The Vulnerability of Faith


by Demona


***********

Cordelia and Spike headed off to the guest bedroom where she had been guarding earlier.

"Thanks Cordelia. I owe you so much. I only hope you can realize the magnitude of gratitude I owe you," Spike softly told her.

"I know and realize. I wouldn't have done what I did if I didn't believe it was right. You deserved the time you needed with Faith. I'm not one to deny you that at all. I've watched you help my bestfriend through situations I couldn't even begin to comprehend. You are amazing to her Spike. I couldn't ask for a better friend for her," Cordelia answered truthfully and Spike nodded.

"Thanks luv, I'll always remember how great you treated me despite the fact I am what I am."

"You are a brave man. I have grown to love your awful poetry and constant sarcastic remarks. You are a truly great man bound to the body of a demon beast. I'm glad that B was able to tame you."

"Whys that luv?"

"Because if B didn't come along and cause you to fall in love with her then I know when you and Faith met for the first time things would not be pleasant. You two are too much alike Spike. You both allow your emotions and feelings to rule your lives at all costs. If you two had ever gotten together God help us all. The chaos you two would have caused would have been astronomical." Spike laughed after her speech.

"She wouldn't have wanted me."

"Then you know so little about her Spike. She's a bad girl, a total renegade. Just because she has Angel doesn't make her good Spike. The nights she spent with you were her glory nights and you know that. The two of you would beat the hell out of whatever crossed your path. She would come back bruised and injured but the fire in her eyes let me know she was ok and alive than she was when she left. When she fought with Angel it was a choreographed battle. With you Spike, with you it was an adventure. She never knew what awaited her when you came. Two reckless time bombs. You two did damage and she loved every second of it."

"I'm not good enough for her though. Together we would have gotten each other killed or done things we would have both regretted later."

"You two are stronger than B and Angel, stronger than you and B and stronger than Angel and Faith. Together you two would have dominated everything."

"We would have either killed each other or got one or both of us killed. Two 'walking time bombs' as you called us are not safe together. I do love her. More than she will ever know or understand. But she isn't Buffy."

"No she isn't."

"I love Buffy. I can't love Faith like I love Buffy."

"For that I'm sorry for you. Perhaps I'm biased to my bestfriend but Faith is a far better person than Buffy, to me."

"I know that Cordelia. But Buffy balances me like Angel balances Faith. You know that is true."

"Angel loves Buffy."

"He thinks he does. He is really in love with the idea of Buffy. The Slayer. The idea that he slept with the Slayer."

"But Faith…"

"The replacement Slayer. I'll let you in on a little secret pet. Angel is crazy if he chooses Buffy over Faith. The only regret I have about dating Buffy rather than Faith is the sex. Faith is much better in bed, much," Spike whispered to Cordelia and winked at her.

"You two? When? I thought…. She told me that you never…" she stuttered and trailed off hurt evident in her voice.

"It was a secret we both agreed to take to the grave. She came to Sunnydale at dawn, broke into my apartment and tossed me out of bed. It took me a minute to realize I was getting the shit kicked out of me before I punched her back. I didn't realize it was her until a few seconds later when I smelled her. We beat the shit out of each other. I ended up at the end on the floor of my bedroom next to my bed with her on top of me with a stake embedded in my chest almost to my heart. We made eye contact and I saw the fight leave her eyes a second before the tears fell. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't really sure what was going on in that head of hers so I just held her as she sobbed. When her mouth found mine I didn't object because somewhere inside of me I knew that she needed this. She wouldn't have come if she didn't. I have never seen a person switch gears that fast. One minute she is beating the shit out me, the next she is crying on my shoulder, and then she is pure sex, heaving, panting, alive and kicking, sex. At no other point in my life have I had that desire for her.
"We basically attacked each other, clothes were torn to shreds and it was brutal raw honest passionate sex. I have never had any better sex to this day. Dru was no match, Buffy was no match and for sure Harmony was no match. I held her as she slept that day. She told me after she woke up that she had had a vision of her own death while she was sleeping. She wouldn't tell me details but she told me she knew how she died. She said you knew too because you called an hour later to check on her. She knew her death would be soon and she was angry because she and Angel were constantly fighting behind closed doors and she knew they wouldn't be happy before she died. I have never seen her like that. It scared the living hell out of me Cordelia. I saw the innocent girl during that day. The human trapped in the body of a Slayer. I saw a part of Faith no one else has – the part that is afraid of what she is, afraid of death, afraid of life's uncertainties, and a woman who loves Angelus with all her heart and soul. Angel saw a glimpse of that when he saved her in LA, but her eyes are what scared me the most. She looked like a wild caged animal that was desperately trying to find a way out but to no avail. She knew she was stuck with her fate and she hated it and was terrified of what lay ahead of her.
"She returned to LA after she took that night's patrol through Sunnydale with me. We never told anyone, not Angel, Buffy, Giles or you. We never talked about it either. She left after patrol, just got on her bike, mouthed "thank you William" and drove off."

"That was about two months ago I got that vision."

"Sounds about right."

"And you kept if from all of us."

"I had no choice ducks. She didn't talk about it with me so I knew it was a hushed topic. It would have killed both Buffy and Angel to know she and I slept together."

"But you could have let us know. I would have lied to cover her."

"Cordelia…where did she say she went?"

"Her exact and only words on the matter were "to find myself"," Cordelia answered.

"So then she told you the truth. Coming to terms with the fact you are going to die is never pleasant. What did Angel say?"

"Nothing."

"Good."

"I remember her physical appearance that morning when she came back into the hotel. She had bruises all over he body, claw marks down her back, bite marks on her neck. I asked and she said she had a run-in with a pack of vamps that caught her at a bad time mentally. She almost died she said. But that was you. You did all that to her?"

"Yeah I did. I told you that we fought and fucked hard. She wasn't playing around Cordelia. She fought to kill me and I fought to defend myself. She fought to die and I fought to keep her alive. I had to lie to Buffy and Giles the next day about my bruises, cuts, scratches, and bite marks too. Faith was far better off than me."

"It never happened before or again?"

"Never. The closest its come is the night on the couch a few days back."

"So, why tell me now?"

"Because Cordelia we both know I am going to die in a few nights. We both also know that Faith is too. I just wanted to leave you a different piece to remember her by. You know a lot about her, I know that, but well, I never felt I cheated on Buffy, never Cordelia. I just needed to let someone understand why I am the way I am with her. Why I don't really care if I piss off Peaches and why I am going to make sure she makes it through this fight to see another sunrise and sunset. I will give her my life to use when hers is over."

"What?" Cordelia asked in confusion.

"I am leaving blood here with instruction for the witches. Cassandra and Willow know whatever happens in the fight their primary objective despite whatever one they will get from her is to make sure that if she is drained, which I know she will be by Buffy, then they are to make sure they get my blood in her in time to make the change. After she is changed then they also have instructions on how to lock her up and hold her until they can get an Orb of Thesulah and until you can talk to the PTB and make sure her soul stays permanently. That is my final gift to her. I will give her my life because I know that hers will not make it through that night," Spike confessed to Cordelia and she sat there in shock, completely speechless.

"I'm in complete shock. You really do love her don't you?" Cordelia asked completely in awe.

"More than my own life."

"But what about Buffy?"

"I love her more than my life and more than anything else in this world. But my Buffy is dead. The thing running around with her face and her body isn't her. Faith is my concern right now. Angelus is in a bit of a bind. He doesn't realize what the hell he is about to walk out on and I'm not going to beat it into him because well, I can't. I promised her and myself that day as she slept in my arms after crying herself to sleep that I would watch over her for as long as she lived. I would make sure that she was protected throughout life. I know that she will die, but I intend to keep her and Peaches together a little longer than that."

"You don't have to die you know that right?"

"Would you want to go through life with no hands, no genitals, one eye, and missing the love of your life?" Spike asked.

"No, I wouldn't want that," Cordy answered sadly.

"I didn't think so. I really appreciate the fact you want me to stick around pet, I do, but I am going to go join Buffy and beg her not to kick my ass when I tell her the complete truth about my relationship with Faith. I'll be fine though luv, I'll be fine," Spike said and threw an arm around Cordy's shoulders pulling her close to him. The two of them sat down on the bed in the guest room and watched out the window waiting for a possible attack that would never come.

The rest of the night went by uneventfully. I hung out with Gunn the whole night and B never showed. I didn't really expect her to show considering she knew that she would be at a tactical disadvantage by attacking a house full of people that wanted her dead. Gunn changed my bandage before I fell asleep in his arms in the living room. He held me on the couch as we both slept as the sun crept up over the horizon.

***********

I awoke around noon to the smell of food cooking in the house. People were awake and milling around the house conversing in different groups. This wasn't the same tense group that I had witnessed last night. I got up off the couch and headed out of the living room to join everyone else. Angel and Spike were laughing about something as they stood in the dining room area. I was in complete shock because when I had gone to bed I was pretty sure that Spike and Angel were not talking. I paused in the doorway and blinked a few times to make sure that I was really awake and not dreaming.

"We were wondering when the Slayer who is supposed to catnap was going to wake up. You were about to miss out on brunch," Cordy teased me and motioned for me to sit down next to her on the couch a few feet from Angel and Spike. I did.

"What is the deal here? Last night Angel was about to rip Spike's head off and today they are laughing together? Even Willow, Dawn, and Giles are ok," I told her and motioned with my head towards the people as I was talking about them.

"When you are about to go into a fight where you aren't sure if you are going to walk away from you make amends quickly. That is something that you need to learn and understand. Spike and Angel have been friends for centuries. They both understand that things are going to change tomorrow night. Being friends again was very important to Angel. He went to Spike and apologized this morning and Spike apologized too for lying and sneaking around behind his back. He took the blame for it all this morning leaving you to be nothing but innocent. He made sure Angel saw that there was nothing there between the two of you."

"He is a good guy," I answered and yawned. Spike caught my eye and smiled a little as Angel was talking to Gunn who had just joined them.

"A great guy," Cordelia corrected me.

"What is for brunch?" I asked, changing the topic totally. Cordelia took the hint and went with it.

"Who knows? Willow and Kate are in there cooking, which is a random combination of people. Amanda and Dawn are helping get things ready for everyone to eat with and such. You ready to face everyone after that monster blowout last night?"

"I did nothing wrong. If I had done something wrong I would have admitted it. You know that," I told her and she smirked a little.

"You are just as hardheaded as they come. You might not have done anything wrong but you need to understand that some people think that you did."

"Screw them," I snapped back and ran my hands over my face.

"I don't think that will go over well," she told me and I smiled at her a little. "You weren't wrong Faith," she admitted "But it wasn't right either," she added.

"I know." I answered and looked back up at Spike, Angel and Gunn to find that they had all moved to somewhere else and I figured to the kitchen.

"You need to fix things with Angel before tomorrow night. I don't want anything to happen to the two of you before you are back together and happy," she told me and I just laughed at her.

"One day isn't going to be enough time to repair a few months worth of damage," I told her honestly and she placed her hand on my knee gently.

"You need to make it," she said as she got up off the couch and walked out towards the kitchen. I sat there for a few minutes later until Oz and Lindsay came into the room.

"You ok Faith? That stuff last night was pretty rough," Lindsay asked me and I gratefully smiled at him and Oz.

"I'm fine. I didn't want it to come out like that about Spike and my um…. relationship I suppose. But it did and now I have to deal with the repercussions of that."

"Everyone is a lot more mellow this morning. After sleeping on it and rethinking it a lot of the people regret what they said or thought," Lindsay told me.

"Me too," I told him and he nodded to me. Oz sat down in a plush chair and yanked Lindsay down on the chair into his lap. The two of them laughed and then shared a lingering kiss. I got uncomfortable immediately and stood up causing the two of them to break apart.

"Sorry about that," Lindsay apologized.

"Never apologize for loving someone Lindsay," I told him as I walked out of the room and towards the kitchen where everyone else was gathered. Spike walked up behind me and said hi.

"You should really check yourself out before you walk out into a group to be made fun of Faith," he advised and my hands immediately went to my hair, which was evidently sticking up in some places. I attempted to straighten it out the best I could without a mirror but I had no idea whether I was helping my head or hurting it.

"Thanks for the advice Spike," I told him and he nodded to me, smiling evilly. Angel noticed me and made eye contact. I smiled tentatively at him. He came over and stood next to me.

"He lied to you. There is nothing wrong with your hair. He is just being is typical wiseass self," Angel confessed to me and I blushed a little.

"Thanks for the truth there," I told him a little and then pulled my hair up into a haphazard ponytail.

"How is your arm?" He asked me and I looked down at my arm and noticed the bandage needed to be changed again.

"Um…good. I didn't remember it until you said something, so good," I told him honestly and he gently brushed his fingers across the bandage gently.

"I'm glad you are ok," he whispered to me.

"Me too," I answered gently back. I cleared my throat and looked around away from Angel's eyes.

"So um…"

"Why are you and Spike bestfriends again?" I asked him and he just looked at me slightly amused.

"Jealous?" He asked me, his eyes clearly showing his amusement.

"No, not at all. You beat the shit out of him last night. Accused us both of cheating with each other and vocalized your hatred for him. This morning you are buddy-buddy…closer than I have seen the two of you in well… ever and I don't understand!" I asked him.

"He is my childe. He says he didn't cheat on Buffy and that you didn't cheat on me. I believe him."

"But you doubt me," I softly said to him and he looked at me with sad eyes.

"Faith, you and I have a lot in common and a lot not. I'm content with making sure that everything is safe before we go into a fight whereas you make sure you know nothing before jumping into the darkness ready to take on whatever is there. I try to walk the straight and narrow whereas you don't try at all. Those are differences that I didn't think would affect our relationship but they did. He made me understand why you chose him at times over me. I understand it all now. However, you could have explained that to me."

"You wouldn't have understood though," I told him honestly and he nodded to me.

"You are right, but you could have told me and told me I had no choice but to understand. That would have made a difference with it Faith."

"Would it have?" I asked him looking him right in the eye, daring him to lie when I knew he had no other choice.

"It could have made a difference."

"I doubt that," I told him and his eyes dropped away from mine.

"Not everyone is out to screw you over Faith. I thought that you would have learned that by now."

"Not everyone is out to screw me Angel, but some are. You would have overreacted to what I had to tell you about Spike. You probably would have gone to Sunnydale to beat him up. I didn't want for anything to happen to him. He means a lot to me Angel."

"And what, lying to me means nothing? I mean nothing?" Angel snapped at me suddenly angry and upset.

"You mean everything to me," I barely got out to him and walked away from him. I headed for the front door of the house as I slipped on my tennis shoes.

"Where are you going Faith?" Willow asked me as I had my hand on the doorknob.

"To get away. I'll be back later," I told her tears were threatening to spill down my face.

"You can't go out there alone. It isn't safe," she argued with me.

"Nothing is ever safe," I answered and opened the door and shut it firmly behind me. I stood in the sunlight letting it heat my face and body. The tears ran unnoticed down my face. He didn't seem to realize that he was everything to me and it hurt. It hurt to think that he thought that he meant nothing to me. The door opened and closed behind me and I was relieved to know it couldn't be Spike or Angel.

"You want someone to run with?" Cordelia asked me as she came up next to me.

"Not really," I answered. "I'm not sure I was going to go running," I told her honestly and she laughed.

"Lets go for a jog Faith. It's bound to help somehow with something. If nothing else it'll keep our figures good," she suggested to me with a teasing smile and I looked over at her.

"Ok," I nodded in agreement and she smiled at me again and headed down the walkway towards the street. We went jogging for a few hours and came back tired and sweaty but I felt like a hundred pounds had been lifted off my back and that all the stress and tension that had been there before that jog was almost completely gone. Cordelia and I headed to separate showers after we came back in. On the way down the hall Giles stopped me.

"You didn't have any problems out there did you?" Giles asked me as I headed down the hallway to the bedroom where Spike was residing.

"No. We just jogged for awhile, a long while," I told him honestly.

"I was just wondering because you both came in looking completely exhausted."

"I gave her a run for her money. She suggested we run till I felt better. I bet she is kicking herself now because it took me like two hours and many, many miles to feel better," I laughed and Giles smiled at me.

"So you worked things out within yourself?"

"Within myself isn't the problem Giles. Things between Angel and myself are the problem. I don't want it to be a problem but I can't talk to him right now. I have too much on my mind concerning the Buffy situation and that isn't helping our relationship either."

"I hope that you work things out for you both because you two make an amazing couple."

"I don't know if it will or not Giles, I just don't know," I told him honestly and then headed past him to the shower. I grabbed a towel out of the closet on the way to the shower and locked myself in the bathroom. I took a long hot relaxing shower, toweled off and then headed out of the bathroom with the towel wrapped precariously around my body to find clothes to wear. I got the expected catcalls from everyone as I headed out to find something to wear and I just flipped everyone off as I looked around. I headed out of the laundry room after not finding anything to wear. I saw Cordy wandering around in a towel too.

"Hey…is it just me or are all of the girlie clothes gone?" I asked her and she nodded to me.

"I am noticing that all of the clothes are gone. I think the guys hid the clothes while we were in the shower so that we would have to wander around naked through the house until they decided to give them back," she answered and I nodded in agreement.

"Bastards!" I said and she smiled nodding in agreement.

"So, what are we going to do?" She asked me like I really had a clue what to do.

"Find the clothes. Go convince your boyfriend!" I suggested to her. She frowned at me but turned around to go find Gunn. I followed a few steps behind her. We walked into the den area to find all the people down there laughing their asses off because they had all the clothes and we were naked under our towels.

"You know this is really cute. We go for a run and you all take it upon yourselves to steal our underwear and clothes and leave us just in our towels. Let me just state that I am not amused in the least," I told them angrily. "I went on that run to get all my anger and aggression out and now after my relaxing shower I have to deal with this shit. You LA crew should know that I have no problems kicking peoples' asses in the buff so give me back the clothes before I have to get physical," I tiredly threatened them.

"Do you promise you will kick our asses' naked?" I heard a smartass British voice quip from somewhere in the room.

"I'd make sure to keep the towel on for you Spike. Now give me back my fucking clothes!" I yelled the last sentence. Everyone still found it amusing but I didn't. "Fine, screw you all," I stated angrily and left the den in a pissed off mood yet again. I heard calls for me to come back but I chose to ignore them all and kept heading towards the bedroom. Spike caught up to me as I tossed the towel into the bathroom to the tile floor and walked back to the bed nude. He stood there motionless when he saw me climb into the bed.

"You going to stare at me or do something constructive like find me clothes?"

"Stare for awhile first pet," he said to me and I just laughed harshly.

"You do that Spike," I got out and he snapped out of it.

"It was my idea ok? I knew that you were pissy over something to do with Peaches so I suggested to everyone in the house that we hide all the clothes from you and Cordy when you came back. She has her clothes right now, yours are on their way here," Spike admitted to me.

"So you think that making me angry because I'm naked in front of my friends will make everything all better?" I asked him, as I got comfortable on the bed. The sheet covered me completely but it did nothing to hide the fact I was very naked underneath it.

"I'll um…I'll send someone in with those clothes right away Faith. I'm sorry, I just thought that you would find it amusing cause you normally don't mind being naked and I'll be going now," Spike rambled and took off out of the door of the bedroom in a hurry and I just laughed lightly at his obvious discomfort. Cassandra came in with my clothes a few minutes later.

"You were in on this too Cassandra?" I asked as she set the clothes down on the bed.

"He thought you would laugh Faith. He didn't know that you were going to bite everyone's head off. He is really, really worried about you because you are so stressed out. I know Spike fairly well, we speak because neither of us have reason to judge each other, but he has never been this antsy. Never. It bothers me to know that he is this worried over you because that means that if he is showing his fear then this could be a pretty big and valid concern," Cassandra answered me honestly as she sat down on the other side of the bed from me.

"Don't worry Cassandra. Everything will work out the way that Fate has planned for it to," I told her knowing I was speaking a vague truth.

"That is a lovely thought Faith. I think you just summed up the whole reason of life in general in that statement too. I know that you know what you are doing. I just hope that you live past Spike because if you die before him he will never forgive himself for failing you too," Cassandra admitted to me and then left me alone in the room. I sat up and pulled on the clothes that she left for me on the bed. They weren't the original clothes that we brought to Sunnydale from LA. They were actual girls clothing. I recognized the tank top as I pulled it on; it was B's. The pants must have been Cassandra's because I am much taller than B. I took a deep breath before I left the safety of the bedroom and headed out to join the land of the living. I had a lot of groveling to do with Spike to make sure that he knew that I wasn't mad at him, just upset and stressed in general.



Continued