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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Vulnerability of Faith". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Charles Gunn left L.A. in 2006 to get away from the Angel Investigations. Twenty-three years later his son shows up in L.A. to find Angel -- to let Angel and Company know what really happened to Charles Gunn. Sequel to "the vul. of faith"

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Other BtVS/AtS Characters(Moderator)DemonaFR181227,997033,9762 Aug 032 Aug 03Yes

Chapter Four: Learning The Tricks Of The Trade

For Disclaimer and Notes see first chapter.

Chapter Four: Learning The Tricks Of The Trade

Somehow over the course of the next month I managed to survive not only with the demons roaming the streets of LA but with the members of the group I was living with. Giles and Cassandra left for Sunnydale a few days after I arrived in LA. They returned to their home there and tended to the shop. Halfway through that month Willow and Oz headed back to Sunnydale. Shortly after they left I was alone in the shop with Dawn, tending the shop on a usually slow Sunday. We had just got done filing some paperwork and everything else was done that needed to be done for the day. We were both bored due to the lack of people in the store. So Dawn was sitting down at one of the tables in the middle of the store and she was looking over some of the material for one of her classes.

“Dawn?” I asked, quietly, hoping she wouldn’t be mad for disturbing her.

“Yeah?” She asked me, looking up from her book.

“I was wondering…” I started as I stepped out from behind the register and behind the counter. “I was wondering if you would tell me what happened in 2005,” I asked her. I sat down at the table across from her. She sighed heavily and then closed her book while rising out of her seat.

“Let me grab a drink. I’ll be right back,” she told me. I figured that she would return with a bottle of water like she normally did, but that was not the case this time. No, she came back with a bottle of Jack Daniels and two shot glasses. She put one down in front of me and then kept one for herself. She quickly poured herself a shot and drank it quickly not even making a face as the liquor went down her throat. She looked back at me then after she set her shot glass back down. “Feel free to partake at any time,” she informed me and I just nodded to her. “What exactly do you want to know?” She finally asked me after a long silence.

“What happened? How did Angel become human? You and Cordelia become Immortal? Faith become whatever she is today? Why did my father leave? What happened?” I asked her and she poured herself another shot.

“I’ll try to keep it short,” she told me and then quickly swallowed the second shot. “Cordelia was a seer up until the day that Buffy died in 2005. Basically what a seer is, is a person that gets visions from the Powers That Be. Whatever the PTB want her to see she sees and then it’s basically her mission then to tell someone about them, or to act on them herself. She worked with Angel, the PTB’s champion, which was expected and the whole reason for the visions. She got a vision of Buffy dying and then she got the vision of the end the world, the opening the Hellmouth,” she paused and poured herself the third shot. She was silent for a few moments while she picked up the glass and swirled the amber liquid around in the glass before setting it back down for the time being. Her eyes never left that liquor as she continued the story. “Buffy was my sister, well, pretty much my sister. I was a ball of energy up until 2000. Then some monks did a spell and turned me into a human, a fourteen-year-old girl, and sent me to Buffy in the form of a sister because they knew that Buffy would die to protect me from the Hellgod that was after me. Buffy was a Slayer, like Faith, up until that fateful day when everything changed in 2005. No one knows about my Immortality. I’m not part of the game like Richie and Cordelia, but at the same time I can’t die, believe me, I’ve tried. And I don’t appear to be aging; I mean, you said yourself that I don’t look a day over nineteen. Giles has no idea why I haven’t aged; they just figured that once Buffy died because of the blood bond we shared I just became sort of stuck on this earth, in this realm. The monks are all dead and their writings aren’t in language that anyone, including Adam, in this group knows anything about. We are guessing the language is that of another dimension and until we come across someone from that realm that we trust to translate the scrolls then we are just guessing. So, I just kinda sit here in time, without really knowing why I am alive and how much longer I have to live on this earth. I’m sure if my head is cut off from my body then I will die, but I’m no longer willing to risk that one. That is the best explanation on how I became immortal because no one really knows for sure. But I didn’t age a day after that fight, either when Buffy was turned or when she was dusted, that time period was so short that no one was able to tell when the exact date was. Any questions on this topic?” She asked as she finally looked up from her Jack Daniels. I shook my head no.

“Not at the present moment,” I told her honestly and she nodded and then downed her third shot. She put the top back on the bottle and pushed the glass aside.

“Good, now who is next on your discussion list?”

“Faith,” I answered quietly.

“She was turned into a vampire after Buffy drained her. She knew that she was going to die but she still walked into that fight, head held high; ready to throw it all away to save the world. I have never been prouder of her in my whole life as I was in that moment,” she answered. “Spike, her vampire best friend of sorts, drained some of his blood the night before the fight and saved it, he knew that she would be drained and he wanted her to be made into a vampire to keep her life with Angel. He knew that he couldn’t have her that Angel needed and deserved her, so he gave his life essentially to keep theirs together. Since then she has changed emotionally. She has both Spike and Buffy’s blood in her and I think that somehow it actually did affect the way that she thinks. She took over the role as my big sis. I hardly ever go anywhere without her basically always makes me check in. And she calls me ‘little bit’ and ‘niblet’; they were Spike’s pet names for me. She is hard to read sometimes. I know that she comes off as a hard ass and always confident, but there has been so much evil in her life…I sometimes wonder how she lives through each moment of each day,” Dawn softly explained to me. She would hardly speak above a whisper while describing Faith. Her voice clearly spoke of her love and utter awe for Faith. Something that I didn’t understand at all.

“So that is the story of Faith? What about this invincibility crap that I keep hearing?” I carefully asked. Obviously I wasn’t careful enough and her head whipped up and caught my gaze and held it angrily.

“She is strong Wesley. Pretty much unstoppable. Even Angel might have a hard time stopping her. She has been practicing magic with Willow and Oz since she was turned and…she is just strong Wesley. Don’t even think about messing with her…you will only get burned badly,” she told me with a serious warning in her voice. I held up my hands in an attempt at surrender.

“Whoa there Dawn. I was just wondering. I mean, what happens if she turns evil?”

“Faith is not ‘good’ Wesley. She never was one of the good guys. She was constantly battling between good and evil, black and white, and I don’t think in her human life she ever found that line. It is a fine line she walks. I don’t envy her at all. But if she were to turn evil we would kill her. But it won’t happen. She has a deep link with four of us in our circle. If anything should happen then we would be able to contain her simply by the link,” Dawn vaguely told me. I was interested immediately in the link that she mentioned, but she didn’t elaborate at all.

“Ok, I relent for now. Who’s next? Angel?” I asked her and she nodded.

“The Nyazian scrolls had a section entitled the Prophecies of Aberjian. They talked of a vampire with a soul. Basically the gist, to make a long-winded stuffy story short, is that the vampire with the soul would shanshu, which if translated correctly means to live and to die, the same. So, what happens to a vampire if he is already dead?” Dawn asked me and looked up at me, waiting for me to answer on my own.

“Dust?” I asked, really confused about her question.

“You’re not listening Wesley. What is the opposite of death?”

“Life?” I asked, with a confused tone.

“Exactly. The Prophecies of Aberjian said that Angel would shanshu – which because he is already dead would mean he would be given life. A human life. After he fulfilled his destinies and lived through several years of hardship, etc, etc. But Angel did it. He killed everything that he was supposed to kill and he stopped the Apocalypse of 2005, which he was all destined to do. So, his reward after doing this, was life, human life,” she told me quietly, her eyes were brimming with unshed tears. I was confused.

“He is a vampire though right? I mean, you guys said that he was still a vampire with a soul,” I questioned, confused as hell now.

“He is now. For a few years after 2005 he was human. Walked in the sun, ate human food, almost died like humans tend to do. He wasn’t strong enough to keep up with his line of work. He almost died and almost got all of us killed, especially Faith on many occasions because she would sacrifice herself and us for him.

”Angel was almost killed by a group of humans one night, in 2008, that just felt the urge to beat up some defenseless human. He didn’t have his vampiric strength to save his life and he was alone that night. They put him in a coma for three months. Faith was a wreck. They weren’t dating at this point. She never located the boys that did it to him, but she made it perfectly clear on the street that she would kill whoever did this to him. Word traveled fast and the people that were responsible either ran from LA or died. She didn’t have to kill them…others knew that it was Faith’s city and they remembered Angel from his vampire days and they took care of it for her.

”After he got out of the coma he immediately headed out looking for a vampire to turn him back. Faith found him, barely alive, almost completely drained, covered in ashes, in an alley behind the hotel. He had no life left in him. She was left with two horrible choices: watch him die or turn him. You know the outcome. It destroyed her. She chose selfishly because even though they weren’t on the best of terms right then she knew she couldn’t live without him. To this day it has plagued her, haunted her, etc. To see him is to be reminded again and again of her failure, of her weakness, of his now permanent damnation. His gift is gone, his reward for his service, gone, she took it and damned him. That is part of the reason that he left for Ireland. Cordelia going with him was a spur of the moment decision. She wanted to get out of LA and just do something with herself. See the sights, etc. Angel’s trip offered her that. She offered him company. So Faith has been here alone, essentially, in LA and I don’t think that she has been happier in a long time. She misses them, Cordelia more so than Angel at this point, but she is learning that she can live without them both.

”So, Angel is now again a vampire with a soul. The PTB haven’t been forthcoming with information anymore since 2005. We don’t know why, even after Angel returned to being a vampire, the visions never came back to us. We fight on our own now…patrolling and looking for our own clues as to who needs saving,” she told me and I nodded slowly, taking it all in.

“Tell me about Cordelia,” I instructed.

“I don’t really know that much about her and Gunn. I don’t…I wasn’t close with them. I’m not sure…I’m not sure that I’m able to tell you what I know, what I remember correctly, but Faith, perhaps, would be the best person to ask about her. She can tell you anything you need to know about Cordelia,” Dawn informed me and I raised an eyebrow at that. “They are very close,” she simply answered. The front door to the shop opened and in walked Faith and Amanda. Both of them were smiling about something and I figured I just didn’t need/want to know.

“Well, well, what are you two slackers doing?” Faith asked as she pulled one of the extra chairs out from the table, spun it around backwards and then sat down in between Dawn and me.

“I was telling him about the fight in 2005 and the aftereffects,” Dawn said and I blushed a little at her brutal honesty. Amanda sat down properly in the chair across from Faith and on my/Dawn’s other side.

“Well, Wesley, what do you want to know? If you want to know about Cordy then I’m your girl,” Faith told me and uncapped the bottle of Jack. She grabbed the shot glass that Dawn was using and poured herself a shot. She quickly knocked it back without making a face either. These two girls would probably drink me under the table. They also had that whole Immortal, unable to die, thing going for them.

“I just wanted to know what happened to Cordelia. How did she become an Immortal and why did her and my Dad split up?” I asked quietly. She put the cap back on the bottle and pushed the shot glass aside.

“When Buffy was turned into a vampire we didn’t know. We knew that her neck was ripped open and that she had like no blood in her. We weren’t, at the time, positive of the actual reason for her death. We were just all in shock because Buffy was dead for real and there was no way that she was coming back from this. To this day none of us, that survived the battle, can figure out why we didn’t take the necessary precautions with her body, because there were bite marks and blood loss. We didn’t even think about the fact that the vampires could have possibly have turned her, we were stuck on the fact that she was dead. Willow and Xander, an original member of the Scooby Gang, he is the guy in the picture on the wall behind the register with the others; they took Buffy to the morgue and then went back later that day to pay their final respects, just the two of them. That was our mistake. As I said earlier none of us were thinking clearly and never thought about the fact that Buffy could have been turned. Buffy was waiting for them to come back and she ended up turning Xander and taking him with her. She snapped Willow’s neck and left her in Buffy’s coffin. Only Willow, as you know, didn’t stay dead and came back and told us about Xander and Buffy. So, all that back-story was to explain Xander because he was the vampire that took Cordelia’s life. He found her when she was alone and away from Gunn and he killed her. She staked him but it was too late. The blood loss killed her. She died in Gunn’s arms, she made him promise to find another, to love another woman, to have children and he did promise her that, her dying wish. She came back to life and it was hard for the two of them to deal with each other. They tried to work it out but Gunn was having a hard time trying to date an Immortal. She knew it was killing him to be with her. They were both, unknown to each other, afraid that Gunn would be used for bait and Cordelia loved him enough to give her life to give Gunn a few more seconds and perhaps a chance to escape.
"She came to me about a year after we moved back to LA after the fight in Sunnydale. Things between everyone were strained. Angel and I had broken up about a month after returning to LA. I wanted to give him his freedom as a human until he was certain he had his fill of the world, however, he wanted to experience it with me but I wouldn’t allow it.
"Cordelia swore me to secrecy and then asked for my help with a project. She told me that Gunn was stuck with her and that he didn’t really want to be there but he couldn’t leave her either. She told me she wanted to kill herself. Whether it be permanent or fake, but either way it had to be enough for Gunn to completely believe that she was dead, so that he would move on. I didn’t know what to say. She came to me because she knew I could pull it off. I could pull off the acting, the magic needed to give the illusion that her head was severed from her body, etc. So we planned her death. Months of planning went into this. We spent every moment we could doing this because it was going to take a lot more than just the initial act of her death. She was going to need some place to hide until Gunn left LA, assuming Gunn even left LA, but that was a situation she was going to deal with on her own. She didn’t want anyone else in on the plan at all but I argued with her constantly until she realized that I was right and we did need help. Help hiding her afterwards and help ‘killing’ her. So I enlisted two of the people that I trusted most in this world: Adam and Giles. Adam agreed to help with the death and Giles agreed to hide her until it was safe for her to return to LA. The reason that we decided to keep everyone else in the dark about the betrayal was because we couldn’t count on them to betray him and to be able to act correctly in the situation. Adam and I could do it, we would do it for Cordelia, but the others we weren’t sure about. Giles even promised not to tell Cassandra until after Cordelia’s funeral. The whole entire thing was a huge project, but we did it, we pulled it off,” Faith told me and I just sat there in total shock. I didn’t see her move to pour me a shot of Jack or see her put it in front of me. I looked up at her and then took the glass and quickly knocked back the shot. I did make a face and I almost choked on it, but it went down and they all had the common courtesy not to laugh. I carefully set the glass back on the table and she went to pour me another but I waved her away.

“She staged her death? My father left LA thinking that Cordelia was dead for good?” I asked them and their silence and moment of hesitation told me that I was right.

“You have to understand Wesley that she did this with his best intentions at heart. If she hadn’t then he might still have been here, still fighting in LA, or even worse, dead because of her. She couldn’t let that happen. She didn’t want to be responsible for his death,” Faith tried to explain to me. “If she hadn’t then you wouldn’t be here today,” she quietly added and I glared at her.

“She broke my father’s heart. You helped her! Adam and Giles as well! You are all cold-hearted bastards!” I screamed at them and rose quickly from my seat. Neither of the three stood to stop me.

“We did what needed to be done. I did what needed to be done for my best friend. If I hadn’t staged her death then it might have happened for real,” she told me.

“So you would rather ruin my father’s life then…”

“In an instant,” she cut me off. I glared down at her. “My priorities are always with Cordelia. Only two people have a priority over her. Dawn is one because I promised I would protect her with my life if necessary and Angel is the other. I don’t think that you understand what it is like to have priorities and to have made promises to people,” Faith snapped back at me.

“I promised my father once I got this box that I wouldn’t stop until I found this mysterious ‘Angel’. Now I just have to sit on my ass and hope that he comes back alive and doesn’t trip and fall on a splinter,” I shot back. I was pissed and starting to want to hurt her.

“If you can’t deal with the answers then you shouldn’t have asked the questions,” Dawn finally broke into the conversation. I looked down at her.

“How was I supposed to know what actually transpired? My father was betrayed by people he loved and trusted!” I yelled back.

“Sit down or get out my shop,” Amanda coolly said and I looked at her. The calm look had not left her face but that voice was evidence that she meant business. I sat back down in the chair and then looked over at Faith.

“Please continue with the story,” I told her through gritted teeth.

“I am going to show you rather than tell you. This requires that you let me into your mind. I am going to go back into my mind, back to that time, and show you the events that transpired, like you are watching it from my eyes in the present. Ok?” Faith asked me and I laughed loudly.

“That is bullshit, there is no way that I am going to allow you to do that!” I yelled at her and she cocked an eyebrow.

“I can’t exactly explain everything the right way – it best to show you,” she argued with me.

“Is this going to hurt?” I asked finally after a few moments of silence and internal deliberation.

“The actual act of entering my mind will not hurt. The problem is going to be how you deal with the memories. They might cause you emotional/mental pain, but that is the only thing that will cause you any pain,” she admitted and I nodded slowly.

“So what do I do?” I asked finally. She scooted her chair closer to me and looked me right in the eye.

“Relax,” she softly told me and then reached her hands up gently and placed them on my temples. I looked into her eyes and then I was gone. It was the freakiest thing, one second I am looking into her eyes and in the shop and the next I am inside her mind and then a scene unfolds and I’m inside her, looking out at Cordelia in front of me.
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