This Side Of The Fence
by Jennifer-Oksana

Sleep had become impossible. Whenever Wes closed his eyes, he fell not into sleep but into dreams, vivid, blood-drenched Grand Guginol masterpieces that made his breathing shallow and any rest earned superficial and dangerous. The bed stank of Lilah anyway, or at least he imagined it did, and his nose was happy enough to confirm that hallucination. He felt like she was everywhere, haunting his every move with a glib comment and a smirk.

The worst part was that she'd mellowed considerably since their first nightmarish night in bed. The sadomasochistic little sparkle in her eyes had been replaced by a troubling fascination with him and a tendency to try to ask questions he wouldn't answer, didn't want to answer. She brought chocolate, wine, eight-course meals from places that didn't deliver.

"Who are you, Grace Kelly in Rear Window?" he'd asked irritably when he'd seen the food.

"Why, did you see a murder out in the--" and she'd looked out the window, into the park, where Wesley had almost died. "Sorry."

"It's quite all right," he replied. "I would have been disappointed if you hadn't made the joke."

"I wasn't thinking, okay?" she said, almost apologetically and that's when he knew, God in his heaven, that the dragon lady of Wolfram and Hart, the queen of all vicious bitches, Lilah Morgan herself, was in love.

With him. As if the world weren't complicated and horrible enough.

He ignored it, though his dreams refused to. His dreams were paragons of propriety, gladly producing images of a self-martyring Lilah, tears in her eyes, pleading with a nameless demon boss to take her instead of him. Of course, the real Lilah, even a Lilah in love, cared more about her neck than anything else, love or not, but Wesley's subconscious was a great believer in guilt and Lilah's mutilated body washes onto the shore of his self-loathing, out of the ocean of horror. These were both literal and metaphoric places in his head and Wesley wasn't sure whether to be amused or disgusted by the pretensions of his subconscious.

So Wes had stopped sleeping, well aware of the possible consequences. During his last insomniac period, he had nearly gotten himself killed and ruined his life along with severely damaging several others. Wesley hadn't decided if Angel counted in the damaging now that Connor had returned, hale and whole. He ought to, he knew, but there was something that rankled about Angel's murder attempt on his person. As if he'd done it on a whim! As if he'd done it for any other reason but to help Angel!

It was too much to think about and Wesley wished that he could just go to sleep, fade into oblivion for a week or two and wake up when he could figure out what he had meant to do with his life and how it had ended up going so terribly wrong.

He skulked over to the living room, laying out on the couch and turning on the television. There was nothing on at two in the morning. Absolutely nothing. Infomercials and reruns of Friends and the second showing of Maury Povich. There wasn't even a 24-hour-news-channel on his broadcast dial, and it was almost enough to make Wesley wish that Lilah were around. At least he would have something to do instead of contemplate the sleep that wouldn't come.

"God damn world," Wesley finally said, the bitterness he'd been treasuring curdling into something angrier and more pathetic. "God damn all of them. May every last one of my so-called friends--"

Someone knocked on the door. Wesley shut up and stood up. He was getting pretty good, he thought as he walked to the door. Think of Lilah and she appears as if called. He hoped she wasn't in the mood to talk. He couldn't stand to talk to her at two in the morning, especially when she was drunk or strung out--Lilah wasn't a drug user, but she'd found a couple of supernatural remedies that she preferred to any earthly mood-altering substance.

"Thank God you're here," he murmured as he opened the door. "I was going mad, sitting in my flat by my--Faith."

Sparkling brown eyes quite different from Lilah's met his with no hint of a smile. Faith. In the flesh, now with longer hair, and an expression that sent a chill down Wesley's spine.

"Where the fuck is Angel?" she asked, shoving him against a wall. "I went to the hotel and he's not there. Cordy's gone, too. All that they've got at the hotel are a couple of kids and a little psycho who swears he's Angel's son. They told me where I could find you. So where's Angel, Wes?"

"I have no earthly idea," Wes said, trying to stifle a yawn. "I was sacked several weeks ago for trying to save the little psycho's life and failing miserably. Angel's gone?"

For that smart-assed remark he was rewarding with a squeeze to the throat. "Don't fuck with me, Wes. I'm not in the mood. That crazy lawyer bitch told me that they were letting me go early for good behavior and that the Watchers helped arrange it. The Watchers wouldn't piss on me if I was on fire."

"No, they wouldn't," Wesley said, gasping for breath and clawing at Faith's hand. "Would you please let go of my throat? Someone slit it recently and it hurts."

Faith abruptly let go. "The fuck happened to you, anyway?" she asked. "You look like shit, Wes."

"I know," Wesley replied. "Would you like to sit down? I can explain a great deal if you promise to stop trying to kill me. I'm rather tired of attempts on my life."

Faith nodded, her eyes wary but sympathetic. She sat. Wesley sat in a chair across from her, rubbing his neck gingerly. God, but the girl had a grip on her! Prison and the long, slow road to redemption hadn't diminished her Slayer abilities in any way, shape, or form.

"So Angel fired you? Why? You're the book guy," Faith said. "And you're more stable than Cordy or the kiddies at your hotel. They need you, British guy."

"I made a mistake," Wesley said, not sure how Faith would react. "It's a very long story. Angel had a son, you see. He and Darla--"

"Two vamps had a baby?" Faith said. "You're shittin' me."

"Sadly, no," Wes replied. "Darla staked herself to save the baby--Connor--in late November."

"But Connor's that psycho kid in the hotel. He's like sixteen," Faith protested. "What the fuck, did you guys stick him in the magic grow-up machine?"

"Almost," Wes said bitterly. "I was reading prophecy, trying to figure out what was going on. Like you said, two vampires had a baby. I came across a particularly troubling prophecy. It said--it said that Angel would kill Connor."

"Fuck," Faith muttered. "I know how well Angel reacted to that."

"I didn't tell him," Wes said. "I--I hadn't been sleeping. I'd had--a disappointment--I--oh, bloody hell. I was in love with Fred."

"The Southern girl? The skinny one?" Faith said incredulously.


"Sucks to be you, man," Faith replied. "She's way into her man."

"Precisely," Wesley replied. "I didn't handle it well. I stopped sleeping and read prophecy instead of thinking about it. And then I found that prophecy and I really stopped sleeping. I consulted every major and minor mojo in Los Angeles to find a way around that prophecy. I was told in no uncertain terms that I couldn't stop it. The father would devour the son."

Faith nodded. "What did you do, Wes?"

"I--Angel had someone after him. Holtz. A man who'd allowed himself to be brought forward two centuries to pursue Angel and Darla. I spoke to him. I tried to stop any more bloodshed. And then there was an earthquake and Wolfram and Hart had mixed Connor's blood into Angel's pig's blood supply and Angel started--and I panicked."

"You didn't give the baby to Holtz, did you? Because I'll have to kill you if you did that," Faith said quickly.

"No, I didn't give the baby to Holtz," Wesley said, noticing that Faith had been inching closer and closer to him during the whole conversation and resolving not to let his flesh creep. "I resolved to take Connor and run. I couldn't let him die and let that blood be on Angel's hands. And I couldn't tell Angel. You know how he is at his best--and he was far from his best."

Faith nodded. "What happened, Wes?"

"Holtz's second in command--Justine--deceived me," Wes said. "I saw her in the park across from me, bruised and bleeding, when I was leaving. I went to her aid--"

"She fucking cut your throat and took the baby, didn't she?" Faith asked, exploding out of her seat. "Jesus, Wes, why are you such a sap? You're a nice guy and all, but shit like that's just na•ve."

"I realized that while I was bleeding to death and a transient stole my wallet and rolled me into the bushes," Wes replied. "Anyway, the upshot is Connor spent sixteen years in a hell dimension before returning as the psycho you met, Angel will never forgive me, and the only person I know speaking to me is the evil lawyer bitch, who wants me to work at Wolfram and Hart."

"And who you thought was at the door just now," Faith finished. "You're fucking her, huh?"

"It passes time, especially since I stopped sleeping," Wes replied. "Was there anything else you wanted to know, Faith? I'm afraid I won't be much help to you. The Watchers and my former friends would rather I not contacted them. I've decided to kill myself with cheap booze, a dangerous woman, and insomnia. And you don't deserve to be involved in this petty drama."

Faith laughed, leaned forward, and put her hands on Wesley's shoulders. "Welcome to my world, Wes baby," she said. "It's not so much fun being on this side of the fence, huh?"

"No, it's not," Wesley replied. "I owe you an apology, Faith--"

"You owe me shit, Wes," Faith said with kindness and no hint of pity. "All debts were paid when I decided to show you the five torture groups. But you know, let me give you a tip, one fallen angel to another."

Wes looked up at her, watching the way emotions played in her eyes liquidly. "Yes?"

"Giving up isn't an option," she said. "You might think you're being a big man, or noble, or realistic by committing suicide, but that's bullshit. Doing yourself in this way is the pussy way out and you fuckin' know it. Look at you. You've got your wine and your bitch and your slow decline like you're some sort of goddamn rock star. Snap the fuck out of it, Wes."

"Into what? Being spat on?" Wesley replied angrily. "To hell with that. I'm tired of being the doormat. I'm tired of being the na•ve British guy. So I give up. You're all right. I'm useless and I intend to stay useless for the rest of my short and miserable life."

Faith, being Faith and not some sort of motivational speaker, reacted to that in a Faithly manner. She backhanded Wes sharply and watched his head snap back and then back to zero with steeled eyes.

"Fuck. That," she growled, suddenly sitting in his lap, forcing him to look at her. "You are not a fucking doormat. I fucking beat the hell out of you and you came back from it. You got blown up with Angel's old office and you came back. You got your fucking throat cut and you survived. Angel--Angel tried to kill you and you know what? You're fucking here, Wes. We're both here. I survived and so did you."

Wesley stared at her, his breath coming in rapid jags. "Faith," he gasped.

"You don't get to give up," Faith hissed, grabbing his chin with one of her hands. "You get to survive, Wes. Just like me. We get to live with the past. We get to regret. Sometimes we get to fuck up so bad we're back to square one. We get to hate what we've done, but you don't get to die."

She forced his head up with one hand on his chin and Wesley could hear his heart beat, slamming against his chest like an oversized butterfly trying to escape. Faith's body was so much smaller and younger than his, but he was the one overpowered, he was the one staring into her eyes like a frightened child.

He was not expecting her to crush her lips against his in a brutal and sweet kiss, letting her hand fall to his shoulder in an almost-caress as he reacted to the sensation of Faith kissing him. He felt like he was in slow-motion as she pulled his lower lip into her mouth and he reached up to bury his hand in her long, dark hair.

What were they doing? This was madness. She was far too young, and unstable, and--he pulled away, shaking his head.

"We can't," he gasped.

"Why not?" Faith asked. "You do it with that posh corporate hooker. You too good for me?"

"Of course not. It's just--it's wrong," he said, trying to clear his head and make sense. "I'm older than you are. I'm--"

"No, you're not," Faith said, holding him in the chair with her thighs. "Don't you get it, Wes? I don't have anyone else, and neither do you. Angel's gone. Cordelia's gone. I sure as hell ain't gettin' near Sunnydale and I doubt you are either. The Watchers would rather see us both dead. There's no one else for me to turn to and if I don't have someone, I'm gonna go crazy."

She put her hand on his shoulder, eyes suddenly bright with what might have been tears or maybe just emotion. Then Faith leaned forward, her breath searing against Wesley's scar and earlobe.

"You need me, Wes," she whispered, hot and ticklish against his exhausted, overstimulated body. "You need me the way I need you."

Her lips touched the scar briefly, for a fraction of a second, and Wesley cringed, thinking of Justine, thinking of Lilah, and the way he was reacting to Faith atop him.

"I don't want to hurt you," he protested.

"You're not going to hurt me," she replied, resting her cheek against his. "I don't want to be alone right now and neither do you. And I kiss better than Lilah. Trust me."

Wesley tilted his head. "Oh?" he asked. "And how do you know that?"

Faith laughed. "She kissed me. Once. Trying to pick me up for her law firm. And I'm a hell of a lot better--" Faith's lips were against Wesley's jaw, the tip of her tongue tasting the parts she liked best--"Than Lilah--" now they found the corner of his mouth while his right arm slid under her shirt. "Fucking--" she was rocking against his hips with her own as her mouth strayed ever closer to his-- "Morgan."

Wes pulled her mouth against his now, abandoning himself to Faith's desperate but somehow hopeful logic as he fumbled with the hooks on her bra. If they had each other, they would be all right. And tonight? Tonight was archetypal human behavior. Not exploitation. Not taking advantage. It was need, the basic need for connection.

And as Faith's searching hands found the waistband of his pants and started to tug, another thought crashed into his sleep-deprived, feverish brain: it was finding salvation in the last place he'd have ever thought to look.

Lilah came by the next day, carrying a bag of English candies, a dossier about Faith, and a couple of knives for fun and safety. When she tried the door, she found it open.

"Wes?" she asked. "You here?"

A quick inspection of the apartment revealed there was no one around. However, Lilah was a smart woman for all of her flaws, and she quickly found the note waiting for her on the kitchen table. She scanned it quickly and sat down in shock, letting the paper get away from her and flutter to the floor.

Dear Lilah, it read in even script, I've decided to go my own way and get out of this town for good. I'm sorry if that ruins any of your plans, but you knew I wasn't going to join Wolfram and Hart anyway. Just a tip: get out of there soon. No matter what you do, it'll never be enough. Good luck in any case.

Wesley. PS, Faith says hello. I wouldn't suggest trying to follow us, though. It won't do you any good.

Lilah Morgan buried her head in her hands, not exactly sure of what to do next. Somewhere on the 10, unaware of anything except each other, Faith and Wesley drove away, heading for the desert, heading for the ocean, looking for the next place to stop.

They didn't quite know where they were going. But they would think of something.


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