Quality Time
by Padre

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, or, as he went by these days, Wes Pryce, was a tired man. Tired of work, tired of research...and tired of fighting demons, both real and imagined. Since AI took over the LA offices of W&H, it's been nothing but one hassle after another. As he fumbled for the keys to his apartment, many loose thoughts ran free in his mind; most of them negative.

A cynical man, the former Watcher mused, might look at all these 'sudden' roadblocks to progress and think that there something was amiss at our place of work. Perhaps it is that all these incidents were planned; planned to slow us down or planned to keep us occupied until the hangman's noose was firmly about our necks. Yes, that's what a cynical man would think.

Now having successfully opened the door to his darkened apartment, Wes stood in the entrance and decided that a cynical man would also decide to have a drink or two. Maybe even three.

Well, Wes chuckled, as Faith used to say, sounds like a plan. Locking the apartment door behind him, Wes just let his keys and jacket fall where they may and headed to the kitchen. Somewhere, in there, was a bottle of single malt just waiting to be plundered. Upon finding the precious container, Wes as a bit hesitant to open the fine Scotch. He'd been saving it for a special occasion...one that he and Lilah could share.

But, that wasn't going to happen now, was it?

With his cynicism now seasoned with a hint of bitterness, Wes ripped open the bottle, obtained a heavy-bottomed glass from the cupboard and poured himself a double. As the dark amber liquor filled the glass, the heavy smoky aroma that marked the fine product began to fill his nose. Yes, Wes thought, I think it's time to get good and fucking drunk.

As he took in the aged whiskey, and fought the urge to cough, Wes, his foul thoughts now on full power, began to think of Faith.

Ever since his former charge (and former tormentor) had left LA for Sunnydale, Wes often wondered how she made out. Nary a word was heard from the Hellmouth prior to the battle with The First (and, Wes added, honestly, what with all of us being drawn up into Jasmine's spell, I probably wouldn't have listened, either), and there was complete silence after the creation of Lake Sunnydale. Apparently, the Pacific Ocean was not able to resist a new found area in which to rest its watery ways.

To be sure, there was a list of 'missing, presumed dead'. And, on one of the bulletins, was the picture and description of a young woman who was wanted for jailbreak and other assorted felonies.

In some respects, Wes was a little sad the Faith might have drowned in the disaster...but not too sad. Just as when she was able to capture Angelus, it was upsetting that she had to take so much Orpheus to render the villainous vampire unconscious...but not too upsetting.

On one level, Wes was all happy that Faith was 'redeemed' and on a better path. But, on a deeper and darker level, part of the Mr. Pryce's ego demanded that the little bitch's blood be spilled all over the place. Hell, he could remember a time when he wanted to dance in it.

These and many other thoughts were filling his mind when Wes went into his living room and collapsed onto his couch. When he switched on the closest table lamp, it was then that he was given the shock of his life.

There, kneeling just a few feet away from him, was Faith. Dressed only in a black tank-top and jeans, the Dark Slayer's wrists were handcuffed together behind her back. Running from these cuffs was a short, but very thick, chain that was padlocked to the manacles that held her bare feet fast. Faith's mouth, which seemed to be filled with some sort of gag, was covered with many layers of grayish duct tape. The net effect being that her lips were sealed closed. Movement, escape, speech, crying out, and simple breathing, as evidenced by Faith's flaring nostrils, was now difficult, if not impossible.

She was helpless and at Wesley's mercy. This fact was not lost on him.

Next to the brunette was a coffee table. On it lay a small towel which seemed to be covering several items. On top of the towel was a letter that had "READ ME" scribbled across the top.

Moving slowly, and not breaking eye contact with the pair of dark brown eyes that stared right at him, Wes reached for the letter and began to read:

"Dear Wes,

As you can see, despite the attempts of The First, I'm still alive. But everyone who's anyone probably thinks I'm dead. I guess this means that Johnny Law is no longer interested in little ol' me. And, that's a good thing. You could say that I've been given a new life.

But I'm still attached to parts of the old one...especially you. I was getting ready to take off, but I had to come do this...to give you a chance to balance out the scales between us.

Out of my mind or not, what I did to you was wrong. I'm sorry and I want to make things right.

When Angel took me in from the Dark, I remember you saying that instead of getting some pastries, I should be bound and gagged. Well...here I am. Pretty neat trick, huh? Look underneath the towel. After that...well, you're a pretty smart guy. You'll figure out what you want to do.

But whatever you choose to do, you now know that I can't stop you. I owe you that...


Wes let the letter drop to the floor. For the next few minutes, he did nothing other than stare deep into the eyes of the helpless woman kneeling in front of him; his face passive and unreadable. Then, he reached for the napkin on the coffee table. When he pulled it aside, he revealed a metal ring that held several keys, what looked like to be two chocolate covered/chocolate filled doughnuts...and a straight-razor.

A sinister look filled Wesley's face as he glanced back at the Slayer. "So, Faith, for once I get to chose. Don't I?"

Faith, knowing that she was not able to speak, only nodded.

Wes first picked up the keys. "I could give you your freedom, or turn you over to the police." He paused and then added, "I could turn you over to the Watcher's Council, but they don't exist anymore. Pity." He then moved onto the doughnuts. "Hmm. Chocolate. A good choice; one of my favorites. And here I was thinking that you didn't care a thing about me." His voice was cold, as if ice had entered into his soul. Finally, Wes picked up the straight razor and opened it to its full length, its polished blade shining in the glow of the table lamp.

Faith, seeing the empty look in Wesley's eyes, could only softly whimper behind her gag; she had a good idea at what was coming next. She tried to tug at her cuffs, but she knew any struggle was going to be useless. Faith now realized that, most likely, she had just signed her own death warrant.

Wesley, now feeling slightly disconnected with all that was around him, stood over his former Slayer, the straight-razor still in his hand. He felt its weight and marveled at its simple design: it could take life so easily, could it not? As he pressed the cold steel against Faith's throat, the former Watcher could hear the muffled cries coming from the gagged Slayer. As he looked down into her wide eyes and taking note that they were wet, Wes, part of him now fully ready to slice Faith wide open, stopped when he saw her do something he never ever expected:

Faith, with tears streaming down her face, closed her eyes, lifted her chin...and waited.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, former Watcher to the Council, former head of AI and former lover of one Lilah Morgan, was moved. Not by Faith's tears that fell at the thought of her impending death, no, Wes was moved by her Gift. Faith had given Wesley the power of Life or Death over her, and she had given it freely.

Somewhere in Wesley's soul, the scales were now balanced. Still, it is best to mark the occasion, was it not? Flashing what could be called a cruel smile, Wesley gave his right hand a well trained flick...and in the process, gave Faith a small nick on the side of her neck. It wasn't big, but it would leave a scar, right above the two puncture wounds left by Angelus. A very tiny rivulet of blood began to weep down the side of the Slayer's neck; down the side of her neck on onto her chest, eventually running in between her breasts. With that, Wesley pulled the now blood covered blade away from Faith's neck and said, "Open your eyes."

Faith obeyed, and, swallowing hard, gazed up into her former Watcher's eyes. She saw her blood on the razor and understood. She was also a little shocked when she saw Wesley lick the blade clean...but, heh-heh, that was pretty wicked.

Once he had finished cleaning the blade, Wesley knelt down next to Faith and began to peel off all the thick tape that covered lower half of her face. When that was done, Wes then carefully eased from her mouth the large rubber ball that had kept Faith so effectively gagged.

Faith, now able to speak, lifted up her mascara streaked face and whispered, "Thank you."

Wesley allowed a slight smirk and then got up and went into the kitchen. Shortly, he came back with a dampened towel and a glass of ice water. With the towel, he began to clean up Faith's face, along with all small trail of blood that had now fully dried. When the task was done, he then offered Faith some ice water, holding the glass steady while she sipped.

When she taken in a few sips, Faith leaned back and said, "Hey, Wes, are you going to unchain me or what? I'm wicked cramping here."

"Ohhh, not yet, Faith. Not yet." Wesley now took the razor and began slicing up the doughnuts. After making several small pieces, he picked up one and gently fed it to his former Slayer. He than sat down and took one for himself.

For the next several moments, the Dark Slayer and her Watcher, shared a special moment. It was probably the closest the two of them had even been.

As she finished her piece of doughnut, Faith nodded to the glass of ice water that sat on the table. Wesley took it, and, as before, helped the Slayer drink her fill. After that, he picked up the keys and began to unchain the young woman.

"Faith, how long have you been here?"

"Oh, shit, Wes, I don't know. I know it was still daylight out when I...ahem...let myself in."

Wes paused. "So, you've been here for quite a while, haven't you?"

A look of discomfort crossed Faith's face. "Yeah. Uh, I'm aching pretty bad, you know?"

"You'd be surprised." Wes said rather dryly.

With that, Faith rolled her eyes and let out a laugh.

A heartbeat later, Wesley joined her.


He offered her the use of his bath, provided that, this time, she didn't demolish it. Faith gladly accepted and took a long hot soak. When she was done, Faith came to find out that her clothes were in the wash. So she borrowed a gi from Wesley and stretched out on the couch. Wes went to fetch a spare pillow and blanket. Upon his return, he was not surprised to find Faith already fast asleep. As he covered her up and placed the pillow under her head, the former Watcher noted that his former Slayer didn't stir.

Such is the building of Trust.

As the sun was rising, Faith awoke to the smell of fresh coffee and scones. Cherry scones with real butter, thick-sliced bacon and eggs sunny-side up. Who knew Wes could cook?


After the two of them had their fill, Wes set his coffee mug down and asked Faith, "So, what will you do now?"

Faith was silent for a long time. Then, looking a little sad, replied, "Wes, I really don't know. I mean...oh God, this is going to sound stupid...but I met this guy."

Looking as nonchalant as was possible, Wes only said, "Really?"


"Your tone suggests that you are not seeing him now."

"Yeah, something like that."

"I know I'm prying, but what transpired between the two of you?"

After thinking for a second, Faith replied, "Well, I guess that we kinda hooked up while fighting The First. And, you know, it all looked good, too. But, I'm thinking that after everything got settled out, he got a really good look at me and, well, split."

Wesley remained silent, allowing Faith to continue at her own pace.

"I mean...who wants to get hooked up with a murderer? A Con on the run?" Faith's voice was very small.

Wesley, sounding rather thoughtful, said, "That's rather unfortunate. I think that if he got to know you, he'd be quite impressed with your sense of honor. I know that I am."

Faith let out a small chuckle and said, "Thank-you, Wes. I appreciate it...I really do."

Wesley simply nodded. After a moment, he again asked, "So, Faith, what are you going to do?"

Flashing a sly grin, the brunette replied, "Well, I want to go underground, which ain't too hard in this city, but I got this wicked idea. I mean, since you guys have moved uptown and all, I'm guessing that the Hyperion is sitting all empty and lonely. I'm thinking it would be a good place to, you know, train all these new Slayers. I know that some of them have to be really shook up at what's happened to them. They could use a little guidance."

"It does sounds like a good idea. Would Buffy be there as well?"

"Probably not. The moment we hit LA, she went off on some rant about 'cookie dough' and disappeared into the nearest mall. Haven't seen her since. I think she's retired. Dawn's taking it kinda hard." After a moment, Faith added, "'Sides, I think I'd be a better at teaching that she would; I can be a real bitch if needed...and that's what these kids are gonna need if they're going to survive."

"A few words from an old pro?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of the occasional foot to the face. It's a great motivator."

"Not that it worked very well for you."

"What can I say? I'm stubborn."

"That's one word you could use."

Wesley suddenly felt a scone hit him squarely in the face. It was good to see Faith was still 'Faith'. And, oddly enough, he agreed with her: she'd be a very good teacher.


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