Disclaimer: Faith, Angel, and Buffy belong to Joss Whedon. Joss is Goddess. No money is being made from this story, none is wanted, and suing me is going to get you 2 bucks and some pocket lint.

Notes: This is based on a dream Lynxie had, with the ending by me. I'm not sure how it stands up in canon, but some time during Angel's second season--after, um... The one with Anne. Were there two? I don't remember, I just know it's after the Zombie Precinct. The Latin word claims to mean 'undo'. Which, y'know, is what's needed.

This is R-ish. The title is from Garbage's 'When I Grow Up'

Dedication: To Lynx. Sorry it took so long. Hope you like the end.

Rip It All To Shreds And Let It Go
by Ana Lyssie Cotton

The sky was overcast, deep greys blending into an unending dome of silvery misty blah. Faith stepped out into it and adjusted her sunglasses. Sunlight, even cloudy sunlight, was painful to eyes that had been inside a jail cell for the last eight months.

Los Angeles looked no different from the last time she'd seen it outside of prison walls. Same dank streets, same posers trying to act cool, same cars driving too fast, same-- Faith backed up that train of thought and raised an eyebrow at the black car which was following her as she walked down the street.

She put some swagger into her stride and wandered over to it. The window rolled down as she approached, "Can I--Oh. It's you."

"Get in."

"Last time you said something like that, you kept taking the sharp objects away from me."

Angel snorted, "Just get in."

"Right, right." She opened the door, ducked under the top and landed on the leather seats with a soft sigh. "So. Why you? And how, during daylight?"

"Overcast. Tinted windows." He replied tersely as he maneuvered back into traffic.

"Uhuh." Faith flipped her dark hair behind her and watched out the window as they traveresed various streets before hopping on the highway. "And... Where are we going?"

"There's a vampire cult we need to remove from existance."

"And why not use your tagalong friends?"

"Wes was shot. Gunn's doing things with his peeps. Cordy..."

"Too wimpy to involve. Right."

Angel didn't answer verbally. But the convertible sped up, taking them out of the city and into the dusty countryside. With the overcastness an illusion was created, that the dry earth was somehow lush and fertile. Brown trees and grass became mysteriously green, bluish trunks and branches standing out against the grey sky.

Bands of pink and red echoed out from the far desert, deepening to maroon, then to a colour that was almost dried blood. Right about then, Angel took an offramp that led into a quiet and sleepy little town. Its population was probably barely one thousand. There was even a town square, silent and deserted. A church blocked out one side, the spire rising into the darkening sky like a foreboding insect. A school dominated the side across from it, blocky and grey in the light. Faith had the sudden thought that going to that school would be worse than anything. It looked as if no fun was ever allowed. She wouldn't last ten minutes.

The car's engine went off and silence echoed around them.

Angel got out carefully, eyeing the town as if it might attempt to bite him. Faith followed, not so carefully. They glanced at the buildings, then Angel pointed to the school. Faith pointed to the church.

"They're in there," both announced.

Both blinked.

Faith narrowed her eyes, concentrating. Angel frowned, "We should split up."

"That's what they want, blood-for-brains." Faith snapped.

He smiled, it wasn't nice. "The church first, then."

"Right."

Angel went to the back of the car and popped the trunk. Faith followed, looked over his shoulder and gave a low whistle. "Niiiiice."

"Take your pick."

Weapons of every sort were stacked neatly inside. Some racked, others lying in carefully molded sections. Faith picked out several stakes, stashing them in various places about her leather and denim-clad person. Angel took out the crossbow and a few stakes of his own.

As they finished, Faith had a chance to notice the black shinyness of Angel's leather pants, and approve. She let him get slightly ahead of her, and grinned evilly. "Nice ass."

He didn't respond, and no words were spoken as they approached the church. There was time to note the light in an upper storey window, and then they were kicking in the door. A vampire jumped for Faith, knocking her out the door, she staked it and rolled to her feet. Angel had shot one, and five more were advancing.

"I'll take the uglies on the right."

Two of the vampires screeched, the sound hitting upper registers that caused pain. Faith fought through the pain and landed a punch to the chin of one as Angel decked the other. With the sound gone, the others were short work. After all, wasting time playing with the enemy was something only a psychopath did. And Faith was over being a psychopath. One of them tried to shoot her, but she took his gun as he disappeared in a cloud of dust. It was a nice little snub-nosed thing. It fit neatly under the waistband of her pants. She pulled the bottom of her shirt to hang over it and nodded to Angel. "Next?"

Somewhere, a bell tolled, the sound floating across arid desert to congregate in the square, flittering around the small buildings and church. Except for the school. The sound seemed to almost avoid the school building, as if something there blocked it.

Faith checked her stakes, then strode toward the school, intent on kicking in the door and committing mayhem on the inhabitants. Angel caught her as she crossed the threshold, his hand catching at her elbow and dragging her to a halt. As if it was a pre-arranged signal, light flickered on, showing the lobby to have a stark white paint job with black accents. There was a hint that there might once have been puke green on the walls, but it was gone now.

About ten vampires clustered around them, some young, barely even ten. A few stood on the coffee table, as if the added height made them feel more important. Faith frowned as she noticed that some had red eyes--like druggies after some heavy drugs.

One of them smiled, all suave evil and happy bloodlust. Of course, he probably hadn't even had his first boner. But his blond hair looked cute in the little Richie Rich cut his mom had given him. "Angelus! Brother! We had heard of your return. For this token of respect that you have brought, you shall remain when all other old ones are dust. Incapacitate the slayer and bring her to me. Her blood will invigorate me as I call on Mezzulasheth." He hopped up onto an end table, suddenly becoming as tall as an adult vampire.

Faith whirled, eyes narrowing at Angel. "You son of a bitch. You played me again!" A flicker in his eyes was the closest thing to a small wink ever seen.

He smiled, fangs showing, gloating as he stepped towards her, "You're so easy to handle." He leaned over her, grabbing her wrists and pinning them behind her, "You always have been," his breath slid between her lips as he covered them with his own. It was not a gentle kiss, it was all I'm In Control--You're Mine--nearly drawing blood. A lesser woman would have whimpered in pain and fainted.

But Faith recognised this kiss. It was like the ones she'd gotten from Angelus, way back when. Except he'd been Angel then, too. She gave as good as she got, hungrily drinking in the pain and returning it. He winced as she bit his tongue, then stepped back, releasing her. For a moment he stared into her eyes, and then he shoved her towards the head vampire who was standing on his table of office.

The blond hissed in anticipation as Faith wiped her mouth on the back of her left hand. In her right, hidden by a flap of her coat, she clutched the stake Angel had put there.

"You do realise I hadn't intended her to find out for another, oh, five minutes, at least? I was preserving the charade rather well." Angel commented darkly.

"Angel, you bastard. I never should have fallen for that lost puppy look," Faith muttered.

"No, you really shouldn't have," Leader-Vamp replied happily as she approached him. She could almost feel his lust, it slid around her, tugging at things she didn't want tugged. Not like this. Not by THAT.

She was nearly to the table when a fold in the carpet caused her to stagger. The stake in her hand slid neatly into Leader-Vamp's heart, sending scads of dust to the floor and causing an immediate uproar. "Oops."

Angel staked one vampire, then went down under the combined assault of three others. Faith didn't have time to worry, three of them were nearly upon her, she flipped up onto the table and side-kicked the smaller one into the wall.

Meanwhile, one of the youngest vamps grabbed a book and huddled into a corner. She was cute, with chestnut hair in long ringlets and the softest brown eyes. She began reading aloud, the words harsh and disjointed.

Faith shot a look at the corner and swore, then viciously chopped the third vampire's arm into a broken mess before staking him. She rolled off the table, landing next to the girl, who jumped, but grimly kept reading. The words were swirling into the room, distorting things. Faith kicked out, slamming the book from her arms as she yelled in Latin.

The book hit the wall, the binding shattered and pages fell out. Silence slammed into the room, followed by the sound of Faith screaming one more word, "EXPLICO!" She lashed downwards with the stake, finding the vampire's heart.

A snapping sound echoed, as if someone had broken a twig. Faith dusted the remains of the little girl from her hands and looked across the suddenly still room at Angel.

Then energy exploded. Formless, directionless, untamed, it raged across the room shattering bonds and destroying the traces of previous magics. Faith reeled into the wall, then backflipped and kicked the legs from under one of the vampires about to attempt Angel's gutting.

She dropped onto him, rolling, and threw him into the wall where he hit a dangling shard of wood and fractured into dust. She continued the roll, ending up on her feet with another vampire attempting to remove her head from her shoulders. Faith ducked its first swing, but not the second.

Falling back slightly, she glanced over at Angel. "Hey! What's with the red-eye?"

"They're possessed by whatever demon they were claiming fealty to."

"Possessed vamps? Isn't that a bit fucking redundant?" Faith dodged a blow to her head and staked the fifteenth vamp in as many minutes.

Angel bodyslammed the vampire in his arms onto the table, splintering it and sending dust all over the floor. "You can still stake them, stop complaining."

"Yeah, yeah," Faith whirled and slammed her elbow into the next-to-the-last vampire. It landed in Angel's arms and gave a whimper of terror before the ensouled-vampire destroyed its existence.

The last vampire was redheaded and tried to run. Faith tripped it up with a thrown chair, then beheaded it with a well-timed kick.

"Well."

"Let's get the fuck out of here." Faith turned towards the door, wincing as her body suddenly decided to stop being pain-blocked. Things ached. Something had bitten a leg, several bruises ran down her back. And one of them had sliced her shoulder. It wasn't deep, but it was suddenly gushing like Old Faithful.

They staggered out into the town square. It was raining. Faith muttered something under her breath.

"Isn't it always raining around us, Faith?" Angel unlocked his door and flopped onto the seat.

"Yeah." She turned her face up to the water, relaxing as it cooled her off. In fact, it felt good enough that she began pulling off her jacket. A glance at the shoulder showed her worst fear. "Ah, fuck. Why did they have to get me there? Do they KNOW how hard it is to get blood out of a denim jacket? Bastards." She muttered some more under her breath, then got in the car.

She looked across the seat at Angel to find him staring at her, his eyes suddenly dark and bottomless. "What?"

"Blood?"

Faith flipped her damp hair out of the way and nodded to the shallow gash in her left shoulder. It was barely an inch long, not even enough to kill a baby. But it was bleeding like she was a stuck pig. "You can clean it up if you want." She challenged him.

He moved across the seat faster than he'd been in the fight, his tongue suddenly lapping at her skin. She shivered at the feeling, then winced as he pressed hard, searching for more blood. As he licked, the thought came to her that this had been a VERY bad idea. Kill him. Kill him! The words echoed through her head, and she half-reached for a stake.

As if sensing her unquiet, he pulled back and looked at her. "You did offer."

"Yeah."

Without saying anything more, he fished a handkerchief out of his pocket and dried the last of the blood from the wound. Another search, this time in the glovebox, produced a roll of duct tape. Ripping off a piece, he laid it over the slash, carefully pushing the edges together so that it would heal straight. Not that Faith would MIND more unsightly scars.

"If you're hungry, there's candy under the seat--in a bag."

Faith shrugged and bent over, searching for the promised sugar. At the back of her mind, she thanked the Powers That Be for her quick healing abilities. Within two days, the slice on her shoulder would be completely healed--well, almost. It at least wouldn't need stitches. Normal humans? Took something like a week for just the scabbing part. She grinned and popped a Pez into her mouth, sucking happily on the candy.

A few minutes of silence and odd shuffling sounds from Angel finally caught her attention, and she looked at him. "What?"

"Nothing." He looked away, then glanced back, his gaze passing over her chest.

Faith blinked, rapidly running through many thoughts, then hit on one. "Oh. That. Nah. I don't have the urge to fuck you like an animal. Got that under control now."

He shifted, looking unconvinced and half-uncomfortable with the idea of sex and Faith at this moment in time.

A smirk crossed her face, and she turned to him, leaning across the space between them. "But, y'know, I still owe you for that thing back at the school." She slithered closer and dipped her head, touching his lips with her own. "Really owe you...."

It flitted through her mind as she deepened the gentle kiss that Darla would kill her should the blonde vampire ever get her claws on Faith--if she'd been alive. It occurred to her to wonder if he was thinking of Buffy. After all, he had a serious blonde fixation. Darla, Buffy, Dru--wait. Drusilla was brunette. Well, maybe she could break him of blondes...

She pulled back, pleased to note the slightly disappointed look in his eyes. "We should be going. Get back to civilisation and all."

The cell phone that she'd felt under her hip while kissing Angel, rang. "Answer it." He directed, turning the key and firing the engine into life.

She grabbed it, "Yeah?"

"FAITH? What the hell are you doing with Angel's phone? What the hell are you doing out of jail? Shit. If you've hurt Angel, I'm going to kill--"

Faith shook off the shock and snorted, "Get over yourself, B. Angel and I just finished slaying a nest, he's fine. Thanks for your concern, though."

Silence for a moment, then Buffy breathed again, "You okay?"

"Oh, just peachy. Stabbed, hungry, and..." Faith smirked as she trailed off suggestively.

Buffy's voice sounded irritated, "Shut up. Put Angel on."

"He's driving, B. Do you WANT him to have an accident? Imagine, me and him in an accident, all that blood and pain." Faith snickered. "Gives me that itchy feeling."

"No. Just have Angel come pick me up at Alameda and Seventh."

Which meant blonde Buffy was a few blocks from the bus station. Faith forwent taunting her about running away again. After all, her being with Angel was fun enough. For now. "What, now?"

"Yes, NOW."

"Yeah, yeah." Faith hung up and turned to Angel. "B demands t'be picked up at Alameda and Seventh."

As they drove, Faith felt the adrenaline rush fading, the chemicals remetabolised for readiness in the next battle. Her first Watcher had told her that was to prevent shock.

Mara had said that there were one or two other ways to rid yourself of the fight high. One was sex, and Mara had theorised less drowsiness as a result, but had never been able to test, herself. The whole not being a Slayer thing sort of put a crimp in those plans.

But Faith had always used the euphoric high as an aphrodisiac, leading to sweaty limbs and fast fucks. Usually ending in her leaving, or kicking him out. Once or twice the kickee had been a her. Faith wasn't much for caring about gender, as long as she was satisfied.

She yawned, letting the sleepiness settle over her. She felt... not safe, but close enough to it that she was going to let herself drift a little. Angel's shoulder was the perfect spot to rest her head against. Put there just for her, she decided.

He didn't seem to notice, of course, just kept driving.

But Faith still felt a need to defend her sleepiness. "Out of training," She mumbled, her voice grouchy. "They only let me into the gym an hour a day at the most."

A sound policy, on her jailor's part. After all, probably not smart to let the violent chick who's in for assault and maybe murder, wander around freely and become stronger through using the gym. Which would have been laughable, had they ever realised Faith was strong, anyway.

"You didn't do too badly." He shrugged, careful not to dislodge her.

"Hrrmph." Faith grumbled, sleep over-taking her.

--

Something was itching on her cheek. Faith blinked, fighting back a yawn as she noticed the leather-clad leg her face was now resting on. It was slightly cooller than your average male leg. Which was good, because vampires who overheat smell really funky.

The car door on the passenger's side opened, snapping her into a sitting position. She winced as she rubbed the back of her neck. "That always gives me cramps. 'Lo, B."

Buffy was staring at her, eyes dark and assuming things that they had no right to assume. Faith smirked. "Hey, B. Sorry, I didn't realise we were here."

Glaring, the blonde shoved the seat forward, scrambling into the back. "I'm sure." She snapped, flopping to the seat in a huff.

"Hey, hey, watch the leather," Faith admonished, twisting around in the seat to smirk harder.

"Faith, the leather doesn't belong to you."

The dark-haired Slayer raised an eyebrow, "What, B, did you think that Angel was gonna welcome you with open arms and smiles? What'd you do, dump Soldier-boy and come looking for the faithful puppy dog?"

"None of your business, Faith."

"Oh, I think it has to be my business, you blonde ho." Faith snorted. "No, wait. Forget I said anything, 'cause after all, Buffy the All-Great And Powerful would NEVER do anything to harm her boytoys. After all, they're all twisted around her little pinkie fingers, aren't they?"

"Enough, Faith." Angel caught her arm, looking into her eyes. "Let it go."

Buffy smirked at Faith, "See?"

"And, Buffy?" Angel looked over his shoulder at the blonde, "Whatever you want, I'm not here for you. Not now. Maybe not ever. Wasn't it you who told me to stay the hell out of your life?"

Faith decided enough was enough. Sitting in one place was making her fidgety, and this conversation was turning the car into the lava pits of Hell. She leaned over and gently kissed Angel, casually, as if he was a friend or long-time lover. "Why don't we get the hell out of here before a cop pulls up and arrests you for picking up girls off the street."

In silence, the car was started, and they pulled away from the curb. Faith was investigating the candy bag again, and finding that the sugar was doing little to curb her incessant hunger.

"I'm sick of being an island."

"Huh?" Faith shot Angel an odd look.

"An island. All alone."

It flashed through Faith's mind that little blonde ships who had crashed into his island deserved all the pain they got back ten-fold. She reached up and wiped some of the condensing breath off the windshield, then chuckled and pointed at the lake they were driving by. It was in the middle of an 'office park', one of those havens from the real world that downtown Los Angeleans tried to pretend worked. There were several small decorative islands in the middle of it.

"Your vision is going, old man. There's two islands in there."

He snorted.

"Anyway. Not all islands are alone, y'know. There's archipelagos and stuff, they're not alone. And that chain of fire thing. Starts near Japan. I think that has islands."

Everyone was silent again.

Faith shrugged, "Not that I'd know. Didn't pay much attention in school."

Buffy snorted from the backseat. Angel gave Faith a funny look, the AngelBrood(tm) daze gone. "Don't play dumb intentionally."

"Dunno what you're talkin' about."

His look was Serious, one of those I'm Two Hundred And Thirty-Four Years Older Than You And You'll Listen To Me Or Else ones. "I can see through the act, Faith."

The kiss this time was more of the reassurance-type. Gentle and considerate, old friends saying "It's gonna be all right." Buffy struck, her anger finally boiling over. She grabbed at Faith's hair, intent on pulling her away.

It was a good thing they'd stopped again, because Angel needed two hands to grapple with Buffy as he continued kissing Faith. It was over quickly, and Faith slid across to her side again, feeling guilty. Angel released Buffy, ignoring her as she tried to talk to him.

"So..."

"So."

"Home."

"Okay."

"What the HELL is going on here?" Buffy's demand got no answer as they started driving again.

A police car went past them. "Good thing you two aren't joined at the tongue anymore."

"Probably would be a good idea to avoid the police. Any trouble, with you having spent time as a wanted felon would be... bad." Angel said softly.

"Oh. Didn't you here? I'm not wanted anymore."

"I want you."

A strangled yelp echoed from the backseat.

"Aw, that's so sweet of you." Faith half-turned in her seat and grinned wickedly. "B, there's steam rising from your ears."

Buffy growled.

"So, where d'you wanna go? So we can drop you off before dinner."

"Well, I had been planning to go to Angel's--"

"Not happening, B. You should know that. He's not your chew toy anymore, remember?" Faith would have been dead several times over, if looks could have killed.

"Fine. Drop me at my father's."

"Done." Angel replied, turning the car at the next corner. "Faith, what do you want for dinner?"

--

Buffy's father hadn't been home. Faith made a snide comment about breaking in, since he could afford to replace a window if she broke it, anyway. Unless Buffy didn't know how to break into a house properly. They'd left her on the curb, steam still rising from her ears.

And then they had pizza, and laughed and joked. And avoided talking about anything serious, since it would spoil the mood.

Angel couldn't eat more than one piece, so Faith had seven. She was ravenous, so didn't even notice it.

They finally got thrown out of the place as it was closing down for the night, ending up at the Hotel sometime after 11. Wesley was at the desk when they came in. He flinched as he saw Faith.

She patted him gently on the shoulder, laughter still lurking in her eyes, "I'm sorry."

"What?" Confusion coloured his gaze as he looked at her, then Angel, then back again.

"Expecting me to hit you or burn you, or something equally fun?" She joked. "I don't plan on it."

"She's much calmer now, Wes. Less prone to lashing out with physical violence the moment something goes wrong." Angel reassured him.

"Yeah, and I hit people less, too!"

Wesley edged away from the two of them, "Uh-huh. And she's staying here now?"

"Yes, if you don't mind. Well," Angel paused, "Even if you do. We've got a lot to do, Faith and I."

She half-grinned at him. "Right, Angst-boy, point me to the TV. I hunger for bad movies and fluffy couches."

--

"Die Hard" was playing in the VCR. But Faith wasn't paying much attention to it. She'd seen it before, snickered at some of the imperfections, and lusted after the guns. Besides, she had things to think about, now she was on the Outside.

Free. It sounded so odd after 8 months in jail. 8 months where she tried to convince herself she was doing the right thing by hiding away from the world. She grimaced, wishing she could go back and tell Buffy she was sorry. But the two of them would never be friends. Not after tonight.

Of course, it didn't matter, did it? She only needed herself.

And Angel... Nice guy, really needed a strong woman to help him. Except that she really wasn't the type to stay long. She'd always been a love 'em and leave 'em type.

Couldn't have the leopard change her spots, she thought decisively.

She snickered at the screen, watching one of the villains do something incredibly stupid and get waxed. Too bad life wasn't like that. Fucking Angel was a thought, but really a stupid one. Unless she could stake him afterwards. Now that had appeal.

Kill the bad guy. Wasn't that what she was born for?

"Yeah. Bad guy." With a smirk she shut off the VCR and went in search of weapons. Night time would be soon, and it would be good to be on the prowl.

-finis-