Empathy
by Desirata41
Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: All Buffy The Vampire Slayer characters are the exclusive property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and UPN. I'm just paying homage to the characters I love.
Notes: This story is set in a semi-alternate universe, where our beloved Tara is still alive, and the Apocalyptic intentions of the First never happened. Buffy and the Scooby gang have gone on with their separate lives, but remain close. The only constant of course, is that Faith went bad, and ended up paying for her crimes. This story will show a different side of Faith, so bear with me; I think you'll like her. It has a wry sense of humor with a few twists and turns. If you stick with me, I promise you'll enjoy the ride.
Dedication: It's only fitting that I dedicate this to Faithful Chickie. I wouldn't be writing fic, were it not for her help, and encouragement. Thanks to my beta Cheebs, who's teaching me to be a better writer. Last but certainly not least, thanks to Malea, the first person to read my fic and give me hope.
Feedback: I'm writing for you…tell me what you think.

+1=2=3=4=5+

CHAPTER 1

The zoo was never one of her favorite places; it was the damned confinement and loss of freedom. She thought nothing wild and free should ever be put behind bars; it had to be torture.

Every day inside had been a struggle to hold on to her sanity and to learn from her penance. Distraction had been the order of the day and she spent her time educating herself, reading about the world.

The warden had claimed Faith was one of her best inmates because she earned a high school equivalency diploma within six months of her incarceration, and then enrolled in some college courses. She found learning came easily to her, once she put her mind to it and focused.

Surprisingly enough, Wesley had been pivotal in her early release, having been reasoned with by Angel, and a few other unlikely supporters in Faith's corner. He had managed to come to terms with the reasons why she had tortured him, taking into account her horrendous past. His hate had been replaced with compassion, and eventually forgiveness, for the tragic figure that was Faith.

Wesley had gone to the warden to petition for leniency on her behalf. His plea, along with Faith's good behavior and sincere attempts at rehabilitation, effectively swayed the Warden. She was granted early parole at the end of her third year inside.

All this positive thinking should've made her feel better, except she had no one to share her successes with but Angel. He'd come out to see her as often as he could, but most of the time he was busy saving the world.

When she had started feeling particularly down on herself, she would think about HER. She'd thought about what she was doing; who she was seeing; if she was happy…? It had been at these times that Faith had known she had to move on and make a better life for herself, because Buffy didn't give a fuck whether she lived or died.

Not one word or phone call from her in three fucking years…and Faith had been bitter. She'd found a book on that too, all about self-actualization and self-esteem building. And then a strange thing happened: she had decided to teach herself about the finer things in life.

Magazines like Vogue, GQ and Bon Appetit had become a steady part of her literary diet, but Cosmo was still her guilty pleasure. She had to do something to enrich her fantasy life; not many muses on the inside.

Occasionally her mind would drift to those kind of thoughts about HER, and Faith would laugh to herself, thinking, 'I might be locked up but I'm not dead.' She'd only needed one mental image to get her off, and B had always done it for her. She tried to put away THOSE kinds of thoughts because they were only detrimental to her inner growth. She was determined to be a better person, in spite of that bitch, Buffy Summers.

Angel reassured her there would be a place waiting for her upon her release, which buffered any qualms she might have had about her impending freedom.

It took her eyes a while to get used to the sun again; she had almost forgotten how beautiful a sunny day could be. Everything appeared different; colors were more vivid. Sounds and smells were accentuated, as if she'd gained a sixth sense. Yet, with all this to revel in, she felt strangely numb.

There was a limo waiting outside the gate for her with champagne chilling inside and chocolate covered strawberries, accompanied by a note: *Time to start your pursuit of the finer things. Enjoy, Angel.*

Feelings welled up in her chest threatening to overcome her. Faith had never received nor felt she was deserving of such treatment. However, serendipity smiled on her that day, and she ventured into her new life enjoying chocolate covered strawberries and champagne in the back of a limo.

During the ride, she had time to reflect on the past three years of her life and what the future held for her. She focused on trying to stay very much in the now to avoid being overtaken by the drama that was her life.

It wasn't long before the limo stopped in front of a fairly attractive apartment building. It wasn't a penthouse, but much better than what she was used to.

The chauffeur opened the limo door for her and offered his hand for assistance, and for once she felt important. Upon stepping from the limo she was handed the key to her new home.

"Why, thank ya Alfred." She smiled mischievously at the man, knowing full well that wasn't his name, and he returned her infectious smile very discreetly. Faith had always traveled light and there were no bags to speak of. She haltingly walked up to the front door and used her key.

The apartment was modest but spacious and nicely decorated. She especially liked the bedroom, which was alternating colors of cream, burgundy, and teal. Taking up a nice sized portion of the room was this gorgeous four-poster brass bed that felt like heaven and was deep enough to get lost in.

When she opened the closet to check out the space, there was a note taped to the door from Cordelia.

"Faith, I took the liberty of picking you up a few things, I approximated your size from the last photo you sent. There are all sorts of girlie things in your oak cabinet. I hope you're not disappointed that there isn't a stitch of leather anywhere. There's a lady somewhere inside of you, and I think my choices will help bring her out. Don't look so surprised; I didn't totally hate you.

Queen C."

There were several outfits to choose from, and she did include one sexy, black number for eveningwear. Everything else was pastel colored and smartly tailored. There were even boxes of shoes at the bottom of the closet. Victoria's Secret adorned the drawers of the oak cabinet, in all styles and shades.

There was wall-to-wall carpeting in varying shades of cream; depending upon which room she entered. The kitchen had an intimate little breakfast nook nestled beside a beautiful bay window, which housed all sorts of potted plants. The design of the place utilized every curve and angle to optimize the sunlight, giving it a warm feeling.

Faith took a long, sweeping look at her surroundings, and was momentarily overcome with emotion when she thought back to where and how she had just spent the last three years of her life.

She couldn't really compare this to Christmas, because all of her Christmases had been crappy- except the one with B and Mrs. S- but she felt her hesitancy slowly turning to hope.

Angel had stayed true to his word and provided a safe haven for her, and she smiled as she reminisced about the way they first met. He was now the closest thing to family in her life. She called him to voice her gratitude after barely being able to compose herself.

"Soul-boy, you outdid yourself!"

"Faith, you deserve a little happiness and anyway, I want you to be indebted to me. I can always use a slayer on call."

"So what's the plan man, what will I be doin' for ya?"

He answered tentatively. "Just some odds and ends to keep you honest, but I want you to take a couple of days to get your bearings, then we'll talk."

Her bravado was replaced with sincerity when she said to him, "Angel, thanks…really."

"No worries, Faith, stay out of trouble."

She decided to do the whole aromatherapy bit and took full advantage of all the wonderful toiletries also provided by Cordelia. She made a mental note to plant a big, fat, thank-you kiss on her just for effect the next time she saw the tall, stunning brunette. The thought of shocking that prima donna amused her to no end, and she found herself sporting that trademark grin that lit up her face and would have driven anyone who witnessed it to ruin.

After a luxurious bath, she slipped into a teal terrycloth robe, again provided with exquisite taste by Cordelia. She poured herself a glass of Merlot and relaxed with the local paper. She was in the mood for a party, and eagerly reviewed the entertainment section.

She didn't start out with the intention of cruising to pick up any one; she just wanted her outfit to reflect her relaxed, carefree mood. Her full, dark mane was brushed and teased to perfection, and her choice of make up was understated, but flawless.

She chose a cream- colored silk blouse and matching linen skirt that accentuated every sensuous curve. She was a vision enveloped in a lush, intoxicating scent of jasmine. Having washed away the last vestiges of prison life, Faith stepped out into the night for the first time, not as a slayer, but as a lady.

She decided to take it slowly at first and opted for a quiet dinner alone, at one of the finer restaurants in her area. She laughed softly to herself, "At least I know how and what to order now."

Faith feasted on a sumptuous meal of Roasted Chicken Breast with Wild Mushroom Risotto and French Black Truffles. The elegant dining room seemed to revolve around her as she noticed appreciative stares coming from many of the patrons, male and female alike.

It didn't surprise her when one of those adoring female patrons discreetly followed her to the ladies room. The woman was impeccably dressed in an emerald green dress that accentuated her golden mane and pretty features.

Faith heard the faint click of the door being locked behind them, and feigned checking her makeup in the mirror, as the blonde slinked up seductively behind her, and whispered in her ear.

"In the mood to try a little something on the wild side?" she purred while reaching around Faith's body to firmly cup her breasts, while licking invitingly at her neck.

Faith didn't flinch as she continued to look at a single reflection in the mirror through hooded eyes. She eased back against the woman, running her hands down and then up under her skirt, seeming to be overcome with building desire.

"What did you have in mind baby?" she said huskily as she wrapped her hand around the holster tied to the inside of her thigh, removing the small stake. In one fluid motion, Faith turned, throwing the vampire against the nearest wall, staking it violently in the chest.

She waved away the dust, and freshened her makeup before leaving the bathroom with a sigh. "Fuck, what is it with me and blondes?"

CHAPTER 2

She rose at six the following morning and prepared for a morning run. Last night had proven that she couldn't afford to drop her guard or lose her edge. She was determined to push her body to the peak of fitness.

There was a beautiful young woman in the hall as Faith came out of her apartment. She appeared to be going for her morning run as well.

"Hi, My name's Kirsten, I'm just down the hall in 420." She extended her hand in greeting. Faith engaged the handshake and introduced herself. She couldn't help but notice how stunning the woman was, with rich mocha skin and sultry brown eyes that offset a dazzling smile.

"I'm Faith, just moved into 400 yesterday."

Kirsten appeared to be down to earth and genuinely friendly. "Hey, why don't you come running with me. I'd be happy to show you some of the best spots in the area, and besides, safety in numbers."

The young woman took the lead as they started their run, having no idea just how safe she was on this particular morning, in the company of a slayer.

They had run a total of five miles, passing the time talking and getting acquainted, when they stopped at a small cafe up the street from their building, for coffee and bagels.

Faith found she enjoyed the woman's company. She had the kind of personality that made her easy to talk to, and she didn't seem fazed when Faith divulged where she had spent the last three years even though she was careful to leave out the details of the what for.

"Faith, if you're looking for me to judge you, sorry-wrong girl. I know what it's like to live with bias and prejudice. However, I need to warn you; in my book an asshole is just that. You wouldn't happen to be one of those would you?" Kirsten smiled at Faith with genuine sincerity.

Finding the young woman's upbeat attitude infectious, Faith opened up to her, and returned the smile. She wasn't looking for a friend, and couldn't remember the last one in her life. Instinct was telling her to give it a chance, and see if it was possible for a friendship to develop.

She was a Yankee, like Faith; originally hailing from the East coast. That instantly gave them something in common. They laughed about the bitter winters and the damned rain. Faith found herself listening attentively, as Kirsten shared a little about herself. Her only regret was, that she couldn't be as forthcoming.

Kirsten was a Biomedical Engineer, and a self-made woman. She had thrived and succeeded in high school, overcoming a lot of adversity along the way. She'd had a strong, stable upbringing, and a family who loved her dearly. She recalled often how her parents would always tell her, "The only thing you can't do is fail."

Bearing those words in mind, she pushed herself academically and worked hard toward a full scholarship. The letter came in the mail, a week after she graduated from City High with honors. The University of Pittsburgh, whose curriculum offered a state of the art Biomedical Engineering Program; had accepted her.

"I'm sorry, I've just been carrying on like I have no place to go." Kirsten looked at her watch reluctantly, "I thoroughly enjoyed this morning Faith, it was cool meeting you. I've got to get to work." She shook Faith's hand again as she rose to leave.

Faith watched the young woman leave, and couldn't help but think that she felt, a little less alone.

*****

Later that day Faith contemplated writing Buffy to let her know she was out. She awkwardly thought about what was left to say, and then the insecurity and hurt came flooding back. "Sure, I could tell her I'm out, but would she care?"

So she called Giles instead. "Hey, G-man, it's me."

He was a little flustered to hear her voice on the other end, "Faith, I...it's been quite a while, uh, how are you?"

She could tell he was being the consummate English gentleman. "Oh, I'm hangin' in, just wanted ta let you know I was released." His sharp intake of breath was audible, and she wanted to calm any misgivings he may have harbored, "Look, Giles, it's no biggy, ok? I know you spoke up for me at my parole hearing, and I just wanted to thank you."

He was calmer now as he replied, "I did what any objective Watcher would have done Faith. It was obvious that you weren't always given fair treatment by the The Council, and I believe it was contributory to your actions."

Their first meeting crossed his mind, and he blushed still at her unabashed flirtations toward him. It was evident that she was a rebel, and her nature stirred dormant, but familiar, feelings in that part of himself that he once acknowledged as "Ripper."

Her voice took on a melancholy tone. "Can you keep this between you and me? I don't want the scoobs on edge waiting for the psycho bitch, ya know?"

Giles knew she was referring mainly to Buffy, but he would respect her wishes; she deserved that much. "Certainly, Faith, it will be our secret, but I'm curious, what are your plans?"

She smirked. "Always the Watcher, hunh G."

He responded in that vaguely annoyed tone that made her fond of him, "Please don't call me that. Good Lord, didn't you learn anything about respect and decorum while you were away?"

She mimicked his accent, "Well, old chap, that wasn't a bleeding country club I went away to, now was it? And yes, I learned all about being a proper lady, I even got a chance to watch that Audrey Hepburn film.

"I have few guilty pleasures in this world, and one of them is knowing I can make you squirm." Her voice became lower now as she asked, "Are you still as sexy as I remember?"

He momentarily allowed himself to be carried away by the hypnotic tone of her voice, while his mind conjured past memories of her supple, young slayer's body. Balderdash, he thought, it could never be. "Faith, I believe we both know that kind of talk is inappropriate."

She chuckled sexily, "Yeah Giles, but please don't try to act like the thought never crossed your mind. Any how, just wanted to call and say thanks."

He said with sincerity, "You're welcome, be well. If I happen to come across any pertinent information about The Council, I will certainly keep you abreast."

She knew she would have to deal with that part of her past sooner or later, but thoughts of her behavior in Sunnydale cast a pall over any positive feelings she held about the future. A lazy lounge in her cheerful kitchen was just what the doctor ordered. She poured herself a cup of tea, and reviewed the morning paper.

Years of discipline and harboring secrets conquered his urge to inform Buffy of his contact with Faith. And he had given her his word, a principle that personified Giles.

It wasn't very often that he heard from Buffy these days. Everyone had seemed to go about living his or her own lives. She was often in his thoughts and he missed her terribly, a fact he would never admit during the rare times when he talked to her.

She had long since surpassed anything he could teach her as a watcher, growing into her gifts at full capacity. He was awestruck at the power and skill only he knew she possessed. Buffy had honed her skills to the point where she had the power to mesmerize, though her use of the power was limited because it was extremely taxing on her mental and physical strength.

No, Giles couldn't bring himself to leave his slayer, whom he loved as if she were his daughter. His life was here, always at the ready, should evil rear its ugly head and she needed him.

*****

Buffy had faired well over the past three years. There was no love interest in her life to speak of, but it was just as well, because she found it only complicated things. She had her share of lovers over time, to temper the fire that raged within her, but she wasn't looking for "Gone With the Wind".

She had cultivated her interest in psychology and was just finishing her work study program that would make her an accredited Licensed Social Worker with a focus on troubled teenage girls.

The ordeal she was confronted with when she was called as the next Chosen One had been her unofficial field experience, along with raising Dawn without their Mom. She wondered if being a self- centered, closed off bitch was a prerequisite to being a slayer.

Try as she might, there was always that feeling that put her on a different plane of existence from everyone else. Everyone except for Faith, she wondered about her beautiful, chestnut haired nemesis. Regret filled her mind when she thought of how their story could have gone another way.

She had sworn everyone involved to secrecy on the day she testified at Faith's parole hearing. She gave her testimony in the judge's chambers, before the actual hearing, under the pretense that she would be out of the country.

Those who knew the saga of Faith and Buffy understood that her conscience wouldn't allow her to face the girl, let alone admit to helping her. But, Faith remained as an afterthought in the back of her mind.

Dawn had become quite the model student, graduating at the top of her class. She was awarded a full scholarship to Stanford University to study law. Buffy always knew that incessant chatter would serve her well one day. The Summers' household was always animated with activity whenever she came home for various holidays.

Buffy kept the tear-stained letter Dawn gave her on the day she left, pulling it out of her memory chest on occasion, when her absence became unbearable. Dawn had written across the front, "You are so going to be cursed if you open this before I leave!"

They had embraced like it was the first and last time, the day Dawn left. Buffy looked into the eyes of the young woman she had become, touching her face with pride and a mother's love. "Dawnie, I…." She had to lower her head then, as the tears welled and her voice faltered.

Dawn understood her pain as she pulled her into an all encompassing embrace so strong, she made Buffy gasp. "Please remember that you have always been my hero, and that I love you more than life." Dawn pressed the envelope into her hand, and withdrew herself as she walked toward her car.

The contents of the letter read, //*I hate to leave you Buffy, but I remember what you told me that day on the platform, just before you died for me, You asked me to keep on living, for you. So I promise I will do my best to have the kind of life, I know you want for me. I'll make a life for the both of us Buffy, hoping that one day, you will leave Sunnydale, and share it with me.*//

CHAPTER 3

Xander had relocated to Seattle to help supervise a new Skyscraper project. He and Anya's relationship hadn't survived the wedding fiasco and her tryst with Spike. They'd parted still in love, but reconciled to only being friends.

Anya had pulled some supernatural strings and managed to get a job working in New York, on Wall Street of all places. She had put her vengeful, determined nature to good use, and had the reputation of being a ruthless, savvy Trader.

Willow had chosen to further her studies in Information Technology at MIT. Tara had gone with her, refusing to carry on a long distance relationship with her lover.

Of all the people no longer in her life, Buffy missed Will most of all. The Redheaded Wiccan's presence had always been a comforting constant in her life, since the first day she entered Sunnydale High.

Will had been her calming voice of reason in the mist of chaos, and when the awesome responsibility she shouldered threatened to overwhelm her, she always found an anchor in Will's comforting arms.

They met periodically, whenever Willow came home to see her parents. Their easy friendship always picked up where it left off, the last time they'd seen each other.

Buffy recalled the last conversation they shared, when she went to visit Willow in Cambridge, over Spring Break. They were sitting on a bench, in a park not far from her apartment.

The beautiful day unfolded around them, warming their spirits with the sights and sounds of spring. The smell of fresh blooming flowers filled the air as joggers ran by, and couples strolled along walking their dogs.

To anyone passing by, they would've appeared to be lovers. The deep feelings they shared for one another were evident in their body language and facial expressions. Buffy looked at her oldest and dearest friend and took her hand.

"Love you Will."

The former nerd turned Scholar returned the affectionate squeeze to her friend's hand and smiled, showing Buffy a glimpse of that shy, fourteen year-old she had befriended so long ago.

"More than chocolate?"

"Yes honey, more than chocolate."

They discussed life in general and relationships, or Buffy's lack there of. It was then that the topic of Faith came up, and Buffy wondered why she was so annoyed by it.

"So Buffy, do you ever wonder about Faith, have you written to her?"

The blonde reached over and tilted the cup in the red head's hand to look at its contents.

"What do you have in there Will, it's too early in the day for you to be drinking."

"Seriously Buffy, she's never crossed your mind after all this time?"

The petite slayer sighed deeply and shook her head gently, "If you ever tell this to another living soul, I'll behead you with a battle axe."

Willow's pixie face lit up with the anticipation of hearing a juicy secret, and she moved closer to Buffy as if the whole world were listening.

"Pinky swear, now spill."

"I testified on her behalf for early release at her last parole hearing."

"GET OUT!"

The witch broke into a huge smile and drew Buffy into a tight hug. The slayer was a little baffled by her reaction, she had thought Willow would be upset at the thought of early release for Faith. People don't usually get over their life being threatened, with a knife to their throat, very easily.

"Look at you, going all better persony on me. I'm glad you did it Buffy. I never really thought that Faith meant me any real harm. She was just scared and confused back then. I always hoped she would get a second chance."

"Uh, Will?"

"Yeah?"

"Not getting air."

"Oh, sorry. So how did Faith react, what did she look like?"

"Don't know, I never got to talk to her or see her. I preferred it that way, there was no need for her to know, so I gave my statement to the presiding Judge in his chambers."

"So what are you going to do if she gets released and wants to see you?"

"I don't know Will, I honestly don't know."

*****

Faith had taken a few days as Angel suggested, relaxing and becoming accustomed to life on the outside. She had to admit she loved every minute of it, and couldn't imagine ever being behind bars again.

She had a checklist that she reviewed daily. It was written in prison and consisted of all the amends, she wanted to make to the people she had hurt during that dark period, when it seemed like she had lost her soul.

The two most difficult names were at the very bottom, and she dreaded the visitations. Eventually she would have to face Buffy and Wesley. The meeting with Wesley was more imminent because he worked with Angel.

Facing her fear head on, she called Angel to arrange a meeting with Wesley for the following day. She had no idea what she could say to this man that would possibly convey her remorse, for the way she had brutally tortured him.

Sleep was fitful and fleeting, as flashbacks plagued her dreams. The next morning her face appeared pale and drawn. She chose an outfit that reflected her somber mood; she wasn't the firecracker today.

Her palms were sweating and her mouth was dry as she slowly approached the entrance to Angel's hotel. She didn't know who to be; surely Wesley was expecting some trace evidence of the sociopath he had encountered almost four years ago.

The usually breathtaking smile was replaced with a pessimistic, pensive set of her jaw as Cordelia greeted her in the lobby. "Faith, it can't be as bad as you're thinking. After all, at least you're trying to say you're sorry for all the skanky-ass things you've done in the past."

Faith's demeanor didn't change, even when faced with the presence of the wicked- sexy brunette with attitude to last for days. "Hi Cordelia, should I have brought a weapon, ya think?"

Queen C was serious now as she tried to reassure Faith, "After all you've overcome, you can face Wesley." She graced Faith with that "Miss America" smile as she reached down to squeeze her hand, "They're upstairs in Angel's office, to your left."

This situation gave new credence to the phrase, "Feet don't fail me now." This was the first time in her short life where she found herself at a loss for words. However, the true nature of the Slayer hadn't deserted her.

She didn't bother to knock as she boldly opened the door to Angel's office and quickly mapped out the room. Yes, this was Faith in all her feral glory, the lioness on the defensive.

She knew this was the time for humility, but she was done being the victim. The woman she had become would not accept being victimized by anyone, for any reason.

Angel and Wesley turned simultaneously, mouths agape, as they looked at Faith. Angel, ever the mediator, motioned her to a seat. "Faith, we were expecting you to be announced."

She smiled slightly. "C'mon Angel, you know I never do what's expected of me."

Wesley gazed intensely at her with a furrowed brow, almost as if he wanted to bolt from the room. The male in him noted that prison had done nothing to tarnish her sultry, good looks. She was just as gorgeous as ever, but there was a calm in her that wasn't there before.

The air in the room was thick with the tension of things unspoken; Faith spoke first to break the ice.

"Angel, could you leave Wesley and me alone?"

Angel looked for affirmation from him before rising to leave. Wesley nodded in agreement. Strangely enough, he didn't feel threatened at the thought of being alone with her.

Faith turned her chair to face him directly and sat down.

"I've thought about this every day for three years… how I would feel… what I would say. The truth is, I don't know what to say to you Wesley. What you did for me after the way, I-I treated you, was really a class act."

He looked into her eyes as she spoke to him, expecting to find insincerity there. What he found instead were luminous brown eyes, brimming with tears and remorse. He chose not to respond just yet, allowing her to vent.

"I don't have an excuse for my behavior, so I won't try to make one. All I can say is, things are different for me now, and it's mainly because of you. I won't promise to make things up to you Wesley; I know I never could. What you need to know is, I'll regret what I did to you every day for the rest of my life." She turned away from him then, no longer able to continue.

He was taken aback to see the gentle motion of her shoulders, as she cried silently. It had never occurred to him that there could be any vulnerability in her. He exhaled deeply and reached out to her tentatively, cupping a reassuring hand under her chin.

"You're forgiven Faith. I don't want the rest of your life filled with regrets about anything. I fought for your release because, I realized you have the potential to be one of the few people in the world, who can truly make a difference."

There wasn't any soaring violin music or cathartic hugs, just a quiet understanding of a truce set in place, leaving them standing on common ground.

He ended their meeting by saying, "I'm no longer a watcher, but my connections are still in place, if there's any way I can help..."

She graced him with that smile, the one revealing the sexy dimples in her cheeks, and lightly touched his arm, "You've done enough already… but maybe, I could take you to dinner some evening?"

His carnal mind swept over the entire length of her body, and admitted that wouldn't be an unpleasant thing to do. "Certainly Faith, be well."

Wesley had given her something priceless, a chance at redemption. She felt playful and light, with a dash of sexy thrown in. There was one more promise she decided to fulfill before she left the hotel.

Cordelia had her back turned, looking in a file cabinet as Faith used slayer stealth to glide up behind her, undetected. The sassy beauty jumped when she felt a strong but velvety soft pair of arms slide around her waist, pulling her close to an even softer body.

Faith had forgotten what a real woman felt and smelled like. Those savages in prison couldn't be considered the real thing. Cordelia on the other hand was grade A choice. She nuzzled the taller woman's neck as she took in her scent, and savored the feel of those tight, athletic curves under her hands.

"Been meaning to thank you for the set up at the apartment." Her voice was warm and inviting, tickling the shaking brunette's ear.

Cordelia flushed, embarrassed at her body reaction to Faith's attention. She tried to control herself, but her nipples were hardening and her arousal was obvious. There had always been a dangerous, exciting edge to the rogue slayer, and it hadn't dissipated with time.

"You…um, you're welcome Faith."

She turned Cordelia around to face her, her eyes filled with desire as she locked her gaze with her prey and whispered, "Gonna kiss you now, coz I wanna."

Cordelia moaned as she allowed her mouth to be taken and devoured by those full, sensuous lips that promised so much pleasure. She felt light-headed and her body began to tingle, as Faith explored her mouth, caressing her tongue slowly with her own.

The kiss ended as quickly as it begun, and Faith smiled as she wiped the lipstick from Cordelia's lips, enjoying the look of disappointment on her pretty face. She didn't say a word, just turned and strutted from the office, making sure to put just enough sway in her hips.

*Oh yeah Faithy, ya still got it baby, was there ever any doubt.*

*****

It felt good to be back in the sanctuary of her apartment, as she took a moment to rewind the events of the day. It had turned out better than she anticipated with Wesley. He had been a true gentleman. She felt emotionally fatigued after their meeting, and had promised to give Angel a call in the morning, to discuss future plans.

She predicted a warm, relaxing bath in her immediate future, with candles and wine. The warm water and soothing bath oils drained the tension of the day from her, leaving her pleasantly sleepy with a rare feeling of well being.

Purplish blue clouds swirled around her, surrounding her in an unfamiliar place. The haziness gave way to a room decorated with assorted candles and incense, smelling of sandalwood and honeysuckle.

There was a figure standing back in the shadows, whose identity became clearer as she walked into the room. The scent of arousal radiating from her body promised forbidden pleasure. Faith was spellbound as her eyes beheld a body that begged to be touched, ravaged and possessed.

Buffy spoke to her in a voice modulated with lust, "I've been waiting for you."

Faith circled around her, barely touching her, and smiled as she heard her sigh. Buffy shivered, feeling the dark slayer move in behind her, placing hands on her hips and pulling her back tightly against her body.

Faith whispered hotly in her ear while snuggling her, "So damned sexy B."

The blonde allowed herself to surrender in the brunette's arms as she leaned back, exposing her neck. At that moment, Faith almost felt like a vampire as she bit tenderly but firmly into it.

Buffy's breathing became harsher as hands moved possessively up the front of her body, hungrily cupping her breast through the silk material of her blouse and squeezing, the act made more erotic because she wasn't wearing a bra.

She moaned, pressing up against her harder as Faith captured her lips, making love to her mouth with her tongue. She ripped away the blouse and grasped Buffy's pert breasts in her hands, twisting those achingly erect nipples while starting to slowly grind her hips into her ass, almost wishing she were a man so Buffy could feel the hardness of her desire.

Buffy's body felt so good rubbing against her; that firm, soft ass putting pressure on just the right spot, making her groan low in her throat. Faith continued kissing her passionately as her hands reluctantly left those tantalizing breasts, traveling downward to unzip the smaller Slayer's jeans.

Her skin smelled of freesia blossoms. Faith was lost in the scent of her, caught up in the breathtaking heat emanating from that luscious triangle. She cupped Buffy's ass tightly with one hand, entering her hot, dripping wetness with the other. Faith took turns spanking and cupping her ass-cheeks while plunging deeply and rhythmically into her yearning hole.

Faith panted in her ear, her voice thick with arousal. "I'm going to make you come until you can't breathe."

Buffy lingered closer to the brink with every SMACK, SMACK, SMACK only intensifying the effect of Faith's fingers as she fucked her without mercy. The blonde called out, "Damn you, you're going to make me cum!"

Faith pushed her fingers in deeper than she thought possible as she felt the beginning stages of Buffy's climax. "Come on baby, cum for me."

Buffy's desire escalated as she leaned back against the dark beauty, her legs almost giving way while her hips kept up the pace with Faith's thrusting, matching her stroke for stroke. "Oh yesss, fuck me harder."

Faith knew Buffy was close. The clenching muscles, undulating hips and sultry moans were giving her away. Faith started to pound her as hard as she could, slipping yet another finger inside her, sweat flying from her body with the effort.

"How many times have you dreamed about me fucking you like this B?"

Buffy was almost whining now in the heat of her passion. "Yeah baby, that's it, take me…ahhhh."

Faith started to grind against her in tighter circular motions from behind, never slowing the pace with her hands, "I want to feel you squeeze me and shout out my name as you cum all over me. I'm deep inside of you now B, I own you, let go lover."

Buffy's body tensed then, in a series of convulsing shudders. "Yeah baby, oohhh, gonna make me cum for you!"

Faith slowed down, still stroking her, lasciviously nibbling the lobe of Buffy's ear, licking her tongue in and out, matching the rhythm of her questing fingers. "No one will ever make you cum like I do B, face it."

Buffy couldn't believe she was going over the edge again. She buried her face into Faith's neck and rode the intense wave, "What is it you've done to me Faith?"

She gently put her hand on Buffy's throat, pulling her closer. "I've claimed what was meant to be mine." She took Buffy's mouth again in a blistering kiss that threatened to rekindle the fierce desire between them.

Faith woke up moaning, drenched in sweat. She wiped her forehead and took a deep breath. Her mound and thighs were soaked with her juices and quivering. She cursed Buffy Summers out loud, "You wicked, sexy, bitch!"

CHAPTER 4

The dream had unnerved her, and she felt the need to let off some steam, and a workout seemed like just the thing. Anything that served as a distraction from that bitch would suffice. Her body was on edge, and she laughed to herself.

*Whew, down girl…been a while huh?*

*****

The gym was filled with hot sweaty flesh everywhere she turned and grunts of fatigue and exertion filled the air. It was an understatement to say she had an audience, because everyone had started to gather around her. The rumor started going around the building about a drop-dead gorgeous brunette, who was bench-pressing three hundred pounds without blinking.

Faith was into a steady rhythm and the stress was starting to leave her knotted tendons. Her arms lifted the bar in an up and down motion like welled oiled pistons, with no sign of tiring. The crown stood in awe of the graceful curves of her muscles as they contracted and the swell of her ample breasts as she breathed deep and steady.

This happened all the time in prison. Nobody understood how this scrap of a girl could be strong enough to toss a woman, or a man for that matter; across a room like a sack of potatoes. It would never have occurred to them that they were witnessing a phenomenon.

There was a lone spectator standing apart from the onlookers. He kept a discreet distance, but was no less enamored than the others. His body was chiseled and sculpted by regular workouts and ten mile runs. He was also the recipient of admiring eyes, from women who fantasized about being taken by him, and men who envied his physique.

*Ah my beauty, even now you captivate and you will be mine.*

No one noticed him exit from the rear of the gym toward the showers; they were too busy salivating over Faith. She finished her last rep, and sat up with no effort grabbing her towel and pulling it around her neck. Those keen senses had felt the first person as he stepped up to watch her, and she continued her workout, unfazed as the crowd grew.

If a dialogue bubble could have presented itself over the group, representing their collective thoughts, it surely would've queried 'How does she do that?'

The sexy rogue was enjoying every minute of the attention as she stood up to her full height, slowly flexing every muscle to full definition. She flashed a breathtaking smile before she bounded off to the sauna, taking a moment to address her fans.

"Atkins." She said as she looked down her body.

*****

There was a message waiting on her machine from Angel when she got home. He had requested that she meet with him that afternoon, concerning a little job well suited to her talents. Clothes flew from their hangers onto the floor in her wake. She wanted to make a good impression and couldn't decide on the right outfit.

*Shit, I miss my leather sometimes.*

Finally having decided on basic black, which always looked good on her; she ran out to hail a cab. The cabbie pulled up in front of the building in no time and she took the steps two at a time, entering the lobby in a flash. Cordelia turned in the direction of the sudden rush of wind. She felt a faint rush, as if her body were remembering Faith's touch.

"Hey Cordelia, got no time to chat baby, he in his office?"

"Actually he's in the conference room, you can go through this door, and it's at the end of corridor."

Faith winked at the tall temptress and licked her lips, "Mmmm, thanks sweetness, later."

Cordelia felt herself blushing like a schoolgirl and tried to shake off its effects. "Humph, like she could ever have a chance with me."

Angel was all business when she greeted him, he was always somber to some degree, but he seemed aggravated for some reason.

"Come in and have a seat Faith, I want you on this as soon as possible."

Now was not the time for witty repartees and she knew it. She sat down, giving him her full attention. A remote control brought down a screen on which was projected the image of a man. He appeared to be in his early thirties, was exquisitely dressed and had the most piercing blue eyes Faith had ever seen.

Angel's voice interrupted her revelry, as he gestured at the screen with a laser pointer.

"This is your target Faith, his name is Gabriel Porter. He's been way too friendly with Wolfram and Hart for my tastes, and he's been spotted around town with Lilah Morgan."

"Oh man, you mean that bitch is still breathing, so what do you mean by my target? I'm not feelin' ya on this so far."

"I'll give you a list of his haunts, his home address, his taste in women and you can take it from there. I want him watched Faith, closely."

She glanced up at the picture, portrayed larger than life before her, and thought, *Mmmm baby, I could certainly get up close and personal with you.*

In the mean time she had a few questions. She knew Angel would never ask her to compromise herself, but she had to be sure. She had found a new line that she wouldn't cross and a higher low that she would never sink to.

"Bud, that 24/7 things going to be kinda' hard, considering I don't have wheels."

He reached into his pocket before she finished the sentence, as if anticipating her thoughts. The keys sailed through the air, and she caught them in her hand with the reflexes that both of them knew she possessed.

"It's parked out back in the garage, you know my penchant for older cars, so don't be disappointed when you see it."

"Other than watch his ass, (she smiled at that thought), what do you want me to do Angel?"

"Get to know him, it shouldn't be too hard; he works out at your gym."

Memory is a baffling thing, and it can be useful when you least expect It. Her memory flashed an image of him as they both left the gym, getting into a sports car and revving the engine before he pulled off. She could recall now because she had been impressed, he was pushing a Cobalt Blue Astin Martin Vanguish.

She reached for the folder he handed to her, "Anything else?"

His brow furrowed, which had ominous implications, "Yes, be careful Faith. I know you're a slayer, but subtly is called for here, we don't know a lot about this guy. He's got to have powerful connections if Lilah is interested, so I'm thinking he's no lightweight."

She kissed the middle of his forehead lightly like she would have a brother, as she retrieved the folder. His long dead face betrayed feeling for her, and then quickly buried it.

"Don't worry about me, Soul-boy, I can handle myself. Nice to know you care though."

She left the room jingling the keys and humming to herself. Finally she had a chance to repay Angel for all he had done for her. Now was her turn at bat, after sitting on the sidelines for so long. It was tough watching the game from the bench, and she was more than eager to prove herself.

*****

She had expected to find something from the fifties, because he favored that era and its automobiles. However, when she walked into the parking lot and hit the alarm button on her newly acquired key chain; she was pleasantly surprised to find a fully loaded vintage 85' Iroc Z, black on black with tinted windows.

"HA, fucking score…oh yeah!"

The interior of the car was kept in mint condition; it had even retained the rich smell of leather and with a manual transmission no less.

"Aw fuck yes, he knows how I love to drive stick!"

To say the car was made for her wouldn't have done either one of them justice, they were both stunning, sleek, and powerful. Faith gunned the engine as she rode out into the afternoon, basking in the sunlight coming through the sunroof, and the feel of the powerful engine at her disposal.

*****

Gabriel Porter drew another cup of French Vanilla Cappuccino, from a machine he had purchased in Milan. He did so love his coffees, experimenting with different blends in his off hours. He settled down at the island in the middle of his kitchen. His hands held a flat, transparent crystal, and he peered into it while sipping his coffee. It held a reflection of Faith speeding down the highway with wind in her hair.

"Soon my love, very soon."

CHAPTER 5

He recalled the first time ever laying eyes on Faith. He was conferring with an inmate at the prison where she was housed. There was a guard on either side of her, holding her arms as they walked. For the briefest of moments their eyes met, and he would never forget what he saw in them, a defiance that all the rules and regulations of incarceration couldn't temper and a free spirit that no set of bars or razor ribbon would ever contain.

Her dark, feral beauty invaded his heart at that instant, and he knew she would be his. The photographic memory that fared him so well through law school took note of the identifying number on her jumpsuit. He made inquiries to the warden about her case the same day. Suddenly serendipity began to smile on Faith and it had a name, Gabriel Porter.

Certain favors were called in and appeals began to past, outcomes of pivotal hearings turned positive. As though by slight of hand, her case started moving in a rapidly beneficial way, around all the red tape bogging down an already overtaxed Judicial system. He was clearing the path from prison into his arms.

Law was his choice of profession because there were never any absolutes, and variables fascinated him. It was his belief that nothing was ever as it seemed. Distraction was his stock in trade and he was known for using unorthodox loopholes to vindicate his clients. It never bothered him that all of them were guilty. Morality was best left to the saints; he had other pleasures to pursue.

The Porter name could be linked back to the Pilgrims and he was proud of his lineage. There where a great many talents passed from generation to generation, and he was the recipient of all of them. He lived a life of privilege and opulence provided by his family's endless stream of old money.

The family homestead was located in Salem Massachusetts. Childhood memories of the Manor always warmed his heart, even though he dreaded going home and interacting with his parents, for any reason. They never seemed to embrace the "secret" and bore it like some sort of curse.

Dusty books in the attic had been his refuge as a child and he reveled in the delicious feeling of doing something forbidden. 'Grandpa Divs' as Gabriel had named him, derived from his memory of the polo matches he would attend with the older man, where he always announced the "Stomping Of The divots", always said there was power in knowledge. The older man would weave tall tales for hours as the young boy set at his feet, ingesting every word.

They would go on safaris in the attic and play act with whatever keepsakes they could find stored there from previous generations. The boy would always shy away from a certain cedar chest hidden away in the back of the attic. His father had admonished him several times about viewing its contents, saying that what lay within *was better left to grown-ups*.

A world of wonder was available to him through his grandfather. The old man had magic available at his finger tips. Stuffed animals would take on a life of their own, and parade around his room accompanied by marching music. Ice cream and other delectable treats would appear out of thin air simple because he said he craved them.

The young boy happened upon a bitter argument one evening, just outside his father's study. The two voices were familiar to him, they belonged to the two men he loved most in the world.

"Father, you simply have to stop these distasteful shows of parlor tricks. You're just confusing the boy, his mother and I don't want him exposed to any of this foolishness!"

"Foolishness you say? Why you arrogant little prick! Those 'parlor tricks' as you call them, have ensured that you can live the type of lifestyle that you enjoy today. The future of your bloodline is secure because of those so-called dime store diversions. How dare you degrade the memory of your ancestors, who were tortured and killed in this very town!"

"This world has changed Father, we no longer require the use of such primeval devices to get ahead, I'm sorry; but I can't allow it."

"Rest assured boy, that my grandson will be the man that you failed to be; primeval devices indeed. I promise you that from my death bed, he will be taught the art!"

The shivering little boy ran for cover, hearing the angry plodding footsteps approach the door. Bitter tears streamed from his eyes at the sight of his grandfather's face, flushed red with fury. The seeds of hatred for his father had been sowed that evening, and had proved to be very fruitful over the coming years.

So began the training sessions disguised as treks in the attic. They pulled out those dusty old books and read from them whenever the opportunity presented itself. 'Grandpa Divs' shared the"secret" with the studious young man priming him for a future filled with magic.

On his deathbed, the old man whispered a favorite poem to the boy; the same one he whispered on every birthday. This time the poem was followed by a mysterious light and a jolt that knocked the boy unconscious.

Gabriel awoke to the sad news that his beloved grandfather was gone, which rendered the small boy inconsolable for days. Solace was only to be found in the picture of the Greek Goddess Artemis, buried in one of those mystical books his grandfather loved so much.

His Grandfather always seemed to be enthralled whenever they talked about her spirit and the way she was protective of all children. Artemis was a skilled huntress, who knew no equal with the bow, even among the men. Her hatred of injustice and her battles against those who opposed the Gods was legendary.

Some of the same strong qualities of integrity and protectiveness were evident in his Grandmother, who had died a few years back. Her memory was honored and cherished by everyone who knew her. These would be the same traits he would search for in a mate later in life.

Russet tresses adorned a face with delicate, chiseled features highlighted by eyes that held the fierceness of everything ever deemed animalistic. Her mouth held the sensual promise of a thousand nights of pleasure. She offered him a comfort not easily given by anyone else, and that image lay dormant in his mind. It was reawakened the day he saw Faith.

*****

Faith studied the file on Gabriel, trying to memorize all the little specified likes and dislikes. It wasn't hard to commit that face of body to her mind's eye. The more she thought about him, she realized how much she missed the touch of a man. The challenge of landing him made her pulse quicken. Angel had never inferred anything other than surveillance, and she knew he never expected her to go all ravishy on the guy.

As far as she knew, there wouldn't be any violations committed by getting laid, and with a stud like that in her sights; why not? She was done with complications in her life, and wasn't looking for anything remotely resembling a commitment.

A hot night's comfort in his arms, the feel of his rock hard body and the sexual friction it would cause against hers, was tempting. Now her mind was focused on one thing, getting him prone and naked. The info she needed for Angel's purposes would come later.

She made it her business to block his Vanquish with the Iroc, on her next outing at the gym. It would've appeared to a bypassing spectator that she was having car trouble. Gabriel was treated to the unsettling sight of a pair of the tightest ass-cheeks and the shapeliest thighs attached to them; that he had ever seen. They were provided courtesy of one sexy dark slayer, playing the damsel in distress. She was bend over the front of her car, absentmindedly giving the engine a once over.

Tennis racquets and sports bag alike hit the ground, and he swallowed hard, his throat suddenly becoming very dry at the vision before him.

Her acute slayer hearing informed her of the whole scenario before she even saw him, "Yeah, pay dirt baby, he likes what he sees."

As if prompted by a director off camera, she retreated from the recesses of the greasy engine, oil smudges abounding on her crisp, white tennis top and equally beaming face. She batted her eyelashes in the age old ritual of the coquette.

She pointed haplessly towards the Vanquish as he approached, "I'm so sorry, is that you? I don't mean to block you but my engine just died on me and I can't get it started. Guess that's one of the drawbacks to having an older model, but I just couldn't help it ya know? It was so strong and powerful when I first laid eyes on it."

First contact, and her voice was music! He wasn't naïve enough to think that she could be as vacuous as she was trying to appear. The intellect and sharpness behind those devastating brown eyes was unmistakable.

So be it then, on with the chase of this most worthy target.

"And a fine piece of machinery it appears to be…uh, forgive me. My name is Gabriel Porter." He extended his hand upon reaching her, telltale signs of his infatuation obvious, as he addressed her breasts with his gaze.

She grasp his hand firmly in a man's handshake, and graced him with that lop-sided grin, "Hi, I'm Faith."

Only inches away from her, he thought he smelled heaven. She smelled of Jasmine, and the scent invaded his nostrils. The sunlight touched her raven hair, highlighting it in the slightest traces of copper and gold. His gaze traveled downward over her throat, and he felt himself harden at the thought of running his tongue just below her jaw-line.

He bent over to look under the hood, and didn't notice that she stepped back to survey the land. His well developed calves and muscular thighs were a pleasing shade of bronze from tanning in the sun. She couldn't help but hope that he would explore that engine more intensely, because the more he bent, the more that tight, tempting ass of his called out for her to touch it.

It was obvious to him that she had dislodged the distributor cap, and he repaired it easily. What she couldn't have noticed was the minuscule leak in her brake line that would've caused her brakes to fail totally if it had gone undetected. He waved his index finger sending a small ray of light over the cable, correcting the problem immediately.

He lifted his head over the hood, and reached for a handkerchief in his pocket, wiping sweat from his brow, "Ok, give her a try now."

She smiled in feigned glee as the engine turned over, jumping out and thanking him, "Thanks so much, you probably saved me a lot of aggravation, I could think of better ways to spend my afternoon."

He returned her smile and passed her a business card, "How about your evening, have dinner with me?"

"Promise to be on your best behavior Gabriel?"

He bowed in a mock gestured of chivalry like a fabled knight, "Tis promised Ma'lady."

She noticed how a stray lock of hair fell over his eye as he rose, and never being one to be shy; she gentled brushed it back from his face with her finger.

"Around eight then Gabriel, I'll meet you at the restaurant?"

"I think my driver would be most disappointed if you did that, I'll send a car for you; provided you give me your address."

"I will if you promise to pick me up in that Astin Martin over there and take me for a ride after dinner."

He accepted the slip of paper with her information on it, kissing her hand at the same time, "You have only but to ask, until eight then."

She maneuvered the Iroc out of his way, leaving the parking lot and pulling onto the street just in front of the gym. He pulled up next to her at the light, enjoying her playfulness as she revved the engine.

"Think you can take me Gabriel?" She winked at him and then focused on the traffic light.

He grinned at her willfulness, they both knew that his car was superior, but the fact that she had the nerve enough to challenge him; made him want her that much more.

"I've a feeling that you can teach me a few things Faith."

She acknowledged him with a nod and pulled away from him when the light changed. He could only laugh softly to himself when he noticed her license plate; it said, "Bite me".

*****

She chose a pale champagne colored blouse with matching pumpkin colored jacket and pants. Her hair was pulled back from her face, leaving a few ringlets to fall gently around her forehead. Cordelia's choice of wardrobe for her had been impeccable, and she found herself appreciating the tall beauty's fashion sense more every time she pulled another outfit from her closet.

The Vanquished pulled up in front of her apartment building promptly at eight. She watched him leave the car to help her down the stairs, every bit the gentleman. It dawned on her that losing sight of her true motive would be easy to do with him.

They had only spent a few hours apart since the parking lot, but she felt strangely happy to see him. The boyish grin on his face told her he felt the same.

She buckled her seatbelt, savoring the feel of fine leather against her skin, "Don't slack on my account, motor this baby."

He shifted gears and pulled the car out into the humid night air, letting the roar of the engine exhilarate them both. The scenic route to the restaurant involved several twists and turns along the highway, and they glided along in an easy silence; both taking in the sights and smells.

...to be continued...

:HOME:BACK TO FANFIC: