Rating: PG-13 (I'm not sure.)
Pairings B/A, other
Feedback Please. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS and AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)
Distribution Please ask and let me know where it's going.
Summary: What if Faith really did go to L.A. to kill Angel? How would the fact that Angel hit Buffy to protect Faith change Buffy and Angel's relationship?
A/N: Faith is evil in this story. If this offends you, you might want to stop reading now.
"You attacked me to protect that bitch after what she did?" Buffy couldn't believe what had just happened. Angel had never hit her that hard before, even when they were training, not even when he was Angelus did he attack with such viciousness.
"She told me what she did, Buffy, she needs help."
"Help? That bitch attacked my mother and she used some kind of magic to switch bodies with me so that I would be captured and taken to England by the Council instead of her. She didn't come here looking for help, you idiot, she came here to kill you."
"What?" He turned to look at Faith questionably, who looked down and away with an evil grin on her face that he could not see.
"She was out of control, I know that, but she came to me for help and I'm going to help her whether you like it or not." All he could hear were Faith's words telling him how she had slept with Buffy's new boyfriend and that Buffy was pissed about it.
"Get out of LA, Buffy. You don't belong here. Go home and don't come back."
Buffy looked at him, trying not to believe what she had just heard. The fire in his eyes and the burning look of hatred on his face as he shielded Faith from her told Buffy more than enough.
Shaken, but with steely determination and words so cold she didn't recognize her own voice, she looked directly into Angel's hate filled eyes. "The next time you raise your hand to strike me, Angelus, you make sure it is to kill, because the next time we face off, it will be to the death."
Her words stunned Angel speechless.
Without pausing she continued, this time speaking to Faith. "And the next time I see you, I will kill you. Both of you got that?" she demanded looking from one to the other.
Without waiting for an answer she turned and walked up the stairs and out of the building. She fought to keep her composure. She would not let them see how she was trembling nor the tears that cascaded down her face.
Before Angel could digest what had just happened, he heard Cordelia's loud voice complaining. "What in the hell is the matter with Buffy? She nearly knocked me down in her rush to get away from here and can't anyone answer the phone around here when I'm gone? There's a voice mail message on the machine." She listened to the message, put the phone on pause and called Angel. "You'd better listen to this; it's a message from Giles."
Faith heard her and moved quickly when Angel went to get the phone. Angel picked up the phone and listened to the message.
"Angel, this is Giles; this is an emergency. Faith is on her way to LA to kill you in order to get revenge on Buffy. She somehow switched bodies with Buffy and committed several atrocities while in Buffy's body. The police are now looking for Buffy because of that. In the meantime, Buffy, in Faith's body, was captured by a Council hit squad; she managed to escape and come here. It took us some time to get them switched back. Faith has vowed to kill you to get back at Buffy and is on her way to LA now. Buffy is on her way there as well, but she is some distance behind Faith and might not get there in time. We tried to talk her out of going, but she is afraid Faith will kill you. I hope you get this message before Faith gets there."
Angel put down the receiver, immediately regretting his earlier actions and words to Buffy. "Oh gods, what have I done?"
He heard a scuffle and Cordelia's strained voice behind him. "Angel," she squeaked before Faith tightened her grip on her. He turned to see Faith with one hand choking Cordelia and the other hand with a knife at Cordelia's throat.
"Looks like you should've listened to your little girlfriend, Angie, now you and the cheerleader are going to bite the dust."
"Let her go and deal with me, Faith. I'm the one you came here to kill."
"Plans have changed, now I get two for the price of one and I never..."
She didn't get a chance to finish the sentence. She heard a noise behind her and turned slicing with the knife while still holding Cordelia by the throat. The knife caught Wesley in the upper arm as he raised the large tome he was trying to use to knock her out.
Wesley fell backward and Faith turned just as Angel charged at her.
"Unh unh unh," Faith warned; "she'll be dead before you're half way across the floor."
Angel froze. He could tell she wasn't bluffing and he did not want to cause any harm to Cordelia. Wesley stood slowly clutching his arm.
"Get over there with your friend," Faith commanded and Wesley moved toward Angel.
The sound of whirlybirds could be heard before Wesley reached Angel's side.
"Shit," Faith swore, "I may not get you this time, Angie, but I'm taking this bitch with me."
"Noooo," Angel yelled as Faith shoved the knife into Cordelia's back and pushed her into Angel as he ran forward.
Faith ran up the stairs and out of the building only to find herself facing a small army of armed assassins. She had no escape.
Buffy responded to a gentle knocking on her dorm room door and found herself face to face with the last person she expected to see. "What are you doing here?" she asked as coldly as she possibly could.
"May I come in?" the visitor asked; "I'd like to speak with you if I could please."
"Unless you've come for the final fight to the death, there is nothing to be said between us. I believe the last time I saw you, you said quite enough to last me for the rest of my life. Get out of Sunnydale, Angel. You don't belong here. Go home and don't come back."
The sound of his own words from her lips and the cold angry look on her face hurt him more than he allowed himself to let on. He swallowed his pride and spoke quietly. "I came here to apologize. You were right, everything you said was the truth…."
She interrupted. "What? Did you think I was lying? Is that why you chose to believe a vicious, lying, conniving person like Faith instead of me, the woman you claimed to love?"
He would not allow himself to stoop to anger or jealousy at this point. He knew she was right. "She seriously injured Wesley and nearly killed Cordelia before the Council guys showed up and took her. I couldn't stop them."
If Buffy heard what he said about the Council taking Faith, she ignored it. "Wesley and Cordelia are all right now?" she asked, concerned.
"Yes. They're recuperating nicely."
"Giles called the hospital to check on Wesley when he heard from the Council regarding Faith's capture. We didn't know that Cordelia was hurt."
"Buffy, I can't tell you how sorry I am that I didn't believe you. I was so blind. I was so interested in piling up points in the plus column for myself that I wasn't thinking straight. I thought I could help everyone. I…"
"Angel, don't, okay? Just don't say anymore. Tell Wesley and Cordy that I'm happy to hear that they are going to be all right. Goodbye, Angel."
"No. It's over. I can't take any more. Please leave."
Angel left Buffy's dorm room that night with his head down. Buffy was right. It was over. Everything was over. He would never return to Sunnydale.
Buffy closed the door after Angel. Tears blinded her as she stumbled back to her bed. It was over. Everything was over. She would never see Angel again.
When Angel returned to LA after leaving Buffy that night, all he could think about was how he had screwed up and what he could do to get Buffy back. He was willing to do anything just to have her forgiveness, her friendship, her love, but he knew it was useless. He had never seen Buffy so hard, so cold, so resigned to defeat, as she was that night. Her energy, her zest for life, the spark that set her apart from everyone else he had ever met were gone, and it was his fault; he blamed himself.
He determined that, if he could not have her in his life, he could at least continue the fight that he had started because of her.
Years passed. Angel decided he would no longer charge people for helping them and he would accept gifts for his services only when people felt it was absolutely necessary. Wesley agreed with him and together they continued to protect LA from things that went bump in the night.
Cordelia decided that she could not stay on without a definite income. With encouragement and support from Angel and Wesley she took acting lessons and experienced small success doing television commercials. She finally gave up on an acting career and ended up as a personal shopper in women's retail, a position she really enjoyed and for which she was more than qualified. She eventually met and married a wealthy older man and they had three little girls.
Wesley married a young woman that he and Angel had rescued from a gang of vampires. They have two children.
After two new members, Charles Gunn (Gunn as he preferred to be called) and Winifred (Fred) Burkel, joined the team, the four of them were able to continue the fight against evil as well as turn the business into a profitable daytime venture. Gunn and Fred married; they also have two children.
Ten years after Whistler brought him to LA, Angel was called before the Oracles, the beings who speak for The Powers That Be. He did not know what to expect. The last time he heard from the Oracles was when his friend Doyle was alive and that was many years before.
When he returned to the office, Wesley was waiting for him; he wanted to know what happened. Angel ignored him and proceeded to his room and closed the door, indicating that he did not want to be disturbed.
Wesley knew this signal well. Over the years Angel had tried to move on after his breakup with Buffy, but Wesley knew that Angel's heart would always belong to the Sunnydale slayer.
In his room Angel was crowded in a corner with his knees pulled up to his chest, his head on his knees and he was crying bitter tears. He had been granted his humanity, but what good was it, when the love of his heart was lost to him forever?
Buffy told her friends, Willow, Xander, Giles, Anya, and Tara, what had happened in LA and about Angel's visit. They rallied around her and it was due to their friendship and moral support that Buffy was eventually able to get on with her life without Angel.
She had nightmares at first; that day in LA played over and over during her sleeping and waking hours. She blamed herself; her reaction was too harsh and she was too unforgiving when Angel came to her asking for her forgiveness. She determined that she would have the normal life that he wanted for her.
Years passed. From all outward appearances Buffy achieved that normal life. She dated, she picnicked in the sun and she graduated from college with honors. Her friends all stayed in Sunnydale and with the help of her two witch friends, Willow and Tara, the Hellmouth was permanently closed.
The expanded Scooby gang all graduated from UC Sunnydale and Giles and Buffy's mother, Joyce, were married two weeks after Buffy graduated from college. Buffy joined her mother in running the expanded Sunnydale Art Gallery.
All during her college years she continued to patrol and fight evil on the Hellmouth. No one knew that the Watchers' Council had intervened and cleared her of all charges with the Sunnydale police department.
Three weeks before Buffy's twenty-third birthday, Giles received a formal request from the Watchers' Council asking for an audience with him and Buffy "to discuss a subject of utmost importance".
Intrigued, Buffy and Giles agreed.
The new Council head and five Council members came to Sunnydale with a proposal: On the tenth anniversary of the date Buffy was called as a slayer she could, at her discretion, continue as the slayer on the Hellmouth, retire from being a slayer all together, or retire from active duty but continue as an adviser to future slayers. Regardless of her decision, she would receive substantial payments for the rest of her life in thanks for years of outstanding service on the Hellmouth.
Buffy's decision was to retire from active duty but to continue as an adviser to future slayers.
Before she gave them her decision, she wanted to know what had happened to Faith. She learned that Faith had been stripped of her slayer powers, mind-wiped (memory erased) and given new memories and a new identity. She was now living a quiet normal life in London.
By her twenty-fifth birthday all of Buffy's friends were either married or in committed relationships. Buffy had received at least three marriage proposals; she had turned them all down. Though she dated often, true love seemed to have eluded her. When asked about it, her answer was always the same: "I haven't found the right man yet, but I'm still looking."
Her closest friends knew the real reason. After all these years Buffy was still in love with Angel, the man (vampire) she had fallen in love with when she was a teenager and whom she would love for the rest of her life. Of course they never mentioned this to Buffy.
To celebrate her retirement as an active slayer Willow, Tara and Anya decided to treat Buffy to a 3-day weekend in LA that included a spa day, shopping, and hitting the clubs at night. The girls were excited about their trip and decided to leave Thursday night so they could get an early start and spend all day Friday shopping.
Everyone was anxious to drive Buffy's new Rolls Royce (given to her courtesy of the Watchers' Council) so they agreed on a schedule by drawing straws. Willow's turn was first; she drove to LA from Sunnydale, Tara would drive on Friday, Anya on Saturday, and Buffy would drive the return trip home on Sunday.
They had reserved a suite and after getting lost in the city twice before finding the hotel, they were pleasantly surprised to find it included two huge bedrooms each with 2 queen-sized beds and all of the amenities. Two large bathrooms each with hot tubs, saunas and the biggest two-person bathtubs they had ever seen connected the bedrooms.
"Tell me this is real," said Anya, closing her eyes; "I don't want to open my eyes and find out I imagined all of this."
"It's real," Buffy squealed; "it is so real."
Things went well on Friday and the girls enjoyed themselves immensely. At the spa on Saturday the girls had been plucked, buffed and pampered and were completely relaxed and enjoying their favorite coolers, when they heard the squeal of a voice they never expected.
"Buffy, Willow, what the hell are you guys doing here?"
Willow spoke first, in a not entirely pleasant voice. "It's nice to see you, too, Cordelia."
Cordelia realized how she had sounded and apologized. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded. It was just such a surprise to see you here. What has it been? Seven years?" she asked, looking directly at Buffy.
"Seven and a half years to be exact," Buffy answered, raising her glass in Cordelia's direction.
"That tells me you guys are celebrating something. What is it?"
"It's my formal retirement as active slayer on the Hellmouth."
Cordelia joined the girls at their table without being invited. "My gods, Buffy, you made it; I'm so happy for you."
"Thanks. You remember Anya from high school, and this is Tara. Tara this is Cordelia, we all attended the same high school."
"Hey Anya, nice to meet you Tara. Look, you guys, all of you, consider today at the spa on me; it's my treat."
"Thanks, Cordelia, but we couldn't; that would cost you a small mint."
"Of course you can, besides, it's my spa."
"I own this spa. It was a gift from my husband; he's loaded."
Buffy laughed for the first time since seeing Cordelia. "Leave it to Queen C to not only find a rich husband, but her own beauty spa as well."
With that the ice was broken. The girls spent the next two hours getting reacquainted and catching each other up on what had been going on in LA and Sunnydale.
Cordelia noticed the look on Buffy's face whenever Angel's name was mentioned. She felt for sure that what she was seeing on Buffy's face was the same thing that she saw on Angel's face whenever Buffy's name was mentioned.
Angel was her friend and she knew that she had never seen him truly happy. For someone who had dedicated himself to protecting and serving humanity, didn't he deserve a little happiness?
And Buffy, she had risked her life on a nightly basis for ten years to rid a mostly oblivious world of evil and had averted an apocalypse who knows how many times; didn't she deserve a little happiness, too?
Cordelia determined to do something about getting these two back together. 'Well, here I am, Queen C to the rescue,' she thought.
"Cordelia, are you all right?"
She heard Buffy's voice through the fog that was her mind. "What? Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot I had a meeting that I need to attend. Listen, would all of you like to have dinner with my husband and me tonight?"
The others hesitated.
"Oh come on, I want to show off my house."
The girls laughed, looked at each other and nodded.
"Great. I'll have the directions waiting for you at the front desk and I'll see you about seven-ish. Sorry I have to jet. Bye."
Cordelia left the spa in a hurry. 'I have so much to do before tonight. I need to somehow get Angel to my house tonight before seven o'clock. I know; I'll get Wesley to help me.'
When Anya pulled up to the gated estate described in the directions they had received at the front desk at the spa, they were sure that they were at the wrong place. However, the guards at the gate were expecting them and gave them additional directions to get up to the house.
Anya was really impressed as they drove up the winding road leading to the estate. "Wow, this place is huge; it looks like it is twice as big as the Crawford Street mansion."
"Well, Cordelia said that her husband was loaded and she wanted to show off her house. I guess she was right," Willow said as she strained to see from the back seat.
There were guards along the road that further directed them as they traveled. By the time Anya cut the engine there was a valet at each door to escort them out of the car.
'I could so get used to this,' Buffy thought to herself.
Cordelia met them at the door. She hugged Buffy and Willow and warmly greeted Anya and Tara. "Dinner is at eight, does anyone want something to drink, come on let me show you around." Cordelia babbled non-stop as they toured the mansion.
"Oh, Buffy, check out my gym. It could accommodate all of the LA Lakers and then some. What do you think?"
"You guys go ahead. I think I'm in love with…Angel?" Buffy's voice trailed off as she came face to face with Angel, who seemed to be equally stunned to see her.
"Buffy," he whispered when he regained his voice.
"What are you doing here?" they asked simultaneously.
Both turned to look at Cordelia who had mysteriously disappeared along with her other guests.
Buffy gave a long sigh. "I think we have been set up," she said with a wry smile.
Angel smiled too. "Cordy's up to her matchmaking schemes again. I thought she had given up on me."
"So this is nothing new for you?"
"No, unfortunately, it seems that every other time she invites me over she has a different woman here for me to meet. That's why I almost didn't come tonight."
Buffy's face fell.
He took both her hands in his. "Now I am so glad that I did."
Buffy started to speak and then jerked her hands away as if she had been burned. "ANGEL, YOUR HANDS ARE WARM. HOW ARE YOUR HANDS WARM?" She asked backing away from him.
"I'm human, Buffy. I was given my humanity on the tenth anniversary of the day you were called to be a slayer."
Buffy couldn't believe it. "Angel, I was released from active duty as a slayer on the same day."
At that moment they both realized the significance of what had happened to them. It seemed that not just Cordelia, but the Powers themselves had intervened.
Buffy approached him and put her hand over his heart. She gasped and couldn't control the tears that ran down her face. Her voice hitched as she tried to control her speech. "I remember. I said that I would never forget and I did. I'm so sorry."
He gathered her in his arms. "Shh…shh, it's all right. It's not your fault. You weren't supposed to remember. The Oracles saw to it that you would not remember."
By now Angel was crying as well. They sank to the floor still holding each other and together they wept for mistakes made, years lost and time wasted. They were both ashamed of their actions all those years ago and both begged for and were given forgiveness.
Neither knew how long they sat there holding each other. Neither wanted to let go of the other. She pulled away so that each could look into the other's face. What each saw answered any questions they might have had and, as their lips met in a sweet kiss, they determined that nothing would ever separate them again.