Chapter Three : Glass Houses
Disclaimer : I don't own Angel. Never did. Never will.
Characters : Angel, Faith, Connor
Warning : Course Language, Violence
Author's Notes : Almost 5 months have passed since Angel did the spell.
Many thanks to fuffylover.
Summary : She owed the universe a big one, Faith figured. That is why they had given Connor to her. An eternity later, they want her to give him back.
"Look, kid, how many times do I have to tell you? Don't call me that!"
Large blue eyes stared back at her, brimming with tears. The three year old nodded before bowing his head to stare at his bare feet. Cursing inwardly, Faith sighed and crouched in front of him, tipping the boy's chin up and forcing him to look her squarely in the face.
Her voice and her expression softened. "I'm not trying to hurt your feelings or anything but I'm not your Momma, Connor. Don't know what else to tell you but that's the hand we're dealt. Nothing we can do about it, okay?"
"Okay." His bottom lip quivered but he nodded nonetheless.
"I'm just Faith, you hear?"
Something inside of Faith twisted at the expression he wore and she pulled the little boy into her arms, patting his small back gently. Connor burrowed his face into her shoulder, wrapping his small arms around Faith's neck, chubby hands digging into the curls of her hair.
"Just Faith." He repeated after her softly.
"But it doesn't mean that I don't love you, kid. Because I do. I'm not supposed to but...I do. And I swear, I won't leave you. Just don't call me that again."
She had gone to see him.
Faith went because Angel was not looking and even if he was, he would not have been able to stop her. She went because there was no rule against it. Because it was in her nature to disobey, to go against the grain and test the limits of those around her.
She went because she was beginning to unravel and her sanity was cracking.
Because Buffy's war had proven to be an inadequate distraction. Because the knowledge of Dawn's true identity had given Faith an extra dose of emotional trauma and sent her closer to the edge. Because the First had taunted her about it and had asked her if she was sure Connor even existed in the first place.
She went because even when the Slayer War was won, months later the First's voice still rang loudly in her ears and the memory of three year old Connor calling her Momma kept replaying in her head.
Faith went because no one remembered Connor. No one questioned her presence or Angel's ceaseless need to know her whereabouts and movements. Even Wesley, their resident Judas, lived blissfully unaware of his betrayal to Angel.
And Faith was slowly starting to believe she was crazy.
Waiting was no longer an option.
So Faith went and found Connor and realized it was a colossal mistake.
Angel had reduced him to an average college student. A well-dressed, polite teenager on the cusp of adulthood who was lost on his first day of college and had ran right smack into her in his hurried and frantic state. He had apologized incessantly, for the coffee he spilled all over her, mortified with himself. And he had looked her in the face, recognition never settling in his eyes.
Connor called her ma'am and Faith hated the kid.
She returned to Los Angeles by foot, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake, which she either slept with or killed. Some both.
Angel sent a team to retrieve her- to bring her home, just as she was three miles outside of the city. Faith beat every one of the men bloody - save for one - to drive the team back to HQ and to tell Angel to fuck off.
She found her way to the Hyperion eventually and settled there, even in its demolished condition, because the faint traces of Connor's presence still lingered in the rooms. Because she had to remind herself that after a year passes, she would have him back.
Wolfram and Hart was not an option. It was too close to Angel and his presence taunted the killer inside of Faith too much, dared her to just kill him because she can and she wanted to.
And Faith could not go any further than the Hyperion because despite all her rage towards Angel, the knowledge that the only other person who remembered Connor was only a short distance away brought some semblance of comfort to her. That she was not as crazy as she felt.
Instead, she avoided him and sought any physical contact she could find around her, whether it was a fight or a fuck. It made no difference to Faith. So when the first stranger came looking for Angel Investigations with a problem that needed fixing, Faith took the job even if she never believed in the cause.
She saw the size of the fight instead.
Angel heard the commotion, the sound of screaming and yelling rising over the telltale signs of a struggle. His mind immediately went to Faith and his footsteps hastened. He rounded the corner of the hotel, bracing himself for a fight, and as he ran through the front door, Angel saw the two by four connect with the back of Faith's skull with a resounding crack.
The wood splintered and broke into half just as Faith's legs buckled beneath her, sending her crashing in the middle of the Hyperion lobby. Her attacker moved quickly and connected a foot with Faith's shoulder, breaking bones in the process.
Faith screamed and in a flash, Angel lunged at the assailant.
They crashed and rolled over each other in a struggle for dominance. The sounds of screaming increased and the group that had crowded around Faith while she was being attacked was suddenly scrambling and participating in the fight.
Angel ducked, punched and kicked his way through the tangle of limbs and weapons.
"Stop!" Faith's voice boomed and surprisingly the room stilled. "Fun's over. Out! Now!" At her command, everyone dispersed, leaving Angel bewildered. The man, Faith's primary attacker, shoved Angel away roughly and straightened himself with a huff before he walked towards the woman he was previously assaulting.
Angel started but Faith raised her hand in protest. He watched as the man, towering Faith by a good two feet, bowed his head next to hers. "You got this?"
She nodded, bruised lips pursed tightly. With one last sharp glance at Angel, the other man left the room.
"What the hell was that?"
"You're asking me? I thought he was goin to kill you!" Angel blanched. Faith merely shrugged, dug a cigarette from her pocket and lit it.
"Invincible, remember?" She said after a beat.
"Faith, what the hell is going on?"
Her eyes narrowed. "Shouldn't you be on the other side of town, Angel? Last I checked, you were shaking hands with the devil and getting yourself new and shiny chrome and glass as a reward."
"What are you doing here?"
"I was worried."
Faith huffed and smoke blew past her lips, spreading out and in front of her. "You're not my keeper. And don't you have people to do that for you now? To worry for you? And check on your enemies?"
"You're not my enemy."
"That's where you're wrong, sweetheart."
Angel watched her sadly, watched the hardness that had destroyed all the progress they made together. Almost two centuries may have passed for Faith but in his reality, in this dimension, Angel had seen Faith just days before Darla returned.
And then everything unravelled. Darla was gone. Connor was stolen. And Faith was taken, given another purpose without Angel becoming the least bit suspicious.
He had not even known that she was gone until the wide, gnawing portal hovering above the lobby of the Hyperion spat her and Connor back out. Angel had barely recognized her because she had looked so feral, so wild with her hair unkept and long, skin muddied and caked with dirt, and the animal hide wrapped haphazzardly around her body. She looked almost demonic, until she screamed Connor's name and her voice registered in Angel's brain.
Now, Angel realized with a pang of sadness that he had unknowingly built Faith up just to tear her back down. They were becoming friends before, Angel was sure of that, but the Powers had others plans for them and as a result destroyed everything they had worked to gain.
Something in his expression startled Faith and her resolve faltered slightly.
"Scotch?" She offered and Angel nodded wordlessly. He watched as she pulled the bottle from behind the counter and took two long gulps from it. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she handed it to Angel.
"Who are they? The people?"
Faith shrugged as she leaned against a pillar. "Don't know and don't care. Just squatting here, I guess. I went on a run and the two blue ones - the twins - were here by the time I got back. Told them they could stay so long as they don't try to kill me or bring their kill here."
"Some of your clients came by. Guess they didn't get the forwarding address."
A small smile tugged at his lips. "And you took the jobs? You took care of them? Really?" Angel passed the bottle to her.
"I took care of no one. They pointed and I shot. No questions asked." Faith insisted vehemently, clearly repulsed by the idea. "The big one, the one getting his jollies by kicking the crap out of me, followed me all the way home after I killed his boss. Hasn't left since."
Angel frowned. "That's...creepy."
"Something about debt and life and gratitude." Faith waved it off absently, taking another slow drag of the cigarette in her hand. "The others just got here last week."
"Is this what you want?"
"Do you really need to ask that?" Faith retorted hotly, eyes flashing menacingly at him. She shoved the bottle at his chest forcefully.
"You can come home, Faith. With me." He suggested.
"No home here, Angel. Home's where....the kid is. And you took that away, remember?" She sneered.
He scoffed and handed the bottle back to her with as much force as she had given. The liquid sloshed violently at the rim, spilling. "How many times are we going to have this conversation, Faith? I thought you understood. I thought we were moving past this."
Faith shook her head at him. "You made him so normal. A pathetic little human kid who doesn't even know what he's capable of! He's better than that!"
"He isn't pathetic. And he deserves a normal life, Faith. You know this as much as I do!"
"What I know is that he belongs with me!" She practically shrieked. "If you, his own father, could send him away then you never deserved him in the first place!"
Angel's face suddenly transformed and the demon snarled at Faith, fangs bared.
Then he lunged at her.
Hint: Angel and Faith won't be fighting for a while.