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Fashion Victim

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...Last Resort, Home Sweet Hellmouth... [27 Apr 2005|10:54pm]

[ mood | scared ]

Since the bright lights seem to make my head hurt worse than it already does I had Wesley turn the lights off for me and pull the curtains to make it seem as dark as he possibly could. I don't know when I dozed but sometime shortly afterwards I did, I think the spell that Wes tried to work was what caused my exhaustion, besides the fact that oh hey I'm still laid up in this freakin' ammonia soaked morgue they call a hospital. He thought the spell would help, he'd called the Hyperion and gotten in touch with Lorne who'd gotten in touch with another friend of his that had sworn on his life and the hair of his mother's chin that this was a sure bet, turns out it was a flop. So much for that. I could feel the disappointment and the sadness coming off of Wesley in waves that it was all I could do to assure him that it was going to be okay, as I gritted my teeth together, grasped his hand in mine, turned my head to face him that I knew beyond reasonable doubt that Faith and Gunn would take this big nasty down and it wouldn't be too much longer that I would have to endure this.

I don't know if it worked or not because he could hardly look at me. The man wore the face of someone who felt like he'd just let the whole world down. I don't know what was more painful the new lacerations and burns that had appeared as an after effect of the spell we'd just tried to work or the look he wore on his face that told me he was hearing his father's voice inside his head again calling him a failure and telling him that he would never amount to anything and that's why the Watcher's Council had let him go because no matter what he did or how hard he tried he would never live up to his father's expectations. Sometimes I hated that man and I didn't even know him. Wesley was one of my best friends, he was family and I couldn't stand to see him down on himself at least not on my watch. That's the funny thing though right, watch, who was watching who?

Was Wesley watching me or was I watching him and protecting? I think we were doing a little bit of both from each side. I squeezed my eyes shut from the overwhelming amount of pain that had enveloped my body and had wrapped itself around it so tight that I almost found myself having a hard time trying to breathe. I could feel the wetness behind my eyes threatening to coat my thick dark lashes and spill over and I willed myself not to let that happen, because hey I still had my pride you know. Besides I'd done enough crying it was time to buck up and kick this big nasty in it's menacing ass and to do that I needed my strength back and I needed it back like yesterday. Of course that wasn't going to happen anytime soon if Faith, Gunn and Fred didn't get back to the hospital with the supplies and the address they needed to get this mission kicked off full swing in gear.

God I hope they hadn't ran into Angel because the last time he and Faith were in the same room together it felt like any minute they were ready to pounce and go to it, toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye and worse fist to fist for the throw down match of the century. I have no doubts that my Slayer could kick ass all she wanted to, but a part of me did sort of still feel sorry for Angel. And to be honest I guess a part of me always would because no matter how much I wanted to stomp it down or ignore it, the fact was a part of me still loved him and I knew that I hurt him. But that still didn't give him the right to burst into my apartment, ignore my wishes and preceded to intervene in something I thought I had made perfectly clear to him.

Beside me I could feel Wesley squeezing my hand tighter and felt his forehead against the back of it, he spoke in a soft voice that shook me to the core.

"I am truly sorry, Cordy. I had thought this would work. However, I didn't realize that it would make things worse than they were already. Though I don't understand what could have gone wrong, we did everything that we needed to do in order for it to work. I wonder if..."

It was when I felt a slight wetness on the back of my hand that I realized he had been crying. I don't know for how long or if it had been just a few tears, but still they were a few too many. Maybe it was from emotional exhaustion because lets face it we'd all had a rough few nights and it didn't seem to be getting any better the longer we waited and worked on finding a cure for all of this crap. Everything was just so emotionally overwhelming that I wasn't sure when or how much time had elapsed from the time I had felt myself dozing off until waking up to loud voices and talking, no more like shouting, coming from the hallway.

Though the door I could hear Faith's voice loud and clear. She was arguing with Angel. I knew as soon as he found out I was in the hospital he would come, he always did. He gets a little hard headed when it comes to the people he cares about, but sometimes he needs to understand that maybe those people don't want him around. And at this particular time I really didn't. I had enough to deal with witout the added guilt trip. He's fine if he wants to head down broodsville, but he doesn't need to be taking me along with him for the ride. We'd been through far too much for him to even try that route.

Damn it. He should know better.

"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?"

I felt a surge of pride well up in my chest at the sound of Faith's voice. And I found myself mouthing, "Right on, Faith. You tell him."

And I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the little Buffy comment. That ought to sting him really good. Serves him right for coming when he really wasn't wanted or needed. I couldn't begin to remember a time when I, ahem, we really didn't need him, oh wait yes I can. It was right around the time he went oh say crazy and let Drusilla and Darla kill a bunch of lawyers. You know before he got even more psychotic than normal and tried to burn them up and then manage to knock up Darla. I think it was about the time Wesley was shot in the gut and he had the nerve to show up at the hospital trying to act like he cared when it wasn't but a few weeks before that he'd fired all of our asses when we called him on his psycho behavior. And I'd let him have it then just like Faith and the rest of them were letting him have it now.

"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."

I mumbled my own voice of added approval. I knew that out of all of them Wesley would be the one to fight hardest for my life, Faith was a given, but Wesley. He and I go way back and I knew with him on the case I had nothing to lose and even more to gain. Like Angel he was one of my best friends that I knew I could trust absolutely with my life. And right now he was litterally holding my life in his hands. But I also knew that with Faith, Fred and Gunn he'd have all the back up he needed to get the job done. The truth about Wesley, all he really needed was for someone to believe in him, to believe that he had the power and he had whatever it took in him to carry out the job the way he needed to. I don't doubt his capabilities. Okay, so yeah maybe I have in the past but there's definitely no doubt now. He still works the best mojo in town. And I trust him absolutely with my life. I mean, I have no choice right now. I have too.

And this time it's not just me that's at stake. Faith factors into all of this mess now somehow.

"That's right, let him have it Wesley. Good for you. Finally get to show off your leadership qualities."

I moved my head slightly to the side so that I can try and get a good peek of them out in the hallway. And I can see Faith blocking the door glaring menacingly at Angel trying to keep claws and fists in tact, Wesley standing protectively in front of her with Gunn and Fred on either side of him. If Angel thinks he's getting in through the door he'll have one hell of a protective shield to get through. I sigh softly and think, "I love my dysfunctional family."

And it occurrs to me that this may be all that I have left and I have to relish it, because if Faith, Gunn and Fred don't get to this demon and Wesley's spell doesn't work I might not get to see them again because I could be oh you know all of what...dead. And that thought is enough to shake me to the core as I start to feel warm liquid pooling once again behind my eyelides. I close them tight for a moment trying hard to shake off this round of emotion but it's hard, it's so hard. I've known pain but I've never known pain to this depth before. And it just keeps getting worse.

I thought for a long time that if I ever got to hear Angel say he loved me I would be able to say it back to him, I just never thought that there would ever be a day when I actually didn't want to be around him. And right now, I really didn't and I was grateful that everyone around me knew that, especially Faith. I wouldn't mind hearing her say that to me. But who am I kidding, the closest thing to that I'd probably get would be one of those rare smiles she only saves for me and a "Come on Cor, don't make me say it when you already know it."

And oh damn, was it way too soon to be thinking that? You know love, the Slayer and maybe wanting to hear her say it back to me someday in the near distance future when I was um you know not so much with the dying and more among the living again and hardcore shopping again. And this is all so surreal to me, I've somehow managed to fall in love with Faith. I hadn't meant to and I don't know exactly when it happened but I knew that what I was feeling was way more than just a friendy type thing, it went deeper. It was like we had some sort of strange connection that hadn't been there before, but it exists now.

And I want to tell her but I know Faith and she'll freak on this one. So maybe I'll just keep it to myself for a little while longer and then I'll tell her when we find a cure for this and I'm okay. But the thing is, I'm scared. I'm really scared and I'm not sure if everything is going to be all right. I wonder if she'll ever love me the way she loved Buffy?

God we're an unlikely pair aren't we? What with Angel and Buffy. But still there has to be scars, a part of her that just can't shut that off. It's sort of like me with Angel. And I'm left wondering this as I watch the look cross her face as she leans down to kiss me before she leaves with Gunn and Fred to go after the demon trying to kill me. You know that look that says, "I haven't fully healed from that yet so back off and leave it alone". So I make a promise to myself that no matter how much I want to be nosey and ask, I won't. I'll try to wait until she's ready to tell me or until she's forced to actually face Buffy which will probably be sooner than she may realize.

The only thing I care about now is her soft pouty lips carressing mine as I kiss her back. I have to almost bite back a smile at the smug look on her face and the stern one on Wesley's. I know there must be a million and one things going through his mind when he looks at us and I give him credit for trying, but it's so funny to see him being all stern "demon now, snog later".

And I almost snicker at the visual of him in my mind actually saying that. I know he never would cross that line now because there's some things we perfer not to discuss, but at least he respects me enough to try and understand. And I think he does on some level, he just hasn't sifted through all of it yet.

I give Faith's hand another squeeze and watch as her and the rest of walk out of the room leaving Wesley and I alone again. There's something I have to talk with him about and I knew I couldn't do it with Faith there because I didn't want her to see that I wasn't as brave as she may think I am. Plus I didn't want her thinking I was trying to get in the middle of her and the whole Buffy ordeal.

Believe me I'd had my share of that with the whole Buffy and Angel drama. But I knew that if Faith and the rest of our little gang wasn't able to contain the demon, get the information they needed and the spell didn't work my life was going to end. We were going to have to call home sweet Hellmouth for help.

And that meant bringing in the Scoobies which also meant bringing in Buffy. That also meant resulting in Faith not being too happy about that. Add that in with an already broody Angel and a former watcher rival with Giles and you have the ultimate recipe for disaster.

As much as I hated to it, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea. Maybe Willow could work some magic with Wes and see what they could do together. If I know Giles he's got books that I know Wesley probably hasn't seen before and I know Buffy's got the strength of ten men and forty vampires, the same as Faith. It's the in the job description, pretty much a given. I close my eyes and think real hard about it for a second and then realize in the next the decision has been made.

Letting out a slow breath and after talking it over with Wesley and finding him not too happy with it but more understanding than Faith would be, I slowly nod at him. I'm too exhausted to form the words but somehow I find it in me to do so, "Do what needs to be done, Wes. This is more for her benefit than my own, trust me. The last thing I want to do is bring Buffy into all of this mess. But if we don't, then I risk my life. And I can't do that to Faith. Not now. I won't."

And I am adamant about that last part. I won't. That is not up for discussion, not debatable at all and he knows this. So he does the the only thing he can. He makes the call.

Sunnydale ;; 11:00 p.m. ;; Tuesday night

"Hello...yes, yes. I know that. I'm calling because we need your help. Cordelia is in danger of losing her life. Shes um, well. She's dying, if you must know. And I'm afraid we need your help with finding the cure. You can, good. I'll see you then."

I watched him hang up the phone. It was done. And now the only thing left to do was wait...and tell Faith. I turned weary eyes towards Wesley and felt a tremendous amount of guilt. What was going to happen if they waited too long and I died?

I didn't want to think about that so I closed my eyes and tried to picture Faith smiling at me just before she ducked out the door to go chase after the demon that started all of this.

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Showdown at high noon [09 Jan 2005|09:35am]

[ mood | restless ]

"You girls about ready?" Gunn asks as he enters the Hyperion lobby, looking like he's ready to rumble.

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.

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More hospital fun. Or not. [11 Jul 2004|07:44am]

[ mood | anxious ]

I gotta admit, all this emotional shit? So not my gig. First with Wes, now with C. Some from watching the two of them get emotional together. It was a little more than I could handle and I was seriously craving a smoke after my big revelation with Queen C. So the cat's out of the bag. I got a major thing for her... and not just in the way where I'd like to screw her. That's a given, but that's not all I wanna do with this chick. I wanna do this thing with her, the morning afters, the dates, everything.

Hell, I'd even buy her flowers and take her out to dinner if it meant we got that happily ever after. Trippy thought, huh? The `get some, get gone` girl is gettin' a conscience.

I'm out of my mind and I couldn't be happier. I got a girl that cares about me and for once in my life, I think I might be able to care for her back. Told her as much too, and then I kissed her. It wasn't my usual style, but I don't usually liplock with patients in the ICU. I knew she was hurting. Girl might put on the brave face but the pain was still there, deep in her eyes and showed in the way she moved like an arthritic grandmother.

When you're a slayer, you gotta know a thing or two about body language. It helps in the sensing when you're about to be attacked. Turns out it's a wicked handy skill in day-to-day shit too. I never really got a handle on that skill 'till prison forced me to pay a little more attention to detail. Now I'm a pro. I got my skills honed and a cut new bod on my side. I gotta say, it doesn't suck knowing that you're finally getting what being a slayer is all about and coming into your own wannabe hero status.

There was a little voice inside my head telling me that this was my test. This was the crossroads, I could either take it for what it's worth and make my stand here, prove to everybody that my calling was *not* a mistake and that I *do* deserve this slayer gig... or I can run. Take my freedom and get the Hell out of dodge. I could hitch a ride down to Mexico and never see these people again. It's ironic 'cause I've been in this place before. Last time I was wearing B's body, so the good-n-plenty was just itchin' to get out when I saw that thing about the vamp attack on the news, but this time it's all me. No blonde hair to inch me over to the good side and there's no way in Hell I'm letting this chance just fly by me. I'm gonna make sure Fang and co. didn't risk their lives breakin' me out of the big house just so I could screw them over.

This demon just made this my fight the second he laid his metaphorical hand on my girl. I can deal with demons after me, it's part of the job description. But my newfound pals? No way, man. No fucking way. See, I got this thing where it's a tough job to earn my trust, but once you do? I'm totally loyal. Call it a slayer complex or even an actual good personality trait on my part, whatever. It doesn't matter. What does matter here is that I was gonna kick this demon's ass from here to high heaven for putting C in this wicked bad state.

I smack my fist into the palm of my hand, that familiar rush of speed and running fast workin' in my veins and making me feel invincible. I'm ready to take this thing on and as soon as the gang gets here with extra info and some threads for the princess, I'm out of here and on the streets. Me and hospitals don't really click, you know? Cor seems to catch onto my mood and smiles through gritted teeth at me. It's gettin' harder for her hold on and keep a brave thing about this. Just hold on a little longer, babe. I'll get my hands on this demon and make sure he pays for the damage he's done to your pretty face.

"You want to fight now, don't you," she asks me, a softness in her voice, like she's maybe getting a kick out of me prowling the streets for the monster of the week.

"Got that one right," I reply with a grin painted clear on my lips. "I can't stand seeing you here like this, C. I'm sick of just standing around doing jack shit when I could be out there prowling the streets. You're gonna die if I don't kill this thing. The faster he's dust, the sooner you get better. I don't see the wrong in wanting to take this thing out ASAP."

I notice her flinch at my words and I instantly feel the burn of hurting her with my words, intentionally or not. Let's face it, neither of us like to sugarcoat. I hate to be the one to say it, but the longer we mess around, the more we put her life in danger. I get that book man likes to do his research thing, but that's not gonna be what saves the damsel.

"Hey you, little Miss Negativity, I'm not dead yet," Queenie says with all the self dignity of any person that's desperately holding onto those last few threads of life. "So quit mourning me like I am."

I just sigh and shake my head. "I'm not grieving, C," I snap back at her. Truth is, I'm not. I'm just worried and want to bag this demon so I can figure out if what I'm feeling is the real deal or just one of those cases where extreme circumstances bring people together. We were fighting like cats and dogs up until the point she showed up at my doorstep burned and bloody and screaming with pain. "I just lack patience. There's a big difference between planning a funeral and needing a subscription for Ritalin."

I actually make her laugh at that one. Wasn't a joke, but hey, I take what I can get. My shrink in prison told me I could use a little something to chill me out. I just shrugged and said I was always a handful and mentioned how I was nicknamed `firecracker` for what a feisty little shit I was. Doc said I was a star case for ADD and that's what kept me at such a high energy level all the time. My mind's just not made for doin' one thing for extended periods of time. I'm not real sure if I buy into that gig. I got a video game addiction to prove just how long I can focus. Back in SunnyD, if I wasn't being sent out on some big heist by the boss, I was waiting out the big day in my pad playing with that wicked Playstation he hooked me up with.

Soon enough, I'm laughing too and I almost forget that we're in some squeaky clean hospital and I'm supposed to be her kid sis. A nurse eventually comes in to monitor the princess and gives us strange looks at our cheerfulness. Guess not many people hooked up on life support have a sense of humor. She does her thing, which includes adding another massive dose of the big M to the hook ups that surround Cordy, and then she's out in a jiffy, mumbling something about what a weird case this is. I almost get up to give her a piece of my mind but C does that disapproving throat clear thing, and I settle back into my chair. I'm wicked disappointed but figure it'll just give me more ammo for the *real* fight.

"Please don't beat up my nurses," she pleads with me. I can't believe she thinks I'd actually throw punches in a hospital.

"You have so little faith in me," I pout, much in the way a scolded kid would. "I wasn't gonna throw any static with the ice bitch, I was just gonna give her a little lesson on how to treat a patient right."

"Faith, she's been doing a wonderful job considering everything. My case *is* weird. It's amazing they've kept quiet as long as they have."

I just snort in response. "Sunnydale sure had no problem dealing with the weird."

"Los Angeles is different," she sighs loudly. "Sunnydale was on a Hellmouth and all of it's civilians, including myself for most of my life, were in denial about all the creepy things that happened in that town."

I snort at the memory. Makes sense though. I *was* part of the inner working of the city for a while. Boss made sure I knew what was going down so it wouldn't take me for surprise. Think I remember him donating a whole lot of money to Sunnydale Memorial in the form of charity once or twice. Looking back, it seems less like a good deed and more like a pay off to look the other way when the dead guy in the morgue rises with a major dental difference goin' on.

Kinda sucks thinking about the big guy like that though. He had such sugary sweet way of doin' things that it was easy to forget that he was just out to end the world like every other big bad out there. I might've been his right hand man, but for the majority of my time with the guy, I just felt like his spoiled kid. Boss had a way of making me feel good inside about myself. He was always telling me how special I was and how he wouldn't trade the world for me. With him, B didn't even exist. Girl was just a blimp on the radar scale while I was the apple of his eye. Call it manipulation is you want, but I think he loved me in his own twisted fucked up way.

So when I start thinking about all the things he did, it gives me a not so nice feeling in the pit of my stomach. I like to think of him as a generally good guy that let his quest for power get a little out of hand. So what if he turned into a giant snake? We all make mistakes. Some bigger than others, but he proved that even as a demon, he still had a soft spot for me. I knew it'd be his undoing and I knew he needed to be taken down. It's why I gave B that handy little hint in that trippy shared dream of ours.

I still don't know if I should be proud of me or ashamed. I betrayed the one guy that cared about me a chick that gutted me barely three hours before. What a way to show a little gratitude for all he did for me, huh? I fed him to the sharks like Benedict fuckin' Arnold. Even if it saved the world, I don't feel the better person for it. It's an open wound and it stings like one mother fuckin' bitch.

I backtrack my thoughts back to Cor and just smirk at her. It's not hard to believe she was once as clueless as the rest of those fools in that town. "Let me guess, you were too busy shaking your pom poms and making flyers for whatever it was you and B were duking it out for to notice that a big chunk of your graduating class died from mysterious neck wounds."

"Oh please, those weren't the only reasons. Sunnydale was a dangerous place to live. A high deathrate was expected."

"Uh huh," I nod my head, still snickering over how anybody could be so dense. "C, I grew up in South Boston. A high deathrate was expected there too, but cops still investigated murders, newspapers still printed 'em up on the front page, and kids learned to toughen up early or stay indoors so they weren't the next victim of a gangbang. People in SunnyD were probably too distracted with the low property costs to give a shit why. Hell, I never had a motel room so cheap as I did staying in that town. Even vacationers got a major bargain. That's gotta tell you something, right?"

"Toughen up early, huh?" she laughs as if she just discovered some deep dark secret about me. Thought that fact was written clearly across my forehead. Guess C's just a little slow on the uptake when it comes to me. "So that's why you're so emotionally stunted. You were probably born with a total macho complex."

"That about sums it up," I chuckle in agreement, scuffing the soles of my shoes on the tile. I'm not ready to share anymore fun fact about my pre-slayer life so I change the subject. "When do you think bookman will be back?"

"Right this instant," the bookman himself announces as he struts into the room, a skinny brunette in two. Great, more lovebirds. Just what I need to make this night even better. "I'm sorry for the delay. We, uh, we were held up."

"There was traffic," the wiry chick pitches in. Yea. Right.

"Uh huh," I snort in my usual cynical way. "So that's what they're calling it these days."

Twiggy starts to blush immediately while Wes does the clean the glasses thing. Oh yea, they totally nailed each other in the parking lot. Skinny chick's hair is all messed up and Wes has got lipstick on his cheek. I know a quick lay when I see one. I've had my share of backseat lovers in Boston.

"Pink's a good color for you, Wes," I grin and I wriggle my eyebrows at him. I'm totally loving this. "And the rumpled shirt look? Really doing a number on your new makeover. Man, you really have changed!"

"And you are exactly the same," he mutters quietly. My words got to him though. He's already excusing himself to fix himself up. Twiggy's still blushing and lookin' like she'd rather be anywhere in the world but here. I feel a little bad for messing with some poor chick I barely know, but hey. I might've lost my murderous tenencies, but I'm no virgin fuckin' Mary. I get off on this stuff.

Cor saves the day when she speaks up with a congratulations. "Wow Fred, so did Wes actually take the plunge?"

Twiggy nods shyly in reply. She's got the glow about her though, like even though she's gettin' made fun of, she's totally digging the reason why. "He did. He asked if he could take me to the theatre once we finished helping you and then we..." the girl trails off and sighs dreamily.

I'm almost jealous that a little thing like her is gettin' more action than a hot chick like me. It just ain't fair. Hell, I bet Willow gets more loving than I do and she ain't much better than Fred here. I gotta remind myself that that's not me anymore. I don't let myself get bummed out over what others got and I don't. It's what got me in trouble in the first place and I'm not going through that again. Hell, I should be jumping for joy that I'm even sitting here at this time right now. Three days ago I would be tossing and turning in my bunk while my bitch of a cellmate snored above me. Man, that chick seriously needed an inhaler or something. I was this close to knocking her one in the nose and permanently damaging her ability to breathe. I feel sorry for the poor chick that gets stuck with her now that I'm on the outs.

My thoughts are interrupted when Wes steps back inside looking less like her rolled out of bed and more like the stuffy tightass I used to know. "Are you ladies finished with your gossiping yet? Need I remind you that we do have a demon to catch."

I shoot him a glare at that. "Whatever, lover boy. I don't gossip." Another glare and then lean forward anxiously, if the boy's got news, he better spill. "So what's up? Did you find our guy yet?"

Twiggy takes this as her cue to pipe up for Wes. "Not exactly... but we did find some interesting facts about the demon that could help in finding him."

"Yes, I did discover that this demon travels in herds of three or more. We believe the demon you killed in the parking lot earlier today was a member of the clan. It says here that the demons are extremely loyal to one another and will search for dead members to put to proper burial, much like humans. So if we were to capture a member of the herd, whether or not it be the demon attacking Cordelia, then we should be able to lead the demon right to us, so to speak."

Wes looks wicked proud of himself but something's bugging me about this whole thing. "Hold up there, hot stuff. The demon I killed looked nothing like the dude in this book."

"It most likely had changed form to protect its true identity," Wes counters. "Remember Faith, these are shape shifters we're dealing with. They usually revert to their original form after they are killed."

"So the only way to know I got the right demon is to kill it and wait?" I ask. Man, this is gonna be harder than I thought. I never was one to babysit my kill before. Now Wes is tellin' me that I gotta kill at large and hope it turns to some black slithery thing after its death.

"I suppose," he replies about as glumly as I feel.

"Bummer," I breathe out. Leaning back into my chair, I sigh heavily. God this sucks. "Looks like we're back to the drawing board."

There's silence in the room as we all kick out and let out some major sighs. I doubt I've ever seen so many sad faces before. If anybody walked in here, they'd think Cor had bit the big one. A little voice nags in me that she probably will, now that we got no reason to gind this thing. Fuck.

"Fuck," I mutter and hop to my feet. My attention turns back to the book man and give him a wicked fierce glare. "There's nothing you can do? What happened to being Angel's number one man? Where's all your watcher training now, huh? There's gotta be something we can do here, Wes! We can't give up this easy. Do an anti-shape shifting spell or something. I don't know. But anything's better than just sitting here!"

Cor gives me a fierce look of her own. Yea, I get it, she don't want me knocking on her brother type guy. Maybe she digs the pain she's in, but I don't. "Faith... don't."

"No, she's right," he speaks up, stopping the fight before it starts up. "Perhaps a spell could work. Did you say you were injured by the demon earlier Faith?"

"Not physically... but I did get some wicked weird side effects from the fight after demon boy drooled all over my face. Just touching that thing made me feel like I was about to toss up my lunch."

I shiver some at the thought. Man, that was one Hell of a gross side effect. For a while there, I thought maybe I was the one is some major trouble with the big D creeping up on me. Turns out? Not so much, but it's still big on the creepy. I hope Wes don't want me to go under that trip again. I put my foot down at purposely putting myself in a bad way. Redemption or not, I got some standards when it comes to what's karma and what's some hot shot playing with fire.

"Its toxins are probably still in her system then," the skinny chick points out eagerly. Man, no wonder Wes digs her. She's about as book happy as he is. Big with the smarts too. They're a total match made in geek heaven. "It usually takes a few days to flush toxins from the human body. Even if slayers do have accelerating healing, there is a possibility that a trace of the demon's poison is still in her blood."

"Fabulous," I mutter. Ain't it great knowing there's some major bad goin' down in your bod? I know I'm just thrilled at the concept of something demony swimming around inside of me. "Are we fixing me or am I gonna be in this bed next?"

I motion at C and flash her an apologetic glance. Don't mean to make light of the sitch, I just don't want to be laid up when I can be out there doing some good.

Now it's Wes's turn to poke at me like I'm some sideshow freak. "Actually, I don't think we'll be doing either. It's no longer harming you so there is absolutely nothing to worry about at this point, but if we took a blood sample there could be a way to use that in a locator spell so at least we'd know where the Sinnesterung are hiding."

"Great," I say while clapping my hands together. "So you work your mojo and bam! We got ourselves a demon. Works for me."

Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and this spell will land us hot on the tail of the dude that's hurting C. I shrug at the thought and survey the room. C just looks pained, Twiggy has her mind set on doing the book thing, and I can see the wheels turning in Wes's head. He's got something cooking and I got a feeling it's gonna be good. In a way, I almost wish Soul Boy was here. Boy might be a jerk, but I'd feel better with somebody a little more tender than I am tending to the princess. I'm not exactly the cuddle type. Angel's down with the human comfort. I'm more of a touch and go kinda chick. Handshakes are more my thing. I'll leave the hugging to him.

Then it hits me. That chick! The one that did my nails all funky, she was sporting some seriously strange vibes. I knew something was up with her. If these things can shapeshift, then maybe that nail painting bitch was a demon in disguise. I knew my slaydar was going off in some major ways!

"Hold up!" I yell unexpectedly as I hop from my seat again. "I think I got something." Everybody looks at me expectantly so I take that as my cue to get with the explaining. "Hey C, you remember that chick that did my nails?"

Cor nods her head in the affirmative. "She was big with the creepy. You don't think she.... OH MY GOD! She's a demon isn't she?!"

I grin in response. My girl's got some serious brainpower working for her now. "I knew something was off about her but I couldn't get a handle on it. That shapeshifting power must really do a number in the masking of her demon essence. I got wicked weird vibes from her, but nothing that screamed demon at me. Girl must've sensed something different about me too. That's why we got jumped in the parking lot."

"And if we track her down then we can skip the spells and guessing game," C finishes off for me. Whoa. We're already finishing each other's sentences? Trippy. "One problem, the mall's been closed for hours now. It won't open again until 10 AM."

Leave it to C to have the mall's business hours memorized.

"We could always do a search for her on the internet," Twiggy offers up. "I mean, if we looked up the shop where she works we could get her name and address."

"Brilliant," Wes says and flashes his first smile of the night. Kinda freaky to see the uptight prude grinning like a fool. "Fred's excellent with computers; she should be able to track this woman down quite easily."

They share an intimate smile and I do the immature thing and start makin' gagging noises. C's none too pleased and coughs in annoyance. I don't stop. We might be almost girlfriends but she don't own me. Not yet. We'll save the pussy whipped act for after I get some. Maybe then I'll be feeling a little more obedient.

I just roll my eyes at the lovebirds. "Yea, yea. Research now, make out later."

Wes suddenly goes into boss mode and now he's on his feet, walking around like he owns the place. He's hot another plan brewing; I can see it in his eyes. After he's cleaned his already clean enough to eat off of glasses, he gets down to business. Finally.

"Alright, Fred and Faith, you two go back to the hotel. Fred can research this woman and Faith, you can make sure Fred has found the correct name. I will be staying at the hospital with Cordy to make sure she's alright and perhaps try a blocking spell to protect her from further psychic attacks. I do have my cell on me and Fred has hers as well, I assume. Ring me once you've found the woman and we'll go from there. I believe it would be best to injure the demon rather than kill it, as it is much more useful to us alive than dead. There is a cage in the basement of the Hyperion exactly for this sort of purpose. Faith, I want you to bring a tranquilizer with you. We have a well stocked case full of them in the weapons cabinet. I believe Angel can show you where it's located at within the hotel. Only kill if it's an absolute must."

I wrinkle my nose some at the thought of having to make nice with Angel. I'm probably the last person the boy wants to see right about now. Not that I can blame the guy. Hell, if somebody moved in on my lover, I'd be pissed off too. I figure he can spare me the beatdown and give me a good shove in the direction of the weapons. C don't want him involved in this so I'll just say I'm going out on patrol and need a little booster. Fist power isn't exactly adequate against the big nasties. You need some hardcore metalwork to take down those guys. I got my dagger with me so I figure I'll grab a crossbow, a tranq gun and then be on my merry demon killing way.

"Anything else, master?" I ask sarcastically, raising up an amused brow at Wes's sudden bout of the bossy. I'm sorry but I just can't take the guy seriously. Maybe the Fang Gang's gotten over the prissy dude he used to be and can look at him with respect but I'm not them. I haven't experienced much of the new Wes so I'm biting back the laughter half the time at his wicked stoic glances and take charge attitude. He's like a little boy trying to fit in with the big kids. I get that he's serious but... damn. I'm having a hard time believing that he's a pretty fly guy now.

"No," he shakes his head, not happy with my usual disrespect for authority figs. "That will be all."

"Alright then," I grin and just for kicks, I decide to show these guys that they're not the only ones making a love connection tonight. I stroll over to C's bed and turn my expression tender as I brush away a few strands of sweaty hair. Funny how she can be hurt like she is and still look beautiful. I lean down and a place a soft kiss on her lips and then pull away with some major regret. "Don't die on me while I'm gone, babe. You know I'll kick your ass if you so much as think of biting it."

A pained smile crosses her lips and she manages a small laugh. "I could say the same thing about you, hon. Be safe, okay? We still don't know how tough these demons are."

"Are you kidding me, C? This is what I was built for! I won't be dying when I got a damsel in distress to save from the big bad."

She knows I'm only playin' so she don't make a big fuss about me calling her the damsel. I know she's a strong chick in her own right. I just like to tease her. Keeps her on her toes, you know?

"Faith," the skinny chick says in a small voice. I spin around and cock my head at her in the universal way of saying "what do you want?" without gettin' verbal. "I... I think we should go now. Charles is in the waiting room and he says he'll drive us back to the Hyperion."

"Are we riding in that sweet ride of his?" I ask, referring to that monster truck he's got. I always had a thing for stuff like that. Big and loud is the way to go when it comes to your ride. You want to show the other cars who's boss when you're on the road. Nobody cuts off a monster truck. Maybe I'd take Wes up on his driving lesson idea after all. Gunn seems like he's an all around cool guy. I could fly with him, no problem.

Girl looks confused and then it dawns on her and her whole face lights up. "Oh you mean his truck? It's the only thing Charles ever drives."

"Cool," I breathe out appreciatively and decide it's time to say goodbye. I give C's hand a little squeeze and flash a hopeful grin. "I'm gonna bag this demon for you baby."

"Go get 'em, tiger," she grins back at me bravely. I gotta hand it to her, for a chick in a world of pain, she sure ain't showing it much.

The lovebirds do their goodbye kiss thing while I wait by the door and stare down at the floor to avoid watching the scene. Wes and frenching just doesn't sit well with me. It's kinda like watching your parents go at it to have your former watcher macking on his girl. Now I know what B felt like when Giles got it on with her mom. I used to tease her about that whole thing and she'd either snap and punch me or change the subject real quick. Only time she ever wanted to talk about screwing the undead was when I talked about what an animal Giles must be in bed. I mean, I heard those Ripper stories from my first Watcher. Council wasn't too keen on the G-man so I heard a lot of nasty tales about his past. I bet he wears a leather g-string under all that tweed.

When the lipsmacking sounds end, I look up and me and Twiggy are out the door. Gunn's out in the lobby looking totally out of place and I gotta laugh at the boy.

"Hey man, don't look so glum. I'm not big on hospitals either but I don't let the man get me down."

I make with the ever common street handshake and we share a moment of understanding with one another. Even if I'm wicked pale, I get what life on the street is like. You don't gotta be mocha colored to get what the ghetto's like. It's like I told C, you learn to toughen up at an early age. It's either beat 'em or join 'em. I was on the verge of joining when I got myself some wicked slayer powers to up my muscle power in a major way and turn my fight from the streets to the supernatural.

Gunn here don't like hospitals 'cause the staff takes one look at him in his beanie and big jacket and assume he's up to no good in a nice place like this. I've gotten my fair share of that look. The staff was already looking nervous with me around. Add Gunn to the mix and you've got one jumpy paranoid group of docs and nurses ready to call the cops at the first sign of trouble.

"I ain't tripping," he replies defensively. Men. Always gotta be defending their macho status. "I was just wondering if the two of you were ever coming outta there. How's Cordy doing?"

"'Bout the same." Now it's my turn to get glum. "But we're making some progress. Twiggy's gonna hook us up with the location of our demon pal and then it's beatdown time. You wanna tag along?"

"You want me to watch your back?" he asks, somewhat surprised that a chick he barely knows is gettin' her nice on for him.

"Yea, you think you can handle it big guy?" I look him over, taking my time to let my eyes roam over his big biceps and what I guess is some hot abs under that wifebeater he's got on under the jacket.

"Handle it?" he laughs loudly as if that's the funniest thing he heard all day. Probably is, now that his ex-flame's got a new hunk to mack on. "Girl, I've been doing this for most of my life. Maybe you should be the one watching my back."

"With an ass like that, I'd watch your back all day," I retort flirtatiously. A little ego stroking can go a long way with guys like this. "But, I'm kinda taken now, so I guess you'll just have to settle for watching mine."

I quirk a brow at him and turn around in a full circle, giving him a clear view of my goods. He whistles in appreciation and then clamps a hand down between my shoulder blades. "Damn. I think I'm gonna like working with you."

Our battle gets cut short when Twiggy gets tired of watching us try to out macho the other. She's wicked eager to get this show on the road and I gotta agree with her. I don't think she digs the nick I gave her but she don't say nothing (probably 'cause I get the impression she's scared of me, seein' as how I am a slayer/ex-convict and could snap her twiggy neck just like that.) so I don't stop.

My mind's on other things anyway. I'm permanently stuck in worry mode over C and my nerves have got me so fuckin' spazzy that I'm squirming in my seat like a kid that's gotta take a piss real bad. Twiggy better be the computer genius Wes says she is. I'll feel all kinds of better once I'm pulling a break and enter on demon chick's place and tranq that bitch to the ground. I can be wicked persuasive when I wanna be. Torture is my forte and you can bet your ass I'll have her telling me all I need to know to save C in no time flat.

This is gonna be fun.

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...reality bends to desire... [24 Jun 2004|03:16am]

[ mood | sore ]

'So I'm all of a sudden engaged to be marrying...him.'

I turned my face in Wesley's general direction in partial disgust and annoyance in being tied up in the hospital again in leather restraints.

'Chill C…' Faith started to warn me. 'Keep your voice down man. Do you want everyone to know we lied?'

I closed my eyes partially in due to the terrible pain that was consuming my body, disgusted with my outer appearance completely and in just sheer irritation over the fact that I could be dying here and I'm all of a sudden betrothed to some pompous British ex-Watcher, Demon Rouge Hunter who can barely get a date let alone keep a girl who has any interest in him what so ever. Yeah, you bet I was a little hot under the collar.

Oh yeah, boy was I so hot.

I notice Wesley stiffen somewhat in his stance as he straightened his shoulders and somehow managed to square them, looking at me with a kind pitying look but then changing to one of slight irritation battling with the calm.

'Cordelia really, do you find me all that unattractive?'

He had to go there. Boy did he ever have to go there. What did he expect me to do, lie to him? I mean yeah, so maybe I might have thought he was a little hot pre-here and then there was that whole him showing up wearing leather, riding a motorcycle and referring to himself as the 'Demon Rogue Hunter' sporting that whole, 'A lone wolf never works with anyone' crap. Maybe that was appealing for all what…maybe a nanosecond and a half.

But come on this is Wesley we're talking about. I mean sure he's all 007 in a tux not to mention he made me look extremely hot at the Prom, but at the end of the day…he's just, well you know. He's just Wesley and that's all he's ever going to be. I mean he's my friend, more like my family. Okay that was just wrong on so many levels. So not even going there.

What do I need demons, warlocks, witches and big nasties to give me mental horrors for when I'm pretty much capable of doing that all on my own. See, I just did it again now. And any minute I can stop having these visions now, thank-you please. I think sometimes I'd do my own self more harm than any big nasty wanna sink their claws into me ever could.

'Well you're not exactly mister tall dark and handsome all over hanging forehead brooding, are you?'

I couldn't help it. I was in pain. I could lie and say I blamed it on the medicines they were giving me but that wouldn't be right either. So okay Wesley wasn't exactly a dog either. He was handsome. He had these eyes that had a way of telling you a story all on their own. I'd be lying if I said I never had a crush on him. But that was all Sunnydale. That was pre-here like I said before. And this is now and I'm Cordelia Chase and I've never been one for tact.

What was it Giles had said to me?

'Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?'

Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass. That's not me. I'm going to tell it to you straight like it is. You don't like it. Tough. Just deal with it or suck it up. I don't give a rat's ass.

Right now only thing I care about is getting out of these leather restraints and getting home to my bed and knocking some demon on it's ass. You bet your ass, I'm more than hot right now. This is just not like me to lie around and watch everything happening, not when I could be helping.

And I needed to be helping because this is my mission. Angel or no Angel I was going to solve this. This was my vision. The PTB gave it to me along with a massive headache and it was up to me to keep the Slayer safe and out of harms way. But it was beginning to look as if I was going to need a little bit of help doing it, which is why I hated trying to be tactful with Wesley when the truth is I don't have a tactful bone in my body.

Lets just face it I'm always going to be let's just tell the truth and get it over with girl and that's something that's never going to change. Though I cringed a little when I saw his face fall slightly and then watched him shuffle off to the side of the room. He cared about me, perhaps more than he let on. I know what he whispered to me when he thought I wasn't able to hear him for all of the what was the word they were using, see this is where I get lost in translation here, big words and me, especially medical terms don't really have a way of meshing well. In fact we don't mesh at all.

Dementia. I think maybe that's what they had said. Something to do with the mind and all and not making sense. And okay maybe I wasn't making any sense but who could make sense of this anyway. If I was the average everyday person, and I'm not because let's face it I never was anyway, this would not be happening to me. There is no way to explain this. And the way they were all looking at me, poking me and talking in hushed tones made me think I was about to become some weird rat assignment.

'Oh please everyone just knows tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass.'

I watched as he did the old Giles Watcher type thing and took his own glasses off cleaning them before putting them back on his face and turning to face me as he stole a glance in Faith's general direction before his voice sounded low and almost defeated, as if I had somehow diminished him and his pride in some unethical way.

'I see. That's how you feel.'

He paused for a moment his eyes betraying his every emotion before he straightened himself up and put his quiet resolve face on.

'Wesley, no...um I mean...that's not...damnit!'

I cursed quietly. That's not what I had meant to do. I hadn't meant to make him feel like he was that worthless, because he wasn't. He was one of the of the two, well three people that I could absolutely trust my life with and the last thing I wanted to do was make him feel like he was worthless like he didn't belong there.

Oh he belonged there. Oh boy did he belong there.

'Cordelia,' his voice was older and British as he spoke slowly and evenly, 'it's okay, really. I'm used to it by now.'

Fred. I thought of her when I looked at Wesley. I knew he loved her. I'd known it all along. The two of them just sort of somehow fit, made sense. I remember the dinner party he invited everyone to just so he could be close to Fred. I even remember encouraging him to tell her of his feelings he'd had for her. He wouldn't though. He'd told me that he'd strike when the iron was hot. But he didn't get the chance, because somehow she had ended up with Gunn. That was the last person of all people I expected her to be with.

I felt sorry for Wesley. Every time he looked in Fred's direction he seemed a little pained and every time the two of them got all researchy and stuff, Gunn seemed to turn all possessive and crap. It made for some tense times in the hotel. And sometimes it almost threatened to interfere which was why sometimes I had to play referee and send them to their opposite corners despite the childish behavior and manly testosterone they proceeded to parade around daily when it came to her.

'Wesley,' my voice was soft and I did the best I could to motion with my two fingers since my hand was strapped down, 'I'm sure if you just tell her she would feel the same way. I know that her and Gunn aren't together anymore. Their own the outs. That came from her. But you didn't hear it from me. She swore me to secrecy.'

I did my best to give him a small comforting smile and the relief that became apparent in his eyes mirrored the somewhat relief I felt for having gotten it out there. What was a little match making in the ICU while we waited for the supplies and the rest of the demonology report to come back on our big bad.

My eyes turned from him momentarily to Faith and I studied her. I found myself studying her composure. She was now sitting in the chair not saying anything. It was almost as if she were trying to shrink back and give Wesley and I some privacy. I seriously didn't want her thinking that she was taking a back burner to the former Watcher when all he was to me was just a friend. I mean sure maybe once upon a time pre-here I would have looked at him with different eyes in a different way, but now it was eyes through a Seer and the visions seemed to be killing me.

Or at least they weren't until this big bad nasty had somehow gotten a hold of me. Whatever was happening was turning out to be a lot more scarier than anything I'd ever faced and I knew I was going to need someone next to me for the long but the thing is, I hadn't realized that that someone was going to be Faith until I had finally let myself go the night before, you know with the whole passing out and being brought into the ER by a couple of crazy people who probably managed to make the insane look more sane than the two of those had been, and told her that I cared about her.

I remembered that. I wasn't so delirious that I hadn't realized just exactly what I was doing. The truth is I had wanted that kiss that Angel had walked in on and interrupted. And a part of me was both happy and relieved that I had gotten the chance to be so forward as to kiss her that night. It was just barely a whisper of a touch but the last thing that I remember was the soft feel of her warm, full and moist lips against mine and then her breath baby soft against my skin. After that it was pitch black and touch and go until I woke up in an ammonia soaked atmosphere in leathers being poked and prodded to death with little sterile sharp thingies or whatever.

His smile was soft as he leaned down and placed a soft kiss to my forehead. It was innocent really but the look I saw crawl across Faith's face was one of almost jealousy. Was she jealous? Oh boy this was going to be so much fun. We weren't even a thing or whatever and here was already acting like a jealous girlfriend. I would have to remember later to assure that Wesley would never be a threat. I think she realized that when she caught my look and flashed me one of her wry smiles.

Girl's a little strange but she's mine and I gotta admit I kind of like the sound of that.

'Shh,' he said softly, 'don't worry about that right now. We'll talk about that later or perhaps we won't. In any case I have some more research to do and I need to consult another book, so I am going to leave for a bit.'

I watched as he turned to Faith and nodded in her general direction. She was already on her feet and standing towards the foot of my bed in a protective manner. Was there anything she couldn't do without making herself look intimidating or threatening?

'I trust you'll see no more harm comes to her.'

He looked back down at me and then back towards her, a concerned expression on his face. It was as if he were almost afraid to leave me alone for fear of what might happen to me. But I know that deep down he knows that I'm a strong woman, I've been through things similar to this, so it's bound to be all right to leave me in the capable hands of the Slayer.

My Slayer.

'Sure thing Wes.' Faith nodded to him. 'Got it all under control here. Unless C gets some wicked idea she wants to bust out of this place and I have to restrain her even further.'

She cast a wicked glance in my direction and I just shook my head. To tell you the truth that's all the strength that I had to do. I was so tired from all the drugs and fluids they were pumping into my system, not to mention the non-stop oh hey did I mention fun little stroll through painville that I was experiencing to do anything else.

'Pretty sure that won't be a problem.'

Wesley's voice still filled with concern, he turned to look back at me again.

'Well, if you're sure.'

'I'm fine. Go.'

I said and nodded once again firmly. I had that look don't ask again and go get all happy researchy with Fred because I know that's what you want to do look in my eyes and I swear I heard him chuckle softly. I don't know if Faith caught it or not, but I did. I knew Wesley just about as well as I knew Angel and maybe sometimes that was a little too well. It was common knowledge just how much he adored Fred. And I could see the two of them together. They were absolutely adorable they way they would talk in scientific rambles and hunker down over the books and get their research on.

'Well, okay then. I shan't be too long.'

He returned once more to his former Watcher status and old British gentlemanly ways. I couldn't resist flashing him the best lopsided smile I could give him.

'Take all the time you need. Now get out of here before I have Faith throw you out.'

I watched as Faith stepped up to him like she was ready to take him down and he sort of backed of with a soft grin of his own, his eyes warm with enthusiasm in her little attempt to accost him.

'Wouldn't want that to happen now, would we Watcher man?'

Faith's voice was borderline serious with an underlying tone of jealousy to it and half jokingly with light amusement at our repartee.

'No, we wouldn't.'

There was a slight pause and another round of grins before Wesley's voice filled the room again on his way out of the door to my private room.

'I will return soon. I just have a little more research to do,' he ignored my knowing look I cast him and continued with his next stream of thoughts, 'Cordelia, do you need anything while I'm out?'

He asked in a polite way.

I hadn't given much thought to it but I figure why not, I needed some clothes. Thing was did I really want Wesley going through my lingerie drawer knowing what I wore underneath-um okay really not going there the thought alone was getting way to disturbing for even me to entertain. It was a picture of disturbing. A whole freaking canvas of disturbing painted all over it and um, no. I think I would have Faith do that or whatever. Later, you know.

'Well...' my voice was a little hesitant but then I plunged right in thinking maybe it would be the perfect opportunity for him and Fred to have an excursion out even if it was to my apartment so they could pick up some clothes for me.

'There's this kind of blood soaked pile of well not so cool clothes anymore over there in a heap in the chair and I can say that I'm pretty much not a vision of hotliness in this hospital garb they have me in, not to mention my hair is all oily and ratty and my face feels dry and of course I'm just looking pretty rough. I would like to be a little cleaned up, do you think you could get Fred to go with you to my apartment to pick me up a fresh pair of clothes among some other personal effects? Please?'

I turned my pleading eyes towards him and he smiled like the gentleman I always knew him to be.

'Of course. That won't be a problem at all. Let me go now and I call Fred from the car, we'll meet there at the Hyperion, do our research and then we'll stop by your apartment to pick up a few personal items for you on the way back to see you in the hospital. If I know Fred, she'll be worried sick about you and insist that I bring her along to see you. I think it will do her some good to get out of the hotel these days.'

I smiled gratefully at him once more. Whew. Thank goodness, that went over pretty good.

'Right, then. See you soon.'

He smiled as he exited my room and we watched him disappear around the corner. Faith watched as the door shut behind him, standing at the foot of my bed for a few long moments. I wasn't sure if she was going to say anything or just keep staring at me the way that she was. It was almost scary in a way and I felt more nervous now than I had when Angel walked in on that almost that had almost happened.

'You know, C…' she started in her usual typical Faith undertone. 'You're really something else, don't you?'

I rolled my eyes at her. Here we go, the same old boring routine the two of us had somehow sort of fallen into. There would be a point to this right?

'What now, Faith? My near death experience and visions manifesting too much for you to handle now? You read to bail on me?'

I knew I was wrong for saying that as soon as it was out of my mouth but the old Cordelia sort of creeped back in, the one that had her pride and wouldn't let on how much she needed someone to help her survive and how scared she felt even though she knew she was so much stronger than she gave herself credit for.

I snapped in fear. I can't help it. Sue me. I never believe that I would ever care for the Slayer the way that I do.

My Slayer.


Her face was incredulous. She looked between angry and half relieved at sinking back into the old routine the two of us had going for us. And maybe there was a little hurt there in her eyes but if there was I didn't get the chance to see it any further when she shook her head and looked down at her feet before coming around to the side of my bed and glaring down at me.

'You know you have got some nerve, C. You know that? This is crap. You know that's not the deal. That's not even what I'm talking about. I went through hell and endured Wesley just to get your ass to the hospital so I wouldn't lose you. Damnit!'

I could tell she was definitely hurt. I had wounded her pride somehow, tapped into that last vestige of humanity that she still had but held on reserve. You know the part that she held back from everyone, well everyone that wasn't Angel. But see he was Soul Boy to her, the great redemptionist on a mission to save her soul, to give her a choice and stand by her if she made the right one.

'Then what the hell are you talking about?'

I raised my voice slightly agitated at the whole idea of this conversation even taking place in the first place. It wasn't as if I needed the added stress. I mean hello me lying in a hospital bed near traumatizing and not to mention life altering state of consciousness.

I watched as she moved closer and hesitated slowly before coming to rest a little closer at the side of my bed, feeling the weight of her body as she slowly sat down. She could look anywhere but at me. I think if the truth be known she was concentrating on a crack in the wall while I was studying the crack in the ceiling that had somehow magically appeared out of nowhere.

Magic. Boy I had had enough of that for one lifetime. I don't know how much more my mind, body and spirit could take it. And did I have a spirit? I didn't think now was the time for me to be contemplating my spiritual attributes that I'd either acquired or hadn't when Faith was obviously struggling with something she thought was important enough to tell me in her little tirade she had launched herself into since Wesley had left.

I wondered had he reached the Hyperion yet and told Fred? I was giddy about that. I just hoped he didn't let it slip who told him. Fred couldn't say mad at me for that long. She was like the younger but slightly older sister that I'd never had. Or maybe that was the other way around and she deserved to be happy. Or well maybe, at least one of us did.

Maybe I would if I would just shut-up long enough to listen to what Faith was trying to tell me. But this is Cordelia Chase we're talking about her and she always has something to say whether it's ditzy or meaningful or just plain chalk full of spitfire.

I did my best to wrap my fingers around Faith's hand through the leather restraints and whispered softly to her,

'Go on, I'm listening.'

'Chill C,' her voice was nervous. 'I'll get there. Just give me a minute, okay.'

'Okay.' I whispered back.

I could feel my eyes misting over and I felt like and probably looked like the world's most horrid sight. Suddenly I felt embarrassed, open and vulnerable. I knew that I didn't look like the vision of myself I had been before. Now I was ugly, punished and just plain scared. And that feeling shook me to the core. The shock of what happened had finally wore off and my resolve was beginning to crack but I told myself that I had to hold it together long enough to hear what Faith had to say and then maybe I could fall apart and she would help put me back together.
Because that's what I wanted wasn't it? It's strange to think of it that way, when oh say if it had been a few months ago I would have never entertained the thought of it. But so much had changed within the last year that who we had been was not who we were now. And maybe that part was a good thing. Maybe the new would be better than the old. But sometimes, I find myself missing you know, but it's again with the what we can't haves and that doesn't matter as much as the what I want to haves right now.

And what I want is Faith.

I drew in a breath and let it out slowly as I thought silently.

I just hope she wants me to.

What finally seemed like hours but was only a few agonizing minutes later Faith's voice filled the room. It was so raw, honest and open than I'd ever heard be that it almost hurt listening to what she had to say.

'See, I'm not really good at this type of stuff, C.'

She started and I could see the look of fear and panic washing over her face. Her eyes gave away betrayed her even further with their look of total embarrassment and shock at what she was to admit next.

'What type of stuff, Faith?'

I encouraged her to speak freely. I figured if we couldn't be honest with one another now when it really counted, after everything we'd been together in the last few days then we would never be able to be honest with one another and what good would be without that?

Okay so a bit redundant there but you get the point. At least I hope it had been gotten across.

'This, C.'

She gestured with her other hand.

'Look around, you, me and Wesley. And even Angel. That kiss that almost happened back at the apartment, the gift that you gave me and even that weird bonding thing with Wesley. I don't understand…suddenly I have all these feelings going on inside and that's so totally not like me to have them. I'm always the one to run away from this kinds of stuff. I'm more of a loner. I'm not a homemaker, in fact usually I'm the home wrecker.'

My eyes widened at her words. My voice cut her off softly as I asked curiously.

'Wait a minute,' I was slightly confused partially due to the medicines they were pumping into my system on overload and partially due to her words and thoughts being so choppy it was almost hard to follow along, 'what are you talking about, Faith?'

She turned her face towards mine, her eyes resting on mine as she spoke again, this time her voice a notch lower an almost incredulous look appearing on her face.

'You can't really tell me you're too ditzy to realize that some things going down between the two of us, can you?'

Before I even had a chance to interject with any thoughts of my own or come to my own ditzy defense she continued, her hand squeezing mine momentarily.

'The kiss, C. I'm talking about the kiss that you gave me last night. You know the one where you said you cared about me, that there are people that do care and then you leaned up and kissed me before you blacked out. Geeze, C. I don't know what you think you were trying to do or what you were thinking but, playing with a girl's mind like that. It ain't…'

My voice was raw and almost hurt, my words thick on my tongue, 'It ain't what?'

I whispered hoarsely.

'It ain't right, C. You don't play with someone's mind if you don't mean it. Because where I come from, that'll get you straight hurt. You gotta be honest and follow through. You don't get to wake up and decide one day I'm going to dress up pretty, buy a girl a nice pointy thing and then say at the end of the day how much you care about her and then kiss her like that if you don't intend to make it real. That's the way it's gotta be, C. I'm not a half way girl, never been and never will be. I'm the way I am, Faith. You know, the Slayer. Take me as I am or don't fuck with me again because you're killing me here.'

My mind whirled with all of the possibilities of the things she had just expressed to me. A part of me wanted to be angry with her for doubting my sincerity in that kiss but another part of me understood where she was coming from. Faith had been alone for pretty much all of her life and so it was just natural for her to rely on herself to get by. She didn't need anyone else's help as long as she had herself and now her Slayer powers.

My kissing her changed all of that though. It opened something up to her that scared her. And even though she was still too proud to admit it and probably never would. She liked it. I know she liked it or she wouldn't still be here sitting on the side of my bed, holding the hand of a woman who looked like a gigantic crater face whatever other adjective you could possibly use to describe my hideous appearance now, telling me how she really felt about that kiss and the events of that night.

She was worried about me naturally and not just because I'm the Seer and hey lets face it she needs me to survive if she doesn't want to get her Slayer ass kicked by this demon that's been vying for her blood and seems to now want a piece of me. But still that part of her that's scared well that part's still doing what it knows how to do best when it's defenses are down, it's lashing out at me and I just have to keep telling myself I have to be understanding because if it were me in her situation I'd probably do the same thing to.

Truth time now. She probably hates me for kissing her and forcing her to figure out what it all means. Well tough, I'm still trying to figure out what it all means too. I just figure what could it hurt, you know we do the whole figuring things out together routine. It seems to be what we do best these days. Still there's the hurt look on her face. And it's almost more painful than what my body's going through right now to look at. I turned my face away as a small tear escaped my eye and rolled down my cheek.

'What are you talking about, Faith?'

I ask again as I turned my face back towards her, my eyes scanning over her features. She's changed the scared look in her eye with one of slightly annoyance at my obvious obliviousness towards her point.

'You don't know, do you?'

She asked me. Was that just me or was there a little bit of contempt in her voice? What the hell was going on?

'Know what, Faith? How can I know anything when I don't understand the whole point to this?'
I was frustrated and confused all at once. That seemed to be a feeling going around all of these days. It was pretty much size. Oh yeah, I wore it well.

Vision of confusion.

'Think I'm blind to the way you look at him?'

Her voice was had a slight edge to it, almost icy.

'Him who, Faith?'

And I thought about it for a second. Only the obvious.



I stated the obvious that must have been there between the two of us and I didn't even stop to realize how that would make her feel. She's probably upset because she feels like she's coming in the on the heels of something that might have been when the truth is it could never be and for reasons that I myself am not even sure let alone him. She probably just feels like another rebound social thing of the moment that when Cordelia Chase has had her fill of the girls she's going to run back to the boys.

And even I have to admit that maybe in the beginning that's what this might have been but the truth that's not what it is now. And I have the difficult task at making her believe that. But the question is.

How do I do that?

'Sorry C, hate to burst your little bubble there but Soul Boy ain't got nothin' to do with it this time.'

Then who?

'Wesley...' I whispered softly as I chewed on my lower lip.

I couldn't believe she would even think in terms of my thinking in terms of him that way. There's just absolutely no way. I don't get why-okay maybe I can get why she might think that. I mean we are probably a little too affectionate for the occasional on-looker but he's, Wesley…I mean he's well…he's just Wesley. He's like a brother to me. A brother that I happened to think was insanely handsome and probably still do to a point once upon a time pre-here and okay a little after here too…but that's just, no. That's disturbing. There's nothing like that going on between the two of us.

Faith's snark interrupted my stream of incoherent thoughts.

'Ding, ding, ding. Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner, Johnny tell the little lady what she's won.'

'Faith,' I struggled to sit up but couldn't and rested my head back against the pillow my vision still focused on her, 'don't do this. I don't even look at him that way. It's not right. He's one of my best friends. I told you last night, I care about you. I meant it.'

She shook her head as she forced herself to look at me.

'Meant what C?'

Her tone was almost accusatory.

'I meant the gift, the talk, the whole 'I care about you…' and the kiss. It was a good kiss by the way, you're lips are soft. I liked it. I wouldn't mind…'

She stopped me as she pressed her finger softly to my lips.

'Faith what…'

I mumbled slightly as my body convulsed with involuntary spasms as another rippled of pain tore through me, I cried out in pain as another vision hit full on force this time and all I could see, taste and feel was darkness. It was burning, I was burning and it hurt beyond anything I'd ever felt before.

Oh God, why now. Why me. This hurts. It hurts so bad. It's not supposed to be happening to me, this is not the way it's supposed to be.

Tears pooled in my eyes and all I could do was squeeze them shut until the blinding painful effect ended and I was able to re-open them only to see Faith's face positioned above mine as her hands were holding my body down. She wore this I'm so scared you're going to die and leave me all alone look on her face followed by that and if you do that then I'm just gonna have to look up in the afterlife and kick your ass for leaving me alone one.

'I just needed to hear you say it, C. That's all.'

I nodded at her as I felt her lips against my forehead where I was burning up. It felt soothing, cool to the touch and gentle. I'd never felt her this way before. I'd always only known the hard double-edge Faith that she presented to the world, not this kinder, a little tamer Faith that she was presenting to me now.

And then there was softness being pressed against my mouth and she was kissing me. She was really kissing me and there was salty tears flowing from my eyes as I struggled with one of my hands but couldn't get it out of the leather restraint and all I wanted to do was run my fingers through her hair. I just wanted to touch her face, cup her chin in mine and tell her that she's all that matters to me right now that I know she needs me as much as I need her.

And in that moment I never really understood exactly what I needed until I looked into Faith's eyes and saw that she had relinquished all control to me, for the time being. There was no doubt that she would take that assertiveness back and be as tough as ever, but the softer side of her, the side that let down her fears, the one I was beginning to dig a hole into, that was crumbling and in a matter of time she would be mine, if she wasn't already.

And I wondered…

Were we both ready to pass this test?

Because isn't that what the PTB are all about?

Tests of strength and endurance. Tests to see what you will do when put in a life or death situation. Tests to see what you will do or even if you will sacrifice what you could have with someone you love for the greater good of the world?

At least that's what they had taught me the night that Angel sunk to the bottom of an ocean in a box that had been welded shut and I had gotten taken up to the Powers That Be.

'I'm scared. But I know I'm all right. I know it's all going to be all right.'

I never stopped thinking those words. Strange to think that now here I am lying in a hospital bed strapped down with leather restraints, pain beyond imaginable pain ripping through my body and a tough dark haired Slayer my only hope at happiness.

Boy, reality does bend to desire.

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Amends [18 Jun 2004|02:00pm]

[ mood | scared ]

My voice cracks at the end of the line. God, I hate this... all this admitting that sometimes, I need more than just *me* to handle a situation. It's just not me, you know? I'm supposed to be the strong one here, dammit! Now I'm on the phone with Wussley my ex-watcher and by the sounds of it? He ain't any happier than I am about it. I'm trying not to seem as frantic as I am. Get a fucking grip, Faith! You can't help the girl if you lose your mind. Just gotta play it cool.

"There's no time to explain," I continue, my eyes never leaving the unconscious form of Cordelia Chase. "Just please Wes, she needs you. I need you."

Before he can say no, I hang up the phone. You know me, I'm not exactly miss manners. I can be real polite when I want to be, like whenever I hung with Mrs. S. -- I worked the thanks you ma'ams the way I work my man or woman in bed, and she thought I was a class act until I tried to kill her daughter; but we all know I'm generally not much of a putting others first person. There's no please in want, take, have. 'Sides, if I don't give him the chance to say no, he has to come. At least, that's the way my twisted mind sees it. If we waste all our time on the phone, I might as well swipe a shovel from the local Walmart and start digging C a grave right here.

With the phone put down and my hands empty, I start to pace back and forth, unsure of what to do here. How do you treat injuries that are bein' inflicted by some kind of psychic attack? There's nothing for me to fight and I feel wicked useless just pacing holes in teh carpet like I am. What good is a slayer when you're bein' tortured by your own fucking mind? Not like I can just jump into her brain and sever the tie between her and whatever's doing this to her. To be frank here, it sucks having all this fire power and nothing to blast. I'm no Florence Nightingale either, so it's not like I trust myself to even touch the chick at this point. Girlfriend's a sight for sore eyes right now.

I figure I can least make her comfortable until help comes. A bed would be nice, right? I mean, if I were a human barbeque I'd rather roast on my bed than be left out in the middle of a hallway. I pick the chick up, careful not to aggravate her injuries further, and carry her off to her bedroom. Me being gentle, must be a cold day in Hell right now. Just keeps gettin' colder as I lay her across it and bite down on my lip, almost hard enough to draw blood. I can't imagine the kinda pain she's gotta be in pain. Hell, it hurts me just seeing her as bad off as she is.

Wes had better run every red light and get his prissy British ass over here as fast as he can. I hear he got himself a biker makeover and now he sports a Harley between his thighs. Funny, I always pegged him as Rolls-Royce type of guy. The thought of princess Margaret on bike is a little disturbing to tell the truth. I still can't get past the major dweeb in tweed he was in Sunnydale. Let's face it, he's no 007. More like a 00Loser but he's trying and I'm redeeming, so I ain't gonna say anymore on the subject.

I try to think about anything but Cordy's condition while I sit here on the foot of the bed, which naturally means it's the only thing I can think about. Ain't life a hoot? I know I'm laughing.

She kissed me. Told me she cared about me and then she kissed me. So, maybe it was lacking the usual passion and lust I'm used to in a kiss, but it held something deeper than the usual touch-and-go sexy lip action that just leads to empty feelings and cold hearts afterwards.

I'm not saying I'm giving up my old lifestyle for a new fuzzy one, it's just that in prison, I kinda put a cap on my nightly endeavors. Sure, I had my pick of the lot; but come on now, in the case of those girls? The stock is weak in the gorgeous types and strong in the so butch I thought I was at a men's prison types, so I learned to chill whenever I got that low down tickle.

Now with C? It's a whole 'nother story. Girl's flat-out gorgeous. She knows is, I know it. Hell, the whole world probably knows it with the way she walks it like she owns the globe. Even version humanitarian Cordelia has a confidant stride and a stellar attitude that makes me want to fall right in line... with her bed. She hasn't let herself go, even with the whole nurturing gig she's got going on. So being in the same room with her after a big fight takes some serious will power on my part not to just jump her already. God, it's still so hard to believe we've only spent a few days together. Feels more like a few months.

Then again, guess time goes by different when you get some, you know, variety in your life after a long stretch of stagnant motion and monotonous days. It's beyond weird to be right smack in the middle of the same old craziness you took a two year vacation from. I almost forgot about what crap these people put up with on a day-to-day basis. Can't even get your shopping done without a demon attack in the parking lot.

I sigh for what's gotta be the millionth time that day, leaning my head into my hands and rubbing at my temples. What the hell am I even doing here? Did I really think I could make a difference? Whole lot of good I'm doing just sitting around on my ass waiting for things to happen. Cordy wouldn't be sportin' massive injury if it weren't for me being here with her. I know this drill. Hell, I fuckin' invented this drill! When you're the big bad, it ain't enough to just straight up kill the one you're after. No, you gotta go after the people in their life first.

It hurts more when you're helpless to help the ones you love than when you're the one in some serious pain. Because nine times out of ten, you can deal with your own shit. But when it's other people, people you think you should be able to protect, 'cause hey, you're the goddammed slayer! You got those cool superpowers and should be able to rock that hero boat from here to fuckin' Mars, and yet it really doesn't matter, does it? Not when people you love are being destroyed 'cause you're not slayer enough to save them.

You think I don't understand that just 'cause I got an ego the size of Texas and a big beef with the world? Bullshit! I care. You think I wasn't scarred for life when Kakistos got my Watcher and I couldn't do a damned thing about it? And now a girl, one I'm just gettin' to know and like, is on the outs because I got some big nasty after me that's too chicken to come at me, so it gets me through my girl one of my buds instead.

I sniffle, much against my better judgment and steal another look at C. With a shaky hand, I manage to brush away a few strands of her hair off her face. My fingers linger longer than they would be if she was conscious and I whisper out to unhearing ears, "This is all my fault. I'm so sorry, C. I'm so sorry. Wes'll make it better, I promise. I'll kill him if he can't."

Right when I'm about to breakdown with a big boo-hoo fit, I hear a knock on the door. Fuck, that better be Wes. I wipe at my face and get up, checking out my reflection in the mirror above her dresser. I look scared, young and scared. Without the dark eye make-up I usually plaster on, I don't look a day over 16. Wes will probably shit bricks at the sight of Faith without her walls up.

I open up the door and stare my former watcher straight in the eye, a look that shows I mean business. "About time you showed up. I was beginning to think you wimped out on me."

Wes shifts, his discomfort wicked obvious. I'm surprised though, he looks surprisingly less annoyed than I thought he would be to be awakened in the middle of the night with a frantic phone call from a chick that tortured him half to death not two years ago. Looks like he didn't bother dressing either, he's decked out in a T-shirt and sweatpants. Not so much different from the oversized T I threw on after I heard a knock on my door. We all know I sleep in the buff.

"I came as quick as I could on such short notice," he replies gruffly.

There's a moment where we just stare at each other as former watcher and slayer, enemy, and accept the uneasy alliance we're gonna have to deal with if this gig's gonna work out better than how it worked out in Sunnydale. I get that he's a changed man and he seems to be grudgingly accepting the fact that I've changed too. Maybe we can form some sort of level of respect for one another along the line. I doubt we could ever be best buds though, and slayer and watcher is definitely out.

"C'mon, she's in the bedroom," I finally spit out after our silent truce.

I motion for him with my hand and he shuts the door behind him before following me down the hall. Not like he needs me to lead the way, he's just doing the polite British thing by not pushing past me and running to Cor like a madman. The clenched fists give it all away; he's not as calm on the inside as he is on the outside. Prison made me a master at reading body language.

I stand in the corner and just stare wordlessly as Wes rushes to her bedside. A strangled sound escapes his throat and for once, I ain't gonna poke fun at his wimpy tendencies. He begins stroking her face much like I had and whispering soothing words to her. I pick a spot on the ceiling to find real interesting while he has his private moment. I get the feeling that I'm invading something just by being in the same room as the two of them. They got some kind of creepy bond bordering on lovers, yet I can't ever see them getting groiny with another. Maybe more like brother/sister, I dunno. It's something else though.

"Faith," Wes's voice says, breaking the silence in the room. He's pulled himself together now and has that booklust in his eyes. Oh god, he's gone into Watcher mode and is gonna ask me like, a million questions I don't know the answer to. "What happened? How did she get like this?"

I know he ain't trying to do it, but I can feel the accusation in his voice. On some level, he suspects I had something to do with it. Like maybe this whole thing was a trap to get him here so I can finish what I started two years ago. It's not open hostility, just underlying suspicion. Can't blame the guy for that one so I'll let it slide.

"I don't know," I reply, trying real hard not to have an attitude about it. "Everything was cool last time I saw her, she went off to take a bath and I went to my room to catch some Z's. Next thing I know there's banging on my door and when I open it, there she was, babbling something about how her visions were manifesting and then she passed out. I was gonna take her to the hospital but she said to call you. My guess? Psychic attack. Or maybe some kind of spe-"

"Did you say her visions were manifesting?" Wes interrupts me.

"That's what I said, genius." I roll my eyes, not happy with his interruption. "Would you like a play-by-play? I'm not the world's best artist but I think I could map out the sitch for you."

"No, that's quite alright, I can take it from here," he says in that prissy way of his. My eyes roll again, this time so much so I think they might just fall out and give us a slew of new problems to deal with. "This has happened before. Thought I thought the ascension to a higher being and becoming half demon would have put an end to this type of situation happening."

He takes off his glasses and cleans them in the typical British librarian way. I still can't believe this guy owns a Harley.

"What about a spell?" I repeat what I was trying to get at before he oh so kindly interrupted me. "Maybe somebody out there knows what she's capable of and decided to hit her up with a bad break so they could get off scott free. I mean, if you take out the vision chick, there's not much of a way to let Angel know what's going on out there."

"True," he mutters and appears to think it over. I appear bored while screaming something massive on the inside. I want a quick fix, not a trip down detour alley full of "maybe"s and "what if"s. I called Wes over here to play doctor and give me that, all he's done in return is raise more questions and make me feel like I'm not good enough to help C just 'cause I don't have a high school diploma and Einstein levels of genius like him. Whatever. Those smarts are really helping you out now, huh Wes? You don't know anymore about this than I do! "Did anything else strange happen today? Angel mentioned a pendant earlier when Cordelia called the office."

"Oh yea, ugly thing. Not my style but Cordy seemed to dig it."

"Do you still have it?"

"Somewhere," I reply, waving my hand in a vague direction. "Our best bet is this bedroom. C seemed wicked keen on keeping it in close company of her person." I narrow my eyes suspiciously at him as I put two and two together. "You think that pendant has something to do with what's happening to the princess?"

"I'm not positive but I would bet quite a lot of money on it that it could be the cause of her condition, yes. May I see it?"

"If I can find it," I smirk over at him. "Give me a few."

I push off the wall I'm leaning on and sweep the room with my eyes. Nothing. At least, not in an obvious spot like the top of her nightstand or something like that. I make a quick detour to the bathroom to check the top of the sink. I spot it it behind the toothpaste and laugh. Way to keep ancient artifacts safe, C. Museums would just love you.

I re-enter the room with a bounce in my step and a grin on my face. I toss the pendant at an unexpectant Wes and call out, "Think fast, Watcher man!"

He doesn't think fast enough and the pendant just misses his outstretched fingers and lands with a clunk on the floor. Hope that doesn't screw with anything. I'd really be in the doghouse if I destroyed the only we got so far in this case. Wes glares for a moment before quickly reaching down to pick it up. I try to look innocent but it's not really working. Even as a kid I couldn't really work that look. Somebody once told me that I got a naturally deviant look about me, like I'm always hatching some kind of mischievous plan. That's only true half the time. The other half I'm forming ways to get out of the trouble I got in for said mischievous plan.

"That was hardly called for, Faith." he scolds while brushing some dust off. It's not broken so I don't get what his beef is about it. Boy's just sore 'cause he missed an easy catch.

"That's the beauty of it," I laugh, amused by how much some things never change. I stroll over to the dresser and pick up the book Soul Boy brought over. So what if hooked on phonics didn't work for me, I can match up a fuckin' picture. "Angel brought this book over," I announce as if it's groundbreaking news. "It might have something useful."

He's still busy gettin' a serious hard-on over this pendant. He keeps examining it in his hands like it's 14 carat gold or something. I personally think it looks like some old piece of costume jewelry my grandma would wear. It's big on the overdone and gigantic to boot.

"I haven't ever seen anything like this before," he mutters to himself or maybe to me, I'm not too clear on the issue. "It's simply amazing."

"And I've seen some just like it sold at the grocery store on Halloween," I pitch in. "What's so special about it?"

"Well for one, it's incredibly old," he answers as he holds it up to the light and squints at it like he's appraising it. "It has to be hundreds, perhaps thousands of years old. Now I believe these engravings hint towards it being some form of familial markings. It would be passed down from generation to generation through a certain blood line."

"Great. So should I start knocking on the door of everybody in Los Angeles asking them if this ugly piece of metal belongs to them?"

"No, no..." he starts, trying to hold back his temper for my attitude problem. "I can handle it just fine, thank you. May I take a look at the book?"

"Knock yourself out," I reply as I toss it at him. "What are we gonna do about Cordy in the meantime? She's not looking any healthier and I seriously doubt you can read this book fast enough, if it's even the right one, to save her from dying of, oh I don't know, blood loss."

"Right." Wes takes another look at C and cringes. Is it just me or did more burns just show up on her body? "We should take her to the hospital. They will be able to treat her for her wounds while we research a cure."

"We driving or should I call 911?"

He looks at me doubtfully and swallows what must be his pride at his next question. "Can you drive, Faith? I'm afraid my attention will be best kept at finding a cure for this and Cordelia is in no condition to handle her vehicle herself."

I wear my evil smile when I nod my head in the affirmative. Oh, I can drive... just not in a safe way for other cars that might be on the road. Never really got many drivers ed courses in with all the slaying and then the coma and now prison. It kinda put a damper on me learning the "do"s and "don't"s of the road. "Come on Wes," I snort. "I'm over sixteen, of course I can drive a car. Man, you really don't give me much credit, do you?"

"I'll give you credit where it's due if you can get us to the hospital in one piece."

"Then it looks like I'm our ride. You get the girl and I'll get the keys."

I'm mostly trying to steer clear of touching the sleeping beauty. I'm not much of a healer, I'm more of a destroyer. So I'm a little "eh" on my ability to be much help to the chick at this point. I'd rather give wimpy Wes here a chance to nurture his paternal instincts than give any instinct of mine a whirl. I grab the keys and make due as a door holder as Wes takes C into his arms and marches her out the door. I got the book and pendant too so I'm pulling my weight around here the best I can. Feel kinda sorry for Wussley though, he started lookin' wicked strained by the time we got to the car. It was a long walk and even if C's a woman in some great shape, it'll still give the muscles a serious work out.

He's huffin' and puffin' in his seat while I rev up the engine. Sleeping beauty remains unconscious in the back seat. I end up patting Wes on the back and giving him a good dosage of Faith humor.

"Feeling okay there, gramps? You're looking a little rough. Doesn't Angel make you lift weights or something if you're trying to be a badass demon hunter?"

"Carrying an unconscious woman a few hundred feet and staking a vampire are hardly the same thing," he manages to spit out between breaths. Gotta hand it to him, I figured he'd end up dropping her.

"Whatever you say man," I toss out, making it loud and clear that I still think he could use a little muscle. I'd offer to help in that department, but I think our past history is still too raw for us to be on friendly enough terms to spar. I flick on the radio to some rock station to kill the silence in the car and take off. The brakes squeak across the pavement and soon enough we're cruisin' down the street. I don't know where the Hell I'm going so I turn to my passenger for a clue. "Hey, I'm gonna need you to direct me. I'm not exactly familiar with the area."

"Oh right," he says, a little sheepish chuckle escaping. "Turn left at the stop light. Go straight for a few miles and then you'll see an exit for the hospital on the left side of the road. Turn in there and then follow the arrows to the Emergency Room."

"Sounds easy enough," I chirp happily. It'll be smooth cruising for this inexperienced driver. "Now buckle your seatbelts, I'm taking this baby into high gear!"

I pull back on the gear shift and slam my foot down on the accelerator. The wheels squeal loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood and we're going down the road at lightning speed. God, I love this! Nothing makes a girl feel her freedom more than fast ride down a deserted highway. Too bad Wes doesn't share my sentiment. He's got a steel grip on his book and is doin' more girly shrieking than he is researching.

"Good lord, Faith!" he yells as I make the first left turn. I think we got some actual air time with that one. Wicked! "Who taught you to drive? Evil Knieval?"

"The one and only!" I laugh cheerfully. "Man, that guy was the shit! Totally amped up my adrenaline and taught me some wicked moves. Though it's not the same without the hoops of fire and monster trucks."

Wes shakes his head and I feel a little bad for ribbin' him. I'm stickin' to he asked for it when he stuck it out there like that for me to play on. I can't pass up a good barb when I get one handed to me so easily. "Okay, for real now, I got taught by my old boyfriends. They'd give me the wheel every now and then and tell me to go for it. I never really got to go through drivers ed. Kakistos kinda ran me out of town before I could get enrolled and Sunnydale didn't have much to offer unless you went to school. I got robbed out of that whole experience."

For a moment, he almost looks sympathetic to my sob story about missin' out on being a teenager. I'm usually cool about it, my life wasn't normal to begin with so don't even think I'm pulling some kind of Buffy Summers sob story about how slaying ruined her chance at being prom queen and marrying Christian Slater. I'm just saying it would have been nice to get me a sweet ride to cruise around in. Sure as Hell beats takin' the bus or stowing away in cargos.

"Well, perhaps you can get lessons from Cordelia or even Angel," he offers up softly.

"Are you kidding me?" I nearly bust out laughing at the thought of either them giving me pointers. "Cordy rides like a grandma and were cars even invented when Angel was human? The offer's nice but I think I'll pass."

"Maybe Gunn would be a suitable teacher then."

"Gunn?" I ask. I search my brain for why that name sounds familiar. Oh yea, he helped me out of the joint. I kinda remember him having some big truck and a skinny girlfriend. "The streetkid right?"

Wes smiles. "I don't think he'd take too kindly to being called a kid, but yes, that would be Gunn. I would assume his abilities would be to your liking?"

"I'll think about it," I tell him honestly. It'd be a good way to pass the time, but I don't know if I want to sit around and get bossed around by somebody else. I just don't want to agree to something I might back out of later. Just makes me look like the same sell-out I always was and that's not me anymore; I can keep my word now. My tongue's gotten tighter these days. Not that I was ever much of a liar, anyway. If I was, B would be the one serving time while I got free rein of Sunnydale.

I turn left again onto the exit and do as Wes said before, just follow the arrows. Sounds like an easy task, but in all seriousness, it's fucking frustrating! Place is like a maze and makes me question why we didn't just call an ambulance and tailgate it there. At least it gives watcher man time to do his watcher thing. He takes advantage of my slower speed and gets to work on flipping pages to find us a match on the pendant.

Since I'm the cool and collected one, I push Wes out of the car and let him do his frantic thing and wave us down a stretcher. Next thing I know there's a big bustle of activity around us. Flashing lights, big white blurs of motion, and a mess of wires and even more machines. We get pushed off to sit in the waiting room which suits me fine. Drama isn't really my thing and I'm in the club of thinking I'd just get in the way. Let the docs do their job and I'll sit my ass in a chair and bite my fingernails while I wait for word on whether or not she's gonna be okay.

I pick up a magazine and start flipping through it, just to catch up on the news I missed while in the hole. I'm suddenly interrupted when Wes yelps out, "I think I've found it!"

I perk up and arch a brow in his general direction. "Think isn't good enough, book man."

"Come here and look," he says with a little more force than I'd like, but I shrug and give in to his demand. Once I'm peering down onto the page, he begins to read. "The demons, named Sinnesterung, are mainly a demon of the psyche, using the power of the mind in order to attack their victims rather than physical force. The demons are not physically strong by nature and it's natural form is only about 5 feet tall and its coat is usually black but has also been known to be dark brown or blue. The demon can take the form of animals and humans for a limited time only but for the small amount of time it takes another's shape, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference, making this a very difficult demon to kill. The Sinnesterung is attracted to those with great powers of the psyche, mainly witches and psychics. They were once known all throughout Europe to be vicious killers of the oracles of the time. Their numbers gradually decreased as time went on, turning these demons mainly to the underground until there is a person of significance to destroy."

I just arch my other eyebrow at him cynically. How can he be sure this is our demon? "That's great Wes, but what about the pendant?"

"I was getting to that," he replies gruffly. "Here," he flips through a few pages and points. "This page shows a number of various artifacts that have been known to attract Sinnesterung family of demons. Here is our pendant. As I predicted, it is quite old and is a family heirloom of sorts. It says here that it once belonged to a very powerful witch who was burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials."

"Funny, I never pegged C as the type to dig antiques. I thought she was strictly designer."

"My guess would be that the power within the pendant called out to her and that's what attracted her, rather than the design of the pendant."

This was kinda nice, me and Wes working together like we were meant to. I couldn't help but smile a little at that. Guess I was gettin' a soft spot for old Wes; I do feel wicked bad for what I did to the guy. Granted, he did some fucked up shit to me too, but not enough to deserve what I gave to him. I gave a whole new meaning to "what goes around comes around" with what I did to him.

"Wes," I whisper out, my eyes fixed on my shoes. I didn't want to see his reaction when I said it. "I'm sorry."

He coughs some in surprise and then there's silence. I wait for him to run out on us now that we got this demon named. But he stays, and after what seems like forever, he finally says something back. "I'm sorry too."

I look up, wicked confused. What's he sorry about? "Why?"

"Part of what you said has rung in my ears for years now. If I had been a better watcher, perhaps you would have been a better slayer. I've made mistakes too, Faith." He turns to me and tugs at the collar of T-shirt, yanking it down far enough for me to see a nasty looking scar across his neck.

"Whoa," I breathe out in surprise. "How'd you get that one?"

"Justine," he replies bitterly. "You see Faith, you aren't the only one to betray your friends. I kidnapped Angel's son because I believed Angel was prophesized to kill him. It was my fault Connor was taken to that Hell dimension with Holtz. When Angel found out, he first tried to murder me while I was recovering in the hospital, and then he simply shunned me from the group. It was not until recently that I was accepted back."

"That's not fair, Wes," I say angrily. "You were just trying to help! It's nowhere near anything I did." Man, Angel's a bigger bastard than I thought. He's the dude singin' the redemption song and look what he did to Wes!

"They do say the path to Hell is paved by good intentions. The point is that if Angel forgave me for taking away the best thing in his life, I can surely forgive you for torturing me."

"Cool," I grin appreciatively. So maybe the new Wes ain't so bad after all. "And I guess I can let it slide that you were more uptight than a Sunday school teacher when it came to being my watcher." I pause for a moment, making a quick decision to make a little confession here. "For the record, I was ready to hate any new watcher that walked through that door. I got a bad history with authority and Giles was the only guy who hadn't died or screwed me over."

"I had kind of guessed that after I took a good long look back at those days," he smiles at me, a real one that's not just forced 'cause a mutual friend of ours is possibly dying. "I hadn't taken a good look into your history. I really had absolutely no idea what I was getting into, only that the methods I had been taught would be enough no matter what kind of personality and background my slayer had."

So Wes hadn't done his homework on me. It's surprising in that not very surprising way. I'm guessing the council doesn't care much about the personal lives of their slayers, just that they're chosen and should be ten kinds of happy to follow the orders of some pompous British asshole. Council's gotta get with the times, man. Nobody's gonna be down with that kinda thinking these days.

Our little talk is interrupted when the doc comes out and announces our presence is wanted. "Mr. Wyndam Pryce?"

Wes hops up and anxiously steps in line next to the doc. "That would be me."

"We've stabilized Miss Chase's condition enough to allow her visitors. She's in the ICU and I think we can allow for both you and her sister to visit her. She's semi-conscious at the moment and asking for you both."

So, we made up a few white lies about our relations to the cheerleader. Wes became her fiancé and I became her kid sister. Kinda kinky considering how we've almost had a major make out session, but whatever. I'm just glad they bought it. We follow the doctor into her room and find C half-awake and makin' big with the moaning. I gotta remind myself that these are pained moans, not pleasure ones. Man, you'd think they'd have her doped up on the morphine with the kind of pain she's in.

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...of times past... [12 Jun 2004|12:57am]

[ mood | sore ]

Faith coming to my room to comfort me after a fight and another bittersweet good-bye with Angel, again, that was a little weird. But even I have to admit that I wouldn't turn it down even if I wanted to. I mean there's proud and sometimes there's just too proud. I hate being alone. Have always hated it, but I'd rather be alone than have to do deal with the trappings of something that wouldn't go very far because of a pesky curse.

I tried to tell myself time and time again, that if all we had was each other then I'd be all right. And well, maybe that was the truth in a sense. Maybe I would have been all right if I hadn't gotten taken up to the Powers That Be. But I did, and that's a fact that I can't change. It doesn't matter how much I want to change it, I can't. It's as simple as that.

And maybe I won't. Well, not this time.

Everything is so different. And I feel like because I'm not aspiring to be with Angel that I've been sort of cut off from my friends, who are my family. I mean I talk with Wesley on the phone, but I don't really get to see them everyday like I used to. Things are somewhat different and I'm not sure if I like the change or not. I mean some days I welcome it, but others I just wish it could all go back to the way it was in the beginning.

Some days I wish that Doyle were around. I miss him a lot. Things were so different when he was here. I mean I didn't have these pesky visions that nearly killed me to deal with and all I had to be was a secretary with the typing skills of a gnat. I think if Doyle hadn't done the stupid thing and get him self killed then things would be a lot different. I wouldn't have these visions and Wesley wouldn't have come to work for us, a lot of things wouldn't have happened.

But then I think about that and I wonder if I didn't have these visions then who would help all those people who are in pain? Would I even be needed anymore if I didn't have them?

For so long the visions made me special and hey let's face it everybody wants to be special. It's human nature to want to feel like you matter, to want to feel like you are needed. And then it became so much more than me just wanting to feel special. It wasn't just my life, but it was my purpose. Angel's mission somehow became my purpose and now I'm not sure what that purpose is anymore for me.

I mean I know I have to help Faith. Whatever is vying for her blood is not going to get their hands on her if I can help it. Hey, I'm Vision Girl and nobody messes with me and mine. Some things change, but some things don't. And this is one of them that I refuse to budge on. If that big nasty wants a piece of the Slayer then he's going to have to come through me because nobody messes with the Chase.

Faith was in my room tonight. Faith almost kissed me tonight. And Angel walked in on it. There's a part of me that wonders if Angel hadn't of walked in on it, would we have actually kissed and how far would we have taken it? Would I have liked it? Would we have both felt awkward about it afterwards? Or would I have just pushed her off of me and acted like I was mildly disgusted with her display of behavior in an attempt to cover up the fact that I might have liked it?

And why am I even thinking about her?

What is it about that girl that has my blood pumping and my body warming?

I shook my head as if to clear away some of the thoughts. I knew I was going to be a prune if I didn't crawl out of this tub anytime soon, so I heaved a big sigh and drug myself up out of the water pulling the plug on the way out so it could drawn. Once outside the tub, I reached for my big fluffy towel and dried myself off before pulling on my pajamas, shutting off the light and crawling into bed.

I was extremely tired and knew it wouldn't be long before sleep came. I needed it pretty much. I didn't have much energy, not after the events of this evening and with all of the thoughts that were pretty much busy taking up space in my mind.

'Faith as the big bad wolf.'

I murmured softly as I turned in my sleep laughing softly. Just the thought of that alone was comical in a weird sort of way. Yawning big I curled up between the sheets and rested my head on the pillow. I could feel the covers being pulled further up over me, it was Phantom Dennis and I knew it was his way of taking care of me. It wasn't long before I was asleep.

A raven-haired woman appeared on a hilltop; she was running from something it looked like. She was scared, I could feel her pain, and she wore a pendant around her neck. She kept reaching up as if to touch it. Whatever it was she was running from seemed to be after what she wore around her neck. I could hear bits of chanting and saw her lips were moving. She was obviously casting a spell of some kind, or was trying to.

I tried calling out to her. I wanted to warn her, but it looked like she couldn't hear me. I could feel myself moving, I thought that maybe if I could just get to her I know I could help her. Maybe she was trying to warn me about something. About anything, I don't know. All I know was she was in terrible pain and I could not only feel it, but I could sense it. It went deeper than anything I've ever experienced before.

I felt dizzy and sick with it. And then I watched as she caught her foot on something and tumbled. She tucked herself into a ball and rolled as her hand came up to rest on the pendant around her neck as if to protect it, to brace her self from the fall alone. It wasn't enough. He was getting closer to her. I couldn't really make out what exactly it was that was after her, but it looked like it was a man.

He wore a thick dark coat and one of those old-time hats; you know the kind that they wore back in Salem, during the Witch Trials. Only he wasn't just a man, he looked like he might be some kind of Warlock or something that had the ability to transform himself into anything he wanted to, including taking on the shape of any animal he wanted. I'd never seen anything like this before.

I tried calling out to the woman once more. Stupid girl, I don't know why she got herself into this situation and it seemed like I couldn't do anything to help get her out of it. All I could do was watch. It felt like I was having a vision. It was very painful and I felt it when he ripped into her. The claws of his paw tore painfully across her flesh drawing a painful burning sensation with it. Thick dark pools of blood rose to the surface and I not only felt it with her but also screamed out in pain myself.

I clutched at my lower abdomen with my hands as I doubled over in pain lowering myself to my knees and cried out in another painful gasp as heavy blood flow seeped through my fingers and dropped onto the ground staining the dress I was wearing. Whatever was happening to the young woman was also happening to me and I didn't understand it. All I knew was we were both badly injured and if we didn't get help soon we were both going to either bleed to death or end up crazed or confused somewhere unconscious.

I felt everything he did to her. Whatever happened to this young woman was obviously happening to me and I didn't understand. All I knew was I needed to find someway out of this. I needed to find someway back so that I could tell somebody what I had seen, but it felt like I was trapped. It felt like I had no choice but to watch and to be subjected to the same torture they were inflicting on this woman. And I couldn't understand why.

When I looked at this young woman she looked very familiar to me. It wasn't just in her face or her hair either, but it was in the way that she carried herself. It was in the determined look she had in her eyes, it was her eyes that connected us the most. And then once my cries of pain seemed to subside I heard it. I heard a voice soft in my ears or at least that's what it felt like to me. I don't know, I thought maybe I was crazy from the blood loss or maybe I was just hearing things. But her voice spoke to me and it sounded all too familiar.

'You don't belong here. Go back. Listen to me. Take heed to what I am saying. This is very important. They will kill you if they find you. You do not belong here. Go home. Go back to where you came from, you are much safer there. And forget about the amulet. Forget you met that man. That wasn't for you. You should have never entered that store. I fear all your loved ones are in danger now. Go. Leave as quickly as you came.'

That voice sounded like my own. I was stunned, if not from the ripping pain I felt across my abdomen but from the voice alone. When I looked upon the young woman, it was just like I was looking into a mirror. I could see my own reflection. That's weird. Not like nothing we ever do is weird, but this is weird in the sense of being completely weird.

'Who are you?' I called out to the young woman hoping she would be able to hear me.

'She can't hear you.'

I felt a whisper in my ear, the tickle of warm air brushing against it. Making my way to my feet, I turned to see the same dark haired woman I had seen earlier.

'Okay what in the hell is going on here?' I asked.

I turned back around to see the same woman still lying on the ground bleeding and I looked down at my own dress and saw that I was still bleeding too.

'Well this dress is ruined. And I didn't even get to wear it that long. That's just great.'

I know it's a little shallow to be worried about a dress being torn to shreds when I had other things like the gaping slash marks across my stomach to worry about and the woman I saw in front of me and standing beside me to worry about, but I the truth was I liked this dress. I didn't care if I didn't have it that long. I still liked it.

I felt the sting of the pull of her hair while I watched the man begin to drag her off. I turned to the ghost lady or whatever she was that was standing beside me and took a chance in asking her.

'Where is he taking her?'

Although I probably knew she was just going to tell me the same thing she said earlier. She was going to tell me to go home and the truth was I would really like to go home. I had no idea where I was or why I was seeing this. Was this some sort of joke from the Powers That Be or was it going to be another vision that they sent to me? I don't understand this.

Sighing in frustration I stomped my foot and looked up at the sky.

'What the hell are you boys up to this time? What is it you want me to see? Haven't you taken enough from me already? Haven't caused enough pain? Feel the need to cause more. I don't understand.'

A searing white-hot pain shot up my spine as I felt my head begin to spin. I could feel it. I could feel my skin burning. I could even smell it too.

'Aw, God.'

I was scared. I could feel everything. I could feel the fired. I could feel the heat of the burning wood beneath my bare feet. When I looked down I noticed I still had my shoes on, but when I looked back up, I could see that we were in a different location. We weren't still on that same country road anymore. We were standing in front of a burning pyre.

And I was watching the dark haired girl being burnt to death. I could smell it. It was all over me, her senses, everything that was happening to her. I could feel my skin blistering along with hers. And when I could find my voice, when I could find the strength to talk without screaming in ultimate pain I asked the figment that was standing next to me, because that's what it had to be some sort of figment or ghost, what was going on.

'I thought they only burnt witches at the pyre?'

I watched as the fire grew higher and the flames started licking at her feet. Her skin was burning; there were blisters that were rising against her skin. She was screaming so loud I didn't think I could hear myself think. None of this was making sense to me. I didn't understand. And then I wondered if the Powers That Be had anything to do with this at all and if it was just Wolfram and Hart coming into my mind again, like they had already one once. I felt violated and trapped and as helpless as that woman tied to the burning pyre.

'Hey wait a minute, what the hell is going on damnit? I want to know what's happening. Why is it happening? Because I don't understand and none of this is making any sense. Who hell are you, lady?'

I was starting to get frustrated and I just wanted to leave but it was like I was stuck in some sort of time warp, trapped in a moment of history that had once happened but they were trying to re-create all over again for someone's warped sense of humour.

'Who the hell would be sick enough to do anything like this?'

I needed answers to all of my questions but it didn't seem like the figment seemed interested in giving me any of the information. I started to cry, really cry out in pain.

'Am I being punished again?'

I could feel the tears dripping off my chin as blisters started rising against my own skin. God this can't be happening again. I had gone through this once already, I couldn't understand why I was being tortured like this again. Did the Powers That be get off on seeing me in pain? Was this their handiwork? Or was this the work of Wolfram and Hart again? I mean lets face it they didn't hesitate to do it the last time, what would be able to stop them this time? It only made sense, what do you do to a person when you're trying to destroy them?

You generally go through the people they love and then move on from there. I remember it all too well. Lilah hiring that man to tap into a link in sync with the Powers That Be, messing with the phone lines jamming them in some sort of way and finding a way to send me week old visions of people who were already dead, all because it was part of her ploy to dupe Angel into going down to hell and bringing Billy back. God what a mess that had been.

'You're not being punished. She's being punished. Look closer and you'll find the two of you have more in common that you think. You have something that belongs to her. It belongs to you too. But if you were ever to wear it, if you are ever to put it on it would only serve to cause you much pain. Let this be a lesson to you. Do not be a fool and mess with things that you know nothing of. Go back to where you came from and leave this alone. The past is done. There is nothing you can do to change it. It is what it is. But aren't we all?'

I reached up to rest my hand against my chest. It was getting harder to breath; I could feel the flames consuming her. They were consuming me too. I knew it wouldn't be long before she stopped breathing and I was scared. I have never been more scared in my life. What did this mean? If she stopped breathing did that mean that I would stop breathing too? I had to find a way to get out of here. I had to find a way to get back home. I didn't even know how I got here.

This was all so…weird.

'What do you mean? I don't understand.'

I know I was repeating myself but I kept asking and asking and I never got an answer to the question. And then it occurred to me; maybe I knew what it was she was talking about. If I were to ever wear it.

'The pendant, you mean the pendant don't you?'

That's the only thing I had that I could think of, besides the dagger that I had bought and given to Faith as a gift. But I doubt if she meant that. And she said to look close and I would notice we both had something in common and okay aside from looking alike I'm guessing the only other thing it could be is the pendant.

But the question was, what did the pendant have to do with the young woman and why she was being burned alive?

I felt her when she passed. I heard her screams of agony and felt it as the flames overtook her body and burnt her to ashes. I could smell the burning flesh and was instantly sick. It felt like I couldn't breathe like my supply of oxygen had been somehow cut off and I was fighting my way back to consciousness. I could feel myself thrashing against the weight of the overwhelming darkness that was threatening to consume me as I fought against it.

Throwing the covers off of me I came to choking on air and trying to breath in as much as I could as if I'd never get to breath again another minute in my life. I felt weak and tired. I could hardly move and my chest was heaving. My head was spinning and I felt as if I were going to be sick.

'What the hell is happening to me?'

Oh god. This can't be happening again. Not again.

I looked down and saw the bed and my pajamas were soaked in blood. And I screamed.

I didn't know what else to do. I reached down and lifted what was left of my shredded pajama top up to reveal five deep gashes into my lower abdomen.

'Oh shit.'

I tried to compose myself as I reached up and with my other hand to brush my hair back again from my face and that's when I felt it. My skin felt like it was tough and old. It wasn't like this before, I could feel the skin peeling from my face and it felt like I had soars all over my cheek. Tears were dripping off my chin and I was shaking as I managed to make it to my feet and stumbled my way across the floor to the other side of my room, flipping the light on I dared to look into the full length mirror I had mounted against my wall and I screamed much louder this time at what I had seen.

There were hideous boils on my face as I reached up once more to pull the hair back down to hide them. They were gross, hideous and unclean and I was so ashamed. All I could do was stand there and cry. I couldn't understand why any of this was happening. Why did it always have to be me this stuff happened to? Why couldn't it be someone else?

I was supposed to be this famous actress by now who was off attending an after party somewhere, getting drunk on champagne and going home with the hottest guy in town. I wasn't supposed to be reduced to this. I wasn't supposed to have these visions, hook up with the only guy who ever came to L.A. to just get older and have all of these weird cravings, this strange attraction to a used to be psycho path down the hall sleeping in another room.

'Oh God.' I choked.


How was I going to explain this to her? What was I going to say? Gee, I'm sorry but after our little talk last night I went to bed and woke up with boils on the side of my face and open gashes on slashed across my stomach? I don't think she'd buy it. I don't know would she even care? I mean I know that caring isn't really her style much. But then, she could fool me.

I felt dizzy like I was going to faint from the blood loss. I was going to have to tell somebody. And Faith looked like the closest person. It would be stupid and pointless to call Angel over here in the middle of the night. I mean after the argument that we had. I knew I couldn't involve him. I could call Wesley though, or Fred and maybe even Gunn. But by the time any one of them would get here it would probably be too late and I'd have bled to death.

No, I was just going to have to wake Faith up and pray that she didn't attack me while I was doing it. I gripped the door handle and turned the knob as I pulled it back slowly, resting for a moment before I caused myself to faint, I drew in a slow breath and inched my way out into the darkened hall. I used the wall to brace myself so I wouldn't fall as I tip toed my way down to her room, once there I raised my hand to knock. I didn't know how light or heavy of a sleep Faith was but I figured Slayer sense and all she would probably hear me.

'Faith,' I managed in a breathless half strangled whisper. 'Come on Faith open up. I need you.'

I managed to bang twice more on the door before I lost my grip and slid down to the floor, I could feel darkness seeping in but I fought it as hard as I could. I screamed in pain as my body felt like it was being ripped in half yet again, this time I could feel the wounds on my back and I knew I was bleeding even more.

'Damnit.' I cursed.

'Faith.' I screamed.

That's all I could do was scream and lay there in burning agony. What in the hell was going on? I felt a cool rush of air rush over me as the door finally opened behind me and I managed to look up at a half asleep Faith standing there looking out into the hall. It hadn't occurred to her to look down just yet. I could hear her mumbling all sorts of obscenities at Phantom Dennis.

'Listen Casper, I'm not one for your games. You got me?'

She started to shut the door as I looked up and managed once more, 'Faith.'

I wasn't sure if it was loud enough to catch her attention. Apparently it was because she looked down the last thing I heard her say was, 'What the fuck happened to you, C?'

All I could do was lay there, shiver and cry. I was shaking. I couldn't stop shaking. I couldn't answer her either, it felt like my voice was cut off from my throat and I was being choked. Once I was able to draw in a breath, I mumbled almost incoherently.

'Call Wesley, Faith. Call Wesley please.'

I knew he wouldn't care how late it was as long as she explained to him that it was me that needed him and what the situation was. He would be here in an instant. He was like that. I knew that I could trust him. I could probably trust Faith too if I gave her a chance. And maybe I should, because she hadn't given me any other reason not to. All past things aside that is. She deserved to be trusted after what we'd been through the last few days.

I felt her as she knelt down beside me, I reached my hand up and touched the side of her face softly as my teary eyes peered up into her confused one's. I didn't know what to say to her. I didn't even know if I could speak without choking. All I knew was if I was dying, which it felt like I was, then I wanted her to know that I appreciated her being there and what she'd done for me these last few days. I didn't want her to think that nobody cared about her. It was important to me to know that she knew I cared. Because I did. Maybe I wouldn't admit it out loud to her before, but I think I could now. Or at least show her.

'I'm sorry, Faith.' I said simply.

I watched as her eyes searched my worried and confused. She was half-afraid and she didn't know what to do. I could see the anger in her eyes too. She battled with her own emotions. I wondered what was going through her head. She didn't give anything of those thoughts away. She looked down at me as if she pitied me. The way she looked at me, it looked as if it pained her to see me this way.

Was this my Faith? Was this the old Faith that I knew who once said fuck the world and everyone else in it too? Was this the Faith that would swear on any given Sunday that she didn't give a rat's ass about anyone except herself?

'Jesus, C. What the hell happened to you? And what are you sorry for?' She asked.

She was freaking out. I knew she was. And it was okay because any normal person would be freaking out if they were seeing what she was. I knew she wasn't used to this. Hell I don't even think I could be used to this even though something similar had happened to be once before. Stuff like this, the hard stuff, the bad stuff you never get used to it. It just keeps happening and you just have to find ways to deal and survive. Sometimes you won and sometimes you lost. I just hoped that this wasn't one of those times when we lost.

Her face still filled with confusion. If she was half asleep before she was fully awake now. I could feel her hand resting against my forehead. It was cool to the touch but my skin burned anyway. I didn't understand any of this and by the look that crossed her features she sure as hell didn't have any answers either. She was just as confused as I was if not more.

'Faith.' I whispered and she paused for a moment.

I knew I had her attention.

'My visions are manifesting. I don't have the strength to explain right now. I need help, that's why you have to call Wesley. Please, I don't know how much longer I can hold on. I'm so tired and it's getting harder.'

Was that a look of fear that crossed her features? If it was she masked it well as I watched her lean down and press a soft kiss to my burning forehead. Since when she did she become so tender?

'Faith, people do care. You know?' I said in a ragged breath.

'Cor, now's not the time for heartfelt talks. We have to get to you to a hospital and I have to call Wesley. I'm sure that'll thrill him, the sound of my voice waking him up in the middle of the night to tell him that one of his best friends is about half dead and will be dead if we don't get her to the hospital soon. He'll probably think I tried to kill you.'

I really wasn't in the mood for this conversation so I did the only thing I could.

'Hush.' I said in a soft tone.

I lifted my hand once more to brush the hair back out of her face again. She had such a pretty face; I didn't know why I hadn't really noticed this before. Or maybe I had many times the last few days I just refused to acknowledge it.

'What Cor, what is it?'

I could hear her voice. It was low and expectant. It sounded as if she was almost afraid of what I might say next. And I could tell she felt as if it were out of character for her. Believe me I knew the feeling all too well. But as much as a part of me wanted to come to a screeching halt and say what the hell are you doing, quit wasting your energy, another part wanted to keep going. Another part of me wanted to know what was on the other side.

'I care. I just wanted you to know that.'

I closed my eyes for a long moment and I could hear Faith's voice above me. My chest was rising and falling, so that gave her indication that I hadn't just kicked off yet. But she was talking to me. It was almost like she was calling me back to the land of the conscious and able. And it felt hard to open my eyelids because they had grown so heavy-lidded. My thick dark lashes fluttered a few times before I coughed and drew in another deep breath that hurt like hell and felt like my insides were burning and liquefying.

'Come on, Queen C. Don't do this to me. You don't get to do this to me. You don't get to die and just leave me all alone here, ya know. We're supposed to be in this together. Get your ass up and let's get you to a hospital. Fuck calling Wesley, he couldn't get here in time now.'

In sheer desperation I could hear her almost giving up as she struggled to get me to my feet and stopped for a moment. Was that a teardrop I felt on my forehead? Was she crying? Faith never cried or well I don't know if she ever did or not. I just always assumed that she didn't know how to cry. But obviously she was human and everybody has feelings so why not her? This felt strange and unusual but I knew I was in capable hands. I mean she was a Slayer for crying out loud. If anyone could help me, it was her.

I feel her forehead resting against mine now. My skin was burning; I could feel myself burning up. It felt like I was burning from the inside out. I had no idea what was going to happen next or if I was going to ever see the light of day again, the only thing I knew was that I had this strange urge to be close to someone who cared about me. And obviously Faith cared a lot more than she cared to let on. I could feel it in the way she touched me, in the way she reacted to me and yes sometimes in the way she looked at me.

She had been about to kiss me before Angel walked in and caught us and in a way I was more than a little upset about it, not because she was going to kiss me but because Angel had walked in and ruined it for me. I know he didn't mean to, that he was expected to show up but like I told him before he could have used common sense and knocked. I realized I had wanted her to kiss me. I would have welcomed it.

I opened my eyes slowly as I looked up into her face; she was still bent over me, her forehead pressed against mine. I assumed she was checking to see if I was breathing or not. I brushed my nose against hers and I could feel myself slowly fading. If I was going to do anything it was going to have to be within the next few seconds because I didn't have time to think it through. I lent up a little more with what little strength I still had left inside and brushed my lips softly against hers. It wasn't a real kiss, I know but it was enough to let her know I appreciated her being there.

I didn't know what type of response that would draw from her and I doubt I would find out right now anyway, because I collapsed back to the floor as I felt her draw away from me. It was probably partially in shock as to what had just happened and Slayer instincts kicking in for her to do whatever she deemed necessary to get me the help she knew I needed.

The next thing I heard before I passed out was her voice worried and tinged with fear as she dialed the phone.

'Wesley. I don't have time to waste with stupid vendettas. I said I was sorry, I meant it. Maybe I didn't apologize to you, but I did to Casper. But it's Cordy. I think she's been attacked by whatever it is that's after me. She looks bad, like she might die if we don't get her to a hospital. I need your help.'

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The big bad wolf [10 Jun 2004|09:44am]

[ mood | chipper ]

I bailed. Yea, I know, pretty wimpy of me, but I really did not want to witness the showdown between this new version of the tragic twosome. Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. So there I went, sulking off to my room like the kid who just got busted for gettin' bad grades and now mom and dad were gonna have a rumble about it. Not that I know anything about that gig since mom could care less about my grades and dad bailed back when I was in diapers, but I've seen my share of cheesy TV. I know the drill.

I plopped myself down on my bed for the duration of Buffy and Angel the sequel, the after effects of the demon still a slight annoyance to my usual chipper self. Did my best to keep a tight ear on the outside world but the magazines C kept in stock were far from my comic book tastes and the tube had nothing worth watching, so I was stuck with either plugging my ears and humming to myself or just kickin' it back and trying not to gag at that shit they spewed back and forth.

Man, I gotta slam on Angel for one thing. I get the boy's hurting and I'm sorry he had to walk in on that almost kiss... but dude, you don't go comparing Queen C to Buffy. I wasn't even part of the gang and I know not to go there. Sure, they were both popular rulers of the school, I heard about B's princess act pre-slayer; but that's about as much in common as they got. See, C's got a backbone. B's tough, but she's a softie at heart. It's not in her to whip out the bitch and be as nasty as the time calls for it. You really gotta push the Buff to get any reaction outa her. Girl sees the world in black and white too.

One thing I learned about these past few days with Cor is that she gets the grey thing, probably more than any Sunnydale geek could. See, the Fang Gang is a little more accepting of those of us on questionable ground. They're into saving souls. With B's Scooby pals, you're either good or you're bad and if you're not sure which side you're on, you might as well be blowin' up the whole fucking city. There ain't room for wild cards in B's put together deck. I was a bad seed to them from the start.

Gotta say, I really dug it when C laid it into him lack that for that remark. I knew it was coming too, I could just see it in my head the way she had to be frothing from the mouth with anger while Soul Boy pulled out that `you're just like Buffy` stuff. So maybe they were doomed from the start, just like him and B, but that don't mean they did the whole star-crossed lovers routine. For one, C's not a slayer. There's no `no-no` in the rule books about her dating a vampire. Another thing? Let's be honest here, nobody's gonna get a happy in a relationship with Angel. So until the boy gets a lock down on that soul of his? He might as well give up on the love thing. It just isn't happening, man.

Anyone else think that maybe all that hair gel he wears dulls his braincells like, a lot? I mean, you'd think he'd learn from his mistakes (and isn't that what he's all about? Learning from the past and becoming the better person, or in his case vampire, for it?)... but nope. Boy's still pulling the same old routine he was last time I caught him on the upside of a bad day. I really don't know what my thoughts are at this point other than the obvious stupid of this all. I feel like I'm trapped in the middle of a damn soap opera and there's no `off` button for the easy out.

Soul Boy finally bails, most likely with his tail tucked between his legs, just like when he left Sunnydale, and I sigh with relief that it's all over. "Finally," I mutter to myself, flipping myself on the bed so I'm flat out on my stomach instead. I hit the TV on again, looking for something decent to bore to sleep. Guess her cable's been pulled in her downtime 'cause all I'm gettin' is fuzzy NBC and public broadcasting. It's got some nature show on; maybe I'll get lucky and they'll go into mating habits. I'd be all over watching some jungle creatures get it on. I always kinda related to those big jungle cats...

That's when I hear something outside my door. At first, I don't think nothing of it. I'm staying in a place that's haunted for christ's sake. My slayer sense has been thrown out of whack with a ghost around, but I'm slowly getting to a point where I can tell the difference between a real threat and Casper just doin' his friendly ghost routine. I brush it off as a scare tactic until I hear a whimper. Is that C? I sit up, my finger hitting the mute button as I listen a little harder.

"Goodnight Faith. I'm glad you enjoyed your gift."

Then the footsteps retreat and I hear a door close. Shit. What the Hell am I supposed to do now? I thought the princess had a handle on this, but the way her voice cracked kinda tells me differently. All I really want is to strip down and get a good 8 in after a long day. Instead, I've got all these confusing feelings that tell me I should go check up on her, you know, just to make sure she isn't gonna party with a razor or something. I seriously doubt she's the suicidal type, I'm just saying. People do stupid things when they're grieving. You think I couldn't have taken B down if I really wanted to? I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of being yet another short-lived slayer, but sometimes you just need out and that was the only door I could see.

So, with that in mind, I pulled my ass out of bed and did something I never thought I'd do -- actually care about another person's feelings. I was always in the boat of saying the world screwed me over, so why should I give a damn? I still say the world screwed me over, I'm just a little less bitter now. As my shrink would say, I've overcome that roadblock and am on the fast track to mental health. I feel like I should be throwing a fucking party or something.

The door's closed when I meet it -- no surprise there. I stand there for a while, just gettin' my bearings before diving in headfirst. I knock... lightly at first. Then I suck it up and make a firm tap and wait.

"Who is it?" she asks, as if there isn't a total of 2 people who could be here, one of them being non-corporeal, so the odds of him knocking are about as impressive as the odds that Angel will get a suntan this year.

"The big bad wolf," I snark. "Now open up or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow this joint down."

The door flies open and I'm greeted with a flustered Cordelia. Aww, she didn't find my barb funny? I must be losing my touch. She glares and I smile, big and bright and full of good-natured teasing.

"You really do get amusement out of everything, don't you?"

I nod my head in reply, my best wise-ass smile in place. Hey, I got nothing to hide. "You're just sore because I'm the hot wolf while you're stuck being a wimpy piglet."

"Oh yes," she deadpans while rolling her eyes. "I'm *so* jealous of your wolf-like qualities. Please tell me how I can be as cool as you; I don't know how I will ever survive in my pig-like state. Now is there something in particular you wanted? I've had a rough day and I'd just like to take a nice soak in my nice hot bath and forget the latter part of this day ever happened."

Wonder if `latter part of her day` means Angel, me and that almost kiss, or both. I'd ask but... I'm a little too chicken shit to dive into the possibilities of a romance with Cordelia Chase. Girl's hot and all, but I'm not the settling down type. Maybe someday... but not today. Not today for her either... she's fresh out of a break-up and I'm not gonna serve myself up as rebound material. That's not my game.

"Actually, yea. I thought maybe you'd want to talk."

Her eyes bug out of her head at that one. Guess the thought of me actually initiating a deep thoughts kind of conversation is a little overwhelming. Hell, I don't quite believe it myself. Yet here I am, offering myself up as friend you can talk to when things get a little rough around the edges.


"What happened with Brood Boy," I reply casually. "I, uh, kinda overhead the big rumble the two of you had." When she gets a little red in the face, I quickly point to my ears. "Slayer hearing. It's better than the average bear's. Anyway, it sounded pretty harsh, those things he said. I just wanted to make sure you were handling it okay."

She shrugs, a frown creasing her face into a pitiful look. Oh yea, she really took a bad blow out there. There's defeat in her voice when she speaks again. "You better sit down for this then."

Like a good slayer, I take up her advice and sit down on her bed. It's still made up all nice. I bet she's been pacing trails into the carpet between the time she said her whispered goodnight and the time it took me to work up the guts to knock on her door. I can be a good judge of people like that. I give her my best `get to it` look and make myself comfy. Not a hard task to do considering her bed's fucking boss. I wouldn't expect anything else from a chick who actually believes in all that beauty sleep crap.

"You really heard everything?" she suddenly asks, I guess just to make sure I ain't playing her and this is all some act just to pump information out of her.

"Down to the T, Queen C," I chirp in with a smirk. You know, for the all around bad day this has been, I'm in damn good spirits. "Don't mind the rhyme, I'm suddenly feeling goofy. It happens."

"Yea," she mutters, a wistfulness there that tells me she wishes she shared my urge to goof off. Then she straightens up, a look of determination on her face. Here we go, boys. "I don't know what there is to say. I mean, you already got the running commentary from the source. We weren't ever even... we never had a relationship. I loved him, for a long time." She smiles, a little bittersweet laugh escaping from her lips in between confessions. "I still do... love him that is. Despite his behavior. Angel's my family."

"No offence, but I really don't get why all you girls go ga-ga over him," I throw out. Might as well get this off my chest, my shrink says it's good for me to voice this shit. "Sure he's got the Calvin Klein poster boy good looks going on, but we all know about his curse. Only person who'd be satisfied in a relationship with Fang would be a nun."

I can tell she wants to argue with me. She probably wants to lecture me on how it's not all about sex and how he's such a great guy, and I should really cut the dude some slack, but the fight's gone from her. Instead, she opts not to waste anymore breath on a lost cause and goes with something a little more Faith-friendly. "You're not being helpful, Faith. Bashing my taste in men is not going to make me feel any better."

"That isn't what you girls do?" I ask, honestly put out by this. "I thought it was like, tradition for all the girls to get together after a break up and say stuff like `you're better off without him` and `he was jerk for treating you the way he did`. Doesn't matter if it's true, it's just a way to cope."

"And you're so the expert on coping little Miss I Kill People To Deal With My Problems."

Good comeback.

"You're right, I probably don't know what I'm doing, but at least I'm trying here. I feel like this whole thing is partly my fault. I shouldn't have tried to kiss you like that. It was wrong of me and I'm sorry."

There it is -- the bomb -- dropped and out in the open. It's fair play now; if there's a time for her to slug me one for makin' a move on her, it's now. I wait for it, counting in my head the seconds that pass in that awkward moment. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...

"It wasn't all you," she says softly, barely loud enough for me to catch onto her words. She clears her throat and gives it another go. "You don't have to be sorry. None of this is your fault. Angel should have knocked."

And we're back on the knocking issue. Maybe it wasn't all just a trick of the lights that she leaned in too... could she really have wanted a piece of me? That moment was wicked intense; something major could've happened if Soul Boy's bad timing hadn't put a stop to it. Good to know it wasn't all me. It's what she isn't saying that's speaking volumes to me. Silence says she's wiggin' over the fact that she might've enjoyed a tumble with me between the sheets.

"Time to change the locks?" I ask once the silence gets a little much. I was never any good at quiet contemplation. You know me, I'm an action chick.

"Maybe," she quirks a smile. When she looks at me, there's something grateful staring back at me in her eyes. "You were right about one thing. Girls normally get together to bash ex-boyfriends. God, it's been so long since I've done that. I almost forgot what it was like. I don't know if I have it in me to bash Angel, though. I feel like I've hurt him enough."

"Soul Boy will get over it, he always does."

I'm at a loss of what to do now. Since we're not gonna throw an I hate Angelfest, I might as well book it back to my bedroom and let Cor get her bath and beauty sleep. I get up from the bed, catching the questioning look she gives me once I'm up on my feet again.

"I should probably get going now, huh? You got that bath waiting for you and I've got..." lions fucking on PBS waiting for me, "some TV catching up to do. I wanna see what kind of lame jokes Leno's putting out these days. I missed the big chinned guy while in the joint. Does he still have that skunk thing going on for him?"

Cordy laughs at my eagerness to check out the late night TV front. "You're asking the wrong girl. Higher being, remember? We don't get Jay Leno in heaven."

"Riiiight," I drawl out, the sarcasm dripping from my voice. "Well then, I guess I'm in for a big surprise. I can hardly wait!" I resist the urge to clap my hands like some over-zealous kid. That'd be overdoing the mock excitement just a bit. Cor might actually think I get my kicks out of Leno's hair-don't. Man, I'm even starting to sound like her now.

"Be sure to fill me in tomorrow," she adds, joining in on my tirade with one of her own. "This little piggy is simply dying to know."

"Will do, Queenie," I mock salute her in return. I can't believe we're still on this nursery rhyme kick.

I turn to make my exit, feeling wicked good about myself that I did something right for a change. More than anything though, I'm glad me and C are on good terms. I think I might just like living here after all.

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...not another blond sequel... [08 Jun 2004|10:03pm]

[ mood | determined ]

My eyes darted between Faith and Angel then back to Faith who was still holding the dagger I'd just given her as a gift in her hands. This cannot be a good thing. All of a sudden things went from calm and almost nervous but feeling right, to uneasily painful and tense as all hell. First the 'almost visions', then the really weird and funky vibes from the manicurist lady, the disappearing little store and the demon attack on the way out to the car. Well this was shipping up to be a fantastic day. I rolled my eyes and muttered.

'Not likely.'

I figured it'd be best if I put myself between Faith and Angel, judging from the caught with her hand in the cookie jar look that was emanating from a mixed up but slightly frustrated Faith and a more broody than usual half-angry bitter Angel still standing in my doorway letting the flies and who knows what other various bugs into my apartment. Even Phantom Dennis saw fit to make his presence be gone, poof! Just like that.

And I still had no idea what to do. I mean I knew he was coming over, but he was early. He was like a half an hour earlier than he normally was. Glancing out the window, I noticed that the sun had just barely gone down. Maybe he had hit the underground sewer tunnels. I just didn't understand this. This whole day has been one active blur to me and just seemed totally out of the un-natural for even our line of duty.

I knew from the looks on all three of our faces that one of us was going to have to say something soon and whoever that person dared to be, better have a good enough explanation as to the what they had just walked in on. And I admit that maybe this wasn't exactly the thing that Angel needed to walk in on, but damnit the guy has got to learn how to knock for once in his life instead of just lurk around in really dark places and skulk when he doesn't get everything he thinks he wants.

I looked everywhere but his eyes because I knew if I looked there I would break down completely. He still had this power over me, this hold that I just couldn't explain. I loved him in every way. He was my best friend but he was more than that. He was my family. I mean when I looked at him I was completely reminded of a time when everything seemed like it was going to be all right and I had learned that I had two people in my life that I could totally trust my life with. Sometimes I wanted to go back to those days, when that part was new and still fresh in my life.

But I know now that a person can't live in the past and that's why I was doing what I was doing, because of that. Neither one of us could change the events of the past year, so there was no use in sitting around dwelling on the fact when there was a demon that was vying for Faith's blood. Let's face it we had the possible death of another Slayer on our hands if we didn't straighten ourselves up and focus on the obvious.

And I guess it was up to me to finally make him understand just exactly what I had been trying to tell him these last few days. I had no intentions of wanting to hurt him, if anything I would do everything in my power to see that he was happy, but not at Faith's expense. I wasn't going to be left standing with Slayer blood on my hands because a certain broody vampire with a soul was all mopey because he didn't get exactly what he wanted. And what the hell was it he wanted anyway?

I mean I don't know what he expects from me. I was there that night. I know exactly what happened. I mean you would think that he's acting like it all happened to him, when hello I was the one who got taken up to the Powers That Be. I'm the one who got stuck in some white-lighted orb of gleaming purification and forced to watch the whole time without being able to actually reach out and touch, all the horrible things that my friends had to face. I mean we are talking about people that I love and trust with my life more than anything.

My thoughts were distracted when I noticed Faith's figure retreating from the living room and heard the door to her room close quietly behind her. She was never one to stick around for tense situations if there wasn't a little demon slaying involved. Drama wasn't her style unless she was stirring up some of her own hardcore tension to get her frustrations out.

My voice was soft and as calm as I could make it to soften the blow of my next words.

'Well, maybe that's something you should consider now. I mean you know, with the…and the.'

I decided to risk it and sneak a glance up at his face as I saw the hurt and the confusion pass over his brow as he furrowed it. The crinkle in his forehead told me that he didn't like the idea of what I had proposed. But hey, I can't help it. Maybe this was for the best. I was just trying to make this as easy on all of us as I could. The less tension that stood between us the better chance we had of getting down to business and finding out what this big nasty thing wanted to do with the Slayer.

'Um, yeah maybe you're right. Maybe I should consider that. I'll think about it next time.'

His voice was guarded and low and I noticed that he was trying to control his temper, but the throbbing vein in his forehead told me otherwise. He didn't feel as if she should have to start knocking, when he hadn't had to before. And maybe he was right, maybe some things shouldn't have to change, but this maybe this was for the best. I kept telling myself that.

'Maybe you should.'

What else could I say? I mean I had said everything else there was left to say already once before, why wasn't he getting it? I mean did he think he was going to brood his way back into that private part of my life when I had already explained to him that he would still get to be a part of it, just maybe not in the way that he would have been if the later hadn't of happened. I can't help it because I can't push back time. And even now I don't know if I would because there is bound to be repercussions to it.

I mean come on it was a common known fact that for everything you do there is a consequence for it. And almost always there is a price and that price can be so high sometimes. It was the price that lost Doyle. It was the price that cost Angel his son and the cost of Wolfram and Hart trying to kill him for the last three years and nearly almost succeeding. It was even the cost of him turning his back on one of his best friends and losing another one that he didn't count on.

'Maybe I will.'

His voice was steel. He wouldn't look at me. He just brushed passed me and stood in the middle of my living room looking out the window, a set look of stone on his face. It was the first time in a long time that I could read his emotions. He was masking them well. Maybe he was even bracing himself from the brunt of his emotions, doing a really good job at cutting himself off again.

'Don't do this. You always do this, Angel. It's not fair.'

There wasn't anything else I could but the truth as I saw it. I thought it would get easier but it hadn't. And the truth probably was that it wouldn't be. That as long as I was around in close distance to him that maybe he would never move past. That was the reason he had come to L.A. in the first place, to distance himself. I mean not from me, but from Buffy, the only other person that he had loved that way.

'I'm standing here watching the woman I love about to kiss someone that once upon a time she would rather die than be this close to and you're talking to me about not being fair?'

I could feel the pain in his voice as he spoke the words out loud. It almost sounded crazy now that I had time to stand here and think about it. Had I been about to kiss Faith? Or had she been about to kiss me? I think it might have been the other way around and would I have welcomed the kiss? Was all it just in a moment?

You know one of those moments where you feel so lonely and it just seemed so right at the time but then when it's all over maybe it really wasn't the right thing to do and you find yourself regretting it. And you know maybe just maybe I would have liked it. Maybe I would have enjoyed it and wanted to kiss her back. But I don't know the truth is right now between the two of them I'm so confused. I don't even think I know what I want anymore.

I know that I needed time away from Angel so that I could figure out all of these layers and layers of deep issues and emotions that I have been dealing with since I came back from the Powers That Be. But this is all just a touch too ridiculous. This feeling of guilt, like I was cheating when there shouldn't even be cheating involved at all because we're not even together and also when we've never really even been together except those few moments and that was just because of a spell and a damn ballet and birthday kiss that happened because I felt sorry for him and couldn't stand to see him in so much pain and insane in his mind like that. I mean not after everything that he had done for me.

'I mean the guilt whammy that you just hit me over the head with, you ass.'

And why shouldn't be a little perturbed with the way he was trying to make me feel. He was acting as if he was the only person this was happening to. Newsflash, the last time I checked one and one make two and there's usually more than one party involved in this thing you know. But we've done this dance before and tonight I'm just not really in the mood for it, not with the day that I've experienced. And it's pretty much a touch evident in my voice too and I can sense that he knows it.

I point and kind of nod to the book that he still is holding in his hands, hoping that it would provide a way for me to kind of steer clear of the obvious.

'Is that the book that you were talking about on the phone earlier?'

Through clenched teeth I watched him nod his answer back to me as he spoke in a flat tone.

'Yeah. That would be the one.'

'Good then.'

I nodded back to him and motioned for him to take a seat next to me on the sofa. But noticed when he shook his head slightly.

'No, I'm good right here.'

Annoyed with his attitude I shrugged as I sat down quietly and waved one of my hands at him in total disgust of his display of immature behavior.

'Suit yourself, but you're going to get awfully tired just standing there half of the night. Besides if we are planning on doing the whole research mode thing, it would be much easier if I could actually see what we're looking up. And you know I don't bite. So I don't know why you just want to stand there and act like an immature child who's just been told no they can't have the toy they begged so hard for.'

And again with the clenched teeth and the guarded tones.

'Cordelia, I am not acting like a spoiled child.'

My eyebrows raised slightly and I sighed half in frustration and half in pure disgust. It seems I had forgotten just how annoying and frustrating Angel could be sometimes.

'Then what do you think you're acting like?'

I asked pointedly, almost afraid of the answer I would receive.

'I'm not acting anyway. It's not about-'

He stopped mid-sentence and lifted one hand to thread his fingers through his hair. I could tell he was trying hard to keep his emotions in check, but he was fighting a losing battle. And for the first time this evening I noticed just how unbearably hard this all was for him. And I weakened a little in my stance as my words became softer.

'Angel. I'm sor-'

And before I was able to finish my apology to him his voice was harsh, cruel and it cut me off cold.

'Cordelia do not say you're sorry to me one more time. Do you know? Do you have any idea how sick and tired I am of hearing that same old tired like, 'I'm sorry.' Come out of your mouth these days? Because really that seems to be the only thing that you know how to say these last few days. And you're starting to sound like a broken record I'd like to just break in half.'

I could tell he was just as shocked as I was at the last few words that had just come out of his mouth, that I could hardly stand to be in the same room with him, let alone look at him. Tears pulled at the corners of my eyes and an anger formed in the pit of my stomach. The knot that had been there since the moment he'd walked in on the almost kiss that Faith and I had been about to share had spiraled into something much bigger than it had been.

He had somehow managed to take a small little situation that he should have had the decency to easily avoid by knocking on the door instead of walking in and make something more out of it than it should have been to begin with and I was quite angry and frustrated with him to say the least. In all of ours years of working together, working out the kinks in our friendship and discovering that we might have somewhat of a relationship beyond that friendship he had never talked to me that way before and never in that tone.

'Then what the hell else do you expect me to say, Angel? Because I mean really. I don't know what you want to hear that would make this any better for you. It's not like it's only happening to you. And it doesn't help much when you're acting like a spoiled brat who's pissed off because someone didn't get what they wanted. I'm sorry, Angel but sometimes life isn't always fair. It's harsh and it's cruel. Isn't that what you said?'

So okay maybe throwing his own words back at him wasn't necessarily the right thing to do but I really wasn't concerned with what the right thing to do was right now. All that I know was I wanted out of this conversation before either of the two of us said something that neither one could take back. And the last thing I wanted to destroy was what little that was left of our friendship. But I was pissed off and right now I didn't seem to care. Or maybe I did but I was doing everything in my power to ignore it.

'You know, you're just like her.'

He smirked. His eyes were dark and I'd only ever seen him look this way on two other occasions and that's when she blew into town and turned his whole world upside down. That's when she laid the whammy of all guilt whammies on him and then waltzed out of town in the same manner that she had breezed in taking with her what little progress he had seemed to make and turning it to rubble and dust.

Well I'll be damned if I'll stand here in my own apartment and be accused of being another knock-off Buffy. He was going entirely too far and before things escalated and I said something that the both of us would regret I looked over his shoulder in time to notice the door opened and I nodded.

'If you think that little of me, then maybe you don't need to be here. Because I have had enough of babying you through this whole ordeal. I've had it up to here taking special care of your feelings because you've been through so much shit in your life and lost so much that I thought I would try and spare you any more pain than you necessarily deserved. But this time, you've gone entirely too far. You don't get to do that, Angel.'

I could tell that he was almost ashamed with what he had had to say as much as I was ashamed for letting him stand in the middle of my living room and rail off at me for nothing in particular. I wasn't going to be his punching bag when he decided he was going to shut down from the world because poor Angel he always loses everything that he loves and no one ever gives him a chance at perfect happiness. The last time I remembered what that perfect happiness had done to him, had turned him into now that I think about it maybe it was a good idea that I broke things off between the two of us before they progressed any further than they should have.

'You don't get to stand there and talk and treat me like I'm some knock-off blond little Slayer that you once shared perfect bliss with and then turned all mean and growly. I mean I have had it up to here and I am not going to stand here and listen to any more of your guilt whammies. It isn't my fault that you get the warm fuzzy shivers and you turn all fangy and make with the I'm going to torture you until you've gone mad and then kill everyone around you that you ever cared about. You forgot who you were talking to, didn't you?'

I paused for a moment in an effort to contain my anger and to catch my breath from my little tirade. I noticed how small and ashamed he seemed to look underneath my wrath. But this is exactly what he gets. It serves him right for storming in here and acting so righteous like he was the one hurting and I was the one staking him good and proper in the heart. If he knew me for one minute like he has always said he did then he would know that this wasn't some great plan that I set into motion in order to cause him more pain and discomfort.

I almost missed his low muttered.

'No, I haven't.'

And I knew that was his defeat voice. That it was his I walk alone and hide in dark corners because that's where I belong voice. It was a voice filled with much pain and great despair that he had felt the brunt of over the years. But I ignored it, partially because I really wanted to finish what I had to say and also because he needed to hear me out good and proper for once. And it seemed like he was in need of a simple reminder that no one could give him a good swift kick in the ass like Cordelia Chase could.

I just wanted him to remember and oh he would. You better believe that. When I'm through with him that wouldn't be much left for anyone left to chew on.

'Oh, I think you have. I think you need a reminder just who Cordelia Chase really is. It's time someone gave you a good swift kick in the ass. You might walk alone Angel, but just remember if you do then you do it because you chose to do it and not because everyone else made you feel like you have to. You should know that if you need help then all you have to do is ask one of us, you don't have to come over here and dole out guilt whammies and you don't have to act like a spoiled brat every chance you get because something didn't go your way.'

'I'm not acting like a spoiled brat, Cordelia.'

His voice was a little softer, less harsh than it had been earlier. More important it was less accusatory. It had hurt him to say the words he had said not more than ten minutes ago almost as much as it had hurt to hear him say them.

'You know,' I rolled my eyes and sighed exasperatingly, 'you keep saying that. But your actions and your words say otherwise.'

'Well,' he licked his lips shifted his eyes down to the floor glancing down at his feet as he shuffled on them before glancing back up at me, 'I'm sorry it's just seeing you, I mean…walking in on you and Faith…seeing that, it just. I don't know. It just hurt you know.'

I waved my hand and listened as the door closed softly after a moment. Phantom Dennis could be a touch overprotective sometimes, but he really meant well. My voice softened somewhat as did my eyes, I could feel them getting misty.

'Angel, I know you're tired of this. But, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen. It's not like I asked for it. But we can't change the past, that's all I've been trying to say. And no matter how much we wish it had turned out differently the truth is that it's not going to. Maybe we're better off this way, you know. Just as friends and stuff you know. It used to work for us before.'

'But things are different now, Cordelia.'

He sounded so pitiful trying to hold onto something that he knows he's lost. And it hurts me like hell to have to do this to him again, but there's just no way around it. I'm going to have to do it again and maybe for good this time. Or just until I can figure out whatever emotional crap I'm wading through this time.

'Yeah,' my voice is soft as I cross the room and placed my hand on the side of his face caressing it softly as I look up into his eyes, 'they are, Angel. They're different in the fact that you and I, we're not going to work now. We might have then, but now it's just not going to happen. And to be honest I don't know if it ever will. I'm sorry, really I hate to say that but I am.'

He never cried. When I think about it, I've never seen him cry. I've seen him brood. I've seen him sulk. I've even seen him angry to the point of breaking things, killing demons for the sheer feeling of their blood oozing through his fingers, but I've never seen him cry. He didn't even cry when we got the news from Willow that Buffy had died. I thought that of all things would break him, but it hadn't. And now when I think about it, later that night when he had come to my apartment he told me the reason it hadn't broken him was because I had been there.

I'm sorry I couldn't be there now. It hurt more than I could imagine but this was the only way that I knew how to deal with this painful situation. I knew that I shouldn't have involved him in what had gone on today. But then again, how could I not? This was Angel Investigations and this is what they did. This is what he did and it wouldn't be fair to take his territory away from him. I couldn't take his mission away from him. And plus even I had to admit we needed him and the research. I started to think maybe it would have been better if Wesley would have shown up instead. Next time I think I'll request him specifically either that or Fred and maybe even Gunn or Lorne. I miss those guys now that I think about it.

I felt his hand on top of mine, his fingertips moving over the top of my hand. I had to admit that it felt nice to be this close to him. I closed my eyes for a moment and pretended to be lost in the moment, but then reality set in and before I let him think there might still be a chance I pulled back away from him slightly and just stood there with a small look of I'm sorry but I have to do this on my face.

'I know. I'm starting to think maybe this was a bad idea. So I'm just going to leave the book here so you can do your research and when you're finished with it, you know where to find Wesley.'

I nodded slightly at him blinking my eyes rapidly in an effort to keep the tears from falling.


My voice was soft as I reached out and took the book from him setting it down on the coffee table. I wondered if I should risk a hug or not. And then chastised myself from even contemplating it. Closing the space between us I wrapped my arms around his waist and hugged him. I turned my brightest Cordelia Chase smile up at him and let my eyes sparkle one last time for his benefit. I hoped he picked up on what I was trying to broadcast.

I felt him squeeze me one last time before he let go and watched as he let himself out quietly. He didn't even say good-bye. But then I'm not even sure if I wanted to actually hear him say the words. I knew that it was going to be a long while before I saw or talked with him again. I stood there in the middle of my living room as tears spilled down my cheeks. It wasn't until a few moments later that I laughed softly as I felt a soft tissue being pressed into my hand.

'Thank-you, Phantom Dennis. You always know how to take care of me.'

With the argument between Angel and I, I had almost forgotten about Faith. She was still in her room. God, I hoped she hadn't heard everything Angel and I had to say to one another but it was probably a lost cause. The walls were about thin as thing could get. I figured I'd better check on her to see if she was all right. She didn't look like she was enjoying the tenseness that was Angel and I earlier. In fact the look on her face had read uh-oh look out because another Buffy and Angel sequel was hitting a theatre near you.

After composing myself a few minutes later and wiping all traces of tears away from my cheeks, I made my way down the hallway after switching out the lights in the living room. I wasn't even sure if I could face her after the almost kiss that we had almost shared earlier. The kiss that Angel walked in on and had set off the entire nights events. Lifting my hand I figured there was no batter time than now to deal with it. Angel. Just the mere thought of him made me whimper slightly and before I let my hand make contact with the wooden door, I backed away and decided that I'd see her in the morning.

Maybe it would be best and less awkward for the two of us if I waited until morning to have this talk with her. And what was it I was going to say to her. How was I going to bring up the kiss that had almost happened? I was too busy still trying to figure out what had changed between the two of us.

'Good night, Faith.'

I managed as another small whimper followed but I did my best to choke it off.

'I'm glad you enjoyed your gift.'

I meant that sincerely as I made my way down the hall to my room, watching as the light was turned on and the bed was being turned down.

'Thanks, Phantom Dennis. I think I can take it from here now.'

I smiled genuinely for the first this evening. Some things never changed. Once the door closed behind him, and I had changed out of my clothes and into my pajama's and had crawled into bed, it was there I finally let myself break down.

Heavy teardrops fell from my eyes as I tried to figure out just why it was that the Powers That Be seemed so hell bent on seeing me unhappy after everything I had been through and suffered for them.

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Rollercoaster Ride [08 Jun 2004|10:15am]

[ mood | surprised ]

It's about dusk now, the old body clock's kicking in and if I were still sitting it out in the clink, it'd be feeding time right now. I'm still stuffed from my lunch, so I'm feeling like a late dinner won't be such a bad thing. Gotta get myself off that routine, you know? I'm free now, no need to keep up old prison habits. I still almost feel like I'm cheating or something, like this whole thing is too fucking good to be true; but come on now, what's the worst that could happen?

Way I see it, if this is all some big joke on me and I get sent back in the hole, it's not like I haven't sung that song before. Survived two years, I can survive more. It's what I do -- I get thrown shit and I deal. 'Course, now I'm working on the more sane ways of dealing but it's the same fucking routine. Reacting's what I do best. Sure I hunt, but for the most part? I just roll with the punches. A vampire attacks and I react by staking it. A scooby throws some harsh words my way and I react by throwing a few of my own barbs their way. Maybe a punch or two if my brain's not functioning on its witty comeback channel. I get busted out of the pokey and I react by rollin' with it and just hoping against it all that this is gonna work out better than the rest of my life has up until this point.

So far, so good.

Me and C are just strollin' now, bags in hand and walking out the automatic doors like we own the place. Well, I'm walking like I own the place, Cor's kind of dragging ass at this point. Girlfriend keeps rubbing at her temples and acting like she's got a hangover from Hell. I almost joke that she needs a pair of shades to block out the brighter than bright fluorescent lights in this place, but I figure she's doing a good thing for me so I oughta be on my best behavior for now.

"So what now?" I ask like an impatient kid to their Ma while we look for her car in the nightmare that is a mall parking lot. I don't get how people find their way around these things. If you ask me, it's like one big fucking maze and every end's a dead one.

"Well... I wanted to go grocery shopping but..." C trails off, a troubled look on her face as she glances back at the mall. "I don't think that would be the best idea when we've got a demon on our tails."

Okay, that got my attention.

"Demon?" I perk up, changing from impatient to anxious in an instant. What can I say? I dig a good slay. I'm already cracking my knuckles at just the thought of a good one-two punch. "I knew something was up with you in the mall, you were totally trippin' out over something major. What gives?"

She's about to open her mouth when something comes barreling out from behind one of the parked cars. The sun's still peeking over the horizon, so I know from the get-go that we got a demon and not some dude with that little skin condition on our hands. This is gonna be good... first fight after a long lock up and you can bet your ass I'm pumped up and ready to throw some serious static.

"Hey buddy, looking for me?" I quip as it looks around confused that I'm not exactly shaking in Cor's borrowed sneaks. "Or are you just looking for some new threads to cover up the scales so you can look good for your girl?"

Hey, you never know, demons fuck too. Why else would he be hanging outside a mall? Looks like this one's not big on the banter because as soon as I start egging him on, he goes into snarl mode and lunges at me. I just roll my eyes and duck his sloppy punch, my right leg shooting out to swipe his feet from under him. Demon goes down and I'm on him, giving him zip time to recover. I'm speedy like that.

"So you're not a big talker, I get it," I say and I'm punching him now. Right. In. The. Mouth.

He seems to not be down with it 'cause next thing I know he flips me so I'm on my back instead. Bastard. C's gonna kill him for messing up the nice outfit she let me borrow. That little manicure stunt she pulled on me is gonna be a bust too. He growls and his drool drips down onto my face... fuckin' nasty if you ask me so I spit up into his face. You get what you give, you know? I'm slobbered by more demon spit and then he goes for the choke hold. That's old school so I grab his wrist instead and bend it backwards. It cracks and he howls. He shoots up into the air only to get smashed in the face by C while I use my sleeve to wipe off the drool.

"Way to go, C!" I exclaim and I'm wearing my shocked face at how easily she just nailed him like that. When did she start fighting the good fight with actual fists? Here I thought she was just Angel's bitchy secretary that occasionally saw the future and gave the guy the heads up. Demon's now nursing a what would be black eye if his skin wasn't already wicked dark and a broken wrist. Five minutes into the fight and it's slayer and the seer: 2, demon zilch.

The former cheerleader just grins at me and blows on her fingers as if they're steamin' hot. "And to think I didn't even break a nail."

Just for the Hell of it, I check out my own nails. I'm obviously not gonna flip over a little breakage, but surprisingly I'm still good for gold. Damn, I was really hoping for an excuse to peel this pink shit off, too. My only prize now is that hot shower waiting for me at the homestead. That drool is rank and I can't wait to slay this fucker and give my face a decent scrub down. I turn my body in a half circle this time, right leg shooting out again to crack into the side of his skull. He goes staggering back into a car. Of course the fucking car alarm starts to go off and C's face turns pasty white at the thought of us gettin' busted for damaging some rich bastard's Mercedes Benz. It's just a little dent on the side, no big. Wonder if insurance covers demon attacks? I grab the offender in question and head butt him, been a while since I've done that I wanna make sure I still got a hard head.

I do. No pain on this front but demon dude's reeling again. He crashes into another car, this one an old junker with chipped paint and a busted bumper, and collapses on the hood. He's lacking fun and with the alarm still blaring, I know that playtime's over. I march on over and easily snap this fool's neck. Even a bare-handed slayer is more than a match for this sorry excuse for a demon. Hell, C could've probably bagged herself a kill if she had a weapon with her. Not sure she'd be so eager to kill with her bare hands, but I'm gettin' some wicked nice visuals of her with a broadsword.

Cor's right there behind me once the demon's down and I spin around to face her. I'm breathing hard and still in fight mode. Since we better motor or own up to car damages, the fight's quickly turning into flee. I'm ready to bust a cap out of this joint. "Let's move!"

"Wait!" she says, her eyes fixed on demon boy. She reaches down and yanks something off his neck. Funny, I didn't notice a pendant before. "This could be important."

I just shrug and give her free hand a good yank in the opposite direction. "Great, you get a new accessory out of the deal, now can we get out of here before we get arrested for vandal? I could take down the pigs, no problem, but it's not really part of the good girl gig to take down a bunch of guys just trying to do their jobs."

"Faith with a conscience," she muses. "Now that's even scarier than that demon."

Laugh it up, princess. Faith with a conscience is just trying to save her own ass. Chalk it up to a good deed if that's your thing, but me? I'm just trying to make a quick getaway where it counts. This is a time it counts. My palms are getting sweaty and I'm starting to wonder if that drool didn't have some kind of juice in it to get me wiggy. I suddenly feel this chill in my lungs. Could be fear though... I really don't want to deal with cops. Been so long since I've been afraid that I forgot the feeling.

I roll my eyes and tug her away with me. She ain't complaining so I quicken my pace to a run and we're hightailing it to our car that we somehow manage to find. I swear the girl's got some kinda sixth sense for it. I ran right past it and she had to shout for me to stop and hitch it back a few paces. Anyway, to make a long story short, we got out of there with no problem. Once we're out on the freeway, I take better stock of the weird feelings I still got jumpin' around inside me. Man, it's like I got Mexican jumping beans embedded under my skin or something. My hands and throat got it the worst, but the whole of me just feels... off.

Thing is, I got these tingling sensations when that bitch painted me up all pretty too. I was just too busy being horrified at the pink polish to make a big out of the wicked weird sensations I was getting. Fuck, I really need to start trusting my instincts better. I just figured it was the weird crap they kept putting on my hands that was doing it. Now I'm not so sure.

"Hey C," I speak up, not liking how shaky my voice sounds.

She looks up, eyes laced with something bordering along concerned. I can see her mentally checking me out for bumps and bruises I might've gotten from our little tumble. "What is it, Faith?"

I swallow hard. Admitting weakness has never been a strong point of mine. I usually try to wing it and cover the best I can. Something about this whole sitch just tells me that if I want this thing to work out between the two of us, then I gotta be dollar honest and leave my baggage at the door, 'cause this chick ain't dealing with my subtle pleas for a little helping hand when I need it. I gotta be straight up with her or I might as well just march right back to my cell. Keeping things locked inside is what got me into trouble in the first place. If I go back on old habits, then I'm just a lost cause that Angel wasted his time fighting for.

"I don't feel so hot," I admit after a long break of silence between us. "I think our demon friend's bite isn't in his punches, it's in something else."

She purses her lips, hands gripping the wheel hard as she cops a glance in my direction. I've got my forehead resting against the windshield and my eyes half shut. My chest feels tight and I still got tingling fingers. Figures I catch some kind of demon flu my first day back on the job. First I take a bullet, now this. Slaying's always been a dangerous job, but I don't usually get so banged up when I'm out on the prowl. I just want to curl up in bed and have C put her maternal instincts to good use on me. You know, rub my back, tell me a story and fuck! This juice is really something else, huh?

But more than that, I think I could let her in. I know it sounds whack, but she's been nothing but good to me while I've been - for the most part - a brat about the whole thing. I bitched about my living arrangements, made a big fuss about her live in Casper wanting an "I'm sorry", locked her out when I got a little emotional, dissed on her coffee making skills, and then threw a fit when she put a little pink polish on my fingernails.

I don't deserve a girl like this... but I think I kind of want her.

"You don't look so hot either," she replies to my confession, I thought maybe she was gonna go on her usual rant about my look being so 1998, but the statement is simple, caring, and full of a thousand promises of how nice life would be with her. "We're almost there. I'll call Angel and Wes; they'll be so excited to research this pendant. We'll figure out what this demon's issue is."

"That chick in the store, the one who did my nails? She had the same kind of vibes that other demon had. I think she's got something to do with this."

Maybe I wasn't so wrong about that demon tryin' to get to his honey. I mean, if a demon can get a job at a prison, why can't one get a job at some cheap mall store? Doesn't make a load of sense for demons to be productive members of the work force when they can easily kill their way up to management positions, but hey, whatever works. I'm not one to judge on your lifestyle choice, I'm just wondering if this wasn't some big set up. According to the princess, I got something big and bad out for my blood.

"I felt something too," Cor says with an exaggerated sigh attached to the tail end of her sentence. "Now when you say you don't feel so hot, do you mean in the I might die in this car way or in the I might puke all over your recently cleaned seats way?"

"Either way, it's an inconvenience to you, right?" I mumble out bitterly. "I mean, you're either trying to pull a stiff out the car door, or you end up with my lunch in your lap. Maybe you should just dump me out on the side of the road; it'll be easier for you. No mess to clean up afterwards."

"I didn't mean it like that."

She tries to reach out and touch me, but I jerk away. I suddenly don't feel so friendly anymore. "Eyes on the road, C. Don't kill us both on the account of me."

Her hand goes back on the wheel and her eyes tell me she's sorry she made it sound like I was just a problem for her. I know it, yet it still smarts something fierce that the cleanliness of her car seats was a bigger deal than whether or not I was about to bite it.

"For the record, it's just the barf all over your seat sick." I figure I can at least put her fears to rest. "It's easing up some now. Must be a passing thing. No big."

"Good," she whispers under her breath, sounding wicked relieved. I don't get why she cares but I'm not hating it either. "I was worried." When I snort, she quickly goes for the guilt trip. "No really, I was. Despite what you might think, I don't actually want to see you dead."

"Why? Because you would lose face if you took the endangered slayer in your care and screwed up? Or is it because Angel'd be really pissed that you put a cap on his little project?"

I'm being a bitch, I know this. I just want to get the truth out of her. I want to hear her say that she gives a damn about me. I might have some fucked up ways of getting there, but hey, this *is* me we're talking about here. I rarely do things the normal way... or the right way. Even visits to the shrink twice a week couldn't change that habit of mine.

"Ugh! You are so infuriating sometimes! Does the fact that I'm trying to help you mean anything to you? I didn't ask for this but I'm doing this and I almost started to like it for a little while there, but then I say one wrong thing and suddenly you go into poor me mode and jump at the opportunity to make me seem like some uncaring bitch! Newsflash Faith! That's so not me anymore. Some of us have changed for the better."

"I know," I smirk. "I just wanted to hear it straight from your mouth." I get serious now; I wasn't bullshitting when I said I didn't want bad blood between us. "It does mean something to me... it means a lot that you'd go out of your way to help a sister out. I'm just not used to this kind of treatment, you know? Last person that treated me like a person and not just the expendable slayer ended up a giant snake. I'm still getting used to the whole thing where a person could be genuine with me without asking me to kill a bunch of people in return. This ain't easy for me either, C."

She looks at me like she doesn't know if she wants to smack me or kiss me. Okay, maybe not kiss... but you know, a girl can dream. Point is, she's half relieved, half pissed and not sure how to react to my little declaration of honesty, minus the bite I usually spoon out to harden up a kind word.

"Whatever," she shakes her head. We're at her place now and she puts her energy into parking.

I don't mind the quiet. It's been a full speed ride since my prison bust and I've barely had time to breathe and just take it all in. My head's still reeling, but I don't get the same kinda time I had in prison to sort things out when they got complicated. I got stuck in a slow as molasses pace and now it's like I've been given a pair of roller skates and told I gotta keep up with the cars on the race tracks because I'm a slayer, I got those cool super powers, and I should be able to shop and slay demons and make nice with old enemies friends, too!

We get out of the car; I make it out alright despite feeling like the kid with asthma that lived two floors down. I can tough it out, no problem. I don't make a fuss at C about it so she doesn't do a double take and try to make me lean on her or nothing. She knows I wouldn't take the offer anyway. She heads straight to the phone and I head straight to the bathroom. I got a feeling that if I just wipe this junk off, I'll be five by five.

We meet back in her living room with me squeaky clean and feeling worlds better. Didn't get that shower in, but a washcloth and a change of clothes worked wonders. Demon effects are something of the past and I'm feeling good again. Like I said, passing thing. Gets you real good for a while but doesn't have enough hold to keep you in bed overnight. I plop down on the floor, indian style and flash C a cheeky grin.

"So what's the plan for tonight? Big time research party I can fake sick to get out of?"

I might be feeling good now, but I could easily get lightheaded if it means I can skip out on getting heavy books thrown at me. There's reason slayers have watchers -- they do the homework and we do the dirty work.

"Angel's still brooding over..." she trails off. Angel's still smarting from the burn of losing his girl. Somebody should tell him to get the fuck over it already. Cryin' about it isn't gonna make C go back to him quicker. He's got too many issues for a mortal girl to deal with. Boy's got good looks and all, but he lacks much personality beyond brooding and can't get it on to boot, so where's the fun in a relationship with him? "He's going to pick up the pendant and bring it back to the Hyperion for Wesley to look at."

The plot thickens. Wes ain't down with hanging with his former torturess. Not that I blame him, I'm none too keen on partying with a guy who chained me up and tried to feed me to power hungry Watchers. We got a bad history that's gonna take a while to get over. At least with C there's minimal damage. We were never really best buds... but we didn't have that arch nemesis thing going on either. If anything, I did the least amount of shit to her.

"I actually have something to give you," she says out of the blue. There's a box on the table... wrapped simply but with care. She pats the place on the couch next to her and like the ever faithful puppy, I jump up and plop down. I can't resist a present. She could have dynamite in there for all I know and I'd still be more than eager to rip that baby open. She hands it to me and I just stare at it for a moment. "I guess you could say it's a peace offering. So go on, open it."

I get the paper off the thing and find a wooden box underneath, smooth and light brown, I wanna say oak but I'm not a tree expert, so I'll move on. I pop the top and gasp when I find out what's inside. A dagger. The May Queen got me, former psychotic rogue slayer, a fucking dagger that looks like it cost a pretty penny. I can't even touch it at first, I'm shell-shocked. Two reasons why. First of all, Cordelia Chase? Not really the giving type. I mean, girl had the cash in high school but did you see her pitching in for my rent or donating to charity? Hell no! I'd be surprised if anybody got anything from her. I kinda get the idea that she was more on the receiving line of things.

Other thing that gets me is, I don't get presents. Only time I got anything is when I was a hired assassin. That job treated me good. Did B ever give me squat? Fuck no! I got her a gift, it was crappy, but it's the thought that counts, right? What do you expect a poor runaway kid from Boston to have anyway? Not much. That cost me my meal for the day just so I wouldn't look lame coming over to her place empty handed. Bitch didn't even appreciate it. I never got to hash that sitch out with my shrink, so I still got a lot of pent up frustration on the whole Buffy issue.

"This is... whoa," I manage to choke out. "Wow, C... this is... you didn't have to do this you know."

I've gone stupid. The beauty of this dagger has rendered me incapable of forming complete thoughts. Translation? This is a thing of beauty but damn, where'd you get the cash for this and better yet, why?! She laughs a little at me actually being speechless for once. I know, the big talker reduced to incoherent fragmental rambling. Better take a picture 'cause this moment ain't gonna last long. Best to catch it while you can.

"So you like it?" she asks as if I can actually tell her just how much I do.

I look up, my eyes meeting her. She's got this hopeful look on her face that makes me want to grab her face and kiss her all over because she's actually stupid enough to think I don't have a serious hard on for anything pointy and metal. It's fucking beautiful, though. I can appreciate nice work when I see it. Aside from being sharp, it's got a historical look to it. This blade's old and it's powerful. I can feel it humming off the metal and seeping through my fingertips. I've finally managed to touch it, just a light caress across the blade and down to the hilt.

"This is a wicked blade, C," I say softly, still boring my gaze into hers. I don't know what's a prettier sight right now, her smile or the way that blade looks under the light of the moon. I feel high as fucking kite right now. "Why did you -"

"Shhh," she whispers to me, finger raising to touch her lips. "It was nothing. Just a little something I picked up for you. I knew you'd need it for slaying."

I shake my head back and forth in denial. "No, you're wrong. It's something... it's a big something, Cor. God, I don't even know how to begin to say thank you."

There it is, that smile again, along with a chuckle that rumbles through her chest loud enough that I can almost feel the vibrations in me. "You can thank me by not stabbing me with it."

I burst out laughing at that, all the tension from before slipping out. I'm relaxed and happy, for the first time in a... I was gonna say long time, but I don't think I've ever been truly happy or relaxed. Maybe it's the demon juice, but I start feeling lightheaded again. I reach out and touch her face, finding it the only thing I care to see at this moment. I shouldn't be doing this, it's such a me thing to do. Get a happy, kiss the girl. Fuck her if she's willing. Leave her in the morning. Want, take, have. It's the Faith way. I don't want to hurt her. I know I will, though. I always do.

I can feel her breath on my face now, soft puffs perfumed by something intoxicating that I can't pinpoint but like immediately. It all starts to go in slow motion, me brushing away a lock of hair, her smiling. She's shy and uncertain and it makes me feel like a fucking god. The better part of me is telling me to stop now, stop while you still have one friend in this entire world and I shouldn't fuck it up with sex, but the moment has me and I can't back out. We're inching closer together, I can smell her lip gloss. There's a hint of cherry there and my lips part open as I close the distance. My eyelids flutter shut and I'm about to make contact when I hear a loud thud.

"What the fuck!" I jump up from the couch, dagger in my right hand and ready to slay whatever dared to disturb me when I was making my move. Man, don't these demons know to attack after the sex?

Cor looks from me to the door and back to me and then the door and covers her mouth. Soul Boy himself stands in the doorway, the book he was holding on the ground by his feet. "Oh god, Angel!"

It'd be funny if I wasn't horrified myself. Her reaction was just like one of those Saturday morning cartoons. I lower my dagger; I can't slay Soul Boy. He's like my sponsor dude in murder rehab. I turn away and let out a string of "fuck"s. This wasn't supposed to happen. I get it together enough to face the guy and I blurt out the obvious, "Fuck Angel, can't you knock?"

He stares at his shoes. Heh. I would too if I were him. "I'm sorry... I... I was invited. I never used to have to knock."

Nice defense. I know this is gonna get ugly any second now. Cordy and Angel are gonna pull a Buffy and Angel the sequel on me and I'm gonna play my usual part as the whore that comes between them. Not to mention I don't know if that almost kiss was mutual or not. I think I'll just play it safe in another room.

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...almost a vision... [05 Jun 2004|09:46pm]

[ mood | confused ]

["God, you're such a rich bitch, C," I laugh from my spot. My feet are up on the table and I'm getting some fierce glares thrown in my direction. Stare away bitch, it's not gonna stop me. This is my way of dealing with self-important assholes. I just smirk and flip 'em the bird. This nail thing might be fun after all.]

From my seat next to Faith I noticed that some things all too familiar hadn't changed one bit and despite wanting to reach out and slap her feet off of the table in order to stop the glares we were getting, I found myself smirking instead at her own insolence. The girl was definitely her own person despite the hard-knocks she'd taken over the years and she wasn't afraid to let people know exactly what she thought about their glares. Besides, it serves them all right. They shouldn't be staring like that.

Laughing at her own comment towards my rich bitchy-ness I couldn't help but nod my head a little and accept whatever she had to say, because there was a time when what she said was very true. Back in Sunnydale I had a reputation for being the nastiest bitch and one of the most popular snobs that ran Sunnydale High and not once would I apologize for it back then. Maybe I would now, but that's because I've grown as a person and experienced so much pain, but even now every now and then I still find it a little easy to slip back into that rich bitch from Sunnydale who had everything and identified with the pampered spoiled princess persona.

"Can I help it if I got everything I wanted?"

I knew what reaction that would draw from her and I smirked slightly as I waited for it. Without missing a beat, Faith didn't disappointment me. She just rolled her eyes and smirked right back at me.

"Right C, because we're all so lucky to get everything we want in life without having to actually work for it."

"Hey I deserved everything I got."

I was almost half offended with her little comment, but I pushed it away. It's just typical Faith and I should be used to this by now. Besides I knew that I wasn't still that same girl that I was back in high school. I had come so far since then and grown probably more than anyone back there would be willing to accept.

"Sure you did, Princess. Sure you did."

I could hear the teasing in her voice and knew she was just doing it to irritate me. I knew I would get back at her for it, two could play this little annoying game and I had been dying to play a little practical joke on her since I had gotten her in the Nail Emporium. After all what was a little harmless joking between two old, um, friends um not exactly friends maybe more like enemies.

A grin spread across my face as I heard both of our names being called at the same time. I nodded and turned to face her, "Come, on. Let's move they're calling us. And if it's one thing I know you don't keep them waiting when they've called you or they'll just pass you by for the next person in line. And damn, I'm in such need of a manicure and you could use one yourself. You're looking a little ragged there, guess you're still doing the whole biting thing."

I smirked as I led the way through the small crowd of people towards the voice that had been calling our names. Moving my way ahead knowing Faith would be hesitant to follow too quickly because she didn't want to be there anyway. I quickly reached inside my purse and handed the woman a twenty telling her the girl over my shoulder was looking for something of a light pale pink-ish.

Muttering to myself where Faith couldn't hear me I said, "That's right, Faith. That's for the elbow. Might have apologize to Phantom Dennis, but this is my little payback."

I stopped for a moment as my hand brushed against the woman's hand I had just handed the twenty to. Something flashed in my mind and a blurry vision appeared.

"Oh no," I thought, "Oh no, this can't be happening now. Not now when I'm getting a manicure that's long over-due. Damnit! Damn the PTB. Someone should teach them about time. You would think that evil could acknowledge vacation time."

I stopped for a moment as I lifted my hand to my temple, placing my fingertips against I massaged it for a moment or so. The pain wasn't as immense as it had when I had first received my visions due to the getting dosed with demon DNA, but let's face it they still weren't a stroll through the park either. Being half-demon sometimes had it side effects to. Some of which I found disgusting and just odd.

The thing I had seen in my almost vision had claws and was pretty nasty looking. I couldn't figure out what it had to do with the woman, but I know that when I brushed past her on my way to sit in the chair at the manicurist table I had this odd chilling sensation like something wasn't normal. Please it's not like anything is ever normal around here with the work that we do, but this felt strange. It felt like something I had never experienced before, but that could just about sum up everything we've ever encountered as well.

From the corner of my eye I saw Faith watching me trying to figure out what was going on with me. I was pretty sure she knew something was up though not sure what it was exactly, even I wasn't sure. I smiled the best I could at her and motioned with my hand for her to sit down next to me at the manicurist table that was next to mine. I figure the better chances we have of something not happening if we stayed together. Though sometimes that's not always a fail-safe plan either. Not in this line of work.

Sometimes I envied other people's lives, ya know normal people. How they had it easy because they got to go into a normal job and come home at a normal hour to a normal family, when usually our lives were just filled with boring old demons. You know we fight them. We kill them, and still show up at 8 a.m. the next day. I often wondered why is that?

God I'm starting to sound like Buffy. This cannot be happening. I have a reputation to keep you know. Besides I am nothing like her, that girl practically had no style at all. I mean just look at her hair and her clothes. And her skin was the worst, I once saw her mother at a school function, I think parent teacher something or another and I absolutely wondered if the ability to moisturize skipped a generation in her family or something. Besides I was way more cooler than she was and I had a better sense of fashion. Extremely better.

My thoughts were interrupted as Faith plopped down in the chair at the manicurist table next to mine and crossing her arms over her chest in a moment of defiance, before finally succumbing to the whole getting her nails cleaned up bit. I knew this wasn't exactly her idea of a good time, but damnit I had been through way too much to give up the one luxury that I enjoyed almost as much as shopping. And from the looks of what she had bought today, I had seen enough of it to last me for a while.

I couldn't believe I was even thinking that. I smirked at her playfully.

"Nail biter."

I chuckled lightly as I watched her scowl at me slightly, the look in her eyes showing me she wasn't being indignant.

"Queen B." She retorted with a smirk gracing her features.

I had to admit that underneath the lighting she looked almost a little pretty. I could definitely see what the boys saw in her. I would never tell her that face to face, because I would probably die of embarrassment and she would delight in making it even worse on me with all the sarcastic little barbs she's good at throwing out. Lets face it, her barbs are just as about as powerful as her punches are and I should know because it wasn't so long ago I took an elbow to the eye on account of some lame-o ill-fated retarded vendetta she had out against Wesley.

"You know it." I quipped.

We both shared a good laugh and I straightened in my seat as I saw the woman I had handed the twenty to along with another woman, a slightly taller but slender brunet walking towards us. I watched as the woman I'd handed the twenty to came to rest behind the table I was sitting at and I looked over towards the brunet and asked as politely as I could, "Oh um, it's nothing to personal but do you mind taking care of my manicure instead of her, please?"

I then winked towards the woman who was still standing in front of me and nodded over towards the seat Faith was occupying. She took the hint and we both shared a small smile. I watched as one of her hands come up to finger the pendant she wore around her neck. I'd never seen anything like it before, it looked like some weird old boring something that Wesley would die to get his hands on. Was it my imagination or did I see some sparkage there when her fingers touched it, something like electrical energy or mystical? That's weird.

That's just strange, but okay I fibbed a little bit, well a lot, but I just really didn't want to risk touching that woman again and risk getting another almost vision. This was still a bit odd for me and besides, I didn't know if she had already filled the other one in on the little practical joke I was having played on Faith.

"That pendant," I thought, "I've seen something like that before. I know I have."

It looked like it fit together with something else, like something fit into it to open up something or whatever. Then a thought occurred to me, "God, this better not be another one of those things that opens portals. I've had to deal with enough fo them. I've had it with them, really."

This is a time when I really wish I had access to Wesley's books. I wondered if I called and left a message for him, if he would come by and or be willing to do a little research for me. It couldn't hurt to try because I mean he is one of my best friends, one of the few people that I would absolutely trust with my life. He's never let me down before. If I was lucky when I called maybe Fred would answer the phone and then she'd put me right trough to Wesley. His books and anything he had to say would be helpful right about now.

I was debating in my mind whether or not I wanted to involve Angel in this or just wait until I found out more. I mean since I had made the decision to stay at my apartment instead of the Hyperion, I wasn't sure if he wanted much to do with me these days. From the phone call I shared with Wesley the day before, it seemed Angel was worse than just his broody ol' normal I blame myself routine he usually goes into when something he wants to happen doesn't usually go his way.

Not more than twenty minutes later I could hear Faith once again interrupting my thoughts of Angel and debating on whether to alert him to this newest almost vision I'd had with her own out bursts of frustration, "Oh hell no. Lady, I don't think so."

I couldn't help but snicker. I knew exactly what she was protesting and I knew she was going to kick my ass really good for this one. But there's one thing she didn't realize, while she was away Cordy learned a few tricks or two. She didn't know I could match her every blow for blow and I could wield a damn good sword. She's not the only badass around here, ya know.

Turning to her and putting on my best annoying act, because that's what it was. It was all an act just to annoy her the way that she had annoyed me on occasions before.

"Excuse me, what's the matter now?"

I asked her faking annoyance at her outbursts knowing they would only draw more attention towards us as if we didn't have enough already.

Cutting her eyes at me she whipped her head around almost withdrawing her hands back away from the table, "I'm not some fancy little princess, that's your damn job C. I don't want it. I didn't ask for it. And I'm damn sure not going to wear any evidence of it."

She lifted one of her hands up and held it between the two of us wriggling her fingers at me as I had to put my hand across my mouth to hide my own amusement at the pale pink polish that now adorned her now neatly manicured nails. I only hoped my eyes didn't give it away.

In a perturbed manner I just shook my head with feigned disgust before I responded, "You know, you could try something new once in a while. It wouldn't kill you. Last I heard that Bohemian look you've been sporting went out of style say back around the time Cavemen ruled the world. Newsflash, we've come out of our caves, took the chains off and started our own trends."

I knew if anything that should get her pretty much steaming and she didn't disappoint. Faith's scowl deepened across her face and her eyes turned dark. I could tell she was trying to keep her composure without really creeping people out and drawing too much attention, you know keeping in mind that we had a big nasty still on our tails, well her tail that is.

Narrowing her eyes at me as if she had it all figured out, "You did this, didn't you?"

I gave her my best innocent look but I don't think it did much good. I think she had me figured out and I was pretty much going to have to give. But I wasn't going to until she squeezed it out of me, because this was entirely much too fun.

"Oh get over yourself, what makes you think I would waste my time to do something as boring and lame-o as this?"

Oh great, there she goes with that grunting thing again. I seriously don't get why she feels the need to get all huffy and grunt around about something that clearly isn't really all that big of a deal. That's Faith for you, though. Nothing really changes. Well some things I guess, but this never.

"Because it is something only you would do, Cor. It's got you written all over it. And because you're never going to be the actress you so desperately are trying to pull off. I can see through your little thin cover, I'm not even gonna waste the time warning you. I'm just going to tell you, I will get you back for this. Better watch your back."

I rolled my eyes at her, "Right, whatever."

I knew she wasn't playing though. I knew she meant every word she'd said to me. The look in her eyes told me. There was going to be a long run of practical jokes to come because I don't back down from a challenge. I'm not one to give up so easily and take the easy way out. I've proven that a hundred and one times over already within the past year. So this wasn't going to stop me.

"You're such a bitch, you know that?"

"Hey. That's Queen to you."

She scowled at me as she grudgingly put her other hand out so the woman in front of her could finish up what she started while the other woman worked on mine as well. It wasn't until about fifteen minutes later we were finished and we found ourselves making our way trough the shopping center. Faith still wore the scowl on her face as I watched her trying to hide the results of my practical joke on her. And I couldn't help but smirk.

That out to teach her not to mess with Queen C for a while.

"And when you're finished sulking."

She stopped right in her tracks and whipped around to face me. I laughed.

"Kidding, kidding. Seriously, you really should learn to control your temper a little. You'd think you were out for blood."

She just snorted.

"I am."

"Geeze, touchy. Come on, there's something else I want to get."

I watched as she followed along behind me reluctantly.

"Oh let me guess, something else to torture me with? What this wasn't good enough, C? You have to pull out all stops and lay the mother of all moth-"

She stopped mid-sentence as I found myself standing in front of a weird little shop, hand pressed against my forehead as something else flashed in my mind.

"Wow," I thought, "okay that was weird. First the almost vision from the manicurist lady and now this. It's getting stronger, there is definitely something strange about this. And wrong too."

"Hey," I heard a somewhat softened voice that was without a trace of annoyance that had been in it before, "C, something wrong? You okay?"

I felt Faith's hand reach out to touch my arm lightly and another flash went off in my mind.

"Ahh, God." I managed out loud.


She was all ears and I knew immediately by the tone of her voice that she knew something wasn't right.

Shaking her off and shrugging I nodded, "I'm fine. I just need a little space is all, okay."

She backed off a bit. I could still tell she wasn't exactly sure what had just happened and noticed when I glanced in her direction finally that her eyes held questions that she seemed almost hesitant to ask.

"Seriously C…" she fidgeted on her feet for a moment.

"Are you getting a case of the wiggin's or something? Did you see something?"

The truth was I couldn't really answer her, yes I had seen something. But no I didn't know what it was. And I didn't know how powerful it was. All I knew was I wanted to get what I came here for and then get back to the apartment. It wasn't safe to talk about it here and I could fill her in there, later ya know. After I made up for the practical joke that I had played on her earlier.

I gave her my best smile and nodded to the passers-by.

"See what? I'm fine. Just have a headache is all."

I watched as her eyebrows raised just like I knew they would.

"From a vis-"

I stopped her from saying anything out loud by motioning to the crowd around us in the shopping center and watched as she stopped in the middle of it.

"Good idea, just give it away. That's great."

I rolled my eyes and just drug on her on further through the mall cutting her off from saying anything. I couldn't be irritated with her for too long because after all she was kind of concerned about me, or at least she acted like it. And I have to admit that I kind of like the fact that someone as tough as her could also have a softer side. The question was how soft was her softer side. And even scarier why was I even wondering that?

I can't even believe that I let her talk me into buying that leather jacket anyway. I mean sure it was kind of cool but me in leather. That's like putting a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's pretty much a fashion faux pa when it comes to me and any type of animal hide, but still even I had to admit that I looked pretty hot in it. Yep, that was me the vision of hotly-ness standing in front of that dressing room mirror. And the look Faith had on her face, that smirk read more than-no, I'm not going there. So not even going there.

Faith was on my heels as I stopped in front of another store. I noticed that it was directly across from the store I wanted to go in and since I was getting something for her that was supposed to be a little surprise and wouldn't be if she followed me in, I slipped her one of Angel's cards and told her to go knock herself out in the leather store across from the one I was standing in front of.

When I was sure she was a pretty good distance I wanted into the store and started looking around. Most of the stuff I found there was pretty much stuff that we saw in our everyday line of work. There were swords, daggers among other weapons on display all over the store. I made my way in a little further and glanced around at the different things until one dagger in particular, a silver one with an ornate handle, caught my eye and I wandered my way over towards it. It wasn't long until sales clerk had appeared almost as if out of nowhere. That was a little odd, but oh well everyday is odd for us.

As I was looking at the dagger from a closer view, I noticed that it was gorgeously wrought with workmanship like I had never seen before.

"Do you like it?" The sales clerk asked stepping up closer and looking down towards the dagger I was admiring.

"Oh this," I looked down at it once more before focusing my attention on the proprietor in front of me and gave him a smile despite the weirdness I'd felt earlier when I entered the small store, "it's beautiful actually. I've never seen anything like this before. And I'm guessing there must be some kind of history behind it, right?"

"There's stories about the dagger having special qualities. I've often heard it told that it offers magical protection to the person that's carrying it."

I continued to stare down at it as the older gentleman kept telling me about all the qualities the dagger itself possessed. I figured it wouldn't probably be a bad idea to go ahead and get this for her, because after all there was some big bad out there hot on our tail and we were going to need weapons. Besides, I couldn't baby-sit her seven twenty-four. But the question was, did I want to risk giving her something that she could just stick in my back when I had it turned to her?

I thought about it for another moment before looking back up at the salesman and giving him my final word on it, "I'll take it."

The man smiled. "Of course."

I watched as the man began wrapping it in a pieace of silk and then placed in a wooden box, when he handed it to me finally, I went ahead and shoved it into a bag that had a few other of my purchases in it. I gave a warm smile to the man as I handed over the money to him for the dagger and marveled at how inexpensive that it was, I mean compared to what I had originally thought it would be. Then I left the shop behind to go find out what Faith was up to.

I wasn't in any hurry to leave Faith un-attended for too long of a time given our current predicament and the big nasty that we had on our heels. So I decided I'd marvel at it later while I was wrapping it up at home to give to her.

I found Faith waiting outside of the store for me with a few more bags in her hands and a small smirk on her face that said she bought the whole store out. It didn't surprise me, but I was in a giving mood or um Angel was pretty much.

I glanced back over my shoulder back and forth trying to see if I could spot the little store that I had just came out of, but there was no way that I could find it. I wondered if I had somehow gotten a little confused or lost, maybe disoriented from the 'almost visions' I'd been having today, a little side effect or something like that, but there was nothing to be found. Now that was odd. There was just no way around that. I shrugged as I caught up to where Faith was.

"My feet are killing me and my head is pounding. I think it's time we go before whatever it is that's after you catches up to us, not very safe here you know."

I gave her a look that said I'd tell her everything once we were back at my place. I just hoped she didn't question between now and then.

post comment

I hate shopping [03 May 2004|07:57pm]

[ mood | hopeful ]

Sleep came and went easy. It was nice to be in a real bed again. Not that I slept on the floor in prison, but prison brand bunks aren't exactly from the Bed, Bath & Beyond catalogs. I even get to wake up to the smell of coffee brewing here, and once I check the clock, I know I got a good eight hours in for the first time in a long time.

Truth is, it feels wicked nice just to be able to stretch and listen to the sound of traffic outside. Gotta love LA, nothing like the sound of police sirens to say, "Good morning, America!"

Domestic bliss aside, I'm feeling all kinds of good this morning. The shoulder's only pinching when I try making full rotations, but I'm good for shrugging so I ain't complaining. Everything else is back to being five by five. Can't say I'm hating life right now. And, as crazy it sounds, I'm actually feeling like I stand a real chance in this whole turning over a new leaf business. It's easy to play by the rules when you're in an environment where people are free to beat you and throw you in solitary if you step out of line. Living on the outside is the real test. There's nobody ready to lay on the smackdown if I start coloring outside the lines again. Not sure if the world's ready for me but, but shit, now that I'm here, I know I'm ready to prove that I can change.

Fuck it, I am a changed woman. If the folks here can't see that? That's their problem. I don't need their approval. Yea, it'd be great to get those pats on the back and the "Faith, I'm so proud of you"s, but I ain't gonna cry about it if I don't. I'm doing this for me, not for Wes, or Queen C, or Hell, even Angel.

My shrink told me that the first step to mental health is bein' cool with myself, so I'm trying to do that. Hippy bullshit is strangely appealing sometimes. I loved that dude, even if he did spout a lot of stuff that made me wonder just how much weed can get through the system unnoticed. Guy was a serious trip. And that was on the good days. He was damn near incoherent on the bad ones. But he helped me, so I respect about as well as I respect anybody. I won't bag on his brains too much. He obviously knew what he was doing if he could get me to spill. People always told me I was one hard nut to crack -- I got walls longer and taller than that big one in China. So gettin' me to talk about my feelings is an Olympian task. The boy seriously deserves a medal for getting a handle on my twisted mind.

I can hear C puttering around in the kitchen while I chill out for a while. She's definitely the one making the coffee. Every now and then I hear her make a comment to her ghost. Man, I still can't get over this whole Casper thing she's got going on. Girl sure has changed. Back in the 'dale, she'd probably shit her pants before she got friendly with anything supernatural. Now here she is, living with Casper and totally head over heels about Angel the ensouled vampire wonder. Apparently she's got demon blood in her too now. I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but I'm actually looking forward to getting to know the half-demon-less-of-a-snob-in-love-with-a-vampire version of Cordelia Chase. Now this chick sounds like one worth knowing.

Speaking of, a few seconds later I hear the sound of footsteps thumping down the hall towards me. C pops her head inside, a half annoyed, half still freaked out by me look on her face. "Oh thank God, you're finally awake. I was beginning to think you died in there."

"Only in your dreams, C," I bite back playfully from my spot under the covers. I yawn sleepily and pull myself up into a seated position with my back resting against the headboard. "Don't suppose the patient can get breakfast in bed, can she?"

I know it's pushing it, but I just can't help it. I have too much fun ribbin' this chick. The way she's been treating me like a fucking princess, I wouldn't be surprised if she very grudgingly brought me some bacon and eggs on a tray. Cor just rolls her eyes at me, a look of disdain replacing any fear she's still got for me. Maybe if she weren't so damn sensitive about everything, she'd realize I'm just playing with her.

"I don't think so, Faith," she shoots back at me. "Do I look like a maid?"

"Well maybe with the right..." I'm cut off by the wicked glare she gives me when I try to explain that with the right outfit, she could make a pretty hot little nursemaid. "Whatever. So is that coffee brewing for me or you?"

"Both," she replies nonchalantly, no longer pissed at me but not so happy sounding either. "It's the only thing that hasn't gone bad after spending the whole summer away from this place."

She looks kinda sad about that. I'm just dying to know what exactly she did last summer. Maybe we should write those essays they make you do in elementary school. She could explain what the Hell "higher being" means and I could give her a rundown on life in the hole. Way I see it, it's a win-win situation. Anytime she mentions it though, she's got this sad vibe humming under her words. Probably best just to let it be what it's gonna be. I don't want a former prom queen pulling out the waterworks on my already shot shoulder.

I crawl out of the bed, yawning and stretching. Everything cracks and C looks sort of mortified by it. What? The bod did a lot of healing while under those covers, of course it's gonna crack some once I get moving again. I just gotta get the blood flowing and my muscles warmed up.

Small talk's never been my thing so I think fast on what's something normal people do in the mornings that doesn't involve two people. "Got an extra toothbrush?"

"What?" she asks somewhat bewildered by my random question.

"Extra toothbrush," I repeat, slower this time as if I'm talking to somebody mentally challenged. "You know, one of those little colored sticks with bristles on one end that you use to clean the pearly whites with."

"Check the top drawer in the bathroom, I might have an extra one from the last visit I made to the dentist."

"Cool," I grin appreciatively at her. I march my way past her and then stop, deciding to take a quick jab while I still can. "And C? I take my coffee with lots and lots of sugar. I got a serious sweet tooth when it comes to hot drinks."

I could never get down with the coffee thing. I remember when I was a kid and my mom drank the stuff to try to get over her hangovers. I always thought it was wicked foul, unless I loaded with the cream and sugar, and then I could handle it. A few times I even tried adding some chocolate syrup along with the usual suspects. Ended up working like a charm. But if she hasn't been around all summer, I'm seriously doubting that she's got any milk or Hershey's syrup. Truth is, I'll just be happy to get something in my stomach. I'm still jittery about this whole break out thing. I could use something to settle my insides with.

I find an extra toothbrush right where C said they'd be. There's a blue one and a pink one. One guess which one I claimed as mine. As I brush, I can't help checking me out some in the mirror. Been a while since I really looked at myself objectively. I'm looking surprisingly good despite all the shit I've been through lately. The hair's a little bedhead-y, but other than that, I'm pretty damned pleased aboput the old mug looking as good as it does. Now if I could just get my hands on some eyeliner and lipstick, I'd really feel like my old self. I look all of fifteen without the usual mask in place. Vulnerable too, and I just don't dig that look on my face. Just doesn't fit right, you know?

Once I scrub and spit and give the hair a good finger-combing, I head back into the kitchen to find Cor sitting pretty with an outdated People magazine in her hand. She's not really reading it, but I guess the pictures keep her eyes busy enough so she doesn't have to stare at my smirking face all morning.

"So Ben and Jennifer are a bust, huh?" I say as I read the front cover. I don't get what the big interest is in celebrity romance. Everybody knows it ends in divorce anyway. My mom used to pick up the National Enquirer every now and then with her liquor. I used to like the stories about three headed dogs and alien babies.

She looks up at me and snorts. "As if everyone didn't see that one coming from a mile away." She puts down the mag and points at the cup of steaming hot coffee in front of me. "Dennis was nice enough to pour you a mug. You'll have to put in your own sugar. Neither of us were sure how much `lots and lots` consists of."

"Just like it sounds," I grin cheekily as I start spooning sugar into the cup. After about 4, I stop, stir, and do a little taste test. Not the best stuff, but Hell, anything beats the already cold junk they serve in prison.

"Geez, Faith, take coffee with your sugar much?"

I just shrug in reply. "Like I said, I've got a sweet tooth."

"Now there's the understatement of the year," she snorts again. I can tell she's amused by me, as much as she tries to hide it with snappy remarks and sarcasm. I mean, even I can admit that it's gotta be a hoot to hear the rogue slayer can't handle a little black coffee. "Anyway, I was thinking that we could go out today."

Now it's my turn to be skeptical. "Is that really such a good idea, Cor? I mean, I'm all for sightseeing, but let's be real here, I just escaped from prison. Don't you think the cops'll be on the lookout for me?"

"Fred took care of that," she replies matter-of-factly. "She hacked into the prison and changed a few files around. They won't be looking for you for a long, long time.... if ever. When we do a break out, we do it right."

"Damn," I mutter and I still can't believe this is actually happening. I'm free. Really free. No parole officer to report to. No cops to run from. I wasn't gonna end up as the most famous kid under 21 to grace the screen of America's Most Wanted. "You guys really went all out, huh?"

"You say that as if I'd want to house a wanted felon," she says with some major eye rollage going on. "Angel has enough problems without having to worry about the cops nosing around in our business."

Okay, girlfriend's got a point there. Still, they didn't have to go through all this trouble. I'm wicked touched by all of this. They went through a shitload of trouble for me and all I've done so far is bitch and moan about how I don't trust their motives in bustin' me out. Fuck me, I'm an idiot. I'm just no good at this nice stuff. Nobody's ever been nice to me before... except for Mayor Wilkins. His brand of a nice was a little different. Sure, he bought me a five star pad and shiny weapons, but I was also his hired assassin. I only got those milk and cookies after I'd done my job right. These people are doing this because it's what they think is right and all I gotta do is accept it.

I look up at C, she's engrossed in the magazine again. It's tilted just enough for me to see that she's got the pages open to the fashion "do"s and "don't"s. I lick my lips and try to bind my time until she wigs on me and tells me to quit with the staring. I've been told I got some pretty intense vibes going for me when I choose to focus my attention on something.

She finally looks up at me with a narrowed brow and a worried expression. "What? Do I have something on my face?"

I shake my head in the negative. I lick my lips again and clear my throat. Everything feels dry and tight all of the sudden. "I just wanted to say thanks. You know, for everything... the breakout, the place to stay, and," looking down at myself, I smile at the not so bad outfit she's got me in, "the clothes. It's wicked classy of you to be doing all this for a person that once tried to kill your graduating class."

She just stares at me for a moment, as if she can't believe that I can do the nice thing too. "Well, we do put up with Angel, and he's tried to destroy the world on more than one occasion."

"Yea," I chuckle in response. That argument never did work on B. For some reason when it came to me, I'd always be bad. Vampires could be redeemed but not naughty slayer Faith. I'm always gonna be bad news in her book. When I can't stand the serious atmosphere anymore, I go for a conversational diversion. "So you mentioned something about shopping?"

"We totally need food for a start," she states as she looks around her kitchen somewhat mournfully. I notice the trash bag's full and I get an idea of how she spent her morning. Yuck. Can't say I'm sorry I missed that. Maybe I could offer to take out the trash.

"And I need some new threads," I speak up while we're on the subject of needing stuff. Cor probably doesn't want me raiding her closet on a daily basis. Now that I'm out for the long haul, there's a whole list of things I need besides leather pants. I doubt princess here wants to be sharing hairbrushes and shampoo forever. Probably thinks I got slayer cooties or something. "You think we could hit up a mall or something?"

"The mall?" she arches a brow up at me. Now she's really amused. "I could use a manicure and a massage. There's the cutest little salon in the mall that has people to give massages while they do your nails. God, I haven't been there in ages. I'm sure Angel won't mind if we do a little pampering and charge it to his card."

My mouth drops open in horror at the word "we". Oh no, no fuckin' way am I sitting around in some girly boutique getting sparkles put on my nails.

"We?" I squeak out, unable to cover up my level of freaked.

"Uh huh," she replies in a sing-song voice. "Like it or not Faith, I'm not letting you out of my sight. If I have to be subjected to your skanky motif, you're coming with me while I get some long overdue pampering in. Besides, how do you know you'll hate it when you've never even given it a chance?"

"I just, it's not my thing," I mumble out lamely. "I don't like the fluffy stuff, okay?"

"Okay, party pooper. If you don't want to participate, you can sit on the hard plastic chairs with fashion magazines and wait until I'm finished."

"Maybe I will," I huff... but that option screams boredom, so I think I'll accept C's offer to get pampered and charge it all to the big guy up top. They just better have black polish... and if not black, dark red. I'm not gonna prance around in leather pants and pink nails. That'd be the clash of the century right there.

A few hours later has us both at the mall, C decked out in her usual designer gear and me just trying to keep a low profile in some more of C's outfits. I opted for a pair of faded jeans and a black tank. Nothing special, but it's better than going naked. I'm still a little shaky on the being out in public after my breakout. Doc McKenny always said I had paranoid tendencies. You know, just the usual the world is out to get me things. Can't say he's wrong about me. Spend your life being a cosmic joke and see how positive your world views are. I'm just a regular poster girl for jaded teen in the US of A.

"You know Faith, acting like an escaped prisoner is only going to bring unneeded suspicion," C speaks up as we march up the escalator. We'd stopped by the food court first to stuff our faces. Her with a chicken salad and me with a burger and fries. "If you keep looking over your shoulder, mall security is going to think you stole something."

She's right. I'm jittery as fuck and just making people think I'm some kinda lunatic with the way I keep looking around and waiting for someone to tell me to put my hands in the air. I gotta start taking my own advice and chill the fuck out already, so I force a smile and take a deep breath. Come to think of it, a massage couldn't be half bad...

"Okay, okay, I'm chillin'," I say as I relax the bod and lean up against the rail. "I'll quit the spazz act once I get zipped up into a pair of leathers."

"Typical," she shakes her head, but she's smiling. "Leather pants to calm the wild beast. Who would've thought?"

I'd say I thought so, but that's kinda stating the obvious so I keep my trap shut. The escalator reaches the top and I hop off and onto solid ground. Those things are seriously freaky. I've heard all sorts of horror stories of kids getting their shoe laces stuck and ending up without a foot. You see what I mean about paranoid? I've got all sorts of ticks that nobody would ever guess I've got. I'm just good at keeping 'em to myself.

The leather shop isn't too far from the escalator and I practically run in there like a kid that's just been presented with the candy store. Once inside, I forget all about being an escaped convict 'cause I'm in fucking heaven. Leather pants of every cut, style, and color. I go straight for the black ones. It's almost good in a way that we're doing this shopping spree thing. My old threads were looking something weary. With all the blood and vampire dust on 'em, they'd seen better days.

I grab two pairs of black, your typical brown ones, and some in the shade of dark blood red. These should do by me all right. I also grab a pair of clunky boots. They're the kind with a slight uprise of a heel, good tread action on the bottom, and zip up a little past the ankles. Cute enough to wear for a night out and durable enough to slay in. I dug 'em.

"Hey C," I call out once I've gathered up my purchases. She's off looking at purses. "I'm all done here, you mind handing me the plastic?"

She kinda snubs her nose up at my idea of fashion but she knows better than to try to talk me out of leather and into Gucci. "I see you're taste in skankwear hasn't changed much."

"Nope," I answer proudly, running my hand against the smooth surface of the red pair. "I look hot in leather, Cor."

"Hot in that skanky way," she says with continued disgust at my leather fetish.

"Damn, C, you're starting to sound like a broken record with all the skank talk. It's not all bad. Have you ever worn leather before?"

"Yes," she admits, frowning slighty. "I had a few stylish leather jackets in high school. Why?"

I grin widely and point a thumb over at a maroon leather jacket, slim cut and just screaming Cordelia Chase. "So what's your beef with the cowskin, princess? I bet you'd like what you saw if you gave that one a chance. I know it ain't Pucci or whatever it is you rich types you wear, but it's got style."

"It's Gucci," she corrects me hautily. Yea, whatever, close enough. "And I'm not stuck up if that's what you're trying to imply."

"Then prove it," I bite back, the challenge in my voice wicked clear and present.

"Prove what?"

"Prove you're not stuck up and buy the jacket. You're armed with the plastic. Say it was a matter of life or death. The big guy will understand."

She looks back and forth between me and the jacket before snubbing her nose up at me and marching over to the rack. That's my girl. See, I know how to deal with chicks like her. All you gotta do is call them chicken and they'll do whatever it takes to prove you wrong.

"Happy now?" she asks when she comes back wearing the jacket. Gotta say, she wears the cowskin well.

"Ecstatic," I reply smugly. "Now hand over the Visa. I'm just itching to get changed into my new duds."

Once Cor signs on the dotted line, we make a few more stops in stores of my taste. Footlocker for training gear... I needed a pair of sneaks and a fair share of tight tops to keep my tits in while I'm pumping metal. We stop by some run of the mill cheap stores for some low slung jeans, wifebeaters, tight tanks and T's with fun sayings on 'em. I've got a thing for shirts that offend. Even got myself a new denim jacket that's gonna look all kinds of smokin' when paired with my new pants. I'm almost sad about how much money I've spent here today. C ain't saying anything though, so I go with it. Why stop a good thing, you know?

"God, for someone who bitches about hating the mall, you sure can shop," she says while we're standing on that escalator again.

This time we're going down towards the nail place. I got a feeling she's been dying for this all day. Gotta hand it to the girl, she's been a trooper throughout all of this. Every now and then we've stopped in a store of her choice, but for the most part, I'm the one doing the shopping while she does the babysitting act. The only store we both seem to agree on is Victoria's Secret. Every chick needs her fair share of sexy underwear. I caught sight of the prom queen buying herself a teddy. Man, I don't think I want to know who she plans on wearing that in front of. I don't need the mental pictures of her and Soul Boy gettin' it on in my head. The boy's like a brother to me now.

"I'm just trying to get this all done in one trip," I explain. It's true too, I do hate the mall with a fucking passion. The less time I gotta spend here, the better. "I'm efficient like that."

We reach the Nail Emporium (man, what a lame name!) and C turns all professional on me and makes an appointment for two. The Asian chick behind the counters says something about the wait being long but my girl Cordy talks her way in front of some other people on the list. We're suddenly down to a ten minute wait. Can I just take a second here and say whoa? Never pegged C as a smooth talkin' negotiator, but damn, am I ever liking it. A girl that can get what she wants is damn sexy.

"Damn, C," I comment when she takes a seat beside me. "Where did you learn how to sweet talk like that?"

"I can be efficient too," she replies with all the dignity in the world. She's doing her typical I'm the queen of the world act now. "It's just a little skill I picked up from dealing with hundreds of incompetent hairdressers, waiters, caterers, and manicurists in my life. They like to pretend they're all important with their appointments but the truth is, they need people like me to keep them in business and they really can't turn down a good offer."

"So you flashed dollar bills in their faces and threatened to call in the super?"

"Less of the former, more of the latter."

"God, you're such a rich bitch, C," I laugh from my spot. My feet are up on the table and I'm getting some fierce glares thrown in my direction. Stare away bitch, it's not gonna stop me. This is my way of dealing with self important assholes. I just smirk and flip 'em the bird. This nail thing might be fun after all.

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...Taking Care of Business...for fashion__victim [02 May 2004|07:40pm]

[ mood | exhausted ]

As soon as the door closed behind Faith and I was sure she was settling into a nice hot overdue bath or sorts, I made my way through the living room, dining area and into the kitchen. It had been a while since I'd been back home and was also getting reacquainted with things as well. Sighing as I opened the refrigerator door I peered inside hoping to find something cool to drink. To my surprise there wasn't much of anything in there. Boy, I guess when you become a higher being and you leave this plane to ascend to another one they don't keep you in stock of food and drinks. Oh well it didn't matter it just meant that we'd have to make a run to the grocery store.

I could drink water. It might not be my beverage of choice for the moment but ice water wasn't the worse I've seen. Not unless you count my first year I spent in L.A. as a starving wannabe actress who was trying to make it in the industry without two pennies to her name or a dime to spare anyone. My stomach was growling and I was exhausted from the night's events. I guess breaking someone out of prison, and getting into a verbal sparring with them not to mention hurting the one person you've always been able to count on would do that to you. Yeah you could say it's been a long night chasing ghosts and trying to get along when two of them could hardly acknowledge the other.

And really I don't blame Wesley too much, because after all she did nearly torture him to death. But for some reason she seemed to be oh I don't know a little different now than when she went in. I mean don't me wrong girl's still got an attitude that needs to be taken down a notch or two, but she did seem like she was actually trying to keep up the good act on the road to redemption. She did apologize to Dennis after all. That was hysterical. If Wesley could have only been here to see that he might have noticed for himself and it seemed to me that she actually admitted that what she had done to Wesley was wrong and she really was sorry in some way. Though I doubt she would ever let on to him about it. I'm almost certain that she wouldn't.

Hell she might not even tell me.

I turned around to see the water running in the facet and a glass of ice being filled with the cool liquid. I knew it was Dennis and smiled appreciatively. He must have missed me a lot while I was gone. I felt sorry for him that there wasn't anyway to let him know what had happened or well actually to let anyone know what had happened. I guess the Powers That Be aren't really up on delivering messages. Skip as much told me that. I watched the glass float over to the table and land softly. I flashed another warm smile.

'Thanks, Dennis.' I said.

I picked up the glass and took a sip of the water. The cool liquid felt refreshing going down my throat. I drank a fair amount of it before I set it back down on the table. Turning back around I knew I had other things I needed to be worried about taking care. It seems that while I was gone my friends took it upon themselves to box all of my things up probably because they didn't know where I had gone or what had happened to me and there was no clue as to when or even if I might be back. I could close my eyes and imagine Angel, Gunn and Fred boxing up this and that. Maybe even Angel was going through my pictures and personal effects looking for clues as to what had happened to me.

Walking over to a box I opened the top of it up and peered down inside at the pictures and memorabilia my friends had packed away for me. Reaching in I picked up a picture that had been taken of Angel, myself and Wesley that first year we worked together, it had been taken the day we were in my apartment celebrating the Shanshu prophecy that said Pinocchio was going to be a real boy someday. It was one of our happy moments. And lets face it those were pretty big on the not so small scale of bigger bad moments we experienced.

My fingers lightly touched the glass where Angel was on the other side of me and I smiled down as I noticed that Wesley looked happier in that moment than he had in a long time. It felt good to remember the better times because so much had happened between then and now. I sighed as I set the frame down. My mind went back to Angel and I felt conflicted. I knew he was hurting and there wasn't anything I could do. And what made it even worse was that it was because of me he was.

I could be his friend and I could even be in love with him, but I couldn't be with him. At least not right now. And that's what he couldn't understand. I knew he loved me. He knew he loved me. But sometimes love just wasn't enough even if it was supposed to happen and then was suddenly ripped away when I had to ascend to higher beingdom and he sank to the bottom of the ocean in a box. A lot had happened since that night. And I knew that a lot more was getting ready to happen. Whatever Big Bad Nasty this was we were getting ready to go up against, that was gunning for Faith, we needed to be prepared and arm ourselves with the right methods for fighting this thing.

It wasn't going to be a pleasant experience.

As if anything concerning Faith would be a pleasant experience. Girl seemed snappy and irritated tonight. Not to mention a touch nosey when it came to my personal affairs regarding Angel and the nature of our relationship. I can't believe she had the audacity to accuse me of being some sort of blond bimbo Buffy Summers sequel in a tragic affair created for two. I'm not some love struck dumb blond who wants more than she's been given even when that something she's been given should already be enough. I might not be perfect-no wait, I am perfect, but at least I know how to be a friend and accept someone for who they are instead of treating them like they should be something more than they can be.

People used to get down on me because I was harsh and shallow in high school and maybe I was but what they didn't understand is that I had a reputation to keep up. There are rules at being popular. See back then the trick was to know your losers. Being able to identify them by sight made it a lot easier to avoid them. So then what was I? You guessed it-I was the popular people. The people that hung with me and mine came from the best of the best that Sunnydale had to offer. And if you didn't cut it then you were a loser, slacker or geek. Those weren't allowed.

I ran a group of girls basically known as the Cordette's. Sort of like a who's who of the rich and wealthiest families in Sunnydale and what they had to offer. You know the perfect people, like me. Or well um, almost perfect people. Hey you don't get dubbed May Queen if you're not willing to work for it. It's hard being popular when everyone else around is just sheeping because they don't know how to lead and all they'll ever be good at in their lives if following. I set the standards back in high school and they were pretty high. You didn't make them then you were cut from the team plain and simple. No questions asked.

I wore what I wanted to wear, did what I wanted to do and made damn sure to date whoever the hell I wanted. Boy that was a mistake. Xander Harris, my loser boyfriend fixer-upper from hell. The whole, 'I hate you, I hate you more' relationship. It was nothing more than a little kissing and gropage in the broom closet at school. But who was I fooling I actually cared about him maybe on some weird messed up level. I mean he was funny sometimes and he could be sweet. And I had a crush or whatever you would call it. But then he hurt me with Willow. That girl never liked me and lets face it I never much cared for her. I dubbed her loser a long time ago. I tortured her all through high school. But sometimes I could be nice to her just because I thought it was the charitable thing to do.

But her and Xander; that hurt a lot and not just me but Oz too.

So with graduation being a rough ceremony and nothing else left to my name in Sunnydale I made the decision to come to L.A. and the rest as they say is pretty much history. I don't usually like to talk a lot about my life pre-here too much. It brings things back that I'd just much rather forget.

But Angel and Doyle seemed to change things a lot. It's like for the first time in my life I finally had real friends I could trust, then Doyle pissed me off righteously going out like he did, and we got Wesley. I learned a lot that year. Several things I already knew and one that was entirely new for me. That for the first time in my life I had friends I could trust with my life. Those two people were the best friends that I knew I would ever have. I didn't know then that I would love one of them the way that I do right now. Or that it would hurt as much as it does.

I could feel the warm droplets forming again and gathering at the corner of my eyes. I put the picture down gingerly and closed the top of the box back up. I knew there other things I needed to be doing like making sure Faith had something decent to wear. She would probably be grateful for it. I made my way down the hallway towards my room stopping for a minute to lightly knock on the bathroom door.

'Hey Faith, you all right in there?' a little concerned by how quiet she was being in there.

'Five by Five, C.' her voice answered and allowed for nothing more.

'Well all right I'm just going to go find you something to wear for when you get out, and then I'll set about getting things ready to change your dressings for your wounds okay.'

I was trying to do the right thing and be helpful. I knew she had Slayer powers that allowed her to heal faster than us normal people, but I also knew that as bad as her wounds were that they weren't going to heal over night and I would need to bandage her up the same way I had bandaged the rest of the guys up before after a long night of demon slaying. So I looked through my closet and grabbed a pair of simple black track pants, a tank and a light jacket that she would be able to use. Moving over towards my dresser I figured she'd like the idea of a clean pair of underwear and I knew I had a basic black thong that I had just bought before I ascended and never got to wear. It still had the price tag on it and I dug that out of my drawer along with a pair of socks and tossed them onto my bed. I figured if she was going to change anywhere she could use my room.

Making my way back into the living room I noticed that the fist-aid kit had already been placed on the coffee table and I smiled as I thought of Dennis. It was his way of helping like he used to do when I would come home and have to recover from a nasty migraine brought on by the Powers That Be and those visions that Doyle felt necessary to pass onto me. Seer cooties probably or not, no I know what he was trying to do now. I understand and I forgive him. I was mad at him for a long time, but now I understand why he had to do what he did. And I accept them. I have to because Angel needs me to have them so that I can help him to help the helpless. And I guess right now Faith was my helpless.

'Thank-you Dennis, you're being exceptionally nice considering the fact that you did slam the door in her face.'

I chuckled at the surprised and half-stunned look that had crossed Faith's face when she realized she was going to have to apologize to Dennis for coming into our home and giving me an elbow to the eye and taking Wesley and torturing him to near death. If it's one thing Dennis was good at it was being protective of me. I guess when you get right down to it I did save his life-or well um, unlife in a way. And he thought he owed it to me to be there and experience the things that I wouldn't let anyone else experience. Dennis was one of my best friends too.

The light flipped off in the kitchen and I heard the refrigerator door shut once again. In a matter of moments there were two glasses of ice water sitting along side the first-aid kit on the coffee table. And I narrowed my eyes when I had noticed that he had forgotten to use coasters. We had gone over this before and I was not up for repeating myself. A soft smile returned to grace my features as I watched them being lifted and two coasters pushed underneath them. He was getting it right now, he had just forgotten.

'Thank-you again, Dennis but I think I can take it from here.'

I heard the door to the bathroom open and turned to face the hallway as I saw Faith step out clad in nothing but a towel and dripping wet hair. She stood there for a minute; she looked like she might be thinking or trying to figure out what to do next. My eyes scanned the length of her body as a smile rested on my face. I had to admit she looked nice when she cleaned up. I mean literally cleaned up and wasn't dressed in full-scale skank wear. She wasn't your ordinary girl next door but she wasn't exactly your exotic beauty either. She was just normal with certain things that accented her features. She was nice to look at. I could see what the guys might see in her. She had the ability to look a little girly no matter how much she argued that point. Though I would never tell her.

'Um Faith, you know you're dripping water all over my floor. Thank-you.' I said breaking the silence between us.

'Oh um, sorry C. Kinda didn't realize what I was doing for a minute.'

She seemed distracted for a moment almost like she was still trying to figure out why she was here instead of bunking with Angel at the Hyperion. I couldn't tell her it was because I didn't want to let her out of my sight because I couldn't let her out of my sight. She might think I've gone stalker all of a sudden on her when that's totally not the case. It's like that Gunn ordeal. Ya know when I had this vision of him and he turned out needing to be saved from his own self and I had to stick right there next to him to make sure that he was all right. Well that's kind of what this was. I guess in a way or whatever.

I don't even know exactly why I decided Faith needed to be my newest roommate but I do know that if what I saw in my vision was right, then my place was the safest place that she could be aside from the Hyperion and since I needed that obvious break from Angel to figure some things out about myself it only seemed natural to keep her here with me for company. Oh now that was a switch a year or so go I would have died if someone would have told me that I had to have her for a roommate but now it was different. Everything was all different and I'm sure she was just as confused as I was. Though she would never say anything about it. And would probably make me end up looking like an ass if I were to say something to her.

Her voice broke my thoughts.

'Um Cor, you wanna point me in the direction of some clothes before I catch a cold. You wouldn't want that now would you? I mean having to explain to Soul Boy and all that I died because you let me get too cold or something.'

She could be so frustrating sometimes but I swallowed it and smiled at her. I refused to let her see just how much she got to me sometimes. I think she liked pushing my buttons and the sooner I learned not to let her, the better off the both of us would be.

'Oh um, yeah right. I'm sorry. Dennis,' I said and motioned in the air with one of my hands, 'could you turn up the thermostat? Thank-you.'

I turned my attention back to Faith and motioned towards my bedroom.

'In there are some clothes for you to wear and a new pair of underwear.'

I hoped that last part didn't sound bad or she didn't take it in a way I didn't mean it to be. God I could say the dumbest things sometimes but you'd be pretty much hard pressed to hear me admit it.

I could tell by the look that crossed her features she was getting ready for another smart-ass remark and I braced myself for it. I wasn't going to let it get to me. I was going to control my frustration if it was the last thing that killed me.

'At this point C, I'm almost scared to see what you've picked out for me. Probably some pink sequined jumper get up that you know I'll hate. You and Wes really thought you were being funny, huh? Making me look stupid and all. Guess some things never change.'

I could hear the disdain in her voice and it annoyed me further but I managed to wrestle those feelings aside and smiled at her.

'Nah, thought I'd be a little nicer to you this time. That other outfit was just Wes and I playing around, getting our revenge mojo on and it looks like it worked pretty well. You did look kind of silly in that outfit. A typical Kodak moment.'

I laughed lightly in response to the rolling of her eyes.

'In here, right Cor?'

She asked as she started in the direction of my bedroom and I simply nodded to her.

'Yeah, feel free to use anything of mine you need. Especially deodorant I hear that works really well these days for personal hygiene.'

I knew it would only further serve to annoy her and if that was the only way I could get my chuckles on then it was just going to have to be that way. Though even I had to admit that I was just being a tad playful. What seemed like fifteen minutes later she came out of my bedroom and joined me in the living room. I could tell that she hadn't put her tank on yet, she was wearing the sports bra I had laid out for her to put on, I figured it would be easier for her to wear that because of her wounds. I smiled at her slightly as she took a seat next to me and I reached over and started applying the necessary antibiotics to the wounds and bandaging them.

'So why am I really here, Cor?'

She asked me.

I didn't know how to respond to it so I just gave her the basic generic that I could find.

'Because I had a vision of some Big Nasty that's gunning for you and since I got the happy little THX snapshot in motion in my head I figured it was my responsibility to take care of you.'

I tried to sound as sincere as I could. But I could tell by the skeptical look on her face that even though I had answered her question that I had really answered her question. The truth was I wasn't exactly sure how I could answer her questions when I didn't know everything there was to know either.

'Cor why don't you just do us both a favor and cut the crap, just give me the truth.'

I was slightly annoyed with her as I finished dressing her wounds and watched her slip into the tank I had offered her. But a part of me understood the need to know the truth even if it did sometimes hurt more than you would think it would. And I guess I owed it to her to at least be honest.

'Truth is, I don't know why. All I know is I got this vision from The Powers and we had to bust you out and then I decided you should stay here with me. That's the truth. That's all I know so far until the next time the PTB decide they want to invade my head and interrupt my life again.'

I sighed feeling exhausted and I could tell by the look in her eyes she was just as exhausted. I moved across the room making it a point not to look at her and simply said quietly, 'I'm tired I'm headed to bed. I'll see you in the morning okay.'

'Yeah, something like that, C.'

I heard her say as I walked down the hallway, slipping into my room and shutting the door behind me.

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Home Sweet Home [01 May 2004|04:08pm]

[ mood | cranky ]

I look back and forth between the prom queen and Angel's quickly retreating ride. I'm suddenly thinking that my break out? Totally came at the wrong fucking time. I know, I was being a major bitch the whole time over, but come on! You gotta know that this ain't a walk in the park for me either. Just my presence scared Wes away, then I'm stuck in a car with Buffy and Angel the sequel. I'm sorry, but listening to a bunch of romantic bullshit just bores me to tears. They could've at least humored me and turned on the damn radio.

So I got a little fidgety, started falling back into the old routine of making sarcastic quips from the sidelines. No big. Sure, I'm kickin' myself now for being such a brat after all they did for me, but hey, they know me. Angel knows me. I didn't mean any harm by it. No need to be tripping out over nothing.

Tell you what, thing I am cracking up about is this get up they decked me out in. I feel like a freakin' circus freak in this gear! I can't even begin to tell you how fast I'm tearing this off of me. See, I thought a pink dress would be bad. Mayor got me in one, but he was a father of sorts to me. Hell, I butchered innocent people for him. Why wouldn't I wear a dress for him? He was kinda hard to say no to. Guy got me into milk drinking, Flinstone vitamin taking, and pink dress wearing. What can I say? The dude had a steely determination that even my extreme stubbornness didn't stand a chance against. Too bad he was evil. He could've set me up on a pretty damn righteous path with the hold he had over me.

Now I'm standing here in a baggy pink T with a big red heart on the front and a pair of overalls. Couldn't quite get them up around my injured shoulder so I'm just wearing them as jeans with the top part hanging off my waist and hoping they don't fall off of me and give everybody a load of my prison brand underwear. Normally, I wouldn't give a shit... but these kind aren't exactly sexy and for the showing. Just your plain white cotton type that middle aged housewives and six year olds wear. Not really my style. As soon as I get settled in, I'm buying myself a thong.

Gotta say, I'm wicked shocked that I'm standing here watching Cor fumble with her keys. I figured I'd be set up with a hotel suite since Angel's all with the hospitality now. Never seen the place up close and personal, but Soul Boy sent me a few snapshots. Pretty sweet deal he's got up there. I'm kinda bummed that I'm gettin' shipped off with C in some apartment I have yet to see. Now I doubt C's living with cockroaches, but I've got my doubts about her place living up to Hyperion standards.

Whatever. I don't know why I'm making such a big out of this. I spent the last two years of my life in an 8 by 10 cell, at this point, a fleabag motel room in SunnyD would be high class living compared to the crappy accommodations I've learned to call home sweet home.

"Uh, C," I clear my throat to get her attention. She's got mascara stains on her cheeks just beggin' to be wiped off from all that bawling she did back there. "Not to look the gift horse in the mouth or nothing, but why am I here? I thought I'd be going home with Angel. I mean, he's the big champion guy with a mission to save lost souls likes me. Not to mention a good pal of mine. Makes sense that he'd want me around to keep tabs on my progress."

She just gives a light shrug of her shoulders and pushes open the main doors that lead into the hallways. "I don't really know. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time."

I snort skeptically at that. Don't really see how where I'm living makes a diff, but okay. I'll humor the chick. She's had a rough night. Angel never mentioned having a thing for Cordy before, he's not really big on the talking about his personal life. Imagine that. He kept the spotlight on me during our talks, asking me if the butches were still picking on me and if he could get me anything, just let him know. Always the martyr, that's my boy. I usually just asked for stupid things like CDs and Hershey bars, anyway.

"Let me guess," I drawl out as I let my eyes pan over her body. "It's a vision thing, right? You're doing this 'cause something invaded your head and told you that bunking with the rogue slayer was the only way to keep some big bad beastie out there off her case. So now you're doing the righteous thing 'cause you can't turn your back on what could happen if you don't. This is all about saving your ass."

Can't help it, I'm a cynical bitch. I don't want to be somebody's charity case because it makes them feel a little better about themselves in the morning. If C's feeling bad about what she's doing to my man, Angel, then she can go find another good deed to distract her from her pain. I got enough on my plate and I don't need to deal with being the middle man in another love affair that's going nowhere fast. I just don't get it. Angel's a great guy, I know this. Not a bad kisser either. But let's be realistic here. The guy's cursed! He can say I love you as much as he wants but if he shows it, he's screwed out of his soul. Call me crazy, but I'm just not into that whole scene.

As much as I hate to say it, Buffy and Cordy are smart girls. A fuck of a lot smarter than me. Yet when it comes to love, they're like a bunch of retards... no offense to the disabled, but that's all I got. Maybe some people can go without sex, but not me. If I'm gonna do the flowers and candy, I sure as Hell want an order of hardcore screwing on the side. Nothing says I love you like multiple orgasms.

"What is your problem?" she half asks, half yells into my face. Damn, girl has grown herself a pair since our last meet up. She's looking at me like *I'm* the stupid one in love with a vampire. "We go out on a limb for you and this is how you treat us? I'm doing this because, for some reason, there's something telling me that I have to house a psycho killer. Angel always says we never gave you a fair chance, but how can we when you act like little miss hard as nails all the time?"

"I just don't want in on your whole Angel love affair, okay?" I admit, shuffling my feet under me and looking away. I'm not about to admit that I've just been told off. "So if you're just doing this to piss him off, take me back now. I'm not some little pawn for the both of you to push around whenever you need a little leverage on each other. As much as you probably don't believe me, I'm not out to hurt my only friend in the world." Not you either, C. But I keep that to myself.

She just lets out a sarcastic little laugh, typical of her high school days. "That's real noble of you, Faith, using your 'only friend in the world' as an excuse to act like the same little - "

"That's not what I'm doing!" I nearly shout, interrupting her before she can call me some name I've already heard enough of in my lifetime. I've only ever been called three things -- skanky, bitchy, and psychotic. Stupid is high on the list too, but those are the top three winning personality traits of mine. What order they come in depends on how much cleavage I'm showing, how much attitude I'm laying on you, and whether or not I'm killing people that day. "I had to go through this with B and it messed with my head big time. I don't need a repeat."

"Trust me, I'm not continuing Buffy's storyline," she sighs. With a roll of her eyes, she motions for me to follow her down the hall. "Believe me, I don't do recycled bottled blonde plots. Cordelia Chase does not settle for someone else's sloppy leftovers."

"So what does Cordelia Chase settle for these days?" I ask against my better judgment and give her my own exaggerated eye roll to boot.

Cor narrows her eyes at me, giving me a look that clearly tells me that whatever's going on is none of my fucking business. Well, now I'm just more curious. The less she wants me to know, the more I want to find out.

"Since when are you into girl talk? I don't remember you ever being so chatty before unless you were telling stories of, what was it again? Oh yea, naked slaying and alligator wrestling."

"Prison taught me to appreciate a good gossip session every now and then?" I offer up. I'm definitely not telling the truth about why. I just want to bug the shit out of her. "For real now, C, what are you trying to hide? Sounds to me like you're trying to move the spotlight from you to me so I'll lay off the third degree."

"It's just..." she trails off, sounding wicked flustered if you ask me. Damn. Her and Angel really did have something goin' on, didn't they? "It's none of your business."

"Fine," I shrug. I might stop nosing around now, but that don't mean she's safe from future questioning. I'm just tired and not in the mood for banter. Bed is sounding pretty damn sweet right about now.

I follow the cheerleader as she leads way, very obviously checking out her ass but since she's got her eyes trained up in a straight ahead place, I doubt she knows I'm getting a nice show here with the way she shakes her hips as she walks in those skin tight jeans of hers. It's no secret I had the hots for Buffy. She was everything I wasn't and everything I wanted to be. We were the chosen two, you know? We had a freaky connection thing goin' on between us. Doesn't take a genius to get why I'd be all over her.

The night B died for the second time, I felt a part of me die. The part of me that would always be linked to the chick. Even when she came back, the connection wasn't the same. It was weaker and distant; I could barely feel her anymore. Where it used to give me that warm tingly feeling, it only makes me shiver now. Something about the Buff just isn't right these days. Been a while since I've seen her too. Not like she takes the time to write, even if it is just to say something typical Buffy like, "Dear F, how's prison? I hope you haven't killed anyone lately. With much hatred, Buffy."

So, I guess you could say I've moved on. That little crush of mine was gettin' old. The closest I'll ever get to screwing B is when I was literally in her body and had a little fun while in that bubble bath. Man, I can't even begin to tell you how great it was to make that little body of hers come with my will guiding her fingers in and out of herself. Bet that was how B got her kicks in while dating Angel. Maybe prom queen here went in the same direction.

"Hey Cor, what's your take on bubble baths? Love or hate?" I ask out of the blue, just to get my suspicions confirmed about what a girl's gotta do when she's got an ensouled vamp that can't get bouncy for a boytoy.

We stop in front of her apartment door. Hey, she never moved! I recognize this door. Alright, now I'm not so doubtful about the kind of place she inhabits. I don't remember much, but I remember her place bein' the kick. Girlfriend just looks at me with utter confusion at my very innocent sounding question.

"Is this some kind of trick question?"

I shake my head and put on my best `I didn't do shit` expression. I'd say innocent, but that's something I can never claim to be. "No tricks, C. Honest."

"You do realize how crazy it sounds for the word `honest` to come out of your mouth, right?" I nod and she sighs. "Okay, yes. Bubble baths are of the good. Happy now?"

I nod again, this time happily. I'm pretty damn tickled at this new information. "Very," I reply, shoving my good hand in the pocket of this lame get up while I rock back and forth on my heels. "I was just thinking that a bath could be cool. I haven't had a good soak in over two years." When she gives me a squicked out look, I realize how bad that sounds. "In the tub, I mean. Fuck, C, I did shower in prison!"

She actually starts to laugh at that. Well look at that, I'm funny. Maybe now she'll stop looking at me like I'm about to slit her throat at any second. I lean against the wall as I watch her fiddle with her keys. The door doesn't seem to be budging' though.

"Need some help?" I throw out casually, trying not to sound too smug about the whole thing.

A little frustrated sound spills out from her lips as she kicks the door with the toe of her pointy shoe. Pointy shoe? That's weird. Those shoes look like they could do some serious damage. "I haven't been back here for a while," she explains to me. "I spent my summer vacation as a higher being."

"Probably just stuck," I venture a guess. "A little slayer strength oughta get this baby budging."

Cor steps aside and with my good shoulder, I push my body into the door in an attempt to use sheer force to bust though. It works on locked doors, should work on stuck doors too. The door opens but as soon as I start to get through, it slams back shut.

"Somebody's in there," I say seriously as I turn around to face C. That's gotta be it. Doors just don't slam shut by their lonesome. "Somebody pushed it back shut!"

"Oh, it's probably just Dennis," she laughs and at my confused expression, she furthers her explanation. "My ghost. He doesn't like strangers." She turns her attention from me to the door and taps on it. "Dennis, it's just me, Cordelia! I'm sorry I haven't been home in a long time but I'm back now. Please open up."

Sure enough, the door creaks open. So Cordy has a friendly ghost living with her. Trippy. She walks through the door as if it's the most normal thing in the world. I'm a little skeptical. If this ghost decides to mess with me, I can't exactly beat the thing into submission, you know? I slowly make my way to the doorway, my guard on, when the door slams shut in my face again.

"Hey!" I protest, grabbing the handle and trying to push the door back open. "Okay, Casper, I've had enough of your tricks, now open up!"

"I don't think he likes you much, Faith," Queen C chuckles through the door.

"Well why the Hell not?"

"You did kind of elbow me in the face last time you were over." She just had to bring that up, didn't she? Bet she's been dying for a blast from the past to rub in my face all night. "Maybe you should apologize."

"To you or the ghost?" I ask, rolling my eyes. This really isn't my night is it? You'd think getting shot would be enough bad for one day, but no. If it's not bullet wounds, it's more doomed Angel relationship angst and ghosts wanting apologies. I lean forward and bang my head against the door. This sucks.

"It wouldn't hurt to apologize to us both, but if you're even sorry for what you did to me, I'd rather you say it when you really mean it." In other words, she ain't accepting my apology until I've proven I'm worthy. I get that. Don't blame her for having that kinda 'tude about me either. "So just say you're sorry to Dennis and I'm sure he'll be more than willing to let you come in."

Why can't she just have an alarm like most people? There's no way I'm apologizing to a fucking ghost! "This is stupid, C. I'm not apologizing to a ghost."

"Okay," she replies in a sing-song voice. This is the happiest she's been all night. "You can just camp out in the hallway then. I'll bring you out a blanket."

This is bullshit, man! I'm a slayer, I shouldn't have to say I'm sorry to Casper the unfriendly ghost. I should just break the damn door down and see how Casper keeps me out then. Can't slam a door in my face if there's no more door left to slam. Inside I can hear Cordy laughing her stylish little ass off. Oh yea, I'm sure this is like Comedy Central to her. Big bad Faith being shut out by some invisible being that holds a wicked grudge.

"Whatever," I mumble under my breath. "I'm sorry." I wait for the door to open. Still nothing. I raise my voice up a notch. "You hear that, Casper? I said I'm sorry."

"With a little more meaning, Faith," C calls out, now near hysterics at hearing my not so happy apology. "And maybe you should tell him what it's for."

"I'm sorry for elbowing the queen in the face," I say, feeling all kinds of stupid for this. I'm sure I'm blushing up a storm too. This has gotta be the dumbest thing I've ever had to do.

"And..." she shouts out.

"And I'm sorry for what I did to Wes." I cringe at those words. I don't want to think about what I did to him.

A little elbow in the face? Yea, I can deal. I always wanted to do that, psycho or no. Girl was always subtly snubbing me whenever we were in the same room together. I heard the whispered `slut` and `white trash whore` whenever she saw me. She hurt me, I hurt her. So what if I gave her a wicked black eye? Her whispered insults to Xander or her bimbo friends just added up with all the other shit that was goin' down in the 'dale.

I know I talked big, acted like I was on some high horse and that nothing bothered me. Everybody just thought I was one big ball of self confidence. Truth is, that was just a show. I know I look good and I know I can fight and I can slay and that I can play a mean game of pool. But beyond that? I didn't think much of me. I wasn't smart like Red or chock full of goodness like B. I was just a loser that lived in a fleabag motel and occasionally did a good thing by slaying a vamp when golden girl Buffy had her hands full. So maybe I had a little grudge against her for seeing beyond my bravado and cracking me just that much more every time she made some wise crack about my bein' a poor white trash whore.

Finally, the door cracks open. I push it open angrily and slam it shut once I'm in. Decor's pretty much the same and C is sitting pretty on her couch. All those old memories did a number on me, and by the time I'm in, I just want to either cry or hit something. Both of those options being out of the question with her in front of me.

"I'm gonna take that bath now," I mumble out as I quickly walk past her, my head bowed so that my hair's more or less covering my face up from her view.

"Okay, miss talkative, it's the first door to your right."

"Thanks," I reply in an even more muffled manner than before.

I practically run into the bathroom, slamming that door behind me. It's been so long since I felt like this. Prison helped me deal with things on a nonpersonal level. It's easier to deal when you don't have to see the people that made you feel like less than a person right in front of your face. Everybody in Sunnydale had a hand in making me feel like I couldn't be one of the good guys. Now here I was with one of them and if I'm not cracking jokes, I end up having to face things I thought I'd buried long ago.

The tub don't take long to fill up and I don't take long to strip down to the bare essentials. The pain meds are wearing off so there's a dull ache in my shoulder but it's nothing compared to the emotional pain I'm trying to get a grip on. As soon as I'm sinking into the water with Cor's bubble bath surrounding my body, I finally let it all go. Man, am I ever glad I've gotten real good at the silent crying in my lifetime. The waterworks might be turned on, but you won't hear the sobs escape from my throat.

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...it's another hijinx...for fashion__victim [29 Apr 2004|06:06pm]

[ mood | rushed ]

Glancing once in Wesely's direction then turning my attention back to Faith I heaved a big sigh. This wasn't exactly what I had in mind but then again I never got a say in whatever the PTB wanted to happen. Oh no, I'm just Vision Girl helping Angel to save the world with my visions. Sometimes I felt like a pawn in their big game.

I sighed as I watched the way Wes was, so hard and cold lately. I guess that happens when you get your throat cut and you loose all of your friends. But he shouldn't have snatched Connor the way he did. He set the current events into motion. But he brought Angel back to. Maybe he was working for redemption. Or something. Hell I don't know anymore. Don't even know my own self. Or didn't there for a while.

Oh hey that was all nice and not...whatever.

'Shotgun.' I called out without even giving a second thought or so much as a glance in Faith's direction.

Crawling into the passenger side of the front seat next to Angel. I knew we were going to have to have a talk. The talk. Or well, the um...other talk. And I guess now was as good as any. I watched as Faith crawled into the backseat her tough pride still in tact not letting on that she was hurt. I thought for a thin second about helping her, ya know giving her the whole hand thing but I figured she'd just bite it off so I left well enough alone. I turned my face back to Angel and shut the door as he started the engine and we roared off.

Fred and Gunn had already gone ahead with Wesley pretty much after we had all met up outside of the prison and I'm guessing so that Wesley wouldn't have to spend as much time around Faith than he had to. She did torture him to near death after all not to mention giving me a good elbow to the eye. God I hated that girl sometimes...a lot. But obviously I don't get a say in who I get to and don't get to help. Apparently some new Big Bad was moving in and gunning for Faith and I'm the one that's supposed to help her.

I tossed a glance over my shoulder as I watched Faith settle in a little more and start changing into the clothes that Wes and I had picked out for her. Pretty much not her taste but I really didn't give too much of a damn right now, my priority was getting through this next conversation with Angel without hurting him any further than I seemed to have already done. This was going to be a big tough.

We rode in silence for the next few minutes before I moved my hand and rested it on top of his. I gave him this tentative smile and tipped my head in his direction, a small piece of my hair falling across my face. I wore that look that said, oh-hey-I'm-the-bearer-of-more-bad-pain and I felt sorry for it. Too sorry I think.

And in a voice soft and low I spoke quietly, 'Angel I...' and my voice caught.

I could feel tears soaking the corners of my eyes but I refused to let them fall. I was tough girl Cordelia and I wasn't about to cry with Faith there in the backseat to riddle me with some more of her sarcastic remarks that really didn't mean a damn to me right now. This was already hard enough as it was. How do you tell the man that you love, the man that you are in love with, were in love with that you're not going back to the hotel with him, that you couldn't be with him because the beast he once was is standing in the way of that. This hurt like hell and if I was going to make it through I was going to have to summon up all of the strength I still had left inside of me because I'm Cordelia Chase and I can do whatever the hell I set my mind to.

'Cordy...' I could hear the pain in his voice as he spoke in a low controlled voice, 'don't...not now.'

I had already said enough to him. My thoughts went back to the night I got my memory back and I told him that we were in love but I couldn't be with him because it was all different now and everything was bleeding together and rushing in so fast and I just needed some time. I didn't know how much or where but I needed some time and that was all it was going to take. Or at least I hoped.

Closing my eyes I sat in complete silence for a minute before I turned my face back to him.

'It wasn't supposed to be this way, ya know.' I said.

And Faith grunted from the backseat and said, 'Yeah, tell me about it.'

'I was supposed to be a normal girl who came to L.A. became an actress and live this rich and fancy nice life, but no what do I do? Naturally I hook up with the first guy to ever come to L.A. to get older and almost get myself killed and in swoops the big hero boy saving my life and I come to work for him and his loser friend who see's things in his mind and gets these nasty headaches all the time and together we help the helpless. Then he ups and decides to do the noble thing and get himself killed so that the one person I trust my life with could keep on fighting and on top of all of that passes his visions onto me. Yeah, thanks Doyle. I really wanted your headaches long after you're gone.'

I paused for a minute only to be interrupted by Faith.

'Oh don't tell me you've gone all Buffy on us all of a sudden. All whiney and shit.'

'Shut-up, Faith.' Angel said simply. 'She's doing what she has to do to deal. Give her that.'

'Hey look, Soul Boy's a softy for the Drama Queen. Looks like she wears Buffy good enough.'

I was already fed up with Faith's ridiculous jabs in my direction as I turned in her direction my voice ice cold, 'Listen Faith, a lots changed since you went into that prison and just as easily as we busted you out we can just take you back. Angel won't do that because he's good, but I will. And don't think for a minute I don't mean what I'm saying. Buffy might be a Slayer and all with super powers that us regular people don't get to have but when it comes to being a bitch and taking shit off no one I got her ass nailed to the wall every damn time. You got me?'

Faith still didn't seem deterred.

'Oh get a load of Queen C over here hard looks and tough exterior.'

The smirk on her face only served to piss me off further. Where did she get off with the attitude when we were the one's busting her out of that awful place to save her life from the next Big Bad. She obviously didn't know who she was dealing with and it was about time someone told her. I was still bitter to a point over the elbow to the eye in my own damn apartment and not to mention the torturing to near death of one of my best friends. Girl needed to be put in check before she pissed me more than she'd already managed to do.

'She means it Faith. I'd watch it if I were you. She's got demon in her.'

Angel's voice sounded off as a warning call. He was backing me up. Now it was only up to Faith to listen to him or not. I was so not up for a bitch fest tonight, not with everything that I needed to do.

'Princess over here all demonized? That's a new one on me.' she snorted.

Angel glanced back at her giving her a hard look of warning. And from the frontseat I watched her hold her hands up and say.

'Hey alright man. No problem here. Five by five. It's all good.'

And I rolled my eyes before turning back to face Angel.

'Are you okay?' I asked him.

'I'm fine Cordy.'

He sounded as if he was annoyed with me. I could deal with him being annoyed with me. Or maybe it was Faith he was annoyed with. One glance at his face and the way he was acting everytime I tried to talk to him about it, told me that it was definitely me he was annoyed with. But then again maybe he was just tired. We'd all been through a lot. Though the pain in his eyes everytime he looked my direction gave him away every time. And I wish there was something I could do for him. It hurt me more than it did him. But I couldn't help it.

'Yeah, so that's why you're all monosyllabic all of a sudden, when before you was ready to tell me anything.'

I deadpanned.

'Look,' his voice was gruff, 'it's just been a long night and I want to get back to the hotel. I think once we all have a night's sleep we can figure this out--whatever this Big Evil that's paying a visit to Faith is, in the morning. Wes will check his books, Fred will help with the research, I'll have Lorne check in with this Psychics and Gunn will do the leg work or whatever sweeps we need. Alright?'

He wouldn't even look at me just kept his eyes on the road. That was the hardest part. He was shutting me out. That's what he does when things happen and he gets hurt. He shuts himself off and goes all broody boy with the whole that's-why-I-walk-alone routine so I don't get hurt or none of my friends get killed or whatever. And I was getting pretty damn tired of it too. It wasn't fair for either one of us. Who's body got hijacked on their birthday and told the visions she was having were eventually going to kill her? I didn't get dosed with demon dna, ascend and become a higher being for nothing to come back so that he could turn all of his friends away because he didn't like what was happening.

'My apartment, not the hotel okay.'

That was all I could manage through my frustration.


He asked incredulous turning his vision back in my direction. I glanced over my shoulder into the backseat peering at Faith who wasn't even paying attention to us anymore. She was watching the cars passing us by on the highway probably plotting how to get away from us or God only knows what goes on in that psycho brain of hers. I mean lets face it she is the reigning psychopath who killed a man and didn't give a damn about it after the fact. Not to mention trying to kill my boss, or um, Angel at one time.

'My apartment. Dennis is probably worried about me. And I'm going to need a little bit of space, I thought we talked about this already.'

This wasn't the way I wanted this conversation to go. I could feel him bracing himself next to me and I reached back out with my hand to rest it over the top of his again, he just pulled it away from me. That hurt even more. And from the back seat I could hear a muffled, 'Ouch.' from Faith but I ignored it.

'Fine,' his voice sounded cold and distant, not like it normally does. 'If that's the way you want it, then I'll do it.'

'Angel I...' I started to say and he wouldn't let me finish.

'Cordy don't.'

And he turned his eyes back towards the road and drove the rest of the way in silence. When we pulled up to my apartment which I hadn't been in for a while, I noticed the curtains were moving slightly. I figured it was probably Dennis checking to see if it was me by some miracle or not. I climbed out of the car once Angel had shut off the ignition and motioned for Faith to do the same.

'We're here.' I told her simply and watched as she crawled out of the backseat and came to stand beside me.

Turning to her I nodded in her direction, 'Can you just, um give us a minute or something?'

I hoped she wouldn't fight me on it. I needed this minute to try and right what I had done that had hurt Angel so much. So okay maybe it was a little for my own benefit too but damn it he wasn't the only one hurting here. And we had been through too much together to just let it end like this. I was still massively confused.

I watched her as she looked from me to Angel and shook her head.

'Lost your heart again, huh Soul Boy." she said and smiled that wicked smile she was good at.

'You wouldn't believe me if I told you the truth.' Angel stated as a half-smile appeared on his face.

His eyes were still dark as her voice pierced the night sky, 'Yeah whatever. See ya in a minute, C.' she called over her shoulder as she walked up the path that led towards the door and waited for me like I had asked her to do.

I turned back to Angel. My eyes were filling with unshed tears but I refused to let them fall.

'Cordy, you don't have to do this ya know.' He spoked softly.

His hand reached out to take one of mine in his and he squeezed softly. All I could do was smile up at him through glassy eyes filled with tears I was holding back.

'Yes, I do Angel. I'm sorry but it's the way that it has to be.'

'No it's not. You and I both know that. We're living proof of that.' He counter argued.

'Yes, it is Angel. And I'm sorry that it hurts and that I have to be the one to hurt you. But things are different, I have changed and you have too. I love you, I will always love you. And I'll still think that you have the biggest and best heart of anyone I've ever known but I just can't be with you--at least not right now. I'm sorry. But it has to be this way. And it sucks that we didn't get to pick and choose, or that we lost our one moment but it happened and we both have to learn to live with it.'

I could feel warm liquid spilling over my cheeks. Damn it. I was crying again in front of Angel standing out in the open so vulernable something I never am. I am the strong woman who never cries in front of anyone. And even if I did I would never admit it but this hurt more than anything ever could. Angel meant more to me than Xander ever did. We had been through too much together for it to all be turning out this way. This wasn't how I saw the two of us with one another.

'Fine if that's the way you feel I'll see you around.'

Before I could say anything else he was already in his car and pulling away from the curb. I stood there for a few long minutes willing myself not to cry harder than I already was. I lifted my hands to wipe the tears away before I steadied myself and walked up the path to join Faith on my doorstep. It had been a long time since I had been home and I'm sure that Phantom Dennis would be happy to see me. To tell anyone the truth I actually welcomed the one thing that couldn't talk back to me, but took care of me for so long. He probably knew more about me than anyone ever did, anyone that wasn't Angel.

With that said I dug in my purse for the keys to my apartment and kept my back to Faith.

'Not a word.' I warned her as I twisted the knob on the door and reached inside flipping on the lights.

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The big throwdown [29 Apr 2004|12:23pm]

[ mood | confused ]

Poker game was a bust. Turns out? My skills ain't nothing but child's play in a yard full of chicks that got busted for various forms of illegal gambling. Trina finally gave me the low down on what a sweet girl like her is doing in a place like this. She got a bad hand in a heated poker game, flipped out, and tried to get her greens back by goin' postal on the winner. Her plan backfired and her game of cheap threats turned to murder one.

Judge wasn't sympathetic to her plea; they figured the world was better off with one less crazy gambling fool that accidentally got a little trigger happy. Girl should've lied and made up a self defense story. Not like there were witnesses to say otherwise. Guess she'd rather own up than live a lie. I can get that. Story sound familiar? Yea. Kind of reminds me of another young girl that got caught up in a bad time and made with the accidental killing, too. Girlfriend and I are one and the same.

Anyway, I'm basking in my newfound friendship and mourning the loss of my last pack of smokes when I notice Ty's got his eyes back on me. They flash something strange and suddenly I'm cramping up wicked bad again. Something's gotta give here, I'm starting to feel like vamps are near... but that's impossible, right? First of all... the daylight? Not exactly a party for those sportin' a cold shoulder and a pair of fangs. Secondly? Prison's supposed to keep out the supernatural. It's got enough evil without the things goin' bump in the night to crowd up the cells and give the taxpayers more to bitch about.

"Faith, you okay?" A worried voice queries at about the tenth time I've spaced out today. Man, if I don't get a grip on myself soon, I'm gonna develop a rep as a space cadet.

I tear my gaze away from the creep's and flash Trina an apologetic grin. "Okay? You kicked my ass, girlfriend. The pride's smartin' some but other than that I'm five by five."


I laugh, amused that no matter where I go, nobody gets my trademark phrase. "In other words, I'll live." I smirk some in her general direction, making sure she's getting a load off of my patented smart ass look. "You're safe from the wrath of Faith... so long as you teach me those hot moves of yours. I'm short on smokes and a few cheats could cover me from now until my parole comes up. So what do you say? Help out your hero?"

The word `hero` comes out laced with the bittersweet. I do my share of good deeds, but I'm far from balancing the scales yet. I'm still paying, still guilting, and still regretting everything I did from the time I set foot in that alley to torturing my wannabe Watcher Wussley. Man, I wonder what the guy is up to these days. I hear he went through some rough times with stealing Angel's kid and all.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around Soul Boy being a daddy. Guy just doesn't strike me as the daddy type, you know? It's like me saying I like pink and really, really want that white picket fence and two point four kids. How do they even figure point four kids anyway? I get that it's just a statistic, but dude, at least make it believable! Ends up sounding like you get two normal kids and one missing an arm, a leg, and maybe a finger or two. Not exactly the prettiest picture to paint when making up the perfect family. Nobody wants a gimp.

"Only if you swear not to use it against me," she replies with a little smile of her own that gives me a nice feeling inside my jittery stomach. "But it's fair game against the rest."

"Wouldn't dream of it," I grin, a real one that manages to reach my eyes. That's been happening a lot more lately. Funny how a place meant for misery is one of the only places that's ever brought me any sort of happiness. "I think it's safe to say the student won't be outdoing the master anytime soon."

The whistles blow then, signaling for us bitches to get a move on. I start to march along with the rest of my compadres when I get those cramps again. At this point I'm beginning to wonder if I got a daywalker in the crowd or if I'm just suffering from a bad case of prison slop disagreeing my with my system. I make a sweep of the yard with my eyes, just checking to see if there's anything out of the ordinary.

"What are you looking for?" Trina speaks up when she notices my search and destroy routine in its first stages. I'm still the slayer, even behind bars. If there's a vampire here, I'm gonna take it down.

"I got a bad feeling," I admit as I rub at my stomach. "Something's not right here. Something's going on and I'm -- " I halt abruptly when I feel something burn through my left shoulder. The sheer force of it pushes me forward and I stumble into the chick in front of me. It's a new kinda pain for me. "FUCK!"

I look dumbly at the ground when something small, shiny, and bloody hits it a split second after the burning sensation. It's a fucking bullet! I got shot! The anger in me flares up and I barely feel the pain when I turn around with fire in my eyes for the bastard who decided to shoot me up out of nowher. The entire yard's focused on me now. Trina's face is paler than a freakin' ghost's at this point. Everybody else is looking at me with either awe that I'm still standing after getting shot or satisfaction that somebody had the guts to take me down a notch.

"Slayer," I hear a voice growl from above. When I look up, I see Ty up in one of the towers they got set up with sharp shooters to take down any possible escapees quick and easy. Sure enough, he's sporting a still smoking pistol and grinning at me with a very nonhuman face. Aww, fuck me! I knew something was off about the guy! Looks like I'm paying now for the ignore him and maybe he'll go away 'tude I've been rockin' lately. "Are you ready to play?"

"With you?" I snort, taking his jab as a sexual thing just to piss the pants off him. "Maybe in your dreams, but not here. Gotta tell you, the higher ups ain't gonna be pleased with this little stunt you just pulled."

Then again, I doubt the higher ups are down with the equal opportunity employment when it comes to demons in the guise of a human. I can hear shrieking by some of the girls that are seeing what I'm seeing. Next thing I know the cramps kick in double time when a whole group of demons charge the yard.

I continue on in my rant, touching on the lame fact that a demon's using bullets against a slayer. "And bullets? Never met a shot gun wielding demon before. What's wrong? You ain't got the goods to take on a slayer at her full strength so you gotta cheat? Or maybe you're just lacking demonic skills and gotta stoop to human levels."

"There won't be anybody left at this prison by the time I'm done here!" he shouts back at me viciously. He points at me and then nods to his groupies. "Get her and bring her to me. I want the satisfaction of killing the slayer."

I can't help it, I gotta wonder... why me? I mean, B's the slayer still actually slaying. I'm nothing but a defender of prisoner rights against the chicks that think it's cool to beat on those weaker than them. If they want glory, why not take her on? They must really be desperate for some recognition if they're stoopin' to rogue slayer levels. Hell, at one time, these guys would be working for me. Just one more cosmic fuck over by the Powers that Screw. I really shouldn't even be shocked at this point. It's routine to make my life as hard as possible. I knew I was gettin' too happy. Smile and you get hurt; that's how it's always been for me.

The demons come at me full force, ready for a head on collision with the slayer that's bleeding buckets on the pavement. I'm feeling slightly lightheaded but not nearly enough to make me go down without a fight. They want a fight? I'll give it. I'll give these guys the ride of their lives. I'm riding high on adrenaline and I'm not going down 'till the fat lady sings.

The slay comes back to me ina rush of primeval power. The first demon comes at me and I throw a roundhouse in his direction. My foot connects with his chin and he goes down with a loud `thwack`. God, I love the sound of demon smackin' on concrete. It's like music to the slayer's ear, man. I grab him by what I think is his collar and start body slamming him into the pavement. I got no other means of a weapon here. No stake, no daggers, no crossbows. Just me. Just Faith. My bare hands are all I got against these guys. So what do I do? I snap his nap like a fucking twig. When you can't stab, you break necks.

"Alright," I grin maliciously at the demons coming my way. There's too many for me to handle so I decide it's high time to try my hand at a little game I like to call diversionary tactics. "So here's the thing, I'm a little rusty and I got a gaping hole in my shoulder, the way I see it, I'm easy pickings. What's with this football line of defense you got going on? I'm thinking one good fighter is all you guys need to take me down. So why don't you cut the crap and send your best man?"

The demons stop for a tick, mulling over my proposition. I got good at this game when facing rowdy bitches. I always tell 'em I'll fight their best and it always ends up in some power struggle over who's the biggest butch among them. I'm hoping demons got the same ego problems as people do.

"I'll take you on," A big green guy with slime dripping off him says. "I'm the best."

"No, I'll take you on," another demon speaks up and steps forward to push Swamp Thing aside. I think this one's a polgara demon but I never was one for reading the dusty books. I just remember killing something similar to it once in my Boston days. "I'm the best."

Another demon, this one with horns and scales suddenly charges into Swamp thing and whacks him a good one over the head. "I'm the one that will kill the slayer!"

To cut a long story short, all twenty of these guys started stepping forward with declarations of their greatness. Give me a break, already. Anyone with half a brain would get what I was trying to do. Next thing you know there's a break out of demon warfare -- on each other -- going down in the prison yard. The guards and the girls all look on with a mix of fear and awe at what's happening in front of them.

Why do I suddenly get the feeling that those soldier boys B's ex boy toy used to be a part of are gonna come swooping in with a mindwipe for the entire prison sometime real soon? See, the gov don't want us civilians knowing that the world ain't the pretty place they'd like us to think it is. You see an alien? You're just another whackjob fit for the nuthouse. You see a demon? It was just somebody trippin' on PC. No biggie, right? The supernatural is for the superstitious. There's no such thing.

Nice try, boys, but I know differently.

"ENOUGH!!" Tyrone in his full demon gear shouts out once half the demons are dead on the ground and the rest are looking a little worse for wear. "You're letting this little hussy ruin our plan? What kind of demons are you? Attack her! NOW!"

I just roll my eyes at Ty. "Hussy? Is that the best you can do, lover? I've heard a lot worse in my day. You're gettin' soft in your demon skin, Ty."

Our banter is cut short when the demons go into attack mode on me again. I'm suddenly surrounded by them and put into battle mode whether or not I'm ready to fight in my weakened state. My white tank's stained with blood by now and I can feel my skin clamming up. Just looking down at my hands makes me realize how much of my color is gone. Fuck, I'm so screwed. I'm gonna bleed to death before a demon gets the chance to put out the lights for me.

My legs feel like lead but I keep on trucking. I elbow one from behind as I kick out my leg to meet the midsection of the one coming at me from the front. My teeth are gritted as I bite back the pain from the bullet wound. The adrenaline rush I had before is down to some dangerously low levels and I don't know how much of this shit I can take. Everything's gotten blurry and I'm fighting on pure instinct. Taking blows when they hit and lashing out before I'm recovered. Something hits my head at one point and I go down, earning myself some sound kicks to my ribs. I grab the foot in question and twist it, smiling when I hear bones crack and another thud when the demon goes down in a fury of pain. I'm back on my feet and punching anything I can get to with what's left of my strength.

I only vaguely hear my girl Trina when she starts shouting at the other girls to come to my defense. I'd object and say this is my battle, but I doubt they'd listen at this point. There's only about four demons left, most are either in some deep pain or dead. Then there's another voice, one I don't recognize as prison scum.

"Everybody get down!" Guy sounds like a street kid I'd probably hang with in Boston. Don't sound like he's against me, so I do as the man says. I'm down on the ground in no time flat. "Open fire!"

I look up just in time to see a rain of arrows from crossbows take down the demons that are still standing after our little brawl. I don't know what's goin' on, but whatever it is, I'm digging it. Even Tyrone ends up with an arrow straight through his heart. With him down, I feel safe enough to let my head drop into the grass. Ever have one of those days where you just feel like you've been hit by a truck... repeatedly? Yea, that about sums up the kind of pain I'm in right now. Besides the shoulder, I took a lot of bad hits.

Somebody rolls me over onto my back. Is that Angel? What the Hell is he doing here? It's daytime and I'm... in a shadow cast by the prison building. Okay, making a little more sense here but not enough to make me get what he's doing out here instead of in that swanky hotel of his.

"Hey, you came for the party," I mumble out, half delirious from all the blood loss. "You missed all the fun, Big Guy. Major rumble here today."

"We heard you were in trouble," Angel says with a softened tone to his voice. "We're getting you out of here."

With the big hero speech said, he picks me up and starts rushing me back into the building. Gotta say, I'm not big on the damsel routine; but it feels beyond good to have somebody caring about me again, so all I can do is hold on and grin stupidly as Soul Boy rushes me over to the prison doc.

He speaks to me in a hushed tone as we go, explaining the plan to me. "You're not safe here, Faith. Cordelia saw that much in her vision. We're taking you out of here. Fred's taking care of the security with hacking, Wes is doing some simple magic, and Gunn's taking care of the demons and the guards. Cordelia will be coming to check on you in an hour. By then we'll be ready and all you have to do is follow Cordelia's instructions."

"Whoa there, Soul Boy," I back him up. Is it just me or does this plan sound whack? "You mean you guys are breaking me out? I can handle myself here, Angel. I just got a little banged up but the demons are dead and I'll be healed up in no time and ready to go back to my cell."

Angel sighs some and gives me a meaningful look. We're about 10 feet away from the doc on call that's waiting by the open doors. Somebody must have given him the heads up. "What about the next time this happens? We won't always be here, Faith. One of these times they're going to get lucky."

I'm too tired to argue with the big guy. On some levels, it sounds like a dream come true. Freedom. But at what cost? Am I ready to be out in the real world again? According to Cali state law, I won't be ready 'till I'm 40. I'm seeing things a little more righteous these days, but I'm far from being anything like good girl Buffy. Sometimes my moral compass pulls a 180 and tells me wrong is right and I end up in some sticky situations. Guess if I screw up again, I can always go back to my cell.

"Fine," I agree to the plan tiredly. "Play the hero. Save the poor pent up slayer from the big bad demons. Right now I just want an Advil and a nap."

Angel laughs at my demands before putting me on the awaiting gurney. "You'll get those soon, I promise."

"And I'll give you Hell if you break that, Angel," I call out to his retreating form. I look up at the doc and flash him a crooked grin. "Stitch me up, Dr. Carter."

If only the docs in this place looked anything like the hunkworthy dudes of ER. I'd be gettin' in a lot more fights if they did. I'm still a sucker for eye candy.

About 40 minutes later, I'm stitched up and doped up on something strong. I'm wearing a very fashionable hospital gown and an even more in style sling on my left arm to keep me from moving the shoulder with the bullet wound much. Doc says I'm lucky it didn't pass through anything major, like muscle or bone. The rest of my wounds are nothing short of ordinary and with slayer healing kicking in, the cuts are already closing up on their own and the bruises are fading fast. Doc thinks I'm something extraordinary. I just tell him I drank a lot of milk as a kid.

He leaves me alone to check up on some other patients. I'm obviously not high priority with my good progress and all. Good. If I'm gonna be breaking out of this joint, I don't want to have to knock out the doc that just worked so hard on putting me back together again. I'm silently grinning to myself and poking at my shoulder wound that I can't really feel when Queen C herself walks in, right on time. Gotta say, I never expected to see her in a prison.

Girl's looking the same more or less. A little older, a little softer, but still with a look of `I'm too good for you` sketched on her face. Man, it must be killing her to have to lead me outa here while Angel joins up with Gunn in being the manpower of this break out plan.

"Nice hair," I comment, unable to stop myself from smirking at the shoulder length tresses. She used to have this Rapunzel look going for her.

"Nice outfit," she snaps back when she takes in the sight of me. "Nice accessories too. It really compliments the polyester. I actually think it could be a step up from that biker babe magazine look of yours."

I just snort. I could say a lot about her choices in the past, but part of being the good girl is keeping your trap shut. Besides, she was doing me a favor here. Best to just bite my lip and get on with this thing, you know?

"So what's the plan?" I ask, getting down to business. "Are we just gonna walk out of here or what?"

She nods her head. "Angel and Gunn have everybody outside still. Fred's unlocked the front gates and Wes put some kind of masking spell on the both of us to keep us from being noticed while I march you out of the front gates."

"Cool," I breathe out with appreciation. I can't believe they're doing all this for me. I got a lot of questions, like how did they know and why are they doing this. I get it with Angel. I get why he'd be all gung-ho about breaking me out. But what about the rest? Sure, Gunn and Fred don't know much about me, so they got no reason to object... but what about Cordy and Wes. Why would they wanna help me out? They fuckin' hate me.

"And Faith?"

"Yea, C?"

"There's also some clothes waiting for you in the car," she says with a slightly malicious tone to her voice. "Wes and I had a lot of fun picking you out a little something. Think of it as payback for the black eye you gave me."

I'm gonna be in a pink dress aren't I? I don't know if that's better or worse than hospital gowns and jumpsuits. I hold back the groan that wants to come out. Play nice, Faith. Play nice. "Great," I drawl out sarcastically. "Can't wait to try it on."

Cor checks her watch, probably some wicked expensive brand name type, and nods for me to come with her. I guess even with the masking spell, we gotta be stealthy. Not a problem for me. It's not like I got a whole lot to say to the chick. I could say I'm sorry about her face, but I doubt she's much in the mood for forgiveness.

We manage to creep past rows and rows of cells without so much of a problem. Girlfriend was right, the front gates were opened and the guards posted there didn't even blink when we strolled past. Gotta admit, I was holding my breath the entire time. It's not that I don't trust Wes to do the spell thing; I just think magic's bogus. It's not something you can control, you know? Spells backfire. The Mayor was big on the spells. Tried to get me in on it but I just told him I'm a slayer, I don't need to be a witch too. Besides, chanting in Latin and burning incense just isn't my idea of a good time. Give me a vampire and I'm happy.

By now it's dark outside. I can see Angel sitting up front in a convertible. Damn, Angel's got himself a sweet pair of wheels! I can't help but grin at the sight. There's a truck next to it. It's your typical beat up macho machine. A good looking black dude sits behind the wheel with a nerdy looking white chick beside him. Guess that's Gunn and Fred. Wes is beside Angel in the passenger seat and if I weren't so grateful for them doing this for me, I'd so comment on the homoerotic vibes I'm getting from two clean cut guys like themselves cruising around together in a convertible. Wes is a little scruffier than I remember. Now that he's lost the tweed, he actually looks something decent.

"What's so funny?" Cor inquires at the sound of my quiet snickering.

"Nothing," I reply but when she gives me a pissy look, I figure it's best just to tell her. "Angel and Wes... they're not, you know..."

I trail off, wiggling my eyebrow at her suggestively.

"Oh god!" she shrieks in disgust. "Ugh, no, Faith, they're not... so very not doing anything near that. I would know if Angel were that way and I can definitely say he is not. What's with you anyway? Angel said you were supposed to be good now."

"I am," I shoot back angrily. "But I can't joke around? Geez, C, get a sense of humor already. I was just trying to break the ice. What are you getting so defensive about anyway? Almost sounds like you got a little thing for our friendly neighborhood vamp. Taking pointers from B now, are ya?"

And man, if looks could kill...

"I knew this was a bad idea," she says through gritted teeth. "First of all, my personal life is none of your business. And second, you're on thin ice as it is Faith. Anymore cracks like that and I'll forget that the powers that be sent me that little vision of you being in trouble and you can march right back into that prison."

I cross my arms across my chest,looking like a scolded child and shrug as if I couldn't care less. "Whatever."

She opens her mouth like she wants to say something but lets it slap back shut. I know I was wicked harsh with the crush thing. Even more when I mentioned Buffy. Cordy doesn't like B anymore than I do. They were rivals in high school, even a drop out like me could spot that much from about a mile away.

Once we reach the cars, Angel flashes me a toothy smile. Scary. I smile back weakly, finding it hard to be cheery after my little verbal throwdown with the prom queen. Wes doesn't even look at me. Not that I blame him, I did torture the guy.

"Everything go okay?" the big guy asks.

"Perfectly," I reply with more fake cheer than an entire pepsquad has when their team's losing.

"Okay then," he smiles and motions for the two of us chicks to hop in. "Let's roll."

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...who am I?... for fashion__victim [27 Apr 2004|11:07pm]

[ mood | confused ]

Book I
--Into the Past--

It all hinged on one question and I found myself asking it.

'Who am I?'

I was so confused and it felt like nothing was right or was coming to me. I mean there I was standing in all white and it felt like I was looking at total strangers. All of them. And the way they looked back at me seemed to confuse me even more. I mean it was like they knew me but I didn't know me and it didn't register with them. Who was I?

'Cordelia Chase.'

That's what they called me. So great I had a name, that part I knew. It wasn't all lost completely yet. But it sure was getting even more creepy and then there was some boney looking girl said something about my suffering from a strange amnesia or whatever. Nothing was clear pretty much. And the way they were acting was even more bizzaro. What with the all running around and whispering to each other in voices I knew I wasn't supposed to be hearing and confusing me more than I already was confused. It just felt like none of them were being straight with me and I can't stand not being able to trust people.

They kept telling me that I was okay and that everything was going to be all right and that they were my friends and I had nothing to worry about. But then the more I started looking around the place I was in the more creeped out I started to feel. They were all hush hush and there were huge massive weapons all over the place and weird looking things that were happening.

It felt like a ghost town. Weird things were always happening. And there was talking of killing things or whatever. I don't know, I was just really confused a lot and scared. You get that way when you can't remember anything and I was defensive. But everyone tried to help me the best way they could even if it wasn't the best way. You should always keep the lines of honesty open, ya know. That's pretty important if we're supposed to be friends. And the way they were acting obviously we were all really close friends--almost like family.

Then the talk with Angel happened. Well one of the talks. You know the whole 'were we in love' talk. It was a pretty tense moment. There was me trying to figure out answers to questions that I couldn't remember the answers to and him telling me that he didn't know the answers to the questions that I was asking because they were complicated. Something about we were supposed to be that night but I didn't come and something else happened to him. So we never really knew what was going to happen.

By the way he was looking at me I sort of get that he might have loved me. I know that we were friends or maybe more than just friends in his mind and life and other complications, demons or whatever got in the way of it and we might have missed out on our one chance. He looked sad when he talked about my being gone and him having to be there without me. I felt bad because I couldn't remember a thing. And it only made it even more confusing for me.

The truth is all I wanted was the truth. And it felt like I was being given the run around. Then he said something about me being his dearest friend and how he wanted me back so much and his eyes gave me that look. Ya know that look that said he was aiming for something more but he wasn't going to push it. And promised me that he'd get me back and all.

That's right put poor little lost Cordy back together again so they can have whatever they had before back. And maybe that wasn't such a bad idea after all, I mean hey at least I would get to be myself all over again who that was.

The look on his face when he realized we were in love--that hurt a lot. But what hurt more was that I couldn't do anything about it because I needed time. And all I could say was I'm sorry and leave. I needed space and time to figure things out because it all came flooding back and I knew who I was, who they were, who he was and everything that had happened in the last year--all of it including my higher beingdom.

Book II
--Into the Present--

Then the second conversation took place. Ya know the one where we find out all the answers to the questions we were trying to answer earlier. Yep. Those answers.

I loved him. I knew that I did. Somewhere deep down I had always loved him--and maybe he loved me too. Maybe we were in love. But things changed. Time changed. And when I was a higher being I looked down and saw everything that Angelus had done, could feel it and it was wrong and horrible. And I just couldn't do this. Maybe in time--but now, there wasn't any option.

I loved him, there's a part of me that would always love him but I just couldn't right now. I needed to figure things out on my own. And here's the part where he looks hurt and there's him making my feel so much better when the world felt like it was spiraling out of control and how could I be doing this to him but I just couldn't give him me yet if I wasn't ready. Maybe I was ready then, scared as hell--but that was then and this was now. And I had to get out of there.

And then I had a vision.

Oh yay welcome back to that again. Man the PTB never had good timing. The interrupted the most important conversation of my life so I could become a higher being and then sent me back without my memory for a while and caused massive confusion and now they were interrupting the second most important conversation with a man I loved but could not let myself be with right now. It's official they need to just get a life and stop interrupting mine or something like that.

I lifted my hand to my head and placed my fingertips to my temples. It felt like a lawn sprinkler going off inside my head, not exactly excrutiating pain but a case of mildness would do. And I could see this creepy stalkerish looking guy in blue staring across what looked like some kind of courtyard with barbedwire fencing up all around. There was a girl...she had dark hair and looked tough. She was staring back at him, looked like she was defiant. I wasn't really exactly clear on what the Powers were wanting me to see but I knew if it was coming through the transmitters something was going down. Some big bad was about to happen.

There was a courtyard full of people and all of them seemed to just fall away except for a few and then there was a riot scene and the same stalkerish cop coming across the courtyard straight in the path of the dark haired tough looking girl. If you asked me she looked more bohemian to me than girly. She kept her stance looking on in defiance never wavering. There was another girl there to, standing beside but she didn't seem to be relevant to my vision. It was just focusing in on the creepy looking rent-a-cop guy and the street-wise tough brunette standing in front of him.

I felt dizzy but the vision kept coming and there were bits and pieces of flashes. This weird feeling settled in over me, I felt slightly unnerved. No, scratch that I felt a lot unnerved.

'Oh no. Oh no.' was all I could managed as I watched him reach towards her. It wasn't until then that I had gotten a very good look at her face to really notice who she was.

'Oh damn.'

And I watched Angel as he looked at me.

'What?' he asked.

'What is it Cordy? What did you see?' He was persistent turning full attention to me anticipating what I was going to say next.

I looked up at him my eyes going back to normal and the voices and flashes of images going off in my head fading out. I said one word and nothing else.


And his eyes grew really wide and big. He didn't say anything for a long moment and then finally, 'What? But how?'

And I didn't even bother to answer him. I was up in the room Connor and I was staying in away from the hotel and grabbing things to throw into a bag. I could feel his eyes following me around the room and I knew that we didn't have much time before whatever the big bad that was going to happen finally decided to go down. Tossing it over my shoulder it was only then that I turned back to him, eyes blazing with determination.

'You know the drill. Been there done this a thousand times all ready. It's nothing new so lets get to it. We're going to need everyone. Fred, Wesley, Gunn and Lorne to work this. She looks to be in some type of prison and there's a big bad there in the form of a rent-a-cop boy trying to play all mister-I'm-in-charge-so-you-do-what-I-want now. He thinks he's some big hot shot sticking it to women and getting away with it. He's hurt others before, he'll hurt her. Scratch that--no he won't not if we can get to her in time. So lets get a move on. Now.'

And I left him no room to say anything else before I pushed past him and was out the door. I knew what I had to do and there was no stopping me now.

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Freaky dude in the yard [25 Apr 2004|10:35am]

[ mood | uncomfortable ]

"Prisoner 430019 coming out."

I'm standing in front of the gates as they open up for me, the familiar itch of I-hate-how-I'm-just-a-number-and-not-a-person making me twitch some in the harsh sunlight when it hits home... right in my fuckin' eyes. Being stuck in a dark cell all day kinda gives a chick an allergy to the sun, you know?

The guards all perk up at my arrival, my slayer hearing honing in on the click of their fingers as they cock their rifles. Man, what a bunch of losers. Do they really think a little bullet is gonna stop me if I really wanna throw some static in this battlefield just waiting to happen? Fat chance, assholes. I'd wipe the floor with these guys. The second I make a move, you know the entire prison'll riot. See, I've got a rep here as the toughest bitch to ever walk cell block D. Sure, I don't exert my power often, it's part of that whole doing good instead of bad routine, but if I did, they'd all fall in line like a bunch of ready-made toy soldiers.

"Hey, get a move on!" the same guard that called out my number hollers at my still unmoving form.

I just look up at him and flash a deadly smile. They get wicked twitchy when it looks like I'm planning something. Whenever I get introspective, they get ready to fire. A girl can't get much think time in without it being assumed I'm hatching a break out plan or a riot. Good behavior or no, I got the history of a Hannibal, and they ain't gonna let a few good deeds get in the way of them seeing me as nothing but an animal.

"Sorry," I say in a tone that clearly says `kiss my ass`. "Sun's bright today. You think you could lend me your shades?"

He crosses his arms firmly over his chest, assuming a typical I've got a stick up my blue suited ass stance, and shakes his head at me with a scowl planted firm on his lips. "Listen, I got better things to do than argue with a prisoner. Now get a move on!"

"Or else you'll what?" I can't help but retort. Even good girls got their limits. I can't pass up a smart-ass remark when it's just dying to slip past my tongue like this. Guy gives me another glare and fixes his hand on his gun. I just roll my eyes. Like he could do any damage on me just 'cause I ain't Speedy Gonzales when it comes to walking from my cell to the yard.

"Whatever," I wave him off. "I'm moving."

I make a mental check of the yard as I go. There's a hoop where chicks play a game of b-ball not suitable for the NBA. Foul play is encouraged and welcomed in this court. If you ain't smacking a bitch up, you're not playing the game right. Gotta admit, I kinda dig their way of play. It reminds me of when I was a kid in Boston.

I used to tag along with the big boys and try to get a little play in with them. Being small had it's ups and downs. My shots always got blocked but I was a pro at sneaking between people to steal the ball from 'em. I was fast on my feet and an accomplished thief by age 12. I might not have been all star, but at least they let me play. It beat holding back my Ma's hair when she was puking her guts out the morning after a hard night of drinking and fucking.

A few Chyna wannabes are pumping iron over in the work out area. Most of these chicks are big Amazon types with the motto `the bigger the better`. They scare the shit out of the smaller girls, but not me. They're just your run-of-the-mill big bertha types, the kind that always think they can throwdown with me.

Man, were they ever in for a rude awakening. They mostly leeave me alone now, but every now and then, an ego will need inflating and since I'm the top dog, they'll go at it with me in hopes of becoming the new reigning queen of fist. They got determination, I'll give 'em that. But I won't touch on what I think of their IQs. Just Ddesn't seem right for me to call others on their brain power when I'm Einstein myself, you know? I've done my share of stupid things. I'm just now wising up.

I'm still weighing my options when I get this tugging feeling in my stomach. Kinda crampy in a way, though I know there's no reason why I should be feeling that way. Maybe I got a bad share of prison slop this morning. The further I walk into the yard, the stronger it seems to get. Huh? I try backing up for a second, and it automatically lessens. I'm about to say this is bogus when I catch sight of another guard chillin' it in the yard near the fence.

Tyrone Ketcher's a big black dude, looks like he came straight out of the Congo with the wild look he's got in his eyes. I don't know why, but the guy creeps me out big time. My stomach always starts doin' flip flops when he's around. He's always staring at me like he could just eat me up, literally. It's not a sexual thing, I get that from the other guards. Well, the ones who don't think I'd bite their dicks off before I gave them orgasms.

Like I said, I got a bad rep as a sadistic bitch. It's not exactly an attractive quality. A few don't seem to mind, though, they're always tryin' to catch sight of me in the showers or when I'm changing. They're lucky I get kicks out of their peepshows. I gotta make sure I still got it, you know?

Anyway, back to Ty. He's got these piercing green eyes, ones that burn into me no matter how far away I am. It's like he senses there's something different about me. He don't look at the other girls like that. It seriously wigs me out sometimes. Does he know I'm a slayer? Maybe the Council's got an insider to check up on me, make sure I'm behaving myself like the good neutered slayer I gotta be when I'm in the slammer. He's got some major power vibes coming off of him, too. As much as he loves to have staring contests, he ain't big on the touchy feely.

In fact, the closest we've ever been to each other is about 20 feet during a false alarm. One day a stove spazzed during dinnertime and set the kitchen on fire. We all got evacuated to the yard and that's when I knew there was something not quite normal about the dude. What it is, I don't know. I just know that the guy bugs me.

Not much I can do about the sitch either. I mean, what can I do? Call up Soul Boy and tell him I don't like one of the boys in blue so he oughta try to get him fired or me transferred to another prison? Fuck no! Angel would tell me to suck it up and deal. It's just another bump on the road to redemption. I gotta deal with people I don't like 'cause not everybody's out to be my best friend for life. Yea, I got the memo on that one, big guy. Angel's the only friend I've got in this world.

"Hey Faith, you wanna play poker with us?" one of the new girls asks me.

Trina's an average sized girl. A little chubby and annoying, but she's got a nice vibe to her. Two weeks ago one of the Amazon chicks tried to rape her in the shower. I got there just in time to save her from a bad time. Ended up getting a major beating from the guards for fighting, but that was nothing compared to the broken fingers I gave the other girl. Can't screw with your fingers stuck in plaster, you know?

All I came out with were a few baton shaped bruises on my back. Trina thought I was her fucking savior and now I'm like a god in her eyes. Girl hangs off me like a puppy. I don't mind it much. If she's on my watch, I know she ain't gettin' into trouble.

"Poker?" my eyes light up at the idea. "I'm your girl. Better start counting your losses now, girlfriend. I'm a shark."

She just laughs and says something about how she might not look like a gambler, but she's spent a lot of time in Vegas so she knows the drill. I almost forgot her home state was Nevada. How she ended up in LA I still don't know. I'm not one for gossip.

I cast one more look over in Tyrone's direction. He's still staring at me with those freaky eyes of his. Even in the 85 degree weather, I shiver. Trina makes an impatient sound and soon I find my hand in hers and I'm being dragged off to the picnic benches where we've got it set up like our own private Vegas. Maybe all the gambling for a new pack of smokes will take my mind off the guy. I'm running low and could use a back up supply.

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