Author: Koos van Winden <van_winden_koos[at]>

Rating: PG 13

Disclaimer: I own nothing, except some idea's. (B)FtVS is property of Whedon and ME.

Main pairing: X/F

Feedback: Positive and negative or just comments.

Many, many thanks to my beta reader 3D Master for correcting my mistakes, and picking out my plotholes.

Timeframe: somewhere in season six BtVS. Doesn't really matter. Say before the 'wedding' between Anya and Xander.

Summary: Xander gets a new job . . .

Hey, Willow . . . Buffy . . .Tara . . .Dawn . . . Take it easy on me, will you?" Xander squirmed out of his lungs as the gals hugged him fiercely. After a few moments Xander could breathe freely again and stretched the jacket of his uniform straight. "Oh, my, you look so . . . incredible . . . " Dawn said while looking at the other girls for confirmation.

How do I look, Dawn?" Xander asked her gently.

". . . Hot . . ." Willow said. While Dawn and Buffy nodded.

". . . In that uniform," Buffy finished while hands tightened the tie.

"You better watch out, Xan, it's dangerous," Willow said again, worried, while Dawn nodded firmly with her.

Xander hold up his hands. "I know . . . I know, Wills. You told me a hundred times now. I will be careful. I promise, ok?"

Willow nodded with, her face still pouty.

"And you take care too! All of you," he said.

A smile appeared on their faces, except for Dawn. "We will, Xan," she said while frowning at Dawn ravishing Xander completely with lust in her eyes.

"Besides, it can't be more dangerous then a vengeful demon after you, right?" Xander said.

"They are just jealous that they have to share you with other gals," Spike commented, more to himself.

"Oh, shut up, Spike," Buffy snapped.

Giles walked over to Xander and gave him a firm handshake. "Xander, it is good to see that you have grown into a fine young man. It nice to see that you have found a decent job, one that will last without a doubt." Xander blinked at the compliment. "Oh, yes Xander. You have experience in combat for years now and you have an extended military, uh, background. It is perfectly suited for you."

"Don't forget the years of experience in dealing with dangerous teenage gals," Spike commented again which was welcomed by looks what would make the most fierce knight run away with its tale between it legs.

"I'm so close to staking you, Spike!" Buffy warned him putting a little distance between her thumb and index finger. Then she turned her head to face Xander again and on her angry face turned a smile. "You know that you don't have to go, Xan. I'm sure you can find a good job here," she told hin assuring him of that, while her bright eyes spoke otherwise.

Xander shook his head. "No, Buf. I *need* to do this. I can't live in the basement anymore and I . . I, this is a opportunity for me to show myself that I can be someone."

"You are someone, Xan," Dawn stated firmly and confirmed by the looks of Tara and Willow.

Xander face went sad as his self esteem went to a minimum. "I lost my job as a carpenter, Anya took over the apartment and also all my money. I still don't understand why she could do that . . ."

"Lawyers, they are the real evil . . ." Spike tried to finish, but stopped as he felt a stake pinning in his skin.

"You could live with us, in our house," Buffy said while Dawn nodding firmly with a smile on her face.

"No, Buf. I mean, it's very nice of you, but I need to learn to stand on my own."

Buffy nodded while Dawn's smile disappeared. Buffy let her free hand go again over his uniform and smiled. "But you sure as hell look good," she said as she dusted his suit.

"She is not the only one who is going think that," Spike couldn't resist in saying that, gaining himself the dark looks of mostly Willow and Dawn, while he felt the stake penetrating his skin.

"Hey, it's true. And you know it!" he tried to defend himself.

"That's what you gonna get when you piss off girls!" Buffy commented back to the dust that once was called Spike.

Her hands free, both went to his tie. "This is also a lesson for you, cutie," Buffy said while Xander gulped at her wicked grin and tone. Buffy let those words sink into his mind as a warning *not* to take lightly and she pressed the tie.

"Uuurgh, Buf, are you going to strangle me as well?' Xander asked while he clenched his teeth.

"Yep, I am, otherwise those prison girls will do it and I rather do it myself. . ."


"Did you see the new guard? He is a hottie," one of the girls, Sandy, in the yard practically yelled, excited. Faith turned around to look at the gals surrounding the redheaded LA scum. The girl was one of the higher ranked prisoners. Faith had been in the isolating cell the last week for kicking a guard down and was only released this morning. She had big problems with the staff and her fellow prisoners. She was considered an outcast and troublemaker. There were many, many moments in which she just wanted to break out, but the road to redemption was keeping her from doing it. <I deserve this punishment,> she would always think about it, <I have to be tough, Angel would be proud of me.>

Faith was wondering who they were talking about. New fuel for fantasies was welcome. She had been dried out, since that guard tried to assault her a week ago and took away her sexual desires.

Faith sneaked in closer and used her Slayer hearing to listen to them. "He has this amazing brown eyes . . . and this strong male hands. Oh, my . . . I really would like those all over my body," Sandy drooled.

"I heard that he worked for a secret organization and the military," another girl said.

"Rumors . . . hot rumors, but still, how can he have such a career and still look so young. What kind of organization?" Sandy asked.

"Don't know. Something that is protecting the world of terrorists or . . ."

"Oooh," was a joined exclamation.

Faith raised her eyes, wondering herself about it. Then she got noticed by Sandy.

"Hey, Boston bitch. What are you listening too? Begging for another fuck from a guard?" she yelled to Faith.

Faith counted inwardly to calm her self.

"Hey, I'm talking to you. Wanna get laid again?" she asked while she walked over to dark Slayer.

<The road to redemption is hard . . . The road to redemption is rocky. Keep calm, Faith. Keep calm!> she thought while suddenly a knife appeared under nose.

"I'm talking to you, Bitch. And when *I* ask something, I expect an answer, Cappish?" while pressing the knife against Faith's throat.

All the girls knew that threatening Faith was dangerous, but very good for your rep, if you did it. Sandy didn't need a rep, but it gave her kick out of it. Provoking the Slayer and getting her beat up by the guards was a real turn-on for her.

Guards had seen Sandy walking over to Faith as they knew this would happen. A team of guards were already approaching the two. "You stay here, you're new here."

"Hey!" the guy said.

"See that girl? We have to put her in isolation many times. Very hard to handle and very dangerous. She has an incredible speed and strength . . . And she really is uncontrollable when she is pissed off."

The guy thought for a moment as he watched the dark girl snapping out to the knife from her opponent. "I know," he simply said.

A security team was surrounding her, ready for a big beat up, while Sandy lied on her ass, bleeding, but grinning.

Instead of taking the beat, she faced them. "It is *her* fault. Not mine, *she* started this!" she yelled while pointing at Sandy. Faith body language and face expression screamed out for justice.

The leading guard yelled back. "Then you shouldn't react like that, Faith!" he snapped pointing to Sandy, but changed his tone quickly in a more gentle one. "Now take it easy, you are coming with us."

"No! I'm *not* going to the isolation cell, you have no *right* to do this!" she practically whined about the unfairness, clenching her fists.

"Please be calm. You're not going to the isolation cell. We gonna have a talk, I promise," the guard said while holding up his hands.

Faith stared at him and wanted to give up, until she saw his eyes making a sign to the guards behind her. She rushed forward, kicking the man down. "No! Stay away!" But it was too late as she saw the guard sticks hit her . . . again.

"Hold it!" a sudden voice spoke out loud, commanding. The tone was enough to stop the beating immediately.

The leading guard watched him. "What is this?"

"You have no right to kick her like that!" he man calmly explained.

"You're new here. You have *no* idea what is going on in a prison, son. You're meddling with things goin' above your head. You have *no* idea what she is capable of."

"I have a vague idea," he said calm while he let a couple fingers slide over his throat.

"Oh, really? Be my guest then. But, I warn you! Girls like her have it comin'," he said, while waving his hand and smiling to the other guards.

"Oh, Jack is givin' this rooky a fuckin' lesson he *not* gonna forget," one of the jailers said to the other, both grinning.

"Yeah, that fuckin' whore is gonna beat him into pulp," reacted the other.

"First time for everyone," a very big guy chuckled back while touching his arm.

"Still hurts, Dan?" another guard asked.

"Yeah, but wressling that freak hadn't gone unnoticed with the boss. I'm his favorite now," he grinned.

"You just could have provoked her normally, you know?"

Dan shook his head. "No, it's gonna turn me on big time when I'm gonna fuck her."

The others shook their heads while he grinned. "She is tough, but we gonna break that skank, mark my words!" he said with confidence. "And I'm gonna enjoy every minute of it." He looked at the guy approaching the Slayer. "Now watch the show and get the tazers ready. I bet fifty for three rounds."

Sandy looked interested as she saw the guy stepping forward. <Let's see if this hunk got balls as well,> He looked at the fallen Slayer. <Maybe they let me nurse him . . .> she thought while licking her lips.

Faith laid curled up, scared and still protecting her head from the sticks. Tears rolled over her cheeks; pain, sadness and fury for the injustice and betrayal in her life plainly visible on her face. He bowed through his knees and took out his hand. After a short moment Faith realized that the beating had stopped and turned around. Her eyes widened, her fury melt away instantly, completely stunned, as she looked into the calm and serious eyes of her protector . . .

"Hey, boss, there is another fight with the 'beast'," a clerk said.

Not really interested in it, sitting behind his desk. "Put her for another week in confinement when the fight is over. Just don't forget to let the bets go on for too long, we can't have him beaten up too hard. And, oh, has Dan arranged the guests?"

"Yes, boss," the clerk said while watching outside, widening his eyes. "Hey, boss, come look at this . . ."

Faith caught his hand and stood up slowly, her eyes scanning Xander's body. "Hi, Faith," Xander gently said, getting no response. "How's it going?"

Faith regained her posture and mocked, "Stalking me into prison, boy toy? Trying to get a big impression of fellow guards now? Gotta tell ya that it's a big leap for geek."

"Just checking how a skank like you is taking care of in prison," Xander simply replied.

Faith eyes widened. "Skank? What's that? Trying to impress me with a new word in your vocabulary?" The guards looked at each other in surprise. This turned out very unexpected. "Or did ya finally grew up and got into the real world?"

Xander grinned. "Both," he answered. "Have fucked a vengeance demon for a couple of years now."

"Vengeance demon? You mean Anya? How was she? Better then me?"

"No, Faith, you know that that's impossible. But she has got a great drive, that's for sure. How 'bout you? Laid any guards lately?"

Faith shrugged, holding herself together emotionally. "Only beating them up. They get a kick out of it, ya know?"

"Fucking, Faith! Look at yourself. You're broken."

"What do ya care?"

Xander shrugged. "Nothing. Only a certain souled red blo . . . uh, whine, uh, connoisseur cares. I'm checking out for him, that's all. He was worried."

Faith's eyes widened again. "Angel?"

Before Xander could nod, the thundering voice from Dan interfered. "Hey, two old bickering ladies, we have a bet running. Are ya finally ready to fight?"

Xander turned his head towards Dan. "There's not gonna be a fight, Dan. Not today."

"Says who?"


Dan walked over to Xander and stood on his tooth, facing him down with a very nasty look. "Listen to me, dwarf. I'm only gonna explain this once. You and that fucking hooker, earning money for her mother, can be friends, but ya gonna know who commands here."

Faith became furious at his words and her fist rushed through the air as she was stopped by a gesture from Xander. Xander pulled out his hand towards Faith without removing his glare from Dan. "Not now, Faith. Let me deal with this," he only said, with a hidden tone of anger.

"So, ya're gonna defend her? And how do ya wanna do that?"

"Guess there is gonna be a fight after all today, Dan."

Dan laughed, hard and loud. The rest of the guards were uncertain at first, but their laughter quickly followed.

When he could breath again, tears rolling over his cheeks, and he faced Xander. "Okay, that was funny. I like you. Challenging me takes guts. And you tamed the beast."

Xander looked up at Faith. <The beast?> He saw that she was barely able to control herself. Xander pointed to the Slayer. "You mean her?"

Dan looked at her and smiled. "Yeah . . ." *BANG* A fist hit him full in the face. A second followed quickly in his stomach and a third at his jaw.

Xander rubbed his fist. <Damn, he's made of iron,> he thought before he let feet come into play, not giving Dan any change of recovering. Remembering some of the moves Buffy made, he tried to copy them. With some of his soldier memories adding to it, it took only short time before Dan laid on the ground, unconscious. Then the light went out for himself as guards knocked him down . . .


A couple of days later, at night.

Xander looked around, watching for any of the guards. He had been released this morning and had a talk with the director of the prison, Jack and Dan. To Xander's surprise, Dan didn't have anything against him. He was nice, too nice as he only had a wicked grin, which screamed revenge. It made Xander gulp in fear. Now he was standing in front of Faith's cell. He knew he would be followed, but he didn't have any choice. He needed to talk to her.

He opened the door, stepped inside the dark cell and before he could close the door a hand placed itself over his mouth and another hand was at his throat.

Xander kept silent and calm, expecting this. Faith turned him around and as her eyes were adjusted to the lack of light, she recognized him immediately. She released him, giving him a chance to talk.

"Gee, Faith. Now I know why they have a squad team of guards ready when they have to release you. You know how to welcome a guy into your cell."

"Boy toy, what are ya doing here?" she asked, annoyed, but glad as well.

"I need to talk to you, Faith. There is something going on here."

Faith frowned. "What do ya mean?"

"I sneaked out my bed the other day and heard the conversation between the director and Dan. They want to sell you, to some kind of people. They need you will broken, to fulfill their needs, whatever they may be."

Faith became angry again and couldn't resist the urge to get out of the cell. Xander stopped her. "They haven't broke you yet, Faith. Don't get out, we need to know what is going on, before we can stop them."

Faith looked at him, wondering how serious he was, wondering if he was right. "What is in it for you, Xander?" she asked.

Xander stared at her, thinking how to explain his situation to her. She never would believe him, that is something he knew for sure. But there wasn't any excuse he could come up with. "Nothing," he simply said.

Faith saw the thought process in his eyes, waiting for an excuse, which to her surprise didn't come. "Nothing? What's that for a answer?"

"Nothing, Faith. I have nothing to gain, except for the raising of my self-esteem and not to have to live in the basement anymore."

Faith saw something in him she knew herself. "I heard you got an apartment?"

"Yeah, that was nice, but got homesick after awhile. Hearing your parents yell has a nicer ring to it than the bickering with an ex- vengeance demon, I can tell ya."

Intrigued to know more, but still not trusting the current situation she stopped the asking about his reasons.

Xander knew he was close and tried to convince her of his sincerity by explaining what happened. He watched Faith closely. "Angel! He talked me over the phone. He told me that he was very worried after his last visit here. It has been months now and he got no reply of his mail, couldn't visit you any more and any other contact was denied. He told me after his first visit that you had a rough time here, but was convinced that you could manage. Then he phoned me again a week ago, telling me that he was worried. I lost my job and my apartment. I had nothing to lose or to gain, so I thought I could help you. Giles made up a resume for me and I got the job."

Xander's words got through her soul and a tear broke lose. <Angel? It's true, he didn't forget about me. Never did.> Then his words hit her more. <They planned all this . . . for me . . . They never forgot about me.> Faith tried to hide her tear, but wasn't able as more came down, splashing on the cell floor.

Xander leaned forward and whispered in her ear . . . and laid his hand on her shoulder. "Yes, Faith. We didn't forget you. Angel, Wes even Cordy, we were very worried. How could we forget? No matter what you have done in the past, you're family."

Faith cried out loud now in his chest as Xander waited 'till she was ready again. A few minutes later she looked back at him with red eyes, still a bit unbelieving. Xander continued, "Yes, Faith, family. Not the best you can get, but at least a family who cares. Friends who know what is like when you're not loved. I was lucky, I got Willow and Jesse when I was young, but there were many times that I was alone. That they were on vacation and I had to stay home, only with my cat as company. Wes got ground down by his parents into a tiny self-conscious nub, who had to become a Watcher like every male member in their so precious family line . . . And then we have Angel. Well, you know about our brooding sucker, same tale, same history."

Faith just stood their, watching Xander. After a short moment she asked, "Okay, what are we gonna do?"

Xander leaned forward and whispered in her ear . . .

Meanwhile the Director nodded to Jack and Dan. "Okay, we know enough . . . do it."


A few days later
In the jail's dining room

About a hundred distinguished guests, all wealthy, were sitting around a closed area. Faith was standing in front of the Director. Her eyes were red and her body shivered when she watched Xander. He hung in chains at one of the prison cells and screamed as a high voltage current ran through his body. Dan grinned as he removed the iron jams from his body. They had been captured the moment Xander had explained his plan and put into separated isolation cells. She finally had been released to witness him being tortured. It was her punishment, her punishment to see him suffer and as a warning.

"I couldn't break you, but see, I don't have to," the Director said to her.

"What the fuck do you want from me?" Faith asked, wanting the strangle the man in front of her, but couldn't as she witnessed Xander.

"Oh, just a little fight. You see, all those high honored guests of mine pay alot of money to see you fight against strong opponents, like, let we say, demons? Vamps?"

"I thought you wanted to sell me?"

"Oh, that? That was just a small lie. You see, I knew your friend wanted to help you. You seemed to react nice to him, so I figured that he could be precisely the man I needed."

"You set this up, all of this?" Faith asked, incredulously.

He nodded back, grinning as he was full of himself. "His plan was good, but he forgot about the little mic in his pyjamas. We heard the whole conversation. And his message to Angel? Never got out."

Faith wanted to sink through the ground as her last hope flew out of her body. <Xander, what have you done?>

Xander who witnessed the whole conversation and was barely able to move or speak, pressed out all his willpower. "Faith!" he screamed. "Don't . . . don't do it . . . Not for me!" he said before he got rewarded with another shot.

Faith looked at him and then remembered her Watcher's last words, <Faith, run, you can, please, don't stay for me . . .> She remembered all those people that Kakistos killed for protecting her. She watched the winning grin of Dan, Jack and the Director. <No, Faith, not this time. Can't let him down, can't let him die like that. Not again!>

"Okay, boss, you win. When can I start."

The Director smile triumphantly. "The guests are waiting," he said while waving his hand in the direction of the fighting area, a nasty demon waiting for her. "And oh, Faith. Make it look like it's a rough fight. And in the end I expect you to lose. Not die, but lose. You see, a lot of our guests were friends with the Mayor, they had good business deals with him and, uh, you bankrupted them. So they really would like to see you . . . hurt."

The first few rounds went well. She watched the crowd; they were looking pleased. She also saw Sandy, smiling. <Fucking bitch. Just wanna get laid by Xanman when he's broken.> Then she watched Xander. Still conscious, pain visibly written on his face, sweat all over his almost naked body.

The gong sounded, next round. A huge vamp, grinning at her, was her opponent this time. She shook her head. <Why are they making it so easy?>

Five rounds later, opponents increasing in strength, she waited for the next one. She was tired and bleeding through various cuts and bruises. The light around her next opponent was dark. It seemed mysterious. Faith watched around and suddenly she thought she saw someone familiar, the face of a brunette.

She watched her opponent coming out of the dark into the bright lights above the center of the fighting area. Her jaw dropped through the ground when she recognized her opponent.

The Director and Jack looked stunned as well. "What the fuck is this, Jack!?" he snapped. "I thought he was taken care of? He didn't know of this, you checked it out with Wolfram and Hart, didn't you?"

Jack shrank away when he looked in the Director' s furious eyes. "Uh, yes, boss. I did. I don't know how he could be here? This woman, what was her name? Lilah. She said that everything was being taken care of."

"Well, it better be, otherwise . . ." he complemented the sentence with slit throat movement and it made Jack gulp heavily.

"Yes, boss. It will, I'm sure," he said while his trail went back to the area.

"Hold it, gentleman," a sudden male voice spoke from behind, "Or I will be forced to pull the trigger of this baby."


Xander still hung at on the cell door, burning and beating marks all over his body, barely conscious. Dan, who hadn't seen the commotion as he was more interested in Xander's welfare, suddenly turned around after he was hit by a guard stick. "Here, you mother fucking asshole," a woman screamed while hitting him again and again. She was supported by another woman, also with the fallen iron clams. She pushed them fiercely to Dan's skin and together with Cordelia's work of the stick, the current did its work as he went down. "Good work, Fred," Cordelia thanked her.

Xander opened his eyes as he recognized the voice. "C . . . Cordy?"

"Take it easy, Xander. We will get you free in no time."

Xander chuckled a bit hysterically. "You took . . . your time, Cordy . . . Just . . . just . . . like in the basement . . . remember?"

Cordelia held her comments to that and together with Fred she removed him from the prison cell.


"Who the fuck are you!??" the Director yelled as he watched in the barrel of a shotgun.

"Name's Gunn, double n," Gunn answered calm.

"What is going on here in *my* prison?"

"I don't know," Gunn stated, "It's like you said, your prison. But I can tell you this, you're gonna face it from the other side soon!"

"Who the fuck are you!?" he asked again.

"Gunn . . . "


Angel stepped into the light, facing Faith, grinning. "Hey, Faith. Wanna kick my ass?"

Faith was too stunned to answer. "It's nice this time, isn't it? We have a paying crowd now," he said while waving his hand around, Angel continued while coming closer, in an open stance.

"Angel?" she finally managed to say.

Angel smiled warmly, "Yeah, it's me, Faith."

The words hit her soul again and she almost had to cry, wanting to believe it's true. After the nightmare she had gone true the past weeks it was so tempting to believe this. Every time she forced herself to believe, it turned out to be a lie. A lie designed solely to destroy her mentally. This was another one, it couldn't be anything else.

Angel saw her disbelief, her emotions running through her eyes. He walked closer and laid his hand on her shoulder, whispering softly, "It's me, Faith. The real Angel, not your imagination."

Faith ignored all the stunned looks of the crowd as she buried her face into his chest, crying. Angel cuddled her. "It's over, Faith. It' over. You are free now. The nightmare is over."


Teams of police officers took over the building. Guns aimed at the crowd watching the pair in the middle of arena. "What the fuck is going on?" one of them shouted. More and more of them shouted similar things. A blond female officer stepped forward, holding up her badge. "L.A. police. You're all under arrest," Kate spoke.

"I demand a lawyer! Immediately!" the Director yelled.

A woman with long light brown hair stepped into his sight. "I think you have found one, Director," she said as she gave him her card, smiling. "Wolfram and Hart, at your service."

The Director's eyes went wide open as he recognized her face and name.

"The name's Lilah," she said with a straight face and pleasant smile.


At the Hyperion hotel. Xander was lying in bed, bandaged from top to toe, sleeping. The rest was standing or sitting around him.

"You won't have to go back to prison anymore, Faith. You have helped catching the bad warden and you have been punished enough. They considered your past and saw where you were coming from. They gave you a pardon, you are free now."

Angel already told her, but she didn't believe it. <I'm free, never going to the isolation cell anymore. Never to face those bitches again. Never to be seen as slut, good enough for abuse . . .> she thought while holding back her tears with all her willpower.

"And Wolfram and Hart have good laywers," he said smiling again.

Faith couldn't hide a chuckle and she nodded. "What precisely happened, Angel," Faith asked, wondering what had changed her turn of luck.

Angel had his usual broody face, but a smile flashed through it for a short moment. "He called me," he said while pointing at Xander. "He ask me how you were doing, because he hadn't heard about you in a long time."

Faith looked amazed.

"Xander always wanted to know how you were doing. I usually called, after I had visited you or called you. I told him that I couldn't get in touch with you somehow. He got this feeling that something was very wrong. An hour later he called me back. Told me he had a plan to find it out and how to rescue you." He shook his head. "I wanted to stop him from it. Told him that it was crazy, that it would never be like that." He grinned at Faith. "It was too late, he had already quit his job at the construction side." Angel shook his head. "Anya left him. 'Getting fired' from a good job and then become a prison guard in a girls prison. Can't hardly blame her . . . He really needed to do this. So, I gave in." He smiled at her. "He can be so stubborn and it was *you* he was talking about. How could I refuse . . ."

Faith had to resist to cry again after his words, but was stopped when Cordelia pressed her hand gently. "It's okay, Faith. You may cry. You don't have to be tough . . ."

After she had regained herself, Angel continued. "We talked about the details of his plan and he tricked Giles into making up a resume . . . I, uh, got info by from Wolfram and Hart. Wesley and Gunn got to Kate for more info about this prison and their assistance. Fred and Cordy helped too, they got through all your police files and dossiers from Wolfram and Hart. You know what they found out?"

Faith rubbed her eyes again as she removed some tears and shook her head.

Angel continued. "It turned out that a lot of the underworld's top bosses where interested in you. They want you dead, see you fight or hire you. The Director of the prison saw a goldmine. He discovered that the prison held you, a Slayer, and asked for a transfer. With his connections it was easy to do, especially when he promised the higher ups that he would be able to 'redeem' you." Angel had nasty face when he used the word 'redeem'. Some of them were clients of Wolfram and Hart, including the Director himself. But I convinced them to work with me, otherwise they would be sorry for it, very sorry. They gained more clientele than losing them anyway."

Angel stopped for a moment. Faith found it all amazing and interesting, but wanted desperately an answer to her real question: what happened in the prison? Angel knew that of course, he just needed to find the right words. "What he told you in your cell, the beating of the guard. It was all planned, Faith. He wanted to let the Director think that he had won. Then all his 'guests' would come. We could then safely penetrate the crowd and make sure you and Xander were safe."

Faith looked at Xander with large eyes, shaking her head in disbelief. <He fucking knew that he would be tortured!.>

Angel looked at her for a moment and laid his hand on her shoulder, knowing what she would think. Angel shook his head, guilt in his eyes. "I know how difficult the path to redemption is, Faith." He remembered all those years of brooding over his own crimes in the alley. And even now he had hard times to hold himself. He continued more to himself as he shook his head mildly. "Oh, yes, I do."

Faith didn't miss the incredible pain he was facing again. Although she had faced the evil in herself, it was nothing compared to what he had down.

Angel looked at her again. "I especially know how hard it is for you and I can still remember vividly how you tried to strangle him . . . I didn't believe you could do it, at least not now, and not under the circumstances you were," he said softly, confessing to her.

Faith looked at him, realizing were he had come from, understanding his motives and she accepted it, nodding at him. She would never have believed it herself. So, how could she blame him? Everybody saw her as trash all the time. At least Angel had respect for her.

Angel continued. "But not Xander. He thought that when you would be given a second chance, you would do the right thing. He trusted you, Faith. Completely. That you would listen to him in your cell. That you wouldn't run away . . . Nobody didn't believe it, but he had already signed up for the job and would try it anyway. He didn't give a damn about the risks or the bad guys. He wanted you save. He had left the room, stubbornly, furious. But knowing that we didn't have a choice anymore . . ."

Face looked incredously at him, barely understanding as her heart felt things she never had felt before. Especially when she saw the guilt not only in Angel's eyes, but in all of them.

"And let me tell you this, Faith, once you have faced him angry, then that will stay with you for the rest of your life . . ."


A couple of days later

Faith hadn't talked with Xander. She didn't know what to say or how to react to him. Beside the fact that he was hardly able to have long conversations as he needed a lot of rest, she was afraid . . . simply afraid.

Cordelia and Fred walked over to her, when she was sitting in the Lobby. "Hey," Cordelia said gently.

Faith looked up at her. "Hey," she simply replied.

"How are doing?" Cordelia asked, worried.

"Five by five," she answered while she turned her head to the floor again.

Both girls looked at Faith's sad face and then to each other. Fred wencked to Cordelia to let her speak under four eyes.

Cordelia understood and walked to the office.

Fred sat next to Faith, staring at her, not knowing how to say what was on her mind. Not finding the right words as it faced her the pain of her own memories. She laid her hand on Faith, nervously, which triggered a reaction in Faith as she stared back with questioning look.

"Hi, my name is F-Fred . . . well, actually Willfred, but, uh, you k-know . . . Fred."

Faith stared at her and then nodded slowly.

"I, uh, I don't know h-how t-to say this, b- but I k-know how you f- feel, a . . . a bit, uh, I guess,"

Faith resisted to make a 'Red' comparison remark, 'cause she was totally not in the mood for it. She just watied patiently for Fred to continue.

"I-I, you s-see, I have b-been in t-this dimension, brought t-there by a very strong wormhole. It must have been at least 10 to the power of 9 Tesla magnetic field to . . . Oh, sorry, uh . . . well, I g- got there a-and there w-where these d-demons, they w-were like L- Lorne, you k-know, green with . . . with h-horns on their head and, uh, they weren't friendly, y'know. They were bastards, filty, horrible, they treated humans as cattle. We hadn't rights, nothing! I lived there for five years in a cave. Wondering if there would come a day that I could return. To see my parents. To win the nobelprice . . . And then suddenly, there comes my hero. Strong, fast, witty, handsome and intelligent. He rescued me. And when I came back, I locked myself up in a room. Wrote all kinds of things on the walls. Crazy, scared, nervous. Didn't dare to come down. It was the biggest mistake in my life," she finally finished her tale.

Faith listened to her experiences with growing amazement. Especially how she, a nervous, apparently brilliant, shy little girl and herself were so much alike. How much of what Faith herself showed to the outside world was just an act. An act she had created to survive. She didn't know how to react to this girl, who openly spoke about the worst things in her life to her, a stranger, a convicted murderer. Faith simply nodded.

"You have to face him, Faith. He must be wondering why you won't talk to him," she said with a surprisingly amount of confidence in her tone.

Faith shook her head. "I-I can't." She stared at her in the eyes. "It's not *only* for what he has done for me, Fred. What he has done for me is beyond what I would call a hero. Dictionary hasn't got a word for it . . . It . . . It's also seeing him, lying there helpless. His pain, his wounds. I can't stand it and I can't bare it. It triggers too many bad memories and I already can't sleep without having nightmares."

Fred smiled shyly. "You don't have to see him now, Faith. You and he will have to heal, but don't wait too long . . ."


Day's went by

They had given her free of Slayer duty, so that she could recover herself, mentally. Faith wanted to make herself useful, but they told her that it was wrong to face the horrors of the night so quickly after having faced her own. So she helped with research and did some training with the guys. It wasn't really satisfying and her recovering went slower than she had hoped for as the strong memories of what they did to her and Xander were still vivid.

Recovering for Xander was not any better. His eyes were red as he was completely rushed out.


Faith woke up from her usual nightmare. This time the nightmares was different then before the 'rescue'. Instead of seeing one of her former victims come in and blaming her for what she had done or being abused again by the guards, she was witnessing Xander again. Being tortured by the electric current. Hearing him scream, louder and louder and that she would run away from it, to escape it. Then she woke up, bathing in sweat. It was still about 3.00 am, but she couldn't sleep anymore, she was too frightened for it. She stepped out of her bed and walked over to Xander's room. She silently moved in and watched him. She shook her head, she still couldn't believe it. After a while she saw him move. First a little, but more and more in a short time. Then she heard him scream, every time a short loud burst of sound as if he was being tortured again.

<Fuck! He has nightmares about it too!> She watched him sweating and screaming for a short while, until she couldn't stand it anymore. She moved over, pushed up the blanked and slipped under it. She laid on her side, staring at his face and then she moved her hand to caress his cheek. He calmed down visibly because of it. When she noticed that he was able to sleep peacefully again, a tear appeared in her eyes and rolled down over her cheek. She laid her head in the crook of his neck and stared at the ceiling. <I will take care of you, Xander, 'till you recover fully . . .. 'till your nightmares have faded away. At day you won't see me much, I will be too tired to stay up whole day. You might never know, but at night *I* will be there for you . . . I will watch you just like you did all this time for me . . . Make sure you will get your rest . . . I will take care of you . . . always . . .>