Rating: NC 17 (overall)
Spoilers: AtS Series Finale
Summary: Wherein saving the world is merely a coincidence, bickering eventually leads to moments of pure genius, and completely unhinged and utterly doomed various personae manage to pull off a staggering moment of heroism. And how the Apocalypse isn't averted. A Comedy told in various parts.
Pairings: Faith/Illyria, Angel/Spike (minor: Illyria/Wes, Faith/Wes, Angel/Buffy, Buffy/Spike, Lilah/Wes, Wes/Fred)
Author's Notes: A plotbunny came and clobbered me on the head. And this is a dreaded WIP, but I'm going to finish this in a timely matter, come hell or the Apocalypse.
Warnings: violence, language, sexual content, slash
Previous parts can be found here and
we help the hopeless
Angel's still sitting in the same seat when she returns. Spike's sleeping off in the corner, a bottle of liquor nearby, empty. Gunn is also sleeping, but he's resting on a makeshift bed, new bandages applied.
Faith doesn't quite frown, but she does smell the stench of failure and it ain't pretty.
Illyria wanders off, leaving before Faith can ask where in the hell she's going.
"Cigarette?" she says, sitting next to Angel, taking a cigarette from its case.
Surprisingly, he takes it and after she lights it for him and lights one for herself, he says, "There's a ticket waiting for you. Whenever you want to go."
He takes a long drag off of his cigarette then, impressing even her. She smokes quietly for a couple of minutes before he exhales, a dark cloud against the lamplight. The windows have tarps carefully in place, but there's a crack of light across the space in the middle of their makeshift quarters. Barely an inch, but still.
"I ain't going anywhere, Angel. You know that." She wants to add, 'you need me' but there's something too cliché about that, and he knows already. She doesn't owe him, that would be too easy. But he brought her back. That shit you don't forget.
He looks at her. The cigarette remains in his hand, burning down. Occasionally he flicks it, letting the ashes fall.
"Faith," he says softly, "We're not going to survive this time."
"Man, you have to learn about blind optimism. You saw me at my worst and hell, maybe one day I'll be at my best. I'll remember to send a postcard," she adds, almost smiling. She stubs out her cigarette and lights up another. "Last time I was in L.A., the sun was gone, *you* were gone, and I got my ass thoroughly kicked. Now you're here, the sun is shining, and I just have a bruise on my thigh from when I got slammed into the wall. And that'll heal in a couple of hours. So that's all an upgrade from last year."
She blows smoke in his direction, but his face remains the same. Stoic can be really fucking annoying.
Wrinkling her nose at the smell of burning filter, she points to his cigarette and says, "You done with that?"
He stares at it as if he's never seen a cigarette before. He takes a long time to drop the butt, crushing it under his heel.
"When we last spoke, you were with someone. I-I don't remember his name."
Fuck. Talk about a bad time to make small talk.
"It ended," she replies, vaguely. "Not messy, just got bored." She makes a face. It's a terrible lie and Angel catches it, but doesn't say anything, which makes her want to explain.
But she doesn't. Wood's a great guy, but he wants too many things and Faith isn't ready at all for the big C. Commitment. Hell, being committed sounds a hell of lot more comfortable.
"Did Wes-was it quick?" She rushes the question out, almost hoping Angel didn't hear it.
"No." Angel doesn't look at her.
She concentrates on finishing her cigarette. Something heavy rests in her chest and she wants to cough. She doesn't.
She looks over at him and then, almost surprised at her own thick-headedness, says, "Shit, Angel. You're still bleeding."
He looks at where her eyes are currently frozen, an oozing cut across his forearm. He shrugs his shoulders and says, "Poison."
Faith lets out a bark of laughter that sounds nothing like a laugh. She doesn't want to know what it really sounds like. "You're not, you're not-"
He's not getting any better. Fuck.
"Listen to me," and his voice is too low and his eyes betray his thoughts for a moment, flickering over to glance to where Spike sleeps, "I want you to get out of here as soon as you can. This time you can't stay."
She wants to yell at him, she truly does. But instead she takes a very long breath, knowing it isn't as deep as it used to be, for once finally feeling the effect of her smoking. "You're right."
Angel looks surprised; he probably expected the cursing and the yelling. Which is what she'd normally do.
But there's nothing normal about this.
Leaning with her elbows on her knees, she says, a wide smile spreading across her face, trying to avoid looking at Angel's raw bruises and the rough slashes now decorating his body, "We need to get out of here. This place ain't safe. Got any good ideas?"
Angel motions to her cigarette, she expects him to take another impossibly long drag, instead he takes it in one hand and says loudly, "Spike? I can hear you craving one-"
"'Bout bloody time," grumbles Spike, getting up from his apparent pretense of sleeping like the dead. And oh, how Faith winces at that thought. He storms over and takes it, a long drag with a sharp smile after exhaling an ash-grey cloud. "So, you finally gonna let old Faith sign off on her death warrant?"
There is no expression on Angel's face, other than his general disgusted look at Spike, which Faith recognizes as an involuntary tic, much like her near-constant desire to pummel Spike. He certainly brings out the best in people.
"Look, we need a place that's a little less conspicuous-" Spike makes a surprised noise at her use of the word and before he can cut in, she says, "I had a word of the day calendar, jackass."
A couple of minutes passes. Faith forces herself not to do anything, instead she waits. She knows she's terrible at it, but hey, at least she's trying.
At least she's doing something.
Angel frowns, leaning back, winces as his right hands moves to hold his left shoulder. Finally, he begins to speak.
"There's a place. It's protected and no one can get in without an invitation." There is an ironic twist to Angel's mouth. "I was invited. We'd be safe, but- "
"We've been hidin' out in this rotted warehouse while you know of someplace better? What, a little Slayer comes by and then you decide let's make-"
"Hey what's that?" Faith cuts in and Spike turns to look at her, shooting a nasty look at her. "Oh must have been seeing things. And yet..."
She takes a stake out of her jacket, a hopefully innocent smile on her face, though she knows better. She passed 'innocent' a long, long fucking time ago.
She casts a glance at Angel and is surprised by his disapproving frown. Spike is too busy eyeing her to see it. Angel says in a vague, indifferent tone, "She would."
"It takes a bitch to know a bastard, after all, Spike," Faith says a little too brightly, putting her stake away. She'll never stop craving a good fight. "You want to go out again like the hero or like an ass?"
"Funny," Angel muttered under his breath, "Did he do both last time?"
Faith only rises her eyebrows in surprise, while Spike lets out a nasty laugh. "Always jealous, huh Angel? You wasting away and I went out like a champ-"
"Ah!" Faith's scream managed to drown out the end of that word. "That word is banned around me, okay? None of us are-like that. We're fucked-up heroes or reformed sinners at best. And Christ, I get why Buffy kept on ranting about how stupid that word sounded."
Angel and Spike's near-identical looks of wounded pride are fucking priceless. Next time she decides to help out with the saving-of-the-world, she'd remember to bring a camera.
If there is a next time.
Great, she's at the fatalism stage.
"How soon can we move out?"
"As soon as you are finished ingesting this foul food and drink," intones Illyria, arriving, well, not out of the blue, but certainly out of the thin fucking air. She holds up a cardboard drink holder of coffee cups and a box of Dunkin Donuts. "This body remembers fast food and the sugar and caffeine will provide something of a boost to your feeble systems."
Faith has a feeling that Illyria wants to add "pathetic beings" but doesn't want to sound straight out of a B sci-fi movie.
"Got any Boston Crème?"
Illyria blinks (finally) and says, "Yes."
"Great. First breakfast, then we move out." She takes a coffee from the cardboard holder and passes one to Angel, who takes it, although a bit hesitant. His arm doesn't look any better.
Faith forces herself not to think that Angel's running out of time. Hell, if Wolfram and Hart is hell-bent on getting rid of them, they all are.
But he's still bleeding.
Taking a bite of her donut, she tries not to gag at the taste of it, like ashes in her mouth. Illyria, still standing there, looks over at her, almost with an expression of - Faith doesn't know what it is.
She forces down the rest of the donut while Illyria continues to stare.
Forcing down the black coffee, she says to no one in particular, but staring down Illyria, "I think helping the hopeless used to be the mission, right?"
No one says anything in return. Illyria breaks contact first and Faith feels a twinge of victory, but doesn't know why.
Gunn's voice carries as he wakes up saying, "Somebody said something about donuts?"
To Be Continued