Setting---The Hyperion Hotel, the next day
Faith scowled at the insides of the hotel, remembering that it was only
two days ago that she'd been told not to come back. Now here she was, not
only being escorted in by two large bodyguards, but woozy with medicine
she'd insisted she didn't need. Another day and she'd be completely
healed, the blood loss having already been replaced by her Slayer's
Really, she shouldn't be there and she knew she could have gotten away any
moment. It's not like Wesley or his friend could stop her. So why was she
willingly walking back into this place?
"Charles? Wesley?" An unfamiliar blonde head peaked out of Wesley's office
and Faith scowled. Who was she? Then the pretty young woman stepped fully
out of the room and Faith saw her round belly. Jesus, she looked like she
was carrying twins in there.
But whose twins, was the burning question in Faith's fragmented mind.
Her internal query was answered immediately as Gunn, the tall black guy,
left her side and rushed over to the pregnant woman, wrapping her up in a
burly hug before devouring her lips.
A silent sigh depressed Faith's lungs and she wondered why the relief.
What had she been thinking? It didn't matter, she convinced herself, as
she glanced at Wesley and saw him watching the two embracing, a smile on
his lips, heavily shadowed eyes content for a moment. Then he felt Faith's
eyes on him and he drew himself up, clearing his throat and looking away
"Anne....I'd like you to meet Faith." Wesley said,
upper lip stiff and breast poked out like he was someone important. Faith
fought the urge to clock him and lifted a hand to her bandaged neck. The
pregnant blonde, Anne, pulled away from Gunn and regarded her with a
"Hi. Welcome." Anne offered her, blue eyes kind.
"Umm...yeah." Faith fidgeted and glanced around
the lobby. Her eyes lighted on a green demon with one eye staring at her
from his lean against the railing of the upstairs landing. A smirk was on
his lips and blood was on his shirt. "Who's that?"
"Lorne?" Wesley asked, looking up where Faith's
gaze led. He gestured for the demon to come down and waited until he was
in front of them until he spoke again. "Faith, Lorne. Lorne, Faith."
Once again, Faith fidgeted, but not from unexpected hospitality, but from
the strange feeling that the demon was doing something to her she couldn't
quite explain. An odd sensation buzzed in her ear and something warm
seemed to seep across her eyes, eyes that she narrowed in his direction
before she pushed with everything in her.
Lorne visibly swayed on his feet and then shook his shaggy head at her. A
slow smile spread across his lime green face. "I like you. You don't take
anyone's bullshit. Good."
And that was all he said to her as he turned on his heel and trotted back
up the stairs, leaving Faith wondering what had just happened. Wesley
certainly didn't give her any hints as he crossed his arms over his chest
and watched her, enigmatic orbs roving her face.
"Umm...Charles, I think we'd better go....somewhere....." Anne said,
searching Wesley's face and seeing his "we have to talk" look directed
straight at the Slayer. Without a word, Charles followed her into the
office, leaving Faith and Wesley staring at each other.
Silence stretched, made a home for itself and then invited its friends
"So...." Faith finally said, meeting that unwavering blue gaze. "See you."
"You're going?" Wesley said immediately, moving a quick step toward her,
as if he wanted to block her exit.
"I've got some things to take care of." She said shortly, tossing her dark
brown locks out of her face. Wesley's eyes caught on the bandages and he
bit his lower lip like he wanted to say something. "What? You've got
"Do I? I wasn't aware that I could make such a face. "Disapproval Face" on
the other hand..." An eyebrow arched at her and she thought he looked like
a tiny bit younger for the slight smirk to his jaw. When had time beaten
the shit out of him?
"You disapprove of me leaving? After the other day
when you told me to get the fuck out?" Faith said, her own eyebrow
lifting in rebuttal.
"Things have changed...I..."
"What's changed, besides the fact that I owe you one? I'm still working
with the Hunter's and you should still stay out of my way. And I'm still
going to kill Angelus and Cordelia and I'm
still not someone you should piss off."
"But you're hurt, you have to rest."
"I have a place to rest; I don't need your hospitality. Besides, I'm fine.
I'm not some fragile flower that's gonna wilt
if you forget to water it."
"I am aware of this but..."
"But what, Wesley?" Her eyes were sharp on his
and he gulped.
"But I thought that..."
"That what, I would fail and come running back here asking you to be my
Watcher again? That'd I become part of your team and we'd take down
Angelus and Cordelia together?
Fat fucking chance, Wes." Faith snapped, anger
rising in her throat.
"That's not what I meant and you know it, Faith." Wesley retorted, mouth
grim, all humor gone.
"Just for the tally books, what did you mean?"
"I meant that....well...I..." He stammered and lost his ability to think,
lost in the void that seemed to suck him up whenever she was around. Years
had given him an edge, but damned if she couldn’t grab
ahold of his short and
curlies and shake with all her might.
"That's what I fucking thought. I'm out of here." Faith rolled her eyes
and walked past him. Without thinking, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her
in front of him. He stared at her, eyes searching hers a moment before
"If you ever need anything, you know where to find me. Besides, you
owe me one."
Faith stared him down and gently pulled her wrist from his grasp. A solemn
nod seemed foreign on her, but she did just that as she turned away, the
door slamming shut behind her.
Wesley watched her go, his heart beating against his ribcage like a drum
machine. What had he meant? Why did he want her to stay? A million and one
questions and every one too wrapped up in layers to unpeel.
With a sigh, he jammed his fists into his jeans pockets, a habit he
employed when his mind was weighed down heavily by thought. He did so now,
fingering the piece of paper in his pocket that had her prescription on
it. He'd taken it from the man at the pharmacy and stuffed it into his
pocket, for reasons unknown.
Now he pulled it out and looked at the address typed on it, a small smile
of comfort gracing his lips. At least he knew where to find her now, and
that was small comfort for a man who felt like his whole world had been
flipped upside down and shoved down his throat.
Suddenly, Wesley felt a presence at his back and he squared his shoulders.
"What did you read before she booted your ass out?"
"She's conflicted, hurting over the loss of someone she thought of as her
only friend, a little lost, but finding purpose." Lorne answered
immediately, sitting down on the steps and taking a deep drag off the
cigarette in his fist.
"What else?" Wesley asked, sitting down next to the anagogic demon and
staring at him with intense eyes.
Lorne stared at him, opening his mouth for a moment before clamping it
shut. "Nothing much else, really. I didn't
really have time to read her well."
"She's hurting." Wesley said, more a comment
than question. Lorne shook his head and took another drag off his
cigarette. "Damn them."
"You want to help her, don't you?"
"I'm not sure what I want to do. I know she's a big girl, but what
happened last night proves to me that Justine can't look past her own ass
to see to her protection. What she did was suicide and if I, uh, we hadn't
come along she'd have been dead. Or worse."
"So you want to what? Take her in?"
"Charity? No, I don't think that would work
with her. She feels she's got a mission now and I know how important those
are. When you've lost it, you cling to it with tooth and nail once you
find it again." Wesley's eyes clouded and he closed them, suddenly feeling
Lorne eyed him and noted the haggard appearance and white streaks in his
hair. "Yes, sometimes you'd do anything for a mission, including slowly
killing yourself for the sake of the greater good. And sometimes, it's not
even worth it."
Wesley's blue eyes suddenly glared at him. "This isn't about me. I do what
I have to do."
"I'm not judging you for going that that shaman, but have you really
thought about the consequences? You don't even know if Connor is still
alive, let alone if this will even open the Quor-toth.
You might be--"
"That doesn't matter, Krevlorneswath, I do
what I have to and no matter what, I'll make it right."
"I'm not sure you can, Wesley."
"I guess I'll find that out for myself. Until then,
why don't we focus on Faith, and not me?"
"Hard to do." Off his look, Lorne went on. "There's
big things in the future for both of you."
"I thought you didn't read her well?" Wesley's eyes narrowed and he glared
"Well, maybe a little more than I thought...she's, uh, conflicted."
"You said that."
"Not to mention she's got a huge chip on her shoulder and a fire-breathing
bitch from Hell breathing down her neck, just waiting for her to screw up.
Makes for some volatile thoughts." Lorne said,
patting Wesley's knee and blowing out a lungful of blue-gray smoke.
Wesley wrinkled his nose at the smell and then spoke in a low growl, every
nerve in his body twanging as his mind flashed a bruised face and a knife
blade at him.
"I really hate that bitch." He spat and cracked his knuckles. Lorne nodded
and took another deep drag.
Setting---Angelus and Cordelia's
Mansion.....or what's left of it the next day
"I really hate that bitch." Cordelia muttered,
kicking at a charred piece of wood, glass crunching under her expensive
Before her the mansion she'd come to adore over the past two years closely
resembled the Wreck of the Hesperus. Scattered about among the ashes was a
fallen body or two, evidence of the demon henchmen that hadn't burned or
gone 'poof' under the blades of the Hunters.
An acrid puff of smoke drifted lazily in Angelus's
direction as he sank down on the remains of their once expensive couch.
Now it was a charred parody of luxury and it creaked under his weight.
Overhead the sun was up, but the second floor was still teetering
precariously, groaning as the Santa Anna winds cupped it, threatening to
topple it over at a moments notice. Angelus looked around at the shadowed
recesses of their once posh mansion.
The firefighters had long since been dispatched, lying in pools of their
own blood on the lawn. Angelus really hated dealing with the human public.
"Justine did a good job though, I'll give her that."
Cordelia shot him a dark look and sunk down next to him, her skin
raw and blistered from Wesley's magickal
attack. Angelus winced as his rapidly healing shoulder and back wounds
"So what now?"
"Now, you relax and after dark we'll find something pretty and nubile to
kill. Then we'll take her house and everything will be right as rain."
Angelus traced the curve of her neck with the softness of his lips.
"Right as rain.....how can rain be right......?"
Cordelia's eyes went dark again and her voice trailed off to places
Angelus couldn't quite grasp. It was like that with her sometimes. Cold
and dangerous one moment and distant and longing the next. She had a
strange duality about her that had him quite mystified, but then again,
she'd always been that way, even before her transformation.
"What's that baby?" He asked, unsure of what to say or do in times like
these. Emotions weren't something he handled well and the fact that she
still had them despite her apparent lack of a soul unnerved him. The only
thing he'd ever admitted to himself was the fact that without her, the sky
was always bright and the night was empty, though for the life of him he
couldn't figure out why. He loved her, though
he was loathe to admit it.
snapped, mask fitting down neatly over her face in a comforting way. He
could handle this incarnation; he knew her, hell they were practically a
two-headed beast in this mode. "And after we set up housekeeping?"
"We....wait a minute!" Angelus jumped up from the burned couch and ran
over to the charred husk of the desk. He wrenched the drawers out and
threw burned, crackled papers everywhere. "Where is it?"
"What?" Cordelia asked, her heart thumping her
throat as she watched him.
"The papers! The ones we stole from Wolfram &
Hart!" He threw another stack of papers down into the ash.
"Fuck...fuck...if Justine found them..."
Cordelia bit her lip, a million and one
scenarios flooding her mind.
"Not if." Cordy looked up to see Angelus
holding the folder they'd stashed the prophecy in. Empty.
"Oh fuck. They know."
"Which means we're going to have to pay them a little
visit." Angelus's smile turned jagged
and Cordelia let herself smile along with him.
It was so fun being evil.
Setting--A Warehouse on Crenshaw, same day
"You're alive." It wasn't a question, more like a surprised statement.
Faith scowled and crossed her arms over her chest, eyes burning as she
fought the urge to hit the red-haired war leader before her. "Them?"
"Unchanged, although they now know that I'm after
them." Faith admitted honestly, waiting for the ax to fall and
Justine's anger to charge straight at her.
"Oh really? Why am I not shocked?" Justine
merely commented, not nearly biting enough for what passed as normal
"That's it? No "you're useless, why did I sign you on" rant?" Faith asked,
eyebrows knitting together.
"Why would I say that? You tried a full on frontal assault, but that
didn't work. We're up for different tactics now. Guerilla type shit."
Justine said, taking a deep drink from a flask
she drew from her pocket.
As she watched her, Faith had the nagging feeling that this was all too
pat, all too forgiving and she narrowed her eyes.
"What? I'm being honest with you here! Besides, even a Slayer needs help
sometimes." Justine said, a smile spreading over her features as she
walked away from Faith. "I'll come up with some plans with
Tor and we'll discuss them at the meeting
tomorrow night. Until then, relax and heal. We're going to need you at
full strength as soon as possible."
And with that, she disappeared out into the main floor of the warehouse,
leaving Faith alone, staring after her, mouth open slightly and wishing
for all the world that she knew what had just
Justine spat into the inch-thick dust across the floor of the warehouse, a
demonic smile spreading slowly across her features.
Tor saw her from his perch on a battered armchair, his brown eyes
finding hers. A few years of fighting together had created a body language
between the two of them and all she had to do was nod.
He knew now. They didn't need the Slayer. Not from what they'd found in
Faith was expendable.