Character(s): Faith, Wesley, rest of the Angel posse
Warnings/Notes: AU; season 3
Chapter Six - Demon Central
Faith's "stuff" didn't exactly take up a lot of space. In fact, less than an hour after leaving the Hyperion Hotel, she was packed up and ready to go. Her life in a bag over her shoulder. Keeping a weather eye out for anyone following her, she made her way back to the hotel, hesitating for an instant outside before walking in, not sure which was worse - having to talk to Wesley, or having Cordelia bitch at her. However, it seemed that neither was imminent - the foyer was bereft of Angel, Cordelia and Wesley; instead a tall black man and a thin girl with long brown hair were standing by the desk, deep in conversation. Suddenly the girl broke off, turning towards Faith.
"Hi. You lookin' for help? 'Cause, we do that." The girl smiled, and Faith found herself responding.
"Kinda. Angel around?"
"Went out. Business. Can I help? Uh, you know, we…" This time it was the man who answered, floundering slightly when his words didn't work.
"I already said we help, Charles," the girl added, rolling her eyes for Faith's benefit. "Hopeless people and helpless people and homeless people. There sure are a lot of "H" people. I looked 'em up once. But…I was supposed to be looking up herbs." She shrugged, and smiled again. "Anyway, you need…?"
"What the fuck is that?"
"My, cupcake, I'm feeling some hostile vibes here. Feisty little one, aren't you?" Faith stared at the green demon, complete with red horns and a fetching white three piece number, coming down the stairs, baby in tow. "Fred, be a doll and take the little sweetums, will you, before the suit is past all hope."
"I'm in fucking demon central!"
"Cupcake, you have got to watch the language in front of the baby! God knows he's going to have enough traumas in his life with Angel brooding over him without language like that. Now, are you here to be helped, or looking to critique the suit?"
"I have to say, you're lacking sincerity there. But points for trying."
"Whatever. I'm just looking for Angel. Or Cordelia?"
"Brown Eyes had a vision from the Powers, and Angel and Wes have gone off to be heroes. Slaying the big bad - you know how it is." Faith stood irresolute for a moment, then sighed.
"Look, just tell Angel…tell him Faith came by. I'll come back later." She turned and walked back to the door, only to find her way blocked, by the big man - Charles. Gone was the grin, and instead he glared down at her, looking - if she was the intimidated type - intimidating.
"You're Faith." She shifted slightly, threw him a challenging look.
"What, you deaf or something?"
"Oh, I heard all about you, girl. You know, I don't like people who try and hurt my friends. Gets me all mad. So how 'bout you walk out of here and don't bother coming back, okay?"
"Stay out of this, Fred. You don't know what this bitch did."
Chapter Seven - The Crossness that is Charles Gunn
"Gunn, can I see you in my office for a moment, please." Both Faith and Gunn swung round in surprise as Wesley and Angel walked through the main doors, Angel toting a large battle axe and Wesley looking somewhat the worse for wear, though his gaze was steady, levelled on the younger man. Gunn shot a quick glance at the slayer, then nodded to Angel, and followed Wesley into the office behind the front desk. Angel crossed to the desk, and dropped the axe onto it before taking off the ubiquitous leather coat.
"Didya kill the demon?" came an excited voice, and Faith looked in surprise at the girl with brown hair.
"Yeah, Fred, we killed it," Angel answered with a grin.
"Well, not to get all picky, Angelcakes, but couldn't you have killed it before it sang "Some Enchanted Evening"? I swear, that thing nearly emptied the place!"
"Come on, Lorne, it wasn't that bad." A snort could be heard from halfway up the stairs.
"Yeah, like you'd know!"
"Yep, and before you all ask, I'm fine. Demon dead, Cordelia OK." She walked down the stairs, her slightly pale face the only testimony to the excruciating headache caused by her latest vision. "Say, where'd Wes go? Don't tell me he needed another trip to the ER?"
"He's talkin' to Charles. In the office," Fred added portentously. "Charles was gettin' kinda cross." Cordelia's eyebrows once again began the climb to her hairline, as she spared a glance for Faith.
“Cross, huh? Wonder what brought that on?”
Chapter Eight - Meeting, Swiftly Followed by Plan
The following morning Faith awoke, once again, in an unfamiliar room. The sun streamed through the window, and for a moment she felt that deep sense of contentment that comes as you drift into consciousness. Then she realised where she was, and most of it - but not all - faded. She sat up, and looked around the room Angel had brought her to the night before. The wallpaper was dire, and the bed mildly lumpy, but it was, well, nice. Her bag was carelessly slung into an armchair, her jeans, top and bra on the floor at the foot of the bed. She stood up and stretched, uncaring of the fact that she was clad only in a pair of yellow knickers. She was midway through getting dressed, when a knock at the door made her jump.
"Faith? Are you up?" It was Wesley.
"No! I mean, yeah, but I-"
"Come downstairs when you're ready. We're having a meeting." Footsteps echoed down the corridor, fading into silence, and Faith was left, clutching a t-shirt to her chest, feeling breathless and flustered, and then angry at herself for behaving like an idiot. She pulled the t-shirt on slowly, then rifled through her bag to find her hairbrush.
A meeting. Was that good or bad? Would it be "So long, Faith, thanks for trying to kill us!" or would they try and help. Faith found herself surprised at how much she wanted their help, now, in the cold light of day. She wanted to be normal; to go out shopping, or bake a cake, or not to have to worry that she would kill someone. Her hand hovered over her hair, then she lowered the hairbrush. Squaring her shoulders, she opened the door and walked out into the rest of the hotel.
They were all sitting in the foyer. Gunn and that weird girl, Fred, were talking to each other quietly. Angel was holding the baby, with Cordelia sitting beside him, playing with one small foot. Even the bizarro green demon with the suit fixation was there, admiring his reflection in a small mirror. And standing at the desk, apparently engrossed in some ancient manuscript, was Wesley. Faith hesitated half way down the stairs, wondering what they were all planning to do. It was Wesley who looked up first, and gestured her down before heading for the others in the middle of the foyer. She descended slowly, then more quickly, irritated by having all eyes upon her, ending up propped against a pillar.
"Wolfram & Hart have again stepped up their efforts to kill Angel." The speaker was Wesley, and Faith noticed that all the others seemed to take his authority in their stride. "However, given what research I've done, and the reports we're getting from our sources, it seems likely that the source isn't Angel at all, but Connor."
"The kid?" As heads turned towards her, Faith regretted her exclamation, but Wesley continued.
"It seems as if Connor has a large part to play in the future. Wolfram & Hart, obviously, want as much in their favour as possible, which includes having Connor either under their control or…" He trailed off.
"Or dead," Angel finished, looking grim.
"Unfortunately, we don't really know what their plan is, which, obviously, leaves us at a disadvantage. However, I have thought of a plan that might help us there." The others looked at him expectantly, and Faith wondered if she was the only one who noticed how uncomfortable he looked. "Now, this may seem a little…radical, and I can quite understand if you all feel it to be too extreme, but…"
"Wes, tell us the plan!" broke in Cordelia, impatient as ever. "Don't worry - if it's stupid, we'll tell you."
"Thank you, Cordelia. Very well. Faith is going to go back to Wolfram & Hart, and tell them that she has succeeded in killing Angel." He turned to Faith. "You will stay in their employ for as long as you can, and find out what they want with Angel and Connor. Angel will stay here in the hotel, and see no-one. Lorne will take Connor to Caritas and Cordelia will go with him - that's probably the safest place, and the least suspicious. Gunn will go with them in case anything happens. I'll stay at the hotel, and ostensibly keep the agency running."
Chapter Nine - Act Your Usual Bitchy Self
"You're shittin' me, man!"
"Okay, Wesley, that is a bad idea!"
"I have to be dead?"
"You are dead!" With this last comment, Cordelia subsided under the pointed glare Wesley was handing around with admirable impartiality. When there was silence, he spoke again.
"We need to find out what Wolfram & Hart have planned. And this is the best way to do that, as far as I can see. Now, we don't know how fast they'll move after they think Angel is out of the way - or even if they'll move at all, for that matter, but hopefully they'll use Faith, and we can rely on her to keep us informed."
"Are you nuts, Wes? And, believe me, that is an honest question!"
"Okay, what's with the relying on me?"
"No, Wesley! I'll…I'll screw up! You know I'll screw up! I can't do this."
"Faith, you won't screw up." As he spoke, Wesley approached the slayer, noticing the fear that darkened her eyes. "You can do this." He put out a hand, and she reacted, pushing him back so that he almost fell. Her hand flew to her mouth, and she looked at him in shock.
"Faith, it's all right. See? It doesn't matter."
"No-no! I shouldn't be here!" She looked around blindly, her panic clear. "I'm sorry - I-" She ran for the door, but to everyone's surprise it was Gunn standing in front of her.
"The boss says we're gonna rely on you, then we're relying on you." She looked around again, back at Wesley, who stared right back at her.
"We need you, Faith. We need you to help us."
*** *** ***
Two hours later, the plan was ready. Angel would spend the foreseeable future down in the basement, with an axe, a good book, and a fridge full of blood. Cordelia, Fred and Gunn would go to Caritas with Lorne, taking Connor. The spells guarding Caritas were back in full effect, and no violence was going to be done by anyone there. Wesley would stay at the Hyperion, keeping the place running, and providing a link between Angel and the others, and would also be the one in contact with Faith. Faith herself was to go back to the hotel with her stuff, and thence to Wolfram & Hart, where she would inform Lilah Morgan that Angel was dead.
"Now, Faith, they may be a little suspicious, especially after what happened before, so you just need to keep up the façade; give them a little attitude, and, er, well…"
"He means act your usual bitchy self and no one will suspect anything," interrupted Cordelia impatiently.
"Yes, Cordelia, thank you. Now, there is the problem of the mind readers -"
"Mind readers? They've got fucking mind readers in there?"
Chapter Ten - Into the Dragon's Lair
Once the mind reader issue had been resolved (see a mind reader = run), the meeting dispersed. Fred and Gunn disappeared together, while Angel went off with Cordy and Connor to get ready for the trip to Caritas, and Lorne skedaddled to get everything ready, murmuring something about socket covers and extra insurance. Eventually Faith and Wesley were the only ones left in the foyer, and she looked at him defensively.
"Get your things together, and get back to the motel. If anyone asks you about where you were last night, don't lie - it's too easy to check, if they don't already know. Tell them you went to Angel, and he took you in. Then you killed him. They're lawyers, the institution of double-crossing is something they believe in implicitly."
"How do you know I won't?"
"Because I know you, Faith."
"Yeah, right, that's what you said when-I'll just go get my stuff." With that awkward reminder of the past, she ran up the stairs, leaving Wesley alone, looking up after her. Wondering if he'd done the right thing.
*** *** ***
"Ms Morgan, there's a young lady to see you." Lilah looked up from the case she had been perusing, then focused on the buzzer.
"I'm busy, Emma."
"Uh, she says it's urgent - a contractual matter." There was a note of panic in her PA's voice that made a slow smile cross Lilah's face.
"Show her in." The door flew open as she spoke, and Faith, in all her glory, stalked into the room. Dressed in leather trousers and a blood red top, make up sultry, expression dangerous, Faith was the living embodiment of the femme fatale - literally.
"Faith. Do sit down." Lilah showed no signs of perturbation as Faith failed to do anything of the sort. "I have to be honest, I wasn't sure I'd see you again."
"Yeah, well, I'm a woman of surprises."
"And our…terms of agreement."
"Fulfilled." Lilah's smile spread further.
"I am so very glad to hear it."