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the vulnerability of faith

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Vulnerability of Faith". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: She was chosen for a reason. To protect and save the world from evil. She shunned her calling & welcomed the darkness. Who knew she was the one that could save the world from the evil that actually could end it; evil that had a face of a friend.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Faith-Centered(Moderator)DemonaFR183381,0290421,9492 Aug 032 Aug 03Yes

Part Seven: Broken Bones, Mended Hearts, and Homeward Bound

For Disclaimer and Notes see first chapter.

Part Seven: Broken Bones, Mended Hearts, and Homeward Bound

When we came back from that adventure in fighting evil I was in pain. One of the vampires had gotten the upper hand and kicked my ass for a few minutes while my guard was completely down until Angel had to rescue me. I headed back to Adam's house limping heavily on my now very hurt left leg. About halfway there Angel picked me up and carried me the rest of the way back to the house. I complained the whole time he was carrying me about how I was fine and didn't need his help, which I obviously did but would never admit to him. He took me into the house and sat me on the couch in the living room and left me. He came back a few minutes later with a medical kit.

"Really Angel, I am fine, you don't have to do this for me. I just need to get some sleep and it'll be fine," I tried to argue with him as Adam laughed at my attempts from the doorway. B had gone to shower after getting completely filthy from the fight and the mud pit she was thrown in.

"If you can tell me that this doesn't hurt then I won't do anything more," Angel told me and grabbed my knee kinda harshly. I immediately shot forward to move him off of me and groaned in pain.

"Fine asshole," I ground out and fell back against the couch. I didn't want him to cater to me at the moment all I wanted was to go take a hot bath to relax my body and then sleep off my injuries.

"I am going to get you cleaned up and then we are going to get you into a hot bath for a little while to relax your muscles. After that when you are a little more relaxed I will wrap up your leg and work out all the kinks. Sound like a good plan to you?"

"Whatever you think is best Angel," I snidely shot back at him, just hoping that he would leave me alone soon. My leg was killing me and I just wanted to be alone to deal with the pain.

"This is probably going to sting a little but whatever they hit you with certainly left a mark," Angel told me about a second before putting alcohol on my open cuts and I hissed in pain and then dug my fingernails into my palms in an attempt to keep quiet. He cleaned my cuts and scrapes with a surprising gentleness that only he possessed when it came to me. After he got them all thoroughly cleaned he threw out the dirty things and packed up the med kit.

"Arms around my neck," Angel told me as he squatted down next to me and put on arm under my stretched out legs. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he lifted me off the couch and carried me wordlessly up the stairs and into Adam's bedroom and into the bathroom that held the whirlpool bathtub I would be using. He sat me on the toilet and started to run hot water. He added bubbles into the mix and then turned to look at me.

"Let me guess this is my cue to strip. So what do you want me in Angel? Absolutely nothing? Completely naked?"

"Faith lay off. Whatever you are comfortable in will work for me. Do whatever you want Faith, you always do."

"I will," I snapped at him. I pushed myself up to my feet and yanked off my shirt, leaving me in my bra. My shorts were next to come off of me almost causing me to fall on my face in the floor, but I managed to keep my balance. I stood there in my bra and thong and waited for him to get done with the water in the tub. When he was done he helped me into the tub so I wouldn't slip and fall. I eased into the hot water and sighed as it enveloped my body. I sat in my bath for ten minutes before Angel grabbed my leg jarring me out of my relaxation. I jumped a little and he held onto my leg to help work out the tension and bruises that covered it. He massaged my leg for a good twenty minutes and then as the water was starting to turn cold he let my leg go.

"You are pruning, time to get out," he told me as he pulled the plug to drain the water. He helped me out of the tub and wrapped me in a big fluffy towel. After I was mostly dry he allowed me to hobble to what I claimed as my bedroom in the house.

"You need help changing?" He asked me gently.

"You want to help?" I shot back and smirked at him. He smiled slowly at me and then shook his head.

"I'll be right outside the door. Let me know when you are dressed or if you need help," Angel to me and headed out the door shutting it behind him. I dropped the towel and managed to pull of my soaking wet bra and thong and then dried myself off again before putting on clean and dry underwear and clothes. I had changed into the sleep bottoms I had stolen from Adam and a tank of my own. I hobbled over to the door as I pulled on my tank top and opened it to find Angel leaning up against the wall across from the door. He had ice and ace bandages in his hands.

"You mind if I come in? Or do you want to attempt to sleep off that injury?" Angel asked, concern in his voice.

"You can come in and if I fall asleep in your presence don't take it personally," I told him and he laughed at me for a moment.

"I'll try hard not to," he mumbled as he came into the room and shut the door firmly behind him. I crawled into the bed that B and I had been sharing this entire time. He pulled up the pant leg on my left leg and put the ice on the swollen parts and wrapped it up with the ace bandages. Angel then helped me get the covers over my body comfortably

"So what brings you here to spend time with me?" I asked him after he was done and he just smiled at me.

"I told you we had to talk and after the comment you made during the talk tonight and the events that happened at the fight tonight we really need to talk."

"I never pegged you as the person to volunteer for a talk," I sarcastically threw at him and he smiled at me gently not caring that I was making fun of him.

"Yeah well people change Faith. You should know and understand that."

"I do."

"I'm truly sorry that I left you in that jail cell all by yourself," Angel told me as he sat down on the side of the bed next to my hips facing me, putting one hand over my thighs and effectively trapping me on the bed underneath him. "I'm sorry that I couldn't be there to keep you sane and help you out when things got too rough. You have every right to hate me and I wouldn't expect anything less than that from you at this point.
"I tried to save Darla when she came back in human form. I really did. I did everything that I could to help her, to make sure that death wouldn't take her, and make sure that she was given the chance to live a normal life. I should have realized that things I love and try to help usually end up broken and hurt in the end. I couldn't save her when Dru came to change her and I couldn't save her once she was a vampire again. I couldn't seem to get it into my head that she was the enemy now and not the innocent human that W&H brought back into this world.
"I suppose that I can apologize until the end of time about leaving you and deserting you but in the end it all comes down to whether you believe me or not, whether you trust that I wouldn't lie to you Faith."

"You left me alone in there. You convinced me it was the right thing to do to go to jail and suffer the consequences for what I did. You also promised me that if I made that decision then I wouldn't ever be alone, you would be right there beside me throughout the entire sentencing. I hated you so much for breaking that promise to me. I hated you with everything I had in me and yet for some reason I knew that the minute that I saw you or talked to you that all that hate would disappear and I would forgive you without an explanation – just like that. I'm weak without you Angel and I hate that I have found that out about myself. It makes me vulnerable. Weaknesses are usually the death of Slayers and I don't want you to be the cause of my death because somewhere deep down inside me I know that somehow you will be.
"I understand the dilemma that you had when Darla was brought back as a human and when she was changed into a vampire. I can sort of understand why you just wanted to be alone and why everything you had was put into her. I understand that Angel, I really do. But what I haven't figured out yet is why after she was dead you left. You didn't make sure that I was still alive after that fall out the window and you didn't stick around to let me see you when I came out of the coma I was in. I hate you for that still, I really do. I woke up more alone that day then I ever have been in my life. I had no idea whether you were dead or alive. I didn't know anything Angel and that scared me more than anything else has ever scared me in my life. The gang didn't know whether you were alive or not either, I mean you left nothing to prove that you were still in existence you just left again. You are really fucking good at that Angel, you really are.
"So I hate you for that Angel. I still do. I have been out of my coma for roughly ten months now and everyday I wake up praying to find you because when I did I promised myself that I wouldn't give in to your face or your charm or you. I promised myself that I would be strong and hate you like I have for every one of those days since you left me in jail alone. I hate that I can't hate you…I hate it," I told him angrily. I refused to meet his eyes at the moment because the emotions running through my body were really powerful.

"Why do you hate me? Because I left you to become strong for the both of us later, for us now?" Angel asked me so quietly I almost didn't hear him.

"Excuse me?" I asked him in disbelief.

"I couldn't be the man you needed me to be when the thing with Darla came up. I knew that you would be fine and I knew that I had left enough clues to let Cordelia know that I had been visiting you and that you were a possible link to me. I was banking on the fact that she would see you and keep coming back to visit you and then she would become the rock that you held onto and I was completely right. I couldn't do anything substantial for you while I was an emotional wreck. Darla stirred up things in me that I didn't know still existed. I wasn't prepared for them and I certainly didn't know how to handle them at all. I couldn't be unstable around you. It was better, in my opinion, for me not to be around you then to be unstable for you…for us," Angel admitted to me.

"What is with this 'for us' bullshit Angel? We aren't together! You don't care for me more than some little lost human soul you are saving. I'm not your girlfriend Angel – there is no 'us'!" I snapped at him, locking eyes with him over this argument.

"There could be Faith. If the situation was different…if things were different…if events hadn't transpired that actually did…then things between the two of us could have been different and I think that you know that."

"You mean if you hadn't already done the dating the Slayer charade and if your Sire hadn't come back into existence then we would have had a chance? Is that what you are saying? I don't play by what ifs Angel. What's done is done and neither one of us can do anything to change that. Things are the way they are going to always be. Nothing can go back and erase the past and change it. What's done is done Angel…you of all people should know that. We can't change who we are or what we have done!" I explained to him and he just smirked a little.

"You are definitely hard headed aren't you? You always think that you are missing out on something that Buffy had, aren't you? She had the perfect little family with the Mom that loved her, the perfect little circle of friends that would die for her, the perfect Watcher that loved her and would do anything under the sun for her, and the perfect little vampire boyfriend who worshipped her and killed his own for her. She was worshipped for her heroism and world renown and what were you? The replacement Slayer to Kendra who was the replacement to Buffy, who after all this time and two new Slayers, still isn't dead. You are just afraid you are going to be in Buffy's shadow all the time right? You are afraid that all you are ever going to get is Buffy's sloppy seconds? That it Faith?" Angel asked me, suddenly angry and confrontational. I wasn't sure what to make of this new vocal and insightful Angel. Things over the past few years had changed him from the quiet, brooding vampire to the expressive, emotional one he was today.

"I'm not afraid of anything Angel certainly not of being second best to Buffy. I am my own person, not her replacement. I'm Faith the Slayer. She died because she wasn't perfect and so I was called. I'm not beneath her, hear me, I'm not under her!" I snapped angrily at him and tried to push him away from me but he held his ground firmly.

"If you aren't afraid then why are you getting hostile Faith? If you honestly didn't question yourself and your status compared to Buffy then why would you defend yourself?"

"I hate you Angel. Stay away from me ok? Just leave me alone all right? I was doing just fine; we were doing just fine, while you were off finding yourself for whatever reason you decided this century to find yourself. I don't need you to be strong for me – I am strong enough for myself now. Cordelia plays guardian to me right now; you aren't needed – understood? You can play strong for someone else and pretend you have something with someone else…perhaps they will believe you when you tell them you have an 'us' with them," I snapped angrily at Angel. He was really making me pissed as hell right now. He was throwing all the insecurities I had back in my face after I finally gotten past them and begun to move on.

"Do you hate me honestly Faith? Or do you love me?" He asked me.

"I hate you," I quickly shot out of my mouth and then slid out from under him on the bed. I stood and looked back at him and his eyes showed true hurt. "Because I love you," I quietly admitted to him and then headed towards the door to leave the room. I planned on heading to Gunn and Cordy's room and climbing into bed with them and letting them hold me tightly and tell me everything was going to be ok, but I didn't even make it to the door. Angel was between the door and me almost instantly and I was a little shocked at the speed at which he moved.

"Say it again," he told me gently as he lifted up my chin gently to look down into my eyes.

"I hate you," I told him and he frowned a little and his hand dropped from my face. "Because I love you," I added quietly while keeping eye contact with him. "I always have, probably always will. I know it is a false hope, a dream, but it is what keeps me alive Angel."

"You love me?" Angel asked me quietly and returned his hand to my face, cupping his hand around one side.

"Yeah," I quietly muttered and then tried to move out of his embrace. This was too powerful for me and I really wasn't ready for this kind of intimacy.

"Good," he responded after a second.

"That is all you have to say to that?" I asked him, shocked. "I bare my soul and all you have to say is 'good'?"

"I'm flattered. I don't know what to say to you in response that you would believe. If I told you that I loved you back right now you would think I was just saying it to make you feel better and less out of place. So I'm not going to say it now Faith; I'll save it for another time when you aren't expecting to hear it in response. Then, in that moment, it will mean something to you," Angel responded and I looked up at him and smiled a genuine smile.

"Promise?" I asked of him.

"Always and forever," he responded and then motioned to the bed. "Right now you need to get some sleep and rest that leg. We'll talk about this later when the timing is better," he suggested to me and I just nodded to him and he helped me back into the bed, under the covers and such. After he tucked me in he bent down and quickly kissed my forehead and whispered "sweet dreams" before he turned to leave the room.

"Stay with me…" I called out as he reached for the doorknob. I saw him hesitate and then turn back to look at me through the darkness of the room.

"Why Faith, afraid of the dark?" He teased me gently, attempting to take the edge off the seriousness of the request I had just asked of him.

"Yeah the vampire Slayer who was afraid of the dark…" I laughed a little and then my smile died. "Stay Angel," I asked of him again. He didn't answer me but he did come back to the other side of the bed. I felt the mattress shift as he sat down to take off his shoes.

"I'm going to go change and then I'll be right back ok? I just want to throw on more comfortable clothes," Angel explained to me as he rose from the bed.

"Screw the comfortable the clothes Angel, just stay. Sleep naked for all I care, just stay with me," I begged him. I heard rustling as clothes were being pulled off. He took off his over-shirt and his socks and then he pulled back the covers on his side of the bed and climbed in next to me, but not touching me. When I woke up several hours later it was late morning, perhaps noon even and I was securely held in Angel's arms. I knew from that moment on that things would be ok between Angel and me. I knew that Angel was coming back to L.A., back to Angel Investigations, and back to me.
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