by Faithtastic

The wide open door was bad sign. The stray tins and other assorted groceries that lay just outside the door an even worse one. For the first time in many months, Faith was scared. Like, shit-scared. Only this time it wasn't for herself. So she took cautious steps towards the door, her hand hovering near the stake hidden in her jacket because this whole thing just screamed of supernatural shit to her senses. Holding her breath, she peered inside and forgot all about the softly-softly approach. Mrs. Chase was lying unconscious beside the couch, blonde hair disarrayed, and even from here Faith could see the tell-tale rupture wounds, the thin, encrusted trails of dried blood on her neck.


Ever a slave to her training, Faith did a quick sweep of the room before kneeling down beside Mrs. C. Tentatively, she placed two fingers against the woman's throat and was relieved to find a warm, strong pulse. It was never a good omen when you had to stake one of the in-laws.

"Mrs. Chase," she said urgently, shaking the woman's arm and then slapping her lightly on the cheek. She persisted but the woman was out cold. The only visible injury was the neck wound but Faith knew she shouldn't move her, in case there were any broken bones. The best she could do was make Mrs. Chase comfortable so Faith slipped into the bedroom and took the quilted blanket to cover the woman with.

The apartment was pretty much untouched except for the ripped grocery bag that lay on floor, the contents spilling out all over the place. There were shards of broken glass and the sharp scent of the whiskey which had stained the light carpet dark brown. No sign of C. Faith ran a ragged, anxious hand through her hair and tried to think. She couldn't leave Mrs. C here alone but she wanted to go after the sick fuck that did this. Still, even she wasn 't stupid enough to take off half-cocked. For one thing, she had no idea where to look for Cordelia in a city of ten million.

"D, phone," she said and held out her hand. Moments later the receiver was in her grip and she dialed a number. She watched mutely as Dennis began sweeping up the glass into a corner. He must've felt pretty bad. . . and Faith stopped herself at that thought. She really had to be going soft if she was considering the hurt feelings of a fucking ghost.

As she shook her head she heard Wesley's voice, clipped and British. "Angel Investigations."

"Is Angel there?" she said without preamble.

"Faith - he hasn't risen yet." His voice was cold, precise and he could've been lying. Unlike Angel, Wesley wasn't rooting for her. He didn't want to wait to see which side she would choose when she finally made it out of the tunnel. He'd already decided she was a lost cause.

"Well, go get him."

He breathed out at the other end. "Is it something I can - "

"Wes, just get him. It's important." She wasn't in the mood for an argument with Wesley of all people. He must've taken heed of the warning in her tone because she heard the dull thud of the phone being put down and Wesley's retreating footsteps. A couple of minutes later she only detected one set of footsteps returning.

"Um, he appears to be gone."


"Vanished. He would normally inform - "

Faith didn't wait for Wesley to finish. "Fuck. Okay, get your ass over to Cordelia's place. We've got an emergency."

"Faith?" A note of indignance there and she so didn't have time for that.

"I'll explain when you get here. Just motorvate, okay?"

Faith hung up. It would take Wes a good twenty minutes to get here, depending on the traffic. She hated this waiting. Cordelia was out there somewhere, maybe injured, frightened. . . and probably bitching about it like hell. Faith allowed a small smile to curl her lips at that. It's just, damn, she was itching to start pounding some heads.

As she started to pace, a small murmur of pain came from Mrs. C. Immediately, Faith was at her side, peering intently as the woman shifted slightly under the quilt. "Mrs. Chase?" she said gently in what she hoped was a soothing voice. Hell, she hadn't had much practice at this compassion thing so she was still finding her way.

The woman's eyes blinked open slowly, adjusting to the dim lighting. A delicate, shaking hand came to her brow and she winced. "Oh dear Lord, my head."

"It's okay. You're okay," Faith said in reassurance. To herself or Mrs. C, she wasn't sure.

Mrs. Chase stared at her, as if noticing her for the first time. It was one wicked cold glare. "Where's my daughter? Where's Delia?"

Faith ignored that question. "What happened?"

"There was a woman. . . but she wasn't a woman. . . " Mrs. Chase said hesitantly, covering her eyes with her hand. "She was a monster. She - she bit me. And she hit my darling daughter. I - I. . ."

Faith placed a strong hand on Mrs. Chase's shoulder to silence her and tried to contain the rage that bubbled up inside her. "What did this chick look like?" She already knew the answer but she wanted confirmation.

There was a knock on the door, startling them both. Mrs. Chase looked at her in abject terror. "Who is it?" Faith called roughly, keeping an eye on the other woman.

"It's Wesley," came the muffled response.

Letting out a breath she hadn't been aware she was holding, Faith stood and let him into the apartment. When he saw Mrs. Chase on the floor, his widened eyes spoke volumes. "Wesley. He works with Cordelia. Mrs. Chase," Faith said by way of introduction.

Wesley nodded and Mrs. Chase gave a small smile, her hands absently rising to fix her hair as she sat up. "The. . . creature was around my height, blonde, pretty, well-spoken." Mrs. Chase said, pushing the blanket off. "She seemed such a nice girl," she continued with disappointment.

Faith looked directly at Wesley. One word escaped her lips. "Darla."

"What? But she's dead," he whispered, his furrowed brows sinking beneath the frames of his glasses.

Faith shook her head. "Nuh-uh, very much undead, Wes," she corrected.

Her former Watcher looked at her with something resembling reproach, the way he used to. "Why didn't you tell us?"

Faith squared up to him. "I told Angel. It's not my fault he didn't share the info with the tea boy."

She watched Wesley's jaw work. Seemed she struck a raw nerve there. It was still so easy to goad him about his inadequacies. "Look, I don't care what you do or how you get your kicks but when you involve Angel or Cordelia then it becomes my business. So I want you to tell me everything you know about Darla."

Faith sighed and looked away. At Mrs. Chase who was still fussing with her hair. "I'll tell you on the way."

"To where?" Wesley asked, his nostrils flaring impatiently.

"Angel's place. She'll contact us when she's ready. Now," she paused and approached Cordelia's mother, taking the woman by the arm, "let's get Mrs. C to the car."


As soon as they arrived at the Hyperion Hotel, Mrs. Chase complained that she was sleepy so they got her settled in one of the rooms. She didn't much approve of the decor, running a finger along a table to check for dust, but she'd taken a distinct shine to Wesley. The whole apologetic yet charming Hugh Grant British gig worked a treat for her. It was pretty sick watching her flirt with him, especially since Mrs. C was a good fifteen years older than him, but Faith had other things on her mind.

So she and Wes left Mrs. Chase upstairs to take a nap and the waiting began. She was conscious of Wesley staring at her in contempt and she knew exactly what he was thinking. How could she endanger Cordelia like this? That was the thing, she didn't know. Whenever she screwed up it was like some other force was controlling her actions. She could see what she was doing but she was completely powerless to stop herself. Fuck, there had to be a clinical name for that. And it was always someone else who had to clean up the mess. Only this time, there was no one to take the rap.

When she'd explained the whole sorry story to Wes in the car, all he'd said at the end was, "you stupid, stupid girl." The rest of the ride was made in silence, except for Mrs. Chase's soft snores in the back. He was right and as soon as they sorted this mess out she was going to do everyone a favour and bail. Cordelia, and the rest of them, would be much better off without her around.

But for the moment they waited in Angel's office, Wes occupying the burnished leather chair behind the desk and Faith sitting uncomfortably on the window sill. It was dark outside - playtime for the vamps and other demons. Enough slaying to keep her busy for the rest of her life; a life worth jack-squat if C and Angel didn't make it out of this.

The high peal of the phone disturbed her from her thoughts and she exchanged a glance with Wesley. He made a move to answer it but Faith's reflexes were much quicker.


"Faith, honey, I've missed you. You never write, you never call." Soft eruption of girlish laughter and there was no mistaking that it was her. That voice still made a shiver travel up her spine. Bitch.

"Been busy. You know how it is."

"I'll bet. Let's cut to the Chase shall we?" Another breathless laugh, tickling her ear. "I propose a trade. Angel and your trashy little girlfriend in exchange for you, my dear."

Wesley looked pointedly at Faith, mouthing 'what's is it?'

"How do I know you haven't killed them both?" she asked, ignoring him, staring out the window, and fixating on a point in the darkness.

"I give you my word. But if you don't believe me. . ." Near silence on the end of the line, the barely discernable sound of clothes rustling.

"Faith - " Angel's voice, panting and strained then the rustling again.

Moments dragged past and Wesley leaned forward in his chair, elbows resting on his knees.

"I love you, Faith." Cordelia. She'd been crying, Faith could tell and swallowed the lump in her own throat.

"Baby, I. . . " she began and stopped, aware of Wesley's intense scrutiny. She didn't want him to see her like this.

Darla was back on the line. "How sweet. You know, she's much more beautiful than Buffy. I can see why you like her. . ." she trailed off suggestively in that breathless little-girl voice of hers.

Faith fought to restrain the 'fuck you' that rose in her throat. "Alright, we'll make the trade."

The vampire proceeded to give directions and Faith jotted them down on the legal pad beside the phone, ignoring the daggers Wesley was shooting her way. "See you soon, my love," Darla said and hung up.

Replacing the receiver, Faith ripped the sheet off the pad and grabbed her jacket.

"Just where do you think you're going?" Wesley stood neatly, arms folded.

"To complete this deal."

"Faith, I really think you ought to have consulted me first. In circumstances such as this, I'm sure Angel would prefer me to take charge. We haven't even formulated a plan."

Faith looked him up and down. "Okay, formulate this: I'm gonna save Angel and Cordelia's asses and you can sit around being a priss."

As she moved, Wesley blocked the doorway to the office. She eyeballed him. "Wes, I am not gonna throw down with you. I don't have time for this."

"I must insist -"

"No," Faith said, calmly and clearly, poking Wesley in the chest with her finger. "I must insist you get the fuck outta my way."

Wesley shoved her hand off. "Or what? Are you going to torture me again?"

Faith stared at him hard but he wouldn't back down. She could feel her anger steal over her, the way it always did when she knew that a loss of self-control was imminent. But this time she stepped back and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry," she said finally.

Then Wes did something that stunned her. "Apology accepted."

She whirled round to stare at him where he stood, still in the doorway of Angel's office. He didn't acknowledge the look of amazement that she knew was on her face. She knew that small apology couldn't even begin to express the remorse she felt for what she did to him. And yet, just saying it seemed to lift a weight off her shoulders. Hey, he could actually look her in the eye now.

"But I'm still not letting you walk out of here unprepared." He paused, giving Faith a grave look. "For some fathomless reason, Cordelia sees something in you and I think she'd much prefer you in one piece."

Faith remembered how Wesley had stayed at the hospital with C when those vamps had busted her up good and landed her in ICU. At the time she'd been so surprised to see him there but she knew he'd been there for Cordelia and not for her. He never even spoke to Faith at the time, just hovered at the end of her bed while the heart monitor beeped intermittently. Maybe, silently, he'd been there for her too.

"Now, we have to think about our strategy, taking into consideration Darla's weaknesses." he began as he reached into Angel's weapons trunk. Well, guess you could take the guy outta the Watcher's Council.

She nodded, with a slight smile. It was a start at reconciliation.