TITLE: Two Becomes Three
SETTING: LA, post-NFA
LENGTH: 511 words
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, which is a shame because usually we're nicer to them than Joss was.
He’s only got one rule. No help from Buffy. It’s the one thing Spike actually agrees with him on.
That’s why Angel almost slams the door on Faith when she shows up on his doorstep.
“I’m guessing you lost the coin toss.”
“B doesn’t even know I’m here.” Her gaze sweeps over the dingy basement they’ve been using the past month, ever since a pair of Wolfram & Hart lackeys discovered his and Spike’s old hideout. “Nice digs.” She drops her backpack by the door and starts wandering around. “Not exactly rocking the Casbah, but hey, I’ve squatted in worse.”
“Well, you’re not squatting here.” Angel marches across the room, picks up her pack, and tosses it into the hall. “We don’t need help from Slayers.”
“Really? ‘Cause from where I stand, you look like you’re up to your ass in trouble.”
“Spike and I are doing just fine.” And thank God, Spike isn’t around to hear that.
“Fine meaning, hiding from the hordes of demonic suits you pissed off last spring.”
“We’re not hiding!”
“That’s not what the hordes are saying. They’re gloating they ran you into the ground—”
Faith blocks his attack with an easy backhand, shoving him away so that he can’t swing at her again. So maybe his temper is a little short. He’s still coming to grips with losing Illyria.
“This isn’t your fight,” he tries instead.
Faith grins. “Every fight is my fight.”
“Well, this one really isn’t.” When she flops into the chair and swings her leg over the arm in a pose that looks too much like one of Spike’s, Angel shoves his fists into his armpits in order not to lash out again. “I told Giles what was going on here months ago. He deliberately turned his back on us.”
Her smile fades. “I’m not here ‘cause of Giles. Or Buffy, so just forget the idea that she sent me, okay?”
“Then why are you here?”
For the first time since strutting through his door, Faith looks less than sure, less than sassy. She looks like a girl he once saw sitting in a chair in a police station, preparing to give a statement about the crimes she didn’t want to own.
“I heard about Wes.”
She doesn’t say anything more. She doesn’t have to. Angel knows. Understands. He’s the only one in the world who would.
“Wes would want you to live your life,” he says, softening his tone.
“Wes would want me to do the right thing,” she shoots back. “So that’s why I’m here. Use me, abuse me, put me to work, Angel. ‘Cause I’m not going anywhere.”
It’s a bad idea. If Buffy finds out, there will be hell to pay.
The only thing is, he already lives in hell.
“You stay, you listen to me,” he warns. “I’m the one calling the shots. Nobody knows these bastards like I do.”
Faith’s smile returns, a rebellious gleam in her eye. Yeah, that argument didn’t work with Spike, either.
But maybe hell just got a little bit brighter.