Review @ Norwalker
Post 11 of
Auburn, MA. Night
On a warm, humid night in Auburn, Massachusetts, Faith finds herself walking down a relatively deserted road. She looks up into the sky and sees the moon, but few stars. After the panoply of stars in the desert, it looks lonely. Sort of how she's feeling right now. So, go back to the hotel, snuggle in Red's arms, and feel better. What's your deal, Faith? She can't go back, not right now. she has too much to think about. Thinking and Willow's arms don't go together.
She feels worse, because she had to lie to Willow to be here right now.
" A walk? I'd love to go for a walk, " Willow sounds jazzed, " it's a warm night, beautiful time for a walk."
" No, Red, honey, I need to take a walk by myself, " Faith says.
"Alone?" Willow sounds a little hurt, " You don't want me to go with?"
Faith feels the tiny knife in her heart hearing the hurt in Willow's voice.
" No, sweetie, that's not it at all, " Faith smiles, " It's just… I need some think time… there's some things I need to think about."
" I'll be quiet, " Willow says," quieter than a mouse. I won't say anything. I just want to be with you."
" Red, I love you madly. That's the problem, " Faith says, truthfully enough, " When I'm with you, even if you're quiet, I can't seem to think of anything but you."
Willow blushes prettily, then holds out her arms and waves her hands, indicating she wants Faith to come to her.
" What?" Faith asks, complying
" Hug, need hug now!" Willow says, taking Faith in her arms and hugging her tightly. Faith laughs, she can't help it. Willow just does these wonderfully sweet and cute thing sometimes.
" Honey, what's wrong?" Willow says softly as she holds Faith, " you know you can tell me anything."
Faith wants to. She wants to tell her badly. Having secrets from Willow … hurts. It's never been like this for her before. As she looks into the soft green eyes in her lover's face, she wants to tell her it all… but she can't . She swore she'd keep this secret, and she can't go back on that.
" It's all a jumble up her, baby, " Faith says, pointing to her head, " I can't tell you cuz I don't have it straight in my mind. Do you get that? That's why I need to take the walk. Not even sure that'll help, but I guess I gotta try."
" Is this about your grandmother, Faith?" Willow asks. She looks steadily into Faith's dark, deep eyes.
Faith looks into those eyes, those eyes which look at her with such love and trust. She looks into them, never wanting to see hurt there, not that she caused, nor pain, nor distrust. She looks right into those eyes, and lies.
" Yeah… " Faith says, quietly, " still freaked about seeing her. Gotta get my mind wrapped around it."
" It's gonna be ok, sweetie, " Willow says , holding Faith and rubbing her back, " it's gonna fine. You'll see."
" You don't know the Grandmother, Willow, " Faith says, " she's not cool like your grammy. She's… different". That's gotta be the biggest understatement of the century, Faith thinks to herself.
" How's she different? I don't get you, " Willow says, " is she like from mars? Or has 3 eyes? or something like that?"
" No, crazy girl. She… we've never been close, the Grandmother and me…it's really…" Faith shivers. Thoughts of the grandmother do that to her.
" Shhh… there, there, " Willow comforts her. " I don't get it, Faith. Why do you call her that, anyway?"
" Call her what?"
" The Grandmother. Like she's a thing, not a person."
" I call her that because the only way I can address her is as " Grandmother" Never Grandma. She's never encouraged…affection between us, " Faith laughs," I'm guessing that's because I'm like the bad seed of the family, the rebel. She's very… proper."
" But you want affection from her, is that right? You crave her love and approval?" Willow asks.
" Gee, Dr. Phil, let's not go there, what say?" Faith says, wanting to get off the subject.
" I'm really not trying to psychoanalyze you, Faith, " Willow says, " I'm just trying to understand."
" What's the big here, Red?" Faith says, growing irritated, " she hates me, ok? She can barely stand to be in the same room with me. She blames me for my mother hating her, and that's just the way things are. I don't even know why she wants to see me now, Red. Frankly, it makes no sense. But that's what I gotta do, cuz she made it a stipulation for loaning me some money. Frankly, I'd rather not… but no choice. Ok? Clear now?"
" That doesn't make sense, Faith. Why would you're grandmother blame you for your mom's feelings?"
" Don't be dense, Red," Faith says, fully irritated by now.
" Hey. How is me not understanding making me dense?" Willow is getting annoyed.
" I'm a bastard, Red, get it?" Faith sees Willow's blank expression, " I'm illegitimate, girlfriend. Daddums knocked up Mummy without getting a piece of paper saying their married. Getting clearer? No? Well, I know in the rest of the country, having a child out of wedlock is no biggie. Nobody, or almost nobody, gives a rat's ass. But that's not the case in Boston Society. Not amongst the Brahmins. Being born a bastard is equivalent to being a criminal. Tried and convicted for having the nerve to be born without married parents. Of course, Dear old Margaret, the Grandmother, couldn't stand for that. That's … dirty. See? So of course she cut off her daughter. Financially, emotionally, the whole nine yards. And when the money stopped coming in, Daddums took a powder. That's all he wanted outta dear old mom… her money. So, guess who mom blames for Daddums doing a Houdini? You got it, babycakes. Dear old Faith. She wanted to get rid of me…understand, Red. She wanted to abort me. I have to give the Grandmother credit. She wouldn't let that happen. She did pay for the hospitalization and my birth. But the dear old broad then adopted me out… no bastard child would stain her doorstep. Uh-uh. That worked just dandy, except I was sickly as a baby, and my loving adoptive parents 'returned' me like a defective radio or something. So for the next five or six years I was at the tender mercies of Child Welfare. Hoo boy, was that fun. Passed from one set of Foster Care parents to another, until finally just dumped in a group home because, I guess I was trouble even then. No one wanted a sickly child. I stayed in the group home a couple of years, until I was like 8 or so. Then the Grandmother, either having the guilts, or something, rescued me. Oh, joy, oh joy. Back in the loving arms of the family, huh? Forget it. Boarding school. Every year, all year, except for holidays. Until I was like 13, and got sick of it, and ran away. Right into the loving, nurturing environs of Juvey Hall. Not very bright, this girl. The Grandmother got over her guilt, cuz she didn't 'rescue' me a second time. I would be on the fast track for Death row, except for my watcher. At least she wanted me. Ok, only cuz I was a potential. But she … seemed to care… at least until Kakistos…" Faith stops. The memory of that night is like a bullet in her heart. " So there it is , babycakes. Whattya think? I want Granny's love and affection? Please. The only time I even talk to her is to guilt her into giving me some cash. Got it? Clear now? That's what's wigging me, cuz I don't know what she wants from me… surely not wanting to bake me cookies. "
Willow stands open mouthed. She walks over to Faith, to hold her, but Faith just waves her off.
" No, don't EVEN do that. Not looking for your pity, Red. That's not the point. Don't you get it? I'm just trying to figure The Grandmother's angle. She's gotta have one, and it's buggin' me."
"Faith… I'm not pitying you. I'm trying to hug you. I want you to know I'm here for you, gonna be here for you, no matter what. I love you, Faith."
Then Faith, upset, says something that would later come back to haunt her. " Don't make promises, Red. Don't say things like that. People change. Things change. Don't look for forever, I don't".
"Faith, " Willow's voice is almost a whisper, " don't you trust me? Don't you know I'll stick by you? Don't you?"
" It's not trust, not about trusting you, babe, " Faith's says. She stops and looks at Willow, and her voice softens, " Every day I have you, every day I wake up and you're in my arms, every day I go to sleep with you next to me? I'm the luckiest woman alive. I love you so much, Red. More than I've ever loved anyone before. More than I'll ever love anybody after. But if you're gone tomorrow, for whatever reason, I know I gotta deal. That's what life's taught me. I don't expect anything to last…" Faith fades off.
Willow's face looks bleak. " That's harsh, Faith, " She whispers. " I think maybe you should go for awhile… take that walk…"
"Red…" Faith realizes she may have crossed a line. She walks towards Willow.
" No, go… " Willow says, crossing her arms over her chest, as if hugging herself." Please. I need some time. Go."
The last thing Faith saw before she left their room was Willow standing there, staring at the wall and hugging herself.
Faith stands still, wondering why she told Willow so much. All she had to do was tell her she wanted to figure out what to say to The Grandmother… she didn't need to go into all that stuff. The worst being, it wasn't even the real excuse for being out here.
She had to plan how she was going to pull off the second part of the mission. The part Angel hadn't told Willow about. The part Faith couldn't tell Willow about.
There was a gang of demons that ran the south side of Boston. Not in the public eye; demons don't work that way. But they had control, nonetheless. They had the support of Wolfram and Hart, and had a cushy little power base.
The leader of the gang was an M'skela demon. They are a unique demon as they can exist real time in multiple dimensions. But there is a drawback to their existence. Only one member of any 'family' can exist in a dimension at
a time. The current leader wanted to pass his leadership onto his son, and retire to another dimension. The only way that could happen is if the M'skela demon 'died' in this dimension. It's a 'ritual' death that only causes the host body in this dimension to die. Wolfram and Hart performs this 'service' for the M'skela, and in turn receive… compensation. Normally the Boston branch of W&H would handle this, but Angel requested the assignment as he would have an appropriate agent in the field. Boston agreed, and it was set. What W&H 's senior partners didn't know is that Angel had a 'surprise' for the M'skela demon.
Faith took out the weapon Angel had given her to complete the assignment. It was a double bladed ritual knife, the kind usually used for this assignment. But there was a difference. It was a blessed blade. The blade had been blessed by a powerful warlock. It changed the nature of the blade, and made it deadly to the M'skela demon in not only this dimension, but in every dimension it existed. Effectively, when the ritual was carried out, the Demon would be dead…everywhere.
"What's the deal, Angel? Why're you doing this?" Faith asked." And why me?"
" I have my reasons, Faith, " Angel said, turning his back and walking to the window, looking out over the city.
Angel indeed had his reasons. He learned that the M'skela demon had conspired with Sahjhan to kill Connor. There were a lot of things you found out when you had the resources of W&H at your command. Angel had given up a lot to ensure Connor a normal life. Including the fact that anyone beside himself remembered Connor or who he was. Including Connor himself. Angel could never see him again, he knew that. But that didn't mean he wasn't going to protect him… and as long as the M'skela demon lives, Connor might be in danger. He wouldn't allow that. And, to be honest, there was the sweetness of revenge for what they'd done to Connor and himself.
" I can't give you all the details, Faith. The thing is evil, believe me. It's done a lot of bad things in its time here on Earth. It needs to die fully ,once and for all. You've got to trust me on this." He turns from the window, and returns to his desk.
Trust me, Faith thinks to herself. Why is it every time I hear that, little bells go off in her head? Alarm bells!
"Kinda sketchy boss." Faith replies, " not being exactly expansive on the reasons here."
" I'll understand if you don't want to do this, Faith, " Angel says, just a slight note of disappointment in his voice.
" I didn't say that, Angel," Faith asserts, " I just … wish I knew more of the why's, and not always just the who's"
"There's more, Faith, " Angels says," and this is the hard part. The M'skela exists in a human host. You've got to kill the host. It looks completely human, except for a peculiar mark that identifies it as M'skela. Do you think you can do that?"
" Kill a human?" Faith blanches a little.
" It's not human Faith. The M'skela grows inside of it, and destroys its human brain functions when it takes over. Without the demon inside it, it's nothing but a shell. It can't survive without the M'skela.
" You're sure about that?" Faith asks.
" Ok, not so hard then" Faith breathes a little easier.
" That wasn't the hard part"
" This particular demon has two bodyguards that stay with it 24/7. He's enhanced them, so they need neither food nor sleep."
" But otherwise, they're human. They're fiercely loyal to the M'skela, and will die for him. Meaning, you'll probably have to kill them."
" Again, oh."
"If it helps any, they're totally vicious. They've killed a lot of innocent people. You're not really murdering them, but administering rough justice."
" Nice try, boss. But killing is killing, you can't dance around it."
" I understand, Faith. I'll find someone else to…"
" No, I'll do it, just don't try to sugar coat it, ok?" Faith looks at him with a hard glance.
" Ok, Faith." Angel hands her a folder, " Inside are pictures and names of the targets."
" Ok, got it." Faith looks at the pictures, and the first two she doesn't recognize. She's never heard of them before. But the third target… the name is very familiar to her. She doesn't give any clue to Angel, though, and tucks the pictures back into the folder.
" One last thing, Faith. Willow doesn't know about this, and it's to stay that way."
" Got it. Hadn't planned on involving her. Not her thing."
" She can't know anything about this. Do you understand? Not even that there's something you have to do alone. It's imperative."
" Ok, ok, Angel, take a chill pill, " Faith says, giving him a sidelong glance, " she won't know."
Faith gets a bad feeling at the pit of her stomach. Why the super hush-hush? What's the deal? But, she won't call him on it… not now. She feels she owes him too much.
Faith looks up the road. She knows she has to get back soon, and try to make things up with Willow. Though Willow didn't exactly say it, Faith is aware she blew it with her big time. Why did I tell her all that stuff. I gotta be the world's biggest idiot. Mostly, because I let her know I'm scared of losing her. I know she wouldn't hurt me, not deliberately. It's me I'm scared of. That I'm gonna do something awful, and she's gonna find out. Like this little job Angel gave me to do. What's she gonna think if she finds out I'm killing humans again? Not that they're exactly nice guys, but they are human… I shoulda told Angel to stuff it, but I couldn't. Not after what he's done for me…
Faith pulls out the file she has tucked under her jacket. The one she keeps on her bike at all times, so Willow won't see it. She goes through the pictures , and pulls out the one she wants. She studies it carefully.
The face is unfamiliar to her. She can't recall ever having seen him. But the name… it sends little shockwaves through her. And, thinking about where she's heard of him, he roughly matches the description.
She reads the name under the picture. Paul DeMarco
She stands there for awhile, staring intently at the picture. Then she returns it to the folder, and tucks it under her jacket.
Straightening her shoulders, she walks up the road, back to the hotel.
Willow stands hugging herself as if she was cold. The reality is, she's trying to hold herself together. She's still trying to sort out all of the stuff Faith threw at her this evening.
Faith's never talked about her family… and now I know why. Goddess, how could she understand someone loving her? She's never had anyone that loved her or wanted her. If I'd had her family … Willow shivers. With the power Willow has, she would've destroyed the world. No one would've been able to reach her. I bitch about my mom and dad never being there, but I know in their way they love me. God, to think your own mom wanted to … yikes. Willow feels sick.
But more telling was what Faith said after. About not counting on their relationship. As if she expected it to fall apart any time now. That scared Willow on more levels than she cares for.
Never mind the trust issues. Never mind how much it hurt her to think that Faith thinks she'd up and leave her. There was more there. It was almost like she was warning me… back off, don't get too close, too involved. Because I'm gonna do something to hurt you. Make you go away. What's that about? What made it so bad was that it made Willow feel helpless. She didn't know how to tell Faith that she was here for the long haul. That she'd stick by her. Willow couldn't think of anything so terrible that it would make her desert Faith. That scared her even more. That means Faith CAN think of something… and… oh. What if she's planning something? Something she's not telling me about? Something awful. And she's hinting that… oh… oh… that would explain things. Oh goddess, she's going to dump me. She's pulling away… because she's going to do something she thinks will … disgust me, and she's trying to…oh…Faith … baby… after me trying to kill everybody on the planet, what could YOU do that would disgust me? She's trying to protect me, shield me from something bad she has to do… or thinks she has to do.
Willow thinks hard, and remembers a few times she's caught Faith sneaking out and bringing something back into their room. Willow was feigning sleep, because, frankly, she loved watching the sexy woman. But Faith would look at the file, and a troubled look would come over her. Willow wanted to ask her about it; she was concerned. But the fact she went to such pains to keep it secret made Willow hesitate. She knew how touchy Faith could be, and she didn't want to push her. But now, with tonight, she's beginning to really get freaked. Whatever is making Faith this crazy has to do with that file. She's obviously hiding it, but where? Must be in her saddlebag. I gotta see what's going on. I'm gotta get a look at that file…
Willow walks towards the door. She's gone. Now would be a good time… Willow hears the key in the lock, and backs off. Crap! She stands in the middle of the room as Faith enters.
Faith enters the room, not exactly sure what she expects. Will she still be here? Will she yell? Will she not talk to me? She sees Willow standing in the middle of the room, and she stops, close to the door.
For awhile both are silent, as if sizing the other up. They both feel the tension in the room; neither knows what to do.
Faith moves a further into the room, slowly, as if expecting attack. Willow just stands where she is, face impassive; expression unreadable. Faith finally stops about 5 feet from Willow, feeling she's come as close as she dares. She breaks off, and looks down, her hands clenched.
" I'm sorry, " Faith says, staring at the carpet.
" I'm sorry, too, Faith, " Willow says, her voice soft, not angry. " I don't know what to do."
Faith looks up. Her expression is a mixture of puzzlement and fear.
" I can't make you understand what I feel, Faith" Willow says, standing where she is." I can't force you to trust me. I can't find a way to let know that I'm here, I'm not going anywhere. I love you Faith, and for me that means not only the good times, the easy times. That means every time. All the time. Good or bad, I'm with you… because I love you. You're everything to me, my everything. If you don't see that, if you don't feel that, if you don't know that… I can't help you. There's no way for me to make you believe that it's the truth. That's up to you, Faith. No one can take the chance for you. You've gotta do it yourself." Willow turns towards the bed, and pulls down the covers, " just know, Faith, I'm going to be here 'til you say go."
Willow is unprepared, but not shocked, when a pair of strong arms encircle her. She feels the woman lean on her, not speaking, but saying everything with her body. Willow turns around, and finds Faith looking at her, with her deep dark fathomless eyes. Almost on cue their heads come together, their foreheads touching. Willow slips her arms around Faith, and their lips meet in a searching but soft kiss. When they break, they move closer and just hold each other.
Both women hope a wall has been breached, trust has flowed through the cracks. That in time, more cracks will occur, until the wall falls. But neither knows for sure, so all they can do is hold each other, and have hope.
For now that's what they have, and that has to be enough.
Later that night…
Willow listens carefully until she's absolutely sure Faith is sleeping. For a moment, she just watches the dark haired slayer sleep, and in her heart stirs all those soft feelings this hardened, no nonsense woman somehow brings out in Willow. Probably because Willow is the only one Faith lets see behind the mask.
You're good, Will, real good. You lecture her on trust, now you're gonna sneak behind her back and snoop… why don't you just ask her what's going on? At least give her a chance? But Willow knows that won't fly. By what Faith's doing, been doing, she won't be forthcoming with Willow now. She'll beat around the bush, try to divert Willow, and in the end lie. Willow knows this, and hates knowing this. Is she lying about anything else? What keeps her from being mad at Faith is that she can tell that having to lie to Willow is a lot of what's making her… crazy. She's ashamed of what she's doing… and she should be, lying to me. But, it also means she's changing, that I'm getting to her, because the Faith of even a couple of months ago? Wouldn't care. And I can be a little gentler in my ass kicking when it comes to call her on it. Maybe I can even be big about it, let her know that she can come to me with anything… Willow gives herself a little internal mental ass kicking. Buffy was right, I'm really loving this moral superiority stuff way too much.
Willow carefully picks up her clothing and heads to the bathroom to dress. Watching Faith as she emerges from the bathroom, she carefully makes her way to the door, being as quiet as humanly possible. She lets herself out, carefully and quietly closing the door.
Once outside, she heads for the parking area. As she enters the lot, she heads towards the bikes. It's kind of dark in the lot, and it's not til she's halfway across that she realizes someone is already there, looking around the bikes. She only sees an outline… she doesn't get a good look at the person.
" Hey…YOU! what're you doing around my bike?" Willow calls out, hoping to scare the person off. Much to her surprise, it works, because the thief or whatever runs off. She runs over to the bikes, and reaching into her saddlebag, pulls out a flashlight. She does a quick inspection on the bikes, but doesn't see any obvious damage. Faith knows more about these bikes… have to have her check them in the morning… great, now I gotta tell her what happened… and explain WHY I was out here. Well, here comes lie number 2… sigh, you're fast losing that moral superiority position, Willow, me girl.
Willow goes over to the side of Faith's bike, and she notes that the saddlebag has been messed with . Uh-oh. She quickly opens it, and inspects the contents… and sees the folder is still there. She lifts it out, and opens it.
She opens the file, and is disappointed. All she finds are a couple of pictures , and a piece of paper with some addresses on it. But then she notices there are names on the bottom of the pictures. One name catches her eye:
DeMarco? Like Faith DeMarco? Maybe related to Faith?
She looks at the picture, and sees a man in his early to mid forties. Dark haired, with a rather hard, callous demeanor. But looking carefully, Willow can discern some similarities to Faith. The eyes, for one… and the mouth… like Faith he has a full, sensual mouth. She's so intent on studying the picture that she doesn't hear the someone sneak up on her, and it's not until she feels someone grab her and lift her that she knows she's not alone. Turning around, she looks into the face of the man she was studying.
" Ack" is all she gets out before the fist she sees rearing back hits her.
" HEY! LEAVE HER ALONE" Faith's voice, coming from the other end of the parking lot, startles the man. He drops Willow and runs. Willow hits the ground hard, knocking her head on the tailpipe as she goes down. She lays there, stunned and only half conscious.
Faith rushes over to Willow, and cradles her in her arms. "Baby? Are you ok? Please, Red, talk to me, honey" Faith says, her voice clearly showing her anxiety. " Please, Willow… baby?" She gently rubs Willow's face, trying to revive her.
Willow half opens her eyes, and looks at her unfocused. " Fai…Wha…?"
"Shhh… he's gone, it's ok baby."
" Him… in the picture… was him…" Willow says, starting to collect her wits.
" Picture?" Faith feels her stomach start to churn.
" In the folder…" Willow waves in the general direction of the folder, which is lying scattered on the ground.
" Don't know what you mean, baby, " Faith says, trying to cover. She lifts Willow, " C'mon, let me get you back to the room…" She starts to carry Willow back towards their room.
" No, stop. Let me down" Willow protests, wiggling in Faith's arms. She's almost recovered now, and she's not going to let Faith get away with whatever she's trying to hide. " Let me down, now!" Faith, afraid Willow will wiggle out of her arms and drop to the ground, sets her on her feet.
" Red, c'mon. You're hurt. Come back with me to the room, and I'll get some ice…"
" No, no, no!" Willow says, waving her arms to wave Faith off, " Don't try to divert me. Something's going on, something you're hiding from me, and I wanna know what the heck it is !"
"Nothing…I'm not hiding anything, " Faith lies, " You're just paranoid cuz of that guy. Probably a thief or something…" she trails off.
" Dammit, don't lie to me, Faith. I know something's going on, it's been eating at you awhile now. And it's not your grandmother, so don't try using her," Willow looks at her intently, " Who's the guy in the picture?"
"What guy? What picture? What're you talking about?"
Willow throws Faith an angry look that chills her blood, then marches over to the bike, recovering the folder. She marches back to Faith, and holds the picture out, practically sticking it in her face.
" THIS PICTURE!" Willow yells, frustrated. She calms her voice, " Who is he? Who's Paul DeMarco?"
Faith blanches. Her lips tighten, as if she's not going to speak. But then she does.
" I… it's my… I think it's my father…"
" You think? You don't know?" Willow probes.
" I never saw him… ever. The name's right, and he looks to be the right age and all… but I don't know…"
" Is that what this is about? You're trying to find your father?" Willow asks, her tone softening.
" I … I can't tell you…" Faith looks away.
" Can't tell me? Why not? I mean, are these addresses places he…" Willow for the first time, sees the Wolfram and Hart letterhead on the sheet of paper. " Angel… is he helping you find your father?"
Faith realizes she could easily lie to Willow, tell her that what this was about, and she'd be believed. It would make sense to her. But, she doesn't want to lie. She hates lying to her. It feels wrong. Like lying to herself.
But she lies to her. Again.
" I guess I shoulda told you, Red. But… I … needed to do this alone."
" Faith, I want to share everything with you. All of it. I know … what you told me… this is hard… but…I want to be there for you, baby. I want to help you."
Faith sees those eyes, those beautiful olive green eyes looking at her, the trust, the love there, and she feels like crap. But she can't go back now. Damn me to hell…and Angel!
"Honey… I don't know how he's gonna act… or what he'll do… this is something, for right now? I just gotta do myself."
" I won't get in the way… I could just…" Willow starts.
" Please, baby?"
Faith sees the hurt on Willow's face before she covers it with a bright smile. It's like someone shoved a knife in her gut. God, how can I do this to her?
" Ok, Faith. I won't push it. Try to understand though, I want to know what's bothering you. Don't hide things from me, ok? It's important to me…you're important to me."
Faith can't remember a time she's felt more like slime.
" Ok, Red. I promise" Faith puts her arm around Willow's waist, "let me help you to the room, honey. You … oh, you're getting a nasty shiner… we're gonna need some ice for that."
Willow smiles bravely, but sniffles a little bit. " Hurt now" She pouts, which just makes Faith feel even lower. Then she stops, causing Faith to come up short.
" The man… the one who hit me?" Willow says, turning to Faith. " I think… no, I'm sure… it's the man in the picture… Paul Demarco. I think that was your father."
" You sure?" Faith asks, brows furrowed.
" Yes, I got a good look at his face… before his fist found mine," Willow smiles, then grimaces." I saw someone fooling with the bikes… I called out, and he ran… but then, when I checked things… I found the saddlebag open. I checked, and found the folder," Willow looks away, not wanting Faith to catch her in a lie. " As I was looking at the pictures, he must've returned…and punched me." She whimpers just a little bit.
" Well, that's pretty weird, " Faith says out loud. But her mind's racing. " Look, let's not worry anymore about him tonight. I got an injured girl to take care of." Impulsively, she scoops Willow up, and carries her in her arms.
"What're you doing?" Willow giggles
" Taking care of my baby," Faith smiles, carrying her back to the room.
But Faith is worried. She doesn't know how ' dad' found out about her, but she knows it's not good. I thinking maybe I wasn't so paranoid about being followed. But why? Doesn't add up. He can't know why I'm here… or who I am.
The logic doesn't persuade her, however, and she gets a queasy feeling . Something's wrong here… very wrong.
She's getting a bad, bad feeling about this.
They lay up at the hotel in Auburn for a few days while Willow's face heals .
The morning after the incident in the parking lot, Willow woke up and looked in the mirror…and nearly fainted. She looked like she'd gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson… and really, really lost. Half her face was bruised, and her eye was swollen shut. God, I'm HIDEOUS ! she mourned, frowning at the thing in the mirror. While she was inspecting the damage, a very nude Faith came up behind her and put her arms around Willow.
" Hey, baby, " Faith says, low and throaty. She kisses Willow's neck
" Nooo… don't look at me!" Willow covers her face with her hand, " I'm gross and ugly!" She tries to turn away, but Faith won't let her.
" Silly girl. You're beautiful" Faith murmurs, gently taking away Willow's hand. She turns Willow around and softly, almost like a gentle breeze, kisses the bruises on Willow's face. " You're always gorgeous to me, lover"
Willow just melts into Faith's arms. " God, I love you so much" She whispers into Faith's ear as she holds her tightly.
" I adore you, Red," Faith says, holding Willow. She does, but that doesn't stop the pangs of guilt.
" Hmmm. This is nice," Willow sighs, " but I'm all smelly girl. I need to take a shower." She gently pushes Faith away.
" I dunno, Red. You smell pretty nice to me," Faith, not wanting to really end the embrace, pulls Willow back in.
Willow pulls back from Faith, crossing her arms over her chest, " Faith, I really feel kinda funky. I need a shower… it'll make me feel better." Her whole body language is saying ' I don't want to be touched right now'. Faith, picking it up, backs off.
" 'K" , Faith replies softly. She looks around the room for her robe, " Damn, I'm such a slob. Where'd I put that robe of mine?"
" Faith, don't be…"
" No, I'm good Red, " Faith says, finding her robe and drawing it around her, " Go take your shower. I'll wait."
After that, Faith kept a small distance from Willow. She was solicitous and friendly, and attended to Willow's needs while she got better, but there was a definite something coming between them. Willow sensed this, and cursed herself. Damn, why'd I have to get all Nancy Drew? If I hadn't gone snooping, this wouldn't have happened. She appreciated all the attention Faith gave her. In some ways, she was loving it. But she felt that little chill between them, and wished she just kept her nose in her own business.
For her part, Faith felt a huge amount of guilt. She had trouble dealing with the fact she put Willow in real danger, and couldn't, or wouldn't, tell her the situation. She was carrying the burden of having lied twice to her, and she was hating herself for doing it. Right, and if you told her the truth, do you think that'd make her happy? Or even keep her safe? You know she would want to be there with you, in harms way. Oh, and how're you gonna explain to her when you might have to kill your father? Think that's gonna go well with her? That last thought really shook her. Kill my father. She didn't know the man… he'd left before she was born. It wasn't like there was anything between them. But … it still made her feel a little sick. Why the hell is this bothering me? God, we're strangers. He never wanted to know me. Not like I haven't killed before. I gotta do this. I owe Angel. That was bothering her, too. Angel knew what she had been through. He'd been instrumental in getting her to change, to go to jail to pay for her crimes. Yet, he was sending her on this mission. Essentially an assassination, just like she'd done for Richard Wilkins.
It didn't make sense to her. Why me? He knows I've been there before. Why'd he choose me to do this? Is it some kind of test? Seeing if I've really changed? From what he told me and showed me, these aren't exactly boy scouts. They've all been involved in some pretty vicious crimes, including murder. Never been caught, and their crimes can't be proven. So it's kinda like justice… But it just still didn't all add up. Angel didn't add up. He's different, she could see that. Something had changed him, and not for the better. I know what he told me, about taking over Wolfram and Hart's L.A. office. He thought he could really use the resources to make a difference… but maybe… it's making a difference in him. She was beginning to get bad feelings about all of this. She needed someone to talk to. She so wanted to tell Willow, but every time she looked at her, she saw what involving her cost. She was afraid it'd be worse, a lot worse, if she got her in the middle of it. She kept it to herself, but it was eating at her.
By the end of the third day, nerves were stretched tight. The tension kept building, and since neither would really talk about what was bothering them, they both got edgier and edgier. For the first two days, Willow never left the room, feeling embarrassed about how she looked, and depressed about things in general. Faith only left to get food or stuff Willow needed, so they were together most of the time. It was getting dicey. Finally, on the third day, Willow went out. She carefully hid the remainder of her black eye under concealer, and went out for a few hours. She needed to get out, she was getting itchy. Faith offered to go with her, but Willow just answered that with a look that made it clear she needed to be alone. So Faith let her go, and stayed in and watched TV for awhile. She finally got bored and left.
Faith hopped on her bike and gunned out of the parking lot, just wanting to get away from there for awhile. She rode around Auburn, not really taking in the sights, just needing the motion, the feeling of going forward. She didn't want to think anymore; she'd been doing nothing but thinking the last couple of days, and her brain felt muddy and fuzzy. She just wanted a sense of away… getting away from everything troubling her. She spent a couple of hours riding around, looking but not really seeing, just moving. Trying to clear her head. Finally, she headed back towards the hotel, feeling a little better.
She finds Willow sitting on the edge of the bed when she enters their room. Willow turns when she enters, and while she smiles at seeing Faith, her eyes are sad. Faith gets that " oh, crap" feeling in the pit of her stomach.
" I think we better get going," Willow says, quietly.
" Now?" Faith asks, puzzled.
" In the morning, Faith. I just think we need to go to Boston, get this thing done for Angel, then… I don't know."
Faith doesn't like the sound of what she's hearing . " I don't know." What the hell does that mean?
" Not getting you, Red. What don't you know?"
" I'm thinking I should head back to my Grammy's house, and wait while you finish your personal business in Boston. Maybe give us a little apart time". Willow turns away from her." Give you some time to find your father, or whatever. Or, I could just head back to L.A, and meet you there."
Faith stands stock still. She's afraid if she moves an inch, her whole world will come crashing down around her.
"What's going on, Red?. I thought we'd spend some time together in Boston. I want… I need you to come with me to face the Grandmother. Don't you know that? Why… ?"
" No, you don't Faith. Not sure exactly what you need me for."
" WILLOW? How can you say that? I need you more than anything in this world…"
"Really Faith? I wish I could believe that, " Willow turns towards Faith, her expression totally sad now, " For this whole trip, you've been strange… as if you've got to keep some distance from me. The closer we get to Boston, the worse it gets. You're keeping secrets, Faith. It's not so much I want to horn in, don't you get that? I just want to help if I can, but nonetheless, I want to know. This thing with your father just popped out of the blue… I only knew anything about it because I knew you were hiding something. What else are you hiding from me, Faith? What else won't you let me in on? I thought we got past all this, but I guess I was wrong."
" Willow, please, " Faith comes around, and kneels before Willow, putting her hands on her knees, " Please baby, I'd tell you if I could. But I promised… I promised I wouldn't tell anyone."
" Who? Who'd you promise, Faith?" Willow asks.
Faith looks at Willow, knowing she should tell. Knowing by the look in her eyes she had to tell. But she couldn't. She'd promised, and she couldn't do it.
" I'm… I can't…" Faith mumbles. She looks down.
Faith feels her chin being lifted, and looks into Willow's soft green, kind eyes. She doesn't see anger there, only sadness. God, why couldn't she be angry with me? I could handle that… but … this… oh god Faith thinks as she looks into those eyes.
" I only hope, honey, that whoever it is realizes how loyal you are, " Willow smiles at Faith, " I hope they appreciate you like I do. When I look at you, I love you so much that my heart aches in my chest. But…" Willow sighs softly, "I've got to be first, Faith. I put you first. I can't be second in your affections, or your trust, or anything. I'm sorry, baby, I just can't be."
" Red, please, you're first…"
Willow holds up her hand to stop her.
" Don't, Faith, because we know it's not true. Just… don't" Willow pulls back the covers, and starts undressing. " I'm going to get some rest… I want to get an early start. Goodnight Faith." Willow turns her back.
" Red, please…"
" Goodnight, Faith" Willow doesn't turn around.
Faith looks at Willow's back, and feels helpless and angry at the same time. She doesn't say another word. She just heads for the door, which she slams after her.
Willow doesn't turn until she hears the door slam. Her eyes are bright with tears. She doesn't make a sound as she slips into bed, and turns out the light.
Willow awakens the next morning at dawn.
The light is still weak in the room. She pushes herself up, and leans over to waken Faith, only to find her side of the bed empty… it hasn't been slept in. A small chill settles in her heart. Has she left me? She squeezes her eyes shut, hoping that it's just a bad dream. She'll wake up, and Faith will be lying there, asleep. And if she's not? What then? She doesn't want to think about that.
She opens her eyes slowly, but Faith is still not there. Sighing, she looks up, and nearly screams when she sees the silhouette against the window. It's still too dark to see a face. She calls out, her voice shaky.
" Who… please, don't hurt me, ok?" Willow says, shaking.
She hears a sigh, and her body relaxes. She knows the owner of that sigh.
" It's just me Red. Not gonna hurt you, " Faith says, quietly, " not again."
"Faith, " Willow exhales, " God, you scared me." She reaches over and flips on the lamp. When the lights come up, she gets another little shock.
Faith is sitting there, looking pale. Her eyes are red, and have dark rings under them. Her hair is lank and dull. She looks like she hasn't slept at all. She's dressed in her leathers, and her expression is grim.
" Faith, look, about last night…"
" Let's go, Red. You wanted to get an early start. Let's do it." Faith gets up and walks to the door, picking up her grip. She's already packed and ready.
"Faith, lets talk about this, ok? Please?"
"What's to talk about? You're right. I'm not ready for a relationship. Had all night to think about it, Red. I guess I'm still finding out about myself." Faith half grins, " Guess I'm still figuring out what I want. Guess I need my independence for that. Figure out my priorities. Then maybe I'll be ready to do things right" She opens the door. " I'll be outside waiting when you're ready." She walks out.
Willow feels as if she can't breathe. She stands gasping, trying to catch her breath, but the ache inside is too big. Well, this is what you wanted, wasn't it? Faith to be honest with you? Well, there it is . Deal with it. You didn't even give her a chance to try, you just decided it had to be all or nothing. She decided, and you're screwed. Willow, walking as if in a daze, grabs her bag and throws it on the bed. She turns towards the dresser, and starts emptying her stuff from the dresser into her bag. She keeps moving, hoping that if she does, she won't think. If she doesn't think, it won't feel so bad. Only like swallowing Drain-o, maybe. Shut up, Will. You don't deserve to wallow. You brought this on yourself. She finishes packing, and lays out her leathers. God, look at those. So… pink. What the hell was I thinking? Shaking her head, she heads towards the bathroom to do her dailies, and shower.
Half an hour later, Willow emerges from the room. She's ready to go, dressed out in her leathers. She finds Faith staring at a piece of paper in her hand, chuckling to herself.
" What's so funny?" Willow asks, feeling a little peevish.
Faith looks up, giving Willow her trademark smirk. God, I hate that look, Willow thinks to herself. She finds herself getting angry, wanting to wipe that smirk off Faith's face. Chill, Will. Just ignore it.
"Well?" Willow asks, a little impatiently.
" Not funny, Red, ironic, " Faith says, staring at the paper. She hands it to Willow.
Willow looks at the paper, and can't figure out what Faith is talking about. All that's on it is a name and address:
Margaret F. Delano
12 Acorn St.
Boston, MA. 02108
To be hand delivered to addressee only
Willow hands the paper back to Faith.
" Ok, maybe I've gotten stupid lately, but I'm not getting it."
" I hadn't looked at where we were going until this morning. I mean, I knew Boston, but I didn't look at the specific address. I figured I'd check it when we were outside Boston, like now." Faith looks at the paper again, and starts chuckling, " if I'd known this, I woulda told Angel to stuff it." Faith shrugs, " too late now." She starts walking towards the parking lot.
Willow hurries to keep up pace with Faith. She's still not getting the joke.
" Ok, maybe that knock on the head rattled by brains, Faith, but I'm still not getting what the hell is so funny," Willow says, clearly not liking the joke. Maybe she's feeling it's on her.
Faith stops and turns back to her, a strange expression on her face.
"Sorry, Red, I forgot. You don't know, " Faith shakes her head, not sure if she wants to laugh or scream. " Looks like it's your lucky day, Red. Margaret F. Delano? That's the Grandmother."
Faith turns and walks towards the bikes, Willow trailing after her
And I thought this day couldn't get any worse. Willow thinks as she rushes to catch up to Faith.
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