Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or Supernatural, nor do I own the images used in the wallpapers. Written for fun, not profit.

Warning: light torture; dropping of the f-bomb a couple times

Author's notes: Set early season six for SPN, obviously before "Caged Heat." Very Post S7 for BtVS, and Post S5 for Angel.This one goes out to Patricia de Lioncourt—who's about to write an awesome story about the demon we all love to hate.

"Love the Way You Lie"

From this close, Faith can smell the sweat on his human host. This takes her back. So far back. What she's doing is wrong, and she knows it. If you ask forgiveness, receive forgiveness, and then commit the same old sins again, what chance do you have of redemption? It's a question she doesn't want to answer.

She puts the blade against the edge of his scalp, pushing down to draw more blood. Head wounds always make a nice mess. This one is particularly pretty, the touch of the knife sending little shocks of red electricity to swim beneath his skin. As if its magic is sweeping through, trying to cleanse the body, push out the invader.

Only it can't, because there's a fresh brand on his hand, a fancy symbol that's keeping the demon in his fleshy cage. That little gift was thanks to the other occupant in the room. Faith lifts her head, seeing the woman standing against the wall, arms crossed over her chest, dark tresses in loose curls just like Faith's—the two of them have too much in common for Faith's liking, but at this very moment, the slayer grins darkly at Meg.

"I like it." Faith raises the knife. It reminds her of one she'd once had planted in her gut. "Where'd you find it?"

Meg huffs, like there's something funny about the question. There's a glimmer of envy in the female demon's eyes—she's having a hard time waiting her turn. "A few friends let me borrow it. Speaking of the great lugs—I kinda made a deal to let them play with this smarmy piece of shit after we're done. So don't cut too deep, kiddo. Old Crowley here's still got loads of fun in store..."

Faith just stares back at her, wanting to ask how this ever came to be, how the two of them had ever been stupid enough to ally themselves with each other. Much less some hunters who'd enjoy flaying both their asses. Then, she smirks, gets back to it.

Her victim chuckles, despite how much his muscles involuntarily tense at the knife's touch across his jaw. Faith would expect nothing less from the King of Hell. And then it hits her, the swell of darkness in her heart: pride. Because she can forget the poor sap who was born with that mug, and just see the broken, busted face of the demon. She's done a good job working him over. The pain of her knuckles, worn to bone from the repeated punches, is welcomed.

"Come on, princess," he says, blood dribbling from his lip, "I know you've got something you want to tell Uncle Crowley before we're done here."

He's right. Faith wants to tell him many things. It's dangerous, the move, but she walks around him once then hops onto his lap, her legs spread on either side of his bound arms. She's pressed close enough to feel the pinching chains against her shirt, so she taps the blade against his jugular. Her free hand braces the back of his head.

He smiles, as if he could possibly feel pleasure from the grind of her body on his thighs. "Power tastes delicious, doesn't it?"

Faith doesn't answer, despite the "yes" on the tip of her tongue. "You know what your first mistake was?" She leans in to plant the question in his ear. "Your first mistake was pulling me out of Heaven."

"Princess," he gives her a mocking frown, laughter in his eyes, "it's not like you belonged there. I was just setting things right."

Faith doesn't disagree. "Your second mistake," she growls, shaving off a layer of skin with the blade, "was thinking you could lie to me, and that I wouldn't find out."

Crowley blinks, as if he is honestly surprised. "Sweetheart, don't tell me you ever actually believed the words I fed you? You knew they were lies, and you ate them up, all the same." He cocks his head, studying her. "The lies were you favorite part, I think."

Faith didn't know how she'd gotten there, but she knew where she was as soon as her eyes opened. Heaven. She'd been in Heaven. And now she was on Earth. All she remembered from the journey was a whispered apology before the fall—not that she hadn't expected it. She'd always thought, in the back of her mind, that someone would show up and say, "Oops, sent you to the wrong place."

And, then it had finally happened.

She'd expected to be chained like an animal, but found herself sitting in a cushy chair, its counterpart across from her and occupied. The man in black was watching her with interest, his arms resting, relaxed, a glass of liquor hanging from his fingertips. With a smirk like that, she wondered if he were the devil himself.

He certainly felt like a demon, only not the kind she was used to dealing with. She'd run into the sort a couple times, evil Hell spirits who possessed the living, like the goddamn Exorcist or something. In the world she'd left, though, they'd been few and far between—so rare a slayer was likely not to run into them if she spent her days doing her job, taking down monsters.

"Welcome back, Faith," he said. British accent. Reminded her of watchers, and she was automatically not a fan. "The name's Crowley, love, and I'm the King of Hell. That's a bit forward, I know, but I feel it's best to get rid of the pleasantries. After all, you and I, we've got quite a bit of ground to cover."

"Fuck this."

Faith's reply was to stand, beat the shit out of the two guards in the doorway, and exit the building. A surprisingly easy feat. Of course, Faith realized as much. It was night outside; the city smelled familiar, looked familiar too, but she couldn't name it. She didn't so much as flinch when footsteps sounded beside her, the demon walking at a casual stride, a slight smile on his face, his hands in his pockets.

"Want to know what happened to the world you left behind?" he asked.

So he told her. How, despite the fact that the slayers had been winning against the latest Big Bad when she'd fallen in battle, they'd lost their war. They'd lost too much. Left the world wide open and the game pieces on the board; other players had taken their place. Started up another Apocalypse.

The Apocalypse. And it had been put on the backburner, but at a heavy cost.

"The balance." Faith sealed her lips the moment the words left her mouth. She hadn't meant to say it. Had meant to deny that she believed in the cosmic bullshit. "That why I'm here. Fuckin' Powers that Be wanna play again?"

Crowley smirked. "Oh, you wouldn't be here if I didn't have Powers in my pocket," he agreed. "But, you're here because I want to make a deal with you, Faith. If you don't want to be dealt any cards, say the word, and I'll snap your neck, send you back up to blue birds and rainbows."

"Do that," she said, and stopped, turning to face him.

"Don't you want to hear the offer, first?" He tilted his head to one side, his voice chiding when it returned. "We both know you don't really deserve Paradise, don't we? But you saved people, made up for your crimes, went down doing what the Upstairs wanted you to do. So you got a just reward. Not everyone did."

Faith's brow lowered, cautioning him.

"The name Angel ring any bells?" he asked. At her widened eyes, he snorted. "Isn't it funny? You'd never have made it into Heaven if it hadn't been for him, the dark knight riding in to save you from yourself—and yet, the bugger is stuck with me."

It didn't surprise her that Angel was dead. Or in Hell. But, just for a moment, she couldn't breathe. The confirmation was too much. "The deal?"

He shrugged, as if he weren't thinking it up on the spot. Even his movements were lies. "Let's say you agree to do a little work for me—nothing a good slayer wouldn't do already before your mind goes to the gutter and you start thinking naughty things about your Uncle Crowley. And, in return for you doing what you should bloody well be doing for free, I send your blood sucking Yoda up to where you think he deserves to go."

"He deserves to live."

"Not an option," Crowley snapped. "Bugger caused enough problems here. Heaven or Hell. His soul, your decision."

"Fuck." Faith felt her pulse in her throat and was pretty certain she'd vomit up her heart any minute now. "What about...what about my soul?"

Crowley looked her over. Faith had been around enough men to know one lust from another. This demon didn't give a shit about her body; it was her power he was after. "Your soul goes where ever it's supposed to be—I won't have a hand in it. But, that's if you work for me. You decide to go rogue, and I'll pull you down to Hell myself. Understood?"

Faith nodded. "What's the job?"

"Jobs," he corrected. "And first we seal the deal."

Faith tastes the blood on his lips when she pushes the blade deeper. Not enough to kill him—she has enough restraint for that, but the kiss puts heat in her cheeks. Her jaw tightens in rage. The fingers against the back of his head are ripping out chunks of hair, but the pain doesn't show on his face.

"You told me he was in Hell," she hisses. "Everything you said was a lie."

"Not everything." He blinks, lifting his shoulders in some show of agreement. "Just the part about your old pal Angel. You're right, though. I lied, like I'm sure the black-eyed bitch back there told you."

Faith hears Meg shift her weight and gives her a warning glare—this is her time, damn it. The demon raises her hands, backs off with a roll of her eyes.

"As I'm sure you know by now, he's in Purgatory." Crowley licks his bottom lip, tasting her. "The thing is, this can still work out between us, Princess. You can keep doing your job, helping me find a way to Purgatory—because, let's face it, that's the only way your fanged friend's ever getting freed. Or, you can stay the hero's course. Die on my lap for your troubles."

"Fooled you once, shame on you," Meg reminds.

Faith runs the blade along the edge of his ear as her own reminder. "Are you forgetting who's holding the knife?"

"Never," he says, grinning. "Are you forgetting who runs Hell?"

The doors blow off their hinges. Faith only has time to look up before Meg ditches her, right before a half dozen demons flood in. And damn if they haven't brought weaponry.

Faith takes the time between one pulse and the next to consider her final destination. If you torture a torturer as your last action on Earth, where do you end up? Crowley's knowing expression says his opinion on the matter. Faith wants to disagree but can't.

"Wait," he orders, and the demons pause before they surge forward. He glares at her, impatient now. "You will get me Purgatory," he says.

Faith lowers the knife slowly. He's right; she loves the lies far more than the truth.