Chapter Five: Reunion and Revisit
The silence went on until Faith thought she might go crazy. Edging by the door, she moved around until she could see what was going on. They just stood staring at each other, Buffy looking shocked and uncertain and Angel, well she couldn’t tell what Angel was thinking.
“Can I come in?”
“Uh, yeah, I, ah, I guess so.” Faith saw Angel glance towards her hiding place and moved back out of sight for a moment. When she looked back out Angel had shut the door and Buffy was looking around nervously. Faith could pinpoint the exact moment she noticed everything lying around, things that Angel would never have bought. She picked up one of the CDs, turning to look at him as she held it up.
“Mark Ferrari?” Angel glanced over at Faith briefly then back at Buffy, crossing his arms awkwardly as he said,
“Yeah, they’re, uh, he’s great. Good stuff.” Buffy looked doubtful and then Faith watched her gaze sweep the room again taking in the radio, the CDs, the magazines…the food containers! Did Buffy know Angel didn’t eat regular food? Faith closed her eyes; there was no way Buffy was gonna buy that all that stuff was Angel’s. Faith looked again and saw that her gaze was riveted on something across the room. Puzzled, Faith turned to see what it was and spotted her sweatshirt on the floor near the door to her room. Shit! It wasn’t an obviously girly piece of clothing, but it was way too small to be Angel’s. Buffy walked slowly towards the shirt.
“Is someone else here?” Angel moved quickly, taking Buffy by the hand and moving her away from Faith’s room. He led her to the table.
“Why don’t we sit in here and talk?” Faith could tell Buffy was curious about the odd things Angel had, but then she seemed to shrug it off and turned to face him. She reached out, tenderly stroking his cheek and Faith decided she didn’t feel like hanging around to catch the show. She carefully shut the door and moved away so she didn’t have to overhear their touching reunion. She sat in the corner wishing there was another way out of this room so she could get the hell out of the mansion. The need for activity gripped her, but she knew she had to be quiet so Buffy wouldn’t hear her and get suspicious.
Why was this bothering her so much? She should be happy that Buffy had shown up; her return could only help Angel’s relationship with the group, but instead she found herself experiencing pangs of jealousy and disappointment. Buffy coming back meant Angel would be gone more, which meant he would be spending less time with Faith. She was going to lose him. That puzzling thought stopped her cold. Lose him? He wasn’t hers to lose! Why was she so upset? Yes, she felt close to Angel, but that was just because he was the only person she’d had any contact with. She rationalized that she would feel close to anyone under the circumstances, but her mind suddenly turned against her as it flashed back to the moment before the knock on the door and she relived the feelings she had experienced when their eyes met. I wanted to kiss him. She shook her head in denial of her thoughts. This was ridiculous; she did not have feelings for Angel. This whole thing was a result of their forced togetherness and her old rivalry with Buffy, nothing more. Buffy being back was a good thing, but Faith still experienced a sense of loss and she didn’t understand why.
It seemed like an eternity before Angel opened the door to tell her Buffy had gone. She wandered into the other room without looking at him, confused by her emotions. She didn’t really feel like hearing about his little interlude with Buffy, but then she turned to look at him. He looked sort of sad and lost and she felt like she should offer him a shoulder to cry on since he’d let her sob all over him about Spike and the others. She tucked her hands in her pockets and looked at the floor.
“Do you, uh, want to…talk about it or something?” She was aware of his eyes on her as she moved toward him hesitantly. “I mean, you don’t have to tell me. I just thought maybe…” She glanced up and caught his gaze, angry at the flash of awareness she was fast becoming familiar with.
“She doesn’t like you.” The abruptness of his statement threw her for a second.
“The other you, she mentioned her. She doesn’t like that you’ve taken her place.” Faith stared at him in disbelief.
“She just found out you’ve mysteriously returned from the hell dimension she sent you to and THAT is what you talked about?”
“Well, we talked about other things too, but I thought I’d ease into it.” They smiled at each other slightly and then Faith moved to sit on the table.
“I always knew she didn’t like me.” Angel sat next to her.
“Yeah, she said it was quite a jolt to come home and find a new Slayer hanging out with her friends, working with her Watcher.”
“Well she shouldn’t worry. They’ll all rush to be back at her side in no time.” She tried to control her voice, but was unable to keep out a hint of bitterness. Angel unexpectedly reached out and patted her back.
“Don’t worry; I’ll keep you company.” She turned to look at him, her expression cynical.
“You’ll keep me company?” She snorted inelegantly. “You’ll be the first one by her side!” Angel shook his head as he stood up.
“I will help her in any way I can.” He started to leave the room, pausing in the doorway with his back to her. “But I won’t let you be abandoned again.” Stunned, she watched wordlessly as he left, realizing only after he was gone that she still didn’t know what else he and Buffy had talked about.
Angel never told her what had gone on with Buffy, but it had been three weeks and she hadn’t come back to the mansion; Faith figured it hadn’t exactly been the joyous reunion she imagined it to be. She tried to be disappointed, but all that came through was a small happy smile; she shook her head and went back to her workout. Angel had gone out earlier to patrol and check in with the gang. She wished she could’ve gone with him, but she knew venturing out at night was way too risky. Everyone would be out; too big a chance of being discovered. So here she was, stuck inside with nothing but music and exercise to alleviate her edginess. She spun and delivered a vicious kick to the bag as the song came to an end. She rested for a moment, her hands on her hips, waiting for the next song to start. When nothing happened she turned to check the radio and came to an immediate stop at the sight that greeted her.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Buffy stood next to the radio, her finger still resting on the stop button as she took in Faith’s obvious familiarity with the mansion. She eyed the CDs scattered around the radio before her gaze came to rest on the sweatshirt tied loosely at Faith’s hips. Glancing down, Faith realized it was the same sweatshirt Buffy had seen lying on the floor during her previous visit. “Oh, my God! Is all this stuff…yours?”
“It’s not what you think,” Faith protested, but Buffy paid no attention.
“It was bad enough to find you’d taken my place with my friends and Giles, but Angel, too? You’ve really outdone yourself!” Faith shook her head, taking a step towards Buffy.
“I didn’t…” She was unable to finish as she was hit by another blinding headache. This time as she dropped to her knees, she was bombarded with images of Angel. Angel arguing with Xander, Angel fighting off a group of vamps, Angel pushing her out of the way of a demon attack, Angel fighting with Spike, Angel smiling as she excitedly told him something; faster and faster they came and she reached out for help as Buffy rushed forward in concern. Before Buffy could reach her Faith cried out, collapsing into darkness once again.
“What did you do to her?” Faith wondered why Angel was so angry.
“I didn’t do anything; she just collapsed! What is she doing here, anyway?”
“Not now, Buffy.”
“Well, she’s obviously living here! This is her stuff, isn’t it?” There was a long silence and Faith struggled to wake up so she could set things straight. She didn’t want Buffy to be angry with Angel, but before she could force herself to move he confirmed Buffy’s misapprehension by saying,
“Yes, it is. She’s been living here for awhile. Faith- she took care of me when I came back and we’ve become…friends. I would appreciate it if you didn’t bring this up to her or the others. She doesn’t like people to see past her tough exterior, to see her as vulnerable; she’d be embarrassed if anyone found out.” Why was he lying? Tell her the truth!
“Was she here when I came over the other day? Is that why you rushed me out of here?”
“Look, I thought we agreed that, outside of demon related stuff, we would lead separate lives; that it’s too hard to be around each other after everything that happened. Isn’t that what we decided?” There was a pause, and then, “So? Why are you here?”
“I don’t know. I guess I thought you might be lonely,” she said pointedly. “Obviously I was wrong. I’m sure Faith is great on lonely nights!” If Faith could have moved, she would have hit her.
“It’s not like that; she’s not like that.” Buffy made a derisive sound and Faith could tell she was walking away.
“I see the way she looks at you. If you think she’s here out of the goodness of her heart, you’re delusional!” The door slammed and everything was silent. Angel sat down next to her and she realized someone had moved her to the bed.
“You should have told her the truth.”
“What good would that have done?”
“I don’t know, but she seemed angry when she left.”
“What did she mean ‘the way I look at you’?” Angel stood up and turned away so she couldn’t see his face.
“You said you felt rejected by everyone when Buffy came back the first time. I’ve been trying to change that.”
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with you.” Faith smiled.
“That’s so sweet! And it sort of explains what happened today.” He looked at her questioningly. “I collapsed because I had more memory flashes. It was you this time.” She put her hand to her head. “I wish I didn’t get them all at once though; this headache is a bitch!” She looked up at him suddenly. “Wait a minute. Wait a minute! Do you mean- am I all…you know, coming on to you and stuff? Is that what Buffy meant?”
“Not really. You’re nicer to me than you are to the others and you do like to flirt, but I think you do that mostly to piss off Buffy.” Faith pulled him around to face her.
“Have I come on to you?” She saw him hesitate. “Tell me the truth.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Can we stop talking about this?”
“Not until you tell me what I said.”
“You asked if the, uh, happiness clause in my curse meant it was okay to have sex with someone I didn’t love.”
“And then you, uh, ran your…hand down my chest and said that you weren’t even sure we liked each other. After that you smiled and you kissed me,” he tapped the edge of his jaw, near his chin, “here.”
“Oh. My. God!”
“But I’m pretty sure you were joking.”
“I said that?” He nodded. “And you still hang around with me?” Faith shook her head slightly. “With her? God, no wonder Buffy hates me!” Angel smiled.
“It’s strange to hang around with you here and then hang around with the past you. You’re more reserved in a lot of ways than she is, but you’re also more trusting. She’s very suspicious. Of everyone.” Faith shook her head.
“Yeah, I remember that. She probably came on to you to test you. The person I used to be would figure you only hung around because you expected something in return. And you know; if you did, she'd probably give it to you, but you’d never touch her in any way that really mattered. I used to use sex as a weapon; it was power and control and I knew how to use it to my advantage.” She faded off as she remembered how much better it had been when it wasn’t about being in control, but about letting go and being free. Suddenly she realized she was talking about sex with Angel, of all people, the last guy she should be having this conversation with, and snapped out of her reverie abruptly. “Anyway, uh, what were we talking about?” Angel shook his head, as though just coming out of his own thoughts.
“I think we were changing the subject.”
“Best idea ever.”
Angel told her Buffy never brought up Faith and Angel’s living arrangements in front of the others, but he said she treated the other Faith very coldly and barely spoke to Angel. Faith didn’t get what the big deal was; Buffy had to know nothing was going on. How could it? Faith figured no way was Angel risking his soul again and even if he were remotely tempted to, it would be with Buffy not her. Then again, Buffy’s jealousy made a weird sort of sense; she’d always seemed a little unnerved by Faith’s aggressively flirtatious manner. She was sure her past self wasn’t doing anything close to setting Buffy’s mind at ease about her intentions toward Angel. For some reason that thought made Faith smile.
He was gone again. As Faith had predicted Angel was gone more and more often now, leaving her on her own a lot of the time, and she missed him more than she cared to admit. On his way back he usually picked up some dinner for her and some blood for him and they would settle down to eat and discuss what had gone on during patrol and any meetings he had with the gang. Sometimes when they were together she would catch him watching her, an odd expression on his face, but he always looked away before she could figure out what he might be thinking. Other times he seemed a million miles away and while she always wondered what put that wistful look in his eye, she never asked him, sure that his thoughts were filled with Buffy.
She was getting tired of being left behind. She knew it was necessary, but it still rubbed her the wrong way. I should be out fighting. Maybe if she could just get in a little slayage all this tension would loosen its grip on her. An idea came to her, fully formed and begging to be put into action, but she worried that her impulsiveness might get her into trouble. She shrugged off her misgivings and rushed to pull on the “disguise” she had worn when she and Angel rescued Giles. If she stayed alert she could go on a quick patrol without being spotted. Smiling, she grabbed a stake and a small crossbow and headed into the night.
She felt exhilarated as she wandered through the familiar graveyards that constituted her old stomping grounds. It was good to be outside finally and back on the job. When had slaying become a necessity to her rather than just something she did? Maybe it had always been that way and she was just now noticing, but she found that all this time without a good kill had left her itching for some action.
She stopped near a large crypt and, taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. She let her senses have free reign and just as she registered that it was way too quiet her brain sent her another warning. Vampire! She opened her eyes, casually raising her stake, and took the first one easily as he rushed her. Three more came from behind and she spun around knocking two of them back with a powerful kick before bringing the crossbow into play. The first two were simple kills, but the third caught her off guard and took her to the ground before she could rally her defenses. She took a hard blow to the head and dodged another before she was able to get back in the game. With a swift upswing of her legs she caught the bastard around the neck and pulled him backwards as she rolled to flip him onto his stomach and landed astride his back. She gave him a hard kidney punch just for being so much trouble and then jammed the stake through his back down into his heart. She was yanked to her feet before the cloud of dust had even dissipated and hauled inside the darkness of the crypt. She had barely begun to struggle when a hand clamped over her mouth and she was pulled back tightly against a solid and unyielding figure.
“I thought we had agreed that it was best for you to stay in at night.” She immediately stopped struggling, and Angel moved his hand to let her speak. She turned her head to give him a dirty look.
“What is your problem? You scared the shit out of me!”
“Shh, the others will be coming by here any minute. I saw you from across the cemetery and took off to warn you.”
“Did anyone else see me?”
“I don’t think so. They-” He stopped suddenly and then whispered, “Here they come.” At first all Faith could make out was her own breathing, loud and ragged in the silence of the crypt. As her adrenaline high slowly receded, she heard Buffy arguing with someone. The voices grew closer and Faith turned her head to give Angel a look of wide-eyed astonishment as she realized Buffy was arguing with her. The group passed by the crypt without pause and kept on going, their voices growing faint even as the argument continued. All was silent again and Faith suddenly noticed that Angel still held her tight against him. For one unguarded second she relaxed into him, enjoying the feel of his arms around her. When she realized what she was doing she put a hand on Angel’s arm and turned to look at him.
“I think it’s safe to let me go now.” He seemed startled to find he still held her, and released her immediately. They faced each other in the darkness of the crypt and Faith wished she knew what he was thinking.
“I thought you were going to stay inside.”
“I got bored.” He didn’t say anything for a second and she thought he was angry, but when he finally spoke she could tell he was holding back a laugh.
“You got bored?” She smiled at him in the darkness.
“Yeah, you know, you never take me anywhere anymore. What does a girl have to do to get invited to an apocalypse? I mean, is it asking too much to be taken out for a little demon killing every now and then?” She heard Angel laugh and then he took her arm to lead her back outside.
“So, not enough activity for you at the mansion?”
“I’m going out of my mind up there.”
“We’ll have to do something about that.”
“What did you have in mind?” Faith could have kicked herself when she heard how flirtatious her tone was. Angel glanced over with a smile.