Fic: A Witness To See The Mess I've Made (Faith/Wesley, PG13)

title: a witness to see the mess I've made
author: ever_neutral  
rating:
PG-13 (for slight language)
word count:
3,440
characters:
Faith, Wesley
A/N:
 This is sort of my personal shippy canon regarding the events of mid-S4 of AtS.
summary:
She’s careful not to sound like she has a vested interest, but rather more like this tracking outing to capture history’s most vicious vampire is boring her to death.

His face is the last thing Faith expects to see.

She sits heavily, meets his eyes through the glass, picks up the phone. She has no idea what to expect of this conversation, especially since she never expected to be having it with him. That’s what she tells him, though she realises her tone lacks surprise. Maybe it’s prison dulling her expression; maybe she’s not as surprised as she should be. Maybe a relationship just loses its thrill once you’ve tied the other person up and made them scream (though she’s found that’s not usually a problem).

She is surprised by the way her eyes move over him and linger on what they see. He starts talking about how much has been happening, and she hears herself saying, with a sincerity that surprises her, “Whatever it is suits you. I mean, you’re looking… good.”

And he does. Whatever she’s been missing since they last spoke – or rather, spewed venom at each other – has done wonders for the guy. There’s a steel in his eyes (free of the fragile pair of glasses she’s used to seeing on him) as they meet hers, and in the set of his suede-clad shoulders.

Back in the old days, she might have given this Wesley a second glance.

Another surprise: His indifference to her approval. “You know what’s going on in L.A.?” he asks, sliding right past the compliment as though it were never given. This Wesley doesn’t lap up crumbs at anyone’s feet. She approves even more.

“You’re here to fill in the blanks for me.” She leans forward, curious despite herself. “Why?”

“We need you,” he replies simply.

She can’t help but make a sarcastic retort, pointing out that Angel will undoubtedly save the day, as he is prone to do. There is a trace of bitterness in her voice, and she realises how long it’s been since Angel last came by to check on the state of her soul.

Then Wesley says, “Angel’s gone, Faith. Angelus is back.” And the world stops.

A sense of absolute clarity settles over her, long gone but sorely missed in the fuzzy monotony of incarceration.

She warns Wesley to step back. She’s given him enough glass cuts for one lifetime.


--


There are some things two people can’t do without being on the same side, and Faith guesses that breaking out of jail is one of them.

There’s more broken glass as they hit the car below, and she feels compelled to ask if it hurts him. “Five by five,” he replies, easy as breathing.

She wonders if that’s what forgiveness sounds like.


--


He takes the opportunity to test her, Watcher-style, on the road, with a couple of impromptu vampires looking to divert their path. The stake is like an old friend, comes alive in her hand, and reminds her of everything else she’s been missing.

“Feel natural?”

“It’s like riding a biker,” she quips.

He seems to appreciate the joke, but she doesn’t let herself look at him long enough to know for sure.


--


The rest of the car ride is a tense mix of exposition and loaded silence. They say things, but don’t really talk. It doesn’t bother her. People like them never had much use for talking anyway. Besides, Faith is having a hard enough time wrapping her head around this real-life supernatural soap opera that Wesley’s been describing. She’s vaguely curious to know what role in the melodrama he’s been playing – what kind of “complicated life” he’s been leading – but she decides that his personal life doesn’t interest her.

Jokes are traded, but with the keen awareness that their relationship doesn’t deserve to be on joking terms. Then again, after all the things their relationship has endured, maybe they’ve earned the right to be blasé.

They.

And it is “they” now. We. Us. The words are little surprises in her world-weary mind, though she thinks maybe they were also inevitable. The two of them were always set up to be a team, after all. It was just too early back then.

(She thinks of herself from before and feels old as rot, feels as though her skin is just clinging onto her bones out of habit. She looks at Wesley and somehow knows he feels the same. She looks at him and thinks he’s grown so old he might as well have turned to stone. She wonders what it might take to smash his effigy to pieces.)

She failed him; he failed her. They took turns failing each other, and so fulfilled a reliable cycle of destructiveness. Maybe that’s why they’re able to sit beside each other now, the empty road surrounding them on every side, and keep going, regardless.

We. She tries it out on her tongue, mouths the words when he’s not looking. Wesley and me. Me and Wes. Us.

She stops herself before it starts to sound good.


--



The Hyperion is a tad more glamorous than she expected from Angel Investigations. She meets Wesley’s new friends, plus an old one – Cordelia doesn’t seem to have changed much, barring the skin-deep details, which is a comfort of sorts. Or maybe she’s changed a ton, but Faith doesn’t have the time to look deeper, and she tells Cordelia about as much.

She does happen to notice during weapons check (and she’s not trying to notice, because she doesn’t really care, but sometimes these things stand out to her) that they – “they” being Gunn, Cordelia, Fred, and Connor – keep them (we. us.) at a distance. She expected that for herself, murder convict and psycho Slayer that she is. But she has to wonder why the good guys’ discomfort extends to the man standing beside her too. Cordelia mostly glares at Faith, but every now and then Wesley wanders too close and Cordelia catches him in her stare. Fred keeps shooting nervous glances in Wesley’s direction, then looking away quickly, while Gunn alternates between gloomily watching Fred’s indecisive eyes and fixing Wesley with an unhappy gaze.

Faith raises an eyebrow. Complicated life, indeed.

She glances at Wesley, who’s busy pretending not to notice the eyes on him. She wonders just how much he’s fucked up this time.


--


When they’re alone again, she finds herself being curious enough to ask how he is. She’s careful not to sound like she has a vested interest, but rather more like this tracking outing to capture history’s most vicious vampire is boring her to death.

Wesley, naturally, doesn’t seem to buy it. “Maybe not the best time for small talk, Faith.”

She shrugs it off. “Thought you Brits loved small talk.”

He doesn’t reply. She tries again. “So, you guys look like a pretty merry band of evil-fighters.” She swallows. “Bet you give Angel a run for his money.”

He gives a grim sort of smile. “I suppose.”

“You all been together this whole time?” she asks as they near a warehouse.

His smile vanishes. “No,” he says shortly.

She feels a compulsion to keep pushing him, but something makes her hold her tongue. Possibly it’s the grip of prison, still tight, warning her to keep out of others’ personal space. Possibly it’s the knowledge that if he were the one interrogating her about her wellbeing, she’d be threatening his by now.

Clearly, they both do not-talking well.

Hell of a pair we make, she thinks with something like fondness.


--


“WELCOME FAITH.”

Angelus’s six-foot-tall sign on the side of the ramshackle warehouse doesn’t exactly make her feel welcome, but the feelings it stirs up are familiar all the same. Anticipation, resolve, dread, hope. (Though if she’s being honest, the last one was never very welcome.)

Well, least someone’s glad to see me back. Somewhere in there, Angel will be glad too. She’ll find a way to prove it.

Wesley’s muttering about the need for strategy.

“You take low,” she responds, running towards the sign. “I’ll hit him high.”

Wesley doesn’t argue; instead he’s preoccupied in a scuffle with a couple of Angelus’s fanged groupies. They’re getting out the taunts and threats, which makes her grin a little. She suspects Wesley can more than handle them.

Check us out, she thinks, jumping into the warehouse. Teamwork.


--


Life, it seems, amounts to paying for the same mistakes on repeat. Each blow is a punishment for daring to believe in herself, delivered by the man who taught her how.

This doesn’t even compare to the pain of her failure to save him back.

She waits for Angelus to drop his last taunt and leave, before she allows herself to collapse on the warehouse floor. The sun, newly revived – courtesy of Angelus – shines triumphantly through the window she just broke. It hurts her eyes, and she has to close them. She notes that this end to endless night probably counts as progress, but she’s not really in the mood to rejoice much.

When she opens her eyes again, she sees a dark figure before her, breaking up the warm glow, looking every inch the part of trusty rescuer. It reminds her of the last time she thought that, four years ago, right before cold handcuffs were clamped down on her wrists.

Déjà vu isn’t what it used to be, Wes.

He offers her a hand, and she grasps it.

That’s new.


--


Wesley’s apartment doesn’t feel lived in. It’s immaculately furnished and, at first glance, free of obvious blemishes – he must clean it every day. Faith wonders how long it must take him, to remove the layers of dirt from every surface, to dispose of the mess.

The books stacked around the room seem to be placed as evidence of his existence. They seem to declare: You can’t say I was never alive. This declaration is what allows him to move around his home like a ghost, inspecting her bruises with hands as cold as death, communicating to her with words that don’t quite touch her.

There’s a five-dollar bill by his bed that hasn’t seen the light of day for months. (She guesses, but she doesn’t know.) The forlorn scrap of paper, creased and illegibly marked, is the one thing out of place in his painstakingly arranged apartment. She wonders for a moment about its significance, but almost as quickly decides that she doesn’t care.

“I could use a shower,” she says.

He happily assents, even murmurs a worry for her wellbeing. She replies in a halting tone, something about feeling sticky, and feels very unglamorous. Wesley did always know how to make her feel like she just crawled out of the gutter.

She turns her back on him, wondering why he hasn’t said a word about her failure.


--


Her reflection shows a face that’s bruised, battered and bloody. All the youth she lost behind bars is plain to her now, standing here in front of Wesley’s bathroom mirror. She feels stained, all the way down to her bones, and the proof is visible in the red dripping off from her skin onto the bathroom sink. She thinks again of Wesley waiting on the other side of the door, and wonders if his reflection treats him kindly at all. Faith hopes not.

She steps into his shower, turns on the water, stares at his tiles. They’re black and blue, like some sort of cosmic joke. She wants to laugh, but a scream comes out instead, accompanied by the smash of her fist into the wall. Another follows suit. And another. This meltdown has been building in her for a while, but for whatever reason, she only feels free to let it out now, alone here in Wesley’s shower, just her and her fists as they tear apart his tiles, the water her witness.

She knows Wesley is probably listening to every second of the havoc she’s wreaking, but she doesn’t feel self-conscious. He’ll understand.

When she’s finished, she steps back and surveys the damage. His walls look better this way: dented and broken.

Having done that, she lets herself relax, and watches her blood drain away with the water.


--


She steps out, revived and yet wearier, shrugs at Wesley’s blank stare.

“Sorry about your bathroom,” she says, offhand. Apologizing still doesn’t come naturally, no matter what Angel once said about practice.

Wesley doesn’t care about the damage. She figured he wouldn’t. After all, she knows him well enough to casually destroy parts of his home.

He’s more concerned about her level of commitment, which proves how well he knows her in return.

She tilts up her chin, looks him in the eye. “Five by five, boss.”

There are still tiny pieces of his tiles under her fingernails.


--


She doesn’t realize how serious he is, and how much he’s really changed, until he’s stabbing a knife into a girl’s shoulder as an information-obtaining strategy, yelling at Faith to shut up, and calmly walking away without a hint of remorse, having got the information he wanted.

She can’t just let it drop. God help her, she’s actually horrified. “You crossed it back there, Wes. What you did back there –”

He turns the conversation around in the worst way possible.

“I remember what you did to me, Faith.”

And here it is. The reason people like them should never talk. She doesn’t know how to begin to defend herself, or convince him that she’s sorry – she has never been good at remorse. No matter how much she has, it will never be enough.

All she’s able to do is promise never to hurt him again. It doesn’t keep long, because he’s goading the worst out of her, spitting hatred through his teeth, making her doubt whether she’s actually changed at all.

“You’re a rabid dog who should have been put down years ago –”

And there’s that old blaze of pure rage, ice-cold in her veins, and she has him pinned in a lightning flash against the chain-link fence, his shotgun in her hand poised to strike.

“See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” he says, and he’s not sorry. “It’s what you’ll need to beat him.”

A test. It’s always a test with him. Faith wonders how someone so obsessed with playing games can care so little about consequences.

She tries to remember if Wesley was always this cruel, or if this is just a recent development – but no, this twist in character must have always been there, lying deep in his heart, waiting to snap and release the fount of foul blood and rage through his veins. Just like accidentally murdering an innocent man broke the dam in her and let her sickness gush forth, something in Wesley has snapped. And that’s why he’s able to say these things to her, and stab helpless junkies for information, and not care about the price he’s paying.

Somewhere in her head, Faith is aware she’s concerned only because she’s in the new position of having something to lose. She wonders if he has already lost everything. She wonders why he’s even still playing.

She lets him go, turns her back, mutters about the risk of killing Angel.

“I don’t mean to be insulting, but it would seem that’s not really a risk,” he says from behind her.

She’s glad he can’t see her wince. “If you’re gonna suggest something, Wes, suggest it.”

He catches her stride so they walk side by side. “This is Angelus’s game. If we’re planning on beating him, we have to master his game of play. One approach is viciousness. The other –”

She stops. Wesley does too, and meets her eyes. “You have to be ready, Faith.”

She nods, turns back the way they came, back in the direction of the junkie he left bleeding. “So prepare me.”


--


Their plan goes off like clockwork, and when Angelus clamps his fangs down on her neck, the excruciating pain is a triumph.

(Then he jerks back, sputtering incoherently, falling to the floor defeated.)

Wesley’s making do with the “are you all right”s again, so she makes herself stay conscious long enough to declare her victory to him.

Before she blacks out, his expression looks to her like something close to pride. But her vision is blurring, so she can’t really be sure.


--


Awakening from a coma turns out to be one of those things that’s more fun on second go. At least this time, when she bolts out of the bed, she hits the floor running.

She meets Angel’s relieved eyes through the bars of the cage, and allows herself to smile. “Welcome back, big guy.”

He returns her smile with a little bit of shame. She expected that, after the mindfuck of a coma they shared. Part of her is selfishly relieved that the shame isn’t hers.

Fred and Wesley help up Gunn, who’s regained consciousness and is glaring at Connor. Connor’s staring at Angel, his expression warring between relief and murderous rage.

Fred goes to open the cage, and Wesley comes over to stand beside Faith. His smile is the first she’s seen on him in what has probably been a million years.

She can’t help but grin back. “We did it, boss.”

“I never doubted you, you know,” he says in a tone that is something like affectionate. It makes her catch her breath, makes the world spin a little bit, but she reminds herself that she’s just been on a drugged-out trip, so it’s not anything surprising.

“I hope you weren’t up there taking all the credit,” she shoots back, before the pause gets close to too long.

“If only,” he says wryly. “Everyone was most certainly more worried about you.”

“Your team’s got their priorities straight,” she says without missing a beat.

He stifles another smile, and it occurs to her that this is okay, this talking but not really talking, now they’ve passed the mutual abusiveness stage of their relationship and have landed on something close to mutual… forgiveness.

But she doesn’t dwell on that word, and she’ll never ask for it. It’s not that she doubts his capacity to give it up; it’s just that it’s too heavy and too meaningless for people like them.

Angel’s launched into a “thank you for not killing me” speech, so there’s not really much more talking after that. Faith feels a flash of something like disappointment, but relief replaces it almost as quickly. After all, the last few days have proved that talking with Wesley equals dangerous territory.

(It’s not that she’s not attracted to danger; it’s just that this feels too fragile to risk destroying.)


--


Their goodbyes take up all of two syllables, which is exactly the number of syllables their names make when they say them back to each other. Needless to say, they do not-talking well.

Of course, it should be noted that she calls him “Wes,” which is what she’s been calling him for a long time. It’s more traditional for nicknames to be used among people who are friends – which they’ve never been, but maybe they are now. Maybe after all their relationship has endured, they’ve earned the right to be friendly.

“See, Brits know how to say goodbye,” she says, before the pause gets anywhere close to tense. “Angel here wanted a hug.”

Angel denies anything of the sort, while Faith stops herself from imagining what it would be like to hug Wesley. She doesn’t let herself wonder if it would feel natural; if it would feel like forgiveness; if she’d be able to feel the glass-cut scars she once gave him beneath his shirt – but those would be long gone by now, since she was never aiming for them to run deep. For a moment she almost regrets that decision.

(It’s not that she wants to hurt him anymore; it’s just that she’d like to know she’s not just another notch in his long list of failures he has to smooth over and varnish.)

Willow’s saying some last words to Angel, so Faith waits impatiently. She’s not exactly in a rush to be back in Sunnydale – and she’s definitely not in a rush to get to another apocalypse – but if she stays here any longer, she might get used to feeling wanted, which history shows has never served her well.

Willow gives one last good-natured scolding to Angel’s team for restoring Angelus, and then they’re finally out the door.

Faith doesn’t give Wesley a last look before she walks out. It’s not that she’s not inclined toward bad habits; it’s just that she doesn’t allow the thought of doing so cross her mind.



*
Tags:
And if that wasn't a great fiction I really dont know what would be!! I really liked your Faith and the way she thinks is true to Faith as I see her... I also liked the "if she’d be able to feel the glass-cut scars she once gave him beneath his shirt – but those would be long gone by now, since she was never aiming for them to run deep. For a moment she almost regrets that decision." Damn straight that's Faith! The way you showed the "development" of their "relationship" was plain perfect!! I really can't think of a single here that I didn't like! Great work!!

RYL
And here it is. The reason people like them should never talk.

Love. Loved this. So nearly canon, with the lightest of twists, and all just *there* on the spot where it rings perfectly true.
aaaaah! aaaaaaaah! FLAIL! THROUGH WHAT NEFARIOUS SORCERY DID YOU EVEN KNOW that I decided at 2:30 this morning that Wesley/Faith is my favorite non-canon Wesley relationship? I WANT MY BRAIN BACK!

OBVIOUSLY I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS but I have to try to pick favorites because because because.

She wonders if that’s what forgiveness sounds like.

WAH.

The two of them were always set up to be a team, after all. It was just too early back then.

I CAN'T EVEN.

Life, it seems, amounts to paying for the same mistakes on repeat. Each blow is a punishment for daring to believe in herself, delivered by the man who taught her how.

WAH!!


She knows Wesley is probably listening to every second of the havoc she’s wreaking, but she doesn’t feel self-conscious. He’ll understand.

When she’s finished, she steps back and surveys the damage. His walls look better this way: dented and broken.


....

.....

Just like accidentally murdering an innocent man broke the dam in her and let her sickness gush forth, something in Wesley has snapped. And that’s why he’s able to say these things to her, and stab helpless junkies for information, and not care about the price he’s paying.

OH MY HEART.

Awakening from a coma turns out to be one of those things that’s more fun on second go.



(It’s not that she wants to hurt him anymore; it’s just that she’d like to know she’s not just another notch in his long list of failures he has to smooth over and varnish.)

TEENY TINY PIECES. YOU DO THIS JUST TO HURT ME. I KNOW YOU DO. IT IS NOT VERY KIND.
DUDE. YOUR EXCITABILITY WARMS MY COLD DEAD HEART.

Oh, man. I'm just ecstatic that this does the job for you, because I know how you stan Wes (much like I do), and I kept thinking "HOW WILL P FEEL ABOUT THIS?" while I was writing it and NOW I SEE THAT YOU ARE PLEASED. ALL IS WELL. THANK YOU FOR LIKING IT. ♥ ♥ ♥

THROUGH WHAT NEFARIOUS SORCERY DID YOU EVEN KNOW that I decided at 2:30 this morning that Wesley/Faith is my favorite non-canon Wesley relationship?

BECAUSE IT IS MINE TOO? AND WE ARE THE SAME PERSON IN THESE MATTERS??? Yep.
THANK YOU FOR BEING FANTASTICALLY TALENTED AND DOING THEM BOTH JUSTICE. (Faith is fantastic here too, obviously! I just have part 3 of the Wes Love diary open right now so he's on the old mind-grapes.)
I DO NOT DESERVE YOU. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM. (Ooh, working on part 3 already? Damn, dedicated stanning. I AM NOT WORTHY.)
ha ha. I mean, parts 2 and 3 honestly got like 70% done while I had the plague, so I am not sure how much credit I can take.
This is lovely! It's really neat to have watched these eps for the first time a few weeks ago and then read this sort of internal perspective of them now. I really like how you fleshed out Faith's thoughts.
Wes/Faith=OTP!

There are so many things you noticed about each one of these scenes that I totally missed. I guess that means I need to rewatch those episodes.

The glass thing? I never even thought that until you mentioned it. Yeah!

They do not-talking so well. If they do talk, fists may fly. Thank you so much for writing this.
Thank you for the feedback! Very pleased you enjoyed.

Yeah, a lot of details in this are really just my shipper goggles going into overdrive - but I totally condone rewatching these eps! Those two are just on fire.
I really liked this; it was a great exploration of Faith's thoughts and feelings.
Faith/Wesley is my favorite Faith ship, and this piece showed me exactly why. You really got inside Faith's head well and showed how she would be able to understand the darkness that's come out inside of him by then better than anybody else could. I loved this.
Oh, yay, thanks so much!

she would be able to understand the darkness that's come out inside of him by then better than anybody else could.

Haha, yes, I believe we had a conversation about this randomly one time?!! In which case - I'm glad that this works for you! It means a lot from a fellow shipper. :)
I watched this episode quite recently, and I was fascinated by the Faith/Wesley interaction. I searched for fanfic with them, but didn't really find anything good. Imagine my happy surprise when this little gem showed up on my very own flist!

I really love this. Your Faith is spot on. :)
I totally love it.

“Five by five,” he replies, easy as breathing.

She wonders if that’s what forgiveness sounds like.


That's beautiful.