So much of her time and energy had gone into the planning of this that she hadn’t taken time to consider the reality of actually doing it. She was scared and nervous and she felt a little sick, but there was really no other option; she was the only one left. The only one left who could change what had happened. She stood staring into the portal that would take her to the beginning of a new future, a future where everyone she cared about hadn’t died.
There was no coming back; if things went as she had planned this place, this future, would no longer exist. She might not even exist in that new future, or at least not the person she was now; the possibilities always screwed with her mind. This trip wasn’t about her though. She didn’t really care whether or not she survived; she had always known she’d go down fighting. She’d just never been sure which side she’d be on. No, this trip was for them.
She took a deep breath, trying to build up the bravado she’d always worn like a mantle. She thought of them, of seeing all of them alive again and smiled slightly. She turned to survey her surroundings one last time and then Faith spun around and took a running leap through the portal and into the past.
Chapter One: Awakening
She felt like she was coming out of a deep sleep. Her eyelids slowly fluttered open and she found herself staring at a beautiful clear blue sky. Although the sun was bright and warm a cool breeze blew over her coaxing her flesh into a shiver, raising goose bumps all over her body. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath pulling in the scent of freshly cut grass, sharp and sweet. There was a hint of lilac and the smell of a charcoal grill. She smiled; someone was having a cookout.
She opened her eyes to the sky again and her smile turned into a frown of confusion. Why was she lying on her back? She quickly pulled herself upright. She was in a small park which, luckily, was empty of any other people. Everything was so quiet. Too quiet, she thought nervously. She cleared her throat and made a noise to test her theory and as she suspected she heard only silence.
She felt a panicky sensation clawing at her gut. Why couldn’t she hear? She stood up, turning slowly to take in her surroundings. Her panic was spreading, threatening to take over, causing her heart to pound and sweat to trickle down her back. A wave of dizziness passed over her and she dropped to her hands and knees feeling nauseous; suddenly the sound rushed back and for a moment it was deafening. Soon it evened out and she could hear again; children laughing and playing in the distance, leaves rustling in the trees, birds chirping, a plane overhead. She shook her head, confused.
She figured the temporary deafness and the nap in the grass were the result of her trip through the portal, but it had been unexpected to say the least. She noticed a dog several feet away staring at her and bared her teeth with a growl. It whimpered and ran off bringing a smile to her lips. She got to her feet again; she needed to find out if she was in the right time and place and get on with her plan. She took off down the street and headed into town.
Everything looked so different. So much of this town had been destroyed in her time; it seemed so strange to see the streets and stores filled with people, everything teeming with life. It would all come to an abrupt end if she wasn’t able to fix the mistakes she had made. All these people gone in an instant; it made her head hurt to think about all the things she’d done wrong in her position as Slayer. She noticed a small convenience store on the right and walked inside, scanning the interior for a newspaper or magazine rack.
She spotted one in the corner and rushed over to grab a paper. 1998. The year she came to Sunnydale; she glanced back at the date. Wow, the day she came to Sunnydale; that portal had been real damn accurate, but that meant she better stay out of sight. She wouldn’t want to run into herself; she didn’t know for sure, but she figured there was no way that could be good. She put the paper back on the shelf and thought back to how it had all started.
She had come to Sunnydale with a chip on her shoulder, expecting a bit of competition from the resident Slayer only to find that Miss Buffy Summers had run off a few months before and no one had seen or heard from her since. The friends she left behind were open and friendly and Faith hadn’t trusted them a bit, not at first. Nobody was that nice without wanting something in return. The Watcher was great; Faith knew she’d never replace his precious Buffy, but he was a good man and he tried to help her and keep her safe.
Xander was always trailing around after her trying to “help” which didn’t really make his girlfriend too happy, but Faith had never concerned herself with worrying over someone else’s love life. He had filled her in on the whole Buffy/Angel saga, hitting all the high points and making excuses for Buffy leaving and being gone so long. Which was why it was so surprising to run into Angel on patrol one night; she wouldn’t have known it was him, except that Willow was with her when he attacked. He had been like a wild animal, vicious and primitive. The next night Faith had hunted him with single minded intensity, tracking him for miles before she found him. He had fought with the grace and skill of a beast, but in the end she had killed him.
That had been her first mistake in Sunnydale, although she hadn’t discovered that until much later. At the time she’d been very proud of her kill; she had managed to best Angelus, a worthy opponent no matter what state he was in. She needed to head out to the mansion and set up a base of operations. She didn’t know when exactly Angel would show up, but she needed to be prepared so that she could catch him and keep him from attacking Willow and her past self so he wouldn’t be killed. If Faith saw him she’d hunt him down like a dog. She stopped short. She’d just thought of herself in the third person; it was decidedly weird. She shook her head and moved on; she had a lot of work to do if she was going to change the course of history.
When she got to the mansion she barely recognized it. Of course in her time this place had been torn apart and the mansion rebuilt so it wasn’t too unusual that it looked different. She had stocked up on food and supplies when she was in town so she set about making herself a home. She was probably going to be here for awhile so she better get comfortable. She didn’t exactly enjoy being alone in this place; it was eerily silent and memories of happier times filled her head, bringing on a sense of melancholy. She hated getting lost in thought and drowned in memories; she was supposed to be a bad ass. Bad asses didn’t get the blues; they drank and fought and cared for no one but themselves. But that hadn’t been an apt description of her in a long, long time, and she’d about given up on ever climbing out of her depression. Maybe this mission to the old days would prove successful and give her a new outlook on life. She had her doubts, but she had to give it a shot. It was either this or do herself in and suicide just wasn’t in her nature.
That night Faith spread out her sleeping bag and kicked back with a good book, but it didn’t hold her interest for long and she drifted off to sleep. She jerked awake sometime later, unsure what had awakened her. She rubbed her eyes groggily as she stood and wandered into the main room. She opened her eyes and noticed a beam of light that seemed to be coming from nowhere. She began to walk closer when the whole room was filled with blinding light. She cried out as she stumbled backward covering her eyes. There was a thud and after a moment Faith braved a look and saw that the room had darkened again.
She moved her hands to view the room fully and gasped in shock when she saw a man laying on the floor, a very naked man. She edged closer trying not to startle him and wondering where in hell he’d come from. He lifted his head and she stopped in shock. Angel! Had he ridden in on that flash of light? This was all too bizarre; she had expected to see him sometime soon, but she’d never really given any thought to how he had gotten back from whatever hell dimension Buffy had sent him to. And she certainly hadn’t expected him to drop down in the middle of her home although, to be fair, it had been his home first.
She jumped back slightly when he swung around to look at her. He looked like he was in pain and not quite aware of his surroundings. She stood there watching him for a long time before she snapped to and realized that now would be a really good time to chain him up. Right now he was weak and disoriented, but soon he’d be vicious and hard to control. Better to get it done now when there wasn’t much chance of him running off and getting himself killed. She ran and got some chains, looking around for a good spot to hook him to. She stopped when she saw what she needed and tested it for sturdiness; it would hold. She managed to pull Angel over and secure him, but as she stood back and took in his nakedness again she thought maybe she should see if she could find him some pants.
She wandered through the rooms and found some clothes that had probably been left behind when Angel had gone to hell and everyone else left. She sorted through them finding a nice pair of leather pants and tossed them aside; there was no way she was gonna try and wrestle him into those. She found a pair of looser fitting pants that looked like they might fit and figured they would have to do.
It was a good thing that he was too weak to put up much of a struggle or she never would have gotten the pants on. As it was it took her about twenty minutes of twisting and turning and lifting and pulling before she managed to work the damn things into place. It was odd to be putting a man’s pants on; she was more used to helping to take them off. That brought a brief smile to her lips but it quickly faded at the thought of the man whose pants she’d had the most practice removing. He had died just like the rest of them and she hadn’t even been there to prevent it. She often wondered if she could have saved him if only she hadn’t gotten angry and left that night.
She sat down across from Angel and watched him as she sank into a morass of guilt and sadness. She knew she would have to pull herself out of it and deal with Angel once he got his strength back, but in the meantime she allowed herself a moment of weakness. Tears drifted silently down her face and Angel stared back at her, a low growl emanating from his throat as they both waited.
Faith had dozed off while she sat waiting and as her eyes slowly opened she found her self face to face with Angel. She yelped and tried to push herself further into the wall behind her back. He snarled at her and she wondered why he hadn’t killed her in her sleep, but then she noticed that he hadn’t actually gotten loose. His arms were stretched taut behind him as he leaned out as far as his restraints would allow. He was able to get very close, but not close enough to bite or touch. She must have been really out of it when she had chained him up earlier; she should have checked the reach first thing. She was lucky she wasn’t dead. Her mind wandered slightly as she wondered whether her death would activate a new Slayer in this time or the future, but she quickly shook herself out of her pointless musings. She needed to get up and shorten the chains without getting hurt by Angel.
He continued to growl and snarl in her face as she sat there trying to figure out what to do. He held her eyes with his and she wondered if it was possible to become mesmerized by the intensity of one’s expression alone. His gaze shot to her hand as she lifted it and he watched suspiciously as she reached slowly toward his face. When her fingertips gently stroked his cheek his growl grew louder, but he didn’t attack. She stroked his hair and he moved slightly, like an animal being petted.
She edged forward, attempting to get up and he retreated warily giving her the room she needed. When she had gotten to her feet she touched his cheek one last time before stepping quickly back out of the way. As soon as she took her hand away Angel snarled and lunged toward her, his chains pulling tight. He was intimidating and her heart pounded in fear even though she knew he couldn’t reach her. Odd that he had been so calm before when he was so obviously agitated now. She decided to shorten the chains when he fell asleep; for now she planned on giving him a wide berth.
She fixed herself something to eat, keeping an eye on him as she moved about the mansion, and he watched her, too. She figured he might be hungry. It would probably be safe to go into town for blood during morning school hours. Xander, Willow, Oz and Cordelia should be in class and her past self would most likely still be in bed asleep; it was doubtful she would run into anyone who knew her. She finished her food and sat down with the book she had retrieved from her makeshift bedroom to wait for Angel to go to sleep.
For days they followed the same routine. She would bring him blood and he would sit quietly and watch her as she went about her daily activities. Some days he would allow her to actually feed the blood to him, but other days he’d hiss and growl and she’d set the blood near him and move quickly away. It had been about two weeks and she was running low on supplies so she headed into town to restock and pick up some blood. She grabbed a few new magazines while she was there; with nothing to do but train and hang around she was going a little stir-crazy. Maybe reading would take her mind off her boredom. When she got back she put stuff away on some shelves she’d been using as a sort of pantry. She turned to take the blood to Angel and found him watching her alertly, and she stopped for a second. Something seemed different. When he stood up she realized what it was; the chains were no longer holding him. She wondered how he had managed to get free and then she wondered why he wasn’t attacking her. She backed up a step but then froze when he said,
“Who are you?” She stared at him in shock, unable to do anything but blink.
“You- you can talk!”
“Who are you?” He sounded like it was painful for him to speak. “And why are you taking care of me?” She walked forward slowly and handed him the blood. He looked down at her outstretched hand for a moment before hesitantly taking the cup. Instead of immediately feeding he just clutched the cup and watched her, waiting for a response.
“That’s kind of a long story. Maybe you should go ahead and eat and then I’ll explain.” She turned and headed into the other room. Angel glanced at the blood he was holding then pulled off the lid and drank as he slowly followed her.