Chapter Seven: Recount and Redress
Angel watched her closely after she made her announcement and she wondered what he was thinking. He reached out hesitantly and touched her cheek, gently pushing her hair back off her face.
“Are you sure you’re ready? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” Faith would have been less surprised if he had hauled off and hit her. As it was his gentle touch had a fairly similar effect, leaving her a little stunned and breathless. He was so sweet. She hadn’t expected that about him. She hadn’t expected a lot of things, but being unprepared didn’t stop the unexpected from happening. She’d learned that lesson a long time ago in the worst possible way. She put her hand over Angel’s.
“I’m ready, and you need to know.” He nodded and leaned back against the counter as he crossed his arms. She stood opposite him, her eyes trained on the floor and her arms folded tightly against her body in a slightly defensive posture. She took a deep, shaky breath and then began her story.
“After all the Adam bullshit things settled down nicely. No more unbeatable Frankenstein monster to deal with just nice, normal, every day vamps and the occasional demon. It was nice to have some down time, but it wasn’t long before some really weird shit started happening; there were all kinds of new monsters and crazy people running all over town. Things never stay simple for long on the frickin’ Hellmouth.” Faith glanced up briefly, her expression slightly bitter. “None of us knew what the hell we were dealing with, but it wasn’t long before we found out and then we prayed for ignorance.
Glory seemed like just another crazy bitch on first viewing, but she was stronger and more powerful than anything I had ever dealt with.” Faith moved towards where Angel stood and boosted herself up to sit next to him. “Ever met a god?” Angel’s eyes widened slightly and he shook his head no. “I guess actually she was just a Hellgod, not like the God, if there even is one, but still – it didn’t really make much difference. She still made kicking my ass look all kinds of easy.
Giles had gotten in touch with the Council; that’s how we found out the whole ‘Hellgod’ deal, and they came to town just full of helpful information. Apparently, Glory needed some key to open a portal or something. So where is it hidden? I don’t know. Who does she think knows where it’s hidden?” She glanced at Angel and he smiled slightly.
“You got it. Anyway, there’s this whole big thing where she has to perform a special ritual with the Key at this certain time so she’s under a bit of a time crunch. These guys show up and they want to destroy the Key, the Council says we need to keep it safe so there’s a big scramble to see who can find it first.”
“Did you find it?” Faith nodded. “What was it?”
“I don’t really understand what it used to be, but by the time we found it, it was human.” Angel turned to her in surprise.
“Turns out the Key was Buffy’s kid sister all along.”
“Wait a minute. Buffy doesn’t have a sister.” Faith looked puzzled for a second and then she smiled.
“Yeah.” She shook her head. “Right. I forgot; you don’t remember her yet.”
“What?” Faith pinched the bridge of her nose before beginning the tiresome explanation.
“She’s not really Buffy’s sister. That’s what the monk’s made everyone believe.”
“Yeah, monks. They tried to hide the Key by making it human. Gave everyone memories of her, sent her to us as Buffy’s little sis.”
“I don’t know. They wanted her to have protection; maybe they didn’t know Buffy was…gone or maybe they figured I’d be around to protect her. Who knows? I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago.”
“Were you two friends?”
“You know, it’s weird because even though Buffy and I fought all the time, or maybe that was part of it, I always got along with the kid. I kept an eye on her after Buffy…” She glanced at Angel. “After. Except, I didn’t, because that stuff never happened. I remember it though; it’s real to me.”
“What was she like?” Faith smiled.
“She was a little brat. Always bugging Buffy, trying to piss her off by hanging around with me.” Her smile faded. “Those memories of her aren’t real, but they mean more to me than all the real memories I have of my life before I came to this town. She freaked when we found out, but then she was so brave. We tried to keep her safe, but there was just… we weren’t prepared for her, for Glory and she- she took her.” Faith was silent for a long time as she remembered everything that came next. Angel reached out and touched her arm, startling her back to the present.
“You okay?” She nodded and then braced herself for the rest.
“We managed to stop the ritual in time, but Glory got away. We didn’t know where she went and, really, we didn’t care. We thought we’d saved the world. We thought that was the only time she could use the Key. We were so, so wrong. A couple years later she showed up again, but this time she kept a low profile. No one suspected a thing.
She took Xander and Cordy because she thought she could get them to tell her where Dawn was.” She glanced at Angel. “She was living with her dad ‘cause Joyce, she...she died. When they wouldn’t,” Faith took a shaky breath, “she tortured Xander, she did…unspeakable things to him, but he never broke. Cordelia, though, she just wanted to end Xander’s torment. She told Glory where Dawn was and, as thanks, Glory killed them both.” Tears ran down her face as she met Angel’s eyes. “I know all this because I was there. She made me…watch.” Her voice gave out on the last word and he pulled her against him. The desperate fear she had felt that day gripped her, and she held onto him tightly as she continued, “She never touched me; she just wanted me to know that I was powerless, that I wasn’t enough to stop her.
She got Dawn and then took us both to this… place; she had found another way to use the Key and wanted to make sure I was there to see. She kept me drugged; I was pretty out of it, but she made sure I was lucid enough to know what was going on. When the…blood started to flow, there was nothing I could do. I watched as the walls came down, and it was almost beautiful. Then everything started to spill out and the town was just…destroyed. Most of the people were killed, including Giles and Anya; I didn’t even know until…later. They- I found the, uh, the bodies- what was left of them anyway. I’m not even sure, there was so much going on, I still don’t know what killed them.”
“How…how did you stop Glory?”
“I didn’t; Willow did.” She shook her head. “She was incredible. She killed her; I’m not even sure how, but that didn’t end all the destruction. She set Dawn loose and tried to lead her away, but Dawn just… she looked at me and she smiled and then she turned around and ran. She tried to jump into the vortex to…end it all, but Willow grabbed her and they…they both went in. They died, and I did…nothing. The Slayer sits on the sidelines while her friends die saving the world. Not exactly a glowing endorsement of my career.” She tried for about two seconds to put on a brave face but then she broke down sobbing. She wondered what it was about Angel that made her feel safe enough to cry like this. She didn’t think anyone else had seen her cry so much, or so often and, while it was embarrassing as hell, something about the experience served to ease her misery.
He whispered things she couldn’t understand and stroked her back comfortingly and soon the tears stopped and she was able to let go of him. She drew back and her hands lifted to wipe the tears from her face, but Angel beat her to it, his fingers moving softly against her skin. She closed her eyes, drew in a shaky breath and reached to still his gentle touch. She opened her eyes to meet his questioning gaze. Holding his hands as she moved them away from her face, she whispered, “I- I’m okay now.”
“I’m sorry that you had to go through that, but it wasn’t your fault.”
“That’s what Spike said when he found me, but it’s not completely true. I didn’t kill them, but in a way I did sentence them to death.”
“That’s ridiculous. How could it possibly be your fault?” She looked at him sadly.
“I killed you.”
“You could’ve helped stop her.” He shook his head.
“You said she was so strong that not even you could stop her. What do you think I could’ve done?”
“There was a spell, a ritual actually. Tara,” she smiled slightly, “you don’t know her; she was nice.” Her thoughts drifted for a moment. “A little skittish but nice. The first time we dealt with Glory she found this…thing, this ritual. We could have stopped her then and there, but we were missing one vital ingredient.” She could tell he was puzzled so she just looked at him expectantly. Realization and disbelief spread across his face.
“Me?” Faith nodded.
“Well, I don’t know why the ritual is specific to you, although I could hazard a guess. Tara said it was to achieve something called, uh, um… dammit!” She snapped her fingers impatiently as she tried to recall the name. “Ne plus ultra? Yeah, yeah; I think that’s what it was called. Anyway, it’s supposed to make one of us, or maybe both-” She shook her head. “I’ve never been too sure about that. It makes us invincible.”
“For how long?”
“I don’t know.”
“Sounds kind of dangerous.”
“Yeah, well, you know me.” He studied her closely and she shifted uncomfortably.
“This is why you came back, then? To make sure I’m around to help?”
“That and a couple other things.” She smiled sadly. “I’m almost finished.” Angel was silent as he absorbed everything she had told him and Faith took the opportunity to study him. When she had decided to come back here she hadn’t been sure she would even like him, much less that she’d be having all these confusing feelings for him. She supposed it had something to do with the way he looked at her. She could never tell what he was thinking, but his eyes… his eyes always let her know that everything was okay and that she was safe. Even when he had first returned and he’d been in such a savage state there had been something in his eyes that had caught and held her.
His sweetness and humor had come as a surprise too, but then everything about him had been. The way he always seemed to know how to cheer her up. The way he listened so intently when she talked to him. The way he teased her about everything. The way he made her heart feel lighter and beat faster just by entering the room. The way he was able to make her feel safe when no one else had ever been able to. He’d become so important to her and she didn’t even know what was going to happen. Would she ever see him again? Would she ever see anyone again? Eliana had left her in the dark on that score, but no matter what happened to her afterwards she was glad she’d had the chance to get to know him. She only hoped he would be able to forgive what she planned to do.
They stayed up talking for a few more hours before Faith decided to head for bed. She got to her feet, stretching sleepily and glanced up to find Angel watching her. He did that a lot, just…watched; it was unnerving how much he saw. Sometimes it seemed like he was able to look right inside her. She shook her head slightly; she couldn’t seem to go two seconds without getting all sappy over the guy. What the hell was her problem? She realized he was saying something and snapped out of her reverie.
“What?” He smiled slightly and she wondered if he could tell she’d been thinking about him.
“You never told me how Spike died.” Her whole body tensed.
“That wasn’t something you could have prevented,” she replied stiffly as she turned to go. “I’m the only one that can stop that from happening.”
“What do you mean?” She sighed wearily and threw him a look over her shoulder.
“I’m tired, Angel. Can we talk about it later?” He just stared at her for a second and she feared that he knew the real reason she didn’t want to talk about it.
“Sure. Sorry.” Now she felt like a jerk.
“Look, I didn’t mean to snap at you. I just-” She broke off abruptly. “G’night, Angel.”
“Sweet dreams.” She felt like crying as she shut her door. If he only knew.
Time passed quickly, each day bringing her closer to an uncertain future. She tried to distance herself from Angel thinking it would be easier to say goodbye that way, but found it impossible. Instead her feelings for him grew ever more confusing and she wondered how she would ever be able to leave him. Her guilt grew as well. She didn’t understand how she could love Spike and feel this way towards Angel at the same time. Eliana said it was a good thing, but she didn’t see how it possibly could be.
Angel seemed to have been more or less accepted by the gang; he continued to patrol with them every night and checked in at all the meetings. Faith, the other Faith, had taken to dropping by the mansion occasionally ever since Angel had saved her life, and was in fact there now. It was nice that they were becoming friends, but annoying for her since she had to hide away out of sight every time. Also annoying was the fact that the other Faith flirted outrageously with him at every opportunity, moving around all seductively and hugging him tightly before she left. God, had she really been so obvious back then? She’d been at the mansion for close to an hour before she finally left. Coming out of the back room Faith felt like blushing when Angel turned to look at her.
“So what did she want to talk about this time?” Angel smiled.
“He’s here already?”
“You know him?” She gave him a pointed look and he seemed a little embarrassed. “Of course you know him. Sorry.” Her amusement bubbled over into a wide grin.
“I’ll try to contain my urge to mock you.” Her grin faded a bit. “So. Wes is here. He’s a day early this time. Weird.”
“What’s he like?”
“He’s kind of a prig, but he doesn’t last long.”
“When Buffy died I made a formal request that Giles be my Watcher. The Council okayed it, but I guess it didn’t look good for Wes or something ‘cause they tossed him.” She crossed her arms defensively. “I never meant for him to get fired. I mean, he wasn’t a bad guy; I was just more comfortable with Giles.” Angel nodded in understanding.
“Do you know what happened to him after?” She shrugged.
“Last I heard he had joined some group of vampire hunters in London. Heard they were pretty effective.” Her thoughts drifted and she spaced for a second. When she snapped out of it Angel was watching her.
“You alright?” She nodded. “Where’d you go?”
“Just thinking back.” She smiled, shaking off the memories. “I’m a little hungry.”
“I have to make a blood run; you want me to pick something up for you?”
“Aw, you’re sweet. Maybe you could get me a burger and some fries?” Angel nodded as he pulled on his jacket.
“Be right back.” As the door closed her smile disappeared. She hated this. She wanted to confide in him so badly, the way she had about everything else, but she knew she couldn’t. He would try to stop her, and she had to do this one final thing. For Spike. Then everything would be right, everything would be fixed. Tonight was the night. She was running out of time, and she had to do it now before she lost her nerve. After she headed for bed she’d wait awhile and then sneak out. Angel wouldn’t even know until after the deed was done. She closed her eyes in anguish; he would probably hate her. She didn’t know if she could bear his hatred. She opened her eyes and tried to strengthen her resolve. It had to be done; she’d deal with the consequences later. For now she would enjoy her evening with Angel; it would probably be the last time they were together as friends. She doubted he’d want to hang out with a murderer.