Feedback: Thanks, I'd love some.
Written for: The Original Flashfic-a-thon Reunion
Dedications: girlfromsouth, who requested a pairing that made me squee, erinalbion for beta goodness, and theantijoss for beta-ing and exclaiming in all the right places.
Note: This is my first real angst fic, so consider yourself warned.
She wasn't moving when he reached the warehouse and for one horrible moment, his joy at the return of the sun was frozen. Long-forgotten feelings of panic and guilt began to stir within him as he stared at the body lying defeated on the floor.
Her chest rose with a small gasp and his heart started beating again. He closed his eyes, composing himself before approaching.
"Faith," he called out, keeping his voice low.
Her face immediately went blank as she struggled to mask the pain. She swallowed with some difficulty and said nothing.
"Are you all right?" He reached a hand toward her and she flinched back, wincing as the sudden move set her shoulder throbbing again.
"Don't touch me," she ordered, horrified to hear her voice break.
why do you make me punish you, faithy? why can't you be a good little girl?
She shut her eyes tightly. "I'm fine, just - stay over there." She trained her gaze on the floor, but heard him stop a few feet away.
smile, faith - thought you'd enjoy a threesome
Wesley tried not to search the floor for a telltale pile of dust. "Where is Angelus?"
She gasped in pain as she tried to sit up and failed, lowering herself back to the floor facing away from him. He winced at the sound of bones shifting and hands sticky with blood peeling off of dirty cement.
"Hell if I know," she answered wearily.
come on, faithy, you're not even trying
"He's still here?" Wesley immediately began scanning the perimeter.
"He's gone," Faith said flatly. "Took off after I broke the window."
better get up
Wesley squinted as he took in the small area covered by the still-new sunlight.
"He let me go, Wes. He didn't want me."
this is all you are
He could see the muscles working as she clenched her jaw against the pain. "Faith-"
"You think a few feet of sunlight could stop him? You think I'm safe lying here?"
you think you can lock me out girly? you think mommy'll come running?
His eyes followed the rays of watery sunlight outside, where the sky was too bright. A cloud shifted, and a new beam of light revealed yet another gash along her neck. He was disturbed to see the dirt ground into the wound and wondered why he should worry about that of all things.
there's no real power here
"He couldn't be bothered to kill me." She was talking to the ceiling, almost to herself. "I'm not even - " She stopped, finally looking at Wesley. "You shouldn't have brought me here."
"Don't be ridiculous, Faith. You managed to defeat the Beast. That's no small feat."
A snort of humorless laughter. "I didn't defeat anything. Angelus killed him."
"I don't know. Guess he couldn't handle not being the Big Bad." Faith shrugged without thinking, then sucked in a breath as pain radiated from her shoulder.
you are weak
"Still," Wesley continued cautiously. "Without you, we wouldn't even have that."
"Without me, you wouldn't have a lot of things."
And suddenly his right arm twinged like it hadn't since - and she knew, she remembered, she was staring at his arm, her dark eyes full of dark memories. He cleared his throat. "We should get you home."
"Don't have a home." The words were bleak, her voice even weaker.
"Faith, you'll fight him again. You'll win." His voice was urgent with his need for her to believe him.
stop fighting back you just make him angrier I told you to stay in the closet
"And why is that, Wes? Why did he leave me behind? 'Cause he knows he's got nothing to be afraid of. He might as well let me live. I'm not a threat." She said the last bitterly, gazing down at her shattered body.
I like my meat nice and tender
"No. No, Faith. That's not how he works. You've never dealt with Angelus. He doesn't kill people to get rid of them." Wesley suddenly noticed the drops of Lilah's blood staining his sleeve. "He enjoys causing pain. He leaves the important ones alive…so he can continue to hurt them."
just you and me now, faithy
"Faith, you need medical attention. We should go."
She shook her head and her stomach rolled. "I said I'm fine," she repeated, concentrating on calming her stomach. "I just gotta lie down for a minute."
"You could have serious internal injuries."
"Slayer healing, Wes," she reminded him. "I'll be good as new, ready to get beat down again the next time Angelus feels like it."
"Slayer healing doesn't make you invincible, Faith."
ain't that the truth
She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, ignoring the ache of the broken ribs.
He could hear the grittiness in her voice and wondered if she'd taken up smoking in jail. It didn't seem right, a Slayer bound by such a weakness. Then again, this particular Slayer had displayed far more dangerous weaknesses.
The room was silent save for Faith's labored breaths. Wesley watched her carefully, trying to gauge the extent of her injuries. The Watcher in him calculated how soon he could pit her against Angelus again. The Man in him wondered if he could carry her out without aggravating her pain further. He didn't know which part he despised more - the ruthlessness of the warrior using a girl, or the weakness of a victim aiding his tormentor.
His footsteps echoed throughout the room as he moved closer, but Faith was too busy blocking the pain to protest. He was soon kneeling by her side, hands skimming over her ribs, probing her shoulder. She sucked in a breath, but made no move to stop him.
"It was dislocated?"
"Yeah. I popped it back before - " A hiss of pain as his fingers found a particularly vulnerable spot. "Before you got here."
and how exactly does a nine-year-old dislocate her own shoulder, ms. dewitt?
Wesley nodded briskly, keeping his face impassive. "Shall I send for one of the others to bring the car?"
"No." She set her jaw. "I'll walk. I don't want them leaving the hotel."
"How long will you need?"
She gingerly lifted an arm and her ribs screamed in protest. "I don't know. Awhile."
paying attention, slayer? you just wait your turn until I'm finished with your watcher
"Faith. You don't need to be completely healed before we go back. It's all right for them to see."
"I didn't ask you."
"You my Watcher again?" she snapped. "Telling me what to do? Find a real job."
He took his hand back from her shoulder.
Faith sighed. "Just - wait, okay? Give me this." Her voice was tired, so tired, and her eyes began to glaze over.
lie still and it won't hurt so much
"Faith? Faith!" He put a hand to her cheek, turning her to face him, and the eyes that stared back at him were so empty he nearly shuddered. "You're going into shock. You must stay alert, do you understand me?"
"Why are you here?" Wesley's voice sounded so far away.
"The same reason as you, I imagine," he answered as he checked her pulse.
"Redemption? What do you have to make up for?" she asked woozily.
Wesley stared at the broken girl lying before him, her blood beating weakly in his hand.
by the order of the watcher's council of britain I am exercising my authority and removing you to england
Not answering, he slipped his arms beneath her and gently lifted. "We'll go to my apartment. No one will see you."
She didn't respond, her gaze a dead stare into nothingness.
He shifted her in his arms, taking care not to jostle her shoulder. In the split second before his first step, he heard the blood dripping to the floor.
"Let's get you home."