The apartment, though, I retained just in case there was need of a safehouse or simply a crash pad should we require it someday.
'We'. I was thinking in 'we' now, of myself and my Slayer as a unit. Interesting.
When the taxi arrived at the Hyperion, the others were waiting. I greeted them with a solemn face that I tried to make cheerful, and a bottle of champagne. We all sat in the lobby, Angel leaning against one of the pillars, arms crossed and frowning. He knew the situation, and though not happy, would not interfere.
I explained to them all my decision, making very sure to not blame them at all for the feelings of not belonging that had helped set me on a different road. I wasn't the same person anymore, and now I needed to find my own way. I poured them each a bit of the champagne, and raised a glass to my friends.
"I want you all to know that you'll never really be that far away."
It was a pleasant sentiment, and in essence, a true one. I knew full well that these people had shaped me and my life irrevocably, and I was truly glad to have known them all.
In a gesture that Cordy would have called 'melodramatic', would she have been able to join us, I spoke to each of my friends in turn. Lorne I wanted to understand me completely and to help the others understand as well, so I sang for him. A few bars of "Who Wants to Live Forever" later, he nodded, understanding and sadness in his eyes, hugged me, warned me to stay clear of the Tropicana while I was in Las Vegas and wished me luck following my destiny.
Gunn, with whom I was just beginning to patch things, also seemed to understand and take the news in stride. He told me to take care of myself and my Slayer and to not be a stranger to Los Angeles. They were taking over a law firm, he said, there had to be a way they could 'fix' Faith's difficulties, at least temporarily. We slapped hands in a complicated handshake that I'd almost thought I'd forgotten, then embraced as brothers ought.
Fred, though, was not so collected about the idea, inquiring at least a half dozen times if I was sure I was making the right decision. She had fought so hard to bring back the people she cared for during the Jasmine fiasco that letting one of us go was terribly hard on her. I swore to her that I would be careful, and that I would be back again. She leaned forward and kissed me, sweet, tender and very solidly a 'goodbye'.
Angel and I stepped into his office, which was nearly empty of books, papers, maps, even the weapons on the wall, which I guessed were soon to be hanging in his new office.
"So, Wes, is it destiny? Is it choice? Or is it Faith?"
I smiled at my friend's ability to get to the point. "All of the above, in a way," was my answer.
Angel nodded, apparently satisfied enough that I was not leaving on a whim, under a delusion, or solely to chase Faith's charms from one end of the country to another.
"Give me your company credit card." I sighed and handed the slip of plastic over, wondering how I'd break the news to Faith that we were suddenly broke. Angel handed me back a plain, nondescript charge card from a nearly anonymous bank. "This draws on a personal account, untraceable," he explained. "I'll keep it full, you'll never have to worry. I know you'll be out there doing good. Both of you."
And with that, he rose and walked out of the office. A few moments later when I re-entered the lobby, they were all gone. Back at my apartment, I cleaned out the refrigerator, and tidied up, packing what I would absolutely need into one suitcase. With a final look, I shut off the lights, locked the door and took a cab back to the airport.
When I arrived back at the Bellagio, Faith had left a note on the desk that she'd gone back to the nightclub to have a few drinks. When I got ushered into the VIP lounge, Faith was sitting on the couch, almost glowing from her dance-floor exertions and sipping a drink. I glanced at my watch.
"Eight forty-seven. I told you."
((Open to Faith.))