Author: Kat Lee
Dedicated To: With endless love to my beloved, inspirational Drew who requested this one with one of her favorite songs
Fandom: Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Word Count: 1,524
Date Written: 17 January 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
She used to think she would die living like this, fighting day and night, living her life one battle after the next. She would have scoffed if anybody had told her she was afraid, would have lied to herself and to them and told them she feared absolutely nothing, lest of all death. She didn't fear death, what would come after or even that final cut that would end her life. She still doesn't, but her reasons have changed.
A part of her, not too long ago, had wanted to die. She'd wanted to go out on the top of her game, to go out in a blaze of glory that would leave her name being whispered about by both sides of the Supernatural world for ages. She used to fight to survive -- not to keep from being killed but in order to actually live. The only time she felt anything was when she fought. The pulse of adrenaline was what she lived for.
But things have changed. She's changed. She's not entirely sure when it happened, but fighting isn't only about survival. She no longer lives to fight; she, like the rest of those in her team, now fights to live. It's not about her team mates or even her friends, and yeah, she actually does have friends now. It's not about the fear of what will happen if she doesn't fight -- not to herself or to the world at large. Buffy will take care of the world, and as for herself, Faith no more fears dying now than she did then.
The simple fact is she simply doesn't want to any more. She wants to live. She wants to see the next adventure. She wants to feel the pump of adrenaline in her blood and what will come next. And when it gets dark, every night when it gets dark, she wants to see him.
She no longer has to fight her battles alone. She hasn't for a long time now. There was a time when she chose to fight them although she didn't have to, but now she enjoys knowing some one else will fight with her. There's a certain reassurance in knowing her back is watched, in knowing that her partner will see that one attack from behind her that she might otherwise miss, in knowing she'll live to fight another day because she's no longer fighting alone. She's fighting with him.
If anybody had told her back in her first days in Sunnydale, and especially during the time she turned to the Mayor for the love she wouldn't admit, even to herself, she was craving, that she and Angel would become the closest of friends, she would have called them psycho and cut them for teasing her. That girl -- that broken child who had been as misunderstood by others as she had misunderstood herself -- had truly believed she didn't need anybody, but Angel had waited patiently on the sidelines until she'd finally stopped running from herself.
He had been there for her when nobody else had. He had helped her to find the courage to do what was right, to pay for her crime and had stood by her, visiting her constantly when he'd been able, while she'd paid that debt to society. She snorts even now, thinking back. The debt wasn't to society. The debt was to herself. The time she'd served may have been to satisfy society and clean her name as best she could, but she had helped herself by staying there. It wasn't serving the time itself that had helped to restore her faith in her own self; it was the lives she'd touched, the lives of the battered, young women she had met behind the bars and who she had helped to become whole again.
That was another thing she had once thought a lie but was truth: Buffy, Giles, Wesley, and Angel had all told her that through helping others, she could help herself. She hadn't believed them, but they were right. They were right in more ways than one, but still, none of them could have foreseen what was going to happen. She never would have believed she'd be leading young girls herself, much less getting so much comfort from the back pressed against hers.
She swipes another Demon's head clean off his shoulders. Looking around for her next target, or next attacker whichever comes first, Faith realizes that the battle has slowed. Her girls are doing good. She watches, feeling Angel's back pressed against her own, even as they fight two more Demons. They dispatch them quickly, even as her girls finish off theirs, and the battle that's lasted for hours tonight finally comes to an end.
She hears her girls cheering as her dark eyes sweep the area. There are a few cuts, a few bloody wounds, and there'll be many more bruises tomorrow. But they won. Again. And they did it as a team. She smiles, listening to her girls congratulating each other and hearing her own blood sing with adrenaline.
"They did good tonight."
"Yeah." She glances sideways at Angel, who now stands beside her, his heavy broadsword hanging loosely between them.
"They have a good teacher."
"Who wouldn't be here if not for you."
"Faith, I -- "
She turns to face him, understanding yet another thing that she'd once believed impossible has happened. For the first time in a very long time, for the first time since before she was called, she's fallen for a man again. He's smiling so sheepishly right now. It's cute. He's so bashful he almost looks like a virgin, but he's not a virgin. They're both hard, embittered warriors, but he's the reason, she knows, that she now looks forward to the start of every night rather than simply trudging through her life. Being with him, being next to him all night, is what's really singing in her blood. "I never did thank you properly."
"Faith, I -- " he stammers again.
Barely aware that the back of her hand got scraped in the battle and is bleeding now, Faith places a hand on his that's holding his sword and leans up. She brushes his lips across his in the softest kiss she's ever given any one, a butterfly kiss, a whisper and a tingle of her lips against his, a kiss that, at one time, she would not have even considered to be a true kiss and yet now leaves her tingling inside all the way through the ends of her curling toes. Her mouth brushes against his a single time as she gazes up into his deep, dark eyes.
She's seen those eyes filled with so many tears over the years they've known each other, but tonight they glisten with something else, something uncertain, something . . . afraid? she wonders. Is Angel afraid of her? No. Of course not, she tells herself even as she recognizes that, unlike the girl she once was, the woman she is now would never hold that fear against him, not to gloat over him or to hurt him. As much as she now wants to live, she'd still rather die than ever truly hurt him.
So she kisses him once fast, brief, and easy, smiles up at him, and whispers with great sincerity, "Thanks." Then she turns back to her girls and walks away. She understands what he's afraid of. He's not afraid of her; he's afraid of losing her. He's afraid of losing his dearest friend, and that's exactly why, she recognizes too, that it's taken her this long to make a move on him at all since he helped to heal her soul.
She doesn't want to lose him. She can't lose him. She doesn't know what she'd become if he wasn't there for her every night of her life. Even when they're not together, she knows he's only a call away, and she knows she's actually got somebody who will stop at absolutely nothing to reach her whenever she needs him. She won't lose that friend. Of all the things she's willing to risk in this world, she won't run risk of losing his friendship.
But as she moves away, her low-clad hips swaying like the lusty predator she is by nature, and she tastes the lingering effects of his lips against hers, Faith smirks. She licks her lips, relishing that taste. Life continues. She won't make another move, but it's because she'd have her life be no other way. She wants Angel by her side forever, having her back, having her faith, keeping her safe and secretly loved in the knowledge that she has him, being there for her always, being her partner in all ways, making her want to live instead of merely survive.
Far behind Faith and the cheering girls, left in the shadows and apparently forgotten for now, definitely unseen for now, Angel grins and licks his own lips, tasting Faith. She wants him. He just isn't ready to let her know she already has him, but he does and she will forever.