world, he and Buffy need someone to help them with training and technique—”

“Yeah, I’ve got some fabulous technique. What do you want me to say? There’s a reason I’m in New York and it’s not to babysit a bunch of baby Slayers in training.”

“So, yes, why are you here, Faith?”

“I’m tired. Just fucking tired of all of it. I’m here to get away from you, and after all I’ve done for you I think I deserve it. Jesus, the Council’s worse than the fucking Sopranos.”

Wes touches her arm. The touch is gentle but resolute. “Let me buy you dinner, Faith. Let’s talk about this.”

Faith visualizes her empty fridge (mayo, a mummified apple or two, and some milk) and says yes.

***

He takes her to this impossibly expensive Asian fusion place on Spring —the kind of place where they bring you a smooth, perfectly imperfect pebble to rest your lacquer chopsticks on.

Wes is being weirdly formal, holding the door open for her as they walk into the restaurant, pulling the chair out for her —so fucking chivalric. As he’s pushing her chair up to the table, she says, curtly, “You don’t have to do that.”

He looks a bit startled when he sits down. “Of course not, I just thought—”

“Let’s cut the bullshit, Wes. You want to talk? Fine. Let’s talk. You don’t need to wine and dine me. Miss Manners isn’t going to be grading you later.”

He can barely contain the throb of anger that flashes across his sharp features. “Let me tell you something, Faith. I don’t have to do a thing for you. In fact, I’d rather be just about anywhere else than in this unpleasant city. But Giles asked me to talk to you and I owe him that.” Wes squares his jaw and leans toward Faith. “But I don’t owe you a fucking thing. If you don’t want me to do this the nice way, I’m under no obligation to do so.”

There’s a dead silence as the wine is poured. Faith knows nothing about wine, but she’s got an inkling that Wes has ordered very well —maybe it’s the way the waiter snaps to attention at his every gesture. She’s staring intently at the menu just so she doesn’t have to meet Wes’ gaze. Jesus, he can be one intense bastard when he wants to be, and it seems like a hundred years have passed since he was the inexperienced, supercilious prig known as her Watcher.

A few more moments of fraught silence pass between them before Wes speaks.

“That was uncalled for. I’m sorry.” His voice is softer now. “I was hoping we could maintain a veneer of civility. Shall we start over?” He raises his glass. She joins him, and smiles weakly.

She takes a small sip of wine, then another. Its rich, honeyed tanginess starts to unravel the knot of tension in her stomach.

Before she can stop herself, she’s talking. Mile-a-minute, bullshit stuff. She feels as though he’s judging her in every spare second.

“—used to be the vamps pretty much stuck to Alphabet City and the warehouse district by the river, but now they’re moving on to Brooklyn just like everyone else. I hate schlepping over there, but I can’t afford a goddamn car and the vamps sure as hell aren’t gonna come to me. The hipster vamps in Williamsburg are the worst —so much fucking attitude— but at least they’re shitty fighters and I get to keep their records afterwards. Christ, the eighties were crap —but at least the trade is keeping me in groceries. I’m living pretty lean these days, even with the illegal sublet. The building super keeps giving me the evil eye …wonder if he’s a demon. Nah, probably just your typical New Yorker.”

“This city has certainly perfected a kind of collective hostility. Los Angelenos may be self-absorbed, but at least they’re relatively genial about it.”

They both laugh —more than a little uneasily— but it feels good, momentarily breaking the wave of tension that’s been threatening to crest.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh, Wesley. I mean, beyond your stuck-up little Watcher chuckle back in the day.” She leans back in her chair, swirling her wine in her glass. “It’s good to hear it, y’know. I was beginning to think you didn’t know how or something.”

He gives her a rueful smile. “You’ve always thought of me as a humorless prick, haven’t you Faith?” he says, barely looking up from his sushi-grade tuna. There’s not even a hint of hostility in his voice — it’s just a question, like any other.

She doesn’t want to answer him. She doesn’t trust the “yeah” that’s already fully-formed in the back of her throat.

She hesitates for a moment before figuring “What the fuck?” and giving him a patented self-satisfied Faith smirk: “Really, Wes, one out of two ain’t half-bad.”

Now it’s Wes’ turn to lean back, swirl his wine slowly and give her an unblinking stare that seems to bore right through her. “Touché, Faith. You’ve pinned my wings back and you’re just about to go for the thorax. Very good.” Glint of pure pleasure in his eye.

“You’re a condescending bastard, Wes.”

“Ah, I’m two for two there.”

Silence from Faith before she slams her wine down and leans across her overpriced entrée, invading Wes’ airspace: “Fuck, Wes. This isn’t working. Too much fucked-up bullshit has gone down between us for us to sit and have a nice little dinner and chat about the Slayerettes. I thought we could, but obviously—”

(Circles. We’re going in fucking circles.)

“Faith.”

Back when he was her Watcher, Wes’ voice was the epitome of ineffectual —all crisp enunciation and slightly nasal upper-crust smugness. He’d talk incessantly at her and all the while she’d be visualizing empty word balloons falling at his feet, just like in that Gary Larson cartoon her mom used to have on a cheap mug. Wesley might as well have been speaking in tongues for all she actually heard him.

Now her entire body snaps to attention when he says her name —his voice is low, as caramel smooth as cask-aged bourbon and just as insinuating. When the fuck did that happen?

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

She’s listening.

“I failed you, Faith. I failed you a long time ago.”

Faith doesn’t say anything.

“You always compared yourself to Buffy and found yourself lacking. The truth is, you could have surpassed her. You certainly had the natural ability. But you let that nagging voice of defeat win out every time. And I was too smug, too inexperienced, too convinced I was doing the right thing —to address that properly. You were isolated and scared, and I —I was in way over my head.”

She wonders why he’s telling her this. She doesn’t want to be his fucking confessor. Surely he knows that he doesn’t owe her anything, least of all something as banal as an apology. Her brutality trumped his inexperience, end of fucking story.

“Don’t make excuses for me, Wes. I was a fucking nightmare. And you’re the one who bore the brunt of that.”

When she looks at his face she always sees every scar, every blow she dealt, every bruise. No matter that they’re long healed —to her, they’re indelible. The long, jagged scar across his neck —mostly faded, but still there— isn’t hers, but everything else

It occurs to her that she helped build this new Wes, blow by forceful blow.

She hates herself for it. And hates him even more for seeking her out and reminding her, yet again. The two of them revel in reopening old wounds. It’s their calling, and they do it exceptionally well. Apologies and rationalizations aren’t going to cut it, not with them. They were made for something else entirely. She knows it, Wes knows it. Why are they always dancing around it?

“Fuck this shit. I need a real fucking drink.” Faith pushes her chair out, throws her napkin down, gets up. Stalks off towards the dark stairwell that leads to the upstairs lounge. Wes pushes his chair back with such sudden force that it almost topples. He pauses to steady it before rushing after Faith. He grabs her arm as she’s about to disappear up the stairs.

“You going to cut out on me, Faith? Running away from your problems, per usual? And here I’d hoped for your sake that you’d found a new M.O.”

“You’re so fucking obvious, Wes. You’ve got your little blinders on —you think it’s all about the misson. You don’t want to admit that it’s all about poor fucked-up little you.”

“You’re going to have to do better than that, Faith. Come on.”

She shrugs off his grip, squares her body between him and the wall.

“You’ve always been hot for me, haven’t you, Wes? I’m sure you wanted to tell me before, but I can only imagine how hard it is to talk with a gag in your mouth.”

She’s standing too close to him, defying him to say no to her.

“Faith—” His tone is even, unreadable. She doesn’t have a fucking clue as to what he might do, he’s so motionless. It’s the same coiled stillness that she saw right before he pinned that startled girl to the grimy wall of the drug den; the knife tore right through her shoulder and lodged in the wall, with enough force to suspend her above the floor. The look that Faith saw in his eyes then— flinty, dead, utterly cold— sent a shudder through her like nothing else before it, not even the full force of Angelus’ wrath. Wes’ behavior was more chilling, because it was so tamped down and unpredictable.

Angelus may be one bad-ass motherfucker, but there’s always been a touch of the showy and obvious about him.

Not so Wes.

She shakes the memory away.

She’s not even sure anymore if that really happened. It has the soft-focus haziness of a dream.

Nothing soft-focused about the coldness she saw when she looked in his eyes.

She sees a pale echo of it now in the intensity and opaqueness of his stare. She wonders for one brief moment if she’s in over her head, but then, she was never one to back away from a challenge. And Wes 2.0 clearly presents a challenge.

“A Watcher doing a Slayer. How very …naughty. I’m willing to bet that’s frowned upon by the Council. That’s not in your precious handbook, is it, Wes? Unless it’s the special one you keep in the bottom drawer.”

She can’t tell if he wants to hit her, or kiss her, or both. She imagines they’re pretty close on the spectrum for Wes anyway. In that respect the two of them are peas in a fucking pod.

She leans in even closer, whispers in his ear: “And I bet it gets you hotter than anything.”

She’s all up in his all too well-defined personal space, and part of her expects him to put her down with a quip, push her away, and return to his Glenfiddich, neat —just like the Wes of old.

When he doesn’t say anything, still doesn’t even move, she keeps goading him: “You’re all talk and no action tonight, Wes. It’s getting kind-of tiresome.”

Then he grabs her by her hair and pulls her even closer to him with a suddenness and force that leaves her momentarily breathless. Now it’s his turn to whisper in her ear, his voice rough but controlled: “I’m going to give you the fuck of your life, Faith. How’s that for all talk and no action?”

Still gripping her hair tightly in one fist, compromising her range of motion, he undoes the button on her jeans and unzips them in one deft motion of his free hand. He slides one finger, then two, between her legs. “No underwear. Huh. Can’t say that I’m surprised.” Before she can stop herself she jerks her hips towards him, ever so slightly.

He notices.

“Uh uh uh, Faith.” Shades of prissy Wes, admonishing her. He pulls his fingers out of her immediately. They’re slick. “Seems I’m not the only one who’s been all talk and no action.”

“Fuck, Wes—” Her breathing is shallow.

“You’re not going to beg, are you? That’s so unbecoming.”

He pulls up the stairs, his grip uncomfortably tight on her arm. It’s early yet, so the lounge is deserted. There’s no sign of the bartender, and the lights are dim. Wes deftly maneuvers her around the low boxy tables and drags her toward the bathroom in the back. She knows full well she could easily break away but she lets herself be led by the arm like an errant four-year old who’s been caught.

He practically throws her into the bathroom, closing the door behind them and locking it.

Once she regains her balance, she sees that it’s a typical chichi yupscale restaurant bathroom, bigger than most New York apartments and far more sumptuously furnished. The mirror’s got trompe l’oeil bamboo around it; there’s a squat red paper lantern by the sink, aromatic candle burning away inside of it —your run-of-the-mill faux-Asian kitsch. Faith’s just thankful it’s not the worst bathroom in Scotland, ‘cause she knows it wouldn’t matter to Wes either way.

It’s murderously stifling and they’re both throwing off heat.

“Take your clothes off.”

She barely has time to step out of her Levi’s, pull her tank top over her head and let them both fall in an unceremonious heap on the floor before he pushes her roughly up against the wall. He’s got both her wrists pinned at her sides, and she can feel the insistence of his erection against her cleft of her ass. The proximity is making her so very wet.

He lets go of one wrist and cups her breast in his hand. His thumb grazes gently over the hard kernel of her nipple —back and forth, back and forth, mantra-like. Then he pinches it, hard, and she lets out a little groan and arches against him.

“You’re an insolent girl, Faith.” His whisper is hot in her ear. “This is what you deserve.”

His hand glides down the length of her torso and comes to rest between her legs. His index finger thrums teasingly against her clit, tracing steady concentric circles around its periphery with agonizing, deliberate slowness. He gradually speeds up, faster and faster, and just when her clit is about to go into sensory overload, he plunges three fingers into her. She’s rocking in time to the thrusts of his fingers, and he’s keeping her unbearably close to coming by varying the depth and speed of his strokes. She wants him inside of her right fucking <i>now</i> but he’s playing by his rules, and somewhere in her delirious brain she’s forced to admit that he’s earned that right. But she doesn’t care.

“Fuck me, Wes, please.” There’s a hitch in her voice.

“I thought you’d agreed not to beg.” His fingers slip out of her.

“Jesus, fuck —”

She angrily half-turns, fully intending to get this started, for real— when he grabs her by the shoulders and turns her around to face him. His erection still pressing against her, he pulls her toward him and when they finally kiss it’s a wonder a shower of sparks doesn’t erupt.

For once, it’s not all aggression and mindfuckery between them. That’s seemingly melting away as they lean into one another. It’s a slow, exploratory kiss —a stolen, anomalous moment, slightly unexpected and almost feverish.

It doesn’t last. It’s Faith who breaks it off. “This is romantic and all, Wes, but I still want you to fuck me. Like, now.”

“Oh, I’m getting to that, Faith.”

The two of them start peeling his clothes off hurriedly. His shirt and T-shirt go on the floor with Faith’s clothes. There’s a strangely satisfying pop, pop, pop as she undoes the buttons of his jeans. It’s his turn to groan as she takes hold of his cock and guides him into her. She wraps one leg around his back and angles herself for his thrusts. Her muscles clamp down around the base of his cock —she feels it twitch in response as he slams into her.

Their fucking is raw and rushed and there’s so much heat building up between them that Faith almost can’t stand it. They’re expectant together, so taut with want and need.

“Fuck, don’t stop —”

He half-expects a hail of glorious invectives from her when she comes, but she’s wordless. Her head is thrown back, her body racked by shudders, her nails dig painfully into his back as she arches against him— but she’s surprisingly quiet. Only when the tremors are dying out does she whisper an exhausted “Fuck.”

He kisses the hollow of her throat, the slope of her neck, taking in the mingled scent of clean sweat and faded cheap perfume. She traces his fading scars absently with her fingers.

“You always find a way to unravel me, always.” His voice is almost a whisper, and when he looks at her the hard-edged anger, the coldness, is gone.

It’s too much. She lets out a strangled sob; she turns her face away from him so he can’t see her fighting back hurt. “— I don’t know how you can say— How can you—” How can you absolve me, ever? He reaches up to stroke her hair, to smooth it out of her eyes, and she flinches. “Shh, Faith. I know. Shh.” He places a quiet, featherlight kiss upon her shoulder.

She looks up only to realize that they’ve utterly destroyed the carefully arranged faux-feng shui of the bathroom.

“Oh, crap.” She can’t help but laugh. It’s so fucking ridiculous —this room, the two of them, forgiveness. Christ, there must be another apocalypse looming.

“Well, since we didn’t break one another for once, it’s only fitting that we ruined something.”

“Is it even possible to sneak out discreetly?” She eyes the disheveled carnage around them.

“There’s always a way.”

“We never did have that talk, Wes.”

“Oh, I got what I came for. Didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I think I did.” There’s the tiniest flash of a smile as she starts getting dressed. “So, what are you going to tell Giles? ‘Cause he is gonna be pissed. Especially after he sees the charges on the business account.”

“That you deserve a little break. He’ll understand. And then sometime within the next six months he’ll send me back, and we’ll try this again.”

“Let’s trash a hotel room next time, y’know? This was a little beneath us.”

“Agreed.”

“Will you take care of everything with them?”

“Yeah. You go.”

She’s opening the door when Wes says, “Faith?”

She pauses, turns toward him. “Yeah?”

“Be good.”

She winks at him. “I will.”

She closes the door behind her.

The End