Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy: the Vampire Slayer or Angel. That's Josh Whedon. This set during the Angel Season 5 episodes of Hole in the World and Shells.
What You Really Are
By: David Knight
Chapter One: Revealing
That's how long it had been since she had gotten the news. News that had made her gone off grid while she tried to figure out how to deal with or, even as she foolishly thought, tried to forget it.
But she couldn't, and it was eating away at her, what she knew, what she didn't. There was only one way to find out for sure what had been done to her but she couldn't let the others know about it.
It had taken her months to track her down to Rio without tipping the Council off, but she had to do this without them being aware, at least for the moment.
After all, she thought as she knocked on the door, how can you expect people you've known and fought with for years to deal with the news that you don't think you're human?
Willow Rosenberg rolled her eyes when she heard the knock at the door of her apartment. At first, she wondered if Kennedy had forgotten something. It was only five minutes after she left to pick up groceries. Then she realized that she wouldn't be knocking on the door, she'd be using her key to get in. Getting up off the couch, she walked to the door but didn't open it. "Yes?"
"You have any idea how hard it is to find you when you want to have privacy, Red?"
Willow's eyes went wide as she couldn't but be surprised as she opened the door. She wasn't sure which she was more surprised about. Being found, the person at the door, or the fact said person was looking at her with a serious expression on her face, instead of her usual smirk. "Faith?"
The dark Slayer simply stared back at Willow, looking at her with a serious expression. "Can we talk, Red?"
"Yeah, of course," She moved back and opened the door fully, letting Faith walk inside the apartment. Once inside, Willow closed it. "Kennedy's out on a grocery run at the moment."
"Good. I wanted it to be just you I started baring out my soul with first."
Willow blinked hearing Faith say that, looking at her slouched in the couch, hands cupping her chin. "What's going on Faith? No one has heard much from you in months, just that you're doing the lone Slayer bit." She took a seat opposite of Faith, so that she could look directly at her. "But you are acting so unlike yourself I doubt that's what you've been doing. And now suddenly, you come out of the blue to me? Why?"
Faith didn't respond. To Willow, it seemed like she was just trying to figure out how to say something that seemed to be just eating away at her. Finally, after letting out a rather long sigh, Faith began to speak. "You remember about a year ago when you helped Angel get his soul back in LA?"
"Yeah. I do," Willow replied. She hadn't seen or heard from Angel since then. She had heard that he had taken control of the LA Branch of Wolfram & Hart, for reasons no one was able to deduce and no one was trying to communicate. Well other than that one case with that mentally disturbed slayer.
"There's something I haven't said though, about what happened."
Willow's eyes went up, looking at the brunette slayer, whose facial expressions were clearly wrestling with the idea of sharing this information. Sighing deeply, Faith began to explain.
"My blood isn't the same as the rest of the Slayers. That's what Angelus said to me nearly a year ago..."
Faith felt the fangs dig into her skin, even as the effect of Orpheus in her blood was already affecting her. She could only hope it would affect Angelus just as quickly.
Only problem was she was still being drained.
She felt herself finally get pushed back with great force, falling to the ground, finding herself looking up at an astonished Angelus, his eyes wide with shock and surprise. Feeling it now are you, she thought to herself.
She found herself frightened by the wide smile on her face. "God what are you made of Faithy?" The way he said it, it sounded like her blood had been the sweetest thing he had drank ever. "You don't taste like the rest. Every last one, even Buffy tasted the same but you, even with this other taste..." he faltered as she saw him stagger. "What... what is..." Now she saw horror written on his face. "You spiked your... you..." he then fell to the ground unconscious.
Faith heard Wesley tumble off the scaffolding, crashing to the floor. "You all right?" she heard him ask her.
For show, she managed to give the impression of a smile, even while she was fading out of consciousness herself. "Kicked his ass," she said, right before her eyes rolled up into her head and she fell over unconscious.
Afraid of what he had said to her.
Willow sat back in her couch, listening to this. Faith wasn't Buffy, but the idea of what she was getting at. "Did Angel happen to explain what his evil alter ego meant?"
"Not at first," Faith answered. "Bear in mind there was the First to deal with, wasn't even sure I would survive my return trip to the Hellmouth, but probably wouldn't have if he had told me what it meant. So he promised me he'd explain when it was all said and done."
"I was fine with that really. Dealing with the First and its minions took my whole attention away from the issue. Even after we won, I really wasn't in any hurry so I threw myself into the G-man's request to work with a few of our Hellmouth survivors, but you already knew that."
Willow had a slight smirk on her face. "Yeah. You should know Violet's leading the pack now."
Faith blinked for a moment before smirking. "Damn. Vi's gotten that good?" Violet 'Vi' Larkin had been one of the potentials that had come to Sunnydale looking for protection. While most of the potentials initially were wary of her, due in no small part to Andrew's giving a skewed impression of her. Vi however had been brave enough to ask her for training. Even after her short lived term as leader (which she had never really felt right about) and Buffy came back, everything went back to the status quo.
Not with Vi. Vi was still the same, looking to Faith as a friend, despite knowing her past. It was a very good feeling for her. Something she didn't want to lose when they went into the Hellmouth. They fought together as much as they could down there and it was by skill and luck that they had survived.
Returning to the present, her happy thoughts were quashed. "I really should have kept in better contact, but I've been too afraid."
Willow leaned back slightly, looking at Faith closely as while she had no idea what it was specifically that had unnerved Faith, she could guess at whom it was that told her. "When did Angel tell you?"
"Seven weeks later, after we all learned about his new job."
Faith looked over the now deserted Hyperion Hotel, opening the front doors and saw Angel sitting down on the steps, as if awaiting judgment.
"Wolfram and Hart, are you freaking kidding me?" she snapped. "You and the rest of your crew took up running their law firm."
"Just the one in this city," Angel said curtly. He really didn't want to discuss this much. "Faith..." He stopped when seeing her raise a hand.
"Just stop okay! I get what you are thinking and I think it's insane and asking you to let them kill you!" She had felt like she had gotten punched in the gut when she first heard the news. Only after having time to actually think did she understand somewhat his reasoning. "Are you just that tired of fighting them head on that you're willing to risk this suicide gambit?"
There was a tense silence between the two friends, Faith standing there looking at the person that she owed her life to, praying he could give an answer that would make to sense to the others.
Finally, he stood up, walking towards her. "We all have our reasons. I need you to accept it and leave it at that, Faith. Please."
She stared into his eyes and knew no matter what she said, it wasn't going to change his mind. "You do realize that the Watchers think you've gone over to the Dark Side right? As long as you are running that place, they will give you the cold shoulder and be freezing you out." A smirk formed on her lips. "But like I said, that's them, not me."
Angel allowed himself a slight smile. "I'm glad for that at least."
Faith lost her smirk. It was time to get to the real matter at hand. "So, we both got time now to deal with crap without having any apocalypses being shoved in our faces. You ready to tell me what Angelus meant when he said I didn't taste like the rest? Did he mean the rest of the slayers? Was he talking about Buffy?"
Angel didn't make eye contact with her for a few moments, as if he was debating whether or not to tell her. Finally he spoke. "Your blood, Faith. It not only doesn't taste like anything I've ever drank before, it doesn't taste like a Slayer's blood... or a human's blood."
Faith stared at her friend for the longest time, trying to wrap her brain around what he just said. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? I am human."
"Yes you are, and I can taste partially human blood in your veins," Angel said slowly.
Angel grimaced as explaining the particulars of vampire feeding was not something he liked to do. "Vampires when drinking blood can know what someone is by taste, able to see what is and isn't, and able to recognize that type by memory, provided that they've fed on it once before." He looked back her, looking as confused and uncertain as she did. "Your blood, it tastes how a half-breed's would be."
"And you know that because?"
"Angelus fed on a half breed demon/human who was living among humans, thought he was and stopped drinking when felt the taste... made him sick," Angel explained, definitely sounding disgusted by having to relive it.
Faith stared at him wide eyed and scared. "Are you telling me that I'm part..."
"Demon? No," Angel said, trying to give her some peace of mind but knew it wouldn't be much if any. "I know that half the blood in your veins is human. The other half... I can only say it's neither human nor demon. I wish I knew what it was Faith, I really do, but I don't."
Faith stood there mute, letting it all sink in. Yet even as she did, she looked back into his eyes knew there was more to say.
"This new job has some advantages, like finding medical records on your parents."
"As if I need to know anything about them," Faith sneered, her parents always a sore spot with her. "My father died in prison and my mom was a screw up. She let her loser boyfriend use her six ways to Sunday, got her hooked up on drugs. She died of an overdose while I was in JV, right before my future watcher took custody of me."
"She also never gave birth. Ever."
Her head turned sharply, looking towards Angel with disbelieving eyes, yet in even more disbelief by the words she uttered. "... what?"
"She never gave birth. No hospital has any record of your mother giving birth. Your own birth certificate does list your mother as your mother, while leaving the father as a total blank," he explained, hesitating for a moment. As she looked back into them, she could feel he was sorry for what he was about to say, but knew he had too. "But this document was created seventeen years ago, seven years after your listed birth date."
Faith couldn't take it, as it finally hit her. She felt her knees give out and she fell to the ground in utter shock. A lie... everything about me... is a lie? It had to be some sick joke, like Wolfram and Hart screwing with her.
But she knew Angel. She knew he'd go over everything himself, using his own sources to double check on something like this.
So then, who were my parents, my birth parents? Was I stolen or did they even want me? She felt her mind racing with so many questions, questions she wished she never needed to know but it all came back to her blood as terror gripped her as she now fully accepted the truth. "What am I?"
Angel became concerned, hearing how fragile Faith sounded with she said that. He knew the shock of learning this much about her would be great, but looking at her now. "Faith," he said gently, moving his hand to put on her shoulder to try to reassure her, only to see her jerk away from him.
"You can't help me figure out how to feel about this, Angel," the dark Slayer said tersely. "Not this time."
"Where are you going?"
"...I don't know. I honestly don't know." She said simply as she turned her back to him. "Don't follow me."
She could feel his gaze on her back as she left the grounds of the hotel, knowing even though it was unsaid not to tell B and the others what he told her. He knew she wasn't going to off herself. It would be an insult to everything she'd gone through, to everything everyone had gone for her.
She had no idea how long she had been walking till she found a hotel, got a room and then locked door.
All she knew was once it closed she finally allowed herself do the one thing she tried so very hard not to do in life.
Willow didn't know what to say. What could you possibly say to someone after hearing that? And yet, who could blame her for going off the grid for all these months if they only... Her eyes widened in realization. "You... you were afraid of us?"
Faith bowed her head slightly, refusing to make eye contact. "You know how the potentials felt about me at first, save for Vi. And forget about how the old gang feels about me. How do I suddenly tell you all that I'm not human?"
She felt Willow lift up her head, and stare at her intently. "I'd say you're thick in the head as usual. I'd say you're one of us, human, part human or no human." She rolled her eyes at the Slayer. "I mean, it's not as if we don't have anything against non-humans."
After Willow let go of her chin, Faith let out a long sigh as she sank back into the couch. "Okay. Maybe I've been a bit thick." She admitted. "I was scared. So very scared of how anyone of you would react."
"So you chose to run and keep communication to a minimum instead of talking," Willow said, while wondering why brooding loners always had to smash their heads against walls before eventually going to seek help.
Faith nodded. "I ran. Ran as fast and as far as I possibly could. I threw my self into demon nests, to throw myself into the work and not really deal with it, deluding myself into thinking that I could forget I ever found this out and just go back to believing myself to be human and trying to make some sort of life for myself... but then came the dreams."
"At first, I thought they were slayer dreams, given how freaky they are. I mean, I see demons in them," She looked up at Willow, eyes focused. "Except I'm not in any place I know of. The landscape, its too surreal. Slayer dreams make me feel like I'm in places I've been in, but these..." she shook her head, wishing for the umpteenth time she could erase the images from her mind but couldn't. "These dreams are not Slayer dreams. Something's wrong with me."
"And that's why you are here," Willow realized, standing upright. "You think you might have been hexed?"
"It makes a lot of sense in my mind," Faith said. "Can you find out?"
"I'll try." The red-haired witch began looking over Faith now with a focus and concentration she reserved for spell casting. Right now, she was looking over Faith in a way she hadn't done before, to see if there was any magic at all. It wouldn't be that hard to determine if there was anything other than what she would register as the Slayer over her, just as it was with every other Slayer.
Only when she looked, what should be the Slayer part of her didn't feel the same. The only reason she even knew this was because of what she did to spread the gift to all the Potentials and make them Slayers. Any other mystic that tried to read Faith wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.
It was because of that difference that she had the insight to look deep under the surface to look what else could be out of place. "It's subtle, barely noticeable, but I can see it now," She said, looking over to Faith, trying to hide her surprise at this. "You have a glamour spell placed over you."
Willow hesitated for a moment, but she knew this was what Faith had come here to find out. "It's basically a spell used to give someone the illusion of the appearance of someone or something else. It's been there for years, a lot of them." She revealed, studying the brunette's stare, trying to judge her reaction.
Willow shook her head, as she wasn't sure now was the best time to try to barrel through such unknown magic. "Faith we don't know what we'd be doing once it's broken. I mean, who knows what..."
"Break it!" Faith screamed, standing up and staring right at her. "Willow I'm starting to even question my own sanity, my own identity! Good or bad I need to know what was done to me!"
It was that look of desperation and fear in Faith's eyes that made Willow realize she only had one option. Pulling her cell phone out of her pocket, she hit one on her speed dial. "Kennedy. I need you back here. Now."
A half an hour later and Kennedy was still shaking her head as she looked at the sight in front of her. Faith sitting cross-legged in a rune circle that Willow had drawn on the floor.
"Can I say what a really bad idea this is?" Kennedy said aloud. "You want to mess with something on Faith, who has been gone for months, and not even call up Buffy or Giles. Don't you think it's better if we tell them..."
"If I wanted anyone to know, I would have told them months ago," Faith interjected. "I want this over and done with. You're here for Willow's protection, just in case."
"Way to make me feel comfortable about all this," Kennedy grumbled as she moved behind her girlfriend, who was finishing up her preparations.
"You absolutely sure?" Willow asked the older Slayer.
Faith's response was grim. "Do it."
Willow nodded, closing her eyes as she started to chanting, using her powers to try and break the glamour. Yet it wasn't going to be easy. It was hard to notice it and yet it was protected so well. She felt herself drawing upon her more powerful magics. My hair's probably going to change colors, she mused before noticing a white glow pulsating around Faith's body. It kept getting brighter and larger as the glamour started to crack...
Until a blinding white light filled the entire room and Willow and Kennedy were knocked down to the floor.
"Willow!" Kennedy shouted, moving quickly to get to witch, helping her up. "Are you alright?"
"Goddess, what kind of being would put something like that on..." Willow stopped speaking once she looked at where Faith had been and where she still was.
But she was definitely not the same.
Faith felt Willow's magic working on her, and then all of a sudden she felt the snap, as if glass was shattering. Other than that, there was nothing profound that she felt. Rather anti-climatic if you ask me.
"So... who are you?"
The dark haired slayer frowned when she heard Kennedy ask that, but then again, she could have thought it had made her be someone else mentally. "I'm Faith Lehane. Who else would I be?" As she looked at her and Willow, she saw their stunned faces. "What? What is it, cause I gotta tell you, I felt absolutely nothing."
"Actually… something," Willow said hesitantly.
Worried for a moment, Faith looked at her body and saw she was still human. "What's the something?"
"Well, there really isn't any bad news, just how you perceive it," Willow started to say. "We definitely know it wasn't some sort of personality spell at least. It apparently just changed your appearance."
"My appearance?" Faith asked. "What is that supposed to..." She stopped as she saw her reflection in the glass table and simply let her mouth hang open.
She could have never expected this. It was still her, she could see that, but everything else had changed. Her hair color had changed from its normal dark brown to a shade of orange-brown, similarly her eyes had gone from hazel to dark green.
But it was these two points that were poking out the top of her hair that made her think they were horns. She grabbed at them only to yelp in pain. "Oh you have got to be kidding me."
She pushed aside her hair on either side until she could see her ears. Her long, pointed ears.
The whole idea was absolutely ridiculous to consider, especially considering how she remember Giles once said that they did not exist at all. Yet Faith couldn't deny what she saw. Or Willow when she finally worked up the nerve to say it.
"You're... you're an elf!"
Author's Notes: Weren't expecting that were you? Feel free to send questions and comments.