The Vulnerability of Faith


by Demona


*************

We sat down with Angel the following evening and discussed the whole 'him coming back to LA with us'. He seemed a little resistant to that. A lot of words were said that probably shouldn't have been. Insults were thrown back and forth across the table. Basically his argument was that we didn't need him at Angel Investigations anymore because we had been doing fine without him for the past 2+ years. Cordy's argument was that it was Angel Investigations and he was "Angel". She was getting these visions and they were for him from the PTB. She was sick of getting them and almost getting killed by answering them while their warrior was out "finding himself" around the world. I hadn't spoke during the whole argument. When they finally asked for my opinion I had no clue what to say. I told Angel simply that 'I wanted him to come back to LA with me' and then I shut up again for the rest of the conversation. The screaming match between the others got them all nowhere. But I think that they all felt better after they got out what they had been feeling for the last few years. The conversation ended when Cordy got a vision of a college kid in distress. We were all out the door minus Gunn and Cordy in a matter of seconds.

When we came back from that adventure in fighting evil I was in pain. One of the vampires had gotten the upper hand and kicked my ass for a few minutes while my guard was completely down until Angel had to rescue me. I headed back to Adam's house limping heavily on my now very hurt left leg. About halfway there Angel picked me up and carried me the rest of the way back to the house. I complained the whole time he was carrying me about how I was fine and didn't need his help, which I obviously did but would never admit to him. He took me into the house and sat me on the couch in the living room and went and played doctor for me. He came back a few minutes later with a medical kit.

"Really Angel, I am fine, you don't have to do this for me. I just need to get some sleep and it'll be fine," I tried to argue with him as Adam laughed at my attempts from the doorway. B had gone to shower after getting completely filthy from the fight and the mud pit she was thrown in.

"If you can tell me that this doesn't hurt then I won't do anything more," Angel told me and grabbed my knee kinda harshly. I immediately shot forward to move him off of me and groaned in pain.

"Fine asshole," I ground out and fell back against the couch. I didn't want him to cater to me at the moment all I wanted was to go take a hot bath and relax my body and then sleep off my injuries.

"I am going to get you cleaned up and then we are going to get you into a hot bath for a little while to relax your muscles and then when you are a little more relaxed I will wrap up your leg and work out all the kinks. Sound like a good plan to you?"

"Whatever you think is best Angel," I snidely shot back at him, just hoping that he would leave me alone soon. My leg was killing me and I just wanted to be alone to deal with the pain.

"This is probably going to sting a little but whatever they hit you with certainly left a mark," Angel told me about a second before putting alcohol on my open cuts and I hissed in pain and then dug my fingernails into my palms in an attempt to keep quiet. He cleaned my cuts and scrapes with a surprising gentleness that only he could possess when it came to me. After he got them all thoroughly cleaned he threw out the dirty things and packed up the med kit.

"Arms around my neck," Angel told me as he squatted down next to me and put on arm under my stretched out legs. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he lifted me off the couch and carried me wordlessly into Adam's bedroom and into the bathroom that held the whirlpool bathtub I would be using. He sat me on the toilet and started to run hot water. He added bubbles into the mix and then turned to look at me.

"Let me guess this is my cue to strip. So what do you want me in Angel? Absolutely nothing? Completely naked?"

"Faith lay off. Whatever you are comfortable in will work for me. Do whatever you want Faith, you always do."

"I will," I snapped at him. I pushed myself up to my feet and yanked off my shirt, leaving me in my bra. My shorts were next to come off of me almost causing me to fall on my face in the floor, but I managed to keep my balance. I stood there in my bra and thong and waited for him to get done with the water in the tub. When he was done he helped me into the tub so I wouldn't slip and fall. I eased into the hot water and sighed as it enveloped my body. I sat in my bath for 10 minutes before Angel grabbed my leg jarring me out of my relaxation. I jumped a little and he held onto my leg to help work out the tension and bruises that covered it. He massaged my leg for a good 20 minutes and then as the water turned cold he let my leg go.

"You are pruning, time to get out," he told me as he pulled the plug to drain the water. He helped me out of the tub and wrapped me in a big fluffy towel. After I was mostly dry he allowed me to hobble to what I claimed as my bedroom in the house.

"You need help changing?" He asked me gently.

"You want to help?" I shot back and smirked at him. He smiled slowly at me and then shook his head.

"I'll be right outside the door. Let me know when you are dressed or if you need help," Angel to me and headed out the door shutting it behind him. I dropped the towel and managed to pull of my soaking wet bra and thong and then dried myself off again before putting on clean and dry underwear and clothes. I had changed into the sleep bottoms I had stolen from Adam and a tank of my own. I hobbled over to the door as I pulled on my tank top and opened it to find Angel leaning up against the wall across from the door. He had ice and ace bandages in his hands.

"You mind if I come in? Or do you want to attempt to sleep off that injury?" Angel asked, concern in his voice.

"You can come in and if I fall asleep in your presence don't take it personally," I told him and he laughed at me for a moment.

"I'll try hard not to," he mumbled as he came into the room and shut the door firmly behind him. I crawled into the bed that B and I had been sharing this entire time. He pulled up the pant leg on my left leg and put the ice on the swollen parts and wrapped it up with the ace bandages. Angel then helped me get the covers over my body comfortably

"So what brings you here to spend time with me?" I asked him after he was done and he just smiled at me.

"I told you we had to talk and after the comment you made during the talk tonight and the events that happened at the fight tonight we really need to talk."

"I never pegged you as the person to volunteer for a talk," I sarcastically threw at him and he smiled at me gently not caring that I was making fun of him.

"Yeah well people change Faith. You should know and understand that."

"I do."

"I'm truly sorry that I left you in that jail cell all by yourself," Angel told me as he sat down on the side of the bed next to my hips facing me, putting one hand over my thighs and effectively trapping me on the bed underneath him. "I'm sorry that I couldn't be there to keep you sane and help you out when things got too rough. You have every right to hate me and I wouldn't expect anything less than that from you at this point.
"I tried to save Darla when she came back in human form. I really did. I did everything that I could to help her, to make sure that death wouldn't take her, and make sure that she was given the chance to live a normal life. I should have realized that things I love and try to help usually end up broken and hurt in the end. I couldn't save her when Dru came to change her and I couldn't save her once she was a vampire again. I couldn't seem to get it into my head that she was the enemy now and not the innocent human that W&H brought back into this world.
"I suppose that I can apologize until the end of time about leaving you and deserting you but in the end it all comes down to whether you believe me or not, whether you trust that I wouldn't lie to you Faith."

"You left me alone in there. You convinced me it was the right thing to do to go to jail and suffer the consequences for what I did. You also promised me that if I made that decision then I wouldn't ever be alone, you would be right there beside me throughout the entire sentencing. I hated you so much for breaking that promise to me. I hated you with everything I had in me and yet for some reason I knew that the minute that I saw you or talked to you that all that hate would disappear and I would forgive you without an explanation – just like that. I'm weak without you Angel and I hate that I have found that out about myself. It makes me vulnerable. Weaknesses are usually the death of Slayers and I don't want you to be the cause of my death because somewhere deep down inside me I know that somehow you will be.
"I understand the dilemma that you had when Darla was brought back as a human and when she was changed into a vampire. I can sort of understand why you just wanted to be alone and why everything you had was put into her. I understand that Angel, I really do. But what I haven't figured out yet is why after she was dead you left. You didn't make sure that I was still alive after that fall out the window and you didn't stick around to let me see you when I came out of the coma I was in. I hate you for that still, I really do. I woke up more alone that day then I ever have in my life. I had no idea whether you were dead or alive. I didn't know anything Angel and that scared me more than anything else has ever scared me in my life. The gang didn't know whether you were alive or not either, I mean you left nothing to prove that you were still in existence you just left again. You are really fucking good at that Angel, you really are.
"So I hate you for that Angel. I still do. I have been out of my coma for roughly 10 months now and everyday I wake up praying to find you because when I did I promised myself that I wouldn't give in to your face or your charm or you. I promised myself that I would be strong and hate you like I have for every one of those days since you left me in jail alone. I hate that I can't hate you…I hate it," I told him angrily. I refused to meet his eyes at the moment because the emotions running through my body were really powerful.

"Why do you hate me? Because I left you to become strong for the both of us later, for us now?" Angel asked me so quietly I almost didn't hear him.

"Excuse me?" I asked him in disbelief.

"I couldn't be the man you needed me to be when the thing with Darla came up. I knew that you would be fine and I knew that I had left enough clues to let Cordelia know that I had been visiting you and that you were a possible link to me. I was banking on the fact that she would see you and keep coming back to visit you and then she would become the rock that you held onto and I was completely right. I couldn't do anything substantial for you while I was an emotional wreck. Darla stirred up things in me that I didn't know still existed. I wasn't prepared for them and I certainly didn't know how to handle them at all. I couldn't be unstable around you. It was better, in my opinion, for me not to be around you then to be unstable for you…for us," Angel admitted to me.

"What is with this 'for us' bullshit Angel? We aren't together! You don't care for me more than some little lost human soul you are saving. I'm not your girlfriend Angel – there is no 'us'!" I snapped at him, locking eyes with him over this argument.

"There could be Faith. If the situation was different…if things were different…if events hadn't transpired that actually did…then things between the two of us could have been different and I think that you know that."

"You mean if you hadn't already done the dating the Slayer charade and if your Sire hadn't come back into existence then we would have had a chance? Is that what you are saying? I don't play by what ifs Angel. What's done is done and neither one of us can do anything to change that. Things are the way they are going to always be. Nothing will go back and erase the past and change it. What's done is done Angel…you of all people should know that. We can't change who we are or what we have done!" I explained to him and he just smirked a little.

"You are definitely hard headed aren't you? You always think that you are missing out on something that Buffy had, aren't you? She had the perfect little family with the Mom that loved her, the perfect little circle of friends that would die for her, the perfect Watcher that loved her and would do anything under the sun for her, and the perfect little vampire boyfriend who worshipped her and killed his own for her. She was worshipped for her heroism and world renown and what were you? The replacement Slayer to Kendra who was the replacement to Buffy, who after all this time and two new Slayers, still isn't dead. You are just afraid you are going to be in Buffy's shadow all the time right? You are afraid that all you are ever going to get is Buffy's sloppy seconds? That it Faith?" Angel asked me, suddenly angry and confrontational. I wasn't sure what to make of this new vocal and insightful Angel. Things over the past few years had changed him from the quiet, brooding vampire to the expressive, emotional one he was today.

"I'm not afraid of anything Angel certainly not of being second best to Buffy. I am my own person, not her replacement. I'm Faith the Slayer. She died because she wasn't perfect and so I was called. I'm not beneath her, hear me, I'm not under her!" I snapped angrily at him and tried to push him away from me but he held his ground firmly.

"If you aren't afraid then why are you getting hostile Faith? If you honestly didn't question yourself and your status compared to Buffy then why would you defend yourself?"

"I hate you Angel. Stay away from me ok? Just leave me alone all right? I was doing just fine, we were doing just fine, while you were off finding yourself for whatever reason you decided this century to find yourself. I don't need you to be strong for me – I am strong enough for myself now. Cordelia plays guardian to me right now; you aren't needed --understood. You can play strong for someone else and pretend you have something with someone else…perhaps they will believe you when you tell them you have an 'us' with them," I snapped angrily at Angel. He was really making me pissed as hell right now. He was throwing all the insecurities I had back into my face after I finally gotten past them and moved on.

"Do you hate me honestly Faith? Or do you love me?" He asked me.

"I hate you," I quickly shot out of my mouth and then slid out from under him on the bed. I stood and looked back at him and his eyes showed true hurt. "Because I love you," I quietly admitted to him and then headed towards the door to leave the room. I planned on heading to Gunn and Cordy's room and climbing into bed with them and letting them hold me tightly and tell me everything was going to be ok, but I didn't even make it to the door. Angel was between the door and me almost instantly and I was a little shocked at the speed at which he moved.

"Say it again," he told me gently as he lifted up my chin gently to look down into my eyes.

"I hate you," I told him and he frowned a little and his hand dropped from my face. "Because I love you," I added quietly while keeping eye contact with him. "I always have, probably always will. I know it is a false hope, a dream, but it is what keeps me alive Angel."

"You love me?" Angel asked me quietly and returned his hand to my face, cupping his hand around one side.

"Yeah," I quietly muttered and then tried to move out of his embrace. This was too powerful for me and I really wasn't ready for this kind of intimacy.

"Good," he responded after a second.

"That is all you have to say to that?" I asked him, shocked. "I bare my soul and all you have to say is 'good'?"

"I'm flattered. I don't know what to say to you in response that you would believe. If I told you that I loved you back right now you would think I was just saying it to make you feel better and less out of place. So I'm not going to say it now Faith, I'll save it for another time when you aren't expecting to hear it in response. Then, in that moment, it will mean something to you," Angel responded and I looked up at him and smiled a genuine smile.

"Promise?" I asked of him.

"Always and forever," he responded and then motioned to the bed. "Right now you need to get some sleep and rest that leg. We'll talk about this later when the timing is better," he suggested to me and I just nodded to him and he helped me back into the bed, under the covers and such. After he tucked me in he bent down and quickly kissed my forehead and whispered "sweet dreams" before he turned to leave the room.

"Stay with me…" I called out as he reached for the doorknob. I saw him hesitate and then turn back to look at me through the darkness of the room.

"Why Faith, afraid of the dark?" He teased me gently, attempting to take the edge off the seriousness of the request I had just asked of him.

"Yeah the vampire slayer who was afraid of the dark…" I laughed a little and then my smile died. "Stay Angel," I asked of him again. He didn't answer me but he did come back to the other side of the bed. I felt the mattress shift as he sat down to take off his shoes.

"I'm going to go change and then I'll be right back ok? I just want to throw on more comfortable clothes," Angel explained to me as he rose from the bed.

"Screw the comfortable the clothes Angel, just stay. Sleep naked for all I care, just stay with me," I begged him. I heard rustling as clothes were being pulled off. He took off his over-shirt and his socks and then he pulled back the covers on his side of the bed and climbed in next to me, but not touching me. When I woke up several hours later it was late morning, perhaps noon even and I was securely held in Angel's arms. I knew from that moment on that things would be ok between Angel and myself. I knew that Angel was coming back to LA, back to Angel Investigations, and back to me.

***********

Over the next two years…

Angel and I both were happy working together. I had moved out of Cordelia's place about 6 months after we all returned to LA with Angel. Gunn had moved in with her long ago and it was only fair that the two lovers had their own place without me in the room next to their bedroom. When I initially moved into Angel's hotel I moved into my own room and bed. After living in the hotel with Angel a few rooms down the hall for a month we just gave up and I moved all my possessions that I had collected over the past few years into his room. I joined him in his bed as well. We found that the closer we got the better our slaying got as well. We moved as one when we fought in battle. We didn't have to ask the other what the next move was, we just acted knowing the other one would know what we were doing and why. We had it down to a science. Fighting side by side every night against the forces of darkness and then we came back to the hotel and would work relax in each other's company. Sex with Angel was my favorite way to relax after hard night of fighting. Angel and I became pretty much inseparable about 4 months after Angel moved back to LA. It took me awhile to trust him again and to completely believe that he wasn't going to abandon me again. But once that trust issue was secured on both of our sides we were side by side all the time practically. The only time that we weren't together, which wasn't often as more clientele came in, was when Cordy and I went shopping. We had a blast shopping with each other. And we were both fond of spending Angel's money. Oz and Lindsay had moved into the hotel in an extra room about 5 months after I did. It was good to have live company.

**********

Friday, August 13th, 2004

I awoke that morning with a groan as the first rays of sunlight came into the bedroom in the far corner. I tried to roll over but I was trapped underneath Angel's arm that was thrown haphazardly over my body in a vague attempt at security and possession even when we were both asleep. Angel and I had just gotten in roughly 3 hours ago from fighting a group of demons on the East Dock that were threatening the dock crew and watermen there. We had to take them all down and then take care of the disposal of their dead bodies. It wasn't a fun night overall. I had gotten a royal ass kicking from some of them because I had gone in there unprepared for the damage they could do to me. I slid out from underneath of Angel and gracelessly got out of the bed and stretched. I looked up at my arms while I stretched out and saw multiple bruises covering both my arms and then I looked down further to see bruises along my upper torso. I had no idea last night when I headed out with Angel that I would encountering demons that like to fight with ancient wooden – but felt like stone – clubs. I can only dodge so much as the Slayer and with multiple demons swinging clubs it equaled a bruised Faith. I would heal, in a day or so the bruises would all be gone, but until then I was going to look like a beat up rag doll. I stretched again trying to get the tension out of my body. It wasn't a muscle tension, but one of those 'Cordy had a vision something is going to happen' tensions. I wanted to make sure to talk to Cordelia when she came to get me this morning about her vision. I pulled off the shirt I had l pulled on to sleep in and walked into the bathroom to shower. As I washed off my body the water pooling at the bottom turned different colors as the blood, dirt, and demon residue washed off my body. I washed my hair really well and made sure to scrub all of my body to get whatever still was on there off. I shut off the shower and wrung out my hair before reaching blindly to get the towel on the other side of the shower curtain. I grabbed the towel and dried off as I headed out of the steamy bathroom and into the bedroom. It still never failed to amuse me as to how Angel could sleep through all of my morning routine. I pulled on training sweats and a tank top and continued to dry my hair as I walked back to the bathroom. I hung my towel over the drying rack in there and pulled my hair haphazardly into a ponytail. As I checked my watch I noticed Cordy would be here any minute to pick me up. I grabbed my set of keys to the hotel, my cell and my wallet and stuffed them all into my bag. I dropped a quick kiss on Angel's lips before I headed out of the bedroom and down to the main lobby to meet Cordy. She was coming in through the garage door as I came down the main staircase. She was immediately went to her computer and turned it on and started checking messages on the machine while I headed into the kitchen to grab a couple breakfast bars for the two of us. I walked back out to the lobby and addressed her finally.

"Hey," I said to her.

"Hey yourself…your mocha is on the counter," She said to me and I nodded more to myself then to her since she hadn't looked up from her desk. "On the left," she added before I even thought about which one was mine.

"Thanks Cordy," I responded as I grabbed my cup and took a tentative sip to test the temperature.

"No problem Faith. You ready?" She asked me finally looking up at me once she was done with the answering machine.

"Yeah," I mutter distracted as I look over the newspaper. Fortunately there was no mention of the fight Angel and I had been in last night.

"You look like shit," she suddenly said and I realized this must have been the first time she looked at me this morning.

"Well…um…basically I got clubbed excessively last night by an angry assortment of demons. I didn't even look at my face – that bad?" I grin sheepishly.

"Here," she said and pulled the compact out of her bag and handed it to me. I looked at my face and frowned deeply.

"Bad isn't really a good descriptive word for my face."

"No shit. Lets roll though, no need to be late and cause even more attention to you."

"Thanks," I teased as I tossed the compact at her and grabbed my coffee. We locked the garage door behind us and got into Cordelia's car. She drove us to the gym where we went every Friday morning for our Tae-Bo and Yoga classes.

After the classes we headed out to lunch. We always went to Wittingham's and it was no surprise they had a table reserved and waiting for us even during the busy lunch hour. Provided there were no mind-numbing vision Cordelia and I had off every Friday to do our girl thing together. We walked in past the line of people waiting to get their name on the waiting list and get seated. Ronald – the usual Friday day host – was waiting at the podium taking names and seating people as tables were available. He smiled to us, immediately ignoring the people before him.

"Ahh Ms. Cordelia and Ms. Faith your table awaits you. Please seat yourselves and excuse my rudeness for not seating you myself," Ronald greeted us.

"Thanks Ronald. It's no problem, I answered and we headed to our normal table while complaints were heard from the people in line. We sat down and looked out the window at passing people and waiting customers. We ended up with a new waitress who didn't automatically know our order. It was amusing to say the least at how she was edgy around us. Mr. Wittingham came up to us mid-meal.

"Hello ladies," a deep male voice jerked us out of our conversation.

"Hi Mr. Witt," we both said simultaneously.

"How are you? How was the gym this morning?"

"We are good; the gym was great," Cordy answered and I smiled.

"And you?" I added – our usual pattern.

"I'm still here thankfully," he answered and cast us a knowing smile.

"Always good to know," I commented.

"How is the meal? Is Rebecca treating you well?"

"The food is exceptional as always and Rebecca is doing great. She seems nervous," Cordy answered.

"She is terrified. When she asked why the 2 top in her section wasn't say with all these people Melizza explained it to her. She almost freaked and didn't want to have to the position to wait on you. So treat her well," he explained and we laughed at that one.

"We will, don't worry," Cordy assured him.

"Well take care ladies. I'll see you next week," he told us and we said our goodbyes and he left our table. When the bill came we signed our names and left her a 50% cash tip. She came back for the check and looked at it, confused.

"Mr. Wittingham pays for our lunch. We just sign it and leave your tip. You can ask him and we'll hang out to make sure you feel comfortable," Cordelia suggested. She hesitated but left and came back a little later.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know about that," she apologized.

"No worries Rebecca. Take your tip and have an amazing day!" I suggested to her as we rose from our seats.

"This tip is too much."

"No – its right. Have a good day Rebecca. Perhaps we'll see you next Friday."

"Could you answer me one question before you leave?"

"Yeah what?"

"Why do you two get free meals and a special table?"

"Faith and I have been coming here for a little over a year. We teach a couple classes at the gym ever Friday morning. So, one morning on the way over here, it was our first time here, and this guy comes in the place and tries to rob Mr. Witt. So Faith jumps him, kicks the shit out of him, saves the restaurant, and holds onto him until the police get here. Since we have been invited to come whenever, but we always come on Friday for lunch after our classes. So we have been back ever since then and its like a weekly routine. Without my weekly fix of Wittingham's I get a little cranky," Cordelia rehashed the story to the waitress. There was a picture of us with Mr. Witt right after the police hauled the kid away. Cordy and I were all scruffy from our class, like we usually are when we come here, and he was dressed all nice…it was quite the difference.

"Really?"

"Really," I answered and smiled at her. "See you later Rebecca," I told her and took Cordy's hand as we headed out of the restaurant. We walked down the street back towards the parking garage where we had parked the car, still holding hands, window-shopping as we went. We headed back to the hotel to shower and change into normal street clothes. Cordelia headed to her bedroom at the hotel to shower and get dressed for work, while I headed into kitchen to warm up a mug of blood to take up to Angel. Lindsay was cooking lunch in there when I entered.

"Hey," I said to him and he smiled.

"How was the workout session and lunch?" Lindsay asked me.

"Great as always. What are you making?" I asked him as I grabbed a container of blood out of the refrigerator and poured some of it into a microwave-safe tall mug.

"Lunch for Wes, Oz, and myself. Angel is still asleep from what I know and Gunn is coming over after he takes care of some errands, probably around 4 or so," Lindsay updated me. The microwave dinged, signaling it was done with Angel's blood.

"Thanks for the rundown Linds…I'll catch up with you all later. If you really need me or Angel and I do mean *really need* either of us you know where to find us," I told him as I grabbed the mug out of the microwave and a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and headed up the stairs to my room.

"Later Faith. Have fun," I heard him call after me as I exited the kitchen. I only smiled. This was also a Friday ritual for me as well. I would come up here every Friday afternoon and wake Angel up for breakfast, for him, in bed. I opened the door to my bedroom and quietly snuck in and locked it behind me. I headed over to the bed and set my water bottle down on a coaster on the nightstand and then dipped my fingers into the blood in the mug and then went to rub them over Angel's lips. He surprised me, like he usually does cause I can't tell usually when he's asleep and when he's awake, and latched onto my fingers with his lips and reached out with him arms to grab me and yanked me onto the bed with him. I had filled the mug pretty full and when he yanked me some of it sloshed over the side of the mug and onto the sheets, onto me and onto Angel. It wasn't hot but it was definitely warm and did burn a little.

"Shit, I didn't realize it was that full. You ok?" He asked me as he looked at my now bloody hands and arm.

"I'm fine, it just was a little warm, but I'm fine. Morning sleepy," I answered and bent down to kiss him.

"Morning Faith," he replied after the kiss and then took the mug from my hands and set it on another coaster on the stand and then licked the blood off my hands and arm. He still had blood on his chest and it was starting to congeal and it was icky. I took off my tank top, leaving me in my sports bra, and wiped off his chest and then tossed my top to the end of the bed carelessly.

"How was work and lunch?"

"Good."

"You are hurt," he said after he took a better look at my face and my arms.

"Yeah well, what else is new? You don't look so hot yourself."

"Thanks, really, you make my ego sail here."

"It should've. I enjoy making fun of you Angel."

"Glad to hear it," he answered. "All this from last night?"

"Yeah," I answered quietly as I looked over my bruised arms.

"I noticed you weren't exactly on your game last night. Any reason why?"

"No real reason. I just didn't kick ass like I normally do. I haven't been feeling that well since yesterday morning. I think I might have the flu or a cold. I'll go get looked at tomorrow."

"Tomorrow is Saturday."

"My clinic is open 24/7. I'll be ok till tomorrow." I told him honestly.

"Swear?"

"I swear," I replied and grabbed his mug off the stand. "Drink up. It'll help fix your face," I teased him. He sat up and drank his blood while I laid back relaxing on the bed in his presence.

"All done Mom," Angel teased me and got up out of the bed.

"Good now go brush your teeth and get your ass back into bed and ravish me," I instructed him. He mouthed 'ravish me' to me and laughed a little but headed straight to the bathroom.

**********

After Angel and I got done 'ravishing' each other we showered and we headed downstairs. I was in stonewashed low-riding jeans with a yellow midriff baring tank top while he was in black sweatpants and a black wife-beater (tank top) for the time being. Lindsay and Oz were handling a couple at the conference area of the lobby. Wes and Cordy were researching something – Wes the books and Cordy the net. Angel and I immediately looked at them for directions.

"They just came in about 15 minutes ago. It wasn't an emergency so we let Lindsay and Oz handle the preliminary stuff. Something to do with vampires kidnapping their daughter, " Cordy answered.

"When, where?" Angel asked as I hopped up on the counter.

"No idea – that is what Oz and Lindsay are getting right now from them."

"What can I do?

"Take a seat like Faith and we'll let you know when you get to go out on the hunt," she answered and Angel growled a little at her and then left the lobby heading towards the weapon supply room.

"So these the people the vision was about?" I asked her. She looked up at me, as did Wes.

"Vision?" Cordy questioned with a raised perfectly shaped eyebrow.

"Yeah the vision you got this morning," I answered looking at her like she was crazy.

"There was no vision this morning. Why did you think I had one?"

"I guess Slayer intuition along with living with you for so long I just get this vibe whenever you get a vision. So no vision then?"

"None."

"I don't get it then. I have one of those feelings though. The something bad is gonna happen kind."

"Perhaps you are tapping into something else all together Faith. Perhaps a delayed feeling from last night or an anxiety over tonight being Friday the 13th," Wesley suggested.

"I don't know Wes. I just have bad tension feeling here. And on top of that I feel like shit. I think I am coming down with something," I replied as the group rose and headed over to us.

"Good you are here," Lindsay said to me and I nodded to him.

"Yep," I answered as I hopped down from the counter.

"Where's Angel?" The woman abruptly asked.

"Weapons room," I answered but stuck out my hand. "I'm Faith. I am also in charge of handling these matters," I introduced myself.

"You are Faith. Lindsay, you said Faith was the best. Look at her. She's all bruised and a girl." The woman ranted.

"A girl? I'm not just a girl. I'm the Slayer, the Slayer. It is my duty, my job to kill vampires and demons."

"You are beaten up."

"I got clubbed excessively last night by a group of stone club toting demons. They are dead, I'm alive, think about that," I snapped back at the woman.

"Enough Faith," Angel stated angrily form the doorway.

"Yes Master," I snapped back at Angel as I left the couple and headed around on the other side of the counter to look up the demons from last night and log my encounter. I ignored the conversation from then no as I grabbed a book to look for the demons we had taken out last night.

"Faith, you wanna explain?" Angel asked me in a normal voice, but I could tell he was pissed, after the couple left the hotel.

"No."

"NO? You snapped at clients."

"They mocked me."

"Deal Faith. Most people aren't going to think a girl could do this job. Don't go off on them. Just do your job!" Angel snapped at me. I got beyond angry over that last comment and grabbed a stake off the desk next to me and launched it angrily at him. He caught it an inch before it would have connected with his chest and then his heart.

"You just stopped me from doing my job. Next time you tell me to do it, I will finish it," I hissed and went back to my book. No one said anything even after Angel slammed the door to his office. I found my demons and logged them and the encounter into the daily log we kept. Ten minutes after I got the information in the computer Angel came out of his office with an unreadable face.

"Faith in my office now," Angel calmly stated and I just ignored him.

"Faith…" Cordy started.

"Stay out of this Cordelia!" Angel angrily hissed at her and she lowered her head back to her computer. "Faith stop acting like a three year old and get in my office right now. I don't have the time or patience to deal with your shit," Angel tired snapped at me. I set down the books I was looking at and headed silently into Angel's office. He shut the door firmly behind him after he followed me in. I sat down at the chair across from his desk chair. Angel sat down in his chair a few minutes later and played with the stake I had thrown at him earlier. We sat there in silence for a good ten minutes. Finally Angel broke the silence.

"You almost put a stake through my heart," Angel quietly said to me.

"I knew you would catch it," I told him. "You knew I would do it and you were ready for it."

"What if I didn't Faith?"

"I would rather not think about that," I softly admitted.

"Well I did and I still am Faith. You could have killed me because of your anger." I didn't say anything in defense because nothing I could say would justify what I had done. "Do you even care?"

"Of course I care Angel."

"You have a fucking hilarious way of showing it Faith!" Angel screamed at me. I sat there and took it. "You were way out of line today Faith. Way! You snapped at clients, Faith, people that have come here for help! You pitched a fit with her, talked back to me in front of them and in front of my crew and you threw a fucking wooden stake at my heart. A wooden stake at my heart! Not only did you try to kill me but you tried to kill your boss." Angel finished yelling for the moment and took a moment to regroup his thoughts. "Do you not care about me as your lover or as your boss? Do you even respect me as your boss at all? You need to learn to respect me and my position as your superior."

"Fuck you. You aren't my superior. Perhaps you are my equal but not my superior in anything Angel. Wesley is my Watcher and as far as I'm concerned he is my boss – my superior!" I angrily shot back at him and hurt crossed his face for a second before he got his face back to an unreadable expression.

"Really? Don't hold back; tell me how you really feel Faith."

"We went into this with the understanding that we were equals…you and I no better or higher than the other. That was not only the deal for the business but for our relationship as well. I don't like feeling like I am the weaker one of the business or the relationship Angel, but you tend to treat me like that without even realizing it. I am the fucking Slayer. It is my duty, my destiny to go out there and fight the darkness. It is my duty to stake all vampires but instead I am in love with one and consider him to be the man of my dreams. I am going against my nature by hunting with you, by not killing you, by dating you, and mostly by loving you. I shouldn't be looking up to you as my boss or my superior Angel you are my equal, nothing more nothing less. Wesley is in charge of Angel Investigations despite you having the founding name. You know that as well as I do. You both have offices and even though you are the muscle of this group you aren't the boss, you aren't the leader, you are just a worker in this place. You need to remember that Wes calls the shots and we just follow orders," I told him with no hostility in my voice. He continued to look at me with no expression on his face. "I am going to go now Angel. When you want to talk on a one on one basis where we are equals not you as trying to be my boss then come and find me. Until then don't try to be boss ever again. I am my own person. I have survived myself for years before you came into my life, even after you came and left my life, and I can survive without you now. Don't try to pull rank with me ever again or I might not be here the next time you wake up Angel," I told him as I rose from the chair. I walked out of his office without him attempting to stop me or call me back. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I closed his office door behind me and I heard something hit the wall and shatter behind me causing me to jump a little and the gang looked up at me.

"Faith…" Cordy started and then trailed off as something else hit the wall behind me again, shattering and showering down on the floor.

"He'll work it out and clean up his mess," I told her as I moved away from the door.

"What was that all about?"

"He tried to pull rank with me and I wouldn't let him. I know that he is Angel of Angel Investigations but Wesley is our leader here and I'm not going to let him pull rank over me here or in our relationship. It isn't something that I will ever let happen. I am very much my own person and to have been with Angel as long as I have in itself is a feat, but I won't allow myself to slip below him. I just won't," I explained to them and they just nodded to me.

"You up for heading over to the people's house to look for some clues about the abduction of their daughter with Wesley?" Cordelia asked me gently.

"Sounds great. Let me grab my keys to the bike…" I started and then looked back at the office where silence had taken over and then back at Wes. "Perhaps I'll get the keys out of there at another time. Wes, you up for driving?" He nodded and smiled a soft smile to me that I was grateful for.

Wes and I headed out to do a little recon about the missing girl and the vampires that took her. Turns out when we get to the address she gave us that no one is there. So we break in to take a look at the place and we walk into a huge vampire nest. It wasn't anything we were prepared to walk into but we made the best out of the situation and after snooping around and making sure there were no humans in the place we torched it and burned it and all the vampires to the ground. There were way too many for Wes and me to take out by ourselves and by the time back up could get there they would probably be waking up for sunset. So we torched it and guarded the sides to make sure that they didn't get away until the firefighters arrived and attempted to put out a magical fire that wouldn't go out until the house was burned down to the foundation it stood on, promising that the vampires were all dusted properly. We came back to the hotel a little after dark to be greeted by Cordelia alone.

"You are alone here on Friday the 13th? You got balls girl!" I teased her and she just smiled at me.

"I guess I got that vision that you assuming I had this morning and Angel and Gunn went out to get to killing the evil that I saw. So they left like an hour ago and should be back soon. How did the house fire go?" Cordelia informed me. The idea that she had the vision should have been enough for me to calm my nerves but it didn't, as it should have. I just shook off that thought and figured after Angel and Gunn returned safely that I would feel better. I sneezed as I moved aside a pile of books so that I could sit up on the counter.

"The fire was great, warming on a hot LA night. As far as Wes and I could tell all the vamps are dead. I think we were set up," I told her and she grinned.

"You think? They wanted Angel to go alone. I don't like the thought that two humans came in here and got to know us and our operation and know that you were the Slayer. It bothers me a lot," Cordelia admitted and I nodded in agreement.

"So where are Oz and Linds then?" I asked her.

"Er…" she just said and I smiled brightly and she shook her head. "I don't get those two. Oz hardly ever showed emotion when he was in high school and even with Willow but with Lindsay he is all mushy. It just unnerves me sometimes," she said to me and I just smiled at her. Memories of her high school life I couldn't relate to. She and Oz had a tiny bond over that experience in their liver, but due to the difference circles they ran in their lives hardly ever passed until Buffy Summers came to Sunnydale.

"They are cute and you know it. They are so cute that it makes you jealous," I teased her.

"They have a great thing going. I would have never pegged either of them together but with someone like the other, but they are great together. They calm the beasts in each other so well," she told me and I nodded.

"I'm hungry," Wesley, stated out of the blue attempting to change the subject off of the dating couple we were discussing.

"Chinese?" Cordelia asked, smiling.

"Do you even need to ask?" I questioned in return and she smiled.

"I'll get changed and grab some money, Cordelia put in the usual order. We'll go grab it and hopefully Gunn and Angel will be back before the food," Wes said and headed into the bathroom on the floor to get cleaned up from the fire. Cordy speed dialed our favorite Chinese take out place and told them it was her and she wanted the usual order for Angel Investigations and hung up. We had Chinese at least once a week on a slow week. Wes came out 5 minutes later ready to go get dinner.

"Cordelia—you coming with me?"

"As always. Faith you don't mind waiting here for Angel and Gunn do you?" Cordelia asked as she grabbed her purse. Cordelia and Wesley always went to get Chinese, just the two of them. It was an old habit left over from the days when Angel left them and it was just Cordelia and Wesley with slight help from Gunn.

"I got it. Go," I told them and Cordelia planted a quick goodbye kiss on my lips before she left and they both threw a haphazard wave over their shoulders as they headed out the back door towards the garage.



Continued