She caught his eye, and glared him back to his spot. "Don't touch me." The distance between them stretched out. Alley was spacious. She was getting better at picking these oh-crap-this-battle's-not-going-well-better-find-a-refuge-and-take-a-breather spaces. Wasn't certain if that was a good thing.
"I have to." Xander uncurled himself and inched forward, his eye dark and worried. "Please, I have to -"
"Oh no," she said, "You really don't." Her breath came in short sharp gasps.
He raised an eyebrow at his woman and kept his eyes away from the trail of blood that ran after them. "I really do. That's not gonna heal itself."
"Slayer," said Faith, "Part of the job. It'll – nnn – it'll heal." It had to. She had a whole 'nother nest to clear out before dawn plus a pack of kids to find and possible save. She had to stay present. There was no way she was letting Xander do this by himself if the bastards could cut her like this.
"Superpowered healing I get and got a long time ago, but what I don't get is your body being able to conjure stitches out of thin air and suture a wound together. And I don't get it cos that aint gonna happen." He sighed. "God, for a rough and tough Slayer, you're a total baby."
"Bite me," she grated and then tipped her head back as the pain hit her again.
"We are not going down the route of kinky fun here," he chided, reaching back into the medkit and rummaging for a suture kit. Xander glanced back at Faith who rolled her eyes at him and managed to compose herself. "It'd prove a distraction," she said, very reasonably, considering the wound that red-hugged her midriff, "I mean, I've got all sorts of shit going on right now and a quick rut would sort my brain right out. You'd be doing like a community service or something."
"I'm one for the rutting," he said, "I'll rut with you til the cows come home and could this metaphor get any weirder?" His fingers looped thread through needles and he began to clean her skin, working his way through the already scabbing blood. Antiseptic. Clean. And then he could work. The moments it took to clean the wound felt like hours. They always did.
"Oh there's weirder," replied Faith, "There's always weirder. "She lifted the compression off her skin and prayed that her guts wouldn't spill out over her boyfriend. Man, that would totally put a dampener on the situation and really ruin any chances of getting it on. Plus it wasn't a look she really wanted to rock just yet. "Xand," she said, and then, as a scimitar of pain sliced through her, she ground her teeth together and stared at the floor, "I feel-" She didn't finish the sentence. No need. No point in spending the energy on whining when she could spend the energy on the healing.
He darted a swift look up at her, and grasped her hand, holding it in his. "I'll be quick." He squeezed her hand. "Always." And then he began to sew her back together.
It had started so well. The nest, the young Slayers, and a mission just made for newbies. Xander had dubbed the team Power Pack and it had been a moniker which had stuck. For some reason it made Xander giggle like a fool every time he sent them into the field and she'd still not figured out why. Price you paid for hanging with a nerd. No way he'd ever pay a price for hanging with her. She'd keep him safe even if it killed her. Obvs she kinda hoped it wouldn't but it was a discussion she'd had with herself just in case. She did that. Planned ahead.
"You don't have to try and kill me again," she pointed out as Xander drew her skin together, closing the gaping maw with surprising neatness. "I mean, dude, I'm all un-medicated and you're stiching me together like you're sewing with a frigging chopstick and fishing line." Pain. So much pain. She refused to acknowledge it. Never would.
"Again?" He looped off the final stitch and ran an antiseptic wipe over her skin. "Sweetie I don't seem to remember trying to kill you previously. I mean, if I were trying to kill you, I'd have made you watch something like High School Musical three times in a row rather than taking on a nest of Pahak demons which, to be honest, is pretty much an average night out for us."
Faith pulled herself up, letting her top run back down over her wound, and counted to ten before she spoke, and let the pain slip away. "The girls?"
"Split." A soft look of sadness on his face. "I hope not literally."
"We need to clear that nest."
"You're not fit."
"I am. You don't tell me what to do." She wobbled. Damn well wobbled. Shit.
"I do when it threatens to compromise the mission." He glared at her. "We regroup, soldier. Now. You knocked them back enough so they'll take a day or two to get back in shape. We got time to clean this up then. Properly." Moments like this he thought of his favourite howling commando and remembered the mantra WWFD? And then, in that same moment, he thought of how many times he'd had a do or death conversation with somebody. And then, a brief heartbeat later, he wondered again how he'd ended up here.
"Mr Harris," said Faith as she pressed her hand against the wall to steady herself as her legs began to buckle. She saluted. Feeble but it was there. "Yes Sir."
"That's my girl," he said, and he caught her and radioed HQ for a distraction. And as the light flared around them, the alleyway spinning and merging into one whirl of colour, he took the moment to wonder how a nest of demons, an innocent nest of Pahak that should have been killed in a blink, had almost took his woman away from him. It was a thought that didn't rest easy with him. But he took it. Held it and knew that he would figure this out.
It was, after all, what he did.