Chapter Four: Memories and Dreams
The mansion felt cold and empty when she got home. She wondered if she’d made a horrible mistake. What if their distrust of Angel was so deep that they decided to kill him instead of hearing him out? Then what would she do? She would be alone again. She had grown accustomed to being on her own, but after the time she’d spent here with Angel she didn’t know if she could go back to that solitary existence.
Her nerves were stretched taut and she was feeling twitchy again so she strode into the other room, stripping off her sweatshirt as she went. She flipped carelessly through the CDs until she found what she was looking for and put it in the player. She hit play and let the music move through her, emptying her mind of worry and concern and all the other emotions she didn’t want to deal with. She moved around the room, dancing frenetically until she came to the punching bag where her movements turned into a graceful mix of dancing and fighting. Faith moved and twisted, spinning and kicking, until she was dripping with sweat. She stopped suddenly, breathing heavily as she pushed her hair back from her face. The song changed and suddenly Faith was struck with a blinding pain at the back of her skull. She cried out as she dropped to her knees, clutching her head. Images assaulted her; Giles examining a text in the library, Giles smiling as he looked into Anya’s eyes, Giles trying to read a book as Anya tempted him with kisses and then laughing as he tossed the book aside and took her in his arms, Giles watching Spike angrily as he questioned him about the Initiative, Giles looking at her as she explained that she was in love. The images kept coming one after the other as the pain continued to increase. She cried out again as she fell to her side on the floor and then there was nothing but blackness as she slipped into unconsciousness.
“Faith. Faith, can you hear me?” She could hear someone calling her from a great distance and tried to open her eyes. “Faith, wake up. Faith? Faith!” She pulled in a gasping breath as she awoke with a jolt and looked up to find Angel leaning over her in concern.
“You’re back!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him in relief. He smiled, caught off guard by her exuberance.
“Why were you on the floor?” Faith realized what she was doing and quickly pulled away from him, pushing her hair back nervously. She stumbled as she attempted to stand and Angel reached out to steady her. She grabbed his arm as the memory came rushing back.
“Visions! I had visions!”
“What?” She explained what had happened and what she had seen.
“What does it mean?” Angel crossed his arms and looked down at the floor.
“You changed the future.” She looked puzzled for a second and then excitement spread across her face.
“You mean those were memories, memories of Giles being able to see?” He nodded. “But…I still remember him being blind. How is that possible?” He looked up in surprise.
“You’re asking me to explain the vagaries of time travel?” She laughed
“Yeah, sorry. So this is good news, right? That means that he’s not blind in the future, but why haven’t I had any memories about you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe when you get the memories depends on how close you were to the person or something.” She slipped her hands into the back pockets of her pants and smiled up at him.
“Those damn vagaries again, huh?” He smiled slightly and nodded. She bounced over to the table, hopping up to sit on it, and pulled him down next to her. “Let’s focus on something a little less insane. Tell me what happened with the gang. Do they love you again or what?”
“Well, “love” might be a little strong at this point.” He looked over at her. “You were right about everyone’s response. Giles and Willow were wary and nervous, Xander was hostile, and Faith was- you were aggressive and suspicious. I have to say that was the weirdest thing, seeing you, but not you.”
“Oh, yeah? Was I a total bitch?”
“I don’t know if I should answer that.” She nodded, grinning.
“Yep, I was a bitch.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“It won’t hurt my feelings. Honest.”
“You were just doing your duty as a Slayer. Checking into a possible threat, and-”
“Being a total bitch! You can say it, Angel.” He laughed at her teasing and caught her arm as she moved to give him a playful shove.
“Alright! I admit it! You were a bitch.”
“Damn right!” She shot him her best badass look, but spoiled it by laughing. “Did I rough you up? Did I bust your chops?”
“No and yes. No rough handling, but a lot of angry accusations and demands for explanations were made.”
“So how’d you leave it?”
“The way you suggested. I let them know I wouldn’t bother them, but that I’m here if they need me.”
“What did they say? No wait, let me guess. You’ve given them a lot to think about and they need to discuss it privately before they make any decisions.” He looked at her in surprise.
“Giles’s words exactly.” She smiled.
“And I bet I was very upset and didn’t want to let you leave.”
“You and Xander both.”
“See, I know these people. I bet Willow just sat there silently with that look. You know that one that just screams nervous tension.” He nodded.
“Yeah, they’ll welcome you back in no time.” She patted him on the back then stood up and stretched. “I think I might head for bed. It’s been a long day. Are we good here?”
“Yeah, go ahead. I might read or something.” She leaned over and gave him a brief, friendly hug.
“I’m glad they didn’t kill ya.”
“Yeah, what would I have done without all your brooding silence?” She gave him an impudent grin and left the room.
Was she awake or was she dreaming? The room was in shadow, lit by a single candle. She stretched against the smooth sheets, enjoying the caress of silk against her skin. She glanced down realizing she was naked. She thought she’d been dressed when she went to bed. What had happened to her clothes? She lay on her back and looked around the room, feeling strangely at peace. And sleepy, definitely sleepy, she thought. Faith pushed herself up and leaned on her elbows trying to figure out what it was about this place that made her feel so safe, so happy. And wasn’t she supposed to be in the mansion? I don’t have silk sheets at the mansion. She tipped her head back and closed her eyes deciding for once just to enjoy the moment instead of trying to analyze it. She could smell coffee brewing and relaxed back on the pillows wondering what she had done to deserve such a feeling of contentment. She felt the bed dip as someone sat down on the edge. She smiled as a hand tenderly caressed her cheek, and she opened her eyes.
“Good sleep?” Angel asked. Faith gasped and her eyes shot open as she quickly sat up. She looked around frantically, but she was back in the mansion. Alone. She sank back down on her decidedly uncomfortable sleeping bag, her breathing ragged. What the hell was that? Her conscious thoughts were one thing, but if her unconscious mind was going to start dreaming about him, she would go crazy! She pushed the dream from her thoughts as well as she could. It was just a dream. It didn’t mean anything. Nothing even happened. Faith rolled over, punched her pillow into shape, and closed her eyes prepared to drift off to sleep.
Half an hour later she was still tossing and turning. She flopped onto her back and blew out a frustrated breath. She pushed to her feet and paced the room like a caged animal. She shouldn’t be feeling this restless energy; her impromptu workout earlier should have taken care of that. Nevertheless, here she was at oh-dark-thirty, wandering her room when she should be sleeping. Maybe a little bag work would wear her out. She crept out into the main room to see if Angel was still up, but she didn’t see him. She slipped into the area that housed the punching bag and stood for a moment absorbing the peace and quiet. The mansion was eerily still and she was nervous about beginning; it seemed almost a sacrilege to disturb the silence. She smiled at her foolishness and began her routine. She had been at it for quite some time when she sensed she wasn’t alone. She spun around to find Angel watching her.
“Shouldn’t sneak up on people,” she said as she turned back to finish her workout.
“Couldn’t sleep?” She paused, closing her eyes briefly.
“You realize you’re not dressed, right?” She glanced down at the black sports bra and boxers she was wearing then turned to look at him, her hands on her hips.
“What are you some sort of prude? This covers more than my swimsuit.” She threw him a grin. “I’m sure you’ve seen women in a lot less.” She walked past him into the other room to get a drink. She downed a bottle of water then wiped her mouth as she turned and saw he was still standing there. She lifted an eyebrow as she regarded him. “Something on your mind?”
“You said you had weird dreams.” She shifted uncomfortably.
“Was it more Giles stuff?” She almost laughed.
“No, it wasn’t anything like that. It was just…not the kind of thing I normally dream about is all. I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. Figured I’d get in a little action.” He continued to watch her closely, and she crossed her arms defensively.
“You seem a little on edge; are you sure something isn’t bothering you?” She thought it was sweet that he was worried about her, but she also knew there was no way in hell she was telling him her dream.
“I’m fine, really.” She flashed him a smile to help convince him. “I’m gonna go back to bed now and we’ll talk in the morning or…whenever you’re up. WAKE up! Whenever you wake up.” He gave her a funny look and she felt ridiculous. She left quickly and headed for bed, rolling her eyes over her silly outburst. Idiot!
A few weeks went by and Faith continued to have Angel dreams. None of them were as intimate as the first one, though; they were mostly filled with bits and pieces of conversation and sometimes in them, she and Angel were sparring. She didn’t understand it, but at least she didn’t feel as embarrassed about these ones.
Angel had talked with Giles and the gang a few times and things seemed to be progressing fairly well. After every meeting he would fill Faith in on what had been said and she’d advise him on what to do next.
“I think I’m starting to get to you,” he said one day. Faith spun to look at him in surprise.
“The other you; I think I’m making progress. I’ve been trying to make friends with her.”
“Why?” she asked, sitting down across from him.
“Well, I figured it would be a good idea.”
“I guess it would. I mean, we’re friends now so it makes since if I’m friends with you in the past.” She looked up at him, realizing how confusing that seemed, and smiled. “You know what I mean.” He smiled back and nodded. “So she’s not being hostile anymore?”
“No, she seems to have downgraded to guarded.”
“Wow! Impressive progress.” She paused briefly. “It’s weird to talk about myself as a separate person.”
“Can’t be much weirder than being a different person,” he said quietly. She watched him silently for a moment.
“What’s that like? Do you remember what you did or-”
“I shouldn’t have brought it up,” he interrupted her looking suddenly distant.
“Come on, you practically know my life story while I know exactly two things about you.” She held up her hand to count them off. “One, you’re a vampire with a soul. Two, ‘happy’ makes you lose it.”
“You know more than that.”
“Barely.” She reached out and touched his hand. “If you really don’t want to, you don’t have to talk about it, but I’d like to know what it’s like for you.” He was silent for a long time and she thought she had her answer, but then he started to speak. His voice was so low she almost missed what he said,
“I remember everything; all the blood, all the…death. All the pain I caused. Every single second I remember. What I did. What I am. And I know that I have no right to ask for forgiveness, no right to be forgiven. I feel it inside me, clawing to get out, held back by the soul of a man who was, at best, a drunken, womanizing, lout. A man who had no respect for anything or anyone. And I don’t know which part I hate more. The soulless beast that kills without conscience or the man that cared so little for the soul he had that he lost it long before he ever died.” He looked up at her. “Is that what you wanted to know?” When he stood to leave she grabbed his arm to halt his exit and was pulled to her feet by his momentum.
“Angel. You have to know you’re more than that.” She searched his eyes for any sign of acknowledgement, but found none. “You do know that, right? Angel? Do you realize that you’re the only person who has ever made me feel safe in my life, ever? That has to mean something, right? And what about all the good you’ve done; do you think that means nothing? Everybody screws up; maybe some mistakes are bigger than others, but you’re more than just your mistakes. Everybody is. And nobody deserves forgiveness; that’s something one person gives to another.” He looked at her and she thought maybe she was getting through to him. She reached up and hugged him. “You’re my friend and for some damn reason I trust you. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does my instincts are always right. And I don’t trust worthless people so…” She pulled back slightly to look at him and her words faded away at the intensity of his gaze. He’d had the same look that first night when she’d woken to find herself face to face with a savage. Just like before her hand moved to touch his cheek and she found herself lost in his eyes.
The moment was abruptly shattered by a knock at the door. They moved apart quickly, scrambling for composure. Faith didn’t know who was at the door, but she knew she needed to hide in case it was one of the gang, which was likely.
“You get the door,” she whispered. “I’ll hide back here.” She moved into another room leaving the door open enough to hear what was going on. Angel was still just standing there so she leaned back out and hissed urgently, “Go!” She listened as Angel walked to the door and opened it. There was a long silence and she wondered what the hell was going on, but then she heard a voice say softly,
“Giles said you were alive, but I didn’t believe him.” Myriad emotions laced Angel’s voice as he responded. Faith looked down and pressed her eyes shut tight. Resting her head against the door she echoed Angel sadly, her own voice a whisper,