I feel it too, that energy in the air that builds up before a fight, making your skin buzz with anticipation of hard punches and high kicks. Man, I'm just *itching* to get my slay on good and hard. With this being my first big fight out, I've got everything to prove -- I can't fuck this one up. Not when C's life hangs in the balance. Everything in me is screaming that this is my chance, this is my time to prove that I'm worth it, that me bein' called wasn't some big cosmic fuck up, and the slayer wheels in me are turning fast as a speeding bullet now. I'm ready to grab this moment up and make the most of it, you know, like carpe diem or whatever that phrase is. I'm gonna kick so much ass out there today. Demon chick's not gonna know what hit her.
Me and Twiggy have been sitting pretty in the lobby for about five minutes now, her with the address to our demon and me with the weapons. I've got a loaded tranq gun and a dagger tucked away, just in case the darts don't do their job and I end up having to kill the bitch instead. Watcher man says I got nothing to worry about, that the tranqs will do the job... but I don't know. I mean, can you really tame a demon? This ain't a deranged zoo animal we're talking about here. When me and B did this, we just killed 'em. There was none of this putting them to sleep crap. I'm not the one in charge on this job though - much as I'd like to be - so I'll give Wes the benefit of the doubt. This time. If he screws up? I'm doing this thing *my* way.
"Yup," Fred chirps out cheerfully. Turning to me, she asks, "Faith?"
"All systems go," I reply with a grin and hop off the couch. I'm too buzzed to sit, so I'm five kinds of happy that we're bowing out of this joint. "Let's motor."
The three of us head out, all falling in line, like toy soldiers going into battle. I can just see some kid placing us all over the war zone. It's kinda how I feel too, like I'm just here and someone else is calling the shots of where I go and when. With my big time slaying sabbatical, I almost forgot how it feels to get thrown into the fray like this. Even back in the 'dale, I was only part-time. B got the full time slay job and I was the back up when Big Red and Clown Boy couldn't handle it. Never really got the chance to see things from this POV before. As cool as it is bein' on top like this, it's scary as Hell too. One wrong move and this whole thing goes down in a pile of Cordelia's ashes. For the first time since I got gifted with the slayer bam, I'm feeling that burden B used to whine so much about. It ain't the funnest feeling in Hell knowing that a whole bunch of lives depend on whether or not you can cut it when the going gets a little tougher than the norm.
Gunn's ride looms ahead of us and we hop in, Texas calling shot-gun like the good little ex-girlfriend she is. I'm stuck riding in the backseat, but I don't mind much. It ain't far to the hospital and I got plenty of leg and weapon room back here, so I just sit quiet as we plow down the road. I gotta hand it to him, boy sure can get some speed with this thing. Looks like our homeboy has a lead foot, just like me. I grin from the backseat while Fred pulls a Wes and grips the armrests tight. I can see her knuckles getting white so I decide to speak up. Girl's gotta learn to find the fun a little.
"Relax, Twiggy," I drawl from the backseat. "Gunn knows what he's doing. The faster we get there, the faster we can bag this demon and call it a day."
"Oh I know," she replies nervously, knuckles still white, though she lets up her grip some. "I just, you know, don't want to get killed on the way there. That wouldn't help Cordelia at all."
I just laugh. Gunn's a good guy, speed demon-y as he is, he's not gonna let anything happen to skinny here. "Gunn's got a handle on this, right?"
"Damn right," he pipes up in reply. He cops a peak over at Fred and offers up a kind smile. Kinda funny seeing a soft look on a hard face like that. "You know I won't be doin' anything stupid if I can help it."
Fred meets his smile with one of her own and I'm left rolling my eyes. Man, for a couple on the outs, they sure do still share a love thang between them. Not that it's any of my biz, I'm just calling it as I see it. Homeboy's still crushing on her, much as he won't admit it. And, like any good humble dude in his place, he gets what the what is, so he's stepping away from the girl, much as it hurts. Wish I could've done that with B. Would have saved me a whole lot of trouble if I had just sucked it up and moved the fuck on.
I distract myself by peering out the windows and watching as the world whizzes by fast in a blur of color and noise. My stake hands gettin' itchy and I'm clutching my dagger about as hard as Twiggy's clutching the armrest. The City of's about as demon infested as the 'dale was, so just being here in the middle of it all makes me ache something fierce to just hop right out the window and go wild on every vamp that crosses my path. Being in lock down for all those years really did a number on me, you know?
I close my eyes and it feels like a minute goes by, but next thing I know, I got Gunn shaking my shoulders and shouting in my ear. "Come on slay girl, wake up. We're here."
"Huh?" I question groggily as I blink myself awake. Whoa. Must not be getting enough sleep lately. "How long was I out?"
"'Bout ten minutes," he answers as he steps out and hauls out his own tranq gun. He's got a duffel and holds it out for mine. "Stick the gun in here. Hospital won't let us past the front door if we're armed."
"Right," I chuckle as I slap myself back into consciousness and hop out, slamming the door behind me. It makes a loud sound as I drop my weapon in. I keep the dagger close though, you never know when you might need it in this town. It fits like piecework inside my jacket, so I figure I'm good with making the all clear. I pat the spot and grin, "I keep this one, Charlie boy."
He flashes me an odd look - probably at the strange nick - and shrugs. We gotta get a move on, I know. Twiggy comes from around the back and we head in together. The nurses recognize us as the crazy bunch in room 17 and barely flinch as we stride confidently past the station and straight into the cheerleader's room. Damn, we made good time.
"Calvary's here," I pitch out, loud and confident as I plop my ass down in an empty chair. Wes is in the other chair, doing the hand holding with with C, whose still looking a little worse for wear. "How you doin', C?"
"Just dandy," she replies sarcastically through clenched teeth like it's hard for her just to get the words out.
"The spell didn't work," Wes explains. "I thought that perhaps I could lessen the pain somehow, but it appears to have only made it worse. Though I assume it's more due to the demon's hold on her than it is to the spell. Did you find the address?"
Twiggy proudly holds up a sheet of paper and nods. "It's only a few blocks away. Faith and I are sure that this is the right place."
"Demon chick's been busy," I add in. "Cops have called her in more than once for questioning. Seems like the LAPD is finally starting to crack down on the less-than-human types. Some chick named Lockley seems to think she's the big bad. Funny thing is, cop girl can't seem to get any solid evidence that she gives manicures of doom, so it's a no go on takin' her out of business."
Wes looks like he's about to congratulate us on a job done well when his jaw goes slack and his eyes go wide. I'm facing the bed, so I don't see what's behind me to wig the watcher out. That tingle on the back of my neck tells me vamp and I turn around quick, ready to pummel whatever nasty got through that door.
"Angel," Cor gasps from her bed, pretty much nailing on everyone's reaction in one word. "What are --"
"I had to see you," Angel interrupts before the chick can say so much as two words. Damn, he's talkative when he wants to be. Looks like brood boy's got a mouth on him after all. "I was out on patrol, trying to find out information on the pendant you told me about when I ran into one of my contacts. He told me you were badly injured."
I can see Angel's cool facade fading fast at the sight of our girl all hooked up on wires and machines with bandages all over her bod to cover up the burns. You know, I was real glad we didn't run into the big guy back at the hotel... but damn, this is so much worse. Cor made it clear she wanted nothing to do the guy until he bucked up and got a clear head about this thing goin' on with me and her. Man, how screwed up is it that I'm actually competing with my freakin' savior guy for the girl? Really puts a damper on the easy thing we had going on when I was in the slam to have him acting like I just stole the sunshine from the sky... or well, something more suiting to what would piss off a vampire. Guess the sun being gone would be a good thing, huh?
Anyway, I'm speechless for the moment, so I just sit back and watch the game. This oughtta be good. Angel versus the AI team. Wonder which one'll come out on top?
Wes is the first to stand up for our damsel. Figures. "Angel, I thought Cordelia made it quite clear that she didn't wish to see you until you had... erm, come to your senses about things..." he flashes a quick look at me and I nod. Good job, Wes. That's the most confident I’ve *ever* seen him be. Well, without the whole prick thing making him seem like an uptight asshole. He was a real jackass back in the day. "I think it would be best for everyone if you left. We won't let anything happen to Cordelia."
"This isn't your fight, Wes," Soul Boy growls and I almost think he might morph out into game face. I can see that inner struggle going on within him. He's trying wicked hard not to let his naughtier half out. Hell, I've experienced the same thing. Doesn't mean I'm gonna take his side, though. "Cordy, do you really want me to leave? I can help you."
Prom queen nods her head - painfully - and replies, "Yes, Angel. Please. Don't do this here. Not now. Not when I'm..." her voice cracks and it takes everything in me not to run up to her and grab her other hand. Gotta keep cool about this, Faith. The pussy whipped act ain't gonna make the sitch here any better. "...like this. I can't handle this on top of the visions and the pain and god, Angel, why can't you just listen for once in your undead life?"
"Because I still..." he looks around, his cheeks flushing. I bite back a snicker at the sight of the big bad scourge of Europe turning red because of a girl. "You know I still love you, Cordelia. I think if you'd just --"
"Angel, this ain't the time to be playin' love connection,” I finally bust in, having enough of his Romeo and Juliet act. "You wanna play tortured lovers? Call up Buffy. But don't put your crap on C when she's all laid up like this. Save it for after we kill the demon, yea?"
Angel just laughs. "Faith, do me a favor and stay out of this. I think you've done enough as it is. And after all I did for you too; this is how you repay me?"
Okay, now that just pisses me off. I stand up, my fists balled and have at him verbally. "Repay you? What the fuck is that? I thought you helped people because it was the right thing to do, not because you were expecting some big prize. Oh wait... you *are* only do this for THE prize, right? Save a few souls, earn one of your earn. I thought this worked both ways, but I guess I was wrong to think that maybe somebody out there cared about me for me."
I can feel my illusions of Angel slowly crumbling with this new light shed on the situation. See, I always had the guy on this big pedestal, like he was some kinda god or something. For a chick with no religion, I saw him as the guy I could go to for the answers. He was my buddy, you know? Stood by me when no one else did. Hell, he should've just killed me and left me out with the trash to rot away outside like I had inside, but he gave me something else instead. I always thought it was 'cause he saw something in me. But the more he opens his mouth, the more I'm getting that yea, he saw something in me worth saving, but he was doing it more for him than me. And now I'm just supposed to sit around and play hero worship 'cause he saved my ass again? Whatever. I'd rather be six feet under than get stuck playing fangirl to a guy who thinks the world revolves around his hair gel.
"That's not true and you know it, Faith," he bites back with an angry scowl. "Helping people is what I do and Cordy needs my help. I'm not going to stand around and watch the woman that I love die!"
I was about to argue, but this time Wes comes out with the big guns. Leave it to the brain of the group to hit the nail straight on the head. "What makes you think she's going to die Angel? Do you not trust her in our care? I can assure you that allowing Cordelia to die is the last thing on our agenda. In fact, we've already formulated a plan to cure her."
"And we all know how well your plans have gone in the past, don't we Wes?" Angel snarks back.
Watcher man turns red in the face and pushes past me, treading ground fast until he's face to face with the big guy. Man, I feel like I'm in a Western now. Angel and Wes face off for a moment, their eyes hard and full of enough emotion to fill me in on the fact that these two have got a whole lot of drama between them that I haven't been clued into yet. Wonder what went down between the two of them to get them so riled up like this. Last I saw, they were tight.
"Am I gonna have to intervene?" I ask and I try not to sound like a bitch about it, but it's kinda ingrained in me, so it comes out like I'm poking fun at their potential brawl.
"NO!" They both bark back at me.
I take a step back and hold up my arms. "Alright, alright, backing off here. Just don't kill each other, okay?"
I keep my distance, but I'm near enough to jump in if I have to. Something tells me that these guys got a lot of stress to unload and not a single part of it has to do with Sleeping Beauty here. Just proves that no matter who you are, you're not immune to the typical macho guy fest. Even redemption seeking vampires and formerly uptight watchers get into it every now and then. Normally, I'd be all kinds of amused by their dicking around, but not today.
This time I do butt in, but it ain't to pull Wes back. It's to push Angel out of here. He stumbles back in surprise and flashes me an incredulous look. "What the Hell are you doing, Faith?"
"I'm over this," I tell him firmly as I motion at him and Wes. "Hash your shit out with Wes another time, Soul Boy. We don't got time for this. Now get the fuck out of here before I make fairy dust out of your ass."
"I think you better listen to the girl," Gunn says, a little growl in his voice for good measure. With me and muscle man teaming up, Angel don't stand a chance. Add in Wes and we've got an unstoppable team. "She sounds pissed and even if I don't know her that well, she doesn't seem like the kind of girl you piss off, you know what I'm saying?"
Angel looks like he's about to fight us, but then he blows out a flustered breath instead. Oh yea, we got him good. He finally shrugs and backs off. "This isn't over yet."
He storms out of the place like some last action hero type after the bad guys kicked his ass good and I almost expect him to throw out some cheesy line about how he'll be back in some whack Eastern European accent. Nothing happens, though, and he's gone in a flap of his black leather duster. I turn to my compadres and grin. It's good bein' part of the team again. They got my back -- I get that now.
"Thanks," I actually manage to spit out my gratitude... and the big shocker? It don't sound fake. Or snarky. Just me being real.
"For what?" Wes asks in this cute confused little boy way. You can tell it just blows his mind to hear the big bad rogue slayer saying some sweet words. Wes is totally tripping out at this brand new me.
"For helping me out back there. You know, gettin' my back... like how Giles got B's. You're not so bad, Wes."
Watcher man coughs, his eyes bugging out of his head now. "I could say the same for you... minus the watcher part of course. He will be back, though."
"Yea, well, let's hope it's later rather than sooner. I can deal with brood boy once we got this demon bagged. But right now? I'm feeling about ready to pummel something."
"I hear you on that one, girl," Gunn grins from behind me.
Wes just looks at the both of us like we're his naughty over-hyped kids and shakes his head. "I suppose that there isn't much else to do here. Fred and I can stay with Cordelia while the two of you track down the demon."
"Not so fast," Cor manages to croak out. "Now, I'm all for the two of you getting slay happy, but I'd just like to remind you that me? Not dead yet. So you two better think twice before you walk out of here without saying goodbye."
I gotta hand it to her, even like this? She's still fucking scary with that bossiness thing. Cor's just got this way about her that makes you wanna listen to what she's got to say. Probably why she was so good at being the top dog in high school. She doesn't give up easy, that's for damn sure. I grin at her - lazy and happy - and saunter over to her bedside.
"Think I can get a good luck kiss?" I ask in that way I use when I'm gonna do something anyway, but I'm just getting the okay beforehand. Worked like a charm on all the frat boys at The Bronze. Man, they didn't know what hit 'em when I pulled the lap kitten routine with my long lashes and pouty lips and a body that just never stops. Hook, line, and sinker.
Cor smiles back at me, pained but happy, and nods her head as much as the massive migraine she's gotta be sporting allows her to. "I think that could be in order."
As I bend down for my kiss, her hand comes around my neck and pulls me to her neck instead. I almost knock my teeth on her jaw, but recover quick. Slayer reflexes, gotta love 'em. Her mouth comes to my ear, hot breath puffing on my skin, and she whispers in a way that's got me trippin' out from all the good shivers running up and down my spine. "Thank you. For what you did for me with Angel. I wasn't strong enough to do it myself."
My head turns, this time so our lips are barely touching and I reply just as softly, "Not a problem, C. I wasn't gonna just sit there and let him play a game of 'pity the souled vampire that can't get laid' with you. Boy's gotta learn when to count his riches and walk away."
I know where that path leads to too. The one where you get so pissed off and angry that you start taking it out on anybody that comes your way. Friends? Doesn't matter. When you're hurt so bad you can't see straight, stuff starts to get skewed all wrong. Kind words turn into insults and a helping hand looks more like a fist ready to pummel you the second you let your guard down. Angel's at that place right now, where all his friends are enemies and he's not about to trust a single word that comes out of our mouths. There really ain't no reasoning with the dude right about now, so I'm gonna save my breath and wait for him to come around. He's taking a note from my old tune but I can't fix him if he's just gonna shut me down the minute I open my trap and try to play head shrink.
"He needed a wake up call," she sighs sadly. "I know Angel though, he'll act like a total baby about it for a few days and then he'll come back just like he always does. It's his way."
"Yea," I breathe out in reply. Okay, enough about Soul Boy. I got something else I'd rather be doing with my lips. "Kiss now, talk later."
Our lips touch against each other's softly, still in that experimental phase where we're memorizing every centimeter and contour and learning what makes the other grow hot with need. My tongue flicks over the dip in her lower lip and I swear she moans with pent up pleasure. Her fingers start dangling in my hair, the tips moving ever so slowly against my scalp, pulling me down closer to her. My lips part and her tongue quickly darts inside and we taste each other for a while, tongues dancing and hands wandering.
"Ahem," a voice coughs and I feel a tap on my shoulder. I assume it's gotta be some displeased doc, so I spin around quick, only to find Mr. Prudent himself glaring back at me with his stern face on. There's gotta be a million things he wants to say right now, about how "inappropriate" it is to play tonsil hockey in a hospital, but he mutters one word instead. "Demon."
"Yea, I know," I roll my eyes. "Don't bother with the lecture. I'm on it." I shimmy back around to flash C something akin to my trademark shit-eating grin and send a flirty little wave in her direction. Oh yea, I've still got it. "See ya, C."
"See ya, *F*," she flirts back with a bat of those long lidded lashes. It kinda reminds me of B, how she used to say 'F' when I got on her nerves, and I almost falter in my cool. The Buffy subject's still a hot topic with me. It's like a scab. Won't heal if I don't stop picking at it, so I walk over to Fred, swipe the address and link my arm with Gunn's.
"Let's blow, big guy."
"Stay cool, Queen," he says as his goodbye song. Boy's not even fazed by me; guess he gets that blow doesn't exactly mean a thing you do with your mouth. Most folks shit bricks when I start throwing that catch phrase around.
We're out the door a minute later, the mission hot on our minds. I'm gonna bring a world of hurt down on this mother fucker.