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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Six: Knitting Together
"Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease."
Wesley awoke to the sound of a woman in his shower. It was disorienting, strange, to drift up from silence to the sounds of splashing and singing, after living so long without them. Virginia had been the last, and before that...
"Wes, you got towels?" The water cut off abruptly, and Faith's voice drifted to him from the direction of the bathroom.
Wesley opened his eyes, startled, and found himself staring at the living-room ceiling. Couch? Ah, yes. Memory flooded back, and he sat up slowly, feeling rumpled and strangely content.
"In the cabinet under the sink," he called to his guest, and stood up, stretching stiff muscles.
After Faith had finished crying the night before, he had gently led her back to the couch, and placed his teacup in her hands. She had smiled at him through the traces of tears and apologized for breaking the other; he had apologized for being such a fool, and then told her the story of the past few weeks.
By the time he'd finished, she had been fading into the silences, exhausted and at a loss for words. At that point, "What the fuck?" was the most coherent question she could manage, so he'd given up and told her to sleep on it and finish the conversation in the morning. He had offered her the bedroom, and she hadn't refused.
Faith came padding barefoot out of the bathroom, rubbing at her long dark hair with the towel. "I borrowed a shirt," she said, gracing him with a flash of white teeth. "Hope you don't mind. I was getting sick of the other one."
"Ah, no, no, that's perfectly fine. Perhaps you could, ah, go shopping with Cordelia later on."
On the other hand, Wesley wouldn't mind loaning her more button-up shirts if they all had this effect on her. She had pulled it on over her black leather pants, leaving the collar undone and rolling up the cuffs; it covered her from throat to mid-thigh, yet it was just as effective as the dangerous little tops she usually wore. It clung to all the right places... Hastily, he refocused on her face.
Faith laughed, and he flushed, embarassed. "It must look good on me," she said, "'cause you've gone all stupid again. Why would I want to go shopping with Cordelia?"
"Oh, right." Wesley ran a hand over the stubble on his jaw, feeling as though his brain was still half-asleep. "I'd forgotten, you have a rather negative history with her. Fred, then, perhaps. But didn't you say you went to Cordelia's apartment last night?"
Faith rolled her eyes and walked towards the kitchen, throwing the towel at him as she passed. "Yeah. It was a little weird. Lilah said you were at the office, but damn if you hadn't moved it, so I started casually asking folks at the bus station if they knew where Angel Investigations was. Didn't think you'd be in the phone book." She paused to peer into the refrigerator, and turned a frown towards him. "God, Wes, don't you have anything to eat?"
"I haven't been here in several days," he said, apologetically.
She laughed and closed the refrigerator, then started to rummage around in his cabinets. "As if you would on a normal day. Maybe I oughta take you shopping. Anyway, so I ran into this tall guy with weird eyes who looked a little like Angel, and he told me the offices were closed. Which I thought was bullshit, but when I told him I was an old friend, he said he'd take me to Cordy's apartment."
"That would be the Groosalugg," Wesley told her. "I'm sure Angel mentioned our adventures in Pylea?"
Faith paused mid-search and gave him an astonished look. "That was Groo? I thought I heard Cordy call him that, but I wasn't sure. Angel always makes him sound like an ogre. He's kinda hot, actually... Ha! Who bought you breakfast cereal? 'Cause you don't strike me as the Cinnamon Life type."
"I have no idea," Wesley replied, bemused. "But I'm surprised Groo didn't introduce himself."
"Oh, I asked his name," Faith said, then paced over to the kitchen table and cleared a chair for herself. "He said he was leaving so it didn't matter. He must've had a fight with Cordy, 'cause when we got there she shoved me in the apartment and joined him in the hallway without so much as Hello."
She laughed again. "And then they came in ten minutes later and made straight for the bedroom. Judging from the noises they were making, I'm pretty sure they forgot I was there, unless they get off on people listening. So I went looking for her address book and found out where you lived."
Wesley cleared his throat. He'd almost forgotten the frank way this girl spoke, the body-confidence in the fluid way she moved. He hadn't appreciated it when he first met her, caught up in his Watcher role; perhaps he had been too long removed from that role now, for he was in danger of appreciating it too much.
Be the Watcher, Wesley, he told himself, and spoke. "You'll probably get a proper introduction this morning at the office. I suggest you try not to embarrass them too much?"
Faith rolled her eyes. "And there you go again with the stick up the..." She stopped short in the middle of the sentence, as if suddenly realizing what she was saying, and looked down at her lap. The smile drifted from her face. "Sorry. Yeah. I'll try to restrain myself."
((Face it, Wesley. You really were a jerk. Always walking around like you had some great big stake rammed up your English Channel!))
Wesley winced, his memory of that day's events as clear as hers. Then he shook it off. "Never mind. I'm sure whatever you say, it won't dent Cordelia's opinion of you much."
She shook her head and dredged up a smile, dismissing the subject. Then she sat up straighter, narrowing her eyes at him. "You don't look all that great, you know. Better than yesterday, but should you really be up and around so much?" She set the box of cereal down and walked over to him, lifting nimble fingers to the old bandage at his throat.
Wesley blinked, stiffening in place as she picked at the adhesive. She was close enough that he could smell the cinnamon on her breath and his shampoo in her soft hair. "I've no idea. I didn't stay in hospital long enough to hear the doctor's recommendations," he reminded her. "And I'll feel better once I've had a shower."
"Then take one. Just let me get this..." Faith unraveled the last of the bandage, then took a step back. "Uh, Wes? That doesn't look like a five-day-old cut."
"What?" He stared at her, then at the barest trace of blood on the bandage, and brushed at the stitches with his finger-tips. Or, rather, at the place where the stitches should have been. Instead, he touched only skin, slightly swollen and a little sore, smoothing over with scar tissue. He cleared his throat experimentally, and found all the roughness gone.
"That's unusual," he muttered, and made his way to the bathroom mirror.
"You look like a swashbuckler," Faith said, hovering behind him.
Wesley's reflection raised an eyebrow back at him, with disheveled hair, a shadow on his chin, and a wicked-looking scar slashing across his neck. It appeared to be at least two weeks old, healing well, with no trace of a stitch in sight. Well, they were the dissolving kind, so that was perhaps not too horribly strange. Still.
"I'd better have a look at the prophecies," he sighed. "This definitely isn't normal."
Then his heartbeat stuttered for a second, and he stumbled, grasping at the edge of the sink. It felt strange, but there wasn't any pain as there should have been, and his reflection fluttered ominously until it was over, fading in and out. When it had finished, the scar looked even older, completely healed.
"Nor was that," he said, breathing hard, staring at the mirror. "That was rather... alarming."
"Maybe you better hurry and take that shower," Faith said.
There were clothes waiting for Wesley when he stepped out of the shower, left just inside the bathroom door. The shirt Faith had chosen for him was a close match to the one she was wearing, a light blue in color, and he smiled wryly as he buttoned it up. Faith might be on the side of Good now, but she certainly hadn't lost her attitude. This was certain to get a reaction from Angel and Cordelia.
She was ready for him when he stepped out of the bathroom, sitting on the arm of the couch with his keys clutched in one hand. "I got bored," she said, "and cleaned up my mess. Hope you don't mind. The cup was a total loss, but I saved most of your notes."
The coffee table did, indeed, look neater. "Thank you, Faith," he said, rather touched by her effort.
She glanced down at one of the piles nearest her, and frowned. "Wasn't much of it in English. I got curious and read some. What's all that stuff about Watcher bonding?"
"Something I was looking into for Rupert," he said, looking for his jacket. "From time to time, the Watchers' Council tabulates theories on how its Watchers are Chosen. I've been searching through some old related texts, looking for clues that might explain the problems he has had with Buffy since her return."
"Watchers are Chosen?" Faith jingled the keys in her hand, staring at him intently, and he sighed, reaching for a short explanation. Weren't they in a hurry?
"I believe they are," Wesley told her. "Generally, successful Watchers tend to come from a distinct type. It's as if the Slayer essence is looking for a certain group of traits, to help its host's chances of survival. If you pair such a person with a future Slayer, they generally perform well when she is Chosen; if this does not happen, as in Buffy's case, a nearby person of the right type seems to be Called at random. We were lucky that Merrick was in Los Angeles at that time."
"So what happens when the Watcher dies, like Merrick did?" Faith kicked at the arm of the couch, frowning at him.
Wesley didn't believe for a moment that she was really all that curious about Merrick, but it was plain that she found the conversation important. "It depends. There weren't any other Watchers in this part of California at that time; I'm not certain what would have happened if there were. As it was, Rupert was sent, Buffy met him, and you've seen the result. They bonded almost immediately."
"Yeah, but that doesn't explain what happened with me, after..."
Faith's voice seemed to fade as another attack hit Wesley, and his knees gave out as he clutched instinctively at his chest. It lasted a few seconds this time, and he was vaguely aware of Faith's arms around him while the world faded into a sea of white noise and he felt like a stranger in his own body. Then sensation returned, abruptly, sharper than before.
"I... think I'm all right now," Wesley said, disentangling himself from his Slayer. "Thank you for catching me."
"What are Slayers for?" she said, picking up his glasses where they'd fallen to the floor. "We can finish this convo later, I guess. We'd better get you to a hospital."
"The Hyperion," he told her, putting the glasses back on. Then he pulled them off again, blinking at the lenses. "This isn't a normal ailment, and I doubt it will kill me. As a matter of fact, it seems to be... making improvements."
"My eyesight is improving," he said, tossing the glasses onto the couch. "I still don't have perfect vision, but the prescription is no longer accurate. I hope you don't mind driving?"
Faith grinned at that. "Are you kidding? I was counting on it."
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.