Summary: A shared moment in a hospital ward leads to a revealed secret.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes.

Time Frame: Just after the end of "Dirty Girls." (spoilers)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me ( and let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.

Author's Comment: This is written in response to Therealjae's Secrets Challenge, which I spotted on Victoria P.'s LJ. Lot of Xanderish themes to work through right now, and this one came to mind.


Faith nodded as Willow, visibly exhausted, moved past her and walked out into the corridor, heading back to her car and towards the illusory safety of the Summers house. They had agreed that one of them would stand watch in the hospital ward until the wounded were well enough to be moved back to Slayer Central. Not that one of them alone would stand much chance against Caleb and a swarm of Bringers, but Willow had erected a warding spell that would take some mild efforts for hostiles to penetrate, and it was hoped that the distraction would delay matters enough for the cavalry to arrive. . .for whatever good it would do.

Faith glanced at the beds containing the Slayers-in-training-all were out for the count-but her attention was focused on the dark-haired patient with the bandage over his left eye. His intact eye was closed, and Faith quietly pulled up a chair and sat next to the bed. She looked carefully at him, ignoring the obscenity lurking beneath the bandage in evaluating the changes since she had last seen him. He had put on some weight, and there were care lines on his face that looked as if they belonged on a man ten years older, but on the whole he looked pretty damned good for a man who had lived through what he had. Faith forced down her raw anger over what had been done to him, and the guilt of knowing what she had done to him in days past, before sighing and starting to get up-she could watch the ward from near the door, and she was sure that her face was not what Xander wanted to see when he woke up.

Xander's left hand moved quickly and snagged her wrist, and Faith flinched as Xander's one good eye focused on her. She forced a smile and whispered, "Hey. Glad you're awake: I was just checking up on you. I was just going over by the door-figured you'd want some time to yourself." She pulled gently, but Xander did not let go. She tensed inwardly and asked, "Xander, is there something you want to say to me?" She looked at his single eye and vowed to accept whatever he had to say-she owed it to him, for all he had been through. . .for everything he had tried to do for her.

Xander looked at her silently for a moment, then whispered in a rasp: "I came to see you once-drove three hours on an August afternoon after finishing a job out of town. I parked and walked to the fence. It was exercise hour: I watched you for forty minutes. . .I couldn't work up the nerve to go in and ask to visit. I wish I had." Xander smiled as Faith looked down, her eyes shining with unshed tears, and added, "You look good, Faith."

Faith blinked, and a tear fell free as she whispered, "So do you."
As always, comments are welcomed and desired.